About Me

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I'm a single Mormon Democrat, an NPR & BBC news junkie, a dog lover, opera buff, bookavore, migraineur, knows just enough about technology to be a danger to myself, fan of James Bond and Godzilla. 

Micah 6:8; D&C 11:20 

"do justly, walk humbly, judge righteously."

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Reading around the world -- reading Jane Austen in Davis, California

Moving south from Lassen Volcanic National Park in northern California, I have arrived in the Sacramento Valley in Davis -- "the most bicycle friendly town in the world". 

For Davis, I read Karen Joy Fowler's book The Jane Austen Book Club. Other literary Davis natives are Peter S. Beagle (The Last Unicorn), John Lescroart (the Dismas Hardy novels), Deborah Madison (cookbook author), Kim Stanley Robinson (the Mars trilogy), Sean Stewart (Resurrection Man trilogy), and Zach Weiner (webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal).

The biggest employer in Davis is the University of California which has campus there. It is also the home of the California Northern Railroad.

The average temperature (year-round) is 47.8-74.7 Fahrenheit. The highest temperature ever recorded was 116 F in July 1925 and the lowest was 12 F in December 1932. 

Indeed, in the book, the climate is described as follows: 

"The climate in the Valley was classified as Mediterranean, which meant that everything died in the summer. The native grasses went brown and stiff. The creeks disappeared. The oaks turned gray."

The book is very entertaining, especially for a fan of Jane Austen like me. The book even came with a couple fun appendices, one all of quotes of people's opinions of Austen and her works.

The sense of place in the book was very good in places, not so good in others. Essentially the book is a book of people all linked by the wonderful Miss Jane. 

Please check out my review at Goodreads!

The mere habit of learning to love is the thing.
~Jane Austen

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Reading Around the World: Northern California's Lassen Volcanic National ParkThe

I've moved out of the Beaver State and into the Golden State - California.

When I searched for a book to read for Northern California, I was always directed to the Bay Area - San Francisco/Oakland and the environs. Yet, looking at the map, that seemed more like Central California. 

So, I looked at a map and one of the most northern places in California is Lassen Volcanic National Park. And, sure enough, Nevada Barr sends her character Anna Pigeon there in book #4 of her series that take place in national parks. 

What's more the book takes place in a wildfire at the national park.

In this book, Anna is working as an EMT for firefighters fighting a wildfire at the park. She and a group of firefighters get trapped after a flashover when a murder occurs. (Don't you hate it when that happens?) As she's trapped, she also has to investigate a murder while keeping herself and her fellows alive. 

Apart from the plot, which I really enjoyed, the scenery of the park and the description of fighting wildfires take central stage. Lassen Volcanic National Park is one of the oldest in the national park system and will celebrate its centennial next year. The volcano, Lassen Peak, last erupted in 1914-15. A fire actually occurred at the park in 2012. 

There are a few lakes near the area and quite a bit of geothermal activity. Lassen Peak is the dominant feature and the largest plug volcano in the world. There is also the Cinder Cone volcano. Additionally, there are boiling springs, mudpots, and fumaroles at the park.

I really enjoyed this mystery and can't wait to read more in the Anna Pigeon series. You can find my review of the book at Goodreads. Next I will be travelling south to Sacramento!