This is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Books I Read This Week:

Not Less Than Gods by Kage Baker

This is part of a series. I didn’t know that when I checked it out or I wouldn’t have read it. I don’t like starting in the middle. In this case I didn’t feel like I was missing any vital information though.

In 1800s London there is a secret society that receives yearly instructions from a future technologically driven age. They make sure that history happens in the way that the future society wants in exchange for explanations of advanced technology that they use for their own purposes. A team of four spies from this group are traveling through Europe in advance of the Crimean War. One of them starts to question if what they are doing (an assassination here or there) is a case of the ends not justifying the means.

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira.

Mary Sutter is a midwife in Albany NY at the start of the Civil War. She has been turned down by medical schools and no surgeon will apprentice her because she is a woman. When the war breaks out she heads to Washington DC determined to work in the union hospitals.

This is an interesting take on Civil War history and women’s history. It seems to be well researched. But overall I wasn’t crazy about it. I wasn’t drawn into the story. I wonder if I had heard so many people talk about how much they loved it that my expectations were too high. I prefer
The Midwife by Gay Courter. This book is about a midwife in the early 1900s in New York. It also combines medical history and women’s history.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake:

The stories of three women in 1941 on the eve of the U.S. Entry into WWII intertwine. One is a postmistress on Cape Cod, one is the newlywed left behind when her husband volunteers to be a surgeon in British hospitals, and one is a war correspondant in Europe.

I was most interested in the journalist’s story. It gave an immediacy to the experience of the London Blitz and the attempts of Jews to flee Germany. This put a face on the experience of living through a war much more than the Mary Sutter book did.

Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America – and Found Unexpected Peace by William Lobdell.

That subtitle sums up this book. I saw this mentioned on Joy’s blog last Monday and had to read it since it seemed similar to my experience. The main difference was that the author was an adult convert to Christianity. He eventually found his faith weakened as he was exposed to people who were victimized by their churches.

“Spiritual suicide infers that people make a conscious decision to abandon their faith. Yet it isn’t simply a matter of will. Many people want desperately to believe, but just can’t. They may feel tortured that their faith has evaporated, but they can’t will it back into existence. If an autopsy could be done on their spiritual life, the cause of death wouldn’t be murder or suicide. It would be natural causes – the organic death of a belief system that collapsed under the weight of experience and reason.

I love that paragraph. It sums up what it is like to lose a faith that was an integral part of you.

Rick Steves’ Venice 2010 !!! I made a list of few months ago of things I wanted to do and Venice was the big one. I think, the way things are looking now, maybe, possibly, cross your fingers, that we may go this fall.

I downloaded this onto my iPad to get a feel of the city and to try to figure out where we want to stay.

The Sorcerer’s House by Gene Wolfe. Baxter has just been released from prison and is squatting in an old house. When he goes to inquire about the owner he is surprised to hear that it has been deeded to him. He soon finds that he is sharing the house with many mystical creatures. The story is told in the form of letters that Bax sends and receives from his estranged twin brother, his sister in law, and his former cellmate.

I liked this book. It kept you guessing until the end. Easy read and entertaining.

Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life by Thich Nhat Hanh and Lilian Cheung.

I ended up just skimming this book. It might be ok if you had never heard any Buddhist teaching or nutritional teaching but it was way too basic for me. I haven’t applied most of it 🙂 but there is nothing here that I haven’t heard before.