Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lost in Shangri-La: Book Review

Lost in Shangri-La
By Mitchell Zuckoff

Lost in Shangri-La, takes place in New Guinea. There is a military army base at the end of WW2.  On May 13, 1945, 24 military men, and women decide they want to take a fun trip. They want to take a pleasure trip into the valley, known as Shangri-La. There is plenty stories that has come out of the valley.

They are flying on the Gremlin Special into the valley, and then a fatal crash occurs.   Of the 24 men and women, only three survive the plane crash. The three are hurt very badly, Margaret Hastings, John McCollum, and  Kenneth Decker, are severely wounded.

How they trek on foot with their multiple injuries in the jungle. Worried they will succumb to health problems. Such as gangrene, sepsis, and eventually loosing their leg, and possibly death. How they were able to survive.

But, not only do they have to worry about the Japanese, and the jungle elements. But, the natives from a "lost Civilization". They come upon natives that are friendly as well as cannibals and headhunters.

It is a interesting story about how these three connect with the natives. The natives think they are g-ds that fell from the sky. They are from a lost civilization, where life is primitive.

We learn about how the rescue happened instead of a plane they used the invention of a glider, into the jungle. How they found the right people for the rescue team, and what difficulties happened along the way.

The story is not just about the survivor's survival, but a lost civilization of natives they met.
The author uses Margaret's journal that was found, to thell about their survival, the planned rescue, the culture of the natives, that lived in Shangri-La.

After the rescue this lost civilization, what happened to the lost civilization of Shangri-La? During the time the three were living in Shangri-La, there was air drops of necessities. The natives were curious of course.  They wanted to become civilized.  The world came to them, and modernized the natives.

The ending tells what happened to the natives, the survivors, and the rescuers. What fame did to them, etc. The book reminded me of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I wanted to read this because, I wanted to read something different.  If you want to read to transport you,to someplace else than this is it.   I am glad I read this book.  I highly recommend.

If you want to supplement your reading, go to the author's website. There are videos that show the interesting rescue of the three survivors on the Gremlin Special.

 This copy was borrowed from the library.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Bit Late: Book Tribute to Moms

Please Look After Mom
By kyung-sook shin

  One day a elderly woman is lost on the subway in Seoul.  One minute she is behind her husband the next minute he can't find her. The story narrative is each childs thoughts and feeling of their mother's journey during the time she is lost.

  Where did she go all this time? Why can't we find her? How can our father loose our mother, and not know where she went? These are questions are asked all through the novel.

One of the children could not separate their mother from the kitchen. The one son thought her mother had no life, but living in the kitchen.

Her daughter thought her mother was in misery, but she was happy in her life.

 Her eldest son needs a important certificate. But, it can't get to him. So, she decides she is going to trek and get it for him.  What a mother will do to sacrifice for her own child.

 Her children, I thought were very selfish, and did not have the time to appreciate, and care what happened to their mother. But, come to the realization while they are trying to find their mother, that she was a selfless, devoted and caring, and, do almost anything if her child needed her,

All the children realize toward the end of the story that they really don't know their mother.

At the end do we really know our mothers? Do we know they have another life outside of their children and their husband? Would we make sacrifices for our children? Most mothers do.

I don't want to tell you the end of the story. It has a unique ending.  I thought this book was a nice effort to give tribute to all mothers. It is a mystery, suspense, and a literary story.

Would I rare about it, probably not. But, I am still glad I read it, becuase it made me appreciate my mother. I hope there will be other books that will be a love story to our mothers.  Here is the NYTimes thoughts on this novel.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Club Discussion: Left Neglected

Our book club had their discussion with Left Neglected.  We had 14 people come to the meeting. It was a bit too much. There is one lady, she is our favorite. She is a snowbird, so everyone was glad to see her. But, the true problem she was talking to one of the members almost the entire time.  It was disturbing the others.  I did not want to say anything, because we were all glad to see her. But, maybe next time who ever is leading will say something.

I was the moderator for this meeting. I loved this book and knew there would be alot to talk about.  The story was about a woman that was career oriented, overachiever, that wanted it all. She wanted to be able to have a family, and work 80 hours a week. Which is impossible in todays world. Something has to give. She was pressured from all sides, and felt guilty she could not give enough to her children.  At the same time, she learns that her son, Chalie may have ADHD. One day, Sarah turns her attention to her cell phone, and everything stops.
What we loved about the book was how do you juggle both your work and family? Is it possible to do both?   What was brought up, can a mother be a good mother working, and family at the same time. Some said yes, others said quality time is enough.

We all loved the relationship of the mother and the daughter. We all thought she made a more high powered independent woman because of her mother. Her mother was not there for Sara as she was growing up.

We like the rehabilitation phase, as this is when she learned about her self, and how to slow down and pay attention, and what was important to her.

 Left Neglect is a true complication from a head trauma or brain injury.  Your right side is effected, this makes your left side not aware of anything on your left side.  This leads to washing half of your face, Shaving half of your beard, half of your makeup, and see only half of your plate, you did not realize the other half.

We all liked the comparison between Sara's craziness and her son Charlie's ADHD. We liked how they were both hyper- couldn't concentrate, but by the end of the book the both  they were able to calm down.
Some members including myself talked about our children with ADHD.

Some women did not care for her Sarah,  and very critical, they voiced that Sarah had no business being a mother. You either be a mother or a career woman. You can't do both. This was a hot topic as you can imagine.

What we all liked was almost at the end of the book, how Sara was able to change her life, and take a breather and finally pay attention and take notice of things that really mattered.

We all enjoyed Left Neglected, and we would recommend it to everyone. It makes you take stock, and learn, what to pay attention to.  Good discussion for a book club. You can find Lisa's website at

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Scary Read: Night Stranger

The Night Stranger
By Chris Bohjalian

 Chip Linton, his wife Emily, and his two twin daughter, Hallie, and Garnet live in Pa.

Chip has been  a accomplished pilot for years. On his last flight tragedy occurs.  Some geese fly into the engines of the plane, and a forced landing occurs because of the stalled engines.  The plane strikes the water, and crashes into Lake Champlain in NY.   39 passenger die from the accident, including a few children.

Of course,after the accident Chip has tremendous guilt, and sadness and loss caused by the accident. He can't live without thinking about the victims.

His wife, Emily wants to uproot the family and start all over in  NH. Strange things start happening when the family move in.

Chip notices a door in the basement with 39 bolts. The same number of passengers that died on his flight.  He later learns that there are bones in the shaft behind the door, human bones. You find out, eventually about the house. The house takes it own personality.  The house had a family with twins. Whats up with twins? You keep reading, In the house, was it a suicide of one of the twins? Or was it murder?

Is Chip seeing ghosts,? or is he having a melt down?

The community of rural NH is strange. The town, the people, the women are not what they seem. Are they really herbalists?   What is going on in this town?

My Review:

I recieved a copy from Chris Bohjalian. I am a big fan of all his writing even before Oprah. I discovered his writing when I visited Martha's Vineyard many years ago.  I have read most of his books. He's books are social commentary novels, not ghost stories.  Psychological suspense  is not my genre, but willing to give it a try.

I thought it was interesting for the setting to be in NH,  Since the area is very secluded, this worked for the setting of the book as well as the character of so called herbalists, and witches.

The one part that annoyed me, was telling the story in the second person. I don't usually like to read book as second person. Second person gets me a bit confused, and have to reread the paragraph to get who they are talking about.


The novel is slow moving at first then builds up momentum of suspense, the 3/4 of the book it turns to something more.  Are the communal of herbalists, friends or foe? Why are the herbalists so friendly to the children? We find out later why the communal of women need the Linton family children.

   IT IS STEPFORD WIVES MEET STEPHEN KING. These community of women reminded me of the Stepford Wives, why you ask? They were living in a area with a small population.  The community of women and a few men were in on it.   Knowing what they were planning to do. But the main characters had no idea what was happening until it was too late, to get out.  That is why I said, that the NH was the perfect setting secluded, it would not have worked anywhere else.

 I finished The Night Stranger last night, a perfect setting, of  freezing cold, and blistery wind whipping through my house. This is the perfect read for this kind of setting. I just wish I had a cozy fireplace.

The story scared me, gave me goose bumps, and I practically jumped out of me skin when my son touched me, towards the end of the novel. I still enjoyed it, and I am still thinking about it after a few days.

I thought Chris was very creative and original writing The Night Stranger. I would recommend this novel if you like more than gothic, ghosts and psychological suspense. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pursue My Career

Today, I have to post something that has been troubling me for the last few days. 

There has been a lot of changes in my life, in the past few months. Many years ago, I left my profession of nursing, 1990. When my son was born.  I was burned out... I did not think I would ever want to go back to nursing again( RN). Big Mistake.

I worked as a floor nurse in 1980's. I worked on a surgical floor, then cardiac, and then worked as a Psychiatric nurse, in the VA Hosp in Florida. It just got to me.  I decided to become a stay at home mom till my son was 14. Then I decided to try being a caregiver to a elderly woman. I then decided to go back to school, and pursue something in the medical field again.

I tried Medical Coding, and decided the business end of the hospital was just not for me. I liked the patient-nurse contact. Then I decided to go back to nursing.

 I could not pursue, nursing as my license lapsed. I talked to the board of nursing. I felt like I forgot everything. I decided I wanted to go back to nursing school and start over.

All my friends were cheering me on, to go for it.  I decided to do it. I went back to college, and take some classes. I thought I could go right back into the nursing program, since it was 20 years, not so simple.   I got accepted in the nursing program, but thought I could re-learn everything since I have not practiced. I found out, I can't do it that way. Since, I already graduated nursing school, the only way is take a refresher course, or take the NCLEX again.

It turns out my friend, that was gongho for me to take courses and pursue my dream, is not so gongho.
I don't why but now, she is telling me I am crazy!! I am too old to think of this. Most people think about retiring now, not going back to nursing.  I am much younger than her. I don't know why she turned totally 360 degrees.

 I don't know if she is jealous, because she lost her dream. She is always telling me she is going to do something, to jumpstart her career, but then she procrastinates.  She has a idea, then she totally drops it. Then you don't hear about again. Then a few months later you hear about something else. 

In the next few months, the refresher course will start. I plan on going for it. But, she acts like I am not in reality. Do you realize how much it is going to cost? She then says, How are you going to pay for lodging? How are you going to get there? She thinks I am a child, I quess.  I have considered all these things. I don't know what her problem is saying this to me.

In January, I plan on going through with this. Finding out what I need to do. But, I don't need some friend bursting my bubble. Telling me it is ridiculous for a 53 year old woman to pursue her dream. I know plenty of women my age, that decide later in life to go back to their profession.

The review course I have to take will take me the most 6 months. But, so what, at least I am attempting it. If you sit back and don't try, you regret it for the rest of your life.

Thank you for letting me vent. I usually don't post things like this but I had to get it off my chest. Wish me luck!!