Monday, March 27, 2006

From my "Borrowed Books" Shelf...........

Is this really what the word "Hoosier" means? An interesting discovery..........(this is a copy of today's entry in my regular journal)

A friend of Thomas' who knows I collect old books loaned me an old, old dictionary that had been in his family for many years. It is entitled NEW DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE 1926 EDITION, and has the indented alphabet tabs like they used to have. The title page says "Collier's New Dictionary of the English Language Based on the Principles of Lexicography Adopted by Noah Webster LL.D." It says that it was "Carefully Revised by John Vaughn PhD., LL.D", then it says "45th Edition Revised by Adam Ward." (That's a little confusing. Apparently it was carefully revised by one man, then simply revised by another.) At the bottom of the page it says "This book is NOT published by the original publishers of Webster's Dictionary, nor by their successors, but published by P.F. Collier & Son Company New York." Whew! Glad they kept that straight! Anyway.........

It is filled with all the interesting things that you can find in good dictionaries, like weight and measurement tables, origin of the English language and principles of English Grammar, etc. But in the back were also some sections that you don't always see, such as: Glossary of Radio Terms (remember this was in 1926); Foreign Words, Phrases and Proverbs; Commercial and Legal Terms; Aviation Terms (with a lot of words dealing with hot-air balloons!); Automobile Terms; Base Ball Terms (yes, it was two separate words, not baseball); Golf Terms; American Casualties in the World War (remember, there had only been one world war at that time); Types of Motor Car Bodies; Famous Characters in Poetry and Prose; The Names of the States and Their Meanings, and much, much more! But the section that I found very interesting was this one: The Nicknames of the States and the Reason.

Now, I am a Kentuckian by birth. I am still a Kentuckian at heart, but for the past 15 years we have lived in Southern Indiana, so I am a Hoosier by address. (Most people refer to this area as Kentuckiana.) I have always been interested in what the word "hoosier" means and where it comes from. If you do a web search you will find that the guesses, some scholarly, some just plain funny, are numerous -- one for every day of the year! And no two people seem to agree on the origin. But now this little dictionary, published in 1926 has given me a definition -- one that I've decided to adopt. Why? Because I like this dictionary. It's a nice, comfortable old tome, that went to a lot of trouble to give me all the information I would ever have needed to know about the world in 1926, and so I choose to honor it by accepting its definition of the word "hoosier". And furthermore it states that definition in a very-plain-no-room-for-doubt-will-brook-no-argument sentence, on page 1,074. It says, "Indiana -- 'The Hoosier State,' from the word 'hoosher,' a word applied by the merchants of New Orleans to Indiana boatmen because of their boisterous manners and perpetual bragging. [Creole-French.]

So there!

I hope no one out there can burst my bubble. But if I do happen to have any French Creole readers who could verify that, I'd appreciate it. Either way, that is what I'm going to say when asked what the word means.

I wonder what the Indiana boatmen were always bragging about, though? What did they have to brag about that the Ohio boatmen or any other boatmen didn't have to brag about? Or did they just brag about everything and nothing in particular? Ah! The mystery continues!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

From my Audio Shelves..........

Over the past two years I have developed an appreciation for audio books. Of course, I've always enjoyed them in the car, and have checked them out at the local library to listen to during my drive time. But since I've gone back to work full time I have discovered how much enjoyment it can be to listen to them at work, while keying. I have started purchasing audio books of all genres on cassette, cd and MP3, usually from ebay. I won't spend more than just a few bucks on one, and I consider it money well-spent. I have built up quite a library at work that I have made available to the other members of my team. They call me the librarian there.

So I am going to write about one of my audio books..............

DEJA DEAD by Kathy Reichs

My copy of DEJA DEAD on audio is an unabridged copy on cassette and is read by Amy Irving. DEJA DEAD, published in 1997 by Scribner (paperback in 1998 by Pocket Books; audio book in 1997 by Simon & Schuster Audio) is the first novel published by Dr. Kathy Reichs, forensic anthropologist for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, State of North Carolina, and for the Laboratoire des Sciences Judiciaires et de Medecine Legale for the province of Quebec. She is also an anthropology proffesser.

The main character of DEJA DEAD is Dr. Temperance Brennan, a character fashioned after Dr. Kathy Reichs, herself. If you like watching CSI and like reading books that are like CSI, then you will love DEJA DEAD; and you will develop an affection for Tempe Brennan. She is a believable character and the plot line is detailed, exciting, just a little bit "gross"; just like CSI, only you get the descriptions of what they're working with in detail, instead of just seeing quick shots of what is acceptable to show on TV!

We discover that Dr. Tempe Brennan is the mother of a college-age daughter, Katy, and is amicably separated from her husband, Pete. We are also introduced to her cat, Birdie. In the beginning of DEJA DEAD Tempe is planning a June weekend of sightseeing around Montreal, but has to postpone that because she has to examine a body that has just been discovered. The body is on a site where some historical buriels had been found in the past; so initially she is supposed to just determine whether it, too, is an archaeological case or a more recent death that the coroner's office will need to investigate. Well, it is quickly made apparent that the decapitated and badly mutilated corpse is a recent homicide. What's more, there is something about the corpse and the crime scene that is familiar to Tempe. As the investigation continues she begins to suspect a serial killer.

It is very amazing to me how many details of a person can be learned from just examining small bits of evidence. Tempe finally establishes the identity of this victim. During the investigation Tempe has to battle to convince the Montreal police, and one inspector in particular, that there really is a connection between this victim and victims of other unsolved cases; that there is a serial killer loose in Montreal and that he will kill again.

We are also introduced to Tempe's friend, Gabby, a cultural anthropologist, who is undercover and getting deeply involved in something dangerous, and who is becoming very scared of a possible stalker. When Gabby disappears shortly after alluding to this fear, Tempe is worried at first, and then mostly just annoyed. Gabby has done this type of thing before.

When more evidence turns up pointing to a serial killer, the police finally start to take Tempe seriously. Will it be too late? Will Tempe start to get too close? Will the killer come after her? After Gabby? After Katy?(Well, what do you think?)

I love the details Reichs gives, even the sordid ones! She is a very impassioned storyteller, as well. We enter right into Tempe's frustrations, fears, joys, and sympathies. The storyline keeps the reader gripped right from the beginning; it is a fast, suspenseful, nail-biting ride, with a satisfying end.

The other character we are introduced to is Lieutenant Detective Andrew Ryan of the Quebec Province Police Force. He is very skillfully woven into the storyline. There is obvious attraction between the two, as well as irritation on Tempe's part with Ryan's reputation as a "lady's man". But the reader must, from the start, take a liking to Andrew Ryan. We look forward to seeing if a relationship will develop and where it may go. While inserting this dynamic into the storyline, Reichs does not turn this into a romance story (although one sees the potential for quite a romance between the two).

DEJA DEAD is the first of several Tempe Brennan novels. I enjoyed it on audio book. Amy Irving did a good job as reader, although on subsequent listenings my opinion changed slightly. (More on that in furture entries.)

Click here for more on Kathy Reichs and her novels.

*Note: This season's new Fox show Bones, is taken from Reichs' books. I have not seen it yet, so I don't know if I'll like it or not. I have a feeling there will be too many things changed for my liking, but I'll give it a try.

Monday, March 6, 2006

Featured Author of the Week.................


She was born August 16, 1902 in Wimbledon, England and published her first novel at the age of 19.

Although she is mostly known for her Regency novels, she also wrote several Georgian period novels, one biography of William the Conqueror, one set during the reign of Charles II, four Post-World War I novels (contemporary to her life), one collection of short stories, and eleven mysteries.

As I said, though, she is probably best known for her Regency period novels -- the Comedy of Manners-type works, and witty romances. I do appreciate and enjoy Jane Austen, but while Jane Austen wrote about the time in which she was living, Heyer wrote from in-depth research and her love of the period; and it shows. She is appreciated for the interesting wit, humor and absurdities of her characters, her twisting plots, colorful use of Regency cant and her knowledge of the customs, culture, political landscape and class distinctions of the period.

I have been a huge fan of Heyer since about 1980. I had obtained a few of her books over the years, but in 2005 seriously started building a collection of her work, mostly buying from Ebay and Amazon, but also making finds at flea markets, thrift stores and yard sales. I almost have a complete collection. Of her 55 books I have at least one copy, and sometimes more, of 53 of them. This is a pretty good website for anyone who likes Heyer. It is appropriate that my first featured author be Heyer because of the many shelves in my house filled with her books. I am also a member of an online Georgette Heyer book discussion group.

Georgette's grandfather was Russian, and the name "Heyer" was originally pronounced, as most people pronounce it today, as "high-er". But during World War I the family changedthe pronunciation to sound lessGerman and it was pronounced to sound like "hair". Georgette herself pronounced it that way. But it is very hard for me to do so. I didn't know about the war-years' pronunciation change when I first became a fan, so when I found out that she herself pronounced it to rhyme with "fair" I tried to do so. But it automatically comes to my mind or out of my mouth as rhyming with "flyer". I'm trying, though.

Georgette was the eldest of three children. Her brothers were Boris and Frank. Her father, George Heyer, was a teacher at King's College School. Coming soon will be a review of her first book, THE BLACK MOTH.

Patricia Veryan is another one of my favorites; I place her beside Heyer, neither above nor below. She has her own unique style for writing Georgian and Regency period novels. I have also started a collection of her books and will be talking about them in the future.

Clare Darcy is the only modern author of the Regency Novel that I would put directly below Heyer and Veryan. Most, and I do mean MOST, modern writers of Regency romance do not know the period well at all. They get too many things wrong and most of the books read as if they have been thrown together. Once in a while I come across one that is pretty good, and when I do I will share it here. A trend of modern Regency authors that I truly do not like is putting in graphic scenes depicting sexual encounters. It is unnecessary. Neither Heyer, nor Veryan, nor Darcy had to do so to tell warm, romantic, funny love stories.

I will definitely be writing a lot about Heyer and her books. I hope I have some readers out there who will enjoy it, and I'd like to hear from you, even if you don't know or care for Heyer, or if you don't agree with anything I've said. Here are some other websites readers may find interesting:

Note* On this past Saturday, October 12, 2007, I got a copy of Pastel that I won on Ebay, so now I have at least one copy of all but one of her books.

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Friday, March 3, 2006

From my Contemporary Romance Shelves........


By LaVyrle Spencer

This book was published in 1997 and was a New York Times Bestseller. I read it for the first time about 10 years ago and fell in love with it. If you haven't read it, do so!

It is the story of a successful country music singer who returns to her small town to help care for her aging mother after hip surgery. She has to deal with the much slower, less hectic pace, her two sisters, one of which continues to resent her and her success, her mother who enjoys living in the past and her mom's next door neighbor, a boy she went to school with. The story is great and so is the romance!

I have a paperback copy and an audio cassette. The audio is abridged, however, and is nowhere near as good as the actual book. I'm going to try to find an unabridged copy.