Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Review: 360 Degrees Longitude

I read this book as part of my local book club.  It was not a book I probably would have chosen off the shelf and to be honest, when I first heard what it was about, I didn't think I would like it.  But I gave it a read anyway and was wrong--I really liked it.

This is the story of the Higham family--John, his wife, September, and their two children, Katrina and Jordan.  The kids were 11 and 8 at the beginning of the book, respectively.  The book follows their year-long journey traveling around the world, a trip they had planned and saved for over 10 years.

They began their journey in Iceland, traveling on to Europe, Asia, Africa, Central America, and South America.  As much as possible, the Highams tried to travel as locals and either camped or stayed in hostels at most places they visited.  Along the way, they met unforeseen obstacles, difficulties, and sometimes dangerous situations. 

The story is told from the perspective of John, with occasional excerpts from the travel journals of Katrina and Jordan.  John is very witty and I found myself giggling throughout the book at his observations and comments.  His writing style alone made the book worth reading.  Although not the most "formal" or cohesive of writers, he was very entertaining.

One of the neatest aspects of the book was the ability to follow their travels on Google Earth.  You followed the link and were able to read extras as well as see pictures of the different places they visited.  I stayed up until midnight last night just looking at their photos on Google!

Like any good book, this one made me think.  First of all, I thought they were a little crazy to take an 8 year old and 11 year old on a year-long trip around the world!  But then I thought about all the instances of poverty he discussed.  It's easy to dwell on what we don't have, when compared to most of the world's population, we in the United States are extremely wealthy.  At one point in the book, he said the tourists in the poor African countries spend in one day what is often a years worth of wages to the locals.  That's hard to imagine. 

There are certain places in the world (such as Switzerland, Czech Republic) that I have always wanted to visit.  The book reinforced my wish to visit those places.  There are other places that I do not wish to visit (China) and the book confirmed those feelings.  It also made me add a few places to my list of locations I would like to visit someday (the Incan trail in Peru). 

I admire the Highams for their travels and for leaving behind all the activities that seem to be beneficial (Little League, church, PTO, etc.) but instead sometimes seem to eat away at time together as a family.  I wish I could be that adventurous but don't think I could camp that long or stay in some of the places they stayed in!

I really enjoyed this book and am glad it was recommended.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Whoever coined the term "the lazy days of summer" sure wasn't living my life!  So far the summer has been fast, furious, and one thing after another. 

The Thursday after returning from Oklahoma City for Memorial  Day, I got word that my grandfather, Pop, had been killed in a farming accident.  I spent the next week and a half in Sentinel.  It was a very draining time, both emotionally, mentally, and physically.  It is still hard to believe that he's gone.  However, I have peace knowing he's with his Father in Heaven and that one day I will see him again.  But as the song "When I Get Where I'm Going" says, when I get to Heaven, I'll tell him "....how much I've missed him every minute since he left..."

The next week after I got home was VBS at our church.  We had a great week and the music (which I co-lead) was terrific.  However, it was very tiring and the afternoons were spent playing catch-up for all the things I got behind on while in Sentinel.  This week I am getting my house clean and organized so hopefully the rest of the summer I can enjoy and not have 5000 things to do. (I know, good luck with that!)

One enjoyable summer activity has been Kinley's softball team.  They have done very well and Kinley has improved so much.  The last two games, she's even gotten homeruns.  I just wish they wouldn't make the tournament last so long.  I think she's getting a little ready for it to be over and I don't want her to burn out. 

Reese is supposed to leave for church camp today but was sick all day yesterday.  He's not up yet so hopefully he'll be better when he wakes up.  I hope so!

I hope everyone is having a great summer!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Book Review: The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady

The premise of "The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady" is an 80 year old woman, Marylou, obsessed with exacting revenge on the doctor who gave her radioactive cocktails at a free clinic she attended while pregnant in the 1950's.  She had a daughter who died at age 8.  She finds the doctor living in Tallahassee with his daughter and her family, who each have their own issues to deal with.  Wilson, the doctor, is in the early stages of dementia and doesn't seems to remember Marylou or the situation. 
This book had potential but didn't really live up to it.  It had it's moments but as a whole didn't really work.  The ending was very abrupt and unbelievable.  There were also several loose ends that were left untied at the end.  The issues the family members were dealing with were very serious but were either dealt with unsatisfactorily ( to me) or left hanging.  I think the book would have been better if she had narrowed the focus of the book and not tried to deal with so many issues.