Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ice Hunt by James Rollins

First sentence:

The USS Polar Sentinel was gliding through the dark ocean.

Description:

"Buried deep in the earth's polar ice cap -- carved into a moving island of ice twice the size of the United States -- is the site of a remarkable experiment that blurred the line between life and death. Abandoned for more than seventy years, Ice Station Grendel -- the twisted brainchild of the finest minds of the former Soviet Union -- was designed to be inaccessible and virtually invisible.

But an American undersea research vessel, the Polar Sentinel, has inadvertently pulled too close. And a crew member has seen something alive inside, something whose survival defies every natural law.

As scientists, soldiers, intelligence operatives of two powerful nations, and unsuspecting civilians alike are drawn into Grendel's lethal vortex, no measures undertaken to protect its mysteries will be considered too extreme. Because the terrible truths locked behind submerged walls of ice and steel could forever alter humankind's future. . .or destroy it. -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this fast-paced thriller set in the Arctic. The story switches seamlessly between different protagonists, and it's easy to get caught up in the action.

Date read: 12/23/2014
Book #: 45
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Thriller

ISBN-10: 0060521600
ISBN-13: 9780060521608
Publisher: Avon Books
Year: 2003
# of pages: 505
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
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Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen

First sentence:

"He is coming for me."

Description:

"For untold years, the perfectly preserved mummy had lain forgotten in the dusty basement of Boston’s Crispin Museum. Dubbed “Madam X,” the recently rediscovered mummy is, to all appearances, an ancient Egyptian artifact. But medical examiner Maura Isles discovers a macabre message hidden within the corpse–horrifying proof that this “centuries-old” relic is instead a modern-day murder victim. When the grisly remains of two other women are found, it becomes clear to Maura and Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli that a maniac is at large. Now Maura and Jane must unravel a murderer’s twisted endgame before the Archaeology Killer adds another chilling artifact to his monstrous collection." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this thriller set in a museum and featuring Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles. I especially liked how they followed the clues to places far and near.

Date read: 12/19/2014
Book #: 44
Series: Rizzoli & Isles
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Thriller

ISBN-10: 0345509390
ISBN-13: 9780345497635
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Year: 2008
# of pages: 418
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea by Gary Kinder

First sentence:

"As was his habit each morning, James Marshall rose early to walk the gravel bar along his millrace to see if the water was yet deep enough and swift enough to turn the wheel for the sawmill he had built for John Sutter."

Description:

"In one of the most exciting adventure stories of our time, Gary Kinder combines maritime disaster with visionary underwater technology. In September 1857, the SS Central America, a side-wheel steamer carrying passengers returning from the gold fields of California, went down during a hurricane off the Carolina coast. It would be the worst peacetime disaster at sea in American history, claiming more than 400 lives and 21 tons of gold. In the 1980s a maverick engineer named Tommy Thompson set out to find the wreck of the Central America and salvage its treasure from the ocean floor.

With nail-biting suspense, Kinder reconstructs the terror of the Central America's last days, when passengers bailed sea water from the hold, then chopped up the ship's timbers to use as impromptu life rafts before being cast into the sea themselves. He goes on to chronicle Thompson's epic quest for the lost vessel, an enterprise marked by hair-raising weather, the hostility of the deep ocean at 8,000 feet, highly experimental technology, and unscrupulous rival treasure-hunters. The result is a magnificent tale, filled with heroism, entrepreneurialism, and perseverance." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book about a shipwreck - both the history of the wreck and what led to it, and the struggle to find the wreck over a century later.

Date read: 12/15/2014
Book #: 43
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Nonfiction

ISBN-10: 0375703373
ISBN-13: 9780375703379
Publisher: Vintage Books
Year: 1998
# of pages: 507
Binding: Trade Paperback
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Sunday, December 14, 2014

As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling by Anne Serling

First sentence:

"The last time I saw my father, it was 1975."

Description:

In Twilight Zone reruns, I search for my father in the man on the screen, but I can’t always find him there. Instead, he appears in unexpected ways. Memory summoned by a certain light, a color, a smell—and I see him again on the porch of our old red lakeside cottage, where I danced on the steps as a child.

To Anne Serling, the imposing figure the public saw hosting The Twilight Zone each week, intoning cautionary observations about fate, chance, and humanity, was not the father she knew. Her fun-loving dad would play on the floor with the dogs, had nicknames for everyone in the family, and was apt to put a lampshade on his head and break out in song. He was her best friend, her playmate, and her confidant.

After his unexpected death at 50, Anne, just 20, was left stunned. Gradually, she found solace for her grief—talking to his friends, poring over old correspondence, and recording her childhood memories. Now she shares personal photos, eloquent, revealing letters and beautifully rendered scenes of his childhood, war years, and their family’s time together. Idyllic summers in upstate New York, the years in Los Angeles, and the myriad ways he filled their time with laughter, strength, and endearing silliness—all are captured here with deep affection and candor.

Though begun in loss, Anne’s story is a celebration of her extraordinary relationship with her father and the qualities she came to prize through him—empathy, kindness, and an uncompromising sense of social justice. As I Knew Him is a lyrical, intimate tribute to Rod Serling’s legacy as visionary, storyteller, and humanist, and a moving testament to the love between fathers and daughters. -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

This is a wonderful biography of Rod Serling and memoir of his daughter Anne. Like many, I am a Twilight Zone fan, and this book revealed not just how the show began but Rod's heart and interest in telling the stories he wanted to tell.

Date read: 12/13/2014
Book #: 42
Rating: 4*/5 = great
Genre: Memoir/Biography

ISBN-10: 0806536152
ISBN-13: 9780806536156
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp.
Year: 2013
# of pages: 276
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing page

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

First sentence:

"There was a time in Africa the people could fly."

Description:

Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world.

Hetty "“Handful" Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.
As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved." -- Amazon.com

My thoughts:

I liked this book about the Grimke sisters and the early years of abolition and women's rights. I also liked learning about African customs through Handful and her mother Charlotte.

Date read: 11/29/2014
Book #: 41
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Historical Fiction

ISBN-10: 0670024783
ISBN-13: 9780670024780 
Publisher: Penguin Books
Year: 2014
# of pages: 373
Binding: Trade Paperback
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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Daddy's Girl by Lisa Scottoline

First sentence:

"Nat Greco felt like a cup in a double-D bra."

Description:

"Natalie Greco loves being a teacher, even though she can't keep her students from cruising sex.com during class. She loves her family, too, but her boyfriend fits in better with the football-crazy Grecos than she does. Then a colleague, handsome Angus Holt, talks Nat into teaching a class at a local prison, and her world turns upside down.

A violent prison riot breaks out, and Nat rushes to save the life of a mortally wounded guard whose last words are: "Tell my wife it's under the floor." Nat delivers the cryptic message, but before she knows it, she's suspected of murder and hiding from cops and killers alike. She is forced on the run to solve the riddle of the dead man's last words and to save her own life—and find real love." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this fast-pace thriller. It had many twists and the characters were engaging. I especially liked the way Nat gained strength and confidence.

Date read: 11/1/2014
Book #: 40
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre; Thriller

ISBN-10: 0060833157
ISBN-13: 9780060833152
Publisher: HarperCollins
Year: 2007
# of pages: 378
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Chasing Shackleton by Tim Jarvis

First sentence:

"I thought I knew Antarctica by now."

Description:

"In this extraordinary adventure memoir and tie-in to the PBS documentary, Tim Jarvis, one of the world's leading explorers, describes his modern-day journey to retrace, for the first time ever—and in period clothing and gear—the legendary 1914 expedition of Sir Ernest Shackleton.

In early 1914, British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and his team sailed for Antarctica, attempting to be the first to reach the South Pole. Instead of glory, Shackleton and his crew found themselves in an epic struggle for survival: a three-year odyssey on the ice and oceans of the Antarctic that endures as one of the world’s most famous tales of adventure, endurance, and leadership ever recorded.

In the winter of 2013, celebrated explorer Tim Jarvis, a veteran of multiple polar expeditions, set out to recreate Sir Ernest Shackleton’s treacherous voyage over sea and mountain, outfitted solely with authentic equipment—clothing, boots, food, and tools—from Shackleton’s time, a feat that has never been successfully accomplished.

Shackleton's Epic is the remarkable record of Jarvis and his team’s epic journey. Beautifully designed and illustrated with dozens of photographs from the original voyage and its modern reenactment, it is a visual feast for readers and historians alike, and an essential new chapter in the story that has inspired adventurers across every continent for a century." -- from Amazon.com

My thoughts:

I enjoyed reading this adventure that recreated Shackleton's voyage and mountain crossing. After I read the book, I saw and enjoyed the documentary which included Jarvis and his crew toasting Shackleton at his grave on South Georgia island.

Date read: 10/24/2014
Book #: 39
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Nonfiction/Adventure

ISBN-10: 0062282735
ISBN-13: 9780062282736
Publisher: William Morrow
Year: 2014
# of pages: 272
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing page