Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Milk Treading by Nick Smith

First sentence:

"Where the hell am I?"


Life isn't easy for Julius Kyle, a jaded crime hack with the Post. When he wakes up on a sand barge with his head full of grit he knows things have to change. But how fast they'll change he doesn't guess until his best friend Mick jumps to his death off a fifty-foot bridge outside the Post's window. Worst of all, he's a cat. That means keeping himself scrupulously clean, defending his territory and battling an addiction to milk.

Life isn't easy for a small cat with a big mouth, uttering words that could lead to a riot - or a war. So when the lovely Moira begs Julius for help, Julius is drawn brutally into a life he has only lived in his novels - the life of his hero sleuth Tiger Straight.

The cats live in a city called Bast, a sprawling world of alleyways and claw-shaped towers. Julius has to contend with political intrigue, territorial disputes and dog-burglars. For murder, mystery, mayhem and milk treading. . .join Julius has he prowls deeper and deeper into the crooked underworld of Bast." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this mystery set in a world of cats and dogs. I liked how Julian used his "cat smarts" to solve the mystery and how the characters interacted with each other.I look forward to reading the next book, The Kitty Killer Cult.

Date read: 1/28/2014
Book #: 5
Series: Kitty Society, #1
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 1842820370
ISBN-13:  9781842820377
Publisher: Luath Press Ltd.
Year: 2002
# of pages: 246
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddoe

First sentence:

"Oxford England, July 1869. Everyone thought she had made it ups, and she had tolerated more taunting and teasing from other children, more lectures and punishments from grown-ups, than any eleven-year-old should have to bear."


"The Myth:

Alice was an ordinary girl who stepped through the looking glass and entered a fairy-tale world invented by Lewis Carroll in his famous storybook.

The Truth:

Wonderland is real. Alyss Heart is the heir to the throne, until her murderous aunt Redd steals the crown and kills Alyss's  parents. To escape Redd, Alyss and her bodyguard, Hatter Madigan, must flee to our world through the Pool of Tears. But in the pool Alyss and Hatter are separated. Lost and alone in Victorian London, Alyss is befriended by an aspiring author to whom she tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Yet he gets the story all wrong. Hatter Madigan knows the truth only too well, and he is searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland so she may battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This book was a good take on the Alice in Wonderland story. I liked how Alyss and Hatter have to navigate in this world and how they and their friends work together to confront Redd. I look forward to reading the next book, Seeing Redd.

Date read: 1/17/2014
Book #: 4
Series: Looking Glass Wars, #1
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fantasy

ISBN-10: 0545049369
ISBN-13: 9780545049368
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Year: 2007
# of pages: 358
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page

Friday, January 10, 2014

Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler

First sentence:

"On Waverly Street, everybody knew everybody else."


In 1965, the happy Bedloe family is living an ideal, apple-pie existence in Baltimore. Then, in the blink of an eye, a single tragic event occurs that will transform their lives forever--particularly that of 17-year-old Ian Bedloe, the youngest son, who blames himself for the sudden "accidental" death of his older brother.

Depressed and depleted, Ian is almost crushed under the weight of an unbearable, secret guilt. Then one crisp January evening, he catches sight of a window with glowing yellow neon, the CHURCH OF THE SECOND CHANCE. He enters and soon discovers that forgiveness must be earned, through a bit of sacrifice and a lot of love." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book about family relationships, both good and bad. I especially liked the interactions between Caleb and Daphne.

Date read: 1/9/2014
Book #: 3
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0449911608
ISBN-13: 978044991600
Publisher: Random House
Year: 1996
# of pages: 337
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean

First sentence:

"As a child in the early 1980s, I tended to talk with things in my mouth - food, dentist's tubes, balloons that would fly away, whatever - and if no one else was around, I'd talk anyway."


"Why did Gandhi hate iodine (I, 53)? Why did the Japanese kill Godzilla with missiles made of cadmium (Cd, 48)? How did radium (Ra, 88) ruin Marie Curie’s reputation? And why did tellurium (Te, 52) lead to the most bizarre gold rush in history?

The periodic table is one of our crowning scientific achievements, but it’s also a treasure trove of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The fascinating tales in The Disappearing Spoon follow carbon, neon, silicon, gold, and every single element on the table as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, conflict, the arts, medicine, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.

Why did a little lithium (Li, 3) help cure poet Robert Lowell of his madness? And how did gallium (Ga, 31) become the go-to element for laboratory pranksters? The Disappearing Spoon has the answers, fusing science with the classic lore of invention, investigation, discovery, and alchemy, from the big bang through the end of time." -- from the book jacket

My thoughts:

This is a fascinating book about the elements placed in the context of their discovery and their impact on everything. I liked how Kean groups the elements in various contexts, such as medicine and money.

Date read: 1/7/2014
Book #: 2
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Nonfiction

ISBN-10: 0316051640
ISBN-13: 9780316051644
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Year: 2010
# of pages: 346
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing page

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

First sentence:

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again."


"Last Night I Dreamt I Went To Manderley Again."

"So the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter remembered the chilling events that led her down the turning drive past the beeches, white and naked, to the isolated gray stone manse on the windswept Cornish coast. With a husband she barely knew, the young bride arrived at this immense estate, only to be inexorably drawn into the life of the first Mrs. de Winter, the beautiful Rebecca, dead but never forgotten...her suite of rooms never touched, her clothes ready to be worn, her servant -- the sinister Mrs. Danvers -- still loyal. And as an eerie presentiment of evil tightened around her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter began her search for the real fate of Rebecca...for the secrets of Manderley." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a gripping book about identity as the nameless new wife tries to make sense of her place at Manderley, believing that she could never replace the memory of Rebecca. I enjoyed reading this book and seeing the 1940 Hitchcock film version starring Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine and Judith Anderson.

Date read: 1/3/2014
Book #: 1
Rating: 4*/5 = great
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0812416503
ISBN-13: 9780812416503
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Year: ?; 2006 [this edition]
# of pages: 416
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Thursday Next: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde

First sentence:

"The dangerously high level of the stupidity surplus was once again the lead story in The Owl that morning."


"Beloved for his prodigious imagination, his satirical gifts, his literate humor, and sheer silliness, Jasper Fforde has delighted book lovers since Thursday Next first appeared in The Eyre Affair, a genre send-up hailed as an instant classic. Since the no-nonsense literary detective from Swindon made her debut, literature has never been quite the same. Neither have nursery rhymes, for that matter. With two successful books of the Nursery Crime series under his belt, Fforde takes up once again the brilliant adventures of his signature creation in the highly anticipated fifth installment of the Thursday Next series. And it’s better than ever.

It’s been fourteen years since Thursday pegged out at the 1988 SuperHoop, and Friday is now a difficult sixteen year old. However, Thursday’s got bigger problems. Sherlock Holmes is killed at the Rheinback Falls and his series is stopped in its tracks. And before this can be corrected, Miss Marple dies suddenly in a car accident, bringing her series to a close as well. When Thursday receives a death threat clearly intended for her written self, she realizes what’s going on—there is a serial killer on the loose in the Bookworld. And that’s not all—The Goliath Corporation is trying to deregulate book travel. Naturally, Thursday must travel to the outer limits of acceptable narrative possibilities to triumph against increasing odds.

Packed with word play, bizarre and entertaining subplots, and old-fashioned suspense, Thursday’s return is sure to be celebrated by Jasper’s fanatical fans and the critics who have loved him since the beginning." -- from

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this latest installment in the Thursday Next series. I especially liked the interactions between Thursday and her previous incarnations, Thursday5 and Thursday1-4. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, One of Our Thursdays is Missing.

Date read: 12/20/2013
Book #: 37
Series: Thursday Next, #5
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0143113569
ISBN-13: 9780143113560
Publisher: Penguin
Year: 2008
# of pages: 384
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing page

Friday, November 22, 2013

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

First sentence:

"He is coming on the Lord's Day."


In her new novel Caleb's Crossing, Geraldine Brooks once again takes a shard of little known history and brings it vividly to life. In 1665, a young man from Martha's Vineyard became the first Native American graduate of Harvard College. From the few facts that survive of this extraordinary life, Brooks creates a luminous tale of passion and belief, magic and adventure.

The voice of Caleb's Crossing belongs to Bethia Mayfield, growing up in the tiny island settlement of Great Harbor amid a small band of pioneering English Puritans. Posses of a restless spirit and a curious mind, Bethia slips the bounds of her rigid society to explore the island's glistening beaches and observe its native inhabitants. At twelve, she meets Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a secret bond that draws each into the alien world of the other.

Bethia's father is Great Harbor's minister, who feels called to convert the Wampanoag to his own strict Calvinism. He awakens the wrath of the medicine men, against whose magic he must test his faith in a high stakes battle that may cost his life and his very soul. Caleb becomes a prize in this contest between old ways and new, eventually taking his place at Harvard, studying Latin and Greek alongside the sons of the colonial elite. Bethia also finds herself in Cambridge at the behest of her imperious elder brother. As she fights for a voice in a society that requires her silence, she also becomes entangled in Caleb's struggle to navigate the intellectual and cultural shoals that divide their two cultures..

What becomes of these characters--the triumphs and turmoil they endure in embracing their new destinies--is the subject of this riveting and intensely observed novel. Like Brooks's beloved narrator Anna in Year of Wonders, Bethia proves and emotionally irresistible guide to the wilds of Martha's Vineyard and to the intimate spaces of the human heart. The narrative travels from the sparkling harbors of Martha's Vineyard to the mean, drafty dormitories of early Harvard and, as ever, Brooks buttresses her richly imagined fiction with the fascinating and meticulously researched detail that has brought her legions of readers and a Pulitzer Prize." -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

This was a fascinating book about the European-Native American encounters in 17th century New England. Brooks does a great job fleshing out the characters and giving a sense of what could have been if Caleb had survived.

Date read: 11/21/2013
Book #: 36
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Historical Fiction

ISBN-10: 0670021040
ISBN-13: 9780670021048
Publisher: Viking
Year: 2011
# of pages: 300
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing page