Friday, March 21, 2014

The Margarets by Sheri S Tepper

First sentence:

"Once a very long time ago, between fifty and a hundred thousand years, a small group of humans fleeing from predators took refuge in a cave."

Description:

"The myriad alien civilizations populating far, distant worlds have many good reasons to detest the blight called "humankind" . . .

The only human child living in a work colony on the Martian satellite Phobos, little Margaret Bain has invented six imaginary companions to keep boredom and loneliness at bay. Each an extension of her personality, they are lost to her when she is forced to return to Earth. But they are not gone.

The time will come when Margaret, fully grown and wed, must leave this dying world as well—this Earth so denuded by thoughtlessness and chemistry that its only viable export is slaves. For now Margarets are scattered throughout the galaxy. And their creator must bring her selves home . . . or watch the human race perish."  -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I liked this book about identities and working with others to make a difference. While at times the plot was confusing to me, at the end, it all came together nicely. I especially liked the part when the "Margarets" met each other and learned where they each came from.

Date read: 3/20/2014
Book #: 9
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: SF

ISBN-10: 0061170690
ISBN-13: 9780061170690
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Year: 2009 (Reprint)
# of pages: 528
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay

First sentence:

"Harry was in his little house on the edge of Back Bay when at half past twelve her voice came over the radio for the first time."

Description:

Harry Boyd, a hard-bitten refugee from failure in Toronto television, has returned to a small radio station in the Canadian North. There, in Yellowknife, in the summer of 1975, he falls in love with a voice on air. He soon discovers that the real woman, Dido Paris, is even more than he imagined.

Dido and Harry are part of the cast of eccentric, beguiling characters who form an unlikely group of colleagues at the station. As summer progresses, we gradually discover their loves and longings, their professional and personal rivalries, the stories of their pasts and what brought each of them to the North. When four of them embark on a canoe trip into the Arctic wilderness, tracing the journey of the ill-fated Englishman John Hornby, their lives are altered, much as the balance of power in the North is being changed by the proposed Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline, which threatens to rip open the Arctic and displace Native people from their land.

Hay has a skewering intelligence about the frailties of the human heart. Weaving stories from the past into the present, she builds a fresh, erotic, darkly witty and moving tale, replete with sentences that will stop you dead because of

Elizabeth Hay has been compared to Annie Proulx, Alice Hoffman, and Isabel Allende, yet she is uniquely herself. With unforgettable characters, vividly evoked settings, in this new novel, Hay brings to bear her  and her ability to tell a spellbinding story. Written in gorgeous prose, laced with dark humour, Late Nights on Air is Hay’s most seductive and accomplished novel yet.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book about people at a radio station in the Canadian North. I especially liked the interactions between the characters and the life-changing trip some of them make.

Date read: 3/11/2014
Book #: 8
Rating: 4*/5 = great
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0771040199
ISBN-13: 9780771040191
Publisher: Counterpoint
Year: 2008
# of pages: 364
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Avoiding Prison and Other Noble Vacation Goals by Wendy Dale

First sentence:

"I like to think that I'm a typical traveler, that my idea of a good trip is pretty much the same as the next guy's but every once in a while, something happens to make me suspect this isn't really the case."

Description:

"From salsa dancing in a rum-induced haze and struggling to exercise in Colombia (“the guerrillas were using the track again today”), to crossing international borders unconventionally and dodging bombs in Lebanon (“the good news was that they were ‘small bombs’”), Wendy somehow manages to find herself in the midst of hysterical, adventurous, and often illegal situations. Case in point—every time she heads to Costa Rica, she is forced to visit another prison. Although a jail may not be everyone’s idea of a place to find a date, Wendy soon falls in love with a man, a country, and its people and risks everything she has to clear his name.

Avoiding Prison and Other Noble Vacation Goals is a bumpy and hilarious ride in which Wendy discovers that a successful vacation—much like that elusive thing, happiness—can be found in some of the most unlikely places imaginable. -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

An amusing and sometimes poignant book about finding "home: in places near and far. I liked Dale's honesty as she recounted her adventures in the Middle East, the Caribbean and Latin America.

Date read: 2/15/2014
Book #: 7
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genres: Memoir / Travel

ISBN-10: 0609809830
ISBN-13: 9780609809839
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Year: 2003
# of pages: 326
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Ice Man by Ron Cutler

First sentence: 

"It was December."

Description:

"Snow was falling when they found her floating downriver. She was naked, still chained, her beauty forever frozen in a block of ice. Jason Briscoe, the man convicted of the crime, claims it wasn't murder. Just rough sex gone too far. Prison psychologist Holly Alexander agrees. Sex offenders are her specialty, and she approves the handsome Briscoe's parole. But that's before Holly meets his living victims. Before the strange signs surface. Before the tables are turned and she becomes the hunted. Now Holly knows everything, but can prove nothing. And somewhere in the cold shadows, he waits to kill again..." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This is a very intense thriller that kept my interest throughout. As the main character, Holly Alexander, becomes increasingly isolated from friends and family, I wondered how she would survive and overcome her enemy. Cutler doesn't make things easy for Holly and while sometimes I found the obstacles seemingly endless, I now appreciate the problems Holly faced.

Date read: 2/1/2014
Book #: 6
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Thriller

ISBN-10: 078601654X
ISBN-13: 9780786016549
Publisher: Pinnacle
Year: 2004
# of pages: 356
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Milk Treading by Nick Smith

First sentence:

"Where the hell am I?"

Description:

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."

Description:

"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."

Description:

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