Friday, March 27, 2015

March 2015: Call the Midwife; Mr. Darwin's Shooter

4. Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this memoir about working as a midwife in the East End of London in the 1950s. Worth's description of the people she met and worked with brought the period to life. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, Call the Midwife: Shadows of the Workhouse.

Date read: 3/15/2015

Series: Midwife #1
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Memoir/History
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5. Mr. Darwin's Shooter by Roger McDonald

My thoughts:

I liked this account of Syms Covington, an English sailor, who became Darwin's assistant during the voyage of the Beagle. Through his writing, McDonald illustrates well the times and beliefs of mid-18th century England and Australia.

Date read: 3/26/2015
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Historical Fiction
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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

February 2015: The Bradbury Chronicles, Son of a Witch, One Summer: America, 1927


1. The Bradbury Chronicles by Sam Weller

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this extensive biography of Ray Bradbury as I not only learned about his life, I also learned how his short stories and books were born.

Date read: 2/14/2015

Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Biography
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2. Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire

My thoughts:

I liked this second book in The Wicked Years series. Liir is an interesting character and I liked his interactions with Candle and Glinda as he learns about who he is.  I look forward to reading the next book in the series, A Lion Among Men.

Date read: 2/16/2015

Series: The Wicked Years, #2
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fantasy
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3.  One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson

My thoughts:

This is a very good book focusing on one summer in American history. I liked learning about Lindbergh's transatlantic trip to France and other pilots in this era, Babe Ruth and his setting a new home run record, and other events and people of the time.

Date read: 2/23/2015
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: History
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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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