Saturday, June 23, 2007

Bookmark Now: Writing in Unreaderly Times edited by Kevin Smokler


"The sky is NOT caving in on American letters. Far from it. The immensely talented writers in this collection all came of age professionally in the last decade--and all chose reading and writing over another more lucrative and decidedly flashier pursuits. They became producers and consumers of the written word at the most media-saturated time in history, a time when books face greater cultural competition than ever before. Why? How did they come to writing as a calling? What's the relevance of literature when the very term seems quaint? Bookmark Now answers these questions--and many more you probably never thought to ask. Like: What to do when your rabid fans start writing fiction about you? Why don't you have to choose between John Updike and Grand Theft Auto? And, can you really get paid for it?

The end result is not only a voyeuristic peek into the creative lives of today's writers, but a timely glimpse into a changing book business. Storytelling, it will become clear-as a means of self-realization, community building, or simply putting one's point across-is NOW more relevant than ever before."

My thoughts:

This was a very good anthology of essays looking at the state of reading and writing in the 21st century. I especially liked the essays "The Invisible Narrator" by Howard Hunt, "Lying to the Optician: The Reading Experience Rated" by Tracy Chevalier, and "A Computer Ate My Book" by Douglas Rushkoff.

Date read: 6/22/2007
Book #: 50
Rating: 3* = good
Genre: Nonfiction

ISBN-10: 0465078443
ISBN-13: 9780465078448
Publisher: Basic Books
Year: 2005
# of pages: 281
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing Page

Friday, June 22, 2007

Spring Reading Thing - Wrap up!

I finished the Spring Reading Thing Challenge yesterday, completing all the books I set out to read:

Steven Sherrill. The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break
Amanda Eyre Ward. Sleep Toward Heaven
Ken Follett. Jackdaws
Robert Ferrigno. Dead Silent
Sheri Tepper. The Visitor
Pat Cadigan. Tea from an Empty Cup
John Le Carre. A Perfect Spy
Joan Clark. An Audience of Chairs
Caleb Carr. The Angel of Darkness
Robert Silverberg. Sorcerers of Majipoor

And here are my answers to the questions Katrina posed here:
  • What was the best book you read this spring?
An Audience of Chairs by Joan Clark. It was a moving story about a woman who learns to prevail despite mental problems.
  • What book could you have done without?
Tea from an Empty Cup by Pat Cadigan. It was a good book, but confusing at times.
  • Did you try out a new author this spring? If so, which one, and will you be reading that author again?
I tried many new authors: Steven Sherrill, Sheri Tepper, Joan Clark, Amanda Eyre Ward, and Robert Ferrigno. I'll probably try their books again in the future.
  • Did you come across a book or two on other participants' lists that you're planning to add to your own to-be-read pile? Which ones?
My TBR mountain is big enough, thank you. I tend to avoid other people's lists, though all the titles look very tempting!
  • What did you learn -- about anything -- through this challenge? Maybe you learned something about yourself or your reading style, maybe you learned not to pick so many nonfiction books for a challenge, maybe you learned something from a book you read. Whatever it is, share!
I learned that it's good idea to not pick so many large books to complete. A Perfect Spy, Angel of Darkness and Sorcerers of Majipoor were all over 500 pages!
  • What was the best part of the Spring Reading Thing?
Whittling down my TBR mountain!
  • Would you be interested in participating in another reading challenge this fall?
Definitely! :)

Sorcerers of Majipoor by Robert Silverberg

First sentence:

There had been omens all year, a rain of blood over Nimoya and sleek hailstones shaped like tears falling on three of the cities of Castle Mount and then a true nightmare vision, a giant four-legged black beast with fiery ruby eyes and a single spiraling horn in its forehead, swimming through the air above the port city of Alaisor at twilight.


The Long-Awaited Prequel!

A thousand years before Lord Valentine, the destiny of kings is hostage to sorcery and deceit.

On the planet Majipoor, it is a time of great change. The aged Pontifex Prankipin, who brought sorcery (and prosperity) to the Fifty Cities of Castle Mount, is dying. The Coronal Lord Confalume, who will become replacement is chosen. It is no secret that the next Coronal will be prince Prestimion. By law and custom, the blood son of the present Coronal--has a secret quarry--the Starburst Crown. Visited by an oracle, Korsibar has heard a prophecy that will plunge the planet into a fearsome conflagration and alter destiny itself: "You will shake the world!"

My thoughts:

A good epic political battle set on a distant planet. Silverberg describes the settings and characters well. Some of the themes I got was how it's dangerous to assume the future and how prophecies can be ambiguous. I look forward to reading the sequel, Lord Prestimion.

Date read: 6/21/2007
Book #: 49
Series: Lord Prestimion #1
Rating: 3* = good
Genre: SF

ISBN-10: 0061057800
ISBN-13: 978-0061057809
Publisher: Eos
Year: 1998
# of pages: 624
Binding: Paperback
LibraryThing page

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Spring Reading Challenge

While it's too late to sign up for prizes, I've decided to join Callapidder Day's Spring Reading Thing Challenge for 2007. The idea is to make a list of books I intend to read between now and June 21st.

So, here's my list (in no particular order):

1. Steven Sherrill. The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break -- finished (4/4/07)
2. Amanda Eyre Ward. Sleep Toward Heaven -- finished (4/5/07)
3. Ken Follett. Jackdaws -- finished (4/13/07)
4. Robert Ferrigno. Dead Silent -- finished (4/18/07)
5 Sheri Tepper. The Visitor -- finished (4/14/07)
6. Pat Cadigan. Tea from an Empty Cup -- finished (4/18/07)
7. John Le Carre. A Perfect Spy -- finished (5/4/2007)
8. Joan Clark. An Audience of Chairs -- finished (5/4/2007)
9. Caleb Carr. The Angel of Darkness -- finished (6/13/07)
10. Robert Silverberg. Sorcerers of Majipoor -- finished (6/21/07)

The Angel of Darkness by Caleb Carr

First sentence:

"There's likely some polished way of starting a story like this, a clever bit of gaming that'd sucker people in surer than the best banco feeler in town. "


"In The Angel of Darkness, Caleb Carr brings back the vivid world of his bestselling The Alienist but with a twist: this story is told by the former street urchin Stevie Taggert, whose rough life has given him wisdom beyond his years. Thus New York City, and the groundbreaking alienist Dr. Kreizler himself, are seen anew.

It is June 1897. A year has passed since Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a pioneer in forensic psychiatry, tracked down the brutal serial killer John Beecham with the help of a team of trusted companions and a revolutionary application of the principles of his discipline. Kreizler and his friends--high-living crime reporter John Schuyler Moore; indomitable, derringer-toting Sara Howard; the brilliant (and bickering) detective brothers Marcus and Lucius Isaacson; powerful and compassionate Cyrus Montrose; and Stevie Taggert, the boy Kreizler saved from a life of street crime--have returned to their former pursuits and tried to forget the horror of the Beecham case. But when the distraught wife of a Spanish diplomat begs Sara's aid, the team reunites to help find her kidnapped infant daughter. It is a case fraught with danger, since Spain and the United States are on the verge of war. Their investigation leads the team to a shocking suspect: a woman who appears to the world to be a heroic nurse and a loving mother, but who may in reality be a ruthless murderer of children."

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this historical mystery set in late 19th century New York City and the Saratoga Springs area. Told from Stevie's point of view, this case of a murdering woman was riveting to read.

Date read: 6/13/2007
Book #: 48
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3* = good

ISBN-10: 0345427637
ISBN-13: 9780345427632
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Year: 1998
# of Pages: 768
Binding: Paperback
LibraryThing page

The Wooden Sea by Jonathan Carroll

First sentence:

"Never buy yellow clothes or cheap leather."


"From the moment a three-legged dog limps into the life of Police Chief Frannie McCabe and drops dead at his feet, McCabe finds himself in a new world of disturbing miracles. His small town of Crane's View, New York has long been a haven of harmony and comfort--but now he finds himself afflicted by the inexplicable, by omens that converge to throw his life into doubt. And what he does over the next few days may have consequences for the whole world . . ."

My thoughts:

I found this book to be funny, weird and overall engaging. I liked the characters, especially Frannie, Gee Gee and George.

Date read: 6/12/2007
Book #: 47
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3* = good

ISBN-10: 0765300133
ISBN-13: 978-0765300133
Publisher: Tor
Year: 2002
# of Pages: 304
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing Page

Monday, June 11, 2007

His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik

First sentence:

"The deck of the French ship was slippery with blood, heaving in the choppy sea; a stroke might as easily bring down the man making it as the intended target."


"Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors rise to Britain’s defense by taking to the skies . . . not aboard aircraft but atop the mighty backs of fighting dragons.

When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes its precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Capt. Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future–and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire. "

My thoughts:

Great historical fantasy! I liked how dragons and their active participation in aerial combat was a natural part of the society. I also liked the relationship between Laurence and his dragon friend Temeraire. I look forward to the next book in the series, A Throne of Jade.

Date read: 6/3/07
Book #: 46
Series: Temeraire, #1
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4* = great

ISBN-10: 0345481283
ISBN-13: 9780345481283
Publisher: Del Rey
Year: 2006
# of pages: 384
Binding: Paperback
LibraryThing Page

Sunday, June 3, 2007

An Hour to Kill by Karin Yapalater

First sentence:

"'I'm uncomfortable talking about it.'"


" Karin Yapalater's pulsating debut novel, An Hour to Kill, is an unforgettable psychosexual thriller set in the dark heart of New York City

When a series of brutal murders takes place in the desolate wintry landscape of Central Park, a pair of unlikely colleagues, New York City detectives James Gurson and Didi Kane, are sent to investigate. The assignment turns personal, however, when they discover the victims' deaths resonate within their own lives. The first victim, Charlene Leone -- found burned beyond recognition -- is a fellow officer, and Kane's ex-lover. The other, Orrin Gretz, is a prominent New York psychiatrist whose grisly death in a '57 Mercedes Gullwing with a .25 automatic at his side mirrors the suicide of Gurson's father.

A psychology buff and a rising star in the department, Gurson is trying to recover from a painful divorce and become a better parent to his young son. Kane, his beautiful partner -- well known for her high-octane obstinacy and her brilliance -- is barely coping with the circumstances of her former lover's brutal end when her grief is compounded by her own shocking implication in the murder. To solve the bizarre slayings the detectives must embark on an investigation that will take on eerie undertones, immersing them in a labyrinth of Freudian reverie, Jungian dreams, unconscious truths and conscious deceptions, visceral sex, and sadistic violence. Ultimately, they will transcend their professional partnership, becoming unconditional confidants in order to unveil the truth, and pull each other out from under their own personal wreckage.

Chilling, intricate, and provocative, An Hour to Kill brilliantly captures the disturbing flip side of psychoanalysis, while twisting unpredictably toward an explosive denouement that will stun readers everywhere."

My thoughts:

This was a good, disturbing mystery with lots of twists and false leads. I liked the characters Gurson and Kane and how they worked together to solve these murders.

Date read: 6/3/2007
Book #: 45
Rating: 3* = good
Genre: Mystery

ISBN-10: 0060542799
ISBN-13: 978-0060542795
Publisher: HarperTorch
Year: 2004
# of pages: 384
Binding: Paperback
LibraryThing Page

Friday, June 1, 2007

Dead Man Rising by Lilith Saintcrow

First sentence: "The cavernous maw of the warehouse was like the throat of some huge beast, and even though it was large and airy claustrophobia clawed at my throat."


"When the dead call, she answers.

Bounty hunting is a helluva job, but it pays the bills. And it lets Necromance Dante Valentine forget her issues---like struggling with her half-demon side and the memory of her lover's death.

Now psychics all over the city are being savagely murdered---and a piece of the past Dante thought she'd buried is stalking the night with a vengeance. Too bad she's got no way to tell which fiend--or friend--to trust. Or that her most horrifying nightmares are gathering to take one kick-ass bounty hunter down for the count.

But that's only the beginning. The Devil just called. He's looking for Dante's lover--the one he killed..."

My thoughts:

This book was a very good sequel to Working for the Devil, set months after the events in that book. I enjoyed getting reacquainted with Danny and her friends and the case they work on is both riveting and horrifying. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, The Devil's Right Hand.

Date read: 5/26/2007
Book #: 44
Series: Dante Valentine, #2
Rating: 3* = good
Genre: Dark Fantasy

ISBN-10: 0446616710
ISBN-13: 9780446616713
Publisher: Warner Books
Year: 2006
# of Pages: 416
Binding: Paperback
LibraryThing Page