Sunday, November 29, 2009

2041: Twelve Short Stories About the Future By Top Science Fiction Writers edited by Jane Yolen

First sentence:

"'I did it, Becky,' Portria shouted at me from the forty yard line. 'I talked her into it!'"


Where will you be in the year 2041?

The Drapery Defense League objects to Hamlet because Polonius is stabbed while he's hiding behind a curtain, rock 'n' roll gangs roam the streets, a scrumptious free confecton called swoodies has been devised to make people gain weight--then pay to lose it, and people attach an extra ear to their own to amplify noise....

Leading science fiction writer Jane Yolen presents twelve humorous to horrific, entertaining and intriguing stories about the future by top writers, including Bruce Coville, Joe Haldeman, Anne McCaffrey, Patricia A. McKillip and Connie Willis.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this collection of short stories about possible future. Connie Willis' Much Ado About [Censored] made me both think about censorship and chuckle at the absurdity of various groups banning lines from Hamlet until there was practically nothing left. On the opposite spectrum, stories such as Carol Farley's Lose Now, Pay Later and Bruce Coville's Old Glory made me think about not taking responsibility and rights for granted.

Date read: 11/28/2009
Book #: 59
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: SF

ISBN-10: 0440218985
ISBN-13: 9780440218982
Publisher: Laurel Leaf
Year: 1994
# of Pages: 218
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Aunt Dimity: Snowbound

First sentence:

"The holidays nearly killed me."


"When Lori Shepherd decides to treat herself to a relaxing day hiking through the serene English countryside, she has no idea that the blizzard of the century is about to hit. The storm comes quickly and furiously, but fortunately Lori is able to find refuge in nearby Ladythorne Abby, the fabulous home of the late Lucasta DeClerke. Soon she's safe and dry, along with two other stranded backpackers. But has she escaped one danger only to fall right into the middle of another? In the abbey's cloisters and passages still lingers the haunting presence of Lucasta, a mysterious madwoman who spent the last years of her life locked up alone in the abbey. And Lori must also deal with the threat of an unstable caretaker, who lurks around every corner.

Even her fellow abbey guests turn out to be suspicious. Lori thinks she's learned of their plot to steal a priceless DeClerke family heirloom -- a dazzling peacock panure hidden away at the abbey. Soon she discovers the intended theft is only one piece in a complicated puzzle of ominous secrets and traitorous deeds surrounding the fate of the priceless jewel. As Aunt Dimity says, 'Old sins cast long shadows' and the treacherous events in Ladythorne Abbey's history have continued to plague generations. Can Lori stay out of harm's way long enough to sort out the truth? Only Aunt Dimity's indispensable wisdom can help Lori wade through the deceit and banish the hatred and guilt that shroud Ladythorne Abbey in a blanket considerably thicker than the accumulating snow." -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this cozy, wintry mystery set in Ladythorne Abbey. I liked how Lori discovered the truth and, with help, made things right again. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin.

Date read: 11/18/2009
Book #: 58
Challenge: Support Your Local Library Challenge
Series: Aunt Dimity, #9
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Mystery

ISBN-10: 0670032786
ISBN-13: 9780670032785
Publisher: Penguin Books
Year: 2004
# of Pages: 226
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing page

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

First sentence:

"Only three people were left under the red and white awning of the grease joint: Grady, me, and the fry cook."


"Though he may not speak of them, the memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski's ninety-something-year-old mind. Memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Memories of a world filled with freaks and clowns, with wonder and pain and anger and passion; a world with its own narrow, irrational rules, its own way of life, and its own way of death. The world of the circus: to Jacob it was both salvation and a living hell.

Jacob was there because his luck had run out — orphaned and penniless, he had no direction until he landed on this locomotive "ship of fools." It was the early part of the Great Depression, and everyone in this third-rate circus was lucky to have any job at all. Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, was there because she fell in love with the wrong man, a handsome circus boss with a wide mean streak. And Rosie the elephant was there because she was the great gray hope, the new act that was going to be the salvation of the circus; the only problem was, Rosie didn't have an act — in fact, she couldn't even follow instructions. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and ultimately, it was their only hope for survival." -- from the publisher

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book about circus life during the Great Depression. I especially like the way the author skillfully wove in historic facts such as an elephant not understanding English and the problem "jake leg" which was caused by tainted Jamaica ginger.

Date read: 11/18/2009
Book #: 57
Rating: 4*/5 = great
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0739474979
ISBN-13: 9780739474976
Publisher: Algonquin
Year: 2006
# of Pages: 331
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Thursday, November 12, 2009

999 Challenge - IV. Mystery

To see my complete 999 Challenge list, go here.

  1. Jefferson Bass. Carved in Bone -- finished 4/2/2009
  2. Keith Ablow. Denial -- finished 9/4/2009
  3. Carol O'Connell. Find Me -- finished 11/4/2009
  4. Agatha Christie. Murder at Hazelmoor -- finished 11/11/2009
  5. Robert Goldsborough. Murder in E Minor
  6. Trish Skillman. Someone to Watch Over
  7. Javier Sierra. The Secret Supper
  8. Robert Tine. Desperate Measures
  9. Boris Akunin. The Winter Queen

The Murder at Hazelmoor by Agatha Christie

First sentence:

"Major Burnaby drew on his gum boots, buttoned his overcoat collar round his neck, took from a shelf near the door a hurricane lantern, and cautiously opened the front door of his little bungalow and peered out."


"T-R-E-V D-E-A-D M-U-R-D-E-R

It was only a parlor game intended to while away the hours on a bitter winter night. But when the psychic table turning pronounced Captain Trevelyan 'dead,' the guests at Sittaford House became nervous. And when, a few hours later, Major Burnaby discovers the body, the game becomes an eerie and baffling murder case. Inspector Narracott for the police and Miss Emily Trefusis, hoping to clear her fiancé, delve deep into the spirit world -- to find a very human murderer." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I liked this wintertime mystery. I especially liked how Emily figured out the truth behind Trevelyan's murder.

Date read: 11/11/2009
Book #: 56
Challenges: 999 Challenge, Agatha Christie Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Mystery

ISBN-10: 0425104060
ISBN-13: 9780425104064
Publisher: Berkley
Year: 1984 (original: 1931)
# of Pages: 228
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Sunday, November 8, 2009

999 Challenge - II. Fantasy

For my complete 999 Challenge list, go here.

II. Fantasy
  1. Alexander C. Irvine. The Narrows -- finished 1/16/2009
  2. Alice Hoffman. Practical Magic -- finished 3/1/2009
  3. Robin McKinley. Spindle's End -- finished 4/11/2009
  4. Kristen Britain. Green Rider -- finished 9/7/2009
  5. Graham Joyce. Dreamside -- finished 11/6/2009
  6. Will Shetterly. Elsewhere
  7. Esther Friesner. Here Be Demons
  8. John M. Ford. The Last Hot Time
  9. Robert C. Fleet. Last Mountain

Dewey Decimal Challenge

Dewey Decimal Challenge
When: January 1 - December 31, 2009
What: Read one book per month from each Dewey Century (000-999)

My list:

000 (Generalities):
Michael Dirda. Book by Book: Notes on Reading and Life (028.9 22) -- finished 1/29/2009

100 (Philosophy and Psychology):
Diane Ackerman. A Natural History of the Senses (152.1) -- finished 2/11/2009

200 (Religion):
Bob Edgar. Middle Church (277.3083) -- finished 3/30/2009

300 (Social Sciences):
Ann Rule. The Stranger Beside Me (364.1) -- finished 5/10/2009

400 (Language):
Margalit Fox. Talking Hands: What Sign Language Reveals About the Mind (419) -- finished 5/28/2009

500 (Natural Sciences and Math):
Bill Bryson. A Short History of Nearly Everything (500) -- finished 8/24/2009

600 (Technology):
Linda Greenlaw. The Lobster Chronicles: Life on a Very Small Island (639) -- finished 8/18/2009

700 (The Arts):
Michael J. Fox. Lucky Man (790) -- finished 1/21/2009

800 (Literature and Rhetoric):

900 (Geography and History):
John Berendt. City of Falling Angels (945.31)

Dreamside by Graham Joyce

First sentence:

"Lee was having trouble sleeping."


"It began as an experiment in college -- a seemingly harmless investigation in to 'lucid dreaming,' the ability to control one's dreams. Ella and Lee, Honora and Brad: four students linked by youthful longings, all four of them game for something new.

But the dreams turned more and more real -- and when the four of them learned how to meet one another on Dreamside, the experiment began to engulf their waking lives. Then, in a spasm of violence, they flew apart, fleeing from Dreamside and from each other.

Now, ten years later, the dreams have returned to upend their adult lives -- and, most frightening, to drag the four of them back into one another's company. Worse, they each need the others' help.

The dreams of youth fade, if you're lucky. If not, they can consume you -- and they will." -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

This book was an interesting look at lucid dreams and what happens when dreams invade reality. I like the interactions between the characters as they struggle to understand what happened years ago.

Date read: 11/6/2009
Book #: 55
Challenges: 999 Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fantasy

ISBN-10: 031286633X
ISBN-13: 9780312866334
Publisher: TOR Books
Year: 1991
# of Pages: 254
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing page

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

999 Challenge - IX. Not First in a Series

To see my complete 999 Challenge list, go here.

IX. Not First in a Series:
  1. Raymond Feist. King's Buccaneer -- finished 1/20/2009
  2. Eoin Colfer. Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident -- finished 6/5/2009
  3. Carol O'Connell. Find Me -- finished 11/4/2009
  4. Mark Anthony. Blood of Mystery
  5. C.J. Cherryh. Brothers of Earth
  6. Simon R. Green. Deathstalker War
  7. Sara Paretsky. Hard Time
  8. Fredrik Pohl. Heechee Rendezvous
  9. Pamela Dean. The Hidden Land

Find Me by Carol O'Connell

First sentence:

"The haunt of Grand Central Station was a small girl with matted hair and dirty clothes."


"The arm of a dead body points down Chicago's Adams Street, also known as Route 66. Along this road of many names, a silent caravan of cars drives. They are parents of missing children, all brought together by word that children's grave sites are being discovered along the road. And they are being shepherded by Detective Kathy Mallory of the NYPD. But the child Mallory seeks is not like the others. It is herself -- the feral child adopted off the streets, her father a blank, her mother dead and full of mysteries.

During the next few extraordinary days, Mallory will find herself hunting down a killer like non she has ever known -- and will discover more about herself than ever before . . ." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

While O'Connell could have focused on either the hunt for a serial killer or Mallory's journeys following both Route 66 and her father's letters, she nicely balanced both stories. I liked Mallory's interactions with the people she meets along the way and I liked how Butler and Riker supported her in their own way.

Date read: 11/3/2009
Book #: 53
Series: Kathy Mallory, #9
Challenge: 999 Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Mystery

ISBN-10: 0425217876
ISBN-13: 978-0425217870
Publisher: Berkley Books
Year: 2006
# of pages: 507
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page