Friday, October 30, 2009

A Wolverine is Eating My Leg by Tim Cahill

First sentence:

"There is something a bit humid about the picture, something moist and mysterious, something vaguely erotic and tangled and malarial."


"Tim Cahill brings 'em back alive. Not only has he survived fantastic journeys through the Himalayan rapids, the Grand Terror of Montana, and Dian Fossey's forbidden zone, he writes about them, too. All with the same excitement and crazed humor his readers have relished for years in the pages of Outside and Rolling Stone. Fearless and hell-bent on destroying all obstacles in his path, Cahill takes us to places rarely seen and barely endured. All admonitions and warnings be damned: Tim Cahill dares us to follow him wherever danger and craziness lurk. And to laugh as he prevails." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This book was a fascinating compilation of Cahill's articles featuring adventures in places including deep caves, high mountains, jungles, and Death Valley. Besides learning about deep cave exploration and how Death Valley is like a convection oven, I also learned about the events leading up to the Jonestown massacre and the efforts to save the mountain gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda.

Date read: 10/29/2009
Book #: 53
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Travel/Adventure

ISBN-10: 067972026X
ISBN-13: 9780679720263
Publisher: Vintage Departures
Year: 1989
# of Pages: 302
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Archivist's Story by Travis Holland

First sentence:

"It is a small matter that brings them together."


"Moscow, 1939. In the recesses of the infamous Lubyanka prison, a young archivist is sent to authenticate an unsigned story confiscated from one of the many political prisoners there. The writer is Isaac Babel. The great author of Red Calvary is sepnding his last days forbidden to write, his final manuscripts consigned to the archivist, Pavel Dubrov, who will ultimately be charged with destroying them. The emotional jolt of meeting Babel face-to-face leads to a reckless decision: he will save the last stories of the authorhe reveres, whatever the cost.

From the margin of history, Travis Holland has woven a tale of the greatest power. Pavel's private act of courage in the face of a vast bureaucracy of evil invigorates a life that had lost its meaning, even as it guarantees his almost certain undoing. A story of suspense, courage, and unexpected avenues of grace, The Archivist's Story is ultimately an enduring tribute to the written word." -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

Though low-key in action, this was a powerful story about personal courage and how one person can quietly make a difference even when it means putting his own life in danger.

Date read: 10/26/2009
Book #: 52
Challenge: Support Your Local Library Challenge
Rating: 4*/5 = great
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 038533995X
ISBN-13: 9780385339957
Publisher: Dial Press
Year: 2007
# of pages: 239
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing page

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chunkster Challenge 2009

Chunkster Challenge 2009

When: Whenever you want to start - November 15, 2009
What: Read books of 450+ pages. There are different options to choose from. See complete rules at the link above.

I will be doing the Chubby Chunkster which is two books:

Raymond E. Feist. The King's Buccaneer (523 pp.) -- finished 1/20/2009
Kate Mosse. Labyrinth (694 pp.) -- finished 10/13/2009

Celebrate the Author Challenge 2009

Once again, I'm celebrating authors in 2009 by participating in the Celebrate the Author Challenge.

Here's my list (alternative authors in parentheses):


James Alan Gardner. Gravity Wells -- finished 2/2/2009


Chuck Palahniuk. Invisible Monsters -- finished 2/17/2009


Jim Crace. The Gift of Stones -- finished 3/19/2009


Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Ball. Acorna: The Unicorn Girl -- finished 5/9/2009


Eoin Colfer. Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident -- finished 6/5/2009


Jack Olsen. The Climb Up to Hell -- finished 7/10/2009


Robert A. Heinlein. Have Space Suit - Will Travel -- finished 8/20/2009


H.P. Lovecraft


C.J. Cherryh. Foreigner -- finished 10/7/2009


Kate Mosse. Labyrinth -- finished 10/13/2009


Robin McKinley
(Keith Ablow)


Brian Lumley
(Philip K. Dick)

Labyrinth by Kate Mosse

First sentence:

"A single line of blood trickles down the pale underside of her arm, a red seam on a white sleeve."


"July 1209: in Carcassonne a seventeen-year-old girl is given a mysterious book by her father which he claims contains the secret of the true Grail. Although Alais cannot understand the strange words and symbols hidden within, she knows that her destiny lies in keeping the secret of the labyrinth safe. . .

July 2005: Alice Tanner discovers two skeletons in a forgotten cave in the French Pyrenees. Puzzled by the labyrinth symbol carved into the rock, she realises she's disturbed something that was meant to remain hidden. Somehow a link to a horrific past - her past - has been disturbed." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a good fictional account of the 13th century Albigensian Crusade (also known as the Cathar Crusade) in which the French Catholics in the northern part of France attacked the Cathars, a Christian sect, in the Languedoc in the south. I liked how these events were portrayed in the lives of Alais, her sister Orianne, her husband Guilhelm, and her father, Bertrand.

The 21st century scenes were not as good as the 13th century ones. I wanted to know more about how various characters were counterparts to the 13th century ones and many characters had similar names which added to the confusion. Still, I liked how Alice discovers the truth about her ancestor, Alais.

Date read: 10/13/2009
Book #: 51
Challenges: Celebrate the Author Challenge 2009, Chunkster Challenge 2009
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy

ISBN-10: 0752877321
ISBN-13: 978075287327
Publisher: Orion Books
Year: 2005
# of pages: 694
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fallen by David Maine

First sentence:

"The mark burns upon him all the time now."


"Once expelled from the Garden, Eve and Adam have to find their way past recriminations and bitterness to construct a new life together in a harsh land. But the challenges are many for the world's first family. Among their children are Abel and Cain, and soon the adults must discover how to be parents to one son who is everything they could hope for and another who is sullen, difficult, and rife with insecurities and jealousies. In the background, always, is the incomprehensibility of God's motives as He watches over their faltering attempts to build a life. In Fallen, David Maine has drawn a convincing, wryly observant, and enthralling portrait of a family -- one driven (and riven) by passions, jealousies, irrationality, and love. The result is an intimate, in-depth story of brothers, a husband, anda wife -- people whose struggles are both completely familiar and yet utterly original." -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

This was a compelling story about Cain, Abel, Adam, Eve and the rest of the family. I liked how the story went backwards in time starting with Cain's imminent death and ending with Adam and Eve leaving the Garden of Eden. I also liked how David Maine stretched out the story line so that Cain's offering being rejected isn't followed immediately by his murdering Abel.

Date read: 10/12/2009
Book #: 50
Challenge: Support Your Local Library Challenge
Rating: 4*/5 = great
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0312328494
ISBN-13: 0780312828498
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Year: 2005
# of pages: 244
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing page

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh

First sentence:

"It was the deep dark, unexplored except for robotic visitors."


"It had been nearly five centuries since the starship Phoenix, lost in space and desperately searching for the nearest G5 star, had encountered the planet of the atevi. On this alien world, law was kept by the use of registed assassination, alliances were defined by individual loyalties not geographical borders, and war became inevitable once humans and one faction of atevi established a working relationship. It was a war that humans had no chance of winning on this planet so many light-years from home.

Now, nearly two hundred years after that conflict, humanity has traded its advanced technology for peace and an island refuge that no atevi will ever visit. Then the sole human the treaty allows into atevi society is marked for an assassin's bullet. The work of an isolated lunatic?. . .The interests of a particular faction?. . .Or the consequence of one human's fondness for a species which has fourteen words for betrayal and not a ingle word for love?

My thoughts:

This was a very good science fiction novel about different cultures interacting. I liked how Bren Cameron has to figure out what's going on without inadvertently offending his atevi hosts. I look forward to learning what happens next in the second book in the series, Invader.

Date read: 10/7/2009
Book #: 49
Challenges: Celebrate the Author Challenge 2009
Series: Foreigner, #1
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: SF

ISBN-10: 0886776376
ISBN-13: 97806776374
Publisher: DAW Books
Year: 1994
# of Pages: 423
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Monday, October 5, 2009

Non-Fiction Five Challenge 2009!

Once again, it's time for the Non-Fiction Five Challenge!

When: May - September 2009
What: Read five non-fiction books

My list:
  1. Sir Francis Chichester. Gipsy Moth Circles the World -- finished 7/7/2009
  2. Jack Olsen. The Climb Up to Hell -- finished 7/10/2009
  3. Bill Bryson. A Short History of Nearly Everything -- finished 8/24/2009
  4. Fred Rosen. Body Dump -- finished 9/19/2009
  5. Jon Krakauer. Into the Wild -- finished 10/1/2009
While I didn't finish this challenge in time, I did enjoy reading the above books. I traveled with Chichester on the Gipsy Moth, froze on Mt. Eiger in The Climb Up to Hell, and learned about the cosmos in A Short History of Nearly Everything. I look forward to the Non-Fiction Five Challenge of 2010, and hopefully, I will finish that one in time!

999 Challenge - VI. Nonfiction

To see my complete 999 Challenge list, go here.

  1. Diane Ackerman. A Natural History of the Senses -- finished 2/11/2009
  2. Howard Norman. In Fond Remembrance of Me: A Memoir of Myth and Uncommon Friendship in the Arctic -- finished 2/14/2009
  3. Ann Rule. The Stranger Beside Me -- finished 5/10/2009
  4. Sir Francis Chichester. Gipsy Moth Circles the World -- finished 7/7/ 2009
  5. Jack Olsen. The Climb Up to Hell -- finished 7/10/2009
  6. Fred Rosen. Body Dump -- finished 9/19/2009
  7. Jon Krakauer. Into the Wild -- finished 10/1/2009
  8. Gary Kinder. Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea
  9. Glyn Williams. Voyages of Delusion

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

First sentence:

"Jim Gallien had driven four miles out of Fairbanks when he spotted the hitchhiker standing in the snow beside the road, thumb raised high, shivering in the gray Alaska dawn."


"'God, he was a smart kid...' So why did Christopher McCandless trade a bright future--a college education, material comfort, uncommon ability and charm--for death by starvation in an abandoned bus in the woods of Alaska? This is the question that Jon Krakauer's book tries to answer. While it doesn't—cannot—answer the question with certainty, Into the Wild does shed considerable light along the way. Not only about McCandless's "Alaskan odyssey," but also the forces that drive people to drop out of society and test themselves in other ways. Krakauer quotes Wallace Stegner's writing on a young man who similarly disappeared in the Utah desert in the 1930s: 'At 18, in a dream, he saw himself ... wandering through the romantic waste places of the world. No man with any of the juices of boyhood in him has forgotten those dreams.' Into the Wild shows that McCandless, while extreme, was hardly unique; the author makes the hermit into one of us, something McCandless himself could never pull off. By book's end, McCandless isn't merely a newspaper clipping, but a sympathetic, oddly magnetic personality. Whether he was "a courageous idealist, or a reckless idiot," you won't soon forget Christopher McCandless."

My thoughts:

This was an interesting book about not only Chris McCandless's tragic and unnecessary death, but about how someone's romantic view of nature can blind them to its harsh reality.

Date read: 10/1/2009
Challenge: 999 Challenge, Non-Fiction Five Challenge 2009
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Nonfiction

ISBN-10: 0385486804
ISBN-13: 9780385486804
Publisher: Anchor Books
Year: 1996
# of Pages: 203
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page