Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank

First sentence:

"My brother's first serious girlfriend was eight years older–twenty-eight to his twenty."

Description:

"Generous-hearted, smartly comic, and wickedly insightful, The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing maps the progress of Jane Rosenal as she sets out on a personal and spirited expedition through the perilous terrain of sex, love, relationships and the treacherous waters of the workplace. What is love, she wonders, as she scrutinizes the wiles and ways of older, possibly wiser women; casts a questioning eye toward various species of couples; and holds out her wrists for a spritz of perfume from her beautiful boss . . . How do you find it (and keep it) -- and above all, who makes the rules?

In the throes of a budding romance, Jane repairs to the self-help shelves to take a sojourn with authors Bouncy Bonnie and Blown-Dry Faith who whisper in her ear and tell her what the rules are -- in their terms. 'Wear you hair long. . .Don't say 'I love you' first. . .Don't accept a date less than four days in advance. . .' and above all. 'Don't be funny! . . . Men like femininity," Faith says, crossing her legs. "Humor isn't feminine. . .'

When she is swept off her feet by an older man and into a Fitzgeraldesque world of cocktail parties, country houses and rules-that-were-made-to-be-broken, Jane learns what it means when her lover says he wants "to everything" with her, and the stakes become far too high.

A floating house in St. Croix (after a soul-stripping game of strip poker) has its own lesson to teach, as do a couple of sexy, come-and-go boyfriends, a drama around a Greenwich Village kitchen table, and a never-ending bloop-yatty-bloop wedding reception. Finally, when Jane has gone in all the wrong directions (but for all the right reasons), she learns not only when to fish and when to cut bait, but who really makes the rules." -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

This was a somewhat quirky and interesting book about relationships. I liked how Jane learned how relying too much on other people's opinions isn't the right thing to do.

Date read: 3/16/2010
Book #: 22
Challenge: A-Z Challenge 2010
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 067088300x
ISBN-13: 978067088300?
Publisher: Viking
# of pages: 274
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing page

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The List of Seven by Mark Frost

First sentence:

"The envelope was vellum, cream."

Description:

"Christmas Day, 1884: a letter is slid under the door of a struggling young doctor and aspiring novelist, begging him to come to the aid of a mysterious woman, a victim of the black spiritual arts. . .

From the foggy streets of Victorian London to the wind-swept moors of Yorkshire, a demonic conspiracy begins to unfold. The List of Seven, a sinister brotherhood sworn to serve the Dark Lord, have conceived a diabolical plot that threatens not only the Royal Crown, but the very fabric of modern society.

Only two men stand in their way: the young Doctor Arthur Conan Doyle, and Jack Sparks, Queen Victoria's Special Agent, a man of formidable intellect and lethal skills. . ." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a good mix of mystery, historical fiction and the supernatural. I liked how the characteristics of Holmes and Watson were displayed in Sparks and Doyle, respectively. While some scenes did get a bit clich├ęd, I enjoyed the book and look forward to the next book in the series, The Six Messiahs.

Date read: 3/10/2010
Book #: 21
Series: Jack Sparks, #1
Challenges: A-Z Challenge 2010; 1st in a Series Challenge, Celebrate the Author Challenge 2010
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genres: Mystery, Historical Fiction

ISBN-10: 0099305119
ISBN-13: 9780099305118
Publisher: Arrow Books
Year: 1994
# of pages: 426
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon

First sentence:

"Questions, always questions."

Description:

"Thoughtful, poignant, and unforgettable, The Speed of Dark is a gripping exploration into the world of Lou Arrendale, an autistic man who is offered a chance to try an experimental "cure" for his condition. Now Lou must decide if he should submit to a surgery that may change the way he views the world -- and the very essence of who he is." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a very good book about autism and how different people react to it. I liked how Lou could explain to his friends how he viewed the world. I also liked the way he learned more about himself in making his decision.

Date read: 3/10/2010
Book #: 20
Challenge: A-Z Challenge 2010
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0345481399
ISBN-13: 978934548139?
Publisher: Del Rey
Year: 2005
# of pages: 369
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

First sentence:

"When my mother died, she left the farm to my brother, Cassis, the fortune in the wine cellar to my sister, Reine-Claude, and to me the youngest, her album, and a two-liter jar containing a single black Perigord truffle, large as a tennis ball, suspended in sunflower oil, that, when uncorked, still releases the rich dank perfume of the forest floor."

Description:

"The novels of Joanne Harris are a literary feast for the senses. Five Quarters of the Orange represents Harris's most complex and sophisticated work yet -- a novel in which darkness and fierce joy come together to create an unforgettable story.

When Framboise Simon returns to a small village on the banks of the Loire, the locals do not recognize her as the daughter of the infamous Mirabelle Dartigen -- the woman they still hold responsible for a terrible tragedy that, look place during the German occupation decades before. Although Framboise hopes for a new beginning, she quickly discovers that past and present are inextricably intertwined. Nowhere is this truth more apparent than in the scrapbook of recipes site has inherited from her dead mother.

With this book, Framboise re-creates her mother's dishes, which she serves in her small creperie. And yet as she studies the scrapbook -- searching for clues to unlock the contradiction between her mother's sensuous love of food and often cruel demeanor -- she begins to recognize a deeper meaning behind Mirabelle's cryptic scribbles. Within the journal's tattered pages lies the key to what actually transpired the summer Framboise was nine years old.

Rich and dark. Fire Quarters of the Orange is a novel of mothers and daughters of the past and the present, of resisting, and succumbing, and an extraordinary work by a masterful writer." -- from the inside flap


My thoughts:

This was a good book about family and secrets. I liked how Framboise learned about her mother through the diary/recipe book and how she and others came to understand what happened years ago.


Date read: 3/5/2010
Book #: 19
Challenges: What's in a Name 3 Challenge
Series: Food Trilogy #3
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0060198133
ISBN-13: 9780060198138
Publisher: HarperCollins
Year: 2001
# of pages: 307
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing page

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Hurting Distance by Sophie Hannah

First sentence:

"I could explain, if you were here to listen."

Description:

"Three years ago, something terrible happened to Naomi Jenikins - so terrible she never told anyone.

Now Naomi has another secret - her lover, unhappily married Robert Haworth. When Robert vanishes, Naomi know he must have come to harm. But the police are less convinced, particularly when Robert's wife insists he is no missing.

Naomi is desperate. If she can't persuade the police that Robert is in danger, she'll convice them that he is a danger to others. Then they'll have to look for him - urgently.

Naomi knows how to describe in detail the actions of a psychopath.

My thoughts:

This was a very good thriller with many unexpected twists. I liked how Naomi and others learned the truth about Robert.

Date read: 3/5/2010
Book #: 18
Series: Spilling Detectives, #2
Challenges: A-Z Challenge 2010
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Thriller

ISBN-10: 034084034X
ISBN-13: 9780340840344
Publisher: Hodder
Year: 2007
# of pages: 408
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page

Thursday, March 4, 2010

2nd Reading Challenge

2nd Reading Challenge
January 1 - December 31, 2010

Overall rules: Read books that are either second in a series, or the second book you have read by an author.

I plan to finish the Curious level - 3 books:

Julie Kaewert. Unbound (Booklover's mystery #2) -- finished 2/5/2010
Vernor Vinge. Marooned in Real Time (Across Real Time #2) -- finished 2/13/2010
Lois Lowry. Gathering Blue (Giver Trilogy, #2)

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

First sentence:

"Mother?"

Description:

"Kira, an orphan with a twisted leg, lives in a world where the weak are cast aside. She fears for her future until she is spared by the all-powerful Council of Guardians. Kira is a gifted weaver and is given a task that no other community member can do. While her talent keeps her alive and brings certain privileges, Kira soon realizes she is surrounded by many mysteries and secrets. No one must know of her plans to uncover the truth about her world -- and to find out what exists beyond it." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a very good story about a world in which the weak are cast aside. I liked how Kira learned about her gift and the truth of the Council of Guardians. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, Messenger.

Date read: 3/3/2010
Book #: 17
Challenges: Celebrate the Author Challenge 2010; 2nd Reading Challenge; Speculative Fiction Reading Challenge
Series: The Giver Trilogy #2
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fantasy

ISBN-10: 0440229499
ISBN-13: 9780440229490
Publisher: Random House
Year: 2000
# of pages: 215
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Wood Wife by Terri Windling

First sentence:

"On the night that Davis Cooper died, coyotes cam down from the hills to the town in the desert valley below."

Description:

"Leaving behind her fashionable West Coast life, Maggie Black comes to the Southwestern desert to pursue her passion and her dream. Her mentor, the acclaimed poet Davis Cooper, has mysteriously died in the canyons east of Tucson, bequeathing her his estate and the mystery of his life--and death.

Maggie is astonished by the power of this harsh but beautiful land and captivated by the uncommon people who call it home--especially Fox, a man unlike any she has ever known, who understands the desert's special power.

As she reads Cooper's letters and learns the secrets of his life, Maggie comes face-to-face with the wild, ancient spirits of the desert--and discovers the hidden power at its heart, a power that will take her on a journey like no other."

My thoughts:

This was a good fantasy set in the American Southwest. I liked how Maggie learned about the land and people around her and how she discovers the truth behind Cooper's death.

Date read: 3/2/2010
Book #: 16
Challenges: What's in a Name 3 Challenge, Speculative Fiction Reading Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fantasy

ISBN-10: 0812549295
ISBN-13: 9780812549294
Publisher: Tor Fantasy
Year: 1996
# of pages: 292
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Winner of the National Book Award by Jincy Willett


First sentence:

"Lightning sought our mother out, when she was a young girl in Brown County, Indiana."

Description:

"Set in Rhode Island, Winner of the National Book Award tells the story of twins who could not be more different. Abigail Mather is a woman of passionate sensual and sexual appetites, while her sister, the book loving local librarian Dorcas, lives a quiet life of the mind. But when the sisters are sought out by the predatory and famous poet, Guy DeVilbiss, who introduces them to Hollywood hack writer and possible psychopath Conrad Lowe, they rapidly become pawns in a game that leads to betrayal, shame and ultimately, murder.

Darkly comic and satirical, Jincy Willett's Winner of the National Book Award is unnervingly funny and disarmingly tender whether she is writing about sex, literary delusion or Yankee pretension."

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book. I liked Dorca's cynical observations and wit, especially about her neighbors and the library patrons. I also liked how she grew to appreciate her twin sister Abigail.

Date read: 3/2/2010
Book #: 15
Challenges: TBR Challenge 2010; A-Z Challenge 2010
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 031242423X
ISBN-13: 9780312424237
Publisher: Picador
Year: 2003
# of pages: 323
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page