Sunday, December 30, 2012

Off the Shelf Challenge 2012

What: Read books from the TBR pile
When: January 1 - December 31, 2012

For more information, see the instructions on Bookish Ardour

My level: 2 = trying.  For this level, I will read 15 books:
  1. Carole Nelson Douglas. Dancing with Werewolves -- finished 1/3/2012 
  2. Geraldine Brooks. People of the Book -- finished 1/23/2012 
  3. Robert C. Fleet. Last Mountain -- finished 1/31/2012
  4. Jonathan Carroll. Glass Soup -- finished 2/6/2012
  5. John Ramsey Miller. Upside Down -- finished 2/8/2012
  6. C.J. Cherryh. The Pride of Chanur -- finished 2/8/2012
  7. Greg Iles. The Footprints of God -- finished 2/28/2012
  8. Jeffrey Ford. The Girl in the Glass -- finished 3/8/2012
  9. Mo Hayder. Pig Island -- finished 3/19/2012
  10. Robert A. Heinlein. The Green Hills of Earth -- finished 3/21/2012
  11. Jason F. Wright. The Wednesday Letters -- finished 3/28/2012
  12. Michael Crichton. Sphere -- finished 3/29/2012
  13. Patricia Wallace. Lullabye. -- finished 3/31/2012
  14. Judith Tarr and Harry Turtledove. Household Gods -- finished 4/9/2012
  15. Carl Hiassen. Native Tongue -- finished 4/18/2012
  16. Trish MacDonald Skillman. Someone to Watch Over -- finished 4/25/2012
  17. Dave Duncan. The Gilded Chain -- finished 5/16/2012
  18. Tiziano Terzani. A Fortune-Teller Told Me -- finished 5/27/2012
  19. Matt Ruff. Bad Monkeys -- finished 6/2/2012
  20. Kelly Link. Magic for Beginners. -- finished 6/20/2012
  21. Frederick Forsyth. Icon. -- finished 7/2/2012
  22. Poul Anderson. Trader to the Stars. -- finished 7/23/2012
  23. Charlaine Harris. Real Murders -- finished 8/14/2012
  24. Mark Kurlansky. Salt: A World History -- finished 8/19/2012
  25. Karen Chance. Touch the Dark -- finished 8/29/2012
  26. Aiden James. Plague of Coins -- finished 8/30/2012
  27. Linda Gillard. Emotional Geology -- finished 9/15/2012
  28. Keith R.A. DeCandido. The Xander Years, Volume 1 -- finished 9/17/2012
  29. Max Barry. Machine Man -- finished 10/12/2012
  30. Elizabeth Strout. Olive Kittridge -- finished 10/20/2012
  31. Philip Caputo. The Voyage -- finished 11/15/2012
  32. Elspeth Huxley. Murder at Government House -- finished 12/6/2012
  33. C.J. Cherryh. Serpent's Reach -- finished 12/9/2012
  34. Katharine Weber. Triangle -- finished 12/29/2012

Triangle by Katharine Weber

First sentence:

"This is what happened."

Description:

"By the time she dies at age 106, Esther Gottesfeld, the last survivor of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fire, has told the story of that days many times. But her own role remains mysterious: How did she survive when at least 146 workers, her sister and fiancé among them, burned or jumped to their deaths? Are the gaps in her story just common mistakes, or has she deliberately concealed a secret over the years? As her granddaughter seeks the real story in the present day, a zealous feminist historian intrudes with her own set of conclusions, but it is Esther's voice echoing insistently through the decades that ultimately reveals the meaning of the tragedy.

A brilliant, haunting chronicle of the event that stood for ninety years as New York's most violent disaster, Triangle forces us to consider how we tell our stories, how we hear them, and how history is forged from unverifiable truths." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a very good book about people and their stories. The ones they tell, and the ones told about them. I liked Esther's interactions with the interviewer as well as her granddaughter's friend George Bostwick composing music based on DNA.

Date read: 12/29/2012
Book #: 43
Challenge: Off the Shelf Challenge 2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0312426143
ISBN-13: 9780312426149
Publisher: Picador
Year: 2006
# of pages: 242
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page

Monday, December 10, 2012

Serpent's Reach by C.J. Cherryh

First sentence:

"If it was anywhere possible to be a child in the Family, it was possible at Kethiuy, on Cerdin."

Description:

"The constellation of Hydri, known as the Serpent, is compact and obscure from Earth and remained so in the era of interstellar colonization. For it was under strict quarantine--harboring an intelligent race, powerful and alien. Yet there were human colonies within the Serpent's Reach, cut off from the galaxy beyond, with their own inbred culture, and their special relationships to the inhuman majat.

This is the novel of Raen, the last of the massacred Sul Family, and of her lifetime pledge to find vengeance. It was to take her across the worlds of the Reach into the very center of the alien webwork that knit the forbidden constellation into a complex of interbred cultures that no outsider could hope to unravel." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I liked this book set in a rich and complicated universe. I especially liked the way the majat are portrayed and how Raen interacts with them.

Date read: 12/9/2012
Book #: 42
Series: Alliance-Union Universe, #13
Challenge: Off the Shelf Challenge 2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: SF

ISBN-10: 0886770882
ISBN-13: 9780886770884
Publisher: DAW
Year:\1980
# of pages: 285
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Friday, December 7, 2012

New Author Challenge 2012!

What: Read authors who are new to me
When: January 1 - December 31, 2012
 
My goal: 15 new authors

  1. Robert C. Fleet. Last Mountain -- finished 1/31/2012
  2. Lev Grossman. Codex -- finished 2/3/2012
  3. John Ramsey Miller. Upside Down -- finished 2/8/2012
  4. Greg Iles. The Footprints of God -- finished 2/28/2012
  5. Mo Hayder. Pig Island -- finished 3/19/2012
  6. Jason F. Wright. The Wednesday Letters -- finished 3/28/2012
  7. Patricia Wallace. Lullabye -- finished 3/31/2012
  8. Carl Hiassen. Native Tongue -- finished 4/18/2012
  9. Irene Nemirovsky. All Our Worldly Goods-- finished 4/23/2012
  10. Trish MacDonald Skillman. Someone to Watch Over -- finished 4/25/2012
  11. Dave Duncan. The Gilded Chain -- finished 5/16/2012
  12. Tiziano Terzani. A Fortune-Teller Told Me -- finished 5/27/2012
  13. Shalom Auslander. Hope: A Tragedy -- finished 7/15/2012
  14. Mark Kurlansky. Salt: A World History -- finished 8/19/2012
  15. Richard Castle. Heat Wave -- finished 8/22/2012
  16. Karen Chance. Touch the Dark -- finished 8/29/2012
  17. Aiden James. Plague of Coins -- finished 8/30/2012
  18. Linda Gillard. Emotional Geology -- finished 9/15/2012
  19. Keith R.A. DeCandido. The Xander Years, Volume 1 -- finished 9/17/2012
  20. Elizabeth Strout. Olive Kittridge -- finished 10/20/2012
  21. Jennifer Wilson. Running Away to Home -- finished 11/9/2012
  22. Philip Caputo. The Voyage -- finished 11/15/2012
  23. Elspeth Huxley. Murder at Government House -- finished 12/6/2013

Murder at Government House by Elspeth Huxley

First sentence:

"Mark Beaton was in that embittered mood that was apt to follow the nerve-racking preparations for a Government House dinner-party."

Description:

"Life in the colonial capital at Chania is relaxed and blooming, barring the odd hiccough in the regional railways, but Olivia Brandeis, a young anthropologist working in the region, senses that there is trouble brewing. When the Governor is found strangled at his desk, her suspicions are confirmed. Falicious rumors fly as Inspector Vachell tries to sort out conflictng accusations and find a real suspect. Then Olivia relates her encounter with a tribal witch doctor--and an even more terrifying series of events begins to unfold." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I liked this mystery set in Africa during the colonial period. I especially liked Vachell and Olivia working together to figure out who killed the Governor and why. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, Murder on Safari.

Date read: 12/6/2012
Book #:41
Series: Vachell, #1
Challenges: New Author Challenge 2012, Off the Shelf Challenge 2012 
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Mystery

ISBN-10: 0140112553
ISBN-13: 9780140112559
Publisher: Penguin
Year: 1937
# of pages: 231
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Friday, November 16, 2012

A to Z Challenge 2012

As described by the challenge host, Strawberry Splash Review, the A to Z Challenge 2012 has three possible choices:

"1. Author - A to Z by authors last name, 26 books.
2. Title - A to Z by book title, 26 books.
3. Double Whammy - Do both Challenge 1 and 2 for a total 52 books."

I will do #2: A to Z by book title


A: All Our Worldly Goods by Irene Nemirovsky -- finished 4/23/2012
B: Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff -- finished 6/2/2012
C: Codex by Lev Grossman -- finished 2/3/2012
D: Dancing with Werewolves by Carole Nelson Douglas -- finished 1/3/2012
E: Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard -- finished 9/15/2012
F: The Footprints of God by Greg Iles -- finished 2/28/2012
G: Glass Soup by Jonathan Carroll -- finished 2/6/2012
H: Household Gods by Judith Tarr and Harry Turtledove -- finished 4/9/2012
I: Icon by Frederick Forsyth. -- finished 6/2/2012
J:
K:
L: Last Mountain by Robert C. Fleet -- finished 1/31/2012
M: The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi -- finished 2/23/2012
N: Native Tongue by Carl Hiassen -- finished 4/18/2012
O: Olive Kittridge by Elizabeth Strout -- finished 10/20/2012 
P: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks -- finished 1/23/2012
Q:
R: Real Murders by Charlaine Harris -- finished 8/14/2012
S: Sphere by Michael Crichton -- finished 3/29/2012
T: Trader to the Stars by Poul Anderson -- finished 7/23/2012
U: Upside Down by John Ramsey Miller -- finished 2/9/2012
V: The Voyage by Philip Caputo -- finished 11/15/2012
W: The Wednesday Letters by Jason F Wright -- finished 3/28/2012
X: The Xander Years, Vol. 1 by Keith R.A. DeCandido -- finished 9/18/2012
Y:
Z:



The Voyage by Philip Caputo

First sentence:

"The sea was gray that morning, and as smooth as the surface of an eye."

Description:

"On a June morning in 1901, Cyrus Braithwaite commands his three sons to set sail from their Maine home aboard the family's forty-six-foot schooner and not return until September. Though confused and hurt by their father's cold-blooded order, the three brothers soon rise to the occasion and embark on a breathtakingly perilous journey down the East Coast, headed for the Florida Keys.

Almost a hundred years later, Cyrus's great-granddaughter Sybil sets out to uncover the events that transpired on the voyage. Her discoveries about the Braithwaite family and the America they lived in unfolds into a stunning tale of intrigue, murder, lies, and deceit.

In the tradition of great seafaring adventures, The Voyage is an intricately plotted, superbly detailed, and gripping story of adenture and courage. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Philip Caputo has written a timeless novel about the dangerous, reerberating effects of long-held family secrets." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This is a very good book about adventure and family. I especially liked the brothers learning to work together in the storms.

Date read: 11/15/2012
Book #: 40
Challenges: A-Z Challenge 2012, New Author Challenge 2012, Off the Shelf Challenge 2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0679768394
ISBN-13: 9780679768395
Publisher: Vintage Books
Year: 1999
# of pages: 416
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Running Away to Home by Jennifer Wilson

First sentence:

"Dawn had not yet broken as I wrestled my suitcase out of my room above the bar in Mrkopalj, a tiny Croatian village nestled in a low mountain range that looks like the Alps but with fewer people and more wild boars."

Description:

"'We can look at this in two ways,' Jim wrote, always the pragmatist. 'We can panic and scrap the whole idea. Or we can take this as a sign. They're saying the economy is going to get worse before it gets better. Maybe this is the kick in the pants we needed to do something completely different. There will always be an excuse not to go. . . .'

And that, friends, is how a typically sane middle-aged mother decided to drag her family back to a forlorn mountain village in the backwoods of Croatia.

So begins the author's journey in Running Away to Home. Jen, her architect husband Jim, and their two children had been living the typical soccer-and-ballet-practice life in the most Middle American of places: Des Moines, Iowa. They overindulged themselves and their kids, and as a family they were losing one another in the rush of work, school, and activities. One day, Jen and her husband looked at each other--both holding their Starbucks coffee as they headed out to their SUV in the mall parking lot, while the kids complained about the inferiority of the toys they just got--and asked themselves: 'Is this the American dream? Because if it is, it sort of sucks.'

Jim and Jen had always dreamed of taking a family sabbatical in another country, so when they lost half their savings in the stock-market crash, it seemed like just a crazy enough time to do it. High on wanderlust, they left the troubled landscape of contemporary America for the Croatian mountain village of Mrkopalj, the land of Jennifer's ancestors. It was a village that seemed hermetically sealed for the last one hundred years, with a population of eight hundred (mostly drunken) residents and a herd of sheep milling around the post office. For several months they lived like locals, from milking the neighbor's cows to eating roasted pig on a spit to desperately seeking the village recipe for bootleg liquor. As the Wilson-Hoff family struggled to stay sane (and warm), what they found was much deeper and bigger than themselves." -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book of not only researching family history, but living in the ancestors' home village and meeting new relatives. I liked how Jen learned not to stand outside as an observer but instead participate in daily activities, thus making new and valued friends.

Date read: 11/9/2012
Book #: 39
Challenge: New Author Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Memoir

ISBN-10: 0312598955
ISBN-13: 9780312598952
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Year: 2011
# of pages: 317
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing page

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Olive Kittridge by Elizabeth Strout

First sentence:

"For many years Henry Kitteridge was a pharmacist in the next town over, driving every morning on snowy roads, or rainy roads, or summertime roads, when the wild raspberries shot their new growth in brambles along the last section of town before he turned off to where the wider road led to the pharmacy."

Description:

"At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.

As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life --- sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridgeoffers profound insights into the human condition --- its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I liked this book about a small town in Maine and the people who live there. At first, I considered Olive to be aloof, but as the book progressed, I discovered she was more than I thought.

Date read:10/20/2012
Book #:38
Challenges: Off the Shelf Challenge 2012, A to Z Challenge 2012, New Author Challenge 2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0812971833
ISBN-13: 9780812971835
Publisher: Random House
Year: 2008
# of pages: 270
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Machine Man by Max Berry

First sentence:

"As a boy, I wanted to be a train."

Description:

"Scientist Charles Neumann loses a leg in an industrial accident. It's not a tragedy. It's an opportunity. Charlie always thought his body could be better. His employer, military contractor Better Future, has the resources Charlie needs to explore a few ideas. He begins to build parts. Better parts.

Prosthetist Lola Shanks admires a good artificial limb and Charlie admires Lola. In Charlie, she sees a man on his way to becoming artificial everything. Others see a madman. Others still, a product. And Better Future sees a weapon of unparalleled potential." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book. I liked the mix of human and machine and the way Charlie became more human as he replaced parts of himself.

Date read: 10/11/2012
Book #: 37
Challenge: Off the Shelf Challenge 2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0307476898
ISBN-13: 9780307476890
Publisher: Vintage Books
Year: 2011
# of pages: 274
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Heat Rises by Richard Castle

First sentence:

"The thing about New York City is you never know what's behind a door."

Description:

"The bizarre murder of a parish priest at a New York bondage club opens Nikki Heat's most thrilling and dangerous case so far, pitting her against New York's most vicious drug lord, an arrogant CIA contractor, and a shadowy death squad out to gun her down. And that is just the tip of an iceberg that leads Nikki Heat to a dark conspiracy that reaches all the way to the highest level of the NYPD.

But when she gets too close to the truth, Nikki finds herself disgraced, stripped of her badge and out on her own as a target for killers, with nobody she can trust. Except maybe the one man in her life who’s not a cop: reporter Jameson Rook.

In the midst of New York’s coldest winter in a hundred years, there’s one thing Nikki is determined to prove: Heat Rises." -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this third book of the "Nikki Heat" series. It was fast-paced and it kept me guessing throughout. I look forward to reading the next book, Frozen Heat.

Date read: 9/22/2012
Book #: 36
Series: Nikki Heat, #3
Rating; 3*/5 = good
Genre: Mystery

ISBN-10: 1401324436
ISBN-13: 9781401324438
Publisher: Hyperion
Year: 2011
# of pages: 301
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing page

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Xander Years, Volume 1 by Keith R.A. DeCandido

First sentence:

"The argument started when Cordelia saw what Xander was wearing."

Description:

"Unfulfilled crushes. Awkward first conversations. A date who wants you. . .dead.

Having a Y-chromsome in Sunnydale is never easy. But Buffy the Vampire Slayer's friend Xander Harris seems to find more than his share of trouble with the opposite sex.

At first Xander is happy being the teacher's pet--until his schoolboy crush brings out her true animal instincts. Then his whirlwind romance with the exotic foreign exchange student falters when she demands the ultimate sacrifice.

Some members of the Slaying squad might say that dating Cordelia Chase could kill a guy. But Xander's relationship with the high-maintenance Cordy actually seems to be working out--until she decides he's seriously harming her social standing. His craft plan to win her back may earn him more love than one guy can handle.

Now collected for the first time, are three stories from the hit TV series chronicling Xander's search for love on the Hellmouth." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

At first, I wasn't sure if I wanted to read stories based on a television show, even a show I like. But as I continued reading, I started to enjoy reading about Xander's misadventures and finding out how he saw things and what he thought.

Date read: 9/18/2012
Book #: 35
Challenges: Whats in a Name 5 Challenge, Off the Shelf Challenge 2012, A to Z Challenge 2012, New Author Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy

ISBN-10: 0671026291
ISBN-13: 9780671026295
Publisher: Pocket Books
Year: 1999
# of pages: 227
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard

First sentence:

"I talk to the Island."

Description:

"Rose Leonard is on the run from her life.

Taking refuge in a remote island community, she cocoons herself in work, silence and solitude in a house by the sea. But she is haunted by her past, by memories and desires she'd hoped were long dead.

Rose must decide whether she has in fact chosen a new life or just a different kind of death. Life and love are offered by new friends, her lonely daughter, and most of all Callum, a fragile younger man who has his own demons to exorcise.

But does Rose, with her tenuous hold on life and sanity, have the courage to say yes to life and put her past behind her?" -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a moving story about love and art, strength and weakness, and learning to trust again. I liked the interaction between Rose and Callum and between Rose and her daughter Megan.

Date read: 9/15/2012
Book #: 34
Challenges: New Author Challenge, Off the Shelf Challenge 2012, A to Z Challenge 2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 1905175078
ISBN-13: 9781905175079
Publisher: Transita
Year: 2005
# of pages: 307
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Friday, September 14, 2012

Naked Heat by Richard Castle

First sentence:

"Nikki Heat pondered red lights and why they seemed to last so much longer when there was no traffic."

Description:

"When New York's most vicious gossip columnist, Cassidy Towne, is found dead, Heat uncovers a gallery of high profile suspects, all with compelling motives for killing the most feared muckraker in Manhattan.

Heat's murder investigation is complicated by her surprise reunion with superstar magazine journalist Jameson Rook. In the wake of their recent breakup, Nikki would rather not deal with their raw emotional baggage. But the handsome, wise-cracking Pulitzer Prize-winning writer's personal involvement in the case forces her to team up with Rook anyway. The residue of their unresolved romantic conflict and crackling sexual tension fills the air as Heat and Rook embark on a search for a killer among celebrities and mobsters, singers and hookers, pro athletes and shamed politicians.

This new, explosive case brings on the heat in the glittery world of secrets, cover-ups, and scandals." -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this second book of the Nikki Heat series.  It's was fun remembering scenes from the television series Castle and seeing how they are portrayed in the book. I also enjoyed seeing the character Richard Castle thank the actors in the acknowledgements.I look forward to reading the third book - Heat Rises.

Date read: 9/13/2012
Book #: 33
Series: Nikki Heat, #2
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Mystery

ISBN-10: 1401324029
ISBN-13: 9781401324025
Publisher: Hyperion
Year: 2011
# of pages: 288
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing page

Friday, August 31, 2012

Plague of Coins by Aiden James

First sentence:

"This looks promising..."

Description:

William Barrow carries a dark secret. A very dark secret.

An archivist for the Smithsonian Institute and also a part-time operative for the CIA, no one would ever suspect the handsome ‘thirty-ish’ William is in fact the most reviled human being to ever walk the earth. His infectious warmth and sense of humor make such an assertion especially hard to believe.

But long ago, William Barrow had another name…one that is synonymous with shame and betrayal: Judas Iscariot.

Forced to walk the earth as a cursed immortal, William/Judas is on a quest to reclaim the thirty silver shekels paid to him in exchange for Jesus Christ. Twenty-one coins have now been recovered—thanks in large part to the help from his latest son, the esteemed Georgetown University history professor, Alistair Barrow.

Ever hopeful the complete coin collection will buy him a full pardon from God and end his banishment from heaven, William plans a visit to a remote village deep within Iran’s Alborz Mountains to retrieve ‘silver coin number twenty-two’. But the CIA has a different objective for this trip, one that pits both father and son against an unscrupulous Russian billionaire searching for something else that’s just as precious within the ancient mountains of Iran…something that threatens peace in the modern world if William and Alistair fail to reach it first." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

Overall, I enjoyed this thriller featuring William Barrow (aka Judas Iscariot) and his quest to reclaim another silver shekel. At first, there was some awkward foreshadowing by Barrow at the beginning, but after a while it ended, and the pace of the story picked up. I look forward to reading the next book, Reign of Coins.

Date read: 8/30/2012
Book #: 32
Challenges: New Author Challenge, Off the Shelf Challenge 2012
Series: Judas Chronicles #1
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Thriller

ISBN-10: 1466386916
ISBN-13: 9761466386914
Publisher: Aiden James Fiction
Year: 2011
# of pages: 221
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Touch the Dark by Karen Chance

First sentence:

"I knew I was in trouble as soon as I saw the obituary."

Description:

"Cassandra Palmer can see the future and communicate with spirits-talents that make her attractive to the dead and the undead.  The ghosts of the dead aren't usually dangerous; they just like to talk...a lot.

The undead are another matter.

Like any sensible girl, Cassie tries to avoid vampires.  But when the bloodsucking Mafioso she escaped three years ago finds Cassie again with vengeance on his mind, she's forced to turn to the vampire Senate for protection. The undead senators won't help her for nothing, and Cassie finds herself working with one of their most powerful members, a dangerously seductive master vampire-and the price he demands may be more than Cassie is willing to pay..." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this first book of the Cassandra Palmer series. I like the mix of characters and the way Cassie learned that things were not as she thought. I look forward to reading the next book, Claimed by Shadow.

Date read: 8/29/2012
Book #: 31
Series: Cassandra Palmer, #1
Challenges: Off the Shelf Challenge 2012, New Author Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Dark Fantasy

ISBN-10: 0451460936
ISBN-13: 9780451460936
Publisher: ROC
Year: 2006
# of pages: 307
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Heat Wave by Richard Castle

First sentence:

"It was always the same for her when she arrived to meet the body."

Description:

"Mystery sensation Richard Castle, blockbuster author of the wildly bestselling Derrick Storm novels, introduces his newest character, NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat. Tough, sexy, professional Nikki Heat carries a passion for justice as she leads one of New York City's top homicide squads. She's hit with an unexpected challenge when the commissioner assigns superstar magazine journalist Jameson Rook to ride along with her to research an article on New York's Finest. Pulitzer Prize-winning Rook is as much a handful as he is handsome. His wise cracking and meddling aren't her only problems. As she works to unravel the secrets of a murdered real estate tycoon, she must also confront the spark between her and Rook. The one called heat." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

As a fan of the television show Castle, I enjoyed reading the first book of the "Nikki Heat" series. I not only liked the mystery but I also liked remembering scenes from the show and seeing the subtle changes depicted in the book. I look forward to reading the next book, Naked Heat.

Date read: 8/23/2012
Book #: 30
Challenge: New Author Challenge
Series: Nikki Heat, #1
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Mystery

ISBN-10: 1401310400
ISBN-13: 9781401310400
Publisher: Hyperion
Year: 2010
# of pages: 196
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Monday, August 20, 2012

Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky

First sentence:

"I bought the rock in Spanish Catalonia, in the rundown hillside mining town of Cardona."

Description:

"Homer called salt a divine substance. Plato described it as especially dear to the gods. Today we take it for granted; however, as Mark Kurlansky so brilliantly relates in this world-encompassing book, salt-the only rock we eat-has shaped civilization from the very beginning. Its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of mankind.

Until about 100 years ago, when modern geology revealed how prevalent it is, salt was one of the most sought-after commodities, for without it humans and animals could not live. Salt has often been considered so valuable that it served as currency, and it is still exchanged as such in places today. Demand for salt established the earliest trade routes, across unknown oceans and the remotest of deserts: the city of Jericho was founded almost 10,000 years ago as a salt trading center. Because of its worth, salt has provoked and financed some wars; it was, as well, a strategic element in the American Revolution and the Civil War, among other conflicts. Salt taxes secured empires across Europe and Asia and have also inspired revolution (Gandhi's salt march in 1930 began the overthrow of British rule in India); indeed, salt has been central to the age-old debate about the rights of government to tax and control economies.

The story of salt encompasses fields as disparate as engineering, religion, and food, all of which Kurlansky richly explores. Few endeavors have inspired more ingenuity than salt making, from the natural gas furnaces of ancient China to the drilling techniques that led to the age of petroleum, and salt revenues have funded some of the greatest public works in history, including the Erie Canal and the Great Wall of China. Salt's ability to preserve and to sustain life has made it a metaphorical symbol in all religions. Just as significantly, salt has shaped the history of foods like cheese, sauerkraut, olives, and more, and Kurlansky conveys, in his saga and through 40 historic recipes-how they have in turn molded civilization and eating habits the world over.

Salt: A World History is veined with colorful characters, from Li Bing, the Chinese bureaucrat who built the world's first dam in 250 BC, to Pattillo Higgins and Anthony Lucas who, ignoring the advice of geologists, drilled an east Texas salt dome in 1901 and discovered an oil reserve so large it gave birth to the age of petroleum. From the sinking salt towns of Cheshire in England to the ancient salt work in southern San Francisco Bay; from the remotest islands in the Caribbean where roads are made of salt to rural Sichaun province where the last home-made soya sauce is produced, Mark Kurlansky has produced a kaleidoscope of history, a multi-layered masterpiece that blends economic, scientific, political, religious, and culinary records into a rich and memorable tale." -- from the inside flap


My thoughts:

This was a thoroughly informative book on salt and its impact on world history. I learned many new things including the fact that the word stem "-wich" as in Norwich means salt works and that there's a rock salt mine 1,200 feet below Detroit.

Date read: 8/19/2012
Book #: 29
Challenges: Off the Shelf Challenge 2012, New Author Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Nonfiction


ISBN-10: 0802713734
ISBN-13: 9780802713735
Publisher: Walker and Company
Year: 2002
# of pages: 449
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing page

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Real Murders by Charlaine Harris

First sentence:

"'Tonight I want to tell you about that most fascinating of murder mysteries, the Wallace case,' I told my mirror Enthusiastically."

Description:

"Every month, Real Murders, a society of crime buffs in Lawrenceton, Georgia, met to discuss a favorite infamous murder. Its members were an eccentric lot: Gifford Doakes, the massacre specialist; Jane Engle, lover of Victorian horrors; Perry Allison, a Ted Bundy fan. . .

The night of the last meeting, town librarian Aurora 'Roe' Teagarden discovered Mamie Wright's mutilated body in the clubhouse kitchen. She felt certain the killer was a fellow murder, for the crime bore a chilling resemblance to the club's 'murder of the month.'

And as other brutal 'copycat' killings followed, the only motive seemed a horrifying bizarre sense of fun. . . ." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this mystery featuring a librarian trying to discover who was copying well-known murders from the past. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, A Bone to Pick.

Date read: 8/14/2012
Book #: 28
Series: Aurora Teagarden, #1
Challenges: Off the Shelf Challenge 2012, A-Z Challenge 2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Mystery

ISBN-10: 0373261047
ISBN-13: 9780373261048
Publisher: Worldwide
Year: 1990
# of pages: 252
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What's in a Name 5 Challenge!


Between January 1 and December 31, 2012, I will read one book in each of the following categories:
  • A book with a topographical feature (land formation) in the title
Robert B. Fleet. Last Mountain -- finished 1/31/2012
  • A book with something you'd see in the sky in the title
Poul Anderson. Trader to the Stars -- finished 7/23/2012
  • A book with a creepy crawly in the title
  • A book with a type of house in the title
  • A book with something you'd carry in your pocket, purse, or backpack in the title
  • A book with a something you'd find on a calendar in the title

TBR Challenge 2012!

Time once again for one of my favorite challenges! I selected 12 books plus 12 alternates/extra credit:

Here they are (in no particular order):

Alternates/Extra Credit:
  • Poul Anderson. Trader to the Stars -- finished 7/23/2012
  • Harriet Scott Chessman. Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper
  • Daniel Blythe. The Dimension Riders
  • Alice Hoffman. The Probable Future
  • Javier Sierra. The Secret Supper
  • Terry Bisson. Virtuosity
  • Philip Caputo. The Voyage
  • LA Banks. Minion
  • Madelyn Alt. The Trouble with Magic





Trader to the Stars by Poul Anderson

First sentence:

"Captain Bahadur Torrance received the news as befitted a Lodgemaster in the Federated Brotherhood of Spacemen."

Description:

"Their space-yacht, pursued by angry Adderkops thirsting for their blood, has run into serious engine trouble. Picking up the trail of another alien spaceship, they decide to board it and force its crew to take them home. But once aboard, its not so easy to find the crew: they're faced with cages full of bizarre, other-worldly animals: Tiger apes, Elephantoids, Gorilloids, Caterpiggles, Helmet beasts, Tentacle centaurs. One set of these extraordinary creatures must be the crew, in hiding. But which? Survival depends on finding the right answer. . .

And this is just the first of the problems facing Poul Anderson's intrepid space-merchant venturers in this masterly SF book!" -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I liked this science fiction book of space-faring traders. I especially liked the challenge in the first story of trying to determine who were the crew and the cultural misunderstandings depicted in the last story. I look forward to reading the first book in the series, War of the Wing-Men.

Date read: 7/23/2012
Book #: 27
Series: Polesotechnic League, #2
Challenges: A-Z Challenge 2012, What's in a Name 5 Challenge, Off the Shelf Challenge 2012, TBR Challenge 2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: SF

ISBN-10: 0586022147
ISBN-13: 9780586022146
Publisher: Panther
Year: 1965
# of pages: 155
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Friday, July 6, 2012

Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander

First sentence:

"It's funny: it isn't the fire that kills you, it's the smoke."

Description:

The rural town of Stockton, New York, is famous for nothing: no one was born there, no one died there, nothing of any historical import has ever happened there, which is exactly why Solomon Kugel, like other urbanites fleeing their pasts and histories, decided to move his family there.

To begin again. To start anew. But it isn't quite working out that way for Kugel. . . .

His ailing mother stubbornly holds on to life, and won't stop reminiscing about the Nazi concentration camps she never actually suffered through. To complicate matters further, some lunatic is burning down farmhouses just like the one Kugel bought, and when, one night, he discovers history -- a living, breathing, thought-to-be-dead specimen of history -- hiding upstairs in his attic, bad very quickly becomes worse.

Hope: A Tragedy is a hilarious and haunting examination of the burdens and abuse of history, propelled with unstoppable rhythm and filled with existential musings and mordant wit. It is a comic and compelling story of the hopeless longing to be free of those pasts that haunt our every present." -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

From the first page to the last, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I especially liked Solomon's quest for the perfect dying words and his conversations with the doctor and the person in his attic.

Date read: 7/5/2012
Book #: 26
Rating: 4*/5 = great
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 159448838X
ISBN-13: 9781594488382
Riverhead Books
Year: 2012
# of pages: 292
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing page

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Icon by Frederick Forsyth

First sentence:

"It was the summer when the price of a small loaf of bread topped a million rubles."

Description:

"Summer 1999. Russia stands on the threshold of anarchy. An interim president sits powerless in Moscow as his nation is wracked by famine and inflation, crime and corruption, and seething hordes of the unemployed roam the streets. For them, only one man holds out hope. The striking voice of Igor Komarov, waiting in the wings for the presidential election of January 2000, rings out over the airwaves, mesmerizing the masses with the promise of law, order, and prosperity--and the return to glory of their once great land.

Then a document falls into the hands of British Intelligence. Quickly dubbed the Black Manifesto, it outlines Komarov's secret plan for the regime as autocratic and evil as Hitler's Third Reich. Officially the West can do nothing, but in secret a group of elder statesmen sends the only person who can expose the truth about Komarov into the heart of the inferno. Ex-CIA agent Jason Monk has a dual mission: to stop Komarov, whatever it takes, and to prepare the way for an icon worthy of the Russian people.  But to do this, Monk must stay alive--and the forces allied against him are ruthless, the time frighteningly short...

Only Frederick Forsyth, the unparalleled master of the novel of international intrigue, could create this riveting thriller, as timely and unsettling as tomorrow's headlines." -- from the first page insert.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this fast-moving thriller with its mix of real and fictional events. I especially liked the twists and turns with surprises around almost every corner.

Date read: 7/2/2012
Book #: 25
Challenges: A-Z Challenge 2012, TBR Challenge 2012, Off the Shelf Challenge 2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Thriller

ISBN-10: 0553574604
ISBN-13: 9780553574609
Publisher: Bantam Books
Year: 1996
# of pages: 567
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link

First sentence:

"I used to go to thrift stores with my friends."

Description:

"Magic for Beginners is many things. Sweetly strange. Liberally scattered with brilliance. A magical lens on the stuff of life that moves and makes us. These are stories of the real world made beautifully unreal: of transformation, love, zombies and brothers fired from cannons. They are the stories you have been waiting to read." -- from the back cover


My thoughts:

I enjoyed this collection of short stories in which the odd and familiar live side by side. Some of my favorite stories were "Catskin" and "Magic for Beginners."

Date read: 6/20/2012
Book #: 24
Challenge: Off the Shelf Challenge 2012
Rating: 4*/5 = great
Genre: Fantasy

ISBN-10: 000724200X
ISBN-13: 9780007242009
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Year: 2005
# of pages: 271
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson

First sentence:

"Leeds: 'Motorway City of the Seventies.'"

Description:

"It's a day like any other for Tracy Waterhouse, working security at the local shopping center to supplement her pension from the police force. Then she makes a purchase she hadn't bargained on. One moment of madness is all it takes for Tracy's humdrum world to be turned upside down, the tedium of everyday life replaced by fear and danger and the first sparks of love.

Witnesses to Tracy's Faustian exchange are Tilly, an elderly actress teetering on the brink of her own disaster, and Jackson Brodie, the reluctant detective whose own life has been stolen and who has now been hired to find someone else's. Variously accompanied, pursued, or haunted by neglected dogs, unwanted children, and keepers of dark secrets, soon all three will learn that the past is never history - and that no good deed goes unpunished." -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

This was a good mystery with seemingly unimportant threads which prove useful in the end. I look forward to reading the first book in the series, Case Histories.


Date read: 6/6/2012
Book #: 23
Series: Jackson Brodie, #4
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Mystery

ISBN-10: 0316066737
ISBN-13: 9780316066730
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Year: 2011
# of pages: 371
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing page

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff

First sentence:

"It's a room an uninspired playwright might conjure while staring at a blank page: White walls."


Description:

Jane Charlotte has been arrested for murder.

She tells police that she is a member of a secret organization devoted to fighting evil; her division is called the Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons—"Bad Monkeys" for short.

This confession earns Jane a trip to the jail's psychiatric wing, where a doctor attempts to determine whether she is lying, crazy—or playing a different game altogether. What follows is one of the most clever and gripping novels you'll ever read.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this quirky, amusing book about good, evil, reality and fiction. I especially liked Jane's interactions with her instructors.

Date read: 6/2/2012
Book #: 22
Challenges: Off the Shelf Challenge 2012, A-Z Challenge 2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0061240419
ISBN-13: 9780061240416
Publisher: HarperCollins
Year: 2007
# of pages: 227
Binding: Paperback
LibraryThing page

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Fortune-Teller Told Me: Earthbound Travels in the Far East by Tiziano Terzani


First sentence:

"Life is full of opportunities."

Description:

"Warned by a Hong Kong fortune-teller not to risk flying for a whole year. Tiziano Terzni - a vastly experienced Asia correspondent - took what he called 'the first step into an unknown world. . . .It turned out to be one of the most extraordinary years I have ever spent. I was marked for death, and instead I was reborn.' Traveling by foot, boat, car and train, he visited Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Mongolia, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. Consulting soothsayers and shamans wherever he went, he grew to understand and respect older ways of life and beliefs now threatened by the crasser forms of Western modernity." -- from the back cover.


My thoughts:

This was an interesting memoir of travels in the Far East via train, car, and boat.

Date read: 5/27/2012
Book #: 21
Challenges: Off the Shelf Challenge 2012, New Author Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Memoir

ISBN-10: 0006550711
ISBN-13: 9780006550716
Publisher: Flamingo
Year: 1998
# of pages: 370
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Gilded Chain by Dave Duncan

First sentence:

"Grand Master looked even older than the Squire, but he had a hard trimness that age had not softened, as if he would still be deadly with that sword he wore."


Description:

As unwanted and rebellious boys, they find refuge in Ironhall....Years later they emerge as the finest swordsmen in the realm—The King's Blades.

A magical ritual of a sword through the heart binds each to his ward—if not the king himself, then to whomever else the monarch designates—with absolute loyalty.And the greatest Blade of them all was—and is—Sir Durendal.

But a lifelong dream of protecting his beloved liege from enemies, traitors, and monsters is dashed to bits when Durendal is bonded till death to an effete noble fop at his king's orders. Yet Destiny has many strange and inscrutable plans for the young knight—for a mission, a contest, and, perhaps, a treasure await him in a faraway land. But he soon finds himself enmeshed in treason and foul intrigues, compelled to betray the king he had hoped to serve. The Blades have ways to protect their own, but death and madness haunt the path to salvation—and few ever return unscathed.-- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I liked this fantasy about loyalty, friendship, and the dark side of immortality. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, The Monster War.

Date read: 5/16/2012
Book #: 20
Series: Tales of the King's Blades #1
Challenges: TBR Challenge 2012, Off the Shelf Challenge 2012, New Author Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fantasy

ISBN-10: 0380791269
ISBN-13: 9780380791262
Publisher: Eos
Year: 1999
# of pages: 396
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Someone to Watch Over by Trish MacDonald Skillman

First sentence:

"Cal Jefferies scowled at the red sports car straddling the flattened rose bush beside the driveway."

Description: 

"I will be your guardian angel, and I will never let you go. . . .

In her disheveled little house on a run-down midwestern street she has seen the signs he left her: a repaired step, a clean set of dishes, even a new nightgown on her bed. Someone is watching over her and her two children. . . .

Devastated by the death of her husband, slowly Kate Eldridge begins to live again. Now she has a second chance--at love and at happiness. But Kate doesn't know her guardian angel has plans of his own, or what violent secrets haunt him, or how far he will go to keep her and her children in her sight and in his hands. . . .

It began as an act of kindness. Now it has turned into a dangerous obsession. The man who is watching over her has crossed the line into madness. . .and into terror. . . ." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was an intense thriller featuring a man who slowly becomes a madman who creates his own reality.

Date read: 4/25/2012
Book #: 19
Challenges: TBR Challenge 2012, New Author Challenge, Off the Shelf Challenge 2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Thriller

ISBN-10: 0440217393
ISBN-13: 9780440217398
Publisher: Dell
Year: 1994
# of pages: 388
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

All Our Worldly Goods by Irene Nemirovsky

First sentence:

"They were together, so they were happy."


Description:

"Set in France between 1910 and 1940--and first published in 1947, five years after the author's death--All Our Worldly Goods is a gripping story of war, family life and star-crossed lovers Pierre and Agnes marry for love against the wishes of his parents and his grandfather, the tyrannical family patriarch. Their marriage provokes a family feud that cascades down the generations. This Brilliant novel is full of drama, heartbreak, and the telling observations that have made Nemirovsky's work so beloved and admired." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a moving story about love and courage which repeats down the generations. It was also about tradition and change and how holding on too tight often leads to loss.

Date read: 4/23/2012
Book #: 18
Challenge: A-Z Challenge 2012, New Author Challenge 2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0307743292
ISBN-13: 9780307743299
Publisher: Vintage International
Year: 1947, 2008 (Translation)
# of pages: 264
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Native Tongue by Carl Hiassen

First sentence:

"On July 16, in the aching torpid heat of the South Florida summer, Terry Whelper stood at the Avis counter at Miami International Airport and rented a bright red Chrysler LeBaron convertible."

Description:

"Who stole the voles? Yes, it's true. The precious blue-tongued mango voles at the Amazing Kingdom of Thrills in North Key Largo are gone, stolen by heartless, ruthless thugs with much bigger - and deadlier - things in mind.

Joe Winder wants to uncover those "things" and find the voles. Winder is a burned-out ex-muckraking reporter now working for the Amazing Kingdom theme park as their PR man. But now the voles are gone, and Winder is dragged along in their wake through a series of weird and lethal events that begin with the sleazy real-estate agent/villain Francis X. Kingsbury and can end only one way. And Winder has no idea what way that will be. Until its damn near too late." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this off-beat book about crooked developers, bungling crooks, and amusement parks.

Date read: 4/18/2012
Book #: 17
Challenges: A-Z Challenge 2012, Off the Shelf Challenge 2012, New Authors Challenge 2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0449221180
ISBN-13: 9780449221181
Publisher: Fawcett Crest
Year: 1991
# of pages: 407
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Household Gods by Judith Tarr and Harry Turtledove

First sentence:

"Nicole Gunther-Perrin rolled over to turn off the alarm clock and found herself nose to nose with two Roman gods."


Description:

"Nicole Gunther-Perrin is a modern young professional, proud of her legal skills but weary of the daily grind, of childcare, and of sexist coworkers and her deadbeat ex-husband. Then after one exceptionally awful day, she awakens to find herself in a different life, that of a widowed tavernkeeper on the Roman frontier around A.D. 170.

Delighted at first, she quickly begins to realize that her new world is as complicated as her old one. Violence, dirt, and pain are everywhere; slavery is commonplace, gladiators kill for sport, and drunkenness is taken for granted. Yet, somehow, people manage to face life everyday with humor and goodwill.

No quitter, Nicole manages to adapt, despite endless worry about the fate of her children "back" in the twentieth century. Then plague sweeps through Carnuntum, followed by brutal war. Amidst pain and loss on a level she had never imagined, Nicole must find reserves of the sort of strength she had never known." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I liked this book about a modern woman finding herself in a different time, but not because of the time travel. Rather, I liked the way Nicole has to confront her assumptions and how she finds the strength she needs in herself.

Date read: 4/9/2012
Book #: 16
Challenges: TBR Challenge 2012, Off the Shelf Challenge 2012, A-Z Challenge 2012
Rating: 4*/5 = great
Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction

ISBN-10: 0812564669
ISBN-13: 9780812564662
Publisher: Tor Fantasy
Year: 1999
# of pages: 664
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lullabye by Patricia Wallace

First sentence:

"Wyatt English had been a doctor long enough to know that bad things happened even on the most beautiful of spring days, but until today the bad things had always happened to someone else."

Description:

"Eight year old Bronwyn knew she wasn't like other girls. She didn't have a mother. At least not a real one. Her mother had been in a coma at the hospital for as long as Bronwyn could remember. She couldn't feel any pain, her father said, it was just like sleeping - only she never woke up.

But on visiting days, when Bronwyn sat with her mother, she knew it wasn't true that she couldn't feel anything. Her mother was angry. Angry at the nurses and doctors for the way they treated her. Angry at her own helplessness.

But soon, very soon, she would be helpless no longer. And then she would show them all the true meaning of suffering." -- from the back cover


My thoughts:

This was a good book about revenge, grief, and moving on. I liked the relationship between Wyatt and his daughter Bronwyn. 

Date read: 3/31/2012
Book #: 15
Challenges: TBR Challenge 2012, Off the Shelf Challenge 2012, New Author Challenge 2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Horror

ISBN-10: 0821729179
ISBN-13: 9780821729175
Publisher: Zebra Books
Year: 1990
# of pages: 287
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Friday, March 30, 2012

Sphere by Michael Crichton

First sentence:

"For a long time the horizon had been a monotonous flat blue line separating the Pacific Ocean from the sky."

Description:

"In the South Pacific, 1,000 feet beneath the surface, a spaceship rests on the ocean floor -- a spaceship at least 300 years old.

Rushed to the scene are four scientists: an astrophysicist, a biologist, a mathematician and a psychologist. Together they descend into the depths of the sea to investigate this astonishing find, to search for answers.

Has it come from an alien culture? From a different universe? From the future? What happened to the crew and what is the giant silver sphere of alien construction that they find inside the ship?

The riddle seems unsolvable. Then someone or something begins to transmit messages onto their computer screen: messages that grow increasingly hostile, hinting at a terrifying power that threatens to destroy their underwater habitat and their very lives. . ." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a very good thriller with many twists and turns. I like the way it was hard to distinguish what's real and what's not.

Date read: 3/29/2012
Book #: 14
Challenges: TBR Challenge 2012, Off the Shelf Challenge 2012, A to Z Challenge 2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Thriller

ISBN-10: 0330301276
ISBN-13: 9780330310275
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Year: 1987
# of pages: 385
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright

First sentence:

"Shortly after 11:00 P.M., Laurel slid under the maroon comforter and into bed next to her husband, Jack."

Description:

"Their story began with one letter on their wedding night.

I made a promise today at the church and I'm making another promise tonight. I'm going to write to you every week . . .Laurel, I will always stand by you. No matter what. . .

It ended almost forty years later, when Jack and Laurel Cooper died in each other's arms. But before he took his last breath, Jack wrote his wife one final 'Wednesday letter.'

When the Cooper children return home, they discover the thousands of letters left behind. As they read them, clues to a shattering family secret emerge--and they are brought face-to-face with a life-changing moment of truth." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a great book about family and discovery. So much is discovered that I had to remind myself that it takes place over just a few days.

Date read: 3/27/2012
Book #: 13
Challenges: New Author Challenge 2012, Off the Shelf Challenge 2012, A-Z Challenge 2012
Rating: 4*/5 = great
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0425223477
ISBN-13: 9780425223475
Publisher: Berkley Books
Year: 2007
# of pages: 280
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Green Hills of Earth by Robert A. Heinlein

First sentence: 

"Sure, we had trouble building Space Ship One -- but the trouble was people."

Description:

"The arching sky is calling
Spaceman back to their trade.
All hands! Stand by! Free falling!
And the lights below us fade

Out ride the sons of Terra,
Far drives the thundering jet,
Up leaps the race of Earthman,
Out, far, and onward yet --

We've tried each spinning space mote
And reckoned its true worth:
Take us back again to the homes of men
On the cool green hills of Earth.

We pray for one last landing
On the globe that gave us birth
Let us rest our eyes on fleecy skies,
And the cool green hills of Earth!" 
-- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I enjoyed these short stories about the Earth and the Moon. Two of my favorites were "'It's Great to Be Back'" about a couple who learns where their home is, and "--We Also Walk Dogs" about a new kind of concierge company.

Date read: 3/21/2012
Book #: 12
Challenges: Off the Shelf Challenge, TBR Challenge 2012
Rating: 3*/5
Genre: SF

ISBN-10: 0671578357
ISBN-13: 9780671578534
Publisher: Baen Books
Year: 1951
# of pages: 270
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pig Island by Mo Hayder

First sentence: 

"The alarms first went off in my head when the landlord and the lobsterman showed me what had been washed up on the beach."

Description:

"SEE EVIL

Journalist Joe Oakes makes a living exposing supernatural hoaxes. But what he sees when he visits a secretive religious community on a remote Scottish island forces him to question everything he thought he knew.

HEAR EVIL

Why have the islanders been accused of Satanism? What has happened to their leader? And why will no one discuss the strange creature seen wandering the lonely beaches of Pig Island?

READ EVIL

In Pig Island, Mo Hayder dares you to face your fears head on and to look at what lurks beneath the surface of everyday normality. It's about the unspeakable things people do to each other." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a very good thriller with lots of twists and turns. I liked the ways the characters interacted and I definitely did not expect the ending.

Date read: 3/19/2012
Book #: 11
Challenges: New Author Challenge 2012, Off the Shelf Challenge 2012, TBR Challenge 2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Thriller

ISBN-10: 0055381463X
ISBN-13: 97800553814637
Publisher: Bantam Books
Year: 2006
# of pages: 494
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page


Friday, March 9, 2012

The Girl in the Glass by Jeffrey Ford

First sentence:

"Some days ago I sat by the window in my room, counting the number of sedative pills I've palmed over the course of the last three months."

Description:

"The Great Depression has bound a nation in despair -- and only a privileged few have risen above it: the exorbitantly wealthy ... and the hucksters who feed upon them. Diego, a seventeen-year-old illegal Mexican immigrant, owes his salvation to master grifter Thomas Schell. Together with Schell's gruff and powerful partner, they sail comfortably through hard times, scamming New York's grieving rich with elaborate, ingeniously staged séances -- until an impossible occurrence changes everything.

While 'communing with spirits,' Schell sees an image of a young girl in a pane of glass, silently entreating the con man for help. Though well aware that his otherworldly "powers" are a sham, Schell inexplicably offers his services to help find the lost child -- drawing Diego along with him into a tangled maze of deadly secrets and terrible experimentation.

At once a hypnotically compelling mystery and a stunningly evocative portrait of Depression-era New York, The Girl in the Glass is a masterly literary adventure from a writer of exemplary vision and skill." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a good book about staged seances, immigration, Prohibition and life of grifters trying to make a living among the rich. I liked Diego's relationships with Schell, Antony, and Isabel.

Date read: 3/8/2012
Book #: 10
Challenge: Off the Shelf Challenge 2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Historical Fiction

ISBN-10: 0060936193
ISBN-13: 9780060936198
Publisher: Dark Alley
Year: 2005
# of pages: 281
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page