Sunday, November 30, 2014

Books Read in November



Here are the books I finished this month. I only finish books that I like enough to recommend to other readers, keeping in mind that no two people ever read the same book and that each and every book is a unique collaboration between the writer and the reader, filtered through the reader's experiences, beliefs, and knowledge.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Book of the Week - Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane

In the beginning, I wasn't sure I liked this story of the people of a Texas town where a high school boy, who was obsessed with quantum physics, disappeared one day. As the time after the disappearance grows, a variety of residents show who they are by talking about the missing Tommy Smythe. Along the way other stories are told.

The structure is challenging and I was glad I stuck with it because eventually I  was captivated by the various narrators, the essential questions, and its ambiguity. A stunning debut.

While it is not science fiction, it will appeal to readers who like the big questions often posed in SF.  My gut feeling read-alikes for it would be Ultraviolet by R. J. Anderson and Cecil Castelucci's First Day on Earth.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Teen Romance - Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton

Thrill-seeker Dyna lives on risk but it almost kills her when she plummets onto submerged rocks in a swimming hole. Rescued by a perfect guy who, not really her type falls in love with her, she faces a lengthy recovery and the prospect of never climbing mountains again. Forced into an alternative rehab program by her mother she meets others with horrible injuries including a nineteen-year-old one legged former soldier. It is an interesting and refreshingly brief but emotional teen romance. Kudos on the nicely depicted caring parents, a couple of bikers covered in tattoos.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Revisiting an Old Friend

The Thing I Didn't Know I Didn't Know 
Brent Hartinger

I've loved Hartinger's teen books since Geography Club and Last Chance Texaco. I must admit that even though I wanted to know how Russel was as an adult, I started this book for adults with some trepidation. Did Russel turn out ok? Were he, Min, and Gunnar still friends? In The Thing I Didn't Know I Didn't Know my hopes were fulfilled and my fears banished.

It falls into the new adult category, a recent sub genre that combines the angst that doesn't end at 18 or 21 but continues on through the early 20s (and for many, much longer) with adult characters, challenges, and situations. I had never read a Gay romance before (terrible to confess as a reader's advisor who tries to read broadly)  but even though I would classify this as a romance, it doesn't really follow the traditional romance story arc,  there is so much more going on -- friendships, work life, and Bigfoot. It is really true to life of what people think about and worry about in their 20s, including sex.

I hope that all those readers who loved teen age Russel, Min, and Gunnar when they were teens themselves, find this story now as adults.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Book of the Week - The Lightning Horse by John Moore

John Moore's comedic satirical tales always hit my funny bone just right. His long awaited latest novel, is a take off on Frankenstein with lots of echoes of the Gene Wilder film Young Frankenstein and innumerable horse books. It features a couple of gamblers with a dead bay horse named the Roan Ranger who have big plans for his reanimation but a unicorn brain, mobsters, teen angst, and a kick-ass female jockey may throw a monkey wrench in their plans. The twists of language and well known tropes are delightful. Moore's earlier books were published by Ace but this one was published by Yard Dog Press, a small press specializing in science fiction, fantasy, and horror that unfortunately seems to distribute solely through Amazon.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

October Reads

                November has been rushing by and I had not yet posted the books I read in October.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Book of the Week - Station Eleven

This amazing literary tour de force is also an excellent apocalyptic science fiction tale full of heart and emotion. Going back an forth in time in the lives of several characters who are linked in strange and round about ways, we come to know them and love them as the sum of the individual stories add up to a larger than life whole. It starts with an actor dropping dead on stage while playing King Lear and along the way we see his first love who draws a graphic novel that influences an insane prophet who is trying to take over the much diminished world following a global pandemic. But that is just a tiny part of the story. So many characters, so many stories, all entwined and woven together to come around into one of the best novels of the year.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book of the Week - The Last Dead Girl by Harry Dolan

The Last Dead Girl
Dolan, Harry
Berkley 2014

Wow! This knock-your-socks-off thriller set in Rome, New York in 1998 features David Malone who is sucked into several murder investigations after being taken in for questioning when he finds the bloody body of his new lover. He only knew Jana, a first year law student working on an innocence project,  for ten days, but the night he met her, he quit going home to his fiancee. He puts everything aside to hunt down her killer starting with investigating where she got the bruise she was sporting when he first set eyes on her. When he investigates he runs afoul of a police detective. The twists and turns in this creepy, topnotch thriller were unexpected and kept me guessing. This is a prequel to Bad Things Happen that featured David in later years after he has moved away and changed his last name to Loogan which caused the blurb on the back from Stephen King to leave me confused. I don’t know how I missed Dolan’s first two David Loogan books and the original hardcover release of this until now but he is definitely on my radar now.

The trade paperback edition was released last week.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Book of the Week - The Forgotten Girl by David Bell

The Forgotten Girl
Bell, David
NAL 978-0451-41752-7 448p. 2014 - October

Years after leaving Manhattan to move back to his small hometown, Jason, who works in advertising and his wife are surprised when his long out of touch sister Hayden turns up and asks them to take care of her teenaged daughter for forty-eight hours. Hayden has had a difficult life due to addiction so when she drops out of contact and her abandoned car is found blood-speckled up on Heroin Hill, there is substantial reason to worry. Almost three decades earlier, on the night of their graduation, Jason’s best friend disappeared after a fight but continued to send cards to his parents a few times a year. The tension mounts as long ago relationships and conflicts come into focus in this atmospheric suspense novel dealing with disappearances sucks the reader in. It has much the same feel as Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

My Real Children by Jo Walton

My Real Children
Jo  Walton
Tor 2014

Patricia, suffering from dementia, is in a nursing home. She has memories of two, very distinctly different lives. Covering the years from 1933 when she was seven, to 2015 when she is lying in a bed not wanting to have to decide which was her real life, she loves both her lives.

In both lives she got an Oxford education and had children. In one life she had several pregnancies and four children who lived; in the other life she gave birth to two children but mothered others. In one life she had love, in the other respectability. In one world, peace and cooperation lead to scientific advances; in the other bombings and nuclear fallout affect her life.

As always, Walton’s writing is mesmerizing, pulling the reader into the lives and hearts of the people in the pages. This is very subtle science fiction, mostly taking place in the past but in two very familiar worlds where subtle difference show they are not ours.

My Real Children is one of those books a reader never forgets. One that will echo, with thoughts of it springing into mind unbidden, for many years. Definitely one of the best books of the year.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Book of the Week Wood Sprites by Wen Spencer

Wood Sprites
Wen Spencer
Baen 2014

I always find it hardest to write reviews of books I fall in love with. Wood Sprites with its wit, imagination, and humor is fully in this category.

     Just days before their ninth birthday, precocious twins, Louise and Jillian discover they are not biologically related to their parents when their blood type is revealed after they create a huge explosion when filming an episode of their underground video series set in their imagined version of Elfhome. The issue with their parentage is extremely mystifying since they’ve seen the video of their birth and they know they emerged from their mother. In this delightful romp, the twins uncover their true parentage and relationship to Tinker, become celebrities, write and produce a kick ass school play version of Peter Pan, and discover a diabolical plot that could end the accord between our world and its parallel, Elfhome. It is set in the world of Spencer’s outstanding science fantasy Elfhome series where a transdimensional gate catapults a near future Pittsburgh onto a parallel world inhabite by elves  where it stays except for one day a month.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Read in August

Here are most of the books I read in August. There were a couple that weren't on Riffle yet including the picture book Little Puppy and the Big Green Monster by Mike Wohnoutka that I like a lot.
Remember, I only finish reading books I enjoy and like enough to recommend to others so all of these are recommended. I didn't read much YA/Teen in August but The Name of the Blade played out like a very colorful anime right before my eyes, I loved the combination of fairy tale and science fiction in Stitching Snow, and was surprised by the unpredictability of The Devil's Intern. Wood Sprites, Thief's Magic, and Trace of Magic were all very well done, extremely enjoyable, fantasy novels. The time periods and settings in Seven for a Secret, the Fair Miss Fortune, and Flight of the Sparrow all were informative and skillfully drawn making each of their eras come vividly to life complete with smells and sounds.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Seven for a Secret by Lyndsay Faye

Seven for a Secret
Lyndsay Faye
Berkley 2014
Timothy Wilde is a New York policeman, a wearer of a copper badge who may be of small stature but has a huge need to see justice done. He is quite the opposite of his brother Valentine, a big-shot in the corrupt Democratic machine that runs the city in the days of corrupt Tammany Hall, but despite their differences they are always there for each other. This adventure pits Tim against slave hunters who have kidnapped a free black woman and her young nephew and whose incredibly beautiful sister is married to a white man with a secret identity. He meets a vigilance committee, a group of free blacks who have banded together to help those other free blacks who are the targets of kidnappers who sell them into slavery and get away with it by pretending to be catching escaped slaves. The evil madam, Silkie Marsh, is still up to nefarious deeds. Well researched with the slang of the New York criminal class and vivid descriptions of the filth, poverty, and stink of mid 19th century Manhattan.
I generally don't review paperback reprints but this trade edition came in and I had missed it when it came out last year in hardcover.

 Recommended for book clubs.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book of the Week - Etta Mae’s Worst Bad-Luck Day by Anne B. Ross

Etta Mae’s Worst Bad-Luck Day
Anne B. Ross Viking 2014
Sassy Etta Mae, the bad girl of the Miss Julie series gets to tell her story. Working as a CNA, the twice divorced bombshell who has a kind heart is is engaged to Howard Connard, Senior, the wealthy elderly community leader, once the major employer in the area. Unfortunately her boss has told Howard Junior who has immediately come from Raleigh, even though he hadn't visited his father for months, and made plans to move him to a nursing home. Meanwhile, Etta Mae’s first ex-husband who had left her with nothing but debt returns to to town to tell her he has a winning lottery ticket he wants to split with her but unfortunately he is on the wrong side of a bunch of big bad guys who are hell bent on getting the ticket. When Etta Mae works out a way to free her fiance and get the wedding done in a hurry, every thing that can go wrong does to comic effect.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Carsick by John Walters

It has been another wild and crazy week with little time for reading.

I am a big fan of John Waters' movies so I grabbed his new audiobook Carsick which has something to offend almost anyone but is laugh-out-loud hilarious. I liked how he comes across as a genuinely good guy, albeit rather kinky and sometimes sex obsessed. The references to his movies and the people who played in them were delightful and the folks he met (or made up) in the course of his hitchhiking from his Baltimore home to his San Francisco home were awesomely quirky as were the bizarre and "filthy" (his word) situations he found (or imagined) himself in. Definitely for an adult audience.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Flight of the Sparrow by Amy Belding Brown

This take on the real life story of Mary Rowlandson, a 17th century Puritan taken captive by Indians in King Philip's war and held for 11 weeks presents her differently, as a more complex and interesting person than in her memoir which can be read through Project Gutenberg. I highly recommend this novel for book groups with its useful author's note and discussion questions. While it is not a "fun" read, the look at the time and setting, life in a Puritan community and an Indian nation at war and on the move was fascinating. Mary's feelings for her children and later, the way her views of slavery, a woman's place, the treatment of indigenous people, and child rearing change is believable and great for discussion.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Book of the Week - Little Greed Men by Kym O’Connell-Todd and Mark Todd

Little Greed Men
O’Connell-Todd, Kym and Mark Todd
Raspberry Creek 9780985135232 2013

One of my favorite books of all time is Tourist Season, Carl Hiaasen’s hilarious debut novel which utilizes alligators, both living and rubber, as murder weapons. It resonated so much with me because I’ve spent most of my adult life in rural paradises that are  unfortunately very appealing to tourists, scammers, and developers -- somewhat like Hiaasen’s Florida. Now I’ve found another rollicking novel dealing with the conflicting values between those who love the rural landscape, those who want to develop it, and the woo woo invaders who love it but just don’t “get” it.

     The team who wrote the Silverville Saga, are astute observers of rural Western Slope Colorado and have nailed the setting and citizenry and what happens when change hits these communities. A purported UFO sighting leads to economic development when a shady citizen jumps on the bandwagon to publicize it as vacation destination complete with a UFO themed museum, motel, and amusement park. The town hires a UFO expert to guide the campaign but when on his way to Silverville, he gets out of his car to pee on a mountain pass during a late spring blizzard and is accidentally hit and killed by a con man who inadvertently takes on his identity.

     Quirky characters, twisty plots, and guffaw worthy coincidences combine for a thoroughly delightful reading experience. One of the good things about reading a book when it isn’t brand-new-hot-off-the-press that does have sequels is that the reader doesn’t have to wait around for years for the next book. I can request a copy of All Plucked Up right now and be reading it later this week!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Something Weird

Something weird has happened to my teen review site www.teensread.org. I've reset the cname so hopefully it will be back soon. It can still be accessed at http://genrefluentteentalk.blogspot.com/  I found out because I heard from some teens who were trying to submit reviews.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Book of the Week - The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

The Goblin Emperor
Addison, Katherine
Tor 2014 - April

Eighteen-year-old Maia, the son of the emperor of Untheileneise, has lived in exile all his life, relegated to a manor far from towns, cities, and the royal court of his elvish father, under the guardianship of a cousin who hates him. His life has been desolate since his goblin mother died when he was only eight years old and he has experienced no kindness or affection since she died. When a dirigible carrying the emperor and Maia’s many half brothers crashes and burns, he finds himself the new emperor. Going to court, woefully unprepared for politics, his innate good sense and kindness come into play as he faces racial prejudice and political rivals who would welcome a coup. While Maia may be naive in the ways of palace intrigue, he is far from that in his appraisal of human (elvish & goblin) nature.      Discovering that the dirigible explosion was intentional, he faces even more dangers.

Addison’s complex world building is some of the best in fantasy this century. In addition to creating a political system, religions, language, and customs, her world also looks at race and gender roles. I loved the expressions and emotional nuances delineated by what is going on with the placement and attitude of characters’ ears.

This satisfying read is going on my list of top ten so far this year.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Short Takes on Recent Reads


At ALA I was able to pick up three ARCs written by some of my very favorite authors. I read them too fast and now, alas, I must wait a long time for their next books. Paolo Bacigalupi's Doubt Factory was a real change for him in many ways. It was contemporary suspense/thriller instead of science fiction but did feature insightful social commentary and exposes serious problems facing the world.  

Lish McBride's Firebug, featuring a a young woman with the ability to create fire, rebels against the organization and its leader that has forced her to perform assassinations, kept me entertained while sitting in the hospital while my dear husband was going through knee replacement surgery. McBride is masterful in creating groups of characters with all their relationships and baggage who come through for each other. It was great to be surrounded by such an interesting and illustrious crowd while going through such a worrisome time. 

Clariel by Garth Nix was wonderful. A stand alone prequel, it will send readers to hunt down his other Old Kingdom books immediately. Clariel wants to be a Borderer but as the daughter of prominent gold smiths, a member of the Abhorsen family, and a close relative to the throne she is forced to go to the city where politics and magic are running amok.




Saturday, July 5, 2014

Book of the Week - The Ways of the Dead by Neely Tucker

The Ways of the Dead
Neely Tucker
Viking 2014

Sully Carter, a veteran reporter of several wars, most recently Bosnia, is now in Washington, D.C. trying to keep his career going despite his increasing problems with alcohol. When the teen daughter of a federal judge is found dead in an alley in the bad neighborhood where she was taking dance classes theories abound  tied to the judge's cases and political ambitions. Sully doesn’t buy the easy solution that leads to the arrest of three black youths who had been harassing  the victim just before her death especially after the body of another young woman is found in the cellar of a nearby building. In Sully’s quest for the truth, it appears he may have stumbled across the trail of a serial killer. Tucker captures the end of an era as the 20th century and old style investigative reporting head to their ends in this suspenseful debut novel.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

ALA and Books Read in June - Final

Just returned from the annual American Library Association conference where I received Novelist's Margaret Monroe. So many good friends showed up to celebrate with me. It was wonderful.

Picked up many advance reading copies that looked like good reads and mailed them home. Can't wait to try them. I did put three of my most highly anticipated books in my carry on and am thrilled I was able to get them.  They are Clariel by Garth Nix, The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi, and Firebug by Lish McBride.






June ended up being a very wild and busy month but here are the books read.



Monday, June 23, 2014

Book of the Week - Dangerous by Shannon Hale

Maisie Danger Brown, who was born without a right hand, always wanted to be an astronaut and now, at age 16, the homeschooled daughter of two scientists, wins a contest featured on the back of a cereal box. Her prize is a scholarship to space camp. At the camp, run by the brilliant but odd Dr. Howell, the scientist who built an elevator to an asteroid in geosynchronous orbit and on to a space station, Maisie develops a crush on the very good looking and super wealthy Jonathan Wilder. Everything goes into high gear when Maisie's team along with Wilder are chosen to visit the base station of the elevator. When it turns out the elevator is going up with room to spare, Howell takes the five teens along. At the asteroid they are shown alien artifacts that quickly sink into their hands, creating great pain, and eventually giving each of them a super power. This fast paced action adventure thriller has just enough romance to pull in readers who may not have known they would like science fiction. Scorpion Shards by Neal Shusterman and Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson also feature superhero abilities and world saving action with unique teen protagonists.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Recent Reads

I've been swamped this month but have gotten in some mmm-mmm-mmm good reading! I hate to talk about books too far in advance so just know that in September you want to read The Hawley Book of the Dead (my review will be in an upcoming issue of Booklist) and as soon as February hits, if you love fairy tales told differently, you'll want to grab Dearest. While you are waiting for it, be sure to read Enchanted and Hero, the companion books in Kontis's Woodcutter series.

Right now you can read The Wrong Girl, a page turning mystery thriller or Making Faces, a feel good tale of friends, love, and loss that folks who likes Shotgun Lovesongs will also enjoy.

Happy reading all, I'm off to decide which of the three books calling my name right now will be my next read.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Books Read in June

I'm currently serving on the Listen List committee. We create a list of the top 12 audiobooks of the year. One of the great things about being on a selection committee is having to read (or in this case listen to) books I would have never picked up on my own. The Listen List is also nice because if an older book has been recorded in audio format this year, it is eligible so I'm able to go back and read some of those older books I missed when they were originally published.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Books Read in May 2014

It was a great reading month. I did pretty well with my reading plan getting in nonfiction, western, mystery, graphic novel, middle grade, picture book, teen, fantasy, women's fiction, paranormal, literary, and romance. So many good reads.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Reading Plan - Middle Grade Fiction - Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life by P.J. Hoover

Following my reading it plan, I was overdue for a middle grade novel, so I was delighted to have Tut turn up in the mail. Hoover seems to have found her niche in the genre popularized by Rick Riordan of blending mythology, adventure, and contemporary middle school angst. Can't  wait to booktalk this to kids.

Fourteen-year-old King Tut is assassinated in his tomb by his uncle and advisor, General Horemheb a devotee of the Cult of Set, but he gives as well as he gets and slays Horemheb at the same time. But, that is not the end, it is only the beginning as the gods step in and give them both immortal hearts. Flash forward three thousand years and Tut, forever fourteen, is an eighth grader in Washington D.C. and Horemheb is still not done with him and the Cult of Set is growing ever more dangerous.

I remember how passionate I was about mythology starting in third grade so I figure kids, that young, who love mythology will also go for it. It's main audience, though, is probably those in 5th - 7th grade who will appreciate the humor and enjoy attaching obscure facts found in the story to what they  already know about ancient Egypt and contemporary Washington D.C.  Tut's family and friends are also a delight.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Reading Plan - Nonfiction. Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind

Keeping with my reading plan I was overdue for some nonfiction. I've been a big fan of Twitter since 2008 so I decided to give Biz Stone's memoir/essays a go. I am glad I did.

Great memoir and inspirational essay. Biz is the kind of person I like to hang out with. His risk taking, career-wise, is a familiar story and I love, love, love, how he is trying to make the world a better place. I have followed my passions throughout life, making some decisions that definitely didn't make for a plump pocketbook but I've not been bored. Like Biz and his wife, Rick and I have taken off across country on the chance a new job would work out and in addition to that we also rented a place sight unseen that didn't work out as well as hoped.  We also left lucrative jobs to be where we wanted to be and to do what we wanted to do. I would love to know what Biz's Meyers-Briggs letters are.

I'm definitely a reluctant reader when it comes to nonfiction but I found this thoroughly enjoyable because of Biz's exuberant way of living his life.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Book of the Week - Backlands by Michael McGarrity

Backlands
Michael McGarrity
Dutton 507p. $28.95 2014

This sequel to Hard Country can be read on its own but makes a lot more sense if one has started at the beginning of the Kerney family presence in New Mexico. Backlands starts after CJ Kerney has been killed in the Great War. Emma’s health is failing and she takes eight-year-old Matt to the ranch where he finally becomes acquainted with his irascible father, Patrick. This is really Matt’s story as he shoulders responsibilities beyond his years, follows the path Emma had wanted for him, and does make it to college. New Mexico in the first half of the 20th century is the main “character” of this saga with accurate descriptions of the “land of enchantment” and her people at their best and at their worst. Matt is a smart strong character who becomes real through his triumphs and disasters. McGarrity knows New Mexico and it shows with his authentic descriptions from transcendent beauty to parched ugliness.  The Roaring 20s, the dust bowl years, the Great Depression, and the years of World War II are conveyed with truth. On an intimate level, Matt experiences extraordinary love and loss. I was particularly struck by changes in fortune faced by the Kerneys that so echoed what was happening to my own antecedents in those same years several miles to the north. The precariousness of ranch life is eloquently detailed in a way that makes the reader care. Backlands is an appreciation of New Mexico, a love story about the land and people, detailing the sordid as well as the splendid. I can’t imaging any library in the American West not wanting to have both Hard Country and Backlands in their collections. I completely concur with the reviewers who have recommended it as a readalke to readers of The Son by Philipp Meyer and Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.

May's Reads...so far


Sunday, May 11, 2014

On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee

Beautiful writing is joined with a well developed dystopian future world in which there are three distinct strata of society; charter villages for the elite, settlements where laborers produce the food and goods used by the elite, and the open counties, dangerous lawless open country where it is everyone for herself in this literary science fiction novel. Fan, a feisty heroine, is a tank diver, taking care of the perfect fish raised in B-Mor until she leaves to hunt for her lover who was taken away. Out in the open counties Fan encounters a variety of dangerous situations learns the tragic and violent pasts of those she runs into but, in the tradition of literary fiction, the story is not the strong suit. I can recommend it to folks who like literary fiction and aren't afraid of some science fiction trappings. I'ld recommend this to readers who like Haruki Murakami or Peter Heller's The Dog Stars.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

OMG! I get to meet Jo Walton!

     ALA the annual meeting of the American Library Association is a little more than a month away. I'm excited because I'll be accepting the Margaret E. Monroe Library Adult Services Award at the RUSA Achievement Awards Event on Sunday of the conference. I'll also be seeing my dear libraryland friends, the librarians, editors, publishers, and authors who mean the world to me.

   I'm planning my reading for ALA because I am such a fan girl and I always like to be prepared. When I meet the authors I am in such awe of, I want to have recently read their books.

     I'm going to a dinner where the guests of honor include Deborah Coonts, Terry Goodkind, Alan Gratz, Rachel Howzell Hall, P.J. Hoover, Douglas Preston, Hank Phillippi Ryan, V. E. Schwab, Wen Spencer, and Jo Walton.

     Some of these authors are new to me, some I've enjoyed in the past, and OMG! I get to meet Jo Walton! I loved Nancy Pearl's interview of Jo but most of all I loved her book 
Among Others, published by Tor Books (ISBN:9780765321534) in 2011. 

In 1979, fifteen-year-old Mor, grieving the death of her twin and her own loss of mobility due to a shattered leg and hip is sent to a girls' boarding school.  She finds refuge in the science fiction and fantasy novels she loves and spends as much time as she can in the school library and public library. Meanwhile she tries to see fairies, who do not seem present in England, a big difference from where she lived in Wales. 

     The beauty in this book lies in Mor's connection to books and through her love of books, relationships with the school librarian, her newly met father, and Wim, an attractive "bad boy" from the library SF club. I probably love this so much because she is so much me when I was a young teen and even though this story, told in diary format, is set in 1979-80, when the protagonist is 15 and I was 25, we were reading the same books at the same time and often, even coming to the same conclusions about them. This book is well deserving of all the accolades and awards it won.


     As a procrastiread, a book so good I didn't want it to end, I was able to stretch it out over three days. It is meant to be savored.


    Jo Walton is not the only author I'm excited about in this lineup. I'll be writing about the ones I've read soon, and after I have read the ones new to me, I'll be sharing them with you.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Read in May


I'm hoping I will be able to "sell" the very awesome Revolution by Deborah Wiles to someone at Bistro Teen Book Club on Tuesday at Delta Library. It is an extraordinary novel with lots photographs and song lyrics at the beginning of sections that really make 1965 come alive. It is complex, meaningful, and important but is going to be a stretch for many readers the ages of the protagonists and may be very disturbing to younger readers with sophisticated skills who will by horrified by the violence surrounding the Freedom Summer in 1965 Mississippi. I think teens who try it will love it but it is being marketed to grades 3-7. 

Caged Warrior by Alan Lawrence Sitomer is for the opposite end of YA. Powerful and hard hitting, this grim and gritty story of high school sophomore who supports his family with earnings from fighting mixed martial arts cage matches pulls no punches in looking at some of the ugliness in the world. This page turner will pull in the toughest of reluctant readers.

Book of the Week - The Axe Factor by Colin Cotterill

The Axe Factor
Cotterill, Colin
Minotaur 2014

Jimm Juree, a Thai crime journalist who has followed her family  to a small seaside village after her perhaps slightly demented mother bought a resort there finds mysteries far from the big city. This, the third novel detailing her adventures,
is the first one I’ve read and I thoroughly enjoyed it It is fully of quirky interesting characters. She is sent to do a story on a very attractive British ex-pat novelist living nearby where she is warned off by his Burmese housekeeper. He claims to divorcing his young wife but had she actually left him? After all, a man who flings axes at watermelons for research on his mysteries could be hiding something. The village’s lone doctor is also missing. Things really start heating up when a threat is attached to Jimm’s front door with a hand axe.

I will be looking for more enjoyable jaunts in this series. The setting in Thailand is intriguing and fresh and Jimm’s bread and butter job of translating signs into English exposes some hilarious mistranslations done by others. Her relationship with family members including the family dogs are also a treat.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

3 for 3

So far this month three books in three days. Nice to be back at my traditional pace even if only for a short while. The Axe Factor is my next featured Book of the Week. 

I've submitted my reviews of Better Homes and Hauntings, a delightfully humorous paranormal romance and A Woman of Fortune,  a "lifestyles of glitz and the rich" Christian romance to Booklist so watch for them there.


You can see what I'm reading and what I've read lately on Riffle.  Please follow me there.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Book of the Week: Happily Ever After by Elizabeth Maxwell

Book of the Week
Happily Ever After by Elizabeth Maxwell
Touchstone/Simon and Schuster     2014

    Forty-six years old, plump, and fairly well-off, Sadie Fuller supports her eleven-year-old daughter, her daughter’s gay dad, and a housekeeper very well with her earnings from secretly writing erotica under a pen name. She had written sweet romances under her own name until her belief in happily ever after was dashed by divorce. Now, with no hopes of romance in her heart, she makes do with a weekly appointment for no strings attached sex with a lawyer she found on Craig’s List. Everything changes one day when, like the ordinary suburban mom she projects as her image, she is shopping for toilet paper in Target. She comes to the rescue of a gorgeous man who is totally out of his element and suffering from amnesia roaming around the store. Later, when she is called by the hospital as the next of kin contact for the mystery man, she uncharacteristically decides to take him home with her.

    Strange things are happening to Sadie. The night before she hadn’t made her self-set word quota but that morning there were several thousand more words in her manuscript that she hadn’t written. Now she has a strange, albeit, breathtakingly beautiful man without a past in her house. Add to that, a witch's curse and characters from her books becoming real. This witty, humorous debut novel is a delight, blending romance, contemporary life, and a just right touch of magic together in an entertaining read.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Book of the Week - The Tropic of Serpents: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan

In a lovely combination of fantasy set in a fully imagined world much like our 19th century where intrepid naturalist, Isabella Camherst, leaves her son behind in Scirland and with a young female companion ventures into the Green Hell, an equatorial swamp, the home of serpents she suspects are dragons. Like the first book in the series, A Natural History of Dragons, this memoir of the fictional Lady Trent prominently features her love of science and the scientific method. Global politics, cultural anthropology, and daring adventure also play a role. The beautiful pencil illustrations are a welcome addition.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

March Reads

March did come in like a lion with wild days at work (including, I kid you not, one day I arrived at 8:30 am and left at 3:30 the following morning!), the big award announcement, and the happy occasion of my mom coming over to the Western Slope to hang out with my favorite guys and their Melissa for a couple of weeks.

Anyway, I've had a little trouble sticking to books as one can see by looking at my "currently reading" list on Riffle. I'm definitely not on a book a day path this month.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I Won an Award!!!


The RUSA Achievement Awards Ceremony and Reception will be held from 5-6:30 p.m. Sunday, June 29 at the ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas. All conference attendees are invited to the event. Additional event details will be available on the RUSA website in April.

Diana Tixier Herald, program and outreach manager at Delta County Libraries in Colorado, has been selected as the winner of Novelist’s Margaret E. Monroe Award, which recognizes a librarian who has made significant contributions to adult library services. Herald, a voracious and varied reader, has excelled in her readers’ advisory efforts; her unwavering support for readers and literacy has left a national legacy.
http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2014/03/most-distinguished-librarians-reference-announced-2014-achievement-awards

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Book of the Week: Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard

Happy book birthday to this intriguing fresh fantasy debut novel. The world Leonard has created features a different take on dragons, creatures who are very alien in a world splintered into small kingdoms under the fealty of empires. Prince Corin of Caithen has had strange memory gaps since a foray into the north and has since seen the occasional dragon flying overhead. Now back at home for Summer Court political machinations abound as he enters into the social flurry where he is to make a dynastic match. Tam, an intelligent well educated commoner, has come to court with her sister-in-law to find her own match but sparks fly when the prince and the commoner meet even though a match between them would be unthinkable. Readers who stick with this through a longish romantic middle will be amply rewarded by an action filled final quarter leaving them looking forward to discovering more about this enticing world.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Two Books of the Week - Dangerous Women and Chip Crockett's Christmas Carol

Life has been hectic but I have been getting some reading done. It is just writing it up where I'm lagging.

I finished Dangerous Women, the massive anthology of never before published stories featuring, what else, dangerous women. Edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, and weighing in at just under 800 pages, it features tales of science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, and horror, by 21 different authors, with dangerous women who are sheroes, villains, and everything in between. As with any good anthology, some of the stories will appeal and others will not and the truth is those stories will be different for each reader. Rest assured, the quality is consistently high, the appeal will vary. I was a little disappointed with the layout which put the author's name on a page preceding the story and its title and introductory remarks prefacing each story that were mostly mere listing of the writers' publication records. I would have liked more substance there to better connect with the authors. Because of this I had a hard time linking each story with its writer. The two stories that really resonated with me, that I think I will remember for a long time (hey, I still remember reading Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine back in 1982 and finding Connie Willis's "A Letter From the Clearys") are Brandon Sanderson's "Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell" and Caroline Spector's "Lies My Mother Told Me." It's not surprising that these were my favorites because I want to like the protagonists of what I read and I like for them to be on the side of good. Evil and amoral main characters just don't do it for me so I really enjoyed these two very different stories, both featuring mother love, and fighting evil. Sanderson is a longtime favorite but I haven't read anything by Spector before (as far as I remember) so this anthology did what I expect a collection of short stories by different authors to do; it introduced me to a writer whose other works I'm now going to have to hunt down and read.

This morning I finished the ebook of Elizabeth Hand's novella, Chip Crockett's Christmas Carol. I love Open Road Media for reprinting as ebooks, wonderful stories that have enduring value but did not become household names. This exquisite story of a man, his autistic son, and his childhood friend, a has-been rockstar is incredibly powerful and is something I'm going to try to reread every year. Like Dickens' A Christmas Carol, it has universal themes and evokes deep and lasting feelings in the reader. Brendan, a middle aged, not successful but not a failure attorney has a definite Scrooge-like attitude towards Christmas. It was Christmas when he and his now ex-wife realized that something was really wrong with their two-year-old son Peter. Tony Kemper, the once famous punk rocker, Tony Moroni, who lost control of his band's rights to their music is broke, unemployed and homeless so he moves in with Brendan who has Peter on Tuesdays and every other weekend. Four-year-old Peter doesn't talk and for the most part doesn't interact with anyone. Tony becomes obsessed with Chip Crockett, the host of a kiddie tv show they watched in their childhood and spends hours on a fan web page even though only a few seconds of recordings of Chip Crockett on tv have survived. He finds rumors of a Chip Crockett Christmas special that may have somehow survived.

This has tiny bits of fantastical elements giving a little of the feel I got from Connie Willis's Bellwether with both set in our very real world. I loved how Brendan, Tony, and Peter, all flawed and damaged still are lovable, strong in their own ways, and memorable. Best of all this is a book that is not sentimental or sweet but definitely leaves the reader feeling good at the end and wanting to revisit again and again.




Friday, January 17, 2014

Book of the Week - North of Boston by Elisabeth Elo

Just finished. Darkly atmospheric, grim, compelling debut thriller. Pirio Kasparov's parents were a tough Russian immigrant and and his beautiful wife who, after a career as a model, started successful  perfume company before the onset of major mental illness. Pirio, is tough and smart and never went to college, instead working at the business she will inherit. Out lobstering with Ned, a friend, one day his boat is rammed and shattered by a ship plunging them both into the frigid North Atlantic. Against all odds and rational explanations, Pirio survives but Ned is not found. Pirio's best friend from boarding school days is the mother of Ned's young son and they are the most important people in her life. Convinced that the ramming of Ned's boat was intentional, Pirio starts an investigation that leads her to find far a deadly conspiracy. Lots of interesting interpersonal relationships and even though Pirio is not much of a sympathetic character to begin with, who she is at her core, and what she discovers about herself and her own history come to endear her.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Book of the Week - Little Black Book of Murder by Nancy Martin

I finished up my Listen List committee work on Friday so now I get to read with reckless abandon -- anything I want. I'm still reading (and loving) Dangerous Women, an outstanding anthology but today I felt like a mystery so I grabbed Little Black Book of Murder. It came out in August and had been lurking in my TBR pile since then.

Little Black Book of Murder
Martin, Nancy
Obsidian (Penguin Group) 978-0-451-41525-7 2013

   
The Blackbird sisters may be descended from a long line of Philadelphia’s elite but they have fallen on hard times. They all seem to be destined to be widowed, maybe even multiple times, and their parents, who went through their fortunes as well as the fortunes of some others, fled the country. Nora Blackbird wants to keep her lover, Mick, a crime boss alive by not marrying him but he does live with her on Blackbird Farm while under house arrest. Dressed in vintage couture she is trying to support herself and keep the farm afloat by working as a society columnist for an increasingly sleazy tabloid-like paper run by an unprincipled Aussie. When a retired fashion designer, married to a much younger supermodel, is killed with a pitchfork, Nora is assigned to solve the mystery since she refuses to dish the dirt on those close to the case. This was my first Blackbird sisters mystery even though it is the ninth in the series and it was a total delight. Fun, romantic, and fast paced complete with a pet pig.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Di's 2013 Top Ten

This list is of the books published in 2013 that I most enjoyed. I'm now using Riffle to keep track so we'll see how that goes this year. Unfortunately some of the cover images don't display properly but hopefully this will bee resolved soon.
http://read.rifflebooks.com/list/121330

December's Reads