September 17th, 2009


Books 72-74

72. The Good Thief, by Hannah Tinti. 2009 Alex Award. This was a rather strange story, but enjoyable. The plot centers around Ren, a 12-year-old boy who is missing his left hand. He was abandoned at an orphanage as an infant, where he has lived until a young man named Benjamin Nab enters the scene claiming to be Ren's uncle. It becomes apparant soon after they leave the orphanage that Benjamin is full of secrets, and it's hard to tell which of his tales are true, which ones are lies and which ones are a mix of truth and lie. But the mysterious Nab has some reason for adopting Ren, who has, in the past, been described as "damaged" due to his missing hand -- and not just because Ren fits in and adapts easily to the thieving life Benjamin and his friend Tom make their profession. Tinti creates a harsh, gritty world for her characters. The orphanage Ren lives in is strict, although Ren sees several of the monks as mentors. During Ren's journeys with his newfound mentors, they meet several interesting characters, including a gruff landlady with a heart of gold and a slow but dangerous man the trio quite literally dig up in one of their quests for an easy buck.

73. Strange and Unusual Shipwrecks on the Great Lakes, by Wayne Louis Kadar. My parents bought this for me on their vacation. All in all, I really enjoyed this book -- local history and shipwrecks, two of my interests. Kadar has a nice narrative style that's easy to read, and the stories don't get bogged down by too many numbers. The more technical terms are ither explained in the article, or included in the glossary in the back. It also has decent maps and graphs throughout. Some of my favorite stories included the takes about the E.M. Ford (which met its misfortune, with more than 7,000 tons of dry cement mix in its cargo. Dry mix-- which got wet. You can take it from there); and the story about the Yacht Gunilda, where the millionaire owner's thick-headedness and tight-fistedness not only caused his expensive toy to wreck, but become unsalvagable. I found the tragic story of the SS Eastland to be interesting, but it made me angry -- sounds like the ship needed to be overhauled long before the fateful summer of 1915 incident which would claim the lives of more than 800 people. I have to say "incident" rather than "journey" because the ship never even left the dock before turning on its side. This disaster remains the worst Great Lakes ship disaster in terms of casualties.
There were some editing issues. For example, one mention of the Eastland (which is mentioned in the story about a WWI German sub, which it sank, under its new name the SS Wilmette), said 814 people died in the Eastland disaster; later in the book it's 815. Then I saw "sole" instead of "soul" and a cargo of "flower" instead of "flour." Also, while I understand there is no way a book can get all of the stories on every Great Lakes wreck, I found the omission of the tale of the Marquette & Bessemer No. 2 a bit odd. This large steamship was lost during a particularly nasty storm in December 1909. All that was ever found was a lifeboat with nine of the crew, dead from the bitter cold. The ship itself has never been found, to date. This was not a tiny tugboat either. Don't recall the specs of the ship, but it was carrying train cars, among other cargo.

74. Generation Dead, by Daniel Waters. One hint about how much I enjoyed this story is the fact that I finished it this evening and have already ordered the sequel through the local library. While it's not perfect, it is interesting! The premise is that a few years ago, some American teens who had died came back to life, although changed. Of course, this brings up a whole slew of issues. Many people are terrified of the "living impaired," or the "differently biotic," and Waters touches on discrimination, political correctness, marketing and feelings in general. One of the main characters, Phoebe, and her best friend Margi recently lost their close friend Colette, who came back. They both struggle with how to deal with their now-changed friend. Phoebe also is curious about Tommy, a "living impaired" student at their high school. Is it a crush? Just fascination? Also, the reader begins to see divisions in the ranks of the differently biotic: some like Tommy advocate a path of peaceful but firm means of gaining acceptance, while others advocate for a more brutal solution to the discrimination they face. The ending leaves the reader with a bit of a cliffhanger, and there are several loose ends which I hope will be resolved in the next book. Such as, what is causing this phenomemon? What is the Hunter organization *really* up to? (I have my suspicions about that group). And... if the "living impaired" no longer can drive, have a license, have no rights, etc -- how are they allowed in school? OK, that last one might be more of a plot hole. But this book covers a lot of ground and brings up some interesting issues, at a level older preteens and teens can read and relate to. Another thing I liked was -- I could be wrong, but I think I see some digs on the Twilight series. The Wuthering Heights references can't just be coincidence.

# 63 A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict

A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict

John Baxter

A Pound of Paper is essentially the account of John Baxter's life as a book collector: how his passion for books began when he was a young boy in a small, backwater town in Australia and evolved as he grew to the cultivation and elegance of Paris.

I enjoyed this book very much. While his passion for books is entirely different in style from my own, (our tastes are entirely different, and I only collect books for their value as reading material), there were many moments of recognition; for instance, the thrill of the hunt for an illusive title.

A Pound of Paper was more colorful than other books I've read in the same genre. That gave it a distinct character. It was fun, light, quick, and enjoyable.

  • gen50

Post 11: On Christine Feehan's Drake Sisters (books 64-70)

cross-posted to gen50

In my last post, i said i would mention Christine Feehan's the Drake sisters
so here they are, Books 1-7 of the Drake sisters.
The Drake sisters are daughters of the 7th daughter, whose mother was also a 7th daughter, ad infinitum The 7 sisters follow a prophecy about the men in their lives, who would easily be recognizable by the gate that guards their property.

I love this series, all about love and magic. Real magic, too.

the sisters - Sara(h), Kate, Abbey, Libby, Hannah, Joley, Elle

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next time - the Dark series.

Books 60-76

60. Atonement – Ian McEwen (Fiction)
Rating: 4/5
This was a really fascinating book. I kept feeling as if there was no way I’d really ‘get into it’ but kept reading eagerly. If you’re managed to somehow avoid hearing about it, basically this is the story of a young girl who chooses to act in a certain way, the repercussions of this action over the years, and what she does to make things right. An amazing character study of WWII society in the UK, and of people of that time in general.

61. Untouchable – Linda Wynstead Jones (Fantasy Romance)
Rating: 3/5
Book one of a new series that is set a few years after the last one ended. I will admit to liking the female protagonist a lot more than the others I’d dealt with in this author’s work, but the plot was rather simple and tied up neatly with a bow at the end as all good romance fiction must.

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Books 125-200

Woohoo! My goal was to read 75 books before summer ended, bringing me up to 200 books and I did it! Short descriptions mainly because I as more interested in reading than writing up what I thought. Once again, no rereads or unfinished books are included. Most are YA or mystery/thrillers.

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I just received Dan Brown's latest, The Lost Symbol, and finished it very quickly (before even sending payment off to the book club.) Because the work is a mystery, Book Review No. 34 will eschew spoilers, although the title of the review captures the main plot elements, particularly for readers familiar with Mr Brown's previous work. I will confess to cracking up at some of Harvard's Professor Robert Langdon's classroom management techniques, and to dissatisfaction with the premise of the mystery he has to solve. Whenever, dear reader, you begin to think that long-lived organizations that cloak themselves in ritual and mystery are custodians of powerful or disturbing knowledge, listen to One Tin Soldier and remember that Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man That he didn't, didn't already have, and then get to work developing your own powerful or disturbing knowledge.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)