June 21st, 2011



Matt Taibbi, whose The Great Derangement was material for a 2009 book review, is back with Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con that is Breaking America.  Book Review No. 15: once the name calling is over, what reforms will be in place, and with what effect?  Collapse )  Reward people for mastering the complexities of the procedural republic: do not act surprised when people master those complexities.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)

The Journey of the Noble Gnarble

The Journey of the Noble Gnarble by Daniel Errico

This was a lovely book which thoroughly captured my nephew's attention. The four-color illustrations were vibrant and added to the overall appeal of the book. The story itself taught a valuable lesson of pursuing one's own dreams, no matter what obstacles might come your way. Even though it's aimed at children, I think that's a valuable lesson we can all stop and remember!

Books completed 21/40

Just started The Hunger Games ... so far, it's pretty engrossing!
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Books 52 & 53: The Tudor Secret and Sleep of Death

Book 52: The Tudor Secret .
Author: Christopher Gortner, 2011
Genre: Historical Thriller. 16th century England.
Other Details: Hardback. 327 pages.

This novel opens with a prologue dated 1602 with its narrator sitting with a woman who urges him to "write it all down, every last word." The identity of this woman is left to the reader's imagination though it may well be Elizabeth I given that the overall title of this projected series is Elizabeth's Spymaster. We then move back in time to the turbulent summer of 1533 as King Edward VI lies dying and John Dudley, the powerful Duke of Northumberland, seeks to place his new daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey, on the throne of England.

The narrator is Brendan Prescott, a foundling, raised in the Northumberland household. He has been sent to London to undertake duties as squire to Robert Dudley, the Duke's son. Yet he soon finds himself as a pawn in this historical game of thrones as he seeks to unravel the secret of his own mysterious past.

This was a quick and engaging read though at times its setting and some characterisations did not really convince. Brendan though was a charmer and I'd certainly like to read more of his adventures. So I'll look out further novels in the series when they appear.

Book 53: Sleep of Death: A Shakespearean Murder Mystery.
Author: Philip Gooden, 2000.
Genre: Historical Murder Mystery. 16th century England.
Other Details: Paperback. 310 pages.

The main character of this first in a series of historical murder mysteries is Nick Revill, a young aspiring actor who has come to London and secured a temporary position with the Chamberlain's Men at the Globe Theatre. He soon makes the acquaintance of a rich young man with a melancholy temperament. The youth is deeply troubled by the recent sudden death of his father and the fact that his mother quite hastily has married his father's brother. Sound familiar?

It does to Nick as well who cannot help make comparisons to the plot of their Company's most recent play. Coincidence or is life mirroring art (or vice versa)? The young man invites Nick to become a temporary lodger at his luxurious home in order to investigate the death. Before long Nick uncovers evidence of foul play. There are plenty of suspects and soon more bodies are piling up.

This was great fun from start to finish with an extremely likeable main character and plenty of humour alongside the suspense. I had first met Nick Revill in a The Medieval Murderers' collection and was intrigued by the premise of a murder mystery series with themes of Shakespearean plays. Gooden certainly ticked all my boxes for a successful work of historical fiction in terms of setting as well as writing an intriguing and lively mystery that kept me guessing as to whodunit until the final denouncement.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

B&N Synopsis

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survived.

I’d heard about this here and there, but never really paid it much attention until a co-worker started talking about it. He spoke glowingly of the book, so I decided to take a peek at it the next time I went shopping. However, when I saw that it was written in first, person present tense, I freaked out a little, because that’s not a style I particularly like.

But while waiting for an oil change, I meandered the book section of the store and grabbed a copy and decided to give it a shot again.

Boy, I’m sure glad I did.

Set in the future where the United States no longer exists, the country is divided in to 12 districts. Residents of each district barely scrape by and their lives are harsh. However, each year, two teenagers from every district – a boy and a girl – are chosen to compete against each other in the Hunger Games at the Capitol. These games are brutal and end when only one teen is left standing.

The book had excellent pacing, and the relationships formed early on in the Games allowed the reader to draw insight about each character and determine who to root for and who you hoped didn’t make it.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. There are two more in the series, and I can’t wait to get started to see how it all ends.

Books completed 22/40  

did you know you could fly?

(no subject)

Book #42 -- Terri Windling, ed., Life On The Border (Borderlands), 368 pages.

More in my reexploration of my childhood stomping grounds. I'd forgotten how amazing this series is.

Book #43 -- Crissa-Jean Chappell, Total Constant Order, 280 pages.

An interesting book portraying a teen's struggle with OCD.

Book #44 - William R. Freudenburg and Robert Gramling, Blowout in the Gulf: The BP Oil Spill Disaster and the Future of Energy in America, 254 pages.

The title of this book is misleading, as it's more about the history of the energy industry and the implications of America's love affair with petroleum than specifically about the BP spill. Still has some interesting information.

Progress toward goals: 171/365 = 46.8%

Books: 44/100 = 44.0%

Pages: 14290/30000 = 47.6%

2011 Book List

cross-posted to 15000pages, 50bookchallenge, and gwynraven