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AuntMarge64's Club Read for 2013

Club Read 2013

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Dec 8, 2012, 6:13pm Top

My various nieces and nephews and I will be back in 2013 to keep our list here. They love the challenge among themselves and check in regularly to see standings and to send me titles and ratings for books read. We range in age from 12 to 64, and as of today, our five most avid readers have read 352 books in 2012. The kids like the tomes and series which are all the rage (Rowling, George R.R. Martin, Suzanne Collins, Pitticus Lore), so there's been a lot of reading this year.

Our 2012 Club Read thread
Our 2011 Club Read thread
Our 2010 Club Read thread

Edited: Jan 1, 2014, 4:12pm Top

Margaret (age 64, goal 100)
1. Playing for the Ashes by Elizabeth George **½ 1/4/13
2. My Mortal Enemy by Willa Cather *** 1/5/13
3. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin **** 1/14/13
4. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery **** 1/17/13
5. Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson ****½ 1/20/13
6. Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason **** 1/26/13
7. The Thunderchild Fables by Roger Emile Stouff and Kenneth R Brown ***½ 2/4/13
8. Animal Wise by Virginia Morell **** 2/12/13
9. The Ice House by Minette Walters **** 2/16/13
10. Ice Moon by Jan Costin Wagner **** 2/21/13
11. 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson *** 3/3/13
12. Frozen Solid by James M. Tabor **** 3/6/13
13. The Martian Inca by Ian Watson ** 3/9/13
14. Rediscovering America: Thirty-five Years of the National Endowment for the Humanities **** 3/11/13
15. Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein **** 3/14/13
16. The Man From Primrose Lane by James Renner **** 3/22/13
17. The Inverted World by Christopher Priest *** 3/26/13
18. False Mermaid by Erin Hart ****½ 3/31/13
19. Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin **** 4/8/13
20. Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle ****½ 4/20/13
21. Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harer ***** 4/26/13
22. Silken Prey by John Sandford ****½ 4/29/13
23. Who Got Einstein's Office? Eccentricity and Genius at the Institute for Advanced Study by Ed Regis ****½ 5/17/13
24. Solaris by Stanislaw Lem **** 5/20/13
25. Griffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock ***** 5/21/13
26. Defending Jacob by William Landay **** 5/22/13
27. Sabine's Notebook by Nick Bantock***** 5/24/13
28. The Golden Mean by Nick Bantock *****5/24/13
29. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton ***** 5/26/13
30. On Top of the World: Five Women Explorers in Tibet by Luree Miller **** 5/30/13
31. Rich Men Poor Men: Ryersons on the Titanic by Phyllis Ryerse ***½ 5/30/13
32. The Odds by Kathleen George **** 6/2/13
33. The Gryphon by Nick Bantock ****6/4/13
34. Alexandria by Nick Bantock **** 6/4/13
35. Morning Star by Nick Bantock **** 6/4/13
36. The Songs of Willow Frost: A Novel by Jamie Ford ****½ 6/10/13
37. Suspect by Michael Robotham ****6/12/13
38. The Forgetting Room by Nick Bantock **** 6/14/13
39. The Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins *** 6/16/13
40. The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia by Samuel Johnson **** 6/22/13
41. Mars Observer's Guide by Neil Bone **** 6/24/13
42. Lost by Michael Robotham ***** 7/1/13
43. Dracula by Bram Stoker *****7/5/13
44. Alexander's Bridge by Willa Cather ***½ 7/6/13
45. Call of the Wild by Jack London ***** 7/8/13
46. The Man Who Saved the Union by H.W. Brand ***** 7/8/13
47. William Shakespeare's Star Wars by **** 7/8/13
48. Shatter by Michael Robotham ****½ 7/11/13
49. Bleed For Me by Michael Robotham ***** 7/15/13
50. Underwater Dogs by Seth Casteel **** 7/22/13
51. The Return by Michael Gruber ***** 7/27/13
52. Bug Music by David Rothenberg **** 7/28/13
53. The Jaguar Hunter by Lucius Shepard ****8/2/13
53. Viator by Lucius Shepard ***** 8/8/13
54. Never Go Back by Lee CHild ***** 8/11/13
55. Two Whole Cakes by Lesley Kinzel ***** 8/15/12
56. Countdown City: The Last Policeman Book II by Ben Winters **** 8/18/13
57. Agent 6 by Tom Rob Smith ***** 8/22/13
58. Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown **** 8/24/13
59. God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens **** 8/24/13
60. Touch by Alexi Zentner **** 9/1/13
61. Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse ed. by John Joseph Adams ****½ 9/12/13
62. Storm Front by John Sandford **** 9/17/13
63. My Brief History by Stephen Hawking **½ 9/22/13
64. The Memory of Whiteness by Kim Stanley Robinson ***½ 9/26/13
65. The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett **** 9/29/13
66. Let Me Go by Chelsea Cain ****10/4/13
67. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert ***** 10/9/13
68. The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers **** 10/13/13
69. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan ****½ 10/19/13
70. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini ****½ 10/20/13
71. Zombelina by Kristyn Crow **** 10/21/13
72. Still Midnight by Denise Mina **** 10/26/13
73. Suburban Gods by Brenda Clough ***½ 11/1/13
74. End of the Wasp Season by Denise Mina ****11/7/13
75. Gods and Beasts by Denise Mina **** 11/11/13
76. Latitudes of Melt by Joan Clark **** 11/14/13
77. The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg ***½ 11/20/13
78. Henderson's Spear by Ronald Wright **** 12/2/13
79. Fever of the Bone by Val McDermid **** 12/4/13
80. Love & Math by Edward Frenkel **** 12/8/13
81. Cross and Burn by Val MacDermid ****12/11/13
82. Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell **** 12/19/13
83. The Last Dead Girl by Harry Dolan ****½ 12/24/13
84. The Edge of the Earth by Christina Schwarz **½ 12/29/13

Caitlin (age 12, goal 30)
1. Bro Code for Parents: What to Expect When You're Awesome by Barney Stinson ** 1/31/13
2. True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi ** 2/21/13
3. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling *****
4. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys ***** 3/24/13
5. Diary of Anne Frank (play) ** 3/27/13
6. Style by Lauren Conrad ***** 3/31/13
7. Every Boys Got One by Meg Cabot ***** 4/2/13
8. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen **** 5/2/13
9. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton ** 5/13/13
10. Distant Waves by Suzanne Weyn ***** 5/28/13
11. A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer *** 6/15/13
12. Crushed by Sara Shephard ***** 6/18/13
13. The Originals by Cat Patrick ***** 6-24-13
14. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green ***** 7/14/13
15. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen ***** 7/18/13
16. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan ***** 7/19/13
17. The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan ***** 7/20/13
18. The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan ***** 7/21/13
19. Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan ***** 7/25/13
20. The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan *****7/29/13
21. Dreamland by Sarah Dessen *** 8/4/13
22. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan*****8/6/13
23. Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan ***** 8/12/13
24. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan **** 8/17/13 (actually, 5000000000000000000000000000000000000 stars)
25. 24 Girls in 7 Days by Alex Bradley ***** 8/20/13
26. Wonder by R. J. Palacio ***** 8/23/13
27. Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen***** 10/18/13
28. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky **** 10/27/13
29. House of Hades by Rick Riordan ***** 10/30/13
30. Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult ****½ 11/27/13
31. Divergent by Veronica Roth ***** 12/12/13
32. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck * 12/19/13

Kristen (age 21, goal 20)
1. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas ****½ 1/27/13
2. Service by Marcus Luttrell ***** 2/8/13
3. Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell ***** 3/14/13
4. American Sniper by Christ Kyle ***** 3/28/13
5. The Warrior Elite by Dick Couch **** 4/18/13
6. Fearless by Eric Blehm ***** 5/3/13
7. The Things Thy Carried by Tim O'Brien **** 6/1/13
8. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton ***** 6/6/13
9. No Easy Day by Mark Owen ***** 6/18/13
10. Living With Honor by Savatore Giunta ****½ 7/10/13
11. Son of Poseidon by Rick Riordan ****½ 7/18/13
12. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan ***** 7/26/13
13. Call of the Wild by Jack London ***** 8/4/13
14. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green ***** 8/15/13
15. Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason **** 8/26/13
16. Seal of Honor by Gary Williams **** 9/1/13
17. Suspect by Michael Robotham ****½ 9/12/13
18. A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer **** 10/13/13
19. Let Me Go by Chelsea Cain ****½
20. House of Hades by Ricjk Riodan ****½ 12/31/13

Ian (age 24, goal 100)
1. Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith - Spiral by John Jackson Miller **1/2
2. Saga: Volume 1 by Brian K Vaughan ****
3. Amazing Spider-Man: Dying Wish by Dan Slott ***1/2
4. Uncanny X-Force: Final Execution by Rick Remender ****
5. The Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman ****
6. The Bro Code For Parents: What to Expect When You're Awesome by Barney Stinson and Matt Kuhn ****
7. StarCraft: Flashpoint by Christie Golden *****
8. Walking Dead: Miles Behind Us by Robert Kirkman ****
9. Wolverine and the X-men: Vol. 5 by Jason Aaron ***1/2
10. Iron Man: Believe by Kieron Gillen **1/2
11. StarCraft: Queen of Blades by Aaron Rosenberg ***1/2
12. Superior Spider-Man: Everything You Know is Wrong by Dan Slott ****1/2
13. Winter Soldier: Black Widow Hunt by Ed Brubaker ***1/2
14. A Song of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin *****
15. All New X-Men: Here Comes Yesterday by Brian Michael Bendis ****
16. StarCraft: Shadow of the Xel'Naga by Gabriel Mesta ***
17. StarCraft: Ghost - Spectres by Nate Kenyon ****1/2
18. Batman: Death of the Family by Scott Snyder ****1/2
19. Thor God of Thunder: God Butcher by Jason Aaron ****
20. Star Wars: Agent of the Empire - Hard Targets by John Ostrander ***1/2
21. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card ****1/2
22. Morning Glories: Truants by Nick Spencer ****1/2
23. Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction ****
24. Wolverine and the X-Men: Savage Learning by Jason Aaron ***
25. Wonder Woman: Blood by Brian Azzarello ***1/2
26. Thief of Thieves: I Quit by Robert Kirkman and Nick Spencer ****
27. A Dance of Cloaks by David Dalglish ****
28. Superman: Earth One Vol. 1 by J. M. Straczynski ****
29. Star Wars: In the Shadow of Yavin by Brian Wood ****
30. Grimoire of the Lamb by Kevin Hearne ****
31. Superman Earth One: Volume 2 by J Michael Straczynski ****
32. All New X-Men: Here to Stay by Brian Michael Bendis ****
33. Uncanny X-Men: Revolution by Brian Michael Bendis ***1/2
34. Superior Spider-Man: A Troubled Mind by Dan Slott ****
35. Nightwing: Death of the Family by Kyle Higgins ***1/2
36. Batman and Robin: Pearl by Peter Tomasi ***
37. Batman and Robin: Death of the Family by Peter Tomasi ***
38. Saga: Volume 2 by Brian K Vaughan ***1/2
39. Hunted by Kevin Hearne ****
40. The Lost Files: Secret Histories by Pittacus Lore ****
41. Star Wars Legacy II: Prisoner of the Floating World by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman ****
42. Morning Glories: Tests by Nick Spencer ****1/2
44. All New X-Men: Out of Their Depth by Brian Michael Bendis ***1/2
45. Thor God of Thuder: Godbomb by Jason Aaron
46. Superior Spider-Man: No Escape by Dan Slott ***
47. Batman & Robin: Five Stages of Grief by Peter Tomasi
48. The Fall of Five by Pittacus Lore ****1/2
49. Captain America: Castaway In Dimension Z by Rick Remender ***
50. Wolverine and the X-Men: Hellfire Saga by Jason Aaron ****
51. Uncanny X-Men: Magik by Brian Michael Bendis ***
52. A Dance of Death by David Dalglish ****
53. X-Men: Battle of the Atom by Brian Michael Bendis ***1/2
54. Batman: Secret City by Scott Snyder ****
55. Nightwing: Second City by Kyle Higgins ***
56. Superior Spider-Man: Necessary Evil by Dan Slott ****
57. How to Train Your Dragon: How to Seize a Dragon's Jewel by Cressida Cowell ****
58. Star Wars Legacy: Broken by John Ostrander ****
59. Warcraft: Vol'jin - Shadows of the Horde by Michael A Stackpole ***1/2
60. Star Wars Legacy: Shards by John Ostrander ****
61. Morning Glories: Demerits by Nick Spencer ****

Amy (age 25, goal 40)
1. Stories From Greek Mythology by James Wood *** 1/13/12
2. Morning Glories: For a Better Future by Nick Spencer ****
3. How To Train Your Dragon: How to Steal a Dragon's Sword ****½
4. Inferno by Dan Brown ****½

Jan 26, 2013, 8:39pm Top

I've taken a break from regular reviewing, but this book and LT thriller fans deserve to meet.

Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason **** 1/26/13

A delightful new voice in psychological thrillers whose work is bound to be a hit with readers of Tara French, who encouraged the author. Mason has woven a darkly funny and sometimes gory tale of an everyman who just happens to have a dead body buried in his backyard – the corpse of a bully he killed in self-defense. Finally beginning to feel secure again after 18 months, Jason hires landscapers to spiff up his yard, only to have two other bodies dug up. How long will it be before the cops find the third? Into the tale come the former home’s owner, responsible for the two new corpses; the widow of one of the bodies, determined to find closure but instead showing up late one night to find Jason digging up “his” body to move it; and two cops, one of whom owns a dog which is so perceptive (and from whose perspective some of the story is told) that he guides the police to his owner after he vanishes from the crime scene. These six characters converge in a climax so over-the-top the reader will not be able to put the book down until the last page.

The publisher’s blurb compares this story to a Coen brothers film, and it really does beg to be dramatized. The action is non-stop, the humor understated and funnier for that, the characters memorable and the dialogue spot-on. Highly recommended – just don’t expect to get much else done until you've finished the book.

Ebook copy provided by NetGalley.com.

Jan 27, 2013, 1:46pm Top

Wow, that's quite a recommendation! A lot of thrillers leave me feeling pretty lukewarm, but that sounds like one I might really enjoy. Onto the wishlist it goes!

Jan 27, 2013, 8:46pm Top

I love Tana French, so I'll take Three Graves Full!

Jan 28, 2013, 3:39pm Top

>4 bragan: and 5:

Netgalley is probably still offering it. I think the embargo date on the ebook galley is mid-Feb.

Edited: Feb 8, 2013, 5:33pm Top

The Thunderchild Fables by Roger Emile Stouff and Kenneth R Brown ***½ 2/4/13 (Use this link: http://www.librarything.com/work/book/93699296)

In the near future, a small group of Americans are the first humans to make Martian landfall, albeit a crash landing which destroys the ship and wrecks long-distance communication. While waiting for rescue (Earth-to-Mars transit inexplicably takes only hours), the survivors discover a valley filled with human artifacts: a diner, a Nazi tank, toys, books, etc., although no evidence of previous human presence. They take their mind off their fear by each telling a story (the title Fables) of how the artifacts might have arrived on Mars.

There are several problems an editor should have corrected: over-reliance on a thesaurus to describe the Martian environment (crimson, bloody, geyser of blood, cardinal glow); a refusal to use the past perfect tense, leading to some confusion as to when things happened; and some very awkward phrasing (“his hair … swept back angrily over his head”, “he leaned in a gangly and sharp obtuse angle against her wagon door”). However, all but one of the fables is wonderful (the remaining story involves fantastical Earth creatures, not my cup of tea, and I only skimmed it so can’t judge). The stories are reminiscent of John Wyndham’s, with very much a mid-century style, partly because the authors use no bad language and therefore add the air of innocence found in older SF. Stock characterizations add to that impression. The main story, which connects the fables, is less successful in execution, but don’t give up – the fables are well-worth it, and the ending is perfect - and very funny.

If you love fiction set on Mars and stories in the style of John Wyndham, give this a go. It’s available in paperback and ebook format and for free loan via Amazon Prime.

Feb 9, 2013, 2:45am Top

Sounds like an interesting idea for a book, but the execution (as you mention) leaves something to be desired.

Feb 11, 2013, 8:52am Top

I'm torn on this one. I'm not sure that I could get past the writing issues - I think they would irritate me to no end, but I do like fiction set on Mars (your comments reminded me of Ray Bradbury). So it's a maybe...!

Feb 12, 2013, 2:10pm Top

What is a sharp obtuse angle? I'll have to pass, but enjoyed your review.

Edited: Feb 22, 2013, 10:18am Top

Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures by Virginia Morell **** 2/12/13

An informative and thoughtful overview of research into how animals perceive the world and how they exhibit emotions, personality, long- and short-term memory, self-awareness, learned behavior, and other abilities humans have historically reserved to themselves. In some cases, such results in animals exceed our own.

Morell traveled world-wide to interview and observe researchers and their animal colleagues, and she found her preconceptions frequently challenged or overturned. Individual chapters on ants, fish, parrots, rats, elephants, dolphins, chimpanzees, and dogs and wolves, reveal a depth of intelligence, communication and culture (not just society) which calls into question just about all animal research practices and some zoo policies.

The growing body of evidence for animal cognition has, of course, been received with scorn by vested interests (cosmetic and medical researchers, food producers, and others who feel threatened at the thought that humans may not be so superior to animals), but even slow-moving science is coming around to the reality that traditional practices are cruel and unethical and deprive us of the benefits of seeing animals for the complicated beings they really are. I’ll certainly never look at the animals around me the same again.

The Ice House by Minette Walters **** 2/16/13

Ice Moon by Jan Costin Wagner **** 2/21/13

Feb 14, 2013, 1:32pm Top

Animal Wise sounds really thought provoking.

Edited: Mar 26, 2013, 10:35pm Top

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson *** 3/3/13

Not his best, although, as always, interesting ideas about the future of humankind and our planet. Read the Mars trilogy instead if you're new to Robinson.

Frozen Solid by James M. Tabor **** 3/6/13

The good news: an over-the-top, non-stop thriller which will keep you up late, so don't read it when you're trying to wind down for the night.

The bad news: deliberate and gross inaccuracies about the South Pole unnecessarily used for dramatic effect.

Microbiologist Hallie Leland arrives at the Pole in early February to replace a dead colleague who had been involved in important research requiring diving in the water below the ice. (Hallie is a master climber and diver, among other attributes). Within hours, she discovers her friend was tortured to death and she witnesses two other women die of sudden and massive hemorrhaging. Things escalate from there (oy - but lots of fun). Intermittent chapters follow Hallie's boyfriend, who does intelligence (and wet work) for a secretive government agency (think "Mission Impossible" if Cruise actually resembled Reacher physically); and three scientists who are plotting to infect the world with a virus that will halt population growth.

The South Pole actually has 6 months of sunlight and six months of no sunlight each year, with a few weeks of sunrise and sunset at either end of the long night. IOW, complete darkness for about 4½ or 5 months a year. The sun rises on September 21 and doesn't set at all until March 21. When Hallie arrives in February, the sunset is 6 weeks away, but Tabor changes this so that complete dark is already in effect. This is a major plot detail. In fact, Hallie's dead friend mentions in a video diary that it was already complete dark in early January on her own arrival. The head of the polar station and Hallie's boss at the CDC both mention that the Pole experiences EIGHT months of complete darkness. To someone fond of fiction set in Antarctica, this inaccuracy, which starts on page 1, was immediately off-putting, and I wouldn't have continued reading if I hadn't agreed to read the book for Early Reviewers. Tabor apparently felt the need to use the complete darkness in order to increase drama but still get his heroine out before winterover, when the base is shut off to all travel for several months. In my opinion, any heightened tension was not worth the blow to suspension of disbelief caused by the inaccuracy, and considering the few books set in the locale, this was likewise a disservice to any readers without the background to realize they are getting bad information.

Still, the book IS fun, hard to put down, and a quick read, and I'd pick up another in the series if I was in the mood for this type of thriller.

The Martian Inca by Ian Watson ** 3/9/13

Rediscovering America: Thirty-five Years of the National Endowment for the Humanities **** 3/11/13

Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein **** 3/14/13

The Man from Primrose Lane by James Renner **** 3/22/13

The Inverted World by Christopher Priest ***½ 3/26/13

Mar 7, 2013, 1:32pm Top

Six weeks...you would think the whole timeline could just be shifted ahead. Entertaining review.

Edited: May 17, 2013, 7:27pm Top

Yes - I think he badly misjudged the need for the change. Kind of stupid, really. I mean, people do notice things like that.

Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin **** 4/8/13

Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle ****½ 4/20/13

Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer ***** 4/26/13

Silken Prey by John Sandford ****½ 4/29/13

Who Got Einstein's Office? Eccentricity and Genius at the Institute for Advanced Study by Ed Regis ****½ 5/17/13

May 8, 2013, 5:57pm Top

It was nice to see Lucifer's Hammer on your list - loved that book!

Edited: Jun 4, 2013, 7:53pm Top

Rich Men Poor Men: Ryersons on the Titanic by Phyllis Ryerse ***½ 5/30/13

Only 127 pages long, with many pages of b&w photos and illustrations, this is a brief but fascinating look at a family's experience on the Titanic as seen from the perspectives of very distant cousins, one extremely wealthy and the other a steward on the ship. Magnate Arthur Ryerson of Philadelphia was returning home with his family after receiving news that his eldest son had died in a car accident. The Titanic happened to be the first available ship. William Ryerson, pleased to have been hired for the voyage, is hoping to get back to England in time for his third child's birth.

The author, a relative of both men, has interviewed descendants of both lines and interwoven her insider information with a history of the voyage and its aftermath. The book is breathless at times, with a few too many exclamation marks, but not so much that the reader is dissuaded from continuing. I was able to visualize much of what it described, and it fit quite well with what many readers will have seen in Cameron's film. The photos, diagrams, and contemporary drawings and newspaper articles add to the sense of realism. If you have interest in the Titanic, this is a little treat awaiting you.

The Odds by Kathleen George **** 6/2/13

The Gryphon by Nick Bantock ****6/4/13

Alexandria by Nick Bantock **** 6/4/13

Morning Star by Nick Bantock **** 6/4/13

Edited: Jun 24, 2013, 5:37pm Top

Songs of Willow Frost: A Novel by Jamie Ford **** 6/10/13

An engrossing story of three lost souls in 1934 Seattle. William, a 12-year old Chinese-American boy, has lived at an orphanage for the last 5 years, barely tolerated because of his race and longing for his mother, whom he believes is dead; his best friend, the blind Charlotte, is terrified that her own father will come to reclaim her; and Willow Frost, a Chinese-American actress and singer, is in Seattle for a brief live appearance, and William thinks she might be his mother. William and Charlotte plot to sneak out of the orphanage to see one of her performances and to determine who she really is.

The plot follows two tracks. William and Charlotte, in 1934, are so well-drawn I feel I'd recognize them. Their friendship, and William's yearning, keep the reader glued. Willow's story, from the 1920s when she was primarily a victim, is less sympathetic for some reason. Maybe I don't have the life experiences to relate, but I got tired of her. Luckily, William is really the star here, and his story takes up the majority of the book.

(Reviewed pre-publication from a NetGalley e-book galley.)

Suspect by Michael Robotham ****6/12/13

The Forgetting Room by Nick Bantock **** 6/14/13

The Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins *** 6/15/13

The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia by Samuel Johnson **** 6/21/13

Edited: Jul 10, 2013, 5:08pm Top

Mars Observer's Guide by Neil Bone **** 6/24/13

Even ten years after publication this book is of great use to the lay person interested in Mars or Martian fiction. It was written to be used by amateur astronomers during the close-ups of Mars in 2003-2007 and includes various charts for those years, so that information is of little interest now. But the larger part of the book is historical and geographical in nature and unlikely to be outdated for quite some time.

Sections include a history of Mars observation, both before and since the development of the telescope; basic aerology (geography of Mars) and physics of Martian planetary motion; a guide to observation and equipment; and overviews of Martian exploration and the question of Martian life.

I've read quite a few novels set on Mars, and this book would have been very helpful before and will certainly be in the future.

Lost by Michael Robotham ***** 7/1/13

Dracula by Bram Stoker ***** 7/5/13

Alexander's Bridge by Willa Cather ***½ 7/6/13

Call of the Wild by Jack London ***** 7/8/13

The Man Who Saved the Union by H. W. Brands ***** 7/8/13

Edited: Jul 22, 2013, 4:39pm Top

William Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher **** 7/8/13

Very clever. Any Star Wars addict will easily be able to follow along and will probably be able to mentally hear the original dialogue while reading the book.

The Chorus relates some actions which are visualized in the film, such as Vader's torture of Leia, but these are relatively minor scenes. And some of the dialogue, especially the asides, add certain meanings to events which are not in the original: most especially, R2's statement that he is guiding the action and talks in beeps and boops to hide his true power. This amused me, because my brother has been saying this for years. Every time R2 went back and forth between beeps and boops and his asides in English I laughed out loud.

For the non-SW nut, this will be an amusing but one-trick pony, but for the fan it should rate high on gift lists for holidays and birthdays.

Bleed For Me by Michael Robotham ***** 7/15/13

Underwater Dogs by Seth Casteel **** 7/22/13

Edited: Aug 4, 2013, 8:09pm Top

The Return by Michael Gruber ***** 7/27/13

Gruber does it again, with another complex, and intelligent thriller mixing suspense with elements of mysticism.

Richard Mardor is a Vietnam vet, respected book editor, widow, and, unrecognized even to himself, something of a Catholic mystic. When he is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor he wraps up his business, touches base with loved ones to let them know he's going on an extended trip, and heads to Mexico to exact revenge on the people who drove his wife to suicide. His rather mysterious black ops friend Skelly joins him, and they head to the coastal area in which Mardor's wife grew up, where Mardor has bought an island and house right in the middle of drug war territory. Soon Mardor's engineer daughter tracks him down, and the three of them proceed to anger just about every violent element in the area as they play them off against each other. Mardor has asked the squatters on the island to stay, and Skelly arms and trains them to protect their new home.

Interspersed in this narrative is the tale of Mardor's time in Vietnam and Laos, working for Skelly and experiencing a miraculous occurrence which he reveals to people in his life only as battle approaches. His brain tumor increasingly grips him in memories of incredible reality, and his friendship with the local priest and re-immersion into Mexican language and culture lead him to accept more and more the concept of "no importa madre": basically, "accept the things you cannot change". As battle approaches, loyalties are tested and revelations made which bring the novel to a very satisfying conclusion.

Highly recommended!

Bug Music by David Rothenberg **** 7/28/13

The Jaguar Hunter by Lucius Shepard **** 8/2/13

I read this collection of supernatural/sci fi tales when it came out 25 years ago. It's still enjoyable to read, just not as surprising as it was then, but it's reckoned to be one of Shepard's best. And it's certainly enough to get me to go back and read more of his work.

Jul 29, 2013, 5:01pm Top

You catch me even with just a cover image! Bug Music sounds interesting, onto the wishlist for when it's in paperback. Also fascinated by the author's related CD of instrumentals with insect sounds.

Aug 2, 2013, 11:27pm Top

>23 detailmuse: He discusses and includes a list of related recordings. It really is quite interesting, although technical in parts, but it made me wish the cicada outbreak this year had come just a few more miles north so I could have gotten an earful. I did hear them once while at a book sale a 1/2-hour from here, but that was for only a few minutes. Of course, they're all gone now.....

Aug 8, 2013, 11:04pm Top

Viator by Lucius Shepard ***** 8/8/13

This review is for the newly expanded version of this story, available at this date (2013) in ConcordEPress ebook format only. Shepard, who came close to a mental and physical breakdown while writing the original story, says that he turned it into his publisher in its unfinished state in order to be done with it (and even then it received critical admiration), but after recovering went back and added 20,000 words so that it reflected the story as he meant it to be.

Five men labor to dismantle a long-grounded ship along the Alaskan coast. Each appears to be slowly going mad, including the newest member, Tom Wilander, who is theoretically their leader. He begins a romance with the owner of the trading post in town, but he is increasingly drawn to return to and stay on the ship, even as his own sense of reality changes and he begins to feel that the salvage crew is preparing the ship for a continuation of its metaphysical journey.

Shepard's convoluted and often paragraph-long sentences suck readers in towards Wilander's reality, gripping them with Wilander's confusion and fantasies, and while I'm not usually a fan of psychological horror, I was hooked within a few pages. The only other Shepard I've read is the story collection "The Jaguar Hunter", which I just refinished 25 years after reading it the first time. It's time I delved in and read more of his original and gorgeous storytelling.

Aug 11, 2013, 9:46pm Top

Never Go Back by Lee Child ***** 8/11/13

Reacher's back!!! And with a longer and more complex plot than usual, mostly involving the military unit with which he served and its newest CO. Both of them are accused of crimes they didn't commit, and together they have to make a run for it and try to figure out who's trying to shut them down before they're recaught by the FBI, military, DC police, or the rather inept assassins sent after them.

As always: fast moving, lots of bad guys getting what's coming to them, and a little romance with the new CO, who's a she. For those who love Reacher, it's a no-brainer and guaranteed fun. For newcomers, just jump right in. The Reacher stories don't need to be read in order.

Edited: Sep 14, 2013, 7:39pm Top

Countdown City: The Last Policeman Book II by Ben H. Winters**** 8/18/13

Book II of the Last Policeman trilogy, in which a young cop copes with the wait for a huge asteroid due to make a direct impact with Earth in 77 days. As society falls apart and the police give up trying to keep law and order, Hank Palace promises his old babysitter to search for her husband, who has disappeared. Such a disappearance is very common as humanity faces its certain decimation and possible end, but Martha is certain her husband hasn't just left or killed himself, and Hank promises to find him. In the process he makes contact with his sister, who has joined a group determined to undermine what they see as a government conspiracy to let the asteroid hit in the hope of world control.

Winters continues to explore ways in which people might react to Earth's impending doom, and it makes for excellent storytelling. The book suffers a bit from being the middle of the series, as Hank and the rest of us wonder what will happen. But it's still fun to read and certainly leaves the reader wanting the third installment.

Touch by Alexi Zentner **** 9/1/13

Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse ed. by John Joseph Adams ****½ 9/12/13

Edited: Oct 4, 2013, 4:00pm Top

Storm Front by John Sandford **** 9/17/13

I'm a serious Davenport/Flowers fan and have read all entries in both series. The plot of this one, which adds a bit of Dan Brown into the mix, didn't work as well as most of the others. The repartee is just as fast and smart ass, and honestly, Flowers and the rest of the cast would be welcome in my reading time any day, so I just had to enjoy it for what it was: a lovely romp with Virgil, Lucas, Shrake, and Jenkins. Well worth the read, but bring along your willingness to disbelieve.

My Brief History by Stephen Hawking*** 9/22/13

The Memory of Whiteness by Kim Stanley Robinson ***½ 9/26/13

The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett **** 9/29/13

Let Me Go by Chelsea Cain **** 10/4/13

Edited: Oct 10, 2013, 12:02pm Top

My Brief History by Stephen Hawking **½ 9/22/13

Indeed, a very, very brief personal history, perhaps a third of the 144 pages of this short volume. Most of the information could be gleaned from public sources, although there are a few personal observations thrown in. The balance of the book is a series of essays on the science behind Hawking's work over the years. Hawking is obviously extremely private, and readers won't find out much about his feelings on his illness, family, or scientific squabbles, although he's obviously very proud of his work. The photos are a nice addition, and Hawking is quick to mention his collaborators, many of whom are pictured with him. All-in-all, I'm glad I read it, but it left me wanting much more, even if it has to be written by a biographer.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert ***** 10/9/13

An enthralling story, wonderfully written and over far too soon.

This is the life story of Alma Whittaker, a female botanist born in 1800 to a wealthy and unorthodox Philadelphia couple who train her in languages, thought, and persistence, expecting her from a young age to keep up and participate in their glittering intellectual dinner parties. She lives into her 9th decade, and her adventures, and those of her father, whose story is told before hers, weave together many threads of the development of evolutionary thought during the mid-1800s. Her life takes her to Tahiti and Amsterdam, through some very complicated and dramatic relationships, and finally to her own conclusions, independent of Darwin and Wallace, of the reasons for biodiversity. Wallace even makes an appearance, which was a delight.

I hesitate to mention many of the most interesting events, because readers should discover these for themselves. Just wonderful, especially for anyone with an interest in scientific thought during this time period.

Oct 10, 2013, 7:32pm Top

Ooh, I think The Signature of All Things is going on my wishlist.

Also, I bought biography of Hawking (Stephen Hawking: An Unfettered Mind) a while back and haven't gotten around to reading it yet. When I saw he'd published his own memoir, I was kicking myself a little, thinking I should have passed on the bio and gone for that, instead. But based on your reaction, it sounds like I might have gotten the right book, after all.

Oct 13, 2013, 9:21pm Top

> 30

Yup, good move on the Hawking bio.
Re: The Signature of All Things, I think it was truly among the very best books I've ever read. Just stunningly awesome.

Oct 13, 2013, 10:05pm Top

Just wonderful, especially for anyone with an interest in scientific thought during this time period.

Raises hand...although I've been focusing on the two centuries prior lately. Intriguing review!

Also curious about Lucius Shepard and Viator.

Oct 13, 2013, 11:42pm Top

>32 dchaikin: Have you read any other Shepard? I have several on my shelves awaiting their turn: Floater, Handbook of American Prayer, and Life During Wartime.

Edited: Oct 14, 2013, 12:01am Top

The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen **** 10/13/13

It's 1934, with brother outlaws Jason and Whit Fireson awakening in the morgue, pierced with deadly bullet holes and with no idea what's happened, or even whether they're alive, dead, or in between. As they struggle to make sense of their situation, and to escape and stay ahead of the cops, they take advantage of reports of their deaths to plan a few more heists and to find their girls, both of whom have disappeared. Death makes its appearance again (and again), and with the newly-formed FBI finally facing the fact that the Firesons may not really be dead, the law closes in. Will the brothers find their women, one of whom has been kidnapped, and manage to disappear before they're arrested and killed for good? And how many times can they wake from the grave before fate is done with them? This makes the novel sound supernatural, but it's not really. The resurrections are simply one part of the plot, just as confusing to the characters as to the narrator or the reader, and the questions of why and for how many repeats gives an added tension to the plot.

Life in the Great Depression is amply mined to show how the brothers' situation is difficult for the law to decipher: poor photos, lack of communication, piecemeal law enforcement. And the dialogue is often funny and very real, especially between the brothers. This is the second Mullen I've read, after The Last Town on Earth, which I also gave 4 stars. Very enjoyable and recommended.

Oct 14, 2013, 12:22am Top

I'm so glad you liked the Firefly brothers. I love that book to an unhealthy degree.

Oct 14, 2013, 8:44am Top

I've been eyeing The Signature of All Things since reading a review by Barbara Kingsolver in the NYTimes. I wasn't sure since Gilbert also wrote Eat, Pray, Love which I did not like at all. The subject material for this book seems so much more up my alley, though, that I've been interested anyway. Thanks for the review!

Oct 14, 2013, 10:04am Top

>35 RidgewayGirl: He doesn't seem to have written any new novels lately, though. :(

>36 japaul22: I had the same reaction to the Gilbert book originally - "eh, didn't that woman write Eat, Pray, Love?" So I downloaded a Kindle sample to give it a try and by the end of the sample I had to buy the book.

Oct 14, 2013, 10:09am Top

>37 auntmarge64: I am overly aware of that. And no hints of anything in the works either.

Oct 14, 2013, 10:35am Top

Have you read any other (Lucius) Shepard?

No, your review is the first I have heard of him.

Intrigued by your review of the Thomas Mullen book.

Oct 14, 2013, 5:28pm Top

>29 auntmarge64: I got through "eat" in Eat Pray Love and threw the book out. You have done an amazing thing, prompting me to consider Gilbert again. We'll see.

Oct 14, 2013, 11:33pm Top

>40 detailmuse: Well, I'll be waiting with baited breath for reviews from you guys for the Gilbert. I hope you like it as much as I did!

>39 dchaikin: I read my first Shepard years ago - The Jaguar Hunter, which I thought was a bit dated now but maybe that's because I retained some of the storylines in the old noggin. He writes in several styles, but the ones I'm interested in are the quirky stories with a bit of the supernatural mixed in.

Edited: Oct 19, 2013, 5:35pm Top

Vatican Waltz by Roland Merullo *½ 10/15/13

Just awful.

I loved Merullo's Breakfast with Buddha and looked forward to reading his latest. But while the premise has some promise, the completed product is unfinished and unconvincing, stuffed to novel length with inconsequential detail. The blurb on the cover, stating that there will be "a turn of events that will rock the Church to its foundation" comes to no fruition. There is a description of something happening, but there is no evidence to support it or to indicate how this event might even be made manifest in a way to affect the Church or the world.

This is first draft badly in need of a heartless editor to force it into some shape.

Zealot: The Life and times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan ****½ 10/19/13

Edited: Nov 14, 2013, 7:05pm Top

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini ****½ 10/20/13

Beautiful, sometimes exquisite, although there were also a few areas I skimmed and which could have been deleted without harming the story at all. Includes one of the most heartbreaking passages I've ever read, in which a character leaves this note following his diagnosis of dementia: They tell me I must wade into waters, where I will soon drown. Before I march in, I leave this on the shore for you. I pray you find it, sister, so you will know what was in my heart as I went under.

Zombelina by Kristyn Crow **** 10/21/13

Very cute story of a little zombie girl who is enrolled in a ballet school by her mother. I saw this reviewed in the NY Times and just had to see it for the illustrations.

Still Midnight by Denise Mina **** 10/26/13

Suburban Gods by Branda Clough ***½ 11/1/13

End of the Wasp Season by Denise Mina ****11/7/13

Gods and Beasts by Denise Mina **** 11/11/13

Latitudes of Melt by Joan Clark **** 11/14/13

Oct 21, 2013, 11:48am Top

Glad to see the high rating for Aslan's book; it's on my wishlist (for a few different reasons).

Nov 21, 2013, 9:03am Top

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg ***½ 11/20/13

A very sweet but lightweight book that will make a terrific movie, much as the author's "Fried Green Tomatoes" did. The story really needs acting out to bring it fully to life. I just couldn't relate to the main character, whose angst at finding out at age 60 that she's adopted seems endless, but a good actress could make this more believable. Her adoptive mother, though, a narcissist whose demands know no boundaries, is very real, and the local color is marvelous, especially in the story of the main character's birth family during the first part of the 20th century (Polish-American Wisconsin and the WASPS - the women who flew plains for the Air Force during World War II). So, interesting to read, but needs dramatization to make it memorable.

Nov 21, 2013, 8:28pm Top

Have you read Can't Wait to Get to Heaven. That's a fun one too.

Edited: Dec 4, 2013, 9:38am Top

>46 avidmom: Thanks. I'll check it out.

Henderson's Spear by Ronald Wright **** 12/2/13

Fever of the Bone by Val McDermid **** 12/4/13

Dec 4, 2013, 2:53am Top

Like japaul, I hated Gilbert's navel-staring in Eat, Pray, Love but The Signature of All Things seems to be just the thing I might like.

Edited: Dec 8, 2013, 11:24pm Top

Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality by Edward Frenkel **** 12/8/13

Frenkel, a world-renowned mathematician, combines his autobiography with an overview of his work on the Langlands Program, a unified theory of mathematics.

The author, a Russian Jew, has had a remarkable life, first trying to educate himself while being blocked by Soviet prejudice from getting an advanced degree despite his brilliance, and then, after Perestroika, working and teaching in the U.S., to which he was invited by Harvard at age 20. The autobiography, which is scattered throughout the book, is quite amazing. The mathematical explanations, though, are very tough going and far more difficult than I had the energy (or intention) to work through. I read this for the biographical component and just skipped the math, and his is quite a story, well-worth the read.

Dec 9, 2013, 8:08pm Top

>49 auntmarge64: I'm giving Love and Math to my mathematician brother for Christmas. He's applied math (vs. Frenkel's theoretical) and I'm hoping he'll like the memoir aspect too. I'm interested to get a copy to read myself.

Dec 11, 2013, 11:34am Top

>50 detailmuse: I took a look at a couple of his videos on youtube. He's very personable. I wonder how it feels to have to teach, say, differential calculus when you spend your regular life working on Langlands.

Edited: Dec 19, 2013, 9:39am Top

Group: Club Read 2013

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