Tag Archives: books

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld: We might call them vampires, but in Cal’s world, they’re called “parasite positives,” or peeps. They have similar symptoms: an aversion to sunshine and other familiar things, a thirst for blood, an affinity for rats, that sort of thing. Shortly after starting college in New York City, Cal spends the night with a woman and winds up a carrier of the disease himself – all the special powers without the nasty side-effects – and is later recruited to help hunt down all the women he’s infected. The idea of vampirism-as-disease is not new, but I’d never seen it done quite like this before. Every other chapter is about real-life parasites, so if you’re squeamish about such things, you probably want to skip those parts. Personally, I found it all fascinating (if a bit stomach-churning at points), and I enjoyed Cal’s adventures as a peep hunter as well – like many of Westerfeld’s characters, he’s quite likable. I’m looking forward to the sequel, as the story is clearly ramping up to something big.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland

The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland: A fictionalized look at the life of Artemisia Gentileschi, an Italian Baroque painter in the 17th century. I’d never heard of her before this, and I found looking up her paintings enhanced my enjoyment of the book. The story begins during the latter part of the trial of her rapist, and continues through her times in Florence, Genoa, Rome, Naples, and London. It’s interesting how the rape trial was all but skipped, seeming to imply that we all know that story already, even though it shaped the course of her life for the next several years. I have mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but taken as a whole I’m a little disappointed. Huge chunks of time are glossed over, few of the characters are given any personality or physical description, and the main plot arc – Artemisia’s relationship with her father – feels like it was shoehorned in. Despite all that, I’m still glad I read it. Reading about painted is often inspiring, and I’ve now been introduced to another talented artist.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

The Law of Superheroes by James Daily and Ryan Davidson

The Law of Superheroes by James Daily and Ryan Davidson: The concept is clever: take superhero stories and apply real-world US law to them. Could someone testify in court while concealing their true identity? How does property law work for immortal beings? Does Superman have to file flight plans with the FAA? Not only is it a fun take on familiar comic book characters but it’s also a very good introduction to law in general. Parts are a bit dry, when the ratio of law to comic book leans a bit too far to the legal side, but by and large it’s very accessible and entertaining. You don’t need to be a legal scholar to appreciate follow along, and while it helps to at least be reasonably familiar with such big names as Superman, Iron Man, and the X-Men, you don’t have to be a huge comic book geek either. Definitely recommended for comic book fans looking for a broad overview of law, or even just a new way of looking at some of their favorite characters.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant

Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant (unabridged audiobook read by Rosalyn Landor; 15 hrs on 12 discs): When a particularly defiant novice, Serafina, is forced to join the convent of Santa Caterina, dispensary mistress Suora Zuana is sent to sedate her. Thus begins a friendship between two women living in a 16th century Italian convent. The descriptions of daily life are exquisitely detailed and often painfully direct. One of Dunant’s greatest talents is her ability to create multifaceted female characters who remained rooted in the time period in which they live, not anachronistically updated to fit contemporary sensibilities. If you enjoyed Dunant’s other historical novels, you’ll probably like this one. I did.

Reckless by Cornelia Funke

Reckless by Cornelia Funke (unabridged audiobook read by Elliot Hill; 6.75 hrs on 6 discs): I had a little trouble getting into this one. Jacob and Will’s father disappears through a magic mirror when they’re children, and Jacob spends most of the rest of his life making trips to the Mirrorworld to search for him. At some point Will joins him and is attacked by the Goyl, a race of stone beings who can cause men to turn into them. Will’s skin begins turning to jade, and Jacob – with the aid of Will’s girlfriend, Jacob’s werefox friend, and an unfriendly dwarf – sets off to find a cure for this supposedly incurable affliction. In the meantime, the Goyl are deeply interested in finding Will, as the famed jade-skinned Goyl is supposed to fulfill a prophecy. The Mirrorworld is an interesting mixture of classic fairy tales and other more unusual fantasy elements, brought together in a realm that is both familiar and quite new. I hope to give the next book in the series a try. Funke’s Inkheart trilogy started quite slow but the latter two volumes were un-put-downable so I have high hopes for this one. The world and characters are quite promising, and there is clearly quite a lot more of the story waiting to be told.

A note on the audio: Hill was fine, but for some reason I found his voice entirely too easy to tune out.

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke (unabridged audiobook read by Peter Ganim; 9 hrs on 8 discs): An unidentified celestial object, dubbed Rama by astronomers, is thought to be a comet as it approaches the solar system. When it is discovered that the object is cylindrical and very clearly artificial, a crew is dispatched to check it out. Like much hard SF, this book is more about ideas than story or characters. Some of the “future morality” – polygamy, shared spouses – felt kind of thrown in, whether for shock value or just “hey look how different society is now” I don’t know. It didn’t add anything to the story, but it didn’t really detract either. It just seemed extraneous. Still, the focus of the novel remained on Rama, as it should. I had a very difficult time wrapping my head around the geography of Rama, but I found much of the science – the gravity, the strange weather systems, the critters – quite compelling. If you like hard SF, well, you’ve probably already read this one. I’m not sure why it took me so long to get to it, but I’m glad I did. It’s certainly quite the thought experiment.

A note on the audio: Despite his often engaging character voices, Ganim’s regular narration was pretty dull.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

The Conspiracy Kid by E.P. Rose

The Conspiracy Kid by E.P. Rose: This is not a book that is easily summed up in a sentence or two. There’s a billionaire and a couple of Yankophile British kids who open a diner and some mental patients and a golfer and a poet and an artist or two and Hurricane Katrina and you get the idea. Despite the vast number of characters, the story is reasonably easy to follow as long as you keep a “just go with it” mindset and avoid feeling too incredulous. Parts are quite clever and parts are thoroughly bizarre, but all in all it’s kind of a fun change of pace. Most of the time these sorts of books just sort of end without a whole lot happening, but I was pleased to see a neatly tied-together ending that felt neither forced nor unsatisfying. If you’re looking for litfic that’s just a little different, give this a try.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

The Secret Rooms by Catherine Bailey

The Secret Rooms by Catherine Bailey: When the Duke of Rutland died in his study in 1940, his son ordered the rooms sealed. Bailey, one of the first historians allowed in, had intended to use the Duke’s meticulous record keeping to aid in a book about the experiences of the locals during World War I. What she found was three specific periods of time carefully excised from the record. This book is about her search for what happened during those times, and why he took such pains to hide it. For the most part, all is revealed. I found it much more interesting than I’d expected. There aren’t any grisly murders or anything truly sensational hidden in those lost months, but the aristocratic intrigue was fun to detangle. Fans of Downton Abbey would probably enjoy this, as it takes place during the same time period (the 1910s).

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Obstacles by Chris Reardon

Obstacles by Chris Reardon: Alcott is a doctor providing live-in care for a terminally ill boy to whom he forms a deep attachment. When he is given the opportunity to save the boy’s life in exchange for his own, he accepts and is then whisked to a fantasy realm where he and others in his same situation must pass a certain number of challenges to earn the right to perform the life exchange. The plot is more or less what you’d expect, though I was pleasantly surprised by a couple of the twists.

Alcott is quite the chatty narrator. He shares his every thought and emotion, often multiple times. The whole thing reads like a teenager with a thesaurus who found inspiration while on vacation in Florida. Everyone acts like a teenager, their reactions strangely amplified. People aren’t pleased; they’re ecstatic. Irritation becomes fury. Nervous becomes terrified. Everything is the most superlative it’s ever been, and everyone’s always yelling, yelping, or wailing.

In short, I think this book was published too soon: it needed to go through another few rounds of edits first.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles by Katherine Pancol

The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles by Katherine Pancol: When Josephine’s husband leaves her to go start a crocodile farm in Kenya with his mistress, she finds herself scrabbling to make ends meet. Her beautiful sister Iris lies about writing a book, and rather than admitting her fib, she convinces Josephine to write a 12th century romance under Iris’s name. (Josephine is a historian who specializes in that time period.) In the meantime, there’s some drama between Josephine’s stepfather and his mistress, and Josephine’s best friend and her lover, and in the end I noticed that absolutely no one finds love within their own marriage. Despite my prudishness, though, I did enjoy this bit of light fiction. It’s a good beach read, and I felt like I even learned a little something about 12th century France.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

© 2010-2019 kate weber All Rights Reserved -- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright