Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Masterminds Payback by Gordon Korman, 312 pages

I've really enjoyed this series. Very glad that Rebecca recommended it.

Murder in the Queen's Wardrobe by Kathy Lynn Emerson, 251 pages

London, 1582: Mistress Rosamond Jaffrey, a talented and well-educated woman of independent means, is recruited by Queen Elizabeth I's spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, to be lady-in-waiting to Lady Mary, a cousin of the queen. With her talent in languages and knowledge of ciphers and codes, she will be integral to the spymaster as an intelligence gatherer, being able to get close to Lady Mary just at the time when she is being courted by Russia's Ivan the Terrible.
However, there are some nobles at court who will do anything they can to thwart such and alliance and in her quest to protect her ward-and her estranged husband-Rosamund must put herself in mortal peril.
I was not overly impressed with this. I've read a lot of historical fiction and this didn't ring true at all. Rosamund seemed way too independent and outspoken to be accurate and the plot didn't seem believable at all. Not one of my favorite reads.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Where the Dead Lie by C.S. Harris, 338 pages

This was probably the darkest Sebastian St. Cyr mystery yet with the torture and murder of a street urchin setting off an investigation into the disappearances of the unwanted children of London. This series is well-written, filled with historical details and intriguing characters and a compelling mystery (or two.) Now starts the wait for the next one to come out.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Like One of the Family by Alice Childress, 221 pages

This was a collection of short stories that originally dated from the late 1950s by a African-American writer. It's Mildred, who's a domestic in New York, talking to her friend, Marge, about a variety of subjects and topics. This was pretty shocking when it came out, and is still compelling. No matter how far the world has come in race relations, we still have a long way to go it seems.

The End of Oz by Danielle Paige, 277 pages

This is the final book in the Oz series by Danielle Paige. The series has imagined what would happened if Dorothy returned to Oz? But this isn't the happy, cute story you know from the movie. Dorothy is power-hungry, her friends Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion are terrifying and Oz is paying the price.
This was a great teen read, very compelling and interesting for anyone who enjoyed the Oz story and wondered what happened after.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, 274 pages

I'm so glad book club read this for May. I knew I'd read it before, but it had been a long time ago, and I had it in my mind that it was okay, but not my favorite. It was much better than I remember. It was a sweet read, reminding me very much of The Little Princess (also by the same author) and Little Women. So glad to have my opinion of this book changed.

The Private Lives of the Tudors by Tracy Borman, 448 pages

This looked at the Tudors, covering Henry VII through Elizabeth, The Virgin Queen, ending with James. The book examined how they presented themselves publicly and how they lived privately, oftentimes using the separation as a tool. I'm a huge fan of English historical nonfiction, and I still learned a lot of new information from this book.

Dorothy Must Die Stories Volume 2 by Danielle Paige, 307 pages

The second set of stories continuing the look at what would happen to Oz if Dorothy returned.

Dorothy Must Die Stories by Danielle Paige, 377 pages

This series imagines what would happen to Oz if Dorothy returned.
These stories feature looks at the characters of Oz and what happened to them immediately after Dorothy returned to Oz. It's dark, vivid and a great read.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Chickadee by Louise Erdrich, 196 pages

This series is great. I'm so sad that it's almost done.

The Porcupine Year by Louise Erdrich, 193 pages

I'm so glad Rebecca recommended these books. They're basically Little House on the Prairie books but from an Indian viewpoint. The books are sweet, interesting and a great read.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Head Lopper by Andrew Maclean, 280 pages

This is one I only read for Comics and Cocktails. Not my favorite.

When Ladies Go A-Thieving by Elaine S. Abelson, 292 pages

This was a fantastic present from my kids for Mother's Day. It looks at the cultural and historical aspect of the rise of the department store and the female shoplifter. This was a trifle dry but still an interestin
g read.

Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, 303 pages

This series is still just as fantastic now as when I first read it decades ago.

Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey, 277 pages

I love how great the dragon books are in this series.

Saga, Volume 7 by Fiona Staples & Brian K. Vaughan, 152 pages

I've been a fan of this series since we read the first one for our Comics and Cocktails. It's never a real happy ending but still a gripping read.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bundori by Laura Joh Rowland, 339 pages

Arthur and Sherlock by Michael Sims, 245 pages

I love anything Sherlock and nonfiction is one of my favorite genres as well, so this was a must read. Unfortunately it just didn't live up to my expectations. It went over a lot of the early life of Doyle but didn't cover his complicated feelings for his most famous creation or his life basically once Sherlock Holmes became a success. All in all, it left me feeling disappointed.

Every Body On Deck by G.A. McKevett, 308 pages

This book was horrible in that it makes me want to take a cruise even more than before, lol. I have always liked the Savannah books and this one was a great read as well. My only complaint is that I'm jealous of what great people Savannah has in her life. As always, I recommend starting this series at the beginning so you don't miss anything.

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey, 192 pages

This was this month's book for one of my book clubs. I've always enjoyed the dragon books by McCaffrey, so I was delighted to re-read this one. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed it and I'm going to go back and read the other ones in the series. A great fantasy work by a fantastic author.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Gris Grimly's Tales from the Brothers Grimm, 278 pages

The Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales are brought to life for a new generation of readers in their original, uncut form by the modern master of gothic horror, Gris Grimly.
Grimm. The name alone is enough to call to mind any number of the timeless fairy tales collected by brothers Jacob and Wilhelm in the early nineteenth century. These folktales have been told and retold in many forms for over two centuries, and while the particular mix of fantasy, adventure, and wonder that defined their seven-volume collection has endured, the terror, violence, and darkness of the original stories has often been lost in translation.
Enter Gris Grimly, who has faithfully reproduced the original text of a selection of tales and adorned them with his own inimitable artwork. The result is a Grimm collection unlike any other, set in a world that is whimsically sinister, darkly vivid, and completely unforgettable.

Atlas Obscura by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton, 470 pages

It's time to get off the beaten path. Inspiring equal parts wonder and wanderlust, Atlas Obscura celebrates over 700 of the strangest and most curious places in the world.

Talk about a bucket list: here are natural wonders—the dazzling glowworm caves in New Zealand, or a baobob tree in South Africa that's so large it has a pub inside where 15 people can drink comfortably. Architectural marvels, including the M.C. Escher-like stepwells in India. Mind-boggling events, like the Baby Jumping Festival in Spain, where men dressed as devils literally vault over rows of squirming infants. Not to mention the Great Stalacpipe Organ in Virginia, Turkmenistan's 40-year hole of fire called the Gates of Hell, a graveyard for decommissioned ships on the coast of Bangladesh, eccentric bone museums in Italy, or a weather-forecasting invention that was powered by leeches, still on display in Devon, England.

Created by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton, ATLAS OBSCURA revels in the weird, the unexpected, the overlooked, the hidden and the mysterious. Every page expands our sense of how strange and marvelous the world really is. And with its compelling descriptions, hundreds of photographs, surprising charts, maps for every region of the world, it is a book to enter anywhere, and will be as appealing to the armchair traveler as the die-hard adventurer.

Eight Flavors by Sarah Lohman, 281 pages

This unique culinary history of America offers a fascinating look at our past and uses long-forgotten recipes to explain how eight flavors changed how we eat.
The United States boasts a culturally and ethnically diverse population which makes for a continually changing culinary landscape. But a young historical gastronomist named Sarah Lohman discovered that American food is united by eight flavors: black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG, and Sriracha. In Eight Flavors, Lohman sets out to explore how these influential ingredients made their way to the American table.
She begins in the archives, searching through economic, scientific, political, religious, and culinary records. She pores over cookbooks and manuscripts, dating back to the eighteenth century, through modern standards like How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. Lohman discovers when each of these eight flavors first appear in American kitchens—then she asks why.
Eight Flavors introduces the explorers, merchants, botanists, farmers, writers, and chefs whose choices came to define the American palate. Lohman takes you on a journey through the past to tell us something about our present, and our future. We meet John Crowninshield a New England merchant who traveled to Sumatra in the 1790s in search of black pepper. And Edmond Albius, a twelve-year-old slave who lived on an island off the coast of Madagascar, who discovered the technique still used to pollinate vanilla orchids today. Weaving together original research, historical recipes, gorgeous illustrations and Lohman’s own adventures both in the kitchen and in the field, Eight Flavors is a delicious treat—ready to be devoured.
I always like books like this, and while this wasn't the best one I've ever read it was still an enjoyable read. I especially enjoyed the vanilla section. I learned that the chemical compound found in vanilla and imitation vanilla, vanillin, is synthesized from lignin, C9H1002, which is found in wood. And old book pages can smell like vanilla from oxidizing lignin. So now I know the science behind why old books smell so good.

The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill, 389 pages

The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a love story with the power of legend. An unparalleled tale of charismatic pianos, invisible dance partners, radicalized chorus girls, drug-addicted musicians, brooding clowns, and an underworld whose economy hinges on the price of a kiss. In a landscape like this, it takes great creative gifts to thwart one’s origins. It might also take true love.
Two babies are abandoned in a Montreal orphanage in the winter of 1914. Before long, their talents emerge: Pierrot is a piano prodigy; Rose lights up even the dreariest room with her dancing and comedy. As they travel around the city performing clown routines, the children fall in love with each other and dream up a plan for the most extraordinary and seductive circus show the world has ever seen.
Separated as teenagers, sent off to work as servants during the Great Depression, both descend into the city’s underworld, dabbling in sex, drugs and theft in order to survive. But when Rose and Pierrot finally reunite beneath the snowflakes – after years of searching and desperate poverty – the possibilities of their childhood dreams are renewed, and they’ll go to extreme lengths to make them come true. Soon, Rose, Pierrot and their troupe of clowns and chorus girls have hit New York, commanding the stage as well as the alleys, and neither the theater nor the underworld will ever look the same.

I have to say that this book was heartbreaking to read at times and the ending just about killed me. I'm still pondering it and feeling upset, so all in all, a sign of a good book.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Rasco and the Rats of NIMH by Jane Leslie Conly, 288 pages

‘Racso, a brash and boastful little rodent, is making his way to Thorn Valley, determined to learn how to read and write and become a hero. His bragging and lies get him off to a bad start, but a crisis gives him the opportunity to prove his mettle. A worthy successor [to Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, a Newbery Medal winner by the author's father].