Thursday, December 27, 2007

Starcross by Philip Reeve & David Wyatt (kid's book)

This book is terrific! It is so funny and entertaining. It sort of reminds me of a cross between the magical air of The Invention of Hugo Cabret and the quirky strangeness of a Jasper Fforde novel. It's the second in a series (which I didn't know when I picked it up), and now I've got the first one on my list to read as well.

Before I Die by Jenny Downham (a book for older teens and up)

This book, about a British teenager who only has months to live (she has leukemia), has been getting rave reviews. I thought it was okay, but I didn't think it was *great.* And I swore to myself that I wouldn't cry at the end, but of course I did.

Seeker by Jack McDevitt

Another rousing space odyssey/mystery by Jack McDevitt, my current favorite SF author. This one focuses on the fate of a mysterious colony that was lost nine thousand years prior to when the story takes place. I enjoyed it, but I must confess that the ending was disappointing to me -- the villian seemed too contrived, and detracted from the overall story of the lost colony. But maybe that's just me.

Running to the Mountain by Jon Katz (memoir)

I really enjoy Jon Katz's writing. He is thoughtful and interesting and I love his honesty and occasional crankiness. This book is an account of the time he spent alone (with his dogs) in a remote part of New York State, away from his wife and daughter and their life in suburban New Jersey.
"I'm not nearly as afraid of dying as I am of the hinges inside my mind and soul rusting closed. I am desperate to keep them open, because I think that if they close, that's one's first death, the loss of hope, curiosity, and possibility, the spiritual death. After that, it seems to me, the second one is just a formality." (p. 11)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum (movie)

This movie rocks! It's an action flick with a brain. And Matt Damon's not bad to look at either. :)

Now Face to Face by Karleen Koen

Ugh. I'm glad I am done with this trilogy. By the end, I was just slogging through because I was curious to see what happened to the characters. The author kept changing viewpoints every few pages so I could never really get into a character's head, because by the time I did, she changed the viewpoint. And there was way too much court intrigue, melodrama and mishegas. And way too many bad things happened to this one person, ostensibly the main character of the book. It got to the point where I would just roll my eyes because the level of horrible things she had to deal with got to be kind of unrealistic. And frankly, by the end of this loooooong book, I didn't like ANY of the main characters! At all! So I really didn't care what happened to them.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cauldron by Jack McDevitt

A very enjoyable, intelligent sci-fi book. I really do enjoy Jack McDevitt's writing.

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex (kid's book)

A hilarious, sweet book. Thanks to Michelle C for recommending it. It's a bit hard to describe, though... so I'll just quote from the book flap.
"Twelve-year-old Gratuity 'Tip' Tucci is assigned to write five pages on 'The True Meaning of Smekday' for the National Time Capsule contest, and she's not sure where to begin: when her mom started telling everyone about the messages aliens were sending through a mole on the back of her neck? Maybe on Christmas Even, when huge, bizarre spaceships descended to Earth, and aliens -- called the Boov -- abducted her mother? Or when the Boov declared Earth a colony, renamed it 'Smekland' (in honor of glorious Captain Smek) and forced all Americans to relocate to Florida via rocketpod?"

Friday, December 14, 2007

Through a Glass Darkly by Karleen Koen

Jeez! This book was kind of depressing! It's a historical novel set in the early 1700s. Very well-written and interesting, but practically everyone dies, and not in a pretty way either. I kept reading it because the writing is really good, but every time someone else bit the dust I wondered who would be left standing at the end.

Still, the story was compelling enough to make me check out the sequel, which is another fat book called Now Face to Face, so I can find out what happens to the people who actually managed to survive the first book.

I might try reading something a little lighter in between though.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cures for Heartbreak by Margo Rabb (teen novel)

Well-written and interesting.

Polaris by Jack McDevitt

Very enjoyable mystery/science fiction.

The Design of Future Things by Donald A. Norman

I have thought Donald A. Norman is really neat ever since I read The Psychology of Everyday Things back in grad school. This book is an interesting companion to that one. In this book, Norman stresses that technology and human beings have to work out better ways of communicating with each other. He writes: "as machines start to take over more and more... they need to be socialized; they need to improve the way they communicate and interact and to recognize their limitations. Only then can they become truly useful."
And, this is SO important in my opinion, "we must design our technologies for the way people actually behave, not the way we would like them to behave."
If you like thinking about human-machine interfaces or user-interface design (or even if you've just had a really bad experience with a piece of technology) you might get a kick out of this book!

Waitress (movie)

Just saw this cute, quirky movie and really enjoyed it. The main character is in an unhappy marriage and spends her time dreaming up new pies to bake. She calls them things like "I hate my husband pie" and "Bad baby pie" (this is after she finds out she is pregnant with an unwanted child). For more info about the movie check out IMDB at

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Dark Angels by Karleen Koen

A very satisfying historical novel set in England in the reign of Charles II (late 1600s). I highly enjoyed it. This is the "prequel" to Through a Glass Darkly, which I have now added to my long list of things to read.
If you were a fan of The Other Boleyn Girl or if you enjoy historical fiction, you should definitely give this a chance. It's one that I will be recommending a lot.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Omega by Jack McDevitt

What a fantastic sci fi adventure. I've never read anything by Jack McDevitt before but now I am planning to track down everything he's ever written. He not only writes interesting SF but he actually puts time and thought into character development, so that I feel invested in the fates of even the minor characters. I read this book on the train and barely noticed the time passing. In fact, I was annoyed when I got to my station because I had to stop reading long enough to get off the train and navigate to my next destination. Now THAT'S the mark of a good book.

Oh yes, and I am definitely in the "infatuation" phase of the Seven Steps of Falling in Love with an Author, as described by the folks at Unshelved...

T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton

Ah, one of the great benefits of working in a public library. I snarfed the new Sue Grafton book practically out from under the nose of Pat D, our book linker, and spirited it home last night to read it. It was another satisfying trip into the world of Kinsey Millhone, Private Investigator. If you're a fan of Sue Grafton's work I think you will like this one.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen

Beautiful writing, but kind of a depressing book. I kept waiting for things to get better but they never did... bad things just kept piling onto each other.

By the way, this book is a fictionalized account of how the Influenza Pandemic of 1918 affected one small town in Washington State. For a terrific, gripping nonfiction account of this Pandemic, I highly recommend New York Times science writer Gina Kolata's "Flu : the story of the great influenza pandemic of 1918 and the search for the virus that caused it." This was a really fascinating book.

Dauntless (The Lost Fleet, Book 1) by Jack Campbell

Military SF. Not too bad, but I wasn't really in the mood.