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Title: Magic for Beginners
Author: Kelly Link
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Year: 2005
# of pages: 271
Date read: 6/20/2012
Rating: 4*/5 = great

Description:

"Magic for Beginners is many things. Sweetly strange. Liberally scattered with brilliance. A magical lens on the stuff of life that moves and makes us. These are stories of the real world made beautifully unreal: of transformation, love, zombies and brothers fired from cannons. They are the stories you have been waiting to read." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this collection of short stories in which the odd and familiar live side by side. Some of my favorite stories were "Catskin" and "Magic for Beginners."
Title: Started Early, Took My Dog
Author: Kate Atkinson
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Year: 2011
# of pages: 371
Date read: 6/6/2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good

Description:

"It's a day like any other for Tracy Waterhouse, working security at the local shopping center to supplement her pension from the police force. Then she makes a purchase she hadn't bargained on. One moment of madness is all it takes for Tracy's humdrum world to be turned upside down, the tedium of everyday life replaced by fear and danger and the first sparks of love.

Witnesses to Tracy's Faustian exchange are Tilly, an elderly actress teetering on the brink of her own disaster, and Jackson Brodie, the reluctant detective whose own life has been stolen and who has now been hired to find someone else's. Variously accompanied, pursued, or haunted by neglected dogs, unwanted children, and keepers of dark secrets, soon all three will learn that the past is never history - and that no good deed goes unpunished." -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

This was a good mystery with seemingly unimportant threads which prove useful in the end. I look forward to reading the first book in the series, Case Histories.
25th-Nov-2012 07:45 pm - 22. Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff

Title: Bad Monkeys
Author: Matt Ruff
Publisher: HarperCollins
Year: 2007
# of pages: 227
Date read: 6/22/2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good



Description:

Jane Charlotte has been arrested for murder.

She tells police that she is a member of a secret organization devoted to fighting evil; her division is called the Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons—"Bad Monkeys" for short.

This confession earns Jane a trip to the jail's psychiatric wing, where a doctor attempts to determine whether she is lying, crazy—or playing a different game altogether. What follows is one of the most clever and gripping novels you'll ever read.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this quirky, amusing book about good, evil, reality and fiction. I especially liked Jane's interactions with her instructors.

Title: A Fortune-Teller Told Me: Earthbound Travels in the Far East
Author: Tiziano Terzani
Publisher: Flamingo
Year: 1998
# of pages: 370
Date read: 5/27/2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good

Description:

"Warned by a Hong Kong fortune-teller not to risk flying for a whole year. Tiziano Terzni - a vastly experienced Asia correspondent - took what he called 'the first step into an unknown world. . . .It turned out to be one of the most extraordinary years I have ever spent. I was marked for death, and instead I was reborn.' Traveling by foot, boat, car and train, he visited Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Mongolia, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. Consulting soothsayers and shamans wherever he went, he grew to understand and respect older ways of life and beliefs now threatened by the crasser forms of Western modernity." -- from the back cover.

My thoughts:

This was an interesting memoir of travels in the Far East via train, car, and boat.
Someone to Watch OverTitle: Somone to Watch Over
Author: Trish MacDonald Skillman
Publisher: Dell
Year: 1994
# of pages: 388
Date read: 4/25/2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good

Description: 

"I will be your guardian angel, and I will never let you go. . . .

In her disheveled little house on a run-down midwestern street she has seen the signs he left her: a repaired step, a clean set of dishes, even a new nightgown on her bed. Someone is watching over her and her two children. . . .

Devastated by the death of her husband, slowly Kate Eldridge begins to live again. Now she has a second chance--at love and at happiness. But Kate doesn't know her guardian angel has plans of his own, or what violent secrets haunt him, or how far he will go to keep her and her children in her sight and in his hands. . . .

It began as an act of kindness. Now it has turned into a dangerous obsession. The man who is watching over her has crossed the line into madness. . .and into terror. . . ." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was an intense thriller featuring a man who slowly becomes a madman who creates his own reality.

Title: All Our Worldly Goods
Author: Irene Nemirovsky
Publisher: Vintage International
Year: 1947, 2008 (Translation)
# of pages: 264
Date read: 4/23/2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good

Description:

"Set in France between 1910 and 1940--and first published in 1947, five years after the author's death--All Our Worldly Goods is a gripping story of war, family life and star-crossed lovers Pierre and Agnes marry for love against the wishes of his parents and his grandfather, the tyrannical family patriarch. Their marriage provokes a family feud that cascades down the generations. This Brilliant novel is full of drama, heartbreak, and the telling observations that have made Nemirovsky's work so beloved and admired." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a moving story about love and courage which repeats down the generations. It was also about tradition and change and how holding on too tight often leads to loss.
3rd-Jul-2012 11:22 am - 17. Native Tongue by Carl Hiassen

Title: Native Tongue
Author: Carl Hiassen
Publisher: Fawcett Crest
Year: 1991
# of pages: 407
Date Read; 4/18/2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good


Description:

"Who stole the voles? Yes, it's true. The precious blue-tongued mango voles at the Amazing Kingdom of Thrills in North Key Largo are gone, stolen by heartless, ruthless thugs with much bigger - and deadlier - things in mind.

Joe Winder wants to uncover those "things" and find the voles. Winder is a burned-out ex-muckraking reporter now working for the Amazing Kingdom theme park as their PR man. But now the voles are gone, and Winder is dragged along in their wake through a series of weird and lethal events that begin with the sleazy real-estate agent/villain Francis X. Kingsbury and can end only one way. And Winder has no idea what way that will be. Until its damn near too late." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this off-beat book about crooked developers, bungling crooks, and amusement parks.
Title: Household Gods
Authors: Judith Tarr and Harry Turtledove
Publisher: Tor Fantasy
Year: 1999
# of pages: 664
Date read: 4/9/2012
Rating: 4*/5 = great

Description:

"Nicole Gunther-Perrin is a modern young professional, proud of her legal skills but weary of the daily grind, of childcare, and of sexist coworkers and her deadbeat ex-husband. Then after one exceptionally awful day, she awakens to find herself in a different life, that of a widowed tavernkeeper on the Roman frontier around A.D. 170.

Delighted at first, she quickly begins to realize that her new world is as complicated as her old one. Violence, dirt, and pain are everywhere; slavery is commonplace, gladiators kill for sport, and drunkenness is taken for granted. Yet, somehow, people manage to face life everyday with humor and goodwill.

No quitter, Nicole manages to adapt, despite endless worry about the fate of her children "back" in the twentieth century. Then plague sweeps through Carnuntum, followed by brutal war. Amidst pain and loss on a level she had never imagined, Nicole must find reserves of the sort of strength she had never known." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I liked this book about a modern woman finding herself in a different time, but not because of the time travel. Rather, I liked the way Nicole has to confront her assumptions and how she finds the strength she needs in herself.
4th-Jun-2012 01:14 pm - 15. Lullabye by Patricia Wallace
Title: Lullabye
Author: Patricia Wallace
Publisher: Zebra Books
Year: 1990
# of pages: 287
Date read: 3/31/2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good

Description:

"Eight year old Bronwyn knew she wasn't like other girls. She didn't have a mother. At least not a real one. Her mother had been in a coma at the hospital for as long as Bronwyn could remember. She couldn't feel any pain, her father said, it was just like sleeping - only she never woke up.

But on visiting days, when Bronwyn sat with her mother, she knew it wasn't true that she couldn't feel anything. Her mother was angry. Angry at the nurses and doctors for the way they treated her. Angry at her own helplessness.

But soon, very soon, she would be helpless no longer. And then she would show them all the true meaning of suffering." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a good book about revenge, grief, and moving on. I liked the relationship between Wyatt and his daughter Bronwyn. 

Progress:

15 / 100 books. 15% done!

4604 / 35000 pages. 13% done!
4th-Jun-2012 12:59 pm - 14. Sphere by Michael Crichton
Title: Sphere
Author: Michael Crichton
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Year: 1987
# of pages: 385
Date read: 3/29/2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good

Description:

"In the South Pacific, 1,000 feet beneath the surface, a spaceship rests on the ocean floor -- a spaceship at least 300 years old.

Rushed to the scene are four scientists: an astrophysicist, a biologist, a mathematician and a psychologist. Together they descend into the depths of the sea to investigate this astonishing find, to search for answers.

Has it come from an alien culture? From a different universe? From the future? What happened to the crew and what is the giant silver sphere of alien construction that they find inside the ship?

The riddle seems unsolvable. Then someone or something begins to transmit messages onto their computer screen: messages that grow increasingly hostile, hinting at a terrifying power that threatens to destroy their underwater habitat and their very lives. . ." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a very good thriller with many twists and turns. I like the way it was hard to distinguish what's real and what's not.
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