28 November 2014

Ares; George O'Connor

Ares: Bringer of War (Olympians, #7)Ares: Bringer of War by George O'Connor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've said it before, I'm not a great fan of graphic novels (my mind just doesn't read that way) but... having said that... This isn't a bad version of the Trojan War, although one might argue that readers would need a deeper understanding of the source material to truly get the who and what of this version.

Copy provided by publisher.

The Next Wave; Elizabeth Rusch

The Next Wave: The Quest to Harness the Power of the OceansThe Next Wave: The Quest to Harness the Power of the Oceans by Elizabeth Rusch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm giving this a 3 when it's really a 2.5; the information is scattered, with scientists disappearing for large portions of the book and then reappearing at random. It felt like some information was missing, or could have been added in to help younger readers understand the diagrams.

Copy provided by publisher.

Stone Cove Island; Suzanne Myers

Stone Cove IslandStone Cove Island by Suzanne Myers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very atmospheric setting, which made me feel a little generous (this really is a 3.5). I'm not sure this is a real mystery, more of a Cold Case and Dark Secret, although why what happened to Bess is such a secret is questionable. The romance between Eliza and Charlie was much more interesting, given the class questions (as well as their parents' tangled pasts).

And, once again, ignore the blurbage. There's nothing either Stepford Wives or Stephen King about this book.

ARC provided by publisher.

Chasing Cheetahs; Sy Montgomery

Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa's Fastest CatChasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa's Fastest Cat by Sy Montgomery
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Overall this is a good book, but there were moments when I wondered about the editing: it felt as though there were things left out that led to jumpy transitions, and the photos didn't always match the text (which meant hunting for the corresponding information). Still, the younger readers that are this series target will probably not notice and the information contained within will be valuable.

Copy provided by publisher.

Glamourpuss; Sarah Weeks

GlamourpussGlamourpuss by Sarah Weeks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So cute!

Glamourpuss and her self-centered life being interrupted by - gasp! - a dog could have led to serious lessons in humility and generosity. Luckily, that's not quite the case...

In an Antique Land; Amitav Ghosh

In an Antique Land: History in the Guise of a Traveler's TaleIn an Antique Land: History in the Guise of a Traveler's Tale by Amitav Ghosh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I forget what made me grab this book it an put it on Mt. Bookpile but whatever instinct that was, it was a good one!

This is an odd book, part history, part personal memoir, and the intertwining of the two doesn't always work well. Ghosh is intrigued by mention of a slave, an Indian owned by a Jew, Ben Yiju, some 700 years earlier; the scraps of information found in the Cairo Geniza provide tantalizing clues to the existence of both Ben Yiju and the man Ghosh eventually names Bomma, and his travels to Egypt and Mangalore help (somewhat) to fill in the blanks. It's hard to read this without spending time researching some of the places, people and events, making it a longer read than I anticipated.

The non-history part is about that author's time staying in Egypt, during the 1980s, in a couple of rather poor villages. The characters he meets are interesting, with a range of awareness about the outside world and modern times that is, at times, breathtaking. A The idea that one can travel from their village to Ghosh's Indian village by donkey? One would think that even in the 80s people would know that couldn't happen... but not here! It's also easier to understand the Indian problems between Hindus and Muslims once you hear what these Egyptians think of the Hindu religious practices.

A worthwhile read for the social history alone!

15 November 2014

Acedia & Me; Kathleen Norris

Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's LifeAcedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life by Kathleen Norris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not quite what I expected: the monks are mostly old (or, perhaps a better phrase is "historic") and the build up to the writer's life is very, very slow. The idea of acedia is old, but, as Norris explains, has become part of depression and thus somewhat lost its importance in our mental lexicon. Yet it's not depression, it's the inability to move forward, to do anything. How we respond to acedia, how we work through it, was what I was hoping for more of and would have been happier with less of the early Church fathers.

Just Call Me Superhero; Alina Bronsky

Just Call Me SuperheroJust Call Me Superhero by Alina Bronsky
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Read at your own risk: homophobia, an unlikable hero (definitely not a superhero) and such a slow build that after 100ish pages there's no reason to care about any one we've met.


The Language of Flowers; Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Language of FlowersThe Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Reading this, it was easy to understand the love that reviewers had when it was first released. So why three stars? For me, there was something just a little off. Maybe it was that the story about girl-meets-boy but has Big Secret that keeps them apart seemed a little overdone, or maybe because I just couldn't believe that Victoria was only 18, perhaps 19, during the events here. There is a naivete there, but overall she seems to be older (and no, it's not because she grew up quickly in The System).

The language of flowers has always intrigued me, so reading about it and learning more was great. The bouquets Victoria creates and her belief that flowers are so powerful that they can change lives, is by far the best part of the book.

A Slender Thread; Katharine Davis

A Slender ThreadA Slender Thread by Katharine Davis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The plot (two sisters, one overly involved with the other to the detriment of her romantic relationship, one with a degenerative brain disease) is rather ordinary, with brief flashes of something different. What was confusing was that Margot (younger sister) and Oliver (her boyfriend) are both artists, even though Margot currently works in a gallery not as an artist. Yet the chapter headings are all about weaving - and the glimpses of Lacey (older sister) working as a weaver are few and far between. Bad editing? Perhaps. And then there was the Big Reveal about Margot's Indiscretion. Unnecessary.