43. Triangle by Katharine Weber

Title: Triangle
Author: Katharine Weber
Publisher: Picador
Year: 2006
# of pages: 242
Date read: 12/29/2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good

Description:

"By the time she dies at age 106, Esther Gottesfeld, the last survivor of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fire, has told the story of that days many times. But her own role remains mysterious: How did she survive when at least 146 workers, her sister and fiancé among them, burned or jumped to their deaths? Are the gaps in her story just common mistakes, or has she deliberately concealed a secret over the years? As her granddaughter seeks the real story in the present day, a zealous feminist historian intrudes with her own set of conclusions, but it is Esther's voice echoing insistently through the decades that ultimately reveals the meaning of the tragedy.

A brilliant, haunting chronicle of the event that stood for ninety years as New York's most violent disaster, Triangle forces us to consider how we tell our stories, how we hear them, and how history is forged from unverifiable truths." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a very good book about people and their stories. The ones they tell, and the ones told about them. I liked Esther's interactions with the interviewer as well as her granddaughter's friend George Bostwick composing music based on DNA.

42. Serpent's Reach by C.J. Cherryh

Title: Serpent's Reach
Author: C.J. Cherryh
Publisher: DAW
Year:1980
# of pages: 285
Date read: 12/9/2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good


Description:

"The constellation of Hydri, known as the Serpent, is compact and obscure from Earth and remained so in the era of interstellar colonization. For it was under strict quarantine--harboring an intelligent race, powerful and alien. Yet there were human colonies within the Serpent's Reach, cut off from the galaxy beyond, with their own inbred culture, and their special relationships to the inhuman majat.

This is the novel of Raen, the last of the massacred Sul Family, and of her lifetime pledge to find vengeance. It was to take her across the worlds of the Reach into the very center of the alien webwork that knit the forbidden constellation into a complex of interbred cultures that no outsider could hope to unravel." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I liked this book set in a rich and complicated universe. I especially liked the way the majat are portrayed and how Raen interacts with them.

41. Murder at Government House by Elspeth Huxley

Title: Murder at Government House
Author: Elspeth Huxley
Publisher: Penguin
Year: 1937
# of pages: 231
Date read: 12/6/2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good


Description:

"Life in the colonial capital at Chania is relaxed and blooming, barring the odd hiccough in the regional railways, but Olivia Brandeis, a young anthropologist working in the region, senses that there is trouble brewing. When the Governor is found strangled at his desk, her suspicions are confirmed. Falicious rumors fly as Inspector Vachell tries to sort out conflictng accusations and find a real suspect. Then Olivia relates her encounter with a tribal witch doctor--and an even more terrifying series of events begins to unfold." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I liked this mystery set in Africa during the colonial period. I especially liked Vachell and Olivia working together to figure out who killed the Governor and why. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, Murder on Safari.

40. The Voyage by Philip Caputo

Title: The Voyage
Author: Philip Caputo
Publisher: Vintage Books
Year: 1999
# of pages: 416
Date read: 11/15/2012
Rating: 3*5 = good

Description:

"On a June morning in 1901, Cyrus Braithwaite commands his three sons to set sail from their Maine home aboard the family's forty-six-foot schooner and not return until September. Though confused and hurt by their father's cold-blooded order, the three brothers soon rise to the occasion and embark on a breathtakingly perilous journey down the East Coast, headed for the Florida Keys.

Almost a hundred years later, Cyrus's great-granddaughter Sybil sets out to uncover the events that transpired on the voyage. Her discoveries about the Braithwaite family and the America they lived in unfolds into a stunning tale of intrigue, murder, lies, and deceit.

In the tradition of great seafaring adventures, The Voyage is an intricately plotted, superbly detailed, and gripping story of adventure and courage. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Philip Caputo has written a timeless novel about the dangerous, reverberating effects of long-held family secrets." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This is a very good book about adventure and family. I especially liked the brothers learning to work together in the storms.

39. Running Away to Home by Jennifer Wilson

Title: Running Away to Home
Author: Jennifer Wilson
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Year: 2011
# of pages: 317
Date read: 11/9/2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good

Description:

"'We can look at this in two ways,' Jim wrote, always the pragmatist. 'We can panic and scrap the whole idea. Or we can take this as a sign. They're saying the economy is going to get worse before it gets better. Maybe this is the kick in the pants we needed to do something completely different. There will always be an excuse not to go. . . .'

And that, friends, is how a typically sane middle-aged mother decided to drag her family back to a forlorn mountain village in the backwoods of Croatia.

So begins the author's journey in Running Away to Home. Jen, her architect husband Jim, and their two children had been living the typical soccer-and-ballet-practice life in the most Middle American of places: Des Moines, Iowa. They overindulged themselves and their kids, and as a family they were losing one another in the rush of work, school, and activities. One day, Jen and her husband looked at each other--both holding their Starbucks coffee as they headed out to their SUV in the mall parking lot, while the kids complained about the inferiority of the toys they just got--and asked themselves: 'Is this the American dream? Because if it is, it sort of sucks.'

Jim and Jen had always dreamed of taking a family sabbatical in another country, so when they lost half their savings in the stock-market crash, it seemed like just a crazy enough time to do it. High on wanderlust, they left the troubled landscape of contemporary America for the Croatian mountain village of Mrkopalj, the land of Jennifer's ancestors. It was a village that seemed hermetically sealed for the last one hundred years, with a population of eight hundred (mostly drunken) residents and a herd of sheep milling around the post office. For several months they lived like locals, from milking the neighbor's cows to eating roasted pig on a spit to desperately seeking the village recipe for bootleg liquor. As the Wilson-Hoff family struggled to stay sane (and warm), what they found was much deeper and bigger than themselves." -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book of not only researching family history, but living in the ancestors' home village and meeting new relatives. I liked how Jen learned not to stand outside as an observer but instead participate in daily activities, thus making new and valued friends.

38. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Title: Olive Kitteridge
Author: Elizabeth Strout
Publisher: Random House
Year: 2008
# of pages: 270
Date read: 10/20/2012
Rating:3*/5 = good


Description:

"At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.

As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life --- sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridgeoffers profound insights into the human condition --- its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I liked this book about a small town in Maine and the people who live there. At first, I considered Olive to be aloof, but as the book progressed, I discovered she was more than I thought.

37. Machine Man by Max Barry

Title: Machine Man
Author: Max Barry
Publisher: Vintage Books
Year: 2011
# of pages: 274
Date read: 10/11/2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good

Description:

"Scientist Charles Neumann loses a leg in an industrial accident. It's not a tragedy. It's an opportunity. Charlie always thought his body could be better. His employer, military contractor Better Future, has the resources Charlie needs to explore a few ideas. He begins to build parts. Better parts.

Prosthetist Lola Shanks admires a good artificial limb and Charlie admires Lola. In Charlie, she sees a man on his way to becoming artificial everything. Others see a madman. Others still, a product. And Better Future sees a weapon of unparalleled potential." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book. I liked the mix of human and machine and the way Charlie became more human as he replaced parts of himself.

36. Heat Rises by Richard Castle

Title: Heat Rises
Author: Richard Castle
Publisher: Hyperion
Year: 2011
# of pages: 301
Date read: 9/22/2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good

Description:

"The bizarre murder of a parish priest at a New York bondage club opens Nikki Heat's most thrilling and dangerous case so far, pitting her against New York's most vicious drug lord, an arrogant CIA contractor, and a shadowy death squad out to gun her down. And that is just the tip of an iceberg that leads Nikki Heat to a dark conspiracy that reaches all the way to the highest level of the NYPD.

But when she gets too close to the truth, Nikki finds herself disgraced, stripped of her badge and out on her own as a target for killers, with nobody she can trust. Except maybe the one man in her life who’s not a cop: reporter Jameson Rook.

In the midst of New York’s coldest winter in a hundred years, there’s one thing Nikki is determined to prove: Heat Rises." -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this third book of the "Nikki Heat" series. It was fast-paced and it kept me guessing throughout. I look forward to reading the next book, Frozen Heat.

35. The Xander Years by Keith R.A. DeCandido

Title: The Xander Years
Author: Keith R.A. DeCandido
Publisher: Pocket Books
Year: 1999
# of pages: 227
Date read: 9/18/2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good


Description:

"Unfulfilled crushes. Awkward first conversations. A date who wants you. . .dead.

Having a Y-chromsome in Sunnydale is never easy. But Buffy the Vampire Slayer's friend Xander Harris seems to find more than his share of trouble with the opposite sex.

At first Xander is happy being the teacher's pet--until his schoolboy crush brings out her true animal instincts. Then his whirlwind romance with the exotic foreign exchange student falters when she demands the ultimate sacrifice.

Some members of the Slaying squad might say that dating Cordelia Chase could kill a guy. But Xander's relationship with the high-maintenance Cordy actually seems to be working out--until she decides he's seriously harming her social standing. His craft plan to win her back may earn him more love than one guy can handle.

Now collected for the first time, are three stories from the hit TV series chronicling Xander's search for love on the Hellmouth." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

At first, I wasn't sure if I wanted to read stories based on a television show, even a show I like. But as I continued reading, I started to enjoy reading about Xander's misadventures and finding out how he saw things and what he thought.

34. Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard

Title: Emotional Geology
Author: Linda Gillard
Publisher: Transita
Year: 2005
# of pages: 307
Date read: 9/15/2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good


Description:

"Rose Leonard is on the run from her life.

Taking refuge in a remote island community, she cocoons herself in work, silence and solitude in a house by the sea. But she is haunted by her past, by memories and desires she'd hoped were long dead.

Rose must decide whether she has in fact chosen a new life or just a different kind of death. Life and love are offered by new friends, her lonely daughter, and most of all Callum, a fragile younger man who has his own demons to exorcise.

But does Rose, with her tenuous hold on life and sanity, have the courage to say yes to life and put her past behind her?" -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a moving story about love and art, strength and weakness, and learning to trust again. I liked the interaction between Rose and Callum and between Rose and her daughter Megan.