Monday, September 25, 2017

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

I miss bread. Warm, yeasty, fragrant bread with that soft inside and hard crust that cracks when you bite into it. Bread with fresh butter melting into the pockets and crevices left from the baking. Bread that holds your sandwich fillings, whether it's slightly rare roast beef with a touch of horseradish or garden warm tomatoes and mayo, tucked in among tender lettuce leaf. Bread to sop up a stew with, wiping up the very last drop. An allergy to wheat means that bread, real bread, is no longer on my menu. My body can't process the stuff, and I swell like the Michelin  Man, and can weigh as much as 3 pounds heavier for eating half an English Muffin. But sometimes, that weight gain is worth it, like at The Mill in San Francisco, or if I were to come upon bread made by Lois Clary, from her magical and mysterious sourdough starter in Robin Sloan's Sourdough.
 Set in San Francisco (sallowing me to visit one of my favorite places without taking a 6 hour flight), Sourdough is filled with the real and the imaginary, exploring the world of foodies (as opposed to the also delightful Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, by the same author, that delves into the world of book lovers.) One of the things I like about Sloan's book are the odd array of truths thrown into it (like the fact that there is a world-wideLois Club, that I might not have known about, had I not had a good friend named Lois when I was growing up.) It's a slim book, but a good one. And if I happen to look like Bibendum, from a wheat overload, I blame Robin Sloan.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

If music be the food of love...

 IIf you're thinking of sending birthday greetings in a couple of days, how about helping me update my playlist, and recommending a song you love instead. 

Let me know the Title/artist and I'll do the rest. Thanks. A playlist from suggestions made by friends makes my heart happy.

The best way to get your suggestion to me would be to put it here in the comments or email it to me. Other social media might work, but I'm erratic in checking it. (Please do not use the Messenger App. I don't have it.) 


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Cathedrals Of Glass A Planet Of Blood And Ice by A.J. Hartley

Well done, Mr Hartley. When night fell on Charleston, during Hurricane Irma's visit, and the electricity was out, I picked up my trusty iPad and crashed  into that strange, cold, and dangerous planet Valkrys, along with Sola and her shipmates. The irony of sitting in my 21st century home, curled up with an electronic device, reading about teens from a distant future, whose lives are pretty much spent in a society where the infonet provides all social interactions, and the world is climate controlled did not escape me. I, however, had more than nutritional supplements and protein bars to sustain me while I read. (I believe that even in heaven, I might be able to sip an aperitif and nibble dark chocolate whist I invest myself in a book.)

But back to the book. A group of teens, who have each broken the rules of Home, are sent to a futuristic sort of juvenile detention/rehab center on a nearby moon. Only, the autopilot directed ship deviates from course and crash-lands on a planet nearby that is uninhabited. Or is it?

The group, both diverse and somewhat dysfunctional, with each member declared deviant for unsocial behaviors, must learn to interact, as well as survive. And soon enough, they learn there is danger beyond the frigid planet for them, both outside the ship and inside as well.

Science fiction and thriller, this book gripped me. I only stopped to sleep, and in the morning to find a way to make coffee without electricity. (Luckily, I'm a little handier, and a bit more knowledgeable and prepared than Sola and her shipmates, so that went well.) Don't be fooled by a YA label. This book was a good read. As usual, AJ Hartley does not disappoint.

From the Publisher:
From the New York Times bestselling author of Steeplejack and co-author of Sekret Machines: Chasing Shadows with Blink-182’s Tom DeLonge, comes a "smart, gripping and atmospheric" science fiction thriller—the Cathedrals of Glass saga…

“Deviance is unattractive and jeopardizes all we hold dear…”

Ten teenagers broke behavioral law. Sentenced to be reeducated on the moon of Jerem, they were placed in stasis on the automated ship Phetteron for their six day journey. They never reached their destination.

“Home looks after its own…”

Thrown off course by a computer malfunction, the Phetteron is damaged in an asteroid belt and crash lands on the uninhabited ice planet of Valkrys. Having spent their lives in temperature controlled environments, consuming nutrient supplements, and interacting with people mostly through the infonet, the teens are unprepared to depend on each other to face the harsh, hostile, and hellish landscape. Home will send a rescue party long before their meager supplies run out.

“No contrary positions are viable…”

Sola was a roamer. She wandered the city after curfew, reveling in the freedom of being disconnected from the techgrid and embracing the joy of physical activity. For those actions, Home declared her deviant. But on Valkrys, her deviance is an asset that may be the teens’ only hope for survival.

As Sola explores their strange new world, she discovers that she and her shipmates are linked by something more frightening than their subversive behaviors—and uncovers a truth about the planet the authorities at Home wanted buried.

Valkrys is not uninhabited. And what lives there is predatory…
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The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

I knew I'd want something entertaining and slightly mind-distracting to read during Hurricane Irma, and grabbed this off the shelf, mostly for the high ratings and promise of an different sort of love story.(When I first picked up the book looked like Irma was going to make landfall here. It didn't, but we got quite the tropical storm, with some absolutely stellar flooding, thanks to the trifecta of the storm's winds/rain, storm surge, and high tide.) The book both fulfilled and failed my needs. It was interesting, but in no way mindless, opening a dialogue as to what is appropriate in today's world for ages in relationships. For millennium, it's been okay for ancient men to marry near infants, but even in 2017, there is a negative stigma attached to older women dating younger men. (Momentary applause and hat tip to Brigitte Macron, and her husband, Emmanuel. )

So, here's a story where a 39 year old mother takes her 12 year old daughter to see a boy band, and said mother ends up in a steamy relationship with the lead singer. Steaminess aside (and there is some steam in there, lots of fingers, mouths, and other boy and girl bits) Robinne Lee does tackle some of the issues of divergent age in a relationship. It helps that the guy is both mature intellectually and emotionally, and that the gal has not been sitting on the couch eating chips and slugging back beer, but even so, the problems and concerns the characters have are realistic-- one that even chic, beautiful gallery owners and stunningly handsome boy band musicians might have. Add in the public factor of his chosen career, and the emotional maturity of boy band followers, and the thick plottens, so to speak.  It's unconventional, all the way through, even the end.

Not a bad read for a stormy day, when your building is completely surrounded by water, the power is out, and the winds are howling.

From the publisher:
When Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of a prestigious art gallery in Los Angeles, takes her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band, she does so reluctantly and at her ex-husband’s request. The last thing she expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things.

What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s disparate worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways. And for Solène, it is as much a reclaiming of self, as it is a rediscovery of happiness and love. When their romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her new status has impacted not only her life, but the lives of those closest to her.

Friday, September 8, 2017

How to Behave in a Crowd by Camille Bordas

Quite the quirky book, about a quirky boy, who is the odd duck in a quirky intellectual family. I think that part of the reason I didn't engage fully in the book is that I kept forgetting the narrator (eleven year old Isidore, called Dory by his family, when he really longs to be called Izzie) was a boy. Things would happen, and I'd assume the teller was female, and then be brought back suddenly.  It has its moments of humor, mostly brought about by the frailty of human nature, and explored some bleak experiences with a candid hand.  All in all, I liked the book, but just can't join in on the "I loved it" bandwagon.

Many thanks to the publisher and Blogging for books for sending me this copy.


Isidore Mazal is eleven years old, the youngest of six siblings living in a small French town. He doesn't quite fit in. Berenice, Aurore, and Leonard are on track to have doctorates by age twenty-four. Jeremie performs with a symphony, and Simone, older than Isidore by eighteen months, expects a great career as a novelist--she's already put Isidore to work on her biography. The only time they leave their rooms is to gather on the old, stained couch and dissect prime-time television dramas in light of Aristotle's Poetics.

Isidore has never skipped a grade or written a dissertation. But he notices things the others don't, and asks questions they fear to ask. So when tragedy strikes the Mazal family, Isidore is the only one to recognize how everyone is struggling with their grief, and perhaps the only one who can help them if he doesn't run away from home first.

Isidore's unstinting empathy, combined with his simmering anger, makes for a complex character study, in which the elegiac and comedic build toward a heartbreaking conclusion. With How to Behave in a Crowd, Camille Bordas immerses readers in the interior life of a boy puzzled by adulthood and beginning to realize that the adults around him are just as lost.


Monday, August 28, 2017

Miles Morales by Jason Reynolds

There's obviously a bit of Marvel canon I have missed, but luckily I found this book about a black/Puerto Rican Spiderman, Brooklyn, bad guys, good guys, friends, family, and poetry. And that's a pretty good combo to find.

Many thanks to Kirkus for the review that made me go out and find this book.


From the publisher: "Everyone gets mad at hustlers, especially if you're on the victim side of the hustle. And Miles knew hustling was in his veins."

Miles Morales is just your average teenager. Dinner every Sunday with his parents, chilling out playing old-school video games with his best friend, Ganke, crushing on brainy, beautiful poet Alicia. He's even got a scholarship spot at the prestigious Brooklyn Visions Academy. Oh yeah, and he's Spider Man.

But lately, Miles's spidey-sense has been on the fritz. When a misunderstanding leads to his suspension from school, Miles begins to question his abilities. After all, his dad and uncle were Brooklyn jack-boys with criminal records. Maybe kids like Miles aren't meant to be superheroes. Maybe Miles should take his dad's advice and focus on saving himself.

As Miles tries to get his school life back on track, he can't shake the vivid nightmares that continue to haunt him. Nor can he avoid the relentless buzz of his spidey-sense every day in history class, amidst his teacher's lectures on the historical "benefits" of slavery and the importance of the modern-day prison system. But after his scholarship is threatened, Miles uncovers a chilling plot, one that puts his friends, his neighborhood, and himself at risk.

It's time for Miles to suit up

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas

An advanced reader copy of this came my way about a month after the book came out. I put aside two other books to read it, since this had come courtesy of Library Thing's Early Reader program and it was a new release.

I know there are reviews out there from people who loved it-- that's a bit of a stretch for me, to say love, or to go beyond the 3/5 stars rating I gave it. Some points intending to create tension seemed beleaguered to me as some of the twists and turns seemed telegraphed. But still, it was better than some I've read and a worthy effort for a first novel. (Would someone tell me why there are so many books with 'girl" in the title? Almost as many as the something-or-other's wife or daughter.)

tags:

2017-read, advanced-reader-copy, early-review-librarything, everyone-else-liked-it, first-novel-or-book, ok-but-not-great, read, suspense-thriller-mystery

From the  Publisher:
Someone knows where she is…

The old Victorian pier was a thing of beauty until it was allowed to decay. It was where the youth of Oldcliffe-on-Sea would go to hang out. It’s also where twenty-one-year-old Sophie Collier disappeared eighteen years ago.

Francesca Howe, known as Frankie, was Sophie’s best friend, and even now she is haunted by the mystery of what happened to her. When Frankie gets a call from Sophie’s brother, Daniel, informing her that human remains have been found washed up nearby, she immediately wonders if it could be Sophie, and returns to her old hometown to try and find closure. Now an editor at a local newspaper, Daniel believes that Sophie was terrified of someone and that her death was the result of foul play rather than “death by misadventure,” as the police claim.

Daniel arranges a holiday rental for Frankie that overlooks the pier where Sophie disappeared. In the middle of winter and out of season, Frankie feels isolated and unnerved, especially when she is out on the pier late one night and catches a glimpse of a woman who looks like Sophie. Is the pier really haunted, as they joked all those years ago? Could she really be seeing her friend’s ghost? And what actually happened to her best friend all those years ago?

Harrowing, electrifying, and thoroughly compelling, Local Girl Missing showcases once again bestselling author Claire Douglas’ extraordinary storytelling talent.