Monday, February 25, 2013

Precinct 13 by Tate Hallaway

Necromancers, Dragons, and Zombies, oh my!

      Alexandra Connor wins the job of Pierre, South Dakota's new coroner on a dare.  Three weeks into her new job, a corpse she's performing an autopsy on gets up off the table and walks out.  Now she's got a cursed snake tattoo on her arm and a missing corpse to find.  Luckily, she has the help of Precinct 13 -- a team of police detectives with a distinct flair for magic.  It seems that Alex is a witch...but one without a real understanding of just what her magical powers are or how to control them.  (Spontaneous Improbable Magic says it all.)  But Alex better hope she can figure it out and solve the case before more unnatural magic starts erupting all over town.
      I really enjoyed this book.  Not only was it fast-paced, but it made me laugh.  And there were a lot of likeable characters-Alex's significant other, Valentine, quickly became one of my favorites.  This was a fun read.  I hope Tate Hallaway writes another book about Alex and the members of Precinct 13.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Becoming Odyssa by Jennifer Pharr Davis

     After graduating from college, Jennifer Pharr Davis set out to hike the Appalachian Trail alone.  Becoming Odyssa recounts her 2,175 mile journey from Georgia to Maine.  "The trail was becoming the adventure I had envisioned.  I loved meeting new people, I loved learning new skills-despite my mistakes-and I loved the feeling of being self-sufficient.  After three days on the trail, I felt more independent than at any other time in my life.  I was completely responsible for my decisions and my own well-being.  I felt scared and empowered at the same time."
      Her journey along the trail is not without setbacks and complications:  she experiences blisters and sore feet, freezing rain and an unexpected blizzard, snakes, unwelcome hiking companions as well as new friends, and a grisly suicide along the trail.  She is even struck by lightning.  But through it all, she perseveres with humor, optimism, and faith.  "...the trail provided its own sort of therapy.  There was something about hiking, something about making forward progress that felt healing."
      I really enjoyed this book, maybe because I have always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail myself and I am drawn to reading about others who have managed to do what I have not.  Becoming Odyssa is a great book about an even greater journey--and it reads almost as fast as Davis hikes.

(If thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is more to your liking, check out Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed.  It's also a great read.)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Bookish Valentine

       With or without a significant other, Valentine's Day can still be a day of romance.  Just curl up with a good book and lose yourself in love.  Because romance isn't only about candy hearts, diamond rings, and flowers.  Sometimes true romance is a 12-mile sleigh ride in the freezing cold, or a stolen chicken.  So, here's a list of my 10 Favorite Stories of  Love and Romance:

  1. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
  2. Snow in April by Rosamunde Pilcher
  3. A Room With a View by E.M. Forster
  4. Precious Bane by Mary Webb
  5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  6. Beauty by Robin McKinley
  7. The Dark Queen by Susan Carroll
  8. Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart
  9. These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  10. A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
           (P.S. They're even better when read with a box of Sees Chocolates.)

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dead Scared by S. J. Bolton

DI Lacey Flint is back in S.J. Bolton's Dead Scared, and so is DI Mark Joesbury.  A series of unusual suicides at Cambridge University rouses suspicions and Lacey is sent undercover as a student to Cambridge to see if there's someone or something more sinister behind the suicides.  Joesbury's feelings for Lacey are as complicated as ever; it doesn't help that he's her handler on this case, or that there's more going on than he can tell her.  It isn't long before some very unusual things start to happen to Lacey; it's as if someone is trying to scare her to death.  Or scare her into taking her own life.  And this time Joesbury might not get there in time to save her.
     I loved Now You See Me, the novel that first introduced Lacey Flint and Mark Joesbury, and I was very happy to discover that Bolton had written another book about two of my favorite characters.  And once again, nothing in this book is as it seems.  Bolton is great at building tension.  I found myself racing through the last chapters of this book to the very end.  This is a book that is hard to put down!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Two Pages a Day... A Bookish Goal

     Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville is one of those books I think everyone in America should read at least once.  I know I've been meaning to read it for a long time.  (It's been gathering dust on my shelves for years.)  So I pulled it out a few weeks ago, dusted it off, and decided that this year is the year I'm going to read it.  It's 703 pages long, and I figured out that if I read just two pages a day I can finish it by the end of the year.
     So far, I'm on track.  Two pages a day isn't hard, after all, and I've even managed to read more than that on more than one occasion.  (Which is a good thing because last week I accidentally skipped several days in a row.)  
     Democracy in America:   83 pages down;  620 pages to go.

     "Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom; socialism restricts it.  Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere number.  Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word:  equality.  But notice the difference:  while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude."     --Alexis de Tocqueville