jeudi 23 octobre 2014

Here is Where by Andrew Carroll

Here Is Where chronicles Andrew Carroll’s eye-opening – and at times hilarious -- journey across America to find and explore unmarked historic sites where extraordinary moments occurred and remarkable individuals once lived. Sparking the idea for this book was Carroll’s visit to the spot where Abraham Lincoln’s son was saved by the brother of Lincoln’s assassin. Carroll wondered, How many other unmarked places are there where intriguing events have unfolded and that we walk past every day, not realizing their significance? To answer that question, Carroll ultimately trekked to every region of the country -- by car, train, plane, helicopter, bus, bike, and kayak and on foot. Among the things he learned:

*Where in North America the oldest sample of human DNA was discovered

* Where America’s deadliest maritime disaster took place, a calamity worse than the fate of the Titanic

*Which virtually unknown American scientist saved hundreds of millions of lives

*Which famous Prohibition agent was the brother of a notorious gangster

*How a 14-year-old farm boy’s brainstorm led to the creation of television

Featured prominently in Here Is Where are an abundance of firsts (from the first use of modern anesthesia to the first cremation to the first murder conviction based on forensic evidence); outrages (from riots to massacres to forced sterilizations); and breakthroughs (from the invention, inside a prison, of a revolutionary weapon; to the recovery, deep in the Alaskan tundra, of a super-virus; to the building of the rocket that made possible space travel). Here Is Where is thoroughly entertaining, but it’s also a profound reminder that the places we pass by often harbor amazing secrets and that there are countless other astonishing stories still out there, waiting to be found.

Combining a travelogue with a series of lost historical stories, Here is Where takes the readers on a road-trip across America, ignoring the more famous landmarks in favour of the forgotten places, many of them ignored even by people who live a few steps away. From milestones in science to first legal victories, from horrific massacres to the building of rockets, Andrew Carroll’s fascinating journey reminds that there are hidden stories just waiting to be found, many of them in our own back yards. 

Here is Where does a great job of exploring lost, forgotten and ignored stories from American history, spanning centuries and moving from one coast to the other. Along the way, Carroll’s funny, depreciating and well-informed voice provides a great companion, spending just enough time on his own (mis)adventures before sharing some true jewels of lost history. The book is split into sections, from legal decisions to scientific breakthroughs, so you are likely to find something that will interest you. Although I skipped around in the medical section, the rest of it was intriguing enough to keep my attention and the pages flipping. I’m a Jehovah’s Witness, so I was especially thrilled to see him exploring a milestone decision from the Supreme Court in the first half of the 20th century regarding a couple of Witness children expelled from their school for refusing to salute the flag. All of the stories are interesting, many of them deserve to be remembered more than they are. Carroll has done a great job bringing them to people’s attention.

I gave Here is Where 4 stars.

mercredi 22 octobre 2014

Delancey by Molly Wizenberg

In this funny, frank, tender memoir and New York Times bestseller, the author of A Homemade Life and the blog Orangette recounts how opening a restaurant sparked the first crisis of her young marriage.

When Molly Wizenberg married Brandon Pettit, he was a trained composer with a handful of offbeat interests: espresso machines, wooden boats, violin-building, and ice cream-making. So when Brandon decided to open a pizza restaurant, Molly was supportive not because she wanted him to do it, but because the idea was so far-fetched that she didn't think he would. Before she knew it, he'd signed a lease on a space. The restaurant, Delancey, was going to be a reality, and all of Molly's assumptions about her marriage were about to change.

Together they built Delancey: gutting and renovating the space on a cobbled-together budget, developing a menu, hiring staff, and passing inspections. Delancey became a success, and Molly tried to convince herself that she was happy in their new life until in the heat and pressure of the restaurant kitchen she realized that she hadn't been honest with herself or Brandon.

With evocative photos by Molly and twenty new recipes for the kind of simple, delicious food that chefs eat at home, Delancey is a moving and honest account of two young people learning to give in and let go in order to grow together.

Full of ups and downs, stress and excitement – and packed with amazing recipes – Delancey is the story of a marriage pushed to the breaking point by a shared dream: the desire to open a pizzeria in the midst of an economic downturn. Chronicling the amazing pressures caused by such an enterprise, Delancey is both a brutally honest look at a relationship and a loving exploration of the power of food. 

Delancey is part memoir, part recipe book, exploring the relationship between a man and a woman, the stresses inherent in beginning a new adventure and how difficult it can be to let go and learn to go with the flow. After exploring what brought her husband and her together, Molly Wizenberg gives us a glimpse into the tough world of opening a new restaurant, as well as the joys that arise along the way. Sharing some of the recipes they used in their restaurant or that they cooked in the crazy days of building pizza ovens and painting walls, she manages to perfectly convey all of the madness that goes in to such an undertaking while leaving the readers salivating at the thought of setting foot in the restaurant they built. Wizenberg is an excellent writer in her own right and the memoir moves along at a novel-like clip. Recommended for all lovers of mad adventures and good food! 

I gave Delancey 4 stars.

mardi 21 octobre 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top New Series I Want To Start

This week's theme: Top New Series I Want To Start (New... let's say within the last year or two).

Top New Series I Want To Start

Mick Oberon by Ari Marmell
A new urban fantasy which has had a lot of positive buzz, set in 1930s Chicago with jazz, fae and a true hard-boiled detective.

Millenium’s Rule by Trudi Canavan
I have been a fan of Canavan since the Black Magician trilogy, but haven’t really kept up with her output recently. Thief’s Magic, first book in the Millenium’s Rule trilogy, seemed like a good jumping back-in point.

Deadly Curiosities by Gail Z Martin
This urban fantasy series spans multiple decades and involves a curio shop tasked with acquiring and neutralizing dangerous supernatural items. What’s not to like?!

Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone

An older series on the list, one that has a huge amount of positive reviews, and a nice legal twist on the epic fantasy genre. I’m hoping to start on the first book in a few weeks.

Kick Lannigan by Chelsea Cain

A thriller series about a former abductee working to help other abductees while struggling with PTSD from her own abduction, this looks like an interesting twist on the mystery/thriller genre.

The Paper Magician Trilogy by Charlie N Holmberg

I came across this one through Netgalley and it sounds like it could be just what I’ve been looking for to scratch that Harry Potter itch... plus paper, glass and metal magic!

The Borden Dispatches by Cherie Priest

Another author who I’ve heard a lot about but never got around to reading. The Borden Dispatches (the first novel is Maplecroft) sounds like a good place to start, what with its historical take on demon hunting, surrounding a woman who killed her own parents with an axe because they were possessed...

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

One of the most highly rated fantasy debuts of the year, City of Stairs is the beginning of a series by an author more well known for supernatural thrillers than epic fantasy. Looking forward to getting my teeth into this one!

Endgame by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton

I’m wary of this one due to the amount of hype building up around it by the publisher. Still it sounds like it could be a fun YA sci-fi novel in the mold of Hunger Games, so we’ll see...

Chronicle of the Fallers by Peter F Hamilton

A bit of a cheat this one, since Chronicle of the Fallers is actually a follow up to Hamilton’s Commonwealth sequence, but it is a duology in and of its own, so I’m allowing myself the exception. Plus I am REALLY looking forward to this!

lundi 20 octobre 2014

Update October 2014

Well, Real Life strikes again! 

I've been AWOL for a few weeks now, mainly due to more medical stuff relating to my son and organising things for him for next year when we hope he will be going back to school. My blogging time has been extremely curtailed, though I have been reading. I'm hoping to get back in the posting swing of things over the next few weeks. 

How are all of you? Good I hope! Have you read anything interesting?

jeudi 25 septembre 2014

Doctor Who: The Crawling Terror by Mike Tucker


Disclaimer: An electronic copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

When a village finds itself overrun by giant insects and cut off from the outside world by a giant spider's web, the Doctor and Clara investigate. As the attacks grow more deadly and an army of zombie village people begin to stalk the survivors, the Doctor realises that no one may be safe. The only hope is to decode the symbols engraved on an ancient stone circle, symbols that are somehow linked to a mystery dating back to the Second World War... 

I have not read very many Doctor Who novels, beyond a couple when I was a kid that I picked up in a second hand book shop. Nevertheless, I am a huge Doctor Who fan and love the new shows, so I was extremely excited when the new Doctor was announced. After reading the War Doctor novel last month, I decided to give the new BBC novels based on Capaldi's doctor a try. Of those The Crawling Terror was the first I received via Netgalley and so I gave it a shot. 

The Crawling Terror turned out to be much better than I had expected. Tucker gets Capaldi's voice down perfectly, which is astonishing considering that when he wrote them the series had not even started yet. The same with Clara and the dialogue between the two reads perfectly following the first few episodes. Beyond that, The Crawling Terror turns a cracking story, involving alien invaders, Nazi experiments and ley-lines, as well as the eponymous giant bugs! I was quite surprised at what a visceral reaction I had - I mean nobody likes giant insects but the descriptions here were much more scary than expected. Once we get into the nitty gritty of the plot, the story becomes a standard Doctor Who adventure - lots of running, time travel shenanigans and an over the top enemy - but as a fan, that was fine with me. I really enjoyed The Crawling Terror and will definitely check out the others. 

I gave The Crawling Terror 3 stars.

mercredi 24 septembre 2014

Star Wars A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller


Disclaimer: This electronic copy was provided by the publisher in return for an honest review.

In the aftermath of the Clone Wars, the Republic has fallen, replaced by the Empire. The Jedi were betrayed and slaughtered, leaving only a handful of survivors to eke out a quiet existence on the fringes of galactic power. But as the Emperor tightens his grip, even those fringes have begun to fall under the iron rule of the Empire. Hidden amongst those who live in the outskirts are those whose lives were destroyed by Palpatine's plans, those who have begun to question his means and motives. On the far off world of Gorse, a handful of such people, including Kanan Jarrus, a former Jedi padawan and Hera Syndulla, an agent provocateur with plans of her own, will stand together against one of the Empire's most fearsome enforcers... with the fate of an entire world in the palm of their hands. 

Few people interested in pop culture will have failed to notice the intense discussion that broke out a few months ago when Disney announced that the Star Wars Expanded Universe - the vast collection of novels, short stories, comics and games that had so far formed the unofficial canon of the galaxy far far away - was being wiped clean, replaced by a brand new canon that would be just as official as the movies. Starting with the Clone Wars cartoon, this new canon would also include new novels, the first of which - A New Dawn - sets up the cartoon series Rebels. 

A New Dawn does a nice job of setting up the main characters of the series, while also telling an interesting, exciting, but slightly disappointing story involving mining, terrorism and the fight for freedom. Centered around two main characters - both of whom are featured on the cover - A New Dawn is no revolutionary new beginning for the Star Wars galaxy. While it does manage to keep your attention thanks to a race against time plot and a reluctant Jedi forced to embrace his powers once again, it is hard to hide the fact that this is designed to get the characters into their positions ready for Rebels to begin in October. The addition of a handful of secondary characters, including a very well realised villain, does add some spice to the story, but it is difficult to develop any real interest in Kanan and Hera. Hopefully the upcoming novels, one of which will centre on Grand Moff Tarkin, will do more to ignite this new expanded universe. 

I gave Star Wars: A New Dawn 3 stars

dimanche 21 septembre 2014

New on the Library Shelves 21 09 14

AKA Showcase Sunday

A new segment here, participating in the Showcase Sunday meme over at Books, Biscuits & Tea.

The most exciting release I purchased this week is definitely Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett - I have loved his Century trilogy so far and can't wait to see how he ties it all up in this last book, set in the latter part of the 20th century. If you haven't read the Century trilogy yet, and you like historical fiction, pick it up. Extremely addictive! Also worthy of special mention: The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord and The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter.

For review:
The Ghost Shift by John Gapper
The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord
The Wars of the Roses by Dan Jones
What You Left Behind by Samantha Hayes
In These Times by Jenny Uglow

The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter
Thirteen Days in September by Lawrence Wright

So, what's new on your shelves this week?