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JamesG

Tesseract Thoughts

I was introduced to books in 5th Grade when our teacher read us A Wrinkle In Time. Never really looked back.

Currently reading

Embassytown
China MiƩville
Progress: 189/345 pages
Bossypants
Tina Fey
The Split Second (The Seems Series #2)
Michael Wexler, John Hulme
A Tree Full of Angels: Seeing the Holy in the Ordinary
Macrina Wiederkehr
Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work
Michael Michalko
The Android's Dream
John Scalzi
Waking Up Screaming: Haunting Tales of Terror
H.P. Lovecraft, Denise L. Fitzer
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
Mary Roach
Naked
David Sedaris
Lud-in-the-Mist
Hope Mirrlees

Embassytown Expectations

Finally picked up a copy of Embassytown and started reading on some recent flights. I so thoroughly enjoyed Kraken, it is going to be hard to top, but Mr. Mieville has a way of getting under your skin: You start his  books not knowing what to expect, and slowly you get into the flow, and by halfway through the odd creatures, exotic terminology and story line all blend together. and you find yourself hooked.

 

Now I am just enjoying the ride.

 

Solomon's Porch

Solomon's Porch - Wid Bastian The cover declares this to be a "Christian suspense" novel. I suppose that describes a portion of the story, but the suspense was not very intense, and unfortunately it never resolved! If this was book one of a trilogy, I could at least accept the leave-you-hanging ending, but I have seen no such claim.

The story is of a white-collar embezzler who was caught, and while serving time receives a vision from the Archangel Gabriel. This starts a personal ministry, and brings together a collection of "apostles" that begin to change the lives of many, and culminates in a world-wide demonstration of God's power.

There are some interesting theological conversations, and lots of feel-good moments, but the novel ends just as Satan is starting to build his resistance forces.

The writing is good, although there are some very abrupt scene changes in the middle of chapters. The characters are varied, and mostly interesting, but I find it hard to recommend this book since we don't find the ends to so many story lines.



Don't Wait For Me

Don't Wait For Me - Dan Kolbet I am not sure what inspired me to start reading this novel of love and loss set in Spokane, Washington, but I am glad I spent some time with it.

Mr. Kolbet has a nice writing style, and this story is really a character study of one man, Edwin Klein. We follow his current struggles, and learn of his past losses, while cheering him on. The introduction of an evil developer adds some interesting suspense, and the story just continue to roll faster.

This is not a simple romance, nor a predictable inspirational tale, but something beyond that: The story takes unexpected twists and turns, and finally winds up in a place quite different than I expected. I sort of like that in a novel.



Gun, With Occasional Music - Jonathan Lethem What a fantastic book. I really picked it up on little more than the title, and the reputation of Mr. Lethem, although I have not read any of his other titles. A long flight from Philadelphia to San Jose, CA gave me a good chance to dive in and I was disappointed that I had to put it down to get off the plane!

The underlying plot is a rather typical hard-luck private eye story, but the environment is so unusual that the whole tale feels new and unique. The environment includes odd designer drugs like Forgettol, animals that have evolved to sentience, cryogenics, and the use of karma to determine when you no longer have any use to society.

I really liked the main character Conrad Metcalf and enjoyed watching him work on the edge of the law, trying to keep himself out of trouble, while identifying and battling the bad guys.

Great fun and highly recommended.
The Twelfth Child - Bette Lee Crosby I like the books written by Ms. Crosby -- I know that I am going to enjoy the ride no matter what the subject matter or plot. The characters, stories, and dialogue draw you into another world, and won't let you go until the final page has turned. Otherwise, there was little to draw me to this story of an Appalachian girl growing up alone after running away from home to avoid an inevitable marriage.

I always find wonderful quotes in Ms. Crosby's books, and this one was no exception. The odd thing was that when I went back and looked, my two favorite were on the same page!

"If there's such a thing as poking a wish through the gates of Heaven and having it land on person, I could swear it happened at that precise moment."

This one immediately draws to mind some people I have known in my life, and I will now always think of them as cotton candy!

"She was like spun cotton candy, you couldn't help but love the sweetness of her, but she wasn't the least bit practical."

I removed one star mostly because of a legal/courtroom plot line that bogged down the story for me. It was used as a means to bring some characters together, and to allow the antagonist some influence, but I would have been just as happy without it.

I look forward to reading many more novels by Ms. Crosby, and I think I have one more older novel to read while waiting for her next!



Strangeville (The Complete Trilogy)

Strangeville (The Complete Trilogy) - Kenneth Tingle Complete Trilogy? This was a quick read, and if the first part was the first book in the trilogy, I may never have read the second two.

The story starts out interesting, but then slogs along for a while. Eventually the characters and town begin to develop, and then it becomes a nice, slightly off-kilter, "Back to the Future"-style fantasy-romance story (there is even a Biff -- although not in the same role!)

Mr. Tingle keeps the details light, the characters flat, and if you think too hard the whole concept falters. However, I found it a fun read with just a slight touch of humor and strangeness.

Hard to recommend, but by the end I was a little sorry to see it go. And unlike some of the other reviewers, I was content with the ending.


The Lust Lizard Of Melancholy Cove - Christopher Moore Nothing like a Christopher Moore break when the reading is getting a little thick.

You basic ancient sea creature terrorizing a town and being swept off his (her?) feet by Kendra: Warrior Babe of the Outland.

There's sex, drugs (both medicinal and recreational), blues, art, biology, murder and death; just about everything you could want in a nice comical romp.

My favorite part of Mr. Moore's books is that he follows the rules of a Greek comedy, meaning that the protagonist tends to be an every-man, and yet wins in the end. There is something soothing and appealing in that to me.

I have read a lot of Mr. Moore's books, and I would rate this one in the top 10. Have fun!
The Glimpse - Grant Carroll A Christian sci-fi book? I wasn't sure what to expect, but with all the free Kindle books Amazon offers I have been reading a wider variety of titles than normal.

So the story is pretty simple -- two twenty-ish Christian couples who are struggling with thinking they are having an impact on the lives of the children they teach and tutor and whisked to an alternate universe where Christianity is outlawed. Small groups of school students are holding prayer sessions with scraps of bibles and bits of music. Our couples come on the scene like wise spiritual leaders and help build a revival.

All of that is pretty formulaic, but the spread of the news of the revivals is pretty interesting, and there is a significant antagonist who is anything but typical: He provides a real threat to both the students, and the young couples.

Around 3/4 of the way through the book, as the tensions started mounting, and the enemy started putting together a formidable battle plan I had the horrible feeling that I missed the fact that this was the first book in some future-battle trilogy. My second thought was that there was going to be some heavenly intervention to save the day.

To Mr. Carroll's credit neither of these was true, and yet the ending was powerful, surprising, believable and really solidified the book as a very good read.

I am sure the heavy Christian themes will turn off many, but it was a well-written book, and the interaction between the young couples was touching and realistic.



Creating the Perfect Lifestyle

Creating the Perfect Lifestyle - Oli Hille Real-world practical advice from someone who has done as he claims. At times it came across as a little preachy, but overall I found a wide variety of new perspectives on life-balance, goals, and making the lifestyle of your choice. Wish i had read this 30 years ago!
Cupid's Christmas - Bette Lee Crosby Here is a short, sweet story of life and love.

Ms. Crosby has such a beautiful way of taking the lives of normal people and turning them into fascinating adventurers. Part of the joy of reading her books is recognizing yourself in the characters.

In this case, Cupid comes along as the narrator, and works hard to straighten out the relationships between a few interrelated characters. As in her other books, the real magic is in the writing. Here is Cupid discussing love:

"...that's the beauty of what I do. I make love unexplainable. Humans fall in love with someone and claim it's because of a special smile, or the crinkle around their lover's eyes, but the truth is they're clueless about the magic that brings such thoughts."

I find myself highlighting more passages in her books than in nearly anything else I read. Often it is just a nice phrasing of simple idea, such as this:

"But you know the funny thing about life is sometimes when you're looking to move away, The God Lord plunks you down in just the right place at the right time."

I also thoroughly enjoyed the antagonism between Cupid and Life Management, which is the "organization" responsible for the bad events in your life. As someone who has experienced the interference of this organization, I found myself cheering on Cupid as he engaged in battle.

If you haven't had the pleasure of reading one of Ms. Crosby's books, there is still time to enjoy this short novel before Christmas is over.

21 Stories of Gratitude: The Power of Living Life With a Grateful Heart

21 Stories of Gratitude: The Power of Living Life With a Grateful Heart - Shelley Hitz A nice collection of stories of gratitude. Nothing earth-shattering, but a nice way to end the day on a positive note.

Wool (Wool, #1)

Wool - Hugh Howey I have a hang-up about short stories. I just don't like how little time we have to get into a character or a story. Books of short stories always seem intriguing, but after the second or third story I shift to something long-form. However, the idea of Kindle "books" that are essentially short stories turns the concept into a new format.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, albeit a short one. Mr. Howey gives us an interesting future, with a full society and a few key characters that are well-formed and worth following. Not bad for a short story.
Dont Let Me Go - Catherine Ryan Hyde What an amazing story. A run-down apartment building of tenants that do not know each other, or ever talk that are brought together by the very loud and precocious 9-year old Grace who needs help.

For such a fun book, it may be surprising that this is a story that flirts with racism, addiction, homosexuality, growing old, and isolation. Filled with interesting characters and sparkling dialogue, this is hard to classify other than a great read.

Willard and His Bowling Trophies - Richard Brautigan Ah, Mr. Brautigan. It has been many years since I have read his work, and I happened to come across this novel in a used book store in town. A story of love, revenge and genital warts as only Mr. Brautigan could tell it.

The story makes no sense, the plot is non-existent, and yet as the short novel comes to a close you cannot help longing for more pages.

Not the best of his work, but love it or hate it, there is no one else that writes like him.
Coraline - Neil Gaiman A young girl is disgusted with her parents, and bored with her life: Neil Gaiman ensues...



The Girls From Alcyone

The Girls From Alcyone - Cary Caffrey I really had no idea what to expect with this book. The story started a little weakly, but the idea of a school of young indentured girls being trained as specialized soldiers was interesting enough to keep me reading through the first few chapters. Thank goodness for that, because the story begins to pick up speed quickly, and the genetic experiments begin, along with weapons training, and attacks on the academy.

Mr. Caffrey pushes the all-girl school topics a little harder than necessary, if you get my drift, yet that all fall secondary to some good old fashioned space kick-ass. There is some interesting mega-corporation versus inter-stellar government politics, and the cast of characters starts expanding as the girls leave the academy.

I am not sure I'll stick around for all the sequels, but this was a nice, fast-paced, space action story that just happened to include a cast of tall, strong, fearless, female soldiers.

A fun read for sure.