Tachyon Publications has released the first printing of She Walks in Darkness, a previously unpublished work by Evangeline Walton! I have yet to read...moreTachyon Publications has released the first printing of She Walks in Darkness, a previously unpublished work by Evangeline Walton! I have yet to read her Mabinogion Tetralogy, but this came recommended by Tim Powers and Patricia A. McKillip (two more fine authors who have recently published with Tachyon), so I was thrilled to receive and read it! I didn't know what to expect from Walton's writing, but I was anticipating a supernatural story based on those recommendations. Things seems to be heading in that direction as young newlywed Barbara Keyes considers the statue of Mania, the Etruscan goddess of the dead, in the courtyard of the Tuscan villa where she is honeymooning with her archaeologist husband. Barbara happens upon the dead body of the estate's old caretaker, which then vanishes just as mysteriously as he was killed. Barbara must descend into the dark catacombs beneath the villa, and the story takes as many twists and turns as she does in discovering the truth of the sordid crime!(less)
This an example of a second book in a series that is more exciting than the first. I deliberately waited until I read Siege and Storm so I could revie...moreThis an example of a second book in a series that is more exciting than the first. I deliberately waited until I read Siege and Storm so I could review the two books together. I anticipate doing the same with the third books - Ruin and Rising (Grisha #3) and Ruins (Partials Sequence #3) - when they come out next year.
After learning that she is neither human (as she was brought up) nor a standard Partial (the enemies she was brought up to fear), Kira sets out on a voyage of discovery. She hopes to discover the truth about her own nature and hopefully unlock the secret to the survival of both races. Leaving behind Marcus, her human companion who wouldn't understand, she goes off with Samm, her Partial counterpart with whom she cannot link. She is trying to embrace both sides, to bring them together and save both sides, but she is rejected by both sides. Kira is not mistaken for a saint or fanatically followed like Alina. She does get to travel cross-country, but in the place of the Shadow Fold there is the Desolation of the Midwest caused by the destruction of the oil fields of Texas. Flying monsters are replaced by acid rains. No edible forage remains for their horses, no bridges remain for crossing overflowing rivers. Kira and her traveling companions don't have a fantastic flying contraption like Alina uses to traverse the wasteland, so they have to find their own innovative ways to cross. Where Ravka is thinly veiled, this post-apocalyptic America is nuanced and believable. First they travel to flooded Chicago, then on to ravaged Denver. It is a long journey on horseback, but the pace doesn't slow down. Surviving the trip is challenging enough - one of the foursome doesn't see the end destination - and finding the information they seek hits snag after snag. In pursuit of Kira and her peculiar genetic profile is the nefarious Dr. Morgan, from whom Samm helped her escape in book one. Wells broadens the scope and deepens the plot in book two, making it more compelling as the story progresses. I read Partials in May and Fragments in June, but even with waiting until September to write this review it still seems like a long wait for the conclusion of the series in March!(less)
I received this from First Reads, but I had to read the first book, A Blaze of Glory, before I could read this one. That meant I read it in July rathe...moreI received this from First Reads, but I had to read the first book, A Blaze of Glory, before I could read this one. That meant I read it in July rather than May, but, as July 4th marked the 150th anniversary of the events described herein, the timing was salient. This series on the Western Theater is wonderful for the moderate Civil War buff, and I’ve learned plenty about the Battle of Shiloh and the Siege of Vicksburg. I found the second book carried the greater impact, particularly as Shaara made a civilian one of the point of view characters. Going behind the fortifications to show the deprivations inflicted on the people and the horrors of the field hospitals really brings the suffering home, even if young Lucy Spence never returned to her battle-damaged domicile.(less)
Utah's football season opens tonight against Utah State! In preparation I read this along with a couple of other books. I have another blog where I tr...moreUtah's football season opens tonight against Utah State! In preparation I read this along with a couple of other books. I have another blog where I track the Utes who have gone on to play professionally, and Weddle is definitely one of my favorites. He isn't going to grace the pages of ESPN the Magazine's Body Issue, but he is the epitome of a professional athlete in my eyes. His determination to make pivotal plays is unmatched, and he deserves to be one of the highest-paid players at his position. If only Toone was as dedicated to being the best at his profession as his subject, this would be a truly great read. This biography discusses his accomplishments to date, but it also examines his high character, family life, and conversion to the LDS Church. I was already a Weddle fan, and now I'm determined to get The Man's Chargers jersey (even if he did admit to reading the Twilight series!).(less)
I'm always glad when summer turns to fall, but I haven't finished reviewing summer books yet! So if you didn't get enough summer sun, I give you the S...moreI'm always glad when summer turns to fall, but I haven't finished reviewing summer books yet! So if you didn't get enough summer sun, I give you the Sun Summoner, Alina Starkov! She doesn't just walk in darkness she dispels it, allowing safe passage through the deadly Fold that divides Ravka. When last we saw Alina, she was escaping the Darkling who had enthralled her power to increase his own. She abandoned him in the Fold, leaving him to perish in the everlasting darkness he created. Alina rescued her friend Mal, and together they sailed to a distant land to lead ordinary lives. That would be nice for them, but it would make a rotten second book in the series. Fortunately the Darkling tracks them down - he survived, and gained terrible new powers in the process! Even so he still requires Alina's ability, and they go off in search of another amplifier to increase its potency. All the conflicting plans come to fruition with minimal resistance. A new character is introduced, and he spirits Alina and Mal away from the Darkling. What follows is a tour of the other districts countryside that reminded me too much of the second book in another young adult series. There is another overwhelming confrontation with the Darkling and his hordes, but Alina and her ragtag band of freedom fighters manage to slip through the siege. They take refuge in an underground bunker, and the Mockingjay Sun Summoner becomes a symbol of the uprising to come in the last book in the trilogy. I didn't care for the third book in that other popular series, so I wouldn't continue reading this series if not for a singular surprise in the ending. I prefer Bardugo's short fables set in the same world, such as "The Too-Clever Fox," to the tired trilogy approach.(less)
I'm no fan of the Dallas Cowboys, Destiny's Child, or the war in Iraq necessarily, but I am a fan of writers who can meld difficult subject matter int...moreI'm no fan of the Dallas Cowboys, Destiny's Child, or the war in Iraq necessarily, but I am a fan of writers who can meld difficult subject matter into an entertaining book, so that makes me a Fountain fan! He deserved to be a National Book Award Finalist for what he did with Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. It may not be the definitive literary work of the Iraq war, but I have already recommended it to my buddy in the Navy. I await his verdict as to the authenticity of Billy Lynn's experiences on both fronts, battle and home, but I thought the book was terrific. And, as someone who recently suffered a migraine, I can attest to the horror of that halftime show!(less)
A prescient portrayal of a princess going through a rebellious phase! My personal favorite is the sequence where Leia is mortified to be dropped off a...moreA prescient portrayal of a princess going through a rebellious phase! My personal favorite is the sequence where Leia is mortified to be dropped off at school in her dad's AT-AT. Vader's harsh treatment of Han Solo is more meaningful when he's attempting to keep the scoundrel away from his little princess!(less)
What I found the most disturbing about this even-keeled biography was just how much my former director's reactionary management style echoed Brigham Y...moreWhat I found the most disturbing about this even-keeled biography was just how much my former director's reactionary management style echoed Brigham Young's. It was interesting to read about Albert Sidney Johnston's involvement after recently reading A Blaze of Glory. I hiked through Orderville Canyon in June, which made the collapse of that settlement more present for me. Overall I found Turner's approach fair and well documented, although he could have gone farther along the development of the transcontinental railroad. (less)
This came out in 2011 so it isn’t entirely up-to-date, but I’m familiar enough with recent developments; it’s the history of the program on which I ne...moreThis came out in 2011 so it isn’t entirely up-to-date, but I’m familiar enough with recent developments; it’s the history of the program on which I needed to brush up. I was working concessions in the stadium for #17 Yergy’s Drive from 55 in the 1993 Holy War, and I was delivering pizza while listening to #23 Lusk’s Dash in the Dusk. But I wasn’t around for #31 The Lost Championship of 1969, or Fred Gehrke painting the first horns on the helmets of the Cleveland Rams. These are some of the 100 things I needed to know.(less)
This was a change of pace for me. I hadn't read her other books centered around life in Mattagash, but I had visited a small town up north when I was...moreThis was a change of pace for me. I hadn't read her other books centered around life in Mattagash, but I had visited a small town up north when I was in Maine. This particular tale of two men coming to loggerheads on a one-way bridge isn't peculiar; it hums softly with authenticity.(less)
A customer recently contacted our store to formally request that we not carry the August issue of Rolling Stone due to the controversial image on its...moreA customer recently contacted our store to formally request that we not carry the August issue of Rolling Stone due to the controversial image on its cover. I appreciate her concerns, and agree that it’s poor taste for the magazine to portray the young man accused of planting bombs at the Boston Marathon as though he were a celebrity. Personally I object to the portrayal, but, as a university store, we have decided not to join the boycott of the issue. We want to add to the discussion, not take away from it. The issue will be available on request, but not displayed. In its place I will be promoting A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra.
It is a devastating story, told with immaculate care by a decorated debut author. Marra didn’t take an easy route for his first novel, although I wouldn’t term it overly ambitious. To crib from the title, it is a vital story, one that required refined skill to write and needed to be published (and I commend Hogarth for doing so). It is a necessary read for anyone trying to understand the violent forces that shape the people of Chechnya. There is nothing glamorous in the portrayal of violence for the sake of any cause, not even in the amputation of a leg mutilated by a mine, as in the attacks in Boston.
Only eight-year-old Havaa isn’t compromised in this constant struggle to survive, but she is without recourse when her father is taken by Russian forces. She hides in the woods as her house is burned to the ground. The Russians will leave no trace of her family, without exceptions. Her father’s friend Akhmed finds her first, and takes her from their remote village of Eldar to the city of Volchansk, where there is a shelled-out hospital. A single surgeon named Sonja still operates the hospital, but she too has been shelled out by ten years of fighting. Akhmed, the village’s unlicensed doctor, trades his rudimentary assistance for Havaa’s boarding in the hospital. Akhmed (a Chechnyan) and Sonja (a Russian) continue to function in their grim circumstances, and between them they manage to spare Havaa from a terrible fate.
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a tragic tale of friends, family, and neighbors who alternately wrong and ultimately redeem one another. It should resonate with anyone who experienced the ‘B Strong’ resolve that swept through Boston in the wake of the deplorable attack. I recommend keeping the focus on the survivors who carried one another to safety, which is why I strongly recommend this book.(less)