I remember things spatially. The first time I read this book was at my parochial school. It was in a bookcase against the wall across from the windowsI remember things spatially. The first time I read this book was at my parochial school. It was in a bookcase against the wall across from the windows on the left side of the school. It couldn't have been the 1st grade classroom, so it must have been 2nd grade or 5th or 6th. I think it might have been Miss Lemke's class.
Earlier last year I was reading "Bless me, Ultima," and it triggered some half-remembered bits about a young girl in a migrant family during the Depression who lived somewhere out west. And she found a beautiful library in a deserted house and would spend her days hidden away reading. I couldn't remember the author or the title, but I remembered the velvet curtains. It took some sleuthing, but I finally hunted down the book. My library didn't have it, but I was able to find a copy on Amazon.
Sometimes when you reread books from your childhood, you're let down because it's nothing like what you remembered and much of the magic is just gone. I'm happy to report this book was just as good as I remembered.
Robin is an 11 year old girl and her family has fallen on desperate times. They're driving to her father's next temporary job when their Model T car loaded with all their belongings breaks down in a small town. All they have is $12, and it's not enough to fix the car. Fortunately, her father finds a job at a local farm and the whole family is able to move into a shack for the farm-hands. Robin's a shy, quiet little girl who loves to read and is down-trodden from their years of quiet desperation. She frequently wanders off to escape from her troubles, and does just the same into the orange groves. While exploring, she comes across a beautiful old abandoned house with a smaller house behind it. She meets Bridget, the retired nursemaid who now lives in the smaller house. Then she meets Gwen, the daughter of the orchard's owner. Gwen used to live in the abandoned house until her parents decided to build something more modern and they boarded up the old one. Robin becomes friends with Bridget and spends many mornings talking to her about the history of the house and the people who used to live there long ago. One day Bridget gives Robin an old key to the house, and Robin is able to explore it and discovers a wonderful library in the turret with long velvet drapes and a comfortable window seat and so many books. Robin frequently escapes to the private paradise and is able to hide from her problems and drown herself in other people's stories. She gets to start school again, and she makes friends, and helps her parents when it's time to harvest the fruit. She begins to experience permanence and security. And then one day, everything changes.
This is a fantastic story for kids who don't have control over their circumstances. I've always thought the hardest part about being a child is that you have to live with someone else's decisions and you don't have much say in anything. In this book, Robin learns to accept the things she cannot change while coming to terms with the things she can control. ...more
Something rather miraculous happened. Last week, I checked out a book from the library by one of my favorite authors. I didn't recognize the title norSomething rather miraculous happened. Last week, I checked out a book from the library by one of my favorite authors. I didn't recognize the title nor the description, and happily thought I had found a book of hers I hadn't read yet. So I took it home, put it on the dining room table and waited gleefully for the weekend when I could settle down in my jammies with a nice glass of something and my cat wedged into the chair beside me with this book.
Only to discover, one chapter in, that I HAD already read it. The despair was real.
So what do you do? You pick yourself back up and go back to the to-read pile. Next on my list was "Empress of Mars." I adore Kage Baker and her Company series. Her death several years ago was a true loss for me. It pained me to know there would be no more books from her to anticipate. "Empress of Mars" was not my favorite of the series. It didn't have Mendoza, nor Joseph, it didn't really have much Company plot, it was all about that Mars Two explosion and I just wasn't in the mood for it. But it was next on the list, so.....
Only to discover, one chapter in, this was not the book I thought it was. I had never read this book. The incredulation was real.
And, my goodness, this book was delicious. It's a weird mish-mash of novel and short story. All the events and characters are related, and there's a definite progression of plot throughout the entire book, but each chapter feels like a short story. Or, more accurately, an episode. And it's delightful. Mary Griffith is a bitter botonist (...remind you of anyone?) who got screwed by her employer and is stuck on Mars with her three daughters in the very early phase of colonization. She's got no funds to get back to Earth, so she decides to make the most of it and starts a brewery. Because if the hardworking colonists of Mars need anything, they need beer. And she makes friends with inhabitants - some are screwed ex-employees like herself, some are Haulers who do the hard labor, some are from a neighboring Clan who are giving a go at agriculture. And then there's the British Arean Company, the bastards who fired her. Whatevs. And *spoiler alert* there's some familiar personalities. And this is such a fun book. There's little glimpses of their everyday lives and there's bigger looks of what's going to happen next, and you can't help but really, really like these characters. ...more
This is the most fabulous series in the entire world. I *adore* Mendoza. This book beautifully sets up the premise for all the Company books that follThis is the most fabulous series in the entire world. I *adore* Mendoza. This book beautifully sets up the premise for all the Company books that follow.
That said, there's a lot of melodrama in this first book. If folks don't like this one, I usually urge them to try the second one, "Sky Coyote" anyways because each book has it's own tone. I'd hate for folks to be turned off from the entire series just because they didn't like the tone of the first book.
ETA: I just my SIGNED 1ST EDITION copy in the mail last night. I am the happiest person on the face of the earth.
ETA: 2016 reread: My litmus test for a book I truly love is how it makes me feel. Kage Baker was one of the rare authors who could combine not just plot and characters, but emotion as well. You can feel the author in the background the entire time. This story was something she experienced in her own life, and was able to translate it into fiction. No, I'm not saying she was a cyborg or she lived through the Spanish Inquisition, but there was a parallel experience she was able to use. And it was something she was able to make come alive through Mendoza. I carry Mendoza with me probably more than I realize. This first book in the series sets the tone for all the rest because here is where we discover Mendoza's life-defining moments. Surprisingly, it wasn't the Spanish Inquisition. Surprisingly, it wasn't her rescue from the dungeons or the surgeries that made her immortal. Surprisingly, it wasn't her education or training. Mendoza is who she is because she loved a boy and it ended badly. One must remember that this entire book is seen through Mendoza's eyes, post-Nicholas. She even interrupts her own narration with little snippets of, what is for the reader, foreshadowing, but for her, it's a bitter self-recrimination.
I think this paragraph summarizes the entire book: "Now that I come to write of what we did together, I have a peculiar reluctance to put pen to paper. Yes, this is definitely pain I feel. There is a locked door, you see, hinges red as blood with rust: it screams upon being opened and tries to close again, but through its narrow space I see the color green."
The reader can feel her reluctance in sharing her story on every page. Yet she's compelled to share it because she knows that the reader will never understand the rest of the series without it. She relives this glorious and horrible time as it is her duty to record the events that lead up to the series' culmination. She's doing it for us.
And it's a hard mix - Mendoza's subtle despair combined with this grand story arc. I mean, my god, immortal cyborgs! Living amongst us and quietly saving the best of our civilizations from our own destruction. It's a fascinating concept and the reader cannot look away. And that is the lovely twist - if you want to know more, you have to suffer along with Mendoza....more
I give up. I gave this book a valiant effort, but after four months I just can't do it anymore. It's not Chesterton's writing - he does beautiful thinI give up. I gave this book a valiant effort, but after four months I just can't do it anymore. It's not Chesterton's writing - he does beautiful things with words. It's the plot. I cannot get into fantasy espionage anarchists. And I know halfway through I should have picked up on some symbolic subtext... but I'm just not interested enough to figure it out. But worse - this book made me dread bedtime reading, which is why it's taken me 4 months to get through 50 pages. For my own sanity, I'm doing a catch & release on this one. Goodbye, Thursday....more
This slim volume contains articles by Tim Dorsey from various publications. Originally only available as an ebook, he had it printed as so many peopleThis slim volume contains articles by Tim Dorsey from various publications. Originally only available as an ebook, he had it printed as so many people were asking for a hard copy. It's an excellent collection that spans his career from a budding journalist to the occasional article he'd write after becoming a big name author. It's an interesting progression of his writing style, as well. ...more
I've been meaning to read this for a while and saw a copy at a thrift store and finally picked it up. I've relegated it to my Dining In Restaurants AlI've been meaning to read this for a while and saw a copy at a thrift store and finally picked it up. I've relegated it to my Dining In Restaurants Alone book, so I've been averaging about a chapter a month. Last night I had a dream about the island and realized it had been a while since I last left off, so I took myself to breakfast this morning just to get another chapter in. Wouk's writing style is very evocative, and the island and characters truly come to life. However, as other reviewers have noted, the tone of the book is more than a bit racist, homophobic, misogynistic, and discomfiting. I can't tell if that's Wouk's own opinions bleeding through, or if he's just REALLY good at creating fractured characters. Either way, I'll finish the book, albeit slowly....more
I've always been drawn to WPA era architecture. I don't know if it's the predominantly Art Deco lines or all that glorious concrete, or what, but I enI've always been drawn to WPA era architecture. I don't know if it's the predominantly Art Deco lines or all that glorious concrete, or what, but I enjoy it. This reprinted edition is an affordable bit of utter loveliness -- not just photographs and a description, but floor plans, too! If you want the full glory, go to your local library and ask them to inter-library loan the original edition. One whiff of that paper, and you'll thank me. ...more
This is a fabulous book about various examples of endangered Florida architecture throughout the state. I wish there had been more photographs, as manThis is a fabulous book about various examples of endangered Florida architecture throughout the state. I wish there had been more photographs, as many of these building are likely no longer with us. ...more
I have to admit, after Doubleblind, I lost interest in this series. I REALLY like March and Jax together, and events in Doubleblind just left me cold.I have to admit, after Doubleblind, I lost interest in this series. I REALLY like March and Jax together, and events in Doubleblind just left me cold. But Grimspace had been SO GOOD, that when people spoke well of Killbox, I decided to give the series a second chance. And I'm glad I did. This is Jax and March at their best, at their most noble, at their most sacrificing. This more than makes up for Doubleblind, and I'm itching to read the next one. ...more