Wednesday, June 1, 2016

spring reading list

I made a hasty visit to the library at the beginning of this quarter. I was out running errands and I wanted to be home by a certain time and I decided to squeeze in a quick visit on my way back since I had returned the current books the previous Saturday and it had been several days already with no reading material. I quickly perused the new arrivals shelf and settled on two fairly short novels and made my way home. Big mistake. I couldn't get past the first 10 pages of either book. Didn't care for the writing style of one and didn't like the first person perspective or the character of the other. Style again I guess. I took them both back unread and picked out an 870 page science fiction novel. Been a long time since I sat down the a good sci-fi and this one grabbed me on the first page when the moon exploded.

SevenEves by Neal Stephenson - OK, so it wasn't 870 pages, it was 861. I enjoyed parts of this book, the parts that advanced the story and, some of the 'technical' part. It is, after all, science fiction but there were pages and pages and pages of explanation of how they accomplished everything. As mentioned, on the first page of the book the moon explodes, they surmise by a tiny black hole traveling through space (it could happen!). It broke up into 8 major pieces that seemed to obtain an equilibrium that rotated in a cluster around the earth until two pieces collided and broke up further. Brains all over the world conclude that the earth has two years before the moon breaks up enough to create the White Sky and hard on the heels of that, the Hard Rain when enough bolides fall to reshape the face of the earth and set the atmosphere on fire which could last for up to 10,000 years. The whole world unites to send as many people in space as possible (less than 2,000) with as much equipment and knowledge to insure the survival of the human race as they can while more earthbound measures are being taken by a group who create a habitat in a mine. Most of the book is taken up by this effort and the five years it takes after the Hard Rain starts for the survivors in space to land on a hunk of the moon's core to dig in and start to multiply. By then there are only 8 survivors, all women, one of whom is the geneticist and one of whom is too old to reproduce. They establish seven races, (and a few sub-races) of human beings, each Eve choosing attributes she thinks her offspring will need to survive. Jump ahead 5,000 years and the earth is surrounded by a ring of space habitats and they have, after clearing the space of the moon's bolides, begun to terraform the surface of the earth, throwing comets first to re-establish the oceans and whatever to re-establish the atmosphere and reseeding the earth with life forms created from the ancient data bases. Already there are about a million Spacers living on the surface, the races divided into a coalition of two groups, stupidly IMO labeled Red and Blue replete with wars (a split that occurred even as the Hard Rain got underway). Anyway, it's not until page 746 that they make contact with the group who went underground, the Diggers and not until page 852 (out of 861) that they come face to face with a group of humans who took refuge under the ocean and evolved into a different race known as the Pingers. And then it ends. All the new and the one old earth rootstock human races have finally come face to face and the book is over. That sort of pissed me off.

So, after trudging through that, my next two books were short and light reading...

The Tears Of The Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith - Second in the series of The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Mma Ramotswe embraces two orphans into her life and gives closure to an American woman who's son disappeared 10 years ago.

Tricky Twenty Two by Janet Evanovich - Twenty second in the series of Stephanie Plum, bounty hunter and object of attention from two really hot men, and her sidekick Lula. They still entertain.

Still going for short and light...

Morality For Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith – Third in the series. Rra Matekoni, Mma Ramotswe's fiance, suffers from depression, Mma Ramotswe solves a poisoning, and Mma Makutsi steps in to run Speedy Motors and the agency and saves a beauty pageant.

The Job by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg – Third in the Kate and Nick series. Kate and Nick put on an elaborate con to nab the worst drug lord in the world who has undergone extensive plastic surgery.

The Kalihari Typing School For Men by Alexander McCall Smith - Fourth in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. Rra. Matekoni is once again well and back at the garage. There's a new detective agency in town, Mme. Makutsi starts the typing school for men, and Mma. Ramotswe helps a man make amends for his bad behavior and confronts an errant husband.

And then I picked up this one which took me far too long to read...

Mount Dragon by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child - The surprising thing about this book is not that it's about genetic engineering but that it was written 20 years ago. Scientist Guy Carson is called in for a personal teleconference with the CEO and owner of GeneDyne where he works doing routine lab work and offered to take over the development of a very secret product, so secret that it is being developed in the world's only Level 5 containment lab in the middle of the desert in the nuclear testing grounds of New Mexico. The team there is working with a deadly 100% lethal strain of the flu virus in an attempt to develop a vaccine for flu that will not only make the recipient immune to the flu but it would be passed down to the offspring. In other words, altering permanently the DNA of humans. While dangerous and controversial, that is not the immediate threat to the population. A previously developed product, a universal artificial blood, is about to be released for hospital use when Carson and his lab assistant discover it isn't so safe after all. With the entire staff of Mount Dragon slowly and not so slowly going crazy as a result of the Beta testing, Carson and de Vaca, the only two on site not infected with the PurBlood in this extremely remote, completely cut off with no phone lines or computer access to the outside world, location, fear that the scientists will inadvertently or purposely release the deadly flu virus. They initiate a disabled but not removed fail safe protocol and incinerate the level 5 lab and in the process blow the place up to kingdom come. They escape on horseback and are pursued by the crazy before and even crazier now extremely paranoid and dangerous head of security on a better horse with more water and a high powered rifle as they try to cross the desert to a line camp of a ranch nearly a hundred miles away to alert the world that PurBlood is not safe before it's imminent release.

And one more...

The Full Cupboard Of Life by Alexander McCall Smith – number 5 in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. As you can see, I am working my way through these. Mma Ramotswe pulls Mr. Matekoni's butt out of the fire not once but twice and investigates a client's suitors to see if they are after her or her money. Mma Makutsi moves into a house. Mma Potokwane arranges for the foot dragging Mr. Matekoni to finally marry Mma Ramotswe.


  1. Alexander McCall Smith writes a new book every week. I swear. I love his Scotland series and his Isabelle Dalhousie series. I may have spelled those right.
    Hey! Have you read any of JK Rowling's Cormoran Strike novels, written under the name of Richard Galbraith? I love them.
    Right now I am reading the companion book of the one I listened to last week (The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry) and I am eating it up and loving it. The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy.
    Amy Tan's The Bonesetter's Daughter was lovely.

  2. I think the outcome of SevenEves would have pissed me off, too. I enjoyed Janet Evanovich's last, and I liked it. I'm still intrigued about Mount Dragon. Might have to give it a go...

    I'm currently reading The Danish Girl, a short story collection, a couple of graphic novels, and rereading Melville's Moby Dick (talking of long-winded).

  3. My trip to Key West prompted an interest in the writing of Ernest Hemingway, so I've been reading him since our return. I just finished The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms. Unfortunately this made me realize I really don't like his writing.

  4. I'm on book 14 of Deborah Crombie's mystery series, and soon I'll be all done. Good to know there are other fun, addictive series out there. I think Deborah Crombie lives in TX but her books are all set in the UK.

  5. That was fun, Ellen!
    I just finished reading Wild Swans by Jung Chang. It's the true story of three generations of women living under the regime of Mao Zedong and the little red army. Jung finally makes it to England and has continued to write about the history of her country. Her writing, for me, is the kind of flow that you just can't stop. It was a 600er too.

    Then I read Sweet Mandarin. About three Chinese sisters whose mother and grandmother also survived in the China of the 40's to 70's. It's a true story about how these 3 sisters started their own restaurant using their inherited recipes. When I think of what was going on in China when I was a stupid high schooler, I am amazed at how little I knew about the world. Well, I've never really been aware of what happened in China under Mao's rule (he was one scary dude!) but it is eye opening and gives me a great respect for Chinese people and their struggles. Once I started on this issue it was hard for me to stop. There is so much more to learn.

    I've never really taken to sci-fi..but like you say (IT COULD HAPPEN)!

  6. I've skipped much of this as Seven Eves sounds like my sort of scifi. I love physics based scifi. I have just read A lovely way to Burn which is murder mystery set against a virus outbreak backdrop. An unusual but easy read.
    I think you have similar taste to me so I will download the books you've mentioned. Thank you

  7. My librarian helps me a lot. She has had me reading her favorite authors and am having fun with these

  8. I remember a few of the Lady's Detective Agency on TV and enjoyed the novel location and people. I have recently read a few Kindle books that either were free or cost under $2 and not been impressed. I would delete them, but I have no memory for what I purchased and not sure Kindle/Amazon will be kind enough to remind me!

  9. Just finished The Magical Strings of Frankie Presto - long but interesting. Forrest Gump-like in that it weaves fictional and real people.
    Love Alexander McCall Smith - the real mystery I think is, How does a Scottish man so brilliantly write in the persona of an African woman?

  10. I've got the first Smith book on hold at the library. Can't wait to get to it! I'm so behind on my book posts. I just looked, and I've read 36 books since I last posted! And that doesn't count my rereading of the Harry Potter books. Of course, many of those 36 books were rereads as well...


I opened my big mouth, now it's your turn.