"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Saturday, May 07, 2016


I refreshed the blog links over in the left sidebar. Only one had to be removed due to no posts in just over a year. I added a few others I read regularly.

I've been playing on GoodReads. I much prefer Library Thing. On LT, I add a book and it's in my library. If I want to indicate I don't actually own it, I add it to the "Read, Not Owned" collection I created while adding to my LT library. Easy peasy, all part of one step. On GR, added books go onto a shelf, none of which are "Owned Books." GR has an "Owned" section, but you have to add books you've shelved to "books owned" as an additional step. If there's a way to do that at the same time I "shelve" a book on GR, I have yet to find it. So, that's an annoyance because I own pretty much all the books I read these days and want that indicated.

I've also spent hours obsessively answering/trying to answer/skipping Trivia questions on GR. Talk about addictive.

Over on Library Thing, I tried out the catalog feature being tested, that makes your library work like an opac (online public access catalog) as found on library sites. LT is offering it to small libraries for a fee, but individuals can use it for free. It gives more options for searching your own collection. Very cool!

Finally, I widened the columns here and am thinking of redoing the design, using new colors, making a new header. It's been a while since I changed to this look and the old blog is looking a bit long in the tooth. Time for a change!

Ancillary Sword

TITLE: Ancillary Sword
AUTHOR: Ann Leckie

Book 2 in Leckie's wonderful Ancillary trilogy finds one-time ship AI Breq, formerly the ship Justice of Toren, now confined to a single ancillary body, on Athoek Station by order of the Radch emperor. As Fleet Commander, Breq has been tasked with keeping the station and that sector of space safe while the emperor wars with herself. I'd go into details but my review of the first book, Ancillary Justice, will have to suffice. It's complicated.

At any rate, Breq has agreed to go only because the sister of Lt. Awn, the officer she'd been ordered to kill years ago lives on Atheok Station and protecting Awn's sister is a priority for Breq. But she has issues of her own to contend with, including a young lieutenant assigned to her by the emperor as a spy, a ship already at Atheok Station whose captain is likely concealing something vital, and a situation of potential unrest between the haves and the have-nots living on the station.

There's more political intrigue and less action in this book than the first one, but the climatic scene in the station's garden is quite thrilling. Breq might be no more than an AI, but in many ways, she's amazingly human. I love this series, and as I'm about to start book 3, I wish there was a book 4 and more beyond it.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Cellar

TITLE: The Cellar
AUTHOR: Minette Walters

For six years, 14-year-old Muna has been a slave of Ebuka and Yetunde Songoli. Having two sons of their own, they claimed Muna from a West African orphanage, then emigrated to England. During her years with the Songolis, Muna suffered much abuse, physical and sexual, but when one of the Songolis' sons, Abiola, disappears, Muna's fortunes change for the better.

To keep the police investigators from discovering their shameful secret, Yetunde claims Muna is their daughter and moves her from the cellar where she's been confined to live when she isn't cooking and cleaning for the family, into a spare bedroom upstairs. Yetunde claims the girl is brain damaged and doesn't speak English, but Muna is far more clever than the Songolis know. Muna has a full grasp of English and slowly realizes how much power she now has, power she uses to manipulate the Songolis in order to better her own position. As the family's fortunes continue to take a downward turn following Abiola's disappearance, Muna's improves.

This novella is a bit of a change of pace for Walters, one of my favorite writers. Told in third person from Muna's pov, this isn't so much of a mystery as it is a psychological suspense story. It is also a disturbing one, and one I found compelling.

Monday, March 28, 2016


In a fit of boredom last night, I started a GoodReads account, just to see what the site is like. I think I tried it and Shelfari (now going away) years ago, but settled on LibraryThing (which I still prefer). So far, the navigation on GoodReads is annoying me, but that might be because I prefer LT. However, I like the quotes section and might try some of the games and quizzes. How social of them!

So, here's my GoodReads account: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/54342440-shelly
There's not much there yet.

Monday, March 21, 2016

A God in Ruins

TITLE: A God in Ruins
AUTHOR: Kate Atkinson

The first thing I think after finishing one of Kate Atkinson's books is "When is her next book?" I finished this one last night and it's still in my head, almost a part of me. That's what I love about Atkinson's writing: her indelible, almost real characters and her amazing prose that get under my skin and take up residence there. Her characters become part of me, no more so than the Todd family, the focus of two of her books. In Life After Life, Atkinson presented us with Ursula Todd, born in the 1910s, and her family as Ursula lived her life over and over in various permutations, some where she didn't survive childbirth and others were she lived well into adulthood.

This book focuses on younger brother Teddy. In many of Ursula's lives, Teddy didn't survive his exploits as a bomber pilot during WWII. In this book, we encounter a Teddy who did survive, as a POW in a German prison camp. This is a Teddy who married his childhood sweetheart, who had a daughter Viola he never understood and two grandchildren he adored. This is a Teddy who wants to live a simple life, loving his family, loving nature, and being kind to those he meets.

Told non-linearly, the narrative brings us into the cockpit with Teddy on his and his crews' bombing missions, as well as his life before and after the war. The book is about life and death, the cost of war, the choices we make, and the meaning of it all, and probably even more that I haven't quite processed yet, because that's the kind of writer Atkinson is. As with her other books, there are family secrets and how they can affect the lives of the family members, especially the children. There's much about how we treat each other, especially the old and dying. Atkinson packs so much emotion and philosophy into her books and this one is no exception. I cried, not at the twist at the end, but at what came just before. Any author who can bring me to tears (which I admit isn't all that difficult to do as I'm a crier) over characters who really just live in words on a page is someone special to me.