Reading Hiatus

The blog and any recreational reading will be taking a backseat until the middle of April as I work to complete my portfolio for graduation.

The Guinea Pig Diaries by A.J. Jacobs

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The Guinea Pig Diaries
by A.J. Jacobs
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (July 13, 2010) 
ISBN-10: 1439104999
ISBN-13: 978-1439104996 

Annotation/Flashtalk: Could you live without telling a lie for 30 days? How hard is it to focus on just one task at a time? Can you successfully outsource an argument with your spouse?

A.J. Jacobs is up to it again, this time instead of one big experiment, like his "The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible" or "The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World," this time he does a series of 30-day experiments.  A.J. takes on:
  • Radical Honesty
  • Living like George Washington
  • Outsourcing his life
  • Walking the Red Carpet
  • Trying to be totally rational and remove bias from his life
  • Being a unitasker and focusing on one task at a time
  • Using his writing skills to get his nanny a date
  • Posing naked for Esquire
  • And for his "saintly" wife Julie, a month doing EVERYTHING she asks.
Jacobs writes of his "experiments" with his usual humor, insight, and journalistic approach that readers of his previous work have come to expect.

Genre/Subgenre: Non-Fiction/Humor

Evaluation: 3-stars

A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore

A Dirty Job
by Christopher Moore
Paperback: 405 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (March 27, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0425150984
ISBN-13: 978-0060590284

Annotation/Flashtalk: "Congratulations, you've been chosen to act as Death. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it."

The birth of your first child is supposed to be one of the highlights of your life; however, for Charlie Ascher, a mild-mannered beta-male, and second-hand store owner the day turns out to be so much more.  Charlie's wife Rachel dies shortly after childbirth, and Charlie sees a tall black man in a mint green suit by her bedside -- but no one else sees him.  The man turns out to be Minty Fresh, a soul-collector, or as Minty like to say - "death merchants." 

Charlie is coping with his grief and raising his daughter, Sophie, with the help of his sister and his neighbors, when strange things start to happen to him.  People start to die and objects near them begin to glow red.  Sophie begins to exhibit some unusual traits -- killing people by uttering the word "Kitty", and a very unlucky streak with pets, that is until she finds herself protected by two (big, like bear) hell hounds.  Minty steps in to help Charlie understand his new responsibility. 

In his new role, Charlie is tasked with collecting soul vessels of those people who passed, and then keeping them in his shop (which is the perfect cover for a death merchant) until the new owner comes in to buy it. He must strictly adhere to the names and dates that start showing up in his death datebook; for if he doesn't the underworld can take over.  As the story unfolds, the demons of the underworld, or in this case the San Francisco's sewers, start to get restless. Charlie and Minty, with the help of a police detective and Charlie's employee Lily work to keep the balance in order.

Genre/Subgenre: Absurdist Fiction/Paranormal

Evaluation: 3-stars

Immortal in Death by J. D. Robb

Immortal in Death
by J.D. Robb
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Berkley (July 1, 1996)
ISBN-10: 0425153789
ISBN-13: 978-0425153789

Annotation/Flashtalk: Will fashion or murder keep Eve from finally marrying Rourke?

The book opens with the murder of one of Eve's snitches.  He turns up dead with this face bashed in.  An inspection of his apartment turns up a formula and some unidentifiable blue powder.

Eve Dallas' best friend Mavis knows just the man to help Eve find the perfect wedding dress, Leonardo.  It just so happens that Leonardo is also dating Mavis and he used to date the famous supermodel, Pandora. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.  Pandora is not done with Leonardo and promises to ruin him if he doesn't leave Mavis immediately.  Pandora is soon found murdered, her face also bashed in, at Leonardo's studio and Leonardo and Mavis are the prime suspects.

Nothing links the two murders except the face bashing, but Eve is determined to prove that Mavis is not Pandora's killer. The mystery must revolve around the blue powder. With the help of Rourke's resources, Eve identifies the powder and is able to link it to the beautiful women and the fashion industry. She now just needs to link the youth-promising drug to its producer to find the killer.

Genre/Subgenre: Mystery/Romance/Suspense

Evaluation: 3-stars

Glory in Death by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts)

Glory in Death
by J.D. Robb $7.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Berkley (September 7, 2004)
ISBN-10: 0425150984
ISBN-13: 978-0425150986

Annotation/Flashtalk: Strong, famous, and public women are being found murdered with their throats cut.  Can Eve Dallas figure out who the killer is before she's the next victim?
Detective Eve Dallas is back on the job when she gets a call about a prominent female prosecutor found dead in seedy neighborhood; her throat has been slit and her umbrella is missing.  The suspects include her ex-husband, her son, and her son-in-law.  The next victim is a famous and beautiful television actress; her throat is slit too and she's missing a shoe.  What or who can these two women possibly have in common? Rourke, Eve's boyfriend, of course! But he has no reason to want them dead.  Realizing that the common thread is that they are both high-profile individuals, Eve uses her connections with the media to put herself out as bait.  When her plan backfires and a TV station employee ends up dead, Eve is racked with guilt. She must find the killer now. 

Genre/Subgenre: Mystery/Romance/Suspense

Evaluation: 3-stars

Blameless by Gail Carriger (The Parasol Protectorate #3)

Blameless (The Parasol Protectorate #3)
by Gail Carriger $7.99
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Orbit; Original edition (September 1, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0316074152
ISBN-13: 978-0316074155
Annotation/Flashtalk: A preternatural pregnant by a werewolf? Unheard of! Alexia unfaithful to the gorgeous Lord Maccon? No way! But why won't anyone believe her?

At the onset of book three of the Parasol Protectorate, we find our heroine Alexia  pregnant, ousted from Woolesy Manner, a social pariah, removed from her post on the Shadow Council,and thoroughly in need of some tea.  She takes off on a journey with Floote and Madame Lefoux to Italy to find the Templars, the only people who might be able to explain her "infant inconvenience." Throughout their journey they are being stalked and attacked by vampires, only to be saved by an oddly-familiar dog, and on another occasion a hooded man.

Back in London, Professor Lyall is doing his best to maintain BURR business, and keep the Woolsey Pack together in the face of his inebriated Alpha, Lord Maccon, who has been drinking the formaldehyde, one of the few elixirs that can actually intoxicate a werewolf, out of Professor Lyall's specimens.  Lord Akeldama has left town, and his drones are also suspiciously missing.  Buffy, his best drone, has been taken captive and is being held underwater.  Once sober, Lord Maccon and Professor Lyall devise a plan to rescue Buffy, and in the post-rescue scuffle Buffy is shot.  The only way to save him is to turn him into a werewolf -- poaching a drone is going to cause some trouble, even if it was the only way to save his life. 

Coming to his senses and armed with new information, Lord Maccon reunites with Alexia as they wonder about the future of their offspring.

Genre/Subgenre: Fantasy/Romance/Humor/Steampunk

Evaluation: 4-stars

Changeless by Gail Carriger (The Parasol Protectorate #2)

Changeless (The Parasol Protectorate #2)
by Gail Carriger $7.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Orbit; Original edition (April 1, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0316074144
ISBN-13: 978-0316074148

Annotation/Flashtalk:Word around London is that there is a localized plague that is neutralizing supernatural beings. Now married, Alexia wakes to find her werewolf husband, Lord Maccon, on his way to Scotland. Is he running from the plague, or toward its source?

A localized plague has struck a small area of London; werewolves and vampires are human and aging again.  The plague arrived with the return of supernatural soilders from overseas and then resolved as quickly as it came.  Lord Maccon, head of BUR in London, takes off on a mysterous trip to Scotland.  After hearing that the plague is headed north to Scotland, Alexia, Lady Maccon, is worried about her husband and takes a contingent of family and associates on a blimp ride to Scotland. When they arrive they find out that the plague has indeed hit Scotland and Lord Maccon and his old pack, have been affected. 

There is a spy among the pack and London-contingent in Scotland.  Alexia works to find out the culprit and discover the mysterous source of the plague along with the help of Floote, Professor Lyall and Lord Akeldama.
Genre/Subgenre: Fantasy/Romance/Humor/Steampunk

Evaluation: 4-stars