Life of Pi by Yan Martel

The Life of Pi
by Yann Martel
Paperback: 326 pages
Publisher: Mariner Books (May 1, 2003)
ISBN-10: 0156027321
ISBN-13: 978-0156027328

How can a teenage boy survive on a life raft in the ocean with only a hyena, an orangutan, a zebra, and a Bengal tiger as company for 227 days?

Pi Patel is the son of a zookeeper in Pondecherry India.  He spent some of his most formative younger years trying on various religions and learning about the nature of animals from his father.  After a change in the political regime in India, his father decides to sell the zoo including the animals and move the family to Canada. 

On the fourth day of their journey, the Japanese freighter they are riding aboard sinks about half way to Midway.  Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat with only a hyena, an orangutan, a zebra, and a Bengal tiger as company.  One by one the animals are dispatched by the tiger and Pi must find away to keep himself alive, and the tiger satiated.  He eventually finds rescue supplies on board the ship, among them are ration biscuits, water, a survival book and supplies for distilling sea water and fishing.  When the supplies run out, Pi begins to fish and distill water.  Using all of his wisdom, his senses and faith Pi struggles to survive by building an auxiliary raft to float at a safe distance from Richard’s domain of the lifeboat.

After 227 days in the ocean, the lifeboat runs aground in Mexico where Richard Parker runs into the jungle never to be seen again.  When questioned by the Japanese authorities Pi recounts his story only to have them question its validity.  When he offers them an alternate version they begin to understand his original version of the story.

Genre/Subgenre: Adventure/Suspense

Evaluation: 3-stars.

His Wanted Woman by Linda Turner

His Wanted Woman
by Linda Turner
Mass Market Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: Harlequin (November 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0373276559
ISBN-13: 978-0373276554

 Mackenzie Sloan is a suspect in the theft and sale of documents from the National Archives, when Special Agent Patrick O’Riley is put on the case, can he keep from letting his feelings for Makenzie from clouding his judgment?

Mackenzie Sloan inherited an antiquarian book shop from her father when he died.  Her father was a well-respected seller of antique books and maps; however, his reputation may be in jeopardy and it may be taking Mackenzie down with it. It seems that documents known to be stolen from the National Archives turn up in connection sales her father has made.  Knowing this can’t be true, Mackenzie works to clear her father’s name and her own.  

Special Agent Patrick O’Riley is put on the case.  In an effort to size up the situation, Patrick tries to sell Mackenzie a document he has borrowed from the Archives. Mackenzie is insulted and thinks Patrick is a thief and a fraud.  He wonders if it’s not just a ploy to throw him off the track, but he alwo wonders how this feisty, beautiful and intelligent woman could really be mixed up in all of this.

After a break-in at the shop it becomes clear that someone is setting Mackenzie up. Mackenzie and Patrick must work together to find the real thief.  In the mean time, a recently-divorced Patrick must keep his broken heart from falling into hands of Mackenzie Sloan, or it may compromise the investigation and endanger her further.

Genre/Subgenre: Romance/Suspense

Evaluation: 2-stars.

Stiff by Mary Roach

Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers
by Mary Roach
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (May 2004)
ISBN-10: 0393324826
ISBN-13: 978-0393324822

Have you ever considered what could happen to you if you donated your body to science after you died?  Find out the possibilities in Stiff by author and journalist Mary Roach.

In this humorous novel from Mary Roach, she discusses the various scientific uses for a cadaver that has been donated to science.  Almost since the beginning of scientific inquiry, dead bodies have been used to further our advancement of knowledge.  The same holds true for today.  Bodies which have been donated to science are used for a myriad of things.  Heads are used for plastic surgery practice. Full bodies can be used as crash-test dummies or for measuring the rate of decomposition at a body farm.  Roach goes on to recount various experiments including crucifixion, ballistics, beheadings, medical cannibalism, and the search for the soul.  Roach’s text gives you new possibilities beyond the usual choices of burial and cremation, including a new, greener burial as compost – currently only available in Sweden. 

While the subject is grim, Roach’s humorous but journalistic style really gives readers something to think about.

Genre/Subgenre: Non-Fiction/Science

Evaluation: 4-stars.

Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks

Round Ireland with a Fridge
by Tony Hawks
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (March 7, 2001)
ISBN-10: 0312274920
ISBN-13: 978-0312274924

Annotation/Flash talk:
 I could not say it better than the author in his prologue:
“I'm not, by nature, a betting man. However, the pages that follow in this book do not bear testimony to that. In fact they exist wholly as the result of a bet.
    I'm not, by nature, a drinking man. However, the making of the bet which led to this book does not bear testimony to that. Because I made it when I was pissed.
    Everything you read from this moment forth is a tribute to what can be achieved as a result of a shabby night of booze.”

On an earlier trip to Ireland, Tony Hawks spotted a man standing on the side of the road trying to hitchhike a ride with a refrigerator in tow.  The story became one of those classic back pocket stories he tossed out as banter at dinner parties with friends.  One night, one drunken night, the subject of the Fridge Man came up again.  Tony’s friends did not believe him.  Tony awoke the next morning to find a wager scribbled in his own hand, betting his friend £100 that Tony could not hitchhike around Ireland with fridge. 

The gauntlet having been thrown, Tony did just that. He arrived in Ireland, was aided is picking up a small cube fridge and proceeded to spend the month of May trying to hitchhike a full circle around Ireland.  Aided some by promotion on a local radio show, Tony worked his way around Ireland, but not with the greatest of ease. 

The fridge became to symbolize more than the bet; it became a philosophy for life and an in-road to the hearts, fellowship and minds of some of the most generous Irish people.  The story in a way is also a travelogue for the beauty of the Ireland.

Genre/Subgenre: Non-Fiction/Humor/Travelogue

Evaluation: 3-stars.

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate)
by Gail Carriger $7.99
Paperback: 310 pages
Publisher: Orbit; Original edition (October 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0316056634
ISBN-13: 978-0316056632
Part of a Series

Armed with her intelligence, her silver-tipped parasol, and her special ability to neutralize the supernatural, can Alexis Tarabotti get to the bottom of the missing vampires and werewolves of London?

Meet Alexia Tarabotti, a soulless one, or what the supernatural crowd living in this alternate version of 18th century London would call a preternatural. While her family doesn’t think her to be totally normal (Alexia is a bluestocking, forthright, and her curiosity often gets this unmarried spinster into some tight situations), they know nothing of her special abilities. Her special powers are only known to those of the supernatural set.

After her accidental killing of a rove vampire, Alexia finds herself in the middle of a curious mystery; the lone vampires and werewolves of London and the surrounds seem to be disappearing. Alexia receives an interesting invitation to meet with the hive queen of London’s most prestigious vampire family; upon leaving the hive house, Alexia is attacked. Enter Lord Maccon (handsome, ravenous, and did I mention Alpha werewolf of the most prestigious werewolf families in London?) to the rescue.

Despite Lord Macoon’s stated dislike for Alexia, and hers for him, they are somewhat forced to work together to solve the mystery of the disappearing werewolves and vampires, as we soon discover Alexia is on the kidnapper’s list as well.

Genre/Subgenre: Fantasy/Romance/Humor/Steampunk

Evaluation: 4-stars

The Last Good Man by Kathleen Eagle

The Last Good Man
by Kathleen Eagle
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Avon; Other Printing edition (May 1, 2001)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 038081014X
ISBN-13: 978-0380810147

Savannah Stephens was prettiest girl in all of Sunbonnet, Wyoming, and Clay Keogh loved her since they were kids. Savannah left Sunbonnet and made a life for herself as a model, and Clay he stayed behind to tend to his family’s ranch. One day Savannah returns to Sunbonnet, with a child who is the spitting image of Clay’s older brother Kole, and sequesters herself in a room above her aunt’s store. Something is obviously wrong, but will she open up to Clay?

Savannah Stephens escaped Sunbonnet, Wyoming, and Clay Keogh did not. Savannah got herself a modeling job, and almost everyone in Sunbonnet kept her catalogs. Clay, on the other hand, collects horses. He’s a sucker for horses and he can’t stand to see them neglected or forsaken. He takes them in on his family’s ranch, even if it means times will be tighter on the ranch with the extra horses to feed.

One day, without warning, Savannah returns to Sunbonnet with a child who is the spitting image of Clay’s older brother Kole, and sequesters herself in a room above her aunt’s store. True to his nature of caring for wounded animals, and his long-held love for Savannah, Clay feels that he must help her overcome whatever the problem is. Embarrassed and depressed, Savannah refuses everyone, including Clay’s, help. It is during his quest that Clay spends time with Savannah’s daughter, the witty and wise-for-her-years, six-year-old Claudia. Together with Aunt Billie, Clay and Claudia, work to get Savannah out of her seclusion, and try to convince her that Clay is truly the last good man.

Genre/Subgenre: Romance/Western

Evaluation: 2-stars.