Sunday, January 27, 2013


At the Hot Gates: An Account of the Battle of Thermopylae by Donald Samson; illustrations by Adam Agee.  The publisher's information lists this for ages 12 and up, but it seems appropriate for even younger readers.  It is a very (very) short story about one specific historical event.  Characters experience no growth, since the whole story is about 3 days long.
The book is a really weird size, I assume to allow for the illustrations, which, by the way, are really bad.
The story is well-written enough, few errors, that sort of thing.  I can see it having a place in school libraries-- it's really short, it is totally historical fiction, it features exclusively male characters.

Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen.  I'm not normally attracted by mysteries-- too many bad experiences.  But I allowed myself to write this one down, so I picked it up one day when I needed something for my lunch break and had left all my other things at home.
I enjoyed this quite a bit.  I was right in my who-done-it guess, but there was enough going on to keep me interested.  There were a few things not tied up in the end, but they weren't major points.  It's obvious there is more to the series.  I might continue it.

Who am I kidding, we all know my OCD with series.

Saxons, Vikings, and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland by Bryan Sykes.  I keep coming back to this author, because his work sounds so interesting.  But with everything else on my bedside table, and stacks from the awards committee, and prepubs on my Nook, this didn't hold my attention.  It let my mind wander.

A Little History of Science by William Bynum.  This is good, well written, informative.  A good history of (pretty much exclusively) Western science, with some medicine in there, too.  I haven't finished this yet, and I may not get to before it expires. Worth having in public libraries.

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord.  This is the kind of sci-fi I haven't tried in a long time.  It seems like it will eventually get interesting, but there isn't enough being explained for me as we go along.

Wolves in the Land of Salmon by David Moskowitz. I've only made it to page 94 (of the 332 rendered in the ebook version).  While very interesting, especially since it so local, it makes me fall asleep.

When most people think of caribou (Rangifer tarandus), they probably imagine enormous herds of barren ground caribou (R.t. groenlandicus) streaming across the open tundra.  However, mountain caribou, a specific subset of woodland caribou (R.t.caribou), the subspecies that inhabits the mountains of the interior of our region, travel in smaller groups and frequent forests and steep mountainous terrain. (93)

The Blind Eye: A Sephardic journey by Marcia Fine.  Full-on spoilers ahead.
I was really interested when I thought this was two parallel stories and a modern-day person would discover her family past and all that. When the story revealed that the historical story was in fact a novel written by one of the characters, I was very cross.  First, it made the history less real. Second, the history is about 2 female characters and is supposed to be written by the modern male character, who is utterly hopeless with women. Third, the modern story is very shallow.  Things happen not because they ought to, but because the author feels it necessary to inflict romance into the story or it won't sell...or something like that. It would have been much better without the forced relationships.
Also, I have no idea where the title came from.

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