Teaser Tuesdays: A Widow’s Awakening

A Widow's Awakening

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

– Grab your current read
– Open to a random page
– Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
– BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
– Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

No frou frou stories about fashionistas or prom dresses, this week. No comforting Trek fic, not even another sea story. Instead, this:

On January 10th, Nick’s wife is scheduled for a 9:00 a.m. C-section. Why I, the nuttier-than-a-fruitcake recently widowed childless auntie, has been asked to attend the birth, I’m not sure. Perhaps it has something to do with my refusal to tell people how I’m really feeling. And still not having grasped the concept of saying no, off I go.

At 9:30, a baby girl with the middle name of Hope arrives. When she’s shown to me, I shiver.

“You’re being held by Sam,” the baby’s maternal grandmother says to me.


“The way your body just reacted,” she explains, “it looked like someone was standing behind you, wrapping their arms around you.”

From A Widow’s Awakening, by Maryanne Pope – page 205-206.

Review: STTNG: A Sea of Troubles

A Sea of Troubles
STTNG: A Sea of Troubles
J. Steven York & Christina F. York
Simon & Schuster Digital, 200 KB
October, 2007
Buy it from Amazon >>

Description (from Amazon.com):
A new six-part epic covering the first year of service of the U.S.S. Enterprise-E, leading up to the events of the hit movie Star Trek: First Contact.

The U.S.S. Enterprise-E has launched, with Captain Jean-Luc Picard in command. In addition to many familiar faces, the new ship also has some new crew members — among them, conn officer Sean Hawk and security chief Linda Addison.

But soon Picard is devastated to learn that there’s a saboteur on board — in the form of a changeling infiltrator from the Dominion! Picard and his crew must learn who the changeling replaced and stop it before it destroys the fleet’s finest ship…

Late last year, I read book three in this six-part Star Trek: The Next Generation series “Slings and Arrows” because sometimes I want the comfort of familiar characters having new adventures. I was not disappointed. So when I bought books one and two at the beginning of the year, I expected to be equally pleased. The thing is, sometimes you forget that buying books is not like buying custom laptops. Sometimes books are different than what you expect. This book was.

I was expecting plot. I was expecting political machinations. I was not expecting the level of darkness and intrigue that was evident in this novel, and frankly, I thought the Dominion storyline was overdone in TNG and DS9, as it was. Odd, I know, considering that I’ve really enjoyed it when OTHER TNG novels have departed from the sanitized fluffy view of the future that Star Trek tends to be.

What I am enjoying in this book, and in the second one, which I’ll talk about another day, is Data’s ongoing process of learning to deal with his new emotions. I never felt that this was ever handled well in the movies, and I like that he isn’t just perfectly assimilating all those feelings.

Bottom line: Not a bad e-read, but not all I hoped.

Goes well with: hot chocolate and butter cookies.

Booking through Thursday: Firsts


On Thursday, January 13th, Booking through Thursday asked:

Do you remember the first book you bought for yourself? Or the first book you checked out of the library? What was it and why did you choose it?

Back when I was a child, when going to the library didn’t involve a due date slip coming from a receipt printer, or being able to request books via the internet, I used to ride my bike there once a week, and fill my backpack to bursting, but I don’t really remember what my first book was. I know that when I was very young, I read a lot of Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries, that I borrowed all the Little House books before I owned my own, and that I probably read all of the Pern novels that way as well, but I don’t really remember what I checked out.

The same goes for what I bought…I mean, I was blowing my allowance on books when everyone else was buying clothes and makeup, and that was another special weekend ritual for me, but…I don’t really remember what I bought first.

I do know that even though I LOVE my kindle, there’s nothing like walking into a bookstore with available cash and weekend to fill.

Review: The Cure for Anything is Salt Water

The Cure for Anything is Salt Water
The Cure for Anything is Salt Water
Mary South
Harper, 224 pages
June, 2008
Buy from Amazon >> OR Read the first chapter for free >>

Description (from Publishers Weekly):
A mid-life crisis and a latent sense of adventure caused book editor South to give up her life in publishing and take up residence on the Bossanova, a steel-hull trawler she bought before knowing how to captain it. The subtitle is largely hyperbolic-South’s time “at sea” was really a short, if perilous, sail from Florida to Sag Harbor, where the boat is now docked-but South makes an interesting memoir from her skillful observation of the sailing life: “Good seamanship isn’t the thoughtless instinct that salty dogs make it seem to be. It’s the good habit of always asking yourself the right questions in the right order and answering them thoughtfully.” Sometimes, she seems to have forgotten landlubbers might pick up her book; a sentences like, “One danger is that your bow will slow and your stern will get kicked out to the side, causing you to be beam-to,” is just one head-scratcher of many for the uninitiated. She can be clumsy when transitioning between sailing stories and other aspects of her life (“This sailing was happiness. For a time, happiness, too, had been Leslie.”), but her clear-eyed perspective and involving stories keep the narrative moving. This small but well-observed memoir is a worthwhile read for anyone stuck in the workaday rut.

I was reading a bunch of ocean-themed books, some fiction, some not, on my Kindle during November and December, and Mary South’s memoir The Cure for Anything is Salt Water popped up on a list of suggestions. I downloaded the sample chapter to my kindle, read it, started reading other stuff, and then finally downloaded the whole book as a Christmas gift to myself. (I almost gave myself an iphone 4 after I cracked the glass on my 3GS, but we ultimately decided I should wait til summer, and the iPhone 5, and books are better, anyway.)

I really enjoyed South’s storytelling – though sometimes the transitions from the “present” story of sailing her steel barge from Florida to Sag Harbor to the “flashback” story of how she got to that point in time were a little awkward, and sometimes she used more sailing jargon than I think most people understand. I mean, I read a LOT of sailing books, and I knew most of the terms she used, but there were several I had to look up. Also, there was far less sailing in the book than I’d hoped for – just the one trip.

Those quibbles aside, however, I really enjoyed the book. Ms. South is witty and engaging, and some of her comments about lesbian dating made me laugh. I kept following my husband around reading passages and laughing delightedly.

Also, I totally related to the desire to chuck it all, pack up the dogs, and live on a boat. Well, maybe not a boat, but if there’s a small coastal village in Scotland or Ireland with a good pub, great cafe, a decent bookstore, and high-speed internet access, I’m SO there.

But I digress.

Mary South’s book isn’t just a mid-life crisis memoir. It’s a really engaging peek at two worlds: that of being a single woman over thirty-five, and that of being the captain of your own ship.

Both were enjoyable.

Goes well with: Freshly caught blue fish and a glass of wine.

Review: A Pointed Death, by Kath Russell

A Pointed Death
A Pointed Death
Kath Russell
CreateSpace, 352 pages
August, 2010
Buy from Amazon >> OR Read the first chapter for free..

Product Description (from Amazon.com):
In A Pointed Death, biotech consultant Nola Billingsley discovers that one of her clients is stealing proprietary information from other startups. When the scion of a prominent Chinese-American family is murdered, Nola is convinced his death stems from his employment at the company pilfering scientific secrets. Nola seeks the identity of the killer and the destination of the purloined genetic data. Lanky fraud investigator Robert Harrison wants her to leave sleuthing to the professionals and leap in bed with him, but hardheaded Nola is convinced she and her band of biotech pals can solve the mystery. When the going gets tough and danger looms, she has her shorthaired pointer Skootch to watch her back as the action accelerates from lab to ocean’s edge in San Francisco, the city where biotech was born. A Pointed Death is a funny, sexy who-done-it set in a smart industry, a ‘Malice Corporate’ unfolding in a town everyone loves but secretly believes is in need of its own twelve-step program.

When I was offered the opportunity to review Kath Russell’s lighthearted mystery novel, A Pointed Death, I jumped at the chance. I mean, this was a mystery with a female protagonist, that took place in San Francisco (my spiritual, if not actual, home town) and featured a short-haired pointer as a pet/sidekick. As I told the publicist, “I really, REALLY want to read this, and not JUST because I ALSO have a short-haired pointer.” I’m glad I did, because this book was a delightful read from start to finish, and the perfect novel for the post-holiday doldrums – not stupid, but not so intellectual that you find yourself exhausted after three pages.

I really loved Nola Billingsley as a character. She’s strong, spunky, and smart, but she’s also completely feminine, and reads as if she were a real person, rather than a mere character. The scenes between her and her aging-southern-belle mother are priceless (my own mother is not a southern belle, but aging radical feminists aren’t that different when they’re your parents, really), and the relationship Nola has with her bouncy, silly dog, Skootch (who is very much like my own bouncy, silly dog, Maximus) made me laugh not just because of the humor, but because it was dead-on accurate. How many of us have dogs who can smell when we’ve done the horizontal bop, and seem to judge us for it? How many of us with dogs ever get to go to the restroom without an audience?

I also liked Nola’s relationship with Harrison, the cop handling her case. Hardly the stuff of romance novels, it was very much an exploration of how grown-ups respond to chemistry and attraction – sometimes lovely, sometimes awkward, and often frustrating.

The mystery plot was also well-constructed. What seemed at first like yet another embezzlement story ended up touring three cultures: biotech, e-commerce, and Chinese-Americans. All three were fairly represented, and the combination was compelling and interesting all the way through.

This book has a tag implying that Ms. Russell might write more of Nola’s story.
I really hope that’s true.

Goes well with: Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl, and a chilled Anchor Steam beer.

89 Books

I did a wrap-up post with some of my favorite reads from 2010 a week or so ago, but I never posted my 2010 tally.

According to my reading log, between paper, kindle and various other electronics, I managed to read 89 books in 2010, which isn’t horrible, but I was shooting for 100.

Of course, I didn’t read much in February, August or December.

I read 85 books in 2009, or at least, I logged 85 reads, so at least there was some improvement, although my 2009 reading was better balanced, with most months having at least six titles.

I don’t make resolutions; I don’t believe in them, but I do believe in goals. So my goal for 2011 is to read 100 books.

So far, I’ve already read seven, six of which are on my new list, which isn’t a bad beginning, since we’re only nine days into the month AND I’ve been sick.