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Display Name: Marsap

Marsap's Book Lists
100+ Book Challenge 2014 (105 titles)

100+ book challenge 2013 (53 titles)

Book challenge 2011-2012 (62 titles)


Marsap's Comments    
Cover ArtThe fire
by Neville, Katherine, 1945-
The Fire is the sequel to the Eight, a novel that featured two intertwined stories set in the 1790s and the 1970s, both revolving around the Monteglane Service. The Fire takes place about 30 years later. The focus continues to be this bejeweled chess set, a gift from the Moors to Emperor Charlemagne, which holds great power and some additional secrets and powers that were not revealed In the first novel. The Fire finds Alexandra Solarin, a former child chess prodigy who gave up the game after her father’s murder, summoned to her mother’s (Cat Valis the protagonist from the Eight) home in Colorado. Her mother is missing, but carefully encoded clues, and the arrival of several other people place her smack dab in the middle of the Game’s newest round, forcing her to decipher both the rules and the roles of others as she goes. The action moves to Washington, DC, Jackson Hole, Kamchatka, and back in time to France, the Sahara, and the Greek islands where we find Lord Byron and Tallyrand, among others, involved in the intrigue. Similar to the Eight, the novel intertwines this plot with one involving a young girl in 1822 named Haidee, faced with a parallel challenge involving the great English poet Lord Byron and the Black Queen chess piece from the Monteglane Services. One problem that I had with reading this sequel was that it had been a year since I had read the Eight and I had a hard time remembering all the history/plot from that novel that impacted this sequel. As with the Eight I found this book to be difficult to read and had a hard time keeping track of all the players (even more so than last time)—again, it would have been helpful to have some additional appendixes to keep track of characters, historical time frame and some scientific history. Also I found it difficult to believe some of the plot twists, and the final “reveal” was really disappointing. All in all it was an interesting but difficult read. 3 out of 5 stars.   posted Jul 3, 2014 at 3:19PM

Cover ArtDeath angel
by Fairstein, Linda A.
In the newest Alex Cooper mystery, the body of a young woman is discovered in Central Park. Is the body found in the lake, by the Bethesda angel, the first victim of a deranged psychopath, or is the case connected to other missing girls and women in years past whose remains have never been found? Just as Alex, Mike and Mercer get their first lead, the investigation is almost derailed when Mike and Alex become embroiled in a scandal (following Mike’s indiscretion with a mentally unstable judge). Working to identify the woman and to determine whether a serial killer is on the loose, the trio must search Central Park’s vast reaches, with its many hidden lakes, waterfalls, and caves. The mystery takes some interesting turns, including carrying several different story lines: the homeless, a missing child, murder, stalkers, a bit of romance, the history and geography of Central Park and the iconic Dakota apartment building. I have read many of the Alex Cooper mystery and as always, my favorite part is history lesson that Fairstein gives about the main locations/sites of the book, in this case Central Park and the Dakota. I have been to Central Park a number of times and it was fun to know exactly where in the Park the action was taking. I am unsure where the series is going now that Fairstein has introduced a romance between the main characters of Alex and Mike—it felt a little forced. All in all a good read. 3 out of 5 stars.   posted Jul 3, 2014 at 2:34PM

Cover ArtQuiet : the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking
by Cain, Susan
In non-fiction novel Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we undervalue introvert personality type and how much we lose by doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert type (the culture of personality) throughout the 20th century and explores how deeply it has come to be the “ideal” our culture. The Extrovert Ideal, Cain believes, is so pervasive that influences our work performance, educational policies, political choices, and even the country's financial health. But the main focus of "Quiet" is to expose the myths and misunderstandings that were born when we as a culture embraced the Extrovert Ideal and turned introversion into a malady needs to be avoided. Ms. Cain traces both the biological and cultural basis for introversion and extroversion and their role as evolutionary survival strategies in animals and humans. The insights gleaned from these studies can help introverts take advantage of their special traits and thrive on their own terms in an extroverted world. Amid the research and the advice, Ms. Cain calls attention to those introverts who have made a difference in the world like Rosa Parks and Ghandi. They showed that empathy, thoughtfulness, persistence, compassion, focus and conscientiousness, all characteristics ascribed to introversion, are leadership attributes too. As a life-long introvert (I spent most social functions as a child in a chair reading a book) I really enjoyed this book—easy to read but at the same time well researched and thorough. The book is not an “introverts are superior” rant but rather an explanation of how we can leverage personality types most effectively. There is no right or best personality type but like life in general, we need to understand each other for more harmonious relationships. 4 out of 5 stars.   posted Jun 19, 2014 at 11:19AM

Cover ArtThe technologists : a novel
by Pearl, Matthew.
Matthew Pearl's The Technologists is the fictional story of several students of the inaugural class of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as they race to stop a mad man from destroying Boston. The novel opens with the events of a mysterious harbor disaster as boat crew mates and sailors find their compasses going haywire. Shortly after, another unexplainable catastrophe occurs; all the glass within the financial district of Boston inexplicably melts, disfiguring many and killing a young actress. The police are at a loss of just what is happening. Enter the “Technologists”--Marcus Mansfield, Robert (Bob) Richards, Edwin Hoyt, members of the inaugural class of MIT who take it upon themselves to discover what is causing these acts of terror—hopefully saving their city and their beloved MIT. Pearl introduces the reader to the public’s feeling about science and the Industrial Age, the education of women, the aftermath of the Civil War and rivalry between Harvard and MIT. I have enjoyed Pearl’s previous novels that have included historical figures into the narrative (Longfellow, Poe, Dickens) and looked forward to reading his newest. However, I came away disappointed. Despite being classified as a thriller, I found this novel to be slow and plodding, and almost had to force myself to finish. 1 out of 5 stars.   posted Jun 16, 2014 at 11:26AM

Cover ArtThe namesake
by Lahiri, Jhumpa.
The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their traditional life in Calcutta through their and their children’s (specifically their son Gogol) transformation into Americans. The novel moves back and forth from the perspective of the parents to those of the son. On the heels of their arranged wedding, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle together in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An engineer by training, Ashoke adapts far less warily than his wife, who resists all things American and pines for her family. When their son is born, the task of naming him relies on Indian tradition, with Ashoke and Ashima waiting for a name to be chosen by her mother who is still back in India. When the name doesn't arrive, the two new parents quickly choose the name Gogol, in tribute to one of Ashoke's favorite Russian author (and a significant character in Ashoke’s past). But Gogol hates his name, and the Bengali traditions that are forced on him since childhood. The reader follows him through adolescence into adulthood where his history and his family affect his relationships with others particularly his parents and of course women. This novel presents an exploration of the immigrant experience, but the lessons are universal... Anyone who has ever been ashamed of their parents, felt the guilty pull of duty, questioned their own identity, or fallen in love, will identify with these intermingling lives. I found this book to be beautifully written without being pretentious or overly self-aware. I found myself not wanting it to end. 4 ½ out of 5 stars.   posted Jun 12, 2014 at 3:52PM

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