Ever Since Darwin - Stephen Jay Gould
I've had this on my shelf for something close to 20 years, and never managed to read it until now. I finally "forced" myself by offering it on BookRelay - once it was accepted, and I knew I'd have to send it to someone else, I had an incentive to sit down and work my way through. And I'm really glad I did . . . this was a fascinating collection of essays about Darwin's theory and its far-reaching effects - on topics from plate tectonics to genetics to racism to taxonomy to studies of other planets in our solar system. It did take me longer to get through than most books, because I actually had to pay close attention, which is not the case with some of the fluff I usually read. :D I think the most interesting thing about the book was the way Gould talks about scientists, and the role of science in culture . . . science is *not* (as many would like to believe) just a cold, uninterested study of facts. Scientists bring their own biases and worldviews to the table with them, and it has a huge effect on the results that are produced. Also, since the book is several years old, I'm interesting in learning about more current research in some of the areas he discussed. A great book, well worth reading (at least for a wanna-be science geek like myself). 10/10 (was PC, now relayed).
TickTock - Dean Koontz
This is the first of Koontz' books I've read in about a decade . . . he was one of my favourite authors for a while, but then I started to feel many of his books were a too similar to one another, so I stopped reading him. I read this book because it's the first selection for my new BookCrossing Meet-up book discussion group, which just so happened to meet earlier this evening.
I enjoyed it. Synopsis - a man comes home to find a strange rag doll on his porch. He brings it inside, and it starts to change . . . soon, he finds himself on the run, and in the company of a very unusual young woman who is also (fortunately) pretty savvy when it comes to survival skills. Great characters . . . I liked Tommy (and really couldn't figure out what he'd done to deserve what happens to him - it's quite funny, really, when we find out at the end why it all happened), and Del is like a grown-up Luna Lovegood. It was a fast read . . . scary at first, but I felt like Koontz paced the terror well. It was never too intense, and there is a lot of humor. Koontz himself calls this a cross between horror and a "screwball comedy." (Purchased used, will release somewhere on Halloween)
Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris
The first in the "Southern Vampire" series. I really enjoyed this book. In it, vampires have come "out of the coffin" and are now existing openly in society, but they're still not always accepted, especially in rural Louisiana. Barmaid Sookie Stackhouse, though, is interested in them, partly because she's "different" from the rest of the people she knows because of telepathic abilities which have made her life difficult. When Sookie meets a vampire named Bill, she's especially interested in him because she can't read his thoughts . . . which is quite a relief. But when women start turning up murdered, it's easy to wonder if maybe having a vampire for a boyfriend isn't the greatest idea after all. The book was funny, and sweet, and not as "sexy" as some of the others in the genre . . . Sookie is positively prudish compared to some of her counterparts in other vampire books I've read lately. I also enjoyed the way the author portrayed the vampires as noticeably more brutal (at times) than the humans. It is a murder mystery, which I solved very early on, but there were still a few unexpected twists that made it fun. Plus, an appearance by an undead Elvis. :D 8/10 (BookRelay, will be released on Halloween).
The Shipping News - Annie Proulx
Interesting, low key, beautifully written, although in a somewhat unusual style - short sentences, short chapters, almost choppy, but somehow *not*. (I'm not sure that makes any sense, but I can't think of another way to say it ::grin::). About a man who has been unsuccessful with both career and relationships, and takes his two young children to Newfoundland in search of a new start. Somewhat slow paced (no rollercoaster ride), but very rich in a quiet way. The story just kept moving steadily along as it follows the transformation of this man's life. Apparently they made a film, but I'm not sure I want to see it. Kevin Spacy and Julianne Moore are definitely not anywhere CLOSE to the way I pictured the two main characters while I was reading. Unless they did amazing things with makeup and facial prosthetics, anyway. A good read, but not a book I loved enough to rave about as I've heard so many others do. It is a lovely portrait of life in a culture fairly removed from my own, which is one of the things I really enjoyed about it. 8/10. (Purchased new, will bookcross).
Grave Secrets - Kathy Reichs
This is the first of Reichs' books that I've read, although this was at one time my favourite genre . . . forensic anthropology/pathology (I've read almost all the Kay Scarpetta books, plus a number of others that were similar). I chose to read this book now because one of my LJ bookclubs has Reichs as the featured author this month, and it was an interesting read. Lots of science (including a bit about stem cell research, which happens to be an issue on the ballot this year, at least in California). I liked the characters, although I didn't *love* them . . . the main character, Tempe Brennan, seemed to me to be a bit "blah," and one of the men in her life, Ryan, just annoyed the hell out of me. I also found the ending a bit anti-climactic, somehow, even though I wasn't able to solve the mystery. (Of course, part of the fun of these books is that you *can't* solve the mystery . . . at least not before the pathologist does, since her job is to uncover the clues. ::grin::). A decent read, but not particularly inspired. 7/10 (Purchased used; will release)