Read-a-Thon Reviews

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-24-2002
Read-a-Thon Reviews
Sat, 06-15-2013 - 11:15am

The read-a-thon starts today! Post your read-a-thon reviews in this thread. If you have trouble posting, trying giong through this link:

If you can NOT post and you have reviews, please email me at , and I will post them for you. 

Remember to post the review number before each book reviewed, you may post multiple books in one post.

Happy Reading!!!


iVillage Member
Registered: 01-28-2000
Fri, 06-28-2013 - 10:33am

Read-a thon Review #1

The Midnight Road by Tom Piccarilli

Book description:

From the moment he saw the girl in the snowstorm, Flynn had less than an hour to live. But he’ll remember his last fifty minutes long after he’s dead. As an investigator for Suffolk County Child Protective Services, Flynn has seen more than his share of misery, but nothing could prepare him for the nightmare inside the Shepards’ million-dollar Long Island home. In less than an hour, that nightmare will send him plunging into a frozen harbor—and awaken him to a reality even more terrifying.

They’ve nicknamed Flynn “The Miracle Man” because few have ever been resuscitated after being dead so long. But a determined homicide detective and a beautiful, inquis’t done itive reporter have questions about what really happened at the Shepard house—and why the people around Flynn are suddenly being murdered. Flynn has questions of his own, especially when one of the victims dies while handing him a note: THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT. Flynn has returned from the Midnight Road—and someone wants to send him back.


This was OK, not a waste of time, but it became annoying after a while. At first I sometimes thought I was reading a book by Dean Koontz – no wonder that the book is dedicated to Koontz - but although the style is quite similar, the novel isn’t a good imitation. Flynn and other characters weren’t believable, and his references to “theLong Island Sound” showed that he hadn’t even bothered to look at a map or to speak to people who live in the area.

Ignoring the annoying aspects, I was able to appreciate it as a fast-paced story with lots of plot twists, but I felt let down by the ending.





Read-a thon Review #2

Gateway by Frederik Pohl

Book description:

Gateway opened on all the wealth of the Universe...and on reaches of unimaginable horror. When prospector Bob Broadhead went out to Gateway on the Heechee spacecraft, he decided he would know which was the right mission to make him his fortune. Three missions later, now famous and permanently rich, Robinette Broadhead has to face what happened to him and what he a journey into himself as perilous and even more horrifying than the nightmare trip through the interstellar void that he drove himself to take!


Outstanding! I first read this s/f classic many years ago, forgot it over the years, and loved the re-read. The story line alternates between Robinette’s experiences in space and his sessions with a robot psychotherapist back on Earth. With excellent descriptions, without being overly-detailed, it’s full of suspense. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.





iVillage Member
Registered: 08-11-2008
Fri, 06-28-2013 - 4:43pm

Read- a thon Review #6

6. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Nail Gaiman 181 pages 6/28/13 pub 2013 I am predisposed to love this: I went to see the author be interviewed, to answer questions, to read from this and his book coming out in September, to get this and another book autographed to benefit an independent bookstore opening a new location, where there hasn’t been a bookstore since Border’s closed and to benefit my public radio station. Whew! And love it I did. It’s short, but it’s not simple. Its narrator is seven years old, but it’s an adult book. (Northshire Bookstore event in Saratoga, where Neil Gaiman was interviewed by Joe Donahue from WAMC for “The Book Show,” answered questions from the audience, and I got this and another book autographed. I asked him who he would like to play The Doctor next and he told me he wants the new Doctor to be someone who will surprise him! No pronouns. I also bought another copy of this book from SFBC, which came 6/24/13.)

Read- a thon Review #5

5. The River of Doubt by Candice Millard 416 pages 6/24/13 pub 2005  I didn’t like this book. I thought I’d read my customary 50 pages and give it up, but then I was on page 100. I kept thinking I would put it aside, then I looked down and had read 300 pages of its 350 page narrative. So, Teddy Roosevelt lost big when he ran for president, after serving two terms, on the Bull Moose Party. He decided to go to the Amazon. He put a failed Arctic explorer in charge as quartermaster. He had a bigoted, creature comfort- loving priest picking the itinerary. Once he got to the Amazon, someone suggested they explore instead the previously unexplored River of Doubt, which is what they did. I didn’t like the book, because this was such an ill-fated, ill-conceived, monumental f&#k up of a trip, that was nearly fatal for Roosevelt and his adult son and most of the other people on the voyage with them, several times over.(Interlibrary loan, read for Messy Housekeepers BC 6/26/13, bringing Brazil nuts, because it’s one of the few foods this underprepared, underprovisioned expeditions down a 1,000 mile tributary of the Amazon River could find in the jungle, sometimes. Also bringing frozen pureed fruits.)

Read- a thon Review #4

4. “Elm Circle” by Mick Casale 52 pages 6/24/13 pub 1984  I was under the gun, reading this play before I was to have a presentation on it. It’s about bullying? I didn’t see that. Suicide and mental illness, sure, and even abuse and toxic family relationships, yeah. It’s set in Troy, NY, and that’s not something I see every day. I should reread it.

Read- a thon Review #3

3. “Over the River and Through the Woods” by Joe De Piero 53 pages 6/24/13 pub 1997  I liked this play about two sets of Italian grandparents and their adult grandson. It’s very funny at the beginning and becomes heartfelt at the end. There are very nice monologues, as well as scenes for most of the cast.

Read- a thon Review #2

2. Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman 365 pages ~6/ 22/13 pub 1998  Tonight I’m going to hear Neil Gaiman be interviewed in Saratoga, for WAMC and the new Northshire Bookstore opening there, so I got the nine ten books I own by Gaiman that I could find last night. I get to bring one from home to be autographed, as well as getting the new novel autographed. I’m bringing “Day of the Dead” an annotated script from “Babylon 5,” that I found in a Halifax science fiction and comic book store. Why reread this book of short stories? It has one of my favorite short stories “Chivalry,” which was also on “Selected Shorts.” “The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories,” among other things is about a trip Neil Gaiman takes to Los Angeles. He stays at the unnamed Chateau Marmont, while taking sequentially more bizarre meetings with Hollywood types about a novel he’d written about the children of Manson, but the neat part of the story is Pious Dundas who works at the hotel and remembers all the silent movie stars who used to stay at the hotel. “Changes” is about the scientist who finds a cure for cancer, but the cure makes people transgendered. “Only the End of the World Again” and “Bay Wolf” feature Lawrence Talbot, that is the werewolf in the original movie “Wolfman.” In the first, he’s a sort of detective, the second is verse and a retelling of “Beowulf.” (Reread, I own it.)

Read- a thon Review #1

1. The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin 184 pages 6/19/13 pub 1971, 1999 “The end justifies the means. But what if there never is an end? All we have is means.” (83) “Orr sat awhile, shoulders slumped.  He wanted to yell at Haber, ‘Liar! Why do you lie to me?’ But the impulse was not a deep one.” (87) I loved rereading this dense dystopian novel, that just keeps getting worse. George Orr (a riff on George Orwell?) has dreams that come true and change reality. He is assigned a psychiatrist, Haber, who tells him what to dream, and to this reader he makes things much worse. But the psychiatrist becomes hugely successful, for a time.(Borders 4/23/11 $3.19 Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel (1972), Nebula Award Nominee for Novel (1971), Locus Award for Best Novel (1972), Ditmar Award Nominee for Best International Long Fiction (1972))



iVillage Member
Registered: 01-28-2000
Wed, 07-03-2013 - 12:42pm

Read-a Thon Review #3

The Walnut Tree by Martha Blum

Sussel is a well to do young woman in Chernowitz, known as "little Vienna." She studies languages and pharmacy in several universities in Europe and is looking forward to a full and privileged life. But World War II completely overturns everyone's lives, as first the Russians and then the Germans overtake Chernowitz, rounding up all Jews for work camps and even execution. Sussel is forced to use her pharmaceutical skills, and even sex, to save her own life and those of her father and her childhood suitor, Max.

The Walnut Tree sets the devastating power of historical events against the personal forces of reconciliation and enduring love. This powerful, disturbing and finally transcendent story is written with captivating detail and sensuous, often poetic, writing. The novel deals with vital social, political, and ethical issues, and finally, and most importantly, with love.


This is semi-autobiographical, as I learned from reading Blum’s biography. Some of the events occurring to Sussel’s friends in the novel actually occurred to Blum or her own family. Other characters are purely fiction, but similar people and events certainly existed during the period and locations described in this work.

I’d heard of Martha Blum as a prominent poet and writer in Saskatoon (2 ½ hours north of me), and she won awards in Saskatchewan and Canada, but I’d never read any of her writing. Now I hope to read more of her poems and stories.


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-11-2008
Wed, 07-03-2013 - 1:16pm

Read- a- thon Review #7

The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan 293 pages 7/3/13 pub 2011

‘“It’s official,” Harley said. “They killed the Berliner two nights ago. You’re the last.” Then after a pause: “I’m sorry.”’ (3)

So begins this literary novel about a werewolf. Jake Marlowe is alone and introspective about it, he’s 201 years old in March and contemplating suicide. The Hunt of WOCOP (World Organization for the Control of Occult Phenomena) has been too successful at its mission. But along the way he is kidnapped by rogue vampires, then kidnapped by rogue WOCOP members and he has his own agency and abilities as well. Jake isn’t a good man, he would be the first to say so, he’s a killer, a murderer, biology necessitates it, and he’s profane, again biology. This isn’t a sexy book, the sex here is rough, to put it mildly, again some won’t like this. But Jake’s story is compelling reading. I am eager to read the next book in the series. (Or are there two already?) (Community Library, recommended by Emily Crow from the Odyssey Bookshop 5/1/12, Joan Renier from Odyssey Bookshop 6/21/11, YA Quarterly Challenge #10, traveling, if traveling means kidnapping and running for your life.)



iVillage Member
Registered: 08-11-2008
Fri, 07-05-2013 - 8:05pm

Read- a- thon Review #8

The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to his White Mother by James McBride 291 pages 7/4/13 pub 1996

I appreciated finishing this dual memoir, or autobiography and biography of James McBride and his mother, who he knew as a child as Mommy to his eleven siblings, was called Ruth McBride Jordan, but she was born Rachel Deborah Shilsky in Poland to an Orthodox rabbi who molested and abused her and her meek mother with polio on Independence Day. As soon as Ruth could she escaped her father and went to live with her mother’s sisters in New York City. It was there, or rather in Harlem, that she discovered herself, and in doing so, gave up all ties to her parents’ family and religion. The title of the book is comes from an exchange when young James asks his mother God’s color. ‘”What color is God’s spirit?” “It doesn’t have a color,” she said. “God is the color of water. Water doesn’t have a color.”’(51)



iVillage Member
Registered: 08-11-2008
Sat, 07-06-2013 - 11:09am

Read- a- thon Review #9

Monument 14: Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne 215 pages 7/5/13 pub 2013

Well, that was annoying; I read book number two in this two book series before reading the first book. But here’s the crazy part: I thought it was authorial choices, putting me in media res, rather than me coming into the story halfway through. I still liked it!

Brothers Dean and Alex, and twelve other kids, including some very young ones, are trapped in a Wal Mart- like superstore, when there’s a monster hailstorm and terrifying chemical spill. Or rather, Dean is with a teenage girl and three little kids in the store. Meanwhile, Alex and seven other kids, have set off to Denver International Airport in a school bus, because one of their group has been shot.(library book, 50 States+ YA Challenge, Colorado, YA Challenge #10, YALSA list, Suzanna Herman at Oblong Books recommended it 7/2/13)



iVillage Member
Registered: 08-11-2008
Wed, 07-10-2013 - 7:40pm

Read a thon Review #13

93. “Manny and Jake” by Harvey Fierstein 12 pages 7/9/13 pub Two handsome men discuss prayer, whether they should have sex and safe sex on a white couch. I like it better than the one act play “Safe Sex,” but that’s not saying much.

Read a thon Review #12

92. “On Tidy Endings” by Harvey Fierstein 33 pages 7/9/13 pub This is far and away the best of the three plays called “Safe Sex.” It’s about Marion and Arthur. Her ex-husband and his boyfriend has just died from AIDS. Marion and Colin have a 9 year old son, who wants nothing to do with Arthur. It’s quite good.

Read a thon Review #11

91. “Safe Sex” by Harvey Fierstein 7/9/13 pub A discussion/ fight that a gay couple Ghee and Mead have about sex, safe sex and intimacy, while they sit, lie, and stand on a teeter totter.

Read a thon Review #10

90. Spellcrossed by Barbara Ashford 435 pages 7/9/13 pub 2012 Spellcrossed and Spellcast (the first book in the hopefully ongoing and longlasting series) are quite like the Canadian tv series set at a Shakespeare festival “Slings and Arrows.” Both are laugh out loud funny, sweet, set in theater companies, and involve stage magic and magic magic. This novel, like its predecessor, is set at a summer stock/ community theater company in Vermont that features musicals prominently. The season depicted in this novel Crossroads Theater produces “Annie,” The Secret Garden,” and “Into the Woods.” Like “Slings and Arrows” the themes of the season are also the themes of the novel: each is about creating family where none exist, creating reality and wishing, which is what I say about the plays, not what Maggie says. I keep a list of quotes I find while I’m reading, usually, but forgot, or maybe just imagined that paragraph, apparently. I couldn’t find it after finishing the book. This is a delightful novel.(Bought at Flights of Fantasy 7/1/13 for $7.99, new and autographed!)



iVillage Member
Registered: 01-28-2000
Thu, 07-11-2013 - 11:24am

Read-a Thon Review #4

The Woman Who Died a Lot by Jasper Fforde

Book Description:

The newest tour de force starring Thursday Next in the New York Timesbestselling series

The Bookworld’s leading enforcement officer, Thursday Next, has been forced into a semiretirement following an assassination attempt, returning home to Swindon and her family to recuperate.

But Thursday’s children have problems that demand she become a mother of invention: Friday’s career struggles in the Chronoguard, where he is relegated to a might-have-been; Tuesday’s trouble perfecting the Anti-Smote shield, needed in time to thwart an angry Deity’s promise to wipe Swindon off the face of the earth; and the issue of Thursday’s third child, Jenny, who doesn’t exist except as a confusing and disturbing memory.

With Goliath attempting to replace Thursday at every opportunity with synthetic Thursdays, and a call from the Bookworld to hunt down Pagerunners who have jumped into the Realworld, Thursday’s convalescence is going to be anything but restful as the week ahead promises to be one of the Next family’s oddest.

I’ve read two of the earlier books in the Thursday Next series, so I was expecting to read more of her adventures in the Bookworld. This is a different adventure, focusing on her efforts to save her town from destruction by a Smiting, and to save the Earth from destruction by an asteroid strike.

There’s lots of action, surprises, multiple synthetic versions of Thursday and others. Fforde has also included enough character development into this novel so that I could imagine how Thursday and her family might have felt at certain points, and how I might have felt if I lived in such a strange world.


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-11-2008
Tue, 07-16-2013 - 3:22pm

Read a thon #17

97. Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne 296 pages 7/14/13 pub 2012

Where book #2 was told from the alternating viewpoints of Dean and Alex, this novel is just from Dean’s POV. Dean likes to write in a journal longhand, a trait that serves him well when the Network, a system of National Connectivity that was “infallible,” fails. There’s a tsunami that has taken out the East Coast, a hailstorm that crippled busses and cars, and NORAD releases chemical gasses that make people either into raving mad people, sterile, or cover them in sores, based on blood type. These fourteen kids are left in a Wal Mart- like superstore by their courageous bus driver Mrs. Walley.

I really enjoyed this.

(Interlibrary loan, YA Quarterly Challenge #10,YALSA list, 50 States Challenge, Colorado, Oblong Books 7/2/13, also 7/11/12, Suzanna Herman)

Read a thon #16

96. How do You Spell G*e*e*k*? by Julie Anne Peters 139 pages 7/14/13 pub 1996 Just because an author whose books I like is on a shelf at the library, doesn’t mean I’m going to love each book by the author. This is middle grade book and about three girls competing in the state spelling bee. Ho- hum.(Community Library.)

Read a thon #15

95. Not that Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian 322 pages 7/12/13 pub 2012 I guess I’m not that kind of reader, this book listed as a YA feminist novel, and it is, but it doesn’t have much else going for it. Natalie, the protagonist, has a lot going for her, but mostly she’s controlling, insufferable, and a judgmental jerk.(Interlibrary loan, from a short list of YA feminist novels, )

Read a thon #14

94. The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family by Josh Hanagarne 291 pages 7/11/13 pub 2013

 I quite enjoyed reading the memoir of this Mormon, weightlifter with Tourette’s, who is also a husband and father. It’s not my first nonfiction about a relatively well- adjusted Mormon, that would be The Book of Mormon Girl. He works at the beautiful Salt Lake City Public Library.

“I work here because I love books, because I’m inveterately curious, qand because, like most librarians, I’m not well suited to anything else. As a breed, we’re the ultimate generalists. I’ll never know everything about anything, but I’ll know something about almost everything and that’s how I like to live.” (3)

(ARC from Amazon Vine 4/28/13)


iVillage Member
Registered: 01-28-2000
Thu, 07-18-2013 - 11:08am

Read-a-Thon Review #5

Equilateral by Ken Kalfus

Book Description:

Equilateralis an intellectual comedy set just before the turn of the (last) century in Egypt. A British astronomer, Thayer, high on Darwin and other progressive scientists of the age, has come to believe that beings more highly evolved than us are alive on Mars (he has evidence) and that there will be a perfect moment in which we can signal to them that we are here too. He gets the support and funding for a massive project to build the Equilateral, a triangle with sides hundreds of miles long, in the desert of Egypt in time for that perfect window. But as work progresses, the Egyptian workers, less evolved than the British, are also less than cooperative, and a bout of malaria that seems to activate at the worst moments makes it all much more confusing and complex than Thayer ever imagined. We see Thayer also through the eyes of two women--a triangle of another sort--a romantic one that involves a secretary who looks after Thayer but doesn't suffer fools, and Binta, a houseservant he covets but can't communicate with--and through them we catch sight of the depth of self-delusion and the folly of the enterprise.
Equilateralis written with a subtle, sly humor, but it's also a model of reserve and historical accuracy; it's about many things, including Empire and colonization and exploration; it's about "the other" and who that other might be. We would like to talk to the stars, and yet we can barely talk to each other.

Kalfus uses the late 19thcentury fascination with Mars as a foundation for this pointed commentary about colonization, delusion, and communication. Rather than finding “subtle, sly humor”, I found the novel to become increasingly dark. The ending was inevitable, but it was handled in a surprising way. This is an outstanding novel – one of my favourites of this year.