We’re starting off the month with a book that gets a rare 5-star rating. Book Worm reviews White Tears by Hari Kunzru. Keep reading to see what she thought. Read more
After a few weeks focused on wrapping up our winter challenge and setting up the spring challenge, we have finally got back in the groove of reviewing books again. Book Worm and I have been consumed by both challenges and reading through Infinite Jest which is tons of fun but impacting all our other reading. Book Worm is leading us off with a review of The Lonely Hearts Hotel, a book that others either seem to love or hate. Which side do you think you will fall into? Check out BW’s review. Read more
Looking for a thrilling escapist read? Book Worm may have the book for you. Check out her review of The Devil’s Prayer by Luke Gracias. One reviewer calls it a “faustian tale on steroids.” Read more
The Terranauts by T.C Boyle
Published in: 2016
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Find it here: The Terranauts
This ARC was provided by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis from Goodreads: A powerful, affecting and hilarious deep-dive into human behavior in an intimate and epic story of science, society, sex, and survival, set in the early 1990s, from one of the greatest American novelists today.
It is 1994, and in the desert near Tillman, Arizona, forty miles from Tucson, a grand experiment involving the future of humanity is underway. As climate change threatens the earth, eight scientists, four men and four women dubbed the “Terranauts,” have been selected to live under glass in E2, a prototype of a possible off-earth colony. Their sealed, three-acre compound comprises five biomes—rainforest, savanna, desert, ocean and marsh—and enough wildlife, water, and vegetation to sustain them.
Closely monitored by an all-seeing Mission Control, this New Eden is the brainchild of eco-visionary Jeremiah Reed, aka G.C.—“God the Creator”—for whom the project is both an adventure in scientific discovery and a momentous publicity stunt. In addition to their roles as medics, farmers, biologists, and survivalists, his young, strapping Terranauts must impress watchful visitors and a skeptical media curious to see if E2’s environment will somehow be compromised, forcing the Ecosphere’s seal to be broken—and ending the mission in failure. As the Terranauts face increased scrutiny and a host of disasters, both natural and of their own making, their mantra: “Nothing in, nothing out,” becomes a dangerously ferocious rallying cry.
Told through three distinct narrators—Dawn Chapman, the mission’s pretty young ecologist; Linda Ryu, her bitter, scheming best friend passed over for E2; and Ramsay Roothorp, E2’s sexually irrepressible Wildman—The Terranauts brings to life an electrifying, pressured world in which connected lives are uncontrollably pushed to the breaking point. With characteristic humor and acerbic wit, T. C. Boyle indelibly inhabits the perspectives of the various players in this survivalist game, probing their motivations and illuminating their integrity and fragility to illustrate the inherent fallibility of human nature itself. Read more
In less than two weeks, we’ll be starting our winter reading challenge. Our challenge page is currently up and in the next 5 days we’ll be updating the page with our official game board. If you want to join in for a fun chutes and ladders based reading game, sign up in the comments on this page and send me your TBR list. In the meantime, we’ll continue with our regular book reviews and features. Book Worm read a book she would like to recommend to our readers: The Power by Naomi Alderman. Here’s her review… Read more
Jodi Picoult’s book is a timely release since it tackles issues of racism in America. Book Worm reviewed the book and here are her thoughts… Read more
Don DeLillo has several books on the 1001 list and a few of us predicted that his latest book would make the Man Booker longlist. One of our contributors hated the book and another contributor loved it. Let us know what you thought of it. Here’s my (Book Worm’s) review of the book. Read more
I was hoping to get to this book so that Book Worm and I could post a joint review. Unfortunately life got in the way and I stunningly have read nothing in the last week. I have been working out some details for our next reading challenge so stay tuned to learn more about that (coming very soon). I’ve never been a huge fan of Zadie Smith’s work. I think she is brilliant and clearly very intelligent but I’ve never really connected with her novels. Keep reading to see Book Worm’s review of Zadie Smith’s newest book coming out this month. Read more
Under a Pole Star by Stef Penney
Published in: 2016
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Find it here: Under a Pole Star
This ARC was provided by Quercus Books (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.
Summary from Goodreads: Flora Mackie was twelve when she first crossed the Arctic Circle on her father’s whaling ship. Now she is returning to the frozen seas as the head of her own exploration expedition. Jakob de Beyn was raised in Manhattan, but his yearning for new horizons leads him to the Arctic as part of a rival expedition. When he and Flora meet, all thoughts of science and exploration give way before a sudden, all-consuming love.
The affair survives the growing tensions between the two groups, but then, after one more glorious summer on the Greenland coast, Jakob joins his leader on an extended trip into the interior, with devastating results.
The stark beauty of the Arctic ocean, where pack ice can crush a ship like an eggshell, and the empty sweep of the tundra, alternately a snow-muffled wasteland and an unexpectedly gentle meadow, are vividly evoked. Against this backdrop Penney weaves an irresistible love story, a compelling look at the dark side of the golden age of exploration, and a mystery that Flora, returning one last time to the North Pole as an old woman, will finally lay to rest.
Book Worm’s Thoughts: Having read and enjoyed The Tenderness of Wolves, I was excited to read this latest book by Stef Penney. Although it sells itself as a romance novel, that aspect of the book was actually the least interesting for me. The best parts were the details of exploration and survival.
Under a Pole Star is set in the early days of Artic exploration when the pole was yet to be discovered and there were miles of land just waiting to be claimed by the plucky British or Americans (yep they totally disregarded any claim that the native people might have to the land).
The frozen landscape is central to the story, showing how hardy the Inuit have to be to survive there year round and how tough the conditions are on those who are not native to the land. It also shows how English and American greed leads to tragedy for everyone involved with the exploration.
The book is scattered with Inuit words and with details and images of the stars used for navigation. This is an ambitious book that doesn’t really deliver on the romance, but that transported me to the frozen lands of the North.
Who would enjoy this? This is a long and detailed book so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone looking for a light romance, instead if you are interested in details about polar exploration and survival with romance as a sideline then this could be the book for you.
Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: Under a Pole Star
We want to hear from you. Do you plan to read this book? Why or why not?