>> Sunday, June 10, 2012
TITLE: If It Ain't Love (free download)
AUTHOR: Tamara Allen
I've always meant to try Tamara Allen, and this short story, currently free in e-format, sounded good. It's set in New York, during the worst of the Great Depression, a setting you don't see often (well, ever). Journalist Whit has lost his mojo. He used to write Pulitzer-winning stories, but he hasn't been able to turn in anything of even adequate quality for a long time. As a result, he's homeless and peniless. One night, while getting ready to go to sleep in a flophouse, he meets the suspiciously well-dressed Peter. Peter it turns out, is about to be evicted from his lovely big house in the best part of town. And he's clearly got secrets.
I really enjoyed this. I was a bit doubtful about the setting, but even though Allen pulls no punches and really shows the misery such a huge number of people were living in, she manages to make her story hopeful, rather than depressing. She does so while being believable, as well. And I liked the sweet, tender romance, but it wasn't perfect. Allen left me wanting more, and with unanswered questions about the main characters. Still, I really liked this, and will definitely read more.
MY GRADE: A B.
TITLE: Packing For Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
AUTHOR: Mary Roach
Roach takes a humorous and fascinating look at space travel. From the first animals in space to the possibility of setting up in Mars, she looks at it all. I was especially struck by the chapters in which she examines the practicalities of living in zero gravity. I've never thought about it much, really, but pretty much everything is affected: bodily functions don't work as they do on Earth and things that would normally be a tiny annoyance, at best (like crumbs), become a hazard. Those chapters were definitely my favourites, even if with some of them, I had to be very sure I wasn't eating while I was reading!
It's quite a funny book, although Roach's voice is one you need to get used to. I didn't completely love it, and I think it might have grated a bit on a longer book, but it worked out ok. She's got some really fascinating-sounding books, and I liked her mix of nitty-gritty, science, history and quirky anecdotes, so I think I'll be picking those up.
MY GRADE: A B.