Monday, May 31, 2010

Book Buzz: Gravity by Tess Gerritsen

Imagine that somebody wrote a novel about your workplace and got it right on, and then added a twist, and a turn, a biohazard, some romance, and a smattering of sci-fi. Yeah. That's what I was reading over Memorial Day weekend. Good stuff, right here.

Wow! A friend of mine, both an avid reader and fellow NASA contractor, put this one in my hands. Gravity was published in 1999 so I was late to this party, but it was an amazing read--and I feel safe now in adding that it's timeless. I appreciated Gerritsen's care with technical facts at NASA, as well as her accurate depiction of Johnson Space Center and the Houston area in general. Just a real fun read all-around, close to home for me, and nicely done!

Gerritsen did a remarkable job blurring the line between modern-day science and science fiction. Gravity asks readers to consider the limits of secrecy that are justified in the name of "public safety." It also explores the limits of love and professional duty during times of crisis.

I was delighted to recognize some professional acquaintances in the Acknowledgments, and I was saddened at the mention of Columbia (the novel pre-dated the tragedy). This was a touching read for me as our nation's Space Shuttle program, which is close to my heart, draws to its close. Heartily recommended for fans of medical thrillers or space aficionados. Required reading for JSC contractors and civil servants. :)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Book Buzz: Iron River by T. Jefferson Parker

It occurred to me that I post my impressions of books at Goodreads and sometimes at Amazon, but I've never done it here at the blog. So today I'm going to start. One thing that helps authors is word of mouth, and I want to be a part of encouraging folks to read more.

With that, I'm posting my short review of Iron River, a book I finished yesterday:

This was my first T. Jefferson Parker novel and my introduction to his series character, Charlie Hood, an ATF agent who patrols the "iron river" where illegal guns move from the United States over the Mexican border to the drug cartels. Much of the story's backdrop was new to me, and I appreciated the unique setting and inherent element of danger in Hood's life and in those of his colleagues. What really set Iron River apart for me were its characters. The story is narrated partially from Hood's viewpoint and partially from his adversary's. I liked the way Parker took the time to illustrate the humanness of all his characters, whether they were "good" guys or "bad." A favorite character was the puzzling and seemingly eccentric Mike Finnegan, who seemed to have insider information about a range of past, present, and future events, all from the confined space of his hospital room. Switching between the perspectives of these intriguing characters kept my interest high and made for a very enjoyable read. Recommended for those of you who like bad-ass operatives with a side dish of romantic interest.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Because I Feel Like It

Today at the Stiletto Gang: How my emerging attitude problem is ramping up the word count.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sixteen Degrees of Separation: When Texas and New Jersey Cohabitate

I had a fabulous time with mystery writers and fans at last weekend's Malice Domestic Mystery Convention in Arlington, Virginia. You can click here to see pictures from the weekend or here to read about the interesting and unexpected thermal issues I encountered in my hotel room. :)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Messily in the Middle: Getting Happy in my Writing Skin

One of my favorite authors, Tim Hallinan, graciously invited me to guest blog in his series about plotting vs. pantsing. I described how the process has been different for me with each book. Where do you fall in the spectrum?