Category Archives: SF Booklist

Little Brother (Cory Doctorow) – Review

Little brotherLittle Brother by Cory Doctorow
Age: Teen
Genre: Dystopia/Technology
Source: Public Library
Publisher: Tor, 2008
ISBN 9780765319852
382 pages
 
 
 
While cutting school one day, Marcus Yallow and his friends witness the terrorist bombing of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge. In the hustle to find a safe place to hide, one of Marcus’ friends, Darryl is stabbed and badly injured. When Marcus reaches out to a federal law enforcement unit for help, he and his friends are swiftly arrested and held as potential terrorists in the eyes of homeland security, interrogated for a number of days. After his release, Marcus decides to take the law into his own hands to try to win back San Francisco as a free city with his teenage hacker skills and intricate knowledge of technology.

 

I think this is a book that many teens will definitely enjoy.  It speaks to the disaffected youth that are frustrated with authority figures, frustrated with the way the government is headed and frustrated with being forced into following rules that they have no way of contesting. I found the story to be captivating, although I am a bit biased because the book does take place in San Francisco. I have to say, it was quite eerie walking under the Bay Bridge in San Francisco only two days after having finished this book. I could really picture Doctorow’s narrative come to life walking along the Embarcadero.

Marcus is a curious character. He stumbles, he’s selfish, he’s selfless and his determination to bring down Homeland Security is something of a marvel. He is a typical teen, full of knowledge of technology and how to hack systems that most adults don’t even know about. Doctorow does a wonderful job of blurring the lines between technology in use now, and technology that hasn’t been created yet.

Doctorow knows his technology and he doesn’t mind sharing his knowledge with you. There are quite a few moments of detailed hows, why’s and what’s on various technological jargon that slowed the story considerably. Although it is interesting to a point, I did feel like some of it was just filler. I was also bothered by the severe gap between good and evil. There was no middle ground really. It was teens versus adults. The bad guys were really horrible and the good guys were just a touch smarter and much younger.

This book should definitely be read in conjunction with Brave New World, 1984, Animal Farm, etc. Doctorow weaves in references to these books as well as to current events in the US since 9/11.

Book 28 of 2011

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The Golden Gate – Review

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The Golden Gate: A Novel In Verse
Age: Adult
Location: San Francisco
Genre: Poetry – Fiction

Set in San Francisco during the 1980s, Vikram Seth tells the tale of star-crossed yuppies, with a few love triangles, and major obstacles thrown into the mix. The book is written entirely in verse and is broken down into 13 chapters.

Seth’s justification for writing in verse:

5.4
Why, asks a friend, attempt tetrameter?
Because it once was noble, yet
Capers before the proud pentameter,
Tyrant of English. I regret
To see this marvelous swift meter
Demean its heritage, and peter
Into mere Hudlibrastic tricks,
Unapostolic knocks and knicks.
But why take all this quite so badly?
I would not, had I world and time
To wait for reason, rhythm, rhyme
To reassert themselves, but sadly
The time is not remote when I
Will not be here to wait. That’s why.

This book is very true to San Francisco life, much as Armistad Maupin’s Tales of the City. Also written and set in the 1980s, the story still resonates with the San Francisco I know today. Many of the themes are still the same: unrequited love, homosexual love, friendship, and adored pets. The love story begins when Jan fills out a personals ad in the newspaper for her best friend John in an attempt to help him get some dates and find true love. As events unfurl, John loves Liz, and Phil, a single dad, loves Ed, but Ed’s faith in Jesus is an obstacle to their relationship. The poem is written in a wry and wonderful humor, but is also serious. There is love, tragedy, separation and character growth. There are a number of characters to relate to even on the most minimal of commonalities. At the end of the book, I wanted to know more about the characters and where their lives progressed. If there is ever a sequel to this book, I will be the first in line waiting for it.

What I appreciate the most is that in a few short lines Seth is able to portray back-stories, personality traits and character developments. That is the gift and brevity of poetry. Here is a snippet of the poem:

6.13
John looks about him with enjoyment.
What a man needs, he thinks, is health;
Well-paid, congenial employment;
A house; a modicum of wealth;
Some sunlight; coffee and the papers;
Artichoke hearts adorned with capers;
A Burberry trenchcoat; a Peugeot;
And in the evening, some Rameau
Or Couperin; a home-cooked dinner;
A Stilton, and a little port;
And so to a duvet. In short,
In life’s brief game to be a winner
A man must have … oh yes, above
All else, of course, someone to love.

More creative bloggers have reviewed this book as a poem in the same meter as The Golden Gate. This one, over at Hardly Written, is one of my particular favorite reviews. If you liked the Tales of the City series, have a good sense of humor and enjoy well written verse, then this is definitely one book that I highly recommend.

The Golden Gate: A Novel in Verse
By Vikram Seth
Vintage International, 1986
ISBN 9780679734574
307 pages
Book 23 of 2011
 
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 The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth
 

A Soft Place to Land – Review

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A Soft Place to Land by Susan Rebecca White
Age: Adult
Genre: Fiction
Location: Georgia, San Francisco
 

During a brief vacation visiting the Grand Canyon, Naomi and Phil Harrison board an airplane that soon crashes into the rocks, ending the lives of a couple defined by their never-ending, and passionate love for one another. During the funeral, their daughters, Ruthie and Julia are shocked by the provisions of the will that split the sisters from each other. Julia is sent to Virdin, Virginia to live with her birth father, while Ruther is sent to San Francisco to live with her aunt and uncle. The novel spans two decades, detailing the rift between the sisters as they learn to cope with their loss. The rift between the sisters is more than just the distance in miles between them. The rift also effects their emotional connection to one another.

The novel starts with the girls living in Atlanta, Georgia detailing what they believe were the last moments of their parents lives. In morbid detail they try to piece together what their parents last ate, said and felt before the plane crashed. Thick as thieves and overprotective of each other, the girls are inseparable and are shocked when they learn they are being torn apart due to the will. Although it had a slow and somewhat repetitive start, I really enjoyed this novel, especially once Ruthie relocated to San Francisco. I enjoyed all the references to the city and the Bay Area. I also loved witnessing Ruthie’s transformation into an adult during her teen years in San Francisco. The comparisons of life in the Bay Area versus life in Georgia and Virginia were really eye opening to just how snobbish the Bay Area can be. Being sent to live in rural Virginia with a negligent birth father and an “evil” stepmother did not help Julia learn to heal from her loss of not only her parents, but also from the separation of her sister. Ruthie, meanwhile, is sent to a thriving city filled with new experiences daily with an aunt and uncle that care the world for her.

One scene I particularly loved was Julia’s first visit to San Francisco. Known as the wild-child-older-sister during their time in Atlanta, you could really feel the rift between the sisters during Julia’s time in town. Much to Ruthie’s horror, Julia was ready to explore the Haight wearing torn jeans, a tie-dye shirt and sandals on a cold winter day. This day marked a rift in the sisters that would last well into their adulthood; past boyfriends, a stint in rehab, college and a published novel. The sisters accomplished much in their lives after the deaths of their parents and it was interesting how their lives overlapped at points, but then completely diverged at others.

Bay Area folk will love the references to San Francisco and Berkeley, and sisters will enjoy this novel for the hardships and struggles Ruthie and Julia overcame as they grew into adults.

A Soft Place to Land
by Susan Rebecca White
Simon & Schuster, 2010
ISBN 9781416558699
328 pages
Book 13 of 2011

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A soft place to land

SF Booklist (Adult) – Detective

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Detective and Private Investigator mysteries set in San Francisco. Anything in italics is reflective of a series of books featuring the same character. Most mysteries tend to come in series, so don’t be surprised to find other titles by the same authors when browsing at the bookstore.

  1. JL Abramo
    1. Jake Diamon Series
  2. Charles Alverson
    1. Not Sleeping, Just Dead
  3. Diane Anderson-Minshall
    1. Blind Eye Mystery series
  4. William Babula
    1. St. John series
  5. Donald Bain
    1. Martini’s and Mayhem: Murder She Wrote
  6. David Berlinski
    1. Aaron Asherfield series
  7. Meredith Blevins
    1. The Red Hot Empress
  8. Kelly Bradford
    1. Footprints
  9. Richard Brautigan
    1. Dreaming of Babylon
  10. Kate Bryan
    1. Murder on the Barbary Coast
  11. Robin Burcell
    1. Face of a Killer
  12. Dorothy Byrant
    1. Killing Wonder
  13. Chad Calhoun
    1. The Frisco Lady
  14. Jerry Jay Carroll
    1. Inhuman Beings
  15. Michael Castleman
    1. The Lost Gold of San Francisco & Other Works
  16. Whitman Chambers
    1. Dog Eat Dog & Other Works
  17. Leonard Chang
    1. Fade to Clear
  18. Mark Coggins
    1. August Riordan series
  19. Curtis Christopher Comer
    1. Blake Danzig Chronicles
  20. Catherine Coulter
    1. FBI Series & Other Works
  21. Pamela Cranston
    1. The Madonna Murders
  22. James Dalessandro
    1. Bohemian Heart
  23. Kenn Davis
    1. Melting Point
  24. Kyra Davis
    1. Sophie Katz series
  25. Janet Dawson
    1. Jeri Howard Mysteries
  26. Dianne Day
    1. Fremont Jones Mysteries
  27. John E. Douglas
    1. Broken Wings
  28. Stella Duffy
    1. Wavewalker
  29. David Feeney
    1. A Skeleton in the Closet
  30. Denny Martin Flinn
    1. San Francisco Kills
  31. Raymond Fraser
    1. A Change Called Death
  32. James Frey
    1. Came a Dead Cat
  33. Anderson Gabrych
    1. Fogtown
  34. Meg Gardiner
    1. The Dirty Secrets Club
  35. Danielle Girard
    1. Savage Art
  36. Herbert Gold
    1. She Took My Arm As If She Loved Me
  37. Lee Goldberg
    1. Mr. Monk series
  38. Steven Gore
    1. Final Target
  39. Joe Gores
    1. Daniel Kearny Associates & Other Works
  40. Ron Goulart
    1. Ghost Breaker
  41. Linda Grant
    1. Catherine Saylor Series
  42. Stephen Greenleaf
    1. John Marshall Tanner Series
  43. Dashiell Hammett
    1. The Maltese Falcon & Other Works
  44. Dorothy Hannah
    1. Come and Be Killed
  45. TC Harbaugh
    1. The Boy Detectives
  46. John Haskett
    1. Policy Terminated
  47. Edward Hurlbut
    1. Lanagan
  48. Marian Jackson
    1. The Cat’s Eye
  49. Jonnie Jacobs
    1. Kate Austen Mysteries
  50. Bret Austin Jones
    1. Nest of Vipers
  51. Stuart Kaminsky
    1. Poor Butterfly
  52. HRF Keating
    1. Murder by Death
  53. Jerry Kennealy
    1. Nick Polo Mysteries
  54. Laurie R. King
    1. Mary Russell Mysteries & and the Kate Martinelli Mysteries
  55. Andrew Klavan
    1. Weiss & Bishop Mysteries
  56. Chris Larsgaard
    1. The Heir Hunter
  57. John T. Lescroat
    1. Dismas Hardy Series
  58. Will Lee
    1. Cobalt
  59. Hailey Lind
    1. Anne Kincaid Mysteries
  60. Margaret Locke
    1. A Relative Stranger
  61. Lisa Lutz
    1. The Spellman’s Strike Again
  62. Jack Lynch
    1. Bragg series
  63. Tim Maleeny
    1. Cape Weathers Mysteries
  64. Peter Marvalis
    1. San Francisco Noir 1 & 2
  65. Derek Marlowe
    1. Somebody’s Sister
  66. Sujata Massey
    1. The Samurai’s Daughter
  67. Ross McDonald
    1. The Way Some People Die
  68. Melisa C. Michaels
    1. Through the Eyes of the Dead & Cold Iron series
  69. John Miller
    1. San Francisco Thrillers
  70. Richard Morgan
    1. Altered Carbon
  71. Patricia Morrison
    1. Ungrateful Dead: Murder at the Filmore
  72. Marcia Muller
    1. Sharon MaCone series
  73. Jim Nisbet
    1. The Damned Don’t Die
  74. Carol O’Marie
    1. Sister Mary Helen Series
  75. Diana Orgain
    1. Kate Connelly Series
  76. Elane Osborn
    1. A Season to Believe
  77. Richard North Patterson
    1. Conviction
  78. Linda Lee Patterson
    1. Edited to Death
  79. Elizabeth Pincus
    1. Nell Fury Mysteries
  80. CE Poverman
    1. On the Edge
  81. Bill Pronzini
    1. The Nameless Detective Series
  82. William Rivera
    1. Panic Walks Alone
  83. Lora Roberts
    1. Murder Follows Money
  84. Alan Russell
    1. No Sign of Murder
  85. Eugene Sawyer
    1. The Coleraine Tragedy
  86. Leslie Scalapino
    1. Dahlia’s Iris
  87. Harry Schezade
    1. The Mystery of Eve
  88. Barry Shannon
    1. The Bold Stroke
  89. Robert Sharpe
    1. The City of Love and Pain & Other Works
  90. Roger Simon
    1. The Big Fix
  91. Carla Simpson
    1. Seduced
  92. Jack Spicker
    1. The Train of Thought
  93. Domenic Stansberry
    1. Dante Mancuso series
  94. Arne Sultan
    1. Hart in San Francisco
  95. Mariann Tadmoor
    1. Murder in San Francisco
  96. Jean Taylor
    1. The Last of Her Lies
  97. Ronald Tierney
    1. Paladino & Lang Mystery & other works
  98. Jim Thompson
    1. Ironside
  99. William Viharo
    1. Love Stories are Too Violent for Me

100. Bob Weaving

The Cull

101. Pat Welch

Still Waters

102. BJ West

Fog City Nocturne

103. Gloria White

Ronnie Ventana Mysteries

104. Collin Wilcox

Hire a Hangman

105. Hugh Wiley

Murder by the Dozen

106. Mary Wings

Emma Victor Series

107. Larry Wonderling

The Ultimate Evil

108. Gil Van Wyck

Simon Purvis

109. William Vollman

The Royal Family

110. Fred Zackel

Cocaine and Blue Eyes

 

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  1. William Viharo
    1. Love Stories are Too Violent for Me

2. Bob Weaving

    1. The Cull

3. Pat Welch

    1. Still Waters

4. BJ West

    1. Fog City Nocturne

5. Gloria White

    1. Ronnie Ventana Mysteries

6. Collin Wilcox

    1. Hire a Hangman

7. Hugh Wiley

    1. Murder by the Dozen

8. Mary Wings

    1. Emma Victor Series

9. Larry Wonderling

    1. The Ultimate Evil

10. Gil Van Wyck

    1. Simon Purvis

11. William Vollman

    1. The Royal Family

12. Fred Zackel

    1. Cocaine and Blue Eyes

SF Booklist (Adult) Sci-fi/Fantasy

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Time travel, rock star elves, death, vampires and werewolves all plague San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area cities in this collection of works by Bay Area authors. I highly recommend the Christopher Moore titles…since those are the only ones I’ve read off this list.

Fantasy

  1. Erin Allen
    1. Another Foot in the Grave
  2. David Skibbins
    1. Eight of Swords
  3. Sara Gerstle
    1. Four Ghost Stories
  4. Christopher Moore
    1. A Dirty Job
  5. Melisa C. Michaels
    1. Cold Iron & Other Works
  6. Michael Shea
    1. Copping Squid and other Mythos Tales
  7. William Irwin Thompson
    1. Islands Out of Time: Memoirs of the Last Days of Atlantis, a Metafiction
  8. Laurie Ann Fox
    1. The Lost Girls
  9. Ann Zavala
    1. San Francisco Gold
  10. Jean Fitzgerald
    1. The Golden Gate Bridge Troll

Magic

  1. JR Levitt
    1. Unleashed & Other Works
  2. TA Patt
    1. Blood Engines

Sci-Fi

  1. William Gibson
    1. All Tomorrow’s Parties
  2. Sonia Singh
    1. Ghost, Interrupted
  3. Ron Goulart
    1. After things Fell Apart
  4. Brian Herbert
    1. Prisoners of Arionn
  5. Lisa Mason
    1. Cyberweb & Other Works
  6. John Shirley
    1. City Come a Walkin

Supernatural

  1. Amelia Beamer
    1. The Loving Dead
  2. Edo Van Belkom
    1. Wyrm Wolf
  3. Saje Williams
    1. Tales from Magitech Lounge
  4. John Shirley
    1. Demons
  5. Meljean Brook
    1. Demon Angel
  6. Allyson James
    1. The Black Dragon
  7. Mercedes Lackey
    1. The Fire Rose
  8. RA Ruetter
    1. Lycanthropes and Leeches

Time-Travel

  1. Jon Cory
    1. A Plague of Scoundrels
  2. Stephan Dedman
    1. Foreign Bodies
  3. David Rey Echt
    1. Messenger From the Summer of Love
  4. Guillaume Musso
    1. Will You Be There
  5. Susan Squires
    1. Mists of Time
  6. James Swanson
    1. The Stuff Dreams are Made Of
  7. Brad Linaweaver
    1. Sliders: A Novel

Vampires

  1. Dodie Bellamy
    1. The Letters of Mina Harker
  2. M Christian
    1. The Very Bloody Marys’
  3. Linda Grant
    1. Vampire Bytes
  4. Keith Herber
    1. Dark Prince & Prince of the City
  5. Christopher Moore
    1. Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story
  6. Christopher Moore
    1. You Suck: A Love Story
  7. Christopher Moore
    1. Bite Me: A Love Story
  8. Elaine Moore
    1. Retribution
  9. Clare Willis
    1. Once Bitten
  10. Mary Wolfman
    1. The Curse of Dracula

Witchcraft

  1. Felicia Andrews
    1. Moon Witch
  2. Ann Zavala
    1. Crystals
  3. Cameron Dokey
    1. Haunted by Desire (Charmed TV Show)
  4. Elizabeth Lenhard
    1. Charmed Again (Charmed TV Show)

SF Booklist – Comic Books

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I’m starting off the new year with a new project. This is more of a personal challenge than anything else. This is the first list in what I hope to be a comprehensive collection of titles and authors of the San Francisco Bay Area. Each week I will post a list of authors and their titles for a different subject/genre. I’m starting off with Fiction, which I’ve broken down into a number of categories so that it’s not so overwhelming.

List #1 – Comic Books

  1. Robert Bowman
    1. The Screaming Buddha
  2. Don Asmussen
    1. Big Ass Mocha
  3. Tom De Haven
    1. Dugan Under Ground
  4. Frazer Irving
    1. Storming Heaven
  5. Jen Wang
    1. Koko Be Good

SF Booklist (Adult) – Alcatraz Island

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Alcatraz Island is one of San Francisco’s most notable landmarks. What used to be the most dreaded and severe peniteniary in the United States has undergone a number of developments since it was shut down in 1963. It has been occupied by a Native American group from 1969 to 1971 and has played a central role in San Francisco’s financial and cultural development both cinematically and in print.

Adult Fiction – Alcatraz Island

1. Tara Ison

     1. A Child out of Alcatraz (1997)

2. Tina Westbrook

     1. Letters from Alcatraz: 40 years Later (2010)

3. Charles Brashear

        1. The sacred mountain: A California-Indian Anatomy (2009)

4. Eduardo Paz-Martinez

         1. Inside the Volcano (2001)

5. Dan Gordon

          1. Murder in the First (1995)

6. Clark Howard

          1. Six Against The Rock (1997)

7. Bonita Bair

         1. Butterfly Cage (2008)