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Month in review

Reviews
Accidental Time Traveller by Janis Mackay
The Big Wander by Will Hobbs
The Black Circle by Patrick Carman
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
Canadian Cinema Since the 1980s: At the Heart of the World by David L. Pike
The Canary Trainer by Nicholas Meyer
Changeless by Gail Carriger
Escape from Bridezilla by Jacqueline deMontravel
The First Eagle by Tony Hillerman
Fletcher and Zenobia by Edward Gorey
Garment of Shadows by Laurie R. King
The Great Desert Race by Betty Baker
Great House by Nicole Krauss
Her Permanent Record by Jimmy Gownley
Lion in the Valley by Elizabeth Peters
The Main Corpse by Diane Mott Davidson
Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale
My Invisible Boyfriend by Susie Day
Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci
Ottoline At Sea by Chris Riddell
Packing for Mars by Mary Roach
The Rules by Stacey Kade
The Secret of the Stone Frog by David Nytra
Skywalkers: Mohawk Ironworkers Build the City by David Weitzman
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Someday by Charlotte Zolotow
Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley
The Twelve Bots of Christmas by Nathan Hale
Who's Seen the Scissors by Fernando Krahn
Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded by John Scalzi

Previous month

Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

Reading Challenges

My Kind of Mystery Reading Challenge 2017 February - January 2017-8




The Great Desert Race: 06/09/13

cover art

The Great Desert Race by Betty Baker is was a gift for my seventh birthday. I wasn't much of a reader back then and after trying the first chapter, I set the book aside. It's taken me nearly thirty-three years to finally finish it!

A pair of teenage girls, one who works as an automobile mechanic, decide to enter a race that runs from their town near Los Angeles, California, to a small town in northern Arizona. The adults in their families don't want them go because it would be unladylike, possibly dangerous, and most certainly scandalous.

To make things more "interesting" the young women will be driving an alternative fuel car — one that runs on steam. The car in question, the author explains in her afterword, is fictional, but was based on careful research of actual steam powered cars.

There are two big hurdles to this slim volume and they come down to pacing. Baker tries to set up a strong feminist message, explain about how early car races worked, and outline how steam automobile engines worked, that her pre-race chapters are dense, preachy and sometimes unbearable to read. So much effort is put into setting up the story that there's no time to build the plucky, believable characters that will be needed to drive the plot!

Thankfully, once the girls are finally in the car and the race has started, it's a quick and fun read. I just wish the opening chapters reflected the rest of the book better.

Three stars

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