Monday, October 16, 2017

Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy: Annihilation; Authority; Acceptance, by Jeff VanderMeer

Three books in one big set, more than 20 hours of audio.  As is often the case, the first book was pretty good, the next two only so-so.  

The Likeness, by Tana French

  • Title:  The Likeness
  • Author: Tana French
  • Borrowed From: Fairfax County Public Library (Kindle Edition)
  • Started:
  • Finished: 10/15/2017
Book 2 following on In The Woods.  I loved In the Woods, not so much The Likeness.  It was ok, but not great.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Strangers on a Train, by Patricia Highsmith

  • Title: Strangers on a Train
  • Author: Patricia Highsmith
  • Borrowed from Fairfax County Public Library (Audiobook)
  • Started: 10/1/2017
  • Finished: 10/3/2017
I enjoyed Highsmith's Ripley series, and I've of course seen the movie version of Strangers on a Train.  So I was expecting to love this one, but I didn't.  I liked it well enough, but thought many of the actions & reactions by Guy really seemed very unrealistic.  I couldn't understand the do-nothing-and-hope-it-goes-away attitude.  Highsmith tries to explain it away near the end, but that didn't work for me.

I will say the twist at the very end was great.  I did not see that coming.  Almost made me change my mind on the book, but I'm going to stand firm.  Decent, but not amazing.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

On Stranger Tides, by Tim Powers

Title: On Stranger Tides
Author: Tim Powers
Borrowed from Worcester MD Public Library Audiobook
Started: 9/26/2017
Finished: 9/30/2017

Enjoyable book, I don't love fantasy but I don't hate it either.  This was overall a good read. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Brown Dog - Novellas, by Jim Harrison

Title; Brown Dog - Novellas
Author: Jim Harrison
Borrowed from DC Public Library Audiobook
Started: 9/16/2017
Finished; 9/25/2017

The first story in this long collection (close to 20 hours of audiobook) was fantastic.   The stories following got progressively worse, but all were entertaining.  

I'd never heard of the Brown Dog character before, very interesting and enjoyable.  

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Stranger from Tonto, by Zane Grey

Title: Stranger from Tonto
Author: Zane Grey
Borrowed from take one leave one Library in Ocean City MD print edition
Started: 8/8/2017
Finished: 9/23/2017

Another Zane Grey Western, not great.  Left it at the beach so I only read from it periodically, which is why it took so long to finish.  

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Couple Next Door, Shari Lapena

Title: The Couple Next Door
Author: Shari Lapena
Borrowed from Little Library in DC, Print Edition
Started: 9/16/2017
Finished: 9/17/2017

Wow, what a terrible book. One of the worst I've ever read.  

A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles

Title: A Gentleman in Moscow
Author: Amor Towles
Purchased from Amazon Kindle Edition
Started: 8/25/2017
Finished: 9/16/2017

Book club book so I'll save the review for the discussion. Overall liked but did not love it.  

Friday, September 15, 2017

Other Kingdoms, by Richard Matheson

  • Title:  Other Kingdoms
  • Author:  Richard Matheson
  • Borrowed from Worcester, MD Public Library (Audiobook)
  • Started: 9/13/2017
  • Finished: 9/15/2017
This was not the book I expected, but I really enjoyed it.  A sweet (if that's the right word) fantasy novel.  I've always liked Matheson, loved "I am Legend" and "Hell House".

Part of what made this novel for me was the fantastic narration of Bronson Pinchot.  It took me a while to figure out why I knew that name, but as a child of the 80's it then hit me, "Perfect Strangers."  Anyway, he read this book exceptionally.  So much so, that I will seek out books he's narrated simply because he is reading them.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • Title:  The Scarlet Letter
  • Author:  Nathaniel Hawthorn
  • Borrowed from HooplaDigital via Worcester MD Public Library, Audiobook
  • Started: 9/62017
  • Finished: 9/13/2017
I continue to play catch up books that should have been required in High School (whom am I kidding, I'd have only read the Cliff Notes version anyway) or college (I did get a degree in literature).  Yet somehow I never read or was assigned The Scarlet Letter.

I liked it, it was different from what I had imagined.  I didn't love it, but probably would have liked it more if I'd read it as part of a discussion group.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Cuba Libre, by Elmore Leonard

Title: Cuba Libre
Author: Elmore Leonard
Borrowed via HooplaDigital via Worcester MD Public Library Audiobook
Started: 8/29/2017
Finished: 9/5/2017

Enjoyed this one, solid Elmore Leonard novel. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

HMS Marlborough Will Enter Harbor, by Nicholas Monsarrat

  • Title:  HMS Marlborough Will Enter Harbor
  • Author:  Nicholas Monsarrat
  • Borrowed from Hoopla Digital via Worcester County (MD) Public Library
  • Started: 8/20/2017
  • Finished: 8/23/2017
This is actually a collection of three short stories, but I only read the first, and it was as good as expected.  I really loved Monsarrat's "The Cruel Sea" and HMS Marlborough was fantastic.

A Western Duo -- A Man Called Trent, and The Rider of Lost Creek, by Louis L'Amour

A couple of Lance Kilkenny stories, reasonably enjoyable westerns.

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane

  • Title:  The Red Badge of Courage
  • Author:  Stephen Crane
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Audiobook)
  • Started: 8/16/2017
  • Finished: 8/18/2017
Read this one once before when I was very young, Jr High I think.  In fact I doubt if I really read it, probably just skimmed it and bought the cliff notes.  No matter what, I did not absorb anything by it at the time.

Reading it now, essentially for the first time, I understand why it is a classic.  

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice

  • Title: Interview with the Vampire
  • Author: Anne Rice
  • Borrowed from Worcester MD Public Library (Audiobook)
  • Started: 7/27/2017
  • Finished: 8/16/2017

Desperate for something to read I decided to give this one a try.  Never a huge vampire fan, I avoided this one when it reached popularity in my youth when the film was due to come out.

I liked the book a reasonable amount -- much of that, I suspect, is due to one of my favorite narrators reading the book -- Simon Vance.  But I give credit to the author for an overall interesting story, even if the background isn't my thing.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Beguiled, by Thomas Cullinan

Title:. The Beguiled
Author: Thomas Cullinan
Borrowed from free library in Northside Park Ocean City MD
Started: 7/25/2017
Finished: 8/11/2017

My wife and I read this one aloud to each other over the course of a few weeks. I know how disgustingly cute that might sound, but we are that kind of couple (sometimes).  Loved the book, and enjoyed reading it out loud.  I've listened to enough audiobooks that it was fun to finally be the one doing the story-telling. 

And this was a great story, really enjoyed the book and our conversations about it as we made our way through it. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Bleak House, by Charles Dickens

  • Title:  Bleak House
  • Author:  Charles Dickens
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Audiobook)
  • Started:  7/20/2017
  • Finished: (sort of) 7/26/2017

Cheating a bit with this one (more than a bit, really) because I did not come close to finishing this one.  The audiobook was almost 40 hours long (average novel is 6-12 hours, big novels maybe 20-25 hours).  I got about 10 hours in, and was enjoying it, but not enough to keep going for 30 more hours.

Anyway, I got enough of this one to count it for this site.  Not necessarily a "read it" but a "read enough to know I don't need to pick it up again."

The Jealous Kind, by James Lee Burke

  • Title:  The Jealous Kind
  • Author: James Lee Burke
  • Borrowed from Worcester, MD Public Library (Audiobook)
  • Started: 7/26/2017
  • Finished: 8/2/2017
Wanted to like this one more than I did, which is how I think I feel about all Burke novels.  Not quite my thing, but they're read masterfully by Will Patton so I give them a pass...

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Exit West, By Mohsi Hamid

Title: Exit West
Author: Mohsi Hamid
Purchased from Amazon Kindle Edition
Started: 7/15/2017
Finished: 7/22/2017

Book club book. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares, by Joyce Carol Oates

  • Title:  The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares
  • Author:  Joyce Carol Oates
  • Borrowed from Fairfax County Public Library (Audiobook)
  • Started: 7/14/2017
  • Finished: 7/20/2017

This was a tough collection to get through.  10 hours of audiobook, the titular story (Corn Maiden) comprising the longest overall -- and the best.

The Corn Maiden was a great story, very hard to listen to, yet hard to stop listening to as well.  I really liked this one, although as I said it was tough to get through at times.

The others were all so-so, some better than others, but none nearly as good as the opening.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Harlequin Tea Set and Other Stories, by Agatha Christie

Title: The Harlequin Tea Set and Other Stories
Author: Agatha Christie
Borrowed from Fairfax county public library Audiobook
Started: 7/11/2017
Finished: 7/13/2017

Didn't love this set of stories. One decent Poirot, and I liked the love story "The Lonely God" but the rest were just ok. The titular story I hated. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Sherlock Holmes and the Hapsburg Tiara, by Alan Vanneman

Title: Sherlock Holmes and the Hapsburg Tiara
Author:  Alan Vanneman
Borrowed from Fairfax county public library Audiobook
Started: 7/9/2017
Finished: 7/11/2017

Pretty terrible, Watson with a foot fetish...

Sunday, July 9, 2017

In the Woods, by Tana French

  • Title:  In the Woods
  • Author:  Tana French
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Audiobook)
  • Started: 6/30/2017
  • Finished: 7/9/2017
I had read this one before, as it turns out, but prior to starting the blog.  I think I read it in print, not audiobook like this time.  But I loved it both ways, the audiobook version was great.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Devil in a Blue Dress, by Walter Mosley

Title: Devil in a Blue Dress
Author: Walter Mosley
Borrowed from take one leave one Library in DC
Started: 7/1/2017
Finished: 7/3/2017

First Easy Rawlins book, pretty good. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Calamity Town, by Ellery Queen

Title: Calamity Town
Author: Ellery Queen
Borrowed from free library in Northside Park, Ocean City MD
Started 6/17/2017
Finished: 7/1/2017

This book was terrible.  I'd never read an Ellery Queen before and won't seek one out anytime soon. The solution to the mystery was obvious, and the melodrama a bore.  

One other note, book didn't really take me three weeks to finish. I started it at the beach in June on day, left the book there, and picked it up on July 1st to finish. Took two days to plow through, only struggling because I was bored with it. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Flashman's Lady, by George MacDonald Fraser

  • Title:  Flashman's Lady
  • Author:  George MacDonald Fraser
  • Purchased Used on (print edition)
  • Started: 6/18/2017
  • Finished: 6/28/2017
This was my final Flashman novel.  When I first started this series I hated Flashy and couldn't believe anyone liked these books (I started with what I think was the worst, Royal Flash).  Now, I couldn't love them more and hate that I've finished the series.

I only read a few of them (like this one) in print, most were audiobooks.  I might go back and read the print versions because, while the audiobooks are fantastic (David Case gives the perfect voice to Flashy), you lose the footnotes.  I also don't know if any other books feature extracts of Elspeth's diary -- if they do then I missed out by listening to the audiobook version.

This was probably my second least favorite Flashman novel, but it was still a great read.  I might start the series over again before the end of the year, I loved them that much.

The Sentinel, by Jeffrey Konvitz

  • Title:  The Sentinel
  • Author:  Jeffrey Konvitz
  • Borrowed from Hoopla (AudioBook)
  • Started 6/26/2017
  • Finished: 6/29/2017
This was terrible.  I imagine it was a reasonably good book in the 70s when written, riding the tide of Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist.  But damn, it did not age well ("oh no, vile lesbians!") and the whole book is just so hokey and not scary.  But Konvitz clearly hit the Catholic-horror note at the right time and made a bundle off this piece of crap and the subsequent movie (movie is better than book, rare occurrence).

I hate to bag on Hoopla too, because I love that service for TV and Movies from the public library.  But for audiobooks on an android device -- forget it.  Way too much bizarre skipping and issues with playback.  Very frustrating.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Murders in the Rue Morgue and Other Stories, by Edgar Alan Poe

Several Poe tales, enjoyable, particularly David Case's narration.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

Title: Little Women
Author: Louisa May Alcott
Borrowed from Fairfax county public library Audiobook
Started: 6/20/2017
Finished: 6/23/2017

I've always wondered about this book and finally gave it a try.  Pretty damn good, obvious why it is a classic.  A bit preachy sometimes, but I barely noticed.  I was sucked in immediately and found myself smiling or tearing up with each chapter. I'm an old softy. 

The book I listened to was book 1 in the series, ending with the proposal to Me one year after the start of the book.  I understand subsequent volumes go through the adult lives, but I might stop here. Almost too perfect to carry on. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Missing Person, by Patrick Modiano

Title: Missing Person
Author: Patrick Modiano
Borrowed from Fairfax county public library Audiobook
Started: 6/16/2017
Finished: 6/20/2017

Been waiting to read this one for a few years.  Audiobook narrator was terrible, but I'm not sure I can blame.him for my lack of appreciation.  I struggled with this one, didn't really like it.  But Modiano won the Nobel prize for literature, so what the hell do I know?

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Vanishing, by Tim Krabbe

Title: The Vanishing
Author: Tim Krabbe
Purchased used on in print
Started: 6/17/2017
Finished: 6/17/2017

More of a short story than a book, but very enjoyable.  Read it on a beautiful day at the beach in about 90 mins.  Never saw either movie but had a rough idea of the plot from when the movie's we're released.  

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Lost City of Z, by David Grann

Title: The Lost City of Z
Author: David Grann
Borrowed from Little Library in Ocean City MD (print)
Started: 6/4/2017
Finished: 6/16/2017

I enjoyed this one, similar to Lost City of the Monkey God.  I liked that one better, but this was good too. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Three Jack Reacher Novellas: Deep Down, Second Son, High Heat, by Lee Child, by Lee Child

Title: Three Jack Reacher Novellas: Deep Down, Second Son, High Heat

Author: Lee Child
Borrowed from DC Public Library Audiobook
Started: 6/11/2017
Finished: 6/13/2017

Punishing myself with more Reacher. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Doctor Sleep, by Steven King

  • Title:  Doctor Sleep
  • Author:  Steven King
  • Borrowed from Fairfax County Public Library, Audiobook
  • Started: 6/1/2017
  • Finished: 6/11/2017
First King book I've ready since I was a teen, a long time ago.  Didn't love this, but I'm honestly not sure I ever really loved any of his books.  I liked them all, as far as I can remember, but never loved them.  I did read the Shining, so I knew what this picking up from.

Decent enough, but not scary.  King addresses this (at least in the audiobook version) saying nothing can ever seem as scary as your memory of the original scare.

I'll just throw in one more note -- just cannot get enough of Will Patton's narration.  That guy has a real gift for narration & performance of audiobooks.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Cork Dork, by Bianca Bosker

Title: Cork Dork
Author: Bianca Bosket
Purchased from Amazon Kindle Edition
Started: 5/25/2017
Finished: 6/4/2017

Book club book, struggled with this one, did not enjoy. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Thomas Berryman Number, by James Patterson

  • Title:  The Thomas Berryman Number
  • Author:  James Patterson
  • Borrowed from Fairfax County Public Library Audiobook
  • Started: 5/24/2017
  • Finished: 5/30/2017
Really liked this one, although the ending seemed abrupt.  Never know how much of my enjoyment is based on Will Patton's outstanding narration though...

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Containment, by Christian Cantrell

Title:. Containment
Author: Christian Cantrell
Borrowed from a friend
Started: 5/15/2017
Finished: 5/23/2017

A decent idea for a novel but not executed well.  Read like an unpolished first novel, which it may be. 

The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova

Title: The Historian
Author: Elizabeth Kostova
Borrowed from Fairfax county public library Audiobook
Started: 5/14/2017
Finished: 5/23/2017

Way too melodramatic for me.  Really struggled with finishing this one -- not a book for me. No more vampires. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Flashman in the Great Game, by George MacDonald Fraser

Title: Flashman in the Great Game
Author: George MacDonald Fraser
Purchase in print used from Amazon
Started: 5/1/2017
Finished: 5/14/2017

This might be my favorite Flashman novel yet.  Really enjoyed this one. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017


Title: The Children of Men
Author: P.D. James
Borrowed from Fairfax county public library Audiobook
Started: 5/8/2017
Finished: 5/13/2017

Loved this one, and liked the movie when I say it years ago -- no idea why I waited so long to read it. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

An Unpardonable Crime, by Andrew Taylor

Title: An Unpardonable Crime
Author: Andrew Taylor
Borrowed from DC Public Library Audiobook
Started: 4/25/2017
Finished: 5/7/2017

A decent book with a slight connection to a you Edgar Allen Poe.  So-so mystery, but overall enjoyable. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Scoop, by Evelyn Waugh

Title: Scoop
Author: Evelyn Waugh
Borrowed from DC Public Library Kindle edition
Started: 4/26/2017
Finished: 4/30/2017

Book club selection. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Flashman on the March, by George MacDonald Fraser

Title:. Flashman on the March
Author: George MacDonald Fraser
Borrowed from Fairfax county public library Kindle edition
Started:. 4/4/2017
Finished: 4/26/2017

Love these Flashman books, this was a good one. Also my first Flashman in print as opposed to audiobook. I love the audiobooks. It missed the annotations of the print. Might need to re-read these in the future. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Gambit, by Rex Stout

Title: Gambit
Author: Rex Stout
Borrowed from DC Public Library Audiobook
Started: 4/22/2017
Finished: 4/24/2017

Pretty sure I read this one before, but it wasn't on this site so I did again. An enjoyable Nero Wolfe mystery. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Sleep Room, by F.R. Tallis

  • Title:  The Sleep Room
  • Author: F.R. Tallis
  • Borrowed from Fairfax, VA Public Library (AudioBook)
  • Started:  4/18/2017
  • Finished:  4/22/2017
My second book by Tallis, the first one of which I read two years ago, The Voices.  I liked the Voices better, overall, but as I mentioned in that review it left too many questions unanswered.

The Sleep Room, on the other hand, wraps things up at the end.  A pretty good gothic-ish haunted (kind of) novel, overall I enjoyed it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and the Wickedest Town in the American West, by Tom Clavin

Read a favorable review of this book in the WSJ and with my interested in Westerns and the Old West I wanted to give it a try.  Overall an enjoyable book, not as engaging as some historical novels but still entertaining.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Flashman and the Tiger, by George MacDonald Fraser

Title: Flashman and the Tiger
Author: George MacDonald Fraser
Borrowed from Fairfax VA public library Audiobook
Started: 4/4/2017
Finished: 4/8/2017

Another Flashman book, really love these. This one was made up of three stories.  The first was not great, and it was the longest by far, but it was still entertaining. The second two, though very short, were great fun. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Night School, by Lee Child

  • Title:  Night School
  • Author:  Lee Child
  • Borrowed from Take-One-Leave-One Library at my office (hardback)
  • Started:  3/22/2017
  • Finished: 4/3/2017
My long nightmare is over, this is the final Jac-Reacher book (at least so far), and I've completed my reading of them in order.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Mr. American, by George MacDonald Fraser

  • Title:  Mr. American
  • Author:  George MacDonald Fraser
  • Borrowed from Fairfax County Public Library (AudioBook)
  • Started: 3/17/2017
  • Finished: 3/30/2017
A book by the author of the Flashman Papers (which I've read most of and loved), Mr. American was a long, wonderful story.  This book has a much more serious tone, somber even, than any of the Flashman books, although Flashy does make a couple of appearances in this one.  

I won't bother to recount the plot, plenty of sites and reviews do just that.  But I really enjoyed this one, as I have most of Fraser's work.  Fraser as an author was a big find for me in 2016, I suspect by the end of 2017 I'll have finished everything he has written that is available to me.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Death on Deadline, by Robert Goldsborough

  • Title: Death on Deadline
  • Author:  Robert Goldsborough
  • Borrowed from Fairfax County Public Library (Kindle Edition)
  • Started: 3/18/2017
  • Finished: 3/21/2017
Another Nero Wolfe mystery by someone other than Rex Stout -- very enjoyable.