Friday, November 26, 2010

Sandkings, by George R Martin

  • Title:  Sandkings
  • Author:  George R Martin
  • Received from PaperbackSwap
  • Started:  11/21/2010
  • Finished:  11/23/2010

This book was actually a collection of Martin short stories (I was into the second story before I realized this).  The title refers to the last of the stories in the collection, and by far the best of the bunch.  While I had to force myself to finish the other stories I couldn't put the book down when I finally got to Sandkings.  It was worth the wait.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Church of Dead Girls, by Stephen Dobyns

I had this book on my holds list at the library for a couple of months, hoping to get it before Halloween.  I wanted something scary to read, and had heard this was good & scary.  Well it didn't become available until after the 31st, but it was a good ready.  Scary?  Not the kind I was expecting, and not as gruesome as the title would have you believe.  I still have a few unanswered questions, but overall I did like the book a lot. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Kiss Before Dying, by Ira Levin

I mistakenly listed A Kiss Before Dying back in April of this year in a long list of books I'd previously read.  When I read the plot of A Kiss Before Dying I thought it was the book A Place In The Sun.  Very different books, but with similar plots when boiled down to a blurb.  I have read A Place in the Sun which has a great plot but  in my opinion is way too long, and I liked A Kiss Before Dying a lot more.  I've read several of Levin's novels (Stepford Wives, Rosemary's Baby), and seen just about every movie based on one of his books (aside from the two I just mentioned, Boys from Brazil, No Time for Sergeants).
I see that there was a follow up to Rosemary's Baby, as well as a few other books of his I've never read.  I really enjoyed the Levin books I've picked up so far so I think I'll add those to the list.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Canary Trainer, by Nicholas Meyer

I believe this is the final Nicholas Meyer Holmes book, I've read all three now.  The first (7% Solution) I really liked, the second (Westend Horror) I hated, and this third was good but not great. 

The Passage, by Justin Cronin

I was curious about this book since reading a few reviews in the WSJ and Washington Post, both favorable.  For the first third of the book I could see why it had received such good reviews.  The character development, sense of foreboding, overall storytelling, all were fantastic.  Then the book takes a strange jump 100 years in the future, and character development comes to a close.  I plowed through the rest of the book, but didn't enjoy it very much. 
I had no idea it was set up as a multi-volume (trilogy?) but I doubt if I'll continue with the series.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Hole, by Guy Burt

I went to the public library to pick up Justin Cronin's book The Passage which I had on hold.  When I got there the book wasn't ready yet, so I looked at my list of books to read and noticed Guy Burt's After The Hole.  The public library didn't have that book, but it did have The Hole.  I thought, well, I guess The Hole is the first book, and After The Hole a follow up, so I might as well read this one first. 

Quick internet searches told me, however, that The Hole/After The Hole are the same book (US/UK versions I think), and this short novel took me just a few hours to read.  It wasn't as scary or disturbing as the reviews had led me to believe, but it was a good read and the epilogue ending (which reminded me of The Handmaid's Tail) changed the meaning of all that had come before it.  I thought it strange that 5 teens could be alone in a hole for so many days without sexual activity (well the main story does tell of one such event), especially with all the drinking.  But many of the clues were there and when you read the epilogue more of the horror of the events can be read between the lines.

Not the best book, certainly not the scariest or most disturbing.  But a fun read a certainly a hell of a first book written by a then 18 year old.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Earth Abides, by George R Stewart

For a while now I've read praise about this book as I waited for it to come available at my local library.  At last my hold at the library came through (they bought two new copies) and I was able to see what everyone was talking about.  Well I didn't love it.  I suspect had I read it in 1949 when it came out, or even 1959, or possiby even 1969, it would have been of more interest to me.  But this book just didn't grab me. 
Now it might be one of the more accurate descriptions of what would really happen if 99% of the human race were wiped out over a few weeks by a plague.  But that doesn't make it particularly interesting.  Many of the favorable reviews note how haunting the book was or how they still think about passages years (or decades) later.  I don't know, there were some interesting parts, particularly in the beginning, describing how huge numbers of aminals that were penned up or otherwise depended on man died off pretty miserably.  But for the most part I felt like very little happened in this book, and I was more relived than anything when I finally finished.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The New Annotated Dracula, Edited by Leslie Klinger

I received a BN gift card from my mother-in-law which was enough to cover this volume which I've had my eye on for a while. I loved Klinger's New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, so I was curious to see what this Dracula volume would be like.

I've of course read Dracula before, but it's not a personal favorite. I liked it, but I've never been a huge vampire fan otherwise. Even Buffy, the show that all librarians are supposed to have followed religiously (ha!) was nothing I watched when it originally aired on TV. I admit that I did rectify that later, two of the other librarians I work with were crazy about the show and eventually got me to watch it in reruns, and dammit if I didn't get hooked (although I never followed up with the Angel spin off).

Well that's a really long way of saying that I wasn't sure what these annotations would look like or if they would even interest me. Well Klinger didn't disappoint, this volume was fantastic. The annotations were great, just like with the Holmes volumes, but this volume shines for me in two specific areas: One, the introduction and then numerous exhibits by Klinger that delve into how the story came to be (again like the Holmes volumes, this book is written as if Dracula is a work of, or at least based off, nonfiction events) and the impact of the book in various other works. Two, the theories about Dracula's survival and the motives of the various other characters, especially the (suspect) Doctors Van Helsing and Seward.

Just as with the Holmes volumes you're either going to love this kind of thing or hate it, I doubt if there is any in between. I just find this stuff fascinating. I took a train up to NYC recently and despite the large size of the volume I brought it with me. I sat on the train (both up and back) with this book like I was studying for a final (or perhaps "researching my own book"). Pouring over the annotations, back and forth through the cross-referencing, etc. You either really enjoy this kind of thing or you don't.

Paying such close attention to a book could have its problems for the editor, I suppose. I did find one mistake (a typo, I believe) but you only have to look at a few of my blog entries to see I'm not a member of the grammar police.

I still have two of the Holmes novels left in the Klinger annotated version, I've been trying to save those for a time when I can really enjoy them just as I've done with this new annotated Dracula.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

House of Leaves, by Mark Z Danielewski

I haven't posted anything in a while, not b/c I'm not reading, but b/c I've been trying to read/study my latest purchase:  The New Annotated Dracula, edited by my favorite footnoter, Leslie Klinger.  I've been working my way through this book for a long time now, since the start of September, and I've barely scratched the surface.
But this update isn't about that book.  I was headed out to the beach with my wife for another long weekend at our Ocean City condo.  I didn't want to lug Dracula (a beast of a book) out to the sandy beach with me, so instead I opted for a book I've been wanting to read for quite some time:  House of Leaves.
Holy crap, this book was fantastic.  First on the most basic level as a haunted house (type) story, it scared me and I was afraid to walk around my house alone at night.  It invaded more than one dream and had me holding my bladder at night rather than go to the bathroom alone at 4 am.  But more than that it was a great read all around, getting past the main haunted house story, into the various annotations (you know how I love those), numerous authors voices, side stories, etc.  I mean this whole novel is just a work I hated to put down, I'd have taken days off to read it if that were an option.
So this was a great book to take to the beach, but now I'm back to Dracula.  I'm taking the train to NYC this weekend and can't decide if I want to bring Dracula (heavy as hell) since I'll have 3.5 hours each way to read.  Tough call.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

  • Title:  The Shadow of the Wind
  • Author:  Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • Purchased from Borders Bookstore
  • Started:  9/2/2010
  • Finished:  9/5/2010
This was a random purchase from a going out of business sale for our local Borders.  My wife thought the description on the back of the book sounded good so she bought it and read it while at the beach.  I read it after her, and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Doghead, by Morten Ramsland

  • Title:  Doghead: A Novel
  • Author:  Morten Ramsland
  • Received as a gift
  • Started:  8/31/2010
  • Finished:  9/2/2010
This was a strange, and somewhat enjoyable book.  I say somewhat because there is a lot of humor in it for sure, and the book is written excellently.  But the protagonist (or at least narrator) isn't a particularly likable character, and some pretty nasty things happen to people.  Overall a book I'm glad I read, but I'm not sure how many people I would recommend this book too.

The Left-Handed Policeman, by Robert Westbrook

  • Title:  Left-Handed Policeman
  • Author:  Robert Westbrook
  • Found At Take One/Leave One Bookcase At Ocean City Beach Condo
  • Started:  8/28/2010
  • Finished:  8/31/2010
I really like Robert Westbrook novels, but I'd held off on reading this one which has been in our OC condo ever since we bought it.  Finally read it on this vacation and overall liked it.  Wasn't crazy about the ending, but the rest of the book was really enjoyable.

The Westend Horror, by Nicholas Meyer

Another of Meyer's Sherlock Holmes stories, this one was a fun read but not nearly as good as his first, the 7 Percent Solution.

Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse, by Victor Gischler

In my never ending quest for apocalyptic literature I stumbled across this book, which wasn't bad.  A fun story, well told, and not really all that much about go-go girls (somewhat to my disappointment).  A great beach read for sure.

Devil On My Doorstep, by Stuart M Kaminsky

The second (and final) Rockford book, this is one that seemed very familar to me as I read it.  I suspect I'd read this one before, just prior to my having started this site so I had no record of it.

The Green Bottle, by Stuart M Kaminsky

I don't like doing this, but I haven't updated this site in a while so I'm having to guess at the dates for the next 5 or 6 books that I'm posting about, as I've blown through most of htem on my two week beach vacation.  Two of the books were Kaminsky's Rockford Files books, which were entertaining enough for fans of the show (of which I'm one), but not spectacular otherwise. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy, by John le Carre

Well my days of reading a book a day are over for a while I guess, it took me two weeks to plough through this book even though I really enjoyed it.  I have a decent number of books lined up to read, but probably won't get through most of them until the end of the month when I have two glorious weeks off at our Ocean City beach condo.

Anyway, really enjoyed this one.  A little slow at times, but not in a way that made it unenjoyable, just took me longer to get through some of those parts.  These Smiley books are a lot of fun.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Yiddish Policemen's Union, by Michael Chabon

I'm on a roll, three books in three days.  This is one I've been wanting to read for quite some time, finally got it from the library and blew right through it.  Very enjoyable.  Good mystery, fun characters, alternate reality.  Just outstanding.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood

Well after The Year of the Flood I said I'd read this one and then take a break from Atwood.  After reading The Handmaid's Tale I may never read another Atwood again.  That's not a knock on this book, the opposite in fact.  I loved it, one of the best books I've ever read.  I'm embarrassed I waited this long to read it.

But I don't think any other Atwood book is going to live up to this, not if the other two I've read are any indication.  While I liked the other books, and will probably like most of Atwood's books, Handmaid's Tale is something special.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest, by Stieg Larsson

July 21st, 2010 wasn't the best day of my life.  But the day wasn't all bad, I had purchased the final book in the Millennium Trilogy and got more than half way through it in a single day.  I was unable to sleep much last night so around 1:30 am I got up and came out to the living room, where I read the book off & on for the last 9 hours.  I finished it just moments ago, and it was an entirely satisfying finish for the characters.  I still think the 2nd book felt too much like filler, and the first book is the only one that stands on its own as a mystery.  None-the-less, it is easy to see why these books (and subsequent movies) have become such worldwide phenomena.  A shout-out to my sister who first told me about Dragon Tattoo, and even sent me her copy (which I subsequently dropped in the bath-tub).

The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood

A few week ago I read Oryx & Crake by Atwood, and really enjoyed the book right up until the cliff hanger ending.  I was really put off by the ending, but internet searches told me there was a follow up, or of sorts, that cleared up the ending.  Thus I've now read The Year of the Flood. 

I didn't like it very much.  It's not a terrible book by any means, but as it takes place over the same time period as Orxy & Crake it doesn't add much to that story.  And it barely offers any resolution to the cliff hanger ending of the first book which I enjoyed much more.  Overall I would normally be through with Atwood, but I've already checked out her best known work, the Handmaid's Tale, so I will be reading that one to hopefully wash the bad taste of the year of the flood out of my mouth.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Murder of Quality, John le Carre

This was an interesting Smiley book.  I was expecting another Cold War spy novel, and instead I get a murder mystery.  It was very enjoyable, no complaints, just a surprise.  A pleasant one though, with Smiley really fleshed out more than in the previous book.  I wonder how popular this one is though compared to the Cold War Smiley books.  I really enjoyed it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Z for Zachariah, by Robert C O'Brien

This is marketed as a children's/youth fiction, it was in the juvenile section of my library.  No doubt that is all correct and the proper place for this book.  None-the-less (or maybe b/c of this) I loved this book.  I finished it, in fact, over my lunch hour and really could have used a break after finishing.  The description of the post-nuclear garden of eden where our 16 year old protagonist lives, and how she survives, was mesmerizing.  The care with which she nurses the stranger back from his near fatal exposure to radiation, and then the slow, ominous turn the story takes.
The death of her long lost dog (why do the dogs always have to die?) really touched me, as the protagonist had to sacrifice the dog in order to save herself from death (or a life of slavery?).  The ending, which I understand was written by O'brien's wife posthumously was both dark & uplifting at the same time.  I'm not sure how this book would have impacted me as a teen, but I really wish I had read it back then.

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

This wasn't a book I really had  much interest in reading, but my wife read it and insisted I read it as well.  I'm glad she did.  I didn't love the book, but it was a real page turner and I always hated to put it down, that's a good sign right?  But I only found two of the characters really sympathetic, and both had very minor parts in the story even though the plot was often driven by what the protagonist had done/was doing to them.
In the end, I'm glad I read it but I have zero interest in reading anything else by the author. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Call for the Dead, by John le Carre

An enjoyable cold-war novel, I'd tried before to get into the George Smiley novels but never found them available in order.  I think the spy who came in from the cold was the only I ever found (and did read.. liked the movie better).  Enjoyed this one, a good read over a lazy 4th of July weekend.  I have a few more of the George Smiley books to read so I'll get through those eventually. 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Seven-Percent Soluntion, by Nicholas Meyer

I've waited a while to read this one for a while, and it was worth the wait.  While Watson's original stories are still the gold standard, this find of Meyer's is still very entertaining.  I've already stated how much I enjoy annotations to these stories, and there is the one place Meyer disappointed me.  As he notes in the intro, Meyer kept the annotations to a bare minimum which is a shame, but the ones he included are fun.  My absolute favorite is this bit from the book:

As Watson writes: "I believe it is somewhere in Julius Caesar* that the bard speaks of music having the power to soothe the savage breast and calm the restless spirit..."

Meyer responds: * It isn't.

Good stuff, that had my chuckling for a while.  Really enjoyed this book, it reminds me I've still got one or two of Watson's novels that remain in my new annotated sherlock books.  I'll have to pick that volume up again soon.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood

I really enjoyed 9/10ths of this book.  Such a fun end of the world/last man on earth (well, kinda) story.  The flashbacks, the believable bioengineering disasters... this almost entirely a ton of fun.  But the ending?  That was terrible.  Yes, there is a sequel of sorts, and I might even read it, but I want books to stand on their own and the ending of this one did not, at least for me.
Still my overall impression is favorable.  I had such a hard time putting the book down, stayed up too late each night reading.  I really thought it was going to turn out that Oryx wasn't real, that she'd been created by Crake based on the image both Crake & Snowman had seen as teens.  I was disappointed to find out that wasn't the case.  But again, a real page turner.  I'll probably give a few of her other books a chance now.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Slynx, by Tatyana Tolstaya

Recent web searches for more apocalyptic literature produced a hit for this book, the Slynx.  While technically it does take place after a nuclear (or some other) blast, it wasn't really what I expected.  That said it was a wonderful book, or at least 3/4 of a wonderful book.  I thought the ending was weak, but it didn't take away from my overall enjoyment.  No doubt part of that was b/c the book was so different from anything I'd expected.  A great find, the kind of book I'd never have known to check out from the library without such a recommendation.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Postman, by David Brin

Another apocalyptic tale, this is one where I saw the movie years ago and liked it, but didn't love it.  At the time I had no idea it was based on a book, but as I now blow through these various end-of-the-word novels I kept seeing this one popping up on various lists. 
Liked it quite a bit.  It wasn't perfect, but the story kept me reading and interested the entire way through.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Blackwater, by Kerstin Ekman

A couple of years ago we canceled our subscription to the Washington Post.  Just didn't enjoy that paper any longer.  They'd removed the stand-alone business section and merged it with another, their comics  pages was increasingly lame, and we no longer enjoyed their local or national coverage.  Being a local blogger we knew how to find the local coverage we wanted online, so with some left of airline miles we switched to the Wall Street Journal for six months for free.

Really enjoyed the WSJ and we've kept it as our daily paper for a few years now.  I mention this because it was in the WSJ that I first heard about Kerstin Ekman's book Blackwater.  Just a one sentence suggestion for beach reading, noting that it was about a grisly murder in a Swedish forest.  That sounded interesting so it's been on my list for a number of months.

Paperback Swap came through recently with the book and it took me about a week to finish.  While not at all what I expected, it was still a worthwhile read.  It is partly about a murder, that does kind of center the story.  But I found it more about loneliness, isolation, I don't know.  Maybe I was just in the right place, frame of mind for this story, but I found it very enjoyable.  Moody and dark, a slow but ultimately satisfying read.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Girl Who Played With Fire, by Stieg Larsson

The second novel in the Salander/Blomkvist trilogy.  My sister has sent me both books so far to read (I dropped the first book in the bath while reading it) and I've really enjoyed them a lot.  I liked the first book (Girl W/ Dragon Tattoo) much more than this one, but together they make for two very fun reads.

My biggest complaint with this book is that it doesn't stand alone.  It would have been significantly less enjoyable had I not read the first book.  And the ending, really no ending at all, is just a place holder for the third book.

But those are minor complaints.  I did read the first book, and I plan to read the third, so all in all a very enjoyable read.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Alas, Babylon, by Pat Frank

Another pickup from PaperBack Swap, really enjoyed this one although it was pretty hard to read.  A nuclear war survival story about a group in central Florida.  It took me a while to get through this, not because it was dense or boring, I've just not had a lot of time to devote to pleasure reading.  I hope that changes soon.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Everybody Smokes in Hell, by John Ridley

Embarrassing, but another book I did not finish.  I'd had this one on my to-read list for a while, but once I finally picked it up I could not get into this thing.  I gave it 2 or 3 chapters, but knew it wasn't for me and didn't feel like forcing myself to read it.  Great title, got to give the book that credit, but the writing did not work for me.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Capricorn One, by Ron Goulart

  • Title:  Capricorn One
  • Author:  Ron Goulart
  • Purchased from Antique store outside of Denver, CO
  • Started:  5/18/2010
  • Finished: 5/19/2010
Well I didn't know until just now that the movie came first, and that the two novels by this title (one by Goulart, one by Ken Follett under the name Bernard Ross) were novelizations of the movie.  I loved this short, easy read by Goulart, but damn if I didn't think it was the basis for the movie and not the other way around. 
Anyway this book is a quick read, I'd be surprised if it took me as long to read this as it does to watch the movie.  Still very fun, exciting, and worth the 30 cents I paid for it at the CO antique store.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

About Three Bricks Shy: And The Load Filled Up, by Roy Blount Jr

I really shouldn't even have a finished line up there, as I didn't read all of this one.  I love football, and I like to read some sports books, but this one just didn't do it for me.  I read more than half of the book, but even what I read I really skimmed.  This one just didn't grab me, which surprised me since it's considered a sports classic.  Oh well.

Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg: Volume 1 Secret Sharers, by Robert Silverberg

Well I finally decided to stop adding these one story at a time and just read the entire collection and make a post about it.  First off, I loved this collection.  Silverberg's stories were fantastic (ha!), and the intros to each story were very fun.  I read every single story except the last one.  I'm sure one day I'll regret that and find out that "Enter a Solider.  Later:  Enter Another" is by far the greatest short story/novella ever written.  But much as I loved this book, 8 days of reading the same author is though going.  So when I started the final story and it didn't grab me in the first few pages, I put it down and decided I was done.  So back to the library with this book, and fond memories of some really great stories. 
I even took the volume with me to Vail for a long weekend, it made for great reading in Colorado mountains.  Really can't believe I waited this long to read Silverberg.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Cold Is The Sea, by Edward L Beach

This is the last of the Richardson-Trilogy, the first two being WW2 submarine books and this third a Cold War nuclear sub book.  The first two (Run Silent, Run Deep (Classics of Naval Literature), and Dust on the Sea (Bluejacket Books))I loved, the appeal of those old diesel subs battling the Japanese is just incredible to me.  This third one wasn't as good, in fact the first half was painfully slow.  But the second half was much better, and ended up being a fairly good read.  All in all I'm glad I've finally finished the trilogy.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Even More Previously Read Books (The Series Edition)

Ah the detective series, a bunch to list here.
Travis McGee books, by John D. MacDonald
Other books by John D. MacDonald that I remember reading.  There are definitely more, but I can't recall for sure so I'm not listing guesses:

Hap Collins & Leonard Pine books, by Joe Lansdale
Other books by Joe Lansdale that I've read. There are definitely more, but I can't recall for sure so I'm not listing guesses:

Several different series by George Pelecanos:
Nick Stefanos;
Derek Strange and Terry Quinn;
Other Pelecanos books I've read (the linking is getting to be too much, I'm sure you all can find these without the amazon links...);
  • The Big Blowdown
  • King Suckerman
  • The Sweet Forever
  • Shame the Devil
  • Shoedog
  • Drama City
  • The Night Gardener
  • The Turnaround
  • D.C. Noir (collection of short stories, Pelecanos was the editor)

Kay Scarpetta books by Patricia Cornwell:
  • Postmortem
  • Body of Evidence
  • All That Remains 
  • Cruel and Unusual
  • The Body Farm 
  • From Potter's Field 
  • Cause of Death 
  • Unnatural Exposure 
  • Point of Origin
  • The Last Precinct

Nero Wolf books by Rex Stout.  There were several more of these but I have no recollection of the titles:
  • Fer-de-Lance
  • Some Buried Caesar
  • Black Orchids

Morgan Hunt books by Geoffrey Norman.  There was a fourth book in this series, but I have no recollection of reading it:
  • Sweetwater Ranch
  • Blue Chipper
  • Deep End

James Bond books by Ian Fleming.  Again I believe I've read a few more but cannot remember:
  • Moonrakes
  • Diamonds are Forever
  • Thunderball
  • The Spy Who Loved Me

Inspector Rebus books by Ian Rankin
  • Knots and Crosses
  • Hide and Seek
  • Strip Jack

Ok, a few more non-series books to list:
Gah, too many to list.  This was a crazy idea.  No more past book lists for a while.  How in the world can someone catalog something like this?


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Another List of Previously Read Books

I don't like dumping these big lists on the site, but it's the only way I'll be able to search for a lot of these later.  These have all been read over the last decade or so.
The Bridge Overthe River Kwai, by Pierre Boulle
Jaws, by Peter Benchley
Being There, by Jerzy Kosinski
The Thin Red Line, by James Jones
From Here to Eternity, by James Jones
The Young Lions, by Irwin Shaw
Day of the Locust, by Nathanael West
The Hereafter Gang, by Neal Barrett Jr.
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, by John Godey
The Loch, by Steve Alten
New Hope for the Dead, by Charles Willieford
Fast One, by Paul Cain
The Cornell Woolrich Omnibus: Rear Window and Other Stories / I Married a Dead Man / Waltz into Darkness, by Cornell Woolrich
The Bridge Wore Black, by Cornell Woolrich
Phantom Lady, by Cornell Woolrich
The Essential Ellison (including "A Boy and His Dog" and "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream"), by Harlan Ellison
The Killer Inside Me, by Jim Thompson
The Getaway Man, by Andrew Vachss
Darker Than You Think, by Jack Williamson
Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk
Choke, by Chuck Palahniuk
Survivor, by Chuck Palahniuk
A Kiss Before Dying, by Ira Levin
The Stepford Wives, by Ira Levin
The Boys From Brazil, by Ira Levin
All Over but the Shoutin;, by Rick Bragg
Oh boy, there are a ton more to list.  I'm going to try to put together another post soon to cover some more of the past books.

Sailing to Byzantium, by Robert Silverberg

Another Silverberg short story, liked this one a lot too, although I did like Homefaring better.  Who is real?  What is real?  The story had me thinking and formulating ideas and guesses throughout.  A very enjoyable read, this collection is a lot of fun.  I think I'll tackle Secret Sharer (the short story) next, and then decide how many more of the stories in this collection I'll run through.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Homefaring, by Robert Silverberg

This is, to my knowledge, the first time I've posted about a short story I've read.  But Homefaring was on my to read list for such a long time I figured it warranted its own entry.  So Homefaring-- I loved this story.  I didn't expect to find it so moving, silly as that may sound, but I'll be damned if I wasn't touched by it.  You wouldn't think a story about a man whose mind(?) is sent forward in time into the body of an intelligent lobster would be so touching.  I expected funny, or maybe frightening even, but touching?  Well it was, and I'm not ashamed to say it.
The volume I'm reading, Secret Sharers volume 1 is also great because there are intros to each story by the author.  Always interesting to hear what the writing was thinking about, aiming for, or even where they were in life at the time they wrote the story.  I've moved on to another story (not reading all or even in the order presented in the book), I'm not sure if I'll do a separate entry for each story or combine the rest into one post on this site.  Probably depends if I keep reading this volume or if I pick up something in between.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Last Good Kiss, by James Crumley

  • Title:  The Last Good Kiss
  • Author:  James Crumley
  • Found At Take One/Leave One Bookcase At Ocean City Beach Condo
  • Started:  4/25/2010
  • Finished: 4/25/2010
I found this one in at the beach condo in Ocean City, MD, but I'd have sworn it was a book I've been wanting to read for a while.  Was the book there when we bought the beach condo?  Did I bring it down one weekend and forget about it?
Anyway, I brought it back to DC on Sunday and started reading it almost immediately.  From 4 pm until about 10 pm, I read the book straight through with just a few breaks.  I didn't find many of the characters, even the detective who is narrating, very likeable.  But it's a good mystery that kept me on my toes the entire time.

I hated to see the dog(s) killed, and the violence against women wasn't pleasant.  But it was a book that I started & finished in one day, so it was hard to put down.

The Brief History of the Dead, by Kevin Brockmeier

This one was on my "to read" list for a while and for the most part I really enjoyed it.  Part post-apocalyptic novel, part ghost/after-life story, it was overall an entertaining read.  I wondered how it would all end, and that part was a bit of a disappointment.  I was pretty sure the main character was going to die, at least after she discovered frostbite all over her body, but I expected more with those in the afterlife (called "the city").

Still I'm not sure how Brockmeier could have ended it that would have been better, or at least more satisfactory.  Overall a very enjoyable read.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

This one had been on my list to read for quite some time.  SciFi isn't my favorite genre, but there are some books I really enjoy (Ender's Game, Martian Chronicals, etc.).  My first (and only other) Bester novel was The Demolished Man, which I loved, maybe more than this one.  But The Stars My Destination was very enjoyable.  Both exciting and thought provoking, I'm glad I finally picked this one up.
On a side note, my local library (DC Public, MLK Main Branch) has made big improvements in the pop fiction collection.  Not only in what they now carry, but in the overall organization.  Reserving books online and then swinging by to pick them up from the reserved shelf (my name on the binding) makes it a real joy to use.  I wish more people used public libraries, but I guess I'm biased being a librarian.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein

My second Heinlein novel, this was a fantastic book.  I'd read Stranger in a Strange Land a few years ago but didn't really like it (or should I say "grok" it?).  But Starship Troopers was great.  Almost a coming of age story, a very enjoyable read.  My only knowledge of the book before reading it was the 1997 movie of the same title.  The movie, while cheesy, is still a lot of fun.  But it's only loosely based on the book.  Very happy I finally was able to read this one.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

We Have Always Lived In The Castle, By Shirley Jackson

I loved this book, but I made the mistake of reading the introduction by Jonathan Lethem first. I like Lethem, I loved his book Motherless Brooklyn. But what an ass with his introduction, how about a spoiler alert? I often read book introductions first but I expect them not to give away the major plot points of the book, as Lethem's did. So the book was a bit of a let down when I already knew most of what was to come and the major revelations. None-the-less, an excellent as always Jackson story. I still think Hill House is my favorite, but Castle was also superb.

The Sign of Four, by Arthur Conan Doyle

It didn't really take me more than a month to read this fantastic book. I started the book on 3/1/10, but as I noted in an earlier post we then took a trip and went to the beach, and kept on doing things where a big book like this New Annotated Holmes was just too cumbersome to bring along. So I've been reading lots of other books on those trips and took a break from this one. I was thrilled to get back to it though, as this is a fantastic book, a great mystery, and again I can only say wonderful things about the annotations by Mr. Klinger. Seeing Watson fall in love, Holmes pick up, lose, and then regain the trail of the killers. A speeding boat chase with a blood-thirsty pygmy... Such a great book.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sins of the Father, by Ruth Rendell

This is it, officially the last book left from the lot I won at the auction last year.  Did a pretty good job stretching those out of the last 8 or so months too.  This was a book I'd tried to start early in the winter but could not get into it.  Glad I waited, it was a very enjoyable mystery, maybe the best of the three or four Rendell books I picked up. 
I think it's time I got back into those Sherlock Holmes books in the new annotated collection. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Thin Air, by Robert Parker

  • Title:  Thin Air
  • Author:  Robert Parker
  • Found At Take One/Leave One Bookcase At Ocean City Beach Condo
  • Started 4/3/2010
  • Finished 4/3/2010
Another Spenser novel.  I needed something to read at the beach condo in Ocean City, MD this weekend.  I haven't gone through all the books we received when we purchased this condo, so I didn't realize there was another Spenser book there.  I didn't care too much for this one, plot wise it was actually one of the better Spenser novels.  But the lack of smart-ass prose made it a lot less fun to read.  Was an easy read to polish off in one afternoon though, an almost ideal beach-read, perhaps.

The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown

I'd like to think I don't have any preconceived notions, but the reality is I was already inclined not to like this book.  Unfortunately, it lived up to my expectations.  Back when it came out I read Da Vinci Code and liked it, didn't love it, but it was reasonably exciting and a quick, fun read.  But that was it, I knew I wouldn't love any other Dan Brown books so I didn't pick any up. 
But I got The Lost Symbol as a gift and it was at our beach condo when I needed a new book to read.  It takes place in DC, where I live, and the first half was about what I expected.  Not bad, not great, but definitely a page turner.  But at about the halfway point it took a turn that was just too asinine.  I found myself barely able to complete the book as one stupid plot point followed another, as one crazy coincidence or amazing "discover" followed another.  By the time it was over I knew I'd never pick up another Dan Brown book, ever again.  That's ok though, the guy has hammed out ridiculously successful novels and will continue to do so, I'm sure.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy

I started this one a long, long time ago.  Months ago.  It's a fairly short novel, but it didn't grab me and I'd already been disillusioned with a previous Percy novel.  So I put it down and read other things, but came back to it about a week ago and picked it up again.  It was as if I'd picked up a different novel entirely.  This time I loved it, captivated by it, could not put it down.  I can't tell you what the difference was, but I really enjoyed it with this second attempt. 
I'd pretty much sworn off Percy novels after reading (and disliking) Love in the Ruins.  But I'm tempted to give him another shot now.  There is something about a person living inside themselves, often to a fault, that I can identify with in some ways.  I'll see how I feel after I read another Percy book.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Steig Larsson

My sister told me about this book which she had read as part of a book club.  While I was in FLA she let me borrow it and I started reading it almost immediately.  Struck with a cold shortly thereafter I thought I'd finish it in a couple of days, but my persistent sore throat made it hard for me to concentrate on a book I was so enjoying.
Feeling better this week I really started reading it with a passion Tues-Wed-Thursday nights.  I didn't want to go to sleep I was so captivated.  I thought the mystery portion was top-notch, really enjoyed it.  I found the last section a bit boring, little of a let down, after the main mystery is summed up with dozens of pages remaining on the personal vendetta portion.
None-the-less, this is a great book.  I think I might check out the movie this weekend at E-Street Cinema.
On a side note, I feel bad b/c I dropped the book in the bath one night while reading in the tub... it's now a gigantic water-logged mess with no resale value on  Sorry about that sis!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, by Seth Grahame-Smith

My wife and I became pretty big fans of Lincoln's (I know, who isn't, right?) when we bought a condo overlooking Ford's Theatre and the escape route (read: Alley) that John Wilkes Booth used to escape. Our interest in the President only increased when at a Library of Congress book event on the mall we listened to James Swanson discuss his book Manhunt: The 12 day chase for Lincoln's Killer. We immediately bought the book, took turns reading it, then passed it around to friends & family. Both my wife and I loved it and we've sought out other books on Lincoln when the mood strikes.

Well this past Wednesday, the mood struck. I was flying to FLA to accompany my wife who had a three day conference in Orlando. Although my family lives in central FLA (I'm from Lakeland) they would be working during the day, so I had time to kill. I'd heard about Grahame-Smith's book and wanted to give it a shot. I've not read his Jane Austen Zombie book, much as I like Zombies I'm not much of an Austen fan. Much as I'm not a Vampire fan, I do like Lincoln and wanted to check out Grahame-Smith's writing style.

Overall I enjoyed it a lot. It's a fast, easy read, that makes all the big parts of Lincoln's life (good & bad) Vampire related. I found myself pulled in to the book quickly and not wanting to put it down. Never scary or disgusting (well maybe a little, mostly slave related, but that's more disgust about slavery in general) it was still quite an enjoyable read.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz

My next book was to be Conan Doyle's "The Sign Of Four" as published in the wonderful New Annotated Sherlock Holmes. In fact I was more than half way through that story when we decided to head to our beach condo in Ocean City, MD. I can't say enough good things about The New Annotated Sherlock, but the one downside is the size of the book. It's huge, not great for reading on the beach or while soaking in a tub. So knowing I was heading to the beach I grabbed the next paperback on my agenda which is the subject of today's post.

This one surprised me, I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. Hard to describe, kind of a coming of age story for a Dominican Republic/American fat kid. But it's a lot more than that, the story is as much about Oscar's family (and the narrator, a family friend) as it is about Oscar. I'd just butcher the story trying to explain it, but I'm sure glad I read it. I wish I could come up with a better description of the story, suffice it to say I had a hard time putting this one down each time I picked it up.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Study In Scarlet, by Arthur Conan Doyle

This is what I've been waiting for weeks now to read.  Walking my dog one day in mid-January, I happened to look down and see a gift card in a tree box.  I picked it up to see it was for Barnes & Noble and when I got home I checked the balance online to find out it has $25 on it (I subsequently gave $40 to a homeless man over the next two weeks to make up for my good fortune).
Back in 2007, before I started this blog, I had borrowed from the public library the first two volumes of The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Short Stories.  This set was a revelation to me.  I had not read all of the Holmes stories before, so it was great for that purpose alone.  But when you add the annotations and scholarship included, all written in the "Sherlockian" tradition.  This was all new to me, especially the Sherlockian scholars, which treat Holmes and Watson as real people, and Conan Doyle as not much more than a well educated editor.  It really opened my eyes to how much more complex these stories could be, and it added layers upon layers to the stories.

And the annotations!  I enjoy them almost as much as I do the stories.  Some are more historical, which are helpful, but the real fun comes from the annotations that discuss the various theories laid out by Sherlockian scholars about the meaning of a word, the theory's about why Watson phrased something as he did, etc.  I cannot even begin to express how much I enjoyed the first two volumes of this book dealing with the short stories.
The public library did not, however, have the third volume.  I live in a fairly small one bedroom condo (with my wife and our dog) and we have no book shelves.  I borrow all my books, or I buy them and then usually give them away or trade them in.  So I hesitated to buy the third book back in 2007 that contained the Holmes novels, and I had a long list of other things to read.  One thing led to another, until this fateful day in January when I found the $25 gift card.
I live about 2 blocks from a B&N and considered buying the book there and putting the difference on my credit card.  But that same day I received an email offer from B&N with a big online savings coupon (a sign!) so I decided to buy it online at a big discount with free shipping.  All told the $60 book would only cost me a few dollars out of pocked.
A week went by and the book was finally shipped.  It should have arrived just before the three big February snow storms hit DC.  I was so excited to be inside all day reading and studying this volume.  But B&N let me down, shipping it via the slowest rate possible.  So it was only delayed extra time by the snow.  I received the book almost a full month after I bought it, but once it arrived all anger about the shipping method was gone. 
I did my best to take my time and study both the story and the annotations, taking additional time to re-read some of them that were familiar to me from the earlier two volumes to refresh my memory.  I really enjoyed this first of the four stories to no end.  The first meeting of the detective and his biographer.  The introduction to the method of deduction.  And of course, the numerous annotations dealing with all pieces, great and small, in this wonderful book.
I'm already on to the second story, and will really struggle not to buy the first to volumes now to re-read those.  Leslie Klinger has done a wonderful job with this set, and he's turned me into a Sherlockian for life.  Now I need to figure out how to become a member of the Baker Street Irregulars...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dune, by Frank Herbert

  • Title: Dune
  • Author: Frank Herbert
  • Borrowed from my office take-one-leave-one library
  • Started: 2/16/2010
  • Finished: 2/21/2010
Dune is one of those books I've always wondered about but never felt compelled to pursue. It happened to fall into my lap by being made available at the office's library while I was awaiting a delivery of my next planned books (very excited about these). So I read Dune, and although I objectively really didn't like it, I also could not put it down. I didn't watch much TV the last 5 days days and instead spent my free time reading the book. I imagine this is how I would feel about a Danielle Steel romance novel: I would probably not like the books, but find the writing so compelling that I had to keep reading, and in some ways hated myself for liking the books.

I'm glad I've finally read Dune, but I won't bother with the rest of the series. Although it's a reported mess, I will track down a copy of the theatrical release of the movie and watch that to see how closely it relates to what I just read.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sackett's Land, by Louis L'Amour

It took me a ridiculous amount of time to get through this short, easy read.  I thought it was a Western when I bought it, turned out to be more of a new-world exploration book.  Not my kind of read, but I powered through it. 

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Catskill Eagle, by Robert Parker

It just so happened I was in the middle of this book when the author passed away.  I still don't have any special fondness for these Spenser novels the way I do other mystery series, but they're entertaining enough. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Vanity Dies Hard, by Ruth Rendell

Although I started this short novel early in the week, I really didn't spend much time reading it until a rainy Sunday afternoon in Ocean City.  This was a fun read, but I had guessed at the major plot point very early on so none of it came as much of a surprise.  Still an enjoyable enough quick read.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

From Doon With Death, by Ruth Rendell

First book of 2010 is a short one from Ruth Rendell. I'm down tot he last few book from the lot I won at a local auction house. I have at least two more Ruth Rendell books left, I'll probably hammer through these over the next few weeks before moving on to something else. Too much of my time has been taken up with the video game FallOut 3 on my PS3. I should be spending more time practicing guitar & reading.