Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

Another one of those books I'd been hearing about for such a long time but never bothered to pick up, well I finally did bother a few weeks ago.  The book is funny and interesting enough to have kept me occupied on a 2 hour flight down to Orlando and back, but I wasn't totally hooked.  I think this is a book that would have appealed to me a lot more in my late teens to early 20s, the end of high school first few years of college time.  But now it was an ok read that I'll probably never think about again.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Replay, by Ken Grimwood

  • Title:  Replay
  • Author:  Ken Grimwood
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library
  • Started:  10/1/2011
  • Finished:  10/22/2011
This recommendation came from the magazine, The Week.  In that magazine they have a page where they ask an author for a handful of their favorite books, usually with some theme or topic.  I don't know which author it was, but Replay was one of the books he listed as his favorites on the chosen topic.  It sounded fun so I picked it up, then I had trouble putting it down. 
This was a really fun book, sort of a life-long groundhog day and even that's not a very good or fair description.  It was a very entertaining read that I only allowed myself to look at over the weekends, or I knew I'd be up late week nights trying to finish.  I'd never heard of Grimwood but will almost certainly pick up some of his other books to see if I like them as much as Replay.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln's Corpse, by James L. Swanson

  • Author:  James L. Swanson
  • Purchased at Fox News store in Dulles Airport
  • Started:  8/21/2011
  • Finished:  9/3/2011
My wife and I both read and loved Swanson's earlier work Manhunt: The 12 day chase for Lincoln's Killer, so when I saw this follow up book I knew I'd found the perfect book to read while relaxing in Iceland.  Unfortunately Bloody Crimes is no Manhunt.  Although the "chase" for Jefferson Davis is the lead in the title, the book is really barely about Jefferson Davis, and what is there is again barely related to any chase.  I suppose a book titled "the accidental stumbling upon of Jefferson Davis" wouldn't have had the same ring to it...  All in all the book is really about Lincoln's funeral train.  A topic that I did not find very fascinating, and that based on this book probably deserved a magazine article sized write up, maybe Vanity Fair, and not an entire novel-length work.
I had to force myself to finish this book on the latter part of my vacation in Ocean City, MD, while laying on the beach.  I got through it, but just barely, which is probably the same review I'd have written for any book picked up at an airport newsstand.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse, Edited by John Joseph Adams

I had been wanting to read this for what seems like years, after reading a review in either the Post or the WSJ (WSJ most likely).  Collection of apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic stories by famous sci-fi/fantasy/doomsday authors.  For the most part an enjoyable book, although it didn't live up to my (years?) of anticipation.  But there were enough gems in there to make it a worthwhile read.

I don't expect to have any updates until the end of August.  Life events and schedules are such that I won't be reading much until my vacation at the end of August.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rendezvous in Black, by Cornell Woolrich

I initially had this book on a list of books by Woolrich that I had read, but when I re-read the description I realized I had not, it was nother in the black series I had read.  The opening of this book (very opening) describing the love between the the to-be-married couple was great, Woolrich really had a way with words and feelings.  But the dead of the bride-to-be is hillariously stupid.  Still it sets up the revenge plot that is great fun for the rest of the book.

The finale is a little lame (as was the opening death mentioned above) but 90% of this book is great, one of the best noir mysteries I'd read in a while.
Off topic (sort of), but "rendezvous" is a great word.  I'm not sure I was ever conscous of the spelling until I sat down to read this book.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Valley of Fear, by Arthur Conan Doyle

Anyone tired of my constant praise of Leslie Klinger's works can rest secure in the knowledge that I've polished off everything he has to offer.  Today's update is the last story in the Holmes anthology, so I have nothing else to read & review.  The Valley of Fear was a holmes story I'd never read, nor did I have any knowledge of/background with the Molly Maguires (whom the second half of the story surrounds).  This wasn't my favorite Holmes story, and of the story this one had the least annotations.  But it was still enjoyable and I certainly wish I had more of these to consume.

Barney's Version, by Mordecai Richler

I disovered this book via The Thrilling Detective Blog which is updated infrequently, but often when it is I find a new book to read or author to check out.  I don't always like the suggestions, but when I do I often really like this.
That's the case this time with Barney's Version.  A book (and author) I'd never heard of, which turned out to be a really enjoyable read.  There is an underlying mystery in the book, but it is really secondary to just seeing the story of Barney's life unfold (at least his version) through ups and downs, wives and friends, successes and failures.  It's hard to describe, but I really enjoyed it and did not want to put it down at night.  Don't let the two weeks it took me to read the book fool you, it is merely a reflection of my taking my time with this one, and only reading a few pages at at time before bed.  I had probably only read half of the book over the first 13 days before polishing it off with an all-day reading session on the beach.
I'm embarrassed to admit I didn't see where the underlying mystery was going.  I feel like I'm generally pretty good at catching these things and in hindsight (of course) it seems obvious.  But I missed it, which made the ending that much better/funnier/more of a surprise.

Monday, May 2, 2011

World's Greatest Sleuth!, by Steve Hockensmith

I hate doing this as I've been a big fan of these Holmes on the Range stories, but I have to give this one a negative review.  This book just didn't live up to the previous novels in any respect.  Some of the other books had pretty weak plots, but the characters and dialog were so enjoyable they were still good reads.  This one, unfortunately, just doesn't have much going for it.  I'm happy for the author, since taking over the Pridge & Predjudice & Zombies franchise I suspect he's become wealthier and can now pursue other projects that he couldn't before.  I just got the feeling this novel had been phoned in, but maybe the next one in the series will pick right back up again.

The Hound Of The Baskervilles, by Arthur Conan Doyle

I know it's been forever since I posted, basically I just have not been reading as much.  But as I've mentioned several times before, I love these Klinger annotated Holmes stories.  While I've read Hound several times, I was once again very entertained to read the excellent story along with Klinger's annoatations.  Only one more story left in the book, a closed-door mystery I've never heard of before.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lost Echoes, by Joe R. Lansdale

  • Title:  Lost Echoes
  • Author:  Joe R Lansdale
  • Received from Paperback Swap
  • Started:  February 2011
  • Finished:  March 20, 2011
I feel like I've fallen into a pit and can't get out, when it comes to reading books.  Lately I just haven't felt like devoting the time & effort into it, which probably sounds worse than I intend.  It's not that things are bad, I just haven't been craving reading like I sometimes do.  Outside of the WSJ in the morning, I'm not doing reading much.
So for the last several months I've had about 4 books going, trying to get one of them to grab me.  My last update was about another Lansdale book and I thought maybe he could bring the magic back.  Unfortunately this book, Lost Echoes, was terrible.  Not anywhere close to the greatness of many of the other Lansdale books. 

I think I've got a couple of good books waiting for me though, so all I need to do now is motivate.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Leather Maiden, by Joe R. Lansdale

I've read many of Lansdale's novels.  I've not read any comic/graphic books, and only a handful of his short stories.  But when it comes to the novels, I've read several.  Loved his Hap Collins & Leonad Pine books and I've read all 8 of those; It was Hap & Leonard that got me started with his work.  But from there I've read just about all he's published including:

Act of Love
Cold in July
The Bottoms
A Fine Dark Line
Sunset & Sawdust
I really liked The Bottoms, but they're all fun reads.  Leather Maiden wasn't my favorite, but Lansdale has a way of writing that makes you not care that much about the plot, it's just fun to read.  But if someone were looking for a good place to start with Lansdale, this would not be my choice.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi

A coworker was looking for Sci Fi recommendations for her young daughter as part of a high school reading requirment.  I suggested a few books I'd heard of, and in the course of her searching she came up with this book, Ship Breaker, that she thought I might like.  I don't read much youth literature, but I did really enjoy Ender's Game & Z for Zachariah, so I wanted to give this one a try.
It's a fun book, and I could see having really liked it as a teen.  Not the greatest book for an adult, I found a lot of pacing off and the characters lacking.  And the beat-you-over-the-head global warming message was a too much for me.  None-the-less a decent, action packed book that I overall enjoyed.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Swan Song, by Robert McCammon

  • Title:  Swan Song
  • Author:  Robert McCammon
  • Purchased from used bookstore in Ocean City, MD
  • Started:  1/9/2011
  • Finished 1/23/2011
My never-ending quest for post apocalyptic novels always produced hits on this book, Swan Song.  I liked the title (also the title of one of the greatest Columbo episodes ever, featuring Johnny Cash as the bad guy) but my library didn't have it and I was always looking for a cheap purchase.  Well I found it at a used book store in ocean city, great condition paperback, just a few dollars. 
I should have let them keep the money.  Really disliked this book, not because it was too disturbing (it was a 5 on a disturbing scale of 10, I'd say) or too preachy (it was way too preachy), but none of it grabbed me.  I didn't find any of the characters likeable, believable, or even fun to read about.  I read the whole damn thing, albeit slowly, but one of my least favorite PA novels to date.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ten Plus One (87th Precinct Mystery), by Ed McBain

  • Title:  Ten Plus One
  • Author:  Ed McBain
  • Purchased from used bookstore in Ocean City, MD
  • Started:  1/8/2011
  • Finished:  18/2011
I've read a good number of the early 87th Precinct books and like them a lot.  This one was no exception, a good procedural.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

So Brave, Young and Handsome, by Leif Enger

Sometime back in 2008 I read Leif Enger's Peace Like a River and loved it.  I passed the book along to my mother, an asthmatic, who also loved it.  Not only for the story, but b/c she said it was the best description of what it feels like to be an asthma sufferer.  Like I said I loved PLaR, but for no good reason I never picked up Enger's second book, the subject of this post.

So Brave, Young and Handsome is kind of a western, something like a Charles Portis western maybe.  Humorous at times, sad or poignant at others.  I loved the book.  Some chapters are just a page or two long, parts of the story stretch belief, but I don't care.  I hated putting this book down each night, and thought about how I'd get to continue reading all the next day.

The Border Legion, by Zane Grey

  • Title:  The Border Legion
  • Author:  Zane Grey
  • Purchased from used bookstore in Ocean City, MD
  • Started:  11/24/2010
  • Finished:  11/30/2010
I'm way behind on updating this site, but I've only read a few books so it's not a huge deal.  I like westerns, or at least thought I did, but I'd never read any Zane Grey.  I was always curious about his book so when I came across this one in a used book store for next to nothing, I picked it up.  I hated it.  Boring, melodramatic, it felt phoned-in.
I feel like I should give his big breakthrough book a chance, Riders of the Purple Sage, and I probably will.  But not anytime soon.