Monday, December 30, 2013

You Only Live Twice, by Ian Fleming

  • Title:  You Only Live Twice
  • Author:  Ian Fleming
  • Borrowed from Kindle Library
  • Started: 12/26/2013
  • Finished:  12/29/2013
Another enjoyable Bond book, the end of the Blofeld series.  Also another cliff hanger, an amnesiac Bond is living with a native Pacific islander, rowing and fishing his days away, but thinking he might need to go to Russia to figure out who or what he really is. 
If the other cliff hangers in the series are any indication, the next book with quickly move on with just a sentence or two to explain how Bond got back to normal health.
Probably my last update of the year, had hoped to beat my previous best of 60 books but will come up one or two short.  The extremely long but enjoyable Stone's Fall (practically 3 books in 1) stymied my progress to suprass 60 books in 2013.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Great Game, by Michael Kurland

Title: The Great Game
Author: Michael Kurland
Borrowed from DC public library
Started: 12/3/2013
Finished: 12/25/2013

Hit a bit of a slow-down in reading at the end if the year. Didn't like this book as much as the first series, but still an ok read.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Infernal Device and Others: A Professor Moriarty Omnibus, by Michael Kurland

I'm cheating a bit here as I haven't actually finished the book.  I have, however, finished the titular story and the second story, so with just one more remaining it seemed worth writing up.  This series focuses on Moriarty, as a criminal genius of sort, but not the overall criminal genius from the Holmes stories.  In fact Holmes comes off as obsessed with Moriarty and looking to blame all crime on him.  The two stories have been enjoyable, another fun off-shoot from the Conan Doyle stories.

Stone's Fall, by Iain Pears

  • Title:  Stone's Fall
  • Author: Iain Pears
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (audio book)
  • Started: 10/12/2013
  • Finished:  12/2/2013
This was a very enjoyable, but very long, book.  It took me months to finish, but since it was broken up into three parts it was easy to take a break when necessary.  The ending threw me, still not sure how I feel about it.  Daring, but also a huge coincidence.  A bit of Chinatown at the end, but it doesn't matter.  Overall, very enjoyable.

Friday, November 15, 2013

On Her Majesty's Secret Service, by Ian Fleming

Title:  On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Author:  Ian Fleming
Borrowed from Kindle store
Started:  11/1/2013
Finished:  11/15/2013

This might be my favorite of the series so far. Even knowing Tracy would die, it was still a sad, moving shock when it happened.  In some ways a slower Bond novel, I really liked this one. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Wine-Dark Sea, by Patrick O'Brian

Book #16 in the Aubrey-Maturin series (Master & Commander), I hate that this series is very quickly coming to a close.  Everyone is older now, old in fact, and their luck is starting to turn.  These books long ago stopped being about the quality of a single work, and more about the serial novel being written as a whole.  Just so damn enjoyable.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Spy Who Loved Me, by Ian Fleming

  • Title:  The Spy Who Loved Me
  • Author:  Ian Fleming
  • Borrowed via Kindle Lending Library,
  • Started:  10/13/2013
  • Finished:  10/19/2013
Before I get to this book I wanted to comment that every time I read one of the books, the damn corresponding song from the movie is stuck in my head.  Not just when I pick it up to read the book, but the entire time this is the book I have lined up.  So if it takes me 6 days to finish the book, as it did this time, I've spend almost a week singing in my head "Nobody does it better..." over and over again.
Anyway, I had read this one before, maybe the first Bond book I ever read (although I think that was actually Moonraker).  I liked it then, and still like it now although less so.  I know most consider it an abomination, but I like the telling of the story from the young lady's point of view, no matter how bad Fleming was at writing from such a view.  It's still a fun break from the usual.

Of course Fleming really loses people near the end of the book with a comment of something like "all women want semi-rape sex" so he no doubt deserves all the criticisim he got for this book.  Still, I found it an enjoyable read, and the worse James Bond book is still a lot more fun than most other spy thrillers.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Prisoner's Base, by Rex Stout

  • Title:  Prisoner's Base
  • Author:  Rex Stout
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Audiobook)
  • Started: 10/3/2013
  • Finished:  10/11/2013
One of the best Nero Wolfe books in recent memory.  This one was dark, much more so than usual, without the lure of a high paying client to justify Wolfe's involvement. The final murder, in particular, really left an impression and made me (the reader) wish Archie had handled things differently.  That's the sign of a good writer/great characters:  I'm wishing a fictional character had handled things differently...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Witches' Children, by Patricia Clapp

  • Title:  Witches' Children
  • Author:  Patricia Clapp
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library
  • Started: 10/6/2013
  • Finished: 10/9/2013
I didn't like this one as much as Jane-Emily, but still a fun read.  Good for a colder October day.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Jane-Emily, by Patricia Clapp

  • Title:  Jane-Emily
  • Author:  Patricia Clapp
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Kindle Book)
  • Started:  10/5/2013
  • Finished:  10/5/2013
Jane-Emily is probably considered a novella, maybe even a long-ish short story.  I read this because a few online reviewers of the last ghost-story I read (The Little Stranger) compared the two.  Jane-Emily was part of a two book set, the second of which is "Witches' Children" but I'm still reading that one.
Jane-Emily did have some similarities to The Little Stranger, but was a much more straight-forward ghost story, for a younger audience, and was very enjoyable.  I read this one mostly while laying on the beach in Ocean City with an unseasonably warm October day.  While I really enjoyed this quick read, I'm not getting the same satisfaction from Witches' Children and expect a very short update on that book next.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

All the Earth, Thrown to the Sky, by Joe R. Lansdale

Title:  All the Earth, Thrown to the Sky
Author: Joe Lansdale
A gift from Mom
Started:  10/1/2013
Finished: 10/4/2013

My mom and sister came to visit me about a month ago. As they were leaving my sister was looking for a book to read and I game her Lansdale's "The Bottoms."  

My sister passed the book to my mom when finished, and my mom seemed to really enjoy it. So much so she picked up several other books by Lansdale, including then one I'm writing about today. 

Atettts is similar to The Bottoms. A coming of age story with lots of hardship, love, good and bad people, and action (and a hell of a lot of coincidences). It's a young persons book, but charming and enjoyable for all readers. Not as polished as The Bottoms, atettts was still an enjoyable read. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters

A little break from my James Bond, Aubrey/Maturin, Nero Wolfe books.  I wanted another audiobook for while I exercise, but wasn't sure what I wanted to listen to.  I decided to see what Overdrive (my library's audiobook vendor) offered that was read by Simon Vance, the man who narrates all of the Aubrey/Maturin (Master & Commander) books I've so enjoyed.
It was in that search that I discovered this book, The Little Stranger.  I have not read any of Waters books previously, and didn't read anything about this one except that it was something of a period piece ghost story.  That sounded fun, if potentially spooky (I work out in the gym in my building around 5 am, almost always alone). I wasn't disappointed.
The book isn't really a ghost story (or is it?), definitely a period piece, and is a real slow burner.  I suspect some people would find it too slow, maybe boring.  Had I read it, rather than having Vance read it to me, maybe I would have found it so as well.
But that's not the case, and I found it to be a very entertaining book.  The ending, initially, was  a disappointment to me as it never explained if the goings on were supernatural or not, and even if supernatural who, whom, or how many were doing the haunting.  But as I thought the book over (and over, and over), and then turned to online discussions to see what others have said, I think the book is probably ended pretty well.  I'd love just a bit more info, but I guess that's the sign of a good book.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Thunderball, by Ian Fleming

  • Title:  Thunderball
  • Author:  Ian Fleming
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library
  • Started: 9/23/2013
  • Finished:  9/28/2013
James-Bond-Fest continues in order with Thunderball, an entertaining book with the first introduction of SPECTRE and Blofeld.  This book, if I'm not mistaken, is also the one which caused a lot of headaches for the author, who lost part of his control over Bond to a man who sued (and won, again, I believe) saying the story was his idea.  You shouldn't take my word for any of this, and a quick internet search would no doubt provide the proper details.  But as this site is just a place for me to note the books I've read and my musings, it hardly seems worth the trouble.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Truelove, by Patrick O'Brian

  • Title:  The Truelove
  • Author:  Patrick O'Brian
  • Borrowed from DC Public (Audiobook)
  • Started: 9/19/2013
  • Finished:  9/24/2013
I continue to enjoy these novels quite a bit.  Truelove (15th in the Aubrey/Maturin, AKA Master & Commander series) started a little slow for me, but quickly developed into a very enjoyable  novel.  The subplot (main plot?) with Clarissa had me confused at some points, wondered if I understood the underlying context and meaning at all times.
At any rate, an enjoyable continuation of these wonderful characters.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fuzz, by Ed McBain

  • Title:  Fuzz
  • Author:  Ed McBain
  • Purchased from Antique shop in Fenwick Island, DE
  • Started: 9/18/2013
  • Finished:  9/22/2013
Three of these 87th Precinct books in relatively quick succession is one too many.  I probably would have liked this book just fine if I read it 6 months from now, but reading it on the heels of two others is just too much of the same.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Jigsaw, by Ed McBain

  • Title:  Jigsaw
  • Author:  Ed McBain
  • Purchased from antique stores on the Eastern Shore, in DE
  • Started: 9/15/2013
  • Finished: 9/17/2013
Another 87th Precinct book, another satisfying procedural.  Not the best plot, but some pretty entertaining writing. 

In the Best Families, by Rex Stout

This novel completes the Arnold Zeck trilogy (Nero Wolfe's Moriarty).  Zeck wasn't much of a villian, and his death isn't much of a story.  In fact I enjoyed this book the least of any Wolfe novel in recent memory.
First off I should note the following:  I am a hypocrite.  If you look through this site at the novels I've read, the vast majority are crime novels, and the vast majority of those deal with the deaths of humans.  I am not bothered by these deaths, for the most part, at all.  But in this book, along with a woman being killed, so is her loyal dog.  And dammit if that didn't really get to me.
With that out of the way we get to the first reason I didn't enjoy this book very much:  Although I've always thought the narrator (Archie Goodwin) was my favorite character, it turns out I don't like him as much as I thought when he doesn't have Wolfe around.  In this book, Wolfe is around in the beginning and the end, but the majority of the book is Wolfe free.  Goodwin, without Wolfe, is a pain in the ass.  I'm sure Stout did this on purpose, and I imagine Wolfe without Goodwin is equally a pain.   And it turns out Goodwin doesn't like dogs, and doesn't seem to care much that one died.  Strike two.
Another reason I wasn't much of a fan of this one is the Arnold Zeck death is anticlimactic to say the least, and Zeck really never seems like much of a threat. 
Stout (the author), however is to be commended.  He clearly knows (knew) his audience, and I must admit I fell for the having Goodwin not care about dogs business.  After Zeck is killed there is still the question of who killed the woman who hired Wolfe in the beginning (she was killed while walking her dog, her dog was killed immedately after she was).
Wolfe states (paraphrasing) to his collected guests, one of whom is the killer, that the death of the dog was in fact worse than the death of the woman.  The woman was killed for her money.  A tragic death, but not an uncommon one.  But the dog, the dog was killed by someone she loved and trusted, and the killer broke this trust and for that Wolfe insisted he be brought to justice.
So Stout (the author) made me finally find a flaw in Goodwin (the narrator), but raised my esteem for Wolfe.  The ending where Wolfe is stating how the dog loved and trusted the killer probably wouldn't mean much to a non-animal person, but if you've ever loved a dog, it will get to you.  I found the description stayed with me for hours after I'd read it.  It didn't have the power of the Polar Bear story I mentioned in my last update (O'Brian's Nutmeg of Consolation), but it was moving none-the-less.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hail, Hail, The Gang's All Here, by Ed McBain

  • Title:  Hail, Hail, The Gang's All Here
  • Author:  Ed McBain
  • Purchased from antique stores on the Eastern Shore, in DE
  • Started:  9/14/2013
  • Finished: 9/14/2013
A one day beach read, my kind of day and book.  Love these old police procedurals from McBain (an 87th Precinct book).  This is contained in a volume with three of these 87th Precinct novels contained therein, so I'll have a few more of these to post soon I imagine.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Nugmeg of Consolation

The most unweildy title of the series so far, as I got closer to listening to the one I was curious what the Nutmeg of Consolation would be.  Silly me, it was (is?) a ship, of course.
I'm pressed for time so won't go into this much except to say two things:
1.  I enjoyed it very much, as I have all of the other Aubrey/Maturin (Master & Commander) books (this one is book 14), and
2.  Holy crap -- the polar bear story in this book is perhaps the saddest thing I've heard heard.  A tiny aside in the big work, that has (seemingly) no connection to the story, it is just incredibly powerful, and moreso, terribly sad.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Fletch and the Man Who, by Gregory McDonald

Title: Fletch and the Man Who
Author: Gregory McDonald
Purchased from used book store in Ocean City, MD
Started: 8/32/2013
Finished: 9/2/2013

Another Fletch book, the last purchased at the used book store while on vacation, pretty weak overall.

The Thirteen-Gun Salute, by Patrick O'Brian

  • Title:  The Thirteen-Gun Salute
  • Author:  Patrick O'Brian
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Audiobook)
  • Started: 8/19/2013
  • Finished:  9/2/2013
Yet another in the Aubrey/Maturin (Master & Commander) series.  I didn't love this one as much as the others, but still an eminently enjoyable read.  I've said it before, but I'll be very sad when I reach the end of this series.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Flynn, by Gregory McDonald

Title: Flynn
Author: Gregory McDonald
Purchased from used book store in Ocean City, MD
Started: 8/30/2013
Finished: 8/31/2013

Part of a collection of books by McDonald I picked up. Didn't enjoy Flynn, a spin off from the authors Fletch series.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Fletch's Fortune, by Gregory McDonald

Title: Fletch's Fortune
Author: Gregory McDonald
Purchased from used book store
Started: 8/29/2013
Finished: 8/30/2013

I've read a few other fletch books, including the first. Entertaining, witty reads, so-so mysteries. This was no different.

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, by Roald Dahl

  • Title:  Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
  • Author:  Roald Dahl
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library
  • Started: 8/21/2013
  • Finished 8/21/2013

The last updates have been very short, sent from my phone or other portable device just so I don't forget to add them.  Not a reflection on quality (I really enjoyed "The Letter of Marque" for instance). 

This book, however, was terrible.  None of the cute fun of the other Dahl books, can't believe it was even the same author.  Really horrible. 

The Second Confession, by Rex Stout

  • Title:  The Second Confession
  • Author:  Rex Stout
  • Purchased from PaperbackSwap
  • Started: 8/25/2013
  • Finished: 8/28/2013
Second book in the Arnold Zeck trilogy (Nero Wolfe's Moriarty), very enjoyable.  First of these I've read and not listened too in a while.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Letter of Marque, by Patrick O'Brian

Title: The Letter of Marque
Author: Patrick O'Brian
Borrowed from dc public as audio book
Started: 8-15-2013
Finished: 8-18-2013

Goldfinger, by Ian Flemming

Title: Goldfinger
Author: Ian Flemming
Borrowed from kindle library
Started: 8-1-2013
Finished: 8-18-2013

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick deWitt

I'm torn on this one.  I really enjoyed the story while listening to it, hated when I had to stop for one reason or another.  But when I finished it this morning I didn't really like the ending at all, and as I look back I'm not sure I could recommend the book.  I'm not sorry I listened to it, as I said I like some of it very much, but overall I was looking for a more cohesive story, I suppose.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Reverse of the Medal, by Patrick O'Brian

This is the 11th of the Aubrey/Maturin series (aka Master & Commander) and this book continues the great form I've been so enjoying.  O'Brian is really in full stride now, the last several of these have just been so great, so much fun, that I wish the series could go on forever. 
This was a totally land-based book, poor Captain Aubrey has once again been duped financially and now finds himself before a civilan court.  The plot is good and entertaining, and there is a wonderful scene near the end of the men in the royal navy coming out to support  Aubrey in his hour of need. 
I've said it before, but these books just wouldn't be the same to me were they not read so expertly by Simon Vance.  The few I've read in print paled in comparison to those read by Vance.  That's not a comment on O'Brian's writing, rather my poor ability to read these characters as written.  Vance's reading removes the obstruction caused by my own inferiorities when it comes to reading these characters, and I'm grateful to him for it.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl

Like The Witches, my wife and I read this book outloud to each other, only this time I did the majority of the reading.  I started over our 3 hour drive home from the beach on Sunday and blew through half of the book, practically yelling to cover the noise from having the top off of our jeep.  These are very fun, easy reads, extremely enjoyable.  Sharing them with someone you love, creating different voices for the characters, such fun.
Now this probably indicates that we should have kids rather than two grown people reading them to each other (even our dog in the backseat tuned out most of the story), but this is who we are, and it was damn enjoyable.

Monday, July 29, 2013

World of Wonders, by Robertson Davies

  • Title:  World of Wonders (book 3 in the Deptford Trilogy)
  • Author:  Robertson Davies
  • Borrowed from Coworker
  • Started: 7/22/2013
  • Finished: 7/29/2013 (at 3 am on a sleepless sunday night/monday morning...)
I wanted to really like this book, the final chapter in the Deptford Trilogy, but if I'm being honest this book was a let down to me.  The first book (the fifth business) was just amazing, and the next two so much less so, to me.  But I see from online reviews that I am in the minorty, many consider World of Wonders to be the best of the bunch.  Maybe I've been reading too many hack-mysteries...
Very happy to have read these three books, and grateful to my coworkers for the recommendation.

And Be A Villian, by Rex Stout

Much as I enjoy the Nero Wolfe audio books, I really need to take a break from them.  A few too many in a row, which is a shame for this book b/c it was very good.  Especially b/c Stout introduces Wolfe's "Moriarty," a shadowy figure called Arnold Zeck.  I understand this is the first in the Zeck-Trilogy, so I might skip ahead and listen to the next two if available.  After a decent interval to enjoy a few different authors, that is.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Manticore, by Robertson Davies

  • Title:  The Manticore (Book 2 of The Deptford Trilogy)
  • Aurhor:  Robertson Davies
  • Borrowed from Coworker
  • Started:  7/18/2013
  • Finished: 7/21/2013
Book two of The Deptford Trilogy was interesting, but not nearly as good as The Fifth Business.  Not even close, and it wouldn't make for much of a stand-alone novel in my opinion.  But it did add depth to The Fifth Business, and I suspect will help flesh out the trilogy as a whole. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Fifth Business, by Robertson Davies

  • Title:  The Fifth Business (Book 1 of The Deptford Trilogy)
  • Author:  Robertson Davies
  • Borrowed from Coworker
  • Started: 7/11/2013
  • Finished: 7/17/2013
A coworker gave me this book a while back, but I had several books lined up so it took me a while to get started.  The volume I have is huge, because it contains all three books that make up The Deptford Trilogy, the book this post is about, The Fifth Business, is book one of that trilogy.
This was a very entertaining book, something of a coming of age story, mystery, and a generational drama.  It reminded me a little of a book I read a few years ago, Barney's Version, and not just b/c both are by Canadian authors.  Anyway, thoroughly enjoyable and I look forward to reading the next two books in the trilogy, especially b/c the murder mystery appears to have been solved at the end of the first book... will that prove to not be the case as I continue on?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Not Quite Dead Enough, by Rex Stout, also contains the story "Booby Trap

I had listened to this book before, years ago when I first discovered both these downloadable audio books from the library, as well as the Nero Wolfe series.  My  memory is terrible, so I didn't remember the mystery and knew it would be no trouble to listen to this one again.
I enjoyed both stories (both short).  I have read that many people dislike the first (Not Quite Dead Enough) and I can understand that, it is a little rough around the edges.  In particular the narrator, Archie Goodwin, usually so entertaining, is a bit too smug and mysoginistic.  But the mystery is one of the best, it has a great twist at the end which I recount here not to spoil the book for anyone (don't read further if you don't want it spoiled), but so I can remember it later:  the twist is that the initial reports of a murder were false, but the (would-be) murdered overheard that the murder had been committted, and how, and then rush to committ the murder in that fashion.  I'm butchering the twiste here so maybe it wouldn't spoit it for anyone anyhow, but it is enough to jog my memory.
The second story, Booby Trap, is much smoother although the mystery is somewhat ridiculous.  Still it it too has a very surprising ending, with Nero Wolfe allowing (commanding?) the murder to commit suicide by hand grenade (I'm not making that up). 

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Far Side of the World, by Patrick O'Brian

These Aubrey/Maturin books (aka Master & Commander) have hit a good stride now, I loved the last one (book 9, Treason's Harbour) which took place mostly on land; now comes The Far Side of the World which takes place mostly on water.  This was a fun, exciting book, and now that I've spend 10 novels with these characters I really feel like I know them.  I've said it before but the guy reading these books, Simon Vance, is amazing.  I really lose myself in these books, and can't believe I'm at the half-way point in the series now.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Dr. No, by Ian Fleming

  • Title:  Dr. No
  • Author:  Ian Fleming
  • Borrowed via Kindle Library
  • Started: 07/01/2013
  • Finished:  7/10/2013
Well so much for the "From Russia With Love" cliff-hanger.  The start of Dr. No sums up very quickly how Bond survived the poisening, pretty lamely I might add.  Still Dr. No was a fun read, much sillier perhaps than the earlier books.  This one reads more like a typical Bond movie (sexy, often nude, girl, evil genius who must explain his entire plan, overly elaborate method to kill Bond, hidden fortress, etc.) but we don't really spend much time with Dr. No, the titular character.

The book has a lot of short comings, but still fun as hell and easy to read.  And while the death of Dr. No is pretty anti-climactic (burried under tons of bird poop), it doesn't matter much b/c Dr. No really isn't an important part of the book.  His empire/fortress/gang is, but Dr. No himself could be removed from the book without much trouble.
One final note about the Kindle version -- this is the first time I have had an issue with formatting of a volume that is sold as a Kindle book.  There were several coding issues where you would see "–" (without quotes) instead of a dash ("-").  Or at least I assume it was supposed to be a dash.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Alienist, by Caleb Carr

  • Title:  The Alientist
  • Author:  Caleb Carr
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (ebook)
  • Started:  6/1/2013
  • FInished:  7/2/2013
I don't enjoy panning books, and when I first discovered this title I thought it sounded like a fun read.  But my hopes for a good book were quickly dashed, and I struggled to finish the novel (that's why it took me a month for what should have been a quick beach-style read). 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Over My Dead Body, by Rex Stout

  • Title:  Over My Dead Body
  • Author:  Rex Stout
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Audio Book)
  • Started:  6/24/2013
  • Finished:  7/1/2013
Quick update just to get this one on the blog, mostly forgettable Nero Wolfe mystery.

Friday, June 28, 2013

From Russia With Love, by Ian Fleming

  • Title:  From Russia With Love
  • Author:  Ian Fleming
  • Borrowed from via Kindle Owner's Library
  • Started: 6/20/2013
  • Finished:  6/27/2013
A cliffhanger!  The damn book ends with a cliffhanger.  Is Bond dead?  What kind of poison was in the sharp point hidden in the shoe?
As expected, From Russian With Love did not disappoint.  This was the first Bond book that truely felt like the movies.  There are gadgets (although most of them belong to the Russians), secret rooms and passageways, exotic locals, Bond bangs the beautiful spy, corny humor ("a king is always a king, but once a knight is enough"), and Bond's not as dark or tough as earlier novels.  He lets his guard down, a lot, and doesn't put queen & country before the girl.
This was a fun, exciting book.  I can't imagine reading this when it first came out and having to wait for the next book to see what happens.  Lucklily I only have to wait a few days for July 1st, when I can again borrow a book from the Kindle Owner's Library to pick up the next book, Dr. No.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Witches, by Roald Dahl

  • Title:  The Witches
  • Author:  Roald Dahl
  • Borrowed from Take-One/Leave-One Library found in Northside Park, Ocean City, MD
  • Started:  6/22/2013
  • Finished:  6/24/2013
Prepare to feel a little quesy.  My wife and I are in love.  We've been in love for a long time, we continue to be in love, and we tend to make people sick with our lovey-ness and displays of cuteness and affection.  We've been together for a little over 11 years, and this past weeked is the first time we've ever read a novel to each other out loud.  It was cute, wonderful, and if you are not my wife or I, probably a bit sickening.
I have never read a Dahl novel before.  I've wanted to read Charlie & the Chocolate Factory but never seem to come across it.  I had never heard of this book (The Witches), but my wife had read it as a kid and thought it might be fun.
We found the novel in a cute, take-one/leave-one library in Ocean City, MD's Northside Park.  In the park there is a memorial garden to a young boy (Sam) who drowned years back at the park.  This year someone added this book library to the front of the memorial garden (Sam's Place), it is the size of a really large bird feeder, on a post (like a mailbox).  Probably holds 20 normal sized books.
The Witches was in this box, so we took it this past Saturday and later that day while laying on the couch as the beach my wife (much to my surprise) started reading the book to me.  We took turns with the chapters and got about a quarter of the way through the short book.
On the long drive back to DC from Ocean City the next day, my wife continued where we had left off in the book and made it most of the way through the novel.  We finished up the last chapters Monday night. 
This was a funny, charming, somewhat dark in places book.  I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience associated with this book.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Diamonds are Forever, by Iam Fleming

The fourth of the Bond novels, this is one I had read before and liked, although less so this time.  Still a fun, easy read, but the novelty of it was somewhat lessened as I read them in order.  In the middle of From Russia with Love, which I've never read, and it so far is proving to be most-enjoyable.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Death of a Doxy, by Rex Stout

Another Nero Wolfe book, this one was published in the 60s I think.  The mystery is pretty weak, actually solved just over half way through the book.  But as usual, it's really not about the mystery but about Wolfe's sidekick Archie Goodwin, and his interaction with the various characters. 
I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again, these books are perfect for my morning routine.  A couple of hours of excercise and morning stretching, the company of characters whom I enjoy, but don't have to devote all of my attention towards. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Zone One, by Colson Whitehead

  • Title:  Zone One
  • Author:  Colson Whitehead
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Kindle Book)
  • Started: 5/28/2013
  • Finished:  6/10/2013
This book was advertised as a "literary" zombie book, I was looking for something to read on a trip.  Started out pretty strong, but I generally lost interest and had zoned out (no pun intended) by the time the book came to an end. 

Treason's Harbour, by Patrick O'Brian

Treason's Harbour may be my favorite so far of these Aubrey/Maturin (aka Master & Commander) books.  Although much of the action takes place on land, and I usually prefer when they're at sea, there was just something about this book that kept we wanting to listen (audio book, not print book) to it as much as possible.
Usually I only listen to books while I workout in the morning, giving me a total of about 1.5 hours when you include stretching.  But with Treason's Harbour, I would put the book on over dinner, while relaxing, etc.  This was a great book, and I'm really looking forward to the next one (far side of the world) b/c I've heard it is a fan favorite.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Murder by the Book, by Rex Stout

This is one of the Nero Wolfe books, I'm not sure I've ever actually read one of these but they sure are entertaining to listen to.  After my mishap with the last book I tried to listen to (see my entry on The Ionian Mission) I made sure I could finish this one before the time expired.  It was easier b/c the book was much shorter, something around 7 hours, so 3 weeks was plenty of time to complete it.
The mystery was good, although there is a bit of a let down at the end when you're about to find out how Wolfe got past the killers alibi, the police instpector suddenly jumps in to arrest the guy and shut him up.  THe book then ends with a guilty jury verdict, I guess Stout didn't have a good alibi breaker in mind and went for the old deus ex machina. 
Still, I listen to these books for the wit & entertainment of the narrator Archie Goodwin, and not for the brilliance of the mysteries.  This book didn't disappoint on what I enjoy this most.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Ionian Mission, by Patrick O'Brian

The Ionian Mission is Book 8 of the Aubrey/Maturin (Master & Commander) book series.  I've found I am able to enjoy these books much more by listening to them (they are expertly read by Simon Vance in the edition published by Blackstone Audio).  The problem I run into is that the audio books run long, this one was more than 11 hours, but the check-out time for audio books is just 21 days.  I know that sounds like plenty of time, but I don't have a drive/commute to the office, I live just a few blocks away.  So I listen to audio books while exercising, and only then when I do it indoors (3 days a week).  So I can get through 3 hours at the most each week, which means the borrowing period runs out before I finish.
This is the first time I can remember having to complete an audio book by reading the rest in print, but that's exactly what I did.  I made it about 2/3 of the way through the audio book when my checkout period ended.  I then borrowed the print edition and finished it that way.  I can tell you I didn't enjoy reading it nearly as much as I enjoyed listening to it.  The characters, voices, pronunciation, nuance... it's just much stronger for me on these Aubrey/Maturin books when read to me.  That sounds weak, but it is the truth. 
Some books I do not like to listen to but much prefer to read, hardboiled mysteries being one (everyone tries to immitate Humphrey Bogart).  But I think I may exclusively listen to these O'Brian novels from now on.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Dead Aim, by Joe Lansdale

  • Title:  Dead Aim
  • Author:  Joe R Lansdale
  • Purchased E-Book via
  • Started:  5/18/2013
  • Finished 5/20/2013
I've mentioned before how much I enjoy Lansdale's early (core) Hap & Leonard novels, just great buddy detective fiction.  The back & forth dialog, humor, wit, it's all very entertaining.  But as I've also mentioned over the last several novels (this one more of a novela) Lansdale has really gone on autopilot with these books.  Dead Aim is no exception.
I still read them and get some enjoyment out of them, they're comforting and reliable.  But if I had never read any Hap or Leonard novels, and happened upon this one first, I'd never read another.  Which is a shame, because those early novels were magic.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson

  • Title:  Kidnapped
  • Author:  Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Audio MP3 borrowed from DC Public Library
  • Started:  4/1/2013
  • Finished:  5/13/2013
I haven't listed to an audio book since the middle of last year, best as I can recall.  But my aging dog means we don't take long runs every morning any longer, instead my dog gets walks three days a week and then jogs two days.  So on the days where we just walk, I get up and exercise first.  Most days consist of 35 or so minutes on an elliptical, then some light weights. 
When I run outside, I don't like any music or distractions.  I live in a beautiful city with plenty of fun sights for my pup and I.  But when I'm on the elliptical (or treadmill), using the dip bar, or pressing dumpbells, I need a distraction and prefer to listen to books rather than music.
Kidnapped was the first book I listened to with this new routine.  I had wanted to continue with the Master & Commander series, but the next book I was to read/listen to there wasn't yet available (it is now, up next for audio).  Kidnapped was about 7 hours long, so it took a while to get through when you consider I only listened to 45-60 minutes of the book, three days a week.  But I finished it this morning and did enjoy it.  A good "boys adventure" that I thoroughly enjoyed.  And the Blackstone audio (publisher of many of the audio books I end up listening to) presentations are just so well done.  Really enjoy books this way, when I can't read them myself.

Moonraker, by Ian Fleming

This was the second time I had read Moonraker, but honestly I barely remembered the plot, which was fine by me, as I enjoyed it again just as much as the first time.  Up next is another I think I've already read, Diamonds are Forever.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Live and Let Die, by Ian Fleming

The most startling thing to me about Live and Let Die (2nd Bond book) was how closely the plot matched that of the movie version.  Startling, because the other bond books I had read years ago (The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, etc.) had no connection to their movie version whatsoever, titled excepted.
But Live and Let Die was a great book (and a great movie, I am one of those who actually enjoys the Roger Moore Bond), lots of covert action, charismatic bad guy, beautiful women, lots of booze, fast cars.
Fleming doesn't treat the US very well (NYC and St Pete, FL), he doesn't have much good to say about either spot.  But I can look past that, perhaps b/c the Bond is the books is such a colossally selfish jackass (seriously, the cartoon Archer just about nailed the full of himself Bond caricature) that his opinion isn't always the last word.
Don't let the above make you think I'm not totally enamored of Bond (or hell, Archer for that matter).  The fit super-spy, decked out in a perfectly cut suit, booze, women, fast cars, action.  It's an amazing world that's been created in these books (and movies, cartoons).  But I still understand that if somehow, Bond existed, I'd find him insufferable in person.
Up next is the 3rd Bond book Moonraker.  I've already read it, but as I mentioned in an earlier post I'm reading all the Bond books in order, even those that will be a re-read.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Quantum of Solace: The Complete James Bond Short Stories, by Ian Fleming

Well so much for reading the Bond stories in order, but in my defense it would be hard to say where each story belonged in the series.  So while I was waiting for the second Bond book to come available, I picked up this set of stories from the public library.  They were all good, quick reads.  Some were much more of a spy story than others, the least like a spy story was the titular Quantum of Solace, but it was all the more fun to read b/c of how surprising that story turned out.  A thoroughly enjoyable read, if extremely short.
The rest of the series (the novels) will be read in order.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Case of the Buried Clock, by Erle Stanley Gardner

My first Perry Mason book.  A coworker brought this in and suggested I might like it, she was right.  Not the best mystery or legal drama, but that doesn't matter.  Perry Mason, in this WW2 era thriller is great.  Easy to understand why these were adapted to TV and became such a hit.  I doubt if I'll seek these books out, but if I stumble upon some at used book stores I will definitely pick them up.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Casino Royale, by Ian Fleming

  • Title:  Casino Royale
  • Author:  Ian Fleming
  • Borrowed from (via Kindle Lending Library)
  • Started:  4/7/2013
  • Finished:  4/111/2013
Over the years I've read 3 or 4 of the Bond books, but they were just random finds at the library or a book store.  So when I noticed Amazon now has the Bond books available for free through their Kindle lending library (you are limited to just one book a month though) I figured I would read them all in order.
I knew, from the earlier Bond books, that this was not the Bond of the movies but rather a darker, more introspective Bond.  Well those earlier books were just that, and so was Casino Royale.  But the Bond in CR was also such a pompus jerk (maybe that's why I like him so much). 
Seriously, check out this passage of Bond ordering his signature drink (not the one you're expecting):
"A dry martini," [Bond] said. "One. In a deep champagne goblet."
"Oui, monsieur."
"Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?"
"Certainly, monsieur." The barman seemed pleased with the idea.
"Gosh, that's certainly a drink," said Leiter.
Bond laughed. "When I'," he explained, "I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink's my own invention. I'm going to patent it when I can think of a good name."
(from this Wikipedia entry)
Imagine going to a bar on the old Vegas strip today and trying that (in the book, the Casino Royale is a past-its-prime spot) and telling the bartender how to make a jumbo martini.  You'd be lucky not to get an extra 2 parts saliva in your drink.
CR was a fun book, a good intro to Bond and the combo of luck and skill he has as a spy.  I'm going to persevere and read them all, in order, with the aid of the local library so I'm not stuck reading just one book a month.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

One for the Money, by Janet Evanovich

  • Title:  One for the Money
  • Author:  Janet Evanovich
  • Borrowed from Office Take One Leave One Library
  • Started:  March 20, 2013
  • Finished:  March 30, 2013
A coworker is a big fan of this Plum series and brings in the books to our office take one leave one library.  I picked this one up on his recommendation, but wasn't a huge fan.  The book wasn't bad, but I just couldn't get into the characters and really kept reading just so I could see how much was changed from the recent movie based on this book.  I won't be bothering with the rest of the series.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Poirot Investigates, byt Agatha Christie

  • Title:  Poirot Investigates
  • Author:  Agatha Christie
  • Purchased from (Kindle edition)
  • Started:  Summer 2012
  • Finished:  March 10, 2013
My started/ended up there is a little embarrassing, but it is true I've been reading this off and on since last Summer.  This is a volume filled with Poirot short stories, so I would read one between other books, or at bedtime, etc.

But the bottom line is I haven't been reading much at all.  Well not novels, anyway.  Lots of newspapers and magazines, but very few books (none for months).  I've been in a funk lately, but hoping I'm getting past it now and can move on to more reading and less tv/movies/video games. 
This collection of stories was fantastic, I knew many of them by the TV show of Poirot (see "too much TV," above) and it was interesting to see how they differed.  A great set of stories, could certainly see myself reading more of the Poirot novels. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A High Wind in Jamaica, by Richard Hughes

Picked this one up after reading a quick interview with Herman Wouk (of Caine Mutiny fame) asking for his favorite sea-faring novels.  This book, A High Wind in Jamaica, was one of those books he listed.
I loved the Caine Mutiny, so that was recommendation enough for me.  AHWiJ was very enjoyable, the book has a very dream-like (or childlike?) quality.  Wouk compared it to Lord of the Flies, and I can see why, but I don't quite agree with that comparison.  None-the-less I'm glad for the recommendation and thoroughly enjoyed this novel, the last I read in 2012.