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.