Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Horns, by Joe Hill

  • Title:  Horns
  • Author:  Joe Hill
  • Borrowed from DC Public (Kindle Edition)
  • Started: 12/14/2014
  • Finished:  12/26/2014
Liked, but didn't love, this one from Joe Hill.  The opening was fantastic, first third or so of the book was really enjoyable.  But it sort of fell apart for me in the second two thirds.  Still looking for a good, scary book, to satisfy my craving...

If Death Ever Slept, by Rex Stout

  • Title:  If Death Ever Slept
  • Author:  Rex Stout
  • Borrowed from DC Public (Audiobook)
  • Started:  12/18/2014
  • Finished:  12/28/2014 
After a few weeks or so without steady exercise due to a home purchase and move, I started back to it over my lunch hour and needed a reliable audiobook to keep me going on the treadmill.  So I picked up (roughly) where I left off in the Nero Wolfe series.  Another reliable, enjoyable, easy to listen to mystery read so expertly by Michael Prichard (who I just learned has also read the complete Travis McGee series... that might be my next book line-up).

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thirteen, by Richard K Morgan

  • Title:  Thirteen
  • Author: Richard K Morgan
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Audiobook)
  • Started:  11/10/2014
  • Finished:  12/17/2014 
This was a mammoth audiobook, something like 22 hours.  Took me a long time to get through, and now it feels like there were dozens of smaller novels in there.  I liked it, overall, something of a Blade Runner feel to it, coupled with Total Recall and a few other Sci-Fi movies for good measure. 

20th Century Ghosts, by Joe Hill

  • Title:  20th Century Ghosts
  • Author:  Joe Hill
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Kindle Edition)
  • Started: 12/1/2014
  • Finished:  12/12/2014
Was in the mood for some ghost stories and this one was available via my libraries overdrive system.  Not particularly scary, save the first story, but entertaining enough to keep me reading most nights.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Rendezvous with Rama, by Arthur C Clarke

  • Title:  Rendezvous with Rama
  • Author:  Arthur C Clarke
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Kindle Edition)
  • Started: 11/1/2014
  • Finished:  11/30/2014
Playing fast & loose with the dates, but it was somewhere in there.  Very enjoyable old scifi read.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ten Thousand Islands, by Randy Wayne White

  • Title: Ten Thousand Islands
  • Author:  Randy Wayne White
  • Borrowed from a friend
  • Started: ??.??.2014
  • Finished: 10/25/2014
Friend lent this one to me, the first of the Doc Ford novels.  I thought it was ok, but not great.  Updated Travis McGee, but I like the original McGee better...

The Plague Forge, by Jasom Hough

  • Title:  The Plague Forge
  • Author:  Jason Hough
  • Borrowed from DC Public (audiobook)
  • Started:  ??/??/2014
  • Finished:  10/29/2014
I've barely been reading but I'm still behind in these updates.  This was the final book of the Dire Earth Cycle.  First two were very enjoyable, but this third book was a let down.  I had a feeling when I barely had anything left in the book but the reasonf or the plague still had not been disclosed.  When it finally was explained, it was not satisfying.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Exodus Towers, by Jason Hough

  • Title:  The Exodus Towers
  • Author: Jason Hough
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Audiobook)
  • Started:  7/19/2014
  • Finished:  9/25/2014
Book two of the "Dire Earth" trilogy, these are very fun post-apacalyptic space novels.  Somewhat soap-opray, I don't care, they're entertaining and fun.  Took me a while to get through this one though, because I stopped listening (and reding) for a while when I went on vacation and then came back.  Had a month or two break in reading, back to it (slowly) now.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Open Season, by Archer Mayor

Title: Open Season
Author: Archer Mayor
Borrowed from Kindle Lending Library
Started: 7/6/2014
Finished: 7/18/2014

First book in the Joe Gunther mystery series. Not bad, some of it was very good. But it's not great or polished. Shows promise, might try the second book eventually.

The Tiger's Wife, by Téa Obreht

Title: The Tiger's Wife
Author: Téa Obreht
Borrowed from DC Public Library (audiobook)
Started: 7/3/2014
Finished: 7/18/2014

This was a recommendation from a coworker, and a good one at that. Very enjoyable book, ending was a bit abrupt, but that's a minor criticism for a book like this I really enjoyed.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Eternity Road, by Jack McDevitt

  • Title:  Eternity Road
  • Author:  Jack McDevitt
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Kindle Book)
  • Started:  6/20/2014
  • Finished:  7/5/2014
Another post-apocalyptic novel, ok but not great.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Darwin Elevator, by Jason Hough

  • Title:  The Darwin Elevator
  • Author:  Jason Hough
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Audiobook)
  • Started: 6/16/2014
  • Finished:  7/2/2014
I found this one, as I have found a few others, by checking what audiobooks my library offers that have been ready by Simon Vance (whom I've often praised here for his reading of the Aubrey/Maturin/Master & Commander series).  Anyway, I had seen Darwin Elevator on the library site for a long time, but avoided it because of the extremely cheesy book cover.
Well, you know the old saying.  While this isn't a masterpiece, it is a very fun space/sci fi/action story, the first of 3 (I believe) in a series.  The book was written well enough (and read great as always by Vance), to keep me interested in moving on to the next book in the series.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Before Midnight, by Rex Stout

  • Title:  Before Midnight
  • Author:  Rex Stout
  • Borrowed from DC Public (Audiobook)
  • Started:  6/10/2014
  • Finished:  6/15/2014
Forgot to post this one a couple of weeks ago, guessing on the dates I listened to the book.  Solid Nero Wolfe book, but nothing special.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Influx, by Daniel Suarez

  • Title:  Influx
  • Author:  Daniel Suarez
  • Borrowed from DC Public (Kindle Book)
  • Started:  5/2/2014
  • Finished:  6/15/2014
WSJ book review turned me onto this one, but I was pretty disappointed.  While the overall plot wasn't bad, and the opening chapter was pretty good, the book quickly took a wrong turn.  The dialog, in particular, was terrible.  I would have thought this a first time novel, but Amazon tells me otherwise.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein

  • Title:  The Moon is a Harsh Mistresss
  • Author:  Robert Heinlein
  • Borrowed from (I suspect) DC Public Library (Audiobook -- for certain)
  • Started:  2013?
  • Finished:  2013?
Was positive I had already read this one, but didn't see it on this site, so I borrowed the audiobook from the library this morning and started to play it when I immediately knew I had in fact already read/listened to it.  I could recall the entire plot, and the great enjoyment I had listening to this one.
I turned it off immedatiately (had another book downloaded already) and thought I better post this so I don't forget again.  Too bad too, this might have been enough to put me over 60 books for 2013, had I remembered to post it...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Black Mountain, by Rex Stount

  • Title:  The Black Mountain
  • Author:  Rex Stout
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Audiobook)
  • Started:  6/2/2014
  • Finished:  6/9/2014
Not a great Nero Wolfe book, one for fans of the detective only.  I'm a fan, but still struggled to get through this one.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Have Spacesuit - Will Travel, by Robert Heinlein

  • Title:  Have Spacesuit - Will Travel
  • Author:  Robert Heinlein
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (audiobook)
  • Started: 5/24/2014
  • Finished:  6/1/2014
I wouldn't say I'm totally out of my reading-rut, but I'm on the right track.  Reading printed words still isn't quite there for me, but I've been exercising regularly again which means listening to audiobooks on a regular basis as well.  Have Spacesuit - Will Travel was an overall enjoyable listen, but I wonder if I'd have made it through the book in printed form.  Really need to find a good book or series to hold my interest in print again.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Curtains for Three, by Rex Stout

  • Title:  Curtains for Three
  • Author:  Rex Stout
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (AudioBook)
  • Started: 05/19/2013
  • Finished:  5/23/2013
Another Nero Wolfe novel, this time made up of three short stories.  These were all pretty good, standard Wolfe novels.  The usual characters, but reasonably satisfying.  This volume did have hard chapter ends (abrupt), moreso than others that I've ready (dozens by now?), at least that I can remember.  But still an enjoyable way to pass the time.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Started Early, Took my Dog, by Kate Atkinson

  • Title:  Started Early, Took my Dog
  • Author:  Kate Atkinson
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (AudioBook)
  • Started:  April (??) 2014
  • Finished:  May 16, 2014
After a good start to the year reading and listening to books, I hit a slow patch for the last several months.  Just one book since March???
Anyway, the final book in the Jackson Brodie series (so far), enjoyed this one just like the last one.  Second in the series stands as the only disappointment.

Monday, March 31, 2014

When Will There Be Good News, by Kate Atkinson

My devouring of the Jackson Brodie series continues.  To racap, I loved the first (case histories), disliked the second, and now I've finished the third which is also very good.  Atkinson loves coincidences, so if those bother you in novels skip these books.  But the interweaving of story lines and characters is done very well, for an extremely satisfying read.
Having just said that, this book went just a bit too far in two specific instances.  I thought the very small sub-plot with Brodie being swindled of his money by his wife just too much beyond belief.  I also was bothered by the coincidence of having Brodie be the searches who found Joanna 30 or so years ago. 
Still, a very enjoyable read, and a good comeback from what I thought was a terrible second novel.

The Martian, by Andy Weir

  • Title:  The Martian
  • Author:  Andy Weir
  • Borrowed from DC Public (e-Book)
  • Started: 3/19/2014
  • Finished:  3/23/2014
I loved this book.  Getting that out of the way first so there is no confusion on where I stand.  This book was wonderful.  It doesn't sound like it would be (from the review that first turned me onto this book in the WSJ, Feb 2014, "there's a lot of fascinating arithmetic [in the book]"), math?  I have to do math while I read the book?
But no math is required, our hero does the math for us, and makes us (me, anyway) feel that I could have figured some of these problems out on my own as well (I couldn't).   As to our hero -- somehow you keep forgetting he's the best of the best to have been selected for such a mission in the first place, because he is so grounded, self-effacing, funny.
But really, how could anyone fail to love a book about surviving being stranged on Mars that includes the following line as an FU to NASA when they tell him to watch his language over email as it is all being disclosed to the public:
"Look a pair of boobs! (. Y .)"

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

MaddAddam, by Margaret Atwood

  • Title: MaddAddam
  • Author: Margaret Atwood
  • Borrowed from DC Public (AudioBook)
  • Started:  2/27/2014
  • Finished:  3/19/2014
Can't believe it has been almost 4 years since I read the first two books in this trilogy, I recall I liked the first but not the second, found the third to be pretty calm and enjoyable.  Atwood certainly knows how to write about the end of the world/dystopain future, though to be fair this one ends on a (potentially) hopeful note.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

One Good Turn, by Kate Atkinson

  • Title:  One Good Turn
  • Author:  Kate Atkinson
  • Borrowed from Worcester County Public Library (Kindle Book)
  • Started: 3/10/2014
  • Finished: 3/18/2014
This is the second of the "Jackson Brodie" books, I loved the first (Case Histories) but this one was pretty weak.  A page turner, but the mystery (mysteries) and overall feel were off for me this time.  I'll keep at the series though, the first book was too good, worth another read.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mercury Falls, by Robert Kroese

  • Title:  Mercury Falls
  • Author:  Robert Kroese
  • Borrowed via Amazon's Lending Library
  • Started: 2/27/2014
  • Finished: 3/9/2014
Scanning for something to read while waiting for a few holds at the library to come through, I opted for Mercury Falls by Kroese.  I didn't know anything about the book or author besides a brief blurb on my Kindle book search.
Overall I enjoyed the book, didn't love it and have no plans to continue the series, but that's not to say this isn't a nice enough read.  A bit too jokey for me, I see some compare Kroese's style to Douglas Adams, but I'd say it is closer to an even more light-hearted Gregory McDonald Fletch book. 
I always try to avoid reviews when I'm reading a book, then take them in when finished.  When I checked the Amazon reviews I see that the author got into a back & forth with a negative reviewer (never a good idea), but I can understand the tempation when  someone is knocking your hard work.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

That Uncertain Feeling, by Kingsley Amis

  • Title:  That Uncertain Feeling
  • Author:  Kingsley Amis
  • Purchased Used on Amazon.com
  • Started:  2/15/2014
  • Finished: 2/26/2014
Being a librarian in my professional life, at some point I must have decided to read books where the protagonist was a librarian. Years ago I heard abou the book I'm discussing in this post, and when I couldn't easily locate it, I lost interest.
Well a few months ago while flipping through the channels waiting for my wife to get ready before we headed out, an old Peter Sellers movie was starting.  That movie was called "Only Two Can Play" and while I only caught a few minutes, it opened with a great quote from Emerson ("It is not observed that Librarians are wiser men than others") and was very entertaining.  At least the 20 mins or so I watched.
When researching  the moving "only two can play" I discovered it was based on the book I'm discussing, "That Uncertain Feeling" so I decided to just buy the damn book and read it.
I liked liked some of it, and disliked other parts.  I found the first half of the book very enjoyable.  Funny, smart, entertaining.  It reminded me to the Updike Rabbit books.  But then it devolved, in my opinion, and was quickly wrapped up with a somewhat lame ending.
So much for librarian books, I suppose...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Case Histories, by Kate Atkinson

  • Title:  Case Histories
  • Author:  Kate Atkinson
  • Borrowed from DC Library (Audiobook)
  • Started: 2/18/2014
  • Finished:  2/26/2014
A recommendation by a coworker, I really, thoroughly, enjoyed this mystery.  The start of a series involving PI Jackson Brodie, the story & wrting in this one really grabbed me.  Will definitely pick up others in this series.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Inventor and the Tycoon: A Gilded Age Murder and the Birth of Moving Pictures, by Edward Ball

My wife and I had a five day weekend over this period due to our taking Friday off, Monday as President's day, and a favorably timed snow storm on Thursday that closed down our offices.  Favorably not just because it was 5 days off, but because we had a big-ish home improvement project that ended up taking almost every waking hour of that 5 day period.

To kill the time when we were not being too noisy and/or not listening to Pandora, we would put this book on for an hour or two at a time.  It was pretty enjoyable, and while it mostly focused on the photographer (murderer), the rain tycoon part was probably even more interesting to us.  All in all a great book for a long and sometimes tedious DIY project.

21: The Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey

I'm way somewhat behind in posting updates so I'm going to blow through a few quickly.  I won't dwell on the end of the Aubrey/Maturing (aka Master & Commander) series, I've done enough of that in the past.  But the little bit of unfinished manuscript that is the 21st book shows that I would have likely loved this one as much as the others, had O'Brian survived to finish it.  

Friday, January 31, 2014

Blue at the Mizzen, by Patrick O'Brian

  • Title:  Blue at the Mizzen
  • Author:  Patrick O'Brian
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Audiobook)
  • Started: 1/16/2014
  • Finished: 1/31/2014
Can it really be that there will be no more Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin to read?
I started reading/listening to this series with Master and Commander in about April of 2012.  I have just finished a few months of brutal chemo, was still out of work on disability, subject to all sorts of physical (and mental) issues.  As my strength slowly came back I was still too weak to go to work, but hated to spend all day in the house watching tv, sleeping, feeling sorry for myself.
So I decided I would start a big project that I could do in small pieces.  To go along with this project I decided that rather than listen to music I'd listen to books.  I went through several classics over the weeks that followed as I slowly worked and recouperated. 
Master & Commander was one of those books (as were the 2nd & 3rd books in the series, Post Captain and HMS Surprise).   I can't say it was my favorite book that I listened to (that might have been Watership Down), but it stuck with me, in particular the characters.
And so it has progressed for the last two years as I've read and listened to this series of books as I recovered from cancer treatment, returned to work, and had my life return to normal (or the new normal, as we cancer survivors like to say).
I can't pretend to have anything profound to say about the series, but it's had a ridiculoulsy big influence over my life for the last couple of years.  I'll read what is available on the unfinished work (final voyage), but I know that this really is the last book. 
I just can't get over that one guy (Patrick O'Brian) was able to create such a remarkable world of characters and situations, all so real I could believe I had been party to it.  What an incredible legacy to leave behind for others.

Fire in the Hole: Stories, by Elmore Leonard

  • Title:  Fire in the Hole:  Stories
  • Author:  Elmore Leonard
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Kindle)
  • Started: 1/22/2014
  • Finished: 1/30/2014
Collection of short stories, one of which is "Fire in the Hole" which is the story the pilot episode of Justified (Raylan Givens) is based on.  A decent collection of stories all around.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Riding the Rap, by Elmore Leonard

  • Title:  Riding the Rap
  • Author:  Elmore Leonard
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Kindle)
  • Started: 1/18/2014
  • Finished:  1/21/2014
Book two of the "Justified" Raylan Givens series.  Despite the numerous books he wrote, and his massive popularity, I'm not sure I've ever read anything by Leonard.  Not his westerns, not Get Shorty or the like.  I've always known I should read some of his stuff, but just never felt like it or got around to it. 

Pronto, by Elmore Leonard

  • Title:  Pronto
  • Author:  Elmore Leonard
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Kindle Book)
  • Started:  1/15/2014
  • Finished:  1/18/2014
I'm one of those people you hear about who doesn't have cable.  When my wife and I bought our first condo together in 2004, we called Comcast to install cable like I had done at every other place I had lived before.  Comcast, as usual, screwed up the dates/time for the install so many times that I finally decided "screw this" and we switched to rabbit ears.
Sort of.  It just so happens the building we bought in had a good master antenna on the roof that was wired to all of the units, so I was able to get great over the air reception in a big city (pre-HD conversion).  I also signed up for Netflix (pre-on demand, back when you got 3 DVDs at a time) and we adjusted to no more home design shows for my wife, no more cable sports for me.
I write that to note we still don't have cable (10 years!) and so I'm late to lots of popular TV shows.  They have to make it to Netflix or Amazon on demand services (for free) before I see them.  Thus I didn't know about the tv show Justified until about a year ago. 
I love it.  My wife loves it.  I feel like I could watch the episodes on a continuous loop.  I figured now was as good a time as any to read the books/stories by Elmore Leonard, see which I liked better.
It's unusual, but he TV show wins.  The books are good and entertaining, don't get me wrong, but the TV show surpasses the books. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Hundred Days, by Patrick O'Brian

  • Title:  The Hundred Days
  • Author:  Patrick O'Brian
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Audiobook)
  • Started: 1/4/2014
  • Finished:  1/15/2014
I have a colleague who has read this series a few times, but told me she always stops before the end of the series b/c she believe O'Brian loses his way, forgets his characters, has them act in a way which doesn't make sense based on the earlier stories, and starts killing them off.
I assume this book, The Hundred Days, must be one of her least favorites because you lose not only Diana, but perhaps more difficult to accept, Bondon. 
I don't agree with my colleague on that at all, I found The Hundred Days to be one of my favorites of the last few books, and that's saying something.  I just love this series and can't believe the next book is the last full novel by O'Brian involving these characters.  This has been one of the most enjoyable literary experiences of my life.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Spell for Chameleon, by Piers Anthony

I went to school at USF in Tampa, and the library there had a special collection of Piers Anthony materials (manuscripts, notes, and the like).  I always thought, with the connection to FLA and Tampa/USF, I really should read some of his works.  But Fantasy has never been a genre I've enjoyed much in literature (much as I do love sci-fi), I think it has to do with the covers of novels being filled with monsters, maidens, etc.

Anyway, as was noted in the press back when the shades of grey sex books were popular, e-readers make it so what you're reading in public is totally private.  So no more book-cover-shame about reading a fantasy novel, which means I've finally consumed a Piers Anthony novel, the first in his Xanth.

Overall, I enjoyed it.  I wasn't blown away by it, but it seems like a solid young-adult novels, coming of age, self discovery, and other similar themes.  I'll probably read a few more in the series, and then check out a few other book by Anthony not in this Xanth collection to see if I like them more or less.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Man with the Golden Gun, Ian Fleming

  • Title:  The Man with the Golden Gun
  • Author:  Ian Fleming
  • Borrowed from Amazon.com Kindle Library
  • Started:  12/30/2013
  • Finished:  1/5/2014
This one was pretty bad, maybe the worst of the Bond novels.  I know most people think The Spy Who Loved Me is the worst, but I'd say it's this one.  Fleming apparently died writing/drafting this one, so it might have ended up a great novel with a couple of rewrites and edits.
Anyway, this ends the Fleming Bond series, and might end my reading of the Bond novels in order.  Not sure if I'll continue with the other writers who pick up the series.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Yellow Admiral, by Patrick O'Brian

  • Title:  The Yellow Admiral
  • Author:  Patrick O'Brian
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Audiobook)
  • Started:  12/18/2013
  • Finished 1/3/2014
I'm blowing through the series now.  As I ran on a treadmill this morning I was about 20 minutes into my run when I finished this book, but I already had the next one lined up and started it immediately.
These books are just one big seriel adventure and I love them.  It is bittersweet to be so close to the end of the series.

The Commodore, by Patrick O'Brian

  • Title:  The Commodore
  • Author:  Patrick O'Brian
  • Borrowed from Worcester County Public Library (MD -- Ocean City), Audio Book
  • Started:  12/3/2013
  • Finished:  12/17/2013
Somehow I forgot to add this book to my list from 2013, despite enjoying it greatly.  One cold but not too cold day in December in Ocean City, MD, I had this book playing on my iPhone through headphones, and started a long, slow, 10 mile jog from almost the DE border to the inlet in Ocean City.  The first 10 mile run I had made in years.  While that may have nothing to do with the book, it did open up longer distance running to me again, even if slower than I used to run.  I never stopped running, but had dropped my distance significantly to just 2 or 3 miles  a day.  I've fired off 5, 7 and 10 mile jogs several times since that Ocean City run, while listening to this book.