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 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.