Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Confession, by Charles Todd

Title: The Confession
Author: Charles Todd
Borrowed from DC public library (audiobook)
Started: 12/10/2015
Finished: 12/22/2015

A pretty good post-WWI British crime novel. I had the killer figured out way before the detective, but that's a small complaint. This one was very enjoyable.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Man from Skibbereen, by Louis L'Amour

Title:  The Man from Skibbereen
Author:  Louis L'Amour
Obtained from the small free library in Ocean City, MD, Northside Park
Started:  12/11/2015
Finished:  12/20/2015

Fun western, clear good/bad guys. Hero (likely) gets the girl. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Misterioso, by Arne Dahl

  • Title:  Misterioso
  • Author:  Arne Dahl
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (audiobook)
  • Started:  11/29/2015
  • Finished:  12/9/2015
This was probably a perfectly fine crime novel, but I think I have reached my limit on Scandinavian murder mysteries for a while.  Did not enjoy this one very much.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Last Flight of Poxl West, by Daniel Torday

Title: The Last Flight of Poxl West
Author: Daniel Torday
Borrowed from DC public library (audiobook)
Started: 11/19/2015
Finished: 11/28/2015

This was a fun book, would definitely recommend.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Angels, by Denis Johnson

  • Title:  Angels
  • Author:  Denis Johnson
  • Purchased from Amazon (print)
  • Started:  11/9/2015
  • Finished:  11/22/2015

Another Denis Johnson novel, his first I believe.  While not quite as polished as the other works of his I've read, I still very much enjoyed it.  I had to force myself to slow down, reading it too quickly and not savoring his writing.  In fact about 20 pages in I re-started the book realizing I just wasn't reading this thoroughly enough.

I thought the book lost its way a bit about 3/4s through, but picked back up again when Houston was on death row.  If I had known about Johnson's work when I was in college I think I would have been obsessed (I'm close enough now as it is), the way I was with Henry Miller.  It is fun to find an author whose work you love, that is for sure.

This was my choice for the book club I joined recently, curious to see if anyone else enjoyed it.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Bat, by Jo Nesbo

  • Title:  The Bat
  • Author:  Jo Nesbo
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (AudioBook)
  • Started:  11/16/2015
  • Finished:  11/19/2015
This one started off strong, but fell apart about a third of the way through (bar fight) and was never the same for me.  Found myself barely paying attention near the end.  

Monday, November 16, 2015

The City & The City, by China Mieville

  • Title:  The City & The City
  • Author:  China Mieville
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Audiobook)
  • Started:  11/9/2015
  • Finished:  11/14/2015\
Embarrassed to say I let my biases get the better of me and assumed the author was female based on the first name China.  Have to try to limit my assumptions in the future.  Anyway, this was my first book by Mieville and I like it quite a lot.  I knew nothing about his writing going in and had to Google this book when I first started because I was so confused.  I didn't read much, no spoilers, just enough to get a basic understanding of the city/city structure.  Armed with that knowledge, I had no trouble accepting this strange premise at face value and enjoyed the book immensely.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Death of Caesar, by Barry Strauss

Title: The Death of Caesar
Author: Barry Strauss
Borrowed from DC Public Library (ebook)
Started: 10/15/2015
Finished: 11/8/2015

Enjoyed this history of the assassins of Caesar, which provided a different timeline of events than I knew about. A wonderful retelling of an amazing story, highly recommended.

Shogun, by James Clavell

Title: Shogun
Author: James Clavell
Borrowed from DC Public (audiobook)
Started: 10/9/2015
Finished: 11/8/2015

This was a big book. 60 or so hours, right at a month to consume. So a daily average of almost two hours of listening. Well worth it.

Really enjoyed this story, part historical fiction, of 17th century Japan.

Going to go with something a little less epic for the next read...

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Bridge of San Luis Rey, by Thornton Wilder

  • Title:  The Bridge of San Luis Rey
  • Author:  Thornton Wilder
  • Borrowed from DC Public (AudioBook)
  • Started: 10/5/2015
  • Finished: 10/8/2015
My first Thorton Wilder book, I believe.  I loved this work, hard for me to believe I had not read it or even heard of it before.  How many of these gems are out there just waiting for me to discover them?  This is what makes books and reading so wonderful.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel

Title: Fun Home
Author: Alison Bechdel
Purchased from Amazon (Kindle edition)
Started: 10/5/2015
Finished: 10/5/2015

Second book for the book club, a graphic-autobiographical novel. Short but entertaining. Not going to say more since I'll be discussing the book with a group soon.

The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey

Title: The Daughter of Time
Author: Josephine Tey
Borrowed from DC Public Library (audiobook)
Started: 9/28/2015
Finished: 10/3/2015

I don't remember where I got this recommendation but I'm glad I did. I loved this book. A historical mystery, of sorts, a policeman in the hospital needs something to occupy his mind and happens onto Richard III and the two boys he is supposed to have murdered. With the help of a research assistant they go on to prove that Richard was innocent, and then discover that other have already done this as well. My description isn't doing the story justice. What a fun book.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ghost, by Alan Lightman

  • Title:  Ghost
  • Author:  Alan Lightman
  • Borrowed from DC Public (Audiobook)
  • Started: 9/18/2015
  • Finished:  9/27/2015
I almost gave up on this one as soon as I started it.  The book just didn't grab me, nor did the narrator reading the audiobook.  But then the protagonist mentions that he was reading a novel by Japanese author about an out of work man who keeps getting harassing, sexual explicit phone calls from strange women.  I assume he meant the book I read earlier this year (and loved), The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.  I figured anyone who liked that book enough to mention it in theirs deserved a shot, so I finished it.

Didn't love it, but the story at times was interesting enough.  Not a good sign but I have to say I'm glad it is over.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Cat Among the Pigeons, by Agatha Christie

  • Title:  Cat Among the Pigeons
  • Author:  Agatha Christie
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Kindle Edition)
  • Started: 9/11/2015
  • Finished: 9/18/2015
Not my favorite of the Poirot mysteries, but still an entertaining enough read.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Louis L'Amour Collection, by Louis L'Amour

  • Title:  Louis L'Amour Collection
  • Author:  Louis L'Amour
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (AudioBook)
  • Started: 9/15/2015
  • Finished: 9/17/2015
I wasn't sure if I should include this one, but decided it fit well enough to be considered a book.  This audio production on Amazon is listed as being unabridged, but I'm pretty sure that isn't the case and that these stories are edited and re-written to work better in this superb audio production.  I hope I'm mistaken and that these are word-for-word reproductions of the original stories.

The stories included are as follow:
  • Riding for the Brand
  • The Black Rock Coffin Makers
  • Dutchman's Flat
  • The Nester and the Piute
  • Mistakes can Kill You
  • Trail to Pie Town
  • Big Medicine
All stories are narrated by Willie Nelson, who does a reasonable job.  His voice is distinctive enough to sound good with a western, even if his timing and tone are often off.  The real standout in this collection is "Riding for the Brand" which features an all start cast from the Highwaymen including Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson (and Nelson as the main narrator).  That story was by far the best, such an entertaining hour of storytelling.

Definitely going to pick up some more of these kinds of Westerns, very entertaining with the phrases like "cleared leather" popping up all the time.  I was lost in another world for my 30 minute walks to and from the office and I had this playing through my headphones.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Appointment with Death, by Agatha Christie

  • Title:  Appointment with Death
  • Author:  Agatha Christie
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (AudioBook)
  • Started: 9/14/2015
  • Finished: 9/15/2015
I liked this Hercule Poirot book, but not as much as some in the past.  It was a pretty short novel, set in the near east which is always a great location for Poirot book.  And I'll say this for it, I was positive I knew the outcome and Christie got the better of me.  I was totally fooled, but once Poirot explained the mystery I could see that all the clues were there.  I just was unable to correctly connect them.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Bird Box, by Josh Malerman

  • Title:  Bird Box
  • Author:  Josh Malerman
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (AudioBook)
  • Started:  9/10/2015
  • Finished: 9/14/2015
I tried to like this one, and sometimes I did enjoy it.  But ultimate I was never totally immersed in this dystopian world, never really cared much for the people in it.  Perhaps this is most telling -- I didn't even flinch when the dog died.

With that said, there were some well written scenes, some interesting ideas.  It wasn't painful to read, just not very satisfying.  Particularly the way (I felt) the rules for the unseen beasts kept changing.  Animals are also affected!  Except when they're not!  

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah

  • Title:  The Nightingale
  • Author:  Kristin Hannah
  • Purchased from (Kindle Edition)
  • Started: 9/1/2015
  • Finished: 9/10/2015
So I joined a book club.  Probably more accurate to say I harassed my neighbor enough to get invited into his club.  This was the book chosen for what will be my first meeting at the end of the month.

Since it is my first book for the club, I desperately wanted to give it a good review.  The book was entertaining enough, story was compelling, easy to read.  But overall I can't say I liked it.  There was something off about this book.

Something like 12,000 people on Amazon think I'm wrong, giving it 4 & 5 star reviews.  The writing was just so melodramatic, and I never once felt like any of these characters were real, or even remotely cared about what happened to them.

I'll see how the others felt at the book club, but expect to start seeing more books like this (that is, books I would not have normally chosen to read) as the book club continues.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Chill, by Ross MacDonald

  • Title:  The Chill
  • Author:  Ross MacDonald
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (AudioBook)
  • Started: 9/3/2015
  • Finished: 9/8/2015
This must be MacDonald's masterpiece, at least as far as the Lew Archer series goes.  Much as I love the Archer series, I'm surprised I've never tried to read them all in order.  I've read many of them, and the Drowning Pool was always my favorite -- until this one.  The Chill has it all, and right up to the end I was thinking "now Archer's not saying what I think he's saying, is he?"  He was.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Below, by Ryan Lockwood

Title: Below
Author: Ryan Lockwood
Borrowed from DC Public
Started: 8/27/2015
Finished: 8/30/2015

Still on the epic road trip, picked up my wife in Jackson Hole, WY and didn't listen to books for about a week as we chatted and sang to outlaw country radio on our drives north and east.

Once we entered canada and online radio options dried up, we put on this book which I thought would be a popcorn-type fun beach read. I think that's what the author was going for but didn't quite achieve. Book was pretty amateurish, read like a first novel. I wish this guy well, but would not recommend this one to anyone.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Black Money, by Ross MacDonald

Title: Black Money
Author: Ross MacDonald
Borrowed from DC Public Library (audiobook)
Started: 8/19/2015
Finished: 8/19/2015

Day two of my marathon drive, this time from Omaha to Jackson hole, Wy. Less than 48 hours from DC to Jackson -- I don't recommend it.

This Lew Archer book helped to kill the time as my dog and I high tailed it across the country. Really enjoyed this book, as I have many Lew Archer books in the past.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Black-Eyed Blonde, by Benjamin Black

Title: The Black-Eyed Blonde
Author: Benjamin Black
Started: 8/18/2025
Finished: 8/19/2015

Made a marathon drive from DC to Omaha and needed audiobooks to help keep me awake. This was one of them and I loved it. Another recommendation from old WSJ best of the year book lists. A great Marlow from a non-Chandler author.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler

  • Title:  The Big Sleep
  • Author:  Raymond Chandler
  • Borrowed from DC Public (AudioBook)
  • Started: 8/16/2015
  • Finished: 8/17/2015
This was at least the third time I'd read this one, and I'm really not sure why.  I like it, but it is ins't my favorite.  Still I do like this book and there is something about the twist ending that always gets me, when the little sister tries to empty her revolver into Marlowe not knowing he has replaced her bullets with blanks.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Jesus' Son, by Denis Johnson

Title: Jesus' Son
Author: Denis Johnson
Borrowed from DC Public (audiobook)
Started: 8/14/2015
Finish: 8/15/2015

My Denis Johnson love, adoration, and infatuation continues with his collection of related stories, Jesus' Son. I have to quickly say a word about the reader -- Will Patton -- who has been the reader for all of these Johnson books I've consume. Patton just has a gift for this, and his reading really compliments Johnson's wonderful works.

Another outstanding book by Johnson.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James

  • Title:  The Turn of the Screw
  • Author:  Henry James
  • Borrowed from DC Public (AudioBook)
  • Started: 8/11/2015
  • Finished: 8/14/2015
I have of course read this book before, either High School or Jr. High.  I recall enjoying it immensely, but also remembered it as a straight-up ghost story.  I must either have a terrible memory, or have had terrible teachers in my public school education.

This reading, where I am in my 40s, opens up an entirely different view.  Maybe several different views.  I find as I read ghost stories where there is the possibility of no supernatural happenings, that that ends up being the interpretation I'm drawn to (think "The Exorcist," and the recent book I read "The Voices").  And so it is with The Turn of the Screw.

In this reading I was struck immediately by the sensation that the Governess was off, and that her visions and forebodings were all in her head.  And the extreme sexual undertones to the book (to my modern ears, anyway)  puts me squarely in the "no ghosts" camp.

Loved this book.  Has me thinking about re-reading "The Haunting of Hill House," one of my all time favorites.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Thief, by Fuminori Nakamura

  • Title:  The Thief
  • Author:  Fuminori Nakamura
  • Borrowed from DC Public (AudioBook)
  • Started: 8/9/2015
  • Finished:  8/11/2015
A few weeks back I was scouring the past several years of best books of the years (best of 2010, best of 2011, etc.) trying to get some ideas for books I might enjoy.  The Thief was one of those books.

WSJ did not let down, I really enjoyed this book.  And the "did he live/did he die" ending, far from being frustrating, left me happy that I could enjoy the possibility of a reformed life with the young boy he had grown fond of.

A very enjoyable, very short, read.

The Savage Detectives, by Roberto Bolano

  • Title:  The Savage Detectives
  • Author:  Roberto Bolano
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Kindle Book)
  • Started:  Circa May 2015
  • Finished:  Circa August 2015
I'm going to start with the good -- what an amazing title for a book, right?  Ok, I'm joking.  I did not hate this book, and I can see my college self LOVING this book.  I might have been quoting from this one instead of Tropic of Cancer...

But now that it is almost 20 years since college, this kind of book just doesn't grab me the way it used to.  I would pick up the book and read it for a while, then grow bored and not pick it up again for a couple of weeks.  

Maybe I need to join a book club where discussions over a  book like this might make it more interesting.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, by Philip K Dick

I haven't read too much of Dick.  Definitely read "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" and liked it, and maybe a couple of others.  This book ("Flow My Tears...") was not a book I enjoyed very much.  I suffered through it.  Seemed like a potentially interesting short story, but it was a slog to get through this as a novel-length work.  Way too dated.

Fiskadoro, by Denis Johnson

  • Title:  Fiskadoro
  • Author:  Denis Johnson
  • Purchased (used) on
  • Started: 8/1/2015
  • Finished: 8/8/2015

Another Denis Johnson book, the author whose work I only recently discovered and subsequently devoured.  This one sounded like it would be my favorite (post-apocalyptic, takes place in the Florida Keys) but I had a tough time getting through it.  I still enjoyed it more than many other books I've read recently, just not as much as the other Johnson books.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee

  • Title:  Go Set a Watchman
  • Author:  Harper Lee
  • Borrowed from DC Public (AudioBook)
  • Started: 7/26/2015
  • Finished:  7/31/2015

I read To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time just a month ago, and liked it a lot.  But having just recently read it I haven't had my entire life to idolize Atticus.  So this new book, while not great, didn't somehow ruin Atticus for me.  I think a lot of people who have idolized Atticus over the years were probably reading more into the book TKAM than was actually there.  

Either way, GSAW isn't a very good book.  It isn't bad, but it is desperately in need of a good editor.  Harper Lee obviously had one, and the book that came out of the edits & rewrite was TKAM.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I, Claudius, by Robert Graves

  • Title:  I, Claudius
  • Author:  Robert Graves
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (AudioBook)
  • Started: 7/21/2015
  • Finished: 7/25/2015

I had hit a bit of a dry spell with books lately.  I enjoyed one of the recent books (The Voices, by FR Tallis) but otherwise haven't been enjoying much of what I've read since early June.

That all ended, triumphantly, with I, Claudius.  I have avoided this book since my youth.  Always seeing it in book stores when I perused fiction and literature, always listed on top 100 books ever written.  I thought it looked dense and sounded boring, the cover was always just a bust of Claudius and made it look impenetrable.

Well, I'm an idiot.  One of the best books I've ever read, struggled not to put it all away in one sitting.  Could not get enough of of this one, hated that it ended. 

Wonder what other books I've let go for decades out of sheer ignorance?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

All You Zombies, Five Classic Stories, by Robert Heinlein

Pretty good collection of Heinlein stories, a couple were great and the other three were at least decent.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Voices, by FR Tallis

  • Title:  The Voices
  • Author:  FR Tallis
  • Borrowed From DC Public Library (AudioBook)
  • Started:  7/15/2015
  • Finished:  7/18/2015
When I first start this book I thought I wouldn't like it.  The set up seemed too much like other works (Burnt Offerings to name one).  But I found myself unable to stop listening and by the end I have to admit, I really liked it.

What I didn't love, was the myriad of questions left hanging at the end.  It isn't that I needed the whole book wrapped up nicely.  True haunting or not, there were just too many unresolved plot lines and/or red herrings.  In particular, the story of the friend Simon Ogilvy.  I find the lack of answers or resolution to Simon's story to be the most difficult to ignore.  The reader is led to believe his double-life is that he is a closet homosexual, but since that is not ever truly resolved there are other (possibly more far-fetched) more sinister interpretations.

Maybe I wouldn't feel so unresolved on this one if I had read it with a book club or something like that and could discuss it.  But as it, there are not many reviews or others commenting on this in any detail, and those that have done so mostly express these same frustrations.  Overall very happy I read this one.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wastelands 2 - More Stories of the Apocalypse, by John Joseph Adams

I wanted to like this one more than I did.  I had to go back and read my post on the original Wastelands  anthology and it turns out I felt the same way about that one as well.
Some of the stories were good, some were terrible.  Most were only ok.  None were amazing.  Maybe The Postman, but I'd already read the full novel. 
Also, I shouldn't use this as a complaint about the content of the anthology but here goes -- the audiobook was terrible.  The readers were just not very good, and in some cases took away from the stories.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Hickory Dickory Dock, by Agatha Christie

Title: Hickory Dickory Dock
Author:  Agatha Christie
Borrowed from "little library" in Northside Park, in Ocean City, MD
Started: 7/11/2015
Finished: 7/11/2015

Woke up early at the beach this morning and took the dog for a walk around Northside park in ocean city, md. Stopped to check out the free books at the little library box ( and found a Poirot book. Started reading it about 7 am and finished it in the early afternoon.  A very relaxing day...

Monday, June 29, 2015

The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft, by HP Lovecraft & Leslie S. Klinger

  • Title: The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft
  • Author:  H.P. Lovecraft
  • Editor/Annotator:  Leslie S. Klinger
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library
  • Started: 5/12/2015
  • Finished: 6/28/2015
A rare swing & a miss by Klinger, in my opinion.  If you read through this blog you'll see nothing but praise for Klinger's other new annotated volumes on Holmes and Dracula, but this Lovecraft edition pales in comparison.
I'll start with a remark that might help explain my lack of enthusiasm -- I don't really like Lovecraft.  I don't find his stories fun, scary, interesting.  I've always struggled to read them and to maintain interest when doing so.
Having said that, I have always loved annotations, and in previous works Klinger's annotations were wonderful and really added to the stories.  Unfortunately it appears that Klinger isn't much of a fan of Lovecraft either, if his annotations are any indication.  These were dry, few and far between, and really did not add anything to the works.
I decided not to make separate entries for each story, but I'm going to list out those included so I have a note of them when running searches against this blog.  The stories included follow:
  • Dagon
  • The Statement of Randolph Carter
  • Beyond the Wall of Sleep
  • Nyarlathotep
  • The Picture in the House
  • Herbert West: Reanimator
  • The Nameless City
  • The Hound
  • The Festival
  • The Unnamable
  • The Call of Cthulhu
  • The Silver Key
  • The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
  • The Colour Out of Space
  • The Dunwich Horror
  • The Whisperer in Darkness
  • At the Mountains of Madness
  • The Shadow over Innsmouth
  • The Dreams in the Witch House
  • The Thing on the Doorstep
  • The Shadow Out of Time
  • The Haunter of the Dark

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie

  • Title:  And Then There Were None
  • Author:  Agatha Christie
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Audiobook)
  • Started: 6/20/2015
  • Finished: 6/23/2015
I had never read this book before, only seen the old movie from the 40's and then various other versions in pop culture.  So the ending was a surprise, in that I wasn't positive of the murder or motives, even if I knew the killer was one of the earlier victims.
Extremely enjoyable book.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Tree of Smoke, by Denis Johnson

  • Title:  Tree of Smoke
  • Author:  Denis Johnson
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library
  • Started: 6/2/2015
  • Finished: 6/19/2015
Continuing with my literary man-crush on Denis Johnson, I listened to his huge novel, Tree of Smoke over the last three weeks.  Like each of the past novels by Johnson, I loved it.  But unlike those other novels, this one has more mixed reviews.  Those reviews, including a particularly harsh one from The Atlantic, haven't swayed my opinion of this work.  I found it funny, moving, and an amazing read.  

I'm going to do my best to take break from Johnson while I still have a few of his works left unread, so I can enjoy them over a longer period of time.

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Laughing Monsters, by Denis Johnson

  • Title:  The Laughing Monsters
  • Author:  Denis Johnson
  • Borrowed from DC Public (AudioBook)
  • Started:  5/27/2015
  • Finished: 6/1/2015
Much like the infatuation the narrator of this story, Nair, feels for Michael Adriko, my man-crush on Denis Johnson continues unabated.  Much like Nobody Move, and (for me) before that Train Dreams, I could start this one as soon as it was finished. 
It is hard for me to describe what I like (love?) about Johnson's writing.  There is a feeling I get when reading his work... I don't know, but I damn  sure do enjoy it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Family Affair, by Rex Stout

  • Title:  A Family Affair
  • Author: Rex Stout
  • Borrowed from DC Public (AudioBook)
  • Started: 5/21/2015
  • Finished:  5/27/2015 
The final Nero Wolfe book (at least the final one by Stout), not the best but not the worst either.  Comfortable to the very end.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

  • Title:  To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Author:  Harper Lee
  • Borrowed from DC Public (Audiobook)
  • Started:  5/12/2015
  • Finished: 5/20/2015 
My great hidden shame has finally been exercised.  The college literature major, from the south, who had never read Lee's classic is gone forever.  Despite knowing the characters names, and catching pieces of the famous film here and there, I had never read the book or seen the movie from start to finish.
With the recent news of the (unauthorized?) prequel that has been released, I thought I should finally get my act together and read what many consider to be one of the greatest books ever written.
Hard to argue with those who believe so.  I wish I had read it as a high school student, seems like it could have led to good classroom discussions.  None the less I was often mesmerized, finished the book this morning on a hour long run in DC, and found myself choking up several times.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami

Title:  The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Author:  Haruki Murakami
Borrowed from DC Public Library (AudioBook)
Started: 4/21/2015
Finished: 5/11/2015
It took me three full weeks to get through this one, which is something like 23 or 24 hours long.  I had no idea it was such a huge book, and such a long read, but I didn't mind -- I loved it. 
I'm not sure what was going on, really, or more to the point I'm not sure what the ultimate message was supposed to be.  But this was just such an enjoyable experience, and was expertly read by Rupert Degas.  I would never have been able to have read the character of May Kasahara in my head, the way Degas reads her, and the novel would have been much less enjoyable without his inflections.  I think I looked forward to May's interactions with the main character Toru more than any other part of the book (outside of the WW2 stories, maybe).
Anyway, an excellent long read, that I finished just a few hours shy of the mandatory return date by my public library.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Arms of Nemesis, by Steven Saylor

  • Title:  Arms of Nemesis
  • Author: Steven Saylor
  • Borrowed from DC Public (Kindle Book)
  • Started: 4/20/2015
  • Finished: 5/7/2015 
Despite not liking the first Roma Sub Roma book all that much, I read the second (published order second) because I couldn't find anything else to start.  Liked this one even less, I think I'm finished with this series.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Woman with a Birthmark, by Hakan Nesser

  • Title:  Woman with a Birthmark
  • Author:  Hakan Nesser
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (AudioBook)
  • Started: 4/16/2015
  • Finished: 4/21/2015 
Another Inspector Van Veeteren mystery, notable for the total lack of police influence in the case.  Characters were enjoyable as ever.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Roman Blood, by Steven Saylor

  • Title:  Roman Blood
  • Author:  Steven Saylor
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Kindle Edition)
  • Started: 3/27/2015
  • Finished:  4/19/2015 
I wanted to like this one more than I did, particularly the ending that felt forced.  Still, it was fun to have another take on Cicero and Tiro, will probably give the second book in the series a chance at a later date.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

March Violets, by Philip Kerr

  • Title:  March Violets
  • Author:  Philip Kerr
  • Borrowed from DC Public (Audiobook)
  • Started: 4/8/2015
  • Finished:  4/15/2015 
Wanted to like this one more than I did.  There was one really unnecessarily detailed sex scene (same complaints two books in a row, maybe I am a prude), and the book was wrapped up much too quickly with a coincidence that was too ridiculous to overlook.
Having said that the atmosphere of the book and the protagonist were both good -- probably good enough to eventually read the rest of the series, but not anytime soon.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Kindness Goes Unpunished, by Craig Johnson

  • Title:  Kindness Goes Unpunished
  • Author:  Craig Johnson
  • Borrowed from Worcester County, MD Public Library (AudioBook)
  • Started: 3/31/2015
  • Finished: 4/7/2015 
I was going right along with this third book in the Longmire series, enjoying it a fair amount despite the ridiculous plot, and then the out of nowhere sex scene.  I'm no prude, I don't mind sex in books at all, but it was so out of place and unnecessary  that it ruined the book for me.  Seems like I'm not the only reviewer (from my web searches) to feel this way. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Nobody Move, by Denis Johnson

  • Title:  Nobody Move
  • Author:  Denis Johnson
  • Borrowed from DC Library (Audiobook)
  • Started: 3/26/2015
  • Finished:  3/30/2015 
Denis Johnson has quickly become my favorite author that I had never heard of.  A couple of books back I read his "Train Dreams" and loved it.  This time around it was the noir-ish Nobody Move and I almost read it again as soon as I finished, I enjoyed this book so much.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Spartacus War, by Barry Strauss

Title: The Spartacus War
Author: Barry Strauss
Borrowed from DC Public Library
Started: 3/31/2015
Finished: 3/26/2015

The final book on Spartacus for me, I think. This was a very good description of the possible/hypothetical rise and fall of Spartacus based on ancient texts. I've seen the authors name around quite a bit and was curious to see how I like his writing. My favorite is still the Howard Fast novel, but these are two very different books and not competing against each other. Both were great reads.

On a side note: this is the first book I've read in a long time that was in print and not an ebook on the kindle or an audiobook. Last one was sometime in 2014 I guess. That is hard to believe.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Savage Season, by Joe Lansdale

  • Title:  Savage Season
  • Author:  Joe Lansdale
  • Borrowed from DC Public (audiobook)
  • Started: 3/23/2015
  • Finished:  3/25/2015 
The old saying "you can't go home again" might apply here.  I've read all of the Hap & Leonard books and really enjoyed them, so I thought I'd listen to the audiobook version of the first in the series, Savage Season.  Probably a mistake.  I could barely stand the book this time.  Still some good humor, but I found most of this book really off-putting this time around.  Oh well.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Salvation of a Saint, by Keigo Higashino

Title: Salvation of a Saint
Author: Keigo Higashino
Borrowed from dc public library (audiobook)
Started: 3/16/2015
Finished: 3/22/2015

Another book in the detective Galileo series by my new favorite Japanese crime writer. I liked this one, but not as much as the previous book in this series that was amazing (devotion of suspect x).

Friday, March 20, 2015

Conspirata, by Robert Harris

Title: Conspirata
Author: Robert Harris
Borrowed from DC public (kindle book)
Started: 3/10/2015
Finished: 3/20/2015

Roman Empire-fest continues for me with the second of the Robert Harris trilogy on Cicero. I liked this one quite a bit, even though it took me a while to get through. Looking forward to finishing this series, but taking a short break with yet another book about Spartacus up next.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Death Without Company, by Craig Johnson

Title: Death Without Company
Author: Craig Johnson
Borrowed from Worcester County (MD) public library (audiobook)
Started: 3/11/2015
Finished: 3/15/2015

The second Longmire book. Not nearly as good as the first, but still an enjoyable read. Will take a break from the series for a few books before continuing.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Train Dreams, by Denis Johnson

  • Title:  Train Dreams
  • Author:  Denis Johnson
  • Borrowed from Worcester County (MD) Public Library (Audiobook)
  • Started: 3/9/2015
  • Finished:  3/10/2015
This was a short work, a novella, and took just a couple of hours to read/listen to.  I have to admit I had not heard of Johnson, and it was by title alone that I decided to borrow this one.  Well I'm glad I did, what a wonderful story, powerful, and very different from the usual (crap?) I read.  A short work that will stay with me for quite some time, I'm certain.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Spartacus, by Howard Fast

  • Title:  Spartacus
  • Author:  Howard Fast
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Kindle Edition)
  • Started: 3/3/2015
  • Finished:  3/9/2015
My Roman historical fiction fetish continues with Spartacus, by Howard Fast.  As I mentioned in my last post I've had a really good run of books so far in 2015, and Spartacus continues that trend.  I can't get over what a great book this was, despite barely telling the story of Spartacus, his rise, an the battles fought.  The book bounced around between voices, stories, time, and it was just so good.  It is no wonder it was made into a movie not long after it came out, and I like the movie.  But the movie is nothing compared to this extremely readable, enjoyable book.

The Cold Dish, by Craig Johnson

  • Title:  The Cold Dish
  • Author:  Craig Johnson
  • Borrowed from MD Worcester Public Library (AudioBook)
  • Started: 3/2/2015
  • Finished: 3/8/2015 
A quick preface:  Until this entry, all of the audiobooks I've listened to that have been noted on this blog were downloaded through "Overdrive."  This book marks the first "OneClickdigitial" book I've listened to, which is offered by Worcester County public library (they also offer Overdrive).  I had just about given up on finding anything of interest on OneClickdigital, until I noticed they had the Longmire series.
I'm a late-comer to the Longmire books, having only discovered the Wyoming sheriff after watching the A&E tv series.  I knew they were based on books, and I liked the TV show, but I wasn't sure I liked it enough to bother with the books.
Well as I mentioned in the preface, I wasn't finding much of interest on the OneClickdigital page provided by my library, until I saw they had several Longmire books.  I figured out which was the first in the series (The Cold Dish), download it, and was hooked. 
Look, the TV is great and all, but wow, the book?  Incredible.  And much as Michael Prchard is Archie Goodwin (and Nero Wolfe), and Simon Vance is jack Aubrey (and Stephen Maturin), this book was read by George Guidall and by god he is Walt Longmire.  The reading of this book is an incredible performance. 
I've had a good run of really enjoyable books in 2015, and this is one of the most enjoyable so far.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Imperium, by Robert Harris

  • Title: Imperium
  • Author:  Robert Harris
  • Borrowed from Worcester County MD Public Library (Kindle Book)
  • Started: 2/16/2015
  • Finished:  3/2/2015 
I finally finished the TV series Spartacus recently (my sister calls it "Spartacus:  Porn and More Porn") and it put me in the mood for some fun Roman historical fiction.  I'd been wanting to start the Robert Harris Cicero trilogy and I figured what better place to start than the fall of Spartacus?  Very much enjoyed the book, and as I approached the end I stayed up later than intended this past Sunday night.  Rarely do I let a book allow me to lose sleep on a Sunday night, but this time I did.
As it turns out, the second book in the trilogy isn't available for download by my library yet (sorry Mr. Harris, no royalties from me), so I'm reversing course and about to start the Howard Fast novel, Spartacus, on which the Kirk Douglas movie was based.

Monday, March 2, 2015

One Came Home, by Amy Timberlake

  • Title:  One Came Home
  • Author:  Amy Timberlake
  • Borrowed from Worcester County Public Library (Ocean City, MD) -- AudioBook
  • Started: 2/26/2015
  • Finished: 3/1/2015
I don't read many young adult books (this one is recommended for grades 5-8!), but I was desperate for a new book and needed on ASAP, and the description of One Came Home sounded interesting enough.  Sort of a toned down version of "True Grit" and "The Searchers."
It was pretty good, story kept me entertained through my workouts.  Ending dragged a bit, especially after the conflict had been resolved. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Return, by Hakan Nesser

  • Title:  The Return
  • Author:  Hakan Nesser
  • Borrowed from DC Public (AudioBook)
  • Started: 2/19/2015
  • Finished:  2/25/2015
Another Inspector Van Veetren mystery, my least favorite so far.  While plot is never my biggest concern when reading mysteries (it's all about the characters), this one is too farfetched, even for me.  Still enjoy these characters, but the book wasn't great otherwise.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Devotion of Suspect X, by Keigo Higashino

I'm blowing through audiobooks these days.  When you factor in an hour at the gym in the morning, and then 30 minutes or so walking to/from the office, I'm racking up the books. 
Anyway, this book is by the same author of the book "Malice" I just listed to a couple of weeks ago, and I think I like this one even more than Malice (and I loved Malice).  These are great "I know who did it" mysteries, where there are so many plot twists and turns, very fun.  I could read these all day.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Battle Won, by S. Thomas Russell

Title: A Battle Won
Author: S. Thomas Russell
Borrowed from: DC public kindle book
Started: 2/5/2015
Finished: 2/15/15

The second in the Captain Hayden/Themis series, entertaining enough. But I'm not sure how much more of these I can read, as it is a constant "perfect man beaten down constantly by those around him" thing, to the point that it is comical and unappealing. Will take a break and see if it seems worth coming back to the series.

Friday, February 13, 2015

An Inquiry into Love and Death, by Simone St. James

Recommended to me on my public library audiobook account, I took a chance on this period piece love/ghost story.  I wasn't crazy about the ending, but overall the book was enjoyable.  I would have preferred a little more ghost, and maybe not the "surprise" Nazi bad guys, but overall an enjoyable book.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel

  • Title:  Station Eleven
  • Author:  Emily St. John Mandel
  • Borrowed from DC Public (Kindle Book)
  • Started:  1/20/2015
  • Finished:  2/4/2015 
Shortly after I finished "The 39 Steps" I started reading "Abominable" by Dan Simmons.  Made it more than halfway through that novel before I had to admit I wasn't enjoying it, and shouldn't torture myself just because I hate to leave a book half-read.
So I move onto the book for this post, "Station Eleven."  A post-apocalyptic novel, but not like any I'd ever read.  This wasn't the struggle for survival with roving bands of outlaws.  Told through several voices, going between past (pre-flu) and present (post-flu) it was a strangely enchanting book.  Not sure how else to put it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Borkmann's Point, by Håkan Nesser

Title: Borkmann's Point
Author: Håkan Nesser
Borrowed from DCPublic (audiobook)
Started: 2/2/2015
Finished: 2/5/2015

I thought "Minds Eye" which I read recently was the first of the Inspector Van Veeteren mysteries, but it turns out it was the third. This book was the first. Very much enjoying this series, although the murderer was pretty easy to guess early on, the motive was not.  

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Malice, by Keigo Higashino

  • Title:  Malice
  • Author:  Keigo Higashino
  • Borrowed from DC Public (AudioBook)
  • Started: 1/28/2015
  • Finished:  2/1/2015
I read about this book in the WSJ several months back and thought it sounded interesting.  "Keigo Higashino combines Dostoyevskian psychological realism with classic detective-story puzzles reminiscent of Agatha Christie..."
I'd like to pretend I understand exactly what that review meant months ago, but it was only after devouring the book that I feel up to speed.  When I first started listening I was so put off by the reader's voice that I almost quit.  I'm glad I stuck it out, once the reader switched from the first narrator to the second, I began to appreciate how the book was being read.  That's hard to explain unless you listen to it, of course, but I digress.
This book was fantastic, an excellent mystery.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie

The most famous mystery by Christie?  Poirot's most impressive deduction using his little grey cells?  I've seen ever film and tv version of this story (including the first porn to ever grace my adolescent eyes, "Lust on the Orient Express" -- a classic!), and have enjoyed them all.  But until recently I had not read any of Christie's works, and only now have finally read MotOE.
I can see now why this work is so famous.  Even having the ending spoiled by all the film adaptations, the book is a masterpiece.  I can't imagine what it must have been like when first published, with the big reveal.  What a great read.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Under Enemy Colors, by S. Thomas Russell

  • Title:  Under Enemy Colors
  • Author:  S. Thomas Russell
  • Borrowed from DC Public (AudioBook)
  • Started:  1/15/2015
  • Finished:  1/21/2015
I think maybe, initially, I didn't want to like this one.  It was read by (a surprise to me), Simon Vance, whom I've praised repeatedly in this blog.  This one was read wonderfully as well, but I was taken aback to hear Vance's characters/voice on a work so similar to the Aubrey/Maturin novels. 
While much less literary than those Master & Commander books, Under Enemy Colors was exciting and enjoyable all the same.  So my initial reluctance was won over, for the most part, by a very enjoyable book.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Mind's Eye, by Hakan Nesser

  • Title:  Mind's Eye
  • Author:  Hakan Nesser
  • Borrowed from DC Public (Audiobook)
  • Started: 1/7/2015
  • Finished: 1/14/2015 
I think I was predisposed to like this one, having been wanting to read it for a while.  So even though the plot was pretty easy to figure out from the start, the characters are entertaining, the book is very well written, and, well, I liked it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The 39 Steps, by John Buchan

  • Title:  The 39 Steps
  • Author:  John Buchan 
  • Borrowed From DC Public (EPub)
  • Started: 1/5/2015
  • Finished: 1/6/2015
Needed a quick, free public library read and opted for this mystery/thriller.  It was a very fast, easy read.  Fun enough, but forgettable. 

Might as well be Dead, by Rex Stout

  • Title:  Might as well be Dead
  • Author:  Rex Stout
  • Borrowed from DC Public (Audiobook)
  • Started:  12/29/2014
  • Finished: 1/6/2015
Another Nero Wolfe book, as I've mentioned before I really enjoy listening to these.  But I need a break of a couple of books between each.  Listening to two in a row, as I did hear, I find myself weary of the characters.  But just a short break between listens and these are entertaining again.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Heart-Shaped Box, by Joe Hill

  • Title:   Heart-Shaped Box
  • Author:  Joe Hill
  • Borrowed from DC Public Library (Kindle Edition)
  • Started: 1/2/2015
  • Finished: 1/5/2015
I think this was Hill's first novel, I liked it well enough.  Again I preferred the first half or so and felt that it fell apart in the second half.  But an enjoyable and quick horror read.

The Woman in Black, by Susan Hill

  •  Title:  The Woman in Black
  • Author:  Susan Hill
  • Borrowed from DC Public (Kindle Edition)
  • Started:  12/28/2014
  • Finished:  1/1/2015
First book of 2015?  I started it in 2014 but technically finished in 2015.  Very enjoyable but short book, followed up by watching the movie a day or two later.  Both were scary, book was better by far, but I did enjoy the atmosphere in both.