Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Dinner, by Herman Koch

  • Title:  The Dinner
  • Author:  Herman Koch
  • Borrowed from DC Public (AudioBook)
  • Started:  4/24/2016
  • Finished: 4/27/2016
I didn't know much about this book, and the reviews were hit or miss (dark comedy, disturbing novel, etc.).  I was captivated by the book, but I didn't like it.  That sounds like a contradiction, but what I mean is I was curious about where it was going so I kept with it, but overall I did not enjoy the experience. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Columbo Collection, by William Link

  • Title:  The Columbo Collection
  • Author:  William Link
  • Purchased (used)
  • Started:  4/4/14/2016
  • Finished:  4/25/2016
As a longtime fan of Columbo (named my first dog, a basset hound of course, Columbo) I was excited to see that Link, the co-creator of the great detective, had published a book of short stories.  The stories are pretty weak, but this was clearly a labor of love for Link so I can't fault him.  I'm certainly not sorry I made the purchase or took the time to read a story or two a night over the last couple of weeks.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Curtain: Poirot's Last Case, by Agatha Christie

I can't pretend to have read all of the Poirot novels, but I recently watched this last Poirot on the popular series staring David Suchet.  So I thought I'd jump ahead and read this one too (I haven't been reading them in order anyway).

Not much to comment on -- I obviously already knew who the killer was, but still interesting to see the differences between book & tv version.  

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Cruel Sea, by Nicholas Monsarrat

  • Title:  The Cruel Sea
  • Author:  Nicholas Monsarrat
  • Borrowed from MD Public Library (Worcester County, Ocean City, MD), Kindle Edition
  • Started: 4/6/2016
  • Finished: 4/20/2016
I have Herman Wouk (courtesy of the WSJ) to thank for this recommendation.  The Cruel Sea was one of five works Mr. Wouk recommended for great nautical yarns, and I can't begin to describe how much this work touched me.  I did not know anything about the work (or Monsarrat), and would likely have never heard of or read this book without Wouk/WSJ recommendation.

These are fictional characters, who we meet at the start of the WW2 through the end, and by the middle of this book I cared more about these sailors than I did about most of my fellow man.  That sounds terrible, but I was so engrossed by the story, and worried about these men, and had a hard time concentrating on anything other than their ordeal.  A very powerful book.

The Final Solution, by Michael Chabon

  • Title:  The Final Solution
  • Author:  Michael Chabon
  • Borrowed from DC Public (AudioBook)
  • Started:  4/19/2016
  • Finished:  4/21/2016
I loved Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union, but for some reason never went on to read any of his other works.  When I saw that he had written a short work involving (we assume) Sherlock Holmes, I had to give it a shot.

Like TYPU, I really enjoyed this one.  It was sad, or maybe bittersweet, but a mute boy with a pet parrot, murder and infidelity, old age and youth... this was just a wondering read.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Head Full of Ghosts, by Paul Tremblay

  • Title:  A Head Full of Ghosts
  • Author:  Paul Tremblay
  • Borrowed from DC Public (AudioBook)
  • Started:  4/16/2016
  • Finished:  4/19/2016
This one started off a little slow and I wasn't sure I would enjoy it.  The blogger seemed particularly annoying.  Well it was just a slow burn, because soon the book had me hooked and I struggled to do anything other than finish this work.

You don't get a lot of answers in this book, but I'm ok with that.  Similar to the book I read in the summer of last year, The Voices (by Tallis), it is up to the reader to decide which theory they subscribe too.

Do you trust the narrator?  Even though she's only 8 (when the events happened), and at the end presents herself to be potentially totally untrustworthy?  Do you think the sister was really possessed?  Is the narrator possessed?  Was the father molesting the sister?  If so, did the mom know and turned a blind eye?  Were the reality TV crew in on the fake possession (if fake)?  Ken specifically?

Some readers will likely be annoyed that these questions and many others are never answered.  Again, I suspect many readers were annoyed by the lack of answers in The Voices.  If I had any criticism at all, it would be the that we are told at the end of the book that some statements by the narrator contradict (I'm paraphrasing) the police report -- but we are never provided that report.  I sure would have liked an appendix that contained that report to give us even more to chew on.

Anyway, this is the most I've written about a book in a while, so you can tell I enjoyed it.  For what it is worth, my gut says there is no possession, the sister was mentally ill, and the narrator is semi-reliable.  I'm on the fence about the father molesting the sister and the mother knowing about it but not doing anything to stop it.  But I think I like that explanation best, as it sets up the ending best (narrator & red sauce).

As a side note, I grew to love those blog posts that I initially hated, mostly because the blogger had the same love of horror lit and movies that I do (or that everyone who would read a book like this would).  My only complaint was that I didn't get any recommendations for books or movies, since I had already consumed all that were mentioned.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Paradise Sky, by Joe R. Lansdale

  • Title:  Paradise Sky
  • Author:  Joe R. Lansdale
  • Borrowed from DC Public (AudioBook)
  • Started:  4/7/2016
  • Finished:  4/16/2016\
A non-Hap & Leonard book by Lansdale, this was a piece of historical fiction (mostly fiction, I'd imagine) Western of a black gunslinger.  As with most of Lansdale's books, it was enjoyable if not memorable.  A big book too at over 400 pages, which was a pleasant surprise.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, by C.S. Forester

  • Title:  Mr. Midshipman Hornblower
  • Author:  C.S. Forester
  • Borrowed from DC Public (AudioBook)
  • Started: 4/2/2016
  • Finished: 4/7/2016
I've been pretty desperate for a fix since finishing the Aubrey/Maturin (Master & Commander) series a while back.  The first (chronologically) book in the Hornblower series was available so I gave it a shot. 

Entertaining, but it's not a great replacement for Aubrey/Maturin.  Nothing will be though, I suppose.  Maybe I should re-read that series...

Thursday, April 7, 2016

We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver

  • Title:  We Need to Talk About Kevin
  • Author:  Lionel Shriver
  • Borrowed from DC Public (Kindle Edition)
  • Started: 3/25/2016
  • Finished: 4/6/2016

Has there ever been a more ominously titled book?  I've been wanted to read this one ever since reading a review of the movie based on the novel.  Wanting to read it, but also dreading reading it, so I've put it off for something like 5 years.

But I finally worked up the nerve and started it, and pretty soon I was drawn in.  This rarely happens, but I had crazy dreams almost nightly related to this book.  Not nightmares, but anxiety dreams.  Very odd.  

Anyway, the book is very well written and I was hooked immediately.  I had guessed the "twist" ending almost immediately, well a version of it anyway, but I'm not certain it was really supposed to be a twist at all.  The book has an overwhelming sense of loss?  Dread?  Anxiety? Sadness?  I'm not sure how to describe it, but the gloom which hangs over it doesn't tell me that the reader is supposed to assume the narrators husband is still alive. 

My initial guess was that he had killed himself, unable to live with what Kevin had done.  That changed as soon as the daughter was introduced mid-way through the book.  Then I knew.

Difficult and engrossing, I'm glad I read this one.  I think I'll skip the movie though...

Saturday, April 2, 2016

A Banquet of Consequences, by Elizabeth George

Tittle: A Banquet of Consequences:

Author:  Elizabeth George
Borrowed from DC Public (Audiobook)
Started: 3/25/2026
Finished: 4/2/2016

First inspector Lynley book I've read.  Enjoyable, dragged a bit, but the mystery kept me going.