Friday, September 28, 2012

Smokin' Seventeen

I actually enjoyed returning back to Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series with "Smokin' Seventeen" (308 pages).  I read most of the books in the series over a short period of time a year or two ago and it was a little much. From Goodreads:

"Dead bodies are showing up in shallow graves on the empty construction lot of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds. No one is sure who the killer is, or why the victims have been offed, but what is clear is that Stephanie’s name is on the killer’s list.

Short on time to find evidence proving the killer’s identity, Stephanie faces further complications when her family and friends decide that it’s time for her to choose between her longtime off-again-on-again boyfriend, Trenton cop Joe Morelli, and the bad boy in her life, security expert Ranger. Stephanie’s mom is encouraging Stephanie to dump them both and choose a former high school football star who’s just returned to town. Stephanie’s sidekick, Lula, is encouraging Stephanie to have a red-hot boudoir 'bake-off.' And Grandma Bella, Morelli’s old-world grandmother, is encouraging Stephanie to move to a new state when she puts 'the eye' on Stephanie.

With a cold-blooded killer after her, a handful of hot men, and a capture list that includes a dancing bear and a senior citizen vampire, Stephanie’s life looks like it’s about to go up in smoke."

Rather than adding a "traditional" recap, I thought I would add some quotes from the novel as I have with other books in Evanovich's series.  For the most part they're all pretty much the same with a few changes in plot.

"Lula hauled herself up off the floor and put her hand to her neck.  'Do I got holes?  Am I bleeding?  Do I look like I'm turning into a vampire?"'
"'No, no, and no,' I told her.  'He doesn't have his teeth in.  He was just gumming you.'"

"Here's the thing I've noticed about Lula.  I've seen her when she's on a healthy eating plan, holding her calories down, I've seen her on ridiculous fad diets, and I've seen her when she eats everything in sight.  And so far as I can tell, her weight never changes."

"Fortunately for you I know the perfect cure for a pimple of that magnitude.  Sweaty gorilla sex.  Lots of it."

"We all went dead still, absorbing the fact that a large bear was loose in the Burg."

"'I'm not going,' Lula said.  'This job gets worse and worse.  Vampires and bears and big guys with boners.  Okay, so maybe I didn't mind the big guy with the boner so much.'"

"Maybe you want to think about getting a different job.  Something with better work conditions... like roach extermination or hazardous waste collection."

"A madman is sending me dead people, a crazy woman wants to run me over, I need to catch a guy who thinks he's a vampire, and I have the vordo."

Again, Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series usually is just more of the same but it sure can be a fun ride and fun to read.  Catching her novels about once a year is definitely the way to go.  Recommended for fans of the bumbling bounty hunter and those who like an easy, funny read.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Killing Floor

I was happy to have found "Killing Floor" (406 pages) by Lee Child at the used book store. I really enjoy the Jack Reacher novels by Child and I was very interested to see how the whole series started. It's been my experience that series of this nature are usually better the earlier. From Goodreads:

"Welcome to Margrave, Georgia — but don't get too attached to the townsfolk, who are either in on a giant conspiracy, or hurtling toward violent deaths, or both.

There's not much of a welcome for Jack Reacher, a casualty of the Army's peace dividend who's drifted into town idly looking for traces of a long dead black jazzman. Not only do the local cops arrest him for murder, but the chief of police turns eyewitness to place him on the scene, even though Reacher was getting on a bus in Tampa at the time. Two surprises follow: The murdered man wasn't the only victim, and he was Reacher's brother whom he hadn't seen in seven years. So Reacher, who so far hasn't had anything personal against the crooks who set him up for a weekend in the state pen at Warburton, clicks into overdrive.

Banking on the help of the only two people in Margrave he can trust — a Harvard-educated chief of detectives who hasn't been on the job long enough to be on the take, and a smart, scrappy officer who's taken him to her bed — he sets out methodically in his brother's footsteps, trying to figure out why his cellmate in Warburton, a panicky banker whose cell-phone number turned up in Joe's shoe, confessed to a murder he obviously didn't commit; trying to figure out why all the out-of-towners on Joe's list of recent contacts were as dead as he was; and trying to stop the local carnage or at least direct it in more positive ways. Though the testosterone flows as freely as printer's ink, Reacher is an unobtrusively sharp detective in his quieter moments — not that there are many of them to judge by.

Despite the crude, tough-naïf narration, debut novelist Child serves up a big, rangy plot, menace as palpable as a ticking bomb, and enough battered corpses to make an undertaker grin."

Another really good effort by Child but definitely not close to being the best in his prolific Jack Reacher series.  I appreciated reading Reacher's first "adventure" six months removed from the military and to see some flashes of the character I would get to know better a few more books into the series.  Oddly enough Reacher seemed to be a little more human in his debut story while still being just as lethal.  Though I understand his personal motivations for violence in the story, I thought it was a little over the top, even for someone as cold as Jack Reacher.  One could argue some of his actions throughout the novel bordered on homicidal, a character trait that luckily usually isn't present in other books by Child. 

A decent first outing to an otherwise fantastic series.  Recommended, "that's for damn sure," to use one of Jack Reacher's catch phrases.

Completely off topic, I hate the new Blogger interface...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Your Culture Will Adapt to Service Us!

Interesting building in Dallas I saw on Labor Day. All I could think was resistance is futile...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Crossing

Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated, it's just been a busy time of year for some reason. Lots of traveling and coming home from Dallas with the plague has left me little time to do any reading. I finally finished "The Crossing" (426 pages) by Cormac McCarthy, a novel I've been working on for about a month. From Goodreads:

"Following All the Pretty Horses in Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy is a novel whose force of language is matched only by its breadth of experience and depth of thought.

In the bootheel of New Mexico hard on the frontier, Billy and Boyd Parham are just boys in the years before the Second World War, but on the cusp of unimaginable events. First comes a trespassing Indian and the dream of wolves running wild amongst the cattle lately brought onto the plain by settlers - this when all the wisdom of trappers has disappeared along with the trappers themselves. And so Billy sets forth at the age of sixteen on an unwitting journey into the souls of boys and animals and men. Having trapped a she-wolf he would restore to the mountains of Mexico, he is long gone and returns to find everything he left behind transformed utterly in his absence. Except his kid brother, Boyd, with whom he strikes out yet again to reclaim what is theirs thus crossing into 'that antique gaze from whence there could be no way back forever.'

An essential novel by any measure, The Crossing is luminous and appalling, a book that touches, stops, and starts the heart and mind at once."

I think the preview above from Goodreads pretty much sums up the "The Crossing" without giving too much away. I was expecting a direct sequel to "All the Pretty Horses" but was surprised by the new set of characters and situations presented here. The tone is certainly similar to McCarthy's first volume in the "Border Trilogy." From what I've read the third installment will bring together both stories. I'll definitely need to find "Cities of the Plain" soon to complete the trilogy.

McCarthy's work is beautifully lyrical. Haunting and romantic. Tragic. When his narrative hits hard it takes your breath away. The premise is simple, a crossing into Mexico and back again, a couple of times. Along the way the reader is treated to a vast array of characters, both good and not so good, who have their own perspectives and tales of their country. I cannot recommend McCarthy's work enough. Simplistic, yet engrossing. A true master of modern storytelling.