Monday, April 15, 2013

Books of March 2013

I picked up the slack a little bit in March.  You could say my reading habits came in like a lion...

The Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly - Currently my favorite Harry Bosch novel by Connelly.  It ties in a current muder investigation with a previous serial killer case that Bosch worked.  The famous "Dollmaker" case had been alluded to in previous novels by Connelly but never was the full story given until now.  Great police procedural drama with a few twists and humor sprinkled into the mix.  I'm really enjoying this series!  4 out of 5 stars.

Gerald's Game by Stephen King - Another King retread that I bought and read when it was originally published around 1992.  Basically a woman and her husband visit their lake house at the end of the summer season and proceed to engage in some sex play.  A few pages later and we find our heroine handcuffed to the bed posts while her husband lies dead on the floor.  Though a very simple premise, this novel creeped me out big time the first time I read it.  It didn't disappoint the second time around.  What would you do or think if you were handcuffed to a bed, keys out of reach, without the possibility of attaining help?   4 out of 5 stars. 

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan - In anticipation of the new season of "Game of Thrones" on HBO and the fact that George R. R. Martin won't be publishing a new book anytime soon, I decided to check out a new fantasy series.  Yet again I went with a suggestion from the brave circle jerkers on Reddit and came up with "The Wheel of Time" series, starting with "The Eye of the World."  Not knowing anything about the series, I didn't know what to expect.  What I got was a little Tolkien retread, mixed in with some Star Wars elements, add a dash of Greek mythology, and a whole hell of a lot of walking.  It doesn't sound as bad as it seems.  From what I understand it's your basic fantasy fair, lots of characters set in a Middle Ages sort of time, with lots of ground to travel.  Though a bit contrived and and clichéd I actually enjoyed the story and the characters for the most part.  Well enough to give the second book in the series a look.  3 out of 5 stars.

Every Dead Thing by John Connolly - Up to this point I had read only one other John Connolly novel and it was different to say the least.  I was expecting a little bit of the same, that is a mystery with a few supernatural elements thrown in.  As it turns out, "Every Dead Thing" is pretty much your standard mystery novel where Charlie "Bird" Parker, a private detective in New York, begins a missing person investigation that evolves into something a whole lot bigger.  This is Connolly's first novel and throws every possible murder mystery procedural cliché at the wall.  Amazingly most of it sticks and works fairly well.  I look forward to reading more from this author.  Also, Connolly has an exceptional gift with vocabulary.  Maybe it's an Irish thing.  3 out of 5 stars.

The Last Coyote by Michael Connolly - Another good effort from Connolly in the Harry Bosch series.  Harry, on involuntary leave from the force, is required to see a department psychiatrists and come to grips with the ghosts of his past.  I should be writing copy for someone somewhere!  Anyway, the bits with the shink are really well done and it's nice to probe a little deeper into Bosch's childhood and his mother.  3 out of 5 stars.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks - I had been looking forward to reading this book for a while and finally got around to it.  I really wanted to like the collections of stories more than I did but it just wasn't there.  Basically it's a collection of stories from people of all walks of life retelling their experiences of the Zombie War, ten years after its conclusion.  The author deals a deck that's a little heavy handed, turning down his nose on the hubris of mankind and science run amoke, blah blah blah.  Also all of the different people retelling their stories seemed to come from the same voice, the authors, if that makes sense.  Adding spiffy European or Middle Eastern phrases didn't add much a difference from the narrative coming from Herman the bunny wrangler in the next chapter.  But I digress.  Overall the story kep me interested throughout.  I'm thinking this may be one of those times when the movie will be better than the book.  Plus you can never go wrong with Brad Pitt.  3 out of 4 stars.

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather - I read Willa Cather in High School, "My Antonia" to be specific, and I think everyone else should too!  Think about it, how many strong female American voices can you remember reading back in your school days?  To be honest I don't remember very many but I always had a special place in my ticker for Cather.  "O Pioneers!" is a prairie tale about a family of immigrants that move from Eastern Europe to Nebraska to live the American dream and tame the wild land.  While the story is a bit silly you have to appreciate the strong female character that Cather creates in Alexandra.  Through sheer will and determination Alexandra triumphs over many hurdles to obtain her dreams, many of those hurdles being the dumb ass men characterized in the story.  Easy to read given that is was written in 1913, Cather has a very special power when poetically describing the plains.  On the downside, the story doesn't end very happily, but since when does life ever?  3 out of 5 stars.

Cold Fire by Dean Koontz - Ah, the poor mans Stephen King.  I've only actually read one other book by Koontz in my life and it was actually just a pretty normal tale.  This one is pretty crazy.  Guy finds that he has a gift to see the future of specific people and uses that gift to travel around the country to save lives.  Sound cool so far, right?  Turns out the gift is from God.  No wait, it's an alien living at his old farm.  Yet again it might just be his tortured split personality from a childhood trauma.  Very weird, very tiresome.  I only gave an extra star for the great first half of the book.  From there it's all shit creek.  2 out of 5 stars.

The Internet is a Playground by David Thorne - I found out about David Thorne while piddling around on the Internet, I think it was at Bored at Work.  The book is a collection of emails and correspondence and other funny bits of him basically fucking with people.  I laughed until I cried at some of the stories.  What he does is a little mean spirited but I'm down with it.  You've been warned.  4 out of 5 stars.

Trunk Music by Michael Connelly - Yeah I'm really into Michael Connelly this year if you hadn't noticed. Mystery, murder, and mayhem.  Bosch investigates a mob style murder that takes him from L.A. to the underworld of Vegas and into the arms of an old fling!  Yeah, yeah.  Good read though.  3 out of 5 stars.

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