Category Archives: Uncategorized
Currently on Loan from the Library:
Still Waters by: Tami Hoag
Red 1-2-3 by: John Katzenbach
One for the Money by: Janet Evanovich
The Last Dead Girl by: Harry Dolan
The Intern’s Handbook by: Shane Kuhn
Other Books I’m Reading:
Galatea 2.2 by: Richard Powers
I have done it! I have read every last one of the books in the Kate Shugak Series by Dana Stabenow. Yes, I double checked. I have experienced very approving sentiments while reading all of them. However, I will not be reviewing any of them. Not that they don’t deserve well written positive reviews. They do. I just don’t want to be away from my books that long. Although I did download Everything Under the Heavens a couple of days ago. So another Stabenow review may be forthcoming.
While I was on vacation I picked up a Tami Hoag series I’d been meaning to read. Deeper than the Dead, Secrets to the Grave and Down the Darkest Road are all set in Oak Knoll, California during the mid to late 1980’s. The first two installments are all the things I’ve come to expect from a Tami Hoag book. They are creepy, surprising, intense, and interesting. I even cheered a little at one point. Some guys just deserve a tire iron to the head. Then there is Down the Darkest Road.
Down the Darkest Road is set four years after the previous book. While it does revisit the main characters from the first two books, the main character in this book is Lauren Lawton. Lauren’s daughter Leslie disappeared four years earlier, an event that was followed closely by the death and/or suicide of Lauren’s husband Lance. Lauren has supposedly moved to Oak Knoll with her daughter to escape from the attention they draw due to the well publicized disappearance.
Yes, that’s right. She’s moved to a town famous for a serial killer, several stabbings, and a mental hospital fire, for peace and quiet. This made more sense to me later in the book when it became apparent that Lauren is stalking the man she is convinced kidnapped and killed Leslie. It couldn’t be more clear that Lauren is hanging on by a thread. It also couldn’t be more clear that it is better to know who you are dealing with before you try and deal with them.
There is a lot to like about this series as a whole. Especially the setting. It’s refreshing to read a crime book where DNA does you no good, and computers barely exist. However, if you are sensitive to violence against women, it is probably not the series for you.
In Down the Darkest Road I did miss several characters that were not continued into this book. Dennis Farman the stabby pre-teen arsonist from the first two books is totally missing. Leaving his story line cut short. Likewise the effervescent Mr. Franny, Anne’s best friend and confidant is never even mentioned. Anne the heroine of the first two books is a very serious person. She needs her Mr. Franny. Saddest of all though, there is not resolution of the Tommy Crane matter.
In the first book Tommy is taken out of the country by his mother who is possibly complicit in several crimes. It is noted that Anne will never see him again. But I’m not Anne. I want to know what happens to Tommy. I’m going to be looking for him from now on in every new book Tami Hoag publishes. Poor Tommy.
Favorite Scene: Lauren realizes she should have checked with the licensing board.
Favorite Quote: “From what everyone is saying about Mrs. Lawton, it doesn’t sound like there’s much chance of you falling in love with her,” Hicks said.
Enjoyability: The first two in the series are five stars. Down the Darkest Road is a four. Mostly because, no Mr. Franny.
Where to read this book: If you’re in the mid-west for the next couple months, anyplace you can find that has air conditioning.
Further reading: Just started Red 1-2-3 by John Katzenbach. Creepy.
I realized over the last year that there are many books that show up on my blog as just titles and never as reviews. It’s true, I don’t read everything that I check out from the library. I do try everything that I check out from the library. Not everything gets a review.
However, just because I don’t review a book doesn’t mean I didn’t like the book. To remedy this I’m starting a new feature. Every once in a while I’m going to post a short summary of what I’ve liked, and the other books. Welcome to Thumbs up, Thumbs down.
Bad Religion by: Ross Douthat
Earth Made of Glass by: John Barnes
The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England by: Ian Morimer
The Princes in the Tower by: Alison Weir
A Serpent’s Tooth by: Craig Johnson
Hell is Empty : by Craig Johnson
The Crying of Lot 49 by: Thomas Pynchon
Quiet Dello by: Jayne Anne Phillips
The Long War by: Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
The King’s Deception by: Steve Berry – In fairness I didn’t read even most of this book. There were some technical problems with the copy my library has. But it wasn’t looking good when I put it down.
Riotous Assembly by: Tom Sharpe
The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by: Andrew Sean Greer
So what’s been on you’re Thumbs Up list lately?
Currently on Loan from the Library:
The March of Folly by: Barbara W. Tuchman (Which contains among other wonderful chapters, a chapter on the Protestant Reformation that I’m really enjoying.)
Quantico by: Greg Bear
I’ve been rereading Much Ado About Nothing this week. My gosh William Shakespeare was a genius. I always forget if it’s been a while since I’ve read his work.
Daybreak Zero is the second installment in a trilogy by John Barnes. I’ve also read the first installment, Directive 51. I hope soon to read the third installment The Last President. However, my library is being difficult.
Daybreak Zero is set in the post apocalyptic world created by the author in Directive 51. Basically, a group of people with good intentions and a wish to go back to a more natural world are turned into terrorists by an idea, and some hypnotism. These people called Daybreakers, set out to destroy everything that made the modern world work, and they were incredibly successful. With microscopic beings eating all the plastic, and turning gas into sludge the world comes to a screeching halt. Add in fission explosions that have leveled most of Europe, parts of South America, and a large chunk of North America. Also, there is a EMP cannon on the Moon that is shooting out any major radio station. By the end of Directive 51 millions of people have died and the United States government has divided into three parts. A group in Olympia, Washington, that is led by the Constitutional President, a group in Athens, Georgia led by the person who was supposed to hand over the Presidency, and didn’t, and a group in Pueblo, Colorado, that is led by Heather O’Grainne who is just trying to keep what is left of humanity from killing itself.
Daybreak Zero opens with the introduction of the tribes. The tribes are the people who used to be Daybreakers, or have become Daybreakers, and have gone native. Scary, violent, aggressive, and sort of faux American Indian groups start attacking anything that could be considered rebuilding, and taking slaves. Meanwhile, the Georgia, and Washington contingents are spitting at each other while Heather tries to get them to the table to set up the next election.
Heather, along with having her own plans for the future of the country, seems to be the only leader really interested in restoration. Which makes it doubly sad when she realizes that Daybreak has infiltrated her administration. That means somebody she likes and trusts is selling them out.
I think what makes these books work so well is that Barnes has a surprisingly deft hand with the interpersonal relationships. From the little town in the mid-west that just hunkered down and survived wave after wave of trouble together, to the trophy wife of a General, his characters have dimension.
Possibly the most heartbreaking character is in fact the trophy wife of the General. Married to a man twice her age. She seems to be leading him around by his desires. Most of the people in the book remark on her intelligence. She’s clearly much smarter than her husband. But she’s paying a horrible price for her influence.
These books are mostly mayhem and death. There is no denying it. They are also well written. I can’t wait to see how he finishes the series off. Actually given the series up until now, he may really be finishing things off in the last book.
Sensitive readers should be aware there are some scenes of torture. It’s not terribly graphic. But it is disturbing.
Favorite Scene: Santa Claus bites the dust. And boy did he have it coming.
Favorite Quote: “I wasn’t much of a lurer when I was twenty-one. My big seductive move was to send her a list of Xbox games I had. Anyway, Look, I know Harrison Castro, and I’m sure you’re right about his intentions.”
Enjoyability: Five Stars
Where to read this book: Possibly in your well stocked end of the world bunker. Just for safety sake.
Further reading: Enjoying The March of Folly so much. Not sure I could review it. But it is definitely a thumbs up.
Last year I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions. I thought it would be freeing. Besides, I’m way too old for that stuff. Right? Right.
Looking back now, I realize I still tried to do all the things I would normally make resolutions about. I just did them in a haphazard manner, instead of an organized one. I’m not sure if it was freeing, or just madcap.
Since it would be pure folly to reveal all here, I will simply say that for the blog these are my goals: One posted review a week. Plus a post about once a month on all the other books I’ve been reading. Hopefully with a simple thumbs up or thumbs down rating. Also, fewer typos.
How are your plans shaping up for 2014?
The Kindle version of my book is marked down to $.99 for the holidays.
I picked up a mystery novel today, by an author I’ve never read before. One the first page there were five of the most commonly used clichés in mystery writing.
They were, in no particular order:
1. I died twice
2. Some one tried to save me
3. Some one tried to kill me
4. Dying isn’t what you think
5. My father hated black, so when he died I wouldn’t wear black. Even though Mom tried to make me. (This one is so epic, it probably counts as a cliché across all literature)
On the first page!
In a way I don’t know what to do next.
A) Turn the page and keep reading, because hope springs eternal?
B) Close the book and return it to the library?
C) Drive it to the library immediately and demand something that has been edited more harshly?
I await your guidance. Because I’m totally bumfuzzled.
Currently on Loan from the Library:
The 9th Girl by: Tami Hoag
Zoe’s Tale by: John Scalzi
Cold Wind by C.J. Box
Another Man’s Moccasins by: Craig Johnson
The Dark Horse by: Craig Johnson
River of the Gods by: Ian McDonald
Other Books I’m Reading:
World War Z by: Max Books
Anathem by: Neal Stephenson
Tami Hoag is another one of those authors I either hate or love depending on the book. For instance, I’m a big fan of her protagonist Elena Estes from Dark Horse and The Alibi Man. I’m not such a big fan of her Deer Lake series, or really any of her romance novels. Her newly published book The 9th Girl is the fourth installment in Tami’s, Kovac and Liska series. The prior books, Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, and Prior Bad Acts were all strong work.
The 9th Girl starts with Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska being called to a scene on the highway New Years Eve. The car the murdered girl was being transported in hit a huge pothole on the freeway, the trunk popped open and she popped out. The horrified limo driver who sees the girl pop out of the trunk creates a serious traffic jam, and the cops are called. The poor dead girl had been stabbed, and her face has been partially melted with acid, leading the reporters to dub her “Zombie Doe”. The dead girl is the 9th Jane Doe case of the year. She is also, Kovac suspects, the 9th victim of a serial killer the news has started calling Doc Holiday. Liska is not so sure.
Meanwhile, Nikki Liska, divorced Mom of two sons is having problems at home. Her older son, Kyle, who is fifteen is having problems at school. She’s feeling guilty about her hours. She’s feeling guilty about not being closer to Kyle. And the fact that she’s investigating the brutal murder of a child who could be her son’s class mate, is not helping matters.
Then the crazy starts.
Sensitive readers should probably be aware that the forensic scenes are a touch graphic. However, if you’re a fan of the genera, they are probably nothing that will surprise you.
On the whole I enjoyed this book. I like that Kovac calls his tiny blond partner “Tinks” short for Tinker Bell. I like that she calls him “Kojack”. I like that they work well together, even when they disagree. And they do disagree. The plot in The 9th Girl is strong. The way they finally catch the serial killer is clearly just a stroke of… Well, I can’t call it good luck, considering the curcumstances. But it was clearly just a stroke of the author being on their side. On the other hand, I guess they were due for some luck somewhere in this story. Besides, really, if the author isn’t going to be on the side of the hero, who is?
Favorite Scene: Nikki Liska tries not to kill Kyle’s principal.
Favorite Quote: “You have to kill a zombie by killing it’s brain,” Elwood explained. “It’s not that easy.”
Enjoyability: A solid four starts.
Where to read this book: Still in the air conditioning for me.
Further reading: Someone recommend C.J. Box recently. I may give that one a shot.
I’ve decided to change the name of this blog. The reading and reviewing seems to have taken over everything else. Which is fine. I really like reviewing. So before I post my next review, It’s time for a name change.
If anyone has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.
Now I’ve got to go write a new review.
Currently on Loan from the Library:
The Long Earth by: Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
The St. Zita Society by: Ruth Rendell
The War of the Roses by: Alison Weir
Other Books I’m Reading:
Anathem by: Neal Stephenson (And the giant clock still continues to tick.)
I always like a good MacGuffin. They make me smile inside. 1356 by Bernard Cornwell presents us with another fine MacGuffin. Which is appropriate as the book is the follow up to his Grail Quest Series. Which also had a fine MacGuffin in the form of the Holy Grail.
In 1356 we are treated to a chase across France after the Sword of St. Peter. The sword, one of many things that Joseph of Arimathea seems to have dumped in England, is supposedly the sword that Jesus stopped St. Peter from using on the night Jesus was arrested. As such it is either holy, or cursed. Maybe both. Throw in a priest with a bird that blinds people, a cardinal that wants to be Pope, some Scotts, an English Prince, several armies of varying size, a French King, a virgin knight, and a countess who is seriously not a virgin. Now there is an adventure.
Sir Thomas of Hookton, returning hero of the Grail Quest series is ordered by his English liege Lord to find the sword. Thomas who seems to be living happily in France as a war lord for hire, is not thrilled but can’t seem to escape involvement. A constant theme in poor old Tom’s life.
I did not review the books in the Grail Quest series when I read them. I didn’t hate them. I didn’t love them. I assumed the subject matter was the problem. Grail lore is just not my thing. I hope some day they find dozens of first century clay cups in Glastonbury. It would do my heart good. However, 1356 leaves me with the meh as well. It is not bad. It is not great. I enjoyed reading the book. It was nice to have some follow up on Thomas. I probably would never read it again. I can think of other books by the same author that I’d much rather reread.
There are of course the usual number of bloody battle scenes and rape victims everywhere.
I think the interesting part of this for me is what Cornwell is going to do next with this series. If he does anything at all. Both the Sword and the Grail have been disposed of by Sir Thomas in fairly lackadaisical ways. It is entirely possible one or both could be resurrected. Not entirely unlike another far more famous MacGuffin, the Ark of the Covenant. Government facilities being what they are.
Enjoyability: I give it four stars. Not the best ever. But good.
Where to read this book: I probably should have taken this one the coffee shop.
Further reading: Probably The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett. I’m fascinated. There is a character in it named Percy Blakeney. Two points for anyone who can tell me without looking it up, what other Percy Blakeney I’m thinking of.
Yesterday, I finished my very first lace weight project. Well, my very first lace weight project that has held together and didn’t look like it was made by a monkey. I’m weirdly over pleased with myself.
I know I knit a lot of lace. Still, most of my lace work is done in sock weight yarn. Which is great stuff. Lace weight it just fiddely to work with. But then it tuns out like this.
I may have to buy more lace weight.