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Any Other Name – A Walt Longmire mystery- Review

Currently on Loan from the Library:

Any Other Name by: Craig Johnson

A Deeper Sleep by: Dana Stabenow

Whisper to the Blood by: Dana Stabenow

The Singing of the Dead by: Dana Stabeow

Other Books I’m Reading:

Galatea 2.2 by: Richard Powers

I admit it. I’ve been in a serious book funk lately. Partially because I’ve been rewriting some of my own work, and finding the first draft to be much less perfect than I had hoped. Partially because I spent several lovely rainy days actually out in the rain and not curled up with a good book.

To break the funk, I decided to order every mystery on my to read list from the library. Which worked out well for me because I ended up first on the list for the new Craig Johnson. Score! I’ll get to the massive amounts of Stabenow I’ve been inhaling in the next couple weeks. Today we’re going to talk Longmire.

Any Other Name starts with Lucian Connally dragging Walt Longmire into the investigation of the suicide of Detective Gerald Holman over in Campbell County. Not Walt’s jurisdiction. Not Walt’s problem. However, Lucian feels like he owes it to the widow, who just happens to be one of Lucian’s ex girlfriends. Of course.

Just let me pause here and say, I love Lucian. Of all the characters that have been lost in translation over to the A&E series, which is a very good series, I miss Lucian the most. If I had to deal with them in real life as a criminal, I’d take Lucian over Walt any day. You always know where you stand with Lucian. He reminds me of that old joke where the newlyweds start out on their honeymoon, and the horse pulling the carriage starts giving the new husband trouble. “That’s one,” the husband says to the horse. When the husband gets to “that’s three” he shoots the horse. Naturally the wife starts yelling at him. “That’s one,” the husband tells her. I always expect Lucian to bust out a “that’s one” on somebody.

Not unexpectedly the investigation of what seems to be a straight forward suicide turns into a full blown search for some missing women. In the course of events we are treated to another freezing, bleeding, haunted, snowbound scene. This time there are buffalo, and it’s in South Dakota. Vic is back and just as rip roaring as ever after being stabbed in A Serpents Tooth. I was about to give up hope on Henry, but then he turned up too. About one page before he was needed. There are also slave traffickers, an embezzler, hit men, trains, strippers, and a guy named Thor.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this book is that it sets up the possibility of a recurring antagonist for the next book. And boy is Vic not going to be happy about that.

All in all a fast paced and enjoyable read. Although maybe Walt needs to think about putting the brakes on his collection of haunted/cursed/unlucky items.

Favorite Scene: It’s a toss up between Lucian flags down the waitress, and Lucian deals decisively with a train. Although, some guy takes it right between the eyes with a staple is pretty darn good too.

Favorite Quote: “You’re sure you want that? Because he’s like a gun; once you point him and pull the trigger, it’s too late to change your mind.”

Enjoyability: Five stars 

Where to read this book: This is a take to the beach, lay out in the back yard read. Just use plenty of sunscreen so you don’t get engrossed and burn.

Further reading: Finishing out the Kate Shugak series. Then maybe some Bernard Cornwell. I haven’t read his most recent one yet. Can you believe that? I really have been in a funk.

The House Next Door – Review

Currently on Loan from the Library:

The Queen by: Steven James

Revenge Wears Prada by: Lauren Weisberger

The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England by: Ian Morimer

Kraken by: China Mieville

Reamde by: Neal Stephenson

Other Books I’m Reading:

Riotous Assembly by: Tom Sharpe

Don’t Kiss with your Mouth Full by: Henry P. Mahone

Anathem by: Neal Stephenson

I always appreciate it when an author steps away from what they normally write to try something different. I think most authors have more stories to tell then the ones they publish. When an audience becomes used to a certain kind of book from a writer of course they want more of that sort of book. But I like the glances down the road not taken. Even if they aren’t totally successful.

The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons is one of those steps away from the normal. Siddons, who has long been known for lush books about Southern life and culture, actually doesn’t step too far from her normal realm here. The book is still set in the south, and still displays many of the usual Siddons motifs. However, The House Next Door is a psychological thriller.

Colquitt Kennedy and her husband Walter have a nice quiet middle class life, until someone starts to build a house on the property next to theirs. Colquitt is actually a little put out that someone is building next door, until she meets and befriends the young architect Kim Dougherty. It’s Kim’s first house. He’s excited, and desperate that everyone should recognize his special genius. Which of course Colquitt does.

Then things turn dark. There are accidents, and unexplained incidences connected with the house. People seem to have personality changes when they are in the house or become depressed. Leading Colquitt and eventually Walter to believe that the house is evil. Or possibly haunted. Of course you can’t have a haunted house on the block killing people, so Colquitt and Walter decide to take care of business.

Here is the thing that keeps this book from being just another haunted house story. Colquitt is the first person narrator of the story. So it’s not always clear if she is telling the absolute truth about things. The truth as she sees it. Or the truth as she’s been influenced to see it by the house. She could be suffering from a deep and scary form of psychopathy, or she could be dealing with a very evil house. It’s never really made clear either way. Although I have an opinion given the last ten pages.

The House Next Door was written in the late 1970’s. Younger reader may find some of it a bit dated. I don’t think it detracts from the book. Sensitive readers should be aware there is one scene containing a mildly graphic description of a miscarriage. On the whole though it is not a gory book.

If you do decide to read The House Next Door clear some time in your schedule. I read it in one sitting the first time. I was up until 3 a.m. It gives the phrase architectural nightmare a whole different meaning.

Favorite Scene: Kim comes by for a drink the first time.

Favorite Quote: “If we find that all our efforts have failed and someone buys the house, we shall set fire to it and burn it down. We will to this at night, before it is occupied. In another time they would have plowed the charred ground and sowed it with salt.

If it should come to that, I do not think we will be punished.

I do not think we will be alive long enough. “

Enjoyability: Five stars.

Where to read this book: Probably not at night alone in a house. I read it at night, but I was not alone.

Further reading: I have a whole pile of books. I should probably just start at the top and work down.

Flash Forward – Review

Currently on Loan from the Library:

The Whale Road by: Robert Low

Ranger’s Apprentice by: John Flanagan

Flash Forward by: Robert J. Sawyer

Triggers by: Robert J. Sawyer

The Gone Away World by: Nick Harkaway

Other Books I’m Reading:

 Anathem: by Neal Stephenson. 

This week, I got over the Viking thing, and decided to clean out my Amazon wish list a little.  I knew I had several books on there that I probably no longer want in dead tree editions.  Flash Forward had been on that list for some time, ever since I watched the first couple episodes of the television show based very loosely on the book.  Basically, great concept, bad show.  So I had promised myself I’d get around to the book.

Flash Forward is also my very first Sawyer.  I’ve been meaning to get around to him.  Mostly the buzz was good.  I also picked up Triggers as a point of comparison.

In the world of Flash Forward, CERN starts a test trying to find the Higgs, just as everyone on the face of the earth has a two minute blackout.  Naturally many people are killed in car crashes, falling down stairs, and many other horrible accidents.  Those who are not killed experience a brief glimpse of their future.  After everyone wakes up and puts their glimpses together, the world finds they have seen twenty-one years into their future for two minutes.  The rest of the book plays out as people try and deal with their futures, or change them.

Now, there is a reason why physicists are not usually the heroes of books.  Generally physicists are cast as super smart people with little or no interpersonal skills, and some crazy huge theories it’s going to cost billions to prove or disprove.  This is where, had the producers of the television show read the book, they could have saved themselves a lot of time and energy.  Most of this book is physicists hanging out in various offices, and swapping huge theories it’s going to cost billions of dollars to prove or disprove about why all the earth thinks they’ve seen the future.  And if they have seen the future, can it be changed?  And if it can be changed will they be changing it for the better?  And if no one is there to see it, does reality go on without us?

Sawyer does it well.  The book is enjoyable to read.  The characters are colorful, and interesting.  There is even some gun play at the end.  Plus Lloyd Simcoe, head researcher, and scapegoat in chief, pulls a pretty impressive Hamlet for much of the book.  But as well written as Flash Forward is, it’s not really an FBI drama.  Even if, like the show, you dispense with the book’s explanation of the event, and try and make it much creepier.

Part of the charm of this book, is that it was published in 1999 and is very near term fiction.  Which is to say, the events in most of the book happen in 2009.  There are many predictions in this book about what 2009 fashion, and society will be like, as well as the future society everyone saw for 2030.  Some of them we know he’s wrong about, others, not so much.   We’ll see.  2030 is on it’s way.

Enjoyability:  Four stars.   

 

Where to read this book: This is a good rainy day book.  It’s not really that long, but it’s interesting.  

 

Further reading: I’ve been waiting to get to The Gone Away World for some time.  Interestingly, the copy from my library has the girlyist pink and green cover I’ve ever seen on a Science Fiction book.  Hum.  

Published!

overfinalIt has happened.   The Kindle version of my book is up at Amazon.  In the next couple weeks we’ll be making a paperback version available as well.

Here is the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Color-Ordinary-Time-ebook/dp/B00CIC91WQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1366858179&sr=8-1&keywords=virginia+voelker

Here is the 100 Ton Press Link with the news: http://100ton.wordpress.com

Hope everybody has a great day.  I know I am.

A Summery Summary

I have been reading many books, as usual.  Just nothing recently that’s really made me want to write a review.  Also, I’ve been mentally gearing up for NaNoWriMo.  It’s been two or three years since I’ve finished my NaNoWriMo project on time.  Or in fact at all.  So this year I’m trying to work myself back into a writing schedule.  I feel silly having finished with time to spare three years straight, only to lose my edge.

I did read the first two novels in the Liam Campbell series by Dana Stabenow.  Both Fire and Iceand  So Sure of Death are very entertaining reads.  I confess that I don’t find Liam as interesting a character as Kate Shugak, the authors other major hero.  However, I find the people placed around Liam more compelling than those surrounding Kate.  Which is to say there are four minor characters and one major one in these books, that could easily be spun off into their own series.  I’d be on board.  I also like that these books make me feel like I could possibly survive in Alaska.  Where the Kate Shugak books make me feel that I would surely perish in a horrible way if I set foot in our forty-ninth state.  The Liam Campbell series puts me in mind of my friend Cindy who lived in Alaska for many years, and claims that old saying “the chances are good, but the goods are strange”, is dead on.

For my new book club I read A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers.  I admit, I am not a fan of Inspiration Fiction.  Generally I find the genera to be heavy handed, over emotional, manipulative, poorly sourced, badly executed, faux theological drivel.  That said, A Voice in the Wind was an interesting read.  There are plenty of cliff hangers, red herrings, and game changers to keep the reader engaged.  Francine Rivers is a talented writer.  I am looking forward to the next book in the series, which we are reading for next months meeting.  Be aware, she does stray into some works righteousness theology, and I have questions about how deeply she researched the Roman social order, but all in all, there’s nothing to get unhinged over.  I think most of the ladies in the group were upset by the gore, especially in the first several chapters.  Return readers will not doubt be aware of my Bernard Cornwell fixation, and take it into consideration when I say, the level of gore didn’t bother me.

Just now I’m reading Rift Zone by Raelynn Hillhoues.  I don’t want to spoil anything, but I feel a very good review coming on.

Hope everyone had a great summer.  So glad the fall is here.

Restless in the Grave – Review

Currently on Loan from the Library:

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

Better to Rest  by Dana Stabenow

Restless in The Grave by Dana Stabenow

 Other Books I’m Reading:

I’m always tempted to put a title here that makes me look smart and witty.  Sadly, I’m not reading anything else right now.   The crazy busy is eating into my reading time.   

Here is what I have come to appreciate about Dana Stabenow books.  It’s never the same book twice.  Many authors come to a point where you know exactly what you are getting when you pick up their books.  Think James Patterson, even in the long ago days when he was not more industry than author, or Tami Hoag, as much as I enjoy her work, or pretty much any romance novelist ever.  There just does not seem to be a formula that Dana Stabenow is working with, or maybe there is, but she uses a different formula for every book.  I really delight in that aspect of her writing.  Although I freely admit, I have not yet read everything she has written.  Not even most of the Kate Shugak novels.  

 I came to the Kate Shugak novels through a friend who recommended them.  I’ve read five now, out of about fifteen.  I do have plans to slowly work my way through the other ten.  Hopefully while keeping up on the new installments as they come out.  I know that by hunting and pecking my way through Dana’s work, I am in a sense short changing her efforts.  There seems to be, even to my out of sync eye, a great deal of foreshadowing and inside joking, in these books.  Which is defiantly part of their charm.  I am already starving to see what next Kate Shugak book holds.  

 Restless in the Grave starts with Alaska State Trooper Liam Campbell showing up in Niniltna, Kate’s hometown, looking for help investigating a possible murder.  Liam is apparently an old friend and student of Chopper Jim, Kate’s current beau.  Liam is also apparently the main subject of another Stabenow series.  Which I obviously also have to read.  Bringing to fourteen the number of books added to my must read list from this author.  

 Kate agrees to help Liam, apparently any woman would, and heads off for Newenham, Alaska to investigate the possible murder.  Since it’s a Stabenow novel, I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by telling you, it was a murder.  Although I wasn’t entirely sure it was until a good three hundred pages in to a three hundred and seventy page book.  Also, the murderer, while not entirely a surprise to me, was also not really my suspect list until a bit of foreshadowing around page three hundred. Gotta love a book that keeps you guessing until the end.  

 Kate takes the usual amount of abuse in this book.  Including being covered in trash, and blood.  There are fewer guns than usual, although they are of the larger more powerful type.  So I guess that makes up for the number.  The body count is reasonably low.  As are the, as usual, very tastefully done scenes of corporal exuberance.  There are tons of planes.  Restless in the Grave has more than convinced me I never need a pilot license.  Just like skinning a moose is not for me, flying a plane is not for me.  Breaking and entering also figures largely into this book, and more than a little marital strife with a side of fortune hunting.  

I am a little worried that Chopper Jim is on his way out.  Which is too bad.  I kind of like Chopper Jim.  Not just for the cool nickname either.  Watch for the return of the very menacing Erland Bannister.  Also, I feel that the next novel may be about a serial killer.  Or at least about a body buried in a basement.  Call me crazy.  I hope wherever Dana Stabenow is today, she’s working on it.

Enjoyability: A nice four and a half star read.  It does drag a little around the two thirds mark.  Still it’s a humdinger.     

Where to read this book: Over your drink of choice.  Daylight not required.  

Further reading:  The Forever War which I absolutely must get to before returning it to the Library.  Also, obviously the first Liam Campbell mystery.  

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