Saturday, May 22, 2010

Catching Up On My Writing About Reading

REVIEWS OF UNUSUAL SIZE
A million books! Give or take. It's been far too long since I've updated my reading list and reviews on here. I'm not sure why. If I'd just write the dang review right after I read it, I wouldn't have such a daunting pile of books in front of me! Onward!

BOOKS

5 THINGS ABOUT...


TANNER'S TWELVE SWINGERS
by Lawrence Block
1999, 272 pages

1 -   The third book in the increasingly over-the-top Tanner series finds our sleepless hero travelling across the country, collecting an increasingly screwball collection of refugees.

2 -   I found myself getting annoyed with Tanner's character as this story progressed. At first, I loved the idea - a man that never sleeps and uses the extra 8 hours a day to learn languages, read books and champion lost causes but it seems to have changed to championing radical military groups from assorted countries, which I find much less appealing.

3 -   Tanner is still a great guy though and despite the escalating goofiness, I enjoyed the ride.

4 -   It should be interesting to see where the series goes with the next book.

5 -   Block initially resisted the title, preferring The Lettish Tomatoes, but I like the title quite a bit.

 6/10
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TROUBLE IN PARADISE
by Robert B. Parker
1998, 304 pages


1 -   Police Chief Jesse Stone has to protect his sleepy town from an elaborate and not very well planned out robbery scheme.

2 -   Jesse Stone remains a very appealing character. He has a distinct set of ethics and despite the self loathing is a good man. That kind of character is fun to read about, which would explain why there are over thirty Stone novels and a series of movies starring Tom Sellick.

3 -   Speaking of whom, Stone compares himself to the actor at one point, which made me wonder which came first, I would assume the movies.

4 -   The character of Crow is a good one. Nasty and mysterious, though you never really get a good feel for why he's so bad.

5 -   I felt this book ended far too abruptly, with everyone kind of just giving up, dying or escaping in a few pages.


6/10
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NOW & THEN
by Robert B. Parker
2007, 322 pages


1 -   This was the first Spenser novel I've read, though I used to watch the show regularly as a kid.

2 -   Spenser is just as cool in the books and Hawk is even cooler.

3 -  Spenser gets caught up in a simple infidelity investigation that turns complex, with spies, murder and government secrets.

4 -   Soon, Spenser has to call in his buddies to protect his lady. They were my personal favorite about the book. Loved them.

5 -   Robert B. Parker died recently and I've just started reading his work. There's a good reason he's so respected. His books are fun to read and have excellent characters.


 8/10
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BLACKMAILER
by George Axelrod
  1952, 202 pages



1 -   Old-School crime from the author of The Seven Year Itch.

2 -   Another extremely fine release from the good folks over at Hard Case Crime, with a gorgeous new Orbik cover and the retro-sweet touches that make me googly eyed.

3 -   Satiric, fun and nasty, a hapless book publisher has to unravel the secret behind a prestigious and previously unknown manuscript from a recently deceased Nobel Prize-winning author. But if it's unknown, why do so many people seem to know about it, and why do they all want him to print it?

4 -   Swishes hollywood starlets, thinly veiled homages to authors and personalities around in a tumbler to create a delightful little drink.

5 -   Did I mention how much I love Hard Case Crime? Look at that cover above, then go here to see the original. Back? Isn't this new cover a peach? I raise my glass to HCC for reprinting these gems and scattering them out for a modern audience. And making them look good.


8/10
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VOID MOON
by Michael Connelly
2000, 450 pages



1 -   A rarity for Connelly, a one-shot featuring a "villain" as the main protagonist.

2 -   Years ago, Cassie Black went to prison for her part in a casino robbery gone horribly wrong. Out on parole, she tries to leave her old life behind. Until she learns something that forces her to take a job back in Vegas, to the same casino where her beloved died all those years before

3 -   Standard Connelly, which is to say a quick read with original characters. I liked it, but I never got the feel of Vegas that I usually get from books like this.

4 -   A couple of silly parts in here too, and the villain was never as stone-cold as they made it sound on the cover. In fact, he seemed a bit bumbling.

5 -   My cover, featuring a white and black casino chip in an eclipse is much cooler than the cover online.


7/10
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PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS -
THE LIGHTNING THIEF
by Rick Riordan
2005, 375 pages



1 -   I wanted to not like this. But I did.

2 -   Percy Jackson is kind of the Middle Grade fiction that gets on my nerves. Modern feeling, with a sarcastic and snarky main character, a gimmick, and a huge following.

3 -   I read this because it's my nephew's favorite book and I promised him I would, if he would read the second one when I finished. He's read this installment six or seven times but hasn't read the second.

4 -   I was surprised at how likeable Percy ended up being, though his female friend is pretty forgettable to me. The idea, while gimmicky, is pretty well executed, too.

5 -   I love Riordan's previous adult novels, modern detective books. Check them out! (It's also possible that this is why I didn't want to like the Percy Jackson books, I like Rick's adult stuff too much to want him to stop writing them.)


 8/10
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DAY BY DAY ARMAGEDDON
by J.L. Bourne
 2009, 224 pages




1 -   Zombie mayhem written in diary form! Originally self published online, the book now has a proper release, a sequel and hollywood nosing around.

2 -   Too bad it's so dire.

3 -   The characters are thinly fleshed out, even the main character, who seems like a generic army boy. Stupid, well versed in gun terminology, conveniently able to fly a plane... Ugh. I'm really afraid that others will read the zombie novel I'm writing and say the same thing about it, but I got so annoyed with the main character here.

4 -   The zombies seemed to change their definitions slightly throughout the story, and not in the good way, more like the author forgot whether they could do something and just winged it.

5 -   All the same, it was a fast read and won't disappoint fans of the genre too much. I liked it enough to finish it on my computer when my version on the nook konked out 3/4 of the way through, I just really disliked the Hoo-Rah dumb jock main character.


6/10
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THE POSTMAN
by David Brin
 1997, 336 pages




1 -   When the world ends, a lone shyster finds a postman's uniform and mailbags and inadvertantly starts a revolution of civilization.

2 -   I dig the concept of this book, and Brin creates a very bleak but realistic world for the postman.

3 -   It starts out great, really strong, with one of my favorite post-apocalyptic worldviews and interesting people living in it.

4 -   Then it throws in genetic supermen, over the top war sequences, silly coincidences and an all too pat ending. Blast!

5 -   No Tom Petty.


7/10
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BLACK CHERRY BLUES
by James Lee Burke
 1990, 384 pages




1 -   I love Dave Robicheaux and the Louisianan world that Burke has created. Dave is a real person with a lot of little ticks and mannerisims that make him such a kick to read about.

2 -   To be honest, I don't actually remember what the story was in this novel... But I recall liking it. Something with a bad guy and fishing and... I can't remember.

3 -   (After checking....) Oh yeah! Robicheaux goes to Montana and stomps around Missoula a bit on the trail of a missing person. Which, by the way, I got the feeling that Burke actually visited Missoula for the novel. He manages to get the feel for the country along with details of the area spot on.

4 -   I always want a Dr. Pepper with fresh lime while I read these books.

5 -   The version of this book I read on my nook calls the town he visits "Poison, MT" I don't know if it was an intentional choice to use a fictional town, or if the computer program that converted this to a digital book misread the very real town of Polson, MT, which happens to exist roughly where he describes Poison in my text here...


9/10
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MONSTER PLANET
by David Wellington
2007, 320 pages



1 -   I liked the first one of these books.

2 -   Then the zombies started talking, gaining telepathic powers and other nonsense.

3 -   Then it got worse.

4 -   This book, the third, got even worse.

5 -   That's right, I'm criticizing a zombie book for being over the top and silly. A line must be drawn somewhere!

1/10


2 comments:

Jonathon Arntson said...

Holy cow, Bookmaster 5000, you read a ton!

Hello? Did you not see the awefulness that was The Postman with Costner?

Kristopher and Crew said...

haha I did see it, Jon, though it's one of those movies that I think I like better than I do, but don't hate as much as I thought I was gonna. If that makes sense.