Friday, April 24, 2015

I Bet the Russians Love Their Children Too

Whoops! Almost forgot!

#31 – The Charm School – Nelson DeMille
Recommended by: EW

This was a really fun book if you enjoy spy thrillers set during the Cold War.  This book was written in the 80s, when the Russians were clearly the bad guys and the Americans were clearly the good guys. Women served as bait and love interests, depending on scene, the men were super macho, and the body count was high and gory. I’m a big fan of the TV show The Americans and this book is a great complement to that series. In fact, I’m pretty sure this book was required reading for anyone working on that show. It was a solid read. A CIA agent and an American diplomat get caught up in a plot that could topple tentative peace talks between two governments. The tension practically oozed off the page. If you are a big fan of Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, W.E.B. Griffin, etc., then this is the book for you.  

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Dog Ate My Homework

I have been suffering through a book for about a week now. I realize that many of you take far longer to read. A friend has been reading my copy of Gone Girl for about a year now and it might be another one before I get it back. As long as she enjoys it, I don’t care how long it takes. Someone else confessed that they have been working on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for almost two years. She asked if she should read the rest of the trilogy when she is finished. I said no only because few books are worth a level of commitment that will equal a decade of reading. In fact, the only one that comes to mine is the Harry Potter series. Sure, fanboys will argue about the Song of Fire and Ice series by George R.R. Martin, but I think the books are plodding and not much happens – for hundreds of pages. I’m not saying the TV show is better, but I am saying that a lot is required of the reader when it comes to finding out who will eventually sit on the Iron Throne. In my case, I tend to race through books. A “quick” read for me can be devoured in a day. A long, thick book with onion skin pages that number in the hundreds – top is two weeks. Last week, I read four books in seven days.

Which brings me back to my current situation – I don’t like my current book pick. In fact, I sort of hate it. I am struggling to get through pages and find myself skimming whole chapters. That is a terrible thing to do to a book and its author. I firmly believe that you either read a book from cover to cover, or you put it down. However, being that this book is on the official List, I don’t have that option. Instead, I think I’ll put it down for now. I will try again in a month or two. Maybe the book and I are not compatible at this moment in time. Who knows? But the bottom line is that I didn’t read a book this week because I couldn’t read this one. Let’s see what next week brings. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Back in the Middle with You

My week of trash reading is almost over. Want to know how I did?

Blood Infernal – James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrell
This is one of those old fashioned smart people save the world from supernatural events sort of books. I was raised on these things. I remember reading Clive Cussler over my dad’s shoulder when I was a kid. My dad is severely dyslexic, so we read at about the same pace. James Rollins is basically the Cussler of our generation (Yes, I know Cussler is still “writing” but since all his books share a byline now, I’m pretty sure he isn’t doing any of the heaving lifting.) This series of three books about the war between good and evil is better than average. Basically, if you enjoyed any of Dan Brown’s books, these are perfect for you.

Raging Heat – Richard Castle
I started watching Castle due to my love of Nathan Fillion and I stopped watching Castle for the same reason. The books, however, are damned entertaining. I really appreciate the Mobius strip of the writing. A real author is writing a fictionalized version of a fictional character writing about his real life. Hee! On top of that, he has to do it in the voice and image of the actor portraying the character. Double hee! And, in a nod to the audience’s knowledge that this is all a fun house of cards, the author loves to throw references to Fillion’s previous acting roles and other insider jokes. Plus, the actual author of the books is one of the current big mysteries of the publishing world. It’s all jolly good fun and well worth a read.

The Last American Vampire – Seth Grahame-Smith
Grahame-Smith is what Christopher Moore could be if he was a better writer. Both authors do essentially the same thing – they take previously established works and bastardize them. In Moore’s case, he desecrates Shakespeare. In Grahame-Smith’s case, he tales the classics and turns them into horror stories. This one started strong but petered out in the end due to a crappy villain and poor plotting. Essentially, if you ever want to read about a patriotic vampire Forrest Gumping his way through American history, this is the book for you.

The Sixth Extinction – James Rollins
The library didn’t have the newest Tana French book, so I made do with this one. I haven’t finished it yet, but I can tell you how it ends. The heroes from a secret Alphabet agency save the world from an Apocalyptic event that is being funded by another, different (but still secret) group of zealots intend on making the world a better place by killing everyone in it. The big battle will take place at a previously undiscovered wonder of the world that the heroes will most certainly destroy and all the good guys will live while all the bad guys die. The end. 

Next up, a Pulitzer-Prize winner and a return to the second half of the List. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

On A Break

My brother-in-law broke my brain. I call uncle.

Years ago, we entered into a movie war. I assigned five, he assigned five. I don’t think either of us made it past two. His choices were the worst: Super Troopers and Mars Attacks. Watching these movies was akin to watching paint dry while my skull turned into a desiccated husk from the fumes. I, on the other hand, assigned Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Heavenly Creatures. 

Clearly, only one of us has taste. And it isn’t him.

After reading five, FIVE, of his book choices, I think it is pretty clear that he is not capable of making rational decisions when it comes to literature either. I love him, don’t get me wrong, but if he says he likes something, I pretty much run squarely in the other direction. Sure, he has some vintage movie posters that are quite good, and yes, he managed to pick some lovely names for children, but on the whole, he is not to be trusted.

So, that being said – I’m on a break.

The roughly second half of the List is filled with super thick, prize-winning, non-fiction, fiction, Russians, and Cormac Bloody McCarthy. It will not kill me, but it is going to try. I am going to spend my spring break doing some light reading from the local library. Yes, my friends, I will not even be reading purchased books, but borrowed ones! True crime, religious mystery, Alphabet agency fiction, and something with vampires! Then, when the kids go back to school, I will get back to the List, starting with a Pulitzer Prize winner chosen by my favorite guy to make fun of on Facebook. Here are the last two choices before my hiatus.

#28 – The Walking Dead
Recommended by PGR
I don’t get the whole zombie craze. If the entire world is about to be taken over by zombies, I don’t want to survive. Who the hell would want to live in a world absolutely filled with fear? Not I. I don’t want to eek out a survival, constantly worrying about the state of my sanity and my soul. Thus, a comic book about zombies was pretty low on my reading list. Thanks to damn Youngest, I have now read the first compendium and I will not be going back for more. Ugh. Just ugh.

#29 – Dragons of Autumn Twilight – Weis & Hickman
Recommended by PGR

Meh. It is a perfectly adequate book. There are no real stakes because the characters stubbornly refuse to die. It borrows so heavily from Tolkien that I feel like he should have gotten a writing credit. It is actually based on Dungeons and Dragons and I never could quite get the hang of role playing games. Too much work, not enough reward. There are more in the series and I’m pretty sure my husband owns them all, but I will not be reading on down the line. In fact, I should actually penalize Youngest and made him read a book of my choosing because books that are part of a series were forbidden. Now that would be entertaining.