Tuesday, May 15, 2018

read: The Color of Magic (3 stars)

The Color of Magic (Discworld, #1)The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Discworld, The Beginning. I give it 3 stars for uniqueness of vision and giving me a few smirks. Mostly I found it jumbled and confusing.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

read: House Justice (3 stars)

House Justice (Joe DeMarco, #5)House Justice by Mike Lawson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A spy is dead because a newspaper story leaked her identity. The leak probably came from someone in Congress. Speaker of the House, John Mahoney, needs the leaked plugged and calls in his go-to-guy, Joe DeMarco. And we're off to the races. Except, we're not.

This is the second book I've read in the DeMarco series and it does the same slow burn that I found in the first one, The Inside Ring. It's more suspense than thriller. This time around we spend more time with the other characters in this intricate plot than with DeMarco. That's mostly okay because these other characters are the ones that are making things happen. Joe is just fumbling along, trying to make sense of it. It's a little amazing that he's able to keep up at all with the few resources he has at his disposal.

Eventually, the story picks up steam and we start getting answers. But we also start racking up dead bodies. And then we're finished with a reasonably satisfying ending. It's not a bad read. It touches on some interesting points about politics and morality and spies. I just think it could have been tighter and stronger.

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Friday, April 6, 2018

read: Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches (4 stars)

Vacationland: True Stories from Painful BeachesVacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches by John Hodgman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's obviously not about vacations, though the author does 'summer' in New Hampshire and Maine and Maine's official motto is 'Vacationland'. Rather, these are the author's amusing anecdotes and deep thinking about those summers, along with childhood, growing up, adulting and death. I don't recall any LOL moments, but most stories are amusing and John Hodgman does a bang-up job on the audiobook as his own narrator, rendering them with a goodly amount of humor and pathos, as necessary.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

read: Grumpy Old Rock Star: and Other Wondrous Stories by Rick Wakeman (4 stars)

Grumpy Old Rock Star: and Other Wondrous StoriesGrumpy Old Rock Star: and Other Wondrous Stories by Rick Wakeman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love getting autobiographies and memoirs read to me by their author-subjects. Rick does not disappoint. His enthusiasm is evident and his stories are often hilarious. If you're interested in Rick or Yes or progrock from the 70s, this book is for you. One unintended bit of humor for me is that Rick's speaking voice sounds an awful lot like Peter Jones, another Brit and narrator of the television version of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". I started having HHGttG flashbacks.

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

read: True Blue Murder (2 stars)

True Blue Murder (African Violet Club Mysteries #1)True Blue Murder by Elise M. Stone
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wanted to like this goofy little cozy mystery set in a senior citizens' residence in a small town near Tuscon, Arizona. My beloved Arizona settings came across as true to life. The descriptions and interactions of the wide variety of distinct characters seemed spot on. But the overall story was disappointing and fell flat.

The best word I can find to describe most of the prose is pedestrian. The action and relationships came across as stiff and clumsy. Then there's the uncompelling mystery, with an unlikable victim and a complete lack of suspects capable or inclined to have done it. This forced the author to end the story with a completely invented perpetrator and what amounts to a fanciful motive. The 'clues' that were supposed to support these inventions were unconvincing.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

read: Gun Church (2 of 5 stars)

Gun ChurchGun Church by Reed Farrel Coleman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I can only give this 2 stars because, even though I could tell the writing was extraordinary, I cannot say I would recommend it to anyone who wasn't predisposed to enjoying this sort of thing. I did not find it entertaining.

I didn't particularly enjoy the first-person narrator. He was just too meandering and self-centered. This might be the point, since he's this self-destructive, washed-up writer. He's still not someone I wanted to spend 500 pages of my life with. Maybe I'm dense. I didn't get the literary references that were no doubt sprinkled through out. It even felt a little 'overwritten' to me. Also, repetitive. Five chapters in and he's still calling someone "St. Pauli Girl" (not to her face, thankfully) even though he knows her name and is constantly sleeping with her. I got it after the first two or three times. But I don't get why she keeps throwing herself at him. Maybe it's part of the gun church plot. Maybe it's author-worship. It's just inexplicable at this point.

The gun church of the title makes an early appearance and then disappears. If it had reappeared earlier, along with some more interesting characters and some actual plot, I might have hung on and finished the book. It was intriguing. Moving on to something I do enjoy.

Notice that this is all just my reaction. There are plenty of 4 and 5 star reviews. This might be the sort of thing you'd like, if you like this sort of thing.

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

read: The Escape Artist (5 stars)

The Escape ArtistThe Escape Artist by Brad Meltzer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of those books that keeps you guessing right up until the end, when you tell yourself "I should have seen that coming." But you won't.

Brad Meltzer loads up the story with distinct and interesting characters and keeps up a magician's patter of interesting facts to distract you as he spins a complex tale. It's a mystery wrapped in a thriller wrapped in tragedy. And it works.

Disclosure: Thank you to Netgalley and Grand Central Publishing for providing a free copy of this book in return for my honest review.

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