Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. When I was a teenager, oh so long ago, one of the authors that made me think I could be an author one day was Vonnegut. Absurdly, it was because when I read B of C back then the simplicity of the writing, I believed, equated to simplicity to write the novel. Dumbass teenager view on that one. I am re-reading some Vonnegut just to see why I liked it, and if it represents writing that is easy to write. I still like it, but not quite as much, probably because I have read Tom Robbins and Christopher Moore, both more entertaining American humorists, for my money. The simplicity of the writing makes it more difficult to write, packing so much into so many words. I am thrown off by the direct communication from the author to the reader, mostly because if I tried that I would make a mess of it, but he did it masterfully. Next time I need a Vonnegut fix I am going to read God Bless you Mr. Rosewater. I remember it being one of my favorites.
A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin. I would not have read these books if not for my nephew buying them for me for Christmas. I have finished the first two books and need to take a break from the story and read some other books I have piled up. I have enjoyed the story and the characters. I have to admit to skimming a bit when the author goes into heavy description mode. I realize a great deal of work on setting is important for books in this genre since the author must put you in the place, but I still tire of heavy doses. Two books and about 1700 pages in and I would like to go right into the next book, so that tells it all really. I just have to take a break. I am loving the multiple point of view third person, with every chapter changing point of view. Highly recommended unless you are put off by any novel over 400 pages.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Even though I have been failing miserably, I am trying to read a couple of old classics every year. Last year I got through one I had been meaning to read for a long time. I suppose I am unusual in that I have never read War and Peace, and Anna is the first Tolstoy book I have read. I enjoyed Anna’s character tremendously. This book is a struggle to get through at times, like all the old Russian authored novels, but worth the work. I hated the ending, but it was a logical ending to Anna’s troubled life.
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. I knew of this book for years because I liked Orson Scott Card's Writer's Digest Book in the Elements of Fiction Writing Series entitles Characters and Viewpoint. Ender's Game is a great read. What an idea in the world of futuristic distopian novels to have little kids engineered to save the world from an alien menace. I almost hate to say much about the story because I don't want to ruin the twists and turns. What a character Ender is.
Damn, I hope I write a character that interesting someday. And wait till you get to Battle School and Command School. I have read Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide, books two and three in a series of about eight or ten of them now. I am not going on with them now, but may circle back and read a few more at a later time. There are so many authors, and so little time.
Caught by Harlan Coban, read by Carrington MacDuffie. The story of every man’s nightmare and journalism gone bad. What if you were wrongly accused of being a sexual predator and killer? Is there any way you could ever make it back from the humiliation and persecution you would endure? Harlan Coban is not an author I had read before, but I will read again. Excellent choice for a road trip, and the performer/reader did a great job.
A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron. Anybody who has owned a dog, and wondered about how your dog could know some of the things it seems to know will have a blast reading this book. This is the Jonathan Livingston Seagull for dog lovers as Bailey, from his perspective, takes you through his lives and deaths in search of the meaning of his life. The ending of this book makes the book even more special than I could have imagined it would be. A must read for dog lovers.
Those in Peril by Wilbur Smith. I listened to this novel during a road trip and it is a perfect book for that purp
ose. This is Special Forces guy gets together with super rich woman and end up in a personal war with pirates from the east coast of Africa. The action is non-stop, which is what I look for in road trip reading. Highly recommended on audio, but maybe a bit too good guys all good and bad guys all bad for me to read. There is some great ass kicking in the novel though, and you can't beat that.
The Afghan by Frederick Forsyth. I loved his novel, The Day of the Jackal. I have even read it twice, something I rarely do, but The Afghan was one incredibly boring read for me. It read like a documentary, mixed in so many story lines it was a bit hard to follow, and never made me care one bit about any of the characters. Forsyth is an excellent writer, but forgot in this book that the story is key, and some effort should be made to made us care about the people things are happening to. Obviously the book was timely, coming out after 09/11, and the book was well researched, as one would expect from Forsyth, but I felt more like I was reading a nonfiction account of CIA events presented in a dry, almost boring, manner.
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Fourteen year old Lilly, the star of this excellent novel, has a serious problem. Her father, T Ray, is abusive and she has to get out. This book is the great ride of how she manages to do so in 1964, important in the book because the Civil Rights Amemdment was signed into law that year, and Lilly's friends are all black ladies, a group even more descriminated against than black men of that embarrassing time in U.S. history. The book is filled with great life leasons, and masterfully weaves the life of honey bees into the story. You will love Rosaleen, and sisters, August, May, and June. This is not the type of book I usually read, but once again learned that stepping outside your normal genre reading is necessary if you want to experience all there is in literature.
Up in Honey's Room by Elmore Leonard. Audio performed by Arliss Howard. Okay, I admit, I have read a very small percentage of Elmore Leonard's extensive library of publications, but I always enjoy him when I turn to one of his novels. This book is set during World War II, and includes lawmen, military men and Nazis. Honey is beautiful and brilliant and Leonard creates a fun character with whit and guts. The audio performance was good and enhanced the book. Being on a long road trip gave me a chance to get through alot of books in a short amount of time. I love audio books from the library.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson. The final installment of the trilogy of Lisbeth Salandar did not disappoint. I loved these books enough to watch the three Swedish movies made from the books, even though I had to endure subtitles. If you enjoy suspense, and don’t mind sex and violence in your reading these three books are must reads.
The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson. My only regret after burning through this book in a few evenings is that book 3, The Girl Who Kicked Hornets Nest, is only in hard cover and the waiting list at the library and the used book store for the book would have me reading it in about 2020. Damn, I might have to buy a hard cover book. Lisbeth Salander has now risen to exhalted status in my reading life. Okay, I admit it, she is my favorite female protagonist ever. I should consider waiting a while before I read book 3 just so it doesn't have to be all over. Stieg Larsson, unfortunately, passed away before the 20+ million copies of his books were sold, and will not be able to provide us with another installment. Unless you are squeamish about violence and sex you need to read these books.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. I loved this book. I bought it when I was in Kirksville, MO visiting family because my uncle recommended it. Lisbeth Salander is one of the most interesting female protagonists ever, and there have been many greats. This novel includes enough sexual content to satisfy those who like titillation with their suspense novel reading. The setting in Sweden takes one like me, who has not ever been to that part of the world, into an unfamiliar and intriguing environment. The serial killer is almost fun, the way it all shakes out, because it seems so obvious who the bad guy had to be, but took the whole novel to get there. I have already started the second book, The Girl Who Played With Fire. The beginning is great. Read these books if you like a fast paced read that you want to stay up to read.
Bitterroot by James Lee Burke. Audio performed by Will Patton. I have read or listened to many or Burke's novels along the way, but this was the first Billy Bob Holland book. Most of my experience with Burke's books have been Dave Robicheaux mysteries. Billy Bob Holland is an attorney from Texas who used to be a Texas Ranger, and is haunted by his past as he gets involved in a mystery in Montana while visiting a friend with his son. I didn't like this book as much as I usually like the Robicheaux books, but it still had Burke's masterful descriptive skills on display along with the creation of some interesting characters. On the negative side, and not a critique of the book, but more a critique of the direction of the audio. For some reason, in trying to portray a Texas accent for Billy Bob's teen son, the narration went to something that sounded much like Forrest Gump, and I don't think Gump speak was what they were going for. All that said, there has not yet been a novel by Burke that I have listened to or read that I have not liked.
Nothing to Lose by Lee Child. Audio performed by Dick Hill. This was the other audio book I completed while on a recent road trip. I grabbed this at the library because I figured it would be good stay-awake fiction. The novel is set in the towns of Hope and Despair, 12 miles apart in the middle of nowhere in Colorado. This is a Jack Reacher Novel. I realize now that Child has written numerous Jack Reacher novels. Reacher is a super-hero type who walks into fights with 6-8 men at a time and beats them all. It all got a bit tiresome for me, but I do like fighting action, and Child does it well. I got a bit annoyed with the overused technique of describing the size of something by saying "bigger that this and smaller than that," which is done many times in the book. Maybe it's just a Reacher thing though, which, if so, it's okay. Finally, wouldn't somebody have just shot Reacher's ass at some point. Come on already. It was never explained why nobody in Despair had a damned gun. Most of this has been critical, but I kept listening to the end and overall enjoyed the book as an audio, but may not have liked it much if I had been reading the novel. This type of novel is perfect for keeping me awake on the road, and Dick Hill is an excellent narrator.
Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver. Audio performed by Ian McKellen. I loved this book, partially because of the story and writing, but also because of the performance by Ian McKellen. Great narration of an audio book can make a fine work so much better. This book is set in the stone age and a 12 year old boy, Torak, has a quest, on which he is joined by a wolf puppy. The story includes clan politics, magic, demons, and does it all at a nice steady pace, not slow like some books setting a person mostly by himself can be. My favorite parts of this piece were when the story is from the wolf pup's point of view. Some great stuff in those sections for canine lovers.
A Son of the Circus by John Irving. Most people my age, if prone to reading fiction, probably read The World According to Garp. It was a terrific read, as I recall, but it has been many years since I read Garp. A Son of the Circus is set in India, which is odd since Irving admits he has only spent a short amount of time in India, but the lack of personal knowledge of India did not hold Irving back from creating fascinating characters, his great gift. The book has been a slow read for me, but not because I don't want to get to what will happen next, but because I don't want to miss any of Irving's mastery of the craft.
The Long Fall by Walter Mosley. This is Walter Mosley's first Leonid McGill Mystery. He has published more than thirty books and I can always count on him for a tight enjoyable read. I will finish this novel tonight, so will reserve judgment until I'm done. It has been enjoyable so far, but not as enjoyable as some earlier Mosley novels. Many of the dozen or so Easy Rawlins Mysteries Mosley has writen seem a bit faster paced. I would also highly recommend Mosley's novel Fortunate Son. I have finished The Long Fall and if you like the Easy Rawlings' books you will like this, but I would start with Easy Rawlings if you have never read Mosley before.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I always have more than one book going, but once I started this YA novel all else has been set aside. I will go directly from this novel to the sequel, Catching Fire. If you like dark novels writen for young adults, but with social messages we all need to think about, read these books. Great entertainment. I have gotten through The Hunger Games, and its sequel, Catching Fire. There is a third book, Mockingjay, that I have not yet read. I liked book one alot. Fast action and interesting plot with parallels to our world of the 21st century. Book two, Catching Fire, was not as enjoyable, and I can't quite pinpoint why, but that may just have been that the novelty of the story wore off. I will report again after I finish book three.
I have read Mockingjay, book three, and I wasn't crazy about it. I think
I just got worn out on Katniss' being so miserable all the time. I know that YA
books tend to have plenty of misery, but it got to be a bit much for me. Even
as I write that I think back on my favorite trilogy ever, The Lord of the Rings,
and remember Frodo being miserable much of the time, but there was a bit of
humor mixed in that is not there in these 3 Suzanne Collins books. I think
anybody who reads the first book will read the whole trilogy, but would bet most
won't like books two or three as well as they liked book one.
Get Known before the Book Deal by Christina Katz. I'm about halfway through this terrific guide to growing an author platform, or really it would apply to growing a platform in other fields as well. I should have read this book a couple years ago so I would have been working at building a platform as soon as I decided I was going to dedicate the rest of my working life to being an author. It's very hard in todays publishing world to get notice unless you work hard to create your own platform, and as Ms. Katz so accurately points out, it is all up to you to create your platform.