Sunday, March 23, 2008

Fresh Kills, by Reggie Nadelson

This was a very dark book.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Wheel of Darkness, by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

This is like an old pulp mystery set in the Orient, but modernized. It doesn't, though, talk down to its readers. Not with a vocabulary in which a main character describes herself as a pedant and obscurantist, or which uses words like punctilious without seeming ostentatious.

Heartsick, by Chelsea Cain

This was an unusually difficult novel to read. It felt voyeuristic, as though I was peeking into the pain of the hero; it made me uncomfortable. But not so much so that I didn't finish the book.

Caesar: Life of a Colossus, by Adrian Goldsworthy

When I bought this book, it seemed really interesting. Only after I began reading it did I realize that 519 pages on Julius Caesar is probably about 419 pages more than I ever needed to know about him.

Still, I stuck with it because the writing is good and was able to (just barely) keep my interest. I'd been reading it off and on for quite a while.

(If you've followed this blog, you may have realized while my reading taste is sometimes rather eclectic, I generally avoid history. So why did I pick this book in the first place? Who knows!)

As further evidence that I'm a philistine (as if you need proof that I am an uncultured boor), here's what made the biggest impression on my from this book: the phrase metrosexual is said to derive from Mark Simpson's writing in 1994. Consider instead that in 88 BCE the Roman dictator Sulla was associated with "the actor Metrobius, who specialized in playing female roles on stage..." Metrobius as the original metrosexual? Hmmmm.

So, do I recommend this book? If you're the sort who likes to read about history and historic figures, then absolutely. If you prefer light-hearted murder mysteries, and believe anything more complex than a Robert B. Parker plot is overly convoluted, then avoid this one like the plague.

Friday, March 21, 2008

2nd Chance, by James Patterson

Well, once you're into a series, might as well keep going.

1st to Die, by James Patterson

Solid plot in a murder mystery that introduces the "women's murder club" (a recent TV series). Fast read too.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Quiet Girl, by Peter Hoeg

About one-quarter through this book I wondered, would it make more sense in the original Danish? Yet I kept reading, pulled into the story, odd as it was. I'm glad I did so.

Watchman, by Ian Rankin

A well-written, quirky, somewhat dated, British spy novel. Enjoyable.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Blasphemy, by Douglas Preston

This was a fun read. The idea is that a team builds a particle accelerator on Native American land (with their permission). They seek to smash atoms at high speed, nearly the speed of light.

As they do so, they seem to be communicating with God.

Are they really? Is it a plot for a latter-day L. Ron Hubbard to start yet another religion?

Preston bashes the heck out of fundamentalists. BTW, there was one major error of fact (sort of): towards the end, Preston notes it is the first time that God has spoken to mankind. Old Testament readers would disagree.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

When you ride alone you still ride with bin laden, by Bill Maher

I agree with 99% of what Maher writes. As a consequence, I found this book rather depressing. But accurate.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Age Well, by Robert Palmer

Ahh. Back to my theme of easy to read, somewhat mindless books (the non-fiction set).

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Theory of Everything, by Stephen W. Hawking

How did a real book sneak into my vacation reading pile? Hmmm. Clearly an accident.

This was challenging and interesting.

If you've followed the other books in my vacation reading (i.e., meaningless drivel), you'll appreciate just how challenging this book was to read.

60 Second Organizer, by Jeff Davidson

You'd have to be a very disorganized and messy person to benefit from this book. I'm not. So why'd I read it? I'm obsessive enough to want to make sure that I am as organized as possible. Besides, it was beach reading.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Exam Scams, by John Croucher

On vacation, and a bunch of vacation reading is about to be listed. Much of which is simply throw-away reading - something to read on the beach and then leave on the sand.

There are some amusing stories of university cheating scandals here, but you'd need to be (a) desparate, (b) tanked up on tequila to spend your time with this one.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Spellman Files, by Lisa Lutz

This is a fabulously fun book! I smiled on nearly every page, and laughed out loud several times.

Yes it is lighthearted, nearly juvenile, very silly, and mostly pointless. But so much fun!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Presentation Zen, by Garr Reynolds

I often deliver presentations backed by powerpoint slides. These typically take two forms: slides built by others with whom I work, which I modify a bit, to move them a bit closer to my personal aesthetic. Or those I build myself, for my own presentations, without worry about their reuse by my office colleagues.

The first group invariably fit into Garr Reynolds' "don't do this" category and I am not sanguine this will change. As for the second group, his book will help me build more enjoyable presentations. Both for my audiences and for me.