Friday, July 30, 2010

Private, by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

My expectations are low with James Patterson; usually I find his plots simplistic and dialog corny. But this was reasonably enjoyable vacation reading, so much so that I was pleasantly surprised.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Lion, by Nelson DeMille

I really enjoyed this novel; my flight went by quickly because of it. I was occasionally annoyed by the author's style of putting snarky asides in the mouth of his hero, but overall it is a fine thriller.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My Horizontal Life, by Chelsea Handler

This was a good choice for a backup book on a short flight: it is a fast read, and surprisingly amusing. It made me smile several times, and I even chuckled out loud at one point. Who would have thought?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Last Jew, by Noah Gordon

This historical novel (taking place in Spain during the Inquisition) is one of the best books I've read.

Highly recommended.

The Lonesome Gods, by Louis L'Amour

I wouldn't say I'm a big reader of westerns, so when I saw this at Half Priced Books, I thought it would be worth trying one.

Wow, did I make a fortunate choice -- and wow, this was not what I expected!

This novel held my interest throughout, with solid writing, plot and character development and a reasonable amount of suspense. I'd heard that Mr L'Amour is famous for his western fiction, and with this novel as an example, I'm not surprised.

Even if you are sure that a western is not for you, you might take a shot at this one.

Eyes of a Child, by Richard North Patterson

Think of this book as though it was an airline meal: of course it isn't very good, but if your flight takes 11 hours, you'd might as well eat something.

Really, there's no point in amplifying that thought for this mystery novel.

The Italian Secretary, by Caleb Carr

This Sherlock Holmes detective novel, in the voice of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, had everything going for it in Mr Carr, who's previous book (also set historically) delighted me.

At first, when things went wrong for me, I thought: maybe I should imagine it as a film.

But the writing was like cobblestones: amusing for a few steps, but after walking a few chapters on them, just annoying.

Bottom line: I got to page 120 out of 316 before pulling the plug.

Shattered Bone, by Chris Stewart

My first fear about this 1997 espionage thriller was that its premise - conflict between the US and Russia - would feel dated. I needn't have worried, that was fine. The plot holes felt large enough to fill an airfield, but all-in-all this was a fine paperback for a long flight.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Essence of Buddhism, by Traleg Kyabgon

This is absolutely the best explanation of Buddhism I've come across: it is clear, understandable, and enjoyable to read.

This book is strongly recommended for anyone interested in the topic.

I've been reading it very slowly, building mind-maps of some of the key concepts. Two of these maps are attached here as jpeg files; just click on them to open and zoom to read.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Patios and Walkways (Do It Now Do It Fast Do It Right)

What I liked about this was the use-case oriented approach: instead of presenting abstract techniques, everything was aligned with a specific project.

Having said that, none of the projects resonated with me. And the implicit assumption is that you have an infinite budget.

So not recommended.