Sunday, August 26, 2012

Oath of Office, by Michael Palmer

The good news:  good character development and strong writing that held my interest right to the end. 

The bad news:  the plot has credibility and reasonableness gaps the size of the Grand Canyon.

Still, all in all, an entertaining novel.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Assassin's Code, by Jonathan Maberry

When I picked this book up at the library I thought it was a spy thriller.   I didn't realize it was the fourth in a series featuring hero Joe Ledger.   In the first few pages, it seemed as though this would be a pretty typical book of the genre:  a smart mouthed hero, commands multiple languages, the introduction of what was sure to be a beautiful women into his life.   Wow, was I wrong.

Before I was done, there were genetically modified vampires, the devil (maybe), a conspiracy over a thousand years old between the Catholic Church and Islamic leaders.   Need I say more?

I'm not sure what I think of this book.  On the one hand it was a fast and amusing read.  On the other hand, the typical spy novel doesn't include vampires.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Colonel's Mistake, by Dan Mayland

I don't read most of the books that Amazon's algorithms suggest for me, usually because I check out the reviews and find comments that turn me off on the novel.   But today I went with the recommendation, and very pleased by it.

Mr. Mayland wrote a fast paced, exciting thriller.   It is worth pointing out that unlike so many authors who strain credibility with the absurd feats of their heroes, Mr. Mayland stuck to a plot that, for the most part, seemed reasonable.

This is a great airplane read:  the time will pass quickly while you're engaged in the novel.

Night of the Jaguar, by Michael Gruber

Just having read Mr. Gruber's "Valley of Bones," I figured I'd keep up the theme and read the next novel in this series featuring reluctant weirdness detective Paz.    It was as entertaining as every other book of Mr. Gruber's, which is to say, it was difficult to put the book down.

Another highly recommended read.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Valley of Bones, by Michael Gruber

I have become a huge fan of Mr. Gruber's work!    If I had not previously read "Tropic of Night," which featured the same hero in Jimmy Paz, I'd have given this one five stars out of five.   Because that earlier novel was just so extremely good, I'll mark this one down to four and three quarter stars.   Still, as you can see, quite impressive!

(Mr. Gruber has a very different group of characters and setting here than in his excellent novel, "The Good Son.")

Our hero once again gets involved with mysterious spiritualism en route to solving a murder.  In this case, around a nun's order of the Catholic church, mostly.

Absolutely worth reading.

Building Chicken Coops For Dummies, by Todd Brock et al

I've been trying to decide on a design for a chicken coop for our garden for quite some time.   This book has been really helpful.   Other books addressed the needs of the chickens, but this one addresses the pragmatics of building.

BTW, my plan now is pretty far afield from anything in this book, but getting to it was helped immeasurably by reading this.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Good Son: A Novel, by Michael Gruber

To come across a book like this, especially after reading mediocre genre fiction, is a delight.   This is literature.

From the first few sentences Mr. Gruber's writing sucked me in.   The plot is complex and subtle.   The characters very interesting and extremely well drawn.

The book's description on Amazon is accurate but is a small aspect of this novel;  the book is far wider than it seems.  So what is it about?   A complex intelligent woman who lives in both the western and eastern, Muslim worlds.   Her family.   A soldier.   An exposition of the culture of the east.   Thoughts about what Americans worship most compared to what, say, Pashtunwali.    It is about Jung, about Sufis, about spirituality.

Throughout though it is an interesting narrative that compels the reader forward.    I read a review calling it an espionage thriller.  I guess it is that, but again it is also so much more than that.  This is one of the best books I've read this year; you should read it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Pocket-47, by Jude Hardin

This novel feels as though it has two distinct parts, two related stories.   The first one introduces a cliche -ridden private detective.   The second continues the story at a more violent and action oriented pace, which was welcome up to the point of the graphic violence.

Much to my surprise, the preponderance of Amazon reviews are positive; this makes no sense to me at all.   There's an extremely accurate (negative) review though, with which I completely agree.

Lucky Man: A Memoir, by Michael J. Fox

I don't much enjoy biographies, and certainly not celebrity biographies.    I read Mr. Fox's book in spite of his celebrity, because of his work raising awareness of and money to combat Parkinson's disease.

The memoir is good:  readable, interesting, it moves along.   Mostly it points out that disease is equal opportunity, and that sometimes the best thing for average folks suffering from an ailment is for a public figure to publicly share the problem.

Mr. Fox lobbied the former Bush administration to allow the use of stem cells in research.   This wasn't to ask for additional fetuses to be harmed, but rather to use the cells of fetuses that otherwise would simply be discarded.    He got some lukewarm success.    Not until Mr. Obama took office did things turn a bit in terms of government restriction on research.   You can count the eight years of Mr. Bush's presidency as having delayed the possibility of cure or advanced treatment of Parkinson's for over a million Americans, some of whom won't now live to see the result.

Mr. Fox spends very little time on this topic; he doesn't portray a political point of view, just a pragmatic approach towards wanting to see progress against the disease.   And very little of that too, just at the end of his memoir, the bulk of it tilted towards his childhood, family and his alcoholism.

This is a short, fast, interesting read.    As was his earlier book , which I enjoyed even more.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Innocent, by David Baldacci

This is one of those books that convinces me to stay up to late so that I could finish it even though it was rather late at night.   Things move along so well that I didn't have a chance to complain about the absurdity of the plot or some of the situations.   Those details didn't even matter.

As a suspense novel that keeps you going to the end, Mr. Baldacci wrote a winner.