Archive for the 'Espionage / Thriller / Suspense' Category

May 1st 2011

April’s Reads

More House marathons and I also added a Castle marathon this month, but also remembering to read more at lunchtime.

Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter: This is Slaughter’s first book in the Grant County series.  I’d already read the last book in the series (Beyond Reach), but since I read it so long ago, I barely remembered any of the characters.  (But I have NOT forgotten what bad, bad thing Slaughter did in the final book).  This is another one of those books I picked up at the library because it was similar to something else I’d read.  I’d actually completely forgotten that I’d already read a book by Slaughter until I was about half-way through the book and some of the people were seeming somewhat familiar.  It’s definitely worth the read.  As in the last book, the crimes are twisty, the good guys are good, the bad guys are bad… but unlike the final book, there are a number of characters who are neutral, and who could go either way.  Now I feel like I need to read the four other books in this series to find out whether some of these neutral people turn out to be bad guys or good guys.

Space (Creative Painting Series) by Gemma Guasch and Josep Asunción: I really thought I was going to love this book.  I requested it from the library because I thought it might help me paint better paintings.  But what I figured out is that this is a great book if you’re planning out your paintings before you painting.  Or, heck, if you’re planning out your paintings as your painting them.  But I don’t plan anything when I paint.  It’s all kind of go-with-the-flow and very emotional.  So, this book (even though it had a small, very interesting section on abstract paintings) wasn’t as helpful to me as I’d hope.  My disappointment in the book, however, shouldn’t dissuade anyone from reading it.  There is a lot of very, very good technical information packed in there.

The Outlaw Demon Wails by Kim Harrison: This is Harrison’s sixth book in The Hollows series, in which Rachel is once again fighting bad guys with her partners Jenks and Ivy.  Of course, there are the usual cast of demons, as well.  In this book, a Rachel also has a family reunion and learns some rather interesting family secrets.  If you’ve been following this series (and I’m sure I mentioned that you should), this book reveals more clues about Rachel’s affinity for demon magic.

White Witch, Black Curse by Kim Harrison:  The seventh book in The Hollows series brings in a new type of character… a banshee.  Oooh, and banshees are not nice at all.  Also, we finally find out who killed Kisten back in book five, and there are some new and interesting people to populate Rachel’s world.

Queen’s Own FBI Trilogy by Mark Phillips: A zany pulp fiction series about telepaths, teleporters, and spies, and the FBI agent caught up in the middle of it all.  The three stories were each a heck of a lot of fun, and appear to be available only on the Kindle (or for Kindle apps on the myriad devices that support them).  Definitely worth the read… highly amusing!

A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes by Stephen W. Hawking:  Thought I’d read a serious book for a change, and was absolutely thrilled to have finally read Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.  He explains complex ideas in the field of theoretical physics in a way that anyone can understand.  I didn’t have to try to refresh my memory of calculus or even the high school physics class I took forever ago.  This book is education, entertaining and exceptionally well-written.  Everyone should read this one!

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February 1st 2011

January’s Reads

Back to work in the new year, and that means most of my reading time is at the office while eating lunch… and on the weekends when I don’t schedule every minute away on other things.  Also, I spent more time than I normally do in front of the TV… I blame Star Trek: The Next Generation, of course.

Raven’s Shadow by Patricia Briggs: The first in a new (to me) fantasy series.  Without Briggs’ skill with creating characters, it could have turned into a fairly ordinary sword and sorcery story, but she manages to create interesting characters who aren’t really like anyone else you’ve ever met.  I’m looking forward to the next book!

Total Eclipse by Rachel Caine: This is the ninth book in the Weather Warden series, and probably the first one with a fairly calm ending.  If Caine wanted to end the series here, it would make a very satisfying conclusion.  However, if she wanted to keep going, that would be a-ok with me!  I do enjoy the adventures of the Wardens and Djinn, especially when they’re working together.

Creative Composition & Design by Pat Dews:  I watched one of Dews’ videos on creating underpaintings (or “starts”), and was completely fascinated by the process.  This book appears to be out of print, but I’m happy that the local library system has a copy for me to borrow.  It’s an interesting book, and I’ve tried out some of her techniques.  If I could find a copy at a reasonable price, I’d probably buy it just to refer back to it on a regular basis.

Kiss of Death by Rachel Caine: Here we have the eighth book in the Morganville Vampire series, wherein our heroes do something new and different… they take a trip to Dallas!  Of course the actual Dallas part of the trip is really just the epilogue of the book.  On the way to Dallas, they get to fight (and — gasp! — save) a bunch of crazy, infected vamps in another town.  Here’s the craziest part of the book… I think I’m actually starting to like Oliver.

Encaustic Workshop by Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch:  Holy moly!  I had this book in my Amazon wishlist and got it for Christmas.  I love, love, LOVE this book!  There are dozens of great ideas to add variety to my artwork… not just the encaustics, but mixed media stuff, too.  Woohoo!  Gotta go run to the studio!

The Likeness by Tana French: In this somewhat-sequel to In the Woods, Cassie goes undercover to find a murderer.  But it really isn’t as simple as all that.  French writes incredibly detailed books, and the plot lines are woven together so artfully and tightly that you can’t help but applaud.  The story is fantastic… the writing is some of the best I’ve come across in years.  Also… she makes me want to visit Ireland SO badly.  It’s not often that I’m this impressed with a book (or author) outside the science fiction / fantasy genre.  In other words… go read this book!

The Vegan Scoop by Wheeler Del Torro:  There are times (granted, not often) when I crave a bowl (or half gallon) of really good ice cream.  But since I’m vegan, that’s not easy to find.  Del Torro has been good enough to share some of his experiences and recipes for making gourmet vegan ice cream.  There are a handful that I want right now.  I guess it’s time to replace that old ice cream maker that broke about 15 years ago, huh?  Even if you’re not vegan, these healthier versions of ice cream will get your mouth watering!  If I ate more ice cream than once or twice a year, I’d pick up a copy of this book to have on hand.  As it is, I’ll jot down a few of the ones I know I’d actually make and take the book back to the library.

Vegan Lunch Box by Jennifer McCann:  This book contains dozens of recipes that are geared to finicky eaters (i.e., kids) and pack easily in a lunch box for meals on the go.  Don’t let that fool you (as it almost did me)… there are also great breakfast and dinner recipes in here, too.  Though I picked up this book at the library, there are enough recipes in here that are relatively hassle-free that I may pick up a copy for my kitchen.

Vegan Recipes for All Occasions by Tony Weston and Yvonne Bishop: This book was more disappointing than the previous two.  I found only one recipe that I’d probably make more than once… a recipe for baba ganoush (mmmm, I love me some baba ganoush!).  While several of the food items looked really delicious, the recipes were far more complicated than I have patience for.  (I don’t enjoy cooking, so if something takes more than 30 minutes, or makes more than two bowls or pans dirty, it’s too much trouble for me.)  People who actually enjoy cooking would probably be more interested in this book than I was.

TrueBlood and Philosophy by George A. Dunn and Rebecca Housel (editors):  The individual authors in the collection take up the task of explaining various philosophical (classical, ethical, feminist, existential), psychological, sociological and psychological theories in terms of The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlene Harris and the HBO series True Blood.  The book is both entertaining and thought-provoking.  If you’re interested in thinking about the human condition, you’ll enjoy how these authors have tossed vampires, faeries, werewolves and shapeshifters into the mix.

Storm Cycle by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen: This was a fast-paced action-adventure novel, with a bit of Egyptian history tossed in to make it really interesting.  Oh, and there’s some medical mysteries, betrayals and saving-the-world stuff, too.  It’s hard to say much about it without giving away key points.  I certainly enjoyed it!

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November 1st 2010

October’s Reads

October brought two out-of-town trips… a chorus retreat over a long weekend where fewer than usual books were read, and a week-long work-related training excursion where there was little to do besides read when I wasn’t in class.  But I seem to have been obsessed with doing crossword puzzles this month, so I didn’t wind up reading as many books as I otherwise might have.

Big Jack by J. D. Robb:  Another of the early ones that I missed… this one was right after Peabody made detective.  The bantering between Dallas and Peabody is completely mag, as Peabody or McNabb might say.  And I think this catches me up… I’ve now read all of the Eve Dallas books that have been published.

The Angel by Carla Neggers:  In search of some new authors on PaperbackSwap, I ran across Carla Neggers and requested this book.  It’s well-written and has lots of Irish and Ireland connections.  I liked it enough to request the other books in the series.

Compelling Evidence by Steve Martini: The first in the Paul Madriani series.  It’s not as well put together as some of the later ones, but certainly a good first effort!

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood:  Her latest dystopian novel is easily as good as her previous ones.  There is some overlap of characters between this book and Oryx and Crake, but it’s not necessary to have read the earlier book to enjoy this one.  I am a fan of Atwood, so this one is highly recommended!

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde:  His best so far!  Fforde has created a world where no one can see the full spectrum of color, and some people don’t see color at all.  The social constructs of such a world are fascinating to see laid out before us.  Add to it all a bit of a mystery, young lady who doesn’t exactly follow the rules and a young man who asks too many questions, and you have another book I’ll highly recommend!

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer:  A YA novel whose premise intrigued me.  It’s very well written, and I can see the pre-teen crowd thoroughly enjoying it.

The Widow by Carla Neggers:  This book precedes The Angel and gives the whole story of Detective Abigail Browning.  It’s a good mystery, despite the mushy romantic stuff.  ;)  I’d recommend reading them in the proper order.

Carpe Corpus by Rachel Caine:  This is the sixth book in the Morganville Vampires series, and I must say that each one gets better than the previous.  Unlike vampires that sparkle, Rachel Caine’s vampires are downright vicious.  While that doesn’t bode well for the residents of Morganville, Texas, as least it’s doing a good job of washing the bad taste I still have in my mind from those Twilight books that I read last year.

Holly and Homicide by Leslie Caine:  The seventh book in the Domestic Bliss mystery series is just as fun and silly as the previous six books.  People die, crazy stuff happens and the mystery is finally solved.  This sort of thing seems to follow Erin Gilbert around like a plague for the past seven books; no doubt the “curse” will continue.  It’s a fun and quick read, and I recommend the series.

Jesus, Interrupted by Bart D. Ehrman: The subtitle of the book is Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know About Them).  Many of the contradictions were not news to me.  The most fascinating part of the book was Ehrman’s discussion of the early days of Christianity, trying to answer the question of how Christianity developed in the first four centuries after Jesus’ death.  As a comparative religion student, I found that discussion even more interesting than the list of contradiction.  This book is highly recommended for anyone interested in looking at the Bible in an historical context.

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October 1st 2010

Wrapping up September

Here’s what I finished reading in the last two weeks of the month.  As always, I’ve got several piled around that I’m half or a third or nine-tenths finished reading.

Born in Death by J. D. Robb: one of the earlier ones I’d missed.  Eve Dallas always catches the bad guys, while exchanging amusing banter with her team and having steamy sex with her husband, who is filthy rich.

Salvation in Death by J. D. Robb: I swear I read this one before, I just can’t find it in any of my lists.  Bad guys kill a bunch of people, one of them winds up dead and Dallas sends the other off-planet for the rest of whatever.  Snark, humor, sex and good police work build another good story!

Mastering Composition by Ian Roberts:  creating art by just getting my emotions out on the page has worked fairly well for me for years.  But lately I’ve been thinking I might create different art if I paid attention to all the rules one learns in art school.  This is not the book to learn from, though.  It really made me feel stupid.  In all of the “notice how this part of the painting grabs your attention” I got really pissed off because that wasn’t the part of the painting that grabbed my interest.  Maybe this book is meant for someone who paints representational art rather than non-representational art.  I’m glad I borrowed this one from the library rather than buying, because I’m one dissatisfied customer here.

Simply Vegan by Debra Wasserman

Vegan Express by Nava Atlas: I found a total of four recipes from these two cookbooks that I thought I might try.  I probably won’t try them any time soon, as all the recipes involve using either the stove or the oven, and I’m really not in the mood to cook.  Maybe next month.

When Darkness Falls by James Grippano: There are now (apparently) eight Jack Swytek novels by Grippano.  I’ve read four of them… completely out of order.  That sort of thing usually makes me crazy, but Grippano writes his stories tightly and while there are certainly references to previous books, you don’t need to know what went on back then to enjoy the current novel.  And the Jack Swytek series is definitely enjoyable!

Eat, Drink & Be Vegan by Dreena Burton:  Honestly, I don’t know why I keep reading cookbooks.  Yes, the pictures of completed dishes look great… but I hate to cook.  I did find another recipe for Green Split Pea Soup that looks pretty good.  I collect recipes for split pea soup.  I just love it.

Eye of the Beholder by David Ellis: Oh, boy… this one is confusing because it bounces back and forth between 1989 and 2005.  And it’s pretty twisty.  I didn’t see that ending coming.  Well, a couple of things… but not the most important one.  Definitely read this one!

Cop Without a Badge by Charles Kipps:  A true-life story of a confidential informant.  It’s not something I would have found to read if The Offspring had not requested that I pick it up for her at the library.  It was worth the read.

The Simple Secret to Better Painting by Greg Albert: Ah, now this one was much more helpful.  The simple secret isn’t all that profound (don’t make any two intervals the same), but the explanation of the “secret” utilizing all the various aspects of a painting was helpful.  And since the author tended to take everything to a very simple abstract level (black and white or greyscale blobby images), it was really much more useful to me as an abstract painter.  I’ve put this one in my Amazon wish list.

BoneMan’s Daughters by Ted Dekker: Oh, very creepy.  And twisty.  If you like creep and twisty, this is one you should read.  On the other hand, if you like rainbows and sunshine, pick something else.

Suite 606 by J. D. Robb: This is a collection of four different novellas.  I only picked it up so I could read J. D. Robb’s Ritual in Death, which was every bit as good as the rest of her stories.  I started reading the others… but lost interest.

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September 12th 2010

Update

Bad, bad, bad.  Look how long it’s been since I’ve updated.  Eleven friggin’ months.  And the books I’ve read since then!  Holy moly!  Here they are (at least the ones I remembered to record), pretty much in the order in which I read them.  I’d say read them all (except for the ones noted as not worth the time)!  Most are mystery or science fiction or urban fantasy, with a few other categories thrown in for variety.  Like spice.

Wolf Hunting by Jane Lindskold
Wolf’s Blood by Jan Lindskold
A Grave Talent by Laurie R. King
125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson (highly recommended)
To Play the Fool by Laurie R. King
Kitty Goes to Washington by Carrie Vaughn
The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu
Night Work by Laurie R. King
The Art of Detection by Laurie R. King
Darkness Calls by Marjorie M. Liu
Mermaid’s Madness by Jim C. Hines
Promises in Death by J. D. Robb
Queen of Dragons by Shana Abé
The Dream Thief by Shana Abé
The Godmother by Carrie Adams
But I Trusted You by Ann Rule
Death by Inferior Design by Leslie Caine
Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
Saint City Sinners by Lilith Saintcrow
Power Play by Joseph Finder
Run for Your Life by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
Hand of Evil by J. A. Vance
The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen
The Dead Girls’ Dance by Rachel Caine
Midnight Alley by Rachel Caine
False Premises by Leslie Caine
Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton (highly recommended)
Death by Inferior Design by Leslie Caine
Manor of Death by Leslie Caine
Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child
Killed by Clutter by Leslie Caine
Fatal Feng Shui by Leslie Caine
Creative Paint Workshop by Ann Baldwin
The Last Pope by Luis Miguel Rocha
B is for Burglar by Sue Grafton (as you will see, I’m rereading this series)
Learning to Stand by Claudia Hall Christian (highly recommended, as are her other books)
C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton
D is for Deadbeat by Sue Grafton
Justice Denied by J. A. Vance
Kitty Takes a Holiday by Carrie Vaughn
Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn
Poisoned by Gilt by Leslie Caine
To Hell and Back by Lilith Saintcrow
Blood Sins by Kay Hooper
Guilty as Sin by Tami Hoag
Feast of Fools by Rachel Caine
Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde
The Creative Edge by Mary Todd Beam
E is for Evidence by Sue Grafton
F is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton
G is for Gumshoe by Sue Grafton
H is for Homicide by Sue Grafton
I is for Innocent by Sue Grafton
J is for Judgment by Sue Grafton
K is for Killer by Sue Grafton
L is for Lawless by Sue Grafton
M is for Malice by Sue Grafton
N is for Noose by Sue Grafton
O is for Outlaw by Sue Grafton
Mark of the Demon Diana Rowland
Lord of Misrule by Rachel Caine
First Family by David Baldacci
Blood Ties by Kay Hooper
First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
P is for Peril by Sue Grafton
Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton
R is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
S is for Silence by Sue Grafton
T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton
Partnership by Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Ball
Poison Sleep by T. A. Pratt
The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (if you like True Blood, you should read her books!)
You Slay Me by Katie MacAlister
Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
The First 48 by Tim Green
Fire Me Up by Katie MacAlister
Stone Kiss by Faye Kellerman
Club Dead by Charlaine Harris
Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith (American history + vampires = WIN)
Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris
Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris
All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris
From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris
Working for the Devil by Lilith Saintcrow
Almost Dead by Lisa Jackson
The Camel Club by David Baldacci
Holy Smokes by Katie MacAlister
Black Blade Blues by J. A. Pitts (excellent!)
Fatal Cure by Robin Cook (don’t bother)
U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton
Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris
18 Seconds by George D. Shuman
Lords of Corruption by Kyle Mills (good,  but not as good as his previous books)
The Final Planet by Andrew M. Greeley
Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
Fantasy in Death by J. D. Robb
Intervention by Robin Cook (his worse ever – DO NOT READ)
The Arraignment by Steve Martini

I have this plan to update more regularly.  If I commit to once a month, I might just be able to do it.  I guess we’ll find out, won’t we?

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August 4th 2009

Another Update

These are the books I’ve read on the fabulous Kindle I got for my birthday in April:

Blood Engines by T. A. Pratt

The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

Her Wiccan, Wiccan Ways by Traci Hall

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik

Justify the Means by Madison McGraw

Killed by Kindle by Madison McGraw

The Last Colony by John Scalzi

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

Paranoia by Joseph Finder

Persuader by Lee Child

Serial by Jack Kilborn and Blake Crouch

Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi

I’ll say two things about the above:

  1. Read everything you can get your hands on by John Scalzi
  2. Read Paranoid

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December 19th 2008

The Appeal

Like most of Grisham’s novels, this one involves lawyers and judges.  I know… I’m surprised, too.  And like all of Grisham’s other novels, this one is well-written, quite readable, and presents a tense story line pitting good against evil.  I’m not surprised by any of that, quite frankly.

Actually, it’s typical Grisham.  If you like Grisham, you’ll probably like this one.  Oh, except for the ending.  That sucked.  I don’t really need fiction to reflect reality quite so perfectly.

One thing I admire about Grisham is his ability to create truly loathsome characters.  There were one or two in here I just wanted to rip off the pages and throttle.  These were well-balanced by the folks you’d want to socialize with, and the semi-clueless naif.

Yep, Grisham sure is good at characterizations.  But darn… is a happy ending too much to ask?

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July 31st 2008

Saving Faith

Saving FaithI don’t know why some of Baldacci’s books read very easily, while others are like wading through quicksand.  Although this is a very good story, the writing was just plain ponderous.

Oh, and for the record… I’m getting tired of megalomaniacs.
 
 
 
 
 

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January 10th 2008

The Sleeping Doll

The Sleeping dollDone! Finished! And there were certainly some interesting twists and turns towards the end. I’m going to have to check out more of Deaver’s books in this series… it’s a likable cast of characters.

Amazon Associate link:
The Sleeping Doll
 

 

 

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