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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October 18th 2009

Memories of the Future, Volume 1

If you loved the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation as much as I did (that is to say, you kind of wish they had gone right to season three or four) and if you adored Wesley Crusher as much as I did (i.e., you wanted to beat him into a coma with a TI graphing calculator), then you will absolutely want to read Wil Wheaton’s Memories of the Future, Volume 1 (and by that I mean you really, really, really will want to read it).

In a slim volume packed with snark, Wil takes you back in time and behind the scenes of ST:TNG’s first season (well, the first half of the first season).  Each episode recap includes a laugh-out-loud funny synopsis of the show, examples of sparkling dialog, technobabble and Wil’s memories of way back when.  If you ever watched ST:TNG (whether you loved it, hated it or were completely ambivalent), you’ll want to read this book!

It’s only available at Lulu.com… and let me add a few words about Lulu:  I ordered the book after work on Wednesday, and the nice FedEx driver dropped it at my house on Saturday around lunchtime.  I hadn’t expected it to show up until the middle of the week!  Way to go, Lulu!

I am somewhat patiently awaiting Memories of the Future, Volume 2.

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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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July 1st 2009

Catching Up Again

I’ve been reading a lot.  These are just the ones I can remember reading since my last post.

Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Spending by Mary Gordon

Tips for Your Home Office by Meredith Gould

Irish Whiskey by Andrew M. Greeley

Irish Mist by Andrew M. Greeley

Irish Eyes by Andrew M. Greeley

Irish Stew by Andrew M. Greeley

The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb

Ergonomic Living: How to create a user-friendly home and office by Gordon Inkeles

How to Plan Perfect Kitchens by Kathleen M. Kiely

The Telling by Ursula K. LeGuin

Through Wolf’s Eyes by Jane Lindskold

Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart by Jane Lindskold

The Dragon of Despair by Jane Lindskold

Wolf Captured by Jane Lindskold

The New Smart Approach to Kitchen Design by Susan Maney

Gone, But Not Forgotten by Phillip Margolin

Body Count by P. D. Martin

Shadow of Power by Steve Martini

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

New Moon by Stephanie Meyer

Darkness Falls by Kyle Mills

Perspective Made Easy by Ernest R. Norling

The Last Victim by Kevin O’Brien

Scarecrow by Matthew Reilly

Wool Pets by Lauri Sharp and Kevin Sharp

Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder

Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder

Zen Brushwork by Tanchu Terayama, Thomas Judge and John Stevens

Monkeewrench by P. J. Tracy

Live Bait by P. J. Tracy

Dead Run by P. J. Tracy

Snow Blind by P. J. Tracy

Abstract and Colour Techniques in Painting by Rolina van Vliet

Critical Conditions by Stephen White

Embracing Encaustic by Linda Womack

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February 17th 2009

Persepolis

Again, it’s not that I haven’t been reading… I just haven’t been writing about reading.

This is a fabulous graphic novel that I received as a holiday gift. It’s an autobiographical story of Marjane Satrapi’s life in Iran and abroad during the Islamic Revolution. It’s refreshingly honest, and gives a clear glimpse of the Iranian culture both before and after Ayatollah Khomeini came to power. (The book is also the basis for the 2007 movie of the same name, which is now on my list of movies to see.)

I’ve never been a huge fan of graphic novels, but this book is so good it’s now on my short list of favorite biographies. I highly recommend it to everyone… especially anyone interested in a gaining a better understanding of Middle Eastern culture.

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January 12th 2009

Poison Study

I discovered this author while browsing through the recommendations on Booksfree.  Based on all the books I’ve ever rented from them, they thought I might like Snyder’s books.

They were 100% correct.

The story seems rather ordinary… a theme that’s been done time and again in the fantasy genre.

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve.  As a food taster, she’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace — and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting.  Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she’s can’t control.  Her life is threatened again and choices must be made.  But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear.

In the hands of a less-skilled storyteller, this particular story probably would have been… nice.  But Snyder is adept, and kept me turning pages long after I should have gone off to sleep.

If you like the fantasy genre, this is another book I’d highly recommend.

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January 9th 2009

Water for Elephants

This book was recommended by my fabulous step-mother-in-law.  I had no idea what it was about when I put it in my Booksfree queue.  I’m delighted to report that it’s well worth reading!

To say that it’s about a 90-something year old man living in a nursing home and reminiscing about his days with the circle would be the bare truth.  And honestly, I probably wouldn’t have picked this book up based on the description… or even the slightly more interesting blurb on the back cover.  After all… how interesting can a circus be?

I’ll admit that I was wrong.  Gruen has created a rich and charming cast of characters in this novel, and has made circus life a three-dimensional tapestry.  Telling the story as flashback memories of an old man brilliant.  The juxtaposition of his current life in the nursing home and the freedom he had in the circus make the story’s ending the only possible one that would be satisfying.

I highly recommend this book!

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December 22nd 2008

Gale Force

This is the latest book in the adventures of Joanne Baldwin, Weather Warden.  As usual, Joanne gets herself into more trouble that the average person.  Of course, since she’s once of the top Wardens around, she’s not exactly the average person.

This time around, Joanne gets to save the world from some very bad people who are trying to destroy the Djinn, the Wardens and, oh what the heck, how about the entire planet?  It turns out that one of her friends is one of the very bad people.  I didn’t see that one coming.

Ah… and despite some major opposition from Ashan, Joanne and David actually get married.

Ok, so now I just need to know when the next one is being published.

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