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April 2019

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Never a Day Without a Book... (On My Kindle!)

  • Jonathan Tropper: This Is Where I Leave You: A Novel

    Jonathan Tropper: This Is Where I Leave You: A Novel
    This book runs the gamut of emotions as Judd's family honors his dad's wishes and sits shiva for 7 days after he has died. The family dynamics and the fact that Judd had just caught his wife in bed with his boss (wow, was THAT ever a description!) adds to all the crazy angst. This is a very funny book, but it's also bittersweet, poignant, and at many times...crazy! Very well-written. (****)

  • Dean Koontz: Odd Apocalypse: An Odd Thomas Novel

    Dean Koontz: Odd Apocalypse: An Odd Thomas Novel
    I am always delighted beyond measure whenever Dean Koontz releases an "Odd Thomas" book. I adore this humble and gifted character who is constantly put through hell and back. In this story, he is supposedly resting at a rich man's manor (after his previous harrowing undertaking) -- but the manor turns out to not be quite as "restful" as it appears. Hmm. (He is "Odd" because the typewriter key for "T" didn't hit the ribbon on his birth certificate. Get it?) Heh. Love him! (*****)

  • Michael Connelly: The Black Box (A Harry Bosch Novel)

    Michael Connelly: The Black Box (A Harry Bosch Novel)
    The refreshingly anti-establishment Harry Bosch of the LAPD's "Opened Unsolved Unit" investigates a 20-year-old murder that took place during the LA riots. Turns out not all is at it seems! Definitely a page-turner who-dunnit. (****)

  • John Scalzi: Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas

    John Scalzi: Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas
    I believe I've read all of Scalzi's novels (not all of his novellas, though, but that's gonna change soon). Check out his blog at I really like him -- he's bright and funny and down-to-earth. This book was kind of a campy take on Star Trek -- the guys in the "red shirts" typically didn't have much time to live. (If you know ST, you'll know what I mean). It was a very fun and entertaining read! (****)

  • Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl: A Novel

    Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl: A Novel
    This story smacks you upside the head, swallows you, and spits you out; when it ends, you know you've been PUT THROUGH IT. It's a psychological thriller like none other. Can't say much more without giving away spoilers, but it's not 5 stars because of one particular element, in my opinion. (****)

  • Justin Cronin: The Twelve (Book Two of The Passage Trilogy): A Novel

    Justin Cronin: The Twelve (Book Two of The Passage Trilogy): A Novel
    I read Cronin's "The Passage" a couple of years ago and loved it. I didn't realize that it was Part 1 of a trilogy! "The Twelve" is the 2nd part and it was outstanding. The premise sounds strange -- it's a post-apocalyptic world after a military experiment went terribly wrong. It's kind of a combination of "The Hunger Games" and "The Stand" -- but also neither of those. It's just riveting. And now I have to wait a couple more years for Part 3. (*****)

  • Stephen King: 11/22/63: A Novel

    Stephen King: 11/22/63: A Novel
    This was sooooo gooooood! Oh yes, it has some of King's typical elements (I mean, it involves time travel), but it's all believable. Really! Jake is a high school English teacher in a small town in Maine, and he's unexpectedly introduced to this "portal" that takes him back to 1958. Believe me, you go with him and you are THERE. Once again, I just love SK's glorious characterization. (*****)

  • Amor Towles: Rules of Civility: A Novel

    Amor Towles: Rules of Civility: A Novel
    I believe this is a popular Book Club read, and I did enjoy it, but it wasn't a page-turner. It takes place in pre-World War II New York City from the point of view of a young woman making her way in the world with a "regular" life that unexpectedly intersects with the lives of a group of young and wealthy friends. Much of it was fascinating and intriguing, but it meandered. It was rather "noir" and I suspect NYC natives would genuinely love it -- like viewing intimate and iconic city elements through a lens of time. (***)

  • Robert Crais: Suspect

    Robert Crais: Suspect
    Enjoyable police procedural read with all new characters -- and the best one is Maggie the Afghanistan war vet. She's a dog with PTSD who is matched up with a cop (also with PTSD after a terribly gone-wrong incident) for K-9 training. And ultimately the investigation of the terribly gone-wrong incident. The humans aren't painted quite as sublimely as Maggie the dog, but a good, escapist read anyway. (****)

  • Kate Morton: The House at Riverton: A Novel

    Kate Morton: The House at Riverton: A Novel
    Once Season 3 of Downton Abbey ended (so sadly!), I was still hungry for more (in spite of it all!) and so I read this book! Same era, same "upstairs/downstairs" setup, with different characters, of course. The narrator was a 99-year-old woman who had been a maid at Riverton House back in the 19-teens into the early '20s. She had lots of secrets to tell! It was entertaining, compelling, and left me realizing that the era was ultimately tragic, no matter how much money you had. (****)

  • John Scalzi: Zoe's Tale

    John Scalzi: Zoe's Tale
    After the Old Man's War trilogy, this book was released and I thought maybe Scalzi had decided to write a 4th installment to the series (since Zoe was a pretty major-but-secondary character in two of them). Turns out this is actually the same story of the third book (The Lost Colony) only from Zoe's point of view (she's 15 or 16). At first I was disappointed, but once I got into it, I just loved it. She's a smart mouth (plus very smart!), and it was a very fresh take on a very good story. It's sci-fi, just a heads up, and very readable, humorous, and entertaining sci-fi at that. I also think it would be a great stand-alone book for teenage girls/young adults. (****)

  • Patricia Cornwell: The Scarpetta Factor

    Patricia Cornwell: The Scarpetta Factor
    Because I've been disappointed in the Scarpetta books lately, this is the first one I've read in a while, which meant there were holes in my understanding of the backstory throughout it. I got the gist OK, but overall I found it to be whiney and full of angst. Or at least the characters are, and I mean ALL of them. They just take themselves way too seriously and I'm weary of that. Cornwell needs to lighten up and inject a little humor in her writing. (**)

  • Bill Loehfelm: Fresh Kills

    Bill Loehfelm: Fresh Kills
    This felt similar to another book I read fairly recently, Charlie Huston's "Caught Stealing." Angry protaganist, heavy drinker, pissed off at the world. It's not a mystery novel by any means — more of a psychological journey of self-discovery (and maybe redemption) that takes place over just a couple of days. I really didn't like this guy. And some of the good stuff that ended up coming his way seemed undeserved. (***)

  • Stieg Larsson: The Girl Who Played with Fire

    Stieg Larsson: The Girl Who Played with Fire
    I have very much enjoyed this series with Lisbeth Salander as the tough-as-nails, tattooed, pierced computer hacker with a horrific childhood. She has a chip on her shoulder, but her savvy and survival skills, as well as a certain vulnerability, have you always rooting for her. This is the 2nd book of the trilogy and you become more privy to much of what she had to endure in her youth. It's a great mystery, full of lots of tense moments, and quite the cliffhanger of an ending. The 3rd book will be released next year and I can hardly wait. (*****)

  • Dan Brown: The Lost Symbol

    Dan Brown: The Lost Symbol
    I know. His writing sucks. (Much like Clive Cussler). But he can spin a yarn and it made me think of a computer adventure game. I did enjoy Googling certain art and architecture along the way. Over-the-top, for sure, but still rather compelling. (***)

  • Dean Koontz: Relentless: A Novel

    Dean Koontz: Relentless: A Novel
    I love Dean Koontz and will read anything he writes. And because he's so prolific, there will sometimes be books of his that don't quite compare to others. This is one of them. It was good, it was entertaining (and it WAS relentless!), but it wasn't super. I've read a few more novels since reading this one and I had to go back to Amazon to refresh my memory what it was all about! So you see, it didn't stick with me like so many of his stories. That doesn't bode well. But...if you like Koontz, it's still worth reading. (***)

  • John Scalzi: Old Man's War

    John Scalzi: Old Man's War
    This was the first book of a science fiction trilogy (I read them all; #2 is "The Ghost Brigades" and #3 is "The Last Colony"). John Scalzi twitters and I was intrigued with him on a personal level so I decided to give his books a try. They're good! I'm often hesitant about SF because so much of it is cheesy, but these are well-written, very interesting, and full of great humor. There is now a 4th book in the series called "Zoe's Tale" which I've downloaded to my Kindle but haven't read yet. (****)

  • Pat Conroy: South of Broad

    Pat Conroy: South of Broad
    No, it wasn't "Prince of Tides." Definitely worth reading, though, with Conroy's astounding and beautiful command of the language. As I usually do with his books, I have to read some of his passages out loud to whomever is within earshot. Some of the characters were a little over-the-top, but you love them anyway (or not...) (****)

  • P.D. James: The Private Patient (Adam Dalgliesh Mysteries)

    P.D. James: The Private Patient (Adam Dalgliesh Mysteries)
    P.D. James is such an excellent writer—this series is a true mesh of mystery and literature. Very British and quite formal, this story did remind me of a classic Agatha Christie "who-dunnit." (****)

  • Lee Child: Gone Tomorrow (Jack Reacher, No. 13)

    Lee Child: Gone Tomorrow (Jack Reacher, No. 13)
    I was rather disappointed with Jack Reacher No. 12, but this is totally back to excellent form! I'm not sure why I'm so enamored with this violent modern-day gunslinger, but there's something about him! The bad guys are (as usual) hair-raising bad, and so whatever comes to them is well-deserved. I think I'll read the Dexter series next! (****)

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Tuesday, January 22, 2019