Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Shall Wear Midnight

I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
(Discworld series #38)

I thoroughly enjoy the "Tiffany Aching" series that takes place amongst Terry Pratchett's Discworld books, but not so much because of the main character, Tiffany Aching. The real enjoyment in reading these books for me are the Nac Mac Feegles, miniature pixies (for lack of a more accurate designation) who live to steal, fight, and kill anyone whom they consider a threat, an annoyance, or who simply finds themselves in the Feegles' line of sight when they're in need of a cure for boredom. They speak with a Scottish Brogue, believe that the Discworld is a heaven and that they must have been very good to have been sent there, and are fiercely loyal to Tiffany Aching, a teenage witch who has reciprocated their loyalty in the past.

In this, the fourth book in the series, Tiffany, who is finally starting to feel comfortable with her role and abilities as a witch, finds herself up against a force or presence that she inadvertently woke up at the conclusion of Wintersmith.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Riding the Rap

Riding the Rap by Elmore Leonard

This is the first book by Elmore Leonard that I've ever read. But I was pretty confident before ever starting it that I was going to really enjoy it, and I did. He's one of those authors that has been around for decades and is considered one of the best in the the business, but who had managed to stay under my radar till now. I decided I needed to read his books after watching the first season of  Justified on television which is based on a character that appears in a couple of Leonard's books and one of his short stories. Riding the Rap is one of those books.

Raylan Givins is a U.S. Marshall working in Florida who has the soul of a 19th century Texas Ranger. He wears the cowboy hat and boots and has a no-nonsense approach to dealing with criminals. One of his associates, Harry Arno, a retiring bookie goes missing while trying to collect on some outstanding gambling debts. Raylan quickly gets on the trail of his abductors, a group of second-rate criminals who got the idea for their kidnapping scheme while stoned and watching a movie.

The story was fine, but a little cliche at times. Since this wasn't the first story with these main characters I would have appreciated it if a little more backstory would have been provided throughout the book. As it is, it reads more like an extended short story where you begin in the middle of the characters' lives right as a major event is taking place and then you go forward. I enjoyed the black humor thrown in. It was fun to see the ineptitude of the criminals on display at most of the stages of their scheme. But I feel like this book was pretty average. I was relieved to read other reviews on this book and find that most Leonard fans don't consider this one up to his normal standard. That means I'll be reading more. 

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Horns by Joe Hill

Ignatius Parrish (Ig) has had a rough year. It all started when his longtime girlfriend, who had recently broken up with him, was found murdered. All eyes immediately turned to him. And while he was investigated and later cleared of the charges due to lack of evidence, everyone, including his family, is still certain he did it.

One morning Ig wakes up, after having passed out drunk the night before, to discover not the usual hangover but two horns growing out of his head - and that's only the beginning of the changes that start happening to him. Other people are able to see his new horns, but they don't seem to be aware of their existence. When people get around him, they seem to have an uncontrollable desire to tell Ig all their deepest and darkest secrets. They also start talking about spiteful and hateful things they'd like to do, almost as if they're seeking his permission to do them. Ig also finds that he has the ability to see into peoples' pasts whenever he touches them.

Are these changes a blessing from up above, given to him so that he can discover who really killed is ex-girlfriend? Or are they just the results of a good guy who has been going through hell on earth?

This is Joe Hill's second novel, and I recommend it. But only for those who enjoy the writings of his father.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Kraken by China Miéville

Kraken is a story about the search for a giant squid that goes missing from the Natural History Museum in London. A 60-foot dead squid in a tank of formaldehyde that was there one minute and gone the next. The plot sounds ludicrous. How could it have been accomplished? Why would someone want to do it? The answers to those questions are China Miéville's latest contribution to the growing genre of "Weird Fiction".

I hope that when China Miéville dies he will leave his brain to science. I'd like scientists to study it and find out what makes it so unique. If that could be discovered, maybe it could be duplicated and there could be more authors out there with his level of creativity and literary abilities. Miéville's books are not quick reads, meaning as I read them, I realize that I'm reading at a slower pace than I would most other books. The reason for that is the language he both uses and creates. If you try to use a dictionary to look up a lot of the obscure words he uses, you'll find that the majority of them aren't there. He makes a lot of them up. But that doesn't mean that their meaning is unobtainable. It just means you have to think while you read.

That may not sound like a resounding recommendation to read his books. So I should add that the fantastical worlds he creates and their inhabitants are unlike any you're likely to come across anywhere else in literature. They're so bizarrely unique and oftentimes disturbing that I find they're impossible to either forget and not appreciate.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Rembrandt Affair

by Daniel Silva
(Gabriel Allon series #10)

In this, his tenth book featuring Gabriel Allon - the reclusive art restorer and wannabe former Israeli intelligence officer - Daniel Silva uses Allon's love of the master painters to once again draw him out of seclusion and back into his former life.

A previously unknown painting by Rembrandt, lost during the Jewish holocaust, has surfaced. But before most of the world is even aware of its existence, it quickly disappears again. The art restorer who is cleaning it and preparing it to be seen by the world, is brutally murdered and the portrait by Rembrandt is taken. Allon reluctantly decides to assist his long-time acquaintance Julian Isherwood, who was responsible for the painting when it was stolen, in its recovery.

In classic Silva style, what initially appears to be Allon's task, is quickly revealed as only the tip of the iceberg. The painting's disappearance leads to the son of a former SS Officer and then to a Swiss billionaire, who the world believes to be one of the greatest philanthropists ever, but who might have ties to the country that poses the largest threat to Israel today - Iran.

Daniel Silva has yet to disappoint me with one of his books. This year I timed our family's trip to visit my wife's family in Colorado to coincide with the Denver stop on his book tour and I'm glad I did. Mr. Silva is as interesting to listen to as his books are to read. The insights he provided on his research for this and other books he's written were fascinating and I'm looking forward to reading his next installment in the series.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Burning Wire

by Jeffery Deaver
(Lincoln Rhyme series #9)

Lincoln Rhyme is one of my favorite serial characters in popluar fiction. The quadriplegic criminologist is one of the few for me that has had staying power and that I've not become disillusioned with as the series has progressed.

In this latest installment, Deaver puts Rhyme's criminalist skills up against those of an adversary with an expert knowledge of electricity. He uses that knowledge to tap into the Manhattan power grid and electrify anything metal. It's up to Rhyme and his team to use whatever forensic evidence the killer leaves behind in order to stop him.

Deaver is one of the best in the business at staying a step or two ahead of his readers. His use of literary misdirection and plot twists that even though readers of his books know are most likely there, are extremely difficult to figure out before he reveals them. All of his books are enjoyable reads. They keep you on your toes and leave you anxious for his next book.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆