Saturday, October 29, 2011


So I'm finally ready to weigh in on the Kindle.  I've now taken it on 2 trips.  One was 2 weeks in Europe (kind of a no-brainer), and the other was a recent trip to New York (not as much of a no-brainer).  My experience thus far has been - drum roll, please - positive!  I like it.  Am I ready to forsake books?  No.  But I can see using it other than just on trips.  Let me give you a list of situations where I would use the Kindle while still in the Bay Area:

1.  When I'm walking on the treadmill - it's a lot easier to set the Kindle on the double bar of the treadmill than using my towel to keep the book open (especially a mass market paperback) and then shifting the towel up and down.
2.  When I'm having dental work done - holding a book, even a paperback, up in the air is tough, especially when I have to use one hand to hold the book and also keep it open - then, when I'm ready to turn the page, I have to bring the book (slowly) down to my lap - now, I can turn the page with my thumb.
3.  ?????

Okay, so that's not many local uses for the Kindle (although I'm on the treadmill a fair amount).  Nonetheless, I will be using it.  Thanks again to my family for buying it for me.

I have 3 reviews of books I've read since I last blogged.  All of them are authors I've read before (many times for 2 and the 2nd time for one).  Here they are:

Nicholas Sparks - Best of Me - this is his 17th book (and 16th novel) - once again, it centers on star-crossed lovers, with the usual great joy and even greater sadness - it's a familiar theme but one that works well for him - it was enjoyable, as all of his are - a word to the macho men out there:  Don't bother (or, if you do, lie about it).

Jeffrey Archer (author of Kane and Abel, a classic) - Only Time Will Tell - this is the first of a trilogy - it takes place in England (not surprising, since Archer is British) and follows a boy from early childhood through his teenage years and WWII - I liked it a lot - I thought it faded a bit in the last quarter of the book but was still a good read - he's no Follett (who started a trilogy last year, with Fall of Giants), but, then again, who is? - I will definitely read #2.

Brad Thor - The Athena Project - this is my 2nd novel of his - he's solid - definitely a B+-lister - the story centers around a "brick" of 4 women, who are the equivalent of special ops - they are all good-looking, athletic, and highly trained - they use their feminine wiles to take advantage of the bad guys - because I read a lot of books about special ops/anti-terrorism/CIA etc., it needs to be well-written, engaging, and have some kind of unique angle for me to recommend it - this does and I do.

Stay tuned next weekend for... (I'm not trying to lead you on - I actually don't know).

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I felt like I had read quite a few new authors this year, so I decided to count them.  There have been 20 so far.  This might be the most new authors I have read in any one year.  I don't think I'll get to many more because a number of my long-standing authors are putting out books before the end of the year:  Nicholas Sparks (don't act surprised - you know that I read Sparks), Barry Eisler, and W.E.B. Griffin.  Plus, Jeffrey Archer and Brad Meltzer have already come out with their new books, which I haven't gotten to yet.  Since this might be it, I'm going to list all of them and give them movie ratings.  The maximum score is 4 stars.  Here we go (in order):

Stein, Garth - The Art of Racing in the Rain - 3.0 - A very entertaining and poignant story of a family told through the eyes of a dog - and I don't even like animals!
Robinson, John Elder - Look Me in the Eye - 3.0 - non-fiction account of an autistic man's childhood and his efforts as an adult to recognize and deal with his disorder.
Bourne, Sam - The Righteous Men - 2.5 - a modern-day story that centers on old Jewish scripture - slow first half (2.0) but very good second half (3.0).
Stevens, Taylor -Informationist - 2.0 - debut novel about a Lisbeth Sander-type of take-no-prisoners woman - you know the type - kick-butt now and ask questions later - might read her next one - not sure yet.
Verghese, Abraham - Cutting for Stone - 3.0 - Everybody knows about this one - I liked it a lot but didn't love it like so many people did - saw him in San Rafael with about 800 other people.
See, Lisa - Peony in Love - 1.5 - would have preferred a root canal (then I can at least read in the dentist's chair) - read it in bits and pieces in and around a number of other books - I know she's really popular with many people, but I didn't get it - my best moment was when I finished it.
Nesbo, Jo - The Redbreast - 3.0 - this was a very pleasant surprise for me - Nesbo is a Norwegian author whose protagonist is a detective named Harry Hole - the author is a  very big deal in Norway - enjoyed the quirky nature of Hole.
Gran, Sara - Clair Dewitt and the City of the Dead - 2.0 - protagonist is a hard-boiled private eye that brings you back to the detective novels from the '30's and '40's - starts slow and picks up slightly - was sure that I wouldn't read another one and ended up not so sure.
McEuen, Paul - Spiral - 3.0 - debut novel about a nasty contagion - very well done - would jump at his next book.
Pelecanos, George - The Turnaround - 3.5 - a tragedy as a teenager still has consequences 30 years later - this book only slightly missed The Fiction for the Non-Fiction Reader list - turned me into an instant fan - have since read 2 others - not as good as The Turnaround but still liked them a lot.
Ignatius, David -  Body of Lies - 3.0 - another CIA/special forces novel but with a twist - I read a lot of these types of books but found this to be different enough to want to read more - I liked it.
La Plante, Alice - Turn of Mind - 2.5 - a 64-year old woman in the beginning stages of dementia is possibly a murderer - but she can't remember if she did it or not - the author's mother had dementia and was the inspiration for the novel - the book was a little bit too well-written for me (you all know I'm no intellectual) - but I liked it.
O'Shaughnessy, Peri - Dreams of the Dead - 2.0 - this author is actually 2 sisters - back in the early '90's, their publisher wouldn't publish their first book with 2 names - this book is actually their 13th in a series about a small-time female attorney in South Lake Tahoe - they say (I saw them at an author's event) that it's their last, and they will write separately - it is unlikely that I will read anything else by them.
O'Keefe, Bobbie - Family Skeletons - 2.5 - this is a very different novel from anything else I've read before - it's a legitimate murder mystery and a legitimate romance - she does a heck of a job melding the 2 - I would definitely read her again.
Hart, John - The Last Child - 4.0 - I guess you've all heard (read) enough by me about John Hart - suffice it to say that this book (along with his The Iron House) is the first new addition to The Fiction... list since its inception back in January.
Silverberry, A.R. - Wyndano's Cloak - 3.0 - the only reason I would read a young adult fantasy novel is if I personally met the author (and his wife, the illustrator) at Barnes & Noble in Campbell on a Saturday afternoon - I read it only because I told him I would someday read it - guess what? - I really liked it - a lot - there were 2 parallel stories running with each of the protagonists being a teenage girl - I couldn't wait for each story to unfold - go figure.
Tinti, Hanna - The Good Thief - 2.0 - this was recommended to me so I read it - it was okay - it was certainly different but not particularly captivating.
LaVigne, Michael - Not Me - 3.0 - a darn good story about a philanthropic older Jewish man with a very interesting past - a one-of-a-kind plot.
Britton, Andrew - The American - 3.0 - still another novel CIA novel - an ex-special ops guy teamed with a female analyst trying to track down a terrorist with a most interesting background - I will definitely be reading him again.
Steinhauer, Olen - The Tourist - 2.5 - you're not going to believe this - but this book is about a special branch of the CIA called Tourism (ergo, the title!) - despite the fact that I seem to gravitate toward CIA novels, I have read some good ones - including this one.

C'est tout.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Okay, admit it.  You didn't even realize I was gone.  Well I was.  And I've got a number of books to review.  But first, in case you didn't already know this, you can sign up on Facebook to receive notice of a new blog post.  Some of you have done that, and others of you have no desire to do that.  But if by some quirk of nature/personality you do want to receive notice of my latest blogs, feel free to sign up.  Another couple thousand people, and I'll be in the top 75% for book bloggers.

Onward to reviews.  I have read (almost) 7 books since my last post, including 3 new authors for me.  The first book I read after John Hart's Iron House was Down River, by, you guessed it, John Hart.  And 4 books later, I read Hart's 4th, and final book, King of Lies.  His 4 books reminded me a lot of Dan Brown.  I read Brown's first 4 books in the exact same order as Hart's - books 3, 4, 1, 2.  And just like Brown, books 3 and 4 were better than books 1 and 2.  So I can say that Hart's books 3 and 4 were outstanding while his books 1 and 2 were really good.  Really good is not so bad.  I would recommend them.  They just weren't as good as his 3 and 4.  But then again, very few authors write books even remotely as good as Hart's 3 and 4.  P.S.  Brown is not as good as Hart.

After Hart's Down River, I read 3 straight authors who I had never read:  Michael Lavigne, Hannah Tinti, and Andrew Britton.  Here's a rundown:

Lavigne's Not Me, recommended by Steve (all the way from New York!) was very good.  It's about a Jewish man who does all kinds of good for the Jewish community.  The interesting part is his background in Germany during WWII.  I don't want to say any more than that.  This is definitely one you will want to read.

Tinti's The Good Thief, was recommended by John, who was my inspiration for the Fiction for the Non-Fiction Reader Post.  This book was definitely different.  It takes place in the Eastern part of the country, sometime after the Revolutionary War but before the Civil War (I think).  It's about a con man who goes to an orphanage and poses as the brother of a boy who has only one hand.  He gets custody of the boy, and enlists him as an accomplice.  The book is well-written and has an interesting story line, but I can't say that I loved it.  I think it might be a little bit too intellectual for my pedestrian mind.  I don't think you would dislike it, but I can't swear that you would like it very much, either.

Britton's The American was very good.  It's another CIA/terrorism story, but it has a twist.  The protagonists are a college professor who has special forces training and a female CIA agent who was an analyst and gets pressed into field duty.  The terrorist has a crazy background that is not the usual terrorist profile.  I really liked it.  If you are a fan of these kinds of novels, I highly recommend this one.  You will definitely enjoy it a lot.

The last 2 are George Pelecanos' latest, The Cut, and an old Harlan Coben that is just now being published - or, maybe, re-published.  The Cut is book 1 of a new series for Pelecanos.  Our hero is a 29-year old Marine veteran who has his own business.  He basically finds things for clients.  It's not as good as The Way Out or The Turnaround, but it's entertaining and pretty light.  I think you would enjoy it.

Miracle Cure is the 2nd book Coben ever wrote.  It was back in the early '90's, and he was in his early '20's.  I've got just a few pages left.  It's good like all of his books are good.  When he came out earlier this year with his very first novel, Live Wire, I figured that it couldn't be too good, and that he was just trying to cash in on his popularity.  In fact, Phil told me to read it, and I said no.  Then I gave in and was very pleasantly surprised.  It was darn good.  And this one is even better.  The fact is that Coben only writes good books.  Unlike Alex Kava, he never rests on his popularity.  Every book, whether it's about Myron Bolitar or not, is very good.  I don't think I've read one book of his that I didn't think was, at least, very good.  This one is no exception.

That's it for now.  In my next blog, I will talk a bit about my first experience with an ereader.  I know that you are all manic with anticipation.