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18 December 2011 @ 10:38 pm
Today, on a lazy Sunday, I finished reading I'll See You in My Dreams by William Deverell. Deverell is a retired Vancouver criminal lawyer who writes mystery novels mostly about Vancouver criminal lawyers. They're well received generally, but anyone who has ever practiced criminal law and who knows Vancouver will especially enjoy his novels.

This book is about an old lawyer experiencing regret over his first murder trial as a young lawyer, back in the days when Canada still had the death penalty. The lawyer convinces his client to make a deal to plead guilty to manslaughter to avoid being convicted and executed for murder. The client reluctantly does so on his lawyer's advice, despite proclaiming his innocence. Decades later when new evidence surfaces, the lawyer launches an appeal, while unraveling the mystery of what actually happened.

Deverell writes very well, but in the past my complaint has been that he spins a great tale, but writes weak endings. This book is somewhat opposite. It begins slowly and is very laborious to read at first, but the pace picks up and its ending is well-written.

I don't seem to read much fiction any more, unless I'm on vacation or unless one of my favourite fiction authors (like Deverell) puts out a new book. Reading this made me wonder about what I managed to read this year, so I thought I'd make a list. Here's what I recall reading in 2011 (so far):

What I recall reading in 2011...Collapse )

Best Fiction: Maximum Bob

Best Non-Fiction: Destiny of the Republic

I'm about to start The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. Has anyone here read it, and if so, would you recommend it?

What about you, what have you read so far this year? What was best in fiction and in non-fiction?
Current Location: in the bedroom with Abby
Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Bob Dylan-"Must Be Santa"
12 November 2011 @ 10:45 am
Recently I finished reading Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it highly. It is apparent even before one reads the acknowledgement at the end of the book that Ms. Millard has put a lot of effort into her research. It seems to have been as much of a labour of love for her as a work of history. In this book, Ms. Millard tells a most interesting story of a little known and forgotten part of American history, the assassination of President James Abram Garfield, the 20th President of the United States. Although history appears to have forgotten Garfield's brief tenure as President, Millard reminds us of what an able leader Garfield was, and gives us insight into what a courageous, moral and intellectually gifted man he was. She gives us a glimpse of Garfield the good family man, the enemy of cronyism and tells us about the world in which he lived.

Ms. Millard writes about the conditions which placed Garfield in the White House in spite of his apparent lack of desire for the job, and about his political battle with New York Senator and political boss Roscoe Conklin and his Stalwart faction as the ethical president sought to replace the spoils system with one in which important government positions are obtained based on merit.

We are treated to a glimpse of what it must have been like in Washington on July 2, 1881 to observe the shooting of President Garfield as he planned on boarding a train with the members of his cabinet. Millard describes the mood of the city and of the nation as they learn of the shooting. The book goes on to describe in interesting detail several aspects of this historical event: the path of the mentally unbalanced assassin Charles Guiteau both before and after the shooting, the medical incompetence of the doctors who treated Garfield (especially the egotistical and controlling "Dr. Doctor Bliss"), Roscoe Conklin's fall from political grace and the resulting humiliation, the conversion of Vice-President Chester Alan Arthur from sycophantic Stalwart to independent reformer, the story of inventor Alexander Graham Bell's effort to invent a device to locate the bullet lodged inside of Garfield, and the rejection of Dr. Joseph Lister's discovery of sterilization and its subsequent vindication. Most importantly, she captures the mood of the nation as it suffers collectively along with its suffering leader, and how north and south set aside past grievances to mourn for their slain President.

What makes this book so enjoyable and readable is both the story itself, and its telling. In the acknowledgement section at the end of the book, we get an insight into the author's research and the passion that she put into the writing of this book. Reading this book is a pleasure whether the reader is a history geek or someone who simply enjoys the telling of a fascinating historical tale masterfully told.
Current Location: In the bedroom with Abby
Current Mood: awake
Current Music: Moxy Fruvous-"My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors"
1) First name or nickname? Rae
2) How old are you? 19
3) What country are located in? United States
4) What is your favourite book and favourite author? I have tons. Kurt Vonnegut is probably my ultimate favorite author. I have tons though. This feels restricting. I could never pick a favorite book,
5) Are there any genres that you love or hate? I love science fiction, classics...uh, I pretty much read anything I suppose. Not much young adult nowadays though because I think they're getting sort of silly.
6) What was the last book you read? The last book I finished was The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.
7) What book are you reading now? War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood, Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, Child Wonder by Roy Jacobsen
8) What book are planning to read next? Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
9) What book would you recommend for the the last person who posted an intro here? Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
10)Anything else you want to tell us so we can get to know you better?
television shows: New Girl, Doctor Who, Storage Wars, Hoarders, Criminal Minds, NCIS, American Dad, Futurama
26 September 2011 @ 03:40 pm
Recently while on a series of flight I had a chance to read the following three books:

1. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis. Lewis is a terrific author and he takes a dorky subject like baseball statistics and makes it interesting by interweaving the story with tales of the characters involved in the new sports science of sabermetrics: Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt in the movie adaptation of this book), Paul DePodesta, Bill James and a geek by the improbable name of Voros McCracken. He also writes about the baseball players who served as lab rats in the experiment of whether or not sabermetrics would work in real life. Perhaps I was so caught up in the book because I'm a baseball fan, but I loved this book. Leaving aside the sports aspect, this is a great story a quirky character coming in to an old boys club and changing the way things had been done for a long time, with enough success that many imitators soon followed. I would recommend this book highly and give it an A.

2. Maximum Bob by Elmore Leonard. A friend recommended that I read some Elmore Leonard and I decided to try this book for a start. Leonard's style of writing is what made this book so enjoyable. The book's tone is conversational, quirky and very amusing. As mystery stories go, the tale is average and predictable. There's no mystery to solve, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable. Reading this story about a redneck mysoganistic Florida judge who is the target of one or more assassins, and the pretty probation officer who us smarter than the cops was very easy. The villains are written as a combination of cold-blooded knuckleheadedness that only a skillful writer like Elmore Leonard can pull off. I would also recommend this book and give it a B+.

3. Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell. I'm so grateful to the LJ friend who recommended Sarah Vowell to me. She writes about history, but in a style unlike any historian. She is knowledgeable but writes in a humorous style as she tells the story of her visits to numerous historic sites relevant to the assassinations of Presidents Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield and William McKinley. It's as if the reader is accompanying her on these pilgrammages and she's a very interesting and very funny friend. For example, she gives Robert Todd Lincoln (the son of Abraham Lincoln, and a man who had the misfortune of being in close proximity at the time of all three assassinations) the nickname "Jinxy McDeath." She is witty and a trifle irreverent, but that doesn't take away from her ability to give her readers both knowledge and perspective. I lucked out on this trip, I armed myself with three very good books. I give this book an A and it made me want to ready more of the works of Sarah Vowell.

So what about the rest of you prolific readers, what are you reading? How about writing a short journal entry in this community telling the rest of us what's on your reading list and whether or not you like it? Please and thanks.
Current Mood: happyhappy
Current Music: Moxy Fruvous-"My Baby Loves A Bunch of Authors"
08 September 2011 @ 05:00 pm
Blameless by Gail Carriger
Changeless by Gail Carriger
Soulless by Gail Carriger
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
For One More Day by Mitch Albom
Nine Stories by JD Salinger
Flirt by LKH
The Demon's Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan
08 September 2011 @ 03:10 pm
  1. A Cold Heart - Jonathan Kellerman
  2. The Alexandria Link - Steve Berry
  3. Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories That Go Bump In The Night - Alfred Hitchcock
  4. And Another Thing... - Eoin Colfer, Douglas Adams
  5. Apes And Babes: The Art Of Frank Cho Book 1 - Frank Cho
  6. Bannerman Effect, The - John R. Maxim
  7. Billy - Whitley Strieber
  8. Black Blade Blues - J.A. Pitts
  9. Black Magic Sanction - Kim Harrison
  10. Black Magic Woman - Justin Gustainis
  11. Blameless - Gail Carriger
  12. Blasphemy - Douglas Preston
  13. Blood Rites - Jim Butcher
  14. Bolo! - David Weber, Keith Laumer
  15. Bone Gods - Caitlin Kittredge
  16. Breach Of Promise - Perri O'Shaughnessy
  17. Cat-A-Lyst - Alan Dean Foster
  18. The Catcher In The Rye - J.D. Salinger
  19. Changes - Jim Butcher
  20. Changeless - Gail Carriger
  21. The Charlemagne Pursuit: A Novel - Steve Berry
  22. Chimera - Rob Thurman
  23. Clockers - Professor Richard Price
  24. Codgerspace - Alan Dean Foster
  25. A Cold Heart - Jonathan Kellerman
  26. Corsair - Clive Cussler, Jack Du Brul
  27. Cyber Way - Alan Dean Foster
  28. Cyclops (Dirk Pitt Adventures) - Clive Cussler
  29. Dark Delicacies - Del Howison, Jeff Gelb
  30. Dark: Stories Of Madness, Murder And The Supernatural - Clint Willis
  31. Dead City - Joe Mckinney
  32. Dead Waters - Anton Strout
  33. Death Masks - Jim Butcher
  34. Deep As The Marrow - F. Paul Wilson
  35. Deep Storm - Lincoln Child
  36. Demon Bound - Caitlin Kittredge
  37. Dirk Pitt Revealed - Clive Cussler, Craig Dirgo
  38. Disappearing Nightly - Laura Resnick
  39. Divine Misfortune – A. Lee Martinez
  40. Dog Days - John Levitt
  41. Dragon - Clive Cussler
  42. Dying Bites – D D Barant
  43. Dying Blows – D D Barant
  44. Duma Key - Stephen King
  45. Evil Ways - Justin Gustainis
  46. Fangs For The Mammaries - Esther M. Friesner
  47. Feed - Mira Grant
  48. Firebirds: An Anthology Of Original Fantasy And Science Fiction - Sharyn November, Sherwood Smith, Lloyd Alexander, Nancy Springer, Meredith Ann Pierce, Michael Cadnum, Kara Dalkey, Patricia A. McKillip, Nancy Farmer, Garth Nix, Nina Kiriki Hoffman
  49. First Lord's Fury - Jim Butcher
  50. Four Dark Nights - Bentley Little, Douglas Clegg, Christopher Golden, Tom Piccirilli
  51. From Hell With Love - Simon R Green
  52. The Fuller Memorandum – Charles Stross
  53. Ghost Story – Jim Butcher
  54. Golden Buddha - Clive Cussler, Craig Dirgo
  55. Gone (Alex Delaware Novels) - Jonathan Kellerman
  56. The Good, The Bad, And The Uncanny - Simon R. Green
  57. The Great Train Robbery - Michael Crichton
  58. The Grimrose Path - Rob Thurman
  59. Ground Zero (Repairman Jack) - F. Paul Wilson
  60. The Gun Seller - Hugh Laurie
  61. Hard Spell - Justin Gustainis
  62. Heartless- Gail Carriger
  63. Hocus Pocus - Kurt Vonnegut
  64. The Hunger - Whitley Strieber
  65. Infernal Affairs - Jes Battis
  66. Julian Comstock - Robert Charles Wilson
  67. Killing Rocks – D D Barant
  68. Lawless - Dick Lochte, Christopher Darden
  69. Life Form - Alan Dean Foster
  70. Mad Skills - Walter Greatshell
  71. Magic Slays - Ilona Andrews
  72. The Man Who Used The Universe - Alan Dean Foster
  73. Masque - F. Paul Wilson, Matthew J. Costello
  74. Masques - Patricia Briggs
  75. Mercy Blade – Faith Hunter
  76. The Metrognome And Other Stories - Alan Dean Foster
  77. Micah (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: Book 13) - Laurell K. Hamilton
  78. Midworld - Alan Dean Foster
  79. Mirage - F. Paul Wilson, Matthew J. Costello
  80. Monster Hunter Alpha – Larry Correia
  81. The Navigator - Paul Kemprecos, Clive Cussler
  82. Night Probe! - Clive Cussler
  83. Night Train to Rigel - Timothy Zahn
  84. Nor Crystal Tears - Alan Dean Foster
  85. Pandemic - Daniel Kalla
  86. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
  87. Phoenix Rising - Pip Ballantine
  88. Pirate Latitudes - Michael Crichton
  89. Polar Shift - Clive Cussler, Paul Kemprecos
  90. Realms Of The Arcane - Brian M. Thomsen
  91. The Road - Cormac McCarthy
  92. Saturn's Children - Charles Stross
  93. Serpent's Storm - Amber Benson
  94. Shotgun Sorceress - Lucy A. Snyder
  95. Silver Borne - Patricia Briggs
  96. Skinwalker: A Jane Yellowrock Novel - Faith Hunter
  97. Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson
  98. Soulless - Gail Carriger
  99. Space Viking - H. Beam Piper
  100. Spartan Gold - Clive Cussler, Grant Blackwood
  101. Spellbent - Lucy A. Snyder
  102. The Starry Wisdom - D.M. Mitchell, Campbell Ramsey, Alan Moore, J. G. Ballard, Grant Morrison, William S. Burroughs, John Coulthart, James Havoc, Brian Lumley
  103. Terminal Freeze - Lincoln Child
  104. Through Stone And Sea - Barb Hendee, J.C. Hendee
  105. The Touch - F. Paul Wilson
  106. Truthseeker – C.E. Murphy
  107. Twice Shy - Dick Francis
  108. What Distant Deeps – David Drake
  109. White Shark - Peter Benchley
  110. Wild Turkey - Michael Hemmingson
  111. With Friends Like These... - Alan Dean Foster
  112. Wolfsbane - Patricia Briggs
  113. You've Been Warned - James Patterson, Howard Roughan

What can I can I say, it's been a slow summer...

Current Mood: contemplativeBookish
08 September 2011 @ 11:57 am
I'm curious to know what everyone read this summer. Here's what I managed to read during the summer of 2011 (along with an Amazon link and a brief summary):

1. Known to Evil by Walter Mosley (Genre: Fiction Mystery): The second novel in the detective Leonid McGill series. New York private eye Leonid McGill is hired to check up on a vulnerable young woman, all he discovers is a bloody crime scene-and the woman gone missing. His client doesn't want her found. I give it a B-

2. Player One: What is to Become of Us by Douglas Coupland (Fiction): A real-time, five-hour story set in an airport cocktail lounge during a global disaster. I give it a B

3. Supreme Courtship by Christopher Buckley (Fiction): After having all of his Supreme Court nominees rejected by a contentious senate, an unpopular President nominates a TV judge. Not as funny as I expected, I give it a C.

4. The President and the Assassin by Scott Miller (Non-Ficton: History): The history geek in me loved this retelling of the story of President William McKinley, his assassination and the paths that President and assassing took to converge. I give it a B+

5. Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base by Annie Jacobsen (Non-Fiction: History): A very interesting history of Area 51 and the author's explanation of what really happened with the alleged alien crash and why the base is so secret. I'm not sure I believe all of it, but it was a very interesting book to read. I give it a B.

6. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (Non-fiction: wellness): the author sets incremental goals over a year to increase her overall wellness and happiness. It starts out very good, but lost momentum for me. I give it a C+

7. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes by Deepak Chopra (Non-fiction: wellness): Deepak Chopra with his son Gotham, author and cofounder of Liquid Comics, discuss seven laws (character assets really) that govern the realm of superheroes both ancient and modern, and their relevance to our daily lives. It was okay, but not life-changing. I'll give it a C+

8. Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell (Non-Fiction: History): the best book I read all summer. I fell in love with Sarah Vowell's writing, it's funny and amusing while at the same time very educational. In this book she writes about her travels to historical spots where Presidents Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley were assassinated. I know that sounds dark and dire, but the way Sarah Vowell writes cracks me up. I now crave more of her writing. I give this an A.

What about you? Please let the rest of us know what you read this summer either in a comment to this entry or by your own journal entry. Thanks.
Current Mood: contentcontent
Current Music: Elvis Costello-"Every Day I Write The Book"
23 July 2011 @ 10:50 pm
I love monkeys. That’s probably the most important thing you need to know about me, but I guess some of you will need a titch more to go on. I normally have a standard shpeel to sell myself, but I figure I’ll wing it, not like the drought on LJ is giving you much to choose from anyway. I have a permanent account. I plan on being here awhile. I love FB and I’m sure other sites will come and go, but I can always come to my LJ and find a sense of myself and community that can’t be found elsewhere.

My posts are almost never this long, but at least I'm amusing...I think I'm amusing anyway. Collapse )
11 June 2011 @ 11:29 pm
Summer officially begins on June 21st in this hemisphere, so it's time to think about what will be on our list for summer reading. What's on your summer reading list? Here are 5 books that I'd like to read this summer, time permitting.


1. Player One: What is to Happen to Us by Douglas Coupland: a recovering alcoholic, a divorcée, a church-fund embezzler, a beautiful android-like woman, and a man who is distinguished by his prickly demeanor converge in an airport cocktail lounge at the precise moment when the Apocalypse happens. Quirky and cerebral. I love pretty much everything that Douglas Coupland writes, so I'm looking forward to this book.

2. When the Thrill is Gone by Walter Mosley: the next installment in the Leonid McGill mystery series.


3. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin: the author sets incremental goals over a year to increase her overall wellness and happiness.

4. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes by Deepak Chopra: Deepak Chopra with his son Gotham, author and cofounder of Liquid Comics, decode the seven essential laws that govern the realm of superheroes both ancient and modern, cosmic and commercial, and explain their relevance, importance, and perhaps most critically, how to apply them to our daily lives.

5. The Bullpen Gospels by Dirk Hayhurst: the author's hilarious and moving account of life in baseball's glamour-free bush leagues.

So what about you, what's on your summer reading list?
Current Location: In the bedroom with Abby
Current Mood: sleepysleepy
Current Music: Elvis Costello-"Every Day I Write the Book"
03 February 2011 @ 03:53 pm
I just finished reading The Last Campaign by Zachary Karabell, a book about how Harry Truman won the 1948 US Presidential election, even after all the polls and media predicted his defeat. The book isn't for everyone, but if you're a history buff, this is an excellent read. Following is a review of the book that I wrote on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca :

Harry Truman was the last of his kind, Thomas Dewey was ahead of his time. Truman gave 'em hell, lambasting his opponents with vitriol and vinegar. Dewey took the high road and ran a gentlemanly campaign. The public grew to like Truman's plain speech, and came to see Dewey as too pristine, as someone who people were never sure of what he was all about. Truman was made to press the flesh at a time when television was about to make that kind of campaigning obsolete. Dewey was the perfect candidate for television, polished and attractive, at a time before there was a tv set in every living room.

Author Zachary Karabell writes an intelligent, informative and very readable account of how Harry Truman snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. When victory looked impossible for Truman, his base being gnawed at from the left and from the right by two strong third party candidates, and when every media outlet had declared victory for Dewey long before a single vote was cast, Karabell tells us how Truman whistled past his political graveyard and followed a strategy designed to attract blue collar labor support in the cities as well as rural agricultural votes, and how he managed to hang on to most of the left as well as a good portion of the south. Karabell clearly explains how Truman had a plan and how he struck to it, never wavering.

The book also tells us much about the other candidates: Dewey the gentleman farmer, former crime buster and mama's boy too closely allied with the elites in the east; Henry Wallace, the leftist who wasn't afraid of being labelled as a communist, a label that stuck to him and kept his campaign from getting off the ground; and Strom Thurmond, the wiley southern governor with an eye for beauty queens and for self-promotion.

This book has its share of humorous anecdotes. Karabell's description of an unfortunate incident at the Democratic Convention involving pigeons trapped in a floral display in a hot convention hall is worth the price of the book alone. But the real genius is Karabell explaining how all of Truman's strategies would backfire on him in his next term, as well as the pitfalls of 1948 style polling methods.

This book is nothing short of brilliant, time spent reading it is time well spent.

Current Mood: accomplished
Current Music: Keb Mo-"The Times They Are A Changing"