Saturday, December 25, 2010

Book Report #6 of 26

London Boulevard
by
Ken Bruen

Another good read from an Irish crime author known for his violent and dark novels.

In this book Mitchell is released from prison.  He then walks a fine line between is old life and the new one he's trying to create.  He does not want to go back to prison but his old life keeps tugging at him; dragging him into situations that he barely has control over.

Much of his past is revealed to be not like he thought it was and once the body count starts we are lead in one direction only to have the whole story take a tilt that is surprising and satisfying.  In many ways the ending gave a real feeling of just what Mitchell was dealing with all along.  His revelations through out the story were not all that surprising to the reader, because we've read some of it before but the twist ending gave a real sense of how all of the previous surprises really felt to him.

It was a very satisfying read.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Book Report #5 of 26 - The Bobbly Gold Stories by Anthony bourdain

The Bobby Gold Stories
by
Anthony Bourdain

This was an interesting novel suggested to me by my sister Janick.

Anthony Bourdain is a world-famous chef.  He's been on the Food Network and now the Travel Channel and is best known for eating outrageous foods from around the world.  He's very charismatic and, I'm sure, pisses many, many people off.  He's obviously very intelligent and self-confident to the point of arrogance.  But he's also very compelling to watch.

My sister told me, a few weeks ago, that he is also an author of crime fiction.  "You've got to be kidding. He's a cook!.  What could he possibly write about?"  I already knew that he'd written a few memoirs but fiction is another kind of writing. 

The Bobby Gold Stories is his third novel. It could easily have been published by Gold Medal Books if this were the 50's.  The book is short, 165 pages, and the first two chapters will grab you by the throat and shake you around the room.  The pacing is lightning fast and the atmosphere is so authentic you can hear and smell the locations the book is set in.

Set in modern times, in New York City, the book follows Bobby Gold from prison to being an enforcer for a small-time crime boss named Eddie Fish.  Fish owns a night club that Bobby runs security for, Fish is also a loan-shark and Bobby has to sometimes "encourage" payment from his customers.

Bobby Gold is good at what he does, even though he doesn't like the job as much any more.   But Bobby's life is about to change when he meets Nikki; a cook in the night club.

The story is fun, the dialog jumps off the page and the story is interesting in that it does not go where you'd expect.  One of the things I like about the book is what it leaves out; you can be in the middle of an action scene and Bourdain just fades out and skips ahead a few months.  This has the combined effect of keeping you reading to find out how things ended up and you get the feeling that Bourdain was thinking, "You know how this goes, blah, blah, blah.  Let me tell you what happens next."  But the effect was a good one; the story was told in a fresh way which I enjoyed.

The best moment, for me, that set the tone of the whole book was chapter 2.  Oh my God!  That was tense.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Book Report #4 of 26

by

 Wow! 

This was N-O-I-R. 

Nice and dark; filled with interesting characters.  

Joe Hope is an enforcer for a loan-shark named Cooper.  The phone rings and Joe's world turns upside-down when he hears that his daughter has been found dead, an apparent suicide.  To make maters worse, on the heels of this news, he is also framed for a murder.



Joe must find out who did this to him and why and he'll do it on his own terms.

The book is set in modern times, it's not a reprinted pulp from the 50's but a contemporary thriller set in Edinburgh, Scotland.  

At the final climax of the story my heat was racing and I had to put the book down for a few minute, make myself a pot of coffee and catch my breath before I could finish the story.

This book was a lot of fun and you can bet I'll be looking for my from this author.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Book Report 3 of 26 - Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller by Jeff Rubin

Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller by Jeff Rubin.

Anybody who knows me knows that I am fascinated by peak oil.  My dad lived in fear of losing his job, I fear the decline of oil production and how that is going to effect everything!

The book is sobering but still has and under-current of optimism.  Rubin believes that we will find a way to live with expensive energy and food prices by going local.  He predicts the end of globalization which was only possible with cheap oil.

I thought he did not spend enough time discussing what life would look and feel like post-oil and I thought he could have expanded on alternative sources of power.  But he's not a social scientist or an expert in alternative energy, he's an economist, so he stuck to writing about what he knows.

After reading the book I went downstairs and unplugged the deep-freeze which sits nearly empty nearly all the time.  A tiny reduction in my carbon foot-print.

The book is not all gloom and doom as most other books on the subject are.  It's the first one that has taken the time to look at what life would be like after we reach the oil production peak.

The other consequence that he neatly left out of the book is the possibility that we won't get off the oil bus in an orderly fashion.  The basic assumption he takes is that everybody will simply shrug at higher fuel costs, leave the car in the driveway and either take the bus, bike or simply walk to work.   But the very real possibility is that countries will go to war over access to oil reserves.  Society could easily turn into a pack of wolves fighting over a bone.  But that's another subject.

If you've never thought about the subject of peak oil then I would suggest reading this book.  It's very informative and hopeful.

Mulholland Books


There's a new publisher that I'm really excited about.

Mulholland Books will start publishing crime and suspense fiction in the spring.




They have a wonderful blog at:

http://www.mulhollandbooks.com



And they've recently teamed up with a short fiction website called Popcorn Fiction.

There is a story there that I really like that I want to share with you. It's called "Here I sit, broken hearted" by Sam Reaves.


It'll only take you five minutes to read, trust me.

 Go here to read it:

http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/popcornfiction/stories/Here_I_Sit_Broken-Hearted_by_Sam_Reaves.html

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Book report 2 of 26 - Heat Wave by Richard Castle


 
This is the first book to spin off of the Castle TV show and I recommend to read it first (not something I did) as the second books' tone will make more sense.

In any case - I enjoyed the book for the same reasons that I enjoyed Naked Heat; you have the "character"of Richard Castle writing a fiction based on the characters in the TV show.  Confused?  Don't be just start watching Castle on Monday nights - you can jump right in the show at any point.

I just wish I knew who is the ghost writer for the series - it's a lot of fun.

Next up - Non-Fiction.  Yikes!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Book Report #1 - Naked Heat by Richard Castle (1 of 26)

Click HERE to buy it on Amazon.ca
Hey, I met my first deadline early!  I gave myself plenty of time to get into the swing of things; my target date was the 28th.  I really had to focus on getting the book read, it's amazing just how many distractions there are in a day.

I'm a big fan of the ABC show "Castle" which starts Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic.  On the show Richard Castle, played by Fillion, is a famous mystery writer who gets himself teamed up with Detective Kate Beckett, played by Katic.  He follows Beckett and her team around for inspiration for a new book series that he is writing.

With many successful TV shows and movies you can eventually find what are known as tie-in books.  Which are usually just extra stories starring the characters form the show.  What makes this tie-in different is that the book is actually in the show itself.  There is no actual Richard Castle; Fillion is a fine actor but I'm sure he's no author, ABC is keeping the lid on who is actually doing the ghost writing but, to the shows' credit, the books are becoming best-sellers in their own right.

In the show, Castle bases his characters on the people of the NYPD that he is shadowing.  If you're a fan of the show these books (there are two, this being book two) are a fun read.  You get to see why some of the characters on the show are upset with what he writes.  It's a wonderful twist on a tie-in.

If you're not a fan of the show you won't have as much fun with it because the book relies on you having some exposure to the relationships of the TV characters.  But it does stand on it's own as a decent read.  I would suggest watching the show because it is first rate to begin with.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Reading Challenge

It's been nearly a month since my last post and I can happily say that nothing has happened.  For weeks now the only exciting thing that's been going on is the weekly grocery shop.  I can't tell you how nice it feels knowing that I'll not starve for the next seven days.

It may sound like whining but really it's not.  Nothing happening means that everything is working out like it should.  It might be a bit boring but that's what TV, movies and books are for, right?

To that end; this is where I'm deleting the 52 Movies In 52 Weeks campaign.   I achieved the goal a long time ago but Sue is proving a tough nut to crack.  She'd just rather NOT go to the movies, unless it's really compelling to her.  So instead of trying to bend other people to my will I've decided to set a new challenge for myself.

BOOKS!

I love to read, but I just don't have the time and when I do, it's usually in bed.  So now my brain associates reading with sleep and whenever I sit down with a good book I fall asleep!  This can't go on.  I buy far too many books and I never get to reading them.  So, my challenge to myself is this:

26 books (cover to cover) in 26 bi-weekly periods! 

Okay, it doesn't exactly roll of the tongue but I thought 12 books in 12 months to not be enough of a challenge and 52 far too many.  I get paid every two weeks and that should be a comfortable length of time to read a book

I don't know what I'm going to do about discarded/abandoned books and how that effects the two week deadline but I will list them with a reason as to why I stopped reading the book.

To link my reading with my paydays I'll say that I have to get my first book read by November the 26.

So that's it.  Nothing keeps happening so in order to make "something" happen I'm starting a reading challenge.

Cheers!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Blood Work by Michael Connelly - Book Review

This morning I finished Blood Work by Michael Connelly (one of my favorite authors). 

This novel was made into a movie back in 2002 which I missed completely.  I'll have to chase down the DVD of this one. 

The story is about an ex FBI agent who finds out a terrible truth about the heart transplant he's just gone through. 

Nearly 500 pages long it moved like a book half its length.  I really liked this one.

Recommended.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Indiana Jones and the Secret of the Sphinx by Max McCoy

I dusted off my copy of  Indiana Jones and the Secret of the Sphinx by Max McCoy.

This was a good one; the book started right in the middle of a discovery and just keep going.

 Indy is in a race to find the Omega Book an artifact that tells the destiny of every human being.  Powerful stuff if it winds up in the wrong hands. 

It felt like it could have been a movie.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Home is the Sailor by Day Keen



Home is the Sailor by Day Keene first published in 1952 and re-printed, by my favorite publisher, Hard Case Crime in 2005.

It's the story of a sailor who retires and wants to settle down.  He meets a nice woman who then gets him to do things he would never have been capable of in the past.

I kept wondering just when he would wake up and see what was going on.

A pretty good read.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Hunt: Beyond the Frozen Fire by Gabriel Hunt

Here's a run down of what was read and seen for the past couple of days

Wow!  A modern day Indiana Jones!  There were even evil Amazon Nazi women in a hidden valley of Antarctica complete with a Nazi dooms-day machine pointed at Washington, DC!

Too bad it was still boring.

This is the second book in the Hunt series, that I've read, and the second one that I found dull beyond words.  I would have stopped reading both books but I want to believe in the publisher and so I keep reading right to the end.

I have one more book on the shelf but I'll wait before I try this series again.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sanctuary by Ken Bruen - Book Review

As you know I love my crime fiction.  Make it dark, make it mean, but don't give me psychopaths or insane serial killers. 

One of my favorite authors is Ken Bruen who lives in Galway, Ireland.  His Jack Taylor series is set in Galway and is steeped in Irish culture.  There are currently seven books in this series and Sanctuary is the latest one.

This one breaks my "no serial killers" rule but this killer is different and not killing for the fun of it.  Plus it clocks in at a thin 223 pages which is my kind of page count.


Ken Bruen

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Book Review - Queenpin by Magan Abbott

Books are a passion for me, which is interesting considering how long it can take me to read one.  If only I could be like Maddy and blast through one in a weekend.  Man, I'd be reading all the time!

I will stick with a book though, I can't think of many that I've out-right quit reading.

The buzz in the crime fiction world these days is all about Megan Abbott.  She writes neo-noir with these wonderful painted covers, just like in the hey-day of trash paperbacks.  Abbott won the 2008 Edgar award for her book Queenpin.  It won in the Best Paperback Original category.  So I was pretty confident that I'd enjoy it.

I am sad to say that I never really got into it and I can't understand why.  It had everything going for it; from the period to depiction of life in organized crime, there's even a gruesome murder in it but I found it never explored the *crime* that surrounded the main characters.  Abbott kept the characters too distant from me, I never really got into their heads and so the book felt really flat to me and the plot kind of wondered around with out any convincing reasons for why certain events happened at all.

I was disapointed.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynski

On a recent visit to my parents, I was able to spend some time reading.

One of my favorite authors is Duane Swierczynski I've read all his books except his first, Secret Dead Men.

His latest is Expiration Date which is a wonderful twist of a book: a murder mystery / time travel story.  The book is old school in that it also has illustrations sprinkled around it.  I tore through it in the time I was there and I was very happy with the story but disappointed that it ended.  I could have kept reading for another 300 pages.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine - Read It.

I finished reading a back issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine from June 2004.  Here is the cover and the table of contents.  Notice the story form Stephen King.




As always just click on the picture to get a larger image.

That's all for now.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Book Review - Thuglit Presents: Hardcore Hardboiled




First the book; I've been listing each individual story that I read from the fantastic Hardcore Hardboiled but I'll remove those stories from the list and simply add the book itself.

Some stories missed the mark but that only amounted to 3 of the 24.  One in particular stood out and I've since purchased the authors four novels directly from the publisher.  It was Rescuing Isaac by Frank Zafiro.  His novels are set in the same city as the story so it will be like going back to a familiar place when I read the novels.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What I Read - Crime Fiction

Anybody who knows me knows that I love two genera: Crime Fiction and Science Fiction.

I read for the enjoyment of the pass-time. I love to be flung into worlds I know nothing about and to watch an adventure in that world. In the case of crime fiction, I love the heist; this is the most fun; the lovable smart criminal who hurts no one but gets away with the money.

I also love the grit and violence that comes in drug trade stories. THAT is one scary world buddy! Never mind vampires, monsters or serial killers. Gimme a mean mother fucker with a gun and a pile of coke and my heart will race 'cause I'm scared. I'd piss my pants if I was flung into that kind of world.

In science fiction I love a good vs evil romp with space ships and smart-assery. I usually don't go for aliens, my best SF stories don't have gimmicks like that, just everyday Joe's who are trying to make a living with ships that break down and need fixing. A perfect alien culture, to me, is another world that has been populated with humans that want self-determination and the conflict that comes with that.

Give me gritty crime/science fiction and I'm yours. The best movie to describe that is Blade Runner and the best TV show is Firefly.


Three Crime Websites I Love



For straight ahead detective fiction go to The Thrilling Detective Website. The website is published like a magazine complete with a cool cover. All you have to do is click on a title and it will bring you right to the story. Thrilling Detective is a labour of love and is published infrequently but don't let that stop you, after you've read the current issue you can dive in to the bottomless archive to get your fill of detective fiction.

Under the current cover look for a bunch of links click on the "fiction" link and you'll be sent to a page with every issue laid out, in order of publication. Just scroll down the page and you'll see it all. This guy has been publishing since 1998!



Plots With Guns is another great site, published quarterly also with a bottomless archive. Here is how they describe themselves:




PLOTS WITH GUNS is an online literary journal for noir & transgressive fiction, as long as it has a gun in it somehow, some way.
Minimum Word Count: 2000 // Maximum word count: 10000
No pay, but if accepted, the Editor owes the Author a drink next time he sees him or her.

Cool, eh?



The last one I'll tell you about is the hardest of hard-boiled; Thug Lit. To enter the site you are greeted with brass knuckles (just so you are not confused.)


This is crime fiction - bad guys doing bad things and using bad language. It's like opening a window after a long winter; refreshing!  These stories get right to it in 5000 words or less.

This site is also laid out like a magazine, just click on the title and a PDF pops up. The PDF makes this website easily transportable to an e-reader or just off-line reading on your computer or laptop.

If you like crime fiction these websites are my favorites.

Cheers!