Books I’ve Read

7/28/09

The Plot Against America by Philip Roth

This is actually my second try with this book, which is pretty rare for me.  I don’t usually revisit a book (see my notes on The Terror about giving up on a book).  This book has a large amount of description and is hard to wade through in print.  The second time I tried it as an audio book.  This allowed me to let the description wash over me and still find useful information in it.

The book itself is another alternative history book, a “what if” retelling of history beginning with the 1940 US presidential election.  The winner this time is not FDR, but Lucky Lindy.  The story goes on to show the beginnings of worrisome anti-Semitic programs.  The great part is that the author focuses on one single family and their fortunes.   The audio book is well read in a Newark accent that is as wonderful as can be to the ear.

The only down side is that the ending seems rushed and ham-handed.  Too much information and an awkward conclusion to the problems presented in the book.  But well worth the read.

7/17/09

The Terror by Dan Simmons

I ended up really liking this book, but I nearly put it down.  I have a rule that if you haven’t captured my attention in the first 10 percent of a book, then I’m not going to keep reading.

But if you are willing to keep at it, this book is actually very interesting.  The book is historical fiction, and it is based on the actual journey of the HMS Terror and her sister ship as they tried to find the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific over the top of Canada.

The ships are frozen in the ice and deaths begin to happen.  There are supernatural elements as well as great description of 19th Century ships/explorers.  The expedition’s end and the final chapters are well worth the wait.  I highly recommend this book.

6/24/09

In At The Death by Harry Turtledove

Harry Turtledove is the master of the alternative fiction genre.  This book is the conclusion of a long series of books that cover three wars in his fictional North America.  He starts with the South winning the War of Succession (Civil War).  His characters in all of the books including this one are rich and vibrant, although few ever change much.  His settings are well developed and his knowledge of military structure and tactics is great.  The books are enjoyable, but this final one ends very predictably.

If you like alternate history books, you should start with the first book in the series, How Few Remain.

(I’m currently listening to The Terror and plan to read Shift)

6/17/09

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

I wasn’t going to put books on this list that I had already read and were simply re-reading.  But this is one of the first times that I’ve read a book a second time and liked it more than the first time.  As a fan of the series, I had outrageously high expectations for this book when I bought it the day it was first available.  I read it as fast as I could (I had to share the book with my wife and daughter).  I was disappointed.  I think this book needs to be savored and read without any expectations.

This time, I listened to it on audio and I had to take it at a slower speed.  No skimming or speed reading is allowed.  And I found the book to be more enchanting than the first time.  There was a lot more action in the book than I remembered.  The section where the three main characters go into “exile” is not as long as I had remembered it either.  And finally, the all important ending is more satisfying and actually completes the circle well.  Anyone who has read this book once and read too quickly might want to revisit the final year of the HP saga and take their time.

(My next review will be In At The Death by Harry Turtledove)

5/25/09

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

I was nervous about this book because I read somewhere that McCarthy’s prose was sparse and the book was hard to follow.  I disagree.  I loved the “sparse” prose because it wasted few words.  He writes like a journalist, with purpose in each sentence and a hatred for wasted words.

The audiobook is well read and I highly recommend it.  The story itself is bleak and even scary.  Worse than any horror novel I’ve ever read.  The post-apocalyptic world he presents is realistic and terrifying.  But the humanity he shows the reader is both gripping and filled with a love that few will ever know or wish to know.  The book is powerful, espcially for anyone with children of their own.  The book is a fairly quick and easy read.  I read it twice back to back because I enjoyed it so much the first time through.  I highly anticipate the movie based on the book.

Up next The Camel Club by David Baldacci (note – I tried reading this book and gave up, too boring.)

5/18/09

The Gingerbread Girl by Stephen King

This was a really short book for Mr. King, who I really enjoy reading.  On audio it was only two discs.  The book focuses on a young woman who has recently split with her husband and her obsession with running.  She moves into her father’s beach house on a Key (Island) in Florida and runs into a “bad man” as the author puts it.

The book is a quick read/listen and I actually listened to it in three sittings all in one day.  I had to stop at a key point in the plot and was so fully into the story that I had to get back to it as soon as possible.  I’d put this one on a “read soon” list along with the Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon if you haven’t read it.  Both are fast paced, quick reads and more thriller than horror.

5/18/09

I’m going to add this to my blog.  I’ve always been a big read, but lately I’ve had a hard time finding the time.  But my librarian introduced me to audiobooks via the book, The Hunger Games.  I loved it and so I will be adding a book to this page every time I read one.  They will not always be a journalism book, but I will only share books that would be age appropriate for high school students.  Part of the reason for this is that I think that good writers need to be good readers.  They go hand in hand.

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