Saturday, August 21, 2010

Reading Roundup


Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris.  The short version: unusual narrative device (first person plural) places the reader inside the action in a most immediate manner.  Think there's no action in an office?  Well think again...or better yet, read the book.  Click here for the review.

Breathing Water by Timothy Hallinan.  The short version: while playing poker in a police sting--helping out his best friend Arthit, an honest Bangkok cop--ex-pat journalist Poke Rafferty wins the exclusive rights to write the biography of a very bad man.  Can any good come of this?  As always, the action is top-notch and the characters--especially the interplay among Poke, his family, and Arthit-- beautiful and moving (yeah, I cried...more than once).  This volume brings back street urchin Boo (formerly known as Superman), a terrific character introduced in A Nail Through the Heart.



Haven't devoted much time to Savages by Don Winslow this week.  I'll get back to it soon, though.

Still plugging away, a couple of pages a day, at Odd Hours by Dean Koontz.  I don't often read Dean Koontz, finding him to be (my apologies to the legions of rabid Koontz fans out there, with many of whom I'm personally acquainted) kind of a poor man's Peter Straub.  But Pete brought this one home to me, and I started reading it one evening when I'd forgotten to bring my book downstairs and I was waiting for the dogs to eat their evening kibble.  Much to my surprise, I found Odd Thomas' voice to be engaging and original, and while his talent (he sees dead people) has been done before, Koontz seems to have put a fresh spin on it.  So we're going to give this one a whirl.  

I admit it.  I am often drawn to books because of their covers.  I picked this one up at a library sale because of the delicious cover design by Chipp Kidd.  Turns out, when you remove the wrapper the book is bound not just in regular cloth-covered boards, but with a scrumptious, glossy continuation of the super-hero costume theme seen above.  Then I learned that Austin Grossman is the brother of journalist and novelist Lev Grossman, whose most recent novel, The Magicians was a bit of a hit last summer.  And now I'm halfway through this sly behind-the-scenes (aches, pains, petty bickering, rivalries, waning powers and all) tale of super-heroes and super-villains and I'm loving it.


My favorite book to come into the house this week was The Queen of Patpong by Timothy Hallinan.  Why was it my favorite?  Well, first and foremost, Tim's Poke Rafferty thrillers are tops; they're intelligent, well-plotted and well-written, with beautifully realized, deeply felt characters.  Secondly, I was lucky enough to meet Tim at another author's book signing last Sunday (Stephen Jay Schwartz, for the paperback edition of his first novel Boulevard...what a coup for this fangirl to score two writers in one fell swoop), and he very kindly signed both of the books I brought with me and, as if that weren't enough, sent me an inscribed copy of this, his latest (just out this past Tuesday).  

I grabbed this one out of a box at the Lomita Friends of the Library sale because it's been recommended on the post-apocalyptic literature group I frequent on LibraryThing.  Wasn't too worried about the fact that the dust jacket has been price-clipped (though it's otherwise in perfect condition) or what edition it is.  I just wanted to read it.  But, when I reflexively turned to the title page to check the edition (it's a first), lo and behold, I discovered that it's signed by the author.  For a buck.

Also a title being bandied about by the folks in my post-apocalyptic discussion group.  Kind of hard to find, I ordered this one from Alibris (where you can find some great things, but which doesn't have the best customer service in the world).

I always pick up Joyce Carol Oates stuff.  I just like her.  And this one is inscribed, "To Michelle--Joyce Carol Oates."  Nice.


 And a few miscellaneous, but cool, titles.  Some to read, some to sell...some for both.

1 comment:

EnriqueFreeque said...

A signed first of Never Let Me Go! It is written, "Thou shalt not covet the Book Frog's autographed books". But I'm coveting that one! Wow. Future classic, that book. I hope no one (or no review) has ruined the surprise that book shocks into the uninitiated. Hit me hard, and I knew (sort of) what was coming.

You are not alone in grabbing books based on their book covers I admit it too!