Monday, August 5, 2013

Summer Reading - June and July

I know that I seem to have dropped off the face of the earth. The bad news is that I haven't found time to blog but the good news is that I have found time to read this summer. I didn't blog about my June reading so I'm going to combine June and July. A number of books I read I thought were somewhat mediocre so I'm not going to say much about them.

1.  Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain. I had this novel for a while but couldn't bring myself to read it because it was about a guy who had been in Iraq. I just wasn't in the mood for war But I ended up loving this. Billy Lynn is one of a group of soldiers caught in a firefight in Iraq that ends up being caught on video and making "heroes' of them. They are brought home for a quick "hero" tour and that includes attending and being part of the half-time show on the Thanksgiving Day Dallas Cowboys football game. Billy tries to make sense of why everyone wants a piece of him during this long day. Fountain captures just the right tone for this novel. Highly Recommended.

2.  Three mysteries by Eliot Pattinson:  Bone Rattler, Eye of the Raven and Original Death  I was attracted to this series because it is set in upstate New York during the French and Indian War.  Not many books (much less mysteries) are set during that time period.  In general I liked these books and I will read the next one when it comes out.  But I was sometimes irritated by how the Iroquois were always noble in these stories.  I also found the plot of the third book ludicrous - I realize that Brits in the 1700's were tremendously anti-Catholic and so a character expounding about a plot by the Jesuits in the Vatican to defeat the British wasn't completely outside the bounds of possibility.  But [spoiler] - it is ludicrous that the author decided to make it the real plot and not just the delusion of a character.  Recommended with reservations.

3.  A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin.    All I can say is that Martin needs an editor who will stand up to him.  This is one of those series where I am enjoying the TV show more than the books.   Meh

4.  The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde.  This is the first book in a young adult series by Fforde.  I decided to read it while I waited for the sequel to Shades of Grey to (finally) come out (will it EVER come out)?   I have actually gotten tired of Fforde's Thursday Next series so it was nice to read one of his books and really enjoy it.  I will read more.  Recommended.

5.  Murphy's Law by Rhys Bowen.  This is the first in a series of mysteries set in early 20th century New York.  The main character is an Irish immigrant and this book spends some time in Ireland, England and on shipboard as she makes her way to America.  Once here she encounters Tammany Hall and many of the immigrants that populated New York at the time.  I feel like this has some possibilities as a mystery series even though I wasn't particularly interested in the plot of this particular book.  Rhys Bowen does a pretty good job of creating the historical world in which the story is set and that makes up for the weak plot.  Somewhat recommended.

6.  Bride of New France by Suzanne DesRochers.   This author turned an academic paper into a novel.  It would have been more interesting as an academic paper.  Meh.

7.  Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman.   This is the first novel I've read by Neil Gaiman and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was funny.  I'm not sure why I didn't expect that, but I didn't.  Recommended

8.  Malice of Fortune by Michael Ennis.  Machiavelli as detective and Leonardo da Vinci as the forensic expert - sounded great in theory.  In practice it was booooring.  Meh

9.  The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussan.   I nice little book where old ladies remember when they were young and how they ended up how they ended up.  I can't really recommend it but there was nothing particularly wrong with it.  Meh.

That's it so far for the summer, but my August reading stack of books is looking pretty good.  I've finished a couple so far but I'll blog about them at the end of the month.