Friday, July 23, 2010

Forty Down, More Awards

Hey look, at some point I read ten more books. Only one was actually on my recommended reading list, which has expanded from 60 to 80. Eyes on the prize, man, eyes on the prize...

Here are the last ten books, in no particular order:
Wistrix Donn by Peter DeVries
Blasphemy by Douglas C Preston
The Cherokee Trail by Louis L'Amour
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
Christ the Lord by Anne Rice
Goblin War by Jim C. Hines
The Game by Ken Dryden
Diamonds are Forever by Ian Fleming
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl
Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming

Remember, everybody's a winner here at WAR. Which only cheapens the entire experience.

The "WHO wrote this?" award goes to..
The Game.
Or, more specifically, to Ken Dryden, who has got to be one of the most intelligent, eloquent professional athletes in North American history. (I'd say "In history," but I'll bet all those crazy naked Greeks could probably wax philosophical with the best of them) Seriously a must-read for any sports fan who cares about what goes on beyond the field of play.

The "Well, at least it isn't another vampire story" award goes to...
Christ the Lord (the book, not the Man) by Anne Rice
It wasn't a great book, nor was it particularly well written, but hey, at least Rice gifted the world with something other than yet another vampire novel. Because there are far too many printed pages devoted to vampires of every mythology these days. I mean, the X-Men are currently fighting vampires. I wish I were joking.

The "You can't say I didn't warn you" award goes to...
Blasphemy, by Douglas Preston.
The book wasn't technically blasphemous. It's hard for a work of fiction to be truly blasphemous. Nevertheless, with that title, you really should have a pretty good idea what you're in for if you are of any particular religious persuasion.

The "Weaponized Shark" award goes to...
Live and Let Die, by Ian Fleming
Seriously. So many clever ways of killing and maiming people in this book. Mr. Big was one legitimately bad dude and a worthy foil to Bond, and I think it made this book stronger than any of the other Bond books I've read.

The "Everyone's a hero in their own way" award goes to...
Wistrix Donn, by Peter DeVries their own not-that-heroic way...

The "Yeah, I just had space aliens devour humans in your kid's book. What of it?" award goes to...
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl. Because, you know, he has space aliens devour humans. With crunching and screaming and everything.

The "Hotel Award" goes to...
The Cherokee Trail by Louis L'Amour
Because it was the Best Western. Get it?

The "Always a bridesmaid" award goes to...
Diamonds are Forever by Ian Fleming
Somehow, this book manages to be the runner up in two different categories: It is the 2nd best Bond book on this list and, in a way, the 2nd best Western as well. It was, however, probably the best horse-racing book in this batch, but I found the horse-racing part boring.

The "TMI" award goes to...
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
Really, any of King's books could probably win this award. For those who've read it, I'm thinking specifically of the night in the cave after drinking the streamwater. T...M...I...

The "Best Use of the Giving Tree Mythos" award goes to...
Goblin War, by Jim C. Hines
Curious as to why? Read the book. I really don't want to spoil it. But it was wonderful.

Allll righty, that's 40 books checked off the list, here are my 9 favorites so far:

9. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

8. Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph Ellis

7. Goblin War by Jim C. Hines

6. Blood Feud by Adrian Dater

5. The Game by Ken Dryden

4. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

3. Ilium by Dan Simmons

2. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

1. The Stand: Complete and Uncut Edition by Stephen King

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday Update: "Ilya Kovulchuk is actually signing somewhere" update

Have been reading a couple of books, but I had to lay down the fantastic Baseball Codes because I have one ILL book due today and another (Frank Peretti's Prohpet) due Wednesday. But I thought I ought to drop by and give a brief reflection on Peter De Vries' Wistrix Donn.

Book #40 of 80
Wistrix Donn
by Peter De Vries
# of pages: 371
Total pages: 12,639
Avg pages/book: 315.975 (+.415)

Don't read Wistrix Donn by Peter De Vries.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thursday update: Post-vacation edition

Polished off a couple of paperbacks in my last few days of vacation. I'll talk about them here.

Book 38 (of 80)
by Douglas C Preston

I'm learning that "New York Times Bestseller" does not necessarily equal "Good Book." This wasn't a horrible book, but there were points, especially in the early going, that felt really cliched and predictable. Now sometimes, cliche is cliche for a reason, because it works. In most of these instances, however, it felt more like you were traveling a well-worn formula toward a generic blockbuster in terms of characters, relationships, and mysterious suicide/homicides. Sorta been-there, done-that kinda stuff.

This book comes out making evangelicals look pretty bad. The author points out in his note at the end of the book that the novel is not anti-Christian, as the book's hero is a Catholic (the author called him a devout Catholic, but other than saying 'I grew up Catholic and used to be a monk, but I left that because I didn't find God there,' not much in the book seemed to devout about his faith to me), but only anti-bigot. His definition of a bigot, however, appears to be anybody who believes in one religious truth above all others. He takes this premise to what he believes is its only ultimate conclusion: that all who believe in such a premise as "No man comes unto the Father except by Me" will, with a little manipulation and absolutely no free thought, take up arms and kill on sight anyone who will not immediately accept their views.

Obviously, Preston and I will probably never come to agreement on this premise.

A sort of cynical naivety pervaded throughout the book. It was a very quick read, even at 536 pages, and at times managed to build some strong momentum and intrigue. About halfway through, however, the book started to telegraph its ending, and after figuring out the big twist at the end, the final hundred and fifty pages were sort of a jumbled mess, jumping back and forth from philosophical babble to an angry mob of Christians mercilessly executing those who didn't confess Jesus Christ as Lord. Troubling scenes, as they were intended to be, but almost comic in the melodramatic representation of the religiously convicted.

Book 39
The Cherokee Trail
by Louis L'Amour

Okay, look. It's summer vacation. Nothing wrong with a steady diet of hot dogs and cotton candy (or, in this case, fantasy, suspense, and westerns) ;-)

I'd never read a Western before, save for Stephen King's The Gunslinger. My grandfather-in-law practically lives on them, so I asked him for a recommendation. (This because I have a character/story idea I'd like to do someday, but I know practically nothing about the genre) He naturally led me to L'Amour and handed me The Cherokee Trail and another book.

The Cherokee Trail is really not about the Cherokee Trail, though it does take place at a stagecoach stop along that trail. I guess after writing over a hundred and twenty Westerns, titles get harder to come by. The story is about a woman who comes west to manage the station in place of her husband, who was killed by a bunch of guerilla fighters. At first, everyone reacts with the typical "But you're a WOMAN!" mindset, but she's a good cook and a hard worker, and she soon wins everybody over. Constantly proving her worth, Mary Dreyden has to deal with horse thieves, Indians, common jerks, and--dun dun dun!--the man who killed her husband, who is running for governor of Colorado. There's gunfighting, whipfighting, mysteriously dangerous but good heroes, tough orphans, and pretty much everything else you think ought to be in a Western.

So there's that.

Pages: Blasphemy (536) The Cherokee Trail (222) = 758
Total pages: 12,268
Avg pages/book: 315.56 (+3.48)