Mark Terry

Thursday, July 17, 2008

What I've Been Reading

July 17, 2008
Here's a list--with comments--of the last 10 books I've read.

Phantom Prey by John Sandford
Yes, another Lucas Davenport novel. For some reason it's not sticking in my head, but I remember enjoying reading it quite a bit.

House Of Rain: Tracking A Vanished Civilization Across The American Southwest by Craig Childs
It took me a while to get through this, but it's really remarkable. It's essentially about the Anasazi and Craig Childs who is a writer, naturalist and amateur anthropologist/archaeologist, apparently spent several years hiking around the southwest following migratory pathways from Anasazi ruin to Anasazi ruin, talking to archaeologists and Hopi tribal elders and park rangers. Beautifully written, sort of dense, but fascinating.

The Sacred Cut by David Hewson
I tried reading this once before and gave up. In a stubborn streak, I tried it again and decided I really liked it. It's a serial killer book, but it takes place in Rome. It's a very dense, lyrical narrative, part travelogue, historical epic, police procedural and espionage novel. What finally turned the table for me with it was how satisfying I found it to be in the end.

The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
The 4th book in Rick's "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series for middle grades. Wonderful, funny, exciting adventure. If you haven't read this series, start at the beginning--"The Lightning Thief" and catch up. Really, they give Harry Potter a run for their money, which is not fair to either Jo Rowling or Rick Riordan. Just read them because they're good.

The Cold Moon by Jeffery Deaver
A Lincoln Rhyme forensic procedural, and as is the case with Deaver's books, it was good. He's quite reliable in that way. Sometimes he drives me crazy because his books are so long, but they don't sag in the middle or anything, they just go on forever, twist after twist after twist. He's really good at twisting things unexpectedly, and just when I think I've got his tricks figured out, he spins them backwards or inside-out.

Beyond Varallan by SL Viehl
SF--the second book in the SpaceDoc series. I thought this one was a little slow, but I enjoyed it. I went out and bought the 3rd book, primarily because Viehl did such a great job of creating a cliffhanger at the end of this book. SL Viehl also writes romance novels, and I'm pretty aware that the SpaceDoc novels have a romance novel structure driving them beneath all the SF adventure stuff.

Homo Politicus: The Strange And Scary Tribes That Run Our Government by Dana Milbank
Nonfiction, which would be satire if it weren't so damned true. Milbank discusses politicians and politics within a quasi-framework that "Homo Politicus," otherwise known as the Beltway Man, has similarities to various anthropological studies of different cultures around the world, often primitive cultures. Hilarious, disgusting, fascinating. He does a really nice job of putting a lot of political scandals--and day-um, there's a lot of them--into a context of behavior and following up on what became of the figures in them and why. It makes me wonder, though, why the American people don't expect more from their elected officials.

Playing With Fire by Derek Landy
Another middle grades novel, the second to feature Skulduggery Pleasant, a skeleton who is a P.I., and his apprentice, a 13-year-old girl, Valkyrie Cain. I loved the first book and was so-so on this one. I'm not sure if it was just because it wasn't as fresh as the first or if by setting the book entirely in the fictional world rather than both the fictional and real world, it lost some of its effectiveness. I enjoyed it, it's a great adventure, but it just didn't seem to work as well for me as the first one.

The Last Oracle by James Rollins
A Sigma Force novel. Enjoyable, fun, crazy. Rollins has this whole thing going with intuitive powers affiliated with autism and a Russian program to exploit it, Chernobyl, ruthless politicians, gypsies, Greek myths, high technology... definitely a summer reading book.

Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais
An Elvis Cole novel and quite emotional. Elvis seems a lot less flip and funny in this book. A few years earlier he'd been hired to find an alibi for a potential murderer, and he did discover evidence the man couldn't have been where the killing was. Now, years later, that guy apparently committed suicide and has a photo album of seven murders that apparently he committed, including the one Elvis had provided evidence for. Beating himself up over it, he goes head to head with the police to try and figure out what happened. Brooding, dark, hard and short. Really excellent, but the tone's darker than most Elvis Cole novels.

Cheers,
Mark Terry

5 Comments:

Blogger spyscribbler said...

That's awesome. I have been so ADD with my reading, lately. I hate it, but I can't seem to help it. For the first time in my life, I think I'm in the middle of eight or nine books.

You know, this is ridiculous, but I wish books were shorter. They need to make novellas for mysteries and thrillers, too. Even 80,000 words would be nice. I usually like long books. I just can't seem to finish them anymore. I don't know what's wrong with me.

6:44 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I've had some weird reading moments lately--books I've started and put aside, gotten back to later, or not at all. Not like me.

But then again, I think that's been my summer to-date: weird.

6:51 AM  
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