Becky's Once a Week (Or So) Book Log

TalkOnce a Month Zombie Reads

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Becky's Once a Week (Or So) Book Log

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Edited: Aug 28, 2011, 10:33pm

All right you guys. I'm not so great at reading socially, but have been making an effort all year to get better at it (here's my less-than-successful 75 Book Challenge thread). This group is my next best effort...

Appliquetion's book log is so beautifully appointed and, more importantly, readable, I think I'm going to try to replicate it here.

Ratings Rationales
* not worth the paper it's printed on
maybe not a waste of paper, but probably a waste of time
** not awful, but not terribly good, either
**½ worth a read, satisfying, but not one for the ages
*** solid, a worthy representative of its genre
***½ really, really good
**** exceptional
****½ practically perfect in every way
***** might as well have been written by the deity of your choice

A Z after a rating indicates that, even if the book is not zombie-centric, it at least has a zombie as an important character.

Currently Reading

Skippy Dies, Paul Murray
The Sheep Look Up, John Brunner

August 2011
1. Working Stiff, Rachel Caine, not yet reviewed (**½) Z
2. The End of Eternity, Isaac Asimov, reviewed here (****)
3. Domestic Violets, Matthew Norman, not yet reviewed (***½)
4. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov, reviewed here (****½)
5. Eight Black Horses, Ed McBain, not yet reviewed (***½)
6. The Gift Horse's Mouth, Robert Campbell, not yet reviewed (***½)

July 2011
1. Flashback, Dan Simmons, reviewed here (****)
2. Dominance, Will Lavender, reviewed here, (**½)
3. The Five, Robert McCammon, not yet reviewed (****)
4. The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler, not yet reviewed (****)
5. Monster Island, David Wellington, reviewed here (***) Z
6. Warm Bodies, Isaac Marion, reviewed here (****) Z
7. Ghost Story, Jim Butcher, not yet reviewed (****)
8. The Friends of Eddie Coyle, George V. Higgins, not yet reviewed (***½)

June 2011
1. Chasing the Moon, A. Lee Martinez, reviewed here (***)
2. French Lessons, Ellen Sussman, reviewed here (***½)
3. Gregor the Overlander, Suzanne Collins, reviewed here
4. Robopocalypse, Daniel H. Wilson, reviewed here (****)
5. Maine, J. Courtney Sullivan, reviewed here (***)
6. Bad Things Happen, Harry Dolan, reviewed here (***½)
7. The Witches of East End, Melissa de la Cruz, reviewed here (**)
8. The Murder at the Vicarage, Agatha Christie, not yet reviewed (***½)
9. Very Bad Men, Harry Dolan, not yet reviewed (***½)
10. Delirium, Lauren Oliver, reviewed here (***½)

May 2011
1. One of Our Thursdays is Missing, Jasper Fforde, reviewed here (***)
2. The Tragedy of Arthur, Arthur Phillips, reviewed here (****)
3. The Trinity Six, Charles Cumming, reviewed here (***½)
4. I Am Not a Serial Killer, Dan Wells, reviewed here (****)
5. The Naming of the Beasts, Mike Carey, reviewed here (****) Z
6. Embassytown, China Mieville, not yet reviewed (****½)
7. Divergent, Veronica Roth, reviewed here (**½)
8. Serial, John Lutz, reviewed here (**½)
9. Mr. Monster, Dan Wells, reviewed here (****)

Edited: Jun 2, 2011, 5:41pm

Mr. Monster is the second John Wayne Cleaver novel by Dan Wells. John Cleaver is kind of the love child of Dexter and Buffy. In the first installment, I Am Not a Serial Killer, we learned that John Cleaver diagnosed himself as a sociopath and budding serial killer at the tender age of 8, when he learned of his accidental namesake John Wayne Gacy. Despite not having any empathetic skills at all, and despite his fascination with death and its purveyors, John does not want to become a monster (in fact, Mr. Monster is what he's named his inner killer), and so has developed a list of behaviors to avoid (don't hurt animals, don't set fires) and actions to take (for every questionable thought about a person, say something nice to them) to help him keep his monster at bay.

Mr. Monster does get to come out and play whenever John is fighting the supernatural killers that seem to gravitate to his small town, though...

Dan Wells has created a fresh and oddly charming character in John Wayne Cleaver, and the second book is shaping up to be every bit as good as the first was.

Here's the review.

Edited: Jun 2, 2011, 6:34pm

Chasing the Moon by A. Lee Martinez is antic cosmic fun in the mode of A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, with a little American Gods thrown in. Fast, funny, and light, with some thought-provoking ideas tossed in for good measure, it's all in all a good read.

Here's the review.

Edited: Jun 3, 2011, 7:04pm

French Lessons is a lovely novel. Set in Paris, it follows three French tutors as each gives a private lesson to an American student. Full of insights about love and loss and what's important in life, this will be a natural for book groups.

Here's the review.

Edited: Jun 6, 2011, 10:52am

Although I have four books going right now (why do I do this to myself?), the one I'm gobbling up at the expense of the others is an independent reader level title, Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins. Very clever, quite exciting, with solid (but not at all preachy) lessons for the young 'uns (your strength comes from within, don't judge people on appearances, having stuff isn't more important than being loved, etc).

Here's the review.

Jun 7, 2011, 8:45pm

Oh, kicks ass!

Edited: Jun 15, 2011, 10:36am

Robopocalypse is gripping. It's action-packed yet emotionally moving. It's about the war that will arise between man and machine. Are you ready?

Here's the review.

Jun 12, 2011, 12:14am

So, Monster Island. I'm not very far in yet, but it's pretty good. Monster island is, of course, Manhattan. It's like a giant roach motel...zombies check in, but they don't check out.

Jun 12, 2011, 9:15pm

Maine, by J. Courtney Sullivan, is lovely. It's not great, but it's very very good. I'd venture to say that it's a book for ladies primarily, although any guy who gave it a chance would probably appreciate the depth of character and dysfunction in this sprawling family saga.

Here's the review.

Edited: Jun 22, 2011, 11:33am

Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan. Terrific, smart whodunit set in the world of literary magazine publishing. David Loogan is trying to live a quiet, boring, life, to get away from an unpleasant (to say the least) incident in his past. He's fallen into a good job as an editor at Gray Streets magazine, he's made a few friends, he's had a passionate--if short-lived--affair. When he gets a call from his boss one night asking David to come over and bring a shovel, it can only mean things aren't going to be boring for much longer. Bad Things Happen turns and twists and turns back again. Much in the mode of a classic Christie mystery, there are multiple very good suspects for the crimes that keep piling up. The dialog is clever and snappy. And David Loogan is one of the most intriguing amateur sleuths to come around in a while.

Here's the review.

I'm currently reading the follow-up, Very Bad Men, to be published next month.

Jun 15, 2011, 12:27pm

Wow Becky you have been a busy one this month already (unlike myself so slacking on reading). You have quite a few interesting ones listed, I shall have to check out. Keep up the great reading!

Edited: Jun 19, 2011, 2:46pm

The Witches of East End is Melissa de la Cruz's first (I believe) foray into "adult" fiction. I haven't read her YA stuff. This one was slightly more explicit (mouths hungrily found nipples as the occasional hurried sex in cloak rooms at parties occurred), but not at all more sophisticated than typical YA fare. The Beauchamp family--mother Joanne, daughters Ingrid and Freya, are witches who have been prohibited from practicing magic since the Salem witch trials. They currently live a reasonably quiet life in the difficult to find Long Island village of North Hampton. Things change, though, and the ladies turn out to be more than they seem.

There's no new ground broken in this book--and, in fact, the climax of the book made me think a reread of Neil Gaiman's American Gods is in order. De la Cruz's writing is often evocative, but equally as often hackneyed beyond belief (a typical exchange: "I love you," he whispered..."You're not allowed to say that," she said..."Don't do this to us," Killian warned..."There is no us.")

Worth a read, if you're doing it in lieu of watching The Real Housewives of Orange County or Wipeout. Just don't expect to be dazzled.

Here's the review.

Jun 19, 2011, 11:22am

The Murder at the Vicarage is the first of Agatha Christie's Miss Marples. It's also my first Miss Marple. As has been the case with the two other Christies I've read (yeah, really, I've read a total of three), I was surprised and delighted and impressed. The dialog crackles wittily, the murder mystery is solved several times before the ultimate real solution, which is, of course, a doozy. I was surprised by how little Miss Marple was onstage throughout the novel, and am eager to read more to see if this changes in subsequent novels.

Each time I read an Agatha Christie I understand why she continues to be read at the rate she is, so many years after she wrote.

Edited: Jul 7, 2011, 11:46pm

Dan Simmons's Flashback is an exciting and terrifying vision of the near future. Set barely twenty years from now, Flashback envisions a United States brought low by the never-ending recession (there are several chilling references to the "twenty-third year of the jobless recovery"), capitulation to terrorist states, and a population addicted to a drug that allows it to relive the past exactly. It does sound a little bit like an ultra-conservative's I-told-you-so wet dream, but Simmons doesn't overtly preach any kind of politics.

The structure of the book is similar in many ways to last year's Sleepless by Charlie Huston, a police procedural set in a ravaged post-apocalyptic Los Angeles. Flashback follows Nick Bottoms, a disgraced former Denver detective who's been addicted to flashback since the death of his wife half a dozen years earlier. He's pulled from his flashback haze to investigate the murder of a Japanese billionaire's son, a case which had been his last case before his wife's death. What he discovers is even worse than he could even imagine...

Here's the review.

Jul 7, 2011, 8:30pm

Hmm. I'm a bit behind on reviews...

Jul 7, 2011, 9:36pm

Well then you best get writing you up some reviews right fast now ya hear?!

Jul 7, 2011, 11:45pm

And here it is: Flashback.

Jul 9, 2011, 1:43am

Good one!

Aug 7, 2011, 3:28pm

I'm half a dozen or more books behind with reviews...will I ever catch up? I'm not even sure if I've captured all the books I've read in the last couple of weeks, having neglected to record them as I finished them. What a dumb bunny!

Aug 7, 2011, 3:32pm

So, my most recently reviewed book is Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, my zombie read for July. It's the story of a young zombie with a rich interior life who, with his human friend (and love?) will change the world as they know it. Definitely a cut above your typical brain-eating gorefest. Read the review here.

Aug 28, 2011, 10:50pm

Oh, liquidating and trying to put together a bookstore from scratch is taking it out of me. Reading, but not as much. Reviewing even less.

The Foundation Trilogy (reviewed here) is one of my favorite books of all time. Brilliant storytelling coupled with action and unbridled optimism make for a moving, timeless novel.

Eight Black Horses was my first Ed McBain, and I quite liked it. His 87th Precinct is a quirky, funny, and dark police procedural.

And Robert Campbell's The Gift Horse's Mouth is, quite simply, a delight. Sewer worker and local politician Jimmy Flannery is a wonderful character with a distinct narrative voice and the novel, like all of Campbell's work, harks back to bygone eras while being firmly rooted in the present (in this instance, the early nineties). More people should read this guy!

Feb 1, 2012, 9:37pm

Well, I really haven't not been reading since August. I just haven't been communicating much about my reading. However, I've picked up my first zombie novel in a while, so thought I'd mention it. Just started Zone One by Colson Whitehead. Starts out gooood. If there's anything I like better than a good zombie novel it's a good literary zombie novel.

More to come.

Sep 14, 2012, 10:32pm

Just finished Feed (hmmm...wacky touchstones offer me only Harry Potter titles as alternatives?) by Mira Grant. First book in the Newsflesh trilogy. Kicks undead ass.

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