Thursday, January 15, 2009

#3: Gun Work by David J. Schow

An Iraq war veteran helps an old war buddy rescue his girlfriend from a Mexico City kidnapping ring, only to find himself in the middle of a triple-cross that leaves him the prisoner of the sadistic kidnappers. How he sets out on a bloody trail of revenge is at the center of David J. Schow's Hard Case Crime entry Gun Work.

Most Hard Cast Crime novels are lost pulp classics repackaged with retro covers. Gun Work is a new novel from a contemporary novelist, but holds onto a lot of the hard-nosed appeal of the classics. Strangely, with its rough bromance, pro-military leanings, and fetish-like attention to weaponry, it reads like a very good Don Pendleton Executioner novel, the kind of which I tore through as a teen.

I borrowed this from my pal Michael, who is also trying to read 50 books this year, as seen in my sidebar.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

#2: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

A crusading financial journalist has a fall from grace and finds himself writing the biography of an industrial magnate on a remote island.  The magnate's true motives are soon revealed, and the journalist ends up (with the help of the anti-social hacker of the title) looking into the decades-old unsolved murder of a teenage girl.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a bracing, original debut novel by Stieg Larsson, who I was sorry to learn passed away shortly after completing what is called "The Millennium Trilogy," of which this is the first volume.  Reading a lot of mysteries, I have recently come to appreciate the philosophical differences of the incredibly popular mystery novels of Sweden and Norway; though this one comes with a number of American-style shocks.  

I felt The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo compared very favorably with another Scandinavian bestseller, Jo Nesbo's The Redbreast, one of the best reads I enjoyed last year.  Larsson's novel is an early front-runner for my favorite novel of 2009.

I checked this one out from the Morrison-Reeves Library in Richmond, Indiana.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

#1: A Member of the Family by Cesar Millan

Our new Westie puppy is a great joy in our lives and a cure for the Empty Nest Blues.  The part we had forgotten was that having a puppy was like having a real baby; you are up every two hours with it pooping and crying and it needs constant looking after and so on.  And, like a real baby, it helps if you read a manual or two.

Like many people I had seen the Dog Whisperer show and was interested in what Cesar Millan was doing with his training style.  With some Christmas money I went out and bought his new book, A Member of the Family, which takes a pet owner from the day you pick out a puppy until the day your old companion dies.

This book has a little good advice for every stage of raising a dog.  I also enjoyed Cesar Millan's personal story and asides about his family life.  There are case studies and other interesting breakout information throughout.  It is the kind of book you would probably want to loan to a friend with a new puppy, or stick up on a shelf for future reference.

Cesar Millan states that his style--being a pack leader and the Alpha--is not necessarily for everyone, but with my Westie and her big personality it suits us fine.

I read and enjoyed this at a good clip, and would recommend it to any pet owner.

Monday, January 5, 2009

2008 Wrap-Up

This time last year I fell under the sway of my pal The Mighty Caveman who coaxed me into one of those crazy internet things where all of a sudden, against all logic and reason, you are reading 50 books in one year.  Astoundingly, even to myself, I met that goal.

Loyal readers asked me if I was going to keep going.  I said no, as there were always more Nerd Extreme Sports to conquer.  I have done the 24 Hour Comics Challenge twice, the 24 Hour Zine Thing once, plus played many marathon gaming sessions at GenCon and other places.

But I have started reading some pretty interesting books, and decided I missed blogging on them.  So the gears started turning, and I returned to the blog-o-sphere.

My five favorite books from 2008 were STARS IN MY POCKET LIKE GRAINS OF SAND by Samuel R. Delany, THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION by Michael Chabon, THE REDBREAST by Jo Nesbo, THE WANDERING GHOST by Martin Limon, and THE WHEAT FIELD by Steve Thayer.  Though I also liked Michael Chabon's GENTLEMEN OF THE ROAD, George Axelrod's BLACKMAILER, Naomi Novik's HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGON, Robert B. Parker's RESOLUTION, and Sebastian Faulks' DEVIL MAY CARE.

It was the year I knuckled down and tackled Harry Potter, the year I discovered Samuel R. Delany and rediscovered Philip K. Dick, a year of morose Scandinavian mysteries and cold-blooded Hard Case Crime novels and a smattering of Ace Doubles.

If this is also your meat and potatoes, soldier on.  If not, feed your head in some other way; but keep reading.

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