Opinions on books and other media - popular or not.

Friday, February 4, 2011


There is nothing like a good PI novel….all the elements of a police procedural, but few of the rules.   

I tend to like heroes that highly bend, if not outright break, the rules.

However, in this regard, Patterson and another one of his interchangeable co-authors fail to deliver.  They combine three major plot lines and a few inter-personal foibles, any one of which would be able to, if properly fleshed out, carry an entire book, but instead they throw them together so haphazardly, that little service is done to any of them.   It leaves the reader wanting.

That being said, the idea of a high end private investigative firm (aka Private) working around Beverly Hills, the film industry and a few old fashioned Mob connections, the owner of which has revitalized the firm as one of his disgraced (and convicted) father’s last wishes and with an identical twin brother that is, to be blunt, a world class jerk, is a compelling foundation. 

Even as flawed as it is, it is a some what engaging, easy to read exercise.  The employees of Private are smart, unique and could be grown into characters the reader will care about….think of it as the BAU of the TV show Criminal Minds meets Philip Marlowe in the private sector.  

My only hope is that any further books of this series actually plays on the strengths of the foundation that was laid out and not so much on multiple hack-eyed plot lines and Patterson’s name alone.

+++Murder, sibling rivalry, mild sexual situations+++

Friday, January 28, 2011

Rabbit Hole #1

I was surfing through the the B&N site earlier, and couldn't help but laugh at the title of some books.

Some were just so horrible they were sadly funny, but the majority were typically descriptive and suitable...and boring.

My favorites, in general, showed a quick wit...and most of those were the horrible puns.  (I know, I know....don't throw things at me!) 

The current winner:  For Whom the Minivan Rolls by Jeffery Cohn.

So dear readers (Really, someone will read this at some point. Really, they will!), what are your favorite book titles?  Note I said titles...not books!  Some dreadful books have great titles!

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Deadly Silver Sea

So Bob Morris has caught the terrorism virus. 

More and more writers are including a terrorist angle in at least one book in their ongoing series.   And yes, I do understand that it is the main news topic these days, but that is my very problem with it.

"I want music in the music, I want chicken in the soup, I want caffeine in my system*" .....and I want murder and mystery in my murder mysteries.

If I want the latest terrorist threat I’ll watch channel 14 news (or open a Clive Cussler novel).

A Deadly Silver Sea is Bob Morris’ 4th Zach Chasteen novel.  In the first three (Bahamarama, Jamaica Me Dead, Bermuda Schwartz ) we are introduced to Zach – best described by his past (former NFL player, former federal prison Inmate (now fully pardoned)), Boggy (his right hand man – a Taino Indian from the Islands, Barbara (who is too good for him but at least he knows it) and the palm trees (his family legacy) while he works his way out of several improbable situations while staying true to himself,  helping those that deserve it and having a romping tropical good time.

However, in this outing, Zach takes on the munitinous staff of a cruise ship that are being played like puppets by an Islamic terrorist pulling the strings.  

The setting is just too large for the cast and we don’t even see or hear of Boggy until the last few pages and Barbara is not able to do much, having gone into pre-mature labor by page 35.

The writing style for the first half is jumpy and quite honestly, a bit boring.  It’s not until Zach falls overboard that we get to see the types of characters and situations that normally make a Bob Morris story so entertaining. 

I didn’t start to care about this book until meeting the former Priest and Nun who had fallen in love and their boatload of Haitian refugees and the Voodoo Priestess that thinks Chasteen is a loa in human form. 

In short, this book does not live up to the other three, but much like a football team coming back to the field after a disastrous first half to do what they can to come back and win in the second, Morris makes a valiant effort to score some points at the end.

Morris was simply over reaching for most of the story.  He is a much better story-teller when keeping it all closely tied to Chasteeen and his portion of the world and not trying to have Zach save the rest of it.

Bob Morris has written a 5th book for the series, Baja Florida, which from the reviews I’ve read, sounds much more in keeping with the series and I am looking forward to reading soon.

+++Zach wiggling his naked bum at some refugees is about as sexy as the book gets.  Barbara gives birth, and if you are not fond of non-traditional baby name choices, what they name their new daughter might be upsetting.  I found it cute, and very Zach.+++

*Jimmy Buffett - "What If The Hokey Pokey Is All It Really Is About?"

In personal news:  My daughter, to my dismay, has never been one for reading much of anything (just some histories) and tends to turn her nose up at fiction in general.
However, today she picked up James Patterson’s 2nd Chance as I was returning it to the library and got hooked by the second page.  Leave it to her to start a series with the second book though!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Weight of Water

Less them 24 hours into blogging and I am already contradicting something I wrote in my very first entry.

I bought myself an eReader for the holidays, choosing the NookColor in no small part because our local library has a quickly growing collection of eBooks.

When it first came, I spent a delightful time going over the library's offerings, putting half a dozen or so titles on my hold list (demand for the eBooks is high, so there are often waiting lists).  Some were the predicable (for me) choices, a history that looked interesting, a few light reads and for some reason I added The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve.

The library’s blurb it made it sound promising, with a century old double murder and a photographer seeking to solve it.  Murder and history all in one!  

While it does indeed have both of those, the underlying themes of the book cause it to come precariously close to being in the chick-lit category I so cavalierly dismissed just yesterday.

After telling myself I could stop reading it after the first chapter if I wanted to, I was quickly drawn in by the writer’s style and read it in a day.  

However, though I was drawn in, I still read it with an air of dismissive scorn, expecting the predictable ending and not much else.   I told myself I was reading it just so I could use my new toy, more then actually being interested in the story.

Told in cut scenes from the present day and an uncovered historical memoir by the lone survivor of the murders, both story lines ended in ways that showed me that I had seriously underestimated Ms. Shreve.  

Guess I had that one coming.

+++Subtle themes of human sexuality/relationships, extremely minimal violence, high chick-lit quotient. Trigger Alert: death of a child.+++

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Where the Rabbit Leads….

My mother told me once that I didn’t like to read as a child.   That may well have been her impression at the time, but that doesn’t match well with my memories.

I remember that first moment in kindergarten, with the good old-fashioned Dick and Jane reader, when the written word clicked for me.   It was a story of Dick and Jane going off on a walk (they were always going off somewhere….didn’t their parents keep track of them at all - ever?) and finding a baby rabbit. 

It all came together for me over that picture of a small, brown, twitchy-nosed bunny.

Growing up, there were always plenty of books in the house.  My personal favorites were the full set of World Book of Knowledge encyclopedias.  In the days before we could surf the Internet….I’d sail through these white leather tomes reading about everything from antibodies to zeusaphones.

More then once I got in trouble when my parents went to consult the shelf and ‘P’, ‘W’, ‘R’ and ‘S’ were no where to be found.  (They could easily have been located if they had just looked…they were under my bed.)

Later in Junior High (not yet known as Middle School), I fell in love with Science Fiction.  I devoured the early Heinlein juvenile stories, all of Asimov, Bradley, moved on the much more adult Heinlein’s and Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat storyline.

That led to branching out into the fantasy genre - Aspirin’s Myth Series, Pratcherrt’s Diskworld, Adams and his Hitchhiker’s Guide, Spider Robinson’s Callahan books (I’ve never been able to figure out if they should be considered science fiction or fantasy) and again, countless other books….some very well written and some so hacked it makes you wonder how they got published in the first place.

I even spent quite a bit of time with the ‘historical fiction romances’ of Victoria Holt/Jean Plaidy and others.  That was probably the last time I willingly read anything close to what is commonly considered ‘chick lit’.  (Sorry, Picoult fans!)

In all that early reading, I soon learned what I liked in a book.  I like a writer that doesn’t take themselves too seriously.

I want a sly humor to run through the storyline.  Especially for recurring characters. 

I want larger then life.  The quiet lives of small people are something I can see every day in others and myself.  I don’t want to read about it as well.   I want characters that are willing to sucker punch someone when put into a corner…not whimper that life is unfair.

If you add in a good murder (or three), interesting thievery, maybe a high tech gadget or two and a little ‘us against the world’ kick ass attitude and I can sit back with good beverage and follow where that rabbit started leading me all those years ago.

This is a record of that continuing journey.