Tag Archives: Lee Child

A Reading Ramble: Inferno, A Natural History of Dragons, Smoke and Mirrors and More

I’m pleased to report that I kept up my reading even during the crazy busy month of June – so it’s time for another rambly post (my spellchecker tells me rambly is not a word but I like the sound of it anyway) about what I’ve been reading.

One book I tackled in June was Dan Brown’s Inferno. So here’s the quick and dirty: it didn’t work for me. I was very excited when I picked it up from the library, and cracked it open as soon as I got home. I got about halfway through the novel and realized I felt the same way about it as I did Angels & Demons: the story was exciting, and I was learning some interesting things, but I didn’t really care one way or another how the novel ended.

With Angels & Demons, I quit reading at about the 80% mark. I remember thinking to myself, all this excitement is rather tiring, and anyway, I know Langdon will end up fine, right? I felt the same with Inferno, except I got to that point a little earlier than I did with Angels & Demons. Since I knew lots of people were eagerly awaiting Inferno, I returned it to the library two days later (I waited a day to see if maybe I was just in a tired mood, and really did want to finish it after all – it turned out I really didn’t).

A Natural History of DragonsI absolutely adored this book

Happily, though, I also got my hands on a copy of A Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan. I LOVED this book – it’s one of my favourite reads of the year. It’s the kind of book I just want to press on everyone I know: “Read it, read it, oh, you simply must read it!”

And really, you simply must. I mean, it’s got dragons! An independent, feisty female main character! And did I mention, dragons?

For all you Flavia de Luce fans out there, Isabella (Lady Trent) is like Flavia all grown up – if, that is, Flavia had lived in a Victorian-type era in a world where dragons exist.

Last month I also managed to get tickets to see Neil Gaiman when he comes to Toronto in August on his book tour for The Ocean at the End of the Lane, so I decided I’d catch up on my Gaiman (I’ve only read two of his books so far, Neverwhere and The Graveyard Book, both of which I loved). To get myself started, I skimmed through Prince of Stories (I had to skim, since the book contains synopses of all Gaiman’s works published at the time Prince of Stories was released, and I didn’t want to read anything spoiler-ish, but even skimming, it was quite lovely to read about everything Gaiman has done).

Smoke and MirrorsSuch a lovely short story collection!

And now I’m halfway through Smoke and Mirrors, and really enjoying it. When I was in my early 20s, I was an avid short story reader, and Smoke and Mirrors reminds me how satisfying a well-crafted short story can be. And I have to say, I am SO in awe of the way Gaiman handles narrative poetry!

I’m also halfway through Joe Hill’s NOS4A2, but it looks like I won’t be able to finish it for a while. I have it on ebook loan from the library, and there are several people on the wait list after me, which means I won’t be able to renew it. Which reminds me – I should go and add myself to the holds list again! It’s my first taste of Hill’s work, and I’m liking it very much so far.

Another June reading highlight: I discovered Peter Lovesey’s Chief Superintendent Peter Diamond – I read Cop to Corpse, the twelfth book in the series (which didn’t hurt my reading of it in the slightest, I might add). Lovesey’s Diamond is great when you’re in the mood for a British police procedural, with a touch of humour that makes it even more enjoyable.

In audio, I listened to Lee Child’s Running Blind and Without Fail, both great books for when you’re in a Jack Reacher mood. I also did three Nero Wolfe short story collections (all rereads) in audio: Curtains for Three, And Four to Go (which starts with a hilarious story in which Wolfe plays Santa) and Death Times Three. Interestingly, one of the shorts in Death Times Three is also in And Four to Go, in slightly shorter format and with the characters slightly changed.

So that’s been my reading month in June, more or less (I might have missed one or two books, and I’m sure if I did, it will of course come to me the moment I hit publish …). It was a pretty good month in terms of reading, and now that I’ve written this post, I’m a little surprised at how many books I did read during such a crazy busy month!

Camping … Or Should I Say, Writing and Reading

I’m hurrying to finish up an indexing deadline today, because tomorrow we are off on our camping trip!

I mentioned on Facebook that we are going with every car charger known to man, so hopefully the fact that the site doesn’t have an electrical outlet won’t be particularly bothersome. (I know, I know – electrical devices aren’t exactly roughing it, but I have never been a fan of roughing it).

A Writing Weekend!

My intention is to spend the next four days doing at least some writing. I’m bringing the first draft of my WIP, NANTUCKET, with me, and will be marking it up. I’m also planning to start writing a new WIP of mine, ELLA. (In case you’re wondering, my WIP names tend to be the first name of my MC – yes, very unoriginal, but at least I don’t spend ages agonizing what to call my WIP and can plunge right into the writing!)

The netbook is all charged, plus we bought a car charger in case it dies down, so I won’t have any excuses for not writing. I’m wondering whether the sand and beach environment will have a positive effect on my writing …

Books to Read on the Beach

Of course, a holiday isn’t a holiday without books, right? Since I’ve been pretty busy, I haven’t had much time to pick and choose, and there weren’t any new books that I felt like getting as an ebook (also, Kobo’s iPhone app, which I’ve been using, is kind of tricky – it allows offline reading on the one hand, but on the other hand, it requires Internet access first, before you can start reading (after which, true, you don’t need access), which kind of defeats the whole purpose of “offline reading”, if you ask me. And I’m not sure what kind of reception my phone will have on the shores of Lake Erie.).

So I swooped down to the library (well, not really – it was more like, I quickly scanned the paperbacks while my seven-year-old, Dylan, went through his selection of books, deciding which ones he wanted to take out this week).

Here’s what I’m taking with me:

Some Linwood Barclay books. I’ve been meaning to read Barclay’s novels for a while now. Back when I was still reading newspapers, Barclay’s humor column in the Toronto Star was a favorite of mine. I was pleased to discover a while back that he’s been writing mysteries and thrillers.

Too Close to HomeFear the WorstLone Wolf

Too Close to Home:

In a quiet neighborhood, in the house next door, a family is brutally murdered for no apparent reason. You can’t help thinking, It could have been us. And you start to wonder: What if we’re next?

Promise Falls isn’t the kind of community where families are shot to death in their own homes. But how well did Jim and Ellen Cutter really know their neighbors—or the darker secrets of their small town? They don’t have to look further than their own marriage to know that things aren’t always what they seem. Now the Cutters and their son, Derek, must face the unthinkable: that a murderer isn’t just stalking too close to home…but is inside it already.

Fear the Worst:

Tim Blake is an average guy. He sells cars. He has an ex-wife who’s moved in with another man. It’s not a life without hassles, but nothing will prepare him for when his daughter, Sydney, vanishes into thin air.

At the hotel where she supposedly worked, no one has ever heard of her. Even her closest friends seem to be at a loss. As he retraces Sydney’s steps, Tim discovers that the suburban Connecticut town he always thought of as idyllic is anything but. What he doesn’t know is that his every move is being watched. There are others who want to find Sydney as much as Tim does. And the closer Tim comes to the truth, the closer he comes to every parent’s worst nightmare—and the kind of evil only a parent’s love has a chance in hell of stopping.

Lone Wolf:

Newspaper writer, family man, and reluctant hero Zack Walker has stumbled onto some dicey stories before, but nothing like what he’s about to uncover when a mutilated corpse is found at his father’s lakeside fishing camp. As always, Zack fears the worst. And this time, his paranoid worldview is dead-on.

While the locals attribute the death to a bear attack, Zack suspects something far more ominous—a predator whose weapons include arson, assault, and enough wacko beliefs to fuel a dozen hate groups. Then another body is discovered and a large supply of fertilizer goes missing, evoking memories of the Oklahoma City bombing. But it’s when he learns that his neighbor is a classic Lone Wolf—FBI parlance for a solo fanatic hell-bent on using high body counts to make political statements—that Zack realizes the idyllic town of his childhood is under siege. The fuse is lit to a catastrophe of unimaginable terror. And with time running out, Zack must face off with a madman.

A Stephen Booth Novel. I’ve been meaning to check out British novelist Stephen Booth’s mysteries, so when I saw Black Dog (his debut novel) at the library, I thought it might be a good one to start with.

Black Dog

Red Pyramid, by Rick Riordan. I saw Red Pyramid last month on a trip to Costco. It looked interesting. I haven’t yet read the Lightning Thief series yet (although I do own the entire set X 2 – don’t ask – and they’re all sitting on my TBR shelves). But I decided to put a request in at the library for Red Pyramid; it just came through, so I’m going to take it with me camping!

Red Pyramid

Since their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.
One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a “research experiment” at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.

Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them–Set–has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe–a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family, and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.

And of course – Agatha Christie! I also picked up a copy of Agatha Christie’s At Bertram’s Hotel, as a “just in case” precautionary move; you know, just in case all the above turn out to be not quite my cup of tea. I’ll have something old and familiar to fall back on, right? And there’s something about cozying up to a Miss Marple mystery that fits with toasting marshmallows over an open fire …

At Bertram's Hotel

When Miss Marple comes up from the country for a holiday in London, she finds what she’s looking for at Bertram’s Hotel: traditional decor, impeccable service – and an unmistakable atmosphere of danger behind the highly polished veneer.

Yet, not even Miss Marple can foresee the violent chain of events set in motion when an eccentric guest makes his way to the airport on the wrong day …

Let’s Not Forget Audio!

And for the drive there and back, my husband and I decided to purchase a headphone splitter so we can both listen to an audiobook on my iPod. Our choices?

Jonathan Kellerman’s Gone, Compulsion and Rage. These are all re-reads for me, but new for my husband.

A handful of BBC radio productions of Agatha Christie mysteries. These wonderful two-hour audios are really wonderful; last year I splurged and gifted myself this boxed set of Hercule Poirot’s Greatest Cases, so we have a lot of titles to choose from.

Hercule Poirot's Greatest Cases

I also have a couple of new releases on hand. First up is Janet Evanovitch’s latest Stephanie Plum installment, Sizzling Sixteen. I don’t think I’ll ever read another Plum story in print again, but Lorelei King’s wonderful narrative abilities will keep me listening to each new novel. Evanovitch seems to have stopped with the plotting and/or mystery in her latest books, but she has a talent for a comedic turn of phrase, and with King at the audio helm, I suspect we will enjoy the book just for the dialogue.

And finally, we have the latest Jack Reacher, 61 Hours, by Lee Child. Reacher isn’t really my cup of tea (the only Reacher novel I really enjoyed was the one where it was a team effort – Bad Luck and Trouble – I’m just not really into lone wolf types of novels) but I suspect my husband will enjoy his exploits.

So … I think I’m going to be well-equipped along both the writing and reading front. Just not too sure how I’ll handle the camping end of things!