A penny saved is ridiculous.

A penny saved is ridiculous.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

An author on the run


Lee Goldberg's True Fiction is a fun little thriller, fast-paced, entertaining, and exciting. It has a good little premise: as a way to anticipate future terrorist attacks, thriller writer Ian Ludlow, and a few other popular fiction writers, are hired by the US government to imagine possible terrorist plots against the US, so government agencies can better keep an eye out for actual future threats.  The problem is, one of those fictional imaginings- the one in fact proposed by Ian- happens for real.

Shortly after the horrific terrorist event, Ian's fellow authors on the government committee start turning up dead, and attempts are made on Ian's life.  Things move quickly from there.  Who wants to act out terrorist scenarios that were never meant to happen?  Why are the authors who dreamed them up (again, as a way to help the government anticipate actual threats) being eliminated?  It's all engaging, interesting, and thought-provoking. And, believe it or not, fun.

That's because even though True fiction is a pretty straight-up thriller, there's frequent humor to lighten the mix.  In particular, there are several instances of dumb luck that keep Ian alive as highly-trained killers try to take him out while he's on the run trying to piece things together. There's also a lot of cleverness in the area of technology and gadgets. One can tell Mr. Goldberg is the self-professed James Bond fan he admits to on social media.

True Fiction is a fast, fun read, so I don't want to tell you too much more now that I've recommended it.  I'll let you discover the action scenes, supporting characters, and revelations (all three of those things are good) for yourself.  It's just a good little thriller that was constructed with seriousness, but doesn't take itself too seriously.  I had a lot of fun with it.

True Fiction is available in print and on Kindle.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

A second of fun


Nothing heavy at the moment, just three silly book-related jokes.  Enjoy (I hope).

Bookworm #1: Can I borrow a bookmark?

Bookworm #2: Bookmark? You mean a quitter strip?

*     *     *

Book #1: You look so much thinner!

Book #2: Thanks! I had my appendix removed.

*     *     *

Overheard from Sean Connery: A book fell on my head.  I can only blame my shelf.

*     *     *

Okay, sorry for all of the above.  More serious stuff on the way shortly.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Whodunit?


Agatha Christie wrote roughly eighty novels and short-story collections over the course of her life, so one could read one of her books every now and then and never run out.  That's what I do: read maybe one or two a year.  My latest was Peril at End House, and it was another good one.  And, no, even though Dame Christie played fair with the clues, I didn't guess the killer (yet again).

This one was interesting because there wasn't so much a killer but a would-be killer. A young pretty heiress, with the cute name of Nick Buckley, has had several clumsy attempts made on her life, and has been shrugging them off as weird accidents. Master detective Hercule Poirot, who has met Ms. Buckley by chance because the hotel where he is vacationing is located near the Buckley estate, begs to differ.

So the bulk of this fast-paced novel involves Poirot attempting to prevent further attempts on Ms. Buckley's life while trying to ascertain who is trying to kill her and why. The stakes are eventually raised when a collateral death (not Ms. Buckley's) does occur, making the brilliant Poirot take things personally.  How dare someone have the temerity to kill someone right under the detective's nose?

Needless to say, not everything is as it seems, and that can eventually be frustrating when one fails to detect the skillfully-placed distractions and false paths.  But that's okay: along the way it's all very moody and dramatic and entertaining.  So, all in all, I quite enjoyed Peril at End House, even though I was once again stumped.

"Peril at End House" was originally published in the early 1930's but has never gone out of print.  It is also available on Kindle and in various audiobook editions.


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Kindle kinship


After more than two years of service (who knows, time flies and maybe it's even been more than three years), I'm still enjoying and regularly using my Kindle Paperwhite.  This was the first Kindle I bought that featured a backlit screen, and while I was originally skeptical about how important that feature would be, I'm now sold on the concept.

It's really great to be able to read in the most dimly-lit room, or even in an unlit room, and my current Kindle makes the words on the page crisper and clearer in well-lit rooms, too.  And yet, even with the back lighting feature, I'm still experiencing the same pleasant-looking, paper-like Kindle screen (like my previous Kindles), and not a harsh, overly bright computer-type screen. 

So, if you haven't made the jump to one of the newer backlit Kindles, don't be afraid to do so.  They are still the same easy-on-the-eyes Kindles, only now you can use them whether or not there is adequate lighting in the place you want to read.

There are newer Kindles out there- including the Oasis and the Voyage- and I'm sure one day I will upgrade.  But for now my Kindle Paperwhite performs perfectly well.  But one thing is for sure: I will always have an actual Kindle device, and not simply install a Kindle app on my smartphone and iPad.  I've always liked the simple elegance of an actual Kindle.  I have plenty of other devices that can do a thousand things, so it's nice to relax once or twice a day with a piece of technology that just worries about making my reading experience as pleasant as possible.


Thursday, June 28, 2018

He's out there


Stephen King's The Outsider was an involving, immersive, and very entertaining reading experience.  It had elements and plot devices we've seen before from Mr. King, but done in new ways.  For example, this one involves a group of friends and allies taking on something very evil.  We've seen this in The Stand, It, and several other King titles.  What is different here is that the group of friends and allies don't start out that way.  We meet them as adversaries, even enemies, on opposite sides of a gruesome murder case making its way through the criminal justice system.  As the story progresses, they slowly start working together because, well... I should let you discover that for yourselves.

I will say that The Outsider is about, among other things, the dangers of being close minded, of  being too secure in one's beliefs about something, especially something that you see on the news (but also about things you may think you have reliable first-hand knowledge about).  It's also about the dangers of mob rule. Before anything really Stephen King-ish happens in the book, some very bad things happen of the non-horror novel variety, all because a variety of people just grab some "facts" and run with it.

Like Stephen King's recent Bill Hodges trilogy (Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, and End of Watch), this novel uses the trappings of a crime thriller before moving into the kinds of things you normally expect from Mr. King.  In fact, The Outsider uses a major character from that earlier trilogy as a member of the team here, which results in much discussion of the events of Mr. Mercedes and its two sequels.  For that reason you may want to read those earlier (and also very good) novels before reading The Outsider.

But, yeah, if you like Mr. King, this one won't disappoint you.  The Outsider is a solid crime thriller and horror novel that will make you look for extra time each day to just read a little more.

The Outsider is available in hardback, Kindle, and unabridged audio editions. I quite enjoyed reading it on my Kindle Paperwhite.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Checking in... finally


It's been a while, but here I am.  No promises yet, but over the next few days I'm going to try to get this blog back on its feet.  I'll do this with a combination of posts telling you a little bit about why I've been gone and posts doing what this blog is supposed to do: telling you about interesting things I've read and seen (things you might enjoy, too). Fingers crossed, but there might be a little life left in this blog yet.

Before I get to the boring personal stuff, though, here's a quick book tip.  I just finished reading John Sandford's Phantom Prey, which was another terrific entry in the author's long-running police thriller series.  This time series lead Lucas Davenport is trying to solve a handful of probably-related murders taking place in the goth community.

This entry actually has a kind of supernatural vibe, because (without telling you too much) one of the characters thinks she has a ghostly presence in her life, one that is pressing her to commit some extreme acts. Is there really a dark spirit hovering around this woman, or is she simply in need of some serious help?  In the context of this terrific mystery/chase thriller (there's lots of chasing around town after clues and crooks in this one), does it really matter?

The book also has the usual Sandford richness.  In addition to the main plotline, there are also all kinds of other things (both professional and personal) going on with Lucas and his colleagues.  A stakeout subplot could have actually carried its own book, but here acts as a bit of variety and diversion from the main story.

Phantom Prey is somewhere slightly past the midpoint of this (so far) twenty-some book series.  I tend to read a Prey book about once or twice a year, not wanting to be greedy and get caught up too quickly.




Friday, January 13, 2017

This and that


Happy weekend, everyone.  Hope you'll all make it a good one.

If you're looking for a decent movie to watch this weekend, you could do worse than Hidden Figures, a solid and entertaining biopic about three unsung heroes of the U.S. space program.  Think The Help combined with The Right Stuff and you'll have a rough idea of what you'll getting (though the women of Hidden Figures have a slightly better social standing and aren't persecuted quite as much as the women in The Help).  Anyway, good movie.

I notice that author William Peter Blatty passed away earlier this week.  To pay tribute to the author of so many moody and entertaining works, try listening to the 40th Anniversary Edition of his most famous novel, The Exorcist, which was produced a few years ago and is read aloud- and very well- by Mr. Blatty himself.  I listened to it last year and really enjoyed it. Still a very creepy book, and- as a bonus- it's a nice time capsule on life in New York City in the 1970's.

My literary and audio projects for 2017?  First, I'm going to finish my 2016 project and read or listen to the last few James Bond novels written by John Gardner in the 1980's and 90's. To paraphrase the old movie ads about Sean Connery, Simon Vance IS James Bond in the audiobook versions.  But, alas, not all the Gardner Bonds are available on audio, so thank God for Kindle.  I also want to finish up John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series, which I'll continue doing on audio as Robert Petkoff does a really nice job reading them.  And, who knows, I may even get caught up on John Sandford's terrific Prey thriller series, which I've been enjoying again lately after a hiatus.  I will also lean towards audio on that series, as narrator Richard Ferrone has made Sandford's cop characters truly his own.

See you all next week!