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Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
One of the more frustrating books I have ever read. Some good writing, but with terrible characters and dodgy plotting--an infuriating combination.

Jun 07, 2011
May 28, 2011
Just One Evil Act (Inspector Lynley, #18)
What an infuriating book. By miles, it's the worst in the series--which I really liked very much (up to this point).

I'm getting a really strong feelin...more
Dec 2013
Sep 16, 2013
The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time
Ooh, I hate books like this: Nuggets of good ideas lie buried under swathes of pure idiocy.

Premise: Modern technology offers so many exciting distract...more
Jan 08, 2012
Oct 16, 2011
Four New Messages
Wow, I can't believe I finished this--what a bore.

The first story (hapless drug dealer is screwed by story on Internet) had a good idea as a kernel,...more
Feb 25, 2013
Jul 31, 2012
Bough Down
Too cryptic for me. There were some strong moments, but I kept feeling as though I just didn't know enough about what was going on to really understan...more
Dec 20, 2013
Dec 01, 2013
Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens
Reading this book was like having a conversation with an insanely well-read, well-traveled, and well-spoken friend. Some of the essays I'd already rea...more
Jan 03, 2012
Dec 19, 2011
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Really rather delightful. On one level, it's an affectionate, rather sweet look at the collision between the old-media world of used bookstores and th...more
Nov 15, 2012
Sep 30, 2012
The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam (Good Thief's Guide, #1)
A decent story, with a great setting (I love the Netherlands), all totally obscured by the absolute worst copy editing/proofreading I have ever seen....more
Jul 21, 2013
Feb 17, 2013
You Are What You Wear: What Your Clothes Reveal About You
Not bad. It didn't teach me any specific style points I didn't already know (how to dress my age, why it's better to spend on quality, a few good piec...more
Nov 25, 2012
Nov 17, 2012
The Ecstasy of Influence: Nonfictions, Etc.
Uneven, but worthwhile. Some of this is excellent, and there are some marvelous phrases. When he's talking about books, bookstores, movies...he's grea...more
Dec 18, 2011
Nov 29, 2011
Rule 34
Wow--Charlie is really coming into his own. Most excellent (obvious disclaimer: I do know the author socially).

The book works as a straight-up thrille...more
Sep 02, 2011
Aug 30, 2011
The Last Detective (Peter Diamond, #1)
It was all right; nothing out of the ordinary. The plot wasn't bad, wasn't great; ditto the characters. I like Bath as a setting, because it is a hand...more
Jan 25, 2013
Jan 22, 2013
Coming Clean
It's not great literature, but it's always interesting to read an account of a largely shared experience. I too grew up as an only child, with a hoard...more
Feb 10, 2014
Feb 06, 2014
The Orphan Master's Son
Certainly the most original setting I've seen in a while, that's for sure.

I liked it, overall. The main character was a bit of cipher for a long while...more
May 18, 2013
May 13, 2013
Pattern Recognition (Bigend Trilogy, #1)
I liked it. It didn't knock me over the way Gibson did when I first read his early work (Neuromancer, say), but I think that may be because he's moved...more
Mar 24, 2013
Mar 21, 2013
The Wolf at the Door
Not bad, though I never like starting a series in the middle (or with its most recent, as this is).

It started off with a bang, then had a couple of pa...more
Jul 03, 2012
Jun 28, 2012
Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation
Seriously interesting; I liked this a lot more than I expected to, frankly.

At first, I thought, "Ah, same structure as The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natur...more
Aug 12, 2013
Aug 07, 2013
Rainbows End
Interesting. In a way, I was so interested by the world Vinge set up, that I started to feel distracted by the plot. "Yes, yes, there's all this intri...more
Jan 30, 2013
Jan 26, 2013
Heat Wave (Nikki Heat, #1)
This was more fun than I care to admit, really. It also takes "meta" and "marketing" to whole new levels.

To sum up: It's a murder mystery, written by...more
Nov 28, 2012
Nov 20, 2012
Cities Are Good for You: The Genius of the Metropolis
A surprisingly hopeful book, in many ways. I imagine that's what the author intended, and I admit to being pleasantly surprised at how well he succeed...more
Oct 04, 2013
Oct 02, 2013
Whispers Under Ground (Peter Grant, #3)
Consistently good. It's nice when the author continues to develop exactly the parts of his material that you like best: In my case, the architectural...more
Jun 06, 2013
May 28, 2013
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
It started a bit slowly, and I was thinking, "Yes, yes, I've read stuff like this..." and then it got good. Surprisingly good.

The structure is the wel...more
Oct 07, 2011
Sep 29, 2011
Wool Omnibus (Silo, #1) (Wool, #1-5)
I'm of two minds about this; there were things I liked, others I didn't, and they seem fairly evenly balanced.

On the one hand, I liked the basic story...more
Nov 22, 2013
Nov 17, 2013
I was really enjoying this book, up until the last sixty pages or so. It's funny, clever, engaging--everything good. I liked the main character, I lik...more
Jan 16, 2014
Jan 09, 2014
Cloud Atlas
Good, not great.

I liked the structure of the book, but I didn't always enjoy the actual execution. A little "dialect," as it were, goes a long way wit...more
Aug 12, 2012
Jul 31, 2012
Transmetropolitan, Vol. 1: Back on the Street (Transmetropolitan, #1)
I liked it, but I don't think it really needed to be a graphic novel. To my mind, Ellis's prose is so vivid that it just doesn't gain much from illust...more
Feb 20, 2014
Feb 12, 2014
Transgressions Vol. 3 novellas 1, 4 and 6
A nice collection of novellas, a form that, as McBain points out, is sadly neglected.

The Westlake entry was a good Dortmunder story, which is to say,...more
Oct 18, 2013
Nov 01, 2013
A Visit from the Goon Squad
Really, really impressive. I now understand all the hype; it was deserved.

I'd read The Keep when it first came out, and I found it rather "meh," so I...more
Oct 06, 2013
Sep 22, 2013
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
I wish I could give this two and a half stars. I can't say I really liked it, but it was a bit better than meh.

The beginning was way too magazine-y a...more
Mar 17, 2012
Mar 17, 2012
The Secret Life of Words: How English Became English
Hitchings had my heart the moment he quoted John Lanchester's The Debt to Pleasure.

It's excellent fun, but it is slow going. Not because it's dull, bu...more
Apr 12, 2014
Mar 24, 2014
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