Having read all the way through ”V” in the Kinsey Millhone alphabet series, I discovered that this collection of short stories existed and since all oHaving read all the way through ”V” in the Kinsey Millhone alphabet series, I discovered that this collection of short stories existed and since all of the stories take place prior to “W” (and since I tend to be a completest) I decided to go ahead and read this volume as well.
The book is divided into two parts. The first part contains nine stories of Kinsey’s investigative adventures and I found them to be quite focused and pretty enjoyable reads. They aren’t as fun as the novels because there is nothing of the larger group of co-characters that make the novels so entertaining; nothing from octogenarian Henry, or Rosie or Kinsey’s estranged family. They are short straightforward whodunits almost in the style of a Hercule Poirot short story. None of them are necessary to read for the enjoyment of the larger series of novels, as they stand alone completely. They do vary in tone, however, from serious to near-whimsical crimes/criminals but I thought all of them were pretty fun reads.
Not so with the second half of the book. Here we find 11 “stories” from a character named Kit Blue who is reportedly a younger version of Sue Grafton herself. I use the term “stories” loosely because they are more like autobiographical observations on life with alcoholic parents and dealing with her mother’s death. There are no plots per se, more like essays on the over-arching darkness. Taken as a group, they do provide insights on Sue Grafton, as well as why the character of Kinsey Millhone is the way she is. And they are certainly well-written pieces. But enjoyable reading…not so much.
So I am granting four stars for part 1 and two stars for part 2 (being generous) rounding out to three stars for the book. ...more
The second volume of “The Century Trilogy” covers the years 1933 through 1949. The fact that these dates represent only 17 percent of the 20th centuryThe second volume of “The Century Trilogy” covers the years 1933 through 1949. The fact that these dates represent only 17 percent of the 20th century and yet comprise 33 percent of the trilogy is a real testament to the importance of these years and their impact on our planet. Primarily, of course, this is World War II and, indeed, that is the absolute focus of this entire book. Or perhaps I should say that is the backdrop against which our characters live their lives, for the actual events of the war years are important for their influence on the characters but are secondary to the lives of the characters themselves.
This trilogy is a story of five families through several generations as they make their way through the events of the 20th century. This volume picks up with the children (and in some cases, grandchildren) of the main characters from book one. I read the first book last year and I’m afraid I let a little too much time elapse before picking up this one because, due to the lengthy list of major POV characters, I found it a little difficult to remember the circumstances of the previous generation. I occasionally got that feeling of entering a play half way through the first act. But as I continued, most of it came back to me and I was able to connect the dots pretty well.
I think a lot of us learn our history by being exposed to specific events or biographies through school or general reading but many of us stop there. We learn about the Manhattan Project or Operation Barbarossa or Nazi atrocities or the Berlin Airlift, etc. but we often view these as individual and even isolated happenings, never being exposed to how it is all connected. That’s the advantage of reading a historical fiction series like this. By living through the major events via the viewpoints of multiple generations of related characters we can gain a better understanding of how, for example, the Russian Revolution fed the fears of other populations and helped Hitler’s rise to power. Or we can easier connect the final end of the war with the almost instant beginning of the Cold War and understand why it happened that way.
These books certainly contain a lot of history and allow the reader to “be there”, for example, on Dec 7th 1941 at Pearl Harbor. And even though we know what is about to happen, living it with characters who you’ve grown to know and love through 700-plus pages (at that point) really brings home the impact. So yes, many times the war itself is primary in the characters’ lives but fundamentally, taken as a whole, the novel is still about the characters themselves as they seek to carve out lives amidst the turmoil. As such, some of them set lofty goals, and either achieve them or fall short. Some drift through, bouncing from one influence to the next. Some find love and others find loss. Some suffer the worst sort of crimes and others commit those crimes. It’s a great cross-section of humanity featuring characters from Britain, Russia, Wales, Germany, and the US.
In summary, this is another wonderful Ken Follett historical novel, enjoyable to read despite its length. I will turn to the third and final volume after a break for some shorter, lighter reading but will not wait nearly as long as I did getting to this one....more
Doc and his aides must solve a mystery involving some sort of electrical phenomena that makes men glow red, deep underworld caverns full of hordes ofDoc and his aides must solve a mystery involving some sort of electrical phenomena that makes men glow red, deep underworld caverns full of hordes of these electrically charged madmen, and discover what is behind a massive magnetic fire-sphere floating in the Pit of Horrors. Sounds fantastical and, indeed, it is. This Doc Savage adventure really pulls out all the stops and floods us with over-the-top, nearly impossible circumstances. It’s not the best Doc Savage adventure out there but it is a quick fun read.
This time around the Kenneth Robeson pseudonym is filled by Harold A. Davis who penned 13 Doc adventures. In addition to being known as the guy who first gave us Habeas Corpus, he is also recognized for having plausible scientific explanations for the seemingly impossible and even magical plot elements in his novels. That happens here as well but the reader must still suspend some disbelief. Unfortunately, the plot itself is somewhat inconsistent and suffers from an all-action, all-the-time approach to the story. I lost track of the number of times Doc and his aides were captured and escaped by the narrowest of margins. And about half-way through it really goes whacko and introduces a whole new character (Dr. Torkle) that is about as weird as anything I’ve read in a Doc Savage book. The danger level is very high and even Doc himself, uncharacteristically, notes the uncertainty of whether or not they will survive.
I’ve read a lot of Doc Savage novels in my youth but never this one. Despite its plot and narrative issues, it still gave me that comfortable nostalgic feeling to read. ...more
A cryptic message “I am HIM” is left near the corpse of an elderly man in a Reykjavik, Iceland apartment and Inspector Erlendur leads a police task foA cryptic message “I am HIM” is left near the corpse of an elderly man in a Reykjavik, Iceland apartment and Inspector Erlendur leads a police task force to get to the bottom of the mystery. But that’s just the surface layer of this compelling police procedural and third book (first to be published in the US) in the Inspector Erlendur series. When the dead man’s history proves less than upstanding, the investigation takes Erlendur back to other cold cases and major crimes including rape. Erlendur’s own personal life, especially with his own partly estranged daughter also play large parts in the story and help him ultimately solve the case.
I chose this book because I am planning a trip to Iceland at the end of next month and I wanted to gain some insights into the country and culture…beyond what you get in most travel books. A modern day setting/detective novel seemed a good way to do that and I think it worked in large part. This is a highly respected author and series, in part to the realistic way in which the story is presented. Nuances of the local people, attitudes, climate, and general approach to life really shine through; it has only increased my anticipation for my trip. But in addition, I enjoyed the novel simply on its own merits and will no doubt be reading more of Detective Erlendur for years to come....more
The 6th and final novel in the “Patriots” series continues the saga developed in the first five books, covering the final months of the time leading uThe 6th and final novel in the “Patriots” series continues the saga developed in the first five books, covering the final months of the time leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the founding of a new nation. All of the main characters continue their story lines, as expected, and their stories are just as compelling as ever.
I was happy to see that the author did not simply pay lip service to the established plot lines and let the story peter out. Instead he introduced new conflict, new characters, and new dangerous situations that made this novel into one of the best of the series. It does not read like the final novel in a series for most of it although virtually all of the character’s story lines were concluded for this part of their lives. I don’t believe there has ever been a follow-on series but there certainly could have been. I do know that the brothers Daniel and Quincy Reed make a cameo appearance in the Wagons West Empire Trilogy that Mr. Reasoner wrote.
In sum, this has been a charming historical fiction series concentrating on some of the lesser known aspects of the time leading up to American independence such as the Patriot spy networks. My fondness for the works of James Reasoner continues. ...more
“Knowing yourself is life’s eternal homework” – Felicia Day
I’ve been an accidental fan of Felicia Day since near the beginning of her career. I had “Knowing yourself is life’s eternal homework” – Felicia Day
I’ve been an accidental fan of Felicia Day since near the beginning of her career. I had seen her on Buffy but it wasn’t until my kids got me started watching The Guild and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog that I realized there was something special about this girl. I’ve since seen her on many Geek and Sundry things, especially Wil Wheaton’s Table Top series. I know part of what appealed to me about her was that she likes so many of the things I do including gaming (yes, I was a big World of Warcraft player too), and somewhere I guess I knew she was a very busy, entrepreneurial spirit who had been in the right place at the right time to benefit from the rise of the internet.
What I hadn’t truly understood was just how hard a worker she is and that any luck she may have had was really her own hard fought initiative and energy to make it all happen. In this book she takes great pains to avoid bragging but if anybody is brag-worthy, it’s Felicia Day. As almost all reviewers have stated, this book is funny, engaging, insightful and brave. She discusses her own mental health issues such as a major anxiety disorder and absolute perfectionist and overachiever. What I had not been prepared for was just how powerful this book is, especially for those people like me who have had life-long difficulties fitting in with the rest of humanity. She has a lot of strong messages here, not only for personal growth and outlooks on life but also many dealing with the best and worst of the age of the internet. Parts of this book were deeply emotional for me in ways that I will never be able to describe but I know it will stick with me for years to come. ...more
Yet another enjoyable ride from Brandon Sanderson and a fun, fast-paced book that I thoroughly enjoyed. Our young hero David, always masterful at pullYet another enjoyable ride from Brandon Sanderson and a fun, fast-paced book that I thoroughly enjoyed. Our young hero David, always masterful at pulling his own fat out of the fire as well as his allied Reckoners, does so many times in this final book of the trilogy. There is a lot of action here, reminiscent of superhero comic books and Sanderson’s famous world building and creative use of magic/superpowers/tech is once again on full display, especially in the final climactic chapters.
Sanderson has been at the very top of my favorite authors for quite a while now and I have come to expect nothing but the best from him. And so I know I’m being extra nit-picky this time by only granting 4 stars to this one. I felt that there was simply too much action, too many epic battles and last minute eureka moments that saves the hero’s bacon. While there were some good character moments I would have liked to have seen more of that, even if it meant sacrificing a skirmish or two.
While the ending of the novel was very climactic, it seemed a little rushed and I’m not completely clear on the resolution. The balance seemed a bit off…dealing with Prof was truly epic but lengthy while the Calamity face-off was quite short and almost too easy. But don’t get me wrong. This is still a top-notch novel and if it weren’t Sanderson writing it, I doubt I would be so critical. I understand he writes these YAish novels as a break from his more traditional and complex fantasy (which has to be tremendously stressful) and serve to recharge his batteries. I have such high regard for Sanderson that I feel like apologizing for being even the least bit critical.
But overall, this is a wonderful trilogy with innovative plots, intriguing characters, and powerful underlying themes. ...more