Book Reviews

On My Fall Bookshelf

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When I hear about a good book, I tend to add it to my list on Goodreads. Sometimes, I actually buy it right away and make sure it’s on my Kindle app on my iPad so when I finish one story it’s there for me to choose from. Right now there’s over 100 books in my library on my iPad.

I’m currently almost done with the novelization of Revenge of the Sith. I’m finding it much better than the film at giving the depth to Anakin’s fall into the dark side. It’s a lot longer than the other two books based on the Star Wars prequels. I think that’s because there was so much more work needed to make the story feel right.

What will I read next? I’m not really sure. I have these two Anthony Bourdain books waiting to be read. I love all of his television work and loved the books by him I read already. I’m so sad he’s no longer with us, because he was someone who really challenged people on their xenophobia and opened up the world to a lot of us.

I have these two Michael Connelly books in my library as well. I’ve been trying to read all of his books in some kind of cohesive order. These are not specifically Harry Bosch books (the LAPD detective at the center of most of his novels), but Bosch does make an appearance in one of them. I tend to read Connelly’s books in a couple of days because I want to get through them and see what happens. As a side note, if you haven’t seen the series Bosch on Amazon Prime, it’s a great series.

This is the fourth book in this series by Vaughn Heppner. It’s kind of like alternate history, which I love to read. I’ve borrowed this series through the Kindle unlimited account. It’s heavy on military technology which sometimes I bog down in the details of. Still, I’ve enjoyed the stories overall. I knew what was coming up at the end of the last book, so it’ll be interesting to see where it goes. I don’t think this will be my next book, but maybe after that one.

In 2040, a shattered America squares off against the world!

Once, America was the most powerful nation on Earth. Then disasters rocked her: a sovereign debt depression, bitter glacial cooling and the greatest military invasion in history out of Mexico–by the Chinese and Brazilian alliances. Now the U.S. reels like a drunken giant. The military fought savage battles in the Midwest last winter, driving the aggressors from Denver, but unable to kick them out of the country.

This is a light-hearted mystery series about a donut shop owner in North Carolina who ends up in the thick of a number of mysteries. It’s light reading and includes recipes if you’re so inclined.

As owner of April Springs’s one and only donut shop, Suzanne Hart is privy to the deliciously personal, downright eccentric tastes of her customers. One man is crazy for crullers—heavy on the icing. But when he doesn’t pick up his order, a tall dark stranger buys the whole box. Which he tosses, one drippy cruller at a time, at her friend Gabby’s storefront next door…

The man claims that stolen family valuables ended up in Gabby’s thrift shop. His wild, weird behavior has Suzanne wanting to call the cops. But when he turns up dead—outside of Donut Hearts, no less—the cops come calling for her and Gabby. Can Suzanne prove that their role in the cruller-vandal killing is a cruel, albeit sugar-coated, twist of fate?

Speaking of alternate history, I’ve had this one in my library for a while. Conroy is another author noted for that genre, and I haven’t read any of his books just yet.

“In 1781, George Washington’s attempt to trap the British under Cornwallis at Yorktown ends catastrophically when the French fleet is destroyed in the Battle of the Capes. The revolution collapses, and the British begin a bloody reign of terror. A group of rebels flees westward and sets up a colony near what is now Chicago. They call it Liberty. The British, looking to finish what they started, send a very large force under Burgoyne to destroy them. Burgoyne is desperate for redemption and the Americans are equally desperate to survive.”

Finally on the alternate history category, I have these tow novels from Harry Turtledove. Two Fronts is number five in a six-book series that has World War II starting a bit earlier due to circumstances and what would have happened. I’m having a hard time finishing the series as the improbability of the changing alliances mid-war on top of Turtledove’s usual repetitive nature has made it a frustrating read.

A friend recommended Ruled Britannia as one of Turtledove’s best books. The summary for this is: The year is 1597. For nearly a decade, the island of Britain has been under the rule of King Philip in the name of Spain. The citizenry live under an enforced curfew—and in fear of the Inquisition’s agents, who put heretics to the torch in public displays. And with Queen Elizabeth imprisoned in the Tower of London, the British have no symbol to unite them against the enemy who occupies their land.

I have the Thrawn trilogy in my library as well, although I don’t think I’ll choose another Star Wars book right away. Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars books have always been a great read. Grand Admiral Thrawn was seen for the first time in Zahn’s books set five years after Return of the Jedi.

I’m working my way through Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone series. Kinsey is a private detective and a bit of a loner in California who gets involved in a number of unusual mysteries. Some of the books feel quite dated, with the lack of cell phone technology and more, but they are fun. In this one, someone is setting her up to look like she’s on the take.

“E” is for evidence: evidence planted, evidence lost. “E” is for ex-lovers and evasions, enemies and endings. For Kinsey, “E” is for everything she stands to lose if she can’t exonerate herself: her license, her livelihood, her good name. And so she takes on a new client: namely, Kinsey Millhone, thirty-two and twice-divorced, ex-cop and wisecracking loner, a California private investigator with a penchant for lost causes–one of which, it is to be hoped, is not herself.

I’ve always loved John Grisham’s books, but haven’t read anything by him in a while. I added this to my library a while back to remedy that, but still haven’t gotten around to it.

“In the history of the United States, only four active federal judges have been murdered. Judge Raymond Fawcett has just become number five. His body is found in his remote lakeside cabin. There is no sign of forced entry or struggle. Just two dead bodies: Judge Fawcett and his young secretary. And one large, state-of-the-art, extremely secure safe, opened and emptied.
“One man, a former attorney, knows who killed Judge Fawcett, and why. But that man, Malcolm Bannister, is currently residing in the Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland. Though serving time, Malcolm has an ace up his sleeve. He has information the FBI would love to know. Malcolm would love to tell them. But everything has a price—and the man known as the Racketeer wasn’t born yesterday.”

Stephen King is my favorite author of all time. Why not give his son a try?

Judas Coyne is a collector of the macabre: a cookbook for cannibals . . . a used hangman’s noose . . . a snuff film. An aging death-metal rock god, his taste for the unnatural is as widely known to his legions of fans as the notorious excesses of his youth. But nothing he possesses is as unlikely or as dreadful as his latest discovery, an item for sale on the Internet, a thing so terribly strange, Jude can’t help but reach for his wallet.

I’ve seen the movie, but never read the book. However, I think this will likely be very depressing.

“When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.”

So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank’s mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank’s father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy—exasperating, irresponsible, and beguiling—does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story. Frank lives for his father’s tales of Cuchulain, who saved Ireland, and of the Angel on the Seventh Step, who brings his mother babies.

McCullough’s books are always interesting and well-researched. This one interests me in that for years I knew of the flood in terms of a natural disaster. It’s only in the last few years that I became aware that its origins were actually man-made.

At the end of the nineteenth century, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, was a booming coal-and-steel town filled with hardworking families striving for a piece of the nation’s burgeoning industrial prosperity. In the mountains above Johnstown, an old earth dam had been hastily rebuilt to create a lake for an exclusive summer resort patronized by the tycoons of that same industrial prosperity, among them Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and Andrew Mellon. Despite repeated warnings of possible danger, nothing was done about the dam. Then came May 31, 1889, when the dam burst, sending a wall of water thundering down the mountain, smashing through Johnstown, and killing more than 2,000 people. It was a tragedy that became a national scandal.

I’ve enjoyed Neail Peart’s books immensely for the most part. His travels are the kind I’ve always dreamed of. I saw RUSH on this tour in Boston.

“In May 2015, the veteran Canadian rock trio Rush embarked on their 40th anniversary tour, R40. For the band and their fans, R40 was a celebration and, perhaps, a farewell. But for Neil Peart, each tour is more than just a string of concerts, it’s an opportunity to explore backroads near and far on his BMW motorcycle. So if this was to be the last tour and the last great adventure, he decided it would have to be the best one, onstage and off.”

Another series I started with mysteries in the barren prairies of South Dakota.

“The trucker who’d hit a Wrong Way sign lay hunched over the wheels of his semi—with his brains blown to bits, a revolver in his hand. Leo Jurczewsky had long talked of killing himself. So when Sheriff Karen Mehaffey and Detective Marek Okerlund are called to the Reunion, South Dakota, exit ramp to investigate his death, they’re ready to wrap up the case.

“But it all goes wrong when the pathologist rules the gunshot wasn’t self-inflicted. So was it homicide—or a twisted form of assisted suicide?”

I’ve had this Star Trek trilogy in my “to be read” pile probably longer than just about any other book. I will start it before the end of the year.

“One year after the end of the Dominion War, the Romulan Star Empire comes under attack by a mysterious and alarmingly powerful enemy calling itself the Watraii, a species with a long-standing vendetta against the Romulans. Yet though they remain tenuously allied, the Federation, the Romulans, and the Klingons are ill-prepared to become embroiled in another sustained conflict, forcing Ambassador Spock, Admiral Uhura, Admiral Chekov, Captain Saavik, and some unexpected allies to defy their governments in order to meet the new threat head-on.”

I’m going to conclude there as the list is long enough for now. These are the most likely books that I am going to tackle this fall. I could always throw in others here and there, depending on how I’m feeling when I finish one book and look for the next.

7 replies »

      • I never saw the movie, but I read the book years ago. Yes, it’s depressing, but I can understand his need to get away. And the sadness of child after child dying because the parents lacking knowledge and resources. The opening paragraph you quoted say a lot.

      • The acting was great in the movie, but it was so sad. I think a lot of people could learn about what abject poverty is like from a book like this and give more support to social services and making sure children have a basic standard of living that includes having a roof over their head and food on the table.

  1. My goodness, you read a lot – so do I but completely dfferent books but I have just bought some Michael donnellys for my son in law to be – hes collecting the hardbacks. I think iwill read them first before I hand them over beautifully gift wrapped
    I do all my reviews on goodreads too.