Monday, November 29, 2010

Lee Child, Worth Dying For

Author: Lee Child
Title: Worth Dying For
Publisher/format: Delacorte Press, cloth
ISBN: 978-0385344319

I really respect Lee Child for not churning out identical Reacher books each year. This author has taken care to develop his character in interesting ways, and he has also taken him through various psychological twists and turns. The penultimate Reacher book, 61 Hours, ended with a cliffhanger that I wasn't expecting; also, it featured a more broken, uncertain Reacher, and fabulous descriptions of a barren South Dakota winter. Child has stayed in the middle of the country for Worth Dying For: here, he places Reacher in a rural, agricultural area of Nebraska--not near the larger cities of Lincoln/Omaha but somewhere in the west (but not, I think, the Sandhills, because the main occupation of the people is farming).

Child does a great job with the NE landscape, its wideness, starkness, and flatness, and he describes a certain kind of Nebraska woman--older, strong, no-nonsense, modest, conscientious, full of integrity, reserved--perfectly. He describes many of the rest of his Nebraskans as quiet, fairly passive go-along-with-the-flow sorts. (Many Nebraskans do seem this way to others, but I believe that the truth is that once you find the part in the flow that they refuse to go along with [which does, in fact, exist, but which they will not tell you about until you accidentally stumble onto it], they will be shockingly stubborn and unmovable.) Even the Nebraskan evildoers in this book have a certain amount of integrity and civility despite their psychopathic, horrid selves. The culture of civility and refusing to make waves is important in NE, but as I hinted before, not everyone here is as passive as the folks in Reacher's town.

Also suffering from this passivity, sort of, are the ten Cornhusker (I think ten) football players Reacher beats up at one time or another in the course of the book. This is very amusing in some ways, but these could not have been Blackshirts. Note that Child is careful to call them "Cornhuskers," and that the trademarked name for the team is "Huskers." He did not want to run afoul of UNL/trademarking/etc.etc., I bet (or his publisher did not want him to).

Anyway, this book is interesting in that it's kind of humorous in an Elmore Leonard sort of a way--criminals and Reacher showing up at the same time and same place without realizing it; comic timing and quick cuts, etc.etc. The nature of the evildoers is kept uncertain until late on. It is very, very horrible what they are doing--which is pretty shocking to the reader because you've been set up, so to speak, by the Elmore Leonard-type timing/humor, and it kind of falls away very quickly into horribleness. There's something of a revenge scene at the end that shocked me a bit in that it has a civilian being Reacher-like.

Reacher is especially hard and distant and killer-like in this one--scary again, despite the fact that he begins the book injured and presumably psychologically battered. Not much is mentioned about the unresolved cliffhanger from 61 Hours; Child is in no hurry to tell us what happened, and when he does, it's almost off-handedly. This I liked.

Anyway, this was a very satisfactory installment in the Reacher series, and I liked it a lot. My big problem is this: there was no shopping expedition for Reacher. I don't care that there are no stores in the middle of the country. I really, really missed the shopping, and I hope he will get back to it. Those are absolutely my favorite parts of the books.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The first two books in the bibliophile series by Kate Carlisle

Bibliophile series #1
Ebook (B&N)

Rating (on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being best)
Plot: 4
Characters: 3.5
Writing: 3.5
Final: 3.66

Comments: Extra points were given to the plot category for setting the series in the world of book restoration. This series reminds me of Evanovich's Stephanie Plum mystery series. It's pretty goofy, but not quite as over-the-top ridiculous. It helps that the main character is actually good at her job.

Publisher's description
The streets of San Francisco would be lined with hardcovers if rare book expert Brooklyn Wainwright had her way. And her mentor wouldn’t be lying in a pool of his own blood on the eve of a celebration for his latest book restoration. With his final breath he leaves Brooklyn a cryptic message, and gives her a priceless—and supposedly cursed—copy of Goethe’s Faust for safekeeping. Brooklyn suddenly finds herself accused of murder and theft, thanks to the humorless—but attractive—British security officer who finds her kneeling over the body. Now she has to read the clues left behind by her mentor if she is going to restore justice . . .

If Books Could Kill
Bibliophile series #2
by Kate Carlisle
Ebook (B&N)

Rating (on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being best)
Plot: 4
Characters: 3.5
Writing: 3.5
Final: 3.66

Comments: I'd love to see even more about book restoration. I hope that Carlisle doesn't let that part fade away as result of Brooklyn's improved financial circumstances. I'm finding the number of very attractive men she encounters ridiculous almost to the point of distraction. I think we have enough in there to keep her busy for a while. Please don't add any more.

Publisher's description
Murder is easy-on paper. Book restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright is attending the world-renowned Book Fair when her ex Kyle shows up with a bombshell. He has an original copy of a scandalous text that could change history and humiliate the beloved British monarchy. When Kyle turns up dead, the police are convinced Brooklyn's the culprit. But with an entire convention of suspects, Brooklyn's conducting her own investigation to find out if the motive for murder was a 200-year-old secret—or something much more personal.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

This is how far behind I am

Sadly, I think I'm even missing some.

Books That Need to be Reviewed

Title (series, if applicable) Author

Monday, November 8, 2010

Inklings cartoonist will be in #LNK Wednesday 11/10/10

When Jeffrey Koterba was six, he started drawing his first cartoons, painstakingly copying from the Sunday Omaha World Herald’s funny papers and making up his own characters. With a pen and a sheet of white paper, he was able to escape into a clean, expansive, and comfortable refuge from the pandemonium surrounding him. The tiny house Koterba grew up in was full-to-bursting with garage-sale treasures and televisions his father repaired and sold for extra money. A hard-drinking one-time jazz drummer, whose big dreams never seemed to come true, Koterba’s father was subject to violent facial tics, symptoms of Tourettes Syndrome, a condition Jeffrey inherited. From the canyons of broken electronics, the lightning strikes, screaming matches, and discouragements great and small, emerged a young man determined to follow his creative spirit. Inklings is an exuberant heart-felt memoir infused with an irresistible optimism all it’s own.
You can see some of Koterba's favorite cartoons, read his blog, and more at his website. He'll be at the University Bookstore on Nov. 10 at 7:00 p.m. for a reading and signing.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I am a pathetic excuse for a book blogger

Oh, man. I am shamefully, woefully behind on my reviews. So here's what I'm going to do:

  • list all of the titles that need reviews in one post
  • link to reviews as I finish and post them
  • vow to post at least one review per week
I don't have a good system for keeping track of what I've read, what I'm currently reading, what needs to be reviewed, and what's been reviewed. I had been managing this via Goodreads: everything on my "currently reading" list had at least been started but still needed a review, regardless of whether I'd finished reading it. That doesn't seem to be working for me any more. I think I'll try simple lists in text documents for a while. Got any better ideas? I would welcome any suggestions you might have.