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Hard-Boiled Wonderland

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World was not my favorite Murakami, but that just means I was less swept away than usual. (After Wind-Up Bird Chronicle the bar is high.) He is incomparable and it was a remarkable read. As with all the other books of his that I have read, in this Murakami is bizarre and surreal with a strait-faced and honest tone. For me, he is so low-key at times that the momentum of the story lags. I read most of this book a while ago, put it … Continue Reading

The Long Ships

The Long Ships is a great, rollicking, loosely historical viking adventure by Frans G. Bengtsson. Or rather, a series of adventures all featuring the extremely lucky Orm over the course of his remarkable life. While they span Orm’s life – each story remains its own fireside tall tale. The book is in no way a dusty tome, and is easy to read in lively bits and pieces. A great antidote for a long drab winter.

Gourmet Rhapsody

I loved this small treat of a book. It makes me sad to read reviews that say there is no story here. The main character’s life is a story that is revealed bit by bit through is own memories and the thoughts of those around him. Barbery used very short passages to maximum effect. I found myself developing genuine sympathies for characters only given a brief page and a half of voice. And the life unfolded throughout the book in a flawed, colorful, haphazard way that felt genuinely human…. Not only was his story revealed, … Continue Reading

Count of Monte Cristo

I read Count of Monte Cristo over the course of a year, on and off. The short, episodic chapters were perfect for my back-to-school craziness. I could read a little or a lot. I could pick it up after a while and still remember what was happening (er. Mostly… toward the end I was definitely fuzzy on the relationship between Caderousse and Benedetto.) Excellently paced (until the last few pages when I just wanted to know what would happen already), charming, and more nuanced than I expected. It was a grand entertaining adventure tale … Continue Reading

Angel’s Game

Angel’s Game is delightful. Storytelling at its best with sympathetic characters, mysterious plot twists and a pervasive sense of adventure.

Stone’s Fall

Stone’s Fall was a good vacation read. Cerebral and convoluted, it requires attention to detail and a sharp memory. And at least a passing interest in economics… otherwise the dramatic events will not have the intended effect. I enjoyed it very much, but felt a little let down by the ending. The vast majority of the book was an intense, beautifully crafted mystery novel, and the ending added an unfortunate soap opera-y note. It worked – the logic and plotting were impeccable. But it felt emotionally manipulative.

Laughter of Dead Kings

I have read many, many Elizabeth Peters books – most when I was under 20, and very few since. I read the bulk of them when I lived in books. (I probably love Amelia more than several real people I know) And I read them now as more of a tourist – visiting old friends in familiar places. Because of this, I absolutely enjoyed Laughter of Dead Kings, but I will not say that it is good. If you love and miss Vicky and Schmidt and of course the dashing John Smythe, it is a pleasant … Continue Reading

Leather Maiden

Leather Maiden was delightfully campy and noir and self-confident. Well written and not overly serious. The crime wasn’t so revolting – I didn’t have nightmares. The story was dark but in a well-worn predictable sort of way. The characters familiar archetypes. I enjoyed it somewhat the same way I enjoy crime television… although the writing, character development and sense of style were all superior to the usual 45 minute NCIS episode. I will definitely read more Lansdale…. and perhaps watch less television…

Catch-22

Laugh-out-loud funny and completely devastating – Catch-22 delivered as only a classic can.  I was worried after the first 100 pages or so that it was a one-joke book, but the characters fleshed out and the story congealed and Yossarian became tragic and heroic as well as comic. What a character. So glad I never read this in school. Keeping close track of the characters and story-lines so as to take quizzes and have meaningful class discussions would have altered the way the relationships between characters and events slowly became clear in my brain. All … Continue Reading

The House Sitter

The House Sitter is typical Lovesey.  He’s sneaky – never seems to start strong.  Every one I’ve read seems awkward in the beginning so that I wonder what possessed me to read another.  But in this one, as usual, the plotting and characters start to deliver about a third of the way in.  Sometimes I just want a simple folksy British mystery and Peter Diamond hits the spot.  Satisfying and low key – just the thing for a rainy evening.