Sunday, June 26, 2005

Books 31 & 32 -- I Was Productive This Week

Book 31 was a book by one of my favorite New Jersey native sons - Stephen Frey. He isn't a top named author and you won't find his books on the New York TImes bestseller lists.

His books follow a similar plotline yet I am intrigued each time I read one. Find a sap that is a super smart and great fella and put him in the race or threat of his life as the major equity traders in the world try to bring him or her down. Fight fight fight and bring the man down. End of story... everyone is happy a doodle.

The Chairman is no different except that the protagonist is the head of one of these firms and another firm is trying to bring him down. He fights fight sfights and brings the man(men) down. Everyone is almost happy a doodle. Good fluff and insight into the financial world.

Book 32 was a not too far departure for my normal course of reading. It was The Last Innocent Man by Phillip Margolin. I have read so many other books that I strayed away from the new author I was planning on reading. I snuck this novel in while on a trip with the new family as I had ample time by a pool.

THis book was perfect pool reading. IT was engaging enougha nd had a good enough twist at the end to charm my sensibilities. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a book to read on the beach. In addition to the plot and twists, it also focusses on the subject of client/attorney confidentiality that I find so interesting....

This was his second book. It was written in 1983 and his next book was in 1992. Gone, But Not Forgotten seems to be the book that made him a full time author and I will read that after I finish the following books.

A Long Way Down - Nick Hornby
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules -- Short Stories edited by David Sedaris
MAYBE the new Harry Potter book depending on how long it takes to read those other three.

Have a good one.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Book 13: A Long Way Down -- Nick Hornby

Any book that I finish is at least decent. I never finish the really bad books. And not just bad books, but a whole variety of books that for some reason or another I never finish. Usually I am just not in the right frame of mind for that particular book.

So, if I finish a book, it means something.

Of course, sometimes it does not mean much.

A Long Way Down is just one of those books. I like Nick Hornby. High Fidelity and About a Boy are two of my favorite books. I like Hornby's phrasing/style. That Monty Pythonesqe humor which often does not translate well into the written word. Unfortunately, he's still got the style, this book just lacked the substance.

The basic premise is 4 individuals meet on the top of a building on New Year's eve with the intent of killing themselves. Rather than jump, they create a support structure for each other. The book traces the four characters in a narrative style with each character telling a bit of the story.

The book really wrestles with what it means to truly live. Unfortunately Hornby just can't seem to pump enough life into his own story.

But I finished it, so that must count for something, right?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Movies, Movies and more movies....

Really only 3 movies.

This weekend my wife and I rented two movies (both her picks). She made me sit through Kinsey. Not great, not terrible, not just right either. For a rental it wasn't bad. But, I wouldn't rent it again.

Even worse, and not unexpectedly so, was Alfie. The remake with Jude Law. Do not rent this movie. It is 90 or so minutes you will never get back. Let me sum it up like this, Alfie is dating a married woman (so she is CHEATING) and he eventually dumps her because she gets too close. Later he runs into this woman again and he feels bad about dumping her. This is all part of some moral lesson that Alfie is learning about himself. The lesson should have been, don't date married woman.

Whatever. Skip it at all costs.

On the bright side, I watched The Motorcycle Diaries last night. Somehow the movie is able to be both melancholy and uplifting all at the same time. A worthwhile movie in the "buddy roadtrip" genre without being inane. I wish I had seen this one on the big screen.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Book 30 ... Already? Yeup

Book 30 was another of my favorite mystery authors putting out another one of his popular Alex Delaware series novels.

Jonathan Kellerman has written his most recent Alex Delaware novel and it is entitled Rage. Rage premiered this week on the New York Times bestseller list in the number 7 position and will remain for another week.

Kellerman is a talented writer and his latest effort is certainly one of his better Alex Delaware outings.

His novels tend to be dark and intellectual. I would concur that this one certainly delved into that world but I would recommend it for anyone who knows his writing.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Book 29 Took No Time at All

I finished up James Patterson's 2nd book of the year in three days.

If anyone reads the Women's Mystery Club series that he puts out.

4th of July is easily the worst of them all.

I understand he has another coming out in something like a month.

Insane.

Monday, June 13, 2005

#28 -- A Pretty Long One

IN anticipation of the upcoming Harry Potter novel, I picked up the fifth one in the series entitled "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

I remember reading this book 2 years ago and thinking to myself that I wasn't as impressed with the other four books -- especially the third one.

Upon reading the 870 page book again, I am surprised at how much I had forgotten and how much I had missed. I think the book was actually better than I had originally thought and has done a great deal in preparing the reader for the final two installments of the series.

The sixth part comes out in JUST over a month and i a looking forward to it.

Will I read it right away? Nah... but muh wife and I will certainly pick it up the day it comes out!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Reading List Gone Awry

Back in January I posted my inital reading list for the year.

If measured against that list, I have failed miserably. I have read 2 of the 9 initially listed.

But, I am getting back onto reading pace, completing two books since Memorial Day.

The latest two are:

#11 Embers by Sandor Marai
and
#12 To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose Farmer

Embers was one of the recommendations I got from the nice people of Joseph Fox Books in Philadelphia. Its a book I would probably never even look at in a bookstore. Originally written in Hungarian in 1942, the story revolves around the relationship of two friends that have not seen each other in almost 40 years after some event drove them apart. That last sentence is such an oversimplification as to be laughable. I am at a complete loss as to how to describe it. To some, it could prove to be a slow lumbering read. But something about the beauty of the words and the story compelled me to keep reading. Let me put it like this, if I had to rank my top 20 books of all-time, Embers makes the cut.

To Your Scattered Bodies Go is the first in the Riverworld Series. I actually caught the horrible telemovie on Sci-Fi earliers this year and thought the story could be an interesting read. It was. Sheer sci-fi pulp. Imagine if everyone who had ever lived on Earth was resurrected and given a second chance. That's it. The story follows Richard Burton as he tries to uncover why they were all resurrected.

It made for a good read. But, I am not going to keep reading the series. First the reviews for the rest of the series progress downwards. Second, much like the Matrix, the premise for the story is interesting enough, but there's no good way to tell the ending.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Random Ramblings

I have been in the middle of a whirlwind tour. Philadelphia for Memorial Day weekend. Got home Monday night, flew to Chicago Tueday. Landed late last night, back to Phila for a Phillies game today and on a train to DC tommorrow. I will get home Tuesday night and then go to Atlantic City for the following week.

Where to begin?

Books

I like Amazon for its recommendation wizard, and for some reason I have an affinity for Barnes and Noble. But, I always, always, always, try to find an independent book store in my travels. I didn't have time in Chicago. But, in Philadelphia I found two, Joseph Fox Books, 1724 Sansom Street and Big Jar Books, 55 N. 2nd Street. Joseph Fox Books was a delight. It is not very big, but the staff was very helpful, recommending some stuff that I would never have found through Amazon. Big Jar Books is more a used book store, but I found TWO books I had been looking for, so again, a winner.

Another habit I have when flying is to buy magazines I wouldn't ordinarily read. I used to look forward to going to the airport store and picking new stuff out. Well, in Phila and O'Hare (Chicago) the newstands are all run by Hudson News. So the selection in both airports was almost identical and not nearly as extensive as I seem to remember. I was very disappointed.

Before I left, I finished my 10th book, The Perfect Mile by Neil Bascomb. As someone who imagines himself a runner, it was a fun read about the quest for the 4 minute mile.

Movies

So far I have seen two movies on the trip; Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and Star Wars, Episode III.

Enron was a scary, albeit a little long, look at the rise and fall of the company. You should see this film.

Star Wars is Star Wars. I saw it in digital format in Chicago. I liked how the story wrapped up, tieing all the loose ends together for the Star Wars many of us love. But otherwise, if I had missed it, I would not have missed much. The digital projection was great, espcially since the movie was shot digitally. But there are limited theatres that have it.

Music
I picked up the new Audioslave (metacritic) I really like those guys.

I was very disappointed by the Virgin Megastore on Michigan Avenue. I was looking to pick up 22-20's album. It is relatively new (April) and a little obscure, but still this is a Virgin Megastore. Another reason to download with Itunes or some other service. No stocking issues.

That's it.

I'm off again.

When I get back I should have completed at least one and maybe even two more books......



Wednesday, June 01, 2005

#27 -- Election by Tom Perrotta

The Newark Star Ledger started a new column this week that will run all summer in their Perspective section.

It will feature famous writres that are from new Jersey and they will write a column about New Jersey related topics-ish.

The first column this week was by Tom Perrotta who is from Garfield, New Jersey. His column was interesting and neat even though my complaint is that it just ended without much purpose to it at all.

Regardless... I picked up Election by him as a fun little tribute to him. It is an extremely concise and powerful novel that was turned into a major motion picture with Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon.

The movie was fantastic and the book is tremendous. Perrotta is a talented writer who is able to tap into the human psyche rather well writing about how fallable humans are and shows us their innermost thoughts.