Posts Tagged ‘2 out of 5’
Almost at the halfway point through the year, when I look back at my reading log for 2009 thus far, I can see that I’ve definitely been delving more into the mystery genre than I have in years past. Sometimes I worry that my reading is becoming too firmly ensconced in the detective fiction realm, but then again, I think we all have our own little reading jags that we go on, and sometimes you just need to binge for a while to get it out of your system. Another side effect of said binging is that you start to get a tad more discerning, with certain writers rising to the top and others not so much. It’s kind of like when I first started to drink wine – to my unrefined palate, all wines tasted alike (namely, like “wine”), but after 7 years of drinking the stuff (in moderation, mind you! Most of the time…), I finally have some definite preferences. Similarly, every book I read helps me hone my concept of who I am as a reader, and each mystery novel I read also gives me a more specific knowledge regarding that genre.
On the surface, Publish & Perish is a mystery novel I should have liked. Dr. Ben Reese is on sabbatical at Oxford when he is awoken by a call at 2 in the morning from his good friend and colleague Richard West. He says he has uncovered an injustice that has long been hidden, and only the two of them can bring the culprit to justice. However, before Richard can go into further detail, the call is cut short and when Ben next hears from Richard, it is actually in the form of a telegram telling him that Richard died of a heart attack that night. Ben flies home to attend the funeral, and whilst there begins to poke around… although there’s no direct evidence that a crime was committed, something doesn’t sit right with Ben and he soon finds himself investigating the murder of his friend.
The hardest books (or novellas, as the case may be) to write about are the ones that I feel completely apathetic towards. There’s nothing ostensibly wrong about them that I can nitpick to high heaven, but there’s also nothing glimmering and wonderful to get me all worked up about, so I wind up simply feeling like all I want to write about them is one word: Meh. That’s how I feel about The Final Solution by Michael Chabon. Unfortunately, “meh” doesn’t really make for an interesting entry, so I will try my darndest to say something about this wholly unremarkable slip of a book.
The story revolves around a mute Jewish boy who flees to England to escape persecution in Germany. His only companion is an African parrot named Bruno, who trills out a mysterious stream of numbers every so often. Many people are pretty interested in Bruno and what these enigmatic numbers might be the key to, so to make a short story even shorter, one day a guest staying with the family harboring the mute Jewish boy is found clubbed to death and Bruno is nowhere to be found. Although the murder holds little enticement for him, an aged detective with a penchant for tweed and beekeeping decides he will take up the case of locating Bruno and returning him to his young master.
What happened to us? I know that the prince and I have had our ups and downs over the years, but I still believed. He wasn’t good about returning calls and was always late for everything and what do yellow roses mean, anyway? But this, blatantly phoned-in, latest effort has me thinking that not even counseling can save us.
Ahem. I recently finished playing the latest installment of the Prince of Persia franchise, and since this game was released more than three months ago I’ll dispense with any pretense about this being a timely review or anything like that. Instead, I’ll create some talking points and assume that anyone who is interested in this game has already played it. I’ll also show my cards early in the game: I think that Prince of Persia 2: Warrior Within is one of the best games ever made. Ever. This latest installment continued what I consider a downward spiral of what could have been an excellent, potentially unmatched, franchise.
First, the good. Then the bad. Then the why.
It should come as no surprise that Tony & I are huge dog people (in that we love dogs, not that we are part dog. See this Demetri Martin clip for clarification.). Because of this love, we tend to watch a lot of movies that feature dogs, and coo along adoringly when those adorable little canine scamps turn up onscreen. Through this movie-watching exercise, I’ve come to believe that movie makers exploit our love of dogs, namely by making some truly horrendous films that ostensibly revolve around dogs or the love of same. I mean, for every My Dog Skip, you have a Must Love Dogs, or a Beverley Hills Chihuahua, or even a, you guessed it, Year of the Dog. [For the record, Tony & I have not seen Beverley Hills Chihuahua, nor do we have any plans to do so] These are some bad movies, people, so be forewarned and avoid them if you either: a) love dogs; b) love movies; or c) love yourself.
Ah Netflix, allower of guilt-free movie watching. I know in my heart that there is no way I would ever have seen this movie if it wasn’t for “free.” As it is, this little gem showed up in our mailbox the other night and both Steph and I knew it was going to be delightful.
The premise is this: unlikeable guy who has no direction in life and a bitchy girlfriend who has made a cuckold of him with his best friend gets caught up in a ploy run by an association of professional assassins formerly known as “The Weavers” (lame) but who now go by the much more kick-ass “The Fraternity” even though a woman is one of their top guns. So anyway, he has some sort of poorly conceived adrenaline-related time slowing ability and they need him to kill some people. Enough said.
Since delving into the online book reading community, I’ve come across a few sites that offer members the opportunity to read and review “Advance Reader Copies” (ARC). I figured what could be better than having free books shipped to my door, and eagerly signed up for the titles that looked interesting. Eve is the second such book that I’ve actually snagged in such a way, and is due out in bookstores on Jan 27, 2009.
Eve is a retelling of the story of Adam & Eve, tracing their time together in the Garden, their fall, and their life thereafter. It is told through the eyes of Eve, as well as her three daughters, Naava, Aya, and Dara. Eve’s story is told largely in retrospect, while her daughters collectively tell the family’s story beginning at a later date, beginning around the time the family encounters an encroaching civilization, one that is polytheistic at that.
Splat. That pretty much sums up Messenger of Truth, the fourth entry in the Maisie Dobbs series. Normally these books are innocuous comfort reads that are pretty much guaranteed to satisfy me, and are a pretty safe bet if I’m not sure what I really want to read next. Not so this time.
Messenger of Truth sees Maisie called on to investigate the death of artist Nicholas Bassington-Hope, who by the looks of it, plummeted off of his scaffolding in what the police have concluded was an unfortunate accident. As is par for the Maisie Dobbs course, along the way she winds up with a few intertwined mysteries (this time involving coastline smugglers) on her hands, but in the end she cracks all of the cases. I don’t know what it was about this novel, but I found it really hard to read because the story just didn’t grab me this time. I didn’t really care how things turned out this time, and even though art deaths sound all sexy and intrepid, I was seriously bored. At one point I almost considered just skimming to the end or seeing if this book was written about on Wikipedia to find out what had happened, because I was that uninterested. Then again, part of the thing about series is that the continuity that flows from one book to the next is rarely due to the outcome of cases, but rather what happens to the recurring characters throughout the novel. So I stuck with it, but if it hadn’t been part of a series I was already enjoying, I would have likely stopped. So unless you’re already a fan of this series, you might want to steer clear of this one. Because seriously: Snoozefest 2009.
Oh bother. Mark Haddon is probably best known for his book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (which is a really great book, and if you haven’t read it, I strongly suggest you do, because it is highly probable that you will like it. Also, it is vastly superior to this less than awesome book.). Based on the strength of that novel (and a debut novel at that!), I picked up his second offering, A Spot of Bother. I am sad to report that this was a mistake.