Monday, February 1, 2016

Book Review - January 2016 Reading List

I've taken the 100-book reading challange for 2016. I'm already behind.

The second of the Harry Bosch police procedural published in 1993. It's interesting to read this sort of book from the long ago time of 1993. Whenever Bosch is driving around and has to contact someone, he has to pull over to a pay phone. He types reports into a computer shared with the entire squad room picking his way through the amber printing on the screen. Everybody smokes. Detective Bosch, trying to close cases of his own, takes on some cases from another detective recently dead through suicide. He starts to see connections between cases which leads him to places his superiors don't want him to go.  My library has this in paperback form published in 1994. The book is so worn it was hard to turn the pages.

I always like reading Richard Schickel's movie reviews, first in Life Magazine (a long time ago) and later in Time. The first part of this book delved into silent films, which I don't know too much about and which a largely skimmed. But he eventually gets to a more modern era (like after I was born) and the movies were more familiar to me and I'd actually seen many of them. Not so much movie reviews as Schickel's remembrances of his favorite movies and why he liked them.

I picked this up several times in 2015, decided to skip it, but eventually brought it home. The premise is that the war of two alien species, much more advanced than humanity, has rolled over the Earth. Caught in the crossfire, humanity is almost eliminated. From the wreckage, a seeming human savior arises. The story was a little slow at times, but kept my interest. As I neared the end of the book I was wondering if this was going to be the first of a series, as I couldn't see any possible salvation. The ending was a little bit deus ex machina but I thought it worked.

I read Vol. 1 of this last year and since I got it for Christmas, I'll also be reading Vol. 3 this year.  Cushman reviews the story behind each "Star Trek" episode from the series second season. He covers such things as where the idea for a story came from, who wrote it, the editing and re-writing, the sets, casting, production and response to each show. If you're a fan like me, I think you'll like it.

 I'm not much for short story collections but I'd read stuff by Mieville I've liked so thought I'd give it a try. It was a difficult book. Many of the stories start out as good ideas but he almost never delivers on the opening premise. Many stories just start to get interesting but end without any resolution. You may find this book frustrating. Many people on Amazon did. As did I.

This is Gillian Flynn's second novel. I'd read her third "Gone Girl" last year after having seen the movie based on it. The story is told in three voices. Libby Day is a 30-something woman whose family was brutally murdered when she was 7-years-old. As you might expect she's still a bit disturbed. She comes in contact with a group of people who are convinced that the convicted killer, Libby's brother Ben, is innocent. The second voice is Ben Day. His story is told from his perspective on the day of the murder when he was 15 years old. He narrates his day from when he got up until the murders happen after midnight. The third voice is Patty Day, Libby's and Ben's mother. She also narrates the murder day. In much the same way as she did in "Gone Girl", we see multiple parts of the story, Libby's memories of the day, and Ben's and Patty's views of the same events but through entirely different lenses. The ending felt a bit contrived as I don't think Flynn set it up well, but I liked the book. I plan to read her first book this year.

 This is a book that I abandoned halfway through. I hate doing that. The book concerns the well-developed lunar colonies 2-3 generations from now. The book was about 5 large corporate families that control all the industry on the moon. There seemed no good reason to set the story on the moon. It could have been anywhere. There were a lot of individual characters and complicated relationships among the families and I was having a real hard time keeping everybody straight. At about the halfway point I checked the ending and it seemed clear this was planned as the first of a series. That's when I thought, this is enough. It's too bad because I generally like Ian McDonald.

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