Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Book Club - May 2015 Reading List

Only 6 books read this month. I'm never gonna make that 100-books read in 2016 goal.  Dang. Anyway, some interesting stuff this month.

This was a free Kindle book I got through BookBub.com. It was OK. There's a project going on in deep space to cause a star to explode. I'm not clear on the stated purpose of the project but the secret purpose is to open a gateway, for the those supporting the project, to new star systems for colonization. But the chief of the project, the only guy who really understands how it's supposed to work, has been kidnapped by another star power, which opposes the project, and injected with nanobots which will make him destroy the project. Oh, and the star is sentient. Lots of science fiction concepts thrown in here. It is apparently the first book of a series. It was entertaining but not enough to make me want to read any more in the series.

I like Neal Stephenson but had put off reading this for a few years, mainly due to the length. But I decided to tackle it (another reason I'm not going to reach 100 books is that I keep picking up books that have 800 plus pages like this one). The title is pronounced Seven Eves which took me awhile to figure out. I liked the premise. All of a sudden, for reasons nobody figures out, the moon explodes. At first it's a novelty, the seven pieces of the moon orbiting together (an early, but false, idea of what the title meant). But after some calculations, smart people figure that within a year or two, the pieces would grind down and start to rain down on the earth, turning the surface of the planet into molten slag and killing everyone. So countries band together to expand the ancient International Space Station, so it can support a population large enough to ensure that mankind can recolonize the earth when it cools down in 5,000 years. The book was part human interest story, part graduate course in orbital mechanics and part management principles. The human interest part was pretty good, but the other stuff, perhaps as much as 2/3 of the 837 pages, was pretty dry.

I'm not a big reader of celebrity autobiographies (even though I read Dick Van Dykes' last month). I saw this in my library bookstore and remembered seeing Short plugging the book on a late night talk show. I think Short is a pretty funny guy but he can be hard to take sometimes. His act consists of a stable of characters he really gets into with costumes and make-up. Some of his characters I don't like much. I enjoyed the book. it was very inside-Hollywood. He's about my age so, even though he's Canadian, he and I share a lot of common influences. In my 20's my crowd was very into the first couple of iterations of "Saturday Night Live". Short was a bit late to that crowd but he, Steve Martin, Dan Aykroid, John Belushi, etc. all worked together on various project that I mostly liked. So it was interesting to see how that whole scene evolved.

 This book takes place on a small island off the coast of Washington state. It's 1954 and a local fisherman has been found dead, drowned and caught in his own fishing net at sea. But he'd also been hit in the head hard enough to crush is skull. Suspicion falls on a local American-born Japanese fisherman, who gets arrested for the murder. The novel uses the trial as a device to tell the various stories of the people involved and the complicated interactions between them over the past 20-30 years. This includes the WWII interment of the Japanese, who had been living on the island for over 50 years; the experiences of islanders in the war; the fragile economy of the island, depending on strawberry farming and fishing; and a relationship between a teenage Japanese girl and a teenage white boy from before the war. There was a 1995 movie made from the book which I haven't been able to find. I highly recommend this book.

This is the first, excellent novel, of a long series about private detective Elvis Cole and his mysterious partner Joe Pike. Good hard-boiled detective fiction if you like that sort of thing. I had read the latest book in the series and liked it. Amazon reviewers didn't think it was Crais' best work but I enjoyed it enough to start the series from the beginning.

I'm kinda of addicted to Jack Reacher books, even though that pretty much read the same. The slight difference is plot and the situations Reacher gets into just keep me coming back for more. But Jack may be ready to settle down. He suffers a concussion early in the book when a guy hits him in the head harder than he remembered ever being hit. He refuses to accept that he's been damaged in any way, putting himself and the people he's trying to help in danger. At the end of the book he acknowledges his error and agrees to hang around awhile with the inevitable female attraction. By the way, the bad guys in this are probably the nastiest bad guys Lee Child has ever come up with.

1 comment:

Billy Kingsley said...

I enjoy your book reviews. I rarely read fiction novels but I enjoy reading your reviews nonetheless. I have debated starting a book review blog for history books but have not pulled the trigger yet.