What I’ve Read (2018)

I have been keeping track of the books I read for years.  This year, I have decided to commit them to digital memory (but I will probably back this up on paper).

This is by no means a place to boast, but rather just to record because there will (hopefully) be some great books here, but there will also be some pretty standard books and probably a few stinkers.

January

A Death at the Yoga Café–Michelle Kelly

Something Like Happy by Eva Woods

The premise of this book is not particularly new: A person who is dying wants to make the most of the last days of her life, and she wants to help a complete stranger make her life better.  However, I think Eva Woods handles it well.  She gives us characters that are human.  They are fallible, moody, and despite the positive optimism that envelops the book, the dread is not necessarily tucked away in the corner.

The idea that you can influence the life of someone is fantastic and I wish more of us would pay attention to that.  We go about our daily life, but we are not in the bubble we think we are.  Our words and actions have consequences both good and bad.

The book is both funny and moving, in unexpected ways. 

The Drop by Michael Connelly

The Hangman’s Sonnet by Reed Farrel Coleman (channeling Robert B. Parker)

Coleman has done a good job continuing the adventures of Jesse Stone.  He has managed to write some good mysteries as well as develop and challenge the characters.

Road To Valour by Aili and Andres McConnon

Books about cycling and stars of cycling mostly focus on doping and winning.  This book is so much better than that.  It is a book about a man who not only was a great cyclist, but was also a great human being.  War might have interrupted Gino Bartali’s career, but his accomplishments go beyond the bicycle.  This would make an excellent movie.

Crisis Four by Andy McNab

I’ve put myself in a series of books again.  There are lots of these to read and if I so choose, I ‘ve got a couple of years worth of catch-ups. (It is better than when you catch up and have to wait a year or more for the next book in the series) Of course, as usual, thanks to my library, I am not reading them in the correct order.

Typical of the genre, a very skilled operator fulfils missions.  There are wrinkles, life or death moments.  People die, things blow up.  Atypical of the genre, the hero is not a multi-lingual, brilliant thinker king of sexual conquest.  He is more of a meat and potatoes, sometimes rather thick man.  However, he will go to great lengths to get the job done.

I enjoyed it for the technical aspects of it.  The plot was quite fast paced and as believable as any in the genre.

February

bike book

It’s All About The Bike by Robert Penn

The premise is pretty simple:  A man who has cycled around the world decides the time has come to have his very own, custom made bicycle; from the frame to the all the minor and major components to the paint job.  Not only that, but he is going to personally visit the factories and shops where these components are built.   Oh, and he is going to recount the technological advances these parts represent as well as the history of the bicycle.

His dream read so cool for me.  I would love to have my own custom built frame and very high end (and durable) components.  Come to think of it, most cyclists probably feel the same way.

The book had a very clean and readable style, despite having to impart some rather technical information at times.  Anyone who has ever been on a bike and gone for a club ride or a solo ride of any length will appreciate this book.

Radio Free Vermont by Bill McKibben

I picked this up because it was described as a perfect antidote to the Trump era.  While it isn’t a direct critique of the administration, it is a beautiful idea of how one voice can sway people and disseminate ideas.  It is also a beautiful treatise on how small is better than big–big corporations, big farming, big taxation……you get the idea.

It is definitely worth reading, and I highly recommend it.

Legoland by Gerard Woodward

A book of short stories. Very modernist–which really means that most stories have a less than satisfactory ending.

Nightkill by F. Paul Wilson

Last Light by Andy McNab

Technically accurate, but predictable plot twists.  The hero is likeable, but …it just didn’t do anything for me.

Slugfest: Inside the Epic 50 Year Battle Between DC and Marvel by Reed Tucker

This was an awesome pick for the fan-boy inside me.  It chronicled the rivalry without favouring one side too much.  It had information from people on both sides of the struggle–who usually worked for each other at one time or another.

It had a lot of history to cover, so this book covered more of the management and parent company side, rather than the work of individual creators.  It really opened up my eyes to the world behind comic books.  It was fascinating and a little sad at times.

This is definitely a book for people who have ever read comics.  As well, fans of the current onslaught of superhero movies should love it too.

March

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Marco Effect by Jussi Adler-Olsen

A very enjoyable read.

April

The Hanging Girl by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Normally, reading a book series back to back isn’t something I consider wise.  This time, I was pleasantly surprised.  This one was entertaining, not predictable, and showed real growth of characters.

The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart by Lawrence Block

Stripmalling by Jon Paul Fiorentino

stripmalling

I have to admit it.  I laughed out loud on the bus and subway while I was reading this today.  It isn’t a straightforward narrative, but I enjoyed it nevertheless.  Books need to challenge you at times.  This one does it in a way that isn’t off-putting.

My only complaint would be that it was too short.  I could have used more of the adventures of Jonny and the various people who bounce in and out of his life….or whose lives he bounces in an out of.

The Burning Room by Michael Connelly

The Crossing by Michael Connelly

A Walk Among the Tombstones by Lawrence Block

Hector and the Search for Happiness by Francois Lelord

hector

I thought this was a cute story and there are definitely some lessons for life here.  It didn’t impact me as much as some other books like this, but it was a good flowing read with some nice touches of humour.

Into the Wild by John Krakauer

I had heard a lot about this book before I read it.  I had even taken the DVD out of the library but had run out of time to watch it.  I had heard lots of pronouncements about the person at the heart of the story, but didn’t give it too much thought.

Krakauer is a strong writer and the story is a good one.  Definitely worth reading.

May

The Troop by Nick Cutter (aka Craig Davidson)

First and foremost, in this digital age, I wonder why people bother using aliases when writing.  Other than making me look him up (which I would have done if I enjoyed the book), I don’t see any other reason.  I guess some people will look him up regardless and that might boost his SEO rankings or something.

As for the book….pretty good.  Not horrific as my librarian promised, but decent enough.  The author used some insertions of transcripts and news reports to spice up the book.  They were mostly useful.

This was a story right up Michael Crichton’s alley and had he written it, it would have been fantastic.

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden

People rave about this book and the author.  I admit that the writing is definitely quality, but I just couldn’t get into it.  I could only read a chapter or two at a time and had to put the book down.  It took me about double the time I would normally take.

I am not doing a good job of reviewing the book.  Probably that period in Canadian history is too disturbing for me.  I was definitely siding with the aboriginal people in this one–as was no doubt intended.  However, I didn’t feel connected or sympathetic to any of the characters.

The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck

Strongly written characters and the most delicate of scenes and circumstances made this a joy to read.  I might even have to tackle the Grapes of Wrath next.

The Devil Knows You’re Dead by Lawrence Block

The Matthew Scudder novels are interesting.  The plots are strong and definitely keep you guessing.  I would call them unflinching, but I am starting to sound a tad cliché. Read them.  Enjoy them.

June

The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky by Jana Casale

Okay, I admit it.  I was captivated by the title and picked it up for that reason only–the cover is uninspiring.

What can I say.  It is a novel with a very well written and strong female protagonist.  I appreciate being given access to her thoughts and her emotions.  I laughed when it was funny and I enjoyed it when it was sexually and satirically bold.  I genuinely cared about the characters and revelled in their triumphs and commiserated in their failures.

The book has a linear structure, but I don’t know if I would say it had a driving storyline.

Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer.

I have read a number of this author’s books (Flashforward might be the most famous) and I enjoy them.  Perhaps what I love best is how he puts science fiction in a very Canadian setting with very Canadian characters.

8 Million Ways to Die by Lawrence Block.

People who have read the Matthew Scudder novels would probably recognize this as the dividing line between the hard drinking Scudder and the reformed alcoholic.  I have yet to red the novels where he drank, but I am aware of the debate.

Lawrence Block put together an awesome detective story without the cheats and without the shortcuts that many novels take.  It’s fast paced but the frustrations of the detective is clear.  I wouldn’t make this my first read, but if you did, it certainly wouldn’t be your last.

Hope to Die by Lawrence Block

The biggest problem with reading a book series from the library is that they may not have all the volumes you are looking for.  I have been reading these books completely out of sequence and while it doesn’t affect the book I am reading, I find it bothers me.  The obvious solution would be to stop reading them out of sequence and have a bit more patience–if only that were possible.

Sleeping In The Ground by Peter Robinson

The Inspector Banks novels are really good.  The main character doesn’t have a drinking or gambling problem.  His only problem is a severely stunted love life.  He does okay, but never seems to find lasting love.  Maybe this is because he loves his job too much.

This particular volume was quite good.  If you’ve never read these novels, you should….and I will envy you because you can start at the beginning and you will have plenty of good things to read.

July

Jack’s Book: An Oral Biography of Jack Kerouac by Barry Gifford and Lawrence Lee

 

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5 Responses to What I’ve Read (2018)

  1. I see what you meant about being drawn to graphic covers. You certainly are! (And so am I.)

  2. I enjoyed reading your book reviews. I’ve never read a Lisa Jewell book, and now I’m intending to. Which one would you recommend the most? I also am rather judgmental about book covers: I don’t like those that show photographs of people – I think the reader should decide her/himself what the main character looks like. I prefer covers like The Winters in Bloom. In my own books, I use more of a background photo with the title getting more of the attention. But…I may try to change my covers at some point, like Jewell obviously does. :-0

    • Anthony says:

      Not being in the publishing business (yet), I really have no idea who chooses the covers, or whether this had to do with different editions. I do know that I liked the drawn covers more in this case.
      I also like photographs that just depict something (like School of Terminal Velocity).
      If you do change the covers, it will mean more that you can display (on your shelf or on your wall).

      As for which Lisa Jewell book to read…..I would say Roommates Wanted or the Making of Us. They were just different enough, but full of good insights without being too heavy handed.

    • Anthony says:

      Thanks also for your compliment about my reviews. Based on what I have read on WP, most people want long very detailed book reviews–at least that is what popular bloggers seem to write.
      I am not so inclined. Maybe this is the result of too many literary essays at university. Maybe this is because I don’t want to spoil the book for you. I am not sure.

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