Die Trying

Child, Lee. Die Trying. Read by Jonathan McClain. New York: Penguin Audio, 2012.

Reason read: to continue the series started in honor of New York becoming a state…I know, it doesn’t make any sense.

Once again, Jack Reacher is in the wrong place at the wrong time. In an effort to help a disabled woman wrangle her week’s worth of dry cleaning Reacher is held at gun point and kidnapped along with the woman on crutches. Only she is no ordinary woman. She is Holly Johnson, daughter to the chairman of the joint chief of staff, only the highest ranking military post in the United States. Now it’s a race against…what? No one has taken credit for the kidnapping. There hasn’t been a ransom note. No demands for her safe return whatsoever. Why was Holly taken?
I enjoyed Child’s “peep show” storytelling. He would show a glimpse of what the bad guys were up to (obviously always no good) for only a few pages and then return to Holly’s FBI rescuers and their efforts to figure out where she had gone.
Additionally, Child’s knowledge of guns and their inner workings seemed didactic at times, but in truth it was fascinating. I reread the description of exactly what happens scientifically when a gun is fired several times.

Author fact: Child is a former television producer.

Book trivia: The scary thing is, this could be in our headlines today. Our nation has become so polarized and we are so numb to violence it wouldn’t take much for “this tinderbox to blow in your face” as Natalie says.

Nancy said: When reviewing Killing Floor I mentioned Pearl had previously avoided Child’s novels because she thought they would be too violent. She goes on to say, “Be forewarned: the books do indeed contain some intense violence (some I had to read with my eyes closed, really)” (from More Book Lust on page 42).

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the super obvious chapter, Lee Child: Too Good To Miss” (p 41).


Creature of Habit August

Last month (okay, yesterday!) I whined about how I have been feeling uninspired writing this blog. I think it’s because I haven’t really been in touch with what I’ve been reading. None of the books in July jump started my heart into beating just a little faster. “Dull torpor” as Natalie would say in the Maniacs song, Like the Weather. Maybe it comes down to wanting more oomph in my I’mNotSureWhat; meaning I don’t know if what I need or what would fire me up enough to burn down my yesterdays; at least so that they aren’t repeated tomorrow. I’m just not sure.
Hopefully, these books will do something for me:

Fiction:

  • African Queen by Cecil Forester – in honor of the movie. Can I be honest? I’ve never seen the movie!
  • Antonia Saw the Oryx First by Maria Thomas (EB/print) – in honor of August being Friendship month.
  • Shine On, Bright and Dangerous Object (EB/print) by Laurie Colwin – in honor of August being National Grief Month.
  • Strong Motion by Jonathan Frazen (EB/print) – in honor of August being Frazen’s birth month.
  • Beauty: the Retelling of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley (EB/print) – in honor of August being Fairy Tale month.

Nonfiction:

  • Florence Nightingale by Mark Bostridge (EB/print) – in memory of Florence Nightingale. August is her death month.
  • American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood by Maria Arana (EB/print) – a memoir in honor of August being “Selfish Month.”
  • If there is time: What Just Happened by James Gleick – in honor of Back to School month.

Series continuations:

  • Foundation’s Edge by Isaac Asimov (EB/print) – the penultimate book in the Foundation series.
  • Die Trying by Lee child (AB/EB/print) – the second book in the Jack Reacher series.

Early Review:

  • Filling in the Pieces by Isaak Sturm (started in July).
  • Open Water by Mikael Sturm.

July Mistakes

So. I never posted what I hoped to accomplish reading for July. Whoops and whoops. To tell you the truth, I got busy with other things. What other things I couldn’t tell you. It’s not the thing keeping me up at night. Besides, if I’m truly honest no one reads this blather anyway. In my mind the “you” that I address is really me, myself and moi; our own whacked out sense of conformity. Let’s face it, my reviews are as uninspiring as dry toast carelessly dropped in sand. It’s obvious something needs to change. I just haven’t figured out what that something is or what the much needed change looks like. Not yet at least. I need a who, where, what, why, and how analysis to shake off the same as it ever was. It’ll come to me eventually.
But, enough of that and that and that. Here’s what July looked like for books and why:

Fiction:

  • Killing Floor by Lee Child – in honor of New York becoming a state in July (Child lives in New York).
  • Alligator by Lisa Moore – in honor of Orangemen Day in Newfoundland.
  • Forrest Gump by winston Groom – on honor of the movie of the same name being released in the month of July.
  • Aunt Julia and the Script Writer by Mario Vargas Llosa – in honor of July being the busiest month to visit Peru.
  • Accidental Man by Iris Murdoch – in honor of Murdoch’s birth month.
  • Blood Safari by Leon Meyer – in honor of Meyer’s birth month.
  • By the River Piedra I Sat down and Wept by Paulo Coelho – in honor of July being Summer Fling Month.

Series continuation:

  • Forward the Foundation by Isaac Asimov. Yes, I am behind.
  • Blood Spilt by Asa Larsson.
  • Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope. Confessional. Even though there are two more books in the Barsetshire Chronicles I am putting Trollope back on the shelf for a little while. The stories are not interconnected and I am getting bored.

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Filling in the Pieces by Isaak Sturm. I only started this. It will be finished in August.

What startles me as I type this list is I didn’t finish any nonfiction in July. I started the Holocaust memoir but haven’t finished it yet. No nonfiction. Huh.


Framley Parsonage

Trollope, Anthony. Framley Parsonage. New York: Penguin, 1993.

Reason read: to continue the series started in April in honor of Trollope’s birth month.

As usual Trollope’s fourth novel in the Barsetshire Chronicle is laden with characters. One of the first people readers meet is Mark Robarts, a vicar with ambitions to further his career. The gist of the story is that Robarts loans Nathaniel Sowerby money even though Robarts realizes Sowerby is an unsavory character, always gambling and up to no good. Of course there is some good old fashioned courting of the ladies going on that complicates the story.
Trollope explores human emotions such as humiliation (Robarts not being able to afford to give a loan but does it anyway), romance (between Mark’s sister, Lucy, and Lord Lufton), greed (inappropriate relationships because of lower class status) and affection (bailing a friend out of a sticky situation). The subplot of Lucy and Lord Lufton is my favorite. Lady Lufton doesn’t think Lucy is good enough for her son (what mother does?).

Author fact: Trollope wanted to be a political figure at one point in his life.

Book trivia: At the end of Framley Parsonage Doctor Thorne gets married. Remember him?

Nancy said: Pearl said nothing specific about Framley Parsonage but she did say that Trollope is one of her favorite writers.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Barsetshire and Beyond” (p 15).


Forward the Foundation

Asimov, Isaac. Forward the Foundation. New York: Bantam Spectrum, 1994.

Reason read: to continue the series started in January in honor of Asimov’s birth month. If you are keeping track then you know I am off by a month or two.

In the beginning of Forward the Foundation Hari Seldon is forty years old and a professor at Streeling University. He is still trying to define psychohistory as something more than a mathematical way of analyzing society to predict the future. There are those who expect his predictions to save the Empire. Luckily, he is not alone in his efforts, but surrounded by key characters from the previous novel (Prelude to Foundation):
Dors Venabili, acting as guardian in Prelude to Foundation, is now Seldon’s wife but still insists on protecting him wherever he goes. When their granddaughter, Wanda, has reoccurring dreams of Seldon’s death it is reason enough Dors needs to be extra attentive to Seldon’s safety. We learn she has superhuman skills and never ages.
Raych is twenty years old at the beginning of Forward the Foundation and Seldon has adopted him as his son.
In Prelude to Foundation Yugo Amaryl had been a heatsinker in the Dahl Sector, the lowest rung on society’s ladder, but Seldon had seen something in him worth saving. In Forward the Foundation Yugo is now a respected mathematician, intellectual, and budding obsessive psychohistorian. For all intents and purposes he has become Seldon’s right hand man.
Eto Demerzel, Emperor Cleon’s First Minister and the “person” responsible for Seldon meeting his wife, steps aside to let Seldon take the position. After ten years as First Minister he grows sick of it and finds a way to retire. Fast forward twenty more years and Seldon is now seventy. As the empire dies Seldon finds himself struggling to keep up with the demands of researching psychohistory.
Asimov has a subtle and sly humor that threads its way through Forward the Foundation. One of my favorite moments was when Seldon was describing mathematical symbolism using water themes – rivers, rivulets, and currents. After listening to this Amaryl replies to Seldon “dryly.” Oh, the irony. My second favorite moment was when librarians were described as “the oldest Guild in the Empire.” Exactly.

Quotes I liked, “A paradox arises only out of an ambiguity that deceives either unwittingly or by design” (p 32) and “People tended to avoid the humiliation of failure by joining the obviously winning side even against their own opinions” (p 31).

Author fact: Asimov wrote or edited over 500 books.

Book trivia: The “Zeroth Law” comes up in Forward the Foundation. Instead of applying to the laws of thermodynamics it is in regards to robots and first appears in a different Asimov story called “Runaround.”

Nancy said: Pearl said the Foundation series should be read in order.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror” (p 213).


Killing Floor

Child, Lee. Killing Floor. New York: Berkley, 1997.

Reason read: New York became a state in July. Lee Child resides in New York. It’s a stretch, I know.

The best part about Killing Floor is without a doubt the character of Jack Reacher. Child definitely planned it that way. He sets up the series with an introduction to a man who is ex-military, ex-law enforcement, and 100% loner with a secret soft heart. Reacher doesn’t like to be tied down to any one place or person, but he can be swayed to stick around for a bit if the cause is good or the woman is pretty.
And now for the plot. Jack has wandered into a murder and ends up being the prime suspect because an eye witness put him at the scene of the crime. Seriously. Less than an hour after Jack arrives in town he is picked up for a violent, over the top murder. He knows he hasn’t killed anyone in Georgia. When the dead man turns out to be Reacher’s brother the plot thickens. How does Reacher clear his name, seek vengeance for his brother and manage to not fall in love with a cop? You have to read the story to find out.

A moment of disappointment: there were several points in the story that were predictable. I won’t mention the biggest predictable moment because it would ruin the whole plot. Let’s just say a guy you think you know turns out to be someone you don’t know until you know.

The sad thing about a book review is that probably everyone knows the name Jack Reacher, thanks to Tom Cruise’s movies. A tale more sorrowful than that? I didn’t know Mr. Reacher until I met him in the pages of Lee Child’s first novel, Killing Floor. Yes, I have been living under a rock.
Killing Floor is fast paced and quick with the action. If the rest of the series is anything like it, I can see why they made one of the stories into a movie. The choice to use an actor who stands 5’7″ for a character described as 6’5″ is a bit of a head scratcher, though.

Author fact: Child hit the ground running with Killing Floor. He has been getting great reviews ever since.

Book trivia: My copy of Killing Floor has a new introduction by the author. In it he explains the birth of Jack Reacher. Pretty cool.

Nancy said: Pearl admitted she previously avoided Mr. Child’s books because she thought they would be too violent. Indeed when I read the praise for Killing Floor descriptions like “the violence is brutal” “nightmarish images,” and “battered corpses.” In truth, some of the murders are over the top.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Lee child: Too Good To Miss ” (p 41).


Blood Spilt

Larsson, Asa. Blood Spilt. Translated by Marlaine Delargy. New York: Viking, 2004.

Reason read: to continue the series started in June in honor of Larsson’s birth month.

Rebecka Martinsson returns after killing three people in The Sun Storm. That seems pretty incredible when you consider Rebecka is a tax lawyer. But, she had a good reason. (In other words, read the book.) When we catch up with Martinsson in The Blood Spilt she has been on sick leave and struggling with post traumatic stress.
Police woman Anna-Maria Mella and her partner, Inspector Sven-Erik Stalnacke are also back in Blood Spilt. They are dealing with the murder of Mildred Nilsson, a controversial and strongly disliked and equally liked priest who was found murdered. To catch you up on Anna-Maria, she was pregnant during Sun Storm and is now on maternity leave a year and a half later after giving birth to her son, Gustav.
Back to the plot.
Anna – Maria and Sven-Erik have their work cut out for them. Any number of people could have killed Mildred. Husbands in particular had the strongest motive. Mildred’s life work was rescuing battered women from abusive spouses. She was responsible for households torn apart leaving the menfolk left to care for the children left behind and the upkeep of their homes. Additionally, Mildred was on a crusade to save the grey wolf which put her at odds with farmers and hunters alike. Personally, I could have done without the Yellow Legs subplot. I think the story would have held up just fine without it.
Rebecka inevitably gets caught up in the murder when she befriends a mentally challenged boy who might have witnessed the crime.
As an aside, if you are an animal lover this book will be really hard to read. Just saying!

Lines I liked, “And at the same time: loneliness had her on its hook, a barb through her heart, reeling her in” (p 176. “The hardness of the heart is a remarkable thing” (p 229), and “There’s no room for him among the grieving” (p 293).

Author fact: Larsson was a tax lawyer just like Rebecka Martinsson.

Book trivia: You can read The Blood Spilt without tackling The Sun Storm but if you are going to read both it is recommended to read the books in order, Sun Storm before Blood Spilt.
Another piece of trivia: Larsson includes a few references to cultural icons such as Astrid Lindgren (Swedish author who wrote Pippi Longstocking among others), Abba and Niklas Stromstedt. As an aside, the latter reminds me of Dennis Quaid in some pictures.

Confessional: I had to look up “Modesty Blaise” to see what Rebecka’s colleague was referring to when she said Rebecka was the firm’s very own Modesty Blaise.
Second confessional: I am always wary of “death seems to follow me” characters, especially when they have no business getting caught up in murder (like park rangers and lawyers).

Nancy said: nothing specific about The Blood Spilt.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Swede(n), Isn’t It?” (p 222).