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Showing posts from July, 2009

Cannonball Read #44: Lisey's Story by Stephen King

I have to hang my head and admit that I thought Stephen King might be done. I thought that after his accident his books had headed downhill and might not be coming back. I mean, Dreamcatcher was kind of terrible in my opinion. Then I read The Cell and thought that maybe things were improving. Lisey's Story made me sure.

Lisey's Story is the story of Lisa "Little Lisey" Landon, widow of famous author Scott Landon. Two years after Scott's death, Lisey begins trying to organize his papers. As she goes through his things, her past (and Scott's) begin to catch up with her. It turns out that there are dangers approaching from within and without, and Lisey will need help from her crazy older sister...and possibly from her dead husband.

It's kind of hard to elaborate on the plot much more than that, because it's such an odd book. To say much more would give away some of the surprise, and I would hate to spoil it even the slightest bit for anyone who's thin…

Cannonball Read #43: Legends of Winter Hill: Cops, Con Men, and Joe McCain, the Last Real Detective by Jay Atkinson

This book was supposed to part of my July 5K, but I didn't get around to blogging about it on time, unfortunately.

The Winter Hill of the title actually encompasses the area where I now live, so the field trip portion of my 5K ambitions was pretty easy for this one. The church Joe McCain got married and got eulogized in is at the end of my block, maybe 60 yards from my apartment. The funeral home where his wake was held is across the rotary from where I wait for the bus every morning. The tiny Irish bar the author hangs out in with Joe Jr. is a place my friends used to hang out before it closed. The whole book is full of landmarks I recognize from my daily life. It's like being inside the story, although things are obviously significantly different than they were 40-odd years ago when Officer Joe McCain was walking the beat.

The loose framework of the book involves author Jay Atkinson spending a year working at a Boston detective agency founded by detective Joe McCain and run by…

Cannonball Read #39 - 42: Dennis Lehane's Kenzie/Gennaro Mysteries

Considering how much I enjoyed Gone, Baby, Gone (downer though it may be) I decided to go ahead and read the rest of Lehane's series featuring Patrick Kenzie and his partner Angela Gennaro. Starting with A Drink Before the War, and continuing through Darkness, Take My Hand and Sacred which all come before Gone, Baby, Gone and concluding with Prayers for Rain, I greatly enjoyed the entire series, though I found them somewhat mentally and emotionally exhausting.

All of the books center on mysteries that occur in and around Kenzie and Gennaro's home neighborhood of Dorchester, MA. Although I didn't find the neighborhood itself playing as much a part in the other books as it did in Gone, Baby, Gone, it did set the scene nicely for the violence and despair that encompassed the books fairly equally. The mysteries themselves were twisty and interesting, and most of the time I didn't know where Lehane was going until we actually arrived, which is nice for someone who reads as …

Cannonball Read #38: Drop Shot by Harlan Coben

Drop Shot is the second in Harlan Coben's "Myron Bolitar" mysteries. To refresh your memories, my review for the first book in the series is Cannonball Read #32. Coben's wise-cracking sports agent Myron Bolitar is back and trying to solve another case that rocks the sports world.

While at a high level tennis tourney to watch his latest young client climb up the rankings, Myron is shocked when a former tennis prodigy who had recently tried to contact him is murdered in the stadium in front of at least a dozen witnesses who seem to see nothing. Not only does Myron want to solve the case because he feels guilty that he never got in touch with the young woman, but he also worries that this case may hit a little too close to home for his Nike commercial-bound client. Myron (along with his sociopathic colleague/best friend Win) have to navigate through the dark alleys of the pro tennis world, handling psychotic mobsters, slimy trainers, hyperactive ad executives, secretive …

Cannonball Read #37: Something's Alive on the Titanic by Robert Serling

This could have been an awesome book. It could have been creepy and weird and disturbing and downright scary. Unfortunately, Robert Serling decided not to go in that direction. Instead he decided to focus primarily on showing off all of his scientific knowledge about diving gear and less on making his damn horror book...scary. Or interesting.

Something's Alive on the Titanic is a story in two parts--the first is the story of a crew of divers in 1975 (nearly a decade before the real discovery of Titanic by Bob Ballard) who discover evidence that the ship went down with millions of dollars of gold bullion aboard. They decide to locate the ship and remove the gold. Unfortunately, a great deal of unpleasantness occurs (SPOILER ALERT: Giant shark! Giant squid! Giant primitive dinosaur fish! Inexplicable machine malfunctions! Hurricane!) which dooms their expedition. Twenty years later, the American Navy (along with the sole survivor of the 1975 expedition) set out to steal the bullion, …

Cannonball Read #36: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

I had been trying to avoid the Dark Tower series, and had managed to do so for...well, let's put it this way: The Gunslinger, the first book in the series, was published in 1982, nearly three years before I learned to read. Why have I been resisting the work of an author I usually unabashedly love? Surprising though it may be to the few of you that follow this blog, but I really do try to put a cap on my nerdiness. I am perfectly happy to admit that I read most of King's novels, but...a fantasy series? Really? I felt as though getting involved in the Dark Tower books would push me over into the world of Trekkies, fanboys, and people who dress up like wookies.

Fortunately for me, my undeserved prejudice was undone by a bus trip. Last weekend, I went to the North Country with The Boyfriend for his cousin's wedding. The bus takes about 4.5 hours each way, and when I was gathering reading material for the journey I discovered I was fresh out of books I hadn't read. Normall…

Cannonball Read #35 (July 5K Book 3): Fire in the Grove: The Cocoanut Grove Tragedy And Its Aftermath by John Esposito

This 5K thing is exhausting. I've actually read all the books but the blogging is killing me.

The issue with my love of disaster books is that while I still enjoy reading them, there is only really so much you can say. "There was a disaster. It was a big disaster. Boy, was it really disastrous. A lot of people died. Whooo, I'm glad I wasn't there. Here's what society learned/gained from this disaster." I guess the things I enjoy about the disaster genre don't really translate well into blog posts. The acts of unimaginable heroism from everyday people are tremendous to read, but lose a lot when taken out of the wider picture. The historical context which frames the disaster adds an element of unexpected education (turns out the guy the Tobin bridge is named after was peripherally involved with the owner of the Cocoanut Grove club and kind of corrupt--although, as I understand it that is not necessarily a bad trait in a Boston politician.)

Even though t…

Cannonball Read #34 (July 5K Book 2): Rise To Rebellion by Jeff Shaara

The field trip I picked for this book involved going to see Boston's old state house and the location where the Boston Massacre took place. I went on my way home from work one day, ignoring the summer's constantly dreary weather to visit the place my country was ostensibly born. Turns out that the marker is on a traffic island. Yes, the location where a momentous event in my nation's history took place is now in the middle of the street, and required me to hop through rush hour traffic to see it. Not sure if that's emblematic, appalling, or a little of both.

The first in a two part series on the Revolutionary War, Rise to Rebellion is relatively good, though I wouldn't put it as high on the list as Shaara's Civil War works. Rise to Rebellion is the story of the events leading up to the Declaration of Independance and the battles of the Revolutionary War. The main characters include Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and George Washington from the Colonial side and G…

Cannonball Read #33 [July 5K Entry 1]: Gone Baby Gone by Dennis Lehane

I figured since this 5K is "Locally Grown" and the idea is to read 5 books set in places you lived/live/want to live, I'd choose books about Boston and surrounding areas, since I've been here for nearly 9 years. Then, I'd visit a place relevant to the book. You know, like a field trip. Unfortunately, I found myself cheating almost immediately--Gone Baby Gone is set in Dorchester, and I have no intention of returning to Dorchester.

Let me explain.

Back in 2002, my two friends and I were looking for a place to live for our junior year of college. I had grown up in the sheltered rural "suburbs" of central Pennsylvania. The Prancing Prince spent his formative years in the upper class suburb of Alexandria, VA. The Hindu Goddess grew up in Qatar. None of us had a fucking clue about finding reasonable accommodations in a city. We of course turned to the internet for assistance, and Hindu Goddess and I discovered the ideal place--a 3 bedroom townhouse! 3 stories!…