Saturday, January 29, 2011

We have our first...

reader's poll vote for the Nook.  How do you read? Vote on my readers poll.

Interested in ...

learning more about the books listed in my on the highlighted words, either author or the book title. For instance,  Tom Clancy's long awaited book, Dead or Alive, takes us back to the Jack Ryan days with his son Jack Ryan Jr  now being the central character.  Clancy hasn't written a Ryan novel since his 2003 thriller called The Teeth of The Tiger.  He has several co-authored books too, all a series -  Net Force, Power Plays, Op Center and now his latest - the Splinter Cell series.  Not sure how much of "co-authoring" he's done with these books or just lent his name, but either way they're a joy to read.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Golf using a Rake, a Shovel and a Bat...

Enjoy Golf?  Well, you're sure to enjoy Leigh Montville's, the Mysterious Montague, a true tale about Hollywood, Golf and Armed Robbery.
The Mysterious Montague: A True Tale of Hollywood, Golf, and Armed Robbery

The Mysterious Montague could knock a bird off a wire by chipping a golf ball, lived with Oliver Hardy, played golf with WC Fields and Howard Hughes and beat Bing Crosby while playing with only a rake, a shovel and a bat but Montague shied away from all the publicity, why?

A great way to get into the swing of things as the PGA starts anew.  A classic legendary read!


Time is ticking on Michael Bennett in James Patterson's latest installment, Tick Tock.  Michael, a widower with double digit kids of practically every ethnicity, storms through the streets of NYC hunting a killer as he struggles with.......well, I'm not going to spoil it for you. Pick up Tick Tock and watch time fly by!

If you're unfamiliar with James Patterson, here's a few highly recommended reads - Along Came a Spider, the first Alex Cross novel, 1st to Die- the first Ladies Murder Club, with the next one called,  10th Anniversary due out in May and  The Quickie- a stand alone thriller that will knock your socks off and puts Fatal Attraction to shame.  Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas, - is semi autobiographical and teaches us about life's juggling - too many balls in the air and you may drop one. 

For a bit of  fantasy, try When the Wind Blows, about several little kids who can fly.  It's one of his all time best sellers and has spawned several other books, for teen readers too. Considering the yarn, it's a pretty good woven tale!

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Patterson back in 2005 at a book signing for Suzanne's Diary....Several questions were asked, including one from yours truly. "Any advice for a struggling writer?" I called out.  "Don't quit your day job" he said. " But seriously, just tell a story. Tell a story like you would tell someone about this book signing..." 

Patterson's books are fast, thrill a minute, roller coaster rides.  Tick Tock being my 66th, I'm anxiously waiting his next book like a child at Christmas waiting for Santa to arrive.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


is an escape without the hangover!

Speaking of escaping, escape into the world of Jack Higgins.  Jack is one of a few pseudonyms of Harry Patterson , author of over 70 books! His most famous was the international best selling historical fiction, The Eagle Has Landed, the plot to kidnap Winston Churchill during WWII.  I started reading Jack in 8th or 9th grade with The Vahalla Exchange as my first and just finished my 54th, called-  The Judas Gate, his latest. Follow his well established characters of Sean Dillon, Charles Ferguson, Roper, Harry Miller and the Salder clan through the streets of London, Belfast, Northern Ireland and the swamps of Algiers as they hunt a British born Muslim terrorist who's gone the way of Al Qaeda. Sean, Charles and others have appeared in several of Higgins' recent novels. Looking for international intrigue? Jack Higgins is a great choice!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Books into Movies

How do authors feel about having their books made into movies? Do they lose independence? Larry McMurtry's third volume of his memoirs called, Hollywood, delves into the world of screenplays and movie making. You may recall McMurtry has authored many books that you find on Hollywood landscape - Brokeback Mountain, an original screenplay he helped adapt to the silver screen, Lonesome Dove and The Last Picture Show, where Jeff " The Dude Lebowski" Bridges and Cybill " MoonLighting" Shepard made early cinematic debuts, directed by Peter Bogdonovich, who fell in love with Shepard, and eventually divorcing his wife. McMurtry opens your eyes to the wheeling and dealing of hollywood and the risks and sometimes no rewards authors reap when books are made into movies.  Did you know that the movie Brokeback Mountain originated from a mere 11 page screen play?  There's hope for me yet!!

Here's a question for you, if a book has been made into a movie, do you watch it? Or if a movie was based on a book that you haven't read, will you read it? 

I find that once a book has been made into a movie, the image of those characters then become the image of those in the book.  Confused?  Example, in reading Alex Cross series by James Patterson, Alex is played by Morgan Freemen in a few films based on Patterson's books.  Each time I read a new Cross novel, I picture the character as Morgan Freeman.  Seems that it takes away from the readers own imagination of how characters should look.  Tick Tock...Tick Tock...well look at the's getting late but Tick Tock is also my latest read by James Patterson.  Interesting tidbit about James Patterson.  Its my understanding that he insists that his new releases are put on display on Monday, the day before most new releases are sold.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Stieg Larsson, playing with fire and other musings

As I muddled through Stieg's , The Girl who Played with Fire, the 2nd volume of  his trilogy, I sensed the same difficulty in keeping track of all his characters, Swedish names and places that I had in the first volume, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo back in August of '09. Getting passed that is challenging. Are Steig's books  as good as the critics say and are they as deserving of all the publicity that has been bestowed.  I began to wonder. One could argue the popularity stems from the authors life and the tragedy of it's end. If you've read one, two or all three volumes or perhaps haven't read any of the trilogy, I encourage you to read, Kurdo Baksi's book, Our Days in Stockholm, previously mentioned in my blog.  Stieg's life as Kurdo reveals,  draws parallels to Stiegs books. His life as an investigative journalist and the subject matter for which he pursues is similar in nature, both illegal and immoral. Would Stieg welcome the publicity and the cinematic representation of his first two? My interpretation of Kurdo's slant would be no. But  would he appreciate the attention his books bring to the subject matter.  I think he would. 

The first two  books were a bit demanding, but hang on because in the end Steig  gets down to business with the power and intensity of  one of Lisbeth's ass-kickings and the reader comes to the realization that his novels are well worthy of the publicity and rave reviews-- hot as if you were playing with fire! What will Lisbeth do next, kick a hornet's nest?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Goals of 2011 and thanks...

First, thanks everyone for viewing and reading my week-old blog. I look forward to more feedback and comments.

On the goals part I should clarify,  reading goals of 2011, not new years resolutions, we all have them, some are already broken but reading is a goal we can all accomplish whether it be one book or several. In 2010, quantity was the key ingredient to the literary feast at my household. This year perhaps quality is a better dish served at the table.  Classics such as Gone with the Wind, East of Eden, yea, okay I'm guilty, I've never read them.  Or perhaps a tome such as War and Peace( well may be not) but hope to focus more on classic literature and less mass market.  Perhaps a Dickens or another Hemingway whom I'm particular found of. Every read A Moveable Feast?  "...where ever you go, for the rest of your life, it goes with you, Paris is a moveable feast" -E.H.  One of the best books I've ever read. 

There is a guy named Follett, Ken Follett to be exact that spins a lengthy entertaining yarn. Maybe you've heard of him? With his new release Fall of Giants, the first in a trilogy, Follett will capture a good majority of my fiction reading in the first few months of 2011. World without End is his follow up to Pillars of the Earth,(an outstanding novel set in the Middle Ages in England) still sits on my shelf. Fall and World are each over 1,000 pages long. But don't let that deter you, Follett is an exceptional, best selling author - Eye of the Needle, Key to Rebecca, Lie Down with Lions  and Night Over Water are a few of his memorable books that although much shorter still pack a suspenseful wallop!

On the non-fiction side, I've set a goal to eventually read the memoirs of all the U.S. Presidents. Seems like a daunting task, but do able. So, I elect to read at least 3 this year. With some memoirs difficult to find, an acclaimed biography will be on my ballot as well. Did you catch the puns? Having read volume one of Stephen Ambrose's three volume set on Richard Nixon, I may read volume two this year. Or Clinton's My Life,  or Ronald Reagan's autobiography,  which was re-issued just last week in commemoration of his 100th birthday.

For music lovers, here's a note and  lyric or two of some that I've read in the past, Clapton, by Eric Clapton. Learn how a stay at St. Paul MN's Regions Hospital changed his life.

Tony Bennett's The Good Life - discover who  the young woman photographer/reporter was that conducted one of his early interviews. Hint, it was a woman who became very famous. Tony also has a great love of painting and has brushed many a canvas.

But I'm getting off track here and writing about  books I've read when the topic is goals for 2011.   I rarely read books twice but keep all books that I do read. Nearly 3,000 sit on my shelves. So back to my goals, Blink by Malcolm Gladwell   is a possibility -  the 2nd of his four books. His Tipping Point taught us how the little things can make a difference in business and life. How the slightest occurrence can act as a catalyst for other events to transpire. Quite the read.

What are your goals for 2011?

I'll conclude this post for today and get back to my fictitious weekend in Sweden with Mikael and Lisbeth.
The fire is spreading...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Non-Fiction highlights of 2010 - recommendations..

We mentioned a few in an earlier post, such as The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Paul and Me, and FDR's Funeral Train, here are some more that are highly recommended and you may enjoy...

For those interested in comedy, check out Dean and Me, Jerry Lewis' memoir on his relationship with Dean Martin-find out how much money they made as a comedy team in the 50's- - it will astound you!! Sh*t my Dad Says by Justin Halpern is a laugh out loud on every page, page turner. Much funnier than the TV show or so I've been told.  A great father's day gift or a no-reason at all type gift.

Business and Politics - Maria Bartiromo's, The Weekend that Changed Wall Street, a common sense look at the financial crash. Want to understand the how the crash happened in layman's terms? Then read Maria's book.  Decision Points - George Bush's autobiography where he discusses, Katrina, 9/11, Iraq, challenges with alcohol; his relationship with his mother. How many books does George Bush read? One year he and Karl Rove had a reading contest, not just by volume, but pages and size of the books - Guess how many they read and who won?

Extraordinary, Ordinary People, a revealing memoir by Condoleeza Rice who writes of growing up in racially charged Birmingham and the religious influence of her parents and grandfather. An accomplished pianist and figure skater who's resume is filled with distinguished firsts. - First African American woman Secretary of State, the first woman to serve as National Security Advisor and the first female, first minority and the youngest person to serve as Stanford University's  provost. Taught by Josef Korbel on the subject of international politics, Mr. Korbel was a strong influence on Ms.Rice desire to learn and study Russian politics. Mr. Korbel is the father of Madeline Albright, former Secretary of State.  Highly Recommended read. 

Heart of a Patriot by Max Cleland. Learn how a triple amputee survived the hell of Vietnam then went on to become a Senator and survived the jungles of Washington.  Regardless of your political affiliation, Senator Cleland's book is a must read.

Sports : Red and Me by Bill Russell.  The 11 time champion of the NBA Boston Celtics, Bill writes about his relationship both on and off the court with Red Auerbach, his coach, mentor and a patriarch of the NBA. Filled with anecdotal information, Bill teaches us how it's important " first understand then  be understood".

LiteratureThe Autobiography of Mark Twain vol. 1.  With the recent release of his autobiography, I was puzzled to find a much, much older copy of both volumes at my favorite used book store, given that Twain didn't want it released until 100 years after his death.  I've done my research and alas, Harper and Brothers released the edition I read dated 1924. Twain doesn't right in chronological order but his musings still flow like the river his books are so famous for.  By no means is my copy of a collector's quality, I'll leave that to the rich and famous but it sure looks good on the shelf!