Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 64 -- Writer's Doubt

by Bryan Hutchinson

Started: Dec. 26
Finished: Dec. 31

Notes: Doubt isn't generally one of my problems as a writer, but the holiday blahs have hit me lately and I've not felt much like writing. Plus a writer friend suggested this one a while. Maybe this will kick me back into gear.

Mini review: The beginning writer could get a lot of "rah-rah" from this book, but I'm not as sure a longer-term pro would derive as much, though I suppose it couldn't hurt. Did this one help me any? Hmm, maybe. I definitely gained a story idea or two from reading this, and that always is nice.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My gifts featured at Skallagrim's YouTube channel

I'll let the video speak for itself except to say that if you have interests in historical weapons, I highly suggest regularly checking out the YouTube channel of Skallagrim.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 63 -- Wanted

by Nick Stephenson

Started: Dec. 21
Finished: Dec. 26

Notes: This Brit author has become somewhat well known for his Leopold Blake thriller novels, but also for his marketing expertise. This is the first of the Blake novels, Blake being the last surviving member of a wealthy family who has turned his money and skills into making him a criminology consultant.

Mini review: Not bad. It's what I tend to think of as a light thriller, sort of along the lines of a Lee Child or James Patterson. A fair amount of action, somewhat interesting characters, but not a lot of depth. There's nothing wrong with that if it's what you're looking for. Here Leopold Blake and companions become involved in a mystery in Paris with enough twists and turns to make things interesting.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 62 -- Nocturne

by Ed McBain

Started: Dec. 17
Finished: Dec. 21

Notes: Since the end of the year is almost here, I thought I'd get in another 87th Precinct novel, which are almost always favorites. Besides, it's been a while since I've read some McBain.

Mini review: If there is such a thing as a quintessential 87th Precinct novel, this one must come darn close to being it. You've got Detectives Carella and Hawes working together to solve the shooting death of an old lady who had once been a concert pianist. On the side they pick up the brutal murder of a prostitute, but then Detective Ollie Weeks from the 88th steps in on this case as it's connected to two murders he's picked up. You've got background players scrambling for money. Three or four major plot lines, some related and some not. It's all kind of here. By that I do not mean this is a bland novel. The action and mystery flows throughout, and this might be one of the more complicated of the 87th novels as far as linking evidence to a suspect. In the end there's a touch of humanity, a common last-chapter element for McBain's police procedurals, and as always, it works.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 61 -- The Third Option

by Derek Gunn

Started: Dec. 17
Finished: Dec. 17

Notes: This is an author new to me, which is nice, but he has also worked with Permuted Press, of which I've heard a lot of good things, so I have some high hopes here. This one looks to be a weird western, and those can be lots of fun.

Mini review: This was a pretty darn good tale with some solid writing. However, I felt it ended far too soon. Yes, I wanted more, but this also didn't feel like a complete story to me. It leads right up to what could have been a truly great story with a prime climax, but it gets cut short. Actually, this reads like a prologue or first chapter, which would be great if it really were (it's not, unfortunately ... I've looked). Based upon the strong writing alone, however, I think this writer is worth watching.

Books read in 2014: No. 60 -- Empire of the East

by Fred Saberhagen

Started: Dec. 1
Finished: Dec. 17

Notes: Back in the '80s I read all of Saberhagen's Swords novels and loved them. This book is actually a collection of three novels which provide background material for the Swords series. I should have read this decades ago, but time slips past. At least I'm here now.

Mini review: This one was a bit hit and miss for me. The first two novels of these three were fun in that goofy 70s fantasy kind of way, but the third became bogged down for a long while until the last 50 pages or so, but those 50 pages turned out to be the best part of all. And I had forgotten how wooden Saberghagen's characters could be, especially his protagonists; the villains here had far more life than any of the good guys, but especially the protagonist, Rolf. My complaints aside, this was a nice blast from the past.