Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Open Tuesday: What Are You Reading?

Today we're playing off Michelle's questioning post from last week, and Clare's extolling post yesterday.

What are you reading right now? Do you love it? Are you flummoxed by it? Can you recommend it?

If you love it, what's it doing right?

If you don't love it, what's it not doing right?

Let us know!


  1. Just started The Passage last night so I can't comment on it yet, and sorry to say I've actively avoided Claire's post yesterday because of potential spoilers (thanks for the alert).

    Most recently of note I'm reading Tess Gerritsen's Rizzoli & Isles series, starting with The Surgeon and the Apprentice. Loved them both for the great characterizations. I thought her examination of confronting one's fear and the emotional struggle of (Being) appearing strong in the face of such fear was extremely well done.

  2. Finishing The Art Of War For Writers - let's just say I've marked it up with lots of yellow highlights & red underscores. Good job on that one, JSB.

    Terminated - Simon Wood. About 1/3 of the way though it.

    Fresh Kills - My first Kindle purchase. I'd say it's a page turner but it's more of a page clicker.

    This sounds like a commercial for the TKZ blog, sorry - but blogs are a good source for finding authors & their books. When blogging authors give up their time to provoke thought, encourage, & make helpful suggestions, I think it makes sense to show support by buying their books. It's a give & take, or should be. John Gilstrap's new book is next on the agenda.

    Okay - so I rambled off topic a bit, sue me.

  3. People talk about how wonderful THE HISTORIAN was, but I just couldn't get into it, found I didn't care about whether or not the narrator found Dracula. There wasn't anything in the story that pulled me in. I may be the only one who didn't love it. I was listening to an unabridged version and stopped half way through.

    Some books just don't sing to everybody. I didn't like Cold Mountain much either.

  4. It’s outside the genre here, but I’m reading Robin McKinley’s Dragonhaven--at least, that’s where my bookmark is. Her writing is solid, but the plot is weak. The story is pretty much about a teenager raising a dragon. All of the real conflict takes place off camera. In the world of the story, it is illegal to do what the kid is doing, but he’s hidden away from the authorities within an extremely large national dragon refuge and behind a buffer of other people. I suppose it is something of a rite of passage story, but the lead is too far removed from the consequences of his actions to learn from his mistakes. A lot of the relationship stuff is missing. Much of it is about what this kid learned about dragons. I would much rather see what he and the other people are learning about dealing with people.

  5. I'm working on two right now. FIrst is Fresh Kills. Yep, that's right. I've read Jim's and Michelle's. Really like them. It's actually nice to be able to read an entire story on one plane trip. Now I' don't have a Kindle, so I downloaded the Kindle software on my Netbook. It's not as reader friendly, but for short stories, it's okay.

    The other book is Even by Andrew Grant. Actually I can see some of Andrew's brother, Jim's (aka Lee Child) style in the story. I'm really enjoying the story also.

  6. I'm wading through Steven King's The Stand, so Clare's post about The Passage interested me.

    Some of the characters in The Stand are interesting, but the pace is very slow, and the writing feels wordy to me. Also, his helter skelter switching of POV within scenes is distracting.

    However, King obviously makes some connection with millions of readers so I'm trying to puzzle out what that is.

    Do any of you know why readers love King's work and have been so loyal over his career?

    -- Largo Chimp

  7. JRM

    I agree with you on The Historian. I thought Kostova was a great writer, her descriptions of these exotic locations were excellent, but a poor story teller, the plot dragged and I didn't really care about the characters.

    Currently I'm reading Boneshaker. My first foray into SciFi/alternate history. Unlike The Historian, the story is exciting and Priest's alternate Seattle is a great setting.

  8. Cormac McCarthy's The Road. I know he doesn't like to use traditional punctuation (quotation marks, apostrophes, etc), but I would find it more readable if he did. In this case, that is a small point, in that the book is probably a masterpiece. I haven't finished it, so I will reserve judgment on that last part.

  9. Upstairs bathroom: Wry Martinis, Christopher Buckley, Jr. - Great read.

    Downstairs bathroom: Plot & Structure, James Scott Bell - Excellent, of course.

    Nightstand: Passages, Connie Willis - Not my favorite.

    Elliptical: The Island of the Day before, Umberto Eco - getting a little tedious.

    At large: Out Stealing Horses, Per Petterson - quite good, so far.

    Airport: Mere Churchianity, Michael Spencer - 30 pages to go, a must read.

  10. Reading vol. 3 in Parrington's Main Currents in American Thought . He is brilliant. But he also reflects his era's bias against women writers. He blows off Harriet Beecher Stowe in one sentence as a lousy writer of emotional prose, and lauds for three pages the author of Breadwinners (who?).

  11. Largo...are you reading the unedited version of THE STAND (i.e., King's "restored" version?) I prefer the original, edited version myself. As for King's career, I think the answer is his characterizations. He would not be as popular as he is if readers didn't bond with his characters.

    Brad: hmmm. Lower bathroom. I have nowhere to go but up, I suppose.

  12. The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson--it's the true story of America's first known serial killer, and it takes place during the Chicago World's fair in 1893. This book is powerful and vivid--it literally gave me nightmares!

  13. I'm reading an ebook called "The Firestarter Sessions" by Danielle LaPorte--so far, it's a fabulous idea sparker for getting into the nitty-gritty details of what I want in life.

    Fictionwise, I just finished "Android Karenina" which was put out by Quirk Classics recently (got it as a review copy).

    I liked Stephen King definitely because of his characterizations and the ease of reading. The Stand was indeed a small bit tedious--I read the full version after having given up on the cut one in my youth--BUT it does get interesting again. You just have to hang in there a bit.

    His last book, Under the Dome, really wasn't as good as ANY of his others. The characters were the same characters he had already used and reused--that and I think the more I learn about writing, the less his style appeals to me.

    I haven't quite settled on another fiction book to read but I'm leaning towards "Special Topics in Calamity Physics."

  14. Kari - I really enjoyed Special topics in Calamity Physics so I'll be interested to hear what you think of it. On my e-book nightstand is War by sebastian Junger and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Haven't decided which I'm going to tackle next...

  15. I’m currently reading Breaking Strain (Arthur C Clarkes Venus Prime) by
    Paul Preuss (C)1987. This is the first of the Venus Prime series (6 books, if I remember correctly).

    I’m having a hard time getting into the book and stumbled through the first droning chapters in the hope my effort to read it will pay off. The first chapter holds no action until the very end when all hell breaks loose and the main character (who has lost her memory) is put on the run. The author continually repeats words, repeats them to clarify, and repeats them often(irony intended). Although this works well when used infrequently for rhythm, it gets old pretty quickly. Maybe my problem is that I’m too into writing my WIP to invest time on someone else’s story right now.

  16. Misery. I saw the movie many years ago but I'd never read the book. I found it on my shelf the other day. I read it in two days. Couldn't put it down. King's ability to give life to his characters just sucked me in, and I was awed by the fact that this entire novel basically took place in one room. And for most of that time, the protagonist was in bed. Wow.

    I'm trying to write my first thriller. I've got guns and explosions and wild murder scenes, but the tension and conflict in my book can't touch Misery. I know some more 'literary' types put King down a lot but I dream of having his kind of talent.

  17. James, I am reading King's restored (and very large) version of The Stand. You may be right about characterization being his secret. My interest in just a few of the many characters in the story is what is keeping my going.

    Strangely, my favorite King book is On Writing, and yet the allure of his novels eludes me.

  18. Just finished The Art of War for Writers - fantastic, inspiring, and written by none other than JSB himself.

    Starting Deliver Us From Evil by Robin Caroll. A page-turner so far!

  19. Hi Jim,
    I'm reading Shawn Grady's, Tomorrow We Die. I love things related to medicine. The first line of Shawn's new book is, "I spent the day chasing the Angel of Death." How's that for a hook? He's got a paramedic and a flight nurse in this one. Love it! He holds my attention these days and that's proved difficult lately. I'm about half way through it.

  20. In-between Lee Child's 'One Shot'. First chapter was really a great hook. Then some pages of dragging, but I didn't put the book down because of Lee Child's other books. And then came the Jack Reacher's logic and deduction. It's really an interesting 9th by Lee:)

  21. Stephen King's On Writing. Danged best book on the subject that I've ever read. I've never read much of his stuff, but just might start.

  22. I'm currently reading "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein. I'm sorry to say I'm not loving it. Too much narration and it just feels flat to me.

  23. Robin, I read a lot of Heinlein when I was in my teens and twenties and loved him. Now, decades later, not so much. I had lost my copy of Time Enough for Love decades ago, then a few years back, acquired another copy and eagerly began to re-read it. It was different, or, rather I guess I was different. And I had to put it down. Some writers are just for certain ages and that's that.

  24. @James Funny you should mention that because I read many of his books in my teens and early 20's. Loved his writing. I'm a book hog so still have those books. I'm finding 25 some years later that they don't hold my interest any more. Age does seem to make a difference.

  25. JSB: You're in luck. Just finished Wry Martinis, so Plot and Structure is getting a promotion to the upstairs bathroom!

  26. I just finished Karin Slaughter's latest BROKEN and really enjoyed it. I've read a few books in a roe from some of my traditionally favorite authors that disappointed, so it was a relief to find one that held true to high standards.

  27. I have been into Rogues, Riches and Retribution by Harry Taylor for a few days now. Its a pretty solid crime fiction, but its also very unique. THe players are all very real and I love that.

  28. Reklatively new to the site. Enjoying it.

    Had to quit Lee Child's "61 hours" at page two hundred. Had read him years back and was not hooked. With his success felt he warranted another shot. Had issues with credibility of plotline, emotional/social consistency of protagonist and a sense of stalled out story action. I am surprised by Child's success with this series. Any insight out there? What am I missing?
    Just finished "Hard Rain" by James Lee Burke. He is masterful. One of my favorites ...anyone with a suggestion on an author who is simpatico?