Thursday, August 26, 2010

Summer Vacation Reading List

by Michelle Gagnon

This post is coming in a bit late thanks to United airlines and their travel delays- apologies for that.

In my last post, I asked for advice on what to read during my vacation- and got lots of great tips. Thanks to the abrupt failing of my first generation
Kindle the day before I left, what I ended up reading turned out a bit differently than planned. So below, find a brief description of each book (excerpted back cover copy), along with my impressions:

THE HARD WAY
Lee Child

Jack Reacher was alone, the way he liked it, soaking up the hot, electric New York City night, watching a man cross the street to a parked Mercedes and drive it away. The car contained one million dollars in ransom money. And Edward Lane, th
e man who paid it, will pay even more to get his family back. Lane runs a highly illegal soldiers-for-hire operation. He will use any amount of money and any tool to find his beautiful wife and child. And then he'll turn Jack Reacher loose with a vengeance — because Reacher is the best manhunter in the world.

I enjoyed this one. Not my favorite Reacher book (which remains the one that follows, BAD LUCK AND TROUBLE), but solid. There were a few glitches, mainly in terms of the fact that yet again, Reacher takes longer than any reasonable human to figure out what's really going on. But THE HARD WAY was a perfect beach read.


STAR ISLAND

Carl Hiaasen


An actr
ess secretly stands in for a derailed pop star and finds herself stalked on South Beach by a crazed paparazzo – and befriended by an unhinged hermit who was once the governor of Florida.


I've always been a big Hiaasen fan, and this book didn't disappoint. Our current tabloid culture is laid bare, in all it's ugliness, the main character a thinly-veiled stand in for all the Lindsay Lohans and Britney Spears of the world. To love Hiaasen requires being a lover of the absurd--his books always read like modern-day Moliere farces. As that, I enjoyed them. Some of his old standbys appear here, although I have to confess some of them appeared in earlier books that I barely remember, so it was hard at times to keep track of references to what they'd been/done in the past. The ending was a trifle flat, compared to other works like SKINNY DIP, which still stands as his best work IMHO.


THE STRAIN

by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

They have always been here. Vampires. In secret and in darkness. Waiting. Now their time has come.

In one week, Manhattan will be gone. In one month, the country. In two months--the world.

I don't generally partake in the vampire/zombie books that are so ubiquitous these days. But this was a standout (and, more importantly, the only non-bodice ripper on the shelf in the local drugstore). So I gave THE STRAIN a chance- and wow. This was a thriller of the first order. Apparently the first in a trilogy, it details in unnerving detail the extent to which a pandemic could rapidly seize hold if the powers that be are more concerned about containing public panic than stopping the virus. A co-written effort between director Del Toro (PAN'S LABYRINTH) and Hogan, it was tightly plotted, believable, and extremely unsettling. On a side note, the opening scene involves the stalling out of a jet on the taxiway immediately after landing. What happened to the passengers wasn't pretty, so I don't recommend reading it the way I did- on a plane endlessly circling SFO.


So now that we've reached the dog days, what have you all been reading lately? I just started WOLF HALL, which I confess I'm having a lukewarm reaction to- the writing and plot strikes me as extremely disjointed, and I'm having difficulty understanding what all the fuss is about.








4 comments:

  1. Lee Child is one of those authors whose books I've had in my hands to purchase many times, but somehow never come home with. Maybe I'll give him a try.

    I loved THE STRAIN and can't wait for the sequel due out in Sept/Oct. Such a welcome change from all the "prissy" vampire stories out there. I read it almost a year ago, so I guess its time to re-read it in preparation for the sequel. :)

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  2. Too bad your Kindle died. That's what I'm afraid of with these ereaders--one short circuit and we lose a bunch of books.

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  3. I'm trolling the back list, currently reading DARK HORSE by Tami Hoag and just finished the second Jesse Stone novel, TROUBLE IN PARADISE by Robert B. Parker.

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  4. I'm excited to read THE FALL too, DL, although I'm still having nightmares from THE STRAIN. That scene with the little girl and her father- so oddly poignant and yet creepy and disturbing at the same time- wow. I was impressed with the level of writing and the amount of character description provided even with characters you only encountered briefly.

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