August 30, 2012

The Adventures of Gerard ***

*** The Adventures of Gerard, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1903

I ran across the rumor of the Gerard books somewhere and hunted down a Kindle version on Project Gutenburg. These satiric stories, which originally appeared in The Strand from 1894 to 1903, chronicle the career of Brigadier Etienne Gerard as told by himself. The style is thick and dated, but for one willing to dig, there is plenty of comedy of a dry sort.

I just discovered a terminally goofy 70s movie based on the character on Netflix. We shall see.

August 23, 2012

Horoscopes for the Dead: Poems ***

*** Horoscopes for the Dead: Poems, Billy Collins, 2010

For a guy who doesn't do poetry, I seem to be reading a lot of it. It's all Garrison Keillor's fault. He read What She Said and I was hooked. Click through and read it and you will be too. So, I rushed right out to my local Amazon bookmark and got a copy of the book that contained the poem.

I liked a lot of the poems. I read it through, twice, just to make sure I didn't miss anything, and bookmarked several of them. There's a lot to like in Collins, who was the US poet laureate from 2001 to 2003.

Once I get done with the novels in my queue, I might try my hand at a few stanzas. Here's a sample of a poem I wrote fifteen years ago.
The earthworm has a bunch of hearts
Which makes him romantic, sorta
I would have to be one giant heart
To love you like aorta
You're welcome.

August 16, 2012

The Serpent's Shadow ***

*** The Serpent's Shadow, Rick Riordan, 2012

I made the mistake of re-reading The Last King of Texas a while back, after reading 11 of his YA novels. I love Rick and as a former middle-school teacher he definitely knows his audience when it comes to YA fiction. But even more I love the depth and richness of his Tres Navarre PI series.

But this is about Rick's twelfth YA novel, the most recent in the Kane Chronicles. There's not much to say beyond it fits in well with his other YA work. Sassy attitude, nonstop action, cheeky gods and demigods. If it's an end to the Kane stories, it's a fitting end, but it leaves the door open for another book or three.

August 9, 2012

All Night Lingo Tango ***

*** All Night Lingo Tango, Barbara Hamby, 2009

I've never been much on poetry. It must be that I lack the sophistication required to appreciate it. Whatever the cause, I don't seek it out. But for the past year or so I've been listening to the Writer's Almanac online, going back into the archives. That's where I ran across Barbara Hamby and a two poems in particular, Hear My Prayer, O Lord . . . and I Beseech Thee, O Yellow Pages, which are selections from Nine Sonnets from the Psalms. I liked them so well, I hunted down the book they came from, All Night Lingo Tango, and got it for the Kindle.

I enjoyed most of it, but my poetry-challenged brain didn't embrace everything. It wasn't until I was finished and read the notes that I discovered that some of the poems are abecedarians, a special form of acrostic, in which the initial letters of words beginning each line spell out the alphabet in order. Hamby went one further and followed two alphabets, one going forward at the beginning of each line and another going backward at the end. She calls these double helix abecedarians.

That's a lot of work. I think I'll stick to novels.

August 3, 2012

Muffin Man for the Nook

It's the moment all you Nookers have been waiting for: Muffin Man is now available on the Nook, in addition to Kindle and paperback.

John Lawson, sheriff of the quiet Hill Country town of Bolero, Texas, attempts to quell a feud between the local megachurch and a construction contractor, but it escalates from picketing to vandalism to arson.

The case is derailed by the unwelcome return of John's free-wheeling bipolar father, who arrives in the same red Mustang he drove away twenty-four years ago when he abandoned the family.

But ultimately it is the muffin that his overzealous deputy bags as evidence that threatens John's ordered life, possibly beyond repair.
Brad Whittington is not only back, he’s at his best. I haven’t been this excited about a new fictional detective since Martin Walker’s Bruno, Chief of Police. Have no doubt: Muffin Man delivers!
–J. Mark Bertrand, author of Back on Murder and Pattern of Wounds
Whittington has baked up a winner in Muffin Man. With dry wit, poignant humanity, and a setting as rich as Texas earth, Whittington proves his fl air for storytelling once again. A great book.
–Tosca Lee, NY Times bestselling author of Demon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of Eve, and The Books of Mortals series
After six years of silence, Whittington’s highly anticipated entrance into the general fiction market combines his considerable storytelling talents with influences as diverse as Richard Russo and Michael Connelly. Muffin Man strikes a balance between comedy and drama and takes the trademark Whittington elements of rich setting, engaging characters, and turn of phrase to a new depth.

August 2, 2012

They Eat Puppies, Don't They? **

** They Eat Puppies, Don't They?, Christopher Buckley, 2012

I went to see Buckley at a signing sponsored by the LBJ Library and the Texas Book Festival. He was clever and articulate, as always. Despite my recent change of heart regarding Buckley, I picked up a copy for signing to pass on to the one who turned me on to Buckley. But I read it first. ;-)

It's classic Buckley, timely, funny, sarcastic, and superficial. It's the last one that has caused me to go off my feed when it comes to Buckley novels. If you haven't read any Buckley, you should definitely give him a shot. At least two or three.