July 28th, 2006
Richard Russo - Empire Falls - 295After all, what was the whole wide world but a place for people to yearn for their hearts' impossible desires, for those desires to become entrenched in defiance of logic, plausibility, and even the passage of time, as eternal as polished marble?

As Simple As Snow Clues

July 25th, 2006

creation - "forever breathes the lonely word"

how like a bird - "nycs"

set up - "better & quiet"

108 - "Even her eyes were constantly changing. They could be clear, bright blue and then suddenly darken and become almost gray. At times they would flicker with light, and I would swear that I could see them changing, with white clouds passing across her pupils, and the next second they would look like ice. She would stare at me or at some point far beyond me, or at nothing, with her eyes locked and still, not tick-tocking back and forth but dead calm, and the blues would darken and become as vacant and useless as empty swimming pools. I began to take note of her mood and the color and texture of her eyes to see whether there was some sort of correlation, some sort of code that I could use to better understand her."

41573 - "nycs"

a day before sunday - "stroszek

bbc2

80"

ik -- 1 of 3 - "yuki nae wears jil sander"

let no man... -

1. hullo stranger
3. mirage
4. look over the hills and far away
7. ophelia's song
17. the city's cry
21. stargazer
30. odyssey
34. spin

translated from the french - "paul"

gadabout -

Pull the curtains to the sill,
Darken the rooms, cut all the wires.
Crush the embers as they fall
From the dying fires:
Things are not going well.

91664 -

"My journey down to Alexandria was not without adventure, and carried me through scenes which, in other circumstances, it might have been worth while to describe. Thinking, however, that I have already sufficiently trespassed on the patience of the reader, I am unwilling to overload my volume with any matter that does not directly relate to the solution of the great problem which I went to solve."

Book of the Month - August, 2006

July 20th, 2006

The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A.J. Jacobs

The Know-It-All by A.J. JacobsPart memoir and part education (or lack thereof), The Know-It-All chronicles NPR contributor A.J. Jacobs' hilarious, enlightening, and seemingly impossible quest to read the Encyclopedia Britannica from A to Z.

To fill the ever-widening gaps in his Ivy League education, A.J. Jacobs sets for himself the daunting task of reading all thirty-two volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica. His wife, Julie, tells him it's a waste of time, his friends believe he is losing his mind, and his father, a brilliant attorney who had once attempted the same feat and quit somewhere around Borneo, is encouraging but, shall we say, unconvinced.

With self-deprecating wit and disarming frankness, The Know-It-All recounts the unexpected and comically disruptive effects Operation Encyclopedia has on every part of Jacobs' life -- from his newly minted marriage to his complicated relationship with his father and the rest of his charmingly eccentric New York family to his day job as an editor at Esquire. Jacobs' project tests the outer limits of his stamina and forces him to explore the real meaning of intelligence as he endeavors to join Mensa, win a spot on Jeopardy!, and absorb 33,000 pages of learning. On his journey he stumbles upon some of the strangest, funniest, and most profound facts about every topic under the sun, all while battling fatigue, ridicule, and the paralyzing fear that attends his first real life responsibility -- the impending birth of his first child.

The Know-It-All is an ingenius, mightily entertaining memoir of one man's intellect, neuroses, and obsessions and a soul-searching, ultimately touching struggle between the all-consuming quest for factual knowledge and the undeniable gift of hard-won wisdom.

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James Patterson & Andrew Gross

July 18th, 2006

Authors James Patterson and Andrew Gross have teamed up yet again. The two men worked together in the past to bring us four books: 2nd Chance, 3rd Degree, Lifeguard, and The Jester. The first two, titles from The Women's Murder Club, were decent books. I am not sure how much involvement Andrew Gross had in the books, but if the size of his name on the book covers is any indication, it was not much. By comparison, one might assume he had much more influence in Lifeguard and The Jester. I have not read Lifeguard yet, but The Jester is probably my favorite of James Patterson's books (of which I have read most). It may be without merit, but I attribute my extreme enjoyment of The Jester as James Patterson's writing to Andrew Gross's help. I have been looking forward to reading Lifeguard for the same reason and now I can look forward to their latest effort, too.

Judge & Jury by James Patterson and Andrew GrossAndie DeGrasse, an aspiring actress and single mom, is not your typical juror. Hoping to get dismissed from the pool, she tells the judge that most of her legal knowledge comes from a bit part curling around a stripper's pole in The Sopranos. But she still ends up as juror #11 in a landmark trial against a notorious mob boss.

THE JUDGE IS TERRIFIED OF THE DEFENDANT.
The case quickly becomes the new Trial of the Century. Mafia don Dominic Cavello, known as the Electrician, is linked to hundreds of gruesome, unspeakable crimes. Senior FBI agent Nick Pellisante has been tracking him for years. He knows Cavello's power reaches far beyond the courtroom, but the FBI's evidence against the ruthless killer is iron-clad. Conviction is a sure thing.

SO IS THE JURY.
As the jury is about to reach a verdict, the Electrician makes one devastating move that no one could have predicted. The entire nation is reeling, and Andie's world is shattered. For her, the hunt for the Electrician becomes personal, and she and Pellisante come together in an unbreakable bond: they will exact justice-at any cost.

THE VERDICT: RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.
James Patterson spins an all-out heart-pounding legal thriller that pits two people against the most vicious and powerful mobster since John Gotti. Judge & Jury is a stunning feat by "one of America's most influential authors" (New York Times)

Judge & Jury will be available on July 31, 2006.

Michael Connelly

July 17th, 2006

Michael Connelly, author of the Harry Bosch series, will be on tour in late 2006, mainly sticking to warmer states as the weather turns. Echo Park by Michael ConnellyThe new book he will be promoting, Echo Park, will be available on October 9, 2006. Echo Park is the twelfth Harry Bosch novel.

Visit MichaelConnelly.com for tour dates and locations. The list is complete with phone numbers for the locations from which you may order signed copies if your home town is not a stop on the tour.

The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

July 11th, 2006

The Da Vinci Code by Dan BrownWhile in Paris on business, Harvard symbologist Robert Landon receives an urgent late-night phone call. The elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum, a baffling cipher found near the body. As Langdon and a gifted French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, sort through the bizarre riddles, they are stunned to discover a trail of clues hidden in the works of Da Vinci - clues visible for all to see and yet ingeniously disguised by the painter.

The stakes are raised when Langdon uncovers a startling link: The late curator was involved in the Prior of Sion - an actual secret society whose member included Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, and Da Vinci, among others. Langdon suspects they are on the hunt for a breathtaking historical secret, one that has proved through the centuries to be as enlightening as it is dangerous. In a frantic race through Paris, and beyond, Langdon and Neveu find themselves matching wits with a faceless powerbroker who appears to anticipate their every move. Unless the can decipher the labyrinthine puzzle, the Priory's secret - and an explosive ancient truth - will be lost forever.

Breaking the mold of traditional suspense novels, The Da Vinci Code is simultaneously lightning-paced, intelligent, and intricately layered with remarkable research and detail. From the opening pages to the unpredictable and stunning conclusion, bestselling author Dan Brown proves himself a master storyteller.

For the longest time I put off reading Dan Brown's most popular novel. I am sure I was one of the last to read it. Opinions I read and heard before I read it only served to delay me further. Non-readers would say everyone should read it basically because....everyone else had read it. Readers would say that the writing was sub-par and if you had not read the book you should not waste your time. With such enthusiastic recommendations as those, I hope no one blames me for my hesitancy. The only one who should be disappointed with me for not reading it sooner is me. But it is easy to say that now that I have read the book.

Cast my early doubts about this book aside, it was brilliant. The conspiracy theories themselves are centuries old, but piecing them together in such a way and wrapping a story around them was masterfully done. I feel like an over-proud parent gushing with praise for a child's modest accomplishment, but The Da Vinci Code was the best book I have read in a long time.

The book was full of suspense and intrigue. I love a good conspiracy, especially one directed towards organized religion. I can see how Catholics might not appreciate Mr. Brown's book, but remember that the details are centuries old. He did not create them, he just wrote a hit book about them.

The book wrapped up well. I was afraid that he would rush the ending or worse yet, leave the book somewhat incomplete. I will not go into any detail about the ending, but I will say that I was very satisfied with it. I have my closure.

I like Robert Langdon as a protagonist. I like how Brown had him fumble around and trip over himself in a few situations. He is a professor and not an international adventurer. The book has somewhat of an Indiana Jones feel to it, but the leading men are not two peas in a pod...yet. Who knows, maybe when I read Angels & Demons I will feel differently.

I have heard from many sources that Angels & Demons is actually the better book. I am excited to read it, though I must admit I am not sure it can top The Da Vinci Code in my mind.

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July 10th, 2006
Richard Russo - Empire Falls - 248You can't possibly judge your ability to control something until you've experienced the extremities of its capabilities.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay - Michael Chabon

July 7th, 2006

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael ChabonJoe Kavalier, a young Jewish artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just smuggled himself out of Nazi-invaded Prague and landed in New York City. His Brooklyn cousin Sammy Clay is looking for a partner to create heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit America -- the comic book. Drawing on their own fears and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the Escapist, the Monitor, and Luna Moth, inspired by the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will become linked by powerful ties to both men. With exhilarating style and grace, Michael Chabon tells and unforgettable story about American romance and possibility.

Joe Kavalier and Sammy Clay seek to carve out their piece of the budding American Dream. In a time when the true American Spirit lies in opportunity, the two boys make a proposal to Sammy's boss to begin making comic books. They offer to write and draw the books if the man will fund their adventure. The man agrees and before the next weekend is over, their serial superhero The Escapist is born. As the book continues from the 1930s into the 40s, the war in Europe plays a greater and greater role in the story. Joe, who left his family in Europe, is affected most of all.

When the book transitioned away from comic books I thought that it was unnecessary and absurd. I thought the author droned on about the comics too long and that the contrast between old and new was too sharp. I thought that Chabon had two, maybe even three, book ideas in his head and rather than write them separately he held a private ceremony and married them into one. By the time the book was finished I could see clearly how wrong I had been. He did not talk too long about their lives as comic book creators, he did not transition too quickly into the war, he did not do anything wrong. It all came together perfectly. It was wildly imaginative and an incredibly touching story. Have faith. As you lose yourself in Michael Chabon's writing, you are in capable hands.

This is the type of book that makes you glad that people recommend books. My friend's mother, whose opinions have incalculable value to me, suggested a long time ago that I read this book. For months I put it off due to the length of the novel. I was afraid that at 636 pages the book would be too long, based on subject matter, for me to zip through. I waited and I waited. Enough was enough, I said, and I decided it was time. It was actually past time. I should have read this book before so I could pass her recommendation on to others.

I had not read Mr. Chabon's work before, though I am a big fan of the movie adaptation of his book Wonder Boys, which I am adding to my to-read list. I keep reading in search of books like The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

Side note: Michael Chabon has teamed with other writers and artists to provide Michael Chabon Presents. . .The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, Volume 1, a comic adventure which brings to life the comic book characters introduced in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

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Jeffery Deaver

June 30th, 2006

It is always nice to spend an evening with one of the people who fascinates you in so many ways. Last night I took a short reprieve from the hustle and bustle to see - probably my favorite author - Jeffery Deaver appear at the Baldwin Public Library in Birmingham, MI. It was a fun presentation by Mr. Deaver.

Jeffery Deaver

I have now seen Mr. Deaver on three separate occasions over the years. I try to make my rounds to see the various authors that I read and/or collect. By far Jeffery Deaver is the nicest and most personable author I have met. He seems genuinely appreciative of our interest in his work, not just the almighty dollar. Each time I have seen him he appears to thoroughly enjoy speaking to the crowd and interacting with people who take the time to attend his appearances.

I understand that anything read by the person who wrote it can sound more fluid than water, but listening to him read from his latest (Lincoln Rhyme) novel The Cold Moon did create a significant urge to drop everything and read it.

I have taken a recent hiatus from Thriller Fiction and explored other areas of writing. After having read almost nothing but Suspense/Thriller novels for three years, the stories seemed to all blend together. All but Jeffery Deaver's, and I made the mistake of lumping his together with other writers who grew monotonous. His books excite me. The feelings and reactions he incites in me as I read are why I read books. They are also why I want to write. Someday I hope to provide a reading experience like the ones that Jeffery Deaver has provided to me in so many of his books.

If you have the chance, pick up a Jeffery Deaver novel and thumb through it. I do recommend them.

If you're interested in a few pictures from last night's engagement, they are available here.

Book of the Month - July, 2006

June 26th, 2006

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief by Markus ZusakNarrated by Death, Markus Zusak's groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a young foster girl living outside of Munich in Nazi Germany. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she discovers something she can't resist -- books. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever they are to be found.

With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, Liesel learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids, as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

Markus Zusak, award-winning author of I Am the Messenger, has crafted an unforgettable novel about the ability of books to feed the soul.

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