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Search tags: 1000-books-recommended-by-the-guardian
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review 2017-09-11 16:48
The Killer Inside Me / Jim Thompson
The Killer Inside Me - Jim Thompson

Everyone in the small town of Central City, Texas loves Lou Ford. A deputy sheriff, Lou's known to the small-time criminals, the real-estate entrepreneurs, and all of his coworkers--the low-lifes, the big-timers, and everyone in-between--as the nicest guy around. He may not be the brightest or the most interesting man in town, but nevertheless, he's the kind of officer you're happy to have keeping your streets safe. The sort of man you might even wish your daughter would end up with someday.

But behind the platitudes and glad-handing lurks a monster the likes of which few have seen. An urge that has already claimed multiple lives, and cost Lou his brother Mike, a self-sacrificing construction worker who fell to his death on the job in what was anything but an accident. A murder that Lou is determined to avenge--and if innocent people have to die in the process, well, that's perfectly all right with him.

 

Read to fill the “Serial/Spree Killer” square for 2107 Halloween Bingo.

 

This novel is considered a classic in the crime/noir genre and I think it certainly deserves its place there.  First published in 1952, it may be one of the earlier books that gives the reader a glimpse into the head of a serial killer.  Lou Ford, a deputy sheriff in small town Texas, thinks he can murder his way out of any problem.  He spends his time getting the towns folk to believe that he is just a good old boy who wouldn’t hurt a fly and probably isn’t all that bright—and committing sophisticated crimes which, as a member of law enforcement, he knows how to cover up.  In many ways, he is the predecessor of Dexter Morgan, the cheerful serial killer who works in Miami as a forensic blood spatter technician.  Maybe also to “true crime” books like In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.

 

The writing is impressive.  If you’re female, you’re going to flinch at Lou’s casual attitude to mistreating and killing women, but it’s all part of his persona.  Not to mention that it is true to life—art imitating reality.  Crime and criminals have been with us forever, but this book helped in the process that brought the awareness of them into current popular culture.

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review 2017-09-05 19:13
King Solomon's Mines / H. Rider Haggard
King Solomon's Mines - H. Rider Haggard

The story begins when renowned safari hunter Allan Quartermain agrees to help Sir Henry Curtis and Captain John Good search for King Solomon’s legendary cache of diamonds. Eager to find out what is true, what is myth, and what is really buried in the darkness of the mines, the tireless adventurers delve into the Sahara’s treacherous Veil of Sand, where they stumble upon a mysterious lost tribe of African warriors. Finding themselves in deadly peril from that country’s cruel king and the evil sorceress who conspires behind his throne, the explorers escape, but what they seek could be the most savage trap of all—the forbidden, impenetrable, and spectacular King Solomon’s Mines.

 

***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***

King Solomon’s Mines is very much a product of its Victorian, colonial times. Don’t go into this book expecting anything else. Allan Quartermain is an unlikely protagonist, an elephant hunter, something that would get him publically shamed on the internet nowadays. This is very much an adventure tale, set in deepest, darkest Africa. White men have no doubt that they are at the very tippy-top of the social hierarchy and have no compunctions about expressing that belief. They believe Africans to be primitive, superstitious, and prefer them subservient. An African may be king in his own lost-kingdom, but must still admit his unworthiness to equality with a ne’er-do-well hunter like Quartermain.

Not recommended for the overly politically correct, but providing many insights into the colonial mindset that still plagues us today. A fantastical adventure in the Victorian style.

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review 2017-05-12 14:53
No Bed for Bacon / Caryl Brahms & S.J. Simon
No Bed for Bacon - S.J. Simon,Caryl Brahms

Shakespeare's in love, perchance, in this rollicking send-up of the Age of Elizabeth. A very funny look at Elizabeth I, Will Shakespeare & the Elizabethan era which shows the Queen at her riotous best and the author unappreciated.

 

It’s a tribute to William Shakespeare that we are still interested in him, 400 years after his death. His life provides just the right mix of known facts and mysteries. We know the bare bones of his life—who he married, how many children he had, details of his career, and elements of his reputation.

What’s missing are the personal details—how did he feel about things? What kind of person was he to work with? What were his religious beliefs? Was he a faithful husband? Who was that Dark Lady of the sonnets, anyway? Did he really write all those things attributed to him?

This leaves authors lots of lee-way to write their own adventures for the Bard. I’ve enjoyed the likes of Shakespeare Undead and The Dark Lady's Mask, not to mention a short story involving Atticus O’Sullivan of Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series (Goddess at the Crossroads). Surprisingly, there doesn’t seem to be any kind of collated list of fiction featuring Shakespeare as a character, but No Bed for Bacon is the earliest that I have yet encountered. I’m surprised that there aren’t many more novels with Shakespeare figuring prominently as a character! If you know of any, please let me know in the comments, I’m intrigued to read more. There are tons of books written as reinterpretations of his works, but fewer which feature the Bard himself.

Despite being first published in 1941, No Bed for Bacon still feels remarkably fresh to me. Reputedly, it is the basis for the movie Shakespeare in Love.

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text 2017-05-11 22:17
Reading progress update: I've read 150 out of 256 pages.
No Bed for Bacon - S.J. Simon,Caryl Brahms

Okay, it's your turn No Bed for Bacon!  I will finish this evening or know the reason why!

 

However, I do have a massage scheduled (and I need it--my shoulders are so tight & sore) and I must make some rice krispie squares to take to Book Club tomorrow night.

 

Plus dealing with Mr. Cat.  Take one menopausal woman with sleep issues.  Add one cat that firmly believes that said woman should get up at 5:30 a.m. like his owner does.  Agitate.  Result?  Increased need & desire for coffee!

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review 2017-04-13 22:39
Lord of the Flies / William Golding
Lord of the Flies - William Golding

Somehow, I missed this book during my school years. I remember seeing stacks of them in our school, but it was never assigned in one of my classes. I can see why it is a staple of high school curriculums, however, since it’s themes are easily seen and interpreted. There is plenty to discuss.
I would have appreciated it in high school, having struggled with Orwell’s Animal Farm instead. Lord of the Flies is pretty straight-forward in its depiction of the descent of supposedly civilized British boarding school boys into “savages” when left without adult supervision. Perhaps it is also a comment on boarding schools in general, which a couple of my friends have experienced (and do not recommend).

I find myself wondering how Golding would have written things differently if there were girls in the mix. Would they have been considered a “civilizing influence”? Or would they have become prizes or hostages in some boy’s competition? How did the “Little’uns” manage to escape the worst of the mistreatment that can be dished out when group dynamics go awry?

I chose this book after reading Barrie’s Peter Pan last year, wanting to contrast the “lost boys” in both novels. Unlike Barrie’s Lost Boys, the boys in LOTF have to grow up. Golding makes them struggle with adult responsibilities that they really aren’t prepared for, like keeping a signal fire going and building adequate shelters. I was also reminded of Robinson Crusoe, but his journey was actually towards religion, rather than away from it. Many years with only a Bible to read turns him into a religious man, which at the time would be considered more civilized.

A worthwhile book, but not one that I will ever likely re-read.

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