26 May 2010

Book Banter -- The Deceived

Title: The Deceived
Author: Brett Battles
Genre: Thriller
Length: 358 pages
Where Word Nerd's Copy Came From: Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library

Plot Basics: Cleaner Jonathon Quinn is called on a job to dispose of a dead body in a shipping container. Only when he arrives on the scene, he knows who the dead man is, a former intelligence officer who helped Quinn out of jam in the past. Quinn wants to know what's happened to his friend, so he investigates, starting on the trail of the officer's girlfriend. As he pursues her, the trail leads him across the US and overseas. Her trail is tangled with a rising political star and Quinn will have to figure out which side is lying.

Banter Points: Word Nerd read the first Quinn book back in October and then forgot about him until she wanted something to break up an urban fantasy jag she'd been on and the Lee Child book she wanted wasn't on the shelves. She thinks that says alot that she'd pick this one right after Lee Child. And it didn't disappoint. Fast-paced, good characters, page-turning plot that's reminiscent of the Bourne book.

Bummer Points: Wow, the ending. It's always a good/bad thing to Word Nerd when an author truly puts a character in peril and has them suffer some kind of permanent consequences. To avoid spoilers, she won't say more, but she's interested and sad to see what happens to one of the characters in the next book.

Word Nerd Recommendation: If you're looking for a good action book, Battles' series delivers. And, so far, at least, while the characters cross books, the plots are relatively insular so you could start in the middle of the series.

10 May 2010

Book Banter -- Changes

Title: Changes (Dresden Files bk. 12)
Author: Jim Butcher
Length: 438 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Where Word Nerd's Copy Came From: Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library

Plot Basics: Chicago's professional wizard, sometimes Warden of the White Council, and generally smart-mouthed Harry Dresden gets a call from his former lover Susan, letting him know that their daughter has been kidnapped by Red Court vampires. Harry vows that he will save his little girl -- who he knew nothing about -- and swings into action, bringing with him all allies he can muster. But, the powers he is up against is greater than Harry may be able to bring down unless he makes some radical choices that will change his life forever.

Banter Points: Some people, supposedly, yell at the TV during sporting matches. Word Nerd yelled several times at Harry (or maybe at Jim Butcher), unhappy with what he was doing or incredulous that Harry did was he did. Yelling sounds like the mark of a bad book, but it's not. It was that Word Nerd has gotten so engrossed in Harry's story that she couldn't believe what Butcher was putting his character through. Word Nerd's guess is that Butcher likes Harry as a character -- obviously, he's been writing this series for 12 books. It takes guts to do that to a beloved character. GUTS. And he did it well with all the panache and verbal reparte that characterizes this series.

Bummer Points: One word -- cliff-hanger. It's bad enough that Harry had to do what he did during the 438 pages of this novel but then, it just leaves off and there is now WAITING for the next book. Butcher also sprinkles these books with pop-culture references of the sci-fi variety, but the Lord of the Rings comparison just was a bit much.

Word Nerd Recommendation: Hold on to your seat while read this one. And this feels like the appropriate place for Word Nerd as well to go back and re-read the whole series before the next one because it ain't going to be the same from here on out.
Other reactions: When was your "No he didn't" moment as you read this one? Try to avoid spoilers in comments if you can, but Word Nerd's curious...

08 May 2010

Book Banter -- Chasing the Dime

Title: Chasing the Dime
Author: Michael Connelly
Genre: mystery
Length: ~400 pages
Where Word Nerd's Copy Came From: Indianapolis Marion County Public Library
Plot Basics: Researcher Henry Pierce gets a new phone number when breaks up with his girlfriend who is tired of his long hours in the lab. As soon as he plugs his phone in, he begins receiving calls for Lilly -- all from men who seem eager to find her. Even as his research into nanotechnology is poised to take off, Henry become obsessed with Lilly, determined to find her. Henry delves into the shady world of Internet escorts and finds himself using every bit of his scientific smarts to avoid getting slapped with a murder rap for a crime he didn't commit.

Banter Points: Word Nerd is still reading through Connelly's backlist in chronological order by publication date. She's really more interested in the Bosch books, but likes reading the one-offs too.

Interestingly, it explained in the back of the book that this story was inspired by events in Connelly's own life -- that he got a new phone number and started receiving calls for a woman, including the woman's mother who was trying to find her. It's an interesting glimpse into a writer's head to see what it is that catches their attention and how a book is crafted around a real event.

Bummer Points: Unfortunately, in this case, fictionalizing this story just didn't work well. All the characters were so flat. Whereas the Bosch and Co. characters have great backstories and rough edges and grow over time, Henry and his friends were boring. The premise of the plot was so good, it was sort of wasted on one-off characters.

Word Nerd Recommendation: Unles you are a die-hard Connelly fan, this one is worth skipping in favor of sticking with the Bosch storyline.

04 May 2010

April 2010 Bibliometer and 2009-10 Literary Year Totals

April ended last week, so bibliometer reading time again.

April 2010 --
7 books
2229 pages total
avg. 74 pages/day

2010 YTD Totals:
26 books
8845 pages

April 2009, 29 books

Word Nerd's pretty close to last year's pace of reading.

Also, Word Nerd missed reporting back in March the end of her literary year (like a fiscal year, but with books.) She started tracking books read on March 20, 2002, so the literary year is March 20-March 19.

For LY 2009-10, Word Nerd read 82 books. Her eight year total since the list began is 655.

That's a lot of books.

03 May 2010

Book Banter -- Lord Sunday

Title: Lord Sunday (Keys to the Kingdom bk.7)

Author: Garth Nix

Length: ~300 pages

Genre: Juvenile fantasy

Where Word Nerd's Copy Came From: Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library

Plot Basics: Arthur Penhaligon has fought his way through six days, collecting Keys and parts of the Architect's will to save the House and find a way back to his world. The cost has been great, losing his humanity as he does sorcery. Now, he must face the last and most powerful of the House Trustees -- Lord Sunday -- when he is stripped of his friends and allies. And as the battle that will save the world and his family rages, Arthur must make a choice that will impact them all.

Banter Points: The imagination of Nix's Keys to the Kingdom series that first captured Word Nerd's attention is still great, even seven books later. Nix created such a fascinating place with the Nithlings and the Denizens and the sinister clock puppets and the Piper and monsters that are plants... and well, you get the idea. It's nice to see a fantastical world with really new and different creatures instead of the same old elves/dwarves/dragons kind of mix.

Bummer Points: Word Nerd started reading a number of years ago (back when maybe only the first three books were out?) and this time, she didn't go back and reread the whole series before finishing it. The ending was a little predictable and Word Nerd wasn't as much of a fan of all the skipping around the plot did in 7. The bummer is more that Word Nerd had to wait and sort of forgot what was going on than a bummer for a bad book.

Word Nerd Recommendation: These really are great books for older kids, a non-Harry Potter magical read. Would be good reading aloud material too for parents who like this sort of thing. And now that the series is all finished, you wouldn't have Word Nerd's problem of waiting for the series to finish.