Sunday, January 06, 2013

The Passage

This was a GREAT read. So, so good. I can't wait to start The Twelve, which is book 2 in the series. But that will have to wait until after I read Towers of Midnight, which I expect to be waiting for me at my doorstep Tuesday after work.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


11/22/63 by Stephen King is the best novel I have read in some time. I devoured this 849 page doorstop in a little over a week. I'd been wanting to read it since it came out, but waited, because I had other things in line to read first, including King's Under The Dome, which was also magnificent in it's own way.

King's storytelling has always been super-duper, but in these last two novels he has really hit a stride. I haven't read all of King's catalog, but I have read lots; we used to read his books and Sly B and I would agree "he does a great middle" but petered out often with his endings for us -- not true for 11/22/63.

The premise of the story is in essence: If you could go back and affect a watershed moment that changed everything in America - think racism, war, poverty - would you do it even if it meant great sacrifice for you? I'm not going to say too much about the plot, but I will tell you that the pace of the novel is lightning-fast, and the characters are wonderful. I think another question that might be batted around a bit in the novel is: Did the assassination of JFK really get us to this point today? Would race relations, foreign relations, and poverty in America be what they are had he lived? Or is that just a nice fairy tale liberals tell ourselves when we don't know what to do or say about the state of our nation?

I don't have a lot of experience with historical fiction, but this one was really fun for me. I've spent some time in Dallas, and the novel spends a lot of time there with our main character stalking Lee Harvey Oswald and his family and circle for a few years. King isn't kind to Dallas, which does not break my heart. Our main character, Jake/George, brings a 21st century yankee liberal sensibility to the late 50s and early 60s America which helps readers understand, I think, what life was really like then and there and how we might have fared.

I can't recommend this novel highly enough. Check it out - you won't be sorry!

Sunday, August 05, 2012


Steven Curtis Verwolf
April 9, 1965 - August 6, 2008

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Towers of Midnight

This is the last book, so far.

  • Graendal lives. She tricked Rand with the compulsion
  • Egwene take the Tower
  • Rand as Jesus with the apples
  • Seanchan bloodknives are killing in the tower. Egwene thinks it's Mesaana
  • Nynaeve can heal madness
  • Mat is still pursued by the gholam
  • Mat writes to Elayne in hilarious fashion
  • Perrin meets up with the White Cloaks and Galad
  • Perrin embraces (finally) the wolf dream and the wolf
  • I think Lara might be Masaana - just a hunch stolen from B
  • Mat, Tom, and Jain Farstrider save Moiraine from the snakes and foxes. JF doesn't make it out
  • Gawyn saves Egwene, who defeats Mesaana in the dream world
  • Elaida shows the Seanchan traveling
  • Avienda sees the future of her descendants and that the Seanchan will defeat the Aiel
  • There is a split in the Black tower between those loyal to Taim and Logain
  • The gathering of rulers begins to try and stop Rand from breaking the seals
  • Trollocs attach Caemlyn - Verin's letter is finally revealed
Next up, in January, A Memory of Light. I cannot wait.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Gathering Storm

The Gathering Storm is the first of three compiled/writted by Brandon Sanderson after RJ's death. RJ was working on A Memory of Light and lucky for us left behind notes and recordings of how the story ends. With a few exceptions, Sanderson does a good job.

  • Mat, Rand, and Perrin all see the need to work with the Seanchan
  • Regular citizens begin to rally for the last battle
  • I think Taim is Moridin (Ishamael)
  • Tuon assumes her role as Empress (may she live forever)
  • Gawyn leaves Elaida's came to "save" Egwene
  • Semirhage escapes with the help of Elza, who I never trusted, and captures rand with the domination band. Rand realized the True Power and wipes her out. He blames Cadsuane and banishes her
  • Seanchan attack the tower
  • Rand uses balefire on Grendal's camp, concerning Nynaeve enough to work with Cadsuane with the goal of resorting his soul
  • There's a big timeline fuckup in this book with Tam and Rand and Perrin and Morgase
It's obvious that RJ didn't write all these chapters. Still, great, great story. Next up: Towers of Midnight.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Knife of Dreams

Knife of Dreams is book 11 in the series, and the last book out before RJ's death.
  • Elayne wins the throne, finally
  • Egwene is still captive in the White Tower, and is slowly chipping away at Elaida's control. She accepts her punishments like an Aiel, and RJ obviously had a thing about spankings  
  • Semirhage tries to fake out Rand with a meeting of a Daughter of the Nine Moons imposter. Rand captures her and loses his hand for his troubles
  • Matt and Tuon are married and she leaves for Ebou Dar. She learns that she is the Empress (may she live forever)
  • Perrin rescues boring old Faile
  • Taim is most certainly a Forsaken, ending the book with the "let the Lord of Chaos rule" saying -- EEK!
Next up: The Gathering Storm!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Feast Day of Fools

I recently finished the latest novel by one of my top 3 favorite authors. Feast Day of Fools by James Lee Burke did not disappoint. Burke is such a master of the English language -- it's a joy to read anything he writes. The opening sentence:
Some people said Danny Boy Lorca's visions came from the mescal that had fried his brains, or the horse-quirt whippings he took around the ears when he served time on Sugar Land Farm, or the fact he'd been a middleweight club fighter through a string of dust-blown sinkholes where the locals were given a chance to beat up what was called a tomato can, a fighter who leaked blood every place he was hit, in this case a rumdum Indian who ate his pain and never flinched when his opponents broke their hands on his face.
My very favorite Burke novels are his Dave Robicheaux ones; Feast Day of Fools is one in another of his series, his Hackberry Holland books. Holland, like Robicheaux, is a sober man in the later years of his life who has chosen a life in law enforcement. He is haunted by very specific trauma related to Vietnam, the death of his beloved wife, indignities suffered at the hands of his father, and his past as a violent drunk.

This novel focuses, as the earlier Holland novels do although I have not read them yet, on the mass murderer Preacher Jack Collins, along with many other Federal Governmental bad guys. Hack is the sheriff of a small border town in Texas and the story also winds through border/immigration politics and evangelical nutjobs who mix their horrible bibilical rhetoric with conservative politics and racism.

I don't want to spoil the story, but do want to encourage anyone who still might be reading this blog to check the book out. It was just masterful and superb. I went and picked up a few more of the early Burke Holland novels I haven't read yet immediately upon finishing this book, and can't wait to dive in. Also, the new Robicheaux novel drops in July.

James Lee Burke, may you live forever.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

New Spring

I think I read this prequel a bit out of sequence, but it's okay. I enjoyed the story of a young Moiraine, Siuan, and Lan. This is a great book to recommend to people who haven't read fantasy before to get them hooked on the series.

Just a few notable things I saw:
  • Now I know why Cadsuane is assumed to be B.A.
  • Lan and Moiraine came together because they were both running away from something
  • Moiraine and Siuan were definitely "pillow friends" and if I have one criticism of Jordan, it's his crazy gender stuff. Big ole bisexuals, those A.S., most of em
Next up (and I'm actually about 1/2-way through): Knife of Dreams

Monday, April 23, 2012

Crossroads of Twilight

I just finished my re-read of Crossroads, book 10 of the series. It was a fast-paced one, lots of things going on:

  • Perrin is still trying to rescue Faile, and is getting sick of his cohorts a bit. He is considering an alliance with the Seanchan, thus far, a completely insane suggestion.
  • Egwene is at the edge of Tar Valon with her army, laying seige to the city.
  • Elayne is shoring up support for her claim to the Lion Throne.
  • Rand and Nynaeve have cleansed the male half of the One Power and have made everyone in the world who can channel nervous about what has happened.
  • Interesting point that I hadn't noticed before: Siuan believes that Cadsuane is Black Ajah. Hmmm . . . 
Next up: New Spring!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Great TV

Two shows that make my all-time favorite list are currently running new episodes, which makes me smile.

The Killing (U.S.) has gotten a lot of flack from people who were pissed about the non-resolution of the plot last season. I love it. Linden and Holder are gonna solve this case, and whichever powerful a-hole who thinks he is safe from authority is going down. My biggest fear is that one of our beloved main characters won't survive the season.

Nurse Jackie is, in my opinion, one of the smartest-written shows out there, and such a dead-on examination of addiction. I love, love, love it. We watched the first three episodes of the new season On Demand the other day, so now will have to wait a few weeks for the next new episode (but will probably watch 2 and 3 over again as they release on Sundays). Jackie goes, sort of, to rehab, and is clean for the first time since she had her first child. In my opinion, it's not gonna stick, but still I root for Jackie.

Another show that makes the all-time list just finished its 2nd season - Shameless (U.S). If you're not watching this one, you really should. It's so sad/wonderful. I think the show is mostly about surviving your parents, but the characters are so awesome it could be about a dozen other things and I'd still be hooked.