Currently Reading: The Novel by James Michener

Hello all you wonderful readers. I’ve finished The Last Bookaneer by Matthew Pearl. And now I’ll take a quick detour back to my parent’s bookshelf with James Michener’s 1992 novel The Novel.

I grew up with these books on the shelf at home and now im working my way thru them. Michener always occupied a large section of their shelves because my mother and father loved reading his well researched and descriptive books. When in the army in the 80s I read his historical fiction of the history and development of the space program. Space, written in 1982 and which I read in 84 or 85. It was a good read because it took you all the way from the beginning up to the Space Shuttle which was still active at the time. It was my first introduction to actually reading Michener. This will be my second book by him.

The plan is still to read fiction thru the end of September at which time I’ll be switching to non fiction historical stuff. Dune Messiah, the 1969 Frank Herbert follow-up to his Dune is next and then I’m planning to read the first in the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child titled The Killing Floor.

Let’s see how I do, but I’m thinking The Novel may take me all of August. So… what are you reading?

-mike

Currently Reading: The Last Bookaneer

Hello all you wonderful readers. I’ve finished Dubliners by James Joyce and The Archivist by Martha Cooley. I now turn my attention to another one of the Literary Historical fiction novels of Matthew Pearl, The Last Bookaneer about the practice of pirating manuscripts from authors in other countries for publishing before the advent of International Copyright laws at the turn of the last century.

I’ve read three of his others novels, The Dante Club, The Poe Shadow and The Last Dickens, all thriller novels set in the times and situations of the famous authors. They are all very well written and exciting reads by a very well read and literary educated writer. Amazing. Check them out today if your interested in historical fiction with a mystery twist.

I’m still deciding if I’ll do an actual review of The Archivist. But suffice to say, it was a sad book. The synopsis is that its a novel about a chief Archivist of the Emily Hale Letters sent to her by T.S. Eliot. Matthew’s story of his marriage and wife’s death coincides in interesting ways with Eliot’s and his wife’s mental issues and passing, as does the story of the young grad student Roberta and her personal and religious reasons for wanting to see the letters before their timed release. The book was published in 1998, set in 1988 or so, while the letters were still sequestered by request of Hale. They were just released for public and literary perusal and evaluation in January of 2020.

I enjoyed this book so much. Very well written as a debut novel by Cooley who has since published only one other novel. She currently teaches in a couple of different colleges. Lucky students they are. So… what are you reading?

-mike

Currently Reading: Dubliners and The Archivist

Hello all you wonderful readers. I’ve finished The Ballad of Songbirds by Suzanne Collins, the prequel/origin story of President Snow of the Hunger Games Trilogy. I’ve even had time since our last installment post of this blog to to finish Fingal O’Reilly Irish Doctor by Patrick Taylor.

But now I turn my attention to a true classic, Dubliners by James Joyce. It’s a selection of short stories written in the early 1900s when the Classic Irish writer was younger. Then I will be reading The Archivist, a debut novel of Martha Cooley. I may even try to read them at the same time, one or two of the short stories in between chapters of The Archivist. I’m not sure at this time. But I’ll let you know how both work out.

What are you reading?

-mike

Currently Reading: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

The book was great, but brought disappointment as a bonus

Good morning all you readers out there. I’ve finished Dune. I gotta say that now having read the book, it’s ruined the 1984 movie for me. All the changes, all the deletions, all the half assed and hamfisted “adaptations” for the movie done by Lynch and company in trying to get the movie made before the rights expired… it really tells when you realize what i found, out only after, that Lynch never read the book, never heard the story of the book, and was wholly uninterested in science fiction before writing the screen play, which turned out to be only 135 pgs for a 500 pg book.

But this post is neither a review of the 1984 movie, its differences with the book, or sadly… not even a review of the book. I’ll have to take some time to chew on it and see if I can do the masterpiece justice at a later time. I’m just glad to be done with Dune because of the mindbending differences and how upset I got at a film I was for decades a huge fan of.

But… on to the Future, or maybe a Prequel?

My next reads will be a newly released prequel to Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. I remember reading the other three books the year before last and really enjoying them. Pretty typical YA Fiction themes and writing, but again… as is the case with most books… much better than the movies that gave us Jennifer Lawrence as a household name. (I’m SO knot a JL fan).

Per the dust jacket, this one is set in the past in relation to the original trilogy. Specifically President Snow’s past, the 10th Annual Hunger Games. I’m hoping to see a bit more how he developed into the monster that he became and how the Games developed as well.

Then after that, which should take me a mere triffle of days by what I experienced reading Collins’ first three, I’ll take a swing back thru Ballybucklebo in Ireland to continue the series of stories surrounding the inimitable, sagacious, and dedicated Doctor Fingal O’Reilly, the Irish Country Doctor.

What are you all reaing? Have you read Dune, seen the movie, any strong opinions that you’d like to share? Put a comment in the bukcket. And Good reading all. -mike

Currently Reading: Dune

Good morning all you readers out there. I’ve finished Sapiens and The Secret of Santa Vittoria. Now I’m off to “Arrakis, Dune, Desert Planet…”. The classic book of science fiction first published in 1965 by Frank Herbert is my next major task in reading. I remember watching the movie they made for it in 1984 with a very young Kyle McLaughlin. Saw it in the theater when I was in language school in the army at the Presideo. I’ve always wanted to read the book that won both major book awards for science fiction and in 1975 was voted the best science fiction book ever written. Here’s my chance. And so far, only two or three chapters in, it’s much better writing than the movie. Looking forward to finishing before the end of june.

Good reading all. -mike

Finished Reading: Sapiens

Again, it took awhile

But I finally finished this book. It’s very comprehensive and deals with biology, history, with a lot of politics and economic thrown in for good measure. I recommend the read, but there’s too muchnin there to actually do a review.

I’m still reading The Secret of Santa Vittoria and will be reading Frank Herbert’s Dune after that. So… what are you reading these days?

-mike

Finished Reading: A Dublin Student Doctor

Again, it took awhile

Good Sunday morning to all you patient and longsuffering readers out there. It seems again, for the third time in a row, for I’ve now only read three whole books this year so far, that I’ve taken a very long time to finish a book. This one from a series that I’ve taken a liking to for last several years, Patrick Taylor’s Irish Country Villiage series, The Dublin Student Doctor about the beginnings and origin story of the redoubtable Fingal Flagherty O’Reilly, everyone’s favorite GP of Ballybuckelbo.

I’ve now read seven of the series and the people, places and feel of the country of Ireland in the 1960s, and in this book the 1930s and early 1940s, is very much grown on me. Even to the point of having a pint of The Black Stuff and pulling out my Peterson on occasion… as the feeling of commaraderie may strike me. The Wiley O’Reilly definitely has a way of making his point to you thru Taylor’s writing skill, and the country folk of the Village feel more like family with every page.

This one turns from the old doctors past, back from the present predicament of Donal Donnelly, who having crashed his motorbike coming home from the races where he won a ton of betting money, now needs surgery to relieve brain swelling from a fractured skull. Don’t worry, if you’re a betting man too then you’ll know how it ends. O’Reilly takes the opportunity of waiting to see how it turns out with Donal to turn back the pages of time to when he was still studying for medical practice.

We get to meet his mates, his future love Kitty and learn a good bit of the backstory that made him both the doctor and the man he became. I enjoyed the story and the reading as I always do with Patrick Taylor and this series. I’m looking forward to the next trip to the Irish Country Villiage I’ll take, Fingal O’Reilly Irish Doctor, having finished An Irish Country Wedding earlier.

However… mom’s books await as well.

My next books with be Robert Crichton’s 1966 novel The Secret of Santa Vittoria. He only wrote two novels and this was his first. Mom always wanted me to read it and it’ll be the next on the list. From what she said and what I’ve read so far, it seems like a Caper kind of book set in WW2 Italy. Kind of Peter Mayle meets Hogan’s Heroes. A small village tucked into the mountains of Italy doing what they can to resist and keep their unique identity during the Nazi occupation.

Either way you slice it, you’re in for a wild ride and an enjoyable diversionary treat if you decide to pick these books off the shelf. So… what are you reading these days?

-mike

Finally Finished Reading: The Road to Omaha

Wow.. now THAT took a long time

Good morning all. Long time no write, I know. It seems this year has been a much slower reading year so far than 2019 or even 2018. So far, my journey has only been to finish two books in the last two and a half months. The latest being the 1992 follow up to the 1975 Road to Gandalfo.

As I said in a post before, these books are part of the collection from my mom and dad after they passed that I’m trying to read thru this year. Mom always wanted me to get thru these two in particular and since Ludlum is one of my favorite novelists, I decided they would be the introductory volumes for the reading journey this year.

Both are “Caper” kinds of books with intrigue, humor and silliness wrapped up in government, military, and spy business in a post war context. Gandolfo, the Vietnam War and Omaha the Cold War.

They’re quick paced, funny and very well written. Although I liked the original 1975 Gandalfo about the kidnapping and replacing of the Pope more than Omaha’s premise of petitioning the Supreme Court to turn over land currently “Occupied” by the Strategic Air Command to its former owners.

Either way you slice it, you’re in for a wild ride and an enjoyable diversionary treat if you decide to pick these books off the shelf. So… what are you reading these days?

-mike

Currently Reading: Sapiens and Omaha

Good morning all you readers out there. In my continuing journey to read my mom and dad’s books, having finished The Road to Gandalfo by Robert Ludlum (pen name Matthew Sheperd) from 1975 , I turn my attention to the follow up book he published in 1992… The Road to Omaha.

But you might also notice that I’m starting to read Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari as well. I mean at the same time. Not sure if I’ll get thru both by the end of February, but that will be my goal.

Good reading all. -mike

Finished Reading: The Road to Gandolfo

Robert Ludlum

Good evening all. Wow… that took way longer than I expected or planned. Just finished the last of this wonderful book this morning. Anyone who’s read anything by the Borne Triology author will probably appreciate the writing, but recognize a bit more whimsy and humor in this Caper-like story of an ousted Lt. General in the first years after the Vietnam War and the more nuanced beginning of the Cold War.

Mackenzie Hawkins doesn’t take long licking his wounds for being shunted away and out of the Army after 30+ yrs of faithful and mostly clandestine service. He’s got a business to start and run… and a Pope to kidnap and replace!!

My mom always wanted me to read both this book and his follow up The Road to Omaha, written in ’92 under his own name. You may know the author and his writing better as the original creator or Jason Bourne thru his trilogy The Bourne Identity, Supremacy and Ultimatum. These have been classic for me and my bookshelf since high school and when my parents first encouraged me to read them.

But Hawkins….

This book read like one of Peter Mayle’s Caper books that I’ve read. The Vinage Caper and the Versailles Caper both had that kind of Oceans 11 vibe that had me hooked from the first page to the very last. Gandalfo by Shepherd, Robert Ludlum’s nom de plume for a couple of his earlier books, felt the same way. Even after the final plot twist was revealed and discovered, I still wanted to see it play out and enjoy the ending that I kind of figured out was coming.

So… back to Gandolfo.

The story is a comical one with a war decorated hero general getting in trouble for desecrating, or being accused of desecrating, a statue in Beijing China. He’s unfairly dismissed from an illustrious and iconic career as an appeasement to the Chinese government during a post Vietnam war trade negotiations. The book jacket says the general, Mackenzie Hawkins… or just Hawk… then lends his considerable experience, expertise and talents to help in a caper to kidnap the Pope for ransom… (what??)

The ransom part didn’t quite work out as Hawk planned, but it did end up working out. I loved this book and can’t wait to start The Road to Omaha next.

What are you reading? Have you read this book? Have you read any Robert Ludlum? In the bucket down below. You know what to do.

-mike