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

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

Currently Reading: The Road to Gandolfo

Michael Shepherd is actually…

Good morning all. I hope your holidays went well and you’ve fully Recovered from the NYE Celebration Libations. It’s now time to stop procrastinating and read some books. I’m actually following thru on my 2020 plans to read my parents books, starting with this uncharacteristically comical romp from a pseudonymous Michael Shepherd from 1975. Shhh… Don’t tell, but it’s really Robert Ludlum in disguise.

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.

Since then, they have been recently made into several films and his character has been expanded on and adapted in a series of books by Eric VanLustbader, authorized of course by the family trust. I’ve read a couple of these and they have a lot of the original flair and feel of Ludlum’s books, but I keep coming back to the originals.

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??)

Looking forward to digging in further to the book and enjoying Ludlum’s writing again. Why not read along with me.

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

Currently Reading: An Irish Country Christmas

Saved by the Girls of Christmas

I just finished How Mrs Claus Saved Christmas by Jeff Guinn today. I know. That was quick, but it really was an enjoyable story set in 1600s England during the English Civil War when parliament overthrew King Charles and gave power to the Puritans who eventually outlawed celebrations of Christmas. The story follows Layla, Mrs Claus, as she escapes London and becomes one of the leaders of planned peaceful protest at Canterbury. You’ll have to read the book yourself to find out what happened. It’s a very fitting sequel to Guinn’s first Christmas tale The Autobiography of Santa Claus. I think I actually enjoyed this one more though. I’ll be looking forward to re-reading these two books next holiday season as well.

Now on to Ireland

But until then, next up on this Christmas reading list is An Irish Country Christmas by Patrick Taylor. I’ve read this before but just started again this afternoon. It’s the third in the Irish Country Village series of, at least as of this year, fifteen books. I have them all, and all but two now in hardback which I love. I’ve not read them all yet, only five… or is it six?

A great Holiday Escape

But I’m looking forward to spending the next week reentering the world of Ballybuckelbo, the quaint and small fictional village between Kinnegar and Bangor that these books are set it. I wonder if anyone else out there has read them? If you haven’t, you really should give it a good go. You can start in any of the books and be just fine. Although they are chronologically placed within the series, they do great as stand alone stories as well. Why not pick one up today? You’ll be glad you did.

What are you reading? Will you be reading only Christmas books this month? Why not have a go and share.

-mike

Currently Reading: How Mrs Claus Saved Christmas

The Original Wonder Woman

Having just finished The Autobiography of Santa Clause by Jeff Guinn that I read last year, a fantasy trip through history and historical persons that “helped” him along the way on his mission of giving, I now start his follow up book that I picked up at the local library sale this last year, How Mrs Claus Saved Christmas. I’m really looking forward to digging into this one. I’m planning on making it a yearly read just like The Autobiography of Santa.

I’ve got a good problem to report as well. I’ve just picked up a hardcover copy of An Irish Country Christmas by Patrick Taylor at the local Half Price Books store. I already have it in softback, but I’m trying to get all the books in the series in hardcover. I have them all now, but with this edition, or should I say addition, I now have only two that are still soft. I just love the series, the writing and the escape to 1960s small village Ireland.

My problem? I’m starting to have more Christmas books on my shelf than I can “yearly read” every December. I may have to start in November next year. 🙂 After Mrs Claus, the plan is to finish this month and season out by re-reading An Irish Country Christmas.

What are you reading? Will you be reading only Christmas books this month? Why not have a go and share.

-mike

Currently Reading: “Santa!!!!”

The Autobiography and Mrs Claus

Having just finished The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson, I move to the third and fourth books on my seasonal reading list. The Autobiography of Santa Clause by Jeff Guinn that I read last year, a fantasy trip through history and historical persons that “helped” him along the way on his mission of giving, and the follow up book that I picked up at the local library sale this last year How Mrs Claus Saved Christmas. I’m really looking forward to digging into that one but first I’ll re-read the first.

By the way… Gaby picked the brother in law Marty at the end of The Christmas Wedding. Great book. It’s a bit predictable and soft on the story, but we’ll worth the read for the family and seasonal reflection. This is the second year I’ve read it and plan to make it a yearly.

What are you reading? Will you be reading only non-fiction this month? Why not have a go and share.

-mike

Currently Reading: The Christmas Wedding

James Patterson… yeah.

This is the second Christmas book I’m reading this season. The first was my cheater read of John Grisham’s Skipping Christmas, a wonderful read. But The Christmas Wedding is a bit more serious and family focussed.

Gaby is a 54yr year old mother of four adult children with families and lives of their own. Recently widowed, 3yrs now, she sends a video to her kids telling them she’s getting married on this coming Christmas so they better all show up at the family farm in Massachusetts. The gent’s identity is a secret until that day. They have no idea who it will be and the best part for the reader is… neither does he… Which one of three suitors will it be? Not even Gaby knows yet.

Come along on this family and fun journey and read with me James Patterson’s The Christmas Wedding.

What are you reading? Will you be reading only non-fiction this month? Why not have a go and share.

-mike

Currently Reading: Crossan and Goldberg

Having finished Melville’s classic “big fish” tale, I steer back to starboard and continue my tour thru ancient Mesopotamia, Greece and Palestine both historically and archaeologically, as well as biblically as John Dominic Crossan reviews the evidence and historicity for Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles.

As I said in a post before, I have a similar volume by said author and scholar on The Historicity of Jesus that I read last year, but I also have an examination by Crossan on The Birth of Christianity on my shelf that I plan to read later on. Most probably not until the first part of 2020.

The other book I just started is Jonah Goldberg’s fascinating march thru the history of American Progressivism and what he considers Liberal Fascism as the “daughter” of not only earlier WW1 and WW2 era Leftist/Socialist fascism but also a Grand Daughter of the totalitarian and philosophical French Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. I do tend to lean more politically Libertarian and conservative, what most historians and students of American history would call “classical liberalism”. From the first few pages in the book, having already and only so far read the introduction, it would seem both “liberal” and “conservative” labels have been given a bad rap and misapplied definitions over the decades and even the centuries.

I’m excited to get into the real meat of Goldberg’s book once I’ve finished with Crossan’s In Search of Paul. Why not tell me what you’re reading… what’s next on your TBR list? What have you recently finished? Down in the bucket… you know what to do. And thanks for reading.

-mike