Book Bubbin’ 07/15/18 – Last Night in Montreal

Today’s entry is going to be super brief – my grandmother is in the hospital and I’m in a hurry to get back there to visit. Please don’t think that this in some way is a comment on the quality of the writers I’m about to talk about, because all of them are top notch.

My highlight for the week is Last Night in Montreal ($2.99 on Amazon), written by Emily St. John Mandel, she of Station Eleven fame. If you’re new to my blog or haven’t heard me shout it from the rooftops yet, my heart thumps a little bit faster thinking about that book and its gorgeous writing, heartfelt characters, and its beautifully haunting plot. It’s the sort of book I look at as a writer and I’m humbled by the sheer amount of talent on every level that went into it. Have I thrown enough hyperbole her way? No? How about the ability to make a viral apocalypse somehow a bittersweet, hopeful thing (at least for a few of its characters)?

I haven’t read Last Night in Montreal, but judging from the blurb, it’s a more traditional literary piece about a girl abducted by her father and who now lives a life on the move as a woman. That’s a solid premise, and it’s a book I look forward to reading soon.

I’m just going to say it one more time – Emily St. John Mandel is well worth your time.

Other books worth mentioning this week:

Floating Dragon (Peter Straub, $1.99 on Amazon) – Straub is one of those horror greats I chewed up in junior high and high school. Ghost Story was a seminal book in my quest to read everything ginormous and horror-related, one I really ought to revisit sometime soon. I haven’t read Floating Dragon (I wasn’t aware Mr. Straub was still writing, and I should have been), but it looks like one of his traditionally solid horror novels. I look forward to seeing if it has the same sort of delightful ichoric feel of Ghost Story.

The Afghan (Frederick Forsyth, $1.99 on Amazon) – If you’ve never read Day of the Jackal, Odessa File, or Dogs of War, you owe it to yourself to check out Forsyth. His political thrillers hold up well under modern scrutiny. I haven’t read his more modern novels like The Afghan, but if it’s anything like the ones mentioned above, you can expect a punchy, well-informed thriller with a lot of forward motion.

Buck Fever (Ben Rehder, free on Amazon) – In the interest of transparency, Ben is an online acquaintance, but since his novel’s free today, it’s not like you’re out any great sum by giving it a shot. Ben is a terrifically funny guy, and while I haven’t read Buck Fever, judging from the Look Inside feature, this looks to be proof of that. A texan comedy sounds like good medicine to me. Give it a shot!

And that does it for this week. What are you reading?

Book Bloggin’ – 07/10/18

Great! My second entry in, and I’ve already missed a deadline on a new blog feature.

Since I didn’t get around to checking my Sunday edition of the BookBub discounted books for the day, I’ll be discussing a bit about what I’m reading. On a bit of a small vacation last week, I managed to read a goodish chunk of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, which I’m pretty impressed with. I like the simple, basic prose combined with the more elegiac interludes and dream sequences. There’s a lot of striking imagery in those spots of the novel, while the rest is focused on crisp momentum and progression, as well as character development in some small doses.

I’ve also been listening to The Rooster Bar by John Grisham. It’s my first Grisham novel since… oh hell, 2000 or so, and it’s a surprisingly good one. I generally tend to prefer his work to many of his peers – he doesn’t generally talk down to readers, and weaves the courtroom specifics in a pretty entertaining manner. I did get a little burned out on his samey characters, but Rooster Bar so far has introduced some likable, fascinating characters that seem pretty interesting so far.

I’ve also been catching up on John Sandford’s Prey novels, and I’m up to Mortal Prey (roughly halfway through the series). I keep waiting to get burned out on them, but truthfully, I’m not. They’re all generally perfectly entertaining novels, leaning more on the side of entertainment than procedure. I’ve mentioned before my own style is influenced in a lot of ways by his – I love his dialogue – nut purely from a readerly perspective, his earliest novels still hold up.

All right, sorry for the brevity of this post, but I’m in a writing blitz at the moment, a rarity after a recent hospital stay. Thanks for reading!

Book Bubbin’ 07/01/18 – Already Dead

Welcome to the newest feature I’ll probably forget to update and let slide for months on end. In Book Bubbin’, I’ll be taking a weekly look through BookBub’s featured novels and talk about one or two that I’ve read and recommend. Alternately, if I haven’t read any, I’ll talk about which ones look interesting to me. It’s going to be a fun way to pass the time in between releases. Feel free to chime in with whatever you pick up yourself, whatever you’re reading, or the like.

This week’s biggest pick for me is Charlie Huston’s Already Dead (featured on Amazon for $1.99 here). A pulpy, hard-boiled suspense series about a PI-type vampire named Joe Pitt circumnavigating various undead gangs of New York, the Pitt novels are lean, angry, and brilliantly written. Charlie Huston eschews a lot of the conventions of writing in favor of fast delivery and action, often times switching between first and third person and doing without quotation marks. If that sours you, think about giving it a once-over with the Look Inside feature. It’s something you learn not to notice remarkably quick.

I’ve mentioned it before, but Charlie Huston’s lean, pulpy style is one of the biggest influences on my Rankin Flats novels, outside of John Sandford. I love that he takes what is a traditional PI story and runs with it to some wild extremes, letting the genre evolve as his characters continue to get drawn into the world around them. I’m also a huge fan of his punchy, to-the-point dialogue.

Already Dead is the first of the series, and arguably the best. It’s a great jumping off point to introduce yourself to Charlie Huston’s work, and if you like it, I highly recommend his Hank Thompson trilogy (a non-supernatural suspense/action series) and Sleepless (a suspense novel against the backdrop of a massive plague inflicting – you guessed it – sleeplessness on the population).

Other books of note this week include Savage Season (Joe Lansdale), the first Hap and Leonard novel and the basis for the first season of the terrific TV series. I haven’t read this one yet but I did love the TV show, so I’m looking forward to diving into it sometime soon. My acquaintance Meghan Doidge also has I See Me, the first in her paranormal romance series Oracle on sale. I haven’t read it, but I mention it for fans of the more romantic aspects of my own novels. Plus, it’s free, so hey, it’s worth a shot for fans of the genre.

And that’s it! Reading anything good?