You can't be an Annie's customer for as long as Dave has without getting drafted for some job or other. It didn't take us long to realize that Dave would make a great reader/critic for the many Advanced Reader's Copies (otherwise known as "Arcs")that we receive every year. We've found his reviews to be concise, fair, right on target, and often times, downright funny. He has waged war on the towering stack of Arcs and we offer his assessments of books you may find on our shelves in the not too distant future. We hope you will find his reviews as helpful in selecting your future reading material as we have found Dave's input helpful in planning our future inventory purchases. Check DAVE'S PAGE frequently for more reviews as he gets closer to the bottom of the stack of Arcs.
March 23, 2010 - Dave has just awakened from his long winter nap and wants to share the following with you:
Rest in Peace Robert B. Parker January 18, 2010
I'd like to say good-bye to a classic American author. Found dead at his office desk in Cambridge, Massachusetts, this January passed, one Robert B. Parker, with few exception one of the last authors of his kind. Simply, he gave us the uncomplicated hero surrounded by his diverse re-occuring characters Hawk, Susan, Belson, et al. If you've read him, you already know about his works. But Google Parker, himself, and I expect you'll see inside much of his writing, nothing less than his BEST character, Robert B. Parker. If you like a good mystery but haven't tried him, you're in for a treat.
BIG SID'S VINCATI - Matthew Biberman - Motorcycles/Father and Son Relationships
Big Sid's Vincate is for all you guys who had a Dad, especially if you were a lot alike. Honestly written, identifiable, nice pace.
Our story: A son finds a way to entice his aging father back to living his life by combining the best features of a Vincette and a Ducati to form a "Vincati" The father, "Big Sid" was a great in the realm of motorcycles. His son, who also enjoyed bikes, was a scholar. Through a mutual passion for motorcycles they came to see each other as individuals and finally bond as equals. It's TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE for guys with dirty fingernails rather than fans of Oprah's Book Club. It's for everyone who misses their Dad or wants a better understanding of the father/son relationship.
My sincere thanks to Francine at Annie's without whose suggestion I might not have read BIG SID'S VINCATI. She said I'd like it and enjoy it I did. It's one of my favorite books of 2009 and will soon be available in paperback (release date 4/27/10). Don't miss it. I strongly recommend it. I hope you'll agree.
THE MAZE RUNNER - James Dashner - Adventure/Thriller for younger readers
Well paced. Reads like a dialogue for a video game. Pulp novel for 10-14 year olds. Our hero wakes up in "the Maze" without any idea of how or why he got there and finds he's not alone in the situation - there are others his age also inhabiting the Maze. The object is the inevitable escape. The abrupt ending suggests there will be a sequel. Not bad/not great. Makes me remember Scholastic Book Service in my grade school days.
THE INFORMATION OFFICER - Mark Mills - Mystery/Historical/Military
A young woman has been murdered on the isle of Malta during World War II. Assigned to investigate, our hero discovers a British officer is guilty of the crime but he is ordered not to find him guilty. Fairly good story but European fiction seems to have a general lack of tension. For me, this was a decent story with life drained away.
THE CHAULK CIRCLE MAN - Fred Vargas - Mystery-Crime Drama
More and more items are turning up in chaulk circles but when body parts start being added to the collection the police get interested. Somehow, again, like other European books, this reads more formal and drier than someone like Jonathan Kellerman, whose work this reminded me of. Interesting hero and villan but I have yet to appreciate European fiction. Try it and see if you agree with me.
LAND OF MARVELS - Barry Unsworth - Historical Fiction
Well written, very slightly slow paced "Indiana Jones in Real Life" adventure. Reasonable and believable (even educational) account of conflicting interests in the near east. May prove extra interesting for the reader who enjoys "pre" and "great war" era tales. Certainly based in truth and colored by imagination. A good read. Dave gives it 3.75*
CROSSING WASHINGTON SQUARE - JoAnne Rendell - Women's Fiction
I cannot offer a proper review of this title. While suggesting it may be in the league of Jane Austen, I looked for Fabio on the cover. Though it may want to be more, it reads like SEX IN THE CITY remade for an older Lifetime T.V. screenplay. Perhaps I missed something in the shallow, intellectualized Harlequin romance. I have failed and I do not believe gender is at play here. Dave gives this a 0*
BRODECK - Philippe Claudel - Historical Fiction
Unusual idea for a well written story. Could easily fit into any time in modern history Parallel tales of what has happened, what was reported, and guilt. Style reminded me of Bram Stoker. For those who like European mystery. Dave gives this a 4*
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK IN THE WORLD - Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt - Short Stories
I think it's important to note "translated from the French" short stories. Eight stories of happiness and contentment. Very well written - stimulates an urge to look beyond the surface of the situation to find the optimist within - each a happy suprise at the finish. Sort of a Harlequin Romance, bit of self help manual, and some Shakespeare all mixed in. Probably of more interest to women. Dave gives this 4*
A MAP OF HOME - Randa Jarrar - Fiction
Well written first person fiction takes us around the world as Jarrar describes growing up and cultural changes with her slightly crazy family. I'm stuck to suggest an audience for this book. Perhaps someone who has been location and culturally uprooted. Dave gives this 3.5*
RAGE AGAINST THE MESHUGENAH - Danny Evans - Autobiographical
Recounting life with depression. Made light and funny even while showing us the depths of depression and the struggle to cope day to day. I have never read a more accurate description of the waiting abyss that is depression. Written like a Carl Hiassen novel with daily trials instead of crime fiction. The realization that this is not fiction is nearly a shock because this is so readable. Extremely readable for everyone! Dave gives this 4.5*
AN EDIBLE HISTORY OF HUMANITY - Tom Standage - History/Anthropology
Readable, decent writing. Traces history thru food and food's role in the development of the human race. History buffs may find this interesting. I would expect it to appeal only to a rather small group. Very good for what it is and patterns it reveals about humans. Dave gives this 3*