Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Ripping off another better idea

Stewie, it turns out, has another blog: Metro Reading, which basically covers what he reads on his daily commute.

If you know Stewie, you know he's both a book lover and a closet intellectual. And the blog's an interesting look at his more well-versed side.

It's a great idea, and I remarked to him that I'd love to do the same thing, but I felt it might insulting to just blatantly rip him off.

His response, which I probably should have expected, was to Just Do It.

But I'm not about to create a whole new blog - I have enough time mastering this one. What I AM going to do is start a reading update, kind of like my Raiderfans.net column updates and HorrorTalk.com DVD reviews.

So I figured I'd start by listing the various things I've read since Christmas, complete with briefs reviews/recommendations. I hope it gives y'all a little insight into my eccentric reading patterns and interests.

I'm always skimming the intro for a book here or there, but generally speaking, I only concentrate on one or two books at a time - otherwise, they start mixing together, especially if they're similar genres. So this is focused on the books I'm really reading.

When Christmastime rolled around, I was in the midst of "Death's Door," by Michael Slade. Slade (who's really two authors, Jay and Rebecca Clarke) writes what amounts to a mixture of police procedural and horror thriller. This one took me a while to get through, but I loved it so much, I dropped $60 to buy every single Slade "Special X" book via Amazon's used-book hunting service. Canadian mounties battle a killer carving up beautiful women in this one, which I think is the 10th in the series. I've never read any of the others, but that didn't limit my enjoyment at all.

At Christmas (I know, I'm Jewish, point is...) I got several books. The one I dug into right away was "Richard S. Ewell: A Soldier's Life," about one of the Confederacy's stranger generals (yes, there's a bit of inbreeding involved back up the family tree a ways). Ewell, a surprisingly effective general who had the misfortune to fold on the world's largest stage - Gettysburg - was an interesting man who unlike many other Confederate leaders, survived the Civil War. A nice, thick book written by one of the Civil War-historian Pfanzes, and if you're into the Civil War, as I am, it's a terrific read, giving credit to a guy who didn't get all he deserved.

After that, I went for another dose of Civil War, taking advantage of a couple of train rides to read "Warrior in Gray: General Robert Rodes of Lee's Army." Another Civil War general who doesn't get all the attention he deserves, Rodes suffers from the fact that his widow - yeah, he's one of those young guns who didn't make it to 1866 - burned all of his papers and stuff. Rodes is best known for his sweeping charge at Chancellorsville, but like Ewell, he choked at Gettysburg and it cost him a measure of fame.

From there, it was on to a much-anticipated book, "Seven Deadly Wonders," by Matthew Reilly. Reilly is one of my favorite fiction authors, if not my favorite, and three of his first four books probably rank in my Top 20 fiction favorites, including "Ice Station," "Contest" and "Temple." "Area 7," the sequel to "Ice Station," was also top-notch, but I was a bit disappointed by "Scarecrow," the third in the sequence. "Seven Deadly Wonders" is, like "Contest" and "Temple," a stand-alone, introducing the Australian adventurer Jack West Jr. (Reilly is Australian). Reilly's thing is nonstop, balls-to-the-wall action, and this one doesn't disappoint at all. Reilly is one of those guys who's aiming to top the previous book each time out, and this one is for my money the most exciting book he's done since "Ice Station" (his second, the first I read).

After that, I was still in the mood for some Civil War reading, so I moved on to "Carolina Cavalier: The Life and Mind of James Johnston Pettigrew." Pettigrew, another Confederate general, may have been one of the most intelligent and educated men to fight in the war, and this book spends a lot more time on his antebellum life than on his war career - which was short and ended badly at Falling Waters on the retreat from Gettysburg. Pettigrew, as characterized in the movie "Gettysburg" was on the wrong end of one of the film's funnier lines. Longstreet, preparing for Pickett's charge (which Pettigrew commanded half of) says he has heard Pettigrew wrote a book (he did, on Spain), and would like to read it. Pettigrew sends an aide for a copy, and Longstreet remarks, "I don't think I'll have time to read it TODAY."

I'm not actually done with this one, but I expect to finish it in the next day or so... I paused briefly to read another book:

"Walking Together Forever," the story of the "Broad Street Bullies" Flyers of the mid-'70s. OK, confession time: I bought this book as a gift for my best friend, a die-hard Flyers fan. While I was waiting to get together with him, I leafed through it - it's a series of chapters on the members of the title teams and what they've done with their lives since - and loved it so much, I eventually bought myself a second copy to read the entire thing. The Flyers have experienced a lot of tragedy - and a stunning amount of alcoholism - but the book does a great job showing how the championships united these varied players for life. It's a homer, written by the Flyers' play-by-play man, but it's a very nice portrait of a team that played before I was born. I'm only a half-hearted Flyers fan, but I really enjoyed the look at this infamous team - known more for its brawling than its winning, despite back-to-back Cup wins.

Not sure where I'll go after I finish the Pettigrew bio - I've been reading a lot of graphic novels lately - but I'll definitely try to keep you posted.

Michael Slade's site
Matthew Reilly's site

I love this whole picture thing! I should've figured it out ages ago.


Stewie said...


I didn't think.

I take it back.

Because I read some of the same stuff you do. I'm only adding crap to my list.

Ace said...

See. I didn't want to do it, and you talked me into it. Serves you right.