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I, The Jury:
Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer transcends toughness in his 1947 debut novel that sets the tone for this vigilante Private Investigator. Hammer’s attitude towards criminals is defined on page sixteen when he says, “They crack down on society and I crack down on them. I shoot them like the mad dogs they are and society drags me to court to explain the whys and wherefores of the extermination.” Is he tough are what? Clint Eastwood’s movie character, Dirty Harry , is close, but no cigar. Sam Spade in Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon (1930) is strong, but fair. Philip Marlowe in Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep (1939) is resilient, but not a wrongdoer. Basically, Hammer displays a vicious rage against any violent crime. This 190 pound P.I. loves a brutal, vomit inducing stomach punch as much as he loves his sexy secretary, Velda. Although Hammer chooses to take the law into his own hands, he does respect the police, especially his best friend, Captain Pat Chambers of the NYPD Homicide Department. Hammer is very patriotic and an anti-communist. Okay, now you know what makes Mike Hammer tick. 5 stars out of 5 stars :rolleyes: ricksreviews.blogspot.com
Simon Winchester - Korea: A Walk Through A Land of Miracles


I don't quite know how to respond to this book. It wasn't what I was expecting, in some ways really interesting, often amusing and yet somehow also quite disappointing. It lacked something which I can't quite put my finger on. Perhaps the author was just too detached, even when he wrote about the misery of walking in the rain, I didn't feel it. I couldn't tell if he loved or hated Korea, or whether the walk achieved anything for him.
I've read two books by Simon Winchester. Whereas, I loved A Crack in the World, his book Krakatoa, The Day the World Exploded, left me feeling ho-hum. I think what you say about him seeming too detached might be the problem. I do love how he goes into minute detail and the science behind everything, but it can come off as too clinical at times.
I'm busy reading his book about the Yangtze River which I'm enjoying. All the information he manages to squeeze in is pretty remarkable but again, there is an odd detachment. He manages to find the person who owns a remarkable painting Wang Hui's Wen Li Chang Jiang – the Ten thousand li Yangtze which is a painting 53 feet long of the Yangtze River and goes to see the original painting at the man's house.

"This history all duly recited, we went over to the dining-room table, which was now brilliant in the late afternoon sun. Mr Weng, with steady and delicate movements, unfastened the two tiny ivory hasps that kept the box lid shut. Inside was what looked like a bolt of grey silk: it too was fastened with ties of ivory and white cotton, which Mr Weng undid, his hands shaking a little.

It is rare indeed that we can ever touch a work of art that is as old as three hundred years. Pictures of great age and value are invariably guarded and protected – those on public display generally well, those in private hands usually jealously. They are suspended beyond our grasp, high, unreachable, beyond molestation. Or like some sculptures they may be put behind a little fence, or a tracery of velvet ropes, or with a discreet sign that warns Don't Touch. But Chinese hand scrolls had quite a different purpose.

They were meant to be touched. They were never meant for mere public display. Rather, they were specifically offered to give both visual and tactile pleasure to the owner, at home, in private. They were all part of Confucian civility: with his books and his pipes and his wine – and his paintings – a Chinese man of former times could indulge himself of an evening with a sensual experience of the highest order. As we were doing now. I watched as Mr Weng unrolled the beginning of the painting, and I felt the same electric thrill at the sensation as civilized old Chinese men must have felt through dozens of decades before."

And some how whatever they were feeling, even though he says that Mr Weng's hands' shook opening the scroll, does not come across. He is describing it without any passion being conveyed.
The gloom master is darker than normal in this second book of the Border Trilogy. Published in 1994, Cormac McCarthy once again takes the reader across the border into Mexico through the eyes of a young man. Has anybody ever seen Cormac smile? In a rare interview with The New York Times , Cormac stated that he is not an aficionado of authors who don’t “deal with issues of life and death.” This novel deals with those issues. He is also the master of simple declarative sentences without quotation marks. He told Oprah Winfrey, on her show in 2007, that he believes there is no reason to “blot the page up with weird little marks.” Yet, this rebel of proper grammar is consider one of the great writers of our times. Since I seem to be drawn to his novels, I can’t argue that point, but many literary critics do. And what does William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White, writers of The Elements of Style think about his prose? Not too much, I'm sure. 5 out of 5 stars. :eek: ricksreviews.blogspot.com
- to Meadow337- don't read this novel!
Les Misérables
The unabridged version but it really could have done with being abridged. It's long. 1500 pages of small letters in a paperback book. This in it self is not a bad thing, long books are great, but I hate it when it's because the author comes with sort of philosofical musings instead of advancing the story. Les Misérables has a lot of this. About Waterloo, France, Paris... there's chapters on the sewers of France and yes they are right when that story takes place in the sewers, but does it really require chapters to write about them?
Aside from this which is just a minor annoyance to me (that I'm sure others enjoy) it's a really great book. Although largely similar the ending of the books is much more sad than the musical.
Just reread "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer. Gripping read, but like the author you find yourself annoyed with several characters. For the price of an average house these people could play at extreme adventure.
Okay, I know the book was a hit because it will be a major motion picture in March 2014. Not bad, Veronica Roth. However I’m getting a little tired of YA dystopian novels. For this reviewer, the novel was adequate but unremarkable. After reading the 487 pages and all the extras, I don’t have the urge to read the rest of the trilogy. I’m sure that the remaining novels will answer some questions that I have about the story, such as: Why did this society start in the first place and are there similar communities beyond Chicago? But you know what? I don’t have the hankering to read another 1,000 pages to find out. How many books like 'The Hunger Games' (Suzanne Collins), 'Wool' (Hugh Howey), or 'Delirium' (Lauren Oliver) can someone read before they look for a utopian novel instead. I think Veronica did the right thing by keeping the main characters (Tris, Four, Al, Will, Christina, Eric, Caleb and Peter) to an acceptable Cormac McCarthy character level, but why didn't I feel empathy for any of them? That responsibility rest squarely on the shoulders of the author. I like to root for the main characters, but I didn't get that warm and fuzzy feeling for any one of them. :oops: 3.5 STARS OUT OF 5. ricksreviews.blogspot.com
I'm currently reading/researching Thomas Pynchon.
I was surprised to find (from the Cambridge Companion to Thomas Pynchon) that he and I have been living through the same times and events of modern history, although on different career paths.

Recently finished:
Crying of Lot 49

Next on the list, already started, waiting to be finished:
Slow Learner
Inherent Vice
Bleeding Edge
Gravity's Rainbow

And a little further down on the stack, also started:
American Psycho - Bret Easton Ellis
Dissident Gardens - Jonathan Lethem
Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace​

That should finish out the year, and then some. :)
Star Wars Cruicible :star4:

Decent but the audio CD had a high pitched whine for about a half hr of the last cd...it was on purpose and it was just awful.

I also recently finished Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare....:star3: it was just weird.
THE ONE-EYED MAN by L.E Modesitt, jr.:
This novel should be titled 'The Sleepy-Eyed Man', because that’s what happened to me everytime I sat down to read this semi-monotonous work. I liken this novel to watching grass grow. How exciting can this statement be?(to paraphrase): “He packed his monitors back into the equipment case and headed back to Passova (for the seemingly hundredth time).” How intoxicating can a doctor of ecology be looking for possible environmental problems on a planet 73 light years away from his home planet? Yes, there are interesting skytubes in the sky, but with only a few pages left we still don’t know what they are. We do know that our hero, Dr. Paulo Verano, likes a pale lager with dinner. Whoopsy daisy! Even Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon, as a symbolist, has a more stimulating endeavor. When Dr. Verano visits the outie communities of planet Stittara to check on the environmental conditions, the response he gets is, “You want to monitor the crops first?” Doesn’t that get your blood pulsing? Okay, maybe I’m a little too hard on this veteran author’s latest work. I know that he has written 56 sci-fi and fantasy novels. That’s why I am so disappointed. I expected this stand alone novel to be a near classic, instead 'da book stay cold' (Hawaiian pidgin). I’m trying to be nice. :( 3 OUT OF 5 STARS ricksreviews.blogspot.com
The River at the Center of the World - Simon Winchester

The Man Who Loved China - Simon Winchester

Map of the Invisible World - Tash Aw

The Harmony Silk Factory - Tash Aw

The Flower Reader - Elizabeth Loupas

The Boticelli Secret - Marina Fiorato

The Venetian Contract - Marina Fiorato

Fifty Contemporary Film Makers - Yvonne Tasker

The Martial Arts Cinema of the Chinese Diaspora - Kin-Yan Szeto
The Cambridge Companion to Thomas Pynchon by Inger H. Dalsgaard, Luc Herman and Brian McHale. In-depth analysis through Inherent Vice. Excellent, if dense, reading.
"Larceny in my Blood" Matthew Parker...I'm usually too old to appreciate graphic novels, but this was unusually interesting. Makes me seriously grateful I never ran into junk in my youth...it was available, just noooo...
This book by Reza Aslan flitters around a lot, but is an unqualified eye-opener. It’s the gospel Jesus versus the historical Jesus. Who is right and who is wrong is up to each reader to decide. Mr. Aslan has certainly done plenty of research, but he has the undertone of a former Muslim about him. I say this only so the reader can take what Aslan says with a grain of salt. He is obviously schooled in both religions, but seems to prefer the historical Jesus as the true son of God. With the gospels written many years after Jesus’s death, does anybody really know the truth? The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were written well after Jesus’s death. The events of Jesus’s life are hazy at best since Mark and Luke (some say he was) were not eyewitnesses to Jesus’s life. The gospel of Matthew is by an anonymous author, and the gospel of John is authored by ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’, but is not named. Aslan states that his research took two decades, and he supplies about sixty pages of notes at the end of the book. I guess one can’t ask for more. But for me, some of his revelations are truly stunning. Why was this Christ so different from all the other messiahs that traveled through Jerusalem during Jesus’s time preaching repentance and damnation? They were also convicted of sedition (rebellious acts against the Roman Empire) and crucified, or beheaded. Why were they not the true Christ? Especially, John the Baptist. :) :star5: ricksreviews.blogspot.com
Power, Passion and Beauty-Walter Kolosky Actually I want to reread it again after visiting YouTube. The Mahavishnu Orchestra was a few years before my time. The authors behind the music stories make the music that much more accessible

Five Days at Memorial The ethics of life and death after Katrina. I believe that the doctors did what they could with what they had...others might view it quite differently

War Child-Emmanuel Dal Memoir of a child soldier in Sudan, worth reading at least once

I Hate Myself and I Want to Die-Tom Reynolds Music nerd list of truly depressing songs...the cartoons alone are worth buying the book, perfect junk reading
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