Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Highly Recommended Reading: "Dope Thief" by Dennis Tafoya.

Dope Thief is shelved with books categorized as mysteries, but it is much more than that.  It is an exciting story about redemption. 

The story begins as a crime novel.  Thirty-year old Stan, the protagonist, is a crook who has been in and out of correction facilities since he was a juvenile.  His current scheme is to rip-off drug dealers with the help of his friend Manny.

Stan knows that he is involved in a risky business that will likely end with either his death or incarceration and, inevitably, Stan and Manny steal from the wrong group of bikers and get into a dangerous position.  It is at this point that the book blossoms from a standard crime/mystery novel into something extraordinary.  Author Dennis Tafoya, writing in spare language with tension and energy, takes us not only through the process of Stan resolving his trouble with the bikers, but the trouble with his life.

Dope Thief is one of the best books I've read this year.  It has danger, redemption, philosophy and reality, injury and forgiveness.  The book's jacket art wonderfully sums up the novel.  The artwork, by Jonathan Bennett, shows a heart wrapped in thorns with a flame burning above.  On the heart is printed "A Mystery".  Dope Thief may indeed be a mystery novel, but the crime and drama give way to the ultimate mystery, the mystery of the heart.          

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

E-Reader Price War?

The success of the iPad is pushing down the price of other e-readers.  Today the Amazon Kindle is down to $189.  Check out the Wall Street Journal for more on the e-reader price war.  The bottom line?  This market is changing rapidly.  There is no point in buying now when prices will certainly fall further and new products will be coming to market.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Book Report: Lee Child, Peter Carey, Barbara Demick, Catherine Brady.

Quick up-date on what I've been reading:

  1. Just finished 61 Hours by Lee Child.  This book features Child's reoccurring character Jack Reacher.  Entertaining read.  Interesting ending.  Good book for the beach.
  2.  A chapter into Peter Carey's Parrot and Oliver in America, I decided to set the book aside and save it to read when I am traveling.  I think it is going to be a good story, but I may need to be "trapped" with the book to really get engaged in the story.
  3. I skipped and skimmed my way through Barbara Demick's collection of short stories, The Mechanics of Falling.  In comparison to Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by Z.Z. Packer, which is in my mind the gold standard for collections of short stories, The Mechanics of Falling fell short.
  4. Nothing to Envy:  Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Catherine Brady is good because the author has fascinating information about an interesting subject.  Brady's writing style is about a C+, so I'm continuing to work my way through this book solely because I want to read the material.  In contrast to Nothing to Envy, in Charles Bowden's Murder City, which I started reading last night, the author writes in a very stylish and exciting manner about what is also a very compelling topic.  Still, I'm enjoying both books.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Father's Day is June 20 - Book Ideas for Dad.

While finding something nice for Mom on Mother's Day has always been relatively easy, finding something for Dad on Father's Day has always been tough.  Father's Day is more than two weeks away, but because a gift for Dad requires some extra thought, I'm going to put together a few posts with some book-giving ideas over the next week or so.  Below is the first group of ideas:  

1.  Author Lee Child's 14th novel featuring ex-military cop Jack Reacher.  At this point in the series, do plot details matter?  We know Reacher, a man alone in the world with just an ATM card, is going to stumble into trouble and will try to do the right thing while getting out of it.      

2. A good title for golf and sports fans, Chasing Greatness is the story of the 1973 U.S. Open, where 26-year-old Johnny Miller overcame a six stroke deficit to win.  By shooting a remarkable final round eight-under 63, Miller beat a field that included Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Lee Travino.  

3.  Blind Descent by James Tabor is a nonfiction title recommend recently in the Wall Street Journal.  It is the story of two teams of explorers, one American and the other Russian, searching for the deepest supercave on earth.  Publisher's Weekly described the book as having "fascinating information on the big supercave treks that holds the reader to his seat, containing dangers aplenty with deadly falls, killer microbes, sudden burial, asphyxiation, claustrophobia, anxiety, and hallucinations far underneath the ground in a lightless world . . .  this is tense real-life adventure pitting two master cavers mirroring the cold war with very uncommonly high stakes."  Wow!