Gold

January 30, 2008

Author: Dan Rhodes
Copyright: 2007
Publisher: Cannongate (First American Edition)

Started: 1/30/08
Completed: 2/1/08

I cannot tell a lie. I choose this book by its cover. It features a quirky, drawn portrait of the main character and the corners are rounded. It looked interesting; one of those English novels about an outsider learning about a small town’s life and people, in this case a young woman who visits a small Welsh town each year.

And it proved to match that literary tradition. Quirky, alive, and touching. A small story about a small place but well told and satisfying with a slightly quizical ending.

Sword Song

January 25, 2008

Author: Bernard Cornwell
Copyright: 2008
Publisher: Harper (First Edition)

Started: 1/25/08
Completed: 1/29/08

This novel is subtitled The Battle for London. It is another in Cornwell’s long line of early military historical novels. This one set in the last part of the ninth century in England. It is the fourth volume in his series The Saxon Tales. I’ve read and greatly enjoyed the first three. I was looking forward to trying this one out.

I was not disappointed. An enjoyable book!

Practical Demonkeeping

January 21, 2008

Author: Christopher Moore
Copyright: 1992
Publisher: HarperCollins (2004)

Started: 1/20/08
Completed: 1/24/08

I happened to be in a book store over the holiday week-end and I knew I was about to finish reading the book I had active at the time. I knew I would not be able to get to the library for at least a full day. So I went in search of something by an author I knew I enjoyed: Christopher Moore. I have read and enjoyed a few of his later books (Lamb and A Dirty Job, in particular). Practical Demonkeeping is his debut novel.

It has lived up to my expectations. Light fare, but good stuff. I’ll be looking for the rest of his.

The Borderland

January 13, 2008

Author: Edwin Shrake
Copyright: 2000
Publisher: Hyperion

Started: 1/12/08
Completed: 1/20/08

This book is subtitled A Novel of Texas. It concerns itself with the early days of the Republic of Texas,before it joined the United States. I chose it based on my enjoyment of Mr. Shrake’s more recent Custer’s Brother’s Horse. This novel is an interesting mix of history and romance/adventure. It does a credible job of placing you at the scene.

Mister Pip

January 9, 2008

Author: Lloyd Jones
Copyright: 2006
Publisher: The Dial Press (originally published in Australia by The Text Publishing Company)

Started: 1/10/08
Completed: 1/12/08

I’ve heard and read about this novel in a few places and had been keeping half an eye out for it as I scanned library and bookstore shelves. I spotted it on my most recent trip to the Library and thought this might be the time to give it a read. It is a story about a teacher on a tropical island who reads his way through Great Expectations with his class as a distraction from a war.

The novel lived up to, and exceeded my expectations. This is a fine work.

Flashman

January 4, 2008

Author: George MacDonald Fraser
Copyright: 1969
Publisher: Plume (Reprint, 1984)

Started: 1/4/08
Completed: 1/9/08

This was a re-reading, for at least the fourth or fifth time, of a favorite classic. I decided to revisit this novel after learning of the death of GM Fraser on January 3. This is the first in a wonderful series developed around a minor character from Thomas Hardy’s Tom Brown’s School Days. Harry Flashman is a coward and a cad, but he always lands a hero. Fraser uses Flashman and his adventures as a vehicle to carry us back into history.

If you are at all a fan of history, humor, and/or anti-heroes, you should read this series.

Author: Edwin Shrake
Copyright 2007
Published by John M Hardy Publishing

Started: 12/31/07
Completed: 1/4/08

This is a novel about the aftermath of the US Civil War. It is set in Texas. Four main characters come together in a time of crisis, with crises of their own. There is adventure, romance, violence and history. I did see some things I thought were anachronistic, but I enjoyed this book.