The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

December 29, 2008

Author: Michael Chabon
Copyright: 1988
Publisher: Harper

Started: 12/29/08
Completed: 1/3/09

This is Michael Chabon’s first novel. He started writing it between college and grad school and eventually submitted it as his master’s thesis. His adviser sent it on to a literary agent and a career was born. I am glad for that. I started reading Chabon some years ago and I have never regretted starting one of his novels. This is a coming of age story about a young man leaving college and finding his place in the world. According to wikipedia, a film based on this novel is due to be released in 2009.

Empire of Ivory

December 11, 2008

Author: Naomi Novik
Copyright: 2007
Publisher: Ballantine Books

Started: 12/11/08
Completed: 12/16/08

This is the fourth in the Tremeraire series that I have been reading the last few months. Reading this will catch me up on the whole series; a long story about fighting dragoons in the service of the English during the Napoleanic wars. Very good book.

Good Omens

December 4, 2008

Author: Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
Copyright: 1990
Publisher: Harper

Started: 12/4/08
Completed: 12/11/08

Pratchett and Gaiman are two of my favorite authors. I have read this book before, but when I ran across a new paperback edition in the bookstore I decided to revisit. This is silly fantasy, with an English absurdism sensability. It is an “end of times” novel, but the angels and demons are not quite what you would expect.

Author: Christopher Moore
Copyright: 1997
Publisher: Harper

Started: 11/23/08
Completed: 11/28/08

I think this because it was the only book by Christopher Moore that I had not read. It is the fourth of his that I have read this year. Earlier this year I enjoyed Practical DemonkeepingCoyote Blue, and Bloodsucking Fiends. I’m a fan, no doubt.

Christopher Moore is a twisted dude. He is also a good writer. His novels are short and sharp and imaginative and I always enjoy them.

The Black Tower

November 17, 2008

Author: Louis Bayard
Copyright: 2008
Publisher: Twelve

Started: 11/17/08
Completed: 11/23/08

This is a literary, historical, mystery novel set in Paris of the early 1800’s. Bayard wrote Mr. Timothy, another historical mystery and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. So this seemed worth a try.

It centers on Eugène François Vidocq, a figure from French history who had served time in prison but later become the first modern detective. According to Wikipedia, he inspired both Jean Valjean and Javert, the police inspector who pursued Valjean in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.

The Whiskey Rebels

November 3, 2008

Author: David Liss
Copyright: 2008
Publisher: Random House

Started: 11/3/08
Completed: 11/12/08

This is a historical novel set in the early United State; immediately post-Revolution. It has two main story lines that intersect and connect. It is told in two first person voices, and telescopes through time in places.

The plot, involving financial plots, is complex and can be confusing, but there is action and good descriptive writing. This is an enjoyable book about a period of US history that we don’t read about as often.

His Majesty’s Dragon

October 30, 2008

Author: Naomi Novik
Copyright: 2006
Publisher: Ballantine Books

Started: 10/30/08
Completed: 11/3/08

This is the first in the Tremeraire Series that my brother Matt pointed me toward. I started the series by reading the third in the series; I found that at the bookstore before finding this one at the library.

This is a great book. Probably better than the third, to be honest. But in any case, I’m on the lookout for the second book.

Stardust

October 28, 2008

Author: Neil Gaiman
Copyright: 1999
Publisher: Harper

Started: 10/27/08
Completed: 10/29/08

I am a huge Neil Gaiman fan and I loved the movie that was made from this novel a few years ago. So when I spotted this edition on the shelf in the “Science Fiction” section of my bookstore while I was looking for the dragon series I just tried, I had to grab it. It’s fast read, but great fun.

Black Powder War

October 20, 2008

Author: Naomi Novik
Copyright: 2006
Publisher: Ballantine Books

Started: 10/20/08
Completed: 10/27/08

This is part of a series of novels recommended to me by my brother Matt, who shares some of my tastes in reading. The series assumes that the British military had access to dragons (flying dragons) duirng the Napoleonic wars. Matt is not normally a fan of fantasy, but has a keen eye for a well crafted historical or military novel and enjoys a good series as much as I do. This is the third in the series. I couldn’t find books one and two. But I wanted to give it a try.

And it turns out to be worth it. I will look forward to finding, and reading, the rest of this series.

Making Money

October 13, 2008

Author: Terry Pratchett
Copyright: 2007
Publisher: Harper

Started: 10/13/08
Completed: 10/20/08

I am a Terry Pratchett fan. When I saw this on the shelf at my local bookstore I snatched it up. Pratchett writes amusing science fiction about a world — Discworld — in which vampires and other “monsters” are just part of the populace. His Discworld novels are great fun and take a delightfully skewed view of life. And this one is a fine example of the genre. A very fun read.