Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 100+ Challenge List

  1. The Vampire Lestat - Anne Rice
  2. The Hellbound Heart - Clive Barker
  3. A Scanner Darkly - Philip K. Dick 
  4. 30 Days of Night - Steve Niles (story) & Ben Templesmith (art)  
  5. Finding Our Way -  René Saldaña, Jr.
  6. Downtown Owl - Chuck Klosterman 
  7. Valleysong: An Anthology Echoing the Rhythm and Cadence of Life in the Rio Grande Valley - Texas Rio Writers 
  8. Things the Grandchildren Should Know - Mark Oliver Everett 
  9. Darkness on the Edge of Town - Brian Keene 
  10. Alan Moore's Writing for Comics - Alan Moore 
  11. The Crow: Flesh & Blood - James Vance (story) & Alex Maleev (art) 
  12. Shortcomings - Adrian Tomine 
  13. Batman R.I.P. - Grant Morrison (story) & Tony S. Daniel, Sandu Florea, Lee Garbett and Trevor Scott (art) 
  14. Superman Red Son - Mark Millar (story) & Dave Johnson and Kilian Plunkett, with Andrew Robinson and Walden Wong (art)
  15. Batman Year One - Frank Miller (story) & David Mazzucchelli (art) 
  16. Fall of Cthulhu: The Gathering - Michael Alan Nelson (story) with Greg Scott, Marco Rudy, Tim Hamilton, Michel Rueda & Pablo E. Quiligotti (art) 
  17. Clive Barker's Age of Desire - P. Craig Russell (adapted) & Timothy Bradstreet 
  18. Kill Two Birds & Get Stoned - Kinky Friedman 
  19. The New Dead - Christopher Golden (Editor) 
  20. Incest - Marquis de Sade (story), Andrew Brown (translation) 
  21. The End of Alice - A.M. Homes 
  22. Thirteen - T. Pines 
  23. Chronicle of a Death Foretold - Gabriel Garcia Marquez 
  24. No One Belongs Here More Than You - Miranda July
  25. Yes Man - Danny Wallace
  26. Written on the Body - Jeanette Winterson 
  27. A Cool Head - Ian Rankin 
  28. Hellbound Hearts - Paul Kane & Marie O'Regan (Editors) 
  29. The Surgeon - Tess Gerritsen 
  30. Flashforward - Robert J. Sawyer 
  31. Whip It - Shauna Cross
  32. The Apprentice - Tess Gerritsen
  33. Franny and Zooey - J.D. Salinger
  34. A Gathering of Crows - Brian Keene
  35. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
  36. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
  37. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
  38. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
  39. Batman: The Widening Gyre - Kevin Smith (story) & Walter Flanagan (art)
  40. The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God & Other Stories - Etgar Keret
  41. God Hates Us All - Hank Moody
  42. The Stand: The Complete and Uncut Edition - Stephen King
  43. Questionable Content vol. 1 - Jeph Jacques
  44. The Sinner - Tess Gerristen
  45. Star Wars: Death Troopers - Joe Schreiber
  46. Body Double - Tess Gerritsen
  47. Vanish - Tess Gerritsen
  48. The Mephisto Club - Tess Gerritsen
  49. The Keepsake - Tess Gerritsen
  50. Ice Cold - Tess Gerritsen

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    Thursday, December 30, 2010

    The Last Book Hunt of 2010

    I wasn't going to make a post until after New Year's, but how could I just ignore the impromptu book hunt of 2010? It's only the last book hunt of the year. I'm ending the year by reading Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice, despite what my GoodReads page states. I took said novel with me on the mini-road trip to Brownsville, Texas - where Jyg had her interview. 

    I didn't do any reading at all while waiting for her. After, we headed to the Sunrise Mall where I rushed to the restroom. After coming out, I spotted it - the Mecca of my book hunting career. The holy land where it all started for me - a Waldenbooks. Brownsville and Harlingen are the last cities (that I'm aware of) that still house the Borders owned bookstore. I waltzed right in and was amazed by how much such a small store can hold. In there, I found a copy of John Green's Paper Towns, which I've been wanting to read for two - going on three - years for only $3.99. It wasn't the cover I originally wanted, but I wasn't going to let the opportunity slip me by. 

    After Brownsville, we made a stop at Valle Vista Mall in Harlingen before heading home. Another Waldenbooks to venture through. There I found two books, both $3.99 each. The Real History of the End of the World by Sharan Newman - author of The Real History Behind the Templars and The Real History Behind the Da Vinci Code - seemed like a must have for next year's religious text challenge. And the just-for-fun pick, All the Sad Young Literary Men by Keith Gessen. 

    As we speak, I have four books and one toy - which I'll reveal come January 4th (the date may vary). Three books ordered from my favorite online booksellers, BetterWorldBooks, which are: Gravity by Tess Gerritsen, Zen Sex: The Way of Making Love and Do Me: Sex Tales from Tin House. From Amazon, I purchased the toy and the novel Annabel by Kathleen Winter. 

    I bid you farewell, 2010. Here's looking at a bright, new future of 2011. May your year be blessed with many books. Until then, keep on huntin'.

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    Sunday, December 12, 2010

    All Good Things Must Come to an End (Until They Start Up Again, That Is)

    By the time I finished reading The Keepsake, I wasn't looking forward to reading Ice Cold. I was even considering to put it off for another week, read another author for a change. Maybe it would freshen my outlook on the Rizzoli & Isles series - giving myself some time to forgive Tess Gerritsen for the seventh novel. But I couldn't resist. I cracked the novel and dove in. And while at the beginning of the novel, I felt like Gerritsen was working on some deadline to release a novel during the time the series was going to be released, the journey it took me on caught me off guard. Has it renewed my faith in Gerritsen's prose? Perhaps. Has it left me pining away until she releases a ninth novel? You bet your sweet ass it has.

    Unlike the predecessors, Ice Cold seems to focus mostly on Dr. Maura Isles. Jane Rizzoli still remains the series's central character, however. Starting up on the winter after the events in The Keepsake, we open up with the beginning of the end of Maura and Father Daniel Brophy's affair. Leaving for Wyoming, Maura doesn't want to face the facts that have been so painfully obvious for months now. Still, rather than ending it there at the airport, she boards the plane knowing that the one person who has made her the happiest has also left miserable. At the conference in Wyoming, she meets up with an old college alumnus, Douglas Comley - a character who is Maura's opposite. Seduced into living a little wild, Maura agrees to join him, his daughter and two friends on a road trip to sight see after the conference commences. However, a wrong turn takes them on a deadly path that neither foresaw. 

    Taking shelter in an abandon compound called Kingdom Come, the quartet begin to uncover a mystery. Meals have been abandoned; pets are found dead. Something strange has happened in Kingdom Come, and someone is watching them intently.

    When Jane Rizzoli learns of Maura's failure to board the flight back to Boston, she sets off for Wyoming - husband Gabriel Dean and Father Daniel Brophy in tow. The trio learn of Maura's death, leaving a greater mystery to uncover. 

    I don't want to give too much away, because I liked being on the edge of my seat. However, if you remember correctly, Maura Isles has died before in Body Double. I was confused about the novel when I first started reading it. Several times I found myself wondering if any of the actions were really those of the characters. It felt like Gerritsen was meeting some deadline - a way to promote the TNT series by labeling the novel "A Rizzoli & Isles Novel" rather than the usual "Jane Rizzoli Book #". Some of Maura's actions were questionable, but I learned to accept them. However, the ending was a little flat. Not to mention the mystery's ending was a little too familiar, as well (ahem, can anyone remember The Sinner?).

    Old friends are brought back - Anthony Sansone returns, as well, with a cameo appearance from The Mephisto Club victim, Lily Saul - and new ones are made - possibly the most memorable, Julian "Rat" Perkins, who serves as the sort of anti-hero. 

    Even though it might not have been the best book in the series, it still garners a four-star rating from this book hunter. Until next time, keep on huntin'.

    Thursday, December 9, 2010

    New Books, Changes & Future Challenges

    My final package from BetterWorldBooks came in today; it contained The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation by Michael Wise, Martin Abegg Jr., and Edward Cook and the misleading title, The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels. Misleading because the book is about the Gnostic Gospels rather than the Gnostic Gospels. Minor set back - those gospels are available online, anyway and this will just aid me through reading them, I suppose. 

    In other news, I'm changing the set up of the "reviews" I write on here. And it's a simple change, so you don't have to worry about getting all confused. Rather than the picture being on this side of the post ====> it'll now be located on this side <====. I'll also be posting film "reviews" rather than just sticking to books - though, these reviews will consist of movies actually worth reviewing. Music reviews might find a home here, but it's too early to speak considering most of what I've been listening to isn't worth my time. 

    Included in this change, I started a Twitter account (@ObservantReader) for the new year. I'm still unsure if this will work to bring in more traffic - for the most part, the account will be used for linking posts I make here. However, I'll include Amazon specials, book news links and other things of the sort - not to mention, book finds while I'm on the move. I'll also embed a Twitter app here on the homepage. 

    If my Twitter idea does work with bringing in more traffic, I'll start shopping around for used books to put as giveaways. Possibly four times a year, plus other small giveaways in between - these can consist of journals to stationery to (possibly) DVDs. If I do go forth with this idea, it'll be late in the year. 

    I'm beginning back snapshots, as well. Though, I imagine it won't be like the ones I'm posted in the past. I don't aim for artistic - I'm not a photographer, nor do I have the time or patience to learn how to be a successful one (I'll leave that to you pros out there), so these will be very amateur (the very essence of snapshots). I doubt they'll be edited other than cropping and (perhaps) shadowing. 

    The last thing - and possibly the most challenging - I plan to do on this blog is live blogging during book hunts and book sales. Video might be implemented later on, but it's doubtful so don't count on it. 

    This year, I partook in two challenges: the 100+ books in a year and the read-books-you-normally-wouldn't. I only managed to complete the latter with the Rizzoli & Isles novels - which I've grown to love. Next year's is full of potential challenges, but the only one I'm going to focus on is my religious texts challenge. This challenge might spawn a spin-off blog of its own - possibly a WordPress blog, though I'm leaning more toward Tumblr (though lately, that site is a let down). I'll post a link if I do go forth with it. 

    Until next time, keep on huntin'.

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    Monday, December 6, 2010

    Poetry & Religion

    A few weeks ago, my friend Moisés S.L. Lara messaged me via Facebook asking for permission to send me a copy of his sister's book, Furia (Mouthfeel Press, 2010). He's responsible for the lovely cover art, by the way. Just this afternoon, I heard the postman crunching his way up to the door. Opening the door, he let out a  whoa! as I caught him by surprise. His hand contained to packages - one bulky that had X-mas present written all over it - and the latter thin and large. Knowing that I haven't ordered any single books, I had to assume it was from that Kickstarter project I backed about a month or so ago - The Misanthropic Adventures of Bony Levi - however, that seemed unlikely. I placed the bulky packaged on the table and worked open the mysterious one. I was beginning to wonder when this book was going to be sent in. Happy, I snapped a photo and posted it on Facebook so Moisés would know I got the book.

    Para Guillermo, Paz y Fuerza
    I'm never one to give up a free book, of course. I don't know any book hunters - read: book junkies - who would. Even if it's out of our preferred genre, we don't turn down free books. However, Furia isn't outside my preferred genre, so it all works now. I should probably mention the author's name, I suppose. After I tagged my friend on the book's photo, his sister, the author, Ire'ne Lara Silva friend-requested me.

    Even though I'm reading Ice Cold by Tess Gerritsen currently, I told Moisés I would start reading Furia as soon as I'm done with it. But since the cold weather is pushing in, I was thinking of curling up with some hot cocoa - because I'm not a big fan of coffee - and start reading it tonight. I'm no stranger to reading two books at the same time - though I am a stranger of actually finishing both - you should see my Goodreads profile.

    While I'm on the subject of the packages that arrived this afternoon, my mother's X-mas presents arrived today. This year, I'm gifting her a copy of Nicolas Sparks's The Lucky One and Mitch Albom's Have a Little Faith: A True Story (don't worry, the surprise isn't spoiled as she will never read this blog). I'm thinking of getting her something not book related, but I haven't decided what that would be. With this order, my copy of the Gospel of Judas came in. I have to say, that I do really love because not only did I get my mother's gifts and my book, but they also sent me a free chocolate bar. And who doesn't like free chocolate?

    My chilly autumn night is set. Until next time, keep on huntin'.

    Saturday, December 4, 2010

    Packages in the Mail

    It's that time of year when packages are pouring out of my mailbox, and I love it. Unlike X-mases past, this year - thanks to and their awesome deals - I've managed to get a couple of goodies for myself with this year's X-mas present orders. 

    Last week, I received two books for Jyg along with The New Diary by Tristine Rainer - featuring a preface by Anaïs Nin. Last Thursday, I received a copy of The Book of Jubilees - a.k.a. "the little Genesis" - translated by R.H. Charles - it was purchased to gain Amazon's Super Saver Shipping for another gift for Jyg. Just this morning, I was treated to another package - this one also from - The Book of Enoch also translated by R.H. Charles. I'm still waiting for my copy of The Gospel of Judas (tagging along with a Nicolas Sparks novel and one by Mitch Albom for my mother).

    I know - so not the point of the holiday season - but, hey, I'm a book hunter which is just another term for book junky. My apologies. Until next time, keep on huntin'.

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010

    The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen

    Picking up the summer after the events of The Mephisto Club, The Keepsake opens with Maura Isles entering Pilgrim Hospital to witness the event of the century - the CT scanning of Madam X, a mummy found in the basement of the Crispin Museum. There she is introduced to Dr. Nicolas Robinson, museum's curator, and Dr. Josephine Pulcillo, the museum's Egyptologist. As the scan is processed, the three doctors - as do the other witnesses - notice something anachronistic. Lodged in the leg, there is a bullet and a broken bone that had started the process of healing. Suddenly this thousand year discovery became a modern day crime, one that has Detective Jane Rizzoli taking the lead.

    I wouldn't know where to start with The Keepsake. Part of me was hoping the book would get interesting, while another wanted to put the book down and just start Ice Cold - the series's eighth novel. It's uncertain if Tess Gerritsen's heart wasn't in the book when writing, or when mine was absent when reading it, but the book seemed like it was written on some deadline. It lacked the essential thing that kept me turning the pages of the other novels - suspense. The only time I felt like I was on the edge of my seat was when I noticed how many pages I had left. My reading pace became slacked. I didn't care about the victims or the killer(s) presented in the novel. Already, things were sounding alarms in my head, so when the revealing of the killer(s) was brought up, there was no mind blowing revelations - the aha experience* wasn't present in the conclusion, especially when the mastermind was revealed.

    While Maura Isles is the first on the scene in the novel, her presence - and importance - in the novel is minimum. Her relationship with Father Daniel Brophy, which blossomed in The Mephisto Club, is continued in the novel. His relationship with the church, however, is still an unresolved issue. Anthony Sansone - of the Mephisto Foundation -is brought in as the other guy, even though that never really takes off, either. The novel's ending simple has Jane thinking of Maura and Daniel's relationship, rather some resolution from the characters. We can only assume that something will happen in Ice Cold that wraps that plot line up, though - after the reading the front flap of the novel, I seriously doubt we'll get the closer we need on Maura's character.

    The only good part of the novel was the character build-up of Detective Barry Frost. Finally, after seven novels, we get a little bit of insight of his abilities and his relationship with Alice - his heard of but never seen (until now) wife. Whether we learn more about his life after the novel, is still up in the air - unless you already Ice Cold, in which case, don't tell me.

    I look forward to reading the final novel (thus far, anyway), but will be reluctant to ever read this one again. Well, until next time, keep on huntin'.

    *aha experience - A descriptive term for the emotional reaction that typically occurs at a moment of sudden insight after a long process of problem solving, learning or psychotherapy; it is the moment when various elements of a problem situation come together and seem to make sense. (via: The Encyclopedia of Mental Health)

    Sunday, November 28, 2010

    The I-Knew-I-Shouldn't-Have-Left-The-House-And-Gone-To-Barnes & Noble Book Hunt

    It was probably best if I didn't leave the house but I did and now I'm seventeen dollars poorer. First book I saw as I entered Barnes & Noble - a Kraft Philadelphia 3 Books in 1 cookbook. And in the last copies cart, I find The Jesus Papers by Michael Baigent, co-author of the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail - if you remember there was some controversy with that book and the novel The Da Vinci Code. The former book would make this holiday season filled with yummy goodness, while the latter will make the list of religious texts I planned to read in the new year.

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    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    Possible Reading List for 2011

    After a lot of contemplation - mostly from staring at my book shelf - I decided that I would read a few religious texts in the upcoming year. I'm not looking for religious solace, it's merely reading for personal knowledge. While the following isn't a for sure list, it is one in progress:

    Until next time, keep on huntin'.

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