Tag: Lawrence Block

Mini Reviews; Crime Edition

Posted January 13, 2016 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Crime, Thriller / 14 Comments

I do not know if it is the fact that I have had some big months recently or that I associate violence with the holiday period but I have felt the need to read crime fiction lately. I think after a recent review of Dexter is Dead, I have been searching from a new crime series, and hopefully I will find one soon. As crime novels are hard to review without spoilers I thought I will combine them into a mini-review.

Mini Reviews; Crime EditionTitle: Vanishing Games (Goodreads)
Author: Roger Hobbs
Series: Ghostman #2
Published: Knopf Doubleday, 2015
Pages: 304
Genres: Thriller
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Jack the Ghostman is backed, this time his mentor, Angela needs his help. After a heist to steal some uncut sapphires worth millions of dollars goes wrong, Angela finds herself in trouble. An unknown crime organisation seems to be after her and she is stuck in Macau without any help. She turned to her protégé in the hope to get back the sapphires and get out alive.

I remember Ghostman to be a fun, fast paced heist novel so when book two, Vanishing Games was released, I knew I would eventually read it. What worked really well in the book was the setting; Macau becomes this mysterious city full of uncertainty. A sovereign state of China, Macau is one of the richest countries in the world, thanks to housing the largest gambling district. A tourist attraction for high rollers, but still housing a seedy underbelly. I had a lot of fun with this book, it was fun and action packed, but still a typical heist novel which is not a bad thing


Mini Reviews; Crime EditionTitle: In the Woods (Goodreads)
Author: Tana French
Series: Dublin Murder Squad #1
Narrator: John McCormack
Published: Viking, 2007
Pages: 429
Genres: Crime
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

I have been recommended the Dublin Murder Squad by Tana French multiple times, not sure why. So I finally decided to pick up the first book In the Woods, which tells the story of Detective Rob Ryan and Detective Cassie Maddox assigned to the murder of a twelve year old girl. More than twenty years ago Ryan and two friends got lost in the same woods. He returned, but what happened to his friends remains a mystery.

This was a fresh and dark psychological suspense, which I enjoyed far more than I expected. My problem with best-seller crime novels is they tend to be very formulaic and unoriginal. Tana French managed to keep the same format but still made the book stand out. I think the chemistry between Ryan and Maddox played a big part of this. I was shipping the two and hoping they will end up together. I hear this series follows different characters in the Dublin murder squad which I am worried about, I want more from these two characters.


Mini Reviews; Crime EditionTitle: Villain (Goodreads)
Author: Shūichi Yoshida
Translator: Philip Gabriel
Published: Vintage, 2011
Pages: 295
Genres: Crime
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

One morning in January 2006, the body of a female insurance saleswoman, Yoshino was found dead on Mitsue Pass. A young construction worker, Yuichi is arrested for her murder. Shifting perspectives, Villain tells the story of the events leading up to Yoshino’s murder and the aftermaths.

Kosaku Yoshida is often considered as one of Japan’s best crime writers and as a fan of Japanese Lit, I knew I had to check one of his books out. However I was a little disappointed; the story was interesting but I was not a fan of the execution. I thought it builds up the suspense, then shifts perspective; which felt like it kept stopping and starting and that just felt too clunky. Yoshida explores the idea of alienation, which seems to be a common theme in Japanese fiction. This worked well, however this was not enough to redeem the novel for me.


Mini Reviews; Crime EditionTitle: Hit Man (Goodreads)
Author: Lawrence Block
Series: Keller #1
Published: Harper Collins, 2002
Pages: 342
Genres: Thriller
My Copy: eBook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Lawrence Block is a hard working pulp crime novelist, best known for his hard-boiled detective Matthew Scudder, gentleman thief Bernie Rhodenbarr and hit man John Keller. Hit Man is the first book in the Keller series, combining a collection of short stories to develop this character. This is an interesting technique and Block’s short story book One Night Stands and Lost Weekends remains one of my favourite crime collections. He manages to pack the same punch of a normal pulp novel into a stripped down story.

I enjoy Lawrence Block’s style; it is nice to know someone is trying to keep the pulp crime genre alive. However Hit Man is more of a thriller series, which develops the complexities of this character with short intervals for an assassination. I like the way the stories interlock as a way to introduce John Keller, I have never seen this technique and think it worked well. Having said that, I think this is a fun book but I am not sure if I will continue the series. I am looking for something darker and do not think the Keller series will give me what I desire.


Time to Murder and Create by Lawrence Block

Posted March 8, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Pulp / 0 Comments

Time to Murder and Create by Lawrence BlockTitle: Time to Murder and Create (Goodreads)
Author: Lawrence Block
Series: Matt Scudder #2
Published: Orion, 1976
Pages: 170
Genres: Pulp
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Matthew Scudder is back and this time a small-time stoolie named Jake “The Spinner” Jablon has come to him for help. This informer has found a new line of business in blackmail but now one of his clients has figured it was better to kill than keep paying for his silence. After an attempt on his life goes wrong, The Spinner turns to Scudder to be his avenging angel if he ever does wind up dead. Only problem is when he eventually was found floating in the river, Scudder had to work out just who finally caught up to The Spinner and killed him.

Having just finished War and Peace (a review that is quite difficult to write) I felt the need to read something quick and easy. The Matthew Scudder series is just that, 1970’s hard-boiled with a gritty and fast paced style to it. Scudder is a former New York Police officer who now does ‘favours’ for people as he isn’t a licenced Private Investigator. One of the things I really like about Lawrence Block’s hard-boiled detective is the fact that there are signs that he isn’t what he claims to be. It’s revealed that Scudder was a corrupt cop and you can see the corruption start to seep into his PI work. Hard-Boiled characters normally walk that fine line between good and evil but with Matthew Scudder I get the sense that he can’t walk a straight line.

You might have noticed that I’ve been trying to write critical reviews lately but when it comes to a book like Time to Murder and Create it is hard to have in-depth criticism. This is pure escapism, a quick and entertaining read full of dark gritty characters that all have a secret to keep.  Like In the Midst of Death, Time to Murder and Create wasn’t as good as The Sins of the Fathers, the series started off strong but now it feels like those crime shows on TV where there is just a new case every time and nothing new or exciting.

If I ever need a quick easy palate cleaner, then I might return to the Matthew Scudder because sometimes you need mindless entertainment. I have an idea of what I would like to see with this character but I don’t think they will go in that direction. Sometimes I wish I had the skills to write a hard-boiled crime series, just because they are fun to read and I have never found a series that lived up to the excitement of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe series and I’m frustrated enough to want to create my own. If anyone has a recommendation for a great hard-boiled crime series, please let me know.


Monthly Review – February 2014

Posted February 28, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 0 Comments

And the mountains echoedThe Literary Exploration reading challenge is going so well; almost 2000 books have been read from the group so far. I’m so happy with the response and pleased to see people still had time to read And The Mountains Echoed. Some interesting thoughts have come out of this book from the group and while there were people that didn’t like the book (me included), I’m so glad to see so much great constructive criticism in the threads; this is what we live for. For those who don’t know about the reading challenge, there is still time to join in the fun, so check out my post here.

I’m so happy to see that the book club continues to be entertaining and as we move into March, I’m looking forward to seeing what people will say about Middlesex for our literary fiction theme. I’ve not read this book yet but I’m a fan of Jeffery Eugenides’ other book, so I’m excited to try this one. Currently I’ve read eleven books towards the Literary Exploration Reading Challenge and you can find my own record of the challenge here.

I thought I had a quiet month reading but I’m still happy with my effort of seven books (plus a few comics). Highlights this month include My Life as a Fake by Peter Carey, a post-modern take on one of the biggest literary hoaxes in Australia and War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy which I’ve been reading since October. One book I will most likely be talking about continuously for the rest of the year is The Dark Path by David Schlicker, a memoir about the battle between his desire to become a priest and his attraction to women. How was February for you and your reading life? Let me know in the comments below.

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Grifter’s Game by Lawrence Block

Posted August 7, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Pulp / 0 Comments

Grifter’s Game by Lawrence BlockTitle: Grifter’s Game (Goodreads)
Author: Lawrence Block
Series: Hard Case Crime #1
Published: Hard Case Crime, 1961
Pages: 205
Genres: Pulp
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Leonard K. Blake is a conman hiding out in Atlantic City, but of course that’s not his real name, nor is it David Gavilan or Joe Marlin. He has a knack for telling a story and knows exactly what people want to hear in order to take advantage of them. Then he meets Mona, a blonde bombshell, bored wife to a millionaire. He can make a lot of money from this woman but when he steals a suitcase full of heroin from a train station that belongs to her husband things change. A brick of pure heroin will either make him rich or dead and so could Mona.

Originally released in 1961 under the name Mona and later released as Sweet Slow Death, Lawrence Block’s novel Grifter’s Game (the title he originally wanted to use) is the first book in the now popular Hard Case Crime series. This is a gritty noir at its best, something Block is known for and something readers come to expect from this imprint. A fast paced narrative that will keep the reader on its toes right to the end.

I’m not going to lie to you, while reading this book I have to think back on my past and all the dumb things I’ve done and I thought to myself, I might have been a pretty good grifter if I was born back then. Honestly I knew how to lie and manipulate, not something I’m proud of and not something I ever want to do again. So this book hit a little close to home with me and reminded me of the past I would rather leave behind; something that makes this a difficult book for me to read.

The more I read Lawrence Block, the more I like his style which is good because he has published a lot of books, most in different series so it’s always nice to read a standalone. From the snappy dialogue to the plotting, Block has really crafted his style that could rival some of the greats from the golden age of pulp. He really knows how to write both noir and hard-boiled novels that remain gritty and fresh, after so many books I’m not sure how he manages to do this.

Grifter’s Game is probably not the best novel to start with if you’ve never read Lawrence Block, but is definitely one worth trying. He really captured how I would picture an immoral, unsympathetic lowlife and somehow manages to still get the read to care about what happens. This was the perfect book to launch the Hard Case Crime imprint with.  It has everything you want in a pulp; plot, fast pacing, complex characters, gritty prose, great dialogue and the shocking end.


Monthly Review – July 2013

Posted July 31, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 0 Comments

This month we looked at the satirical novel and read Kurt Vonnegut’s modern classic Cat’s Cradle. This was a lot of fun for me; even though I’ve read the novel, I’m becoming a big fan of Juvenalian satire. While it might have been a little difficult for others, it is always great to go out of our comfort zones and read something great. Next month we are dipping into some non-fiction when we read Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway, considered one of the best books ever written about bullfighting.

My wife has been away for almost three weeks and in that time I thought I might have gotten a lot of reading done, but sadly this was not the case. I’ve done pretty well for myself but nothing amazing, it seems like a regular month for me; reading wise. The biggest highlight for the month would have to be A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra but I did hit rock bottom as well and read Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I would love to know what your highlights or lowlights of the month were and even what you read this month.

My Monthly Reading


In the Midst of Death by Lawrence Block

Posted March 14, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Pulp / 0 Comments

In the Midst of Death by Lawrence BlockTitle: In the Midst of Death (Goodreads)
Author: Lawrence Block
Series: Matt Scudder #3
Published: Orion, 1976
Pages: 182
Genres: Pulp
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Private investigator Matt Scudder is back. This time he is on the case for NYPD cop Jerry Broadfield. While Broadfield was never going to be known as a pillar of society he was (mostly) an honest cop. But he seems to have rattled a few cages, mainly from the crook cops on the force. Now he is being set up.

Because The Sins of the Fathers was so short and I enjoyed it so much I went right into In the Midst of Death. Something I never do and that is normally because I never like to get entrenched in an author or a genre, so I always mix it up. But also because I find there are small elements that can become repetitive if you go from one book in a series to the next. While this is book three (which I originally thought was book two) Lawrence Block covers the same important information about Matthew Scudder; which is good for people reading out of order but jumping straight into this one after the first book, it felt more like a copy/paste job.

Unlicensed Private investigator is truly shaping into a great character  and even though I’ve read two books in the series so quickly and one after the other, I still want to read more, which is a real testament to Lawrence Block’s writing skills. I love Scudder’s cynical attitude and his reluctance to work; he is truly a great hard-boiled protagonist in the making.

Corruption is a tricky game and while you are meant to hate Jerry Broadfield it is interesting the way Scudder goes about this case. While this was not as strong as The Sins of the Fathers, it still worked really well. I want more insights into the psyche of Scudder because I really think there is something dark waiting to come out. After my second Block novel, I’m starting to see just why he is respected as a modern pulp author and he is quickly becoming a favourite.


The Sins of the Fathers by Lawrence Block

Posted March 13, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Pulp / 0 Comments

The Sins of the Fathers by Lawrence BlockTitle: The Sins of the Fathers (Goodreads)
Author: Lawrence Block
Series: Matt Scudder #1
Published: Orion, 1976
Pages: 182
Genres: Pulp
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

A pretty young prostitute is found dead, killed by a minister’s son who is found hanging in a prison cell. This case may seem open and shut, considering the boy was found with her blood all over him and he confessed to the murder. But when the father hires private investigator Matthew Scudder to find out more of his daughters life, what will he uncover?

The Sins of the Fathers is pretty different from normal hard-boiled novels; the crime and case is closed and the PI is hired for something completely different; to learn more of the victims life. The father wants to know more about his estranged daughter, but once you go down the rabbit hole, you never know what you’ll find.

Enter Matt Scudder, an ex cop with a huge drinking problem. Scudder is a great character; he has all the hallmarks of a great hard-boiled detective but he seems more bitter and jaded that what you normally see. He is riddled with flaws and dark secrets that are waiting to be revealed and while the major one is, there is still a sense of mystery behind the man. But then he does something unexpected; for example, Scudder tithes 10% of all money being made to which ever church he visits (normally the Catholics because they are always open), you never get a sense that he is a church goer but he does believe in something.

This was an interesting take on this crime genre, yet it still had that dark plots and shady characters. While it seems like it’s a little lighter than the norm, it ends up packing a huge punch with some very classic noir twists towards the end. I really like Scudder as the protagonist; he was almost borderline anti-hero and sometimes I wish he would head in that direction but he never does.

Sins of the Fathers is the first book in Lawrence Block’s series featuring Private Investigator Scudder. I believe there are about 17 books in the series and I can’t wait to read them all. As soon as I finished this book, I dived into In the Midst of Death which most places call book two but Block has stated it is actually book three in the series. I hope when I get to Time to Murder and Create there isn’t much confusion but I’ve been told you can read the first three in any order but for the rest, it’s best to read them in the correct order.


Monthly Review – January 2013

Posted January 31, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 0 Comments

As the first month of 2013 comes to a close, it has been amazing to see how much excitement people are having towards both The Shadow of the Wind and the Literary Exploration Reading Challenge. For those who don’t know about the reading challenge, there is still time to join in the fun, so check out my introductory post here.

I’ve been off to a flying start this year, I’ve read twenty books, a feat I’m not sure how I managed, but I’ve had so much fun doing so. Nine of those books go towards the Literary Exploration Reading Challenge and you can find my own record of the challenge here. I’m thinking about trying to read two books for each genre this year and I’m keeping a record of every book and which genre it best fits into on that page as well, just to see which genres need more attention in my exploring.

Highlights of the month for me include; the highly talked about Wool by Hugh Howey, the bittersweet Big Ray by Michael Kimball and the existential The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. But the one I really thought deserves high praise is Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, a novel of great beauty, decorum and love lost. I haven’t reviewed these books yet but keep an eye out, they will come. So what have you been reading this month?

Monthly Reading

  • Big Ray by Michael Kimball
  • Black Vodka: Ten Stories by Deborah Levy
  • Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis
  • Gangster Squad: Covert Cops, the Mob, and the Battle for Los Angeles by Paul Lieberman
  • In the Midst of Death by Lawrence Block
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  • Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding
  • Revenge: Stories by Yoko Ogawa
  • The Big Nowhere by James Ellroy
  • The Dark Winter by David Mark
  • The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke
  • The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists by Gideon Defoe
  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The Silver Linings Play Book by Matthew Quick
  • The Sins of the Fathers by Lawrence Block
  • The Toe Tag Quintet by Matthew Condon
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  • Wool by Hugh Howey

Guest Post: Brief Overview of Pulp Fiction – Part 3 (1960’s-1980’s)

Posted December 9, 2012 by Guest Post in Guest Posts, Literature, Pulp / 0 Comments

It’s a terribly clichéd expression to use as a title for this chapter I know but when looking at the evolution of hard-boiled and noir fiction it’s hard not to take in to consideration the fact that socially and politically America was in turmoil like never before.

In part two we acknowledged that the bleak outlook adopted by the second generation of noir authors, such as Jim Thompson, was a reflection of societal fears regarding Communism and nuclear war as they moved away from the prohibition era writing of Hammett and Chandler but as the 60s came around the audience for these books found themselves disconnected from the next generation who had radical ideas for changing the world.

The growth in popularity of television, the baby boomers, the Vietnam war, a President assassinated and that guy Nixon are just some of the major changes in American culture which saw the market for the bleakest noir fiction dwindle in size.

First there was the closure of several paperback original imprints whilst the ones that remained tended to focus on recurring characters rather than taking chances on original pulp work, then there was the splintering of the world of noir as it suddenly became a more diverse place. From the 70s onwards we’ve been treated to books about serial killers, forensics experts, hardened cops working within the departmental structure, and the redemption of the lone wolf. Not to mention females, homosexuals, non-whites and just about everything a writer desperate to stand out from the crowd could think of in between.

As mentioned previously several of the second generation of hard-boiled and noir writers kept writing after the death of the paperback original. Ross MacDonald’s Lew Archer and Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer were perfectly suited to repeat adventures throughout the 60s and 70s (Blue Hammer the 18th Archer in ‘76 and Black Alley the final real Hammer in ’96) and sat alongside the newcomers as wisened old heads ready to guide the next generation.

One of the most important names in the history of the genre is Lawrence Block, he got started writing short stories during the heady days of the paperback originals (some of which are collected in the highly enjoyable Lost Weekends and One Night Stands) and had his first novels published in the early 60s. Amongst his mixed bag of early work the superb and disturbing Mona AKA Grifter’s Game (1961) has the distinction of being the first novel republished by the excellent Hard Case Crime imprint. He is a man that appears to have adapted quite readily to the need for recurring protagonists with no fewer than six different series created by him since the mid 60s. The Sins of the Fathers (1976) marks the debut of perhaps his most popular character, Matt Scudder.

Swedish born American Donald Hamilton is someone that isn’t so readily known in the 21st century but his character Matt Helm was created for Gold Medal Books in Death of a Citizen (1960) and ran for 27 books until The Damagers (1993.) Helm is a no-nonsense kind of guy, working as an undercover counter-terrorist agent he narrates his escapades with a detached, dead pan style include the many fights, torture sequences and sexual conquests.

“Donald Hamilton has brought to the spy novel the authentic hard realism of Dashiell Hammett; and his stories are as compelling, and probably as close to the sordid truth of espionage, as any now being told.”

Donald Westlake was an incredibly prolific author in the genre who used many pseudonyms to divide up his different work. His most famous being Richard Stark, creator of the hard-boiled Parker, a ruthless master thief willing to do whatever it takes to get what he wants. Parker first appeared in The Hunter (1962) and went on to star in a further 23 novels until Dirty Money (2008).

The Deep Blue Good-Bye (1964) marked the debut of hard-boiled detective Travis McGee. His creator John D. MacDonald would write one book per year until The Lonely Silver Rain (1985) brought the sequence to a close after 21 adventures. McGee is known for being a misogynist, a character that has dated quite badly and can easily offend some readers. MacDonald has an easygoing approach to the series, his detective lives on a houseboat and would prefer to lounge around drinking to solving crimes, that belies the intricate plotting he uses and misogyny aside this is a great series of third generation hard-boiled fiction.

Robert B. Parker wrote his Ph.D dissertation on Hammett, Chandler and Ross MacDonald and went on to create his own legendary private eye, Spenser in The Godwulf Manuscript (1973). Parker is known for his modern approach to the classics of the genre and including series characters from minority backgrounds as more than just punchbags for his protagonist. Sixkill (2011) was the 40th Spenser outing and was the last novel he finished before his death, making Spenser The Rolling Stones of hard-boiled fiction.

Joseph Hansen is best known for his ground breaking series of crime novels starring his most iconic creation, Dave Brandstetter, an openly gay insurance investigator who still embodied the tough, no-nonsense personality of the classic hardboiled private investigator type of protagonist. His first outing was Fadeout (1970) and he went on to appear in eleven more novels until A Country of Old Men (1991).

James Crumley is a self-declared heir to the Chandler tradition, he defines his own sensibility as conditioned by the disillusionments of the Vietnam War and his vision of justice less clear-cut. His protagonists are environmentalists and sustained by eccentric alliances with criminals and other misfits. Described as the literary offspring of Chandler and Hunter S. Thompson he was another author who found success outside of America long before the Americans took to him. His book The Last Good Kiss (1978) features the alcoholic ex-army officer turned private detective, C.W. Sughrue, as it’s protagonist and has been labelled as the most important crime novel of the last 50 years, influencing much of what will be described as the fourth generation of hard-boiled and noir writing. The Mexican Tree Duck (1993) is the only one of his novels to be acknowledged with an award.

I’ll now break my own rules and mention briefly the British author Derek Raymond. In 1984 he wrote the first book in The Factory Series, He Died With His Eyes Open, a book that seems to have captured both the hard-boiled spirit of Chandler and the blackest, bleakest noir poetics of David Goodis in one wonderful novel. Whilst he wasn’t American he is the closest I have found to true hard-boiled and noir fiction outside of America and deserves to be read by all fans of the genre.

Part four will bring us right up to date with a quick look at some of the shining lights in contemporary American hard-boiled and noir fiction.

This is a guest post by blahblahblahtobyYou can find him discussing books on Goodreads, discussing movies on Letterboxd, tweeting nonsense as blahblahblahtoby and on his blog blahblahblahgay, feel free to say hi.

There are literally dozens of great authors and great novels that could have been suggested as essential reading for this guide. The writer of the article went through agonising decisions over who to leave out and is more than aware that your favourite author probably hasn’t been mentioned but feel free to start a discussion in the comments.

This post is part of a four post series exploring the history of Hard-Boiled and Noir Fiction, for recommendations check out each post;

The 1930’s – 1940’s

The 1950’s

The 1960’s – 1980’s

The 1990’s – Onward

 


Monthly Review – September 2012

Posted September 30, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 0 Comments

Now that September comes to a close, I would like to hear what people thought of As I Lay Dying. Did you read it? Did you find it difficult? Or any other comments you want to make of this book. Personally I found it difficult to read, and while I wouldn’t say I really enjoyed this book, I did find the writing style very interesting.

Next month’s book is to help celebrate banned booked week (which is currently on now) and we will be reading Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses which has been often described as one of the most controversial and acclaimed novels ever written. I’m sure this book will spark some interesting conversations but I do worry that it may cause fights. I hope everyone reading and  discussing the book, does so in a respectful manner. Also as a reminder that next month we will be reading House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski as part of the Horror theme and we will be looking for a book to fit the Road Trip/Travel theme. If you’re not aware, the book discussion and everything else will be happening over on the Goodreads forums, so feel free to join in there.

During the month I’ve read some great books, but I wasn’t as productive as last month. Some of the highlights from the months reading include, Justin Cronin’s The Twelve which I was lucky enough to get an advanced review copy of, Dare Me by Megan Abbott and He Died with his Eyes Open by Derek Raymond. But my favourite of the month was The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers; which is a heartbreaking work of beauty. A book of friendship and loss, The Yellow Birds follows the story of Private Bartle and his time served in Al Tafar, Iraq and the aftermath. What have you been reading this month and what did you enjoy? I would love to hear about your reading life in the comments below.

  • Soulless by Gail Carriger 
  • The Geneva Trap by Stella Rimington 
  • Live by Night by Dennis Lehane 
  • 11.22.63 by Stephen King 
  • As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner 
  • The Transport Accident by Ned Beauman 
  • One Night Stands and Lost Weekends by Lawrence Block 
  • Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann 
  • The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco 
  • The Twelve by Justin Cronin 
  • He Died with His Eyes Open by Derek Raymond 
  • Dare Me by Megan Abbott 
  • The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers