(note: I've added the 2011 listings and the index - i'll revise it as I start posting 2012 reviews and interviews in the next few weeks. The 2012 film challenge will go up in the next few hours)
My first book interview of the year is here
Books #1-3 (I read three of her books for the interview)
My Interview With Jeri Westerson, Author of Troubled Bones and the Crispin Guest Series
Book #4 - Ready Player One - Reading this book was the most literary fun I've had in years as it is chock full of 80s trivia and cultural artifacts (games, music, tv programs) all as part of a brilliant premise that's like a combination of a video game and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. A billionaire game designer has died and left millions to the person who can solve incredibly hard puzzles he has left behind. To win the game one must know the man and all of his loves (the 80s) and be more clever than all the others also trying to solve the puzzles. A good piece on the book is here.
#5 - Swamplandia - Finished this book today and loved it.
i'd heard great things about it but it was the fact it made the new york times ten best books of the year list and curiousity - a novel about a family of alligator wrestlers? And a funny one at that? - that made me decide to give it a try... and I'm glad I did.
#6 -Sandman Slim (Sandman Slim #1)
Finished this yesterday. Not really my style but still enjoyable. Not for the
faint of heart or those easily disturbed. Definitely would be rated R if it were a movie.
Crazy but fun but weird book = our book for febuary for the 7 percent mystery book discussion group at bookpeople
details on the book here:http://richardkadrey.com/sandman.html
#7 - Pawnee: The Greatest Town In America
by Leslie Knope Read this yesterday at the bookstore - it was a quick read. Basically if you like the show you'll like this book, if you're not into the show this book probably won't interest you as mu
# 8 - XkCD - volume 0 - read this today and loved it
its a print edition of a free web comic and even the author says you're kind of foolish to buy it since it's free online... so i read it while at borders waiting for a book discussion about tigers wife
you can see the comic strip here
#9 and 10 - Jo Nesbro - Headhunter and the Leopard - Damn good book. As with Headhunter and the Snowman it's dark in places but the character who is the protagonist in both the Leopard and Snowman is a fascinating one (Headhunter being a standalone book) and it's easy to see why this Norwegian author is getting the sales and the praise that he is.
If you liked Stieg Larssen's books you'll definitely like this one. It has more depth than the typical mystery/thriller and it's also more clever.
12 - Conversation with Brooke Gladstone about her book about the media
13 - Fresh Air: Just for Laughs: started listening to this and am loving it. Terry Gross is one of my favorite interviewers and to hear her interviewing Mike Judge, the South Park guys and even people I'm not normally fans of like Sarah Silverman and Will Farrell - my mood improved just hearing it and I had several needed laugh out loud moments.
16 - Jim Lehrer - tension city: Listened to much of this book while driving to and from San Antonio to visit a friend. The book provides much needed historical perspective as I and others pay attentionto the Republican debates and look forward to the presidential debates between Obama and, most likely, Mitten, er, Mitt.
OK, who is up for participating in this this year? If you are in indicate with a comment below
The 2010 reading challenge was here and the 2010 movie challenge was here. I'll start the 2011 movie challenge in a few days - meanwhile the last of my 2010 movie reviews are here, packaged together all tidy with a theme to boot.
The inspiration for this annual challenge came from livejournal where I temporarily blogged. They had challenges like these and I participated but gradually I reached the point where I was only posting there to participate in the challenge so I rarely post there anymore.
In 2007 I asked if there was interest in a challenge to Newsviners to read at least 50 books and/or watch 50 movies. I went ahead and set up topics to do exactly that.
That year there was a lot of initial interest but few actually participated.
In 2008 too there was some initial interest and more people writing book and movie reviews but few kept track. I even lowered the reading level from a minimum goal of 50 to 25 too.
The 2009 movie movie challenge was here and the reading challenge was here.
So if you like this idea and want to participate please indicate with a comment below.
Personally this will be the fourth year that I’m shooting to read between 50 and 100 books.
There are at least three ways you can do this? I make a point - learned the hard way while student teaching - of modelling (no, not like Vanna White but like a teacher) so...
You can link below to your reviews... or post mini-reviews below... or you can do what I do which is a list - updated regularly - of all of the movies I've seen so far this year.
The idea here is not “who can read the most?” or “who can see the most movies?” so much as motivating more of us to share what we are reading and watching. I LOVE reading reviews by other people and comparing their opinions of a work to my own. Or, better yet, reading about something and deciding to check it out.
Book #1 Howard Gordon, Gideon's War- interview here
Book # 2 - How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming
This is a fascinating book. As I wrote about Pluto here I have my own opinions and thoughts on this but this book answers the question, "what exactly happened to Pluto?" The author is the guy who found a planet, temporarily dubbed Xena, which caused them to rethink what makes a planet a planet.
As with another fascinating scientist and writer, the late great Richard Feynman who I wrote about here, Mike Brown manages to reveal and explain while also entertain.
The book blurbs are also hilarious from Sandra Tsing Loh: "Mike Brown is the funniest, smartest, and most surprisingly poetic Caltech astronomer who ever made my daughters cry. Certainly their happy nine-planet childhoods were worth sacrificing for this truly fascinating and engaging read." Neil DeGrasse Tyson says, "Now I have someone to whom I can forward the hate mail I get from school-children."
The book received some criticism in the New York Times; review because the author also writes about having his first daughter and what that experience is like but, for me at least, that worked.
"Throughout the hour, the host collected suggestions for a new mnemonic for remembering the order of the planets. Some gave a slight modification of the previous standard - My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas - by turning "Nine Pizzas" into "Nachos" or into "Nothing," which was a bit funnier. But the best mnemonic, and the one that I still tell people to use to this day, sent in by an anomymous listener, sums up the feelings that would envelope much of the world over the next days, weeks and months:
Mean, Very Evil Men Just Shortened Up Nature."
Book #3- Identity Man by Andrew Klavan- Identity Man - I wanted to like this book, really I did. I saw it praised in Entertainment Weekly and I asked for a copy and an interview with the author. Then two things happened - the author refused (a rare thing lately as i've been pretty lucky in getting interviews with authors that interest me.) Second, you know how they say not to judge a book by its cover? Well, what about judging a cover by its blurbs. The top blurb is by Glenn Beck, who I despise. And reading a bit about the author I learned he seems to have some conservative views. But I put those
thoughts aside - or tried to - and tried to get into this book but it just seemed
to plod along... the characters didn't really interest me and neither did the plot.
Normally I have a Butki 100 page rule, namely if the book hits page 100 and
I don't care what happens with the characters or the plot by then I then move
on to the next book. But I carve out an exception when it's a book I've promised
to review. So here it is. The author HAS written some good books. I really liked
his earlier book, True Crime, which was also made into a good movie by Clint Eastwood. but this one
is, to me, underwhelming. Others will disagree as this whole reviewing thing is,
of course, subjective and, yeah, I know I should not let the politics get in the way
of reading but oh well.
Book #4-Robert Parker,the Professional- This is far from Parker at his best - and it's a bit weird to read books written before his death but published since it (especially knowing there's at least one to come. But he's still fun to read more for his characters than for the plot. I'm lucky enough to have interviewed him here and wrote, in a prior review linked to from that interview, how I felt I was similar to Spenser
Book #5 - The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy (Hardcover) - This book was enjoyable. It tells - with lots of details and quotes from the insiders and the players (direct quotes even from Conan and Jay) about what it was like when Jay went to 10 p.m. then they decided to try to move him to 11:30 and move Conan back and Conan said no... if you think you know all the details from reading newspaper or magazine accounts - well, you don't. This book is engaging and tells the full story.
Book #6 -The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents Earth (The Audiobook): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race
- Review to come - A prior piece here is an appreciation on the daily show and this a review of the colbert report book and a review of the teachers edition of the last book
Book #7 - Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea (Hardcover) - i'm reading this for a book discussion group
Book #8 -Douglas Rushkoff, Program Or Be Programmed - interview is here
Book #9 - An interview with Jo Scott, who I went to high school with and who has written a book about her teaching experiences there.
Book #10 - Craig McDonald - Toros and Torsos - I wasn't sure if I'd like this book and, frankly, I'm still deciding. It mixes noir with historical figures like Hemingway, with an examination of surreal art and it works at more than one level which is part of what makes it interesting and compelling. I'd probably have given this book a B - until I participated in a discussion (via phone) with this author at a monthly book discussion group and came away much more impressed with the author and the book. For example, the book's characters appear a bit misogynistic and it's hard to tell as a reader if the author is making a statement about the noir and surrealism stereotype/tradition of misogyny vs being sexist himself but after hearing him explain it (put simply, yes he was making a statement) I came away more interested. That said I'm not really into crime fighting alongside Hemingway and Dos Passos as he does so I may take a pass on reading his other books.
#11 - Jimmy Carter - White House Diaries - Finished this book this morning - well, afternoon. It's quite a fascinating look at the Carter presidency from the man himself. Even if you know how it's going to end - i kept thinking "watch out for the Iranians! Watch out for Reagan!" it's still fun of surprise and insight... and quite engrossing
I wrote here about how I could have gotten hurt when getting the book autographed by Carter.
Providing a lighter yet more cynical look at world affairs was - a book I was reading at the same time -
#12 - Earth by the Daily Show - While not as funny as America, the book, http://sbutki.newsvine.com/_news/2007/04/09/655286-book-review-america-the-book-teachers-edition-is-underwhelming, this is pretty hilarious at times. It's like a textbook for aliens in case they come take over our world - so it has everything from explaining sex and politics and religion and such. Definitely worth checking out.
Book #13 -
Book #16 - An Interview With James Thompson about his two books
Book #17 - An Interview With Lisa Lutz and David Hayward - Heads You Lose
Book #18 - interview: Donovan Hohn, Author of Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them
Book #19 - interview: The Internet is a Playground: Irreverent Correspondences of an Evil Online Genius
#23 and 24 - The Big Book of Zonker and 40 Years of Doonsbury
I'm a long time doonesbury fan and read all of his books up until about a few years ago - i'm catching up with the last few years' worth via the library and local bookstores. I did an interview here with an author who wrote a book about Doonesbury style of satire
#26 and 27 - Heat Wave and Naked Heat - Read this for two reasons - ok, three if you include the curiousity factor. Reason 1 is I really enjoy the show and was curious how the books were. The second is it's the book my mystery book discussion group at Bookpeople is discussing for May.
As with the show the book is light, fun and amusing. If you're looking for depth or brilliance this will be a disappointment - if you're looking for something enjoyable that doesn't require much thought this book will delight you.
and last for now #28 - Hunger Games - I enjoyed this book - and have book two (both via audio from the library) ready to be consumed in a week or two.
I see now why some have been praising this series
and I think the casting for the movie (the girl who played the sister on Winter's Bone, a brilliant book and movie) is perfect to play this book's heroine
#28 - Sophie Littlefield - a Bad Day for Sorry - http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Day-Sorry-Crime-Novel/dp/0312643233/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1
Here's how i summed up it over at good reads:
Finished this book today just in time for the discussion of it at Bookpeople in Austin - an hour-long phone conversation with the author. It has a kick-ass premise - the protagonist, Stella, killed her abusive husband and now helps women in her region of Missouri - they tell her when their male companion
is being physically abusive and she goes and threatens them with harm if they continue their errant ways. In this first of the series she's helping a woman track down her infant son. But it's all done with a sense of humor and it helps that the men don't seem worried at first that Stella can really hurt them since she could be their mother but then she demonstrates she really can.
#31 and 32 - Catching Fire and Mockingjay Finishing up this week the Hunger Games trilogy. Very compelling - fascinating. Definitely worth checking out.
# 34 -
My Interview With Author Jan Burke About Her Latest Irene Kelly Mystery, Disturbance
#35 - An interview with Ron Liebman about his book Jersey Law-
#36 - No Rest for the Dead (interview) - http://sbutki.newsvine.com/_news/2011/07/09/7048932-an-interview-with-andrew-gulli-editor-of-no-rest-for-the-dead
#37, 38 and 39 - Hunger Game, Catching Fire and Mockingjay
Finished the last of the Hunger Games books on the way home from work (listened to all three on audio). Very good stuff. A demonstration
that just because something gets lumped into the YA category doesn't mean it can't be more rich in details and thought and
commentary on life and governments than many "adult" or contemporary literature.
# 40 The Eyre Affair - I read this for the mystery book discussion group I participate in at BookPeople here in Austin.
I've read one or two of this author's books - he's pretty clever. Those were part of the Nursery Crime division - one involved why Humpty Dumpty REALLY fell off the way.
This is pretty good mind candy and I mean that in a positive way, as in coming up with concepts in which people can enter into other stories and so kidnap characters from famous novels.
It adds a whole another level to classics when you have police reporters investigating criminals who are messing with classic books.
#41 - Lars Keplar, The Hypnotist (interview)
#42 - Jeff Abbott, Adrenaline (interview)=
Coming up in the next month - interviews with Jeffrey Deaver about his James Bond novel, with Will Lavender about his novel, Dominance and one with Roger Ebert about his memoir.
#43 - Will Lavender - interview - thriller with lots of puzzles
An Interview With Jeffrey Deaver, Author of Carte Blanche (the new James Bond book)
#46 Michael Connelly,Fifth Witness -
I've been reading Michael Connelly's latest, The Fifth Witness, with some dread.
I really got into Connelly for two reasons - he wrote great police mysteries and I think one reason for that was he came from a police reporter background. I think that background informed and improved his writing about the John Grishams and Scott Turows of the world.
But with his Lincoln Lawyer series he seems to become more derivative, less interesting (at least to me). Maybe i'm biased because I want him to return to the character I prefer. I mean this is a guy who, as I told him in an interview, I and 100 other reporters swarmed a seminar at a journalism conference hoping he'd give us "the secret" on how to make the jump from journalist to crime
novelist (his answer was work 8 hours as a reporter, write for 8 hours as a novelist and if you get a chance get some sleep... not the answer we were hoping for.)
The Lincoln Lawyer was turned into a movie and did well enough that I fear he's going to continue with this series, which is a loss because he could do a lot better than what he's put out with this new one and his last Lincoln Lawyer book.
The last 75 pages ARE pretty good and improve the book's grade from a
c- to a b-.
50 - An Interview with the Co-Authors of ZooBorn Cats
52 -My Interview With Film Critic Roger Ebert About His New Book, Life Itself: A Memoir
INDEX OF INTERVIEWS AND REVIEWS
So I'm a bit of a prolific writer (yes that's a joke) so I decided a year or so ago that it might be a good idea to index some of my articles but then I was torn between it appearing too pompous and egotistical and then having no time to do it. I ended up deciding to do it at first with just an index of my writing advice pieces and seeing what the reaction was to that. It was here and people seemed to like it.
So I have spent some rare free time in recent months doing another index, this one: a collection of all of my reviews.I am also working on compiling indexes of my fiction and satire pieces and of my memoir pieces.
Oh and I also collected here (and just updated) most of my music rants via seeds and articles- http://sbutki.newsvine.com/_news/2007/07/30/867343-my-music-writing-and-seeds-and-interviews
Author interviews - Fiction and non-fiction mixed together
Baldacci, David - The Collectors - http://sbutki.newsvine.com/_news/2007/03/01/592147-interview-with-david-baldacci-author-of-the-collectors
Bauer, Belinda - Blacklands - http://sbutki.newsvine.com/_m1/04/3713036-my-interview-with-author-belinda-bauer-about-her-fantastic-novel-blacklands
Beaton, M.C. - Death of a Maid http://sbutki.newsvine.com/_news/2007/05/01/675418-interview-with-author-mc-beaton
Carr, David -http://sbutki.newsvine.com/_news/2008/08/20/1765724-scotts-interview-with-david-carr-author-of-the-night-of-the-gun-a-memoir-about-drugs-and-journalism
Carr, David -http://sbutki.newsvine.com/_news/2008/08/20/1765724-scotts-interview-with-david-carr-author-of-the-night-of-the-gun-a-memoir-about-drugs-and-journalism