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Some Of My Favorite Books…

Some Of My Favorite Books…

Some Of My Favorite Books…

I just saw a tweet by Alexis Radcliff a fantasy author who had this to say.

I thought it about and as someone who has written a book but can’t afford to have the book edited I think it’s a great idea. I can only imagine how amazing it would feel to have someone I don’t know praise my work in a review.  I have written a few words of praise on some authors Facebook and Twitter feeds but I don’t do it nearly enough.  So I thought today I would take some time recommend some books that I loved.  Not just liked but loved!  Books that are so good the words and characters in them have stuck with me over the years.

There is no order to this “list.”  These are just few works that pop into my head when I think about my favorite books.  And, no matter how accurate and detailed of a list I make I know that I will later remember other works that I liked just as much that I just didn’t have time to add to this list.  This isn’t a list of every single book I loved.  Besides, if I did that, I could never come up with “Some Of My Favorite Books… Volume II”

On a side note, even though I love a book there may be things I didn’t like about it and yet I consider it a favorite so I might rant a little about it.  I’m already looking at you Uncle Stevie…

So how about I quit rambling and get on with the list already?!

Memnoch The Devil By Anne RiceAnne Rice’s Memnoch the Devil. It’s an interesting story how I discovered this book.  I was walking through the mall and was passing a bookstore.  I noticed out of my peripheral vision the phrase, “The Vampire Chronicles”.  I stopped in my tracks and backed up a couple of steps to double check what I had just read.

You see I had just recently seen Interview with a Vampire with Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise.  I loved that movie.  I watched that movie and was drawn into it like it was a documentary.  I knew it was a based on a book, I had no clue the book was the first in a series.  I had to investigate.

I went into the bookstore and picked up the book, read the back of it and learned it was part of a series.  I bought the book on the spot and started reading it.  I will have to admit that I wasn’t impressed at first.  I had stopped reading it after about 50 pages or so. Went on to other books and then for some reason, one day I decided to give the book another chance and picked up where I had left off.  I couldn’t put it down.  Page after page I was enthralled.  It was written so well that you really believe Lestat de Lioncourt is really talking to you.  Back at the time I wasn’t so much of an atheist.  I just didn’t think about a god or god’s much.  However, as I read the book, it told an amazing tale of a Christian god and devil.

It was the first time I read anything dealing with religion that actually made sense.  I didn’t sell my possessions and go barefoot or anything.  Didn’t join a church either and I didn’t suddenly start to believe in any god’s. I will say that the world the book had created made the concept of a god and a devil make sense.  The book was absolutely fascinating!  Because of that book I went went back and started reading the series from the beginning.  That was almost 20 years ago to the day and Memnoch the Devil still stands as one of the most interesting works of fiction I’ve ever read.

The Stand By Stephen KingStephen King’s The Stand.  Uncle Stevie will be on the list a few times I’m sure.  This book was read at a time in my life when I literally had no possessions of my own.  Even the book was borrowed.  I ended up reading it twice.  The book took me on a journey.  The characters were so rich and fully developed.  I love the way Mr. King tells a story.  I’ve never read a book of his that I didn’t like.  Well, that’s not true. To be completely honest, and I know this is going to offend a lot of people, but, I didn’t care for the Gunslinger. I just couldn’t get into it. I was listening to it on an audio CD while making the long drive home from Vegas and the book was putting me to sleep.  I had to put on something else to listen to.  However, should I ever get the chance for another road trip I plan to give it another try.

Getting back to The Stand, I even enjoyed the TV movie with Rob Lowe though the book was infinitely better.  I remember as I read it feeling like I was part of the group of survivors.  Every time I had to put the book down for one reason or another I couldn’t wait to get back to it.  It’s a long book and certainly not for everyone but it stands out as one of the best post apocalyptic books every written.

The Monkey's Raincoat by Robert CraisThe Monkey’s Raincoat by Robert Crais.  I think it was on page two when I actually had to back up and re-read the last sentence because I was positive that I had read it wrong.  I hadn’t and I actually laughed out loud.  I won’t say what the main character Elvis Cole said as I don’t want to ruin it.  All I will say is that it has to do with chocolate.  The book is simply a must a read.  It’s funny, it’s smart with a dry sense of humor that many, I am sure, won’t get.  But, for the those of us that do, every Elvis Cole mystery is pure joy.  It has heart pounding action, emotional moments you can feel with wit and sarcasm that is always perfectly timed.

Most of the books I “read” I don’t actually read.  I listened to a lot of them on audio as I used to drive cross country for work once or twice a year.  That being said, The Monkey’s Raincoat is a book that I actually read.  In fact so far all of the books I have listed thus far I have read.  Not all of them on this list will be books I’ve “read”. But, I’ve read and listened to enough of them to know that a good book, is a good book no matter the format.

World War Z Max BrooksWorld War Z by Max Brooks.  This is one of those books I listened to.  I was on my way from the High Desert in Southern California to Hollywood, FL.  I started this audio book about an hour into my trip.  I had stopped at a McDonald’s to get some food to go, got back on the freeway and started the book.  It was absolutely fascinating.  The audio book was read by a great many well known celebrities.  Award winning celebrities.

It was about 3pm when I started the book.  I remember being on the 10 FWY between the middle of nowhere Arizona and the middle of nowhere New Mexico when it came to a point in the story when a soldier is stranded on a FWY forced to walk.  It was like I was there, in some ways I was.  The way that the character described the zombies stuck in cars that couldn’t get out was eerie and yet tragically sad at the same time.  I can’t express how into it I got.  I mean it had me looking over my shoulder as I drove.  Expecting at any minute to see the walking dead meandering on to the FWY as I traveled along with our hero in mind as she made her way along that freeway.

The audio for the book is about 6 hours or so and is plays out over 6 CD’s.  I was so into the book that I couldn’t believe when I ejected CD number 5 that not only was I about to play the last CD already but that I had been driving for more than 6 hours already.  I had stopped for gas once already it didn’t even phase me.  The book was just that good.

Side note, whatever idiot decided to make the movie World War Z and have it not have anything to do with the book is a complete idiot!  Look it was a descent movie but it should have been called something else.  The only thing the movie had in common with the book were the zombies.

Zombie Fallout By Mark TufoZombie Fallout by Mark Tufo. Another book I listened to on audio.  It stands as one of the best, if not “The” Best zombie books every written.  There is an amazing sense of comic reality to this book.  The book has heart, suspense and the writing is so wonderfully crafted in wit and irony that the pleasure of reading it just oozes over as if you’re carefully being dipped in a vat of warm butterscotch.

The Zombie Fallout books are narrated by the amazing Sean Runnette.  He brings the words to life unlike any other book I’ve listened to before.  I could go on and on about how much I love the Zombie fallout series.  Sadly I am stuck at book six.  I have it on audio and haven’t been able to afford a serious road trip in years.  I have no idea when I will be able to get back to the series.  I miss it dearly.  I wonder what my friends up to and how they are doing.  I am a few books behind now in the series.

The Cell By Stephen KingThe Cell by Stephen King. I loved this book as well. Another book I listened to on one of those cross country drives.  It’s been years since I listened to it.  Sometimes when I see cute teen girls, doing cute teen things, I think of “pixie light and pixie dark” from the book.  The Cell is another post-apocalyptic story that just grabbed me from the start.

My only disappointment with it has nothing to do with the writing per say. It has to do with something Mr. King does a lot in his books that I hate.  He always takes at least one character that you love and then kills them towards the end.  I had always thought he did that needlessly for dramatic effect.  However, at the end of one of his audio books, maybe it was at the end Bag of Bones?  He discusses this issue in an interview on the audio book.  He says the best way to solve a moral conflict or dilemma in writing is to kill the character.  For example, in The Cell (SPOILER ALERT). the main character who is 30 year old guy, now widowed is obviously starting to fall in love with the another main character.  The problem, she is just 15 years old.

I had no problem with it.  It was the end of the world as we know it.  The rules have changed.  She was a strong and mature character.  But, it’s what our Uncle Stevie likes to call a moral dilemma and because of it, one of them must die.  He’s done this in a few of his books and it pisses me off every time.  I think it’s a cop out.  Stories need to be free to go wherever they go.  If we simply end those “moral dilemmas” by killing a character then we aren’t being true to the characters or the story.   Great literary works have always challenged or questioned societal norms and doing so for no other reason than not wanting to offend narrow minded people is simply wrong.

But, hey look at me getting all uppity and I haven’t had a single word published.  Uncle Stevie is one of my absolute favorite authors.  My point is that I think it’s shame he feels the need to sensor his work to appease a group of people that probably would never read his work to begin with.

Once again I have gone off on a tangent here.  The Cell is in my opinion one of Stephen King’s best works.  And, even though he once again solved a moral dilemma by killing a character he did it so well and with such shock and emotion I actually shouted out “Noooo!” as the tragic events unfolded in the book.  Brilliantly written.

Pillars Of The Eath By Ken FolletPillars of the Earth by Ken Follet.  I read this book a few decades ago and loved it.  It’s a long book that takes place over about a century as I recall.  I haven’t seen the mini-series that was made a couple of years ago though I do have the DVD.  I started to watch it but just couldn’t get in to it.  I don’t know why?  I do plan to give it another try someday.

However, the book was great and I can’t even begin to tell you why.  As I sit and think about it, I don’t know what makes me love this book so much other than it’s just a really good story that takes you back in time with the most vivid mental imagery.  I often think of Tom Builder and the pride he took in his work.  The book takes some work to read.  It takes place about a 1000 years ago in England and surrounding areas and there’s a lot of characters in it. But, it has a beautifully written grit to it that just sticks with you.

Dean Kontz's Life ExpectancyDean Kontz’s Life Expectancy. What an interesting a fun book.  It has one of the best endings of a book I have ever read.  I got a little choked up at how wonderful the ending was.  And, though it’s been years since I read it there are times when I am feeling of proud of myself for something and I exclaim, “Konrad Beezo, the greatest clown of all time!”  I don’t recall the actual quote said but that’s how I remember it being repeated by the crazed son of Konrad Beezo.  Just a fun, fun read.

I have read so many of Koontz’s books and have loved many of them.  This one stands out the most to me because the ending was just so perfect.  After all the tragedy our protagonists went through, the last moments made it all worthwhile.

Homebody by Orson Scott CardHomebody by Orson Scott Card.  One of his few books or maybe his only book that wasn’t science fiction.  It’s about a craftsman in the process of flipping a house.  He doesn’t really have a home, he lives in the houses that he restores until they are completed and then moves on to the next.  While working on his most recent house he discovers a young homeless woman has been living there.

It’s truly a magical story. It’s starts off based in reality and then slowly builds into a supernatural murder mystery.  I was almost cheering for the characters at the end of the book.  Another fantastic ending.  Just a great, great book.

Afraid By Jack KillbornAfraid by Jack Killborn. This book is by far the most suspenseful book I have ever read/listened to.  To give you an example of how amazingly suspenseful this book is.  Several years ago I started listening to this book on the 3 and 1/2 hour drive to Laughlin, NV.  Now, by the time I get to Laughlin I am always beside myself with excitement.  It’s all I can do to contain myself long enough to get checked into my room before I get to the blackjack tables.  However, on this trip when I pulled into the Colorado Belle’s parking lot I was right in the middle of another heart pounding moment in the book.  I actually drove around the parking lot for a good 15 or 20 minutes until the scene in the book I was listening to was over.

Afraid, jumps from character to character and each one’s story line get’s more and exciting as the story goes on and it was all I could do to pause the audio before I got sucked into the next characters storyline.  What a fun and intense book that was!

Well, I have come to the end of the list for now.  I just logged into my Audible.com account and was reminded of dozens more that I wish I had the time to mention fully in this post.  So many favorites like Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz.  Extraordinary book! Hater by David Moody was simply fantastic.  Crota by Owl Goingback is another book that caught me by surprise.  I’ve listened to this one twice.  Nightmare House by Douglas Clegg is the first in the Harrow House series.  Loved it!  Brian Keene’s Castaways was great and it had a scene about fish that had me grossed out and laughing out loud at the same time.  So many, I could go on for hours.  Even now as I type this, more and books are flashing through my mind that I want to mention because they are every bit as good as the ones I’ve mentioned.

I can see already there is going to have to be the “Volume II” I joked about earlier.

Robert Crais’s Elvis Cole And Joe Pike Reviews And Works In Order!

Robert Crais’s Elvis Cole And Joe Pike Reviews And Works In Order!

A little something different today. As all 2.5 people that read this blog know, I am more of a horror fan. I guess it’s because in horror stories, anything can happen. Ghosts, zombies, werewolves, Vampires, Witches, Mitt Romney could actually tell the truth. Anything and everything is possible. Detective novels and crime novels and so on, you are limited to rules of reality.

However, this doesn’t mean I don’t read Crime Novels, Detective stories and so on. There are a few authors that I just can’t resist. David Rosenfelt and his Lawyer character Andy Carpenter. Then there’s Michael Connelly’s, Harry Bosch LAPD Detective. But today it’s about Robert Crais’s Elvis Cole and Joe Pike.

I first read The Monkey’s Raincoat 13 or 14 years ago? Maybe a little longer ago? It started as a stereo typical detective novel should start. A detective alone, in his office when a beautiful woman walks in. Well in this novel, it was two beautiful women that walk in. One of them won’t stop talking, the quiet one appears uncomfortable and can’t get a word in with her friend doing all the talking. I don’t recall if the two ladies were sisters or just friends.

I remember getting annoyed at the talkative one. Every time Elvis tried to ask the quiet one a question, the talkative one would interrupt again.   At just two pages in to the book, Elvis says to the talkative almost rude women, “Look, as much as I’d love to lick chocolate off your naked body, I’d really need you to shut up now.”

Did he just say what I think he said? Stop, go back, reread the last sentence, OMG, he just said that! I literally laughed out loud. I knew at this moment, I was going to love the book.

Elvis Cole is a Los Angeles Private Detective. He’s quick witted, always in a Hawaiian shirt, does yoga on his back patio in the Hollywood Hills and has cat or rather the cat has him. His best friend and co-owner of the Elvis Cole Detective Agency is Joe Pike. Elvis is pretty bad ass, though he downplays it. Joe Pike, is bad ass. I personally don’t a female that has read any of these novels that doesn’t have a crush on Joe Pike. He’s got a bad boy image but he’s really, a good person. Doesn’t talk much though.

I would love to review each book interdependently.  However, first 6 or 7 of his books I read close to 15 years ago.  The last 7 or 8 I listened to on audio over the past several months.  Most of them just blur together and that’s a good thing.  These are characters you can count on.  The situations they investigate are never easy as they seem and sometimes end up becoming too personal for the characters. I loved every single book except his last one, “Taken”.

This one I will give a quick review on since it’s the last one listened to and it’s still fresh in my mind.  Now, just because I didn’t love it, didn’t mean it wasn’t good.  It was good.  But, it written in a different style.  It would jump from time to time.  Present day, a week or so in the past.  Back and fourth and at first it got a little confusing.

Elvis Cole is hired by a Latino mother to find her daughter.  The daughter at first a complete moron and through her obvious stupidity gets her and her boyfriend taken and held for ransom.  Suddenly, the moment she is captured she’s an expert at being held for ransom and is no longer a complete idiot.  I mean she’s a literal idiot one minute and the next she’s smarter than the bad guys.  I don’t know what the hell happened in that minute that she went from total idiot to likable heroine.

Elvis and Joe team up with the help of some of Joe’s ex military friends to find the girl.  Elvis is double crossed by someone and is taken by the bad guys.  Right beneath Joe and his military buddies noses.  Totally believable.  No problems here.

What I did have a small problem was Joe’s reactions. Joe doesn’t react externally to much.  As Elvis often says after making a joke in front of Joe, if he can see Joe’s lip just twitch a little.  Most people would never even notice.  But, if Elvis can see it, he knows, Joe, is cracking up on the inside. Joe would do anything for Elvis.  Their friendship is beyond words.  In an early book Elvis had been shot.  Joe ran over to him.  Taken off his shirt to help stop the bleeding.  It was bad.  Though Joe’s demeanor was calm, a female detective with them at the time had noticed Joe’s hands were shaking.

Joe can take pain.  Nothing gets to Joe.  But, holding that shirt to his friends chest trying to keep him from bleeding out, Joe was a wreck.  If you didn’t know him he would have appeared calm and cool and in charge.  But, knowing him as the reader does.  It was heart breaking to see him like this.  It was a really emotional scene.

Now, in Taken Elvis is taken from beneath Joe’s nose and he’s obviously upset.  But, I just didn’t get that sense of quiet rage that Joe should have had for losing his friend.  Joe pissed off, something you never want to be on the receiving end of and I just didn’t get that feeling in Taken from.  It kept the book from being an A+.  My grade, B-.

If you don’t love Robert Crais’s Elvis Cole series of books, there’s really something wrong with you. These books have heavy action, tense drama and great stories. But, it’s Elvis’s wit that makes these novels stand out. Joe’s stoic man of few words bad assness.  (Yes I know I just made up the word bad assness.)  These books aren’t comedies, its serious situations, people get hurt, shot, stabbed, killed and raped. But, it’s his humor and outlook that keeps these novels from being like every other detective novel out there. Elvis becomes a real person to you, as well as Joe Pike. The more you get to know Joe, the more you want to know the big quiet man. Even Elvis’s cat is a real character you will grow to love. Just don’t get too close, he bites.

Order a Robert Crais Novel Today


Order a Robert Crais Novel Today