What I Read in May 2013

I actually had a solid reading month in May, finishing 5 books. That is a lot for what I managed for most of this year. It’s just been a slow couple of months. I still think I am going to make my yearly total of fifty, but we’ll see.

Moonraker

Ian Fleming

The most notable thing about Moonraker is just how different it is from the eventual movie version. It shares a few names like the title and Hugo Drax, the villain, but otherwise they are very different. The movie was the Bond franchise’s response the Star Wars, in the book he doesn’t even leave England. The first third of the book is just Bond playing cards at M’s club, trying to catch Drax cheating. He then investigates a murder, and possible espionage, at Drax’s plant where he is building a new type of missile, the Moonraker. Spoiling nothing, there is more going on there than it initially seems. There is also a lady for Bond to romance.

It continues the trend of Bond not actually accomplishing much. He survives, and the villain is defeated, but he is mostly a side player in the defeat. It didn’t really leave much of an impression on me, so I might have conflated this book with Live and Let Die. I don’t think this series is for me.

Colonel Roosevelt

Edmund Morris

Reading Morris’ Colonel Roosevelt is both inspiring and exhausting. Theodore Roosevelt did not just quietly recede after his presidency, his life after is at least as interesting as during. He had hunting and exploring trips to Africa and South America. But despite his energy, Morris’ writing makes it clear that he is a storm that has almost run it course. You can almost feel his body betray him

The biggest event this book covers is his unsuccessful bid for another presidential term. Morris shows him to be a great man, but not a perfect one. His running for that bid is both due to policy differences and personal differences. Taft didn’t really follow his lead, but TR was a man that had difficulty relinquishing power. He had good reason to feel betrayed, but it seemed like he took some things too personally.

Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon

Spider Robinson

Callahan’s is kind of weird and kind of schmaltzy, but it is also heartfelt and uplifting. It is a collection of stories about a science fiction bar where patrons come to air their sci fi problems. That aren’t any easy answers, just a few compassionate ears. It really succeeds in making reader feel camaraderie, like most problems aren’t as bad as they first seem. These stories just create a really great place to read a story about and hangout, with little riding on it except a neat idea or two.

A Lesson in Secrets

Jacqueline Winspear

With this Maisie Dobbs book, the series finally stops looking back on the aftermath of the first World War and starts foreshadowing the coming of the second. Not that the Great War isn’t still a factor, it always will be with Maisie’s history, but it is further in the part. Here she is recruited to look into communist sympathies on a college campus, which turns into a murder investigation when the Dean is killed. There are some Nazi sympathizers among the suspects, but the Nazi’s are seen as a secondary concern at this point. Maisie also moves forward with her relationship and helps out her former flatmate Sandra after the death of her husband. I thought this was one of the series better mysteries. The investigation actually mattered, it didn’t just take up time until her New Agey stuff solved the case. I don’t think I have much more to say about this series. It’s been more like than love the whole way and I liked this entry.

The Fourth Bear

Jasper Fforde

I was a little disappointed in The Big Over Easy. I liked it, but not as much as the Thursday Next books. The second Nursery Crime, though, is much improved. I liked the plot a lot more, and we get to see characters other than Jack developed. There are two intertwining investigations going on here. The first is the escape of the notorious serial killer the Ginger Bread man. The other is the disappearance of reporter Goldilocks. There is also some dealing with porridge smuggling and addressing the very nature of the fictional characters that make up the cast. Best of all, Mary Mary, Jack’s partner, gets a lot more developed. It has the same playing with the nature of detective stories and Nursery Rhymes that the first one did, but the plot is tighter. Plus, it is just charming as all hell. That is a common thread to all of Fforde’s work. They are so much damn fun to read. I look forward to the next one in this series, and not just because I am running desperately low on new Fforde to read.

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