52Books: The Pack: Winter Kill by Mike Oliveri

It’s very rare that I read a book in one day. As much as I like to read, I just can’t block out that much time in a day to read. 50 pages is a good day for me. There are always exceptions.

My Amazon order arrived at my office just before lunch. It contained Mike Oliveri’s The Pack: Winter Kill and I stuck it in my pocket on the way out the door. Eating alone that day, I sidled down at my favorite cafe, Capital Roasters, with a hot Cuban, unsweet Ice Tea and the book.

Munching away at the delectable pulled pork and ham sandwich, I bit into the first chapter of The Pack: Winter Kill. By the time I had finished my sandwich and started in on chips, I had devoured 40 pages. I finished it up that evening in 15 and 30 minute bites. Consumed and Satisfied.

The Pack: Winter Kill is a page turner with fast action, succinct dialogue and short chapters. Mike Oliveri races you through the book and you clamber to turn the pages fast enough.

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Spenser He Wrote: RIP Robert B. Parker

It was a bit of a shock this morning when I learned (via Sarah Weinman’s blog) that Robert B. Parker, writer of the popular Spenser and Jesse Stone series, had died.

As a reader I discovered Parker in the mid-eighties while in high school in large part to to the television series “Spenser for Hire” starring the late Robert Urich. I blame that series for the love of Spenser and Robert Urich, more so the latter. I enjoyed and read these books into my college years. Somewhere along the way I stopped, no real reason that I can think of. I guess we just grew apart.

Then television brought us together again. This time with Jesse Stone as played by Tom Selleck, who I also enjoy. I’m giving away too many man crushes for this post, but then again Parker wrote tough, albeit imperfect, heroes that you couldn’t help but admire or in some fantasy emulate.

So sitting on my reading stack are several Jesse Stone novels I bought last year, that I had given to my grandfather, 94 years young, to read. He enjoyed them and sadly there will only be one more book hand off to him later this year.

I read that Mr. Parker died at his desk which, as a writer, I find a wonderful ending.

52Books: Caught Stealing by Charlie Huston

How I stumbled onto the name or the works of Charlie Huston, I can’t really say. It was a bit of happenstance. Possibly browsing the web, scouring through domain names (for a while finding and buying URLs was a habit) or possibly just following links from one author to another.

At any rate over the holidays I picked up three Charlie Huston books: Caught Stealing, Already Dead and The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death. I chose to read Caught Stealing first based on follow up recommendations.

I was warned and I pass this on to you, that Charlie Huston writes writes in a unique first person style. It might take some getting used to, but it also really works.

Caught Stealing is the first of three novels in the Hank Thompson series.

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52Books: Mystic River by Dennis Lehane

I had toyed with reading Mystic River before, since watching the adaptation by Clint Eastwood staring Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins. It was a wonderful movie, well acted, the characters full and vivid on the screen. A compelling story and I’ve enjoyed it many times over. And that’s the crux of why until now, I haven’t read Mystic River. I’d already seen and enjoyed the movie. I wasn’t even sure what kind of writer Lehane was.

Then I read Shutter Island and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I may never write a “review” about Shutter Island, but it left an indelible mark. I had to try more. I’m glad I did.

Set in East Buckingham along the shore of the Mystic River, Lehane tells the story of three unlikely childhood friends: Jimmy, Sean and Dave who are torn apart as children and then again reunited as adults by tragedy.

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2010 and 52 books

Wow, 2010 already. Really?

2009 just seemed to whip by, and sure enough if I blink 2010 will too. I don’t want 2010 to be 2009. It wasn’t a horrible year if you look past the whole recession thing. OK, maybe that’s just too massive to side step and look beyond. Casa de Phillips wasn’t rocking on streets of gold, but thankfully we managed to stay solvent.

But in 2009 I had plans to finish my novel TERMINAL, but it unfortunately kind of stalled. Jake Norman just stopped talking to me. I’m hoping we get to talking again in 2010 so I can finish that story. It’s a good one.

This year I’ve “met” many interesting and supportive people, most, who are writers as well or at creative types. Looking through their eyes, I’ve come to re-evaluate what it is I want to do accomplish and how I’m going to go about accomplishing it. The key is to just do it. Whether it’s writing, drawing, or even fixing up things around the house. Thinking about it isn’t going to get it done.

A friend of mine’s motto for 2010 is “FORWARD.” Mine is “DO IT!”

Sure I stole that from Nike. But it’s an honest motto or slogan.

I’ve got a lot of goals for 2010, not resolutions, but goals. I’m not going to outline them all for you, but I am going to let you in on one.

52 Books

In 2009 I developed somewhat of a habit, an addiction if you will to books. I’ve always enjoyed reading ever since my mother shackled me at age 9 and forced me to read the entire OZ series by L. Frank Baum. I did so with great reluctance and in the end found myself a reader and more creative in general.

I think that might have been when I first had an inkling that I wanted to be a writer. It’s been a long road these 31 years.

That aside, my point is in 2009 I became addicted to buying books. Something I’m sure reflected the fact I was hanging around with a lot more writers. Unfortunately, all these books did not get read. Many got started, but not finished. Some that were set aside for no other reason than I had bought another book. A couple to be honest because they weren’t really that good.

So here it is 2010 and I have at least a couple dozen books from 2009 that still need to be read, from King’s UNDER THE DOME to my friend Seth Harwood’s JACK WAKES UP. Horror, Thrillers, Crime fiction and more. Oh the adventures I missed.

And there are a several books in 2010 that I know I’ll be getting, like Jonathan Maberry’s THE DRAGON FACTORY, Scott Sigler’s ANCESTOR and another good pal’s, James Melzer, debut THE ZOMBIE CHRONICLES: ESCAPE.

So the one goal for 2010 that I’m going to let you in on is I’m going to read one book a week till the end of the year. That’s a whopping 52 books. Sure child’s play for some, but hey, I do need to write at least one book of my own. Right?

Since I’m going to jump at this, who wants to join me? Let’s up the nation average.

2010, let’s DO IT!