December 31st, 2009

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A Heist, a Blunder, and a Rendezvous . . .

80) The Hot Rock by Donald E. Westlake (2001, Mysterious Press, 290 pages)
In this reprint of Westlake's 1970 comic heist novel, thief John Dortmunder finds himself stuck in the precarious position of having to orchestrate the theft of a large, African emerald on no less than six occasions. The novel is a laugh out loud comedy of errors, packed with some memorable, quirky characters and great dialogue. I dig Westlake's material, and The Hot Rock is quality Westlake.

81) Nightmare Lake by Carl Laymon (1983, Dell Books, 150 pages)
The first of two books that horror author Richard Laymon penned for the often goofy YA series "Twilight: Where Darkness Begins!" from the 1980s (not to be confused with the more recent, equally goofy YA book by Stephanie Meyer). Each book is a stand-alone spooky novel written from teens. This one follows a brother and sister pair who, while on vacation, throw a stick for their dog on some unnamed island only to find that rover has returned with a stake that was buried in the ribcage of a skeleton. Are these bones the remains of a vampire or the victim of some maniac? As this is a Laymon book, the answer turns out to be a little of both. Present are Laymon's invisible prose Style and his sense of humor, absent are some of the more ugly aspects of his work (no rape to be found here; this is YA, after all). Typical to Laymon: Plot is king; this book rocks along at a steady pace. While the dialogue is relatively weak, the characters are thin, and the surprise twist is evident from its super-secret introduction, the book is a short, breezy scare story which might have made a nice (if ultimately forgettable) Saturday afternoon matinee. Or maybe a Saturday Afternoon tv adaptation hosted by Captain O. G. Readmore and starring a super young Christian Slater.

82) Star Wars: Dark Rendezvous by Sean Stewart (2004, Del Rey, 330 pages)
A silly little space opera story revolving around Yoda, Christopher Lee (I mean Count Dooku), and some unknowns from the Star Wars Universe. Confession: I picked this up from the library to see if the author could write lines that Christopher Lee could deliver. Much of the time, the answer was yes. Some of the time: absolutely not. And then there was a bunch of stuff involving Kawanis (err, Padawans) and holistic philosophy and candles and sea shell imagery. And assassin robots, for some reason. Oh, and everyone who is supposed to make it to the movie that happens after this does, which pretty much removes any suspense involving Yoda or Dooku. While reading it, I found myself longing to be doing something else and yet I continued until the end. Go figure. *shrug* Forgettable entertainment, but perfect reading for the distracting setting of crowded airports or noisy airplanes.
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Tally of Books Read (2009)

00) Straight Cut by Madison Smart Bell
01) Doktor Sleepless: The Engines of Desire by Warren Ellis and Ivan Rodriguez
02) Black Summer by Warren Ellis and Juan Jose Ryp
03) Forges of the Mountain King (Dungeon Crawl Classics) by Harley Stroh
04) Muse of Fire by Dan Simmons
05) Secret of Sinharat by Leigh Brackett
06) Beasts by Joyce Carol Oates
07) Escape from Old Corvosa (Curse of the Crimson Throne) by Richard Pett
08) The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
09) A History of Ashes (Curse of the Crimson Throne) by Michael Kortes
10) A Garden of Earthly Delights by Joyce Carol Oates
11) U1: Hangman's Noose by Nicolas Logue
12) Witches of Eastwick by John Updike
13) Miss Marvel: Best of the Best by Brian Reed and Robert del la Torre
14) Miss Marvel: Civil War by Brian Reed and Robert del la Torre
15) The Shining by Stephen King
16) Lemons Never Lie by Richard Stark
17) Savage Season by Joe R. Lansdale
18) Drood by Dan Simmons
19) The Last Quarry by Max Allen Collins
20) Expensive People by Joyce Carol Oates
21) Lost Echoes by Joe R. Lansdale
22) Mucho Mojo by Joe R. Lansdale
23) A Walk on the Nightside by Simon R. Green
24) Dust by Elizabeth Bear
25) Endworld: Doomsday by David Robbins
26) Guns of Heaven by Pete Hamill
27) Child of God by Cormac McCarthy
28) Hunt at the Well of Eternity by Gabriel Hunt (James Reasoner)
29) The Last Match by David Dodge
30) Grave Descend by John Lang
Moved to TX

31) DA by Connie Willis
32) The Peddlar by Richard S. Prather
33) You've Been Warned by James Patterson and Howard Roughan
34) All the Lies That Are My Life by Harlan Ellison
35) Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates
36) Crown of Slaves by David Weber and Eric Flint
37) Family Honor by Robert B. Parker
38) Chimeric Machines by Lucy A. Snyder
39) 'Nids and Other Stories by Ray Garton
40) A Woman A Day by Philip Jose Darmer
41) Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis
42) Vanilla Ride by Joe R. Lansdale
43) China Lake by Meg Gardiner
44) Shrink Rap by Robert B. Parker
45) Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer
46) Nobody Runs Forever by Richard Stark
47) Perish Twice by Robert B. Parker
48) Promethean: The Created by various White Wolf authors
49) Night Shift by Stephen King
50) Inside Job by Connie Willis
51) Kilimanjaro by Mike Resnick
52) Image of the Beast by Philip Jose Farmer
53) The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry
54) Levine by Donald E. Westlake
55) The Thief Who Couldn't Sleep by Lawrence Block
56) Walpurgis III by Mike Resnick
57) Horseman, Pass By by Larry McMurtry
58) All Star Superman: vol 1 by Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, and Jamie Grant
59) Cages and Other Stories by Ed Gorman
60) Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
61) Come Fygures Come Shadowes by Richard Matheson
62) Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow by James Rollins
63) Prodigal Blues by Gary A. Braunbeck
64) Last Call by Tim Powers
65) A Soul in a Bottle by Tim Powers
66) The Garden of Iden by Kage Baker
67) The Women of Nell Gwynne's by Kage Baker
68) Hellboy vol. 1 by Mike Mignola
69) Summer Sketches by Dan Simmons
70) The Shaft by David J. Schow
71) Sams Teach Yourself Java 6 in 21 Days by Rogers Cadenhead & Laura Lemay
72) The Bone Key by Sarah Monette
73) If I Were You by L. Ron Hubbard
74) Expiration Date by Tim Powers
75) In the Palace of Repose by Holly Phillips
76) Star Wars: Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber
77) Telegraph Days by Larry McMurtry
78) Drive by James Sallis
79) Chasing the Dead by Joe Schreiber
80) The Hot Rock by Donald E. Westlake
81) Nightmare Lake by Carl Laymon
82) Star Wars: Dark Rendezvous by Sean Stewart