Saturday, April 03, 2010

I just finished The World According to Bertie by Alexander McCall Smith, the 4th book in the 44 Scotland Street series.

No major changes to the series - some of the characters come, and others go.  It's as enjoyable as the rest, although the fates of Mathew and Pat seem to undermine what happened in the previous book in an odd way.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

I just finished Crime Stories and Other Writings by Dashiell Hammett.

I've read Hammett's novels before, and enjoyed most of them (The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man being the exceptions), but never his short stories.  Hammett was known for being the best of the hard boiled/private eye school of writing that overthrew the "drawing room" style mysteries featuring the rich (in America) or upper class (in the UK) characters in mostly intellectual exercises and brought the "mysteries" back to being about crime and criminals.  But for all that, these stories have a remarkably similar feel to the Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories written in the previous century.  As they went on, the violence became more prominent and graphic, and they substitute the nameless Continental Op's (Hammett's detective of choice) knowledge of human motives and criminal habits for Holmes' minutiae based deductions, but the basic form and feel are there.

Quite enjoyable, though difficult to read one after the other.  They start to feel repetitive and overly familiar.  Best read in multiple sittings.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Last night, we went to see Mahealani Uchiyama with the Ka Ua Tuahine Polynesian Dance Company at Ashkenaz.

It was a really interesting show.  The music was a mix of Hawaiian/Polynesian/Jazz/Blues/World music and about 50% of the songs were accompanied by the dancers, who did these amazing, complicated dances.
Yesterday I finished Destroyer of Worlds by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner.

This is the third book in a series started with Fleet of Worlds and continuing with Juggler of Worlds, novels set in Niven's Known Space universe. 

I enjoyed the first two books in the series, but had problems with both.  The first one wasn't as engaging as it could have been, and messed with previous Known Space events in a bad way, and the second book continued that trend much too much.

Luckily, it feels like Lerner and Niven are finally hitting their stride with this series.  First, it has only minimal references to previous stories/characters.  Second, when it does mention them, it doesn't undermine them, or change them.  Instead it just uses them as a base for new ideas.  Third, the story itself is much more compelling than the previous two. 

I really enjoyed this book, and want to see where the story goes from here.