Recently, I've discovered/realized/lamented that I haven't been reading as much as I used to. I am still reading, just not in the same quantity that I have previously enjoyed. That is sad. That requires a remedy.
So I've been reading more - or at least attempting to devote more time to the written word. Here's what I've completed over the last couple of weeks...
The Adventures of Slim & Howdy by Kix Brooks & Ronnie Dunn
Brooks & Dunn are known more for their music than they are for their fiction, and there's a reason for that. They are fantastic song writers, but half-baked novelists. Slim & Howdy is not high caliber fiction - and it butchers English grammar. Where the book does succeed is in the art of storytelling. The book is believable as a collection of stories told by cowboys around some campfire. It's all tall tales from start to finish - entertaining enough, but I wouldn't recommend that Brooks & Dunn quit their day jobs. Unfortunately, it's too late for them to take my advice.
The Righteous Men by Sam Bourne
This is a fantastic thriller that plays nicely to religious conspiracies that follows Dan Brown's habit of blending historical and religious studies into a fictional tale. Unlike Brown, Sam Bourne doesn't pass off the fictional as true and doesn't make easily debunkable (and outlandish claims) as an insult to the church. The Righteous Men starts off like any good book - with murder. It doesn't stop there. Through the course of sixty some odd chapters there are another 35 murders, a kidnapping, torture, beatings, and some crazy religious rituals. The story blends ethics in journalism, a quasi-christian cult, an extreme Jewish sect, and an attempt to jump start Jesus' second coming. While it is predictable in parts, it largely keeps you in the dark as to who's really pulling the strings. My only gripe about the book is when the main character (a reporter for the New York Times) drives I-90 through Cd'A. The narrator states that Coeur d'Alene would be a "fascinating stop" because it's home to the Aryan Nations. It's a fail in two counts - 1: the Aryan Nations headquarters wasn't in Cd'A - but in nearby Hayden, and 2: the Aryan Nations had been shut down for 6 years by the time the book was published.
Biggie by Voletta Wallace
Supposedly, this book is Voletta's remembrance of her son the Notorious B.I.G. While it does shed some light on Biggie's life (although viewed through the rose colored glasses of a proud mother), it turns out to be more like Voletta's autobiography. It starts with her childhood in Jamaica, follows her to New York and chronicles her struggles as a single mother, teacher, and cancer survivor. The writing is simplistic, and occasionally harsh. Biggie's mom does reveal some unsurprising details of the life of Christopher Wallace before he became famous (like his fondness for food - says mom Wallace: "The name Biggie, he earned that."), but the narrative leaves out well known chunks of the trouble Biggie committed. She states that Big was out on the streets a lot, but never tells what he was doing. Perhaps this is a mother's naiveté, or it's willful ignorance. I suspect that Voletta is trying to build the most positive legacy possible for her murdered son.
And here's what's in my book stack (to be or in the process of being read)....
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
Red by Jack Ketchum
Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell (half finished)