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Monday
Aug182014

Children of the Revolution: An Inspector Banks Novel by Peter Robinson

Prior to reading Children of the Revolution, I was unfamiliar with both author Robinson and his compelling police detective, Alan Banks. Halfway through the book, I was telling friends of this wonderful author and his memorable character. This is one of those books you want to spread the word about.

Banks is a real policeman, willing to step outside the lines of protocol and  jurisdiction. His life contains the interests and struggles of real people without being tortured by self-doubt and destructive habits. In other words, he’s a regular guy with a passion for music, decent wine, relationships and the job. I like the jazz record collection he turns to, I like that he unwinds with a glass (or two) of wine. And I enjoy Banks’ relentless pursuit of the truth.

Children of the Revolution brings the radical politics and climate of the 1960s and ‘70s to today’s England, at times either the centerpiece of a complex mystery, or merely a side plot. At first glance a mysterious death appears to be a drug-related accident; then questions begin. From that point on Inspector Banks finds himself in a confusing mystery.

Robinson’s writing style is engaging. Banks, his staff and everyone he deals with are memorable and remain lasting in my mind. Children of the Revolution compels me to find earlier Inspector Banks novels, line ‘em up, and read all of them.

William Morrow

@WmMorrowBks

Sunday
Aug172014

Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta

This is my first Michael Koryta novel. Not my last, for damn sure (I need to find his first nine. Why am I unfamiliar with his work?) In case you cannot read the smoke signals, Those Who Wish Me Dead is exceptional. As one of those novels unfairly lumped into the “thriller” genre, I believe this one will bust Koryta out into mainstream popularity. At least it should.

Early in Those Who Wish Me Dead, thirteen-year-old Jace sees something he wishes he didn’t witness, catapulting life-changing events into motion. The Blackwell Brothers, Ethan and Allison, the unlikely Hannah - the storyline weaves and quickens pace and intensifies. You’ll look for excuses to grab a few minutes and read a few pages, or a chapter.

Everyone in Koryta’s novel is memorable. Some become unforgettable (Blackwell Brothers, Hannah). As I read, I found myself savoring the written words, wondering what Ethan and Allison were going to do about the hurdles presenting themselves in their quest to help Jace. I worried about Hannah and her state of mind, and always feared the return of the Blackwell Brothers. It was inevitable they’d return. And they do.

Those Who Wish Me Dead is a fabulous story inside a wonderfully-written book. I found myself thinking of the book when I was busy doing other things; the characters come alive to the point they're real inside my head. On some level I anticipate these strongly-realized people assist Koryta filling in the blanks and writing dialogue. Or I'm full of it. Maybe it's just me who feels the author performed so well, but I doubt it.

Little, Brown  

@LittleBrown, @MJKoryta, @lenabitts

Sunday
Aug172014

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

How the hell does King maintain such high standards as a writer? New books seem to fly forth constantly; and when I get to one, I’m always impressed. Cannot remember when he let me down.

Mr. Mercedes became a consuming story. I am terribly impressed with the pacing, the slow build, a gradual reveal of escalating consequences replete with surprises and twists.  Evil, of course, is a mainstay of much of Stephen King’s work, and you’ll be unsurprised to learn it’s at the core of this book. 

Brady, the primary character in Mr. Mercedes, comes eerily alive on the pages. I found myself consistently drawn to the book, needing to know what’s coming next, hoping I was wrong. Based in a traditional small-town setting, enhancing the contrast between “regular every-day life” and one of the most evil characters King has dreamed up, Mr. Mercedes becomes come compelling as the pages fly by.

I won’t go over the plot, nor even attempt to convince you this book is exceptional. I found it thought-provoking, written with excellence, and dramatic as hell.

Scribner  @Scribnerbooks, @StephenKing

Sunday
Aug172014

Fruitful: Four Seasons of Fresh Fruit Recipes by Brian Nicholson and Sarah Huck

I found the premise for Fruitful initially puzzling. How much direction do people need to eat fruit, I wondered? Wash, peel if needed, insert in mouth. Eat and harvest in season, drop into a blender with other food, turn the switch, and whammo, great-tasting smoothies.

Turns out Fruitful is helpful in ways I’d not anticipated. Based around the produce of Red Jacket Orchards in New York state, photographed to showcase the beauty of fresh produce, the recipes are much more than fruit combinations. This is real farm cooking, with fresh fruit as an important component of each meal. Perhaps most useful is the incentive to use fruit outside of my habits or that I am unfamiliar with. 

My first attempt may be Charred Pork Chops with Apricot-Rosemary Sauce. Every word is a trigger.

Fruitful is more than I anticipated it would be. Learn and experience some new ways to incorporate fresh fruit into your life.

(Running Press) @Running_Press

Sunday
Aug172014

Kelly Starrett's New Books... Get In Line for Pre-Order!

As if Becoming A Supple Leopard wasn't enough of a good thing, a single book that's changed many people's lives (read my review here in case you somehow escaped reading it), Kelly Starrett's upcoming book projects have been announced.

Starrett often talks about the long-term dangers of sitting; his interviews and podcast work carry the theme consistently. The title Becoming A Supple Leopard reflects genius marketing (listen to him and Tim Ferris talk about it on The Tim Ferris Show podcast (episode 3, 4/27/14). People of every stripe are becoming aware that our society is physically crumbling, and one important factor is the sheer volume of hours people sit and are basically inactive (as I slouch on my couch with a computer on my lap - at least so far this morning I've walked the dog and stretched on the floor). Sitting is the New Smoking will prove to be another important book, I'm certain. And again, a genius book title.

I'm looking forward to reading Ready To Run, personally. Oddly enough, I'm finding myself running more this year than in a long time. And now enjoying it. Some of it's due to Grant Soletski's programming at CrossFit Green Bay, another factor is how good my Reebok Nano 4.0 shoes feel and perform when I run. No matter. I can use the assistance, and as an aging athlete, learning as much as possible about how to move and maintain my body, with Starrett's help, is important.

@mobilitywod, @tferris, @crossfitgb,