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My Book Reading

Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly  (completed)

Lou Reed: A Life by Anthony DeCurtis

   (in progress)

Killing Floor by Lee Child   (completed)

   (1997, Reacher's first appearance)

Sticky Fingers - The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan


The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone (Dey St. Books, just completed, full review just published)

Double Agent Celery: MI5's Crooked Hero by Carolinda Witt (pen-and-sword books)

The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum (1980, the book that started the franchise, just completerd)

The Take by Christopher Reich (Mulholland Books)

Podcast Favorites

Kara Swisher's Recode Decode this week is an interesting conversation with Tina Brown. Using the publication of her new Vanity Fair Diaries as a starting point, they examine Brown's publishing career, notably her wonderful runs with Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. Then they dive into the internet age, how it's changing the publishing world, Brown's start-up of The Daily Beast, followed by venting about Facebook today. Swisher puts together the best intervierw/talk with Brown I've heard since her book was published. Brown was consistently creating some of the best magazines in the world, at a time when that mattered.

Rich Roll's podcast is one I've discovered recently, and I'm working to catch up. Here are two don't-miss episodes:

Fogel is the star of, the producer of, the man behind Icarus. If you've not watched this documentary, exclusively streaming on Netflix, get to it! Of all the interviews I've read and heard with Fogel, Roll brings out the most interesting perspective. It's a fabulous listening experience.


Lance Armstrong needs no introduction. I don't care whether you admire or dislike him, his wealth of experience and new perspective on many matters is worth listening to. Me, I think he's one of the finest athletes ever.


A Flamin' Groovies Reunion... Are You Kidding Me?

The Flamin' Groovies are one of my all-time favorite '70s rock'n'roll bands. I still remember their first LP arriving in the mail, sent to me by the coolest music mail-order retailer of the era, The Dedicated Fool. Their catalogs were basically fanzines, and I loved them.

Like I did the Flamin' Groovies. Find their music, listen to Flamingo and Teenage Head. These are phenomenal rockin' records, full of hooks and memorable lyrics ajd strong vocals and guitars and musicianship. Next time someone tells you the '70s were full of wimpy singer-songwriter records (which were plentiful), unleash some Flamin' Groovies! 

These guys later morphed into a '60s-British Invasion-sounding band (thanks, Greg Shaw!), and have for decades remained legendary in the heads and hearts of record collectors and music fans worldwide. Bootlegs abound, many raw but energetic and exciting.

Now the original band is coming back together! After all these years. Damn, I'm excited...

A tour, a new album. Wow!


Every Day Above Ground by Glen Erik Hamilton

Do cover blurbs by popular authors work? If I’m a litmus test, then yes they do. Hell, I still give books a try based on Stephen King recommendations, and he seems to have written hundreds of them! On the cover of Every Day Above Ground, between the author and the title, is “This guy has got what it takes” - Lee Child. 

Bam, I’m in.

Going by the press release, this is the third novel from Hamilton featuring his primary guy, Van Shaw. I’m kinda stunned I’ve been unaware of Glen Erik Hamilton and his work. His Van Shaw is clearly the reason people people compare Hamilton’s work to Lee Child, but I’m telling you, no matter how flattering that is, Every Day Above Ground stands firmly on it’s own. This book is outstanding all the way through.  

Van Shaw is an ex-Army Ranger living in the grey areas between law and his own set of rules. Life since the Army has been tough. He’s trying to rebuild his family home after a fire; his career thief grandfather, his adult role model, has passed away. Shaw is a good guy, by all basic measures, but isn’t afraid to tackle life head-on and utilize his lifetime knowledge of thievery and Army training to take care of himself, and those he cares about.

That compassion is where trouble finds Shaw. Everything in his life begins to unravel after an old prison acquaintance of Van Shaw’s grandfather lands on his doorstep. His  fantastic story and opportunity involving millions of dollars in gold quickly draws Shaw in, though quickly the game changes and the stakes grow much higher. 

Tense action and a lively storyline throughout kept me eagerly reading and wondering and hoping. When millions of dollars in gold bricks are at stake, relationships change quickly and events move faster. 

Hamilton proves to be more than effective with plot and drawing personality on the page. With only his third novel, he assumes a place in the top thriller / mystery ranks. I enjoyed getting to know Van Shaw and several other of his friends, and certainly felt I had a stake in how Shaw was going to extricate himself and his captive friend from the situations they were in. A few timely surprises along the way proved welcome and fit the plot nicely - quite an array of “bad guys” are all over this story.

I look forward to more from Glen Erik Hamilton, and will find copies of his first two novels and add them to my “must read” stack. 

@GlenErikH, @WmMorrowBooks, #EveryDayAboveGround, @TheRealBookSpy



House of Spies - Daniel Silva

I’ve less patience with books than I used to have. It doesn’t take much for me to put a novel aside out of boredom, or sudden realization I don’t give a damn about any of the characters, or worse yet, don’t even feel I know them. 

House of Spies is a big book. These 524 pages make it something decisions have to be made about. Do I lug it to the beach? Out to the deck? Are there all these pages ‘cause the author can’t figure out how to bring people to life with words, or because he thinks he’s Tom Clancy and the plot dances all over the place for the first half?

Yeah, I think of all this stuff. Which makes my applause for Daniel Silva’s House of Spies all the more relevant. Read in a relaxed manner, letting Gabriel Allon, the master spy and assassin disguised as an art restorer, weave his web of accomplices and plots slowly and carefully around the nefarious Saladin, is entirely satisfying every turned page.

Complex spy novels, notably those involving Russians, often become blurry and difficult (and boring) to follow. Silva kept me engaged at all times, with pacing tied closely to events and plot developments. I felt the story unfold around me as I read, helping me care and understand about bad guys turned “almost good guys”. 

Crossing borders amid global terrorism, Allon and his teams form unlikely alliances in an all-hands effort to prevent horrifying acts. How this is pulled together, how everything is even dreamed up, is a testament to the masterful storytelling abilities of author Silva.

Now I’m faced with a great situation. There are a bunch of Daniel Silva’s books I’ve not read, but I'm going to rectify that. Clear a bookshelf!


@danielsilvabook, @TheRealBookSpy, @HarperCollins, #houseofspies, #danielsilva


Matchup - edited by Lee Child


Matchup is a collection of thrillers, short stories, written by unlikely male/female collaborators featuring their best-known characters. Such an fascinating premise. Editor Lee Child seems to have made it his mission to pair writers who otherwise would never have worked with each other.

Every story has it’s own rhythm and pace. Child co-authored “Faking a Murderer” with Kathy Reichs, pairing his legendary Jack Reacher with her Temperance Brennan. Reacher, with his brevity of speech and cutting-to-the-chase language is starkly contrasted with the world of lawyers he finds himself caught up in. This helps Child’s writing be all the more entertaining. I love how Reacher lives so vividly in his own world, yet adapts quickly when circumstances dictate. His “What’s an IPA?” is a laugh-out-loud moment near the end of a suspenseful story.

Child of course introduces each story, detailing how these writers got together and giving readers a bit about how they mingled their often very different writing styles, processes and characters. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Matchup from beginning to end. Eleven adventures flow between the covers, including such favorites of mine as John Sandford, C.J. Box, Sandra Brown, Michael Koryta and Lisa Scottoline. Some of the pairings create tensions and flow quite different from what readers may expect. 

Want to know how much I enjoyed reading Matchup? The book followed me around the house. I looked for five minute spaces of time to read a few pages. Usually I am reading several books at a time, but once Matchup opened itself up to me, I had nobody else until the final page was turned.


#matchup, #leechild, @simonandschuster @TheRealBookSpy @leechildreacher


Matchup with Lee Child

Hell yes! I've been waiting for Matchup, edited by the great Lee Child. @LeeChildReacher, @SimonSchuster, @amandalanger, #leechild#matchup