Who Am I Reading?

A good writer is an even better reader. I need to give credit where credit is due to all the authors I have read and learned from. I am one of those annoying people who needs to read more than one book at a time.


My current reads in progress are:

"A Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin. I don't need to say much. All the hype is true. I can't wait to keep reading the book. It's my daily transit treat and I devour it. I can understand this genre is not for everyone. That aside, it's a massive story, wonderfully told. Filled with detail that makes my imagination work overtime. Rich with characters to love and hate and worry about until my next reading session. I am very glad I saw some of the series just to enhance my mental images. The book lets me delve deeper into intriguing story lines and mysteries. Yes. You really should read it.


"Dangerous Waters" by fellow Canadian Toni Anderson. She's got an impressive selection of writing going with her previous novels, and now I'm devouring "The Killing Game." I love books that take me places and teach me things with a real sense of action and adventure. Toni knows what she's writing and her research gives depth to a story well told. Her characters are wonderfully layered, and her viewpoints draw the reader in so completely as to fully experience the story with the character. There are a lot of books I can put down and forget about. But not her stories. I love a good read.

"419" by Will Ferguson, a fellow Canadian and accomplished travel writer. It's an interesting premise, about those emails we all get from somebody in Africa promising huge sums of money for a little help. The story unravels slowly and carefully, with great depth as we discover the layers to the characters. The prose is beautiful and evocative. Now this is a book for bookclubs to really savour.

Jerry Langton "Gangland." A fellow Canadian, his forte is writing about crime. This is an excellent and very current rundown on Mexico and the cartels. At the beginning of the book there is a terrific and succinct explanation of Mexican history leading to why cartels eventually formed. Then, Jerry walks the reader through each of the cartels. There are so many key events and important figures to keep track of. I would have loved to take this as a university course. Fascinating! Really a wealth of information. This goes on my bookshelf.

Sylvia Longmire "Cartel". When I grow up, I want to be like Sylvia. Seriously, her bio is amazing. In her book, Sylvia takes the complex issues of cartels in Mexico, and presents them in an understandable and very readable format. This isn't dry news reporting or highbrow analysis. This is a thoughtful and compelling presentation of the brutal reality faced by the people who live with the violence and crime. This goes on my bookshelf.
And then, there is her website. It is a fabulous compendium of facts and details. Visit it at Mexico's Drug War.

Don Winslow "The Power of the Dog." This is the author who wrote "Savages", so I wanted to see for myself how and why he is a bestseller. He has an edgy style, blunt and effective, which allows the reader to be carried away by the details of the story itself. The content is graphic, and the combination of factual detail and fictional account is enthralling. This account introduces to the early days of the DEA in Mexico and the rise of the cartels, as told through several disparate characters. I love when I learn from a book, and it entertains me. This is doing both ridiculously well.

I belong to a book club, and highly, highly recommend the book club thing. We recently read "50 Shades of Grey." There are 500 odd pages in the paperback. I made myself speed read through them and was done in 5 hours. I apologize to all those who did, but I did not enjoy the book. I wasn't expecting Homer, and I understand this was about titillation and fun, but I found the writing plodding and awkward. As for the main characters, she was annoying and he was a jerk. I am all about twisted and damaged and pushing the envelope, but I could not like these people. I found myself wishing they would just take their whips and chains and put each other out of my misery. The premise of the naive and innocent heroine lifting the sardonic and complex hero from his self-imposed hell is a terrific and popular concept. However, you need to make the characters appealing and you need to give the writing style and depth. I am happy for the author and her success. Sorry, I didn't like the book.

Dick Hannah "Toe the Line." Not to be biased but my friend wrote a book! And it's good. Why? Because he does a good job of putting a new spin on things. He takes a regular guy, Wynn Johnston, and puts him in the middle of a murder. But Wynn happens to be a triathlete. That's unusual. So the story involves racing and triathlons. Again, not commonplace. We connect with the main character as he must deal with the murder and loss of his business and training partner. Then as he deals with deception and secrets that can only emerge after death. This isn't a genre I would typically read but I'm enjoying the story, and I like the writing style. It shows a real appreciation of language and clever turns of phrase. This book has that classic detective novel feel without being one. When he's not writing something clever, Dick Hannah is reading and reviewing books. Visit his blog at Publish or Perish.

On My Bookshelf: Here's a sampling of some favourites ...

Vince Flynn: When I started into "Memorial Day", my first Vince Flynn novel, my jaw dropped and I couldn't put the book down. It was like the author knew what I had secretly always wanted to read. Mitch Rapp is tough, smart and completely entertaining as he blows things up, fires at will and curses a blue streak. I am a total fan of "24", which came to an end, like all good things. I was so happy to discover Mitch Rapp. These books are rich in detail, and excellent at projecting realistic scenarios. They're required reading, apparently, by the CIA now. Incidentally, Vince was a consultant on the "24" series. I feel smarter just reading him.

Tom Clancy: It all started for me here, with Patriot Games. I cut my teeth in the political thriller genre on Tom Clancy. I would pick Clear and Present Danger as one of my favourite reads, anytime. My interest in the cartels had just begun, and if you read Clancy, you know how intricate a tale he weaves, pulling in characters and situations from around the world, then zooming right in to focus on a key plotpoint. He tells a wonderful story, filled with description, detail and relevant history. This, for me, was the ultimate Poli Sci class. And I am always adding to my collection of his books.

Suzanne Brockman: Her Troubleshooters series of books combine action, romance, hot sex and humour, sometimes all at once. I like that she goes places and writes things that push traditional norms. She crosses lines and genres skillfully, and allows the reader to enjoy all that is offered. Her characters come across so real that you follow them from book to book, to make sure they're still doing okay. These books are fast and entertaining reads, which is more often what I want.



Alex Berenson: I think he writes beautifully. I like his style, and the depth he goes with both character and information. The books are filled with both detail and details, all relevant. You journey with the character, John Wells, as he undertakes the mission, and grapples with his own demons. I really love stories with characters who have huge inner torment, and they aren't maudlin or overwrought. This character is intelligent, compassionate, and for all his ability at a loss to resolve his personal conflict. It gets me.



Barry Eisler: He is so interesting, and so is his website. His John Rain character is complex and intriguing, and the situations feel like a movie you would definitely pay to go see on the big screen. Eisler, through his character, Rain, says what he needs to say and at times the style may feel sparse, but it's really an economy of words. These types of characters are not verbose and what they say is often very funny. I have learned the art of expletives due in no small part to Rain's pal, Dox. This is definitely a series worth discovering, and easy to enjoy.



Copyright 2013 Cheryl Biswas