Wednesday, July 06, 2011


I’m so close to the end of “Under the Ember Star” I can taste it, and I’ve been writing myself out on that so I don’t have a lot of energy to blog. Here’s a few capsule book reviews.

I recently read two books in Ed Gorman’s Sam McCain series, a private eye series set in small town Iowa in the 1960s. These were Breaking Up is Hard to Do and Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool. Both were very good and very easy reads. I’ve already ordered more.

Do read Michael Connelly’s The Narrows. This is a serial killer book but it was quite well done and persuaded me to get some of his earlier works.

Read Koontz’s The Good Guy. Although Koontz has written out most of the darkness within this one hearkens back in some ways to his older work. It has one of the strongest beginnings in recent memory.

Read Rumble Tumble by Joe Lansdale. This is a Hap and Leonard book, and if you don’t know what that means then you need to find out. Email me if need be and I’ll explain. These books are suspense but I wouldn’t call them “straight” suspense. There’s always some pretty weird shit in any Lansdale book. Rumble Tumble is the good stuff. A quick read, and very brutal.

Probably you shouldn’t bother with The Forty Fathom Bank by Les Galloway. Galloway, who is dead now, attempts a Hemingway riff and doesn’t quite pull it off. I really didn’t like the main character, who is a whiney little bitch, and the ending is telegraphed very early. But I did admire the prose. It’s a novella of 108 pages. Galloway wrote it when he was 72 so that was kind of cool.

Of interest to early paperback readers, Pocketbook Writer: Confessions of a Commercial Hack, by Charles Nuetzel. Nuetzel wrote a few ERB type books back in the 60s, as well as a lot of other stuff. This is his autobiography. It includes an interview I did with him years ago.

A very good book is In the Courts of the Crimson Kings by S. M. Stirling. This is the first in a proposed Martian series. It was far superior to The Sky People, the first in a proposed Venusian series. Stirling did an excellent job updating the Sword & Planet genre here. He created an interesting way for the Martians to express themselves and kept it up throughout the whole book. There was plenty of action, as well, and quite a twist ending. Check it out.

Maybe, if you want, read Ice Prophet by William R. Forstchen. I’ve liked every other book I’ve read by Forstchen, especially his Lost Regiment series, but I didn’t really care for this one. I believe this is one of his first, written in 1983. The idea is good, a future ice age world where religion rules and ice ships sail the glaciers. It has similarities to Ice Schooner by Moorcock, but is not as good. Forstchen spends too much time on the development of the society and less on the characters and action. The ending is pretty cool, though.

Another very good book is Nightblood by T. Chris Martindale. An even better book by him, however, is Where the Chill Waits, which I read a few years back. Both books are excellent horror novels, and I also feel that Martindale writes with a style similar to what I used in Cold in the Light.

As for Heart-Shaped Box, by Joe Hill. If you like Stephen King you’ll probably like this. Joe Hill writes much like his pappy. The book started out good, then slowed way down in the middle. I almost put the book down then, but am glad I didn’t because the ending was a real roller coaster ride and was very good.

The Rocket’s Shadow and The Lost City, by John Blaine. These are two YA books, both written in 1947. This is a Tom Swift/ Tom Corbett kind of series but I didn’t think they were as exciting. “The Lost City” had a neat twist in that the “city” in question turned out to be a hidden Mongol city where the actual grave of Ghengis Khan was hidden. I would have loved these books when I was in my early teens, but they were a bit much of a sameness for me now.


nephite blood spartan heart said...

I'll have to look for those Blaine books-and the Stirling.

Deka Black said...

Sword & Planet... good. Is a kind of story i love ^^

Lisa said...

hello charles, how are you. wow you can really read and really love books. are you a fast reader? must be. i wish i have my reading passion back. charles, i understand you have ebooks, how do one purchase them? and for those that do not have kindle or ipad/iphone, how do we get ebooks?

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Lots of suggestions today!

cs harris said...

Glad to hear the writing is going well. Please tell me you didn't just read all those books you review?

Charles Gramlich said...

David J. West, The Stirling was really good.

Deka, I bet you would like the Stirling.

Ocean Girl, Hi. I'm still having trouble commenting on your blog, btw. As for ebooks. I do have one out, for both Kindle and for the nook, called Killing trail. You can find it under my name at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can download for free an application for your computer that can read these kinds of ebooks. the Kindle one is at The B & N one is in their Nook store on their website. HOpe that helps.

Alex, quite a few of these I read some time ago but am just now getting around to reviewing. But my thoughts haven't changed.

Candy, no. That's a good period's worth of reading. I'm just now reviewing.

BernardL said...

Thanks, Charles, I'm a big Koontz fan and I loved his older works.

Ty said...

Looks like I've got plenty of reading to catch up on. I've got the Joe Hill book but have yet to read it, though glad to hear you're take on it.

Deka Black said...

Sure! But right now i'm ree-reading some Moorcock stuff ;)

Charles Gramlich said...

Bernardl, me too, although it seems to be popular to dump on him these days. but books like Midnight, Phantoms, Lightning. Those were superb.

Ty, Joe Hill has put out a couple of things since this one, which was his first. He may even have improved.

Deka, good stuff. I like Moorcock's Ice Schooner a lot

jodi said...

Charles, altho our tastes in reading material may differ, we can agree on the total happiness of a good book or two.

X. Dell said...

Wow, more books for the reading list.

Break a leg with Under the Ember, and have fun seeing the project through.

BTW, the White Cat sounds like a fun site. I'm going over now to take a look.

Unknown said...

I agree that the Narrows is quite good. I like most of everything he writes. He is good.

I did read Joe Hill's book and felt just the opposite. I thought it was boring and poorly crafted. I thought, "Now here's a boy that should have studied with his dad a bit more."

Funny stuff - taste. Thanks for the reviews. Those were the only two I knew, so I have lots of choices to try.

Cloudia said...

"Ember Star" is way cool title/concept. Evocative.

Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral


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Charles Gramlich said...

Jodi, surely everyone loves and hates the same books I do. :)

X-Dell, yes, do check out White Cat. Good stuff.

Carole, I thought the main problem with Hill's book was that it was just too long. He left in some of the boring parts. I cut him a bit of slack considering it was his first novel.

Cloudia, thankee. Yeah, I like the Ember Star title a lot.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Love that Gorman series. It's the perfect summer breeze.

Tyhitia Green said...

You keep adding to my TBR pile, Charles. Even on Goodreads. You just don't know. ;-)

Charles Gramlich said...

Patti, Gorman is very good for sure.

Tyhitia, good to have a lot of books to read. :)

Jeff said...

Courts of the Crimson Kings... any relations to the album that was a favorite of mine in high school?

Charles Gramlich said...

Jeff, no, I don't think so, unless Stirling got the name from that. That was my first thought when I saw the title but I didn't hear of any evidence of any connection.

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