April 11, 2012: Decisions, Decisions!  Another Dark Matter Review!

I picked up a few books today and I’m trying to decide on some sort of reading order.  Familiar with any of the above titles?  Able to read the above titles?  Okay, allow me to help:

Dark Places, Gillian Flynn

The Story Sisters, Alice Hoffman

The Islanders, Christopher Priest (actually, already halfway through this one).

Moonwalking with Einstein, Joashua Foer

Volt, Alan Heathcock

The Devotion of Suspect X, Keigo Higashino

Care of Wooden Floors, Will Wiles

The Vagrants, Yiyun Li

Please Look After Mom, Kyung-Sook Shin

Ravens, George Dawes Green

The Little Stranger, Sarah Waters (enjoyed Affinity).

Sharp Obejcts, Gillian Flynn

Blood, Bones & Butter, Gabrielle Hamilton

A Dark Matter, Peter Straub

Familiar with any of the above listed books?  Recommendations? Suggestions?  Warnings?

I’m making up for lost time.  Specifically, my time in Toronto where I went from a 2-3 book a week habit to 2-3 books the entire year.  Also, after being pleasantly surprised by novels like Patricia Highsmith’s Deep Water and Helen Simonson’s Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, I’m looking to expand my recreational reading horizons beyond SF, Fantasy, and Horror.  So if you’ve got some non-genre suggestions, would love to hear ’em.  What was the last great book you read?

April 11, 2012: Decisions, Decisions!  Another Dark Matter Review!

The fourth (and final?) issue of my SF comic book series came out today.  Did you pick up your copy?  Or are you waiting for the trade paperback to come out in six months?  Thoughts?  Questions? Critiques?

The gang at Comic Book Bastards weighed in on Dark Matter #4 (bless their hearts): Comic Bastards – Home – Review: Dark Matter #4. They say: “The series ends with the perfect set up for the next chapter and hopefully people will go back and check out the series so we get that next chunk of the story.”

You heard ’em!  Check it out, people!

April 11, 2012: Decisions, Decisions!  Another Dark Matter Review!
"What do you think?" "I dunno. What do YOU Think?" Lulu, Jelly and Bubba (not pictured) would like you to recommend a good book told from the point of view of a dog.

45 thoughts on “April 11, 2012: Decisions, decisions! Another Dark Matter review!

  1. First of all,,, are the pups comfy in the togetherness mode, so cute.
    And TFAW just sent me an email, DM4 will be here soon…
    Can not help on the books, but they look like great possibilities, let us know.

  2. There’s a scene in Gerald’s Game, a Stephen King novel, that slips into the POV of a dog. I thought it was done well in terms of envisioning how a dog might think, but it’s really gross.

    You could give them a compilation of The Far Side and tell them every frame is from a dog’s POV. They wouldn’t know the difference and I think it’s a reasonable theory anyway.

    Clifford Visits the Hospital has Clifford separating from Emily Elizabeth enough that you could call it from his POV. I wasn’t impressed.

  3. Joe,

    The Vagrants is good but The Corpse Walker by Yiao Liwu is better. Oracle Bones by Peter Hessler is great, too. As is Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron.

  4. Haven’t had a chance to catch Dark Matter4 yet. I might have to wait until I get back from vacation. Here in Brisbane right now looking around the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art. Never too busy to read your blog though! Well, that and I’m giving my feet a rest.

  5. Hey, Joe!

    A Mailbag ? for Jelly, Lulu, & Bubba…

    Do any of them prefer any of the superhero flicks that Cookie has been watching?

    I ask because my cat is mesmerized by the Wolverine movie and the X-Men movies w/ Wolverine. I’m trying to figure out if it’s just because she has a thing for Hugh Jackman or if she likes watching because of Wolverine’s claw work. At first I thought it was due to his claws because she watches the tv intensely during Wolverine’s fight scenes… but then the other day she was sitting in the chair watching ‘The Prestige’ so now I’m thinking it’s a Hugh Jackman thing. Maybe she was just hoping for a Wolverine/Batman fight to break out in that movie tho. She also watches Puss In Boots, but that’s because she likes his boots.

    In all serious though, are there any movies or tv shows that the dogs like?

    We had a dog that loved to watch SpongeBob SquarePants. Later in her life she would have seizures (due to stroke complications) and the SpongeBob SquarePants theme song would bring her out of the seizures. Our German Sheppard likes to watch Hogan’s Heroes whenever they show the German Sheppards in the camp & the K-9 Cops show on Animal Planet. And as for our cat… she’s learned to turn the tv on by herself and change the channels until she finds a show she likes then jump up in a chair and watch. Usually college football or basketball, but sometimes hockey or baseball… and anything with Hugh Jackman in it (no joke!).

  6. I haven’t read The Story Sisters or Little Stranger but I’ve loved the other novels by Alice Hoffman and Sarah Waters that I’ve read, and these are on my TBR pile. Did you ever read Ready Player One?

    For a non-genre book, try State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. It’s basically a literary adventure story, with some nice understated humor.

  7. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. Great story told from a dog’s point of view. Have a box of tissues close by. Why do all dog stories make me cry?

  8. I’m not familiar with any of those books, but I’m reading a good one right now. It’s called Devil’s Gate by Clive Cussler. Excellent read. And I guess I needed to go to another genre too. My younger son saw me reading it and wanted to see the title. He saw it and then asked, “Is that a sci-fi book?” I told him no and told him what the book was about. I guess my children know my passions too well. 🙂

  9. “ANGEL OF VENGEANCE” – Trevor Munson

    And so *not* the TV series that sprung from it. A very fast-read DETECTIVE novel – [that reminds me of Hammett] – with a vamp twist… The 1st chapter could come out of a DEXTER Teaser.

    Give it a try sometime while you’re waiting in traffic…

  10. So where is Ready Player One in that stack, eh, Joe?
    It seems conspicuous by its absence.

    I’ve not read any of those titles, nor am I familiar with any of those authors. At the moment, I’m reading a lot of sci-fi in preparation for Hugo voting.

    Have you ever read Tony Hillerman? He wrote a series of mysteries set in Navajo country. They are best read in order:

    People of Darkness (1980)
    The Dark Wind (1982) made into a movie in 1991
    The Ghostway (1984)
    Skinwalkers (1986) made into a Mystery movie by PBS
    A Thief of Time (1988) made into a Mystery movie by PBS
    Talking God (1989)
    Coyote Waits (1990) made into a Mystery movie by PBS
    and several more.

    Hey, das! If you haven’t read them you might like them, too. No albinos, though…

  11. @Joe:

    What was the last great book you read?

    This may show my airplane interests, but I really enjoyed Michael Crichton’s “Airframe”. For pure pulp enjoyment (which I mostly read during commercial flights), I read a lot of Clive Cussler. He’s a bit formulaic at times, but he’s enjoyable and very prolific which is what I need when traveling to avoid getting trapped on a flight with a book I endating.

    As a foodie update; your Chicagoland fans gathered at 1776 Restaurant for a Tapas night. Everyone went for the set meal, which we all enjoyed, and I especially enjoyed the Yorkshire Ham Roast course. You can check out the courses here:


    @Sparrow_Hawk and Sylvia:

    Barb and I enjoyed meeting you all tonight and we’re looking forward to the meal at Tsukasa. And Sylvia, thanks again for the Macarons; now we just have to keep the kids from them until they’ve had a chance to thaw 😉

  12. Sorry that should have been “end up hating”…

    That was an auto-complete failure, but I’m not sure what my Android tablet was aiming for. “Endating”?!?

  13. I posted this in December for a non-genre gift idea, but the series is a great read. The cultural differences between Russo and Tilla, the protagonists, remind me a bit of you guys, J & A. 🙂

    Medicus (a novel of the Roman Empire)
    by Ruth Downie
    Ruso, a sardonic medical officer, finds himself dragged into solving murders while traveling with a contingent of the Roman army in what is now northern England. His gruff, dry humor deflects many absurd requests for love potions, but doesn’t prevent him from being drawn into unraveling mysteries, or unwittingly falling for a local Briton girl who thinks all Roman soldiers vile. Very entertaining, mixed with interesting historical details by the author, who studies Roman-era archeological digs in her native Britain.

    If you like Medicus, you’ll like the rest of this well-written series: Terra Incognita, Persona Non Grata, and Caveat Emptor. (The titles given by American publishers.)


  14. @Lisa R:

    I haven’t heard about Devil’s Gate…I think I’ll have to check that out.



    I’m also reading Frank Peretti’s Illusion. Good so far, but I have about 20% to finish, so I need to see how it finishes up. I enjoyed his book, Monster, as well.

  15. @Sparrow_hawk – I just got the Ready Player one – sounds interesting.

    @Joe – not necessarily in the “great” category – but I did enjoy reading The Help. This was after I saw the movie.

    Just ordered Please look after Mom, that sounds interesting.

    Now to get my digital Dark Matter #4.

  16. Not that this isn’t cool, but is there at least a graphic novel for what the Atlantis movie would have been about, and SGU as well? There are so many unanswered questions I have like I did for SG1 (but those were answered in the AOT & Continuum movies). Please.

  17. @ Sparrowhawk – I haven’t read the books, but I watched those Mystery! movies a few years back starring Adam Beach. Good stuff. And remember, before albinos it was Native Americans. (For the record, even I have trouble keeping track of my obsessions. 😛 )


  18. My mom says of The Devotion of Suspect X, “I enjoyed it immensely. This despite the fact that I am not a fan of mysteries.” She belongs to the website Good Reads (goodreads.com), and through them, she won an advance copy of the novel a couple months before its U.S. release date. Although it’s not her usual genre and she’d never have thought to read it if she hadn’t won a free copy, she was very pleasantly surprised. She particularly liked the battle of wits between the protagonist and the antagonist, who are former university friends, the latter actively working to throw the police off the trail, while the former is trying to help them by pointing out the errors in their logic.

    You’re the second person recently to pose the question to me, “What’s the last book you read?” Well, you specifically asked for the last GREAT book, but whatever. The other situation in which I was asked was in a job interview for a GMAT-teaching gig with UBC. And my answer? Well, I answered truthfully. I was currently reading “The Hunger Games” on the recommendation of my 12-year-old niece and my 39-year-old fiancé. That’s a damn good book, I have to admit. The series as a whole isn’t great, but that’s only because the awesomeness of the first book is tainted by the average-ness of the second and the downright dreadfulness of the third. If you just read the first one, though, and stop while you’re ahead, it’s well worth the read.

    I also really liked “Old Man’s War” and “Agent to the Stars”, both by John Scalzi, but I’m sure you’ve read those. Although, similar to the Hunger Games trilogy, I was less enthralled with the 2nd and 3rd books of the “Old Man’s War” series. I’d have been content with the first book just being a stand-alone book. Come to think of it, I feel that way about a lot of trilogies: the Matrix movies, for instance. Or the Lord of the Rings movies. (I like the 2nd and 3rd books, though; it’s just the movies that I didn’t think were up to the snuff of the 1st one.)

    And as for the dogs, I recommend Ribsy, by Beverly Cleary. That’s a wonderful book written from a dog’s perspective. And it was my entrée into the world of Beverly Cleary books as a kid, when my sister gifted me Ribsy for Christmas in first or second grade. The plot: Ribsy gets out of his family’s station wagon while they’re in the mall shopping, and eventually finds his way back to what he thinks is his family’s car (it has the same new-car smell as his family’s), but is really another family’s station wagon, where he curls up in the back to wait for his family to return from shopping. The “imposter” family returns and starts driving off before they realize he’s there, and because they don’t know where he came from, they end up taking him home until they can figure out who he belongs to. But Ribsy is having none that. He soon sets out to find his family on his own…

  19. @JeffW: You’re welcome. When my mother-in-law was still alive, she loved Clive Cussler. Always used to let me read her books when she was finished. I saw Devil’s Gate in the library last weekend, and it intrigued me. I think you’ll like it. It’s from the NUMA files.

  20. Also, I don’t know if you’ve ever read “Replay” by Ken Grimwood, but I really, really liked that book. Within the first few pages, the protagonist has a heart attack and is convinced that he has died, but he finds himself zapped back in time to when he was a first-year university student, seemingly reliving his life from that point forward. Is he dreaming? And if so, when will he wake up? Is this all a near-death experience akin to that episode of SG-1 where the whole thing happens in the space it takes Sha’ré to attempt to kill Daniel with the hand device and get shot by Teal’c? The last time I looked, Replay was no longer in print, but you could probably find a used copy somewhere. (Or you could borrow mine, if you promise to give it back.)

  21. Joe: We missed you at dinner last night, but JeffW took some pictures (see above).

    @das: I left the wikipedia movie information in just for you! Actually, the books are better than the movies (in my opinion). And I did remember your American Indian obsession – I was just being polite and not reminding everyone else on the blog. 😉

    @sylvia: Since the macarons are so petite, they were thawed by the time I got home. Not that I needed more food, but my son and I sampled one of each. They were really good! Nice and light and crisp on the outside. The vanilla ganache was especially smooth and creamy. Trader Joe’s did a nice job.

  22. Moonwalking with Einstein might be a good one to start with.

    I got my copy of Dark Matter #4 yesterday, and it was the first comic I read of all the comics I bought. I agree that it’s a nice ending to the first chapter. I don’t want to go into spoilers, but I really like how we found out who the characters were and what was really going on.

  23. I enjoyed Hillerman, but after a few, too much became … too much. Mom and Dad read mysteries, so I’ve read a variety, but not enough to stick with it.

  24. Glad to hear there will be a trade paperback! I was waiting until the 4th one came out to buy them all (I hate cliff hangers if I don’t have to; I’m very impatient), but now I might wait because I’m less likely to damage those than the comic paper (considering they get shoved in purses and such) and they just look so much better on my book shelf. The question is, can I wait another 6 months to read the series?!

    The last good book I read…well, nothing that isn’t sci-fi/fantasy unless you want to read academic non-fiction books (in that case, Representation of Slavery by Jennifer Eichstedt and Stephen Small is a brilliantly researched and crafted book). Right now I’m read Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman and before that, I read Genesis by Bernard Beckett.

    Also, just wanted to say how fun your macaron class looked and how tasty!

  25. @ Deni
    CUTE PUPPY Deni. Only notorious issue with Boxers is GAS. May I recommend Fastrack, a healthy probiotic that truly does help stop that issue. 🙂 Get it for health, enjoy it for gas-mask-free-living.

    Sadly I don’t think there really ARE any good books told from point of a dog. Well, except Beautiful Joe which I read as a child.

    I read most everything, but somehow I doubt the Sharon Lee Liaden Universe is your cup of tea (and whose short stories I bought first night I got the Kindle!). I also loaded up with Shakespeare, of which I had read EVERY WRITTEN WORD back in 1974-75 and am determined to do again, but not that fast, lol. You didn’t like Goodkind, which is one of my favorite writers ever. So not sure I can offer much as our reading preferences are obviously so different.

  26. @Debra: Thank you! Gas is a HUGE issue with Elway (part Boxer), so we’re pretty used to it (?). I’ve woken up in the middle of the night asking Mr. Deni (who is asleep as well) “Did he shit in the bed? Did he?”. Probiotics are a way of life around here! 🙂

    Hiya Joe! I’ve been running like a maniac for 3 days. Puppy tormenting cats, puppy tormenting Gumbo, puppy tormenting Molly, puppy chasing whatever moves outside (dust particles, in particular). She eats like a horse and sleeps like a bear. Poops like one, too. 🙂 My daughter will be home in a couple of hours, looking forward to some relief!

    Riley, on Elway’s butt. 🙂


  27. Hi Joe,

    1) It is possible to see one day, Dark Matter in France?

    2) Any revelation planned by Robert Cooper or Brad Wright, concerning the end of the arc story of SGU? How it should be end?

    Think’s for answering!

  28. Books with dogs as the narrator…

    I know of a mystery series by Spencer Quinn, the first of which is titled “Dog On It”, where the narrator is a dog. I haven’t read any of them, but they get fairly high ratings at least on the B&N site.

    Rita Mae Brown also has a series in which a dog is the lead character, but I haven’t read any of her work so I can’t tell you if they’re any good. Also mysteries.

    I have to admit, I know pretty much nothing about the books in your reading list. We don’t seem to share much in the way of reading DNA.

  29. Good picture of the pups! Don’t you have any larger beds? They probably passed up the larger one to share this one, right?

    I haven’t heard of any of the books you listed but thanks for the suggestions. I’m reading “The Race” by Clive Clusser right now. It’s the first C. C. book I’ve read and I like it. I’m listening to “Shadows in Flight” by Orson Scott Card while I do my animal shelter work. Anything O. S. Card writes is good. My hubby recommends B. V. Larson, the Star Force Series.
    I’ll download Dark Matter #4 tomorrow. Sorry If I’m a little disjointed today, a migraine is looming.

    Speaking of migraines, PBmom how is Patrick feeling?

  30. @ Deni and @ Debra —
    One of the funniest dog stories I’ve ever read was about Cedric the farting boxer in James Herriot’s All Things Wise and Wonderful. It was quite descriptive. Laughed so hard I cried. Just hysterical… 😀

  31. @Tam Dixon:

    I’m reading “The Race” by Clive Clusser right now.

    I finished “The Race” in February and I enjoyed it. Of course, any book about flying vintage airplanes in an air race is bound to get my attention 😉 I was able to visualize most of the aircraft in the book due to hanging around the Vintage Area at AirVenture. I still had to look a couple of them up on the internet though.

    Having read Amelia Earhart’s biography, I can clearly see the parallels between her and Josephine…especially on their marriages and the complications of their relationships.

  32. I’m looking to expand my recreational reading horizons beyond SF, Fantasy, and Horror. So if you’ve got some non-genre suggestions, would love to hear ‘em.
    the masters of rome series by colleen mccullough is interesting.
    i (and someone else here) suggested the amelia peabody mysteries by elizabeth peters some time ago.
    if you like the jame bond movies, the origional novels by ian flemming are interesting. although they are a product of their time & -ist stuff (sexest & some raceist stuff) may not sit well.
    and the rest of the mystery series i like involve cats. that type of thing may not be of interest to you.

  33. Elizabeth Peters is fun. And I second the Ruth Downie series set in Roman Britain. Margaret Frazer’s Joliffe series set in the Middle Ages is good. Charles Todd writes two series, one based around a Scotland Yard detective named Ian Rutledge, and the other around an Army nurse named Bess Crawford, both set in the era of WWI and its aftermath. Dick Francis is good, and his son Felix seems set to carry on the family tradition.

  34. @ JeffW, Sparrowhawk and sylvia: Looks like you guys had an awesome meal! You make me wish I still lived in Chicago.

  35. @Pepper Smith: I have read “Dog On It” and it was fabulous. Any dog owner will recognize some of the things Chet does, and his explanations are hilarious. Definitely worth reading.

    While not from a dog’s point of view, Dean Koontz’s “Watchers” is about a very special dog. So good.

  36. I only heard abour Dark Matter late enough to Grab #4 will need to pick up 1,2,3 at later date. Quite impressed would love to see this universe fleshed out I’m imagining mass effect crossed with alien/prometheus with a sprinkle of firefly/serenity. Would love to see what the human position is like in galactic community and what alien races they are allies with/up against!
    please do more!!!

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