Book 2 (of 52) – Billy Summers

Billy Summers – Stephen King

A contract killer takes one last job, one which has him decamping in place for months prior to the hit.  After the job is complete, he realizes that he was part of the contract and was not meant to survive.  As he plots his revenge, he makes a new friend, a young woman chewed up and spit out by life, who accompanies him on his travel west.  Can Billy get what is owed him while keeping his new friend safe and out of the life?

Billy Summers, the latest from Stephen King, is a straight crime story, aside from one instance of mystical nonsense which could have been dropped completely without impacting the story at all, which is a departure from his work.  This is a side of King that I have not had much experience with, aside from his work for the Hard Case Crime imprint, but I like it and I’ll certainly be on the lookout for more if it.

Prolific Authors – 14 Books

Way back in December of 2011 (and again every other December since), we’ve taken a look at the authors I have read the most, dating back to high school.  This year, since I’ve far surpassed my reading output of any year on record, I thought it would be nice to take a deeper dive into those books I’ve read through August. Since our last check-in, I’ve read an additional 60 books from 54 different authors. There shouldn’t be much movement over the past 2 years, but it’s time to take another look and see if my “favorite” authors have changed much in that time span.  We continue today with the two authors I’ve read 14 times.

Jeffery Deaver

In 1999, the first entry of Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme series, The Bone Collector, was adapted into a film starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie.  Around that time, I picked up a paperback copy, which I read in 2000.  I slowly added additional titles as I would find them as remainders, picking up new hard covers for $3 or $4.

The Vanished Man – Jeffery Deaver

Things increased in 2015, when I started picking up titles on deals through the Amazon Kindle store, leading to 10 additional books added to my read bookshelf, with The Cold Moon being the most recent prior to the start of this countdown.

Stephen King

I first read King’s work during my freshman year of high school.  In fact, I remember reading Pet Sematary after finishing my Biology final at the end of freshman year, waiting for the class to be dismissed.  My total reached 9 novels by 1993, but then college and other pursuits got in the way and King fell out of my favor.

Stephen King – 11/22/63

That changed in 2012, when the release of 11/22/63 brought me back in to the King fold.  I’ve added 5 of his more current work, most of which has been through the Hard Case Crime imprint, which limited, but did not completely remove, the horror elements.

Prolific Authors – 2 Books

Way back in December of 2011 (and again every other December since), we’ve taken a look at the authors I have read the most, dating back to high school.  This year, since I’ve far surpassed my reading output of any year on record, I thought it would be nice to take a deeper dive into those books I’ve read through August. Since our last check-in, I’ve read an additional 60 books from 54 different authors. There shouldn’t be much movement over the past 2 years, but it’s time to take another look and see if my “favorite” authors have changed much in that time span.  Today, we start things off with the 35 authors I’ve read twice.

Max Barry

An Australian author, I’ve enjoyed the two novels of his I’ve read, Jennifer Government and Company.

Laura Caldwell

I have no idea how I came across the work of this local author, but I must have enjoyed it enough to go back for seconds.  Unfortunately, she passed away last year.

The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier & Clay – Michael Chabon

Michael Chabon

Winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, the most recent of  the two works of his I’ve read.  I have another, Wonder Boys, waiting in the to read pile, so he rise up some day.

Matthew V. Clemens

The co-author, with Max Allan Collins, of the final two chapters of the Reeder and Rogers trilogy.

Felicia Day

The first author here that I’ve happened to meet in person.

Cameron Dokey

She makes the list based on two entries in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series.

Diane Duane

Living in Ireland, she is responsible for a Star Trek: The Next Generation book and a Spider-Man novel, of all things.

Warren Ellis

The comic writer, currently in exile after being called out for abusing women, makes the list thanks to two prose novels.

David Fisher Continue reading →

Book 10 (of 52) – Later

Later – Stephen King

Later, Stephen King’s third effort for the Hard Case Crime imprint, tells the tale of a young man who has the ability to see and interact with the dead, at least for a few days after their passing.  Unfortunately for him, when he is forced to use his “talents” to help his mother save her struggling business, he exposes himself to her girlfriend, an unstable cop with IA on her tail.  As he grows up, she twice kidnaps him, looking to use him to her advantage, first to stop a serial bomber who had just committed suicide and, finally, to set herself up with a huge drug score after killing her dealer.

The horror elements that one usually associates with Stephen King mostly take a back seat here, although there is a mysterious ghost/demon that shows up from time to time, as King once again uses this imprint to tell a different kind of story.  I’ve enjoyed this side of King’s work in the past and will look forward to more of it in the future.

Midseason Review – Sundays

With the advent of winter premieres, the start of the premium cable network shows, and with February sweeps around the corner, it’s time to revisit my thoughts from the beginning of the season and look ahead at what’s to come for Sunday nights.

7:00

Batwoman – The Arrowverse expands once again, with this entry coming out of last year’s crossover event.  Ruby Rose puts on the cowl to protect the streets of Gotham.

Outside of the Crisis On Infinite Earths crossover episode, I haven’t actually gotten around to watching this yet, though the episodes are piling up on the DVR.

7:30

God Friended Me – The latest “do-gooder has a direct line from God” returns for a second season after being surprisingly entertaining.

I’m still enjoying this, but I am a little concerned that they’ve already leaned hard into the “keep the obvious couple apart for dubious reasons” trope.

8:00

Supergirl – The fifth season sees the return of Jeremy Jordan and the exit of Mehcad Brooks.

We’ll see how the outcome of the Crisis crossover impacts the show moving forward, as it looks to have a completely new status quo.

9:00

Silicon Valley – The Pied Piper gang returns for their final season.

The show got an honorable wrap up, with the crew finally succeeding, but forced to kill their own creation for the good of the world.

Shameless – Season 10, the first without Emmy Rossum, may be a bit of a stretch.  But, I guess if I’ve watched this long, why stop now?

I am slowly working through the season, which is turning out to be a bit of a slog without Emmy Rossum.  It’s been renewed for an eleventh, and final, season, so I may as well keep going with the finish line in sight.

New entries hitting the screen this winter include:

Doctor Who – Jodie Whitaker returns for her second go-around as the Doctor.

Homeland – The Showtime drama returns for its final season.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist – Jane Levy returns as a coder who starts to hear people’s inner musical dialogue.

The Outsider – Based on a Stephen King book, the new HBO drama stars Jason Bateman.

Avenue 5 – A sci-fi comedy from the creators of Veep.

The Decade In Books

The 2010s have drawn to a close and its time to take a look back at the previous decade. Today, we move on to books, specifically the 229 books I read between 2010 and 2019. This decade coincides completely with my starting the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge, which I have never really come close to completing.

2015 was my best year, with 31 books completed.  2010 was by far the worst year in terms of finished books, with only 7.  Over the course of 10 years, those 229 books totaled over 77,000 pages.


152 different authors contributed to the books I’ve read this decade, 35 of which I’ve read multiple times.  The ghost writer for Richard Castle leads the way and is the only author I read more than 10 offerings from over the last 10 years.  The most surprising entry is Erle Stanley Gardner, who passed away in 1970. Continue reading →

Prolific Authors 2019

Way back in December of 2011 (and again in the Decembers of 2013, 2015, and 2017), we took a look at the authors I have read the most, dating back to high school. Since our last check-in, I’ve read an additional 48 books from 50 different authors. There shouldn’t be much movement over the past 2 years, but it’s time to take another look and see if my “favorite” authors have changed much in that time span. Once again, we will be limiting ourselves to the now 70 authors from whom I have read more than one book.

 

Author Name Current Total 2017 Total Difference
Nancy Holder 16 15 1

Nancy Holder adds 1 new book over the past 2 years to maintain her lead.

Richard Castle 15 14 1

The writer (or writers) using the nom de plume of the main character from the television show Castle sees a slight increase, despite the show being off the air for well over 3 years now.

Stephen King 13 12 1
Greg Rucka 13 13 0
Christopher Golden 12 12 0
Brad Meltzer 12 11 1

Very little movement in the next tier the past 2 years.

Jeffery Deaver 11 8 3

We round out the double digits with Deaver, who will be going up again soon, as I’m currently reading one of his books. Continue reading →

Book 13 (of 52) – The Colorado Kid

The Colorado Kid – Stephen King

The Colorado Kid, a short novel by Stephen King, is a mystery about a mystery in a small, New England town.  A young intern at the town’s small paper, finally earning the trust of her 2 bosses, is told the tale of a body that had washed up and was found by two local kids.  The man, eventually identified, was from Colorado, where he was seen the day before.  How did he get back east without anyone noticing he had left Colorado?  How did he die?  Why did he come?

The questions abound, and are not to be found within the pages of King’s first contribution to Hard Case Crime.  It’s an interesting mystery, and there probably isn’t a satisfying answer to be found.

 

2018: The Year In Movies

Movie_Reel_22

The loss of my annual long December vacation saw a slight downturn in movie watching for me, with my lowest total since 1988.  I managed to watch 55 movies last year, my seventh consecutive year under 100 and my lowest total since 1993.  Again, many things contributed to this, chiefly the insane amount of TV I’ve been watching, the greater effort made towards going out for walks, and the awful amount of time I spend either at work or getting to and from work.

Here’s a look back at the first 50 movies I did manage to watch last year and what recollection, if any, I have of them. The films are listed in the order I saw them.

The French Connection (1971)
Hailed as one of the best films of the 70s, I can’t say it plays well here in the 21st century.

Cobra (1986)
Somehow I missed this Stallone “classic” back in the day.

Table 19 (2017)
The misfit table at a wedding bands together to settle scored, both old and new.

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle (2017)
The classic board game moves to the video age in this sequel.

Patriots Day (2017)
Mark Wahlberg plays the hero of the Boston Marathon bombing.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)
It certainly took me a while to see the latest installment in this franchise.

Life (2017)
A team of scientists find proof that life once existed on Mars, potentially dooming life on Earth in the process.

Snatched (2017)
Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn go on vacation together and hijinks ensue.

People Like Us (2012)
When his father dies, Chris Pine learns that he had another family that needs some help.

The Layover (2017)
Two friends compete over a man when a hurricane turns their flight in to a road trip. Continue reading →

Prolific Authors 2017

Way back in December of 2011 (and again in the Decembers of 2013 and 2015), we took a look at the authors I have read the most, dating back to high school. Since our last check-in, I’ve read an additional 60 books from 47 different authors. There shouldn’t be much movement over the past 2 years, but it’s time to take another look and see if my “favorite” authors have changed much in that time span. Once again, we will be limiting ourselves to the now 54 authors from whom I have read more than one book.

Author Name Current Total 2015 Total Difference
Nancy Holder 15 13 2

A new leader in the clubhouse, as Nancy Holder adds 2 new additions over the past 2 years to put her out front.

Richard Castle 14 9 5

The second largest increase (or largest for someone I had read before) goes to the writer (or writers) using the nom de plume of the main character from the television show Castle.  I’m guessing this total will stay pretty static, with the show off the air for over a year now.

Greg Rucka 13 13 0
Christopher Golden 12 12 0
Stephen King 12 12 0

These three round out the top 5 with absolutely no movement over the past 2 years.

Brad Meltzer 11 9 2
Jeffery Deaver 8 5 3

Slight increases for both of these authors, with more to come.  Meltzer’s next book is already pre-ordered, while there are a few unread Deaver works on my Kindle. Continue reading →