AJAX BELL

Author of the Queen City Boys books


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50 Books: Book 33

Voice Of The Fire
Alan Moore

Voice of the Fire, Alan Moore

I have been waiting to read this book for a while.  It's been on the "to read' shelf for months.  I wonder if the drown out nature of waiting to read it raised my expectations too much.  I love Moore's comic work, I expected great things from a novel.  Although this wasn't so much a novel as  collection of short stories, with entwined elements that all took place in the same location.  Most weren't that engaging or interesting as character developing short stories.  Indeed, I often found myself wishing the story was a comic, so as to have the pictures to go with it.  Overall pretty disappointing.  I only finished it because I didn't have anything else to read at the time.

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50 Books: Book 32

Necklace of Kisses
Francesca Lia Block

Necklace of Kisses, Francesca Lia Block

The Dangerous Angels series by Miss Block are some of my all time favorite books.  I even have a tattoo of the line the series is named after.  These books really spoke to me in my late teens and early 20s.  Describing a fantasy life that was exactly what I'd like.  Even the later books as the main characters grew up and the stories were about their own teenagers rang true and sweet.  The universe of the stories is magical realism, set in LA, with a bunch of misfit kids making lives for themselves that are outside the usual societal confines.  Adventures are had and love is found with a healthy does of genie lamp wishing and other magical bits. So imagine my surprise when I'm in a bookstore in Philadelphia and I find a Block book I haven't before seen, and it's int he Dangerous Angels universe!  Indeed it's story for grown up women like me, the main character Weetzie Bat as she navigates her way into middle age!  Hurrah.

The book was exactly what I've come to expect from Block in this series, funny, lightly and simply written, with a healthy does of fantasy and reality mixed.  The themes are deeper than their treatment, but in this universe it works well.  I'm so glad I found this and really, I hope the series goes on with Weetzie's children again and more fully resolving her relationship with her man.  Happiness is unexpectedly finding a book you'd didn't know you wished was written until it appears.

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50 Books: Book 31

War for the Oaks, Emma Bull

This was great urban fantasy dealio.  Fairies and elves etc. exist and come plague a rock chick in Minneapolis. It was fun and all to read, but i have to admit pretty dated.  The descriptions of the clothes were all Cyndi Lauper and Prince circa 1983.  So, yeah, I enjoyed the story, but I also learned a lesson from it.  Keep the descriptions in your own stories as timeless as possible, lest th readers of the future get their hand son it and think, "She's wearing what?!?!??" If you like the fairy magics and the madern urband fantasy bits, I rec this highly, though, despite the clothing.

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50 Books: Book 30

Suicide Lane (working title), Tim McIntire

As yet unpublished manuscript, but man I want you to be able to read this fucking book. It's so amazing. (HAHAHAHAHA, sorry, Timmy, I couldn't help it.) It's Carl Hiaasen-esque and utterly hilarious.  A hapless, alcoholic stand up comedian, ends up in Tucson trapped in a murder mystery involving redneck bikers, shady club owners, a Latino cop with a really hot wife and an insane cast of characters who make each absurd scenario the protag finds himself in even better.  It's punchy, and sparsely written in style worthy of Elmore Leonard. Definitely one of the most amusing books I've read this year and I"m not just saying to flatter the author 'cause he's my pal.  It's really damn good stuff. Let's hope it sees print so you guys can read it too.

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50 Books: Book 29

Doomsday Book
Connie Willis

Doomsday Book, Connie Willis

I don't think I can ever say enough good things about Connie Willis.  She achieves hilarious, easily readable science fiction with social commentary that is high-handed or over bearing.  This book is about Oxford university in an alternate timeline where time travel is possible.  History PhD students travel back to research and live in the times they study. There's very real, genuinely likable characters here, telling two parallel stories, one in the middle ages and one in the near future where viral plagues have decimated the population and are still popping up. A good introduction to Willis if you haven't read her before, though To Say Nothing of the Dog which takes place in the same universe is also excellent.

Damn, it's already August.  Am I going to manage 21 more books before the end of the year? ACK!  Maybe I should change my own rules and start including comic books, then I'll surely make it.

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50 Books: Book 28

Rude Mechanicals
Kage Baker

Rude Mechanicals, Kage Baker

A novella in Baker's tales of The Company.  Probably best read if you're already familiar with the series, but it does stand on its own.  Company operative Lewis and Joseph are in 1930s Hollywood and mired in comedy of errors trying to get a script and a diamond and meeting all sorts of real life players from the era.  Baker's usual good work but it really left me wanting more Company stories to read but luckily there's tons of those.

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50 Books: Book 27

Bad Move
Linwood Barclay

Bad Move, Linwood Barclay

The story of a sci-fi writer who moves his family from a funky, urban neighborhood to the suburbs for their safety and then gets caught up in real estate and murder scandal.  It's fairly hilarious mostly because the main character just keeps making the worst choices possible and getting himself in deeper and deeper, but he does it in this way where it's just really human, and really male and still totally absurd.  It's a book for reading on an airplane or a day at the beach, amusing enough but fairly forgettable.

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