Current Reading: Sharra, Walton, Ballairs

I can’t believe it’s September already, where did (hot, miserable) Summer go?

The Killer Angels by Michael Sharra – historical fiction based on fact. This novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1975. It tells the story of the four days of the Battle of Gettysburg, beginning on June 30, 1863, as the troops of both the Union and the Confederacy move into the valley around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and continuing on July 1, July 2, and July 3, when the battle was fought. The story is character-driven and told from the viewpoint of various protagonists. A film adaptation of the novel, titled Gettysburg, was released in 1993. I liked this one a lot.

An Informal History of the Hugo Awards by Jo Walton – non-fiction. When she says in the title of this book that this is an informal history, what that means is that it’s a combination of the lists of winners and runners-up plus her opinions on what won, what she thinks should have won (in most cases books by female authors) and then comments by Rich Horton and Gardner Dozois, both of whom’s opinions I value. Interesting, and I wound up putting several things on my library hold list and buying a few things too.

The Dead Shall Be Raised by George Bellairs – mystery.  This is one of Bellair’s shorter novels, though none of his are long by today’s standards. In this one, a body is discovered in the peat while Home Guard troops are digging a trench during maneuvers. The remains are twenty years old, and cause a reopening of a murder case from that time. Inspector Littlejohn happens to be on the scene, as he’s visiting friends during Christmastime, and the locals are only too happy to have a Scotland Yard man there to help them out. Good atmosphere, pretty good plot, interesting characters. I enjoyed it.

How about you?
What have you been reading lately?

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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17 Responses to Current Reading: Sharra, Walton, Ballairs

  1. Jeffrey Meyerson says:

    Of course my reading has been down to mostly short stories as we’re still in St. Petersburg until tomorrow. (Currently reading an O. Henry collection, as the stories are short, fast reads.) I’m also reading and enjoying a book you recommended, PLANETSIDE by Michael Mammay, military SF and a first novel. I’m halfway through it. I did read Mary Robinette Kowal’s WORD PUPPETS and Edward D. Hoch’s CHALLENGE THE IMPOSSIBLE collections, as well as Colin Cotterill’s DON’T EAT ME before we left.

    I purposely didn’t take most of the free books in the Bouchercon tote bag, excepting Lou Berney’s NOVEMBER ROAD. There were other new authors I will be looking out for when I get home – there is only so much room in the suitcase. Big thanks to Angela Crider Neary, I got an ARC of Bill’s final Sheriff Dan Rhodes book (coming in February), the appropriately named THAT OLD SCOUNDREL DEATH.

    I’ve read and very much enjoyed THE KILLER ANGELS – I’ve been interested in Gettysburg since the ’60s – and I read about 100 pages of the Walton book before we left.

    • I’ll be interested in your thoughts on the ending of PLANETSIDE. I’m very far behind on Catterill, not sure why. I have several paperbacks on the shelf. So you got an ARC of the final Crider. I await your review. I think it will make me sad to read it.

      I’m planing on reading Sharra’s son’s first Civil War book soon, A BLAZE OF GLORY. It was the comments of Dozois and Horton that made the Walton book for me.

  2. Patti Abbott says:

    Reading JULIET, NAKED after seeing the movie. Quite a bit different, of course, and I am always amazed at how little character development a movie can do compared to a novel. Finished AFTERMATH by Robinson, which was very good, if very scary. Reading MIDDLEMEN by Jim Gavin, which is so-so.

    • The age old discussion of book vs. film. It seems to me the book is always superior, unless scenery is the major element. Certainly, you’re right about character coming through in a book that can build it over time as opposed to what is shown on screen.

  3. I read KILLER ANGELS many years ago and loved it. Many people consider KILLER ANGELS the best Civil War novel ever. And, I also read Jo Walton’s AN INFORMAL HISTORY OF THE HUGOS. It’s an unusual book that’s bound to generate a lot of controversy. I’ve been trying to get caught up on animated movies over the weekend. I watched a little of various NFL games including the Buffalo Bills debacle in Baltimore where the Bills got spanked 47-3. Could be a long season…

    • Jeffrey Meyerson says:

      I didn’t see any of Eli and the Giants laying another egg in the Meadowlands, but I did get to see the Panthers take out the hated Cowboys.

    • We watched a lot of football over the weekend, a couple of college games Saturday and two pro games yesterday. The Seahawks looked lousy but still would have won but for a terrible call which gave Denver a TD towards the end of the game. After a break, we watched the second half of the Bears-Packers game, the ending of which was amazing.

      I have library books coming in faster then I can read them. I’m working on John Varley’s IRONTOWN BLUES now.

  4. tracybham says:

    I read a children’s book by Hilary McKay, SAFFY’S ANGEL, from 2001. And then I read the 2nd novel about Lew Archer by Ross Macdonald, THE DROWNING POOL. So that we could watch the film adaptation with Paul Newman on Filmstruck.

    I just finished THE DEMOLISHED MAN by Alfred Bester last night. Liked it a lot. I haven’t decided what to read next but I do have Jo Walton’s INFORMAL HISTORY OF THE HUGOS so I might start that.

    • I have liked the Ross McDonald books I’ve read, maybe 5 of them. I should read more. I think the last I read was THE ZEBRA-STRIPED HEARSE. I don’t know what Filmstruck is. Okay, I looked it up and know.s I suppose it’s one of the many extra-cost film streaming (non cable) thingies. My TV, though new, can’t find my computer to do that stuff. The Bester is pretty polarizing, people seem to either really like it or dislike it strongly. Glad you liked it.

  5. Jerry House says:

    I enjoyed Robert McCammon’s latest suspense novel THE LISTENER, in which a young black man tries to rescue a ten-year-old white girl from three psychopaths in 1934 Louisiana. A little bit slow at the start but the pace picked up pretty soon into it to the breathtaking finish. My FFB this week was Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin’s DANNY DUNN, SCIENTIFIC DETECTIVE. Not as good as others in the kid’s series, but still fairly enjoyable, especially with several characters going against the stereotypes of the day.

    I read three graphic novels this week. GENERATIONS is the first GN from Flavia Biondi to be translated to English. A young gay man returns to his home town and eventually comes to terms with himself and his family. A moving and hopeful tale. Kwanza Osajyefo,s BLACK imagines a world only a small percentage of blacks — and no whites — have superpowers. An uncompromising look at race relations in America. And SPENCER & LOCKE by David Pepose answers the question of what would Calvin and Hobbes look like if Calvin grew up to be a hard-nosed copy and Hobbes became his adult imaginary best friend. In this reimagining, Calvin becomes Locke. Hobbes, no longer a tiger, is a huge, fierce imaginary panther. And little Suzie becomes Sophie Jenkins, the battered corpse who shows up on page 2.

    The majority of my week was spend reading various short stories — several Jules de Grandin adventures from WEIRD TALES, a number of tales I sampled from collections by F. Paul Wilson, Agatha Christie, and John Connolly, and some stories I plucked from Stephen King’s new anthology FLIGHT OR FRIGHT.

    Coming up this week: more short stories and most likely some Idon’tknowwhat.

    I really have to get to THE KILLER ANGELS (which I’ve had since the paperback was first issued) and the Walton book.

    Have a great week, my friend.

    • I wished, as I read your FFB, that I had access to that Danny Dunn book, but other than spending a bunch of cash at ABE there’s no way.

      Don’t quote me, Jerry, but I am getting so sick of fluid genderism, gender politics, race politics, sexual accusation politics and the like that it all just turns me off, and now I avoid it. Just give me a simple, straightforward story, without a bunch of labels cluttering things up and making everybody mad. A black woman loses a tennis match and immediately (like a spoiled child) plays the “I’m a Black Woman being treated unfairly” card. Bah.

      KILLER ANGELS is worth the reading time.

  6. Steve Oerkfitz says:

    Liked Killer Angels a lot. Read The Informal History of the Hugos. Generated a lot of things to read or reread. At least she admits her prejudices up front such as not liking Philip Dick. She also is very fond of CJ Cherryh and Lois Bujold neither of whom In find readable.
    Am reading the new Stephen Booth Fall Down Dead. Booth is very similar to Peter Robinson. Also reading short story collections-The Other Passenger by John Kier Cross-a lot like John Collier or Roald Dahl and Nightflyers by George RR Martin.
    The Danny Dunn books? I thought them terrible when I was a kid, can’t imagine picking one up now.

    • I agree that Walton did admit her prejudices, I just happen to disagree with many of them. The book was worth reading for the comments by Dozois and Horton. I have not been able to get into Martin, except his Tuf stories.

  7. Evan Lewis says:

    THE KILLER ANGELS is a great book. Ted Turner’s movie version, unfortunately, is loaded with overacting, and the music is so dramatic it becomes boring.

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