Monday, March 14, 2011

Nacho's Book Club: Episode 3

Welcome to the third episode of my reading list - you can see the last list of books here.

Note: My goal is to highlight a few books that I've read (and I plan to continue this feature periodically) and briefly give my opinion on them. After I read a book, I keep an Excel spreadsheet with a brief summary (about 1 sentence) and three "scores" (fun, pace, and scholar). Fun is self-explanatory, how much fun was it to read the book? After all, if you are reading for pleasure that's usually one of the most important factors! Pace, on the other hand, is my attempt to quantify the "speed" of the book. A real page turner will have a great Pace score while a denser novel will not. Want a book for the beach, look for a high pace score. Want a book for a rainy day while sitting on your porch, perhaps a lower pace will be the ideal speed. Finally, Scholar is an attempt to numerical categorize any possibility of learning within the book. If a book is full of factual information, despite being fiction, it will earn a high score here. Finally, I give an Final score which is basically my assessment of the book as a whole. The Final score is not meant to be an average of the three previous categories (as there are many different aspects of a book that add up to a good, or not-so-good, novel!).

The Atlantis Code
By Charles Brokaw

The Atlantis Code borrows heavily from the basic themes of The Da Vinci Code.  Once again, the Catholic Church is embroiled in a mystery - complete with the requisite hire hit men, power craving clergyman, and a pair of damsels (only one of which finds herself consistently in duress).  I ended up reading the entire novel (428 pages in hardcover) in a single day - so obviously the pacing was there.  It's a great read for when you want an action-mystery novel that won't tax your brain...I suppose you'd call this a beach-going book - though I still have snow on the ground at my house so I won't be sitting outside reading quite yet.

Fun:  8
Pace:  10
Scholar:  5
Final grade:  81

Four Blind Mice
By James Patterson

Although the novel was a decent murder mystery, it was a bit too gruesome to be considered truly "fun."  I tend to agree with most of the reviews on Amazon for Four Blind Mice, the book has great action but tends to leave a few too many details unexplained to be truly a great, tightly-woven mystery.  The Atlantis Code (described above) is a much lighter mystery - even though there is plenty of killing and harrowing situations in both.

Fun:  5
Pace:  8
Scholar:  2
Final Grade:  80

The Dante Club
By Matthew Pearl

I wanted to like this book.  It was a historical fiction (albeit based on Dante's work that I've never read), and I typically enjoy historical fiction.  However, the author was a Yale Law graduate who for the first half of the book seemed more interested in showing off his vocabulary and less interested in concocting a tale worth reading.  However, I did stick with it (though it took me about 8 months total) and the ending of the book almost made up for the beginning.  Unfortunately, any book that takes me eight months to read isn't worth of a high score.

Fun:  2
Pace:  5
Scholar:  9
Overall:  40

I hope you enjoyed the look at another group of books.  Once summer vacation gets here (gotta love the professor schedule), I'm sure I'll have some more books to highlight!  If you have any suggestions for me, feel free to leave them in the comments below!


AdamE said...

I would recommend James Rollins Map of Bones if you enjoy historical adventure books.

Rod (Padrographs) said...

I agree with you about Pattersons book. I stopped reading him when his books had a with on them. You can see what I have read at

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