Interesting. That one’s been sitting on my shelf and I just can’t bring myself to pick it up. I really liked Sisters Brothers and really liked the setting and tone of Undermajordomo Minor (the plot didn’t really do it for me). French Exit just seems like such a different setting than any of his other books and one that I’m not quite as interested in. I haven’t read his first book Ablutions yet either, but I also have that on my shelf and have heard good things.
French Exit didn’t really appeal to me either, on the surface, but it’s a lightning quick read and some of his best character studies yet.
I’m in the middle of Max Hastings’ comprehensive examination of the Vietnam War with Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy 1945-1975. It covers everything from the end of World War II to the US pullout (I assume).
It’s surprisingly even-handed, though doesn’t shy away from the atrocities and horrible decision-making.
I’m about 60% into it and it’s taken me a couple weeks to get this far, but that’s because it’s so dense and I’m not a fast reader when it’s non-fiction like this.
I’m really impressed.
I’ve just started the third book in Fred Saberhagen’s Dracula Cycle: “An Old Friend of the Family”. I have been grabbing them pell mell for years and now have all of them and can read them in order. I find it amusing that Saberhagen had them optioned continually, just so no one could make movies based on them.
Also reading “Legion versus Phalanx” by Myke Cole, a military history book examining the two formations and why one succeeded and the other failed.
I haven’t read those in years! They definitely got weirder as time went on, but The Dracula Tape was such a fun read!
I just crashed through Expendable by James Alan Gardner (a local writer, who live(s/d?) in Waterloo, Ontario, where I’m based).
It was good! Surprisingly clever in a few ways, although the PoV character isn’t quite perfect, the book itself is a neat little thought experiment/sci-fi romp (basically, all of the Explorers in the Federation-equivalent are ugly, because it hurts morale less when ugly people die… so all the protags have disfiguring birth defects that the government very specifically refuses to fix because it always needs more Explorers). It’s a little too casual about some very non-casual things that happen, but still, I would recommend it as pretty good.
Next on the docket is either Nine Fox Gambit or The Three Body Problem. I will likely flip a coin.
I liked one of those a lot more than the other, but I don’t want to bias you.
OK, well, after finishing the Wheel of Time series I have some thoughts. First of all, the last three books, which were, as far as I can tell, written by Brandon Sanderson from notes left by Robert Jordan, are pretty damn good. They tie up pretty much all of the loose ends that anyone cares about in a very satisfying and at times genuinely surprising way. If I could recommend this series to people by saying “read the first three books and the last three books” I would. But I’m pretty sure that would result in a lot of very confused people.
What else, what else… OK, I read “The Dregs” series (Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom) by Leigh Bardugo, which are two books set in her “Grishaverse” a fantasy/steampunk world that draws a lot of inspiration from Russian folktales. I hadn’t read the main, foundational series set in this universe (the Grisha Trilogy?), so I feel like there was probably a lot of textural nuance. All in all, a pretty solid pair of fantasy caper novels… I might describe them as “Locke Lamora Lite” as they seem to be kind of a YA version of those books.
Another couple of books that I quite enjoyed were Daniel Price’s The Flight of The Silvers and The Song of The Orphans, two books in a planned trilogy. The premise is that a collection of seemingly random people all over the world are saved from some sort of apocalypse by mysterious interlopers from one of many possible futures, and taken to an alternate America where time-powered technology is commonplace (for example, a typical kitchen will have a device to restore food to a perfectly fresh state). The characters each begin to manifest what are essentially superpowers and, well, hijinks ensue. The story is pretty gripping, the characters are pretty likeable, and it partakes of superhero tropes without being overtly comic-booky or winkingly “meta” about the whole thing. I think the only downside is that they seem awfully long. Which I admit maybe sounds a little ridiculous coming from someone who was willing to read all 15,000 pages of the Wheel of Time, but there it is. All I know is that at various points in reading both books I would stop and say to myself, “Wow, that was a lot of story, I must be close to the end!” And then I’d look at the bottom of my Kindle screen and see that I had only read 35% or something like that. Which was very much the experience I had reading the Expanse novels.
I also read Steven Brust’s Good Guys, which is I think the first novel he’s written in a looooong time that isn’t part of his long-running Vlad Taltos fantasy series. It’s another one of those “there is magic among us and secret organizations that are duking it out for control of the magic-verse” or whatever novels. It’s saved from genericness by the main characters, who are refreshingly pragmatic about their abilities, and the book is written as a mystery, more or less, which keeps it interesting.
Stephen King’s The Outsider was one of his better works in a while… There are actually things that happen to characters that you care about that matter, which makes the stakes a little higher at the end. I’d say it’s upper-mid-level King. It’s got a lot of his minor foibles in it (Digressions, predictability) but many of the things that keep drawing me back to his writing as well.
Oh, wow, I was avoiding those after Jordan died, for all these years. I kept thinking, “posthumously co-authored books always suck,” so I just gave up on it. You can’t trust fan opinions, you can’t trust critic opinions. True, not my favorite series, but I still read the heck out of them. I’ll have to finish them off on your recommendation, now that I have a real opinion from a real person.
Inspired by the trailer for It Chapter 2, I began reading It. I think I’m in Chapter 3, it’s the crazy long chapter where everybody is being called to come back to Derry. It’s been very good so far, and I didn’t imagine myself as much of a Stephen King reader. The book really pulls you in, and I didn’t expect myself to be breathlessly anticipating the next shocking moment. I think this is the first horror novel I’ve read. I’m usually too much of a chicken.
Fair enough. I just started reading this because my friend really wanted me to, and dumped a lot of books on my lap. So, it was fine, I did it, and I kind of got into it. So, in turn, I dumped a lot of Terry Pratchett onto his lap. He never read a single one.
It’s always sad when you have to cut a friend out of your life.
I just finished Ninefox Gambit, and while not perfect, it is fantastic.
The best thing I can say about it is the level of faith the author had in their readers… so many terms just never explained, but it all hinges together so well. What is a bannermoth? How is it different from a cindermoth? Calendrical swords? Sure! Why not!
The ending was… imperfect. Two deus ex machina moments tied together is definitely one too many and possible two too many. But, that stated, damn if it wasn’t a great read.
(This is the hardest part about being a writer, for the record. I may never produce anything anywhere near that level of brilliant… doesn’t mean my stuff isn’t good, of course, but damn. Damn. That book…)
Anyway! I think I’m onto either The Three Body Problem or Scott Westerfield’s something-Empire-something series next (the book is upstairs and I am lazy). One or the other. My partner is currently reading Three Body Problem at the moment, and I was really unimpressed with the opening chapter (too gosh-dern depressing, as a physicist, to read about the Cultural Revolution), but I will try to muscle through it either with her or after she finishes it. We will see.
Ninefox is packed full of things that appeal to a Roger, but all that explanation-by-flashback at the ending… I think your reaction overall is pretty close to mine. These days a gosh-wow new idea isn’t enough to carry an SF book on its own, but it really helps when there’s an idea that good as well as decent characters and plotting and so on. (I voted for it first in that year’s Hugos.)
Three Body was a great big meh from me, but I’ll wait until you’ve either finished or given up before I go into more detail here. I liked Westerfeld’s Risen Empire/Killing of Worlds a great deal.
Brandon Sanderson is in Germany right now and I’d love to see him but heard of it too late, so didn’t get a ticket anymore and there are only 30 minutes before the signing for people without tickets.
Really not sure if it is worth to go there on this off chance especially with my work load the next 2 weeks
I’m taking a break from my year of reading women of colour. So far, I’ve read N.K. Jemisin’s excellent Broken Earth Trilogy, about survivors of environmental catastrophes who have the power to literally tear the world apart, and Valeria Luiselli’s Tell Me How It Ends, an emotionally charged essay about the experiences of child migrants crossing the US border (fun!). Coming up next will be a horror/gothic novel by Argentinian author, Mariana Enriquez: Things We Lost In The Fire and Luiselli’s book The Story of My Teeth., since I was so impressed by her writing.
For now though, I couldn’t resist dipping into I Still Dream by James Smythe, a thrilling and cinematic take on Artificial Intelligence Gone Bad.
currently reading the 2nd volume in Peter Ackroyd’s history of England: The Tudors - History of England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I.
Before that, read a Star Trek book (Architects of Infinity), a mystery thriller by Lisa Gardner (Never Tell), a Jasper Fforde book (Early Riser) and the final Penn Cage book by Greg Iles (Mississippi Blood).
All very good books.
I have re-read through most of the Discworld novels. All I have left to read is the Tiffany Aching books, I saved all of those for last. I’ve also been reading The Others Novels by Anne Bishop. Written in Red, Murder of Crows & Vision in Silver are the first three books in that. Very interesting and surprisingly amusing in places. Urban fantasy but in an alternate world similar to earth by very different in that humans are not the apex predator. Lastly just finished reading, today in fact, Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero and it is amazing and fantastic. I’m going to be starting another book of his soon called This Body Isn’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us which looks equally amazing. Meddling Kids was kind of a parody/horror/comedy book about a “group of four kids and a dog who solved mysteries and uncovered criminals who dressed up as monsters” growing up, being kind of messed up and reuniting. It’s good. VERY good. Don’t sleep on this one.
Yes!! I recommend his previous book, The Supernatural Enhancements as well, which I picked up on a whim and instantly loved. I’ve picked up TBIBEFTBOU, but haven’t read it yet.