Here's where I post my thoughts on the last dozen books I've either read or attempted to read.
updated: 13 july 2017

Assassin's Apprentice

Assassin's Apprentice (book 1 of The Farseer trilogy) • Robin Hobb

This one's over 20 years old, but I finally decided to give this one a go. The story of a young royal bastard who eventually is groomed into becoming an assassin for King Shrewd, his grandfather. Pretty quickly, I discovered that Robin Hobb is an eloquent writer and she takes her time with the story. The characters are interesting which is good because there's not a lot of action per se. In fact, of the assassin's arts, young Fitz, our hero, mainly focuses on poisoning. So this sword-and-sorcery book has almost non-existent "sword." Still, it was captivating enough to read it all the way through. Don't think I'll continue, though.

finished 3 July 2017 Amazon


A Discourse in Steel

A Discourse in Steel • Paul S. Kemp

This is the second tale of Egil (big dude, carries hammers to crush little dudes) and Nix (sneaky thief who dabbles in magical artifacts). They get caught up in some shenanigans with a local crime guild and wreak havoc. Just the right thing to read when I wanted something light and sword-and-sorcery-ish to wade through.

finished 26 May 2017 Amazon




Annihilation • Jeff Vandermeer

Four women, known only by their occupations of psychologist, anthropologist, surveyor, and biologist, comprise the twelfth expedition into the mysterious Area X. Each previous expedition has met with different fates. The first reported an Edenic landscape, the 2nd in mass suicides, the 3rd ended in a hail of gunfire, etc. With the psychologist as the de facto leader, our narrator is the biologist. They're on a mission to map the terrain, record all observations, and eventually report back. But what they find is initially odd, then gets stranger and stranger and more and more menacing. It's a cool, odd, story that kept me turning pages quickly. It's the first of a trilogy known as the Southern Reach. I'll continue.

started 25 april 2017, finished 2 May 2017 Amazon


The Desert of Souls

The Desert of Souls • Howard Andrew Jones

While browsing online, I came across this book and whatever site happens to mention it, has good things to say about it. So, in the mood to try a sword-and-sorcery tale based on ancient Persian culture and legends, I gave this one a shot. Here's a bit from the flap copy:
In 8th century Baghdad, a stranger pleads with the vizier to safeguard the bejeweled tablet he carries, but he is murdered before he can explain. Charged with solving the puzzle, the scholar Dabir soon realizes that the tablet may unlock secrets hidden within the lost city of Ubar, the Atlantis of the sands. When the tablet is stolen from his care, Dabir and Captain Asim are sent after it, and into a life and death chase through the ancient Middle East.
The story is narrated by Captain Asim, a likable warrior in the house the vizier, Jaffar. I almost lost interest somewhere in the first third of the story but pressed on regardless and was soon hooked anew. It's a well-written tale infused with the culture of ancient Persia. I enjoyed the writing, the story and the well-drawn characters. You could tell that the author had done a lot of research into this time period and it paid off.

started 8 april 2017, finished 25 april 2017 Amazon


The Hike

The Hike • Drew Magary

Pretty sure I saw this one mentioned in the NYT Book Review and I snapped it up. Then, not even remembering the details of the review and not bothering to read the jacket copy (it's in hardcover), I set to reading this tale. It's a wild, outlandish, modern odyssey of a story with our hero Ben deciding to take a walk since he has some hours to kill before a business meeting. He's checked into some bucolic hotel and walks out the back towards the woods. When he stumbles across what seems to be the aftermath of a murder by people who don't seem quite human, he makes a run for it and becomes epically lost. Things get stranger from there. The story is propulsive, horrific, fun and just a cool excursion. I read the book (it's short) in just under 5 days -- which is quick for me. Good ending too.

Hey. So anyway, after I read the book, I then read the jacket flap and was glad I'd waited. It was a helluva lot more fun going into this story completely in the dark from the get-go. I hate when the copy gives too much away. But that's me.

started 4 april 2017, finished 8 april 2017 Amazon


The Soul of an Octopus

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness
• Sy Montgomery

Hey! A fun book (with pictures) about octopuses! And octopuses is the correct plural form since the root word is from Greek, not Latin. The author spends a lot of time at the New England Aquarium and gets to know several Giant Pacific octopuses. She also learns to scuba dive so she can observe them in the wild as well. At barely 250 pages, this is a great introduction to a fascinating animal. Among other things I learned that octopuses taste with their skin; most of their neurons are not in the brains, but in their arms; they are very strong -- one sucker might lift 30 pounds, and that they would be crazy-expensive pets.

finished 29 March 2017 Amazon


Blue Sea Burning

Blue Sea Burning (The Chronicles of Egg, Book 3) • Geoff Rodkey

Another in a long line of books I've been reading aloud (in this case to my daughter). We've enjoyed the story and got a number of chuckles out of it. Our hero, Egg, has to deal with pirates, imprisonment, battles at sea, siblings who are much less than perfect, and jealousy. He comes out all right. We've enjoyed this trilogy.

finished 29 March 2017 Amazon



The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet • Becky Chambers

For a little while I was listening to some GetBooked podcasts from BookRiot. They seemed to keep recommending this one. They had also recommended The Rook which I read last January and which was excellent. But this one was not as strong. The story concerned a disparate crew of a space tug whose job was to create worm-hole tunnels through space. The crew was a mix of humans and few other sentient species along with an AI. Easy to read, but my main problem with it was the meandering, non-propulsive plot. Not exactly a page-turner, more a sci-fi piece concerning some interpersonal (and interspecies) relationships aboard a spaceship. It was interesting enough to finish, but I confess to some skimming in the final quarter.

finished 28 March 2017 Amazon


The Fall of the House of Cabal

The Fall of the House of Cabal • Jonathan L Howard

This fifth outing of the necromancer Johannes Cabal, along with his brother Horst, a vampire, is much of what I've come to expect from the series: wit, demons, murder, excitement, and fun. I love the dry wit that's littered throughout the text. And in this go-round, the plot got off to a slow-ish start, but it wasn't long before it really kicked into gear and I was grinning and quickly turning pages until the very end. I think I need to read more by this author.

started 11 February 2017, finished 5 March 2017 Amazon


Ready Player One

Ready Player One • Ernest Cline

This one's a favorite of my son's so he said I should read it. Set in a bleak near-future world, the only fun anyone seems to have is within a virtual reality world(s) called the OASIS. It's in the OASIS that high-schooler Wade Watts spends all his time, dreaming of finding three keys left behind by the recently departed creator of the OASIS, James Halliday. And Halliday was a kid in the 80s, so knowledge of pop-culture from the 80s is both important to the plot and a big part of the fun in this book. So, basically it a virtual-reality quest tale with some real-world danger attached. And a bit of romance. Should be a wicked cool movie that Spielberg makes out of it. I'm just glad I read the book first before the internet got all spoilery all over it. (Sometimes it's good to ignore the internet).

finished 10 February 2017 Amazon


The Rook

The Rook • Daniel O'Malley

From the back cover description:
Myfanwy Thomas awakes in a London park surrounded by dead bodies. With her memory gone, her only hope of survival is to trust the instructions left in her pocket by her former self. She quickly learns that she is a Rook, a high-level operative in a secret agency that protects the world from supernatural threats. But there is a mole inside the organization and this person wants her dead.

As Myfanwy battles to save herself, she encounters a person with four bodies, a woman who can enter her dreams, children transformed into deadly fighters, and an unimaginably vast conspiracy. Suspenseful and hilarious, The Rook is an outrageously inventive debut for readers who like their espionage with a dollop of purple slime.

So, yeah, this is pretty whacked. And a lot of fun. Not really a spy novel or a fantasy or a SF novel but sort of a mash-up of all three, The Rook is hard to classify and completely entertaining. It's just a plain old good time in the realm of the weird and fantastic and occasionally downright silly. I didn't realize that it a sequel was in the works as I was reading it, but when it presents itself, I will quickly be adding it to my To Be Read list. Recommended for those looking for something completely different.

started 25 December 2016, finished 30 January 2017 Amazon


Almost Silent

Almost Silent • Jason

Almost wordless (it's a graphic novel and using 'novel' very loosely). But cool and witty, nonetheless. But, admittedly, out there on the fringes.

finished 31 December 2016