readings
Here's where I post my thoughts on the last dozen books I've either read or attempted to read.
updated: 11 april 2017

 
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

 

 

 

Uprooted

Uprooted • Naomi Novak

Finally. A fantasy that I was looking forward to picking up again every time I put it down. This was an engrossing tale of a teenage girl, Agniezska, who finds herself unwittingly apprenticed to a wizard. Together they battle against a malevolent force that lives in the woods. The author does a wonderful job of setting the mood and portraying interesting characters. It has the feel of a dark fairy tale without any silliness. The writing is polished, the story pulls you right in and the finish is very exciting and rewarding.


finished 15 December 2016 Amazon

 

The Joy of X

The Joy of x: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity • Stephen Strogatz

Math geek book that is not nearly as good as other math geek books. Pretty boring actually. What was I thinking? I read this very sporadically with no enthusiasm whatsoever. WTF!? --Finished it only because it was easy to read. And short.


started 1 june 2014, finished November 2016 Amazon

 

 

Silent Hall

Silent Hall • N S Dolkart    (abandoned)

Five refugees from a plague-stricken island cross journey to find answers. They meet a wizard and do some errands for the wizard. Some things happen, but mostly they talk and stuff. Sort of like a boring reality show where disparate characters interact and you begin to wonder why you're watching. So yeah, I stopped reading — and I was over 200 pages in too. A fair try. Some interesting characters, sure, but the plot was not propulsive at all. So I ditched it. Life's too short.


started sep 2016, abandoned oct 2016 Amazon

 

The Keep

The Keep • Jennifer Egan    (abandoned)

It was a promising set-up: there's two cousins, they played imaginative games together as kids. Then one, Danny, played a cruel prank on the other, Howard, and soon after they lost touch. Now they're adults. Howard has changed, become exceedingly rich, and has bought a castle somewhere near Prague. He invites Danny over for some nebulous help in Howard's renovation of the castle. What are his motives?

I got a hundred pages in and then... Nope. I'm not finishing this. First of all, Danny is too much of a weird loser to be interested in as the main character. What kind of supposedly straight 30-something guy wears brown lipstick, anyway? And then there's the shifting viewpoints with unexplained other characters. Got kinda meta, kinda fast. And, finally, the whole bit about having people conversing but not including quotation marks in the text... I find that style highly annoying. Not for me.


started 19 sep 2016, abandoned 21 sep 2016 Amazon

 

 

 

Menu