Some random book thoughts for March 2014

March 5, 2014 Leave a comment

With a couple days delay, and with me half paying attention to the NHL’s trade deadline, we’ll rush into an unfortunately sparce blog posting for March. Because of lots of things going on (including TotalCon) I didn’t have a whole lot of time for reading and only got through two books. Luckily, they were both pretty good.


The first was The Corpse-Rat King by Lee Battersby. For those that might think that the cover of a book isn’t important, let me tell you that the cover of The Corpse-Rat King was the only reason I picked the book off the shelf. It’s an odd color, with fairly plain imaging, but next to all the glossy covers of the other books on the shelf it really stood out. The title is also eye-catching, enough so that I grabbed the book and read the back. I try to avoid spoiling any of the good parts of books, but as this is on the back I feel it’s OK to mention…

Marius don Hellespont and his apprentice, Gerd, are professional looters of battlefields. When they stumble upon the corpse of the King of Scorby and Gerd is killed, Marius is mistaken for the monarch by one of the dead soldiers and is transported down to the Kingdom of the Dead.

Just like the living citizens, the dead need a King — after all, the King is God’s representative, and someone needs to remind God where they are.

And so it comes to pass that Marius is banished to the surface with one message: if he wants to recover his life he must find the dead a King. Which he fully intends to do.

Just as soon as he stops running away.

Let’s be honest, after reading that how can you not be curious as to what the story is? Of course I was, and bought the book. It took until early February to grab it off the to-read shelf, and I was hooked right away. The story of Marius and Gerd is a “buddy” story, and those really have been played to death…errr…well, they have been now at any rate. You see, with both main characters in the book dead it leads to some amusing scenes. Somehow Battersby makes it all work by being so over the top it doesn’t seem like it’s over the top at all. The ending is perfect for the story, and fits right in with the rest. It wasn’t forced or, as I like to call it, “contrived”, it was simply the logical conclusion to a well thought out story.

I tweeted to Battersby when I finished the book that it was the weirdest story I had ever read, and I loved every minute of it. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, The Marching Dead, at some point in the near future. I gave The Corpse-Rat King four out of five on Goodreads because they don’t do half grades, but it’s really a 4.5 of 5 in my opinion. Well worth checking out.


The second book was The Deaths of Tao by Wesley Chu, the sequel to The Lives of Tao. The book picks up a few years ahead from where the former ended, and is a pretty straight forward good guys (Prophus) vs bad guys (Genjix) story with the assorted story points you’d expect from such a story. Chu breaks from the oft suffered “second book syndrome” by just continuing along the style and story points of the first book, while adding a good amount of background material that not only fleshes out The Deaths of Tao but also gives more body to The Lives of Tao.

Chu also avoids the trap that many newer writers fall into by not spending a huge amount of time recapping the first book. When it needs to be done, he does it, and in a quick manner that makes it feel like part of the current action. Lengthy recaps are one of my pet peeves, and Chu gets a passing grade for doing it right.

It was an interesting ending, and not what I was expecting. There has been a third book announced (The Rebirths of Tao) for release at the end of December, so you can bet I’ll be there getting it soon after it hits the shelves. Like The Lives of Tao I gave The Deaths of Tao a solid four out of five on Goodreads. Another one worth grabbing if you can.

I also just noticed that both The Corpse-Rat King and The Deaths of Tao are from the same publisher, Angry Robot. A look at their list of book shows I have read a lot of their stuff and have many on my to-read shelf. Their quality is pretty high, so I’m going to need to check out some of their stuff I’ve not seen before.

After a few months of not grabbing anything new it was a good month for finding stuff. I didn’t realize I had missed Trinity Rising by Elspeth Cooper until I saw the release date for her third book (I don’t recall the name of the 3rd), but that was quickly rectified as Barnes & Noble had a copy. The new Robert Asprin book Dragons Wild was also picked up, but that may end up in my wife’s to-read pile as opposed to mine. In the hardcover remainder section I found three, One Rough Man and All Necessary Force by Brad Taylor, and Kinsey and Me by Sue Grafton. I was tempted to buy the Grafton book when it came out, but I was certain it would be remaindered so I just held off until recently.

For new stuff two look interesting, Talus and the Frozen King by Graham Edwards and The Lascar’s Dagger by Glenda Larke, but as longtime readers will know there’s always a chance I’ll stumble into something else while I’m out.

In some blog news, this will be the last “random book thoughts” in this format. Starting with the book I’m reading now, Waging Heavy Peace by Neil Young, all the books I read will have individual posts instead of grouped together as I have done in the past. The reason is a writer friend mentioned that while I don’t really consider my blurbs about each book to be reviews they really are, and many writers aren’t interested in linking to posts the way I write them; that they would be more apt to link to individual posts about their book. So we’ll go that route for awhile and see how it goes.

There will still be “random book thoughts” postings, but I’m not yet certain how they’ll look and beyond what I’ve bought and looking to buy what it will contain. But I have a whole month to work on that.

Until next time…

Categories: Books Tags: ,

TotalCon 28 Recap

February 28, 2014 2 comments

Last weekend was the 28th gathering of gamers known as “Total Confusion”. For newer readers who may have missed previous posts on TotalCon it’s the largest game convention in New England, which has been held the past few years at the Holiday Inn in Mansfield, Massachusetts. Because I’m a longtime player of BattleTech, most of the things I’ll be talking about will be about the miniatures games held there. You can find out more info about other stuff on their Facebook page.

As we generally do, my buddy Scott and I arrived just after noontime on Thursday to register and make some quick ‘hellos’ before the start of the first game at 1pm. The game run in that slot is always called BattleTech Warm-ups, and for several years Scott and I alternated running the event but the last few it’s been Scott at the helm. It’s a pretty straightforward battle with each player just placing whatever ‘Mech they’ve brought (or chosen from the pile) on the mapboard and going at it until either four hours elapse or you’re the last one standing.

Generally we start with four or five players and as people arrive at the convention they show up to kibitz–or if early enough to join the game–and that’s what Scott was prepared for. In a stunning development there was 13 players ready to go, so suddenly the “easy to run battle” required some quick adjustments for the number of players. Also, there were four children playing. Kids are welcomed at these events, but having so many required each on to have a “buddy” around the table to help them. And, of course, the first kill came from one of the kids that had never played before against one of the more experienced players. Happens every time…

Because the way the battle progressed, and because my ‘Mech was a tad weaker than many of those on the board, I did a lot of hiding in the woods hexes and behind the hills. That’s not a winning strategy, so eventually I was killed. I feigned being angry, which drew lots of laughs, which was my intent. One of the boys sitting close to me got a bigger laugh when he said to me “that’s what you get for camping!”. Even I was laughing hard at that. His mother, sitting a table away reading, was a little upset at her son for taunting me, but as I explained to her every player regardless of age or experience is an equal in the game, and a little ribbing is expected. Worst of all, I added, he was 100% right. We all dubbed the kids “the Next generation”, because three of them were real good at the game. Next year they night be tough to beat.

Thursday evening has become D&D night for Scott and me, as we play a game with three others. We’ve known Pinhead (yes, his legitimate self-given nickname) and Casey for 20ish years, and Casey’s wife Kile has been around for 10 or so of them. It’s a great game that’s 25% drinking alcohol, 25% eating pizza, 45% catching up, and 5% playing the game. As usual, it was a great night.

Friday morning saw us playing a BattleTech (sensing a theme here?), and in a rarity I don’t recall the name of the scenario. Of our little grouping I gather the scenarios and schedule them so we’re not all stepping on each other’s feet for games, but this one was designed by Steve Parenteau (a TotalCon staff member) and run by Mark Merlet. It used the miniature rules for BattleTech and not the hex-based rules, but otherwise is the same game. It was played on a city-scape mapboard, and was a cool event. Only issue was there was a few too many buildings which gave the advantage to the side with the BattleArmor, but as we discussed afterward that’s an easy fix for next year.


These are the five units for our side of the battle. Two ‘Mechs (both 1/76th scale) and three tanks. We took on one ‘Mech and 30 troopers of BattleArmor.


Another picture of the battle. You can see the opposing forces in this one.

The Friday afternoon battle was called The Fox and the Cat, run by Mike Mahaney. His events are known for the incredible 3D terrain they’re held on, and as usual they were worth the price of admission. This one was five Kit Foxes, each one a different configuration of the Clan OmniMech, vs a dozen Panthers. It was a fun battle, and BattleTech players will note the terrain Mike has laid out mimics the original mapboard. Proof that’s what’s old can be made new again.


The whole mapboard after a couple turns.


Most of the Kit Foxes. Mike’s ‘Mech is just out of the picture to the northeast.


Mike’s Kit Fox, behind the hill, about to take on several Panthers


The other side of the board where there were more Panthers waiting.

Friday night saw my game, called Return to The Darkened Arena, being played. It was played on two standard CityTech boards, so taking pictures seemed silly. The event was the sequel to The Darkened Arena, which I ran last year in by brief appearance at TotalCon 27. The units were basically the same as last year with some minor changes, and after two runs each side was won once. Some might think a tie-breaking third run might be in order, but it won’t be next year. Scott and I have some plans for that Friday night slot for TotalCon 29.

Saturday morning saw another Mahaney event called Viva La Vida, which was a bunch of assault Mechs just dueling it out. It was a cool battle, but as you can see from the pics somehow a setting got changed on my phone and they came out a little blurry. It’s a shame too because the map was gorgeous and the repurposed Dark Age units fit right in.


Mapboard at the start of the game


Several units on the attack


More of the battle

Saturday afternoon saw the return of an old favorite called The Race. This event debut years ago and is essentially unchanged since its inception. The best part about it is its history. It was in the convention booklet years ago when two hours before the event was to start Scott admitted he had nothing ready because he couldn’t get the idea to work. Enter Pinhead with a magic marker and two blank mapboards, and the figure-8 track was born. The biggest change is Scott unveiled a 3D map for it this year. Several player skipped The Race for other games, but as they wandered in during the slot all were impressed by the board and said they wished they’d signed up. I suspect they’ll get their chance next year.

The best part of The Race was Pinhead’s return to the game (he generally plays D&D an the con now) and Pin finished, as historically is true in these events, second to Casey. Only this time the Casey he lost to was Kile, as she made it father over the finish line in the last turn than Pin did. It was the first time in the event’s history two players made three circuits of the track.


The 3D figure-8 track


Merl (back to wall) and I (in open) dueling as we jump around the track

Final turn, Kile’s Spider in the lead to the left, my Spider more than a lap behind in the middle preparing to fire on Kile, and Pinhead’s Spider on the right being shot at by Merl (out of photo). Kile survived the round and was the winner.

Both Saturday night and Sunday morning were events run by John O’Leary. I wasn’t around for the Saturday night battle as my wife and I went out to dinner, and the Sunday morning battle ended so quickly that we just held a huge free-for-all afterward that will be forever noted as the time when Dave Hruska was tasked to pick one of three ‘Mechs and he chose to take them all; playing each unit as if they were run by different people. May have been the most laughs of the convention.

Sunday afternoon’s event called Highlander Gambit, run by Mike Mahaney on more 3D terrain, turned into a championship round when in addition to the prize envelope a plaque for “Best BattleTech player” was handed to Mike to give out. It was a great battle which was essentially a ‘King of the Hill’ style fight, that went down to the last turn. Had it gone one turn less I would have won, but the extra turn did me in and Dave Hruska was crowned champion.


Mapboard to start the event


John O’Leary claims the hill. He wasn’t there for long.


Another ‘Mech at the top that didn’t stay there long.

So, as I do when it’s not my turn at these games I snapped a few other pictures of some stuff. I don’t know the name of these events, nor in some cases even have an idea what game system they’re for, but I figured they were cool enough for inclusion.


A home-grown game system with some incredibly cool terrain used.


Different angle, same game.


No idea about what this is, but it looked cool.


Game system is “Ogre”. Played it years and years ago. No idea how close this version is to the one I played.


Another “Ogre” game where the person running it has far too many units on the board for the time allowed.

Below is the Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game. The picture does not do it justice at all. It was incredibly cool, and it took everything I had to not go into the Dealer’s Room and buy the introductory boxed set. I have a “rule” that I don’t buy any new games at the convention, and instead have to wait a full week before buying it. That way it’s not an impulse buy and is instead something I’m definitely interested in. Well, I’m still itching to buy the boxed set, but the sheer cost of acquiring enough pieces to play a decent sized game has made it something I won’t be getting into unless I stumble on a ton of pieces cheaply. And that’s not ever going to happen…

So that’s all for TotalCon 28. And as is often the case I’m already working on some stuff for TotalCon 29. If all goes according to plan we may see the return of an event that’s never been beaten…The Mosh Pit.

Categories: Games Tags: ,

Spoilers in the information age

February 6, 2014 2 comments

This exchange, edited for brevity and language, took place on a forum I visit where on occasion TV shows and movies are discussed. This was in a thread labeled as “NCIS/NCIS:LA”, so it was pretty clear what one would find being discussed should they click on it.

ME: Hey did anyone catch the NCIS that aired Tuesday? The one with the drone hitting the intelligence gala?

#1: Yeah. It was pretty good episode. They’re obviously setting up a big story arc for McGee and getting everyone to know about Eleanor Bishop.

ME: I’m trying to figure out with the explosion that was shown and McGee standing outside the building why he wasn’t more severely injured. I get he’s a main character, but they’re usually pretty good with that stuff and kind of dropped the ball there.

#2 HEY, how about a spoiler warning guys, I haven’t seen that episode yet.

From that point on a bunch of people piled on to #2 for clicking on a thread about a TV show where they weren’t up to date in watching. A second smaller group was supporting #2, and said there should have been a spoiler warning in my first post followed by “spoiler space” (which is several presses of the return button creating a buffer so a person wouldn’t accidentally see a spoiler) because the next episode hadn’t aired yet, even though that’s not the custom on that forum. The fact I posted the question five days after the episode originally aired and there was a blog post about the episode on the site’s main page seemed to be lost on some people.

I simply don’t understand why someone who didn’t want to know about a particular TV program or movie would intentionally go to a place that information was being discussed. There are a couple shows I’m planning on watching over the summer on Netflix. Isn’t it my responsibility to make sure I don’t go places where those shows are talked about it if I don’t want to know what happens? And wouldn’t it be the same with shows I record on my DVR?

To take it to the next step, how long until would it be “safe” to discuss something that contained spoilers? Can I openly talk about The Crying Game or The Sixth Sense now, or because the plot twists in each are essentially the whole movie should I always include a spoiler tag? Should I stop posting “Rosebud is a sled!!!” every time someone talks about spoilers? (Even if I should, I won’t; I love the joke too much).

It’s even more ludicrous in some places. During the World Juniors hockey tournament this season held in Sweden many of the games were shown tape delayed in the US and Canada, but could been seen live on the internet. Two different hockey message boards, both with threads for each individual game, required spoiler tags until the game aired on TV. Those tags hide the posts by changing the font color to the forum background color unless a link is clicked on.

Really? I mean, REALLY? Scores and accounts of sporting events are news, so we need spoiler tags for news events now? And spoiler tags in threads specifically set up to discuss the games?

REALLY?

Really. This is because too many people are self-centered idiots that need help to make sure they don’t accidentally stumble into information they don’t want to know when they click on links that take them to the information they don’t want to know. Which, in the long run, spoils things for the rest of us…

Categories: Rant, Sports, TV

Some random book thoughts for February 2014

February 5, 2014 Leave a comment

Just like in my January post I write this one as a snowstorm rages on outside my window, with several unfinished posts in my queue. One of my goals should be post actually finish some of them so there’s more than one or two postings a month here. Alas, the best laid plans…

I stated off last month with The Spirit War by Rachel Aaron, the continuation of her “Legend of Eli Monpress” series. Unlike the first three books of the series The Spirit War is a huge tome in the trade paperback format. When I asked Miss Aaron via twitter if the book (and the next) was ever going to be released in mass-market edition she said it wouldn’t be because they were the size of a phone book. And then she actually apologized for that. Well, I’m the one that was sorry in the long run because I waited so long to read it.

Unlike many longer books there isn’t a ton of wasted space in The Spirit War. It’s pretty full of new content, with just enough rehashing of the first three books to help remind readers what transpired and to help new readers along with the plot. The story is a good one, moves at a decent pace, and while the cliffhanger is telegraphed a little bit it does set up the next book very well.

And the next book, Spirit’s End picks right up where The Spirit War ends, almost as if the two are one very long book. If you tried to read Spirit’s End without at least reading The Spirit War you’d be totally lost. The story takes a bit of a turn in Spirit’s End, but all of the major plots (and most of the minor ones) are tied together nicely in the inevitable ending confrontation that includes all the major characters still alive. It’s a well thought out ending, and one that could very easily have happened given the circumstances. Only I didn’t like it very much.

The book (and series) is great, but the final conclusion wasn’t what I was hoping for. Rachel Aaron went out of her way to avoid the stereotypical fantasy ending but I think strayed off the path a little too far. It’s not like the ending doesn’t make sense, it most certainly does. It just didn’t do it for me. I gave both The Spirit War and Spirit’s End five stars on Goodreads and they absolutely deserve that, but I have lots of questions about what possibly happens next (which I won’t share here because it would spoil the previous books). Of course, a sixth book might answer those questions…

Then in a complete changing of the gears I went away from the fantasy genre to Empire and Honor, the seventh book in the “Honor Bound” series by W.E.B. Griffin. The previous book, Victory and Honor, was basically half a book as it rehashed the first five books multiple times and jumped so far ahead in the time line World War II was essentially over. In Empire and Honor the war is indeed over, and it deals with the dismantling of the OSS in both Europe and South America. The plot moves along OK, but nothing really happens for most of the book. It’s just contrived occurrence after occurrence heading in no real direction until the last 40 pages or so. The final encounter of the book is a total letdown, and in fact ends basically in the middle of the action, such as it was, as if several pages are missing.

Griffin’s son, William E. Butterworth III, has taken over many of Griffin’s series and is listed as co-author, but it’s pretty clear that Griffin has very little to do with most of the current running series. Reading the older books you can see the current writing style is close but the content is far from Griffin’s heyday. It’s a shame too, because it’s alienating many longtime readers.

The next book I picked up was The King’s Deception by Steve Berry, but after being just a couple pages in I accidentally left the book in my car as my wife went off to work one morning. Looking for something quick to read I grabbed Allegiance in Exile by David R. George, a “Star Trek: The Original Series” pulp-style novel, off the to-read shelf. This was the last of the $1 paperbacks I had bought recently, and with the other two being pretty bad I wasn’t expecting much other than it being a time killer.

I was surprised at how good the book was. I mean, it was really good. It didn’t have much in the way of the standard ST:TOS crap that was in the first two books contained (other than McCoy not liking the transporters, which I always find amusing) and really delved into Sulu as a character as opposed to a caricature. It was a good, well developed story that was never as “over the top” as many of the Star trek novels are. It looked at things a little differently than those books, and his treatment of Captain Kirk as a regular person as opposed to a larger than life hero was refreshing.

Then I got back to The King’s Deception, which like most of Berry’s books uses historical facts and twists them a tad to come up with modern stories relating to those twists. The King’s Deception deals with the Tudor era of the British monarchy, and specifically with the end of the reign of Henry VIII and on to the Elizabethan era. Without spoiling the plot, the story weighs heavily (and mentions and credits) a book by Bram Stoker entitled Famous Impostors. I already knew of the story Berry’s book was based off of, but it didn’t hurt my enjoyment of it.

One thing I really enjoy about Berry’s books is he clearly indicates what is real history and what he fictionalizes in his writer’s notes at the end. I’ve often times gone back and reread some of the chapters in his book armed with the knowledge now that something there is fictionalized. It’s a testament to how good a writer he is by the fact that many times I can’t tell until he mentions what’s not real.

January is traditionally a slow month for new stuff, and I didn’t find anything interesting to pick up. The list for science fiction/fantasy for February doesn’t look all that promising either. I probably won’t get much reading done this month as hockey and TotalCon take up much of time free time. Right now I’m reading The Corpse-Rat King by Lee Battersby. More on that next month.

Until next time…

What I read last year (2013)

January 7, 2014 1 comment

As I do every January, here’s a recap of everything I read last year. Every book listed here has at least a mention (and should be pictured) in a post made in 2013, so feel free to do a little scrolling and you can read what I have to say about them.

The Red Wolf Conspiracy (Robert V.S. Redick) …526
Covert Warriors (W.E.B. Griffin) …445
The Columbus Affair (Steve Berry) …593
The Ruling Sea (Robert V.S. Redick) …655
Crossing the Line (Derek Sanderson) …388
The Spirit Thief (Rachel Aaron) …356
The Spirit Rebellion (Rachel Aaron) …455
The Spirit Eater (Rachel Aaron) …435
Digital Fortress (Dan Brown) …431
Angels & Demons (Dan Brown) …592
Deception point (Dan Brown) …559
The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown) …454
The Lost Symbol (Dan Brown) …639
Lullaby (Ace Atkins) …388
The Prodigal Mage (Karen Miller) …648
The Reluctant Mage (Karen Miller) …695
The Black Echo (Michael Connelly) …482
The Black Ice (Michael Connelly) …439
The Concrete Blonde (Michael Connelly) …500
The Last Coyote (Michael Connelly) …408
Trunk Music (Michael Connelly) …408
The Poet (Michael Connelly) …510
Blood Work (Michael Connelly) …514
Angels Flight (Michael Connelly) …469
Void Moon (Michael Connelly) …472
A Darkness More Than Night (Michael Connelly) …478
City of Bones (Michael Connelly) …438
Chasing the Dime (Michael Connelly) …436
Lost Light (Michael Connelly) …397
The Narrows (Michael Connelly) …442
The Closers (Michael Connelly) …456
The Lincoln Lawyer (Michael Connelly) …516
Echo Park (Michael Connelly) …446
The Overlook (Michael Connelly) …285
The Brass Verdict (Michael Connelly) …580
The Scarecrow (Michael Connelly) …562
Nine Dragons (Michael Connelly) …469
The Reversal (Michael Connelly) …440
The Drop (Michael Connelly) …388
The Fifth Witness (Michael Connelly) …567
The Wayfarer Redemption (Sara Douglass) …653
Black List (Brad Thor) …468
Monster Hunter: Legion (Larry Correia) …521
Crucible of Gold (Naomi Novik) …369
Enchanter (Sara Douglass) …669
Power Down (Ben Coes) …622
Coup d’Etat (Ben Coes) …466
The Last Refuge (Ben Coes) …485
Starman (Sara Douglass) …670
The Last Man (Vince Flynn) …485
13 Million Dollar Pop (David Levien) …390
The Keepers of the Library (Glenn Cooper) …377
Inferno (Dan Brown) …462
W is for Wasted (Sue Grafton) …496
A Blight of Mages (Karen Miller) …786
The Lives of Tao (Wesley Chu) …460
Casca: The Mongol (Barry Sadler) …170
The Weight of Worlds (Greg Cox) …342
The Black Box (Michael Connelly) …464
King Breaker (Rowena Cory Daniels) …774
Swords of Exodus (Larry Correia & Mike Kupari) …594
Devil’s Bargain (Tony Daniel) …303
Sir Apropos of Nothing (Peter David) …661
Command Authority (Tom Clancy) …739
The Woad to Wuin (Peter David) …504
Sanctus (Simon Toyne) …594
The Key (Simon Toyne) …550

Total pages for the year: 33,482

By far my highest total since I started keeping track, and it could have been even higher were it not for stumbling a touch in October and November. The summer’s run of Michael Connelly books added to the total. After the current hockey season ends I’ll be starting on the series that has spent the most time every on my to-read shelf. More on that when the time comes.

Until next time…

Categories: Books

Some random book thoughts for January 2014

January 3, 2014 1 comment

I’d been hoping to get to completing a few posts I stared over the last month or so, but other commitments and the pesky holiday season got in the way. It’s amazing that I get a lot of time off from work between Christmas and New Year’s and still manage to not have enough hours to get anything I want done. So with the remnants of a raging snowstorm taking place outside my window here’s a look at my book thoughts for January.

As I mentioned last month the book I had just stated was Sir Apropos of Nothing by Peter David as I waited for an opening my schedule to grab Clancy’s new tome. For those unfamiliar with Peter David’s work, to call him “odd” would neither be a negative nor an insult. His sarcastic wit and dry sense of humor spring forth in everything he writes, and Sir Apropos of Nothing is full of both. His take on the fantasy genre is exactly what you’d expect from him, and the plot twist at the end is unexpected and extremely humorous, fitting the book perfectly.

Finally, after several failed attempts I was able to pick up what might be the final Tom Clancy written “Jack Ryan” novel, Command Authority. It’s a shame that Clancy passed when he did–not that any time is a good time–because in this book he finally got his fastball back and Command Authority was reminiscent of his earlier Ryan books. It was fast paced without the action being forced, and didn’t rely on gimmicks nor phony plot twists to keep the story going. It was vintage Clancy. I’m hoping Mark Greaney, who co-wrote the book, will be able to continue the “Jack Ryan” series as he seems to have a good feel for the characters. It won’t be the same though.

Up next was The Woad to Wuin, the sequel to Sir Apropos of Nothing, and while it was a good book David missed the mark on a lot of stuff. He was poking fun at sequels, and the opening chapter is an absolutely great take off of The Lord of the Rings that is legitimately laugh-out-loud funny. Unfortunately, the rest of the book misses the mark a little. There are some scenes that will make you chuckle, but about a third of the way through the book takes a wild turn and just stumbles after itself from that point forward. The ending is predictable. The Woad to Wuin suffers from what a lot of other books do; the author sets the bar so high in the first book it’s almost impossible to reach it in the second book. And in The Woad to Wuin, David doesn’t. It’s still good enough to recommend though, just make sure you’ve read Sir Apropos of Nothing first.

The next two books I read were Sanctus and The Key by Simon Toyne. I grabbed them both because I’m a sucker for the “Church is hiding something” genre that has popped up since The Da Vinci Code was a big hit. In Sanctus Toyne follows most of the formula, although in his story the main location is a mountain called “The Citadel” in the fictional City-State of Ruin in South Eastern Turkey, as opposed to puicking real sites and then assigning fictional meanings to their locations. For most of Sanctus Toyne really doesn’t do anything new, he just tells the well know story of “they’re hiding something and we’re going to find out what it is” a little differently than others. The key, no pun intended, is what the “Sacrament” the Sancti of the Citadel are hiding. That truly is what makes Toyne’s story different.

The Key is a direct sequel of Sanctus, picking up just days after the events at the end of the first book take place. The Key follows the standard formula a lot closer than the first book, but that’s mostly because of the paths Toyne has set for his main characters. There’s a third book, called The Tower, which is not in paperback yet but I am anxiously waiting for its release.

Just before the new year kicked off I started The Spirit War by Rachel Aaron, so undoubtedly I’ll have more on that book next time.

Other then the Clancy book I didn’t buy anything else in the month of December as I decided, as I usually do, to generally avoid stores at all costs. On New Year’s Day I did swing by the book store are picked up The King’s Deception by Steve Berry and Empire and Honor by W.E.B. Griffin. Neither of those will be on the to-read shelf very long. As for new stuff coming out, I’m going to take a look at Dragon’s Wild by Robert Asprin. Other than that I didn’t see anything that was a “must buy”, but I do always seem to find something.

Until next time…

Some random book thoughts for December 2013

December 2, 2013 1 comment

So off we go on December’s book thoughts…

After a couple of starts and stops (some of which I described last month) I finally had time to restart King Breaker by Rowena Cory Daniels. It’s the conclusion of the “King Rolen’s Kin” series and picks up right where the third book, The Usurper, ends. It was three years between the release dates of the books and it was worth the wait. The ending is almost anticlimactic, with the final battle between the two main protagonists taking less than a single page. Looking back on the entire story the “winner” really doesn’t win anything he wants, which is what the four book series is ultimately about. Daniels ties up most of the lose ends of the story very well, although it wouldn’t take much for a new series taking place afterward to emerge. One can only hope…

Next up was Swords of Exodus by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari. It’s the continuation of the story they started in Dead Six, and while it contained much of the same flavor as the first book it was nowhere near as good. It was a no better than the average action-adventure story, and when you consider how good Correia’s other series are it really missed its mark. The plot was little more than an excuse to write about multiple killings by the heroes and brought absolutely nothing new to the table. To be blunt, I expected better from Correia.

Having finished Swords of Exodus I was looking for something quick to read while I waited for Tom Clancy’s final book, Command Authority, to come out (more on that below), so I grabbed Devil’s Bargain by Tony Daniel off the to-read shelf. It’s one of those Star Trek Original Series pulp-style novels so I knew it would be nothing but light reading. I laughed throughout the book, which is not a good thing considering it wasn’t written to be a comedic novel. It pretty much hit on every Star Trek cliché you could come up with: it mentioned Khan, it had Spock mind-melding with the Horta multiple times, and of course Captain Kirk having sex with a beautiful if only marginally alien woman. The only thing missing was Scotty yelling that The Enterprise “cannea take much more of this”, although I’m betting the original draft of the story contained that as there are two places where that would have fit perfectly. It could have been worse, I guess.

The book I just stated today was Sir Apropos of Nothing by Peter David, because after looking at my schedule for the upcoming week or so I don’t know when I’ll make it to grab the new Clancy tome. That’s the only book I know of that I’ll be buying this month, although one never knows what I might find. In November I finally grabbed The Deaths of Tao by Wesley Chu, but still have not picked up Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach (aka Rachel Aaron). That one might get pushed off into the new year.

Other books I picked up last month were Himmler’s War and Rising Son by Robert Conroy, and A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin. I also bought a couple omnibus editions and The Ninth Circle by R.M. Meluch, which are the books of his “Tour of the Merrimack” series. The to-read shelf is started to grow wildly again. I guess I could pick worse things than books to be addicted to.

Until next time…

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