Some random book thoughts for October 2013

Looks like this is going to turn out to be a very long post, so let’s get right to it…

As I mentioned in last month’s posting 13 Million Dollar Pop by David Levien was the next up from the “to-read” shelf. Just like two of his earlier detective books books, City of the Sun and Where The Dead Lay, 13 Million Dollar Pop is a pulp-style story featuring detective Frank Behr. This novel is a little different in that Behr is no longer working on his own but is instead working for a top level detective/investigation agency. With plot points reminiscent of John Grisham’s The Firm Levien weaves and interesting story centering around a failed attempt on the life of someone Behr was assigned to protect. While the book probably won’t win too many awards it was an enjoyable read.

Next came The Keepers of the Library by Glenn Cooper, which is the third book in an (at least as far as I can figure out) unnamed trilogy centering on an ancient hidden library. It is a very good series that is unlike anything I’ve read before. The first two books, Secret of the Seventh Son (AKA Library of the Dead) and Book of Souls are pretty much “must reads” to understand what is going on in The Keepers of the Library because they whole theme of the trilogy is set up in the first half of the first book. Cooper tells a great tale here, and I’m hoping his other novels get released in the US soon.

Third up was Dan Brown’s Inferno, a book I wasn’t planning on reading for some time as I don’t buy Brown’s books in hardcover. I was lucky enough to arrange a “trade” of sorts with a friend who had purchased it. He took several of the paperbacks I’d already read and lent me his copy of Inferno. A “win” for both of us.

Like all of Brown’s books Inferno is about as improbable a story as you can get, but he still hooks readers in with his great high-paced storytelling style. Despite a glaring math error (saying what it is will spoil the book) Inferno still delivers on multiple fronts. His plot twist that sets up the finale might not hold up well on a second reading when one can read the story knowing the outcome, but it doesn’t detract from the book so much that it fails. Fans of Brown will not be disappointed with Inferno.

One of my much anticipated September purchases, W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton, interrupted the book I had started and the 23rd book in the “Alphabet series” featuring Kinsey Millhone was the best one yet. Grafton has really hit her stride the last few novels and despite writing for the same main characters for so long is still able to keep it fresh and manages to add so much more information about each of them without contradicting herself and her previous books. What’s really amazing is there has been no real duplication of major plot points in the 23 books except for the ones that were intentional. That in itself is an incredible feat. I gave it five stars on Goodreads.

The book I was briefly reading after Inferno that was interrupted by W is for Wasted was A Blight of Mages by Karen Miller. It’s the prequel to the four released books in Miller’s “Kingmaker, Kingbreaker” universe, and despite knowing where the book had to end up it was a great story told by Miller. Looking at many of the reviews afterward I think people really missed the key component of the story: that someone treated as a god in the later books actually lead a significantly “less than a god-like” life while they were alive. The only negative about the novel was brought up on a blog post I forgot to bookmark so I can’t reference it (sorry to whomever it was) that said like the other four books in the series A Blight of Mages could have (and maybe should have) been broken into two books. There was a lot more story to tell that Miller glossed over, and a second book would have been great for those things.

The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu was a book I picked off the shelf when it was released just because the cover caught my eye, and the details on the back sounded interesting and amusing so I bought it. The Lives of Tao is a very good story, but I can tell you for certain the blurb on the front by Myke Cole “…laugh-out-loud funny…” is absolutely untrue. There is nothing in the book that is laugh-out-loud funny, and I’m hoping that people looking for something like that and not getting it don’t overlook how good The Lives of Tao really is. It’s nothing new by any stretch of the imagination and has a well used plot device, but it’s a very good start to what could be a decent series.

After finishing The Lives of Tao I was in a little bit of a quandary. I didn’t want to start a long book because a couple days later a book I really wanted to read, King Breaker by Rowena Cory Daniels, was being released and I didn’t feel like doing what I did with A Blight of Mages and putting down one book for another so I was reluctant to start anything. As luck would have it while looking for something in some boxes still left unpacked from our move a year ago I stumbled into Casca: The Mongel that somehow ended up in a box with some other odds and ends. The book, like many of the others in the series before it, was credited to Barry Sadler (yes, that Barry Sadler) but was ghost written by others. It’s a very short book and I figured it was perfect for the time I had.

While I remember the other “Casca” books as being pretty good this one was downright terrible. Perhaps they were all this bad and in my youth I just thought they were good, but for whatever reason Casca: The Mongel is one of the worst books I’ve read in a long while. I gave it two stars, mostly because I did recall liking the earlier books. It should have been one star, but I can’t see anyone purposely going out to get the book over that one extra star so I’ll just leave it as it is and move on.

To make matters even worse, when I went out a week ago last Tuesday to get King Breaker my local Barnes & Nobel didn’t have it on the shelf yet and no one there could answer to me if they even had copies in the store (more on that later). So after ordering King Breaker I again was faced with what to grab next. I had recently picked up a few remaindered “Star Trek” paperback to have in the car in case I needed an “emergency book”, so I grabbed one of those. Weight of the Worlds by Greg Cox is an incredibly average book. It’s a stereotypical Star Trek original series story that brings nothing new to the table. After finishing it I could see why it was remaindered. Unless you’re a die-hard Star Trek fan don’t bother with this one. Of course if you are you likely already have it. I just hope you didn’t pay full price.

For books I picked up last month there was the previously mentioned W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton. Because I was unable to get neither King Breaker by Rowena Cory Daniels nor Swords of Exodus by Larry Correia & Mike Kupari on the day they were released I ordered both from Amazon. The real winner there is N.K. Jemisin, as for me to get to the $25 level for free shipping I went off my “get from Amazon when you need to” list and picked up A Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun. As soon as I mash the “publish” button I’ll be starting King Breaker.

The list of stuff I’m looking forward to this month is pretty short, so far just being Chu’s sequel to The Lives of Tao called The Deaths of Tao. Last month Hunter of Sherwood: Knight of Shadows by Tony Venables was on my “look at” list, and as I didn’t get a chance to I’ll likely look for it on Friday.

Until next time…

Some random book thoughts for April 2013

I was figuring with my March post being so late in the month I wouldn’t have much for an April post and wasn’t certain I’d even bother with one, but as I have a few minutes and did actually buy some books there’s no reason to not put up a quick post.

I just finished (and I mean just finished) the fifth of Dan Brown’s books, The Lost Symbol, and all five were pretty decent reads. Deception Point, which I mentioned last month I was in the middle of, is one of two books Brown has written that don’t feature Robert Langdon but contain Brown’s plot styling of having the events of the book take place over a very short time, usually 24 hours or less. The base story is a little far fetched, as is the plot wrap up at the end, but as with all of Brown’s books it was entertaining. That’s pretty much all I ask for in a book.

After that was The Da Vinci Code, which just about everyone has either read or seen the movie. It was an OK story and I was entertained, but to be honest Angels & Demons was a far superior book. The Lost Symbol was also entertaining, but compared to the others missed the mark a little. Two of the major plot points I guessed very quickly, which really turned the book into a “look for clues that I’m right” quest as opposed to being about the story. Not to spoil the ending, but I also guessed the building Langdon was taken to near the end of the book. It was way too obvious, especially for anyone that had read the other two Langdon stories.

A couple weeks ago I had an afternoon off from work and headed to Barnes & Noble, mostly to grab The Marching Dead by Lee Battersby and to see what else was out. Lullaby, Ace Atkins’ first installment in Robert Parker’s “Spenser” series, was out in paperback so I grabbed that. I also saw Power Down, Ben Coes’ first book, was reprinted in a special $5.99 edition. I grabbed that and then found his second, Coup d’Etat, on the remaindered hard cover table.

I have no idea which book I’m starting next, so you’ll need to turn un next month to see what it is. Yeah, not much of a cliff hanger, but we make due with what we have. The April list for new science fiction didn’t have anything that popped out at me so I’m not thinking there will be anything new in that genre for me this month, and I’m still looking for a site that lists new releases on other genres. If anyone knows of one let me know in the comments section. Until next time…

Some random book thoughts for March 2013

This month’s random book post is a little later than usual, so we’ll get right to it. One book that jumped to the front of my “to read” list, mostly because I borrowed it, was Crossing the Line by Derek Sanderson. The former Boston Bruins forward is well known for his issues with alcoholism while he played and the book, based on the author’s notes, probably contains many stories that had to be retold to Sanderson to refresh his memory. I was hoping for more hockey stories than it contained, and considering how open Sanderson has been in the past about his addiction there seems to be some glossing over (and maybe some internal denial) about how drinking affected his playing. Like a lot of autobiographies I’ve read I was left wanting more from the book. I do recommend it though.

The next books I read were the first three books in “The Legend of Eli Monpress” series by Rachel Aaron. The Spirit Thief, The Spirit Rebellion, and The Spirit Eater (the omnibus edition is pictured above) are really, really fun reads that I absolutely recommend that everyone pick up. The series is lighthearted without getting caught up in joke telling, but there are also darker elements to the stories to keep hardcore fantasy readers engaged. The next two books in the series, The Spirit War and Spirit’s End are both available in trade editions and I’m hoping they’ll both be out in mass market editions soon.

I then went in a completely different direction and decided to read the five books Dan Brown has out. The first is Digital Fortress, which is about the National Security Agency’s code breaking supercomputer called TRANSLTR, and its ability (or inability) to crack a code. The story is pretty simple in nature, but it’s well written and a decent read. Brown’s second book is Angels & Demons, which was fantastic. It’s a well paced thriller that takes place during a papal conclave, that I read while a papal conclave was just beginning. The book is very different from the movie, so if you’ve seen the movie you should pick the book up.

I’ve just started his third book, Deception Point, so I’ll have more on that next month. As funny as it sounds, Brown’s best selling book is the very well known novel The Da Vinci Code and I might be the only reader on the planet that doesn’t own a copy. I’ll be off to Annie’s Book Stop (a second hand book store in my area) to pick one up. There isn’t any chance they don’t have one or five, is there?

I have not bought any new books since last time, although I did have a copy of Age of Voodoo by James Lovegrove in my hand but I decided to put it back. It’s $8.99 at Barnes & Noble and looking at the book I just couldn’t pull the trigger for how short the novel was. If you want my money Mr. Lovegrove make the novel worth what I’m paying. On my radar for March is The Marching Dead by Lee Battersby. I have Battersby’s first, The Corpse-Rat King, on the shelf right next to me. It probably won’t be next up after the Brown books, but it will probably be soon.