It’s funny to think that two thirds of the year has gone by since I began recording my reading habits. I may have mentioned before, this is something I’ve done from time to time to see if I re-read as often as I think I do, but working at the library has skewed the results a little – I now see and have access to books every day, whereas before I was dropping into the library once or twice a week.
This month included some of the hottest weather we’ve had since coming to Canada, and also a trip to Osoyoos, where there was a good deal of sitting around on beaches and reading. It was supposed to be sitting around on beaches and writing, but it was sunny and relaxing and…..
Anyway, what books did I read this month?
This year Chuck Wendig has been producing books like some magicians produce doves or those weird sponge balls. By which I mean prolifically, and without pause or seeming effort. This is one I got my hands on, and it’s….Well, look: Chuck doesn’t write the same thing twice. His “Double Dead” vampire/zombies book is not like his “Blackbirds” paranormal/psychic horror, or his gritty realism “Shotgun Gravy”, and I suspect that none of those will be like his Dystopian Sci-fi piece “Under the Empyrean Sky”. The Blue Blazes is one of those “Hidden in your city is another side of life” books, but done in a unique Chuck Wendig style. Hell is a real place, unexpectedly encountered by city workers digging water tunnels, and, to some extent, now policed by a secret cabal of those workers. Except our protagonist is no longer part of that, but working for some bad guys. I’m explaining badly, because the best thing to do with this book is take it on faith, jump right in and keep reading, because everything is explained, everything becomes clear and the ride to get to that point is SOOOOOOO worth it.
I loved the outrage of Reacher fans over the casting of Tom Hanks…excuse me, Tom CRUISE as their hero, but I hadn’t actually encountered the books before. This one slid across the library desk, and I saw it was about early Reacher adventures, though it’s number 16 in the series. I enjoyed it, but found the actual murder of several characters hard to take. Reacher is in Military Intelligence, from what I can gather, but does that give him carte blanche to execute individuals, rather than gather evidence and bring them to trial? Not sure I’ll be trying more of these…
It’s no secret I’m a big Scalzi fan, and I was delighted to find this book. It’s a little hard-going at times, since the plot isn’t straightforward, but it’s another story of Earth finding its place in the universe amongst bigger and badder races. There’s some bizarre genetic twists in the story too, and a couple of truly unexpected moments, but the resolution is typically Scalzi and very satisfying.
After reading (and mostly enjoying) “Plugged” last month, I was delighted to find the sequel is already available. This novel follows the continued adventures of Daniel McEvoy, now owner of his club, but still butting heads with the local mob. Worse still, the hold he had over the mob boss has just died of natural causes (well, lightning…) and now to stay alive he has to do just one little job and everything is fine. Yeah, right. As before there’s a pile of bodies and a lot of wrecked cars and knuckles before the end of the book. It’s bloody stuff, but worth the read.
My reading list wouldn’t be complete without at least one short story collection. These were all stories with strong female protagonists, but also all belonged in the Urban Fantasy genre. As a result, many of the opening lines had me rolling my eyes, as I think I’m pretty much done with shapeshifters, half-angels, demon hunters etc etc. Until the next really good story comes along, of course. But if you like Urban Fantasy, there’s plenty to enjoy in this collection. And plenty of butt gets kicked.
For a Sci-Fi fan, I don’t do a lot of “hard” sci fi. This book was hard going at times, but it was interesting and very different, as well as being futuristic without being too far removed from the world we live in. A kid who loves skydiving pulls off a particularly impressive dive, filming it all the way. The video hits the net and goes viral and he’s picked up by a firm that makes the equipment he uses. They are going to pay him to jump, his dream come true. But there’s a more sinister side to the parent company, and they’re using the new trend for skydiving vids to feed a more insidious tech habit. The boy has to become more than just a skydiver to rescue the girl he loves from a horrible fate.
The second in the series “As the World Dies”, the first of which was part of last month’s reading (The First Days). The group inside the Fort are trying to take control of the big hotel, to give themselves living space, but it’s still infested with zombies. Clearing out the hotel will cost them lives, but give them a chance to start living, not just surviving. Which leads on to….
…The third book! The discovery of another major group of survivors should be a good thing, but the leaders of the other group are flat-out insane, talking about turning the womenfolk into breeders and trying to tell Texans that Big Government is the only solution to the Zombie Apocalypse. Might as well try and take their guns away. Be prepared for more death and undead moaning, as the Good Guys in the Fort have to defend themselves against the largest Zombie Horde ever, as well as rescue old friends and new from the doomed Shopping Mall group.
In case you don’t know, or in case your library doesn’t do this, at BPL we have the “Speed Reads”. These are new, popular books that cannot be reserved, can only be taken out for one week and cannot be renewed. There’s a dollar a day fine for being overdue. This means that some books (Like “The Cuckoo’s Calling”, which has 157 holds on 25 copies – at 28 days per person…) can be found on the shelf, read and returned before the hold on the regular copy would ever reach the top of the list.
I mention this because that’s where I found this book. I might never have considered it otherwise. It’s a strange book to recommend, because it’s the story of a girl with cancer, who meets a boy who had cancer in a cancer support group. They fall in love and travel to meet an author the girl has idolised for years. That sounds lovely, but this book will not just tug on your heartstrings, it attaches your heartstrings to a moving truck, then invites a family of gorillas to play on your heartstrings like a jungle gym. I was a complete mess by the end of it, but very glad I read it.
I’m skipping the picture, because The Redemption of Althalus got its own mini-review in the previous post. If you loved “The Belgariad” and read all of “The Mallorean”, then “Belgarath” and “Polgara” and STILL didn’t feel like you’d had enough, try this book. It’s in the same style, has a central character who could be Belgarath and covers much of the same ground.
I saw this book go by twice at work before I got hold of it. Yes, I judge a book by its cover, that’s what they’re FOR. This one does exactly what it says on the tin, regaling the reader with the adventures (and origin story) of a superhuman flame-haired temptress who does everything with passion and strength. Everything.
There’s a lot of political stuff, and lots of space-habitat physics, which are all nicely explained in the appendices at the end, which I didn’t notice until I had finished reading the story. To be fair, I understood enough to follow the track of events and know who to cheer for, and I was satisfied with the way the story played out. I wish I’d paid more attention to the tiny dateline at the start of each chapter, though, because the first time we plunged into history to explore the central character’s backstory, I was completely non-plussed. Maybe I’m just stupid.*
So, that’s my reading for August. As ever, I’ve skipped over the audio books I’m enjoying, though one of those was JK Rowling’s…excuse me, ROBERT GALBRAITH’S “The Cuckoo’s Calling”. It’s an excellent detective story, and worth checking out whatever your opinion of the author, the story behind the release or whatever. Next month the kids are back to school, I have more library shifts and I have to finish writing my own novella. It’s nearly done now, which means it’s nearly time to do the editing and design the cover etc etc. I’ll also be on the lookout for beta-readers, so any volunteers, either email me or leave contact details in the comments below.
As usual, I’ve stolen all the illustrations for this piece from Amazon, but on the other hand, I’ve also supplied links for all the books mentioned, so it’s all free publicity for them. I’m nice that way. If you’d rather I used YOUR pictures for something, leave your contact details in the comments below.
*This is a popular theory in my house.