Books – April/May 2009

April and May were both escapist months when it came to reading and books, so a lot more “colorful covered” books, before I started tackling the Crusades in late May.

Red Seas Under Red Skies – Scott Lynch – The continuing adventures of Locke Lamorra! Again fun characters abound in his books, but his protagonists continue to bend believability again and again as they get through more and more scrapes and dead ends through sheer pluck and luck. Still the book is highly entertaining, and the heists and cons they pull off are always fun to read. It’s not a top series in my book, but I’ll continue to read these adventures for the time being when he continues to write them. Gotta love finding a cheap hardback version at Half Price Books as well.

Return of the Crimson Guard – Ian C. Esselmont – The other half of the writing duo for the Malazan saga. Bought this up in Canada when visiting my aunt, since it’s not due out here in the states until later this year, and was very very pleased. The writing style is different than Steven Erikson, but he more than holds his own when it comes to telling a story in this sprawling world they’ve created. A twisted tale of betrayal and civil war, it really adds to what has already been built upon, with an ending that really impacts the main storyline of Erikson’s books immensely! If you’re a fan of Erikson’s books at all, you owe it to yourself to make sure you read what Esselmonts been writing as well.

Venus – Ben Bova – Somehow I return for more. I think at the time my “to read” shelf was fairly empty, and I just wanted a lightweight book to read. So it was. Actually I enjoyed it best probably out of the three Bova books I’ve read this year. This time it’s about an expedition to Venus, told with a great attention to actual science and plausible problems and solutions to making a voyage to the second planet of our solar system. Somewhat better characters, but I really don’t think I’ll be reading Bova in the future, unless someone says they have the greatest book ever and all the others pale in comparison to this new book! Just not enough to hold me to read more.

Halting State – Charles Stross – I’d heard a lot about Stross over the years and never picked him up for some reason. Sad that I didn’t. Halting State takes you into the story of a crew solving a bank heist in a virtual world game, that has real world consequences and value. An interesting take, considering economists are writing papers on the economies of MMORPG’s, and the actual real world value of in game currency and items, make this story all too plausible in the future here.

So now another couple months knocked out. This is getting fun. I should have done this months ago!

Books – March 2009

March. Ahh March. I read a bit. Mostly to fall asleep and exhaust myself that month, but I did read a few books, and enjoyed them. Let’s see what we’ve got here. A lot of Science Fiction it seems.

Foundation and Empire – Issac Asimov – Continuing down the Foundation Trilogy track, this one is good, and brings a strong story line throughout the book, but it’s not as “fun” as the first. I really enjoy the antagonist through the book, the Mule, who throws all the plans of The Foundation, into flux, but the protagonists are a tad annoying and that doesn’t help the book at all. Still, I love the series, and the last book in the trilogy does it well. Maybe I’ll read that later this year on a Goodwill pickup or something. I’ve read them before, but it never hurts to go back to enjoyable popcorn books at times.

Mars – Ben Bova – This, along with the other Ben Bova book below, was given to me by a friend who recommended Bova highly. It’s less a typical SciFi book, with aliens and laser blasters, but more of a fiction book that takes current science and projects a story into the future. It’s about the first manned mission to Mars, and the crew of people sent there. It was good, but there is something about Bova’s writing I can’t put my finger on. It’s enjoyable, but I finished the book feeling that something was still lacking in the end. Still it was a good diversion.

Lies of Locke Lamorra – Scott Lynch – Recommended through the same place I discovered Erikson, here’s a story of a band of con artists and the elaborate stunts they pull off against a backdrop of a city under turmoil. Quite enjoyable, with many times you are left in the dark as to how they’ll pull off their next stunt, but by the end of the book the amazing cleverness of the lead starts to wear thin as he avoids yet another deathly situation through his quick thinking. I enjoyed it enough to get the sequel, which I read in April, but I wouldn’t put it on my must read list for friends who are looking for a new book or series to read. That says a lot there.

Orion – Ben Bova – Ah, Bova is back with a story of a man sent back in time to try and stop a mysterious opponent who’s traveling forwards in time at different key points in humanity’s past. Good? For a quick summer read maybe, but in the end I found it very disappointing. I read up on it later and found out there were two sequels to it as well, but I know those will not be part of my reading this year. It’s got a fun little gimmick to get the story started, but I just didn’t feel that it really delivered. It just left no taste, good or bad, after I was finished, when usually I’ll at least have a reaction either way. Nothing to really recommend it.

So March had a few books, and April and May have a few more. Actually I’m finding this enjoyable. I realize now that I don’t always read good books, but in the end it doesn’t matter. It’s still reading, and while I may begrudge the Dan Brown’s of the world, I also know that more than anything he’s got millions of people reading who don’t normally. I’ll take people enjoying a book any day. Glad that they can join me and many others in the comfort of a book, be it good or bad.