Book Thread 2018^H9


I am reading Holy Ghost by John Sandford. It is a Virgil Flowers book and I am tending to enjoy those more than the Davenport novels at this point.

I also read 33 of the Spenser Novels this year so far. I decided to go back through the old catalog. I had forgotten how good most of them are. They are also fairly quick reads, hence reading 33 of them.

I am on track to hit my goal of 52 books this year, mostly due to how quick the Spenser novels are.


Finished Mavericks: Expeditionary Force Book 6, by Craig Alanson.

As always, the action was well-written and the wacky situations coupled with the equally-wacky solutions are entertaining. But as with the 5th book, the whole shtick is wearing a little thin. The ending of this book implies a shift in the focus from “desperate struggle to stay hidden” to “long-shot plan to change things”, but I’m not sure I’m going to have the enthusiasm to see this thing through to the end.

The structure of this book was a little different: It’s like the author wrote another novella set in the same universe (e.g., “Trouble in Paradise”) with the side-characters, but decided that a full-sized novel was a better idea so he kind of taped another, less-interesting story with the main characters onto it. The result is a bit uneven – the “climax” action scene is about halfway through the book with the second half being one long denouement.

So if you’re enjoying the series (and liked Book 5) then this one is fine… it advances the main story just a little and tries to inject some much-needed romance elements into the fiction… but it’s no great shakes.


I finished it, but… yeah. It was goofy.


The fact that they were selling some of their operatives into prostitution kind of bothered me.

Anyway, can anyone recommend the “Keys to the Kingdom” series by Garth Nix?

How about the “Alliance-Union” books by C. J. Cherryh?

I am struggling to find stuff at my local library.


IIRC, they were already prostitutes who were also highly trained spies. I could be mis-remembering, but there was definite agency on the part of the operatives there. Did you get to the Lay of Wal-mart?


I don’t think I got that far, no.


Garth Nix is a treasure, and yes, those books are pretty solid. (Though not quite up to his Abhorsen series - I think they were maybe aimed at a bit younger audience?) Though I disagree with enough of your above takes that I wouldn’t necessarily guarantee you’ll agree.


A group of Vikings sack a Wal-mart, and The Lay is an epic poem (presented in full in the novel) written about the event. It’s pretty hilarious and glorious. You really can’t take that novel too seriously. When you just kind of let go and let its idiosyncratic surrealism take control, it becomes much more funny and enjoyable.


I definitely recommend Downbelow Station and Cyteen, the two award winning books out of that series. The others I read are good too, just not the same caliber.


Fast Minds is a book about developing strategies for living with ADHD and similar conditions. It’s helpful, but somewhat scattershot – a lot of the advice is somewhat obvious and surface-level, and there’s a fair amount of hand-waving “explore and find what works for you in this area”. I think it could have been more productive to do some deeper dives into the nuts and bolts of the systems that actually did work for real people and then discuss how you might modify them. Still a good general overview, though. 3.5/5

The comparison that struck me a short way into Crazy Rich Asians and never really let up was to Ready Player One. This is most obviously for the endless paragraphs of name-dropping real-world proper nouns (just with high fashion and food instead of '80s movies and games), but it also holds true for the simplistically drawn characters and blatantly telegraphed twists, as well as the breezy and broadly entertaining pace. Both are the literary equivalent of potato chips – quick and easy to consume, pleasant enough in the moment, but lacking in substance. 3/5


New Honor Harrington book out finally!


Unfortunately, the fraction of each book devoted to awesome star ship combat has been dropping like a rock as the series has progressed. I guess I can just skip over the boring parts but it might make for a short book.


Been reading Gunpowder Moon by David Pedreira. Hard sci-fi mystery thriller about a murder on a moon colony set about 100 years from now. Quite good for a debut novel.


Finished The Black Company by Glen Cook. I loved the world-building and most of the characters. I really enjoyed the mixing of Croaker’s role as annalist and narrator. I will probably read further in this series at a later point. While I liked the first Garret P.I. book by Glen Cook, this is really in a completely different league.


I loved the Black Company books but I just couldn’t get into the Garret books.


Yikes, don’t leave the Dominator hanging like that.


Just finished Gunpowder Moon myself. Solid!


Supreme Commander: The War Years of Dwight D. Eisenhower was a fascinating read, covering the course of events on the Western front of WWII from a very high level, and teasing out the ways in which familiar battles and operations were shaped by factors of supply and logistics, intra-alliance disagreements, jockeying for post-war positions, weather, public sentiment, and more. It follows Eisenhower closely, which is both a strength in that he was the nexus of so many conflicting pressures from all sides, and a weakness in that as portrayed here he isn’t a particularly dynamic figure, and his personality is told in a few interlude chapters rather than coming through naturally via interactions with others. It also felt a bit too obviously in his corner, with negative perspectives mentioned only to be rejected, and the biggest criticism it seems to level at him is a reticence to put his foot down with subordinates.

It remains very readable and informative throughout, and does a great job exploring the reasons for how things played out without bogging down in minutiae. As a casual reader, the frequent references to specific divisions, generals, and geographic features tended to blur together, but the main thrust of the historical analysis was easy to follow regardless. 4.5/5


Read quite a bit this week:

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I liked it, see why it is a classic. So it goes.
The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game by Mary Pilon. A great history about the origin of Monopoly and how Parker Brothers tried to keep it under wraps. It is on sale in the Kindle store too at the moment.


I finished Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, and liked it quite a bit. It was set in the town my GF used to live in and that was nice.

I also finished Silent Corner by Dean Koontz and I wasn’t too thrilled with the ending.

Now on Chances, book 23 in the Spenser series.