Book Thread: October 2017


Continuing the discussion from Book Thread: September 2017: @Rod_Humble may not be willing to start the new thread, but I’m happy to! Two weeks into the month, it’s about time!

I’ve been reading some short stuff lately. I just finished Cracked! A Magic iPhone Story, which as you can probably guess from the title is modern urban fantasy. There’s a definite target audience here: gaming nerds, familiarity with Pacific Northwest culture, non-traditional lifestyles. I loved it - those with less affinity for any of those things may not.


Excellent! I am working my way though:

It has become very clear, very quickly I need a refresher on the topics the first two books covered. :)

I also finished up

Pretty good. At least good enough I am looking for more Ralph Kern to read. It definitely held my interest and although it does nothing special it ties together a lot of my favourite SF themes, exploration, how human society develops over time, how alien societies develop over time and a nice side of “mystery ancient aliens”. All bundled up into a neat package.


Just wrapped up Heavier than A Mountain, the third book in Olaf Thorensens’ “Destiny’s Crucible” series.

The series is kind of my “guilty pleasure” series of the moment. It;s really not that good, but at the same time, I’m having a great time listening to it. The prose is fine and the characters are decent, but the plotting and pacing (and even time-lines) are all over the place with lots of unnecessary repetition and exposition (though slightly less than in previous books). If you’ve made it through the first two books, you’ll find this one is pretty good.

Non-spoilers; just me venting

Thorensen’s action sequences are great and he has obviously done an obsessive level of planning and world-building, but it’s a slog to get through the first two-thirds of the book before anything exciting happens.

The sequences with the enemy POV are a little better this time around. At least they’re not endlessly briefing themselves on stuff shown in the previous chapters. I still don’t care much about them though.

It’s maddening: I honestly think that I could have done a better job writing this book than Thorensen did as it stands, but I reckon a couple passes by a competent editor could turn the series into something really special. Here’s hoping that the success of the series leads to that level of professionalism.


I just finished Origin by Dan Brown. I’m a sucker for the Robert Langdon series. It scratches the same itch the Uncharted Games do: some sort of action/adventure with a tapestry of sort-of, kind-of, not really historical veneer.

This one I felt was the weakest so far. I liked the ending and the main characters. It involves human origins and the big bang theory, which I felt was a tough nut to crack. What I usually liked about the series is the flying around the figuring out of different quest pieces. There wasn’t as much of that this time.

There was some good thoughts on the role technology plays in our lives which I did enjoy.


Read Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace, first in the Sin du Jour series of light humorous fantasy.

I’ll be reading more of these at some point, because this one was a lot of fun. It makes fun of fast food and has an army of zombie clowns, what’s not to love? Quick read, and there’s another half-dozen or so in the series to track down for more of the same.


Another book! Been chugging through them recently. Stay Crazy by Erika Satifka is, in fact, fairly crazy. The narrator is a young woman with schizophrenic and depression, who ends up saving the world from an extra-dimensional invasion largely because of her mental state. Or maybe it’s all in her head, who knows? The important thing is that the book is entertaining as well as a very interesting story of someone dealing with a mental illness. I can see why this book was nominated for a British Fantasy Award.


I recently finished The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. I really liked this, especially since being written in the 70’s I can see how it influenced several writers later on. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi for instance. Also you can see how much it is effected by the times it was written, in fact I would have guessed it was written earlier in the 60’s.


I read the Lord Darcy collection by Randall Garrett after @Don_Quixote recommended it in another thread. It was really enjoyable, I recommend it. It really scratched the itch for urban fantasy. Good alternate history, fun to read and good twists on the crime fiction it draws inspiration from. Why haven’t I heard about these before?

Anyone know if the two follow-up novels by another author are any good?


I finished my readthrough of Prince of Thorns Series, with Emperor of Thorns. The ending, well, not the pseudo one, but the real one, was amazing. I kept thinking what a great series these books would make. Especially in these days where the hero doesn’t actually have to be a hero.
Despite my initial misgivings, I really enjoyed the series, especially since it seemed to me that the protagonist was more of a real person than most fantasy sagas are able to portray. I really recommend it!

Has anyone read the other Mark Lawrence books in the series, and are they just as good?


I really enjoyed that series. I agree that the protagonist was nicely fully realized and he did a lot of cool stuff with the setting. I have not gotten around to the followups though.

A couple things I have been reading, since I’ve been neglecting to post in these threads:

Interesting epic fantasy series with a pretty cool mythology and protagonists who have a great deal of power but never quite manage to counter their foes until they’ve already lost much they care about.

A young thief who’s acquired superhuman powers of illusion thanks to an undertested vaccine attempts a heist with her crew but things go dangerously wrong thanks to the involvement of federal law enforcement, the target not being what they thought, and an up and coming crime syndicate. Lots of nice world details and good characterization. I also read the sequel and enjoyed that quite a bit.

Currently working on
A scientist as a young girl literally falls onto a giant metal hand of unknown origin as a child. It proves to be of alien origin, and there are more body parts where that came from. So far the story is about the assembly and study of this giant, told as a series of news stories, journals and most commonly interviews with the characters by a mysterious unnamed man, who has access to great resources and the ear of the US president but very deliberately refuses to disclose much information about himself in the course of these interviews. There are a few things that feel a little too coincidental and I’m hoping they’re actually this guy pulling strings behind the scenes (in the ruthless way he’s been established to have) but not having acknowledged it since the characters involved haven’t realized that yet. But even if it’s just authorial fiat I think the book will survive.


I finished Deep Freeze, the latest Flowers novel by John Sandford. Man, I love this guy’s writing. I hope he lives to be 300. I love how he starts with the crime as it is committed, and you know who did it, but by the end there are so many twists and turns you’re not sure who did it at the end.


My October read-a-thon continues with Club Anyone by Lou Agresta.

Like cyberpunk? Corporate-dominated dystopia your kind of genre? OK with movie-style action in book form? This is a good one for you. It takes a while to really get rolling, I thought, but after about the halfway point things really pick up.


So I just read the initial book of two different trilogies.

I enjoyed them, so went to Amazon to order books 2 and 3 of each.

In both cases the Amazon order page for the third book contained a spoiler for the 2nd book, one a massive one.

Seriously, Amazon??


They are meh. Utterly fail to capture the righteous christian tone and style. Which is funny considering what Randall Garrett was like a person, but anyway, no, the original stories are way better.


Quillifer by Walter Jon Williams was a meh. I like a lot of WJW’s stuff, but this was a plain old rogue’s journey story that could have been written by anyone 50 years ago, or even 75 or 100. Very much old hat. Well written, but dull. If you want to read witty alternate-world roguery, Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint series (and the current Tremontaine serial) are far superior.


Thats why, when I saw what was shown when I posted the amazon link to book three in Prince of Thorns, I changed it back to book one.


Ok, thanks!


Read The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch. It’s a novelette that takes place between book 5 and 6 in the PC Grant/Rivers of London series. It was okay, about on par with the series. Not completely sure what the intent of it was, though. It did add more texture to the world, but I wonder if it is meant to set up something for the next books.


I just finished the second Wheel of Time book, The Great Hunt. Only like 17 left! It’s turned into more of a harem thing than expected.


May have to try that series.

Just ordered this from The Book Depository.