The Book Thread - November 2015

So many good games out this time of year, no one is reading anything…

I did manage to listen to the audiobook version of Jim Butcher’s new book The Cinder Spires: the Aeronaut’s Windlass. As the title would suggest, this is the first book in a series. Although I don’t know how many books Butcher says he has planned for this one, I was very impressed with his other limited series - the Codex Alera books - which I thought were pretty tightly plotted and benefited from having a distinct beginning middle and end.

This particular world is set up to provide a swashbuckling, Age-of-Sail adventure with some fun fantasy twists. Plot-wise, you can take most of the “beats” from Star Wars Ep IV and map them almost directly to this story, but that’s really a great thing. Butcher introduces a fairly large cast and sets out the rules for the world as the story goes on, which makes for great reading. As always his pacing is fantastic.

From an audiobook standpoint, the narrator (Euan Morton) was really good once he got going, but he seemed to struggle with Butcher’s sentence structure early on, so the first fourth of the book sounded a little stilted. He got better quickly.

I wonder how many times an audiobook professional practices a book before the published version is selected. I would think that the unfamiliarity could have been avoided if the narrator practiced more?

I have added the book to my wishlist; thanks for the heads up! :)

Reading The Gold Coast, a Nelson DeMille. I normally like this author but this is slow going, about 150 pages in and not much has happened. I think this is what happens when a thriller/adventure writer tries to write something that at the time(1990) was more NYT Bestseller Mainstream.

Which is a bit ironic since the NYT best sellers are now thriller/adventure, mystery, and SF. How the book world has changed!

It’s not good, and the sequel (The Gate House) is even worse. I think a huge part of my continued fondness for Nelson DeMille is still residual goodwill from Cathedral, which is just an incredible thriller.

I read the latest mystery book by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling): Career of Evil. Of the three books in the “Cormoran Strike” detective series, I thought that this one was the weakest. Rather than being a murder mystery, this is more of a thriller, with a good chunk of the book being written from the killer’s POV.

While that did not spoil the mystery, neither did it add anything to the overall plot: each of those scenes was written in such a way as to avoid revealing which one of the suspects was behind the events. And because no new clues were dropped in those scenes… well, what good is a chapter in a mystery novel that doesn’t advance the mystery?

That said, I enjoyed it. “Galbraith’s” writing is excellent and the plotting is good. A vast swath of the book is dedicated to fleshing out the character of one of the two protagonists and deepening the relationship between them – and while that’s not advancing the core mystery either, it IS advancing the whole meta-story of the series, which is good.

Reading the first of the Lymond Chronicles, The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnet. An entertaining rogue’s tale set in the context of yet another English invasion of Scotland, this one to secure Mary as King Edward’s wife in the 1540s after the death of Henry VIII. There’s some enormously fun stuff in this book, but in places it’s difficult to read due to the density of poetic quotes, latin tags, obscure historical references, and broad scots dialect.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. (which I had been meaning to get around to for awhile). Wonderful.

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick. Really liked it, sorry there was never a sequel. Wanted to read this before the series hit Amazon; decided to finally do it after watching the first two eps during the preview weekend.

I’m forgetting something. And I am behind on reading this month, sadly.

Blindsight by Peter Watts, in progress.

October and November were not really big reading months until the end of november.

Finished The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross. It was ok, I guess. I like the Laundry series well enough and it’s a couple of years since I read the last one. Was a bit underwhelmed, I guess. I felt like it was “Series concept deals with [insert genre]” more than a book that expanded the series and the overall plot, like the last one in the series did.

Continued The Selfish Gene. Richard Dawkins really knows how to write. This is a pretty old classic and the stuff in it is known to me, but it is still very interesting to read.

Read The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect by Grame Simsion. Both were really fun, and can be read in an afternoon. The second one felt a bit like retreading the same waters, though. Still, the way it stuck with keeping everything to the perspective of the viewpoint character was really well done. All the small assertions of world-view Donald made made me chuckle out loud a lot.

Now, onwards with The Three-Body Problem.

I’m STILL reading Malazan book 8, but I’m 78% through it finally! It’s been a great book, I just have a hard time focusing when I read - so many other games, movies, TV to watch. I think I have restless brain syndrome.

I have somewhat unusual habit of either dropping a book after only 10-15 pages or re-reading the same one for 4-5 or even more times (especially if I like it a lot) and/or (re)reading more of them simultaneously.

Besides some “boring” chess ones, I’m currently going (on and on…) through some 20th century Serbian writers (typically never even translated to English, thus no point in giving titles, I guess), Proust’s “In Search of lost Time” and Camus’ “The Stranger”.