Books and Things

Here’s a list of what’s going in my eyes.  I may add other categories or topics as time goes by.  Some might call this insight. I call it vanity.  I update this irregularly, and often miss key books.  Feel free to start a discussion on any or all of them.

What I’m Reading:   Yes, I’m way out of date here.  The World of Ice and Fire is still in process.

What I’ve read

The Ice Limit and Riptide by Douglas Preston.  Yes, candy as a guilty pleasure.  Yummy candy of course.

The Fifth Heart by Dan Simmons.  Sherlock Holmes runs across Mark Twain while Working with Henry James.  With Heroin and Moriarty.  Good stuff!

Lowball: a Wild Card Novel by many people.  Love these. More please.

Medicine for the Dead by Tex Thompson.  Even better than her first book.

Nemesis Games by James SA Corey.  Get on board before the Expanse hits Syfy!

Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers by Stephen King.  Good Stuff.

The Southern Reach Trilogy (Anhiliation, Authority and Acceptace) by Jeff VanderMeer.  Three books delving into madness and Lovecraftian horror in an exceedingly creepy way.  No wonder I’m a bit schitzophrenic.  Highly recommended.

The Lost Island and Blue Labyrinth by Preston and Child.  Agent Pendergast and Gideon Crew are back.  My guilty pleasures.  Once you start, you just want more.  What do you mean you don’t believe in 115 year old teen agers living in your basement? bah.

Revival by Stephen King.  I loved this. A serious return to form. And an homage to H.P. Lovecraft.  Highly recommended

The Witch with No Name by Kim Harrison.  And the Hollows saga named for spaghetti westerns comes to a (mostly) satisfying conclusion.

Hyde by Vince Churchill.  Erotic Noir  and there is a post on it.   A short, but very worthwhile read.  At least if share my distinctive tastes.  This is not The Good Earth. 🙂

The Shake by Mel Nicolai.  I really liked this book.  And I hated it.  An interesting premise an intriguing character and reasonably well written plot.  It takes place in and around Sacramento, with the requisite road trip to San Francisco. I was all in.  But then, some of the motivations seemed off.  Ok, I”ll look past that.  Then a mediocre twist which was clearly setting up, nothing.  I’m guessing this should have been the first half of a longer novel, but was intended as the first of several.  Since there are no others and unlikely to be more (it was published 4 years ago, with other novels published since) this book becomes that piece of clothing you love, with the horrid stain you can’t get out.  At somepoint,you just can’t shake the stain from being all you see.

The Vampire Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas.  There were some very interesting ideas about vampires, what they really are and how they hide in our society.   I guess “tapestry” comes from several narratives that while connected are still a bit disjointed.  At the end I felt like I was watching Don Draper in Season 1 of Mad Men.  While the book predates Mad Men by a few years, the concept of the existential crisis does not.  At least he doesn’t sparkle.

The Golden by Lucius Sheppard.  An interesting take on the vampire detective.  Parts we delightful and intriguing, others just trite.  I didn’t hate the ending, but I did expect much more.  I took the bullet for you on this one.

The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman.  What’s not to love about Grossman’s Magician trilogy?  Rich well conceived characters in unusual and unexpected situations.  Always a delight.

The Widow’s House by Daniel Abraham.  I love The Dagger and the Coin series.  Think of it as a mini Game of Thrones. (Abraham does write the comic adaptation and has been GRRM;s assistant at some point as I recall.)  I know Syfy is airing The Expanse (Leviathan Wakes) next year, but they should really get on board with this before HBO or Cinemax grabs it first.  Great stuff that you should be reading.

A Night in Sixes by Ariane “Tex” Thompson.  Full disclosure:  I met Tex last year at WorldCon.  I was immediately charmed and looked forward to her first publication with much enthusiasm.  I’ve been rewarded.  But the woman and the book, well, how do I put this?  While she’s charming and light and fun and engaging, the novel is dark, dense and packed with mythos.  I’m not complaining, I’m hooked;  it is not at all what I was expecting.  Cowboys, a dystopian future of some sort- maybe, and a language to learn — but there is a glossary 🙂 – it is not a casual read.  This is probably exacerbated by the contrast to the Abercrombie I just finished.  I’m loving it.

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie.  @grimdark does YA.  It’s dark. It’s grim. It’s got twists (ok, I saw some of them) and it was thoroughly enjoyable.  In this case YA seems to mean, no sex, quicker transitions and scenes jump.  You know like in Game of Thrones when they skip the battle and show the aftermath.  That being said, I really enjoyed it.  And having heard him read a chapter and talk for an hour, I’m a bigger fan than I was.  Which says something.

Rogues by Gardner Dozier and George RR Martin.  I’m more than half way through and the stories just get better and better. Joe Abecrombie, Daniel Abraham, Scott Lynch and Patrick Rothfuss (and a Song of Ice and Fire Novella) are the headliners.  I’m finding new writes that I haven’t read before and love what I’m reading.  Carrie Vaughn, Garth Nix, Phyllis Eisenstein and Michael Swanick have made a fan of their work.  You won’t be disappointed, unless what you are looking for is the new  Ann Colter book.  Then there is nothing for you here.

Cibola Burn by James SA Corey (or Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck as you may know them)  The 4th book in the Expanse series is the best since the first and might be better than Leviathan Wakes.  I couldn’t put it down and I look forward to Syfy’s adaptation of this series in 2015.  As an added bonus there are now a series of ebook novellas that support the novels.  The first two – The Churn and Gods of Risk – are great, filling in color and back story on some of your favorite characters.

The Last Kind Words &  The Last Whisper in the Dark by Tom Piccirilli.  I loved Tom’s fantastic horror books. Now I’ve discovered his crime/noir output.  I loved his characters and timing.  These are great reads and I can’t wait for more about Terrier Rand and his (mostly) crooked family.

Ruin and Rising  by Leigh Bardugo.  The last  book in the Greisha Trilogy by my fellow Awful, Awful Knight.  A great tale, with great characters and more than a few twists I did not see coming.  If I had teenagers, this would be required reading.  These are the sort of books that instill the love of literature.  Yeah, I said it.

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King.  Loved it.  More of a violent crime dive in madness and redemption than a true horror novel.  Loved it.

Dr. Sleep by Stephen King.  Reviews were lukewarm to positive. I really enjoyed it.  I do believe King has started returning to form, word and plot wise.

Robert E. Howard:  Tales of El Borak and The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian.  Neither of these really conform to public perception.  El Borak is part of the inspiration for Indiana Jones and Conan makes the movie version look like Pee Wee Herman.

Dangerous Women  –  Edited by some guy named GRRM and Gardner Dozois.   A seriously great read.  Martin’s recounting of the Dance of the Dragons was well worth the price of admission.  Wrestling Jesus by Joe R. Lansdale might have been the best read in the book.

Old Mars – Edited by some guy named GRRM and Gardner Dozois.  Lots of fun with some great stories here.  I loved the Joe R. Lansdale story was one of my favorites.

Abominable by Dan Simmons.  Yes Dan is one of my favorite authors.  I don’t give a fuck about mountain climbing, but I can’t put this book down.  And the yeti?  Just mere footnotes in conversations.  This is his best book in years.  And The Terror was fantastic.

Blood and Thunder by Mark Finn.  A biography of Robert E. Howard.  I know you are thinking, “he wrote Conan, right?”  He did. And so much more.  After meeting Mark at World Con, I couldn’t wait to devour this.  You are right, I don’t usually read biographies. I really enjoyed this and gained an even greater appreciation for Howard.

The Republic of Theives by Scott Lynch.  What do you mean you haven’t read The Lies of Locke Lamora?  Go read that, then Red Seas under Red Skies and jump to this.  Everyone should know the Gentleman Bastards.  Someday they will. Remember I told you so.

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill.  I really liked this much more than I thought I would based on the reviews.  Solid, creative and fun.  No, I do not want a Rolls Royce.  I had a hard time putting it down.

Grave Yard Child by M.L.N Havover.  You knew this was Daniel Abraham, right?  Sense a pattern? I do love this urban fantasy series.  Highly unique and fun.  No, its not Faulker.  Thank God.

Abaddon’s Gate by James SA Corey.  You knew this was Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.  There is a reason Leviathan Wakes was nominated for a Hugo.  You should be reading the Expanse.

The Tyrant’s Law by Daniel Abraham.  You really should be reading the Dagger and Coin Series.

Ever After by Kim Harrison.  I was ready to give Kim and Rachel Morgan a kick in the ass after the last book, but there has been a stay of execution.  Not wild about the “off screen” deaths.  Leave that shit to GRRM.

Two Graves by Preston and Child.  Agent Pendergast, back in action.

The Twelve by Justin Cronin.  Had to jump right back in. 🙂  I really like this.

Cold Days by Jim Butcher.  Harry Dresden, Assassin.  Kinda.  at least so far.  I love how good Butcher has gotten. And Yes, I know he’s not James Joyce or William Faulkner. Loved it.

The Passage by Justin Cronin. I have soft spot for Vampire door stops. 🙂  this will be where 2013 starts.  I loved this.  Wasn’t wild about the end, but then I walked in knowing it was going to be more than 1 book.

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon.  Got to love a book that takes place where your heart is.  You know that Telegraph Avenue ends at the Cal campus, right?  Well, this takes place oh…just down the way into Oakland.

Red Country – Joe Abecrombie.  Abecrombie does a western.  I loved it, but his weakest work in my opinion.

This Case is Gonna Kill Me – Phillipa Bornikova .  Melinda Snodgrass’ pen name.  A delightful piece of candy and clearly the first in what seems to be a series.

Flashback – Dan Simmons.  Loved it.  Best Simmons since The Terror!

Kraken by China Mieville’   I gave up.  not recommended.

 Black Hills by Dan Simmons  not what I expected, totally delighted

Caliban’s War by James S.A. Corey (or Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck if you prefer.)   The second installment of “The Expanse” is wonderful and captivating.

The King’s Blood by Daniel Abraham.  Mr. Abraham can do no wrong.  His writing output makes Stephen King look like a slacker.

League of Strays by LB Schulman a very interesting YA novel.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.  Interesting Premise, well written by a fellow Awful, Awful Knight of the Brotherhood without Banners.

The Kingdom – John R. Mabry – Gay Friar Exorcists in Berkeley? Im in.  An enjoyable read, the ending was a bit too quick and the sequel obvious.

Leviathan Wakes by James SA Corey  Finished 5/30/12  Highly recommended.  I had trouble putting this down.

A Special Place by Peter  Straub

Embassytown by China Mieville

A Dark Matter by Peter Straub

The Cold Commands by Richard Morgan

The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan

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