Found: Sad Recommendation

While on vacation in Branson, MO this year, I found a cute little bookstore called Calvin’s Used Books. It was a little messy, a little cramped, and a lot of fun. I found quite a few goodies, including a beautifully well put together Bruce Lee biography (with tons of exclusive and gorgeous photos–the owner commented, “Well that didn’t last long here!”) and Honolulu, about a young Korean girl named Regret who escapes to Hawai’i.

The third book I added to my collection was Don DeLillo’s Libra. I’ve yet to read the novel, but I’ve read a few of DeLillo’s other works. They intrigued (or confused) me enough to purchase Libra. (See White Noise–an excellent commentary on ad pollution.)

Inside Libra, I found a recommendation. While I think it’s lovely to recommend books to your friends, it might not be the best idea to write inside the cover. You know, in case that person doesn’t like the book and ends up selling it! Or, since I found this particular note so amusing, maybe it IS a good idea. Keep up the sad, but cute recommendations, folks!

Displaying IMG_1331.JPG

For reference, the note reads,

“Dear Mike –
This is one of my
favorites. Hope you
like it too. Take care
and Merry Christmas
Love,
??????”
I actually cannot decipher the name. Any suggestions? I’m thinking Latnil, Catrie, Latwil… Yeah, I’ve never been good at deciphering cursive. Help appreciated.

UPDATE: Cathie has been suggested and I think that’s a fantastic guess. Some people are much better than me at this cursive business.

Getting Ready for NerdCon

In October, I’ll be attending NerdCon: Stories. Their aim is to celebrate all things nerdy, which I’m always up for. On the agenda is a host of fun story-telling-themed panels and events. While they’re still setting up the actual schedule, the one thing that’s caught my eye so far is “Life Online: From Meme to Memoir.”

In addition to exciting panels, NerdCon is playing host to a huge number of podcastors, novelists, cartoonists, musicians, poets, etc. Some people I’m excited for:

Patrick Rothfuss

John Scalzi

Lev Grossman

Holly Black

Rainbow Rowell

John Green More

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

The Goblin Emperor is a 483 page novel, by Katherine Addison, published by Tor Fantasy in April of 2014. I read the novel with a friend, who suggested the book to me in the first place.

The Goblin EmperorMaia, a half-goblin teenage boy, is forced to leave his secluded home at Edonomee after the emperor–a man who may have begot Maia but certainly never raised or loved him–and the emperor’s three sons die in an explosion. Maia assumes a busybody life at the Imperial Court, taking his place as the new emperor. Roughly the first half of the book deals with Maia being awkward, confused, and embarrassingly ignorant about goings on in the empire and the machinations of the Imperial Court. More

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

After learning Rainbow Rowell was going to give a talk/signing at my local library (and that she’s going to be at NerdCon), I finally decided to jump on the bandwagon and start reading her books. I was not disappointed. I started with Fangirl, which is still my favorite. Even so, Landline is a solid novel–published in July of 2014 by St. Martin’s Press.

The narrative revolves around Georgie’s (possibly) failing marriage. She gets the break of a lifetime when a network wants to pick up the show she and her best friend Seth have been writing together since college. Unfortunately, they want episodes written in the next couple weeks, which span Christmas-time. While Georgie backs out on going to Nebraska with her husband and children, she also proceeds to fail to write anything while she is consumed with worry at the bumps that have come up in her relationship with her husband, Neal. More

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Annihilation is a sci-fi/supernatural/horror novel by Jeff VanderMeer, published by FSG Originals in February of 2014. The other two novels in the Southern Reach Trilogy were both released in 2014 as well.

Annihilation (Southern Reach, #1)

A journal belonging to a woman who was part of the twelfth expedition to mysterious and dangerous Area X–a place where no one has ever truly come back alive from–is found by an unexpectant reader. Myself. I personally adore novels written in the form of a journal and Annihilation only served to reinforce that adoration.

The main character, a biologist, set out to Area X with a psychologist, surveyor, archeologist, and lingiust. They’re charged with exploring the walled off Area X but things don’t go the way any of them planned. More

Grand Returns

I realized the other day how long it had been since I’d written a review when I got turned down for an ARC of a book. On Netgalley, that has never been the case before and they suggested updating my blog.

After getting a new job, moving, and trying to settle in to a new routine, reading had been the last thing on my mind. But now that I’m settled… I’ve jumped into the “start a million new books” phase. I just started reading The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling, Authority by Jeff VanderMeer, which is the excellent sequel to AnnihilationThe Way of Kings by a favorite of mine–Brandon Sanderson, and I’ve about finished Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds which rides on the blazing space cowboy trail left by Firefly. 

Devoting time to reading has been so refreshing… Damn, I just love a good book. Here’s to many more in both of our futures.

 

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian is a 369 page science fiction novel by Andy Weir. It was originally self published, then picked up for publication by Crown in February of 2014.

The MartianThe book begins with Mark Watney writing in his log that while his team (of astronauts on Mars) thought he died in a windstorm, he actually survived and now is living alone on Mars. As an engineer and botanist, Mark devises many different ways to extend his survival on Mars–all the while trying to figure out how to contact his team or Earth, both of whom believe him to be dead and his mission to be scrapped. The plot revolves around his triumphs and failures on Mars and his ingenuity as a lonely man and only resident Martian. More

Cover Reveal: Paradise Rot by Larry N. Weiner

Paradise Rot, Island Trilogy, Book 1, Larry N. Weiner’s first novel, was originally self published. To celebrate being re-published by Booktrope Publishing, the novel gets a new cover! It looks pretty fantastic, in my opinion. I will be reading and reviewing the book (description below).

If you’d like to enter for an ebook copy (10 lucky winners on that one) plus a grandprize Amazon gift card, ebook copy of Paradise Rot, Kenneth G. Bennet’s Exodus 2022 and The Guide, and more check out the Rafflecopter giveaway.

Displaying Paradise Rot by Larry Weiner Cover Reveal.jpg More

Another Year

I have been falling terribly behind in my reviews (from 2014)! But I am still reading diligently. I probably won’t be reviewing all the books I read this year, but I will go back and review a few of them. (The Martian by Andy Weir is coming up soon.)

In 2014, I surpassed my reading goal of 60 books by 26. That’s right, I read 86 books last year! Okay, a few of them were graphic novels–no regrets. I devoured the Sandman series–10 graphic novels written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by many fine artists. I loved the series and the Sandman himself. Gaiman blew my mind with a lot of the clever meta narrative and the entire Dream landscape was just fantastic.

I also read the Saga series (only four volumes out right now) by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples. It’s a sort of Romeo and Juliet in space/the future. Very cool.

One quick series I read in 2014 was the Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Set in the future, it’s about a society of people who have been turned “pretty” by the government. Their bodies are adjusted to be average and pretty when you turn 16, but it’s not just people’s bodies–it’s also their minds. This was a great social commentary on perceptions of beauty and worth. It’s a four book trilogy (strange, I know) and is a strong representation of excellent YA.

I attended a convention (my first) called CONvergence in the summer of 2014, and it was absolutely amazing. I got my book, The Lives of Taosigned by Wesley Chu and picked up its sequel, The Deaths of Tao. These books are about an alien species that crash land on Earth and inhabit human and animal bodies to fuel their epic war. It’s sort of like The Host with a martial aspect. I hope to read the sequel sometime this year.

In 2014, I also graduated from college and got a job. SO we shall see how much reading time in I have in 2015 once I start working 8-5 every day. My goal for this year is 72 books. I have a few books I’d like to read… but if you have any suggestions, I would love to hear what you’ll be reading or what I should be reading this year.

I am excited to read some new stuff and look forward to a year in reading!

 

The City by Dean Koontz

The City is a 398 page sort of paranormal fiction by Dean Koontz, published by Bantam in July 2014. I received an ARC from Netgalley for review.

The CityThe story centers on a young boy, Jonah Kirk Bledsoe (plus about 7 more musician’s names in between) and his experience with music, adult friends, a deadbeat father, and a spiritual embodiment of the city, known as Miss Pearl. Additional plot focuses on a bank heist, some murders, and some “intrigue.” Jonah, as a young, black piano player, idolizes many famous black musicians of his day (the 1960s). While some of the name drops of musicians and songs were an interesting add, it often didn’t feel like it had an impact on the story. More

Totally Unrelated: On Writing

I am currently taking a class called Theory and Practice of Writing. Our first assignment, besides reading, was to write a Literacy Autobiography. This is an approach to understand how we learned to write, why we write like we do, and really just learn about our writing. I took a few examples from learning various writing approaches and talked about my how my need for perfectionism in writing really stunted my desire, and therefore ability, to write. While this has almost nothing to do with book reviews, I wanted to share my story with you.

How did you learn to write? Do you remember? I had to ask my mom about it, because I have poor memory of my childhood. Ask your parents, or elementary teachers, because the response could be really interesting. Either let me know in the comments or keep the information to yourself. Anywho, here’s my paper. More

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

The Republic of Thieves, published by Del Ray in October 2013, is the third book in the Gentleman Bastard sequence, written by Scott Lynch. BEWARE, there be spoilers here. If you haven’t read the first two, I would recommend either not reading this review or not caring about spoilers.

The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastard, #3)

The main plot of the novel deals with Locke, who was poisoned at the end of book two, and Jean trying anything and everything to find a cure to the poison. Awesomely, they turn to the dangerous and exciting Bondsmagi to help cure him–in exchange for a political stint attempting to keep their government power. So, while the magic and Bondsmagi are cool, the political aspect is less interesting, except, of course, for their silly and dangerous shenanigans keeping things interesting. More

Will Not Attend by Adam Resnick

Will Not Attend: Lively Stories of Detachment and Isolation by Adam Resnick (an Emmy Award-winning writer for NBC’s Late Night with David Letterman), published by Blue Rider Press in May 2014, is a 272 page humorous memoir of sorts. I received a copy of the book from the Goodreads First Reads program. While a review isn’t mandatory, of course I’m pleased to write one.

Will Not Attend: Lively Stories of Detachment and IsolationThis book is exactly what it says it is: lively stories of detachment and isolation. Resnick takes the reader through “chapters” of short narratives about times in his life where he has been expected to be social, and either outright refused or hilariously failed. I learned more about his father than I expected, though–a strong, silent type that would get outrageously pissed off if you breathed the wrong way or made too much noise. More

Mini Reviews – British Novels Part 2

This is the second part to my reviews from the 20th Century British Novels class I took this semester. Here’s part 1. I read a lot of books for class this semester and really fell behind on reviewing them. Considering it has been a while since I read most of these books, I thought I would just do some mini reviews to round out the semester.

All books chosen were either Man Booker Prize winners or shortlisters. More

Exodus 2022 by Kenneth G. Bennett

Exodus 2022 is an eco sci-fi thriller (seriously defying some genres) novel written by Kenneth G. Bennett, published by Booktrope Publishing in May 2014. I received a paper copy of the book through Novel Publicity, thanks to reviewing Bennett’s earlier novel, The Gaia Wars The plot of the novel is summed up pretty well (a spoiler-free teaser, anyway) in the synopsis:

EXODUS2022 cover artJoe Stanton is in agony. Out of his mind over the death of his young daughter. Or so it seems. Unable to contain his grief, Joe loses control in public, screaming his daughter’s name and causing a huge scene at a hotel on San Juan Island in Washington State. Thing is, Joe Stanton doesn’t have a daughter. Never did. And when the authorities arrive they blame the 28-year-old’s outburst on drugs. What they don’t yet know is that others up and down the Pacific coast—from the Bering Sea to the Puget Sound—are suffering identical, always fatal mental breakdowns. With the help of his girlfriend—Joe struggles to unravel the meaning of the hallucination destroying his mind. As the couple begins to perceive its significance—and Joe’s role in a looming global calamity— they must also outwit a billionaire weapons contractor bent on exploiting Joe’s newfound understanding of the cosmos, and outlast the time bomb ticking in Joe’s brain.

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