I'm bouncing around between three books now...
The Ragged Man by Tom Lloyd (58% complete):
I'm enjoying this one, though the start was a bit rough. The scene with Mihn (to be vauge) that took up most of the first 80 pages just went on way too long for me. I found myself speed reading through a good bit of that section. Once that part of the plot is resolved, though, the book resumes the higher quality I've come to expect from the earlier books in the series. There are still many times where I lose track of plot threads or forget the relevance of some characters or places, which makes the series feel a bit like Malazan. I've decided to quit trying so hard to follow each detail, and instead just sit back and let things unfold. I've been enjoying it more once I quit fighting myself to keep up with every little plot point. I still think that fans of Erikson should be giving lots of love to this series, too.
The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan (81% complete):
I keep telling myself I should commit to exclusively reading WoT until I finish it, but that would likely take me until April or May. I'm not sure I can commit 3 or 4 months to one series, so I haven't figured out how I will finish the series. Regardless, I am enjoying it a lot. Yeah, some of the stuff is repetitive, especially the scenes where Nynaeve is the POV character. Otherwise, I am enjoying reading a Big Fat Fantasy, as I am a little tired (again) of the dark and gritty stuff (which is why I struggle at times with the Lloyd series. I think The Twilight Reign is great, I'm just not in the mood for the darker stuff right now). I know my enjoyment of WoT is partially due to "comfort", but I see nothing wrong with that.
All Necessary Force by Brad Taylor (80% complete):
I continue to be impressed by Taylor's writing...it feels like he has been doing this for 20 years, not just 2 books. I lost a couple of plot threads in the middle of the book and got a bit confused, but I think that was mostly due to reading 3 books at once (and no, that is not why I get lost in the Lloyd books. Those are just complex, as Lloyd himself as admitted). The more time I spend with Pike, the more I continue to like him, and it is quickly becoming my favorite thriller/espionage hero. I need to finish this one, because the 3rd Pike book is coming out next week. Woohoo!
Time for another post to discuss what I have been reading the last few days...
-Return of the Crimson Guard by Ian C. Esslemont
Giving up on this again, for the 15th time. I'm sure I'll be back to it for another chance in the near future. Stalled at the 60% mark, according to my Kindle (which means I haven't read much more since my last journal post).
-The Khmer Kill: A Dox Short Story by Barry Eisler
I finished this one last Thursday night. I don't read a lot of short stories, but I thought this one was pretty good. My first experience with Eisler was last year's The Detachment which turned out to be one of my favorite reads of the year. The Khmer Kill features one of the main characters from the John Rain series, a guy who guys by the name of Dox. Dox was a character I enjoyed in The Detachment, so I was looking forward to seeing how well he could carry a story. The answer: pretty well. I enjoyed The Khmer Kill...its a good assassin story with a nice plot twist, though I thought the romantic element felt a bit forced and not sure what it really added to the story other than more words (padding). And while I think Dox is a good character as a "sidekick" or even as a lead in a short story, I am gonna disagree with the reviewers on Amazon and say I don't think I would be too excited to see Dox as the lead in a full length novel. From what I have seen of Eisler's writing, I'm guessing he could pull it off. But for me, Dox just doesn't feel like "lead character" material to me. But don't let that discourage you from checking out The Khmer Kill, its just the thing if you are looking for a quick thriller fix.
-Damage Control by John Gilstrap
This book looks to be the 4th in the Jonathan Graves series, though it is the first one I've read. I stumbled across this book last week and sent a sample to my Kindle. I decided to check it out yesterday evening, and couldn't put it down. I finished the sample, bought the kindle version, then keep reading until a good 30-45 minutes past my bedtime. I finally put down the Kindle when I kept nodding off. The novel starts off with a lot of action (as most thrillers do), and 70 pages later, there has been no let down at all. I like the main character as well as his partner. I also like the idea behind the character, as he is a "rescue specialist". The supporting cast seems like it will be an above average group, as well (i.e. not cardboard cutout throwaways). While I have picked up on a few references to things that must have happened in earlier books, I do not feel lost having started with Damage Control. So, I'm only 20% in, but the book is off to an excellent start. If it can keep this up, I might have found another "must read" thriller author.
Quick question to start the post. What sounds better/more fitting: "Reading Journal" or "Reading Diary"? I think I might prefer "Reading Journal" for these posts. The Malazan portion below has minor spoilers, so be warned (though I really don't think what I discuss is a spoiler, I will err on the side of caution).
-Power Down by Ben Coes
I spent a good part of my Saturday afternoon and evening finishing this one, and overall was very pleased with the ending. Like most good thrillers, it was really hard to put down during the last 1/4 of the book. Every once in a while something happened where I had to suspend disbelief a little, but that is fairly common in thrillers, too. Being a meteorologist (well, I have the degree but never used it professionally), I was bugged a bit about the mention of a storm in New York City dropping snow at a rate of 8 inches an hour...since I don't think that would be possible. And there was a torture scene near the end that got me thinking about how far is too far when it comes to using torture to get information that could save hundreds/thousand of lives? I won't expound on that here, as it should probably be its own post. But I find it interesting when thrillers approach that topic. Also, I like that there is slight unresolved element that will carry over into book two (though Power Down can most definitely be read as a stand alone). Power Down is definitely a recommended read and I look forward to reading the next Dewey Andreas book.
-Return of the Crimson Guard by Ian C. Esslemont
I read another 100 pages of this one (bouncing around between my Kindle, my iPad, and the mass market paperback). I'm on page 500 of around 850 in the mmpb, or around 58% according to the Kindle. I still think the story has gotten better, but I continue to be more confused reading this book than I have been in the recent Erikson books. I'll be the first to admit I'm fairly confused by Malazan overall, as I can't seem to put even half of the pieces together. But for RotCG, I am more confused than normal. Slight spoiler ahead.....I can't keep the Malazan versus Malazan stuff straight in RotCG. I keep forgetting who is on each side as the narrative shifts to the group of characters. So every time the pov shifts, I struggle to remember which side the pov group is on. I'm not sure if this problem is due to me jumping in and out of the book so often, if the author didn't explain it well, if I'm not paying close enough attention, or what. Regardless, I am just having trouble keeping the characters and the story straight. But with just 350 pages to go, I still plan to finish it. Somehow, someway.
-The Dwarves by Marcus Heitz
Since this series is one of several I am interested in that end in August, I thought I would give it a shot. I've read the first 60-70 pages, and am undecided at this point. The writing has been fine, actually. I sometimes struggle with translated works for some reason, but haven't noticed any issues with this one thus far. The idea of a story focused on dwarves interests me, due to my proclaimed love of "old school" fantasy. So it seems like I should like this one. But for some reason that I can't put my finger on, I haven't gotten drawn into the story. I should probably concentrate on this one and give it another 50 pages and see what happens. I have a feeling the book will be "fine"..not terrible, but also not strong enough to say "read me now". With so many books to read, I bet I will end up putting it aside for later (but not giving up on it entirely).
The slow revival of my Reading Diary posts continues. These are just thoughts on what I have been reading lately, along with random comments/questions about reading in general. I would like to get to a point where I do 3 of these a week..and they would replace my review/reaction posts. We'll see.
-Toll the Hounds by Steven Erikson
After deciding to put down the ICE books and concentrate on the core Erikson novels, that meant it was time to start Toll the Hounds, book 8 in the main Malazan series. I started it with much success, as it felt good to be back in Erikson's version of Malaz. While reading, it was hard to keep the ICE books totally out of my mind, though. I kept thinking "yeah, RotCG wasn't doing it for me, but I really should be reading it now instead. No matter how much I struggled with it". I kept pushing those thoughts aside, and made it to page 100 in TtH. Then, I read a reference to something I guess must have happened in RotCG (involving Traveller and Ereko I think). It sounded like something rather big and worth knowing the details about. So, 100 pages into TtH, I put it down to return to (no pun intended) the Crimson Guard.
-Return of the Crimson Guard by Ian C. Esslemont
-Yeah, I'm now on attempt #8 to read this now. I can say it seems to be going much better this time, and I have hopes I have enough interest (& momentum) to make it through this time. Maybe I'm just in a better place for the novel, I needed time away, or the story has improved..but whatever happened, it seemed like once I hit page 300, the story seemed to get better. I seem to have settled into it now, and it is (a little) less confusing. I still come across some atrociously worded sentences, but overall I'm making progress and finally starting to enjoy this one. Fingers crossed the enjoyment continues.
-Power Down by Ben Coes
This is the thriller I currently read when taking a break from fantasy. I tend to read it quite a bit for a day or so, then return to Malazan for a couple of days, take a break from Malazan to read the Coes book for a day, then back to Malazan, etc. There are times when I think I will devote an entire month to thrillers, taking a break from fantasy entirely during that month. That idea normally lasts no longer than a day or two, and I am back to alternating between Malazan and a thriller. Anyway, according to my Kindle, I'm about 70% through Power Down and I will say I am enjoying it quite a bit. The pacing has been pretty good..no real slow downs like you get in some thrillers. The book starts off well, but when I hit the 50% mark, it took off again and shows no signs of letting up. It looks like the last 50% will be a great sprint to the finish. I am close enough to the end that I should probably just finish it before returning to RofCG. But I hate to kill the momentum I've built up in RofCG, so I will likely continue to alternate between the two. Though I'm sure once I hit the 80-85% mark, I'll finish Power Down. I've been given the opportunity to download an ARC of the author's forthcoming book from Netgalley, so I need to read the first 2 Dewey Andreas books before I start the new one (due out in July).
-Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards
I'm about halfway through this one, and would say I like it quite it a bit. It was a more graphic than I was expecting, but not enough to make me put the book down. I like the narrator (Arki) and his voice, so that helps. I also like the humor, and the way the characters talk to each other. It gives a sense of how long they have been together. My only negative is that since Arki is the narrator and is being kept in the dark about what is really going on..it means us, the readers, are also kept in the dark. It bugs me at times, but not enough to really affect my enjoyment. I am enjoying the ride and plan to continue reading. However, I still struggle with reading books in incomplete/unfinished series. Yeah, I want to read books when they are published as it makes it easier to talk about since lots of you are also reading them. But in the back of my mind, I know I am going to forget so many details by the time the next book is published, that I feel like I will miss stuff when the next book hits shelves. Yep, you have heard this from me on this blog for over 2 years now, and yep, I'm not closer to finding a way to deal with it. I am trying to convince myself that if I read a book now, and the sequel is out 12 months or 24 months later..I can find enough recaps on the internet for book 1 that I could refresh my memory enough that I would be able to follow the sequel. It seems like one day I am convinced the "read now, and read internet reviews before reading the sequel" idea will work fine. The next day I realize I have TONS of books on my shelves (in completed series) already, so why not read those next? I own them, the series is done, I should read them. Then I create my "New Releases" post and I'm back to the "I want to read that new book now" idea. Arg. Neverending cycle that I really wish I could solve.
-The Wardstone Trilogy by M.R. Matthias
This series I have not started, but I noticed a revised edition of the first book in the trilogy is out now with the final book due out July 4. I have been waiting for this series to be complete before giving it a shot. With the series ending coming out in 5 weeks, it seems like now might be a good time to give it a shot. Along with the "I should devote an entire month to thrillers" idea I have, I have the recurring idea that I should "devote a month to reading nothing but indie fantasy". That last one is an idea that has been mentioned several times on the blog, and I have yet to follow through with it. Who knows, maybe it will happen one day. Regardless, I have sent a sample of the newly revised version of The Sword & the Dragon to my Kindle..and if I like it, you might see it pop up in the next Reading Diary post.
Guess that is all for now. If I start writing these posts 2-3 times a week, regularly, they won't be this long. I kinda wanted to get a mention of everything I have been reading the last 3 weeks..Now that I (and you) are caught up with my May reading, in the next post I will only have to discuss my reading from the previous day or two (or three).
I thought now might be a good time to throw out some quick opinions on books I've read this month. Some of these I finished, and some I am still reading.
-The Eye of the World: Book One of 'The Wheel of Time' by Robert Jordan (finished) - I'm trying to get ready for the release of AMoL this November by reading the entire series over the next several months. I read the first five books 3 years ago, but wanted to start over from the beginning. I have to say this one was just as good the 2nd time as it was the first. Love how big and epic this story feels. Also love that it feels like the kinda story that got me into fantasy in the first place. Great, great stuff!
-The Great Hunt: Book Two of 'The Wheel of Time' by Robert Jordan (10% complete). Not much to say as I'm still at the beginning of this one. It picks up right where Eye of the World left off. Starts well..
-The Detachment (John Rain) by Barry Eisler (finished) - I really should have dedicated a review/reaction post for this one. It was flat out AWESOME. This was my first Eisler book, but it definitely will not be the last. Sure, things were mentioned in this book that happened in previous books, but you can enjoy this one if you are new to the series (like me). I would say it took until chapter 16 for me to really be drawn into this one. The first 15 chapters were fine, just not at the same spectacular level as the rest of the book. Lots of twists and turns, and I didn't feel that Eisler took the easy way out. All the characters were great, and I thought Eisler did really well portraying the egos of the group. Assassins are strong-willed (I would imagine) and trying to get 4 of them working together is an interesting proposition. How Eisler dealt with this felt very natural. Anyway, I have to imagine this book will be one of my favorite reads of the year in any genre. Now I need to work in some of the earlier books. And one more time: AWESOME. Go read it.
-The Secret Soldier by Alex Berenson (70% complete)..I would say I am enjoying this one..it took a little while for me to warm up to it. I would say the first 1/3 I had to work to maintain my interest, but since then it has been gaining a study momentum. I'm a big fan of the main character, John Wells. Berenson does a good job with his character, but some of the supporting characters are a little less fleshed-out. And I'm ready for Wells to take on something totally different, unrelated to the Middle East.
-Shadow's Son by Jon Sprunk (60% complete)..This one I am really struggling with. From the reviews, I thought this would be right in my wheelhouse. But it's just not very interesting to me. While Caim is well developed, I feel like Josey is a stock, cardboard cutout stereotype. I keep forcing myself to pick it up every day and read a few more pages, but I'm beginning to think I might just set it aside for awhile. Its not bad, just "meh". Anyone want to convince me to keep going? Does the writing get better in the 2nd book?