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text 2018-01-04 19:43
My 2018 Reading Plan
The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories - Anthony Marra
Not Without Laughter - Langston Hughes,Maya Angelou
The Bone People - Keri Hulme
Leaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight - Margaret Lazarus Dean
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration - Isabel Wilkerson
This Side of Brightness - Colum McCann
The Grass is Singing - Doris Lessing
Flying Close to the Sun: My Life and Times as a Weatherman - Cathy Wilkerson
The Sky Unwashed - Irene Zabytko
Hiroshima Nagasaki: The Real Story of the Atomic Bombings and Their Aftermath - Paul Ham

 

Every year, I like to set a few reading goals for myself: number of books, specific titles, and so forth. Because my whims change with the days and new books always catch my attention, I have yet to have one year where I complete my intended goals. So, I've decided that this year I'm going to keep it simple. I intend to read less, to slow down and really focus on and enjoy what I'm reading.

 

...But I love lists too much. And I cannot resist the urge to make a list of books I “will” complete this year. It's a practice I began in 2012—to identify ten books that will be read by the end of the year. Guess what? I've never read all ten in a year. I still have four holdouts from 2017, plus two others from farther back. So my only concrete goal this year is to complete my 2018 list in its entirety and to read the books from prior years. Other than that, my only goal is to enjoy what I'm reading. I'll set a reading challenge of so many books like I always do, but I'll keep it low so I don't become consumed with it.

 

So what will I be reading in 2018? These are the ten books that I am committing to. I think I'll be able to complete my challenge this year, assuming the world doesn't go up in smoke first. This year's list has more non-fiction than any prior list because I've had a desire to read more non-fiction lately. I mostly read fiction and I'd like to branch out some.

 

The Bone People cover

 

The Bone People by Keri Hulme

My interest in New Zealand and its literature goes back many years. I've made it a point to read more works by New Zealanders, but despite good intentions, I have avoided this Man Booker winner. I'm expecting good things from this one.

 

Flying Close to the Sun coverFlying Close to the Sun: My Life and Times as a Weatherman by Cathy Wilkerson

In undergrad, I watched the documentary about The Weatherman Organization and was very intrigued. I told myself I'd learn more about them and would possibly write a novel focused on them. I've been saving these Weatherman memoirs until I began researching for that novel, but now I'm not sure I'll ever tackle that project. Project or no project, I've decided to stop putting it off.

 

The Grass Is Singing cover

 

The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing

I really want to like Doris Lessing, but my first and only experience with her so far (The Cleft) was so off-putting that I've avoided her for more than a decade. I never want to judge any author by one book, so I'm making a point to read her debut novel in 2018. I'm hoping for better results.

 

 

Hiroshima Nagasaki coverHiroshima Nagasaki: The Real Story of the Atomic Bombings and Their Aftermath by Paul Ham

I have a strong interest in the WWII destruction of Japan, particularly the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I've read some of these historical accounts before and will likely come across much of the same information in this large volume, but it's time to brush up on the subject.

 

Leaving Orbit coverLeaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight by Margaret Lazarus Dean

Dean's previous work was a novel about a girl's obsession with spaceflight during the days surrounding the Challenger disaster. Her second book is this exploration of the rise and fall of NASA. I've had this one on the top of my to-read pile since its publication in 2015, but haven't made time for it.

 

Not Without LaughterNot Without Laughter by Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes is one of the more notable authors to have resided in my part of the world. I've always had the best intentions of reading local authors, especially those who were pioneers and helped shape the way for others, but I've never read more than the occasional poem by Hughes.

 

The Sky Unwashed coverThe Sky Unwashed by Irene Zabytko

When I first started working at the library more than ten years ago, I saw this book on the shelf and was attracted to its sepia cover, its gorgeous title, and its intriguing description. It was one of the very first books to be added to my to-read list at my new job. Ten years later I still work at the library and I still haven't read this short novel about the Chernobyl accident.

 

 

The Tsar of Love and Techno coverThe Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra

We loved A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, didn't we? Yet I, like many readers apparently, did not transition well to Marra's follow up two years later, this collection of short stories. Even though I absolutely loved his debut novel, I just wasn't interested in this volume. Adding it to my list will force my hand, I figure.

 

The Warmth of Other SunsThe Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

There's been so much praise heaped on this book. It's time I give this historical gem a try.

 

This Side of Brightness coverThis Side of Brightness by Colum McCann

Last year, I read and absolutely loved McCann's Letters to a Young Writer. I'd spent some time with the author previously, but it was this slim volume about writing that made a big fan out of me. I told myself I'd make it a point to return to the author as soon as possible. And I figured I might as well start with the novel that launched his career.

 

And my unfinished books from prior years:

The Counterfeiters by Andre Gide

The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies

Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Mama Day by Gloria Naylor

Union Dues by John Sayles

Weeds by Edith Summers Kelley

 

Seeing all sixteen of these listed, I'm already feeling overwhelmed. I've learned the key to completing my list is to not put off the list to the middle of the year. I really need to be checking off one or two of these titles every month. Intention set.

 

While I'm making an already long post longer, here are some of the top titles, old and new, I hope to get around to in 2018: The Temple of the Dawn by Yukio Mishima, The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton, Erasure by Percival Everett, The Road Through the Wall by Shirley Jackson, An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro, Winter by Ali Smith, Parnucklian for Chocolate by B.H. James, 1996 by Gloria Naylor, Hot Pink by Adam Levin, and... I can keep going forever. See how I get myself in trouble?

 

Do you set reading goals for your year? Do you find it helpful to do so, or imposing? What do you look forward to reading in 2018?

 

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review 2017-11-08 00:02
The Trials - Linda Nagata

This is a genre that I seldom read, near-future, sort of post-apocalyptic, military fiction; but DAMN, I like this series. It's almost like ... well, I want to say good Tom Clancy with twists.

This is the continuation of the events in First Light, book one of the series.  Again, we follow the 1st person narrative of Lieutenant James Shelley as he navigates this screwed up world.  Shelley is the beneficiary of some high tech body modifications, even thought they sometimes seem like a curse and Nagata writes it so well that even a know-nothing like me understands what's going on.  Even the trial/court scenes were eminently readable and that's not always the case.

The world is dark and cynical and full of conspiracies and plots and counter-plots and the author does them all justice.  I never predicted what was happening until it was either happening or just about to go down.  And even then, there was always some twist I didn't see.

This is a techno-thriller in the true sense of the word, I think.  I was on the virtual edge of my seat almost the whole time I was reading.  We meet up with lots of old friends, make some new ones and come across some not so nice folks too, familiar and otherwise.  And I should have seen that twist coming at the end, but I didn't, and damn, it's a good one!

So yeah, I really enjoyed my read and I'm glad that I have the final book in the trilogy nestled nicely in my Kobo.

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review 2017-03-21 22:12
United States of Japan ★★☆☆☆
United States of Japan - Peter Tieryas

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything and linked at Goodreads & Mobileread by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: United States of Japan
Series: ---------
Author: Peter Tieryas
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Alt-History
Pages: 400
Format: Digital Edition





 

Synopsis:


Japan and Germany win War World II. Japan takes over the West Coast of America and completely destroy all American culture and replace it with their own. Having the upper hand in technology, the Japanese establish the United States of Japan.

 

Now in 1988, one man...

Is Fighting Back. With Giant Robots, Nukes and Robo-swords. He is the technological Wizard and is going to restore the American Ideal of Freedom!

 

Ha. Fooled you. This is some piece of crap about a coward and a disgraced Secret Police woman fighting a little bit before being killed or seriously wounded. Not going to lie.

 

 



My Thoughts:


The best thing about this book was the cover. That is one awesome cover. Beyond that, this was Alternate History from the view of the little people [ie, the people without a lot of power to actually affect things]. If you like that sort of crap, then this book is definitely tailor made for you.

 

For those of us who are not enamoured of fake history, who went in thinking that there would be giant robots fighting all over and cool and awesome rebel battles, this was beyond a disappointment. Replace the cover with some grimy war victims in a bombed out city and you'll have a better representation.

 

I am not a fan of reading REAL history. So why should I WASTE my time with FAKE history? I just figured that the description was trying to rope in the literati and that the author would actually give me a kick butt action story. No such luck. At least I now know not to try any more by Tieryas.

 

From a purely technical standpoint, my only gripe was the word choices and phrasing employed by the author. It kept throwing me out of the story. Only use a little known or little used word if it fits better than the common word usually employed. And by fits better, I'm talking “ochre” versus “orange” versus “cinnamon” kind of difference. Not “orbulianicus” instead of “round”.

 

What a bloody waste of my time. I hate Alt-History. So take my venting with a gigantic grain of salt.

 

★★☆☆☆

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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review 2017-02-12 20:42
Gridlinked (Polity: Agent Cormac #1)
Gridlinked (Agent Cormac) - Neal Asher

https://bookstooge.wordpress.com/2017/02/12/gridlinked-polity-agent-cormac-1/

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review 2017-01-29 04:04
Weird Science
The Breach - Patrick Lee

After several false starts, I got into this book. I read most of it on the way to Illinois for Thanksgiving. This is one of those books that takes a while to get started, but once you're in, you're in. The concept is so crazy, it takes a while to figure out what's going on. I think the closest comparison I could make is the TV show "Fringe". It's that kind of crazy. Also it's the kind of thing that people who have tons of conspiracy theories and deep distrust for the establishment, corporations and the government will read and say, "I told you so." The ending is a bit of a mindblower. I am still trying to decide how I felt about it.

I am no physics genius, but I love the concept of time travel. I like the ethics and philosophical aspects. You know, the whole grandfather complex thing and the "if you could go forward or back, would you?" kind of thing. Also, there's the whole what happens when we open doors to places we don't know anything about. Should some doors stay closed?

As a scientist, I have asked myself that many times. I tend to be a big fan of scientific ethics and I think that you can't throw that out just in the search of knowledge. Seek it, but seek it carefully and cautiously. Some of the inventions in this book, I can't even. I mean, they should be buried in a very deep hole somewhere. I pray some of this will never exist in real life.

So anyway, my opinions of science and time travel aside, this trippy book really grabbed me and didn't let me go. There is a high body count and I asked myself what the hell is wrong with some people. They abandon right and wrong for power and ugly stuff happens. That's a big part of this book. Also, on the good side, there are people who will put their lives on the line to do the right thing. That takes a lot of moral courage and I feel that even from fiction, we can draw courage to face those tough ethical decisions in our own lives.

This one has some blood and guts, but nothing gratuitous. I would advise readers to plan to pick up the next book. I have it, and I will try to get to it in the nearish future.

This is my second book by Patrick Lee. I read Runner first, and I like his style. He's not afraid to go there and put the reader through their paces. He doesn't give them a cut and dried book. He makes them think about what they are reading. I like that in an author.

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