Literary New To You May 2018 => Books you read this month
100 Years of Coast Guard Aviation!
Bookish types love nothing more than a bibliography, especially book lists generated by like-minded (or not so like-minded) readers.
Please share what you've been reading with your fellow gamers!
I've doing some reading on WWI as I've always been woefully uninformed on the period. I've been splitting time between
the Smithsonian Definitive Visual History of WWI
To The Last Man by Jeff Shaara
with a few WWI graphic novels thrown in such as,
Enemy Ace: War Idyll
To End All Wars.
I've really been enjoying it all. Any other WWI suggestions?
Go then. There are other worlds than these.
I love seeing what people are reading and to hopefully get new suggestions of authors. For me May has been good as I have found a bit more time to read:
Eleanor Oilphant is completely fine - Gail Honeyman
A smart, tragic and funny read about modern day loneliness. Recommended.
Tree of Codes - Jonathan Safran Foer
More a short story art project than a book. Frustrating to read but had some nice sentences.
Insomnia - Stephen King
Over the last year I’ve been doing a re read of the Dark Tower and a lot of related novels. This one is extreme slow burn but has a great end and lots of connections with the ever present Tower of Kings work.
The Embassy of Cambodia - Zadie Smith
Another short story which was well written and a simple little slice of life story in London.
Adjustment Day - Chuck Palahnuik
An assault of words and poignant satire. As usual Palahnuik goes to the absolute extremes. Almost a continuation of what could have happened with project mayhem had it continued on in Fight Club
It was a light month for me as well. I'm getting ready to move so most of my time has been spent on that. Mostly comics this month as well.
Deadpool: Merc With A Mouth #1-13 (2009)
To get myself pumped for the new Deadpool movie I picked out a series i hadn't read yet.
These 13 issues for a tight arc and actually give you a beginning and an end. The premise is A.I.M. and Hydra are both after a biological weapon in the Savage Land. A.I.M. hires Deadpool to retrieve it and Hydra sends an army.
I thought this series was solid. I like it more than most of the Daniel Way run, but not quite as much as the first Duggan/Posehn series.
Usagi Yojimbo: The Hidden #1-3
I love Usagi. It might be my favorite series. It shows how an all ages book can really appeal to all ages.
This one addresses the history of Christianity in Japan. It has mostly been fighting/solving mystery murders so far. But we're only 3 issues into a 12 issue series so i expect we will see more of the christian sect in Japan.
Savage Sword of Kull vol. 2. First 25 pages.
I'm a big fan of Robert E. Howard's work. I haven't come close to reading everything he's written, but i've read a lot. Kull is one of my favorites. I expected him to be just a proto-Conan. But he ends up being more of a philosopher warrior. Kull wants to think things through more and seems to care if he subjects like him or not.
He's a philosopher/warrior king who isn't scared of a fight and sometimes gives into his anger.
Enough rambling. My love of the original material led me to pick up Savage Sword of Kull Vol. 2 at a clearance sale. To my knowledge these were all published as 5 page backups to the Savage Sword of Conan magazine. Those were generally given to new writers/artists and it shows here. I don't think the art is ever bad, but some of the writing has been choppy so far.
I like seeing other aspects of Kull's life, but some of these read more like bad fan fiction. But i'm a enough of a fan of the character that i'll keep these, i might come back to them eventually (I only keep books that i intend to reread.) I might have to track down a cheap copy of Vol. 1 as well.
In other news. Marvel got the Conan license back and will probably be publishing Savage Sword of Conan in omnibus format (just a guess.) I wonder if they'll stick these Kull stories back in order when they do.
Stolen Witness by James Enge
I ranted about James Enge in a previous post. His writing isn't for everybody but it clicks with me. Tales From the Magicians Skull Issue 2 is almost out. I was sent an early pdf copy for being a kickstarter backer.
Its a short story magazine put out by a company that is doing a lot to bring back old school dnd vibes. So the fiction they put out is trying to be a spiritual successor to sword and sorcery of old.
James skips around the main character Morlock the Maker's life with each short story and novel. He has to be getting close to over a dozen short stories and six novels. Stolen Witness takes place in the younger years of the character. Good story, but not his most interesting. I wouldn't recommend starting with this one either.
It always makes me wonder why people don't read more short stories nowadays. Everyone talks about how society has shifted to instant gratification and wanting everything now. Except with novels we read. Giant series like Wheel of Time and Mistborn are selling well. Good luck trying to move the same number of units on a short story collection.
I've seen some people write that short stories aren't as popular because they don't have as much emotional payout as a novel and the reader has to do just as much work to learn about the world a short story takes place in. I don't know that i completely agree with the emotional part.
Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with The Daleks by David Whittaker -- Borrowed from a local friend. The First Doctor, his granddaughter Susan, her tutor Barbara, and unfortunate passerby Ian end up traveling to the planet Skaro where they meet the menacing Daleks and the pacifistic Thals. This is the very first Doctor Who book, written before Target got the rights to the novelizations. As such, it is pretty unusual. For one thing it is written from Ian's perspective, while all of the other Who novelizations I have read are in 3rd person. This gives the Doctor a strong air of mystery about him, because Ian is completely in the dark about his motives or true nature. The Daleks themselves only appear for about 20-25 pages all told, as well. Having never seen the episodes this novel adapts, I cannot say how good of a job it does, but I enjoyed it.
Planet of the Symbiotes by David Michelinie, et al -- Read via digital copies. After the events of Separation Anxiety, Earth is invaded by a massive force of Klyntar, so it is up to Spider-Man, Scarlet Spider, and Eddie (having separated from his own symbiote) to stop them. One of the few Venom-centric stories from the 1990s which I did not buy new (probably due to the high cover price, as this 5 parter ran through 5 oversized "Super Specials"), this story is one of the ones mentioned by director Ruben Fleischer as one of the influences on the upcoming Venom film. As a slice of Marvel in 1995, it's a nice flashback -- the characters, storytelling, and art work all bring me back to my high school days. Its not a bad story all told, mostly big-bang action but there is some character stuff for Eddie which I always like. And of course always fun to see Peter and Ben teaming up. Not essential unless you a Venom fanatic like me, but not a bad 90s Marvel read.
Star Wars: Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno -- Borrowed from the same local friend. Detailing the events by which Galen Erso (father of Jyn Erso) is manipulated by Orson Krennic into developing the superlaser which will be the centerpiece of the Death Star. Very heavy on the politics, this book has little action in the traditional sense, only a few scenes of the main characters in flight from danger, and some capital ship level military action. Its enjoyable and the characters are well shaded. It starts out a little slow but picks up and moves along at a good clip despite being pretty long. One aspect I did very much like is that the timeline starts in the middle of the Clone Wars and advances into the early days of the Empire. So we see the changes taking place politically and socially as the setting moves from wartime to peacetime under an increasingly powerful central government. Not the most pulse pounding SW story, but if you liked Rogue One (and I did) then this backstory will be to your liking.
The Silver Age: The Hawk And The Dove by Steve Skeates, Steve Ditko, and Gil Kane -- Read via Hoopla. Two brothers -- aggressive Hank and thoughtful Don -- are given powers by a mysterious disembodied voice. Now, when danger is near, they need only speak their heroic names to become The Hawk and The Dove, who try to stop the disease of evil in their own methods, contrary to each other. Conceptually Hawk and Dove is brilliant, and DC has brought out several new versions of the characters over the years because of that. But these early stories don't hold together well, because (per writer Steve Skeates) DC was not sure what to do with a dove character. As such there were changes made to scripts by both Ditko and the editorial staff which neutered Dove somewhat and made him less appealing. The best part of this book was the art, as Ditko's work is fantastic. There is also a nice team-up with the original Teen Titans where Hawk is macking it on Wonder Girl something fierce. Nothing special but I usually like to read Silver Age stuff which is new to me.
Armor Hunters by Robert Venditti, Doug Braithwaite, et al -- A crew of aliens comes to Earth in search of Shanhara, the sentient armor worn by X-O Manowar; the living armors are a galactic plague, and the Hunters are not above wiping our a planet to stop them. Venditti is the perfect choice to write this event, seeing as he was the architect of X-O Manowar in the current Valiant Universe. Big widescreen action as the Hunters lay waste to anything and anyone in their way. Typical of Valiant, you only have to read this four issue series to get the "event" story -- the tie-ins deal with side stories or flesh out characters with smaller roles here. The art is really strong, with excellent designs for the Hunters and solid storytelling throughout. I really liked this one but as I am already on board with Valiant I may be more prone. Luckily the trade includes a recap page of "what has come before" to catch up new readers.
Venom: Lethal Protector by David Michelinie, Mark Bagley, Ron Lim, et al -- Venom, having made a deal of mutual non-interference with Spider-Man -- heads back to San Francisco, where he discovers various nefarious activity, including an armored strike team out to kill him, an industrialist out to wipe out innocent people, and a group which wants to create their own symbiotes. I read the first issue of this series (Venom's first solo book) for a podcast, and promptly tore through the entire 6 issue series. I unabashedly and unapologetically love this series, and have since I first read it back in 1992-1993. Venom was my first favorite comics character, and this series is slam-bang 1990s action from a great creative team. It just works on all cylinders for me. Your Mileage May Vary, but I had a huge grin on my face while reading this, and plan on continuing to read more classic Venom this summer in the lead up to the movie in October. (The podcast in question has not dropped yet, I will add a link when it does.)
Doctor Who: The Other Woman (Short Trip) by Phillip Lawrence, read by Katy Manning -- Listened via Hoopla. The Third Doctor and Jo Grant play host to a strange visitor from another dimension, who claims that she can help repair the TARDIS if the Doctor can help her repair her ship. Katy Manning does a great job here, giving great inflection to Jo's dialogue (naturally) but also doing amusingly solid impressions of both the Doctor and the Brigadier. Jo's annoyance all of the men essentially falling over the titular "other woman" is really amusing.
Doctor Who: The Time Tunnel (Short Trip) by Nigel Fairs, read by Katy Manning -- Listened via Hoopla. When a train comes out of a tunnel with all of the passengers and crew dead -- of malnutrition -- the Third Doctor and Jo must investigate. A great horror premise, and a good fit for the Third Doctor insofar as the setting and narrative. I liked this one more than the previous one, a nice diverting bit of listening for a commute or afternoon walk.
Star Trek: Corona by Mark Bear -- The Enterprise, newly fitted with automatic monitors which step in if the captain does not act in a manner consistent with Starfleet best judgement, and having picked up a reporter doing a story on those monitors, investigates a Vulcan research outpost whose distress call has only been received ten years after it was sent. The fastest reading ST novel I can remember reading, it seems to me that Bear had an idea for a story hook (the monitors, which are made up of the encoded brainwaves of 6 of the greatest Captains of all time) and worked up a situation to fit it. The strange goings-on at the research station (involving a being of energy who has taken over the consciousness of the younger Vulcans) is standard enough ST fare, but the whole encounter is an excuse to muse about the automatic monitors. Eh, this was okay, characterization was not bad, but not really a standout ST novel in any way.
Justice League v.4: The Grid by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, et al -- Read via Hoopla. With Green Lantern having left the team following the events of Throne of Atlantis, the League has a recruitment drive -- unfortunately the new recruits (Firestorm, Element Woman, and Atom) get a trial by fire when Despero invades the satellite! The back half of this volume reprints the JL issues of Trinity War, so I skipped them in favor of reading the complete Trinity War instead. So we are left with a single story this time out, with the recruitment, but also some prologue stuff to the War which is nice. This is the first volume where Jim Lee does not do the art, but Reis, Prado, and Reis (who were also doing Aquaman around this time) step up and hit it out of the park visually. I have enjoyed reading this JL stories and am eager to re-read Trinity War, which I remember enjoying quite a bit when it came out.
Marvel Classics Comics #7 (Tom Sawyer) and #8 (Moby Dick) -- Comic adaptations of the classic novels. These early issues of MCC were actually reprints of older Penguin Press editions, and as such do not really look like Marvel comics at all (other than the covers). Later on, Marvel would produce these in house with their own staff and freelancers, and they would be much more interesting. That said I like this sort of Classics Illustrated comics, and these are not bad retellings. Tom Sawyer hurts for not having the witty prose of Clemens, and Moby Dick lacks a lot of the deeper allegory (as one would expect) but as double sized comics they are alright. I prefer the later ones in this series.
Thanos Quest by Jim Starlin, Ron Lim, et al -- Read via digital copy. Thanos, resurrected in service of Death, has a plan. But first he will need to recover the 6 Infinity Gems from the Elders of the Universe. This prologue to The Infinity Gauntlet gives great insight into Thanos. Starlin always treated Thanos as a very thoughtful, approaching philosophical character, which we get here. But we also see his tactical side, as he approaches each Elder with a different strategy to take their Gem. The very end of the story gives us a tour of the 6 Gems, and the power they possess, which is fantastic. Lim is the first artist of think of for anything "Infinity" and he is a perfect math to this story. You don't need to read this before The Infinity Gauntlet (which does a great job of standing on its own feet), but this story adds another layer of character to that story which is very welcome.
Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe -- Borrowed from my local library. The history of Marvel Comics from the very beginning right up through the mid 2010s, as told by the men and women who were there. If you have any interest in Marvel Comics of any era, you should read this book. Howe's style is documentarian and extremely thoroughly researched, with about 20 pages of citations for the countless interviews and articles he has used to put this history together. As a reader who got into Marvel in the early 1990s, the deep, broad history of the creators who made Marvel into the IP powerhouse it is today is hugely fascinating to me. Despite it's big length (the hard cover was over 400 page) I read it in a few days because I had a hard time putting it down. Really just fantastic (or mighty, or amazing, or uncanny, or what have you) from start to finish. (Hoopla has this an audiobook if you cannot get a copy locally.)
A few books this month...
Storm Front (Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher
A series I love, I'm probably going to re-read the whole series. It's just plain fun.
Babylon's Ashes (Expanse #6) by James SA Corey
Another series I really enjoy. I forgot I had bought this, and was really happy to go back to the crew of the Rocinante.
Night's Master (Tales from Flat Earth #1) by Tanith Lee
The Sword & Laser book club read this month. Well written, I really enjoyed the flow of everything. It's basically short stories that fit together in the end. It had a mythology feel to it. But it isn't really my type of thing, but I could see some people really enjoying it.
Ulysses by James Joyce
I was using an app called Serial Reader to read this. It breaks classics down into daily chunks. Probably not the ideal way to read this, but it's also the first time in 3 or 4 tries I've actually finished it, even if it was 109 daily bits.
War on Peace by Ronan Farrow
A sad and scary look at the state of the U.S. State department, and how it got there. I found this incredibly insightful, and it help cast some light on Obama's seemingly erratic foreign policy.
Wrath of Empire by Brian McClellan
The second book in the second Powdermage trilogy. I liked this book more than the first, and it had a lot of fun moments.
Slavery and Freedom in the Mid-Hudson Valley by Michael Groth
America has had a problem with how the civil war and slavery is taught, and one of the weaknesses is the extent of slavery in the Northern colonies/U.S. This was a detailed look at my home area, and I learned quite a bit.
Why Art? by Eleanor Davis
A look at what art does for us. It is covers the topic in a fun way.
Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty
In the future, we have mastered cloning and backing up our minds to load into clones. A segment of the population is practically amortal. A small clone crew is piloting a long voyage in a generation ship, when they wake up to their own dead bodies and their last loaded back up was before they started their journey. What is it about writers that come up with (or borrow) an idea, and then want to write a murder mystery? It was good. The world building is well done, and it explores amortality in interesting ways. If I hadn't read a very similar book recently, then I may have enjoyed it more.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
A member of a subjugated caste of former magic users gets the opportunity to make a difference. Cool setting and I generally like the characters, but one of the p.o.v. characters is incredibly erratic and the protagonist is way too accepting of it. I do look forward to the next book.
The Call by Peadar Guilin
Ireland is cut off from the world, and during a person's teenage years... they will disappear into a fae world and be hunted. If they live, then they go back. Over time, the shrinking population has replaced schools with training centers hoping to increase their kid's survival rates. Our main character? A young woman with polio that can barely move. Good stuff.
The Comet by W.E.B Du Bois
A 1920's science fiction about a comet that wipes out most life on the planet, leaving the only two people alive in NYC: a black man and a white woman. Solid and interesting.
Age of Reptiles vol 1
A graphic novel about dinosaurs living their lives. The art is engaging, and the "stories" are good.
Rat Queens vol 1-2
A rambunctious group of adventures drink and fight monsters. It is fun.
Batman: Knightfall Vol 1
A new villain comes to Gotham to break The Bat, and he does it by releasing all of Arkham's baddies at once. I really enjoyed this as a youngin, and I still like it. Some great moments throughout, but it still suffers from the inclusion of Azrael. Why was that character ever seen as a good idea?
Copperhead Vol 1
A new sheriff is in town ... in a backwoods Martian town. It checks off the Western and Scifi tropes well, and I enjoyed the read.
The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst
The Queens of Renthia trilogy ends with what felt like a lazy rush job. Many characters become caricatures. It has its moments, but was disappointing.
Injustice: Year One
What happens when Supes goes bad... this time. Had its moments, but was filled with half measures. It is the nature of trying to write a book to lead to a video game. This is my first time reading something that involves a lot of Damien. Wow, there is a character that makes Azrael almost look good.
Lock In by John Scalzi
A disease leaves people mentally aware, but physically paralyzed. Androids are developed to allow them to be active. What happens? A murder mystery!
It was a cool idea, but like the other Scalzi book I have read... the main character is so boring compared to the other characters. The ending is also incredibly weak. Cool cover.
Rat Queens vol 3-4
The writing and the art both go down hill.
The Merry Spinster by Mallory Ortberg
I was told it was horror, but it is yet another take on fairy tales. Little of it horrific.
Zero Limit by Jeremy Brown
Another month and another month about moon miners!
It was fine. I barely thought about it while reading it, and I forgot I even read it until looking over my list. Meh.
Castle Waiting by Linda Medley
A boring fantasy world that is yet another take on fairy tales. It starts off good with sweet characters, but the story becomes about a bearded lady community. That had potential, but the story was just boring.
Time Traders by Andre Norton
Just not for me.
Creep Comics vol 1
Wow. This is lazy.
Mikhail Bulgakov - A Young Doctor's Notebook (A Country Doctor's Notebook)
One of the first Bulgakov's storiesб based on his own experience. Young doctor started his practice at small rural hospital (he was the only doctor there). Overcoming of his fears, surgery, his responsibility for patients' lives, good luck and mistakes, dangerous winter trips to another villages and also his professioinal improveemnt based on his practice.
Mikhail Bulgakov - Life of M. de Moliere
Biography of the famous playwright and actor. His difficult life in France of times of Louis XIV. Informative reading.
Dmitrij Sanin - Atlas' Anatomy
Exposure of the well-known novel "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand: illogical, stupid book with basic mistakes in terminology, lots of contradictions, lack of common sense, signs of romantic novel, etc. Excellent book.
Булгаков Михаил Афанасьевич «Записки юного врача»
Одни из первых произведений писателя, написанные в том числе на основании его собственного врачебного опыта. Впечатления вчерашнего студента, отправленного работать в деревенскую больницу. Самостоятельные операции, необходимость принимать решения и нести ответственность за жизнь пациентов, удачи и ошибки.
Булгаков Михаил Афанасьевич «Жизнь господина де Мольера»
Биография известного драматурга и актёра. Непростая жизнь. Познавательно.
Санин Дмитрий «Анатомия атланта»
Разоблачение знаменитого романа «Атлант расправляет плечи» - вскрыты и показаны нелогичность, тупизна, противоречия, принципиальные ошибки в терминологии, отсутствие здравого смысла и т.д. Отличная книга.
Among Lions: Three Days That Shook the World - The Battle For Jerusalem June 5-7, 1967
Excellent book with detailed military OOB information. Maps are not what could be hoped for however. But the story the book tells is riveting.
The final novel in the Books of the Raksura by Martha Wells. Friends, it has come to my attention that I have not properly made clear just how much I LOVE THESE BOOKS. Rest assured, I LOVE THESE BOOKS, because they are full of awesome things, including but not limited to:
- ant-lion-dragon people
- who are matriarchal
- and who regard bisexuality and polyamory as a natural state of being
- AMAZING WORLD BUILDING
- no seriously, the Martha Wells' imagination is so amazing I can't even.
- a fantasy world in which there are no humans! Every species is unique!
- non-human characters and societies who are truly alien, while also being sympathetic and understandable
- non-human species who are much more than humans with green skin. Biologies that are truly different. Species with more than two genders. Species with only a single gender. Species where you choose your gender once you reach adulthood.
- precursor technology, ancient ruins, floating islands
- a protagonist who doesn't know how to trust and genuinely doesn't understand that people love him and want him to be happy, but who eventually finds a place for himself and a family over the course of the series
- an exploration of the "this species is always evil" trope that is very satisfying
- badass characters, adorable characters, characters who you want to wrap in a blanket and protect from harm, characters who have triumphed over immeasurable difficulties and have the scars to prove it but who also have FRIENDSHIP
- a giant zombie mermaid
I could go on, but really, you should just go read the books. Five novels, two short story collections, first book is The Cloud Roads. What are you waiting for? GO READ THE THING
A fine collection. Strongly recommended. I have added many of the novels that were excerpted to my to-read pile, and I enjoyed all of the short stories.