Yearly Reading Targets 2023

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Wilshire

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« on: January 02, 2023, 01:32:23 am »
2023... Go read a book or something.  ;)

16 last year, seems low and I'm not really sure what to do about it. Motivation to read has not been high but hopefully I'll find something that catches my eye.

Holdouts from last year:
Startide Rising by David Brin
Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter
Kushiel's Chosen by Jacqueline Carey
Dune by Herbert

Someone mentioned  Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

Heroes Die by Matthew Stover (1)
Blade of Tyshalle by Matthew Stover (2)
Caine Black Knife by Matthew Stover (3)
Caine's Law by Matthew Stover (4)
Sleight of Shadows by Kat Howard (5)
Bloodline by Will Wight (6)
Reaper by Will Wight (7)
Dreadgod by Will Wight ( 8 )
Waybound by Will Wight (9)
Eragon (10)
The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by V. S. Villoso (11)
« Last Edit: January 11, 2024, 08:02:59 pm by Wilshire »
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The P

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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2023, 04:26:07 pm »
30 last year for me.  That also seems low from the halcyon days of no kids or other responsibilities, but I'm on the rise.  Does that mean I'm taking less responsibilities?  Maybe the kids are less demanding.

For sure (maybe) reading this coming year:
Reread of TGO and TUC
Last two of the new Osten Ard books
Books 3-5 of Ruocchio's Sun Eater series
KJ Parker short story collection out in spring some time
Muir's Locked Tomb series

But so far
Isolation by various authors (1)

Short story "horror" collection broadly around the theme of isolation.  This was actually pretty good all around.  The last horror anthology I read last year (Howls from the Dark Ages) was... amateurish and often not that good. All the stories here are good.  There is a lot of variation in how each author tackled the theme, whether physical isolation or social, emotional, spiritual (?), etc.  The best story came from Laird Barron (I read some collection of his a while back that was lovecraftian), who had a completely wild far future "true crime" kind of story.  The worst, easily, came from Ken Liu.  Surprising, because he's one of the few authors I'd heard of.  His was kind of a "what if the pandemic was the first of many" kind of thing.  It wasn't very creative or interesting.  It felt like he just wanted to make some commentary about the social and political climate of the past few years, while kind of making it a sci-fi story in the dullest way possible.
That one aside, I fully enjoyed the other stories in this collection.  Worth checking out even if only to read the Laird Barron submission.

The P

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« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2023, 01:55:44 pm »
The Great Ordeal by Bakker (2)  likely my favorite
The Unholy Consult by Bakker (3) likely my second favorite
Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison (4)
Lora Selezh by Katherine Addison (5)

Witness for the Dead was good.  Addison must get enjoyment out of using as many unpronounceable proper names as she can.  This elf-goblin society she's made is also very proper and there are titles and forms of address further muddling everything up, but it makes for a very atmospheric read.  It's not terribly long and doesn't have a typical narrative structure.  It is just several weeks in the life of a Witness for the Dead, which is kind of a half priest half detective government position.  The book has very loose ties to Goblin Emperor, and is a quicker read if you just want to taste what Addison offers.

Lora Selezh is just a short story prelude of sorts to Witness.  It gives an outisder perspective to the Witness 1st person narrator, which was interesting.  That character's view of himself seems to be at odds to how others in Witness see him, but we never get outside his pov within that book.  It's a nice little story, and yes, i'm padding my numbers.  These Addison books all have a very wholesome feel to them that is absent from much of modern fantasy.

Wilshire

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« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2023, 02:18:45 pm »
I think I am starting the year off with rereading Acts of Caine. I'm hoping is pretty interesting on a re-read given how the series ends, and also its been a few years so I forget most of the details. Its something of a blessing for having a shit memory, rereads are more fun!
Heroes Die (1)
This is really a great book. It couches some thought-provoking topics inside over-the-top action, which makes it fun to read both on a surface level and at a bit of a deeper level. It also has a delightful ending that I had largely forgotten about. Sure its a bit contrived, but it all fits together in a very satisfying way. This satisfaction is only enhanced by how the next book starts, almost making me wish the first Caine chapter of book 2 could have been shoved into the end of Book 1 (though I don't think that really works from a publishing or story telling perspective). Its not a masterclass tale of foreshadowing, like TDTCB for example, but its still great to reread (and more interesting on a first read than TDTCB).

Witness for the Dead was good.  Addison must get enjoyment out of using as many unpronounceable proper names as she can.  This elf-goblin society she's made is also very proper and there are titles and forms of address further muddling everything up, but it makes for a very atmospheric read.  It's not terribly long and doesn't have a typical narrative structure.  It is just several weeks in the life of a Witness for the Dead, which is kind of a half priest half detective government position.  The book has very loose ties to Goblin Emperor, and is a quicker read if you just want to taste what Addison offers.

Lora Selezh is just a short story prelude of sorts to Witness.  It gives an outisder perspective to the Witness 1st person narrator, which was interesting.  That character's view of himself seems to be at odds to how others in Witness see him, but we never get outside his pov within that book.  It's a nice little story, and yes, i'm padding my numbers.  These Addison books all have a very wholesome feel to them that is absent from much of modern fantasy.
That's interesting. I like Goblin Emperor but I didnt feel compelled to read the other books, maybe because reading another full book seemed a bit tiresome. Something with an atypical narrative, and/or closer to novella size, sounds like something I might consider for some future day.
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The P

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« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2023, 01:41:44 pm »
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (6)
The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley (7)

The Thief is probably YA, but doesn't have the typical feel of a YA.  It is mostly character work while a group is traveling to the thiefing target.  I liked it.  There seems to be more going on under the surface of the pretty basic plot, so I'll be at least reading the next one in the series of five.

The Loney.  A friend wanted to start up a monthly-ish book club, and this was one of his suggestions.  It's ok.  It's billed as a horror novel, complete with a Stephen King cover blurb and some awards.  I'm not sure why.  It has some creepy vibes like, "here's a strange local," or "why did the church get vandalized," or "we found a dead animal in the field."  But it all builds to absolutely nothing.  There is no payoff for any of it.  That said, the writing is good, especially the characterization.  So I guess King liked it because it also flubs the ending?

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« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2023, 01:16:56 pm »
Into the Narrowdark by Tad Williams (8 )
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (9)

Narrowdark is great, only hurt by the typical Williams style of it being essentially part one of the third book of a trilogy.  There is a lot of build up and a little bit of payoff, but plenty left hanging for the final book.  I was a bit unhappy, we get teased quite a bit about what the big bads are actually trying to do (Williams plays coy with mcguffin-like plots again), and it's clear what they are after by the end, but not why.  And the why is essentially left at "hey, I'm going to tell you, but the book is over now... next time."  It left a slightly frustrated taste.  While I'd still not call it necessary, the Brothers of the Wind ancillary book helped one of the threads to hit harder than it would have otherwise.  This series is a worthy successor to MS&T, if you liked that.  This series gets away from the basic hero's journey of MS&T and is much broader in the disparate threads he keeps going.

The Queen is likewise very good.  Sequel to the Thief, of course, and is again a shorter book that seems to be marketed as YA.  Even more so than its predecessor, this has subtlety and character work that is rarely found in other books called "YA."  Turner has a fairly unique style, which stands out more in this book.  There are big things happening, but she'll take a short paragraph to update on the status of a war or something, but the bulk of the story is her characters talking about and around the action.

Wilshire

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« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2023, 06:52:29 pm »
Blade of Tyshalle by Matthew Stover (2)
Caine Black Knife by Matthew Stover (3)
Caine's Law by Matthew Stover (4)

Acts of Caine, on a reread, is very good. Its been a few years, I have forgotten many things, and so was still surprised by some things that happened. Each book does a great job at being different than the others, which makes it very readable. Its definitely one of my favorite series. Even the last book, which seems kind of bizarre the first time, stood out as more entertaining than it felt initially.

Sleight of Shadows by Kat Howard (5)
Not great. The first book was an entertaining read by a new author, but I felt like this sequel didn't hold up. The writing is mostly lackluster, and the pacing is completely wrong, with too much happening in too short a time to be believable. Howard writes some really fun Magic though, mysterious and magical  in the style of McKillip, which was enough to carry the first book but not enough for the sequel. I hope she writes more, she could be really fun to read if she learns to write better.


Bloodline by Will Wight (6)
Reaper by Will Wight (7)
Dreadgod by Will Wight ( 8 )
Waybound by Will Wight (9)

Welp, I finished Cradle. I reread Bloodline and then moved on to Reaper, Dreadgod, and Waybound all in a row. It was ... fine. I feel like Wight's writing skills are definitely maxed out with this series. He tries to do some things in these latter books that just don't really work great. The core cast that was around from the start had satisfactory, if entirely predictable, story arcs. The characters added later on in the series are just kind of goofy, with abrupt starts/stops before disappearing.
I preferred the first several books I think, up through the Uncrowned King tournament, which is like 6 books in or something? It kind of stagnates after that.
But its entertaining enough for what it is.

Eragon (10)

I'm rereading Inheritance by Paolini, because a new book was published. I'm primarily interested to see if the writing is improved after the huge gap, presumably after some actual writing classes, and secondly I'm wondering if its generally as bad as the internet says it is. Finished Eragon so far. Its... fine? Feels like pretty standard YA fiction. The writing is pretty basic, buts I've absolutely read worse books. Names, places, and plots are borrowed very heavily from the usual suspects, but I dont find it offensive. I like the depiction of dragons, and hopefully nostalgia will carry me through the rest.

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by V. S. Villoso (11)

Unremarkable. Not much else to say. Prose is bland, plot is simple, characters are flat, world building is uninspired. It's probably supposed to be about love and betrayal, coming of age and truth bleeding the wonder of youth from the world. Maybe it is, but there's no reason to spend any time reading it as you can get the same story in about any other fantasy book you could pick off the shelf.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2023, 08:37:40 pm by Wilshire »
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The P

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« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2024, 01:38:19 pm »
Better late than never. (31)

Gideon the Ninth: (for book club, my pick) most excellent, probably the best book I read in 2023
The Library at Mount Char: it was ok, not as unique or original as I'd hoped it would be
Black Stone Heart: eh, also ok, nothing special
Ninth House: I enjoyed this one pretty well, one of the better books this year
Popisho: (for book club) it sucks, magical realism with maybe a couple neat ideas, but pointless and pretentious
Age of Ash: pretty decent start to a trilogy, kinda slow start, but picked up at the end
Good Omens: (for book club) perfectly fine, but I don't understand the acclaim, maybe too silly and disjointed
Daughter of Redwinter: not as good as his other trilogy, but enjoyable enough to keep going
Braiding Sweetgrass: (for book club) trash nonfiction written by a native american who seems to herself have bought into the noble savage trope.  everyone seems to love it.
The Way of Edan: a decent start to a trilogy by a self-published youtuber, better than it should be
The King of Attolia: more of the best YA fantasy series no one's heard about
Blade of Dream: sequel to Age of Ash, even better than the first, very much looking forward to the final book
Tress of the Emerald Sea: (for book club) the best Sanderson I've read.
Fourth Wing: (for book club) straight garbage, don't waste your time.
The Prophet of Edan: second in the trilogy, better than the first
A Conspiracy of Kings: continues to be the best YA fantasy
Brother: (for book club) pointless story about backwoods incestuous murdering family, why does it exist?
Dark Matter: fun scifi thriller, but nothing special
Hell Bent: sequel to Ninth House, not quite as good as the first, but still enjoyable
The Mermaid's Tale: surprisingly good, unique fantasy setting, I'd read more by the author
Thick as Thieves: seems like more of an aside from the general Thief story/setting, but still great YA fantasy
Saevus Corax Deals with the Dead: (for book club, my pick) it's K. J. Parker, of course it's excellent

In addition to actual books, I read all of the manga Berserk: it's ok some really enjoyable arcs in there, but also some pretty dull points.  unfortunate it's unfinished.

Also volumes 1-23 of One Piece: starts a little slow, and just gets better and better.