Yearly Reading Targets 2022

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Wilshire

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« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2022, 02:30:53 pm »
The Plague of Swords by Miles Cameron (3)
Pretty good. More of what I'd call standard Cameron at this point. The point feels a bit belabored, but the characters are worth reading about and the increase in scope continues to be logical. The tightest book of the series was definitely the first one, but I'm enjoying it enough to really want to finish it out. I dont expect any shocking plot twists or revelations - the destination become clear since around the end of book 2 - but the investment in time is definitely worth it for me.

The Trouble with Peace by Joe Abercrombie (10)
This could easily top The First Law trilogy.  It probably will; Abercrombie has improved over the years.
Well its definitely on my list this year, maybe even up next after I finish Traitor Son.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2022, 12:53:31 pm by Wilshire »
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The P

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« Reply #16 on: March 22, 2022, 02:22:37 pm »
The Wisdom of Crowds by Joe Abercrombie (9)

Great book, great series.  This is definitely worth reading.  I think it is better as a whole than the First Law trilogy, but the first one maybe had the more memorable characters.  Not to say the characters in this were bad, it's just hard to compete with Logen and Glokta.

The only issue I had with this was the pacing.  I flew through the first three quarters of this book.  It's non-stop interesting things happening until the last quarter, then everything slowed down.  I would have been happy if it ended there, but I am still happy.  There was one more conflict of sorts to settle after the main action, but it wasn't really acknowledged and did not serve to drive the narrative at all.  Then suddenly, "oh yeah, this series-spanning issue should probably be addressed before we close things out."  This is a very minor quibble.

One concern I had going in to the series as a whole was how Abercrombie would address the revolution and political turmoil.  I worried things could get heavy-handed or soap-boxy.  Abercrombie did a good job in how he presented both the need/inevitability of revolution and the horror/atrocity of political upheaval.

Abercrombie remains one of my top fantasy authors.  I hear he's done with the First Law world, but I'll read whatever he comes up with next.

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« Reply #17 on: April 07, 2022, 01:02:50 pm »
The Fall of Dragons by Miles Cameron (4)

Finished! Feel like it took forever, but despite that I think the series is very good. The plot doesn't devolve too much in the direction I was afraid of (a contest between gods), which kept most of the stories feeling very relevant. There are a few nice emotional high moments throughout, and especially near the end, but it is very predictable. A large part of the final book, and the series, revolves around movements of troops. This creates pacing issues, but I now think its a feature of the story. Things move a lot more slowly when you are attempting to moving 50k troops vs. 500. The entire story really feels like a  vehicle for explaining how troop movement and placement works, which isn't necessarily a bad thing but it also holds this story back from being great. Ultimately too much time in later books is spent describing logistics, which makes it feel like a grind. But getting through that, most of the characters are entertaining and the plot is satisfying to resolve.

I'd recommend it, especially to anyone who thinks "I wish someone would write a book about mundane XYZ". Not because there isn't any great evil to vanquish (there is), or because there is an absence of magic (a tremendous amount of the later books revolve around magic), but because none of that stuff supersedes the hours it takes 10k troops to wheel about into a battle formation from a marching line, or a lack of arrows collapsing an army.  If logistics don't sound very interesting, its hard to recommend this too highly as a series, though the first one or two books is probably worth reading. I'm glad I read it, and might seek out some more Cameron in a few years to see how his writing develops.
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The P

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« Reply #18 on: April 08, 2022, 12:43:39 pm »
The Hod King by Josiah Bancroft (10)

I very much enjoyed this one.  The story lines in this are much more compelling and make some progress.  The last book spent a lot of time languishing and preparing for all the activity of this one.  My one complaint is the structure.  The story is told in three parts, following a different character for each one.  They all start and end at basically the same chronological points.  I don't know what is gained by separating them out instead of alternating the pov chapters.  As it is, things start, build to a climax, then reset with a different character, build, reset, build.  Pacing aside, each story was interesting, cool steampunk stuff goes on, there are some nice swings of emotion and revelations.  I'm excited for the conclusion.

Miles Cameron is one I'll read at some point, no idea when.  The logistics shouldn't bother me, especially if there are wizards.

The P

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« Reply #19 on: April 11, 2022, 01:46:24 pm »
The Builders by Daniel Polansky (11)

This is marketed as Redwall for adults, I guess.  Other than a cast of anthropomorphized woodland creatures, there isn't much similar.  It is plenty violent, fast paced, enjoyable.  It starts off feeling like a typical heist plot, with a bunch of old "crew" being gathered.  And maybe it's not much more than that; rather than pulling one more job, they are gathering to right an old wrong.

I do wonder, why animals?  It's not a fantastical setting.  They talk about Mexico and France.  You get the impression they are in the region of the States, but the setting is referred to as the Garden or the Kingdom.  They talk about the "aughts" as being in the past, and there are railroads and guns, so I'm guessing mid-1800s.  But the plot does not reflect any real-world event.  So why not have it all made up since we're going with talking animals?  Why do we have Mexico and France, but no historical basis for the plot?  I dunno.  This is what bugged me about it.

I liked it, it's certainly worth the couple hours it took to read.  There were exciting twists and the writing was good.  I certainly wouldn't have read it if it was marketed as "heist story set in mid-19th century America," so I guess the animal angle worked.

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« Reply #20 on: April 13, 2022, 04:51:01 pm »
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (5)
A fun quick read. Weir went back to where he's comfortable - which is writing about a lonely, or at least solitary, male scientist solving problems. While this sounds like a boring plot, as with Martian, Weir does a great job making it fun. While its definitely on the more Fiction side of Science Fiction, the writing and plot are entertaining and focused enough to make it entertaining throughout. Worth the read if you want a light scifi novel.

The Builders by Daniel Polansky (11)
It sounds to me like the author either didn't like, or didn't feel comfortable, writing human characters, but that's just a guess. I dislike fantasy being set in half built worlds with lazy worldbuilding stapled onto real world places/histories. Making up lore is one of the prime factors that set Fantasy apart, so doing a bad job at it ruins the book, at least imo.
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« Reply #21 on: May 05, 2022, 02:43:31 pm »
Unspoken Name by A K Larkwood (6)

This book was... not good. My primary dislike is that there's nothing exceptional about it. Its bland and generic throughout, making it difficult to read. All the characters are flat and have little to no growth, the prose style is very bland and uninteresting which makes the book feel like it goes on forever, and there's little to no descriptions of the apparently complex/intricate worlds/religions/gods/politics/etc. so everything feels dead and lifeless (and leaves the impression of being under construction, with strings and scaffolding still visible). Beyond that, the book is split into 3 parts, which combined make the book take much too long, but individually are too short to tell a reasonable story. There's really just no reason to read this.
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« Reply #22 on: May 06, 2022, 02:32:01 pm »
The Fall of Babel by Josiah Bancroft (12)

This was a good conclusion to the series.  Again, the big issue I have is the pacing; starting over with a new perspective of events that have already happened.  I think it would work better with pov chapters alternating in a more linear layout.  But still, I enjoyed it.  Good writing and character development, satisfying climaxes.  Very, very steampunky with lots of hand-wavey anachronistic tech, but it doesn't take itself too seriously, fortunately.

[/quote]
It sounds to me like the author either didn't like, or didn't feel comfortable, writing human characters, but that's just a guess. I dislike fantasy being set in half built worlds with lazy worldbuilding stapled onto real world places/histories. Making up lore is one of the prime factors that set Fantasy apart, so doing a bad job at it ruins the book, at least imo.
[/quote]

Normally this would bother me, but the story is so short, it's a minor quibble.

The P

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« Reply #23 on: May 09, 2022, 01:29:59 pm »
Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre by Max Brooks (13)

This was quick.  It's basically journal entries and some interviews about this little tech commune that gets stranded when Mount Rainier erupts, then bigfoot attacks.  I never read Brooks' more popular zombie stuff, but he seems to do well in this niche of epistolary, multi-source, faux accounting of terrifying events.  I was surprised at how good the characterization was.  I expected it to be very shock, plot, action focused.  But within all that, Brooks managed to flesh out some nice character arcs.  It's been many years, but I think Crichton did the scary primate assault better.  Congo was certainly better researched and grounded, but I guess a bigfoot story has to be silly if you look too closely.  It was an enjoyable read that didn't require too much brainpower.  Recommended if you want some quick palate-cleanser or something.

The Judging Eye by R. Scott Bakker (14)

This continues my eternal rereads of TSA in between other books.  I just had from the sranc attack in Cil-Aujas to the end.  Very good, highly recommend.  :)

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« Reply #24 on: May 13, 2022, 12:12:08 pm »
The Trouble with Peace by Joe Abercrombie (7)

Gratifyingly, this was better than A Little Hatred. The trouble with the first book, in comparison to Blade Itself, is that it spent a tremendous amount of time being an introductory novel (which Blade Itself never did). This one felt like it flowed a lot better, and was more of what I expected from Abercrombie. He continues to be a great writer, writing characters that you really want to succeed or fail depending on who they are, and then smacking you in the face with those wants as he turns things upside down. Where I was uninterested in continuing the story after A Little Hatred, here I am definitely excited to start The Wisdom of Crowds right away.
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« Reply #25 on: May 16, 2022, 05:13:00 pm »
Faithless by Graham Austin-King (15)

I think this must have been free on Kindle at some point, but I don't remember ordering it.  It's...ok.  There is a good story in there, but there were enough little things to detract from it being great or even good.  Part, I think, comes down to editing.  There were more than a few awkward sentences.  Sometimes a line would say nearly the same thing as one a couple paragraphs before.  Sometimes a sentence would have a description at odds with what had earlier been described.  The biggest issue is how the story was structured.  It is basically told in two parallel stories/povs, which at points are too similar. 
(click to show/hide)

It sounds terrible, but I didn't hate it.  There were some neat ideas in there, and it wasn't too long.  There were occasional glimpses of what could become a good author.  I just think he needs a good editor or better feedback on early drafts.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2022, 06:26:35 pm by The P »

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« Reply #26 on: May 26, 2022, 12:39:16 pm »
Blood Song by Anthony Ryan (16)

I liked this quite a bit.  It has the framing everyone seems to use lately, where we start at the end of the story the bulk of the narration is relating how we get to that point.  Sometimes I find it annoying, but here it works very well.  Possibly aided by the story not taking multiple books to get back to that point.  The author does a good job of knowing what to skip.  Plenty of things happen off-page, and years of the protagonist's life are briefly summed up to keep the narration from bogging down.  I'll definitely read the next two books (it's a trilogy of course), and am interested to see how it's framed, since we caught back up the timeline in this first book.

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« Reply #27 on: May 27, 2022, 12:29:12 pm »
The Long Game by K. J. Parker (17)

He keeps churning them out.  This is another novella ~100 pages.  Excellent of course.  I don't think he'd ever write a novella I didn't love.  This one doesn't have any characters in common (I think) with Prosper's Demon or Inside Man, but it also deals with a "demon" and possession.  It's great fun, I laughed a couple times, typical Parker.   I know I've said it before, but I highly recommend any Parker novella.

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« Reply #28 on: June 13, 2022, 07:20:34 pm »
The Wisdom of Crowds Joe Abercrombie (8 )

I liked this series. Abercrombie actually did a good job not falling into his own standard format, which was refreshing. Its a fun series, with predictably a bunch of easy to love and hate characters. Overall the story wasn't your typical fantasy revolution story, and the industrialization setting was also pretty unique. As The P mentioned above, the last 10%ish of the book is a bit odd. It just takes way too long to finish after the plot climax. This doesn't ruin the book, but its a clumsy finish.

Overall it was good, but I still enjoyed First Law better.
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« Reply #29 on: June 18, 2022, 08:47:19 pm »
Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C Clark (9)

Surprisingly good. A lot of old scifi seems to miss that having an actual story makes for a better book. It didn't knock my socks off or anything, but it reasonably earn its accolades as a hugo/nebula winner. The characters are mediocre, but the plot is interesting enough and Clark does a good job weaving in past/present/future stories into a cohesive whole.
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