Yearly Reading Targets 2020

  • 44 Replies
  • 7247 Views

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

The P

  • *
  • Suthenti
  • *
  • Posts: 29
    • View Profile
« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2020, 06:51:23 am »
I'll shoot for 30 books this year.  Some things I might get to:

The ninth Expanse book.  I don't like to start a series too long before it is finished.  I read these expecting it out late 2019, but I guess it will be this year some time.

Terry Pratchett, specifically the City Watch arc of Discworld.  I've never read him before.

Bradley P. Beaulieu's Song of the Shattered Sands.  I enjoyed his previous trilogy.  I'll probably start it later in the year, as the sixth and final book is a 2021 release.

Josiah Bancroft's Books of Babel likewise will be wrapping up in 2021, so I imagine I'll get a jump on it in anticipation.

Peter Watts's Blindsight and Echopraxia.

Ann Leckie's The Raven Tower.  The Ancillary books were good, Provenance less so.  We'll see how she does with fantasy.

I'm toying with trying out the graphic novel Saga by Brian K. Vaughan.  If it wasn't a comic book, I'd be more certain.

I expect some rereads of K. J. Parker, maybe dip into Gormenghast if the mood strikes.  And of course, I'll continue slow rereads of TSA in between all else.

January (3):
The Light of All that Falls by James Islington.  Pretty good debut trilogy.  Ended nicely wrapping things up.  I'll read the next thing he writes.
The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley.  I expected better, despite not liking her God's War books.  I read a couple chapters of the next in the trilogy, but decided there were better things to read like:
The Warrior Prophet.  Excellent of course.  Fun to reread since knowing what comes after.

February (3):
Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
Blindsight by Peter Watts
Prosper's Demon by K. J. Parker

March (3)
Echopraxia by Peter Watts
My Beautiful Life by K. J. Parker
Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett

April (3)
Lord Foul's Bane by Stephen Donaldson
The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

May (3)
The Masters by Ricardo Pinto
John Dies at the End by David Wong
The Thousandfold Thought by R. Scott Bakker
« Last Edit: June 08, 2020, 03:26:29 pm by The P »

Wilshire

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • Enshoiya
  • Posts: 5834
  • One of the other conditions of possibility
    • View Profile
« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2020, 02:58:31 pm »
I read my first Prachett book last year, decided to go with the first published (Colour of Magic). He's a pretty entertaining writer. Definitely something to pick up if you're looking for something fun and jaunty.

Blindsight I loved, and I suspect any fan of Bakker would be a fan of Peter Watts. Echopraxia, the quasi-sequel, was disappointing to me though.

I read the first two Books of Babel, enjoyed the first, found the second lacking and decided to not read the third. There seems to be a significant shit if style and focus from book 1 to book 2, and I didn't appreciate it. Still worth the read though to see for yourself - its well written and unique.

How's the Expanse series? I read the first book and am not a huge fan of the whodunit mystery solving style, but the universe seems interesting. I think I might pick it up again this year if time allows.

The Dragon's Legacy by Deborah A Wolf (5)
Eh. Its OK. At times great, at times boring. Fairly typical fantasy setup, with atypical cultures smashed together. Something like tribal africa, scottish highlands, and eastern china, thrown together in adjacent kingdoms. This setup was jarring initially but doesn't actually detract from the story and I got over it. My biggest issue was that most of the POVs I found uninteresting, and the ones I preferred had the least amount of screen time. Probably wont pick up the sequel(s), but  I might.

One of the other conditions of possibility.

The P

  • *
  • Suthenti
  • *
  • Posts: 29
    • View Profile
« Reply #17 on: February 04, 2020, 01:39:44 pm »
The Expanse is worthwhile.  After the first book, they aren't too much in the whodunit genre.  Things escalate and the scope gets significantly bigger.  The books aren't in the realms of timeless classic sci-fi, but they are enjoyable.

The P

  • *
  • Suthenti
  • *
  • Posts: 29
    • View Profile
« Reply #18 on: February 08, 2020, 09:53:48 pm »
Finished Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett.  Enjoyable, certainly, but as I told my wife, I prefer my fantasy to be more grave.  It's a good change of pace, and I'll certainly read more.

Wilshire

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • Enshoiya
  • Posts: 5834
  • One of the other conditions of possibility
    • View Profile
« Reply #19 on: February 10, 2020, 01:48:48 pm »
Finished Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett.  Enjoyable, certainly, but as I told my wife, I prefer my fantasy to be more grave.  It's a good change of pace, and I'll certainly read more.
I imagine all Pratchett's books are like that. Well written, he does interesting things with punctuation and shapes of words to create sounds in the reader's mind, which I find very impressive... But normally the tone is not something I'm looking for.

There's a couple authors that I think do "grave" fantasy in a unique way:

Robin Hobb. She strikes a nice balance between grave and light. The Farseer trilogy has an extremely melancholy vibe without striving into depressing territory. Also probably one of the best writers in fantasy imo, worth checking out if you haven't yet.

Also, Poppy War by RF Kuang. Dark and violent, but what's interesting is she strays into territories usually skipped over. Violence of war, sure, but she also deals with depression, emotional/relationship abuse, and bigotry/racism. These things lend a visceral and "real" quality to the books that can be lost when books try to be too dark/violent just for the sake of being edgy.
One of the other conditions of possibility.

Wilshire

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • Enshoiya
  • Posts: 5834
  • One of the other conditions of possibility
    • View Profile
« Reply #20 on: February 13, 2020, 05:01:17 pm »
Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay (6)

Great book, really liked Kay's writing. The premise was great and the plot was fun to follow to its resolution. Major downside is that there are functionally only 3 women in the story and their entire purpose was to be sexy and sleep with a variety of men... So look elsewhere for strong female roles, however it is otherwise worth reading.

Next up, The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. Been some time since I've read a book with dragons (dragon's legacy early this year doesnt count because there aren't actually any dragons), and the book have gotten a lot of hype in the last year or two.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2020, 05:07:17 pm by Wilshire »
One of the other conditions of possibility.

The P

  • *
  • Suthenti
  • *
  • Posts: 29
    • View Profile
« Reply #21 on: February 17, 2020, 04:21:25 pm »
I enjoyed Hobb.  I read the Farseer trilogy in the mid 90s.  In 2018, I decided I read too many male authors, so spent the dedicated the whole year to female authors.  A decent portion of the was Hobb's entire Realm of the Elderlings.  The way she ties together the disparate stories over decades of plot is impressive.

Poppy War is on my list, I think it's one I need to wait until the trilogy or whatever is closer to done.  Oh crap, just looked it up, and book three is due in May (according to Amazon)?  Guess I'll short-list it.

Just finished Blindsight.  It was pretty good, but seemed to be lacking something...  It was suitably creepy.  The vampire thing was a little jarring at first, but was well-done (including the video presentation).  I don't know if I just expected the blindsight condition to figure more in the story or what.  It was still enjoyable, and I'll pick up Echopraxia at some point.

Next up, I realized K. J. Parker snuck a couple novellas through my radar in the past few months.

Wilshire

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • Enshoiya
  • Posts: 5834
  • One of the other conditions of possibility
    • View Profile
« Reply #22 on: February 17, 2020, 04:32:17 pm »
Ah, too bad you've read most of my suggestions, but hope you enjoy Poppy War. I'll see if I can't think of others.
FWIW, I'm really not a fan of Lawrence's Broken Empire. Maybe Joe Abercrombie's First Law.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2020, 04:34:52 pm by Wilshire »
One of the other conditions of possibility.

The P

  • *
  • Suthenti
  • *
  • Posts: 29
    • View Profile
« Reply #23 on: February 18, 2020, 02:47:57 pm »
Prosper's Demon by K. J. Parker

Parker continues to be a master of the short form.  His longer work can occasionally get tedious, but I don't mind a couple pages for a crash course in bronze-casting in a tight story.  Wry humour, quotable lines, the inevitable twist.  Classic Parker.

Wilshire

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • Enshoiya
  • Posts: 5834
  • One of the other conditions of possibility
    • View Profile
« Reply #24 on: March 04, 2020, 02:57:45 pm »
The Prior of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

I was underwhelmed by this. It turns out to be a rather generic fantasy plot - big bad evil awakens, needs stopped by the heroes. The major standout feature of the book is that... There's a matriarchy instead of a patriarchy, and some of the women are lesbians (or bi, its unclear).

There's a Monk, a Queen, a dragon rider, and some bumbling soldiers as supporting roles, who spoiler alert - slay the big bad evil and live happily ever after. The writing itself ("the prose") is fine, if a bit bland for my taste. The dragons are lame - which one has to work pretty hard to make dragons lame imo, but being defeated by some chloroform is just... lame. The standard arrow-through-the-damaged-scale bit is also rather tired.

Can't say I recommend it.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2020, 03:00:04 pm by Wilshire »
One of the other conditions of possibility.

The P

  • *
  • Suthenti
  • *
  • Posts: 29
    • View Profile
« Reply #25 on: March 05, 2020, 02:44:31 pm »
Echopraxia by Peter Watts

I was kind of let down by this one.  Maybe I didn't understand a lot of it (likely), but its plot seemed a lot less focused than in Blindsight.  I do enjoy all the different takes on cognition and the various paths of post-humanity.  The inclusion of faith and God (or the idea of God) in hard sci-fi was pretty well done, too.

Wilshire

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • Enshoiya
  • Posts: 5834
  • One of the other conditions of possibility
    • View Profile
« Reply #26 on: March 05, 2020, 03:02:43 pm »
Echopraxia by Peter Watts

I was kind of let down by this one.  Maybe I didn't understand a lot of it (likely), but its plot seemed a lot less focused than in Blindsight.  I do enjoy all the different takes on cognition and the various paths of post-humanity.  The inclusion of faith and God (or the idea of God) in hard sci-fi was pretty well done, too.

Yeah this was pretty much my take as well. Blindsight was so good in a lot of ways, and Echopraxia just wasn't. The narrative/plot just didn't work out very well, and it felt more like an exposition/extrapolation of research rather than a cohesive story.

I did love the conversation, and the expansion on it in the glossary, of porche the spider, along with many other topics.

One of the other conditions of possibility.

The P

  • *
  • Suthenti
  • *
  • Posts: 29
    • View Profile
« Reply #27 on: March 06, 2020, 04:21:52 pm »
My Beautiful Life by K. J. Parker

This one was middling as far as other Parker novellas go, but still very good.  The intro claims it is basically the story of an actual historical 11th century figure.  I did some deep diving in to wikipedia and found the guy (Michael IV the Paphlagonian, ftw).  Parker merged some co-regents and eliminated some family members for cohesion, added some narrative embellishments, but this is the closest I'll get to reading actual history.

(Quick aside to Echopraxia, I probably enjoyed reading the notes at the end more than the actual story)

Wilshire

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • Enshoiya
  • Posts: 5834
  • One of the other conditions of possibility
    • View Profile
« Reply #28 on: March 09, 2020, 07:45:20 pm »
The Lathe of Heave by Ursula K Le Guin 8

Pretty fun. Le Guin is just a great writer of classic scifi. This one is about the is-ought gap, and is a bit more temporal than some of her other novels because of the at subject.  Its a great book, would recommend to someone looking for a quick, tight scifi story that leaves you thinking.

(Quick aside to Echopraxia, I probably enjoyed reading the notes at the end more than the actual story)
I think I agree with this, at least for the most part.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2020, 07:49:44 pm by Wilshire »
One of the other conditions of possibility.

Madness

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • Conversational Batman
  • Posts: 5256
  • Strength on the Journey - Journey Well
    • View Profile
    • The Second Apocalypse
« Reply #29 on: March 11, 2020, 04:48:47 pm »
Boom!

Surprise, Kill, Vanish - Annie Jacobsen (2)

Finally, I can report actually finishing a second book :).

I like reading about history fairly indiscriminately so I liked it. Mildly biased but no more than a few moments that were really off-putting. I'm told Jacobsen is a journalist before a historian but the research and writing training really should trend toward similarly unbiased either way.

I'm just glad I'm through it so I can move on to finishing other previously started books (this year*, as I won't count finishing ones I started before the New Year) - this one was really getting in the way given the attentional constraints around here.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2020, 01:05:04 pm by Madness »
The Existential Scream
Weaponizing the Warrior Pose - Declare War Inwardly
carnificibus: multus sanguis fluit
Die Better
The Theory-Killer