I have been among many greatly anticipating the second book in the Clifton Chronicles and I am happy to report that it doesn't disappoint. I would say that The Sins of the Father is a faster moving and even more intriguing story then the first. The book jumps literally right as the first left off giving you answers to questions that we have been wondering about since the end of the first book. The Sins of the Father covers a lot of ground in terms of years, but once again ends with a nail biting cliffhanger that makes the wait for Book 3 even more difficult to bear.
I absolutely love both The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. Its probably my favorite fantasy series of all time. So I knew going into The Slow Regard of Silent Things that this was going to be a major departure from those two. I guess I wasn't fully prepared for how different this would end up being.
The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a tale about Auri a side character in the first two novels who crosses paths with the novels main protagonist quite often. We always knew there was more to Auri then let on and this was Rothfuss chance to illuminate her as a character. In some ways it works and in others it doesn't. I found it enchanting that Rothfuss who reads the audiobook gives you a number of reasons not to purchase the book and then closes the short story telling everyone why he wrote it. It's a really odd tale and different then anything I've ever read before.
Its a very nicely weaved story that isn't what you would call plot heavy. There were times where I drifted off and others where I wanted to know more. Heck at the end of the day I still feel like I still only slightly understand Auri. She's still full of mystery and in a lot of ways I feel like I know less about her now then I did before. If you're a giant fan of the first two books then its worth a read, otherwise you probably want to stay clear of this one.
I'm so conflicted on the entire Last Policeman trilogy. I purchased each of the three books in the hopes that it would build to a climatic conclusion. On paper these books are right up my alley. The world is coming to an end, and Detective Hank Palace is trying to figure out what to do with the remaining months of his life. The first two novels (The Last Policeman & Countdown City) were both good entertaining short reads. Nice appetizers in between some of my more meaty reads this year.
Out of the three books World of Trouble is probably my least favorite. Its not a bad book but I just found Hank's motives and mindset to be completely unbelievable. The fact that Hank is continuing to be a detective until the very last moments of humans existence doesn't even make sense. He has this vendetta to find a sister that throughout the novels never seems to really want to spend the remaining time alive with him. I also never got the feeling that Hank was a real person. He always felt like an ideal of a detective at the end of the world.
There were some interesting moments but I was kind of left without any emotion. I'm just not sure the idea of a detective at the end of the world made for the best story. I think it could have but this wasn't it. Still its a entertaining short read and a journey that although not exciting was worth the journey nonetheless.
In a lot of ways Revival by Stephen King is everything I both love and dislike about reading a Stephen King novel. There's no denying that King is a master story-teller. He's written some of my favorite novels of all-time (11-22-63 & The Stand) and even novels that weren't my cup of tea I still enjoyed because of how well he can spin a story together.
Revival is a novel that shows off yet again why Stephen King is the prolific author he is. Revival is about Jamie Morton who we get to see from age 6 all the way to his early 60's. His tale is intertwined with the minister Charles Jacobs and throughout his life you see the changes in both characters quite a bit. This is what Stephen King does really well. He develops characters to a point where you can connect with them even if you aren't necessarily enjoying the core story.
Revival's biggest issue is its ending. I can't really dive into it without spoiling the entire novel but I will just say that it completely botches the landing. The entire novel is building to this climatic conclusion and yet I was left scratching my head wondering how King thought this was a good way to end a novel. I don't need a happy ending. I just need one that makes sense. I enjoyed the ride of Revival but to be honest the journey wasn't as smooth as many of his recent novels.
I'm a big Jim Gaffigan fan. I've watched an absolute ton of his stand-up and even read his first book, Dad is Fat. What I liked about Dad is Fat was that it was a nice blend of his stand-up routines and his life in New York as a Dad. It felt genuine but still made me laugh quite a bit.
Food: A Love Story is a rehash of much of Jim Gaffigan's stand-up routine. From the infamous Hot Pocket bit to his Cinnabon is like a bean bag chair that you can eat. If you've watched his stand-up a lot of his stuff is going to feel familiar almost too familiar. Some of the jokes were exact replicas of jokes from his stand-up. It felt like to me we got a copy and paste of many of his great jokes with some extra side commentary sprinkled in for good measure. I love his stand-up but I didn't need to purchase it in audiobook form as well.
It ended up feeling like a cheap cash-in. I hope it wasn't purposely put out that way but regardless its a hard book to recommend. Unless you've never watched any of his stand-up this is one I'd say your better off logging into Netflix and watching his stand-up over reading this book.
After Game of Thrones, it was just a matter of time before a long fantasy series would get transitioned into a TV series. Outlander is that next series. I purchased Outlander to read before watching the show and in short, I'm glad I did.
I really wasn't sure what to expect. The trailers for the show made it seem like an action heavy time travel show. The book and its many variations of covers look more like a romance novel. In essence its a little bit of both. The novel follows Claire who travels back in time to 1757 in Scotland. What transpires is literally part love story part fantasy epic. There were moments in Outlander that I was captivated, and other times that I wasn't sure what all the praise was all about.
The book starts off really strong. Claire is lost in a world she's not familiar with and gets herself into quite a bit of trouble. Things do meander towards the middle portions and then come to a huge climax with a good portion of the book still remaining. I probably haven't mentioned but this isn't a short weekend read. Coming in over 30 hrs on the audio version there were times that the drives flew by and others when the book took its time.
Outlander might be a bit mushy for my taste, but it was still a really entertaining read. I found the characters interesting, but the world of Scotland in 1757 stole the show for me. Its a fascinating time in history, and one that I know so little about. You can see that future books are going to lean heavily on the historical events of that time period and for me that might be the books crowning achievement. Although not as steadfast as I was with Game of Thrones I think I will continue on with the series to see what trouble Claire gets herself into next.
I've been in a reading rut. Most of my reading over the summer has been middle of the road. In fact I'd have to look back all the way to May to find a book I really enjoyed. And finally that rut is over after just finishing Blood Song by Anthony Ryan. I literally just stumbled upon the book surfing GoodReads and found that the book was highly reviewed and decided to give it a shot. I'm so glad I did.
The novel follows Vaelin Al Sorna who at 10 years old was dropped at the door of the sixth order where he would be taught the ways of a warrior. The book is actually told from the perspective of Vaelin Al Sorna re-telling his life to a scribe similar to the way The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is written. It's a really nice trick to give you an idea of the main characters path making you far more interested in how he gets to his current destination. The book jumps back and forth between past and present but does it a very easy to follow manner.
My only real issue with Blood Song is the lack of character development. Where as in The Name of the Wind you get to know Kvothe, Blood Song jumps from training to battle scenes pretty quick and doesn't give you much time to really dig into the characters. Luckily Anthony Ryan makes up for some of the lack of character development with exquisitely written battle scenes and a world that is ready to be explored.
Blood Song isn't as deep of an epic fantasy as I would've liked but it might have been the most entertaining and one that sets up for what could be a remarkable series.
If a friend walked up to me and said, Joel you really need to read this book The Rithmatist. It's about a boy who goes to school at a university where half the students are Rithmatists. What are Rithmatists you ask? Well they draw circles and figures on the ground with chalk and fight each other. The book is about a boy who's not a Rithmatist but gets involved in an investigation on a few Rithmatist who have disappeared. I'd probably laugh and say something snide and completely dismiss the book.
And to be honest it would be a shame because behind this bizarre idea is a pretty good book. The story revolves around Joel (great name) who's attending the university for the best and the brightest after his father passed away in an accident many years before. When some students start to go missing Joel is there to help the Professor Fitch solve the mystery. There is nothing about The Rithmatist that's entirely new or original but its a good story. There are some good twists albeit not shocking.
The Rithmatist is classified as a young adult novel and some of the hindrances of that label hold the book back. There are so many fantasy novels with kids attending school that some tropes feel a bit overused. And yet I still enjoyed the short read and might even continue the series if/when the next book is released.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is a beautifully written novel. It's one of the best written novels I've read in the past couple of years. Truly incredible, and yet I could not get into it. No matter what I tried to do I couldn't get into this tragic World War II tale. I tried re-reading parts, I took a break from it, and eventually just decided to push through. You ever read something and know its great but just not for you? That's how I felt with All the Light We Cannot See.
The novel follows two teens in Germany and France during World War II. Mari-Laure a blind girl in Paris France lives with her dad who works at the Natural History museum. Then you have Werner a young boy who loves fixing/building radios. There stories are told concurrently and for me just never were that interesting. That's horrible to say I know but I just could not get into their tales, their families, or their journey.
I get that this might make me come across heartless, but for me I was just bored. I finished this book to more relief then anything. I knew the entire time that this was a brilliantly written book but one obviously not written for me.
I'm not sure California by Edan Lepucki deserved the Colbert bump. The book was featured a month before its release on The Colbert Report, when Stephen Colbert was reporting on the Hachette v Amazon dispute. The concept sounded fascinating. A husband and wife in California after the world has been desecrated. You never do learn what happened but it sounds like a combination of war, global warming, and society just breaking down.
So what's wrong with California the novel? Pretty much everything. The book doesn't really have the necessary elements of a good story. Like a beginning middle or end. The book is just there. You meet the focus of the book Cal (short for Calvin and also his nickname California) and Frida who are living in the wilderness after escaping Los Angeles. Without going into too much of the plot (or the minor resemblance's of a plot) its about their survival and the survival of those around them.
I was listening to the audiobook and kept looking at the time left in the book and was wondering when something was going to happen. Yet nothing ever really happens. Frida complains and Cal consoles, and their characters switch roles a few times, but in all honesty nothing happens in this book. Both characters come off flat, and just have little to no redeeming quality.
I guess that's my biggest issue with California. Where in a book like The Road you've got the main protagonists to root for in this bleak existence, I found myself not necessarily caring about what happened to any character in California. And then the book just ends. Rather abruptly going ahead briefly in time and then just ends. I listened to the ending a few times hoping that I missed something. Nope the book just ends and thus ends my review on California. An interesting concept that led to a lackluster book.
After reading The Last Policeman earlier this year I'd been interested in continuing the series but not rushing to it. I love the concept. A young policeman at the end of the world. An asteroid is only months away from making impact and destroying the world, and yet Hank Palace still wants to bring justice to a crumbling society. My biggest problem with the first book and continued in Countdown City is that Hank Palace doesn't feel real. He's like an ideal that everyone should strive to be like but you know that no one in that situation would.
In Countdown City he takes on the case of his child-hood babysitter who can't find her husband. Like any good detective novel Hank goes after this seemingly straightforward case that turns out to be anything but. As the book describes they're only months away from the extinction of humans, a lot of people are going missing, so finding one man is no easy feat. The best parts of Countdown City are describing the ways in which people are coping. Some hang on religion, others form militias, and others retreat to even more primitive means.
Its an interesting concept and a decent detective novel. It's a shame that both areas can't shine throughout the entire novel. There are just far to many head-scratching decisions that keep this series from being great. Countdown City is a short solid read but not all that memorable.
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