I've read a bunch of books since the last time I rambled on about books here, so here are a few that I've taken the time to record some rambling, semi-coherent thoughts about -
Spire by Aaron Safronoff
If you're a fan of Philip K Dick or the Matrix films, I suspect you'll like this book. Speaking of PKD, I was surprised to see Philip K Dick listed amongst the author's list of favorite authors (at the book's end), but I really shouldn't have been. The early similarities to A Scanner Darkly were heavy. I have to admit that all the early drug references also made me doubt that this was a book I would enjoy reading. But I needn't have worried - the Neo of this story (Joshua) just had a different entrance point to wonderland than the Neo of the Matrix films. Drug abuse is not a theme embraced by the book (nor is it anti-drug use), despite the protagonist's many failings.
Regarding my Matrix comparisons, don't worry, this isn't a rip-off of the Matrix. It is set sometime in the future after some cataclysmic event, but there are no machines enslaving humanity. There are "agents" similar to those in the Matrix films, but they're police-state goons with amped-up abilities courtesy of science rather than super-powered faux-people (programs) policing the matrix. There's also a protagonist with unexplainable abilities (the "one" of this story) who is assisted by a cast of interconnected and mostly martial-skilled characters. This is only book one in a series, so I'm not sure where the story is ultimately taking us. I doubt it's to Zion, though. The book's ending only hints of the abilities Joshua has yet to learn how to harness and control.
The voice of the story is a little odd - quite often shifting from first to third person depending on which character has the spotlight. But the prose is well-written and the character development is thorough enough that you develop some interest in the many characters of the book. I would share some of the more interesting passages, but I read a physical copy of the book, not an ebook, and I'm much too lazy to transcribe anything from the book.
I'm looking forward to reading the next book (which is available already - I just don't have it yet).
Dangercide, Pirate Detective by Jerrie Hardie
This is another book that I was contacted by the author and offered a chance to read for free. The author thought I would be interested based on my brief and positive review for Terry Pratchett's Thud. I was eager to read a novel with the word "pirate" in its title as well as a book described by its author as "a humorous full-length novel of 90,000 words, set in England and thus written with British spelling and usage, plus a few British swearwords." I've made it perfectly clear here that I'm a huge fan of pirates and the humourous fiction of the aforementioned Sir Terry, Douglas Adams, and (though less humorous, generally) Neil Gaiman. As far as the swear words go, there weren't a whole lot of them, but those that there were...seemed incongruous with everything else going on. They just seemed unnecessary.
I started Dangercide several months ago. And just never felt any momentum propelling me forward in the story. In the intervening time, I read two other books (Killing Titan and On Stranger Tides) and started a third (Spire - mentioned above). These were all physical books, not eBooks. Part of the problem may be that I just don't love reading eBooks (which Dangercide is). I doubt I ever will. But a bigger problem was that I found the abhorrent primary character's (Dangercide, the detective) passage through his life to be disjointed and confusing. The characters who surround him are amorphous blobs who sometimes interact with him directly, and are often mentioned with no clear indication for why they're significant to the storyline. I doubt I could even describe Dangercide physically with any accuracy. The narrator pays very little attention to people, unless Dangercide is focusing his loathing their way.
Dangercide's choppy inner-thoughts come fast and furious in the early chapters of the book. They never stop, but they're especially frequent (and distracting) in the earlier chapters. case in point -
More minutes pass. No movement in the house.
A pair of bats flit around the garden and flash sporadically through the light from the rear window. Dangercide shifts from one knee to the other.
What am I doing here? That sounds philosophical. Why did I traipse through fields and hedges just to sit in the shrubs, if I can't even collect any evidence? What was I even hoping to see this far from the house? He feels a familiar object in one hand and looks down to see nothing in the darkness, then feels that it's Watson. He puts the battered old pencil back in his pocket.
If she doesn't come round this side, it'll be a complete waste of time. A mosquito whines near Dangercide's face. He bats his hand at it, which seems to convince it to go elsewhere, for now, at any rate.
At least the rain has stopped. May as well go home. But we'll have to go through the fields and hedges again. Let's wait till she goes to bed so we can leave via the garden. Dangercide pulls a catmint stem toward his face and breathes its scent. Upstairs, a light comes on in the corridor beyond what must be a bedroom.
In the early chapters of the book, I imagined Dangercide to be similar to Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective - brilliant, scattered, and maybe a little bit lazy and slightly dishonest, but generally a good person. But as the character of Dangercide revealed itself, he had all of Dirk's character flaws and none of his strengths. In fact, I'd describe Dangercide as a sociopath with no admirable characteristics I could name. If that's the type of book you're into, then this will be right up your alley.
One thing I will admit is that I didn't see the ending coming. Also, the pace of the story did pick up for me as it reached its unexpected conclusion.
So...in conclusion, not horrible. But not a book I'm likely to ever re-read. And not at all related to pirates, so that was a bummer.
Oh, and speaking of Dirk Gently, I re-read the Douglas Adams again a few months ago. I also just started watching a second BBC adaptation of the character (the character, but not the actual DNA stories, as far as I can tell so far). The first BBC attempt at adapting Dirk Gently was interesting, but not exactly right either. Admittedly, it seemed to be a closer approximation of the character than this one has been so far. The current adaptation seems more like Ford Prefect playing Dirk Gently (an alien from Betelgeuse).
The Check by Clair W Harmony
This is another eBook that I was asked to read and review for Amazon by an author just beginning his fiction writing career (which is funny, because this author is not exactly a young guy): Clair W Harmony (a guy, not a girl, despite the confusing name).
I've read more than a few books based on an intriguing idea or an exciting/interesting premise that I had high expectations for, but I just couldn't become immersed in. They just failed to deliver for one reason or another. I would definitely place the ideas/storyline of The Check in the intriguing-premise-that-takes-some-time-to-grab-my-attention camp.
First, there's just something about the author's writing style - it just felt abrupt and choppy to me. It lacks the smooth storytelling language that the most-skilled fiction writers employ. I'm not claiming to be an expert - I'm just offering an opinion. Here's an early passage from the book that I think exhibits the writing-style I'm referring to:
From his Vietnam experience, danger alerts still came often and frequent. He had learned to smell the odors of the jungle which would alert him to the presence of the enemy... like smoke from a campfire. The enemy could smell GI's by their soaps, deodorants and after-shaves. Other danger signs included freshly-broken branches, approaching voices or even the absence of sound, as when the frogs would suddenly stop croaking in the night.
He had learned all too well to recognize the warning signs in his surroundings, even in the now and present, in this civilized world. He couldn't put his finger on it, but there was an edge to this library setting.
Second, the story's protagonist evolves from a provincial and dopey nobody to an eloquent, suave and extremely calculating protagonist in an astoundingly short period of time. Was it untapped potential inside of him that had lain dormant until it had the impetus to break free? I don't know, it was never really addressed in the book. It just happened. And finally, the underlying premise is a little far-fetched. It's very similar to the story-line in the now-cancelled TV series, Person of Interest, which involves some serious Artificial Intelligence that doesn't exist just yet. But for all I know, this could be something that becomes reality in ten years and this book may then be hailed as prophetic. Who knows?
I also found the cover of this eBook to be very lacking. A great cover can sell a book - and the original cover for this one wasn't a seller. The current cover with the different currency is better, but still not exactly eye-catching enough to draw me in for a closer look.
So while I can't give this book an overwhelming two thumbs up, I can honestly say that I didn't expect the plot to twist the way it did and I did find the premise very interesting, so it was worth reading. I might be interested in reading the followup, should it be published. If the price was right.
There are eleven other books I've read in the last few months I plan to ramble on about, but I haven't had time to organize my thought about any of them. Amongst these books are a couple of Adam Carolla books, a couple of Greg Bear's, a G.R.R. Martin, a couple of Tim Powers books, a J.K. Rowling (take a guess), and a couple of others. I also have more photos of Harry Potterville from the latest visit in October. There are actually a few things I haven't taken a million photos of already. Surprisingly, Universal didn't do anything extra for Halloween ( I went the week before) other than adding a few candy skulls and skeletons in Honeyduke's. Sad. But more about that later.
I know there are some other super-exciting things to mention, but I'm drawing a blank at the moment. So more later. Probably much later.