October Reading Log

Starship Troopers – Robert A Heinlein

I’ve wanted to read Starship Troopers for a while. When the movie came out in 1997, I wasn’t interested in seeing it because I kept hearing it described as “Starship Bloopers.” In fact, when it was on television about 8 years later, it took 2 people to convince me what I was watching was not a parody, but the actual movie.

So I recently knuckled down and got the audiobook. What I found was an enjoyable listen, and not all that like the movie. I will say though, I agree with the people who say the book has aged okay, but not that well. In the book, Johnnie uses swell to describe things that are good, a lot. Also, the women don’t fight alongside the men, like they do in the movie, but instead only pilot ships.

The book, while different from the movie, was fun. It opens right before a drop, when Johnnie is getting ready to go down to a planet with the other Mobile Infantry. We get to see how they get out of the ship, and what they do when they get down there. The first fight isn’t killing bugs either.

The book reminds me of the movie Jarhead in a way. it’s Johnnie going through training to join the Mobile Infantry, and then him doing a few fights, and then he goes to officer school. There’s no “Johnnie joins up, has adventures, things culminate in a big freaking deal, and then the end!” Although, to be fair, there’s a climax in the novel, but it’s not as big of a deal as you’d think. Still, an enjoyable read.

Wool Omnibus – Hugh Howey
I picked up Wool because I knew it was a self-published work that had gotten big. I was curious. Wool is a short story, and I gobbled it right up. The end of Wool was completely unexpected, and I was hooked.

The Omnibus contains the first 5 stories in the Silo. I didn’t like the collection nearly as well as I liked Wool. The rest of the stories lacked the punch that first one had.

However, the world of the Silo, and everything that goes on in it, and involves it, is fascinating. It’s a complex world, full of surprises, and when the pieces of the puzzle fit together, it’s a satisfying feeling.

Independent Study – Joelle Charbonneau
I devoured The Testing. I couldn’t get enough, the book was fantastic and kept me wanting more.

So what happened with book 2? It’s not terrible, but it’s boring. So boring, in fact, that I extended out my library loan TWICE just to work up the energy to finish it. I don’t know how long you can check out a book for where you are, but we get 4 weeks. 4 WEEKS. I read The Testing in weeks 1 and 2, and then started Independent study. Then I ignored it. Then I extended out the loan. Then I read a little more. Then I ignored it. Then I renewed it for the second, and final time, and then I finally slogged through it.

Cia reminds me of Ayla, from The Clan of the Cave Bear. She figures everything out. She’s perfect, with few flaws. Everyone trusts her, and is interested in her, and wants to have her help. She does NO wrong.

She’s irritating. I want a character with flaws and problems. I want a character who is not always right. I want a character who doesn’t think she has the answer to everything. And I didn’t get that. And the problem is the plot of the book centers around Cia, so we’re stuck with her being perfect for the entire book.

I returned the third book to the library unread. I am afraid of how bad it could be.

Under The Blade – Matt Serafini

As a full disclaimer, I won this one in a Goodreads giveaway. I don’t usually enter giveaways for thrillers, I try to avoid them. But the premise was just too interesting.

The book begins in the middle of the attack on Camp Forest Grove, when Melanie is a teen. We go through the terrifying ordeal with her, and then come to modern day, where a grown Melanie is still screwed up from what happened. To show you how screwed up, someone attempts to break into her house, and not only does she call the police, but she calls her security company and get more locks put on.

Against her better judgement, Melanie signs a publishing contract to write a book about what happened at Camp Forest Grove. That also requires her to go back to Forest Grove to refresh her memories. And Forest Grove is, well, it’s a mess.

No one’s allowed to do anything fun in Forest Grove. No school dances, no playing your music too loud, no letting teenagers sneak off to do teenager things. And in addition to no fun, no one’s happy to see Melanie show up. They want to pretend the attack never happened, and it seems like someone in town will stop at nothing to get Melanie to go home.

Then things take a turn for the deadly, and Melanie finds out there’s more to Forest Grove than meets the eye, and the problems may spread wider than just the abandoned camp.

This book is fantastic, it really is. Melanie is a fully fleshed out character, and the plot is fascinating. I’m reminded a bit of Fallen, starring Denzel Washington. There’s a very similar bent to that movie and this book. The cause of the problems isn’t simple, and the way Serafini ties it into the the rest of the plot is well done. I couldn’t put the book down, I HAD to know what happened next.

The reason it’s not 5 star material? Two things, one small, one bigger. The smaller thing is that I noticed a few typos in the book. They were all wrong words, like peak instead of peek, or saying someone had “pick of the liter” instead of litter. In other words, things a word processor wouldn’t catch. They caught my attention and pulled me out of the book each time I saw them. There weren’t many, maybe 4, but it was enough.

The other problem I had was the cast. It’s a big, big cast, like a cast of hundreds. In addition to Melanie, there were several people at the university she taught at, plus the town of Forest Grove, all the people who worked on the case when Cyrus Hoyt attacked, another group I won’t mention (I wont’ spoil it), and it’s all too much. When you’re trying to keep straight the sheriff, his 2 or 3 deputies, the retired sheriff, and all the other law enforcement people, it gets to be too much. And that’s just the law enforcement people! I couldn’t keep everyone straight, and I had trouble getting invested in the characters. I didn’t see enough of them to like or hate them, or have a reaction if they were injured or killed.

All in all, this is an excellent book, and if you like thrillers, I highly suggest it.

 

Fragile Eternity – Melissa Marr
Now I remember why I stopped reading these books after this one. This one is boring. So, so, so boring.

Imagine characters you really like, because they’re interesting, have quirks, and other such fun things. Now, strip them of their quirks and personalities. Give a few characters some forced sexual attraction. Throw in a lack of communication. Now stir, and throw into a book.

Everything that made Seth interesting is gone. Donia and Niall are cruel, unexpectedly. Aislin has interest in Keenan, but only because “solstice is coming.” Keenan is whiny.

Also, the book is slow. Like over halfway through the book, the real plot shows up. Seth finally decides he’s going to act on what he wants. So he does. And then we get small amounts of that mixed in with everyone else angsting and hand wringing, and keeping secrets.

I have 2 more to get through to finish the series, and I’m dragging my feet. I don’t have faith they’ll get better.

 

Absence: Erotic Poetry – P J Bayliss
Full disclaimer: I won this through a Goodreads giveaway. The full title is Absence: Erotic Poetry – Extruded Through Lust, but I wanted to shorten it so it doesn’t over run a line.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got this. The book is nicely made, with quality paper, and a beautiful cover. Seriously, this should get extra style points, the paperback is all kinds of nice.

Apparently I am not one for erotic poetry. This could be due to a lot of things. It could be that I’m just not into erotic poetry. It could be because I’m in a relationship with a woman, so I have trouble relating to the poems being from the male perspective. Perhaps I’m just broken.

I just couldn’t get into the poems. They’re nice, and there’s some I liked, like the very first one. But for a number of them, there was something that just pulled me out of the poem. Maybe it was a word choice, or the meter of a line changed, but it would pull me out of the poem’s mood.

They’re not bad poems, I guess they’re just not for me.

 

How to Really Self-Publish Erotica – Dalia Daudelin
Full title is: How to Really Self-Publish Erotica: The Truth About Kinks, Covers, Advertising and More! Yeah, it’s a long one.

I keep looking into self publishing books, and this was no exception. Unlike a lot of the erotica writing how tos I’ve read, this one did not include a short story to analyze. Daudelin did reference some of her works, but not in such a way that you felt like you HAD to buy her books to see what was going on.

Unlike books that tell you what you should include, this one also has a detailed series of chapters on what to do once the words are written: editing, formatting, cover design, all that. Many books Iv’e read on publishing erotica either gloss over these parts, or specify they’re not that important (save a good cover) and move on.