Go Back > Diversions > Book Corner

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 05 February 2018, 05:25 PM
Crius of CoH's Avatar
Crius of CoH Crius of CoH is offline
Join Date: 13 February 2006
Location: Paragon City (Cranston), RI
Posts: 1,684

I got a Kindle for Christmas, and I've had an Amazon Prime membership for a few years, so I've been reading a bunch of free books, mostly series, on the Kindle. And, for the most part, one can see why they aren't print books.... to be honest, some of these writers need a whole bunch of editing to make their stuff salable. And a couple of items turned out to be niche porn. So...

Stuff that is as good as or better than most print books I've read:

Expeditionary Force (series) by Craig Alanson. Humorous military SF told in first person by an Army grunt shanghaied, along with a bunch of other humans, into an alien race's space war. 4 novels and 1 novella to date. Pretty good stuff.

The Tome of Bill (series) by Rick Gualtieri. Humorous horror told in first person by a nerd/geek turned into a vampire, to whom the supernatural reality of the world is subsequently revealed. 8 novels and 3 novellas, plus one spin-off (I have not finished book 8 or read any of the novellas or the spin-off). I have no interest in vampire stuff, but a friend told me this would not trigger my revulsion; she was right. Also pretty good stuff.

Frontlines (series) by Marko Kloos. Serious military SF about a crapsack Earth and the unexpected attacks on human extrasolar colonies, told in first person by a kid who escapes the ghettoes of Earth by managing to qualify for military service. 6 novels (I have only read the first two, as a break from the Tome of Bill series; I will be returning to this when I finish ToB book 8). Not quite up to par with the above books, in terms of quality of writing and editing, but still very good.

The Divine Dungeon (series) by Dakota Krout. Somewhat humorous fantasy series, drawing very strongly from both pen-and-paper and computer RPG traditions, about how the dungeons from FRPGs are made, how they work if said FRPGs were "real". Told in both first and second person by the titular dungeon of the series, and by a main dungeon explorer - an "adventurer", if you will. The dungeon is the first person narrator. This one still places above the line for me, as it is well-written enough, and has a sufficiently interesting conceit, to overcome the editing issues and the inherent clumsiness of rationalizing FRPG tropes.

The Bobiverse (series) by Dennis E. Taylor. Humorous sort-of hard SF series about a guy who, through a short chain of unlikely but reasonable events, becomes a disembodied AI for a future crapsack America; it is no spoiler to reveal that he learns to create duplicates of himself and spends 3 novels trying to save the world (the first book is titled We Are Legion (We Are Bob)). Very good read.

Super Sales on Super Heroes (series) by William D. Arand. 2 books. I thought it was just superheroes fiction, but... it turns out it's sort-of "harem porn", as well. It is a superheroes series, told in the first person by a guy with an apparently near-useless super power, who discovers how to properly apply it and suddenly becomes a major super-person. Neither a true hero nor a villain, he tries to do right to those close to him, but constantly skirts a lot of moral grey and black issues to do so. This series is very fannish, with lots of obvious borrowings from anime as well as superhero tropes. The main character's power conveniently manifests to him as a kind of computer screen only he can see, but which makes the brass tacks of it's operation easy for the reader to follow. On the plus side, for me at least, it's a fairly decent superheroes story, the core conceit is interesting if a bit clumsily executed, and the "harem porn" aspect isn't terribly apparent and there is no actual porn - the one sex scene is only alluded to. On the minus side, it needs editing, and Mr. Arand's writing skills could use some tightening up.

Now we drop below the line:

Tamer (series) by Michael-Scott Earle. SF harem fantasy. Neither know nor care how many books in the series, at least 2. Read the first book, about a guy who gets kidnapped by aliens and transported to a planet of dinosaurs; turns out the aliens are doing this all across the galaxy and people from all kinds of humanoid races are being dropped there as well, to survive or die as they will. Everyone has a skill; the hero can tame dinosaurs. Skills level up! Started off OK, but when all the other male characters died and the sex-fantasy female harem was quickly introduced, I was done. The writing was not great and it needed plenty of editing. For me, only the introductory conceit was worth the while... OK, I am also a fan of dinosaurs, but they weren't enough to salvage this for me.

Montague & Strong Case Files (series) by Orlando Sanchez. 6 books, I think. Urban fantasy series about a hardboiled detective who is also supernatural in some way, with a partner who might be a vampire, I think. I can't remember. Only read the first book. Quick read, because it was basically the skeleton of a decent urban fantasy novel, without any of the flesh, and painted with a thin coating of Mary Sue. A friend recommended this to me as the best thing since sliced bread, so I guess YMMV, because I cannot muster up the energy to swipe the screen of my Kindle to check on the facts, let alone try and read book 2. Maybe it gets better, but I probably will never know.
Reply With Quote
Old 07 February 2018, 10:28 AM
Gutter Monkey's Avatar
Gutter Monkey Gutter Monkey is offline
Join Date: 13 December 2010
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 3,745

I've been slowly making my way through all the Dresden Files books again and mostly loving them but the protagonist's sense of "old fashioned chivalry" is really annoying. It's presented as a quirk or even a foible and the female characters regularly point out that he's a misogynist ass so it's not really presented as a positive character trait BUT on the other hand he never ever improves or even tries to improve. Add that to the fact that I just found out that one of the Dresden Files books was pushed by the Sad Puppies to win a Hugo award when they were trying to rig the votes, so even if it's not an out-and-out flagwaving misogynist series there's a whole bunch of right wing anti-SJW trolls who love it.

That's not a reason for me to dislike the books (I outright loved them when I first read them years ago) but it's definitely leaving a sour taste in my mouth.
Reply With Quote
Old 21 February 2018, 11:40 PM
E. Q. Taft's Avatar
E. Q. Taft E. Q. Taft is offline
Join Date: 30 July 2003
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 13,770

Hmm. I'm re-reading the Dresden books at the moment, too, and I don't really see it as misogyny, except perhaps in that he makes some inappropriate jokes from time to time. He admits (insists, really) that it bothers him more to see women hurt than men, and while that's sexist, I'm guessing it's a trait he shares with a large proportion of men and some women. On the other hand, it's pretty clear that he has a lot of respect for the women he works with, and sometimes the ones he works against, too.

I will admit there is an improbable number of extremely attractive women in the books (even allowing for the fact that some of them are faeries, vampires, etc.), and that Dresden invariably has to describe and comment upon them, and that does occasionally bother me a bit.

Anyway. Not what I came here to say.

I'm currently reading a book called Missions Accomplished, which is a collection of short anecdotes (mostly) about travelling, complied by someone who has done a lot of it. Not the sort of book I would have picked up ordinarily, but it happens to have been written by the guy who was my best friend through junior high, high school, and into college, Tim Jenkins. I knew he traveled a lot, but I didn't really know it was this much. (Probably what caused us to drift apart, more than anything else, was that he's as hardworking and ambitious as I am not.) I'm about two-thirds of the way through. I knew a few of the stories before, and know some of the other people involved in many of them, but most are new to me.

To be completely honest: not sure I'd recommend it to just anyone. It's reasonably decent light reading, but the stories are generally not all that interesting or humorous. I also think the book would have been better written as more of a narrative, rather than as a bunch of 4-page brief episodes; the stories could have been linked by destinations, travel companions, or general theme. Instead, they are mostly in no particular order. (There is a general trend from oldest to newest, but many diversions on the way.) On the other hand, that could make it a great book for bathroom reading.

Tim tells me he's working on a sequel, and I'll be in that one. We did take a trip or two together, but not to anywhere so exotic.

Anyway, if interested, the book is available on Amazon, and an e-book version is due out shortly.
Reply With Quote
Old 22 February 2018, 02:35 AM
Crius of CoH's Avatar
Crius of CoH Crius of CoH is offline
Join Date: 13 February 2006
Location: Paragon City (Cranston), RI
Posts: 1,684

I finished the Tome of Bill and the Frontlines series on my Kindle, and both were very good. There may be future volumes of either series, but as of now, I am all caught up.

I spent some time trying to find a decent free superhero novel, and kept coming up with stuff that seems to be poorly-written YA intended for the slower set of younger YA readers... but I'm pretty sure it's meant to be adult-level stuff. A large handful of disappointment was perused, but then I found Jonathan R. Miller's Gravity Breaker, which was spectacular. Mr. Miller apparently writes books with race and social position as major themes, writes very very human characters, and is also pretty good at the super-power genre. Gravity Breaker, and it's sequel Tallah, were very good reads and well worth the time. Anyone who is interested in reading stories about black people in modern America will likely enjoy these books as well. I don't think it would be wrong to use words like "powerful" and "moving" to describe either volume.
Reply With Quote
Old 22 February 2018, 05:09 AM
Aud 1 Aud 1 is offline
Join Date: 05 October 2005
Location: Missouri
Posts: 7,145

I just listened to Binti by Nnedi Okorafor and started in on the sequel Home. Loved it. I'm so intrigued by a character who is so immersed in mathematics that she uses it to meditate. I loved how the her skin care was part of the story.
Reply With Quote
Old 22 February 2018, 01:30 PM
Hans Off's Avatar
Hans Off Hans Off is offline
Join Date: 14 May 2004
Location: West Sussex, UK
Posts: 4,366

I’ve just finished “From a Certain Point of View” a collection of short stories set in the Star Wars universe all set during the events of A New Hope.

It’s a great fun read from a wide variety of authors. One of the most endearing ones was the tale told from the point of view of a Mouse Droid on the Death Star that is being used as a carrier for a budding romance between two imperials serving!

If you like Star Wars and short stories then this needs to be in your library!

It has also fuelled my desire to write more short story fiction and has given me a few ideas of my own!
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Reading is hard! snopes We've Got Mail 248 18 January 2016 02:23 PM
Man Driving 75 mph While Reading Novel nonnieyrissa Fauxtography 39 20 February 2011 06:45 PM
What? I'm hard of reading! snopes We've Got Mail 4 10 August 2007 05:48 PM

All times are GMT. The time now is 11:29 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.