Tag Archives: hardcover books

More Mini-reviews…

Finished up three books last week.  Two were ebooks by Edward W. Robertson, who writes the BREAKERS series.  The first was BLACKOUT, the final book of the eight-book BREAKERS series.  If you're not familiar with the Breakers world, it is a post-apocalyptic tale where two things happen to end civilization as we know it:  a viral disease that claims around 99% of all people (like in King's THE STAND, which Robertson admits to using as his inspiration in this series) and then an alien invasion.  Turns out, the aliens, huge crab-like beings, sent the viral plague to Earth, and they figured they'd wipe out all of humanity with it, but when they come to claim the empty planet, they find plenty of humans willing to fight them and their advanced technology.  BLACKOUT, as the final book, occurs as people are trying to rebuild some sort of civilization and society, only to discover that a second "mother ship' of alien "Swimmers" has arrived. I found it to be a satisfying conclusion to the series and one that followed logically from everything that happened before.  The people who I've gotten to know over seven books all seem consistent with the character that they've exhibited throughout the saga.  The aliens became a bit more knowable, and it set up another series in the same universe, but set many years in the future.  The other series is called the REBEL STARS series, and the first book of this saga, titled REBEL, is the other ebook I read. I grabbed REBEL as part of a promotional "box set" with ten "galactic tales", titled STARS AND EMPIRE.  (None of the other titles have really grabbed me much, so REBEL is the only one I've read, and it may continue to be the only one...)  So anyway, in REBEL, a crew of space asteroid miners is working on an asteroid when they make a discovery -- an ice-bound alien ship.  Seems that this is a Swimmer spaceship, and these humans are the descendants of those people who dealt with the Swimmers when they first attacked Earth.  As they excavate the vessel, they are attacked and everyone except for one is killed.  Their discovery, which they had tried to keep secret, is stolen...and when someone gives the survivor a chance to recover it and also to get revenge on the murderers of her crewmates, she jumps at it. It was a solid SF tale that made me want to read further in the series.  I think Edward W. Robertson is an excellent storyteller, and even if one didn't care for post-apocalyptic tales, this REBEL STARS entry can be enjoyed as a straightforward SF novel.  (As an aside, I read another book by Robertson called THE ROAR OF THE SPHERES . which also dealt with colonization of our solar system, though that one was more focused on AI's. The book has been renamed and re-edited, but I'm not sure what the new one is called.  (ETA:  The author informed me that the book is now called TITANS.)  It was also a very good SF book.) And, speaking of Stephen King, I tackled REVIVAL, which is his second newest (FINDERS KEEPERS is his newest at the moment) novel.  I hadn't heard great things about this novel, but I have to say I ended up enjoying it quite a bit. It's a bit of a slow starter.  When our hero, Jamie Morton, meets his "fifth business", pastor Charles Jacobs, he's only six.  And there's a lot of backstory that King gives us in his usual colloquial style, about Reverend Jacobs' fascination with electricity (the "secret" electricity, he calls it) and then the death of his lovely wife and young child and his subsequent loss of faith.  And of course, there's Jamie's backstory, his youth, his high school years, his discovery of the guitar and of rock and roll music, the love of his young life, Astrid, and his subsequent loss of his own faith and his separation from Astrid as they graduate from high school. Jump forward a bunch of years and Jamie is a lifer in the music industry, being good enough to play professionally but not really quite good enough to be a star or in an A-list band.  He's tooling around playing gigs at small venues, roadhouses and state fairs, and he's doing a lot of drugs.  Mainlining heroin, in fact.  He's reached bottom when he encounters Reverend Jacobs at the Oklahoma State Fair, where the former religious man is using his electrical inventions to take people's photographs and do something ... interesting ... with them.  He takes Jamie in and uses his electricity to cure Jamie of his addictions.  He also hooks Jamie up with a job in Colorado, as a studio musician and recording engineer.  Jamie owes him big-time. A third encounter with Pastor Danny (as Jacobs is now calling himself) occurs, as he and his boss (who also owes Jacobs) go to a tent-revival where he is performing genuine healings using the electricity, although he covers it in religious jargon and is clearly making a lot of coin doing so. King masterfully weaves everything together at the end, and I didn't care how implausible it was by then, because I just wanted to know how Jamie ended up.  I was satisfied with the conclusion; like Robertson's Breakers series I described above, it seemed fair and logical with what happened in the book up until then.  King tends to be a bit wordy, but I like the way he uses language to bring characters and setting to life, and allows one to glimpse the inner workings of his characters' brains.  The ending was about what I expected once I got past the steampunk vibe the book was putting out (with electricity being the main focus), but the journey, for me, was worth it, as it usually is with King's books. I'm onto Hugh Howey's THE HURRICANE and King's FINDERS KEEPERS (ebook and hardcover), and will probably post something on both of them when I finish them. ***** Update on THE INN:  I decided that I'd better not use the cover image I was going to use because I'm not sure about the rights and permissions of it, so that is what's holding up the release at this moment.  I made a different cover, but I'm not sure about it either.  So...I'll post something when I finalize the new cover. *****

Mount TBR

The to-be-read pile:  It's something that every avid reader I know has.  There are all sorts of landscapes to be found on the slopes of this mountain for avid readers.  My own contains plenty of mystery, science fiction, horror and thrillers, but also contains books on sports, on music, on wine, on history...I don't even know what's in it anymore.  Only the parts I can see, which are heavy on Deaver, Connelly, Child, King, Grafton and Evanovich.   I don't have a clue how many books are in the pile anymore.  The only thing I know for sure is that it got a whole lot bigger when I got my Kindle Fire, and while I'm pretty sure most of the content is genre fiction, I haven't a clue how many unread books there are on that device either. Before I got married in '98, I lived a bachelor's life.  I had a small house with three small bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen, and one bedroom was my "music studio" with my keyboards and guitars and an old Tascam Portastudio that recorded four tracks on a cassette.  Another was my library and writing room, where my bookshelves contained my nicer hardcovers and double rows of paperback books.  Then there was my bedroom.  I wish I had a picture of the mess that it was.  For a booklover, the mess was sort of beautiful.  There were books everywhere.  Stacks lined the far walls of the room to a height of about half the distance between the windows and the floor.  At least three feet of books (the windows were small and set high), with the columns of the paperbacks lining the walls.  I don't know how many there were.  I know that I never got to most of them, and I still have most of them, boxed, in my basement (though a few made the trip to the attic at my office). Now my TBR stacks are confined to shelves in the basement, in my bedroom, and in our home office.  I don't know the count, but I'd guess thirty in the bedroom, thirty in the office, and another million or so in the basement.  Oh, and then there are the ones next to my bed, in the drawers of my nightstand where they are out of sight if not out of mind.  And three or four sitting on top of the nightstand, still IN sight, and still IN mind.  Oh, and I forgot the stack that's here at my dental office.  Probably less than twenty here. The Kindle has made it easy for me to pile books on Mount TBR, because the guilt about the sheer number of books is easier to deal with.  Also the cost is significantly less.  There are only a couple of authors I buy when they release a new book (King and Coben, though F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack series was on that list until it was finished).  The rest either get bought off the bargain bins, or when I have a coupon to supplement my 10% B&N discount.  I still have quite the physical Mount TBR, but the virtual mountain is growing by leaps and bounds. *****

Yes, I like physical books!

I guess I'm one of those few remaining readers who actually like to have a physical copy of a book.  So now I'm gonna get all mystical on you and give you a couple of reasons why I like them.  And maybe a couple of things that people mention that they like about them that I don't really care about. First, I don't care about the smell.  Book paper does, somehow, have a different odor than, say, a ream of copy paper from Office Max, but I have never grabbed a book and just held it to my nose and basked in the glory of the scent of the book.  Nope, smell doesn't do it for me. Second, I don't care about taking notes in the margins.  Of course, I can do that easily on my Kindle.  But I was never one to take a pencil or pen to a book.  A lot of my books look as good after I read them as they did when I first brought them home from the hospital...er, ah, the bookstore.  (Sorry, got books and babies confused for a second there.) Now what I do like about them.  I like the way they look on the shelf.  I have a room in the basement, and I have far more books than I have shelf space.  But the shelving I have...well, I really like the way that all of the Stephen King books look when I line them up.  I like the way my Kellerman books look.  My Asimovs and Cards and my Evanovichs and my Connellys and Wilsons and Cobens and Crais's and Whites and Graftons and Clancys and Deavers and...well, you get the picture.  They're colorful and they just look elegant, to me at least. I also like browsing in that room for books.  There's something about being surrounded by books that gives me a warm feeling.  (Some readers probably know the feeling; it is the same feeling you get at the bookstore or the library...except with prettier books (no clear plastic dustcovers) and all books that I love or have loved at some point in my life.)   Even searching through a box of paperbacks brings back memories as I come across forgotten books that I had a passionate fling with...oops, now I'm getting books mixed up with girlfriends... I also like that I can resell them, easily lend them, donate them, and otherwise share them more easily (sometimes, the exception being sharing with my kids) than I can with an ebook.  I feel like I have an asset.  Like my 1969-1973 baseball cards, they don't cost me anything sitting there, and they could return at least a few pennies.  I consider the dollars spent to be money I spent on the story.  Having the physical book is pure value in my view. I like ebooks, too.  I publish ebooks.  I buy a lot of authors' ebooks, especially independent authors.  I certainly spend more on them today than I do on physical books, in part because they're so easy to read and obtain and in part because I don't have any more space for physical books (my kids are contributing to the p-book collection now, so even though we don't have room, we continue to build the collection).  I love the fact that I can cart my Kindle to a park or a restaurant (yes, when I get out of the office for lunch once a week, I take the Kindle and part of the attraction of going out is that I get an hour to read in peace).  I love the fact that I can store hundreds of books on that device, and pick and choose what I feel like reading. For example, I just finished two books by author Sean Hayden (one was a collection of short fiction with Jen Wylie, the other was a short novella called LADY DORN), and didn't know what to read before starting Bobby Adair's fifth SLOW BURN book, and I decided to read something that was on my Kindle for a long time.  I found a book by Jon Jacks called WYRD GIRL, and it was a wyrd (weird) story that I didn't love but I didn't hate either.  It was a quick read and I was glad to clear it from the queue.  With a physical book, I probably wouldn't have done that. But I still love physical books.  I like the way they look.  I like the feeling of them when I'm reading.  Even so, I have enough of them to last me many years.  Ebooks are about the story, and while p-books are about more than that (at least for me), the story is what I really love. *****