2023 Reading Diary Part 2!


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Book 26: The Space Between Worlds (2020) by Micaiah Johnson is another more recent SF novel I’ve heard good things about. Admittedly, I was’t too into it, but that changed after the first few chapters.  Admittedly (again), I took a break from it to read Skin Game, the 15th novel in The Dreseden Files, but now that a new month has begun, I want to finish this as soon as work and life etc. allow. I passed the half mark on the evening of April 10. My reading has slowed to a crawl as I didn’t initially get into the story and I’ve been much busier than expected to be. My reading did pick up today, so if that continues, I’ll aim to finish by the weekend. And I finished it on Thursday about 20 minutes before my 7 PM class. I enjoyed it more once I could find time to devote to reading instead of a few pages every few days, which was about my progress for the first 40%. I think sooner or later, I’ll reread the first few chapters. (Read between March 24 & April 13)

Book 22: Brief Cases (2018) by Jim Butcher is the third collection of Dresden Files short stories and novellas. I started it on March 13, but couldn’t finish it then as some of the stories followed novels I hadn’t yet read. That’s now rectified, and I’ll finish the remaining few stories tomorrow (Friday, April 14) or the day after. Mission complete, and the novellas and short stories are some of my favorite Dresden Files stories. I prefer them to the novels due to their clearer and simpler stories and the exploration of other characters. The novels are told from Harry Dresden’s perspective, while some of the novellas and short stories are told from the perspectives of his family, companions, friends, acquaintances, and frenemies. It’s not necessary to read them to follow the plots of the novels, but you’re missing a lot of side adventures and insights into other characters if you skip them. So I’ve almost up to date on the series. There are two published novels remaining and one novella set bewteen them. I think I’ll pencil them in for later this year. And then the wait will begin for the next books in the series. (Read between March 13 & April 14)

Book 28: Paradise-1 (2023) by David Wellington wasn’t on my TBR (To Be Read list), but a review of the book really piqued my interest, and I enjoyed David’s previous book, The Last Astronaut (2019). I’m almost a third of the way through it as I type this just before my first class on Monday, April 17, and I’m hooked. This is the kind of book I finish quickly no matter how busy I am. Fast paced, short chapters, and a mysterious alien menace. I’m in love! (Read between April 14 & 21)

Book 29: For the First Time, Again (2023) by Sylvain Neuvel is the final book in his Take Them to the Stars trilogy, and like the previous two books in the series, I devoured this one quickly. Far too quickly given how much grading I have to do. I don’t think the last book is my favorite of the series, but it was nice to again return to this story as it is certainly one of those books/series that has its own flavor. I’ll read Sylvain’s other books in the not-too-distant future. (Read between April 21 & 22) 

Book 30: Feet of Clay (1996) is next. I started it earlier in the year, but I just didn’t feel in the mood for a Discworld book, as loveable and fun and funny as they are. Now the time feels right. Feet of Clay is the 19th Discworld novel, and the third in the City Watch sub series. It will be slow going as the week ahead will be a crazy one, but while slow and steady won’t win me any races, it’ll get me to the finish line eventually. I passed the half-way point on the afternoon of Friday, May 5. Slow going due to this busy semester, but I should be able to finish within a week. I finally finished in on May 10 in between my freshmen and evening classes. I have absolutely no idea what to read next. (Read between April 23 & May 10) 

Book 31: City Of Last Chances (2022) by Adrian Tchaikovsky was eventually selected as my next book, as I make a small dent in to number of Adrian’s books I’ve yet to read. A sequel has been announced, but I forgot that when I started, so that’s one more unfinished series to add to my list. I think I might devote my summer to finishing or making as much progress as possible on the series I’ve begun, of course for some, the next books have not been written yet. May 25 Update: I’ve perhaps read a total of five pages in the past week. I might as well consider this a break from reading as perhaps my busiest semester in a while (I say that every semester) winds to close. Wow, I spent a month in that world, and that really was because work got in the way – that was a very crazy month. I loved the prose, but I lost track of a few characters since the progress was so slow. This could be a book I read again one day, perhaps before the eventual sequel is released.  What’s next? Well it’s been science fiction and fantasy all year so far, so it’s time for some non-fiction and some fiction that isn’t SF or fantasy. A palate cleanse is what I most need. (Read between May 10 & June 7) 

Book 32: The Possibility of Life (2023) by Jaime Green is for a few pages at least not the huge departure from science fiction I had planned as she explores our imaginings of aliens, but the rest is non-fiction/history/science writing at its best and most interesting. Just the book I think to get me reading quickly again as the semester is really now almost over save for some presentations (ok – a lot of presentations) and the grading of them. That was interesting, but she did go a little too deeply into the plots of various science fiction books that depict alien life in varied and various forms, some I’ve read and some I have yet to read. I don’t know how spoilery those descriptions were, but I would have much rather learned all that from the books themselves. Alas, perhaps fictional speculations do have a place in a work about the possibilities of life, but the aliens could have been described without plot developments and without identifying specific books except in the recommended readling list/bibliography. Perhaps I’m being too whiney as the books I have read that were mentioned, I can’t really say that contained significant spoilers. Regardless, that was quite a fascinating romp through life on earth and the possibilities of life elsewhere. (Read between June 8 & 10 )

Book 33: The Associate (2009) by John Grishman. While I’d like to one day read all of his books, that is a very long-term goal, and he’s still writing a book a year. The next step in the journey is a book I just choose at random from the list of about 27 book he’s written that I’ve yet to read. (Read between June 11 & 13)

Book 34:The God Equation: The Quest for a Theory of Everything (2021) by Michio Kaku A quick little summary of the developments over the centuries of our understandings of phyics and the universe we inhabit. Nothing really new here for me as I’ve read quite a few physics books aimed at a general audience,  but it was nonetheless fascinating and offers just a glimpse inside the minds of geniuses and very intelligent people.  (Read between June 10 & 19)

Book 35: Matter (2008) by Iain M. Banks Two non-fictions and a John Grisham were enough to give me a taste for science fiction again, and I turned to the next and eighth book set in Iain Banks’ Culture universe. And I think that is one of my favorites of the series. I have just two more to go – the final book in particular sounds interesting – perhaps I’ll read that next as the books don’t need to be read in order. (Read between June 18 & July 4)

Book 36: The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook For Surviving Medieval England(2023) by Brandon Sanderson was next as the lengthy title sounds like a light and fun read.  And it was indeed that. That’s one step closer to me tackling his enormous Stormlight Archive series. (Read between July 4 & 9)

Book 37: Saturn (2003) by Ben Bova was next. It wasn’t on my short-term TBR list, but while scrolling through books I’d like to read eventually, I realized it had been a while since I last read a book by the late Ben Bova. I was first tempted to read Titan (2006), but then learned that it follows directly on from the book named after its planet. I’m not loving it, but I’m not absolutely hating it. I think I’ll read some of his short stories as well soon to renew my faith in him. I have to admit that last half was enjoyable, and since I’m done with both work and moving, I finished the second half in a little over a day.  (Read between July 9 & 21)

July 21, 12:30 PM: Now my summer vacation has officually begun! Let the reading of many books in pretty quick time recommence! But at the time of writing, I have yet to decide which lucky book will kick off my summer reading.

Book 38: Peace Talks (2020) by Jim Butcher was next and thus the first official summer 2023 read. Congratulations Jim! Peace Talks is the 16th book in his Dresden Files series. I felt it was both time to revisit the adventures and misadventures of Harry Dresden as well as take a step closer to getting up to date with this ongoing series. I finished it at the amazing Changi Airport at about 1:30 am. Great set-up for Battleground,  the next and most recent novel.  (Read between July 21 & 27)

Book 39: Battle Ground (2020) by Jim Butcher was next. I didn’t initially plan to read it next, but I couldn’t resist looking at the first chapter after the climactic events of Peace Talks, and I just kept going. Well, Battle Ground was certainly an apt title, and I think this and Peace Talks are among my favorites of the series so far. I’ve often heard people say the series gets better, and they are correct.  (Read between July 27 & 31)

Book 40: Witches Abroad (1991) by Terry Pratchett was next as I returned to his Doscworld world. It was slow going as I didn’t read much while home, but I finished the second half in two days, finishing it on a plane at 2 AM as we approached Singapore. A wonderful entertaining, thoughtful, and hilarious read. (Read between July 31 & August 11)

Book 41: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August (2014) by Claire North was next as I’ve heard good things about it, and I recently enjoyed  Replay by which has a similair premise: the reliving of lives with memories intact. The two books are totally different and The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August was simply mindblowing. I think it will remain the most memorable book I read in 2023. Once again, I enjoyed the atmosphere, prose, and imagination of an author for the first time. This was the kind of book that reminds me – if I ever need reminding – of the sheer pleasure of reading. Here’s hoping to one day be able to read about his next fifteen lives. (Read between August 11 & 17)

Book 42: Sparring Partners (2022) by John Grisham was next; I was attracted by the fact the book is a collection of three novellas. I read the first in a day, and as expected and hoped for, it was a captivating effortless read. As were the remaining two, which I finished quickly while on my one-night islang gettaway. (Read between August 17 & 18)

Book 43: Temple (1999) by Matthew Reilly was next. It’s one of his earlier novels, and one I’ve yet to read. It wasn’t on my immediate reading list, but on a whim, I decided to start it, and as expected it’s a rollicking wild ride which I finished by my hotel pool on my last full day here. That was definately Mission Impossible on steroids and much more impossible. I know the author loves writing those crazy action scenes! And what struck me was in inclusion of some aussie slang “dead to rights” was one example. I’ll eventually read his other books and I’ll keep an eye on his developing directing career. (Read between August 18 & 21)

Book 44: The Law (2022) by Jim Butcher, a Dresden Files novella, was next and as far as I know – except for a couple of short stories, I am now up to date with the series. And once again, I feel that the novellas are among my favorite of Jim Butcher’s stories about Wizard Harry Dresden.  (Read between August  21 & 22)

Book 45: Forest of Memory (2016) by Mary Kowell  was next as I decided on another novella to start before my hotel checkout and finish on the flight back to Korea, and this marks the end of my month away from hot and humid Korea. (Read August 22)

Book 46: An Echo Of Things To Come (2017) by Australian James Islington, the second in his Licanius trilogy, was next as part of my goal to reduce the number series I’ve yet to complete. I struggled a little early on as I had forgotten details about most of the secondary characters, but as I progressed, I learned and remembered more about them – and the character glossary at the back of the book helped, but it could have provided more details. Once I was caught up on those secondary characters, the story really started to grip me. I finished it on the last day of the summer vacation. Should I continue on to the last book immediately? Yes! (Read between August 22 & 31)

Book 47: The Light Of All That Falls (2019) by James Islington was next as I decided to continue with and finish his Licanius trilogy. I had heard the trilogy has a great ending, and I have to admit I did enjoy it. I predicted one part of the ending well before hand, but that didn’t stop me enjoying that scene. Another reveal at the end took me by surprise, and that was a pleasant surprise indeed. I certainly haven’t read my last James Islington book, and I could well reread some or all of the trilogy at some time in the future. (Read between August 31 & September 7)

Book 48: Holly (2023) by Stephen King. Picking up a new Stephen King book is like a reunion with an old friend. There’s just something about his prose and imagination that gives me enormous pleasure. Sure, I’ve enjoyed some more than others, but the words on every page are as identifiable as his face and and voice. And like King, I’ve also come to enjoy the character of Holly who first appeared in the first book of his Mr Mercedes trilogy and has made a couple of appearances since then. I finished the last 40% in a day, and I really couldn’t put it down once the climax was in site. I wish there were more Stephen King books to read. (Read between September 7 & 12)

Book 49: Severance (2018) by Ling Ma was next as I felt it was time again to experience an author for the first time. It’s a book that begins with a worldwide pandemic that happened to be published a couple of years before a worldwide pandemic. A wonderful and touching take on modern society, and she sure wasn’t wrong about some things pandemics. Almost like she travelled back in time from 2022 to publish her book in 2018.  (Read between September 13 & 15)

Book 50: Jingo (1997) Terry Pratchett was next as it felt like time to return to the world of DiscWorld. And after reading the first third, I think this may be my favorite DiscWorld book read to date. This being the eighth. (Read between September 15 & 22)

Book 51: Raft (1991) by Stephen Baxteris the first in his Xeelee Sequence series. I read some interesting comments about it yesterday. It wasn’t what I was expecting – no mention of the Xeelee aliens, but it was an interesting and quick read. And I just learned that it was his first novel. Not a bad start at all. (Read between September 22 & 23)

Book 52: Timelike Infinity (1992) by Stephen Baxter, the second book in the Xeelee Sequence was next  as it had quite a start more inline with my expectations for the series. It was another really quick read, and I enjoyed it more than the quite bleak first book. I think that’s enough Xeelee Sequence for now – I really had no intention of starting a series without finishing some I’ve yet to complete, but that’s not a goal that’s set in stone. (Read between September 23 & 24)

Book 53: Upgrade (2022) by Blake Crouch  was next and I started it on a whim while scrolling through my Kindle on the bus to work. It wasn’t on my immediate TBR list, but I’ve enjoyed the other books I’ve read by him, and I knew I’d read this sooner or later, and sooner suddenly became now. And as expected, it’s very hard to put down! (Read between September 25 & 27)

Book 54: Traitors Gate (2023) by Jeffrey Archer was next, the sixth in his William Warwick series. After reading the previous three books quite quickly, I began at a slower pace and just passed the half-way point as the month of October began. Mr. Archer never disappoints and it’s such a nice feeling to be back in William Warwick’s world. Stay safe William! (Read between September 28 & …)