2023 Reading Diary Part 3!


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Book 54: Traitors Gate (2023) by Jeffrey Archer was next, the sixth in his William Warwick series. Archer is such a joy to read; his stories, pages, and sentences just flow so smoothly. It feels like not a single word is wasted and the words he does use are well chosen. Only one more book remaining in this series of seven, but Archer shows no sign of slowing down, so I look forward to – his health and mine notwithstanding – many more years of his stories. (Read between September 28 & October 2)

Book 55: And Put Childish Things (2023) by Adrian Tchaikovsky has a rather typical premise: reluctant hero whicked off to a magical land, but there are enough twists and turns and surprises that result in quite a delightful read with an unexected science fiction tinge.   (Read between October 2 & 3)

Book 56: Yumi & The Nightmare Painter (2023) by Brandon Sanderson is simialar in vein to the abive book. It is the third book among his “Secret Projects”, the self-piublication of which yeilded $41 million dollars from its Kickstarter. Well perhaps “self-published” is a bit of an understatement as he’s really an industry in human form. I read quite a few reviews of this book from disappointed readers, but I enjoyed the book. I don’t mind Sanderson in his lighter and whimsical mode. (Read between October 3 & 9)

Book 57: How High We Go in the Dark (2022) by Sequoia Nagamatsu was another quick read and this was special. A series of connected short stories based around a global pandemic and …. I can’t mention what else. Suffice to say this will be among my top ten books read this year. Perhaps high on the list. (Read between October 9 & 11)

Book 58: The Future of Another Timeline  (2019) by Annalee Newitz was another book I hadn’t planned to read in my immediate future, but the inclusion of that word “future” in the title intrigued me. It was hard to put down: think The Handmaid’s Tale meets time trave, and as noted in most of the reviews that caution against mysogeny and reductions of women’s rights in some US states makes this a timely and important book. (Read between October 11 & 13)

Book 59: The Way of Kings (2010 ) by Brandon Sanderson is the first in his magnum opus on-going series The Stormlight Archive. I kept putting off starting this due to the length of the books and the time it will take the quick-writing Sanderson to complete the ten book saga.. I had tentatively planned to start the series in 2024.  The previous Sanderson books I’ve read over the past few years were read as appetizers. This series ranks very high on many fantasty addicts lists of favorite series. And while the previous Sanderson books didn’t catapult him to the top of my favorite authors list as his books have for others, I enjoyed them enough to know I would eventually begin this series. After recently quickly reading quite a few shorter books and after eclipsing my usualy reading goal of 52 books a year, I felt it was time begin a mammoth book that begins a mammoth series – it will certainly be the longest series I’ve read to date when its completed. In fact, I read the short prelude over a year ago to give me the smallest of tastes. And on the first night of this journey, October 13, I reread that and then read the prologue, the first chapter, and a few pages of the second. I wasn’t entirely sure I would continue with it when I first picked it up – maybe I’d just reread the prelude and stop there for now, but those early chapters reeled me in, and now I’m committed. October 18 update: This book is amazing! I can’t put in down. It’s by far my favorite Sanderson book I’ve read to date. And I got through it much faster than I had anticipated. (Read between October 13 & 21)

Book 60: Words of Radiance (2014) by Brandon Sanderson because I decided to continue non-stop with his Stormlight Archive series. I saw that a few BookTubers consider this their favorite of the series to date, but having just passed the 60% mark on October 27, I have to say thatI enjoyed the first book more. That could change, but there seemed to be a bit of a lull in the middle. But I’ve heard the ending is great, and I’m slowly edging towards that. I did indeed enjoy the climax and the setup for the next book. There was just a lot of banter between a couple of characters that I found a little cringeworthy; a small gripe considering the size and scope of the series. (Read between October 21 & 31)

Book 61: The Secret (2023) by Lee Child and Andrew Child is the 28th Jack Reacher novel. Unfortunatley is I think sadly the right word: Unfortunately, Lee Child, the sole author of the first 24 enormously successful novels as well as some short stories and novellas, gradually started handing off writing duties to his brother Andrew from the 25th book, The Sentinal  (2020), and The Secret is the last of that Lee will be involved with. Although there were a couple of the earlier books I enjoyed far less than the others, the books co-written by Andrew marked a real decline. I especially disliked last year’s No Plan B. I was about ready to give up on the series as I’m more of a fan of authors than characters, but to my surprise, I enjoyed The Secret more than the other books Andrew had a hand in. There were a few things that didin’t gel with me, but overall I enjoyed it enough to continue with next year’s book. (Read between October 31 & November 2)

Book 62: Edgedancer (2016) I returned to Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive with Edgedancer, a novella set between the second and third novels.I enjkoyed it. It fleshed out a character introduced in the second book who as mentioned in the postscript as Sanderson’s favorite character. I enjoyed the novella, but I’ll say goodbye to the world of Roshar for a while and perhaps save the third book, Oathbringer, until early next year.  (Read between November 2 & 4)

Book 63: The Effort (2021) by Claire Holroyde is about a huge effort to deflect an approaching apocalyptic comet. With just months to prepare, this was one hell of a ride as we watch the Effort come together while socities crumble. Intense and touching, and I think quite unforgetable. Five stars – I mean five comets. (Read between November 4 & 9)

Book 64: The Exchange: After The Firm (2023) by John Grisham was next. I loved The Firm( 1991)- the book, the film, and the film’s score, so I was excited to read about this follow-up novel. And it was a big disappointrment. If I were to make a list of my least favorite books I’ve read this year, The Exchange would be on it. A lot of the action revolved around multiple phone calls, airplane trips, and meals. And a major mystery was left unsolved, and the solving of that mystery would have more strongly connected this book with The Firm. (Read between November 9 & 13)

Book 65: Beacon 23 (2015) by Hugh Howey was next after I caught a trailer for the TV adaption. Howey’s most famous series, Silo, was also adapted recently. I’ve been meaning to read that, but decided to try Beacon 23 first. I loved it. It was funny, touching, and thought-provoking, and it was another quick read. The trailer I saw didn’t actually resemble the book very much, but I’ll check it out one day. The book was the priority for ,e. Much more reading than watcing these days. (Read between November 13 & 15)

Book 66: Cobalt Blue (2022) by Matthew Reilly is apparently a novella as that is how the author described it in the afterword. Although I read it in less than 24 hours – starting it on the bus to work on Wednesday morning and finishing it in bed in the early hours of Thursday morning. (Read between November 15 & 16)

Book 67: Legends & Lattes (2022) by Travis Baldree came quite highly recommended. It’s promoted as high fantasy with low stakes – the establishment of a city’s first cafe! My reading has been quite slow, but not because of the book, which I’m enjoying more and more as I slowly get further into the story. After slow going for over a week, I finished that last 40% in one day. And that was a great little book. Who would have thought a cafe is a great setting for about 95% of a novel of high fantasy. And the low stakes weren’t that low.  What’s next? I have no idea, and it took me a couple of days to decide, a rare break from reading. (Read between November 16 & 27)

Book 68: Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us (2011) by Joe Palca & Flora Lichtman as it really was time to take a break from fiction. I’ve only read a few non-fiction books this year, and I think I’ll make reading more one of my reading goals for next year. That was really interesting – especially the sections about parts of the brain  and proteins the are involved in raising of lowering our felling of annoyance and anger levels as well as cultural factors that affect the same. (Read between November 30 & December 5)

Book 69: AI 2041: Ten Visions for our Future (2021) by Kai-fu Lee and Chen Qiufan was next. I had started it last year, well really just the first couple of pages, before putting it down for later. Later arrived on December 5, and I picked it up again. Well it was interesting, but I found some of the stories quite dry and a chore to read. I much prefered the non-fiction chapters that followed each of the ten stories that summarized the current state of AI technology and extrapolated possible  advances, uses, benefits, dangers, and impacts on society, etc. of such technoologies 20 years in the future. Having said thet stories didn’t exactly grip me, I’m glad I took that dive into the pool of AI and its future implications. I spent almost two weeks reading this, but that wasn’t solely the fault of the book as in those two weeks I successfully wrapped up another semester of teaching. Alas, I’m not really having a winter vacation, and my next classes start in a few days. I should have time to read at least two more books before 2023 ends, as long as they are not too long. I’ll decide the next book before sleep takes over my brain later tonight. (Read between December 5 & 19)

Book 70: The Fifth Elephant (1999) by Terry Pratchett was next as I continue with the City Watch sub-series amongst the Discworld books. Again, it took me a while to get to the halfway point – due to being busy with work, and I guess also just a less of a desire to read in general after another 70-book year, but the combination of hitting the halfway point, the story really picking up, and more free time over the last weekend of the year, and I blew through the last half in a couple of days. And perhaps that’s one of my favorite City Watch books to date. I was even tempted to continue with the next one, but decided to make more Stormlight Archive progress instead. (Read between December 19 & 30)

Book 71: Oathbringer (2017) by Brandon Sanderson, the third major novel in the Stormlight Archive saga, was next as mentioned above, and I read the prelude and first seven chapters before the year of 2023 came to an end. I was hooked again from page one, and that was a pleasant surprise that wasn’t really a surprise. (Read between December 30 & …..)