Emily's 75 Books for 2009
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So, here goes:
1. The Curse of the Mistwraith by Janny Wurts - reread in preparation of Stormed Fortress.
2. The Ships of Merior by Janny Wurts
3. Warhost of Vastmark by Janny Wurts
4. Fugitive Prince by Janny Wurts
5. Grand Conspiracy by Janny Wurts
6. Peril's Gate by Janny Wurts
7. Traitor's Knot by Janny Wurts
8. Stormed Fortress by Janny Wurts - Excellant! Can't wait for Initiate's Trial.
9. The Ninja by Eric Van Lustbader - Not impressed. Too disjointed.
10. Temeraire by Naomi Novik - Good but somewhat linear plot.
11. Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik - Good
12. Black Powder War by Naomi Novik - Allright, but not as good as the previous two. Just an endless cross-continental flight.
Also very good. From Hornblower's POV.
18. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer - a nice, easy to read romance, but can't see what the hype is all about. Too much use of the words 'perfect' and 'flawless'.
disappeared from which list?
I see your thread in the 75 Book Challenge for 2009 Group.
19. Transformation by Carol Berg - A reread, but still excellant. I love the way the relationship between Seyonne and Alexander is portrayed. Did not like the sequels, though.
This book concluded the The Chronicles of Hawklan. It was action packed and filled with battles. One major flaw, however, was that the battles were a bit unrealistic with the good guys suffering almost no/very little casualties. The Final Battle to which the whole book had been building up to, was also over almost before you realized it had started.
Good, but the whole novel had a sad undertone due to the sword hanging over Lawrence's neck.
I really can recommend Forester. He makes life on a ship in the 1800's come alive.
Note that the Hornblower books as listed above are chronological with regards to Hornblower, not in the order in which Forester wrote them. He started with The Happy Return (the next Hornblower novel in my TBR pile) and later revisited Hornblower's earlier life.
You might also enjoy Naomi Novik's Temeraire novels (the first novel is called His Majesty's Dragon in the USA). It is historical fantasy, set during the Napoleonic wars, and explores what would happen if intelligent dragons, harnassed by men, also formed part of the armies. The main protagonist is Lawrence, a sea captain, who unexpectedly is faced with harnassing a dragon, Temeraire.
The Novik novels are on my get list. They sound very good.
If you enjoy the Forester books, you might also want to try the Alexander Kent books featuring Richard Bolitho. They are very similar, though set in the American Navy of the time.
Of course, I also have to put in a plug for the Patrick O'Brian books. I think they are the best of this particular style of book, period.
I'll keep Weber and Kent in mind as well.
(Oh, no!! Look how high my TBR pile is getting! So many books, so little time. . .).
Bit slow going at first, but very good. The way Cherryh portrayes the emotions of the characters and the development of Tristen is very good.
Very good. Loads of action making up for the lack in books two and three. Unfortunately the ending is a bit blunt with some issues left unresolved, especially vexing considering that the next installment in the series apparently takes place 16 years later and does not really feature Tristan.
After seeing many recommendations on LT, I decided to try it and was not disappointed. I loved the intrigue and the depth of feeling shared between the Gentleman Bastards.
One negative, though: the language was unnecessarily crude in places. It mostly did not add to the novel, but rather distracted from the story.
for the full collection. This version is sooooooooooo good.
35. The Happy Return by C. S. Forester - The first Hornblower novel written by Forester, and it shows. While the story is good, the script is stilted with lots of commentary by the author. It feels like a narrator is relating the story to you in retrospect, rather than having the reader immersed in the immediate action.
It was good, with an intricately buildt story, but the main character, Alucius, can't solve any of the problems without killing everyone involved. Also, to keep reading about his letters to his wife and, later, about her having to feed or change the baby on every second or third page starts to grate after a while and causes one to want to skip paragraphs.
A disappointment. A slow, rambling account that only picked up pace in the last 100 pages or so (out of +- 1300).
There was nothing wrong with the actual story. It was good with a lot of twists and surprises, especially towards the end. But, but, but:
a) Verbosity found a new meaning in this book. Some serious editing was lacking. There are pages and pages of endless, meaningless philosophising and musings about past event that add nothing to the story. Instead you have to plod through the dros, often skipping paragraphs until something of substance comes up. I had to force myself to continue reading when I reached the halfway mark. The book could easily have been half its length.
b) Erikson jumped between characters like a jack in the box. You barely figured out amid all the prose which character's POV you're now sharing, before he jumps to the next one.
c) In his previous books, Erikson often used the macabre and select obscenities for morbid humour and comic relief. This time, however, almost every scene contained murder, abuse, sex or some kind of depravity without the saving grace of being funny. Instead it felt gratuitous, as if Erikson has lost his touch. In previous books, a veil of lightheartedness covered the very serious underlying tone of the story. This time, it was a veil of despair/depravity.
I will definitely read the next book in the series, but this was by far the worst installment thus far.
Having read Ender's Game, I was curious about the story of Bean. In the Introduction, Card said he wanted to write an independent story about the same events, a story even someone who had not read Ender's Game would enjoy. He did not succeed.
I found Ender's Shadow to have very little story. It did not really have a theme of its own, but read more like a biography. The Battle School and Bugger War was almost like afterthoughts, with Card explaining very little about it, and I found that I had to rely a lot on my memories of Ender's Game (which I last read a very long time ago) in order to make sense of it.
Bean's character was also not very realistic or likeable. I found myself missing the kid I got to know in Ender's Game. The book was too cynical and negative for my tastes and I'm planning on rereading Ender's Game to reaffirm my initial impression of the characters and the story.
Not very good. Like a lot of second novels, this was more a bridge between the first and the third book. Logon and the Ghosts went south looking for Hawk, and Angel, after finding the Elves, help them look for the Loden. It had very little in it about Hawk, which was quite a disappointment as he was my favourite character from the first book, Armageddon's Children.
Edit to correct touchstone.
I found this book to be about average. Its a fantasy novel with an Oriental-like setting and the magical system is very mystical/spiritual. A lot of time is spent in the beginning introducing characters and building their histories and this made the going very slow. The story however picked up pace in the second half.
One possible reason why this book made so little impression on me was that almost all the characters (with the possible exception of Anji and Mai) was obsessed with sex. Lust was a topic Elliott returned to time and time again when one shared a characters thoughts. It detracted from the story to a large extent and made one wonder what Elliott was hoping to achieve with it. A little bit here and there serves a purpose, but really, not with almost every single character introduced . . .
The second last Hornblower book chronologically. Hornblower is sent to deal with mutineers threatening to hang their officers and defect to the French. It started very good. The first third of the novel was Hornblower at its best.
But from there it went downhill. Fast. It was as if Forester did not have anything further to write, but merely tried to build a superfluous story to relate the history of the war. Very disappointing.
Perhaps I am to old for it. Perhaps I should make allowences as it is a 'classic'. I don't know. But this book did absolutely nothing for me. It had so much potential, but did not deliver. One of my biggest problems with the book is that it is too unrealistic. There is just too many coincidences. Add to this Wolfe's tendency to throw in irrelevant philosophising and the character's penchant for dreaming, and it makes for a very boring read. Then also, Severian seems to fall in love (lust?) with every single woman he meets, sometimes literally within 24 hours of each other.
I tried to read the second book, Claw of the Conciliator, but threw it down in disgust about halfway through (and don't intend picking it up again). Wolfe stretched my willingness to suspend disbelief much too far and who wants to read whole chapters devoted to (irrelevant) fables that one character reads to the other from a book he carries around with him, or the whole script of a theatre performance that adds nothing to the story?
An enjoyable read. Not having read any of his Dresden books, I did not have any expectations going into the book that could cloud my judgement. I was touch by the sheer humanity and caring of the characters, even the 'enemies', and Tavi is a very likeable person.
I would have liked a bit more complexity and back story, though, and there was one or two cliché's that jarred (like the obstructive burocrat at Garison). Also some coincidences were forced (like Kord pitching up at the most inconvenient times and Fidelias knowing and having a hand in almost everything).
But the good far outweighed the bad and I would recommend it to any reader of the genre.
Good, but not as much as the first one. I would have prefered less of Amara and Bernard and more of Tavi and would have liked it if Butcher went into greater detail regarding Tavi's life at the Academy.
Initially, I thought that the part about the vord was a side story that detracted from the main story, but in the end the two tied nicely together and made for an interesting twist.
Just wished there weren't so many forced coincidences (more than with the first book).
This book was much better than the first two. It started a bit slow, but the battle scenes were excellant. I won't say too much, to prevent spoilers.
The forced coincidences that bothered me in the first two books were absent and overall it was an enjoyable read.
The only negative was regarding the realisation/relevation that Isana had at the end (more details omitted, again to prevent spoilers). It was a bit too convenient.
I am looking very forward to reading Captain's Fury.
Almost as good as Cursor's Fury. Fast paced and very enjoyable. It continues with the war with the Canim and the Kalara revolt. A lot of threads are tied in the end, but there is enough interest in the characters to make one look forward to the third book.
I gave this book four stars, but it almost lost half a star due to some lazy writing on Butcher's part in one instance. There was a scene where the odds of certain people surviving were non-existent, but not only did they survive, but they knew exactly where and when to conveniently show up, taking coincidence and/or precognition a bit too far.
A simplistic, easy to read story following the life of Dar as she is conscripted into a conqueror's army. Events flow quickly without the characters dwelling to much on events. The little introspection makes Dar's harsh circumstances bearable and prevents the story from feeling too dark.
The whole story is told as straightforward as Dar herself is and is refreshing compared with the intrigue-ridden coils of modern fantasy.
I would not call it great, but it is an enjoyable read nonetheless.
The tone and writing style of this book is very different from Night of Knives, much closer to Erikson's style. It is as if some extensive overwriting took place. The way in which it was structured also closely resembled Toll the Hounds, with the point of view (POV) jumping between characters on average every three pages. So much for continuity. . .
There is alot about this book that bothered me. It is very difficult to explain exactly what without giving spoilers, but I'll try my best.
First, it lacked authenticity. Although I know that Esslemont is the co-creator of the Malazan concept, he (obviously) did not write the other Malazan books. Erikson did. So while they might have shared the same concept, Erikson's portrayal and understanding of the world is different from that of Esslemont, with the result that Esslemont feels like an intruder into Erikson's realm, and one who did not do sufficient research at that. One example is that Esslement seems to have a much more elemental take on the magic system than Erikson (Mother Earth?! What happened to Burn?)
Which lead me to my second issue: Discrepancies. Esslemont made no attempt to reconcile his book with events that took place in Erikson's books. It is as if he did not even bother to read them except for a cursory glance. This despite the fact that he high-jacked Erikson's characters left, right and centre. K'azz and members of the Sixth Blade are prime examples of this. What we know of them from Gardens of the Moon and what Esslemont says in this book, is not the same. Discrepancies also occur with Kallor and Traveller, the nature of the Crimson Guard, Assail, Osserc ... the list goes on, I won't bore you with the full extend thereof. It is also unclear from the book whether it predates events from Toll the Hounds or comes after. There are problems with either interpretation.
Thirdly, the characters seemed flat, without any distinctive personality. A lot of veterans seemed like exactly the same personality, just with different names. Only Nait seemed to develop a personality in the second half of the book. The fact that the POV jumped around so much also destroyed any possibility of one caring what happened to the characters much, as you are to busy struggling to keep track of who is who. The book is no page-turner. Halfway through, I was wondering why I bothered to read it. It does pick up somewhat towards the end, though.
Fourth, there was a lot of build-up of certain story lines, making them feel central to the main story, only to see them unravel into insignificance before the end of the book.
In summary, I don't mind that Esslemont writes about the Malazan Empire. I had no problem with Night of Knives, for example. As long as events predate or postdate events in Erikson's books. Or happens somewhere else between Esslemont's own characters. But Esslemont should stay off Erikson's turf and not try to write concurrent with Erikson and try and tie in with his stories and characters. Leave that to Erikson. He does a better job of it.
Hope your next read if much more enjoyable.
58. Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies by C. S. Forester
The last Hornblower book (chronologically, not in writing order). It is very similar in style to Midshipman Hornblower, in that it consists of a series of short stories, arranged as chapters. In this book, Hornblower takes something of a backseat due to his lofty position as admiral. Although he instigates the ideas, he does not execute them, acting as spectator rather than participant and making the action feel somewhat removed.
An enjoyable read, containing two novels in one. The language used is not as stilted as C. S. Forester's or as cluttered as Patrick O'Brian's and flows very smoothly. Be warned, though, that the jargon used and circumstances prevailing upon a British warship is not explained. It is assumed that the reader knows it already. But if one has read the Hornblower series of Forester it is easy to follow and I recommend it to any readers of the genre.
Edit to fix Touchstone - without much success
When I first read Forester's stuff, I loved it. However, I re-read some of my favorites from the middle of the series recently and realized that they don't hold up as well to Kent's books...and you've hit the nail on the head, it's the stilted language.
One of these days, I'll read the other 15 Bolitho stories. I'd also like to try his World War II novels; I've never read any of them.
Enjoyable, but not as much as Midshipman Bolitho. The pace was slow and, although it was necessary for the plot, Bolitho's mooning over another man's wife got on my nerves.
One thing I have noticed of the Bolitho novels which also bothers me a little, is that you very seldom hear Bolitho ordering the sailors in the day-to-day working of the ship. He seems more like a passenger observing what is happening than taking part, although I do not think this is the impression the author wanted to create or intended.
A bit slow paced at times, but otherwise enjoyable. Would have enjoyed a little more ship action.
Excellent! Fast paced and filled with action. One of the better Bolitho novels. And just when you thought the tale was over, there's a new twist.
After recovering from illness and loss, Bolitho is appointed as captain overseeing three cutters and must try to curb smugglers that are running rampant in Kent. And of course France is lurking over the horizon...
Good. Lots of action and things happening. Only thing that I can complain about is that the meeting between Bolitho and his new love interest was a bit too much of a coincidence. The final battle at Copenhagen, though good, also ended a bit bluntly. But overall it was an enjoyable novel.
A World War One book read at the insistence of my father. It follows the life of the Morgan family, Jesse and Emily Morgan and their son, Johnny (a fighter pilot), and daughter, Katy (a nurse).
I was not impressed by the writing style of the author and the first two thirds of the novel was very slow. The author also had the irritating habit of writing in the minutest detail about everyday, irrelevant things, while skimming only lightly over the major plot developments.
That said, I (to my surprise) enjoyed the book. The parts about Johnny was very entertaining with a realistic feel to it. The last third of the novel was fast-paced and gripping, the character development of Johnny, poignant.
Although it won't win any prizes for literary quality, it is an easy read and I would recommend it for those interested in that era.
Edit to fix typo.
After seeing a lot of recommendations on LT and looking for a light, entertaining read, I decided to read this romantic fantasy.
I enjoyed the first half of the book, although I would have liked a bit more world-building. The characters with their abilities had a lot of potential and I looked forward to seeing what would happen.
Unfortunately, in the second half, the book fizzled out. All the potential created in the first half was ignored and fell flat. Things hinted at or practised by the characters or the way their skills/Graces developed were almost never used in the main plot. The romance part was almost non-existent and the story began to suffer due to the lack of world-building.
Instead, what you got was an endless traipsing about in the wilderness, hunting rabbit, building fire, hunting quail, building fire, hunting rabbit, ... you get the idea. This while you had to listen to the main character's constant yet unconvincing rationalisation why it was not a good idea to get married, not even to the man that she loved with all her heart and that she couldn't bear to part with.
And then, at the very end, after conclusion of the main plot, there is a further development that adds absolutely nothing to the story and leaves you somewhat bewildered wondering why on earth the author wrote that. If the story had continued, or it had happened earlier in the plot line, I could have understand it, but putting it in the end of what is essentially a standalone novel served absolutely no purpose.
Well, that was #65. Ten to go! :D
66. A Tradition of Victory by Alexander Kent
Good! I especially enjoyed the character development of Richard's flag lieutenant, Browne. As with alot of his other Bolitho novels, the novel does not end after one main storyline, but continues seemlessly into the next.
Only one small critisism: I would have liked a little more detail of the actual shipboard and fighting action and not just general descriptions or indications.
I initially abandoned this book at +- page 160. Then, having heard to many songs of praise for O'Brian's series, I decided to give it another go. And I must admit, unless there is a significant change in writing style in the later books, I do not know what the hype is about. I found this book very, extremely boring. I normally devour a 400 page book in a matter of days (one, if it is a good book). It took me an age to finish this one. It did not have much of a storyline and dwelled too much on the characters' thoughts and feelings.
So to all the O'Brian fans out there, please tell me whether Master and Commander is a representative sample of his writing or if it is worth trying others in the series?
The first book in the Sharpe series. I enjoyed the book alot. It had an easy flow and realistic descriptions. I also enjoyed the fact that it was based on true historical events. I will definitely try the other books in the series.
The only negative is that Sharpe is a touch too cold and ruthless. And the continued irreverance/blasphemy of some of the characters started to grate and become offensive.
Where Sharpe's Tiger was a story about Sharpe set against a historical background, Sharpe's Triumph felt more like a retelling of historical events set against a Sharpe setting. While the story was good and enjoyable, I would have preferred that Sharpe played a more prominent role. And I disliked the way in which Cornwell portrays Christians and Christianity.
Still, a good story and I am looking forward to the next instalment.
Another good Bolitho novel.
Well, five to go. Don't think I'll make 75, but I might be able to squeeze in one or two more.
A book of daily devotionals (in Afrikaans).
Well, that wraps it up for 2009. Now for the 2010 challenge. My aim? 77, of course - have to make up for the two I missed this year.
For those wishing to join my reading journey this year (2010), you can find my new thread here: