Friday, July 08, 2011

Summer Reading Challenge

It must be said: my library is awesome. As part of the mid-Hudson Library system, I have access to the entire catalog of library materials at more libraries than I can imagine. With all those different libraries it's very unlikely that the latest books aren't available somewhere - and putting a hold on a book so that it gets sent to my local library when it becomes available is as easy as the click of a button on their internet site. This is how I catch up on the latest movies, and oftentimes how I read books or comics that I'm interested in but probably wouldn't purchase outright before trying them first. It should come as no surprise that I highly recommend seeking out your own library and try something new this summer. Did you ever do a "summer reading" program at your local library as a kid? Where you read a certain amount of books and then earn a prize of some kind (maybe a party at the end of the summer or something). My kids are in such a program this year. Likewise, my library has also started a similar program for adults - giving out a Summer Reading Passport and for each 4 books an adult reads, their name is entered into a contest to win various prizes (meals at local restaurants and such). Having just finished reading 3 Star Wars books (which I'm not counting) I was ready to start digging into non-Star Wars books for awhile, and this was the extra push I needed. I started my reading this week with Beyond the Frontier: Dreadnaught by Jack Campbell (part of The Lost Fleet series), and I should have a review of that up next friday. I've already got my next two books picked for after that, Mark Newton's Nights of Villjamur followed by Hannu Rajaniemi's The Quantum Thief. So that makes 3 - it's my fourth book that I'm not so sure of right now. It could be Quatrain by Sharon Shinn - a book with four stories set in various worlds she's created (including Archangel and The Twelve Houses). I love her writing and have followed her books for years, though I'm never a big fan of short stories. Still, it's kind of a tradition for me to do one short story collection each summer, so maybe this should be it. There's also The Dervish House by Ian McDonald, a near-future sci-fi thriller about a terrorist plot and the lives of the intertwined people affected by it. This book has been on my reading pile for about a year now, with all the prior press it got being very high praise (it was on many Best of 2010 lists). There's a couple of steampunk novels I've had lingering on my "to be read" pile for some time. The first is The Buntline Special by Mike Resnick. This is an alternate history/steampunk novel taking place in the American West. I've never read anything by Resnick, and even though this is still somewhat outside my normal reading range the concept of this book has me intrigued. Likewise for my possible 4th choice, Camera Obsurca by Lavie Tidhar. This is steampunk murder mystery set in an alternate Paris, and the locale is part of the appeal for me. My tie-in novel love knows no limits, and even though I want to take a break from Star Wars, I do have some other options within this familiar staple. I could read Mike Stackpole's Conan the Barbarian (movie adaptation), Peter David's Transformers: Dark of the Moon adaptation, or Alex Irvine's Iron Man: Virus. Peter David and Mike Stackpole are favorite authors of mine, both are movies I won't likely see until they come out on DVD. I was a big fan of Alex Irvine's Transformers: Exodus novel from last year, and Iron Man hits a sweet spot for me being a novel based on a comic character. So, while I'm undecided, I figured I'd poll the readers a little - see if there's anything above that you'd most like to see me review. I make no gaurantees, reading is a personal thing and by the time I'm done with the first three I mentioned, I may have it firmly in mind what my next will be - but I am curious to know what you're interested in, and I'll be certain to make those a priority on my pile. And while we're at it, feel free to let me know what's on your "to be read" pile for this summer.

8 comments:

Stephanie M. Lorée said...

Both steampunk books you mention are on my TBR list, and I'd like to see reviews on. Also, I'm curious to Stackpole's Conan and David's Transformers. Conan is on my list, but I worry about Transformers. The movie's plotline was pretty nonexistant (being Michael Bay and all, it was more about the explosions and sweet robot metamorphs), so I wonder what a novel which cannot have such visual effects will do.

Per your recent Star Wars post, I'm trying the first chronological book in the series this summer. I've never read the SW novels, and you've encouraged me to give them a try.

Happy summer reading!

Charles Gramlich said...

We never had summer reading at our library. It was farm country. The summers were farm time. but we had some at our school and I often won by reading the most books. I do sometimes even today make plans for reading to cover certain genres or types of books. It's fun.

SQT said...

I've been wanting to read "The Bunline Special." Steampunk really appeals to me right now. I'm currently reading "Mechanique" by Genevieve Valentine (Alex Bledsoe says it's really good so I had to check it out). I also have "Flashback" by Dan Simmons on by TBR list. Then I'm thinking "Shadow's Son" by John Sprunk

SQT said...

Oh-- More steampunk. I'd also like to read "Phoenix Rising" by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris, and "Dead Iron" by Devon Monk.

Jim Haley said...

@Stephanie - I'm imagining that both Conan and Transformers will be like most of the movie tie-ins, based off of the script with some added scenes, they wind up seeming like a "Directors Cut" of the film. I enjoyed Alan Dean Foster's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen adaptation - which I read well before seeing that film, and I think actually helped me enjoy that film more (I don't hate it the way many people seem to).

I'm curious which Star Wars book you decided to go with - by first in chronological order do you mean the e-book "Lost Tribe of the Sith" or after the classic movies "Truce at Bakura"? I like Truce, and it is stand-alone - though there are better books (like the ones I mentioned in my post) - and chronological order reading is NOT necessary for many of the Star Wars books (they were written out of order, so Truce was actually written after Heir to the Empire).

@Charles - yeah, sometimes I get into a mood and just want to read the same genres - and as I partially mentioned, I often wind up picking up a short story anthology each summer. I guess it makes for good beach reading, since I can read a whole story and not worry about interruptions to a larger narrative.

@SQT - me and Steampunk got off on the wrong foot. I didn't really care for The Horns of Ruin, and while Cowboy Angels might have been mildly steampunk (with the Trains) it was really way more scifi/Stargate. I feel like I haven't read anything yet in the Steampunk genre that's really made me "get it". But I want to keep trying it out, and eventually I'll get around to reading all the things on this short list (this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of books on the TBR pile, I went with the ones at the top for this post).

SQT said...

Jim-- I think Cherie Priest writes good, fun steampunk, so that would also be a good place to start. I also hear "The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man" by Mark Hodder is supposed to be really good. I have it, and now that I think about it I may have to bump it up on my TBR list.

SQT said...

Oops, wrong Hodder title (I mentioned the sequel). The first one is "The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack."

animewookie said...

I'd be interested to hear your review of Quatrain. It would break things up for you a bit as well :D