Becoming a part of a different universe

One of my favorite parts of reading a book is mentally enjoying a whole new universe created in the mind of an author. Some authors do it better than others, and I am often amazed at those that can really pull me out of the world I live in and make me a part of a different world. One of the first series of books that ever did that for me was the Landover series by Terry Brooks. I remember reading the first book as a kid and quickly becoming hooked. As I got older and more books in the series were released, it was always a delight to jump back into the other world and see how things have changed and what the characters are up to.

I recently finished reading the Mortal Engines series of books. These are great by the way, and I highly recommend them. I fell in love with the universe of Mortal Engines. The culture and styles of the different groups of people in the books were just awesome, and I really enjoyed the time I had to read about them. I didn’t realize how much I was enjoying this series until I reached the final book. I actually found myself a bit depressed that the story was over. The characters and world I had fallen in love with were no more. I was actually a bit surprised by my emotional reaction when I finished the last book in the series and that got me to thinking about other amazing universes I’ve been a part of over the years thanks to authors.

I have to admit that I really appreciate authors that are able to write such a compelling story and create a place that I can enjoy. It takes an even better author to make a place that I feel like I am a small part of it as well. I may not be an active participant, but I am an observer. One that feels connected to those I am reading about. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the author had continued to write books set in the same universe at just a different time. I haven’t started reading them yet, but it sounds like the next set of books are set quite a bit in the past. I’m thinking a prequel of sorts but far enough in the past that it kind of sets up some of the way people think in the original series. I was so happy to find out this information that I immediately set out to find them, so I could read them.

I think this is why I love books so much. The ability to mentally travel to so many different places, times, and dimensions. I can read about a distant futuristic society that drives entire cities around looking for resources one day and then read about a school for fairy tales the next. I had to laugh at that thought because I’ve been rotating between a few different series of books and that is kind of what I’ve been enjoying lately. Throw in a few books about government assassins and you have pretty much summed up what I have read this month so far, and it has been such a good month.

To Read or Not To Read

I was going over the New York Times Best Seller list when I noticed that Steve Berry had a new book out called The Malta Exchange. This is the 14th book in the Cotton Malone series. One that I have been enjoying, but I realized that I needed to catch up because it has been quite some time since I had read one of Steve Berry’s books. I knew that a couple had come out since I last read a book in the series, so I decided that I needed to figure out where I was in the series to pick up where I left off.

I pulled up my Goodreads list because I use that to keep track of what I have read since I don’t remember very well what I have or have not read. I pulled up the books for Cotton Malone and was shocked to see that I only have the first 2 of 14 books marked as read. This seemed very odd to me since many of the names of books 3, 4, 5, and 6 look very familiar to me. I also pulled up my Kindle library and sure enough. I have like five of the books in my library, which means I purchased them before and most likely read them. Steve Berry is not one I would buy and not read.

The problem is, I read the synopsis of the books that I have, and I can’t honestly remember them at all. I’m not too surprised because I do suffer a bit from memory loss, which is why I like to keep a list of what I have read. I hate picking up a new book and reaching like page 50 or 60 to discover that I know the story and have read it before. I know most people don’t have an issue with reading a book they have read before, but I’m always on the hunt for the new stuff. Kind of a weird flex that I have, but that is me. So now I have this dilemma. Do I just read over the books again or do I just move on to what I don’t have in my library. Maybe I’m overthinking this a bit much. I mean it won’t hurt to revisit a book I’ve read in the past.

I guess on the bright side, I don’t have to worry about buying the books or tracking them down at a library because I already own them. I will probably end up just reading the series starting at book 3 because that is the first one that I haven’t marked as read. It kind of annoys me though because I’ve been working on my Goodreads list for quite some time now and would think that I would have made a mistake like that. I’m sure I overlooked something.

Guess this means I will be reading a lot of Steve Berry in the coming months. I’ve been working on Barry Eisler since the beginning of January to get to a book that I got then. Nothing like a bunch of thrillers to get me through the rest of this winter and into the spring.

More Barry Eisler?!

If you have been following my posts, you know that I have been working on reading through the John Rain series by Barry Eisler. I started reading from book one last month when I picked up book #10 in the John Rain series from Amazon First Reads. I figured I might as well start at the beginning, which has been going well. I love the character. The series has been really good, and I’m currently on book 4.

Today I got an email from Goodreads announcing new books by authors I follow. Since I started following Barry Eisler on Goodreads, I got the email about his new book The Killer Collective, which is the book I already have since you get books on First Reads a month early, but the email added something that I had not seen before when I looked at the book on Amazon. The subject line read: The Killer Collective (John Rain #10; Livia Lone #3; Ben Treven #4).

Wait … John Rain #10, Livia Lone #3, and Ben Treven #4? The Killer Collective is a book that falls into three different series?! I had to check this out. Sure enough, Barry Eisler has also been working on a series following a character known as Livia Lone and one called Ben Treven. Well this though a wrench into the engine because my goal was to read all the John Rain books before I read the 10th one. Now I find out that I need to read the others (I don’t have to, but I like to read stuff in order), so I started trying to figure out the read order from where I was at. I started going off by published dates and figured out a read order and stumbled across a second book that includes both John Rain and Ben Treven.

Holy cow. I have never encountered this by an author before. I am fascinated by this development and can’t wait to see how this plays out. I also have to chuckle that my 10 book reading binge has now turned into a 15 book (technically 14 and 1 short story) reading binge of Barry Eisler stories.

And for those of you that are curious, here is the reading order list I came up with for Barry Eisler’s books:

  1. A Clean Kill in Tokyo (John Rain #1)
  2. A Lonely Resurrection (John Rain #2)
  3. Winner Take All (John Rain #3)
  4. Redemption Games (John Rain #4)
  5. Extremis (John Rain #5)
  6. The Killer Ascendant (John Rain #6)
  7. Fault Line (Ben Treven #1)
  8. Inside Out (Ben Treven #2
  9. Paris Is A Bitch (John Rain 6.5)
  10. The Detachment (John Rain #7, Ben Treven #3)
  11. Graveyard Memories (John Rain #8)
  12. Livia Lone (Livia Lone #1)
  13. Zero Sum (John Rain #9)
  14. The Night Trade (Livia Lone #2)
  15. The Killer Collective (John Rain #10, Ben Treven #4, Livia Lone #3)

Book review: Predator’s Gold by Philip Reeve

Cover of the book Predator's Gold by Philip ReeveI just finished reading the second book in the Mortal Engines series called Predator’s Gold. It was a really good addition to the first book, and I enjoyed quite a bit. I’m still in love with the world of Mortal Engines because it has a slightly silly feel to it as a futuristic dystopian novel. I always get a kick out of what the future dwellers think of the stuff that happened before the 60-minute war.

Book two picks up a couple of years after the events of the first book. Tom and Hester have become aviators and fly around trading with others and exploring the world. Things are going well for them until they are discovered by a faction of the anti-traction league and become a target. While trying to escape, their airship becomes damaged, and they end up taking refuge on the traction city Anchorage. It’s there that Tom starts to feel at home and Hester fears that she may lose Tom as he comes to love the city.

Predator’s Gold has some nice action in it almost right off at the start. The new characters introduced in this book are quite fascinating. I especially like the citizens of Anchorage and the crazy Professor Pennyroyal and his outlandish adventures. I was surprised to see a character from the first book return that I wasn’t expecting. I won’t mention who it is because I think it is a nice surprise. And much like the first book, Tom and Hester find themselves fighting for their lives a few different times.

I would definitely recommend this book to those who enjoy dystopian novels and partial love stories. Read the first book before this one though. I feel like there is some stuff the reader requires to truly understand some of the events in the second one, but that isn’t too bad because then you get to enjoy two books!

Author’s website: http://www.philip-reeve.com/
Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34227806-predator-s-gold

Book review: A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

I just finished reading A Closed And Common Orbit by Becky Chambers, and I must say that I enjoyed this book quite a bit. On the back cover of the book, one of the review snippets states that it “is a very likable novel,” and I must agree. Likable is a great way to look at the book because I instantly fell in love with the characters.

Book cover for A Closed And Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

This book is the second in the Wayfarer series. I loved the first book too, so I wanted to read the second thinking it would pick up the story of the Wayfarer crew from the first, but it doesn’t. I was a little disappointed by that at first. That was until I started to really get into this book. This book contains two stories that it alternates between.

The first story follows Pepper and Sidra: Pepper being a good friend of Kizzy and Jenks from the Wayfarer and Sidra, the Lovelace AI that is now placed in a fake body to pass as a human. Sidra ends up living and working with Pepper after realizing that staying as the AI on the Wayfarer might be too much for the crew. If you are curious why this is, you really need to read the first book. Sidra goes with Pepper and ends up struggling to cope with being restricted to a body instead of a ship.

The other story follows a girl by the name of Jane who ends up leaving a factory she lived at and ending up in a broken ship with an AI called OWL. As Jane grows older, OWL teachers her things and uses the skills Jane picked up in the factory to repair the ship in hopes of escaping the planet they are on.

The two stories are told in alternating chapters once the book reaches a certain point. I’ve read books that use this technique before and haven’t really liked it, but this one was done really well with both stories coming to a very nice close at the end that may or may not have brought a tear to my eye (maybe someone was cutting onions while I neared the end of the book. I’m not quite sure).

You can read this book without reading the first. The story and writing is good enough to stand by itself, but I feel like you might be missing out if you haven’t read the first book. Mainly because the first book is just so likable too. I’m really enjoying the way Becky writes her books and can’t wait to pick up the next one in the series. I just found out my library has it, so it won’t be that long of a wait. That makes me happy.

I highly recommend this book even if you aren’t much of a sci-fi person. I think most people that read this book will find something to love about it.

Author’s website: https://www.otherscribbles.com/
Goodreads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29808780-a-closed-and-common-orbit

Book Review: A Lonely Resurrection by Barry Eisler

Book cover for A Lonely Resurrection by Barry Eisler

A Lonely Resurrection made a pretty good follow up to the first John Rain novel, A Clean Kill in Tokyo, but I don’t know if this book was as good as the first. There was something compelling about the first novel where it felt like an assassin for hire rethinking his life and maybe looking for an out by trying to help someone with the unfortunate conclusion that he couldn’t get out. At least not yet.

The second novel picks up a little bit after the first book where he is finally deciding that he needs to get out of Japan for good to escape the events of the first book. However, he gets dragged back in by his friend, Tatsu, who wants John’s help to continue to go after the more corrupt aspects of Japan’s political structure.

I think where this book fell a little short for me from the first book is in the story. There didn’t seem anything as compelling in this one that carries John forward other than the fallout of trying to help out his friend and realizing that maybe his latest target isn’t worth the risk. That leads John into a series of events that end up turning out poorly for him. That’s not to say that this isn’t a good book. It was really good, and I found myself reading it over the other book I had picked up recently because I was hooked. I really like John Rain, even if he is a ruthless killer at times, but he seems to be struggling with his lifestyle choice a little more each time. That makes for some compelling reading as I watch the character struggle with his choices.

I’m curious where John Rain will go from here. I’m committed now to see where this story goes especially now that it seems John will stay in Japan to continue to do something. What that something is looks to be up in the air. I’ve already picked up the third book. I can’t wait to get started on that one too.

If you are a fan of thrillers, I’m starting to feel like this is a must-read. The character is fairly unique for me considering many of the thrillers I’ve read in the past two years seem to have main characters with similar military backgrounds working for some American agency or secret organization dealing with Middle Eastern stuff. I still like the location of the books so far. Reading about his adventures in Japan has been a refreshing change of pace.

Author’s website: http://www.barryeisler.com/

Finished the Mortal Engines book

I’m glad I spotted the “based on the novels by Philip Reeve” at the end of the movie, Mortal Engines. I had never heard of the book until I saw that line in the movieBook cover of Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve. I decided it might be fun to read, and I am glad I made that choice. The book offers so much more that the movie misses, but I’m okay with that. Different formats offer different experiences and the movie is quite different from the book past the initial few chapters.

I still get a kick out of these cities and towns driving around on large wheels with massive motors looking for other cities and towns to consume as a way to gather resources. That is why I made the choice to see the movie which led me to the book. I’m glad the book had more of that with a variety of cities, towns, and suburbs that roam around. The story is an intriguing one where the male protagonist, Tom, ends up off of his home town of London and tries everything he can do to get back. He travels alongside Hester because he has no one else at first and then slowly comes to like her. Hester wants to get back to London to finish the job she started when Tom and her first met.

If you have seen the movie, I really think you should read the book. I understand Mortal Engines is actually the start of a series, so I do plan to read the next one and see where the adventure goes beyond the first book (and movie). 10/10 would read again!

Author’s website: http://www.philip-reeve.com/

Lots of Reading!

I’m happy that my love of reading has been ramped up again this past five weeks. I have started reading some really nice books (and one bad one) and discovered some new authors that I plan to continue to read. I’m in that moment where I want to consume as much as I can, and I’ve been here before. I need to make sure that I  don’t burn myself out.

I am trying something different this time around though. In that past, I would read each book as quickly as I could and then jump right onto the next one. The problem with that is that I might read a book too quickly, reach the end, and only remember bits and pieces of that. I’m not sure if that is a good thing. Instead, I want to take my time and truly enjoy each book I read, but I do want to reach out and get a few done at a time. Since I recently found my Kindle, I’ve decided that I could probably read two books at the same time enjoying a bit of each depending on where I am.

I find the Kindle offers a great chance to read on the go or in places where carrying a book isn’t always the best. I will usually take my Kindle to work with me or use it while I’m spending time with my pet and only have one hand that I can use. When I’m home and in full reading mode, I like having a book in my hand. The feel of the pages and the smell of the book just does something to my brain that makes it even more enjoyable than just reading something off the screen.

I don’t have an issue reading more than one book at a time. I equate it to reading some chapters in a book and reading other stuff like social media, a magazine, or something for school. Since I’m reading both in different formats, one on the Kindle and one in book form, it makes it easy to switch back and forth. I don’t really feel like I’m missing out either, and it allows me to get a little more reading done than I normally would. I’ve even thought about picking up a third format (audio) and using that when I’m traveling back and forth to work, but I’m not sure if I can commit to that yet.

Either way, I’m really enjoying reading right now, and I am happy with that. In early December, I felt like I needed a push with my reading because I had hit a point where I didn’t feel like reading anything. Since then I’ve read around five books and it has been good.

Review: A Clean Kill in Tokyo by Barry Eisler

I just finisheIMG_20190116_002549d reading A Clean Kill in Tokyo by Barry Eisler, and I must say it was a really good read. I picked this book up recently after getting a new Amazon First Reads book also by Barry Eisler. I’m a stickler for reading books in a series even if each book can be read by itself, and I quickly discovered the new book was book number 10 in a series.  I decided to see if I could get a copy of the first book to begin the series. I was happy that my local library had a copy I could read.

The story focuses on John Rain, a half Japanese, half American, who works as a contract killer in Japan. He does have his own code of ethics and has a set of rules on who he won’t kill, and he doesn’t care the reason why he is hired to eliminate someone. His specialty is killing someone and making it look natural so no one suspects foul play. The book opens up with him performing a kill on a target. Standard procedure for him, but it quickly turns into anything but standard when he finds out someone wants to hire him to remove his target’s daughter as well.

If you read some of my previous posts, you will find that I am a big fan of thrillers, so this book is by no surprise one that I really liked. What I found unique about this story was the direction it went after the initial kill. The surprise that awaits the protagonist as he starts winding down from his latest contract that only pushes him forward into a more intriguing set of circumstances and danger.

I also liked the setting of the story. Many thrillers I’ve read over the last year seem to have settings either in the United States of America around the Washington D.C. area or somewhere in the Middle East. Many times both settings come into play in a story. This one was set in Japan, so it made it a nice change of pace from the other thrillers I’ve read recently. I am also a fan of Japanese culture, so that helped too!

If you like the “ex-special forces becomes contract killer” style of thrillers than you will really enjoy this one. The book is a quick read too at around 250 pages. I was able to read this in a couple of days. It really helped that I had the day off because once I got to around page 50, I was hooked. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good thriller. I have found me a new author to enjoy. Book #2 here I come!

Author’s website: http://www.barryeisler.com/