I have been busy in September so my reading has suffered but I still have things to share. (You should know that about me by now!) Not a single Romance on my list this time, either. Sheesh, what is the matter with me?
I picked up some books on CDs at my library’s used bookstore. Noting I wanted badly to read, but things that were interesting enough. I picked up Honor of Spies by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV because it’s narrated by Scott Brick. Love his voice and he is just as dreaming reading this one. He does some decent accents here, too. But I had no idea this was book 5 in a series. You mean, Historical War Fiction and Suspense/Thrillers have series going on? I thought only Romance and maybe science fiction was in to that. Kidding, but I didn’t think about it when I started the book. It’s not a bad story, a handful of running gags that I enjoy (People keep telling Howard Hughes that he looks just like Howard Hughes) and characters that are seen from several points of view. I will finish it and maybe look for the others in the series because I felt I was missing something at the start. It stands alone pretty well once you get into the story.
A few things that are a bit odd, and only because I am listening to it instead of reading it. The main character is named Cletus Frade. Whenever the narration says, Frade nodded, I hear “frayed knot” or “’Fraid not”. And the other name that is similar, Frogger, pronounced in the German way, soft “G’s” is a bit confusing at times. And we get told a lot of things that happened instead of being shown those events happening. Not all the time, but often enough.
I love the history of World War II so you would think this would be a fun book for me. Yes, it is good to have Hitler be a character in the book when I know how he will end. But I apparently skipped a lot of the stuff about Italy and Mussolini. I actually googled him because I had no idea how much was being made up and how much actually happened. There you go! Good reason to keep reading.
Don’t get me started on the planes, cars, and guns that are almost other characters here. Lots of great information, ideas, and possibilities. I will be thinking about that in my own writing because it resonates.
And then I read K.B. Spangler’s Greek Key, another spin-off from her webcomic but not a Rachel Peng story. Hope Blackwell takes the lead in this one, again using a lot of historical references and some fun, unique details. Like Speedy the Uplifted Koala. (Uplifted is a David Brin term, I hope he won’t mind if I use it here) Speedy escaped from a lab by killing the scientist who was using him as the next in a long line of koala guinea pigs. Er. Anyway, Speedy has a brain that makes him smarter than any human and he has an affinity for ancient languages. He works as a contractor with the Smithsonian Institute, translating ancient newspapers and manuscripts and so on.
The thing is, I was talking to a writer friend about wanting to put more pets into my stories because just about everyone I know has a dog, cat, bird, fish, feral possum, or gecko around. My friend said that might work for characters that didn’t move around much, but the animals could become a distraction otherwise. She also told me about a story she read where a dog had been given the gift of human speech. The thing was, the dog just talked and became an annoying secondary character. He didn’t act at all dog-like. Speedy, on the other hand, is very much a koala. He’s been bioengineered to eat cereal as well as eucalyptus leaves, but he still loves to sit in the trees when possible. He uses his claws to climb up his favorite people and sleeps a lot. When he gets hormonal, he gets thrown over the wall into the zoo’s koala enclosure. And he’s territorial so he can’t be away from home for longer than two weeks. There’s the ticking clock many stories need for the suspense and conflict to work.
I’m nearly done with Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey. If you are an Expanse fan, you will recognize that. I do love science fiction and have so far enjoyed this story. At the end of a very tense section, I took a breather and realized this was how it’s done. The characters are, literally, dying and getting weaker and bloodier by the moment. Still, they stop and work to get free of the mess they are in. This clock is ticking louder than any I’ve read. They had X number of hours before the radiation exposure will have shut down more of their bodily functions than the ship’s sickbay can reverse. Plus the bio-weapon loose where they are might get them before the radiation does. And no one wants them to make it to the docking area where their ship awaits.
I’m impressed with how clearly the characters are differentiated. The one consistently does stupid things in the name of justice. The other one tries to stop him but has no leverage in the situation. Even the two characters with similar names can be told apart by the way they talk and the things they do. Awesome writing. I will try to read the whole series, but I have been told it starts to be too alike in book after book. Not always a bad thing but this did keep some friends from reading the whole series.
Looking forward to re-reading Sundiver by David Brin for my book club. I enjoyed the story the first time around and went on to read all of the Uplift War books I could get my hands on. Still love the concept from beginning to end. Hope the rest of the club agrees.
I hope to get more reading done in the next month, but it’s super crazy to be me. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.