Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bookworming: 2012 Summary

Facing a shortage of writing time this year, and with some inspiration from those around me, I decided to start keeping track of what I was reading and provide some capsule reviews. Thus the Bookworming category was born. I have rather liked it and I suspect it will continue next year. In the meantime, here is a summary of the year's activity.

My rating scale:

* I didn't care for it.
** Meh
*** Good for those who like that sort of thing.
**** Just plain good, likely to be read again some time.
***** Destined to be a personal favorite, likely to be read over and over again.

The books of 2012:
A Princess of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs, ***
The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins, ****
Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins, ****
Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins, ****
24 Hours That Changed the World, Adam Hamilton, ****
The Gospel According to Science Fiction, Gabriel McKee, **
Blood Rites, Jim Butcher, ****
Dead Beat, Jim Butcher, ****
2001 A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke, *
This Alien Shore, C. S. Friedman, ****
Proven Guilty, Jim Butcher, ****
White Night, Jim Butcher, *****
Small Favor, Jim Butcher, ****
Turn Coat, Jim Butcher, ****
When Christians Get It Wrong, Adam Hamilton, **
The Adventures of Robin Hood & His Merry Outlaws, J. Walker McSpadden, ***
Changes, Jim Butcher, ***
Ghost Story, Jim Butcher, ****

Well, let's see what we have here. Eighteen books in twelve months, leaning heavily on the Dresden Files series. That will change for next year as I have finally caught up (to the paperbacks at least). I got a couple of "roots" adventures stories in there, and only a small amount of sci-fi. Thanks to my church small-group, there were several religious books in the mix. No programming books on the list this year.

Looking at it now, it is not quite comprehensive of what I have read, but it's reasonably close. At least one game book (Tremulus[sic]: A Storytelling Game of Lovecraftian Horror by Sean Preston) didn't make the list. Of course, those are quite hard to review since they aren't really self-contained experiences. I can't wait to see what 2013 will bring.

Bookworming: Changes and Ghost Story

Changes, Jim Butcher, ***
Ghost Story, Jim Butcher, ****
I am still working my way through a much longer book I selected for my October reading, but an end of the year vacation caused me to seek some lighter reading, and thus, more Dresden Files.

Changes reportedly marks the halfway point of the Dresden saga, and while Butcher's kinetic writing propels a story that has huge implications for the world of the stories, it also abandons some of the things that make the stories so strong. This book begins with an out-of-nowhere MacGuffin that propels the rest of the story. The tone immediately becomes so deadly serious that the usual humor has little or no place to insert itself. Harry is forced by the time frame into being manipulated by forces beyond his pay grade and making irrational decisions at every step. It is a testament to Butcher's writing skill that this even remotely holds together and that the ties into the world he has created manage to make the story almost seem a logical outcome. The story does provide non-stop action, and it's a real page-burner, but it somehow does not feel quite as good as the standard the series has set.

Ghost Story brings the relative calm after the storm. In the aftermath of the events in Changes, this tale brings a far more introspective tone to the series, admittedly punctuated by many of the series's trademark action scenes. It's strengths are in the personal moments, especially those of the two women Harry is closest to, and in Harry's self-examination that shows Butcher knew what he was doing in the previous novel. It does retain the bleak and desperate tone started by Changes and in many ways feels almost like it's setting up a new world. In spite of this virtually none of the long-running threads are even addressed more than in passing, let alone resolved. Still, this feels much more on-form and I eagerly look forward to the next book in the series.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Quote of the Moment

In honor of tomorrow's so-called Mayan Apocalypse:

"If the apocalypse comes, beep me."
—Buffy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date"

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Quote of the Moment

"Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again..." —C. S. Lewis