Monday, April 12, 2010

Well... I got a lot of reading done at least

I got stuck in Milwaukee for a night (no, I have no idea why AirTran routed me through Milwaukee) on my way down to Dallas, but still made the wedding on Saturday easily. While it was a pain, thanks to the "distressed traveler" discount thing, that the hotel in Dallas didn't charge me for the missed night, and the fact that I spent the evening quietly reading instead of going out to the wee hours like all the wedding attendees who were in Dallas... it was actually a fairly economical diversion. In addition, I didn't leave for home until 4 ish Sunday, so had quite a bit of solo time to read (Anna sat this wedding out)... finishing all three books I brought with me. As an aside, the pork al pastor tacos I had for lunch that Sunday... at what appears to be a middling chain restuarant... were definitely better than anything I've had in the Northeast. Sigh.

Back to the books... note that these aren't serious books like the ones that influence serious bloggers, since neither am I very serious nor was I looking for erudition... but some of the people who read this blog might find them interesting... strangely, all three ended up being alternate histories:

His Majesty's Dragon, by Naomi Novik - Probably on of the cheesiest sounding titles ever, but nevertheless a good book. I picked it up entirely on Tycho's recommendation... and was worried that it would not be a good fit, and so only got the one book. In retrospect I wish I picked up the three book set, but it looks like the Penny Arcade Effect has that on back order... making it useless for my weekend of airports (and a wedding!). I'd call it a Master and Commander With Dragons but I think most of the similarity is due mainly to the time period of the Napoleonic Wars... as it seems you could just as easily call it Pride and Prejudice With Dragons. I'll be curious as to to how much Anna takes to it, since she has a particular fondness for the period and no stranger to books with dragons in them. It's really quite well put together and cohesive... and while it's got a little Eragorn angle in there... it's much more of a military oriented story from the perspective of an new officer of a unit fighting in a massive conflict... not Luke Skywalker coming to save the day.

Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld - Now, this one is a young adult book... i.e. there are illustrations and big type and that sort of thing. The illustrations are quite good, and made me wish more "grown up" sci-fi/fantasy would do them as imagination aids... but that fear of being roped in as "kids' stuff" seems to keep it rare (or maybe it's too expensive or time consuming to do). I blew through this one pretty quickly, and kind of wish that instead I held off on it for the audio book for our next trip to Maine. It's got the ideal 8 hour length to finish it in one trip and is simple and straight forward enough to absorb while you are driving (or lightly dozing in the passenger seat)... hell, maybe we'll do it anyway, to be ready for the sequels. The story is an alternate WWI history with a fantastical edge... a genre known as Steampunk. In this particular alternate history, Europe is divided between Darwinists, who create genetic hybrid creatures, and Clankers, who are machine based. It's a lot of fun, and more thoughtful than you might expect... I'm looking forward to read/listen to the rest of the story.

Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest - This is also Steampunk in genre, but significantly more dystopian than Leviathan and certainly not geared towards children... though I can't recall any "mature" themes if you've got a kid who is a reasonably advanced reader. It has a strong female protagonist and zombies, to go along with the Steampunk, so there's a lot here to like. It's not particularly fast paced, and probably more about characters and exploring the world Priest created than it is a zombie killing adventure. Those aspects, characters and the world, were at least what I thought shined through best about the book. Recommended.

UPDATE: Accidentally published this one before it was actually done... should be fixed now. Hopefully.