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Ithaka Rising – the best kind of sequel

I finished a book this week – number 19 for the year.  Interestingly (well, to me anyways) is that it was the second in a series, and I’d finished the first one 363 days earlier, also the 19th of the year.  Patterns where there are no patterns shouldn’t entertain me this much.

Anyway, I wrote a review for it, because I want to be able to start sharing stuff that I love, and because I want to be able to figure out how to articulate things better than ‘this book was nice.  I liked this book.  You should read this book.’  Because that’s how most of my mental reviews go.  Bollocks to that.  I need to reassure myself that I can think a little deeper than that.

I’m not a fan of Goodreads, but I’ve found a relatively young book-lovers site called Leafmarks, so I’ve been using that track what I’ve been reading.  Now, I’m going to make more of an effort to review as I go, because authors need to know that they have fans.  To that end, I’m putting the review here as well, because I can.

Ithaka Rising (Halcyone Space #2), by LJ Cohen

Derelict, the first book in the series, came out last year, and became one of my favourite discoveries of the year.  This, book two, picked up the story and continued with just as much enthusiasm.

When Jem realises that his brain injury isn’t going to improve, he takes matters into his own hands and disappears, leaving his brother and friends to try and find him.  What follows is as much a journey of discovery for them as it is for him, and they realise there’s much more at stake than Jem’s chances at recovery.

The science and technology in this world is easy to come to grips with, and the politics take a back seat to the emotions and loyalties of the main characters.  Each of them have changed after the events in the first book, coming together in what feels like a natural progression, and it’s interesting to see them figure out how to work together.

The pace and tension seem really well-balanced, and it was hard to put this down between one chapter and the next.  Jem’s condition fascinated me, and I hope it’s expanded on in the next book, along with Barre’s relationship with Halcyone itself.
The ending made the story seem like a chapter in a much larger saga, and I’m already looking forward to the next part.

Verdict: 5/5 and an impatient wait for the next installment!

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Mind. Blown.

I’ve just finished reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman.  Literally, just finished, I closed it about ten minutes ago.  I usually think about a book for a day or so, then write some stuff down to help me remember it.  This book, I’m not so sure I’m going to get very far past ‘ohmygodthisbookisamazing’.  Maybe I’ll just cover the rest of the page in little love hearts to emphasise the point.

The point being, I don’t think I can hold all of this book in my mind all at once, so I can think about it logically.  The scope of things, the range of people, the expanse of the landscape, is enough that I’m sort of sitting here like I’ve been brained with a very large hammer.

I have managed to grasp a couple of points, and have added about ninety things to my mental list of things to read more about, and I’m happy that there are author’s names in the acknowledgements, so I can start hunting down some new-to-me books.

I think what I’ve ended up with, at the end of this journey, is a vague feeling that I’ve learned something about the nature of people, and of gods, which can’t be a bad thing.  Once again, living at the bottom of the world lends a definite feeling of distance to proceedings, so it seems more fantasy to me than it would to someone who lived in Minnesota, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing either.

Booking Through Thursday 2

This weeks prompt from Booking Through Thursday:

What books do you have next to your bed right now? How about other places in the house? What are you reading?

I don’t have any books on top of the table next to the bed – there’s no room, what with the clock and tissues and drink bottle (and chocolate) and a wee bit of space for glasses.  Underneath the drawers is a different matter – there’s a shelf at the bottom that houses a very small, rarely touched collection of books, mostly by Nancy Friday (or collated by her, at least).

I tend to not leave books in the bedroom, as I’m never in there during the day.  My book is either on my armchair or in my handbag, within reach.  At the moment I’m carrying around a book called The Lightstep, which I’ve only just started, by John Dickinson.  So far so good, although the story is really only just starting.  This weekend should be pretty nasty in terms of weather, so hopefully there will be lots of time to curl up on the sofa and make a dent in this novel!

Booking Through Thursday 1

Stumbleupon rocks, by the way.  It’s how I found a blog about book memes, and a whole host of other journalling odds and sods that will keep me occupied for weeks.  But for now, my first foray into Booking Through Thursday: (and no, not on a Thursday either – talk about a promising start!)

What’s the most useful book you’ve ever read? And, why?

Cookbooks are the first things that come to mind, but I don’t know that I’ve ever sat down and read one cover to cover.  I’ve got a couple of those ‘how to clean everything’ and ‘1001 uses for vinegar’ type books as well, but it’s not exactly riveting reading.  I can’t even claim any self-help books, although that’s probably not a bad thing.  I’ve never been able to get into them, although I have a bunch of writing/journalling ones on wishlists across the web…

As boring as it is, the most useful book I’ve actually read completely is the user manual for our DVR.  I didn’t read it because I was starved of the written word; rather, we couldn’t figure out how to get it to record for more than 30 minutes at a time.  I scoured the book from cover to cover to try and figure out why, and eventually posted to a .comp newsgroup.  I got the answer within half an hour, and then read the stupid manual again to see if I’d missed it the first time, but no.  Apparently, it’s a quirk unique to all Philips recording devices that the entire universe knew about except us.  (In case you’re wondering, you have to press the record button once for each half hour – 90 minutes means three hits to the red button).

Terror Firma

I’m getting stuck into Terror Firma, a fantastic book by Matthew Thomas.  While I’m aware that it’s satire, about things that no one in their right mind should be taking seriously (or perhaps the complete opposite, I can’t decide), there’s a passage that has stuck in my mind:

The most efficient way to subdue a population is to make them believe that they’re free as they construct the chains that bind me.  Throw them at the rag-doll of political debate and allow them to waste their energies tearing their apparent leaders to pieces.  Free speech counts for little when those with the true final say don’t give a damn what they hear from below, and didn’t need your vote to get them there in the first place.

While the rest of the book is turning out to be a fun ride, this bit screams so much logic at me I think I’m taking the rest of the story a little too seriously.  At any rate, I’m only halfway through, but I think I can safely say it’ll be on my mind for a long while.

So many books to choose from…

Last month was my worst month, reading-wise, in years.  I finished absolutely nothing.  To be fair, I only actually started one book, Drood, which was put aside when hauling it to work every day started having serious consequences (that thing is heavy; I’d hate to see the size of the large print version!), so it wasn’t like I tossing books left, right and centre.  Instead, I turned to logic puzzles and magazines, so the fact my page count hasn’t moved in a month is purely my own laziness.

Thing is, I’m now out of the habit, of both reading and of choosing books.  I’ve gone right back to the basics, and a book that is both an old favourite and complete fluff – the first Red Dwarf book.  I have no idea what I’m in the mood for next though, in spite of having a TBR list about two hundred pages long.  Time to get out the dart set and take pot luck!

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