by syaffolee

Books In Review

2006 was a rather unremarkable year in terms of my own book reading. Which, of course, calls for a major overhaul on my reading habits. If I were to make a new year’s resolution (which I’m not), it would probably be to read more award winning books. You know, just to say that I have. As for any books that stood out among the rest of the pap:

A Few Short Notes on Tropical ButterfliesJohn Murray (for most of the short stories)
On WritingStephen King (definitely required reading for wannabe writers)
The Mismeasure of ManStephen Jay Gould (excellent debunking of the intelligence quotient)
Inside JobConnie Willis (funny novella about pseudoscience)
Dead Witch WalkingKim Harrison (at the time, a fresh take on first person urban fantasy)

Aside from the books on the “currently reading list” on my bookrolling page, I’m in the middle of Gossamyr by Michele Hauf which I’m finding to be very hard going because of the molasses-like plot (I started the book sometime last summer). It doesn’t help that I didn’t like the first book in the series very much either. I just started Julian Keenan‘s The Face in the Mirror and I’m very eager to read Italo Calvino‘s Invisible Cities (I loved the excerpt I read a few years ago and it’s taken me forever just to get my hands on a copy).

The following are the final books I read last year:

Longitude by Dava Sobel – This may seem incongruous, but I’d call this “short and sweet.” I finished this tale of an eighteenth century Yorkshire clockmaker’s quest to solve the “longitude problem” in one sitting. I really liked reading about John Harrison’s struggle with getting his mechanical solution accepted by the establishment which viewed astronomy and mathematics as the ultimate answer to the problem. However, I couldn’t help feeling that Longitude was merely a skeleton for a lengthier, more in depth, and richer work. I would have appreciated more background on how navigators prior to the eighteenth century (particularly in the Ancient World) got their bearings, clockmaking, and Harrison’s instruments in particular.

Thunderbird Falls by C.E. Murphy – This is the sequel to Urban Shaman (which I had quite enjoyed) and the novella “Banshee Cries.” In this second offering, Joanne Walker–mechanic, reluctant cop, and a shaman of both Native American and Celtic heritage–is once again in hot water. Her spirit guide has disappeared, dead bodies are piling up, and demons are taking over Seattle. The plotting is breakneck. Joanne is not the invincible “kick ass” heroine present in today’s glut of urban fantasy and horror, instead she has to be dragged kicking and screaming to the showdowns with the bad guys. However, despite the entertaining action adventure, I’d have to say that Thunderbird Falls suffers the same fate as a lot of sequels and second books in series–the writing lags behind the plotting. There are sections of the novel that could have been seriously pruned or tightened up.