Reading List – The Half-year Staus

I’ve set the goal for myself that I wanted to read 80 books this year. Below you can see how that’s been going so far and what I think of the ones I’ve read.

Deadpool – The Complete Collection by Daniel Way:
I actually liked the humor of the Deadpool movie and a friend off mine convinced me to try the comics too. I have to be honest though, the compilation I bought at least wasn’t really all that funny. The stories were fine, standard action hero stuff, but the humor was what I counted on to make this thing work. It didn’t.
Star rating: 1/5

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett:
Here, on the other hand, the humor exploded of the page. I’d wanted to read Good Omens for a while, Pratchett and Gaiman being two of my favorite authors, and it didn’t disappoint. There was Pratchett’s humor, Gaimain’s eloquent writing, brilliant characters, and solid story telling. I very much recommend.
Star rating: 5/5

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson:
I listened to this one while driving to and from work, and it was perfect just for that. The pacing was high, the conflict gripping, and the setting was original and well thought off. Add to that a clear writing style and you end up with a story that could entertain, but didn’t demand so much of your attention that it made impossible to drive simultaneously. The characters felt a bit superhuman at times, and the sentence level writing wasn’t exactly brilliant. Still, with a debut like that, it’s no wonder Sanderson’s career sky-rocketed.
Star rating: 3/5

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf:
I picked this out because I want something else than speculative fiction once in a while, and I’d heard Woolf’s writing style was a joy in itself. I’ve been let down by so-called classics before, and I have to say this was one of the worse letdowns. I can enjoy subtle tension just as much as all out action, but nothing really happened in this story at all, and the writing style, well… the combination of stream of consciousness and head-hopping was annoying at best, but mostly it just came across as pretentious since it didn’t really seem to have any purpose.
Star rating: 1/5

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury:
Having been let down by one of the general classics, I turned to one of the modern classics of speculative fiction. And this one was an instantaneous success. I would’ve enjoyed it just for the sentence level writing. Bradbury’s style is clear yet distinct and concise, and it paints images like few others can. But the story is so much more than this. It’s a well developed futuristic setting that seems all to close to the world we’re living in today, and with it, it carries a theme that should give every book lover, every intelligent being pause for thought. The only negative thing I have to say about the book is the relatively forgettable characters. Still, this has become one of my all time favorite books.
Star rating: 5/5

Serials, season 1 by Sarah Koenig:
All right, so this is like a book, book. It’s not even fiction. If you haven’t heard about it, Serials is a investigative journalism podcast, but it’s told in a story like format, which is why I’ve included it on the list. And I’d argue I did learn a thing or two about storytelling from it. Namely how compelling a casual narrative voice can be, how important it is to have interesting characters in your story, and how an unreliable narrator can add to the excitement. The first season utilizes all of these to tell a great story. However, it’s also, I wouldn’t say a let down because you should be able to guess this from the start, but it’s annoying not getting some closure, a proper ending to round off the story.
Star rating: 4/5

The Rolling Stones by Robert Heinlein:
I read this not long after having read Fahrenheit 451, and I must admit there was a world of difference by these two contemporary books. Where Fahrenheit was poetic and suspenseful, Stones was plain and flat. Where Fahrenheit carried a heavy theme and was based on an interesting idea, Stones seemed to have no theme other than it’s nice to have money, and though it was filled with long explanations of plausible space science, it had no big, original ideas. In one area was the Stones superior; it did have a very interesting cast of characters, and their interactions were the high point of the “story”. Iput story in quotation marks there because though it’s evident that Heinlein knew every little trick of storytelling, it seems he forgot the most important part: conflict. It didn’t really seem like the story was about anything. I’m not just talking theme here. Basically the plot was: The family Stone travels into space, runs into minor obstacle which is solved on the next page. There’s no overarching conflict, nothing to pull me through to the next page.
Star rating: 1/5

Serials, season 2 by Sarah Koenig:
As I mentioned above for season one, this isn’t really a book or even fiction but rather investigative journalism. However, the story-like format made me include both seasons. Where season one had a mystery to be solved, unreliable witnesses, and an a high level of conflict, season two was more meh. The overall conflict wasn’t really working for me because you could tell from the start that the podcast team wouldn’t really be able to dig into it. And by the end, all I walked away with was the message that politicians are idiots.
Star rating: 2/5

Sourcery by Sir Terry Pratchett.
Funny as always, Pratchett didn’t disappoint me with this one. It’s not as great as Good Omens or Guards! Guards! But it’s a far deal better than his first two Discworld books. In all, a fun and surprisingly quick read (somehow it always surprises me how quickly I get through Pratchett books).
Star rating: 3/5

Wyrd Sisters by Sir Terry Pratchett.
More classic Pratchett. It was funny, quick to read through, and it had the witches as the protagonists (Granny Weatherwax is one of my favorite Pratchett characters). Compared to Sourcery, I’d say Wyrd Sisters was slightly better, mainly because of more interesting protagonists but also because of a tighter plot.
Star rating: 4/5

Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose.
The HBO series based of the book is one of my all time favorite TV shows (I’m currently rewatching it, again), so when I found the book in  second hand books shop in southern Spain, I had to own it. Turns out the TV shows actually was the better version for ones. I liked the historical details and the determination of the author to tell the personal story of as much of the E company as possible. But the scope seemed too wide for the book, and it lacked the strong characterization of the soldiers that made the TV show so great was completely absent.
Star rating: 2/5

Dragonlance: Chronicles (book 1 and 2) by Hickman and Weise.
I hadn’t really expected these books to be good, but somehow they managed to disappoint anyway. The only good thing I can say about them is that they’re so bad that they’re actually incredibly funny. I mean, the stilted characters, the way too obvious Dungeons and Dragons rip-off, the clumsy writing completely lacking emotion, the list goes on. And, yes, I know Dragonlance is targeted towards teens, but that’s no excuse for crappy writing.
Star rating: 1/5

Heroes by Joe Abercrombie.
An excellent book. Abercrombie manages to flesh out his characters in just a few sentences, making even the tiniest side character more well rounded than protagonists by many other authors. I especially love the way he manages to show the good and bad in every character. No one is truly just a hero or a villain. Actually, every character is a bit of an asshole, but through narrative tricks Abercrombie managed to make me care about them anyway.  The grittiness might be a bit much, but that is his style, and since the whole story  is about war, it never seems out of place.
Star rating: 5/5

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik.
When I found this at a second hand bookshop while on vacation in Budapest, I was elated. I’ve heard so much good about the book and have been planning on buying it for ages. It didn’t take me long to realize it was going to be a letdown, though. The premise (the Napoleonic wars with dragons) is excellent and promises lots of excitement, but sadly, almost any form of conflict arising in the story was killed off within a line or two. Besides, the stilted behavior of the protagonist and the archaic writing style dragged the story down even though these aspects fitted the time period and setting for the story.
Star rating: 2/5

The Magician’s Apprentice (part 1) by Trudi Canavan.
Turns out this was a prequel probably aimed for people already fans of Canavan’s Magician series. Still, I felt such a successful author should’ve been able to create a stronger story. Almost nothing happen throughout the story, and the two major events there were received almost no emotional response from the character. It could be that some of it comes down to me having listened to the story as an audiobook with pretty boring narrator and it was in Danish, so maybe it was a sloppy translation. Still, this wasn’t exactly the kind of story that made me want to read the other books in the series.
Star rating: 1/5

Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard.
I feel conflicted about this book. I mean, it was entertaining enough, fast paced and easy to get through, but somehow still not all that interesting a read. The major issue was perhaps that it created the wrong expectations to begin with. All the cover quotes were about Mr. Leonard being an excellent crime and thriller writer but the book turned out to be a comedy, on big joke on Hollywood actually. Other than that, there wasn’t really any characters to root for. Still, the book was funny in an awkward way.
Star rating: 3/5

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson.
I feel bad, having to give this book such a low rating, especially since Elantris showed some real promise. As did Warbreaker to begin with, having an excellent mystery to pull the reader in and an interesting magic system. The characters were also more interesting than in Elantris, but a few chapters into the book, the story began to falter. There was a lot of navel-gazing a very little plot progression, and when the climax finally came, it was riddled with heavy info dumps that could easily have been omitted. I still haven’t given up on Sanderson, though; I’m actually looking forward, quite a lot, to reading Mistborne.
Star raing: 2/5

So that’s 18 books so far. A rough estimate based on word count tells me that I’ve read what corresponds to 8 novels worth in short stories bringing me up to 26 books so far in 2018. So, yeah, the 80 books seems pretty far away, impossible even unless I stopped writing myself which isn’t going to happen. Still, I hope to bring that number up quite a bit before New Year’s Eve.

If you have any recommendations for must-read books, I would love to hear them in the comments below.

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