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Sharing my love of books as long as I can...

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Ben Bova
Progress: 131/383 pages
Celina Summers
Progress: 343/423 pages
The Civil War, Vol. 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville
Shelby Foote
Progress: 422/810 pages

Book #877 - 352,956 Pages Read

Knife of Dreams (Wheel of Time, #11) - Robert Jordan

Took me a while to read this one...I would read some, put it down for a few months, read some more, etc. I was really glad to see that storylines that have been buzzing around for 5 or 6 books now are finally starting to come together with a sense of closure. Perrin finally finds Faile....Mat and Tuon establish their relationship and his place as a leader of the Seanchan...Rand starts kicking ass (finally), but at a price to be explored later. The point is, this was Jordan's last work before his death, and you can see here that he is starting to bring this monster saga to a close. I am looking forward to reading Brandon Sanderson's adaptation of the last 3 books based on Jordan's notes and recordings, but this one was a welcome move forward in a saga that has been mired for several volumes.

Book #876 - 352,195 Pages Read

Altered Carbon  - Richard K. Morgan

I saw the series on Netflix and thought I would try the book. The book is somewhat different from the series, but they basically have the same premise. I thought the book was much better (as usual)...it kept the story tighter and allowed the author to construct a dark, future, dystopian world that allowed strong characters to flourish in this intriguing story. The idea of digitizing the human consciousness and allowing it to be placed in different "sleeves" (bodies) was both fascinating and terrifying at the same time. Definitely not for kids, this one will probably go down as one of the classics as time goes on, surely propped up by the mainstream success of the Netflix series, but absolutely able to stand on its own.

Book #875 - 351,820 Pages Read

Moonwar - Ben Bova

Picking up fairly recently after the events of Moonrise, the citizens of Moonbase continue to live and operate their colony while fighting (politically and ultimately physically) the forces of the U.N. back on Earth, which is trying desperately to shutdown their base due to their fear of nanotechnology, among other motivations. This is an excellent tale of how the people of Moonbase use their wits and courage to repel the bigger and stronger forces of the U.N. Peacekeeping soldiers to survive and eventually live on their own on the moon as an independent nation. The conclusions of this book ultimately set in motion many of the future tales of Bova's Grand Tour, which makes this book a real critical pivot point in this saga.

Book #874 - 351,319 Pages Read

What Stands in a Storm: A True Story of Love and Resilience in the Worst Superstorm in History - Gillian Cross, Rick Bragg

I heard about this book from a podcast I listened to recently, entitled 'Tornado Talk'. I thought it sounded interesting and decided to give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised by one of the best books I've ever had the privilege of reading.

Slowly laying out a story that the author claimed "needed to be told", Ms. Cross has put together a book unlike any other I have read among similar genres. This book focuses on what has been called the worst tornado outbreak this country has ever experienced (4/27/11), surpassing even the infamous "Super Outbreak" (4/3/74). I was very, very impressed with the amount of research done, making the science understandable and basic, yet not oversimplified for laymen purposes as is found in so many other similar publications.

It is here that Ms. Cross begins to bring the human stories into the developing dangerous situation: a woman and her budding meteorologist-to-be son in Smithville, Mississippi; an experienced meteorologist in Birmingham who would spend literally all day in front of the cameras saving countless lives with his repeated warnings; college students in Tuscaloosa preparing in various ways for the worsening weather; a family in Cordova, Alabama frantically trying to survive. I bring these examples up because this may be the most ingenious way I've ever seen an author combine these stories with the scientific explanation of how that fateful day unfolded. The tension is palpable; the dread is real, and when the worst finally happens, the stories are really only beginning.

The second part of the book deals with the aftermath of the devastation. It is no less tense than the first part, but along with that it becomes literally, emotionally gut wrenching in parts. No spoilers, but I must mention the part of a particular search and rescue worker who volunteers her services along with her search dogs that literally had me bawling.

Whew.....Ms. Cross then does an outstanding job of slowly bringing hope back into the situation: descriptions of emergency rescue personnel along with other heroes, hundreds if not thousands of volunteers descending on Tuscaloosa to help any way they could, emotional reunions of victims with their rescuers, and people slowly getting on with their lives with hope for the future while dealing with the constant but receding pain.

Highly recommended....well done, Kim Cross, a truly magnificent effort.

Book #873 - 351,035 Pages Read

The Force Awakens (Star Wars) - Alan Dean Foster

From one of the best SW novels I have read (Rogue One) to one of the worst (this one). I noticed two major flaws with this book: Foster basically wrote the book almost verbatim from the screenplay and he also wrote it as a dumbed down young adult novel. The former is the reason I typically don't read books adapted from screenplays (SW movies being the exception, a tradition of mine). The latter caught me by surprise....I expected a more intelligent, mature approach to this book than something written by past authors in the SW Young Adult series. If you've seen the movie, you have experienced enough with Episode VII...don't bother with this book. It will take your enjoyment of this installment of the saga back a notch. Also as a sidenote, this novel apparently wasn't proofread very well.....a bevy of grammatical and spelling errors awaits the reader. Annoying as hell.....

Book #872 - 350,775 Pages Read

Moonrise - Ben Bova

This is an early entry in Bova's Grand Tour, and one of the better ones at that. Paul and Joanna Stavenger are desperately trying to keep their vision of colonizing the moon alive while many on Earth (as well as members of their own family) are doing their best to sabotage this mission. Bova again mixes drama with hardcore science fiction to create a suspenseful story about the future of mankind's exploration of the moon as well as the solar system. I really enjoyed this one.

Book #871 - 350,358 Pages Read

Ghosts Of The Tsunami - Richard Lloyd Parry

I visited Japan in 1990, 1994, and 1998 for business. Each time I went, I had a greater appreciation and interest in the people and the culture. I suspect this went a long way into my interests in the catastrophe that killed an estimated 20,000 Japanese people on March 11, 2011, when the fourth largest earthquake ever recorded exploded off the coast of northeast Japan in the Tohoku region. Millions felt the quake, but the initial damage and casualties were remarkably light in this coastal area. The tsunami arrived about 45-50 minutes later.

I've seen the videos. Imagine the ocean inexplicably swelling and growing, reaching heights of over 120 feet in some remote coastal villages. Imagine fleeing to the nearby hills, watching your entire town and potentially thousands of people being swallowed up and swept away by an unforgiving, black, incompressible wave of liquid death. This book focuses in on the village of Kamaya, located near the mouth of the Kitakami River where it empties into the Pacific northeast of Ishinomaki.

A group of children and teachers at Okawa Elementary School in Kamaya felt the earthquake that day. Per protocol, the kids and teachers exited the building and dutifully lined up neatly in the school courtyard. They heard the tsunami warnings. What followed was confusion and a lack of urgency and correct decision making that proved lethal. The doomed group left the courtyard for what they thought was "higher ground" somewhat closer to the river. After the tsunami arrived, only 4 kids and 1 adult survived by actually running to a nearby hill.

Richard Lloyd Parry has detailed the actions and decisions of several families involved in this tragedy, from before to during and after the quake and the tsunami. He vividly and accurately describes the horror they experienced and the gut-wrenching aftermath of searching for their lost children, as well as their journey to find the truth of what actually happened that day at Okawa Elementary School. Parry also layers the book, to me at least, with an underlying sense of dread that this is but one of thousands of stories that occurred on that day when the seas swallowed the northeast coast of Japan, but for some reason this story seems to stand out among the tragedies.

In closing, this book is not for everyone...it is dark. But if you really want to get a sense of what some of the people of Japan went through during and after this geological event, I highly recommend this. My only criticism is Parry closed the book with spiritual comments of people being possessed by the "ghosts" of this event. This seemed a bit out of place for this book.

Book #870 - 350,089 Pages Read

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - Alexander Freed

Hands down, the best Star Wars novel I've read to date...this would have been great even without the movie. It's rare for me to read a book after seeing a movie it is based on, but I have a tradition of doing that with Star Wars movies/novelizations Freed succeeds tremendously by very strong characterization, and bringing the screenplay plot to life in novel form with immense tension. If you have read any SW novels over the years, this one is a must for your library.

Book #869 - 349,767 Pages Read

Use of Force: A Thriller (The Scot Harvath Series) - Brad Thor

I always enjoy Brad Thor books, and since the death of Vince Flynn, he has really become my go to author for kick-ass thrillers. Scot Harvath is called upon to track down potential terrorist acts based on intelligence gathered by others. The acts could potentially be on U.S. soil, so it becomes a race against time and enemy forces as Harvath joins fellow marines he can rely on to help stop the threat. As always, these books move quickly and get right to the heart of the story. This copy is special to me also, since Mr. Thor signed it for me.

Book #868 - 349,407 Pages Read

Die Trying - Lee Child

Jack Reacher finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time as he gets swept up in the kidnapping of Holly Johnson, FBI agent and daughter of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A radical faction hell-bent on seceding from the US and creating their own country is using Holly as ransom, and it becomes Reacher's responsibility to not only escape, but to stop the inevitable. Lee Child writes a fast-paced, well-penned story with a lot of impressive technical detail and well-developed characters. This one was a joy to read.

Book #867 - 348,855 Pages Read

Allies  - Christie Golden

Probably the best of the Fate Of The Jedi series so far...this one seems to start moving along the plot nicely, as well as add more depth to key players in this series: Luke, Ben, Vestara, Daala, etc. Han and Leia just seem to be bit players here; hopefully they will be more prominent in future installments. The plotline of the alliance between Jedi and Sith moves along here also, and still has a lot of details to flesh out in the future as well. I think the issue of Abeloth and the journey into the Maw has more to reveal as well, but it began to get very interesting in the last third of the book. The Ben/Vestara dynamic seems to be setting up as the key for this series.

Book #866 - 348,449 Pages Read

Farside - Ben Bova

The race is on between the nation of Selene on the Moon and the International Astronautical Authority to build a series of telescopes to view a discovered object several light years away that could potentially harbor life with similar conditions to those on the Earth. When the mirror being constructed for the telescope on the moon is accidentally damaged, the director decides to use nanotechnology to repair the mirror, saving time and money. What follows is one accident after another as the Farside installation tries to simultaneously build the mirror and deal with the potential of the site being shut down due to dangerous conditions. This is somewhat shorter than Bova's previous works dealing with this subject in similar situations, but no less enjoyable as it seems Bova is setting up for novels and stories that will begin outside our solar system. The Grand Tour is expanding.....

Book #865 - 348,082 Pages Read

Backlash  - Aaron Allston

I'm starting to think that all the novels in the Fate Of The Jedi series really comprise one big novel in 9 parts, as this one just picks up where Abyss left off and continues the plot points along similar paths without really going anywhere. Still an enjoyable read, and slightly better written as Allston has proved himself to be one of the better EU writers, but the reader won't learn much more than revealed in the previous 3 in this series, save for a few actions scenes if you're into that sort of thing.

Book #864 - 347,728 Pages Read

Shadows of Treachery[WARHAMMER HORUS HERESY SHADOWS][Mass Market Paperback] - ChristianDunn

Another anthology of WH40K stories related to the Horus Heresy. Took a while on this one as I put it down several times to work on other novels, but still enjoyed the stories when I got to them.

Book #863 - 347,319 Pages Read

The Hunt for Voldorius - Andy Hoare

Interesting book from the standpoint of the Raven Guard and the White Scars working in conjunction against the traitorous Alpha Legion, led by the Chaos-tainted Voldorius, but probably near the bottom of Warhammer books I've read from a quality of writing standpoint. I thought there was a bit too much fluff put in to describe how bombs were exploding, or missiles or bullets flying through the air, or similar descriptions of warfare, but overall still a good read.

Book #862 - 346,905 Pages Read

Abyss  - Troy Denning

Luke Skywalker continues to look for the reason why Jacen Solo turned to the dark side, which leads him and Ben to the old Maw Cluster where he has to submit to dangerous rituals in search for the truth. The Jedi Order continue to battle outside forces such as Galactic Alliance Chief of State Daala and Council Master Kenth Hamner in their quest to find out why Jedi are falling to an epidemic of madness. Han and Leia, along with Jaina, also try to protect these sick Jedi from being taken into custody. Eventually, Ben and Luke confront Sith forces bent on destroying them. Pretty decent book, but more of the same from the previous two, if not slightly better written. I'm hoping the Fate Of The Jedi series moves forward soon...