Friday, April 1, 2016

March 2016 Reading List

I'm falling further behind in my goal to read 100 books this year.  I'm going to have to take a few weeks off and do nothing but read to catch up. Sounds appealing.

I subscribe to a daily email called Book Bub which suggests Kindle books to read based on my preferences. The books are at a deep discount, and sometimes free. This was a free one. The story concerns a group of people, living on a space station somewhere, who in their spare time, like to play on-line military games. The managed to crack into the space navy's military simulator and perform better than the actual military people using the simulator. Eventually they get caught and are given a choice, jail or take command of a new spaceship to be sent on a covert mission. The set-up is perhaps a bit preposterous but a rip-roaring story ensues. The story reads a lot like "Star Trek" but with interesting twists on standard si-fi technology. I rather liked it. In attempting to find a sequel I found that this was actual a prequel to a large collection of books, not necessarily about the same characters.

A large collection of latter day Sherlock Holmes stories written by an impressive list of authors, some of which you can see on the cover. The stories are narrated by Simon Vance, my favorite audio book narrator. Many of the stories were excellent. Each is prefaced by a quick bio of the author to help you understand the genre of the author. This is a long book taking up 16 CDs. By about the 12th CD, the stories were getting a bit repetitious so I ended up abandoning it.

It's been awhile since since the last Inspector Banks novel. This is the 22nd in the series and I've read them all.  This story is about a stolen tractor (a very expensive tractor) and a missing young man. Eventually the cases are intertwined and a horrific murder is added to the mix. These novels are always told from multiple viewpoints of various character who work with Banks. Banks almost takes a back seat in this story which is mainly carried forward by two characters, DI Annie Cabbot working the missing man case and Detective Sargent Winsome Jackman, working the tractor case.  It's a good story which moves Banks, Cabbot and Jackman along in their personal story arcs.

A small human colony has been founded on an alien planet with the sole purpose of finding an mysterious alien presence which had called out to individuals on Earth. It's been 50 years and they are no closer to understanding the alien in "The City" than when they arrived. A crisis point is reached when a second generation survivor of a crashed shuttle from the original landing shows up. Renata Ghali is the colony's technology expert and the colony is entirely depended on the 3D printers that she maintains. But she's got a problem. She's a hoarder who's house is full of defectively printed items that should have been recycled. Underneath all this is a giant lie about what happened when they first entered The City and what happened to the crashed shuttle.  Pretty interesting. The story is told by Renata and her OCD is a bit disturbing.

 This was a pretty good read. I guess you would classify this as urban fantasy, a genre I don't read much of. In this world there are four Londons, separated by magic. Red London is a fantastic place, full of good magic, where people use magic for good and just sort of let it flow. Gray London is pretty much like our world in the 1700s. No magic exists there. White London is a place full of desperate magic where people try to control magic. Black London is, well, nobody talks about Black London. The story concerns Kell of Red London, one of only two people, who can open doorways between the Londons. He comes in possession of an artifact from Black London that threatens to destroy the other Londons unless he can somehow get it back to Black London. It was a pretty good read. The rules of magic seemed to be consistent and the character were interesting. The first book of a series.

This is an advance reader's copy (or ARC) of this book which won't be published until August 2016. I got it for free from The story is told in first person by Jason Dessen who leads a quiet life in Chicago with his wife Daniela and 15-year-old son, Charlie. He teaches physics at a small college. Daniela does some free-lance graphics design work. Before they were married, both had promising careers, she as an artist, he as a physics researcher. But the birth of Charlie put an end to that. One night, while walking home from a celebration for a friend who just won a big award for physics, Jason is kidnapped and eventually knocked unconscious. When he awakes he finds himself in a similar but different world, where he had stayed in physics and had designed a device which allowed travel among the worlds in the multiverse. But he doesn't want this world and wonders among the worlds looking for his home. The book is about what it means to be an individual, and accepting the life you lead. It's about the regrets one has about decisions made during one's life. Jason's travels take him to many worlds which are close to his, some in which he finds Daniela but but it's not the same. Of course, he was kidnapped by the Jason who had built the device, but who missed the life he could have had if he married Daniela. Some things weren't clear. How did the kidnapper Jason manage to find his perfect world and return the narrator Jason to the world where the device was built? Since every world was a product of every decision point in everyone's life, there would be an infinity of worlds. The premise of finding your own world was to imagine your world before opening the door. Was the world behind the door based on some decision point in Jason's life? Why was the book called Dark Matter? Aside from these questions the book was well written and kept me interested in what was going to happen to Jason all the way through.

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