Jan 22, 2010

Book notes

I'm a fairly avid reader. One of the great things about the house we bought was the ten-foot-wide set of built-in book cases. They're full. Admittedly, the top shelf is full of liquor, and the cabinets underneath are full of ammo, but otherwise, it's all books. And that's not all of them - there are at least a couple boxes of books still floating around waiting to be unpacked. Fiction, non-fiction. Reference. Classics. Modern authors. It's all there - and if you're not able to find SOMETHING you like on our shelves, then you're likely dead.

Having no TV reception and not paying for satellite increases the amount of reading we do - even with a large collection of movies, I will far more often turn on a lamp and read a book than the idiot box and a movie. The only thing that changes is the book in my hands and my location in the house as the seasons change. Summer and fall I can be found on the deck, cold drink on the patio table and sun over my shoulder. Winter, I'll be on the couch near the stove, mug of hot something on the coffee table. Springtime, I expect I'll be on the window seat in the guest bedroom, a temperature-appropriate drink within easy reach.

My parents have a habit of gently feeding this addiction (rightfully so, as they're the ones who started it in the first place), either by buying books they think I'll like (high on the best ever list is Requiem: Images of Ground Zero) or giving me a gift card for a book store. The only trouble I ever have spending those gift cards is narrowing down the stack of books to fit the card. MrsZ and I have left Barnes & Noble with a receipt in the low three-figure range more than once.

Christmas saw another gift card arrive, and I moseyed along to B&N when I had a few moments free. I brought home two books: The Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove, and Time Spike by Eric Flint and Marilyn Kosmatka.

I'd heard good things about "Guns" before. The short premise: it's 1864. The Army of North Virginia is in rough shape after a hell of a bad year, including Gettysburg. A stranger shows up in camp and brings a new rifle to Robert E. Lee. This rifle is ... the AK-47. The entire Confederate Army is equipped with AKs and wins the War of Northern Aggression. The rest, as they say ... is history. It's a fast-paced read, and draws you in to the story. Absolutely worth the eight bucks, particularly if you're even a little bit into Civil War history.

I took a chance on "Time Spike". It's published by Baen Books, the same folks who printed Larry Correia's Monster Hunter International. It's got a dinosaur, a conquistador, and a prison on the cover. It seemed like a fair bet. Premise: through some kind of (un?)natural disaster, a certain geographic area is compressed in time. A modern high-security prison, Hernando de Soto, the Cherokees on the Trail of Tears, a fair portions of the Mounds people ... and oh yeah, dinosaurs ... sharing one small piece of the world at one time. Interesting concept, good story ... but some of the writing feels undeveloped. Extraneous plot elements that get wrapped up very suddenly, leaving you saying, "Wait ... what? Why?" It's worth a library visit, but probably wouldn't buy it again. I'll be checking into the author's other works via the library.

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