Trae Blain

Father. Engineer. Cyclist. Sexy. Sarcastic. Geek.

2013 Reading List (Part I)

So I succeeded in reading more books in 2013. My grand total is 47 according to GoodReads. That's great, especially since I only read like 7 books the previous year. So now how do I rate and discuss 47 books. I'll start with the few I already spoke about in this post and embelish a bit, then continue on to the rest of the books in follow-up posts. Hope you enjoy.

Previous Reviews, as Read Here

More Reviews

Swing Your Sword by Mike Leach

Swing Your Sword As a Texas Tech Alumni, I felt it my duty to read Swing Your Sword. I'm not saying it was a great read, but it was enjoyable. Leach is more intelligent than most people think, but he's also pretty crazy. The book takes a pretty dark (hehe) turn once he goes into the situation with Craig James and son. Honestly, based on DFW musings about Craig James, I'm more entitled to side with Leach on this whole issue...but that's beside the point. It's an interesting book with nothing more than you'd expect.

2 Stars

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Snow Crash Here's where I lose all my geek credibility. So, I'm not real sure what the big deal about Snow Crash is? It's often referred to as the "Preeminate Modern Geek/SciFi Novel" and is gushed over by many geeks. But I wasn't all that excited after I read it. Maybe the hype was the reason. It's a good book, albeit a bit excessive at times, but not type of book I'd put up there with Ender's Game or Jurassic Park (personally, the top SciFi novels of my generation). It's an interesting story and an excellent narrative. What if humans were as controllable as computers, if you only knew their programming language? Again, maybe overly hyped.

3 Stars

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay Ok! Yeah, I read the entire series! Mockingjay is actually pretty good. It actually had a thought thread, didn't rehash old narratives, and concluded the series with a sense of finality. It was very refreshing. Many novel series these days are strung out to 4-5 novels when the storyline doesn't support it or they end the series with vague hints at leaving things open for more. Mockingjay does neither. It finishes the story (even though a new story in the same universe is capable) and does so within the stories limits. I'd also venture that this one is the best of the 3. It appears that Collins really took to heart some criticism of the 2nd book and didn't make that mistake again. Props.

4 Stars

Xenocide by Orson Scott Card

Xenocide After reading the second Enderverse novel, I naturally picked up Xenocide, the 3rd in the series. And Card's writing really devolved over time. The original Ender's Game was so intricate and deep, and deals with hard issues like violence and adolescent growth. The follow-up, especially this one, appear to deal too much with politics and it is difficult to really show any empathy for a character. The previous novel had the pequininos and this one had an interesting child from a pseudo-Asian culture...and then a ton of words in between. It's just not all that good. It really feels like by the time Xenocide was written, Card's editor just gave him carte blanche on length and just fixed spelling mistakes. I really cannot see myself investing more time in Card's later works.

3 Stars

Dimension of Miracles by Robert Sheckley

Dimension of Miracles I picked Dimension of Miracles up on a whim and it was a enjoyable read. Dubbed: "The American Hitchhicker's Guide" I thought I'd give it a chance. And where it doesn't live up to a comparison to Douglas Adams' story, it is a worthy book on it's own. It is amusing, but not funny. Interesting, but not engrossing. Enjoyable, but not a favorite. It's worth picking up if you are interested in the genre. I'd also recommend getting the Audible audiobook version, as John Hodgman was the perfect reader for this type of story.

3 Stars

No Easy Day by Mark Owen

No Easy Day "The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden"??? Sign me up! I was actually really nervous about No Easy Day. Zero Dark Thirty was one of my favorite moves of 2013 and I was afraid the book would kill the movie for me. I was afraid of inaccuracies just making watching the movie again hard. But that didn't happen. It is a great read that flows like a novel. The story is crisp and contains just enough "side comments" to help fully understand the author's stance on issues, but not get in the way of the story. All in all an excellent read.

5 Stars

Killing Floor by Lee Child

Killing Floor Again after seeing a movie---Jack Reacher this time---I thought I'd give Lee Child a go. Killing Floor is the first novel in a long string of novels with the main character being Mr. Reacher. I can see how people like these books. I'll call it a "Romance Novel of the Mystery Genre". There's a macho protagonist that gets pulled into something he wants nothing to do with, corrupt businessmen and law enforcement, protagonist has hot girl falling all over him within 24 hours, bad guy diatribe, and explosions. The writing isn't bad, it's just all fluff...and I know people lap this stuff up.

2 Stars

The Last Command by Timothy Zahn

The Last Command I had to finish up the Thrawn series of the classic Star Wars expanded universe. And The Last Command is another great read. Just like the previous two, I'd have to say get the audiobook by Marc Thompson. His voices are impeccable. The story fits amazingly well within the ethos of the original trilogy and his characters are near perfect matches. If you want more of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, then look no further than these 3 novels. They are what all others should be graded against.

4 Stars

Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez

Kill Decision After reading Suarez's first two novels, I went ahead and grabbed his latest. Kill Decision is in a different vain, but keeps to the one thing that I felt set Suarez apart from other modern writers, details and accuracy. Kill Decision is an extremely well researched book. The items of technology that do exist today are extremely accurate and the "new technology" that are introduced are extremely plausible. This attention to detail sets this apart. The problem lies in the dialog. It's a bit campy at times and more than a few times the characters seem to act outside of the logic boundaries setup for them earlier in the book. But it is still a very interesting read.

3 Stars

American Sniper by Chris Kyle

American Sniper The late Chris Kyle was labeled the most lethal sniper in U.S. Military history. A term he is proud of although admits it was not because he was the best sniper, just the luckiest. American Sniper was not quite what I was expecting. The story of the most lethal sniper is rather boring in places. There are very interesting times and aspects, but the description makes you feel like you are about to read a story about a guy that could manipulate a bullet in flight to hit anything he pleases. But it's actually just a story about a guy that always was in the right place at the right time. Still and interesting read, there are great components like the toll it took on his family. This book should be read by any young man looking at a future in the military, it would serve them good. Highlights both the great and negative aspects of Kyle's time in the military.

3 Stars

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