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.. and no, I'm not talking about Himself. I'm talking about the latest Penguin Newsletter listing their picks for the top 10 "essential" books. I don't feel too bad - I'm 5 for 10.

http://us.penguingroup.com/static/pages/features/tenessentialclassics/index.html
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... why I fell, and stayed, in love with sci-fi, fantasy, etc.

"Back in the 1900s, it was a wonderful experience for a boy to discover H.G. Wells. There you were, in a world of pedants, clergymen and golfers…and here was this wonderful man who could tell you about the inhabitants of the sea, and who knew that the future was not going to be what respectable people imagined." - George Orwell
galdrin: (Default)
Well, I finally broke down and did it.

I have a couple of weeks of vacation time to burn before I lose it Sept. 1st, so I've been taking every Friday off in July and August (with a 4-day weekend scheduled the 1st weekend of August to take care of my "floating holiday".

Well, this past weekend I decided to go all the way down to Frisco Mall and try and get a bonsai tree for Joyce's office - a sort-of congratulations on her new position. Well, the bonsai 'store/cart' was no longer there, so I thought I would swing by Buns & Noodle and pick up a book or two (Elizabeth Bear's Blood and Iron and Whiskey and Water or at least just look. After all, I'd come a heck of a long way.

Walking into B&N, I found that David Weber's By Schism Rent Asunder (which I had been waiting for) was already out - contrary to Amazon's stated Tue. 22JUL08 release date. So I went ahead and picked up a copy off the shelf. After a closer inspection of the two Bear novels, I decided to pass on them and made my way down to the American History section.

I was looking for a number of things there. I had been seriously considering a special treat to myself and wanted to take a look at Shelby Foote's 3-volume The Civil War: A Narrative trade paperback boxed set. At the same time, I was interested in checking out David McCullough's 1776, Robert Middlekauff's The Glorious Cause and John Ferling's Almost a Miracle. I wanted to find something comparable to Foote's 3-volume Civil War set, only dealing with the American Revolution, which I find a more interesting subject. Ouch - the price tag on Foote's stopped me in my tracks and made me put everything back and walk out to give the whole idea a second thought.

As I got back in the truck and headed back home, I thought that I should probably have gone ahead and picked up the Weber novel. Knowing I have to go by Vista Ridge Mall on the way home ... and that there's a Border's right there (which is where I usually go for books anyway) ... I decided to stop and at least grab a copy of Weber's new book. After pulling one off the shelf, I walked over to their American History section to take a look at what they had. I picked up Middlekauf's book and Ferling's book again and compared the two in detail to see which one suited my interest - deciding I liked the Ferling book's content better. Then I spy Foote's boxed-set sitting on the lower shelf. Tell you what - from now on Border's is going to get all my business. Typically, the prices at Border's and Buns & Noodle are pretty comparable, but in this case I found that Foote's boxed-set was $40 cheaper at Border's. So I walked out with the Weber, the Ferling, the Foote, and a big smile. Yay me !!!
galdrin: (Cernunnos)
According to Endicott Studios, today is World Book Day in the UK and Ireland and besides outlining the activities taking place over there to celebrate, Endicott asked what your favorite book of the year is so far.

It is an election year and during election years I always try and re-read The General's President by John Dalmas and David's Sling by Marc Stiegler. If I can't fit them both in, I always go with the Dalmas book. 'Nuff said.

In the new/recent works category - like everyone else I quickly snatched up both volumes of The Orphan's Tales duo-logy by Catherynne Valente as soon as they became available. The only decent, and refreshingly original, adult mythic fiction/fantasy I've seen come out recently. Everything else I've seen to date is all YA or children's book oriented. Sorry, but at 50+ years old I have no patience for anything that juvenile any more, so I've seen nothing of interest on that side of the fence. Not that I don't keep watch for the occasional gem that may get mislabeled.

Surprisingly, this year found me back among the science fiction stacks after a very long absence.

This year I read one of the best, IMHO, novels I have had an opportunity to read in a long time, Off Armageddon Reef by David Weber. A fascinating story that sucked me in with its premise as well as some light Arthurian frosting. I was so intrigued that I even sprang for the hardcover edition, which I rarely ever do. It was such an excellent novel, I do not begrudge the added expense and am anxiously awaiting the sequel, By Schism Rent Asunder due out in July 2008.

With a nod to Edgar Rice Burroughs, S.M. Stirling turned out The Sky People. Again, it has been such a great idea that I'm happy I bought the hardcover edition and I am more than ready for its sequel, In the Courts of the Crimson Kings which is due out in a week or so.

And, I've gotten hooked on Jack Campbell's 'The Lost Fleet' (TLF) series, TLF: Dauntless, TLF: Fearless, and TLF: Courageous. Luckily, TLF: Valiant comes out the end of June 2008.

Not necessarily on the 'new' list ... Tad Williams turned out a pretty decent story with War of the Flowers, and I was fortunate to acquire all three volumes of Jeffrey Barlough's 'Western Lights' series, Dark Sleeper, The House in the High Wood, and Strange Cargo. All excellent reads.

Currently I am about half way through Earth by David Brin, which had so much criticism attached to it that I simply had to read it. And finally, I am one chapter short of finishing The Engines of God by Jack McDevitt.

In the wings, and while I await the Weber and Stirling sequels, I've got Dust by Elizabeth Bear scheduled next, and I found TPB editions of both Threshold and Low Red Moon by Caitlin McKiernan at Half Price Books. If only Alabaster were to become similarly available.

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