Category Archives: Fun Reads

Book review: Abandon

Book cover for Abandon by Blake Crouch

One of my favorite authors is Blake Crouch. Ever since reading the Wayward Pines trilogy, I’ve made an effort to keep at least one or two Crouch novels in my reading list at all times. So far, I haven’t met a Crouch novel that I didn’t like.

Abandon was the latest book of his that I read. It’s written in classic Crouch style. He doesn’t waste anytime drawing you into the story. He builds the characters on the fly. There’s also a lot of time shifting, which is another characteristic of his writing. There’s also a lot that’s different, which I liked.

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Book review: The Last Conversation

Book cover for The Last Conversation by Paul Tremblay

In somewhat of a coincidence, the last story left for me to read in Amazon’s Forward Series was The Last Conversation by Paul Tremblay. I didn’t plan it that way. It just kind of happened.

Reading a short story is different than reading a long form novel. The author has a limited amount of pages to develop characters and explore a topic. It means there are usually fewer characters, the pace of the plot tends to be faster, and the author leaves it up to you the reader to fill in more of the details. In a well written short story, the ending is typically a stunning plot twist or reveal – the more unexpected the twist, the better. It’s not unusual for the ending to be abrupt, lacking closure. One gets to use their imagination to create their own ending, or to debate possible endings with others who have read the book.

Some are put off by this format, but I like it, a lot.

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Book review: Bandwidth

Book cover for Bandwidth by Eliot Peper

I enjoy discovering authors, especially those who are somewhat new and under the radar. It provides a great source of new books for my reading list that I can generally trust. Every year, I like to have a book by these authors on my list.

I don’t have a long list of these authors. Names that come to mind are Hugh Howey, William Hertling, A.G. Riddle, Blake Crouch, and Daniel Suarez. There are also classic authors like William Gibson, Isaac Asimov, and Philip K. Dick.

I expect that I will soon be adding Eliot Peper to the list.

I first discovered his work in 2015 with the Uncommon Stock trilogy. I liked that trilogy, so I read his follow-up Cumulus, which was also quite good. When Bandwidth was made available for free through Amazon Prime’s First Reads for April 2018, it was an easy decision to grab a copy. It took me a while, but I finally got around to reading it at the end of last year.

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Book review: Ark

Book cover for Ark (Amazon Forward Series) by Veronica Roth

I’m a fan of the short story format. It’s impressive when an author tells a captivating story with well-developed characters in a condensed number of pages. I’ve also found it a great way to explore new authors to get a feel for their writing style.

So in the breaks between books on my reading list, I’ve been working through the short stories in the Amazon Forward series. I’ve read four of the six stories, and recently finished the 5th – Ark by Veronica Roth. If the author sounds familiar, she wrote the Divergent series of books that was made into a series of movies starting back in 2014.

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Book review: Emergency Skin

Book cover for Emergency Skin by N. K. Jemisin

When in between books on my reading list, I’ve been taking a break to explore the works in the Amazon Forward Collection. So far I’ve read Summer Frost by Blake Crouch, which I really liked, and Randomize by Andy Weir, which was decent. For my next selection, I chose Emergency Skin by N. K. Jemisin.

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Book review: The Energy Bus

Book cover for The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon

Business books are generally very dry. Most times it feels like you’re reading an academic textbook or business journal article. Now, I’m not saying that there’s anything fundamentally wrong with that style. You can learn a lot from a good business book. I just find that it’s more enjoyable and easier to read a business book that teaches its concepts through an engaging, interactive story.

The first business book I read that was written in this style was The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt. He used a fast-paced fictional story to show how his Theory of Constraints principles were applied to make a factory more efficient. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend reading it if you haven’t already. Since then, I’ve read a number of other business stories, including my latest read, The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon.

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Book review: Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue

Book cover for Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue by Hugh HoweyEver since reading Wool, I’ve been a fan of author Hugh Howey. I’ve read quite a few of his works including Sand, Beacon 23, Hurricane, Half Way Home, and numerous short stories. They vary in terms of genre, though he has a tendency to lean more towards science fiction, which is how I discovered him. What I find distinctive about his writing is how immersive and engaging his stories are. He has a knack for building vivid environments in your mind, developing relatable characters, and telling a story.

Every year, I do my best to have a least one Hugh Howey book on my reading list. For 2019, that book was Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue.

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Book review: Sourdough

Book cover for Sourdough by Robin SloanOne of my all-time favorite books is Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. I loved how he showed that life’s real adventures are the ones that don’t rely on technology. They occur when we connect with and engage our friends to help us solve problems and find the answers to what we’re looking for.

Given how much I liked his debut novel, I was looking forward to reading his second book, Sourdough, or Lois and Her Adventures in the Underground Market. It was released in 2017 and languished on my 2018 reading list. A nudge from one of my top recommendation sources, Brad Feld’s blog, nudged it to the top of my reading list earlier this year.

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Book review: Pandemic

Book cover for Pandemic by A.G. RiddleAs part of my reading, I like coming back to my favorite authors, of which A.G. Riddle is one. I’ve read and enjoyed his trilogy The Origin Mystery and his stand-alone novel Departure. Both were well written, action-packed, and contained enough near-term, hard science fiction concepts to keep my imagination engaged. Pandemic was the next A.G. Riddle work to make its way onto my reading list.

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Book review: Artemis

Book cover - Artemis by Andy WeirThe Martian is one of my all-time favorite books. I loved the near-term science fiction that seemed to cover all the intricate details of a manned mission to Mars. The first person narration from astronaut Nick Watney’s point of view was top notch as well. It felt like I was stranded on Mars with him.

When author Andy Weir came out with his second novel, Artemis, there was no question in my mind that I was going to read it. I was eager to see if he would tackle the challenge of establishing a colony on the moon with the same level of detail as he did a manned mission to Mars. I was also looking forward to being entertained, which certainly wasn’t an issue in The Martian. Let’s see how Weir did with his follow-on.

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