May and June 2013 in Review

May and June were very slow reading months for me. I’ve pounded that home plenty over the past few posts. But, even though I didn’t read as much, I still read some. I’m looking forward to getting back on the reading wagon in July. I’ve got big plans, big plans I say!

The books I read in May and June:

My favorite book of this batch was far and away World War Z. Everything about it had me hooked from the first page all the way to the last page. I loved the format and I loved the way that format forced me to imagine the world around the characters being interviewed on the fly as I was reading.

My least favorite? Oh, that’s easy. The Great Gatsby, hands down. The book was boring, flat, pointless, and even now, weeks later, I can’t figure out what the point of writing it was. Yet, it’s considered one of the greatest books ever written. Sure…

What’s on tap for July? Well, I want to keep working down the pile of books on my Kindle, most assuredly all of the David Dalglish books I’ve yet to read. I may also try to sneak in Caliban’s War and Abbadon’s Gate if I can find the time for a couple of lengthy books. I might also see if I can plow through the Percy Jackson books.

My end goal is 15 books read in July, which is a pretty meaty goal. It would go a long way towards catching me up though.

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Book Review: “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The mysterious Jay Gatsby embodies the American notion that it is possible to redefine oneself and persuade the world to accept that definition. Gatsby’s youthful neighbor, Nick Carraway, fascinated with the display of enormous wealth in which Gatsby revels, finds himself swept up in the lavish lifestyle of Long Island society during the Jazz Age. Considered Fitzgerald’s best work, The Great Gatsby is a mystical, timeless story of integrity and cruelty, vision and despair.

The Great GatsbyMost of my family and friends read The Great Gatsby during high school or during one of their early college courses. I, however, did not. I’m not sure why or how I managed to get so far in life without reading the book, but it happened and last weekend I decided I might as well read it because so many people say its such a great book.

Well, guess what? I found it to be completely lacking any sort of point or worthwhile plot. It only took me a couple of hours to read (it isn’t a long book), so I was able to capture the entire picture all at once from start to finish. When I turned the last page I sat up and said to myself, “Well, I must not be getting something about this book because I found it to be pretty unremarkable and forgettable.” There was absolutely nothing in The Great Gatsby that felt even a little bit compelling for me.

Now, we all know I tend to have trouble understanding the “deeper meaning” often hidden in the pages of classic books everyone thinks are amazing. So, I’m willing to admit that I have probably missed the point while reading this one. Someone will have to explain to me why a forgettable viewpoint character who hangs onto high society through his association with the supposedly mysterious Gatsby while Gatsby reveals his true intentions of winning back a lost love is such a great story.

There is nothing interesting about Nick Carraway. He’s the guy who lives next door to Jay Gatsby. That’s about it. He knows various people around town and spends a lot of time hanging around at their homes, but that’s it.

Gatsby is only a mystery for about the first half of the book and then he devolves into nothing more than a guy who is using ill-gotten means to steal a married woman from her husband. He even goes about doing so in the most illogical way possible, thinking that his social status and endless money will just make Tom Buchanan accept what Gatsby has decided. For me all of it felt forced and contrived.

Not even the ending could save the story from mediocrity. It was telegraphed from a mile away what the ultimate fate of Gatsby and the other characters would be. There was no surprise and no hook that made me sit up and think.

I just don’t get it. The quality of the actual writing is great, as would be expected from someone of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s pedigree, but the story just seems pointless. Was it the time period in which it was written that gave the book such weight for people? That’s the only explanation I can come up with.

Length: 193 pages

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Top 10 Tuesday: My Summer TBR List

I’m hoping that I have a lot more time to read this summer than I had this past spring. Life got a little crazy and left me with very little time to sit and read, especially since I don’t ride a train to and from work for an hour each direction anymore. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t still have a list of books I desperately want to read before the leaves start to hit the pavement and the temperatures start to fall.

first-covers

Caliban’s War and Abbadon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey
The second and third installments of The Expanse. I absolutely loved the first book because it was a breath of fresh air in a world full of very similar science fiction novels. The tag-team duo known as James S.A. Corey had me hanging on every word in the first book of the series, Leviathan Wakes. Besides, the titles are super-cool!

Empire State by Adam Christopher
I’ve had this book on my Kindle for months now and just haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. I’ve heard good things though, so I need to bite the bullet and get it done before long, otherwise I’ll just let it sit and wait forever.

King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
The first book in this trilogy, Prince of Thorns, both mesmerized and terrified me at the same time. I’m hoping that this follow-up does the same and more.

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Vol’jin: Shadows of the Horde by Michael A. Stackpole
One of my favorite authors, mixed with my absolute favorite computer game, with the added bonus of focusing on my favorite in-game character? Oh yes, I’m definitely going to grab this one on release day.

Fair Coin by E.C. Myers
I’ve heard nothing but spectacular things about this book and I feel its time I finally got around to reading it to see what everyone is talking about.

Inferno by Dan Brown
The latest addition to the already popular franchise. I’ve read the previous three books that lead up to this one and at this point I don’t see a reason not to stay current when new additions are added to the pile.

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The Shadowdance Trilogy by David Dalglish
This is yet another prequel series to Dalglish’s Half-Orcs series that focuses on the backstory to one of the main characters from Half-Orcs. They should be quick and enjoyable for passing time during the summer months.

Up Next: “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great GatsbyI absolutely plowed through World War Z in the past couple of days and now I need to pick a new book to read. It’s been a little while since I read any of the classics and because I’m a little behind on my reading goals for the year I figured The Great Gatsby would be a good choice. It’s widely considered to be one of the best books a person can read, and, on top of that, it weighs in at just about 200 pages. I should be able to finish it pretty quickly and make some headway on my goal.

Granted, I know nothing about this book. It might be a romance, a thriller, a mystery, or all of them rolled into one. We didn’t read this book in high school like so many other people and I’ve never had anyone explain to me what it’s about. So, I’m going in blind and hoping that I don’t regret the decision.

April 2013 in Review

I’m officially behind now. Ideally I would have at least 35 books finished with reviews already written by the last day of April. Instead, I have 30 books complete and probably not even half that number in reviews written for them. It’s been a rough start to the year for me and blogging. Moving, work, life, everything seems to get in the way right now. I hope it’s just a minor funk that I can break out of soon when stuff begins to slow down a little bit.

But, despite the fact that I’m behind on both reading and blogging I finished a decent pile of books in April and even discovered a couple of new series that I’m anxious to get back to in the near future. Perhaps that will provide me with the motivation I need to get back on track.

Here’s the comprehensive list of the books I finished in April:

I hit just about every point of the spectrum with these books. There were some I loved, some I had a hard time finishing, and some that I’m simply on the fence about. The ones I loved were Midshipman’s Hope and Gabriel: Zero Point, two science fiction offerings that are the first books in an already established series. I have pretty high hopes for where those authors are going to take me when I get back to the rest of their work.

Breathe and Mind Over Monsters really left me hanging. Both of these books had good concepts, both of them had great ideas, but my honest thought after finishing each of them was, “Dang, if only this had been the fifth book this author wrote instead of their first. Then their writing would have been more polished and up to the task of really doing the concept/idea justice.” A somewhat arrogant thought to be sure, but that’s how I felt. Like they had all the right pieces but either inexperience or something else was just enough to keep them from sliding them together correctly.

I was 50/50 on Scalzi’s The Human Division over the past couple months reading the weekly episodes. Some of them I absolutely loved, some of them I found entirely uninteresting, and the rest I was simply comfortable with. I’ll get into my thoughts on how his experiment with an episodic format worked or didn’t work for me in another post down the road.

And, as far as 11/22/63 goes, I just don’t know. I’ve now read two Stephen King novels and I really can’t tell you if I like him or not. He’s got good ideas, good writing skill, but part of me says something important is missing in how he presents his stories. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m simply missing the point entirely with his books. I’ll keep giving him a chance until I can firmly plant myself on one side of the fence or the other with him.

For May I have big plans to both get caught up to where I’m supposed to be for the reading challenge as well as to get 100% caught up on my reviews written. Beyond that I’d love to get everything on my Kindle read and have a chance to plan out what I want to read next. I want to start focusing on finishing one series at a time for the rest of the year with a few standalone novels mixed in between series as my interest warrants.