Eight days a week

As you’ve heard, I like to read a lot, and I read just about all kinds of books.  I have a bad habit of reading long into the night, and am quite tempted during the day to break for a bit of reading.  You could almost say I read eight days a week.  I can’t, it’s impossible, but it can feel that way sometimes, especially when you’ve read late into the night and are zombie like the next day.  Time seems to drag, and the day seems longer, which may make for a long week.

Last time we met, I had mentioned that I had finished reading “Bad Radio” by Michael Langlois.  Funny thing language, it tends to define how you read other’s names, when I first looked a the book, I read Michel Langlois, a good French Canadian name, but then I looked at it again, and saw that Michel was indeed Michael, and he appears to be an English bloke from the US.  Reminds me to go back to that thought of not speed reading, you assume too much.

Bad Radio was one of those books where the blurb you read about it doesn’t tell you very much, and the cover image even less.  I’m not sure what I expected when i decided on this book, but I sure wasn’t disappointed.  It’s a supernatural thriller, but not in the way of the ones you’ve heard of lately, it’s not a case of vampires, or werewolves.  This is a supernatural thriller of eternal youth brought on by aliens.  So, a sci-fi/fantasy book with evil monsters from outer space.

And it’s a good one.  Abe is the main character given eternal youth during the second world war, although it’s not clear if he’s truly eternal, or maybe just having a very slow aging process.  After the war, he continues to live with his wife, has no children, and tries to keep himself removed from society, lest his secret be revealed.  Having outlived his wife, he’s on the verge of ending it all before he outlives everyone.  Then history comes back to haunt him, and he’s forced to face those same demons he once faced during the war, to finally bring an end to the creature that escaped him then.

Its one of those books you wonder at, what else could this author come out with, and when can I get my hands on it.  Soon, very soon indeed.

But I also read a different sort of book, one called “Final Arrangements” and I have to admit it was a spur of the moment thing to pick it up, and it was picked up because I needed something out of the ordinary to read.  For someone who reads a lot, it can be easy to find yourself in a rut, reading the same types of books all the time, so you have to occasionally look for something different.  Final Arrangements by Donna Huston Murray definitely fits into that category for me.

The book starts off quite slowly, though it is a murder mystery, you don’t really get enough of a glimpse into the victim.  You hardly get to know anything about her, other than she bullies the protagonist for the few pages she is present for, and then she is killed.  Another issue is the general pace of the book.  It seems to plod for almost half of the book before anything really happens.  It’s slower than I’m accustomed to when reading mystery novels, but I suppose that’s not a reason not to like a book.  Except it almost caused me to put it down.

In the long run, I’m glad I held out and continued reading.  The characters may have not been fully developed, but their situations proved to be believable and involved.  These things could happen to anyone, and felt real, so I found myself rooting for them in spite of myself.  I wouldn’t call it an amazing book, but it was definitely a good read.  I do have one big problem though, any good mystery will lead you on with some misdirection, until finally revealing the truth, but this one leave out bits and pieces that would have made it better, and possible, for the reader to solve the mystery.

I’ll be back again in a little while when I finish reading “Noble Beginnings” by LT Ryan.  It’s a cia/military mystery thriller, and so far, I’m enjoying the twists and turns.

Speed reading versus taking your time.

Lots of folks wish they could speed read, that is, get to the end of a document in as little time as possible, and while I admit this may have it’s benefits, it also has quite a few drawbacks.

First, let’s consider some of the benefits, which include actually finishing what you’re reading, that’s the primary one most of us are looking at when speed reading, and pretty much the only real reason to do speed reading, right?  I can’t think of any other reason.

Ok, that’s the only benefit, I think anyway, you get to finish the document much faster than say you read each and every word on the page.  By speed reading, you intentionally skip over words in order to get the core information to you, which in most cases is what you want.  But in a lot of cases, skipping over those “unimportant” words in a sentence changes the flavour of the writing, and leaves a little out.  So speed-reading isn’t really a pleasure thing, now is it?  It’s for getting the most information into your head in as little time as possible.  But no matter how much the speed readers say it, they don’t get everything, they miss much.  Technical and teaching documents are already written in a way that leave out unnecessary words, and focuses on explaining and making easy to understand what is being discussed.  So skipping a few words here and there will cause you to miss things.

Other negatives, or at least the one that I’m concerned with, if you’re speed reading, you’re running out of material far too fast!  I love reading, so I read a lot, and not fast, I take my time and enjoy the ebb and flow of the prose.  It’s fun!  Which is why I seem to sometimes take a longish time in between writing up in this blog. You see, I do have an excuse!

This past month I read through 3 books, one which was a nice throwback to my days playing AD&D with my friends.  Remember that game?  Where you got together physically with people in the same room to play an RPG, and you used your imagination?  Well, “Critical Failures” is a book by Robert Bevan which pulls you back to your RPG roots and then throws you for a loop.

4 Friends who play Caverns and Creatures decide they all want to play, and not need to have one “sit out” as the Game Master, so they invite a fellow who is supposed to be a pretty darn good Game Master for a friendly night of RPGing.  Little do they know, their light-hearted jabs and fooling around would get them pulled through to a real world of Knights, Knaves and assorted Creatures!  Their Game Master doesn’t take lightly to the teasing, and through the use of some magic dice, sends them through the looking glass to a world where they ARE the creatures they were playing.  They have to deal with a very real threat to their lives, and the accidental inclusion of the older sister that doesn’t get along with them, and the almost-boyfriend who suddenly finds  himself as a footballer-turned-bard.  Hilarity and confusion ensues.

It was a great read though, playful and fun, I really enjoyed the trip down memory lane, an the unexpected turn of events.  The book does have a sequel or two, and will probably spawn a few more.

I also read an end-of-the-world tale that started out reminding me of Stephen King’s “The Stand” and morphed into A.C. Crispen’s “V”.  “Breakers,” by Edward W. Robertson begins with two men, on opposite sides of the country, who are survivors of a massive plague that has taken the lives of many of their loved ones.  They cross paths as one leaves the east coast for the west, in honor of his departed love.  On his way from the East Coast, Walt finds out that lawlessness rules many areas of the country, with a few enclaves that barely tolerate the presence of outsiders.  Learning to be equipped and prepared to fight for survival if necessary.  En route, he discovers that the earth has been invaded by aliens, which is the probable source of the plague that has killed most of the human life on the planet.

Raymond (woohoo! cool name that one!) is on the west coast when all hell breaks loose, and he, along with his girlfried Mia, decide to find a place that is undamaged and hold up with as much provisions as possible and a garden in the back yard.  This works wonderfully up until the aliens decide to sweep down and try to finish off with firepower what the plague failed to do.  Learning of an Resistance movement, they try to join with them to fight back.

It’s at this point that Walt, Raymond and Mia meet up and find that the resistance movement is mostly gone, they decide to do what they can to pick off as many aliens as possible, before bad things start to happen to them leaving them separated again, with Walt on a mission to take down the mothership (apparently only one in this version of V) and Raymond working to find a way to launch a few icbm’s to destroy them.

It was a good book, lots of insight into the human mind, and  how we can turn a bad thing into something worse, or, if on the right track, make it better.

The last book was “Bad Radio”, by Michael Langlois, but I’ve written enough for one day, I’ll get back to that one next week, along with the current book I’m reading called “Final Arrangements” by Donna Huston Murray.  (yes, I read all kinds!)