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Last year (2017), like most, I wasn’t exactly happy with the amount that I read. But hey, that’s how it goes – life often gets in the way and goals get pushed to the side. I was happy, however, that I finally read Dune. It had been on my list for a few years.

I must say, when it comes to this years reading list that I am a bit confused – or, maybe uncertain is a better word – on what to read. I have started way to many series and feel like I should focus and finish a few of them out before moving on to something that involves reading another new series. A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin is one such book that is on my list to read this year. Should I stop there? Or should a power read straight on through and continue my Game of Thrones journey by immediately starting A Feast for Crows? Like I said, I’m not sure. I love the Martin books but often, when I finishing any book I like to mix things up and move onto a new book and/or new author. Plus these books are often over a thousand pages…It makes me feel exhausted just thinking about it.

Green Mars is another such book series. I read Red Mars when I was in college, so it has been years – years! – since I read it, but I still I remember lots of the detail about that book, which is always a clue to me that I really enjoyed reading it. That’s not to say that I couldn’t go back and read it again and realize that I missed or forgot a lot of things.

Mars Life by Ben Bova is yet another. I read the first two books – Mars and Return to Mars – years ago. More then that, however, is that these series of books are only a part of a broader arc of books known as The Grand Tour series of which there are MercuryVenus, and Saturn just to name a few. Some of them I have read – and not in order – while still some are at home on my book shelf waiting to be read.

Finally, there are the Han Solo Adventures books by Brian Daily. While I realize that the books that came before Disney acquired the rights for Star Wars are now labeled as non-canon, that doesn’t mean the books aren’t still worth reading. And with the new movie coming out, what better way then to get hyped up by reading something from the Star Wars universe even if it isn’t relevant to the upcoming movie?

Hopefully there will be more books added to this list, and hopefully in the coming year I can do a better job and get off my ass and reading a little more. This could easily be accomplished by putting down my XBox one controller and picking up my Kindle instead. Small steps…small steps.

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the_human_divisionSo, like many years in the past few, I fell far short of reaching my reading goal. At list this year I had somewhat of an excuse such as planning my own wedding. And it didn’t help that project after project was piled onto one another at work. But that’s life.

There are, however, some books that I am reading as the year ends that I am hoping I will get mostly finished, if not completely finished, before the year is done. I have been trying lately, and hope to continue into the next year, reading two or three books at a time, but all concerning different subject matters and genres. For example I am currently reading The Human Division by John Scalzi. Scalzi is by far one of my favorite authors to emerge from the world of science fiction in the past few years. Also, in order to try and jump start my writing and creative side, I am reading Outlining Your Novel by K. M. Weiland. And lastly, because I am a history buff I am reading The Plantagenets by Dan Jones.

I find if I read two science fiction book at the same time, or two history book, things can, and often do,the_plantagenets bleed together. At least this way, reading a science fiction/fantasy book; a history book, and a how-to book will keep things at least separated in terms of writing style. And also, I have never been one to pick up a book and read it all the way through before starting the next book. I have always had my fingers in more than one book at any given time.

Hopefully with the end of the year approaching I will have a little down time so I can at least finish one or two of these books before moving onto the next year, but with family and friends in town as well as get-togethers, it remains to be seen how much I will get done. In any event, I hope everybody has a merry Christmas!

Later this week I will be taking a trip. I wish I could say it is a fun trip, although I’m not say that it won’t be. No, rather this is a trip to go visit my girlfriends mother in Seattle, whom I have never met before. Needless to say, I don’t know what to expect other than to expect the worst and hope for the best. What this also means is waiting in the airport; waiting for shuttles to show up and drop us off at the rental car place, not to mention waiting for fairies to take across the bay. In short, this means that there is going to be lots and lots of waiting, thus I must remember to bring a book…or two, or three.

For this trip I had to choose carefully. I am about to finish Into the Looking Glass by John Ringo, but am not entirely sure I want to jump right into the next installment of the series. Besides, I need to pack economically and being that the next is a hardcover, I’m thinking it will have to wait until I get back.

So, for this trip I have decided to bring two books that I think will be easy reads, not to mention light to carry.

The first is Stepsons of Terra by Robert Silverberg. Stepsons of Terra is a story about a colony that long ago colonized a planet far away from Earth, and now they have returned. Only, the Earth that they thought they were returning to doesn’t exist. The people of this far-future Earth are simple pleasure seekers and care nothing about what else is going on beyond its borders, not even if it threatens their way of life.

Next is Star Wars: Tales from the New Republic. Amongst the several short stories contained within this collection are several by Timothy Zahn and Michael A. Stackpole, two authors that have contributed tons to the Star Wars universe.

Hopefully this little vacation will be as relaxing as I hope and maybe I’ll be able to get some reading done.

Don’t judge me! I always wanted to say that. But I know what your thinking. Your thinking that I say I want to be a writing – a science fiction writer at that – and here I am reading books on how to be an erotic writer. Well, the truth is that you can’t have to many pencils in your pencil drawer. And what genre, whether it be science fiction, horror, crime, or fantasy, doesn’t have a little sex in it, hmmm? It’s what drives a lot of stories to go from something that is good to something that is great.

What would an old west outlaw do if he discovered that a massive treasure had been found and he knew with whom and where said treasure would be at a specific time? Try and steel it, of course!

This is the plot of Louis L’Amour‘s Catlow. Although the planned heist won’t be that easy, but then again it never is. It won’t be that easy because the treasure is found in a dry, inhospitable desert in Mexico. Which means that if the Mexician army – the people who found the treasure – don’t kill Catlow and his gang as they try to escape, the harsh environment surely will.

But that won’t stop Catlow. Even being chased by long-time friend and lawman – Ben Cowan won’t stop Catlow and his single-minded pursuit of a hidden Mexican treasure that is worth millions. The problem for Catlow is that Ben Cowan doesn’t give up that easy either, and more than wanting to bring Catlow to justice, he would also like to save Catlow from being hanged by the Mexican army in the event he gets caught trying to steel the treasure. While Catlow is convinced that he can get away scott-free, Ben is not.

There are many things that I loved about this story, but the thing that I love the most is how L’Amour set up the events and story line. I mean, who doesn’t love a story where character is pitted against character. Throw in a good ‘ol treasure hunt where the odds of success are almost nill and you have a ready-made recipe for a literary classic.

Rating (out of 5):

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