Sunday, February 2, 2014

Best Groundhog's Day Books

Merry Christmas, Folks!  
At least, it still is at my house.  My home continues to look quite festive and Christmas-y, although that Advent calendar has definitely worn out its welcome.  The dog just knocked the needlepoint stuffed Santa off his giant Santa Tin Canister perch for the hundredth time, and my wife has casually mentioned that whenever we get around to putting away Christmas, we will need to get out Valentines decorations.  Or Easter, depending what month it is.
Who the heck decorates for Valentine’s Day?  The Hallmark Family?
Besides, like any good red-blooded American man, I have excuses.
  • My work kicks into Screamin’ High Gear in November each year, and it hasn't yet calmed down. And for Pete's sake we are currently in February if I've done the math right.
  • I tore up another shoulder and can’t actually reach up and down to shelves and put stuff away up there.  It's the good shoulder this time. By which I mean the least recently injured shoulder, that before this injury was the most functional shoulder. Pretty soon I'm going to be driving with my teeth.
  • These backlogged books ain’t gonna read themselves, ya know.
So, yeah.  Exhausted, hurt, stared at accusingly by January Santas in all directions, I escape to my bookshelf and marvel at all the books I have bought with the best of intentions.  There are SO MANY, and that’s not even counting all the wee e-books clamoring for my attention inside my Google Play Books app, my Nook app, and my Kindle app.  
Last Saturday I decided it wouldn't hurt to take a day for myself and just read.  I was the first person awake in the morning, and the dog was my conspirator.  She and I picked out a long-neglected book (with actual dust on the dust jacket) and settled down on the sofa in front of the fire.
Last Saturday’s book:
The back story:  I am a huge fan of Orson Scott Card’s writing.  I will remain a fan of his writing no matter his politics.  I have read just about everything the guy’s written (except the series about Biblical women - everybody’s got their limit).
There have only been two books Card has written that I've NOT enjoyed - one was a well-written political / war book that was such a diatribe against the political Left that it got in the way of enjoying the book (I think he wrote a sequel to it, but I didn't read it), and a book called Invasive Procedures that I thought had some really good ideas, but otherwise was thoroughly disappointing.  
When I put on my rarely-used Critical Thinking Hat, I looked again at Invasive Procedures, which looks like this:
With the giant ORSON SCOTT CARD on top and the wee AND AARON JOHNSTON underneath.  So naturally, I blamed Aaron Johnston for the literary suckage, with my pouty lower lip pointed squarely at Scott Card, who let me read this trash because his name was so prominently displayed.
Fast-forward to now - I am standing here looking at Earth Afire, also written by Card and Johnston.  This book has squatted unread and unloved on my shelf for years, enough time for the sequel to have been released in 2013.  Now is its moment.
Despite my reservations, I started reading in the morning.  I finished in the afternoon.  
MY OFFICIAL REVIEW: It was good.  I liked it.  It wasn't the full-on mind-blowing Card experience.  It was Card Lite, with the Lite being Aaron Johnston trying his best to write like Card, who clearly has too many irons in the fire to write all of his own books.  Still, worth reading - and way better than nothing. Also, it was riveting and horrifying.

And then I read the sequel yesterday.  Earth Afire on Amazon

MY OFFICIAL REVIEW: It was good.  I liked it.  Still Card Lite, and still worth reading.  So much detail about how these things can take over and wreck a planet, with all the nation-states still trying desperately to hold onto their sovereignty instead of get it in gear and fight. Spellbinding and frustrating. But could a fella buy an ending, please?  I know there’s a third book coming, but this book just STOPS, like its mom yelled upstairs that it if she hears any more screwing around up there, she’s coming up with a wooden spoon!  The book just knocks it off.
I would read the third book in this series next week if I could.  
I am not the best book critic.  I am instead a good reader - my imagination fills in holes of which I am not even aware, and then sometimes I have to flip back and forth inside the chapter to fill in the blanks manually.  I had to do that more with these couple of books than with a Full Card Experience Book.  

You likely won’t see any posts from me next weekend.  The groundhog just came out of his den, saw my Christmas decorations, and laughed.  I think that’s my cue to make sure there aren't six more weeks of Santa.