* “The Armada by Garrett Mattingly”:amazon. Best. History. Book. Ever. Mattingly is a genius is at getting inside the heads of the main characters. What were the personal issues in their lives, the petty jealousies, the obligations, the ambition, and how did this all come together in their actions. I came out of the book feeling like I knew and admired the principal actors on all sides. The book also illustrates just how vital logistics and communications are in war — you’d have to say the spanish “lost” because of failures in these areas, not because of bravery or military tactics. Just a great book. You wonder if it could be written today — the author clearly takes some poetic license in describing the moods and feelings of characters — in the day of “a million little pieces”:amazon controversy, could a modern author do this? And yet this is what makes the book special.
* “Death at la fenice by donnna leon”:amazon. Solid mystery set in venice. Not quite as good at transporting to a new country as say “Martin Cruz Smith”:amazon, and the guilty party was fairly evident early on, but solid characters with depth. First in a series.
* “Seven types of ambiguity by elliot perlman”:amazon. What an intriguing swirl of characters and events. Misunderstandings, miscommunications, false assumptions, hidden feelings — they drive the story in a very unique way. A long read but compelling, I was driven to finish.
* “the wave by walter mosley”:amazon. classic science fiction — character stumbles across mysterious events which, when unveiled, explain the fundamental nature of the universe or of humanity. tries to be profound but pretty thin gruel, especially after just reading seven types of ambiguity. Contrast with…
* “Singularity sky by charles stross”:amazon. Reasonably good modern scifi. Fairly classic “humanity discovers strange artifact which reveals deeper nature of universe and changes everything” but handled deftly. Author doesn’t try to wrap up the entire nature of universe in one book but instead tells a natiural narrative and unveils some of the mystery.
* “Home Land by Sam Lipsyte”:amazon. I half hate, half love this book. A very inventive voice, spinning metaphors and similes left and right. An interesting construct and a universal theme. But poisoned with exteme profanity, seemingly just for shock value. Would have been better if he had invested more in character development and in exploring the construct of the book, rather than reverting to profanity.
* “A Feast For Crows by George R. R. Martin”:amazon. Contrast with jordan — martin is so much more engaging. Unlike your typical fantasy epic where all the heros live — they drop like flies in this series, and no one is purely good or evil. Yet martin keeps you engaged. This book was so long he had to split it in two and it shows — the book doesn’t quite hang together. But as part of the series it is fine.
Oh and a cool gift for a reader — the thumbthing.