Ty Johnston: life on the written page

Home to fantasy, horror and literary fiction author Ty Johnston

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Books read in 2018: No. 49 -- The Gideons International Guide Book: 2017-2018

from The Gideons International

Started: Sept. 13
Finished: Sept. 20

Notes: Perhaps you've heard of The Gideons International, the organization known for placing Bibles in hotels and motels and other locations. Yes, I happen to be a member. The organization does much more than put Bibles in hotels, however, including jail ministries, missionary work, etc. Though I've been a member for a while now, and though I've thumbed through this book somewhat, I've not yet set down and read the book from beginning to end, and I thought it high time I did.

Mini review: Mostly operating procedures here which likely wouldn't be of interest to the average reader, but it definitely helped me to understanding the workings of this organization of which I'm a member. Glad to have read it.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Books read in 2018: No. 48 -- The King in Yellow

by Robert W. Chambers

Started: Sept. 6
Finished: Sept. 13

Notes: This 1895 collection of weird short stories apparently had a huge influence upon Lovecraft and others who penned such tales in the early 20th Century. I've been meaning to read it for years but never could find an actual copy in any book stores. Then a few months back I stumbled across this free e-book version for the Kindle and snagged it up.

Mini review: This was an odd little book. The first half of it is of tales most definitely of the weird, though slightly so, almost hinting at madness instead of some true supernatural terror. However, the second half of this book is of tales of Americans and the French in Paris either during war time or during more peaceful times, focusing mainly upon young artists and their love interests, somewhat like what would appear decades later in the works of Hemingway and Fitzgerald. For its time this is a decently written book, and I found the tales of madness and the macabre more interesting, but I'm not sure I could recommend this one for any but those who truly want to delve into the earliest tales of the weird and possibly Cthulu fans.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Books read in 2018: No. 47 -- The Reavers of Skaith: Volume 3 of The Book of Skaith

by Leigh Brackett

Started: August 28
Finished: Sept. 6

Notes: Having just finished the first two books in the series, loving the first but not so much the second, I thought I'd finish this trilogy. Hopefully the last book will more mirror the first than the second book.

Mini review: I liked the first book in this series, a little less the second book, then this third book did something on the very first page that almost made me throw it across the room. Can you guess what it is? Beware, here's your SPOILER warning before I tell what it is. Okay? Ready? On the very first page, this book totally went back and made all of the events from the first two books completely pointless. I hate when authors do that crap! Otherwise, the writing is fair here and the characters interesting, but I was glad when it was over. Still, there was enough here so I wouldn't turn up my nose at reading more Brackett in the future.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Books read in 2018: No. 46 -- The Hounds of Skaith: Volume 2 of The Book of Skaith

by Leigh Brackett

Started: August 20
Finished: August 28

Notes: I've just finished the first book in this trilogy and enjoyed it, so I'm moving on to the second book.

Mini review: I can't say I enjoyed this one as much as I did the first book of the trilogy, mainly because the story here seemed so disjointed. After Stark's triumph from the first book, here he continues on his war against the Wandsmen of the planet Skaith and their mercenaries and their army of Farers. The writings itself here is pretty solid, but the plot didn't work so well for me and I felt many of the important characters from the first book were brushed aside here with little to do.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Books read in 2018: No. 45 -- The Ginger Star: Volume 1 of The Book of Skaith

by Leigh Brackett

Started: August 16
Finished: August 20

Notes: All my Robert E. Howard-related reading of late has got me in the mood for more action-driven fantasy, so I thought I'd give Leigh Brackett another try. I've not read a lot of Brackett, so I'm hoping for a nice surprise. As luck would have it, I found all three of the books in this trilogy together at a used book store some while back, so maybe the gods were telling me I need to read this series.

Mini review: This was a pleasurable read with a surprise ending that made sense while leaving the door open for the next book in the series without resorting to a cliffhanger. Technically science fantasy, all the story here takes place in something of a post-apocalyptic fantasy world of low tech and some relatively minor magic. But the stars and the spaceships beyond them are beginning to intrude upon this world, and the powers-that-be are not liking it. An emissary of sorts from a galactic federation has been sent to this world, but he has gone missing, and that is where the story begins, with Brackett's Eric John Stark character sent to find this emissary or to discover what has happened to him. Despite the otherworldly backdrop to the story, it really does keep its focus on a barbaric fantasy world that is falling apart. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Books read in 2018: No. 44 -- Conan the Barbarian

by Michael A. Stackpole

Started: August 12
Finished: August 15

Notes: This is the novelization for the more modern Conan movie that came out some few years ago. I have not seen the movie and had not planned to after hearing quite a few bad things about it. However, I won this book at a raffle for only a dollar at Howard Days this summer, and the reason it drew my interest was the author. I know Stackpole is generally well regarded and I've never read anything of his, so this should be a learning experience if nothing else.

Mini review: The plot was rather mundane and most of the characters lackluster, but that's not the fault of this author, just the fault of a mediocre screenplay. The writing itself was actually pretty strong, though there were a few places where it was difficult to tell what was actually happening, but I blame this one also on a not-so-great screenplay. Though a novelization, Stackpole's writing impressed me enough that I wouldn't balk from reading more of his work.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Books read in 2018: No. 43 -- Adventures in Science Fantasy

by Robert E. Howard

Started: August 6
Finished: August 11

Notes: Yep, this is another book I picked up at Robert E. Howard Days, this one from The Robert E. Howard Foundation Press.

Mini review: This has some pretty good stories in it, but I didn't find it as entertaining as Pictures in the Fire, the other book I've read from The Robert E. Howard Foundation Press. Like that other book, most of the stories here were ones not published during Howard's lifetime, and that's understandable as some of this was not his best work and some of it was from his youngest days. The one standout tale for me was Almuric, originally serialized in Weird Tales magazine in 1939. The science in these tales does not hold up to our understanding today, but that's to be expected. And despite my not enjoying this book as much as the earlier one, it's still a pretty good read and a must for any true Howard fan.