4 & 5 Star SciFi and Fantasy Reads of 2018

Here is my annual post to list the top rated (by me) books I read each year.  For 2018, these include both books I read and listened to, as well as, novellas and short stories.  I pulled this info from my Goodreads profile.  Needless to say, all of these are highly recommended.

5 Star:

  • Hand of Mars (Starship's Mage #2) by Glynn Stewart

  • Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

  • Uncompromising Honor (Honor Harrington #14) by David Weber

  • The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth #3) by N.K. Jemison

  • Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

4 Star:

  • Children of the Nameless (Novella) by Brandon Sanderson

  • Cartwright's Cavaliers (The Revelations Cycle #1) by Mark Wandrey

  • Air Awakens (Air Awakens #1) by Elise Kova

  • Dominator (Vicky Peterwald #4) by Mike Shepherd

  • Kris Longknife's Relief: Grand Admiral Santiago on Alwa Station (Kris Longknife #15.6) by Mike Shepherd

  • Through Hell Should Bar the Way (Lt. Leary #12) by David Drake

  • Admiral (Kris Longknife #16) by Mike Shepherd

  • Persepolis Rising (The Expanse #7) by James S. A. Corey

What am I looking forward to in 2019? Same questions as the previous couple of years: where is the Song of Ice and Fire #6 Winds of Winter, The Kingkiller Chronicle #3,  and Gentleman Bastard #4?  Looking forward to Through Fiery Trials by David Weber, Tiamat's Wrath by James S.A. Corey, Siege of Stone by Terry Goodkind, and ANYTHING by Brandon Sanderson (Starsight?, Wax & Wayne #4).

Copy of 4 & 5 Star SciFi and Fantasy Reads of 2017

Here is my annual post to list the top rated (by me) books I read each year.  For 2017, these include both books I read and listened to, as well as, novellas, short story's and re-reads.  I pulled this info from my Goodreads profile.  Needless to say, all of these are highly recommended.

5 Star:

  • Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (Alcatraz #1) by Brandon Sanderson

  • Gateway (Heechee Saga #1) by Frederick Pohl - reread

  • City of Miracles (The Divine Cities #3) by Robert Jackson Bennett

  • The Sunset Warrior (The Sunset Warrior Cycle #1) by Eric Van Lustbader - reread

4 Star:

  • The Little Ships ( Alexis Carew #3) by J.A. Sutherland

  • We Are Legion (Bobiverse #1) by Dennis E. Taylor

  • For We Are Many (Bobiverse #2) by Dennis E. Taylor

  • All These Worlds (Bobiverse #3) by Dennis E. Taylor

  • Starship Mage: Ominbus (Starship Mage #1) by Glynn Stewart

  • The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1) by N.K. Jemisin

  • The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth #2) by N.K. Jemisin

  • The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library #1) by Genevieve Cogman

  • A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (Wayfarer's #1) by Becky Chambers

  • Death's Mistress (Sister of Darkness: The Nicci Chronicles #1) by Terry Goodkind

  • Skullsworn by Brian Staveley

  • Pilot X by Tom Merritt

  • Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection by Brandon Sanderson

  • The Tale of the Wicked (short story) by John Scalzi

What am I looking forward to in 2018? Same questions as last year: where is the Song of Ice and Fire #6 Winds of Winter, The Kingkiller Chronicle #3,  and Gentleman Bastard #4?  Already reading Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3).  Next is Persepolis Rising (The Expanse #7), Shroud of Eternity (Sister of Darkness: The Nicci Chronicles #2).

4 & 5 Star SciFi and Fantasy Reads of 2016

Here is my annual post to list the top rated (by me) books I read each year.  For 2016, these include both books I read and listened to, as well as, novellas, short story's and re-reads.  I pulled this info from my Goodreads profile.  Needless to say, all of these are highly recommended.

5 Star:
The Last Mortal Bond (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne #3) by Brian Staveley
The Dispatcher by John Scalzi
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The Rook The Checquy Files #1) by Daniel O’Malley
A New Hope: The Princess, The Scoundrel and the Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken

4 Star:
Blood Song (Ravens Shadow #1) by Ryan Anthony
Tower Lord (Ravens Shadow #2) by Ryan Anthony
Queen of Fire (Ravens Shadow #3) by Ryan Anthony
Firstborn by Brandon Sanderson
Calamity (Reckoners #3) by Brandon Sanderson
Marauder (The Shoal Sequence #4) by Gary Gibson
Shattered Spear (The Lost Starts #4) by Jack Campbell
Bold (Kris Longknife #14) by Mike Shepherd
At the Sign of Triumph (Safehold #9) by David Weber
De Oppresso Liber (Hayden War #6) by Evan Currie
The Bands of Morning (Mistborn #6) by Brandon Sanderson
Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold
Son of the Black Sword (Saga of the Forgotten Warrior #1) by Larry Correia
Secret History (Mistborn #3.5) by Brandon Sanderson
Into the Dark (Alexis Carew #1) by J.A. Sutherland
Warrior King (Odyssey One, #5) by Evan Currie
City of Blades (The Divine Cities #2) by Robert Jackson Bennett

What am I looking forward to in 2017? Same questions as last year: where is the Song of Ice and Fire #6 Winds of Winter, The Kingkiller Chronicle #3, Gentleman Bastard #4, and The Stormlight Archive #3?  Already finished and loved Babylon Ashes (The Expanse #6) on January 1, 2017.  Looking forward to The Lost Metal (Mistborn #7), City of Miracles (Devine Cities #3), and anything by Joe Abercrombie.

4 & 5 Star SciFi and Fantasy Reads of 2014

I forgot to post this last year.  So here it is.

 

Here is my annual post to list the top rated (by me) books I read each year.  For 2015, these include both books I read and listened to, as well as, novellas, short story's and re-reads.  I pulled this info from my Goodreads profile.  Needless to say, all of these are highly recommended.

5 Star:

  • Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card (Audible)
  • Words of Radiance (Stormlight Archive #2) by Brandon Sanderson (Audible)
  • The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson (Re-read) (Audible)
  • The Emperor's Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne #1) by Brian Staveley (Audible) - My review here
  • Dorsai! (Dorsai Series #1) by Gordon R Dickson (re-read) (Audible)

4 Star:

  • Skin Deep (Legion #2) by Brandon Sanderson (Audible)
  • Coming Home (Alex Benedict #7) by Jack McDevitt (Audible)
  • Imperfect Sword (The Lost Stars #3) by Jack Campbell (Audible)
  • Half A King (Shattered Sea #1) by Joe Abercrombie (Audible)
  • The Magician's Land (The Magicians #3) by Lev Grossman (Audible)
  • What Distand Deeps (Lt. Leary #8) David Drake (Audible)
  • The Thousand Emperors by Gary Gibson (Audible)
  • In the Stormy Red Sky (Lt. Leary #7) by David Drake (Audible)
  • The High Druid's Blade (Defenders of Shannara #1) by Terry Brooks (Audible)
  • Final Days by Gary Gibson (Audible)
  • Operation Shield (Cassandra Kresnov #5) by Joel Shepherd (Kindle)
  • Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman (Audible)
  • To Honor You Call Us (Man of War #1) by Paul H. Honsinger (Audible)
  • 23 Years on Fire (Cassandra Kresnov #4) by Joel Shepherd (Kindle)

 

What am I looking forward to in 2015?  Follow up to The Emperor's Blades, Defenders of Shannara #2, Cassandra Kresonov #4.

4 & 5 Star SciFi and Fantasy Reads of 2013

I am making this an annual post to list the top rated (by me) books I read each year.  For 2013, these include both books I read and listened to, as well as, novellas, short story's and re-reads.  I pulled this info from my Goodreads profile.  Needless to say, all of these are highly recommended.

Books.PNG

5 Star Reads of 2013

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (Reread) - Audible
Ringworld by Larry Niven (Reread) - Audible
A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time, #14) by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson - Audible (MY BOOK OF THE YEAR)
Towers of Midnight (Wheel of Time, #13) by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson (Reread) - Audible
The Sword of Shannara Trilogy by Terry Brooks (Reread) - Audible
Old Man's War by John Scalzi (Reread) - Audible

AMoL.jpg

4 Star Reads of 2013

The War God's Own (War God #2) by David Weber - Audible
Nova War (Shoal: Book 2) by Gary Gibson - Audible
The High Lord (The Black Magician Trilogy, #3) by Trudi Canavan - Audible
Stealing Light (Shoal: Book 1) by Gary Gibson - Audible
The Gate Thief (Mithermages, #2) by Orson Scott Card - Audible
Unfettered (Short Story Collection) by Shawn Speakman - Kindle
Straken (High Druid of Shannara, #3) by Terry Brooks- Audible
Empire of Light (Shoal: Book 3) by Gary Gibson - Audible
Oath of Swords (War God, #1) by David Weber - Audible
Shadow of Freedom (Honor Harrington, #14) by David Weber - Audible
The Six Directions of Space by Alastair Reynolds (Novella) - Kindle
War Maid's Choice (War God, #4) by David Weber - Audible
Empire (In Her Name: Redemption, #1) by Michael R. Hicks - Kindle
Steelheart (Reckoners, #1) by Brandon Sanderson - Audible
Red Country by Joe Abercrombie - Audible
The Human Division by John Scalzi  - Audible
The Last Dark (The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, #4) by Stephen R. Donaldson - Audible
Skirmishes (Diving Universe, #4) by Kristine Katheryn Rush - Audible
Indomitable (Shannara, #3.25) by Terry Brooks (Short Story) - Kindle
Thousandth Night by Alastair Reynolds (Novella) - Kindle
The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card (Reread) - Audible

Books2.PNG

So what am I looking forward to in 2015?  Well I did not get The Doors of Stone as promised in 2013, Words of Radiance, Like a Mighty Army, The High Druid's Blade, and many more!

Fitbit Flex - Almost Ready for Primetime

I have been a Fitbit user since December 2009.  I owned the original Fitbit, then the Fitbit Ultra, then Fitbit One, and now the Fitbit Flex.

 

Now that I have been using the Flex for about a month, I thought it would be a good time for a full review. 

I have loved them all and Fitbit has continually upgraded and bettered the product with each release.  My hope is the Flex is no exception.  It is finally the "wear and forget" Fitbit.  No longer do I forget to put it on, lose it in the yard, run it through the washing machine, etc….  You put it on your wrist and you are done.  Wear it while working out, sleeping, showering, ….always.

But with this advance, there are a few concessions.  Starting and stopping the sleeping mode is frustrating.  Not counting stairs (and Fitbit not giving you a way to add manually) is disappointing especially since the last Fitbit (One) did this so well.  The lack of status detail other than lighted dots on the  Fitbit itself is quite an adjustment down from the One.

Finally is the frustrating quirks similar to those I had with the original Fitbit.  For example, waking up in the morning and trying to stop the sleeping mode only to have the Flex not reacting to anything you do.  Having to plug it into a computer to  get it to light up and be useful again, and loosing all of the sleep data from that night. Makes me want to return to the Fitbit One.  But I am trying to hold out and continue with the Flex.

I get the feeling that the Flex is a start over, and not a continuance of the previous models.  Thus it has the version 1 issues.  Buyer beware regarding the Flex.  Let me introduce you to the Fitbit One.

Adventures with Garmin

I purchased a very expensive Garmin GPS watch(Garmin Forerunner 910XT) near the end of April 2012.  The reason I purchased was because the device was waterproof and could be utilized for running, biking AND SWIMMING.
After my first swim with the watch (2 weeks after purchase), it filled with water. (http://flic.kr/s/aHsjzdT13f).  Thus my adventures with Garmin support begins.
I first eamiled Garmin support and waited.  After 24 hrs with no response other than the automated receipt of issue, I called Garmin phone support and got a RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) but had to ship them the device before they would send the replacement.  A process of WEEKS!  I only had the watch for 2 weeks and now I would be without for 2 weeks. At what I paid for it, I was not happy and told them this. I use it almost everyday and sold my old Garmin Forerunner (now evaluating the Garmin Fit iPhone App).  Garmin did send me a UPS shipping label by email.
The same day I tweeted the pictures on Twitter regarding the watch failure and was contacted by their "Social Support" team (@Garmin) to see if they could help.  I let them know that I had already called phone support and was getting the exchange but was dissatisfied with the amount of time this would take.  Social Support stated a way I could get it quicker and they could do it.  I emailed them and said OK, lets do it.  Then silence. 24 hours or more until they emailed me asking for a time to call me.  I guess I get one email a day.  That is the limit.
Ugh, what should have been done at FIRST CONTACT is taking days to complete and if Social Support would only email me once a day, this would take another week to complete.  Again, back to why I was not happy.  These guys work at the slowest pace possible.  Even when they are trying to fix the problem of taking to much time.  I am getting dizzy.
So once again I called phone support to speed things up.  They stated they do not offer the opportunity to send a replacement first unless the person contacting asks or complains.  I did state originally when I called Garmin I was not happy with the 2 week turnaround.  I guess that does not count as complaining.  The support person seemed not happy that the Social Support told me of this option.  They took my info and said a new Shipping label will be sent to me and the replacement watch will be sent out within a day or two.
We shall see............
Stay tuned.

The Omen Machine

Warning: Some spoilers

I have read all of the Sword of Truth books by Terry Goodkind as they have been released and was pleasantly surprised that a new book continuing the adventures of Richard and Kahlan was to be released.  I felt the series ended very well in the last book Confessor and felt it complete.  I have to say that after reading the new book The Omen Machine, I still feel the same.  It should have stopped.

 

I am not sure what specifically about this book that led me to feel this way.  My favorite characters are all back, but they seemed changed.  Is it that I am remembering them in a different light?  I do not know, but found myself thinking during the reading that I just want to get it done and over with.
The power of the previous books was the grandness of it all, the adventure, the travel, the new and exciting twists and turns and here in The Omen Machine you feel stuck in one place with a bunch of stupid characters.  Not stupid as in useless, but stupid as in brainless.  And the most sad is Zed.  He is reduced to either not believing what Richard says or repeating what Richard says back to Richard.  A smart, powerful character minimized to a shadow of who he use to be.  Everytime Zed spoke, my eyes rolled in my head.  Sad.
Another disappointment is that with 11 previous books, that there would be some reference to the experiences in which they have had to make decisions now.  We are but products of our past experiences.  However, it is like the previous adventures did not happen other than the "war is over".  With all that has happened to them previously, why would they ever not take something seriously, especially if they have a "feeling".  And all the conversations of doubt was mind numbing.  And it was really strange that the whole affair with Kahlan forgetting all and the aftermath of what happened in the 3 Chainfire series are not even hinted at.  This book takes place right after those books!  It is like it never happened to Kahlan.  
Overall I feel let down.  I will continue to read the series, but the excitement and grandness has been lost.
I gave The Omen Machine 3 stars on Goodreads.

 

 

Ice, Fire and Dragons (with Spoilers)

Beware, spoilers ahead!

Adwd1
I read the George RR Martin's first 4 books of A Song of Ice and Fire as they were published, so it has been a long time since I have even thought of the books since the last book was released/read in 2005.  Not until both the new HBO series and news of the next book in the series (A Dance With Dragons) being released had me thinking once again about the Stark's and the Lannister's. Strange that I think of the series as the "Starks and the Lannister's" as they may have been the focus in the first book or two, but no longer.


My memory was a bit shady as the books are extensive and the number of characters is mind numbing, but I did remember the first book pretty well, Bran's fall, Jon Snow going to the Wall, and of course, Eddard's death.  But somewhere between the years and other 3 books, my brain added stories and lost some stories since 2005.  For some reason I thought Jon Snow left the Wall in search of his real mother in Dorne and that Lady Melisandre died by fire.  Those that have read the first four books obviously know neither are true, but somehow these crawled into my brain and remembrance from those books. Strange what the mind remembers and what it makes up.


So I decided to take a dive back into the series both to prepare for the TV show and the new book.  My avenue was to re-read via Audible books all four books before A Dance With Dragons was to be released in July.  Unfortunately, I did not take into account how many hours each book would be.   I fiinished the first book by the start of the TV show in April 2011 and the second book by the release of A Dance with Dragons, both of which books I seemed to remember the most accurately.   It was obvious that the 3rd and 4th books are the ones I was having trouble with (besides remembering the the Red Wedding) which is interesting since they are the most recent books.  One would think it would have been the other way around, that I remember the early books, but not the recent books.  That may say something about this series.

Asoiaf

Therefore I went to the web to find chapter by chapter synopsis of both A Storm of Swords and A Feast of Crows (I have since found a more detailed chapter by chapter synopsis).  While reading these summerized versions of each chapter, the "what has gone before" slowly returned, as well as the "why" I could not remember.  Less so for A Storm of Swords, A Feast of Crows was just not engaging to me.  I was not emotionally attached to most of these characters therefore not feeling connected with the decisions that the characters were making or the caring about the outcomes.  And I was missing so much of the other characters not included that are my favorites.

Adwd2Thus the newly released A Dance of Dragons would by my savior.  More of Daenerys whom I loved more as the series progressed, Tyrion and his honesty(yes, I said honesty), Jon at the Wall (I just can't get enough of this!),  and my favorite character of all, Arya.  Please, no Sansa (I just can't comprehend her) I prayed.


Now that I have finished A Dance of Dragons, did it re-ignite what I felt with A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings?  Or was it just a continuance of the A Feast of Crows and monotony of bad characters making stupid decisions and the ramifications of such (ie. Cersei).

Adwd3<sarcasm>

First, Let's focus on the title "A Dance of Dragons". I do not remember any dragon dancing but I do remember:

  • Theon is George RR Martins Bitch
  • The Taming of Daenerys
  • The Misadventures of Tyrion
  • The Fat Men Across the Narrow Sea
  • Weddings-R-Us (with more to come!)
  • The Storm of Lost Ships
  • The Knives at Night

</sarcasm>

Now on the book itself, what I immediately liked was the book began right after A Storm of Swords and caught up to the A Feast of Crows about two-thirds of the way through the book.  This may confuse some people and finding some of the earlier stories from a different perspective a bit confusing.  I enjoyed it as it went back to a time in the story that I was still somewhat engaged with the characters and this portion of the book really focused on the the big 3 (Daenerys, Jon and Tyrion). Please note, I realize that any criticisms coming may in fact be wrong as I do not know the future of the story.  All my opinions are based upon the books to date.


Cersei returns at the convergence point, but please George, just put her out of her misery.  She has become a characature of herself that I no longer care about in any way. Am I to have some emotion or connection with her now that she is humiliated and weak? I do not care about her any longer, or have cared for about 3 books.  This may be just me.


The emergence of long 'lost/supposed dead' characters that have not been in the series at all previously seems a way to make changes the "easy" way.  Although in most cases I did like the new characters, a part of me could not help but feel a bit let down.  It seems like the process is to kill off the old characters and bring in new to advance the story.  Fine.  I guess that is real life.  I just don't read fantasy for real life.  Unfortunately, the story did not reveal anything that I wanted revealed, and only left more threads unsolved with more mysteries.  The forums are ripe with peoples predictions and who they think is Jon's parents, Tyrion's parents, etc…


My favorite characters:

  • Jon - Although there was a good portion dedicated to Jon, not much moved or changed of significance that I did not expect other than the final scene.
  • Daenerys - All I can say is that she was the focus, even in other POV chapters, and her strength was taken from her and made weak in this book.  Made me sad.
  • Tyrion - I think everything but death happened to him during his romp across the narrow sea.  He was fun to follow, but it seemed like he did move forward in character, but in significance to story.
  • Arya - although she only had a few chapters, I was rivited.  I want a book of nothing but her story!  I am on the edge of my seat anticipating how her story will develop.
  • And thank you for a very little of Sansa.


In the prologue, bringing Varys back and exposing his spiders may be the only real reveal in the book.  Makes me wonder when Arya will join them.


I could give my thoughts a feelings chapter by chapter, but this blog post has gone on long enough.   To sum it up, I did give it 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, mostly because it reignited my love for the series, even with its weaknesses.  I look forward to the second series on HBO and the sixth book.  I must have an ending…. Even if it is in ice or fire.

Diet Update (Day 105)

No video today.  Still trying out different providers to post video content.  None have risen above the rest yet.  Anyway, thought I should at least write about the status of my diet since it has been awhile.

Today was weigh in day (usually Tuesdays or Wednesdays) and so far, I have lost 25.2 lbs!  At 105 days, it feel like some type of milestone.  I am only 5lbs away from my first target and 15lbs from my stretch goal.

No magic formula for my weight loss, just eating smaller portions that are healthy and increasing excercise (see my DailyMile widget on right).  I have leveled off at about 3000 calories burned each day and 1700 calories eaten. I no longer am tracking what I eat (that was a lot of work!) as I feel I know what I can and can not eat and how much.

Stay tuned.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

This year has been one of the most difficult for me due to medical & psychological issues.  However, I am thankful to be managing the issues and living a semi-normal life.  I am most grateful for my loving wife who has supported me throughout the ordeal.  I thank God for giving me the strength to persevere through the issues and continue to do so.  I am so blessed with family, pets, friends and a wonderful job.

I wish all a Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2009 to come!



Been Awhile

It has been such a long time since I posted last, I thought I needed to post why.  I spend to much time on sites such as Plurk, Twitter, Pownce, etc... that I am finding I have no time for the blog.   I am going to try and change this, not by no longer posting on the social sites, but by talking about the tech I am playing with as I am always playing with something new.  So stay tuned.

Gluten Free

My doctor has put me on a 6-week gluten free diet to see if I have Celiac Disease.  Moving to a gluten free diet is not easy.  But thank you to the internet, it is much easier than it use to be.  The documentation and information given to me by my Doctor was not enough to truly understand what is and what is not available for me to eat.  But I found a few sites and downloads that help quite a bit.

The ClanThompson site provides a database that makes it simple to look up foods by type or brand and tells you if they are gluten free.  This was a lifesaver and worth the $$ to purchase.

I have also gone to many of the websites of restaurants I frequent to see if they have gluten free menus and some do.  I have downloaded all the pdf's of these menus and emailed them to myself to access via my iPhone.

Whole Food Market has a complete downloadable list of all gluten free products (and any other special diet) they sell so you can easily make a shopping list.

As I find more, I will update this post.



It has been awhile.

I haven't posted a general blog post in quite a while.  If you read my tweets, you may notice a lot of "doctor" visits.  I have been having some health problems that have been taking up a lot of time and effort.  I did not want to post specifics as life is tough enough without hearing about other peoples problems.  Things are a bit better right now, so I hope to get back in the swing of things soon.

I have updated over on the Books section of the site.  So take a look.  And as usual, my Twitters keep on coming.  I have also signed up at FriendFeed if you want to check out most all I am doing.

Have a great day!