So far so good on the whole “read more” goal. As of right now, I’ve already finished two books for pleasure this year (although technically the first one was started in the final days of 2015 – but I’m still counting it). I don’t feel like either book is really worthy of it’s own separate review post, as one was just kind of frivolous fun, and the other, well, wasn’t great… so I think mini-reviews will do the trick nicely.
The first book is Stanley Weintraub’s 11 Days in December: Christmas at the Bulge, 1944. I bought this a couple of years ago after I read his Pearl Harbor Christmas, expecting it to be roughly the same thing – and I was pretty much right. Like Pearl Harbor Christmas it is by no means, a traditional or complete history of the Christmas of 1944. Unless you already have a solid knowledge of the overall timeline of the Battle of the Bulge, I actually wouldn’t recommend this book at all. Without already knowing what’s happening where and when – this one’ll confuse you more than inform, because really this book is more of a snapshot of conditions than anything else; a collection of (admittedly scattered) anecdotes and experiences that fall within the month of December during the fight. The author does a lot of name dropping without much explanation, jumps around a lot – from the British, to the Americans, to the Germans – often without warning, and he even occasionally jumps around chronologically. So if you don’t already have decent name and place recognition it’ll be very very disorienting. Hell, it was disorienting for me sometimes, and I DO have those things (although I admittedly favor the PTO over the ETO in my own studies). That said, it’s not without value, and does contain a lot of great stuff. If you’re willing to tough it through the organization, this can be a nice little supplement that serves to humanize the experience through the minutia of life on the ground and in command.
Rating: 3/5 stars – To summarize: very scattered and disorganized, but contains a lot of valuable material if you are willing to sort it out.
The second is a novel that is part of the expanded Dragon Age universe: David Gaider’s The Calling. It’s a prequel of sorts – chronicling the adventures of Ferelden’s King Maric Theirin in the Deep Roads about 20 years before the events of the Dragon Age: Origins video game. It’s nothing spectacular in terms of literature – but it’s a lot of fun. Lots of action, and – minus a few action sequences that dragged on just a *tad* too long for my personal tastes – pacing is generally good and keeps you interested. It also has a lot of great backstory that has me really wanting to replay the game again so I can relive the story with all this new information and perspective. I suppose that’s the real upside to the author actually being the lead writer for the series. Instead of the hole a lot of expanded universe novels fall into of having unconnected authors who often don’t quite have the hang of really writing the characters or the world properly (*coughDOCTORWHOcough*), it actually feels solidly like part of the universe.
Rating: 4/5 stars – To summarize: it’s no work of great literature, but it’s a really fun little romp in a universe I love. If you’re a Dragon Age fan, it’s definitely worth checking out.
Have you read anything great so far in 2016?