It was last summer that I blogged about genre bingo, and it has taken me that long to finally get bingo myself. Believe me, I have been reading up a storm since then. I just haven’t been reading the right books, I guess. One thing I pledged to do, and obviously kept to, was to not read books specifically to fill in blank bingo spots. Some books I read did not fit any of the criteria, and in some cases they fit a space I had already filled. Despite all that I overcame and finally was able to shout BINGO! across the library. (The shouting may or may not actually have happened.)
I was actually a little surprised when I realized it. I was preparing a blog post about the random reading habit I have developed, but had to put that aside (for now) to cover this momentous event. Of course I will talk about the books that made all this possible, but first, here is the current status of my Genre Bingo card:
Okay, I know what you are going to say. That sure is a lot of spaces filled in, but it does not actually qualify as bingo. My reply is that you are correct. I have not actually obtained bingo on that card. However, you may remember that I created two separate types of bingo cards, the second being called Something New Bingo. Here is how my card for that looks:
There you have it, right across the top. Bingo! Interestingly, I have 15 spots filled in on each card. Many books I read qualified for both of them, but not all. I also like how I have three stars in each of the vertical columns for the Something New card.
A couple of minor caveats here. The “book with a red cover” I read certainly had red on it, but it was not entirely red. Probably more orange than red overall. Still satisfies the criteria in my book (pun intended), plus it is set on the “Red Planet“. The second issue is that the “book made into a movie” was technically made into a TV series. A TV series with long, movie-like episodes, so I have no qualms marking it off here. Also, several of these titles would have worked for other spots than the ones I used them in, so if I rearranged them I think I could still make it work for bingo.
Book With A Red Cover: The Martian, by Andy Weir
This was the one that finally gave me bingo. It had been sitting around the house just waiting to be read, which lead to my random approach to reading (blog post on that coming soon!) It is the story of astronaut Mark Watney, a crew member of the third manned mission to Mars. A dust storm strikes the landing site, and during their evacuation Watney is hit by debris and, quite understandably, presumed dead by his fellow astronauts. The others head back to Earth, mourning their fallen comrade.
Mark is alive, though and has to find a way to survive not only day-to-day, but until the next mission arrives. He does so with a wonderful mix of ingenuity and humor. A great example is one time when disaster once again befalls him, he solves the problem almost with regret, since he thinks his crazy backup plan would also have worked. The science in the book is strong but still very approachable. Overall, a very fun book. I have not yet seen the movie. Also, this would have worked as both a Debut Novel and a “Book Made Into A Movie”.
A Long Book (500+ pages): The Tommyknockers, by Stephen King
Over the last couple of years my wife and I have started to beef up our Stephen King collection. This is one thing I appreciate having a smartphone for: easy access to lists so I don’t have to try and remember which books we already own.
We have both been King fans for many moons, and I read this one before. Way before, like maybe around 1990. Okay, maybe that means it is not technically “something new”, but 25 years gives me some leeway here. Although not one of King’s strongest works, it is still Stephen King, which means it is still an excellent book.
The tale is of an insidious alien invasion. A woman in rural Maine (this is King, after all) uncovers a spaceship that crashed eons ago. The aliens within are only sort-of dead. Their physical bodies are destroyed, but they can still imprint themselves upon hapless humans, and use us to start recreating themselves. It then becomes a race to see if they can be stopped before their plans come to fruition.
A couple of hallmarks of King’s writing, besides length, are foreshadowing and showing the perspective of the villain. Many of his stories have a BBEG (Big Bad Evil Guy). This may be a prototypical one, such as in The Stand or It, or one a little more unusual, such as in Misery or Cujo. In The Tommyknockers, you do get the foreshadowing, but the villains are just regular people. Admittedly ones controlled by evil aliens, but still people.
This may not be a book that inspires you to create online discussion forums about it, but it is a page turner. It checks in at 558 pages, which is not so bad. Not like it is Harry Potter or something. The Tommyknockers is another one made into a movie, albeit a crummy TV movie.
Debut Novel: Koko Takes A Holiday, by Kieran Shea
Shea’s 2014 debut is a science fiction romp about an ex-mercenary, the titular Koko, who is trying to enjoy an early retirement. Of course that does not happen, as her past comes back to haunt her. It isn’t even her own past that is really the problem, but that of a former associate.
Mayhem ensues, and she goes on the run to both escape those hunting her and to find the person who caused her this trouble. The characters are well formed, the action is tight, and the future society predicted seems plausible. The story touches on some interesting social issues, but not in a distracting or limiting way.
If this sort of story sounds like something you would like, then you will almost certainly enjoy this book. The sequel is already out, and I am looking forward to reading it.
Recommended By Someone You Know: War of the Encyclopaedists, by Christopher Robinson and Gavin Kovite.
This book is about Seattle hipsters and their self-made art scene. Hmm, no, that’s not quite right. Let me try again. This book is about the war in Iraq, and the effects it had on people. It is about love and obsession, about how people change and how the stay the same. It is about longing and wishing and missed opportunities. It is about art and Wikipedia and how one defines the truth. It is about IEDs and hard choices and juxtapositions.
This is a book I recommend you read. I’m glad someone recommended it to me.
Book Made Into A Movie: A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin
The first book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, it was first published in 1996. Over the next decade it, and the series, slowly gained in popularity. How popular? The fourth installment hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and HBO optioned the books for a television series. That series is simply called Game of Thrones, and has won multiple awards. It may not be a movie per se, but it is close enough for my purposes. And yes, you can get the DVDs at the library.
A Game of Thrones is a fantasy novel set in the kingdom of Westeros. The title refers to the scheming done by various persons to sit upon the Iron Throne and to rule. It is low fantasy, meaning that while magic exists in the world, it is rare and seldom a factor. Dragons are real, but are presumably extinct, and so on.
The main focus is on the Stark family, who lord over the cold northern end of Westeros. Chock full of lively characters and brimming with relevant and interesting side plots, this is a book to be reckoned with. There are good guys to root for, bad guys to despise, and ambiguous guys to wonder about. It’s popularity is well deserved.
I had watched the show before reading the book, and I will say it is a masterful adaptation. The TV series format gave them about 10 hours to work with, instead of the two or three a movie would have provided, and they make good use of it. Most of the changes from page to screen are minor, or things that you recognize had to be changed for budgetary reasons and the like. The casting was top notch, with a special nod to Peter Dinklage. Once you see him in the role you will always read Tyrion Lannister in his voice.
There we have it, my road to bingo. It was a fun ride, or should I say fun read? I am still tracking my progress, as I hope to score Genre Bingo one of these days. And to keep things interesting, I just created a third bingo card, this one for characters. It will be fun to see how that this one goes!
Since I made this I have finished a couple more books, so I can cross off Zombie, and one other. The second book had several characters that would apply, so I can move it around as needed as I fill in more spaces. Maybe next time I really will shout Bingo! in the library.