Top Ten Tuesday – Books I was SO EXCITED to Get, but Still Haven’t Read (Waiting on Wednesday list)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics.  For this latest Top Ten Tuesday, participants are required to list their favourite books that the were excited to get but still haven’t had a chance to read.  There is also a side requirement to list the length of time since you’ve received or heard about the book, which adds some interesting complexity to the list.

Now, one of the saddest things about being a reviewer is that there are always far too many books coming out every year to keep up with.  Despite my best efforts, at the end of each year there are always multiple books that I am extremely sad that I never got the chance to read.  These books have built up over the years, and I currently have an extended list of awesome sounding novels sitting around waiting to be read.  Many of these have been captured in my weekly Waiting on Wednesday posts, and I am quite ashamed to say that quite a substantial number of novels I previously highlighted in these posts haven’t been read.  As such, I thought I might slightly alter the underlying basis of this list slightly by looking at the ten oldest Waiting on Wednesday posts I have where I never actually got around to reading the book.

This ended up being a rather interesting list to pull together as I have highlighted quite a few great novels over the years.  However, it was fairly easy to find the ten oldest Waiting on Wednesday posts on my blog where I haven’t read the book, and I added them to this list in descending order.  I did have to make a few exclusions for a couple of books which still haven’t been released yet, and I also had to filter out some posts where I failed to review a book after reading it.  Still, this left me with a rather interesting top ten list of cool books that I really need to check out.  So let us see which are the ten books I have been waiting the longest to check out.

Top Ten List (Descending by Date of Waiting on Wednesday Article)

10. The Shadow Saint by Gareth Ryder – Hanrahan -6 November 2019

The Shadow Saint Cover

The sequel to one of the more intriguing debuts of 2019, The Gutter Prayer, The Shadow Saint is a fantastic sounding grimdark fantasy novel that I really need to take off the shelf and read.

 

9. Anyone by Charles Soule – 31 October 2019

Anyone Cover

An awesome sounding standalone science fiction novels from one of my favourite Star Wars authors, Charles Soule (author of Light of the Jedi, and several awesome comic series).  Anyone is an interesting thriller set around a future where people can transfer their consciousness into other bodies.  I love the sound of this concept and I hope I can make time to read it at some point.

 

8. The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso – 15 August 2019

The Obsidian Tower Cover

Easily one of the books I most regret not reading is The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso.  The first book in the Rooks and Ruins series, which serves as a sequel to her impressive debut Swords and Fire trilogy (made up of The Tethered Mage, The Defiant Heir and The Unbound Empire), this book has been high on my to-read list for ages, but I can never seem to find the time to read it.  This is a real shame, as I have heard that this is an exceptional novel, and I am sure the following books in the Rooks and Ruins series are going to be really incredible as well.

 

7. #Murderfunding by Gretchen McNeil – 3 July 2019

#MurderFunding Cover

A fun and deadly young adult thriller, #MurderFunding is the sequel to the great 2018 read, #MurderTrending, and it is one I have been hoping to read for a while.  This delay is because I unfortunately didn’t get a copy of this when it first came out.  While I did eventually grab a copy a few months ago, I still haven’t had the chance to read it, even after reading the great prequel novel #NoEscape.  I honestly need to sit down and try to read this at some point, as I will probably just power through it and finish it off in a day.

 

6. Grave Importance by Vivian Shaw – 19 June 2019

Grave Importance Cover

The third book in the Dr. Greta Helsing series, Grave Importance is an excellent book about a doctor who specialises in helping the undead, and who finds herself wrapped up in a mystery involving mummies.  I loved the first two books in this series, Strange Practice and Dreadful Company, and I really regret having not seen how the series continued.  This is another mistake I really should try to rectify, especially as my copy of Grave Importance is constantly judging me from a nearby bookshelf.

 

5. The Institute by Stephen King – 9 May 2019

The Institute Cover 1

I loved the sound of this unique and interesting Stephen King novel when I heard about it in 2019, however, I didn’t get a chance to read The Institute when it first came out.  Despite hearing some amazing things about it, I have never gone back to check it out, even after having a blast with King’s two 2021 novels, Later and Billy Summers.  I will have to carve some time out for The Institute at some point, although there are also many, many other Stephen King books I also want to read.

 

4. Salvation Lost by Peter F. Hamilton – 1 May 2019

Salvation Lost Cover

Another book that I deeply regret not reading, Salvation Lost is the fantastic sounding sequel to the great 2018 read, Salvation by science fiction master Peter F. Hamilton.  I absolutely loved Salvation when it came out, and I honestly cannot fathom why I keep failing to read Salvation Lost, it is completely mind boggling.

 

3. The Andromeda Evolution by Daniel H. Wilson – 13 March 2019

The Andromeda Evolution Cover

The recently released sequel to Michael Chrichton’s iconic technothriller, The Andromeda Strain.  I was very interested to see what they did in this sequel, written 50 years after the release of the first book, however, I was never able to fit it into my reading schedule.

 

2. The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling – 16 January 2019

the luminous dead cover

An interesting and compelling sounding science fiction horror novel that caught my eye a few years ago.  I failed to even get a copy of this book when it came out, although it is still on my radar to read.  Hopefully I will get a chance at some point, but it may be a while.

 

1. Alien: Echo by Mira Grant – 19 December 2019

Alien Echo Cover

The final entry (and oldest post) on this list is Alien: Echo, which I have so many regrets about not reading.  An amazing Alien tie-in novel from one of the best authors of horror fiction, the talented Mira Grant (Into the Drowning Deep is still one of my favourite horror novels), I have no idea why I never tried to read this, but I am constantly berating myself for not checking it out, especially as I know I am going to love it.  Hopefully I pull myself together at some point to read it, so we’ll see how that goes.

 

 

Well, that’s the end of this latest list.  As you can see, there are several awesome novels that I really need to try and read at some point, especially as I have been thinking about most of them for multiple years now.  All 10 books above sound extremely cool, and I desperately need to carve some time out to read them.  In the meantime, let me know which books you most regret not reading, and if you’ve enjoyed any of the entries on this list, I would love to hear what you thought about them.

Throwback Thursday – The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

The Andromeda Strain Cover.jpg

Publishers: Brilliance Audio (Audiobook Edition – 26 May 2015)

                        Knopf (12 May 1969)

Series: Standalone/Book 1

Length: 8 hours 15 minutes

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Amazon     Book Depository

Reviewed as part of my Throwback Thursday series, where I republish old reviews, review books I have read before or review older books I have only just had a chance to read.

For this week’s Throwback Thursday I take a look at a classic techno-thriller from legendary author Michael Crichton, The Andromeda Strain.

The Andromeda Strain was released nearly 50 years ago, in May 1969, and represented a bold new direction from Crichton, who had previously done several pulpy crime novels, such as Odds On and Scratch One, under the name John Lange, as well as the medical crime thriller A Case of Need, which he wrote under the name Jeffrey Hudson.  The Andromeda Strain was considered to be part of the new techno-thriller genre and is still considered to be a major example of this genre.

I have only read three of Crichton’s books before, including Jurassic Park (for obvious reasons), The Lost World and Pirate Latitudes.  While I have always intended to go back and read some more of Crichton’s works, I have never had the time to do so.  However, with the recent announcement that The Andromeda Evolution is being released in November to correspond with the 50-year anniversary of The Andromeda Strain, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to check out one of Crichton’s earlier books.  For that reason, I listened to the audiobook version of The Andromeda Strain narrated by David Morse.

When a military satellite comes down in the small town of Piedmont, Arizona, nearly all the residents in the town die.  They are victims of a mysterious new pathogen that either instantly clotted all the blood in their body or drove them to suicide.  The military quickly activate the Wildfire protocol, and a small government team of scientists and doctors take command of Piedmont and the satellite.

Believing that the satellite contains an extraterrestrial organism, the team bring it and the two survivors of Piedmont, an old man and a baby, to a secret and secure underground Wildfire laboratory for study.  Deep in the laboratory, the team attempt to identify and categorise the organism which has been given the codename Andromeda.  However, Andromeda is evolving a way no member of the Wildfire team believed possible, and not even the laboratory’s nuclear bomb safeguards may be enough to keep it contained.

After listening to The Andromeda Strain over a couple of days, I found it to be an extremely thrilling and complex novel that I really got into and which I am eager to review.  However, after 50 years and thousands of reviews I am not too sure how much I can really say about this book that has not already been said.  That being said, when looking at this book from a 2019 perspective, I feel that The Andromeda Strain is still an extremely strong techno-thriller, with some expert storytelling and an in-depth scientific base that is still relevant in this modern era.

In this book, Crichton utilised a very dry, detailed and scientific approach to his writing, slowly covering every aspect of the events unfolding before each of the protagonists, while also providing the reader with backstory on the characters and briefings on the various relevant scientific and political components of the book.  Despite this somewhat less exciting writing style, Crichton is still able to create quite a thrilling atmosphere throughout the book as the story gets closer to the inevitable disaster part of the plot.  Crichton really adds to the suspense by mentioning the various mistakes that the protagonist are making and hinting at all the problems going on around them that will eventually lead to the release of the Andromeda microbe.

I did feel that the book ended rather suddenly, and I was surprised that the investigation part of the story was still going with only a short amount of the book left to go.  I found it interesting that the part of the story that dealt with the release of Andromeda and the subsequent race to stop the nuclear explosion about to wipe out the lab was introduced so late in the book and solved so very quickly.  I was expecting a large portion of the story to focus on the main characters getting past all of the impressive contamination protocols in order to stop the nuclear explosion.  Instead, this was all solved within about 10 minutes of audiobook narration, or probably five to 10 pages of a normal book.  While I was surprised about this, I suppose it does make sense in the context of the rest of the story, where the characters and briefing material did mention several times that there was a three-minute delay between the bomb arming and the explosion.  This was all extremely thrilling, and I felt that the book is still capable of keeping authors on the edge of their seats.

One of the things that really surprised me about the book was the advanced level of technology that was featured within a story written and set in 1969.  Perhaps this is simply ignorance as a result of being a child of the 90s, but I feel it is more likely the result of Crichton having a great understanding of technology and potential future advances that might be utilised within a high-level government laboratory.  Certainly, the scientific features of this book are extremely impressive, and I felt that they were still extremely relevant and understandable in a 2019 context.  For example, all the extreme quarantine methods surrounding the Wildfire laboratory sound like perfectly reasonable steps that modern laboratories could use to keep pathogens contained.  All the discussions about viruses and micro-organisms were also incredibly detailed, and I felt that much of the information discussed around those is still relevant today, and modern audiences will still be able to understand and consider it quite easily.

I did find the concept of the Odd-Man Hypothesis to be extremely interesting.  In essence, the Odd-Man Hypothesis states that out of all the humans in the world, unmarried men are the most likely to make the best and most dispassionate decision in the face of an emergency.  This becomes a key part of the story, as one of the characters is designated as the Odd-Man and is the only person with the ability to shut off the laboratory’s nuclear self-destruct device.  Now this is one theory that does not translate to more modern times, although, in fairness, most of The Andromeda Strain’s characters did not take it that seriously either.  That being said, it was an extremely intriguing element to read about, and I enjoyed the discussion around its viability and use within the context of the story.

As I mentioned above, I chose to listen to The Andromeda Strain in its audiobook format.  There are actually a number of different audiobook versions of The Andromeda Strain out there, each with different narrators, such as an earlier version narrated by Chris Noth.  I ended up listening to the most recent audiobook version of this book, although I imagine a new version is sure to follow soon, especially with a sequel about to come out.  The version I listened to was narrated by actor David Morse and was released in 2015.  This version is 8 hours and 15 minutes long, and I found myself powering through it very quickly.

I think that the audiobook was a really great way to listen to The Andromeda Strain, as it allows the reader to absorb the huge amount of scientific detail and discussion a lot easier.  I felt that David Morse was an excellent narrator for this book, and that his basic narration voice perfectly fit the books tone and style.  Morse also comes up with some great voices for this book, and I was particularly impressed by his weary old man voice.  As a result, I would highly recommend the audiobook version of The Andromeda Strain, as it is definitely an outstanding way to the listen to this fantastic story.

Overall, I loved this dive back into the past and I had a lot of fun listening to this classic techno-thriller.  Crichton is an amazing author, especially when it comes to a more science-based story, and I am incredibly impressed that his story still holds up 50 years after it was first published.  I am extremely curious to see where the upcoming sequel, The Andromeda Evolution, takes the story, and how well new author Daniel H. Wilson replicates Crichton’s style.  This book has also encouraged me to check out some more of Crichton’s works, and I am looking forward to reading some more of this author’s excellent techno-thrillers, as well as some of his intriguing historical fiction pieces.

Amazon     Book Depository

Waiting on Wednesday – The Andromeda Evolution by Michael Crichton and Daniel H. Wilson

Welcome to my weekly segment, Waiting on Wednesday, where I look at upcoming books that I am planning to order and review in the next few months and which I think I will really enjoy.  Stay tuned to see reviews of these books when I get a copy of them.

The Andromeda Evolution Cover

In this week’s Waiting on Wednesday, I take a look at The Andromeda Evolution, the recently announced sequel to Michael Crichton’s game-changing novel, The Andromeda Strain.

Michael Crichton is one of the most iconic authors of the last 50 years, having written a series of varied and highly regarded novels, many of which were turned into movies.  It goes without saying that you have heard of his most famous novel, Jurassic Park, which was adapted into the movie of the same name.  Between his debut in 1966 and his death in 2008, Crichton released 28 full-length fiction books, including Congo, Sphere, The Lost World, Rising Sun, Binary and Eaters of the Dead (also known as The 13th Warrior).  These books were mostly released under his own name, but several novels were released under the pseudonym John Lange.

One of Crichton’s most famous books was his 1969 release, The Andromeda Strain, his first foray into the science fiction genre.  It followed a group of scientists as they attempted to contain and study an extraterrestrial microbe, known as Andromeda, within a high-tech government laboratory.  While not his first book, this was the novel that helped launch his career, and was highly regarded by reviewers at the time of its release.  It is also considered to be one of the first books of the techno-thriller genre, and its success no doubt encouraged Crichton to write more science fiction works, such as Jurassic Park.

It was announced only a couple of weeks ago that a sequel to The Andromeda Strain will be released later this year to mark the 50th anniversary of its release.  The Andromeda Evolution will be released worldwide on 12 November 2019 and has been written by bestselling science fiction author Daniel Wilson.

No real plot details for this book have been released yet, and it will be interesting to see where the story goes.  The Andromeda Strain ended with Andromeda evolving and being released into the upper atmosphere, where it was severely impacting the space programs of the United States and the Soviet Union.  From what very little is known, it appears that in the new book the microbe will somehow evolve again to become a much more serious threat.  I am deeply intrigued to see how this new book will continue the story told in The Andromeda Strain, especially as the author could take the story in so many different directions.  I am very curious about what causes the disease to evolve again, and what new impacts this will have on Earth.  I imagine that this book will be set in more modern times, which also offers up a range of possibilities.  In particular, this might create an alternate timeline for Earth, as the lack of a space race might have severely altered history.

I am quite excited for the author chosen to continue this story, Daniel Wilson.  Wilson is one of the most intriguing authors of science fiction at the moment, having written several bestselling techno-thrillers, including his epic Robopocalypse series.  I think that Wilson’s writing style and imagination will mesh quite well Crichton’s original concept, and the resulting collaboration will be something special.

I am a bit uncertain whether The Andromeda Evolution will be based on any notes Crichton left behind, or whether it was only inspired by the original novel.  The three previous Michaels Crichton novels that were released after his death (Pirate Latitudes, Micro and Dragon Teeth) were either completed or partially written by Crichton himself.  However, as Wilson is credited as the author on the cover, I am thinking that the story is mostly based on his ideas.  This new perspective on the story may prove to be extremely interesting, and it could be the first in a new wave of Michael Crichton inspired techno-thrillers.

The Andromeda Evolution should prove to be an extremely interesting release for later in the year, and I am very eager to check it out.  Check back here tomorrow for a throwback review for The Andromeda Strain, and I may update this post later when more plot details about The Andromeda Evolution become available.