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RedEyedGhost

June '18 Reading - Something something witty.

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I'm finishing up my straight through reading of The Shadow Campaigns by Django Wexler, book five is The Infernal Battalion.  It's got a bit of a different feel than the middle three books as the three main PsOV

are all off in different parts of the world.

  35% through and looking forward to the finishing.  After this I think I'll be reading the new Vorkosigan novella - The Flowers of Vashnoi.

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Hemingway: For whom the bell tolls. Mostly in May, but I finished on the first of June, I guess. I had read "Old man and the Sea" and "A farewell to arms" many years ago and had not found them very remarkable. Also a few short stories in English class. FWTBT seems in a different league, this is a great book, maybe his masterpiece?

(I read this in German translation, so the use of archaic English for the Spanish of the guerilleros that was criticized is not present there anymore.)

And in the last few days, Pratchett: Nation. This starts very promising but unfortunately gets rather stale and preachy in the last third or so. (The epilogue is completely cheesy.) Still worth a read but vaguely disappointing because of the lame ending.

Spoiler

And why did the ice age civilization of the South Seas regress to such an incredible extent? Only the flooding at the end of the ice age? But they were great navigators and could have gone anywhere when there homelands were flooded.

 

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Posted (edited)

My reading has been a bit mixed recently, fitting in around a busy schedule. 

I started The King’s Blood by Daniel Abraham (#2 in Dagger & Coin) but could not get into it.  Usually I love the first few chapters as I immerse into an alternate world, but this felt dull.  Perhaps I was just too tired to engage with it.  13 races and generic, whiny characters felt exhausting without any payoff.  I dropped it after a few chapters but may go back to it. 

I moved on to The Hard Way by Lee Child, Jack Reacher #10.  These are so formulaic but reliably good for what they are.  I just leave a longer and longer gap between each volume so that the formulaic repetition grates less.  

Then Vicious Circle by Mike Carey, Felix Castor #2. This urban fantasy in modern London is an enjoyable read.  I love the author’s unusual word choice and playfulness with prose.  He only occasionally misuses some of the more unusual words.  The plot does rely on an outsize hero complex, but that’s hardly a unique problem.  A really engaging read for people who like variation and experimentation with vocabulary.  Nothing too abstruse, just enough to elevate an already entertaining genre novel. 

I’ve now started Not Tonight Josephine: A Road Trip Through Small Town America by George Mahood. A non-fiction travel memoir, supposedly humorous.  We’ll see.  It’s no Bill Bryson so far. 

Edited by Iskaral Pust

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On 6/5/2018 at 12:36 AM, RedEyedGhost said:

I'm finishing up my straight through reading of The Shadow Campaigns by Django Wexler, book five is The Infernal Battalion.  It's got a bit of a different feel than the middle three books as the three main PsOV

  Reveal hidden contents

are all off in different parts of the world.

  35% through and looking forward to the finishing.  

You must let me know what you think, just stayed up til 4am to finish.

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Stephen Fry's "mythos" was excellent and a must for Greek mythology/Gaimanesque stylw writing. So refreshing to get an uncensored version as the books from my childhood skimmed over the homosexuality and more racy/vulgur elements of Greek legend. It's also very thorough and gave me a much firmer footing of the time before the gods. Yes, it misses out a lot of the well known myths such as theseus, jason, hercules and the odyssey but i'd rather it covered a lot of material I was unaware of than that I'm fairly familiar with. Plus, I'm wondering whether all the heroic characters were deliberately left out for a sequel on the theme of heroes?

I'm reading MAry BEard's Pompeii now and it's a bit of a shock in tone compared to mythos. Seems pretty exhaustive in detail so far.

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I enjoyed re-reading the first instalment of the Harry Potter series, though I was surprised by the gap between my recollection and reality. It was certainly a lot lighter on detail than I remembered and very fast-paced, with quidditch matches I was expecting to go for a chapter being covered in just a few pages. I also enjoyed the Dursley section immensely, which was a surprise.

I read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, having received it as a gift a while ago. I enjoyed this much more than expected and it was certainly better than standard self-help fare. Don't be misled by the title though - the book would be more accurately (but less intriguingly) titled "A Guide to Happiness: Give a F*ck About the Right Stuff." 

I also read the latest volume of Saga, which was excellent as usual. Now about a third of the way through Michael Chabon's Moonglow, which I have mixed thoughts on so far. 

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Posted (edited)

After watching The Death of Stalin I decided to read the graphic novel it was based on. It's darker than the film, and though there were funny moments, I wouldn't really call it a comedy. It wasn't long before I was aware of theories suggesting the dictator was actually poisoned, and the poison caused him to have the stroke. 

I found Chronology of Diseases of IV Stalin and notes that doctors made as he was dying. When reading Google's translation from Russian, there were odd phrases like: 

"The patient has urinated in the duck."

"...loss of a large amount of urine past the duck."

But I figured in Russian, "duck" is probably slang for "urinal", and nobody was abusing aquatic birds. The guy who put together the Chronology clearly supports the poisoning theory, but I don't think we'll ever truly know for sure.

Edited by 4 Eyed Crow

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Finishing up Jack Vance's Ports of Call, which means I will have to now pick up Lurulu in order to finish the plot of Myron Taey's travelogue of the Gaean Reach.  I have to admit to laughing long and loud at the episode of the crew of the Glicca being hypnotized by the warden of the Penal Satellite that they visit, and the resulting new "formal dining" manners that they adopt as a result.

Vance really was the premiere stylist of the genre.  No other writer could make such mundane interactions between tourists and hoteliers, cargo shippers and transport workers, or human-leather workers and export buyers so fascinatingly mannerly and slyly witty.  I also enjoy the several references to Cugel in the characters along the way, particularly the long-running conflict between Schwatzendale and Moncrief the Mouse-Rider.

If P.G. Wodehouse had spent his formative years crewing tramp steamers instead of haunting the music-halls, this is the sort of science fiction he would have written.  It is the sunset of Jack Vance's writing, but still a wonderful ride.

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5 hours ago, Kyoshi said:

Reading The Long Price Qaurtet for the first time. Really good series. But also really frustrating because (as far as I can tell) the series isn't tremendously popular and copies of the books are very hard to get hold of. I'm afraid I'll end up getting spoiled as I search for the books.

There will be release of the entire series in a single volume in November, and it does look like the two double volume books are in stock at Amazon.

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43 minutes ago, RedEyedGhost said:
5 hours ago, Kyoshi said:

Reading The Long Price Qaurtet for the first time. Really good series. But also really frustrating because (as far as I can tell) the series isn't tremendously popular and copies of the books are very hard to get hold of. I'm afraid I'll end up getting spoiled as I search for the books.

I found all four books of the series at my local library.  Same for The Dagger and the Coin series as well.

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I started off June by finishing two books that I started in May, but at different times.  The first was Organizing for Mission and Growth by George R. Knight, which was the third and last book of mini-histories about the Seventh-day Adventist denomination.  That was Saturday, on Sunday I finished Augustine of Hippo's City of God which is one of the foundation texts of medieval Christianity and Western European medieval philosophy.  Part I (Books 1-10) is the better section of the overall work as I was forced to skim the majority of Part II (Books 11-22) because I kept arguing with Augustine's theological points which slowed down my reading and frankly once I hit the point I was going to finish the book ASAP.

Anyways, my current primary read is Herman Melville's Typee, a friend of mine recommended this book after learning that I didn't like Moby Dick and wasn't interesting in other Melville title.  To be fair I didn't dislike it, but the infodumps of 19th-century whaling at numerous places throughout the book which have nothing to do with the plot is just plain annoying.  However, I'm digressing as Typee is semi-autobiographical of Melville's time on Nuka Hiva in the Marquesas Islands.  I'm roughly 70 pages from the end and while I'm not "OMG this is 5 stars" impressed, I'm not feeling frustrated like I did with MB though to be fair it's two different genres but then again MB was a story interrupted by material not connected to the story...okay I'm going to stop before I continue my ranting.

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9 hours ago, RedEyedGhost said:

There will be release of the entire series in a single volume in November, and it does look like the two double volume books are in stock at Amazon.

I recently downloaded the first ebook without realising it was a double volume of book 1 and 2 

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Finally finished Three Daughters. I quite enjoyed it, although it was a little long. Reminded me a lot of The Thorn Birds. There wasn't really a plot or a story, just themes and the tale of the lives of three generation of (I think) Palestinian women in the early 20th century.

Not sure what's up next, I've had a few things languishing on my Kindle. Hopefully I'll have more time to read now that classes are done until fall!

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Moved on to The Great Hunt in my WoT-possible-reread.  I love Marisha Pessl and her new book, Neverworld Wake, recently popped up on my Kindle.  That will be read soon I am sure.

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Rather sped through Django Wexlers The thousand names. I rather enjoyed it and promptly bought the next 2 installments, and will get to them sharpish I think. I skimmed the battles but quite liked the military environment.

 

For a change of pace, I’m now reading Christopher Brookmyres Want you gone.

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I started the Ninefox Gamit based on board recs. It took a few chapters to get into the flow, but I’m really digging it now. 

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Posted (edited)

^^ thanks for the info. Would be great to get it all in one volume. Thing is, most stores and libraries I've been trying have the fourth book under "currently unavailable." That's where the frustration is coming in, some have the first 1 or 2, and another will have the 3rd, but none have the last. I've had to audiobook it (not my favourite thing to do, especially jarring given that I read the first 3).

Edited by Kyoshi

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1 hour ago, Kyoshi said:

^^ thanks for the info. Would be great to get it all in one volume. Thing is, most stores and libraries I've been trying have the fourth book under "currently unavailable." That's where the frustration is coming in, some have the first 1 or 2, and another will have the 3rd, but none have the last. I've had to audiobook it (not my favourite thing to do, especially jarring given that I read the first 3). 

The entire series can be pretty hard to track down in individual volumes, but the 4th book especially so. I believe that one was only ever published in hardcover while the first 3 got the hardcover and paperback treatment. Fortunately, the 2 volume omnibus editions (book 1&2 in one volume and 3&4 in another) are, in my experience, pretty easy to find. Way easier than the individual volumes, at least.

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I finished Aliette De Bodard's The House of Shattered Wings. It's not a bad book, but I felt it wasn't as good as it could have been. The setting is probably the most memorable part of the story it's set in a ruined Paris several decades after a devastating war between different Houses. It's also a fantastical alternate history where the power is held by an array of immortal beings including fallen angels as well as mythical creatures from other mythologies (Vietnamese mythology being the most prominent). I think one problem is that the backstory sometimes seems more interesting than the present-day story, and what turns out to be the key event in the book happened long before the book starts. I think perhaps a split narrative where some of it was set in the Morningstar era and some in the 'present' might have been an interesting alternative. Another problem is that it's hard to feel much for most of the characters. There are several main characters but none of them are particularly memorable or likeable, Philippe is the closest thing the book has to a protagonist but for much of the book he is trying actively not to get involved and although some of the other characters seem to like him it's hard to see why. The book is well paced and there are some interesting twists along the way, but I'm not sure if I'll continue on with the series.

Next up is the book I've just bought - Yoon Ha Lee's Revenant Gun. I really liked the first two books in the series, so I'm looking forward to this.

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3 hours ago, williamjm said:

I finished Aliette De Bodard's The House of Shattered Wings. It's not a bad book, but I felt it wasn't as good as it could have been. The setting is probably the most memorable part of the story it's set in a ruined Paris several decades after a devastating war between different Houses. It's also a fantastical alternate history where the power is held by an array of immortal beings including fallen angels as well as mythical creatures from other mythologies (Vietnamese mythology being the most prominent). I think one problem is that the backstory sometimes seems more interesting than the present-day story, and what turns out to be the key event in the book happened long before the book starts. I think perhaps a split narrative where some of it was set in the Morningstar era and some in the 'present' might have been an interesting alternative. Another problem is that it's hard to feel much for most of the characters. There are several main characters but none of them are particularly memorable or likeable, Philippe is the closest thing the book has to a protagonist but for much of the book he is trying actively not to get involved and although some of the other characters seem to like him it's hard to see why. The book is well paced and there are some interesting twists along the way, but I'm not sure if I'll continue on with the series.

Next up is the book I've just bought - Yoon Ha Lee's Revenant Gun. I really liked the first two books in the series, so I'm looking forward to this.

This could have bee now written by me, if I was more eloquent. I plan to continue the series but haven’t got around to it yet. Low priority 

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