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July '18 Reading - What We Read in the Shadows

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1 hour ago, the Greenleif Stark said:

I just started Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, book one of The Song of Shattered Sands series....anyone read this/the series before and have comments? I'm only 2 chapters in but it seems ok, good start so far

It's a good series, which, even if it uses some common fantasy tropes, is getting better as the plot is kicked in somewhat unexpected places.

One of the best and a fresh approach compared to the northern european analogue grimdark that seems to be in fashion these days. I like it better than an Abercrombie production.

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Finished  Revenant Gun, the final book in the Machineries of Empire trilogy by Yoon Ha Lee, a great wrap up to the series.

Reread Riptide by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, after being reminded of it by an ad for the show Curse of Oak Island, since the book is basically a fictionalized account based on the real life mystery.

Also read Artemis by Andy Weir, loved the setting, a realistic colony on the Moon, tons of cool science stuff thrown in similar to The Martian, story not as good, but a fun book.

Currently reading Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock, been meaning to read it for years finally getting into it.

 

 

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Carthage Must be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization by Richard Miles. Heavy emphasis on the Punic Wars, of course, but I also really enjoyed the parts of the book dealing with Carthaginian/Punic origins and culture.

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Coffin, Scarcely Used by Colin Watson, a mid-century small English town setting for a police procedural.  It sounds a bit like Midsomer Murders but this is distinguished by the observant wit and wry, satiric narration of the various characters.  It has some comedy of manners but mainly a clever, observant rendering of people and their behavior.  This is the first in a series of Flaxborough Mysteries.  It was a fun diversion, a change-up in reading material, but I’m not sure it was compelling enough to push me on to the next installment. 

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1 hour ago, Astromech said:

Carthage Must be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization by Richard Miles. Heavy emphasis on the Punic Wars, of course, but I also really enjoyed the parts of the book dealing with Carthaginian/Punic origins and culture.

What did you think of it?  Some reviews accuse the author of inventing his own version of Carthage outside of historical evidence (written by the Roman and Greek enemies of Carthage) and projecting a utopian fantasy. 

I’d like to read more about Carthage but I’m wary of trawling through a rhapsody of the author’s wish fulfillment. 

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Inspired by the recent Philip K. Dick thread, I just finished Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said.  I thought it was good, if a bit dated, though the final third almost feels like a different story than the rest of the book.

On 7/12/2018 at 2:25 AM, the Greenleif Stark said:

I just started Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, book one of The Song of Shattered Sands series....anyone read this/the series before and have comments? I'm only 2 chapters in but it seems ok, good start so far

I read this recently and liked it quite a bit.  It seemed a bit clunky in places but the setting is nicely done and there  are at least hints of more depths to the villains than is obvious at first.  I'm a bit reluctant to start on all the sequels/prequels that have apparently already been published though; I'm not sure I'd want the story dragged out for too long.

(Incidentally, in the UK this was published as just 'Twelve Kings', which reminded me of the way that The Traitor Baru Comorant  was published as 'The Traitor' in the UK.  Is there a general preference for simpler/more generic titles among UK publishers?)

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Finished Mitchell's "Slade house" and it's a nice haunted house take that doesn't overstay it's welcome. Also follows his usual different POV and style per chapter approach he seems to favour.

Reading Tim Peake's "ask an astronaut". These people are superhumans and "the Martian" doesn't exaggerate them in my opinion. Interesting to see the differing personality and focus from Hadfield's book but it's clear they are both very driven individuals.

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11 hours ago, Iskaral Putsch said:

What did you think of it?  Some reviews accuse the author of inventing his own version of Carthage outside of historical evidence (written by the Roman and Greek enemies of Carthage) and projecting a utopian fantasy. 

I’d like to read more about Carthage but I’m wary of trawling through a rhapsody of the author’s wish fulfillment. 

I enjoyed it. I didn't find Miles was trying to invent his own version of Carthage but rather seemed to attempt to correct the biased historical record from Roman and Greek sources. (Polybius seems to be rather fair in his treatment of the Carthaginians and the Punic Wars according to Miles.) It's difficult when relying on those sources that were clearly biased, much of it being propaganda essentially. He doesn't take a Howard Zinn 180, thankfully. However, with the historical record being so tainted by the various sources (other than archaeological evidence), Miles may have been making assumptions or educated guesses about certain aspects of Carthaginian culture and society, possibly filling in the blanks. He definitely diverges from the historical sources and attempts to paint Carthage and Carthaginians in a more favorable light, at times seeming to champion them, but it never seemed heavy-handed. I've read much worse history books

 I've been looking for the archaeologist Serge Lancel's works on Carthage(which Miles cites to quite often), but even in their original French they are hard to find. At least where I'm located. I may have to just order them online.

 

Next up, back to WW1 with Byron Farwell's The Great War in Africa: 1914-1918. Excited to read about that badass Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck.

Edited by Astromech

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7 hours ago, Iskaral Putsch said:

@Astromech thanks, that’s a really helpful review.  I think I’ll give it a try. 

No problem. I hope you like it.

 

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Finished On The Lee Shore, third in Philip K. Allen’s Alex Clay Series of historical fiction in the age of sail.  Very good again.  This time we see the in-shore squadron blockading France.  Unfortunately this was only recently published so I’ll have to wait for anything further in this series. 

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On 7/14/2018 at 5:21 PM, Triskjavikson said:

I'm about 100 pages into The Three-Body Problem.  I thought the opening chapters were great and am a little more on the fence now but will persist.  

Cool, looking forward to your thoughts as this has been in my TBR pile for a long time.

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I just finished reading Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. She does a good job of taking Eastern European fairy tales and mythology and converting them into novel-length stories. If you liked Uprooted, you'll probably like this one too (although they're completely independent from each other).

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