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Garett Hornwood

Second Quarter 2019 Reading

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It's April 1st and it's the start of the second quarter of the year!

My primary read is Elliot Brooks' Peace and Turmoil.  Brooks is a BookTuber (someone you reviews books on YouTube) and I've been subscribed to her channel for almost a year now, the tropes she likes and dislikes are close to mine, and I decided to get her first book (a print-on-demand) publish two weeks ago to atleast support her and maybe even enjoy, we'll see.

My current "home read" is The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides.

And my weekend read is a biography, Lewis C. Sheafe: Apostle to Black America by Douglas Morgan.

So what are you reading?

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I finished Ruin of Kings and ultimately found it unsatisfying. Didn't much care about the main character which the entire book is about, hated the unnecessary narrative splits and...

Spoiler

I really disliked the confusing nature that souls are switching bodies, people can't die, etc.

In the process of reading The Ship of Smoke and Steel by Django Wexler. No idea if it's good yet.

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Just finished Red Sister by Mark Lawrence. Really liked it. 

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Second quarter is a big re-read project and I am well on the way. My first re-reads are THE HOBBIT and LOTR.  Currently just about to finish THE TWO TOWERS and have really enjoyed visiting Middle Earth again.

Having read THE HOBBIT so long ago I didn't have much memory of it, it's Ok but really missed the quality of the writing in LOTR.  

I'm finding it interesting to read this series while having the movies playing in my head.  Yes, I can see the movies flaws more clearly, but fortunately it doesn't detract from the story.

After LOTR I plan to re-read WATERSHIP DOWN.  Another book read so long ago.  I really didn't like it, but I also don't think I understood it so want to give it another go.

 

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I enjoyed The Ship of Steel and Smoke by Django Wexler well enough. I didn't find it as good as his previous series as I thought the focus was very tight and the intrigue pretty limited but the action was solid, the magic interesting enough and I'm curious to see where it goes.

Reading The Ember Blade by Chris Wooding. Happy to get into a more traditional fantasy from a writer I enjoy.

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I just finished the third book in Ian MacDonald's Moon trilogy (Luna: Moon Rising). It was a decent book with some fun parts, but like the second book, it didn't live up to the promise of the first. It has too many unnecessary characters and plotlines competing for attention and not enough attention to the most interesting plotlines or payoff until the last third of the book. While I still respect MacDonald's worldbuilding in this trilogy, there are also just a few too many ridiculous elements; I still think the whole werewolf plotline is pretty damn dumb.

I also read The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It's a prequel to The Shadow of the Wind; like that book, it's a mix of magic-realism and pulp fiction. The writing can be beautiful, Zafon is very funny, and I loved the first half. The second half got a little too ridiculous and as the plot ramped up, too boring. 

The best book I've read recently has been The Hod King by Bancroft. Aside from the book's strange structure, which doesn't work to its benefit, it's one of the most exciting, well-written, and moving fantasy books I've read in a long time- even better than the already very good first two books. I'm excited for the conclusion.

Now I'm starting a re-read of Gene Wolfe's Book of the Short Sun, which I haven't read in eight years or so.

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Just started "Kafka on the Shore" by Murakami. So far so good. It was recommended to me because I enjoyed "Number 9 Dream" by David Mitchell. Both are very well written, set in a Japan that contains magical realism. Any other similar books out there that you guys have enjoyed?

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I put this in First Quarter reading by mistake. 

 

I woke up today to see Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence and a new KJ Parker have downloaded to my Kindle. Nice!

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Posted (edited)

I am reading J. McTaggart's The Nature of Existence, an early twentieth century text on metaphysics that influenced Bertrand Russell and includes the now infamous argument that time is unreal.

I am also reading (well, re-reading) Moby Dick. I read it a while ago and I think I skipped many of the chapters on whales and the history of whaling. I always thought the concept of the story was extremely powerful but I remember the execution did not live up to it when I read it, but I'm enjoying it a lot more this time so maybe I was just too young to appreciate before.  

Edited by Nothing Has Changed

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I finished Peace and Turmoil by Elliot Brooks this past Sunday, the first half of the book was good and interesting but it completely fell apart during the third-quarter because the big political developments--that make some people think this is a fantasy political thriller--just don't make sense and really soured the book for me.  Overall Brooks' writing was good for a first time author and even though I didn't like how the political stuff turned, Brooks did craft an interesting climactic ending to set up her next book.

I've started reading World Mythology by Donna Rosenberg, which is retellings of myths from around the world by Rosenberg along with analysis and set up at the beginning of each.  Apparently this is a textbook, which I didn't realize when I purchased it when I was in college 15 years ago from my local used book store.  Anyways, some of her analysis is WTF (she's a real proponent of Great Goddess/matriarchal religions being suppressed by patriarchal religions) and some is insightful.  I haven't left the Greece/Rome section yet so haven't expanded out into the wider world.

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I'm working on the second book of the Shadows of the Apt series. So far it's just okay. It's definitely a war book, and I don't find reading long descriptions of fighting particularly interesting. I think this one is a matter of personal taste, it's not poorly written or anything. Still, I plan to keep going as I don't figure such a long series can solely be about bug-people fighting.

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Lately finished The Light Fantastic for a little closure on the Rincewind / Twoflower / Luggage saga.  Enjoyed it, but will take a Discworld break for a few books I think.

Over the weekend finished The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke.  I liked it but probably not quite as much as the other Clarke novel I read this year (Rendezvous with Rama).  Overall though I have found myself really digging the old sci-fi stuff I’ve been sprinkling into my reading diet over the past couple of years.  Even if certain ideas fall flat after 40 to 70ish years its always interesting to me to read speculations about the future that come from that time period near the dawn of the space / computer / atomic age.  And really, a lot of it is impressively prescient.  Maybe they didn’t nail the exact form but there are plenty of ideas way ahead of thier time.  Makes it fun to delve into occasionally.

For a complete shifting of gears I’m currently reading A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman.  It’s a general overview of the numerous disasters that plagued 14th century Europe with a lot of information about the culture and structure of society at that time.  Good stuff so far, but it’s fairly lengthy and I have a feeling I’ll be at this one for a few weeks.

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I have started Lum'en, a French SF by my friend Laurent Genefort. Not sure if it's in English yet. So far, I have encountered a religious cult that, rather than looking for converts, creates new believers via a test tube...

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I finished the Harry Potter books. The early books are more Roald Dahl like than I was expecting but they get pretty dark later on in the series. Overall they were enjoyable but I think was probably reading them at the wrong age to really love them.

Also Quidditch, surprisingly given I'd heard a lot about it even as someone who hadn't read the books, isn't a particularly well designed sport. Bit of a let down.

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Quidditch is fairly ridiculous because the capture of the snitch is almost always (there was the exception in the WC in #4 but not in any school game, afair) "sudden death" and makes the normal "field goals" somewhat irrelevant. It's entertaining enough for such a book series (and it serves the purpose of giving Harry something he excels at in the wizard world) but I think JKR realized that it had outstayed its welcome after the 4th book or so.

Some people actually play it.

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1 hour ago, End of Disc One said:

wut

Yeah, it's pretty hilarious to watch. Many universities have a team, or at least used to. The snitch is a person in tights with a yellow handkerchief sticking out who runs really fast.

But yeah, quidditch makes no sense, and it's only purpose is to make Harry be super special (that one game in book 4 where the losing team gets the snitch is just really, really dumb). In general, this is the problem with HP for me; the world makes no sense, but in the early books, when everything is whimsical and fun, it doesn't really matter. Later on, once everything gets super dark, it's hard to take any of it seriously.

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I am sufficiently childish to have enjoyed HP in my late 20s (started a few months before book 4 came out) and I pre-ordered the last three and devoured them in a day or two. During this time (ca. 2001-2007) I also re-read the earlier books several times. But after book 7 I was finished as well and didn't revisit the series again. I probably re-read 5 and 6 once before 7 appeared but I was never really convinced by the later books although the whole thing is wrapped up nicely. In hindsight I also think that the first three books are the most successful, especially the 3rd. The turn towards a much darker atmosphere at the end of #4 is impressively done but overall the whimsical episodic earlier books work better in that world than the old "fight the dark lord" trope that doesn't square well with the boarding school setting.

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Finished Conqueror's Child in March, the last book in the Holdfast chronicles by Suzy McKee Charnas.  Ends with a bit hope which was great after how bleak the earlier books were. 

Also read through F.M. Busby's short story collection, Getting Home.  Enjoyed several of the stories including the title one.  Several stories introduce some very interesting aliens, both their biology and view of the world. 

Burned through Tiamat's Wrath in a couple nights,  really enjoyed it, one of the best books in the series.

Now about half way into City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty.   Loving the setting and mythology.

Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence and Elven Winter by Bernhard Hennen are up next.

 

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On 4/10/2019 at 3:08 AM, Starkess said:

I'm working on the second book of the Shadows of the Apt series. So far it's just okay. It's definitely a war book, and I don't find reading long descriptions of fighting particularly interesting. I think this one is a matter of personal taste, it's not poorly written or anything. Still, I plan to keep going as I don't figure such a long series can solely be about bug-people fighting.

The amount of war in the books does go up and down over the series. I think Dragonfly Falling and the eighth book The Air War (unsurprisingly) are probably the most focused on battles, whereas there aren't many in others.

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