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Garett Hornwood

Fourth Quarter 2019 Reading

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On 11/28/2019 at 5:35 PM, Iskaral Pust said:

Finished Coconut Cowboy by Tim Dorsey, which is apparently #19 in the Serge Storms series, although it’s my first exposure to this author and this series.  This is a humorous series about a proud native of Florida with an encyclopediac knowledge of the history of his state, who is a serial killer of inconsiderate douche bags.  He is accompanied on an Easy Rider-inspired jaunt by his permanently inebriated/stoned side kick as the search to reverse the disappearance of the American Dream.  There’s also a story of small-town, red-neck corruption, and eventually the two plot arcs intersect.

This is definitely funny and weird, and seems like a blend of Hunter S. Thompson and Justified.  I enjoyed it and laughed with it.  But I doubt I’ll be reading all 18 of the earlier volumes. I might try another if discounted on Kindle. 

Sounds like something from Carl Hiaassen, but mixed with 'Dexter'.

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"The Queen of Nothing" by Holly Black. A disappointing conclusion to a very promising YA trilogy, the first 2 books of which took interesting chances with the formula only to gleefully jump back into it's embrace in the 3rd and to tie quite a few plotlines in a very perfunctory and unsatisfying manner. I do like her take on the Fae and how their lives intersect with and affect (and endanger) those of modern(ish) people, but she needs to take more risks with her characters and overall plots, IMHO.

"The Secret Chapter" by Genevieve Cogman. Another installment in her "Invisible Library" series - this time a heist novel. Loved it.

"Storm Cursed" by Patricia Briggs. Another installment in her "Mercedes Thompson" series. This is N°12 and I am getting fed up with the "Queen Bee" syndrom, which she seemed to be easing up on, but now returned to with a vengeance. I am tired of (nearly) all women hating/snubbing the heroine because they are jealous of her romantic relationships and friendships with various  men or because they think that she is not worthy of/good for her male love interests/friends or whatever. It doesn't make her cool, it only exposes the self-hating sexism of the respective romance tropes. Ditto, very uneven and gender-dependant application of moral judgement, where evil men are always more redeemable. 

"Full Throttle" short fiction collection by Joe Hill. I don't like pure horror as a rule, but I guess that he has something that kept me interested enough to finish it.

Now listening to "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky and liking it, and reading "Permafrost" novella by Alistair Reynolds - which seems rather similar to GRRM's "The Fortress" so far.

 

Edited by Maia

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The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan, part of The Wheel of Time cycle of course. An... interesting book. I like narrative technique deployed by Jordan, it certainly stirred up the pot. Rand being factually absent from the story was a nice idea, and what’s more when he was present he was very obviously going mad, which, again, is a nice idea (though not a surprise). This style also gave time to some other characters to grow, Mat in particular. I would agree with those that say the before TDR Mat is a non-character, more of an accessory or even equipment dragged by real characters. It has some justification in story being told, but reason for it transpired fully in this book and Mat gets to show some personality at last. I’m not very fond of it, but it’s here at least. What’s also great is pace. Damn, The Dragon Reborn really pushes forward, things just happen and that’s good, given the snail speed at which this story is typically moving (hey, more than ten books of more than thousand pages typically, a lot of walking is being done here).

I’m also halfway through The Shadow Rising, next book of the series. I see what Jordan is doing here but I’m afraid it starts to wear me out (already...). TDR really summed up a vital part of the main story, and to get plot going again Jordan needed to assemble his characters, place them on the board and give them a kick to open new chapter (which will presumably take few books to get told). This initial, prime movement took poor Robert like, what. 250 pages? It’s a lot. I don’t know if I can keep up with this for all these books to come. Rand is a character again and I don’t like it, I don’t much like subplots either, but I’m only halfway through, as said, so I’ll hold judgment.
 

Edited by Lessingham

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5 hours ago, Lessingham said:

I’m also halfway through The Shadow Rising, next book of the series. I see what Jordan is doing here but I’m afraid it starts to wear me out (already...).

The Shadow Rising is amazing. Give it time to breathe. It's a book of convergences and game-changers. 

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I mentioned a bit back that I was giving Tad Williams' The Dragonbone Chair a try for the first time ever and was quite meh about 1/3 through.  I put it down for a while and something made me eventually pick it back up.  I still wasn't loving it until about the final third and then felt like it became much more compelling, and by the end I was genuinely interested in where it was going far moreso than in the first 2/3 or so.  Considering going on to the next book in the series now.  

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Since the last time I posted I felt like reading some space opera and I saw The Cruel Stars by John Birmingham, whose time travel/alternative history/ WW2 books I remember sort of enjoying, so I decided to give it a go. It's really not great. I've also read Sword of Justice by Christian Cameron which was ok but this series doesn't hold my attention as much as his other books. I'm not quite sure why, the time period they're set in is quite interesting, it might be because they're a bit unfocused. I just finished Age of Assassins by RJ Barker which is pretty good.

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Finally finished up Saturn Run. I had never read anything by John Sandford before (apparently he's a well-known thriller novelist), so I had no idea what to expect. I really enjoyed it, although it could definitely have been tightened up in places that really dragged. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator was good.

I'm woefully behind in my yearly challenge but that's okay. I don't have anything on the docket now, so I think I am going to start re-reading the Lightbringer series and then go on to the final book.

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On 12/6/2019 at 1:46 AM, End of Disc One said:

I read The Dragonbone Chair earlier this year--I feel like I'm the only person who loved the first 1/3 and even though it was the best part of the book.  The last 1/3 was quite good too.

I've been stuck on this for a year now. 

Am at the point in the book where Simon's found a rather famous "prisoner". 

Struggling to understand why the book isn't working for me. 

I suspect, probably, that it's the font, of all things, that's really causing me problems. The font is very blotchy, and thankfully serif-based, but I get *constant* eyestrain from reading it. (Daw edition with the green-tinted wrap-around cover.)

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I forgot I had started The Lathe of Heaven, so I finished that last night. A very strange and in many ways unsatisfying book, but very well-written (no surprise, LeGuin is a master) and a quick read.

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I'm 3/4 of the way through 'A Little Life' by Hanya Yanagihara and holy shit this book is sad as fuck.

It is very good though.

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On 11/18/2019 at 5:55 PM, Vaughn said:

Reading 'the Bone Ships' based on a rec. here somewhere.

So far, entertaining, but my one quibble is that the author uses 'bone' way too much. It's like the Smurfs - but instead of smurf as the universal prefix, it's bone. 'The crew of the boneship raised its sails on the towering bonemasts...'

But, the boneship connects to the, bonemasts...

 

Also, I remember liking Night Circus. :dunno: I think it got better after a pretty slow start.

 

Additionally, I finished Maugham's Short Stories Vol 1. I think it was utterly brilliant, and possibly my favourite overall read of the year. All the positive things I said in previous posts felt fully realised by the end of the collection, while at the same time my appreciation of his writing also grew. While I wouldn't say the collection does much to celebrate the human condition in a positive way, at the same time it's such a concise and intriguing exploration that it really does feel like a delight, in hindsight.

Now I'm reading Samantha Power's The Education of an Idealist. First book by a female author this year :blush: It's also the third autobiography I'm reading, after Chris Hadfield and Bill Browder. These are not my usual reads; I've only read about 10-15 in my lifetime. I think the format can be something of a slog. I picked up these books because of the incredible things these people did later in life, and while they are interesting people with fascinating life stories, I'm not really reading them out of a gossip-like curiosity for various anecdotes. However, the reverse is true of people like Peter Kay (the UK comedian), who can write a uniformly enjoyable autobiography on the basis that you are only reading that story for the anecdotes (and wit). 

To be honest, both Hadfield and Browder's autobiographies were struggles at times. When I realised that Samantha Power's book was longer than either of them, I was a little bit concerned. However, I think this book has been much better edited. There is a real sense of momentum within the first 100 pages. At a (narrative) point where Browder was still languishing in his early investment troubles, Power is already exploring war-torn Bosnia. The author herself is fairly sympathetic (as is Hadfield, and at least later on Browder), but I suppose that's the point of an autobiography. They might be a right pack of bastards. But I do find myself engaged already - the central theme of this book has been struck upon early, and I hope it stays on track for the rest. 

 

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12 hours ago, IlyaP said:

I suspect, probably, that it's the font, of all things, that's really causing me problems. The font is very blotchy, and thankfully serif-based, but I get *constant* eyestrain from reading it. (Daw edition with the green-tinted wrap-around cover.)

Time for reading glasses? I found this happening to me more and more. The last straw was a monster edition of Aldiss's Helliconia Trilogy with smallish print. Following that, I went to the optician...

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I finished Peter F. Hamilton's Salvation Lost. It was a fairly typical Hamilton book, the usual mix of high-concept space opera, action, mystery and bad sex scenes. I liked the way the first book in the series had gradually revealed the nature of the threat facing humanity and the second book did a good job of developing that and introducing a few new twists as it became clear some of the characters were a bit over-confident in terms of how much they thought they knew about what was going on. The far-future part of the story was the more compelling this time around (I thought the opposite was true in the first book). I think the weakest subplot was the one focusing on a criminal gang in London who find themselves entangled in an alien conspiracy, all the characters in that part of the storyline were unlikeable and although it does intersect with the main plot towards the end most of what happened in the subplot felt irrelevant.

Next up I think I'll start Erin Morgenstern's The Starless Sea.

On 12/5/2019 at 2:46 PM, End of Disc One said:

I read The Dragonbone Chair earlier this year--I feel like I'm the only person who loved the first 1/3 and even though it was the best part of the book.  The last 1/3 was quite good too.

It's been well over a decade since I read the series so I can't remember exactly how far into the book certain things happen but I remember liking the initial part of the story and thought it was a good introduction to the characters, however the pacing really slowed to a crawl later in the book before it got more compelling again towards the end.

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12 hours ago, Peadar said:

Time for reading glasses? I found this happening to me more and more. The last straw was a monster edition of Aldiss's Helliconia Trilogy with smallish print. Following that, I went to the optician...

Already own a pair. Haven't tried reading with them, since nothing's really required it of me thus far in life. 

Might give it a go today at a cafe. 

Have ordered the big TPB version at my local deale-erm, I mean, supplier. 

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Alan Furst has released a new installment in his historical espionage series of those who know the German invasion and war is coming, and planning in their own ways to create effective spy and resistance networks, before and after. 

Under Occupation (Nov., 12, 2019), is set in 1942 occupied Paris and Germany. In the previous books, the United States alliance against Germany is what, they are all, in the end, hoping for, and / or sending people to for safety (as well as London).

These days, the reader can't help but think about, despite how cruelly the US refused landings of Jewish refugees so much of the time, escaping Hitler, this time around, as the global catastrophes expand, that option isn't available for anybody -- nor is London now either -- which rather colors how one will read this novel, perhaps?  We shall see. It does seem pertinent already that, as much praise and regard there is for Furst's series in the past, nobody is talking about this one.  I don't think this is because the book is inferior -- certainly the first chapters I've read say otherwise.  It's because we're embarrassed by the difference between then and now.

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I started The Ember Blade by Chris Wooding because I thought I saw some positive reviews for it around here.  But I dropped it at 50%.  It wasn’t terrible, just generic and therefore dull.  Now I’m wondering if I confused the title with something else. 

Too much fantasy feels repetitive these days.  Joe Abercrombie is one of the few who stands out, even though there seems to be dozens trying to copy him. 

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