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First Quarter 2020 Reading

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I have just started The Second Sleep by Robert Harris. Ostensibly about a priest investigating the murder of a fellow cleric, but to say more would spoil the first big reveal.

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I finally started The Light of All That Falls, the third book in the Licanius Trilogy. I've had it queued up for a couple weeks but been kind of eh about starting it since I found book 2 rather a slog. Book 3 has been a definite improvement, including a very helpful recap of the series at the beginning that I SWEAR included info that was never adequately explained in book 2. Not sure if it was an author retcon or I had just glazed over it, but it's a simple enough concept and one that I noticed immediately when it was referred to in-text by characters in this volume.

I'm also about 60% of the way through the audiobook of Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold. I am really enjoying this quite a lot, although not sure if it's better than the first book. I do like this narrator better than the first book's (who was prone to more acting than I like in an audiobook), so that's nice. I'm about to head out on a long run today and I'm really looking forward to spending another couple hours with it!

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I finished  Gideon the Ninth earlier this week. In fact I read the last few chapters over my lunch hour and was unprepared for an emotional gut punch while sitting in the break room. Parts of the setting just didn't seem to link up with portions of Gideon's internal and external dialogue but in the end I stopped caring because I was entertained. This book was unlike anything I've every read before and I'm very interested in the second book Harrow the Ninth.

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45 minutes ago, Starkess said:

I finally started The Light of All That Falls, the third book in the Licanius Trilogy. I've had it queued up for a couple weeks but been kind of eh about starting it since I found book 2 rather a slog. Book 3 has been a definite improvement, including a very helpful recap of the series at the beginning that I SWEAR included info that was never adequately explained in book 2. Not sure if it was an author retcon or I had just glazed over it, but it's a simple enough concept and one that I noticed immediately when it was referred to in-text by characters in this volume.

I'm also about 60% of the way through the audiobook of Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold. I am really enjoying this quite a lot, although not sure if it's better than the first book. I do like this narrator better than the first book's (who was prone to more acting than I like in an audiobook), so that's nice. I'm about to head out on a long run today and I'm really looking forward to spending another couple hours with it!

I finished the Licanius Trilogy a few months ago and was just 'whelmed' by it. It had some cool ideas but I felt a lot of the characters besides Caeden and Davian weren't fleshed out enough. I found the author's prose to be middling as well, thus, hard to engage with. 

 

Currently finishing up The Witchwood Crown by Tad Williams. I very much like this (and The Heart of What Was Lost), moreso than Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. There is more of a pace to it and I think I prefer the newer characters to that of just soley Simon for the most part in the original trilogy. I usually hate when mysterious elements are explained (i.e. Jokers or Wolverines origin stories) but really enjoy exploring the Norn culture in these new entries. If Tad Williams continues on this streak, this newer trilogy will be recommended for those wanting ASOIF-like books. 

 

I've been browsing around and saw a novel called In the Eye of Heaven by David Keck? Anyone read it? It has a poor score on Goodreads but it seems up my alley and I'm up for underrated gems. Any fans out there? 

 

Also thinking of trying on Legacy of Ash by Matthew Ward or The Ember Blade by Chris Wooding. Thoughts on these? 

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11 hours ago, Peadar said:

I have just started The Second Sleep by Robert Harris. Ostensibly about a priest investigating the murder of a fellow cleric, but to say more would spoil the first big reveal.

Ha.

Spoiler for the first uh 20 pages.

Spoiler

In the US the first big reveal is spoiled all over the cover and blurb. I guess in the UK it wasn't given away at all.

 

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4 hours ago, mix_masta_micah said:

I've been browsing around and saw a novel called In the Eye of Heaven by David Keck? Anyone read it? It has a poor score on Goodreads but it seems up my alley and I'm up for underrated gems. Any fans out there? 

I quite liked it. It's a slow burn. Interesting enough premise and setup, and I liked the accessible and easy to parse prose. Keck spent a fair few years doing research before writing the book, from what I recall reading somewhere, but on what in particular I could not tell you right this moment. 

It's also *not* a doorstopper, which is always a bonus for me and my reading preferences. It's a three-book series, and the covers are quite artful as well.

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5 hours ago, mix_masta_micah said:

Also thinking of trying on Legacy of Ash by Matthew Ward or The Ember Blade by Chris Wooding. Thoughts on these? 

I enjoyed The Ember Blade, it was deliberately designed to be a bit of a throwback to 80s/90s Epic Fantasy and I thought it did that well. I'd say out of Wooding's work I preferred his Tales of the Ketty Jay and The Fade.

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2 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

Ha.

Spoiler for the first uh 20 pages.

  Reveal hidden contents

In the US the first big reveal is spoiled all over the cover and blurb. I guess in the UK it wasn't given away at all.

 

I don’t think it explicitly mentions anything but the first line (which is all over the publicity) is a bit of a giveaway.

I’m listening to the BBC radio reading of it, which is available worldwide afaik, in case anyone’s interested (it’s abridged though, presumably).

Edited by john

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Finished The Body In The Dales by JR Ellis, a pretty conventional murder mystery set in present day rural Yorkshire.  Although one of the characters mentioned Miss Marple and “chocolate box village” murders, it’s really like a Yorkshire version of Inspector Morse, albeit lower brow.  It was unimpressive overall.  Not bad, but it felt like any middle of the road British police detective TV series, and no extra quality in the prose to set it apart.  I won’t read any more by this author.

Also finished The Skipper’s Dog’s Called Stalin by David Black, the second volume in his Harry Gilmour series of WWII submariners.  It’s reasonably well written, and captures a sense of the time as well as the very specific environment and culture of the submarines, but this second novel suffers from the same flaw as the first: it lacks narrative structure.  If you’re going to have such a meandering, wishy-washy narrative then you need great characterization or profound insight or dashing prose or something more to compensate for the lack.  I had hoped the author would improve after his first novel, but I’m not seeing enough to come back for a third.

 

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5 hours ago, williamjm said:

I enjoyed The Ember Blade, it was deliberately designed to be a bit of a throwback to 80s/90s Epic Fantasy and I thought it did that well. I'd say out of Wooding's work I preferred his Tales of the Ketty Jay and The Fade.

I really enjoyed The Braided Path as well, but The Tales of the Ketty Jay is definitely his best.

 

On 1/29/2020 at 2:40 PM, RedEyedGhost said:

Recently read, and highly enjoyed, books 6 and 7 of Benedict Jacka's Alex Verus Series - Veiled and Burned.  The latter reminded me quite significantly of The Dresden Files book Changes.  I was planning on taking a break from this series to read A Little Hatred, but decided to just keep on with it and have just started Bound.  Only two more books are available right now... must force myself to take a break after this one.

I was weak willed, and rolled straight into book 9 on Sunday - Marked - enjoyed it immensely, finished it on Wednesday.  The ending was surprisingly happier than I had expected the entire time I was reading it. 

I did start A Little Hatred on Thursday, but haven't had a lot time to read the past few days.  Have read the first two chapters, and did enjoy meeting Dogman's and Finree's kids, as well as seeing Isern again.

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9 hours ago, john said:

I don’t think it explicitly mentions anything but the first line (which is all over the publicity) is a bit of a giveaway.

There are a LOT of clues early on. I kept thinking, "surely that's a mistake? But no, no, the author knows ten times more about this* than I ever will, so I let it pass.

 

*I'm being as vague as I possibly can here.

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1 hour ago, Peadar said:

There are a LOT of clues early on. I kept thinking, "surely that's a mistake? But no, no, the author knows ten times more about this* than I ever will, so I let it pass.

 

*I'm being as vague as I possibly can here.

Heh, I’ll just use spoiler text

Spoiler

You’re right, I said it was a giveaway but it’s more like “hang on, there’s something odd going on here ...” Kind of reminds me of your The Inferior, which had a similar incongruous reference in the blurb.

Actually, I was a little disappointed because I wanted to find out more about the historical segmented sleep and how even Robert Harris could manage to make a thriller out of that concept. Instead it seems like a bit of a heavy handed metaphor for societal change.

 

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Nice to see love for Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. More people need to read that (and embrace the footnotes...they are fun!)

Speaking of Williams, I am taking a break from Stone of Farewell. I am considering dumping the series per Triskele but will probably persist out of blind loyalty to a childhood fave. Now reading Madame Bovary and loving it. Think I stumbled across a great translation. 

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14 hours ago, RedEyedGhost said:

I really enjoyed The Braided Path as well, but The Tales of the Ketty Jay is definitely his best.

I think the Braided Path trilogy is definitely worth reading as well, but I'd probably put it behind his other works. Comparing it to The Ember Blade, I think the Braided Path books are more interesting in terms of setting and premise but I probably enjoyed The Ember Blade more.

3 hours ago, Paxter said:

Nice to see love for Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. More people need to read that (and embrace the footnotes...they are fun!) 

It does have the best footnotes (and also the longest footnotes).

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1 hour ago, williamjm said:

I think the Braided Path trilogy is definitely worth reading as well, but I'd probably put it behind his other works. Comparing it to The Ember Blade, I think the Braided Path books are more interesting in terms of setting and premise but I probably enjoyed The Ember Blade more.

That's good to hear.  I'll probably be waiting until the final book in the new series is complete before reading it (I have already purchased it though).

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6 hours ago, Paxter said:

Now reading Madame Bovary and loving it.

The musical adaption of Madame Bovary is crazy and audacious in equal parts. And ludicrous as it gets.

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On 2/17/2020 at 12:54 PM, RedEyedGhost said:

I was weak willed, and rolled straight into book 9 on Sunday - Marked - enjoyed it immensely, finished it on Wednesday.  The ending was surprisingly happier than I had expected the entire time I was reading it. 

I’m glad to see that you are giving positive reviews to the later books of the Alex Verus Series. I was highly invested in the series for a while, then dropped it in the middle of book six, Veiled. The activities of White Rose zapped the fun out of reading. I’ll try to pick it up again soon.

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On 2/16/2020 at 4:54 PM, IlyaP said:

I quite liked it. It's a slow burn. Interesting enough premise and setup, and I liked the accessible and easy to parse prose. Keck spent a fair few years doing research before writing the book, from what I recall reading somewhere, but on what in particular I could not tell you right this moment. 

It's also *not* a doorstopper, which is always a bonus for me and my reading preferences. It's a three-book series, and the covers are quite artful as well.

Keck is a bit of an acquired taste. I'm a fan, and there are some others here, but those books are odd. Someone on here once compared them to the film Excalibur, which if you've ever seen, you know is kind acid trippy.

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Just read the non fiction My Friend Anna, about the recently convicted US fraudster Anna Sorokin. Once the author's relationship with Anna had gone bad she started logging every message they exchanged, and even recorded their last meeting. So the book is basically an extremely detailed account of a sociopath interacting with their victim (who does ultimately manage to turn the tables somewhat), written partly as catharsis. I found it seriously thought provoking.

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