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Third Quarter 2020 Reading is a Joy

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Posted (edited)

Started reading Sanderson's Way of Kings Prime. It's a very different book to the one that eventually got published, and reading it comes with quite a sense of the uncanny with so much being familiar but different. I doubt I'll finish it before Peace Talks comes out so I'll probably end up re-starting it, and then seguing in to a full Stormlight Archive re-read in preparation for Rhythm of War which should make for an interesting contrast / comparison between both version of Way of Kings.

Edited by Poobah

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Read Guns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikvosky, really enjoyed this tale of a genteel girl from an impoverished noble family, who is conscripted into her nation's army, forced to pick up a musket, and fight as a soldier.   A great story of her transformation into a soldier and her understanding of what they are fighting for told from her limited, boots on the ground, perspective of the war.

Read Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre by Max Brooks.   Similar to World Z, we are told the story after the fact, pieced together by an investigative journalist mainly from one woman's journal of the events along with some interviews with interested parties and those who witnessed the aftermath  along with some related documentation and research articles.  Basically we are figuring out what happened to an isolated high tech enclave, deep in the forest near Mt. Rainier, who are cutoff by the sudden eruption of the volcano and come in contact with a legendary creature fleeing from the volcano.   Slow start to introduce you to the community, but then speeds up as the members of the community scramble to deal with the effects of the volcanic disaster, even before they begin to understand something unimaginably worse is coming.

 

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1 hour ago, Leofric said:

Read Guns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikvosky, really enjoyed this tale of a genteel girl from an impoverished noble family, who is conscripted into her nation's army, forced to pick up a musket, and fight as a soldier.   A great story of her transformation into a soldier and her understanding of what they are fighting for told from her limited, boots on the ground, perspective of the war.

The is one of my favourites out of Tchaikovsky's books even if it feels like many of his other books get more attention.

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I finished Six Moon Dance by Sheri S. Tepper yesterday. It was the sort of science fiction book a lot of fantasy fans would enjoy because it focuses a lot on "world-building" and the culture of the particular planet it's set on. It follows the stories of multiple characters, both human natives of the planet and visiting Earthlings, as they deal with both social and environmental problems in the world. Tepper's work is known for focusing on gender issues. Those are prominent here, but definitely have less anti-male bias and more humor than some of her other work. There are some interesting reversals from average cultures -- men are veiled so as not to arouse the lust of women, and married women are allowed to have "consorts" while married men do not have mistresses. There are humans who have been turned into monsters and other aspects which would fit well into fantasy, though in the end they are "explained" scientifically (if not 100% plausibly). The characters are complex and though there is a good bit of sex and violence it ends up being more optimistic than some of Tepper's other work. I am glad I read it and recommend as a fun read.

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Over the past few weeks, I've re-read The Liveships Trilogy by Robyn Robb, finished Fighting Napoleon, by Charles Esdaile, begun The Art of War by Baron de Jomini, and have re-read The Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore, and Redcoat, by Richard Holmes

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Finished The Light Brigade last night while on my first train journey since February. Can't decide whether I'd rank it higher or lower than A Memory Called Empire. I feel like they're level-pegging. 

I'd like to write more, but I'm away from my laptop. 

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I finished listening to Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. I wasn't wowed by this one. It's a very literary-style character study of a mixed-race family in the 1970s orbiting around the death of their middle daughter. I found the characters to be mostly unlikeable or flat or both, so I wasn't totally sold on it. I certainly don't think I was on the same page as the author seemed to be pushing about the dynamics of the family. But it was very well-written, and interesting enough to hold my attention through the whole audiobook. A good narrator helped.

I just started listening to The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. I really enjoyed Night Circus, but so far this one I have found my mind wandering a lot. Hopefully as it gets going I'll be able to focus better.

I am also reading The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin. I found the first section a snore, but it's becoming a bit more interesting now. I'm about 25% in and feel like it's finally getting started. The writing is a bit difficult to hold my attention. It's very utilitarian, and I get the feeling the translation is the dragging it down. No offense to the translator, I'm sure he did a wonderful job, things just don't always translate well. Still, I want to finish this, as my boyfriend is reading the trilogy and really wants to talk with me about it, and he's not much of a reader, so it would be nice to share this.

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I read Tade Thompson's Rosewater. It's a bit of a strange book. There's a lot of stuff going on in the worldbuilding, a lot of stuff, but not a huge amount actually happens with the plot itself. I think I liked it overall. I'll probably read the sequel anyway to see where it's all going.

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Posted (edited)

Quarantine has me singlehandedly catching up to my 2020 Goodreads goal for the year (20 books after a dismal 2019 performance), burning through the Expanse series. I'm going on 1 book in less than a week and will be sad to finish it out. The series really does capture the feel of the original Star Trek series and the adventures of James T Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise in space. Really hits the nostalgia buttons for me though I recognize the writing is not particularly subtle or advanced. Very reminiscient of a John Scalzi novel in today's sci-fi as far as I can relate it. Still, give me a hundred more of them because I'm already dreading the wait for the last book and what I might be able to turn to next in the meantime.

Edited by WarGalley

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Finished West's The Riven Shield and will begin The Sun Sword a bit later tonight. 

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I finished Peace Talks. So as I understand it Peace Talks and Battle Ground were one book that was split into two because Butcher's publishers thought it was too long and Peace Talks does feel like half a book. There's some interesting things in the book but pretty much none of it is resolved. I'd be quite annoyed if it was a long wait for the next book but since it's coming out in a couple of months it's not the end of the world I suppose.

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I am grinding my way through Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora.  After about 80% of the book, I am just stalled out.  The reasons for my lack of interest aren't obvious, as the prose is competent, and the plot seems to be a nice, lightweight sort of caper novel that I should enjoy.

Side note: I am doing Lies on audiobook, and the reader, Michael Page, is terrific - and in this work, he is at the top of his game, really top rate, almost like Christopher Lee in his range and expression.  And I love audiobooks, so this should help me along.

For some reason, though, the story isn't grabbing me, and the characters are difficult to really like or identify with or invest in.  Several people have recommended this to me over the past few years, and I feel sort of deficient because I am not really enjoying it much, nor am I seeing it as a critical success.  Am I missing something?

As a comparison, I am reading Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment along with my daughter for her summer reading assignments, and given a choice, I would pick it up and make progress in that one over Lies.  This is not a flattering comparo for Locke Lamora.

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On 7/13/2020 at 12:55 PM, ljkeane said:

I read Tade Thompson's Rosewater. It's a bit of a strange book. There's a lot of stuff going on in the worldbuilding, a lot of stuff, but not a huge amount actually happens with the plot itself. I think I liked it overall. I'll probably read the sequel anyway to see where it's all going.

This is how I felt about it too. The book also didn't benefit, imo, from its only real POV being very unlikable and sexist; I wish that we'd gotten to explore this world from someone else's eyes (or at least, multiple perspectives). 

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5 minutes ago, Caligula_K3 said:

This is how I felt about it too. The book also didn't benefit, imo, from its only real POV being very unlikable and sexist; I wish that we'd gotten to explore this world from someone else's eyes (or at least, multiple perspectives). 

It didn't particularly bother me that Kaaro's a bit of dick. That can still make for interesting books. It's more that he's just generally apathetic so he comes across various things that seem like a really big deal and he's just not particularly interested beyond how it immediately affects him. Which is how quite a lot of people are I suppose so it's not unrealistic but it doesn't really advance the plot of the book much.

As I said I'll probably read the next book at some point though to see were it all goes because there are quite a lot of interesting ideas there.

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 Since my last post I read As You Like It, one of Shakespeare's that I've really had very little awareness of - even the ones I haven't read I tend to have skimmed or seen, or something. I mostly enjoyed this one, but I wouldn't say I loved it particularly. The central story of the play is excellent, but I just didn't get that much out of secondary characters like Touchstone and Jacques. 

I've also finished The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. It took me a while to get into this, but after a few months of ignoring it I pushed myself to get a few hundred pages in and it really took off, I've read 200 pages just today to finish it off. Overall I thought it was excellent. Some slight criticisms in spoilers:

Spoiler

Although from a plot perspective I think the ending was quite good, there were two dialogues that just didn't feel great to me - they fell into this pattern of people talking over each other and ranting in a way that reminds me of the worst TV soaps. Additionally, the way the book sort of spirals out into the musings of the author (as Theo Decker) felt a bit odd, although perhaps that was more because it was the dying pages of a nearly 900 page book. I think it would have been better left a bit more subtly, however, than the rather on the nose final few paragraphs. 

Also, why does everyone smoke so much and have iPhones? 

 

Anyway, after finishing As You Like It I picked up The Taming of the Shrew. Pretty sure I wrote an essay on this in Uni, but given my sketchy memory of the play I don't think I'll have done particularly well on it.

I also need to pick up a real book to go alongside, so I'm choosing Mister Roberts by Alexei Sayle. Judging by the blurb this will be a fairly short, easy read, which I'm grateful for after The Goldfinch

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Just re-reading Ian M Banks' The Algebraist at the moment, and very much enjoying it. It's a fun ride that does a good job of balancing galactic-scale world-building with the close-in details (something I sometimes feel Banks doesn't quite get right in some of his other stuff).

ST

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6 hours ago, ljkeane said:

It didn't particularly bother me that Kaaro's a bit of dick. That can still make for interesting books. It's more that he's just generally apathetic so he comes across various things that seem like a really big deal and he's just not particularly interested beyond how it immediately affects him. Which is how quite a lot of people are I suppose so it's not unrealistic but it doesn't really advance the plot of the book much.

As I said I'll probably read the next book at some point though to see were it all goes because there are quite a lot of interesting ideas there.

Yeah, I think it's the combo of the two traits (dick and apathetic) that doesn't work so well in a single POV story like this. Like you, though, I'll be happy to read book 2 at some point.

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8 hours ago, Sir Thursday said:

Just re-reading Ian M Banks' The Algebraist at the moment, and very much enjoying it. It's a fun ride that does a good job of balancing galactic-scale world-building with the close-in details (something I sometimes feel Banks doesn't quite get right in some of his other stuff).

ST

Good call. Algebraist is my go-to for Most Underrated Banks.

 

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9 minutes ago, Infidel said:

Good call. Algebraist is my go-to for Most Underrated Banks.

 

Isn’t it the only one of his books to get a Hugo nom? Also now mad about the Hugos again 

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