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First Quarter 2022 Reading


Fragile Bird
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Finished The Monster Baru Cormorant yesterday and I liked it a lot; I'll be reading the next book in the series soon.  It does feel very obviously the middle book of a sequence though and it didn't have quite the same emotional impact as the first book did.  (I think I've read somewhere -- possibly on this board?  -- that this book is based on only the first half of the original draft for the second book, which seems plausible although I don't know whether it's true.)

I thought that the annotated map at the start of the book was really well-done as well.  It's been several years since I read The Traitor Baru Cormorant, but reading Baru's scribbled notes really helped remind me of what happened in that book.

This week I also read Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows and its sequel Crooked Kingdom; these are both very solid YA fantasy heist novels, though I slightly preferred the former, I think.

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44 minutes ago, mix_masta_micah said:

Currently reading Moon Witch, Spider King by Marlon James. It's incredible. I feel like this trilogy of books is going he talked about for years down the road. Surprised it's not read more on this sub. 

It crosses over well with Wolfe, Bakker, Peake, and Jemisin imo. 

I just bought Black Leopard, Red Wolf because the bookstore had Moon Witch in the window. I meant to just get it from the library but I had liked the reviews so much I decided to buy it. As I said in an earlier post, I try not to buy books anymore but since I was at the store to buy House of Sky and Breath I decided to live dangerously.

And speaking of Maas, I just finished From Blood and Ash, by Jennifer L. Armentrout, which I quite enjoyed. In a postscript she thanks Sarah Maas for encouraging her to write the book. I looked at her books and she’s written a lot of YA books, about teens in high school meeting that mysterious/cool/brooding guy who ends up needing to protect her or vice versa. And another fast writer, From Blood and Ash came out in 2020 and she’s finished a trilogy already. And there are other books in the same world. The main character is ‘the Maiden’, a girl taken by the ruling class and sheltered from the world, dressed in a white robe with her face hidden behind a veil, only her mouth and chin showing. She’s forbidden to talk to others or interact with them, living in a palace with the Duke and Duchess and the 2nd children of the citizens of the town, who have been ‘offered’ to the ruling class to be gifts to the gods when they go through a ceremony at 18 where they ‘ascend’. The world is occupied by two nations that are, of. course, bitter enemies. Lots of fun, and as seems to be the theme these days, lots of sex scenes filled with wanting and hunger. Good fun! I look forward to the 2nd book, which the library allowed me to read the first 6 chapters.

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13 minutes ago, Fragile Bird said:

I just bought Black Leopard, Red Wolf because the bookstore had Moon Witch in the window. I meant to just get it from the library but I had liked the reviews so much I decided to buy it. As I said in an earlier post, I try not to buy books anymore but since I was at the store to buy House of Sky and Breath I decided to live dangerously.

Boo! Give the author their book sales, and then gift it to a friend afterwards if you don't want it to sit on a shelf (I happen to like my ever growing library).

Finished Station Eleven and The Promises of Giants in the last week. I can't recommend them enough. I'm sure many have heard of the former. The show is great, but the book is even better. It's sucks you in right away and you never want to put it down. The latter is an organizational psychology book about leadership while also being a love letter to the author's mother. 

I'm also about 75% through From Russia with Love. This has easily been the best of the five Bond books I've read so far.

And yes Bird, I just bought the 30th anniversary deluxe edition of V for Vendetta:P

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18 minutes ago, Tywin et al. said:

Boo! Give the author their book sales, and then gift it to a friend afterwards if you don't want it to sit on a shelf (I happen to like my ever growing library).

Finished Station Eleven and The Promises of Giants in the last week. I can't recommend them enough. I'm sure many have heard of the former. The show is great, but the book is even better. It's sucks you in right away and you never want to put it down. The latter is an organizational psychology book about leadership while also being a love letter to the author's mother. 

I'm also about 75% through From Russia with Love. This has easily been the best of the five Bond books I've read so far.

And yes Bird, I just bought the 30th anniversary deluxe edition of V for Vendetta:P

Bah! I have so many books, so many unread books! I think I’ve said before that I picked up my copy of Jonathon Strange and saw I had put it down at Chapter 6, page 80, and never picked it up again. I enjoyed Piranesi so much, though, I’ll try again. And the opening chapters of John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things still make me weep.

The best thing about Station Eleven? It starts in Toronto and I imagine going through all that shit myself! I was so pissed off when I saw they changed that to Chicago because, ya know, Americans wouldn’t get past the first episode if it was Toronto. At first I gave them excuses and said it must have been because of Covid, but no, the rest of it was filmed in Toronto and southern Ontario. It was safer here anyway!

I think I read all the James Bond books starting when I was 9 or 10, because my brother bought them. He’s 4 years older.

And sweetie, you have a lot more time to enjoy special editions than I will, so I don’t bother anymore. :ph34r:

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On 2/20/2022 at 4:03 PM, mix_masta_micah said:

Currently reading Moon Witch, Spider King by Marlon James. It's incredible. I feel like this trilogy of books is going he talked about for years down the road. Surprised it's not read more on this sub. 

It crosses over well with Wolfe, Bakker, Peake, and Jemisin imo. 

Didn't realise this had come out yet. I enjoyed Black Leopard, Red Wolf. Currently reading The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Edited by cowolter
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5 hours ago, cowolter said:

Didn't realise this had come out yet. I enjoyed Black Leopard, Red Wolf. Currently reading The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

 

The New York Times has this book featured in some way in every section of itself, and has for the last 10 days.  Even in a little story about how books are manufactured, and brief video of books being bound with their covers -- it's Marlon's new one that's the book we see in multitudes being run through the machinery.

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On 2/20/2022 at 8:03 AM, mix_masta_micah said:

Currently reading Moon Witch, Spider King by Marlon James. It's incredible. I feel like this trilogy of books is going he talked about for years down the road. Surprised it's not read more on this sub. 

It crosses over well with Wolfe, Bakker, Peake, and Jemisin imo. 

Black Leopard, Red Wolf as a DNF for me. Not sure if it's just not well-suited to the audiobook format (I was so confused all the time) or just not to my taste or most likely some combination of both. Alas.

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I liked Black Leopard, Red Wolf, enough to buy the sequel, but it was a very... difficult read. I had to read sections sometimes multiple times to figure out just wtf was going on. But I did, ultimately, enjoy the story, the setting, and the writing, once I got used to it. It more than any other book I've read would benefit greatly from a reread. I'm not sure if I ever will, too many other books to read, but it's definitely something that I should seriously consider. 

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Right now I’m listening to John le Carre‘s second-last book, Agent Running in the Field. He’s writing about things going on right now, the shit show that’s Brexit, the fact that the Tories are useless, the insidious power of the Russians. Very prescient.

But remember when I was talking about werewolf fiction, and the fact I keep getting ads for a free site that lets you read chapters of books? I broke down and downloaded one of the sites, Galatea, and I’m reading all this werewolf fiction, chapter by chapter. Why? I can’t even begin to understand. Boredom? Amusement? Bad writing is so enjoyable, right? The titles of the books: Kidnapped by My Mate, The Millennium Wolves, The Lycan’s Queen, The Alpha King’s Claim, Stolen by the Alpha, The Lost Princess, Hated by my Mate, and a few others.

It’s just a phase, don’t worry, it’s just a phase. (Looks out at the moon, but it’s overcast).

:laugh:

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1 minute ago, Fragile Bird said:

The titles of the books: Kidnapped by My Mate, The Millennium Wolves, The Lycan’s Queen, The Alpha King’s Claim, Stolen by the Alpha, The Lost Princess, Hated by my Mate, and a few others.

Just reading those titles makes me wanna howl!    :dunce:  :lmao:

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The discussion of Marlon James above has reminded me that I only made it about halfway through A Brief History Of Seven Killings last year before giving up on it. To be fair though, that was at least partly for reasons wholly unrelated to the book itself.  Might try to go back to that later this year.

Meanwhile I've just finished She Who Became The Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan:

Zhu Chongba is born into an impoverished peasant family during the final decades of the Yuan Dynasty.  Despite his background, and the famine and bandit raids plauging his village, a local fortune teller confidently predicts that he is destined for greatness.  Then Chongba suddenly dies, and his younger sister decides that in order to survive she has no option but to adopt both her brother's name and his destiny.  

This is a retelling of a period of conflict and civil war set in a fantasy analogue of China, in which the role of one of the leading historical figures is taken up by a woman.   And it's a book in which the hard-working orphan protagonist is initially presented very sympathetically but takes increasingly hard-to-justify actions in pursuit of what they see as their destiny.  

As such, it's perhaps not surprising that it's been compared to R. F. Kuang's Poppy War series.  Honestly though, I think I preferred this.  Zhu is rather more sympathetic than The Poppy War's Rin, and also a little less central to the narrative; as well as Zhu, the book focuses quite a lot on the secondary protagonist, the eunuch General Ouyang, and other characters also get multiple POV chapters.  And overall the story is rather less bleak in general, at least so far.

(For reference, my take on The Poppy War is that I liked it quite a bit but have absolutely no plans to read the sequels.)

This is the first of a planned duology; I'm not sure when the second book is out.

Next: on to Seth Dickinson's The Tyrant Baru Cormorant.

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With all of the discussion on Black Leopard, Red Wolf, I have to say that Moon Witch, Spider King is an easier although still rewarding read.  James has mentioned that he feels this trilogy can be read in any order and is interested in seeing those who read book 2 prior to book 1.  So far (about 30% completed) this story is much more linear and is set years before any of the events in BL, RW.  I'd suggest that those that found book 1 to be challenging to read book 2 as it give much greater context to the story.  I like Sogolon, the main character in this one, but also miss how feral Tracker was in book 1....that dude is wild!

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19 hours ago, Fragile Bird said:

Right now I’m listening to John le Carre‘s second-last book, Agent Running in the Field. He’s writing about things going on right now, the shit show that’s Brexit, the fact that the Tories are useless, the insidious power of the Russians. Very prescient.

I felt the same way.  With Russians showing up as threats again over a half decade ago, allied with you know who, le Carré leaped right back into form.  He knows his Russians, he really doe.

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Just realized Daniel Abraham's new book (Age of Ashes) is out! I love love The Long Price quarter and liked Dagger and the Coin a lot, so I am excited. It's pretty good so far, though I haven't really been liking the (so far) main character. I know the lovable rogue is a standard fantasy trope, but sometimes I get so sick of being trapped in the POV of people who constantly justify crime, greed, etc.

I've been listening to City of Mirrors, the third book in Justin Cronin's apocalyptic vampire trilogy. I found the second book a bit tough going at times, so I waited a while to pick this one up. It's also been a bit tough going. We spent about a quarter of the first half of the book plunged into a random literary novel about a sack of shit dude and his obsession with a (smaller) sack of shit woman that was not particularly enjoyable or interesting. Like backstory for the villain is all well and good but it was a little much! Anyway now that we're back in the story's present day, it's gotten better and we're moving things forward again, so that's good.

12 hours ago, mix_masta_micah said:

With all of the discussion on Black Leopard, Red Wolf, I have to say that Moon Witch, Spider King is an easier although still rewarding read.  James has mentioned that he feels this trilogy can be read in any order and is interested in seeing those who read book 2 prior to book 1.  So far (about 30% completed) this story is much more linear and is set years before any of the events in BL, RW.  I'd suggest that those that found book 1 to be challenging to read book 2 as it give much greater context to the story.  I like Sogolon, the main character in this one, but also miss how feral Tracker was in book 1....that dude is wild!

Interesting, I'll check it out then!

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9 hours ago, Starkess said:

Just realized Daniel Abraham's new book (Age of Ashes) is out! I love love The Long Price quarter and liked Dagger and the Coin a lot, so I am excited. It's pretty good so far, though I haven't really been liking the (so far) main character. I know the lovable rogue is a standard fantasy trope, but sometimes I get so sick of being trapped in the POV of people who constantly justify crime, greed, etc.

I'm about 50 pages in,

Spoiler

and if you're talking about Alys, I'm not sure she'd meant to be very likeable? Certainly once you get Sammish's perspective, Alys' gives off much more self centered vibes and I think it's intentional on Abraham's part. Thinking also about how she likes to watch people's reactions when she steals from them... something's not quite right. 

Let's see where things go though! 

 

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I finished up James D. Hornfischer's The Fleet at Flood Tide yesterday.  While it doesn't quite reach the epic heights and personal harrowing of Neptune's Inferno, it is well-written and comprehensive, showing the turn that the US, and specifically the USN and Marine Corps needed to make, in order to take the Marianas and Carolinas, to Total War.

Hornfischer's research into Japanese perspectives, and his use of personal diaries and interviews from the Japanese military and civilian population, show just why the war in the Pacific had to end in the way that it did.  I was also impressed with his conclusion that the use of the atomic bomb was intended to change the mind of one person - the Emperor of Japan.

Finally, he concludes the history with one of the best wrap-up reviews of who did what and when once the war ended and the occupation began.  I find that I am often dissatisfied with the ends of history books, but this was just right in scope and conclusion.

PS. Captain Ramius would approve of Hornfischer's ideas about Halsey:  

 

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On 2/23/2022 at 8:11 AM, Underfoot said:

I'm about 50 pages in,

  Hide contents

and if you're talking about Alys, I'm not sure she'd meant to be very likeable? Certainly once you get Sammish's perspective, Alys' gives off much more self centered vibes and I think it's intentional on Abraham's part. Thinking also about how she likes to watch people's reactions when she steals from them... something's not quite right. 

Let's see where things go though! 

 

Oh yes that's the vibe I'm getting too! It's just a bit tiring for me after a while.

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On 2/21/2022 at 10:29 PM, Fragile Bird said:

the insidious power of the Russians. Very prescient.

"Bird -- I just read this, re Putin, on effective Western Russian Intelligence, on Bret Devereaux's site,

https://acoup.blog/2022/02/25/miscellanea-understanding-the-war-in-ukraine/

which gets mentioned here quite a bit in the History In Books thread, which recalled your post here on le Carré and the Russians.

Quote

 

. . . . Why Didn’t We See This Coming?

Actually, we did. NATO – and especially US intelligence – was remarkably effective at predicting what Putin had planned before he did it, down to predicting the day the assault would begin. NATO intelligence agencies also warned in advance that Russian forces would stage false-flag attacks and shell Ukrainian positions trying to provoke Ukrainians into shooting back and the Russians did exactly that. Frankly, especially after the intelligence failures of the Global War on Terror, I was shocked by the degree to which US intelligence mostly nailed this; it goes to show that while organizations created to spy on the Soviet Union struggle to spy on terrorists and the Taliban, they are very good at spying on the Russian Federation. Frankly the entire thing has been a fairly stunning US intelligence coup and there are a whole lot of analysts and more than a few world leaders who woke up on the 24th owing US intelligence an apology. . . . .

 

 

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