What have you been reading? - Book Discussion Thread

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#151 Edited by Sinusoidal (3608 posts) -

Finished up Russo's Ship ofFools. It's a great book. There were some genuinely moving passages on the nature of faith and religion - of all topics to be covered in science fiction - that I thought were incredibly well done. Including the single most profound observation on the nature of faith I think I've ever read. (You'll have to read it to find out.) Unfortunately, the ending is a stinker. The mystery is "solved" in the most banal of manners and the book just kind of ends. Blech. Worth it for the journey.

Then, I blasted through Clarke's *Childhood's End* in a couple of days. It holds up quite well. It's a classic for a reason.

Now, I'm a quarter of the way through the second book of Liu Cixin's Three Body Problem trilogy and I have to say it's not particularly grabbing me. The first book was slow and had its moments, but only really got consistently good in the last hundred pages. The second book is shaping up to be the same with less likable characters. Everything is translated from Chinese, so a lot of it is stilted. I could get past that in the first book because everyone was Chinese, but there are a lot of English speakers in the second book and their dialog is not natural.

I complain, but there are still a lot of brilliant sci-fi concepts and some great moments in both books that keep me reading. Just not as quickly as I would like. I'll definitely finish up the whole trilogy. My to-read list has grown massive since my baby was born and reading is just about the only recreational activity I can find time for any more.

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#152 Edited by MonkeyKing1969 (7649 posts) -

@slaps2 said:

I'm reading Lone Survivor. I can't stand the guy's politics, but reading about what he went through is incredibly compelling. It's a real page turner, even when he is just talking about his initial SEAL training.

I have to agree, the guys politics are....well, whatever....but the bits of HIS story are good enough.

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#153 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1405 posts) -

Finally finished listening to The Name of the Wind. Having finished The Way of Kings before that, it was SUPER refreshing to have a fantasy novel that wasn't so far up its own ass with self-serious drudgery. I got to record a podcast episode about it, and that was fun. I can't wait to get to the next book.

Continuing my trend of "fiction - nonfiction - fiction," I started listening to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It's sad and hopeful all at once, and it's frankly terrible that it took so long for a book about her to come out. The book is about her life as much, if not more than, the science behind her cells.

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#154 Posted by FrostyRyan (2924 posts) -

Got the Thrawn trilogy and the new Thrawn book.

halfway through Heir to the Empire and thoroughly impressed by how well paced it is. Thrawn is a great character so far.

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#155 Posted by thomasnash (1106 posts) -

On the subject of abhorrent politics, I've been listening to the first Jack Reacher book. After going through Neuromancer, the City and the City and the Quest for Karla trilogy, I wanted to keep the hardboiled/mystery thing going and thought I'd try it out. I quite like the Tom Cruise flick, in a weird way.

It's got some stuff I like - I like that the main character isn't always right, but you usually understand why he thinks the things he thinks. A lot of the twists in the story are handled elegantly.

But it's got a lot of stuff I don't like. It has a love of really quite gruesome violence that is very offputting. It has a focus on the sexuality of the protagonist that is deeply tedious. The supporting characters are thinner than Filo pastry. For every bit of information that is revealed in a surprising and interesting way, there are two more that are signposted an absolute mile away, so that when the characters realise it makes them seem incredibly stupid. This isn't helped by the author's tendency to repeat every revelation for pages, just to make sure you don't miss it. The protagonist, especially in his inner monologue, comes across as just an absolutely gigantic asshole.

So, a bit of a disappointment, I guess? Doesn't really have a lot of the stuff that draws me to the movie, which surprises me because I assumed the ways in which the movie was slightly off-kilter were down to emulating the books. I doubt I'll be continuing with the series.

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#156 Posted by Humanity (18948 posts) -

Finished: A Little Life which was thoroughly a bummer

Started Cats Cradle as a good palette cleanser

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#157 Posted by SethMode (2057 posts) -

Finally finished listening to The Name of the Wind. Having finished The Way of Kings before that, it was SUPER refreshing to have a fantasy novel that wasn't so far up its own ass with self-serious drudgery. I got to record a podcast episode about it, and that was fun. I can't wait to get to the next book.

Continuing my trend of "fiction - nonfiction - fiction," I started listening to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It's sad and hopeful all at once, and it's frankly terrible that it took so long for a book about her to come out. The book is about her life as much, if not more than, the science behind her cells.

I loved The Name of the Wind. Wise Man's Fear is about half to two thirds of a good book, and then it starts to get up its own ass in its own way. Enough so that I'm kind of legit worried for the series. We'll always have the first one though!

As for me, I just finished Battle Royale. I liked it way more than the movie, just because it had the room to breathe that being a book gets over a movie. I'm kind of not sure what to go for next. I've been looking at The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Any thoughts on that?

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#158 Posted by MaKiNbAcoN (171 posts) -

Just finished American Gods. It was good, but I don't get the fanfare behind it. Some of the characters just irked me in regards to their emotions.

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#159 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1405 posts) -

@sethmode said:
@bladeofcreation said:

Finally finished listening to The Name of the Wind. Having finished The Way of Kings before that, it was SUPER refreshing to have a fantasy novel that wasn't so far up its own ass with self-serious drudgery. I got to record a podcast episode about it, and that was fun. I can't wait to get to the next book.

Continuing my trend of "fiction - nonfiction - fiction," I started listening to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It's sad and hopeful all at once, and it's frankly terrible that it took so long for a book about her to come out. The book is about her life as much, if not more than, the science behind her cells.

I loved The Name of the Wind. Wise Man's Fear is about half to two thirds of a good book, and then it starts to get up its own ass in its own way. Enough so that I'm kind of legit worried for the series. We'll always have the first one though!

As for me, I just finished Battle Royale. I liked it way more than the movie, just because it had the room to breathe that being a book gets over a movie. I'm kind of not sure what to go for next. I've been looking at The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Any thoughts on that?

The first indication I had that Wise Man's Fear might be going in a direction I won't like is looking at it on Audible. The Way of Kings was something like 48 hours long. Name of the Wind is less than 30 hours...and Wise Man's Fear is 46 hours or something like that. I'm just looking at it thinking, "Noooo...you don't have to do that. I don't need every book in series to be as long as the Bible..."

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#160 Edited by SethMode (2057 posts) -

@bladeofcreation: Yeah man, it's unfortunate. Like I said, there are really great parts in it (I recently listened to it for the second time and at one point was thinking "What was wrong with me before, this book is great!"), but it just goes off the rails, then off a cliff. And this is coming from someone who doesn't really mind the wish fulfillment aspect of it so much. If that kind of stuff bothers you, it's going to be a real slog.

And to top it all off, in true fantasy epic series fashion, it opens up more questions than it answers, to the point that I don't see how book three could possibly be the end of the story unless it is 15,000 pages long.

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#161 Edited by Heralos (2 posts) -

I just started reading The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914. The title pretty much sums up what the book is about. Has some very interesting details in it and also looks at some countries that I didn't know much about.

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#162 Posted by sammo21 (5975 posts) -

I am finishing up an Aliens anthology book that just came out. Then I'm on to book 4 of the Expanse series (that I've pushed off for like a year and a half) followed by the Wheel of Time stuff.

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#164 Posted by PeteyCoco (282 posts) -

The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham. It's a fun read and a lot of what he says holds true nearly 50 years after the last edition was published. As someone who knew very little about markets it certainly has opened my eyes to how the world works.

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#165 Posted by nuttyjawa (41 posts) -

Team Yankee by Harold Coyle, holy crap I loved it, not sure where to go next

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#166 Edited by Sinusoidal (3608 posts) -

@frostyryan said:

Got the Thrawn trilogy and the new Thrawn book.

halfway through Heir to the Empire and thoroughly impressed by how well paced it is. Thrawn is a great character so far.

The Thrawn books are better than anything set in the extended Star Wars universe has the right to be. Better and more compelling than what Disney is having Abrams do with it. They can de-canonize them all they want, they'll always be what actually happened to the characters I loved from the original trilogy to me.

At least that first trilogy. I haven't read the new Thrawn book.

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#167 Posted by Xaviar (20 posts) -

Oh my god you guys. I just finished the last book in Anne Bishop's "The Others" series. It starts with Written In Red.

It isn't like a super serious time, or amazingly written, or anything else. It's basically about a girl who works at a post office for some werewolves and vampires. No joke, there are chapters about sorting mail, and chapters about getting ready to leave the apartment in the morning. But they aren't like WoT where it is just dull description.

Sure, not a lot happens, but it is so weirdly compelling that you just don't even know. It has a few darker themes, and occasionally there is some action. But mostly, it is just pleasant lightweight reading that you just keep reading and reading. It's amazing. You should read it. Do it. The audiobooks are also pretty well done if that's your thing.

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#168 Posted by Colonel_Pockets (1315 posts) -

I'm currently reading Watchmen right now. It's damn good.

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#169 Posted by Greys0nG (5 posts) -

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

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#170 Posted by pyromagnestir (4505 posts) -

I finished Hero of the Empire. It was good.

Now I'm gonna start Blind Man's Bluff because Internet Meme Celebrity Drew Scanlon recommended it on a bombcast or something at some point.

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#171 Posted by theuprightman (232 posts) -

I'm currently reading 'It', it's my first Stephen King book and my first horror too, liking it so far, I am taking my time with it, just getting back into reading again after a two year break.

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#172 Edited by jkz (4286 posts) -

Been working through my favorites of Calvino's writing again, just finished Invisible Cities, Cosmicomics, and If on a Winter's Night a Traveler. Calvino's still one of my favorite writers and I still highly suggest him to anyone willing to deal with his occasional finickiness. A lot of his (especially later) work's super dense, but rewarding as hell as a result.

Midway through Baron in the Trees as well, but I also just picked up Kaputt by Curzio Malaparte and jesus if that isn't a bracing read. Some really tough stuff to get through, but it's a perspective on the Axis (during WW2) you get pretty rarely, and Malaparte's an incredible writer; captures the constant tension, paranoia, and backstabbing that must have existed behind axis lines , especially as their plans started to crumble. Just expect to feel gross.

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#173 Posted by BaneFireLord (3570 posts) -

I just charged through Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs. I'd seen Silence several times (and loved it) but had never read the book. When Jonathan Demme died I figured I'd give it a read before a commemorative rewatch and boy am I ever glad I did. RD and Silence are some of the most gripping books I've ever read. Even knowing everything that happened in Silence already didn't diminish it...I plowed through it in a single 10 hour sitting, which I rarely do with books. Just excellent all around.

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#174 Edited by Whitestripes09 (918 posts) -

Just got done with the semester, so now I can read leisurely. I picked up Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five and currently I'm about a little more than half way done. So far I really enjoy his chaotic writing style and seeing his experiences from World War II being portrayed in this book is pretty interesting. Those familiar with him, could you recommend any other books by him?

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#175 Posted by Mikemcn (8599 posts) -

@whitestripes09: Cat's Cradle is great but less grounded in reality that Slaughterhouse 5 is even. Breakfast of Champions is also cool, but is completely off the rails odd. Both are fairly short and worth trying!

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#176 Posted by SloppyDetective (1618 posts) -

@whitestripes09: I read a ton of Vonnegut in high school. My top three are: Slaughter House 5, Cat's Cradle, and Blue Beard. He has some good short story collections as well, Welcome to the Monkey House is my preferred collection.

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#177 Posted by PalmettoBling (35 posts) -

Lexicon by Max Barry. Great story. Also would recommend Company by him if you've ever worked in a boring corporate job. Jennifer Government is also pretty good.

I also re-read Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk which is possibly one of my favorite books.

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#178 Posted by SloppyDetective (1618 posts) -

@banefirelord: I was thinking of reading this series after finally watching Manhunter, which is a film based off of Red Dragon. I highly recommend Manhunter it holds up great.

Do you know how popular those books were in their time? It's kind of weird that they have been adapted so much and have been so significant in pop culture. I'm guessing the Silence movie is what really made the character Hannibal stick in the zeitgeist.

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#179 Posted by sparky_buzzsaw (8931 posts) -

@theuprightman: Consider me jealous. I'd love to be reading It for the first time again.

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#180 Posted by Ravelle (3319 posts) -

I am currently reading The Mistborn series halfway the first book and really enjoying it so far, the beginning was a bit rough but once it gets going it's pretty great.

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#181 Posted by BaneFireLord (3570 posts) -

@sloppydetective: You should absolutely read the series! Like I said, even seeing the film diminished almost nothing about the book.

I know the books were popular (NYTimes bestsellers and all that) but I don't think anyone could have foreseen how popular Hannibal got in other media. I found Hannibal as a character is surprisingly noncentral in Red Dragon (though definitely moreso in Silence)...I haven't seen any of the Red Dragon adaptations so I don't know if this is true of those or not, but he's in the book for all of maybe three chapters and is a pretty flat character. I think Lecter's a character who's much more commanding on screen than on the page.

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#182 Posted by BeachThunder (15167 posts) -

Just finished listening to an audiobook of Catcher in the Rye. This made me goddamn depressed as hell. It really did.

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#183 Edited by TheManWithNoPlan (7838 posts) -

I finished The Drawing of Three a few days ago and immediately started on The waste lands after I finished it. I found drawing to be a lot more engaging than the gunslinger. I got through in in days instead of weeks like I did with the first book. The pacing was great and the writing was on point for King. While the first book made me interested in the series, the second has me hooked. I've never actually read through a multi part book series before. It's always been solo entries for me. Didn't avoid them or anything (Heir to the Empire is one of the first books I read when I got back into the hobby like 4 years back. Still haven't read Dark Force rising yet though. It's sitting on my bookshelf as I type), but I just gravitated to one and done type stuff. I guess it was a little daunting. The story with dark tower for me was a two part incentive. 1 The series is coming out as a movie and I tend to read stuff before I see them theatrically. 2 "It" is one of my favorite books ever and it's also being adapted to a film, so I figured I should get in on King's other big book to movie adaption. Very happy so far.

@beachthunder said:

Just finished listening to an audiobook of Catcher in the Rye. This made me goddamn depressed as hell. It really did.

I remember a similar feeling of melancholy when I read through it last year. It's a downer of a book, but very interesting all the same.

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#184 Posted by sparky_buzzsaw (8931 posts) -

Listening to Will Patton's reading of Stephen King's Bill Hodges novels. He does a pretty fantastic job of it, and these are terrific thrillers. Less horror, more PI suspense/investigation stuff.

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#185 Edited by chango (1094 posts) -

Just finished Sidney Lumet's book on filmmaking, and I just started Murakami's new short story collection.

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#186 Posted by Miyavi (5 posts) -

I'm reading the whole Witcher saga.

Currently on the 5th book, loving it so far!

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#188 Posted by sagesebas (2465 posts) -

Just finished hardboiled wonderland and am a hundred pages into infinite jest

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#189 Posted by MerxWorx01 (883 posts) -

Alastair Reynolds' Revenger. I really hope it's good. His last few Novels have been hit and miss.

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#190 Posted by DeepSpace9MM (213 posts) -

I actually just started reading again about a month and a half ago and it's about all I've done with my free time. I finished The Death of WCW about 3 weeks ago, and I'm working on a few others. I'm about half way through Leviathan Wakes (the first Expanse book), a few stories into the first Witcher book, and I started reading "It" a few days ago. On top of that, there are at least 3 or 4 other books I have that I want to get to after those. It's probably been about 10-ish years since I'd actually finished a book so I'm just having fun getting back into reading. I'm also not the world's fastest reader, but what are you gonna do.

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#191 Posted by extintor (1104 posts) -

Landfall: The Ship

Amazon auto-recommended this book after I had bought book six of the excellent Expanse series.

I got 50 pages in and abandoned ship. It is a stinker. Interesting premise. Bad characterization and poor writing sink it almost immediatly.

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#192 Posted by Sinusoidal (3608 posts) -

Since the last time I posted.

Finished up Liu Cixin's Three Body Problem trilogy and loved it. The first half of the first two books is slow and outright bad in places, (Really, skip part 1 of book 2 and read a synopsis. It's garbage.) but the rest of it is some extraordinarily compelling sci-fi that hearkens back to the golden era of the genre. It goes places. Very recommended. Just be prepared for some stilted prose. I hear it loses quite a bit in the translation, so if you read Mandarin, go for broke.

Then, I read Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination in a couple of days. Also a classic written right around the same time as Childhood's End, but this one feels a little more dated than that one. It's still some ridiculously fun story telling once you get past the dated language, treatment of women (poor) and ridiculous technology (people are still using phones in the 26th century.) I really can't emphasize how much fun it is enough though. At its heart, it's a re-telling of The Count of Monte Cristo, but in the 26th century. Gully Foyle is a spectacular anti-hero, not afraid to do things that simultaneously make us love and hate him before saving humanity spectacularly and accidentally.

Now, I've started Linda Nagata's The Bohr Maker. Immediately engrossing is about the only thing I can say about it so far. I've ploughed through the first hundred pages in a couple of days. After the last two, it's nice to be reading something that doesn't treat women so poorly. It deserves its Locus.

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#193 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1405 posts) -

I finished The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It was fascinating and serves as a reminder that science needs ethics. It's also a story about a family coming to terms with loss. I highly recommend it.

To celebrate The Witcher Netflix series being announced, I've decided that it's high time to get through those books. I'm four hours into the audiobook. Because the narrator is British, I'm playing it at a 95% speed so I can catch everything he says. He also does the same thing that every audiobook narrator does that I find SUPER frustrating: when a character whispers, the narrator whispers, too. I get that they're performing, but it's extremely annoying when I have to rewind to catch something that was said.

I'm enjoying it so far. Having played the games (except for finishing the third one, which I'm getting back into this week), I've been kind of surprised at the book's treatment of its female characters so far. It's not nearly as bad as I expected.

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#194 Posted by Humanity (18948 posts) -

I've recently finished Lem's Solaris, which coincided really well with my playthrough of Prey and the themes explored in that game. Now I'm working through Ubik which is turning out to be quite a fever dream of a book.

Strangely I keep getting the urge to re-read The Peripheral for the third time. I seriously hope Gibson builds out a whole new trilogy from that book because the man has a real gift for speculative future. All the talk of future print houses and nano technology felt eerily too close for comfort.

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#195 Edited by SloppyDetective (1618 posts) -

Just finished The Witcher book Sword of Destiny. I didn't realize this was the second book written in the series (I guess it got a late translation in English) so I've already read up to The Time of Contempt (2nd book in the main story line) before diving into this collection of short stories.

My favorite parts of Witcher books are when it's focused on the personal interactions of a few characters, instead of the typical politics of war in fantasy stories. So this collection was a joy to read.

We get some Yen stuff, some Dandelion stuff, and the Witchers first encounter with Ciri. The final story leads up to the beginning of the main story in such a satisfying way I found myself re-reading the opening to Tower of Swallows after finishing Sword of Destiny.

4/5

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#196 Posted by Naoiko (1677 posts) -

Just finished Charmed life by Diana Wynne Jones and Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. Currently reading Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman, which is the 2nd and most current Seraphina book.

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#197 Edited by Humanity (18948 posts) -

Continuing the sci-fi vibe I jumped into Harrisons Nova Swing. I was somewhat disappointed by Light in that it had great potential and eventually kind of went nowhere with it, ending with a great big deus ex machina of a conclusion that didn't seem very pertinent to the 200 pages preceding it. I used to read reviews for my very own favorite cyberpunk author William Gibson that criticized his writing for having too much made up terminology that ended up being confusing for some. This was something I thought was always part of the charm as it presented a satisfying sense of growing with the book wherein by the end you were a seasoned veteran of his cyber lingo. With Harrison though, I think I reached some sort of threshold as well. Not only is his writing style very convoluted at times, dense with flowery metaphors and confusing structure, but he saddles all passages so heavy with his own proprietary "Light speak" that sometimes getting off a single page takes considerable effort. Whereas Gibson drops hints about the one thing he made up on the page to let the reader get at least some grip on the situation, Harrison rattles off sentence after sentence of "He had stayed ahead by moving only the lightest stuff—exotic isotopes, cultivars of embargoed local species, tailor packages for the kiddy trade—in a hullshot Dynaflow HS-SE or -SE2, its cheap navigation tools leaking the illegal daughter-code used to negotiatate the complex gravitational attractors and junk-matter flows of the Bay" and expects you to move right along as if you didn't just fall face first into a pit of indecipherable techno-babble. Worse yet a lot of these things aren't alluded to later in the book to give you some basic understanding of what it is that you're reading.

All that said while the writing is still rough in the way I describe above, Nova Swing at least has a more concentrated plot that I'm finding pretty interesting. I've read a few of his other books and have rarely ever been satisfied with their conclusions but always awed by his imagination. I'm hoping this time it will be different but somehow I doubt it.

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#198 Edited by nicksmi56 (850 posts) -

In my apparent quest to give Rick Riordan all of my money, I've been reading Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard. I'm on Book 2: The Hammer of Thor. For those of you who have read the Percy Jackson series and its sequel, this series follows Annabeth's cousin as he deals with the Norse gods rather than the Greek ones. The first one turned out to be a lot better than I thought, but man, this one just isn't grabbing me like I hoped it would. It's not outright bad, but it isn't nearly as interesting from the outset as the others. I find myself having to force myself to read it and I've started over several times. Part of it's probably because I'm spending most of my free time on gaming and the internet rather than reading, but I'd like to think a good book can still tempt me away from those things. It hasn't been that long since I read the first one. I really hope it picks up later on. I'm farther than I've gotten before, so maybe only a few more chapters before it gets great?

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#199 Posted by pyromagnestir (4505 posts) -

I finished Blind Man's Bluff. It was a damn interesting look at sub espionage in the cold war. Drew did not steer me wrong. So thank you @drewbert

I'm about halfway through a book called The Invention of Nature about Alexander von Humboldt, someone I didn't really know about before buying the book, but turns out he was a rather brilliant and influential scientist from the early 1800s, particularly when it comes to his ideas and practices regarding nature. At one point in his life he was said to be the second most famous person in the world, only Napoleon was believed to be more well known. He was one of the first scientists given permission to explore much of the Spanish controlled regions of the Americas, his theories and writing influenced all sorts of people from scientists like Darwin to poets like Wordsworth, he hung out with Thomas Jefferson and Simon Bolivar, and there are probably more places named after him than anyone else. The state of Nevada was apparently almost named Humboldt.

I quite like the guy. He was staunchly anti slavery, anti colonialism, took notice of and spoke out against mankind's harmful impact on nature in a time before climate change was a thing, gave free lectures to audiences that included women at a time when women weren't allowed to study science, and apparently on what would have been his 100th birthday there were celebrations in his honor held all over the world. So this book has been delightful and enlightening.

As for fiction I'll start American Gods in the near future.

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#200 Edited by indieslaw (576 posts) -

I'm currently reading Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev. It's a non-fiction memoir about Russia and Russian Media in the 21st century. My friend recommended it to me as a means to try to understand this last election, and what the consequences of hashtagging "fake news" might ultimately lead to. It's entertaining/depressing. Plus, AC reference.

@jaqen_hghar I love the Frank Muller narration of DT, Guidall isn't quite as good for me. But largely because of that narration, book 4 is also my favorite. I love the complete story that gets told, I love all the angles it's told from. It feels like a "classic" example of storytelling in a lot of ways. By the way, I think Guidall narrated the 1st book because SK went in an revised a bunch of stuff to match up with where it went later. It's that revised and updated version thats generally for sale now.