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Books Read 2018

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Isgrimnur
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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Isgrimnur » Tue May 01, 2018 4:45 pm

Information Technology Auditing, 4th Edition 2/8

Much more focused on system design and data flow than actually interested in telling me how to perform audit functions in detail, but did enough to tell me that I want no part of being an auditor. I'm much more interested in solving problems than merely identifying them.

Code Breakers: Alpha

A pulpy post-apocalyptic cyberpunk book. Certainly not up there with the pioneers of the genre, but entertaining enough to finish. I picked it up cheap in the 4-book kindle box set, and have already started on the second.
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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by El Guapo » Wed May 02, 2018 11:55 am

Grant, by Ron Chernow.

This is a great (albeit very long) book. By the same guy that wrote the Hamilton bio that inspired the musical (and also wrote a Washington biography before that). Grant's a very interesting guy, with lots of interesting chapters (so to speak) to his life - in addition to his Civil War years, he also fought in the Mexican War, and overcame alcoholism and being a bit of a sucker and a shitty businessman during his time in the private sector. I was especially interested in his Presidency and Reconstruction, neither of which I knew a ton about (beyond broad strokes). He did a lot during his Presidency to battle the Klan and to fight for African-American civil rights and equality, in the year just following the end of slavery. Reconstruction is such a fascinating period because the country when more or less straight from slavery into a situation where African-Americans voted and served as congressman, senators, and governors (particularly in those southern states that had an African-American majority). And Grant had admirably progressive views on the equality of African-Americans and minorities in general. Also interesting in that he went from issuing an infamous order during the Civil War (promptly revoked by Lincoln) expelling Jews as a class from his military district, but then went on to be the first President to appoint Jews in his cabinet, and to champion Jewish rights (and battle anti-Semitism) abroad.

Definitely recommended. Also, this made me want to read a biography of James Longstreet, who went from being a Confederate General to being an ally of Grant in supporting African-American rights during Reconstruction (and, as a result, has almost no Confederate memorials to him, despite him being almost as important as Lee to the Confederate war effort). Curious to know more about him.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Kasey Chang » Thu May 03, 2018 1:36 pm

Finished 1632 by Eric Flint

Alternate history. What if a small town of Grantville (fictional) in modern day America was scooped up by cosmic accident and dropped in the middle of Germany in 1632? (Say a sphere of about 10 miles in diameter, which included everything from high school to power plant). Let's just say, as Americans they will start to create a new United States, and Europe will never be the same... by allying with King of Sweden King Gustav.

This spawned a whole series of anthologies and books that it's a load of fun to read. AND it's free in the Baen free library in various formats, not just on kindle. If you like alternate history, this is a load of fun to read.
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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Jeff V » Fri May 11, 2018 2:10 pm

Munich: A Novel by Robert Harris (A) :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky:

A storified telling of the circumstances leading up to the Munich Agreement, Harris tells us of the events leading up to this notorious accord through the eyes of junior diplomats. The major players are here: Hitler, Chamberlain and Mussolini, and while at times they may speak, the story is in no way told from their perspective.

The Munich Agreement was where the Allied powers essentially threw Czechoslovakia under the proverbial bus. Hitler was to be allowed to re-repatriate German territories in the country, and the Allies would not interfere.

The story is mostly well-told, with a subplot of assassination conspiracy that would never get off the ground.

I found it interesting that in this story, Hitler seemed responsive to Mussolini and dismissive towards Chamberlain. There is speculation that the British Expeditionary Force was allowed to withdraw at Dunkirk in order to appease Britain and possibly negotiate a peace. I'm not certain this ever would have been the case had Hitler held such a contemptuous view of Chamberlain as portrayed in this story. Likewise, Mussolini would become such an albatross to Hitler's ambitions that it's hard to think there might have been a time when the Italian dictator actually had some hand in their alliance.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Jeff V » Fri May 11, 2018 2:21 pm

The Pharaoh's Secret by Clive Cussler (A) :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky:

The story starts in ancient Egypt. Then jumps to the Napoleonic Wars. Then in modern time, where a maritime incident release a toxic cloud that seemingly kills everyone it touches - wiping out a small island. And then our NUMA heroes arrive, just as aquifers throughout northern Africa start to suddenly dry up.

The story seems convoluted at first, especially as more characters and threads are introduced. It's not until midway through that it starts to come together and in the end Kurt and Joe save the day. The story has more than a little industrial-sized, James Bond-style evil which does add more than a little implausibility to an otherwise entertaining adventure.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Jeff V » Fri May 11, 2018 2:32 pm

=https://www.librarything.com/work/2088 ... terson (A) :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky:

This book contains storified accounts of two true stories. The first is an apparent home invasion where the occupants are tortured by their captor. It's actually a revenge story, although the victims are clueless through most of the ordeal.

The second involves the baffling murder of a housekeeper and young teenage boy. The motives are unknown, but the MO is similar to another murder being investigated by Omaha detectives. The detectives vow to the boy's parents they will catch the killer, but it would be 5 years and another murder before the case finally breaks open.

If you like true crime TV shows, this book is up your alley.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Jeff V » Fri May 11, 2018 2:41 pm

Stingrays by James Patterson (A) :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky:

Some college friends go to the Caribbean, where they spend a fun-filled night partying on a private yacht. One of the girls is encouraged to do something she's not done before - get drunk. Drunk girl then goes missing.

Wealthy daddy hires a private investigative team that's supposed to be a crack unit but the characters lack the gravitas to be convincing. The investigation hits the usual suspects, and the twist at the end isn't telegraphed. I suspect most of the problem I have is that narrator Zoe Hunter makes all of the characters sound like petulant teenagers -- not just the petulant teenagers.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Jeff V » Fri May 11, 2018 2:54 pm

The Solomon Curse by Clive Cussler (A) :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky:

We know that many of the South Pacific islands have been long-inhabited, but we know little about the history of these people as relics and ruins are few and far between. This makes for a good playground for this sort of story - a timely natural disaster discredits the regime of an ancient Polynesian king on Guadalcanal, plunges his palace into the ocean Atlantis-style, and the story is passed from generation to generation by fewer and fewer people.

Here's where Sam and Remi Fargo step in. A Russian colleague has discovered this sunken ruin, and the Fargos are bankrolling the expedition. The adventurous couple pay a visit to the site - the far side of the island, away from the more urbanized portions. The discovery is breathtaking -- but also shows signs of looting. As the story comes together, it is found that in WW2 during the Japanese occupation, someone got to it first.

While this is unfolding, increasing civil unrest is rocking the island. Politicians are being murdered. Children are disappearing. And, naturally, someone wants to kill the Fargos.

This story has good atmosphere, a fairly complex plot, and a completely unexpected UBG.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Jeff V » Fri May 11, 2018 3:12 pm

The Romanov Ransom by Clive Cussler (A) :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky:

For a couple of self-styled archaeologists, the Fargos sure are racking up an impressive headcount. Not every goon that gets it shoots first; and you'd think that at some point a goon would have a family that would sue them for all their billions. But that never happens in this story - the goons are all red shirts just waiting to get what's coming to them.

The story begins with the legend of the Russian dowager empress Maria Feodorovna putting up her considerable personal fortune in an attempt to secure the release of the deposed Romanov family following the Bolshevik Revolution. The ransom disappeared, and the family was brutally executed.

This story posits that the fortune was squirreled away, only to be found by the Nazi's in WW2. The fortune was moved to Argentina, where it was supposed to finance German refugees intent on creating the Fourth Reich in what was known as Operation Werewolf.

The story takes our heroes to Morocco, then to Russia, then Poland, then Germany, and finally to South America. All the while they are uncovering baffling clues while being hounded by the "Wolf's Guard," a band of thugs sporting a Wolf tattoo and are part of the not-quite-dead-yet Operation Werewolf.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Jeff V » Fri May 11, 2018 3:32 pm

If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look On My Face? My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating by Alan Alda (A) :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky:

As a very successful actor, I figured Alan Alda probably had something significant say on the subject of communicating. I was expecting something along the lines of a celebrity keynote speech at a corporate gathering.

Good thing I listened to the audiobook anyway.

While I loved him in M*A*S*H, I never followed Alda's career closely, so much of this was news to me. I was somewhat aware that he hosted a series sponsored by Scientific American, I was not aware this lasted 11 years. Nor was I aware it was on his own initiative that he was an active host/interviewer throughout the show, initially he was expected to merely introduce the topic. For all of his success as an actor, Alda is a scientist at heart.

As further cred for this book, Alda founded the Alda Center for Communicating Science. This book contains stories of some of the research and findings this institution has produced. It discusses research that Alda has not only funded by actively participated in. While Alda does not presume himself to be a scientist, his joy at having his theories scientifically tested no matter what the outcome is prevalent throughout this book.

There are a lot of lessons here for those who need to communicate. He's not speaking to actors in this book (although they wouldn't be excluded either). One of his theories is how storytelling is a far more effective way of communicating than, say, rattling off factual bullet points. The more technical the information, the less likely it is for another person to fully grasp what is being said. Once engaged, the other party will begin to ask questions, which greatly increases comprehension.

Alda uses this theory of communicating through story telling to drive home his thesis throughout the book. The result is something quite easy to grasp - the hows and whys of this form of communicating are inseparable. His research shows time and again outcomes improve as communicating skills improve; and this is illustrated in everything from autistic children to doctors relaying treatment instructions to their patients.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Moliere » Fri May 11, 2018 3:34 pm

Kasey Chang wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 1:36 pm
Finished 1632 by Eric Flint

Alternate history. What if a small town of Grantville (fictional) in modern day America was scooped up by cosmic accident and dropped in the middle of Germany in 1632? (Say a sphere of about 10 miles in diameter, which included everything from high school to power plant). Let's just say, as Americans they will start to create a new United States, and Europe will never be the same... by allying with King of Sweden King Gustav.

This spawned a whole series of anthologies and books that it's a load of fun to read. AND it's free in the Baen free library in various formats, not just on kindle. If you like alternate history, this is a load of fun to read.
Sounds like the Nantucket series by S. M. Stirling.
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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Scuzz » Fri May 11, 2018 4:33 pm

We are going to have to get JeffV his own thread. :lol:

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Jeff V » Fri May 11, 2018 7:26 pm

I'm on a pace for a record year so far this year. If my MIL comes next month for 6 months as expected, I might be able to pick up the pace since I'll be able to go biking or running again.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by ImLawBoy » Wed May 16, 2018 2:52 pm

Finished Bandwidth by Eliot Peper. This was an Amazon Kindle First Read (i.e., free) that's set in the near future where "The Feed" is omnipresent and is essentially having the internet hard wired into your head with some kind of heads up visual display. Our main character is named "Dag", which is horrible. (I refused to read another book when a character was named "Skylar".) He's a high-powered lobbyist who has helped a major energy player, but he may now be having second thoughts.

To start with, Hemingway would punch this author in the face. The prose is excessively wordy with tons of description and an obsession on tastes of food that would make George R.R. Martin tell him to dial it back. The most interesting part of the book is a straightforward look into a world where climate change has already had devastating effects on the planet and society, but everything seems to be going ahead like normal. It's kind of refreshing to see D.C. continuing to act like D.C. instead of having some sort of depiction of a dystopian future. I thought the book was a bit naive in its thinking on how to counteract climate change, and the motivations of some of the characters was a bit thin. Not a bad read, but I'm unlikely to seek out another if this truly does become the "Analog" series promised by the cover.
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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by xenocide » Tue May 22, 2018 2:11 pm

Shards of Honor: Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold - Book 2 in Vorkosigan Saga. A good character driven space opera with elements of politics and a love story as well.


Throne of Jade: Temeraire Book 2 by Naomi Novik - Main characters go to China for reasons (don't want to spoil book 1). Dragons are much more integrated into Chinese culture then they are in England; interesting contrast. A little less action than book 1. Good continuation of the series.


Startide Rising by David Brin - Book 2 of uplift books. Won Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novel and Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 1984. A starship crewed primarily by uplifted dolphins makes a discovery that puts them at odds with many other galactic factions. Some good scifi mysteries and a few space battles. Looks at the relationships between crew members and how they get along as a newly sentient species and how they feel about their patrons the humans. Good stuff.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Rumpy » Tue May 22, 2018 2:34 pm

Just recently finished reading Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth, a western set in Australia. It wasn't very good in my opinion. Very tarantino-esque in its depiction of racism and violence.
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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Scuzz » Tue May 22, 2018 3:21 pm

xenocide wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 2:11 pm
Shards of Honor: Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold - Book 2 in Vorkosigan Saga. A good character driven space opera with elements of politics and a love story as well.


Throne of Jade: Temeraire Book 2 by Naomi Novik - Main characters go to China for reasons (don't want to spoil book 1). Dragons are much more integrated into Chinese culture then they are in England; interesting contrast. A little less action than book 1. Good continuation of the series.


Startide Rising by David Brin - Book 2 of uplift books. Won Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novel and Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 1984. A starship crewed primarily by uplifted dolphins makes a discovery that puts them at odds with many other galactic factions. Some good scifi mysteries and a few space battles. Looks at the relationships between crew members and how they get along as a newly sentient species and how they feel about their patrons the humans. Good stuff.
I plan to read Startide Rising after I finish my current book. I read the first chapter awhile back before realizing it wasn't the first book in the series.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Isgrimnur » Tue May 22, 2018 3:23 pm

xenocide wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 2:11 pm
Throne of Jade: Temeraire Book 2 by Naomi Novik - Main characters go to China for reasons (don't want to spoil book 1). Dragons are much more integrated into Chinese culture then they are in England; interesting contrast. A little less action than book 1. Good continuation of the series.
I lasted five books before dropping the series, so I'm following your progress with interest.
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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by El Guapo » Tue May 22, 2018 3:58 pm

Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankel.

Read this as part of the new Jewish-American Heritage Book Club at the SEC. It's interesting in that it's part Holocaust memoirs and part psychology / philosophy. The author (Viktor Frankel) was an Austrian Jew who survived several concentration camps during World War II. He's a psychologist, and his focus (per the book's title) is how important it is to people to have meaning in their lives, as applied to enduring a concentration camp. He frequently mentions the quote, "If you have a why to live for, you can endure any how". He describes how in talking to other people in the concentration camps, how essential it was to survival to have something to live for after the war, whether it was a wife, a professional calling to go back to, etc. Anyone who ceased to have something to live for died pretty quickly after that.

It's pretty interesting stuff, and obviously the memoirs of the concentration camps were pretty powerful. It would go back and forth between his holocaust experiences and his philosophical / psychology teachings; the former were definitely more interesting, but the latter was also fairly compelling at times.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Jeff V » Tue May 29, 2018 2:43 pm

Winter Eternal: The River That Flows Two Ways by E. Thomas Joseph (K) :binky: :binky: :binky:

The author uses some stark, often crude language in this book, so it's not for the faint of heart. I like the realism though...there is no doubt the author can create a vivid picture with his storytelling. The story part? Err...not so much.

As near as I can tell, this is the first book of a serialized story. None of the main characters have their story lines wrapped up at the end. The first 3/4 of the book there is no real defined plot...characters are introduced and narrative begins, but there is nothing tying it together with common motivations. The story takes place during the Revolutionary War, mostly, it seems, in upstate NY. A British squad is sent with dispatch and the inexperienced captain in charge runs afoul of all manner of misfortune, eventually losing all of his charges. Meanwhile an well-to-do American goes from entertaining prostitutes to coming home to a palatial mansion with his adorable wife and two daughters. Another thread springs up in far away Scotland. Finally, we get to what is apparently the crux of the series...some British soldiers in possession of an Indian doo-dad that has fantastical magical powers.

It takes too long to discover the plot, and once there, very little of it is developed. I've seen this before in serial numbers and sometimes after 2 or 3 books, the groove is set and I always wonder if I ought to re-read the first book to see what I might have missed because details seemed unimportant at the time. I liked this enough to read more, but I find it hard to recommend until another book or two are out and the direction of the story is more clear-cut.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Jeff V » Tue May 29, 2018 2:52 pm

Devil's Gate by Clive Cussler (A) :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky:
Cussler couldn't resist putting his heroes into a James Bond situation where the penultimate UBG over-thinks executing them, leading to an improbable escape that naturally dooms him in the end. The rest of the story is equally absurd, but fun...just like in Bond, a super villain crafts a weapon of inconceivable power that can wipe out entire cities.

I wish my library had more of this series on audiobook, I'd get them all.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Jeff V » Tue May 29, 2018 3:03 pm

Zero Hour by Clive Cussler (A) :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky:

The background of this story begins with Nikolai Tesla and a theory regarding "Zero Point Energy." An extremely powerful energy source, it is considered uncontrollable and experiments have proven disastrous. Kurt and Joe and the rest of the NUMA crew are on a race against time when a super villain threatens to use this to cleave Australia in two. To show he's not joking, he is able to create an earthquake at the time and place of his choosing. But did I mention this is not a stable energy source? Our heroes need to contend with more than simply stopping the UBG's nefarious plot.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Jeff V » Tue May 29, 2018 3:26 pm

Pirate by Clive Cussler (A) :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky:

Our heroes, the Fargos, are in a rare bookstore obtaining a copy of an old book about pirates. Some thugs barge in and wind up killing the store owner, the uncle of one of their employees. When her cousin (the owner's daughter) is kidnapped, Sam and Remi start to think there is something more to the book than merely an old tome.

So naturally they end up on a quest to find the long-lost King John's treasure, squirreled away centuries ago when the monarch died while on a journey. Not much about pirates at all!

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Jeff V » Tue May 29, 2018 3:28 pm

All-American Murder - The Rise and Fall of Aaron Hernandez by James Patterson (A) :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky:

I was somewhat aware of the Aaron Hernandez trial, but don't follow sports news all that closely anymore. While this is ostensibly a non-fiction book that tells the rise and fall of a superstar, the narrative includes elements of speculation not proven in the court of law. One might then consider this to be a storyfied account of Hernandez and the people he killed (or presumably killed).

The story itself, despite whatever liberties with the facts, is a good one and well told. I already knew how it ended, so the fascination was in the progression. It was suggested in the story that Hernandez probably suffered brain injury similar to what caused Dave Duerson and Junior Seau to kill themselves. Probably the only thing this story doesn't elaborate on, however, is Hernandez' injury history. The conclusion, therefore, is just more speculation and more of a means to make sense of a life that should have followed a far better script.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by ImLawBoy » Mon Jun 04, 2018 11:24 am

Finished Death Masks by Jim Butcher. I've got one more book left in this starter six pack of the Dresden Files, and they books seem to be getting better and better. I'm worried that I'll have to buy more, and they won't be nearly as cheap as $5 for the first six (or whatever I paid). It's like the publisher is a drug dealer or something!

Starting up The Outsider by Stephen King. I've heard good buzz about this one, so I'm getting right to it instead of waiting to see if I can get it on a price drop.
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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Scuzz » Mon Jun 04, 2018 1:09 pm

Arctic Drift by Cussler and Cussler


I have read several Cussler NUMA books and none of them are designed for people who need some real logic in their plots. This one is worse than most. The action is good, well written fan fiction but the basic plot, and the world energy crises that drives the plot are just crazy.

This is a Dirk Pitt book, it even has his son and daughter in it. Pitt ends up saving the day and preventing a war between the US and Canada. The reason for the enmity is $10 gas prices and America's desire to reduce greenhouse gases.

Maybe this was alternate universe Dirk Pitt.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Jeff V » Mon Jun 04, 2018 2:35 pm

Scuzz wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 1:09 pm
America's desire to reduce greenhouse gases.
:lol: :lol: :lol: Far-fetched indeed!

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Scuzz » Mon Jun 04, 2018 3:57 pm

Jeff V wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 2:35 pm
Scuzz wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 1:09 pm
America's desire to reduce greenhouse gases.
:lol: :lol: :lol: Far-fetched indeed!
I believe this book was written about 2007 or 2008. Early in the book the authors have the president of the US in a panic over America's inability to supply enough natural gas for the country. Apparently they weren't aware of the huge amounts of natural gas here, but we just don't want to use it. But using Canada's is apparently okay because well, Canadian gas is better for some reason. And the book opens up with $10 gas because of environmental restrictions. The authors went a long way to create the situation needed so that there plot made any kind of sense what so ever.

But as I said, the action stuff is good. :)

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Isgrimnur » Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:13 pm

Isgrimnur wrote:
Tue May 01, 2018 4:45 pm
A pulpy post-apocalyptic cyberpunk book. Certainly not up there with the pioneers of the genre, but entertaining enough to finish. I picked it up cheap in the 4-book kindle box set, and have already started on the second.
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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Kasey Chang » Wed Jun 06, 2018 6:14 pm

Finished Travess Blood by Quinn Larson // Historical western

Clint Travess, sheriff of Trenton, did not really want the job, but when the old sheriff died, there really was no one else. His woman Ann had married the rich rancher Matt Gustafson instead, and that Matt would rather see Clint dead than help... When Clint got word that his brother Troy is being released from prison after 7 years of hard labor, he prepared for trouble, for his brother had sworn to kill him and take revenge on the entire town. Clint was the one that caught Troy and gang robbing the stagecoach. // Troy is heading back to Trenton to reclaim his child and his woman. He had survived the hellish prison, with only revenge sustaining him. Learning that his woman had died at childbirth did not help, but having Gustafson as an ally against his brother Clint did. Soon, people are dying around town. And caught in the middle is Ann and Troy's kid Mark. In the end, Travess blood will be spilled, as only one brother wil come out of this alive...

Nice tale of revenge and love. And LOTS of dead bodies. LOTS. 7/8
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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by MonkeyFinger » Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:53 am

Kasey, I thought you had your own thread. :wink:

I can't recommend the Hell Divers series by Nicholas Sansbury Smith enough. Powered through the first two books and reading the third one now and enjoying the crap out of them. From the page for book 1:
An Audible Editor's Pick of 2016 and An Audible Best of 2016 Science Fiction.

More than two centuries after World War III poisoned the planet, the final bastion of humanity lives on massive airships circling the globe in search of a habitable area to call home. Aging and outdated, most of the ships plummeted back to Earth long ago. The only thing keeping the two surviving lifeboats in the sky are Hell Divers - men and women who risk their lives by diving to the surface to scavenge for parts the ships desperately need.

When one of the remaining airships is damaged in an electrical storm, a Hell Diver team is deployed to a hostile zone called Hades. But there's something down there that's far worse than the mutated creatures discovered on dives in the past - something that threatens the fragile future of humanity.
-mf

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ImLawBoy
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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by ImLawBoy » Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:55 am

MonkeyFinger wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:53 am
Kasey, I thought you had your own thread. :wink:
I think he puts his romance novels in the other thread, but he'll still update this thread with other books that differ in theme.
We had subs. It was crazy

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Jeff V » Fri Jun 08, 2018 3:49 pm

Circe by Madeline Miller (A) :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky:

Madeline Miller seems to have carved out a niche for herself developing characters of Greek mythology or legend. A few years ago, I read her story about Achilles; this time it's the sorceress god Circe.

In mythology, Circe was somewhat of a bad-ass, able to morph people and gods into creatures representing their true nature. In The Odyssey, Odesseus' crew was turned into pigs. In this book, the tragic hero was father to her son, and the pigs were simply island companions.

Miller tries to make Circe more of a sympathetic figure than the myths would otherwise have you believe. The purpose of myths is to give stories that educate and hopefully influence people to behave to a societal norm. This story seems to nerf the impact of who Circe was and makes her less terrifying than the myth-makers had in mind. Circe wasn't the only one getting the softball treatment -- she is an attendant when her sister gives birth to the minotaur, and despite losing a few fingers to the beast while trying to accomplish a c-section, she nevertheless laments at the poor, misunderstood creature's fate.

Unlike Song of Achilles, there is no real story with any sort of plot. Circe is, she does stuff, people and gods suffer, but it's all a stream of consciousness coming from her. In the end, I wished there was something to actually be an end.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Jeff V » Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:16 pm

Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music by John Fogerty (A) :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky:

The story of Creedence Clearwater Revival and John Fogerty in particular is an epic tragedy - a cautionary tale for anyone so anxious to get to the big time they neglect to have the proffered contract vetted by an attorney with their interest at heart. Now, with many of the principles dead, Fogerty finally tells his story in detail, unconcerned his words will haunt him in future litigation.

Fogerty says he's made peace with everything -- the record label exec that swindled him (numerous times), the band members who betrayed him, and con men who conspired to steal the band member's money. However, the passion and anger in his voice as he reads this story belie the notion he is truly at peace -- he might be in a better place mentally, but clearly he harbors deep resentment that he'll take to his grave.

There's another lesson here too. CCR was a band of long-time friends and John's brother; however, John was the only real talent in the band. This created a lot of animosity as the band fancied themselves a democratic entity; but John was writing all of the hit songs, and in the studio, often played most of the instrumental tracks, sometimes discarding the efforts of other band members in pursuit of perfection. The old adage, "it's hard to soar like an eagle when surrounded by a bunch of turkeys" kind of applies here. John did elevate the band to the top of the world in 1969-70; only for the turkeys to bring it all crashing down. History would prove that John was the commercial talent, the other guys just filler. While a few managed to get solo projects produced, none ever amounted to anything.

I noticed that John Fogerty is on the concert circuit and coming to town this summer. After reading his story I feel I should go see him.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Jeff V » Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:30 pm

Count to Ten by James Patterson (A) :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky: :binky:

I might have mentioned this after listening to the last Private: India book, but it bears repeating: Note to audiobook producers: Having heavily accented ethnic readers does not add to the atmosphere of your story. It just makes it harder to follow.

The story itself is just okay. A organ harvesting operation has some very high-profile corporate and medical participants, and while bodies are piling up sans things like livers and hearts, the perpetrators themselves are being hunted by a vigilante. Private is not at the top of their game, merely coexisting with inept local law enforcement. Not a bad story, if predictable, and I probably would have kicked it up a tentacle had it not used an accented reader to tell the story.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Jeff V » Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:40 pm

https://www.librarything.com/work/19911 ... /156931562

Now, I love Baldwin's skits on SNL - he really does a good job with the caricature that is Donald Trump. 6+ hours of it, though, is just too much. Baldwin reads this audiobook in character, meaning the cadence just wears on you, and rather quickly. Stuff that was still mildly funny a year ago when he did this book are horrifyingly mild compared to events that have transpired since. Given that we apparently have a long way to go in this ridiculous presidency, I think Baldwin probably should have let things (if not actual events, then his characterization of them) run its course before laying down this book. As it stands, it's pretty obsolete.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by MonkeyFinger » Sat Jun 09, 2018 11:10 am

ImLawBoy wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:55 am
MonkeyFinger wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:53 am
Kasey, I thought you had your own thread. :wink:
I think he puts his romance novels in the other thread, but he'll still update this thread with other books that differ in theme.
Yeah, occurred to me that might be the case later in the day.
-mf

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Archinerd
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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Archinerd » Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:18 pm

I've now finished all the Harry Potter books.

To be honest, they were a bit better than I expected and were weirdly addicting despite being largely predictable and often feeling cobbled together from the scraps of better books. I thought the two biggest flaw of the series are entire Chapters of exposition dump and most characters are very shallow and do not develop much (or at all) as the story progresses.
Snape though, is by far the most interesting character and I really want to watch the movies just see Alan Rickman in the part. I can't think of anyone who is more perfect for that character. I'm glad I read them, if only for the feeling I earned myself one more pop culture achievement badge.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Scuzz » Tue Jun 12, 2018 3:58 pm

Snape's character in the movies is poorly used. He is literally always the bad guy, even when he does something good. Harry hates him with a passion from almost the beginning that underlies everything that occurs between them. Of course, Snape doesn't really show much like for Harry either.

It isn't until the end, despite all Dumbledore's protestations for Harry to trust him, that Harry finally learns what makes Snape tick.

And Rickman is great in the role.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Archinerd » Tue Jun 12, 2018 4:15 pm

Sounds same as in the books actually.

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