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Books Read 2019

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Scuzz
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Scuzz » Wed Jan 16, 2019 5:05 pm

Uplift War by David Brin

The third book in the original Uplift Saga Trilogy (I guess there was a second trilogy written a few years later). This book, like the second, only makes slight references to the previous books, although the plot of the second book directly effects what happens in this book, on the planet of Garth. I really enjoyed this book, I think more than either of the previous two and I liked them as well. Brin creates wonderful worlds and characters, and he allows them to grow with the plot.

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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Archinerd » Mon Jan 21, 2019 2:01 am

Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are
by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

Data analyst uses data from google searches, social media and porn sites to find answers to things like;
1) How much race mattered in Obama's election
2) Do people prefer to have a boy or girl baby?
3) Is there a flu outbreak?
4) What percentage of the U.S. population is gay men?
...and a bunch of others.

It was alright. It was an easy and entertaining read but it's pretty light on the actual science. Which was fine, mostly. There were a few times I had wished he'd go into more detail on some of his findings or processes but instead he just wrapped it up and moved on to the next thing. He also thinks a bit too highly of the value of this book too and comes right out and explicitly says he sees it as the next big thing since Freakanomics. I don't think so, but whatever. I did learn a few new things and certainly got my $3.00 worth.

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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Kasey Chang » Mon Jan 21, 2019 4:45 am

Finished KGU: AOM: Caitlin Chronicles 3: Hunting the Broken

Caitlin and Crew found themselves drawn into another problem when their resident were Kain was kidnapped... By his old clan he ran away from... the Clan was deliberately infecting human children, turning them into weres, and soon, they will declare war on the humans living on the surface...

In the meanwhile, problem is brewing back home...

This one is mostly setup for Book 4 with the big battle. Still, good action so far,

-----

Finished The Witcher Book 2: The Time of Contempt

I probably need to re-read this, as there's a lot of intrigue, even as Ceci learned her powers, Yennifer trying to shepherd Ceci, and Geralt found themselves in the midst of a war when kings conspire to take out the magic conclave...

------

Finished Standing in the Storm: Last Brigade 2

Read Last Brigade Book 1 Earlier... a whole brigade (actually a regiment) was put in suspended animation to be revived later. Except the country had already gone to **** when the revival signal was finally received. In Book 2, the brigade went on to fight a two front battle, with half of the forces retaking what used to be Prescott AZ from a warlord, while the other half fight off the Chinese expeditionary force stranded on the US West Coast for decades. Unfortunately, just as both battles are about to be won, the Caliphates started attacking from the south...

Good action, as the southern attack caught them by mostly a surprise, and the HQ company with final reserves have to plug the line against what's basically a massed human wave attack.

------

Finished about a dozen other books that won't be named here (they're on my GRR blog).

------

Total read so far... Beyond 60 for sure. Probably 62-64.
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by YellowKing » Tue Jan 22, 2019 12:19 pm

Finished:

THE OUTSIDER by Stephen King
THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Paul Tremblay
ENDURANCE: SHACKLETON'S INCREDIBLE VOYAGE by Alfred Lansing
MEDDLING KIDS by Edgar Cantero
THE SKEPTICS' GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE by Dr. Steven Novella
PANHANDLE by Brett Cogburn
THE TROOP by Nick Cutter
FOLSOM UNTOLD: THE STRANGE TRUE STORY OF JOHNNY CASH'S GREATEST ALBUM by Danny Robins
THE DISPATCHER by John Scalzi
THE LONG SHIPS by Frans G. Bengtsson
SEVENEVES: A NOVEL by Neal Stephenson
KILLER BY NATURE by Jan Smith
SLEEPY HOLLOW: BRIDGE OF BONES by Richard Gleaves
NECROSCOPE by Brian Lumley
DEVIL'S ROCK by Paul Tremblay
BLACK CROW, WHITE SNOW by Michael Livingston
ALIEN III by William Gibson
THE WILD HEART OF STEVIE NICKS by Rob Sheffield
THE INDIFFERENT STARS ABOVE: THE HARROWING SAGA OF THE DONNER PARTY by Daniel James Brown

Reading:

THE HAUNTED FOREST TOUR by Jeff Strand & James A. Moore
THE MASK COLLECTORS: A NOVEL by Ruvanee Pietersz Vilhauer
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Ralph-Wiggum » Wed Jan 23, 2019 1:42 pm

I guess since I've upped my reading the last year or two (since I realized I could get most of the books I want digitally from my library for free), I should start keeping track of what I've read.

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik: An interesting book (maybe YA?) told from multiple perspectives that takes place in a sort of fantasy version of 18th century Russia. I supposed it is meant to be inspired by/a heavily adapted version of the Rumplestiltskin fairy tale. In any case, it read quickly and kept my attention. 6/8 tentacles

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan: A fantastical tale about the childhood of a slave in Barbados in the 1830s and his adventures. It reminded me in a sense of Huck Finn. I really enjoyed this book and it never seem to slack. Perhaps my favorite book that I've read in the last few years. 8/8 tentacles and the Binky award of approval. :binky:

Friday Black by Nana Kwami Adjei-Brenyah: A collection of loosely tied together short stories taking place in a dystopian near-future with a strong focus on race and race-relations. Some of the stories are very dark and violent but powerful. I really enjoyed this book as well. 7/8 tentacles

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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Kasey Chang » Fri Jan 25, 2019 12:52 pm

Finished Lions of Kandahar (non-fic)

Written by a then Captain in the US Special Forces, he documented on how they lost the momentum in Afghanistan in 2006 and had to go back out and retake the city and countryside from the Taliban, specifically one hill overlooking Kandahar, and his small detachment (one A-team plus a few dozen Afghan allies) is facing up to 1000 Taliban (and sympathizers) fighters...

Need to re-read this, Its' raw and authentic, and completely un-jingoistic.

-----

Finished KGU:AOM: Caitlin Chronicles 4: City Revolts

Caitlin and Crew had defeated the were leader who wanted to destroy all humans above ground, but the problem is hardly over. Someone is deliberately provoking hostility between the humans and the weres, and not even Caitlin's crew is above suspicion. When Caitlin's hometown of Silvercreek has been infected by the Mad, her brother had no choice but to lead the able-bodied survivors to reach the other city... just in time to find the final treachery...

Good twist at the end. Still good actions.

-----

Finished 4 other books that will not be named here.

Total finished... About 70.
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Jeff V » Fri Jan 25, 2019 2:41 pm

The Meaning of Blood by Chuck Caruso (K) :binky: :binky: :binky:

The use of the word "Perversity" in the title is really suggestive of something this short story collection is not. There are some colorful characters to be sure, but few I would call out as "perverse."

Some of these stories are really short, and most of the plots are familiar and ordinary. The stories had a tendency to abruptly end...too abruptly as they feel rather unfinished. It seemed more like I was reading Mr. Caruso's notes on plots for stories rather than completed stories themselves. A good short story can be a difficult thing to pull off -- and he does ok on occasion. Mr. Caruso just misses more than he hits and in those stories, the reader is left hanging with no sense of closure.

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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Jeff V » Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:16 pm

The Drunk Detective: A Dotty Davis Comedy Suspense by Mary Jean Curry (K) :binky: :binky: :binky:

Dotty Davis is what I supposed is called a "functional alcoholic" in that she drinks excessively, but still by and large thinks like a detective and can still accomplish things like staying alive when others around her are dropping like flies. There's nothing particularly funny about the story, however, and Dotty is not a very endearing character. And it's hard to like any story if the characters are not likable.

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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by YellowKing » Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:21 pm

Finished THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Paul Tremblay.

The premise is that a group of strangers show up at a family's remove vacation cabin and tell them that unless one of them volunteers to be murdered, the world is going to end.

It's quite a gripping thriller, but I think I enjoyed Tremblay's earlier book A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS much more. Still, I think you'll probably see this one adapted to film before too long. It has the same feel as Bird Box in that I could see a streaming service picking up the rights.

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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Gryndyl » Sat Jan 26, 2019 12:32 am

Kasey Chang wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 4:45 am

Finished about a dozen other books that won't be named here (they're on my GRR blog).
What is a GRR blog?

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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Jeff V » Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:10 am

Gryndyl wrote:
Sat Jan 26, 2019 12:32 am
Kasey Chang wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 4:45 am

Finished about a dozen other books that won't be named here (they're on my GRR blog).
What is a GRR blog?
Considering the source, Great Romance Readers? :P

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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Kasey Chang » Sat Jan 26, 2019 12:37 pm

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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Kasey Chang » Sun Jan 27, 2019 1:32 pm

FInished Factfulness by Hans Rosling

Think Freakonomics, Thinking Fast and Slow, and an upbeat look at human achievement all rolled into one book. That's this one.

People all around the world, both uneducated and Nobel candidates, all walks of life, get global trends wrong. In fact, on the average, people do WORSE than random chance, meaning there's deep misunderstanding of how the world really is, vs. how we think it is. And on the general, we believe the world is worse than it really is. ESPECIALLY those of us living in the first world countries, and we have deep prejudices, no matter how we try to be fair, that we have a hard time overcoming.

EX: In the past twenty years, the "extremely poor population of the world" have...

A) halved

B) remained the same

C) doubled
Spoiler:
The answer is A) halved

This is one of the 13 questions about the preconceptions at the beginning of the book. I'd say I got half of them wrong, and for that, I am actually well above average. According to the author, most people score about 3 (out of 13), which is less than random chance. For that particular question, 7% got it right, and only 5% in the US got it right.

It's clear that we have deeply ingrained CULTURAL issues that colored our perception of the world and thus, our prediction of global trends. And because of that, we humans often perform completely illogical actions based on those colored beliefs. Did you know Gates Foundation often gets petitions that they should NOT save children in third-world countries with basic sanitary and medical care? The reasoning is "if you keep saving those children, we'll be overpopulated in no time". Yet it's clear that birthrates drop as soon as health care and basic standards of living rise. The contraception use rate difference between religious (Italy, Iran) and non-religious countries are negligible (within 2%). It's clear that there's a bit of prejudice there... We don't want "them" to spoil our little party here.

Indeed, the author raised another anecdote... during an UN meeting (2007) on climate change, the energy minister of India, after some European guy basically blamed global warming on the developing nations being the worst polluters (China already emit more than US, etc.)... The guy calmly explained while the first world countries have burned fossil fuel for over a century, clearly they are to blame for the mess. But in all fairness, the only VALID measure of carbon footprint is PER PERSON, not per nation.

The author had identified ten "instincts" that are partly cognitive biases, and partly learned biases that we need to be aware of, and overcome.

I got this book on sale so I wouldn't recommend paying $15 for it. But for the price I paid, it's worth every penny.

----

Read 4 other books I won't mention here.

Total read: about 75
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Scuzz » Mon Jan 28, 2019 5:41 pm

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

This is my second Stephenson book and probably because I had read Cryptonomicon I had a general idea what to expect. The first 50-75 pages of this book is like reading in a foreign language, but after that you get into the characters and the story and with that background the original pages then make sense. The book was written in 1991 but it foresees many social media things in todays world. Sure, there are parts of the book where Stephenson is explaining something to you that you can fast forward thru but nearly as much as in Cryptonomicon.

I enjoyed this book. The end is a little quick but Stephenson is very imaginative and writes in a style that is fun to read, aside from his penchant to get carried away with the technical stuff. Well worth the read.

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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by hitbyambulance » Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:16 pm

Scuzz wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 5:41 pm
The end is a little quick but Stephenson is very imaginative and writes in a style that is fun to read, aside from his penchant to get carried away with the technical stuff.
this describes approximately 100% of his output (i've read everything except the whole Baroque Cycle, and i'm fine with that)

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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by ImLawBoy » Tue Jan 29, 2019 11:50 am

Finished Adulthood Rites by Octavia E. Butler. This is the second book in her Xenogenesis trilogy, and I wrote about the first book here. This book shifts away from human survivor Lilith and focuses on her son Akin, who is the first male human-alien hybrid (or construct as they're called) permitted to be born to a human woman. He's mostly human in appearance, but he's very much a mix overall. The aliens are worried about human males because of their violent tendencies, which are embedded in their genes, so they're being very careful about them as they try to repopulate the world. Akin bounces between Trade villages, which are a mix of alien and human, and where all births are constructs, and Resister villages, where the aliens are permitting humans to live free of the aliens - albeit without the ability to reproduce (and with modifications to give them greatly extended lives). The violence of humans shows itself pretty quickly, but Akin's human side sees value in humanity. I liked this book a bit better than the first one, I think in part because I enjoyed the Earth setting more than the first book's orbiting space ship setting. I'll probably take a break of a couple of books before I go back to finish book three.

Next up is Dungeoneers: Mazerynth by some dude named Jeffrey Russell.
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Kasey Chang » Sat Feb 02, 2019 11:32 am

Finished "Etheric Apocalypse: Age of Magic, a KGU book" by (various)

All the different groups, fighting their own good fight in the Age of Magic on Irth, come together, when summoned by the Founder Ezekiel, to fight the biggest threat ever facing Irth... The Skrima threat is getting worse, and heroes are needed. But when the heroes are gathered, they found betrayal worse than that ever imagined, from an enemy that outpowers them...

This is like the super-crossover event, when all the different crews in Age of Magic come together for one huge epic fight. And it's pretty darn good.

---

Finished Brownstone #5: She Is The Widow Maker.

Brownstone decides to setup his own security and bounty hunter company so his crew (former gang) will go out and hunt the low level bounties. In the meanwhile, Oriceran mercenaries are out to hunt Alison (i.e. the princess) to return her to Oricera, but they don't know what she looks like. So they have to trail Brownstone. And they are powerful indeed. Unfortunately, they end up interfering in a police attempt to take down Shay...

Good plot twist and slow-train-collision kind of plot. It's very entertaining.

-----

Give or take, finished about 10-15 other books of various topics.

Total read: Probably about 90.
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Scuzz » Mon Feb 04, 2019 6:01 pm

The Innocent by David Balducci

This is the first book in what I think is a four part, to date, series using a character named Will Robie. Robie is an US government authorized assassin, and when things go wrong on a hit the shit hits the fan and Robie needs to get himself out of it.

This book is kind of a mix of James Bond and Travis Magee. Not a great book, the leaps in logic are kind of amazing, but great reading on a rainy day, which is when I read it.

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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Jaymon » Mon Feb 04, 2019 7:01 pm

Murderbot Diaries - by Martha Wells
--many folks reviewed this and said, Wow, this is amazing. So I got the first book and said, Wow, this is amazing. And then I got the rest of them, and those were amazing also. "As a heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure"

Mortal Engines - by Philip Reeve
--I saw the movie trailer and thought, I want to read a book about cities on wheels wandering the countryside. So I got the book and read it and was not disappointed. Also, lots of airships. If I knew that, I would not have needed cities on wheels to get me started.
Mortal Engines - enjoyed tremendously
Predator's Gold - disappointing followup. it has action and adventure, but also extremely tired trope of boy saves the world, and girls only exist to love the boys. grrr, this bodes ill for the rest of the series.
Infernal Devices - its back to being enjoyable, another adventure story with far fewer helpless ladies in need of rescue
A Darkling Plain - fantastic, full fledged adventure with plenty of explosions, its too bad this can't be a movie by itself
Fever Crumb - prequel of sorts to the Mortal Engines series, I enjoyed it, short and easy to read.

Dungeoneers: Mazerynth - by our very own Jeffery Russell
--Everything you liked about the first three books is also in the fourth book. There is a little less focus on dwarves and a little more focus on non-dwarves. but hey, sometimes you need to eat some veggies to remind you why steak is so tasty.

Ball Lightning - by Cixin Liu
--I am liking is work, its very nice to get an alternate viewpoint. its also a good story and a new take on a non-unique concept. Its hard sci-fi, and there is no big bad antagonist. just scientists doing things for reasons, and then stuff happens thats pretty exciting.

A Quick bite of Flesh: An Anthology of Zombie Flash Fiction - Jay Wilburn and Matthew Smallwood
--I don't remember how long ago I picked this up, but I opened my kindle reader and there is was. So I read it. I enjoyed it mostly, lots of short stories about zombies, but nothing spectacular in my opinion.

Monstress - graphic novel by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
-I think it was an OK story, but I found the graphics and storytelling to be confusing, there was a lot of flashbacks and dream sequences without any segue between them

Priam's Lens by Jack L. Chaulker - fairly standard space opera fare. Its nice that the aliens are mysterious and uber powerful. I don't like how he portrayed the women in the book, and it was tiresome how all of them needed to sleep with the hero.

The Last Wish - first book of Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski - did not enjoy this, one of the rare times I put a book down and didn't finish it. Except for the inclusion of Polish version of the monsters, its fairly standard Mary-Sue fantasy adventure. Except there is lots of mysogony, rape, prostitution etc, and I didn't like that.

Marooned in Realtime - Verner Vinge
A followup novel to The Peace War, various groups of human in the far future on Earth, after some sort of civilization ending event. Then, somebody gets murdered in one of the most sci-fi ways possible. A good read, and very dependent on technology.

Arc of Scythe - Neil Shusterman
Scythe, Thunderhead First two books in this series. In the future, a benevolent AI has ended all war, and medicine is advanced enough that people can live basically forever. To keep population under control, a group of humans are selected as "Scythes" their job is to randomly select and reap humans. Its a good premise and a well written story. Its aimed more at the YA crowd, featuring teenagers as the main protagonists.
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Kasey Chang
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Kasey Chang » Tue Feb 05, 2019 12:11 pm

Finished "The Military Science of Star Wars", a real military guy looked at wars in Star Wars and concludes Empire and First Order is a lot like real militaries that are losing... Huge amount of hubris, inertia, and fear of offending the leaders.

Hubris: instead of protecting the heart of the Deathstar II after destruction of the first one, they made the hole EVER BIGGER!

Inertia: Being flanked by starfighters once apparently is not enough for the Empire to adopt concentric rings of defense for the Death Star even the second time.

Fear of offending the leader: no one wants to be force choked by Vader, so nobody wants to tell him the bad news.

With that said, Lucas never served in the military, and IIRC, his only military advisor was an NCO. So the tactics portrayed in 4-5-6 were stupid. No artillery, no close air support. AT-AT and AT-ST walkers are too slow they are mainly intimidation weapons. First order is a little better. Empire Strikes Back is hilarious to a real military guy. The Empire couldn't POSSIBLY have lost given available resources, but Lucas was trying to do a reaction off Vietnam War. So the Ewoks have to win.

The book also went into a bit of training, armor, superweapon (deathstar was compared to the atomic bomb) and so on. Some bits were pretty good, but some bits felt as if they were tacked on and barely relevant. 6/8

4 other books read. Total read: about 95.
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Scuzz » Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:30 pm

Kasey Chang wrote:
Tue Feb 05, 2019 12:11 pm


With that said, Lucas never served in the military, and IIRC, his only military advisor was an NCO. So the tactics portrayed in 4-5-6 were stupid. No artillery, no close air support. AT-AT and AT-ST walkers are too slow they are mainly intimidation weapons. First order is a little better. Empire Strikes Back is hilarious to a real military guy. The Empire couldn't POSSIBLY have lost given available resources, but Lucas was trying to do a reaction off Vietnam War. So the Ewoks have to win.
The tactics employed by the resistance in SW8 (namely the stupid bombing run) sure demonstrate military imcompetance.

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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Kasey Chang » Wed Feb 06, 2019 3:22 am

In contrast to Rogue One, absolutely. Rogue One at least look somewhat military, with proper use of close air support and stuff.

SW8... Yep. It's stupid. Just say it after me...

Bombs... in... space....

ARGH. :naughty: :snooty:
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by ImLawBoy » Fri Feb 08, 2019 12:59 pm

Finished Dungeoneers: Mazerynth by Jeffrey Russell (Gryndl). Another fun ride with Thud & Co. This one brings a lot of Egyptian stuff to the party, such as mummy lords and rabbit-headed gods. It's an easy read and was quite enjoyable, especially at the reasonable price point. I'm not normally much of a fantasy reader, but these have me hooked. If you haven't read them, check out the first one is a mere $2.99 for a Kindle edition.

Started Six Scary Stories selected and introduced by Stephen King.This is likely to go pretty quickly (I started it on the train home last night and have already finished the first two stories). The stories here resulted from a UK writing contest that was a promotional event for one of King's story compilations. I enjoy short form horror a lot, so this is up my alley.
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by ImLawBoy » Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:50 pm

Finished Six Scary Stories selected and introduced by Stephen King. As suspected, that was a quick read. ;) It's a bit of a stretch to say that these were really selected by King. They were part of a promotional contest associated with a King book release in the UK. The top six stories were given to King to pick a winner. He picked one, but because he liked them all he suggested they all get published. Each story was in the 10-15 page range, so they went quick. They were mostly entertaining.

Started The Dog of the South by Charles Portis. I read a piece on The Ringer about the funniest novel you've never heard of turning 40 and it sounded pretty good, so I picked it up.
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by YellowKing » Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:37 pm

Finished MEDDLING KIDS by Edgar Cantero.

It's a book about a group of former teenage sleuths (now in their 20s) who reunite to revisit a mystery that has haunted them for years. The obvious Scooby Doo comparisons give it a whimsical tone throughout, but it's in stark contrast to some heavy Lovecraftian terror. The only thing I disliked is a lesbian romance thread that runs throughout that I found distracting and superfluous. The author is a Spanish writer and cartoonist, and some of his prose reflects a bit of that quirkiness and sharp wit. Recommended.

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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by ImLawBoy » Fri Feb 22, 2019 4:05 pm

Finished The Dog of the South by Charles Portis. Portis is a reclusive author of 5 novels, the last one released in 1991, and the most famous being True Grit. The Dog of the South follows Ray Midge, a 26 year old from Little Rock who has no real ambition, as he looks for his wife who has run off with her first husband in Ray's blue Torino using Ray's credit cards. He uses the credit card receipts and other means to eventually trace them down to Belize. It's not a laugh out loud funny book, but it is quite entertaining. It's narrated by Ray first person, and his self-deprecating voice tells the story well. Along the way we meet a bail bondsman and a con man of a doctor (not currently practicing, what with losing his license in a scam) who play prominent roles. I saw this described as kind of a comic Cormac McCarthy, and I can see that. I really enjoyed the book, but if you like action or even a distinct plot, this is probably one to skip.

Up next is Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James. It's the first book of a planned trilogy (The Dark Star Trilogy), and I picked it up off of the strength of a good review and my ongoing desire to diversify my reading. It's being described as an "African Game of Thrones".
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Scuzz
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Scuzz » Mon Mar 04, 2019 4:14 pm

Ship of Magic by Robin Hobbs

So I finished the first book in Robin Hobbs Liveship Trilogy. Not as compelling as the Farseer Trilogy but there is enough there to make you want to know what happens to the Vestrit family. This trilogy has more of a James Michener generational type vibe going on, although I am pretty sure Hobbs will probably keep things closer to our main characters.

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El Guapo
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by El Guapo » Thu Mar 07, 2019 11:31 am

The Fifth Risk, by Michael Lewis

It's hard to imagine a book more in my wheelhouse than this. Michael Lewis is one of my favorite authors, and this book is essentially about how federal employees are unsung heroes who do a lot of critical work that's misunderstood or not known by most people. This is Michael Lewis going around interviewing various unsung (often former) federal employees in agencies like the NOAA, Department of Commerce, and FDA, which tend to be misunderstood. It's also focused on the Trump Administration, and how pretty much across the government after the 2016 federal employees prepared transition materials to help the new administration understand the work that they were doing and why they were doing it (as is usually done), only almost universally the Trump administration initially sent no one to listen or review, and then eventually sent a random person who was universally some mix of: (1) wildly underqualified; (2) wildly understaffed; (3) corrupt; and/or (4) a ideological hack. So it's about all the unknown risks that the country and all of us may face in the future due to having those kinds of people in charge of critical, misunderstood government programs.

So, pretty cheery. But it's a great and (as always for Lewis) very well written book. And not too long (~221 pages) so doesn't take too long to get through.

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Ralph-Wiggum
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Ralph-Wiggum » Thu Mar 07, 2019 3:13 pm

I've finished a couple of books since my last update:

1) Never Let Me Go - Kazou Ishiguro: A women recalling her time as a kid and young adult and her relationships with two particular friends. She knows that all the kids at her school are special, but the how/why isn't clear until later in the book (although it's hinted at throughout). And when you figure it out, it's pretty dark. Despite the bleakness of it, I enjoyed the book. 6/8 Binkies.

2) The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake - Aimee Bender: Another story about a woman recalling her childhood and young adult. She realizes early on that she can taste the emotions/history of whoever made her food and learns things she didn't want to know (about her mother in particular). Her brother also has some weird things going on. Quick and easy to read and very entertaining. 7/8 Binkies.

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hitbyambulance
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by hitbyambulance » Thu Mar 07, 2019 11:27 pm

Ralph-Wiggum wrote:
Thu Mar 07, 2019 3:13 pm
1) Never Let Me Go - Kazou Ishiguro: A women recalling her time as a kid and young adult and her relationships with two particular friends. She knows that all the kids at her school are special, but the how/why isn't clear until later in the book (although it's hinted at throughout). And when you figure it out, it's pretty dark. Despite the bleakness of it, I enjoyed the book. 6/8 Binkies.
a *very slow-burn horror/SF story - agonizingly so. i felt icky the whole time i read this book and it was a real struggle to finish this due to the subject matter, but i persevered. it was very well written - the dialogue was spot-on, and the ethical questions posed are something we as a society better fall on the right side of. is there yet a Black Mirror episode with this book's plot line?

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Ralph-Wiggum
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Ralph-Wiggum » Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:51 pm

hitbyambulance wrote:
Thu Mar 07, 2019 11:27 pm
Ralph-Wiggum wrote:
Thu Mar 07, 2019 3:13 pm
1) Never Let Me Go - Kazou Ishiguro: A women recalling her time as a kid and young adult and her relationships with two particular friends. She knows that all the kids at her school are special, but the how/why isn't clear until later in the book (although it's hinted at throughout). And when you figure it out, it's pretty dark. Despite the bleakness of it, I enjoyed the book. 6/8 Binkies.
a *very slow-burn horror/SF story - agonizingly so. i felt icky the whole time i read this book and it was a real struggle to finish this due to the subject matter, but i persevered. it was very well written - the dialogue was spot-on, and the ethical questions posed are something we as a society better fall on the right side of. is there yet a Black Mirror episode with this book's plot line?
Seems like it would be a perfect fit.

Another book I finished recently was:

Future Home of a Living God - Louise Erdrich: Another story about a young woman in a dystopian world. It almost reads like a prelude to A Handmaid's Tale; weird things are happening (described once as evolution going backwards) that cause pregnant women to be rounded up. It was a pretty entertaining read. 7/8 Binkies.

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em2nought
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by em2nought » Fri Mar 08, 2019 4:12 pm

Kinda off topic: The Kindle Paperwhite works excellent for an aging parent with deteriorating vision. My mother has finished three books in two weeks after hardly reading for a few years. She's very very low tech so she can turn pages, but I handle navigating the menu for her to get her ready to read. Every once in awhile she accidentally makes the text too small or something, but I can usually rectify it the very same day for her because I visit almost daily. If they could make it so it was accessible by a family member over the internet to do that sort of thing it could be absolutely perfect for old timers.
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by hitbyambulance » Fri Mar 08, 2019 9:50 pm

em2nought wrote:
Fri Mar 08, 2019 4:12 pm
Kinda off topic: The Kindle Paperwhite works excellent for an aging parent with deteriorating vision. My mother has finished three books in two weeks after hardly reading for a few years. She's very very low tech so she can turn pages, but I handle navigating the menu for her to get her ready to read. Every once in awhile she accidentally makes the text too small or something, but I can usually rectify it the very same day for her because I visit almost daily. If they could make it so it was accessible by a family member over the internet to do that sort of thing it could be absolutely perfect for old timers.
it's not an e-ink reader, but i have a strong belief that the Kindle Fire could be configured to do just that. interesting thought...

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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Lassr » Mon Mar 11, 2019 3:29 pm

Just gave up on Micro by Michael Crichton and Douglas Preston. Got about a third of the way through it and just had no interest in finishing. Not sure how much of it Crichton wrote before he died but it feels like he wrore on it and didn't finish it because he knew it sucked but after his death the estate wanted to cash in and had Preston finish it. Just too much stupid per page.

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El Guapo
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by El Guapo » Wed Mar 20, 2019 10:02 am

The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science (James H. Silberman Books), by Norman Doidge

This is a book about brain plasticity - the basic idea that neuronal pathways in the brain regularly change over the course of our lives in response to the activities we engage in as well as injuries and the like. The basic concept is that "neurons that fire together wire together" - that activities, experiences, feelings, etc. done at the same time or that evoke similar responses forge neural pathways that cause those neurons to fire easily together in the future, building associations. This has all sorts of implications for mental therapy (building processes that slowly disassociate two things can help treat phobias) and physical therapy (patients who lose functionality due to damage to the brain from a stroke or the like can, through physical therapy, get other healthy parts of the brain to assume at least part of that functionality over time).

Pretty interesting stuff. The book drags a bit at times, depending in part on the subject, but a worthwhile read overall.

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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by ImLawBoy » Wed Apr 03, 2019 11:14 am

Finished Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Book 1 of the Dark Star Trilogy, by Marlon James. Wow. I wasn't really sure what to expect from what was described as "African Game of Thrones", but what I got was pretty amazing. The book is the first person narration of "Tracker" (he doesn't remember his real name), who is in a prison cell giving his story to a confessor before his execution. Tracker "has a nose" as they say, where he can track people down from hundreds of miles away if he gets their scent. He mostly uses this skill to find missing family members (who are usually intentionally missing so that they can have a tryst). He eventually gets hired to work with a group of people to find a missing boy, but they know very few details. Thus follows a lengthy, bloody, supernatural, and sex-filled epic journey to find the boy.

While I can see the Game of Thrones (or A Song of Ice and Fire, if you want to get pedantic about it) comparison, it both oversells and undersells this book. The story does reveal itself to have an epic scope in the political vein of GoT, but it's really a personal story told in an epic backdrop (while I might consider GoT an epic story told with personal elements). At one point I really got more of a Raymond Chandler/Phillip Marlowe vibe from the books. Much like Marlowe, Tracker is a bit of an asshole who really works well alone and has a tendency to alienate those who try to get close to him. Plus, some of the sleuthing he was doing definitely gave me a private eye vibe. Of course, Marlowe never had to deal with shape shifters, lightening vampires, and witches.

The book took a little effort to get into. The prose is unconventional, and the story unfolds with flashbacks within flashbacks. It was definitely worth it, though, and I'm already looking forward to the next book.

It's not out yet, though, so up next is Machine City by Scott J. Holliday. This is the second book in the Detective Barnes series (I wrote about the first book here.
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Kasey Chang
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Kasey Chang » Thu Apr 04, 2019 2:07 am

Been reading plenty of books but nothing really worth reporting, except maybe 2.

Helldrivers (1): world was nuked and the few survivors are up in airships that stay float forever and they have to periodically send "helldivers" to run to the surface to salvage food and equipment. But average life expectancy of a helldiver is merely 5 missions. Some don't even reach the ground. And it seems there are mutated creatures below that can survive in the radiation... One ship needs some new atomic batteries to stay afloat, and the veteran team it sent down before... Only one survived. Now they have to go rescue a sister ship...caught on the edge of a huge storm, even as the team have to fight an internal uprising, and the divers have to fight a new threat on the surface...

Exciting. If you like horror/post-apoc kinda like the Metro series, but with a different lean, read this. 7/8 tentacles.
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MonkeyFinger
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by MonkeyFinger » Thu Apr 04, 2019 8:58 am

I've listened to all four (so far) Hell Divers books and enjoyed them. ps. It isn't until late in the series that they explain how the world got so f'd up. :D
-mf

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Kasey Chang
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Kasey Chang » Thu Apr 04, 2019 9:33 am

em2nought wrote:
Fri Mar 08, 2019 4:12 pm
Kinda off topic: The Kindle Paperwhite works excellent for an aging parent with deteriorating vision. My mother has finished three books in two weeks after hardly reading for a few years. She's very very low tech so she can turn pages, but I handle navigating the menu for her to get her ready to read. Every once in awhile she accidentally makes the text too small or something, but I can usually rectify it the very same day for her because I visit almost daily. If they could make it so it was accessible by a family member over the internet to do that sort of thing it could be absolutely perfect for old timers.
Not with a paperwhite, but if you sideload the Google Playstore on something like Fire HD10 or HD8 you can install something like TeamViewer to remote control it. heck, engage text to speech and let the tablet read the book to her. :)
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Re: Books Read 2019

Post by Kasey Chang » Fri Apr 12, 2019 4:32 am

Finished "The Swordsmen (or Fifty Shades of Gray Matter) by Dick Wybrow"

Satirical take on the post-apoc world.

Hal was a pretty ordinary meek guy, until a not-quite-zombie-apocalypse, and his girlfriend (who just turned) turned him as well by giving him a farewell blowjob (which lead to her head being bashed in). Desperate to kill himself, but not finding any weapons he can use on himself, he tried to raid a (already looted) pharmacy... and after multiple attempts, found some stash of pills and took many of them... and somehow, his mind cleared... Only to realize he had taken ED drugs, which somehow kept the zombie virus at bay, not to mention a few unique abilities. He decided to use the powers for good, by finding the group behind the virus' spread...

If you like your post-apoc story with a lot of risque references, groan-worthy puns, and biting satire, this is your book.
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