January 2019 Reading Thread

williamjm

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#41
@soulsinging
It‘s probably one of my slower days: What is MS&T?
Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn fantasy trilogy.

The Player of Games was my first Culture book and I was hooked. I haven’t been reading in any particular order, but just followed The Use of Weapons with Surface Detail. That was a lucky coincidence...
I think that's just about the only example where it's going to really make a difference, and even then it's only important for one of the subplots.
 

Brian G Turner

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#43
Finished reading The Traveller by John Twelve Hawks. For the most part it was interesting, but a couple of times I felt there wasn't much of a story, just lots of chasing around, and wondered how Hawks would manage to fit in a finale by the end. When it came it depended more on convenience than plotting and was a bit disappointing. However, there were a couple of really good science fiction and fantasy elements which remain intriguing, and the story remained easy to read and get into. Overall, more good than bad, and I'm interested enough to pick up the second book.
 

Brian G Turner

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#44
Finished Britain Begins by Barry Cunliffe - an interesting tour of British history from the Mesolithic to the Norman Invasion. It was particularly interesting for its argument that Celtic peoples originated in Spain and moved north along a long-established Atlantic Trading Route, which covers Western France, Wales, Ireland, the Isle of Man, and Western Scotland. However, this appears dependent on an assumption about mutation rates in genetics, suggesting that further genetics data could yet outright prove or disprove this idea.

One big caveat about the book, though, is that Cunliffe includes a lot of speculation as fact and includes no references in the text - for example, he mentions in passing that the Battle of Mons Grapius was fought near Inverness, when most others put it nearer Aberdeen, but doesn't explain why he makes that statement. He makes the curious claim that Britain effectively invented tin bronze-working around 2200BC, even though the Near East and Mediterranean were supposedly using it for the previous 1,000-1,500 years.

All in all, a very interesting overview of ancient Britain, but the lack of direct references is frustrating, as is the inclusion of personal speculation without clearly marking it as such.


In the meantime, picked up Michael Caine's autobiography What's It All About for 99p today - opened it up, and am already engrossed. :)
 

williamjm

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#45
I finished Adrian Tchaikovsky's Dogs of War, which I thought was very good. It did cover a lot of ground and packed in more plot developments and ideas than I'd initially been expecting, there are times when I'd have been happy to read a bit more detail about some of the events but at the same time the pacing does give the book a real sense of momentum. For a dog genetically engineered to be a hybrid killing machine Rex is a likeable protagonist and gets some good character development. Tchaikovsky also manages to give the other characters personality, even if the character in question might be a swarm of bees. There are plenty of books in which new scientific breakthroughs lead to unexpected consequences, I liked that this one pointed out that while there can certainly be bad or even horrific consequences there can be good things happening as well.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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#46
I'm reading Krabat and the Sorcerer's Mill, by Otfried Preussler, translated from the German by Anthea Bell. This children's classic is based on Eastern European folk and fairy tales about the titular character Krabat. The story is structured around the seasons and the holidays of the year, and is also a coming-of-age story. Though I'm not one to look for messages in stories, I think there are several in this one, both those that were probably on the author's mind when it was written, and those that are relevant now.
 

Parson

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#47
I have a paperback book entitled Nightingale by Kristin Hannah which is well reviewed, but so far I can't make myself start a large paperback. The thought of lugging it around and another story with female leads is holding me back. In the interim I've picked up a Kindle Unlimited S.F. entitled Earth Warden by Tony James Slater. So far, pretty good.
 

Paul_C

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#48
I'm afraid I got really annoyed with The Quantum Magician last night, too many skimmed over bits plus a couple of things that didn't make sense but yet helped the story.

So I put it aside and started Finch by Jeff Vandermeer instead.
 

The Big Peat

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#49
Reading something by Leigh Bardugo. So good I've forgotten the name. Yup. Actually I was upset when I had to get off the train and stop reading to be fair.
 

soulsinging

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#51
Reading something by Leigh Bardugo. So good I've forgotten the name. Yup. Actually I was upset when I had to get off the train and stop reading to be fair.
I just finished the Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom duology and it is somewhat cheesy and predictable, but still maintains a certain charm and momentum. Seems ideal for reading on a commute.
 

Hugh

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#52
Several books read while knocked out for a few days by some spluttering lurgy:

Robert Greenfield: The Life and Times of Owsley Stanley III. Some interesting background detail (but not a lot) on the well-known former chemist.

Alexei Sayle: Stalin Ate My Homework. If you have any acquaintance at all with left wing (marxist) groups in the 1960s/70s UK, this is very funny, (and probably still funny if you don't).

Paul Theroux: The Kingdom by the Sea. Unbelievably tedious. In 1982 Theroux took three months to travel round the coastline of the UK, walking and taking plenty of buses and trains. Background of the Falklands War, and a train strike. It gets more interesting when he's in N .Ireland and Scotland, but for me there's little more than scratching the surface in his many interactions. Compared with "Deep South" re his time in the Southern USA very disappointing.

Poul Anderson: The High Crusade. A truly fun space romp, as in 1345 Sir Roger de Tournville's troops are surprised by an alien spacecraft. Many thanks for the long ago recommendation @BAYLOR.
 
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Bick

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#53
I just read Santiago: A Myth of the Far Future, by Mike Resnick. I always enjoy Resnick’s work and this was no exception. It’s not exactly Chekhov but he paces well and writes engaging characters and plots and they’re invariably in the thriller camp of SF. This is also basically a western, and his SF bounty hunters are far future gunslingers effectively. One thing that will annoy some is that he misuses ‘decimated’ four times, which is something that offends many on here I know. If you can get past that and fancy a fun SF romp, it’s not a bad book to try.

I’m now starting another Agatha Christie - Murder on the Links. I expect it will be like all the other Christie’s I have read, i.e., formulaic, very clever, and great fun. This is my second holiday read while I’m camping.
 

Bick

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#54
Poul Anderson: The High Crusade. A truly fun space romp, as in 1345 Sir Roger de Tournville's troops are surprised by an alien spacecraft. Many thanks for the long ago recommendation @BAYLOR.
Yes, terrific book!
 

Teresa Edgerton

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#56
The Tethered Mage, by Melissa Caruso. First book in a high fantasy trilogy. Lots of intrigue, lots of magic, interesting characters. An Empire modeled on Renaissance Venice. On the face of it, it sounds a lot like Toby's book, although plot and characters are entirely different, as well as the magic. Also not as dark. But anyone who likes his book might enjoy this one, and, of course, vice versa.
 

Foxbat

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#57
Finished A Clash Of Kings, quickly followed by a book on the history of the Alamo and now reading Stephen Hawkings' Brief Answers To The Big Questions.
 

RJM Corbet

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#58
Has anyone read this? The amount of research is gobsmacking, the wryly humorous writing style even dealing with some pretty heavy stuff makes it look easy to turn everyday history into a world bestseller, and there is just so much information in the book. Not all of it pleasant. He's a very clever guy, imo
20190108_104201.jpg
 

HareBrain

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#60
I saw you post a rating on twitter - what did you think of it?
I liked it. it was refreshingly short, but pretty well packed -- I almost can't believe he'd managed to fit a whole twisty story into 150 pages. There was more ordinary detective work than tradecraft, which knocked a star off, but I'd recommend it. And this might be a personal thing, But I really appreciated how Smiley/le Carre occasionally went through everything they knew so far -- for me, this kept the confusion at bay, but wasn't done so often as to be repetitive. I have A Murder of Quality lined up next.
 
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