What books are you currently reading?


Books

9,551 to 9,600 of 9,735 << first < prev | 185 | 186 | 187 | 188 | 189 | 190 | 191 | 192 | 193 | 194 | 195 | next > last >>

1 person marked this as a favorite.
ShinHakkaider wrote:

I just started THE WAY OF KINGS by BRANDON SANDERSON and I'm already bored and getting WHEEL OF TIME vibes from this and not the early on in the series good vibes.

It only cost me one Audible credit but I'm on chapter 9 of what might be a 76 chapter slog. I hope this gets better because I have a tendency to want to see things through till the end...

Funny you should mention The Wheel of Time, for a couple of reasons: 1) Sanderson wrote the last three WoT books after Jordan passed away before he could complete the series. 2) The Way of Kings is the first in a planned decalogy (10-book series) from Sanderson himself. My advice if you're not in for the long haul is, get out now while you still can! I had to wait 27 years from start to finish (four years after publication, long story) for the end of the Wheel of Time, so I feel your pain. Good luck!


I am listening to "Alien" edited by Robert Silverberg. It is a compilation of is 6 stories about alien perspectives. the fifth story rs my favorite.


Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff.

I'm enjoying it thus far.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I recently finished The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo.

It was superb. It's a collection of fairy tales. They're set in the author's own fantasy world, but they read convincingly like classic Grimm, while offering some unexpected and thrilling twists.

The illustrations are equally excellent, and unusually intricate. Each story starts with a small illustration somewhere in one margin. On the next page, some new illustration is added to the existing one. Then another, and another -- with every page, the marginal illustrations grow larger and more elaborate, until on the final page of the story they form a full border all the way around the text.

If that is not enough to convince you to rush out and pounce on the first copy you see, I leave you with this snippet from the copyright page:

"In fairy tales, clever thieves are rewarded for their ingenuity, but purloin this book and be hounded forever by a gingerbread golem who will hide your keys and spoil all your dinner parties by talking about the boring dream she had last night."

That's practically worth the price of admission right there! The rest is just icing.

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Provenance, by Ann Leckie—set in the Imperial Radch universe, but in another human society with three genders. Great world-building, lots of heist and intrigue elements, and numerous queer characters!

Kingfisher by Patricia McKillip, an urban fantasy blend of the Mabinogion and Parzival—the setting has a lot of PNW flavor, and there's so much talk about good food!

Also reread Patricia McKillip's Riddle Master Trilogy, with much paging back and forth this time to cross-check revelations, which made it much more satisfying.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Tinalles wrote:

I recently finished The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo.

It was superb. It's a collection of fairy tales. They're set in the author's own fantasy world, but they read convincingly like classic Grimm, while offering some unexpected and thrilling twists.

The illustrations are equally excellent, and unusually intricate. Each story starts with a small illustration somewhere in one margin. On the next page, some new illustration is added to the existing one. Then another, and another -- with every page, the marginal illustrations grow larger and more elaborate, until on the final page of the story they form a full border all the way around the text.

If that is not enough to convince you to rush out and pounce on the first copy you see, I leave you with this snippet from the copyright page:

"In fairy tales, clever thieves are rewarded for their ingenuity, but purloin this book and be hounded forever by a gingerbread golem who will hide your keys and spoil all your dinner parties by talking about the boring dream she had last night."

That's practically worth the price of admission right there! The rest is just icing.

I really liked her Six of Crows series, even if it did give me way too many waffle cravings. I'm definitely going to check this out, and her other stuff too.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Most recently, 'Revolutionary Yiddishland: A History of Jewish Radicalism' by Alain Brossat and Sylvia Klingberg, which is recommended, and Edgar Rice Burroughs' 'Tarzan Of The Apes', which was OK, if not on a par with the Barsoom books.


I got Volo's Guide to Monsters and Xanathar's Guide to Everything for Christmas, and recently finished reading them. I'm currently reading the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, because my library just acquired it.

My library also got in Vol. 6 & 7 of Ms. Marvel, so I'm caught up on that now. I checked out the earlier volumes again, too, because I've been meaning to introduce my 13-year-old daughter to the series. She's on Vol. 3 now, and absolutely LOVES Kamala!

I've also recently read Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer Abroad and Rudyard Kipling's Captains Courageous for the first time.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

SCAG from the library is probably the best way to go. I found it had way too much fluff, if only because so much of the fluff seemed very repetitive. The crunch is OK, but very brief. It skipped a couple classes, like bard, druid, and ranger, which is really weird, because Harpers. :-P


The Warrior's Apprentice, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Young Lord Miles Vorkosigan, the son of the former Regent of Barrayar has washed out of the Imperial Military Academy, because of physical disabilities. While a fetus, his parents were exposed to poison gas during the Barrayaran Civil War. The antidote has left his bones as brittle as chalk and has stunted his growth.

In a fit of depression, Miles, Elena Bothari, the daughter of his bodyguard, Sergeant Bothari, and the Sergeant go to Beta Colony to visit his maternal Grandmother. While there, Miles gets into one misadventure after another. He takes on a jump pilot and his obsolete freighter, and a Barrayaran Military deserter as sworn Armsmen.

Taking the freighter and a secret cargo, they go to Tau Verde and become involved in a war between two nations, Felice and Pelia. While attempting to run a blockade, the five of them manage to capture a mercenary warship run by mercenaries. Encounter after encounter leads Miles to be in charge of the entire Mercenary fleet. Unfortunately, a Barrayaran noble raising a private army is treason. Miles, Elena, and Ivan Vorpatril, Miles' cousin, make their way back to Barrayar in time to prevent a treasonous plot against the young Emperor, Gregor Vorbarra. In order to avoid execution, Miles convinces Gregor to take the mercenaries as a Crown Troop, to be run by ImpSec. Miles enters the Military Academy by the Emperor's command.

The Exchange

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Finished "The Price Of Valor" (The Shadow Campaigns #3 by Django Wexler) and started on Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan - hoping to finish this one quickly in preparation for the Netflix show.

The Price Of Valor thoughts:

Another rock solid entry to an already fun series. There's a good mix of military action, intrigue and character development. Magic finally takes a place at the front, which creates a feeling of escalation in the overall story, even though in terms of plot not much advanced since the previous books. The people we came to care about previously continue to do their thing in a reliable and enjoyable fashion, and Janus in particular continues to be the single greatest thing about the series.

I have started to form an opinion that the Shadow Campaigns is a perfect example of how the basic techniques of writing a fantasy story should be employed - everything is done with polished competence that makes the story tick along and work well, even if nothing about it is particularly great. This is just very good, very balanced story crafting. For example - many of the characters in these book are incredibly good at what they do - a teenager who has complete mastery in the arts of trade and can earn obscene amounts of money from thin air, a spy/secret agent who makes Bond look like a total wossy, a military leader who can come up with innovative and adaptive tactics easily, a queen with a keen political mind and a pure heart... and then there's Janus, of course, who basically is capable of anything. Compatent characters are likable and it is fun to watch them succeed, but characters who feel too great at everything are boring and annoying, and Django manages to hit the exact sweet stuff where this still works. I can clearly see what he's doing, but I'm also enjoying it a lot.

I do feel the series improved significantly since the first book, be it with some truly adrenaline fueled skirmishes, overall pacing and sense of humor. I'm looking forward to picking up the next book in a month or two.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Just finished The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.

Just started City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I just finished "The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Home Runs." No, he never really hit 104 in a year, but the book gives a fascinating look into the day-to-day life of a 1920s ballplayer, and dispels a number of myths about Babe Ruth.

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

Rosgakori wrote:
Strange Shores by Arnaldur Indriðason.

Based on your recommendation, I borrowed several of his books from the library, got this one first, and forgot to check where it was in the series—last.

Spoiler:
Wow, talk about full-circle endings! Best read next to a fire, burrowed under a blanket.

Back-tracking to The Draining Lake now, with Hypothermia following on its heels.


SmiloDan wrote:
SCAG from the library is probably the best way to go. I found it had way too much fluff, if only because so much of the fluff seemed very repetitive. The crunch is OK, but very brief.

This is exactly why I went the library route with SCAG. I don't play in the Realms, so the fluff wasn't going to be any use to me, making the price was too high for the brief bits of crunch. (Even some of the crunch is repetitive--about half the backgrounds are pretty much just variants of PHB backgrounds.)

I'm currently reading Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana (for Fantasy AGE; also from the library) and rereading The Scarlet Letter for the first time since I was an undergrad English minor.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Tim Emrick wrote:
SmiloDan wrote:
SCAG from the library is probably the best way to go. I found it had way too much fluff, if only because so much of the fluff seemed very repetitive. The crunch is OK, but very brief.

This is exactly why I went the library route with SCAG. I don't play in the Realms, so the fluff wasn't going to be any use to me, making the price was too high for the brief bits of crunch. (Even some of the crunch is repetitive--about half the backgrounds are pretty much just variants of PHB backgrounds.)

I'm currently reading Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana (for Fantasy AGE; also from the library) and rereading The Scarlet Letter for the first time since I was an undergrad English minor.

There were SO MANY Dwarven communities with THE BIGGEST ROCK EVARRRRRRRRR!!!!!!! ***snore***

Dark Archive

Judy Bauer wrote:

Kingfisher by Patricia McKillip, an urban fantasy blend of the Mabinogion and Parzival—the setting has a lot of PNW flavor, and there's so much talk about good food!

Also reread Patricia McKillip's Riddle Master Trilogy, with much paging back and forth this time to cross-check revelations, which made it much more satisfying.

I recently reread that series as well, and it was not to my liking.

On the other hand, her The Forgotten Beasts of Eld I've probably read four or five times over the last forty years. It's a fun read, and even inspired me to stat up one of the 'beasts' for Pathfinder. The cat Moriah has also been inspiration for an in-game NPC, a familiar that had outlived multiple 'masters' and something of a repository of occult knowledge (even if it was not itself a spellcaster).


'Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson' by Lucy Hutchinson (his widow), which really impresses on you quite how parochial the English Civil War was, and 'Lord Teldric' by E.E. Doc Smith, which I actually quite enjoyed. I don't normally like his stuff.


Lately have been reading many articles but few books. I'm about to take my first long vacation in many years, and hoping to get some longer reading in then, but in the meantime:

Digging Ditches in Early Medieval Europe
(discusses earthworks such as the Danevirke, Offa's Dike, Fossa Carolina/Karlsgraben, etc.; the argument is that they were primarily monumental in purpose, with military or economic goals secondary at best. Part of his argument is that structures such as Offa's Dike were not defensible, but it would be stronger if he considered low-intensity warfare. As it stands the defensive analysis only considers trying to hold these structures against large-scale invasions, which is obviously impractical as the earthworks were too long to be manned thickly by the small armies available to early medieval states. But a ditch and dike that is not significant in the face of a major invasion can still be perfectly serviceable with a watchman every now and again looking for small parties, or even unmanned can still deter raiders who might be able to climb an unguarded stretch themselves but can't easily get stolen cattle and the like back across.

I'm not unconvinced by the core argument that these structures played a monumental role, but the failure to consider (endemic) small-scale border action vs (rarer) major invasions leaves the military analysis less convincing.)

Signals Versus Illumination on Roman Frontiers
(discusses Roman border installations, and depictions of such on Trajan's Column complete with crowning torches, as possible warning (beacon) sites, or simply provisions for illumination without the intention to send a signal, or other possibilities. Summary of evidence that is agnostic about the correct answer (if there is only one), except that the author rightly dismissses the idea of long-range relay lines of beacons for communication in favor of short-range signals transmitted from particular beacons directly to the intended viewers. No Peter Jackson scenes here.)

The Mamluks in the Military of the Pre-Seljuq Persianate Dynasties
(Trying to improve my understanding of Islamic military slavery, which has long been a weak link in my reading about ancient and medieval slavery. The thrust of the article is that military slavery wasn't all that effective a system, and particularly that dynasties with the luxury of choice strongly preferred freeborn soldiers, but I'm too new to this field to be a very critical reader.

FWIW, my uneducated speculation as I enter this field of study is about whether slavery and subsequent manumission was a tool for shoehorning kinship-based Arabic military organization into an imperial scale. I am prepared for this speculation to be shown groundless as I read, but I'm enjoying it for now.)

The Andrapodizing of War Captives in Greek Historical Memory
(More ancient-slavery reading. A while back I recall saying that finding a well into which people dumped hundreds of babies wasn't all that dark by the relative standards of classical history. This article - a discussion of the meaning of ἀνδραποδίζω and related words, traditionally but perhaps euphemistically translated as "enslave" - is on the darker side.)


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Had a road-to-Damascus type conversion during my vacation in New York/Philadelphia last week.

First we went to hand out bilingual leaflets to Teamsters at NY's largest grocery distribution center in the Bronx. They were about to go on strike, but came to a tentative agreement at 6 am the next morning.

Not that we knew at the time, because we were up at 3 the next morning to be in Philadelphia at 8 to pack the courthouse on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal. That turned out to be anticlimatic because the court hearing had been postponed, but we still had a nice little demo in front of the courthouse before decamping to Reading Market for lunch. Nice place, that.

The next day I attended a reading circle. We discussed the first chapter of Daniel Guerin's 100 Years of American Labor and it was awesome. Everyone was really smart and knew what they were talking about which was a refreshing change from the organization I used to be in. One young woman even asked a question that, two or three days later, led me to understand how we've been doing trade union work wrong for the last five years.

Anyway, something happened while I was down there, and since I have gotten back, I have been so excited and full of self-confidence, it's like a total sea change. I don't think I ever realized how much Socialist Alternative's social democratic nonsense was holding me back.

I regaled the poor denizens of the secret Red Dice Facebook page about how I've been "Reaganing it" (see episode of 30 Rock) since I got back and I won't repeat myself, but one example:

Some of you may remember that we held an In Honor of Ona Judge, a Red Anti-President's Day Black History Month event last year. This year, we decided to do it again, but this time we decided to center it around Toussaint L'Ouverture and the Haitian Revolution (and we decided to do it before recent comments by someone in the White House about certain countries, so that was a pretty fortuitous decision on our part). We learned that Ona Judge's biographer was speaking at a small Catholic college in Manchester, so we went to distribute flyers for our event. During the question and answer period, I took the mic (we call it an "intervention" in the commie biz) to talk politics and promote our event. Ona's biographer almost fell off her seat, she was so delighted. We riffed back and forth, for example, on the similarities between fugitive slaves and undocumented workers today, and it turned into half intervention/half flirting ("Well, I sent you a Facebook friend request earlier today..."). Afterwards, we got our picture taken with signs that we displayed at the Woman's March in Portsmouth. It was awesome.

Erica Armstrong Dunbar and the Class Struggle Education League

Anyway, I bought a copy of her book, Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge and she inscribed it thusly: "To [Doodlebug], Find strength in Ona's courage! My best, Erica." (Unfortunately, she didn't include her phone number.)

Vive le Galt!!!


Once again, I'm reading a 19th-century British novel to which my previous exposure had been primarily adaptation. In this case, I read a comic-book version, and saw a few minutes of a few of the movie versions here and there. Now I'm reading the original Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

And like some other classics, Wuthering Heights had some surprises for which the adaptation hadn't prepared me. The first 17 chapters knocked my socks off! When I read the comic, the whole story seemed to boil down to one simple point: Heathcliff was the bad guy. When he came, he ruined everyone's life. At the end of the book...

Wuthering Heights:
...when he died, the survivors were able to patch up their lives again.
But when I started reading the novel, it didn't seem quite that simple. Hindley seemed a far worse villain than Heathcliff! He beat and mistreated Heathcliff terribly. I'm not saying Heathcliff was justified in dedicating his life to revenge, but Hindley's abuse made me sympathize with Heathcliff. And heck, Heathcliff's revenge seemed to eat HIM up almost as much as it did his enemies!

And sometimes, those characters had a passionate rage that exploded into vicious, nasty violence! Somehow, the comic just didn't convey the intensity of it all. You'd think that the medium of comic books - well-known for its abundance of crash-bang-boom slugfests - would convey the fights better. But the novel made them exciting.

Take, for instance...

Wuthering Heights:
...the beginning of Chapter 9. Hindley came home mean drunk, and dropped Hareton (who might have been - what? - two years old, or something?) from the landing. Heathcliff, not seeing from his angle what had caused Hareton's fall, caught the child by instinct. A second later, Heathcliff realized that Hindley was responsible; if only Heathcliff had known that earlier, he could have had his revenge simply by standing by and doing nothing!
I almost leaped out of my seat when I read that! The comic book didn't even HINT at that scene!

Or for another example, take...

Wuthering Heights:
...that scene in Chapter 11. Edgar Linton was pale and trembling. Heathcliff, with his great physical prowess (and probably military training) could obviously have beaten Edgar with his pinky. But Heathcliff did nothing. And what did Edgar - the good guy; the perfect, civilized gentleman - do?

He sucker-punched him! He struck him on the throat!

Damn! I mean... Damn! That WAS in the comic book, but somehow, it didn't prepare me for the novel!

Another fascinating aspect of the book was pointed out in the... preface? introduction? ...of the Penguin Classics edition. I don't have the book with me at the moment, so I'm not sure which. But it said something about how the book presented the setting in isolation. It's like the world outside of Wuthering Heights, Thrushcross Grange, and the moors didn't exist, making the setting a kind of microcosm. For instance, Hindley left the setting and came back with a wife, Frances. Who was this Frances? Did she have any family, or friends, or any life prior to her arrival at the Heights? We never hear about any of that. And what did other people do when they left the setting? As I mentioned earlier, Heathcliff MIGHT have joined the army, but we never find out for sure.

(You know, I used to dream of writing a novel one day. I made several attempts at it, sometimes even finishing a rough draft, but I was never happy with the result. I think one contributing reason is that I'm not a people person, and a novel is typically about people. The tremendous population of a society often overwhelms me. I just don't care enough about people to deal with that many. Maybe Wuthering Heights could provide me with a solution: write about a small, isolated society. It's just a thought.)

But the book took a major turn for the worse in Chapter 18, when the story slowed to a crawl.

Wuthering Heights:
Cathy was forbidden to see Linton Heathcliff. She sneaked out and visited him anyway. She got caught, and was forbidden to see him again. She sneaked out and visited him anyway. And that pattern is repeated again, and again, and again.
I tired of the book, put it away for three months, picked it up again (by downloading the book from Project Gutenberg), read a few more chapters, and put it down again for five months. It was boring me.

Well, there was one mildly interesting surprise.

Wuthering Heights:
In Chapter 21, Nellie showed that even SHE wasn't above violence, when she struggled physically for the letter.
But it wasn't enough to keep me reading.

But recently, I picked it up once more, determined to finish it. And the action - and the plot - finally picked up again in Chapter 27... but in a way that ruined a character with whom I had previously sympathized!

Wuthering Heights:
When Heathcliff locked the others in, Cathy fought him tooth and nail - literally! - for the key. Heathcliff seemed to relent, but then he seized her and beat her upside her head! Nellie then rushed him in fury and Heathcliff had to take her down as well. And why did Heathcliff do this? To force Cathy to marry Linton Heathcliff! Well, that picked up the action and the plot, as I said, but it also made me lose all sympathy for Heathcliff. Here I thought that Heathcliff would be a bit more subtle than that, and just try to MANIPULATE the children into marrying. I must return to my view that Heathcliff is just the villain, plain and simple.
What a disappointment! But at least the book got interesting again, to the point where I can finish it.

I hope to finish it today. Theoretically, the ending might change my mind and give me a more positive view of the book, but I strongly doubt it. I would have liked the book a lot more had Bronte written only the first 17 chapters, and then thrown in a brief epilogue that summed up the rest of...

Wuthering Heights:
...Heathcliff's life, just saying that he writhed in agony, mourning for Catherine for the rest of his miserable existence...
...if the author couldn't think of anything better. I heard that some of the movies leave out the second half of the book, and I can understand why.


I just finished a single-subject history about refrigeration called Chilled by Tom Jackson. It's kind of scattershot in how it covers its component pieces, but it definitely reminds you how important something that you usually take for granted can be.

The Exchange

Just finished The Cordova Vector and Cordova Incursion by C. Steven Manley. The series is a sci-fi romp in the vein of Firefly, and thoroughly enjoyable. Brace Cordova and his crew manage to find trouble at every turn, and somehow manage to scrape by with their grit and their wit. The books really got me in the mood to try some Starfinder - which is saying something because I've been slow to embrace the new ruleset.


Read 'Lord Of The Trees' by Philip Jose Farmer at the weekend, which was basically '70s cheezy Tarzan with extra machineguns and grenade battles at Stonehenge.

Am going to start reading 'The Book of Mormon' today.


Re-reading Poul Anderson's Operation Luna, which aside from some great stuff about mountain dwarf magic item crafting, really doesn't have much to support its bloated page count. It makes me want to ransack the closet for Anderson's much earlier and leaner Operation Chaos, which packed in 10x as many ideas in half the page count.

The Exchange

Once again my hectic lifestyle has kept me from my regular and detailed reporting of my recent reading exploits. Once again, then, here is an abridged version of the past couple of months.

I finished reading ALTERED CARBON (Takashi Kovacs #1 by Richard K. Morgan), which I enjoyed as a thriller in real time but found my mind wandering to themes and ideas in it over and over in the weeks since. This is one of those rare books that gets better the more I think about it, and that I appreciate more and more as time passes and I find that certain aspects of it just won't leave me in peace. This means that I very likely would pick up the next in the series at some point, even though my original plan was to treat the book as a standalone (which is entirely possible). I only had time to catch the first episode of the Netflix show, but it seems rather good - even though it completely reshuffled a ton of plot elements in the book into something new and different, it still seems to mostly adhere to the spirit of things. I dislike the attempt to copycat some of the less nuanced aspects of the Game Of Thrones show with the excess nudity though.

Understanding I need a change of pace with something lighter in tone, I hopped next to my yearly Pratchett read with Maskerade, a Phantom of the Operah parody set in Discworld and featuring the Witches of Lancre. I have to admit that, especially after the strength of Witches Abroad, this nook felt like on of the weaker Discworld entries. I certainly ran the gamut of embarrassing myself in public transportation with grins, giggles and even outright and loud laughter, of course. And the core mystery was a good one, even though I was able to mostly figure it out by the halfway point of the book. But somehow the characters weren't quite as sharp as usual, nothing truly surprising happened and the subject matter of Opera is a bit dry, at least for me. Still a very solid read that I thoroughly enjoyed and a book that I breezed through in a short few days without barely noticing that I did.

Finally, I finished listening to "The Last Mortal Bond" (Unhewn Throne #3 by Brian Stavely) thus concluding a trilogy that I believe should become the new benchmark for mediocrity in epic fantasy. And I do mean exactly that - the series is exceptionally mediocare. It has some strong points and some flaws, the story is simply fine, many of the characters are somewhat interesting and just sympathetic enough for me to want to know what happens next. The worldbuilding is perfectly acceptable. To be quite honest I ended up not really enjoying the series that match, even if it was a pageturner that kept me engaged for more han 150 hours in Audio form. It's just... a rather vacant feeling, to go through such a journey and not really having anything stronger to think of it than "sure, I guess". Makes one wonder what is the point.

I am now reading Guns of Empire (Shadow Campaign #4 by Django Wexler) and having a really nice time of it, though author fatigue is starting to settle in and I find myself grumbling at his tropes a bit.


After finishing Tokiien's Beren and Luthien, I am beginning Rust by Jonathan Waldman, detailing the problems of a society based on steel.


This January and most of February have been super quiet and I've had plenty of time to read, so it looks like this year I will well outpace previous ones for number of individual books read, if not the final page count.

Books Read in January-February 2018:

The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler (The Shadow Campaigns Book 2)
The Price of Valor by Django Wexler (The Shadow Campaigns Book 3)
The Coming of the Terrans by Leigh Brackett
The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett
Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson (re-read)
Earth's Last Citadel by C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Doomstalker Darkwar Book 1 by Glen Cook
Warlock Darkwar Book 2 by Glen Cook
Ceremony Darkwar Book 3 by Glen Cook

Currently 66 pages into
The Urth of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe


I've been on a baseball kick, and in the last two months have read "The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Home Runs" and "Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty." The former taught me that no athlete has ever dominated his sport as Babe Ruth did in the 1910s and 1920s, nor has anyone else in history ever been able to hit a baseball as far consistently. The latter taught me that while Ty Cobb was not a nice guy, pretty much the whole "Cobb" movie and the books upon which it was based were total lies made up by a hack writer.


Re-read Zelazny's To Die in Italbar. The first half was way better than I remembered; almost literary -- I love the carrying of the theme from literal to spiritual to metaphorical. (Also, as a widely-traveled geologist with a lot of recent hospital time, it's absurdly easy for me to sympathize with the main character.) The weak ending sort of marred it, though. Still, a worthy (and easily overlooked) successor to Isle of the Dead.

Also brushing up on the Thousand and One Nights. Sinbad is way less heroic in the stories than in the movies -- mostly he stands by while his shipmates get eaten, and then gets rescued and inexplicably given lots of money by his rescuers. For this to happen like 7 times in a row is really pushing the bounds of probability -- but, then again, in the overarching story, that means another week of life for the sultan's new bride.


Kirth Gersen wrote:

Re-read Zelazny's To Die in Italbar. The first half was way better than I remembered; almost literary -- I love the carrying of the theme from literal to spiritual to metaphorical. (Also, as a widely-traveled geologist with a lot of recent hospital time, it's absurdly easy for me to sympathize with the main character.) The weak ending sort of marred it, though. Still, a worthy (and easily overlooked) successor to Isle of the Dead.

Also brushing up on the Thousand and One Nights. Sinbad is way less heroic in the stories than in the movies -- mostly he stands by while his shipmates get eaten, and then gets rescued and inexplicably given lots of money by his rescuers. For this to happen like 7 times in a row is really pushing the bounds of probability -- but, then again, in the overarching story, that means another week of life for the sultan's new bride.

Also a problem with compilations of folk tales - they're not really meant to be absorbed as one continuous story. Some of the repetition may come from different versions of the same story from different traditions getting merged into the same larger arc. Or just from reused themes.

Apparently though, Sinbad (and some of the other tales popular in the West) weren't part of the original Thousand Nights, but were separate tales merged in by the first European translators.


Starting on the Iliad. it's about time, especially considering I read the sequel first.


Most recently:

'The Book of Mormon', which I didn't really get into.

'Tarzan and the City of Gold', which was alright.

Now reading a MAN'S BOOK, full of MANLY STORIES about MANLY MEN doing MANLY THINGS, which is comprised of 'Gilligan's Elephant' by Gerald Hanley (a drier, hotter version of Moby Dick, basically), 'Diving Death' by Charles Forsyte and 'The Cruise of the Three Brothers' by Robert Standish.


TarSpartan wrote:
I've been on a baseball kick...

TarSpartan, if you enjoy reading baseball, consider taking a look at Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball... series. He takes a close look at some legendary players, teams and stories; I thoroughly enjoyed them.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
Re-read Zelazny's To Die in Italbar. The first half was way better than I remembered; almost literary -- I love the carrying of the theme from literal to spiritual to metaphorical. (Also, as a widely-traveled geologist with a lot of recent hospital time, it's absurdly easy for me to sympathize with the main character.) The weak ending sort of marred it, though. Still, a worthy (and easily overlooked) successor to Isle of the Dead.

Zelazny was a wonderful writer... but his main flaw was that he never managed to make good endings. They are all weak. It is a mark of greatness that even so, he remains a great writer.


Thrawn, by Timothy Zand.


'Cloak Of Shadows', by Ed Greenwood, which I wasn't that keen on.

And 'Dragonlance Legends: Time/War/Test of the Twins' by Weis and Hickman, which was OK, but I'm kinda Dragonlanced out now after ploughing through the whole thing.

Grand Lodge

finished Gears of Faith, by Gabrielle Harbowy.
Now reading Magician: Apprentice by Raymond Feist


I decided to start another re-read of The Wheel of Time and ended up reading the prequel New Spring, which I had meant to skip. I enjoyed it a good deal more this time around, but that could be because my expectations were much lower than during my first leaf through. I recalled being my second least favorite book in the series, after Crossroads of Twilight, so if this is as bad as it gets it means that I like the series better than even I thought.


Well...it's been a while. I did read The Power to Die: Slavery and Suicide in British North America which was a really great, moving book about suicide. Then my reading plans got derailed not by my own moods or whims, but by the slavery studies guy I knew a year ago reappearing. He offered to talk books with me like two years ago and I demurred on the grounds that I was probably not worth his time. We're involved together managing a history community now and it turns out we actually get on well. Plus he might vanish again, so I took my brainer and went to pick his brain. Got a reading list and dug in.

Slavery and Social Death is a really good, really, really dense book. It's not Winthrop Jordan dense, but it's close.

I needed something lighter after that, so I picked up Ar'n't I a Woman?: Female Slaves in the Plantation South. Women's history is one of my great blindspots, partly because I do politics in an age where they're not supposed to (according to men) and partly because I had a Teen Boy (TM) reaction to the first women's history I actually encountered back in '97. It's a great book and I learned a lot.

Meant to get back to the reading list afterwards, but I ended up with A Hideous Monster of the Mind: American Race Theory in the Early Republic instead. It was pretty good, but also pretty technical and history of science in a way I didn't entirely like. Dry as hell. There's also a paragraph that reference Foucault and you can tell because the quality of the prose drops by orders of magnitude for just that page.

That wraps up 2017, 39 books total.

I began the year with The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture, a classic survey that manages the rare feat of tracing a fairly aimless course through a lot of history without feeling pointless. Davis' argument, unless I misremember it now, is basically that the question of slavery is a dynamic one and new cultural developments and trends work about equally well for reinforcing and challenging it. Davis wrote two other volumes of Problem that I need to get to eventually.

Roughly concurrent with that, I read Command & Control as an audiobook. A nuclear historian recommended it. The chapters about an accident at a missile silo didn't do a lot for me, but the survey of nuclear weapons policy and controls was great.

Finishing both of those got me in the mood for some fiction, so I read The Magicians. It wasn't bad but I didn't have a strong urge to press on with the next book either. Portrait of the Wizard as Depressed Young Man was done really well, but not something I immediately wanted to spend more time with.

Concurrent with that, I listened to Parting the Waters: Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement 1954-63 which was amazing, but abridged. The book's like a thousand pages and the audio is all of six hours that has two readers for no reason I could see. So I'll have to read that for real at some point. Eventually.

Followed those up with The Presidency of Franklin Pierce, which I wish I read three years ago. The University of Kansas does short-ish surveys of every president and the quality is pretty high if Pierce is any indicator. A lot of it was redundant to me now, but I still picked up useful things and it's a great first book about the guy. The other book about him is a biography from the Thirties which, from the excerpts I've read, is what painfully dry writers would call painfully dry.

I sort of started reading Proslavery, the standard text on proslavery thought after that but really I've been reading The Expanse. The last little while has been fairly disruptive for lots of minor personal reasons so demanding history reading has not been easy. I ended up on an unofficial fiction vacation, which is going quite well.

I've also got Proslavery almost done. It's a really good book for 1987 but really shows its age. Tise basically assumes that the Jeffersonians are the True Heirs of the Revolution and needed to learn reactionary conservatism from High Federalists, which isn't far off from the consensus then but now it's much more muddled. I also think he's leaning a little too hard on formal ideology. He admits that proslavery thought in general terms appears any time slavery is challenged, but after the first few chapters basically drops that and reduces it to thoroughgoing tracts and the men who write them. This after complaining, rightly, that prior writers focus too much on the late antebellum familiar suspects. Frustrating.

Right now I think after Proslavery I'll be doing Sinha's The Counterrevolution of Slavery and Ford's Origins of Southern Radicalism, both of which are about South Carolina politics and which take very different things away from it. Sinha's gotten some hate for being uncharitable with Ford, who is significantly older and who she took on with her first book. I suspect there's an element of generational turnover in that, but I'll be reading Ford first to get a better sense of things. I'm disposed to favor the newer scholarship, but she did get mixed reviews and the little bit of Ford I've read so far doesn't lead me to think he's some kind of tedious reactionary squatting over a field because no one else wants it and just angry that some kid is on his lawn. We'll see.

The Exchange

Finished reading "Guns Of Empire" (Shadow Campaigns #4 by Django Wexler). Following a recommendation from my father, I started on The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh, detailing the personal consequences for a group of people after the British conquest of Burma in the late 1700s. I got about 10% in, and couldn't really carry on any longer because I found the characters unsympathetic and unconvincing and never really got hooked. When I reported to my father that I failed to enjoy the book he recommended it turned out to be a misunderstanding where he was talking about a different book set in the same historical time and place, Retribution Road by Antonin Varenne, so I'm about to start that one.

Guns of Empire thoughts:
I know this one is considered to be the best of the bunch and I can see why, but I liked it about the same as the previous book. Everything that's good about The Shadow Campaigns is delivered upon here - an interesting plot filled with tense situations, an escalating pace and some awesome battles.
The weaknesses are here as well - characters are fun but many of them are barely interesting because everyone is so confident,
brave and capable. Some tragic and shocking events raise the stake significantly before the next book will conclude the series.
So far I'm definitely enjoying myself.

The Exchange

Man, I had to dust off my account here (and, apparently, the thread itself!). I've been reading the same book for more than a month, which is exceptionally slow for me, but I've really been struggling with earlier parts of it. However, the past week I rebounded strongly and tore through a few hundred pages (in kindle form! no pages were harmed). Now, having finished Retribution Road (by Antonin Varenne) I'm back to something more familiar and breezy - Turn Coat, the next Dresden Story. It's been a while, and I missed Harry and his friends.

Retribution Road is a historic novel set in Burma, Britain and the fresh and young United States Of America in the 19th century, and here are my spoiler free thought on it:

spoiler free thoughts on Retribution Road:
Retribution Road was a difficult read for me, as the first half of the book had me wondering why anyone thought this story is worth telling - and while things did get better as the story progressed, the stronger sections never quite covered up the weaker ones.
For the entire start and middle of Retribution Road, the PoV character Arthur Bowman is as unrelatable a character as you'll find. He is aggressive and forceful, a brute who loves no one and is loved by no one. Events in the story lead him to being even more of an unpleasent outsider, and he doesn't really appear to have any hidden depth or inner good to coax the reader to forgive him his serious flaws.
The environment around him seems to suit his character. Most other characters are repulsive or apprehensive in some way or another, and the author makes no attempt to glorify history, thrusting the evils of western colonialism and the horrifying consequences of post trauma on the human psyche to the front.
The result is a long series of encounters and events that are gruesome, sad, or tragic. Bowman seems to drift without purpose in a world that isn't worth the trouble of trying to change himself.
Luckily, things do pick up after that. Bowman sets on a physical and mental journey that redeem him to the reader in slow, hesitant steps. While the writing is always emotionally distant, Bowman is a believable enough person that the reader can fill in the gaps and experience the pain and the blossoming hope alongside him. While the story has a very slow pace and a strong tendency to wonder into side tracks and digressions, the narrative accrues inertia until a compulsion to turn the next page grows - I've never quite noticed at what point it happened, but at some point I found myself seriously hooked.

This just about covers my impression of the plot and characters. As for the setting, large parts of the world in the late 1800s are explored, and each of them feel distinct from the others. It's immersive, even if there's never a true wealth of details to discover. For Varenne the historical canvas is not about the places, or the events, or the technology - it is about the mood, the ephemeral spirit of the time, and the kinds of people who populated it.

I cannot wholeheartedly recommend Retribution Road, as it takes some serious dedication to extract enjoyment from it. However, for those who don't mind sloughing through some muck to find gold, or those who particularity enjoy redemption stories, there's certainly an epic yet personal story of growth and pain to be found here that would keep you engaged and stir your emotions.


I just started book 5 of The Dark Tower series. Book 4 was the best so far, so I hope the trend continues.

Scarab Sages

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Just finished the second book of "That Time I Got Reincarnated Into A Slime."

It was great.
These series of books started as web chapters in Japan and refined when they were published, both as a novel and Manga.
You can read either by themselves and get the whole story, but it best to read both to give the stories more flavor.


I am a bit beyond the halfway point in Shadowplay, the second book in Tad Williams' Shadowmarch quadrilogy (is that a word?). Williams is taking his time developing the story (I suppose that's the case with a lot of epic fantasy), but at least this series has the benefit of being completed; I won't be two-thirds of the way through it and waiting for the last volume for years (get cracking, Patrick Rothfuss!).


Aaron Bitman wrote:

<snip>Don't judge all D&D books by R. A. Salvatore. Once again, I feel compelled to mention my favorite D&D trilogy, the Dragonlance Chronicles ("Dragons of Autumn Twilight", "Dragons of Winter Night", and "Dragons of Spring Dawning"). Some people like the setting because most of the monsters have a reason to be there. Not everything is "poured in" (although others criticize the setting for the same reason).

Now, Dragonlance sort of violates one of your other criteria...

Astral Wanderer wrote:
2) I like things with a beginning, a course, and an end. I don't like things that go on forever, maybe with new main characters now and then, just because the author needs to exploit the brand (looking at Shannara again).
It's obvious that TSR / WotC had to keep exploiting that brand. But you can simply quit when you feel it's time. The Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy comes<snip>

Re Dragons of Autumn Twilight

So I picked this up the other day at a book sale and noticed I found a first printing. It is in very good condition (given that it's not printed on acid free paper) and it was exactly $1.

So I read it.

Really good characterizations. I was totally surprised by this. Usually this type of fantasy lit is just garbage. I will read the other two books at some point to close the story.

I've heard/seen they made these books into a series of adventures. I don't see how - there were "DM PCs" all over the place leading the characters around by the nose. A real whistle stop choo choo ride with no room for PC agency.


Quark Blast wrote:

Re Dragons of Autumn Twilight

So I picked this up the other day at a book sale and noticed I found a first printing. It is in very good condition (given that it's not printed on acid free paper) and it was exactly $1.

So I read it.

Really good characterizations. I was totally surprised by this. Usually this type of fantasy lit is just garbage. I will read the other two books at some point to close the story.

I've heard/seen they made these books into a series of adventures. I don't see how - there were "DM PCs" all over the place leading the characters around by the nose. A real whistle stop choo choo ride with no room for PC agency.

I think you will find that the core Dragonlance books (those written by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman) hold up very well, mostly because those two writers are quite good at their craft. They have written several popular trilogies/series beyond the Dragonlance multiverse, both together and separately.

As for the adventure/novels connection, the adventures actually came first, with the novels coming after they realized they wanted to write the story of the adventures. It's much easier to picture the evolution of the thing if you do it from that direction.

Tracy Hickman and his wife Laura also wrote a classic series of modules for 1e AD&D, the Desert of Desolation series (if I remember correctly, they were labeled I3, I4 and I5), which were a blast to play through back in the day.


That said, Dragonlance was one of the first attempts at "story modules" and they did get pretty railroady - at least the first couple, which were all I remember looking at.

The Exchange

Readerbreeder wrote:
I am a bit beyond the halfway point in Shadowplay, the second book in Tad Williams' Shadowmarch quadrilogy (is that a word?). Williams is taking his time developing the story (I suppose that's the case with a lot of epic fantasy), but at least this series has the benefit of being completed; I won't be two-thirds of the way through it and waiting for the last volume for years (get cracking, Patrick Rothfuss!).

Tad Williams can be glacial when it comes to pacing. His Otherland series had huge emotional impact on me, it was written with aplomb and showcased some serious imagination... but reading it was often torturous as a whole book might go by without anything really happening.

I'm curius yo hear your opinion of the whole Shadowmarch series, when you finish, becuase the premise sounds good but I'm honestly a bit hesitant to dive into another Willimas series....


Readerbreeder wrote:
quadrilogy (is that a word?).

People use it, but they are wrong. The correct term is either 'tetralogy' or 'quartet'.

9,551 to 9,600 of 9,735 << first < prev | 185 | 186 | 187 | 188 | 189 | 190 | 191 | 192 | 193 | 194 | 195 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Gamer Life / Entertainment / Books / What books are you currently reading? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.