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Media => Books => Topic started by: Drunken Idaho on October 12, 2011, 12:55:25 AM

Title: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on October 12, 2011, 12:55:25 AM
Inspired by the similar movie thread which I think is awesome... in a few words, rate (by quality, enjoyment factor, whatever) the most recent book you've finished.

I had fallen off reading for a very long time, (dissertation withdrawal, I think) but a Borders near me went out of business, and I picked up over a hundred bucks worth of deeply discounted books. I started reading again, and couldn't be happier. Since books may not be as well known as movies, I recommend linking to Amazon for further info and reviews of the book. I finished 3 books in rapid succession, so I'll start the thread off with them:

--------------------------------------------------------

Guns, Germs, and Steel (http://www.amazon.com/Guns-Germs-Steel-Fates-Societies/dp/0393061310/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1318393488&sr=8-1) by Jared Diamond
Nonfiction, chronicles the history of human civilization, addresses questions of racial and societal dominance
10/10
You've probably read this already. Took me a long time to get through it; I read the following books during "breaks" from GG&S. It's very dry writing, and there is an incomprehensible amount of information in it. That said... I felt like each sentence I read was a window into the past, and I gained SO much knowledge from this book (even if I could only absorb a fraction of what was contained within) and such a better big picture of the history of humanity that I loved every second of it. Everybody in the world should read this book.

One Second After (http://www.amazon.com/One-Second-After-William-Forstchen/dp/0765356864/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1318394398&sr=1-1) by William Forstchen
Fiction, modern post-apocalyptic scenario.
7/10
Was a very fast read. My favorite non-zombie post apocalyptic tale.

True Grit (http://www.amazon.com/Portis-Charles-Author-Paperback-Nov-2010/dp/B004FQ2Y4K/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1318394660&sr=1-5) by Charles Portis
Fiction, western
8/10
The Coen movie (saw it first) followed this story VERY closely. The book was a quick read, and a true pleasure. Uniquely matter-o-fact perspective in an adventure story.

**bonus**

I Am America, and So Can You (http://www.amazon.com/Am-America-So-Can-You/dp/B0029LHWSQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1318394785&sr=1-1) by Stephen Colbert
Fiction, satire
6/10
Listened to it on audiobook on a very recent (very) long drive. It was funny, with the whole thing read very well by Colbert completely in his TV show's character along with some excellent interludes by random folks (celebs, his mother, random folks). I think I might have enjoyed it more in book form, and in short snippets... I got a little tired of his character by the end after listening to it straight through. I did enjoy it all the way through, though, and I'm glad I listened to it.

...I just started a very very long nonfiction that will probably take me a while to get through, though I might throw a couple short fictions into my reading diet here and there. What have YOU read lately?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on October 12, 2011, 04:57:35 AM
moonwalking with Einstein (http://www.amazon.com/Moonwalking-Einstein-Science-Remembering-Everything/dp/159420229X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1318409364&sr=8-1)  9/10 fucking fascinating! It took me way to long to read because I keep getting side tracked with other books. Not that this one was bad, it was great, it's just a little slow in some places and I normally read more then one book at a time. I highly recommend. It's all about memory and the people who compete in memory competitions.

apathy and other small victories (http://www.amazon.com/Apathy-Other-Small-Victories-Neilan/dp/0312352190/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1318409593&sr=1-1) 9/10 I'm not finished yet but 86% done. This book is fucking hilarious. It's a fast paced fictional book about a jaded 20something who drink's a lot of cheap beer. Yes this could be any 20something but made me LOL a lot.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on October 12, 2011, 11:44:24 AM
Almost picked up Moonwalking with Einstein at the aforementioned Borders, but it wasn't so discounted and I was already spending a bunch of cash... will have to when I make it through my current pile.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on October 12, 2011, 04:04:37 PM
Wilbur Smith's "Birds of Prey." Outstanding historical novel, as is just about everything the guy's ever written.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on October 12, 2011, 04:15:20 PM
Leviathan Wakes by James SA Corey

8.5/10

Blurb:
Quote
Welcome to the future. Humanity has colonized the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, The Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for – and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to The Scopuli and rebel sympathizer, Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations – and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.

This was a perfect melding of detective story and space opera.  I liked it a lot (and ended up staying up past my bedtime reading more than once).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on October 12, 2011, 04:31:23 PM
Leviathan Wakes by James SA Corey

8.5/10

Blurb:
Quote
Welcome to the future. Humanity has colonized the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, The Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for – and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to The Scopuli and rebel sympathizer, Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations – and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.

This was a perfect melding of detective story and space opera.  I liked it a lot (and ended up staying up past my bedtime reading more than once).

Adding to the list, that sounds awesome!!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: T.A.P.O.R. on October 12, 2011, 06:41:31 PM
Uriel's Machine: Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas 2/10 (2 because it has some pictures of rocks).

Steaming turd disguised as a science book.

Ancient aliens = angels from the bible.
Their evidence was based on accounts of the biblical character Enoch.

The into to the book starts with complaints about people rejecting the book with "you can't do science this way" comments.

Well it's not scientific at all.
Makes wild claims of simultaneous technological adaptations world wide eg: irrigation and farming.
We all know that there were plenty of hunter gatherer societies in recent history, but they claim it all happened 15k years ago, oh and stone tools from 2 million years ago.

Hogwash!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on October 12, 2011, 11:39:02 PM
Uriel's Machine: Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas 2/10 (2 because it has some pictures of rocks).

Steaming turd disguised as a science book.

Ancient aliens = angels from the bible.
Their evidence was based on accounts of the biblical character Enoch.

The into to the book starts with complaints about people rejecting the book with "you can't do science this way" comments.

Well it's not scientific at all.
Makes wild claims of simultaneous technological adaptations world wide eg: irrigation and farming.
We all know that there were plenty of hunter gatherer societies in recent history, but they claim it all happened 15k years ago, oh and stone tools from 2 million years ago.

Hogwash!

ugh. Did you actually make it all the way through?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: T.A.P.O.R. on October 12, 2011, 11:45:56 PM
Uriel's Machine: Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas 2/10 (2 because it has some pictures of rocks).

Steaming turd disguised as a science book.

Ancient aliens = angels from the bible.
Their evidence was based on accounts of the biblical character Enoch.

The into to the book starts with complaints about people rejecting the book with "you can't do science this way" comments.

Well it's not scientific at all.
Makes wild claims of simultaneous technological adaptations world wide eg: irrigation and farming.
We all know that there were plenty of hunter gatherer societies in recent history, but they claim it all happened 15k years ago, oh and stone tools from 2 million years ago.

Hogwash!

ugh. Did you actually make it all the way through?

No. Since each chapter had a summary/conclusion, I just ended up reading them and going back a few pages for those WTF?! moments. I spent the whole time sliding between disbelief and anger at the stupidity.

Did I mention that I bought it at a closing down book store?
It was one of the last books left in the science section. For a reason.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on October 12, 2011, 11:55:02 PM
Did I mention that I bought it at a closing down book store?
It was one of the last books left in the science section. For a reason.

That it was one of the last books left brings me a small amount of joy.  :D
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: T.A.P.O.R. on October 13, 2011, 12:05:11 AM
Did I mention that I bought it at a closing down book store?
It was one of the last books left in the science section. For a reason.

That it was one of the last books left brings me a small amount of joy.  :D

The other was a book on dog grooming.
I should've been more suspicious.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on October 17, 2011, 04:04:41 PM
I'm going to include AudioBooks

Orcs by Stan Nicholls, read by John Lee (http://www.audible.com/pd?asin=B005LQZMWE)

7.5/10

Blurb:
Quote
Combining the acclaimed trilogy of books, Bodyguard of Lightning, Legion of Thunder, and Warriors of the Tempest, plus a new short story previously only available in a small press anthology, this is the entire story of Struke and his band of Orcs. Fantasy's bad guys finally their own say in this fast moving, action packed, tongue-in-cheek tale of Orc valor and human treachery.

I enjoyed this one.  It's a very straighforward Macguffin-based quest story, which isn't a bad thing.  Entertaining action scenes, a nice mix of sterotypes and unique characters, and a world that is gradually revealed to be more complicated than you thought at first.  Also, F-bombs!

It is pretty simple, and isn't going to expand your mind.  Pure fluff, but good fluff.  I liked it, and don't begrudge the credit I spent on it (which is my standard for success).

The narrator is one of the very good ones.  He's the same guy that reads Peter Hamilton's Commonwealth books, so I've heard him before in a very different setting.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on October 17, 2011, 04:16:10 PM
I'm also going to include graphic novels

The Life Eaters by David Brin, art by Scott Hampton (http://www.davidbrin.com/lifeeaters.html)

4.5/10

Publishers Weekly review (this is what you get at Amazon):
Quote
In 1986, science fiction writer Brin (Startide Rising; The Kiln People) published a novella, "Thor Meets Captain America," an alternate-history story in which the Nazis win WWII by enlisting the aid of the Norse gods (except for Loki, who assists the American resistance). With an understandable title change, this graphic novel expands on that story and presents a sequel to it. There are lots of imaginative details here: battles between jet fighters and gigantic Norse birds; a submarine carrying a crew of mythological dwarfs; and some clever speculation on the way that history might have turned in the past 60 years (e.g., the "Khmer Bleu"?). But there's also a certain amount of heavy-handed preachiness: an inappropriately clunky vision of ash-induced global warming; a dreadfully sappy scene in which leaders of every religion put aside their differences to defend the planet; and a climactic scene in which a human is tempted by divine power that's straight out of a mid-1960s superhero comic. Fantasy artist Hampton is at his best when he gets to illustrate larger-than-life images (such as the gods or Yggdrasil, the World Treeor even the devastation of the Asian killing fields), if a bit less adept at the book's punch-'em-up action scenes and talking-heads sequences.

I grabbed this one from the local public library.  It was OK at best.  The idea was kind of neat, but it didn't quite work for me the way it could have.  I agree with the above review of the artwork especially - sometimes marvelous, sometimes just messy.

I'm glad I didn't spend my own money on it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on October 17, 2011, 04:19:27 PM
Thud! - Terry Pratchett. Can I give it an 11 out of 10? :P I'd give that to most of the Discworld series, though.

The book I'm currently reading is Divided Allegiance by Elizabeth Moon. It's interesting in that the female protagonist is a soldier. There's no girling her up or anything. I like it. The story is fairly standard medivalish fantasy, with some interesting politics going on. The politics are from the perspective of a soldier who has no investment in them, so Moon only gives you glimpses of what's going on in the larger world. It's an interesting method. Right now, I'm giving it a B-.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: wastrel on October 17, 2011, 04:26:47 PM
Sword of Truth series
(currently on book 6 of 11)
7/10

I've read all of these before, and recently decided to reread them.  It is solid fantasy, with a pretty rich world built with functioning political structure and a working (albeit sparesly detailed) magical system.

Too often the story falls back on the hero just "knowing" what to do with no real explanation why, but all in all it is a good fantasy.

About midway through the series, the story kind of becomes heavy handed propaganda on the superiority of capitalism over communism, but whatevs.  I still like it
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on October 17, 2011, 08:38:19 PM
Sword of Truth series
(currently on book 6 of 11)
7/10

I've read all of these before, and recently decided to reread them.  It is solid fantasy, with a pretty rich world built with functioning political structure and a working (albeit sparesly detailed) magical system.

Too often the story falls back on the hero just "knowing" what to do with no real explanation why, but all in all it is a good fantasy.

About midway through the series, the story kind of becomes heavy handed propaganda on the superiority of capitalism over communism, but whatevs.  I still like it
That's Terry Brooks, right?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: wastrel on October 17, 2011, 08:50:40 PM
Terry Goodkind
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Caffiene on October 17, 2011, 08:50:58 PM
That's Terry Brooks, right?

Terry Goodkind.


Ive got the first 7 or 8 of them... I quite enjoyed them, especially the first 2 or 3. But as the series went on I couldnt help noticing each book felt like it very strongly stuck to the same formula. The details and locations and magic involved changed, but the overall structure started to feel very familiar and imposing. The more I read, the more I noticed the repeated themes becoming overbearing.

Since then, Ive also read that apparently Richard is supposed be Goodkind's version of a perfect man, which just doesnt fit with my picture of him... One of the big structure points that gets repeated is his big mistakes that lead to dire consequences.

Id rate them probably 8/10 for the first book, progressing down to 6/10 by the last one I read.

I give it bonus points for not sugar coating the kinkiness with the Mord-Sith, though.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on October 17, 2011, 08:52:30 PM
"Prisoner of Birth," by Jeffrey Archer. 8 of 10. The old felon still tells a good story.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on October 17, 2011, 08:54:11 PM
Terry Goodkind
That's Terry Brooks, right?

Terry Goodkind.
OIC.

Quote
Ive got the first 7 or 8 of them... I quite enjoyed them, especially the first 2 or 3. But as the series went on I couldnt help noticing each book felt like it very strongly stuck to the same formula. The details and locations and magic involved changed, but the overall structure started to feel very familiar and imposing. The more I read, the more I noticed the repeated themes becoming overbearing.

Since then, Ive also read that apparently Richard is supposed be Goodkind's version of a perfect man, which just doesnt fit with my picture of him... One of the big structure points that gets repeated is his big mistakes that lead to dire consequences.

Id rate them probably 8/10 for the first book, progressing down to 6/10 by the last one I read.

I give it bonus points for not sugar coating the kinkiness with the Mord-Sith, though.
I would probably get frustrated with that pretty quickly. I might give 'em a try. Eventually.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: wastrel on October 18, 2011, 10:49:17 AM
(click to show/hide)

Pretty spot on criticism, but I've found pretty much evey fantasy series to be formulaic at its core.

It is pretty obvious that Goodkind considers Richard a god among men, but Richard is my least favorite character anyway.  The tertiary characters are what always made the books worth it to me.

And yeah, Mord-Sith are awesome
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on October 18, 2011, 11:00:45 AM
Terry Goodkind.


Ive got the first 7 or 8 of them... I quite enjoyed them, especially the first 2 or 3. But as the series went on I couldnt help noticing each book felt like it very strongly stuck to the same formula. The details and locations and magic involved changed, but the overall structure started to feel very familiar and imposing. The more I read, the more I noticed the repeated themes becoming overbearing.

I've read the first 4-6 of them.  On a 1-10 scale, I'd rate the ones I read as 9.5, 5, 2, 1, 1, ... (however far I got before I stopped).  The first one is really good, and worth reading on its own.  They go downhill pretty fast.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: wastrel on October 18, 2011, 11:17:32 AM
Terry Goodkind.


Ive got the first 7 or 8 of them... I quite enjoyed them, especially the first 2 or 3. But as the series went on I couldnt help noticing each book felt like it very strongly stuck to the same formula. The details and locations and magic involved changed, but the overall structure started to feel very familiar and imposing. The more I read, the more I noticed the repeated themes becoming overbearing.

I've read the first 4-6 of them.  On a 1-10 scale, I'd rate the ones I read as 9.5, 5, 2, 1, 1, ... (however far I got before I stopped).  The first one is really good, and worth reading on its own.  They go downhill pretty fast.

I agree the quality falls off initially after the first book (Blood of the Fold is especially pretty bad), but by Temple of the Winds, the story picks up quite a bit (IMO)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Grimner on October 18, 2011, 05:21:27 PM
Just finished The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Good read - let's say a 7 of 10. Good on brutality, dialogue and feelings. Bad on background - I keep inventing a long, dark decline that the author spends a couple of lines on.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Stovetop32 on October 18, 2011, 09:33:14 PM
Though not quite done yet (it's a big book with lots of figures), I''ll put in a few good words for Pinker's latest book:

The Better Angels of our Nature:  Why Violence has Declined

Overall I'd give it an 8.5/10

Pros: 
- He does a great job of highlighting alternative ways of looking at historical violence (both statistically and contextually)
- The tone of the book is a surprising amalgamation of haute-academic and lay-terminology.  As one friend put it, you feel smarter when reading it without having to pick up a dictionary or textbook every other passage.  Pinker's voice is somewhat playful, but never flippant.
- The topic is timely, as we are almost always confronted with reminders of how violent our species can be in the MSM.  He goes to great lengths to uncover how easily we tend to focus on the most extreme examples of human cruelty, while simultaneously ignoring acts of kindness and the general absence of violence that we experience on a day-to-day basis.

Cons: 
- A bit long, and a bit repetitive at times.
- I don't know that he paid enough thought to the potential for massive, unprecedented levels of death and destruction at the hands of nuclear weapons, considering how many countries now possess them, and how poor of a job non-proliferation agreements have done to contain their spread.  Yes, our level of violence may be at an all-time low as he is calculating it, but the potential for large scale calamities at the push of a button is much larger than the threat of invading armies in the middle ages.
- I'm not sure that he's including enough about psychological violence (think of the bullying problem we have, or internet anonymity issues).
- I don't completely buy that our currently low levels of violence stem completely from the enlightenment era developments in the philosophy of morality.

Overall, a good read though.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on October 18, 2011, 10:06:30 PM
Quote
I don't know that he paid enough thought to the potential for massive, unprecedented levels of death and destruction at the hands of nuclear weapons, considering how many countries now possess them, and how poor of a job non-proliferation agreements have done to contain their spread.  Yes, our level of violence may be at an all-time low as he is calculating it, but the potential for large scale calamities at the push of a button is much larger than the threat of invading armies in the middle ages.
Eh, that's just speculation though. You can speculate until you're blue in the face, but we can't know what will happen until it actually happens. I'm not saying it's not a problem that should be watched, but I can understand why Pinker would chose not to add that speculation to his book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on October 19, 2011, 12:20:15 AM
Interesting review, I need to look into that. Thanks Stovetop.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Stovetop32 on October 19, 2011, 09:20:26 AM
(click to show/hide)
Eh, that's just speculation though. You can speculate until you're blue in the face, but we can't know what will happen until it actually happens. I'm not saying it's not a problem that should be watched, but I can understand why Pinker would chose not to add that speculation to his book.

Absolutely, it is speculation, but I'll push back a bit here for one reason:  He urges readers to consider situations such as (paraphrasing) "how it would feel to live in such a society, knowing that you'll eventually be invaded," or the general uncertainty of your safety in civilizations of the past.  I'm not saying that he should have turned this book into an anti-nuclear treatise, just that I think his estimate of our current level of security (which plays into his assertion of there being less violence), isn't as comprehensive as I might like.  It's small beef, and you're right, it would require speculation on both Pinker's and the reader's part.  It's just that, given the way he positioned threats to individual/family security throughout the book, I thought it might garner more attention - especially considering the way nuclear proliferation flies in the face of the moral philosophies he champions from enlightenment thinkers (consider Diderot, for example).

Another point I'd raise is that your criticism regarding speculation is one of the greatest he's received in this book.  Many people feel that Pinker unjustly argues that violence will continue to decline because it has been doing so historically (i.e. it is the current trend, and will thus continue in the same direction). 

Anyway, if any of you get to read the book, let me know what you think   :)

EDIT: stupid typo fixed
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on October 19, 2011, 10:25:48 AM
Just finished this one last night:

Audiobook

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, read by Wil Wheaton (http://www.audible.com/pd?asin=B005FRGT44)

10/10

Blurb
Quote
At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, Ready Player One is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of 10,000 planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late 20th century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

This one really worked for me.  It was kind of inevitable, since I have the hugest man-crush on Wil Wheaton, but the thing was a win on all levels for me.  I'm a gamer and fan of 80s crap of all varieties.  The book was frankly written just for me - I'm the exact target audience.*

The climax was really exciting, both the writing and the performance, and my heart was actually racing as I listened to it walking home from the university last night.

Best book I've listened to in a long time.

*I hesitate to recommend the book to the general audience - if you're a 30-something nerd you'll like it, but if you're not you might think it's stupid/preposterous/dull.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on October 19, 2011, 09:01:40 PM
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Eh, that's just speculation though. You can speculate until you're blue in the face, but we can't know what will happen until it actually happens. I'm not saying it's not a problem that should be watched, but I can understand why Pinker would chose not to add that speculation to his book.

Absolutely, it is speculation, but I'll push back a bit here for one reason:  He urges readers to consider situations such as (paraphrasing) "how it would feel to live in such a society, knowing that you'll eventually be invaded," or the general uncertainty of your safety in civilizations of the past.  I'm not saying that he should have turned this book into an anti-nuclear treatise, just that I think his estimate of our current level of security (which plays into his assertion of their being less violence), isn't as comprehensive as I might like.  It's small beef, and you're right, it would require speculation on both Pinker's and the reader's part.  It's just that, given the way he positioned threats to individual/family security throughout the book, I thought it might garner more attention - especially considering the way nuclear proliferation flies in the face of the moral philosophies he champions from enlightenment thinkers (consider Diderot, for example).
Ah, so speculation was already a feature of the book. Yours is a fair point, then, in that case.

Quote
Another point I'd raise is that your criticism regarding speculation is one of the greatest he's received in this book.  Many people feel that Pinker unjustly argues that violence will continue to decline because it has been doing so historically (i.e. it is the current trend, and will thus continue in the same direction).
I can see why he'd argue that, and I can see counter-arguments to that argument. I chose to believe that violence will approach, but never reach, zero. There'll always be a bit of mad chimp in all of us, and that's probably a good thing - it makes things more interesting. If not for our aggressive natures, this forum would be boring (and easier to moderate, to be honest).

Quote
Anyway, if any of you get to read the book, let me know what you think   :)
I'm interested in reading the book. I don't know if I'll get around to it any time soon, though. I'm a bit broke/busy. Not a fun combo.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on October 31, 2011, 09:10:24 PM
WIRED (http://www.amazon.com/WIRED-ebook/dp/B005C4XVYG/ref=pd_sim_kinc_4?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2) 7 out 10. It was a quick sci-fi action thriller. I don't want to put up any spoilers yet. It is only .79 cents for the kindle and worth every penny! It was fast paced but had a few cringe worthy lines. The only me religion comes up it is either an atheist or agnostic point of view so that was kind of cool, but some of the science in it was bad. That said, it could make a fun movie if Hollywood would stop make squeals or remakes.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: JLK on October 31, 2011, 10:44:00 PM
Book 4 and 5 in the Fire and Ice series.  I keep looking in the mail for my medal but it hasn't come yet.
Whew what a mess!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on October 31, 2011, 11:36:04 PM
WIRED (http://www.amazon.com/WIRED-ebook/dp/B005C4XVYG/ref=pd_sim_kinc_4?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2) 7 out 10. It was a quick sci-fi action thriller. I don't want to put up any spoilers yet. It is only .79 cents for the kindle and worth every penny! It was fast paced but had a few cringe worthy lines. The only me religion comes up it is either an atheist or agnostic point of view so that was kind of cool, but some of the science in it was bad. That said, it could make a fun movie if Hollywood would stop make squeals or remakes.

Judging by Hollywood's record, maybe it's best that it not be made into a movie so as to not taint its memory.

I've heard a couple other people praise Wired very highly... must check it out.

Book 4 and 5 in the Fire and Ice series.  I keep looking in the mail for my medal but it hasn't come yet.
Whew what a mess!

...also on my "to eventually read" list.  :D
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on November 01, 2011, 06:18:56 AM
Yeah 7/10 might have been too harsh. It start's off fast and is pretty good, lots of twist. Just occasionally there will be a line that is so cheesy or cliché it kind of broke me out of the world. Still, it was enjoyable. The epilogue also kind of broke me out and should have been left out, but I'm getting into spoiler territory so I'll stop.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on November 01, 2011, 12:56:14 PM
Yeah 7/10 might have been too harsh. It start's off fast and is pretty good, lots of twist. Just occasionally there will be a line that is so cheesy or cliché it kind of broke me out of the world. Still, it was enjoyable. The epilogue also kind of broke me out and should have been left out, but I'm getting into spoiler territory so I'll stop.

I think I read your review as more positive than you intended...  :D
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on November 01, 2011, 01:41:05 PM
Collapse; Jared Diamond - 9/10


A really good read and a must, much like Guns, Germs and Steel.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on November 01, 2011, 01:42:56 PM
Digital Barbarism; Mark Helprin - 2/10


The prose is solid and fun to read. That said, the book is just a polemic against change. You can almost see Helrin standing on his lawn shouting at the interwebs. "get off my lawn!".
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on November 01, 2011, 01:45:25 PM
Collapse; Jared Diamond - 9/10


A really good read and a must, much like Guns, Germs and Steel.
I actually thought it was written a lot better than GG&S; the latter had some good points and then just basically repeated them over and over again throughout the book. Collapse at least went into some (really interesting) detail about the various collapsed civilizations and the evidence for why they fell apart.

The Psychopath Test - 10/10

I don't think I've ever flipped through a book that quickly. The subject matter was interesting, Jon Ronson is hilarious and a genius, and... yeah, it was just goodstuffs.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on November 01, 2011, 01:45:55 PM
The Demon Under the Microscope; Thomas Hager - 6/10


Decent prose. Hager goes into the history behind the development of antibiotics. Not overly inspired but compelling.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on November 01, 2011, 01:50:12 PM
Hitch 22; Christopher Hitchens - 8/10


Great read. If you're a fan it's a must, and like all of the Hitch's works, the material is dense but well written and worth the time and quite enjoyable.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on November 01, 2011, 01:55:03 PM
The media relations department of hizbollah wishes you a happy birthday; neil macfarquhar - 8.5/10


Unfortunate title, but excellent read. MacFarquhar gives you a sense of what the average person is like, and the challenges they face throughout the middle east. He is very deft and weaving between personal stories and political themes. If you are interested at all in why people 'hate' the US or in how to break through and covert the middle east to a pro-western stance you will want to read this book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on November 02, 2011, 03:49:57 PM
I've been on a "quick light read" phase and thus the last book(s) I read are the entire Harry Potter series. I finally managed a goal I set for myself when the entire series was finished - I read all 7 of them in succession. It only took 2 wks. I'll give the series an 8 of 10, because, really, they're just so damn fun to read. I think that Rowling has gotten some flak for her writing style, but having accidentally read some of a fan-fic imagining of the 7th book... yeah, her stuff is about 1 million times better. Granted, it was fan-fic... but it puts some perspective on the issue.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on November 02, 2011, 03:56:45 PM
I started on book 5 of HP after seeing the first 4 movies... no denying, they are very fun reads.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on November 02, 2011, 03:59:27 PM
I started on book 5 of HP after seeing the first 4 movies... no denying, they are very fun reads.
I am an unabashed reader of (good) children's fiction. I recommend, though, if you've the inclination, that you read the first 4 books, too. They're at least 10x better than the movies, which I don't even remember watching.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on November 02, 2011, 05:10:24 PM
I've read about two dozen Asterix comics over the past month or so.

Ones written before Goscinny died:  10/10.  I don't know how they managed to get so many puns translated into English, but they managed it.  Hit after hit after hit.

Ones written after Goscinny died:  6/10.  Underzo has done his best, but he just can't maintain the quality of the gags.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: T.A.P.O.R. on November 03, 2011, 06:17:45 AM
The Diamond Age - Neal Stephenson 7/10

Lots of great concepts, but the end of it just happens suddenly.
Maybe in my second read through I'll like it better.

When I read his book Snowcrash, it took more than one reading to make it one of my all time favourite sci fi.

I find his books to be humorous, intelligent, enlightening and promote healthy skepticism.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on November 03, 2011, 10:39:22 AM
The Diamond Age - Neal Stephenson 7/10
I think I've read this, but I don't remember.

I just finished Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore. 6/10. It was a fun read, but fairly superficial. I've read other books by Moore, and found them much more intelligent and less superficial, if still fairly irreverent. This one just didn't have enough depth for me. But, still, better by at least 200% than Twilight.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: wastrel on November 03, 2011, 04:14:18 PM
The Diamond Age - Neal Stephenson 7/10
I think I've read this, but I don't remember.

Same. Is that the book with skull guns?  And a weird book called the Primer or something?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Empty Soul on November 05, 2011, 08:46:20 PM
Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100

Michio Kaku

8/10

A nice read. While it is always hard (impossible probably) to predict what will happen in 10, 20 or 100 years the book extrapolates from existing tech. Quite enjoyable.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: T.A.P.O.R. on November 09, 2011, 10:13:06 PM
The Diamond Age - Neal Stephenson 7/10
I think I've read this, but I don't remember.

Same. Is that the book with skull guns?  And a weird book called the Primer or something?
Yah, the skull gun book.


The twits - Roal Dahl 10/10
I read this over lunch, most amusing.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on November 11, 2011, 10:20:36 AM
The Gambler - FD 5/10


Bit of a disappointment. Was my first read of any Dostoyesky and I had expected something entirely different. That said, it was a funny book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on November 14, 2011, 06:37:05 AM
Everything Is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead - Robert Brockway
3/10

I started this book from a sample on my kindle. The sample was hilarious and seemed to be on the up & up. Almost as soon as I bought it the next chapter is all about how “frankenfood” is going to kill you. :bang: If he would just call Monsanto evil, I might be a little more sympathetic but he goes out of his way to say GM food in general is dangerous. The author writes for craked and is clearly more out for a laugh but is routinely anti technology, cherry pick’s data and is out right fear mongering. I guess that’s part of the package for it’s title but with such a strong beginning had really hoped for more. It was a good contrast while reading Dan Gardner’s "Future babble" and could issued as work book to along with it. At about 46% of the way through I just stopped caring and it was no longer worth the excursive trying to find logical fallacies. I could be more forgiving if it was in the name of comedy, but he expert’s to be taken seriously.  It’s just a lot of “what’s if’s” and dick jokes.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on November 14, 2011, 06:43:24 PM
I Shall Wear Midnight - Terry Pratchett. 7/10

Not the best Tiffany Aching novel, but a good end to the arc (I'm assuming it's the end). A greatly enjoyable read (or, in my case, listen). It seemed a bit more scattered than usual until the second half. Pratchett tied it all together fairly well, of course, but not as well as he usually does. Still, he does a great job of character development, what with people staying true to themselves and still developing as characters, if that makes sense.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on November 15, 2011, 11:07:14 AM
The Gambler - FD 5/10


Bit of a disappointment. Was my first read of any Dostoyesky and I had expected something entirely different. That said, it was a funny book.
You want to make sure you read it all the way to the end. Indeed, in his final words I found an ace that I could keep.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on November 15, 2011, 05:32:29 PM
Everything Is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead - Robert Brockway
3/10

I started this book from a sample on my kindle. The sample was hilarious and seemed to be on the up & up. Almost as soon as I bought it the next chapter is all about how “frankenfood” is going to kill you. :bang: If he would just call Monsanto evil, I might be a little more sympathetic but he goes out of his way to say GM food in general is dangerous. The author writes for craked and is clearly more out for a laugh but is routinely anti technology, cherry pick’s data and is out right fear mongering. I guess that’s part of the package for it’s title but with such a strong beginning had really hoped for more. It was a good contrast while reading Dan Gardner’s "Future babble" and could issued as work book to along with it. At about 46% of the way through I just stopped caring and it was no longer worth the excursive trying to find logical fallacies. I could be more forgiving if it was in the name of comedy, but he expert’s to be taken seriously.  It’s just a lot of “what’s if’s” and dick jokes.

That's sad... I had seen a few blurbs about that book, I was hoping it was going to be skeptical satire. :(
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on November 16, 2011, 03:53:45 PM
It's really the tech chapters that are bad. The chapter on hyper-cane's was pretty cool, but it had me second guessing everything he said. Frankenfood, nano tech and green/grey goo where the really dubious chapters. He is good at being funny, just not critical thinking.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on November 16, 2011, 03:55:16 PM
With the amount of disinformation out there, I'm not surprised that he'd get on the Frankenfood bandwagon. You can be the best critical thinker in human history, but still be wrong if you don't have the right facts.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: T.A.P.O.R. on November 16, 2011, 10:05:56 PM
Sand Kings - George RR Martin. 10/10

Good short Sci Fi.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on November 22, 2011, 11:15:31 PM
I'll rate the last 2, as they'll get the same rating: 6/10. Divided Allegiance and Oath of Gold by Elizabeth Moon - they're the last 2 books of a trilogy I started this summer. Decent fantasy. I think the world could have been explored in more depth, or at least been developed more. I love that it's a spin on the traditional "lost prince finds his rightful place" story. Or rather, I love the spin Moon puts on it. It gets too religiousy in parts, and the whole "I do what I'm told by the gods" thing dropped my enjoyment of it in the last book. It made me wonder what sort of story could be told with an irreligious paladin, though.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Grimner on November 23, 2011, 06:58:13 PM
Could possibly be a bit of a rant and sorry for the English speakers here, but:

Kompaniet 1 (Vida) & 2 (Demon) - Erik Braathen 10/10

Barely published, got them as .pdf files. The sci-fi elements needs work but they are few and far between. It is the emotional roller-coasters that got me. Hardly "great literature" but so much raw feeling and tension that it didn't matter. Yeah, sci-fi with humans, it happens.

Why no publishing? Well, a few possible answers:
- it is a sci-fi book
- there is a lot of gore (not counting Sao Paulo)
- humans killing humans is discussed
- twenty young girls are thrown into a situation they have barely any preparation for
- one fourty-year old loser with a gun interest and a troubled past goes with them

My guess is that the publishers said maybe to the first three points, but didn't bother reading past the last two. Their loss.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on November 23, 2011, 09:04:37 PM
Could possibly be a bit of a rant and sorry for the English speakers here, but:

Kompaniet 1 (Vida) & 2 (Demon) - Erik Braathen 10/10

Barely published, got them as .pdf files. The sci-fi elements needs work but they are few and far between. It is the emotional roller-coasters that got me. Hardly "great literature" but so much raw feeling and tension that it didn't matter. Yeah, sci-fi with humans, it happens.

Why no publishing? Well, a few possible answers:
- it is a sci-fi book
- there is a lot of gore (not counting Sao Paulo)
- humans killing humans is discussed
- twenty young girls are thrown into a situation they have barely any preparation for
- one fourty-year old loser with a gun interest and a troubled past goes with them

My guess is that the publishers said maybe to the first three points, but didn't bother reading past the last two. Their loss.
any chance they might be translated to English, or should i not hold my breath?

alternatively, i could just learn the language they're in... :P
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Grimner on November 25, 2011, 01:21:33 PM
Holding your breath on this would lead to irreparable brain damage. I'm chomping at the bit to tear into it (both translating and polishing the rough parts), but the work is released under a creative commons license and the author is something of a crack shot.

Damn, it even has a good dancing scene...
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Parrot on November 26, 2011, 04:03:29 PM
I just finished reading a couple of old science fiction novels from the 30's by an author named John Campbell.  They were terrible, especially the dialog.  I want to quote one unintentionally funny moment that struck me as extra facepalm worthy.  This is from the book "Islands Of Space".  Here, Arcot is beginning to communicate with an alien that they've just met.  They've done the usual pointing to themselves and saying their names.  The alien is from a muscular species, and his name is Torlos.  After they get their names down he wants to convey something else:

Quote
Then he pointed to the comparatively thin arms of the Earthman, and to his own.  Then he pointed to Arcot's head and to the mechanism he wore on his back, then to his own head, and went through the motions of walking with great effort.

Again he pointed at Arcot's head, nodding his own in approval.

Arcot understood immediately what was meant.

 :laugh:

Really?  Arcot worked out this little convoluted game of charades right away?? 

I had to pause after this point before it was explained, the statement that he "understood immediately understood what was meant" surprised me and stopped me right there.  I went back a little and read the whole thing over to see if I could guess what the meaning was.  I got nothing, I guess Arcot must really be a genius after all!

Here's the whole paragraph:

Quote
Arcot understood immediately what was meant.  The alien had indicated that the Earthman was comparatively weak, but that he had no need of muscle, for he made his head and his machines work for him. And he had decided that the head was better!

 :laugh:

OF COURSE!  Why didn't I get that before? That's OBVIOUSLY what he was saying, I don't know how I could have ever been confused!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on November 26, 2011, 05:33:10 PM
I just finished reading a couple of old science fiction novels from the 30's by an author named John Campbell.  They were terrible, especially the dialog.  I want to quote one unintentionally funny moment that struck me as extra facepalm worthy.  This is from the book "Islands Of Space".  Here, Arcot is beginning to communicate with an alien that they've just met.  They've done the usual pointing to themselves and saying their names.  The alien is from a muscular species, and his name is Torlos.  After they get their names down he wants to convey something else:

Quote
Then he pointed to the comparatively thin arms of the Earthman, and to his own.  Then he pointed to Arcot's head and to the mechanism he wore on his back, then to his own head, and went through the motions of walking with great effort.

Again he pointed at Arcot's head, nodding his own in approval.

Arcot understood immediately what was meant.

 :laugh:

Really?  Arcot worked out this little convoluted game of charades right away?? 

I had to pause after this point before it was explained, the statement that he "understood immediately understood what was meant" surprised me and stopped me right there.  I went back a little and read the whole thing over to see if I could guess what the meaning was.  I got nothing, I guess Arcot must really be a genius after all!

Here's the whole paragraph:

Quote
Arcot understood immediately what was meant.  The alien had indicated that the Earthman was comparatively weak, but that he had no need of muscle, for he made his head and his machines work for him. And he had decided that the head was better!

 :laugh:

OF COURSE!  Why didn't I get that before? That's OBVIOUSLY what he was saying, I don't know how I could have ever been confused!
That's pretty brilliant.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on December 02, 2011, 03:08:29 PM
Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Are Next to Worthless, and You Can Do Better - Dan Gardner
8 out 10

I downloaded this book on the bus leaving NYC after last years NECSS. Dan gave a great talk and it really should not have taken me this long to finish it. I think because it was stretched out almost a year I probably missed a lot of connections. More then once I had to look up what a fox and hedgehog meant. That said it is really well done. It was a little weird on the kindle because the last 20% of the book is all notes/ bibliography... But it's filled with so many interesting tid bits that it must have been awesome to research. I recommended it.


ETA it was NECSS this year, but after seeing a thing for next years, got confused.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on December 02, 2011, 03:36:56 PM
Graphic Novel:  Superman vs. Muhammad Ali From the '70s

(http://i76.photobucket.com/albums/j21/amysrevenge/supe.jpg)

7/10

Kinda trippy, and a lot of it felt contrived (but then, they've been contriving ways to make Superman vulnerable for decades), but it was kinda neat.

Yes, they manage to find a way to make a boxing match between the two work.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on December 02, 2011, 03:43:21 PM
Mind if I ask how they made that work?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on December 02, 2011, 03:46:29 PM
First, put up some sort of bogus "red sun" light source.

Second, use time-slowing tricks to give Ali a couple of weeks to train Supe on how to box.

Third, ???

Fourth, profit.

(There is this awesome bit where Supe uses a rope-a-dope trick to get the alien ships to use up all their energy pummelling him before he blasts them to bits.)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on December 02, 2011, 03:47:52 PM
There was also a humourous bit about how the aliens want Supe to box in his cape because aliens have a hard time telling humans apart from each other.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on December 02, 2011, 04:18:51 PM
Mind if I ask how they made that work?
Um, look at the author. NEAL ADAMS SUCKAS. They were probably fighting in a hollow earth!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Caffiene on December 05, 2011, 11:42:23 PM
Metro 2033 - Dmitry Glukhovsky
8/10

Very interesting... Its a pretty unique (at least that Ive come across) post apocalyptic setting, and uses it to explore motivation and faith within a Heroes Journey type storyline. Its got some great skeptical ideas, where the young main character meets a variety of people with different religious and political ideas of how the apocalypse happened and what the future holds, and the relative merits of each one (or the lack of real difference).

The writing was a little strange at time, which I can overlook because afaik its translated from Russian, and the copy I read had some editing issues with typos and some sentences that didnt quite make sense or ran into the next sentence. If those are common to all the editions Id maybe take it down to a 7 or 6 rating, but I think the underlying story was an 8.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on December 06, 2011, 09:03:28 PM
Go-go girls of the apocalypse -Victor Gischler
8 out of 10

Greatest title ever. You read it and instantly want to know what is going on in that world? While a fun read, was not ground breaking in anyway. It was is very much like fallout new Vegas and in my mind kept picturing the new Vegas world even though much of it takes place in Tennessee.  It starts off a little darker then some of his other books and was not as funny but still the characters where likeable enough and the world interesting enough to stay along for the ride.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on December 08, 2011, 11:09:11 AM
Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton, read by John Lee (http://www.audible.com/pd?asin=B002V5BDXK)

Judas Unchained by Peter F. Hamilton, read by John Lee (http://www.audible.com/pd?asin=B002V0QZL0)

9.5/10

Blurb (PS):
(click to show/hide)

Blurb (JU):
(click to show/hide)


Soooo good.  The story itself is one of my favourite types - SF detective story, with politics and technology and space battles.  The characters are delightful, and the action and situations are creative and interesting.  Wonderful setting, excellent pace, suspense, surprises, everything.

The narrator is excellent; one of my favourites.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on December 08, 2011, 11:26:10 AM
Sounds awesome!! My non-fiction stack is tall, but my fiction stack is way too short. I try to alternate. I'm totally going to pick those up.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on December 08, 2011, 11:35:25 AM
It's reminiscent in style to Leviathan Wakes, one of my previous reviews.  I think I like it even better than LW.  VERY big books, which is Hamilton's style.  The audiobooks are similar in length to a Wheel of Time - 5 parts for each book, 7-8 hours per part.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: T.A.P.O.R. on December 08, 2011, 05:35:19 PM
Sounds awesome!! My non-fiction stack is tall, but my fiction stack is way too short. I try to alternate. I'm totally going to pick those up.

I'd also recommend his earlier space opera "nights dawn" trilogy.
His style is solid. Though he does spend a lot of text on sexy time.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on December 25, 2011, 08:53:04 AM
Packing for Mars, Mary Roach  9 out of 10

A pleasure to read, funny, interesting and gross.  My only complaint is that of the kindle that I read it on. The book ends around 82% and then it's all the footnotes, I really wish e-books would find a better way of doing these. I don't see why they are put at the end of the book and not at the bottom of the page like real books? If I try and read the footnotes after I finished the book I've missed the context for all of them, it just doesn't make sense?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: DG on December 25, 2011, 03:47:59 PM
Moj: I agree - I don't see why they can't use footnotes the same way that they use dictionary definitions (a pop-up when you run the cursor over the number). Although, from memory, you can click on the number and jump to the relevant endnote, then simply press "back" to return to your place in the original text.

On Topic:
Theft of Swords by Michael J Sullivan  - 8 / 10

Fantasy novel about 2 thieves who are employed to steal a sword. When they turn up to steal the sword, things rapidly spin out of control and they find themselves facing charges of Treason.

The 2 main characters are likeable and reasonably plausible, speech is reasonably well balanced and the world is interesting yet comfortably familiar.

I acquired the second book in the series immediately after finishing the first (despite having returned from holidays and having another book lined up to read). So maybe the 8 rating should have been an 8.5 or 9.

Blood of Requiem by Daniel Arenson 6.5 / 10

Fantasy Novel about shape-shifting dragons. In ages past the Vir Requis (Shape-shifting dragons) lived in a large citadel and basically did their own thing. A disgruntled member of the community left and built up and army to wipe out the Vir Requis, using his knowledge of their weakness. Now, a decade later, only one Vir Requis remains. He seeks out his kin, following rumours of sightings and the likes. As he searches, the new ruler of the land finds out about the one remaining Vir Requis and sets out finish what he had started.

A reasonable read. I knocked this book (and the remainder of the series) in a couple of days lying on the beach - nothing too deep that one must ponder, fight scenes, lust, wonder, betrayal - the usual suspects. I enjoyed it, but would recommend theft of Swords above this Series.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on December 25, 2011, 04:26:25 PM
Cool, I won Theft of Swords in a contest; it's in my backpack right now. Looking forward to it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on December 25, 2011, 10:50:23 PM
Packing for Mars, Mary Roach  9 out of 10

I loved that book, as well as her book about death, "Stiff." I redid "Mars" as an audio book and had to pull over from time to time from laughing so hard.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on December 26, 2011, 10:36:11 PM
"The Plundered Planet", Paul Collier

Out of my comfort zone.  I learned a lot about economics and certainly opened my eyes as to how these things work.  I listened to the author interviewed on Econ Talk.  The man knows his stuff and the book is centred about the research he, collegues and students have done about Africa and the "bottom billion" (another of his titles).  I think Citzen Skeptic would enjoy this book.

However, I disagree with him on his strategy for agriculture.  He is disengenous with his reference to GM "grains".  He should have said maize, as this is the only GM grain.  His big scale agriculture is unlikely to be a winner in Africa, I would think. 

Other than that, I would reccommend this book to anyone concerened about how natural (renewable and non) are distributed and the assets derived from them are invested.  And everyone should be concerned and educate themselves about this (professor Collier's view, and mine).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on December 30, 2011, 01:46:21 AM
Dawkins "The Magic of Reality", 5 out of 5 for the right reader, 3 out of 5 for the well read.  Not the best xmas gift for me.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Lancezh on January 04, 2012, 05:36:02 AM
apathy and other small victories (http://www.amazon.com/Moonwalking-Einstein-Science-Remembering-Everything/dp/159420229X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1318409364&sr=8-1

[url=http://www.amazon.com/Apathy-Other-Small-Victories-Neilan/dp/0312352190/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1318409593&sr=1-1) 9/10 I'm not finished yet but 86% done. This book is fucking hilarious. It's a fast paced fictional book about a jaded 20something who drink's a lot of cheap beer. Yes this could be any 20something but made me LOL a lot.

Orderd =)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on January 04, 2012, 03:33:00 PM
ops, well I guess it doesn't matter if you already ordered it but the link goes to Moonwalking with Einstein, anther good book but not nearly as funny, but not trying to be. here is a link if anyone else is looking for apathy.

http://www.amazon.com/Apathy-Other-Small-Victories-Neilan/dp/0312352190/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1325709014&sr=8-7 (http://www.amazon.com/Apathy-Other-Small-Victories-Neilan/dp/0312352190/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1325709014&sr=8-7)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on January 04, 2012, 07:03:15 PM
Cool, I won Theft of Swords in a contest; it's in my backpack right now. Looking forward to it.

Reading reviews for this book I saw one 5 star review on amazon titled "Greatly Written"

I loled.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on January 04, 2012, 07:07:44 PM
Guess I'll add a review.

11/22/63 - Steven King

8/10. Brief plot description: Guy goes back in time to stop the JFK assassination.

I enjoyed the hell out of it. An interesting take on a time travel story. It was probably a bit longer than it needed to be with about 100 pages that dragged on, but generally it was a fun ride and I had a hard time putting it down.

I was worried about how he might end a book like this, but it turned out better than I expected. Still not a stellar ending, but a solid one I was mostly satisfied with.

In case anyone is worried regarding conspiracy theory stuff King states in the afterword that he believes there is a 99.9% probability Oswald acted alone. Apparently his wife is a conspiracy theorist, though.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 04, 2012, 08:02:51 PM
In case anyone is worried regarding conspiracy theory stuff King states in the afterword that he believes there is a 99.9% probability Oswald acted alone. Apparently his wife is a conspiracy theorist, though.
Despite the crazy stuff he writes, King has always struck me as a pretty down to earth kind of guy in his non-fiction writing. Not normal, but not the kind of guy to take the impossible things he writes about too seriously. I think it might be because he's so familiar with imagination, and creating things up whole cloth.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: wastrel on January 04, 2012, 08:19:18 PM
was probably a bit longer than it needed to be with about 100 pages that dragged on

That has always been King's trademark.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on January 04, 2012, 08:23:27 PM
was probably a bit longer than it needed to be with about 100 pages that dragged on

That has always been King's trademark.

True enough. I find with most of his books the 100 pages that dragged are worth it for the exciting and fun parts.

Reading "Gerald's Game" now and I just got through the draggy part, and got to a point in the book where I literally couldn't help gasping out loud and physically cringing for a good 5 pages while still being unable to put the book down-. I've never had a book do that to me.

Gerald's Game also had a scene that scared me to the point where I couldn't sleep for an hour after reading it. I've definitely never had a book (or any form of fictional media) do that to me.

I wasn't going to review it yet because I'm not done, but since I've already said so much at this point (80% into the book) I'd give it a 6.5/10.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 04, 2012, 08:26:54 PM
was probably a bit longer than it needed to be with about 100 pages that dragged on

That has always been King's trademark.
Considering that the unedited version of The Stand is like 1/3 as long as the originally published work, I can see how you'd think that.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: David E. on January 04, 2012, 09:07:13 PM
Gerald's Game is probably the single most frightening book I've ever read.  It's not a great book, but it does hit hard.



Confessions of a D-list Super-Villain by Jim Bernheimer:  8/10 on the light and fun read-o-meter.

Just a fun little Supers book: decently written, funny and the main character is very well portrayed.  Pick it up for a grin and a chuckle.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 04, 2012, 09:28:41 PM
Gerald's Game is probably the single most frightening book I've ever read.  It's not a great book, but it does hit hard.



Confessions of a D-list Super-Villain by Jim Bernheimer:  8/10 on the light and fun read-o-meter.

Just a fun little Supers book: decently written, funny and the main character is very well portrayed.  Pick it up for a grin and a chuckle.
I have a few superhero books on various wishlists. I have a weakness for them.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: David E. on January 04, 2012, 10:24:31 PM
Gerald's Game is probably the single most frightening book I've ever read.  It's not a great book, but it does hit hard.



Confessions of a D-list Super-Villain by Jim Bernheimer:  8/10 on the light and fun read-o-meter.

Just a fun little Supers book: decently written, funny and the main character is very well portrayed.  Pick it up for a grin and a chuckle.
I have a few superhero books on various wishlists. I have a weakness for them.

Add this one to your list.  Got any recommendations?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 05, 2012, 03:34:38 AM
Add this one to your list.  Got any recommendations?
There are a couple, or at least one, that I have around here somewhere. Lemme see if I can find them...

It's Superman! (http://www.amazon.com/Its-Superman-Tom-Haven/dp/0811844358/ref=sr_1_44?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1325751797&sr=1-44) (I don't remember much about it, except I liked it.)
Who Can Save Us Now? (http://www.amazon.com/Who-Can-Save-Now-Superheroes/dp/B003E7EW0U/ref=sr_1_16?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1325752031&sr=1-16) (A collection of superhero short stories, mostly dystopianish.)
Powerless (http://www.amazon.com/Powerless-Matthew-Cody/dp/B004KAB7VW/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1325752137&sr=1-3) (Kids with superpowers. I listened to the audiobook. I liked it.)

I have After the Golden Age (http://www.amazon.com/After-the-Golden-Age-ebook/dp/B00457X8EE/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2) in my Amazon wish list. I feel like I've read/heard of Carrie Vaughn before, but I can't remember from where. Probably PodCastle or EscapePod.

Oh, and iirc Mur Lafferty has a podiobook (podcast audiobook, the ultimate portmanteau) about superheroes. Aha, yes, Playing For Keeps. (http://www.podiobooks.com/title/playing-for-keeps) I'm not sure I ever finished it, but it's light and fun, and free.

Also, The Secret World Chronicle (http://secretworldchronicle.com/) - it's a collaboration between Mercedes Lackey, Steve Libbey and some other folks. I think I stopped listening at about Season 3, but that's because I was having computer issues. Also light, fun, and free.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on January 07, 2012, 01:42:14 PM
Confessions of a D-list Super-Villain by Jim Bernheimer:  8/10 on the light and fun read-o-meter.

The title seems Venture Bros-ish. If that's true, I'll buy that book immediately.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 08, 2012, 03:52:46 AM
Alloy of Law - Brandon Sanderson. B+
(click to show/hide)

Other than that, though, I WANT MORE.

I like how Sanderson ties in the first Mistborn trilogy with this novel. He's not overt, and the allusions make sense.

(click to show/hide)

eta: Also, Wax and Wayne. GET IT.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on January 08, 2012, 08:22:34 PM
Finished Gerald's Game. I stick by my rating. Best story I've ever read in terms of making me feel the fear and anguish that the character is experiencing, but overall not a great book. The way the story resolved was better than I expected, but the actual ending of the book was a bit weak.

Now I'm reading American Gods. So far I'm enjoying it. Only other Neil Gaiman I've ever read was Good Omens.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on January 09, 2012, 12:19:24 PM
Also just finished Alloy of Law (in audiobook form).  Gets an A from me, mostly because I didn't even notice that it was 36 hours lol.

As I mentioned in my audiobook playlist thread, there is a character that does accents, and the narrator pulls it of marvelously.  He gets an A+.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on January 09, 2012, 12:25:39 PM
Howl's Moving Castle (audiobook) (http://www.audible.com/pd?asin=B002V5BB5U)

Written by Diana Wynn Jones
Performed by Jenny Sterlin

Blurb from Audible:
(click to show/hide)

10/10

My wife and I listened to this in the car on our recent holiday trip, and when we got back home without finishing the story we were both on top of listening while driving anywhere in town until it was finished.

This was a lovely, light-hearted, fun, clever story.  Would be a great crowd pleaser for a group with mixed tastes.  It's definitely a YA story, so don't have any expectation for something different.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 09, 2012, 08:26:54 PM
Also just finished Alloy of Law (in audiobook form).  Gets an A from me, mostly because I didn't even notice that it was 36 hours lol.

As I mentioned in my audiobook playlist thread, there is a character that does accents, and the narrator pulls it of marvelously.  He gets an A+.
(click to show/hide)

It's just a personal peeve of mine, is all - I really can't accept that all of that happened in less than two days, even in a story with magic. Not if I'm also to believe that the heroes are flawed.

Also, Michael Kramer = awesome.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on January 12, 2012, 06:28:44 AM
hard rain  7 out 10

  It's the second of the John Rain thriller series, more of like a modern day ninja/spy story. I really liked "inside out" and am starting from the beginning. They are quick reads and the anti hero likes good scotch so it's kind been an education for me and maybe in part why I'm on a scotch kick.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Skeptress on January 14, 2012, 06:55:09 PM
Stranger in a Strange Land Robert Heinlein 3/10  I first read this as an 18 year old agnostic and loved it.  Only got through it this time because it was audio.  So sexist and un-forward thinking. ETA: Just seems like everyone is freaking brain washed.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Skeptress on January 14, 2012, 06:56:00 PM
Gerald's Game is probably the single most frightening book I've ever read.  It's not a great book, but it does hit hard.

Such a freaky scary story.  Always use play handcuffs folk not the real thing.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: PANTS! on January 14, 2012, 07:54:21 PM
:munch:
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Anders on January 17, 2012, 09:23:26 AM
Under the Dome, Stephen King. 4/5 - this is one of his best books when it comes to establishing a deeply creepy feeling. I actually felt dirty for reading parts of it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on January 17, 2012, 10:50:34 AM
Stranger in a Strange Land Robert Heinlein 3/10  I first read this as an 18 year old agnostic and loved it.  Only got through it this time because it was audio.  So sexist and un-forward thinking. ETA: Just seems like everyone is freaking brain washed.


When I read older works I generally try to keep in mind how much our values have changed. When I read Hesse's, Steppenwolf, I was put off by the racism.


With Stranger I found parts of it sexist, but overall found the work redeeming. I think Heinlein, himself, respected women a great deal, and if anything attributed too much to them in a general sense.


I will have to re-read the book, it's been a while.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on January 17, 2012, 11:05:12 AM
The  Well-Dressed Ape 4/10
The narrative style is the only redeeming part of this book. Much of science content written about comes from studies where there is a glaring lack of peer review collaboration, lack of sample size, or lack of controls. Additionally, the language used is far too assertive given the tentative nature of the claims/studies, and the writer seems to be a bit sexist.



Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 18, 2012, 02:16:07 AM
Stranger in a Strange Land Robert Heinlein 3/10  I first read this as an 18 year old agnostic and loved it.  Only got through it this time because it was audio.  So sexist and un-forward thinking. ETA: Just seems like everyone is freaking brain washed.


When I read older works I generally try to keep in mind how much our values have changed. When I read Hesse's, Steppenwolf, I was put off by the racism.


With Stranger I found parts of it sexist, but overall found the work redeeming. I think Heinlein, himself, respected women a great deal, and if anything attributed too much to them in a general sense.


I will have to re-read the book, it's been a while.
I've read Stranger..., Starship Troopers, and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. I tried reading another of his books, but the misogyny and uber-masculinizing was too head asploding. The three I managed to get through with feminist blinders on are pretty forward thinking in comparison to the fourth book I tried and failed to finish. I can't even remember the name of it. But everything was so freaking sexualized, and hypersexualized, that it made it difficult to care what happened.

I think what he was trying to do was imagine a future in which the sexual revolution was fully realized, and in which sexual mores were completely on their head, but it just comes off as misogyny and uber-masculinization. I'm not saying that I wouldn't want to live in a future where you were able to casually sleep with other people with no adverse social consequences, but that Heinlein wrote it way too in your face, so that the story became more about the sexual exploits of two couples. Only, he was also trying to make it science fiction, too.

(Oh, and his characters tend to be one-dimensional. One dimensional characters aren't necessarily a problem, but they are if you don't have a story or a point to make that's actually interesting.)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on January 18, 2012, 02:25:41 AM
The  Well-Dressed Ape 4/10
The narrative style is the only redeeming part of this book. Much of science content written about comes from studies where there is a glaring lack of peer review collaboration, lack of sample size, or lack of controls. Additionally, the language used is far too assertive given the tentative nature of the claims/studies, and the writer seems to be a bit sexist.

Sounds like Malcolm Gladwell, heh.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on January 18, 2012, 07:14:18 AM
The  Well-Dressed Ape 4/10
The narrative style is the only redeeming part of this book. Much of science content written about comes from studies where there is a glaring lack of peer review collaboration, lack of sample size, or lack of controls. Additionally, the language used is far too assertive given the tentative nature of the claims/studies, and the writer seems to be a bit sexist.

That’s a little depressing; I'm only 7% in. I do like the narrative style but thought of it as more of humorous attempts at light science for the masses.  Haven’t run into to many problems yet, but have not taken a science or biology class in years.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: NotNurseRatched on January 18, 2012, 05:20:42 PM
Packing for Mars by Mary Roach 6/10.

It's sort of a pop science book written for the masses about the science behind NASA and it's space missions.  I did like the book and thought the author has a great sense of humor.  She I thought some of the interviews with some of the cosmonauts were interesting, and I learned a lot about the soviet space program which I didn't know.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: T.A.P.O.R. on January 18, 2012, 05:30:14 PM
Carrying the Fire - Mike Collins (the guy who flew the Columbia on Apollo 11) 10/10

This is the kind of book I've wanted about the space program for a very long time.
Mike writes largely from a first person perspective, but not the sort of self gratifying thing that you might expect.
It's very well written, accessible to the average person but sufficiently technical that it's not dumbed down.

Mike has always been my favourite Astronaut, so I might be biased in my score.  ;D

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Carrying-Fire-Astronauts-Michael-Collins/dp/0374531943 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Carrying-Fire-Astronauts-Michael-Collins/dp/0374531943)
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41oNfYBLShL._SS500_.jpg)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on January 18, 2012, 06:16:48 PM
Packing for Mars by Mary Roach 6/10.

It's sort of a pop science book written for the masses about the science behind NASA and it's space missions.  I did like the book and thought the author has a great sense of humor.  She I thought some of the interviews with some of the cosmonauts were interesting, and I learned a lot about the soviet space program which I didn't know.

She's probably my favorite writer of the moment. I've read several of her other books, and they are all well written, full of humor, and fun to read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 18, 2012, 09:24:00 PM
Packing for Mars by Mary Roach 6/10.

It's sort of a pop science book written for the masses about the science behind NASA and it's space missions.  I did like the book and thought the author has a great sense of humor.  She I thought some of the interviews with some of the cosmonauts were interesting, and I learned a lot about the soviet space program which I didn't know.

She's probably my favorite writer of the moment. I've read several of her other books, and they are all well written, full of humor, and fun to read.
The only one I've been disappointed in was Spook (the one about death, rather than the dead), because in the end she kind of deals with the whole "is there a soul" question kind of flip-floppily, but (imo) biased towards "yes, there's probably a soul". But that happened in the last like five pages, and the rest of the book was a 10, imo. Bonk is my absolute favorite. I've never laughed so hard for so long. I listened to it on a trip to SF a couple years ago. It was the best trip to get art supplies I've ever taken.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on January 18, 2012, 10:19:44 PM
"Bonk" is sitting on my Kindle, and I can't wait to get to it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 18, 2012, 10:21:44 PM
"Bonk" is sitting on my Kindle, and I can't wait to get to it.
I only have the audiobook version, but I encourage you to get to it as quickly as you can, sir.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Skeptress on January 19, 2012, 06:43:11 PM
Packing for Mars by Mary Roach 6/10.

It's sort of a pop science book written for the masses about the science behind NASA and it's space missions.  I did like the book and thought the author has a great sense of humor.  She I thought some of the interviews with some of the cosmonauts were interesting, and I learned a lot about the soviet space program which I didn't know.

This is one of my favorite non-fiction authors. This particular book gets 9/10 from me.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on January 19, 2012, 07:22:43 PM
Packing for Mars by Mary Roach 6/10.

It's sort of a pop science book written for the masses about the science behind NASA and it's space missions.  I did like the book and thought the author has a great sense of humor.  She I thought some of the interviews with some of the cosmonauts were interesting, and I learned a lot about the soviet space program which I didn't know.

This is one of my favorite non-fiction authors. This particular book gets 9/10 from me.

I did it twice, back to back. First, the hard copy, and then the audio book with my wife on a car trip. She loved it too, and I enjoyed it just as much the second time through.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: NotNurseRatched on January 20, 2012, 10:51:27 AM
Packing for Mars by Mary Roach 6/10.

It's sort of a pop science book written for the masses about the science behind NASA and it's space missions.  I did like the book and thought the author has a great sense of humor.  She I thought some of the interviews with some of the cosmonauts were interesting, and I learned a lot about the soviet space program which I didn't know.

She's probably my favorite writer of the moment. I've read several of her other books, and they are all well written, full of humor, and fun to read.

Do you have a recommendation of what to read next by her?  I thought her sense of humor was hilarious.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on January 20, 2012, 11:08:23 AM
Do you have a recommendation of what to read next by her?  I thought her sense of humor was hilarious.

I suspect anything would be good. You might try Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 21, 2012, 02:38:07 AM
Do you have a recommendation of what to read next by her?  I thought her sense of humor was hilarious.
I recommend Bonk. Possibly the funniest of all her works to date.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MessyAndy on January 21, 2012, 01:34:28 PM
The science delusion, by Rupert Sheldrake 0/10.  A crank seeks to justify his crack pot idea.  I learnt that I should always read the free bit on amazon before buying in the future.  I just hope my reviews on there reduce his sales slightly, because his nonsense really wound me up.

Sheldrake commands some respect as a scientist because of his education and degree, however, his continued pose as a scientist on the frontier of discovery is unwarranted. He prefers metaphysics to science, though he seems to think he can do the former but call it the latter. He seeks to deceive the reader into thinking that real skepticism involves being critical of mainstream science while promoting pseudo-scienctifc studies that have no reliable evidence.

The book sets up 10 fundamental beliefs of science and then seeks to disprove them. In fact science has no core beliefs structure since everything is falsifiable but this isn't mentioned. The argument tries to isolate all current understanding to mechanisms. This leaves room for the apparently more natural, human and god wanting notion of creative free-willed life which Sheldrake encapsulates in his idea of "morphic resonance" (Skeptic dictionary is a good place to look this up). This idea is that memory is inherent in nature, if a shape or structure has occurred it makes it easier to happen again. This would suggest the a crossword is easier to do at the end of the day since many other people have done it. If this idea isn't total nonsense then it's doing a very good impression of it. This entire book is an attempt to justify this idea and little more. Sheldrake provides much anecdotal evidence for his ideas and has cherry picked evidence to support him while failing entertain the idea that he could be wrong. He seeks to change science to fit his ideas, rather than changes his ideas to fit reality, he is convinced that morphic resonance is real and this book is the argument for it.

Sheldrake's argument is "science has not accepted my ideas, therefore science is wrong." This is analogous to contestants of talent programs, after clearly demonstrating they have no talent, the contestant argues with judges. Since it must be the judges and the system that is wrong, never them. He makes many false assumptions and claims about science as a belief system, and he doesn't address the central idea that science is evidence based knowledge that seeks to proves itself wrong. This fundamental idea separates scientific knowledge from nonsense, but his argument steers him well away from science. Hence his ideas are worse than wrong, they are not even wrong, he has just made up something that does not fit with reality and is therefore useless and his delusions should not be inflicted on the public. He should not blame science for this, only himself. If only he could be as critical of himself as he attempts to be critical of science he would realise his ideas and his whole argument is nonsense.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on January 21, 2012, 02:37:14 PM
If people feel so inclined they should go to amazon and find the review above "helpful". Amazon orders reviews on their site in terms of which one has the highest percentage/number of "helpful" ratings.

Link:
http://www.amazon.com/Science-Delusion-Rupert-Sheldrake/product-reviews/1444727931/ref=cm_cr_dp_hist_1?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&filterBy=addOneStar (http://www.amazon.com/Science-Delusion-Rupert-Sheldrake/product-reviews/1444727931/ref=cm_cr_dp_hist_1?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&filterBy=addOneStar)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: T.A.P.O.R. on January 21, 2012, 03:37:24 PM
(click to show/hide)
A crank seeks to justify his crack pot idea.  I learnt that I should always read the free bit on amazon before buying in the future.  I just hope my reviews on there reduce his sales slightly, because his nonsense really wound me up.
(click to show/hide)

This happened to me on Uriel's Machine.
Oh the anger.
Oh the blood pressure!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 21, 2012, 04:24:32 PM
If people feel so inclined they should go to amazon and find the review above "helpful". Amazon orders reviews on their site in terms of which one has the highest percentage/number of "helpful" ratings.

Link:
http://www.amazon.com/Science-Delusion-Rupert-Sheldrake/product-reviews/1444727931/ref=cm_cr_dp_hist_1?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&filterBy=addOneStar (http://www.amazon.com/Science-Delusion-Rupert-Sheldrake/product-reviews/1444727931/ref=cm_cr_dp_hist_1?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&filterBy=addOneStar)
Done.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on January 21, 2012, 04:44:32 PM
If people feel so inclined they should go to amazon and find the review above "helpful". Amazon orders reviews on their site in terms of which one has the highest percentage/number of "helpful" ratings.

Link:
http://www.amazon.com/Science-Delusion-Rupert-Sheldrake/product-reviews/1444727931/ref=cm_cr_dp_hist_1?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&filterBy=addOneStar (http://www.amazon.com/Science-Delusion-Rupert-Sheldrake/product-reviews/1444727931/ref=cm_cr_dp_hist_1?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&filterBy=addOneStar)
Done.

Cool. With yours it's now on the front page. If 1 more person reviews it as "helpful" it will be the second review on the front page. 10 more and it will be the first review people see.

That's assuming no non-skeptical folk jump on and start rating reviews in the meantime.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MessyAndy on January 22, 2012, 06:14:21 AM
Thank you so much for the support.  It's on the UK amazon site as well, some of the comments I got were amusing.:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R2X0YMCBFGRZLF/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt#R2X0YMCBFGRZLF (http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R2X0YMCBFGRZLF/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt#R2X0YMCBFGRZLF)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 23, 2012, 12:35:43 AM
Thank you so much for the support.  It's on the UK amazon site as well, some of the comments I got were amusing.:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R2X0YMCBFGRZLF/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt#R2X0YMCBFGRZLF (http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R2X0YMCBFGRZLF/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt#R2X0YMCBFGRZLF)
Every time someone says "morphic resonance" I think they're talking about a Terry Pratchett novel.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Skeptress on January 25, 2012, 10:34:28 PM
A Game of Thrones 7/10.  I don't know why people were hating on this book or calling it boring.  I found it a pretty fast read after the first 200 pages  :laugh:
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on January 25, 2012, 11:06:51 PM
Yeah, the first few hundred went pretty slow, but the next several hundred got better. By the few hundred after that, I was hooked.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on January 26, 2012, 06:48:56 AM
A Game of Thrones 7/10.  I don't know why people were hating on this book or calling it boring.  I found it a pretty fast read after the first 200 pages  :laugh:

Keep going.. It only gets better. The third one is easily the best in the series. I wish I could read that book for the first time again.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: NotNurseRatched on January 26, 2012, 02:49:42 PM
A Game of Thrones 7/10.  I don't know why people were hating on this book or calling it boring.  I found it a pretty fast read after the first 200 pages  :laugh:


I felt the same way about the book.  I picked up the second one and haven't started reading it yet.  I was wondering if anyone else has and if it starts out as slow as the first one?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on January 26, 2012, 03:29:28 PM
I don't get this 'slow read' thing.


I found the entire series pretty well written and paced. Compared to Lord of the Rings, GRRM is light and breezy and action packed, and *gasp* interesting.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Guillermo on January 26, 2012, 03:51:51 PM
Alice in wonderland by Lewis Carrol. 3 out of 5. It's overrated.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 26, 2012, 04:38:04 PM
A Game of Thrones 7/10.  I don't know why people were hating on this book or calling it boring.  I found it a pretty fast read after the first 200 pages  :laugh:


I felt the same way about the book.  I picked up the second one and haven't started reading it yet.  I was wondering if anyone else has and if it starts out as slow as the first one?
I didn't get past the first few chapters; if memory serves, yeah, it was a bit of a struggle to get re-interested in the book.

I don't get this 'slow read' thing.


I found the entire series pretty well written and paced. Compared to Lord of the Rings, GRRM is light and breezy and action packed, and *gasp* interesting.
There's too much going on. I got confused with all the Houses and who they were aligned with and who they used to be aligned with and who I should be rooting for and who wanted to kill who and who was making the Dragon angry and who was related to whom and who wanted to take over the world. It's not that it's not interesting, I was just overwhelmed. I need a flowchart for the story, and that made it less compelling for me. I'm trying to get through it again, but I'm finding it exhausting.

I will get through it, though, because I think it's well-done fantasy. Very well written.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on January 26, 2012, 07:26:35 PM
It's so hard to find a really good book that when I do stumble on one, I want it to last a long time. The longer, the better.

My dream is to discover a good author I've never heard of before who has already written a bunch of novels Wilbur Smith was a good find. George R. R. Martin is another, even though I'm not a big fantasy fan.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on January 26, 2012, 07:47:57 PM
It's so hard to find a really good book that when I do stumble on one, I want it to last a long time. The longer, the better.

My dream is to discover a good author I've never heard of before who has already written a bunch of novels Wilbur Smith was a good find. George R. R. Martin is another, even though I'm not a big fantasy fan.

Wilbur Smith, eh? Where might one start?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on January 26, 2012, 09:38:52 PM
 I think "River God" is probably his best novel. It's a stand-alone, where most of his are series. (Although R.G. has a couple of sequals that are not as page-turningly good as the first.)

Smith is South African, and all of his novels have some connection with that continent. “River God” is set in ancient Egypt.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on January 27, 2012, 09:10:55 AM
Alice in wonderland by Lewis Carrol. 3 out of 5. It's overratedold, therefore by definition it's good.

FTFY
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on January 27, 2012, 10:03:31 AM
It's so hard to find a really good book that when I do stumble on one, I want it to last a long time. The longer, the better.

My dream is to discover a good author I've never heard of before who has already written a bunch of novels Wilbur Smith was a good find. George R. R. Martin is another, even though I'm not a big fantasy fan.


Have you tried the Prince of Nothing series?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on January 27, 2012, 10:10:13 AM
The Magicians: Lev Grossman 6/10


Some minor inconsistencies, develops late (could have cut 100 pages or more), but overall a worthwhile read if you're a fan of Narnia (I was when I was a kid), Potter or Tolkien.


Never really felt the world, so in a sense, the book fails at a very basic level in that it isn't as visceral as Tolkien and isn't cerebral enough like the PoN series (no explanation of magic is really given or even explored).


[edit] Forgot to mention, this is sort of the buddhist narnia.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on January 27, 2012, 10:26:11 AM

Have you tried the Prince of Nothing series?

Sounds interesting. I may give it a go, even though it means (yet another) fantasy series.

Another well written series is S. M. Stirling's Emberverse series (8 books and counting), which imagines a present day world in which all machinery stops working. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Emberverse_series (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Emberverse_series)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on January 27, 2012, 10:45:07 AM

Have you tried the Prince of Nothing series?

Sounds interesting. I may give it a go, even though it means (yet another) fantasy series.

Another well written series is S. M. Stirling's Emberverse series (8 books and counting), which imagines a present day world in which all machinery stops working. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Emberverse_series (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Emberverse_series)


Sounds good, I think I will look for it in bargin bins or the library and it give it a go once I am done my current read: Denalism
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on January 27, 2012, 07:16:42 PM
"The Shallows", Nicholas Carr.  10/10.  Well researched and cited.  Significantly relevant.  Almost scary... I'll spend more time reading books.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on January 27, 2012, 07:48:46 PM
"Moonwalking With Einstein." Good book about memory and how it works.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lukebourassa on January 31, 2012, 12:01:10 PM
"Uncommon Grounds: The History Of Coffee And How It Transformed Our World," Mark Pendergrast  7/10

Thorough book. More info than you probably want, but it rarely gets too bogged down by details. This book might be significantly less interesting to non-coffee drinkers, but as an avid java fan, I found it engrossing.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on February 05, 2012, 03:49:34 PM
"Wheat Belly" William Davis MD.  A cardiologist's look at his diatetic method of successfully treating heart disease, the positive side effects and a few few recipies at the end.  Maybe the main theme of the book is that even though celiac disease is important, gluten isn't what nearly everyone should rid themselves; wheat is a problem on many fronts.  I am not a celiac or gluten sensitive, but this book makes me think I did the correct diatary change a couple of years ago, dropping wheat products from mydiet.

I give it a 9/10.  It's written by an american, for america, so some of the humo(u)r is a little american.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: DG on February 05, 2012, 07:17:10 PM
I'm reading Flim Flam (James Rand) on the Kindle.

The book is a little aged - a big focus on things that were more relevant when the book was first published and is littered with minor typographical and publication errors. Including a reference to the sun being 8.3 light-years away (as opposed to light-minutes) and numbers missing from lines of text (the reader is left to guess what number should be in the gap on the page). I am sure it is simply a consequence of the electronic conversion of the text, however it detracts a little for the reading experience.

I don't recommend the book - not because of the errors, simply because the material has aged. Fraudsters and hucksters of yesteryear are put to task and while the criticisms hold true for their contemporary equivalents I would look for a more recent text looking at the same topic if one were so inclined.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: AQB24712 on February 05, 2012, 07:21:35 PM
I'm reading Flim Flam (James Rand) on the Kindle.

A recent review by someone you know. (http://abookadaythatsallweask.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/flim-flam-by-james-randi-3-stars/)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on February 05, 2012, 07:22:18 PM
Well, the sun used to be much further away back then.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: DG on February 05, 2012, 08:30:21 PM
I'm reading Flim Flam (James Rand) on the Kindle.

A recent review by someone you know. (http://abookadaythatsallweask.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/flim-flam-by-james-randi-3-stars/)

Yeah - What JohnnySlick said. Not a poor book, but an aged one. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on February 12, 2012, 10:29:20 PM
Asleep, Molly Caldwell Crosby 8/10


Ms Crosby is an incredible writer. Really enjoyed this book and found it terrifying. A highly recommended read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Jolimont on February 13, 2012, 03:41:02 PM
I just finished a book I was sure I'd hate (but it was for the book club so I tried it regardless) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. A great book, touching, informative, well written, great characters, I couldn't put it down!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on February 13, 2012, 03:51:23 PM
Memories of the Future, Vol. 1; Wil Wheaton

10/10

I'd already listened to the podcasts, but the book holds even more fun, snark, and anecdotes.  It helps that I'm already a huge @wilw fan, and a long-time Trekkie, but I think that anyone with a fondness for ST:TNG would enjoy this (especially those who think that the show didn't really take off until the second season and really struggled in the first season).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Monster92 on February 15, 2012, 05:45:57 PM
History of Western Philosophy


http://www.amazon.co.uk/RC-Bundle-Philosophy-Routledge-Classics/dp/0415325056/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329345905&sr=1-1 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/RC-Bundle-Philosophy-Routledge-Classics/dp/0415325056/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329345905&sr=1-1)

Awesome book. Changed my views on life
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on February 15, 2012, 06:01:40 PM
History of Western Philosophy


http://www.amazon.co.uk/RC-Bundle-Philosophy-Routledge-Classics/dp/0415325056/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329345905&sr=1-1 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/RC-Bundle-Philosophy-Routledge-Classics/dp/0415325056/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329345905&sr=1-1)

Awesome book. Changed my views on life

Read that years ago, but I don't recall much about it other than liking it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on February 18, 2012, 10:59:49 AM
The Strain 3/10 : goodthink said smilingly, "The writing was badly done. With achingly badly poorly done adjectives and unnecessary redundancies". However, gets marks for concept.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on February 18, 2012, 09:27:34 PM
Just finished Capt. William Anderson's "The Ice Diaries," an excellent account of the first trip to the North Pole by the USS Nautilus,--a venture much more risky and challenging than I'd realized.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Lyk on February 18, 2012, 09:43:38 PM
"Herr aller Dinge" ("Lord of all things") by Andreas Eschbach.

10/10

Honestly, one of the best SciFi-books I have ever read, and I read A LOT. The story feels extremely credible and authentic, yet deals with nano-technology, grey goo scenarios, the most devastating sad ending ever, and is after all a love story.

Unfortunately it has not been translated yet and is of now, only available in German. For some reason his works usually get translated into russian, french, chinese, and whatnot, but not English. If you want really good SciFi, write to your publisher and demand a translation, you have no idea what you folks are missing out there.

http://www.amazon.de/Herr-aller-Dinge-Andreas-Eschbach/dp/3785724292/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329619411&sr=8-1 (http://www.amazon.de/Herr-aller-Dinge-Andreas-Eschbach/dp/3785724292/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329619411&sr=8-1)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on February 19, 2012, 08:21:44 PM
"Feynman's Rainbow", Mlodinow.  9/10.  Great insight into life at Cal Tech and the last few years of a great individual.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on February 22, 2012, 12:33:57 AM
A Game of Thrones. wtf/10. This wasn't my first time reading it, but I TOTALLY forgot the end scene.  :aaa:
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: T.A.P.O.R. on February 22, 2012, 12:39:59 AM
A Game of Thrones. wtf/10. This wasn't my first time reading it, but I TOTALLY forgot the end scene.  :aaa:

I've read it a few times, NFI what happens at the end.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on February 22, 2012, 12:52:25 AM
A Game of Thrones. wtf/10. This wasn't my first time reading it, but I TOTALLY forgot the end scene.  :aaa:

I've read it a few times, NFI what happens at the end.
(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: T.A.P.O.R. on February 22, 2012, 12:59:53 AM
A Game of Thrones. wtf/10. This wasn't my first time reading it, but I TOTALLY forgot the end scene.  :aaa:

I've read it a few times, NFI what happens at the end.
(click to show/hide)

Oh that!

I thought that was book two.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on February 25, 2012, 01:38:54 PM

Have you tried the Prince of Nothing series?

Sounds interesting. I may give it a go, even though it means (yet another) fantasy series.

Another well written series is S. M. Stirling's Emberverse series (8 books and counting), which imagines a present day world in which all machinery stops working. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Emberverse_series (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Emberverse_series)

Just started reading this. Really enjoying it so far. I love post apocalyptic stuff. Read mixed things about the progression of the series, and that makes me sad because the concept has so much potential.

I'll keep reading, though.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on February 26, 2012, 01:13:04 AM
You can get the entire Ember series through Chapters for like.. 20 bucks.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on February 26, 2012, 11:06:44 PM
I started that series, but have yet to continue it. I might continue it eventually, but despite my love of dystopias and post-apocalypses it couldn't hold my attention for very long. :/
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on February 26, 2012, 11:08:03 PM
You can get the entire Ember series through Chapters for like.. 20 bucks.
Is this the .indigo.ca site?

Interesting. I can get the 1st four books of A Song of Ice and Fire for $15. eta: wait, I see 15.04 in the "50 bestsellers" page, but 29.99 on the book's page. wtf.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on February 27, 2012, 09:17:00 AM
You can get the entire Ember series through Chapters for like.. 20 bucks.
Is this the .indigo.ca site?

Interesting. I can get the 1st four books of A Song of Ice and Fire for $15. eta: wait, I see 15.04 in the "50 bestsellers" page, but 29.99 on the book's page. wtf.


You might be getting a quote from their used books. The Emberverse series is $20 used for all the books. I should have been clearer on that point.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on February 27, 2012, 04:21:40 PM
You can get the entire Ember series through Chapters for like.. 20 bucks.
Is this the .indigo.ca site?

Interesting. I can get the 1st four books of A Song of Ice and Fire for $15. eta: wait, I see 15.04 in the "50 bestsellers" page, but 29.99 on the book's page. wtf.


You might be getting a quote from their used books. The Emberverse series is $20 used for all the books. I should have been clearer on that point.
I was looking in their ebook section. :(
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on February 27, 2012, 07:23:31 PM
I'm giving Worsely's "Shackleton's Boat Journey" 10/10.  Either Antarctic exploration was entirely fiction, or men don't cut it anymore.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: T.A.P.O.R. on February 27, 2012, 07:28:22 PM
I'm giving Worsely's "Shackleton's Boat Journey" 10/10.  Either Antarctic exploration was entirely fiction, or men don't cut it anymore.

I'd say option two.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on February 27, 2012, 07:44:34 PM
I'm giving Worsely's "Shackleton's Boat Journey" 10/10.  Either Antarctic exploration was entirely fiction, or men don't do stupid things like that anymore.
ftfy. We haz teh staellites and teknologies, we don't need to risk our lives as much.

I'm not saying it didn't take balls to explore, but just because explorers are exploring more intelligently doesn't mean they 'aren't cutting it.' Frankly, I'd rather have a man who thought these things through rather than rashly heading out into the unknown wilds. You kind of had to do that back in the day, but now you don't.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on February 27, 2012, 11:34:47 PM
I'm giving Worsely's "Shackleton's Boat Journey" 10/10.  Either Antarctic exploration was entirely fiction, or men don't do stupid things like that anymore.
ftfy. We haz teh staellites and teknologies, we don't need to risk our lives as much.

I'm not saying it didn't take balls to explore, but just because explorers are exploring more intelligently doesn't mean they 'aren't cutting it.' Frankly, I'd rather have a man who thought these things through rather than rashly heading out into the unknown wilds. You kind of had to do that back in the day, but now you don't.

Well, in this case (and in the case of Roald Amundson) these parties didn't rashly head out into unknown wilds.  This particular expedition was thoroughly well planned, equipped and the individuals involved were the best in the business.  Worsley was as good a seafaring navigator in 1914 that existed and Shackelton's reputation as a skilled antarctic leader remains to the day.  The men were mostly brought up in a rather harder world than we know, even the scientists.   

And actually, I probably misspeak, as I personally met two handsome young Norweigians when they finished their unsupported (with no way of contacting the world if things went awry) trip accross the continent  of Antarctica (2003/4), completing the longest unsupported (overland) journey in history, anywhere.  And people continue to do these things in the mountains, deserts and oceans.  I should have said they could have put all the big outdoor adventures I have had in their back pocket.

And once again, my dietary biases were confirmed as the men pretty much ate nothing but seal, penguin and dried milk for nearly two years with only the loss of a few toes on one sailor from frostbite.  I couldn't have found my way to South Georgia as well with a GPS as Worsely did with his watch, sextant and a pencil in their 22 foot wooden boat.  I remain amazed... and proud that Worsley was a Kiwi.  They took pictures as well.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on February 28, 2012, 08:59:48 PM
The deputy, it's a modern western/adventure. It was fun and fast paced, if not a little sophomoric. Very refreshing after the epic sludge of american gods. The deputy was by no means art but enjoyable and could see it as a movie.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on February 28, 2012, 09:03:05 PM
The deputy, it's a modern western/adventure. It was fun and fast paced, if not a little sophomoric. Very refreshing after the epic sludge of american gods. The deputy was by no means art but enjoyable and could see it as a movie.

You're a quick reader. Or are you a quick listener?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on February 28, 2012, 09:13:01 PM
A reader, thanks.  I have to many podcast to listen too to start cutting into my listening time with books. This was a really short book, the kindle doesn't give me page numbers but seemed to change % every third kindle turn. I need t pad my numbers if I'm going to get 50 this year.  :P
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on February 28, 2012, 09:31:09 PM
A reader, thanks.  I have to many podcast to listen too to start cutting into my listening time with books. This was a really short book, the kindle doesn't give me page numbers but seemed to change % every third kindle turn. I need t pad my numbers if I'm going to get 50 this year.  :P

Based on the kindle app for iphone (which probably has less words to the page) a % every third kindle turn equates to about 100 pages. I'd guess it's about twice as much.

But actually you can see how many pages a book has before you buy it, even as a kindle book.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Deputy-ebook/dp/B005307N7U/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1330482578&sr=1-1 (http://www.amazon.com/The-Deputy-ebook/dp/B005307N7U/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1330482578&sr=1-1)

If you look at that link right under the various prices it says "Length: 249 pages".

Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on February 28, 2012, 11:51:31 PM
I'm 34% into A Clash of Kings. I've noticed that there are certain characters that Martin doesn't give perspective (aren't a named chapter). I'm guessing these are the people who survive ultimately. I like the device, and think Martin is using it effectively.

The great thing about my Kindle Fire is that I can read it in the dark. It's a little hard to see in daylight, but I'm hardly ever in sunlight, so it's not that big of a bother. And I still have my semi-functioning Kindle w/ e-ink tech, so if it ever becomes a problem, I can use that one. Or bring a paper book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on February 29, 2012, 07:08:40 AM
I just bought a Playbook (16gb) for my ereader. Works really well so far, and price-wise, it's about the same as I would spend on a Kobo touch or Kindle and it's a better tablet (imo and many others) than the Ipad.


I have more books on the damn thing than I think I will ever have time to read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on February 29, 2012, 07:09:47 AM
I'm giving Worsely's "Shackleton's Boat Journey" 10/10.  Either Antarctic exploration was entirely fiction, or men don't do stupid things like that anymore.
ftfy. We haz teh staellites and teknologies, we don't need to risk our lives as much.

I'm not saying it didn't take balls to explore, but just because explorers are exploring more intelligently doesn't mean they 'aren't cutting it.' Frankly, I'd rather have a man who thought these things through rather than rashly heading out into the unknown wilds. You kind of had to do that back in the day, but now you don't.

Well, in this case (and in the case of Roald Amundson) these parties didn't rashly head out into unknown wilds.  This particular expedition was thoroughly well planned, equipped and the individuals involved were the best in the business.  Worsley was as good a seafaring navigator in 1914 that existed and Shackelton's reputation as a skilled antarctic leader remains to the day.  The men were mostly brought up in a rather harder world than we know, even the scientists.   

And actually, I probably misspeak, as I personally met two handsome young Norweigians when they finished their unsupported (with no way of contacting the world if things went awry) trip accross the continent  of Antarctica (2003/4), completing the longest unsupported (overland) journey in history, anywhere.  And people continue to do these things in the mountains, deserts and oceans.  I should have said they could have put all the big outdoor adventures I have had in their back pocket.

And once again, my dietary biases were confirmed as the men pretty much ate nothing but seal, penguin and dried milk for nearly two years with only the loss of a few toes on one sailor from frostbite.  I couldn't have found my way to South Georgia as well with a GPS as Worsely did with his watch, sextant and a pencil in their 22 foot wooden boat.  I remain amazed... and proud that Worsley was a Kiwi.  They took pictures as well.


The think of it is, if you want the one, you have to accept all the trash that goes along with it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on March 01, 2012, 11:56:49 AM
What the Dog Saw: Malcom Gladwell 7/10


Well written and accessible as usual. Gladwell is a very good writer and offers some unique insights. Recommend to anyone interested in odd connections and observations from odd angles. Thinking of getting Tipping Point now.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on March 02, 2012, 10:28:23 AM
Finished the latest Harry Dresden book, Changes (Jim Butcher).

8/10

Delivers the promised changes, in spades.  Having read the blurb for book 13 I knew some of what was coming in book 12 (simply knowing that there is a book 13 colours the end of book 12 lol), but it still manged to be surprising and exciting.  Can't wait for new credit day (20th of every month) to get book 13.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Old Hoplite on March 02, 2012, 03:04:22 PM
Finished the latest Harry Dresden book, Changes (Jim Butcher).

8/10

Delivers the promised changes, in spades.  Having read the blurb for book 13 I knew some of what was coming in book 12 (simply knowing that there is a book 13 colours the end of book 12 lol), but it still manged to be surprising and exciting.  Can't wait for new credit day (20th of every month) to get book 13.

 13 AKA "Ghost Story" will not disappoint. I actually enjoyed it more then 12 AKA "Changes".  The book is right there with 7 AKA "Dead Beat" .
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Caffiene on March 02, 2012, 06:50:41 PM
Can't wait for new credit day (20th of every month) to get book 13.

You should get Side Jobs to read before Ghost Story if you havent read it already.

Side Jobs is short stories from various points in the series (between books, mostly), with the final one being a story that comes between Changes and Ghost Story.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on March 02, 2012, 08:41:26 PM
Thanks for the tip.  And look, there it is on Audible.  I'll grab it in (ugh) 18 days.  :P

ETA:  Looks like controversy ahead.  James Marsters was busy, and rather than wait for him they got another guy to read book 13.  Let's just say the reviews are... negative.

Ah well, I still want to know what happens, and all indications are that moving forward to 14 and beyond Mr. Marsters will be back.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on March 08, 2012, 10:35:52 AM
The Moral Landscape: Sam Harris  9.5/10


Well written and accessible as Harris's works tend to be. Much lighter on polemic and filled with studies to back up the claims being made (A full 1/3 of the book is dedicated to citations).  If you've watched any of his talks on the subject you will find some familiar territory here. That said, the book really opens up his argument that morality is an undeveloped branch of science.


Not sure how one could walk away from this work unconvinced, but I know it will happen. Very worthwhile read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on March 08, 2012, 10:41:11 PM
The Moral Landscape: Sam Harris  9.5/10


Well written and accessible as Harris's works tend to be. Much lighter on polemic and filled with studies to back up the claims being made (A full 1/3 of the book is dedicated to citations).  If you've watched any of his talks on the subject you will find some familiar territory here. That said, the book really opens up his argument that morality is an undeveloped branch of science.


Not sure how one could walk away from this work unconvinced, but I know it will happen. Very worthwhile read.

Might be time for a re-read. It isn't part of the anti-library.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on March 19, 2012, 08:45:42 PM
The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain - Daniel Gardner
It has a lot of interesting information in it, but was kind of hard to read for long periods of time.  It took me a long time to read it. Although when I saw him at NECSS last year thought he gave a great talk. Maybe I just think he's hot? It was interesting just a but dry at times.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on March 25, 2012, 04:12:38 AM
Fixing My Gaze: Susan Barry 6/10


The writing was plain and ordinary, not bad, not good. So it was with my interest overall - tepid. Some parts are fascinating. Overall, it's a bit stale and boring and bogged down by repetition.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on April 02, 2012, 08:41:48 PM
Fun and games  - Duane Swierczynsk  8 out 10

It's a good quirky LA crime story. Part 1 of a trilogy. I liked the pacing and the characters are likeable.  Many in it have a hard time dying but can be flexible about certain rules of the universe if it helps the story. In this case it does.  I already downloaded the second book but will not be able to get to it soon.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on April 03, 2012, 09:49:45 AM
I am the new black, Tracy Morgan: 4/10


Didn't really gleam much insight into Tracy Morgan. The writing was too contrived and simplistic and often repetitive.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Dirty J. Martini on April 08, 2012, 11:05:54 AM
1Q84 - Haruki Murakami - 5/10

This book was pitched as being incredible, so maybe I set my expectations too high, but my experience was that it was pretty lame. The main characters spend the entire book intentionally not doing anything to reach their goals for some reason which is never thoroughly explained. Several things appear to be very important to the characters, but then they are just suddenly dropped and never really explained.

Throughout most of the book, the male lead is described as being fairly attractive and desirable to women. But every time he's going to have sex, he doesn't feel like it, or he's not attracted to the woman. It was very odd. And the descriptions of incest and child rape were pretty disturbing, though I suppose they set up some plot elements for later. It didn't strike me as furthering the plot in the same way that the sexual violence in "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" did, where it was a core theme and the author was trying to raise awareness of the problem.

The book was somewhat imaginative, but ultimately boring. You can easily see how it's going to end, and the characters don't really seem to do a lot to get there. There's very little tension in the last moments of what is supposed to have been a harrowing adventure. They just sort of do what you would have expected.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: superdave on April 08, 2012, 12:01:01 PM
The Grapes of Wrath
9.5/10

It took forever because its such a heavy book that I needed mental breaks.  But wow, the story is as applicable now as it has ever been and Steinbeck's language is just beautiful  If it has any flaws, it would be that some of the themes are heavy handed, hence not giving it a 10/10.  If you have never read this book, I couldn't recommend it more, but it is a challenging read.  You might want to read it concurrently with something less depressing.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on April 08, 2012, 04:39:46 PM
The Grapes of Wrath
9.5/10

It took forever because its such a heavy book that I needed mental breaks.  But wow, the story is as applicable now as it has ever been and Steinbeck's language is just beautiful  If it has any flaws, it would be that some of the themes are heavy handed, hence not giving it a 10/10.  If you have never read this book, I couldn't recommend it more, but it is a challenging read.  You might want to read it concurrently with something less depressing.

One of my favorites, by my favorite American author. His best is "East of Eden," IMHO.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on April 08, 2012, 09:09:06 PM
Dirk Gently's holistic detective agency - Douglas Adams

  Refreshing in so many ways. It's funny but still wholesome. I'm often jaded but how quickly media get's dated but this one was still funny. My only problem was that I was reading an old paperback copy and am over paper books. It's flimsiness, the old pages changing color, might as will be on papyrus. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on April 09, 2012, 03:03:24 AM
I have a soft spot for the musty smell of old cheap paper.

I finished the third book in A Song of Ice and Fire--a storm of swords. I've never been more frustrated or more entranced by a book in at least ten years. I think it's the way that Martin moves you around from character to character. at least it's in space rather than time. I do like his device of relating seeming important plot points second or third hand. it keeps you interested.

I'd give the series a preliminary 7/10. the last book may have been my favorite to date, but it's also freshest in my mind and I've become invested in the characters.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: superdave on April 09, 2012, 09:40:53 AM
The Moral Landscape: Sam Harris  9.5/10


Well written and accessible as Harris's works tend to be. Much lighter on polemic and filled with studies to back up the claims being made (A full 1/3 of the book is dedicated to citations).  If you've watched any of his talks on the subject you will find some familiar territory here. That said, the book really opens up his argument that morality is an undeveloped branch of science.


Not sure how one could walk away from this work unconvinced, but I know it will happen. Very worthwhile read.
I couldn't finish it.  The argument makes some sense but it seemed like he covers everything in the first chapter and repeats it over and over again.  By the way, a few notable skeptics have argued that Harris is wrong, in particular Massimo Pigliucci.
http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2010/04/about-sam-harris-claim-that-science-can.html (http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2010/04/about-sam-harris-claim-that-science-can.html)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on April 10, 2012, 08:10:03 AM
I find most of the science writers and atheism writers to be repetitive. I guess I am somewhat dis-sensitized to it.


At the same time, I realize why they do it. I have a friend who is convinced that Harris wants to kill religious people because in the End of Faith he said some ideologies just aren't compatible with modern life and given all else failing it might be an necessarily evil to kill them.


Even on this forum you see people saying Harris endorses torture when the opposite is clearly true. Why? Because he wasn't pedantic and repetitive and put what be means in a hundred different ways to make sure people are correctly getting his message.


What I did like about Landscape were the references and the base argument. I also find Harris to be a fairly good writer in that he usually doesn't mince words and takes an active stance in much of what he writes about/says.


I think Dawkin's argument about god claims being scientific and Harris' argument that moral claims are claims about well-being give a pretty secure and valid foundation on which to build a new science.



Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on April 17, 2012, 08:41:13 PM
The hunger games 7.5 out of 10.

Not great, but solid. She is awesome at pacing.  I've read many a crime/thriller/mystery that couldn't keep that kind of tension up. Even though I finished in time to see it in the theater am not sure I will. Not as slight against it, I just don't make it to the movies that often.  Its already in my netflix queue.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on April 18, 2012, 11:31:34 PM
Out of Oz--9/10 Almost as good as Wicked. If you're a fan of the Wicked Years series, or just Wicked, definitely check this one out. It's bittersweet and poignant, and if you're read any Baum Oz books other than The Wizard of Oz, you can see how much Maguire incorporates from that world. Maguire doesn't take everything from Baum's world, and he adds a lot from his own imagination, but it still manages to be Oz. But Oz for cynics and romantics (in the Roland of Gilead sense, if you know what I mean).

Maguire also has a wicked wit, imo. Even in the tenser moments of the book, he made me laugh at some witticism from a character. A well-written book all around.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on April 19, 2012, 12:22:16 AM
Top Ten, by Alan Moore 10/10

(http://i76.photobucket.com/albums/j21/amysrevenge/Greenskins/IMG-20120418-00331.jpg)

The first 7 issues of the comic Top Ten. One of the best comics I've read to date.

Premise: imagine a city where every citizen, from poorest slum-dweller to corporate honcho, has unusual powers and abilities - not to mention an alter ego and costume. How would you police such a city? Rookie cop Robyn Slinger is about to find out in her first day as part of Precinct 10.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on April 19, 2012, 01:35:16 AM
that sounds relevant to my interests.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: PANTS! on April 19, 2012, 05:05:12 AM
I could not get behind top 10. It's not bad, it's just kinda there for me. Certainly not the relevation like League, Watchmen, or Swamp Thing.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on April 19, 2012, 09:25:01 AM
It has a similar hook to Watchmen, in that it takes the concept of capes/supers and messes about with it.

I just finished it yesterday so I can't say for sure, but I think I actually prefer it in the end to Watchmen.  Definitely I like it more than Tom Strong or League.  Never really got in to Swamp Thing.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on April 30, 2012, 11:33:23 AM
Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson.

http://thebloggess.com/lets-pretend-this-never-happened-a-mostly-true-memoir/ (http://thebloggess.com/lets-pretend-this-never-happened-a-mostly-true-memoir/)

If you're a fan of The Bloggess, 10/10.  If you're not, what, are you retarded or something?

I bought the hardcover, and got the audiobook.  I listened to the audiobook, and flipped through the pictures in the hardcover.

There are a couple of sections taken from her blog, but most of it was new material.  Solid gold. 

Stories about mental illness and fertility troubles don't take anything away from the "so funny you'll laugh until you can't breathe" aspect.

There's one chapter about acupuncture, but it's an acceptable take on it.

P.S. I got Wil Wheaton to sign this sticker inside the front cover for me:

(http://i76.photobucket.com/albums/j21/amysrevenge/WHEATTTTOOOONNNN/booksticker.jpg)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on May 01, 2012, 07:20:19 AM
The Prodigal Son (http://www.amazon.ca/Dean-Koontzs-Frankenstein-Prodigal-Son/dp/0345506405)  4/10


The artwork wasn't up to par for my tastes. Something about it was grating (had a hard time distinguishing some characters from each other). Poor use of time lines/flash backs. Rehashed story line without enough novelty.


Thoroughly unimpressed.


Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on May 02, 2012, 04:44:07 AM
"Merchants of Doubt", Oreskes and Conway.  10/10.  Nice research.  How science works, history, politics, great book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on May 02, 2012, 12:12:27 PM
"Merchants of Doubt", Oreskes and Conway.  10/10.  Nice research.  How science works, history, politics, great book.

Interesting! So, very much in the skeptical pile? How does it compare to other skeptical books, and how much of it seems fresh?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on May 02, 2012, 02:46:18 PM
"Merchants of Doubt", Oreskes and Conway.  10/10.  Nice research.  How science works, history, politics, great book.

Interesting! So, very much in the skeptical pile? How does it compare to other skeptical books, and how much of it seems fresh?

The last "sceptical book I have read, Taubes "GCBC" (third time) is sort of similar in structure and style.  It is a bit academic and I knew come of the material, but I learned heaps. There was even a reference to someone I personally new.  GW was only a chapter and there was great insight in the chapter relating to Rachael Carson.

The take home message was political ideological and the amazing fact was the consistancy of actors (some get old and die) from the 50's and smoking to the present and GW.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on May 02, 2012, 03:20:23 PM
Matt Taubes is a skeptic now? Who's next, Dr. John?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: David E. on May 02, 2012, 09:54:41 PM
Ghost Story by Peter Straub. 10/10.  This is my favorite horror novel; no story I have ever read creates, and sustains, such a sense of dread.  The story does an amazing job of exploring the motivations of the creatures that are the villains, without revealing enough to take away the fear of them as unknown things.   


The movie that was made is pretty blah; except for Alice Krige's amazing sensuality and the personality of the older leads: John Houseman especially. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on May 03, 2012, 01:27:24 PM
The last "sceptical book I have read, Taubes "GCBC" (third time) is sort of similar in structure and style.  It is a bit academic and I knew come of the material, but I learned heaps. There was even a reference to someone I personally new.  GW was only a chapter and there was great insight in the chapter relating to Rachael Carson.

The take home message was political ideological and the amazing fact was the consistancy of actors (some get old and die) from the 50's and smoking to the present and GW.

Sounds really cool. *added to list* Thanks!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on May 04, 2012, 02:10:49 AM
Logicomix--7/10. It was interesting from a math/logic history view, but the writers seemed also to be trying to tie in some commentary on morality as well, and I don't think they do a very good job of it. Or perhaps I just didn't get the literary references they were making.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: David E. on May 07, 2012, 09:50:59 PM
Larry Niven/Jerry Pournell's

Inferno 8/10

Escape From Hell. 7/10.  It's not as good as Inferno, but it is still a good read.  There are some creative points and humorous irony of a modern Dante's Hell. 

(click to show/hide)

Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: arthwollipot on May 07, 2012, 10:12:41 PM
Etymologicon (http://etymologicon.org/) by Mark Forsyth.

Funny, informative, light-hearted. 10/10. I recommend it to anyone interested in the English language and where words come from.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on May 07, 2012, 10:50:39 PM
Larry Niven/Jerry Pournell's

Inferno 8/10

Escape From Hell. 7/10.  It's not as good as Inferno, but it is still a good read.  There are some creative points and humorous irony of a modern Dante's Hell. 

(click to show/hide)

I just finished "Lucifer's Hammer." Much better than I expected.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Frank on May 09, 2012, 10:33:25 AM
The Emperor's Gift by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Good old 40k sci-fi fare. Pretty much everything I've come to expect from the author - intriguing characters, witty insights into the proposed setting and so forth. Like his (astonishingly good) Night Lords trilogy before, it's a big wealth of cool, strange and awesome.

For the sceptical side of things, it's an interesting little take on a bunch of psychic, genetically engineered superhuman warrior-monk-knights. Along with that, you've got warp travel through hell, demons threatening the souls of an intergalactic empire, astral projection, telekinesis, magical healing, supremely advanced prosthetics, an entirely silver robo-man and so forth.

To put it simply, it's properly out-there, grim action SF... but with a bit of heart and some really neat writing and so forth. Really impressively written, excellent book for anyone who's interested in the Warhammed 40,000 setting. And, of course, a damn fine look at psychic superhumans.

Not perfect as books go, and certainly not for everyone, but a damnably impressive book.

Edit: Also contains Werewolf Viking themed supermen, and they're the good guys. (The protagonists are arguably totalitarian, monstrous space-facists.) Fortunately it's not preaching a morality, just very speculative.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on May 10, 2012, 08:51:30 PM
Right as Rain by George P. Pelecanos 5.5 - 6.0

I wanted to like it, not just because it takes place in DC but George wrote for the wire  so the bar was pretty high. The book was suppose to take place in 08 but really had the feel of DC in the 90's when crime was much worse. It mentions smoking in the bars but that was banned in 06-07.
  The writing style was also very creeping. It starts very slow and had a hard time getting into it. The characters also had some pretty bad dialog in spots. A lot of it felt cliche. Also he over used the dash. In one single page I counted almost ten none repeating uses of it.  I did finish it so it wasn't horrible. I love crime novels and it did have a good flow for the last quarter, it was just a little hard to get there.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: arthwollipot on May 10, 2012, 09:39:57 PM
The Emperor's Gift by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Good old 40k sci-fi fare. Pretty much everything I've come to expect from the author - intriguing characters, witty insights into the proposed setting and so forth. Like his (astonishingly good) Night Lords trilogy before, it's a big wealth of cool, strange and awesome.

For the sceptical side of things, it's an interesting little take on a bunch of psychic, genetically engineered superhuman warrior-monk-knights. Along with that, you've got warp travel through hell, demons threatening the souls of an intergalactic empire, astral projection, telekinesis, magical healing, supremely advanced prosthetics, an entirely silver robo-man and so forth.

To put it simply, it's properly out-there, grim action SF... but with a bit of heart and some really neat writing and so forth. Really impressively written, excellent book for anyone who's interested in the Warhammed 40,000 setting. And, of course, a damn fine look at psychic superhumans.

Not perfect as books go, and certainly not for everyone, but a damnably impressive book.

Edit: Also contains Werewolf Viking themed supermen, and they're the good guys. (The protagonists are arguably totalitarian, monstrous space-facists.) Fortunately it's not preaching a morality, just very speculative.

I've always liked the 40k setting, but I've never got around to reading any of the books. I heard that the Ultramarine trilogy was extremely ordinary.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Frank on May 11, 2012, 09:29:20 AM
I've always liked the 40k setting, but I've never got around to reading any of the books. I heard that the Ultramarine trilogy was extremely ordinary.

Spot on. There's six books in that series by the same author they're all distinctly plain, at best. The second book (Warriors of Ultramar) is the best of the six, for my tastes, but they're passable reads. Much better choices to be had though. If you fancy a dabble within the setting, my unabashed support goes straight behind the recent novel Legion of the Damned. There's a lot of decent stuff in the setting, but also a lot of dross too, so it can be very variable!

Still, Legion of the Damned is mighty solid in my esteem (and a fair bit cheaper than The Emperor's Gift, though it too is very decent).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on May 13, 2012, 02:56:16 AM
it's not yet the last book I read, but Stardust by Neil Gaiman is the best. I'm thinking about rereading Neverwhere next for the fifth time.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on May 13, 2012, 11:25:02 AM
it's not yet the last book I read, but Stardust by Neil Gaiman is the best. I'm thinking about rereading Neverwhere next for the fifth time.

Dude, he reads the audiobook himself, and the performance is SOOO good. One of my top 5.

ETA: Neverwhere, I mean.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on May 13, 2012, 02:29:14 PM
it's not yet the last book I read, but Stardust by Neil Gaiman is the best. I'm thinking about rereading Neverwhere next for the fifth time.

Dude, he reads the audiobook himself, and the performance is SOOO good. One of my top 5.

ETA: Neverwhere, I mean.
hm. your argument is persuasive.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on May 14, 2012, 03:43:13 PM
Stop This Depression Now! by Andrew Krugman 10/10

It's Krugman, so it's awesome. THE END.

Currently reading Ball Four, which I've read through a few times but not in the past 10-15 years. It's pretty awesome, and the fact that you can look up players Jim Bouton references to see what they did after the book is pretty awesome as well. I love the Internet.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: superdave on May 14, 2012, 03:59:30 PM
I'm about halfway through the wind through the keyhole, the new dark tower book from stephen king. It is friggen weird. Full review to come once I am finished.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on May 15, 2012, 01:51:34 AM
I'm about halfway through the wind through the keyhole, the new dark tower book from stephen king. It is friggen weird. Full review to come once I am finished.
I keep seeing that. weird good or weird you hate yourself for reading further but you can't stop now?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: superdave on May 15, 2012, 09:04:30 AM
I'm about halfway through the wind through the keyhole, the new dark tower book from stephen king. It is friggen weird. Full review to come once I am finished.
I keep seeing that. weird good or weird you hate yourself for reading further but you can't stop now?

more good than bad.  I think King just wanted to write a modern fairytale and set within the dark tower universe, which is kind of a clever idea, but not exactly that book I thought I was buying. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on May 15, 2012, 10:20:29 AM
So I havent read the series since the last book came out 9 years ago.. Will I be able to pick it up and enjoy it having forgotten most of the plot of the series?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on May 16, 2012, 04:43:47 PM
My Horizontal life by Chelsea Handler   6.5 - 7.0

       This is one of the books that after reading think, I could have written that, I have better story's then she does. I guess many of us may think our lives are interesting enough to be books.  It did have some pretty funny one liners and I may have been taking some of the context more seriously then the author intended.
   I like that she is so open and positive about sex. Not nearly enough woman are so articulate about wanting to be penetrated. I like aggressive woman who fearless fight slut shaming by proudly sleeping around. It's a bullshit double standard, and am ah OK with woman with a high number of partners. While she is all these things, at times her misadventures also come off a bit shallow and not as funny as she might think it was. I realize I'm probably not her target audience but was not blown away. A quick summer read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: superdave on May 16, 2012, 05:43:30 PM
So I havent read the series since the last book came out 9 years ago.. Will I be able to pick it up and enjoy it having forgotten most of the plot of the series?


The Wind Through the Keyhole-Stephen King
7.5/10
The answer to this question is part of the problem.  The book isn't really part of Dark Tower series so much as it is a side story that occurs within the Dark Tower universe that involves some of the main characters.  There is sort of a clever story within a story within a story device that was fun in some ways but annoying in others.  The stories do reflect off each other somewhat so they are not total nonsequitors, but the jump from one to another was kinda jarring.

As for the quality of the story telling, this is where the book shines.  The writing style is a little more flowery than King's typical work and it was a nice change of pace if you are used to his typical style.  The stories themselves are essentially fairytale style with a few modern and adult style wrinkles.  The stories are enjoyable and fast paced.  The big problem is that I wanted more about Roland and the Dark Tower and I only got some of that. 

minor spoiler
(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Eternally Learning on May 16, 2012, 06:07:20 PM
Got a library card a week or two ago and went nuts with audiobooks and now some of the paper variety as well so brace yourselves; there's going to be a few of them:

The Accidental Time Machine - 7/10 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Accidental_Time_Machine)

Pretty entertaining overall.  The basic premise is that an undergrad at MIT in the near future (like 20 years or so) builds a calibration device for tests his professor is working on and for some reason when he activates it for the first time it vanishes then reappears a few seconds later.  Eventually he discovers that what it's doing is moving forward in time as well as a certain distance and every time it's activated, the time and distance traveled multiplies by a factor of around 12.  At first he tries some experiments in the hopes of gaining notoriety for it, but after some mishaps he ends up leaping further and further into the future. 

The futures he encounters are certainly very interesting conceptually, but I felt as if not enough time was spent exploring each one and I was left wanting more.  Still, I suppose that really only speaks to how interesting he made those world so there's that.  There was also a love story which didn't really work for me as it seemed more like a male daydream rather than a realistic relationship between two people, but it was more secondary to the plot so it worked out ok.  Lastly, the explanation for how the machine actually worked as well as the resolution to the story left me a little confused, but then again it involved things like multiple dimensions and so on which is a little over my head.

Bottom line, it was a fun read (or listen in my case) and I'd recommend it to most on this site.


The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wonderful_Wizard_of_Oz) - 8/10

I never read it, and I was curious so I tried it out.  Obviously meant for children, but I really liked it all the same.  Tried the sequel but I've not quite taken to it the same way and left it hanging.  Cute read though.


Justice Denied (http://www.amazon.com/Justice-Denied-Beaumont-Novel-Mysteries/dp/0060540923) - 8.5/10

A fairly standard detective mystery novel I suppose, but the final reveal of how the crimes were being committed and victims selected was actually pretty genius and not something I'd seen done before.  Definitely didn't see it coming at any rate.  Oddly enough though, the criminals in question really didn't get much exposure in the book so at the end I felt a little annoyed I didn't know them better or get a less 2 dimensional explanation for their behavior, but as the focus of the story was more on the protagonists, I  don't think it hurt the story much and the explanations were reasonable enough on their own.  Definitely worth a read at any rate.


Darkly Dreaming Dexter (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darkly_Dreaming_Dexter) - 9.5/10

Excellent, excellent read.  I've already seen the series on TV and this story was closely mirrored by the first season, but there were enough differences that it still kept me interested.  I liked how the book does a much better job of explaining the Dark Passenger of Dexter's than the show, but the vague supernatural things he experiences were a little jarring and out of place for me but didn't distract to much.  I also got a chuckle out of Deb being described as having a lush and beautiful figure (not overweight but well-endowed).  Really, really like the writing style as well as the plot in general and am now reading the second one which I hope to review shortly.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Gerbig on May 16, 2012, 06:09:26 PM
Anybody read AJ Jacobs new book?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Frank on May 16, 2012, 07:16:56 PM
The Accidental Time Machine - 7/10 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Accidental_Time_Machine)

Pretty entertaining overall. 
<snip>
Bottom line, it was a fun read (or listen in my case) and I'd recommend it to most on this site.

Quite forgot I'd read this just over a year and a half ago. It's an entertaining read. Not superb, by a long shot, but entertaining and a good wee read. 7/10 sounds almost spot on for it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on May 18, 2012, 07:55:34 PM
I just bought two anthologies edited by John Joseph Adams. His dystopian anthology (Brave New Worlds) was superbly put together, so I got Wastelands and The Living Dead. They were pretty cheap for the Kindle (I think I spent $10-15 total, and they're heafty anthologies). I've barely started Wastelands (post-apocalyptic) but am enjoying it. Even the Orson Scott Card story. :P
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: PANTS! on May 18, 2012, 08:47:59 PM
I picked up that anthology the other day. I think I might move it to the top of the pile.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Eternally Learning on May 19, 2012, 08:13:38 AM
Dearly Devoted Dexter - 9.6/10

I was pleasantly surprised to find I liked this book more than the first one.  The characters are explored a lot more and events outside of the case are far more in depth this time.  That being said I came away feeling that the case itself was worlds more interesting than the first book as well, but that may just be due to already knowing the basic plot of the first one going into it.  Still, the Dr. Danco character, while himself not really explored much at all, left me wishing quite hard that they'd use a semblance of his work on the show.  They'd have to revamp the story of course since Doakes is already gone and he was the main connection to Dr. Danco, but what captured me was what he did to his victims.  It was truly horrifying and different, leaving each character affected in a way not really seen before

Now I'm getting pretty excited to read the third one, especially considering that certain threads have been left somewhat open from both the stories that weren't in the show meaning that certain characters I liked might actually come back.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: stretcher on May 20, 2012, 01:46:43 AM
The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy: extremely boring, has several inconsistent narratives that never gel. It read a lot like Faulkner, only vaguely resembling the McCarthy's typical style in brief flashes. This was a real let down for me.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on May 20, 2012, 02:08:32 AM
Just got done with A Distant Mirror. GUH. History always ends with sadness. Great book, though (written by the same woman who wrote the utterly fantastic Guns of August, which was about the early days of World War I and how Europe managed to get entrenched in a long, bloody war of attrition, and which was given by President Kennedy to the members of his staff upon his election).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on May 20, 2012, 02:27:06 AM
Just got done with A Distant Mirror. GUH. History always ends with sadness. Great book, though (written by the same woman who wrote the utterly fantastic Guns of August, which was about the early days of World War I and how Europe managed to get entrenched in a long, bloody war of attrition, and which was given by President Kennedy to the members of his staff upon his election).

Loved both of those books.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on May 20, 2012, 02:33:10 AM
Neverwhere: 10/10. I love this book and reread it nearly every year or so. I think I'm going to reread American Gods next. I haven't read it in years.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on May 20, 2012, 11:16:53 AM
Neverwhere: 10/10. I love this book and reread it nearly every year or so.

Audio version > print version, I keep telling you :P
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on May 20, 2012, 06:19:00 PM
Neverwhere: 10/10. I love this book and reread it nearly every year or so.

Audio version > print version, I keep telling you :P
If my poor beat up mass market paperback finally gives up the ghost, I'll consider it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: David E. on May 20, 2012, 07:07:20 PM
The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian.  7/10  The first two books in the 3 book set are 9's the 3rd book is all Howard's: I need money and I am a huge racist Conan stories.  The reader is excellent. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on May 20, 2012, 07:17:17 PM
The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian.  7/10  The first two books in the 3 book set are 9's the 3rd book is all Howard's: I need money and I am a huge racist Conan stories.  The reader is excellent.

Who in the what, now? 3rd is all who? You're a Conan racist story?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: David E. on May 20, 2012, 07:21:23 PM
According to the bio of Howard at the start of the book, he wrote quite a few Conan stories because he needed the money, so the quality was not as good.  There is also a story in the 3rd book of the series that is incredibly racist. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on May 20, 2012, 08:05:55 PM
Ohhhhhh.

I thought there was some autocorrect action that was screwing up my understanding of what you were saying.

I get it now.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: WC on May 20, 2012, 09:20:39 PM
The Space Merchants (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Space_Merchants); 8/10. Outlandish sci fi of the 50s is now run of the mill Americana capitalism. The propheticalness is unsettling.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Karyn on May 25, 2012, 07:26:35 PM
I have no idea why this was locked.  I think one of the mods accidentally clicked it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on May 25, 2012, 07:33:29 PM
Probably panda trying to fend off criticism over her lack of audiobook purchasing. ::)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: WC on May 25, 2012, 08:12:31 PM
Some mod just really really hates Space Merchants.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: stretcher on May 26, 2012, 06:58:22 PM
Drift, Rachel Maddow, 7/10. It's often fascinating and I like the manner in which she approaches some problems. She uses lots of real world analogies, and there's a lot of military and political history. She writes in her voice for much it, it's often informal and in bad form. It frequently comes off like she's having a candid discussion with the reader, which is fine, but I think she used that device a little heavily.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on May 26, 2012, 07:22:41 PM
Probably panda trying to fend off criticism over her lack of audiobook purchasing. ::)
Actually, I think was it me. The web browser on the Kindle is a POS, and I've accidentally locked threads before. I usually catch it, though.

But hey, this is an excuse for me to post about my new computer in yet another thread. ;D
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Eternally Learning on May 26, 2012, 10:44:54 PM
The Hippopotamus (Stephen Fry) - 8.5/10

It took me a little while for me to get into this book, but I think perhaps that may have to do with the way it was written and the fact I was listening to the audiobook instead of reading it as the style of story-telling switches from the perspective of observing events, letters to and from various people, diary entries, faxes, and biographies; often without any announcement in the change.  I'm sure seeing it on a page would have made it easier to pick up on, but listening to it being read it took me a while to keep up with the changes and ease my confusion.  Still, I found this book to be pretty entertaining.

The characters were all unique and lovable in their own ways but the character of Ted really takes the cake mainly because he serves to voice the various witty and keen observation of the the author.  There were definitely more than a few moments when I laughed out loud at Fry's abilty to turn a clever phrase while delivering true insight.  I also enjoyed the way he deftly showed each characters' perspective on events as well as their inner-thoughts and feelings, often-times showing the same even from different points-of-view.  It's fascinating to be drawn into agreement with each person despite them having different views on matters.

Lastly, the story itself was plenty interesting (if not disturbing from time-to-time) and kept me guessing throughout it.  I especially enjoyed the very skeptical bent it took at the end, while at the same time showing the reader just how easy it can be to believe in the unbelievable given the right circumstances.  I would definitely recommend this to anyone here on that point alone, but there's so much more to enjoy in this book as well in the way of humor and just plain good-writing.  It's also worth mentioning that Fry did an excellent job at reading the audiobook as well.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on May 26, 2012, 10:48:23 PM
Actually, I think was it me. The web browser on the Kindle is a POS, and I've accidentally locked threads before. I usually catch it, though.

But hey, this is an excuse for me to post about my new computer in yet another thread. ;D

The Kindle browser truly is bad. Almost unusable. At least, on the older one I have. I'm hoping the browser on the Kindle Fire is better.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: WC on May 26, 2012, 10:57:08 PM
The Year of the Flood (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Year_of_the_Flood); 7/10.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on May 26, 2012, 11:49:59 PM
Doesn't the Fire use the Android OS? The default browser is pretty solid.

The Hunger Games. Man, I wish books of this quality were around when I was a kid. I was stuck with Piers Anthony. Anyway, for a young adult title it's surprisingly dark and has a lot to say about modern society, particularly reality television. It reminded me a lot of Ender's Game. Hopefully the sequels don't suck as hard.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on May 27, 2012, 12:00:51 AM
Doesn't the Fire use the Android OS? The default browser is pretty solid.
The browser on my Android phone worked well enough (a bit slow on 3G, so I switched to Opera Mobile because it's faster, compressed data and all that), but there are weird random problems with some scripts on the Fire--especially in Gmail. For instance, the browser on the Fire almost never goes to the last read message when I follow the link from Gmail or when I use the "new" button on the forum itself. I was hoping a version of Opera would be available for the Fire, but I haven't seen anything yet.

Actually, I think was it me. The web browser on the Kindle is a POS, and I've accidentally locked threads before. I usually catch it, though.

But hey, this is an excuse for me to post about my new computer in yet another thread. ;D

The Kindle browser truly is bad. Almost unusable. At least, on the older one I have. I'm hoping the browser on the Kindle Fire is better.
I don't know what the browser is like on any other Kindle, really. I had a beta/experimental version of the browser on my regular, non-touch Kindle--it sucked, but only because I had to navigate with buttons and it was black and white. The web browser on the Fire isn't unusable, but it could work a lot better, imo.

But that's literally the only complaint I have about the Fire.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Eternally Learning on May 27, 2012, 02:21:23 AM
The Hippopotamus (Stephen Fry) - 8.5/10

By the way; here's a great excerpt from the book showing the kind of witty and humorous observations Fry embarks upon that probably exacted one of the bigger laughs from me.  Not entirely sure I agree with everything, but I am sure I don't care :P.

Women and Sex (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz_L3vYcbvQ#)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: WC on May 27, 2012, 03:35:04 PM
Slick is probably going to lambast me if I go any further with my Handmaiden's Tale/Oryx and Crake/Year of the Flood kick. High marks for Year of the Flood (and Oryx and Crake for that matter) because the characters and setting are so captivating, ESPECIALLY the setting; dystopian world of ruling corporations and no governments going to full on post apocalyptic dystopia.

 :lovewcc:

SF dystopian corporatism/corporate nationalism and post apocalyptic SF (and in the case of Handmaiden; theocratic dystopian SF). Gotta love it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on May 28, 2012, 01:34:57 PM
I have a couple of Atwood books lying around--one of them is an audiobook on CD. Now I can actually listen to it! Huzzah! (It's Oryx and Crake.)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Frank on May 28, 2012, 03:25:23 PM
Just finished Asimov's Foundation and Empire - highly decent. Very interesting. Somewhat dated now, of course, but once you get into the style and look past the differences (or indeed, pay attention to the likely homages and references made to the pages!) it's demonstrated itself to be extremely enjoyable.

Next up... who knows?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on May 28, 2012, 03:42:15 PM
Just got done with Girl on Fire last night, moving into the final book of the trilogy. GoF started kind of slowly, although I enjoyed the portrayal of the ultra-decadent atmosphere, but the second half was what you expect from a Hunger Games book once more. My main gripe about the series is that since it's all YA they aren't very long and as such they don't really get too far into the characters beyond the protagonist and her circle of friends/advisors/etc. In the first book I really found myself wanting to know more about the other contestants; I felt much the same about this. I get the sense that Suzanne Collins knows a good deal more about the characters than she's letting on, too, which isn't a bad thing but I just wish there was more infos to digest.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: WC on May 28, 2012, 03:59:23 PM
Just finished Asimov's Foundation and Empire - highly decent. Very interesting. Somewhat dated now, of course, but once you get into the style and look past the differences (or indeed, pay attention to the likely homages and references made to the pages!) it's demonstrated itself to be extremely enjoyable.
I find the dated aspects to be timeless. Considering that it was written in the early 50s, it has weathered well, and always will.

Quote
Next up... who knows?
Why not all the Foundations? More Foundations. ALL THE FOUNDATIONS! Bwahahahaha;

     Prelude to Foundation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prelude_to_Foundation)
     Forward the Foundation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forward_the_Foundation)
     Foundation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundation_(novel))
   ✓Foundation and Empire (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundation_and_Empire)
     Second Foundation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Foundation)
     Foundation's Edge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundation%27s_Edge)
     Foundation and Earth (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundation_and_Earth)


And Pebble in the Sky (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pebble_in_the_Sky), a kind of prequel that takes place in the Foundation universe. Actually, all the Galactic Empire series (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galactic_Empire_(series)) too (and the Robot series). But Pebble in the Sky is great. It's a big universe in those 15 novels. WHEEEEEEE!

(The audiobook for Pebble, narrated by Robert Fass is really good.)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on May 28, 2012, 04:00:08 PM
Just got done with Girl on Fire last night, moving into the final book of the trilogy. GoF started kind of slowly, although I enjoyed the portrayal of the ultra-decadent atmosphere, but the second half was what you expect from a Hunger Games book once more. My main gripe about the series is that since it's all YA they aren't very long and as such they don't really get too far into the characters beyond the protagonist and her circle of friends/advisors/etc. In the first book I really found myself wanting to know more about the other contestants; I felt much the same about this. I get the sense that Suzanne Collins knows a good deal more about the characters than she's letting on, too, which isn't a bad thing but I just wish there was more infos to digest.
Yeah, I'd love to read a Hunger Games written for older adults. If I had any talent, I'd write one.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on May 28, 2012, 04:03:51 PM
Just got done with Girl on Fire last night, moving into the final book of the trilogy. GoF started kind of slowly, although I enjoyed the portrayal of the ultra-decadent atmosphere, but the second half was what you expect from a Hunger Games book once more. My main gripe about the series is that since it's all YA they aren't very long and as such they don't really get too far into the characters beyond the protagonist and her circle of friends/advisors/etc. In the first book I really found myself wanting to know more about the other contestants; I felt much the same about this. I get the sense that Suzanne Collins knows a good deal more about the characters than she's letting on, too, which isn't a bad thing but I just wish there was more infos to digest.
Yeah, I'd love to read a Hunger Games written for older adults. If I had any talent, I'd write one.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Long_Walk (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Long_Walk)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Eternally Learning on May 28, 2012, 04:14:35 PM
Just got done with Girl on Fire last night, moving into the final book of the trilogy. GoF started kind of slowly, although I enjoyed the portrayal of the ultra-decadent atmosphere, but the second half was what you expect from a Hunger Games book once more. My main gripe about the series is that since it's all YA they aren't very long and as such they don't really get too far into the characters beyond the protagonist and her circle of friends/advisors/etc. In the first book I really found myself wanting to know more about the other contestants; I felt much the same about this. I get the sense that Suzanne Collins knows a good deal more about the characters than she's letting on, too, which isn't a bad thing but I just wish there was more infos to digest.

Isn't it Catching Fire or does it go by different titles in different places?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on May 28, 2012, 06:27:30 PM
Just got done with Girl on Fire last night, moving into the final book of the trilogy. GoF started kind of slowly, although I enjoyed the portrayal of the ultra-decadent atmosphere, but the second half was what you expect from a Hunger Games book once more. My main gripe about the series is that since it's all YA they aren't very long and as such they don't really get too far into the characters beyond the protagonist and her circle of friends/advisors/etc. In the first book I really found myself wanting to know more about the other contestants; I felt much the same about this. I get the sense that Suzanne Collins knows a good deal more about the characters than she's letting on, too, which isn't a bad thing but I just wish there was more infos to digest.
Yeah, I'd love to read a Hunger Games written for older adults. If I had any talent, I'd write one.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Long_Walk (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Long_Walk)
Well, that's great, only I've read it. :P I've read nearly every King/Bachman work. Not a lot of the newer stuff.

I was a bit of a King-o-phile in high school.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: PANTS! on May 28, 2012, 06:33:09 PM
Me too panda. I think he lost it somewhere around Gerald's Game or probably Insomnia.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on May 28, 2012, 06:42:18 PM
Just got done with Girl on Fire last night, moving into the final book of the trilogy. GoF started kind of slowly, although I enjoyed the portrayal of the ultra-decadent atmosphere, but the second half was what you expect from a Hunger Games book once more. My main gripe about the series is that since it's all YA they aren't very long and as such they don't really get too far into the characters beyond the protagonist and her circle of friends/advisors/etc. In the first book I really found myself wanting to know more about the other contestants; I felt much the same about this. I get the sense that Suzanne Collins knows a good deal more about the characters than she's letting on, too, which isn't a bad thing but I just wish there was more infos to digest.

Isn't it Catching Fire or does it go by different titles in different places?
Maybe...  :'(
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on May 28, 2012, 07:00:07 PM
Me too panda. I think he lost it somewhere around Gerald's Game or probably Insomnia.

Well I really liked Under the Dome and 11/22/63.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Frank on May 28, 2012, 08:31:40 PM
Just finished Asimov's Foundation and Empire - highly decent. Very interesting. Somewhat dated now, of course, but once you get into the style and look past the differences (or indeed, pay attention to the likely homages and references made to the pages!) it's demonstrated itself to be extremely enjoyable.
I find the dated aspects to be timeless. Considering that it was written in the early 50s, it has weathered well, and always will.

Oh my yes, I do agree - perhaps the 'dating' of it is a bit too much a pejorative? You can see the inconsistencies and such, but it's a very curious, bland style and yet captures in such a mighty way. I've got Second Foundation upstairs and I fully intend to keep bumbling through Asimov's repertoire. Pebble In The Sky could be making its way to my ears very soon.

Though, having said that, I browsed on Wikipedia for some time there (give warning next time!  :D ) and eventually found myself drifting towards Harlan Ellison - someone I've heard mentioned many times, but never actually read anything of. He could be the next port of call, especially for commenting that a studio chief he had a meeting with had the "intellectual capacity of an artichoke". Delightful!

In the meantime, a small excerpt from Foundation and Empire that made me smile most mightily from Magnifico the Clown:

"But how may I be all that, mighty sir, for indeed I am but a poor clown ungiven to the great things of the world?"

 8)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: WC on May 28, 2012, 09:01:29 PM
The Mule is scary.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on May 31, 2012, 02:09:09 AM
So yeah, finished up Mockingjay earlier tonight. God DAMN. I don't think I've cried so much reading a book (Imma count all 3 as one) since I read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by David Eggers for the first time (that's a semi-autobiographical story about a young guy with an 8 year old brother whose parents both suddenly die within a couple weeks of each other. The kid sort-of goes to live with the older brother, barely an adult himself, and hilarity ensues). I thought Catcher In The Rye was sad, too, but not in that in-your-face, we-aren't-going-to-sate-you-with-blood-or-dispassionate-adult-reactions-to-carnage-so-you-will-have-to-feel-every-inch-of-this-poor-girl's-pain sense that you get from this. This is the kind of book that makes you realize how fortunate you are to live in America in the 21st century but also makes you wary about how some elements present in the current culture could be our undoing.

As a (failed) writer, this is also the kind of book that fills me with that MASSIVE ambivalence that is the combination of "man, THIS is exactly the kind of thing I feel like I need to write" and "there is no way I could ever have produced a book of this quality". And so out of the blue! Did anyone else, prior to Hunger Games, even know who Suzanne Collins was, much less know that she was capable of such sublimity (I think "beauty" is definitely the wrong term here)?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Eternally Learning on May 31, 2012, 03:06:17 AM
I was really impressed with the unconventional way the series ended; much more realistic than most fictions and IMO, much deeper than most too.  It really made you evaluate just what it is you've been reading all this time and what it means.  Also, the scene in front of the President's mansion made my jaw drop.  Can't wait to see people's reactions to that when it hits the theaters.  On a side-note, my mother-in-law was recently working her way through the last book and I'd been asking her periodically where she was and what she thought.  One night I saw her grab the book and head upstairs and I again asked her where she was.   She said that Katniss had just made it to the mansion and saw the group of [omitted for spoilers] there.  Took every ounce of self-control I had to keep a poker face and let her walk up with no idea what was coming next...
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on May 31, 2012, 04:42:40 AM
Great, now I want to reread The Hunger Games. Even though I just finished it last month.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on May 31, 2012, 04:26:31 PM
Challengers (http://www.amazon.com/Challengers-Washington-Post/dp/0671628976/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1338495770&sr=1-4), by the staff of the Washington Post.

Short but detailed history of the shuttle program and the Challenger disaster, along with more in-depth biographies of each of the astronauts. Pretty short book--I read it cover to cover on a 5-hr flight. Interesting, inspiring, well-written, respectful, and very bittersweet.

Highly recommended.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on May 31, 2012, 04:38:14 PM
I was really impressed with the unconventional way the series ended; much more realistic than most fictions and IMO, much deeper than most too.  It really made you evaluate just what it is you've been reading all this time and what it means.  Also, the scene in front of the President's mansion made my jaw drop.  Can't wait to see people's reactions to that when it hits the theaters.  On a side-note, my mother-in-law was recently working her way through the last book and I'd been asking her periodically where she was and what she thought.  One night I saw her grab the book and head upstairs and I again asked her where she was.   She said that Katniss had just made it to the mansion and saw the group of [omitted for spoilers] there.  Took every ounce of self-control I had to keep a poker face and let her walk up with no idea what was coming next...
Yeah, without giving too much away... okay, spoilers....

(click to show/hide)
There's another book "series" (I refuse to call anything a "series" until I've actually done writing into it) that's been floating around in my mind and which I actually got around a hundred pages or so into a few years ago, a modernized version of Dante's Divine Comedy, that this series really makes me want to get into now (well, in a month, and after I'm done with the other project). It's also a completely different direction, different genre and everything than Nellie Bly, but hey, if Suzanne Collins can go from Clarissa Explains It All to this, I can certainly do that...
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on June 03, 2012, 07:44:44 PM
"The Black Swan", Nassim Taleb.  An enjoyable journey.  I liked his style.  I have listened to three interviews with him on Econ Talk and that was what inspired me.  A lot (or little) to think about.  I was interested to hear he thinks Gary Taubes has it right (the recent history of diet) and that he is also good buddies with Art DaVany, the grandfather of the Paleo movement and "works out" (DaVany style) with Art. 

I am considering the fourth quadrant and the black swan frequently.  A fine thing to muse about.  Might even be worthwhile.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on June 04, 2012, 03:21:23 AM
I still haven't picked up The Black Swan since I started it a couple weeks ago. I think it would take too much effort on my part not to be irritated at his writing style. The thing is, I feel like I should like how he writes, there's just something either missing or too prominent about how he writes, and I can't quite work out what it is.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on June 04, 2012, 02:32:12 PM
I still haven't picked up The Black Swan since I started it a couple weeks ago. I think it would take too much effort on my part not to be irritated at his writing style. The thing is, I feel like I should like how he writes, there's just something either missing or too prominent about how he writes, and I can't quite work out what it is.

Citizen Skeptic thinks Taleb is filled with self love and I think CS is correct.  But I liked his style. 

Taleb does treat some readers with open distain  He also suggests skipping some small sections sections of the book for the non-technical reader.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on June 13, 2012, 03:58:36 AM
The last book I finished, Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem, I wrote a review for on Amazon here:

http://www.amazon.com/Chronic-Vintage-Contemporaries-Jonathan-Lethem/product-reviews/0307277526/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#R1IWTSCGQFE8HK (http://www.amazon.com/Chronic-Vintage-Contemporaries-Jonathan-Lethem/product-reviews/0307277526/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#R1IWTSCGQFE8HK)

There are spoilers but face it YOU ARE NOT GOING TO BE READING IT ANY TIME SOON ANYWAY YOU ILLITERATE BASTARDS.  >:(
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on June 13, 2012, 04:02:02 AM
The last book I finished, Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem, I wrote a review for on Amazon here:

http://www.amazon.com/Chronic-Vintage-Contemporaries-Jonathan-Lethem/product-reviews/0307277526/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#R1IWTSCGQFE8HK (http://www.amazon.com/Chronic-Vintage-Contemporaries-Jonathan-Lethem/product-reviews/0307277526/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#R1IWTSCGQFE8HK)

There are spoilers but face it YOU ARE NOT GOING TO BE READING IT ANY TIME SOON ANYWAY YOU ILLITERATE BASTARDS.  >:(
IT'S A GOOD THING I CAN'T READ BECAUSE THIS POST MIGHT HAVE UPSET ME.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on June 13, 2012, 12:15:14 PM
GHGHUWH HGUIWHLGW GHUIWGB HGUIWGUIG PANDAMONIUM GHUHGILWG GHWUI GHIWU(GHHG

(hey everyone, let's pretend I just insulted Pandamonium! She won't know because her dictation software won't be able to pick this up!)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: benschwab on June 15, 2012, 02:50:30 PM
Bruce Parker - The Power of the Sea, tsunamis, storm surges, rogue waves, and our quest to predict disasters

I enjoyed it quite a bit.  It's mostly about the history of oceanography and discusses the science behind many phenomenon.  It has interesting accounts of historical and contemporary events involving sea phenomenon.  I learned quite a bit.  I never knew that tidal bores (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tidal_bore) existed.  It is written so that people without science training can understand it but those with science training would still find it compelling (I don't know about experts in ocean science) and get even more out of the discussions.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on June 16, 2012, 03:50:35 AM
Making Money--Terry Pratchett: 9/10. Not my favorite Discworld novel, but Moist von Lipwig is a great character and the story flowed nicely. Granted, I'd give most of the Discworld novels 9/10...and the rest 8/10...but we all have our sacred cows. Mine is satirical fantasy written by Terry Pratchett.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on June 16, 2012, 02:20:31 PM
I hate that he has Alzheimer's and is going to commit suicide at the end of this year. :(
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on June 16, 2012, 02:23:46 PM
I hate that he has Alzheimer's and is going to commit suicide at the end of this year. :(
...wut?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on June 16, 2012, 02:28:34 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_pratchett (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_pratchett)

Quote
In an article published mid 2009, Pratchett stated that he wishes to commit 'assisted suicide' (although he dislikes that term) before his disease progresses to a critical point.[56] Pratchett was selected to give the 2010 BBC Richard Dimbleby Lecture,[57] entitled Shaking Hands With Death, which was broadcast on 1 February 2010.[58] Pratchett introduced his lecture on the topic of assisted death, but the main text was read by his friend Tony Robinson because of difficulties Pratchett has with reading – a result of his condition.[59][60][61]
I thought I'd read that he'd set a date for this October or something but that does not appear to be documented in wiki.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on June 16, 2012, 03:53:51 PM
I knew about the Alzheimer's, didn't know about the assisted suicide. I guess it doesn't change much--Alzheimer's doesn't have a cure.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: wastrel on June 21, 2012, 03:21:21 PM
I knew about the Alzheimer's, didn't know about the assisted suicide. I guess it doesn't change much--Alzheimer's doesn't have a cure.

It's probably mad cow.

I hadn't heard anything about an assisted suicide either.  Now I'm sad.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on June 21, 2012, 10:21:05 PM
"Bonk," by Mary Roach. 9/10. Funny and informative. I've never read anything from her that wasn't great.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on June 22, 2012, 08:47:08 PM
The Wind-Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. 6/10. It was okay. I never really cared about the main characters or the situation that was going on in the book. There were some pretty weird, horrible things that happened in the book that almost made me stop reading.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on June 22, 2012, 09:14:14 PM
Finally got to read George RR Martin's The Hedge Knight! 8/10

Really fast paced and entertaining. I think any story set in Westeros written by GRRM would get a high score from me. I can't get enough of that universe. On to Sworn Sword.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Frank on June 29, 2012, 09:02:04 AM
Just spent an hour or two in the local Uni's library as it's got a decent old copy of Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges. I'd finished Death and the Compass last time and worked through to The Immortals this week. Gloriously enjoyable writing. Deeply imaginative and extremely thought provoking, I love it.

(http://i.imgur.com/7iD16l.jpg?1)
(http://i.imgur.com/c6ownl.jpg)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on June 29, 2012, 05:19:28 PM
Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good by Kevin Smith

6 7 out of 10

But, I think I'm burnt out on him and his style. If you've listened to smodcast or any of his regular podcast for any length of time there is not much point in reading this. It does go a little more in depth in some aspects of his life and has some cool story's, but aren't nearly as funny as when heard in podcast forum. He even talks a lot about the start of his podcasting and how awesome it was. Hmm, ok maybe I'm being to harsh. I'll change it to a 7. It is pretty good, but if you've listend to a lot of his stuff, it won't really cover anything new. I think also I am a little bumed cased this book made me watch red state and I didn't really like that much. He's very proud of it, and has some amusing stories in the book, but it just left me kinda hoe hum about it all.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on July 04, 2012, 05:12:04 AM
I tried to listen to a smodcast - hated it....maybe I didn't get beyond the promo stuff...

Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre is hilarious. But his second book (Ludmilla's broken English) was disappointing- he was trying too hard to be funny.

Currently reading David Deutsch - The beginning of infinity. I like his thinking, and he expresses himself clearly.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on July 06, 2012, 11:22:30 PM
Son of a Witch--I liked it a lot better this time through. Maybe because there weren't years between reading Wicked and SoaW. I'd give it a 8/10.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Eternally Learning on July 07, 2012, 12:07:23 AM
Got two this time.  Forgot to review the first one, just finished the second one:

Dexter in the Dark - 5/10

For anyone even tangentially aware of the books, this is the one that made most people scratch their heads.  This is the one where we find out that Dexter's Dark Passenger is not the product of a damaged psyche, it is actually the spawn of the demon Moloch.  ... Yeah, you heard that right.  I knew about this ridiculous twist before I read the book, so perhaps it was this preparation which spared me, but oddly enough the Moloch and demon parts of the book didn't bother me at all.  The Dark Passenger is much more of a personality in the books than in the show so it actually fit a bit, and the slip from the real world into this fantasy one fit in with Dexter's intuition on murders being the product of the Passenger's whispers.

What killed this book for me though was the goddamn resolution.  Dexter does not save the day through skill, intelligence, quick and decisive action, or any other character trait which can be attributed to him.  He saves the day because for some reason Moloch's control over him goes away when he starts to be burned.  That's it.  The love for his kids didn't do it, his own personality wasn't strong enough to overcome it, it just happens.  With no explanation whatsoever.  That pissed me off and was some damn lazy writing in my mind.

Dexter by Design - 3/10

The ending had the same problem as the last book's ending and this book didn't have the benefit of having an actually interesting storyline leading up to it.  The bad guy is a new criminal with no history of being a criminal mastermind, but it always making Dexter look like a fool.  Deb's boyfriend, Kyle is of more use than Dexter and he is missing a hand and a foot.  Dexter makes foolish mistakes, underestimates the bad guy, and ignores Harry's code for no reason which gets him in trouble.  The killings were somewhat interesting I guess, but the resolution was not only just plain stupid luck for Dexter, but also incredibly unbelievable.  Would not recommend at all.



All that said, upon some reflection of the other books I've decided I'm done with Dexter on paper.  The show's fine, but I've come to realize that despite how clever, smart, and resourceful Dexter is supposed to be, in every book he's played for a fool and basically has nothing to do with saving the day.  He only found Brian because of some psychic connection, was nearly sliced up by the baddie in the second book if not for Deb, is randomly released from demonic control in the third one, and Rita saves his ass in the fourth one.  What's the point in setting up such a quick-witted, skillful, and methodical pro/antagonist if he's always making horrible decisions, not figuring anything important out, and never actually stopping the bad guy?!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on July 18, 2012, 07:03:22 AM
Mockingjay  8 out 10

It was my least favorite of the series and really took a while for me to get into it. Probably around the first 40% just dragged and was more teen anxity then the rest of the series. It then picks up quite a bit and is darker then any of the others. I enjoyed the series a lot and look forward to watching the hunger games movie when it's on netflix.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: stretcher on July 18, 2012, 10:28:29 PM
The Help, 7/10. Someone told me they felt it was the most socially important book since To Kill a Mockingbird so I figured I'd try it out. It's a great story and smartly written, but I don't know if it's really ground breaking and certainly didn't feel like a literary classic to me.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: nameofthewave on July 19, 2012, 10:32:20 AM
Rip it up, by Richard Wiseman. 8/10. For anyone who has read his previous book on evidence-based self help, 59 seconds, this is along similar lines except that it concentrates on one particular area of research - how changing behaviour can change our thoughts and emotions, rather than the other way around. Basically the take home message was that if you behave in a certain way, you will end up adopting some of the beliefs and attitudes that are congruous with that behaviour. Backed up by some very interesting studies that are discussed in detail. I have read quite a few self help books and have to say this one offered something genuinely new. Recommended, especially if you are suspicious of other books in this genre.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on July 19, 2012, 02:27:02 PM
sounds good - will look out for it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: superdave on July 20, 2012, 11:21:14 AM
Rip it up, by Richard Wiseman. 8/10. For anyone who has read his previous book on evidence-based self help, 59 seconds, this is along similar lines except that it concentrates on one particular area of research - how changing behaviour can change our thoughts and emotions, rather than the other way around. Basically the take home message was that if you behave in a certain way, you will end up adopting some of the beliefs and attitudes that are congruous with that behaviour. Backed up by some very interesting studies that are discussed in detail. I have read quite a few self help books and have to say this one offered something genuinely new. Recommended, especially if you are suspicious of other books in this genre.

I really liked 59 seconds, I will check this out.
actually I have been meaning to reread 59s. I might do that too.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Eli Winsor on July 24, 2012, 12:16:08 AM
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, it was ok, I guess!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: stretcher on July 29, 2012, 10:04:07 PM
Double Dexter. I've only seen the show in passing, I didn't know it was adapted from novels until I saw them in the store. The writing is really strong, especially compared to the casual stuff I've been reading lately (cheap, serialized sci-fi and gothic horror).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Eternally Learning on July 30, 2012, 05:47:07 PM
Double Dexter. I've only seen the show in passing, I didn't know it was adapted from novels until I saw them in the store. The writing is really strong, especially compared to the casual stuff I've been reading lately (cheap, serialized sci-fi and gothic horror).

I read the first four books and at first was hooked too, but the third books ended really miserably IMO and the fourth was just miserable.  In retrospect, I'm realizing that there were very similar problems in the first two as well but being as they were new to me I didn't notice.  Basically, I'm just very frustrated and how contrasted Dexter in theory is with Dexter in practice:

In theory, he's immensely intelligent, quick-witted, precise, orderly to the point of near-obsession, keen-eyed, and strategic.  In practice, every single villain in the first four books outsmarts him so much it's embarrassing and in the end after being fucked and behind the game for the entire book, he and his intentions have nothing to do with saving the day.  I bought it when it was his brother because of the circumstances and given the story it made sense for him basically to be emasculated, but the next three books didn't need to be like that; he didn't need to be so comically unable to fully anticipate his opponent and so ineffective at stopping them.  In the fourth book, the criminal isn't even a pro; it's his first time doing anything like this and he plays Dexter like a fiddle.

The reason I love the concept of Dexter is how sharp and crafty he is at what he does.  In the show, they give him many opportunities to show this by his peripheral kills (he maybe kills one other person each book) and on top of that he usually stops the bad guy intentionally, even if everything doesn't always go according to plan.  In the books, that just doesn't happen and I'm sick of waiting for it to.

Sorry.  Had to rant there.  Was Double Dexter any different?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: stretcher on July 30, 2012, 10:16:12 PM
What I've taken from Dexter the character so far is that in his mind, like most psychopaths, he believes that he is more intelligent and cunning than he actually is. But I haven't even finished the first book yet, almost there, so we'll see if my opinion changes when this thing wraps up.

My only real criticism is that there are a few instances of droning - the author taking three paragraphs to embellish some thought Dexter had, when it could (and I think, should) have been said with far less words.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on July 31, 2012, 10:29:12 PM
The Dexter books came first? For some reason, I thought the books were adaptations or extra books based on the TV show (which I've seen about 5 episodes of). I might have to look into them, just to see if there's any fuss to be had.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on August 01, 2012, 03:10:54 PM
I've just finished "The sense of an ending"by Julian Barnes. It won the Man Booker last year. It is clever, well written, insightful, and with unpredictable plot twists...yet strangely unsatisfying. Almost too polished, too structured, too well thought through. For me it lacked some essential spark....

All the reviews I have read have been unreservedly positive though, and it did win the prize...so maybe I was just in a bad mood ...or something.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on August 02, 2012, 09:26:45 AM
I listened to Year Zero by Rob Reid.  Read by John Hodgman.

Really really funny.  Really really preachy (re. US IP law), but I'm the choir so that's OK.

Hodgman's delivery is picture perfect.

Can't talk about my favourite bits, because the left-field nature of some of the gags is part of the gag.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on August 02, 2012, 10:30:28 AM
I listened to Year Zero by Rob Reid.  Read by John Hodgman.

Really really funny.  Really really preachy (re. US IP law), but I'm the choir so that's OK.

Hodgman's delivery is picture perfect.

Can't talk about my favourite bits, because the left-field nature of some of the gags is part of the gag.

I am intrigued...IP law...funny...preachy...left-field ??? I will definitely check it out !
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Eternally Learning on August 02, 2012, 12:04:45 PM
The Dexter books came first? For some reason, I thought the books were adaptations or extra books based on the TV show (which I've seen about 5 episodes of). I might have to look into them, just to see if there's any fuss to be had.

Yup, the first book is pretty much the only one that really matches the show's plot and even in that they are very different.  Most of the book takes place in the first episode for instance and the rest of the season is mostly original; even the ending is different.  The second book shares some similar plot points as well.  After that I don't think they share much at all in common and the characters all take different paths then the show chose.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on August 02, 2012, 12:12:06 PM
I listened to Year Zero by Rob Reid.  Read by John Hodgman.

Really really funny.  Really really preachy (re. US IP law), but I'm the choir so that's OK.

Hodgman's delivery is picture perfect.

Can't talk about my favourite bits, because the left-field nature of some of the gags is part of the gag.

I am intrigued...IP law...funny...preachy...left-field ??? I will definitely check it out !

I"m honestly not sure how the printed version would be, because Hodgman's performance added so much.  I think it would still be great, but it's hard to say.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on August 03, 2012, 02:21:15 AM
The Dexter books came first? For some reason, I thought the books were adaptations or extra books based on the TV show (which I've seen about 5 episodes of). I might have to look into them, just to see if there's any fuss to be had.

Yup, the first book is pretty much the only one that really matches the show's plot and even in that they are very different.  Most of the book takes place in the first episode for instance and the rest of the season is mostly original; even the ending is different.  The second book shares some similar plot points as well.  After that I don't think they share much at all in common and the characters all take different paths then the show chose.
Interesting. Like I said, I haven't seen much of Dexter, but I liked what I saw.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: stretcher on August 04, 2012, 02:20:29 AM
A Midsummer Night's Dream for the like the tenth time. I'll never tire of this play.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on August 04, 2012, 02:23:26 AM
A Midsummer Night's Dream for the like the tenth time. I'll never tire of this play.
Forsooth and verily anon?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on August 04, 2012, 11:26:34 PM
Girl walks into a bar - Rachel Dratch   

Not recommended. I had no idea who she was before reading it and still don't or really care. I'm disappointed, I got it because Dan Savage pimped on his podcast and I had been listening to it while having a few beers and downloaded it from Amazon. I could kind of relate to getting older and being single but it just wasn't that funny. Also she mentions reading the secret and does not dismiss it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: stretcher on August 05, 2012, 01:08:14 AM
Halfway through this gem, Skinny: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/skinny-diana-spechler/1100567126?ean=9780062020369 (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/skinny-diana-spechler/1100567126?ean=9780062020369)

The eBook price was only a dollar so I jumped on it. Not the type of book I imagined myself reading after Double Dexter but it's good. Surprised how funny it is at times. I'm sure a lot is going over my head as well.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on August 05, 2012, 05:05:00 AM
Girl walks into a bar - Rachel Dratch   

Not recommended. I had no idea who she was before reading it and still don't or really care. I'm disappointed, I got it because Dan Savage pimped on his podcast and I had been listening to it while having a few beers and downloaded it from Amazon. I could kind of relate to getting older and being single but it just wasn't that funny. Also she mentions reading the secret and does not dismiss it.
This book sounds familiar--I think Marc Marron might have mentioned it on his podcast (when I was still listening regularly to it--interview style podcasts just don't really hold my attention for very long, especially when I have to skip the opening monologue because it's basically 5 minutes of commercial. I get that Marron has to add the commercials in order to be able to do the podcast, I just wish they were shorter.)

Anyway, the book has something to do with the author's dating life, isn't it?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on August 05, 2012, 05:06:22 AM
Halfway through this gem, Skinny: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/skinny-diana-spechler/1100567126?ean=9780062020369 (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/skinny-diana-spechler/1100567126?ean=9780062020369)

The eBook price was only a dollar so I jumped on it. Not the type of book I imagined myself reading after Double Dexter but it's good. Surprised how funny it is at times. I'm sure a lot is going over my head as well.
That sounds like something I could read. If only I had a Nook. :P
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on August 05, 2012, 09:42:28 AM
Yeah she was on SNL for awhile but I'm not really a fan of the show. It's had great points in it's history, but long long stretches of suck. Many years ago I just stopped bothering. She is from the time I never saw.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on August 05, 2012, 06:53:21 PM
Yeah she was on SNL for awhile but I'm not really a fan of the show. It's had great points in it's history, but long long stretches of suck. Many years ago I just stopped bothering. She is from the time I never saw.
THANK YOU. I thought I was the only one who doesn't think that SNL craps sunshine and rainbows and rose-smelling pots of gold. Yes, there are selected skits that I think are really great, but they happen too infrequently imo. Like "Dick in a Box"--sheer comic genius.

Then again, the show's been around for ever. It's bound to have some crappy periods (like The Simpsons).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on August 11, 2012, 05:55:25 AM
Dratch was a full-on character actor when she was on the show, more like Chris Parnell or Tim Meadows than Adam Sandler. Personally I thought she was really underrated. She also had a recurring role as the, um, cast in the first season of 30 Rock (she was in several episodes playing a different person in every one). If you liked the Will Ferrell years (I did), she was the female half of The Lovers sketch...

http://www.hulu.com/watch/4135 (http://www.hulu.com/watch/4135)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on August 11, 2012, 02:19:35 PM
She also had a recurring role as the, um, cast in the first season of 30 Rock (she was in several episodes playing a different person in every one).
Ok, that's pretty awesome. I might have to watch 30 Rock now.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Ah.hell on August 11, 2012, 03:41:49 PM
http://www.amazon.com/Voodoo-Histories-Conspiracy-Shaping-History/dp/1594488959 (http://www.amazon.com/Voodoo-Histories-Conspiracy-Shaping-History/dp/1594488959)
7/10 nothing ground breaking but a good introduction and overview of conspiracy theories from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to the 911 truthers.  Lots of interesting bits of trivia.  Apparently Gore Vidal was mild truther and pearl harbor conspiracist. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on August 11, 2012, 05:14:02 PM
She also had a recurring role as the, um, cast in the first season of 30 Rock (she was in several episodes playing a different person in every one).
Ok, that's pretty awesome. I might have to watch 30 Rock now.
Apparently she was going to play the Jenna Maroney character but it tested poorly. Although I like what Ally McBeal whatshername brings to the show, it would have been interesting to see what direction the show would have taken with Dratch as a co-star instead. Then again, without Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney (OKAY FINE I LOOKED IT UP) there is no "The Rural Juror" (i.e. "The Rur Jur") so maybe things worked out for the best.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on August 15, 2012, 08:31:04 AM
Amped - Douglas Richards

Freaking awesome! It's the second book and you do have to read Wired first. Its very fast paced thriller with sci-fi plot points but is a total page turner. I don't want to spoil anything but highly, highly recommend them both.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on August 16, 2012, 01:04:38 AM
The second book in the Christopher Moore vampire trilogy, entitled You Suck. The characters are fun, the book as a whole isn't nearly as good as the first but it's still funny and that saves it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on August 16, 2012, 02:21:09 AM
The second book in the Christopher Moore vampire trilogy, entitled You Suck. The characters are fun, the book as a whole isn't nearly as good as the first but it's still funny and that saves it.
I'm pretty sure I read the first one, and enjoyed it. Now I know what to read next--I just finished The Mind Master by Gregg Taylor. It's light and fluffy, and you* would probably only enjoy it if you listen to Decoder Ring Theatre. It took me only a couple of days to get through, partially because it's shortish, and partially because there's nothing terribly complex about the plot. (I don't mean those as criticisms, I love that it's light and fun.)


*general, not specific
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on August 18, 2012, 03:56:10 PM
So, yesterday being my first day off in 6 days, I did what any sophisticated young American would do on a Friday night: I read three books. Well, finished 2 and started/finished a third.

Book the 1st: Confessions of a D-List Supervillain by Jim Bernheimer. It was a nice light read, with interesting characters. You're basically dumped in the middle of the story, in that there is no sort start to the book--it's just "Wham! Earth is in peril, I'm kind of trying to save it, or at least this one hot chick." The protagonist (hero, if you will) is a smart-assed electrical engineer who doesn't come off as having no personality or being Aspie. There's nothing greatly intellectual about the book, but it does touch on some themes that I like--question authority being the one that comes to mind right now.

iirc, David E recommended this book some time ago--good one, Dave.

Book the 2nd: The Android Assassins by Gregg Taylor. Another really light and easy read from the same guy who brings me my biweekly fix of radio drama entertainment. There is a street war involving robots and humans. That is all.

Book the 3rd: The League of Extraordinary Men by Alan Moore. Holy frak, this series is crazy. Also lots of TA&P. And violence. And sex. And sexual violence. I'm not sure I understand the story, but it's dark, grim, and I'm not sure the 'good guys' won, so maybe I do like it. I do like the art, I know that much.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Samhain on August 21, 2012, 04:42:37 PM
Do The Birds Still Sing In Hell? by Horace 'Jim' Greasley

I sought out this book after seeing this photo in one of those compilations of "powerful" photos that is often forwarded around.

(http://www.newyorksocialdiary.com/i/partypictures/02_16_10/horace-greasley_1577382c.jpg)

I just had to learn more about the guy who had balls to stand up to Heinrich Himmler.  The book tells Jim's story of his life as a  POW for 5 years less a day during WW2 and how he and his fellow countrymen relied upon one another to stay alive.  Amidst the first person retelling of the atrocities of the war is also a love story as Jim recounts the times (200!) he escaped from the POW camp to meet up with the Silesian daughter of the man who ran one of the work camps.  A wonderful read.  WW2 always fascinates me and I never tire reading about some of the triumphs during one of the blackest times in human history.  Luckily my local library had a copy of this because it is out of print and was over $50 on Amazon.   
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on August 21, 2012, 08:43:58 PM
I finished Bite Me by Christopher Moore yesterday. Not as good, I think, as the previous two, but still a really great wrap up. Imo, he spent too much time with the Abby Normal diary blurbs. They were nice scattered throughout You Suck but there were too many in Bite Me.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on August 25, 2012, 06:16:36 PM
Coincidentally I just finished that ish too and yeah, same here. Overall I think it would have benefitted from like around a hundred more pages of story. Maybe that's just me though.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on August 26, 2012, 09:14:16 PM
Coincidentally I just finished that ish too and yeah, same here. Overall I think it would have benefitted from like around a hundred more pages of story. Maybe that's just me though.
Slow poke. Yeah, it did feel a bit rushed. I really really really wanted more Chet the vampire cat.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on August 26, 2012, 09:42:17 PM
YA RLY. He was there for a bit, the book alluded to the cosmic oneness of vapor with him and then the human vampire buddies, and then that seemed to be little more than an excuse for Jodie and C. Thomas to have something even wilder than wild monkey sex. I also wanted to see more of the vampire crew and the samurai, especially as it's pretty clear that this was going to be the final book of the trilogy (maybe Moore goes back to it in 10 years or so if he gets bored but probably not). Meh. It's still clear from reading it that this is the same guy who wrote The Gospel of Biff and Sacre Bleu, which is part of what makes it kind of frustrating.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on August 27, 2012, 04:09:10 AM
Have you read any of the Pine Cove books? The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove is both bizarre and hilarious. It's a great follow-up to Practical Demonkeeping.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on August 27, 2012, 09:59:07 AM
I have not. I kind of want to supplement my Christopher Moore list but OTOH maybe not after that book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on August 27, 2012, 04:55:39 PM
Well, at least give Lust Lizard... a chance.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: teethering on August 28, 2012, 12:31:20 PM
I'm powering my way through the Sharpe series and enjoying it quite a bit.  7/10 so far I think.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on December 03, 2014, 08:04:57 AM
The Mongoliad book 2- 4/10
Its lost a huge amount of momentum from the first book. The threads I was interested in were barely addressed and the accurate medieval fighting which was my main attraction to the series was way too sparse (though amazing when it occured)
Theres was too many intrigue sub plots introduced in Rome with loads of priests and spies double crossing each other over something I dont give a shit about. I started skimming those chapters big time and it was a struggle not to skip them. In the next book I may do just that and only follow the  Shield Brother/Sister threads.
One thing I noticed is that as an atheist its especially hard to care about all these good guy characters who are struggling because of visions from god. In non historical fantasy I find that much easier to take I think. Especially as one character lets an attacker in while he is on sentry because he was having visions. No. You were asleep dickhead.

Jack Reacher: Personal 4/10
Jack Reacher books suck. They are really awful and clichéd and shallow. But Im hooked on them because of the noir simplicity of it all.
I laughed out loud multiple times during the book but I wasnt supposed to. Some highlights:
Reacher arrested for breaching the peace in Paris. In the jail he bullies a drunk off his seat because you have to establish the pecking order early apparently. They let him out 30min later.
Reacher finds a gun and some bullets in London. But he has no bag and the ammo box wont fit his pocket!!
Does he take the ammo and discard the box? Dont be silly. He spends an entire page going to Tesco and buying a bag for life that he can carry his bullets around in.
I guess he will shoot one handed so he doesnt drop his shopping? This never comes up again in the story and SPOILER
He barely uses the gun.
I didnt bother to put that in a spoiler box because fuck this book. And I will buy the next one next September.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on December 03, 2014, 11:33:52 AM
Game of Thrones.  3/10, couldn't finish it.
I get that this is a problem with me and not the book.  Just didn't give a shit, found myself never turning it on (audio book) for about 6-7 weeks.  I got about 15 hours in.  Since I lemmed it 2 weeks ago, I've finished two and a half other books.


The Widow's House, Daniel Abraham (book 4 in Dagger and Coin series). 9/10
Gobbled this one down in record time.  I've loved the characters and worldbuilding going on here.  Highly recommend.  (This guy is one half of the pen name James S. A. Corey, who write the Expanse series, my favourite ongoing series right now, soon to be adapted on Syfy.)


Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, original radio play.  8/10
I grok this series.  Half the fun of it is that the story changes between media, with dramatic and minor alterations all over the place.  I hadn't heard the radio play before (and haven't seen the stage production), and I really enjoyed noticing new gags and different plot points.


The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Heinlein.  7/10
As I get older and more mellow, I identify with Heinlein less and less.  Would have been 10/10 when I was 25.  I enjoy the look back/look forward of old SF written in the past but set in the future.  Interesting to see all of the things that seem so obvious that are totally missed.  The blind spot with things getting printed on paper or spoken by voice as the only ways to communicate...
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Ah.hell on December 03, 2014, 12:52:12 PM
The Mongoliad book 2- 4/10
Its lost a huge amount of momentum from the first book. The threads I was interested in were barely addressed and the accurate medieval fighting which was my main attraction to the series was way too sparse (though amazing when it occured)
Theres was too many intrigue sub plots introduced in Rome with loads of priests and spies double crossing each other over something I dont give a shit about. I started skimming those chapters big time and it was a struggle not to skip them. In the next book I may do just that and only follow the  Shield Brother/Sister threads.
One thing I noticed is that as an atheist its especially hard to care about all these good guy characters who are struggling because of visions from god. In non historical fantasy I find that much easier to take I think. Especially as one character lets an attacker in while he is on sentry because he was having visions. No. You were asleep dickhead. 
I agree 95%, 5% because I'd probably give it more like a 2 or 3.  I'd give the first book something like a 6 because I think it has a lot of potential and the ancient sorta secret military orders could have made for a really great series of books.  Doesn't seem like it will anymore.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on December 03, 2014, 12:57:02 PM
I know this is CONTROVERSIAL but I just don't think the writing in GoT is all that good. I've found fantasy that is lively and readable and doesn't have bits in it where a particularly badly written passage doesn't take me out of the book, but GoT is not it. Maybe the TV show is better; it certainly has the added bonus of not having to read it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on December 03, 2014, 01:02:39 PM
I know this is CONTROVERSIAL but I just don't think the writing in GoT is all that good. I've found fantasy that is lively and readable and doesn't have bits in it where a particularly badly written passage doesn't take me out of the book, but GoT is not it. Maybe the TV show is better; it certainly has the added bonus of not having to read it.

It's kind of a Tolkien-ish thing.  For both Middle Earth and Westeros, I find the worldbuilding to be fascinating, and the cast of characters to be interesting, and the overall story to be a good one with delightful twists and turns, but the actual paragraph-by-paragraph writing just isn't that great.  The difference for me is that Tolkien grabbed me right in the balls when I was young and impressionable while Martin waited until I was older.  I think that if I came across Tolkien for the first time now, I probably would also find it unwieldy/uninspiring.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on December 03, 2014, 01:03:52 PM
Yeah, that's essentially exactly where I am with Martin.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on December 03, 2014, 01:15:40 PM
I think some of it might be that it's not new to me.  I went REALLY deep into Middle Earth lore back in the day, probably 99th percentile stuff (as deep as multiple readings of the 12-volume History of Middle Earth series).  If I hadn't had this experience once already (and, frankly, even a second time to a lesser extent with the Wheel of Time setting), the novelty of the depth of the world might be enough that I would go all-in.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on December 03, 2014, 02:57:26 PM
While I do think Martin's writing is very good, in that it's vivid and pops with vitality, I have trouble getting into his books. It's me, and not the writer. I just don't care that much for fantasy. I just don't care for stories where every problem, no matter how serious, can be resolved with a bit of magic. And, I just can't accept a society in which magic exists, but no social advancements have taken place in centuries.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on December 03, 2014, 07:51:48 PM
For me with Martin it was the momentum and wondering what was going to happen to my favourite characters.
Right now the momentum has slowed and Ive been kicked so many times that I dont really care.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on December 04, 2014, 10:08:16 AM
Martin also suffers from SaS (successful author syndrome) with a tendency to pad and a reluctance by his publisher to edit. Editors encourage new authors to trim to the bone. ("Hey, we don't know if this shit'll sell. We don't want to get stuck with five thousand unsold copies of your 200,000-word tome.") With someone like Martin or Steven King, sales are a sure thing, so the bigger the book the better. ("Pad! Pad like there's no tomorrow. We can get double the cover price if you make it 500,000 words.")
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on December 04, 2014, 11:42:19 AM
Fantasy suffers especially from that.
What do readers like? Initials!! Get some initials on the cover! And make the book REALLY thick because no one reads less than an epic!
I always thought David Gemmel was great at telling short and sharp adventures that tie into a bigger picture.
That trilogy I loved recently starting with Theft of Swords was amazing but it feels very much like it was supposed to be 6 smaller books as halfway through each one,  the plot is resolved, theres a recap and time shift and a new problem comes to the fore.
Thats one of those books that makes me wish for an MIB neuralizer so I can keep re reading it for the first time.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on December 04, 2014, 11:47:58 AM
That trilogy I loved recently starting with Theft of Swords was amazing but it feels very much like it was supposed to be 6 smaller books as halfway through each one,  the plot is resolved, theres a recap and time shift and a new problem comes to the fore.
Thats one of those books that makes me wish for an MIB neuralizer so I can keep re reading it for the first time.

Yeah those ones were good.  I believe the author had them serialized online for free, then self-published, then got a traditional publishing deal.  I won the first book in a contest, bought the next two, and then got the audiobooks.


(ETA: If you liked Theft of Swords, I really recommend Dagger and Coin series I mentioned above.  Scratched that same itch for me.)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on December 04, 2014, 05:12:19 PM
"Waking Up", Sam Harris, 10/10. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Desert Fox on December 05, 2014, 09:21:45 AM
"Waking Up", Sam Harris, 10/10.

I read his Moral Landscape and I think it could have been written as a pamphlet. . . .Too much verbiage
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on December 06, 2014, 12:52:08 AM
"Waking Up", Sam Harris, 10/10.

I read his Moral Landscape and I think it could have been written as a pamphlet. . . .Too much verbiage

Well, that is a rather technical read.  This book is quite dissimilar.  The subtitle is "a guide to spirituality without religion". 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Desert Fox on December 06, 2014, 08:55:54 AM
"Waking Up", Sam Harris, 10/10.

I read his Moral Landscape and I think it could have been written as a pamphlet. . . .Too much verbiage

Well, that is a rather technical read.  This book is quite dissimilar.  The subtitle is "a guide to spirituality without religion".

What does he actually mean by "Spirituality?"
I am pretty leery about the idea
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on December 06, 2014, 11:51:35 PM
"Waking Up", Sam Harris, 10/10.

I read his Moral Landscape and I think it could have been written as a pamphlet. . . .Too much verbiage

Well, that is a rather technical read.  This book is quite dissimilar.  The subtitle is "a guide to spirituality without religion".

What does he actually mean by "Spirituality?"
I am pretty leery about the idea

The concept of realising that one is not separate from one's consciousness. Sort of. 

The sort of thing one can experience with LSD or a lot of serious meditation practice.

Sam is complete atheist (as well as a neuroscientist, philosopher and MMA fighter), he wrote the book on it (The End of Faith).  I really liked this book; compelling and enjoyable style.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on December 11, 2014, 07:50:23 AM
"Waking Up", Sam Harris, 10/10.

I read his Moral Landscape and I think it could have been written as a pamphlet. . . .Too much verbiage

Well, that is a rather technical read.  This book is quite dissimilar.  The subtitle is "a guide to spirituality without religion".

What does he actually mean by "Spirituality?"
I am pretty leery about the idea

The concept of realising that one is not separate from one's consciousness. Sort of. 

The sort of thing one can experience with LSD or a lot of serious meditation practice.

Sam is complete atheist (as well as a neuroscientist, philosopher and MMA fighter), he wrote the book on it (The End of Faith).  I really liked this book; compelling and enjoyable style.

Sounds great - I'm going to get it tonight on my Kindle.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on December 11, 2014, 08:12:46 AM
I've just finished David Mitchell's 'The Bone Clocks' - its great: a nice meaty read with complex characters and plot lines. He skips between genres but it all comes together (kaleidoscopically) in the end.

Also: Murakami's latest offering : "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his years of pilgrimage". It was OK - easy reading - too short. A bit disappointing all round - not up to the standard of his classics like 'Dance,Dance,Dance' and 'Hard Boiled Wonderland'.

And I recently read 'Netherland' by Joseph O'Neil. What a masterpiece. O'Neil's latest book: "The Dog" is hilarious and also highly recommended.

Joshua Ferris' "To Rise Again at a Decent Hour" is also pretty funny - as are some of the David Nicholls books I've read recently: "Us", "The Understudy" and "Starter for Ten"

"The Blazing World" by Siri Hustvedt is sensational.

"We are all completely besides ourselves" by Karen Joy Fowler is also very good.

Actually, come to think of it, I've pretty much burned through the entire Man-Booker longlist since it was released and there was not one book I really disliked.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on December 12, 2014, 01:18:49 PM
Hmm. The Murakami I've read so far has been 1Q84 and The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. So these are NOT the classics?? Dammit, I'm gonna have to pick up those other books then.

I've mostly been reading goofy stuff lately. The two books I'm working on now are The Dueling Neurosurgeons by Sam Kean, which is a bit more high-falutin' than I've been reading, and a book called Ranger Confidential (about the life of a US Parks Service ranger), which is probably mostly in-line. I did just finish a rather dry book on airline disasters, I guess, which was nice in explaining what exactly went wrong at Tenerife.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on December 12, 2014, 01:44:18 PM
Hmm. The Murakami I've read so far has been 1Q84 and The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. So these are NOT the classics?? Dammit, I'm gonna have to pick up those other books then.

I've mostly been reading goofy stuff lately. The two books I'm working on now are The Dueling Neurosurgeons by Sam Kean, which is a bit more high-falutin' than I've been reading, and a book called Ranger Confidential (about the life of a US Parks Service ranger), which is probably mostly in-line. I did just finish a rather dry book on airline disasters, I guess, which was nice in explaining what exactly went wrong at Tenerife.

1Q84 I did not enjoy - but the Wind Up Bird Chronicle is also a classic imo - I had forgotten about that one.

I'm part way through "Waking Up" by Sam Harris (as recommended by Lonely Moa). I am also enjoying it - but I've read quite a lot about mindfulness and meditation and so far I am a little disappointed that Sam has not come up with another (easier) route to contentment. I find meditation extremely difficult - tho' I must say I haven't tried since I started with the Ritalin so it might be worth another try. My experience with spirituality mirrors Sam's in some ways - I would have been completely disbelieving of a truly spiritual felling of boundless love and unity with everything had it not been for drugs. Most significantly with a microdot of LSD but also with MDMA. Sam is correct to say that the experience is not like alcohol or marijuana where your senses are distorted - rather you remain clear headed (or perhaps it just seems that way). Sam articulated his experiences with drugs much more articulately than I ever have though. Nowdays, for me, drugs are just too much hassle and too risky so (like Sam) I would also like to find an alternative. I wish meditation was as easy as just taking drugs though.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on December 12, 2014, 02:52:44 PM

I'm part way through "Waking Up" by Sam Harris (as recommended by Lonely Moa). I am also enjoying it - but I've read quite a lot about mindfulness and meditation and so far I am a little disappointed that Sam has not come up with another (easier) route to contentment. I find meditation extremely difficult - tho' I must say I haven't tried since I started with the Ritalin so it might be worth another try. My experience with spirituality mirrors Sam's in some ways - I would have been completely disbelieving of a truly spiritual felling of boundless love and unity with everything had it not been for drugs. Most significantly with a microdot of LSD but also with MDMA. Sam is correct to say that the experience is not like alcohol or marijuana where your senses are distorted - rather you remain clear headed (or perhaps it just seems that way). Sam articulated his experiences with drugs much more articulately than I ever have though. Nowdays, for me, drugs are just too much hassle and too risky so (like Sam) I would also like to find an alternative. I wish meditation was as easy as just taking drugs though.

Sorry, but I think you are stuck with meditation.  He does give examples of spontaneous enlightenment.  One could look up some of the extant masters he has studied under and go there, but that would be a lot of effort; one would have to be keen, as he is.  I try to keep up the practice I learned a decade ago to deal with an ugly disease.  I don't think I am any closer to enlightenment but I don't take less important things as seriously.
 
Like you, my psychedelic days are long past.  Ten cent trips led to far too may very long excursions. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Billzbub on December 17, 2014, 12:45:16 PM
I'm listening to the audio book of Lock In by John Scalzi narrated by Wil Wheaton right now.  I'm only about half way through, but I wanted to mention it here because when the author describes the science in his science fiction, I get a very subtle skeptical vibe from him as if he is a reader of Neurologica or similar content.  I'm very much enjoying the book so far, and I look forward to seeing if the payoff at the end of the book is as fun as the beginning of the book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on December 19, 2014, 01:29:24 PM
The Martian by Andy Weir - 8/10

If I wanted to be generous to a first-time author this book would easily be a 10/10, because the overall story is fantastic and surprisingly original.  Clearly written for engineers and space tech enthusiasts, it takes you step by step through all of the nasty hazards that a stranded astronaut has to navigate to survive on Mars.  I'm sure there are some cheats on the science somewhere in this book but I sure as hell couldn't spot them.  From battery efficiencies to atmospheric composition to planetary alignment effects on orbital trajectories, no stone is left unturned.  With all these intricate details one might expect a gigantic sleep-inducing tome, but the pacing is very quick and easy to read.

My only complaint is the style of writing that the author/main character employs throughout the book.  It's meant to be informal and friendly but I found it just plain annoying.  Could have done without the nerd jokes every five pages.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on December 19, 2014, 04:21:15 PM
I loved The Martian, corny jokes and all.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Ah.hell on December 28, 2014, 11:27:04 AM
Zealot: Life and Times of Jesus of Nazereth by Resa Aslan.  7.5/10, If your into history its pretty good.  He draws a lot of conclusions about Jesus from very little actual information which is inevitable really.

  He paints a pretty dim picture of the Jewish priests of the time and thinks Jesus was a messianic Jewish reformer who's message was basically, "I'm god's King of the Jews and when he puts me in charge, its gonna suck for anyone with money or power and be pretty awesome for poor Jews but not so good for anyone else."  He also spends a few chapters on how Paul's version became the orthodox version of Christianity even though it was radically different from Jesus's.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on December 28, 2014, 07:04:56 PM
"Virgin: The Untouched History" by Hanne Blank. It's exactly what the title says it is, though the perspective is decidedly "heterosexual cis woman from the West". If you can look past that (which, given the scarcity of historical evidence for queer folk bc queer erasure, you kind of have to), it's a really fascinating foray into how the West has developed ideas about virginity. I'd love to know about virginity from a more diverse perspective, but virginity is still one of those topics that just kind of doesn't get talked about. It's everywhere, but no one seems all that interested in talking about it.

There was a great bit in the book near the end where Blank dissects the focus on abstinence in recent years; how abstinence is something that even non-virgins can do, so that's why we've seen a shift from obsessing over virginity towards obsessing over abstinence as a way to stay Pure.

8/10, would highly recommend.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on December 31, 2014, 06:01:37 AM
Sounds interesting - will read it.

I've just finished 2 un-put-downable, clever thrillers by Gillian Flynn. 'Darkplaces' and 'Gone Girl'. Both were really well written and unpredictable.Totally addictive. Highly recommended. She has also written one called 'Sharp Objects' which I plan to spend my New Years Eve with. Maybe a martini or two with it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on December 31, 2014, 06:02:32 AM
Aahh  - Virgins:Untouched History'is not available on Kindle. But I discovered that Hanne Blank wrote some other interesting titles like 'The Unapologetic Fat Girls Guide to Exercise', 'Big Big Love' and 'Unruly Appetites- Erotic Stories'....
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on December 31, 2014, 06:17:09 AM
Aahh  - Virgins etc is not available on Kindle
D: What?! *checks*

Maybe it's because you're not US? Because: http://www.amazon.com/Virgin-Untouched-History-Hanne-Blank-ebook/dp/B002UM5BUK/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid= (http://www.amazon.com/Virgin-Untouched-History-Hanne-Blank-ebook/dp/B002UM5BUK/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=)

(Also, I listened to the audiobook.)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on December 31, 2014, 06:22:26 AM
Even on that link it says 'this book is not available for purchase'. Strange. I've got audible credits though and need a new audio book so I'll get the audio book. love audio books - hands free for martini and peanuts!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 01, 2015, 01:33:36 AM
Even on that link it says 'this book is not available for purchase'. Strange. I've got audible credits though and need a new audio book so I'll get the audio book. love audio books - hands free for martini and peanuts!
*euphemism detected*
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on January 02, 2015, 02:02:28 PM
The Mongoliad Book 3
After my annoyance with the last book I skipped every chapter that didnt have knights or mongol warriors in it. That was a good decision, I enjoyed the book immensely and was never confused about anything that was happening. It really seems like the courtly intrigue is just there to broaden the audience and if it becomes relevant or confusing in book 4 I will consult a wiki.
The fights in this were even better than the last. The military tactics and gambits were really cool and the hardships and reality of a life in armour from day to day were well realised.
There were air punching moments and terrible moments as characters you like fell or won.
It encouraged me to read the history of the real historical characters which was pretty cool also amd would make a great movie. Ive also been watching lots of videos about medieval weaponry and fighting styles so the series pointed me in alot of interesting directions.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Louie on January 02, 2015, 04:53:05 PM
The Mongoliad Book 3

I'm pretty disappointed in The Mongoliad. Sure, no one geeks out over medieval weaponry and tactics quite like Stephenson et al, but none of the characters managed to come to life for me. I've read the first two books of The Mongoliad, but nothing's really clicked on that front. Stephenson's solo efforts are often also a bit flat when it comes to character development, but the notable exceptions (Jack Shaftoe!) really stand out for me.

I've just finished 2 un-put-downable, clever thrillers by Gillian Flynn. 'Darkplaces' and 'Gone Girl'.

I watched the Gone Girl film over Christmas. If you've not seen it yet, it's definitely worth a look, although I'm guessing the plot developments won't have quite the same impact on someone who's read the book. It's an unsettling but strangely riveting flick.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on January 02, 2015, 06:19:25 PM
The Shell Collector - Hugh Howey 5/10

This was a huge disappointment. I'm pretty obsessed with Hugh Howey. Other than his YA series I've read everything he's written, and loved 90% of it. The things I didn't love I at least appreciated. I bought this during the pre-sale and read it the moment it came out. Howey has two major strengths: he does a great job creating these detailed future sci-fi worlds and then he does a great job with revealing twists at exactly the right moments to make the reading experience super satisfying. I found neither of those elements in this book. They were both present, just done very poorly this time around.

The story is of a reporter doing a story and following a reclusive oil tycoon who has helped destroy the environment in this future where climate change has severely impacted the world. So the first major issue is that it isn't very clear what exactly is different about the world other than some extinctions and some rising sea levels. He misses out on one of his two major strengths by not being explicit enough in creating the world. Then he has the oil tycoon tell the reporter he is going to reveal things slowly to her (which is way less clever than I'm used to with Howey) and the reveals are all super disappointing.

Many of his books are parts of series. I'm super glad this is an exception.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on January 02, 2015, 06:38:48 PM
Louie - Definitely a bit weak on character development. But thats not always an issue for me. I dont need my characters to change if they achieve something.
But the shift in characters is definitely stark. In one chapter Andreas is an impetuos young soldier trying to avoid command. In the next (years later) he takes ownership of a pretty high responsibility.
I felt really satisfied at the end of the book but Im not sure I care where book 4 is going.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on January 07, 2015, 11:05:29 AM
I see one of my favourite authors,Peter Carey,has released a new book called 'Amnesia'. It seems to be getting bum reviews.Has anyone read it?

'Virgini: The Untouched History'  is great.I'm about 3/4 thru (insomnia playing up!).Great recommendation,Panda. My favourite kind of book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on January 07, 2015, 11:33:45 AM
Anyone that enjoys xkcd should go buy Randall Munroe's new book What If?   With 50% less drawings and 400% more science, this is the perfect coffee table book (or bathroom book) that you can pick up for a few minutes and then ponder for the the rest of the day.  What happens when you try to hit a baseball going 90% the speed of light?  Which has more theoretical bandwidth, FedEx or the entire internet?  What if someone physically made a periodic table composed of the corresponding elements?  Munroe's fans disprove the old adage about there being no stupid questions, but he demonstrates you can spin a horrid question into a fascinating answer with a dash of science.

9/10
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on January 07, 2015, 12:42:06 PM
Which has more theoretical bandwidth, FedEx or the entire internet? 

Ha... one of my old Information Theory text books had a quote something like "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of CDs driving down the Interstate."
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on January 07, 2015, 02:36:06 PM
Which has more theoretical bandwidth, FedEx or the entire internet? 

Ha... one of my old Information Theory text books had a quote something like "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of CDs driving down the Interstate."

The actual question was when would the internet bandwidth overtake FedEx shipping.  If you assume Moore's Law continues to apply across the board for microelectronics, the answer is likely NEVER.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 14, 2015, 04:49:01 AM
Just finished NK Jemisin's "The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms". I'd give it a solid 7 out of 10. This is, I think, actually my second reading of it, but I don't remember what I thought of it the first time I read it because I have the audiobook and I think I kept getting distracted throughout the reading. I have the second book on my Kindle, though I don't remember buying it. Oops.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on January 14, 2015, 04:52:57 AM
I have the second book on my Kindle, though I don't remember buying it. Oops.

I also find late night impulsive 'mystery' kindle purchases.They just make it too easy to buy from them...
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 14, 2015, 04:54:43 AM
I have the second book on my Kindle, though I don't remember buying it. Oops.

I also find late night impulsive 'mystery' kindle purchases.They just make it too easy to buy from them...
I own a print copy of Ancillary Justice as well as an ebook copy. I bought the print copy second. I also own Sex at Dawn in print and audio format. This wasn't on purpose. :(

On the other hand, impulse Kindle purchases weigh much less than impulse deadtree books.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on January 14, 2015, 10:37:00 AM
Ooh, thanks for the reminder.  I'm finally at a point where my Audible credits aren't pre-assigned so I snapped it up.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 14, 2015, 02:11:46 PM
Oh I have Audible credits! I forgot about that.

sent by magic space elves

Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on January 14, 2015, 02:37:41 PM
The Devil in the White City (http://www.amazon.com/Devil-White-City-Erik-Larson-ebook/dp/B000FC0ZIA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421263968&sr=8-1&keywords=the+devil+in+the+white+city&pebp=1421263973047&peasin=B000FC0ZIA) by Erik Larson

7.5/10

Seemed like the author wrote two books, but tried to make them one book. Extremely interesting story about the Columbian Expo in Chicago in 1893 and the events around it, including the pieced together tale of a serial killer preying on fairgoers.

Kind of speculative in spots, but at least Larson's research was solid.

I would recommend.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on January 16, 2015, 11:43:27 PM
The Devil in the White City (http://www.amazon.com/Devil-White-City-Erik-Larson-ebook/dp/B000FC0ZIA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421263968&sr=8-1&keywords=the+devil+in+the+white+city&pebp=1421263973047&peasin=B000FC0ZIA) by Erik Larson

7.5/10

Seemed like the author wrote two books, but tried to make them one book. Extremely interesting story about the Columbian Expo in Chicago in 1893 and the events around it, including the pieced together tale of a serial killer preying on fairgoers.

Kind of speculative in spots, but at least Larson's research was solid.

I would recommend.

I guess I never posted my review here, but if you like large-scale-engineering-projects-at-the-turn-of-the-century-books, check out The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough.  Similar scenario except with about 100X the cost and fatality rates, along with plenty of political leaders completely ignoring sensible advice from scientists and engineers.  And a way more devious pair of serial killers too, that people insisted for years weren't killing anyone.  Their names were Aedes Aegypti and Anopholes Gambiae.

10/10
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Ambious on January 17, 2015, 04:33:32 AM
The Martian by Andy Weir (http://www.amazon.com/Martian-Andy-Weir-ebook/dp/B00EMXBDMA/)
9/10

Talk about hard Sci-Fi, this book is more science AND fiction than "Science Fiction". Mark Watney is an astronaut in a team of six sent to Mars as part of an ongoing and intricate scientific mission called the "Ares" program. The novel opens with the crew evacuating their habitat on Mars in wake of a devastating sandstorm, and with Watney being hit by flying debris and presumed dead by his crewmates, who get on the rescue vehicle and launch back to earth. But Watney survived, and so remained alone - on Mars - with no way to communicate back to earth.
Most of the novel is about Watney fighting the odds to survive and finding different ways to overcome the obvious obstacles such as having sustainable amounts of food, air, water, etc, but also about his efforts to establish communications with NASA and make sure he can survive long enough to be rescued. It's very tense at times, and very personal at others, with some of the most gripping action I've read in written form (especially towards the end).
The novel makes no attempts to reinvent technology and as far as I could tell, perhaps with one small exception, remains within the boundaries of our current scientific and technological knowledge (it's extremely hard to pinpoint when in the future this happens, if at all, given that all the technology mentioned is pretty much stuff we already have), and features a lot of engineering and math 'nods'.
I was surprised to learn that this was actually being made into a movie (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3659388/) and even more surprised with the main casting decision as Watney is supposed to be a light-hearted funny-guy while Matt Damon, is well... Matt Damon, but most of the other casting makes sense. I just hope they don't butcher TOO much.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on January 17, 2015, 09:19:14 AM
Been a long time, here are some of my favs since I left:

The First Law Trilogy: Joe Ambercrombie.

Say one thing about Joe, say he's an optimist 8.5/10 Near perfect. Love the series. Loved the setting. Loved the characters. But I am a sucker for Grimdark material.

Thorns trilogy: Mark Lawerance 9.5/10

Lawerance, a sceintist, manages to blend fantasy, dystopian and hard-sci together. His writing is tight and laconic, but powerful and quotable. Highly recommend his entire series. He has also just started a new trilogy in the same 'verse. And, best of all, Lawerance is very affable and responsive on twitter.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 18, 2015, 04:09:04 AM
"Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche 10/10 perfect, flawless, I will never read a more perfect book
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on January 19, 2015, 12:38:07 PM
"Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche 10/10 perfect, flawless, I will never read a more perfect book

Jeez- that good!? OK then, it's next on the list.

Netherland by Joseph O'Neill was also brilliant at portraying foreigners life in America.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on January 21, 2015, 08:06:12 PM
I'm currently reading "Killing Floor" by Lee Childs, the first book in the Jack Reacher series. One often expects an author's first work to be a bit uneven but this thing is just plain glorious, especially if you read the introduction along with it.

- Dude said he wanted to create an "old fashioned hero" without any of those, you know, weakness things that make modern characters so whiny and stuff. He's just, like, better than everybody else. Sometimes I feel like these are the best kinds of books because the characters still get flaws just by the normal machinations of the plot and so on, and an awful lot of the time you gain great insight into what the author considers to be a flaw and what to be some kind of inverse advantage. For example, this guy so far seems to have absolutely no ear for social cues. It's all written from his perspective so you don't necessarily see all the people getting mad when he's all abrupt and dumb with them, but that's still there.

- The book was clearly written from the perspective of a British dude who has spent like 3 days in New York City with his wife this one time. The book starts out (and I assume is based in) a small town outside of Atlanta, which, you may remember, is known as Hotlanta because of its cool, Seattle-esque climate (just kidding, it's known as that because it's hot as balls). There is a scene where he steps outside and remarks how refreshing it is that the sun has just come out after a big rain. If you have ever actually been in Georgia during the summer, you will know that this is basically the opposite of a refreshing experience. The air is so thick you can practically swim through it, any movement whatsoever causes you to sweat (or, at least, for pools of water-like substance to form about your body - it could just be the air wringing itself out on you, who knows), and the rain never even really does all that great of a job of stopping the heat, especially if there's a sunbreak (which is what happens in the book). So I'm left thinking that Reacher is either a severe masochist or has no idea what the word "refreshing" actually means. I really, really hope that Childs keeps with this and later speaks of the refreshing feeling of having a ballpeen hammer slammed against one's temple, but I will guess that I will be disappointed in that regard.

- There are several scenes already where I just wish Childs had, instead of deciding where a scene ought to head and then writing it with the specific notion of getting to that end (by the way, he also said he disliked the "lose-lose-lose-win" method of serial storytelling that is rather popular and wanted instead to use something like "win-win-win-win", which I guess makes for badassery but also generally makes for one boring fucking story. "Oh look! Some other dude just tried to fight Leonardo! Nope. He got his ass kicked too. We win again! Hooray!"), he would have the characters in the story seriously stop and react to some of the bullshit he has the Reacher character say.

For instance, there is a scene where Reacher, who was picked up without any identification on his person of any kind, is hauled in for questioning about a local murder. The detective on duty (actually, I think he was the "head of the homicide department", which is kind of hilarious for a town of maybe 20,000 people at the absolute most to have) asks him what he used to do for a living and after being short, he finally answers "homicide detective for the Army". This turns out to be the truth, but still... if I'm a small town southern 'detective' (we'll pretend this is a thing in this area and they don't just have a sheriff and a couple deputies handling crime in this place), there is no f'ing way I am taking that at face value. I'd even go so far as to say that I'd probably think the guy is trying to make fun of me. Time for some "enhanced interrogations", tough guy... but no, they let him off the hook rather easily from that because reasons.

Anyway, it's not "good", but it is "very bad" and that can sometimes be sustainably entertaining for a book or two (and he does write in concise, coherent sentences so at least you can follow the action), so I'm definitely staying with this.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on January 21, 2015, 09:45:51 PM
Stalingrad: the battle that shattered Hitler's dream of world domination 4/10

It's a little less than ok. The author cites numbers but doesn't try to contextualize the horror of the war. If you want a dry re-counting of orders, numbers and dates, this book is great. I was hoping for some first hand accounts, some attempt to identify as either a German or a Russian-- at the very least, a look into the insanity of an all out total war.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Redamare on January 21, 2015, 10:42:03 PM
Kings of Infinite Space by James Hynes, 9/10.

Very interesting story that makes you root for this guy who is actually a philandering, condescending asshole. Supernatural elements abound, but it pulls you into a rich world and keeps you wondering what happens next. Lots of literary allusions, office humor, and Texas heat. Also, some sex.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on January 21, 2015, 11:18:48 PM
Stalingrad: the battle that shattered Hitler's dream of world domination 4/10

It's a little less than ok. The author cites numbers but doesn't try to contextualize the horror of the war. If you want a dry re-counting of orders, numbers and dates, this book is great. I was hoping for some first hand accounts, some attempt to identify as either a German or a Russian-- at the very least, a look into the insanity of an all out total war.

If this post isn't colored by exposure to Dan Carlin, you need to look up his podcast.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on January 22, 2015, 12:31:34 AM
Stalingrad: the battle that shattered Hitler's dream of world domination 4/10

It's a little less than ok. The author cites numbers but doesn't try to contextualize the horror of the war. If you want a dry re-counting of orders, numbers and dates, this book is great. I was hoping for some first hand accounts, some attempt to identify as either a German or a Russian-- at the very least, a look into the insanity of an all out total war.

If this post isn't colored by exposure to Dan Carlin, you need to look up his podcast.

It is. Listening to his Armageddon recounting of WWI. I don't know if he's specifically covered the eastern front in WWII yet-- if he has I would love it hear it. One of my favourite books of all time is, All Quiet on the Western Front, which i read in highschool and have re-read a few times since. I feel like the horror of what these men endured as been largely forgotten. I can't imagine, I mean my mind breaks, when I think about WWI conditions, or even the small handful of stories my grandfather told about WWII.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 23, 2015, 08:36:35 AM
"Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche 10/10 perfect, flawless, I will never read a more perfect book

Jeez- that good!? OK then, it's next on the list.

Netherland by Joseph O'Neill was also brilliant at portraying foreigners life in America.
I tried describing this book to a friend, and all I ended up doing was waving my hands excitedly and saying 'it's amazing' a lot. I think I really sold her on it, though. :P

Oh, and I just got through "Pride and Prejudice". I'd give it a 6/10--if I were more interested in the English class system of the 1800s, I'd probably like it more, but as it was, I was kind of meh about it. I mean, it seemed like a really good examination of class, and it was surprisingly not full of racism (I always expect loads of racism from olde thyme books), but it just wasn't my cup of tea.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on January 23, 2015, 10:29:49 AM
I tried describing this book to a friend, and all I ended up doing was waving my hands excitedly and saying 'it's amazing' a lot. I think I really sold her on it, though. :P

Shouldn't have mentioned the hand waving thing.  I now picture you as an Archer character.


(http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_md3nrgoETF1rzqj3uo1_1280.jpg)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on January 23, 2015, 02:01:16 PM
Stalingrad: the battle that shattered Hitler's dream of world domination 4/10

It's a little less than ok. The author cites numbers but doesn't try to contextualize the horror of the war. If you want a dry re-counting of orders, numbers and dates, this book is great. I was hoping for some first hand accounts, some attempt to identify as either a German or a Russian-- at the very least, a look into the insanity of an all out total war.

If this post isn't colored by exposure to Dan Carlin, you need to look up his podcast.

It is. Listening to his Armageddon recounting of WWI. I don't know if he's specifically covered the eastern front in WWII yet-- if he has I would love it hear it. One of my favourite books of all time is, All Quiet on the Western Front, which i read in highschool and have re-read a few times since. I feel like the horror of what these men endured as been largely forgotten. I can't imagine, I mean my mind breaks, when I think about WWI conditions, or even the small handful of stories my grandfather told about WWII.

It's in the "need to pay for" stacks now, but Ghosts of the Ostfront (http://www.dancarlin.com/product/hardcore-history-ghosts-of-the-ostfront-series/) is specifically about the battle of Stalingrad, and I personally think it's Carlin's best work. (and I love everything I've heard from him)

I'm also listening to Blueprint for Armageddon.... fantastic stuff. There's a thread about DC'S HH in the podcasts section if you wanna talk more about it!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on January 23, 2015, 10:36:35 PM
Stalingrad: the battle that shattered Hitler's dream of world domination 4/10

It's a little less than ok. The author cites numbers but doesn't try to contextualize the horror of the war. If you want a dry re-counting of orders, numbers and dates, this book is great. I was hoping for some first hand accounts, some attempt to identify as either a German or a Russian-- at the very least, a look into the insanity of an all out total war.

If this post isn't colored by exposure to Dan Carlin, you need to look up his podcast.

It is. Listening to his Armageddon recounting of WWI. I don't know if he's specifically covered the eastern front in WWII yet-- if he has I would love it hear it. One of my favourite books of all time is, All Quiet on the Western Front, which i read in highschool and have re-read a few times since. I feel like the horror of what these men endured as been largely forgotten. I can't imagine, I mean my mind breaks, when I think about WWI conditions, or even the small handful of stories my grandfather told about WWII.

It's in the "need to pay for" stacks now, but Ghosts of the Ostfront (http://www.dancarlin.com/product/hardcore-history-ghosts-of-the-ostfront-series/) is specifically about the battle of Stalingrad, and I personally think it's Carlin's best work. (and I love everything I've heard from him)

I'm also listening to Blueprint for Armageddon.... fantastic stuff. There's a thread about DC'S HH in the podcasts section if you wanna talk more about it!

Thanks, I think I will!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on January 23, 2015, 11:08:24 PM
Just bought the Ostfront series and the Punic Wars. Even thinking of donating monthly.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: arthwollipot on January 26, 2015, 08:50:56 PM
I just finished reading two trilogies by Paul S. Kemp - the Erevis Cale Trilogy (Twilight Falling, Dawn of Night, Midnight's Mask) and the Twilight War Trilogy (Shadowbred, Shadowstorm, Shadowrealm).

The Forgotten Realms novels (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Forgotten_Realms_novels), if they weren't in such a niche genre (that of Dungeons and Dragons tie-in/merchandise), would be an incredible literary achievement. There are literally hundreds of books and short stories, from dozens of authors, all set in a single self-consistent setting with an evolving and sometimes world-changing history.

This particular series was incredible. Given, of course, that you're reading novels about a roleplaying game. It was dark, suspenseful, had great characters, a well-thought out plot and intricately described action scenes. They were thoroughly enjoyable, in an escapist sense.

I've just started on the Abolethic Soveriegnty trilogy by Bruce R. Cordell, and once I've finished them I'm moving on to the Year of Rogue Dragons by Richard Lee Byers. And when I've finished that there's still many many more books to be going on with.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on January 26, 2015, 09:27:23 PM
Johannes Cabal the Necromancer (http://www.amazon.com/Johannes-Cabal-Necromancer-Jonathan-Howard/dp/0767930762) by Jonathan L. Howard

10/10

I love good wordsmithing and Howard does not disappoint. Great read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on January 26, 2015, 11:11:09 PM
Did Jesus Exist, Bart Erhman 7/10

Seems most of Erhman's arguments fall into the appeal to authority. Very little in way of substantive argument in regard to the historicity of Jesus. In the end he most certainly proves the Jesus of the Bible didn't exist, and after all, if that Jesus didn't exist then Jesus didn't exist. I could very well prove someone named Peter lived in London but it doesn't mean there is a Peter Pan.

Seemed an obvious conclusion and Erhman's dislike of Academics who don't believe in a historical Jesus seems, elitist?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on January 26, 2015, 11:13:02 PM
David, Ray Robertson 9/10

Good read. Covers a period of history lacking, especially from the Canadian view point of race relations and slavery of Blacks in North America. Very much liked it. Expect bigger and better things from the author.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on January 26, 2015, 11:14:39 PM
Books of Negros, Lawerence Hill 10/10

Must read. Parts of it really drove home the inhumanity of slavery in a visceral sense. Felt very claustrophobic at points. I highly recommend it to everyone. Should be required in schools.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on January 26, 2015, 11:17:31 PM
The Coldest War, Ian Tregillis 8/10

Picked it up in a bargain bin and thoroughly enjoyed the read. The setting is an alternate version of WWII where the allies use Warlocks and the Axis experiment with using willpower to create magical effects. The use of Warlocks invokes Conventry. The action is good, the concepts fleshed out, and the characters compelling. Ended up being the 2nd book in a trilogy and now I am hunting down the 1st and 3rd in the series.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: arthwollipot on January 26, 2015, 11:17:54 PM
Wow, you read books really fast!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on January 26, 2015, 11:19:10 PM
Wow, you read books really fast!

comes and goes. when I am depressed I can't read. when I feel ok I usually have 1 or 2 in the bathroom and a few livingroom books plus whatever is on my phone. Also adding stuff I read in 2014 in general.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on January 26, 2015, 11:22:58 PM
Last update for today:

Unfamiliar Fishes, Sarah Vowell 9/10

First time with Powell. I keep meaning to grab her books after her appearances on the daily show and colbert but never got around to doing in for some time. I happened to this book in a bargain bin* and felt like I won the lottery.

I have no interest, at all in the history of Hawaii, but her narrative style and retelling of how America stole hawaii was interesting and I felt like she pulled me into the story while on vacation. Now I kind of look forward to seeing hawaii for the historical sites and fully appreciate hawaii in an entirely new way.

Very much interested in reading her other historical works.

*I do most of my book shoping in the bargain bins at Chapters. I find if I buy books from authors I know I am incapable of finding new authors, or even subjects I like because I am ignorant of what those might be. Some of my most prized  reads cam this say, especially the book: Why manners matter and Susan Pinkers, The Sexual Paradox


Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: arthwollipot on January 26, 2015, 11:28:41 PM
Wow, you read books really fast!

comes and goes. when I am depressed I can't read. when I feel ok I usually have 1 or 2 in the bathroom and a few livingroom books plus whatever is on my phone. Also adding stuff I read in 2014 in general.

The joke was that the thread is titled "Rate the last book you just read", which implied that you read each of those books in the few seconds between posts.

Yeah, I'm a funny guy. :D
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on January 26, 2015, 11:29:29 PM
Ok, I lied.

I am the new black, Tracy Morgan: 4/10

He's a comedian and not a writer, I tried to give him some slack, but the writing sucks. The stories suck. I didn't feel like I learned anything new about Morgan, or that he opened up in any meaningful way. I do appreciate his respect and recognition of Tina Fey, however, and I will miss his comedy should he never perform again.

I just thought he would or could have given more insight to the pain and what not that drove him into comedy, or something. I felt the last 2/3s were hard to get through-- but I am stubborn.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on January 26, 2015, 11:31:29 PM
Wow, you read books really fast!

comes and goes. when I am depressed I can't read. when I feel ok I usually have 1 or 2 in the bathroom and a few livingroom books plus whatever is on my phone. Also adding stuff I read in 2014 in general.

The joke was that the thread is titled "Rate the last book you just read", which implied that you read each of those books in the few seconds between posts.

Yeah, I'm a funny guy. :D

I got it =P But I do actually read in batches. I usually finish at least 2 books at a time and have done 6 at other times. But I go long stretches where I can't even comprehend the words on the page. It's like i've had a stroke, they mean nothing. I re-read the same words over and over and give up.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on January 27, 2015, 01:23:30 AM
Did Jesus Exist, Bart Erhman 7/10

In the end he most certainly proves the Jesus of the Bible didn't exist, and after all, if that Jesus didn't exist then Jesus didn't exist.

I have not read the book but from what I recall in interviews and book reviews, Ehrmen is definitely in the "yes" camp.  The way you wrote this makes it sound like the exact opposite.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 27, 2015, 01:50:19 AM
Johannes Cabal the Necromancer (http://www.amazon.com/Johannes-Cabal-Necromancer-Jonathan-Howard/dp/0767930762) by Jonathan L. Howard

10/10

I love good wordsmithing and Howard does not disappoint. Great read.
This series is amazeballs. It does not disappoint.

I just finished "Sex at Dawn" 2/10 would not recommend. It's infuriatingly naturalistic fallacy throughout, on top of being other things that just annoy the hell out of me. It seems ultimately focused on "sex-as-reproduction", even though I don't think the authors would claim that; however, all of the science they cite to support their argument is essentially about reproduction--how heterosexual men and women go about their business. I grant the paucity of research into non-heterosexual sexual acts, but jesus fucking christ don't just repackage the same crap as "groundbreaking". They also cite research that I've actually gone into on this forum I think, but I forget exactly what I ranted about at the time. It's the research about physical response to visual sexual stimuli, and I have so many fucking problems with the interpretations that have come out about that research I should write my own damn book. Except I think books require less swearing. Boo.

It gets two points because at least the writing was cheeky, and it does try to challenge the idea that monogamy is a "natural" state of humanity. It unfortunately does this by trying to assert that male-centric polyamory (OMFG I COULD WRITE PAGES ABOUT HOW MALE-CENTRIC THIS BOOK IS) is the better alternative. Like, no. Just no.

tl;dr I thought it was a steaming pile of crap and I haven't gotten this angry at a book in ages.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: moj on January 27, 2015, 08:47:17 AM
Influx  Daniel Suarez  7 out 10

Not as good as Damon on Freedom, but still a fun read. Set in the near future a secret group in government has been hiding advanced tech for years.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on January 27, 2015, 09:16:27 AM
Johannes Cabal the Necromancer (http://www.amazon.com/Johannes-Cabal-Necromancer-Jonathan-Howard/dp/0767930762) by Jonathan L. Howard

10/10

I love good wordsmithing and Howard does not disappoint. Great read.
This series is amazeballs. It does not disappoint.


Just started the second one....I'm going to love these books.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on January 27, 2015, 11:03:09 AM
Just finished The Abyss Beyond Dreams, something-th Commonwealth book by Peter F Hamilton.  9/10 it's a favourite.

It is NOT a jumping on point, you really need to start at the beginning back in the Starflyer Wars, and then the Void, and then you've earned your way here.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on January 27, 2015, 02:41:21 PM
I'm currently reading "Killing Floor" by Lee Childs, the first book in the Jack Reacher series. One often expects an author's first work to be a bit uneven but this thing is just plain glorious, especially if you read the introduction along with it.

- Dude said he wanted to create an "old fashioned hero" without any of those, you know, weakness things that make modern characters so whiny and stuff. He's just, like, better than everybody else. Sometimes I feel like these are the best kinds of books because the characters still get flaws just by the normal machinations of the plot and so on, and an awful lot of the time you gain great insight into what the author considers to be a flaw and what to be some kind of inverse advantage. For example, this guy so far seems to have absolutely no ear for social cues. It's all written from his perspective so you don't necessarily see all the people getting mad when he's all abrupt and dumb with them, but that's still there.

- The book was clearly written from the perspective of a British dude who has spent like 3 days in New York City with his wife this one time. The book starts out (and I assume is based in) a small town outside of Atlanta, which, you may remember, is known as Hotlanta because of its cool, Seattle-esque climate (just kidding, it's known as that because it's hot as balls). There is a scene where he steps outside and remarks how refreshing it is that the sun has just come out after a big rain. If you have ever actually been in Georgia during the summer, you will know that this is basically the opposite of a refreshing experience. The air is so thick you can practically swim through it, any movement whatsoever causes you to sweat (or, at least, for pools of water-like substance to form about your body - it could just be the air wringing itself out on you, who knows), and the rain never even really does all that great of a job of stopping the heat, especially if there's a sunbreak (which is what happens in the book). So I'm left thinking that Reacher is either a severe masochist or has no idea what the word "refreshing" actually means. I really, really hope that Childs keeps with this and later speaks of the refreshing feeling of having a ballpeen hammer slammed against one's temple, but I will guess that I will be disappointed in that regard.

- There are several scenes already where I just wish Childs had, instead of deciding where a scene ought to head and then writing it with the specific notion of getting to that end (by the way, he also said he disliked the "lose-lose-lose-win" method of serial storytelling that is rather popular and wanted instead to use something like "win-win-win-win", which I guess makes for badassery but also generally makes for one boring fucking story. "Oh look! Some other dude just tried to fight Leonardo! Nope. He got his ass kicked too. We win again! Hooray!"), he would have the characters in the story seriously stop and react to some of the bullshit he has the Reacher character say.

For instance, there is a scene where Reacher, who was picked up without any identification on his person of any kind, is hauled in for questioning about a local murder. The detective on duty (actually, I think he was the "head of the homicide department", which is kind of hilarious for a town of maybe 20,000 people at the absolute most to have) asks him what he used to do for a living and after being short, he finally answers "homicide detective for the Army". This turns out to be the truth, but still... if I'm a small town southern 'detective' (we'll pretend this is a thing in this area and they don't just have a sheriff and a couple deputies handling crime in this place), there is no f'ing way I am taking that at face value. I'd even go so far as to say that I'd probably think the guy is trying to make fun of me. Time for some "enhanced interrogations", tough guy... but no, they let him off the hook rather easily from that because reasons.

Anyway, it's not "good", but it is "very bad" and that can sometimes be sustainably entertaining for a book or two (and he does write in concise, coherent sentences so at least you can follow the action), so I'm definitely staying with this.
Finished the first book last week and it's probably the cold/flu speaking but I'm going to give it about a 6/10. There's still one more big whopper left that I didn't mention above...

(click to show/hide)

Still, it's turn-your-brain-off fun, and never got *quite* stupid enough to put down. Maybe that'll change after a couple books in the series (I remember being slightly on the fence regarding Jim Butcher's magician in Chicago series too before being all guhhhhhhhh no) but hey, so far it's "cool", and by "cool" I mean "the book version of "Taken".
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on January 27, 2015, 11:11:26 PM
Did Jesus Exist, Bart Erhman 7/10

In the end he most certainly proves the Jesus of the Bible didn't exist, and after all, if that Jesus didn't exist then Jesus didn't exist.

I have not read the book but from what I recall in interviews and book reviews, Ehrmen is definitely in the "yes" camp.  The way you wrote this makes it sound like the exact opposite.

That was my point. Erhman spends an entire book proving a historical jesus existed, but that jesus, even if I granted the conclusion of his argument, is in no way THE Jesus described in the bible. So what's the point? A man named Jesus existed. There were several men named Jesus who were preachers then and since. Not one is god, resurrected or performed miracles. It is literally the same thing a proving someone named Peter existed in London.

It's a meaningless argument. One he loses. Price doesn't believe Jesus existed, precisely because the Jesus detailed in the bible cannot have existed and whatever kernel of historicity that was there is shrouded in lies and embellishments. The essence of Jesus is lost when you strip all that way. What you're left with doesn't matter.

In the end Erhman is trying to justify spending his life on a pursuit that is ultimately empty and about as relevent (less so if you ask me) than studying the lore of a single Marvel or DC character. It doesn't matter how nuanced your position is on the comics, if you believe there are no continuity errors, or that the story matters more than continuity, or in a mutiverse-- they are comics. It also doesn't matter if there is someone named Clark Kent... certainly no one with that name is an alien from Kryton, or has superman's powers.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on January 28, 2015, 10:20:26 AM
Couple of hours in to Ancillary Justice.  It's fascinating and entertaining and I love it so much already.  The perfect accompaniment to shopping for a belt last night (at Target, the chain that is going out of business in my country and was already out of belts so I had to go down to the Hudson's Bay Company est. 1670 which had plenty of overpriced belts).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: OhMyGecko on January 28, 2015, 10:28:11 AM
These days i read mostly 'classics'.

The last book i read was The Wasp factory by Ian Banks. I had looked for this book for years and found it. I had hoped it wasn't over-hyped and it certainly wasn't.
I give it an ergh/10.
It usually takes a great deal for me to put a book down because it becomes difficult to read. I often put it down for about 15 seconds before picking it back up. I needed breathing room between paragraphs simply because of his very colourful and impacting descriptions.

I was never bored but often horrified, disgusted and really curious. He builds a story with an ominous and impending tragedy but concurrently filling you with dread and despair.

If you, like me, read with a masochistic joy, then this book is great. It's quite old but I find that books age very well. I thought of taking a break from Banks' books so i'm now reading The Shining. Keep the despair rolling.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Tatyana on January 28, 2015, 05:28:00 PM
These days i read mostly 'classics'.

The last book i read was The Wasp factory by Ian Banks. I had looked for this book for years and found it. I had hoped it wasn't over-hyped and it certainly wasn't.
I give it an ergh/10.
It usually takes a great deal for me to put a book down because it becomes difficult to read. I often put it down for about 15 seconds before picking it back up. I needed breathing room between paragraphs simply because of his very colourful and impacting descriptions.

I was never bored but often horrified, disgusted and really curious. He builds a story with an ominous and impending tragedy but concurrently filling you with dread and despair.

If you, like me, read with a masochistic joy, then this book is great. It's quite old but I find that books age very well. I thought of taking a break from Banks' books so i'm now reading The Shining. Keep the despair rolling.

I love, love, love Iain Banks but I really understand what you are saying, I get so sucked into his worlds and end up with a visceral reaction to a sentence or phrase.

It goes from completely charmed to gut punched. I am almost finished with The Culture Series, and I have slowed down because I am so sad it is almost over and because I know it will be an emotional roller coaster.

I have finally just finished 'War of Honor' by David Weber. I started it almost a year to the day, and there are a few audio chapters I listened to 12 times over in the year.

I love the Honor Harrington series, but this one didn't grab me as much as the others.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: goodthink on January 28, 2015, 10:01:51 PM
These days i read mostly 'classics'.

The last book i read was The Wasp factory by Ian Banks. I had looked for this book for years and found it. I had hoped it wasn't over-hyped and it certainly wasn't.
I give it an ergh/10.
It usually takes a great deal for me to put a book down because it becomes difficult to read. I often put it down for about 15 seconds before picking it back up. I needed breathing room between paragraphs simply because of his very colourful and impacting descriptions.

I was never bored but often horrified, disgusted and really curious. He builds a story with an ominous and impending tragedy but concurrently filling you with dread and despair.

If you, like me, read with a masochistic joy, then this book is great. It's quite old but I find that books age very well. I thought of taking a break from Banks' books so i'm now reading The Shining. Keep the despair rolling.

I love, love, love Iain Banks but I really understand what you are saying, I get so sucked into his worlds and end up with a visceral reaction to a sentence or phrase.

It goes from completely charmed to gut punched. I am almost finished with The Culture Series, and I have slowed down because I am so sad it is almost over and because I know it will be an emotional roller coaster.

I have finally just finished 'War of Honor' by David Weber. I started it almost a year to the day, and there are a few audio chapters I listened to 12 times over in the year.

I love the Honor Harrington series, but this one didn't grab me as much as the others.

I love the Culture series. Would love to see one or more of his books picked up and turned into a tv show on a good network. So detailed and thought through.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on January 29, 2015, 10:23:21 PM
Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson - 9/10

This book had practically everything going against it for me.  The main storyline involves a lot of 17th century English history, a subject that I have always found mind-numbingly boring.  Throw in some early economics, obscure distinctions in religious sects, and detailed descriptions of naval vessels and you've got the recipe for a 900 page snore-fest.  Much to my surprise, I discovered how interesting these topics can be with just a few fictional characters thrown into the mix.  As far as I can tell, Stephenson's versions of Newton, Hooke, and Leibniz are reasonably accurate depictions, complete with their unique quirks and spiritual obsessions.  The Royal Society of London turns out to be the perfect star for the other stories to revolve around (an analogy I have to admit was a bit overused), and I got a kick out of seeing how the vagabond/natural philosopher/English royalty stories each pulled on one another.  There's a fun little physics problem in the Jack Shaftoe adventures that was pure gold.

Oh, and there's some pirates.  And lots of mishaps with genitals. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Redamare on January 30, 2015, 01:15:51 AM
Considering these marks against it, why did you read it in the first place? Just curious.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on January 30, 2015, 11:42:04 AM
Considering these marks against it, why did you read it in the first place? Just curious.

Because people here recommended it, and my previous experience with Stephenson books.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Redamare on January 30, 2015, 02:11:20 PM
I see.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on February 01, 2015, 06:49:14 PM
"Annihilation" by Jeff Vandermeer. Holy shit. 9/10. I read it over the course of two days, but I couldn't put it down. It's soooo good, and I really want to pick up the rest of the trilogy. The prose and the story just combine in really fantastic ways. I love it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Vay on February 03, 2015, 07:00:02 AM
Just finished The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars by Michael Mann: 8/10

Went into it expecting to get mad, but actually it wasn't like that (IE, just a rant on climate deniers / "Climategate").  A lot of it was also about the puzzle-solving aspect of science, and about what real scientific skepticism is.  The denial stuff was more funny than irritating, and the book made me more aware than I had been previously that, in the courts and even to an extent in the media, the deniers have been losing a lot of ground.  Got a bit preachy in the epilogue - not that I don't think that's merited, but it did go on a bit long and for that, I'd detract a bit.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51BfYlNHCGL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

Would also like to recommend the book I read before this: 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson: 8/10

I found it to be a very subdued but nevertheless interesting story about, a turning-point event for the human race that happens in that year.  Although the story is in a sense pessimistic - the tagline is, "Everything has changed, except us" - I mostly found it very encouraging.  While humanity on Earth is still wallowing in the same old collective action problems, ideology, nationalism and what-not, we have also established colonies elsewhere which have the advantage of systems thought out in advance.  The technology in Robinson's story totally captured my imagination - I particularly like the use of hollowed-out asteroids - many with different "themes" such as wetlands, tundra, orgy-parties, sensory deprivation or whatever - as transports.  The only real big detractor for me was an underwhelming resolution, so again for that, I knocked off a bit on my score.

(http://www.brianjamesfreeman.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/2312full.jpg)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on February 03, 2015, 11:23:48 AM
For some reason I'm reading the 2nd book in the Jack Reacher series. I feel like he hasn't truly hit his stride until he makes at least one major blunder about how the US government is set up. In this one, he nails it by having a national forest near the bad guy impassable because "the environmentalists made them take out the roads". Um, you know what a national forest is in this country, right, Mr. Childs? Hint: it's not a national park. We kind of need the roads there because the whole entire purpose of a national forest is to be able to harvest the lumber in it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on February 03, 2015, 01:20:08 PM
Omg! Childs gets nothing right EVER. I read an interview where he bragged about not doing research!
His military faux pas are painful.
And yet I cant stop reading every damn book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on February 04, 2015, 12:43:08 AM
The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - 8.4/10
Took me a long time to get through, mostly due to a bunch of time spent having to read crap for work. In some respects, reading the books all back to back improved the experience (since some of the stories are intimately related), and in others I think detracted (it's a LOT of material, possibly would have benefited from breaks in between books). Overall: hilarious, and extremely fun.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - 9/10
Lucky me, I'd never read it before. Everything about it was fun for me. In a running theme of the books, the ending didn't totally satisfy me (though the explanation with the mice was great), but in this case I at least had the next book to look forward to.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - 7/10
My least favorite of the bunch. Too many goofy names? Still fun, and contains some really neat imagery and ideas that made me feel like a kid--sometimes having to pause reading to daydream a bit.

Life, the Universe, and Everything - 10/10
My favorite of the bunch, best start-to-finish story from the trilogy*. I LOVED the idea of the Krikkit people, the war, and the eventual explanation. Maybe the funniest of the books, too.

So Long and Thanks For All the Fish - 8/10
I liked the Fenny plotline, the dolphins story, and the conclusion with Marvin, but it didn't resonate with me as much. Here's where I wonder if I would have enjoyed this book more had I taken a break after the previous.

Mostly Harmless - 8/10
Left me wanting more... the deal with The Guide v.2 unraveled so fast. Ford Prefect's adventure was awesome, but Arthur's experience on the boring planet was... well, boring (and felt too long). I still don't know what to make of the ending; I guess that's the point?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on February 04, 2015, 11:04:46 AM
Johannes Cabal the Detective (Johannes Cabal Novels Book 2)  (http://www.amazon.com/Johannes-Cabal-Detective-ebook/dp/B0036S4ASQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423065740&sr=8-1&keywords=cabal+detective) by Jonathan L. Howard

10/10 These friggin books are fantastic. Maybe it just appeals to me, but you will never meet the definition of "antihero" until you meet Johannes Cabal. I love this character.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on February 05, 2015, 12:38:25 PM
Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson - 9/10


Oh how I hated this book. Plodding,ponderous,pedantic.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on February 06, 2015, 02:44:31 AM
Naomi Klein "This Changes Everything".  10/10 for the concept, but 7/10 for the book.  Should have been shorter.  It is extremely well researched and documented, and of course it is the most pressing problem of our times.  I heard her on a couple of interviews on the radio and that interested me in her book. 

There was a lot of new political and activist information that was new to me. 

I am even more convinced that humans are fucked as a viable species.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Grimner on February 07, 2015, 06:51:50 PM
Just went through a couple of books by John Ringo. It is not high literature. I picture him churning out a book in a week with cursory proof-reading and less checking for consistency. The characters come to life more by accident than any planning (they have a tendency to rant in the most boring way about politics), and where some nasty writers kill good characters, Mr. Ringo seems happy to forget all about them.

Still, action scenes are good to excellent. This comes out in the Black Tide Rising series where the zombie apocalypse is on. Good read for gore on the high seas. Tip of the day: if there is a zombie outbreak (he manages to make this breed sound plausible), do not get caught on a cruise ship.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on February 07, 2015, 07:55:16 PM
I'm nearing the end of the third Jack Reacher book, and while I'm sure there are some absolute howlers about the way the US military is set up in this, I do have to give some credit where credit is due...

- The books are, to be honest, real page-turners. I only occasionally find myself noticing Lee Childs' writing style (it tends to be choppier, with more short sentences than average) and as such it's very easy to get into the plot. He does use a lot of hoary tropes to get the reader hooked, but many of those tropes are hoary because they work.

- In the last two books he's touched on a couple of 1990s era conspiracy theories and come out on the right side of them. The second book concerned the militia movement and their thoughts on the New World Order and all that. There's a neat part in the midst of that where Reacher is like "you're supposing that a government which can't keep an affair quiet is capable of a massive conspiracy that nobody has ever actually heard of?". This book concerns Vietnam MIAs (if you'll recall there was a big thing back then about how a bunch of the 2200 men listed as missing in action in that conflict were still being held in Viet Cong prisons, a notion which was considered bunk then and has been pretty well proven out now).

- He's managed to toss in a couple of plot twists that even my mystery-acquainted brain failed to detect. For example, in the second book...

(click to show/hide)

And now in the third book...

(click to show/hide)

So yeah, unlike my 2013 foray into the wizard detective in Chicago books by Jim Butcher, I have to say that these do have some value to them. I mean, I'm not saying this is Faulkner or anything but for mindless action/thrillers they ain't bad (I mean, other than Childs' aforementioned aversion to research, which even then is so bad it's hilarious).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on February 08, 2015, 12:10:50 AM
Childs is like a good short order chef I find. You can set your watch by his releases and you know its not great quality but you know exactly what you are getting.

Just finished Quarry by Max Allan Collins- 9.5/10
This is the first Quarry novel (not counting the later prequel) the whole thing is perfectly crafted amd easy to read noir from start to finish.
Every page has something worth putting on the cover as a quote. The story is not complex or long but the writing style really sucks you in.
If you dont like noir it wont change your mind, if you do then its a must read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: superdave on February 17, 2015, 08:58:27 PM
I am about 1/3 of the way through 1Q84.
The writing style seems to have lost a lot through translation, and there seems to be way more information about the breasts of every female character than the narrative needs, but the story is gripping and the characters are interesting.  I will post a more detailed review when I am done.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Ambious on February 18, 2015, 06:20:08 AM
Intro to Linear Algebra - ⃗v∈V / Q
It was alright, I just found the plot to be a bit... well....
never mind not worth it
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on February 18, 2015, 04:03:38 PM
Derivative!

BOOM, NAILED IT!!!!!!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on February 18, 2015, 04:08:21 PM
I loved linear algebra so much.  The intro course we got to take in engineering school almost tempted me away from engineering into math.  And then the bits and pieces we got to use later on in more advanced courses made it look more and more appealing...
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on February 19, 2015, 04:39:33 PM
Couple of hours in to Ancillary Justice.  It's fascinating and entertaining and I love it so much already.  The perfect accompaniment to shopping for a belt last night (at Target, the chain that is going out of business in my country and was already out of belts so I had to go down to the Hudson's Bay Company est. 1670 which had plenty of overpriced belts).

Had a bit of an Audible hiatus, but back in to Ancillary Justice.  Still really enjoying it.  Dipping slightly into SF fandom, WOW some (terrible) people are outraged about the acclaim this book has received.  Unbelievable! (Or, rather, sadly too believable. Sigh.)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on February 21, 2015, 12:46:44 AM
Couple of hours in to Ancillary Justice.  It's fascinating and entertaining and I love it so much already.  The perfect accompaniment to shopping for a belt last night (at Target, the chain that is going out of business in my country and was already out of belts so I had to go down to the Hudson's Bay Company est. 1670 which had plenty of overpriced belts).

Had a bit of an Audible hiatus, but back in to Ancillary Justice.  Still really enjoying it.  Dipping slightly into SF fandom, WOW some (terrible) people are outraged about the acclaim this book has received.  Unbelievable! (Or, rather, sadly too believable. Sigh.)
Ugh, why am I not at all surprised. -_-
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on February 21, 2015, 10:25:58 AM
Naomi Klein "This Changes Everything".  10/10 for the concept, but 7/10 for the book.  Should have been shorter.  It is extremely well researched and documented, and of course it is the most pressing problem of our times.  I heard her on a couple of interviews on the radio and that interested me in her book. 

There was a lot of new political and activist information that was new to me. 

I am even more convinced that humans are fucked as a viable species.

I'll be reading this. I love Naiomi Klein. She has made a big impact on me - esp through 'Shock Doctrine'. I trust her.
Having said that...another book that really made an impact on me was 'The Spirit Level' about the effects of inequality in society. But it has now been ripped apart for cherry picking data, and manipulating the way the statistics in the book were reached.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Redamare on February 21, 2015, 11:15:32 AM
Couple of hours in to Ancillary Justice.  It's fascinating and entertaining and I love it so much already.  The perfect accompaniment to shopping for a belt last night (at Target, the chain that is going out of business in my country and was already out of belts so I had to go down to the Hudson's Bay Company est. 1670 which had plenty of overpriced belts).

Had a bit of an Audible hiatus, but back in to Ancillary Justice.  Still really enjoying it.  Dipping slightly into SF fandom, WOW some (terrible) people are outraged about the acclaim this book has received.  Unbelievable! (Or, rather, sadly too believable. Sigh.)
Ugh, why am I not at all surprised. -_-
I was trying to figure out the controversy here, but I can't find it anywhere. It's an excellent series; not sure what there is for people to complain about. I know the Hugo itself is controversial, because it's the most well-known SF award but winning it is basically a popularity contest. Found lots of blogs bitching about that, and a couple of them mention the Ancillary series in passing, but I could only find praise for the work itself.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on February 21, 2015, 12:16:57 PM
Naomi Klein "This Changes Everything".  10/10 for the concept, but 7/10 for the book.  Should have been shorter.  It is extremely well researched and documented, and of course it is the most pressing problem of our times.  I heard her on a couple of interviews on the radio and that interested me in her book. 

There was a lot of new political and activist information that was new to me. 

I am even more convinced that humans are fucked as a viable species.

I'll be reading this. I love Naiomi Klein. She has made a big impact on me - esp through 'Shock Doctrine'. I trust her.
Having said that...another book that really made an impact on me was 'The Spirit Level' about the effects of inequality in society. But it has now been ripped apart for cherry picking data, and manipulating the way the statistics in the book were reached.

Have you read her "No Logo"?  I was thinking of that next.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on February 21, 2015, 12:35:31 PM
Naomi Klein "This Changes Everything".  10/10 for the concept, but 7/10 for the book.  Should have been shorter.  It is extremely well researched and documented, and of course it is the most pressing problem of our times.  I heard her on a couple of interviews on the radio and that interested me in her book. 

There was a lot of new political and activist information that was new to me. 

I am even more convinced that humans are fucked as a viable species.

I'll be reading this. I love Naiomi Klein. She has made a big impact on me - esp through 'Shock Doctrine'. I trust her.
Having said that...another book that really made an impact on me was 'The Spirit Level' about the effects of inequality in society. But it has now been ripped apart for cherry picking data, and manipulating the way the statistics in the book were reached.

Have you read her "No Logo"?  I was thinking of that next.

Its great. well worth a read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on February 21, 2015, 12:49:20 PM
Naomi Klein "This Changes Everything".  10/10 for the concept, but 7/10 for the book.  Should have been shorter.  It is extremely well researched and documented, and of course it is the most pressing problem of our times.  I heard her on a couple of interviews on the radio and that interested me in her book. 

There was a lot of new political and activist information that was new to me. 

I am even more convinced that humans are fucked as a viable species.

I'll be reading this. I love Naiomi Klein. She has made a big impact on me - esp through 'Shock Doctrine'. I trust her.
Having said that...another book that really made an impact on me was 'The Spirit Level' about the effects of inequality in society. But it has now been ripped apart for cherry picking data, and manipulating the way the statistics in the book were reached.

Have you read her "No Logo"?  I was thinking of that next.

Its great. well worth a read.

Ta.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Grimner on March 02, 2015, 02:28:17 PM
Undeniable by Bill Nye - 9/10

Comprehensive, yet very accessible book on evolution and its consequences.  Well written and nice, short chapters. Loses a point for being aimed at creationists, but probably offending (they are easily spooked), that audience in the first chapter. For everyone else with none to little understanding of evolution, great read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on March 04, 2015, 01:37:38 PM
About 1/3 into the actual paper book The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.  Very enjoyable so far.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: SkepticalEsquire on March 04, 2015, 02:18:19 PM
No God But God by Reza Aslan

Was a well written basic history of Islam and a good primer on the current divisions in Islam.  A little bit of an apologetic and a few times I felt like Aslan came close to the "scotsman"  fallacy in it when addressing violence within Islam, but otherwise I think its worth the read, especially with respect to recent developments.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on March 05, 2015, 04:59:09 AM
The Berlin Fraternity (http://www.amazon.com/Berlin-Fraternity-Brian-Downes-ebook/dp/B00KNCV9UA/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8) by Brian Downes.

9/10

I'm going to go ahead and state upfront that I know Brian. I was going to read this book objectively with the intent of ripping it to shreds if it was bad. The story got its hooks in me immediately, which is one of my metrics for a good read. The lead character challenges you to like him, but succeeds even though he's a Nazi SS officer. The best part though is that the lead guy is a vampire hunter in the old-timey sense in that he isn't glamoured by them, and he's willing to sacrifice his other loyalties to destroy them. Complicated, well-researched historically, and filled with action, but still a blood-and-guts vampire story at its heart.

Really liked it, had to eat my pride and tell Brian it was good (He can be a little arrogant, and I was hoping to have more critiques of his work). He's kind of a history buff, so the detail of the German military from WWI to WWII was intricate.

Highly recommend
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Desert Fox on March 06, 2015, 12:02:10 PM
Undeniable by Bill Nye - 9/10

Comprehensive, yet very accessible book on evolution and its consequences.  Well written and nice, short chapters. Loses a point for being aimed at creationists, but probably offending (they are easily spooked), that audience in the first chapter. For everyone else with none to little understanding of evolution, great read.

Just finished listening to it on CD in the car. I don't know if I would have given it a 9/10. I thought it was good but I am not sure that it will do what it seeks to do.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on March 10, 2015, 05:38:02 PM
Red Rising - Pierce Brown 9/10

Surprised this hasn't been mentioned on the forum before (at least according to a search of what survived the last downage). This is a pretty incredible sci-fi/fantasy story. The first in a trilogy (the third installment set to be released next January). I don't want to give much away, because the world unfolds in a very satisfying way, but it's reminiscent of books like Ender's Game, Harry Potter, The Name of The Wind, or Hunger Games in that it is the story of a young adult who discovers something brand new about the universe by going through a type of schooling. It's definitely not a young adult novel, though, as it is quite graphically violent and dark.I would also say it is closer to fantasy than sci-fi ultimately, but in the case of this book you can't have one without mentioning the other.

I highly recommend it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Desert Fox on March 11, 2015, 09:40:44 PM
There are a lot of issues with Hunger Games that just did not make sense to me. . . . .
To try to put it in simple terms, with the tech level of the Capitol in Hunger Games, they really don't seem to have needed the other cities and the districts cost far more than they ever gave. My thoughts are much more complex than this but trying to simplify. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on March 11, 2015, 10:03:52 PM
There are a lot of issues with Hunger Games that just did not make sense to me. . . . .
To try to put it in simple terms, with the tech level of the Capitol in Hunger Games, they really don't seem to have needed the other cities and the districts cost far more than they ever gave. My thoughts are much more complex than this but trying to simplify.

I'm sorry.. I didn't mean to indicate that I felt The Hunger Games were well conceived. They had fun elements, but I hated how poorly thought out the world in which it takes place is. None of the concept of the districts really makes sense if you stop to think about it. There was never a satisfying explanation for how the world came to be. This isn't true of Red Rising.

Really the only thing this has in common with The Hunger Games (and the reason it was mentioned in my review) is that there is an element of a young adult competing, and a schooling element. It is MUCH MUCH better written and conceived. Also it isn't a book for kids (hunger games is very vanilla compared to Red Rising).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Desert Fox on March 11, 2015, 11:27:25 PM
How long a read is it? My city library has the book (although all checked)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on March 12, 2015, 07:21:29 AM
Not sure how to answer that.. It's 400 pages. Sort of slow start, couple big reveals and then it's really hard to put down. I told my brother about it last Friday and he's finished the first two books already.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: superdave on March 12, 2015, 07:53:13 AM
1Q84
6/10
There's a good story and strong characters, but its weighed down by a ton of over written passages, weird sex things, and useless repetition.  The story follows two separate narratives that slowly converge (and I mean slowly).  This works fine for a while as the stories build their own arcs and characters, but once they start to converge, it gets very annoying because of the extreme use of dramatic irony. 

At it's heart it is a romance about two characters destined to be together, but the moment that ties them together is very forced and unrealistic. 

I don't even want to get into the weird sex stuff but its boring at its best and gross at its worst.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on March 12, 2015, 11:24:46 AM
I think the sex stuff was the worst and at the least the ickiest part of the book for me. I otherwise enjoyed it (and thought that it was not *quite* a star-crossed lover story but more of a "two people wreck the system and wind up together" story), but damn that stuff very nearly took me out of it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on March 12, 2015, 09:20:55 PM
Finished this last week, but seems appropriate to share today.

Eric, by Terry Pratchett. 7/10 on my Pratchett scale, 9/10 compared to everything else out there.

Not my favorite of Pratchett's, but a very fun take on the Faust story. Godspeed, Terry. I'm happy to share that I had finished this book while at a bar, at which my friend works as a bartender. She's somewhat of a bibliophile, but never read Pratchett. After she asked what I was reading, I told her I had just finished and showed her a random page; she refused to give it back, telling me I could have it back when she was done. She was a bit emotional today about having just discovered him.

I've also got to publicly thank Belgarath, who introduced me to Terry Pratchett... I haven't looked back.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: superdave on March 15, 2015, 04:15:33 PM
Another thing about 1Q84.

I felt like the only reason the book was set in 1984 was because the existence of the internet and cell phones would have rendered this story over in like 10 pages.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: OhMyGecko on March 16, 2015, 04:49:37 AM

These days i read mostly 'classics'.

The last book i read was The Wasp factory by Ian Banks. I had looked for this book for years and found it. I had hoped it wasn't over-hyped and it certainly wasn't.
I give it an ergh/10.
It usually takes a great deal for me to put a book down because it becomes difficult to read. I often put it down for about 15 seconds before picking it back up. I needed breathing room between paragraphs simply because of his very colourful and impacting descriptions.

I was never bored but often horrified, disgusted and really curious. He builds a story with an ominous and impending tragedy but concurrently filling you with dread and despair.

If you, like me, read with a masochistic joy, then this book is great. It's quite old but I find that books age very well. I thought of taking a break from Banks' books so i'm now reading The Shining. Keep the despair rolling.

I love, love, love Iain Banks but I really understand what you are saying, I get so sucked into his worlds and end up with a visceral reaction to a sentence or phrase.

It goes from completely charmed to gut punched. I am almost finished with The Culture Series, and I have slowed down because I am so sad it is almost over and because I know it will be an emotional roller coaster.

I have finally just finished 'War of Honor' by David Weber. I started it almost a year to the day, and there are a few audio chapters I listened to 12 times over in the year.

I love the Honor Harrington series, but this one didn't grab me as much as the others.

I just looked up a list of his culture novels. I hoped he had written more. I'm nearly done!
I started with Surface Detail after a conversation about consciousness with my dad, he recommended it to me.

Have you read any of his non-sci-fi books? I have only read Stonemouth and The Wasp Factory but it's really a different type of horror and awe. Apparently, by what he said, much of the stories are based on exaggerations of either his or others' experiences.

David Weber? On the looking for list now.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on March 16, 2015, 10:16:38 PM
The Alchemy of Air   by Thomas Hager - 8/10

If anyone is not aware of the Haber-Bosch process, they should really learn what it is.  It's kind of a big deal.  Like, responsible for feeding billions of people, while also indirectly killing millions kind of a big deal.

This book was an overview of the birth of modern fertilizers, largely developed by Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch in WWI era Germany.  I would have liked a bit more chemistry and technical details on how the plants work, but this is certainly a good place to start.  If you recognize Haber's name, you probably already know that this story is going to get really, really dark towards the end.  Bosch's story is equally frustrating, but he at least has the will and the political know-how to stall Germany's ultimate scientific downfall.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on March 22, 2015, 02:24:27 PM
Spin by Robert Charles Wilson - 7/10

Mind = blown.  The starting premise of this sci-fi novel is rather intriguing but probably not original:  the Earth somehow becomes "slowed down" in time as the universe rapidly evolves around it.  There's some biotech advances as well that are mildly interesting, but I initially thought were being used as a cheesy plot device.  Nope.  They are crucial to the story, and I kicked myself for not seeing what was going to happen.  Things get absolutely bonkers in the last third of the book.

I loved the conceptual angle of this book, but as with several other sci-fi series I found the character development to be unbearably awkward.  Everyone's personality seems to be either non-existent or incredibly forced.  If you don't mind a few tropes (super genius trying to save the world, evil power hungry businessmen, detached-yet-emotional-deep-down main character) I'd highly recommend it.

Oddly enough I heard about this book from This Week in Virology, which so far is batting 1000 in literary recommendations.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on March 23, 2015, 08:43:34 AM
A Darker Shade of Magic: A Novel (http://www.amazon.com/Darker-Shade-Magic-Novel/dp/0765376458/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1427114510&sr=8-1&keywords=a+darker+shade+of+magic) by V.E. Schwab

8/10 fast paced, good (but not great yet) characters, promises of more books to come. Interesting alt-reality story.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on March 23, 2015, 10:45:11 AM
Confessions of a sociopath, by ME Thomas.
 I think this book is a con. My guess is it was written by someone who has a theory about how sociopaths can fit into society, and how they should be raised  - and who cleverly fitted it into a popular-style format that people would read. The author gives it away in the last couple of crusading chapters. Anyway, even if I'm wrong - how can we trust this ultimately self serving, redemptive memoir written by a diagnosed sociopath?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on March 23, 2015, 01:31:06 PM
"he Sense of Style", Pinker.  10/10.  I bought this for my beautiful wife to add to her stylebook (she writes professionally) but as she didn't pick it up by Boxing Day, I grabbed it.  I'll never really use it in anger but I might refer to it now and again. 

It was typical Pinker, incredibly well written, deeply fascinating, and useful.  t was a great read as well as a great reference.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on March 23, 2015, 01:59:57 PM
"he Sense of Style", Pinker.  10/10.  I bought this for my beautiful wife to add to her stylebook (she writes professionally) but as she didn't pick it up by Boxing Day, I grabbed it.  I'll never really use it in anger but I might refer to it now and again. 

It was typical Pinker, incredibly well written, deeply fascinating, and useful.  t was a great read as well as a great reference.

I've just read a couple of reviews of this - it sounds fantastic. I'll definitely be buying it this payday.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on March 23, 2015, 02:08:06 PM
Amy Poehler's autobiography
9/10ish, I guess

Add Amy Poehler to the long list of people I would like to be friends with. I don't think I want to be famous, I just want to know certain famous people.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Desert Fox on March 25, 2015, 04:21:12 AM
Patricia Briggs - Dead Heat 6.5/10
You do have to like the series but I liked some of the other books in the series better
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: stretcher on April 08, 2015, 09:45:29 AM
Cormoran Strike kissed Robin's hand.  :D
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Redamare on April 09, 2015, 02:14:43 AM
The Great Gatsby, 10 out of 10.

Just finished it for the umpteenth time, and it never fails to give up more layers of meaning and subtlety. One of a couple dozen books I will be rereading for the rest of my life.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Andrew Clunn on April 13, 2015, 09:49:32 AM
To Be Or Not To Be

A choose your own adventure parody of Hamlet.  I've been taking "make the stupidest choices possible" approach to ensure I get to see every horrible ending.  A bit disappointed in that I've only found one "main branch" so far that just mirrors the original's story arch fairly directly.  Though I'm not "done" with the book, I have "finished" it several times.  Don't know how to rate it honestly.  I think I'd rate it well above average for a single player game, but below average for a book maybe.  I don't know, maybe the other way around.  It's just very unique.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on April 13, 2015, 11:19:01 AM
Haven't reported in since I finished Ancillary Justice - loved the ending, very interesting and enjoyable book.

Finished the Good Omens audiobook (not the BBC dramatization, the actual book).  Very nice.  Was unavailable in Canada for a very long time (now that I've heard the disclaimers at the front, I wonder if it was about the rights to the Queen songs?).

Halfway through The Human Division by John Scalzi.  This is the one that was released as a serial a couple years ago.  Really enjoying it (but it's not a jumping on point - for that you want the very good Old Man's War).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Vay on April 18, 2015, 10:45:22 AM
I've been re-reading Steven Donaldson's The Gap series on audiobook.

(http://images.mobilism.org/?dm=C33W)

I'd forgotten much of the details and am really enjoying it.  Donaldson has a tendency to draw things out with very wordy expositions on the emotional motivations of characters; still, I think the plot development in this series is just fantastic.  Frankly I'm kinda surprised they haven't tried to turn it into a movie... I think in a very condensed form it could work very well.  The first book in the series is my least favorite; I'd give that one maybe 2.5/5, with the second one being maybe a three.  The other five, though, are all five stars.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on April 29, 2015, 10:19:20 PM
The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin - 8/10

I kind of feel like it's cheating to write a bio of Teddy Roosevelt at this point.  You could literally throw together a bunch of conversations the guy had while shaving and it would still be a solid story (literally - he held hundreds of meetings during afternoon shaves).  Luckily Doris Goodwin knows how to offer a slightly different twist on the classic biography, combining the stories of Teddy, William Howard Taft, and early muckraking journalists.  Taft really does appear to have gotten the short end of the stick in our perception of presidential legacies.  He was promoting a nearly identical agenda as Teddy with a better knowledge of the law and much calmer temperament, but with a few unlucky twists of fate he was branded a failure to the Progressive cause.  It's also hard to tell how much of Roosevelt's reputation as a champion of the oppressed comes from his actions versus his ability to drive public sentiment.  His cozy relationship with several members of McClures magazine was indispensable to his successes, and perhaps had a greater overall impact on the American people than his direct trust-busting.  McClures is really the central character throughout most of the book, always a few steps ahead of Roosevelt and Taft.

Goodwin avoids getting preachy about politics and applying the lessons of the turn of the century to today, but it's really hard not to notice some of the parallels, particularly regarding the evolution of high-quality investigative journalism.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on April 29, 2015, 10:37:32 PM
Haven't reported in since I finished Ancillary Justice - loved the ending, very interesting and enjoyable book.

Finished the Good Omens audiobook (not the BBC dramatization, the actual book).  Very nice.  Was unavailable in Canada for a very long time (now that I've heard the disclaimers at the front, I wonder if it was about the rights to the Queen songs?).

Halfway through The Human Division by John Scalzi.  This is the one that was released as a serial a couple years ago.  Really enjoying it (but it's not a jumping on point - for that you want the very good Old Man's War).

Finished Human Division.  Very good.

Partway through Ancillary Sword, sequel to Ancillary Justice. Good, excellent even, but not transcendent like the first one.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Grimner on May 08, 2015, 06:12:56 AM
What if?
by
Randall Munroe

9 out of 10 - loses a point because I feel sad about not knowing enough math to fully appreciate it.

And I dream of 'Neutron Bullet' being a Mythbusters episode.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: helvetica on May 17, 2015, 06:22:18 PM
Madame Curie, by Eve Curie

8/10

An old biography written in the 30's. I picked my copy up from ARC for $1.99 but the original price was $0.50. It's a great little biography, though at first difficult to read the writing style. (I believe it was originally translated from Polish.) Much of the biography was text from letters and journals, which adds a lot of richness to the narrative. It was actually fairly gripping and reading about Marie's life made me begin to respect her as a person as well as a scientist. A biography like this helps me remember that she really was a just human, still capable of being lazy or idle.

One part of her life that struck me odd was when she was first married. She seemed the type to not care much about being a proper wife, until she got married and suddenly decided, "Oh shit, I'd better learn how to cook and clean." Since Marie's personality struck me as someone not willing to be pressured into what she was "supposed" to do as a woman, I was surprised that she was willing to take up household duties as well as work as many hours in the lab as her husband. But she ended up being a kind of 19th Century Supermom and was a very dedicated mother, wife, and scientist.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Naturebox on May 18, 2015, 01:05:03 AM
48 Laws of Power

8/10

Most of it is useful, some of it is too "muahaha" manipulative for me to utilize or see how it could be utilized. Also not enough contemporary examples.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on May 18, 2015, 10:47:55 AM
The Skull Throne by Peter V Brett
Latest in the Painted Man series.
4/10
This series keeps getting worse. Way too much focus on characters I dont care about in the slightest and just a handful of chapters about Rojer or the Painted Man. Bretts dialogue is painful to read due to the regional affectations he gives the characters, the people from the europe equivelant speak like west country farmers (nothing wrong with that but it gets old to read people saying things like "I ent gona leave you") the middle eastern stand ins speak in a much too formal way where Brett inserts hard to distinguish fictional terms in this foreign language into nearly every sentence. There are different levels of fictional martial arts that are annoying to try and remember in terms of which is better. The character names are way to similar and whole chapters just blend into a series of made up words and references to irrelevant characters who were mentioned one time or another.
My final complaint is that only one or two characters are in any way likeable and they are not featured in any interesting way. Brett does that thing that Robert Jordan did where he takes female characters and turns them into sour and bossy manipulators who secretly go weak at the knees for the right (or the wrong) guys. He also spends a couple of sentences explaining the effect of kicking a lady in the crotch.
I dont know, the first book was really enjoyable, the second one was ok despite a few weird character decisions. The last two books have doubled down on all the weaknesses of the first two.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on May 18, 2015, 10:51:17 AM
Double post
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Guillermo on May 18, 2015, 11:16:00 AM
Just finished the Dark Tower Series by Stephen King. As a whole I'd say they are 8/10. The story is pretty good and I like how he integrates every aspect of his writing in it. Some of the books or parts of them felt like it dragged a bit though.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on May 19, 2015, 01:03:51 PM
Just finished the Dark Tower Series by Stephen King. As a whole I'd say they are 8/10. The story is pretty good and I like how he integrates every aspect of his writing in it. Some of the books or parts of them felt like it dragged a bit though.

Enjoyed that series. So much so, that I might pick them back up and run through them again.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: SnarlPatrick on May 23, 2015, 03:25:41 PM
The Old Man & The Sea - 8/10

Been on my list of classics for a very long time, but only just got to it. Typical of Hemingway, in that the story is totally unadorned, and the prose is bare bones. It seems almost too simple to be anything special. But over the course of the book, a terrifying and universal metaphor starts to take shape... like fins in the water. You wind up with a deeply unsettling picture of just what is required to sustain oneself in a difficult world, and what happens when your best isn't enough.   
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on May 24, 2015, 06:46:07 PM
Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men And Mountains (http://www.amazon.com/Eiger-Dreams-Ventures-Among-Mountains/dp/1599216108) by John Krakauer

9/10

I enjoyed it immensely. It's 12 short stories about mountain climbing; the stories are diverse, involving colorful characters from Krakauer's climbing experiences, and some breathtaking imagery. I'd often have to stop and google some pictures of whatever place was being described, which made the read even more fun for me. Krakauer's style is authoritative in that you feel like "he's seen it all," but he mostly refrains from making value judgments, which I personally appreciated. Most of the book is in third person, but one of the stories is an intensely personal account of an early adventure of Krakauer's, and it really spoke to me.

It's an extremely fast read, and while I'd recommend it to everybody, I'd also say it's a must-read if you're at all into the outdoors.



Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (http://www.amazon.com/Do-Androids-Dream-Electric-Sheep-ebook/dp/B000SEGTI0) by Philip K Dick

6/10

Worth a read, but didn't completely do it for me. I enjoyed the post-apocalyptic world set up by Dick, and I really enjoyed the "detective story" aspect, but I feel like the book would have had a much greater impact when it was written, rather than today, considering that the philosophical questions that arise were probably pretty heady stuff in 1968, but have been probed frequently and to a much greater depth in recent media.

Other opinions on this book?

Other PK Dick recommendations?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on May 25, 2015, 03:33:20 PM
Spillover by David Quammen  - 10/10

Over the past year or so, I've been plagued by viruses and parasites slowly taking over large chunks of my brain.  Okay, not literally.  It's just become the scientific topic I spend the most time learning about.  As of today, Spillover takes the crown as the best general science book I've read on this topic.

Lots of gutsy journalism and in-the-field interviews with scientists.  Quammen had no qualms about traveling to Ebola ridden areas of the Congo, or stepping through bat crap right after learning that it likely contained Nipah virus, or braving some of the more seedy meat markets in China and Hong Kong.  Impeccable and thorough scientific explanations of how viruses infect humans and animals.  Usually you're lucky if pop-sci biology books tell you what DNA stands for.  Spillover had a complete explanation of why RNA viruses mutate faster than DNA, why PCR analysis is not the same as detecting live virus, and how retroviruses insert their genes into cells.  And how surface adhesion proteins work.  And the basics of SIR disease modeling. And none of it is boring.  All these descriptions stealthily wedged in between daring adventures trying to catch wild animals and gruesome tales of death.  I even had a few laugh out loud moments, but maybe I'm a sucker for bat puns.

I think there's an updated version of this book since the latest Ebola outbreak, but the 2012 version is good enough.  The only thing missing in the book is a differentiation between airborne transmission and droplet transmission (eg the concept that paranoid Ebola nuts loved to purposefully misunderstand last fall).  That's really nitpicking though.

Don't bother with The Hot Zone.  Don't read another boring book about evolution.  Don't watch Dallas Buyers Club to learn about AIDS.  Read Spillover.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on May 25, 2015, 05:34:38 PM
Damn, Sawyer... that was a pretty convincing review.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: superdave on May 26, 2015, 12:13:55 PM
Pines, book one of the Wayward Pines trilogy.

4/10
Stay away.
This was pretty horrible.  The twists are dumb, the plot makes no sense, the characters are bland, the fight scenes are insane, people survive completely ridiculous amounts of physical injury, and the writing is bad.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: starnado on May 29, 2015, 10:23:21 AM
The Wizard Knight (duology) by Gene Wolfe 9/10

I am reading this for the second time. I have one thing to say-
EVERYBODY SHOULD READ IT.
What a beautifully written book. Please read it so we can discuss it. Or, if you have read it, tell me what you thought.
I will elaborate further on my views of the narrative style and the roles of the characters if anyone is interested.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on May 31, 2015, 10:55:55 AM
Spillover by David Quammen  - 10/10

Over the past year or so, I've been plagued by viruses and parasites slowly taking over large chunks of my brain.  Okay, not literally.  It's just become the scientific topic I spend the most time learning about.  As of today, Spillover takes the crown as the best general science book I've read on this topic.

Lots of gutsy journalism and in-the-field interviews with scientists.  Quammen had no qualms about traveling to Ebola ridden areas of the Congo, or stepping through bat crap right after learning that it likely contained Nipah virus, or braving some of the more seedy meat markets in China and Hong Kong.  Impeccable and thorough scientific explanations of how viruses infect humans and animals.  Usually you're lucky if pop-sci biology books tell you what DNA stands for.  Spillover had a complete explanation of why RNA viruses mutate faster than DNA, why PCR analysis is not the same as detecting live virus, and how retroviruses insert their genes into cells.  And how surface adhesion proteins work.  And the basics of SIR disease modeling. And none of it is boring.  All these descriptions stealthily wedged in between daring adventures trying to catch wild animals and gruesome tales of death.  I even had a few laugh out loud moments, but maybe I'm a sucker for bat puns.

I think there's an updated version of this book since the latest Ebola outbreak, but the 2012 version is good enough.  The only thing missing in the book is a differentiation between airborne transmission and droplet transmission (eg the concept that paranoid Ebola nuts loved to purposefully misunderstand last fall).  That's really nitpicking though.

Don't bother with The Hot Zone.  Don't read another boring book about evolution.  Don't watch Dallas Buyers Club to learn about AIDS.  Read Spillover.

I agree. I loved it too.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Vay on June 02, 2015, 07:48:27 AM
Just re-read The Runes of the Earth by Steven Donaldson.  It's the first book in the third chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever series.  I utterly hated it the first time; think that was during my Zeitgeist phase where I was hyper-serious about everything.  Anyway, this time, I thought it was pretty great; probably better than anything in the second series.  Maybe give it 7/10.

(http://www.audioeditions.com/audio-book-images/l/The-Runes-of-the-Earth-277239.jpg)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on June 02, 2015, 04:27:30 PM
Heh, awesome how your current state of mind can affect how you feel about fictional entertainment.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on June 04, 2015, 01:01:17 AM
The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut  --  9/10

Man, I loved a LOT about this book. My first Vonnegut, definitely not my last. I'm aligned with most of the philosophic implications of the storyline, which helps... but the whole story is a load of fun. I felt close to the characters, and each featured character bared their basic humanity in different ways. I couldn't root for or against any of the characters, but I was intimately interested in what happened to each.

Lost a point because the ending felt a bit anticlimactic, but I'm also not sure it could have been done any better. I'll read this again sometime for sure; so many quotable lines.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Ah.hell on June 04, 2015, 12:02:32 PM
Read Harrison Bergeron next, I have a psuedo-debate about what Vonnegut was trying to say with a guy.  I say psuedo-debate because its mostly me going, "What, that makes no sense."  to the guy. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on June 04, 2015, 02:29:50 PM
Read Harrison Bergeron next, I have a psuedo-debate about what Vonnegut was trying to say with a guy.  I say psuedo-debate because its mostly me going, "What, that makes no sense."  to the guy.

Thanks, I'll toss that near the top of my "to read" pile.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on June 04, 2015, 04:48:23 PM
Read Harrison Bergeron next, I have a psuedo-debate about what Vonnegut was trying to say with a guy.  I say psuedo-debate because its mostly me going, "What, that makes no sense."  to the guy.
I think it *is* his most pro-libertarian story... IMO it's basically the (semi-)logical extension of what might happen when you too strenuously attempt to enforce equality. At the end of the day, some people are going to be smarter or more able at some things than others. As a liberal I'm perfectly okay with that thesis, although I think that if one was to extend that to, say, affirmative action, I don't think the story makes the point that AA is bad.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Ah.hell on June 04, 2015, 04:58:39 PM
Read Harrison Bergeron next, I have a psuedo-debate about what Vonnegut was trying to say with a guy.  I say psuedo-debate because its mostly me going, "What, that makes no sense."  to the guy.
I think it *is* his most pro-libertarian story... IMO it's basically the (semi-)logical extension of what might happen when you too strenuously attempt to enforce equality. At the end of the day, some people are going to be smarter or more able at some things than others. As a liberal I'm perfectly okay with that thesis, although I think that if one was to extend that to, say, affirmative action, I don't think the story makes the point that AA is bad.
My friend thinks its a criticism of libertarianism.  I have a hard arguing against because I can only just stare slack jawed at the notion. 

My working theory is that my friend is a lefty and really likes Vonnegut so he can't imagine Vonnegut writing anything pro-libertarian.  Like most dystopian fiction, it takes things to an absurd extreme but I think it works because Vonnegut knows that, unlike say Ayn Rand. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on June 05, 2015, 02:33:41 AM
Read Harrison Bergeron next, I have a psuedo-debate about what Vonnegut was trying to say with a guy.  I say psuedo-debate because its mostly me going, "What, that makes no sense."  to the guy.
I think it *is* his most pro-libertarian story... IMO it's basically the (semi-)logical extension of what might happen when you too strenuously attempt to enforce equality. At the end of the day, some people are going to be smarter or more able at some things than others. As a liberal I'm perfectly okay with that thesis, although I think that if one was to extend that to, say, affirmative action, I don't think the story makes the point that AA is bad.
My friend thinks its a criticism of libertarianism.  I have a hard arguing against because I can only just stare slack jawed at the notion. 

My working theory is that my friend is a lefty and really likes Vonnegut so he can't imagine Vonnegut writing anything pro-libertarian.  Like most dystopian fiction, it takes things to an absurd extreme but I think it works because Vonnegut knows that, unlike say Ayn Rand.
Yeah, I definitely don't think it's *anti*-libertarian. Pretty much the opposite of that, in fact. If you want some Vonnegut going full-on lib I'd recommend God Bless You Mister Rosewater or, if you prefer a short story, "Welcome to the Monkey House". All in all, though, I think it's problematic to assume that an author agrees with you on everything just because you like their writing. I mean, jeez... at one point in my life I really liked Orson Scott Card (and really, when he doesn't get overly political, which unfortunately happens roughly 0% of the time now, he knows how to make characters really well).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on June 05, 2015, 07:59:25 AM
Cloud Atlas  8/10

Hard to read at times (at least for me), but was such a rewarding book once I had finished it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: starnado on June 05, 2015, 08:47:49 AM
Cloud Atlas  8/10

Hard to read at times (at least for me), but was such a rewarding book once I had finished it.

I enjoyed Number 9 Dream by the same author, David Mitchell. I haven't read Cloud Atlas but I will. I like his prose style even if the narrative structure is cluttered and a little too clever-clever for me.

Have you seen Cloud Atlas, the film? I enjoyed that too. It was nowhere near as bad as some of the reviews made out imho.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on June 06, 2015, 02:53:35 PM
Cloud Atlas  8/10

Hard to read at times (at least for me), but was such a rewarding book once I had finished it.

I enjoyed Number 9 Dream by the same author, David Mitchell. I haven't read Cloud Atlas but I will. I like his prose style even if the narrative structure is cluttered and a little too clever-clever for me.

Have you seen Cloud Atlas, the film? I enjoyed that too. It was nowhere near as bad as some of the reviews made out imho.

David Mitchell is up there with Haruki Murakami, Nicola Barker, Peter Carey and a couple of others as one of my favorite authors - but I see exactly what you mean about the 'clever-cleverness'. Now that you mention it, that describes most of my favorite writing/writers.

'Black Swan Green' by David Mitchell though is less 'clever-clever': also brilliant though.
'My Life as a Fake' by Peter Carey is incredible - but very clever-clever. Likewise 'Darkmans' by Nicola Barker.

I haven't seen Cloud Atlas, the movie. Can't imagine how it could work. I must give it a try.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: starnado on June 07, 2015, 05:39:45 AM
...
I haven't seen Cloud Atlas, the movie. Can't imagine how it could work. I must give it a try.

It doesn't. Work, that is, not really. It is worth watching though, for the fantastic imagery and the puzzle-like way it is structured.

Thanks for the recommendations though!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on June 07, 2015, 07:34:50 AM
...
I haven't seen Cloud Atlas, the movie. Can't imagine how it could work. I must give it a try.

It doesn't. Work, that is, not really. It is worth watching though, for the fantastic imagery and the puzzle-like way it is structured.

Thanks for the recommendations though!

More warnings than recommendations!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on June 08, 2015, 09:54:16 AM
The Cloud Atlas was ok I thought! Mitchel seemed to use unnecessary flourishes at times though that kind of broke the spell. He did a good job on the different voices but the plot wasnt really all that imo. I reviewed the film today in the movies thread actually, suffice to say I didnt like it.

The Universe Versus Alex Woods- 5/10
I think any normal person would rate it much higher but I can only give my opinion. It was recommended by a friend who told me I would love it. I can see why she thought so, its about how a lonely kid grows into a science geek, a skeptic and a secular humanist via the events of his life and an odd perspective. He has a very touching relationship with a cantankerous old man and they bond over Kurt Vonnegut novels.
The end is very emotional and touching and the whole thing is well written with an amusing perspective on the world but in all honesty, I found reading it to be a chore.
Just not my cup of tea, which is why I so rarely trust people when they tell me I would love something.
I do however now really want to read Vonnegut.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: starnado on June 08, 2015, 10:06:24 AM
Re Kurt Vonnegut: I have only read Breakfast of Champions which I really really liked as a teenager and recently re-read with joy. It felt like a piece of classic Americana, like Repo Man or On The Road. I love his illustrations (particularly the  *  tee hee).

I am going to read some more Vonnegut starting with Sirens...

His best work though has to be QB's tagline.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on June 14, 2015, 02:26:24 PM
The Confusion (The Baroque Cycle, #2)    by Neal Stephenson - 9/10

While I enjoyed learning about the beginning of the Royal Society and the English history refresher in Quicksilver, The Confusion kicks it up a notch.  Less natural philosophy, more piracy.  Fewer mischievous English nobles, more straight-up sadistic French nobles.  More mercury, gold, phosphorus, and ammonia showing up where it doesn't belong, as modern chemistry slowly emerges from its alchemy roots.

The title of this book has multiple meanings, the most obvious of which is that no one in 1690s Europe seems to know what the f*$@ is going on with their economies, political hierarchies, and wars.  If anyone can follow all three of the main plot lines without sharing in this confusion they have my respect, because I had trouble keeping up with Eliza's economic schemes even after she spells them out in great detail.  I guess I'm impressed by Stephenson's ability to make me feel both smart and bewildered at the same time.  Of course whenever political and economic storylines start to grow stale, they are interrupted by a battle where someone gets their arm/leg/head chopped off.

Could have dropped the "o" from Baroque for this book though, because good lord they spend a lot of time on boats.  Boats and gold, boats and gold, I gotta have me more boats and gold.   8)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Desert Fox on June 21, 2015, 02:32:39 PM
The Disappearance of Flight 19 by Larry Kusche.
8.5/10 - Older book but the data has not changed since he wrote his book. Probably get a cheap used copy. Goes back to the original reports, something most authors don't especially those who want to sensationalize it. He does not pull punches and does criticize the Navy in some areas such as not extending far enough north the search zone. He also gives a pretty good description of what is know and discusses at length the battle Charles Taylor's mother went to in order to get her son's name cleared.  She kind of managed but he really is at fault for the accident. Does not make him a monster but most pilots get disoriented at times.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on July 04, 2015, 05:09:07 PM
The March of Folly:  From Troy to Vietnam by Barbara Tuchman  - a strong 8/10

So the theme of this book should be fairly obvious from the title.  Barbara Tuchman explores the concept of folly in ruling institutions - military, political, and religious.  She establishes several criteria for what qualifies as folly, but the most important is when a government clearly acts against its own self-interest (as opposed to merely screwing things up for a lot of people).  The four main cases presented are the fall of Troy, the Catholic Church just before the Reformation, the British losing America, and America losing in Vietnam.  With the exception of the Troy story, I found the historical coverage in this book to be top notch.  I could accuse Tuchman of over simplifying the political lessons to be derived from these events, but considering how often these lessons are ignored I suppose they need perpetual attention.

My timing with this book was serendipitous because I managed to hear two interviews on NPR about Richard Nixon while working my way through Vietnam portion.  I've come to terms with the idea that savvy political leaders often make stupid mistakes, but it makes my stomach churn to see people that are full-blown paranoid delusional somehow become in charge of a democratic nation in the midst of a war.  Somehow the magnitude of screw ups in Iraq really didn't hit me until reading about how our Defense Department dealt with conflicting intelligence reports during Vietnam.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Gerbig on July 04, 2015, 08:06:54 PM
Just cracking into the first game of thrones book, everyone is so god dam young, yikes
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on July 08, 2015, 01:41:22 AM
I've recently finished two books: Raising Steam (Terry Pratchett) and Uprooted (Naomi Novik)

Raising Steam was ok. I wasn't wowed. It didn't feel as focused or as tart as some of the other Moist Von Lipwig books. 3/5

Uprooted was by far one of the best books I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Omigosh it was subtle, complex, the characters were compelling, the author didn't spoon feed you the plot, it was woven together expertly, and i loved it so much. 5/5
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on July 08, 2015, 01:51:11 AM
"Thinking, Fast and Slow", Kahneman.  Not bad for a Nobel laureate.  8/10 for readability, 10/10 for content.  I studied a bit of heuristic thinking teaching avalanche safety courses, so I found it very interesting.

I did watch a youtube conversation between Kahneman and Nasim Taleb (obviously very good friends and intellectual colleagues) and found it enlightening and interesting.  Listening to two ESL's with towering intellects chatting (Kahneman being the responsible party) was very cool; but maybe one needs to have read some of their work to enjoy it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: RumbleFishTwist on July 08, 2015, 10:06:24 PM
+1 for The March of Folly.
Stupid Trojans!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: fuzzyMarmot on July 11, 2015, 11:40:10 PM
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. 8.5/10. Amazing first two-thirds. Last part got a little weird for me. Lots of great science... especially the orbital mechanics stuff.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on July 12, 2015, 11:31:48 AM
"Thinking, Fast and Slow", Kahneman.  Not bad for a Nobel laureate.  8/10 for readability, 10/10 for content.  I studied a bit of heuristic thinking teaching avalanche safety courses, so I found it very interesting.

I did watch a youtube conversation between Kahneman and Nasim Taleb (obviously very good friends and intellectual colleagues) and found it enlightening and interesting.  Listening to two ESL's with towering intellects chatting (Kahneman being the responsible party) was very cool; but maybe one needs to have read some of their work to enjoy it.

I struggled with this book. But I think I'll give it another go.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on July 12, 2015, 12:16:00 PM
In the middle of the third and final installment of The Apocalypse Triptych which is an amazon release curated by John Joseph Adams and the dreamy Hugh Howey.

It's a series of short stories divided up into three books: The End is Nigh (consists of stories leading up to the apocalypse) The End is Now (stories during the apocalypse) and The End Has Come (stories following the apocalypse). Some of the authors wrote a story in the same universe if not with the same characters for all three books, some stories are unique to the book.

Hugh Howey has a story in each that takes place in the Wool universe, and provides more insight into that world, which I always enjoy as long as he's the author and it isn't fan fiction wool stories.

Some of the stories are really fun, some are just OK, but it's a good read all around if you like post-apocalyptic tales. Can't really give it a 1-10 rating because it's diverse, but I'll say the stories all fall between 6 and 9. Maybe one or two of them I'd rate lower.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on July 12, 2015, 02:49:37 PM
"Thinking, Fast and Slow", Kahneman.  Not bad for a Nobel laureate.  8/10 for readability, 10/10 for content.  I studied a bit of heuristic thinking teaching avalanche safety courses, so I found it very interesting.

I did watch a youtube conversation between Kahneman and Nasim Taleb (obviously very good friends and intellectual colleagues) and found it enlightening and interesting.  Listening to two ESL's with towering intellects chatting (Kahneman being the responsible party) was very cool; but maybe one needs to have read some of their work to enjoy it.

I struggled with this book. But I think I'll give it another go.

Kahneman didn't get a Noble for his writing skills. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: brilligtove on July 16, 2015, 10:01:27 AM
"Thinking, Fast and Slow", Kahneman.  Not bad for a Nobel laureate.  8/10 for readability, 10/10 for content.  I studied a bit of heuristic thinking teaching avalanche safety courses, so I found it very interesting.

I did watch a youtube conversation between Kahneman and Nasim Taleb (obviously very good friends and intellectual colleagues) and found it enlightening and interesting.  Listening to two ESL's with towering intellects chatting (Kahneman being the responsible party) was very cool; but maybe one needs to have read some of their work to enjoy it.

I struggled with this book. But I think I'll give it another go.

Kahneman didn't get a Noble for his writing skills. 

I read this one on Audible, which was quite good - but I was already aware of most of the diagrams, so I didn't have to refer to the separate PDF. The content is 10/10 for sure - if you really internalize and act on it, it can change your life.

Fuzzy Nation (http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Fuzzy-Nation-Audiobook/B004YXLK7G) by John Scalzi (http://www.audible.com/search?searchAuthor=John+Scalzi) on Audible, narrated by Wil Wheaton.

I rated it thusly:
Scalzi has become my favorite science fiction author in recent years. I hadn't realized it, really, until I looked at my library and saw how many of his books I loved. This one is a reimagining of an H. Beam Piper tale from a long time ago. It is fun, funny, serious, and exciting in turns. It made me wonder how much of the movie Avatar was drawn from the original story.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Desert Fox on July 24, 2015, 09:23:20 PM
Title: Trio of Sorcery
Author: Mercedes Lackey
5.5/10

I liked revisiting two of her old characters but something of a pizazz seems to be gone in her writing or it just might be me. Does remark about how the state of communication was in the time frame (one story was set around 1970 and the other in 1995) I guess mainly for younger readers.   
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on July 27, 2015, 03:18:13 PM
The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (A Burton & Swinburne Adventure Book 1) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00C4B2L5K/ref=series_rw_dp_sw) by Mark Hodder

I...I just don't know...4 to 8 out of 10.

The more absurd the story gets, the better the writing and story become. When it tries to be serious and reserved and philosophical, it drops into sucky territory.

 ???
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on August 01, 2015, 12:24:44 PM
I've finished 'The Wild Oats Project' (by Robin Rinaldi)

She starts the project (of exploring her sexuality at age 44) basically as revenge against her husband for refusing to have a child with her and getting a vasectomy. Of course, she does not frame it like this - she denies it’s about revenge and says its rebellion and being able to go to her death bed knowing that even if she didn't have a child she explored her sexuality fully.

She was monogamous for 18 years before the project and was satisfied with sex with her husband although she describes it as a bit 'vanilla'. She says she ignored books promising things like 'extended massive orgasm' because she assumed that was for women who couldn't come and she knew what worked for her body.

 She and her husband were non-verbal about sex - and she said she was completely unable to talk dirty to him - this is a huge revelation for her when she starts the project.

She doesn't separate from her husband but they agree to an open marriage where she does what she likes on weekdays - and weekends she's a monogamous wife. She gets her own flat - then moves into an urban commune centred around sexual awakening and stuff, Mon - Thurs. Her rule is no more than 3 encounters with any one person - but she soon breaks this.

The book describes her experiences with all this. It was interesting. I enjoyed it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on August 01, 2015, 12:37:15 PM
I also recently finished the new book by Jon Ronson called 'So you've been publicly shamed'. (JR wrote 'The Psychopath Test' and "The Men Who Stare At Goats')

This is what the blurb says :

"For the past three years JR has travelled the world meeting recipients of high profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us - people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work. Once their transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know they're being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, sometimes even fired from their job.

A great renaissance of public shaming is sweeping our land. Justice has been democratised. The silent majority are getting a voice. But what are we doing with our voice? We are mercilessly finding peoples faults. We are defining the boundaries of normality by ruining the lives of those outside it. We are using shame as a form of social control.

Simultaneously powerful and hilarious in the way only JR can be, 'So You've Been Publicly Shamed,' is a deeply honest book about modern life, full of eye opening truths about the escalating war on human flaws - and the very scary part we all play in it."


There were some interesting points and snippets. But overall I didn't think it was up to his usual standard. It was very anecdotal, and not carefully structured. The points were not integrated in an overall coherent structure to create an well argued position. Actually, quite often principles were not even fully/carefully extracted from the anecdotes, nor were the broader implications explored. This book is basically JR feeling guilty about being mean to people anonymously on Twitter ( OK ... I might be being a teeny bit harsh here...but I was expecting something good from him). Oh and btw the blurb promised 'simultaneously powerful and hilarious'. It did not have a single funny, let alone hilarious, moment in it that I can remember.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on August 01, 2015, 03:19:58 PM
Dammit petro, you beat me to the punch.  I was about to write a review of it this morning but thought it could wait until the afternoon.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on August 01, 2015, 03:31:15 PM
Dammit petro, you beat me to the punch.  I was about to write a review of it this morning but thought it could wait until the afternoon.

I can't wait to hear what you thought of it!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on August 01, 2015, 03:53:49 PM
My exposure to Ronson is entirely through interviews so I can't judge it relative to his other writing, but I thoroughly enjoyed So You've Been Publicly Shamed.  Part of my enjoyment probably stemmed from the fact I read it while taking a break from Collapse by Jared Diamond, and noticed some bizarre parallels between books tackling completely different scales of human misery.  The Tragedy of the Commons that has plagued human civilization for millennia has found a new home in the world of internet shaming.  People acting completely in accordance with their own beliefs of justice and free-speech do not recognize how the collective impact of their words is just god-awful for pretty much everyone involved.  And it really doesn't appear to solve anything.  Bad journalists keep plagiarizing, racists keep being racists, Mike Daisy is somehow still going strong (as is Apple).  It's also frustrating to see how utterly spineless and inept large institutions/businesses respond when dealing with public pressure, and their responses are often just setting a precedent for future disasters.  If you fire or refuse to hire someone because Twitter doesn't like them, then seriously, fuck you and your business.  Of course the futility of trying to stop discrimination against people who have been shamed is that you'd have to resort to a whole lot more shaming in the process, and then figure out a way to dial *that* public shaming back, etc, etc.  Or as Ronson points out, to create an entire generation of reformed shame-ees that are literally the blandest people on the planet.  I hope future generations figure out a way to tame the wild west of social media, because my generation has used it to successfully resurrect the justice system of the 18th century.

At least two belly laugh moments in the book too, so petropal apparently lacks my sense of humor.  If someone can find the porno that Jon Ronson is in the background of please let me know!  I'm not slogging through hours of shame porn to find it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on August 01, 2015, 04:01:02 PM
The Wild Oats Project sounds pretty cool!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on August 08, 2015, 04:22:38 PM
The Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal by Tom Shroder (Sept 2014)

Schroder sets out the history of psychedelic therapy in the context of 3 personal stories :
Rick Doblin, who is the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS);
Michael Mithoefer, who is a former ER doctor and now a leading psychiatrist in psychedelic therapy research; and his patient
Nicholas Blackston, who is a former Marine with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Schroder's treatment of the subject is thorough and rigorous - but is rendered highly readable by the personal context in which it is presented.

The book covers the initial years of experimentation in the fifties and sixties, through the backlash of the seventies and eighties, to the current day fight to legitimate psychedelic research.

The evidence presented suggests strongly that emotion and politics has improperly stifled research into the unprecedented healing properties of psychedelics.

I highly recommend this book. It is well written, comprehensive and detailed and yet manages to remain easy reading.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on August 09, 2015, 01:01:41 AM
Sounds interesting. Might not be in the Ashburon Library yet...

I often think of those lovely ten cent blotters and 25 cent four way windowpanes in the 60's.  Cheap as chips.  Better for you.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on August 09, 2015, 02:49:09 PM
Just finished Submarine, Edward Beach's excellent account of the Pacific WWII submarine war. Beach, who also wrote the novel Run Silent, Run Deep (which was made into a '50s movie), was one of the top sub commanders of the war. In this book, he details  some of the amazing stories of undersea conflict in that war. Each story could stand alone as a movie on par with Das Boot, although they would probably be dismissed as fiction.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Andrew Clunn on August 10, 2015, 02:05:51 AM
Uglies. One more of those teeny-bopper saves the world from a distopian future books.  Apparently the first in a trilogy, except this one is doesn't even have a minor resolution at the end.  That said it was at least decently characterized and there was some good world building.  Basically good writing covering up for not the best plot.  Got me through the plane ride okay.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on August 10, 2015, 08:11:46 AM
Uglies. One more of those teeny-bopper saves the world from a distopian future books.  Apparently the first in a trilogy, except this one is doesn't even have a minor resolution at the end.  That said it was at least decently characterized and there was some good world building.  Basically good writing covering up for not the best plot.  Got me through the plane ride okay.

Scott Westerfield is pretty good writer at least.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on August 10, 2015, 10:31:38 AM
Halfway through Randall Munroe's What If? that I'm testing out on the local library's new audiobook lending app.  Pretty enjoyable so far.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Caffiene on August 10, 2015, 11:03:23 AM
Halfway through Randall Munroe's What If? that I'm testing out on the local library's new audiobook lending app.  Pretty enjoyable so far.

Ok, the lending program sounds great. But you chose to test it with the audiobook of a famous comic creator? I cant even imagine reading What If without the diagrams and cartoons.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on August 10, 2015, 11:04:24 AM
It's not that bad.  Wil Wheaton entertains me, and it is written really descriptively.  The only one I can compare directly is the baseball one, which I've seen the drawings for.  They are entertaining but it is still better having the text and no diagrams than not having it at all
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on August 10, 2015, 02:28:54 PM
A Dance with Dragons - GRR Martin - 7/10

I like the books, I like the show, and this is my second readthrough (wanted to remind myself where the book doesn't line up with the show, now that they're almost even). I enjoyed this'n more on the readthrough than the first time, and it sucks that the show doesn't have time for some of the more interesting subplots, because this book is full of em.

Cat's Cradle - Vonnegut - 7/10

I really enjoy Vonnegut's style; it's witty, and rarely seems to plod, but there's not much story here, and I feel like the book is a parable with a wholly obfuscated message, even though that doesn't seem to be the case. Rather, I think the book really is devoid of a plot, and is simply a medium for his (oft clever) critiques on human nature and society. Nothing mind-bending here, but enjoyable. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on August 10, 2015, 10:07:12 PM
Big Science (Ernest Lawrence Bio) by Michael Hiltzik  - 8/10

I heard an interview with Hiltzik on the Inquiry Minds podcast and was thoroughly impressed, so I decided to check out his book.  Overall this was a decent history of the field of nuclear physics in the 1930s and the birth of particle accelerators.  The real focus of the book though was the financial, political, and bureaucratic changes that enveloped the entire discipline of physics and eventually every facet of science in the mid 20th century.  Today it is utterly inconceivable that top notch science labs could operate with a handful of grad students and a $20,000 grant, but if it weren't for the legacy of Ernest Lawrence that could very well be the world we'd be living in.  The entire culture of modern academic science seems to mirror Lawrence's organization of the Berkeley Rad Lab.

The last third of this book was really kind of a downer.  Lawrence, who forged his successes through optimism and a charming personality, gets way too chummy with Edward Teller, Lewis Strauss, and other nuclear hawks, and loses a lot of his personal appeal.  He drifts away from his previous friendship with Oppenheimer, and never seems to realize his mantra about keeping politics out of the lab is both unrealistic and hypocritical.  It's hard to tell whether this transition was made completely on Lawrence's own volition, or from the slow pressure of his more conservative peers.  One of these days I'm going to force myself through a biography of Teller.  Maybe I'm still too hung up on the first impression I ever had of him (which I think I got via Carl Sagan), but the guy is seriously the biggest crybaby and douche in the history of physics.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Ah.hell on August 12, 2015, 03:36:58 PM
The Full Catoastrophe (http://www.amazon.com/The-Full-Catastrophe-Travels-Among/dp/0385346484):Travels Among the New Greek Ruins

7/10  Its a well written account of Greece leading up to and during the crisis but it's mostly a series of anecdotes by the Author so most be taken with a grain of salt.  The gist, Greece is screwed by internal corruption and xenophobia and by the Troika's austerity measures.   

I learned a lot about recent Greek Heritage.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on August 13, 2015, 07:59:29 AM
The Queen of the Tearling (http://www.amazon.com/Queen-Tearling-Erika-Johansen-ebook/dp/B00FVW7CVM/ref=la_B00KC0ACLA_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1439466945&sr=1-1) and The Invasion of the Tearling (http://www.amazon.com/The-Invasion-Tearling-Queen-ebook/dp/B00PFX5S3G/ref=pd_sim_351_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=1TKJHZYGW2QJN2J8DF4K) by Erika Johansen both 9/10

NOT young adult fiction! Not a book I would have normally picked up, but the wife finished it, looked at me and said, "you will like this lead character". And I did, she is awesome and kickass.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: arthwollipot on August 14, 2015, 03:55:52 AM
Uglies. One more of those teeny-bopper saves the world from a distopian future books.  Apparently the first in a trilogy, except this one is doesn't even have a minor resolution at the end.  That said it was at least decently characterized and there was some good world building.  Basically good writing covering up for not the best plot.  Got me through the plane ride okay.

I did very much enjoy So Yesterday from the same author. Worth a look - not exactly hard-going, but fun.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Guillermo on September 08, 2015, 10:27:24 AM
Just finished reading The Martian (http://www.amazon.com/Martian-Andy-Weir/dp/0553418025/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441721982&sr=8-1&keywords=the+martian). 8/10.

I've noticed that lot's of people, especially those that take literary works seriously, do not like it, because the writing is not up to standard in the genre. I agree that it is not, but the reading is very simple and fluid. I realize that in my reading, the level of writing is not an issue for me, as long as the story is compelling. I did the audio book and thought it was great.

Other books I've read earlier.

Gardens of the Moon (http://www.amazon.com/Gardens-Moon-Malazan-Book-Fallen/dp/0765348780/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1441722039&sr=1-2&keywords=deadhouse+gates). 8/10

I've wanted to read a long epic series and found the Malazan Book of the Fallen. This is intense. About 40 hours of audio for each audio book. I have to take a break for each book. So currently have just read 2. I was really engaged with this book, but is a really hard book to follow. Had I read it, it would have taken me a year to go through the pages. So the audio book helped. The problem is that the Audio book makes no distinction between scenery changes, so sometimes I don't realize they are talking about another character POV.

Deadhouse gates (http://www.amazon.com/Deadhouse-Gates-Tale-Malazan-Fallen/dp/0765348799/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1441722039&sr=1-1&keywords=deadhouse+gates). 7/10

Second of the series. Pretty good. But there are a couple of story arcs that are quite a bore. But the good story arcs make up for it. And the bad storyarcs pick up great towards the end.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Guillermo on September 08, 2015, 10:28:39 AM
Is it acceptable to say that I have "Read" a book, when what I did was Listen to the unabridged audiobook?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Andrew Clunn on September 08, 2015, 10:36:48 AM
Is it acceptable to say that I have "Read" a book, when what I did was Listen to the unabridged audiobook?

Sure, and... quick confession:

(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on September 08, 2015, 11:22:16 AM
Great North Road, Peter F. Hamilton.  Pretty good SF detective/mystery story.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Ah.hell on September 08, 2015, 11:50:39 AM
Is it acceptable to say that I have "Read" a book, when what I did was Listen to the unabridged audiobook?

Sure, and... quick confession:

(click to show/hide)
Wow, I'd figure that would be worse than reading it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on September 08, 2015, 02:44:08 PM
Is it acceptable to say that I have "Read" a book, when what I did was Listen to the unabridged audiobook?

Sure, and... quick confession:

(click to show/hide)

Who is John Galt?

(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on September 09, 2015, 10:26:39 PM
The Path to Power (Lyndon Johnson, #1)    by Robert Caro                 10/10

So I was under the impression that those huge Doris Kearns Goodwin books I'd been lugging around constituted "in depth" political biographies.  Nope.  Damn this book for shattering my previous illusion of knowledge.  I have no clue what sort of psychotic obsession Robert Caro has to write books of this magnitude (the four part LBJ series is nearly 3000 pages), but I'm glad he's willing to share the madness.  In terms of pure enjoyment I'd rate this at 9 out of 10, but that's only because I spent large parts of the book being disgusted by Johnson and his unsavory allies/rivals.

A few gems of knowledge, in reverse order they appear in the book:

- Pappy O'Daniel, the radio salesman turned governor in the movie "O Brother Where Art Thou", was a real guy in Texas.  And he is a terrible person.  He flat out steals the senate election of 1941 away from Lyndon Johnson by buying votes, and he does this AFTER election day.  How the heck is that even possible?  It's fun to think about people whining about virtually non-existent vote fraud in 2015 and contrast it with the real voter fraud that was a staple of Texas politics in the 40s.

- LBJ's entire political career hinged on his campaigning for a dam on the Colorado River during the New Deal.  He managed to pour government money into an inexperienced construction company, and when the company grew, got them construction jobs with the navy.  They proceeded to fund (illegally) dozens of Democratic Congressmen's campaigns several years later, and funneled all of the money through Johnson.  He didn't do a damn thing in Congress - seriously, Johnson was a freaking joke as a legislator.  Nevertheless, his fundraising reputation gained him instant recognition from his peers.  Oh, and he managed to pull off all this fundraising in a mere three weeks before elections.

- Johnson was despised in college.  He created a secret society that basically took over the student government in a year.  Of course he managed to keep his own role so secret that no one actually blamed him for this takeover.  But people still despised him because it was abundantly clear he was incapable of honesty about *anything*.  His nicknamed was Bull Johnson.

- Life in Texas was a nightmare before electricity.  The businesses and politicians that actively withheld electricity from rural Texas towns were literally sentencing people to death.  The soil in Texas was a mean SOB too.  As was the weather.  Pretty much everything was stacked against you.  If you have a time machine, do not ever go to Texas pre 1950.



It will be a few months before I crack open the next volume in the series, but not for lack of interest.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on September 18, 2015, 10:52:13 AM
Great North Road, Peter F. Hamilton.  Pretty good SF detective/mystery story.

And, two weeks after finishing it, I'm still thinking about this book.  It is rising in my estimation even more.  Recommended.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: brilligtove on September 18, 2015, 11:01:22 PM
Does Audible count?

I just listened to the entire Kitty Norille series (http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Kitty-and-The-Midnight-Hour-Audiobook/B002UZX7FS/ref=a_series_c2_1_saTtl?ie=UTF8&pf_rd_r=1C4M323P877QERQTJNMX&pf_rd_m=A2ZO8JX97D5MN9&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_i=series-detail&pf_rd_p=1374482202&pf_rd_s=center-2) (avg 4 stars from me). There are 14 books, with 12 told from the perspective of Kitty. The tale is about a young woman who is a werewolf, in a world with vampires, faerie, and many other supernatural critters. The key: she's a late night radio host, who comes out a a lycanthrope - the first public supernatural person in the world.

These are not deep stories, but they are enjoyable and well read. I particularly enjoyed the ongoing transformation of Kitty from a super-sub passive victim into one of the most influential and important people in the world.



John Scalzi's latest effort read by Wil Wheaton is The Android's Dream (http://www.audible.com/pd/The-Androids-Dream-Part-1-Audiobook/B004FGDVUG). This continues a streak of hilariously wonky sci-fi read by an excellent voice actor. Pretty much I buy it if Scalzi or Wheaton have their names on it. Hard to explain, and 5/5 of fun.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: starnado on September 19, 2015, 03:19:35 AM
I am listening to The Android's Dream right now too. Scalzi is a lot of fun and boy, I could listen to Will Wheaton all night.

I just finished Agent To The Stars by Mr Scalzi, also read by Will Wheaton. Very good indeed, 4/5. What more description do they need than "hilariously wonky sci-fi" which is entirely apt.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: brilligtove on September 19, 2015, 09:28:35 AM
John Hodgman is a wonderful narrator too. Year Zero has a Scalzian vibe. Very very funny.

I haven't read the Vowell books he is involved in, but the others are great.

http://www.audible.com/search?searchNarrator=John+Hodgman
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on September 19, 2015, 05:42:49 PM
I just reread "Fooled by Randomness", Taleb.  Great read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Desert Fox on September 29, 2015, 02:44:08 PM
Oath of Swords by David Weber 8/10
Just reread it. Turns a lot of ideas on its ear including what is in effect an Ogre Paladin.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Gerbig on September 29, 2015, 06:07:02 PM
Just read the "Thanos Quest" where the mad titan Thanos collects the Infinity stones, and the infinity gauntlet story line...

The leadup was excellent, the payoff, not so much
(click to show/hide)
.
It was great, but the ending felt like they wrote themselves into a corner and didnt know how to get out.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: brilligtove on September 29, 2015, 11:44:36 PM
Torjan Horse: A Jeff Aiken Novel (Book 2)

4/5 overall.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on September 30, 2015, 08:24:28 AM
Dataclysm:Who We Are - 7/10
Very interesting book about what can be mined from anonymous data and what it can tell us about society as a whole.


The Last Girlfriend On Earth- 9.5/10
The inspiration for the tv show Man Seeking Woman, this is a series of surreal and hilarious short stories that paint a picture of how modern men relate to women from their own perspective.
One story is just the proposal by a male astronaut to conduct a sexual experiment in space and how he dances around the fact that there is just him and a female astronaut on board the ISS.
Another is about an Alice in Wonderland style talking animal who ruins his friendship with his human female friend by trying to kiss her.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: brilligtove on September 30, 2015, 08:08:00 PM
The Way station (Simak) 8/10

Very creative and hopeful, with striking phrasing and narration.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Vay on October 02, 2015, 11:35:42 AM
Just re-read Oreskes' Merchants of Doubt.

9/10... must read for skeptics, if you wanna really find out what an on-purpose, collaborative mind-fuck looks like. 

They made a documentary film out of it recently; am curious to see that.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Ah.hell on October 02, 2015, 01:47:22 PM
Currently listening to the latest Dresden files book.   Its always been a bit of a guilty pleasure but the seem to be getting worse and worse.  I think he suffers from the same problem that super heroes often due.  They keep having to ratchet up the threat in order to create tension.   When you start somewhere around world shattering, it doesn't leave that much room for greater threats.  He also can't introduce a new female character without the lead characters inner monologue regarding controlling his urges.  Its tedious and I can't empathize.  After about the early 20s, if you're inner monologue when meeting a new coworker or potential deadly threat is more than, "she's hot", you've got a problem.  The lead is also more an more of a heroic Mary Sue.  I'm pretty sure Butcher has been telling himself the reason he can't get laid is because of his own chivalry and not because he's a weird creeper since he was 13.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Desert Fox on October 02, 2015, 02:37:06 PM
I have seen that with a number of authors I really like. . . .You like the first few books but after a while there is just too much. Maybe there is a general rule that after about five books (maybe eight) on one character, time to move on. I loved Honor Harrington but I would say that maybe Weber should just have ended the story with Haven suing for peace after their second revolution.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on October 02, 2015, 06:29:28 PM
Just re-read Oreskes' Merchants of Doubt.

9/10... must read for skeptics, if you wanna really find out what an on-purpose, collaborative mind-fuck looks like. 

They made a documentary film out of it recently; am curious to see that.

I was looking over my reading selections for the past several years recently wondering "what have I read that fundamentally changed how I thought about something?"  This book was one of the few qualifiers. 

What truly frightens me is that because the tactics of doubt-mongering covered in the book are so effective, we will undoubtedly see them again in the future.  It is unbelievable how many seemingly scientifically literate people fall for this shit, because it is the same song and dance every single time.  I'm also continuously amazed at how many people working for fossil fuel companies, tobacco companies, and right wing think tanks are completely oblivious to the history of their own institutions.  Two weeks ago I heard an Exxon executive on NPR that really didn't understand his own company's past.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Vay on October 02, 2015, 11:49:28 PM
Just re-read Oreskes' Merchants of Doubt.

9/10... must read for skeptics, if you wanna really find out what an on-purpose, collaborative mind-fuck looks like. 

They made a documentary film out of it recently; am curious to see that.

I was looking over my reading selections for the past several years recently wondering "what have I read that fundamentally changed how I thought about something?"  This book was one of the few qualifiers. 

What truly frightens me is that because the tactics of doubt-mongering covered in the book are so effective, we will undoubtedly see them again in the future.  It is unbelievable how many seemingly scientifically literate people fall for this shit, because it is the same song and dance every single time.  I'm also continuously amazed at how many people working for fossil fuel companies, tobacco companies, and right wing think tanks are completely oblivious to the history of their own institutions.  Two weeks ago I heard an Exxon executive on NPR that really didn't understand his own company's past.

Hell yeah they are effective.  It just amazes me how much of their progeny I still see roaming the world.  Recently I posted an article about Mike Adams/Natural News coming out as AGW deniers, and there a bunch of it was, again.  There's an argument I've been involved in at a Taiwan expet forum for years, and my main opponent is a guy who must be S. Fred Singer's Sith apprentice.  Practically all his stuff are just the same denialist PR tricks that are so meticulously laid out in this book.  Just the other day, the issue of "95% confidence levels" came up; that's straight outta the second-hand cigarette smoke wars, and I quoted to him from Merchants of Doubt, verbatim.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on October 12, 2015, 01:11:48 PM
Ready Player One -9.75/10
I docked it 0.25% because the two Japanese characters were not as well written as the others.
Most fun and gripping book Ive read in ages. Im both excited for the movie and terrified it will get mucked up.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on October 13, 2015, 10:08:13 AM
Revelation Space, Alastair Reynolds.  Solid SF, beginning of a longer setting.

Had some trouble getting in to it - it took me about 2 weeks to listen to the first third of it, but once it got going I couldn't put it down, finished the last 2/3 in about 5 days.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: starnado on October 13, 2015, 10:25:06 AM
Revelation Space, Alastair Reynolds.  Solid SF, beginning of a longer setting.

Had some trouble getting in to it - it took me about 2 weeks to listen to the first third of it, but once it got going I couldn't put it down, finished the last 2/3 in about 5 days.

Are you going through my bookcase?  :D

I enjoyed Revelation Space, but I would say the same that you did - it took a while for me to get into it. His other books in the same world are also good.

I am currently listening to Peter F Hamilton "Great North Road" following your recommendation and I can see why you liked it - a whodunnit based on oil trading? Interstellar biofuel markets and unknown killer aliens? Space marines (of a type)? Quite gripping.

Have you listened to or read his 'Night's Dawn' works? an interesting mix of horror and SF.

How about Stephen Baxter? He has some big ideas but occasionally flimsy characters (Except for the mammoths in his Mammoth Trilogy - great characters).

I always had a soft spot for Dan Simmons' 'Hyperion Cantos'. Full of woo - similar woo to Enders Game (love makes the world go round, etc) - but a bloody good read and The Shrike is a fucking wicked character.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on October 22, 2015, 03:44:12 PM
Redshirts 10/10
Nicely short, very smartly written, peels back layers as it progresses and is more a novel about bad writing than anything else.
The basic premise is- A bunch of redshirts on a starship start to look at the data for away missions and realise they are all living on borrowed time.
But its so much more.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Grimner on October 23, 2015, 03:12:54 AM
The girl with all the gifts - M. R. Carey
Great twist on a certain end-of-the-world scenario. For some reason, I think England makes an excellent background for everything coming apart.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on October 24, 2015, 01:25:38 PM
The System of the World by Neal Stephenson

End of the Baroque Cycle.   :'(  Goobye 17th century England.  It seems like just yesterday you were a stranger to me, and just when I was starting to grow fond of you the story is over and I'm forced to return to the present.

Overall I didn't think this one was quite as strong as The Confusion or Quicksilver.  As crucial as his absence was to the plot, I would have liked to see a bit more of my favorite character getting into trouble and barely escaping alive.  The one thing that I thought this novel did much better than the previous two was blurring the lines between fact and fiction.  I've now permanently assigned personality characteristics and life events to Isaac Newton, Gottfried Leibniz, and Queens Sophie/Caroline that are almost certainly fabrications, because they dovetail so well with the actual biographies of these figures.  Stephenson is also really good at forcing you to respect the process and history behind ideas that would otherwise be mocked by scientifically literate people - alchemy, fringe religious sects, the rules of English royalty, etc.  The entire concept of modern economics has now finally become interesting to me thanks to this book, although I realize I'm about 300 years behind.

8/10 for this one, 9/10 for the Baroque Cycle as a whole. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on October 25, 2015, 06:43:14 AM
Has anyone read Haunted by Chuck Pahla...the guy who wrote Fight Club?
Im half way through and really not enjoying it. Its a series of short stories and poems tied together by a narrative of a bunch of strangers locked in a house and forced to write for three months.
The stories have no distinct voices and each is just really an excuse to be as imaginatively disgusting as possible. Im really not enjoying it despite having loved Fight Club, Choke and Non Fiction.
Should I keep going? Because as of now it feels like a waste of my time.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: wastrel on October 25, 2015, 01:23:15 PM
Haunted was decidedly meh.  You can stop.

Fight Club is a gem, and Choke.  Rant is awesome, even better as an audio book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on October 25, 2015, 02:05:08 PM
Haunted was decidedly meh.  You can stop.

Fight Club is a gem, and Choke.  Rant is awesome, even better as an audio book.
Cheers! I have plenty of his other books on my pile.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on October 25, 2015, 08:44:59 PM
Lullaby was OK as well, although I think by that point Pahlianiuk was beginning to wear out the "and then society crashed and burned" meme.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on October 26, 2015, 08:37:02 AM
Haunted does have one great short story about a reflexologist who starts charging for massage stimulated orgasms and then moves into the shady world of using the power of alt med for assassinations!
It reminded me of Randis sleeping pill demonstration.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: EvilNick on November 05, 2015, 09:55:43 AM
Fatale collection 4. 

This story gets more engrossing as it expands on the primary character of Josephine and those hunting for her and trapped under her spell.

Need to get the 5th book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Campanella on November 21, 2015, 03:37:34 AM
Stella Fegellius by H. Rider Haggard, 1904. "The most prominent man in the book, Morris Monk, is a dreamy philosopher in his first manhood, the inventor of the aerophone which is a form of wireless telephone, enabling twin spirits to converse though separated by considerable distance and unattached by any sort of tangible or material medium."
Love Haggard. This is one of the best. Bit on the late-Victorian side for many, but get past it!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on November 23, 2015, 09:16:46 AM
Carter & Lovecraft (http://www.amazon.com/Carter-Lovecraft-Jonathan-L-Howard/dp/1250060893) by Jonathon L. Howard

9/10

I'm at the point where if Jonathon Howard wrote the ingredients for a soup can I'd read it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on November 23, 2015, 12:23:19 PM
The Accidental Guerrilla by David Kilcullen  8/10
Really well written book about counter insurgency taking case studies from the authors vast personal experience, the book explains point by point the factors that produce insurgents and the best practice counter insurgency policies that have been most effective, breaking down areas where CI operations have failed.
Anyone who is familiar with counter insurgency theory at all is unlikely to find anything new in this book (because what works has been known for so long) but the case studies themselves are fascinating and full of really great details and things I was unaware of about many of the cultures involved.
He focuses on european extremism and why current policies for dealing with it really suck, he also talks about the thai insurgency (whose origins seem like a more clumsy but very similar situation to Frances recent and current policies) and the insurgency of East Timor where militants mobilised under a catholic shared identity despite a general lack of interest in catholic doctrine before and since the emergency. (And also kind of during it.)
Some criticisms I might make would be:
Many of Kilcullens anecdotes use somewhat elaborate prose that seems like it has an eye on NYT reviewers. Thats fine, I found it dull, many might like it, but it seems likey to alienate and turn off the people I think would most benefit from reading this book- Soldiers on the pointy end of CI policies understanding better what their actual job is and the bulk of the voting public whose view of what the current problems are, and solutions ought to be, seem pretty out of touch with best practice recommendations.
The narrator on audible was excellent and did a great job with pronouncing words from multiple languages, but an aussie accent might have been nice to help remind me that this was coming from the perspective of an Australian writer/observer as opposed to an American. It made some of the statements sound a little odd.

All in all, I really recommend this book along with The War of the Flea, which is a book on cold war insurgencies with remarkably similar conclusions and observations. A really short book too if I recall, less than 150 pages.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on December 08, 2015, 11:35:56 AM
Home with nothing to do for today, so I'll fire off a few reviews.

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World   by Rachel Swaby - 6/10
I really wanted to like this book.  Both the theme and format closely match the SGU "Forgotten Superheros of Science" segments which I enjoy.  Unfortunately mini-bios make for a pretty boring book when you cram them all together.  All the individual traits of famous women kind of blur together and your left with the sense that someone did something cool somewhere 80 years ago and some dude was dismissive of them.  The intro to the book suggested you read one bio a week.  That's probably the best way to digest the material, perhaps with the occasional with the occasional trip to Google to find out more about your favorite scientists.

Also loses a point for the cardinal sin of saying an entomologist was studying BUGS.  Tsk, tsk.



Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving - 6/10
Kind of torn on rating this one as well.  If you're a fan of Irving's writing style I suspect this is right up your alley.  Characters are very memorable, and the overall plot of the book is solid.  However there are parts, particularly toward the end that are just a huge WTF.  Not a huge spoiler, but ghosts show up out of the blue in one chapter of this book.  And ghosts that serve no actual plot point as far as I could tell.  While there's already one quasi-mystical aspect established early on in the book, this seemed like a complete shark jump to me.  There's a lot of homages to Irving's previous works, which I suppose some people appreciate.  Personally I don't need to be reminded every 30 minutes that "hey guys, I've written other books about orphans and sex and circuses, remember?"



Mother Night  by Kurt Vonnegut - 9/10
One of Vonnegut's best.  I can't recall anything else I've read about Nazis and white supremacists that was both subtle and touching.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on December 08, 2015, 02:44:40 PM
Mother Night is IMO Vonnegut's best work and an 11/10 at least.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Grimner on December 20, 2015, 04:29:56 PM
The Bible unearthed - Isreal Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman   - probably pretty good.

Good and accesible read that shows the constrast between reading the Bible for history contra digging up actual history. I find that the real history is much more facinating than the Bible history which seems to "forget" stuff when reality gets convinient.
Excellent example of what happens when the gnat thinks it has a god on its side and desides to get cozy with the Egyptians while getting snotty with the 500 pound Assyrian gorilla.

And I bet Sennacherib always paid his debts in full and with interest.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Ah.hell on December 21, 2015, 01:06:23 PM
Catch 22, meh.  I find the prose style and the protagonist annoying.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Louie on December 21, 2015, 02:39:11 PM
Catch 22, meh.  I find the prose style and the protagonist annoying.

Consider yourself uninvited from my Christmas party.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Ambious on December 21, 2015, 05:11:57 PM
Catch 22, meh.  I find the prose style and the protagonist annoying.
I was lucky enough to read it in bootcamp.
Named my rifle Yossarian.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Redamare on December 21, 2015, 11:07:04 PM
I have not read that book. I named my rifle "Sasha".
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on December 25, 2015, 11:55:28 AM
Rather than making a separate thread, I thought I'd put all my "Best of 2015" books in here:

10/10 books I read this year:
Path Between the Seas by David McCullough
Spillover by David Quammen
Wonderful Life by Steven Jay Gould - ironically one of the best science books I've ever read BECAUSE it has information that was ultimately shown to be incorrect
Path to Power by Robert Caro

Favorite fiction
the entire Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson
Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
Sandman series, particularly parts 2 and 9 by Neil Gaiman

Managed to read a lot of newly published non-fiction, but nothing that was particularly memorable. Big Science by Michael Hiltzik is worth checking out.  I noticed that the two books I won in free giveways magically managed to crack everyone's top 10 lists (Dead Wake and Wright Brothers), which has made me a bit more cynical about the world of book publishing and marketing.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on December 25, 2015, 11:59:46 AM
Meh. Dead Wake is also by the guy who wrote the excellent Devil in the White City and is a pretty awesome book in its own right. Even getting around the issues you had with it (FWIW I paid full price for it when it came out) I think it's a good book of its type (popular history) with a good pedigree and is not out of place at all on lists like these.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on December 25, 2015, 01:09:54 PM
Meh. Dead Wake is also by the guy who wrote the excellent Devil in the White City and is a pretty awesome book in its own right. Even getting around the issues you had with it (FWIW I paid full price for it when it came out) I think it's a good book of its type (popular history) with a good pedigree and is not out of place at all on lists like these.
Devil in White City was very good. Dead Wake was ok
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on December 25, 2015, 11:56:45 PM
Meh. Dead Wake is also by the guy who wrote the excellent Devil in the White City and is a pretty awesome book in its own right. Even getting around the issues you had with it (FWIW I paid full price for it when it came out) I think it's a good book of its type (popular history) with a good pedigree and is not out of place at all on lists like these.

Oh I enjoyed it.  What was funny is that I got a pre-release copy from a Goodreads giveaway, which literally had a media publicity outline included on the last page of the book.  I suppose people that regularly review books already know this, but it's crazy how much resources major publishers dump into popular authors.  If you're a nobody that wrote a phenomenal book the odds are massively stacked against you, both in terms of sales and critical acclaim.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on December 26, 2015, 09:03:37 AM
Meh. Dead Wake is also by the guy who wrote the excellent Devil in the White City and is a pretty awesome book in its own right. Even getting around the issues you had with it (FWIW I paid full price for it when it came out) I think it's a good book of its type (popular history) with a good pedigree and is not out of place at all on lists like these.

Oh I enjoyed it.  What was funny is that I got a pre-release copy from a Goodreads giveaway, which literally had a media publicity outline included on the last page of the book.  I suppose people that regularly review books already know this, but it's crazy how much resources major publishers dump into popular authors.  If you're a nobody that wrote a phenomenal book the odds are massively stacked against you, both in terms of sales and critical acclaim.
A guy I know explained this to me. He wrote a pretty awesome book called The Berlin Fraternity. It's about 10 times better than a lot of the promoted crap out there and he is struggling to get the book into the hands of the public.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Smooth on December 27, 2015, 08:56:24 AM
The System of the World by Neal Stephenson

End of the Baroque Cycle.   :'(  Goobye 17th century England.  It seems like just yesterday you were a stranger to me, and just when I was starting to grow fond of you the story is over and I'm forced to return to the present.

Overall I didn't think this one was quite as strong as The Confusion or Quicksilver.  As crucial as his absence was to the plot, I would have liked to see a bit more of my favorite character getting into trouble and barely escaping alive.  The one thing that I thought this novel did much better than the previous two was blurring the lines between fact and fiction.  I've now permanently assigned personality characteristics and life events to Isaac Newton, Gottfried Leibniz, and Queens Sophie/Caroline that are almost certainly fabrications, because they dovetail so well with the actual biographies of these figures.  Stephenson is also really good at forcing you to respect the process and history behind ideas that would otherwise be mocked by scientifically literate people - alchemy, fringe religious sects, the rules of English royalty, etc.  The entire concept of modern economics has now finally become interesting to me thanks to this book, although I realize I'm about 300 years behind.

8/10 for this one, 9/10 for the Baroque Cycle as a whole.

I loved this series! Some of the best reading in many many years!  Took over a year to finish them!  Worth every page... The only problem is there are so few people who would read something 4600 pages long for pleasure...

I've been reading First Man of Rome series, which is also epically long and wonderful. It's a great take on Rome before the over-done histories of the last Caesars...

http://www.amazon.com/The-First-Man-Rome-Masters/dp/0061582417
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on January 03, 2016, 06:56:31 PM
Finished the "main" Sandman storyline (books 1-10) by Neil Gaiman.  Most of the individual books I gave an 8 or 9/10, so I guess 8.5/10 overall?  I don't really know how to judge quality of graphic novels.

As with American Gods, I'm surprised how successfully Gaiman can cram dozens of different mythologies into a single, coherent, evolving storyline.  I also liked how the series dovetailed with the little bit of the DC universe I'm aware of - "The Wake" had a direct reference to my all-time favorite Swamp Thing issue where
(click to show/hide)
.  I can't count how many awesome characters there were - The Corinthian, Merv, the Furies, Loki, Hob Gadling, Delerium, and even Barbie.

I'll wait a few months before reading the fill-in books and the prelude.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Guillermo on January 05, 2016, 08:13:34 AM
Finished the "main" Sandman storyline (books 1-10) by Neil Gaiman.  Most of the individual books I gave an 8 or 9/10, so I guess 8.5/10 overall?  I don't really know how to judge quality of graphic novels.

As with American Gods, I'm surprised how successfully Gaiman can cram dozens of different mythologies into a single, coherent, evolving storyline.  I also liked how the series dovetailed with the little bit of the DC universe I'm aware of - "The Wake" had a direct reference to my all-time favorite Swamp Thing issue where
(click to show/hide)
.  I can't count how many awesome characters there were - The Corinthian, Merv, the Furies, Loki, Hob Gadling, Delerium, and even Barbie.

I'll wait a few months before reading the fill-in books and the prelude.
You should start with the books that star Death. I think there are two graphic Novels with her as the focus character. She is my favorite character in the series for a reason.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Guillermo on January 05, 2016, 08:18:55 AM
That said, I recently finished American Gods. I was so thrilled with this series, I utterly enjoyed it. It reminded me of Sandman so much and it feels like a continuum. The concept of Gods was so well established that I might actually believe that if anything of Gods are real, it would have played out like that.

9/10. I think that the Pacing dropped towards the end a bit.

It's been about 10 years since my second reading of Sandman, I guess it's time to read it again.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Guillermo on January 06, 2016, 07:27:11 AM
A quick six hour Robert Heinlein "The Rolling Stone" 7/10. I found it very enjoyable.

One interesting thing I've awkwardly noticed in reading a few Heinlein books and some other 50-70 Sci Fi books is how dated they feel. Seriusly, I can live by the idea of what the authors imagine for future technology in communications, Transportation and books/media. But the thing that really stands out, and hits me straight out of the stories is that all of the calculations are done manually, on paper. Positioning or trajectories are done by dead reckoning. It's not something I blame the authors, but this sort of things are so taken for granted now with computers and simple calculators or GPS devices that it dawns on me that the Golden age of Sci Fi has become outdated. Still worth reading though, and I'm trudging through the libraries to get as much reading as I can from them.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on January 06, 2016, 01:01:01 PM
A reread of "Missing Mcrobes" (Blaser) . Even better the second time around.  Every thinking person should read this.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Gerbig on January 06, 2016, 07:27:38 PM
Starting off on the Song of Ice and Fire book series.

Hopefully when im done Winds of Winter will be released.

GO GEORGE GO
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on January 07, 2016, 07:48:36 PM


Hopefully when im done Winds of Winter will be released.


Ha! Youre cute;-)

Anyone who enjoyed The Sandman should check out Lucifer.
Same character, same continuity, different writer. Really decent! It sags a bit before the last act but as a whole its worth reading, if a little long.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Gerbig on January 07, 2016, 08:02:35 PM
If I read ten words a day, that should be just long enough.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on January 25, 2016, 06:04:41 PM
"Atmosphere of Hope", Tim Flannery.  9/10.  Good read, some new information.  Rather Australia-centric.  Could have been "Atmosphere of Doom"; Tim wasn't very optimistic.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on January 26, 2016, 12:54:27 PM
Re-re-re-listening to Fellowship of the Ring, while I contemplate turning my Audible subscription back on.  Enjoying picking out bits of text that were lifted out of the book and re-inserted in the movies in different contexts.  Song lyrics from the Shire that end up in Merry and Pippin's jig in Edoras or in Pippin's sad dinnertime song in Minas Tirith.  Bombadil riffs that move over to Treebeard.  That sort of thing.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on January 26, 2016, 02:30:14 PM
"Atmosphere of Hope", Tim Flannery.  9/10.  Good read, some new information.  Rather Australia-centric.  Could have been "Atmosphere of Doom"; Tim wasn't very optimistic.
(http://www.tradingcarddb.com/Images/Cards/Baseball/85/85-579Fr.jpg)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on January 26, 2016, 03:47:43 PM
"Atmosphere of Hope", Tim Flannery.  9/10.  Good read, some new information.  Rather Australia-centric.  Could have been "Atmosphere of Doom"; Tim wasn't very optimistic.
(http://www.tradingcarddb.com/Images/Cards/Baseball/85/85-579Fr.jpg)

I suppose I should have said "Dr Tim Flannery", Australian of he year 2007.  A relatively common name.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 27, 2016, 10:39:50 PM
I haven't quite finished it, but "Between The World And Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates is an amazingly powerful (though short) read. If you're interested in understanding the perspective of a black man from the US, you should read this. If you're interested in racial issues in the US, you should also read this. Just read it. Do it now. Stop everything and read this book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on January 27, 2016, 11:00:11 PM
I haven't quite finished it, but "Between The World And Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates is an amazingly powerful (though short) read. If you're interested in understanding the perspective of a black man from the US, you should read this. If you're interested in racial issues in the US, you should also read this. Just read it. Do it now. Stop everything and read this book.

Panda stop looking over my shoulder!  I read it over the weekend.

Probably worth reading for the style alone.  DAMN, Coates is a good writer.  Plus the whole cops-killing-black-people thing is kind of something we should maybe care about???
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 27, 2016, 11:04:35 PM
I haven't quite finished it, but "Between The World And Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates is an amazingly powerful (though short) read. If you're interested in understanding the perspective of a black man from the US, you should read this. If you're interested in racial issues in the US, you should also read this. Just read it. Do it now. Stop everything and read this book.

Panda stop looking over my shoulder!  I read it over the weekend.

Probably worth reading for the style alone.  DAMN, Coates is a good writer.  Plus the whole cops-killing-black-people thing is kind of something we should maybe care about???
He is a masterful writer, absolutely. And is writing about an incredibly important topic.

Plus I bought it with a gift card my racist aunt gave me, so it has an extra special place in my heart.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on January 27, 2016, 11:23:46 PM
I haven't quite finished it, but "Between The World And Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates is an amazingly powerful (though short) read. If you're interested in understanding the perspective of a black man from the US, you should read this. If you're interested in racial issues in the US, you should also read this. Just read it. Do it now. Stop everything and read this book.

I heard that he's going to be writing Black Panther comics for Marvel coming up soon.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 28, 2016, 09:50:51 AM
I haven't quite finished it, but "Between The World And Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates is an amazingly powerful (though short) read. If you're interested in understanding the perspective of a black man from the US, you should read this. If you're interested in racial issues in the US, you should also read this. Just read it. Do it now. Stop everything and read this book.

I heard that he's going to be writing Black Panther comics for Marvel coming up soon.
He is! I'm considering picking it up when it happens. He's just such a great writer.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on January 28, 2016, 05:17:30 PM
I haven't quite finished it, but "Between The World And Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates is an amazingly powerful (though short) read. If you're interested in understanding the perspective of a black man from the US, you should read this. If you're interested in racial issues in the US, you should also read this. Just read it. Do it now. Stop everything and read this book.

I heard that he's going to be writing Black Panther comics for Marvel coming up soon.

That's awesome!!

Thanks for the recc panda, I'll definitely add that to my list.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on January 28, 2016, 09:21:22 PM
I haven't quite finished it, but "Between The World And Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates is an amazingly powerful (though short) read. If you're interested in understanding the perspective of a black man from the US, you should read this. If you're interested in racial issues in the US, you should also read this. Just read it. Do it now. Stop everything and read this book.

I heard that he's going to be writing Black Panther comics for Marvel coming up soon.

That's awesome!!

Thanks for the recc panda, I'll definitely add that to my list.
I'm also on Goodreads, if you want to friend me there. *looks up profile* I think this works? https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/189205-pandanator

I'm reading like 5 books right now, it's ridiculous. I'm ridiculous.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: brilligtove on January 29, 2016, 12:29:02 AM
I'm also on Goodreads, if you want to friend me there. *looks up profile* I think this works? https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/189205-pandanator

I'm reading like 5 books right now, it's ridiculous. I'm ridiculous.

I looked up ridiculous on google. I assume you see yourself something like this:

(http://0.media.collegehumor.cvcdn.com/53/31/b0d93b2fdcbce0ea1de289b6945b1219.jpg)

and you may have been expecting a reaction like this:

(http://www.jeannemelanson.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/ridiculous2.gif)

Instead, you get this:

(http://aplus.com/articles/7680/photo?t=1422291417)

"I respect that level of commitment to the ridiculous."
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on January 30, 2016, 07:14:05 PM
I'm having a hell of a time getting through Cryptonomicon and Thinking Fast and Slow at the same time. What the hell was I thinking?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on January 30, 2016, 09:45:05 PM
I'm having a hell of a time getting through Cryptonomicon and Thinking Fast and Slow at the same time. What the hell was I thinking?

I used to always read a fiction and non-fiction book at the same time until I fell into a similar trap.  The trick is to have one long, challenging book underway and switch to a short, fast-paced one whenever you get stuck.  I'm currently working on Better Angels of Our Nature and browsing Thing Explainer when I get bored.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: SQ the ΣΛ/IGMд on January 31, 2016, 09:44:20 AM
I just read a cute little book I got for Christmas called WTF, Evolution?!: A Theory of Unintelligible Design by Mara Grunbaum

It's a real fun read. The author is interviewing evolution and asks it about certain creatures. Evolution's responses are priceless.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Ah.hell on February 01, 2016, 12:01:25 PM
I just read a cute little book I got for Christmas called WTF, Evolution?!: A Theory of Unintelligible Design by Mara Grunbaum

It's a real fun read. The author is interviewing evolution and asks it about certain creatures. Evolution's responses are priceless.
Isn't that a blog of some kind, I'm pretty sure I've seen some examples on the internet.

Yep, there it is:
http://wtfevolution.tumblr.com/

Often quite funny.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on February 02, 2016, 02:51:38 AM
"Misguided Medicine", Colin Champ.  10/10 for content, 7/10 for literally performance.  He's an oncologist, not a writer.  Great short read.  Hundreds of citations, but one would need to be in a medical institution to read the content of the studies, I reckon. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Desert Fox on February 03, 2016, 03:20:53 AM
Just reread "Born to Run" by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon
Still is a fun book to read with fast cars, elves, and adventure.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on February 03, 2016, 04:13:41 PM
I'm having a hell of a time getting through Cryptonomicon and Thinking Fast and Slow at the same time. What the hell was I thinking?

I used to always read a fiction and non-fiction book at the same time until I fell into a similar trap.  The trick is to have one long, challenging book underway and switch to a short, fast-paced one whenever you get stuck.  I'm currently working on Better Angels of Our Nature and browsing Thing Explainer when I get bored.

I use this strategy, too. I'm reading Will Durant's Story of Philosophy, which is as interesting as it is dense. I'm also reading Ender's Shadow, which is the 4th shorter book I've read since starting the Durant.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: RumbleFishTwist on February 03, 2016, 10:18:13 PM
I'm almost done with book 15 of 19 in Tim Dorsey's Serge Storms series.
I've been through them all on audio and they are great.  I listen at work a lot and laugh my ass off.
Can't recommend enough.  I've heard them describes as a cross between Hunter S Thompson, Douglas Adams, and the film, Idiocracy.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on February 04, 2016, 07:08:42 AM
I'm almost done with book 15 of 19 in Tim Dorsey's Serge Storms series.
I've been through them all on audio and they are great.  I listen at work a lot and laugh my ass off.
Can't recommend enough.  I've heard them describes as a cross between Hunter S Thompson, Douglas Adams, and the film, Idiocracy.

My word what a combination!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on February 05, 2016, 12:10:41 PM
After forgetting about it and coming back to it, I read Book 2 of the Witcher series. Even though they're written by a Polish guy and there's a bit of a language barrier, the prose, as clunky as it can be, is still about 5 times better than most of the crap that passes for fantasy fiction nowadays. And the story is neat as well. I'd call it dark, and I think the flavor is certainly darker than, say, Terry Brooks, but it's not *quite* as dark as GRR Martin. I mean, in the background there are kings and stuff who all behave as horribly as the people in GoT do, and on that level the "nice guys" really do get destroyed for the most part, but the titular character of the series is a guy who is able to act on his own principles and isn't killed off halfway through the first book for doing so. It's also more fantasy than alternate medieval history the way GoT is (I mean, GoT does have dragons eventually I guess (SPOILER ALERT) but magic isn't a big part of that world) but it manages to include magic and elves and crap without making the whole enterprise seem light-hearted and whimsical.

By the way, the 0th book in the series (the "first book" isn't really necessary to understand the series of novels that follows) is a lot of fun to read; rather than one big novel it's a series of short stories involving the main character as he takes on contracts to slay monsters (that's kind of what he does for a living) and in the process gets himself into the middle of a few re-thought-out fairy tales.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Desert Fox on February 05, 2016, 06:30:06 PM
Ark Royal by Christopher Nuttall
Fair, not great. Some characters I did like, others seemed transparent.

Edit: If I was to make a comparison, not as good as Weber's books or the Lost Fleet.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on February 06, 2016, 07:53:44 PM
Thing Explainer  by Randall Munroe - One more than eight / ten
Inspired by XKCD's "Up Goer Five", Thing Explainer offers a snapshot of various different engineering contraptions and scientific ideas in the thousand most common words in English.  The concept gets old after a while, but there's enough cool factoids packed into the book to keep things interesting.  I particularly liked the descriptions of a cell, under the hood of an automobile, and a camera.  You MUST read the actual physical book instead of on an e-reader in order to enjoy the giant fold-outs. 


Better Angels of Our Nature   by Steven Pinker - 9/10
So looking at other reviews this book is apparently a bit controversial among actual anthropologists, historians, and statisticians (I was reminded that I wanted to read it after seeing a flare-up between Pinker and Nassim Taleb on Twitter).  The central premise of the book is something that shouldn't be remotely controversial - the world we live in today is much less violent than the world of 50, 500, or 5000 years ago, in almost any conceivable ways of measuring violence.  The two big questions are why this decline has occurred, and whether we can make sensible predictions about the future of human conflicts.  I'm not sure if Pinker sufficiently answers either of these questions, but I liked seeing all the different ways we can investigate them, and thinking about how the various methods of investigation can lead us astray if we aren't careful. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: EvilNick on February 09, 2016, 09:49:31 AM
The Transformers collection volume 1 from IDW comics.

What?  It's still a book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on February 09, 2016, 01:15:12 PM
Nearly done with Cryptonomicon...want to freaking cry/10

So good, but sooo much. Soo f'n much!!!!

Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Dan I on February 09, 2016, 02:02:48 PM
Bands of Mourning
Mistborn: Secret History

AMAZING!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: superdave on February 17, 2016, 01:10:18 PM
The first Book of the Magicians 7,

What a weird book man.  It has tons of problems.  The pacing is terrible, there's no real plot.  the main character is a jerk and everyone else except for the main love interest is a cardboard cutout.  But despite that, I liked it.  The book is more of a series of stories rather than a central narrative, and like any series, the sections are kind of hit or miss.  When they hit, they are amazing, when they miss, they are boring as anything. 

More than anything this book is about the ennui of being a 20 something hipster.  I think the exact same book could have been written with no fantasy elements whatsoever and would have been more or less than same. 

  The second one, 7.5
Solves one of the big gripes in that at least the plot of this book starts before page 375.  Really well thought through plot.  It has similar issues but they are not as bad this time around.   The plot is more coherent, the main character is a little more likable. The pacing is better.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on February 18, 2016, 02:25:28 PM
The first Book of the Magicians 7,

What a weird book man.  It has tons of problems.  The pacing is terrible, there's no real plot.  the main character is a jerk and everyone else except for the main love interest is a cardboard cutout.  But despite that, I liked it.  The book is more of a series of stories rather than a central narrative, and like any series, the sections are kind of hit or miss.  When they hit, they are amazing, when they miss, they are boring as anything. 

More than anything this book is about the ennui of being a 20 something hipster.  I think the exact same book could have been written with no fantasy elements whatsoever and would have been more or less than same. 

  The second one, 7.5
Solves one of the big gripes in that at least the plot of this book starts before page 375.  Really well thought through plot.  It has similar issues but they are not as bad this time around.   The plot is more coherent, the main character is a little more likable. The pacing is better.

I felt exactly the same way. My wife actually gave up on the first book and was like, "f*ck that Quinten dude, I hope he dies in fire". After I finished them all I encouraged her to go back and finish them. She was glad they got better.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on February 21, 2016, 01:26:24 PM
The Clockwork Universe by Edward Dolnick - 7/10
My interest in the Royal Society of London was piqued after reading Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, so I thought I'd find a nonfiction book on the subject.  Unfortunately between the Baroque Cycle, Big Bang by Simon Singh, and James Gleick's short biography of Newton, I had already been exposed to 95% of the information within this book.  No real revelations for people already aware of the creation of modern science in the 17th century.  One interesting philosophical point that is brought up is whether or not the religious fervor of Newton and Leibniz increased their devotion to studying the laws of nature.  It seems plausible that without an underlying belief in divine organization of the universe, many natural philosophers of the day would have thrown in the towel in their quests to identify precise mathematical laws to describe our world.  This book does have an excellent summary of the conceptual leap that was required to create calculus, so I guess if you were never satisfied with your high school calc class this is a good book to check out.

Heretics of Dune (book 5) by Frank Herbert - 9/10
Don't know why so many people complain about the latter Dune books being too political.  The Bene Gesserit were my favorite "race" since the first book, and I loved finally getting to see their obsessions and struggles play out.  The only downside with the book was that I thought I saw an amazing plot twist coming from a mile away, and that plot twist never happened.  :( 

I'll try to post a full review of the Dune series when I finish the last book.  (I'm not wasting my time with the Brian Herbert / Kevin Anderson novels)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: superdave on February 26, 2016, 11:24:29 AM
The first Book of the Magicians 7,

What a weird book man.  It has tons of problems.  The pacing is terrible, there's no real plot.  the main character is a jerk and everyone else except for the main love interest is a cardboard cutout.  But despite that, I liked it.  The book is more of a series of stories rather than a central narrative, and like any series, the sections are kind of hit or miss.  When they hit, they are amazing, when they miss, they are boring as anything. 

More than anything this book is about the ennui of being a 20 something hipster.  I think the exact same book could have been written with no fantasy elements whatsoever and would have been more or less than same. 

  The second one, 7.5
Solves one of the big gripes in that at least the plot of this book starts before page 375.  Really well thought through plot.  It has similar issues but they are not as bad this time around.   The plot is more coherent, the main character is a little more likable. The pacing is better.

I felt exactly the same way. My wife actually gave up on the first book and was like, "f*ck that Quinten dude, I hope he dies in fire". After I finished them all I encouraged her to go back and finish them. She was glad they got better.

I am about halfway through the last book now and I think that Quentin's Journey is actually sort of a meta commentary on heroes in books.

In real life, you don't go on a single magical quest and emerge as a fully formed adult.  Adulthood comes in gradually, with many fits and starts.  Quentin does seem to grow up, but it takes him a while.  And that's OK.  There is also a strong message in the book about how material goods and superficial things don't solve real depression and anxiety.  While this is an admirable message, it's hard to work into a really compelling story.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on February 26, 2016, 07:08:44 PM
A Wizard of Earthsea 7/10 (good, not perfect, would recommend)

I really liked it. I'm kinda sad it took me so long to get around to this series, but there are just so many books to read :(
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on March 06, 2016, 04:33:56 PM
"Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us", Michael Moss.  9/10.  The only downside to the content is his rather out of date knowledge on fats.  Otherwise, it's a great conspiracy ridden book that is, no doubt, true. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on March 06, 2016, 06:59:51 PM
"Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us", Michael Moss.  9/10.  The only downside to the content is his rather out of date knowledge on fats.  Otherwise, it's a great conspiracy ridden book that is, no doubt, true.

I just took a Sensory Evaluation course at University of California at Davis. There is a section on advertising claims and tricks as well as food additives and ingredient manipulation. Once you read it and recognize it, you can never unsee it. I go to the grocery story now with utter disdain for most food companies. I just buy whatever I want now.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on March 06, 2016, 08:31:05 PM
"Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us", Michael Moss.  9/10.  The only downside to the content is his rather out of date knowledge on fats.  Otherwise, it's a great conspiracy ridden book that is, no doubt, true.

I just took a Sensory Evaluation course at University of California at Davis. There is a section on advertising claims and tricks as well as food additives and ingredient manipulation. Once you read it and recognize it, you can never unsee it. I go to the grocery story now with utter disdain for most food companies. I just buy whatever I want now.

It's a shame.  Look at the state of health of people around the world.  The adverts, bliss point and pricing have worked a treat for the manufacturers.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on March 06, 2016, 09:01:36 PM
"Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us", Michael Moss.  9/10.  The only downside to the content is his rather out of date knowledge on fats.  Otherwise, it's a great conspiracy ridden book that is, no doubt, true.

I just took a Sensory Evaluation course at University of California at Davis. There is a section on advertising claims and tricks as well as food additives and ingredient manipulation. Once you read it and recognize it, you can never unsee it. I go to the grocery story now with utter disdain for most food companies. I just buy whatever I want now.

It's a shame.  Look at the state of health of people around the world.  The adverts, bliss point and pricing have worked a treat for the manufacturers.

Actually it's enabled manufacturers to make crappier, less nutritious products on the cheap and still sell volume for profit. Consumers have even forgotten how some products are really supposed to taste. Anyway, don't want to hijack the thread so maybe there's another thread about nutrition we can vent on.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on March 08, 2016, 01:40:06 AM
I finished Oryx and Crake yesterday. 9.5/10. It's super good. I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Tatyana on March 11, 2016, 09:29:52 AM
I finished Oryx and Crake yesterday. 9.5/10. It's super good. I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.

I really loved Oryx and Crake, although I must admit, the last of the three in the trilogy didn't seem as strong to me.

I think I have read most of Margaret Atwood's work, I think I might try 'The heart must go on' next.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Redamare on March 11, 2016, 09:54:52 AM
I enjoy Atwood. My wife and I read A Handmaid's Tale together when we were first dating. Love between Lit Nerds.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on March 11, 2016, 10:57:03 AM
Admittedly, Handmaid's Tale is about my least favorite Atwood novel, but I too am a big fan.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on March 15, 2016, 04:42:11 PM
I'm slowly working through all of Atwood's works that are available through my library. Edit: right after I finished Oryx and Crake, I was able to check out The Robber Bride and holy hell is that a fantastic work of fiction. It's just so good.

I recently finished a Charles de Lint novel, Moonheart I think it was called. It gets a really big "meh" out of ten. It barely held my attention, none of the characters were particularly interesting, and the story was barely compelling. Also, there were some really cliched tropes that set my teeth on edge, and the voice actor (I listened to the audiobook) was one of those who does Accents for the "foreign" characters, only he gave all of the Native/Indigenous characters these really weird almost accents, which made them sound like caricatures of Indigenous people rather than actual characters. It wasn't as bad as, say, Tonto-speech, but it was grating. And they were literally only in the book to provide spiritual guidance to the white people.

I'm also reading a YA series that's a sci-fi retelling of sorts of popular western/European fairy tales. It's not terrible, but all of the characters kind of behave like Distillation of Teenager. But I'm a sucker for retellings of myth and fairy tales, so I'm gonna keep reading them no matter how dreckish they are.

Next on my list are Son by Lois Lowry and Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K le Guin, so I'm pretty excited for those.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on March 15, 2016, 04:48:49 PM
I really need to re-read some of those le Guin books again.  Been so long I don't really remember them.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on March 15, 2016, 05:18:55 PM
"Primal Endurance", Mark Sisson and Brad Kearns.  8/10.  Some very interesting observations on endurance training; aerobic, resistance, and intervals.  There is a lot on diet and how to gain the ability to use one's own body fat as fuel during training and events.  That is something that doesn't happen unless one trains to make it happen.  there are some rather amazing anecdotal success stories about particular elite athletes that are using fat as fuel, like winning the California to Hawaii rowing race on a 70%  fat diet for 45 days.

Lots of good stuff but, I didn't think it was put together as well as it could have been.  I'll use it a bit as a reference book in the future.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: starnado on March 16, 2016, 05:43:55 AM
I'm slowly working through all of Atwood's works that are available through my library. Edit: right after I finished Oryx and Crake, I was able to check out The Robber Bride and holy hell is that a fantastic work of fiction. It's just so good.

I recently finished a Charles de Lint novel, Moonheart I think it was called. It gets a really big "meh" out of ten. It barely held my attention, none of the characters were particularly interesting, and the story was barely compelling. Also, there were some really cliched tropes that set my teeth on edge, and the voice actor (I listened to the audiobook) was one of those who does Accents for the "foreign" characters, only he gave all of the Native/Indigenous characters these really weird almost accents, which made them sound like caricatures of Indigenous people rather than actual characters. It wasn't as bad as, say, Tonto-speech, but it was grating. And they were literally only in the book to provide spiritual guidance to the white people.

I'm also reading a YA series that's a sci-fi retelling of sorts of popular western/European fairy tales. It's not terrible, but all of the characters kind of behave like Distillation of Teenager. But I'm a sucker for retellings of myth and fairy tales, so I'm gonna keep reading them no matter how dreckish they are.

Next on my list are Son by Lois Lowry and Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K le Guin, so I'm pretty excited for those.

'The Tombs of Atuan' is a real change from the first book. Arha is such a compelling character. The sense of oppression and claustrophobia is pervasive, although it was the gebbeth from the first book that haunted my nightmares as a kid.
Do you have access to all the books in the series?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on March 17, 2016, 04:26:29 AM
I'm slowly working through all of Atwood's works that are available through my library. Edit: right after I finished Oryx and Crake, I was able to check out The Robber Bride and holy hell is that a fantastic work of fiction. It's just so good.

I recently finished a Charles de Lint novel, Moonheart I think it was called. It gets a really big "meh" out of ten. It barely held my attention, none of the characters were particularly interesting, and the story was barely compelling. Also, there were some really cliched tropes that set my teeth on edge, and the voice actor (I listened to the audiobook) was one of those who does Accents for the "foreign" characters, only he gave all of the Native/Indigenous characters these really weird almost accents, which made them sound like caricatures of Indigenous people rather than actual characters. It wasn't as bad as, say, Tonto-speech, but it was grating. And they were literally only in the book to provide spiritual guidance to the white people.

I'm also reading a YA series that's a sci-fi retelling of sorts of popular western/European fairy tales. It's not terrible, but all of the characters kind of behave like Distillation of Teenager. But I'm a sucker for retellings of myth and fairy tales, so I'm gonna keep reading them no matter how dreckish they are.

Next on my list are Son by Lois Lowry and Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K le Guin, so I'm pretty excited for those.

'The Tombs of Atuan' is a real change from the first book. Arha is such a compelling character. The sense of oppression and claustrophobia is pervasive, although it was the gebbeth from the first book that haunted my nightmares as a kid.
Do you have access to all the books in the series?
I should--my library card gives me access to a pretty large ebook and audiobook catalog.

And, yeah, I'm really digging Tombs so far. Arha is so great!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on March 17, 2016, 07:56:34 AM
Bats of the Republic: An Illuminated Novel (http://www.amazon.com/Bats-Republic-Zachary-Thomas-Dodson/dp/0385539835/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1458215508&sr=8-1&keywords=bats+of+the+republic) by Zachary Thomas Dodson. Book making skill and beauty 9/10 but the story was 2/10.

I should have known better, it seemed too good to be true. This book is gorgeous with maps, envelopes, hand-written notes, and drawings throughout. Just something of beauty you want to page through and enjoy.

The story however is TERRIBLE...characters are dumb, dialogue is confusing and infantile, and the story is nearly incomprehensible.

Sigh.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on March 20, 2016, 02:35:21 PM
Master of the Senate (Years of Lyndon Johnson 3#) by Robert Caro - 10/10 as long as you can power through a few excruciating filibusters

At over 1000 pages, this is taking the crown for both the longest and most thorough book I've ever read.  Unlike the previous volumes in Caro's LBJ series, Lyndon Johnson's personality, powerful as it may be, doesn't stick out as the central issue here.  The real focus is how historical forces shaped the makeup and operation of the US Senate, and how the American South used the Senate to bypass all social progress for black people over 90 years.  It's bad enough learning about all the crazy racist shit that happens in Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia in the 1950s, but to then see this behavior actively rewarded by senators and reframed as "states rights" issues made my skin crawl.  It should have been no surprise last year when South Carolina had a controversy about the confederate flag, considering they were still putting goddamn Strom Thurmond into office until 2003.  I'm sure there are better (and more empowering) books about the civil rights movement, but the coverage here was my first serious exposure to it.  I'm embarrassed to admit that history lessons about Emmett Till and Autherine Lucy always seemed to take a back seat to Rosa Parks  (literally and figuratively)  when I was in middle school and high school, and I wouldn't recall either of their names if I hadn't read this book.


A few non-Civil Rights revelations:
- I never knew how nuts Douglas MacArthur went after WW2.  I know he had a reputation for being reckless during the war, but his desire to escalate things in Korea was end-of-the-word-insane.
- Robert Taft, while not as racist and regressive as his Southern colleagues, is really a piece of work.
- People sure did drink a lot on the job in the 50s. (I don't watch Mad Men) Johnson apparently avoided getting drunk compared to many of his colleagues, but his secretary is still giving him whiskey and sodas anytime there's a long meeting.

Caro is also very good at presenting a paradox that is currently plaguing many moderate liberal Americans:  whether to support true-believers in progressive causes and legislation, or whether to settle for a slightly untrustworthy but more politically savvy moderate Democrat.  Up until his presidency, it's debatable if Lyndon Johnson had ANY principles that he acted on while in office.  Every move he makes can be explained in terms of gaining leverage, money, and media attention.  But when push comes to shove, and the public supports the federal government pursuing liberal causes, he gets stuff done.  Senators like Hubert Humphrey and Paul Douglas just can't seem to win any votes for their progressive causes without a go-between like LBJ.  I'm curious how much this model of the legislative and executive action has evolved since their time.


A break for a month or so and then I'll read volume 4.  I fear the last volume of these bios may be falling into Winds of Winter territory.  :(
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Tatyana on March 20, 2016, 02:57:30 PM
I'm slowly working through all of Atwood's works that are available through my library. Edit: right after I finished Oryx and Crake, I was able to check out The Robber Bride and holy hell is that a fantastic work of fiction. It's just so good.

I recently finished a Charles de Lint novel, Moonheart I think it was called. It gets a really big "meh" out of ten. It barely held my attention, none of the characters were particularly interesting, and the story was barely compelling. Also, there were some really cliched tropes that set my teeth on edge, and the voice actor (I listened to the audiobook) was one of those who does Accents for the "foreign" characters, only he gave all of the Native/Indigenous characters these really weird almost accents, which made them sound like caricatures of Indigenous people rather than actual characters. It wasn't as bad as, say, Tonto-speech, but it was grating. And they were literally only in the book to provide spiritual guidance to the white people.

I'm also reading a YA series that's a sci-fi retelling of sorts of popular western/European fairy tales. It's not terrible, but all of the characters kind of behave like Distillation of Teenager. But I'm a sucker for retellings of myth and fairy tales, so I'm gonna keep reading them no matter how dreckish they are.

Next on my list are Son by Lois Lowry and Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K le Guin, so I'm pretty excited for those.

Margaret Attwood has been contributing to this series called 'Canongate Myth Series'

http://www.themyths.co.uk/

She first revamped The Odyssey from the point of view of Penelope and it is just brilliant. I think she was inspired by this and she has just done a second similar book called Hagseed, which is a re-telling of The Tempest.

I also really enjoyed Weight in the Canongate myth series.

I have just finished The Heart Goes Last,which is another dystopian future novel, and while it had me actually so amused I couldn't stop smiling in bits of it, it just didn't seem as literary as some of her previous works.

I have read a lot of her novels, I may have to go back and re-read a few to see how they stand up. I haven't read The Robber Bride, which does seem like a favourite of a lot of people, my favourites are her first novel, Surfacing and Alias Grace.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on March 27, 2016, 11:22:07 PM
Just finished The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters--8.9/10, in the top five of my favorite books I've read so far this year. Even though you know the answer to the whodunnit that comes up in the book, Waters is still able to keep it suspenseful and tense. It's also 100% gay and set in 1920s London. I don't know if I'm into historical fiction, or just gay historical fiction, or just Sarah Waters, but I've been hugely into all of her works that I've read, they're all really great for different reasons.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on April 13, 2016, 10:56:37 PM
Chapterhouse Dune by Frank Herbert - 5/10

Blah.  After getting all excited about the Bene Gesserit in the previous book, it turns out I did not need another entire novel devoted to them.  Herbert's various analogies and metaphors employed in explaining Bene Gesserit/Mentat/Honored Matres philosophy never really clicked, and it seems like he's just randomly inserting them to fill out the book.  There's also a huge missed opportunity with Scytale, who could have easily been used for a dozen possible plot twist, but is instead relegated to sitting on his ass doing nothing (which is also what Duncan Idaho does for about 80% of the book) Finally, what's up with token Jews being thrown into the Dune Universe?


So now that I'm done with the entire Frank run, here's how I feel about the whole series.

Dune - The original was the first good science fiction book I read since I was a teenager, and remains my favorite in the series.  The writing style overall, the pacing, the political maneuverings, characters, talking about planet ecology - everything was great.

Dune Messiah - Started off strong but then seemed to drag along and didn't hold my interest.  May be my least favorite book, and really doesn't add any unique elements that weren't already established. 

Children of Dune - Flat out bonkers, in a good way.  The transformations happening with both Leto and Alia are completely over the top, but I was on board with it. 

God Emperor of Dune - I've noticed this is the most despised book by many reviewers.  While it was the toughest to get through, I found myself pondering a lot of the political dilemmas presented in the book: the advantages of benevolent tyrants, the creation and manipulation of religions and ideologies, loyalty versus freedom.  Both the preceding and succeeding novels really only make sense in the light of this one, so I guess Herbert deserves props for planning

Heretics of Dune - Strikes a good balance between the politics and philosophy of God Emperor and the action of Children of Dune.  Probably my second favorite in the series.

Chapterhouse Dune - See above.  Not terrible, but a sharp decline.

I'll say 8/10 overall.

Time for new sci fi epics!  What should be next?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: starnado on April 14, 2016, 03:13:04 AM
Time for new sci fi epics!  What should be next?
Dan Simmons 'Hyperion Cantos'. Please somebody else read it... it is very good. Definitely epic.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on April 14, 2016, 09:04:26 PM
98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive by Cody Lundin 6/10
This book actually mirrored a lot of what has been on my mind lately. I have taken a few newbie friends for overnight minimalist(ish) camping trips and so lots of people have been asking me about this or that survival idea.
I hate the term survival but I get what they are asking and this book sums up my thoughts (or rather stretches out my thoughts to book length) pretty well.
The whole concept of the book is that the main priorities for most people, most of the time, are maintaining core temperature and helping rescuers to find you. Nice and simple.
So what I like is that the book doesnt try to teach different ways to start fires or build shelters or gather wild edibles. It focuses mostly on the philosophy and the biology of staying alive outdoors.
The writer is the star of a crappy TV show called Dual Survival, and he is a kookey character, but he knows his stuff. I dont like his writing style very much but I did pick up one or two neat ideas.
I do like his take on survival kits, even though my approach would be slightly different, its nice to see someone who isnt afraid to deviate from the standard dogma of such kits and isnt afraid to criticise the older military manuals.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Karyn on April 18, 2016, 03:20:31 PM
The Perversion of Virtue: Understanding Murder-Suicide by Thomas Joiner.  (Audiobook) 8/10.  The main reason I'm giving this book an 8 is because for the reading, the reader says "e.g."a lot for examples and it gets really, really old. Content is much better, though a little dry and repetitive.  Definitely written for people who know very little about the subject, but who might be working with people who come in contact with a murder-suicide scenario.

I'm fascinated by psychology, especially when it comes to things that are far outside what my brain can imagine what goes on inside someone else's brain.  Suicide in general baffles me.  Murder-suicide even more so.  I've not read books on the suicide subject before.  The book takes a look at why people tend to commit murder-suicides. From people who kill their families out of a distorted sense of justice, to the mass murders of Columbine and Virginia Tech. His theory of why people commit these sorts of acts is a tightening of previous theories.  The author also has a section on why people commit suicide, and has previously published books debunking the myths of suicide.  He does a good job of presenting his theory, describing what falls under murder-suicide, what falls outside.  He also gives note on how to talk to someone in a therapy session to see if they have some of these 'perversions of virtue' cropping up in their thinking. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Redamare on April 18, 2016, 09:23:51 PM
That sounds really fascinating. I'm going to check that one out.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on April 22, 2016, 12:45:43 AM
Pacific by Simon Winchester - 8/10

This is one of those books where it sort of feels like the author is cheating, but he's a good enough writer to get away with it.  Simon Winchester has done quite a bit of traveling to Hawaii, Japan, China, and North Korea, but apparently wasn't in the mood to write an entire book about any of one them.  Instead he picks out a bunch random events happening in and around the Pacific Ocean for the last 70 years, and uses them to speculate about the distant past and near future of the region.  Pulls it off nicely too.  I never realized how badly we screwed things up for the residents of the Marshall Islands during our early nuclear tests.  I was already aware of humans steady track record of showing up to small islands and obliterating species within a decade, which is another topic that is well covered.  Fun insights into the USS Pueblo, Jack London's surfing legacy, and goofy Australian politics.

Oddly enough I seem to keep picking books this year with a secondary theme of racist white people screwing things up and being unwilling to learn from others.  While there are multiple parallels with all of Winchester's Pacific stories, that seems to be one of the most consistent drivers of history in our the world's largest ocean.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Tatyana on April 22, 2016, 06:08:57 AM
Chapterhouse Dune by Frank Herbert - 5/10

Blah.  After getting all excited about the Bene Gesserit in the previous book, it turns out I did not need another entire novel devoted to them.  Herbert's various analogies and metaphors employed in explaining Bene Gesserit/Mentat/Honored Matres philosophy never really clicked, and it seems like he's just randomly inserting them to fill out the book.  There's also a huge missed opportunity with Scytale, who could have easily been used for a dozen possible plot twist, but is instead relegated to sitting on his ass doing nothing (which is also what Duncan Idaho does for about 80% of the book) Finally, what's up with token Jews being thrown into the Dune Universe?


So now that I'm done with the entire Frank run, here's how I feel about the whole series.

Dune - The original was the first good science fiction book I read since I was a teenager, and remains my favorite in the series.  The writing style overall, the pacing, the political maneuverings, characters, talking about planet ecology - everything was great.

Dune Messiah - Started off strong but then seemed to drag along and didn't hold my interest.  May be my least favorite book, and really doesn't add any unique elements that weren't already established. 

Children of Dune - Flat out bonkers, in a good way.  The transformations happening with both Leto and Alia are completely over the top, but I was on board with it. 

God Emperor of Dune - I've noticed this is the most despised book by many reviewers.  While it was the toughest to get through, I found myself pondering a lot of the political dilemmas presented in the book: the advantages of benevolent tyrants, the creation and manipulation of religions and ideologies, loyalty versus freedom.  Both the preceding and succeeding novels really only make sense in the light of this one, so I guess Herbert deserves props for planning

Heretics of Dune - Strikes a good balance between the politics and philosophy of God Emperor and the action of Children of Dune.  Probably my second favorite in the series.

Chapterhouse Dune - See above.  Not terrible, but a sharp decline.

I'll say 8/10 overall.

Time for new sci fi epics!  What should be next?

As you like space opera, have you read 'The Culture' by Iain M Banks or 'The Expanse' by James S. Corey?

I also really loved the Honour Harrington series, I did drift off of it at around book 8 to 10.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on April 22, 2016, 11:01:14 AM
Listening to the fancy version of the Dune audiobook right now.  For liek the 5th time (after reading it in print probably another 5-6 times).  Enjoying it so much.  Paul and Jessica are about to meet up with Stilgar and friends in the desert.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on April 22, 2016, 06:25:42 PM
"Natural Born Heroes", Christopher McDougal.  20/10.  A great writer, researcher and athlete.  A man who changed his mind about training and diet one hundred eighty degrees.   
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: starnado on April 23, 2016, 04:12:04 AM
I just listened to The Black Room by Luke Smitherd. I must say I was hooked. Slightly left field character-driven sci fi about a man who wakes up inside a woman's head: I mean, literally in a black room inside her head looking at a screen through which he can see what she sees and hear what she hears. 
The writing may have had a YA simplicity but the narrative was so compelling that I found myself listening to it in the evening in front of my family. They were amused. I didn't care, I just needed to know what the fuck was going on.
The audiobook was read by Mr Smitherd himself which adds to the authenticity in some ways. He did a fairly good job.

I also listened to Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman. A collection of short stories from his earlier work. Bloody brilliant obvs.

I am currently listening to Dawn: book one of Xenogenesis by Octavia Butler. I had forgotten how good it was. I plan to go on a Butler binge.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: superdave on April 25, 2016, 06:54:31 PM
Pet Sematary

8.5/10

Really surprised by this book.  I expected pulpy scares and got a surprisingly insightful and sad story that covers a wide range of themes and things we are all afraid of.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on April 26, 2016, 07:39:16 PM
Busy thread lately.

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua - 10/10

Ultimate nerd porn.  I take it everyone here knows the basic story of Ada Lovelace at this point (if not, shame on you for neglecting a Forgotten Superhero of Science), but this book is so much more.  There's the basic story of Lovelace and Babbage swapping ideas on how to build a difference/analytical engine, plus about a hundred different tangents on the state of science, politics, and humor of Victorian Era England.  Some awesome sketches of Babbage's tricikier mechanisms make me think the author is just plain lying that she doesn't have a background in engineering.  I was also impressed how well her presentation of "hypothetical" stories about Lovelace and Babbage reveal about the difficulties of accurate historical research.  Official records tend to be pretty sparse when it comes to women of merit, a fact that has been exploited by Lovelace detractors.

For those that have read the Baroque Cycle, a lot of this book is essentially the Daniel Waterhouse story from the third book, but illustrated and with slightly fewer explosive devices.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on April 26, 2016, 08:17:13 PM
Kraken (http://www.amazon.com/Kraken-China-Mi%C3%A9ville/dp/0345497503) by China Miéville

8/10 surprisingly high for me to rate since there were some glaring problems with the story. However, it was like watching a baseball pitcher who knows his arm isn't that great for this particular game so he get's really inventive with his pitches. That's what the author does, so I appreciated his effort.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on April 27, 2016, 04:38:40 PM
"The Paleo Solution", Robb Wolf.  9/10.  I thought the digestion chapters were interesting and, for me, some new information.  I am already up to speed on most of the rest of the book.  I thought the workout section was a bit too basic; thorough but geared for beginners.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on April 30, 2016, 06:58:28 PM
Bitch Planet
9.5/10

One of the best comics I've read in a while--and I've read Saga.

If you're opposed to feminist themes in your comics, you probably want to skip this one, but if you like comics, you should read this one.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on May 01, 2016, 05:21:02 PM
Bitch Planet
9.5/10

One of the best comics I've read in a while--and I've read Saga.

If you're opposed to feminist themes in your comics, you probably want to skip this one, but if you like comics, you should read this one.

Saga is some next-level shit, the most I've ever been drawn in by any comic. I'll check out Bitch Planet!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on May 01, 2016, 07:55:43 PM
I saw Fiona Staples twice last couple weeks. Once at the local con and once in the wild at a game store buying supplies.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on May 01, 2016, 08:19:10 PM
Good Omens by Pratchett and Gaiman -9/10

Witty, irreverent, and funny; also appeals to my personal ethics. Some great shoutouts and easter eggs if you're a Discworld reader, too. My 2nd time. While reading it the first time a few years ago, I'd say to myself every couple of pages, "my god, this could be so good in a visual media." Well.... that may very well be happening now (http://www.theguardian.com/books/tvandradioblog/2016/apr/15/good-omens-neil-gaiman-to-adapt-terry-pratchett-collaboration-for-tv), as a 6-part series through the BBC, and I'm peeing myself with excitement:

Quote
Pratchett’s longtime friend and assistant Rob Wilkins recalled asking Gaiman to adapt Good Omens as they were driving back from Pratchett’s house: “Absolutely not,” Gaiman recalled replying, to laughter. "Terry and I had a deal that we would only work on Good Omens things together,” he explained. “Everything that was ever written – bookmarks and tiny little things – we would always collaborate, everything was a collaboration. So, obviously, no.”

But Wilkins revealed to the audience that Pratchett had left a letter posthumously for Gaiman. In the letter, Pratchett requested that the author write an adaptation by himself, with his blessing. “At that point, I think I said, ‘You bastard, yes,’” Gaiman recalled, to cheers.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: brilligtove on May 01, 2016, 10:57:16 PM
Good Omens by Pratchett and Gaiman -9/10

Witty, irreverent, and funny; also appeals to my personal ethics. Some great shoutouts and easter eggs if you're a Discworld reader, too. My 2nd time. While reading it the first time a few years ago, I'd say to myself every couple of pages, "my god, this could be so good in a visual media." Well.... that may very well be happening now (http://www.theguardian.com/books/tvandradioblog/2016/apr/15/good-omens-neil-gaiman-to-adapt-terry-pratchett-collaboration-for-tv), as a 6-part series through the BBC, and I'm peeing myself with excitement:

Quote
Pratchett’s longtime friend and assistant Rob Wilkins recalled asking Gaiman to adapt Good Omens as they were driving back from Pratchett’s house: “Absolutely not,” Gaiman recalled replying, to laughter. "Terry and I had a deal that we would only work on Good Omens things together,” he explained. “Everything that was ever written – bookmarks and tiny little things – we would always collaborate, everything was a collaboration. So, obviously, no.”

But Wilkins revealed to the audience that Pratchett had left a letter posthumously for Gaiman. In the letter, Pratchett requested that the author write an adaptation by himself, with his blessing. “At that point, I think I said, ‘You bastard, yes,’” Gaiman recalled, to cheers.
OMFSM YeS!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: brilligtove on May 01, 2016, 11:01:26 PM
Good Omens by Pratchett and Gaiman -9/10

Witty, irreverent, and funny; also appeals to my personal ethics. Some great shoutouts and easter eggs if you're a Discworld reader, too. My 2nd time. While reading it the first time a few years ago, I'd say to myself every couple of pages, "my god, this could be so good in a visual media." Well.... that may very well be happening now (http://www.theguardian.com/books/tvandradioblog/2016/apr/15/good-omens-neil-gaiman-to-adapt-terry-pratchett-collaboration-for-tv), as a 6-part series through the BBC, and I'm peeing myself with excitement:

Quote
Pratchett’s longtime friend and assistant Rob Wilkins recalled asking Gaiman to adapt Good Omens as they were driving back from Pratchett’s house: “Absolutely not,” Gaiman recalled replying, to laughter. "Terry and I had a deal that we would only work on Good Omens things together,” he explained. “Everything that was ever written – bookmarks and tiny little things – we would always collaborate, everything was a collaboration. So, obviously, no.”

But Wilkins revealed to the audience that Pratchett had left a letter posthumously for Gaiman. In the letter, Pratchett requested that the author write an adaptation by himself, with his blessing. “At that point, I think I said, ‘You bastard, yes,’” Gaiman recalled, to cheers.
OMFSM YeS!
I may have just soiled myself in a most sneak peak-y way.
Good Omens by Pratchett and Gaiman -9/10

Witty, irreverent, and funny; also appeals to my personal ethics. Some great shoutouts and easter eggs if you're a Discworld reader, too. My 2nd time. While reading it the first time a few years ago, I'd say to myself every couple of pages, "my god, this could be so good in a visual media." Well.... that may very well be happening now (http://www.theguardian.com/books/tvandradioblog/2016/apr/15/good-omens-neil-gaiman-to-adapt-terry-pratchett-collaboration-for-tv), as a 6-part series through the BBC, and I'm peeing myself with excitement:

Quote
Pratchett’s longtime friend and assistant Rob Wilkins recalled asking Gaiman to adapt Good Omens as they were driving back from Pratchett’s house: “Absolutely not,” Gaiman recalled replying, to laughter. "Terry and I had a deal that we would only work on Good Omens things together,” he explained. “Everything that was ever written – bookmarks and tiny little things – we would always collaborate, everything was a collaboration. So, obviously, no.”

But Wilkins revealed to the audience that Pratchett had left a letter posthumously for Gaiman. In the letter, Pratchett requested that the author write an adaptation by himself, with his blessing. “At that point, I think I said, ‘You bastard, yes,’” Gaiman recalled, to cheers.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on May 01, 2016, 11:29:10 PM
Bitch Planet
9.5/10

One of the best comics I've read in a while--and I've read Saga.

If you're opposed to feminist themes in your comics, you probably want to skip this one, but if you like comics, you should read this one.

Saga is some next-level shit, the most I've ever been drawn in by any comic. I'll check out Bitch Planet!
Yeah, I haven't had a lot of money to spend on comics lately, but I'd seen enough people recommending Bitch Planet that I finally had to get it. I was not displeased.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Tatyana on May 02, 2016, 08:19:09 AM
In my recent interest in Margaret Atwood I have finally finished 'The Blind Assassin' 8/10

There is always such a feminist slant to all of her novels that is always everywhere in  the narrative. The thing about this feminism is that it is easy for this to emerge with her just telling the story of what it was like for women at different ages and during different periods of time.

I also re-listened to  her historical fiction novel 'Alias Grace' 9/10.

I loved it as much as I had the first time I read it. Again, it puts you immediately into the historical period of time in a very personal way. I think that is one reason I love her so much, all of her writing seems so human and personal.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on May 06, 2016, 11:46:30 AM
Finished a re-listen to American Gods.  So enjoyable.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on May 06, 2016, 12:19:52 PM
The Library at Mount Char (http://www.amazon.com/Library-at-Mount-Char/dp/0553418629) by Scott Hawkins

9/10

A little disturbing, but really good writing and characters. Sort of, "what if god had PTSD?" kind of book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on May 06, 2016, 02:55:50 PM
"The Bg Fat Surprise", Nina Teicholz, 10/10.  I thought I should support the side and read this book, but I thought it would be another GCBC Taubes), but I was wrong.  Nina Teicholz is a great writer and brought another, more personal, view of how America and the world got fat.  Great writing, easy to read , well referenced and passionate; a seven year research journey.  She does bring a very positive light on Taubes and the fact that he was the force to start the ball rolling (again, as the establishment had beaten down Ahrens, Yudkins, Atkins, etc) visiting the reasons why dietary advice came to be and why it has failed miserably to curb obesity and disease.

I'd recommend it over GCBC (or any other book on the subject  have read) as a first read for anyone interested in the history of diet advice and the negative impact on society. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on May 10, 2016, 11:44:50 PM
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson - 9/10

So pretty much what I've come to expect from Neal.  Incredibly detailed descriptions of science and technology, odd concepts that get stuck in your head for days, a good action scene or twist sprinkled in when things start to go dry, and a handful of great characters among a lot of larger cast of fairly bland ones.  Minor spoilers here but not enough to ruin anything - Earth is under serious pressure to put a lot of people into space aboard an ever expanding ISS, spearheaded by a gigantic asteroid.  Things go shockingly well for about 200 pages, to the point where I was thinking "this may be scientifically accurate, but the social and political representations seem way too optimistic".  Then things start to go ... not so great.  There's a character that I suddenly started envisioning as Gaius Baltar from Battlestar Galactica, and I found myself pleading for a painful death scene numerous times.  Despite one extremely negative portrayal of women coping with space travel, this book passes the Bechdel test a hundred times over, which now that I think about it is NOT true of any other Stephenson book I've read.  Turns out us males have a lot of marks against us when Armageddon comes. 

Lots of robots, orbital mechanics, structural engineering, genetic manipulation, and resource management.  Don't think I've ever seen Gantt charts mentioned in fiction before, so use that as a reference as to whether or not you'd enjoy this book.  Not as fast paced or emotionally appealing as something like The Martian, but a lot more ideas crammed in. 

JBF 2020!  Make Spacemerica Great Again.   ;D
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: fuzzyMarmot on May 14, 2016, 12:22:22 AM
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson - 9/10

So pretty much what I've come to expect from Neal.  Incredibly detailed descriptions of science and technology, odd concepts that get stuck in your head for days, a good action scene or twist sprinkled in when things start to go dry, and a handful of great characters among a lot of larger cast of fairly bland ones.  Minor spoilers here but not enough to ruin anything - Earth is under serious pressure to put a lot of people into space aboard an ever expanding ISS, spearheaded by a gigantic asteroid.  Things go shockingly well for about 200 pages, to the point where I was thinking "this may be scientifically accurate, but the social and political representations seem way too optimistic".  Then things start to go ... not so great.  There's a character that I suddenly started envisioning as Gaius Baltar from Battlestar Galactica, and I found myself pleading for a painful death scene numerous times.  Despite one extremely negative portrayal of women coping with space travel, this book passes the Bechdel test a hundred times over, which now that I think about it is NOT true of any other Stephenson book I've read.  Turns out us males have a lot of marks against us when Armageddon comes. 

Lots of robots, orbital mechanics, structural engineering, genetic manipulation, and resource management.  Don't think I've ever seen Gantt charts mentioned in fiction before, so use that as a reference as to whether or not you'd enjoy this book.  Not as fast paced or emotionally appealing as something like The Martian, but a lot more ideas crammed in. 

JBF 2020!  Make Spacemerica Great Again.   ;D
I really enjoyed Seveneves. I totally agree with your assessment about Stephenson and the Bechdel test. It shows his growth as a writer-- it seems like he really listened to criticism, and his writing has benefited from it. I also agree with you about being stunned with how well political systems functioned in the first part of the book; I would have expected a campaign to "Defund the Cloud Ark!" would have derailed everything.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on May 21, 2016, 05:59:47 PM
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren - a strong 8/10, probably higher if you like botany

Looking at the previous books I rated, I suppose this is part three of my "female scientists not taking shit from anyone" series.  Hope Jahren tells an amazing story of fighting tooth and nail to start her own paleobiology research lab, and a tremendous amount of personal growth that happens along the way.  For a "motivational" autobiography I was happy that this didn't instantly turn into overly maudlin crap, which is impressive considering how easy it would have been to write it that way.  Doesn't pull any punches on the abysmal state of funding for basic scientific research, but ALSO hints at the fatal flaw of professors cranking out an excess of overly qualified labor.  Good coverage of mental health issues as well.

Oh and monkey glory holes.  Don't ever get a job at the Miami zoo.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on May 22, 2016, 12:11:35 AM
"Eat Fat Get Thin", Mark Hyman, 8/10.  Great message from a man who has treated thousands of overweight/obese, T2D individuals over the last 30 years, head of functional medicine at the Cleveland Clinic so he's got the chops.  But he isn't as good a writer as he is a conversationalist in podcasts.  It would be a great book for someone new to healthy nutrition with a serious weight/diabetes problem, but having just finished Nina Teischolz' "Big Fat Lie", I wanted writing of her calibre; bu no.

A very practical book, a plan to start and maintain a healthy diet and lose fat, plenty of recipes and questionaires to help one along.  The big plus fort the plan is that one needn't count calories, just restrict some macronutrients and focus on a variety of fats to make a tasty and satiating way to eat; calories restrict themselves.  I know this works for weight and body composition... at least for me (and others I know).

Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: pandamonium on May 25, 2016, 10:17:40 PM
"You Too Can Have A Body Like Mine", Alexandra Kleeman 8/10

Very surreal, but compelling. I don't even know what it's about except in the sense that I followed the plot, but I know that it's at least several metaphors and I think it's going to be with me for a while.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: nameofthewave on May 28, 2016, 08:47:40 AM
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. Really enjoyed this, finally got round to complete the unabridged audiobook. It's similar in style to his previous novels Cloud Atlas and Ghostwritten, lots of jumping around in time between different characters to spin an interwoven narrative with quite a range of underlying themes. Highly recommended.

9/10. Loses a point for being slightly confusing in the middle part, and I would also have liked more from the war reporter's story. But that's being picky.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on May 30, 2016, 06:33:47 PM
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. Really enjoyed this, finally got round to complete the unabridged audiobook. It's similar in style to his previous novels Cloud Atlas and Ghostwritten, lots of jumping around in time between different characters to spin an interwoven narrative with quite a range of underlying themes. Highly recommended.

9/10. Loses a point for being slightly confusing in the middle part, and I would also have liked more from the war reporter's story. But that's being picky.

Read it a while ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Can't say why, just did.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: nameofthewave on May 31, 2016, 04:05:28 PM
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. Really enjoyed this, finally got round to complete the unabridged audiobook. It's similar in style to his previous novels Cloud Atlas and Ghostwritten, lots of jumping around in time between different characters to spin an interwoven narrative with quite a range of underlying themes. Highly recommended.

9/10. Loses a point for being slightly confusing in the middle part, and I would also have liked more from the war reporter's story. But that's being picky.

Read it a while ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Can't say why, just did.

If you liked The Bone Clocks I'd also highly recommend the other two mentioned.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on May 31, 2016, 04:45:17 PM
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. Really enjoyed this, finally got round to complete the unabridged audiobook. It's similar in style to his previous novels Cloud Atlas and Ghostwritten, lots of jumping around in time between different characters to spin an interwoven narrative with quite a range of underlying themes. Highly recommended.

9/10. Loses a point for being slightly confusing in the middle part, and I would also have liked more from the war reporter's story. But that's being picky.

Read it a while ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Can't say why, just did.

If you liked The Bone Clocks I'd also highly recommend the other two mentioned.
Just finished Cloud Atlas. Loved it too
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Desert Fox on June 26, 2016, 01:09:57 AM
23 Years on Fire: A Cassandra Kresnov Novel 8/10
Read books 1,2, and 3 from the series but the author paused a bit before writing this book. Not sure how much I like the alien tech part of it though.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on June 28, 2016, 11:00:02 PM
Got on the Ancillary Justice bandwagon.  8/10

First 50 pages or so I thought it wasn't anything special.  "Okay so we've got some AI running around, and a powerful empire, and they are utilizing economics and religion to manipulate people.  Big deal, this is par for the course sci-fi."  Then we have a fun little conspiracy going on, and a crazy-balls explanation of why said conspiracy happens, and a brand new twist on AI I've never seen before.  I managed to confuse myself numerous times with the gender politics aspect of the book, but I suspect that was probably intentional on Leckie's part.  Well played.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Karyn on June 30, 2016, 11:36:14 AM
NeuroLogic by Eliezer Sternberg - 9/10 (on audible)

I knew most of what was in this book already, just because I read a lot of books about the brain.  However, this one had a different focus.  It looked at the brain's concept of self and related it to how people with schizophrenia don't recognize their own internal processes as being 'theirs'.  It was not obvious that the book was going in this direction at the begining, and I was worried it was just going to be a repeat of Dueling Neurosurgeons.  So, although I had heard much of the information (which it never hurts to get a review of), it brought it all together in a way that was new to me, so I enjoyed it.  It was also read very well on audible.

The Man Who Couldn't Stop by David Adam - 8/10 (on audible)

I had yet to really delve into OCD, so I picked up this book to understand it better.  It is written by someone who suffers from OCD, but whose training is in chemical engineering.  The book combines a historical account of OCD diagnosis and treatment along with interesting stories of people who have suffered OCD, as well as his own story.  It doesn't really get into the neurology of the condition, but it's good story telling.  I would recommend the book for anyone who suffers from OCD or who lives with someone who has OCD
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on June 30, 2016, 03:05:20 PM
Atul Gawande, "Being Mortal".  9/10.

Not an easy read, especially for an older person, but for me, helpful. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Karyn on June 30, 2016, 04:00:12 PM
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson - 9/10

So pretty much what I've come to expect from Neal.  Incredibly detailed descriptions of science and technology, odd concepts that get stuck in your head for days, a good action scene or twist sprinkled in when things start to go dry, and a handful of great characters among a lot of larger cast of fairly bland ones.  Minor spoilers here but not enough to ruin anything - Earth is under serious pressure to put a lot of people into space aboard an ever expanding ISS, spearheaded by a gigantic asteroid.  Things go shockingly well for about 200 pages, to the point where I was thinking "this may be scientifically accurate, but the social and political representations seem way too optimistic".  Then things start to go ... not so great.  There's a character that I suddenly started envisioning as Gaius Baltar from Battlestar Galactica, and I found myself pleading for a painful death scene numerous times.  Despite one extremely negative portrayal of women coping with space travel, this book passes the Bechdel test a hundred times over, which now that I think about it is NOT true of any other Stephenson book I've read.  Turns out us males have a lot of marks against us when Armageddon comes. 

Lots of robots, orbital mechanics, structural engineering, genetic manipulation, and resource management.  Don't think I've ever seen Gantt charts mentioned in fiction before, so use that as a reference as to whether or not you'd enjoy this book.  Not as fast paced or emotionally appealing as something like The Martian, but a lot more ideas crammed in. 

JBF 2020!  Make Spacemerica Great Again.   ;D
I really enjoyed Seveneves. I totally agree with your assessment about Stephenson and the Bechdel test. It shows his growth as a writer-- it seems like he really listened to criticism, and his writing has benefited from it. I also agree with you about being stunned with how well political systems functioned in the first part of the book; I would have expected a campaign to "Defund the Cloud Ark!" would have derailed everything.

I really loved listening to this book.  I like the time split in the middle.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on July 02, 2016, 02:55:06 AM
I'm currently on Ken Follett's The Fall of Giants, a historical novel that covers the early part of the Twentieth Century, including the Russian Revolution and World War I. Slow starter, but outstanding novel. Part one of a series.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Karyn on July 05, 2016, 02:30:20 PM
Switching Time, by Richard Baer. 2.5/10.  I wasn't even able to finish this book.  Here's the review I ended up writing for Audible.


Quote
I understand that dissociative identity disorder is a very controversial diagnosis. I recently had someone in my social circle claim they have been diagnoses with it. I have a degree in psychology, and have read many, many books on neurology, brain disorders and mental illness. I wanted to learn more about DID and the people who suffer from it. I went into this book wanting to see the personal story of someone in the hopes that it would give me insight into the identification and diagnosis of DID.

I've also spent a lot of time reading personal biographies and case studies from psychologists dealing with a wide range of interesting brain disorders and mental illnesses. There are consistencies among all of them that make them very believable. I've also spent a lot of time looking at the Satanic Panic and evidence of a vast conspiracy of satanic ritual abuse. There's a complete lack of evidence to back up any of the claims put forth by people that organized Satanism, as a perversion presented by 'godly' people, even exists.

This book was not the book to encourage my research. As soon as we started getting to the parts about satanic ritual abuse, I shut down. I have no doubt that Karen experienced significant childhood abuse, much of it probably sexual and physical. I am sure that no matter what, this woman has been severely damaged by her past, and needs help in recovering from her experiences. I do doubt that there was a conspiracy amongst the church priest, head of police, and her father (the town undertaker), amongst other prominent members of the community, to ritually abuse via satanism, this little girl.

Beyond that, even if Karen is heavily fantasy prone, and conflated much of the pop culture multiple personality disorder and satanic cult nonsense of the 80s with her own memory, the accounts of her absorbing the other personalities just seems soooo...not how the brain works in dealing with dissociation. This reads as bad fiction based on a true story in the same way the Amityville Horror reads.

If you are interested in learning more about DID, this is not the book to start with. I couldn't even finish it. I feel horrible for the things that Karen probably went through as a child, but this book is entirely exploitative sensationalism.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: superdave on July 07, 2016, 12:06:37 PM
Atlas Shrugged Mini Review
I am about 85% of the way through the book and a larger review is coming but heres some quick thoughts.
1) Objectivism is not totally crazy, there some decent points, but also glaring holes.
2) if you understand the story as a satire, its a lot easier to take but anyone with genuine fear of this sort of apocalypse would be insane
3) The story, if you get past all the philosophy, is alright. 
4) The characters speak like they were written by an alien observer who wrote the book after reading field notes from another alien observer.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Ah.hell on July 07, 2016, 12:38:15 PM
Objectivism is understandable if you remember that Ayn Rand was refuge from the soviet union.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: superdave on July 18, 2016, 09:04:16 AM
so wow, i did not think those last 100 pages of Atlas Shrugged would change my opinion very much, but they sure did.  One of the things keeping me interested was that I actually liked the main character, despite some of her flaws, but in the last section of the book she..

(click to show/hide)
, and that just ruins it for me.  Ayn really drives home the with us or against us rhetoric (directly saying this) and that makes it much harder to read a nuanced view of Objectivism. I'd still say that Objectivism contains some nuggets of wisdom.  I thought the speech about the purpose of money was actually well reasoned and made a lot of sense.  I liked a lot of the stuff about having pride in your work and taking responsibility for your actions.  But the main problem is that Objectivism just does not jive with things we know that are true.  The main thing being that the world does not neatly fall into categories of supermen and sniveling idiots.

From a literary side, the biggest issue with the book is that when the book starts, the US is already being destroyed by stupid stupid laws regulating commerce.  These laws are rediciulously made of straw.  But this would be ok if the book took place deeper in the future.  Since the story takes place pretty much in the present, they are much harder to swallow.

honestly i feel like while I could write tons more, the book is not worth the time it would take to do it.

Final rating, 6/10 , it's not terrible, the story is somewhat interesting and Objectivism isn't totally wrong.  But the book is way too long, the writing is pretentious as fuck, and there is a bit too much weird sexual stuff.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Rai on July 18, 2016, 09:43:57 AM
I've been reading The Unnatural History of the Sea by Callum M. Roberts. 9/10

It is basically a long and frankly, terrifying description of shifting baselines in practice. He goes back in history and stipulates fish and marine life stocks based on the available information to show how everything is fucked. He makes a very good case and boy, is it all very very scary and sad.

The only downside is that it gets a bit repetitive after a while. The data is repetitive and the context is changes, but in essence, all the chapters are about how there used to be tens (or hundreds) of millions of animals in this ecosystem, and now it is a completely barren post-apocalyptic wasteland due to fishing and pollution. That being said, it is important to realise how the oceans are, for all intents and purposes, mostly dead and I can't recall ever coming across a better book to show this simple fact.

Also, another downside is that I am now feeling even more guilty than before when eating seafood. And I am rather sad that I, or anyone else, will never see sights like a healthy coral reef or a pod of a few hundred sperm whales.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on July 18, 2016, 10:11:42 AM
Just got done re-reading The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver for a skeptics' book club. 14/10 A++++++++++++

This and not The Demon Haunted World or Flim Flam or whatever ought to be the skeptics' bible. It's all about probability-based forecasting, scientific skepticism, and how humans make mistakes, told from the perspective of a number of different industries and models including baseball (Silver wrote for a publication called Baseball Prospectus that predicts their statistics in upcoming seasons), poker (Silver also made a fair bit of money playing online poker back in the day), the stock market, the housing bubble, the weather, climate change, chess, and several others. It might be a bit dry if you're not into Bayes but at the same time I think he does a great job of explaining it and in so doing really nails lots and lots of different but important things, including why you ought to trust foxes more than hedgehogs, how cognitive biases enter everyone's minds, not just the hoi polloi, and so on.

Yeah, just a great book. It's already beginning to get just a liiiitle bit dated but that's a tiny, tiny criticism.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: superdave on July 18, 2016, 10:13:20 AM
Just got done re-reading The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver for a skeptics' book club. 14/10 A++++++++++++

This and not The Demon Haunted World or Flim Flam or whatever ought to be the skeptics' bible. It's all about probability-based forecasting, scientific skepticism, and how humans make mistakes, told from the perspective of a number of different industries and models including baseball (Silver wrote for a publication called Baseball Prospectus that predicts their statistics in upcoming seasons), poker (Silver also made a fair bit of money playing online poker back in the day), the stock market, the housing bubble, the weather, climate change, chess, and several others. It might be a bit dry if you're not into Bayes but at the same time I think he does a great job of explaining it and in so doing really nails lots and lots of different but important things, including why you ought to trust foxes more than hedgehogs, how cognitive biases enter everyone's minds, not just the hoi polloi, and so on.

Yeah, just a great book. It's already beginning to get just a liiiitle bit dated but that's a tiny, tiny criticism.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

I really enjoyed the content but the writing was terrible.  I think if you regularly read the 538 website you are getting a lot of the content already.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on July 18, 2016, 01:58:20 PM
Just got done re-reading The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver for a skeptics' book club. 14/10 A++++++++++++

This and not The Demon Haunted World or Flim Flam or whatever ought to be the skeptics' bible. It's all about probability-based forecasting, scientific skepticism, and how humans make mistakes, told from the perspective of a number of different industries and models including baseball (Silver wrote for a publication called Baseball Prospectus that predicts their statistics in upcoming seasons), poker (Silver also made a fair bit of money playing online poker back in the day), the stock market, the housing bubble, the weather, climate change, chess, and several others. It might be a bit dry if you're not into Bayes but at the same time I think he does a great job of explaining it and in so doing really nails lots and lots of different but important things, including why you ought to trust foxes more than hedgehogs, how cognitive biases enter everyone's minds, not just the hoi polloi, and so on.

Yeah, just a great book. It's already beginning to get just a liiiitle bit dated but that's a tiny, tiny criticism.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

I'm am reminded of this book about once a month when I make the mistake of turning on PBS at 1:30pm on a Sunday.  I recall the first chapter pointing out the McClaughlin Group's abysmal track record for  "predictions" being slightly lower than a coin flip.  The show is supposed to be light hearted and almost satirical, but the central premise goes directly against the hedgehog and fox lessons presented in The Signal and the Noise.  PBS could easily hire 3 people to do a show in the vein of Silver and 538 on Sunday afternoons, but instead they insist on keeping John McClaughlin's career on life support.

Perhaps you can tell this is less an endorsement of Signal and the Noise, and more me not being able to shake off Pat Buchannan earworms within 24 hours.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: nameofthewave on July 18, 2016, 05:12:16 PM
I started listening to the audiobook of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, based on several rave reviews and a few personal recommendations, and the first episode of the TV series. Two hours in and I had to check that the reviews were actually referring to the same thing. Nice prose written in an elegant style, I suppose, but its more than a little pretentious and JESUS is it boring as fuck. Maybe it's just not my cup of tea. Has anyone here read it and liked it? Does it get better? Given that there is another 29 hours (!) to go, is it worth carrying on or should I cut my losses? I think I enjoyed having my wisdom teeth out more than I did listening to this.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on July 20, 2016, 02:17:07 PM
I started listening to the audiobook of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, based on several rave reviews and a few personal recommendations, and the first episode of the TV series. Two hours in and I had to check that the reviews were actually referring to the same thing. Nice prose written in an elegant style, I suppose, but its more than a little pretentious and JESUS is it boring as fuck. Maybe it's just not my cup of tea. Has anyone here read it and liked it? Does it get better? Given that there is another 29 hours (!) to go, is it worth carrying on or should I cut my losses? I think I enjoyed having my wisdom teeth out more than I did listening to this.

I read it. The weirder it got the more I liked it...and it got WEIRD.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on July 20, 2016, 10:05:41 PM
Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik - 7/10

Ruth Bader Ginsberg ain't nothing to f' with.

Fun little bio of RBG.  Nothing particularly surprising in here, except a reminder that Antonin Scalia was at least fun to go to the opera with.  Anthony Kennedy comes off really poorly too, and his legacy of "compromise" over the last few years seems more and more of a story of slowly being out of touch with reality.  Looks like he's living up to a Kennedy legacy of wrapping up your career without a decent head on your shoulders ... to soon?   >:D

(https://media.giphy.com/media/ytwDCC2xYLSOoTy4W4/giphy.gif)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: nameofthewave on July 23, 2016, 03:06:42 AM
I started listening to the audiobook of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, based on several rave reviews and a few personal recommendations, and the first episode of the TV series. Two hours in and I had to check that the reviews were actually referring to the same thing. Nice prose written in an elegant style, I suppose, but its more than a little pretentious and JESUS is it boring as fuck. Maybe it's just not my cup of tea. Has anyone here read it and liked it? Does it get better? Given that there is another 29 hours (!) to go, is it worth carrying on or should I cut my losses? I think I enjoyed having my wisdom teeth out more than I did listening to this.

I read it. The weirder it got the more I liked it...and it got WEIRD.

Thanks, I have persevered with it, it does seem to be getting slightly better. I'll give it another couple of hours before giving up.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on July 25, 2016, 03:03:06 AM
Speaker of the Dead - 9/10

I read Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow within the last year, so I'm continuing on... and goddamn, I really really enjoyed the book. Probably my favorite in the series so far, but all three were immensely enjoyable. This one is much less sci fi and much more philosophy, and had me engaged the entire time.

Anybody read further along the series? Does it stay this good?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on July 25, 2016, 06:18:16 AM
Speaker of the Dead - 9/10

I read Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow within the last year, so I'm continuing on... and goddamn, I really really enjoyed the book. Probably my favorite in the series so far, but all three were immensely enjoyable. This one is much less sci fi and much more philosophy, and had me engaged the entire time.

Anybody read further along the series? Does it stay this good?

I've heard people complain, but I loved all of them. The rest of the ender books and the bean books. The only reason to take my rec with a grain of salt is that I was in high school when I read all of them.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: InsanePat on July 25, 2016, 08:20:47 AM
xenocide is close enough to speaker of the dead, imo. the next one, children of the mind,  tries to, but I didn't find it as interesting.
The shadow parts are more thriller/action, so are the formic war prequels  if my memory of the first one is reliable enough.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on July 25, 2016, 01:08:13 PM
Thanks y'all! Very helpful.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on July 25, 2016, 01:10:42 PM
Sadly for me, while I like them OK, the quality just dips below the "how good does the art has to be compared to how much of an asshole the artist is" line for me.  So I won't be revisiting the stories.  Better art or less of an asshole, and I'd be in again.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on July 25, 2016, 01:14:10 PM
I *generally* ignore the viewpoint of the artist when consuming literature but one of the issues with OSC is that he shoves his politics into his lit a *lot*, particularly in his more recent stuff. I guess along those lines that means Ender's Game isn't as bad as it could be (though I too stopped reading it after the 3rd book) but yeah generally I can't really recommend, for instance, a series that starts out interesting but quickly turns into a space opera version of the Book of Mormon (the Ships of Earth) or which tries to argue that genociding the Americas wasn't, like, any worse than what would have happened to the natives if we'd have left them alone and stuff.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on July 25, 2016, 01:16:43 PM
Ah, interesting. Insanepat and NM, how do y'all feel about those criticisms?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on July 25, 2016, 02:40:38 PM
Ah, interesting. Insanepat and NM, how do y'all feel about those criticisms?

As mentioned I was in high school, so the politics and religion stuff flew over my head in terms of how it was commentary. I've read about that since.

I loved the ships of earth series almost as much as the ender series, but at the time I didn't know what a Mormon was or what they believed.

Orson Scott Card is an asshole, and I don't know how I'd feel reading his books today. I have a feeling that my bias against the author would get in the way of my enjoyment. I'd like to think it wouldn't, but I guess I would because as nostalgic as the books make me I wasn't physically able to pick up any of the Ender books that have been published since 2005.

Oh man.. I'm looking at his bibliography now and there are so many more Ender books! Fuck! Can I get over my dislike for OSC? Are the books any good?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on July 25, 2016, 05:22:29 PM
I've decided not to google why OSC is an asshole until after I'm finished reading his books.  ;D
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on July 25, 2016, 05:34:23 PM
Without spoiling it, he's the sort of the opposite outcome from the same initial conditions as Brandon Sanderson.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: InsanePat on July 25, 2016, 11:03:35 PM
Well, maybe i shouldn't say it, but anyway... if I feel like I don't want to endorse an author while still reading his books, I just borrow  or download them.
In OSC's case, i read ender's and alvin sagas long before I learned about some of his views - I was surprised by the homosexuality paper after having read songmaster... must have been the last book I did buy.   
That said, when I am reading a novel, I don't think about the author, nor try to link anything to anything realprobably because reading has beenfor me a way to escape reality.
There is often that kind of debate in France about Louis Ferdinand Celine (French author, very friendly with the nazis) - but he's still considered a great writer, so I guess the work  outweights the flaws on the long run anyway.   
 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on July 29, 2016, 04:16:43 PM
I'm re-listening to one of my favourite books, Footfall by Niven/Pournelle.

It's near-future SF about an alien invasion.  Written 30 years ago, taking place 20 years ago.  Haha.

They do a fairly good job of simultaneously making the aliens actually alien (not just humans with green skin), but still relatable.

There are parts of it that are, to use the great SJW rallying cry, problematic, but that is easily resolved by it being a period piece representative of the time in which it was written - a story written today but still taking place back then would be very different, although I think maybe less authentic.  Casual misogyny is what I'm talking about here, and a tiny amount of casual racism, and an even tinier amount of casual homophobia - it was written in the early 80s.  The problem isn't one of denigrating or demeaning women or minorities or gays, it's that there just aren't that many in there.

They also wrote proxies of themselves into the story, in pretty blatant fan service.  But even that is properly executed, as they are in there warts and all.

Overall, it remains a favourite for me.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: brilligtove on July 29, 2016, 10:09:40 PM
Just listened to Armada by Ernest Cline, read by Wil Wheaton. Like Cline's last work, Ready Player One, this was a good story, with some twists and turns along the way.

4/5.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on August 01, 2016, 03:32:30 PM
The City and The City by China Meiville 7/10

Well written detective story set in a contemporyish  fictional city around Turkey somewhere. The general conciet is that two identical city states with different governments, populations, customs and cultures exist out of phase but layered over each other. Like a pan dimensional east/west germany of sorts.
The main story follows a detective working a murder of a girl found in his city but possibly murdered in the other and the book is very proceedural, cleverly assuming the reader knows all about the cities but drip feeding information.

From an anthropological point of view, the book is really fas inating and evokes images of Gaza, Belfast and any other place where two populations life in separate worlds and must at times feign indifference to each others presence.
Its a very intriguing story, but fails to fully expand upon and deliver on the actual questions a science geek might have while reading it.
If you can accept you wont get all the answers and that its more about the cultural observations, then I think its worth reading.
Full disclosure- I only finished it so I could talk about it with a lady friend.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on August 02, 2016, 12:22:39 PM
Colossus - D.F. Jones - 9/10

Recommended by somebody here... I had to order off of Amazon, as I believe it's out of print, but I found a nice-looking first edition for my shelves.  ;D

Extremely quick read for me, I really got sucked in. Not a spoiler, as the book opens by stating the premise: future (from 1966) US scientists have invented AI, which they put autonomously in charge of national defense as a final solution to the cold war. (not all goes as planned, DUN DUN DUN) The story was very well thought out, the author had intelligent and creative ideas about the future, and the plot was suspenseful and engaging for me. Recommend for anybody at all into the scifi genre.

The elements of racism and sexism that appeared are forgivable in that I believe the author was actually pretty progressive, considering the time in which he wrote.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: brilligtove on August 02, 2016, 12:44:05 PM
Colossus - D.F. Jones - 9/10

Recommended by somebody here... I had to order off of Amazon, as I believe it's out of print, but I found a nice-looking first edition for my shelves.  ;D

Extremely quick read for me, I really got sucked in. Not a spoiler, as the book opens by stating the premise: future (from 1966) US scientists have invented AI, which they put autonomously in charge of national defense as a final solution to the cold war. (not all goes as planned, DUN DUN DUN) The story was very well thought out, the author had intelligent and creative ideas about the future, and the plot was suspenseful and engaging for me. Recommend for anybody at all into the scifi genre.

The elements of racism and sexism that appeared are forgivable in that I believe the author was actually pretty progressive, considering the time in which he wrote.
I'll look for it.

I just started to listen to LotR on audible. I haven't read the books in a very long time. The audio is easier to take in that I am not forced to read the songs - the narrator does a reasonable job of singing them with traditional folk-song melodies. Now entering the town of Bree. Many adventures ahead. :)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Ah.hell on August 02, 2016, 12:45:42 PM

The elements of racism and sexism that appeared are forgivable in that I believe the author was actually pretty progressive, considering the time in which he wrote.
I've read a lot of old sci fi and its often that way.  In some ways it was progressive just to have a female character other than a damsel in distress or a minority that isn't a villain but even the most progress stuff from 1950 is odd reading and sometimes stuff into the 70s is....weird that way.

Of course my favorite is that in 1960, everybody in 2050 is smoking all the time.  I'm surprised they didn't smoke on Star Trek. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: stonesean on August 02, 2016, 01:10:12 PM
Colossus - D.F. Jones - 9/10

Recommended by somebody here... I had to order off of Amazon, as I believe it's out of print, but I found a nice-looking first edition for my shelves.  ;D

Extremely quick read for me, I really got sucked in. Not a spoiler, as the book opens by stating the premise: future (from 1966) US scientists have invented AI, which they put autonomously in charge of national defense as a final solution to the cold war. (not all goes as planned, DUN DUN DUN) The story was very well thought out, the author had intelligent and creative ideas about the future, and the plot was suspenseful and engaging for me. Recommend for anybody at all into the scifi genre.

The elements of racism and sexism that appeared are forgivable in that I believe the author was actually pretty progressive, considering the time in which he wrote.
I'll look for it.

I just started to listen to LotR on audible. I haven't read the books in a very long time. The audio is easier to take in that I am not forced to read the songs - the narrator does a reasonable job of singing them with traditional folk-song melodies. Now entering the town of Bree. Many adventures ahead. :)

That first section of "Fellowship..." F*ck my life.  You just got through the brutal part of the books.  The rest of the series is such a rich reward for plodding through endless interminable walking.  I wonder how many people never made it to Weathertop, because they were sick of hearing about hillbillies wandering around.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on August 02, 2016, 01:15:20 PM
That first section of "Fellowship..." F*ck my life.  You just got through the brutal part of the books.  The rest of the series is such a rich reward for plodding through endless interminable walking.  I wonder how many people never made it to Weathertop, because they were sick of hearing about hillbillies wandering around.

Yeah, it really only works once you're already a fan.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on August 02, 2016, 09:32:36 PM

The elements of racism and sexism that appeared are forgivable in that I believe the author was actually pretty progressive, considering the time in which he wrote.
I've read a lot of old sci fi and its often that way.  In some ways it was progressive just to have a female character other than a damsel in distress or a minority that isn't a villain but even the most progress stuff from 1950 is odd reading and sometimes stuff into the 70s is....weird that way.

Yep, this is definitely up that alley.

Quote
Of course my favorite is that in 1960, everybody in 2050 is smoking all the time.  I'm surprised they didn't smoke on Star Trek.

Still blows my mind how (literally) unbelievable the cell phone must have been... all sorts of incredible tech was imagined, yet few (if anybody) came up with a cell phone-like device. Oh, and the "the better the computer the bigger it gets" rule.  :laugh:

Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on August 04, 2016, 10:32:59 PM
The Passage of Power (Years of Lyndon Johnson #4) by Robert Caro - 8/10

Too bad this thing called "Vietnam" happened in the 1960s.  If you tell the story of Lyndon Johnson and stop in 1965, he comes off looking pretty goddamn amazing.  Robert Caro's final volume in his epic LBJ biographies has yet to be published and I'm not sure if I want to put myself through his plunge into disgrace.

This volume focuses on three phases of Johnson's career:   the 1960 Democratic Convention, his tenure as vice president, and his fight for the Civil Rights bill immediately after becoming president.  The only reason I can't give this book a higher rating is the vice president stuff is just too depressing to enjoy.  Despite the fact this was one of the most cordial versions of LBJ that ever existed, it really is like watching a race horse limp around on a broken leg for 3 years.  All of his talents that were honed in the Senate are basically ignored by JFK, and Bobby Kennedy is on a perpetual campaign to strip him of what few responsibilities he retains.  There's some new book about Bobby Kennedy I heard about that I'm going to have to check out, because he turns out to be the far more interesting Kennedy brother.

The reason to read this book is the coverage of the 1964 Civil Rights Bill.  Or more accurately, the coverage of the 1964 Tax Bill, because the Civil Rights Bill would have gone nowhere if Johnson didn't know how to pull the strings on the tax bill that preceded it in the House and Senate.  Johnson is aware of the 40 year history of economic bills being held hostage in the Senate, yet somehow leverages specific portions of each bill to get the other one to move forward in the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the Appropriations Committee .... and in the exact order that he wants them to.  This is an even more impressive accomplishment when you consider how inept the liberal wing of the Democratic party was compared to their Southern brethren and the moderate Republicans of the time.  Johnson threatens to hurt the very business that funded his early political campaigns in order to cajole other Texas politicians to fall in line.  He tells James Webb to dangle NASA contracts in front of a Senator in exchange for fast-tracking a bill out of commitee.  He convinces uber-conservative Harry Byrd to rebrand the Kennedy tax bill as his own, and the combined pride and clout of Byrd pushes it forward.

You can get an equally impressive story of the much forgotten 1957 Civil Rights Bill in Caro's previous book on Johnson.  The basic political lesson is the same.  Idealism, knowledge, personality, and honesty are necessary components of progressive political action, but they are NOT what ultimately delivers the goods.  What Lyndon Johnson understood better than Kennedy (perhaps better than any American president) was the process of how laws are made.  For a decade he saw Southern Senators purposely avoid bills they didn't like because they knew more about how to lean on people, and they knew how Senate procedures worked than anyone else.  So he beat them at their own game.



Overall I give the entire Years of Lyndon Johnson series a strong 9/10.  After 2800 pages you'd think I could make up my mind as to whether he was a "good" or "bad" influence on the world of politics, but I'm still on the fence.  The one thing I have discovered is that as I become more frustrated with completely corrupt politicians, I gain respect for people that are willing to get their hands just a little bit messy to get the job done.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on August 06, 2016, 11:20:44 AM
So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson 6/10

This is the only Jon Ronson book I havent really enjoyed. The disconnect is massive.
It feels like he started with the idea and realised there wasnt much there when he actually went to write the book. If you have heard him pitch the book and heard the anecdote about that woman who told the AIDS joke then you pretty much have everything of interest from the book. Theres no real surprises, none of the usual flip of expectation you get with Ronson. Its just a story about how the internet makes people sad and how public misunderstanding can ruin a persons life.
There is a really interesting bit at the start though where he talks about his experience with a spambot using his name. He talks about interviewing the academics who made the spambot and the exchange really rang through as false to me. And thats something Ive often gotten from Ronson, that his interactions seem TOO perfect for the story he is telling.
So I youtubed the interview and I was amazed! Ronson had recreated it perfectly and if anything had been kinder to the subjects in his book than the truth had been on the video! It put my reservations aside and made me think he probably just is that good of an interviewer, which is why he is so successful!

Overall though I didnt enjoy the book. It makes its point very early and just kind of meanders after that. I feel like he could have made it far more interesting and less pearl clutchy if he had focused on virtue signalling instead, which seems to be the real issue behind the incidents he is trying to highlight.

Especially frustrating was his building up of the Stanford Prison experiment and the subsequent pulling of the rug. Im sure some of the readers were unaware of the controversy but for someone who wasnt, the bait and switch was very tedious.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Redamare on August 06, 2016, 12:40:10 PM
I had a totally different experience. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

I think you have something there with virtue signalling , but I think in a sense hypercritical. I consider So You've Been Publicly Shamed to be a necessary part of the conversation progressing to the point we can consider the connection to virtue signalling. I think we needed to digest what he had to say first.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on August 06, 2016, 05:38:31 PM
I had a totally different experience. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

I think you have something there with virtue signalling , but I think in a sense hypercritical. I consider So You've Been Publicly Shamed to be a necessary part of the conversation progressing to the point we can consider the connection to virtue signalling. I think we needed to digest what he had to say first.
Thats the thing. I dont think he had all that much to say. He was basically just railing against a human trait that he himself traces and points out in every aspect of life throughout history.
His whole tact felt like a misdiagnosis and an over the top appeal to emotion.
I actually think you (Redamare) have more interesting things to say about it than Ronson does.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Redamare on August 06, 2016, 10:20:31 PM
I appreciate that. But, I definitely picked something up from him. Maybe there isn't a whole lot there for all of the word count, but what was there was worth hearing.

I do think he gets credit for articulating something that needed articulating. Maybe timing was a factor. I wouldn't rule out a bit of Seinfeld syndrome, where the original material looks tacky or tedious compared to what it's inspired people (not meaning myself) to produce after the fact. A more sophisticated copy/evolving conversation.

When did you read it?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on August 07, 2016, 08:12:39 AM
I appreciate that. But, I definitely picked something up from him. Maybe there isn't a whole lot there for all of the word count, but what was there was worth hearing.

I do think he gets credit for articulating something that needed articulating. Maybe timing was a factor. I wouldn't rule out a bit of Seinfeld syndrome, where the original material looks tacky or tedious compared to what it's inspired people (not meaning myself) to produce after the fact. A more sophisticated copy/evolving conversation.

When did you read it?
I just posted my review an hour after finishing it.

I duno, I just felt like he was barking up the wrong tree (virtue signalling being more of a worthy topic for the problems he described)  and was drawing from too broad a definition in order to up the word count.
He had a few genuinely interesting anecdotes but just attacked from the wrong angle and it made it all feel like a waste of time to me.
I will admit though that Im a person generally lacking in sympathy so perhaps more emotional (I dont mean that negatively) people would find more in there than I did.

In fact, when he showed the transcript from that rape case, I was pretty furious and was asking myself "Why isnt the book about this bullshit?"
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on August 07, 2016, 02:42:06 PM
"The End of Growth", Richard Heinberg, 8/10.  More doomsaying; I love it.  Well thought out, well written but pretty much what I already know.  A tad dated as it was written before fracking made such (temporary) an impact on oil price.  Worth a read.  Now onto "Greenpeace Captain".
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on August 20, 2016, 09:30:57 AM
Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany.

MC Escher/10

I honestly don't know what the hell I just read.

Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: starnado on August 20, 2016, 04:26:42 PM
Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany.

MC Escher/10

I honestly don't know what the hell I just read.
I have been tempted to read it many times. I enjoyed "Stars in my pocket like grains of sand" but I had heard that Dhalgren was, erm, challenging. Did you actually enjoy it at all?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on August 20, 2016, 05:03:56 PM
Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany.

MC Escher/10

I honestly don't know what the hell I just read.
I have been tempted to read it many times. I enjoyed "Stars in my pocket like grains of sand" but I had heard that Dhalgren was, erm, challenging. Did you actually enjoy it at all?
I don't know. I kind of feel like I did after Finnegan's Wake. It's like a literary mugging, you end up going, "WTF just happened?"
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on August 20, 2016, 05:53:37 PM
81 Days Below Zeroby Brian Murphy   4/10
This book documents the experience of an MIT graduate (and frat bro of Richard Feynman) who joined the army air corps and had to eject on a routine flight over Alaska. With no wilderness training, only one boyscout camping trip of outdoor experience, no gloves, a pocket knife, a box of matches and his parachute, he survived as long as the title suggests and through a turn of remarkable luck, emerged in pretty good condition!
http://www.newsminer.com/features/sundays/marooned-soldier-survived--mile-walk-in-the-subarctic-after/article_8fa781da-2b0e-59cb-99bd-f42df3fb410b.html
This article is a really good account of his story, but I would not recommend the book at all.
I think Murphy may have realised that although amazing, Cranes story was rather short. And so we are treated to extended sections of speculative fiction about the mailman who delivered the news to Cranes parents that he was missing and similar works for the relatives of his fellow crew members.
We also have to hear the entire biographies and military history of each and every prominant person involved in the rescue as well as the history from founding of every town and village involved in the story. At times it actually felt like the whole thing was some sort of joke being played straight and I felt like a huge amount of my time was utterly wasted with Murphy indulging his love of prose.
So- Amazing story, check it out.
Terrible book. Avoid it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on August 21, 2016, 12:14:34 AM
Thanks for the review, that's one I definitely would have read, and would have been extremely bothered for the same reasons you were...
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on August 22, 2016, 07:09:35 AM
Thanks for the review, that's one I definitely would have read, and would have been extremely bothered for the same reasons you were...
Yeah. I was very disappointed because I was turned on to it by a radio interview with the author, who was very engaging and enthusiastic so I was really eager to read it.
Ah well, Im glad I learned about it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on August 22, 2016, 06:06:08 PM
Colossus - D.F. Jones - 9/10

Recommended by somebody here... I had to order off of Amazon, as I believe it's out of print, but I found a nice-looking first edition for my shelves.  ;D

Extremely quick read for me, I really got sucked in. Not a spoiler, as the book opens by stating the premise: future (from 1966) US scientists have invented AI, which they put autonomously in charge of national defense as a final solution to the cold war. (not all goes as planned, DUN DUN DUN) The story was very well thought out, the author had intelligent and creative ideas about the future, and the plot was suspenseful and engaging for me. Recommend for anybody at all into the scifi genre.

The elements of racism and sexism that appeared are forgivable in that I believe the author was actually pretty progressive, considering the time in which he wrote.

Made into a movie, of course. Pretty good decades ago, but kinda dated now. I enjoyed both.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Skeptress on August 29, 2016, 11:18:12 PM
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. 10/10 (or close to it).  It made my heart hurt and I had to set it down a few times.  But there were times when I couldn't help say out loud, "Exactly!!"
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Smooth on September 12, 2016, 11:05:42 AM
I was looking for a hist-fic on Rome, but not the usual Caesar-centric fare.  I found it in "The New Man of Rome" which tells the story of the very beginning of the fall of the Republic.

Part history, part Downton Abbey, the author brings the characters a live with enormous detail of life in ancient times.  The series is a back breaker, very large and long, but I am on the 6th book which focuses on Caesar.  Highly recommended. The author wrote "The Thornbirds." A former neuropathologist, her writing is steady, detailed and leaves few loose ends.

https://www.amazon.com/First-Man-Rome-Masters/dp/0061582417
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: starnado on September 13, 2016, 02:05:02 PM
The Golem and the Djinni 9.5/10

Audiobook version, read by George Guidall.
A golem and a djinn both end up in New York at the turn of the last century. Their intertwined stories are the very definition of bittersweet. I found it enthralling, enchanting and delightful. A really wonderful tale and beautifully told by George Guidall whose voice is like honey on hot sand. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on September 14, 2016, 03:25:55 PM
The Golem and the Djinni 9.5/10

Audiobook version, read by George Guidall.
A golem and a djinn both end up in New York at the turn of the last century. Their intertwined stories are the very definition of bittersweet. I found it enthralling, enchanting and delightful. A really wonderful tale and beautifully told by George Guidall whose voice is like honey on hot sand. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Read the book over a year ago....just a wow.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Louie on September 17, 2016, 02:41:31 PM
I was looking for a hist-fic on Rome, but not the usual Caesar-centric fare.  I found it in "The New Man of Rome" which tells the story of the very beginning of the fall of the Republic.
https://www.amazon.com/First-Man-Rome-Masters/dp/0061582417

Thanks for the tip! In return I can recommend the 'Marcus Didius Falco' series by Lindsay Davis. It's a detective series that manages to evoke beautifully (and with much humour) how a 'normal Roman' would've lived in the time of Vespasian.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on September 21, 2016, 02:01:18 PM
Novella.  Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor

Very enjoyable.  I particularly recommend it to panda - I think it's right up your alley.

Blurb from tor.com inside spoiler tags.

(click to show/hide)

Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on September 21, 2016, 07:02:27 PM
I'm almost done with "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell. It's changing the way I think about... well, almost everything.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: superdave on September 21, 2016, 07:34:54 PM
The Dark Tower VII

(first reread)
Definitely the best of the final 3. There just this amazing sense of finality and loss before the ending that may or may not piss you off.  I liked it.

Thus concludes my first full reread of the entire series (though I reread books 1-4 at least 3 times)
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Redamare on September 21, 2016, 08:14:08 PM
Really? I thought 5 was fine, on a par with 2 & 3. I wouldn't say 6 & 7 were bad, but I thought there were some very questionable decisions made, there. The Gunslinger was quite good, and 4 was fucking amazing.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on September 24, 2016, 08:55:47 AM
Fools Assassin 6/10
Im a massive Robin Hobb fan but this book is certainly the weakest in the FitzChivalry series.
It is drawn out over more than 10 years and very little actually happens. We are introduced to characters who dont go anywhere despite having allusions to other things for them and all in all the book is quite dull, focusing on life in a wealthy country estate and what its like to be a precocious child who doesnt fit in.
When things do come to a head, it happens so suddenly that it feels really unsatisfying.

If the next book is really good, then all the set up will of course have been worth it, but as a novel in its own right, I didnt really enjoy reading it.
I recommend a good refresher on the other books before starting because very little doesnt get referenced.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on October 08, 2016, 07:32:07 AM
Fool's Quest 7/10
I enjoyed this one more than the last, but it is still very much lacking in the same ways.
Theres a couple of bits where Fitz is actually proactive but its mostly moping around castles and hand wringing.
I dont like when characters act irrationally and the explanation is- They are a parent.
Its Robin Hobb so its still more readable than most books in the fantasy genre.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: nameofthewave on October 08, 2016, 02:53:50 PM
No one left to lie to by Christopher Hitchens. 8/10.

I wasn't sure whether to put this in the politics thread but anyway... I know loads of people are reading this at the moment but its one that has been on my list for quite a while, and I wanted to understand a bit more about the background to the current US elections and especially why Hilary Clinton is so unpopular. This is a relatively old book, originally published around 1999/2000, so obviously Hitchens focus is on the (then) outgoing Bill Clinton as President and his legacy. I have to admit I'm not a massive fan of Hitchens' writing style (as opposed to his oratory) and I found some passages a little difficult to follow, especially as I was listening to the audiobook, but nevertheless Hitchens does not hold back at all: this is a damning indictment of Bill Clinton, both from a political and moral perspective, and pretty much shattered my previous perception of him as a flawed but basically good President. Hilary's complicity in some matters is touched upon and although it would never convert me to thinking Trump is the better choice it just left me feeling sad for the state of US politics right now.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on October 08, 2016, 07:26:35 PM
Ok Harry Black, I came around a bit and finished it...

Ready Player One
7/10

I hope to god this was a YA novel, because the writing was about that level. The climax at the end wasn't very satisfying, but by the end I was rooting for the main characters and getting misty eyed. I found the 80s references to be very, very surface and way too obvious, but then again the character they patterned that after could have been me: everything he loved, I loved as a kid. I have the exact pop culture vocabulary he had, the main difference being I branched away in my skater years going into the 90s to listen to metal and punk, otherwise I understood 99% of the references.

Can't wait to see what Spielberg does with the movie! This may be his comeback after some meh films.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on October 08, 2016, 11:29:36 PM
Eight Little Piggies  by Stephen Jay Gould - 9/10

My fifth Gould book?  Haven't found a bad one yet.  The themes here are fairly repetitive, but I always like seeing the examples he gives and questions presented.  Are marine invertebrates more resistant to extinction than other animal species?  Is there a fundamental evolutionary reason why most mammals have five digits (or why humans have two nipples?)  Was Archbishop Ussher's infamous calculation about the Earth beginning in 4004 BC a sign of fundamentalist buffoonery, or something worthy of more intellectual respect?


Also finished up The Comedians by Graham Greene.  Watching a supposedly democratic country fall apart after a completely unqualified psychopath seizes power is not at all relevant to current events.  Nope.  Can't be.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on October 09, 2016, 02:47:14 PM
Eight Little Piggies  by Stephen Jay Gould - 9/10. My fifth Gould book?  Haven't found a bad one yet.  T

You haven't read a few of his last efforts, then.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: starnado on October 09, 2016, 03:26:25 PM
I have nearly finished Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. A slow burner that burrowed inside my brain and proceeded to do unspeakable things in the gentlest of voices, all the while referencing classic literature and music. I am not yet sure what rating to give it but I have certainly enjoyed it for the most part, in spite of the uncomfortable themes of incest and such. One of the main protagonists, a hero of sorts, has a mild form of learning disability. I work with people with learning disabilities so I love to see them represented in literature (for entirely narcissistic reasons probably). 

I will check out his other works.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on October 11, 2016, 12:05:53 PM
I have nearly finished Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. A slow burner that burrowed slowly inside my brain and proceeded to do unspeakable things in the gentlest of voices, all the while referencing classic literature and music. I am not yet sure what rating to give it but I have certainly enjoyed it for the most part, in spite of the uncomfortable themes of incest and such. One of the main protagonists, a hero of sorts, has a mild form of learning disability. I work with people with learning disabilities so I love to see them represented in literature (for entirely narcissistic reasons probably). 

I will check out his other works.

I have read nearly every book Murakami has written. All his books have this slow, methodical resonance. I want to recommend one to you so bad, but I want you to have the joy of finding it for yourself and realizing, "this is the one". Reading his books is such a singular joy for me. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: starnado on October 11, 2016, 12:25:50 PM
I have nearly finished Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. A slow burner that burrowed slowly inside my brain and proceeded to do unspeakable things in the gentlest of voices, all the while referencing classic literature and music. I am not yet sure what rating to give it but I have certainly enjoyed it for the most part, in spite of the uncomfortable themes of incest and such. One of the main protagonists, a hero of sorts, has a mild form of learning disability. I work with people with learning disabilities so I love to see them represented in literature (for entirely narcissistic reasons probably). 

I will check out his other works.

I have read nearly every book Murakami has written. All his books have this slow, methodical resonance. I want to recommend one to you so bad, but I want you to have the joy of finding it for yourself and realizing, "this is the one". Reading his books is such a singular joy for me. 
I am going to read/listen to The Wind-up Bird Chronicles next. My audible credit is available on the fifteenth each month. I am in the last chapters of Kafka on the Shore.

His work is structured like one of those wooden puzzles with intricately interlocking pieces. At times there is a metafictional self-awareness as if the characters are dimly aware that they are in a book, such as when they talk about fate and destiny, or when they discuss the use of symbolism in art and literature. It gave me shivers. I am a sucker for that stuff.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Louie on October 13, 2016, 12:03:46 PM
Darktown by Thomas Mullen
9/10

A thriller starring the first black policemen in Atlanta in 1948. They didn't get to drive cruisers, arrest white people or set foot in the police headquarters - being based in the cellar of the local YMCA instead - and were confined to working the night shift in black neighbourhoods, their white colleagues actively working to make them fail. And if anyone ever saw them drink any alcohol, ever, they'd be out on their asses. It was a time when introducing anti-lynching legislation was too controversial to pass.

Reverend's son Lucius Boggs and former soldier Tommy Smith have the makings of an excellent and memorable duo. The former has been insulated from a lot of Jim Crow-era bullshit through his upbringing as a member of the nascent black middle class, while the latter is a war hero from the wrong side of the tracks. They're forced to shoulder the great hopes of the early civil rights movement, their growing disillusionment about how much good they're actually able to do and the animosity of the whites - and of many of the black community they police, who see them as sellouts.

Darktown isn't an easy read. The book is set at the height of Jim Crow, and the unflinching depictions of the extreme nastiness that entails made my skin want to crawl right off on more than one occasion. But the protagonists' uphill battle to solve the murder of a young black girl is tense, riveting and ultimately very worthwhile, and the characters are three-dimensional, with credible inner lives and motivations. Next to Boggs and Smith, there's a corrupt, middle-aged old-school white cop, whose racist views become more understandable (albeit not less nasty), and his rookie partner, also white, who has to make some tough choices between being accepted by his colleagues and his growing awareness of the injustices of Jim Crow.

I could write and write about how much I liked this book, but you should really just check it out for yourselves. Current events make it especially relevant. For me, it made the distrust many  minorities feel towards law enforcement far more tangible. I really hope Mullen will write a sequel, because I'd like to see more of Boggs and Smith.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: fuzzyMarmot on October 16, 2016, 02:02:30 AM
I have nearly finished Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. A slow burner that burrowed slowly inside my brain and proceeded to do unspeakable things in the gentlest of voices, all the while referencing classic literature and music. I am not yet sure what rating to give it but I have certainly enjoyed it for the most part, in spite of the uncomfortable themes of incest and such. One of the main protagonists, a hero of sorts, has a mild form of learning disability. I work with people with learning disabilities so I love to see them represented in literature (for entirely narcissistic reasons probably). 

I will check out his other works.

I have read nearly every book Murakami has written. All his books have this slow, methodical resonance. I want to recommend one to you so bad, but I want you to have the joy of finding it for yourself and realizing, "this is the one". Reading his books is such a singular joy for me. 
I am going to read/listen to The Wind-up Bird Chronicles next. My audible credit is available on the fifteenth each month. I am in the last chapters of Kafka on the Shore.

His work is structured like one of those wooden puzzles with intricately interlocking pieces. At times there is a metafictional self-awareness as if the characters are dimly aware that they are in a book, such as when they talk about fate and destiny, or when they discuss the use of symbolism in art and literature. It gave me shivers. I am a sucker for that stuff.

A few years ago I listened to The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles while moving to a new city in the middle of winter. Moving to a new place and not knowing anyone was made me feel a little alienated. Doing it while listening to this book just magnified that. It is a great book, but great in a unsettling way. I hope that you are in a better place than I was when you listen to it!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: brilligtove on October 19, 2016, 11:35:52 AM
Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow, narrated by Scott Brick

This is a fascinating study of the life of Washington. The intent is to humanize him, and show his character as a man. It is well read and paints a fascinating picture of the man and his time.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Louie on October 23, 2016, 12:16:54 PM
The Alienist, Caleb Carr
8/10

Carr himself calls this a 'whydunnit' rather than a 'whodunnit'. It's a gripping read about an 'off the books' investigation into a serial killer in fin de siècle New York, using newfangled methods of profiling and crime scene investigation. Layered and likeable characters (including none other than Theodore Roosevelt, famous from Civilization VI) and a plot that runs from the glitterati in the Metropolitan Opera House to recent immigrants in grimy tenements.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on October 28, 2016, 04:50:02 PM
"Greenpeace Captain", Peter Willcox.  8/10. 

Not amazing writing and it could have been a bit shorter.  It made me realise that I have not done much in my life for the planet, nor have I had the most adventurous life imaginable.  This man has the responsibility of looking after  ships full of crew and projects around the world that are mostly to raise awareness of humans in general of how the Earth could be a better place, without resorting to violence or physical damage.  Pretty amazing, really. 

Kiwis have a serious connection with Greenpeace and the French nuclear weapons programme in the South Pacific; that is the first chapter.  He also details his arrests by Russians for demonstrating against oil drilling in the Arctic.

I liked it, but I wouldn't rave about it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: superdave on November 04, 2016, 05:56:39 PM
Year 0

6.5 / 10
Aliens who love earth music realize they suddenly owe the Earth literally all the money in the Universe. The plot and story are very clever, and I really liked the resolution.  Most of the solutions to the various problems the heroes face are very believable and do not feel like deus ex machina moments. 

Unfortunately, the humor fell flat for me and the writing style is pretty amateurish but I give it a lukewarm recommendation.  It's heart is in the right place and does a lot right.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on December 02, 2016, 12:07:31 AM
The Stand by Stephen King - 6/10
Pretty sure King's editors were right on this one.  I read the unabridged version, and while it had it's moments,  I could see an easy 400 pages of fat that could be trimmed down. Several very memorable characters (Nick, Frannie, Trashcanman), and a lot of really bland ones that are suddenly elevated to hero status towards the end of the book.  Disease stuff at the beginning is over the top but exciting.


Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind The Secret Plan To Steal America's Democracy by David Daley - 9/10
After a crippling plague has swept the United States and left our country in shambles, an evil band of plotters form to further inflict pain on .... oh no wait, I'm mixing up my reviews.  This book is about something much worse -Republicans funneling national political funds into local campaigns and essentially buying up extra Congressional seats from gerrymandering.  Covers the basic strategies of how the Maptitude software package has given politicians a nearly infallible tool to split up competitive districts, and then goes into the details of changes after 2010 for eight different states.  I really loved/hated this book, although you can get about 75% of the content from the author's interview on Fresh Air from last summer (which is where I first heard about it).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: superdave on December 02, 2016, 04:18:51 AM
Beacon 23
Hugh Howdy
8/10

His writing continues to improve. If you liked wool you will enjoy this. It is similar to the Martian in that it mostly concerns a lone solitairy character, but you have an unreliable narrator.  It covers a lot of topics like PTSD, the value of war, the importance of human contact. But he doesn't quite know to end the story, so I couldn't give it a better score.  Howdy though seems to have found his niche, he is great at stories with some sort of claustrophobic element.  A lot of the story is internal dislodge that feels very believable despite taking place in a fictional future.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: stonesean on December 02, 2016, 08:17:19 AM
Beacon 23
Hugh Howdy
8/10

His writing continues to improve. If you liked wool you will enjoy this. It is similar to the Martian in that it mostly concerns a lone solitairy character, but you have an unreliable narrator.  It covers a lot of topics like PTSD, the value of war, the importance of human contact. But he doesn't quite know to end the story, so I couldn't give it a better score.  Howdy though seems to have found his niche, he is great at stories with some sort of claustrophobic element.  A lot of the story is internal dislodge that feels very believable despite taking place in a fictional future.

Hugh Howey is REALLY entertaining.  I can't wait for his  "Silo"  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silo_(series)) series to be ruined by a bunch of feature films.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: superdave on December 02, 2016, 09:10:31 AM
Beacon 23
Hugh Howdy
8/10

His writing continues to improve. If you liked wool you will enjoy this. It is similar to the Martian in that it mostly concerns a lone solitairy character, but you have an unreliable narrator.  It covers a lot of topics like PTSD, the value of war, the importance of human contact. But he doesn't quite know to end the story, so I couldn't give it a better score.  Howdy though seems to have found his niche, he is great at stories with some sort of claustrophobic element.  A lot of the story is internal dislodge that feels very believable despite taking place in a fictional future.

Hugh Howey is REALLY entertaining.  I can't wait for his  "Silo"  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silo_(series)) series to be ruined by a bunch of feature films.

I apologize to Mr.  Howey for my autocorrect.
Howey has a great imagination and is a good story teller, he is just still a bit raw and amateurish as a writer.  However as I say he continues to get better.  I also read Halfway Home, which was not as good as Beacon 23 but was probably the first story I've ever read told from the point of a view of a gay main character, and I really respect howey for that.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on December 02, 2016, 10:17:33 AM
Beacon 23
Hugh Howdy
8/10

His writing continues to improve. If you liked wool you will enjoy this. It is similar to the Martian in that it mostly concerns a lone solitairy character, but you have an unreliable narrator.  It covers a lot of topics like PTSD, the value of war, the importance of human contact. But he doesn't quite know to end the story, so I couldn't give it a better score.  Howdy though seems to have found his niche, he is great at stories with some sort of claustrophobic element.  A lot of the story is internal dislodge that feels very believable despite taking place in a fictional future.

Hugh Howey is REALLY entertaining.  I can't wait for his  "Silo"  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silo_(series)) series to be ruined by a bunch of feature films.

I apologize to Mr.  Howey for my autocorrect.
Howey has a great imagination and is a good story teller, he is just still a bit raw and amateurish as a writer.  However as I say he continues to get better.  I also read Halfway Home, which was not as good as Beacon 23 but was probably the first story I've ever read told from the point of a view of a gay main character, and I really respect howey for that.

I've read almost everything Howey has written with the exception of Molly Feid, the autobiographical stuff, and a couple of short stories..

I didn't care for Halfway Home. Sand is really fun too, but not as good as Silo or Beacon.

He has some really great short stories. The Plagiarist is my favorite of all of them. Promioses of London, The Hurricane, The Walk up Nameless Ridge, Second Suicide, Glitch.. I'd recommend his short stories in that order.

I hated The Shell Collector. It has an environmentalist message that I really wanted to like, but it's just not good.

Another interesting thing to note for Silo fans: There's a prequel to the prequel of sorts that can be found in each book of The Apocalypse Triptych (https://www.amazon.com/End-Nigh-Apocalypse-Triptych-Book-ebook/dp/B00IAT49JQ/ref=la_B002RX4S5Q_1_12?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1480691777&sr=1-12&refinements=p_82%3AB002RX4S5Q). It's a fun expansion of the Silo universe.
I
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on December 05, 2016, 09:45:33 AM
Armada 5/10
Big step down from Ready Player One by the same author.
An homage to the likes of The Last Star Fighter where gamers are recruited for an intergalactic war.
It just leans too heavily on pop culture references and quotes. In RPO, that was the point and a key part of the story. Here it just feels like the book is made of meber berries.
The plot and dialogue arent all that great either and the main romantic storyline is so unbelievable that it just should have been ditched.
Its an easy read but not good enough to warrant the time imo.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on December 05, 2016, 01:19:04 PM
Armada 5/10
Big step down from Ready Player One by the same author.
An homage to the likes of The Last Star Fighter where gamers are recruited for an intergalactic war.
It just leans too heavily on pop culture references and quotes. In RPO, that was the point and a key part of the story. Here it just feels like the book is made of meber berries.
The plot and dialogue arent all that great either and the main romantic storyline is so unbelievable that it just should have been ditched.
Its an easy read but not good enough to warrant the time imo.
Hahahaha I would have written the same review for Ready Player One! Though once I got over my criticisms I did enjoy the ride. I take it this wasn't as satisfying, or was it just too much of the same?  ;D
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on December 06, 2016, 09:16:03 AM
Armada 5/10
Big step down from Ready Player One by the same author.
An homage to the likes of The Last Star Fighter where gamers are recruited for an intergalactic war.
It just leans too heavily on pop culture references and quotes. In RPO, that was the point and a key part of the story. Here it just feels like the book is made of meber berries.
The plot and dialogue arent all that great either and the main romantic storyline is so unbelievable that it just should have been ditched.
Its an easy read but not good enough to warrant the time imo.
Hahahaha I would have written the same review for Ready Player One! Though once I got over my criticisms I did enjoy the ride. I take it this wasn't as satisfying, or was it just too much of the same?  ;D
You DID make the same criticisms of RPO! I couldnt stop thinking of your opinions as I read this and I thought they applied much more so here!
It wasnt as satisfying but thats because the very lynch pin of the plot was not based on references so they all felt forced.

Cameos from Hawking, DeGrasse Tyson, Carl Sagan and fucking Michio Kaku just felt insulting.
That aside, the writing was just weaker. There were huge emotional beats where our only indicator was "When I stopped screaming...."
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on December 06, 2016, 11:24:59 AM
I just finished a reread of Richar Wranghams "Catching Fire".  10/10.  An amazing hypothesis.  Published work, presented at AAS and a book written for the interested layman.  The final (epilog) was particularly poignant for the ancestral eater, like myself.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Louie on December 06, 2016, 02:48:49 PM
Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow 9/10

A few years after the Russian Revolution, the young Count Alexander Rostov is put under lifelong house arrest in the fancy Hotel Metropol in Moscow for being 'an unrepentant aristocrat'. (He is forced to trade in his luxurious suite for a tiny service room on the top floor.) True to the title of the book, Rostov is an honest to goodness gentleman of the old stripe, who decides to bear his confinement with equanimity and grace. For the first years, he mainly occupies himself with gourmet food and drink, but when a precocious 9 year-old girl crosses his path, an unlikely friendship is formed - one that will have great repercussions for the Count.

This novel is a delight. It's light and gentle, but stuck with me long after I read the last page. It's about, among many other things, getting a Marseillaise bouillabaisse just right, being assaulted in a barbershop, an incident with geese and a Bolshevik elite that is settling remarkably well into a lavish lifestyle. But mainly it's about a gentleman, a proper old-school one. "The Count had restricted himself to two succinct pieces of parental advice. The first was that if one did not master one’s circumstances, one was bound to be mastered by them; and the second was Montaigne’s maxim that the surest sign of wisdom is constant cheerfulness."
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on December 08, 2016, 12:15:58 PM
Armada 5/10
Big step down from Ready Player One by the same author.
An homage to the likes of The Last Star Fighter where gamers are recruited for an intergalactic war.
It just leans too heavily on pop culture references and quotes. In RPO, that was the point and a key part of the story. Here it just feels like the book is made of meber berries.
The plot and dialogue arent all that great either and the main romantic storyline is so unbelievable that it just should have been ditched.
Its an easy read but not good enough to warrant the time imo.
Hahahaha I would have written the same review for Ready Player One! Though once I got over my criticisms I did enjoy the ride. I take it this wasn't as satisfying, or was it just too much of the same?  ;D
You DID make the same criticisms of RPO! I couldnt stop thinking of your opinions as I read this and I thought they applied much more so here!
It wasnt as satisfying but thats because the very lynch pin of the plot was not based on references so they all felt forced.

Cameos from Hawking, DeGrasse Tyson, Carl Sagan and fucking Michio Kaku just felt insulting.
That aside, the writing was just weaker. There were huge emotional beats where our only indicator was "When I stopped screaming...."

Have to agree. I enjoyed RPO immensely, but Armada was just a catastrophe.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on December 08, 2016, 12:19:48 PM
The Fate of the Tearling (https://smile.amazon.com/Fate-Tearling-Novel-Queen/dp/0062290428/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481217379&sr=8-1&keywords=fate+of+the+tearling) by Erika Johansen.

Third book of the Tearling Trilogy. Not done with it yet, but I can already give it another 10/10 just like the other two books. If you like fantasy writing at all you will love these books.

I'm begging you folks to read them, I want to bring joy into your lives.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on December 08, 2016, 12:22:33 PM
Have to agree. I enjoyed RPO immensely, but Armada was just a catastrophe.

Haven't read Armada myself, but the big social media noise within my circle leading up to it followed by the dead silence post release echoes loudly.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on December 09, 2016, 03:23:38 AM
"Gratitude", Oliver Sacks.  Lovely short book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on December 12, 2016, 02:37:53 PM
Paul Beatty - The Sellout

Caustic, abrasive racial satire set in North America. Slick and witty and hilarious.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Neutral Milk on December 12, 2016, 03:22:25 PM
The Fate of the Tearling (https://smile.amazon.com/Fate-Tearling-Novel-Queen/dp/0062290428/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481217379&sr=8-1&keywords=fate+of+the+tearling) by Erika Johansen.

Third book of the Tearling Trilogy. Not done with it yet, but I can already give it another 10/10 just like the other two books. If you like fantasy writing at all you will love these books.

I'm begging you folks to read them, I want to bring joy into your lives.

Just so you know this didn't fall on entirely deaf ears I've picked up the first book. I read fiction reeeaaallllly slow (just a few pages before I fall asleep) so it'll take me a while to let you know what I thought. So far it's enjoyable enough to where I decided to buy the full book after reading the sample!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: daniel1948 on December 12, 2016, 06:40:54 PM
The Fate of the Tearling (https://smile.amazon.com/Fate-Tearling-Novel-Queen/dp/0062290428/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481217379&sr=8-1&keywords=fate+of+the+tearling) by Erika Johansen.

Third book of the Tearling Trilogy. Not done with it yet, but I can already give it another 10/10 just like the other two books. If you like fantasy writing at all you will love these books.

I'm begging you folks to read them, I want to bring joy into your lives.

Just so you know this didn't fall on entirely deaf ears I've picked up the first book. I read fiction reeeaaallllly slow (just a few pages before I fall asleep) so it'll take me a while to let you know what I thought. So far it's enjoyable enough to where I decided to buy the full book after reading the sample!

I've just downloaded the sample. Might be a while before I get to it because there are a few other books and samples already downloaded.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: starnado on December 13, 2016, 10:58:37 AM
The Fate of the Tearling (https://smile.amazon.com/Fate-Tearling-Novel-Queen/dp/0062290428/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481217379&sr=8-1&keywords=fate+of+the+tearling) by Erika Johansen.

Third book of the Tearling Trilogy. Not done with it yet, but I can already give it another 10/10 just like the other two books. If you like fantasy writing at all you will love these books.

I'm begging you folks to read them, I want to bring joy into your lives.

Just so you know this didn't fall on entirely deaf ears I've picked up the first book. I read fiction reeeaaallllly slow (just a few pages before I fall asleep) so it'll take me a while to let you know what I thought. So far it's enjoyable enough to where I decided to buy the full book after reading the sample!

I've just downloaded the sample. Might be a while before I get to it because there are a few other books and samples already downloaded.

You've sold it to me too.


Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: starnado on December 13, 2016, 11:03:31 AM
The Wind-up Bird Chronicles 9/10
By Haruki Murakami.
A truly wonderful book. I am so busy at the moment but when I get a free moment I plan to properly expand the review and expound my thoughts.
Listening to 1Q84 right now.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on December 13, 2016, 11:09:45 AM
I love me some Murakami but I should warn you that 1Q84 hits a level of fuckeduperry that few pieces of literature hit. I feel like comparing it to other books is going to give away the plot but... let's just say that it's going to be wholly and completely natural for you to be very disturbed at the direction the book takes.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: superdave on December 13, 2016, 11:17:46 AM
I love me some Murakami but I should warn you that 1Q84 hits a level of fuckeduperry that few pieces of literature hit. I feel like comparing it to other books is going to give away the plot but... let's just say that it's going to be wholly and completely natural for you to be very disturbed at the direction the book takes.

I enjoyed parts of 1Q84.  He's a wonderful writer, but the writing was very repetitious with weird tangents that don't go anywhere, unresolved story threads, and lot's of weird sex stuff.  Some of that is explained by the fact that it was published in pieces, and he wanted them to be somewhat independent pieces, the rest,  no idea.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on December 13, 2016, 11:21:17 AM
I've had it in my Audible for years, but never pulled the trigger and actually listened to it...
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on December 13, 2016, 12:32:27 PM
I'm sure that the fact that English is not the original language it was written in or intended for also contributes to the disjointed feeling. I've had sort of the same feeling reading Tolstoy, for example (or for that matter Heart of Darkness come to think of it).
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: starnado on December 14, 2016, 03:03:17 AM
Now you've all got me worried!
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: daniel1948 on December 14, 2016, 10:41:36 AM
I'm sure that the fact that English is not the original language it was written in or intended for also contributes to the disjointed feeling. I've had sort of the same feeling reading Tolstoy, for example (or for that matter Heart of Darkness come to think of it).

Two examples come to mind of books I've read in both the original Spanish and in English translation, where the original was absolutely delightful and the translation was unreadable. La montana es algo mas que una inmensa estepa verde (literally, "The mountain is something more than an enormous green steppe") by Ernesto Cardenal, translated as Fire From the Mountain; and El hablador (literally "the speaker") by Mario Vargas Llosa, translated as The Storyteller. Some things just cannot be translated.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Redamare on December 14, 2016, 11:59:06 AM
Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium 7.5/10

Been hearing about the series from time to time for years, but have never been into the Warhammer scene myself.

This book did not make me care any more about the game than before, but it was a surprisingly fun, engaging read that kept me coming back. So much so, in fact, that because it is not available in audio format, I could only read it during the times I would normally be wandering this forum or otherwise surfing the internet. Hence my recent scarceness, if anybody noticed.

Not perfect. The cracks about Jurgen's body odor get a little old after a while, and one certainly doesn't sympathize much with the Imperium itself. But I was drawn in. The central protagonist is fun in a way similar to Horatio Hornblower, as he succeeds not despite but because of personality traits that are both highly relatable to the reader and contrary to what you expect from a person in his position.

Good mindless fun.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on December 15, 2016, 01:29:42 PM
The Wind-up Bird Chronicles 9/10
By Haruki Murakami.
A truly wonderful book. I am so busy at the moment but when I get a free moment I plan to properly expand the review and expound my thoughts.
Listening to 1Q84 right now.

Absolutely agree. One of my favourite authors and one of his best books. I wld also give Dance, Dance, Dance 9 if not 10/10 . Having said that ..
 I also agree with Slick about 1Q84 ... it left me feeling very uncomfortable and not in a good way
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on December 15, 2016, 01:52:52 PM
A Little Life
by Hanya Yanagihara

A fat epic about 4 schoolfriends and their jourmey into adulthood. It's brutally emotional and deals with ugly truths about life - shot through with tenderness. A difficult book to read - harrowing. But I didn't want it to end.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on December 16, 2016, 07:46:31 AM
The Wind-up Bird Chronicles 9/10
By Haruki Murakami.
A truly wonderful book. I am so busy at the moment but when I get a free moment I plan to properly expand the review and expound my thoughts.
Listening to 1Q84 right now.

Absolutely agree. One of my favourite authors and one of his best books. I wld also give Dance, Dance, Dance 9 if not 10/10 . Having said that ..
 I also agree with Slick about 1Q84 ... it left me feeling very uncomfortable and not in a good way

As an avid reader of Murakami I can add my agreement to the above sentiments.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle made me actually cry at one point in the book. Such a lovely piece of writing.

1Q84 WTF'd me.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: starnado on December 21, 2016, 06:44:44 AM
So I have put 1Q84 aside for the moment. I am halfway through. I think I will steel myself for the final push and make sure that I feel as emotionally healthy as possible before restarting.

My life has been full of serendipity and synchronicity and coincidence recently. It is all Murakami's fault.

An example: do you guys ever say 'for the time being'? As in, "I don't want a cup of tea now, I am okay with this juice for the time being."

I used the phrase so many times it changed its meaning to be a kind of prayer or missive to The Time Being. As in, juice for The Time Being. It has gone beyond a joke. I told a couple of close colleagues and now we are all devotees of the new religion. Everything is for The Time Being.

So when I decided to put 1Q84 on hold, I looked for a new book and found Ruth Ozeki's Tale For The Time Being.

It is just as Japanese as Murakami, well nearly, but she made it clear in the beginning that if you are a fan of sexual violence or hentai then you probably should lend the book to a female friend and not read it. I was immediately hooked. I felt safe. I know this is the 'last book you read' thread, not the 'book you are currently listening to' thread, but whatevs.

I have not finished it but so far it is a lovely example of Japanese-American magical realism. Highly recommended.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on December 21, 2016, 11:20:20 AM
I loved 'A tale for the time being' too.

I've just finished 'Amnesia' by Peter Carey, another of my favourite authors. It's about computer hacking set against the backdrop of American/Australian tension in the 70s (but book set in 2010), narrated mostly by an aging eccentric liberal journalist. Very entertaining but some of the political detail was lost on me.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: amysrevenge on December 21, 2016, 11:36:04 AM
Picked up a beaut from 1977, "Gateway" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gateway_(novel)) by Frederick Pohl.  Won the 1978 Hugo award for Best Novel.

One of those wonderful 70s covers too (this is the edition I have - I was going to take a photo of it but Wikipedia had this nice one already)
(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/68/GatewayNovel.JPG)

It's a first contact story, sort of, and I quite enjoyed it.  It was quite progressive for the time regarding human sexuality (not in a sort of creepy Heinlein way, but in a legitimate "making a liberal statement" way).  I think the only flaw that bugged me the whole way through was the underestimation of human ingenuity - I figure that on the time scale in the book, with the resources being pumped into (and out of...) Gateway, people would have made a lot more progress figuring out how it all worked.

The format of the story was interesting.  The protagonist starts out visiting a robot psychologist (and narrating the story in the present tense, which was jarring at first but quickly became normal) for odd-numbered chapters, and progressing through his past on even-numbered chapters.  You're unsure at first exactly what's wrong with him, and why he's not satisfied with his outwardly fantastic life, but as the story of his past progresses, it all unfolds.  The ending was very satisfying.

Apparently it's also being developed by Syfy (http://variety.com/2015/tv/news/gateway-david-eick-battlestar-galactica-1201568667/), as of last year.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Redamare on December 21, 2016, 01:04:33 PM
...she made it clear in the beginning that if you are a fan of sexual violence or hentai then you probably should lend the book to a female friend and not read it.

What the fuck does that mean? I'm not especially into either of those, but I find myself offended on behalf of those who are.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: starnado on December 21, 2016, 02:58:49 PM
...she made it clear in the beginning that if you are a fan of sexual violence or hentai then you probably should lend the book to a female friend and not read it.

What the fuck does that mean? I'm not especially into either of those, but I find myself offended on behalf of those who are.
I may have paraphrased ineffectively. Anyway, it was an opinion expressed by a character and not explicitly the view of the author. I found it reassuring in the context of having stopped reading 1Q84 precisely because of the prospect of sexual violence. Or something else equally horrid.

I am not a prude, I have read all sorts but Murakami gets under your skin in a particular way. I understand the literary or narrative or political motivation to include violent scenes, I am not censorious, I just fancied a break, alright?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Redamare on December 21, 2016, 04:13:07 PM
Not criticizing you, just the author as I originally understood your comment.

I have no problem with saying "if you're not into (whatever), look out cause there's some of that here." But saying "if you are into (whatever) fuck right off, because this book isn't for sick fucks like you," would rub me very much the wrong way.

But a character saying that in her (fictional) diary is a totally different thing from what I was picturing.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Redamare on December 21, 2016, 09:03:09 PM
Picked up a beaut from 1977, "Gateway" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gateway_(novel)) by Frederick Pohl.  Won the 1978 Hugo award for Best Novel.

One of those wonderful 70s covers too (this is the edition I have - I was going to take a photo of it but Wikipedia had this nice one already)
(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/68/GatewayNovel.JPG)

It's a first contact story, sort of, and I quite enjoyed it.  It was quite progressive for the time regarding human sexuality (not in a sort of creepy Heinlein way, but in a legitimate "making a liberal statement" way).  I think the only flaw that bugged me the whole way through was the underestimation of human ingenuity - I figure that on the time scale in the book, with the resources being pumped into (and out of...) Gateway, people would have made a lot more progress figuring out how it all worked.

The format of the story was interesting.  The protagonist starts out visiting a robot psychologist (and narrating the story in the present tense, which was jarring at first but quickly became normal) for odd-numbered chapters, and progressing through his past on even-numbered chapters.  You're unsure at first exactly what's wrong with him, and why he's not satisfied with his outwardly fantastic life, but as the story of his past progresses, it all unfolds.  The ending was very satisfying.

Apparently it's also being developed by Syfy (http://variety.com/2015/tv/news/gateway-david-eick-battlestar-galactica-1201568667/), as of last year.

You sold me. Checking it out right now.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on December 28, 2016, 11:26:50 AM
The Vegetarian by Han Kang

An extraordinary novel in 3 parts about opting out of familial and societal expectations and constraints. About control and obsession and desire, set in contemporary South Korea. Really good, with a very strong Marakami favour.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: fuzzyMarmot on December 28, 2016, 03:26:25 PM
Paul Beatty - The Sellout

Caustic, abrasive racial satire set in North America. Slick and witty and hilarious.

Cosign! Powerful, sad, funny... satire that evokes so many dissonant emotions.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on January 08, 2017, 12:34:09 PM
Eileen by Otessa Moshfegh

Great novel about a young woman who is profoundly lonely and cares for her alcoholic father, works on a boys prison and is an ace shoplifter. A sophisticated charismatic person joins the prison staff and sets off a chain of events culminating in the protagonist committing a crime and leaving town for good.

Darkly funny.
Profoundly insightful into the condition of loneliness.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on January 09, 2017, 09:24:31 AM
The Vegetarian by Han Kang

An extraordinary novel in 3 parts about opting out of familial and societal expectations and constraints. About control and obsession and desire, set in contemporary South Korea. Really good, with a very strong Marakami favour.

Just added to my queue of books to get. I've heard it is one of the best stories about hopelessness in modern writing.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on January 09, 2017, 11:04:41 AM
The Vegetarian by Han Kang

An extraordinary novel in 3 parts about opting out of familial and societal expectations and constraints. About control and obsession and desire, set in contemporary South Korea. Really good, with a very strong Marakami favour.

Just added to my queue of books to get. I've heard it is one of the best stories about hopelessness in modern writing.

Yeah. It was strongly Kafka-esque too.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on January 09, 2017, 07:07:45 PM
This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things 7/10
A book on trolls by an anthropologist.
She spent considerable time amongst them and highlights the issues with trusting them, its half history and half analysis which posits that trolling is more a part of our culture and history than many would like to concede. She goes on to highlight possible strategies for dealing with trolls.
Its ok. To be honest I was somewhat surprised by the abrupt end (the book is 40℅ footnotes) and dont feel like it really said much in the end.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: stonesean on January 10, 2017, 08:54:13 AM
This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things 7/10
A book on trolls by an anthropologist.
She spent considerable time amongst them and highlights the issues with trusting them, its half history and half analysis which posits that trolling is more a part of our culture and history than many would like to concede. She goes on to highlight possible strategies for dealing with trolls.
Its ok. To be honest I was somewhat surprised by the abrupt end (the book is 40℅ footnotes) and dont feel like it really said much in the end.

Damn.  This was on my shopping list too....
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on February 08, 2017, 01:55:38 PM
"The Case Against Sugar", Taubes.  10/10.  Great read by a great writer.  The book is written as a barrister might present a case in court; as stated in the beginning. 

A good conversational review here: http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2017/02/gary_taubes_on.html
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: jsw on February 10, 2017, 09:46:27 AM
The Devil's Footprints (graphic novel)
    - I felt like the verbiage in this book didn't fit my reading style.
    - The artwork was nice, but I didn't much get into the story
    - 6/10
    - This was my first graphic novel, and it's possible I'm the problem and not the book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: superdave on February 13, 2017, 08:32:59 AM
The Undoing Project-Michael Lewis
7/10
Quote
Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original studies undoing our assumptions about the decision-making process. Their papers showed the ways in which the human mind erred, systematically, when forced to make judgments about uncertain situations. Their work created the field of behavioral economics, revolutionized Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Michael Lewis’s own work possible. Kahneman and Tversky are more responsible than anybody for the powerful trend to mistrust human intuition and defer to algorithms.

The Undoing Project is about the fascinating collaboration between two men who have the dimensions of great literary figures. They became heroes in the university and on the battlefield—both had important careers in the Israeli military—and their research was deeply linked to their extraordinary life experiences. In the process they may well have changed, for good, mankind’s view of its own mind.
It works really well as a dual biography of two very fascinating people Khaneman and Tversky.  Lewis does a good job describing their relationship and how their experiences in the army and as a refugee in Kahneman case.  In particular, he makes a strong case that Israeli culture was a big part of how they were able to arrive at their ideas.

Where the book fails is in actually describing their achievements.  I had more questions than answers, and actually went and bought Kahneman's own book after finishing this one. 

PS
I have ever read one of Lewis's books before, but I found he has a weird grammatical style that threw me off. Has anyone else noticed this?
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on February 13, 2017, 09:01:04 AM
God Hates Astronauts (Graphic Novel) ????/42

Laughed my ass off.....'nuff said.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: SQ the ΣΛ/IGMд on February 18, 2017, 05:45:39 AM
The Stand by Stephen King - 6/10
Pretty sure King's editors were right on this one.  I read the unabridged version, and while it had it's moments,  I could see an easy 400 pages of fat that could be trimmed down. Several very memorable characters (Nick, Frannie, Trashcanman), and a lot of really bland ones that are suddenly elevated to hero status towards the end of the book.  Disease stuff at the beginning is over the top but exciting.

I haven't read this in quite some time but imo it's the king book turned movie that came closest to getting it right.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on February 18, 2017, 11:55:19 AM
Not Lawnmower Man?!  :laugh:

Just finished The Dark Tower, The Gunslinger.
I don't understand how anyone who read this in 1982 would have been satisfied. It's a big chase scene and then nothing happens.
The writing was a little confusing at times, but he built an interesting world. I am going to try the next few and see if the writing matures and we get more story. Not unhappy I read it, but not satisfied either.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: SQ the ΣΛ/IGMд on February 18, 2017, 11:58:52 AM
Not Lawnmower Man?!  :laugh:

Just finished The Dark Tower, The Gunslinger.
I don't understand how anyone who read this in 1982 would have been satisfied. It's a big chase scene and then nothing happens.
The writing was a little confusing at times, but he built an interesting world. I am going to try the next few and see if the writing matures and we get more story. Not unhappy I read it, but not satisfied either.

I think it was the 80s when I read that series. I was not satisfied.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Redamare on February 18, 2017, 03:33:26 PM
Hmmmm.

Define "satisfied"...

I think there was sufficient profluence to the novel. This is a thing any story needs. The tradition of having a developed "plot" is the most popular method of satisfying this requirement, but it can also be achieved by gradually solving a riddle or mystery, exploring an idea, or giving a sense of an intriguing setting that is able to imply a rich history of plots and subplots without the narrative directly commenting on any of them.

But on the other hand, a good novel, like a good stand up comedian, should never truly satisfy. You always want to leave them wanting more.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: SQ the ΣΛ/IGMд on February 18, 2017, 03:54:16 PM
IIRC I found it boring.
It was long ago.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on February 20, 2017, 06:06:23 PM
Hmmmm.

Define "satisfied"...

I think there was sufficient profluence to the novel. This is a thing any story needs. The tradition of having a developed "plot" is the most popular method of satisfying this requirement, but it can also be achieved by gradually solving a riddle or mystery, exploring an idea, or giving a sense of an intriguing setting that is able to imply a rich history of plots and subplots without the narrative directly commenting on any of them.

But on the other hand, a good novel, like a good stand up comedian, should never truly satisfy. You always want to leave them wanting more.
(https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/a2/80/73/a28073371af669fa22ae7d30433c862e.jpg)

I knew going in that it was part of a series. I have read plenty of other books that were not part of a series, until after the fact, but this book cannot stand on it's own merits as a complete story. It's really the first few chapters of a longer story and luckily King lived long enough to finish the series. This is the same reason I won't read Game of Thrones. I don't want to hand my life over to a huge series. If I want to quit at one I want to feel like I had a good time. This book was not a good time, literally NOTHING gets resolved, tied up or answered. And clearly you should always want to leave them wanting more, but forcing them to return to get anything is just frustrating. This is why people tend to hate sequel movies where it is known another movie is coming to finish it.

That said, I bought books 2 and 3 and I hope I can quit somewhere in there and be happy if I'm not 100% sold. I have too little time to waste on crap.  :laugh:
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Redamare on February 20, 2017, 10:37:13 PM
Four is the best. Five is decent. Personally, I would say six and seven are skippable. Course, you would need to read a synopsis online somewhere, in order to know how the series actually ends.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on February 21, 2017, 02:53:56 AM
Four is the best. Five is decent. Personally, I would say six and seven are skippable. Course, you would need to read a synopsis online somewhere, in order to know how the series actually ends.
damn it! Now I'm going to have to make it through 4.  :laugh:
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on March 05, 2017, 02:09:21 AM
"Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind", Yuval Harari.  10/10.  A great read.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: arthwollipot on March 05, 2017, 04:54:49 AM
I started with Scott Sigler's Ancestor (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancestor_(novel)), which I bought on Amazon some time ago and has been sitting unread on my Kindle ever since.

Wow. That was good. So I went on to Infected (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infected_(novel)), which I had also bought at around the same time. It was so good I immediately bought the two sequels, Contagious (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contagious_(novel)) and Pandemic (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandemic_(novel)), even though I had told myself I wouldn't buy any new books for a while.

I'd say that all four are at least 8/10. Well worth the read.

On a related note, I found it interesting that I can't watch horror movies, yet I can read books that are at least as horrifying as the best of the horror movie genre without any trouble at all. I don't know why that is the case.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: MikeHz on March 20, 2017, 06:46:24 PM
"Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind", Yuval Harari.  10/10.  A great read.

Okay, sounds good. I'm getting it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on March 26, 2017, 12:19:39 AM
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes - 8ish/10. Because I grew up in the 1980s and I have a soul, The Princess Bride holds a special place in my heart. I fell in love with Princess Buttercup along with everyone else, adored the silly but still very adept fight scenes between the Dread Pirate Roberts and Inigo Montoya, and, well, like pretty much everyone my age I could probably quote the entire damn movie by heart if you gave me a bit of a head start. As a "tell all" type of book, this really doesn't reveal anything particularly new and exciting about the making, with the possible exception that it sat in script hell for a decade and a half (at one point Truffaut was even attached to it) before Rob Reiner finally managed to make a movie out of it. Otherwise... Andre the Giant was a prodigious drinker and eater (which I think everyone knew already), the role of Vizzini was originally intended for Danny DeVito (which, even given Wallace Shawn's memorable performance, totally makes sense, doesn't it?), apparently Elwes broke his toe in the middle of filming... it's *fun* and if you love Princess Bride this is if nothing else a good excuse to relive your enjoyment of it, but at the end of the day you're

Bossypants by Tina Fey, 7ish/10. I actually bought and read this a couple years ago but decided to re-read it because... let's just say that I am a member of a certain cult that she is affiliated with. Unfortunately there's just not a lot about said cult in the book (she does call it a cult! Only semi-jokingly!) and while she's very funny the book is already pretty dated. At the time it came out she was known primarily as the woman who was on Weekend Update and then impersonated Sarah Palin. She *was* doing 30 Rock at the time and there's even a couple of amusing anecdotes in there about Donald Glover, but this is waaaaaaaaaay before Kimmy Schmidt or the last couple of years of her sitcom that really cemented its place as a critic's choice that mass audiences never quite "got". I hope she writes another autobiography in a couple more years.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on March 26, 2017, 01:52:07 AM
"Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind", Yuval Harari.  10/10.  A great read.

Okay, sounds good. I'm getting it.

There was a nice conversation with Sam Harris last week with Harari on Waking Up.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on March 26, 2017, 04:51:36 AM
"Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind", Yuval Harari.  10/10.  A great read.

Okay, sounds good. I'm getting it.

There was a nice conversation with Sam Harris last week with Harari on Waking Up.

I like 'Waking up'. I just bought an audio book by Sam Harris and Maajid Naslam called 'Islam and the Future of Tolerance'. I'm looking forward to it.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on March 29, 2017, 01:00:39 PM
The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis - 9.5/10. Admittedly I'm a big fan of Michael Lewis and I really enjoy behavioral economics and so a book about the founding of that discipline is kind of right up my alley. Still, this is a well-written book, as much about the interpersonal drama between Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky as it is about behavioral econ itself and a great deal of fun. The only reason it doesn't get a 10 is because ONLY ELVIS GETS TENS and also, I don't know, this is going to sound way more hyperintellectual than I really mean but I feel like there's a point at which narrative fiction can get out some of the truths explored in this better than nonfiction can.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: lonely moa on March 30, 2017, 03:41:03 AM
"Half Earth", E.O. Wilson.  8/10.  Full of depressing facts about biodiversity, something he knows better than anyone. He does rein in the math, though.  There are beautiful graphics by biologists from the 19th century at the start of every chapter. 
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Drunken Idaho on March 30, 2017, 04:13:28 AM
A Slip of the Keyboard --  Terry Pratchett --  10/10

A collection of articles, editorials, and speeches personally compiled by Pratchett in his final years.

Incredible insight into the life of a professional writer: full of Pratchett's wit, and probably a lot of great advice if writing is involved in your life in any form. As a fan, it was at times difficult to read, in that he spoke so freely and eloquently of his impending death... but my god, it's great. It's a fun and entertaining read which often made me set the book down and just think.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes - 8ish/10.
(click to show/hide)

I own this book, but have yet to read it. This made me a little more excited to move it up my list.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on March 30, 2017, 05:12:03 AM


As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes - 8ish/10.
(click to show/hide)

I own this book, but have yet to read it. This made me a little more excited to move it up my list.

Likewise. I have it on audiobook.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: petrolpetal on March 30, 2017, 05:57:32 AM
I'm busy listening to 'Barbarian Days:A Surfing Life' by William Finnegan. I think it won the Pulitzer for best memoir last year.

It's superb. The descriptions of the ocean and waves and rides are sublime and beautiful and endlessly fresh and novel. And he reveals all sorts of fascinating details about his cultish surfing obsession and world wide travels.It's  a lens into a beautiful strange world.

@Daniel1948 - I think you would especially enjoy it because he describes a lot of your kayaking spots and I'm sure his love of the ocean would resonate with you.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Johnny Slick on March 30, 2017, 10:46:01 AM


As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes - 8ish/10.
(click to show/hide)

I own this book, but have yet to read it. This made me a little more excited to move it up my list.

Likewise. I have it on audiobook.
I "read" it on audiobook myself and I think it might be the best way to "read" it. Cary Elwes does his own reading, with various other castmembers as well as William Goldman chiming in from time to time.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Sawyer on March 31, 2017, 10:35:19 PM
I'm a little over halfway through The Song of the Dodo:  Island Biogeography in the Age of Extinction  by David Quammen, who is becoming one of my favorite science writers.  Despite being almost 20 years old it holds up very well.  Although it should be an obvious lesson to anyone familiar with story of Galapagos finches, studying island populations is basically a huge cheat sheet for learning the mechanisms that drive evolution.  Quammen points out how people get the lesson of the Galapagos completely backwards:  its scientific value does not come from it's uniqueness, but from the fact it is a typical representation of archipelago islands.  I was also unaware how the finch story itself has slowly evolved into mythology.  Darwin's work on honeycreepers was apparently a much greater influence on this theories.  But enough about the Galapagos, as it's only one of dozens of islands discussed.  There's species of lemur on Madagascar that can tolerate cyanide in bamboo, which ends up telling us a tremendous amount about both their migration history and their evolution.  I was reminded of the fact that there were no mosquitoes on Hawaii until some jackass European dumped out a cask of old drinking water.  The question of why some species become giants and some become pygmies is looked at closely.  The titular extinction of dodos is briefly mentioned, although the more interesting aspect is how it's extinction did/did not influence other species' distributions on Mauritius.  There's some stuff about Aborigine tribes is Tasmania that was heartbreaking.

Quammen travels to virtually every location he writes about, in some cases multiple times.  He's almost mauled by a komodo dragon, gets roped into the grunt work for some field ecologists, and puts cryptozooligists to shame by making honest attempts to locate some extinct species.  I think National Geographic and Outside magazine are funding most of his trips, and I get a sinking feeling when I wonder if journalists will still be able to afford these excursions in 20 years.  I'm sure the only way to really appreciate the beauty and scientific lessons of remote islands is to go there yourself, but getting information from a competent writer that has been there is the next best thing.

9/10 for now, maybe higher if there are some profound insights later in the book.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: drwfishesman on April 01, 2017, 09:30:08 AM
Age of Myth: Book One of The Legends of the First Empire (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015BCX0S0/) by Michael J. Sullivan (https://www.amazon.com/Michael-J.-Sullivan/e/B002BOJ41O/)  8/10

What I thought would be a throw-away fantasy novel turned into an interesting page-turner. It hooked me. I read an article about the author, he has an interesting writing style. He writes the whole series of his stories before he releases them to the publisher, so every book is already written. It allows him to make connections between stories that give a depth to them.

I recommend, it scratches that itch.
Title: Re: Rate the last book you just read
Post by: Harry Black on April 22, 2017, 03:59:09 PM
The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss 7/10
Rothfuss has a way of keeping you reading through sheer force of prose.
His writting is always enjoyable and some bits warrant immediate rereading due to their sheer beauty.
But.
Its not really a story as such. He says so himself and apologises before and after. Its a very short book (less than 150 pages), and was meant to be a short story, but nothing really happens in it.
The main character is Auri, a bit character from The Kingkiller Chronicle, and its a look into her mind and priorities as she goes about discovering and naming things in the sewer in which she lives.
If you have an afternoon and are bored of standard narrative then give it a go. I found it enjoyable but ultimately unsatisfying.