What are you reading? [March 2017]

trappedslider

Explorer
Since I last posted, I've read The Whistler by John Grisham ( the ending felt a bit rushed),Day by Day Armageddon by J. L. Bourne book one in a series. I've also read the Notes from the Internet Apocalypse trilogy by Wayne Gladstone (it was okay, all were less than 300 pages or so) and One Second After and One Year After by William R. Forstchen ( very good, Look forward to reading the third book The Final Day.)
 

Kramodlog

Adventurer
I finished The Color of Magic. It was light and fun, but I'm divided on reading other Discworld books. The series is supposed to get better, but how good does it get? At some point I think I'll read Mort, as it always comes up in lists of the better Discworld books, but I'm just not sure.

I also finished The Invisible Man. Wells' work is impressive in the sense as he thought a lot about the details of invisibility when no one before him (as far as I know) did. Like how eaten food wouldn't become automatically invisible in the Invisible Man's stomach. How smoke in the lungs from a cigare would be apparent. Or how footsteps in the mud could be followed.

The character and the story aren't paticularly enjoyable. Griffin, the Invisible Man, isn't likable. He is selfish and paranoid. Today an author could only cast him as a superhero. Here he is a villain. The novella originally came out as a novella, so it feels like Wells wrote the story as it was published, and sometimes you have sense he changed his idea about the plot. Still, it is an influencial classic and I'm glad I read it.

I started Ender's Game. I'm 36 pages in. It is a modern classic that gets a lot of good, enthusiastic reviews, so I've been wanting to read it for a while. For a book written in 1985, it sure has a retrograde take on women. It looks like a it is all about wondering if the end justifys the means. The bullying of the protagonist is already getting on my nerves. It is just a trope we see too often on TV, in films and mangas.
 

Ralif Redhammer

Adventurer
I’d definitely give some of the later Discworld novels a try – the Night Watch ones are my personal favorites, but there’s a lot that’s good. Colour of Magic is fun, but it’s only the beginning.

Griffin is assuredly the villain, the monster of The Invisible Man, and a jerk. I think the movie version helped the story by adding the part about the invisibility serum also causing madness (I think that wasn’t in the book, anyway, it’s been a while).

Yeah, Ender’s Game is problematic. I get that it’s an influential piece of military sci-fi, but it’s got some troubling themes and it’s hard to uncouple the book from Card’s antics.
 

Kramodlog

Adventurer
Griffin is assuredly the villain, the monster of The Invisible Man, and a jerk. I think the movie version helped the story by adding the part about the invisibility serum also causing madness (I think that wasn’t in the book, anyway, it’s been a while).
It doesn't say that it the novella. Kemp, the doctor the Invisible Man tells his story, says that Griffin is "pure selfishness". I think it was Wells telling us, consciously or not, how he envisioned his character. But that only makes the character two dimensional.

Yeah, Ender’s Game is problematic. I get that it’s an influential piece of military sci-fi, but it’s got some troubling themes and it’s hard to uncouple the book from Card’s antics.
Reminds me of Starship Troopers.
 

tardigrade

Villager
Currently re-reading "The City and The City" by China Miéville. I've read most of his stuff and I find him pretty hit-and-miss (I liked The Scar, Perdido St Station and most of the short fiction in Looking for Jake; I hated Embassytown and Kraken, and I was ambivalent about Iron Council) but TC&TC has become one of my favourite books. I'd like to include Beszel/Ul Qoma in a campaign one day but I don't think I'm a good enough DM to pull it off yet. If you haven't read TC&TC, I'd strongly suggest giving it a go.

There are only about three books I regularly re-read - the other two are American Gods and Dune.

I also have three other books on the go at the moment - "The Real Middle Earth: Magic and Mystery in the Dark Ages", "Monday starts on Saturday" and "The Chrysalids" (a re-read). And I just finished "The Girl with all the Gifts" (absolutely loved it; great homage to I Am Legend) and "When Breath Becomes Air", which was pretty much exactly what I expected - not utterly amazing, but thoughtful. "I Contain Multitudes" is next in my pile, unless I decide to go back to American Gods again; all the hype over the new series next month is making me want to dig it out.

I've read almost every Discworld novel, but my favourite is still Small Gods, although Guards! Guards!, Lords and Ladies and Hogfather are also firm favourites.
 

Ralif Redhammer

Adventurer
My re-reads are The Lord of the Rings (sometimes I get ambitious and include The Hobbit and Silmarillion) and Poppy Z. Brite’s Lost Souls and Drawing Blood for that 90s Goth nostalgia. Have a bunch I keep meaning to return to, though.

There are only about three books I regularly re-read - the other two are American Gods and Dune.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
Your reading list sounds a lot like my reading list. Under Heaven is great, but Bridge of Birds is permanently affixed to my best books list.<sigh>
Just finished Bridge of Birds and was delighted! The story structure with it's plentiful flashbacks and stories differed from what I regularly see in a way that really brought home the feel of the setting. I was discussing with my wife the reoccurring characters and effortless way they accomplished "side tasks" like gaining wealth, if it was part of the Chinese story cues, but then that actually ended up being a plot point. Actually, so much was plot points - masterful job of laying pipe for it suddenly to have meaning.

It's a very different book then Under Heaven. UH brought me to a level of how thinking differs, BoB engaged the whole story structure to do the same more immersively. I cheered for Number Ten Ox, but I cared for Shen Tai. I really enjoyed them both.

I am strongly resisting the urge to lift the "...and I have a slight flaw in my character." introduction wholesale for an RPG character. I don't do things like that, but it was so wonderfully apropos.
</sigh>
 

Janx

Adventurer
Finished the civil war novel a writer's guild member published and my friend's novel draft.

Started the first in the Iron Druid series last night.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
I finished The Color of Magic. It was light and fun, but I'm divided on reading other Discworld books. The series is supposed to get better, but how good does it get? At some point I think I'll read Mort, as it always comes up in lists of the better Discworld books, but I'm just not sure.
I've been on a recent kick of reading Discworld, which included re-reading The Color of Magic. It's ... zanier but a lot less well developed then the later books. I personally enjoyed later books significantly more. It's less episodic vignettes and more whole stories, and just benefits from having written more books in the Discworld so there is more to reference and pull in. Just more mature all around.

I started Ender's Game. I'm 36 pages in. It is a modern classic that gets a lot of good, enthusiastic reviews, so I've been wanting to read it for a while. For a book written in 1985, it sure has a retrograde take on women. It looks like a it is all about wondering if the end justifys the means. The bullying of the protagonist is already getting on my nerves. It is just a trope we see too often on TV, in films and mangas.
It's on my top books list so I'm far from unbiased, and I first read it decades ago when the tropes weren't so worn down. Though it's harder for me to read now that I have children (same reason I can't reread Game of Thrones). If the ends justify the means is explored and deconstructed in the book, not just taken as a given. And if you haven't already spoiled twists I suggest not reading any reviews or seeing the movie.

BTW, if you do finish it, stop there. The other books in the series are something different, and reading Ender's Shadow last year (the same timeframe told from Bean's PoV) actively harmed my enjoyment of Ender's Game.
 

Kramodlog

Adventurer
It's on my top books list so I'm far from unbiased, and I first read it decades ago when the tropes weren't so worn down. Though it's harder for me to read now that I have children (same reason I can't reread Game of Thrones). If the ends justify the means is explored and deconstructed in the book, not just taken as a given. And if you haven't already spoiled twists I suggest not reading any reviews or seeing the movie.
I've already seen the film.

Now that I'm passed 100 pages, I can say the book is also a power fantasy for kids who are bullied and like to play video games. Maybe it was special in 1985, but nowadays it seems pretty common.

The writing is fine. Card's prose is simple, clear, it avoids the opacity of other sci-fi novels. I do find myself cheering for Ender sometimes too. Aside from Card's politics in the novel (and real life), the problem is that I just do not like the plot and the characters. I'm suprised it is a classic.

BTW, if you do finish it, stop there. The other books in the series are something different, and reading Ender's Shadow last year (the same timeframe told from Bean's PoV) actively harmed my enjoyment of Ender's Game.
For other reasons, I've decided that it would take a tremendously good first book,thebest book, to get me to read more than the first book of a series. More often then not I felt cheated* by the following books in a series. Like the author builds is or her universe in the first novel and then stretches the plot over too many books just to make a buck. Discworld is intriguing because it isn't always the same characters of plot.


* It is a bit too strong a word.
 

megamania

Community Supporter
How is it? I've never been a big King fan, but I've had the sneaking suspicion that an opinion formed a few decades back and not verified with my current reading habits may be holding me back from some good reads.

Do you have a favorite King to introduce people to his writing?
I have read IT and The Stand before. Enjoyed both. Otherwise I don't typically read "horror". Gunslinger was recommended to me by several friends and they stressed it was Sci-Fi, not horror. Just finished Gunslinger and have started the second (of seven) book in the series. Makes one think a bit but still early to say how good it is.

Recently learned it is being made into a movie this summer.

So far, I don't like the "hero" but this may be to create room for character development.
 

megamania

Community Supporter
Just started The Drawing of Three by King. Starts with a salt water Chuul attack. How bad can the book be to start with a cool DnD monster?
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
For other reasons, I've decided that it would take a tremendously good first book,thebest book, to get me to read more than the first book of a series. More often then not I felt cheated* by the following books in a series. Like the author builds is or her universe in the first novel and then stretches the plot over too many books just to make a buck. Discworld is intriguing because it isn't always the same characters of plot.

* It is a bit too strong a word.
(Below is just sharing my personal experience as well - you know what's right for you and I'm not attempting to say otherwise.)

Trilogies or other set length series which either are exactly as you say, or the last book is the best as everything comes together. Series on the other hand can get better as the world matures and the author gets better handle on the character's voice, or again as you said peter off in sequel-itis written just to have another book in the series. Or both - next couple of books after the first get better, but then it can't keep the steam going.

One of my favorite series (Jim Butcher's Dresden Files) is like this - the first book is the weakest - it's eh, good. They get better and by book 3 it's really popping. But now, however many books in, we've reached crescendos of escalation and the more recent books aren't drawing me in like the earlier ones.

I like staying in a world and with characters I like, so I enjoy sequels. Which is why the change in tone for the Ender's Game ones was so jarring.
 

Ralif Redhammer

Adventurer
Finished Ancillary Sword. I liked it – it wasn’t as intense as the first book, but it was still interesting to spend time in that world.

Now I’m on to re-reading the Odyssey (with a new-ish 2014 translation). Haven’t read that in ages.
 

Nellisir

Adventurer
Just finished Bridge of Birds and was delighted! The story structure with it's plentiful flashbacks and stories differed from what I regularly see in a way that really brought home the feel of the setting. I was discussing with my wife the reoccurring characters and effortless way they accomplished "side tasks" like gaining wealth, if it was part of the Chinese story cues, but then that actually ended up being a plot point. Actually, so much was plot points - masterful job of laying pipe for it suddenly to have meaning.

It's a very different book then Under Heaven. UH brought me to a level of how thinking differs, BoB engaged the whole story structure to do the same more immersively. I cheered for Number Ten Ox, but I cared for Shen Tai. I really enjoyed them both.

I am strongly resisting the urge to lift the "...and I have a slight flaw in my character." introduction wholesale for an RPG character. I don't do things like that, but it was so wonderfully apropos.
</sigh>
I've got a policy of disregarding any "Best Fantasy Books" list that doesn't feature either Tigana or Bridge of Birds, or preferably both. (The very best list ought to have Little, Big too....) There's a scene towards the end that always brings tears to my eyes. Not many books do that.

And yeah, "...and I have a slight flaw in my character" is right up there for character intro's. ;)
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
[MENTION=55961]Kramodlog[/MENTION] wow, those are remarkably similar. Like, what are the odds that was coincidental?

Just went to dig a bit and found this: http://io9.gizmodo.com/amazon-pulls-castalia-house-book-for-ripping-off-john-s-1793533638

A choice excerpt:
There’s a reason Beale made a cover that looks exactly like Scalzi’s, and it’s not to ride his coattails. This is all part of Beale’s longstanding feud (or obsession) with Scalzi, who hasn’t shied away from criticizing him in the past. Beale has long considered himself Scalzi’s literary rival, even though they’re on completely different levels of success. Beale has said and done questionable and offensive things to perpetuate that rivalry, including accusing Scalzi of rape because of a satirical article he wrote in 2012.
 

Ralif Redhammer

Adventurer

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