What book are you reading now/have finished?

#182

A really weird thing happened a while ago. I was talking with my partner about movies and I asked “what was that film where they had the car on the ice and they bet money on when it would fall through and there was the body in the car?” and she totally didn’t know what I was talking about. I said I thought it was Fargo or something, which it wasn’t, but I was sure I wouldn’t have seen whatever it was without her.

I was remembering the scene from American Gods which I read when we were first dating. Somehow I remembered it as a movie we’d watched together!

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#183

It’s a solid 6/10 or so. Not great, but does a good job of being analogous to some famous Japanese killers.

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#184

Ah that is interesting. I kind of looking forward to seeing more about the detective, I’ve been told he is a pretty interesting character. I did have trepidation reading this though as the friend that recommended it to me has just the worst taste in books.

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#185

I recently read Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law trilogy. In many ways, its a very generic fantasy story in its setting but the action and pacing of the books is gripping. The last book ties the plot together incredibly well and it was one of my favorite reads of 2018.

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

When describing the characters of The Blade Itself, other reviewers typically say that its main characters would have been villains in other fantasy stories. That is a bit of an overstatement as the fan-favorites of Ninefingers (the barbarian), Glotka (the torturer), and Bayaz (the wizard) all operate with some sense of a moral code despite their casual use of violence. These three characters are all lovable anti-heroes rather than villains, which is why I actually find two of his other characters more interesting, West and Jezal. West is the Miles O’Brien everyman character but unlike Miles O’Brien from Star Trek, West has everyman character flaws that are harder to forgive. These problems – without getting into details – make me uncomfortable, but I appreciate novelty even if it borders on being shooed in. Jezal on the other hand is the archetypal haughty young noble who gets his comeuppance by the plucky protagonist. I like that Abercrombie eschews this typical narrative by not only making him a main character, but by also making his character development slow and at times in regression. Jezal actually gets more than he rightly deserves which is a bold choice. The best parts of book is that the characters are within close proximity of each other for most of the book and we get to hear their opinions of each other as the story unfolds. Abercrombie’s writing and plotting is utilitarian but good enough to keep the story flowing at a good pace. I’ve come to appreciate clearer writing like his even if it sometimes is lacking in depth.

Finished 12/28/18

3/5 stars

Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie

The writing and character work of the sequel, Before They Are Hanged, is better than the original. However, I prefer the plot structure of the first book which had characters interacting with each other more. Fan-favorite Glotka gets to show off the most as he tortures, cajoles, and surprises his enemies with both his humanity and lack thereof. But the larger problem with Before They Are Hanged is the over-usage of the “idiot-ball.” Too many side characters are characterized plainly by Abercrombie as idiots who make bad decisions. These characters exist only to keep the plot moving quickly rather than being interesting by themselves. Abercrombie’s storytelling is too simplified and too obvious in his attempts to get past the setup and straight to the action scenes already. Still, his action scenes are a ton of fun and I breezed through the book in a little over a day. 3/5 stars.

Finished 12/30/18

3/5 stars

Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie

Joe Abercrombie’s twitter handle is LordGrimdark, perhaps a bit tongue-in-cheek but he truly does demonstrate what grimdark fantasy means in Last Argument of Kings. Grimdark isn’t simply the physical punishment and deaths of characters, it’s also destroying their mental wellbeing and their moral center. It makes the characters question the worth of humanity and worse, makes them stop believing in man’s ability to change for the better. Abercrombie really relishes in the suffering of his characters with over 100 pages in the end exploring the consequences of their actions. In some ways, it’s refreshing to experience a straight bitter rather than bittersweet ending (okay there is maybe 2g of sugar in a kilogram of cacao), but it’s not an experience I would seek again. Well done, Abercrombie but I’m going to avoid you for a while.

Spoilers: Isn’t there a plot hole with locking up Tolomei in the Maker’s House? It’s said several times that Bayaz tricked her into unlocking the front gate while she was on the balcony. Therefore, the front gate being locked does not lock the balcony. Tolomei is touched by the other side and cannot die, so if she wanted to escape, couldn’t she simply jump off the balcony once more?

Finished 1/3/19

4/5 stars

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#186

Weirdly I have much fonder memories of this series in hindsight compared to when I read them. I mostly got through because the audiobook narrator was so good and, as you said, things move along pretty briskly.

But I was almost angry at the end because up until the very end, it seems like way more of a generic fantasy story than it actually is. The story is way more interesting and clever than that. BUT it hides the fact for TWO AND A HALF NOVELS before revealing how clever it is.

Listeners to my podcast had complained I wasn’t reading enough into the second book, because there was more to it. But I couldn’t know how much more or what more because, unlike them, I hadn’t read the third book and was judging the first and second on their own strengths and weaknesses, not the series as a whole. And you can’t retroactively apply story knowledge to earlier stories when read later.

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#187

Hyperion By Dan Simmons

I liked the story and the format, it’s a story of seven people telling their stories inside the story, the Wuthering Heights of scifi!.The world is imaginative and actually pretty fascinating, it’s high scifi that’s pushed into the realm of “technology may as well be magic!” and I really dig it. To be honest you could have probably made the whole book out of just the counsel’s story.

I really did not like the ending, it’s like, to barrow from the story’s ending, as if you’re reading the Wizard of Oz and it ends right when they say “Wizard will see you now!”

I’m not interested enough to continue reading right now. Maybe later if I am searching for something else to read.

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#188

If you enjoyed the book I would definitely recommend you at least read Fall of Hyperion. It answers all the questions left open by the first book and ties almost everything up pretty definitively

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#189

Yes, definitely read the second Hyperion book.

But then, for the love of all that’s holy, stop there. Do not read past the second book. Just pretend Hyperion is a duology.

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#190

I only made it half way through Fall of Hyperion. :frowning:

Maybe one of the most disappointing follow up novel to an original novel I loved so much.

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#191

The ending of the second book is was really disappointing and I took 2 days off before going on to the next book. Sure there’s a surprise factor to the cliffhanger but it didn’t fill me with a desire to continue reading. Last Argument of Kings had more interesting things happen in that single book than the previous two books combined. Maybe the series could have been a stronger story as only two books. My friends are making their way through the second book so I’m curious whether they’ll sniff out the setups that pay off in the last book.

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#192

Very much a two book series with an extra book in the middle. But this happens a lot, so it’s hardly worth worrying about.

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#193

Canterbury Tales?

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#194

If you’re into ye olde englesh, sure!

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#195

Started reading Vampire Hunter D after a bit of a lazy winter. Maaaaaan is that a good book. really drew me in from the start, can’t wait to mine deeper in this.

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#196

Just started reading this one over the weekend. It has some personal meaning to me as my dad and uncle were among those who fought in these wars:

https://www.helion.co.uk/portugal-s-guerilla-wars-in-africa-lisbon-s-three-wars-in-angola-mozambique-and-portugese-guinea-1961-156.html

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#197

Thanks going back to, and sticking to, my plan of always opening the Kindle app instead of any games on my phone I have read many more books than usual. Besides 2001 I have read:

Books 2 and 3 of the Broken Earth Trilogy. Not much that needs to be said there. Dat angry earth! Read this biz.

Team Human by Douglass Rushkoff - I’ve been reading his books since high school when I got a copy of Coercion. This is basically a manifesto/summary of all his previous work applied to our present day situation. So for me it was a quick read that didn’t offer much new. For anyone not familiar with his work, this is all you need to read.

Dracula - the original one. You see so much vampire shit in your life you kind of know what the deal is, but really? First of all, I gotta say that of all the vampire shit I’ve seen/heard/read in my life the board game Fury of Dracula is the most true to the original book. You’re basically playing the book when you play that game. The book also has lots of freaky shit that most people don’t know. Dracula bites Mina and then makes Mina drink HIS blood! Also, other than the very beginning of the book where Jonathan visits the castle, Dracula doesn’t really talk, or even appear, very much at all.

The whole book is presented as journals/diaries written by the characters about their experience, only they have been blended together into chronological order. You know how it’s so frustrating in a lot of contemporary fiction where characters just don’t stop and tell each other everything they know? There is a specific point where the characters write in their journals that they all shared their journals with each other and all got up to speed on everything and all share the same knowledge.

Also, it really shows its age. It’s extremely procedural and kinda dry. It could be made 1000x better by taking a swing at it with a big old editing axe, which is why I think so many people have attempted to do exactly that.

Now onto some painful pages.

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#198

A Mouse Divided by Jeff Ryan was a fantastic deep dive into the history of Mickey Mouse. Although I think he’s a little too critical of Iwerks’ storytelling abilities but it was highly informative and had very interesting analysis of the war years. My new go to recommendation for those curious about The Disney/Iwerks story.

Currently switching between American Lonesome: The Work of Bruce Springsteen by Gavin Cologne-Brooks, a book none of you should read but I absolutely must, and John Brown by WEB DuBois, which is kind of the spiritual and chronological precursor to his magnum opus Black Reconstruction in America. So far I’d recommend it but i’m only on chapter 2.

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#199

Ooh I didn’t know that was in OG Dracula, I thought that was something Anne Rice or White Wolf made up.

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#200

… But as yet you
are to be punished for what you have done. You have aided in
thwarting me; now you shall come to my call. When my brain
says “Come!” to you, you shall cross land or sea to do my bid-
ding; and to that end this!’ With that he pulled open his shirt,
and with his long sharp nails opened a vein in his breast. When
the blood began to spurt out, he took my hands in one of his,
holding them tight, and with the other seized my neck and
pressed my mouth to the wound, so that I must either suffocate

or swallow some of the Oh my God! my God! what have I

done? What have I done to deserve such a fate, I who have
tried to walk in meekness and righteousness all my days. God
pity me! Look down on a poor soul in worse than mortal peril;
and in mercy pity those to whom she is dear!" Then she began
to rub her lips as though to cleanse them from pollution.

EDIT: Dat public domain. Letting me just post biz easily.

For some reason project Gutenberg is down right now, but archive.org has your back.

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#201

Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw is pretty meh. Picked it up because the premise of a doctor for the supernatural was an urban fantasy angle I hadn’t seen before, but the main character performs hardly any medicine and even then only works on vampires. The plot is fairly hackneyed and it feels like a much more interesting story was happening in the background, the main group is two humans and two vampires, while the side characters include a posse of ghouls, mummies suffering from arthritis, a witch, a demon, and a selkie.

Recently finished Circe and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Loved both of them, nailed the feel of Greek myth with a modern voice (voice not language).The obvious twists that you know will happen are handled perfectly; they aren’t foreshadowed like a twist but instead make you go I know this gonna end in tragedy, oh god. Circe covers the life and times of the titular witch, the scenes with Odysseus are excellent, really captures how a modern eye would interpret the attitude and actions of the famous “hero”. Song of Achilles is the best romance I’ve ever read, although I’ll admit I haven’t read many. The ending crushed me.

Been working my way through Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler. Very interesting account of American witchcraft/paganism. For most of my life I had been skeptical of Wicca and thought of it as new age malarky but this book does a great job of detailing the historical roots of American witchcraft and the tension it struggles being co-opted by feminism (that feels like the wrong word, there are plenty of legitimate feminist witches, but there is a real rift between feminist and traditional witchcraft).

Also listening to The Witches of New York by Ami McKay, been on a real witch kick I guess. About a 3rd of the way through the book and so far it’s been enjoyable. The story jumps back and forth between several characters and meanders down side-plots/flashbacks. Feels like a story about occult NYC rather than any specific character. Been internally groaning at the overarching plot shaping up to be a chosen one plot but so far it hasn’t come to the forefront.

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