Book Club + What Are You Reading? (December 2018)

Oct 27, 2017
1,182
#52
I don't use my eyes for fiction nowadays. The audio version of Seven Deaths is very good. I've listened to it many times. Eventually I figured it out. It's still always a fun read.
I never listened to audiobooks. I fear my mind will just wander in stead of listening.

Anyway, I just think the book wasn't really for me. It's very plotheavy and those aren't usually the stories I like to read. I only read it because I heard great stuff about it and how it was a puzzlebox of sorts. It works in that regard, sure, it just didn't grip me.
 
May 23, 2018
11
dd.sn.de
#55
May I use this thread for a little question I have got about the different editions of The Hobbit?

My girlfriend wants to read The Hobbit. Every time we found it in a book store she looked at the standard edition and was disappointed in it because it was not the "edition with all the illustrations". She really loves nice and sweet illustrations in books. So I went on a journey finding this particular edition of the hobbit and thought I found the "ultimate" illustrated one. The Deluxe Edition! (caution video inside) But then I stumbled upon a Guardian article that was describing the release of The Art of The Hobbit. In this release all the illustrations about The Hobbit by Tolkien himself were getting published and some of them were just recently found, published never before. I thought that they put the artwork by Tolkien in this deluxe edition, but I noticed that the article was from 2011 and the Deluxe Edition was published in 2004. That brings me to the conclusion that the Deluxe Edition of the book does not contain all of Tolkien's illustrations. What a bummer. I thought I found the "definite" edition. Now I am back to the start and I cannot decide what to do. I am leaning towards getting the Facsimile Gift Edition (again video) (I also think it has a better look overall) of the book and adding the artbook on top. The downside would be that the illustrations will not be included in the book itself (or at least not as many).

So my question would be:
Would you decide yourselves for the same option or do you know of a better issue of the book?

Thanks BookERA!
 
Nov 1, 2017
1,689
#56
Finished these two recently...



I'm glad I convinced myself to keep going with this one after wanting to put it down during the long section beneath the Hayholt. Williams' prose are beautiful. I'm completely envious of his ability to craft a sentence and to paint a picture in readers' minds. The geopolitics are complex, the size of the cast is bigger than any fantasy book I've ever read, and everything still manages to feel new-but-familiar. After I finished the book, I re-read the intro and first few pages again. And I wanted to keep going to experience the whole thing again so I could better understand who is who and where they're coming from. This is a difficult book that's worth the investment. It took me over 3 weeks to finish, but it was well worth it. Here is my Goodreads review:

This isn’t an easy book.

Tad Williams eases you in with familiar fantasy tropes by dropping you into the world of Osten Ard, where you follow the day-to-day life of a scullion and the drama surrounding the impending succession of a great king. It all feels nice and cosy and is made that much more pleasant as a result of Williams’ evocative prose. (After reading this book, I’d venture to say that Williams is one of the best sentence crafters in all of fantasy)

The book then takes a dip in the first third, as it spends a good chunk of time following the aforementioned scullion around the labyrinth beneath the castle. It’s a very long escape sequence that depicts practically every single step of the protagonist’s journey. Gotta be honest, I considered dropping the book there and then.

But I’m glad I didn’t.

Eventually, you get glimpses of what’s really going on and what the real threat is on top of what could have just been a story of sibling rivalry for the throne and of a nobody-turned-somebody hero.

Then geopolitics start being prominently pushed into the narrative. As does religion. And suddenly you’re trying to keep up with who came from where and is interested in what and who worships who.

The great thing about this is that these elements are there almost right from the start, so when the book starts pushing them more by introducing you to dozens of characters, you do feel out of your depth a bit, but you still want to keep going because you’ve at least got a feel for the interests and different regions these characters are coming from. This is the bit that’s not easy, as you WILL occasionally feel overwhelmed by the size of the cast and everything going on in the narrative. But it’s worth trudging through.

There is some wonderful action in this book, and a lot of engaging world building that doesn’t hit you over the head with exposition. More than anything, the book makes you want to spend time in its world.

You want to hang out with Simon, Binabik, Miriamele, and Josua to learn more about them and their desires. You want to keep reading just to admire Williams’ writing. And you want to know what happens next. (well, once you get past the first 200-300 pages, and the labyrinth section in particular)

I won’t be jumping to the second book of this series right away because I’ve got a ton of other books I need to get to on my bookshelf, but I’ll definitely be returning to this world in the future. I didn’t do a great job of talking this book up in this review, but I really did enjoy it and can see the appeal this world has for so many people.

4.25/5
Also finished listening to this Great Course offering:



It was great! I already like Thomas Shippey because of his work on Tolkien, but this made me appreciate him even more. I'm now interested in reading other books, namely Don Quixote and the Iliad, after listening to Shippey deconstruct them. Here is my in-progress review of the book...

If you've ever heard and enjoyed Thomas Shippey wax poetic about Tolkien and middle-earth, or if you're simply interested in examinations of iconic literary figures, this Great Course is an excellent primer on the similarities and differences between heroes as old as Odysseus to as current as Harry Potter. Shippey does an excellent job of deconstructing narratives, placing them in their historical contexts, and opining on why each of the heroes mentioned was so influential during their time and continues to be so in ours.

Each period and geographical location from which these stories sprung forth had different anxieties, needs, and desires that required an avatar and cultural narrative to help make sense of the listener's or reader's reality. In short, a hero is someone people have been waiting for, as the stories we tell reveal our anxieties, needs, and desires. (more coming...review not finished)
I just started this today and should finish it by Friday...



Reading through the intro, which is loaded with names and dates, so I'm not really taking anything in just yet aside from the fact that this story came out of Mesopotamia almost 5000 years ago, and that Gilgamesh was a real king. Anyway, it's a quick one, and I'm looking forward to finally reading the text myself. I have a slender Penguins Classic edition.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,332
#58
Finished up a quick reread of The Rise and Fall of DoDo by Neal Stephenson and NIcole Galland.

This book definitely has some areas where the stephenson influence is more apparent, and others were it must be the other author. Overall it is a fun story filled with technological plausibility, anachronisms and magic.

Compared to the rest of Stephenson's work its not as heavy or involved as even REAMDE or Snow Crash. By far his most accessible book. It sort of reads like it was at one point a TV show pitch/movie spec script that was given its unique story structure in order to adapt the pitch/spec script into a novel. I know I would watch it.

Still dissapointed that the ebook version is still broken, especially two of the characters POV scenes at the very end of the book. you can follow it but it makes it very hard to understand what happens to one character and I to this day do not understand the motivation behind what one character did at the end.

Starting up The Empire of Ashes, by Anthony Ryan. After my initial issues with reading the first novel in the draconis memoria (I found it boring up until the "treasure hunting" section kicked off), I blew through the second and picked up the third. Looking forward to it!
 
Oct 27, 2017
5,339
Sunderland
#59
I never listened to audiobooks. I fear my mind will just wander in stead of listening.

Anyway, I just think the book wasn't really for me. It's very plotheavy and those aren't usually the stories I like to read. I only read it because I heard great stuff about it and how it was a puzzlebox of sorts. It works in that regard, sure, it just didn't grip me.
I listen to books over and over again, so what I get is out of sequence, especially as I listen at bed time and often fall asleep and then wake up in a later chapter. Listening in this way is a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle, but I like it. The very nature of Seven Deaths forces the reader to experience the story in that disjointed way, so I felt quite at home listening to this story.
 
Oct 25, 2017
700
#60
So I read The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle , and wasn't as enthralled as others were. Her writing style and descriptions were on point, but I just didn't care for the overall plot. I'll put the rest in spoilers.

Time travel, as always, ends up a bit aggravating. Can't do anything to alter the loop, except when you actually can. Fine, whatever, I'll handwave this Jeremy Bearimy bullshit.

My early theory was a purgatory situation where he was trying to save or somehow redeem a loved one, Anna. The twist on his obsession with her was pretty good, though I had a little trouble buying he'd forgive her so easily in this loop. As for the actual background of this being a prison sentence, I was okay with it, though I didn't feel like there was any way to come to that conclusion without the plague doctor flat out revealing it. My biggest problem with the premise is that they had to somehow be all-knowing enough to be able to put them into 100% accurate crime scenes, yet still needed their help figuring it out? Aside from that, it may have been thousands of attempts, over decades of time, but they never stuck him into Michael, Evelyn, or Evelyn's body double? Seems like the entire crime would have fallen apart and been easily solved at that point.

Solving that mystery from our perspective was fun though. There's a board game series called Time Stories that is extremely similar, if anyone is into that.
 
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MilkBeard
Oct 25, 2017
2,556
#61
I just finished A Wizard of Earthsea.

I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was a fairly quick read, but the writing was rich, and the world felt real. I loved that aspect about the story. I also enjoyed the travels of the main character, and the personal struggle.

My one issue I had was that the final confrontation felt a bit weak compared to the experience building up to it. But still, I left with a nice feeling, and I also enjoyed reading Le Guin's afterword about how she wrote the story. I also read this from the new Earthsea collection, which is a large, tome-like book (and quite fitting!). I'll most likely start reading book 2 in the series in January.

I gave it 4/5 stars on Goodreads. I'm now going to move on to the book of the month, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. I'll start it either tomorrow or the next day. Sometimes I like to take a day off between finishing books to give some space.
 

Slim

Member
Sep 24, 2018
883
#62
Finished these two recently...



I'm glad I convinced myself to keep going with this one after wanting to put it down during the long section beneath the Hayholt. Williams' prose are beautiful. I'm completely envious of his ability to craft a sentence and to paint a picture in readers' minds. The geopolitics are complex, the size of the cast is bigger than any fantasy book I've ever read, and everything still manages to feel new-but-familiar. After I finished the book, I re-read the intro and first few pages again. And I wanted to keep going to experience the whole thing again so I could better understand who is who and where they're coming from. This is a difficult book that's worth the investment. It took me over 3 weeks to finish, but it was well worth it. Here is my Goodreads review:



Also finished listening to this Great Course offering:



It was great! I already like Thomas Shippey because of his work on Tolkien, but this made me appreciate him even more. I'm now interested in reading other books, namely Don Quixote and the Iliad, after listening to Shippey deconstruct them. Here is my in-progress review of the book...



I just started this today and should finish it by Friday...



Reading through the intro, which is loaded with names and dates, so I'm not really taking anything in just yet aside from the fact that this story came out of Mesopotamia almost 5000 years ago, and that Gilgamesh was a real king. Anyway, it's a quick one, and I'm looking forward to finally reading the text myself. I have a slender Penguins Classic edition.
Holy shit, I totally forgot about The Epic of Gilgamesh. Gonna read it during christmas!



This one leans more towards rational thinking and whatnot. It's a good book, although some parts aren't that interesting and straight up boring.
 

TheBeardedOne

Banned
Member
Oct 27, 2017
17,513
Northern Ontario
#65
Is Into the Water worth reading? I kept seeing it and was intrigued by its premise and cover, but have since heard that it has too many viewpoints and is confusing. Has anyone here read it?
 
Oct 31, 2017
3,082
#70
I only know The City and the City, which I enjoyed listening to in a reading by John Lee for Random House Audio (via Audible.) I also enjoyed watching the BBC2 production starring David Morrissey earlier this year.
read The Scar from him some time back. really good book.
What about the Stillhouse Lake books?



A year ago, maybe, I posted a thread asking for book recommendations and The City & The City was recommended highly. I got it out from the library and still have it, but haven't read it yet. I need to soon.
Cool!

I really enjoyed The City and the City. I havent seen the BBC production yet though.

I know some people find him pretentious and overly political but I absolutely love his Bas Lag novels, especially Perdido Street Station and The Scar. Embassytown is another good one too.
 
Oct 26, 2017
332
#71
I just finished A Wizard of Earthsea.

I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was a fairly quick read, but the writing was rich, and the world felt real. I loved that aspect about the story. I also enjoyed the travels of the main character, and the personal struggle.

My one issue I had was that the final confrontation felt a bit weak compared to the experience building up to it. But still, I left with a nice feeling, and I also enjoyed reading Le Guin's afterword about how she wrote the story. I also read this from the new Earthsea collection, which is a large, tome-like book (and quite fitting!). I'll most likely start reading book 2 in the series in January.

I gave it 4/5 stars on Goodreads. I'm now going to move on to the book of the month, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. I'll start it either tomorrow or the next day. Sometimes I like to take a day off between finishing books to give some space.
Wizard of earthsea was one of my favorite books when I was younger and is still special to me. I've considered rereading it to see what I think now, but I may wait until my son is old enough and read it with him. I liked the other books in the series but my recollection is that they sort of get weaker as they go. Still worth it but wizard of earthsea is so good it's hard to hit those highs.
 
Oct 25, 2017
594
#74
I'm currently reading Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber.

I usually shy away from pop-science and especially pop-social science books, but Graeber here shows an equal combination of wit and self-restraint so that you know exactly what you are getting: a light introduction to an important social issue that begs the reader to look further into the research if they are curious to know more, all presented in a digestible way for the lay-reader.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,611
#75
Is Into the Water worth reading? I kept seeing it and was intrigued by its premise and cover, but have since heard that it has too many viewpoints and is confusing. Has anyone here read it?
Yeah I’ve read it, and it’s not confusing whatsoever. I didn’t mind it, about on the same level as Girl on the Train I reckon. The ending is a bit limp, but there’s some very weird and interesting characters to keep you entertained throughout.
 

TheBeardedOne

Banned
Member
Oct 27, 2017
17,513
Northern Ontario
#76
Yeah I’ve read it, and it’s not confusing whatsoever. I didn’t mind it, about on the same level as Girl on the Train I reckon. The ending is a bit limp, but there’s some very weird and interesting characters to keep you entertained throughout.
Alright, maybe I'll read it then. I had been considering returning it to lessen the load.
 

ara

Member
Oct 26, 2017
3,483
#78
I tried reading The City and The City some years ago, but the prose was surprisingly difficult and I had trouble wrapping my head around the concepts, so I ended up dropping it.

Alloy of Law is starting to lose me, around a 120 pages in. I'm not sure I really care about any of the driving questions so far, and the ten-ish page battle that just ensued was just so stupidly boring to me. I also read a plot summary of the original trilogy some days ago and was reminded how little I cared about those, and it made me realize that any bigger, cool surprises or twists in Alloy of Law and sequels are probably gonna be somewhat tied to the originals, the Cosmere or the world, which means they won't work for me at all. Also taking a bite out of my motivation to continue.

It's a fairly short book, so I'll probably fight my way to the end (skimming through all the fighting parts), maybe even start the sequel (since I already own it) if AoL ends on a good note, but drop the series for good if at some point all the Cosmere stuff (gods and Shards and ancient shit and whatever) takes the stage.

--

In the mean time, I'll continue thoroughly enjoying 1Q84 and Brief Answers to the Big Questions. Both are pretty heavy reads, but I'm loving them so far. Might also check A Wizard of Earthsea out, you guys seem to like it and it seems like a nice, light, quick read.
 
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MilkBeard
Oct 25, 2017
2,556
#80
Wizard of earthsea was one of my favorite books when I was younger and is still special to me. I've considered rereading it to see what I think now, but I may wait until my son is old enough and read it with him. I liked the other books in the series but my recollection is that they sort of get weaker as they go. Still worth it but wizard of earthsea is so good it's hard to hit those highs.
As an adult first-time reader of the book, it holds up really well today. I can't wait to read the rest of the books, despite people saying they aren't quite as good as the first.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,884
#81
So I decided I'm just going to finish off the second trilogy with The Bands of Mourning


Just in the early parts, but I'm definitely enjoy it so far!
 
Nov 1, 2017
1,689
#83
I'm now into the actual text of The Epic of Gilgamesh. This book/collection of ancient tablets is so much fun! I know it's just a set of unconnected episodes, but the way the translator in my edition connects the stories and how he writes them - as a straight narrative, not a word-for-word translation - is very readable, and Gilgamesh and his bro 4 life Enkidu are just two demi-gods going around killing monsters, such as a cedar forest guardian and the Bull of Heaven. Good times!

Pretty sure I'll read this one two times in a row since it's so short, clear, loaded with action, and is a rip-roaring good time. Oh, and it's totally written through the male gaze of near-5000 years ago, which is more quaint and comical than creepy when read through modern eyes.
 
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Nov 1, 2017
1,689
#84
As an adult first-time reader of the book, it holds up really well today. I can't wait to read the rest of the books, despite people saying they aren't quite as good as the first.
Is the first book a satisfying story on its own, or does it end on a cliff-hanger that tells you it's obviously a series?
 
Oct 29, 2017
398
#85
I'm a sucker for a gorgeous cover. How is the actual book?
I haven't read enough yet, I'll post again once I get a feel for it though. And yeah I picked it by cover really and it had 4.25 stars on Google Play books.

https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=sapnCwAAQBAJ
The Vagrant is his name. He has no other.
Years have passed since humanity’s destruction emerged from the Breach.

Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape.

As each day passes the world tumbles further into depravity, bent and twisted by the new order, corrupted by the Usurper, the enemy, and his infernal horde.

His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race, and deliver the only weapon that may make a difference in the ongoing war.

What little hope remains is dying. Abandoned by its leader, The Seven, and its heroes, The Seraph Knights, the last defences of a once great civilisation are crumbling into dust.

But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place.
 
Nov 1, 2017
1,689
#86
I haven't read enough yet, I'll post again once I get a feel for it though. And yeah I picked it by cover really and it had 4.25 stars on Google Play books.

https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=sapnCwAAQBAJ
Sounds like a pretty overt Christian allegory for heaven and hell. But that's pretty normal for a lot of fantasy. Good, evil, dark lord, emissaries of light, etc. Hope it's good!

The Vagrant is his name. He has no other.
Years have passed since humanity’s destruction emerged from the Breach.

Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape.

As each day passes the world tumbles further into depravity, bent and twisted by the new order, corrupted by the Usurper, the enemy, and his infernal horde.

His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race, and deliver the only weapon that may make a difference in the ongoing war.

What little hope remains is dying. Abandoned by its leader, The Seven, and its heroes, The Seraph Knights, the last defences of a once great civilisation are crumbling into dust.

But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place.
 
Oct 31, 2017
3,082
#87
I'll also say this about China Mieville. I'll put it in spoilers even though I am not giving so much away.

Perdido Street Station has an exceptionally brutal and pretty horrific ending. To such an extent a friend of mine told me he will hesitate before reading books I recommend again. Saying that though, I loved the ending of The Scar so much and related to it in a number of pretty personal ways. The Scar is up there in my favorite books ever.

Also, as much as I love a lot of his stuff, I dropped out halfway through The Kraken. Love the concept and idea, just don't like the execution. Felt like he was trying too hard and missed the mark, to me.
 
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MilkBeard
Oct 25, 2017
2,556
#88
Is the first book a satisfying story on its own, or does it end on a cliff-hanger that tells you it's obviously a series?
It has its own ending, without trying to connect to leave threads for a sequel. If I were to guess without reading book 2, it feels like the story of this character is "complete" in a sense, even if it does continue in the next book.
 
Nov 1, 2017
1,689
#89
It has its own ending, without trying to connect to leave threads for a sequel. If I were to guess without reading book 2, it feels like the story of this character is "complete" in a sense, even if it does continue in the next book.
Nice. Might just get the first book before getting the giant tome. My to-read pile is already at 66, and I don't want to add more to it at the moment, though. :) If it's a great fantasy book, I'd also love to give it to my kids one day.
 
Oct 26, 2017
4,660
#90
I read through Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee. Decent.

Now I'm back to rereading A Wizard of Earthsea. I think I'm more than halfway through, and I think it's been years a book sucked me in like this and I had to stop myself from progressing to the next chapter because it was 3 in the morning.

Also started Dhalgren.
 

TheBeardedOne

Banned
Member
Oct 27, 2017
17,513
Northern Ontario
#93
I want to try to find a first edition of 20th Century Ghosts for a good price. I have that version out from the library (and have for a while, though I got a paperback from Book Depository last month), and it's really nice. The hardcover has a unique texture and is really well put together.

They're generally pretty expensive though.
 
Nov 1, 2017
1,689
#94
I want to try to find a first edition of 20th Century Ghosts for a good price. I have that version out from the library (and have for a while, though I got a paperback from Book Depository last month), and it's really nice. The hardcover has a unique texture and is really well put together.

They're generally pretty expensive though.
I see a lot of options on Google image search. Is it this one?

 
Jan 13, 2018
163
Los Angeles
#98
On my audiobook livestream on Mixer, we're halfway through Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. (Next week will be some sword & sorcery shenanigans)



For my own personal reading, I'm starting Twelve Years A Slave by Solomon Northup. I'm quite interested to compare this to the recent film adaptation.
 
Nov 1, 2017
1,689
#99
On my audiobook livestream on Mixer, we're halfway through Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. (Next week will be some sword & sorcery shenanigans)



For my own personal reading, I'm starting Twelve Years A Slave by Solomon Northup. I'm quite interested to compare this to the recent film adaptation.
I know there's some backlash against Heart of Darkness, but I loved it. It was one of the few books that I read twice in a row. Absolutely loved the prose, the descent into madness, the recognition of inhumanity. Just a very powerful book.

Chinua Achebe called the book racist. I see this reading of it as well, but still think it's worth going through for its prose and narrative.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,611
I'm roughly halfway through this and think it's pretty darn great so far.

The author doesn't use " " whenever a character talks which was weird at first, but the style has grown on me.