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Not so much a blog; just lots of books

Currently reading

Three Parts Dead
Max Gladstone
Conservation of Shadows
Yoon Ha Lee
Progress: 22%
Le premier jour
Marc Levy
Progress: 180/496pages
Moby-Dick: or, The Whale (Penguin Classics)
Herman Melville
Manifold: Time
Stephen Baxter, Chris Schluep
Progress: 99/480pages
The Long War
Stephen Baxter, Terry Pratchett
Progress: 68/501pages

Artemis by Andy Weir

Artemis: A Novel - Andy Weir

This started out strong, then the main character, Jazz, started showing the reader why she was known for making poor life decisions and so it got kind of annoying for a while. At least Jazz was annoying. It did redeem itself a little in the end with the way she made up with her father but overall I'd describe the book as just okay. Not great, not terrible, but with a main character who makes bad decisions and shouldn't be trusted to pull off sabotage on the moon.


Actually, describing Jazz as a lifer in a small touristy town is probably fairly accurate. Artemis only has a couple thousand permanent residents, after all, and although it doesn't seem quite fair to describe a population of technicians and so on living on the moon to be stuck there, they kind of are. Although unlike some characters who might be desperate to leave a small town, Jazz is desperate to stay.


I did quite like Jazz's father.


Side note: I'm glad I got through this one so quickly because there are apparently 172 people waiting for it at the library (with 33 copies in circulation although ten of those are express copies).


Previous updates:

222 of 305 pages

184 of 305 pages

Reading progress update: I've read 222 out of 305 pages.

Artemis: A Novel - Andy Weir

Ok, this part is kind of cute:

"Very few people get a chance to quantify how much their father loves them. But I did. The job should have taken forty-five minutes, but Dad spent three and a half hours on it. My father loves me 366 percent more than he loves anything else.

Good to know."

Reading progress update: I've read 184 out of 305 pages.

Artemis: A Novel - Andy Weir

Said about Jazz:

"I mean, it's not your style. It was risky—and you're really smart. You don't take risks unless you have to. You're not desperate for cash or anything, so far as I know. I mean, yeah, you're poor. But you're stable."


I've seen zero evidence for Jazz being smart other than figuring out a couple things quickly and honestly that doesn't take that much "smarts". She acts like a seventeen year old that never grew up.


I was initially feeling a little guilty while reading this because it started out pretty strong and I knew that other people had complained about Jazz, but I was enjoying it...and then Jazz started acting stupid (I think it was around when she blew a bunch of money on the hotel room).


I disagree that Jazz is basically a female Mark Watley. Watley was sometimes crude, yes, but smart. Jazz is super dense and only has a crap lifestyle because she never made up with her father. All evidence points to her father still caring and wanting back in her life and so she could remake herself...but she hasn't in the last eight or nine years.


She literally only has herself to blame.

Judas Unchained by Peter F Hamilton (audiobook)

Judas Unchained - Peter F. Hamilton, John      Lee

Series: Commonwealth Saga #2


It's finally over. The ending wasn't even all that interesting; stuff just happened and then things finally ended. Even the stuff with the Prime aliens and the Starflyer wasn't all that interesting in this one, so everything that bugged me about the world Hamilton created just started screaming at me. There wasn't enough to interest me to balance things out. 


This has to the most depressing and unimaginative future someone could come up with.  This may be an urban legend, but I once heard a story about someone asking Patrick Stewart why they hadn’t found a cure for baldness in the twenty-fourth century. His answer? It’s the twenty-fourth century; no one cares if Jean-Luc Picard is bald.


The universe in which we find ourselves in Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained isn’t like that. It’s shallow, ageist (physically), mysoginistic, and it portrays all socialists as terrorists. It’s considered expected and even desirable that human society has organized itself in such a way that, despite miraculous medicine, someone can be grievously injured while escaping a war zone and have to go into debt to pay their medical bills because their insurance company refuses to honour the claim. Seriously.


This is just about the most unimaginative future I have encountered. It reads more like it was written in the 1980s rather than mid-2000s. It’s also indulgently edited to the point that it reads more like an epic fantasy than a space opera and very little happens. It even had a few overtones of what should probably be called racism, but I’m open to other terms, like when a character observes that it just isn’t civilized to build a city in a humid environment like a jungle. Civilized? Wtf?


Melanie, the dimwitted wannabe journalist who pulls off amazing stuff, drove me up the wall, but lots of other characters did too.


The sex scenes were laughable and I just can’t get over how bleak a future it is. The portrayal and judgement of women in the novel just made me angry. The narrator didn’t help matters with his dull reading, but I won’t be indulging in another Hamilton even in print. There are too many better books out there.


Previous updates:

82 %

73 %


Review for Pandora's Star



Sharpe's Trafalgar by Bernard Cornwell

Sharpe's Trafalgar - Bernard Cornwell

Series: Sharpe #4 (Chronological Order)


This book started off quite strong, and I was initially enjoying Sharpe at sea (not his usual environment), but I felt things went downhill somewhat when we left the Calliope with its amusing merchant. I also didn't find the sea battle at Trafalgar to be as interesting as the battles in the previous books. Oh well. Let's hope I like the next one better!


Previous updates:

36 %

31 %

28 %

The Kobo is dead, long live the Kobo!

As discussed in my offensively-named post, my 3.5 year old Kobo Aura HD bit the dust yesterday. Kinda literally, since I dropped it on its edge (Kobos don't seem to survive this in general...they survive some droppage but not on their edges, it seems).


I lasted less than 4 hours without a functioning ereader. After not having the one of I was leaning towards in stock at the first Chapters I went to, I returned home and considered ordering one online but after trying to read on my tablet and failing (Kobo app kept chopping lines of text) I figured I'd rather have it NOW, so I headed back out to another Chapters that claimed to have more in stock. I was in luck!


My new Kobo Aura One appears to be functioning fine so far and I don't notice that it's bigger except when I literally have the two side by side. I think it's closer to a normal paperback page size, so maybe that's why.



And yes, before the new one was completed sync'd up, it seemed rather confused about my reading speed:



It seems fine now. I'm trying out the adaptive lighting option so I'll see how much that drains the battery.


I dropped my ereader and now the display is not responding. I think I need a new one.


The question is, do I get a Kobo One, a Kobo H2O, or a Kobo Aura?


(Kindle isn't a possibility due to annoyance of format and lack of library support in Canada.)


iirc I had a Kobo Aura HD.



Update: I was leaning toward the Aura One despite the high price tag (it's just so thin and pretty) but they didn't have any in stock (which means I get to research more, I guess). So I came out with the following three hardcovers (on sale):

Dark Orbit - Carolyn Ives Gilman  The Traitor Baru Cormorant - Seth Dickinson  Certain Dark Things: A Novel - Silvia Moreno-Garcia  

I was weak, I know.

Reading progress update: I've read 36%.

Sharpe's Trafalgar - Bernard Cornwell

Farley (the merchant), addressing his wife:

'You ate worse than this when we were first married, mother.'

'I cooked for you when we were first married!' she answered indignantly.

'You think I've forgotten?' Fairley asked, then spooned another mouthful of burgoo.

Yeah, it's a bit of a cheap shot, but I still think it's funny.

Reading progress update: I've read 31%.

Sharpe's Trafalgar - Bernard Cornwell

Still estimating based on ereader page count...

'I'm not happy that we lost the convoy, Sharpe. I don't approve, but on board ship it's Peculiar's word that counts, not mine. You don't buy a dog and bark yourself.'

Those are the words of the merchant, Fairley, and I have to say I quite like him. The captain's name is Peculiar Cromwell, by the way.

Reading progress update: I've listened 2006 out of 2459 minutes.

Judas Unchained - Peter F. Hamilton, John      Lee

Oh god, we just had a sequence where it took Orion three tries to get out more than "Girl". Why is he being encouraged to talk to her rather than leave her alone? (I know why: she's been hired to entertain him.)


I really hate this future and its treatment of women. 


I wonder if I can up the speed again...


Before Mars - Emma Newman

Ahem. Sorry, I'm a little excited about Emma Newman's latest book coming out, although it looks like those buying UK versions will have to wait another couple days.


I'm really tempted to just start this now, but my original plan was to reread the first two books via audio before continuing. The books are all independent, but it took me a good chunk of After Atlas to figure out who the main character actually was in relation to the characters in Planetfall. I didn't need to know for the story, but it gave it additional context. It looks like this is another mystery, too. (I haven't really been looking at any early reviews or descriptions because I know I'm going to read it.)


And look, the audiobook is read by the author. I'm probably going to have to spring for that too, aren't I?


And yes, I've just spent time adding all the books because they wouldn't import!

Reading progress update: I've read 28%.

Sharpe's Trafalgar - Bernard Cornwell

The disadvantage of reading an ebook version of this is that I can't just look at the cover or the spine to discover what year this takes place (my history isn't great when it comes to the details of the Napoleonic wars).


The disadvantage of reading a 3-book collection of Sharpe novels that include Sharpe's Trafalgar is that I'm totally guessing as to how far I'm into the book (and no, I don't see much point in tracking that I'm at about 8% in the collection because I'm not going to read all three books in a row). Oh, and it means that my cover doesn't actually have the year (yes, I can check the list in the "back". No, I didn't think of it before now).


So far this installment is entertaining, although we haven't gotten to any battles yet because Sharpe is sailing home to England (although he's the first admit that it doesn't feel like home, he doesn't really have a home, and he liked India). The captain, Cromwell, is up to something but I can't figure out what.


The food sounds really awful:

"Breakfast was at eight every morning. The steerage passengers were divided into groups of ten and the men took it in turn to fetch each mess a cauldron of burgoo from the galley in the forecastle. The burgoo was a mixture of oatmeal and scraps of beef fat that had simmered all night on the galley stove. Dinner was at mid-day and was another burgoo, though this sometimes had larger scraps of meat or fibrous pieces of dried fish floating in the burned and lumpy oatmeal. On Sundays there was salt fish and ship’s biscuits that were as hard as stone, yet even so were infested with weevils that needed to be tapped out. The biscuits had to be chewed endlessly so that it was like masticating a dried brick that was occasionally enlivened by the juice of an insect that had escaped the tapping. Tea was served at four, but only to the passengers who travelled in the stern of the ship, while the steerage passengers had to wait for supper, which was more dried fish, biscuits and a hard cheese in which red worms made miniature tunnels."

"Occasionally enlivened by the juice of an insect"...? Ugh. And I wonder if the red worms get tapped out of the cheese...?

The Truth by Terry Pratchett

The Truth - Terry Pratchett

Series: Discworld #25


Some dwarves set up a printing press in Ankh-Morporkh and Lord Vetinari decides it's time to move with the times and allow it, much to the Engravers' Guild's consternation. The book is a lot of fun, and I liked how Pratchett gave a nod to both the owner of the first printing press in England, William Caxton, and his assistant, Wynkyn de Worde, in naming William de Worde. He gets caught up in everything with the dwarves and basically invents the first newspaper on the Disc.


The scenes with Otto Chriek, the vampire photographer are great and I love it whenever poor Gaspode shows up.


Previous updates:

34 of 444 pages

253 of 444 pages

274 of 444 pages

Reading progress update: I've read 274 out of 444 pages.

The Truth - Terry Pratchett

‘—no, that’s a poodle. It doesn’t look a bit like the dog we’re after—’
‘—no, that’s not it. How do I know? Because it’s a cat. All right, then why’s it washing itself? No, I’m sorry, dogs don’t do that—’
‘—no, madam, that’s a bulldog—’
‘—no, that’s not it. No, sir, I know that’s not it. Because it’s a parrot, that’s why. You’ve taught it to bark and you’ve painted “DoG” on the side of it but it’s still a parrot—’

Reading progress update: I've read 253 out of 444 pages.

The Truth - Terry Pratchett

'A dwarf needs gold to get married.’

‘What … like a dowry? But I thought dwarfs didn’t differentiate between—’

‘No, no, the two dwarfs getting married each buy the other dwarf off their parents.’

Buy?’ said William. ‘How can you buy people?’

‘See? Cultural misunderstanding once again, lad. It costs a lot of money to raise a young dwarf to marriageable age. Food, clothes, chain mail … it all adds up over the years. It needs repaying. After all, the other dwarf is getting a valuable commodity. And it has to be paid for in gold. That’s traditional. Or gems. They’re fine, too. You must’ve heard our saying “worth his weight in gold”? Of course, if a dwarf’s been working for his parents that gets taken into account on the other side of the ledger. Why, a dwarf who’s left off marrying till late in life is probably owed quite a tidy sum in wages – you’re still looking at me in that funny way …’


‘It’s just that we don’t do it like that …’ mumbled William.

Goodmountain gave him a sharp look. ‘Don’t you, now?’ he said. ‘Really? What do you use instead, then?’

‘Er … gratitude, I suppose,’ said William. He wanted this conversation to stop, right now. It was heading out over thin ice.

‘And how’s that calculated?’

‘Well … it isn’t, as such …’

‘Doesn’t that cause problems?’


‘Ah. Well, we know about gratitude, too. But our way means the couple start their new lives in a state of …
g’daraka … er, free, unencumbered, new dwarfs. Then their parents might well give them a huge wedding present, much bigger than the dowry. But it is between dwarf and dwarf, out of love and respect, not between debtor and creditor … though I have to say these human words are not really the best way of describing it. It works for us. It’s worked for a thousand years.’

Reading progress update: I've read 34 out of 444 pages.

The Truth - Terry Pratchett

There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who, when presented with a glass that is exactly half full, say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty.

The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What’s up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don’t think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!

And at the other end of the bar the world is full of the other type of person, who has a broken glass, or a glass that has been carelessly knocked over (usually by one of the people calling for a larger glass), or who had no glass at all, because they were at the back of the crowd and had failed to catch the barman’s eye.