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Not so much a blog; just lots of books

Currently reading

A Darker Domain
Val McDermid
How To Be a Victorian
Ruth Goodman
Pandora's Star
Peter F. Hamilton, John Lee
Progress: 485/2241minutes
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

Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson, Abandoned @ 10%

Deadhouse Gates - Steven Erikson

Series: The Malazan Book of the Fallen #2


I'm invoking the "Life is too short and I have too many better books to read" clause.


I really wasn't a fan of Gardens of the Moon, the first book in the series, but I kept hearing from my friends that the first book isn't actually all that good and that Erikson learned how to write in the interim. Maybe. But the writing wasn't my only criticism of Gardens of the Moon. Mostly I was just bored.


The same thing happened here. The "clever" banter felt stale and I just didn't find myself interested in any of the characters. I was briefly interested in the apparent storyline to go assassinate the Empress, but honestly the plan felt so convoluted (yes, we want to go to point A but first we have to go to points B and C so that we can get further away to point D so that eventually we can get to point A and have our backup magically parachute in...ok, I admit I was probably half-skimming at that point) that I don't feel there will be enough pay off even there.


Sure, Erikson has invented a complicated fantasy world...but I just don't find it very interesting. This is the tired old fantasy in a new setting, the kind of stuff that made me swear off most fantasy (except for Pratchett) for the better part of a decade growing up.


I'll admit I decided to bail after reading the part about how Felisin is trading sex for favours, not because this is happening in the story, but because of the way it's described. It's a tired old cliché that's so impersonal it's just dull. The funny thing is that Felisin is supposed to be a protagonist and you feel absolutely nothing for her. Anyway, I basically went "Oh, so it's going to be THAT kind of story again...sigh. There are way too many pages left..." And put the book aside.


There are better books out there. Hell, there's better sword & sorcery fantasy out there. And by better I mean not clichéd and can actually hold my interest.

Spin by Robert Charles Wilson

Spin - Robert Charles Wilson

Series: Spin #1


I debated between 2.5 and 3 stars but I guess I was feeling generous because I settled on 3. I may change my mind.


It's a great concept and wanting to find out what had happened kept me reading. Basically, one night all the stars go out and humanity discovers the entire planet has been enveloped in a weird opaque (-ish) membrane that has a simulated sun but doesn't actually let anyone see through it. And somehow Earth's perception of time has slowed way down with respect to the rest of the solar system. So Wilson invokes crazy physics in an interesting way because the general consensus is that some alien race has done this...for reasons.


So I really wanted to found out more about these "Hypotheticals" (the aliens) and what they had done to the Earth, but I struggled to get through the book because I didn't actually like any of the characters. Tyler was tiresome, Jason was your sort of typical nerd genius, I got tired of E. D., the abusive father (verbal and mental abuse, not physical) real fast, and I had zero patience for Diane's desire to ruin her life by running off to find religion and marry a controlling husband. Tyler's thing for Diane was more pathetic than romantic, and some of what I would have found way more interesting (the stuff that was happening to Jason) got glossed over near the end because Tyler just wasn't around for most of it.


I know Wilson already played the crazy physics card with the Spin membrane but I just couldn't suspend my disbelief very well for the Mars terraforming plan. Mars is just too small for that to work, especially over that kind of time scale. Seriously, you'd lose all the "atmosphere" you liberated unless you repeatedly crashed comets into it, and even then....


But I did want to keep reading, which why I went with 3 over 2.5 stars.


Previous updates:

5 %

Reading progress update: I've listened 485 out of 2241 minutes.

Pandora's Star - Peter F. Hamilton, John      Lee

Wtf is with this professional wife bullshit where she needs a rejuvenation because she thinks her hips are too wide? Nice "future", Hamilton. 


I can understand talking about the added pressure due to her circumstances but some of this is just stupid. 

Reading progress update: I've listened 464 out of 2241 minutes.

Pandora's Star - Peter F. Hamilton, John      Lee

Magellanic Cloud has a soft g, John Lee.

Reading progress update: I've listened 444 out of 2241 minutes.

Pandora's Star - Peter F. Hamilton, John      Lee

It's still kinda boring, but I'm now curious to see what the starship will discover at the Dyson sphere stars.


I did have a bit of an issue with a scene that basically amounts to statutory rape. A 50+ rejuvenated woman (I can't remember how many rejuvenations she's had) has sex with a 17-year-old boy who's actually undergoing a rite of passage (so borderline adult but not actually considered an adult). He thinks she's just a couple years older than him because that's what she looks like and she doesn't correct him. I'm thinking that's not cool and it counts as statutory rape, but I'd be curious to know how others see the situation.

Reading progress update: I've read 5%.

Spin - Robert Charles Wilson

Maybe I'm being picky, but these kids don't seem like they're twelve- and thirteen-year-olds. Yes, the main character is recounting the story from a point in time in the future, but I'm having trouble suspending my disbelief. And not because all of the stars have disappeared.


Perhaps I should look for a book that'll make me less cranky.

Reading progress update: I've listened 54 out of 2241 minutes.

Pandora's Star - Peter F. Hamilton, John      Lee

I know I haven't made it very far but I'm already wondering if I'm going to make it. I'm not a fan of John Lee's narration so far. It just seems really dry and easy to tune out. But I don't think I'd make it through an actual book of this so maybe I should just stick to the audio. Or give up on Peter Hamilton altogether.

The Faithful Dead by Alys Clare

The Faithful Dead - Alys Clare

Series: Hawkenlye Mysteries #5


I'm not sure why the reliance on magic bugs me so much on these books but it does. I think part of it is that there doesn't seem to be much investigating going on. A big chunk of the book was actually a flashback to Josse's father's crusading time. And then stuff just happens to Josse and there are reveals due to magical inspiration or something and...yeah. The whole thing wasn't very satisfying.


I keep reading these books because I do like the characters but I always seem to expect the books to be something that they're not.

Non-book related cat post



I thought I'd share this story because some of you might get a kick out of it and I do think it's kinda funny. Plus I may go into withdrawal tomorrow along with everyone else.


So I had Balou (the cat) into the vet and the vet recommended a paste supplement and suggested trying the trick of smearing it on his paws if he isn't too keen on eating it. I was skeptical, since I haven't had much success with the technique with hairball treatment, but it was taken under advisement after the vet suggested that he probably wouldn't be smart enough to rub it off onto the furniture.


I struggled a bit with the first dose because although Balou tasted it he was not inclined to eat the whole dose, so when the same thing happened with the evening dose I thought I'd give the smearing on the paw trick a try.


He didn't lick it off. He walked around a bit occasionally shaking his paw but I didn't see him try to lick it. Fortunately he didn't actually lie down on top of his paws thus spreading it all over him.


What he did do after a few minutes was go use the litter box and then try to fight me when I wiped all of it off using a wet paper towel.


Sigh. I think I'll go back to force-feeding him. I'm not even sure if mixing it with chicken would work.


Wish me luck.

Abaddon's Gate by James S. A. Corey (audiobook)

Abaddon's Gate  - James S.A. Corey, Jefferson Mays

Series: The Expanse #3


Another audio re-read to catch me up in the series. Here we finally discover what the protomolecule was cooking up on Venus and I'm really glad I reread this before continuing on with the series because I'd forgotten about some key plot points.


Hopefully I get to the next one before the details fade in my memory. Again.

Miss Marple: The Complete Stories by Agatha Christie

Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories: A Miss Marple Collection - Agatha Christie

It looks like this collection contains all of the stories from The Thirteen Problems as well as some additional stories. I think Miss Marple lends herself well to the short story format, although I didn't enjoy the later stories quite as much as the earlier ones. Overall they were pretty good though.


Previous update:

46 %

January 2018 Wrap-Up

I didn't have a very productive January but it was better than December.


Books read: 11

Average rating: 3.4

Current TBR: 477

Audiobooks: 3


4.5 & 5 stars (both rereads)

The Stars Are Legion - Kameron Hurley  Doomsday Book - Connie Willis  


4 stars

My Favorite Universe - Neil deGrasse Tyson A Long Day in Lychford - Paul Cornell Astrophysics for People in a Hurry - Neil deGrasse Tyson 


2.5 & 3 stars

Caliban's War  - James S.A. Corey,Jefferson Mays  Venomous: How Earth's Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry - Christie Wilcox Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  The X-Files: Cold Cases - Dean Haglund,Tom Braidwood,Willliam B. Davis,Dirk Maggs - adaptation,David Duchovny,Audible Studios,Mitch Pileggi,Joe Harris,Chris Carter,Bruce Harwood,Gillian Anderson   


2 stars

Rise of the Necrofauna: The Science, Ethics, and Risks of De-Extinction - George Earl Church,Britt Wray The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth) - N.K. Jemisin 


Reading progress update: I've read 46%.

Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories: A Miss Marple Collection - Agatha Christie

“That’s just where you’re wrong,” said Mrs. Bantry. “Youth, as such, has no charms for young men nowadays. It’s only old buffers like you, Arthur, who sit maundering on about young girls.”
“Being young’s no good,” said Jane. “You’ve got to have SA.”

“What,” said Miss Marple, “is SA?”
“Sex appeal,” said Jane.
“Ah! yes,” said Miss Marple. “What in my day they used to call ‘having the come hither in your eye.’”

“Not a bad description,” said Sir Henry.


It's not as funny here as when Poirot talks about it.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry - Neil deGrasse Tyson

I may not be the target audience since although I'm basically a layman when it comes to astrophysics, I have been known to actively seek it out. Overall it was a good, concise overview, although I was a little disappointed that Tyson didn't mention that the Russians also had satellites in orbit to detect gamma rays from nuclear detonations (it's one of those funny cold war stories). But then I guess it wouldn't have been as concise as it was.


I did find it odd that some parts appeared to be strangely familiar until I realized that he reused a few of his examples from the lecture series I recently listened to (I guess they're his go-to examples).


The writing also had its quirky lines, although I only noted one of the page numbers to refer back to it, so I'll leave you with this from by 87:

"So dark matter is our frenemy."

If that sounds interesting but weird, maybe you should give the book a try. I'm not sure it would be something I'd want to refer back to, though, so if you're already generally familiar with the current state of astrophysics, you may want to check out a library copy like I did.

A Long Day in Lychford by Paul Cornell

A Long Day in Lychford - Paul Cornell

Series: Lychford #3


This installment in this series fell back on the pattern where I don't find the start all that interesting (although it ties into things later) and I basically cursed one of the main characters for being an idiot (seriously, Autumn needs to grow up), but overall it's a pretty good little story and I liked it, so I guess I'm feeling generous after The Stone Sky.

The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin

The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth) - N.K. Jemisin

Series: The Broken Earth Trilogy #3


The last book in this trilogy was disappointing, but I'm not exactly sure why. I just wasn't engaged this time around, and the story seemed slower. A lot of the story solicited the reactions "Meh" or "Really?" and for some reason the second person stuff bothered me more this time around. I'm not sure whether there was actually more of it or whether it felt odder because it was mixed in with more first-person stuff? Maybe? And I had trouble empathizing with Nassun's motivations in parts of it. In retrospect, we spent the entire book waiting around until the moon gets close enough to do something about it.


I don't really have specific criticisms; it just didn't really work for me. The chapters set in the past didn't make the world more interesting. I was half-tempted to drop it partway through and finished it basically to have the complete story. I have a feeling I'm going to be the exception, though, and everyone else will love it.