Author Topic: What have you read lately?  (Read 42062 times)

bioteacher

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 106
  • CHE Posts: 7409
Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #45 on: July 08, 2019, 03:56:53 PM »
I have to confess I have not read many books lately. I have been reading thousands and thousands of pages of excellent fan fiction. Some of these stories are so much better than published works I have read. The diversity of characters and backgrounds is also delicious, since they are written by and for fans. The white centric gatekeepers don't get a vote here, and I've learned so much from reading these stories.

The downside is that not only are there too many books to read in my lifetime but the fanfic supply doubles or triples the amount of reading I want to do. No one has invented day-doubling software or the universal pause button. I want to read, darn it. Everything else is an interruption.

ab_grp

  • Distinguished Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2043
  • CHE Posts: 7,653
Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #46 on: July 09, 2019, 11:09:53 AM »
I have lots of updating to do at some point, but I wanted to point out the book we're currently reading.  It's recently released, Velocity Weapon by Megan E. O'Keefe.  It's number one of a series (at least a planned one, I guess), and I think it's her debut novel.   I'm really into this book! The basic premise (from the back of the book so I don't spoil anything) is that a gunship sergeant's ship is destroyed during a battle, and she is saved in an evac pod, expecting to be roused from her protective sleep by her people after the pod is recovered.  Instead, she is awakened and finds herself on board one of the enemy's ships with no other humans on board.  Oh, it's also 230 years later, and her home planet and system have been destroyed.  Not on the back cover, but introduced right away (and was in the summary I read in best sci-fi books of June 2019) is her younger brother who is about to take on a new role/responsibility just as the news about the gunship disaster breaks.  So there are those two story arcs/time periods and also another, not sure yet how that fits in exactly other than speculation.  So far, it's a pretty intense story, lots of wondering what's going to happen next, some good dialogue and mostly interesting characters.  This is one of those books that just makes me want to hold my breath and hope it's good the whole way through and doesn't fall apart later on.  I also hope the story gets wrapped up to some extent in case there are no further books written in the series. 

Anyone else reading this or planning to?

Conjugate

  • Full Professor and Punster
  • Moderator
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 97
  • CHE Posts: 19,500
Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #47 on: July 09, 2019, 05:40:56 PM »
I have lots of updating to do at some point, but I wanted to point out the book we're currently reading.  It's recently released, Velocity Weapon by Megan E. O'Keefe.   
Snip!

Anyone else reading this or planning to?

Yes, at some point when the paychecks resume. I've got a list of people whose works I want to try. I'm currently re-reading some old Rex Stout, including an omnibus that contains And Be A Villain, the second book that touches on Nero Wolfe's nemesis, Z.

These are a fun read if you don't mind the fact that Wolfe is a misogynist, his sidekick Archie Goodwin is a womanizer, and all the character's attitudes are solidly 1930s. For instance, in one of the novels (The League of Frightened Men), Archie refers to a disabled character as a "lop" (for lopsided) and is sternly corrected by Wolfe to say cripple.

I also plan to get and read Aliette de Bodard's The Tea Master And The Detective, another mystery set in a science-fictional future. (I believe that the Tea Master of the title is a sentient spacecraft; in any case, one of the characters is, according to the reviews.) I expect much less offensive content there, obviously.
∀ε>0∃δ>0∋|x–a|<δ⇒|ƒ(x)-ƒ(a)|<ε

ab_grp

  • Distinguished Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2043
  • CHE Posts: 7,653
Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #48 on: July 18, 2019, 12:12:13 PM »
Conjy, I hope you do get to pick it up at some point (and enjoy it!).  I don't typically buy new books, but Velocity Weapon (and Recursion by Blake Crouch, which we have not yet read) was a Father's Day gift I bought for my spouse.  We finished Velocity Weapon a day or two ago.  We ended up giving it 4/5 on Goodreads.  I think it held up well throughout and remained interesting, and I'd like to read the next book if/when that comes out.  I just took a look at the author's website, and it looks as though I misspoke a bit.  This seems to be her debut sci-fi novel.  She has a couple fantasy novels under her belt. 

Back to the review.  When trying to come up with a rating, we ended up comparing VW to other books that we gave 5s to.  We thought the N.K. Jemisin trilogy was very well done, and there are elements of that series that we were reminded of when reading VW (parts of the society were similar).  But N.K. Jemisin came up with a whole new "world", which I think she did pretty well and coherently.  In some ways that seems easier, because the author has a lot of latitude to make up locations, distances, etc. as long as they make sense as described (especially important if you need to visualize a made-up world, even if it's sort of based in reality).  VW is described as a space opera, and while Earth is part of the story, it takes place elsewhere.  In some ways, this is similar to some of Alastair Reynolds' space operas.   In comparing those authors, what I really like about AR is the technical descriptions and scientific basis (okay, sometimes it can be a bit much).  In VW it was not always easy for us to tell where locations were with respect to each other, how to get from one to the other, and so forth, which made it difficult to tell what options characters had (so hard to speculate about where the story might be going), what implications were of some actions, etc.  Of course, AR is a scientist, so that makes sense, and I don't hold it against M O'K, but it is a point of comparison.  Another weakness we docked "points" for was the main enemy.  Despite building them up a bit, we never really got to know much about them, and the few interactions almost seemed a bit more humorous than maybe they should have been to get across the threat. 

Aside from these minor issues, I thought the story was pretty great.  Very hard to put the book down! I felt that I got to know the main characters well, and they were flawed but likable.  The dialogue was generally good (some eye-rolling parts, but that seems to happen no matter who writes some of these scenes), sometimes very funny.  The story had a touching side that I did not expect.  Lots of good action, drama, intrigue. 

It's also a challenge to rate the book entirely on its own if it is to be part of a series.  So, of course, maybe later books will focus more on the enemy.  All around, as a sci-fi debut and space opera, I thought it was nicely done.  Of course, take my review with a grain of salt, as I have only really been reading sci-fi for a few years and certainly don't know much about it.  Spouse is a big sci-fi fan, specifically space operas, and he agreed with my take (FWIW). 

I also took a look at The League of Frightened Men.  Sounds interesting! I've never read any of those stories so might try one of those books out at some point.

Still have to update the already read list, but we are now working on A Column of Fire (Ken Follett).  We read the previous two books, Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, the past two summers.  I had also read both of those years ago, but this one is new to both of us.   There are a lot of similarities between the books, and I would guess that will remain the case with this one (so far, yes).  There are very similar character tropes and situations that occur despite the hundreds of years between books.  I also don't think Follett is a great writer (who am I to talk) compared to others.  He tends to describe things similarly and doesn't vary his verbs much.  What I really like about the books is the descriptions of architecture and trade and the different political struggles that occur.  The characters are not extremely well developed, but the stories, romances, and allied or adversarial relationships are entertaining.

archaeo42

  • overly caffeinated
  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 288
  • CHE Posts: 1327
Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #49 on: July 19, 2019, 05:40:05 AM »
I finally finished Neal Stephenson's new one Fall, Or Dodge in Hell. I enjoyed it but I feel like I need to reread it after doing a deep dive on some modern philosophy of technology. There seemed to be much more that he was saying about society that I was only just grasping. Or maybe I'm reading too much in to it since there's a lot of replication of polytheistic/monotheistic structures and colonial power dynamics in the built digital world in which that part of the book is set.
"The Guide is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate."

downer

  • Distinguished Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1530
  • This heaven gives me migraine.
  • CHE Posts: 7500
Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #50 on: July 19, 2019, 06:27:13 AM »
I enjoyed Jenny Colgan's The Bookshop on the Shore. Scottish setting, multicultural cast, and Loch Ness. And a romance too. Good summer fare.
"Change takes courage." Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

0susanna

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 52
  • CHE Posts: 183
Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #51 on: July 19, 2019, 08:51:57 AM »
I enjoyed Jenny Colgan's The Bookshop on the Shore. Scottish setting, multicultural cast, and Loch Ness. And a romance too. Good summer fare.
Jenny Colgan is reliably entertaining.

Recently finished Bruce Holsinger's The Gifted School. Not having children, the only experience I have with entitled/helicopter parents and their offspring is at the college level, but I thought Holsinger effectively created multiple parent and child character POVs and plotlines and managed to generate significant suspense. Epigraphs to each section from legit research on gifted children raise the level. Recommended.

Juvenal

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 175
  • "There's always something."
  • CHE Posts: 1001
Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #52 on: July 20, 2019, 08:36:19 AM »
Patrick Lee's trilogy: The Breach, Ghost Country, Deep Sky, a peculiar mixture of science fiction and thriller, with an interesting premise and lot of unlikely and preposterous detail in the thriller part.  Yes, yes, SF has a lot of "preposterous" detail, but there were holes in the plot.  Still, books were worth reading.  Lee also seems to blend SF and thrillerdom in two other novels, Signal and Runner, less SF than thriller, but both hinge on an SF matter.  Like neutrinos that go faster than light and bear information from the future, but only from ten hours and a few minutes away (Signal).  Hmm.
Cranky septuagenarian

fourhats

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 194
  • CHE Posts: 570
Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #53 on: July 20, 2019, 03:28:13 PM »
I've been wanting to reread a lot of Iris Murdoch, in this centennial year. I once went through a long summer of reading all her novels, and they're jumbled up in my mind now. It was a great summer, as I recall. I don't know why she seems to have fallen out of favor these days. She's smart, witty, and a great writer.

Liquidambar

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 215
  • This is my personal text.
  • CHE Posts: pi
Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #54 on: July 24, 2019, 05:21:13 PM »
A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay. A loosely connected prequel to Children of Earth and Sky, and his usual quarter turn historical fantasy approach, this time based on Renaissance Italy. I always love his use of language, and always learn something as I try to figure out who his characters might be based on.

I recently read Tigana by Kay and enjoyed it.  It was nice to read a stand-alone fantasy book rather than long series that may or may not be completed before the author dies.  (Not naming any names here...)  If I read some more Kay, which book should I read next?

I also read The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison, the first book in her Broken Earth trilogy.  I thought it was fantasy, but Wikipedia describes it as "science fantasy."  It was excellent.  I'm looking forward to reading the sequels.
Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable, let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all. ~ Dirk Gently

phattangent

  • New Member
  • *
  • Posts: 36
Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #55 on: July 25, 2019, 05:00:15 AM »
  • One Up On Wall Street by Peter Lynch and John Rothchild: I don't plan to game the stock market, but I find the topic interesting.
  • The 40s: The Story of a Decade compiled by The New Yorker: It's a nice collection of well-written long form articles.
  • Why They Can't Write by John Warner: Some interesting points, but the author appears to have a thing against Will Smith's After Earth role.
I fully expected to find a Constable in the kitchen, waiting to take me up. -- Pip in Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

hmaria1609

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 603
  • CHE Posts: 560
Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #56 on: July 25, 2019, 06:34:06 PM »
Started A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor
It's the 1st installment of a classic travelogue trilogy

nescafe

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 173
  • CHE Posts: 1189
Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #57 on: July 26, 2019, 12:35:26 AM »
I just finished The Neighborhood by Mario Vargas Llosa. A quick and sexy mystery about corruptions and murder among Peru's industrial elite. This was a strange week to read it; between the compromising photos, tabloid seeking bribes to "kill stories," and the death of journalists, it seemed too strange for fiction and just a little more real.

It was quick and worthwhile, but also seemed a bit vulgar, the characters one-sided and simplistic. I had never read Llosa before but saw his previous book won several significant prizes. Before I write him off, maybe I'll find his first book.

onthefringe

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 217
  • CHE Posts: 2085
Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #58 on: July 27, 2019, 05:32:16 AM »
I recently read Tigana by Kay and enjoyed it.  It was nice to read a stand-alone fantasy book rather than long series that may or may not be completed before the author dies.  (Not naming any names here...)  If I read some more Kay, which book should I read next?

My personal favorites are A Song for Arbonne (inspired by the Albigensian Crusade) and The Lions of Al-Rassan (loosely based on the Reconquista).

His Fionavar Trilogy is a much more standard Tolkein-inspired fantasy, but really quite good too.

His work has tended to have fewer and fewer fantasy/magical elements and lean towards straight alternate history as he goes along  so you could also look at publication order and choose that way depending on your preferences.

Liquidambar

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 215
  • This is my personal text.
  • CHE Posts: pi
Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #59 on: July 27, 2019, 10:10:11 AM »
Thanks, onthefringe--very helpful.  That last bit is good to know since I prefer fantasy over alternate history.
Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable, let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all. ~ Dirk Gently