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Amph What book are you reading right now?

Discussion in 'Community' started by droideka27, Aug 31, 2005.

  1. Sarge

    Sarge Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Oct 4, 1998
    Oceans of Magic
    Short story anthology, mostly fantasy stuff, all of them about supernatural and magical happenings at sea. Some good stories, a few not so good. Fewer undead pirates than you'd expect.
     
  2. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence, by John Ferling. With all my expansive history reading, the Revolution and Founding is my favorite historical period, and I’ve returned to it over and over again; probably nothing but World War II occupies more space on my bookshelf. I was happy to go back to the well with another history of the Revolutionary War.

    Ferling’s book is just that: it’s a history of the war, a military history, that doesn’t get bogged down in the politics and ideology of the Revolution. It’s excellent in its chosen focus. Ferling does an outstanding job of clearly laying out the course of the war, the conduct of the battles, and the strategic choices made and reasons behind them. It’s an engaging, in-depth book, well written. Ferling is a great guide to the war, and he strikes a nice balance in a skeptical willingness to question conventional narratives without being merely contrarian. He subjects both Patriot and British leaders to serious criticism while recognizing their good qualities, avoiding pat judgments. He also does a great job of emphasizing just how close the Americans came to losing — repeatedly — in a war that confounded both sides by seeming almost impossible for either to win. It’s an exceptional book and I’d recommend it as a great starting point for anyone looking to understand the course of the war.
     
  3. Sarge

    Sarge Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Oct 4, 1998
    The Kingdom of the Grail by Judith Tarr
    Fantasy novel focused on Roland and the paladins of Charlemagne, and their connection to Merlin and the grail. It's no Once and Future King, but it's not bad. I could do with less explicit sex scenes.
     
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  4. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Batman: Bruce Wayne, Murderer? The premise is pretty compelling: after a hard night of crimefighting, Batman comes home to find his ex dead and is promptly arrested for murder. This plays with several elements of the setting. Bruce Wayne, reckless playboy, makes a surprisingly suitable murder suspect. It’s interesting to see Batman hobbled by his public identity, thrown in jail and seething at being unable to let the Batman out. It also puts the Bat-family front and center in the spotlight, trying to figure out how Bruce was set up — and trying to convince themselves that he couldn’t have snapped.

    This is all good stuff, and the storyline hits several interesting points, like Batman renouncing the Bruce Wayne identity, deciding to escape jail and let Wayne disappear, so he can devote himself to Batman full-time. There’s a lot of good business with Barbara, Dick, Tim, Alfred, and the gang. But the storyline suffers badly from being a massive crossover event. The mammoth trade paperback collects issues from all over the place, and the result is messy, moving around unpredictably in time, weaving minor threads in and out from the ongoing series. By the end of the collection, we’ve got story arcs about some birdman fighting the triad over heroin, some guy with unexplained flame powers doing his unrelated thing, and zombies popping up out of nowhere and the murder plotline is just barely dragging along, full of false starts and stops. Bruce has a bodyguard for some reason who knows his secret, and she’s integral to the premise until she just basically disappears from the storyline. And this six-hundred-plus-page TPB is just the first of two volumes. Much of this content is great fun, don’t get me wrong — but it dilutes the far more interesting murder plotline. It’s the kind of fascinating concept that deserves its own concentrated run, one that could still reach out to pull in all these characters but be written in a far more focused, organized way that leans into the mystery and the potential and power of the story instead of diminishing it.

    As much as I’m enjoying the comics, I can’t help but be disappointed that such a great concept isn’t getting its best execution. Still, though, I’ll say that there’s one area it’s absolutely delivering on: it realizes, and has the confidence to actually follow through on, the fact that this is a compelling enough storyline that it doesn’t need any of Batman’s mainline rogues’ gallery. The Riddler makes a very brief appearance as part of Stephanie’s troubles, but nobody else even shows up. If this was a Loeb storyline we’d have Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy and Scarecrow all over it for no real reason, but there’s just no need and so it never heads to that excessively tapped well. There are a lot of great, welcome appearances from the heroes who surround Batman, but no call for the Joker. I can’t tell you how refreshing that is.
     
  5. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Batman: Bruce Wayne, Fugitive. The story arc wraps up in this volume; the review is pretty much the same. There’s a lot of interesting content in here, from a great little comic where the dying detective who investigated the murder of the Waynes tries to hand his unsolved case over to Batman to Batman trying to keep David Cain and Deadshot from killing each other. But it’s still hampered by the massive-crossover structure.

    It’s all over the place (I still have no idea what was going on with that Azrael storyline), structurally messy and unfocused. This is felt most significantly in the extremely anticlimactic resolution to the murder mystery somewhere halfway through. The Bat-family investigates just far enough to decide Bruce couldn’t have done it, and then Batman sweeps in with a solution that results in an anticlimactic, abbreviated-feeling resolution. With the murder then resolved, the collection drags out an aftermath that would put The Return of the King to shame, with the bodyguard that time forgot (and who, judging by his afterword, Rucka seems to find far more compelling and significant than she actually is) reemerging for some business with Checkmate and a bunch of stuff touching on the real killer.

    The material is really pretty good (aside from whatever was going on with that Azrael arc), but the structure and presentation of the storyline just isn’t quite satisfying and seems to dilute a potent premise.
     
  6. JEDI-SOLO

    JEDI-SOLO Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 12, 2002
    Gaunts Ghost bk 2. Probably gonna try to dig out Outlander 5 if I can get to easy. It’s somewhere in the hurricane storage room.
     
  7. VadersLaMent

    VadersLaMent Chosen One star 10

    Registered:
    Apr 3, 2002
    Words of Radiance:

    Syl claims to be a part of a god. The Almighty is dead. So that is the obvious answer that the spren are bits of this dead god. But, there is an Adversary so what if the twist here is that the spren are bits of the evil one?
     
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  8. Rogue1-and-a-half

    Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece star 8 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Nov 2, 2000
    Happy Halloween, everyone!

    [​IMG]

    Books of Blood, Volume Two (1984) – Clive Barker

    There is no delight the equal of dread.

    With the second book in this series, released the same year as the first, Clive Barker once again crafts an extremely compelling short story collection. This one is a bit less perfect than Volume One in my opinion. Whereas I’d consider each of the five main stories in Volume One to be a masterpiece, I’d give that appellation to only three of the five stories here. Of the other two, one of them is entertaining and appealingly gruesome while the other is a straight up whiff, just a miss. You know, every author has them. But this book starts off extremely strong with Dread, which is probably the strongest story in this book and one of the most down-right meanspirited things Barker’s ever written, a tale of a university student fascinated with, well, dread and the way it can snap sanity like a twig when administered in just the right way. There’s nothing paranormal about this story and really nothing at all fantastic (there’s nothing really supernatural or paranormal about In the Hills, the Cities either, but it’s certainly fantastic); just a nasty little story about nasty people doing nasty things and it’s genuinely haunted and disturbed me for years. Revisiting it, it hasn’t lost a step. The other two masterpieces are as different from each other and from Dread as stories could be. Jacqueline Ess: Her Will & Testament is a phenomenally weird tale of feminine liberation (?) and it’s a gripping exploration of the will to power that also features Barker’s best female character so far, a flawed, compelling, fascinating and troubling woman that only feels more human the more fantastic her powers become. Meanwhile, The Skins of the Fathers is a straight up monster story, the tale of a broken down car, an isolated town in the desert of the American Southwest and an assortment of monsters as mind bending and jaw dropping as only Barker can envision them. The ending to Skins of the Fathers is one that will haunt you for quite some time. Those three stories are absolute knockouts and I’d set them all up as the equals, more or less, of the stories in the first volume.

    Unfortunately, Volume Two ends with the weakest story so far, New Murders in the Rue Morgue, which is, as it sounds, kind of a pastiche/thought experiment on Poe. Barker does a good job writing in the voice of the main character here; one of his gifts is his ability to write in very different voices for his different stories and the main character here is an elderly writer, quite unlike any character Barker’s written up to this point, so there’s some pleasure in the prose. Beyond that, this story is the one real loser in the first two volumes of this series, so it’s too bad that it’s the one that closes this book out as it kind of leaves you feeling a bit underwhelmed. Well, so what, go back to the beginning and read Dread again. You know you want to anyway. Even with that last story being pretty dull, I can’t downgrade this volume at all really because of those three absolute masterpieces that hold down the bulk of the book. I’d put this one on the shelf next to Volume One as essential reading. It’s not the unnaturally perfect specimen that the first volume is; it’s more like a normal short story collection with a range of quality, but the highs are exceptionally high. Two volumes in, the blood is still flowing. 4 stars.

    tl;dr – if not quite as perfect as Volume One, Volume Two is still a compelling short story collection featuring three absolute masterpieces and only one disappointment. 4 stars.
     
  9. TheAdmiral

    TheAdmiral Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 28, 2004
    Paper: re-reading World War Z

    E-book: Energy Myths and Realities

    Audiobook: 11.22.63 by Stephen King
     
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  10. VadersLaMent

    VadersLaMent Chosen One star 10

    Registered:
    Apr 3, 2002
    Still on Words Of Radiance. As I read along I think, "Ok yeah, character does this, thinks that, gets this, gets that. Fine, yeah, sure wish this would move along a bit. Maybe stop after this book I don't know, " THEN BLAMMO!

    Page 368 and on as they flee with the king and Szeth-son-son-Valano makes an assassination attempt. Not quite done with the scene yet. But oh that was a breath of fresh air.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2020
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  11. darkspine10

    darkspine10 Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Dec 7, 2014
    Had a week off in Derbyshire last week, and took the time to read a bunch of Doctor Who novels from 1999-2001, all from the Eighth Doctor Adventures line. I've read many of the 'tentpoles' from that line before, which are among my favourite novels. Anyway, the ones I read last week were:

    Unnatural History - Set in modern day San Francisco and dealing with one of the companions, Sam, being replaced by a more 'down-to-earth' boring counterpart. The story dives into 'Dark Sam's' dilemma about her self-worth and whether she wants to be usurped by her 'better' counterpart or not. That was the central hook and anything related to Sam's quandary's were great, felt very much like Modern tv Who's takes on companions.

    The Taking of Planet 5 - This book dealt heavily with the 'War arc', a very complex mashup of various Who factions including the Time Lords fighting a massive Time War (all this was setup in my favourite Who book, Alien Bodies). The first half was pretty good, interesting deep-dives in the Time-Lord side of the War lore, with a conspiracy plot set in prehistoric Antarctica. Unfortunately the second half devolved into a technobabble ending that went on too long and sidelined the Doctor and his companions way too much. Shame, the ending let it down, and some of the ideas within were a bit 'vague quantum nonsense' that were a little dry to read.

    Father Time - A very unique take on Doctor Who, in which the Doctor, trapped on Earth for 100 years, adopts a daughter, Miranda, in the 1980's. Takes a much more domestic and small-scale approach to the normal Who conventions (at least at first, by the end the Doctor stows aboard and takes over a Space Shuttle :p). Was oddly structured into basically three distinct acts over the course of several years, an alien abduction story in the Derbyshire dales, navigating Miranda's teen angst as she comes to terms with her humanity (or otherwise), and an action-heavy wrap-up with the aforementioned Shuttle scene. The middle of those three was probably my favourite, Miranda felt very well realised a character, and it developed strands from the first act in some interesting ways.

    The Year of Intelligent Tigers - Probably the most standalone of these books, and very self-contained. Though I read it very easily, the prose-style kept me engaged, I felt the book was a little slender. It kept feeling like it was setting up some big revelation about the titular tigers' origins, but never quite delivered. Still, the Doctor's portrayal was fantastic, not wanting to take sides between the tigers and humans and trying to broker peace throughout.

    The City of the Dead - Written by one of Who's few American authors, this New Orleans set crime/voodoo novel was probably my favourite of the 6 I read. The setting felt very well realised in the prose, and putting an amnesiac Doctor unsure of his mind up against the weirdness of New Orleans's horror-based subcultures is inspired. Several sections felt very 'crime-novel' like, which was fun for a Who book, more grounded and gritty than usual. Ending was a little 'magic-heavy', in that the logic felt a bit hand-wavey, but it sort of fit since this book is dealing with a 'post-Time Lord' universe (they got wiped out a few books prior) where sci-fi rationality has gone out of the window. More on that in the final book.

    The Adventuress of Henrietta Street - Written by my favourite Who author, Lawrence Miles (Christmas on a Rational Planet, Alien Bodies, Interference), this book is a massive sprawling faux-historical document, chronicling the Doctor gathering together a team of 1780's occultists for a magic ritual to tie himself to the Earth when he starts dying because his second heart becomes diseased with the Time Lords gone. So it's very alchemical. In traditional Miles style it combines a huge array of influences, with lots of vignettes set across the world in the period. The prose style, purporting to be a collection of genuine documents being analysed by a future historian, is really cool, though it did take me a while to read through it. It did probably end up as the weakest of Miles' books for me, but it's undeniable that a book where the Doctor marries a prostitute in the middle of an occult ritual is certainly fascinating. This whole period of the Who novels has pretty much been forgotten, but I love diving into the weeds of this era.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2020
  12. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 28, 2007
    Ooh, I hope it was set in the warmer, rain foresty area that scientists believe were in some parts of the continent. I suppose it depends on when the book was written ... there exists core sample evidence now of warmer climates complete with much plant life, but a 1999-2001 Whovian author may have speculated about more warmth from CO2 surges because that is what authors are good at. :)
     
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  13. darkspine10

    darkspine10 Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Dec 7, 2014
    It was set in a warmer, more tropical jungle environment actually, yes :D I recall characters in the book speculating it was due to tectonic shifts, moving the continent, over 12 million years :)

    Though, most of the book took place in a series of caverns beneath the surface, so sadly only a few scenes were set topside.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2020
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  14. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Richard III: England’s Most Controversial King, by Chris Skidmore. Controversial might be underselling it; Richard is England’s most maligned king, vilified by the Tudors who displaced him and most famous throughout the world as an embodiment of evil in Shakespeare’s plays. Not that it’s surprising he’s got a bad reputation: as regent for his nephew, he reached the throne by having his nephews declared illegitimate and deposing them, shortly thereafter to disappear and be presumed killed in his custody. Of course, with a reputation so outright villainous, there has of course emerged a contrarian push to explain him as not that bad a guy, unfairly vilified by the dynasty that defeated him.

    Skidmore seems to come down somewhere in the middle; his Richard certainly isn’t the evil, ambitious, remorseless villain of Shakespeare, but he doesn’t make a lot of excuses and defenses either. He was a loyal brother who probably overplayed his hand in trying to box the Woodvilles out of power and whose misfortunes spiraled from there, as he never inspired much support and had to keep tightening and tightening his grip to keep hold of power. It’s an interesting portrait of a man who was not necessarily a villain, but was a poor leader who seemed to inevitably drive his misguided kingship into the ground. It is an interesting biography, and if Skidmore is not a particularly notable writer, he’s perfectly serviceable.
     
  15. Charmbracelet

    Charmbracelet Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Oct 24, 2020
    Beloved by Toni Morrison

    I'm only 50 pages in, but I am really liking it so far. I didn't know it would be a
    ghost
    story when I picked it up, so I am excited to see where she takes it. My mom told me that Halle Berry was in the movie (turns out it was actually Thandie Newton) and there is a character in the book named Halle, so every time I read 'Halle', I think of Halle Berry. However, unlike Ms. Berry, the book's 'Halle' is a man, which threw me for a loop because I've always grown up knowing Halle to be a "girl's name". Now, I know better.
     
  16. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    The White Horse King: The Life of Alfred the Great, by Benjamin Merkle. Merkle falls very much on the enthusiast end of the history-writing spectrum that I’ve discussed before; he’s open about seeing Alfred as a historical hero. It’s not hard to see why Alfred, the only English king to be known as “the Great,” cuts a heroic figure: a fifth son, the kingdom of Wessex fell to him in his youth at a time when it was under fierce assault from Viking invasions, the last Anglo-Saxon kingdom standing. He was soon driven into hiding in a marshy area from which he led a campaign of resistance that eventually drove out the conquering Vikings. He rebuilt Wessex, spread literacy and piety, and expanded his rule over much of England, leading a cultural and military revival that, with his military and administrative reforms, made the Saxons safe from Viking attacks and England a beacon of stable and successful kingship. So if Merkle indulges in a bit of hero worship, it doesn’t do too much damage to the narrative, as it’s largely only a handful of worshipful accounts we have to go from anyway. The result is an entertaining and lively read about a fascinating subject, if a rather amateurish one.
     
  17. Rylo Ken

    Rylo Ken Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Dec 19, 2015
    The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi.
     
  18. Kenneth Morgan

    Kenneth Morgan Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    May 27, 1999
    I'm diving my time between two books. During my breaks at work, I'm reading The Battle of Arnhem: The Deadliest Airborne Operation of World War II by Antony Beevor. At home, I'm reading Star Wars: YT-1300 Millennium Falcon Owners' Workshop Manual. I've just started the former, but it's a good read so far. The latter is the more recent edition, including details from TFA and "Solo", and I'm enjoying the amount of detail they put in, as well as nice references to the Brian Daley novels.
     
  19. VadersLaMent

    VadersLaMent Chosen One star 10

    Registered:
    Apr 3, 2002
    Finished Words Of Radiance.

    So the Words are actually oaths. One character makes their oath and the other does not. So, it's all good and such, at the end they go full on super powers which I did not care for but I have not quite made up my mind that is was bad. The character I was intrigued with the most, the assassin, lives and appears to become a tool for "justice". If I continue it'll be because of interest in that character as the rest, though good, do not blow me away.
     
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  20. Blobofat

    Blobofat Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Dec 15, 2000
    New Music at Darmstadt by Martin Iddon
     
  21. JEDI-SOLO

    JEDI-SOLO Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 12, 2002
    Gaunts Ghost bk 3.
     
  22. gezvader28

    gezvader28 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Mar 22, 2003
    The Lost Time Accidents by John Wray

    ok , well this is complicated , it's sort of a time travel narrative , or at least the narrator gets stuck in time , and the narrator is telling his story - which spans Europe across the wars of the 20th century - in letters to a woman he was in love with .
    I suppose its a bit like Slaughterhouse 5 .
     
  23. VadersLaMent

    VadersLaMent Chosen One star 10

    Registered:
    Apr 3, 2002
    Fine. FINE.

    Now reading Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson.
     
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  24. Blue Ice Cream

    Blue Ice Cream Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2006
    Why We Love Star Wars: The Great Moments That Built a Galaxy Far, Far Away by Ken Napzok
     
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  25. Chancellor Yoda

    Chancellor Yoda Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 25, 2014
    Currently reading The Reddening by Adam L.G. Nevill.

    I love folk horror stories and I enjoyed this author's other works, so this should be a treat.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2020