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Subject: What did you read in September? rss

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Slow Motion Walter
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Betrayed, by Robert K Tanenbaum. Oy. I used to love the Karp-Ciampi series (this is maybe the 22nd entry). It was like Law & Order with colorful characters and more action. Somewhere along the line the dialogue became drier and more expository than burned toast. (That's right, expository toast.) The good guys have wings and halos and float six inches off the ground; the bad guys are cartoonishly evil and buffoonishly incompetent. Alas. And bleah.

Jennifer Government, by Max Barry. I picked this up after EgorjLileli recommended it in an earlier Chitchat thread. LOVED it. In a near-future world, democracy has run amok. Everything is privatized, even the Police. If your daughter is murdered, you have to sell your house to fund the investigation. A person's last name is the corporation that employs them. Creepy. The characters are reasonably compelling in spite of being quick-drawn. The author's writing style is riddled with quick wit. I had a blast with this book.

Freakangels vol 3, by Warren Ellis. The story takes a dark and violent turn in v3; one of the FreakAngels gets caught mid-rape, and a Jack the Ripper copycat appears. Gruesome illustrations. This volume poses a lot of (morbidly) interesting questions. If you have the ability to remove all memory and physical signs of being raped from victims, should you? Do you even have the right? What if doing so will save some of their lives? And once you start playing god that way, where do you draw the line?

Cell, by Stephen King. Generic Stephen King. It starts out with a promising premise: a "Pulse" turns everyone who uses a celphone into a mindless homicidal/suicidal maniac. A few "normies" band together for protection and to find the son of their leader Clay. I guess King wasn't happy with his antagonists because they gradually change into something more bizarre, less believable and less interesting over the course of the book. And the leaps of intuition made by the heroes are absurd. I liked the ending but otherwise...meh.

Feed, by Mira Grant. Smart and funny zombie/political-conspiracy novel. In 2040, a trio of young journalists following a presidential candidate become the targets of repeated assassination attempts, mostly involving zombies. It's not really an apocalypse story...zombies do wreak some havoc but it's really about how society changes in order to live with the ever-present threat of the chompy undead. A couple of the action sequences felt shoehorned in.

Incognito, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. The creative team responsible for the fantastic 'Sleeper' is back with sort of a reverse take on the same situation. A supervillain drafted by the good guys starts to question his values and loyalties. Dark, violent stuff with deepish characters, told at a fast clip.
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Slow Motion Walter
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Hey gren, how's that 'Song of Ice and Fire' coming along?
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I read House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds.

It's classic space opera, but not as dark or violent as his Revelation Space stuff.

Each chapter alternated viewpoints between the two main characters. I wasn't sure it would work, but it actually worked quite well. Each "Part" opened with a short section from the viewpoint of a little girl, and those sections didn't work at all, but at least they were short and infrequent.

The other odd thing was an early subplot with a character named Dr. Meninx that seemed important, but was then just over and never explained. He was Checkov's gun on the mantle that didn't fire in Act 3. Very weird.

Recommended, though.

I also read Iain Banks' The Player of Games. I've tried three times to get through Consider Phlebas, but I find myself drifting away every time. This one kept my attention, and seems a much stronger place from which to dive into the Culture universe.


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Erik D
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Read the entire Scott Pilgrim series. Found it hilarious. Despite all of the silliness, I found the story of overcoming the past relationships of yours and your partner's to be rather poignant.
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Phil Shepherd
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Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. The steampunk/alternate history was engaging, but the "zombies" not as much. A good read, but not *great*. In my opinion it didn't quite live up to the hype, but it was solid.

Blockade Billy/Morality by Stephen King. Blockade Billy is King's second attempt (that I've ready) at a pulpy noir short. A love of baseball will help the reader. Ultimately, not bad but also not in the pantheon of King's more brilliant work. Morality is a bit better: a dying(?) minister pays a struggling wife to sin by proxy for him. I've seen another review compare this to Indecent Proposal, but it read to me like a much shorter Crime and Punishment. That's as much as I'll "give away." Pretty good stuff.

Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern. Absolutely hiliarious and a must read for any one with a sense of humor.* The book is basically a couple pages of quotes followed by a couple of pages of narrative relating anectdotes of the author's interactions with his somewhat abrasive dad. My only quibble with the book is that it has somewhat spoiled the sitcom for me - too many unnecesarry changes to the main characters and the actual events. This book is wildly entertaining and it's a shame that Hollywood had to change it up to "make it better for TV." Incidentally, this is the first book I've read on my iPad, and jeez, my eyeballs didn't combust from the "harsh LCD display." Go figure!






*And not offended by copious profanity - but I figure you'd have to have some idea of what you're in for from the title alone.
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Nasty McHaggis
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Started reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I know he's still working on the second book in the series, so I'm milking it.

It's so rare for me to find a fantasy author that I can stomach, so it's cool.
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Scott A. Reed
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Finished Heat. A pretty good read about cooking and learning about food.

Julie and Julia -- I'd already seen the film, but I was loaned this book by a friend a long time ago and wanted to get it off my reading pile and back to him. An o.k. read, though much more focused on the author-protagonist than on the cooking -- about how she has frequent meltdowns over cooking issues, and shit that happens to her. I actually liked the treatment in the film better where it was a split between a semi-biography of Julia Child and Julie Powell/Amy Smart's cooking and meltdowns.

Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman -- a quick comedic read about her and her life, and how she wet the bed until she was 15.

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson. Just started on this one; I've read some of his work before, and though I liked A Walk in the Woods, I really didn't care for the column compilation of Notes from a Large Country. So far I'm enjoying this little tale of his emigration to England.

On a side note, I bought my wife a Kindle 3 for our anniversary/ her birthday, and it is fantastic. Whenever eBook readers come up, I always pipe up about my Sony PRS-505, but I have to say that I am flat out impressed with the Kindle 3, and I'm crazy envious of her for having it. Great form factor, well-sized screen, fast processor that makes for very fast page "flips", WiFi enabled for eBook delivery and web browsing (which looks pretty impressive on a device that's supposed to be a "book" not a "notebook"). Coupled with the 3d party Calibre for eBook management, it's twice the device of my PRS-505, and half the price.
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午餐先生
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Finished Lord of Light by Zelazny. Really enjoyed it.

Read the first novel in the Eisenhorn omnibus, Xenos and the short story that follows it, Missing in Action . Holy crud. I see those Warhammer novels and wonder, "could they be any good?" especially since I knew nothing about the setting. Fine literature it ain't but Dan Abnett spins good pulp. Every 2 chapters goes something like: Go somewhere, find something out, sneak around, FIGHT. But it's epic, strange, Lovecraftian, gothic, intriguing, thrilling. Enjoying the second installment.

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Tuuli Mustasydän
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So, yeah, I like rather academic books

Emerging and Young Adulthood : Multiple Perspectives, Diverse Narratives (Varda Konstam)

Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated Into What America Eats (Steve Ettlinger)

Ivory Tower Blues : A University System in Crisis (J.E. Côté, A.L. Allahar) -- On some issues (grade inflation, financial costs, student expectations) affecting the secondary/post-secondary education system in the US and Canada.

Almost finished reading
The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life (K.J. Gergen)
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John O'Haver
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Brains, a Zombie Memoir by Robin Becker

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Andy Leighton
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Scott Firestone IV wrote:

I read House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds.

It's classic space opera, but not as dark or violent as his Revelation Space stuff.

Each chapter alternated viewpoints between the two main characters. I wasn't sure it would work, but it actually worked quite well.


Alternating viewpoint is quite common - however in this case both viewpoints are clone-siblings (although one is male and the other female) who are in love with each other. Which is maybe why people find it difficult to imagine it working.

Quote:
Each "Part" opened with a short section from the viewpoint of a little girl, and those sections didn't work at all, but at least they were short and infrequent.


Those sections worked well for me. They are scenes from Abigail Gentian's POV (the original of the Gentian line) and detail some of her early life. More important is the things that aren't made explicit - the name of her opponent.
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Andy Leighton
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Zero History by William Gibson. A refreshing return to form after the disappointing Spook Country.

I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett. Another of the YA books about the Discworld witch Tiffany Aching.

The Evolutionary Void by Peter Hamilton. The last of the "void" bricks. As a series I thought that the focus wavered too much for me.

The Japanese Devil Fish Girl And Other Unnatural Attractions by Robert Rankin. Quite a bit more controlled than Rankin's usual anarchic humour.

Guardians Of Paradise by Jaine Fenn.

Renegade by L. Timmel DuChamp. Second book of The Marq'ssan Cycle. Feminism and anarchism mix in this series of SF novels.

Cthulhu's Reign edited by Darrel Schweitzer. Anthology of stories set after Cthulhu has returned to our world.

Conspirator by CJ Cherryh. Another of the Foreigner series. I'm now up to date as far as paperbacks go.

A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton. The first of the Kinsey Millhone novels.

Finally I read Genetic Two an old SF novel by Dave Morgan. I had never heard of Morgan before, and this novel doesn't make me want to seek any of his other work.



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Marc P
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The Hunger Games trilogy: The first two were great page turners, and the third was meatier, and ultimately satisfying. Decent character development for an action-driven YA series.

The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas: Pretty cool and trippy story about a world where the fabric of reality is mutable and the post-structuralists were right. Crazy! Explores issues of faith and science through the eyes of a foul-mouthed, world-weary, self-destructive young woman. Plus, homeopathy and crooked carnies. And curses.
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Pieter
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A book.
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Mystery McMysteryface
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Started the month in the middle of The City and The City by China Mieville. Pseudo-futuristic dystopian world-view along with a murder mystery/suspense thriller. I had trouble with the writing, but the plot, climax, and entire book are excellent.

A children's book - When you Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. This is set in 1979 and is a mystery with sci-fi/paranormal elements. I found it poorly written, but braved it out to the end. The resolution was very good/interesting.

Another children's book - Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix and is the 1st book in The Shadow Children series. This is the description on the Amazon.com page:
Born third at a time when having more than two children per family is illegal and subject to seizure and punishment by the Population Police, Luke has spent all of his 12 years in hiding. His parents disobeyed once by having him and are determined not to do anything unlawful again. At first the woods around his family's farm are thick enough to conceal him when he plays and works outdoors, but when the government develops some of that land for housing, his world narrows to just the attic. Gazing through an air vent at new homes, he spies a child's face at a window after the family of four has already left for the day. Is it possible that he is not the only hidden child? Answering this question brings Luke greater danger than he has ever faced before, but also greater possibilities for some kind of life outside of the attic. This is a near future of shortages and deprivation where widespread famines have led to a totalitarian government that controls all aspects of its citizens' lives. When the boy secretly ventures outside the attic and meets the girl in the neighboring house, he learns that expressing divergent opinions openly can lead to tragedy. Readers will be captivated by Luke's predicament and his reactions to it.

Also finished the 2nd one in The Shadow Children series, Among the Imposters. Both books are pretty fast and good reads. I'm planning on reading the 3rd one soon.

Where's My Jetpack?: A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future that Never Arrived by Daniel H. Wilson. This is a humorous and informative look at the future technology predicted by classic sci-fi and why most of it doesn't exist or is practical. Recommended. This came to my attention in one of my threads!

The Boggart by Susan Cooper, author of The Dark is Rising. It is OK, interesting, and funny. Nothing earth-shattering, but a pleasant read.

Currently reading the sequel - The Boggart and the Monster and so far, it is also nice.
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Martin Rundkvist
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Skuggor i ett landskap, a collection of scholarly papers on the archaeology, place names and human geography of the centuries to either side of AD 1000 in one of Sweden's core provinces.

The Mammoth Book of Best New SF 21. Ed. Gardner Dozois 2008. My 12-y-o son bought this for me. A paperback short-story anthology. It's so thick and clunky that I carefully cut it in half to avoid lugging unnecessary pages around. I don't quite share Mr. Dozois' taste in sf, preferring the Hartwell & Kramer anthologies. But I did like the contributions by:

David Moles
Una McCormack
Ted Chiang
Bruce Sterling
Ian McDonald
Greg Egan
Kage Baker
Elizabeth Bear
Gregory Benford
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Jonathan "Spartan Spawn, Sworn, Raised for Warring!"
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More of a humor month for me but still read Black Hawk Down, Ive seen the movie and its amongst my favorites and have been wanting to book and I finally found it at Goodwill for 50 cents.






This book (as most usually) is much better than the movie, if your a fan of the movie but have not read the book you owe it to yourself to read it. One thing the movie doesnt go into that the book does is the Somalian side of things, it shows how we had been aggravating the Somalians due to our boredom (Flying choppers low on purpose so the prop wash knocks down shanties, our treatment of their people caused people who worked for us to switch sides and start feeding information to the other side, as well as our own arrogance concerning safety and our battle tactics) so when we got in a pickle the entire city was pretty well pissed off at us and wanted in on the action. The movie doesnt show any of the Somalian side, neither side in this one was innocent and the book is an excellent read with first hand accounts from both sides. Definitely opened my eyes to both sides of the story, great movie, excellent book.
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Mark Britten
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Rather annoyingly I haven't been reading too much in September. I just never seem to get round to it.
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On Monday mornings, I'm dedicated to the proposition that All Men are created jerks.
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Could have sworn I read more, but oh well...

Christine by Steven King
Meh. Never really grabbed me. I found the story slow and dull, and not particularly terrifying. Nowhere near as good as some of his other stuff. I was tempted to put it down several time.

Edit:

Oh, yeah! I also finished an audio book:
Seventh Son, Book 2, Deceit by J.C. Hutchins
The second book in a trilogy that was released as a podcast through podiobooks.com. It's an over-the-top thriller about a group of clones from a government experiment gone wrong and a madman bent on world destruction. The author did a great job reading the book and I highly recommend the series.
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David Dixon
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mbourgeois wrote:
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. I hate to say but I really didn't enjoy this the way I'd hoped to... although the characters were interesting I suppose... just not my cup of tea.


That's a shame. In my mind, it is the greatest book about modern war ever written...

This month I read Paradise Lost by Milton. Wow. Talk about depth, beauty, power, and vision. The only things I can compare to this are The Illiad, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid. Milton's work is as wide ranging and epic as an ocean and just as deep. It is truly the masterpiece it is purported to be.

Proof again, as if I needed it, that we of "modern" sensibilities are nothing close--almost everything we consider modern in thought or idea has been done before, and often better.
Even that thought is there, echoing lines I've written in my own poetry, in Andrew Marvell's 1667 introduction to the second edition: "So that no room is here for writers left/but to detect their ignorance or theft."

Diis
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Pat Wilz
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Jennifer Government, by Max Barry. I picked this up after EgorjLileli recommended it in an earlier Chitchat thread. LOVED it. In a near-future world, democracy has run amok. Everything is privatized, even the Police. If your daughter is murdered, you have to sell your house to fund the investigation. A person's last name is the corporation that employs them. Creepy. The characters are reasonably compelling in spite of being quick-drawn. The author's writing style is riddled with quick wit. I had a blast with this book.


Zed. There's a web site out there somewhere where you play a game based on this book. I've never read it, and didn't really get it. You are a corporation I guess, and every day you get to vote on something. There are other corporations in your group, and the leading corporation in the group gets to vote on something at a higher level I think.

Like I said, I really didn't get it, but it sounds like you had a good enough time with the book that you might want to check it out.

Oh, and I read:

The Frugal Superpower by Michael Mandelbaum describes the impacts that upcoming budget cuts might have to the American domination of world diplomacy.

The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley which suggests that global problems have been predicted before, but that their outcome was based on the world that was and not on how the world became.
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Brian Bankler
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kyrasantae wrote:


Emerging and Young Adulthood : Multiple Perspectives, Diverse Narratives

Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated Into What America Eats

Ivory Tower Blues : A University System in Crisis

The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life


Your mission is to read a title without a colon in it. Go on. Try. Also, maybe try to cut out any title that has over 20 words in it. Words belong on the inside. Pretty pictures on the outside. Ha!

Let's see ... I read Prayers for the Assassin, a book that takes place in the Islamic States of America (circa 2040). If you can accept that (which takes a lot of salt) then the book is enjoyable, semi-noirish, with detective stuff, car chases, fights, politics and, of course, a dame. (The main plot twist is reminiscent of the late works of M Night Shamalyan. It's a twist. It's not nearly as clever as the author thinks). What can I say? I'm a sucker for this kind of stuff (and it reminds me of Effinger's When Gravity Fails series). I may pick up the sequel from the library.


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Tuuli Mustasydän
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Bankler wrote:
Your mission is to read a title without a colon in it. Go on. Try. Also, maybe try to cut out any title that has over 20 words in it. Words belong on the inside. Pretty pictures on the outside. Ha!

I just started reading Pillars of the Earth. I think that qualifies.
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Sean Todd
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In reverse chronological order:

Apathy and other small victories by Paul Neilan. A short comedic novel about a character who doesn't care about anything. He becomes a suspect in the murder of his dentist's deaf assistant. I really liked the writing, very funny, cynical, and dark.

Meeks by Julia Holmes. An odd book, difficult for me to classify. It describes a puritanical society where men had one chance in their youth to get married and become a part of the higher class. If they don't find a wife they get sent to the factories to work. I'm not sure I'm literary enough to understand it. It was Orwellian, but I never felt sure what the warning was and there were two or three main characters that were too similar for me to really get immersed in the book. It was the book selected for my book club next month and I'm lucky it was short because I think I'll have to reread it to be able to follow any of the discussion.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Very entertaining mystery/adventure set in Barcelona after the Spanish Civil War.

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart. Another Orwellian book, this time a satire. I liked the descriptions of a near future "Facebook nation". Unfortunately the book's main thread was a romance between two characters I couldn't stand.

Also, somewhere in there I got the three Scott Pilgrim books I didn't have and finished that series (hey, graphic novels count!). I've seen the movie three times already and when it comes out on dvd I plan on watching it a thousand more.
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"Old Man's War" by John Scalzi. I never liked much Heinlein, who Scalzi is loudly and repeatedly compared to, but I liked 'Starship Troopers', and this reads like 'Starship Troopers: The next generation', so I enjoyed it. Good enough I'll grab his other works if I trip across them.

"Pandora's Star" by Peter Hamilton. Hard sci-fi, gets the imagination going, but could've used a lot of trimming. Still want to read the sequels though.
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