Discuss and rate the last thing you read

gigastar

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Sep 13, 2010
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by Kawakami Minoru.

If i were to rate it id say this is the second time that im reading through 15 (at this time of writing) unofficially translated books all of which are over 800 pages in their original language and would probably be even longer if Yen Press had the testicular fortitude to approach a book thats more than 300 pages in Japanese.
 

Ironman126

Dark DM Overlord
Apr 7, 2010
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I feel self-conscious for not reading enough. I can't remember which I read last (if that tells you anything), so I'll do both.

Vom Kriege (On War) by Carl von Clausewitz. 5/5

This is a 19th century treatise on warfare from Carl von Clausewitz, one of the most well-known Germans (technically Prussian) of the 19th century. After having fought in the Napoleonic Wars, Clausewitz wrote this treatise about the hows and whys of war. It's not literally "how to war," but rather an discussion of the nature of war; why it's useful, when it is useful, and what the consequences are.

As far as translations go, it's good. I read the J.J. Graham translation and I don't believe anything was lost. It's a must read for all aspiring history buffs, soldiers, business executives, and politicians.

Metro 2035 by Dimitri Gluhovski. 3/5

Another translated text, this is Gluhovski's third entry into the Metro series (that spawned the game series). The translation is much better than the last two books, but it's still a translation. The book follows Artyom as he battles his own mind and the irradiated ruins of Moscow to locate a radio signal that he thinks he heard that time he was calling in a rocket strike on the Dark Ones.

Honestly, Metro 2033 was the best in the series, by far. While 2035 gets us back to Artyom, it feels like more of the same. Artyom has grown up a bit, but the stress and radiation have levied a heavy toll on him, physically and psychologically. And then the book gets weird and conspiratorial. It's worth reading if you liked the last two, but it's no 2033. While 2035 retains much of the first book, it's missing the oppressive atmosphere and mystery. We learn just a little too much about the metro and the knowledge, rather than being revelatory, is just disappointing. The pacing is also kind of a mess and there is an awful Deus ex Machina device that's employed towards the end.

I'd say give it a read because Gluhovski is building to something in the next book, but Metro 2035 can be a slog at times.
 

TheMysteriousGX

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Lock In by John Scalzi. 4.5/5

Newly minted FBI agent Chris Shane investigates a bizarre murder, spirals into "not just a murder" pretty quickly, because of course it does.

USP? The world is a near future one where a type of flu-like meningitis puts a small percentage of the people that suffer it into a permanent "locked in" state, where they're fully conscious but lack all control over their bodies. Technology is refined to the point where mental control of robot suits is possible, allowing these people, who for plot reasons are called Hayden's, to have somewhat normal lives. A small subsection of people who get the advanced form of the disease don't get locked in, but due to changes in their neurology and some tech upgrades, they can host people who are locked in, because robot suits can't do everything humans can. Like eat, feel the sun, etc.

And the murder suspect is one of those people. Legal shenanigans ensue. It's a great sci-fi police procedural.
 

Kotaro

Desdinova's Successor
Feb 3, 2009
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My most recent read was The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski, the first entry in the book series that the Witcher games are based on.

I was surprised that the translation from Polish was actually really well-done. Most of the time, I find that translated novels end up feeling somewhat stiff or unnatural, but this was a very easy read that felt less like a translation and more like natural, written-from-scratch-in-English prose (which is really the best thing one can say about a translation).

As for the plot, the book's really a collection of short stories rather than a novel:
The framing story, "The Voice of Reason," sees an injured Geralt recovering at a temple and coming into conflict with a group of knights who want to drive him out. This story is intercut with various tales of some of Geralt's previous adventures (i.e., the other stories).
"The Witcher" is chronologically set just before "The Voice of Reason." Geralt is hired to break a curse that transformed a princess into a monster. It's in this story that he receives the injury he's recovering from in "The Voice of Reason."
"A Grain of Truth" is a brief deconstruction of the fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast, most of it consisting of Geralt conversing with the character representing the Beast, who tells him his story.
"The Lesser Evil" is a similar deconstruction of a fairy tale, this time Snow White. Instead of envying the young princess's beauty, in this version, the queen tries to have her killed because of a prophecy that she'll grow up to spread great destruction.
"A Question of Price" has Geralt hired by a queen to ensure that her daughter marries a fitting man. The issue is that the princess's destiny is to marry the stranger who saved the late king's life once, and he shows up that night to claim her.
"The Edge of the World" has Geralt hired by a village to chase out a monster that's taken residence in their fields and is wreaking havoc. Conflict between humans and elves bubbles to the surface in this one.
"The Last Wish" is the final story, and depicts Geralt's first meeting with Yennefer. Geralt's friend Dandelion accidentally frees a vengeful genie who starts destroying a nearby town. Meanwhile, Yennefer wants to subdue the genie to her will.

Overall, a really enjoyable book, and I've already started on the second one, Sword of Destiny. Definitely going to blaze through this series. That they've finally been translated into English is a great side-benefit of the games' popularity.

The Last Wish gets two-and-a-half out of three wishes.
 

Ogoid

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Nov 5, 2009
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The Samurai, Shusaku Endo - 7/10

This was my second Endo novel, the first being Silence, which I read, despite my having little (as in, none whatsoever) interest in the topic of Christianity, because an acquaintance said he thought its depiction of the mindset of XVII century Spanish priests was off. I had no problem with it on that score; in fact, Endo's writing held my interest despite my disinterest in his subject, which is probably why I decided to give this one a go.

The eponymous samurai is based on the historical figure of Hasekura Rokuemon, a low-ranking rural samurai who was ordered in 1613 to travel to Mexico (then New Spain) and Europe with a Franciscan priest, ostensibly seeking a commercial agreement between Japan and Catholic nations.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I found that the novel is at its best when it deals with the inevitable culture clashes between East and West, the characters' sense of estrangement, and the political machinations of both secular and religious organizations; by the end, Endo inevitably goes back to what seems to be his main recurring theme of faith and Christianity, and just lays it on a bit too thick for my taste. Still, all in all I found it to be a beautifully tragic tale, deftly told by a talented storyteller.
 

Auron225

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Oct 26, 2009
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Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash 6.5/10

The first light novel, of which the anime is based. I quite liked the show, although it did have a few issues (overuse of montages, and lines or even whole conversations which served no purpose). What I liked about it was that it managed to do what Sword Art Online tried and failed at, which was to create a fantasy world in which real people could die at any moment. It made me care about the characters and their struggle, and had me concerned when they were in danger.

Whilst the light novels obviously don't share the montage problem (given that they are novels), in contrast to that the anime has some really gorgeous music and lovely animation, which is what made me enjoy the anime a bit more. The light novels unfortunately feature more of those strange/pointless lines and conversations which have no purpose. Let me be clear; conversations in which characters are just bantering back and forth have purpose in that they strengthen the relationship of those characters. If they're just shooting the breeze, that can also be useful for bonding but also for giving a deeper insight into the minds of those characters. I'm serious when I say that some of the conversations and lines from these characters, are completely irrelevant and pointless. They offer no insight, characters don't grow closer, nothing.

Having said all that, I am invested in the characters and the story at this point. The first novel got through the first 8 episodes of the show, so the next should allow me to find out what happens next after the show ends. If you like fantasy world anime, I'd recommend checking this one out. Maybe hold off on the light novels until you've given the show a try? But whatever you do, forget about the OVA.
 

Auron225

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Oct 26, 2009
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Off topic, but the above spam post has got me thinking. Who are these people? Someone somewhere typed that nonsense, right? Maybe not for that post (likely copied and pasted) but at one point it was typed out. Someone who probably isn't a native English speaker given the high number of spelling & grammar errors. Did they start learning English, for the sole purpose of trying to scam people? That's sad, but not as sad as actually believing that anyone would ever read that and think it's legit.
 

Zydrate

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Apr 1, 2009
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The Disaster Artist - 4/5

Very, very readable. It flows very well and blew through it in a couple of nights. My only complaint is that I stopped kind of caring about Tommy Wiseau as a man and the last few chapters regarding the background of him and Greg meeting up... I skipped. Once I read what exact flavor of lunatic he is (his opinions on women, throwing slurs people's way during a temper tantrum when things go his way, denying water and air conditioning at the same time...) I just focused on the chapters regarding the production of The Room itself.

All the odd chapters are dedicated to Greg's first few months knowing Tommy and all the even chapters are based on the production of the Room. After getting through most of it, the last couple of odd chapters I just skipped because I couldn't be assed.
Good book, though.
 

dscross

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Zydrate said:
The Disaster Artist - 4/5

Very, very readable. It flows very well and blew through it in a couple of nights. My only complaint is that I stopped kind of caring about Tommy Wiseau as a man and the last few chapters regarding the background of him and Greg meeting up... I skipped. Once I read what exact flavor of lunatic he is (his opinions on women, throwing slurs people's way during a temper tantrum when things go his way, denying water and air conditioning at the same time...) I just focused on the chapters regarding the production of The Room itself.

All the odd chapters are dedicated to Greg's first few months knowing Tommy and all the even chapters are based on the production of the Room. After getting through most of it, the last couple of odd chapters I just skipped because I couldn't be assed.
Good book, though.
Have you seen the film yet? I thought they did a pretty good job.
 

JUMBO PALACE

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I am not done with it but what the heck, I want to participate.

I'm in the middle of the Green Lantern: Blackest Night event from a number of years back. I'm really enjoying it so far, though I think that Geoff Johns is dragging the whole thing out a little. Compared to Sinestro Corps War which was so tight and well paced the events in each issue of Blackest Night sometimes feel a little light. The artwork is amazing. Ivan Reis' style meshes well with the violent stories Johns like to tell and each member of Black Lantern Corps and their heart extracting methods are gruesomely detailed. I am also enjoying the death theme throughout which is so wonderfully brought to the front when Hal is forced to inform Barry of all the heroes and friends that have passed since he has been away and his subsequent return in Final Crisis. Poor Ray Palmer has been put through the emotional ringer and even for someone who isn't a hardcore comic reader the DC events that are being brought up are easy to follow and catch up on.

Solid 4/5 so far but if the story continues to ramp up that could go up to a 4.5 or 5.

Edit: I should clarify- I am reading the Blackest Night, Green Lantern: Blackest Night, and Green Lantern Corps: Blackest Night paperbacks all together in the order the individual issues were released. So that may be impacting my impression of the pacing.
 

09philj

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Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.

Everyone on Earth is dead, except for Jimmy, and the various genetically engineered animals roaming the wasteland left in humanity's wake. The book is split into flashbacks that tell the story of Oryx, Crake, and Jimmy, and sections set in the present that follow Jimmy's life after the apocalypse. I really, really liked it. All the characters are pretty fucked up in one way or another (Especially Oryx, Crake, and Jimmy), but the real villain is humanity, and the ways we use our ingenuity to avoid actually solving the problems that confront us. A single cataclysmic event is what lays waste to the human race, but the impression I got is that they were doomed long before that point. I hope this gets faithfully adapted to TV, if for no other reason than it'll really fuck with all the people who really liked the TV version of The Handmaid's Tale. 4.5/5
 

Casual Shinji

Should've gone before we left.
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I just read Prison School chapter 277.

Sufficient to say I am not in a good mood.
 

Gethsemani_v1legacy

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Wages of Destruction: The making and breaking of the Nazi economy by Adam Tooze. 4/5

Technically a re-read, since I've read the book before. Wages of Destruction is without a doubt the most thorough exploration of the NSDAPs economic policies prior to and during WW2 and Tooze does one hell of a job connecting these often disparate and seemingly contradictory solutions to an ever looming fiscal crisis to the political happenings at the same time. It also crushes a lot of myths about the "Nazi Economic Miracle" and Speer's supposed wizardry in pushing the Nazi economy to the limit. It is a highly informative book and if you're interested in WW 2 or Nazi Germany it is a must read. However, it is also thick as a brick and the subject matter doesn't lend itself to much other then dry, factual prose which makes the entire thing rather hard to read. Tooze does an admirable effort to make even layman readers like me understand the nuance of economics and the manipulation of economics that the Nazis engaged in, but this is not a book you'll be reading cover to cover in one sitting.

Auron225 said:
Off topic, but the above spam post has got me thinking. Who are these people? Someone somewhere typed that nonsense, right? Maybe not for that post (likely copied and pasted) but at one point it was typed out. Someone who probably isn't a native English speaker given the high number of spelling & grammar errors. Did they start learning English, for the sole purpose of trying to scam people? That's sad, but not as sad as actually believing that anyone would ever read that and think it's legit.
Many of those posts originate from African countries (Nigeria being the most famous), where that kind of English isn't particularly noteworthy, if more casual then formal. They are, in a way, a cool example of how different a language can be in different parts of the world. In the former English colonies in Africa that's fairly normal casual writing, but to people who've been raised on UK English or American English it seems almost like the writer was drunk or just typing gibberish.
 

Zydrate

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dscross said:
Zydrate said:
The Disaster Artist - 4/5

Very, very readable. It flows very well and blew through it in a couple of nights. My only complaint is that I stopped kind of caring about Tommy Wiseau as a man and the last few chapters regarding the background of him and Greg meeting up... I skipped. Once I read what exact flavor of lunatic he is (his opinions on women, throwing slurs people's way during a temper tantrum when things go his way, denying water and air conditioning at the same time...) I just focused on the chapters regarding the production of The Room itself.

All the odd chapters are dedicated to Greg's first few months knowing Tommy and all the even chapters are based on the production of the Room. After getting through most of it, the last couple of odd chapters I just skipped because I couldn't be assed.
Good book, though.
Have you seen the film yet? I thought they did a pretty good job.
I found it a bit uneven. Their plot kind of hauled ass and I found it jarring. Also they omit a lot of the more gross shit he did and tried to paint Tommy in a more sympathetic light and pretty much erased most of Greg's real-life reasons for doing the movie (he needed money). I just hope people who see the movie first go and read the book or at the very least, go to the TVtropes page which does a good job giving some of the highlights.
 

Ogoid

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Nov 5, 2009
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So, concluding my reading of old Mr. Howard Phillips' life work, we have

The Shadow out of Time, H. P. Lovecraft - 6/10

Again, not one of his best. My basic problem with it was the same I had with At The Mountains of Madness; same as he does with the Old Ones in that story, Lovecraft here goes into far too much detail regarding the Great Race, which (ironically enough) humanizes them too much for them to be in any way frightening or awe-inspiring. It doesn't help that the physical description he gives of them looks like something out of the silliest tinfoil-wrapped sci-fi of bad early TV shows, which also robs the protagonist's bouts of body dismorphia, that could have otherwise been an incredibly powerful narrative device, of any real punch.

The Haunter of the Dark, H. P. Lovecraft - 7/10

A return to form, in my opinion. Lovecraft was ever at his best, I feel, when working with suggestion and implication and letting the reader's imagination do the heavy lifting, and that's what he returns to here. While it does not reach the level of some of his best works, in my opinion, it's enough to conclude the man's writing career in a high note.

I've also read, in the meantime,

La memoria de Shakespeare, Jorge Luis Borges - 7.5/10

...I'll own up, I'm not a big fan of Borges. I don't consider that to be his fault, mind - if anything, I think the man was an incredibly talented writer; it's just that, for some reason I can't really seem to pin down, his stories almost never seem to really click with me, with rare exceptions (El espejo y la mascara comes to mind)... which is why it caught me somewhat by surprise that there wasn't a single story in this short last anthology of his that I didn't really enjoy.

It's got me seriously considering going back and re-reading his older works.
 

the December King

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Jute88 said:
The Shelters of Stone by Jean M. Auel. It's the fifth part of her Earth's Children series. I'd rate it 9/10, I just couldn't put the book down, I had to finish it!

The main character is Ayla, a cro-magnon girl who was raised by neanderthals (or Clan people), living during the Stone age. The series feels more like a slice of life kind of story, having no great villains (mostly) or major story arcs (except Ayla trying to find her place in the world).

The books heavily focus on cultures Ayla discovers, how they treat sex and pregnancy as separate things, the relationship between cro-magnons and neanderthals, the role (or lack) of fatherhood in societies, the religions they meet, the languages, the way the Clan people can't learn new things but rather they share the memories of their ancestors etc.

Some problems in the book are that Auel really likes to describe in great detail the tools people use in the series. I know that mastering tools was a matter of life and death during the Stone age, but sometimes she talks about one tool for two pages, which I usually try to skip.

One other big problem is just how perfect Ayla is.
She has incredible memory,
most people find her irresistible,
she's one the best healers in the series, if not the best,
she is always in the mood for sex whenever her partner wants it,
she can usually sense when people lie because of her upbringing,
she's first to discover that you can tame animals,
she can throw two stones with her slingshot and
she learns languages very quickly.

Also, a small annoying thing is how Ayla calls herself old, because she compares herself to the Clan people, who have a rather short life span. No, she isn't old. She's not even 20 by the end of the fifth book, everyone tells her that's she's still young, but she still calls herself an old woman!
Yeah, I picked up on Ayla being very awesome after the first book, and didn't bother going back to check the rest out (though to be fair there may have been other reasons for that, it was a long time ago), though I am totally with you in enjoying the fleshing out of the author's ideas regarding prehistoric cultures.
 

Scarim Coral

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I guess that would be "I hate Fairyland Vol 3"

I bought the first volume last auturm cos one of the people from tumblr (that I follow) was reading it.


To summed it up, it's about a girl named Gertrude got sucked into a fairyland like world and she was tasked on a quest to fine the key to return home. Sound easy right? Well no, not to her. Twenty years later she is STILL on her quest and while her body has mentain her physical apperance but not mentality. Needless to say, she is quite a bitter, vuglar and psychotic girl now which is understandable, imagine being stuck in a colourful world where it is always sweet and happy???

So yeah it's quite a dark humour comedy sort of comedy and since the artstyle is fantastic (cartoony), it make the violence in it (there alot of of since she is a psychopath now) quite interesting to look at!!

I'm not going to mention anything story/ spoilers in it. All I say is that volume 3 is kinda more like volume 1 in that there is a main plot (volume 2 did had a plot but it was resolved in the first issue) and it did bring some interesting development to the main character and her sidekick. Also a character return whose I thought was going to be forgotten from the last volume. Lastly I am looking forward to the next volume due to the ending did bring a new shift to the overall plot.