Discuss and rate the last thing you read

Hawki

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Palindromemordnilap said:
I mean, its getting a movie sometime soon (first trailer is on the interwebz somewhere) so maybe it'll get another boost in popularity
Yeah, I saw it. Can't say I'm overly enthused. As its own thing, it doesn't look that interesting. As an adaptation...well, this is subjective, but when a film adaptation is released nearly 20 years after the release of the book it was based on, you tend to have a pretty strong image of said book's characters and settings, and it doesn't gel. I mean, I like the look of Haven, but the sight of Artemis wielding a gun...bleh.

Also not counting on a revival in interest. I mean, I wouldn't mind it happening, but the book doesn't have that much clout these days, and the movie itself doesn't look too enticing.
 

Callate

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Hawki said:
Callate said:
As for Butler though...um, not really sure about him carrying the series. Butler is defined by his relationship to Artemis and Juliet - devoted to both, follows Artemis without question. Course this is just in the context of the first four books only, but I can't imagine Butler as a protagonist of anything without significant changes to his personality.

Also, side-note, but as someone who works in libraries, it's kinda noticable how Artemis Fowl has fallen on the wayside. Stuff like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson are as popular as ever for instance, but if we're looking at the realm of JF/YA, Artemis Fowl doesn't seem to have the pull it once did. Make of that what you will.
Butler's actions are mostly defined by his relationship to Artemis and Juliet, but he has enough implied backstory to make me wonder what he would get up to if he wasn't bodyguarding the former or hovering over the latter. He's abandoned his real name, he's apparently seen action in numerous militarily-sticky world hotspots, he has connections in both the underworld and the bodyguard community, he's completed a course of intense combat training that apparently eliminates or kills a significant number of people who enter it. He's outlined by shadows that could be fascinating to fill in. He's kind of Alfred if Alfred was actually Batman. I don't necessarily think he should carry the series (as in, another Artemis Fowl series), but I could imagine an interesting series with him front and center.

...But that's entirely a mental exercise. I don't actually envision in happening, and as I said, I think to reach it's full potential it would have to squirm out from under the constraints of Disney-published youth fiction.
 

Hawki

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Callate said:
I don't necessarily think he should carry the series (as in, another Artemis Fowl series),
Doesn't the series end with the world reduced to a technological dark age?

I mean, I'm guessing that's the kind of world Butler would thrive in.
 
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Been awhile since I was deep in my books. I thought it was time to rectify that lapse.

Since the movies have been playing on cable quite a bit, I went back and re-read the Lord of the Rings books. After having read them again, I can definitely say two things. 1) The movies did an excellent job of keeping to the spirit of the books even when they made fairly large changes to some of the scenes and characters. And 2) that most of the changes were actually needed. While I love the books, Tolkien has some limitations as a writer and the books have a great deal that works relatively well in the written medium but that would fall flat in a visual one. Still love the stories, though.

Skookum: An Oregon Pioneer Family's History and Lore by Shannon Applegate [1988] A lovely find in my local used-book store, this work is a family tribute by the author for her own family's history from their arrival in Oregon back in 1843 to the present day. Apparently, the word "skookum" is a Yoncolla Amerindian word meaning something akin to "trusted friend" and was applied to the family when they moved into the area and befriended to locals. It was a friendship that lasted generations. While Applegate tends toward dramatizing events in order to draw in the reader, I didn't mind the writing style. If nothing else, it highlighted the passion she held for her own family's history and I can respect that.

The Politics of Piracy: Crime and Civil Disobedience in Colonial America by Douglass R. Burgess, Jr. [2014] The British Empire grew out of a number of factors, one of which was the extensive use of piracy as a weapon of war and defense. However, what happens when the Empire needs to put that particular weapon away but the overseas possessions/colonies still want to use it? Burgess dives into that dilemma and reveals a particularly interesting work on the realpolitik of the late 1600s and early 1700s, the limitations of governance made by distance and the vagaries of the circumstances as the Empire and colonies evolved in their own particular trajectories. I highly recommend this one for anyone who has any interest in pirates or the time period. Fascinating stuff.
 
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Read Eisenhorn Magus. Technically the 8th book in Dan Abnett's Inquisition series of novels, though chronologically the 7th. It has a bunch of related short stories that I found a lot more interesting than the main story, partly because I always did like the less war bound 40k shorts and partly because I knew where it was going, having read the 7th book. I can sort of remember what it was about now that I try, but can't quite remember how it links back into the events of the 7th book. Really my favourite part of the book was the ongoing trials of an impoverished magos biologis and his relationship with an arbites inspector. Nice little human interest story behind all the usual 40k goings on.
 

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Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City (4/5)

This is an interesting bit of non-fiction. Basically it recounts a year of the author's life in Israel, from 2008-​'09. It all progresses chronologically, but it's done in small tidbits. Also, it's basically a collection of comic strips that tell the story.

There isn't too much to say in terms of content in of itself, but the work itself is quite interesting. The art style has a detached, almost dreamy look to it, how everything is in dull colours. Not black and white per se, but similar (if you look at the cover on wikipedia or whatever, you can get what I mean). It also provides a look into what everyday life in Israel, including the West Bank, is like. It's...kinda insane, really. I mean, the account has a mostly laid back feel to it, as the author is content with letting the reader make their own judgement (though we can get some insight into his own thoughts on the manner based on his dialogue, thought bubbles, or visual expressions), but...yeah. If it isn't apartheid that's going on, it's certainly segregation (granted, one kinda complements the other). The artwork depicts walls and checkpoints area, adding to the whole surreal feeling. What's also more surreal is that despite the tensions simmering in the area, living in the East Bank, the country seems pretty peaceful. Of course, the novel touches on the Gaza War, but that's a small diversion in the context of the graphic novel's timeframe.

Something else the graphic novel touches on is the issue of religion - not just tensions between Jews, Muslims, and Christians, but tensions within the faiths themselves. The Temple Mount is the main example of this, but not the only one. Being irreligious myself, the whole thing adds to the surreal feeling the graphic novel provides, but for billions of people, these are important subjects with real-world consequences in their lives.

You might have noticed at this point that I haven't really touched on the novel's 'story' or anything like that. Thing is, I can't really. It's a succession of events in the year of the author's life and that of his family, and life being life, it doesn't follow the beats of traditional narrative. It might be easier to think of it as a series of vingettes. So, I can't really discuss the novel's overall time period, just the feeling. And in regards to that feeling, it's a combination of humour, frustration, and sadness as to just how bizzare the situation in Israel is.
 

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Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation

The first is good and the second is just Hari Seldon complaining about getting old while Asimov himself was going full AIDS and died before the novel even got released.
 

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Firefly: Big Damn Hero (3/5)

I didn't have much of a desire to read this book. The main reason I got it was for the canon content. As in, because the Firefly wiki is pretty useless for anything beyond ship or planet stats (as in, character bios are lacking or nonexistent), I have to get the material myself when writing multi-chaptered Firefly stories. Which I am right now - so in that sense the book was at least useful. And arguably problematic in the canon sense, in terms of such writings, and in the scope of the IP as a whole. Still, I'm not really going to dwell on that, as it's pretty academic to how the book actually functions. And as to that...well, it's fine. It's average. It's okay. There isn't really too much to say about anything. I mean, on one hand, the author does a good job of capturing the characters of 'Serenity' (and as this takes place towards the end of season 1, it means we get all of them). On the other, a lot of the book feels like padding. There's the primary plot, with Mal being apprehended by a vigilante group of former Browncoats who hold him responsible for various treacherous activities, in which his history on Shadow and his old friends are revealed. As far as plots go, this is pretty decent, though apparently retcons (or gaffs) how Shadow was meant to have been bombed to oblivion in the Unification War (here, it's pinpoint strikes, and apparently still habitable). Then there's everything else. Technically it's all part of the one plot, in that the activities of the other crew members all revolve around finding Mal, but a lot of it comes off as filler. Like, there's the A plot, and the B plot, and like many a TV episode, I found myself getting engrossed in the A plot, while wishing the B plot would just hurry up and move on so I could get back to said A plot.

So, yeah. Book's fine. But I read it for its canon content, and if it wasn't for that need, I can't say I would have necessarily got it, and that not getting it would have deprived me of something great.

Anyway, back to Stormlight then.
 

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Last night in bed I read another 30k short story. Pretty good one, about the crew of a World Eater's flagship slowly realizing the ship is going Chaosy and the Captain, Lotara Sarrin, starting to suspect the ship is beginning to fall in love with her.
 

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Silentpony said:
and the Captain, Lotara Sarrin, starting to suspect the ship is beginning to fall in love with her.
...da fuq?
 

Silentpony_v1legacy

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Hawki said:
Silentpony said:
and the Captain, Lotara Sarrin, starting to suspect the ship is beginning to fall in love with her.
...da fuq?
Yeah they uh ship, the Conqueror, was giving her gifts. Food, water, medicine, visions of danger, brought the torn apart body of a friend not back to life but back to whole dead body and put it in her bed while she slept and basically cuddled them. In her own words the ship wanted to please her, to give her things and keep her happy. It was literally leaving her gifts.
 

Trunkage

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Silentpony said:
Hawki said:
Silentpony said:
and the Captain, Lotara Sarrin, starting to suspect the ship is beginning to fall in love with her.
...da fuq?
Yeah they uh ship, the Conqueror, was giving her gifts. Food, water, medicine, visions of danger, brought the torn apart body of a friend not back to life but back to whole dead body and put it in her bed while she slept and basically cuddled them. In her own words the ship wanted to please her, to give her things and keep her happy. It was literally leaving her gifts.
What... I thought Lotara was Dark Elf? Or whatever their called. How was she involved with the World Eaters?
 

Silentpony_v1legacy

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trunkage said:
Silentpony said:
Hawki said:
Silentpony said:
and the Captain, Lotara Sarrin, starting to suspect the ship is beginning to fall in love with her.
...da fuq?
Yeah they uh ship, the Conqueror, was giving her gifts. Food, water, medicine, visions of danger, brought the torn apart body of a friend not back to life but back to whole dead body and put it in her bed while she slept and basically cuddled them. In her own words the ship wanted to please her, to give her things and keep her happy. It was literally leaving her gifts.
What... I thought Lotara was Dark Elf? Or whatever their called. How was she involved with the World Eaters?
Maybe? Like I don't know Warhammer Fantasy lore, but at least in Warhammer 30k she's a human and shipmaster of a World Eater's ship
 

Johnny Novgorod

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Enduring Love by Ian McEwan (1997)

A freak ballooning accident brings two strangers together and transforms one of them - the narrator, a writer cozily nestled in bourgeois life - into the object of obsession for the other, a religious loner who starts stalking him.

Like a lot of other McEwan novels, the synopsis reads like a cheap thriller. The story is elevated by the author's anthropological approach to depicting thought process and social interaction. Keen, surgical insight into the human condition - via the observation of quotidianity - feels effortless for McEwan. He's also a masterful craftsman of suspense, starting every chapter in media res, backpedalling to choice portions of the story to build up intrigue and then ending on an ominous yet casual reveal.

I usually sign off every McEwan review by calling the book "haunting". The stories play out like nightmares in which the balance of ordinary life is threatened by a single tragic instance, as random as it feels inevitable. Enduring Love has that unsettling effect: it's grounded and familiar enough that it disarms you, then introduces piecemeal chaos that ripples across time.
 

Johnny Novgorod

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Wild at Heart by Barry Gifford (1990)

Some years ago I read Perdita Durango for want of checking out the literary universe behind David Lynch's campy, grotesque serenade "Wild at Heart". Book #3 didn't leave much of an impression. Book #1, finally tracked down to a bookstore in the Latin Quarter (a first edition, too!), is a much more fun ride, though I still can't shake off the feeling the movie improves on it on just about every count.

The story follows star-crossed lovers Sailor and Lula as they elope across the Deep South on a '75 Bonneville convertible, due West and away from Lula's fiercely disapproving mother. Marietta sics gumshoe Johnnie Farragut on them, and then on the book is structured like a thriller, cutting back and forth between the runaway lovebirds and their shadowing detective while building up to the inevitable intersection.

The novella's a breezy read, made up of a few dozen chapters 2 to 4 pages long and reading like short stories, each casually presented and skirting around the issue. Most of it is just pillow talk between Sailor and Lula. A conversation here, an anecdote there. Whether they're lazying in bed, driving their car or hitting a bar their banter twists and turns hazily into all kinds of dark, funny or amusing recesses. The book combines dirty realism - mixture of intimacy and spontaneity, rich use of eye dialect - with delightful B-grade pulp, introducing all kinds of freak scenarios and characters. You can taste them from their names alone: Bob Ray Lemon. Bobby Peru. Perdita Durango.

I missed some more characterization and description in the story. I also think the movie benefits from injecting more action - in the plot-driven sense of the word - and stressing the forces opposed to the protagonist's impassioned run. Examples: the novel's Marietta doesn't try to have Sailor killed (the manslaughter charges appear unrelated to the story) and never actually hires Santos (who doesn't actually make an appearence) or Bobby. She doesn't even have a good reason to hate Sailor. And poor Johnnie, a PI so dilatory he stops to pen the odd short story now and then, is a darling but not much of a foe.

The iconography of the movie is so strong I found myself relying a little too much on it in order to fill in the novel's parts that didn't agree with me. It's a great adaptation, up to improving the ending. The novel's feels abrupt - two letters and a coda close up a road trip to nowhere in particular - and not very satisfying. The movie's feels more apt and true to the characters. Then again the book has something like 5 or 6 sequels. So who knows.
 

PsychedelicDiamond

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Johnny Novgorod said:
Wild at Heart by Barry Gifford (1990)

Some years ago I read Perdita Durango for want of checking out the literary universe behind David Lynch's campy, grotesque serenade "Wild at Heart". Book #3 didn't leave much of an impression. Book #1, finally tracked down to a bookstore in the Latin Quarter (a first edition, too!), is a much more fun ride, though I still can't shake off the feeling the movie improves on it on just about every count.

The story follows star-crossed lovers Sailor and Lula as they elope across the Deep South on a '75 Bonneville convertible, due West and away from Lula's fiercely disapproving mother. Marietta sics gumshoe Johnnie Farragut on them, and then on the book is structured like a thriller, cutting back and forth between the runaway lovebirds and their shadowing detective while building up to the inevitable intersection.

The novella's a breezy read, made up of a few dozen chapters 2 to 4 pages long and reading like short stories, each casually presented and skirting around the issue. Most of it is just pillow talk between Sailor and Lula. A conversation here, an anecdote there. Whether they're lazying in bed, driving their car or hitting a bar their banter twists and turns hazily into all kinds of dark, funny or amusing recesses. The book combines dirty realism - mixture of intimacy and spontaneity, rich use of eye dialect - with delightful B-grade pulp, introducing all kinds of freak scenarios and characters. You can taste them from their names alone: Bob Ray Lemon. Bobby Peru. Perdita Durango.

I missed some more characterization and description in the story. I also think the movie benefits from injecting more action - in the plot-driven sense of the word - and stressing the forces opposed to the protagonist's impassioned run. Examples: the novel's Marietta doesn't try to have Sailor killed (the manslaughter charges appear unrelated to the story) and never actually hires Santos (who doesn't actually make an appearence) or Bobby. She doesn't even have a good reason to hate Sailor. And poor Johnnie, a PI so dilatory he stops to pen the odd short story now and then, is a darling but not much of a foe.

The iconography of the movie is so strong I found myself relying a little too much on it in order to fill in the novel's parts that didn't agree with me. It's a great adaptation, up to improving the ending. The novel's feels abrupt - two letters and a coda close up a road trip to nowhere in particular - and not very satisfying. The movie's feels more apt and true to the characters. Then again the book has something like 5 or 6 sequels. So who knows.
You know, I never read that book and I always wondered about it. Because I really liked the movie... up to the last third. Because as soon as the movie introduced Willem DaFoe's character and that whole bank robbery plot started, I felt like it absolutely hit a wall head on. It was so fun when it was about a couple driving to Vegas and getting into lynchian situations and meeting lynchian characters along the way and just sorta fizzled out with the Bobby Peru thing.

Was it like that in the book?
 

Johnny Novgorod

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PsychedelicDiamond said:
You know, I never read that book and I always wondered about it. Because I really liked the movie... up to the last third. Because as soon as the movie introduced Willem DaFoe's character and that whole bank robbery plot started, I felt like it absolutely hit a wall head on. It was so fun when it was about a couple driving to Vegas and getting into lynchian situations and meeting lynchian characters along the way and just sorta fizzled out with the Bobby Peru thing.

Was it like that in the book?
Yes and no. There's definitely a break in the flow of the story once Bobby shows up. For the most part the book's a series of still-lifes of either Sailor and Lula amusing each other with random stories or Johnny Farragut lounging in bars and daydreaming. Whatever "action" the plot requires usually takes place in between chapters or long before the book even starts.

Once Bobby Peru shows up the narrative becomes a bit more focused on real-time conflict, and there's a lot of build up to the bank robbery. Having said that it's really a small part of the book - like the last few pages or so. Everything happens super fast and with minimal detail. The whole climax of the movie (the heist) is summed up in 2 pages. So it doesn't drag like it might in the movie - it's quite sudden and then it's over. You can tell they amped it in the movie because the climax has to be big.

Bobby's still a fucking psycho but not as hateable (he doesn't harrass Lula, doesn't betray Sailor). Like I said Marietta has no influence outside of Johnnie, who doesn't achieve anything. She doesn't call on Santos, didn't hire Bob Ray Lemon in the first place and there's no real equivalent of that whole Mr. Reindeer subplot. Also she doesn't have a good reason to hate Sailor, and Sailor (or Santos) don't have anything to do with Lula's father's death. So I think the movie improves on the plot by tying up a bunch of ends together and making it come full circle. The movie feels crazier but the book feels more random.

On the plus side I was very pleasantly surprised to find that a lot of the stuff I would've thought would've been made up by Lynch in making the movie is actually original to the book, from entire characters (Cousin Dell!) to I would say most of the dialogue. And although I missed a lot of characters in the book, I liked a lot of the stuff that didn't make it into the movie. A lot of it reads like it could be deleted scenes (mostly stories Sailor and Lula swap, and one encounter with a hitchhiker). So as a fan of Lynch I'm sure you'd enjoy it just to get a kick of how Lynchian-without-Lynch a lot of the stuff reads.
 

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I just finished Ritual, the novel that The Wickerman was inspired by/semi-based on. It was pretty good. Without spoiling too much the hints were always there for the reveal at the end and although I wasn't too impressed when I put it down the more I sit on it and think the more I realise that it was cleverly done.

I'm currently reading Spiral, the sequel to Ring and it's good so far.

Honourable mention. Before Ritual I read The Road. Big mistake bringing that with me to read on my lunch break. Genuinely teared up repeatedly throughout. It's stripped back basic narrative makes it very easy to breeze through and I just felt completely drawn into it. The writing was very simple but that stopped it distracting from the emotion and added to the hollowness of the world.

Next in the stack is Farewell My Lovely. I enjoyed the Big Sleep so I'm looking forward to it.

I'm in the middle of Books Of Blood on Audible and I'm really giving Clive Barker a lot of chances because of how much I love Hellraiser but Jesus I think I might be done with him soon. A bit too try-hard for my tastes and the violence and sex just feels like it's written by someone who thinks they're being really shocking. In Cabal he describes a woman masturbating and calls her vagina her ****. That's just a weirdly aggressive way to describe a woman masturbating. It's such a needlessly crude word in that context. Even pussy would have been less weird. The word itself doesn't bother me it just seems kind of an immature attempt to look mature. I dunno, when I was a teenager my writing used to be pretty needlessly edgy and reading Barker just feels like he never got over that phase. I can read Stephen King talk about a woman possessed by an ancient god stuff a t-shirt down her pants because the god possessing you causes your body to break down, cancer speeds up, your pale skin almost cooks off in the sun or, in that ladies case, your yeast infection turns your vagina into the elevator from The Shining and that doesn't bother me because it feels like he builds up to it.
 

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Overwatch: Bastet (3/5)

It's kind of dubious as to whether this warrants a review - after all, I don't review every individual comic issue I read, or each individual episode of a show I watch. Still, it does count as a short story, and if nothing else, it's a sign that Blizzard's willing to keep doing short stories when most of their free EU media has been comics over the last few years, or in the case of Diablo, stopped entirely. But that aside, the story itself?

Well, it's fine I guess. Nothing special, and at the end of the day, it's really just an extension of the Ana: Legacy comic than its own independent story. It at least technically continues Jack and Ana's story, but we could already guess where that story was going. If the guess is "going after Talon," then I got that write with my own writings years ago. Not that I should really compare fanfic to published fic, but the writing...isn't that great. Which is a shame, because I've seen much better writing from Blizzard in the past in these kinds of stories. But, yeah. It's fine.

Oh, and the whole "Jack Morrison is gay!" nontroversy...well, what do you want me to say? You want me to analyze a factoid that takes up a paragraph at the most, that became so important that sites like the Escapist itself have run articles with it? Sorry, not going to do so. I mean, okay, I could complain that I've always shipped Jack and Ana, and after Ana's partner was revealed to be Sam I shifted the nature of that ship, and now I'll have to shift it again, but really, that isn't an issue. I've done this in the past for numerous medias, Jack being gay is just another catalyst, and a pretty minor one at that (still torn up I had to give up Mudshipping for Valeshipping for instance).

So, yeah. Bastet is fine. Wouldn't mind more of these, but I'd prefer them to be of higher quality.
 

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Mother by Maya Angelou (2006)

In general I stay away from comics, tie-ins, glorified fanon and that kind of crap because it feels less like literature and more like merch promoting more merch. I'm not big into poetry either because I think I'm no good at appreciating it, and it's usually so short that it feels like I'm cheating at my annual "read X books" challenge. Mother: it's alright I guess. I'm not a fan of the "heartfelt" kind of poetry that's trying to croon me with emotion. It's cute but also a little corny and it doesn't feel genuine.