Staying at home is the norm... What are you reading?

Baffle

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I have The Warehouse to read, but if anyone has already read it, can you tell me if it's worth it? I'm going to go on holiday and it's my only book, so don't bullshit me!
 

Hawki

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And read more stuff:

-The Prosperity Gospel: How Scott Morrison Won and Bill Shorten Lost (3/5)

-Ms. Marvel: Volume 1 (3/5)

-Ms. Marvel: Volume 2 (3/5)
 

Hawki

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And even more stuff:

Star Trek: Discovery – Fear Itself (3/5)

After Australia: After Empire, After Colony, After White Supremacy (1/5)

Battlestar Galactica: Twilight Command (2/5)

Battlestar Galactica: Starbuck (3/5)

Battlestar Galactica: Ghosts (3/5)
 

happyninja42

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Listening to the audiobook for the newest Dresden Files, Battle Ground. It's good. I'm finding a bit of repetition in Jim's writing on his last couple of books though, that I don't recall as often in previous titles. Like, he will repeat established rules multiple times, in the same book. Now, repeating them at least once per book, because every book might be someone's first book, that's fine, makes sense, I have zero issue. But like, I don't need you to remind me, 4 times that fae are weak to iron. We all pretty much know this, if you are even tangentially familiar with fairy lore. And most definitely if you've been reading Dresden. But even if you aren't, you've already told me this, I don't need it explained again.

It feels a lot like the way I write posts like this on these forums. Where I am constantly interrupted due to work, and come back, and find myself repeating details that were previously covered.
 

Hawki

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But like, I don't need you to remind me, 4 times that fae are weak to iron. We all pretty much know this, if you are even tangentially familiar with fairy lore.
Maybe the lore's a bit hazy, and he's trying to iron it out.
 
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Hawki

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When America Stopped Being Great: A History of the Present (4/5)

Welp, this was depressing to read.

Authored by Nick Bryant, a BBC correspondent, the book looks at (what the author claims to be) a decline in the United States since Reagan, with one chapter per president (sans Trump, who gets two). If I had to sum up the author's thesis, it would be that a lot of Trump harkens back to Reagan, in that Reagan was the one who had the idea of 'celebrity presidency.' However, he does chart the course of history through the last few decades, and it's a sobering read. Among them are the points that:

-Reagan has been deified by the GOP, even though he actually raised taxes in 6 of his 8 years. Furthermore, his success pushed Democrats further to the right

-George Bush Snr. was the best president since Reagan, in that he had the firmest grasp on international politics. However, Bush lacked the charisma that his predecessor brought, and only got one term.

-Clinton had an ineffectual first term, and a more effective second term. However, he failed spectacuarly to react to the looming threat of Islamism

-The Bush/Gore election was a precursor to the partisan divide we see play out now. Furthermore, while 9/11 gave the country some brief unity, Iraq was an absolute disaster, and that includes internal politics

-Obama's term was stymied by two things - GOP resistance (it's at this point that the party became "the party of no") and his own naievete, underestimating how much racial backlash would occur.

-Trump comes along - partly due to "whitelash," partly due to how, by this point, the country is insanely polarized geographically and culturally.

This is very much the brushnotes version. There's a few general takeways, in that while Bryant lays a lot of the blame of polarization on the GOP (I had to actually look up the point where Ted Cruz spoke for 21 hours as part of a filabuster), he doesn't lay back from criticizing the left of American politics/culture either (something that got me to burst out laughing was where a university cancelled a production of The Vagina Monologues because it "discriminated against women without vaginas"). Economic inequality, social division, these are all claims that have been made for quite awhile, but it's excellent summarized.

Having just finished reading it minutes ago however, is a claim the author makes towards the end - that it may be irreversible. He states that American decline as been a claim that's kept coming up, but points to examples where the country's government was still unified to meet said decline. Soviets launch a man into space? Space program, for instance. Now, the government barely functions. The Republicans have abandoned centrism, and he's noted that the Democrat youth are inclined to go hard left than look towards centrism. The divide isn't just political, it's social, whereas thirty-something percent of Democrats/Republicans would be upset if their child married someone from the opposite party, whereas in the 60s, it was something like 5%. Among the final statements is that the United States feels less like a country, and more like a continent with numerous countries inside it.

Agree or disagree, very insightful, and very depressing. :(
 

Hawki

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Just Cool It: The Climate Crisis and What We Can Do About It – A Post-Paris Agreement (3/5)

This was okay. It was published in 2017, and already feels out of date. Or, on the other hand, a lot of what it presents is science that I'm already familiar with. There's nothing wrong with the book, but it didn't tell me anything that I didn't already know.

Saga of Seven Suns: Veiled Alliances (3/5)

I've commented more than once that Anderson is better at worldbuilding than writing, or at least, character development. That's true of this - a prequel to the Saga of Seven Suns series. And when I say prequel, more "a series of events, separated into chapters, that take place two centuries before the books." Because really, that's what this is. There's no real overall plot, it's just...stuff that happens. And from a historical standpoint, it makes the mistake of compressing history into key, discrete events that all occur at more or less at the same time. And even then, the in-universe rationale is highly suspect at times. For instance, did you know that the Dobro breeding program (depicted in the main series, basically think multi-generational concentration camps) only became a thing because an ildiran's human wife was killed, whereas up to that point, the ildirans wanted the interbreeding to occur naturally? Well, now you do. Even in the 23rd century, we still get fridging.

Apart from that, nothing too objectionable, but it's basically lore porn, and not particuarly engaging porn at that.
 

Hawki

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Quake Champions (3/5)

I've discussed on this forum about the idea of how much, if any lore should be developed for a multi-chaptered game. Quake Champions hits the weird spot of developing lore, but so schezophrenically and haphazardly, that they might as well not have bothered. That said, they at least managed to do something with it in this graphic novel.

It's not bad actually, at least in terms of structure. It's divided between events in the present (constant fighting in the Dreamlands) and the past (character flashbacks), doing the latter sequentially as characters are introduced in said present. For instance, it starts with Ranger, gives him a flashback, then we're introduced to Anarki, who gets a flashback, then Scalebearer, who gets a flashback, and so on. How all the lore relates to itself is iffy, but it's at least there.

The Orville: Season 1.5 (4/5)

Probably the worst thing I can say about this series is that it isn't long enough. It's divided into four issues and two storylines. And, yeah. I was left wanting more.

Had a lot of fun reading this. I commented that towards the end of season 1, The Orville hit the sweet spot between its humour and storytelling. Here, the comic takes that sweet spot and runs with it, with good storytelling and good humour, but not making the latter obnoxious. Frankly, it's better Star Trek than we've had in awhile.
 

Hawki

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Doctor Who: Ghost Stories (2/5)

I really didn't like this. In part for the same reasons that I didn't like the episode 'The Return of Doctor Mysterio', which is what this graphic novel spins off from. Not!Superman really doesn't gel with Doctor Who, and it begs the question as to what Grant is doing everytime Earth is invaded. Suffice to say, the comic doesn't solve any of these problems, and retains the issues - there's a sharp clash of tones between not!Supes (a guy who's practically invincible) and the Doctor (who's always got by on his wits). Also a rediculous McGuffin at the end, where some monk order has to do something every million years to stop dark energy poisoning the universe. I...no. Just no. That makes no sense from a scientific standpoint, and even by the Whoinverse's extremely soft science, it doesn't gel at all with what we see in the distant future. Yeah, the year 100 Trillion is terrible for the survivours of the universe's heat death, but dark matter wasn't poisoning them.

Really, there's little to reccomend. But from what I can tell, I'm a minority in disliking the episode in question, so maybe I'm the minority here.

Doctor Who: The Faces of the Doctor (4/5)

Now this is more like it.

The graphic novel is a collection of short (and I do mean short) stories - basically the Thirteenth Doctor flashing back during her regeneration from Twelve into her past lives. Or someone else is reflecting, since the narrative part of the comic is written in second person, though given the 'identity issue' of Time Lord incarnations, this works. Basically, the Doctor relives moments from her past incarnations. Short, but definitely works - little snapshots of each prior Doctor and their companions...mostly. For some bizzare reason, Ten and Eleven get OC companions, or at least, companions from other comics, and I don't know why, when every other companion shown is from the TV series. Yes, except Eight, but all of Eight's lore is basically EU stuff, so he's got an excuse. I really don't know why this is the case for Ten and Eleven. But that aside, it works well. It's actually in sharp contrast to the above, because it's a much better Doctor Who comic by actually being a, well, Doctor Who comic.
 

Drathnoxis

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Chris Evans' Iron Elves Trilogy.

I just finished the series and now I can say that it was pretty middling. It wants to be Dark Fantasy, so the world is a bad place filled with monsters constantly attacking and a bunch of one note characters constantly die. It gets a bit excessive though. Every fight is some insurmountable threat that kills regular soldiers by the dozen but Konowa rushes around slaughtering everything in his path constantly running on fumes. The way he's written, for 3 books he's been exhausted, beaten, and barely able to keep moving and yet he always, always has the reserve energy to continue running around slashing everything with his saber. His reserve energy could power New York city. Ymit suffers from the same problem. Kind of silly.

None of the characters really grabbed me. Alwyn and Ymit were a good combo in the first book, but both were kind of wanked out too far by the end. The worst were the jerk characters. There are ton of characters that have nothing more to them than to act like a stupid jerk at every moment they can. They will never get a moment to shine, never get a redeeming quality, and we are never given any insight into what makes them tick, even the ones we've dragged through the entire trilogy like Zwitty or Criton (audiobook, so sp?).

The ending was pretty lame too. Through the series the big bad has always been The Shadow Monarch, though who she is or what her goals are have been beyond vague. When we get to the end and Konowa finally makes it to her and the plot resolves itself pretty much without his involvement. I don't know why we spent 2 books chasing around after stars, because if Konowa had simply gone straight to the SM's mountain in book one the whole problem could have been resolved just as easily.

So poor plotting, boring characters, poor pacing. Far from the best fantasy novel I've ever read, but it's not quite on a level with The Name of the Wind either.
 

Hawki

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Far from the best fantasy novel I've ever read, but it's not quite on a level with The Name of the Wind either.
Name of the Wind is at the bottom?

I mean, never thought I'd defend it, but it's that bad?
 

Drathnoxis

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Name of the Wind is at the bottom?

I mean, never thought I'd defend it, but it's that bad?
NotW is one of the worst fantasy books I've ever read. The protagonist is reprehensible, the pacing is glacial, and the writing is so overwrought and flowery it makes me cringe. I've already posted my thoughts on the book, so I'll just quote myself:

Drathnoxis said:
The main character, Kvothe, is arrogant, rude, and behaves like a psychopath. Despite these glaring character flaws, everyone loves him and he has loyal friends. In fact, he is only disliked by the antagonists, and they only hate him because they are jealous of his intellect, talents, and good looks. The side characters are all completely one dimensional and only exist to be impressed by Kvothe or otherwise create situations for him to show off.

The plot is non-existent. You could cut out 9/10th of the pages and not lose any character development or advancement of Kvothe's stated goals. The majority of the novel is an endlessly recycled subplot focusing on Kvothe's struggle to make enough money to pay for his student loans, despite innumerable skills and marketable talents. The framing story promises far more intriguing mysteries with demon spiders and the like, but rather, we spend the entirety of the 700 page book reading the biography of the worlds most boring living legend. It's obvious that this series will never have a satisfying ending judging by the abysmal plotting of the first entry.
People claim that the book is making some sort of meta statement with an unreliable narrator, but the Kvothe we see in the third person segments is just as perfect as the Kvothe who is narrating the first person sections.

And the writing is just so dreadfully cringeworthy.

"The most obvious part was a hollow, echoing quiet, made by things that were lacking. If there had been a wind it would have sighed through the trees, set the inn's sign creaking on its hooks, and brushed the silence down the road like trailing autumn leaves. If there had been a crowd, even a handful of men inside the inn, they would have filled the silence with conversation and laughter, the clatter and clamor one expects from a drinking house during the dark hours of night. If there had been music .. . but no, of course there was no music. In fact there were none of these things, and so the silence remained.​

Inside the Waystone a pair of men huddled at one corner of the bar. They drank with quiet determination, avoiding serious discussions of troubling news. In doing this they added a small, sullen silence to the larger, hollow one. It made an alloy of sorts, a counterpoint.​
The third silence was not an easy thing to notice. If you listened for an hour, you might begin to feel it in the wooden floor underfoot and in the rough, splintering barrels behind the bar. It was in the weight of the black stone hearth that held the heat of a long dead fire. It was in the slow back and forth of a white linen cloth rubbing along the grain of the bar. And it was in the hands of the man who stood there, polishing a stretch of mahogany that already gleamed in the lamplight.​

The man had true-red hair, red as flame. His eyes were dark and distant, and he moved with the subtle certainty that comes from knowing many things. The Waystone was his, just as the third silence was his. This was appropriate, as it was the greatest silence of the three, wrapping the others inside itself. It was deep and wide as autumn's ending. It was heavy as a great river-smooth stone. It was the patient, cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die."​
It's just gibberish. Words piled upon words, not actually describing anything. 344 words used to convey the point that "it was unusually quiet." I could pick through and describe why any particular sentence is meaningless, but I'll suffice it to say that it all just makes me want to crawl out of my skin.

And yet, despite all that and more, this is a best seller. It rates 4.5 stars on Good Reads. I could barely bring myself to read all the way through, yet millions are clamoring for more.
 
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Baffle

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I have The Warehouse to read, but if anyone has already read it, can you tell me if it's worth it? I'm going to go on holiday and it's my only book, so don't bullshit me!
Update: It's okay, but I'm not finding myself taking extra baths to give me time to read, either.
 

Hawki

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The Great Wall (3/5)

Read the novelization of a film I've never seen. It's...fine? I guess? Really, a lot of it is one big action scene, or rather, it's action punctuated by story, rather than it being the other way round. Frankly, I'm surprised it's as readable as it is, in as much that I could clearly visualize what was going on.
 

Breakdown

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I took advantage of the 2 books for £6.00 offer on the HMV website to pick up 8 classic science fiction books.

First up, Foundation by Isaac Asimov. Interesting premise with quite an unusual structure. The focus is very much on problem solving as opposed to characterisation or plot development. I get the impression that it's best to read the first Foundation trilogy back to back. 4/5.

I'll probably read the Kraken Awakes by John Wyndham next.
 

Agema

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Name of the Wind is at the bottom?

I mean, never thought I'd defend it, but it's that bad?
No, it's definitely not that bad. But there is something distinctly hateable about it.

There's a huge amount of terrifying dross that's come out. I think a lot of it is older, because it was much easier to get pulpy rubbish published back in the day, pretty much unedited. For instance, there's a famously awful author called Lionel Fanthorpe (despite being a terrible author, he's a really interesting and engaging character) who wrote 180 (!) books in the 50s and 60s. None of that sort of stuff gets published and ends up in a bookshop these days - although I'm sure internet novels and download-only have taken up the slack. Back in the 90s, a friend slung me what I think was a D&D tie in novel (80s/90s) when I was talking about how bad the last book I read was, and the ten pages I read were staggeringly bad beyond anything I could have imagined.

NotW is one of the worst fantasy books I've ever read. The protagonist is reprehensible, the pacing is glacial, and the writing is so overwrought and flowery it makes me cringe. I've already posted my thoughts on the book, so I'll just quote myself:

It's just gibberish. Words piled upon words, not actually describing anything. 344 words used to convey the point that "it was unusually quiet."
I partially disagree with you there. It is definitely over-written, but it is doing a lot more than saying it's quiet. Firstly, it's expressing a sense of atmosphere. From this we can discern the inn is dull, the few denizens are sullen: so this is the forgotten back of beyond. Secondly the innkeep is a man with a deep past implicitly of power, (but this is directly told to us), but filled with defeat and doing boring, repetitive, needless tasks to fill in time. One can infer from this he is running this desultory dead-end tavern to avoid or hide from the world: therefore introducing to the reader a mystery of what's gone wrong to put him there.

The blather about crowds and music that starts it is absolutely a load of mush. The middle is fine: well chosen descriptions of the man's silence - the cooling heavy stone, the extinguished fire, the wood of the barrels splintered - would figuratively suggest a weight of woe, a spark gone out, a strength cracked.

But the last paragraph... His hair colour is jarringly intrusive to a scene of slow, boring death. Then, by the time we're into autumn and river stones and cut flowers (end of vibrancy, erosion, wilting, yeah, we get the fucking point), it's far too much.
 

Gergar12

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One-piece manga.

A bunch of boring war-related IR books.
 

Hawki

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Hillbilly Elegy (3/5)

This was...okay. Not really through any fault of the book itself, but I was more interested in the author's thesis on the state of rural America than his own personal upbringing. Yes, the latter is an entrypoint into the former, but I'd prefer looking at the former in isolation. It does have some interesting points though.
 

Hawki

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Climate Shock: The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet (3/5)

The rating I've given this is probably one number short of what it deserves. Like, I could tell you about the ecological consequences of climate change till the cows came home, but economics isn't really my field. Like, what's presented is well presented, but it's not really in my realm of knowledge. But what was introduced into my realm of knowledge is that there's a 10% chance of reaching 6 degrees of warming by the end of this century, which is just the kind of nightmare fuel I was after. On the other, it actually looks at the economics of geoengineering (specifically sulphate particles) and finds it would be astoundingly cheap. By no means a get out of jail free card, but, well, I'll take what wins I can get in this dying world.