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

OpticalJunction

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Oh I was hoping for a thread like this. As much as I love video games, books are simply the best escapist material there is, there's nothing like the feeling of immersing yourself in a good book. Currently I'm halfway through a novel called "One by One" , by Ruth Ware. It's an Agatha Christie inspired mystery novel, I'm really enjoying it.
 

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Star Wars: Padawan (2/5)

I really didn't like this book.

I should not beforehand that I'm coming from a place of bias. There's a Star Wars book in the old Legends canon called 'The Rising Force' that, as a kid, I read countless times, said book detailing the first meeting between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, and whiile I'm obviously looking at it from a place of positive bias, the book's stuck with me a lot, especially in regards to how their friendship slowly develops, and Obi-Wan develops as a person.

The reason I bring this up is that as a book in the Disney canon, this in many ways feels like a suplicant to the above-mentioned work, and it's an inferior one at that. Granted, it's not 1:1, as Obi-Wan is already Qui-Gon's padawan, and Qui-Gon is barely in the book and nothing like his Rising Force persona, but even so, it left a bitter taste in my mouth. Also not helped by the fact that even disregarding everything I've said above, Padawan just isn't a good book. Course, that isn't really a "fact," but meh.

Anyway, Obi-Wan, already Qui-Gon's padawan but not really doing anything bar meditating on Coruscant, ends up travelling to a barely charted planet by his lonesome because he's so sick of doing nothing (there's a bit more to it, but I don't care). He ends up meeting a group of children who are the offspring of those who crashed on the planet awhile ago, who demonstrate Force-like abilities. However, it isn't really the Force they're channeling, but "the Power" (originality? What's that?), and it's coming from the planet itself. Basically, the planet is just one giant super-organism (eat your heart out James Cameron), and other people are after the Power, and the kids don't want to give it up, even though its use will kill them in the long run, and whatever, I don't care.

The premise had promise, but I was just bored throughout the whole thing.

The Little Mermaid (3/5)

If I did decimals, this would be more a 3.5/5, but alas, I don't, so suck it.

Snark aside, as the title suggests, this is the actual story 'The Little Mermaid,' as written by Hans Chrstian Andersen way back in the day. As mentioned elsewhere, one of my writing projects is a Little Mermaid story, so thought it best to go back to the source. Worth of that endeavour aside, how does this hold up as a work of fiction by itself?

Honestly, reasonably decently. I'm going to assume that you haven't read the book, and are generally unfamiliar with the archtype of the tale (tail?), which is unlikely, I know, but regardless, seems to be the best way to go about it.

Under the sea, there live the mer-folk. Six daughters of the King of the Sea are allowed to go to the surface when they turn 16. Each daughter goes up and is entranced by the surface world, but soon lose interest, and find that life under the sea is much better. This, however, puts a sense of longing into the titular character (I should note that no-one is actually named in this story - the Little Mermaid is just called "The Little Mermaid," for instance), as her sisters keep coming back with these wondrous stories, so it's all the sweeter when she finally makes it to the surface. Sweeter still when she sees a hunky prince and saves him, singing to him on the beach before returning to the ocean.

Lots of time passes and the Little Mermaid remains besotted with the prince. She keeps returning to the surface and hears gossip about him, glad to hear that he seems like a decent fellow, and secretly pleased that she's the one responsible for saving him, even if no-one knows it. Alas, being a horrible abomination of fish and human makes things a mite difficult. Her mother/grandmother (not sure which) cautions her against such feelings, and explains the differences between humans and mermaids. Humans are mortal, but have souls, which are released upon death and go to Heaven (not said in those exact words, but that's the gist of it - the book's very Christian in its outlook). Mermaids, on the other hand, live up to 300 years, but have no life beyond death, and upon death, turn to foam and become one with the sea. To the LM's mother, this is a good deal, but not so much the LM herself. Eventually, she sees the Sea Witch and makes a deal - the Sea Witch will take her voice, and in exchange, make her human. If she can get the prince to fall in love with her, she gets her happy ending. If the prince takes wife, however, she will return to the sea (as in, die, become foam, etc.)

The LM takes the deal and meets the prince, but with her being mute, communication is a downer. The prince is clearly fond of her, but nor does he seem to truly love her, and marriage isn't happening anytime soon. Her sisters greet her from the sea, but she can't go back. Eventually, the prince takes a wife from some other kingdom and marries her, which means that the LM has until the next sunrise. Upon the prince's ship, as he sleeps with his wife, her sisters offer a knife and a way out. If she kills him before sunrise, she can return to her life as a mermaid (there's a bit more detail as to how this works). However, as she truly loves him, she refuses to take his life. As a reward, upon death, she's greeted by beings that I thought were angels, but are apparently air elementals. Apparently moved by her moral centre, she can join them in bringing joy to people, and one day, ascending to Heaven, as she's earnt a soul.

I'm not 100% sold on the ending. Really, the book can be described as a tragedy (in the literary sense), but the creatures offer the LM an 'out,' rather than her having to face the full consequences of her actions. On the other hand, her love remains unrequited, through no fault of the prince himself, and she pays the price (in a sense) for her actions. But that aside, the book is decent. It flows very well and the writing is perfectly readable, despite having been written in the 19th century. The Christian theology may be a take it or leave it aspect, but for me, it's fine.

Small Gods (4/5)

To be clear, this is the graphic novel adaptation of the Discworld novel of the same name, not the novel itself.

At this point in time, it should be clear that I'm not a big Pratchett fan, and that one of the main reason I'm reading it is that I can honestly say I have to, well, let's just say "certain people" on these forums, but whatever. Point is, Small Gods, the graphic novel, is certainly "good," but it's definitely not "great."

It's better if you read the Wikipedia summary in this case, as it can summarize the plot better than I can. Overall, like I said, this is "good," but that's mainly on the level of execution - there's some good lines, weighty moments, the end got me in "the feels," etc. Conceptually, on the other hand, I'm not sure what the fuss is about. The theme of Small Gods is simple - religion is a blight on humanity. It's His Dark Materials ten years before HDM was published, and only slightly less subtle. It's also pretty scathing of philosophy as well, since most of the philosophers in the work are really just idiots who think they're being profound with their idioms, but 99% of the time, aren't doing any real service to mankind, yet it's that 1%, as Om points out, why people keep them around. Also, there's the revelation that the events of the story are due to time travel that we barely see, that 100 years of religious war became 100 years of peace because some monk thought that would make better history. While this is a minor gripe, it's the same problem I had with Mort - if history can be changed at will, why does anything matter? Why should any war occur in Discworld if it can just be removed from history? Again, these are minor gripes, and this isn't the only setting with this problem, but still...

So, yeah. On one hand, it's good, on the other, I don't think it's as insightful on the human condition as many have claimed. Granted, this is the graphic novel rather than the novel proper, so maybe some stuff was cut (and is also why I'm not adding it to the rankings).
 
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OpticalJunction

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Just finished "One by One" by Ruth Ware today. Good book, predictable ending though.

I'm now reading "Devil and the Dark Water" by Stuart Turton
 

Drathnoxis

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At this point in time, it should be clear that I'm not a big Pratchett fan, and that one of the main reason I'm reading it is that I can honestly say I have to, well, let's just say "certain people" on these forums, but whatever.
Hey, I'm not forcing you to read any more Pratchett. I only made suggestions of the ones I liked best because you seem to keep reading them despite saying you don't like them every time. By all means, stop and never look back, you won't hurt my feelings.
 

Hawki

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Hey, I'm not forcing you to read any more Pratchett. I only made suggestions of the ones I liked best because you seem to keep reading them despite saying you don't like them every time. By all means, stop and never look back, you won't hurt my feelings.
You're not among the "certain people" I was referring to.

Long story short, Pratchett came up in the Hogwarts Legacy thread, and, well, let's just say that reading Pratchett gives me some 'ammo' in regards to the things discussed. That, and it's a principle of mine that one should watch/read/play/listen to something before passing judgement, which was one of the points of contention.
 

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Just finished Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir. Excellent book, would definitely recommend.
 

Absent

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The boring one
Wonderous planets of unwaning Poe revolve around me.
 

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Revenge of the Librarians (4/5)

Basically a collection of comic strips with librarian/reader/author/Covid lockdown jokes. It's decent. Jokes repeat themselves in some cases (or at least that feels like the case), but overall, decent.

Ponderous planets of unwaning woe revolve around me.
...so you're the sun?
 

Drathnoxis

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Finished the first book of the Deathgate Cycle, Dragon Wing. It was good. I was really into it to begin with. I thought the take on Dwarves was pretty fun, being basically the Hobbits of this setting. Kind of a silly, innocent race, isolated from the troubles and conflict of the rest of the world. The rest of the characters were pretty interesting too. I don't think it managed to wrap itself together well in the end. I don't really understand the character arc for the assassin and why he seemed to randomly fall in love with the prince's mother after knowing her for a couple hours. I think the better ending would have been if he'd actually accomplished his mission and killed the prince, but whatever. The overarching villains pretty much won in the end so it was kind of unsatisfying, but I guess they want to do some set up for the rest of the series.

If they'd stuck the ending I would rank it a lot higher, but as it is I think it was good enough that I'm going to read the second book next.
 

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A Tale of Two Cities" by C. Dickens
It's been more than ten years since I read it, but I found myself reminiscing about it lately...
 

Absent

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Just finished Despentes' "King Kong Theory", it was surprisingy awesome.
 

Hawki

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The Shepherd's Crown (4/5)

This is probably going to turn some heads, but of all the Discworld novels I've read so far, this would be my favourite. And furthermore, out of all said-novels, it's the most un-Pratchetty Discworld novel I've read bar 'The Colour of Magic.'

I should probably give some context here - this is the last Discworld book, specifically the last one Pratchett wrote before he died, and as such, it's unfinished. Not that it doesn't have an ending, but that it didn't have everything added to it that he intended. This shows in some areas - for instance, there's a character's pet goat named Mephistopholes who's highly intelligent (e.g. can dance, use the privy, open gates, etc.), that everyone makes a fuss over, that gives the indication that the Mince of Darkness's quirks are going to result in plot payoff, but nup, it's just a really smart goat. That's it. Furthermore, in regards to the writing style, the writing is arguably a bit more 'basic' - it has far fewer footnotes, and the tone of the book is far less tongue in cheek. That said, as someone who's mixed on Pratchett's writing style, while this divergence isn't inherently good or bad in of itself, the writing style does match the subject matter. Since Pratchett lasted two years between his alzheimers diagnosis and his death, I could speculate that a lot in this book is a reflection of that (for instance, Granny Weatherwax passes away early on and is greeted by Death), as well as the overall themes, but regardless as to whether you subscribe to death of the author or not, the themes are pertinent to the setting regardless.

What I really like about TSC is its sense of melencholia. Everything in the book, from its plot to its worldbuilding to its themes, hinges around the idea of moving on. Discworld has gone through its industrial revolution - the railways are spreading, things are generally better for everyone (this isn't speculative, it's outright stated that there's far fewer wars in Discworld now than in the past), goblins are treated better, etc. It's telling that the villains of this book are the elves, who represent the old world, but are barred from the new one on a literal level (there's so much iron, which is harmful to them) and a figurative one (old world stuff). There's almost a kind of yearning for what Discworld has moved on from, what the series has moved on from, and yet, it's led to something that's pretty neat for everyone involved, even if there's sacrifice along the way in one last battle (which is a bit generic, granted).

I also want to touch on Tiffany herself for a bit. Now, the only other Tiffany Aching book I've read is Wintersmith (you can see what I wrote about that way back), but I really like Tiffany as a character here. While she's a lot less quirky than, say, Susan, and arguably more mundane as a character overall in the context of Discworld's insanity, I like Tiffany here because of how, at the end of the day, she's a fundamentally good person. Throughout the book, she's living in the shadow of Granny Weatherwax's death, but does the best she can, keeps at the job, is kind to everyone, makes her stand when she has to, etc. Tiffany isn't really a complex character, but she's the kind of character that fits this kind of book - melencholia for the past, but she's someone who represents the optimistic future. That similarly applies to Geoffrey, the owner (or rather, partner) of Mephistopholes, who's a boy who wants to be a witch (or a "calm-weaver," as he ends up being called), and is just all-around decent as well.

So, yeah. I can understand why many people tend to rank this low for Discworld, given how it's not written in the style of the other books. But as its own thing? Pretty solid. And speaking of rankings, as usual, my own are below:

7) The Colour of Magic

6) Hogfather

5) Witches Abroad

4) Ms. Bradshaw’s Handbook

3) Wintersmith

2) Mort

1) The Shepherd’s Crown
 
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Thaluikhain

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The Shepherd's Crown (4/5)

This is probably going to turn some heads, but of all the Discworld novels I've read so far, this would be my favourite. And furthermore, out of all said-novels, it's the most un-Pratchetty Discworld novel I've read bar 'The Colour of Magic.'


I don't know if you intended that as an insult, but either way...
 

Hawki

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I don't know if you intended that as an insult, but either way...
Not an insult. I just don't think CoM is very good, but that aside, CoM came off as pretty standard fantasy, whereas every other Discworld novel I've read has Pratchett's trademark wit. Even Shepherd's Crown feels more in keeping with the overall Discworld style than CoM.

Which is understandable, since CoM was the first of the lot, but anyway, yeah. Never been fond of CoM.
 

Drathnoxis

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The Shepherd's Crown (4/5)

This is probably going to turn some heads, but of all the Discworld novels I've read so far, this would be my favourite. And furthermore, out of all said-novels, it's the most un-Pratchetty Discworld novel I've read bar 'The Colour of Magic.'

I should probably give some context here - this is the last Discworld book, specifically the last one Pratchett wrote before he died, and as such, it's unfinished. Not that it doesn't have an ending, but that it didn't have everything added to it that he intended. This shows in some areas - for instance, there's a character's pet goat named Mephistopholes who's highly intelligent (e.g. can dance, use the privy, open gates, etc.), that everyone makes a fuss over, that gives the indication that the Mince of Darkness's quirks are going to result in plot payoff, but nup, it's just a really smart goat. That's it. Furthermore, in regards to the writing style, the writing is arguably a bit more 'basic' - it has far fewer footnotes, and the tone of the book is far less tongue in cheek. That said, as someone who's mixed on Pratchett's writing style, while this divergence isn't inherently good or bad in of itself, the writing style does match the subject matter. Since Pratchett lasted two years between his alzheimers diagnosis and his death, I could speculate that a lot in this book is a reflection of that (for instance, Granny Weatherwax passes away early on and is greeted by Death), as well as the overall themes, but regardless as to whether you subscribe to death of the author or not, the themes are pertinent to the setting regardless.

What I really like about TSC is its sense of melencholia. Everything in the book, from its plot to its worldbuilding to its themes, hinges around the idea of moving on. Discworld has gone through its industrial revolution - the railways are spreading, things are generally better for everyone (this isn't speculative, it's outright stated that there's far fewer wars in Discworld now than in the past), goblins are treated better, etc. It's telling that the villains of this book are the elves, who represent the old world, but are barred from the new one on a literal level (there's so much iron, which is harmful to them) and a figurative one (old world stuff). There's almost a kind of yearning for what Discworld has moved on from, what the series has moved on from, and yet, it's led to something that's pretty neat for everyone involved, even if there's sacrifice along the way in one last battle (which is a bit generic, granted).

I also want to touch on Tiffany herself for a bit. Now, the only other Tiffany Aching book I've read is Wintersmith (you can see what I wrote about that way back), but I really like Tiffany as a character here. While she's a lot less quirky than, say, Susan, and arguably more mundane as a character overall in the context of Discworld's insanity, I like Tiffany here because of how, at the end of the day, she's a fundamentally good person. Throughout the book, she's living in the shadow of Granny Weatherwax's death, but does the best she can, keeps at the job, is kind to everyone, makes her stand when she has to, etc. Tiffany isn't really a complex character, but she's the kind of character that fits this kind of book - melencholia for the past, but she's someone who represents the optimistic future. That similarly applies to Geoffrey, the owner (or rather, partner) of Mephistopholes, who's a boy who wants to be a witch (or a "calm-weaver," as he ends up being called), and is just all-around decent as well.

So, yeah. I can understand why many people tend to rank this low for Discworld, given how it's not written in the style of the other books. But as its own thing? Pretty solid. And speaking of rankings, as usual, my own are below:

7) The Colour of Magic

6) Hogfather

5) Witches Abroad

4) Ms. Bradshaw’s Handbook

3) Wintersmith

2) Mort

1) The Shepherd’s Crown
I wonder if you'd prefer his other series The Long Earth that he worked on with Stephen Baxter. It was pretty un-Pratchetty as well. The concept is that humanity discovers a device that allows them to cross over into infinite parallel Earths, none of which contain humans. It's a pretty interesting concept, but I only read the first 2 books in the series.
 

Drathnoxis

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Finished Soul Eater. It ended better than the anime, but it still wasn't an amazing anime. The final chapter was really odd as well. Some would have said that after defeating the Kishin it would have been nice to have a bit of a wind down with the characters and cap off a few character arcs, the author saw things differently, however. Instead the final chapter is almost a gag chapter where a bunch of recurring jokes are once again reiterated and we get a bunch of fan-service. I don't know, I didn't like it.

Also one more big problem I have with the series is that way too often someone will take what seems like fatal damage at the end of a chapter, only to instantly heal at the start of the next chapter. That and people have a tendency to pull powers out of nowhere all the time. Like Black
Star just starts flying in the final battle and nobody even mentions it. I mean, I guess it's Black
Star and we shouldn't exactly be surprised at what he can do by this point, but still, a big deal was made over Maka learning to fly because of her "Grigori soul" so it's kind of annoying when Black
Star can just do it out of nowhere. Also I don't get why Maka was so hung up on Crona, he's killed so many people by this point I don't understand why she is so concerned with saving him. He pretty much nuked an entire town. Also, a lot of the major villains went down in pretty anti-climactic ways. Giriko and Medusa were done pretty dirty. I also have no idea why Tezca Tlipoca decided to commit suicide by combat, because there was no reason for him to go to that battle alone.

Also, some of the art was kind of odd in the later chapters. Like look at Stein here:
Capture.JPGCapture2.JPG

His eyes look like big rabbit ears coming out of the middle of his face, and what's with his legs, they look like broken toothpicks. It's so bizarre, who thought that looked good?

Oh well, overall I thought it was decent, but it definitely peaked with the Black
Star vs. Mifune fight. I still definitely recommend the manga over the anime. No question.
 
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Drathnoxis

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I'm about half way through volume 1 of the Pokemon Adventure manga. It's pretty standard, sticking a lot closer to the game than Electric Tales of Pikachu (and with far less fanservice). The battles pretty much come down to "wow, you know type advantage! What an amazing trainer!" the most notable thing as of yet is that Pikachu freaking exploded Brock's Onix!

Pokemon_Special_v01_c005_012.jpg


It's definitely dead!
 
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Hawki

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Read some stuff:

-The Mediterranean (1/5)

-Dungeons & Dragons Academy: No Humans Allowed! (3/5)

-Deltora Quest 3: Dragon's Nest (3/5)
 

Hawki

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So because of The Little Mermaid story I'm writing, reading things respective to the lore/overall myths, so on that note:

-Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea Witch (2/5)

-Kronan and the Mermaid: A Tale of Old Ireland (4/5)

-The Little Mermaid (Dark Horse adaptation) (3/5)