Mar. 19th, 2009

Wouldn't you know, I finished my book. I guess it's about time I updated the list.

BOOK LIST 2009
1/1/2009-

Previously on book list... )
15.  The Phoenix Wright Files vol. 1 compilation by Del Ray Manga
16.  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
17.  Dragonflight by Anne McCaffery
18.  Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero by E. Paul Zehr
19.  The Cobra Event by Richard Preston
20.  Death from the Skies! by Philip Plait, PhD
21.  Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
22.  Empress by Karen Miller
23.  The Riven Kingdom by Karen Miller
24.  Hammer of God by Karen Miller

I've mumbled about most of these already, and the Godspeaker trilogy (the last three on the list so far) sort of defy words right now since I'm tired. But go read them, for they are awesome.

I have no idea what I'm going to read next, honestly. I'm kind of two minds about reading another really high-end fantasy and I'm kind of tempted to snitch a copy of Life of Pi since I've heard nothing but good things about it and then I can maybe sneak it in before the end of the year.
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Feb. 17th, 2009

09 book list post 1 / cinema

One of my little projects last year was to try and read 50 books. I didn't actually get started until March, and I got done with fifty in October, and I didn't count a single one of the graphic novels and/or manga that I read, which would have bumped the total to fifty and then some during the same period.

This year, I decided to just keep track of the books I read, period, and see how many I can finish in a given year without trying particularly hard. I'm counting graphic novels and manga this time, since they do count as books and very nice ones at that. XD So far I've had a couple of re-reads, but for the most part this year's book selection has been all new material.

I figure once I break 20 books, I'll start putting the list behind an lj-cut.

BOOK LIST 2009
1/1/2009-

1.  Zombies vs. Robots Complete by Chris Ryall and Ashley Wood
2.  Petshop of Horrors: Tokyo vol. 3 by Matsuri Akino
3.  The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (translated by Robin Buss)
4.  Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique by Michael S. Gazzaniga
5.  Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
6.  The First Protector by James White
7.  I'm Just Here for the Food ver 2.0 by Alton Brown
8.  The Compound by S. A. Bodeen
9.  The Cosmic Landscape by Leonard Susskind
10.  Old Man's War by John Scalzi
11.  The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi
12.  The Last Colony by John Scalzi
13.  The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

I've burbled about both Monte Cristo and Human a few times already, so I'm not going to burble about them again.

I really enjoyed Stranger in a Strange Land so I'm looking to pick up Heinlein again. The last book I read was Red Planet during the time in the 90's when they were airing the little mini-series on Fox Kids in the morning. I suspect I was perhaps a little young to really appreciate it. Luckily, my brother has practically everything the man ever wrote (I got my copy thanks to my mother accidentally buying a duplicate copy.. Moose was lending his own copy to someone around Christmas) so I figure I can filch pretty liberally from that.

I finally got around to reading the OMW books, and I suppose it's a surprise I held out this long considering I've been reading Scalzi's blog for quite some time and I enjoyed The Android's Dream so much. I'm now itching for when Zoe's Tale is in paperback and wondering just what the hell Earth is going to decide to do! Naturally, I had to lend the OMW books to my mother and get her hooked, too.

The Right Stuff was actually work-related, since it was sitting around the book room and I thought it might be a good idea to throw at the juniors towards the end of the school year. I actually really loved it-- it tells the epic tale of the first days of spaceflight, from the rocket-planes they used to break the sound barrier through the Mercury missions. It actually inspired me to dig out my old copy of Apollo 13 for a bit, though I'm of two minds about finishing it since there a fairly long list of books I want to pick up.

The Forever War was just re-released in paperback and I kind of want it. Especially since I have an extra discount coupon with B&N!

I also have to say that after immersing myself in E:FC lately, I really crave some Star Trek: The Next Generation. I almost think I want my optimism back-- the OMW series was pretty depressing in terms of our ability to get along with other species as well (though it kicked some ass anyway). That and I found Mom's copy of the old technical manual, which I used to pore over as a kid, mostly to read the neat little behind-the-scenes footnotes. I actually managed to find the "medical insurance remaining" display that they talked about-- it's in the sample medical LCARS panel in the book itself. XD The only problem with this plan is that Star Trek, being an American Institution, is bloody expensive.

It probably goes without saying that I will be there for the movie, just to see what they do with the characters. A Kirk that isn't Shatner? OMG. (Shatner should be happy, though. His pet Mary-Sue is finally getting canon screen time after all those novels in which he valiantly tries to bring Kirk back to life. Thank Bob the ghostwriters always managed to find a way to kill him off again!)

I will also be seeing Watchmen since it'll either be completely brilliant like V for Vendetta was or suck horribly.

Oct. 8th, 2008

I finished the 50 book meme earlier this week! :D So here's the final book list for the 50 book meme, though I'm considering keeping up a record of what I'm reading and seeing how many books I can get through in a year. I'll probably start this project in January of 2009, tho, just to get a more realistic picture of what's going on. For now, I shall savor the victoly.

BOOK LIST 2008
50 books 3/8/2008-10/8/2008

1.  A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
2.  Diplomatic Immunity by Lois McMaster Bujold
3.  Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold
4.  The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
5.  Night by Elie Wiesel
6.  Animal Farm by George Orwell
7.  A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold
8.  The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks
9.  The Android's Dream by John Scalzi
10.  Magic's Pawn by Mercedes Lackey
11.  Magic's Promise by Mercedes Lackey
12.  Magic's Price by Mercedes Lackey
13.  Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
14.  The Black Gryphon by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon
15.  Owlsight by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon
16.  Exile's Valor by Mercedes Lackey
17.  Survival of the Sickest by Dr. Sharon Moalem with Jonathan Prince
18.  Owlknight by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon
19.  2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C Clarke
20.  Winds of Fate by Mercedes Lackey
21.  Winds of Fury by Mercedes Lackey
22.  Switching Time by Richard Baer
23.  The Ancestor's Tale by Richard Dawkins
24.  Winds of Change by Mercedes Lackey
25.  The Cosmic Landscape by Leonard Susskind
26.  Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
27.  You Can Run But You Can't Hide by Duane "Dog" Chapman
28.  Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
29.  Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions by Lisa Randall
30.  Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde
31.  Animate Earth by Stephan Harding
32.  The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller
33.  The Awakened Mage by Karen Miller
34.  Panic in Level 4 by Richard Preston
35.  Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
36.  The Postman by David Brin
37.  Origins by Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith
38.  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
39.  Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku
40.  Bonk by Mary Roach
41.  Spook by Mary Roach
42.  In the Blink of an Eye by Andrew Parker
43.  Earth the Biography by Iain Stewart and John Lynch
44.  Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
45.  Grendel by James Gardener
46.  Dracula by Bram Stoker
47.  New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
48.  Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer
49.  Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
50.  Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

Sep. 3rd, 2008

BLOODSUCKING VAMPIRES

Don't you just hate it when you have a really profound thought and you're all like "I am so blogging this!" and then when you get home from work you find you've totally forgotten it?

Yeah.

In other news, books!

Surely you know what's lurking behind here by now! )
44.  Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
45.  Grendel by James Gardener

Currenty Reading: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Stiff was indeed every bit as good as a Mary Roach book is. Now I find myself eagerly awaiting her next one. She also writes for Discover, which I subscribe to, so I'm kinda hoping that something of hers pops up there as well. Really great book. :D

Grendel was something I got a little bit because of work and a little bit because I wanted to see what all the fuss was. It's kind of a trippy book, since it's basically told from the point of view of one of the villains from Beowulf (which I still have sitting in my pile of books to get through this year, lol). I think I would probably slot it pretty firmly into the existentialist category of literature, but without as much of the total randomness that characterizes some of the other things I've read in that genre, though admittedly both were plays. (Waiting for Godot, source of a million puns related to a certain PW prosecutor, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead which totally needs to be put on the local Brit Lit curriculum if it's not there already and jeeze I should get the movie on DVD. Can you tell which one I liked better?)

And now I'm reading Dracula. Partially for work (I plan on doing something with it in November to commemorate a certain sparkly vampire film's release) and partially because after hearing about all the Twilight-related wank, it was just time to go back to the classic. Edward Cullen lies awake at night, crying his little sparkly eyes out, wishing he was Dracula. And if having the granddaddy of all vampire fiction protagonists wasn't enough, the book itself is told as an epistolary instead of a traditional narrative, so you have the novelty of the format that helps to ameliorate the fact that it is still pretty heavily Victorian at the end of the day. (It's actually a very readable Victorian for all that.)

I did sort of promise myself that I was going to finish slogging through the Twilight series just for shits and giggles (I own a copy). I have a feeling I'll need to read the lovely cleansing Hellsing manga I've collected to clean my mind afterward. Or re-read Dracula. Or hell, Interview with the Vampire was better, and that's saying something considering how much of an emo twit Louis is. I dunno, is it wrong that I totally got into the series after watching the movie, and I still kind of have a soft spot for it after it got me through puberty?

I think I need more Hellsing icons. You can never have too many of those.
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Aug. 3rd, 2008

BOOK LIST 2008

Previously on book list... )
34.  Panic in Level 4 by Richard Preston
35.  Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
36.  The Postman by David Brin
37.  Origins by Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith
38.  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
39.  Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku
40.  Bonk by Mary Roach
41.  Spook by Mary Roach
42.  In the Blink of an Eye by Andrew Parker
43.  Earth the Biography by Iain Stewart and John Lynch

Currently Reading: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Um, yeah.

I'm almost up to the 50 books required by the meme without counting a single one of the TPB comics or manga volume's I've read this year. I think this is probably proof that I read way too much, especially considering that I have a stack of things I've got sitting on my "to read" list still.

Let's see... Panic in Level 4 was as interesting as I thought it was going to be-- actually finished reading it in a day. It really brings to life various people with all this odd stuff going on, rather than being clinical. I liked it enough to buy The Demon in the Freezer at the Giant Book Sale.

Alas, Babylon and The Postman both hark to the post-apocalyptic genre. Both were written in the 50's and it's kind of amazing. Alas is incredibly racist and sexist to a modern reader, but then you stop to think and you realize that it really is one of the most progressive damn things from the era. And The Postman is actually quite dark and nothing like the Kevin Costner movie at all. Lots more actual scifi elements in that, but it works out somehow.

Origins is something I've wanted to read since I read Death By Black Hole really early in the year, so I was glad to get hold of a copy finally. Lots of science essays strung together by their common denominator of origins. It was also a special on PBS.

Brave New World is yet another classic dystopia. This one features a eugenic caste system in a world where everything revolves around mindless consumerism. It's basically a look at a utopia, using the dreams of advertising as a basis. Really creepy.

Physics of the Impossible is pop science, looking at how various things common to science fiction shows could be conceivable using highly advanced technology that takes advantage of the latest knowledge in physics. I love the bit on teleportation. We can actually teleport things now.. we're only up to atoms. But dude. Teleportation.

Mary Roach is getting to be one of my happiest science writers. Bonk is about sex and sex research and the interesting history thereof. Spook is about the scientific attempts to determine if we have souls and/or life after death. And Stiff is just what the subtitle says. All are at the same time humorous and deeply sympathetic to the subject matter, and I really recommend her stuff.

In the Blink of an Eye is a biology-based book that puts forward the "light switch" theory of what's known as the "Cambrian Explosion," the sudden appearence of all the different phyla of animals in the fossil record. (A phylum is a level of classification of animals-- it can be loosely translated as referring to the most basic elements of an animal's body plan.) The reason? The first true eyes appeared in animals, which began the era of active predation, and lots of things had to adapt in a hurry to cope. It's a neat theory and the book lays out the case well.

Earth: The Biography is a companion to a National Geo special of the same name, looking at the Earth's systems and how they have changed and regulated climate over the years. Sorta like a guided look at some of the Gaian stuff outlined in Animate Earth. Though the end of the book brought up a good point-- it's obvious from the record that nothing we humans are doing to the climate will kill off the Earth and the existence of life itself upon it. It's more the fact that we won't survive what we're doing that's got everyone concerned. It's a coffee table book almost, so it's got some amazing pictures.

Aaaaaand, that's everything for this round of updates on my list. :D
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Jun. 20th, 2008

BOOKS!

Previously on Book List )
30.  Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde
31.  Animate Earth by Stephan Harding
32.  The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller
33.  The Awakened Mage by Karen Miller

Currenty Reading: Panic in Level 4 by Richard Preston

Something Rotten was yet another awesome romp by Fforde, though now I'm stuck in a quandary since I need to get hold of the books between The Erye Affair and that one. D: I love the whole fictionality bit, though I do kind of wish Thursday returns to it in the next book. Also, the Special Features were WIN.

Animate Earth is kind of a neat read-- it's part meditation and part science, explaining some of the basics of Gaia Theory. It's also, not surprisingly, a great inspiration to the character of D Orcot, who I roleplay, and just how the change in the kami from nature's guardians to agents of vengeance may have contributed to the very downfall of the biosphere that they're always bitching about. Fun read, especially if you're into meditation and want to try some new exercises.

The Innocent Mage and The Awakened Mage are basically parts one and two of the larger Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series, and both were very awesome. I enjoyed the protagonist, who takes a lot of the whole "great hero with a destiny" stuff and turns it on its ear. I did think the ending was a little rushed, especially given some of the build-up, but there again it was probably justified to rush a little since I doubt she could have pulled a third book off. I'm looking forward to reading some of Miller's other stuff.

Panic in Level 4 is yet another Richard Preston book. He's most famous for The Hot Zone and his other biology-gone-mad nonfiction stuff. I've just read the intro so far and I do think I'm going to like this as much as I liked The Hot Zone. The honors biology students got the option to read Hot Zone as their summer homework assignment, and I totally hope a lot of them go for it... it's that good, even if by definition kinda gross.

Ironically, I was first introduced to both Preston and rated-R movies when I was 12. Our geography teacher was going through stuff on Africa and detoured to talk about the crazy viruses coming out of the jungle (a brilliant way to get us interested in Africa, if I do say so). She read to us the section on the symptoms of Marburg from The Hot Zone and we watched Outbreak, which is actually a pretty tame R that only got the rating because the general in it likes to drop the F-bomb. (Alas, she got jumped on by the administration and had to fast-forward through most of the general's scenes because of it.. so I got my parents to rent it and we watched the full version at home.) Later that year I picked up a copy of The Hot Zone to read while I was home sick with something. I think I also have a copy of the one fiction piece he did about the bioterror thing in New York.. never finished reading that one, so I'll have to see if I have a copy of it floating around.
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May. 26th, 2008

BOOKS!

I've been reading, honestly, but I've been lazy about updating my list.

Previous List )
25.  The Cosmic Landscape by Leonard Susskind
26.  Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
27.  You Can Run But You Can't Hide by Duane "Dog" Chapman
28.  Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
29.  Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions by Lisa Randall

Currenty Reading: Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde

Thought I'd try new formatting and show the new stuff outside of the cut while leaving the old list alone. It's a lot of books this time, I think.

The Cosmic Landscape is part of my small collection of books on theoretical physics, as is Warped Passages. Both of them deal with some of the interesting possibilities on how our universe works that have come out of String Theory. The Cosmic Landscape talks about the Anthropic Principle, which has kind of been a bug in the ear of physicists for a while. Basically, anthropic reasoning is when you say a given value has to be a given value for life to exist and observe it. It works best when you are working with the statistics of very large numbers-- out of all the zillions of possibilities out there, this one possibility gets picked because otherwise we wouldn't be around to wonder why things are the way they are. Susskind obviously puts it better than I do, but the really exciting thing about his take on how the anthropic principle might work implies that anything that is possible is probably out there somewhere in the megaverse. That's pretty cool. Warped Passages, on the other hand, has to deal with the model-building end of the latest theories and talks about how there are several models using extra dimensions that could solve some of the bigger riddles in physics, lots of which should have experimental consequences when the Large Hadron Collider finally starts working. I really like Randall's way of explaining things-- she uses a lot of references to pop culture and has a really good grasp on using stories and analogies to talk about the advanced concepts in the book. Though you'd still probably have to love science in order to read those two books.

Inherit the Wind is a book I'm working with at work, but work books are fair game as far as I'm concerned. No, it wasn't written by that Robert E Lee. For those who haven't read it, I recommend it. It's a dramatization of the Scopes Monkey Trial, and I still tear up a little at the ending. The goofy teenagers also loved it, so it's going to be staying on my list of things to do at work, yes.

You Can Run But You Can't Hide is Dog the Bounty Hunter's memoir. I'd picked it up because I figured a lot of the boys would like to read it, and sure enough one's picked it up, but it was still a fairly entertaining read. It definitely gives you a lot of perspective on him and what he does... and he doesn't really pull punches on himself either when it comes to talking about the stupid and impulsive things he's done in the past. Though I do kinda want to find out what's going to happen with the whole Mexico thing. XD

Oryx and Crake was weird, sorta Gattaca weird. The story runs in two threads. The "present-tense" thread of the story talks about Snowman and his having to deal with a post-apocalyptic world with only these innocent bioengineered "Crakers" around. He sort of becomes their storyteller/hermit figure and he teaches them and tells stories as best he can while trying to scratch out a living. Through the present he reminices to get the "past-tense" storyline, where Snowman is a boy named Jimmy dealing with the dystopian world with biotech run amok, finally ending with the creation of the Crakers and the disaster that destroys everything else. Ends on a cliffhanger, though you can make some guesses what happens. Really good book, but really weird.

Picked up Something Rotten at one of the remainder sales floating around. It's a Thursday Next novel, and since I liked The Eyre Affair I think I'll like this one. Even if Hamlet is apparently involved. Mom lent me Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister as well, and I have one of the Gates books floating around too from the same sales. I love getting hardbacks and paperback prices. :D
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Apr. 22nd, 2008

Books, yo

Da List Updated )

Currenty Reading: The Ancestor's Tale by Richard Dawkins

Haven't read a lot in the last week, partially because things just get crazy now and then.

Finished Winds of Fury which was okay. I think in retrospect I was saddened by the fact that Falconsbane just totally melts down for no really good reason, but then again it's almost impossible to believably sustain a character who's evil for evil's sake without them being seriously more cracked in the head than the average person can imagine. Villains just work better when they have noble aims and take that whole "ends justify the means" route. Like Dornkirk in Escaflowne.. Dornkirk was badass. He started the local equivalent of a world war, wiped out a whole country and massive chunks of a few others, runs a totalitarian war-mad society.. and that's not even getting into the unethical experimentation and mucking about with fate... all to make a utopia where everyone's wishes come true. (And here's a spoiler. He managed to pull it off too.) Compared to Dornkirk, Falconsbane is just Yet Another Schoolyard Bully.

I did spend the weekend reading.. the Mage Storms Trilogy: Good Parts Version. I still think I adore Tremane, and I'm kinda sad that they barely do anything with him the first couple books. A novel or two set in Tremane's Hardorn would be nifty. But since I didn't read the full text, they won't appear on the list.

Spent yesterday reading Switching Time, which Chellemi lent me. It's the true account of a psychiatrist helping treat a woman who had seventeen personalities, and it's absolutely a can't-put-it-down sort of read. You get utterly sickened by the descriptions of what the woman went through, and absolutely drawn in by all her different personalities as they start to manifest and the doctor has to win the trust of each one. In the end everyone does find peace and healing, but the journey there is definitely not what you would expect. Good read all around.

I'm currently working through a second read of The Ancestor's Tale just to continue my little nonfiction trend and get some of the fantasy a rest. Overall I liked the book, though it does get dry at times as science books sometimes do. Dawkins is a good writer, though he is very atheist and it sometimes comes out in obnoxious little asides. A little moreso in >The Ancestor's Tale than The Selfish Gene, but he does manage to keep it down for the most part. On the one hand I can completely understand his frustration since Dawkins works on evolutionary biology by trade and thus has to deal with the idiot Creationists from the front lines. On the other, he does sometimes venture into the same close-mindedness by having such an uncompromising worldview on spirituality.

For the record, I'm a quite happy heretical Christian (with Pre-Fundamentalist-Takeover-Southern Baptist roots) and quite frankly still don't see what the whole fuss is about. If we are to assume God is as good at things as we are supposed to believe, of course He's going to be able to make an internally consistent universe with the ability to be self-sustaining, self-monitoring, and constantly diversifying which incidentally doesn't need Him at all to run. (Sort of a "let there be light.. now let's see what happens" sort of thing. Though obviously from my standpoint I'm sure He's not above occasionally stirring the pot, especially with the tools of nature.) If you're going to do a thing, you're going to do it right. Faith wouldn't be so important if it was blindingly obvious that there's a Heavenly Creator, etc.

Today I ran my last few little errands and picked up a copy of Cloverfield. I've heard it's good.. I'll have to see. At least it was on sale.
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Apr. 17th, 2008

Book List Update! )

Currenty Reading: Winds of Fury by Mercedes Lackey

Exile's Valor did turn out to be much better than its precursor. While I still object to the existence of Herald-Chronicler Myste, Alberich at least got back to his proper badassery.

Survival of the Sickest was an interesting read that discussed various genetically-based disorders and how different ones likely increased our chances of survival in various environments. It gets some bonus points for not trotting sickle-cell anemia out except as a brief mention. It loses some points for its blathering about obesity-- there is a large body of science (pun intended) that shows that fatness A: is not caused by diet, exercise, or the lack thereof but is strongly genetically determined (including various studies done on children that show that fat people and thin people, left to their own devices, have the same eating habits and that fat people overall eat more healthfully when not on a diet) and B: does not shorten people's lifespans or any of the other boogeyman scares that have been running through the media (for the record, fat people are no more prone to death from various causes than thin people, and there's a fairly significant amount of evidence that shows that some fatness actually protects people against major traumas and prolonged stress from things like cancer and, surprisingly enough, heart disease.. which to go along with the theme of the book means the prevalence of fatness in humanity should be no surprise and also isn't an artifact of our lifestyles).

Owlknight is the third of the Darien/Owl books. I was pleasantly surprised by it, since it had been a long time since I read it and I forgot that Firesong stops being such a screaming drama-whore by the time the Owl trilogy comes along. It was also nice to see the peoples north of Valdemar finally getting a culture and stuff beyond "We like to invade and muck things up!"

2001: A Space Odyssey had actually been sitting on my shelf for a while.. I wanted to try the 2001 series for a while, but never got around to it. I have to say that in a lot of ways it's a lot like Childhood's End, but paradoxically I much prefer the ending of 2001 to the end of Childhood's End. Even though they both feature humans completely transcending humanity into this weird sort of post-human superpowered existence beyond all human kenning... I didn't like the end of Childhood's End because in a lot of ways the deal with the Overmind lacked any element of free will. Dave went into everything by choice, even if he didn't totally understand what was going on. He was still able to choose his fate, as opposed to the children who were just sort of swept up to the point where they even lost their individuality (which Dave got to keep). Now I'll have to try and get the rest of the series.

Winds of Fate actually shows that Myste's existence predates the stuff with Alberich by several years. The difference there is that you can take Myste in that book as simply the tongue-in-cheek nod to the reader that it was meant to be. Developing her into an actual character sort of brought the fun from that to an end. The book also seems to confirm a theory of mine-- when you get to Valdemar books that take place chronologically around (or after) when Herald-Captain Kerowyn arrives, there's a huge decrease in the amount of wangst and moaning and stupid floating around. Go in the timeline before that, and it's drama drama drama. I almost think it's because she had to make the tone less suitable for teenage self-pity because that's the point where she merged Valdemar with her established Tarma and Kethry stories, which seem to be aimed at an older, more veteran fantasy audience. (I have yet to find a Tarma and Kathry story I didn't at least like.) I also have to say that I think I like Elspeth a lot more than I thought I would. Though I have to snicker at the fact that it does seem like all bisexuals in the Valdemar timeline have to be evil.

I am currently reading the last part of the Mage-Winds Trilogy because I can't for the life of me find the second book (which is sad because I vaguely remember the whole "let's screw with Falconsbane's head" section was hillarious) and a whole lot of my collection of Lackey books disappeared when they were all packed away when I started college. Until the local bookstore gets it in, I'll have to do without.

I'm tempted to pull out my Mage Storms books next, but I'm only interested in the bits with Tremane and the Imperials. Maybe I'll do a little unofficial roundup of that particular storyline when I'm done re-reading it... I'm more fond of the Tremane subplot than the trilogy in general, even if it was what got me into the series itself.
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Apr. 7th, 2008

ludicrous numbers of books

BOOK LIST 2008

1.  A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
2.  Diplomatic Immunity by Lois McMaster Bujold
3.  Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold
4.  The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
5.  Night by Elie Wiesel
6.  Animal Farm by George Orwell
7.  A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold
8.  The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks
9.  The Android's Dream by John Scalzi
10.  Magic's Pawn by Mercedes Lackey
11.  Magic's Promise by Mercedes Lackey
12.  Magic's Price by Mercedes Lackey
13.  Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
14.  The Black Gryphon by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon
15.  Owlsight by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon

Currenty Reading: Exile's Valor by Mercedes Lackey

Let's see.. babble...

The Android's Dream was definitely a loled, would lol again experience. The identity of the sheep was just priceless, the AIs were well done, and I would so join the Church of the Evolved Lamb if it existed.

The Last Herald-Mage Trilogy was next, aka the I Want to Hit Vanyel with Something Heavy Repeatedly Trilogy. I used to really enjoy these books as a teenager, but looking back from the lofty heights of almost ten years later, I find the books are only good for a wonderful session of schadenfraude and not much else. Well, I take that back. I would like to see more stuff about the Ashkevrons because I bet you there is no way to have a family that produces a legend like that without all the other relatives developing complexes and going on to do amazing things. Too bad we'll probably never see those books.

Arrows of the Queen being the first Valdemar book and sticking with Lackey's tendency to write Special Little Snowflake heroes who were borderline/really abused as children who end up having the world-shaking powers. Again, it's pretty much brain candy and light entertainment, as evidenced by the fact I've been blowing through the various Valdemar books at speed.

The interesting thing is that whenever Lackey is paired with her husband, Larry Dixon, the writing takes a strong turn for the better and Dixon usually illustrates it a bit. I still adore The Black Gryphon and I think Skandranon is still a hoot. I would also recommend The White Gryphon but I didn't get much into The Silver Gryphon, so I'd only rec the first two books in that particular trilogy.

Owlsight is the second book in the Darian's Tale Trilogy, but it's the one that introduces Keisha Alder, who is a very awesome Healer, plus Darian himself stops being an angsty teenage whiner (like so many of Lackey's Valdemar characters.. SIGH) by that point so it's an enjoyable enough romp. I even went and got the rest of that particular trilogy just so that I could read the other two.

Currently I'm reading Exile's Valor, partially to see if it sucked as much as Exile's Honor did. Alberich as a character actually has the chance to be something incredibly awesome, especially given that A-- he'd been characterized as the Auron of the Heralds and B-- there was the chance for some awesome challenging of assumptions/cross-cultural hijinks before the official peace between Valdemar and Karse happened in the series. Exile's Honor turned out to be more of Lackey's trademarked wangsty stuff once the good part (previously published as a short story that was avowed to stay that way.. ha ha) ended. Exile's Valor is at least shaping up to be more interesting, though now I want to take a heavy object to Selenay repeatedly. I also still object to the existence of Herald-Chronicler Myste strenuously. Okay, Lackey, we get it, you would so bang Alberich. That was no excuse to throw in a Mary Sue for that express purpose.

The sad thing is that Lackey's non-Valdemar stuff tends to generally be pretty good, especially her adaptations of fairy tales. The Fire Rose and Firebird were both awesome, and the SERRAted Edge series is pretty okay for early urban fantasy. For some reason, though, Valdemar just brings out the wangst.

And yet I read it anyway.

I did pick up some other stuff at the book store.. I have an interesting one about health and disease and how the immune system is really supposed to work. I've also got some manga floating around and I should really get to re-reading the Temeraire books again, though I've been holding off just because from my initial skimming the fourth book is looking to be quite depressing. :|
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Mar. 26th, 2008

book list update )

I'm still not quite finished with The Android's Dream due to being distracted by The Zombie Survival Guide. It's an interesting and well-researched "factual" take on what you should do in the event of a zombie outbreak. There's a novel based on the guide called World War Z that I highly reccommend as well. It takes all the really good traits of a good zombie movie, cuts out the cheeze from any special effects disasters, and adds a couple thin layers of harsh criticism of our complacent, drone-worker way of life by pitting it face-on against what is pretty much a force of nature.

I am almost finished with The Android's Dream so more on that later.

I even have my next book handy-- one of the latest translations of Beowulf with the original Old English on one side. I am tempted to learn/memorize the opening bits just to freak out the teenagers.

In WoW news, Yatsumi is 41 and has her wolf mount, dubbed Interceptor. I miss my add-ons after Patch 2.4 and half of them are still buggy. :|

The weather has been gorgeous and I'm cooking sporadically again since I am craving steak right and left and have no intention of dropping a zillion dollars to get one at a restaurant. My cat is still annoyed with me since I visited my parents over Easter and then I was out of dry food this morning. He has been appeased with more food, some of the gushy fud, and more cat toys. He has already proceeded to go dippy over the fluffy furry ball in the package until he lost it under the fridge. Now he's looking out the window since it's open to get some of the air.

Steak again tonight, yum.

Vacation is technically over tomorrow. I have meetings to go to Thursday and Friday, but on the plus side I get paid on Friday and I don't have to deal with much of anything beyond meetings.

I really want to see Body Worlds 2. I need somebody with free time this weekend stat.
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Mar. 17th, 2008

Monday Monday

BOOK LIST 2008

1.  A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
2.  Diplomatic Immunity by Lois McMaster Bujold
3.  Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold
4.  The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
5.  Night by Elie Wiesel
6.  Animal Farm by George Orwell
7.  A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold

Currenty Reading: The Android's Dream by John Scalzi

Finally finished A Civil Campaign. The bit where Nikki calls Gregor still makes me snicker, and the proposals are both hilarious.

Animal Farm turned out to be even more evil than I thought it would be. It's a pity that full enjoyment of the book really requires some background knowledge of your usual communist uprising, which would make teaching it to contemporary teenagers difficult. They all grew up after the fall of the Berlin Wall and what was pretty much the end of Communisim (after all, Cuba and China don't bother to pretend anymore). The long line of broken promises leading to the conditions in the USSR would be mostly lost on them. Then again, maybe not since the book was adapted into a TV movie not that long ago. Orwell is still incredibly evil, though.

Night.. I'm still not entirely sure what to make of it. This was actually my second read-through recently (the other was in late '07). Maybe it's just some kind of hard-wired need for narrative coherency, or perhaps Wiesel's lingering anger just sort of overshadows the whole thing. I think on the whole I liked Man's Search for Meaning by Frankl.. maybe because I tend to echo his whole thing about humans needing to derive something from their experiences and try to take life as it is rather than stay hung up on how life should be. I'm an existentialist at heart. Though it's been put about that Wiesel's other two huge books (which are more fictionalized) deal more with meaning, it's Night that's the popular one. Go fig.

I'm finally starting in on The Android's Dream after having gotten it a while ago. I read John Scalzi's blog, Whatever, pretty regularly so I figured it was only fair to read at least one of his books, and The Android's Dream sounds like a really fun sort of stand-alone. I figure if I like that well enough I'll get the Old Man's War set and he'll get to score another one for the amazing viral marketing power of his so-ancient blog.

I'm sure if I could actually stand blogging I'd be able to do it too after a while. It's not like there's any real lack of me going on about stuff in online journals.. I just can't stand a lot of what goes down with the whole "blogosphere" thing. I think a lot of it is pretentious crap and a good percentage of boggers need, at times, to pull their heads from their asses (not even Scalzi is immune from this, though he is one of the more genuinely entertaining bloggers so I forgive him, lol). Not that anyone can really complain if they journal online, I suppose. Most of the LJ-and-clone journals spend a whole metric asston of time whining rather than suffering from oxygen deprivation from being on the high horse.

Some of the more talented among us manage to do both, sometimes at once. :3

DC was lovely on Saturday. I think I want to go again and really get a good look through Chinatown. Maybe get a better map of the place. We barely managed to scratch the surface both times we were there, and I want to find a petshop that sells love and dreams, dammit. Rosy also wants to see the Holocaust Museum, and I could probably stand to go again myself. It's been a few years and I'm a different person from the student who visited. I wonder what sort of change my perspective will have now that I'm a "really real" adult.
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Mar. 8th, 2008

I decided I need to have more actual interesting and conversation provoking stuff in my journal, because I am an attention whore like that. Though I hate blogging and the very word blog. :/

So.. since I read a tremendous amount and I could always use suggestions for things to get at Barnes and Noble, I'm starting a list of every book I read this year, starting with the stuff I've read over the course of the last week. (I'm going through a good chunk of the Miles Vorkosigan series again, in case you couldn't tell.) Maybe I'll even get to fifty books by December... though given my book habit it'll probably be sooner than that.

I'm still debating if I want to include graphic novels/manga in the list, since they're technically books but also technically periodicals. On the one hand, they don't exactly make up a huge proportion of my reading list, but on the other I do like squealing about them.

BOOK LIST 2008

1.  A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
2.  Diplomatic Immunity by Lois McMaster Bujold
3.  Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold

Currenty Reading: A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold and The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

Laundry makes me journal spam. Aren't you lucky?
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