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So What Have you Read Lately? And other favorite books!


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9 hours ago, Evilhalfling said:

Just finished reading Glen Cooks "Port of Shadows" from 2018  I got a chapter in and thought "Haven't I read this before?" 

the the characters realize they are losing memories.  oh that explains it.  and why he gets to add more stories in the early part of his epic. 

 

Now im rereading his whole black company series (started 1984)  so good.

Love that series so much. Haven't been able to bring myself to read that one yet tho; pretty iffy on going back into the series like that.

 

Really curious and/or excited to read the sequel/conclusion that's supposedly coming.

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I just finished reading Robin Hobb's Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies. I'd read the first two Farseer books ages ago but for some reason never the rest. Really enjoyed them and have now picked up the Rain Wild Trilogy set in the same world. The books I read follow the life of a royal bastard who is brought up to be his grandfather's (the king) assassin. He has to deal with a wide variety of internal and external threats to the kingdom involving political machinations and high magic. Hit me in all the right  spots with his trials and struggles to balance duty, honour and what is right with trying to keep something of and for yourself as well.

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1.thumb.png.d4a40bcada149f960d68321f0b6c1cff.png

Xuan Juliana Wang's Home Remedies. Nice collection of stories focused on mostly young Chinese people at the confluence of tradition, new money, and westernization.


2.png.3f95954b31aacc1170d6e8d35067563f.png

Elaine Cunningham's Thornhold. This entry in the Harpers series, billed also as part of the Songs & Swords series, delivers another competent but less than surprising adventure that unfortunately keeps Danilo Thann relegated to the sidelines and Arilyn Moonblade offstage in favor of Bronwyn, a young Harper merchant with secret family ties involving the Zhentarim &c. Entertaining if not exactly for what I hoped.


3.thumb.png.17e3ae6fb54b80d3849ad918611591ef.png

Karen E. Bender's Refund. Solid collection of stories following characters who often seem disconnected from their family, themselves, the world around them.


4.png.db612e05dbe2ab51834348a7aaac29f0.png

Roger Zelazny's The Guns of Avalon. Second entry in the Chronicles of Amber, following directly after the first: A loosed Corwin world-hops through familiar setting in search of the tools to unseat his brother from the throne beneath the shadow of greater threats to come. Enjoyable, quick read.


5.thumb.png.10a6ead430de06fa981f1fce999e652b.png

Leah Hampton's broccoliface and Other Stories. Nice collection set in the Appalachians. These stories nicely sketch out their characters, but sometimes feel like they don't quite make it to the end, leaving things feeling a little unfinished. Highlights: A firefighter's wife leaves amid a terrible fire season in "Boomer"; a lonely woman awkwardly reunites with a high-school friend in "Wireless"; a park ranger discovers bodies along the roadsides in "Parkway"; a woman faces medical troubles in "Twitchell"; a woman visits her failing father-in-law in "Mingo"; a brother and sister seek out nighttime wildlife in "Frogs"; and a soldier visits his family before deployment in "Devil."


6.png.c352169971eadc9d96c734daaa55e487.png

Andrzej Sapkowski's Blood of Elves. The first Witcher novel finds Ciri passing from one teacher to another, on toward her destiny, while Geralt travels through a world of monsters, deceit, political intrigue, and looming war. Enjoyable reading, if it very much feels like a prologue to bigger things.


7.thumb.png.225bb01e94d0dfb32c9711e24ae25a34.png

Steven Erikson's Gardens of the Moon. The first-entry in the much-lauded Malazan series. Not a bad book. A pretty good book, in fact. Quite all right as books go, indeed. Certainly a marvel of worldbuilding. The Glen Cook influence is readily apparent, and I enjoyed that; there's a lot of the Black Company in the Bridgeburners, obvs. With active gods and a much larger scope, Erikson's clearly looking to create something epic, even from book one, that sweeps beyond the everyday, everyman sort of approach that Cook cultivated. The Company, the (relatively) ordinary man swept into the affairs of the powerful, was the focus for Cook, I guess I'm saying, whereas Erikson is much more concerned with a cast of greater powers and key players--and the broader picture, a whole world, a whole mystical cosmos.
And that's cool. I dig it. I'm looking forward to reading more of these books--they've shot straight to the top of my shopping list, to be sure, and no doubt will sift right into my tbr pile. At the same time, though, these things I liked about Gardens of the Moon really draw attention to the parts that felt weaker.

The worldbuilding is great, but entering this book can feel a lot like running into a brick wall over and over until it finally gives. Erikson has the habit here of presenting events without context for the reader, or having characters talking about things that clearly aren't mysteries to denizens of the world but nonetheless are near, if not occasionally total, nonsense to someone outside. A simple sentence or two here and there regarding lore and figures such as the Ascendants and gods and the like would've made the book so much easier to access. I found myself several times, anywhere from 150 to 600 pages in, finally saying "oh, why didn't he just say that?"

Similarly, it's downright difficult to care about most of the characters in Gardens through the first 2/3 or so of the book. While a lot of webs do build up toward that big picture, I wasn't getting that reason to love all these little people that I want, even need. Some of this is a matter of the lofty focus, I think, and we often run disappointingly short on personal details, but a lot of it too is how back-loaded the plot feels. To a certain degree we find out about things after they've already happened, or have been set in motion, and things tend to get buried that way (Coll's story, for example, could've been a lot more banging). Once we see the characters in motion, what they want and are doing, its a lot easier to invest in them.

tl;dr The world and its mythos is wildly intriguing, and it carries most of Gardens of the Moon until the story really gets its wheels turning--I wanted to find out what tf they were talking about for a while, and then I wanted to find out what happened next, I guess I mean to say. It saves itself from feeling like a 700-page introduction. I'm told the second book shifts to a lot of different characters and plot threads, so I realize I may be in for a certain amount more frustration as far as some of this goes, but it's got me hooked enough to do it.


8.png.4436a3c28fea46cb57e499e1c8c68f1d.png

Ursula K. Le Guin's The Tombs of Atuan. The further adventures of Sparrowhawk, though now seen filtered through the eyes of a young death priestess set to inherit control over an isolated temple in the distant Kargad Lands. Not as exciting as the previous book but again a pleasure to read.


9.thumb.png.c8e43616e98727c3635734d2e44146ce.png

Andrew Martin's Cool For America: Stories. A very solid collection focused on millennials generally someplace between the broccoliups of early adulthood and the settling out that follows, or at least is supposed to follow. Gonna be honest and admit I hated the artsy-hipster bullbroccoli vibe of the first story so much I almost set it down, but I'm glad I didn't; the stories really won me over thereafter. Having said that, I'm sure everyone else probably loves that story. So, grain of salt &c. Highlights: A brother and sister home for Christmas dive into old bad habits in "With The Christopher Kids"; a man deals with the shambles of his marriage while vacationing with problematic friends in "The Changed Party"; a visiting professor suffers through a broken leg and the temptations of a colleague's wife in the title story; and a man involved with an older woman gets a visit from his divorced father in "Short Swoop, Long Line."


0.thumb.png.c37e709120fed0f6d94c71d0c943fed5.png

Fritz Leiber's Swords Against Death. The second entry in the collected adventures of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. This collection brings together a greater number of smaller tales than the previous, following the heroes out from Lankhmar and around the world home again; I actually found it a bit harder to get through. Nice stories that make for great adventure hooks, but too scattered to be as compelling. Fun, though, all the same.

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22 hours ago, Marvin said:


Steven Erikson's Gardens of the Moon.
 

 

    I'm told the second book shifts to a lot of different characters and plot threads, so I realize I may be in for a certain amount more frustration as far as some of this goes, but it's got me hooked enough to do it.
 

 

   Definitely worth reading the whole series, plus the companion books by Ian C. Esselmont, the world's co-creator. (Much like Dragonlance started as Hickman and Weiss' D&D campaign, Erikson's world was the setting of his and Esselmont's GURPS game.)

 

  A rule of thumb for the Malazan books - Everyone is a main character... Until the story shifts somewhere else. You'll be making liberal use of the Dramatis Personae in the front of each book, and there's a Malazan fan wiki if you need a little more context about certain things.

(Plus, if you thought GRR Martin was fond of murdering beloved characters, Erikson practices random literary genocide on a nearly whimsical level.)

The story of the Bridgeburners is essentially the "intro" to the world before the tale branches out to the rest of the continent and other stories begin to unfold on other continents. One of the criticisms of Erikson's work is that sometimes you have to wait a book or two for the focus to shift back to the time, place and characters he just got you hooked into. Erikson likes to bounce around some. (Hell, Erikson's worldbuilding doesn't stop at just one "world", either - the scope of the entire series covered tens of thousands of years of the world's history as well as a couple other planes of existence.)

But there are just sooo damn many interesting characters doing interesting things in multiple places that it's bearable. Especially since after a couple books you start to see how the individual plotlines affect the larger world and things build on each other in amazing ways. (Personally, I found his world's concepts of magic and godhood fascinatingly original.)

 

 I doubt there are very many fantasy gamers who've read Erikson's work without saying, "Yeah... I'd play in that."

 

 

Edited by Mad Jack
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He can certainly worldbuild, no two ways about that.

 

I joined this book group on FB in which everyone's obsessed with Malazan, so that spurred me on to read this first one, see what the hype was about. And I get it. It's good. I'll be reading on. Sooner or later.

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12 hours ago, Marvin said:

 

  I'll be reading on. Sooner or later.

 

 Don't wait too long - those are loooong books, and you're a middle-aged man, lol.  I've always joked that if I ever got ten years in prison I could do the time no problem - I'd just bring Erikson's books with me, and I wouldn't even notice the first six years go by... ::D:

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I found a box of books I read back in the 90's.  Scifi, horror, etc.  I have been reading them one more time then putting them in the neighborhood library box for others to take and read.  Hopefully some one will enjoy them as much as I did.  

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I've been struggling to find good books for a few years now. Partly because I do a ton of non-fic reading, partly because I have many, many other things on my plate. But also partly due to growing tired of a) tropey stuff I've read a hundred times and b) people airing out their political/religious/cultural hangups in the guise of fiction. I don't mind much if that stuff seeps in, it's natural. But too many times it's a thinly-veiled manifesto, it seems.

 

So I was pleasantly surprised by the Book of Koli trilogy by Carey. Post-apoc England with possibly the best protagonist I've read, both as an agent of the reader discovering the world and as a vibrant persona himself (too often an author goes one way or t'other). It's written in 1st person, which I normally dislike, and it's written more or less in a low English accent, which could get annoying pretty quickly...but somehow it all works.

I just finished the lukewarm Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear, which is an oddly similar kind of novel. An author's first scifi work that focuses on characterization. I feel Carey was so much more successful at almost every level, which is a shame because Bear painted a really great backdrop, teased out some amazing mysteries, and had the framework for a great character struggle...but ultimately failed on every level (in my opinion). 

 

I had a minor revelation at the grocery store last night. I would look forward to getting home and reading Bear, because I like to be home, curled up with a book. The ritual, if you will. Last night I was dying to get home so I could see what happened next in Carey's book: I was entranced by the characters, story, plot, I have no idea where it's going and Carey keeps delivering new twists on the narrative.

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I recently finished the Paper Magician series by Charlie N. Holmberg. I loved the first three, the last one was slow and the ending left something to be desired. I found them accidentally when I had a free trial of Kindle Unlimited. She writes a lot so I'm about to start another duo of books she put out soon. Husband is talking about getting the Wheel of Time books for me to read since he really wants to see the series coming out.

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On 7/21/2021 at 3:42 AM, Marvin said:

1.thumb.png.d4a40bcada149f960d68321f0b6c1cff.png

Xuan Juliana Wang's Home Remedies. Nice collection of stories focused on mostly young Chinese people at the confluence of tradition, new money, and westernization.


2.png.3f95954b31aacc1170d6e8d35067563f.png

Elaine Cunningham's Thornhold. This entry in the Harpers series, billed also as part of the Songs & Swords series, delivers another competent but less than surprising adventure that unfortunately keeps Danilo Thann relegated to the sidelines and Arilyn Moonblade offstage in favor of Bronwyn, a young Harper merchant with secret family ties involving the Zhentarim &c. Entertaining if not exactly for what I hoped.


3.thumb.png.17e3ae6fb54b80d3849ad918611591ef.png

Karen E. Bender's Refund. Solid collection of stories following characters who often seem disconnected from their family, themselves, the world around them.


4.png.db612e05dbe2ab51834348a7aaac29f0.png

Roger Zelazny's The Guns of Avalon. Second entry in the Chronicles of Amber, following directly after the first: A loosed Corwin world-hops through familiar setting in search of the tools to unseat his brother from the throne beneath the shadow of greater threats to come. Enjoyable, quick read.


5.thumb.png.10a6ead430de06fa981f1fce999e652b.png

Leah Hampton's broccoliface and Other Stories. Nice collection set in the Appalachians. These stories nicely sketch out their characters, but sometimes feel like they don't quite make it to the end, leaving things feeling a little unfinished. Highlights: A firefighter's wife leaves amid a terrible fire season in "Boomer"; a lonely woman awkwardly reunites with a high-school friend in "Wireless"; a park ranger discovers bodies along the roadsides in "Parkway"; a woman faces medical troubles in "Twitchell"; a woman visits her failing father-in-law in "Mingo"; a brother and sister seek out nighttime wildlife in "Frogs"; and a soldier visits his family before deployment in "Devil."


6.png.c352169971eadc9d96c734daaa55e487.png

Andrzej Sapkowski's Blood of Elves. The first Witcher novel finds Ciri passing from one teacher to another, on toward her destiny, while Geralt travels through a world of monsters, deceit, political intrigue, and looming war. Enjoyable reading, if it very much feels like a prologue to bigger things.


7.thumb.png.225bb01e94d0dfb32c9711e24ae25a34.png

Steven Erikson's Gardens of the Moon. The first-entry in the much-lauded Malazan series. Not a bad book. A pretty good book, in fact. Quite all right as books go, indeed. Certainly a marvel of worldbuilding. The Glen Cook influence is readily apparent, and I enjoyed that; there's a lot of the Black Company in the Bridgeburners, obvs. With active gods and a much larger scope, Erikson's clearly looking to create something epic, even from book one, that sweeps beyond the everyday, everyman sort of approach that Cook cultivated. The Company, the (relatively) ordinary man swept into the affairs of the powerful, was the focus for Cook, I guess I'm saying, whereas Erikson is much more concerned with a cast of greater powers and key players--and the broader picture, a whole world, a whole mystical cosmos.
And that's cool. I dig it. I'm looking forward to reading more of these books--they've shot straight to the top of my shopping list, to be sure, and no doubt will sift right into my tbr pile. At the same time, though, these things I liked about Gardens of the Moon really draw attention to the parts that felt weaker.

The worldbuilding is great, but entering this book can feel a lot like running into a brick wall over and over until it finally gives. Erikson has the habit here of presenting events without context for the reader, or having characters talking about things that clearly aren't mysteries to denizens of the world but nonetheless are near, if not occasionally total, nonsense to someone outside. A simple sentence or two here and there regarding lore and figures such as the Ascendants and gods and the like would've made the book so much easier to access. I found myself several times, anywhere from 150 to 600 pages in, finally saying "oh, why didn't he just say that?"

Similarly, it's downright difficult to care about most of the characters in Gardens through the first 2/3 or so of the book. While a lot of webs do build up toward that big picture, I wasn't getting that reason to love all these little people that I want, even need. Some of this is a matter of the lofty focus, I think, and we often run disappointingly short on personal details, but a lot of it too is how back-loaded the plot feels. To a certain degree we find out about things after they've already happened, or have been set in motion, and things tend to get buried that way (Coll's story, for example, could've been a lot more banging). Once we see the characters in motion, what they want and are doing, its a lot easier to invest in them.

tl;dr The world and its mythos is wildly intriguing, and it carries most of Gardens of the Moon until the story really gets its wheels turning--I wanted to find out what tf they were talking about for a while, and then I wanted to find out what happened next, I guess I mean to say. It saves itself from feeling like a 700-page introduction. I'm told the second book shifts to a lot of different characters and plot threads, so I realize I may be in for a certain amount more frustration as far as some of this goes, but it's got me hooked enough to do it.


8.png.4436a3c28fea46cb57e499e1c8c68f1d.png

Ursula K. Le Guin's The Tombs of Atuan. The further adventures of Sparrowhawk, though now seen filtered through the eyes of a young death priestess set to inherit control over an isolated temple in the distant Kargad Lands. Not as exciting as the previous book but again a pleasure to read.


9.thumb.png.c8e43616e98727c3635734d2e44146ce.png

Andrew Martin's Cool For America: Stories. A very solid collection focused on millennials generally someplace between the broccoliups of early adulthood and the settling out that follows, or at least is supposed to follow. Gonna be honest and admit I hated the artsy-hipster bullbroccoli vibe of the first story so much I almost set it down, but I'm glad I didn't; the stories really won me over thereafter. Having said that, I'm sure everyone else probably loves that story. So, grain of salt &c. Highlights: A brother and sister home for Christmas dive into old bad habits in "With The Christopher Kids"; a man deals with the shambles of his marriage while vacationing with problematic friends in "The Changed Party"; a visiting professor suffers through a broken leg and the temptations of a colleague's wife in the title story; and a man involved with an older woman gets a visit from his divorced father in "Short Swoop, Long Line."


0.thumb.png.c37e709120fed0f6d94c71d0c943fed5.png

Fritz Leiber's Swords Against Death. The second entry in the collected adventures of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. This collection brings together a greater number of smaller tales than the previous, following the heroes out from Lankhmar and around the world home again; I actually found it a bit harder to get through. Nice stories that make for great adventure hooks, but too scattered to be as compelling. Fun, though, all the same.

Great books, thanks for a short description of each. Added a few to my must-read list. Very often after reading books, I write various essays about them, which is my favorite thing to do during college. Sometimes, when I have trouble writing, I can turn to a company https://edusson.com/write-my-college-essay that can write my college essay for me. This helps me understand where I went wrong or why I couldn't write the essay on my own.

Edited by Yakov White
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After grumbling about how I missed this, I began reading 

image.png.ea40dc6f646112f9c9f6810705456305.png

 

nice little military meets magic to save the world with an interesting take on dragons.  So far my experience has been overwhelmingly positive.  Looking forward to the rest of the series.

 

also reading  Penric and the Shaman by Louis McMaster Bujould which is always a fun romp.  who doesnt want 10 new personallities in their head (12 if you count the lioness and the mare) and the ability to use magic.  That wont frighten anyone, will it?

 

image.png.0d7cec29ea47fb7d05cdfcec7f3966aa.png

 

and just to round out my reading, i am trying to catch up on the latest books in the Liaden universe.  currently on Accepting the Lance by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.  The series is a long running space opera spanning multiple universes and following the family destined to save or destroy all of them.  It can get a little thick as the authors love to add new hooks and strings (Agent of change is the [sort of] first book and a pretty good place to start.) but they are coming to a climax (again) as the threads from about 8 different plotlines are coming home to roost. 

 

image.png.f91171265628d47445b2c5d4b5b25600.png

 

and unless you include Darkness over Stillwater and a few other RPG books, thats been my reading for the last couple of days...

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