What's the last book you read?

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Jack
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What's the last book you read?

Post by Jack » April 4th, 2017, 11:52 pm

Do I really have to explain this one?
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Lord Tesla
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Re: What's the last book you read?

Post by Lord Tesla » April 5th, 2017, 2:54 am

Jack wrote:
April 4th, 2017, 11:52 pm
Do I really have to explain this one?
Nope.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. Rather good, I thought.
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Jack
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Re: What's the last book you read?

Post by Jack » April 5th, 2017, 12:58 pm

Just read The Hobbit for the first time in years.

I hate to admit this (mostly because I'll catch shit for it), but I think I like the Hobbit films better than the book. The third act of the book is a mess. The antagonist is felled by a deus ex machina character that is literally introduced in the same chapter as the event. At least in the films, they gave Bard a storyline, a character arc. And they didn't introduce him two fucking seconds before he kills Smaug. And then Bilbo, the main character of the book, is basically incidental to the story for the last couple of chapters. He's literally knocked unconscious and told the events that occurred. We, the reader don't even get to read the events from another character's point of view. Also, two of the main characters are killed off-screen (so to speak) and given only an off-hand reference that amounts to basically "Oh, yeah. Fili and Kili died, too." The Battle of the Five Armies has armies seemingly appearing out of nowhere and the whole final act of the book feels incredibly rushed. It's like Tolkien was writing an essay for school and was told "Time's up, just hand in what you have."

Another issue I had with this book is that it's just a massive sausage party. There is not one female character in the book. Not one. I know people complain about the inclusion of Tauriel to the films, but at least she broke up the overwhelmingly male cast.

This isn't to say that the book is all bad. In fact, the first 2/3rds of the book is great. It starts to go downhill (for me, anyway) about the time when the company takes their barrel ride out of the Elven kingdom and it never really recovers. Even the relative bright spot of Bilbo's encounter with Smaug can't bring it out of its downward slide.

Overall, I found the book to be a far less satisfying experience than the films. In retrospect, the elements that really endeared me to Tolkien's work are just not present (or, at least, developed) here -- the history, the culture, the true depth of the lore of Middle Earth. It was a disappointing read, and I'm hoping that The Lord of the Rings turns out to be as good as I remember. That's next up for me.
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Re: What's the last book you read?

Post by Marbleman » April 5th, 2017, 9:17 pm

The Axe: The Master of Hestviken Vol. 1 by Sigrid Undset

A book about the alien, austere, painful world of 13th Century Norway. There is violent vendetta and romance, but the book actually keeps grounded within the reality of historical Norway rather than the vague pseudo-historical settings of genre pulp. Deals a lot with religious themes clashing with ancient pagan honor culture. Not my usual fare, but the engrossing writing of Undset - an underappreciated 20th century author - keeps you hooked. I'll probably continue on in the series and eventually tackle her magnum opus, Kristin Lavransdatter, which I've been putting off for years.

Oh, I also stopped reading Alan Moore's Jerusalem recently. By "stopped reading" I mean I couldn't finish it after Book 2, hundreds of pages into it. Though generally a fan of Moore's work, I'm extremely disappointed about this pet-squishing behemoth overall, but I can't be accused of not wanting it to succeed (perhaps accused of succumbing to the sunk cost fallacy and masochism, though). The meandering, aimless plots (I use the word plots in the loosest possible sense) do not justify the sheer physical space it takes up. For the love of all better books, learn from my fruitless persistence and stay away.

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Re: What's the last book you read?

Post by Jjm3233 » April 13th, 2017, 9:41 am

Aftermath:Empire's End

Story was interesting, Wendig's prose frustrates me (A less artful Cormac McCarthy). B

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Lord Tesla
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Re: What's the last book you read?

Post by Lord Tesla » April 13th, 2017, 1:21 pm

At the End of an Age[/i, by John Lukacs. Interesting in places, a couple or three ideas worth encountering, but so parenthetical even I, no stranger to meandering prose, found it off-putting.
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Jack
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Re: What's the last book you read?

Post by Jack » April 18th, 2017, 10:12 am

Reading The Fellowship of the Ring. Really coming to realize that I prefer the films to the books.
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Re: What's the last book you read?

Post by Lord Tesla » April 20th, 2017, 3:27 pm

Jack wrote:
April 18th, 2017, 10:12 am
Reading The Fellowship of the Ring. Really coming to realize that I prefer the films to the books.
1) To each his own, but...
2) There's only one book: it's a single novel, published in three volumes, largely due to economics, paper shortages, and publisher nerves in Britain in the 1950s;
3) I'll grant that Fellowship of the Ring does challenge reader stick-to-itiveness, up to a point. It picks up considerably once your reach the Chapter "At the Sign of the Prancing Pony"';
4) Those films...there are many, many things wrong with those films, not just in their vast and unjustifiable deviations from the text (acknowledging of course that some deviations are inevitable in adapting prose to film, which I do not include in my count of the vast, unjustifiable variety), but also in the technical execution of the films.
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Re: What's the last book you read?

Post by Lord Tesla » April 20th, 2017, 3:29 pm

Old School: Life in the Sane Lane, by Bill O'Reilly and Bruce Feirstein.
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borgmatrix
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Re: What's the last book you read?

Post by borgmatrix » April 21st, 2017, 3:07 pm

Jack wrote:
April 5th, 2017, 12:58 pm
I hate to admit this (mostly because I'll catch shit for it), but I think I like the Hobbit films better than the book.
No, you're absolutely right. It was the cool thing to just dump on the movies, but most either hadn't read the book, or didn't remember it. Even Del Toro first had the reaction that he wouldn't need more than one movie to adapt the book, and then once he actually started working on the script, he seemed a bit sheepish in an interview, and admitted he hadn't remember how "dense" the book was as far as plot points and that he was going to need more than one movie.
The antagonist is felled by a deus ex machina character that is literally introduced in the same chapter as the event. At least in the films, they gave Bard a storyline, a character arc. And they didn't introduce him two fucking seconds before he kills Smaug.
When I re-read the novel, I think after the first Hobbit movie was out, yeah, I actually thought I had missed something and started flipping back through previous chapters to see where they'd introduced Bard. Lo and behold, like you said, he was just dropped in in that chapter.
The Battle of the Five Armies has armies seemingly appearing out of nowhere and the whole final act of the book feels incredibly rushed.
In general, I thought having 3 movies afforded them a very nice opportunity (that they used) to set up for later events, such as by introducing Bard earlier or developing the threads that would lead to the battle in the previous movies.
Another issue I had with this book is that it's just a massive sausage party. There is not one female character in the book. Not one. I know people complain about the inclusion of Tauriel to the films, but at least she broke up the overwhelmingly male cast.
Yeah, agreed. Plus, even if no female character was specifically named in the book, we know there would have been women among those elves, so it never felt wrong or out of place to me.
Overall, I found the book to be a far less satisfying experience than the films. In retrospect, the elements that really endeared me to Tolkien's work are just not present (or, at least, developed) here -- the history, the culture, the true depth of the lore of Middle Earth. It was a disappointing read, and I'm hoping that The Lord of the Rings turns out to be as good as I remember. That's next up for me.
I think LOTR will. The Hobbit almost seemed like a practice run for LOTR. I think after he wrote that, he had a sense of what he wanted to do, and went and did it with LOTR, taking the basic overall script for Hobbit and blowing it up to a more epic and adult scale.

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Lord Tesla
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Re: What's the last book you read?

Post by Lord Tesla » May 4th, 2017, 3:34 am

James Madison by Richard Brookhiser.
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Master Magnus
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Re: What's the last book you read?

Post by Master Magnus » June 15th, 2017, 1:14 pm

Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray. I enjoyed this novel tremendously and it's easily the best novel of the new canon I've read. The characterization of Leia was spot-on and I really enjoyed how the novel fleshed out the political landscape and the origins of the First Order. It also made The Force Awakens make a bit more sense.

I rate it A+

After having struggled with the horrendous Star Wars: Aftermath with Chuck Wendig's atrociously bad writing style (present tense can be written well), his constant references to Earth mythos, idioms, metaphors, objects and animals (hamsters, snow globes, Phoenix flying again and trilobites) and stupid jokes (space-diapers), Bloodline was certainly a breath of fresh air. I forced myself to finish it.

I'll try to bear myself to start over with Star Wars: Aftermath: Life Debt...

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Re: What's the last book you read?

Post by Rollafett » July 1st, 2017, 6:43 pm

Master Magnus wrote:
June 15th, 2017, 1:14 pm
Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray. I enjoyed this novel tremendously and it's easily the best novel of the new canon I've read. The characterization of Leia was spot-on and I really enjoyed how the novel fleshed out the political landscape and the origins of the First Order. It also made The Force Awakens make a bit more sense.

I rate it A+
I haven't read a ton of SW books over the years, and even most that I had read were years ago. I believe the last one I did read was "Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader" by James Luceno. That story took place very shortly after the events of ROTS. I dug it, but that was it for me until "Bloodline". Some of the political dealings in the first half bored me a bit, but once the big reveal happens, the book really took off.

Anyway, last book for me was "X" by Sue Grafton.

Continuing the alphabet series with private eye, Kinsey Milhone. I really dig all of these books, but this was a truly nice return to form. Lately, Grafton had been shifting the story-telling perspective devise around to varying characters....mostly Milhone, but not enough. In this latest book, it's Milhone telling the story pretty much from start to finish. and that's exactly how I like my P.I. novels...first person narrative.
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Re: What's the last book you read?

Post by Jjm3233 » July 19th, 2017, 7:49 pm

Strange Dogs: An Expanse Novella

Interesting...I am curious to see how the ideas here play out in the main story line.

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Re: What's the last book you read?

Post by Master Magnus » August 14th, 2017, 1:46 pm

RMS Olympic: Titanic's Sister (second edition) by Mark Chirnside. I've been an Olympic-class buff for nearly 30 years and the second edition of Chirnside's book about the eldest of the three ships of the Olympic-class (Olympic, Titanic and Britannic) was a good primer. The career of RMS Olympic spanned 24 years from her maiden voyage with Captain E W Smith at the helm (who would perish as the commander on the Titanic in April 1912) in June 1911 to her being taken out of service for scrapping in April 1935.

After the Titanic disaster, all focus was turned to that ship, but before the tragedy, the Olympic was the ship that had been in the limelight of the era, with Captain Smith in command until March 1912 when he transferred to the Titanic. Titanic, as being the second, almost identical ship, of the class, was largely ignored. After the disaster, Olympic was refitted to be able to survive similar damages as the Titanic suffered and some of the features that Titanic had been outfitted with but that Olympic lacked (based on the experiences of the Olympic) was fitted to her (such as the Café Parisien which had proved very popular on Titanic's short maiden voyage and the so-called Millionaire Suites) struggled but soon became a very popular ship and she served as a troopship in World War I (during which time she became known as Old Reliable) and managed to sink a German submarine by ramming it (the only confirmed sinking of a functioning submarine by a merchant ship during the war).

Olympic finally became a victim of the downturn of the Atlantic traffic. Her 24 year old hull had apparently received an A4-rating by Lloyds (the highest rating, meaning her hull was in excellent condition), but that didn't save her from the scrappers.

A heap of nice pictures spanning her career, most of which I've never seen before, adorns the book. B+

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Lord Tesla
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Re: What's the last book you read?

Post by Lord Tesla » August 22nd, 2017, 9:13 pm

I reread The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester.
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borgmatrix
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Re: What's the last book you read?

Post by borgmatrix » August 28th, 2017, 9:29 am

The Godfather by Mario Puzo. Book club I'm in met yesterday to discuss the book and watch the movie. Fun day!

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Lord Tesla
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Re: What's the last book you read?

Post by Lord Tesla » September 6th, 2017, 4:22 pm

I reread [iAshenden][/i] by W. Somerset Maugham. Hundred-year-old spy stories. I gather there were more, but Maugham was convinced not to publish/destroy them, the implication being that his intelligence service during World War I was not sufficiently fictionalized in them. Probably be pretty interesting reading.
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Re: What's the last book you read?

Post by Jjm3233 » September 11th, 2017, 7:36 pm

Longmire: The Western Star - B-

Enjoyable bit of neo western who dun it. Has two timelines, a couple of twists, and some good action. For me what it really lacked was principal character interaction. Oh, and I am not a fan of Walt turning into Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Offensive Line edition).

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