Discuss and rate the last thing you read

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Palindromemordnilap:

I mean, its getting a movie sometime soon (first trailer is on the interwebz somewhere) so maybe it'll get another boost in popularity

Yeah, I saw it. Can't say I'm overly enthused. As its own thing, it doesn't look that interesting. As an adaptation...well, this is subjective, but when a film adaptation is released nearly 20 years after the release of the book it was based on, you tend to have a pretty strong image of said book's characters and settings, and it doesn't gel. I mean, I like the look of Haven, but the sight of Artemis wielding a gun...bleh.

Also not counting on a revival in interest. I mean, I wouldn't mind it happening, but the book doesn't have that much clout these days, and the movie itself doesn't look too enticing.

Hawki:
[quote="Callate" post="18.1034689.24280787"]
As for Butler though...um, not really sure about him carrying the series. Butler is defined by his relationship to Artemis and Juliet - devoted to both, follows Artemis without question. Course this is just in the context of the first four books only, but I can't imagine Butler as a protagonist of anything without significant changes to his personality.

Also, side-note, but as someone who works in libraries, it's kinda noticable how Artemis Fowl has fallen on the wayside. Stuff like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson are as popular as ever for instance, but if we're looking at the realm of JF/YA, Artemis Fowl doesn't seem to have the pull it once did. Make of that what you will.

Butler's actions are mostly defined by his relationship to Artemis and Juliet, but he has enough implied backstory to make me wonder what he would get up to if he wasn't bodyguarding the former or hovering over the latter. He's abandoned his real name, he's apparently seen action in numerous militarily-sticky world hotspots, he has connections in both the underworld and the bodyguard community, he's completed a course of intense combat training that apparently eliminates or kills a significant number of people who enter it. He's outlined by shadows that could be fascinating to fill in. He's kind of Alfred if Alfred was actually Batman. I don't necessarily think he should carry the series (as in, another Artemis Fowl series), but I could imagine an interesting series with him front and center.

...But that's entirely a mental exercise. I don't actually envision in happening, and as I said, I think to reach it's full potential it would have to squirm out from under the constraints of Disney-published youth fiction.

Callate:
I don't necessarily think he should carry the series (as in, another Artemis Fowl series),

Doesn't the series end with the world reduced to a technological dark age?

I mean, I'm guessing that's the kind of world Butler would thrive in.

Been awhile since I was deep in my books. I thought it was time to rectify that lapse.

Since the movies have been playing on cable quite a bit, I went back and re-read the Lord of the Rings books. After having read them again, I can definitely say two things. 1) The movies did an excellent job of keeping to the spirit of the books even when they made fairly large changes to some of the scenes and characters. And 2) that most of the changes were actually needed. While I love the books, Tolkien has some limitations as a writer and the books have a great deal that works relatively well in the written medium but that would fall flat in a visual one. Still love the stories, though.

Skookum: An Oregon Pioneer Family's History and Lore by Shannon Applegate [1988] A lovely find in my local used-book store, this work is a family tribute by the author for her own family's history from their arrival in Oregon back in 1843 to the present day. Apparently, the word "skookum" is a Yoncolla Amerindian word meaning something akin to "trusted friend" and was applied to the family when they moved into the area and befriended to locals. It was a friendship that lasted generations. While Applegate tends toward dramatizing events in order to draw in the reader, I didn't mind the writing style. If nothing else, it highlighted the passion she held for her own family's history and I can respect that.

The Politics of Piracy: Crime and Civil Disobedience in Colonial America by Douglass R. Burgess, Jr. [2014] The British Empire grew out of a number of factors, one of which was the extensive use of piracy as a weapon of war and defense. However, what happens when the Empire needs to put that particular weapon away but the overseas possessions/colonies still want to use it? Burgess dives into that dilemma and reveals a particularly interesting work on the realpolitik of the late 1600s and early 1700s, the limitations of governance made by distance and the vagaries of the circumstances as the Empire and colonies evolved in their own particular trajectories. I highly recommend this one for anyone who has any interest in pirates or the time period. Fascinating stuff.

Read Eisenhorn Magus. Technically the 8th book in Dan Abnett's Inquisition series of novels, though chronologically the 7th. It has a bunch of related short stories that I found a lot more interesting than the main story, partly because I always did like the less war bound 40k shorts and partly because I knew where it was going, having read the 7th book. I can sort of remember what it was about now that I try, but can't quite remember how it links back into the events of the 7th book. Really my favourite part of the book was the ongoing trials of an impoverished magos biologis and his relationship with an arbites inspector. Nice little human interest story behind all the usual 40k goings on.

Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City (4/5)

This is an interesting bit of non-fiction. Basically it recounts a year of the author's life in Israel, from 2008-​'09. It all progresses chronologically, but it's done in small tidbits. Also, it's basically a collection of comic strips that tell the story.

There isn't too much to say in terms of content in of itself, but the work itself is quite interesting. The art style has a detached, almost dreamy look to it, how everything is in dull colours. Not black and white per se, but similar (if you look at the cover on wikipedia or whatever, you can get what I mean). It also provides a look into what everyday life in Israel, including the West Bank, is like. It's...kinda insane, really. I mean, the account has a mostly laid back feel to it, as the author is content with letting the reader make their own judgement (though we can get some insight into his own thoughts on the manner based on his dialogue, thought bubbles, or visual expressions), but...yeah. If it isn't apartheid that's going on, it's certainly segregation (granted, one kinda complements the other). The artwork depicts walls and checkpoints area, adding to the whole surreal feeling. What's also more surreal is that despite the tensions simmering in the area, living in the East Bank, the country seems pretty peaceful. Of course, the novel touches on the Gaza War, but that's a small diversion in the context of the graphic novel's timeframe.

Something else the graphic novel touches on is the issue of religion - not just tensions between Jews, Muslims, and Christians, but tensions within the faiths themselves. The Temple Mount is the main example of this, but not the only one. Being irreligious myself, the whole thing adds to the surreal feeling the graphic novel provides, but for billions of people, these are important subjects with real-world consequences in their lives.

You might have noticed at this point that I haven't really touched on the novel's 'story' or anything like that. Thing is, I can't really. It's a succession of events in the year of the author's life and that of his family, and life being life, it doesn't follow the beats of traditional narrative. It might be easier to think of it as a series of vingettes. So, I can't really discuss the novel's overall time period, just the feeling. And in regards to that feeling, it's a combination of humour, frustration, and sadness as to just how bizzare the situation in Israel is.

Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation

The first is good and the second is just Hari Seldon complaining about getting old while Asimov himself was going full AIDS and died before the novel even got released.

Firefly: Big Damn Hero (3/5)

I didn't have much of a desire to read this book. The main reason I got it was for the canon content. As in, because the Firefly wiki is pretty useless for anything beyond ship or planet stats (as in, character bios are lacking or nonexistent), I have to get the material myself when writing multi-chaptered Firefly stories. Which I am right now - so in that sense the book was at least useful. And arguably problematic in the canon sense, in terms of such writings, and in the scope of the IP as a whole. Still, I'm not really going to dwell on that, as it's pretty academic to how the book actually functions. And as to that...well, it's fine. It's average. It's okay. There isn't really too much to say about anything. I mean, on one hand, the author does a good job of capturing the characters of 'Serenity' (and as this takes place towards the end of season 1, it means we get all of them). On the other, a lot of the book feels like padding. There's the primary plot, with Mal being apprehended by a vigilante group of former Browncoats who hold him responsible for various treacherous activities, in which his history on Shadow and his old friends are revealed. As far as plots go, this is pretty decent, though apparently retcons (or gaffs) how Shadow was meant to have been bombed to oblivion in the Unification War (here, it's pinpoint strikes, and apparently still habitable). Then there's everything else. Technically it's all part of the one plot, in that the activities of the other crew members all revolve around finding Mal, but a lot of it comes off as filler. Like, there's the A plot, and the B plot, and like many a TV episode, I found myself getting engrossed in the A plot, while wishing the B plot would just hurry up and move on so I could get back to said A plot.

So, yeah. Book's fine. But I read it for its canon content, and if it wasn't for that need, I can't say I would have necessarily got it, and that not getting it would have deprived me of something great.

Anyway, back to Stormlight then.

Last night in bed I read another 30k short story. Pretty good one, about the crew of a World Eater's flagship slowly realizing the ship is going Chaosy and the Captain, Lotara Sarrin, starting to suspect the ship is beginning to fall in love with her.

Silentpony:
and the Captain, Lotara Sarrin, starting to suspect the ship is beginning to fall in love with her.

...da fuq?

Hawki:

Silentpony:
and the Captain, Lotara Sarrin, starting to suspect the ship is beginning to fall in love with her.

...da fuq?

Yeah they uh ship, the Conqueror, was giving her gifts. Food, water, medicine, visions of danger, brought the torn apart body of a friend not back to life but back to whole dead body and put it in her bed while she slept and basically cuddled them. In her own words the ship wanted to please her, to give her things and keep her happy. It was literally leaving her gifts.

Silentpony:

Hawki:

Silentpony:
and the Captain, Lotara Sarrin, starting to suspect the ship is beginning to fall in love with her.

...da fuq?

Yeah they uh ship, the Conqueror, was giving her gifts. Food, water, medicine, visions of danger, brought the torn apart body of a friend not back to life but back to whole dead body and put it in her bed while she slept and basically cuddled them. In her own words the ship wanted to please her, to give her things and keep her happy. It was literally leaving her gifts.

What... I thought Lotara was Dark Elf? Or whatever their called. How was she involved with the World Eaters?

trunkage:

Silentpony:

Hawki:

...da fuq?

Yeah they uh ship, the Conqueror, was giving her gifts. Food, water, medicine, visions of danger, brought the torn apart body of a friend not back to life but back to whole dead body and put it in her bed while she slept and basically cuddled them. In her own words the ship wanted to please her, to give her things and keep her happy. It was literally leaving her gifts.

What... I thought Lotara was Dark Elf? Or whatever their called. How was she involved with the World Eaters?

Maybe? Like I don't know Warhammer Fantasy lore, but at least in Warhammer 30k she's a human and shipmaster of a World Eater's ship

Enduring Love by Ian McEwan (1997)

A freak ballooning accident brings two strangers together and transforms one of them - the narrator, a writer cozily nestled in bourgeois life - into the object of obsession for the other, a religious loner who starts stalking him.

Like a lot of other McEwan novels, the synopsis reads like a cheap thriller. The story is elevated by the author's anthropological approach to depicting thought process and social interaction. Keen, surgical insight into the human condition - via the observation of quotidianity - feels effortless for McEwan. He's also a masterful craftsman of suspense, starting every chapter in media res, backpedalling to choice portions of the story to build up intrigue and then ending on an ominous yet casual reveal.

I usually sign off every McEwan review by calling the book "haunting". The stories play out like nightmares in which the balance of ordinary life is threatened by a single tragic instance, as random as it feels inevitable. Enduring Love has that unsettling effect: it's grounded and familiar enough that it disarms you, then introduces piecemeal chaos that ripples across time.

Wild at Heart by Barry Gifford (1990)

Some years ago I read Perdita Durango for want of checking out the literary universe behind David Lynch's campy, grotesque serenade "Wild at Heart". Book #3 didn't leave much of an impression. Book #1, finally tracked down to a bookstore in the Latin Quarter (a first edition, too!), is a much more fun ride, though I still can't shake off the feeling the movie improves on it on just about every count.

The story follows star-crossed lovers Sailor and Lula as they elope across the Deep South on a '75 Bonneville convertible, due West and away from Lula's fiercely disapproving mother. Marietta sics gumshoe Johnnie Farragut on them, and then on the book is structured like a thriller, cutting back and forth between the runaway lovebirds and their shadowing detective while building up to the inevitable intersection.

The novella's a breezy read, made up of a few dozen chapters 2 to 4 pages long and reading like short stories, each casually presented and skirting around the issue. Most of it is just pillow talk between Sailor and Lula. A conversation here, an anecdote there. Whether they're lazying in bed, driving their car or hitting a bar their banter twists and turns hazily into all kinds of dark, funny or amusing recesses. The book combines dirty realism - mixture of intimacy and spontaneity, rich use of eye dialect - with delightful B-grade pulp, introducing all kinds of freak scenarios and characters. You can taste them from their names alone: Bob Ray Lemon. Bobby Peru. Perdita Durango.

I missed some more characterization and description in the story. I also think the movie benefits from injecting more action - in the plot-driven sense of the word - and stressing the forces opposed to the protagonist's impassioned run. Examples: the novel's Marietta doesn't try to have Sailor killed (the manslaughter charges appear unrelated to the story) and never actually hires Santos (who doesn't actually make an appearence) or Bobby. She doesn't even have a good reason to hate Sailor. And poor Johnnie, a PI so dilatory he stops to pen the odd short story now and then, is a darling but not much of a foe.

The iconography of the movie is so strong I found myself relying a little too much on it in order to fill in the novel's parts that didn't agree with me. It's a great adaptation, up to improving the ending. The novel's feels abrupt - two letters and a coda close up a road trip to nowhere in particular - and not very satisfying. The movie's feels more apt and true to the characters. Then again the book has something like 5 or 6 sequels. So who knows.

Johnny Novgorod:
Wild at Heart by Barry Gifford (1990)

Some years ago I read Perdita Durango for want of checking out the literary universe behind David Lynch's campy, grotesque serenade "Wild at Heart". Book #3 didn't leave much of an impression. Book #1, finally tracked down to a bookstore in the Latin Quarter (a first edition, too!), is a much more fun ride, though I still can't shake off the feeling the movie improves on it on just about every count.

The story follows star-crossed lovers Sailor and Lula as they elope across the Deep South on a '75 Bonneville convertible, due West and away from Lula's fiercely disapproving mother. Marietta sics gumshoe Johnnie Farragut on them, and then on the book is structured like a thriller, cutting back and forth between the runaway lovebirds and their shadowing detective while building up to the inevitable intersection.

The novella's a breezy read, made up of a few dozen chapters 2 to 4 pages long and reading like short stories, each casually presented and skirting around the issue. Most of it is just pillow talk between Sailor and Lula. A conversation here, an anecdote there. Whether they're lazying in bed, driving their car or hitting a bar their banter twists and turns hazily into all kinds of dark, funny or amusing recesses. The book combines dirty realism - mixture of intimacy and spontaneity, rich use of eye dialect - with delightful B-grade pulp, introducing all kinds of freak scenarios and characters. You can taste them from their names alone: Bob Ray Lemon. Bobby Peru. Perdita Durango.

I missed some more characterization and description in the story. I also think the movie benefits from injecting more action - in the plot-driven sense of the word - and stressing the forces opposed to the protagonist's impassioned run. Examples: the novel's Marietta doesn't try to have Sailor killed (the manslaughter charges appear unrelated to the story) and never actually hires Santos (who doesn't actually make an appearence) or Bobby. She doesn't even have a good reason to hate Sailor. And poor Johnnie, a PI so dilatory he stops to pen the odd short story now and then, is a darling but not much of a foe.

The iconography of the movie is so strong I found myself relying a little too much on it in order to fill in the novel's parts that didn't agree with me. It's a great adaptation, up to improving the ending. The novel's feels abrupt - two letters and a coda close up a road trip to nowhere in particular - and not very satisfying. The movie's feels more apt and true to the characters. Then again the book has something like 5 or 6 sequels. So who knows.

You know, I never read that book and I always wondered about it. Because I really liked the movie... up to the last third. Because as soon as the movie introduced Willem DaFoe's character and that whole bank robbery plot started, I felt like it absolutely hit a wall head on. It was so fun when it was about a couple driving to Vegas and getting into lynchian situations and meeting lynchian characters along the way and just sorta fizzled out with the Bobby Peru thing.

Was it like that in the book?

PsychedelicDiamond:
You know, I never read that book and I always wondered about it. Because I really liked the movie... up to the last third. Because as soon as the movie introduced Willem DaFoe's character and that whole bank robbery plot started, I felt like it absolutely hit a wall head on. It was so fun when it was about a couple driving to Vegas and getting into lynchian situations and meeting lynchian characters along the way and just sorta fizzled out with the Bobby Peru thing.

Was it like that in the book?

Yes and no. There's definitely a break in the flow of the story once Bobby shows up. For the most part the book's a series of still-lifes of either Sailor and Lula amusing each other with random stories or Johnny Farragut lounging in bars and daydreaming. Whatever "action" the plot requires usually takes place in between chapters or long before the book even starts.

Once Bobby Peru shows up the narrative becomes a bit more focused on real-time conflict, and there's a lot of build up to the bank robbery. Having said that it's really a small part of the book - like the last few pages or so. Everything happens super fast and with minimal detail. The whole climax of the movie (the heist) is summed up in 2 pages. So it doesn't drag like it might in the movie - it's quite sudden and then it's over. You can tell they amped it in the movie because the climax has to be big.

Bobby's still a fucking psycho but not as hateable (he doesn't harrass Lula, doesn't betray Sailor). Like I said Marietta has no influence outside of Johnnie, who doesn't achieve anything. She doesn't call on Santos, didn't hire Bob Ray Lemon in the first place and there's no real equivalent of that whole Mr. Reindeer subplot. Also she doesn't have a good reason to hate Sailor, and Sailor (or Santos) don't have anything to do with Lula's father's death. So I think the movie improves on the plot by tying up a bunch of ends together and making it come full circle. The movie feels crazier but the book feels more random.

On the plus side I was very pleasantly surprised to find that a lot of the stuff I would've thought would've been made up by Lynch in making the movie is actually original to the book, from entire characters (Cousin Dell!) to I would say most of the dialogue. And although I missed a lot of characters in the book, I liked a lot of the stuff that didn't make it into the movie. A lot of it reads like it could be deleted scenes (mostly stories Sailor and Lula swap, and one encounter with a hitchhiker). So as a fan of Lynch I'm sure you'd enjoy it just to get a kick of how Lynchian-without-Lynch a lot of the stuff reads.

I just finished Ritual, the novel that The Wickerman was inspired by/semi-based on. It was pretty good. Without spoiling too much the hints were always there for the reveal at the end and although I wasn't too impressed when I put it down the more I sit on it and think the more I realise that it was cleverly done.

I'm currently reading Spiral, the sequel to Ring and it's good so far.

Honourable mention. Before Ritual I read The Road. Big mistake bringing that with me to read on my lunch break. Genuinely teared up repeatedly throughout. It's stripped back basic narrative makes it very easy to breeze through and I just felt completely drawn into it. The writing was very simple but that stopped it distracting from the emotion and added to the hollowness of the world.

Next in the stack is Farewell My Lovely. I enjoyed the Big Sleep so I'm looking forward to it.

I'm in the middle of Books Of Blood on Audible and I'm really giving Clive Barker a lot of chances because of how much I love Hellraiser but Jesus I think I might be done with him soon. A bit too try-hard for my tastes and the violence and sex just feels like it's written by someone who thinks they're being really shocking. In Cabal he describes a woman masturbating and calls her vagina her cunt. That's just a weirdly aggressive way to describe a woman masturbating. It's such a needlessly crude word in that context. Even pussy would have been less weird. The word itself doesn't bother me it just seems kind of an immature attempt to look mature. I dunno, when I was a teenager my writing used to be pretty needlessly edgy and reading Barker just feels like he never got over that phase. I can read Stephen King talk about a woman possessed by an ancient god stuff a t-shirt down her pants because the god possessing you causes your body to break down, cancer speeds up, your pale skin almost cooks off in the sun or, in that ladies case, your yeast infection turns your vagina into the elevator from The Shining and that doesn't bother me because it feels like he builds up to it.

Overwatch: Bastet (3/5)

It's kind of dubious as to whether this warrants a review - after all, I don't review every individual comic issue I read, or each individual episode of a show I watch. Still, it does count as a short story, and if nothing else, it's a sign that Blizzard's willing to keep doing short stories when most of their free EU media has been comics over the last few years, or in the case of Diablo, stopped entirely. But that aside, the story itself?

Well, it's fine I guess. Nothing special, and at the end of the day, it's really just an extension of the Ana: Legacy comic than its own independent story. It at least technically continues Jack and Ana's story, but we could already guess where that story was going. If the guess is "going after Talon," then I got that write with my own writings years ago. Not that I should really compare fanfic to published fic, but the writing...isn't that great. Which is a shame, because I've seen much better writing from Blizzard in the past in these kinds of stories. But, yeah. It's fine.

Oh, and the whole "Jack Morrison is gay!" nontroversy...well, what do you want me to say? You want me to analyze a factoid that takes up a paragraph at the most, that became so important that sites like the Escapist itself have run articles with it? Sorry, not going to do so. I mean, okay, I could complain that I've always shipped Jack and Ana, and after Ana's partner was revealed to be Sam I shifted the nature of that ship, and now I'll have to shift it again, but really, that isn't an issue. I've done this in the past for numerous medias, Jack being gay is just another catalyst, and a pretty minor one at that (still torn up I had to give up Mudshipping for Valeshipping for instance).

So, yeah. Bastet is fine. Wouldn't mind more of these, but I'd prefer them to be of higher quality.

Mother by Maya Angelou (2006)

In general I stay away from comics, tie-ins, glorified fanon and that kind of crap because it feels less like literature and more like merch promoting more merch. I'm not big into poetry either because I think I'm no good at appreciating it, and it's usually so short that it feels like I'm cheating at my annual "read X books" challenge. Mother: it's alright I guess. I'm not a fan of the "heartfelt" kind of poetry that's trying to croon me with emotion. It's cute but also a little corny and it doesn't feel genuine.

Stormlight: The Way of Kings: Part 1 (3/5)

When I finished this book, I was glad to have done so, without any desire to move onto part 2. And in case it isn't obvious, that's never a good sign.

In the interest of fairness, I should point out that me reading this book was extended due to the divergence towards Big Damn Hero. Now, that wasn't the best book either, but I at least got something out of it, if only that it helped me in writing 'All the World's a Stage' (though canon's been made iffy thanks to said book, but whatever). But when it comes to WoK, if you asked me what I got out of it, the answer would have to be very little. It's at this point that I have to acknowledge that I can't really call myself a Sanderson fan, because there's been so much of his now that I've read that's simply been average. Rather, it's better to call me a "Mistborn fan," and by that, I mean a fan of the first Mistborn trilogy. Reading WoK, it's hard to believe that this is even by the same author, because while both utilize high fantasy settings, how those settings are portrayed, and how the stories play out, is like night and day. Arguably about the only thing WoK does better than Mistborn is worldbuilding, in as much that its setting is quite unique, what with its use of a single super continent with the effects on flora and fauna you might expect (and some you might not, like the spren), and it does a relatively decent job of fleshing out its cultures. But, newsflash to any aspiring writer - it doesn't matter how detailed your world is if the story and/or characters are sub-par. Mistborn might not have the same scale of worldbuilding as WoK, but it had far better characters and storytelling. And considering that Sanderson seems to be treating Mistborn as a side project to Stormlight...well, that's his prerogative, but it doesn't mean I have to enjoy it.

Now, you may be saying "but Hawki, you've only read part 1, how can you pass judgement?" Well, to that I say, part 1 consists of between 500 and 600 pages, so I think I'm pretty entitled to give some kind of judgement over that. However, I'm left to ask at the end of those 500-600 pages, what's actually happened? Stuff has happened, sure. I have my main characters who are doing stuff. But by god they're taking their sweet time. I mean, okay, Stormlight is planned to have 10 books by its end, but by God, give me SOMETHING. I've said up to this point that I'm fine with slow-burn stories, but I might have to reconsider that statement after this. That, or suggest that WoK is burning so slowly it'll still be burning by the time the universe enters heat death. Because when I look at the characters, at 500-600 pages, I don't get the sense that anything's really changed for them. They're both effectively in the same positions they were in at the start. Yes, technically Shallan has become Jeshnah's apprentice, and technically Kaladin has become a bridge crew leader, and technically Shin is now in the employment of people who know how deadly he actually is, but what's actually happened? Like, imagine if in Fellowship of the RIng, the first half of the entire book took place in the Shire. Yes, technically stuff is happening, but the story would have even less momentum than it does in its final form.

So, yeah. Can't say I like Stormlight. Maybe it gets better, maybe not, but if so, I shouldn't have to read over 500 pages to get to the good stuff. At this point, I think I'm pretty much off Sanderson - I liked Mistborn, but that's about it. Also, I think I'm going to go back to reading tie-in stuff and/or short works, because while they may not be literary greats, they can at least be read in reasonable timeframes.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2014)

The transcription of a TED talk Adichie gave in 2012, amounting here to a brief essay. Towards the end of the booklet the author defines feminist as "a man or a woman who says 'Yes, there's a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better'". In a latter interview she boiled it down, fed up: "Whoever says they're feminist is bloody feminist".

I agree with pretty much everything Adichie says on the subject. Yes, there's a problem. Yes, we must do better. To me the issue speaks to common sense and is a no-brainer. This is why I didn't have much of a reaction to the book itself. I don't think I learned anything from it other than trademark Igbo sexism. So who is this for? If you agree with it then it's a pointless read. If you could benefit from reading this, you're probably not gonna. I imagine it best suited as a school read for kids, boys and girls alike.

Or maybe just turn it into a Beyonc? song.

StarCraft II: Shadow Wars (3/5)

So, I may be eating my words in reviewing this, in that the series could go beyond Issue 12. However, I'm choosing to review it now, because a) I'm dubious as to whether it'll receieve continuation due to the cuts in staff Blizzard's experiencing, and b) if it did end here, it's at least concluded its main arc.

So, Shadow Wars is...okay. I can't really complain too much about comics that have been given to use for free over time, but whatever, it's out there, I can review. Overall, it's...um, okay. It certainly gets better beyond the first three issues, where we get a sense of our main cast. I've got to be honest, none of them are all that compelling, but they're servicable. While the comic does set up threads for future conflict within the setting (in that the Daelaam are pissed at the Dominion, and the zerg are potentially facing a second Brood War), it pivots to Elms and co. by the midway point. Given the short issue lengths, it lacks the 'meat' of the Dark Horse comic series, but unlike Scavengers, ends conclusively.

So, yeah. I don't mind if there's no more. I'll say it before and I'll say it again, there was no reason to continue the StarCraft story beyond Legacy of the Void. We haven't reached Terminator 3 territory of screwing over past installments yet, and since time travel isn't a thing in the setting, arguably never will. Still, one of the very last panels in the series (if it is indeed ending here) is hinting at larger conflict to come. And conflict's the essence of drama, sure, but it appears that peace may well be a pipe dream in the setting. Which is arguably a shame, but I figure if there was a mandate to retain conflict within the setting (and given its nature as a game, it kinda is), then it's at least gone about it decently.

Jurasic Park. At a litte over 500 pages it can seem intimidating, but once you get through some of the technobable its a good read, and doesn't leave you feeling board. If you seen Jurasic World and Fallen Kingdom, they even get to use some lines and ideas they didn't get to use in the first three films such as the Diolauge Malcom uses in the court room, or Woo explaining that they never made perfect replicas of dinosours nore did they ever try to.

It covers themes of over reliance on Technology, human arogance when it comes to both its capabiliies of controleing situations and that science is the be all end all and solves everything without taking the human element into effect (with Malcolm comparing the InGen people to someone bying a Saturday Special, who will have the imaturity and lack of emotional controle to kill their wife in a heat of passion whereas a martial arts black belt can kill you with their bare hands but chooses not to due to years of tempering their mind as well as their body)

This arogance is best seen with the InGen personal. Hammon, who despite being in his seventies acts like a five year old with a temper tantrum when he hears something he dons't like (namly its not going as smoothly as it could and his ideas are not helping). He also cuts so many corners with the funding and supplies of the resort he made a circle.

Woo who is so preocupied in making the animals and improving upon them he hasn't bothered learneing half their names or implications that half the DNA choices he used to fill the gaps lead to some of the troubling issiues they are having now (namly breeding animals).

Arnold, who is so preocupied with the big details fails to notic the small ones that eventuay lead to things crashing down again.

Nedry, Who's short sightedness and just desire to get back at Hammon for black listing and blackmaling him into finishing the security programing despite giving him not enough info to do it and at a fraction of what its worth, is going to do corporate espianage for 1.5 million bucks when the stolen embrios he has are worth ten times that.

Most of the characters are good.

If I have a problem with it its Lex, who is the kid sibling in the book and so annoying and obnoxious I am surprised no one chucked her at the dinosaurs to keep her shutted up. THere is also early on with one of the Campies that got off the island eating a newborn's face, so Trigger warning for anyone that had CIDS in their family recently.

Overal, good read.

Hawki:
Stormlight: The Way of Kings: Part 1 (3/5)

When I finished this book, I was glad to have done so, without any desire to move onto part 2. And in case it isn't obvious, that's never a good sign.

So, yeah. Can't say I like Stormlight. Maybe it gets better, maybe not, but if so, I shouldn't have to read over 500 pages to get to the good stuff. At this point, I think I'm pretty much off Sanderson - I liked Mistborn, but that's about it. Also, I think I'm going to go back to reading tie-in stuff and/or short works, because while they may not be literary greats, they can at least be read in reasonable timeframes.

I'm currently re-reading this book and I'm around 900ish pages in...out of 1200. I read it back in like 2010ish when it was the only book in the series and now that I've got the next two on my bookshelf I feel like I have to re-read it because I only remember bits and pieces of it.

Yeah, if you're not feeling it, I'm not sure I can tell you that you're wrong. It's LONG and The Way of Kings is basically a prolouge to the Stormlight Saga(which is supposed to have like 10 books when it's done). Honestly, while some interesting things do happen by the end of the book, a lot of the most interesting stuff is worldbuilding, rather then plot.

I'll probably start the next book sometime this year, after I finish a couple more books that aren't 1000+ pages long.

saint of m:
Jurasic Park. At a litte over 500 pages it can seem intimidating, but once you get through some of the technobable its a good read, and doesn't leave you feeling board. If you seen Jurasic World and Fallen Kingdom, they even get to use some lines and ideas they didn't get to use in the first three films such as the Diolauge Malcom uses in the court room, or Woo explaining that they never made perfect replicas of dinosours nore did they ever try to.

And yet there's still no screen version of the "Muldoon sits in a storm drain blowing up raptors with a grenade launcher" scene :(

Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea (3/5)

This is by the same author who wrote 'Jerusalem: Chronicles of the Holy City', and in both art style and approach to the subject matter, it really shows. That said, Jersualem is the stronger of the two, but I'm reluctant to describe it as the fault of the author.

Here, De Lisle stayed in North Korea for two months, acting as a liaison between a French animation company and SEK. The novel's in black and white, and it's quite fitting, given the grey architecture presence and the uptightness of those around him. I say those around him, but I mainly mean his assigned translators (read: people who make sure you toe the line). If anything, this is why I feel that Jersualem is more impactful, because he was able to get unfiltered thoughts from both Israelis and Palestinians. Here, everything he gets from North Korea is, with one exception, within the party line. His own thoughts in the story ask (paraphrased) "do you actually believe the bullshit that you're spitting out?" Chances are it's a bit of both, but we can only guess.

There's a kind of surrealness to the story, and it really fits, because there's an absolute surealness to North Korea itself. Pyongyang has three hotels. The highway that leads out of the city is completely bereft of cars. There's villages outside the highway, but no roads to them. There's blackouts, but a monument to the Great Leader is always shining. There's a film industry, but it's devoted to WWII/Korean War films (spoilers: North Koreans hate the Japanese). There's an impressive subway, but it has about four stops, and it's designed to withstand nuclear attack. Everywhere, there's portraits of the Great Leader and his son, or in one case Marx - someone that "capitalists know nothing about."

So, yeah. Jerusalem has more humanity in it. But the tragedy of the work, of North Korea as a whole, isn't that the people of the country lack humanity, it's that they're forced to suppress it. What we're shown is a society that's both normal, and terrifying. So, um, yay for Juche? Y'know, the thing that is studied in universities around the world because everyone outside North Korea is in awe of the Great Leader?

Remember that?

On Fairness (3/5)

On Hate (3/5)

Technically these are two separate 100 page books, but they're part of the same series, and approach their subject matter in the same way. Thus, I'll comment on them both together.

On Fairness is written by a union leader, and can basically be seen as a critique of neo-liberalism/trickle down economics. The idea that Australians value the idea of a "fair go," but this idea doesn't translate to a widening wealth gap, not to mention historic injustices against indigenous Australians. This gets an average rating because while I'm no economist, the book's arguments are basically preaching to the choir (least in my case). Like, I've always been dubious of the lack of market regulation and privatization (especially with prisons, which is turning to a disaster in the US as far as I'm aware), but at 100 pages, the book can't go into that much detail.

On Hate is written by Australia's former race-discrimination commissioner. This kind of suffers the opposite from the former book, because on one hand, the book does present new information...sort of. Like, I think it's fair to say that white supremacy/right-wing extremism is becoming a big problem, and the book could basically be summed up as "yeah, no shit - it's worse than you think." That's a bit of a glib reading of it mind you. Still, the book doesn't really spend that much time on offering solutions to the issue. Like, the former one at least identifies a problem and gives a solution to said problem (don't trust in an unregulated market to serve society), whereas On Hate is far more ambiguous.

So, not bad reads, but at 100 pages each, neither of them can reasonably be expected to go that in-depth.

Pokemon XY: Volume 1 (2/5)

So, I've been going on a semi-Pokemon binge since Sword & Shield were revealed. Nostalgia dies hard it seems. That said, nostalgia isn't enough to cover this manga issue. And no, it's not because it's XY, when I stopped playing the games after Gen 2, and stopped watching the anime during the Orange Islands segment. No, it's because of the fact that the characters are insufferable. We have one, "X," who spends the entire issue moping because he's scared by the papparazi, as everyone had such high expectations of him when he won a tournament. As a concept, it isn't bad. In execution, it's trite and simplistic. And the other characters fare little better because they're all such little angels, while Team Flare are evil, and...yeah.

Okay, in fairness, this is clearly a manga meant for kids, but even material meant for kids can be engaging for people above the intended age range at times. However, this isn't such a case.

Dragon Ball: Vol. 1 (3/5)

Dragon Ball: Vol. 2 (3/5)

Dragon Ball: Vol. 3 (4/5)

I'm grouping these together as I read them as part of a collection. While the ratings vary, as do my thoughts on the issues (in some cases), I feel it best to discuss this in one go.

So, Dragon Ball. This is a series I knew existed, but never really consumed until now. Disillusioned with DBZ ages ago for various reasons, I've always wondered about Dragon Ball, as to whether it might be free of said issues (power levels, saiyans, long speeches, the whole "get stronger to win, fight the next guy who's always stronger, rinse and repeat" thing). Well, so far it is, but in its place are a whole set of other issues, and at least for the first two volumes, these issues really weighed down the experience. Thing is...okay, there's too many sex jokes. Call me a prude if you want, but by the end, we'd gone into some pretty cringy, even creepy territory. This begins right from the start - Goku having never seen a girl before? Sure, okay - fits his backstory. Bulma explaining that no, they can't share a bed together, even if he did snuggle up with Grandpa Gohan as a kid? Well, yeah, okay - nice to know Bulma understands boundries at least. Goku nevertheless falling asleep between her legs, waking up, patting around them, and telling her she's lost her balls (she thinks the Dragon Balls at first)? Um, points for the pun, but you're really pushing it there.

It gets worse. It keeps coming. Roshi is absolutely insufferable. Bulma ends up wearing a bunny outfit because of plot contrivance. The sexual oogling/references go on, and on, and on. They're mostly not funny, and given their nature, plus the age of the protagonists (Bulma is 16, Goku is slightly younger), it's actually kind of creepy when you think about it. It also doesn't help that Bulma's goal in finding her, um, balls, is...the perfect boyfriend. Yep, that's her wish. And she gets a 'perfect boyfriend' with Yamcha at the end, so...yay for character development? I mean, look, usually I try to give the author's the benefit of the doubt. I've been accused of being too Watsonian. But when every female character is sexualized (Bulma, Chi-Chi...okay, maybe not Puar), when every male is either oogling the female or being oblivious, I'm left to ask who the manga's actually for. Horny teenage boys? Yeah, probably.

It also doesn't stop there, because the plot's very sloppy in some places. For instance, a key plot point is Goku growing into a giant ape under the full moon. They're trapped, fated to die in the morning, but the full moon is above, turning Goku into an ape that smashes the prison. Y'know when the whole "full moon plus Goku = ape" ability is set up? A few pages before it actually happens. Like, no. Just no. Chekov's gun, FFS. If the gun is fired in the second act, set it up in the first act.

And it's kind of a shame, because despite all this, there are elements that I like, though in fairness, a lot of them likely stem from a lack of elements from DBZ that I found off-putting. Like, there's no hard line between the usefuls and the uselessnesses. There's no long drawn out monologues about power levels, or channeling power. Least Yamcha isn't completely useless here. Least there's a kind of quirkiness and charm that comes through when characters aren't being pervs. Least it can be kind of funny at times when there's the author's note at the end of the chapter, usually at least prodding the fourth wall if not breaking it At least...ugh. Am I being too kind to this manga, or too harsh? I dunno. But it's a very mixed bag.

...or at least the first two volumes are, because volume 3 is an improvement. Not that you'd think so at first, because at the start, we get into really, REALLY uncomfortable territory. So, Goku wants Roshi to train him, but he needs to bring the old man a "hot babe" first. I mean...wow. Just wow. Like, it's not as if Goku is actually kidnapping females, but this is getting really, REALLY close to...well, close to a territory I don't want to get a visa for. Also, we get an ejaculation joke. Yep. We've gone there.

Thankfully, that stuff is minimzed as Goku and Krillin actually begin training. It's not exactly deep, but it's a much more plesant experience in that we can now play to the manga's strengths - humour (not of the dirty kind), quirkiness, and well drawn fight scenes. Of course, I know that in the future, Goku is going to be Super Saiyan God something something, and Krillin's going to be "useless human guy," but at least for now, it's endearing to see them train and spar. Goku's a bit of a Gary Stu in the manga, but it's not nearly as aggravating as what DBZ/Super bring to the table. And the martial arts tournament is fun. Seeing Yamcha again is fun. Seeing the fight scenes if fun. Seeing the results of Roshi's training is fun. The manga is, at last, fun in a genuine sense, rather than being a guilty pleasure. But that brings me to the end of Vol. 3. Whether I read beyond that will depend on library stocks.

So, yeah. Something something super saiyan something something perv joke something.

Dalisclock:
It's LONG and The Way of Kings is basically a prolouge to the Stormlight Saga(which is supposed to have like 10 books when it's done). Honestly, while some interesting things do happen by the end of the book, a lot of the most interesting stuff is worldbuilding, rather then plot.

Brandon Sanderson wrote some decent standalone novels. Decent in large part because they're relatively short, although he seems rather overfond of a "puzzle" mechanic where there is a logical system underpinning how magic functions that the heroes have to work out to save the day. After he was invited to finish off the massively overlong Wheel of Time, however, he seems to have contracted a severe case of Jordanitis. Peter F. Hamilton can be a similar offender here in the genre of science fiction. Slogging through 1000 pages of text that only tell 300 pages worth of story makes reading feel more like a chore than a hobby to me.

But some readers do love worldbuilding. It doesn't matter to them that page after page achieves nothing except to describe things they don't need to know in order to get on with the story. So as there is that demand, so there will be people like Sanderson to supply something they'll enjoy.

Agema:

But some readers do love worldbuilding. It doesn't matter to them that page after page achieves nothing except to describe things they don't need to know in order to get on with the story. So as there is that demand, so there will be people like Sanderson to supply something they'll enjoy.

I'm kind of beating a dead horse, but I'll reiterate that Sanderson's quite capable of a "plot first, worldbuilding second" approach - again, see Mistborn. Of what I read, Stormlight is more "worldbuilding first, plot second." And as you said, I guess there's a market for that, but I'll always put plot, storytelling, and characters above worldbuilding.

The Mind in the Cave by David Lewis-Williams.

An in-depth study into Upper Paleolithic cave art - it's form, structure, and place in early society. Incredibly well written, detailed and yet not assuming of prior knowledge on the part of the reader, it's a fascinating read. Using reference points from more modern rock painting cultures, notably the San African tribes and tribes from across North America, Lewis-Williams puts forward some incredible ideas for not only how and why cave art developed in our early history, but how the development of art may well have impacted the societies that created them. If you have any interest in the development of the early human psyche, find time to pick this book up.

The Walking Dead: Volume 9 (4/5)

The Walking Dead: Volume 10/11 (3/5)

I read these three in a single sitting, and like Dragon Ball, I'm going to review them in one go.

I don't have much to say about 9, other than that I like it more than the others. It's quieter, slower, more character focused, in that it focuses on Rick and Carl in the aftermath of the fall of the prison. So, character rather than plot driven, and after the events of previous volumes, it's a refreshing change of pace.

10/11? Not so much. It's at this point where Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene turn up. Like many points where the show adapted plot elements from the comic, this is another case where I feel the show did it better (the show adapted vol. 9 as well, but both are more even there). There's like, not anything particuarly wrong, but I feel it's really shaky logic to abandon the farm to go off to Washington because some strangers told you that they can end the zombie apocalypse. Even their reasoning that the farm isn't safe because of herds doesn't really equate to "let's go on the road where we'll still be vulnerable."). So, yeah. Stuff happens. It's fine, but whether it be psycho twin, or cannibals, or Gabriel, or whatever else, again, seen it done better. I'm left to ask how quickly Kirkman has to come up with new storylines, because a lot of it comes off as having been made up on the fly.

In Between the Sheets by Ian McEwan (1978)

Second collection of short stories of Ian Macabre, all sharing the themes of existential ennui and sexual perversion. They're intriguing and fairly disquieting although a couple feel like failed experiments.

"Pornography" is about a two-timing pornographer getting a nasty, emasculating comeuppance. "Reflections of a Kept Ape" has the title ape recall his sexual affair with a female writer who now ignores him. "Two Framents" shows two scenes in the life of a father caring for his young daughter in post-apocalyptic London. "Dead As They Come" tells a classic tale of love, bliss, jealousy and betrayal between a man and a... mannequin. "In Between the Sheets" focuses on another father-daughter story bordering on incest. "To and Fro"... I have no idea what it's about. "Psychopolis" is about a Brit expat having an existential crisis in "the vast, fragmented city without a centre" that is L.A.

I like the way McEwan sketches psychological profiles with effortless precision and the ever troubling yet subtle hints at the true depths that connect one character to another. The collection is great overall, though a few of the stories feel like facile writing exercises.

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