2019 - Majkia's Reading - Part 1
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1. Brilliance - Marcus Sakey - 3.5* 🎵
2. The Wrong Stars - Tim Pratt - 3.5* - ebook
3. Deadhouse Landing - Ian C. Esslemont - 🎵
4. Hunting Party - Elizabeth Moon - 3.5* - ebook
5. The Girl Who Played With Fire - Stieg Larrson - 4.0 - 🎵 (Simon Vance)
6. Artificial Condition - Martha Wells - 🎵 (John Banks)
7. Amberlough - Lara Elena Donnelly - DNF
8. Quantum Lens - Douglas E. Richards - 3* - 🎵 (Marc Vietor)
9. The Mongoliad - Neal Stephenson - 3.5* - 🎵 (reader: Luke Daniels)
10. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson - 4.0* - 🎵 (Simon Vance)
11. A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe - Alex White - ebook
12. The Andromeda Strain - Michael Crichton - 3.5 - 🎵 (David Morse)
13. Karen Memory - Elizabeth Bear - 3.5 - 🎵 (Jennifer Grice)
14. The Poppy War - R.F. Kuang - 2.0* - 🎵 (Emily Woo Zeller)
15. Night Train to Rigel - Timothy Zahn
>6 Bookmarque: Feel free to snag them! I have no idea where I got them originally.
1 Brilliance - Marcus Sakey
An Alt History which deals with children being born with advanced mental traits, and the societal consequences as those children grow, and more and more of the population becomes so gifted.
A thriller, nicely written, with a plot that moves the story right along. Characters you can care about and cheer for, with a few twists I did not see coming.
Following...and have a splendid reading year. Looking forward to multiple bullets...
Happy new year! I hope it is a good one for you in books and in real life.
Added my three beliefs for reading to the first post:
Three things I strongly believe in: The Pearl rule, the Bechdel test, and the Oxford comma.
2. The Wrong Stars - Tim Pratt Series: Axion #1
Interesting sci fi with a strange alien race the humans call Liars. When the survivor of a goldilocks ship turns up unexpectedly with a piece of alien tech that could change life forever, things start to go badly wrong.
Quite well written, a plot that moves things along nicely, likeable characters, and distinctly inscrutable tech and aliens.
>1 majkia: >19 suitable1: >20 majkia: >22 quondame: (whew, what a row of referrers!) I'm in two minds - I enjoyed Hunting Party well enough to continue to read all the Serrano stories, and then to go on to read Vatta's War.
I did like Vatta's War better, but both was enjoyable reads. Felt a bit light-weight, though, and thinking about it I think maybe that was because they were a bit formulaic.
I have Vatta's War lined up for rereading, though, so it can't be that bad :)
I really enjoyed Vatta's War series. So far Hunting Party - I'm not very far in - reminds me of that, the characters are similar with a similar set up - no longer in the military.
My thoughts on Vatta's War series was that it was the most realistic depiction of women in the military I've yet read. Having been there myself for 20 years, I have a bit of experience with it. ;)
That part I enjoyed, and I have no issues with the authenticity, at all. It's more how similar the stories and characters are, and the predictability of the relationships - things like that.
All in all I liked both series, Vatta's War enough to reread but not enough to pick up the newly published sequels - mainly for fear of getting the original story spoiled - and would recommend at least Vatta's War to anyone who's into space opera or military sf.
>25 Busifer: Yes. I knew you weren't critiquing that. Most older sci fi seems to me, to follow a lot more conventions of the genre than the newer stuff. I blame the publishers.
>26 majkia: I didn't think so, I just wanted to clarify myself :-) And I very much agree with you on publishers and convention. It is like they thought that no one would buy a book if it wasn't very much like all other books that previously been successfully published.
I for one very much enjoy the present-day variety of sf, at least as long as I feel that the author has been subject to some editing. But I feel that has gotten better as well. There was a time in the 00's when every book seemed to be at least 500 pages, many of which held a lot of superfluous stuff.
The mark of a real good author of olden times was, to me, that they could tell a compelling story in under 200 pages. There was a time recently when 200 pages hadn't even got the story started...
I'm enjoying the comments on Hunting Party, the Serrano series, and Vatta's War in this thread. I've enjoyed all those books, and I was planning a reread of Vatta's War once I finish some library books. I was surprised to see that Busifer was doing the same. I may go on to reread the Serrano series once I'm done with Vatta's War.
I preferred the Serrano series over Vatta's War. I cared for the Serrano characters much more.
On the reread of Vatta's War I might chose to do a listen this time around. A long time ago I got Trading in Danger from Audible, and I have some credits to spare, too.
If I instead chose to read my paper editions it will be later on in the year, as I've some other books lined up first: I have accumulated quite the TBR pile while awaiting for my reading spirit to rise it's head and want to prioritise getting through some of them before I start to reread golden oldies :)
3. Deadhouse Landing - Ian C. Esslemont Series: Path to Ascendancy #2
Throughout the Malazan series, I moaned about how little of Dancer and even Kellanved we saw. So when Esslemont came out with this prequel series I was ready to grab it up. And I'm delighted I did. The two of them together are hilarious, and seeing them grow up together and Dancer's constant frustration with his little mage friend makes me grin.
I listened to the audiobook read by John Banks who did a terrific job.
Eager for the next book.
We've been having the kitchen redone and it is nearly finished. Folks have asked for pictures so here it is, at least as it is today. Just a few more things to do and then I can actually use it! New sink, new cooktop and vent, new countertops and backsplash. Cabinets were re-pickled.
Lovely! I love that the bird collection is on glass shelves for better viewing. What a great idea! Very pretty color combination, it rather puts me in mind of marsh grass or beach at sunrise, probably because of the birdies. :) Seems relaxing.
There are a lot more shorebirds up there. Once the rest of the counter gets cleaned off I'll take a photo of the rest of it. Thanks for the comments. I'm really pleased with how it came out.
Happy New Year, majkia! Your new kitchen looks amazing. May 2019 bring you many wonderful books and meals!
4. Hunting Party -Elizabeth Moon Series: Heris Serrano #1
I really enjoyed her series Vatta's War, so was looking forward to reading this. She's really good at depicting women in the military, and does a great job of getting the types of thinking that is required of anyone in charge of other people and their health and well being.
Hunting Party didn't disappoint in this regard. This is an older woman in this series, where the heroine in Vatta's War was young and new to the experiences. This time, this woman is seasoned and unhappy about having resigned her commission and missing all that went with it.
I enjoyed the characters and the different settings, although I confess I learned more about fox hunting that I really ever expected to, but as there was quite a bit of character development going on with it, I didn't mind all that much.
The younger characters were annoying at first but definitely grew through the adventures they endured.
If you like military sci fi, give this a try. It's quite different from most of the genre but all the better for that.
5. The Girl Who Played With Fire - Stieg Larrson - Series: Millennium Trilogy #2
I listened to the audiobook read by Simon Vance.
Tricksy, with lots of diversionary tactics, these books keep you reading and wondering just how things can possibly turn out well. The main character, Lisbeth, is a troubled young woman who has no idea how to back down. You come at her and she comes right back at you with all her strength, intelligence and ability.
Characters are interesting, flawed and complex. They interact in surprising ways and the plot is hard to predict.
Really enjoyed it and hope to read the last of the trilogy soon.
>45 majkia: I enjoyed the trilogy very much. The Swedish film of the first book is very good. I found the film sequels lacked something. I have only seen the trailer for the American film and I cannot see it adding anything to the experience other than some loud music with heavy beats to tell the viewers they are supposed to feel tense and scared.
6. Artificial Condition - Martha Wells Series: Murderbot Diaries #2
Sooo much fun. Love the murderbot and her obsession with 'Sanctuary Moon'. Like her new friend too. :)
I listened to the audiobook read by Kevin R. Free, who does a great job, and gets the humor just right.
7. Amberlough - Lara Elena Donnelly Series: Amberlough #1
Did Not Finish
This book was just not doing it for me. Too much sex and nothing else really going on for 62 pages.
Nicely written and maybe I'll pick it up sometime in the future, but probably not.
8. Quantum Lens - Douglas E. Richards
I had issues. Mostly about the one female character who
Otherwise, lots of good sciency stuff which I always enjoy. Too bad about the above. Oh, also in several parts too much lecturing about politics.
I listened to the audio version, read by Marc Vietor who did an okay job.
Just popped by to meet my new neighbours. Thank you for introducing me to "The Pearl Rule ". I had mot encountered it before - and I certainly recognise the upbringing it rebels against!
>50 -pilgrim-: Always glad to intro folks to Nancy Pearl. :)
Welcome to the pub. I look forward to following your reading.
>52 clamairy: Not sure about the pub world carrying on but I thought the second book was even better than the first. Hope the last one holds up to the other two!
Murderbot! My hero.
9. The Mongoliad - Neal Stephenson - Series: The Mongoliad #1
I listened to the audio version read by one of my faves, Luke Daniels.
This wasn't at all what I expected. Pretty much straight historical, although granted I have no idea about the Mongols and he could be spinning lots of alt history and I'd have no idea. Not real magic or tech though, so... Still, an interesting story with his signature interweaving of multiple storylines.
I love his writing so I'll put up with straight historical if he writes it!
>56 Busifer: I bought the Mongoliad series (for kindle) at a discount last year. I think they were on sale for $1.99 each or something like that. I have not yet gotten around to reading them but my understanding is that the series is a collaboration by many authors with Neal Stephenson and Greg Bear being primaries. The Wikipedia Page explains it pretty well.
I usually enjoy historical fiction, (especially secret histories), and am a fan of Stephenson's other work, so I'm looking forward to digging into these soon.
>57 ScoLgo: Yeah, I know, but while a fan of his since back when Snowcrash was first published everything has a limit... I'd never get an audio version of anything of his that I haven't read first, as the format makes it hard to find at which point he's going to leave off his pointless expositions and pick up with the story again. I think fx Cryptonomicon has a 10-12 page section were a protagonist analyses his masturbatory patterns.
It doesn't add anything to either story or character... well, a bit might do for the character, but 10 pages, with diagrams? Just no.
So I kept away from The Mongoliad for a reason - so many other good books out there, waiting for attention!
But if people I trust says it's worth reading, then I'll probably get it.
>58 Busifer: The embedded short story - I think it is in Cryptonomicon - which involves black stockings and heirloom furniture - is actually the best, most coherent, piece of writing Stephenson has ever done. I love reading his novels, but at the core of each of them is a hole so huge that it seems like a feature. I enjoyed the Mongoliad series too, but I don't think it's very good.
>58 Busifer: I fully agree about his proclivity for pointless exposition. I personally don't recall the masturbation section in Cryptonomicon but I do recall becoming irritated with the minute analysis of Alan Turing's faulty bicycle sprocket. Pages of detail about the algorithm Turing worked out to avoid the chain coming off the sprocket struck me as nothing more than an author wanting to show how clever they are. Which in itself is rather masturbatory, I suppose... ;)
But. I still enjoyed that book quite a lot.
well, The Mongoliad is no where near as long as much of his work. So there's less time for long periods of navel-gazing. I thought he stuck with the story pretty well.
We're on our first camping trip of the year, not very far from home, but at the beach. Topsail Hill State Park.
We are staying warm and quite comfy. Mr Majkia went fishing yesterday but alas didn't catch anything, not even the pelican who tried to steal his bait.
10. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson Series: Millennium Trilogy #3
I listened to the audio version read by Simon Vance.
Boy, is the title ever appropriate. All the threads come together and we see more clearly just how everything fits together. Elisabeth grows and evolves, the plot threads come together well, and the book was a satisfactory finish to a very complex and involved story.
I thoroughly enjoyed the trilogy. Every book was well done.
>67 majkia: I've only read the first one. I liked it, but it was rather disturbing. I started the second but couldn't get into it at the time. I wonder if I could now. Hmmm, I'll think about it.
>69 catzteach: The first one is very disturbing, agreed. The second and third deal more with understanding what happened to Elisbeth so they didn't feel so raw to me as the first one did.
I have triggers, so I understand how disturbing books can be.
>60 ScoLgo: I had forgotten about that one. Or repressed it. And despite several such stories the book as a whole is still a great piece of storytelling: I have both read and reread it several times, even if it has been a long time now.
>59 quondame: I can't seem to remember that one, but then it has been a long time since I last reread or read any of his books. There's an episode involving heirlooms in Cryptonomicon, but I can't seem to remember any stockings. Oh well.
One thing I liked with Cryptonomicon was how The Baroque Cycle tied into it. Or maybe it's the reverse - I enjoyed the Baroque Cycle for how it connected to Cryptonomicon ;-)
>70 majkia: good to know. Maybe I will give them a try again.
Beautiful pic! So peaceful!
>75 Busifer: No, it was quite nice, 65F or so, but a storm was coming ashore.
>76 majkia: It looked a bit dark, maybe that's why I guessed cold. I love the sea, though, so think it beautiful in any weather :-)
11. A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe - Alex White Series: The Salvagers #1
What a fun read. It hit all my buttons: smart-mouthed women, lost artifacts, bad guys on their tails. Fun world building, impressive character growth, complex plotting .
Will definitely read the next one.
12. The Andromeda Strain - Michael Crichton
I listened to the audiobook, read by David Morse.
Written in 1969, the main thing that blares out at you (given it's age) is the lack of any important female characters. The only ones in the book are 'nurses' and 'assistants.' All the scientists are male.
Other than that, I enjoy this sort of thriller with lots of science stuff and details about the investigation into a mysterious illness that kills a small town.
>81 majkia: Is it set in "the future"? That gender mix seems all too plausible for a sixties laboratory environment.
>82 -pilgrim-: No it is set in current time, which was 1969. Agreed. 1969 was definitely like that.
>81 majkia: My first exposure to The Andromeda Strain was when I saw the film on TV some time in the 70s. It was only a few years ago that I got around to reading the book. I liked the premise and enjoyed the story, but more as a documentary warning us what could happen rather than as an exciting adventure story. Neither the film nor the book stood out as things to recommend other than as a thought expeiment on what would happen if... It was very topical at the time as the space race was in full flight (if you would excuse the pun). 1969 was the year of the first manned lunar landing.
>84 pgmcc: I was working at a Research Lab in 1969, right after I graduated from university. We got involved in Apollo 13 when they were trying madly to get it down safely. I was an 'assistant' at the research center, and they wouldn't send me too school to learn to program because 'that was for men'. I quit in late 1970 and joined the US Air Force where my job was programming and computer analysis.
Probably more than you want to know, but memories crop up like that some times.
>85 majkia: I find your memories fascinating. Having bitten my nails the whole way through the Apollo 13 mission I think it is amazing to meet, albeit virtually, someone who had any involvement with the effort to get the crew back safely.
1979 was the year I started full-time employment. I joined a software company as a trainee computer programmer. Eighteen of us started on the same day and there were I think four females in the group. My first manager was a woman from whom I learned a lot about focus, planning and the technical elements of programming. I am sorry your experience was so negative. While the company I was in was predominantly male the skill of the employees was recognised with no reference to gender, at least at middle management level. They did not have any women at ranks above project manager at the time.
By contrast, a consultancy company I worked for in 1999 - 2001 had a female Joint Managing Director. She soon took over as sole Managing Director. While in that company I built a consultancy team from six to twenty-six. When I joined, the team consisted of six men. When I left there were eight men and eighteen women. I recruited solely on merit.
Plans for February:
Cast, In Order of Disappearance - Simon Brett
Salvation - Peter Hamilton 🎵
✔ Karen Memory- Elizabeth Bear 🎵 (Jennifer Grice)
Obelisk Gate - N.K.Jemisin 🎵
One Way - SJ Morden
There before the Chaos - KB Wagers
Night Train to Rigel - Timothy Zahn 🎵
The Poppy War - RL Kuang 🎵
Zoe's Tale - John Scalzi 🎵
Semiosis - Sue Burke
Three Parts Dead - Max Gladstone
The Far Pavilions - MM Kaye 🎵
Probably won't get to them all but hoping I can make a dent.
13. Karen Memory - Elizabeth Bear Series : Karen Memory #1
What a fun read. Just goes to show that even 'fallen doves' aren't what they seem, as a young woman steps up to the bad guys in old timey western cowboy style.
I listened to the audio read by Jennifer Grice.
>89 Sakerfalcon: It is a lot of fun. Steampunky, spunky and written with a lot of humor.
We're heading out this morning for our second camping trip of the year. We're headed to a Federal Park, Eastbank, which is, ahem, on the east bank of Lake Seminole, above the dam there on the Chattahoochee River. We might have to come home early if the Federal Government shuts down again on the 15th. Hopefully not, but who knows.
The area was flattened during Hurricane Michael, which was still a CAT 4 when it rolled across this area. The park has just reopened a couple of weeks ago. We expect to see massive changes, mainly pretty much all the trees gone. I'll probably be posting lots of pictures on Facebook, and possibly a few here on LT.
Happy reading, everyone. I'll still be checking in here regularly.
We were really concerned about the state of the campground here, after Hurricane Michael. I'm delighted that the camping area is nearly as nice as it was before, with only a few trees gone. THe road down the hill to the campground, however, shows the violence of the storm, with tens and tens of trees blown over and still not cleared up because they are well off the road and caught up in forested areas.
The las to half of our drive showed us how the trees had been stripped and toppled. It looked as if someone had come in and clear cut along the expressway for miles and miles.
This used to be heavily wooded along the sides of the roads and in the median:
And sunset from our site:
>94 majkia: Great pictures. Thank you for the descrption and pictures of the storm damage.
14. The Poppy War - R.F. Kuang Series: The Poppy War #1
I listened to the audio version read by Emily Woo Zeller
I got very frustrated with how very YA this was, especially the first third or so of the book. I read on hoping the brain fairy might appear, but alas... I suppose those who really like YA might really enjoy this, but it was pretty frustrating for me.
It's always sad when woods gets destroyed, whether by humans or weather. I hope there's some re-forestation scheme, to stop erosion turning the area into a desert.
15. Night Train to Rigel - Timothy Zahn Series- Quadrail #1
Frank Compton, human, is hired (by a guy dying) to discover who is attacking the mysterious Quadrail system, that connects multiple alien worlds throughout the galaxy. He's no Poirot, instead managing to get attacked by multiple races. The mystery is pretty complex and kept my interest throughout. I enjoyed it.
>102 majkia: I love your camper. It is of a scale that can only be imagined here.
>103 pgmcc: I can’t imagine driving it! I’ve always owned smaller cars and have only driven larger vehicles when given one by a rental company during a trip.
I haven’t had much trouble up to the minivan size, but the largest vehicle I ever drove was a Chevrolet Tahoe, a full-sized SUV that can seat 8 people. It was nowhere near the scale of Majkia’s camper of course, but I was pretty uncomfortable driving it. My colleagues and I had rented it for a business trip, and I was the most practical person to pick it up based on our schedule and the location of the rental company. I picked it up and drove it to the first colleague’s house and I was very happy to give him the keys and not drive it again until we got back. While driving it, I had trouble telling where I was in proximity to the lines on the road, especially on the far right side. I pretty much just focused on keeping the driver’s side inside the lane and trusted to logic that the car was not wider than the road despite what my eyes were telling me. I’m sure I would have gotten used to it with practice, but it was a bit nerve-wracking the two times I drove it.
>104 YouKneeK: For one of my weekend camping trips I was upgraded to a Tahoe and loved it - but it goes for more than the Dodge Caravan that actually has more hauling space when set up for 2, so that's what we rent these days. I loved our Smart Car for getting around town & parking in the compact spot between SUVs, but it suicided and our smaller car is now a Prius C.
>104 YouKneeK: I can sympathise. Our "main" vehicle is a 1.5-ton truck, and turning it in the cramped driveway of the old dear we take to church every Wednesday is an epic procedure. But it's a joy for the weekly shop, or carting books between Inchanga and home!
>103 pgmcc: >104 YouKneeK: >105 quondame: >106 hfglen: LOL. Our motor home is 35ft, which for the US, is small for a motor home. They go up to 45ft long. I don't drive it, but Mr Majkia has no problems driving it. We also tow our Honda CR-V behind it. That too is fairly typical for even the bigger motor homes, to tow a car to use when camping.
I confess to trying to look away from the road ahead since I have a depth perception problem which makes everything seem much much closer than it is. (So bad I nearly didn't get a driver's license when I was young). Better than seeing things further on, I guess, which could end up with me crashing into things.
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