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Summer Reading

I try to read a lot. My goal is to read fifty pages a day, which works out to about five books a month. This is nothing if you compare me to someone like Stephen King, who reportedly read hundreds of books a year, but I feel like it’s a pretty good pace. Here are my thoughts on a couple of books I read recently.

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The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

I loved Cloud Atlas, and its Russian nesting doll of a structure ¬†chronicling the lives of various linked characters throughout different time periods. This book has a similar set up. Events are told through various viewpoint characters, one in each time period. This time the story is more straightforward. It’s the tale of a war between two groups of immortals, told as they intersect with a woman and affect her throughout her life. It’s beautifully written, with great characters, but was confusing in places and some of its more out-there concepts don’t hold up to scrutiny. I liked it, even if it’s not as good as Cloud Atlas.

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Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey.

This is the fifth installment in The Expanse series, and, I think, one of the best. Ordinarlily the way these books are structured you get the central viewpoint of James Holden, Captain of the Rocinante, along with several other characters who are usually only around for one book. This time the other viewpoints are from the other members of the Rocinante’s crew, as they take off in separate corners of the solar system to deal with personal matters. Eventually, though, events collide cataclysmically, and they find themselves pulled back together again, fighting to become one crew once more. There are severa, major events that will change the series going forward. It might be my favorite book of the series so far.

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Armada by Ernest Cline

I ,loved Ready Player One, and its deep dive through pop culture, and this does a similar thing here. A teenage video game expert finds himself recruited into a cosmic war, discovering world-shaking secrets along the way. If it sounds a little like The Last Starfighter, that’s addressed in a clever way. It’s good, even if it seems a little shallow at times. It doesn’t let characterization get in the way of a good space battle, and I found the climax a little predictable.

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The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu

This is the secret to the Hugo-award-winning Chinese novel The Three Body Problem,¬†which I absolutely loved. This book? Has some problems. It details the preparations for a coming interstellar way over the course of two centuries. There are a couple of conceits that don’t make a whole lot of sense, and I had big problems understanding the way the conflict was ultimately resolved. It also has a problem with its female characters. They’re either ciphers offered as prizes to the main characters, or subordinates with little agency. Maybe that’s a cultural thing. I enjoyed this book and will read the concluding volume of the trilogy. It might make more sense if I read it again. It could just be me.

I read several other books, but these are the Four I wanted to talk about. Currently reading the new Jim Butcher Steampunk thing, which is good so far. Interested in what you guys have read recently. Leave your picks in the comments ….

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Posted by on October 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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One-sentence reviews of movies I have seen lately.

For most of these, this would have been an improvement.

Children of Men — The nativity crossed with the apocalypse, of course i loved it.

Monsters vs. Aliens — AWESOME! (no really, that’s it, it’s not even an ironic “awesome!”)

Coraline — Gaiman’s version of Alice in Wonderland, gorgeous and life-affirming in that way Gaiman always is, but that you never really expect him to be.

Watchman — Took an original work and stuffed so much of it onto the screen that it TOTALLY RUINED IT, mostly because it got the spectacle, but missed the heart. (and once again, sorry, Honey!)

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian — about what you would expect; Amy Adams as Amelia was a lot of fun.

Up — can’t comment. still. bawling.

Star Trek — Squeee! But I feel kind of dirty about it.

Race to Witch Mountain — The most boring story about aliens ever!

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs — Cute story, fun characters, animation kind of didn’t work for me, not sure why.

Charlie Bartlett — You had me at, “Meet the principal, Robert Downey Jr.”

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra — This is the kind of movie in which one character, without apparent irony, utters the exclamation, “Damn! That ninja’s fast!”

9 – Bury my heart at Joe-Ann’s fabrics.

Bride Wars — This spot sat here blank for a while while I thought about it, which I guess is it’s own review, isn’t it?

X-Men Origins: Wolverine — I’m glad I read so many negative comments because by the time I actually watched it, I found I really enjoyed it. Huh.

27 Dresses — Shouldn’t say this out loud, but I kind of want to be James Marsden when I grow up.

Fool’s Gold — Out of all the movies I’ve seen this year, this was one of them.

I love You, Man! — Relatable in a way that made me deeply, deeply afraid.

And that’s about all I can remember right now. Others, like HP:HBP I’ve already commented on, and there were many I meant to see, but haven’t yet (Terminator, 2012, Jennifer’s Body, Zombieland, Avatar, etc). And I guess that’s my “The year in cinema” post you have to write so you get your card stamped or they throw you out of the guild.

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2009 in culture

 

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