book notes

Aug. 11th, 2015 08:03 am
chronovore: (sweater)
"Clarity is an overrated component of storytelling. James Ellroy’s The Big Nowhere, Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, and David Peace’s Nineteen Seventy-Seven are three of my favorite crime novels, and I don’t think I could explain their plots with a gun to my head.
What matters in crime fiction is feeling. It’s attitude, atmosphere, dialogue, mood. It’s the idea of one or more individuals going up against institutions of great power. It’s the idea that the underworld exists, right in front of you, all the time, and you just have to look."

Grantland, on True Detective's second season
chronovore: (sweater)
Just finished Joe Abercrombie's Red Country. I enjoyed it much, much more than Best Served Cold, which was my first novel by this author. Several characters from the latter appear in it, and they're welcome additions, but they're thankfully largely ancillary. It's like... okay, pardon me for nerding out here, but it's like being in an RPG and having the DM bring back the group's previous characters as adversaries. Or at least opposing forces.

This book had a similarly dark feeling to the Best Served Cold, but the characters were more likable and there were more chances to laugh. It was enjoyable to watch the way various stories intertwined, and how the various coincidences worked out (or didn't) for all the parties involved.

cut fer spoilerage )
chronovore: (sweater)
Earlier (wayyyy earlier) in this thread, I posted my disappointment in the Jim Butcher Storm Front novel, and someone posited that urban fiction is a stronghold of racist chauvinists. I thought that was a bit strongly worded, but now I'm reading Larry Correia's Monster Hunter Vengeance, which was a $1 download from Audible. He's using a mixed racial background as his protagonist, so I've been cutting him some slack, but between the strong gun-nut/anti-government/libertarian tones and now a pack of "urban" garden gnomes who ape black culture as comic relief, I'm finally seeing the pattern.

Is this really that common a theme?

How is it that it carries through the genre?
chronovore: (sweater)
I finally finished Best Served Cold, Abercrombie's stand-alone swords and soldiers and revenge book, set in the same world of his more famous book series, of which I've read none. Cormacaroni gave me the whole series, so I will read it, because everyone seems to agree that it's better than this. BSC was not bad by any measure, but the characters were not, by and large, likable, and the whole thing is either humorless, or so dry in its humor that it sailed past me. Except for the poisoner and Cosca. I liked it, but I'm going to wait a bit before starting The Blade Itself.

Just wrapping up Monster Hunter International. After enjoying the alternate history in Hard Magic so much, I figured MHI would be a slam dunk for popcorn fare. Instead, I feel like I'm reading through some gun-fan, fantasy-geek libertarian's wet dream. It's the story of a large, angry man who was trying really hard to fit into normal society after a long dark history of fringe violence (illegal street fighting, bouncing) but turns out that he's not meant to be an accountant, and instead finds a group of licensed monster hunters (HENCE THE TITLE) who share his repressed need to enact violence, also love their guns (but he's just a little bit better than they are), and accept him for who he is! Also, dispersions are cast against the government at just about every turn. The main character also falls for a girl who is going out with the badass Camaro jerkface captain of his group, who she can't see is just a prideful asshole Who is Afraid of The Main Character.

Yeah... NONE of this was present in the Hard Magic book, which was a lot more fun and felt much less like one long Freudian slip. I'll continue reading the latter series, but I may be done with MHI.


Jan. 28th, 2013 03:52 pm
chronovore: (sweater)
Finished Scalzi's Redshirts. It was quite good, though the last 1/3 of it felt too long, a bit philoso-wankery, and self-indulgent. By the time it wrapped up entirely, I saw where it was going, and the book's meaning is good, relevant, and a little bit overly hammered home. Wheaton's reading of the book is perfect, and his casting as a formerly-loathed-character-turned-beloved-geek is a stroke of genius.

Currently listening to the first Dresden Files book, Storm Front. It's a first-person, urban fantasy noir novel, following the first-person format of those old crime novels to a T, so it's not clear if all the sexy ladies in it are because Jim Butcher is sexist, or if the character Harry is just prone to only noticing pretty women, or if Butcher is just following that particular noir trope without updating it for modern times. This is read by James Marsters of "Buffy" fame, and he does quite well with the material.
chronovore: (Default)

J. K. Rowling - By the Book -

With all of their benefits, and there are many, one of the things I regret about e-books is that they have taken away the necessity of trawling foreign bookshops or the shelves of holiday houses to find something to read.
chronovore: (Default)

I was unprepared for enjoyable The New Republic is.

It would be bad form to omit that I’m listening to the unabridged audiobook version, which I only bought because it was on special this month on iTunes, and my commute has recently expanded from 15 minutes to 75. The other book I picked up based on the price criteria was a massive disappointment, so I was ready for more unhappiness. Happily, that prediction was wrong.

Before sitting down to write this, I made the mistake of glancing at some of the other reviews, and am surprised at how harshly the work is being judged. Admittedly, I’ve not yet finished the book, but I’m on its downward slope and am still enjoying the ride intensely.

The story is told from the perspective of Edward Kellogg, a man driven by his anger over his own perpetual second-place status. It has resulted in a need to tear down his own former heroes, to which he applies his considerable reason and intelligence, only to find that it doesn’t balm his own self-hatred, only temporarily distract from it. Edward couches every thought, every effort, in his own covetous intent. Edward wants nothing more than to be known, to be popular, unable to see that it is solely that desire which prevents him from achieving that goal.

The prose is crisp, mellifluous, and witty. A few times I have found myself barking laughter at a turn of phrase, and feeling joy at the surprise.

I’m not sanguine about Edward’s odds of discovering his problems, getting over himself, and growing… but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be fun to watch him cross the finish line – in second place again.

Note: The audiobook edition’s performance is very enjoyable. Edoardo Ballerini does not miss a beat, shifting voice and tone between each character without resorting to caricature. I may end up looking for other books read by Ballerini.
chronovore: (Default)
I guess in celebration of the movie coming out, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter audiobook was on sale for US$5.95 on iTunes.


I should have known better, I really should. To some degree, it may have been better if it had not been an audiobook. For instance, I've been looking for audiobooks read by Alan Rickman or Tim Curry. Instead, whomever was reading this book would break halfway into a "Pepperidge Farm remembers!" tone of voice for Abe whenever something had to be read in character.

But, more than that, the book makes poor use of a couple of decent ideas, either by glossing over them, or bringing them to bear too late.

I'd started off pretty excited about the movie, and now I'm not particularly hopeful there.
chronovore: (OMFG) / Science fiction and fantasy / Blog posts / Freebies Bonanza: a bunch of full books in various non-DRM'd formats, and bunches of wonderful fantasy art desktops are available for a limited time at Tor. Wow. Thanks [ profile] theothermichael!
chronovore: (mouthy)
Powell's Books - Review-a-Day - What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat by Louise Richardson, reviewed by Christian Science Monitor:
The United States can't win a war on terrorism, any more than it could win a war against armed robbery or tornadoes. What it can do is contain the threat to the nation caused by a specific group of terrorists: Islamist radicals.

To do so, it must strive to understand Al Qaeda and its ilk, and try to isolate them from communities which now give them tacit support. And it needs to have patience: Terrorist groups, even damaged ones, don't wither away quickly.

In brief, these are among the main conclusions of Louise Richardson's concise and illuminating new book What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat. If you think the application of academic terrorism research to today's policy problems sounds interesting, this volume could be for you.

Not that Richardson is dispassionate. The Bush administration might even call her partisan. She considers both the overt declaration of war on terrorism and the invasion of Iraq to be disasters in the context of fighting Osama bin Laden.

"Governments are invariably placed under enormous pressure to react forcibly and fast in the wake of a terrorist attack," she writes. "This response is not likely to be most conducive to long-term success against terrorists."

Richardson is one of the relative handful of experts who have been studying the history and practice of terrorism since the cold war.

Born in Ireland to Catholic parents, she experienced the seductive nature of terrorist groups at an early age. From the society she grew up in, she learned a remembered history of Ireland's long struggle with England that was full of heroes and villains, and was oversimplified to motivate the next generation. The facts didn't seem to matter so much.

After the Bloody Sunday massacre of 1972, in which 26 Irish protesters were shot by British troops in Derry, Northern Ireland, Richardson would have joined the IRA "in a heartbeat," she writes.

But she was only 14, and as she attended university and learned the real story behind some of her childhood myths, she became more interested in understanding terrorism than in joining it.
I may have to pick this up.
chronovore: (OMFG)
I'd heard that Steven Brust was writing a Firefly novel. I'd also heard that if it wasn't optioned to be printed as a dead-tree version, that he'd offer it as a fanfic. I am stunned to see that he has, in fact done so. (via [ profile] ferricide)
Word and PDF formats up now, under a CC license.
Other formats to follow.

oh, noes!

Dec. 5th, 2007 09:40 am
chronovore: (mouthy)
The Golden Compass, one of my favorite books. Sadly, the movie adaptation is currently at 38% at Rotten Tomatoes.


Nov. 19th, 2007 06:44 pm
chronovore: (magnum)
[ profile] slinka, Uncle Warren has your number:
Charlie Stross' new novel appears to largely be about robots fucking. I know a woman who'll buy it on that sole criterion.
chronovore: (Default)
Powell's Books - The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America by Susan Faludi, reviewed by Chicago Tribune:
"The entire edifice of American security had failed to provide a shield," Faludi observes in the introduction to The Terror Dream, and in "the all the disparate nightmares of men and women after 9/11, what accompanied the sundering of our myth of indomitability was not just rage but shock at that revelation, and, with the shock, fear, ignominy, shame." The media spit out mantras like "Everything has changed" and spoke of "the death of irony," an environment in which a "cacophony of chanted verities induced a kind of cultural hypnosis."

The mystery, suggests Faludi, is that the United States, "the last remaining superpower, a nation attacked precisely because of its imperial preeminence, responded by fixating on its weakness and ineffectuality." To state what is a sweeping and nuanced argument by her loosely and reductively here, it is that after 9/11 we have been re-enacting a 1950s Western, John Wayne-style, "cocooning ourselves in the celluloid chrysalis of the baby boom's childhood" while trying to evade the terrifying knowledge of our own vulnerability. [emphasis mine, full text at Review-a-Day]
chronovore: (mouthy)
Powell's Books - Review-a-Day - Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States by Trita Parsi, reviewed by New York Review of Books
In his continuing effort to bolster support for the Iraq war, President Bush traveled to Reno, Nevada, on August 28 to speak to the annual convention of the American Legion. He emphatically warned of the Iranian threat should the United States withdraw from Iraq. Said the President, "For all those who ask whether the fight in Iraq is worth it, imagine an Iraq where militia groups backed by Iran control large parts of the country."

On the same day, in the southern Iraqi city of Karbala, the Mahdi Army, a militia loyal to the radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, battled government security forces around the shrine of Imam Hussein, one of Shiite Islam's holiest places. A million pilgrims were in the city and fifty-one died.

The US did not directly intervene, but American jets flew overhead in support of the government security forces. As elsewhere in the south, those Iraqi forces are dominated by the Badr Organization, a militia founded, trained, armed, and financed by Iran. When US forces ousted Saddam's regime from the south in early April 2003, the Badr Organization infiltrated from Iran to fill the void left by the Bush administration's failure to plan for security and governance in post-invasion Iraq.

In the months that followed, the US-run Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) appointed Badr Organization leaders to key positions in Iraq's American-created army and police. At the same time, L. Paul Bremer's CPA appointed party officials from the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) to be governors and serve on governorate councils throughout southern Iraq. SCIRI, recently renamed the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), was founded at the Ayatollah Khomeini's direction in Tehran in 1982. The Badr Organization is the militia associated with SCIRI. [full review]
chronovore: (Default)
Exclusive excerpts from 'Zeroville' - Entertainment News -
On Vikar's shaved head is tattooed the right and left lobes of his brain. One lobe is occupied by an extreme close-up of Elizabeth Taylor and the other by Montgomery Clift, their faces barely apart, lips barely apart, in each other's arms on a terrace, the two most beautiful people in the history of the movies, she the female version of him, and he the male version of her.

This is the summer of 1969, two days after Vikar's 24th birthday. He's been in Los Angeles an hour, after a six-day bus trip from Philadelphia, and eats a French dip sandwich at Philippe's. A hippie nods at Vikar's head. "Dig it, man. My favorite movie."

"I believe it's a very good movie," Vikar agrees.

"Love that scene at the end. There at the Planetarium."

Vikar stands and in one motion brings the food tray up --

-- and then crashing down on the blasphemer across the table. He catches the napkin, floating like a parachute, in time to wipe his mouth. " 'A Place in the Sun,' George Stevens," Vikar says to the fallen man, pointing at his own head, "NOT 'Rebel Without a Cause,'" and strides out.


Aug. 12th, 2007 12:05 am
chronovore: (NSFW)
A subtly different kind of Harry Potter spoiler.

Not safe for work.
Not actually a spoiler.
Harry, as such, does not appear.
chronovore: (Default) Bookstore's Blog: interview with William Gibson on his upcoming Spook Country Did you feel obligated to change it?

Gibson: In some cases. The Vancouver stuff is less one-on-one than the Manhattan stuff, for instance. The places, the restaurants are in different neighborhoods, things like that. The New York stuff I somehow stuck closer to the real thing. The New York stuff is more googleable. Yeah, everybody knows New York, every inch of it.

: You can google it at a higher resolution.
chronovore: (Default)
A Piece Of CROOKED LITTLE VEIN: on [ profile] warren_ellis
I found that I had to kind of limbo into my car, leaning back and almost heaving my hideous genital weight in ahead of me.
With the car door shut and my scrotum on my lap, I sighed, switched the car radio on, and settled down to wait for Trix. Looking at my watch. Looking out the window. Wondering exactly how long it took to inflate a woman’s labia until they passed as gonads. Minutes crawled. (more)
chronovore: (OMFG)
Twenty Sided » DM of the Rings I:The Copious Backstory (via hiddenjester xposted to [ profile] gameblather ):
Lord of the Rings is more or less the foundation of modern D&D. The latter rose from the former, although the two are now so estranged that to reunite them would be an act of savage madness. Imagine a gaggle of modern hack-n-slash roleplayers who had somehow never been exposed to the original Tolkien mythos, and then imagine taking those players and trying to introduce them to Tolkien via a D&D campaign.
Make sure to check out the comic!


chronovore: (Default)

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