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Messages - Wilshire

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1
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2020
« on: October 14, 2020, 01:58:56 pm »
Zippy one-liners is about as much as I can do for a book review ;) I'd never survive attempting to make a blog of  my thoughts, but todays world of information quanta spread thinly over multiple platforms, I might be OK.

Crib Sheets by Emily Oster (31)
A baby/parenting book. Emily Oster is an amazing writer and very good at portraying deep research in a digestible fashion. Very helpful. I highly recommend Oster to anyone looking for baby related books. There's tons of information, explanations of data and when it is/isn't good, plus she manages to be humors while doing it.

2
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2020
« on: October 05, 2020, 12:44:38 pm »
1984 by George Orwell (30)
This is an amazing book, even today some 70 years after it was published in 1949.  Orwell lays out a fascinating that is disturbingly similar to the direction things are going in 2020. That's not to say there's a worldwide government spying on us all the time, but the functionality of the society Orwell imagined never seems too far from the truth. If you've not read it, do yourself a favor. 1984 is well written, with interesting characters, but as is typical of older SF the main thrust of the novel is not the worldbuilding or characterization, but the central ideas and themes.

For a novel about the perpetual and permanent triumph of absolute evil, it is surprisingly enduring - and endearing.  I've claimed this is one of my favorite books for a long time, but had only read it once more than 12 years ago. I'm glad, after this reread, that my memory hadn't been wrong, and that it still holds its own against the hundreds of books I've read since. The writing is crisp, the world vivid, the prose stark without being overly plain. The ideas in 1984 still inspire profound thoughts about the way the world works today, and provides a bare roadmap for potholes and pitfalls we ought to avoid as the future continuously approaches on the horizon.

3
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2020
« on: September 30, 2020, 12:34:47 pm »
Caine Black Knife by Matthew Stover (27)
This is an amazing book. The best in the series, imo (and I waited to write this until I had finished Caine's Law so I would say that unequivocally). This book is fascinating given the rest of the series. A lot more self reflection for Caine, as well as some look back into his post-school, pre-fame, years. It is a much shorter book the Blade of Tyshall, mostly because it deals with a much shorter timeline. This small framework spends less time with Caine kicking everyone's ass, and more time with plot and character development - something I think this series needed. If you've invested the time into reading the first two books, with worth continuing.

Caine's Law by Matthew Stover (28)
This one is closer to business as usual, though it seems Stover continues his writing development. There is a deeper concern with philosophy in Caine's Law than previous books, and some entertaining discussions about temporality of Gods (and how that fucks with everything). Overall its a fun conclusion to Acts of Caine, though I suspect not the one most people were expecting. Worth the read.

Dragon's Flight (Pern 1) By Anne McCaffery (29)
I mostly read this one on a whim due to its previous popularity, and also dragons (who doesn't like scifi dragons?). It was ... just ok. Not bad, but plain. Not dull, but predictable. Also, there's an aspect of timetravel, which gets strange real quick, and coming from finishing Caine's Law it felt a bit absurd. The writing got better from start to end, which makes me have some hope that the series gets better, so maybe someday in the future I'll give it another shot. Probably its a fine book for someone looking for a simpler, feel good story about the good overcoming the bad.

4
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2020
« on: August 31, 2020, 11:16:50 pm »
So August was a slow month, only got to one more, but hey it was a non-fiction (which I actually finished) so maybe that counts for something?

Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids Who Thrive by Peter M. Vishton (26)

The title is a bad start - "scientific secrets" is just a dumb hook, and "thrive" I suspect will be a buzz word I will come to despise. Despite that, it was a very interesting book. More like a series of 20 TED talks, each was pretty informative for the aspiring parent. He does a good job explaining current science, reasoning behind it (ie tests, which ones, how many, if they're any good), but also opposition arguments and potential confounding variables. Good for your average person wanting to understand things, rather than simply being told right or wrong, or being given a simple rule list to follow.

I think I'll try to finish out Acts of Cain. Cain Black Knife could be interesting. But also I got the 'first' (publication order) Pern book in a bogo, so maybe I'll do that instead... We'll see.

5
The Unholy Consult / Re: Bakker, font sizes and the ultimate mic drop
« on: August 19, 2020, 10:50:59 pm »
Bakker uses font styling to great affect throughout. Its something that I think many authors just don't bother with and its one more reason why TSA are great books (and incidentally, why I think the audiobooks might generous be described as bad, if not terrible).

So for Final Page shenanigans - possible. I would suspect that it's something closer to a correspondence of cause and/or the world conspiring.

6
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2020
« on: August 04, 2020, 06:01:13 pm »
The Powder Mage Trilogy by Brian McClellan, including Promise of Blood (23), The Crimson Campaign(24), and The Autumn Republic(25).

I am am heartbroken I didnt enjoy this series more. Promise of Blood was a brilliant book the first time around, and I reread it before going into the next two. On the second read, it felt a bit more shallow, though still a great book. Unfortunately, the sequels didn't hold up. Its still a good story, but the main characters are simply too powerful. They are given special powers, with no explanation, and to such a degree that other character comment on it. At first I though this was some kind of meta-commentary by the author, but since it never leads anywhere it leaves me feeling a bit confused.

Again, the first book is good, maybe even great. However it is actually cheapened by the sequels. They seem to rehash the same old ground every time, feeling very redundant. The books all open in very similar ways, the characters encounter functionally identical  threats that all end in the same way. In works very well in book 1, but rehashing it twice more is just disappointing.

Before I picked these up, I thought there were only 3 books, but there are actually something like 6 now, all various forms of prequels set before and during the three main books. I'm actually still tempted to read them, with the hope that McClellan covers some new ground and actually goes deeper into worldbuilding.

And maybe that's the rub. There's this big world out there. He's got religion, politics, wars, gods, armies, command structures, gangs, police forces, worker's unions, monarchies, savages, a handful of different kids of diametrically opposed magics... There's just so much there to explore. So many ways the story could have been fleshed out. Instead, what you get is a couple of quick army campaigns with some flavor thrown in for interest, but I'm left wanting more.

Such potential left untapped, Brian McClellan has the potential of a great writer. I do encourage everyone to read Promise of Blood, despite the sequels, as it is by itself quite a fun read.

7
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2020
« on: July 29, 2020, 11:20:25 am »
TTH is definitely Erikson in top form. 12 years seems about right for rereading a Malazan book - though its one of my favorite series its not something I see myself picking up anytime soon - but its only been 3 years.

And yeah, I agree with you on Donaldson. My personal guess is that back in the 70/80's (which is a time period that I dislike most of the books anyway) he stood out as unique, but his stuff really has not aged well (like many books from that period).

8
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2020
« on: July 23, 2020, 07:04:37 pm »
Uprooted by Naomi Novik (22)

I read this one because I got it as a gift due to a mixup from a kickstarter.  pretty good book, though honestly nothing to write home about. The magic is fun and very "real" feeling. Maybe 'natural' is a better term - forest magic. Anyway, its fun, if a pretty standard story about an evil wood, an old wizard, and his young apprentice. A fine YA book, if that's what its labeled as. Recommended, though not if you're looking for something dark and gritty.

9
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2020
« on: July 20, 2020, 03:08:33 pm »
Found some cheap books for sale on audible, so I grabbed a few at random. Can't say I was overly impressed but it wasn't a total waste of time in most cases.

The Road by Cormic McCarthy
Not a fan of this bloke. Hated Blood Meridian, thought I'd give Road a go, and stopped about 15% in. Just not for me.

The Theft of Swords by Michael J Sullivan (17)
A pretty standard fantasy, which is to say that its entirely skippable. Generic plot and bland characters in a flat and uninspiring world.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (18)
Surprisingly good. Its a heist book, which can be pretty hit or miss, but Bardugo did a good job with the world and the characters. Bits of magic sprinkled throughout, and I'm not sure why this got labeled as YA - its dark, and one of the characters removes a guys eye with an oyster knife. If this is YA ... "kids these days".

The Vine Witch by Luanne G Smith (19)
Not sure what to call this. Maybe a fantasy romance? the "vine witches" are mages that live in france in the 1900s and are viticulturists. An interesting use of magic use to describe wine making, with some sub plot romance. It was a fun quick book.

Off to Be The Wizard by Scott Meyer (20)
A scifi/fantasy where a kid discovers he can change reality by editing a .txt file be found on some old server. Goes back in time for magical shenanigans. It was OK, definitely trying to be funny and mostly succeeding, though it was ultimately a very small book without any grand ideas.

Minimum Wage Magic Rachael Aaron (21)
Urban fantasy set in the future, where Detroit was blown up via magic and rebuilt by some deity. A clever little book following a magical crime scene cleaner. Another suprisingly interesting fantasy book, though I don't think I'll be reading any sequels.






10
Philosophy & Science / Re: Why Hasn't Evolution Invented the Wheel?
« on: July 05, 2020, 04:40:36 pm »
I mean, I feel like the reason is because wheels kinda suck as a form of locomotion? When would wheels be better than multiple, articulated, terrain-adaptable limbs (which usually double as a gripping mechanism, self-defense, interacting with the environment, climbing, masturbation, etcetera). Long story short, wheels are overrated.
I like that lol.

11
News/Announcements / Re: Scheduled Downtime
« on: July 03, 2020, 07:05:48 pm »
Can anybody go through the available admin panels and look for the settings that control all that? It's likely that they are there, it sounds like something that should be customizable.

I'm working on combing the html, or whatever it is, to see if I can find something about character limits for posts/messages/etc. No luck so far.

12
General Misc. / Re: Board Games and Miniatures
« on: June 16, 2020, 12:40:15 pm »
Sounds awesome. I'd probably be up for a round! Would be fun to try it out.

TH: That's a sweet set of games. Gloomhaven is something I wish I could play but dont have the friends to play it. Terraforming Mars is amazing, Sythe is a ton of fun, and I've won my fair share of Viticulture games.

13
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2020
« on: June 12, 2020, 07:14:45 pm »
Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike (12)
Kind of a silly book, but its a satire so I guess its fine. Not my first choice, but filled with allusions to other works which makes it pretty amusing if you're familiar. Also some basic exploration of economics in a fantasy setting, which is unique, and a nice take on some aliments that might affect heroes. Altogether it was a fine book if your looking for something short and simple with a lot of humor.

The Raven's Tower by Ann Leckie (13)
This was a great book. Split into two timelines which might be described as 'current' and 'past'. The Current timeline is a retelling of Hamlet, apparently, and done quite well. Very enjoyable. The Past is a story giving the history of the world and the life of a god. I enjoyed the prose and the setting, and the perspective of the God telling the story. Both parts of the story were interesting, and told woven together, painting a nice picture of everything as the story progressed. I recommend this one from Leckie, probably enjoyed it more than her scifi.


This is How You Lose The Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (blue/red respectively)  (14)
A scifi epistolary novel. How about that. Unique, and a fantastic read, written as letter correspondence between two agents on opposing sides of a war fought through time and space. A unique premise, well executed, and full of references/allusions to everything from art to shakespear, scifi and opera. Another one I heartily recommend if you're looking for a quick read.


An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard  (15)
This has been on my shelf since it came out a few years ago (received for free via Subterranean Press' email for being the first to respond). I'd have to say, it deserves the accolades it got and the advertisement that SP was doing for it. Kat Howard built a tidy little novel here. Urban fantasy, hidden wizard world (modern times), going through some kind of magical tournament to decide the ruler of the hidden world. While fairly generic sounding, the magic is done and described beautifully, and the novel is as long as it needs to be. It does drag on unnecessarily, it doesn't have sequels, and it ends before it gets stale. Everything is balanced nicely from prose to worldbuilding and characterization. Another good one to recommend.


To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers  (16)
Another amazing book. This is a hard scifi, ie no magic masquerading as technology (beyond a machine that can induce a coma and a spaceship engine that can travel between stars slowly), it details the journey of 4 scientists exploring exoplanets around other stars. Its a beautiful exposition of prose and description. Alien worlds being gently explored by very realistic feeling characters. Highly recommended.

14
Introduce Yourself / Re: Greetings!
« on: May 26, 2020, 12:33:51 pm »
Awesome! Welcome to the forum. You're definitely in the right place.

FWIW, I listen to a lot of audiobooks, and must unfortunately say that TAE (or at least TUC) are pretty poorly done. I can't bring myself to listen to them, so its been a while since I've done a series reread.


15
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2020
« on: May 26, 2020, 12:29:48 pm »
Blade of Tyshalle by Matthew Stover (11)

This was a really good book. A bit strange right now to be reading a book set (partially) in Earth future where a pandemic directed the course of human history. Stover explores a lot of the same themes as Bakker throughout his books, and does a good job all around. The two worlds he has built (Future Earth and Overworld) are both well imagined. The intertwined histories are explored more in this sequel, and the woldbuilding for both is interesting. His writing is compelling, though I think  at this point in my reading career a lot of the "horror" elements kind of just pass by. Theres only so many times you can read descriptions of rotting corpses and dying men before they all kind of run together. The writing seemed to improve between the books, not that the first one was bad, so I'm definitely going to keep Stover near the top of my list. I'm looking forward to continuing this series and his other books, and highly recommend him to anyone looking for a good fantasy to read.

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