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  1. #1981
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Finished the third book in Steve McHugh's Hellequin series: With Silent Screams

    All in all, I like the series but it is definitely flawed.

    The first book (Crimes Against Magic) introduces the world in the context of the protagonist having lost his memory a few decades ago what happens as he needs to regain them to stop the bad guy of the book.

    I definitely like the magic system. Every mage can wield three types of magic, one from each of three schools (Fire or Water, Air or Earth, Blood or Necromancy). Learning one/being able to learn one locks them out of the opposite school. Similarly, mages generally aren't limited by the amount of magic they have stored and are instead limited by the amount they can safely use: Use too much magic and it takes over the mind and transforms them into a monstrocity.

    That basically sets things up to allow the protagonist, Nate, to be Wolverine meets Harry Dresden. He wields fire magic (because everyone, deep down, is a pyromaniac), air magic (which he uses to basically craft brass knuckles to let him hit harder), and blood magic (healing factor). And it works pretty well. The system justifies the urban fantasy "Noir-esque hero detective fights against overwhelming odds for a week straight" while still allowing for those "Crap, the protagonist needs to save the day without any magic. Oh no!!!" moments

    Also, I like the structure of the narrative. Each book alternates between the present and the past. First book was medieval times (I want to say the hundred years war), second book was the wild west, third book is 70s USA. Obviously, the narrative of the past has to do with who the baddy of the present is, but it also does a good job of explaining a lot of the concepts without feeling like exposition. The first book explains the limitations of magic and what werewolves are in the context of Nate explaining to his new friend that he is a werewolf. The second explains necromancy by showing a necromancer in action. And so forth.

    That being said, the shift between the first and second book kind of show that the author has a way to go. Pretty much the entire setting of the first book (outside of two characters) is scrapped (including what had the potential to be a very interesting recurring villain), and Nate somehow becomes a necromancer (probably because blood magic was deliciously squicky and McHugh realized he wanted a more noble protagonist). That being said, the baddies of the second book definitely work well and are wonderfully evil and horrifying, and it sheds a lot more light on what the deal with "Hellequin" is.

    The third book was a fun read, but it definitely feels like a pretty big misstep. A major character is suddenly introduced as one of Nate's best friends and a paragon of virtue, only to be depicted as a horrid asshole, then a paragon of virtue. Similarly, I can't help but think McHugh forgot about the whole "magic takes over the mind" angle as he missed a wonderful opportunity to play it up (Nate used magic in a place where magic is amplified and hard to turn off...) and it seems like he just completely forgot it existed. I realize he probably didn't want to use the same angle as the previous book, but even a simple "Wow, if I hadn't been training so hard to learn my Necromancy I would totally not be able to control this and would be transformed into a monster" would be appreciated. And too much of the plot is dependent on a lack of information to the reader AND the character, which is something I never like.

    That being said, I am still looking forward to the inevitable fourth.
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  2. #1982
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    I found the first Dresden File to be a bit shit. But, the writing and characterisation definately improves in the next couple of books. I ended up really enjoying the character and the stories. But... I only got about 5 books in. Really should continue.

  3. #1983
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    The Use and Abuse of History by Marc Ferro. It's pretty interesting seeing comparative historiography of different countries' history curriculum, but I think it is necessarily a bit shallow as it covers ~12 countries in a 350 page book. Still lots of food for thought.

  4. #1984
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    Also a collection of Lovecraft Stories which I'm finding hilarious as they are so over wrought and remind me of the Simpson's Treehouse of terror so much. Still jolly good fun though!

  5. #1985
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    Finally got started on Miles Cameron's The Fell Sword, which took me a while at first because I was all "Why is this introduction to his second book focusing on characters I don't recognise in a place this series has never been to? I don't like change! I'm scared!" plus the writing started out a little weak for my taste (sorta felt like a B-list knockoff of Guy Gavriel Kay's Sarantium Mosaic books), but then I pushed through it to the point where it explained why I should be interested and all of a sudden I was all "Oh! Oh, I see now. Oh, Christ, that's cool. That's very, very cool." So that's good.

    I tried the Kindle sample of the first of the Hellequin books since it was on sale the other month, but... sorry, just didn't grab me at all. Competent, inasmuch as I'm any judge, but I didn't see anything in the first two chapters to make me think it was going to be any more than generic grimdark urban fantasy with a sardonic hero.

    Oh, and one book I recently finished that's worth mentioning - picked up David Thomas' Ostland on the last Kindle sale and thought it was absolutely stunning. All you people who continually wonder why we don't get a blockbuster wargame from the Nazi perspective should really give it a shot. Based on a real-life detective in Nazi Germany who helped solve a notorious serial murder case but subsequently went on to become a war criminal in occupied Russia (some details and supporting characters made up but apparently an awful lot of it is pretty much true), I found it an absolutely fucking terrifying exploration of the question how "normal" people get sucked into something so overpoweringly horrible.

    A tangent, but it bears repeating for me what with 12 Years A Slave getting praised at the Oscars - while I haven't seen the film I'd stand by my opinion that the book is - for the most part - really, really god damned dull. Yes, obviously the things it describes are awful, the man showed more bravery and courage than I'll ever be called upon to display, he wasn't writing it for the amusement of sheltered white folks more than a century later, I'm not denying any of that... but for me the fact remains that there are books which present similarly horrific explorations of humanity's darker nature but do it in a far more nuanced, far more haunting and thought-provoking way, and they'll get ignored because of the one that got made into a critically acclaimed Hollywood film. Eh, such is life, I suppose, and it's not like having that film made doesn't do a whole lot of good. Pretty sure it does. But would I recommend 12 Years for any reason other than it being A Thing You're Supposed To Read? Christ, no.
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  6. #1986
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Xercies's Avatar
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    Finished Making Money, very schizophrenic plot to be honest doesn't really know what to focus on, the bank storyline that is I thought supposed to be the main plot gets sidelined by a lot of other things. Entertaining but I put it in the ok category for Pratchett and not one of his best and definitely not as good as Going Postal.

  7. #1987
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Read Jay Posey's "Three" the other day. It was okay. I definitely like the world (it is an after the fall setting where pretty much everyone is hooked up to the internet biologically and people augment themselves for Reasons), but it felt very underdeveloped. Also, the author spent way too long focusing on a character who probably won't have much to do with his overall arc.
    Overall: Okay, but I'll probably read the next book in the series when I am REALLY bored

    Then I caught up on comics for a few days because tonight I am starting...

    Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson. So, yay!
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  8. #1988
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    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    Then I caught up on comics for a few days because tonight I am starting...

    Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson. So, yay!
    Sigh... I have to wait til thursday.

  9. #1989
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    I am trying to read the collected works of Edgar Allan Poe but it's really tough. Half of the stories are just plain boring and it's even worse when he recycles his own ideas. The often needlessly verbose (think Lovecraft but more so) writing style does the rest. I guess it's another case of Seinfeld Is Unfunny. How unfortunate.
    to wound the autumnal city.

  10. #1990
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Serenegoose View Post
    Sigh... I have to wait til thursday.
    If its any consolation, Barnes and Noble UK (and probably other places) broke the street date and people have been reading since the middle of last week. From what I can tell online it looks like it started with people doing pre-orders just being given their books and moved on to outright stocking of shelves for walk-ins.
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  11. #1991
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    In the past few weeks, I've finished 2 books.

    Samurai and Knight by Zoran Stiperski, Yasuo Yamamoto and Đuro Njavro. It's a book which gives a quick survey of Japans history and culture and how it led to form their culture and mentality which made them one the most economically developed countries in the world. It's a interesting read but gets a bit repetitive. At the end of the book all of this is compared with the history, culture and modern economy of my own country Croatia and how we can learn from the Japanese. What I really find nice is that the Croatian, English and Japanese issue are all in one book.

    Where Keynes Went Wrong by Hunter Lewis. This is without any doubt one of the most interesting books about economics I've ever read. I seriously recommend it to anyone remotely interested in this topic. It explains the principles stated by Keynes that most world governments follow and why it causes constant bubbles and crashes. It gets really interesting at the middle where it starts to sound like a financial thriller, explaining what lead to the recent financial crashes and all the things connected to them. To be honest, some passages made my blood boil. I personally think every economics student should read this book so that all of Keynes'es illogical claims get refuted.
    But where did he come from, this fleck of spite in an abandoned paradise?

  12. #1992
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    I completed Fahrenheit 451 last week. The book seems to be a social commentary on the current times. I believe it was a social commentary at the time of its release as well. The future where the humans deem the written word to be a waste of time seems frighteningly close. I have a few friends that do not have a attention span to read anything more than a facebook comment. I believe they might actually have a phobia of books by now. I just hope they do not set my books to the 451 F temperature.

  13. #1993
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    Just finished wasp by Eric F. Russel
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wasp_(novel)

    Named for a situation where a wasp find itself inside a car causing the driver to lose control and crash the car, wasps are lone wolves in enemy planets who's sole purpose is to cause the local government lots of headache and wasted resources.

    The book is pretty humoristic, even when dealing with terrorists and totalitarian regimes. even though it set in the future, you wont find any brilliant technological ideas in the book, but its humor and good flow made it a book ill recommend any time.

  14. #1994
    Network Hub Koobazaur's Avatar
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    On a wholly different note, I've been reading Don Norman's The Design of Everyday Things which is both very interesting and informative. However, the author repeats himself way too much and tries to hammer the same points over and over instead of moving on sometimes.


    And in a never-ending attempting to make myself even more evil, I have also been reading Trout Ries's Positioning: The Battle for your Mind, a book on marketing. Lots of good and important points, but feels a little over-dramatic in places (like pinning a company's failures entirely on their name).
    Postmortem: one must die- Political narrative-adventure game playing an Agent of Death who must take ONE life that could change the fate of a conflict-torn Nation!

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  15. #1995
    Lesser Hivemind Node L_No's Avatar
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    Currently reading my way through an English translation of the most famous stories of Jules Verne. I bought the book in the States last year, but didn't get around to it until now. I just finished Five weeks in a Balloon and have started on Journey to the center of the earth.
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  16. #1996
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kelron's Avatar
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    Continued adventures in classic fiction:

    The Sound and the Fury was amazing. Hard going at first but as the narration got clearer I realised I understood more of the earlier story than I'd thought. Unforgettable characters and brilliant prose, essential reading for anyone. I picked up The Wild Palms from a charity shop for some more Faulkner, haven't read that yet.

    I read quite a lot more Fitzgerald. Tender is the Night, The Last Tycoon and a few short stories. Tender is the Night was excellent but quite long, the story seemed to meander a bit compared to the brevity of Gatsby.

    I enjoyed Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates, so thanks for that recommendation. I also read a few Jeeves and Wooster stories. They can get repetitive, but they're always funny and everything always ends well, unlike every other book I'm mentioning. I read a bit of Kafka too but barely made it to the end of The Metamorphosis. Really quite boring.

    Still on the reading list are Doctor Zhivago and Lord of the Flies. Right now I'm reading Stonemouth by Iain Banks. Shame we won't be getting anything more like this from him, I can barely put it down.

  17. #1997
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Finished Words of Radiance over the weekend

    I must say, it lived up to the hype. And it managed to include TWO scenes that are even more jaw-droppingly "Holy Shit" inducing awesome than when Kaladin said The Words in Way of Kings

    That being said, Sanderson did drop the ball a few times. A lot of lost opportunities (that will probably pop up as "deleted scenes" on his site, since they may have buggered the pacing) and one scene in particular that came across as very friendly banter but was apparently supposed to be incredibly passive aggressive whinging. Also, Sanderson still seems to be getting to grips with the grand story as it is kind of easy to forget the names of the more tertiary characters (for now), and I imagine I'll be spending some time at The Coppermind or whatever the wiki is. Not quite at Malazan levels of "Fuck you if you don't have a glossary handy", but enough that it was a bit annoying.

    And, much as Way of Kings was about Kaladin, this book is about Shallan. And it works REALLY well and she might very well be Sanderson's most interesting character to date. I am still more interested in the present-day Kaladin and Dalinar (and now Adolin) chapters, but Shallan is probably my favorite character, if that makes sense. Plus, I have a feeling she may be Sanderson's favorite character in the series since she is a scholar who spends a significant portion of her time giving Sanderson an excuse to write the PnP rulebook on how the magic system works. Not as blatant as it was in the Elantris book (possibly called Elantris...), but it is still clear that a lot of her scenes are just Sanderson grinning like a madman while getting an excuse to put the appendix in the main story.

    In fact, I REALLY hope George R R Martin reads these since they are a perfect example of the correct way to do the "two lines, lots of waiting" approach that has made me pretty much hate Daenarys. Shallan and Jasnah really had no impact on the plot of Way of Kings (outside of The Reveal), but it never felt like Sanderson was wasting time as all the little things were CLEARLY going to be important. And same thing here: Much of the chapters about Jasnah and Shallan still don't really factor into the main plot of the book, but they are clearly VERY important and don't at all feel like filler.

    Similarly, Sanderson did a great job with Adolin. In Way of Kings he just felt like a whiny brat. Words of Radiance still makes him seem like a whiny brat, but a fundamentally good one that you can't help but like.

    That being said, I do have one big complaint and that is that it looks like Sanderson is going for a love triangle between Kaladin, Shallan, and Adolin which makes sense and should be interesting, but just feels shoe-horned in as a way to appeal to a new market.

    Now on to The Fell Sword by Miles Cameron (aka Christian Cameron). Yay. GOOD month for books.
    Ha ha. Fun fact, it was Cameron with a bow VS The Red Knight that inspired me to give the first book a shot. And now http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNG1i...VYJgOGOj52LEn3
    Last edited by gundato; 17-03-2014 at 02:39 PM.
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  18. #1998
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    i am planning as of now to read book of tyrael :D

  19. #1999
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    Been on a Phillip K. Dick kick this last week or so. They are rather short so I finished The Man In The High Castle and Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep and am starting on The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldrich.

    Absolutely loved High Castle, could not stand Electric Sheep as looks like it was one of his rushed works and the prose is mind-numbingly painful with a only a few decent paragraphs thrown in to save it. Stigmata looks promising.

  20. #2000
    Lesser Hivemind Node eRa's Avatar
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    Just finished the Dune series by Frank Herbert. The last time I read it I remember being annoyed by the huge cliffhangers at the end. But now Frank Herbert's son has published two follow-ups based on notes of his father (Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune).

    Did anyone here read those two books? Are they worth it?

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