Wednesday, June 16, 2010

8/26 The Verdant Passage by Troy Denning

I started reading this book because it took place in the Dark Sun world of D&D. I never played in it or read much about it, but then I read an article that made me think I'd like to learn more.

This was a world in which everyone was tough, it was a desert world. I figured this would be cool because it would be like Dune, and who doesn't like Dune? :)

Anyway, I guess this book has promise. It's book 1 of 5, and it was a nice short read.. About some gladiators who escaped from some slave pens, hook up with a senator (who happens to be a psionic dude), and they plot to kill the evil tyrant king, Kalak, who is trying to turn himself into a Dragon via magic and psionics by absorbing the life force of 10000 people. Whew, what a mouthful. The book is somewhat predictable.

I'm not sure where the second book is going to go, but the characters aren't especially deep or anything. It's an easy read so I might still go ahead and borrow the second book from the library.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

swingbeat: 6/26 Coraline by Neil Gaiman

This is a book for young adults, and it reads pretty easily (like Harry Potter). It's a bit creepy and dark, but it's not a horror by any means.

Coraline is a girl who moves into a new apartment in the middle of nowhere. She's pretty bored and wants to find things to do. Her parents ignore her, and she has no friends. Coraline meets some old folks

in the building, but they're too weird for her (but they help her for part of the rest of the story). And then she discovers a locked door in that house. She enters that door and discovers a dark parodied

version of her current world, with an "other mother" and "other father" who try to get her to stay in that world.

The story is about her discovery of the evil in that other world, and how she escapes and stops the adversary.

This is a good book - I intend to see the movie now :).

Monday, January 11, 2010

swingbeat: 5/26 Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

This book takes place in the world of American Gods, also by Neil Gaiman. It starts with the tale of Fat Charley. Fat Charley has a father who has torturingly embarrassed him all his life, and then dies.
In the aftermath of his father's death, Fat Charley discovers that his father was Anansi the Spider God, and he has a brother named Spider (unbeknownst to him). He accidentally calls on his brother, and all
sorts of havoc ensues.
This is a lighthearted tale written in a style reminiscent of Douglas Adams, though the author doesn't try to be Douglas Adams. Anansi is a fun Spider God (look him up on Wikipedia) who has many tales that
remind me of Aesop's fables, and this aloofness carries over into the writing.
I recomme

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

swingbeat: 4.2/26 The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch by Neil Gaiman and Michael Zulli

Another hardcover graphic novel. A somewhat fantastical tale based on a short story by Gaiman.

Basic plot summary - man meets friends, who introduces him to Miss Finch. All four go to the circus. Except it's a weird circus that is somewhat dark, but still within the realm of possibility. Then at some point, Miss Finch departs (I won't explain how).

I'm not sure how I feel about it. It was OK, but I feel like I'm missing something here. If someone wants to pick it up and ping me, I'd like to talk about it. Couldn't find any deconstruction of it on the web, including Wikipedia.

swingbeat: 4.1/26 Violent Cases by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean

OK, this is a ".1" because it's really a short graphic novel. It's a tale of a young boy's experiences with Al Capone's osteopath. I know, kinda random, but pretty good. The artwork was grey and dreary, somewhat dreamlike/foggy (it's supposed to be a man's memories of his experiences as a kid), and for some reason it made an impression on me, since when I woke up in the middle of the night, I felt fearful, as if I were in the graphic novel itself. I know, scary huh? :)

BTW the title is a kid's recollection of "violin cases" - that is, what Capone's men used to hold their tommy guns.

swingbeat: 4/26 Dreamsongs II by George R. R. Martin

Back on my GRRM kickā€¦ This book is a mostly enjoyable set of short stories. I've read some of them before, in various books I've reviewed here. However, they were enjoyable to read a second time (especially because I forgot the stories :) ).

That said, the highlight of this book was "The Hedge Knight" for me.. This was is a prequel to his current series "A Song of Ice and Fire", and I feel that in this genre he really shines. It got me nerded out and I started re-reading all the info on the series that I've forgotten on Wikipedia :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

swingbeat: 3/26: Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe by Simon Singh

This is another book by Simon Singh, I think the last one by him that I haven't read :). This book
describes the history of science from Greek days (Ptolemic geocentric solar system) to how that all
leads to our understanding of the origin of the universe. He takes the reader step by step, in
normal language (though there are some optional math equations if you really want to look at them),
and talks largely about the way various discoveries were made, as well as the political/historical
context in which they were discovered.
I've always liked Singh's writing style describing how things came to be, and this book is no
exception. I read this book in three days, and it would have been faster if I didn't have a kid :).

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Kayan : 1/26 : The Road by Cormac McCarthy

WARNING: DO NOT watch the movie trailer before reading this book. Your own envision of the story will most definitely be better than the film adaptation.

The Road tells the journey of a father and his son in a world where no hope and little life remains. They are "each the other's world entire."

And man oh man. Reading this book took a lot of WORK. I *DESPISED* the sentence structures from beginning to end - it drains me to read it. Examples:

p.15: "They were days fording that cauterized terrain."

p.215: "Out there was the gray beach with the slow combers rolling dull and leaden and the distant sound of it."

p.272: "In the nights sometimes now he'd wake in the black and freezing waste out of softly colored worlds of human love, the songs of birds, the sun."

It pains me just to type it out.

But for those willing to drudge through the cauterized terrain of this book, there is reward at the end. The story, the two characters, and the bond between them will stay with you for some time.

But Mr. McCarthy, did you have to make it so hard?!

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction - 2007

Thursday, December 03, 2009

swingbeat: 2/26: Trick or Treatment? by Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst

This is the third book by Simon Singh I've read, and he doesn't disappoint. It took me two days to read it.

A little background - Simon Singh wrote two other excellent books (The Code Book and Fermat's Enigma). He basically makes esoteric scientific topics understandable to the educated reader. In Trick or Treatment, he explains alternative medicine.

He starts off talking about clinical trials and why they are so important. I was going to skip this chapter but it surprisingly drew me in. From this basis, he then talks about trials of alternative medicine that have gone on. He talks in particular of: Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Herbal Medicine, and Homeopathy.

I won't give away what he talks about, but I recommend reading this book. It certainly educated me and opened my eyes on these topics.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Still reading!....?

Came across this list: 2009 Finalists for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize - which recognizes the power of literature to promote peace and nonviolence. Good source for promising reads!

- Kayan