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Books you've read in 2011


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#1 of 57 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted January 09 2011 - 05:40 AM

You got your books for Christmas (or Hannakuh or Kwanzaa or Solstice or Festivus...), this last year. Or the book you never read last year, or the year before, but you're getting to it this year. Or those books you're buying on your new Kindle, Nook, or iPad. Regardless of whether you're reading on computers or cuniform, here's the thread to tell us about it, talk about it, and get recommendations for future reading.


For past reference:

Books you've read in 2010
Books you've read in 2009
Books you've read in 2008
Books you've read in 2007



#2 of 57 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted January 09 2011 - 05:43 AM

In the 2010 discussion, someone commented on The Passage by Justin Cronin. It went on my wishlist, I forgot about it, and then got it for Christmas. I finished it last night.


That was something. I don't have time to discuss it just now; I'll be back. But I recommend it to any fan of fiction, sci-fi, epic-horror (not grisly gruesome, but monsters in the shadows), and Lost.

And I hope that there is a sequel. Soon.



#3 of 57 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted February 07 2011 - 11:42 AM

Astro City: The Dark Ages. Book 1, by Kurt Busiek

I love Astro City. I've wondered and waited for 16 years (give or take) what happened to the Silver Agent, that brought his demise, that shamed the city, that lead to so many allusions throughout Astro City stories. Now I know. And I can't wait for Book 2 to come to trade paperback so I can buy that, and conclude this Astro City saga, and have the Silver Agent story complete.


The Confession , by John Grisham

This is Grisham like you remember him: taut, detailed, and driven. Good, legal-drama fun.


The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

Rivoting young-adult literature. If you liked The Shadow Children, by Haddix, this is a must-read (buy the trilogy, and be done with it). If you're a fan of youth literature or just great sci-fi-ish action drama, this is marvelous. I'm halfway through the second book now, and it's every bit as good. Looking forward to seeing where this trilogy takes me!


Agent to the Stars, by John Scalzi

This recent release, the sixth book of his I've bought, is actually his first. (That tale is also amusing, in the foreword.) It's his lightest, breeziest book so far, and great fun as all his other books are. It's sci-fi, in that it involves space aliens. And probes. It's also a "Hollywood" book, dealing with a Talent Agent and the dealings of showbiz. It's also It's also a light meditation on human nature and overcoming biases. Recommended for anyone wanting a fun and quick read.


In the queue: The Innocent Man by Grisham. I've tried to read this for three years now. I swear, I'm going to get it done! And Codex Alera, Book 3, by Jim Butcher. When those are done, I've got to start my non-fiction from Christmas.



#4 of 57 OFFLINE   Paul D G

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Posted February 07 2011 - 07:20 PM

Busiek returned to Astro City?  I'll have to pick up those trades.  Being an Astro City fan was hard - you never knew when an issue would actually show up.  His health issues threw the series' schedule into chaos.


The Passage is intended to be a trilogy.



#5 of 57 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted February 08 2011 - 03:11 AM

Yep. There are at least three newish compilations: Local Heroes, Dark Ages 1, Dark Ages 2 (hard copy)

#6 of 57 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted February 11 2011 - 09:42 AM

It took three years and three tries, but I finally read Grisham's "The Innocent Man". An easy read; a plot affirming 'truth is stranger than fiction'. But its tragic core kept me away. Until now. Recommended.

#7 of 57 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted February 14 2011 - 03:22 PM

Continuing the "Books Dave's Read" ;) ... "Cursor's Fury", Jim Butcher Third book in the Codex Alera series; I've noted the previous two in last year's thread. If you're a fan of swords and sorcery fantasy, this is a great series (so far). Its a standard hero tale, following the patterns of the young boy, different from everyone else who must his unique strength despite seeming to be the weakest. But the details of the world of Alera, the magic, the politics, and the enemies keep it fresh. Very fun, fast reading.

#8 of 57 OFFLINE   Hugh Jackes

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Posted February 15 2011 - 01:44 AM

Got a Kindle for Christmas.  I'm now reading War and Peace. It's a whole lot easier when you don't have to tote around a 20-pound tome.


Infected, a Novel, by Scott Sigller was a very pleasant surprise. It was something that Stephen King's alter ego, Richard Bachman might have written.  The sequel, Contagious, was ok, but not quite as good.


I have learned that some pain cannot be healed, but must be endured. I believe our Higher Power will help us to endure and find peace. I loved the boy with the utmost love of which my soul is capable and he is taken from me-yet in the agony of my spirit in surrendering such a treasure, I feel a thousand times richer than if I had never possessed it."
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#9 of 57 OFFLINE   berter

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Posted February 16 2011 - 09:51 PM

thanks for information



#10 of 57 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted February 20 2011 - 03:44 PM

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8" -- comic book series.


My wife bought this monthly over its four-year run. I read along for the first 30ish issues, but lost interest and quit. The series finished this month, and the past week read the entire run as a complete work. I'm not a weekly comic reader. That is very clear. I enjoy buying compilations, as seen by my love of the Astro City books. Buffy confirms it: what lost my interest as a monthly was engaging start to stop read like a book.


•••


Buffy S8 is an odd duck. It continues the TV show from the conclusion of S6. Sane characters, same "universe", same "voices". But hand drawn. It's epic. It draws in all the major characters. It references the first episodes of the first season, many major turning points through the season and even bits of Angel. It introduces a new "Big Bad', who is ultimately not wholly satisfying.


Huge, huge spoiler here. Do not reveal unless you've read the comic or will never read it.



Ah, the drama of making a good guy be the bad guy, who's only being a bad guy to make the badness be gooder than if the bad guys were truly running the bad-guy show. It never works right. The good guy is still doing really bad things, killing innocents, and it's not at all apparent that he's doing any good at all. He's still a bad guy that takes off his mask at the end and "surprise, it's me! I was helping you but you didn't know it!"


And to make it Angel. That level if mixed competence I would better ascribe to Spike than Angel. It was just...weird. It didn't feel right.


And then two issues of forced narrative to explain and shoehorn in all the good-guy/bad-guy rationalization. That was the worst part of the comic.


It wasn't horrible. But it felt forced, a weak moment at a crucial part of the story.


And the true climax of the story ... I'm not sure it made any actual sense. But I liked the conflicted emotions towards it; there was an interesting ambivalence about what the "good" and "bad" side was.


But there was great Buffy-ness to it. I love Xander. Willow remains complex and interesting in her motivations. There was a brief, poignant callback to Tara, who was the single best romantic tragedy in the TV show. Giles, Faith, Dawn. All beloved characters. All their voices still true to their characters. Joss Whedon, at his best, knows how to tap into base emotions and get to a nearly primal storytelling level. I don't know this comic exceeded the best of the TV series, but it had some great moments.



#11 of 57 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted February 20 2011 - 04:59 PM

I have finally caught all the way up on the Sookie Stackhouse mysteries (all) just finishing Book 10 I believe recently.   I needed a laugh, so I went back and re-read "You Suck, A Love Story" and "Bite Me", Christopher Moore's fantastic vampire stories from a totally different angle.

I whipped through Orson Scott Card's "Lost Gate" (I will basically buy/read anything he writes), but this book was good, not great. The concept is interesting, but it moves in some jerks of writing that run from really great stuff to a story that you feel like you've heard a few times


I am currently just starting "Tropic of Cancer"  it's a book I've never read, but always thought I should get around to.   So, there you go.


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#12 of 57 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted February 22 2011 - 02:48 AM

Matt,

Have you read OSC's "Lost Boys"? I got the audiobook from the library, assuming it was another sci-fi story from OSC. But a few chapters in, and it's surprisingly mundane subject matter compared the "Ender's Game" books I've read by Card. Interesting so far, but a far cry from the sci-fi philosophy I associate with him.



#13 of 57 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted February 22 2011 - 03:40 AM



Originally Posted by Hugh Jackes 

Got a Kindle for Christmas.



Same here. So far, I've read "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" and Bram Stoker's "Dracula" on the new Kindle. I am currently re-reading the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" 5-part trilogy Posted Image, which was only $10 at the Kindle store. I just started the final book -- "Mostly Harmless". While I have listened to the BBC radio broadcasts over the past few years (I own the CD's), it has been many years since I read the books.


Next up will probably be "The Girl Who Played With Fire", although I have about 40 books downloaded to the Kindle -- almost all free either from the Kindle store or as titles now in the public domain.



#14 of 57 OFFLINE   Malcolm R

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Posted February 22 2011 - 06:30 AM



Originally Posted by Scott Merryfield 


Same here. So far, I've read "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" .


I also read this recently and don't understand its popularity. I have the second book, too, but am having a hard time picking it up.


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#15 of 57 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted February 22 2011 - 06:43 AM



Originally Posted by Malcolm R 




I also read this recently and don't understand its popularity. I have the second book, too, but am having a hard time picking it up.



I enjoyed the book. I had already seen the film, which I also liked. So, in my case, I enjoyed diving deeper into the story and characters via the novel.


One other book I started to read was "Moby Dick" -- a classic I never read before. I only was able to get through about 1/4 of the novel, though, as I found the writing too slow and drawn out.



#16 of 57 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted February 22 2011 - 06:57 AM

Originally Posted by Malcolm R 

[Girl with Dragon Tatoo]


I also read this recently and don't understand its popularity. I have the second book, too, but am having a hard time picking it up.


A brother-in-law lent me the trilogy, but I've not started it yet. Hopefully it will be worth reading, but perhaps not.



#17 of 57 OFFLINE   Malcolm R

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Posted February 22 2011 - 02:00 PM



Originally Posted by DaveF 


A brother-in-law lent me the trilogy, but I've not started it yet. Hopefully it will be worth reading, but perhaps not.



It's a decent read (the first book, anyway), but I didn't think it was anything special.


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#18 of 57 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted February 22 2011 - 02:40 PM



Originally Posted by DaveF 

Matt,

Have you read OSC's "Lost Boys"? I got the audiobook from the library, assuming it was another sci-fi story from OSC. But a few chapters in, and it's surprisingly mundane subject matter compared the "Ender's Game" books I've read by Card. Interesting so far, but a far cry from the sci-fi philosophy I associate with him.



Card tends to rotate between philosophical and kind of "blah".   I will openly admit, he's one of those writers who I love his writing style so I have read or owned every book he has ever written, and have it set on audible to instantly download any book by him I don't own.  (The others in that set are: Phillip K Dick, Christopher Moore, and a few others..)

Lost Boys is not one of my favorite works.   It meanders and it never really got me.  It has a very good second half.   OSC had a stroke in January, though mild and he's back up and around now.   I will openly say that "Speaker for the Dead" and "Children of the Mind" are two books that are amongst the 5 books that made significant impact in the way I think about the world.  SoTD has a core concept that really worked for me, and Children for the Mind, even for this Atheist, provided a very unique view of our place in the universe that I found surprisingly reassuring and interesting.

But he rotates between works that are "eh" to ones that I think really work.   For example, he put out two books recently, "The Pathfinder" and "The Lost Gate".   "The Lost Gate" is considered Young Adult, and despite his saying he didn't tamper it down, it does read a bit young.   Pathfinder is one of the more complex, detailed storylines he has attempted in some time.  The concept of absolutely embracing paradoxes as self defeating is one of those SciFi concepts you either buy or reject, but it struck me as fantastic writing.   The WSJ and NYT both loved both books (good review link here:  http://online.wsj.co...=googlenews_wsj )  maybe a bit more then I did.   I thought "Lost Gate" was good fun, but I found "Pathfinder" potentially fantastic as a start to a scifi series which could go in a ton of different directions and it just stood out to me as one of those concepts that I said: wow.   And that's a real rarity in lit.  

I tend to reject the Ender's Shadow series; while it has some interesting moments, it also has some terribly lazy ones too, and so I sometimes go back to it for a point, but it really stumbles and doesn't hold up as well. 

I think OSC and a lot of writers sometimes suffer from a great start to a series, and then a feeling it moves in a direction that doesn't work as well as it should.   I saw someone mention "Hunger Games".. I loved the first two books of the series, and the third, while good wasn't great - and it suffered a lot of logic problems that just didn't work in the world as setup in the first book.   But it was still good.


No book series has ever lost me the way that "His Dark Materials" did, in that I thought the first two books were stunningly brilliant, and the 3rd was mind bogglingly bad.  I recognized some saw it as an atheist attack on faith; as an atheist, I sure didn't see it that way.. a book dealing with her visiting a planet where the souls of all dead people go, and her finding the power that traps them there just seems like replacing one mythos with another one.. and I slogged hard through the last half. 

I guess to each their own.   And sometimes I enjoy "pulp" novels, especially if it's something I'm just going to listen to.   OSC does a phenomenal job with his audiobooks - there is almost nothing out there like the audio book 25th anniversary of Ender's Game or Speaker.. having a full cast do the reading is sensational.  But for a book read where I had a real laugh out loud moment, the torture sequence in "American Assassin"  (Vince Flynn) recently almost made me choke.  As he was being tortured and gave out bogus answers, the first time I heard it I almost choked because I started laughing while drinking from a sonic cup and wasn't prepared, and the reader did such a good job with inflection I was dying laughing..


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#19 of 57 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted February 22 2011 - 03:53 PM

Matt, Lots to respond to, but it's bedtime :) so I'll be short. Lost Boys has for the reader a main reader from Bean, who's great. I'll make a point to re-read Enders Game on audiobook. I've also got 7th Son on audiobook; Pathfinder had a waiting list, last I checked.

#20 of 57 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted February 27 2011 - 05:17 AM

Lost Boys by Orson Scott Card (audiobook)


After an incongruous opening chapter about a troubled boy, the story itself begins. Step Fletcher, after the decline of his previously smash-hit Atari videogame, he's forced to move his family to Steuben, NC and take a job as a manual writer for a Commodore 64 shop. As he copes with internecine office politics during the day, he and his wife struggle with their oldest son's--8 yr old Stevie--inability to cope with the move and creation of imaginary friends. The story rambles along with various work and family crises. It is very autobiographical about Card's views and life as a father, a Mormon living in a small Southern town, and working at small technology offices. Then ending is a stunner, and is both a cheat but emotionally powerful.


I enjoyed the 1980s setting. I was a kid then, and have fond memories of the software and computers the lead character is developing. That geek aspect kept me engaged during the slow first-third of the book. And the reading, by one of Card's cadre, was superb.



I like fantasy. And I like realism. I don't care as much for books that are steadfastly set in the real world and then reveal a fantastical element in the closing chapters. For example, I thought the movie "The Prestige" cheated. I feel Lost Boys does something similar, though not quite as egregiously. But the raw emotion of the closing overcomes my annoyance at the lack of groundwork for the mystical element.


I don't not recommend it, but I don't urge anyone to run out and read it. :)