October 16th, 2016

Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

A few more days, a few more books.

First of all, I read what I guess wasn't so much a book as a short story by Larry Niven called A Relic of Empire which dabbled in his Known Space series of stories; not bad.

Next was The Great Revolt by Paul Doherty which was a mystery set in Medieval London. These books are fairly formulaic, but what I enjoy about them is how well he does the setting. Again, not bad.

Then there was Osprey Raid #31: Gothic Serpent: Black Hawk Down Mogadishu 1993, the event that led to the movie Black Hawk Down. Considering how short these Ospreys are, they did a good job of going in depth to set up the political climate locally so as to better understand how it all happened. Pretty solid read, recommended.

Finally, I had seen a recommendation online for a book called Torchship by Karl K. Gallagher. In a positive way, it's like reading a Traveller adventure even if the tech situation isn't quite the same. It was a fun read and a quick one and there's apparently already a sequel which the book sets up nicely, so I need to get onto Amazon and order it. I found it a fun SF novel worth reading.

And so onto the next week!
kitty, reading

Books #73-74

Book #73 was "Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex" by Eoin Colfer  as an audiobook. I do love this series but felt like this book was a weak link. Artemis has big plans to make the world better, but while he's convened with his fairy friends, they're suddenly attacked by an unknown enemy who tries to drop a space probe on their heads. Artemis's friends are in trouble this time, because Artemis has "Atlantis Complex," a mental condition caused by guilt (of which Artemis has a lot for his past misdeeds against the fairy folk) that manifests as obsessive-compulsive disorder plus paranoid thoughts and even split personalities. Since Artemis "isn't quite himself" for almost the entire book, it's a little disappointing, since his Semi-evil Genius plots and hijinks are much of what make the books fun, and I saw a pivotal plot point coming a mile away. However, even a weak book in this series is still full of fun and fart jokes (dwarven thief Mulch Diggum's rear end plays a pivotal role in yet another book) and I do like that characters grow and change over the course of the series despite it being mostly a silly, light entertainment. I'm looking forward to listening to the final installment of the series soon.

Book #74 was "The Comfort of Strangers" by Ian McEwan. This is a very slim novel, only 129 pages in paperback, but it is packed full of creepy and disturbing but beautiful writing. Mary and Colin are an English couple on holiday in Venice, Italy. They care about each other but have become a little bored of their life. While exploring the city, they run into Robert, a friendly and charismatic man who owns a bar in the city. He introduces them to his wife, Caroline, who has a chronic bad back and is virtually a prisoner in her home, and tells them strange stories of his domineering father and sadistic older sisters. Mary and Colin are both excited by their interaction with the couple and also a little frightened of them. Still, they feel drawn to visit the couple again, and find out just how twisted Robert and Caroline are. Even before things got really ominous about 2/3 of the way through the book, it had a creepy air of impending doom. I'd read "Atonement" by McEwan earlier this year, and it's a more mature novel, but a lot of his trademarks are already in place in this short, earlier novel -- finely drawn characters with intricate and perverse motivations, beautiful prose, descriptions that are sharply drawn with just a few words or phrases, and loads of atmosphere. I really admired this book and want to seek out even more by McEwan.

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#53: Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies (JK Rowling)

This is that other collection of Harry Potter character biographies from Pottermore, published in Kindle form. This one is based on heroic characters, and has lengthy sections on Professor Minerva McGonagall and Remus Lupin. In contrast to the other Kindle title, I noticed there was a lot of material that seemed original, with one of my favourite moments involving a portrait Professor McGonagall had installed in Hogwarts after Harry Potter spoke to her in confidence.

[Spoiler? I know the end of the series is almost ten years old but just in case...]The portrait is of Professor Snape, who killed Dumbledore and appeared to be evil; as the final book proved, this was not true, but I guess not too many at Hogwarts knew the truth, as it is described as a controversial move.

There are two short biographies at the end, about Professor Trelawney and Syvanus Kettleburn (I wasn't sure who this was - he is Hagrid's predecessor). There were also some fascinating insights into other aspects of wizadry, with my favourite being the essay on polyjuice potions.

I was surprised not to see anything about Sirius Black in this e-book, but maybe JK will publish some more; we need biographies of Snape, Hagrid and Dumbledore too, but maybe I should check out Pottermore again.

Next book: The X-Files Issue 6 (Joe Harris, Matthew Dow Smith & Jordie Bellaire)