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Old 05-20-2011, 06:01 PM   #106
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I, too, don't rate a book that I don't finish although I am sorely tempted to do so (giving it 1 or 2 stars based on my criteria which I elucidated in an earlier post in this thread). My primary reason for not giving such a book any rating is that I want to be certain of why I am not finishing the book. Occasionally it is because I'm just not in the mood to read a book in the particular genre at the moment, thus I might (although highly doubtful) retry the book at a future date.

Sadly, the usual reason for not finishing a book I've started is that it is a 1- or 2-star book (according to my rating criteria) and thus the author should be pummeled with rotten tomatoes for pressing the Send (or Print) button on their computer. In fact, they should have their computers taken away to save readers from further torment.
I don't read books with vampires, zombies, wizards, magic, erotica or any supernatural elements. Sometimes an author will sneak one in without my knowledge and I'll discontinue reading. I try to prevent this as it's a waste of my time but if the summary or sample is "clean" then I'll grab the book. Therefore, I won't rate the book as it's not the authors fault I dropped the book. Reading a short sample usually keeps me from the one or two star books.
However, I have started to post a short message as to why I abandoned these books. Goodreads allows you to do so without giving it a rating. Despite my best efforts, I still abandon more books than I finish.
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Old 05-20-2011, 10:14 PM   #107
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I don't read books with vampires, zombies, wizards, magic, erotica or any supernatural elements.
I'm truly curious if that is a religious objection? No time travel either?

Vampires, zombies, wizards, etc. aren't really my thing either, although I do read a couple of mystery series featuring sleuths with ghostly "assistance", as well as one featuring an attorney who "inherits" an appeals practice in the "celestial courts" for the departed who feel they've been unfairly sentenced.
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Old 05-21-2011, 12:20 AM   #108
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I don't know many people who went out of their way to read One Hundred Years of Solitude as teenagers [...] I think I read an online translation of Luo Guanzhong's Romance of the Three Kingdoms. This was because I was playing a lot of Koei games at the time: Dynasty Warriors and the RTK turn-based games. Oh, those were the days ;D

I don't think liking One Hundred Years of Solitude has anything to do with maturity. Just read it if you're interested again.[...]
ohh what do you think about "Romance of 3 kingdoms"? I read it when I was 17, a translation also but I think Vietnamese resembles Chinese very much (the biggest difference is how they are written), and the translator did a terrific job so the poems and the rhythms were almost perfect. I always wondered how it would be, reading an English translation or any Western translation.

I think reading 100 years of solitude when I was still in teens didn't have anything to do with "cool" 'cause I actually didn't have any clear idea what Marquez was trying to imply in his novel Just a vague idea, yes, but I must admit that I didn't understand it thoroughly. Maybe the fact that I could put up with such a painful boring book* until the end is "cool"
(*: it is, in my humble opinion)

If I have the nerve, if I can bring myself to, if I finish many other good books out there, I will reread "100 years".
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Old 05-21-2011, 01:05 AM   #109
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Therefore, I won't rate the book as it's not the authors fault I dropped the book. Reading a short sample usually keeps me from the one or two star books.
However, I have started to post a short message as to why I abandoned these books. Goodreads allows you to do so without giving it a rating. Despite my best efforts, I still abandon more books than I finish.

I don't rate anything I didn't finish, but I do give a review. I comment on anything I did like, and why I couldn't finish it or whatnot. I decline to give it a star rating. I'm comfortable with that. I feel like I spent some time on the book, so I want to acknowledge that and offer any readers my own thoughts about what I did read. I read one that I just couldn't get into at all (and I really, really try hard!) *but* I actually thought it had some merit and was well-written, etc. I just couldn't get into it. A few weeks later, the author mentioned that the book had been picked up by a publisher. I think that's awesome. The book wasn't bad at all, it just wasn't for me.
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Old 05-21-2011, 01:19 AM   #110
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I never used to rate 5 stars, but I changed my mind more recently. One reason was because there are no .5 ratings on places like Amazon and Goodreads so I feel like I need to go up or down.

Also because I tried to realign my thinking somewhat to how other people were rating. I noticed that 5 star was a very common rating and my history of no 5 star ratings made me feel a little stingey. So I compromised a little and rounded some marking up.

One more reason was that I wanted to help encourage independent authors a little via ratings if I liked the book. I tend to mark up independent novels slightly as my small investment into their ongoing marketing/advertising effort.
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Old 05-21-2011, 02:31 AM   #111
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I'm truly curious if that is a religious objection? No time travel either?
Yes, that's correct.

Time travel in a science fiction setting is ok. I have read The Doomsday Book to give as an example.
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Old 05-21-2011, 05:40 AM   #112
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ohh what do you think about "Romance of 3 kingdoms"? I read it when I was 17, a translation also but I think Vietnamese resembles Chinese very much (the biggest difference is how they are written), and the translator did a terrific job so the poems and the rhythms were almost perfect. I always wondered how it would be, reading an English translation or any Western translation.
Chinese poems translated to English are always krud. It just doesn't have the same structure, rhythm, or anything. The imagery/meaning is all off too, and English translators manage to make everything sound archaic or bizarre when it's not. I have a vague wish of eventually learning enough Chinese to read it in the original language just for historical nerd power cred, but I'm just not as interested in learning it over other languages. Being in Canada, I need to work on my French first >_>

I still enjoyed reading a badly translated RTK for the battle tactics, excessive/awesome gore and battle heroics, and the unfolding politics.

I feel pretty bad for Zhou Yu. Luo Guanzhong had to write him as a prissy jealous man to create rivalry between him and Zhuge Liang, and so people still remember him that way instead of the skilled strategist that he was in history. A man dying out of jealousy? Pfft.

I'm only really proficient in English. I know Tagalog but there isn't a lot of literature/media/cultural products produced in Tagalog, so as a consumer of culture, I feel locked into the English speaking world. Language acts like a DRMed device and it limits what cultural products I can check out. Sometimes translations aren't good enough or aren't available. Sometimes, I do get sick of reading about American characters all the time, or reading sword and fantasy worlds based off ye olde western Europe. There's other cultures out there that are vibrant and interesting.

It's really cool that many folks from Asia have the shared cultural product of RTK--a 700 year old book of both history and fiction. I can't think of an equally engrossing war epic in Western culture with that kind of reach. Or have as many comic books/TV shows/movie spinoffs. (John Woo's Red Cliff movies were awesome. Yes, thankfully I had access to copies without the American edits).

I can safely say Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a 5 star book, although it trails a bit off after Zhuge Liang dies :P
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Old 05-21-2011, 06:52 AM   #113
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Non-fiction - Tupaia: Captain Cook's Polynesian Navigator by Joan Druett. It's a fast-paced and engaging tale of adventure that's also the result of painstaking research. Tupaia was an amazing man who's barely touched on in the official accounts of Cook's first voyage, but Druett has uncovered a surprising amount of detail from a multitude of sources, both written and oral. This story has special significance for New Zealanders, Australians and other peoples of the south Pacific, but I'd recommend it to anyone interested in seafaring and exploration.

Fiction - Terry Pratchett's I Shall Wear Midnight, the final (almost certainly) book in his "Tiffany Aching" series. Touching, funny, occasionally very dark, but ultimately uplifting. Pratchett's affection for his characters lends a real warmth to this tale.
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Old 05-21-2011, 09:38 AM   #114
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. . . as well as one featuring an attorney who "inherits" an appeals practice in the "celestial courts" for the departed who feel they've been unfairly sentenced.
What books are these? They sound interesting or are they christian fiction?
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Old 05-21-2011, 09:45 AM   #115
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I never used to rate 5 stars, but I changed my mind more recently. One reason was because there are no .5 ratings on places like Amazon and Goodreads so I feel like I need to go up or down.

Also because I tried to realign my thinking somewhat to how other people were rating. I noticed that 5 star was a very common rating and my history of no 5 star ratings made me feel a little stingey. So I compromised a little and rounded some marking up.
This is true for me, too.

My feeling is that most books will be three stars. Four is for excellent and five is for blown away and/or for love (and love tolerates some faults), but lately I've been bumping up some 4½-star efforts. Two is for worthwhile but seriously faulty, one is for total failure in execution or an overwhelming flaw.

A few factors that will skew my ratings up include that I'm adding in memorable books I've read in the past and those tend to be four stars or better and that I can usually tell if something's going to be terrible (by my standards) and don't bother. One star is when I've been blindsided. Thus I give a book one star if/when I abandon it. I saw someone on Goodreads had a category called too-crappy-to-finish and I borrowed it. I'll give a reason for the one star, but I think it's legit to rate an unfinished book in that circumstance. I'm not going to waste my time finishing something dreadful just to justify a ranking and in general, I find poor reviews more helpful than good ones. Too many people too easy to please out there.

Despite the pressure upwards, my overall ranking at Goodreads is about 3.6 or 3.7, I think, which seems reasonable.
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Old 05-21-2011, 01:50 PM   #116
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What books are these? They sound interesting or are they christian fiction?
No -- the celestial appeals books are not Christian at all, but a regular cozy mystery series. I suggest reading them in order, starting with Defending Angels. Bree has an office staff of "angels" (in human form), including a dog, Sasha; there are two huge mastiffs who appear as additional support whenever things seem to be getting dangerous, as well as a local P. I. - also an angel (potential bf that hasn't gone anywhere by book #3). Her prosecutorial adversaries are a very creepy duo named Beasley and Caldecott.
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Old 05-21-2011, 02:41 PM   #117
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Old 05-21-2011, 03:30 PM   #118
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Chinese poems translated to English are always krud. It just doesn't have the same structure, rhythm, or anything. The imagery/meaning is all off too, and English translators manage to make everything sound archaic or bizarre when it's not. I have a vague wish of eventually learning enough Chinese to read it in the original language just for historical nerd power cred, but I'm just not as interested in learning it over other languages. Being in Canada, I need to work on my French first >_>
[...]

I feel pretty bad for Zhou Yu. Luo Guanzhong had to write him as a prissy jealous man to create rivalry between him and Zhuge Liang, and so people still remember him that way instead of the skilled strategist that he was in history. A man dying out of jealousy? Pfft.

[...]

It's really cool that many folks from Asia have the shared cultural product of RTK--a 700 year old book of both history and fiction. I can't think of an equally engrossing war epic in Western culture with that kind of reach. Or have as many comic books/TV shows/movie spinoffs.
[...]
I can safely say Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a 5 star book, although it trails a bit off after Zhuge Liang dies :P
hah, from a reader whose mother tongue resembles the original language used in the work, I have very confusing thoughts about Romance of 3 kingdoms.

First, I like the background of the story. It is set in a period which is familiar to us Vietnamese folks, with the familiar names. (to tell the truth, we are familiar with every detail of Chinese history! Scary huh. Of course that excludes me, I was never good at history at school.)

Second, I don't like it because it was twisted by tough hands. Therefore it isn't precise, the author's perspective affects it all. Of course it's a history novel, not a chronicle, and the fact that it praises those whom the author liked best makes the definition of "bad guys" and "good guys" really distinctive. For instance, Cao Cao is considered evil. He's bad, just because he opposed Shu Han. Zhuge Liang is treated differently because he's considered "good". Therefore he defeat Zhou Yu. Nonsense. Zhou Yu was dumb-lucked, that's all.

Third, some details are pretty over limit. Like when Liu Bei said goodbye to his "beloved" general Zhao Yun, he cried like a woman - consider his status as a warlord at the time, this is unacceptable in my opinion

Overall... I quite liked it the main reason for this isn't listed above: I love the battle of Red Cliffs it was awesome!

(Gee, I have to google all these names :| I hate Chinese names :|)
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Old 05-21-2011, 09:49 PM   #119
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Therefore it isn't precise, the author's perspective affects it all. Of course it's a history novel, not a chronicle, and the fact that it praises those whom the author liked best makes the definition of "bad guys" and "good guys" really distinctive. For instance, Cao Cao is considered evil. He's bad, just because he opposed Shu Han. Zhuge Liang is treated differently because he's considered "good". Therefore he defeat Zhou Yu. Nonsense. Zhou Yu was dumb-lucked, that's all.

Third, some details are pretty over limit. Like when Liu Bei said goodbye to his "beloved" general Zhao Yun, he cried like a woman - consider his status as a warlord at the time, this is unacceptable in my opinion

Overall... I quite liked it the main reason for this isn't listed above: I love the battle of Red Cliffs it was awesome!
But perhaps it's the fictionalization of these events which allow the book to be appealing to different audiences throughout the years. Having clear protagonists: e.g. the Kingdom of Shu, Zhao Yun the baby-saving-dashing-hero-boy--Liu Bei, Guan Yu, Zhang Fei as the sworn brothers... it allows the readers to empathize and cheer for a distinct group when really it was an era of chaos. It oversimplifies history into "good small guys vs. big evil guys" but it gives the events a narrative, it makes it more personal than "Hey. We couldn't decide who should rule China, so we did a lot of killing."

The actions attributed to Zhao Yun were probably done by a bunch of separate and different nameless footmen, but it makes for a better story if it's done by the same guy. The fact to fiction ratio is probably more like 60:40 than the frequently cited 70:30, but I think it works well as war epic (why else are we talking about it now in 2011?) as long as people see that most details about events and people are sensationalized, exaggerated, and so on to tell a better story.
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Old 05-22-2011, 07:38 AM   #120
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The Sex Club by LJ Sellers
An excellent book. If not 5 stars, pretty darn close.
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