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Old 08-31-2011, 07:04 PM   #10681
ATDrake
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Finished Tiassa, the latest in Steven Brust's Dragaera series, which brings together the Vlad Taltos and Phoenix Guards/Viscount of Adrilankha storylines with the aid of a magical mystery MacGuffin, the titular silver tiassa.

Fun as usual (though not as fun as the previous book, Iorich, which is worth the price of admission for the epilogue alone) and rather odd to see Vlad's adventures described in that faux-Dumas Paarfi style.

But we get to see an unexpected set of characters interact, and the return of several old favourites since following the tiassa covers several points in the timeline, and find out some solid background info on a certain mysterious recurring character which has only been alluded to until now.

I still have absolutely no idea how the silver tiassa got to ending up where it eventually ended up, much less what exactly it's supposed to do, but I suppose that's the nature of magical mystery MacGuffins meant to provide a plot ticket.

Mildly recommended. Definitely not a good book to start with for the series and not one of the best-written of the lot, but enjoyable if you already read and like it.
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Old 08-31-2011, 08:17 PM   #10682
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I'm currently reading WWW:Watch by Robert J. Sawyer. I loved the first book, WWW:Wake, and couldn't wait to read this one. I'm loving it so far!!
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Old 08-31-2011, 11:05 PM   #10683
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Just finished "Infected" by Scott Sigler, and am currently reading "Dead Zero" by Stephen Hunter, the 7th in the Bob Swagger series. "Infected" was quite intelligently written, and is one of the first books in a long time that made me cringe as I read (in a good way). I may read the 2nd in the series before moving on to the Dresden books...
I checked out Infected as soon as I saw your review here and I agree it was most cringe-worthy...in a good way lol. I just finished it and very much enjoyed the read, so thank you so much for listing it here!

I'll start on his second in the series, Contagious, a bit later tonight.

As Perry would say.."no bout-a-doubt it"!!!
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Old 09-01-2011, 02:05 AM   #10684
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I'm currently reading WWW:Watch by Robert J. Sawyer. I loved the first book, WWW:Wake, and couldn't wait to read this one. I'm loving it so far!!
If you think those are good, wait until you finish WWW: Wonder!
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Old 09-01-2011, 06:02 AM   #10685
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Currently reading The Magicians


Mixing the magic of beloved children's fantasy classics (from Narnia and Oz to Harry Potter and Earthsea) with the sex, excess, angst, and anticlimax of life in college and beyond, Lev Grossman's Magicians reimagines modern-day fantasy for grownups. Quentin Coldwater lives in a state of perpetual melancholy, privately obsessed with his childhood books about the enchanted land of Fillory. When he’s admitted to the surreptitious Brakebills Academy for an education in magic, Quentin finds mastering spells is tedious (and love is even more fraught). He also discovers his power has thrilling potential--though it's unclear what he should do with it once he's moved with his new magician cohorts to New York City. Then they discover the magical land of Fillory is real and launch an expedition to use their powers to set things right in the kingdom--which, naturally, turns out to be a much murkier proposition than expected. The Magicians breathes life into a cast of characters you want to know--if the people you want to know are charismatic, brilliant, complex, flawed magicians--and does what Quentin claims books never really manage to do: "get you out, really out, of where you were and into somewhere better. " Or if not better, at least a heck of a lot more interesting. --Mari Malcol
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Old 09-01-2011, 08:19 AM   #10686
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Reading Principles of Economics by N. Gregory Mankiw, again.

I'm waiting for the movie to come out.


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Old 09-01-2011, 09:00 AM   #10687
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Books came so I read Ilona Andrews Bayou Moon. Not as good as the first in The Edge series, but an overall good read. It had the villain POV; not my favorite technique and a few thousand too many characters to keep track of (only really annoying during battles when a name would be thrown out and I couldn't remember if it was good guy or bad for a paragraph). It was a little heavy on the "lovers angst" too.

Not the strongest of their works, however a "good" Ilona Andrews is still better than a whole heck of a lot of other books!
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Old 09-01-2011, 11:26 AM   #10688
DiapDealer
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I recently read The Prince of Thorns by fantasy newcomer Mark Lawrence. It's a dark, entertaining, first person narrative that is not quite what it may first seem to be. I enjoyed it thoroughly. It's the first installment of a trilogy, but the book stands on it's own two feet quite nicely. There's some overarching plots that are left for the future books, but all in all, this one has a nice sense of closure to it. It's not sprawling and full of flowery prose or excessive world-building (which pleases me immensely), it's relatively compact, terse and sincerely bad-ass.

If you're looking for something new and not wanting to get too involved in a never-ending series or bogged down with a lot descriptive detail... it may be just the ticket.

I'm getting ready to read Jamrach's Menagerie (from the Man Booker Prize 2011 long list) by Carol Birch. The description has me a little pumped.
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Old 09-01-2011, 12:35 PM   #10689
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I checked out Infected as soon as I saw your review here and I agree it was most cringe-worthy...in a good way lol. I just finished it and very much enjoyed the read, so thank you so much for listing it here!

I'll start on his second in the series, Contagious, a bit later tonight.

As Perry would say.."no bout-a-doubt it"!!!
Glad you enjoyed it. I have taken a break (currently reading The Society of Dirty Hearts which is very different, a Lynchian tale of nasty goings on in an English town), but will get on to Contagious next. Let us know how you find it.
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Old 09-01-2011, 12:46 PM   #10690
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Just finished reading Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach. The book was in turns both informative and hilarious, frequently both at the same time.

Spoiler:
Right from the dedication in the front of the book, I suspected this one was going to be special. At the very least, I thought it was quite appropriate.
Quote:
Dedication
For Woody
Reading this book is a wonderful way to discover things about sex you might never want to know, such as:
Quote:
Research by the Department for Nutrition and Reproduction at Denmark’s National Committee for Pig Production showed that sexually stimulating a sow while you artificially inseminate her leads to a 6 percent improvement in fertility. This in turn led to a government-backed Five-Point Stimulation Plan for pig farmers, complete with instructional DVD and color posters to tack on barn walls.
If that's not enough detail about life on a pig farm:
Quote:
[T]he inseminators are working side by side. Morten is lagging behind slightly. He is just now inserting a semen feeder tube into the pig he’s working on. He wears the look of concentration and vague worry that my husband wears while snaking the bathroom drain. He tugs gently, making sure the placement is good and then holds up the semen pouch like an IV bag. Next he climbs on the sow’s back. This is intended as a substitute for the weight of the boar. He bounces slightly to mimic the male’s movements. All three men are now sitting on the backs of a sow. They look like people on an antique merry-go-round where everyone, not just the last two to board, has to ride a pig. One by one, the semen bags are drained. It happens abruptly, sometimes after a few seconds, sometimes after a few minutes. Patience is key. You never rush a sow. (For this reason, there is no clock in the insemination area.) Thomas is said to have a way with the sows. His focus is unwavering. He never talks on his cell phone, as Kaj sometimes does. He pushes the sow’s mammaries with his boots and rubs the sow’s neck and behind her ears, though these things are not prescribed on the poster.
I'll bet that's a mental image that will stay with you a long time.

But, of course, it's human sexuality that takes center stage, as she focuses her attention on sex researchers past and present. On Kinsey, she writes:
Quote:
Kinsey had hired a commercial photographer named Bill Dellenback, whose pay, not entirely fraudulently, came out of the institute’s budget for "mammalian behavior studies."
You will learn history:
Quote:
Leonardo [da Vinci] learned about anatomy by studying cadavers. When I came across the coition figures, I assumed—erroneously, ludicrously, you might even say—that Leonardo had managed to wrestle two cadavers into the missionary position, and then cleave the joined couple lengthwise. The assumption wasn’t entirely far-fetched; the anatomist spoke of dissecting hanged murderers (the only bodies made available for dissection), whose corpses, owing to the hanging, often, as Leonardo wrote it, "have this member rigid."
Her own insights are provided with a healthy dose of wit:
Quote:
My conclusion, a conclusion you will encounter many times in the course of these pages, is that the sexual anatomy and responses of the human female are as uniform and predictable as the weather.
You'll learn many wonderful things in this book, such as the fact that defecating can briefly bring your heart rate down by eight beats per minute, and that men lose their erection when they hold their breath. You will learn how paraplegics have sex. You'll learn about Orgasm-induced defecation. And you'll finally get the answer to that question which has perplexed us all for years: Can dead people have orgasms?

I highly recommend this book. I could give many, many more examples of Ms. Roach's wit and observations, but the post would grow onto unmanageable proportions. I'll close this post with just one more:
Quote:
The best sex going on in Masters and Johnson’s lab was the sex being had by the committed gay and lesbian couples. Not because they were practicing special secret homosexual sex techniques, but because they "took their time." They lost themselves—in each other, and in sex.
Perhaps the best advice in the entire book, no matter what your sexual orientation.

Note: When reading this book, don't skip over the footnotes. They are frequently some of the funniest parts of the book.
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Old 09-01-2011, 12:53 PM   #10691
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Just when you thought you knew it all...
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Old 09-01-2011, 12:57 PM   #10692
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Just finished reading Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach. The book was in turns both informative and hilarious, frequently both at the same time.
I love all the Mary Roach books. Your description fits every one of them. And yes... Don't miss the footnotes.
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Old 09-01-2011, 02:29 PM   #10693
Crusader
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I recently read The Prince of Thorns by fantasy newcomer Mark Lawrence. It's a dark, entertaining, first person narrative that is not quite what it may first seem to be. I enjoyed it thoroughly. It's the first installment of a trilogy, but the book stands on it's own two feet quite nicely. There's some overarching plots that are left for the future books, but all in all, this one has a nice sense of closure to it. It's not sprawling and full of flowery prose or excessive world-building (which pleases me immensely), it's relatively compact, terse and sincerely bad-ass.
I'm actually busy with it now. Only 160 pages in and liking it so far. Definitely not what I expected.
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Old 09-01-2011, 08:32 PM   #10694
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Finished Caesars' Wives: Sex, Power and Politics in the Roman Empire by Annelise Friesenbruch, who has a PhD from Cambridge, occasionally does history research for the BBC, and otherwise teaches Latin to middle school students.

This was actually pretty interesting; not so much a biography of the various "empresses" from Livia at the inception of the Empire through to the final Christian princesses of western Rome as it is a look at how the publicly acknowledgeable powers and perception and portrayals of the women who occupied the position changed over the centuries.

A fair amount of it is spent on each woman's respective prominence in surviving statuary and monuments and coinage, as well as contemporary public opinion and future historical interpretations because a lot of the original source material for these women's personal lives is no longer extant (e.g. Agrippina's biography) or simply never really recorded in the first place (the much-disputed early life of Helena, mother of Constantine and former saint until the Catholic Church decanonized her in the 60s or so).

And it seems a lot of recurring tropes regarding the empresses and various sisters/daughters of the dynasties are likely due to malicious myth-making, as there are a lot of claims repeated over the course of centuries that such-and-such wife poisoned her husband to put her son on the throne (not just Agrippina!), or this particularly depraved emperor had incest with all of his sisters at once (not just Caligula!), or this daughter/wife was so addicted to sex that she snuck off and pretended to be a prostitute so she could get some (not just Julia and Messalina!).

Some of the conclusions drawn are a little speculative, and some of the material is presented a little dramatically, but overall it seems fairly factual and firmly evidence-based (where the evidence is available). There's also a rather thorough bibliography and footnote citations with occasional annotation, both of which I always appreciate in an interpretative history book.

Recommended if you've an interest in changes in the Roman Empire over time, politically prominent women throughout history, or the Julio-Claudian/Flavian and early Christian imperial dynasties in particular.

I should add that this is a general pop-history type of book, and not a dedicated scholarly read, in case you were thinking it might be too dry.

Last edited by ATDrake; 09-01-2011 at 08:46 PM. Reason: Misspelt author's name.
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Old 09-02-2011, 03:53 AM   #10695
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Finished The Day of the Triffids. A few huh?! ... what? ... no way! ... moments but otherwise it was an interesting read. Especially how different people planned to survive and how/why they failed. He left many things unanswered probably to concentrate on the psychological reactions of the survivors. I give it a B- [4 stars] for the word skills and continued contemplations.

A change-up. Enclave by Ann Aguirre. It's a Hunger Games very fuzzy copy.
Enclave
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