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Last Book You Read and Rate It (Part II)

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Old
10-16-2012, 02:38 PM
  #351
stingo
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Zadie Smith - White Teeth



I read all the glowing reviews about this book, how it was written by a 25 year old woman, considered to be one of Britian's finest young writers.

I ignored the book for some time, mostly because I was slugging through the books, the classics, I thought I should read first.

I started this book three weeks ago, and just finished it now (kind of, I'll get to that later) and I'm left wondering what the hype was for.

Granted, White Teeth starts strong. We meet Archie, lost and lonely, newly seperated, as he stumbles into a party. He doesn't belong. It's filled with hippies, and here, he meets a young, buck-toothed, Jamacian woman. He's old enough to be her father, and she's not really attracted to him, but they look past the age difference, and shortly after get married.

Up to this point the writing is strong, the story, interesting, and the reader is engaged.

The forty pages that follow is still strong, but then like a runaway train, the book derails, and Smith flip flops through time periods quicker than Mitt Romney on his political platform, and the reader is lost. The book becomes non-linear, and it's a trick that doesn't work. The reader is wondering what they're missing, if anything. I struggled through the next 300 pages, pages where nothing at all happens, wondering if there's a light at the end of the tunnel. At page 420, only 100 pages from the end, I said I didn't care if there was a light. I removed my bookmark, and stopped reading, something I must add, I never do with a book.

Smith is a talented writer, no doubt, and for publishing her first book at 25, it's well enough written. It seems like she had an idea for the book, a good one, but didn't know quite how to flesh it out. But still, I expected more.

3.4/10


Last edited by stingo: 10-16-2012 at 04:40 PM.
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Old
10-16-2012, 04:19 PM
  #352
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Three Kingdoms: A Historical Novel - Luo Guanzhong, Translated by Moss Roberts



One of the greatest books I've ever read.

I'll just include the Wikipedia overview of the book since it does a much better job than I could:
Quote:
Romance of the Three Kingdoms, written by Luo Guanzhong in the 14th century, is a historical novel set amidst the turbulent years near the end of the Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history, starting in 169 and ending with the reunification of the land in 280.
The story (part historical, part legend, and part myth) chronicles the lives of feudal lords and their retainers, who tried to replace the dwindling Han Dynasty or restore it. While the novel actually follows literally hundreds of characters, the focus is mainly on the three power blocs that emerged from the remnants of the Han Dynasty, and would eventually form the three states of Wei, Shu, and Wu. The novel deals with the plots, personal and army battles, intrigues, and struggles of these states to achieve dominance for almost 100 years.
You're probably thinking that it's a pretty big book and it is. Over 1000 pages and 120 chapters. Some chapters can get a little slow but the action and drama pick up quickly afterwards. The Moss Roberts unabridged version (the above images) is the best, in my opinion, and I highly recommend it.

The book is so beautifully written even though it's about war, death, betrayal and the like. Truly an epic.

9.5/10

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10-19-2012, 12:11 PM
  #353
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4/5
I wonder if Apple will be able to maintain their run of success without his singular vision, drive and absolute control of product.

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10-19-2012, 12:16 PM
  #354
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Originally Posted by Freedomov76 View Post

4/5
I wonder if Apple will be able to maintain their run of success without his singular vision, drive and absolute control of product.
In a word, no.

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10-19-2012, 10:29 PM
  #355
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Makers by Cory Doctorow - 6/10

It's a fun read but overly long. About half way through I just lost interest in a big way and I found myself speed reading the rest of it and not regretting it. There are some plot threads that Doctorow throws out there but never follows, while he follows others to a strangely moralistic end. With all of the scifi trappings about technology changing society for the better or worse, this is really about people and how they treat each other. Unfortunately, it's not a lot of interesting people to keep you going. So, an alright read, but I don't see it as one of Doctorow's finest.

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Old
10-20-2012, 06:34 AM
  #356
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stingo View Post
Zadie Smith - White Teeth
3.4/10
I unfortunately had to read it on my Contemporary British Fiction module, its extremely highly rated but its very badly put together. It's obvious what she was going for and reading it you kinda realise that.

Very overrated.

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10-23-2012, 12:44 PM
  #357
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A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...". So begins this story of love, intrique and the French Revolution. What a delight. I hadn't read Dickens in so long that all I remembered were the bad things about him, the gross use of coincidence and the occasionally smarmy sentimentality. I forgot what a great writer he is, how he can set a scene and create as vivid an atmosphere as anyone who ever wrote. Plot and character development could hardly be improved on, and the ending still seems thrillingly heroic. I'd say I got my money's worth--there is not much more that I could ask of a 19th century novel. A thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable work.


Last edited by kihei: 10-23-2012 at 01:09 PM.
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10-23-2012, 08:16 PM
  #358
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Althalus - Journey to the edge of the world ( Finns are incredibly clever at translating English titles so that they least resemble the original )

I have always hated Eddings. In his books the characters have little depth, dialogue between characters is badly written ranging from korny to plain ridiculous.. Also he is master at rehashing his characters, plots, events in his books. So that not only deja-vu is incredibly common feeling while your browsing his production, it actually feels like your reading the same book over and over again with different name..

But i really loved this book. It had incredibly likeable main characters, plot was actually somewhat good, writing was great at times, it had great humor and coolest most badass main character in fantasy genre..

So if your absolutely certain you can tolerate Eddings writing then i recommend this book for everyone who likes fantasy books or anyone who wants to read everything good about Eddings compressed in 500 pages..

9/10

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10-24-2012, 03:38 AM
  #359
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Taipan: 9/10. I love Clavell books. It's a great read about the establishment of Hong Kong. I recommend it to everyone.

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10-24-2012, 11:17 AM
  #360
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Black Swan Green by David Mitchell (audiobook) - 8/10

At times the narrator comes off as a bit too naive, or a bit too lacking of knowledge compared with other parts of the story, but these are minor quibbles with a refreshingly real account of adolescence and the first tentative steps towards adulthood. With the upcoming movie debut of Cloud Atlas I've seen Black Swan Green referred to almost derisively as Mitchell's "conventional novel."

I think this is ridiculous. Is it a daring rethinking of narrative structure? No, not at all, and so what? It's a helluva good story that take the small moments of youth and gives them the epic greatness that youth bestows upon them, while showing the narrator's first real encounters with the contradictions and grey areas that make up adulthood. It's a good listen, and one of those books that might be ideal to slip to an 11 or 12 year old - especially the audiobook which glosses over some of the difficulties that might arise from trying to read the print version.

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10-25-2012, 10:13 AM
  #361
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Tau Zero by Poul Anderson - 5/10

I was sold on this in book store by the premise of a small group of people hurting through space to visit a far off planet only to have things go completely wrong on the way. I think one of the cover blurbs referred to it as a classic in hard scifi.

The hard scifi part is true, and it expectantly sacrifices building deeper characters and plot to accommodate the space for going into some specifics of time dilation and nearly fast-as-light travel. If you're okay with that, you'll probably be okay with Tau Zero.

I'm less okay with it and kept wanting more exploration into the people, the place, the events, etc. On the plus side, it's short, clocking in at around 200 pages. If you're curious about it, and just want to give it a spin, it's quick read and it doesn't hurt to speed read a bit of it. You're unlikely to miss anything overly important.

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10-25-2012, 01:41 PM
  #362
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About 3/4 done. Very interesting, great book for any biologists out there!

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10-25-2012, 02:21 PM
  #363
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The Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons (re-read it)

What an epic tale. Sci-fi with a message; a message that rings true.

5/5, and if I could go higher, I would. It's a project, but it's well worth it.

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10-25-2012, 05:57 PM
  #364
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Winger98 View Post
Black Swan Green by David Mitchell (audiobook) - 8/10

At times the narrator comes off as a bit too naive, or a bit too lacking of knowledge compared with other parts of the story, but these are minor quibbles with a refreshingly real account of adolescence and the first tentative steps towards adulthood. With the upcoming movie debut of Cloud Atlas I've seen Black Swan Green referred to almost derisively as Mitchell's "conventional novel."

I think this is ridiculous. Is it a daring rethinking of narrative structure? No, not at all, and so what? It's a helluva good story that take the small moments of youth and gives them the epic greatness that youth bestows upon them, while showing the narrator's first real encounters with the contradictions and grey areas that make up adulthood. It's a good listen, and one of those books that might be ideal to slip to an 11 or 12 year old - especially the audiobook which glosses over some of the difficulties that might arise from trying to read the print version.
Thanks for this review. I'm going to read this soon.

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10-28-2012, 08:20 PM
  #365
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Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter, by Frank Deford: I used to religiously read this guy's work when he was a writer for Sports Illustrated, though I lost track of him once his career moved to public radio in the States. This is a wonderful book of meandering reminiscences that covers a lot of ground and a lot of personalities: Mickey Mantle, Bobby Knight, Jimmy the Greek, Billie Jean King and so on. He devotes two chapters alone to one of my biggest heroes ever, Arthur Ashe. Deford has a gift for writing about people which he does entertainingly with insight and humour. One of the best reads of the year for me. Great title for a book about a life spent writing about sports, too.


Last edited by kihei: 10-28-2012 at 09:08 PM.
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Old
10-28-2012, 08:42 PM
  #366
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A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...". So begins this story of love, intrique and the French Revolution. What a delight. I hadn't read Dickens in so long that all I remembered were the bad things about him, the gross use of coincidence and the occasionally smarmy sentimentality. I forgot what a great writer he is, how he can set a scene and create as vivid an atmosphere as anyone who ever wrote. Plot and character development could hardly be improved on, and the ending still seems thrillingly heroic. I'd say I got my money's worth--there is not much more that I could ask of a 19th century novel. A thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable work.
Damn, I would love to read that.

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10-28-2012, 08:48 PM
  #367
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Reading through this thread makes me feel inferior intellectually, lazy and generally speaking just not as well educated as most of you. Thanks and no thanks, lol. I gotta get back to reading, hopefully a book every month or so... I used to be a book worm when I was younger, now I just don't have the time. It's so good for you though.

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10-31-2012, 09:58 PM
  #368
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The Red Pole of Macau, written by Ian Hamilton: Fourth novel in the series; first one that I've read. Our erstwhile detective figure is Ava, a Chinese lesbian who happens to be something called a forensic accountant whose job it is to find money that has gone missing and get it back. In this case, her family is involved and her step-brother's closest associate is being held for ransom by a man who she knows will kill him regardless of whether he gets the money or not. Set in Hong Kong and Macau, the thriller is a very good one, more on the lines of a Mission Impossible (television) episode than a standard crime procedural. Good plot, good locations, good atmosphere, good all-around execution, and everything moves right along.

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11-01-2012, 06:50 AM
  #369
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Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell



I'd heard of this book for a long time, and knew it was considered brilliant, and a masterpiece, but never got around to checking it out. So I went to Chapters last week, and bought it, mostly because of the rave reviews the movie was getting, and I like to read a book first before seeing the movie.

The novel consists of six separate stories that take the reader from the Pacific in 1850, to a distant, post-apocalyptic future. As you read, each story is revealed to be a story that is read, or watched by the main character in the next. All stories but one are interrupted, and after the first half of the sixth story concludes at the center of the novel, the novel reverses, and then closes each story as the book progresses in terms of pages, but reverses in terms of historical period. Eventually you end where you start, with Adam Ewing on the South Pacific.

It's a complicated story, but one of beauty, and the universality of human nature, how we are all connected in some way or another.

There is more to it than that, but if I say too much, I'm going to give a lot away.

This isn't an easy read, not something you'd bring with you to the beach. This is a winter type of book, where it's too cold to go outside, and you've got nothing but time to kill type-of-book. It demands a reader's attention, if not, you're going to be lost. There was a few times where I had to go back and re-read something I missed.

I'm interested to see how they're going to do this film-wise, but a 100 million dollar budget (the biggest ever for an independent movie), and a couple of great actors(Tom Hanks), and I think they might pull it off. It's a book that has been deemed impossible to film, but from what I'm reading the film is garnering some great reviews. It hits theatres October 26th.

9.3/10
This is one of those reviews on here that actually makes me want to go out and buy the book. Now I just have to be sure to avoid the movie until I do.

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11-01-2012, 07:07 AM
  #370
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Ragtime - el doctorow



For a classic, it was awful. The only little interesting story in barley got any room and it felt like it focused to much on details at time. Boring stories and characters in general. The entire melting pot idea is illustrated awfully.

2/10

Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy
- Robert D. Putnam



A modern classic on why the democracy only works in the northen italy. A must read for anyone who wants to gain better understanding on how societys works and function. Brilliant research.

10 / 10

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11-01-2012, 06:20 PM
  #371
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Tell All, by Chuck Palahniuk: Gave this about 35 pages and tossed in the towel. I don't know what the plan was here. This is a sort of pastiche of Old Hollywood gossip column styles, mixed in with a Sunset Boulevard-ish plot and a wonky semi-screenplay structure. Palahniuk puts dozens of names and brands from the period in bold face to no real purpose, most of whom are people who 90% of his readers will have never hear about. It is deadly dull, meandering, uneventful, and just flat out lame. A really, really bad book.

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11-01-2012, 06:47 PM
  #372
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Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy - Robert D. Putnam



A modern classic on why the democracy only works in the northen italy. A must read for anyone who wants to gain better understanding on how societys works and function. Brilliant research.

10 / 10
Putnam is the man. Have you read Bowling Alone? It's probably his best known work and is absolutely fantastic.

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11-01-2012, 06:53 PM
  #373
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Tried to finish Nostromo before a nice extended vacation but I couldn't really get into it; put it down for now while I catch up on some other recommended reading.

The Prince of Thornes by Mark Lawrence - A fantasy novel centred around revenge, set thousands of years into Earth's future (many references to great philosophers and writers of Earths's past), yet still very medieval in its technology... presumably due to an epic catastrophe (passing mentions of nanotechnology and various weapons of mass destruction). A very dark story, falling into the anti-fantasy category: a very unlikable protagonist that you still root for anyway. It's the first in a series that has not been completed, so I'm not entirely sure why I started it, but it had amazing reviews. Quite an enjoyable debut. 8/10

Currently reading An Idiot Abroad by Karl Pilkington, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. Light reading and diarized versions of the show of the same name.

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11-01-2012, 06:55 PM
  #374
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A fascinating account of the informal economy and housing sector in Peru, particularly based on Lima. De Soto gives a historical account on migration trends (rural-urban) within Peru and how it has led to an extralegal and informal society because the state was unable to accommodate the interests of the newcomers. I have never seen someone cover the informal sector so well.



Stiglitz basically takes the IMF to town in this book. During his work with the Clinton administration and as chief economist at the World Bank, Stiglitz outlines what is wrong with global financial institutions and their pursuit of neo-liberal economic reforms. Much of the book is based on the privatization and liberalization of Russia and fromer Bloc countries after the fall of the USSR and the Asian economic crisis in 1997. It is really outstanding, and it is written for people who don't have a great knowledge of economics.

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11-01-2012, 07:31 PM
  #375
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Quote:
Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission: locate and recover two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He comes to in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase. The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels…off. As the days pass, Ethan’s investigation into the disappearance of his colleagues turns up more questions than answers. Why can’t he get any phone calls through to his wife and son in the outside world? Why doesn’t anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what is the purpose of the electrified fences surrounding the town? Are they meant to keep the residents in? Or something else out? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the world he thought he knew, from the man he thought he was, until he must face a horrifying fact—he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive. Intense and gripping, Pines is another masterful thriller from the mind of bestselling novelist Blake Crouch.
I give it 4 stars out of 5. Cool ending and this is not a detective novel, definitely Sci-fi. On kindle for $2.99.

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