Monday, August 10, 2015

Speed-reviewing - Books 41-75

We've got a loooong way to go in one post, so much so that I've even used a break. I'll only give more than a passing comment for books that stood out from the crowd for some reason, and I've grouped the series items for the benefit of all, with one exception. I notice that there is a very high proportion of graphic novels, probably in part a reflection on how crazy the last months have been. They're wonderful when you don't want to commit to a novel with its much longer read-time.

Examining the use of data, statistics and scientific research in media and beyond, this book is excellent. It shows many of the ways in which numbers and research findings can be used or misused to mislead or misrepresent on any number of topics. That's good in itself, but it also goes some way to teaching the reader how to critically evaluate claims they might encounter, what is a good quality standard and how professional areas can reform to ensure that they adhere to high information and quality standards.

This is a collection of newspaper columns and other articles written over a number of years, polished up a bit and ordered so that there's a sense of order to the book. One of the longer ones is readily available on the author's site here, and it's interesting reading.

42-43 &50-52 - FlambeMajor League Chew, Space Cakes, Bad Apples and Family Recipes  (Chew Vol. 4-8) - John Layman, Rob Guillory

Loaded with story development and new heights of amusing gross-ness and messed-up-ness.

44 - No Normal (Ms Marvel NOW!, Vol. 1) - G Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

Loved this, looking forward to reading more. Highly recommended for graphic novel fans, even the superhero-averse.

45 - How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie

I read this over the course of a couple months, little bits at a time. I had avoided reading it for a long time due to a self-help-book allergy (*achoo*) but this one was well worth the time. It made me think about the way I behave and how my actions may be perceived. It's not perfect, of course, but worth the time to read. Most chapters are only a few pages and it's best not to power through it as the aim is to consider and absorb the ideas rather than simply run eyes over the words.

46 - The Invisible Library - Genevieve Cogman

Although I enjoy the steampunk style the few books I've tried have been insufferable, or history with cogs glued on. Pleased to say this one was enjoyable. Looking forward to more when it comes out.

47 - Storm Front (Dresden Files 1) - Jim Butcher, read by James Marsters

The audiobook I listened to while packing and sorting the house in Gawler. Well familiar with the book previously. Brilliant reading by James Marsters

48 - Page by Paige - Laura Lee Gulledge

A nice coming-of-age story, beautifully done as a graphic novel. Really appreciated the street art angle.

49 - The genome - Sergei Lukyanenko

Interesting SciFi read, with elements of parody. The parody was subtle at first so there were a few things that jarred until I realised that. There's a lot lost in translation, I suspect, but still a great read. The Russian-ness really shines through as with Lukyanenko's other books. I hope the companion book is translated.

53 - In real life - Cory Doctorow, Jen Wang

Not sure this one hit the mark it was aiming at. Very mixed feelings.

54, 62 & 64 - Assassin's apprentice, Royal assassin & Assassin's quest (Farseer Trilogy) - Robin Hobb

An author I've been meaning to read for a very long time. The series is very strong on character development and growth, at times the plot moves relatively slowly but the the pacing works. Heck of a time commitment per book beyond the first... I've started to read the next series already.

55 - The sculptor - Scott McCloud

Until the last week, the heftiest graphic novel I'd read. Bit Faust-y, quite good.

56 - Trigger warning - Neil Gaiman

Many excellent reads in here, unsurprising given the author. Several were familiar having been published separately or in other things.

57 - Guards! Guards! the graphic novel - Terry Pratchett, Stephen Briggs et. al.

Only read if you're familiar with the source novel or you'll be totally lost. Even so, doesn't really compare. Read the other Discworld graphic novels instead.

58 - String theory (Wayward, Vol 1) - Jim Zub, Stephen Cumming & John Rauch

Not bad, but not really my thing. Odd that the on-book review compares it to Saga.

59 - A darker shade of magic - V E Schwab

Third book in a row of "not dreadful, not really wonderful either". Perhaps I would have appreciated it more if I hadn't read so much good dimension/alternate reality switching fiction in the past.

60 - To hold the bridge - Garth Nix

Really enjoyed the title story that connects to the Old Kingdom series, I'd met many of the others before in other places. Seems a common thing with single-author collections. Overall, as is so often the case with short story collections, mixed bag.

61 - Fool Moon (Dresden Files 2) - Jim Butcher, read by James Marsters

My in-car audio for the long Adelaide-Melbourne drive. Kept me sane. Wonderfully performed.

63 - An age of licence - Lucy Knisley

Good read, though 'Relish' is still my favourite by this author.

65 - How to survive anything - Lonely Planet

Some amusing sections. Read when totally physically and mentally exhausted, and it was the right thing for that time.

66, 68, 70-71 & 73-74 - Back on the street, Lust for life, Year of the bastardThe new scum, Lonely city and Gouge away (Transmetropolitan Vol. 1-6) - Warren Ellis & Darick Robertson

Another case of why haven't I read this already? Much like another yet to come, a very significant graphic novel series I just hadn't got to before.

Spider Jerusalem is a drug-taking, chain-smoking, violent, disrespectful and generally unpleasant star journalist, forced back to a city he doesn't want to be in by a book deal he's not finished yet. Set in a possible future, the city is riddled with corruption and Spider, for all his faults, might be the one person with the intelligence and nerve to penetrate the lies and speak up for what's right. These are fantastic, though I'm reading a few other things before returning to the series as I need some books prepared to speak on soon and I'm not sure these'd fly as book recommendations to the audience I have at work...

Oh, and, one of these has an introduction from Patrick Stewart.

67 - Happily Every After (Fables 21) - Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham et al.

This series is nearing the end, and there's a lot of wrapping-up going on. Sadly not entirely Jack-free, but a good volume.

69 - Sherlock Holmes vs zombies (Victorian Undead, Vol. 1) - Ian Edginton & Davide Fabbri

Great fun with all the classic characters and a serving of horror on the side.

72 - The New Deadwardians Vol. 1 - Dan Abnett & I N J Culbard

An alternate history where a zombie apocalypse has wiped out much of England and the wealthy have taken 'the cure' and become vampires to avoid the worse fate. Edwardian society, strict etiquette and an old-fashioned mystery mix with an interesting setting to create a great read. One of the many volumes that makes me wish I wish I could recommend more of the great works I read without running into the brick-wall dual prejudices against horror (or other speculative genres) and graphic novels. I'll keep working on it.

75 - Sandman omnibus, Vol. 1 - Neil Gaiman et al.

A truly gargantuan volume, incredibly heavy, truly wonderful. My graphic novel education is missing a few of the greats of the format. This was one of them, but I'm already getting into the next volume and correcting the oversight. Deserves a bigger review, but nothing I've written so far really does it justice.


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