YouKneeK

My favorite genres are science fiction and fantasy.  Occasionally, I also read horror, thriller, and mystery stories.  For more info about me than you could possibly want, check the "My Profile" link on the right-hand column.

Review: Night Watch (Discworld Book 34 of 53ish)

Night Watch - Terry Pratchett

Night Watch is the 6th book in the Watch subseries of Discworld

 

Surprisingly, I enjoyed this one pretty well.  I say “surprisingly” because, as I’ve said in other reviews, Vimes often gets on my nerves.  This book focuses on him very heavily, more than any other book since the first Watch book.  However, we see more of the sarcastic and clever aspects of Vimes which I do enjoy and far less of the bitter, woe-is-me, self-destructive aspects which drive me crazy.

 

This is a time travel story.  Vimes accidentally gets thrown back in time, to a point shortly after he had first joined the Watch.  History of course gets changed, and now he has to make sure events happen that will keep his future in-tact.

 

It wasn’t a completely riveting story, but it had its fun parts.  Some of those fun parts came from seeing various other Discworld characters at an earlier stage in their lives and learning what they were like before the series began.  I particularly enjoyed meeting a younger Vetinari, a character I’ve enjoyed since he was first introduced.

Review: The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds (Atria Books) - H.G. Wells

The War of the Worlds is a classic alien invasion novel written by H. G. Wells.  I think it would be difficult for a present-day science fiction reader to be completely blown away by this book when we’ve inevitably read or watched many similar types of stories.  However, it was still entertaining and it held my interest well with only the occasional dry spot.

 

I think what helped the story feel more “fresh” to me was the time period.  It’s set at around the same time as it was written – in the late 1800’s.  Most of the older science fiction books I’ve read have been set in the “future” as imagined by the author.  With this book, I had the fun of visiting a time period I don’t often see in my science fiction reading.  Since the author was living in that time period, it felt pretty authentic.  That, combined with the matter-of-fact tone the story is written in, almost made it feel like I was reading about a historical event that they forgot to teach us in school. :)  The technology of the time played a definite role in how things played out, particularly in terms of the limited transportation and communication options.

 

The writing style, as I said before, was very matter-of-fact.  It was written as a first-person account of events, focusing mainly on the events the narrator experienced.  There are also a couple chapters that tell part of his brother’s story to expand the view of what happened in areas further away from the narrator.

 

Although the story held my interest, there were certain aspects of it that I wasn’t thrilled with, and that I tend to complain about when they come up in other books.  This book has those one-dimensionally evil, invading aliens that never hold too much interest for me.  There’s also a bit of that “run, find refuge, danger approaches again, run again” circular pattern that I usually find tedious.  I wasn’t as bothered by these things in this book, though.  I think that was a combination of how short the book is, combined with the interesting time period in which it was set which added a different element to the story than what I’m used to reading.

Review: The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (Discworld Book 33 of 53ish)

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (Discworld, #28) - Terry Pratchett

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents is the first young adult Discworld book.  It was a short book, and a cute story, but I thought it was pretty substantial in terms of both plot and messages.  The plot was certainly more substantial than many of his adult Discworld books.  I didn’t think there was quite as much humor, but it had its funny moments.

 

The basic premise is that some of the rats in Ankh-Morpork, after eating magical rubbish dumped by the residents of the Unseen University, have become intelligent.  They can talk in human speech, read, and think rationally.  Maurice, a cat, has gained similar abilities.  Maurice is, like most cats, opportunistic.  He finds himself a “stupid-looking kid” who can play a pipe, and starts up a scam with the rats and the kid in which they all travel to various towns, the rats freak out the residents, and the stupid-looking kid plays the pipe and pretends he’s charming the rats into leaving the town.  For a fee, of course.  The story begins as they approach a new town where they plan to execute their scam.  Things don’t go as planned.

 

I enjoyed the story pretty well.  It had some fun characters, both of the human and non-human variety.  I particularly liked Maurice, of course!  Even though this may seem like a weird comparison to anybody who has read both books, I kept having flashbacks to Watership Down.  The books are very different in most ways, but there were some similarities in tone and even a couple similar events.  If I hadn’t read Watership Down so recently, I doubt I would have had the same reaction.

Review: The Last Hero (Discworld Book 32 of 53ish)

The Last Hero - Terry Pratchett, Paul Kidby

The Last Hero is the seventh book in the Rincewind subseries.  It’s actually an illustrated novel, the first one I’ve read.  It was only available as an illustrated version (unlike Eric which I read in a non-illustrated format), and I do think some of the illustrations were important to the story.  If nothing else, the ending might not make much sense without the corresponding picture.  The reader could probably guess what it showed if they’d been paying attention to the story, though.

 

The story itself is short, but cute.  Cohen and his horde of heroes are on a quest, and their heroic shenanigans might destroy the entire Discworld.  A variety of familiar characters get involved in trying to prevent this and, naturally, Rincewind gets dragged into things against his will.  Sort of.

 

I’m not a very visual person, so illustrations don’t usually do much for me.  Despite that, I still enjoyed the pictures in this book.  I particularly enjoyed seeing illustrations for the various characters I’ve read about over the past many books.  I can’t say too many of them actually looked the way I had pictured them in my mind, but they were still fun to see.  The Rincewind illustrations in particular were great.  The one on the cover is funny, but not very representative of the others.  The other Rincewind illustrations throughout the book all show him with this perpetual frown and a dejected look that made me laugh every time he showed up in a picture.

 

I don’t normally include pictures with my reviews but, seeing as how this is an illustrated novel, I thought it would be fun to show one of my favorite pictures in the book. :)

Review: Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice (Wisehouse Classics - with Illustrations by H.M. Brock) - Jane Austen, H.M. Brock

Although I loved reading from an early age, I didn’t usually enjoy the classics we were required to read for school.  In my adult years, I’ve mostly avoided them aside from several science fiction and fantasy classics.  As a result of a conversation in a thread on another site, I decided to read one classic per quarter, not counting the SF&F classics I would have read anyway.  Four classics per year may not sound like much, but it’s an easy commitment to keep and it’s better than my previous rate of 0 per year.  So, Pride and Prejudice was my first pick.  I chose it in large part because I had never read anything by Jane Austen and because I often see her work referred to favorably, so I’ve been curious about it. 

 

I did enjoy it quite a bit.  It’s full of sarcastic humor, sometimes very subtly expressed and sometimes not.  Elizabeth’s father was particularly amusing, and provoked my most uproarious outbursts of laughter.  He had some major flaws, of course, and maybe I shouldn’t have found him as funny as I did, but he really was hilarious.  Elizabeth herself could be quite funny also.  Jane grated on my nerves at times but, in general, I either liked the characters or else I was at least amused by them. 

 

I think this proved to be an accessible starting point for reading classics, with a straight-forward story that left me free to focus more on the writing style and the customs of the time.  Pride and Prejudice was published in the early 1800’s, and the language was definitely a bit different from today’s language, but it was easy to understand in context.  Even completely unfamiliar terms such as an “entail” were given enough context for me to understand what they meant.  By the time I finally looked up more info, I didn’t learn much more than I had already figured out on my own, although it was nice to get the confirmation and see things described a bit more concisely.

 

The biggest difficulty I had in the beginning was with keeping the characters straight.  In that era, people were usually addressed and referenced formally, using their last names.  There were multiple characters with the same last name since they were members of the same family, and sometimes I had to re-read passages to make sure I knew who was doing and saying what.  I had far less confusion once I got far enough into the story to have a better handle on who the different characters were. 

 

If this same story had been told in a modern setting and with modern language, I doubt I would have enjoyed it nearly as much.  I’m not crazy for romance novels, which is essentially what this book is.  I’m sure it influenced many of the common romance plot elements found in books today, and I definitely recognized some of them from the romances I read in my youth.  At least plot devices like “the big misunderstanding” and “assuming the worst” are somewhat less annoying in a setting where people didn’t speak as openly about things as we do today.  It makes the whole thing a little more believable.  Those same devices in modern books, where the characters talk about anything and everything except the one piece of info that would cut the whole story short by 200+ pages, annoy the heck out of me.  Either way, the romance aspect of Pride and Prejudice was not the main draw for me and was in fact a bit too sappy for me at the end.  What I really enjoyed was reading what the characters did in their day-to-day lives, how they interacted with each other, what constituted “civility”, and, of course, all the sarcasm.  It was almost like having the chance to visit and learn about a new culture.

Review: Thief of Time (Discworld Book 31 of 53ish)

Thief of Time (Discworld, #26) - Terry Pratchett

Thief of Time is the fifth and final(!) book in the Death subseries of Discworld.  I’ve always been a little iffy on this subseries, but I think this was my favorite of the five books.  The general story is that an Auditor has commissioned a clockmaker, Jeremy, to make a special clock.  What the Auditor doesn’t tell Jeremy is that this clock will supposedly have the power to stop time, bringing an end, or at least a permanent pause, to the Discworld. 

 

Death didn’t actually get that much page time in this book.  Maybe that’s partly why I enjoyed it.  I like Death in small doses, when he’s being funny or clever or profound, but he starts to grate on my nerves in larger doses.  This was especially true in the first three books where he essentially shirked his responsibilities and let other people take up the slack for him.  Meanwhile, he went off and had what would be considered a mid-life crisis if he were a human.  Happily, Death has seemed better-grounded in these last two books, so I’ve started enjoying his character more.

 

In this book, we finally get a chance to learn more about the Auditors.  Unsurprisingly, Susan shows up again.  I enjoyed most of her sections, especially the ones at the beginning.  I also really liked the characters of Lu-Tze and Lobsang who take up a large portion of the story.  They’re mostly just your stereotypical well-respected and mysterious monk with his exceptionally clever but impatient apprentice, at least at first, but they were fun characters.  The master/apprentice portrayal is a common plot device in fantasy, but it’s one that I tend to enjoy. 

 

I expected this book to earn 4 stars up until maybe the last 25% or so, at which point I started to lose interest in the story.  Somehow the climatic events were the most boring parts to me, I think because it went too far into “random chaos” territory at times.  In the end, I decided on a rating of 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 on Goodreads.

Review: The Truth (Discworld Book 30 of 53ish)

The Truth - Terry Pratchett

The Truth is the second book in the Industrial Revolution subseries of Discworld.  The first book had been Moving Pictures and was one of my least favorite, so I was very pleasantly surprised by this one.  I enjoyed it quite a bit. 

 

 

In this book, newspapers are introduced to Ankh-Morpork.  Meanwhile, there’s a plot against Lord Vetinari (yes, another one!) to frame him for a crime.  The story was funny and interesting, with some deeper commentary sandwiched within the silliness.  I really liked the main character, William de Worde.  Since the story is set in Ankh-Morpork, we also see some other familiar characters from the various subseries.  Most of the page time goes to William, though, or to the people involved in carrying out the Vetinari plot.

Review: Death's End (Remembrance of Earth's Past Book 3 of 3)

Death's End (Remembrance of Earth's Past) - Cixin Liu, Ken Liu

This was the final book in the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy that began with The Three-Body Problem.  Reading the trilogy was an interesting and mostly fun experience.  

 

The story didn’t at all go where I had expected based on the end of the second book.  I think, if I’d let things simmer in my head for a day or two before jumping into the third book, my natural “yeah, but what happens when…” thoughts would surely have led me to guess one of the main catalytic events and better predict some aspects of the story.  I’m glad I didn’t let it sit, though.  It was more fun to just stay on the ride and let the rollercoaster jostle me around and surprise me.

 

For me, this book was the fastest-paced out of the three and it had some of the coolest ideas to read about.  One thing that contributed to its faster pace was the beginning.  The first two books took a few pages to hook my attention, but this one sucked me in immediately because it confused me.  The story itself made sense but, at first, I had absolutely no idea how it related to the trilogy.  Trying to guess how it would all tie in kept me fully engaged.  There were a few slow spots here and there in the middle but, for the most part, the various twists and turns in the story held my interest well. 

 

I would caution that this trilogy doesn’t wrap everything up with a neat bow and a happily-ever-after ending.  In a story where I become really invested in the characters, this kind of an ending would be more bothersome to me.  This story, on the other hand, is much more about the ideas and the plot.  Because of that, I was content with the ending and thought it was very interesting.  I’m glad this series was translated to English and that I had the opportunity to enjoy it.

Review: The Dark Forest (Remembrance of Earth's Past Book 2 of 3)

The Dark Forest - Cixin Liu

This is the second book in the trilogy Remembrance of Earth’s Past, following The Three-Body Problem.  I enjoyed it quite a bit, I guess about equally as well as the first book or possibly a little bit more.  It had a few stretches where I had trouble maintaining my interest, but it also had some really great and interesting concepts that inevitably pulled my attention back to the book.  I also loved the ending, which caught me by surprise and left me very eager to read the next book. 

 

I can’t even hint at the plot without spoiling the entire first book, so I’ll just say that it picks up with the type of events you’d expect.  However, the story is fairly twisty and there are several surprises throughout.  There were some things I had more-or-less figured out on my own, but there were other things that completely surprised me.  It’s often a rather bleak story, but that just made the hopeful parts of the story seem that much brighter.

 

This book features mostly (but not completely) different characters.  As with the first book, the characters were interesting and believable, but the plot is the bigger draw here.  I did get slightly more invested in the characters than I had in the first book, but not extremely so.  I had a few quibbles with some aspects of the plot, particularly with Hines’ part of the story, but not as many as I did with the first book. 

 

One thing I did have more trouble with in this book was the names.  Surprisingly, I never had any trouble with them in the first book, but this book had a few too many names that seemed similar to my uneducated American eyes.  Zhang Beihai, Zhuang Yan, and Chang Weisi particularly gave me trouble.  There were also some characters who were related and so had the same surname, which is written first.  All in all, I was able to keep it straight thanks to the reference at the beginning of the book and my Kindle’s search feature, and it got easier as I got further into the book, but I expended more effort on name tracking than I normally do.

 

My last comment is about the ending, so it will have to go behind spoiler tags:

I was surprised when an apparent resolution to the conflict was reached by the end.  I had seen in the chapter headings that the book only covered about half of the expected time until the fleet from Trisolaris arrived, and everything seemed so bleak up through almost the end, that I didn’t expect anything to get resolved in this book.  Although I enjoyed this story, I wasn’t feeling very enthusiastic about having it dragged out for two books, so the end was a pleasant surprise and I thought it was done very well.

(show spoiler)

 

I look forward to seeing where the story goes in the third book.

Review: The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth's Past Book 1 of 3)

The Three-Body Problem - Cixin Liu, Ken Liu

The Three-Body Problem was originally written in Chinese and has been translated to English.  I read the English translation, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  The story had its quirks, but it held my interest well.  One of the fun aspects was definitely getting a little taste of Chinese culture and history, since I know appalling little about China.  The translator has added a few footnotes to help explain cultural references that wouldn’t make sense to many readers from other countries, and the author also had a few footnotes to explain some science concepts.  The book wasn’t overloaded with footnotes; there were 35 in all and they helped add some clarity to the story.

 

This is one of those books where, early on, you are given a lot of questions and then the answers are slowly revealed throughout the book.  This makes it difficult to describe the plot in any detail without spoiling all of the fun of seeing everything revealed for oneself.  I’m going to confine myself to describing one of the first plot elements that started the string of questions: something is going on with scientists throughout our world.  Many of them are committing suicide.

 

This is more of a plot-driven book than a character-driven book.  The characters were interesting and believable, but this was not a book where I became really invested in the characters.  The story was the real draw.  I did think there were some aspects of the plot that didn’t really fit together correctly.  One of the larger issues I had will have to be described within spoiler tags…

 

The virtual reality game was entertaining to read about, and it engaged me mentally, but it didn’t seem logical within the context of the plot.  What was the real purpose of the game that would justify the resources that would have been required to develop and operate the game?  We know the purpose wasn’t to figure out what the problem on Trisolaris was.   Obviously the game developers already knew the problem because they used the name of the theory as the name of the game.  I don’t think the purpose was to figure out a solution to the three-body problem, because the game seemed to be run by the Adventist faction.  That faction didn’t <i>want</i> a solution because they didn’t want anything to dissuade the Trisolarians from invading Earth.  There did seem to be an attempt to use the game as a way to recruit people who would support their goals, but surely this game was not the most efficient way to find those people?  For one thing, why did they need to recruit people anyway?  Trisolarians certainly seemed to have things pretty well under control on their own thanks to the sophons.  And if they were trying to recruit people, why would players of this game be more likely to be receptive to the cause than, say, your average asylum escapee?  The game seemed more like an intellectual exercise than anything.  Experiencing a simulation of what Trisolarians had to live with might inspire some empathy, but that empathy is not going to cause most people to want to sacrifice humanity and let the Trisolarians have Earth.

(show spoiler)

 

This is the first book in a trilogy, and it doesn’t really resolve anything.  It does not end in a cliff hanger though, and it answered all the main questions brought up throughout the story.  It left me very curious about what will happen next, so I plan to jump right into the second book.

Review: The Fifth Elephant (Discworld Book 29 of 53ish)

The Fifth Elephant - Terry Pratchett

The Fifth Elephant is the fifth book in the Watch subseries of Discworld.  As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, my enjoyment of the Watch books has grown as the series has progressed.  With this book however, I wasn’t as entertained by it as I had been by the last couple.  I’m not sure if it was the book or if it was me, since I was traveling on business this week and I was surprisingly tired even though it wasn’t a particularly strenuous trip.  There were also a lot of distractions during the bulk of the time I spent reading it.

 

As with the last couple of Watch books, this is one of the more plot-driven Discworld books.  Vimes is sent on a “diplomatic” mission to Uberwald to attend a coronation but he ends up with a mystery to solve.  The plot was somewhat interesting, but not riveting.  The humor was there, but it didn’t often have me laughing out loud.  While the other characters all had their parts to play, Vimes had the largest role and maybe that’s part of the reason I didn’t enjoy it as much.  I usually think the other characters in this subseries are more entertaining.

 

So, all in all, I found this book to be pretty average.  I enjoyed it, but it probably isn’t one of the books I’ll look back on with any particular fondness.

Audiobook Review: Revelation (Rai-Kirah Book 2 of 3)

Revelation - Carol Berg

This is the 2nd book in the Rai-Kirah trilogy, which I originally read in print five or six years ago.  This past November, I started listening to the series in audio during commutes.  I’m a terrible audiobook listener, but this series is one of my very few successes.

 

In my review of the first book, I wrote at excessive length about my difficulties with audiobooks and why this series is working for me, so I don’t want to repeat myself too much here.  However, I do want to comment again on the narrator, Kevil Stillwell.  He sets the perfect tone for the main character, the first-person narrator for the story, and he uses recognizably distinct voices for the other main characters.  Most of his reading is done in a fairly understated way.  When he does get more dramatic, it’s always at an appropriate moment, and it has occasionally given me chills.  For me, it’s so much more effective when a narrator saves the drama for special moments.

 

This story begins a couple years after the previous book ended.  It tells a complete story, with the main issues resolved at the end, but the foundation needed to truly appreciate it is set in the first book, Transformation.  I wouldn’t recommend reading this book first.  There were many new and interesting twists that built on the things we had learned in the first book.  In particular, we learn a lot more about the demons and how the Ezzarians ended up being responsible for protecting the world against them.

 

There was a lengthy section around the middle that started to feel like it was dragging a little.  Our main character is cut off from everything familiar and, most importantly, he was cut off from all of the secondary characters I enjoyed so much.  The story was still interesting, but my attention started drifting more frequently than it had before.  I remember being completely absorbed by the entire series when I read it in print, so my perspective is likely the result of listening to it over a very long period of time in audio, a format with which I have trouble paying attention to begin with.  Instead of that section lasting for a day or two of reading, it lasted for weeks’ worth of commutes.

 

There were several great moments throughout the book, and I particularly loved the ending.  I’m not going to have any more opportunities to listen to audiobooks this week, but I look forward to starting the final book next Monday.

Review: Watership Down

Watership Down - Richard Adams

This was my first time reading Watership Down, and I didn’t know too much about it before I began reading except that it was a story told from the perspective of rabbits. I’m glad I finally read it, and I enjoyed it, but I was never enthralled by it. It was easy for me to put down.

 

The book starts off with a rabbit, Fiver, having a premonition that something horrible is going to happen to the warren where he and his brother live. His brother Hazel has learned that Fiver’s instincts about danger are usually correct, so Hazel does his best to help Fiver convince the chief rabbit that all the rabbits need to leave. Without any tangible support for their argument, the chief doesn’t take them seriously and is quite annoyed at being disturbed with such nonsense. A handful of rabbits decide to leave anyway, and the story is about the adventures they have after leaving as they try to make new lives for themselves.

 

Somehow I’ve gone through life without having much exposure to rabbits. I’ve seen a couple wild rabbits here and there at a distance, and I’ve occasionally seen fuzzy, rabbity lumps not doing much of anything (understandably) in tiny cages in pet stores, but that’s about it. When I was about halfway through the book, it finally occurred to me to look up rabbit videos online. That was nearly as entertaining as kitten videos, and searching for some specific things (fighting, thumping) helped me better picture some of the action in the book.

 

There really weren’t any major twists or surprises in this story. At least, not in my opinion. I felt like everything that happened was easily predicted by common sense, if not hinted at by the author well in advance. The string of adventures sometimes felt a little tedious to me, but there were also times when I was pretty well entertained by it. It also took me quite a while to warm up to the characters, but I did feel fairly attached to some of them by the end.

 

There’s an anthology associated with this book, Tales from Watership Down, but I’ve decided not to read it.

Review: Redshirts

Red Shirts - John Scalzi

Redshirts was a very fast read, light and funny, but with some depth mixed in here and there also.  It was an especially nice change of pace after my last couple of books which were slower reads for me.  It probably helped that I loved the original Star Trek series, because I was able to appreciate the parody aspect.  Reading this book actually made me want to pull out my TOS Blu-ray discs, and it’s the first time in months that I’ve had the slightest urge to even turn on my TV.  So far I’m resisting the urge, though!  I don’t know if I’d say Star Trek familiarity is a must for appreciating this book, but I do think it would help a lot, especially if you normally like your plots to make sense. 

 

The story is entertaining and the characters are written well, but the plot is pretty crazy.  I don’t think the plot was ever intended to make sense; it was just supposed to be fun.  In that, it surely succeeded.  Despite the plot silliness, the characters themselves really weren’t too difficult to take seriously and even the story didn’t often feel too over-the-top.  I liked the characters and cared what happened to them.  I’m having trouble explaining my reaction to this book because it somehow felt both silly and not silly at the same time. 

 

 

Because of my mixed “silly/not-silly” reaction, I went through most of the book undecided about whether the author was going to stick with the crazy plot explanation he appeared to be working toward from the beginning or if he was going to give it a more serious, believable twist.  I kept half-expecting Scalzi to come up with an explanation that made actual sense, even while suspecting that wouldn’t happen.

(show spoiler)

 

This was my first time reading anything by Scalzi and I think it gave me a good taste of what he’s capable of.  It wasn’t just the humor that appealed to me, but the way he made me care about the characters and the way he depicted the friendships between them.  I definitely plan to try more of his books at some point in the future.  The main reasons I didn’t rate this higher are: 1) I do prefer plots that make sense and 2) it was just so, so short that I was left wanting a little more meat.  It was still a very enjoyable read and I’m glad I finally tried it.

Review: The Science of Discworld (Discworld Book 28 of 53ish)

The Science Of Discworld - Terry Pratchett, Jack Cohen, Ian Stewart

The Science of Discworld is an odd sort of Discworld book.  Based on the name, I had thought it was going to delve into more detail about the fictional workings of the Discworld.  Like, say, how the giant turtle and the elephants stay alive outside of an atmosphere or how water on the Discworld gets replenished when it keeps falling off the disc…  If that last sentence makes it sound like I’ve gone off the deep end, then you clearly haven’t tried reading Discworld.

 

The science in this book is actually more about the real science of our own world, with a very thin Discworld story interspersed between the science bits.   The Discworld part of the story takes place in the Unseen University, where the wizards end up creating a simulation of the birth of a universe remarkably like ours, followed by many million years’ worth of evolution on “roundworld”, a planet that is also remarkably like ours.  Each short Discworld-based chapter is then followed up with a science chapter discussing topics related to what’s going on in the Discworld story.

 

For the first 25% of this book, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through to the end.  The science parts were boring me to tears because they mostly covered either terribly basic concepts or entirely theoretical topics that I wasn’t very interested in reading about.  As it went on, it got more interesting, although there were still scattered bits of boredom here and there.  If this had been a book about computer science, I probably would have enjoyed the theoretical parts equally as well as the practical parts.   Actually, even though it wasn’t at all the focus of the story, computer science did get a few mentions here and there, and I particularly enjoyed those parts.  When it comes to the natural sciences, however, my interest isn’t strong enough to sustain me through theory.  I enjoyed it when the authors discussed what we do know and why we think we know it, whereas the various speculations about things we have no way of knowing for sure were more frustrating to me than interesting.

 

The Discworld part of the story was very short, but amusing.  It served as a nice way to break up the science bits and provide some humor.  However, the story had a major logical flaw that annoyed me to no end: 

It’s supposed to be physically impossible for anybody to get into the Roundworld experiment, but Hex is able to use suits to let people enter Roundworld virtually.  Rincewind is the first person made to try this, and the luggage shows up physically in Roundworld, supposedly following Rincewind there.  But Rincewind’s actual, physical body is still in Unseen University.  There’s no logical reason that the luggage should have ended up inside the experiment.  It was only done as cheap story trick to allow the wizards to get materials to and from Roundworld by having them transported via the luggage.

(show spoiler)

 

So… will I read the second science book?  Yes, I think so, once I get to that point in the publication order.  Whether or not I read the last two will probably depend on my reaction to the second one.

Reading Habits Q&A

Thank you to Spooky’s House of Books for starting this tag, and BookLikes for spreading the word!  I thought it was especially cool that Kate from BL staff took the time to answer the Q&A, so check out the link if you missed it.

 

 

1. Do you have a certain place in your home for reading?

 

Most of my reading is done in my reclining loveseat, in the sitting room that adjoins my master bedroom.  It's a cozy little area with a fireplace (although I rarely actually use it), lots of windows, and a door leading out onto a small deck.

 

At night, I usually try to get ready for bed an hour early and then spend that last hour reading in bed.

 

On warmer days, I like to read on the aforementioned deck and enjoy the fresh air.  

 

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?

 

E-reader. ;)  I primarily read e-books, so my e-reader remembers my spot for me, even if I read the same book on different devices throughout the day.

 

 

3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop reading after a chapter / certain number of pages?

 

I rarely sit down with the intent to read a certain # of pages or chapters.  As far as getting to a good stopping point, which I think is how most people are interpreting this question, I’m not terribly particular.  My e-reader gives me an estimate of how much time it will take me to reach the end of my current chapter so, if I’m close, and if I have time, I’ll usually stop at the chapter break.  Otherwise, I like to aim for a section break. 

 

However, I've frequently stopped at random spots, even mid-sentence.  This especially happens if I start getting really sleepy and can’t focus on the words.  If I’m just going to sit there reading the same paragraph over and over because I can’t focus on it, then it’s time to put the book down.  Regardless of where I stop, I always go back and read the previous paragraph or two when I start back up.  That usually helps me get my head back into the story quickly.

 

 

4. Do you eat or drink while you read?

 

I never eat while I read.  If I get hungry, I stop reading and usually eat at the computer.  I rarely drink while I read, either.  If I do have a drink next to me while I’m reading, I usually forget to drink it and then it gets warm and yucky. 

 

 

5. Multitasking: music or TV while reading?

 

Sometimes on the weekends I’ll listen to music while I read, as long as it’s something relaxing and not too obtrusive.  On weekdays I prefer to read in silence.  After being at work all day, where there’s usually a lot of boisterous activity, I’m ready for some peace and quiet.

 

Reading with the TV on?  Never.  I get exasperated when I’m trying to read in a hotel room and the neighbor has the TV on.  That’s when the headphones usually come out.  I know several people who always leave the TV on as a normal part of the background noise in their homes, even when they go to sleep.  It’s all about what you’re used to, I guess, but I would go insane in their households.

 

 

6. One book at a time or several at once?

 

Almost always one at a time.  I’m not much of a mood reader, so I don’t feel the need for random changes of pace.  I just want to immerse myself as fully as possible in whatever my current read is and give it my undivided attention.

 

I do make some exceptions, though.  At the moment, I’m slowly working my way through The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales.  This book has 211 fairy tales in it, and I’m pretty sure my brain cells would all die if I read that many fairy tales in a row.  I just fit them in here and there when I want something short and mindless.  I also currently have an audiobook that I’m listening to during my commute.  I don’t always do audiobooks, but I found a series that’s working well for me and it has made the Atlanta traffic much more bearable.  Since I only listen while I’m commuting, and since it’s impossible for me to read a written book (and stay alive) while I’m driving, I look at them as separate types of entertainment.

 

 

7. Reading at home or everywhere?

 

Normally at home.  My reading speed and comprehension is definitely at its best when I’m home with less noise and fewer distractions.  (If the cat is sleeping, anyway…)  But I do read other places also when I have the time or if I find myself stuck somewhere unexpectedly.  Once in a great while I manage to find time to read on my lunch break, and I’ll read while traveling or in waiting rooms.

 

 

8. Reading out loud or silently in your head?

 

Normally, I read silently.  Reading out loud would be too slow.  However, one thing I learned when taking university classes is that reading out loud can really help me focus on material that isn’t holding my attention.  I read aloud a lot when I was reading school textbooks, often in some silly, snooty-sounding accent to help me stay entertained.  Ever since discovering that trick, I've occasionally done the same thing with fiction books if I'm having trouble getting through a certain passage, but usually only for a page at most.  As you may have gathered, I’m not much of a skimmer; I’m always afraid I’ll miss something important.

 

 

9. Do you read ahead or even skip pages?

 

I never, ever skip pages.  Once in a while, if I’m in a particularly tense section of a great book, I might not be able to refrain from allowing my eyes to flick down the page and get the gist of what happens on that page before I read it more thoroughly.  I try not to do that, though.

 

 

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

 

I treat my e-readers with great care.  Before e-readers, it depended on the book.  If it was a paperback, I usually didn’t worry too much, although I did try to treat them carefully.  I treated pretty hardbacks much more gingerly, but it always felt like kind of an annoyance and distraction to me.  It’s one large reason why I prefer e-readers so much.  I just want to enjoy the story itself, the whole point of reading a book after all, without distraction.  I don't need all that touchy-feely-sniffy stuff that some people have going on with their books. ;)

 

 

11. Do you write in your books?

 

I’ll sometimes use the highlighting or note functions in my e-reader if I want to remember something when I write my review.  With school textbooks, I usually used flags.  That seemed more effective than notes or highlights because I could find them even with the book closed.

Currently reading

The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel
Terry Pratchett, Jack Cohen, Ian Stewart
The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales (Knickerbocker Classics)
Wilhelm Grimm, Jacob Grimm