Sunday, April 20, 2014

Book Review: Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart

This is, as the subtitle rightly states, "A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was." It is part of a short series of books relating the adventures of Master Li and Number Ten Ox and are collected in a single volume on the Kindle store. It reminded me at parts of Sherlock Holmes and Alice in Wonderland as the characters travel to exotic and magical places meeting extraordinary characters all in order to solve the mysteries of ancient China.
‘Take a large bowl,’ I said. ‘Fill it with equal measures of fact, fantasy, history, mythology, science, superstition, logic, and lunacy. Darken the mixture with bitter tears, brighten it with howls of laughter, toss in three thousand years of civilization, bellow kan pei—which means “dry cup”—and drink to the dregs.’ Procopius stared at me. ‘And I will be wise?’ he asked. ‘Better,’ I said. ‘You will be Chinese.’”

Read on for my full review (spoiler-free).

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Book Review: Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Warbreaker is an interesting experiment that Brandon Sanderson decided to do. He released it online for free through his website, though you can buy it in hardcover (as I did) or through the kindle store (as I also did). If you don't want to pay for a Sanderson book, you can just grab the free version, though if you wanted to give him a try I would start with Mistborn.

This is the second time I read this, so I knew a few things to expect but still enjoyed the story. My full review after the jump.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Astronomy: Observing at CTIO

This past week I went to two observatories for some observing runs: Cerro Tololo International Observatory (CTIO) and La Silla Observatory. I've talked about La Silla before (here and here). However, it's been several years since I've been to CTIO. I'll briefly go over my experience there observing the Dark Energy Camera (DECam).

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Book Review: Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa

The latest selection our book club is Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (La tia Julia y el escribidor) by Mario Vargas Llosa. There's been a desire to read (English-translated) Latin American authors and this is one of the more popular ones. It reminded me of my days in high school where I had to read all manner of books for my Spanish class including works by Enrique Laguerre, Gabriel Garcia Marques, and many others. I know read mainly for entertainment and choose to do so in the genre of speculative fiction. I will endeavor to provide more fine science fiction and fantasy selections for our book club!

Read on for my full review.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Book Review: Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

This is the second book in Brandon's Sanderson's Stormlight Archive series. While projected as a ten-book series, it is already very strong and has a healthy community of speculation as readers try to decipher secrets and hints as to what may come next. Fortunately, Sanderson has shown his skill at writing quickly and efficiently so we have not had to wait too long between installments of his series. Hence, I highly recommend people give this series a try.

Read on for the full review, spoiler free (at least for book 2).

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Book Review: Dust of Dreams by Steven Erikson

Dust of Dreams is the ninth book of the ten-book series Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson. This has been a good series overall and the end is just in sight. It's taken a long time to go through these books for various reasons, though, which is a drawback when trying to remember the many names or plot lines. As always, I try to avoid direct spoilers, though some knowledge of the prior books will help.

Read on for my full review.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Book Review: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

This upcoming month's book club pick was Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I hesitated to start it as it did not sound appealing at all. However, once I did I was quickly sucked in by the story. Despite being nonfiction and a memoir of her travels along the Pacific Crest Trail, it reflects elements of Joseph Campbell's monomyth, perhaps most commonly known as "the hero's journey." This lends the story a broader appeal and was one of the main reasons why I quickly dug right in despite the initial hesitation.

Read on for the full review.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Book Review: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

I read Ender's Game a long time ago, back when I was in high school. When I think back and remember the science fiction and fantasy books that shaped my childhood years, that is one of the few that I can remember. One of my friends would send me the latest news on the Ender's Game movie for the past decade or so. It seemed we waited forever for the movie to be made.

Well, the movie has been made and I saw it a week or so ago. I'm not a movie critic, but while watching it I kept thinking back to the book. About how much I'd forgotten, and how much I'd remembered. It had been so long I decided to go back and re-read the book.

Read on for my review of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.