Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Book Review: Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

Equal Rites is the third book in the Discworld universe. That being said, it little to do with the prior two books (The Color of Magic, The Light Fantastic) and can be read on its own. I've read very little into the Discworld, yet I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Some people claim that Terry Pratchett's early work isn't that good, which is incredible since the ones I've read (the first 3) are excellent! I can't wait to get on to his later stuff.

This book deals with all the craziness of the Discworld, again. The story revolves around a young girl who wants to go to the Unseen University, the venerable institution that teaches magic to young men in order for them to become wizards. It makes it sound like lots of deep, abstract thinking is required to succeed. But hey, if you have the talent: nothing is stopping you! But this is Discworld, where nonsense and crazy is the norm. So there's one extra rule: you have to be a man to be a wizard. Good thing such gender biases do not happen in the real world! Oh wait.....

Read on for my full review!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Book Review: The Story of the Stone by Barry Hughart

The Story of the Stone is the second installment of Barry Hughart's Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox. It continues shortly after Bridge of Birds, though I don't believe you need to read them in order as the events of each are completely independent of one another. As before, the novel takes elements of Chinese history and myth and blends them together with a lot of fantasy. In this book, we get to see references to Prince Liu Sheng, Ssu-ma Ch'ien, and the novel Dream of the Red Chamber, among many others.

Below follows my full review.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Book Review: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

This was the latest book selected as part of the book club. It is the type of book that I never would have picked up in a thousand years. I was hesitant to start the book as pretty much when we picked it, it was described as a "candy" and "girl" book. This is what I get by being in a book club dominated by women! Still, I promised I would give it a shot and ended up finding things I liked in it. So while it wasn't the best for me, at least I don't feel like I wasted my time.

Read on for my full review.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Astronomy: Cool Stars 18 Meeting

Last week, I visited Flagstaff, Arizona to attend the 18th meeting of the "Cambridge Workshop on Cool Stars, Stellar Systems, and the Sun" more commonly known as "Cool Stars 18." This was an excellent conference and is probably the best I've ever been to. Despite being well focused on the field, there was still so much to see and learn. Furthermore, Flagstaff was a great city and I enjoyed my time there.

Here I summarize some of my thoughts on the meeting.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Book Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

I had to take some long flights and spend a week at a conference. I figured Storm Front by Jim Butcher was a light book I could read throughout the week. I did not expect I would finish it practically in one flight. Guess that means I can get the next one in the series for the return trip?

My full review after the jump.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Book Review: The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov is the latest book selected for our Santiago Book Club. The Amazon blurb is quite brief: Set in Moscow of the 1920's, this satirical novel recounts the dealings a writer and his mistress have with Satan.

Read on for my full review.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Book Review: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Ancillary Justice is a space opera novel that has been getting a lot of press lately as it wins award after award. It is the 2013 debut novel by Ann Leckie, though she has already written many short stories. I've had this book on my list for some time and finally got some time to read it. Be forewarned that it's part of an unfinished trilogy, but I have no problem starting series and I think this is one I will certainly continue.

The official blurb:
On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.
Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was Justice of Toren-a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.
An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body. And only one purpose-to revenge herself on Anaander Mianaai, many-bodied, near-immortal Lord of the Radch.

Read on for my full review.

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).