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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon, Jeff Woodman Some readers have compared this book to Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye", presumably due to a common tendency to digress; yet where I found the former digressions distracting and annoying, the latter are awash with insightful, wry humor. There is no great mystery within, I spotted whodunnit after the first few chapters, but the doggedly determined narrative voice exudes a compelling charm to a degree such that I nearly finished the book in one sitting. Despite some superficial problems—e.g. prime numbered chapters—it's easy to like this book and in the end I'm happy to have met Christopher Boone.

Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas (Audible Audio)

Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas (Audible Audio) - Wil Wheaton, John Scalzi It didn't surprise me that I liked this book—it came to my attention through Patrick Rothfuss' high praise and the publisher's blurb piqued my interest. What surprised me was how much I liked it. I breezed through it in a couple days, often laughing but I'll cop to shedding a tear at the end. Given the subject matter, Wil Wheaton may seem like an obvious choice for the narration, but he's bloody brilliant in this—from the hilarious alien gargle-speak in chapter two, through the moving bit in the third coda, and all points between.

Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It

Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It - David Ewalt, Mikael Naramore Pairing his reporter's sensibility with a passionate, nerdy zeal, David M. Ewalt weaves the nappy threads of D&D's history, his own soul-baring journey of geek-enlightenment, and compelling in-game narratives into what must surely be the Bayeux Tapestry of Dungeons & Dragons.

Ewalt masterfully retraces the frequent changes of fortune endured by E. Gary Gygax, David Arneson, and others involved with creating Dungeons & Dragons, it's progenitors, and it's progeny. Skillfully interwoven is the tale David's own discovery and re-discovery of the game and the changes thus wrought by his Tuesday night obsession. In a delightfully smooth change of perspective, detailed descriptions of gameplay are wont to transition to in-game narratives using the viewpoint of the character being played by Ewalt. The audiobook version enlists the talent of Mikael Naramore to perform these narratives while the rest of the book is read by the author.

Clearly a labor of love, Of Dice and Men is enlightening, enheartening, and entertaining. Written to be accessible to both novice and initiate, the book performs admirably—a must-read for anyone with even a passing curiosity about role playing games, a moral imperative for role playing gamers.

Empires of the Sea: The Siege of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto, and the Contest for the Center of the World

Empires of the Sea: The Siege of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto, and the Contest for the Center of the World - Roger Crowley, John Lee This book seems interesting enough, but for some reason I just couldn't get into this one; I gave up half-way through.

The Moonstone

The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins Truly a delightful tale, I restrict it to three stars only because the easy, meandering pace tested the limits of my impatience. In all other respects I enjoyed the book, loved and hated characters as intended, and savoured the complex interaction of differing narrative viewpoints.

Elantris (MP3 Book)

Elantris (MP3 Book) - Brandon Sanderson, Jack Garrett I liked this book, I found the characters likeable but somewhat static, and the dialog has a lot of yelping but is otherwise believable. There are a number of sub-plot stubs left unexplored, perhaps as possible starting points for other tales set in the same world. The main plots move at a comfortable pace and I especially liked the richly detailed glyph magic as presented; though the resolution to the plot-moving magical mystery left me wondering why it had been left unsolved for ten years. I'm encouraged to read more Sanderson, hopefully this is not his best work.

Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files

Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files - Jim Butcher Having read most of the Dresden series, I found this collection to be enjoyable not only for it's inclusion of early, less well developed work illustrating the development of both character and author, but also (and perhaps more) for later tales told by characters other than Harry Dresden: “Backup” told from the viewpoint of Thomas Raith and “Aftermath” told from that of Karrin Murphy.

The Call of the Wild

The Call of the Wild - Jack London A sad, wonderful tale.

American Gods

American Gods - Ron McLarty, Dennis Boutsikaris, Daniel Oreskes, Neil Gaiman It's a traveling panoply of old gods and other roadside attractions. Comparisons to Stephen King's "The Stand" are not entirely amiss as it tends to drag until the body count picks up. Gaiman writes superbly as a keen participant-observer of American culture, though in the case of "American Gods" it feels as if his vantage is a long, long way off. Not entirely without interest, the characters are numerous and evocative of little; like familiar faces on a commuter's train, they may hold our interest for a spell, but we never get to truly know them. Add a star if you like road trips, two if you like them so well that you don't mind when they go nowhere particular.

The Chronicles of Narnia CD Box Set: The Chronicles of Narnia CD Box Set

The Chronicles of Narnia CD Box Set: The Chronicles of Narnia CD Box Set - C.S. Lewis, Kenneth Branagh This audiobook production is excellent if one likes the books; unfortunately I found them intolerably loathsome.

The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)

The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle, #1) - Patrick Rothfuss, Nick Podehl Rothfuss has created a richly coloured, finely detailed world which I'd like to know better. My interest dropped off in the second half where the author (perhaps unavoidably) spends increasingly more time laying the foundation for later installments, such that the story stalls a bit, and a few chapters simply fell flat. Whilst there is no cliffhanger, I would have preferred a more eventful ending.

While the book is generally well written, I found I didn't particularly care for a few critical elements where magic has achieved altogether too much parity with modern science, and somehow developed the same technical lexicon to boot. I am probably twice-bothered due to the author's deft avoidance of creeping modernism elsewhere in the tale.

There is much to like about the book, but not much I could cite without spoilers; Rothfuss excels when weaving a lush tapestry of cultural history, strong, well-developed characters and the dynamic relationships between them, but nothing in the book moves quickly, even in those places where it probably ought to do. Despite a few flaws, I feel the book deserves 3.5 stars, rounding up to 4 not only because GoodReads doesn't allow half-stars but in the hope that the next two books will bring together the various bits splayed out as a foundation in book one.

A Dance with Dragons

A Dance with Dragons - George R.R. Martin I'd have preferred a quicker pace, and this fifth installment does little to focus the tale Martin is telling; I was particularly disappointed with the cliffhanger ending.