The Core Dump

A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures

[By Nic Lindh on Thursday, 20 December 2012]

Book roundup, part nine

From a true patriot to a world-weary detective, a dead god, and a civilization about to sublime from the galaxy, this book roundup spans the gamut. Includes Where Men Win Glory, Wild, Inside the Box, The Black Box, Three Parts Dead, Red Country, and The Hydrogen Sonata.
Red Country cover

Non-fiction

Where Men Win Glory, by Jon Krakauer ★★★★☆

The story of Pat Tillmans’ life including his death from friendly fire in Afghanistan becomes a tragic hero’s journey in Krakauer’s thorough, well-researched book.

Where Men Win Glory paints a picture of Tillman as an iconoclastic patriot—the contrast between his selflessness and the Army’s many shabby attempts at hiding the truth of how he died is sickening.

By painting Tillman’s story and death and weaving it into the history of Afghanistan—”graveyard of empires”—al-Qaeda and the Taliban, Krakauer creates nothing less than an indictment of US international policy since the Vietnam War, topping it off with the thoroughly cynical treatment Tillman’s family received after his death, all written with Krakauer’s customary economy. Highly recommended.

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed ★★★☆☆

Very well-written story of a woman who decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail to help her cope with the death of her mother as well as other issues—cough many issues—she’s been dealing with.

Strayed starts her hike doing everything wrong, including not ever having loaded her backpack before—it’s way too heavy—not having worn her hiking boots before—they’re too small—and pretty much any rookie mistake you can make.

But she grinds on.

We learn more about her background and demons as the story unfolds in economical, tight prose. It’s a hard book to put down.

Interesting and emotionally powerful as it is, though, Wild does feel more “truthy” than truthful, with strangers showing up at the exact moment when she needs that kind of person to interact with and trigger a certain response too many times.

But be that as it may, Wild is a captivating read.

Inside the Box, by T. J. Murphy ★★★☆☆

Nice, short history and personal impressions of the CrossFit movement from a journalist who has become a believer. This book makes you want to join a box and try a Fran (SLYT).

On the downside, while inspirational, Murphy glosses over a lot of well-publicized CrossFit drama and personality conflicts that are relevant to the topic. Nevertheless, despite its hagiographic nature, Inside the Box is recommended for anybody interested in fitness or the CrossFit movement.

Fiction

The Black Box, by Michael Connelly ★★★★★

The Bosch series is as good as it gets for current American police procedurals and the 18th Harry Bosch novel brings it. If you’re already a Bosch fan, that’s all you need to hear.

If you’ve never read a Bosch novel before, let me tell you that you must. But you should start with The Black Echo, then read them all in order.

Three Parts Dead, by Max Gladstone ★★★★☆

Kos Everburning is dead. Now it’s up to one of his acolytes and a hired-gun necromancer to figure out who killed the god and how to resurrect him.

It’s rare to find a fantasy novel that turns the entire genre on its head. But that’s what Three Parts Dead accomplishes. The best way to think of it might be dark, steampunk-ish fantasy by way of John Grisham. Because there is a trial, as there must be to figure out what to do with the estate of a god who has died under mysterious circumstances.

Red Country, by Joe Abercrombie ★★★☆☆

As a huge Joe Abercrombie fan I was wicked excited about this latest release. Unfortunately, it’s far from his best. Not terrible, and with moments of glory, but in the end a disappointment. Of course, a disappointment compared to fantastic novels like The Blade Itself but still.

Basically Red Country is Abercrombie writing a fantasy western. Picture Unforgiven with magic and you’re pretty close. In the end it feels like the bleak, desolate setting just doesn’t give Abercrombie enough to work with and in this case his typical parade of cynical misanthropes only bring you down.

The Hydrogen Sonata, by Iain M. Banks ★★★★☆

The Gzilt are about to sublime—to leave the universe behind and go to a better place. Which means other, less advanced, cultures are waiting in the wings to take over their planets and technology.

When things start to go wrong, the Culture, or rather, its ships, gets involved.

This is space opera at its finest, full of mind-bending ideas, huge (and small) spaceships, and the Minds that run the Culture ships. Said Minds are vastly powerful AIs with their own often warped personalities and foibles, and they enjoy nothing more than intellectual stimulation—what some would label meddling.

The Hydrogen Sonata is another strong entry in Iain M. Banks’s Culture series.

If you like brainy sci-fi, you’ll like this.

(DISCLOSURE: All links go to the Amazon Kindle store and are affiliate links. If you buy one of the books through a link here I get a tiny kickback from Amazon.)

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You like books? So do I!

Book roundup, part 27

Includes Hollywood Dead, Tales from the Loop, Things from the Flood, The Court of Broken Knives, and Port of Shadows.

Book roundup, part 26

Includes The Storm Before the Storm, White Trash, Calypso, Tell the Machine Goodnight, Prince of Fools, and Provenance.

Book roundup, part 25

Mostly excellent non-fiction in this installment. Includes Fantasyland, The Miracle of Dunkirk, Das Reich, The Undoing Project, Waiting for the Punch, Vacationland and Points of Impact.

Book roundup, part 24

Lots of sci-fi in this installment. Includes Retribution, Boomerang, The Collapsing Empire, All Systems Red, and Ninefox Gambit.

Review: Novels of the Malazan Empire

A worthy inclusion to the Malazan canon and great high fantasy to disappear into in troubled times.

Book roundup, part 23

Includes a mea culpa, Hillbilly Elegy, Gulp, The Stars are Legion, and The Kill Society.

Book roundup, part 22

Lots of fiction series in this one. Includes Grunt, 1177 B.C., Louder Than Hell, Smarter Faster Better, The Hanging Tree, Death’s End, Chains of Command, and Who Killed Sherlock Holmes?.

Malazan Book of the Fallen

Hey kids, you like epic fantasy? ’Cause I've got some epic fantasy for you.

Book roundup, part 21

This installment features grimdark fantasy, peppy astronauts and the Roman Empire. Includes SPQR, And On That Bombshell, The Code Book, Schiit Happened, Beyond Redemption, The Severed Streets, The Martian and Veiled.

Book roundup, part 20

Includes The Antidote, One Nation, Under Gods, Losing the Signal, The Todd Glass Situation, The Last Policeman, The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, Beacon 23, Killing Pretty and Queen of Fire.

Book roundup, part 19

Lots of fantasy and sci-fi in this installment plus a book about sports! Includes Boy on Ice, Difficult Men, Restaurant Man, The Red Line, Cunning Plans, Seveneves, Nemesis Games, Bitter Seeds, The Mechanical, Angles of Attack, and City of Stairs.

Book roundup, part 18

Nic is sad about Terry Pratchett's passing. Includes No Land’s Man, Idiot America, Something Coming Through, The Burning Room, Foxglove Summer, and The Dark Defiles.

Book roundup, part 17

Things go dark and magical in this installment. Includes So, Anyway…, Yes Please, The Mirror Empire, London Falling, Broken Homes, Perfidia, The Peripheral, Burning Chrome, and the Bel Dame Apocrypha Omnibus.

Book roundup, part 16

Lots of good reads in this installment. Includes All Hell Let Loose, Metallica: This Monster Lives, 10% Happier, Onward, Echopraxia, Cibola Burn, The Getaway God, Lock In, The Red: First Light, Terms of Enlistment, and Lines of Departure.

Book roundup, part 15

Solid reads abound in this installment of the roundup. Includes Console Wars, Your Inner Fish, Flash Boys, Digital Wars, The Perfect Storm, Tower Lord, By Blood We Live, I am Pilgrim and Lexicon.

Book roundup, part 14

Some great reads and a huge disappointment in this installment. Includes The Loudest Voice in the Room, Hatching Twitter, Dogfight, Ancillary Justice, KOP Killer, The Circle, Working God’s Mischief and Where Eagles Dare.

Book roundup, part 13

Some solid reading awaits you in this installment. Includes The Outpost, Masters of Doom, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, The Everything Store, Bomber Command, Gods of Guilt, and Low Town.

Book roundup, part twelve

A slimmer-than-usual book roundup is heavy on the non-fiction, including several must-read titles.

Book roundup, part eleven

Another book roundup, including some stellar athletes and soldiers, what might be the most jaded, soul-weary protagonist ever, and some grimdark fantasy.

Book roundup, part ten

The Core Dump is back! Books were read during the hiatus. Includes The Coldest Winter, Oh, Myyy!, Tough Sh*t, The Revolution Was Televised, The Rook, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Gun Machine, Fortress Frontier, Standing in Another Man’s Grave, and The Memory of Light.

Book roundup, part nine

From a true patriot to a world-weary detective, a dead god, and a civilization about to sublime from the galaxy, this book roundup spans the gamut. Includes Where Men Win Glory, Wild, Inside the Box, The Black Box, Three Parts Dead, Red Country, and The Hydrogen Sonata.

Book roundup, part eight

From the heights of athletic excellence to the depths of depravity, this roundup includes The First 20 Minutes, Double Cross, The Heroin Diaries, Tattoos and Tequila, Dodger, Farthing, and Devil Said Bang.

Book roundup, part seven

Includes Wabi-Sabi, Making Things Happen, D-Day, Tallula Rising, Blood Song, The Americans and Amped. All in all, a happy romp through the meadows of literature.

Book roundup, part six

Includes Search Inside Yourself, The Information Diet, Redshirts, The Gone-Away World, Wool, Leviathan Wakes, and Prince of Thorns. One of these may very well change your life.

Book roundup, part five

Includes Shadow Ops: Control Point, The Night Circus, The Hunger Games, Quiet, The Science of Yoga, and Kitchen Confidential. Lots of good stuff in this one.

Book roundup, part four

Includes Angelmaker, The Magicians, Magician King, Iron Council, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Distrust That Particular Flavor, and Talking to Girls About Duran Duran. One of these is the most important book of 2011.

Book roundup, part three

Includes The Drop, Ready Player One, Moon Called, Among Others, Excession, Inferno, The Paleo Solution and I am Ozzy.

Book roundup, part two

Includes Sandman Slim, Snuff, The Cold Commands, Reamde, Goodbye Darkness, Steve Jobs and The Psychopath Test.

Book roundup, part one

Some books you might enjoy reading.