Reviews of the books I've read

A list of all the books I've read this year. For these reviews, this is my book review scale:

burn Burn any copy you find of this book, it is horrific.
mock This book is awful. Don't read this book and mock anyone you see reading this book.
don't Don't read this book.
desert If you're on a desert island and are bored out of your mind, this book is okay to read.
fan If you're a fan of this author / genre, this book is worth reading.
worth This book is interesting, fun, entertaining, and thus worth reading. I would hand this book to a friend who asked for a _____ type book.
strongly I strongly recommend this book
amazing OMG, this book is amazing and/or life-changing, let me buy you a copy.

Post date:

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Book Notes

A copy of this book was sitting on the nightstand of Melissa's guest bedroom. I knew vaguely about this book, knew it was a classic, and had never read it. So, I picked it up and read it, what with my mission to read the books I should have read decades ago or some such.

Suffice it to say, HAD I read this book in high school or college, my life would have been a lot different. I would have moved to New York, instead of staying in Los Angeles, after college. I am uncertain what jobs I might have had, but aerospace and computers would not have been in my future, I wouldn't think.

But, I didn't read this until this summer, and here we are, a have-read book about New York City somewhat around the turn of the last century (hoo boy, are we really nearly a fifth of the way through this century already?), when one's imaginings about how things were is better than how they actually were, and I'm minimizing how stressful living in New York City might have been.

I can see why this book is a classic. I enjoyed reading it.

The airshaft was a horrible invention. Even with the windows tightly sealed, it served as a sounding box and you could hear everybody's business.
Page 83

Oh, to be a Chinaman, wished Francie, and have such a pretty toy to count on; oh, to eat all the lichee nuts she wanted and to know the mystery of the iron that was ever hot and yet never stood on a stove. Oh, to paint those symbols with a slight brush and a quick turn of the wrist and to make a clear black mark as fragile as a piece of a butterfly wing! That was the mystery of the Orient in Brooklyn.
Page 87

SCHOOL days were eagerly anticipated by Francie. She wanted all of the things that she thought came with school.
Page 91

What's free about it, they reasoned when the law forces you to educate your children and then endangers their lives to get them into school? Weeping mothers brought bawling children to the health center for inoculation. They carried on as though bringing their innocents to the slaughter. The children screamed hysterically at the first sight of the needle and their mothers, waiting in the anteroom, threw their shawls over their heads and keened loudly as if wailing for the dead.
Page 91

"Papa's at Headquarters waiting for a job. He won't be home all day. You're big enough to go alone. Besides, it won't hurt."
Page 91

Sending a six year old kid off to the doctors alone. Different world.

The doctor was a Harvard man, interning at the neighborhood hospital. Once a week, he was obligated to put in a few hours at one of the free clinics. He was going into a smart practice in Boston when his internship was over. Adopting the phraseology of the neighborhood, he referred to his Brooklyn internship as going through Purgatory when he wrote to his socially prominent fiancée in Boston.
Page 92

A person who pulls himself up from a low environment via the boot-strap route has two choices. Having risen above his environment, he can forget it; or, he can rise above it and never forget it and keep compassion and understanding in his heart for those he has left behind him in the cruel up climb. The nurse had chosen the forgetting way. Yet, as she stood there, she knew that years later she would be haunted by the sorrow in the face of that starveling child and that she would wish bitterly that she had said a comforting word then and done something towards the saving of her immortal soul. She had the knowledge that she was small but she lacked the courage to be otherwise.
Page 93

This explanation satisfied Francie because she had never been able to tell her left hand from her right. She ate, and drew pictures with her left hand. Katie was always correcting her and transferring the chalk or the needle from her left hand to her right.
Page 93

He taught them good music without letting them know it was good. He set his own words to the great classics and gave them simple names like "Lullaby" and "Serenade" and "Street Song" and "Song for a Sunshine Day." Their baby voices shrilled out in Handel's "Largo" and they knew it merely by the title of "Hymn." Little boys whistled part of Dvorak's New World Symphony as they played marbles. When asked the name of the song, they'd rely "Oh, 'Going Home.' " They played potsy, humming "The Soldiers' Chorus" from Faust which they called "Glory."
Page 104

OH, magic hour when a child first knows it can read printed words!

For quite a while, Francie had been spelling out letters, sounding them and then putting the sounds together to mean a word. But one day, she looked at a page and the word "mouse" had instantaneous meaning. She looked at the word and the picture of a gray mouse scampered through her mind. She looked further and when she saw "horse," she heard him pawing the ground and saw the sun glint on his glossy coat. The word "running" hit her suddenly and she breathed hard as though running herself. The barrier between the individual sound of each letter and the whole meaning of the word was removed and the printed word meant a thing at one quick glance. She read a few pages rapidly and almost became ill with excitement. She wanted to shout it out. She could read! She could read!
Page 106

Indeed, Francie was the only one in her classroom whose parents were American-born. At the beginning of the term, Teacher called the roll and asked each child her lineage. The answers were typical.

"I'm Polish-American. My father was born in Warsaw."
"Irish-American. Me fayther and mither were born in County Cork."
When Nolan was called, Francie answered proudly: "I'm an American."
"I know you're American," said the easily exasperated teacher. "But what's your nationality?" "American!" insisted Francie even more proudly.
"Will you tell me what your parents are or do I have to send you to the principal?"
"My parents are American. They were born in Brooklyn."

All the children turned around to look at a little girl whose parents had not come from the old country. And when Teacher said, "Brooklyn? Hm. I guess that makes you American, all right," Francie was proud and happy. How wonderful was Brooklyn, she thought, when just being born there automatically made you an American!
Page 108

The parents were too American, too aware of the rights granted them by their Constitution to accept injustices meekly. They could not be bulldozed and exploited as could the immigrants and the second generation Americans.
Page 111

It was a good thing that she got herself into this other school. It showed her that there were other worlds beside the world she had been born into and that these other worlds were not unattainable.
Page 112

When the great day came, she was reluctant to set them off. It was better to have them than to use them
Page 113

Francie, in company with other little girls, roamed the streets carrying a bit of white chalk. She went about drawing a large quick cross on the back of each coated figure that came by. The children performed the ritual without meaning. The symbol was remembered but the reason forgotten. It may have been something that had survived from the middle ages when houses and probably individuals were so marked to indicate where plague had struck.
Page 113

You had tickets but you thought you could be smart and get something you weren't entitled to. When people gamble, they think only of winning. They never think of losing. Remember this: Someone has to lose and it's just as apt to be you as the other fellow. If you learn this lesson by giving up a strip of tickets, you're paying cheap for the education."
Page 116

"I'll tell you why," broke in mama. "They want to keep tabs on who's voting and how. They know when each man's due at the polls and God help him if he doesn't show up to vote for Mattie."

"Women don't know anything about politics," said Johnny lighting up Mattie's cigar.
Page 119

"What's free about it if you have to pay?" asked Francie.
"It's free in this way: If you have the money you're allowed to ride in them no matter who you are. In the old countries, certain people aren't free to ride in them, even if they have the money."

"Wouldn't it be more of a free country," persisted Francie, "if we could ride in them free?"

"Because that would be Socialism," concluded Johnny triumphantly, "arid we don't want that over here."


"Because we got Democracy and that's the best thing there is," clinched Johnny.
Page 122

As Teacher talked, a great trouble left Francie. Lately, she had been Oven to exaggerating things. She did not report happenings truthfully, but gave them color, excitement and dramatic twists. Katie was annoyed at this tendency and kept warning Francie to tell the plain truth and to stop romancing. But Francie just couldn't tell the plain undecorated truth. She had to put something to it.

Although Katie had this same flair for coloring an incident and Johnny himself lived in a half-dream world, yet they tried to squelch these things in their child. Maybe they had a good reason. Maybe they knew their own gift of imagination colored too rosily the poverty and brutality of their lives and made them able to endure it. Perhaps Katie thought that if they did not have this faculty, they would be clearer-minded; see things as they really were, and seeing them loathe them and somehow find a way to make them better.

Francie always remembered what that kind teacher told her. "You know, Francie, a lot of people would think that these stories that you're making up all the time were terrible lies because they are not the truth as people see the truth. In the future, when something comes up, you tell exactly how it happened but write down for yourself the way you think it should have happened. Tell the truth and write the story. Then you won't get mixed up."

It was the best advice Francie ever got. Truth and fancy were so mixed up in her mind-as they are in the mind of every lonely child-that she didn't know which was which. But Teacher made these two things clear to her. From that time on, she wrote little stories about things she saw and felt and did. In time, she got so that she was able to speak the truth with but a slight and instinctive coloring of the facts.

Francie was ten years old when she first found an outlet in writing. What she wrote was of little consequence. What was important was that the attempt to write stories kept her straight on the dividing line between truth and fiction.
If she had not found this outlet in writing, she might have grown up to be a tremendous liar
Page 126

"Intolerance," she wrote, pressing down hard on the pencil, "is a thing that causes war, pogroms, crucifixions, lynchings, and makes people cruel to little children and to each other. It is responsible for most of the viciousness, violence, terror and heart and soul breaking of the world."

She read the words over aloud. They sounded like words that came in a can; the freshness was cooked out of them. She closed the book and put it away.
Page 145

Each time Joanna passed, her cheeks got pinker, her head went higher and her skirt flipped behind her more defiantly. She seemed to grow prettier and prouder as she walked. She stopped oftener than needed to adjust the baby's coverlet. She maddened the women by touching the baby's cheek and smiling tenderly at it. How dare she! How dare she, they thought, act as though she had a right to all that?
Page 146

Remember Joanna. Remember Joanna. Francie could never forget her. From that time on, remembering the stoning women, she hated women. She feared them for their devious ways, she mistrusted their instincts. She began to hate them for this disloyalty and their cruelty to each other. Of all the stone-throwers, not one had dared to speak a word for the girl for fear that she would be tarred with Joanna's brush. The passing man had been the only one who spoke with kindness in his voice.

Most women had the one thing in common: they had great pain when they gave birth to their children. This should make a bond that held them all together; it should make them love and protect each other against the man-world. But it was not so. It seemed like their great birth pains shrank their hearts and their souls. They stuck together for only one thing: to trample on some other woman ... whether it was by throwing stones or by mean gossip. It was the only kind of loyalty they seemed to have.

Men were different. They might hate each other but they stuck together against the world and against any woman who would ensnare one of them.
Page 150

June 22. Mama turned my mattress today and found my diary and read it. Everywhere I had the word drunk, she made me cross it out and write sick. It's lucky I didn't have anything against mama written down. If ever I have children I will not read their diaries as I believe that even a child is entitled to some privacy. If mama finds this again and reads it, I hope she will take the hint.
Page 155

Power of Habit

Book Notes

My in-progress progress notes included:

This is the third book in a row I've read that has a story about Rosa Parks in it. When she came up in one book, I wondered if I had read this book before. When she came up in this book, honestly, I had to roll my eyes a bit. Not at Parks in particular, but at the different interpretations, meanings, and explanations of her refusal, arrest, courage, and trial.

I liked the first third of this book.

As a fan of BJ Fogg and his research, I am fascinated and interested in habits and how they can improve people's lives. I actively try to fix my bad habits, and have been for years. I actively try to create good habits, and have been for years. Fogg's Tiny Habits workshop was instrumental in my journey.

So, when I was hit with a particular bad depression, my routines helped me cope. When I mentioned the depression, and the depth of it, Matthew handed me his copy of this book. I realized I already had a copy, so I read it instead.

Which is to say, I finished it this time.

The first third of the book is good. It has applicable information on how someone can improve their life (gah, the plural possessive for a singular noun! killing me!) by recognizing and improving their habits. The first third of the book is fantastic.

The middle third was okay. The last third was pretty much filler. I would argue a new reader could ignore the last two thirds and still take away the best parts of this book.

That said, the book is still worth reading. Especially if you have no history or background in the power of habits and habitual thinking.

At boot camp, he had absorbed habits for loading his weapon, falling asleep in a war zone, maintaining focus amid the chaos of battle, and making decisions while exhausted and overwhelmed. He had attended classes that taught him habits for saving money, exercising each day, and communicating with bunkmates. As he moved up the ranks, he learned the importance of organizational habits in ensuring that subordinates could make decisions without constantly asking permission, and how the right routines made it easier to work alongside people he normally couldn’t stand. And now, as an impromptu nation builder, he was seeing how crowds and cultures abided by many of the same rules. In some sense, he said, a community was a giant collection of habits occurring among thousands of people...
Location: 164

So he sought help from a physician whose tolerance for experimentation outweighed his fear of malpractice.
Location: 258

This is a rare individual indeed. One could argue, a physician who does the right thing.

Parks’s husband was opposed to the idea. “The white folks will kill you, Rosa,” he told her.
Location: 3,402

This is the third book in a row that gives a different description of what Rosa Park went through. I find the different portrayals fascinating. I also find her being quoted / discussed so frequently fascinating.

There’s a natural instinct embedded in friendship, a sympathy that makes us willing to fight for someone we like when they are treated unjustly.
Location: 3,419

Studies show that people have no problem ignoring strangers’ injuries, but when a friend is insulted, our sense of outrage is enough to overcome the inertia that usually makes protests hard to organize.
Location: 3,420

Our weak-tie acquaintances are often as influential—if not more—than our close-tie friends.
Location: 3,456

Skin Game

Book Notes

The Dresden Files, book 15

This is the third of my three favorite Dresden Files books, along with Dead Beat, book 7, and Changes, book 12.

All three of these books have the common theme of Harry being reflective of his choices, of contemplation of his part is the larger scheme of things, and self-doubt without the self-immobilization that often accompanies self-doubt.

Also in this book, ADVENTURE!


And romance! Okay, less this one, but still some of this one.

The twist at the end, the mystery of the why of the plot, is great. As is the double twist of Goodman Grey. I hope he comes back in future books.

One of the difficulties with the arc of Dresden, however, is that he keeps getting stronger. He was already in the top six wizards in terms of raw strength. With his training of Molly, he developed finesse. And with the alliance with Mab, he has the power. Where do you go from here? I don't know, but I'll keep reading. If only Butcher would keep writing them. It's been three years and he's off onto a different series.

Strongly recommended if you're a Dresden fan, this is one of the good books. I, of course, believe the series is worth reading, just get through the first couple books to really enjoy them.

“Scared that some bug-eyed freak is going to come calling and kill innocent people because they happen to be in my havoc radius.”
Page 28

You always fear what you don’t know, what you don’t understand, and the first step to having understanding of something is to know what to call it.
Location: 1,104

The dead don’t need justice. That’s for those of us who are left looking down at the remains.
Location: 2,311

"I can’t figure out where I could have . . . what else I might have done . . .” I swallowed. “I’m lost. I know every step I took to get here, and I’m still lost.”
Page 148

I understand this confusion. You make the best choices you can, with the information you have at the moment, and, after a while look up, not recognizing where you are or who you've become.

“That’s arrogance, Harry,” he said gently. “On a level so deep you don’t even realize it exists. And do you know why it’s there?”

“No?” I asked.

He smiled again. “Because you have set a higher standard for yourself. You think that because you have more power than others, you have to do more with it.”
Page 150

“The damned don’t care, Harry. The only way to go beyond redemption is to choose to take yourself there. The only way to do it is to stop caring.”
Page 150

“One ought not hire an expert and then ignore his opinion,”
Page 170


“Because... fear is a terrible, insidious thing, Waldo. It taints and stains everything it touches. If you let fear start driving some of your decisions, sooner or later, it will drive them all."
Location: 3,153

I would rather have faith in the people I care about than allow my fears to change them — in my own eyes, if nowhere else.
Location: 3,157

“You need to decide which side of the road you’re going to walk on,” she said gently. “Turn aside from your fears—or grab onto them and run with them. But you need to make the call. You keep trying to walk down the middle, you’re going to get yourself torn apart.”
Location: 3,163

“It’s about knowing yourself. About understanding why you make the choices you do. Once you know that, you know where to walk, too.”
Location: 3,166

“Things are not always as bad as they seem. Sometimes, the darkness only makes it easier to see the light.”
Location: 4,137

Focus on the task at hand, Harry. Sort the rest out when you have time. Yeah, sure. But isn’t that the kind of thinking that got me into this mess in the first place?
Location: 4,285

Doesn’t matter how pretty you are. What’s important is how pretty you feel. No one feels pretty when they hear “no” often enough.
Location: 4,751

“Complicated?” she asked. She shook her head. “It isn’t complicated. You just open up and let someone in. And whatever comes after that, you face it together.”
Location: 4,769

“Lava quod est sordium!”
Location: 5,042

“You think your power is what shapes the world you walk in. But that is an illusion. Your choices shape your world. You think your power will protect you from the consequences of those choices. But you are wrong. You create your own rewards. There is a Judge. There is Justice in this world. And one day you will receive what you have earned. Choose carefully.”
Location: 5,070

“The world always thinks that the destruction of a physical vessel is victory,”
Page 406

“Sometimes the bad guys win one.”

“Sometimes they seem to. But only for a time.”
Page 406

“How can you know that?”

“I can’t know,” he said, his face lighting with a sudden smile. “That’s why they call it faith, Harry. You’ll see.”
Page 406

Hope lets you do things you would otherwise never be able to do, gives strength when everything is darkest.
Page 426

“Belief in a story,” Uriel said, “of good confronting evil, of light overcoming darkness, of love transcending hate.” He tilted his head. “Isn’t that where all faith begins?”
Page 441

“Terrifying,” he said, smiling. “And for a little while . . . like being young again. Full of energy and expectation. It was amazing.”
Page 451

Sometimes you realize you’re standing at a crossroads. That there are two paths stretching out ahead of you, and you have to pick one of them.
Page 454

Cold Days

Book Notes

The Dresden Files, book 14

While this isn't in the top three of my favorite Dresden books (those all have Harry thinking about past actions, about life and the choices one makes, and about maturing during those reflections), this is a good, action-packed Harry Dresden book.

I enjoyed it the first time I read it. And the second. And the third. I'm unsure what the count is for this read, but it is at least the fourth read. Yay Butcher.

Aspects I really like about the book revolve around Demonreach and Kris Kringle (I mean, hello, Dresden has freaking Santa Claus on his side, how cool is that?). The major aspect I didn't like about the book is the lack of reset on Harry's powers. I mean, think about it, he died. Before he died he was becoming more and more and more powerful. He was already the sixth strongest wizard alive in the first book, at this point, with his growing into his power and other wizards dying off, he's probably closer to the top spot (but isn't, hello, Merlin). Dying could be a huge reset button, allowing more growth.

But that's not how it is. Instead, he's still mighty powerful, and still attracting even more powerful enemies, and, well, isn't that how Dresden likes it, poking his finger in the eye of the enemy?

Definite read is you're a Dresden fan. Marsters narration is amazing, if you like audio books.

“Life’s about more than breaking even,” I said.
Location: 1,963

“Sometimes I think that’s where most of us are,” I said. “Fighting off the crazy as best we can. Trying to become something better than we were. It’s that second bit that’s important.”
Location: 2,264

I missed my dog. I missed the familiarity of having a place that I knew, that was a shelter.

I missed my life.

I’d been away from home for what felt like a very long time.
Location: 2,420

I understand this very much.

“I know the world seems dark and ugly sometimes. But there are still good things in it. And good people."
Location: 2,460

So at the end of the day, I really didn’t know what was going to happen to me in the future. Heh. Why should I be any different?
Location: 2,532

“That I was your brother, Harry,” he said. “That I loved you. That I knew a few things about denying the dark parts of your nature. And that we would get through it.” He put his elbows on his knees and rested his forehead on his hands. “That we’d figure it out. That you weren’t alone.”
Location: 2,631

I always thought it would get easier to be a person as I aged. But it just gets more and more complicated.
Location: 2,642

“Like life is short,” he said. “Like you don’t know when it’s going to end. Like some things, left unsaid, can’t ever be said.”
Location: 2,672

Fire isn’t always an element of destruction. Classical alchemical doctrine teaches that it also has dominion over another province: change. The fire of my tribulations had not simply been pain to be endured. It had been an agent of transformation.
Location: 3,018

“He might not give you much choice.”

“There’s always a choice,” I said. “That’s the thing, man. There’s always, always a choice. My options might really, truly suck, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a choice.”
Location: 3,705

“Totally unfair.”

“I had this teacher who kept telling me that if I was ever in a fair fight, someone had made a mistake,” she said.
Location: 3,714

I reminded myself that just because someone is courteous, it does not necessarily mean that they aren’t planning to vivisect you. It just means that they’ll ask whether the ropes holding you down are comfortable before they pick up the scalpel.
Location: 3,813

“Maybe you’re right; I don’t know. But until I have a better idea, it’s smarter to keep reminding myself that I don’t know, rather than assuming that I do know, and then translating anything I learn to fit my preconceptions.”
Location: 4,407

“No one just starts giggling and wearing black and signs up to become a villainous monster. How the hell do you think it happens?” She shook her head, her eyes pained. “It happens to people. Just people. They make questionable choices, for what might be very good reasons. They make choice after choice, and none of them is slaughtering roomfuls of saints, or murdering hundreds of baby seals, or rubber-room irrational. But it adds up. And then one day they look around and realize that they’re so far over the line that they can’t remember where it was.”
Location: 5,231

Power corrupts — and the people being corrupted never seem to be aware that it’s happening.
Location: 5,252

"Will you not always be imperfect?”

“Now you’re catching on,” I said.
Location: 5,787

“I think it’s a cruel world. I think it’s hard to find love. I think we should all be happy when someone manages to do it.”
Location: 5,789

Graves aren’t for the dead. They’re for the loved ones the dead leave behind them. Once those loved ones have gone, once all the lives that have touched the occupant of any given grave had ended, then the grave’s purpose was fulfilled and ended.
Location: 5,876

“What value has life when it is so easily kept?”
Location: 5,991

"Nothing I have to say can possibly make this task any easier for you. The only way to do it is to do it.” He lifted his chin. “You don’t need help, Warden. You are the help.”
Location: 6,482

And that’s when it hit me. I mean, when it really, really hit me. It was up to me. There wasn’t a backup plan. There wasn’t a second option. There wasn’t any cavalry coming over the hill.
Location: 6,490

The only good thing about having your back to the wall is that it makes it really easy to choose which way you’re going to go.
Location: 6,502

When women have a conversation, they’re communicating on five levels. They follow the conversation that they’re actually having, the conversation that is specifically being avoided, the tone being applied to the overt conversation, the buried conversation that is being covered only in subtext, and finally the other person’s body language.
Location: 6,556

There were probably a lot of women who didn’t communicate on multiple wavelengths at once. There were probably men who could handle that many just fine.
Location: 6,563

“Later. Bad habit to get into,” Thomas said. “Life’s too short.”
Location: 7,218

Molly rode shotgun with me, holding her backpack on her lap. Molly was a big believer in shaping the future by way of carrying anything you might need in a backpack. Tonight it looked particularly stuffed.
Location: 7,349

I understand this.

But all things wither away eventually.
Location: 7,521

And this.

As if some freak who had never loved enough to know loss could tell me about pain.
Location: 7,847

That grain of sand might be the last remnant of what had once been a mountain, but that which it is, it is.
Location: 7,887

But you can’t go around changing your definition of right and wrong (or smart and stupid) just because doing the wrong thing happens to be really convenient. Sometimes it isn’t easy to be sane, smart, and responsible. Sometimes it sucks. Sucks wang. Camel wang. But that doesn’t turn wrong into right or stupid into smart.
Location: 8,208

You never know what you have until it’s gone. Peace and quiet and people I love. Isn’t that what everyone wants?
Location: 8,269

"If the balloon goes up, go after whoever I light up first. After that, improvise.”
Location: 8,380

Learn to fight naked and you can never be disarmed. Which is fine, I guess, as long as there aren’t mosquitoes.
Location: 8,456

Fire’s tricky and fickle. Without focus, it’s just chaos, the random release of stored chemical energy.
Location: 8,631

“No. You’re on the wrong side,” I said. “Maybe more than one.”

“That’s what every conflict sounds like,” he said. “Not everyone can be equally right, Harry.”

“But believe you me, everyone can be equally wrong,”
Location: 8,769

“Everyone wants to have a friend,” he said quietly. “Is that so bad?”
Location: 8,807

Winter’s nature was beautiful violence, stark clarity, the most feral needs and animal desires and killer instinct pitted against the season of cold and death—the will and desire to fight, to live, even when there was no shelter, no warmth, no respite, no hope, and no help.
Location: 8,883

“Being able to choose to tell lies isn’t a freaking superpower, Maeve,” I said. “Because it means you can always make the wrong choice. It means you can lie to yourself."
Location: 9,272

“But one does not place all one’s hopes with any one place, person, or plan."
Location: 9,343

Sometimes the things that are good for you, in the long run, hurt for a little while when you first get to them.
Location: 9,510

Ghost Story

Book Notes

The Dresden Files, book 13

Okay, if you've been following along in all my Dresden Files reviews, you know that I've read these books numerous times. This particular reading is the rereading having reread all the books in order, unlike my usual rereading of picking up the books in the series I like and just rereading those. As a result of this re-read the whole series plan, I'm reading Dresden books that are part of the series, but not necessarily ones I'm really excited about reading.

Which is to say, Harry is in this odd state, the "Ghost" part of the title of the book, and has "not long" to make things right. Except it is hard for someone who is used to being in control, who is used to having power, who is used to brute-forcing his way through things, to actually have no control, no power, no forcing function.

And it makes things awkward. I don't feel Butcher actually conveys how the loss of power, vitality, life actually feels, however. Dresden is still Dresden, even without his ability to do, well, anything.

I enjoyed the book. If you're reading the series, keep going. It's still good, just not a great Dresden book.

I felt like I had when I was a kid, when I was full of energy and the need to expend it doing something enjoyable.
Location: 238

Tough to blame the kid. I’ve been a young man. Boobs are near the center of the universe, until you turn twenty-five or so. Which is also when young men’s auto insurance rates go down. This is not a coincidence.
Location: 1280

“Excalibur, Durendal, and Kusanagi, yes, yes,” Sir Stuart said, his tone a little impatient. “Of course I know the Swords of the Cross.
Location: 1358

Killing — or, more accurately, making the choice to kill — isn’t something we’re good at lately. Ending the life of another living creature used to be part of the daily routine. Chickens were beheaded by the average farm wife for dinner. Fish were likewise caught, cleaned, and prepared for a meal. Slaughtering pigs or cattle was a regular event, part of the turning of the seasons. Most people on earth — farmers — worked and lived every single day with lives they knew they were going to choose to end, eventually.

Killing’s messy. It’s frequently ugly. And if something goes wrong, it can be wretched, seeing another being in mortal agony, which means there’s a certain amount of pressure involved in the act. It isn’t easy, and that’s just considering farm animals.
Location: 2042

Unremarkable. Complacent.” His mouth twisted and his voice turned bitter. “Mediocre. Mediocrity is a terrible fate, Harry.”
Page 189

What do you do to make up for failing everyone in your life? How do you make it right? How do you apologize for hideous things you never intended to happen?
Location 3688

“We’ve all got choices,” I said calmly. “At the moment, yours are limited. You gonna play ball?”
Location: 3734

Every flat, open space had been covered in spray-painted graffiti, which I guess we’re supposed to call urban art now. Except art is about creating beauty. These paintings were territorial markers, the visual parallel to peeing on a tree. I’ve seen some gorgeous
Location: 3753

... nothing — something that had been a waste of the resources it had consumed. Something that had never had a choice in its own fate, never had a chance to be anything more.
Page 287

"Death should be a learning experience, after all, or what’s the point?”
Location: 4967

“Complicated. Think of your spirit-self as a seed. Your soul is the earth it grows in. You need both when you die. The way I’ve heard it . . . they sort of blend together to become something new. It’s a caterpillar-butterfly thing.”
Location: 5143

One mistake at the end of my life couldn’t erase all the times I had stood unmoved at the edge of the abyss and made snide remarks at its expense.
Page 380

Pain isn’t a lot of fun, at least not for most folks, but it is utterly unique to life. Pain—physical, emotional, and otherwise—is the shadow cast by everything you want out of life, the alternative to the result you were hoping for, and the inevitable creator of strength. From the pain of our failures we learn to be better, stronger, greater than what we were before. Pain is there to tell us when we’ve done something badly—it’s a teacher, a guide, one that is always there to both warn us of our limitations and challenge us to overcome them.
Page 412

Location: 6814

noun, humorous or witty conversation: cultured badinage about art and life.

Underwood See

Book Notes

This is book three of the Withern Rise series.

Since I enjoyed the first two books, made sense to continue with the third (and last) book, too. In the first, we have two teens swapping realities. In the second, we have them flying into four distinct timelines. I suspect the author thought, "Well, how do I top that well enough not to have to write another book in this series? I know! An infinite number of timelines!" Which is what we managed to find in this one.

Of said infinite timelines, we managed to follow only a half dozen or so. The Alaric in several of them (yes, the several Alarics that exist) hold true to his core personality traits of wanting something and regretting the choices, which is completely human. Naia manages to figures stuff out in the end, but Adolus? Totally steals the show.

I enjoyed the books enough to pass them along to Anya. No idea if she'll read them.

There was something about this man that calmed her. Warmed her. She knew what it was. He liked her. Simple as that. He liked her. No ulterior motive. She wasn't sure how rare that was, but it touched her.
Page 198

When he realized the unspectacular size of the world on which he lived, and the position of its not-very-distinguised stellar system near the rim of a galazy of around a hundred billion stars, it because unlikely in the extreme that we woudl attract the interest - or even the notice - of people from other worlds. Add to the fact that our galaxy is itself just one among billions, and the idea became simply idiotic. The number of planets orbiting stars was so far beyond observable caculation that by any sane law of averages a great many must provide agreeable conditions for the development of intelligent species - not necessarily humanoid - at various stages of maturity. With such a plethora of worlds to take a peek at, and such colosal distances between them, why on Earth or anywhere else - and this was supposing such a feat were possible - would people from other plants even think of trekking all the way out here to see if there's anyone home?
Pages 281-282

They went on, toward the house, but with every step they walked a little faster, until it became a competition. Then they were running like children, fighting to be first through the front door, first along the hall, first up the stairs with a great clatter of feet and much shoving and shouting. Then they were making a racket all the way along the landing.

Small Eternities

Book Notes

This is book two of the Withern Rise series.

I enjoyed the first book in the series about Alaric and Naia enough to continue reading. This one continues their story, with Naia adjusting to her new world, but never really giving up what she had, and Alaric loving the restoration of his world, but wracked with guilt.

However, instead of having pretty much parallel lives, with Alaric trying to dodge responsibility and his need to make things right, we are introduced to not another, or another, but FOUR alternative timelines, all of which could make one's head spin. Talk about a kid who keeps making mistakes.

And miscommunication. How easy it is for people to be unable to talk with each other, to assume the worst, and act upon those assumptions.

I'll read the last book, this one was good enough. If you're a fan of the first book, definitely keep reading.

Crack in the Line

Book Notes

Okay, this is book one of the Withern Rise series.

I had hoped to give this a good review, but I had these books (the entire series) as physical books, which mean that I wasn't able to easily quote parts of the book, and include said quotes here. So, you get a (admittedly drunk) review instead.

I enjoyed this book enough to read all three books of the series. In this book, we have Alaric, whose mother has died. He accidentally falls into another timeline where his mother hasn't died, but he actually wasn't born, Naia was. Alaric, of course, wants his mother back, and, well, quite honestly, who wouldn't want his mother back?

The story becomes about Alaric and Naia and who gets to keep the mom.

It's a good book, and having read all the books in the series, a good series, aimed at the young adult level of reading. I enjoyed them, but have no quotes to post, because, well, I lost all the pictures of the parts that were quote worthy. Ooops.


Book Notes

The Dresden Files, book 12

I suspect I will have multiple reviews of this book before too long (where "too long" is a couple years, but not "too long" given this site is over 13 years old).

This is my second favorite Dresden book, after Dead Beat. Knowing this when I read it, I, again, tried to figure out what parts I like so much about this book. I'm unsure if I have all the reasons, but I believe Harry's vulnerability, his willingness to ask for help, the good pacing with the action, and the perfect, horrific climax are the major reasons why.

We learn of Harry's daughter in this book, no spoiler, we knew this from the ending of the previous book. Since Dresden was an orphan, being a good parent, being the parent he didn't have, would be incredibly important to Harry. Those emotions and needs we see in the book. Butcher does a good job with hiding just enough from the reader, and revealing other details, that the action pulls the reader along.

I didn't like the ending, but, well, that's to be expected, given the ending. There were following books, so I guess I'm okaaaaaaaaay with the ending now. First reading, not so much.

Of course, I recommend this book.

“Anxiety, anger, and agitation cloud the mind. That’s why the Worry Room is here.”
Page: 53

“You get yourself an apartment and your plumbing goes bad, he’ll still be there,” I said quietly. “Some guy breaks your heart, he’ll come over with ice cream. A lot of people never have a dad willing to do that stuff. Most of the time, it matters a hell of a lot more.”
Page: 101

Be wary of everyone. Even your protector.”
Page: 109

“Molly,” I said firmly. “You can’t plan for everything or you never get started in the first place. Get a move on. And don’t take any lip from the dog. He’s been uppity lately.”
Page: 116

sober. “Life is too short, Harry. And there’s nowhere near enough joy in it. If you find it, grab it. Before it’s gone.”
Page: 117

Hell, they’d even done that with me, and most of the Council thought that I was the next-best thing to Darth Vader. But at the end of the day, I think a lot of them secretly liked the idea of having Vader on the team when the monsters showed up. They didn’t love me, never would, and I didn’t need them to love me to fight beside them.
Page: 137

“I get it,” she said. “I do. Look. You care about her, okay. Maybe even loved her. Maybe she loved you. But it can’t be like that anymore.” She spread her hands and said, “As messed up as that is, it’s still the reality you have to live with. You can’t ignore it. You get close to her, and there’s no way for it to come out good, boss.”
Page: 170

There is no sensation to warn you when your soul turns black.
Page: 174

But there were some things I believed in. Some things I had faith in. And faith isn’t about perfect attendance to services, or how much money you put on the little plate. It isn’t about going skyclad to the Holy Rites, or meditating each day upon the divine. Faith is about what you do. It’s about aspiring to be better and nobler and kinder than you are. It’s about making sacrifices for the good of others—even when there’s not going to be anyone telling you what a hero you are.
Page: 202

Faith is about what you do. It’s about aspiring to be better and nobler and kinder than you are. It’s about making sacrifices for the good of others—even when there’s not going to be anyone telling you what a hero you are.
Page: 202

I could smell the warm scent of singed dust that always emerges from the vents the first time anyone turns on a heater after it’s been unneeded for a while.
Page: 223

“That’s the difficult part of being mortal. Of having choice. Much is hidden from you.”
Page: 229

She had shown me Maggie to make perfectly clear exactly what choice I was about to make. Certainly, it might influence my decision, but when a stark naked truth stares you in the face . . . shouldn’t it? I’m not sure it’s possible to manipulate someone with candor and truth. I think you call that enlightenment.
Page: 241

Death is the great equalizer. It doesn’t matter how you get there. Just when.
Page: 242

Paranoia is a survival trait when you run in my circles. It gives you something to do in your spare time, coming up with solutions to ridiculous problems that aren’t ever going to happen. Except when one of them does, at which point you feel way too vindicated.
Page: 259

No matter how bad things got, I didn’t think anything would ever truly faze him. He simply accepted the bad things that happened and soldiered on as best he could.
Page: 266

“Everything’s never in the open, son,” he responded. “There’re things we keep hidden from one another. Things we hide from ourselves. Things that are kept hidden from us. And things no one knows. You always learn the damnedest things at
Page: 424

Only so many blackhearted villains in the world, and they only get uppity on occasion. Stupid’s everywhere, every day.”
Page: 425

Turn Coat

Book Notes

The Dresden Files, book 11

Turn Coat is not my one of my favorite Dresdent books. I don't dislike it, I don't dislike any of the Dresden books, but I'm not enthusiastic about this one. Of course, I'm more likely to read this one than the first two Dresden books, so it's all relevant.

What I don't like about this book is the assumptions that Dresden makes and goes all half-cocked about them, then boom "reality" returns. It's normal, I'm rooting for Dresden, I lurrrrrrve the image I have of Dresden, I'm biased towards Dresden, how can he possibly be wrong?


I'm a fan of Demonreach, though, and love that Dresden has no f'ing clue what he has done with the island (our awareness only happens by knowing the Dresden future, which is cheating, of course).

I'm less a fan of Peabody. Unsurprising there.

If you're a fan of the Dresden books, keep reading. If you're not a fan, start at book one - get through the first two books in order to understand the beauty of what Butcher has created.

There are bad things in the world. There’s no getting away from that. But that doesn’t mean nothing can be done about them. You can’t abandon life just because it’s scary, and just because sometimes you get hurt.
Page 27

I had to leave messages for two, but Bill Meyers in Dallas answered on the second ring. “Howdy,” Meyers said. I’m serious. He actually answered the phone that way.
Page 46

Yep, this is how I answer the phone, too.

Sometimes irony is a lot like a big old kick in the balls.
Page 54

And sometimes more than sometimes.

If you can’t stop the bad thoughts from coming to visit, at least you can make fun of them while they’re hanging around.
Page 97

“Do you know how to really control someone, Harry?” she asked, her voice a low purr.

I cleared my throat and rasped, “How?”

Her pale grey eyes were huge and deep. “Give them what they want. Give them what they need. Give them what no one else can give. If you can do that, they’ll come back to you again and again.”
Page 196

“Sweet Dresden. I could give you peace. Imagine closing your eyes with no worries, no pain, no fears, no regrets, no appetites, and no guilt. Only quiet and darkness and stillness and my flesh against yours.”
Page 196

"Some of the cruelest tyrants in history were motivated by noble ideals, or made choices that they would call ‘hard but necessary steps’ for the good of their nation. We’re all the hero of our own story.”
Page 206

"As harsh an experience as it has created for you, Harry, the Laws of Magic are not about justice. The White Council is not about justice. They are about restraining power.” She smiled faintly. “And, occasionally, the Council manages to do some good by protecting mankind from supernatural threats.”
Page 207

“Hell’s bells, kid. I choose to trust Anastasia Luccio because that’s what people do. You don’t ever get to know for sure what someone thinks of you. What they really feel inside.”
Page 256

“Everyone dies, honey,” I said, very quietly. “Everyone. There’s no ‘if.’ There’s only ‘when.’"
Page 257

“When you die, do you want to feel ashamed of what you’ve done with your life? Feel ashamed of what your life meant?”
Page 257

“I promise that I’ll be beside you,” I said. “I can’t promise anything else. Only that I’ll stand beside you for as long as I can.”

“Okay,” she whispered.
Page 257

“I am aware of my limits. That isn’t the same thing as liking them.”
Page 261

“God. It’s got to be awful, to know that you’re capable of disregarding life so completely. Someone else’s, yours, doesn’t really matter which. To know that you’re so readily capable of taking everything away from a human being. That’s got to eat away at him.”
Page 262

In stories, you read about characters running through a forest at night. It’s a load of crap. Oh, maybe it’s feasible in really ancient pine forests, where the ground is mostly clear, or in those vast oak forests where they love to shoot Robin Hood movies and adaptations of Shakespeare’s work. But if you get into the thick native brush in the U.S., you’re better off finding a big stick and breaking your own ankle than you are trying to sprint through it blind.
Page 267

I said several uncouth and thoughtless things, then manned up and opened my eyes, always the hardest part of waking.
Page 289

Lowering clouds of dark grey had covered the sky, and the rain looked to be a long, steady soaker—a rarity in a Chicago summer, which usually went for rough-and-tumble thunderstorms.
Page 289

“Kid, groups like these guys, the ones who maim and kill and scheme and betray—they do what they do because they love power. And when you get people who love power together, they’re all holding out a gift in one hand while hiding a dagger behind their back in the other. They regard an exposed back as a justifiable provocation to stick the knife."
Page 290

Twilight is a much different experience when you’re far away from the lights of a city or town. Modern civilization bathes us in light throughout the hours of darkness—lighted billboards, streetlights, headlights, airplane lights, neon decorations, the interior lights of homes and businesses, floodlights that strobe across the sky. They’re so much a part of our life that the darkness of night is barely a factor in our daily thinking anymore. We mock one another’s lack of courage with accusations of being afraid of the dark, all the while industriously making our own lights brighter, more energy efficient, cheaper, and longer-lasting. There’s power in the night. There’s terror in the darkness. Despite all our accumulated history, learning, and experience, we remember. We remember times when we were too small to reach the light switch on the wall, and when the darkness itself was enough to makes us cry out in fear.

Twilight means more than just time to call the children in from playing outside. Fading light means more than just the end of another day. Night is when terrible things emerge from their sleep and seek soft flesh and hot blood. Night is when unseen beings with no regard for what our people have built and no place in what we have deemed the natural order look in at our world from outside, and think dark and alien thoughts.
Page 303

“There is the world that should be,” he growled, “and the world that is. We live in one.”

“And must create the other,” Ebenezar retorted, “if it is ever to be.”
Page 307

He hunkered down and rubbed his hands in some mud and loose earth that lightly covered the rocky summit of the hill. He cupped his hands, raised them to just below his face, and inhaled through his nose, breathing in the scent of the earth. Then he rubbed his hands slowly together, the gesture somehow reminding me of a man preparing to undertake heavy routine labor.
Page 353

The skinwalker snarled. “Old spirit caller. The failed guardian of a dead people. I do not fear you.”
Page 354

“You picked a good fight,” Listens-to-Wind said. “Not a very smart fight. But that old ghost is as close to pure evil as you’ll ever see. Good man always stands against that.”
Page 367

"He knows more than any man alive about dealing with rage over injustice and being unfairly wronged. Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s admirable that you have those kinds of feelings, and choose to do something about them. But they can do terrible things to a man, too.”
Page 369

But lately I’ve started thinking that you don’t ever plan on a single path to victory. You set things up so that you’ve got more than one way to win.
Page 374

“Master, huh?”

“Didn’t used to be a dirty word, Hoss. It meant teacher, guide, protector, professional, expert—as well as the negative things. But it’s the nature of folks to remember the bad things and forget the good, I suppose.”
Page 380

Small Favor

Book Notes

The Dresden Files, book 10

Okay, Small Favor is weird.

It opens with Dresden being afraid of Mab. Like terrified of Mab. Like, what the hell is going on, terrified of Mab. Which is weird. First time I read this book (wow, nine years ago), I commented on this odd opening to Andy, and he agreed, it was strange to him, too.

Essentially, Dresden is cornered by Mab, who insists he accept a task from her. Except that wasn't what his agreement with her was. And it's all confusing.

That said, I enjoyed this book. It is one of the better Dresden books, the opening not-with-standing. The mystery of the blasting rod isn't really clear, but the "You should listen to her" comment is haunting.

I enjoyed this book. I lurve all the Dresden books. I want everyone to get through the first two books, to the enjoyment of the next thirteen. Wait, there are that many? How many times have I read this series again? Thanks, Heather.

Proud doesn’t always outweigh practical.
Page 21

It’s amazing what you can get used to if your daily allowance of bizarre is high enough. “As it was before the working that rent it asunder.”
Page 43

What they say is true: There’s nothing as exhilarating as being shot at and missed. When the shooter happens to be a fairy-tale hit man, it just adds to the zest.
Page 58

She stared at me for a long moment and then said, “Families stay, Harry.” She lifted her chin, sudden and fierce pride briefly driving out the grief in her eyes. “He would stay for you.”
Page 395

Hospital waits are bad ones. The fact that they happen to pretty much all of us, sooner or later, doesn’t make them any less hideous. They’re always just a little bit too cold. It always smells just a little bit too sharp and clean. It’s always quiet,
Page 395

White Night

Book Notes

The Dresden Files, book 9

Previous book review.

Okay, this is a middle of the road Dresden book. It is a Dresden book, so OF COURSE I enjoyed it. However, it is neither one of my top three Dresden books, nor one of the Dresden books that I'm not particularly fond of. It is, as a Dresden book, a fun ride. "But of course!"

This book does have some pivotal points, though, that I keep replaying even after reading all the books for the third (fourth?) time. The fight scene in the Deeps replays. The relinquish of the coin. The sacrifice for love with the conversation of free will. The description of pain, and how it is for the living. Small things, standing out in a larger work.

If you're a fan of Butcher's Dresden Files series, keep reading. If you don't know about the series, start at book one and read to at least book three before stopping.

“You’re right,” he said. “This is a war. Bad things happen to people, even if no one makes any mistakes.”
Page 215

I couldn’t. Being a wizard gives you more power than most, but it doesn’t change your heart. We’re all human. We’re all of us equally naked before the jaws of pain.
Page 235

“Hate,” she said, “and love are not so very different things. Both are focused upon another. Both are intense. Both are passionate.”
Page 262

We still hadn’t learned, though, that growing up is all about getting hurt. And then getting over it. You hurt. You recover. You move on. Odds are pretty good you’re just going to get hurt again. But each time, you learn something. Each time, you come out of it a little stronger, and at some point you realize that there are more flavors of pain than coffee. There’s the little empty pain of leaving something behind — graduating, taking the next step forward, walking out of something familiar and safe into the unknown. There’s the big, whirling pain of life upending all of your plans and expectations. There’s the sharp little pains of failure, and the more obscure aches of successes that didn’t give you what you thought they would. There are the vicious, stabbing pains of hopes being torn up. The sweet little pains of finding others, giving them your love, and taking joy in their life as they grow and learn. There’s the steady pain of empathy that you shrug off so you can stand beside a wounded friend and help them bear their burdens. And if you’re very, very lucky, there are a very few blazing hot little pains you feel when you realize that you are standing in a moment of utter perfection, an instant of triumph, or happiness, or mirth which at the same time cannot possibly last — and yet will remain with you for life. Everyone is down on pain, because they forget something important about it: Pain is for the living. Only the dead don’t feel it. Pain is a part of life. Sometimes it’s a big part, and sometimes it isn’t, but either way, it’s part of the big puzzle, the deep music, the great game. Pain does two things: It teaches you, tells you that you’re alive. Then it passes away and leaves you changed. It leaves you wiser, sometimes. Sometimes it leaves you stronger. Either way, pain leaves its mark, and everything important that will ever happen to you in life is going to involve it in one degree or another.
Page 282

“Anger is just anger. It isn’t good. It isn’t bad. It just is. What you do with it is what matters. It’s like anything else. You can use it to build or to destroy. You just have to make the choice.”

“Constructive anger,” the demon said, her voice dripping sarcasm.

“Also known as passion,” I said quietly. “Passion has overthrown tyrants and freed prisoners and slaves. Passion has brought justice where there was savagery. Passion has created freedom where there was nothing but fear. Passion has helped souls rise from the ashes of their horrible lives and build something better, stronger, more beautiful.”
Page 307

Loneliness is a hard thing to handle. I feel it, sometimes. When I do, I want it to end. Sometimes, when you’re near someone, when you touch them on some level that is deeper than the uselessly structured formality of casual civilized interaction, there’s a sense of satisfaction in it. Or at least, there is for me.
Page 309

“You don’t throw down like this just because you’re strong enough to do it,” I said. “You do it because you don’t have much choice. You do it because it’s unacceptable to walk away, and still live with yourself later.”
Page 322

Chapter Forty

“No one likes a wiseass, Harry.” “Are you kidding? As long as the wiseass is talking to someone else, people love ’em.”
Page 399

Russia House

Book Notes

Okay, so this book is in my stack of quick-reads-when-on-vacation books, one that I can leave where ever I am, and not worry too much about it, since I don't think I'd want to bring it home.

Aaaaaaaand, I was pretty much right.

The book is a spy novel, written in the end of the eighties during that Cold War stuff. I can always believe there will be some twist at the end with these spy books, which makes reading them somewhat odd because I'm always wondering who is the bad guy and when will he reveal himself, and not, say, enjoying the book.

This one got me with the whole "guy loves girl he just met" thing. Ugh. Yes, hormones and emotions, but a disappointed-in-life, heavy-drinker, life-sucks kind of guy being unable to shake this one? Come on, that's the definition of a tragic life.

Anyway, yeah, glad to have left it. Glad to leave it behind. It's fine if you like spy novels from the eighties. This one at least had books in it.

Proven Guilty

Book Notes

The Dresden Files, book 8

The trick about writing book reviews is to do them immediately after reading the book, so that the book is still fresh in your mind, the parts you like, the parts you didn't like, the parts you want to read again and again and again.

This isn't one of my favorite Dresden books (those are Dead Beat, Changes, and Skin Game, in that order). This one was, however, an enjoyable read. Yeah, we know Molly can be annoying, she's written fairly well as the angsty teenager going through changes and being defiant. And I see how the introduction of her into the inners of Dresden's world can be.

I found the reference to the Parable of the Talents to be frustrating. It goes:

“Three men were given money by their lord in the amount of fifteen, ten, and five silver talents. The man with fifteen invested the money, worked hard, and returned thirty talents to his lord. The man with ten did the same, and returned twenty talents. The lord was most pleased. But the third man was lazy. He buried his five talents in the ground, and when he returned them to the lord, expecting to be rewarded for keeping them safe, his lord was angry. He had not given the lazy man the money to be hidden away. He’d given it to the man so that he could use it and make his lands better, stronger, and ...

The third man RETURNED the funds. He didn't lose any. No, he didn't gain any, but he didn't lose it either. So he didn't make a rich man richer, he didn't make the rich man any poorer. I swear this is exactly the kind of sermon that people in power use to abuse the people under them: hey, YOU need to work harder to make ME more powerful. I dislike that story a lot.

This book, however, I liked, it's a Dresden book. Keep reading.

You can never tell how someone is going to handle power—not until you hand it to them and see what they do with it.
Page 34

There are violent bones in everyone’s body, if you look deep enough.
Page 53

And I saw something about the old man, too. Beneath the shoe leather and gristle, there were more shoe leather and gristle. And iron.

The old man had been badly beaten, but it wasn’t the first such he had endured—physically or spiritually. He was a fighter, a survivor. He was afraid, but he was also angry and defiant.

Whatever had done this to him hadn’t gotten what it wanted—not like it had with the girl. It had to settle for a physical beating when its attack hadn’t elicited the terror and anguish it had expected.

The old man had faced it, and he didn’t have any power of his own, beyond a lifetime of stubborn will.
Page 117

I came through the door armed for bear and projecting an attitude to match.
Page 128

This cracks me up.

“Her actions could have thrown enormous forces out of balance, to the ruin of all.”

“Her heart was in the right place,” Fix said, his tone mildly defensive.

“Maybe,” I told him, as gently as I could. “But good intent doesn’t amount to much when the consequences are epically screwed up.”
Page 140

I got an up-close look at the Scarecrow as the van slewed into a bootlegger reverse.
Page 230

Another short phrase that just cracked me up.

“You stole my coat,” I said.

“Borrowed,” he corrected.

“They never talk about this kind of crap when they talk about brothers.”

“You weren’t wearing it,” he pointed out. “Hell, you think I’m going to walk into one of your patented Harry Dresden anarchy-gasms without all the protection I can get?”
Page 232

Sometimes I thought it might be nice not to make any choices. If I never had one, I could never screw it up.
Page 244

“How so?”

“Power,” he said, waving a hand in an all-encompassing gesture. “All power is the same. Magic. Physical strength. Economic strength. Political strength. It all serves a single purpose—it gives its possessor a broader spectrum of choices. It creates alternative courses of action.”

“I guess,” I said. “So?”

“So,” he said. “You have more choices. Which means that you have much improved odds of making mistakes. You’re only human. Once in a while, you’re going to screw the pooch.”
Page 245

“Faith in what?”

“That things will unfold as they are meant to,” Forthill said. “That even in the face of an immediate ugliness, the greater picture will resolve into something all the more beautiful.”
Page 245

“That the good that will come is not always obvious. Nor easy to see. Nor in the place we would expect to find it. Nor what we personally desire. You should consider that the good being created by the events this night may have nothing to do with the defeat of supernatural evils or endangered lives. It may be something very quiet. Very ordinary.”
Page 246

“Then perhaps you should try to have faith that you might one day have faith.”
Page 246

I can get behind this one.

“Am I the only one who is starting to think that maybe Mouse is something special?”

“Always thought that,” I said.

“I wonder if he’s an actual breed.” Charity glanced over her shoulder and said, “He looks something like a Caucasian.”
Page 261

Hard to picture Mouse. He's a Foo Dog, yes, but most foo dogs are representations of the actual animals. A Caucasian dog you can find pictures of, go pet if you'd like.

Yes, she had the potential to go astray on an epic scale. Don’t we all.
Page 344

“But…” Her face scrunched up. “I don’t want to be a bad guy.”

“No one wants it,” I said. “Most of the bad guys in the real world don’t know that they are bad guys. You don’t get a flashing warning sign that you’re about to damn yourself. It sneaks up on you when you aren’t looking.”
Page 346

“Children are a precious gift, but they belong to no one but themselves. They are only lent us a little while.”
Page 352

“Harry, I know you aren’t a churchgoing man, but God does help people who aren’t perfect.”
Page 381

“I know what it’s like,” he said. “There isn’t any way to make it disappear. But it gets better with time and distance.” He studied me for a moment. “If you had it to do again, would you?”

“Twice as hard,” I said at once.

“Then what you did was a necessity, Harry. It might be painful. It might haunt you. But at the end of the day, so long as you did what you believed right, you’ll be able to live with yourself.”
Page 385

“Children have their own kind of power. When you’re teaching them, protecting them, you are more than you thought you could be. More understanding, more patient, more capable, more wise. Perhaps this foster child of your power will do the same for you. Perhaps it’s what she is meant to do.”
Page 388

Life can be confusing. Good God, and how. Sometimes it seems like the older I get, the more confused I become. That seems ass-backwards. I thought I was supposed to be getting wiser. Instead, I just keep getting hit over the head with my relative insignificance in the greater scheme of the universe. Confusing, life.
Page 389

“Times are changing, Hoss. That’s for sure.” He polished off his beer. “But they always do.
Page 402

Plan B: A Novel

Book Notes

Okay, this was Jonathan Tropper's first novel. I am uncertain why I decided not to read it when I was on my Tropper kick, but I didn't, which meant I could read it this month.

The story is cute. Tropper's style is pretty apparent early on with this book. I'm glad this book had enough success that he was able to keep writing, as I liked his later books, too. That five people could be best friends in college and manage to keep the best friend status through all of the subsequent years I find to be the most fictional of this fiction, but I'd like to believe it could happen.

I enjoyed the book, and would recommend it to anyone on a Tropper kick. If you want only one Tropper book, make it the Book of Joe. If you want a quick, light, delightful read, this is a good one.

To know him was to know a man of absolute contentment, a loving husband and father, a great friend, a Godfearing man whose ample intelligence did not serve to complicate him, as it does so many people.
Page 171

"You all accuse me of living in the past, but the truth is I’m thirty years old and I’m still counting on the future to bail me out. And that’s a crock. You can spend years working toward something and get killed before you reach it, so what’s the point?”
Page 173

I was scared shitless of reality. That it might be something other than this.
Page 196

Chuck always employed the Socratic method of viewing television shows. He didn’t seem able to enjoy himself without his pointless commentary.
Page 208

A weary-looking nurse carrying a tray entered the room briskly, her rubber souls squeaking on the waxed linoleum. She threw a disapproving glance at Lindsey perched on the bed and then dropped a paper cup with some pills on my end table.
Page 218

I cracked up at the "souls." Yay for homonyms!

“I don’t want Sarah back,” I said.

“I know you don’t,” Lindsey said with a tender smile. “I’m not worried about that. But you don’t want her to resent you or hate you either. And you can’t accept the fact that you left something behind, something messy. You want to keep going back to see if you can somehow clean it up, make it more tidy in your mind, but it isn’t going to happen.”

“I know that,” I said.

“And while you’re busy looking back,” she continued, “you’re not looking at what you have right here in front of you.”
Page 235

“You screwed up in the past. Well, shit happens. You learn what you can, you scrape it off your shoe and you move on. If you can’t do that, you’ll never get the chance to get it right.”
Page 235

“Divorce means you’ve been permanently changed, and that terrifies you."
Page 235

Until you found your way out of the woods, it was reassuring to find other people lost in them with you.
Page 242

“No way,” said the girl above the breasts Chuck was addressing. She was dressed in tight black slacks and an even tighter blue polyester shirt, the bottom three buttons opened to reveal her flat, tanned belly. She seemed very skinny for the breasts she was carrying.
Page 277

Yeah, I can relate to this one, too.

To lose your father at that age, when he’s still such a powerful presence in your life, constantly shaping your perceptions both intentionally and accidentally with every seemingly insignificant word or gesture, was a loss I would never comprehend.
Page 302

“The Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Man weren’t just helping Dorothy for the hell of it. They all had their own reasons for wanting to see the Wizard.”
Page 305

“It must be tough,” I said sincerely. “Having no clear line between your reality and your bullshit.”
Page 331

At thirty, friends are pretty much like bone mass. Whatever you’ve managed to store up until now starts to diminish and is rarely replaced.
Page 331

Our private world was dissolving, like when the lights come on at the end of a movie and real life starts again.
Page 344

Time’s surface is slick as oil, and there’s just no way to hold on.
Page 357

Death's End

Book Notes

This is book 3 of the Remembrance of Earth's Past series.

This book worked for me. This whole series worked for me. In a way I really wasn't expecting it to work.

I enjoyed the science fiction, space opera, weird tech elements of the book. I found several aspects of the book difficult, the parts where civilization falls apart and all.

Two parts really stuck with me. The first was that Cheng Xin completely and totally doomed humankind in its entirety. The second was the portrayal of the rich of the rich of humanity's reaction as Xin flew off. The latter I have quoted somewhere in here.

As many other people have, I enjoyed the series after I was able to get into it. It wasn't what I expected, and that was part of the delight. I recommend the series to any science fiction fan.

A new technology can transform society, but when the technology is in its infancy, very few people can see its full potential. For example, when the computer was first invented, it was merely a tool for increasing efficiency, and some thought five computers would be enough for the entire world. Artificial hibernation was the same. Before it was a reality, people just thought it would provide an opportunity for patients with terminal illnesses to seek a cure in the future. If they thought further, it would appear to be useful for interstellar voyages. But as soon as it became real, if one examined it through the lens of sociology, one could see that it would completely change the face of human civilization. All this was based on a single idea: Tomorrow will be better.
Page 72

The main elements of deterrence are these: the deterrer and the deteree (in dark forest deterrence, humanity and Trisolaris); the threat (broadcasting the location of Trisolaris so as to ensure the destruction of both worlds); the controller (the person or organization holding the broadcast switch); and the goal (forcing Trisolaris to abandon its invasion plan and to share technology with humanity). When the deterrent is the complete destruction of both the deterrer and the deteree, the system is said to be in a state of ultimate deterrence. Compared to other types of deterrence, ultimate deterrence is distinguished by the fact that, should deterrence fail, carrying out the threat would be of no benefit to the deterrer.
Page 129

First, being declared a savior was just like being pushed under the guillotine: There was no choice involved.
Page 145

But the greatest danger was the prospect of loss of social order. In the resettlement zones, the hyper-information society disappeared. Newcomers poked the walls, bedside stands, or even their own clothes until they realized that everything was dead, un-networked. Even basic communications could not be guaranteed. People could obtain news about the world only through very limited channels. For a population used to a super-networked world full of information, it was as if they had all gone blind.
Page 201

This totally cracked me up when I read it. I can just imagine people poking the walls, and all the surfaces, trying to interact with them, when they clearly cannot.

The society of resettled populations transformed in profound ways. People realized that, on this crowded, hungry continent, democracy was more terrifying than despotism. Everyone yearned for order and a strong government. The existing social order broke down. All the people cared about was that the government would bring them food, water, and enough space for a bed; nothing else mattered. Gradually, the society of the resettled succumbed to the seduction of totalitarianism, like the surface of a lake caught in a cold spell. Sophon’s words after she killed those people at the food distribution center—“ The era for humanity’s degenerate freedom is over”— became a common slogan, and discarded dregs from the history of ideas, including fascism, crawled out of their tombs to the surface and became mainstream. The power of religions also recovered, and people gathered into different faiths and churches. Thus, theocracy, a zombie even more ancient than totalitarianism, reanimated itself.
Page 208

People being people, I believe this is what would happen. That belief saddens me.

“Vengeance against Trisolaris is our right. They must pay for the crimes they’ve committed. In war, it is right and just to destroy one’s enemies.
Page 235

Perverted ideas about the safety notice also led to vicious acts of terrorism. Some “anti-intellect” organizations were formed to put into practice the proposal to lower human intelligence. One of these planned to add large quantities of “neural suppressors” to the water supply of New York City, which would have caused permanent brain damage. Fortunately, the plot was uncovered in time and no harm was done, though NYC’s water supply was out of commission for a few hours. Of course, without exception, these “anti-intellect” organizations wanted to maintain the intelligence of their own members, arguing that they had the responsibility to be the last of the intelligent people so that they could complete the creation of a society of low-intelligence humans and direct its operation.
Page 284

And again, I can believe this, too. People suck.

Faced with the omnipresent threat of death and the lure of a different state of existence, religion once again took center stage in social life.
Page 284

The main purpose of religion is to comfort. Faced with the omnipresent threat of death, of course a person would turn to religion.

Like a moody child, human society’s attitude toward Blue Space, which had already vanished in the depths of space, transformed again. From an angel of salvation, this ship again turned into a ship of darkness, a ship of devils. It had hijacked Gravity and cast a sinful spell of destruction on two worlds. Its crimes were unforgivable. It was Satan in the flesh. Sophon’s worshippers also pleaded for the Trisolaran Fleet to find and destroy the two ships, to safeguard justice and the dignity of the Lord. As with their other prayers, Sophon did not respond.
Page 286

Individuals may be strong, but people as a whole aren't. They are swayed by the loudest voice.

In actuality, the Earth dangled over a sea of death. Rationally, everyone understood this, and the ugly fights that broke out during the false alarm were nothing more than meaningless mass madness driven by a survival instinct that overwhelmed rational thinking.
Page 398

As it does.

“What have you discovered?”

“Nothing. It’s my intuition.”
Page 491

Intuitions work because of a lifetime of training that gives you the ability to make connections where inexperienced people can't. That said, ghosts don't exist.

“Don’t be arrogant!”


“Don’t be arrogant. Weakness and ignorance are not barriers to survival, but arrogance is. Remember the droplet!”
Page 492

Civilization was like a mad dash that lasted five thousand years. Progress begot more progress; countless miracles gave birth to more miracles; humankind seemed to possess the power of gods; but in the end, the real power was wielded by time. Leaving behind a mark was tougher than creating a world. At the end of civilization, all they could do was the same thing they had done in the distant past, when humanity was but a babe:

Carving words into stone.
Page 509

And even that rock didn't survive.

A museum was built for visitors; a tombstone was built for the builders.
Page 510

“Look at that ship! How is it able to accelerate so fast?” a woman screamed.

“Oh! The people inside must have been crushed into meat pies,” a man said.

Another man spoke up. “You idiots. The ship itself would be crushed under that kind of acceleration. But look at it: It’s perfectly fine. That’s not a fusion drive, but something entirely different.”

“Curvature propulsion? A lightspeed ship? That’s a lightspeed ship!”

“The rumors were true, then. They were building secret lightspeed ships so that they could escape.…”


“Hey, any ships ahead? Stop that ship! Crash into it. No one should live if we all have to die!”

“They can reach escape velocity! They can run away and live! Ahhhh! I want the lightspeed ship! Stop them; stop them and kill everyone inside!”
Page 533

If I can't have it, no one can - an incredibly human reaction.

“I know you’re not afraid. I just want to tell you something in case we don’t … I know about your experience as the Swordholder. I want to let you know that you didn’t do anything wrong. Humanity chose you, which meant they chose to treat life and everything else with love, even if they had to pay a great price. You fulfilled the wish of the world, carried out their values, and executed their choice. You really didn’t do anything wrong.”
Page 570

Okay, I understand what the author is trying to say here, I really do. But, she doomed the planet and killed mankind. She did do wrong.

“I don’t know what happened to you after that, but you still didn’t do anything wrong. Love isn’t wrong. A single individual cannot destroy a world. If that world was doomed, then it was the result of the efforts of everyone, including those living and those who had already died.”
Page 571

Yifan looked somewhat puzzled by the black soil. “I feel that soilless cultivation tanks would be more suitable here.”

Cheng Xin said, “Anyone from the Earth has a kind of nostalgia for soil. Remember what Scarlett’s father told her in Gone With the Wind? ‘Why, land is the only thing in the world worth workin’ for, worth fightin’ for, worth dyin’ for, because it’s the only thing that lasts.’”
Page 587


Yifan said, “The Solar System humans spilled their last drop of blood to stay with their land— well, save for two drops: you and AA. But what was the point? They didn’t last, and neither did their land. Hundreds of millions of years have passed in the great universe, and do you think anyone still remembers them? This obsession with home and land, this permanent adolescence where you’re no longer children but are afraid to leave home— this is the fundamental reason your race was annihilated. I am sorry if I’ve offended you, but it’s the truth.”
Page 587


The Dark Forest

Book Notes

Book 2 of the Remembrance of Earth's Past series.

Okay, book two of the series, this book was not like the previous book. The previous book was a nominally self-contained book with some crazy, but ultimately believable, advanced technology. This book sorta veers sideways into, ummmmm, okay, yes, I guess, more of the person side of things.

In Chapter 41, there's a part where a bunch of military guys, full of confidence on how they are going to crush their enemy, start jockeying for position on who will attack first and where everyone else will be, because at this point, it is all about their place in military history. The fleet is then promptly and completely destroyed. The descriptions of the jockeying reminded me of the war games that the US played in the Mediterranean a decade and a half ago (found it, the Millennium Challenge 2002), where "oh, you must follow this script" instead of learning from the non-conventional war tactics that the underdog could and absolutely would use, were dismissed. Like a combatant would follow a script. Uh... no.

That said, still a good book, still a good series, still a, oh boy, satisfying read. Going to read the next one, most definitely.

It felt no sense of towering above its surroundings, because it had no fear of falling. It had been blown off of places higher than this many times without any injury. Without the fear of heights, there can be no appreciation for the beauty of high places.
Page 15

The US government said that no form of socialized technology was realistic, that it was a naïve idea, and that under the present circumstances US national security was a priority “second only to planetary defense.”
Page 46

The implications of the frustrated socialized technology movement are far-reaching, and people have been made aware that even in the face of the devastating Trisolar Crisis, the unity of the human race is still a distant dream.
Page 46

Yang Jinwen suddenly grew excited: “And if it’s really true, then the state’s a pack of morons! If anyone’s going to flee, it should be the cream of our descendants. Why the hell would you give it to anyone who can pay? What’s the point of that?” Miao Fuquan pointed at him and laughed. “Fine, Yang. Let’s get to your real point. What you really want is for your descendants to be the ones to go, right? Look at your son and daughter-in-law: Ph.D. scientists. Elites. So your grandsons and great-grandsons will most likely be elites too.” He lifted his glass and nodded. “But if you think about it, everyone should be equal, right? There’s no reason elites should get a, you know, free lunch, right?” “What do you mean?” “Everything has a cost. It’s a law of nature. I’ll spend to ensure a future for the Miaos.
Page 47

"That’s a law of nature, too!”

“Why is this something that can be bought? The duty of escaping is to extend human civilization. They’ll naturally want the cream of civilization. Sending a bunch of rich dudes across the cosmos,” he snorted. “What’ll that do? Hmph.”
Page 47

Like Evans, he enjoyed isolation, but he needed the companionship of beings other than humans.
Page 48

The Wallbreaker smiled. “My Lord, you really don’t have to worry about that at all. No large-scale flight of humanity will ever happen.”
Page 49

“The greatest obstacle to flight is not disputes among countries, either.” Then what is it? “Disputes among people. The question of who goes and who stays behind.”
Page 49

That doesn’t seem like a problem to us. “We thought so at first, but it turns out to be an insurmountable obstacle.” Can you explain? “You may be familiar with human history, but you will probably find this hard to comprehend: Who goes and who remains involves basic human values, values which in the past promoted progress in human society, but which, in the face of ultimate disaster, are a trap.
Page 50

Defeatist thinking is prevalent and spreading swiftly among the troops.
Page 77

“The source of this defeatism stems primarily from the worship of technology, and the underestimation or complete dismissal of the role of human initiative and the human spirit in war. It is a development and extension of techno-triumphalism and the ‘weapons decide everything’ theory that has cropped up in the armed forces in recent years. The trend is particularly pronounced among highly educated officers. Defeatism among the troops takes the following forms:

“One. Treating one’s duty in the space force as an ordinary job: despite working with dedication and responsibility, lacking enthusiasm and sense of mission and doubting the ultimate significance of one’s work.

“Two. Passive waiting: believing that the outcome of the war depends on scientists and engineers; believing that prior to breakthroughs in basic research and key technologies, the space force is just a pipe dream, and subsequent confusion about the importance of its present work; being satisfied simply with completing tasks related to establishing this military branch; lacking innovation.

“Three. Harboring unrealistic fantasies: requesting to use hibernation technology to leap four centuries into the future and take part in the Doomsday Battle directly. A number of younger comrades have already expressed this wish, and one has even submitted a formal application. On the surface, this is a positive state of mind, a desire to throw oneself onto the front lines, but it is essentially just another form of defeatism. Lacking confidence in victory and doubting the significance of our present work, a soldier’s dignity becomes the only pillar sustaining work and life.

“Four. The opposite of the above: doubts about the dignity of the soldier, the belief that the military’s traditional moral code is no longer suitable for the battlefield, and that fighting to the end has no meaning; the belief that a soldier’s dignity only exists when there is someone to see it, and when a battle ends in defeat and no humans are left in the universe, then this dignity loses its significance. Although only a minority hold this notion, the abrogation of the very worth of the space force is exceedingly harmful.”
Page 76 - 78

“Are you under the impression that the object of everyone else’s love actually exists?”
Page 92

“Sure. For the majority of people, what they love exists only in the imagination. The object of their love is not the man or woman of reality, but what he or she is like in their imagination. The person in reality is just a template used for the creation of this dream lover. Eventually, they find out the differences between their dream lover and the template. If they can get used to those differences, then they can be together. If not, they split up. It’s as simple as that."
Page 92

“How are we supposed to sleep in a state like this?” “Leave someone on watch. What good are you if you’re tired out? They may try to keep us on high alert all the time, but I maintain my own opinion of security work: When you’ve thought of everything you should, and done everything you need to, then let whatever happens happen. There’s nothing more anyone can do, you know? Don’t psych yourselves out.”
Page 94

Besides, I’m not a good soldier at all. A soldier who’s only willing to engage in a winnable war is unqualified to be one.”
Page 123

“Is steadfast faith not built upon science and reason ? No faith is solid that is not founded on objective fact.”
Page 127

“I mean intelligence in the broadest sense of the word. Not just the traditional meaning of logical reasoning, but learning ability, imagination, and innovation as well. And also the ability to accumulate common sense and experience while preserving intellectual vigor. And enhancing mental endurance, so that a brain can think continuously without fatigue. And we can even consider the possibility of eliminating sleep. And so forth.”
Page 138

“That approach violates the basic moral principles of modern society : Human lives come first, and the state and the government can’t require any individual to take up a death mission. I seem to remember a line Yang Wen - li said in Legend of the Galactic Heroes : 12 ‘ In this war lies the fate of the country, but what does it matter next to individual rights and freedoms ? All of you just do your best. ’”
Page 147

“I am become death, the destroyer of worlds,” Allen exclaimed.
Page 149

Allen went on, “And then a man called Bainbridge followed up Oppenheimer’s statement with something completely nonpoetic : ‘ Now we are all sons of bitches. ’”
Page 149

In the east, the sun rose in overarching solemnity, as if declaring to the world, “Everything is as fleeting as a shadow before me.”
Page 149

“However, sir, that’s just my ignorance, not the opinion of our superiors. This is the biggest difference between you and me : I’m just someone who faithfully carries out orders. You, you’re someone who always has to ask why.” “Is that wrong ?” “It’s not about right or wrong. If everyone had to be clear about why before they executed an order, then the world would have plunged into chaos long ago.
Page 155

“Even if there were a template for a Wallfacer, Luo Ji is not entirely inconsistent with it.” “What ?” asked Kent, a little taken aback. “You’re not saying that you see a certain amount of quality in him ?” “That I am.” “Well, damn it, what do you see ?” Shi Qiang clapped a hand to Kent’s shoulder. “You, for example. If the Wallfacer mantle descended upon you, you would be an opportunistic hedonist just like him.” “I’d have broken down long before now.” “That’s right. But Luo Ji’s carefree. Nothing bothers him. Kent, old fellow, do you think what he’s doing is easy ? Open - mindedness, is what this is, and anyone who wants to do great things needs to be open - minded. Someone like you won’t accomplish great things.” “But he’s so … I mean … if he’s just carefree like that, how does it relate to the Wallfacer Project ?” “I’ve been explaining it all this time and you still don’t get it ? I said that I don’t know. How do you know that what the guy’s doing right now isn’t part of the plan ? Once again, this isn’t something for you or I to judge. Taking a step back, even if we’re correct in what we think,” — Shi Qiang drew close to Kent and lowered his voice — “some things require time.”
Page 156

“Colonel, do you believe that we can restore the spirit of armies of the past ?” “What do you mean by ‘ past ’ ?” “A wide range of time, from perhaps ancient Greece through the Second World War. What’s key is the spiritual commonalities I mentioned : duty and honor above all, and, in time of need, to unhesitatingly lay down one’s life. You may have noticed that after the Second World War, this spirit vanished from the military in democratic and authoritarian countries alike.” “The army is drawn from society, so it would mean that the past spirit you speak of would need to be restored throughout society.” “Our views agree on this point.” “But, Mr. Tyler, that is impossible.” “Why ? We have four hundred years. In the past, human society used exactly that amount of time to evolve from the era of collective heroism to one of individualism, so why can’t we use the same amount of time to evolve back ?” Zhang Beihai considered this for a moment, then said, “This is a profound question, but I think that society has grown up and can never return to its childhood. In the four hundred years that led to the formation of modern society, we see no cultural or mental preparation for this sort of crisis.”
Page 157

anything. … Mr. Luo, where is this ?” “I don’t know either.” She nodded and chuckled to herself, clearly not believing him. “I really don’t know where we are. The land looks like Scandinavia. I could call and ask right now.” He reached for the phone next to the sofa. “No, don’t, Mr. Luo. It’s nice not knowing.” “Why ?” “Once you know, the world turns narrow.”
Page 160

After a lengthy silence, Shi Qiang said, “‘ Three things are unfilial, and having no issue is the greatest. ’ 13
Page 165

The old man motioned for Tyler to sit down. “I sympathize with you. After so many years, you still don’t know what our needs truly are.” “You can tell me.” “Weapons ? Money ? No, no. What we need is far more precious. The organization doesn’t exist because of Seldon’s ambitious goals. You can’t get a sane, rational person to believe in and die for that. It exists because it possesses something, something that’s its air and blood, and without which the organization would wither away immediately.” “What’s that ?” “Hatred.” Tyler was silent.
Page 172

“On the one hand, thanks to our common enemy, our hatred of the West has faded. On the other, the human race that the Trisolarans want to wipe out includes the hated West, so to us, perishing together would be a joy. So we don’t hate the Trisolarans.” The old man spread his hands. “You see, hatred is a treasure more precious than gold or diamonds, and a weapon keener than any in the world, but now it’s gone. It’s not yours to give back. So the organization, like me, does not have long to live.”
Page 172

The only constant in a world of tremendous change is the swift passage of time. Five years passed like a blur.
Page 186

Pale and emaciated, he looked malnourished. His glasses sat heavily on his skinny, pale face, his neck hardly seemed able to support the weight of his head, and his suit looked practically empty, as if it was hanging on a rack. As a politician, Tyler saw at a glance that he belonged to one of those mean social classes whose poverty was more spiritual than material, like Gogol’s petty bureaucrats who, despite their lowly social station, still worry about preserving that status and spend their whole lives engaged in uncreative, exhausting random tasks that they carry out exactingly. In everything they do, they fear making mistakes ; with everyone they meet, they fear causing displeasure ; and they dare not take the slightest glance through the glass ceiling to a higher plane of society. Tyler detested those people. They were utterly dispensable, and when he thought about how they made up the majority of the world that he wanted to save, it left a bad taste in his mouth.
Page 190

them. Research is a process of leaping forward, and qualitative change is only produced by long - term quantitative accumulation. Breakthroughs in theory and technology are mostly achieved in concentrated bursts. …
Page 192

First : Survival is the primary need of civilization. Second : Civilization continuously grows and expands, but the total matter in the universe remains constant. One more thing : To derive a basic picture of cosmic sociology from these two axioms, you need two other important concepts : chains of suspicion and the technological explosion.
Page 220

The owner, in his fifties, hale in spirit and complexion, sat at a workbench examining a small stone with a magnifying lens, and he greeted the visitor warmly when he saw him. He was, Zhang Beihai noticed immediately, one of those fortunate people who inhabited a beloved world of his own. No matter what changes befell the larger world, he could always immerse himself in his own and find contentment.
Page 248

In the old - fashioned atmosphere unique to old houses, Zhang Beihai was reminded that he and his comrades were fighting for the survival of the human race, while the majority of people were still clinging to their existing lives.
Page 248

When the devil does actually appear, the best option is calmness and rationality.
Page 274

“The mental seal equals thought control,” the Japanese representative said. “Not so. In thought control, there must be a controller and a subject. If someone voluntarily places a seal in their own mind, then tell me, where is the control in that ?”
Page 274

“Emancipation of human nature inevitably brings with it scientific and technological progress.”
Page 370

Once the General Staff team had finished resetting the pupil and fingerprint data that identified the captain in the system, Dongfang
Page 382

Yanxu surrendered her pass phrase to Zhang Beihai : “Men always remember love because of romance only.”
Page 382

“The people of my time have our own ways of thinking.” “But we’re not enemies.” “There are no permanent enemies or comrades, only permanent duty.”
Page 398

“I wouldn’t usually bother the girls I liked. I believed in what Goethe said : ‘ If I love you, what business is it of yours ? ’”
Page 412

He felt a stab in his heart when the thought entered his mind, because, at this moment, love and longing were the most excruciating things in the world.
Page 470

The Last Town

Book Notes

This is book three of The Wayward Pines Trilogy.

Okay, so, the first book of the series, Pines, was all Twin Peaks mystery.

The second book of the series, Wayward, was all about understanding the whys and hows and terms the mystery of the first book.

This book, again continued just after the previous book ended, is a mad dash through the horror of the mystery, through death, through being human in a horror situation, and through the choices we make.

One of the subplots hit particularly close to home. I appreciated that.

Turns out, I enjoyed this book as much as the previous book in the series, finishing book two, and starting and finishing book three, this one, all in one day. While attending school during the day.

I enjoyed the series. Unsure I want to spoil them by watching the television show...

When your world falls apart, cling to the familiar.
Page: 27

When your world falls apart, we head back to our comfort zone, which continues to shrink if we don't force the edges outward.

“In the world we came from, our existence was so easy. And so full of discontent because it was so easy. How do you find meaning when you’re one of seven billion? When food, clothing, everything you need is just one Walmart away? When we numb our minds to sleep on all manner of screens and HD entertainment, the meaning of life, of our existence and purpose, becomes lost.”
Page: 40

It reminded him of the sickening, random way that fate and chance figured into battle—if you had stepped left instead of right, the bullet would have gone through your eye instead of your friend’s.
Page: 56

A world of chance, of randomness, is a very scary thing.

“I wish we lived in a world where actions were measured by the intentions behind them. But the truth is, they’re measured by their consequences.”
Page: 103

He also carried that whiff of unearned arrogance that seems to cling to those who crave authority for the sheer sake of power.
Page: 106

Yeah. This.

“Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to.”


“Because they’re the right things.”
Page: 108

How did you help a boy come to terms with something like that when you could barely face it yourself?
Page: 108

Combat paralysis. When the total horror of the violence and the constant threat of death overwhelmed a soldier.
Page: 124

It’s a rush to keep company with someone who wields such power. Makes you feel better about yourself.
Page: 193

“Why are you up here?” she asked.

“I just told you.”

“No, I mean, is it because you can’t live with what you did? Or because you can’t be with her?”

“Because I can’t be with her. Look, I’m not going to stop loving her just because her husband’s around. That’s not the way the human heart works. I can’t just amputate what I feel."
Page: 254

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that are so life and death, one or two strong leaders need to call the shots.
Page: 268

“We have to keep trying. Keep fighting.”


“Because that’s what we do.”
Page: 273


Book Notes

This is book two of The Wayward Pines Trilogy.

A thing about the first book of this series is that the ending felt like the end of the book. I hadn't realized there were two other books when I read the first book until I arrived at the last page of the book and saw the continuation.

This book does that: continues right off from the previous book, starting only two weeks after the previous book ended. The lead character, Ethan Burke, now knows what's going on in Wayward Pines, and has become a part of the town's conspiracy. The conversion makes for an interesting moral twist, given two weeks before, the town was trying to kill him.

We learn a bit more about the people running the show, and the strange twined history of several of the main characters. I enjoyed this book, and immediately picked up the third book in the series. Given that all three books happen in the span of a month or so, reading them in one go wouldn't be unreasonable.

Twitter and Facebook. Ethan didn’t miss those things. Didn’t wish that his son was growing up in a world where people stared at screens all day. Where communication had devolved into the tapping of tiny letters and humanity lived by and large for the endorphin kick from the ping of a received text or a new e-mail.
Page: 26

Gone were the days of— You can be whatever you want to be. Whatever you set your mind to. Just follow your heart and your dreams. Golden-age platitudes of an extinct species.
Page: 27

“‘Before I built a wall I’d ask to know what I was walling in, or walling out.’ Robert Frost wrote that.”
Page: 33

She was my always friend and my sometimes lover. We were at ease with each other, and I didn’t know it was the last time I would ever see her alive.
Page: 61

"When I was seven years old, my parents left me with the sitter one Friday evening. They were going to drive into the city to have dinner and see a show. They never came back.”

“They left you?”

“They were killed in a car wreck.”


“Never assume you know where someone else is coming from.”
Page: 78

Kate looked up from the book—a tattered Lee Child paperback, the last Reacher novel.
Page: 112

This cracked me up. We're still on the Reacher books! Tom Cruise is the f'ing WORST casting as Reacher in the movies. Horrible horrible horrible casting.

The most generous blessing and life-destroying curse all wrapped up in the same woman, and despite the pain of the guilt and the knowledge of how it would crush his wife, whom he still loved, the idea of turning away from Kate seemed like a betrayal of his soul.
Page: 112

I understand this sentiment.

Staring through the window screen, she said, “Look, you got something from her that you couldn’t get from me. Some kind of experience beyond ours. I don’t hate you for it. I never did.” She turned from the sink and faced him, steam rising off the surface of the soapy water. Gaither was playing one of Mozart’s piano concertos. “But that doesn’t mean you didn’t hurt me,” she said.
Page: 118

“I wonder if she makes you feel the way you make me feel. You don’t have to try and answer that. So it’s for work, huh?”
Page: 118

She’d had that effect in their relationship too. He’d spend a day with her that felt like bliss in the moment, then come out on the other side unsure of where he stood. Second-guessing everything. He’d never understood if it was a conscious play on her part, or his own failing in letting this woman get so deep and tangled in his head.
Page: 126

“As you’ll find with your son soon enough, letting go is the hardest, greatest thing we can do for them.”
Page: 158

He was playing the Rimsky-Korsakov edition of A Night on Bare Mountain. The frantic and terrifying section had concluded, and he was entering the slow, calming-down movement that conjured up the feeling of daybreak after a night in hell.
Page: 266

I bothered to look this up on YouTube and listen to it. Was worth the time to understand the feeling of daybreak after a night in hell.

No Middle Name

Book Notes

Yeah, I'm finally in a place where I don't have Internet. This is both fantastic and, well, fantastic. I'm on my way to both reading five books this week, and being completely and totally okay without my computer. An interesting happy place to be.

And that's all totally unrelated to this book in particular, other than I read this book today. Well, much of this book today. It's a book of Reacher short stories. To me, that means I've likely read it before, being the Reacher fan that I am.

Fortunately for me, there were a number of the short stories I hadn't read. Can't say that any more!

Zipped through this book. Enjoyed it. A number of the stories Reacher solved a problem and went away. He didn't linger. He didn't get the girl. And those are all okay.

I enjoyed the short stories. Again, if a Reacher fan, yep, worth reading.

Surprise was always good. Delay was always fatal. Guys who let a situation unfold in its own good time were just stockpiling problems for themselves.
Location: 2235

A man in a dark room watching a lit street had an advantage. A man in a dark room watching a dark street might as well have saved himself the eyestrain.
Location: 2375

He heard the sound of steel on linoleum as the Colt skittered away, and he brushed the chair aside and groped and patted blindly until he found the collar of Croselli’s shirt, which he bunched in his left hand while he pounded away with his right, short roundhouse punches to the side of Croselli’s head, his ear, his jaw, one, two, three, four, vicious clubbing blows, until he felt the steam go out of the guy, whereupon he reached forward and grabbed the guy’s wrists and yanked them up behind his back, high and painful, and he clamped them together in his left hand, human handcuffs, a party trick perfected years before, enabled by the freakish strength in his fingers, from which no one had ever escaped, not even his brother, who was of equal size, or his father, who was smaller but stronger.
Location: 2502

Okay, who wrote this sentence? This is one sentence. One. I have to wonder if Child challenged himself to see what the longest sentence he could write and get past his editor would be.

This one wins.

The waitress shrugged and made a shape with her mouth, and said business was OK, but she didn’t sound convinced. And waitresses knew. They had a close-up view. Better than accountants or auditors or analysts. They saw the sad expression on the owner’s face, exactly once a week, on payday.
Location: 4663

Context, Reacher thought again. And melodrama.
Location: 5631