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:

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?

Yeah.

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!”

“What?”

“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.…”

“Aaahhhhh…”

“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

This.

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

Maybe.

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.”

“Why?”

“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.”

“Why?”

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

Wayward

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.”

“Oh.”

“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

The Highwayman

Book Notes

Despite Longmire being a complete and total asshat in the television series (why, oh why was Lou Diamond Philips cast as Henry Standing Bear, then morphed into a whiny small man?), Longmire in the books is still a fantastic character. I'm still reading Johnson's Longmire books with enthusiasm.

And this one doesn't fail to entertain.

See how I just blew off that grammar rule about not starting a sentence with the word "and?" Ah, the delights of not writing an essay for a grade.

Anyway, Longmire. The book is a novella, which means it is shorter than a full novel, as is the case with this book. There isn't an involved mystery, though there is a small mystery and a couple coincidences that end up being not-so-coincidentals. There are also a number of super-natural occurrences, of which I'm not a big fan, but the mind can play tricks, and what one calls a ghost, another can call adrenaline and hallucinations.

I enjoyed the book, and recommend if you're a Longmire fan, keep reading. If you're not yet a Longmire fan, start at the beginning of the series. There's some weird stuff in this book that references events from the first couple books.

“He grew up—every once in a while it happens—been there, done that. Hell, you know as well as I do that young outlaws make the best lawmen.”
Location 296

“I think we’re all haunted, by one thing or another.”
Location 576

We’re taught to work independently, but nothing strikes you quite like a 10-78, the urgency to reach a fellow officer in need. It’s instinctual to individuals who are trained to respond and risk their lives for each other and complete strangers.
Location 640

"In my experience with the residents of the Camp of the Dead, they rarely act randomly or leave things to chance.”
Location 847

There was nothing normal about a career in law enforcement, and the strains of making life-and-death decisions every day were bound to have an effect.
Location 868

I didn’t have to wonder long, however, as I plunged into the Wind River and it seemed as though the 640 muscles in my body contracted to the point of breaking all 206 bones.
Location 938

“I am always interested when someone commits an act such as Womack’s as to what their conversation might have been previously.”
Location 1101

I removed the phone from my ear to enable a full-force face palm of epic proportions and then returned it. “You’re kidding.”
Location 1139

“The first time the term was used was back in 1320, nonesmanneslond, which was used to describe disputed territory between two kingdoms; then it was the name for a place outside the walls of London that was used for executions and even a spot on the forecastle of ships.”
Location 1153

“He died in fire. It is a bad way to go.”
“I don’t know if there are any good ones.”
Location 1237

“There are many, but fire is bad. The terrible thing about fire is that you become one with the wind, your ashes carried around the world over and over again seeking peace but finding none.
Location 1238

It was strange the paths the human heart chose to take and the attachments it made along the way. The surest sign of the altruistic nature of the organ is its ability to ignore race, color, creed, and gender and just blindly love with all its might—one of the most irrefutable forces on earth.
Location 1482

Bird Box

Book Notes

I have had this book in my stack of books to read pretty much since it was published. I had been wandering around a bookstore, noticed it on the Just Published table, picked it up, and bought it. It then sat in my stack for three years. I started carrying it with me because I decided I really wanted to read it. Except that I didn't really want to read it. I mean, the book is a psychological thriller nearly guaranteed to keep me awake at nights, clutching MK, and jumping at every new sound. Why would I want to read the book? Why wouldn't I want to read the book?

The book summary goes something like this:

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remain, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now, that the boy and girl are four, it is time to go. But the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. And something is following them. But is it man, animal, or monster?

Engulfed in darkness, surrounded by sounds both familiar and frightening, Malorie embarks on a harrowing odyssey—a trip that takes her into an unseen world and back into the past, to the companions who once saved her. Under the guidance of the stalwart Tom, a motely group of strangers banded together against the unseen terror, creating order from the chaos. But when supplies ran low, they were forced to venture outside—and confront the ultimate question: in a world gone mad, who can really be trusted?

But that doesn't seem to do the book justice. If you're in a world where you suddenly aren't allowed to see, but the world continues to exist as is, eh... how is that going to change your perception of the world around you?

Well, I didn't throw the book across the room when I was done. That is a good thing in my book reviews of psychological thrillers, tbh.

I read a whole bunch of different parts of the book multiple times, because I couldn't figure out what was going on. I went back, read a part, pondered, went back, reread it, pondered more. Again, that is a good thing in my book reviews of psychological thrillers.

In the end, the book didn't live up to the hype that now surrounds the book. It did, however, engage and interest and thrill me. I'll lend you my copy of the book.

Unrelated, I have NO idea why I thought this part of the book was worth noting. I can't figure out what part I want to quote from it. This could demonstrate just how far into the book I was, that this is amusing to me in context:

Quest for Kim

Book Notes

Okay, again, when a friend strongly suggests a book, then hands you a copy of the book, then recommends another book about said book, you need to read both the original book, and the follow up book. Really need to read them.

Which is what I did with this book, when Moazam handed me a copy. He handed me HIS copy, which is also saying something (mostly that I needed to return it, but let's go with saying something).

Where Kim was a work of fiction based upon stories, incidents, and the world Kipling knew, The Quest for Kim is the author's journey of discovering what, if any, of that world still exists.

I enjoyed reading the book, learning more of the history of the area, and learning about what still exists and what was, as far as the author or anyone else can tell, pure Kipling fiction.

If Kim fascinates you in any way, I recommend this book as follow up reading.

Three Body Problem

Book Notes

Book 1 of the Remembrance of Earth's Past series.

I have lost my quotes for this book. I don't know where they are, and I find that a little offputting about my processes, because this book has some seriously good ideas when thinking about people, the human condition, and how we treat each other. Imagine, for example, living through the blood bath of a war or revolution, or worse, a "cultural revolution" where anyone who is capable of thinking is killed off in favor of those incapable of thinking but GREAT at the herd mentality. Come to think of it, we haven't progressed much past that point, and didn't learn much from that event, did we?

Anyway, imagine living through that and coming out on the other side hating people so much for the death of your parent that when faced with the choice of humanity or another species all together, you choose the destruction of mankind. I think that imagining might have been a spoiler. I'm not sure.

This book was not what I was expecting it to be, and it was glorious. The reading was a little slow to start, I suspect because I was trying to figure out the physics and the ramifications of the changes to the fundamental laws, but reading slightly faster made the book enjoyable and the slower parts fine, because they weren't THAT much slower.

This is the first Chinese sci-fi I've read. When I mentioned the basics of the plot to a friend of Chinese descent, without telling him the book was Chinese in origin, he laughed at it and said, "That sounds Chinese!" When I revealed it actually was Chinese, he added the book to his list to read. So, yes, accurately Chinese, and delightfully sci-fi.

I enjoyed the book and look forward to the next book in the series.

Norse Mythology

Book Notes

I can't say that I'm a big Neil Gaiman fan. I know, I know, I've read a number of his books, but the more of his books I read, the less I'm interested in reading his books. I'm not sure why this is, but I'll speculate that a large part of my lack of enthusiasm is due to the small amplitude of the plots in his books. In particular, I find most of his stories that I've read plod along. The climax of the of the stories are often "Oh, okay" instead of "OH MY GOD WOW," or something close to that. There isn't a thrilling zing or fast heartbeats or shallow breathing, just a thing that happened that of course it would happen, because, really, that's what should happen and okay.

Which is why I can say I have this book because Mom picked it out. Yes, I'm back to a book from that pile of books, because Internet (no, not really, but maybe a bit).

Anyway, I have this book. I read it. It was, uh, well, cute. Gaiman was fascinated by the Norse gods as a kid, and retells their tales in this book as a series of short stories.

From which we conclude, the Norse gods were asshats.

There were a number of amusing stories, and a number of "What. The. F---?" stories. Pretty much all were entertaining. A number included lessons one could take to learn what NOT to do. I enjoyed the book, and would likely recommend this book as someone's first Gaiman book to read. Just don't listen to the audiobook.

Dead Beat

Book Notes

The Dresden Files, book 7

This is, hands down, my favorite Dresden book. I thought, "Wow." the first time I read it. And the second. And the third. And the fourth. And the lost-count time, too. Because I knew this, that this is my favorite Dresden book, I was aware of myself trying to figure out why I like the book so much, what makes it so good?

I figured out a few reasons, but I think the top reason is that this is the first (and one could argue only) book that Dresden is vulnerable. He asks for help. He reaches out. He reaches out to his friends, and they say yes. He confronts his own mortality. He talks about death. A lot.

Which is pretty much what the book is about, with necromancers and all happening in it.

This book also has Butters, an unassuming unmagicked mortal, seeing a horrible act and, screaming like a little girl the whole time, pushes against his fear to do what needs to be done to save a life.

In any book, you see the author come through in her characters. I would believe Butcher was experiencing loss when he wrote this book, perhaps even actual deaths in his family. I haven't looked up what was happening in his life when writing this book, so I don't know if he were. Yet here, for the first time, Dresden isn't just a know-it-all, isn't an all-powerful arrogant witty Warden wizard, he's also human. And that's what I liked so much about this book.

Death isn’t something anyone likes to think about, but the fact is that you can’t get out of it. No matter what you do, how much you exercise, how religiously you diet, or meditate, or pray, or how much money you donate to your church, there is a single hard, cold fact that faces everyone on earth: One day it’s going to be over. One day the sun will rise, the world will turn, people will go about their daily routines—only you won’t be in it. You’ll be still. And cold.
Location: 461

“You don’t need to buy it,” I said. “It’s true. As a race, we’re an enormous bunch of idiots. We’re more than capable of ignoring facts if the conclusions they lead to make us too uncomfortable. Or afraid.”
Location: 1200

“I know how you feel,” I said. “You run into something you totally don’t get, and it’s scary as hell. But once you learn something about it, it gets easier to handle. Knowledge counters fear. It always has.”
Location: 1,283

In the past I hadn’t seen so many people hurt and killed and terrorized by the same kind of power that damn well should have been making the world a nicer place, or at the least staying the hell away from it. I hadn’t made so many mistakes back then, so many shortsighted decisions, some of which had cost people their lives. I had been sure of myself. I had been whole.
Location: 1,670

“And will for years to come,” said Cowl. “A great many things of significance happened that night. Most of which you are not yet aware.”

“Hell’s bells,” I complained. “I’m a wizard myself, and I still get sick of that I-know-and-you-don’t shtick. In fact, it pisses me off even faster than it used to.”
Location: 1,717

It was 100 percent pure, contrary stubbornness. Chicago was my town. I didn’t care who this joker was; he wasn’t going to come gliding down the streets of my town and push in my teeth for my milk money.
Location: 1,799

Cowl gave me a look that I felt, even if I couldn’t see his face, and he growled, “This isn’t—”

“Oh, shut up,” I said. “You lost. Go.”
Location: 1,835

“That fear is natural. But it is also a weakness. A path of attack for what would prey upon your mind. You must learn to control it.”

“How?” I whispered.

“No one can tell you that,” he said. “Not me. Not an angel. And not a fallen angel. You are the product of your own choices, Harry, and nothing can change that. Don’t let anyone or anything tell you otherwise.”

“But…my choices haven’t always been very good,” I said.

“Whose have?”
Location: 2,297

He put his hand on my head, and for that brief second I was a child again, tired and small and utterly certain of my father’s strength.
Location: 2,303

“At least they didn’t wreck this,” he said. Then he let out a short laugh. “Man. Are my priorities skewed or what?”

“Everyone has something they love,” I said.
Location: 2,732

“It must be very lonely, doing what you do.”

“Sometimes,” I said.

“Always being so strong when others can’t. That’s…well, it’s sort of heroic.”

“It’s sort of idiotic,” I replied, my voice dry. “Heroism doesn’t pay very well. I try to be cold-blooded and money-oriented, but I keep screwing it up.”

She let out a little laugh. “You fail to live up to your ideals, eh?”

“Nobody’s perfect.”
Location: 3,112

I’d always considered the line between black magic and white to be sharp and clear. But if that dark power could be employed in whatever fashion its wielder chose, that made it no different from my own.
Location: 3,658

Dammit. Investigation was supposed to make me certain of what needed to be done. It was not supposed to confuse me even more. When I opened my eyes, thick clouds had covered the sun and painted the whole world in shades of grey.
Location: 3,660

“He lets his fear control him. That’s what a coward is, Harry.”

“A lot of people would react the same way,” I said.

“A lot of people aren’t making themselves into excess baggage for my brother,” he shot back.

“No one does well their first time out,” I said.
Location: 3,694

“Doesn’t make him a bad person,” Thomas said. “But he’s a coward. He’s either going to get you killed or else freeze at a bad moment and die—and you’ll torture yourself over how it’s all your fault. If we want to survive, we need to get him somewhere safe. Then cut him loose. Better for everyone.”

I thought about it for a minute. “You might be right,” I said. “But if we tell him to rabbit, he’s never going to be able to get over the fear. We’ll be making it worse for him. He has to face it down.”

“He doesn’t want to.”

“No,” I said, “but he needs to.”
Location: 3,702

“I understand your refusal to allow another to control your life. It’s a poisonous, repugnant notion to think of someone who would dictate your every move, impose upon you a code of behavior you could not accept, and refuse to allow you choice, expression, and the pursuit of your own heart’s purpose.”

“Pretty much,” I said. The fallen angel smiled.

“Then believe me when I say that I know precisely how you feel. All of the Fallen do.”

A little cold spot formed in the pit of my stomach.
Location: 4,678

From the time we are infants, we learn to associate the touch of a human hand with safety, with comfort, with love.
Location: 4,990

Nearly everyone underestimates how powerful the touch of another person’s hand can be. The need to be touched is something so primal, so fundamentally a part of our existence as human beings that its true impact upon us can be difficult to put into words. That power doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with sex, either. From the time we are infants, we learn to associate the touch of a human hand with safety, with comfort, with love.
Location: 5,262

“Ah,” I said. “Then you’ll probably go to the second offer I always get. Go away and you won’t kill me.”

“Something like that,”
Location: 5,360

“Or maybe I’m just not quite arrogant enough to start rearranging the universe on the assumption that I know better than God how long life should last. And there’s a downside to what you’re saying, too. How about trying to topple the regime of an immortal Napoleon, or Attila, or Chairman Mao? You could as easily preserve the monsters as the intellectual all-stars. It can be horribly abused, and that makes it dangerous.”
Location: 5,434

“Why?”

“Because this is what I have to do,” I said.
Location: 5,450

“I think that you do not realize your own reputation. You have overcome more enemies and battled more evils than most wizards a century your senior... To them, you are a symbol of defiance to the conservative elements of the Council, and a hero who will risk his life when his principles demand it.”
Location: 5,845

“Maybe it’s the cloak,” Bob suggested brightly. “Harry, do you feel any more judgmental and self-righteous than you did this morning?”
Location: 5,944

I didn’t feel like a wizard. I didn’t feel like a deadly and powerful Warden. I didn’t feel like the supernatural champion of Chicago, or a fearless foe of evil, a daring summoner able to cast his defiance into the teeth of a supernatural titan, or an enlightened sage of the mystic arts. I felt like a scarred, battered, aching, one-handed man with few pleasant prospects for the future and a ridiculous pair of pants with one leg slashed off.
Location: 6,059

Besides, I found it aesthetically satisfying to defy municipal code.
Location: 6,356

“My God,” he said. “That was…that was so stupid.”

“Actually, when you survive it gets reclassified as ‘courageous.’”
Location: 7,130

I knew people who would face death, even embrace it, rather than surrender their principles. I’d seen burned-out cops before. They’d labored long and hard in the face of danger and uncertainty to uphold the law and protect the victims of crimes, only to see both the law and the victims it should have protected broken, beaten, and abused again and again. It mostly happened to the cops who genuinely cared, who believed in what they were doing, who passionately wanted to make a difference in the world. Somewhere along the way, their passion had become bottled anger. The anger had fermented into bitter hatred. Then the hatred had fed upon itself, gnawing away at them over years, even decades, until only a shell of cold iron and colder hate remained.
Location: 7,585

As Morgan struck, I took the coward’s way out and closed my eyes. I knew that it was inevitable that one day I would die. But I didn’t want to watch it coming.
Location: 7,621

“But I want to go with you. I want to help. I’m not afraid to”—he swallowed, face pale—“die fighting beside you.”
Location: 7,667

“When you do something stupid and die, it’s pathetic,” I said. “When you do something stupid and survive it, then you get to call it impressive or heroic.”
Location: 7,698

Cowl’s apprentice was tough and competent, but no amount of training or forethought can prepare you for the sight of an angry dinosaur coming to eat your ass.
Location: 7,907

"...And that I hurt. And that I want someone to be holding my hand when it’s my time. I don’t want to do it alone.”

"Everyone dies alone. That’s what it is. It’s a door. It’s one person wide. When you go through it, you do it alone.”
Location: 8,004

The Collapsing Empire

Book Notes

Okay, I hadn't exactly intended to sit down and read this book all in one go. I am in the middle of three other books and just happened to have none of them with me, along with no cell phone coverage and no wifi, when I realized I needed both to be doing something, and to be reading.

When in such a situation, you do the normal thing. You panic.

Okay, no, you pull up another book and start reading. If you don't mind having 10 books in progress, 11 isn't going to matter much.

At the end of the day when I finished this book, I was like, yep, I will read pretty much anything Scalzi writes, and I'm happy I read this one. It is classic Scalzi, with an interesting science-based world, action to satisfy any swashbuckler, and wit to entertain everyone.

Which is a thing with Scalzi books. All of his characters, the "good" ones, are witty and smart and quick. And good. Which is just ... not ... realistic. His stories and characters lack the overt pettiness and cruelty and anger and jealousy of the real world. Which may be why they appeal so much: a world where smart, good, even nice people are actually able to succeed. Oddly.

Anyway, yes, on my new book-review scale, this is a fan-worth book. If you're a Scalzi fan, DEFINITELY read it. If you aren't, you'll likely still enjoy it.

"You’ll be emperox soon enough.”

“And then no one can tell me what to do.”

“Oh, no,” Batrin said. “Everyone will tell you what to do. But you won’t always have to listen.”
Page 36

“What? No,” the duke said, and Kiva saw Ghreni twitch out the very smallest of smiles. “No, not that. I meant the difficulty with this virus your house brought to us.”
Page 55

Okay, when I read this line, I was reminded of Kim, and the part where Kipling commented (paraphrasing), "Asiatics never smile when they have won, but now, Mahbub Ali almost did." If you are a spy, or someone very, very good at maneuvering politically, you don't smile, not even the smallest of twitches, when you win. You don't reveal anything.

“I’m not sure I like this entirely honest you,” Cardenia said, after a moment.

“If you like we can adjust my conversational model to be more like I was in life.”

“You’re telling me you lied to me in life.”

“No more than to anyone else.”

“That’s comforting.”
Page 81

We all lie. Politicians and those in power more so than most.

This was also probably not true, since the University of Opole had more than its share of rebel sympathizers, ranging from stoned students looking for a movement to join, to reflexively contrarian professors who enjoyed sticking it to the duke while still retaining tenure.
Page 84

Marce suspected some drivers had disabled autodrive to take control of their cars directly, either in a panic or because they suspected the government was somehow going to disable their movement. The end result either way was that these newly independent cars were messing things up for everyone else.
Page 91

I've been thinking about this for a while. Likely the subject of a blog post.

"You’re right. It’s just a reminder that war favors the rich. The ones who can leave, do. The ones who can’t, suffer.”
Page 114

This reminds me of the quote, "The depressed and the realistic left and survived, the optimists stayed and died." The quote is about Jews in Nazi Germany.

Which did bring up the question: If you are leaving forever, what do you take with you?
Page 139

The final object was a threadbare stuffed pig named Giggy, bought for Marce on his first birthday by his mother, who had given Vrenna a stuffed bear named Howie at the same time.
Page 140

Hello, MK.

“Anyone can be a prophet. You just have to say that what you’re talking about is a reflection of God. Or of the gods. Or of some divine spirit. However you want to put it. Whether those things come true isn’t one way or another about it.”
Page 171

"Human institutions tend to drift from their creators’ intent over time. Another reason to have clear rules."
Page 172

Oh boy, do they.

“Well, I had the thing, and it wasn’t a vision. It was a dream.” “It was a dream that made you think. A dream that caused you to search for wisdom. A dream that made you consult me, the Prophet. Sounds like a vision to me.”
Page 173

“The short version is ‘Yes, but.’ The slightly longer version is ‘No, and.’ Which version would you like?”
Page 174

I love this distinction.

The man snorted at this. “An open planet is no place for humans. Give me a decent ring habitat any day.”

“Earth was an open planet.”

“And we left it.”
Page 182

In The Collapsing Empire world, only one habitable planet remains, everyone else lives in man-made structures orbiting celestial objects or tunnelled into them. An entire race of agoraphobes.

“Stupid or they have a plan we don’t understand.”
Page 186

Love this. Characters with the insight to realize that just because you don't understand something doesn't mean it doesn't make sense. Scalzi is wonderful about reminding us of this.

“There’s no shame in pissing yourself like a goddamned fire hydrant when a trained killer is about to knife you in the throat.”
Page 191

Nope, there isn't.

“It’s not whether she tells everyone,” Huma said. “It’s whether they believe her.”

“It’s the truth.”

“Oh, my daughter,” Huma said, and smiled. “Don’t tell me you don’t know how little that actually means.”
Page 274

These people are nuts, Marce thought, and grinned to himself. It was breathtaking the situations that humans put themselves into, and still managed to thrive.
Page 275

Habitats could theoretically last decades or even centuries before they failed, but there was the human element as well. Humans didn’t react well to the knowledge they were cut off and doomed to slow death by habitat failure.
Page 287

“I’m continually confronted with the human tendency to ignore or deny facts until the last possible instant. And then for several days after that, too.”
Page 326

nodded. “Remember there’s a reason I suggested the name Grayland to you. To remind you what had to be done. And to inspire you to be the person to do it.”
Page 327

Wouldn't we all be better with an inspiration to do what needs to be done.

“That’s the human brain,” Attavio VI said. “It creates patterns when there aren’t any. Imagines causality when there is none. Imagines a narrative where none exists. It’s in the design of the brain itself. It’s primed to lie.”

“And primed to believe the lie.”

“Yes,” Attavio VI said.
Page 328

Kim

Book Notes

Right. Kim. Kimball O'Hara, an orphaned Irish boy who grew up in India during the English colonial days. Or rather, during the Great Game, before India was split into India and Pakistan, an important distinction. Kim's story is actually in parts of the Pakistani areas, which is how I came to read the book.

Let's ignore the fact that the book has been sitting on my mother's bookcase since forever, and that I tend to grab books from her shelves and read them (hello, Voltaire). Instead, let's note that when a good friend says, "This book totally describes my childhood!" and then repeats several times about how it is one of his favorite books EVAR, well, you read the book.

Of course, I'm not likely to describe the plot, so many other sites do that, but I will note that the book is available on Gutenberg, so little excuse not to read it.

I enjoyed the book. In this case, I made the mistake of switching from audiobook to ebook. This technique normally works quite well for me, but in this case, didn't, because I needed to look up a number of the words, see the spelling, search on wikipedia for the references, and understand better what was going on. The audiobook didn't lend itself to that style of understanding, so I gave up on it fairly quickly. That said, if audiobooks are your thing, and you want to hear the book in English, I recommend this performance of Kim. It is good.

I don't have pages for the quotes, because I read a Gutenberg version that lacks page breaks. Easy enough to find them, I suspect.

'What profit to kill men?'

'Very little--as I know; but if evil men were not now and then slain it would not be a good world for weaponless dreamers. I do not speak without knowledge who have seen the land from Delhi south awash with blood.'

And at the last what wilt thou do?'

'At the last I shall die.'

'And after?'

'Let the Gods order it. I have never pestered Them with prayers. I do not think They will pester me.

'Hast thou never desired any other thing?'

'Yes--yes--a thousand times! A straight back and a close-clinging knee once more; a quick wrist and a keen eye; and the marrow that makes a man. Oh, the old days--the good days of my strength!'

'That strength is weakness.'

'It has turned so; but fifty years since I could have proved it otherwise,' the old soldier retorted, driving his stirrup-edge into the pony's lean flank.

'Who bears arms against the law?' a constable called out laughingly, as he caught sight of the soldier's sword. 'Are not the police enough to destroy evil-doers?'

'It was because of the police I bought it,' was the answer.

Apparently militarized police isn't a new concept.

Then Kim would join the Kentish-fire of good wishes and bad jokes, wishing the couple a hundred sons and no daughters, as the saying is.

Very often it suits a long-suffering family that a strong-tongued, iron-willed old lady should disport herself about India in this fashion; for certainly pilgrimage is grateful to the Gods.

And the old woman's family, to be sure.

The old lady is, after all, intensely human, and lives to look upon life.

'Flies go to carrion,' said the Oorya, in an abstracted voice.

'For the sick cow a crow; for the sick man a Brahmin.' Kim breathed the proverb impersonally to the shadow-tops of the trees overhead.

The Oorya grunted and held his peace.

Personally, he believed in Brahmins, though, like all natives, he was acutely aware of their cunning and their greed.

'But why not sit and rest?' said one of the escort. 'Only the devils and the English walk to and fro without reason.'

'Never make friends with the Devil, a Monkey, or a Boy. No man knows what they will do next,' said his fellow.

And further, he was prepared to spend serene years in his quest; having nothing of the white man's impatience, but a great faith.

Bennett looked at him with the triple-ringed uninterest of the creed that lumps nine-tenths of the world under the title of 'heathen'.

'That is not well. These men follow desire and come to emptiness. Thou must not be of their sort.'

'You will be what you're told to be,' said Bennett; 'and you should be grateful that we're going to help you.'

Kim smiled compassionately. If these men lay under the delusion that he would do anything that he did not fancy, so much the better.

I feel I understand Kim.

'It is no wrong to pay for learning. To help the ignorant to wisdom is always a merit.'

The indifference of native crowds he was used to; but this strong loneliness among white men preyed on him.

Kim meditated poisoning him with opium borrowed from a barrack-sweeper, but reflected that, as they all ate at one table in public (this was peculiarly revolting to Kim, who preferred to turn his back on the world at meals), the stroke might be dangerous.

'You're a good man.'

'Not in the least. Don't make that mistake.'

'It was said once to me that it is inexpedient to write the names of strangers concerned in any matter, because by the naming of names many good plans are brought to confusion.'

'Sahibs [Englishmen] get little pleasure of travel,' he reflected.

'... There are many boys there who despise the black men.'

'Their mothers were bazar-women,' said Kim. He knew well there is no hatred like that of the half-caste for his brother-in-law.

Do not weep; for, look you, all Desire is Illusion and a new binding upon the Wheel. Go up to the Gates of Learning. Let me see thee go ... Dost thou love me? Then go, or my heart cracks ... I will come again. Surely I will come again.

'Now I see, however,'--he exhaled smoke slowly--'that it is with them as with all men--in certain matters they are wise, and in others most foolish. Very foolish it is to use the wrong word to a stranger; for though the heart may be clean of offence, how is the stranger to know that? He is more like to search truth with a dagger.'

'... Therefore I say in my heart the Faiths are like the horses. Each has merit in its own country.'

'I did not seek truth in those days, but the talk of doctrine. All illusion! I drank the beer and ate the bread of Guru Ch'wan. Next day one said: "We go out to fight Sangor Gutok down the valley to discover" (mark again how Lust is tied to Anger!) "which Abbot shall bear rule in the valley and take the profit of the prayers they print at Sangor Gutok." I went, and we fought a day.'

'We were well matched. Ignorance and Lust met Ignorance and Lust upon the road, and they begat Anger. The blow was a sign to me, who am no better than a strayed yak, that my place is not here. Who can read the Cause of an act is halfway to Freedom! "Back to the path," says the Blow. "The Hills are not for thee. Thou canst not choose Freedom and go in bondage to the delight of life."'

'Our Lord Himself cannot make the Wheel swing backward.'

'She has acquired merit beyond all others,' said the lama. 'For to set a man upon the way to Freedom is half as great as though she had herself found it.'

And so he petted and comforted Kim with wise saws and grave texts on that little-understood beast, our Body, who, being but a delusion, insists on posing as the Soul, to the darkening of the Way, and the immense multiplication of unnecessary devils.
Chapter 15

'My chela is to me as is a son to the unenlightened.'

'Say grandson, rather. Mothers have not the wisdom of our years. If a child cries they say the heavens are falling. Now a grandmother is far enough separated from the pain of bearing and the pleasure of giving the breast to consider whether a cry is wickedness pure or the wind.'

'I have seen something of this world,' she said over the crowded trays, 'and there are but two sorts of women in it--those who take the strength out of a man and those who put it back. Once I was that one, and now I am this.

'Get up and see the world! This lying abed is the mother of seventy devils ... my son! my son!'

She trotted forth to raise a typhoon off the cook-house, and almost on her shadow rolled in the Babu, robed as to the shoulders like a Roman emperor, jowled like Titus, bare-headed, with new patent-leather shoes, in highest condition of fat, exuding joy and salutations.

Blood Rites

Book Notes

Yep, rereading the Dresden series. This is Book Six

Dresden spends some of his time on a porn movie set, and while I want to think that Butcher was trying to convey that, hey, these women characters were strong, doing a trade they enjoyed, were compensated well for, and it was any other job, I really didn't feel any affinity for that particular aspect of the plot.

We do get a lot of background in the story, and a bit of foreshadowing on a number of future plot plots, which is great. We meet Laura Raith, thanks to Thomas. And Mouse! Oh boy, scads of flying, flaming poo. That's a visual for the ages.

This book ranks as a fan level recommendation. It's about Harry, I'm going to read it (whether Dresden, Potter, or Hole, let's admit it).

Human violence was at its most hideous when a woman was on the receiving end, and supernatural predators were even worse.
Location 1424

“Trite but true—you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. People change. The world changes. And sooner or later you lose people you care about. If you don’t mind some advice from someone who doesn’t know much about families, I can tell you this: Don’t take yours for granted. It might feel like all of them will always be there. But they won’t.”
Location 1723

I had to be paranoid, which in this instance was another word for smart.
Location 2735

Sooner or later I’d be old and frail, maybe even tired of living. And dying. I would have no one to share it with me, or hold my hand when I was afraid.
Location 3469

for the first time I heard something like real anger in his voice. That was something to be noted. When kind men grow angry, things are about to change.
Location 3746

“I wouldn’t be betting my life on it otherwise. You’ve got my back, Murph. Shut up and dance.”
Location 4738

But several years of staring out at the darkness had showed her that the law was both blind and deaf to some of the nastier parts of the world. She’d seen things that moved in the shadows, perverting the purpose of the law to use it as a weapon against the people she had sworn to defend. Her faith had taken a beating, or she wouldn’t even have considered stepping outside the boundaries of her authority. And she knew it.
Location 4759

That knowledge cost her dearly. There weren’t any tears in her eyes, but I knew that they were there, on the inside, while she mourned the death of her faith.
Location 4762

“I don’t know the right thing to do,” she said. “Neither do I,” I said. “But someone has to do something. And we’re the only ones around. Either we choose to take a stand now or we choose to stand around at all the funerals regretting it later.”
Location 4764

That the power born into any wizard carried with it the responsibility to use it to help his fellow man. That there were things worth protecting, defending, and that the world could be more than a jungle where the strong thrived and the weak were devoured.
Location 4905

“For the record,” Kincaid said, “I was hoping for an answer that vaguely hinted at a specific tactical doctrine rather than spouting off general campaign objectives.”
Location 4927

An angel, blazing with fury and savage strength, spun toward the Renfield, her eyes shining with azure flame, a shaft of fire in her hands. The angel was dressed in soiled robes smudged with smoke and blood and filth, no longer white. She bled from half a dozen wounds, and moved as if in terrible pain. Murphy.
Location 5052

“There’s what’s right,” the old man said, “and then there’s what’s necessary. They ain’t always the same.”
Location 5795

The world might be vicious and treacherous and deadly, but it couldn’t kill laughter. Laughter, like love, has power to survive the worst things life has to offer. And to do it with style.
Location 5932

“It is, after all, a great deal more pleasurable to conquer than to rule. And defiant women can be conquered again and again before they break.”
Location 6408

I had started feeling a little crowded already, sure. But I took a deep breath and brushed it back. Thomas wouldn’t be here too long, and the dog was certainly a lot smaller than Mister. I could handle a little claustrophobia.
Location 7246

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