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Posts concerning reviews

Favorite Books of 2015

22:20 02 Jan 2016. Updated: 08:25 04 Jan 2016

I read quite a lot of books in 2015, and while I didn’t rate as many books at 90 as in 2014, it was nonetheless an excellent reading year for me.
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Favorite Books of 2014

20:20 08 Apr 2015

2014 was a good reading year for me. In particular, it included a stretch of reading that brought back to me a joy in reading that had been, if not missing, at least muted.
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Favorite Books of 2013

20:40 13 Feb 2015

After a few years of reading less than I wanted, I managed to make more of an effort in 2013. 2013 was the second year that I made myself rate books after reading them, and thus far the year with the lowest average rating. There were still some gems, however.
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2013 Midpoint Reading Review

23:58 30 Jun 2013

At year’s middle, I’ve read 20 books, four shy of my goal of four books per month—but much closer to that total than I had expected after some long periods of minimal reading. While I’m happy to be reading more often again, there are only a couple of books I’ve read so far this year that are really good.
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Favorite Films of 2012

23:39 20 Jan 2013. Updated: 00:40 21 Jan 2013

I started keeping track of the films I watched last year, after not having done so since 2005. I think I watched more than usual in 2012, but without numbers from past years it’s hard to tell… As with my book ratings, the ratings reflect how much I enjoyed the film at the time, and not my judgment of the film’s merits.

I rated four films 90%: The Cabin in the Woods, The Guard, Moonrise Kingdom, and the 2003 director’s cut of Alien.
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Favorite Books of 2012

22:43 13 Jan 2013

2012 was another year of little reading for me. I finished 37 books, with long periods of not reading anything at all.

The best book I read was James Gleick’s The Information, a history of information and our ways of conceptualizing it. Some of it was familiar to me, but much of it was new, and all of it fascinating. I highly recommend it.
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1.5 Reviews: The Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers

23:54 20 May 2012

I’ll start with the half-review first: I enjoyed The Cabin in the Woods more than any other movie I’ve seen this year. It was clever, well-written, amusing, and delivered a very satisfying combination of genre-tweaking and genre-fulfilling elements.
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Favorite Books of 2011

15:44 08 Jan 2012

2011 involved less reading for me than any year other than 2004, with a rather low total of 37. I’m not sure why it was so low, but I went through a very slow reading period after starting Gravity’s Rainbow in mid-August, and after starting (and never finishing) it I didn’t finish reading another book until the end of October.

2011 was my year of the ebook; I read more ebooks than paper books for the first time, 32:5. I’d be surprised if that trend were reversed (failing some kind of major economic/technological breakdown), and anticipate reading mainly ebooks in future.
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Embassytown Review

23:01 26 Jul 2011

I just finished China Miéville’s Embassytown, and was quite impressed with it. I think it’s more like “straight sci-fi” than his previous works, while at the same time being ambitious and different in the Miéville way and achieving the strangeness present in most of his work.
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The Kindly Ones Review

23:50 19 Jun 2011

Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones is the best work of fiction I’ve read in the last couple of years. It is the story of Max Aue, a Nazi military bureaucrat, as recollected by him in his old age. It’s powerful, gripping, disturbing, shocking, and insightful, and I highly recommend it.
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Favorite Books of 2010

19:52 12 Jun 2011

2010 wasn’t a great reading year for me.
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Favorite Books of 2009

22:53 31 May 2011

I read 55 books in 2009; my reading rate seems to be dipping towards about one book per week.

A dozen books stand out for me from that year.
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Hanna: The Elevator Pitch

23:54 03 May 2011. Updated: 00:55 04 May 2011

A Bourne Identity fairy tale, with the moral, “always wear sensible shoes”.

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Tron: Legacy Hateration

16:19 03 Jan 2011

I could have titled this “Tron: Legacy Review”, but decided on the more honest naming.

I should note that I don’t remember the original Tron very well, and wasn’t coming to this film hoping that it would be “true” to the original. I didn’t really have expectations; I dread to think what my reaction would have been if I had had any.
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Andre Agassi’s Open

08:58 17 Aug 2010. Updated: 15:46 17 Aug 2010

I read Agassi’s autobiography during a five-hour layover in Philadelphia airport this weekend, and have to say I was impressed—with the book, not the layover. I had expected it to be of interest mainly for its hardcore tennis content, with some celebrity stuff thrown in, but I found it gripping throughout and was very impressed with Agassi’s voice.
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Favorite Books of 2008

06:42 27 Dec 2009

I read 75 books in 2008, just managing to hit my target. (This year, I won’t make my target of 80, or even get close.) Some excellent books were among those 75.
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Doomsday Book Review

23:53 13 Nov 2009. Updated: 02:03 14 Nov 2009

Connie Willis’ Doomsday Book won the Nebula award in 1992 and the Hugo and Locus awards in 1993. I would describe it as a time travel plague thriller academic farce, and of all the triple crown winners it is my least favorite. Some of its ideas were good, and some of its passages powerful, but overall I found it disjointed and less than gripping.
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Speaker for the Dead Review

05:52 26 Oct 2009

Speaker for the Dead is the second novel in Orson Scott Card’s Ender series. It won the Nebula award in 1986 and the Hugo and Locus awards in 1987. Its predecessor, Ender’s Game, is revered as a science fiction and geek cult classic that still has resonance in geek culture. I liked Ender’s Game when I first read it years ago, and when I re-read it recently (prior to Speaker for the Dead), I enjoyed it and thought it held up quite well.
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Startide Rising Review

15:20 13 Oct 2009

Startide Rising is the second novel in David Brin’s Uplift Universe series, and it won the Nebula in 1983 and the Hugo and Locus in 1984. I read its predecessor Sundiver first, and it nearly stopped me from going on to Startide Rising. I didn’t like the writing style at all, and it felt unpolished. It must be said that its ideas and setting were interesting: it’s “big universe” science fiction, with a multitude of alien races. The unique concept Brin came up with was that every alien race was raised to technological advancement (or even sentience) by some other race acting as “patron”—except for humanity, which reached a high degree of advancement, and raised dolphins and chimpanzees to higher-level sentience, without a patron.
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Rendezvous with Rama Review

12:55 12 Oct 2009

Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama won the Nebula in 1973, and the Hugo and Locus in 1974 (as well as the 1973 BSFA award and the 1974 Jupiter and John W. Campbell awards). After I read it I described it as “old school”, which still seems accurate.
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Dreamsnake Review

21:02 15 Sep 2009. Updated: 12:54 12 Oct 2009

Vonda McIntyre’s Dreamsnake won the 1978 Nebula and the 1979 Locus and Hugo awards. I’m having trouble figuring out why. This is not to say it’s bad—it’s quite good, and I’ve definitely encountered worse award winners. But it won all three while seeming to me like a good but unremarkable novel, and my expectation is that the “triple crown” winners would be remarkable in some way.
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Favorite Books of 2007

10:44 11 Sep 2009

My total number of books read for 2007 dropped significantly from 2006, to 50. This was mainly due to not reading much in the first six months of the year. I read significantly more non-fiction, and that difference felt more marked because almost 50% of my favorite books from that year are non-fiction.
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Favorite Books of 2006

01:41 31 Aug 2009

2006 involved quite a lot of reading, including perhaps a higher number than average of books in series.
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