Another Slew of Book Reviews

Still falling behind on both reading and writing book reviews.  Hoping to have more time soon.

The Spider's War - Daniel Abraham
This is the final conclusion to the Dagger and the Coin series, which was overall pretty enjoyable.  Pretty good story with fantasy and financial engineering, so how can I complain really?

Gene Wolfe has been recommended to me several times over the years, so I thought I would give this series a shot.  It was very interesting, but a pretty frustrating experience.  Supposedly, it is Science Fiction, but it is written like Fantasy (the reader is left to use his imagination as to how the magical descriptions can be explained by science).  It also uses an unreliable narrator story telling mechanism, and many details are left out all of the time.  Often, I had to figure out whether I missed something or if the story teller had purposefully left me in the dark.  Usually it was the latter.  I didn't enjoy having to work so hard to just try to understand what was happening.

Calamity - Brandon Sanderson
Fun ending to a fun series (The Reckoners)

Both of these were quite good, but of the two, I'd definitely recommend It's Easier than You Think.  

Yet another Epstein book whose premise and beginning is amazing, but who's content is very frustrating.  The beginning and the title are such a good concept for a book, but somehow Epstein spends 33% or 50% of the book talking about how the Buddha was traumatized from his lost mother and pre-memory traumas, rather than focusing on the trauma of "everyday life".  As usual, I wish he had condensed down to a chapter or two.  I don't think I'll bother reading any more of his books, as it is almost always the same situation.

When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi
This book is essentially an autobiography of a neurosurgeon who pushes himself incredibly hard throughout his medical training, gets cancer, and dies before he can finally "get" the life he was working towards.  While there are many touching segments, and of course, many sad moments, and while he does have some good thoughts about the interplay of doctors and patients, I can't say I got much out of it.  While dying may teach you quite a bit in a short span, I feel that there is more to learn from the wisdom of a 90 year old than a 36 year old who spent his whole life pushing himself through medical training.