Karlstar's Reading in 2024 Pt. 2

É uma continuação do tópico Karlstar's Reading in 2024 Pt. 1.

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Karlstar's Reading in 2024 Pt. 2

1Karlstar
Editado: Abr 8, 9:33 pm

Time for a new thread.

March reading
Accidental War by Walter Jon Williams
The Ends of the Circle by Paul Williams
Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia McKillip
The Dome in the Forest by Paul O. Williams
Bloody Okinawa by Joseph Wheelan
Childe Morgan by Katherine Kurtz

April reading
The Saints of Salvation by Peter Hamilton
The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by S. Chakraborty

2Karlstar
Abr 3, 12:46 pm

The usual explanation of my rating system, with updated statistics from my library here on LT.

I use a 1 to 10 rating system because I started rating books on the internet using a 10 point system and because I like the additional granularity. Checking my LT ratings, I have given out 594 8+ ratings, but I don't think I should make it even harder give out 8/10 ratings, so it is now a Top 600. I only have about 129 books rated 9 stars or higher, so either I'm being too tough or there just aren't that many 9 or 10 star books. My most common rating is 6, I like most of what I read. Here's my rating scale explained.

1 - So bad, I couldn't finish it. DO NOT READ!!!
2 - Could have finished, but didn't. Do not read. This one means I made a conscious choice not to finish, usually about halfway through the book. Something is seriously wrong here.
3 - Finished it, but had to force myself. Not recommended, unless it is part of a series you really need to finish.
4 - Finished it, but really didn't like it. Not recommended unless you really need something to read.
5 - Decent book, recommended if you have spare time and need something to read.
6 - Good book, I enjoyed it, and would recommend it.
7 - Good book, recommended for everyone. I may have read it more than once, and would consider buying the hardcover edition.
8 - Great book, I would put it in the Top 600* of all time. Read more than once, I probably have the hardcover.
9 - Great book, top 100* all time. Read more than once, if I don't have the hardcover edition, I want one!
10 - All-time great book, top 50 material. Read more than twice, I probably have more than one copy/edition.

My ratings also include the Slogging Through The Mud (STTM) rating/index. This goes back to one of Elizabeth Moon's Paksenarrion books where she spends WAY too much time actually describing how the army spent days slogging through the mud. If there is a lot of travel in the book and too much time describing the traveling, the STTM rating will be high.

3Karlstar
Abr 3, 12:47 pm

My first April read, not counting the March book I just finished, is likely going to be The Saints of Salvation by Peter Hamilton, which has been sitting around for a year waiting for me to read it.

4pgmcc
Abr 3, 1:20 pm

Happy New Thread!
I hope you can report great reading experiences.

5jillmwo
Abr 3, 3:39 pm

Happy new thread! Looking forward to commentary.

6haydninvienna
Abr 3, 4:13 pm

What Peter and Jill said.

7Alexandra_book_life
Abr 3, 4:13 pm

Happy new thread! Wishing you lots of good books.

8Karlstar
Abr 3, 9:33 pm

Thanks everyone!

9clamairy
Editado: Abr 3, 11:13 pm

>1 Karlstar: Happy New Thread! I guess we need to move the party from MrsLee's thread over here. 🎈

10Karlstar
Abr 4, 12:05 pm

>9 clamairy: A party is always welcome!

11MrsLee
Abr 4, 6:27 pm

>9 clamairy: My party is so day before yesterday. I will come to this one!

12jillmwo
Editado: Abr 4, 9:33 pm

>9 clamairy: >10 Karlstar: >11 MrsLee: A party that moves from one new thread to another. I seem to recall a set of teenagers enjoying the first day of their Christmas holiday that way. Breakfast at my house; second breakfast at another house; pizza for lunch. All very successful and thoroughly happy.

13Sakerfalcon
Abr 8, 8:39 am

Happy new thread!

14Karlstar
Abr 8, 9:37 pm

>11 MrsLee: >12 jillmwo: >13 Sakerfalcon: Thank you and welcome!

My reading has taken a bit of a detour, I'm still reading The Saints of Salvation off and on, but mostly have switched to The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi. I'm not very far along in either one, a large part of our weekend was taken by another funeral, one of my Uncles (not one I was close to) and a couple of my gamer friends were in town for the eclipse, so we met for dinner. It was the first time I'd met these folks in person, I've been in their online D&D game for... 2? years now, one of my friends from here was in their group, I got myself invited, etc. It was great having dinner with them and their kids.

Unfortunately the cloud cover was 100% for the eclipse.

15clamairy
Abr 8, 9:56 pm

>14 Karlstar: Nooooo! I'm sorry you missed it. I'm sorry about your uncle, as well.

I'm glad you got to get together with your D&D crowd. I'll bet you felt as if you knew them even if you hadn't met face-to-face before.

16Karlstar
Editado: Abr 9, 2:56 pm

>15 clamairy: Yes, 3 hours a week, about 3 weeks a month, I've actually spent a good amount of time with them, so it felt very familiar.

Edited, what the heck was that reference? Fixed.

17Alexandra_book_life
Abr 9, 1:49 am

>14 Karlstar: I am sorry to hear about your uncle...

It's nice to meet online friends in person.

18warini
Abr 9, 2:27 am

Este utilizador foi removido como sendo spam.

19pgmcc
Editado: Abr 9, 4:22 am

>14 Karlstar: Sorry to hear about the cloud cover. Just as well my daughter did not go to your place. They got to see the eclipse in Dayton.

Condolences on your uncle's passing.

Meeting on-line friends in person is great. I have met a few GDers in person and in 2020, just before COVID struck, I got to meet an on-line friend from the Philippines who I had been in contact with for sixteen years to that point. It was like meeting up with a family member and reinforced our friendship.

20haydninvienna
Abr 9, 5:30 am

As a result of yesterday's xkcd, I discover that there will be an eclipse on 22 July 2028 that will be total in central Sydney.

21jillmwo
Abr 9, 11:05 am

>20 haydninvienna: ROAD TRIP!

>14 Karlstar: More seriously, my condolences on the loss of your uncle. You've got a lot on your plate at the moment. Use the few opportunities (time slots) available for reading to take a pause and breathe in. The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi will be a relaxing escape for you.

>19 pgmcc: I am still recovering from the shock of the text photo message you sent having met TJ at a convention. My poor brain was reeling as my separate worlds converged in odd and unexpected ways.

22Karlstar
Abr 9, 3:00 pm

>17 Alexandra_book_life: >19 pgmcc: >21 jillmwo: Thank you. It is nice to meet folks I've only spoken to or communicated with electronically. I worked with a database admin from Brazil for years without meeting in person, then he was assigned briefly to the site I worked at, it was great and strange at the same time to meet in person finally. I have worked with one other database admin who lives in California for about 18 years now and he's still managed to avoid coming to the East Coast for work, I don't think we'll ever meet in person.

>20 haydninvienna: Yes, that last panel summed it up perfectly. The question is, do I plan on risking another cloud shrouded disappointment in 4 years?

23Narilka
Abr 9, 9:09 pm

>14 Karlstar: So sorry to hear about your Uncle.

24Karlstar
Abr 9, 11:02 pm

>23 Narilka: Thank you.

25pgmcc
Abr 10, 9:46 am

>21 jillmwo:
T.J. and I were delighted you responded so quickly. We were buzzing with the coincidence. We hope to meet again in August at the Glasgow 2024 Worldcon.

26Karlstar
Abr 13, 9:56 pm

Looking back, I'm behind on some reviews, so I will attempt to catch up.



Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia McKillip
STTM: 2 - very little travel in a very small kingdom
Rating: 7 out of 10

I enjoyed this one. In a small kingdom, in a large castle by the sea, there is a large library underneath the castle. Among the librarians is Nepenthe, a young woman who was a foundling, taken in by the librarians and taught to be a copyist and translator. Nepenthe, within a short amount of time is given 2 things to translate - a text on strange fabric that is nothing but drawn fish and a small book with a language that's nothing but thorny branches. Also within a few pages, we meet an older wizardess, advisor to the newly crowned, young Queen; a young librarian desperately in love with Nepenthe and a young wizard at the nearby Floating School, a student there.

Translating the two documents becomes both a consuming task and a history lesson, while politics swirl around the Queen, who is far over her head but trying to keep up. Mixed in with the current situation is an old tale of two heroes, from a kingdom that doesn't seem to have anything to do with the current kingdom at all. The story switches back and forth between the two stories and Nepenthe's progress with the translations, and her relationships, while the Queen tries to find her way of doing things.

Well written, like all McKillip novels and interesting. Not a tremendous amount of action, but there is a tense situation going on and a romance or two. I thought this one wrapped up a little too conveniently, but even so, still excellent. I can still recall the plot and even a couple of character names a month later, which is a good sign.

Was it immersive? Yes.
Was it memorable? Yes.
Would I re-read it? I expect I will.
Would I recommend it? Yes, definitely, for anyone who doesn't need a lot of physical action in a novel.

27Karlstar
Abr 13, 10:07 pm

Bloody Okinawa by Joseph Wheelan
STTM: 9 - a lot of mud, a lot of slogging, both in history and in the telling
Rating: 5 out of 10

I made an unfortunate choice to pick this one up based on an Amazon recommendation. I was hoping for more of a strategic overview, with some of the political considerations included, but this book is a recounting of the hill by hill, ridge by ridge brutal battle for southern Okinawa.

As such, it is quite detailed and I think complete. There were a couple of glaring errors that did cause me to wonder about the accuracy of minor details, but not many. I just didn't need a novel focused on the detailed tactical level, down to companies and individual locations and the awful battles that happened at every one of them. I think there should have been more questioning of the leadership on the American side.

I recently saw an article about a current Marine unit in Okinawa, complete with pictures of dense vegetation. Comparing that to the depictions in this book of how the area looked after the 1945 battles - a WWI-like landscape of nothing but mud and craters, it was nice to see.

I did not find this immersive and I won't read it again, but it was memorable, in a horrible way.

28Karlstar
Abr 13, 10:28 pm



Childe Morgan by Katherine Kurtz
STTM: - 4 - a little bit of travel, some coming of age
Rating: 6 out of 10

I picked this book up because it was on sale on Kindle recently, though I already have the hardcover. I'm glad I did. When I first started it, I had the same expectation I had the first time I read it, that this would be a book about Alaric Morgan, Kelson's protector in the Kelson series. It isn't, it is a story about his mother. I had forgotten the plot entirely, so much so I'm not sure I finished this book the first time.

Unlike Kurtz's other series, this one isn't quite as focused on the Haldane kings and their friends. This time, it is focused on two young sisters. Recently orphaned, they are sent to a convent to grow up a bit and learn, before they have to marry, as both are inheritors of important noble titles and lands. I thought the story conveniently ignored the fact that the younger sister wasn't in line to inherit anything. The girls spend a surprising number of years in the convent before events recall them to the King's court, where they get caught up in Deryni and human politics. There's a very strange side plot with the King and his need for a protector for his sons. The plot has some of the usual Deryni plot elements, with rebellion in Meara and encroachments by neighboring Deryni kingdoms, but nothing as serious as her other books. This is all about the court, the girls, and putting people in the right places for already known history.

I liked it much more than the first time and I will go on to re-read the next book in the series. I don't remember what happens in that one either.

29Alexandra_book_life
Abr 14, 1:03 am

>26 Karlstar: This reminds me that I've been wanting to read more McKillip! So far, I've only read The Riddlemaster of Hed, Heir of Sea and Fire, and Harpist in the Wind - I enjoyed them all.

31clamairy
Abr 14, 7:30 pm

>27 Karlstar: I'm not big on those Amazon recommendations. I will sometimes purchase one if it's $1.99. I'm not even that crazy about the LibraryThing algorithm's recommendations, to be honest. I find the recommendations made by other LibraryThing members (which are usually located underneath the ones the algorithm has recommended) to be much more in line with my tastes.

32Karlstar
Abr 14, 7:44 pm

>29 Alexandra_book_life: I really enjoy that series and I encourage you to read more McKillip, her writing is fantastic.

>30 haydninvienna: Iceland is a lot closer! Wonder if they'll be inundated with tourists.

>31 clamairy: I'm learning to ignore them, unless it is a book in a series I've been waiting for..

33Karlstar
Editado: Abr 14, 8:02 pm

We did it, we went to Curd Nerd! You may recall that I posted some time last year that a shop in Syracuse, NY, won the award for best cheesemonger in the United States. We stopped in Syracuse today for an overnight trip and among a couple others, stopped into two places - one, Funk and Waffles, in downtown Syracuse, where, you guessed it, everything is on a waffle. I had the Jive Turkey waffle, which is a stuffing waffle with mashed potatoes, turkey and gravy on it with cranberry sauce on the side. Awesome.

The other location of note was Curd Nerd. They had an impressive selection of cheeses that I've never heard of, but luckily for us, they had a whole basket of 'orphan' cheeses - 1 to 2 ounce pieces. Trish picked a few of the orphans and we added a few more common cheeses.

This was our haul:

Nancy's Camembert - say it is from NY
Dubliner Kerry Gold
Gorgonzola Dolce - also says 'DOP', not sure what that means, maybe that it is from Italy?
Maple Washed Willoughby, which says it is from 'Jasper Hill'
Shropshire Blue - Neal's Yard Dairy
Sapore Del Piave - Italy
Chevre - Lively Run daily, NY
Pecorino Romano - Italy

Also a couple of tiny jars of jam - cherry and fig. It is a tiny shop but they really had a unique selection. Very helpful and they offered to let us taste anything.

34clamairy
Editado: Abr 14, 9:34 pm

>33 Karlstar: Oh boy! I can't wait to hear your reviews of the cheeses. I've had several of those (Dubliner, Pecorino Romano) but I'm really curious about Gorgonzola and the NY Camembert. Please try to remember to report on each one.

I'm also fascinated by the very idea of a stuffing waffle.

35MrsLee
Abr 14, 9:45 pm

>33 Karlstar: OMG that waffle sounds amazing. Now I'm really looking forward to Thanksgiving so I can try to make one. Maybe I will break all the rules and cook a turkey in June! May will be too busy.

The cheese shop sounds great also. I hope it is close enough to you that you can return often. My problem when I go to those types of places is that they are usually so far away I know I won't likely return, so I buy way too much. I was going to say way too much for us to eat, but we do seem to manage it.

36pgmcc
Abr 14, 10:21 pm

>31 clamairy:
I seldom find anything interesting in Amazon recommendations. Very often Amazon will recommend a book I bought from Amazon previously. Some recommendations are for books which I have given a very low rating and a bad review on Amazon.

37pgmcc
Abr 14, 10:23 pm

>33 Karlstar:

Dubliner is a very nice cheddar.

38haydninvienna
Abr 15, 12:39 am

>37 pgmcc: Seconded.

>32 Karlstar: Unfortunately, Iceland is often cloudy. We were there years ago and despite good aurora forecasts never actually saw an autroroa because of constant cloud.

Did you see that in 2037 there will be an eclipse that will actually be total right where I'm sitting now? I wonder if I'll be here to see it.

39hfglen
Abr 15, 9:17 am

>33 Karlstar: DOP is the Italian equivalent of the French AOC. It means that the cheese comes from the officially-protected area of origin.

40clamairy
Abr 15, 9:37 am

>35 MrsLee: I think one could easily substitute a roast chicken. Much smaller project! In fact a couple of game hens might even do the trick. I was thinking I could get away with store-bought uncured turkey slices, and then I remembered that I would need gravy. I have not found a single commercially produced gravy product to be even remotely palatable. (But it's been years since I tried any.)

41pgmcc
Abr 15, 11:38 am

>40 clamairy:
Now, when you say gravy, do you mean US gravy as in “biscuits and gravy”, or what we would call gravy.
For the record, I love both, so I have no hang-ups about the use of the word gravy. Nor do I have a hang-up about the multiple meanings of the word biscuits in this context.

42Karlstar
Abr 15, 12:03 pm

>34 clamairy: >35 MrsLee: It really was a good cheese shop. We may not get back to visit Syracuse any time soon, except for two things - it isn't far from the Ren Faire we really like and it is on the direct path from here back to Poughkeepsie, so when I return for work, I'll drive right past and it is not far from the highway. There's a chance!

Funk and Waffles was featured years ago on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and the stuffing waffle was what caught my attention, I think they've perfected it in the time since.

>37 pgmcc: I haven't had much more than a taste so far, but it was very good.

43Karlstar
Abr 15, 12:06 pm

>38 haydninvienna: I hadn't noticed that in the list, but I hope you will. It seems unlikely that we'll travel internationally to see an eclipse, but who knows.

>39 hfglen: Thank you!

>40 clamairy: It is hard to make a good turkey or chicken gravy without roasting the bird, though I think it can be done with just a turkey breast (the kind on the bone), though those are pricey this time of year.

44MrsLee
Abr 15, 2:24 pm

>40 clamairy: One could substitute, but IMO roasted chicken does not have the same flavor as roasted turkey. Yes, I would need the gizzard, lungs, heart, liver and pan juices to get the gravy I like.

>41 pgmcc: There are as many gravies in America as there are sauces and curries and salsas in other countries. And we have all those as well! My turkey gravy is not made with any dairy. It has a flour and turkey fat roux, the finely minced internal organs that come with the bird, seasonings, roasting pan juices and turkey broth from cooking the organs. Sometimes I will add a little instant coffee to adjust the color.

My sausage gravy which goes on biscuits of the baking powder variety (if you don't have sausage just skip the gravy and use butter and honey instead), has a flour and sausage fat roux, with the sausage and milk plus seasonings.

45clamairy
Abr 15, 2:45 pm

>41 pgmcc: I meant the variety of gravy that one makes after roasting meat or a bird, not the kind one can make with drippings from sausage. I only make the 'brown' kind, not the 'gray' kind. BTW, my Italian brother-in-law called his tomato sauce 'gravy.'

46Karlstar
Abr 15, 7:29 pm

>44 MrsLee: I believe this is where my wife, sisters and mother would chime in "No giblet gravy!!". Mine is a butter and flour roux with pan drippings and turkey broth (from the neck) and usually a little bit of the leftover cream from making my twice-baked potatoes, which has a little butter and chipotle pepper in adobo.

47MrsLee
Abr 15, 8:44 pm

>46 Karlstar: As a rule, I would agree with them! I loathe liver, but because it gets pureed into tiny bits, I do like the depth of flavor in my gravy. The only time I ever eat liver.

48clamairy
Abr 15, 8:57 pm

>47 MrsLee: I cook all the little bits that come in the bag inside the bird with carrots, onion, seasonings and celery. Then I strain that water and use it for my gravy. And the bits get fed to whatever pets I own. (I usually eat the carrots, but the celery goes out for the raccoons and possums.)

49haydninvienna
Abr 16, 2:00 am

Ogden Nash obviously had some unhappy dining experiences. I quote from memory:
I would ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross
For giblet gravy and cranberry sauce
Two treats that are held in reserve by the waiter
Till you've finished your turkey and mashed potater.

50Karlstar
Abr 16, 12:05 pm

>47 MrsLee: >48 clamairy: You two are making me regret not buying a whole turkey last month when I had the chance. I believe I would get in a lot of trouble if I tried to sneak in the liver and other bits into any part of the turkey, if the ladies in my family found out.

>49 haydninvienna: I'd be cranky too if they withheld the gravy and cranberry until I was done!

51Karlstar
Abr 16, 10:21 pm

Apparently from the amount I was talking on video for work this afternoon, Trish thought I needed a snack, so she made a cheese and cracker snack plate, so I have a partial report.

Gorgonzola Dolce - really creamy texture and mild blue flavor. Almost like a brie/gorgonzola combo. Really good.
Shropshire Blue - this one is orange and blue, and tastes like a cheddar and mild blue mix.
Sapore Del Piave - a hard cheese, texture like asiago, but not as sharp.
Pecorino Romano - even good on a cracker.

52pgmcc
Abr 16, 10:38 pm

>51 Karlstar:
Those cheeses sound nice.

While working from home my wife became known to my colleagues as the lady who appeared on the side of the screen putting a mug of tea and a plate with a snack on the desk beside me.

53Alexandra_book_life
Abr 17, 6:38 am

>51 Karlstar: Yummy, it sounds like a great cheese selection!

54Sakerfalcon
Abr 17, 7:46 am

>51 Karlstar: You are making me hungry!

55clamairy
Abr 17, 8:04 am

>51 Karlstar: They all sound awesome, but I'm putting that Gorgonzola Dolce on my "find somewhere" list.

56Karlstar
Abr 17, 12:47 pm

>52 pgmcc: We are both lucky!

>53 Alexandra_book_life: >54 Sakerfalcon: I will try to sample the rest today. If I can find time between meetings. We have a new manager so work has gotten a lot busier.

>55 clamairy: Good luck! Road trip to Syracuse?

58Alexandra_book_life
Abr 17, 3:56 pm

>57 Karlstar: This was an interesting article. Yes, I'd take quality over quantity any day ;)

59Karlstar
Abr 17, 4:52 pm

>58 Alexandra_book_life: Unfortunately while I wish the publishers put more resources into the books they do publish, I think the conclusion is a little off. There are more good writers all the time, I'm just not sure the pool of people willing to buy books at a fair price is keeping up.

I think this part is also critical "(Once again I’m only talking about major publishers, but small presses are vital, and if self-published books can one day divest from Amazon they too will be crucial in creating a healthy publishing ecosystem)."

Having more healthy small publishers is important, giving more authors more opportunity to be published.

60jillmwo
Abr 17, 8:12 pm

>59 Karlstar: It's not just discovery that is challenging these days. Distribution for small publishers is currently experiencing some degree of chaos with the closure of Small Press Distribution (https://spdbooks.org/) as announced abruptly at the end of March. Based on what I read, there's a lot of money and stock tied up in warehouses.

I suspect that trade publishers would tell you that they are struggling to successfully reach every possible population of readers with just the "right book" these days -- at the same time that the number of those who actually read more than a book a month is diminishing. They would like to improve quality but, like the White Queen in Through the Looking Glass, they have to run very fast just to stay in the same place. (Or was it the Red Queen who was doing that?)

Meanwhile the best seller lists hold less and less titles of interest for me. I am beginning to believe Oscar Wilde's quote "If a book is not worth reading more than once, why bother to read it at all". (That's a quote from memory and thus, it may be more of a paraphrase, but my point is that I find myself relying on re-reads or initial reads of titles that may be a good 20 years old. It's not the new stuff that's attracting me at all.)

61Karlstar
Abr 17, 10:16 pm

>60 jillmwo: If only we were rich enough to start our own publishing business, or a bookstore, or something book related.

62jillmwo
Editado: Abr 18, 10:46 am

>61 Karlstar: Here's a discussion from the NY Times (gift article; no paywall) that talks about some of the current challenges facing small presses. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/04/17/books/small-press-distribution-closure.html?u...

SPD handled hundreds of 300 small independent presses and their abrupt closure will be felt by many independent bookstores that carry titles with primary appeal to niche audiences.

63Karlstar
Abr 18, 11:59 am

>62 jillmwo: Thanks, though it sounds like their business model was precarious.

64Karlstar
Abr 18, 2:32 pm

I finished The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi, which was fun. I'm impressed by how much research the author did to get the setting right.

65pgmcc
Abr 18, 3:06 pm

>64 Karlstar:
Her books are very good. Have you tried, City of Brass yet? jillmwo hit me with a BB for it several years ago and I not looked back since. Thank you Jill!

66clamairy
Editado: Abr 18, 3:43 pm

>65 pgmcc: Damn it. All this time I've been giving you credit for hitting me, and it was just a ricochet! Actually, I think I bought that when it was on sale for $2.99 even though I didn't know anything about it. And then I didn't read it until you started waxing poetically about its merits.

67pgmcc
Abr 18, 3:54 pm

>66 clamairy:
Shannon attended the Worldcon in 2019 which was held in Dublin. She signed my copy. If she is at Worldcon in Glasgow this year I might be lucky enough to get her to sign my copy of Amina al-Sirafi.

68Karlstar
Abr 18, 10:27 pm

>65 pgmcc: I have read the first two books in that series, City of Brass and Kingdom of Copper. I haven't gotten to the third one yet.

69Darth-Heather
Abr 19, 10:18 am

>68 Karlstar: hang on to your hat - the third one has a lot of commotion going on! It does tie up a lot of the issues in the society between the sects, and I like how it ends. There is a fourth one, River of Silver, but it is short stories that take place all throughout the timeline of the trilogy and isn't really necessary to the plot, although some of them are good.

70Karlstar
Abr 19, 2:44 pm

>69 Darth-Heather: I'm glad to hear it ties things up a bit, the unresolved political chaos was not my favorite in the 2nd book.