A great intro to functional programming. The overall organization is good, and I liked the level of detail for an introductory book. Marick does a gooA great intro to functional programming. The overall organization is good, and I liked the level of detail for an introductory book. Marick does a good job of systematically introducing functional principles through theory, well-constructed examples, and exercises. The book uses Clojure for most of its examples, and although it is a bit frustrating when you're reading along about a concept and then hit something along the lines of "hold on, now I have to teach you some new Clojure syntax," it probably works better than trying to front-load all of the language constructs would have. Marick is also enthusiastic and convincing about the merits of functional programming without being all fanboy about it.
In one other note, Chapter 7, which deals with the "flow" of functional-style programs, seemed to be the most important chapter, to me. Consequently, perhaps, it was also the most difficult for me. Interestingly, I made some significant mental progress when I read the chapter backward. I think I (unsurprisingly) just need more time with functional programming to feel comfortable thinking the right way....more
Great book. I picked it up because I wanted to read something by Gaiman and this one happened to be in at my local library. It was in the Young AdultGreat book. I picked it up because I wanted to read something by Gaiman and this one happened to be in at my local library. It was in the Young Adult section, which didn't bother me because a lot of the stuff I read is classified as YA. Anyway, this one was a little more young than adult, but it was still a great and creative story. Definitely gonna pick up more of his work....more
There was a time in my life when I would have loved this book. I think it's just not my taste anymore. I can definitely understand the love that manyThere was a time in my life when I would have loved this book. I think it's just not my taste anymore. I can definitely understand the love that many people have for it, though. The plot is well crafted and intricate, and the storytelling device of switching perspectives for each chapter works well. The intrigue and drama is thick and fast-paced, and the sheer number of characters is impressive.
One problem I had was that I couldn't quite place the genre of the book. It opens with a very supernatural prologue that makes you think you're diving into a fantasy, humans-vs-evil-magic-people novel. After that scene, however, most of the book is spent in a realistic, medieval, humans-vs-evil-humans world and the magic people only get mentioned occasionally as half-forgotten legend. I'm assuming this part of the world will be more developed in the (numerous) later books in the series, but it left me disappointed at the end of this first book.
More frustrating to me, however, was the world-building. What few other supernatural events that did occur left me as a reader feeling sort of betrayed. One character kept having premonitions that didn't add to the plot, but left me wondering what system of magic allowed him to have them. Besides him, the magic in his book seems to be confined to a few, mystical characters, and again, the source of their power is difficult to understand. Some of them seem tied to different gods--gods who weren't really mentioned until the people using their power showed up--but at least one very critical, very supernatural event near the end of the book was almost completely unexplained. Again, maybe all of this will be explained and integrated later in the series, but I think critical world-building like that needs to be explained to the reader early. I need to know the rules of the world you've put me in.
Also, those evil humans--and even some of the more morally moderate humans--are very gruesome. Maybe it's realistic for the setting, but I could have done without all of the graphic descriptions of torture and killing. Those just aren't entertaining to me.
It's too bad, really, because I was looking forward to reading the series. I've started the second book, maybe it will redeem itself....more
This book often ranks high in various lists and it has over a 4-star average rating on Goodreads, but I thought it was not very creative and too vulgaThis book often ranks high in various lists and it has over a 4-star average rating on Goodreads, but I thought it was not very creative and too vulgar and violent for my tastes. It felt a lot like Starship Troopers to me. I guess more people like grotesque alien war stories than I would have expected....more
While it occasionally gets bogged down in dialog, the shack presented some excellent thought exercises, particularly regarding the trinity. I would deWhile it occasionally gets bogged down in dialog, the shack presented some excellent thought exercises, particularly regarding the trinity. I would definitely recommend reading it with another person or a group in order to provide a place to discuss the concepts it presents....more
Okay, usually 5 stars means the book changed my life or something. This one, however, is just a really good story.
I read a review online and decided tOkay, usually 5 stars means the book changed my life or something. This one, however, is just a really good story.
I read a review online and decided to get a copy from the library. I sent my wife to pick it up, and when I finally saw it on the table my first thought was "sheesh! That thing is huge!" I didn't even had to renew it. Truly entertaining and original. Definitely fantasy, but it doesn't beat you over the head with it. It's just a damn good story. I was disappointed when the book ended and was obviously just the first in a series, but then I realized that at least that meant there would be more! Apparently the sequel comes out March 1 of next year. I'll definitely be getting my hands on one quickly....more
I listened to the audio-book version of this because that was the only edition my local library had. The book was read by several different readers--SI listened to the audio-book version of this because that was the only edition my local library had. The book was read by several different readers--Scott Brick, William Dufris, Eliza Foss, and Peter Larkin--with each reader performing the sections for one or two characters. Unfortunately, I found I disliked almost all of them, with the very notable exception of the reader for Petronus. The reader for Neb and Rudolfo was especially bad. He made every sentence sound like it ended in a sigh. He made Neb sound like a whiny brat (though perhaps that was accurate, now that I think about it), Winters sounded like a Barbie doll or something, and Neb's guide through the churning wastes (forgot the character's name already) sounded like he walked around with his thumbs stuck in his belt loops. Unfortunately, I can't tell from the credits online which reader performed which part, because I need to make sure I never listen to a book read by that guy again.
Besides the poor quality of the audio performances, I thought the novel itself was lacking in several ways. The previous book, Lamentation, kept me on my toes through an ever-widening scope of plot, and a sense of mystery which derived mostly from how the characters would behave and what their true motivations were. The scope of this book seemed much narrower and the plot more straightforward. This is the middle book of a series, so I suppose it's not surprising that the characters are more predictable now. My bigger gripe is that Scholes' ability for creating intrigue and mystery--so present in the first book--was largely lacking in this book. While there were plenty of unanswered questions, these seemed to come much more from mysticism and deliberate obfuscation rather than from the plot and the characters.
I have some other complaints with the book, too. The plot seems too controlled by fate with no chance for valor or heroism. As others have mentioned, Scholes does have an annoying tendency to over-use certain phrases (every puzzle doesn't have to be a "Whymer maze," Ken). The history of the world is also rather confusing. An official reference website or appendix would be helpful in that regard. Overall, a mediocre read....more
This book had a great plot with lots of movement and some great character development. I really enjoyed the storytelling style in which each chapter iThis book had a great plot with lots of movement and some great character development. I really enjoyed the storytelling style in which each chapter is divided into sections, with each section from a different character's perspective. This narrative trick allows us to get inside the head of each character as the complex story progresses and Scholes does a great job of making each character--even the despicable ones--understandable, and many of the characters are quite lovable (impressive for a book with so much violence).
My only complaint is that the robots felt awkward in the story. They're definitely artificially intelligent, and they apparently have emotions, but they're described as being fully mechanical and are powered by steam?? Fortunately, only one of them plays any significant role in the story, and it's relatively limited at that.
Way too long. Also, as always, Eldredge (both of them, in this case) appeal more to pop culture and emotion than to scripture. I really enjoyed Wild AWay too long. Also, as always, Eldredge (both of them, in this case) appeal more to pop culture and emotion than to scripture. I really enjoyed Wild At Heart so when I was getting married, I decided to see what Eldredge had to say about women. My wife warned me that she never actually got through the book and that parts of it resonated more with her than others. Basically, I hit the same thing: I got bored and quit before the end and I thought parts of it were better than others. Too bad....more
This is a really neat book. The idea is that you don't have to master biblical Greek in order to be able to use Greek tools. It does a great job of inThis is a really neat book. The idea is that you don't have to master biblical Greek in order to be able to use Greek tools. It does a great job of introducing you to Greek grammar, teaching you how Greek differs from English, and showing how those differences become important to exegesis of the New Testament. Mounce also spends time discussing why the various English translations differ, such as differences in translation philosophy, ambiguity in the original Greek, and availability or choice of source manuscripts. There is a fascinating chapter on the history of Biblical manuscripts and translations. He's also really good about making sure you understand the limits of your Greek knowledge, and often warns of the dangers of becoming over-confident in your knowledge.
He also recommends a lot of specific books and software tools. Perhaps even more helpful, he warns against a lot of resources either because they're not good quality or because they're too advanced for non-scholars. While I haven't bought any of the commentaries, concordances, or software tools he recommends, I do own another book by him called An Interlinear for the Rest of Us. He calls it a "reverse" interlinear, since it lists the English (NIV) at the top and then rearranges the Greek to fit the English word order. It then has the original Greek at the bottom of the page in case you want to see it that way.
Overall, it was a somewhat dry but highly informative read. It was really fun learning to read Greek: I felt like a 1st grader again trying to sound out words for the first time. I haven't really put my new knowledge to use yet, but I look forward to the opportunity. I'd definitely recommend it.
I had read this book in high school, but I decided to read it again after I picked up a copy at a garage sale for 50¢. I found that I enjoyed it muchI had read this book in high school, but I decided to read it again after I picked up a copy at a garage sale for 50¢. I found that I enjoyed it much more, now that I am older and able to look back on my own high school years much as the narrator does in this book.
For such a short book, A Separate Peace packs in a lot of subtle meaning. The questions of identity seemed to me the dominant theme through the book: Gene (the narrator) and Finny are best friends, but increasingly rely on each other and by the end of the book are so co-dependent that each seems to think of the other as an extension of himself.
The book also takes place during World War II and The War sets the most important backdrop for the story. The way in which each character responds to the reality of The War is an important theme as well. In the end, Knowles concludes: "it seemed clear that wars were not made by generations and their special stupidities, but that wars were made instead by something ignorant in the human heart."
I'll confess that while the major themes were pretty accessible in this book, a quick read through sparknotes was also helpful for me in picking up on some of the significance of some of the more subtle points in the book....more
This book was recommended to me by a co-worker. Tracy Kidder is a Pulitzer prize-winning author (for Soul of a New Machine) with a unique style. He bThis book was recommended to me by a co-worker. Tracy Kidder is a Pulitzer prize-winning author (for Soul of a New Machine) with a unique style. He basically picks someone interesting, and follows them around for a year or so and records everything they do. He combines that with a lot of research and interviews and then still manages to write a book that reads almost like a novel.
In Among Schoolchildren he follows around Mrs. Zajack, who is a really good fifth-grade teacher in a really difficult school. It is fascinating to looks in on her classroom for a year and witness how a truly good teacher teaches.
In one sense, it's a very encouraging book. Mrs. Zajack is everything you hope your child's teacher will be: she works hard, cares deeply about each child, treats every child fairly, gives a lot of individual attention, manages the children's behavior well, and all of that. But it also demonstrates clearly that even a great teacher can only do so much, and that the most important factor in determining a child's success or failure is--almost without exception--their home life. That's an important "almost," though, and at the end of the year even one of the students with the most problems shows some encouraging signs of progress.
Having just married an educator, I think this book will be valuable as I try to understand my wife's work.
Now if I could just remember to return this book to the library. I probably owe $5 on it already....more
I'm a big fan of science fiction which is set in the modern world. That is, instead of being set way in the future with tons of science-fictiony technI'm a big fan of science fiction which is set in the modern world. That is, instead of being set way in the future with tons of science-fictiony technology and stuff, I have found that I enjoy books which take the approach of "what if _____ happened today." Maybe the blank is something crazy, but the rest of the plot deals with that invented reality in a recognizable world.
(As a side note, I think this is one reason I liked Orson Scott Card's so-called Shadow series so much better than his Ender Series. Even though both branch as sequels from the exact same story, the Shadow Series follows one of the two co-main characters back to a basically modern-day Earth, while the Ender Series follows the other character through long relativistic journeys to other planets with weird societies.)
Spin is that kind of science fiction. Wilson does a great job of posing a hypothetical "what if" and wrapping that it in good storytelling. Through a cast of well developed characters, Wilson explores both individuals' and society's reactions to the changed world, and the plot builds steadily to a really good ending.
Unfortunately, while Spin definitely leaves you wanting more, the sequel, Axis, is a big disappointment. I didn't find myself nearly as engaged in this book as I was with the first one. Perhaps it was because his premise was less interesting to me this time. Or maybe it was because I didn't find the characters as intriguing. Whatever it was, I was really pretty bored with the second book. By the end, when the iridescent alien forest appears in the middle of the desert and a few of the characters are sucked through a giant archway millions of years into the future, Wilson totally lost me. I can enjoy truly far-fetched Star Wars-style sci-fi, but Wilson would be better off sticking to what he proved so good at in Spin: realistic speculative fiction. I'll go read Asimov or Heinlein if I want the hard-core stuff. I mean really, glowing forests?...more
This is a really interesting book to gain insight into the Buddhist world-view. It's a short read and I even picked up some things for my Christian faThis is a really interesting book to gain insight into the Buddhist world-view. It's a short read and I even picked up some things for my Christian faith through reading it....more
I really enjoyed this book. Bradbury takes our society and its desire for cheap, mindless entertainment to the extreme and deftly shows how such a socI really enjoyed this book. Bradbury takes our society and its desire for cheap, mindless entertainment to the extreme and deftly shows how such a society loses all meaning and value. He does more than just draw a picture and show how ugly it is, though. Through the use of several flat characters, Bradbury tries to make you understand simultaneously the ease with which such a society might come to exist, and the moral complexity of how it would sustain itself and ultimately collapse.
I think Bradbury's strongest point in this book is that such a dystopian society could arise sua sponte, without being forced upon the people from the top down....more
The Call of the Wild surprised me with its simple eloquence. The story moves swiftly but somehow remains rich in detail. The tale is deep, rather thanThe Call of the Wild surprised me with its simple eloquence. The story moves swiftly but somehow remains rich in detail. The tale is deep, rather than long, and though it's a quick read, I often found myself pausing after certain paragraphs to appreciate the full depth of the passage. And of course, the story will speak volumes to anyone--especially, perhaps, to men--who has ever felt "the call of the wild" in one way or another....more
This was the first John Grisham book I've read. The story was straightforward and interesting, but the book was surprisingly less gripping than I expeThis was the first John Grisham book I've read. The story was straightforward and interesting, but the book was surprisingly less gripping than I expected from Grisham. I expected more plot twists, betrayals, and fast action. Instead, the story was actually quite predictable. On the other hand, it certainly never dragged, and it was actually quite believable, which is more than I can say about the Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, or Michael Crichton books that I've read (which is sort of the pop-fiction group I've always put Grisham in).
I'm planning to return this book to the library and check out one of Grisham's more famous books, like The Firm or The Client or The Pelican Brief or something like that. Maybe this book wasn't typical Grisham. I'll let you know....more