Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1)The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I did not know what I was getting myself into when I started this book. I knew that everyone was reading it, so I decided to read the book too. I must admit that I wish I knew what the book was about before I purchased it.

This book focuses on the mystery of what happened to a young woman years ago. I really enjoyed this mystery. I found the story very fascinating, and I did not know how the book was going to end. At the same time, there was a lot of discussion and graphic description of violence against women. This I did not enjoy. I have worked with women who have been victims of physical and sexual abuse, and I do not like reading about it for fiction's sake. I do not feel that the violence was gratuitous; I understand why it was there. Personally, however, I just do not enjoy reading about it.

I own the two other books in the series; however, I do not know if I will ever read them.

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Review: Crucible of Gold

Crucible of Gold
Crucible of Gold by Naomi Novik

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Temeraire and Laurence are living quite happily in Australia when duty calls in the form of Hammond. Because Temeraire and Laurence can't say no to gold, fighting Napoleon, or country, they agree to go to South America and help the British cause. As you can imagine, Temeraire and company quickly get themselves into trouble in the form of sailors, locals, and Frenchmen.

I feel that I did not give this book enough of a chance. In order to finish the next book (#8) in the series, I pushed through this one, even though I was a little Temeraire-ed out. Overall, this was a fun book, but I found myself zoning out about three-quarters of the way though. The story was fine; I just kept getting distracted.

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Review: Happy Hour in Hell

Happy Hour in Hell
Happy Hour in Hell by Tad Williams

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was kindly donated for review by the Penguin Group.

Bobby Dollar, Heaven's slightly problematic angel, is having another ill-advised adventure in Happy Hour in Hell. In this book, Bobby decides to go to Hell to rescue his demon girlfriend Caz. Luckily, a higher level angel wants Bobby to do a little errand for him in Hell, so Bobby learns how to get down below. What proceeds is an adventure through Hell that only Bobby Dollar would venture through.

This was a fun second installment in the Bobby Dollar series. I felt that Bobby Dollar's voice was stronger in this installment. Also, the writing in general seemed a bit cleaner. In other words, the first-person narrative didn't grate on me like the first book.

I feel that Hell was described very well, and the place became a three-dimensional world for me. The land was not just fire and brimstone, but came alive with Tad Williams' writing. I must admit that the adventure seemed to drag a bit at times. It seemed that Williams' wanted to describe every facet of Hell, but the descriptions were interesting, so I kept moving forward. I wish that the book had focused a bit more on the Third Way conspiracy; however, I think this is going to be discussed more in the next book.

This was a fun book, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Brief Note: I want to let people know who are sensitive to sexual violence in books that there is a rape scene in the book. It is not a focus to the book and the scene can be skipped without missing any major plot points to the book.

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Review: Great Little Gifts to Knit: 30 Quick and Colorful Patterns

Great Little Gifts to Knit: 30 Quick and Colorful Patterns
Great Little Gifts to Knit: 30 Quick and Colorful Patterns by Jean Moss

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was generously donated by The Taunton Press, Inc. for review.

First Impressions: Do you have friends, family members, co-workers, acquaintances, or random strangers that you need to knit presents for? Well this book is perfect for you. This book has 30 projects for babies/little ones, women, men, and the home. An extra bonus is that the presents are unique (e.g., beaded wristlets and a dog jacket) but simple (most of these projects are easy enough for an advanced beginner). Another extra bonus is that most of these projects are ones that I would actually knit for people (e.g., mittens, hats, and baby booties). I really hate it when gift books are predominately filled with items that are interesting when opened but quickly forgotten.

The Details: As stated earlier, this book has 30 projects for babies/little ones, women, men, and the home. Rowan yarns are used for the projects, but the author encourages knitters to use whatever yarns that are handy and/or affordable. There is a section in the back of the book that reviews special techniques that are used in the book. I find this helpful for when I don't want to dig out one of my knitting technique books. Of note, although the babies/little ones, men, and home sections all have about the same number of patterns, the women's section is double the number of patterns. Although this is not surprising, it is a bit frustrating, because I don't typically have a problem with finding women's patterns.

Final Impressions: This is a great book of knitting patterns for advanced beginners. There is a good amount of variety in the patterns for all the different people in your life that needed knitted presents.

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Wednesday Update!

I must admit that I am quite proud of myself for getting my posts done on time. I bet that you are pleased as well, considering you might be on pins and needles about what I am up to at this very moment. I am going on a bit of a vacation for the next few days; however, I there should still be entertaining this being posted on the blog nonetheless, including a review of Happy Hour in Hell, which comes out on September 3rd.


Crucible of Gold - 45% completed - I have picked up this audiobook again. Although I have a good idea what happened, because I have already read Blood of Tyrants, I want to get a full picture of Temeraire's life. Also, some crazy things go down in this book, and I would like to bear witness to all of them.

The Curse of Chalion - 20% completed -  I am not sure what is going to happen in this book, but I am really enjoying it. This is definitely a book that I would never had picked up, if it wasn't for the Sword and Laser book club. Once I have a bit more time, I am going to have to read more by Lois McMaster Bujold.

Fun! Entertainment! Randomness!

Sunday Update

Check this out! I am posting my Sunday Update on Sunday. :) Life is starting to fall into a normal humdrum pattern now. I am blocking out time for reading and posting.


I just focused on finishing Happy Hour in Hell, which I finished just a few minutes ago. I will post my review on September 3rd (release day); however, I will say that I enjoyed the writing more in this book than the first, The Dirty Streets of Heaven. I did have a few problems with it, but if you enjoyed the first book, you will enjoy this one too.

Now that I done with an ARC that needed to be completed ASAP, I am going back to the Sword & Laser pick for August, The Curse of Chalion. Hopefully, I will remember what was happening in the book when I pick it up again!

Fun! Randomness! Entertainment!

I have picked up my knitting again, and I decided to pick up my knitting blog too. Feel free to check it out here.

Review: Emma

Emma by Jane Austen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Emma is a young lady who is looking for love in all the wrong places and trying to help her friends find love too. Although Emma thinks she is worldly and experienced, she is still quite young, and this gets her into a few difficult situations while trying to figure out this thing called life.

I read this book back in high school. At the time I totally related to the character. All Emma wants to do is help her family and friends. She means well, but sometimes things don't work as expected, because she is a bit young. As a teenager, I related to her thinking and what she was trying to do. I think now I would throw my hands in the air in frustration at Emma; however, I throw my hands in the air in frustration over things I did as a teenager.

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Wednesday Update

It seems to be another quiet week here in Pennsylvania. I don't know why I have less time for books than I did when I was working full time. I guess errands and whatnot are taking up my life right now. This does not mean I am going to slow down the blog though. I made a new rule that I need to read for at least an hour every day. I feel that I can take time out of my busy HGTV watching schedule. :) The House Hunter show just keeps drawing me in!


I am only reading one book right now, Happy Hour in Hell. I want to keep the review quiet until September 3rd, but I will say it is a ton of fun right now. Our favorite angel, Bobby Dollar, is in a hot locale right now, if you get my meaning. I wonder what trouble is going to follow him next!

Randomness! Entertainment! Fun!

Chains is my new favorite website. You name each chain something that you want to get done every day, and you click on it once you get the item done. You want to grow your chain as long as possible. The idea is not to break the chain. It is helping with the dissertation work. 

My other favorite website is from Animal Planet. See live animals being cute! There are puppies, kittens, fish, birds, and other animals. I love watching the kittens when I am feeling stressed.

Review: Knit Christmas Stockings, 2nd Edition

Knit Christmas Stockings, 2nd Edition
Knit Christmas Stockings, 2nd Edition by Gwen Steege

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was generously donated by Storey Publishing for review.

First Impressions: It is my favorite Christmas stocking book but updated! I own the first edition of this book, and I love it so much. I try to knit a Christmas stocking every year. Ooooh! The patterns have all been reknit with new yarns! Oooooh! The book looks so much more grownup too!

The Details: This book contains 19 patterns. Storey Publishing has updated the yarns for the new release and has reknit the stockings with the new yarns. I really love that the publishing company updated the yarns with the new edition. This shows that the publishing company cares about the product and isn't just looking for a quick dollar. All of the patterns are the same from the first edition of the book except for one. The Furry Felts stocking has been replaced with the sleeker Reindeer and Bells stocking. The book itself also looks much sleeker than the original book. Now the book is in the shape of a rectangle instead of a stocking. The patterns are not in colorful boxes anymore. This knitting book blends in with your other knitting books. In short, it looks more grownup. The book retains its opening chapter on how to knit stockings and the anatomy of socks.

Final Impressions: I love this book. There is a ton of variety of Christmas stockings in this book. You will not get bored knitting the stockings in this book. I am super happy that the yarns were updated and that the patterns look less busy (no super colorful boxes breaking up the patterns).

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Sunday Update...on Monday

My Sunday Update keeps happening on Monday. I might have officially change it. Now that I am not working, my days are blurring into one another. Monday might be a better day for this. Hmmm.


As you may have noticed, I finished some books last week! I read several craft books last Friday; however, reviews for those books will be posted on their publication dates. Speaking of ARCs, I am currently reading Happy Hour in Hell. I had mixed feelings about the first book; however, I am enjoying this book. I think Tad Williams reworked the first person narrative somehow, because it doesn't make me want to scream and throw the book across the room. Happy Hour in Hell comes out at the beginning of September, so my talking about this book shouldn't be too frustrating. :)

Entertainment! Excitement! Randomness!

Living in the North is inspiring me to knit more, so here are some of my favorite knitting books:

Anything by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (knitting fiction and nonfiction)



Review: Handknit Holidays: Knitting Year-Round for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Winter Solstice

Handknit Holidays: Knitting Year-Round for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Winter Solstice
Handknit Holidays: Knitting Year-Round for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Winter Solstice by Melanie Falick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Open Road Integrated Media generously donated this book for review.

First Impressions: This book is so pretty! I want to live in each of the pictures in this book. Seriously, everything is so shiny, romantic, and holiday-like. I want to knit everything in this book.

The Details: This book has over 50 patterns! Patterns include ornaments, pillows, hats, scarves, mittens and gloves, socks, sweaters, shawls, and bags. It is important to note that although the book has several patterns for the home, children, and women, the patterns for men are lacking. There are no men-only patterns. Some of the clothing patterns are large enough for men, but this book is definitely more skewed towards women's patterns.

Although I love this book so much (I bought the hardcover edition years ago), I have reservations about the e-book. First, my galley copy was a bit "funny." Specifically, knitting charts were cut off. This may be a problem with the galley copy; however, if you purchase the book, check to make sure that you can see all the charts. Second, all of the yarns listed are those that were listed in the original printing. Some of these yarns may not be available anymore. This isn't a huge issue to me; however, because it is hard to keep the yarns in book up-to-date. Finally, the galley copy of the e-book that I received had errors in it that were corrected by the 3rd printing of the book. This is unacceptable. If you purchase this e-book, please look for errata online before knitting any of the patterns. In fact, I would rate the e-book version of this book as 2/5 stars.

Final Impressions: This is a beautiful book. The patterns are clever, fun, and amazing. This book also does a decent job of showcasing patterns for Christmas, Hanukkah, and the Winter Solstice. At the same, the e-book has some serious problems.

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Review: Social Media Metrics for Dummies

Social Media Metrics for Dummies
Social Media Metrics for Dummies by Leslie Poston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received this book through a GoodReads First Reads giveaway.

Social Media Metrics for Dummies isn't the sexiest book you will pick up; however, you use any form of social media (twitter, blogs, facebook, google+, etc.), you should pick this book up. This book is the typical low-stress and easy-to-understand For Dummies format; and it will teach you how to create and track statistics on your social media presence.

Before I begin to gush about this book, I need to talk about the For Dummies series in general. I love the For Dummies books, because they give you a basic understanding of any subject (from algebra to opera) and provide you with the resources of where to go to next if you need more information on your topic. This is so helpful when you are a bit overwhelmed by a subject. Also, For Dummies books usually have great figures, pictures, diagrams, and inset boxes to help you further understand trickier subjects.

Ok, let's talk about Social Media Metrics for Dummies. I received this book at the perfect time in my life. I decided that I wanted to start getting more into social media (twitter, blogging, etc) for my reading and book reviewing (check out my profile for more info1) recently. One publisher sent me an ARC; however, they wanted me to tell them how many unique visitors my blog gets. Well, I had no idea, but I thought this would be good information to have. A few days later, I received this book, and I learned how to track the number of unique visitors my blog receives (and a whole lot more!).

This is a great book for people who want an introduction to tracking your social media metrics. Leslie Poston suggests lots of free options, so the reader isn't expected to start shelling out lots of money. I know that this is a book that I will return to over and over again.

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Review: Blood of Tyrants

Blood of Tyrants
Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novik

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was generously donated by Random House Publishing Group - Del Rey Spectra for review.

This book begins with Laurence and Temeraire having separate adventures in Japan. This is because prior to the beginning of this book, Laurence has been shipwrecked and separated from his friends. After some misadventures, Laurence and Temeraire finally rediscover one another; however, Laurence has lost his memory of his time as an aviator and does not know who Temeraire is. This memory loss causes Laurence to learn about all of his difficulties over the years all at one and then to have a conversation with Temeraire about his role in these misdeeds.

This book was like a breath of fresh air into the Temeraire series. Unlike most of the previous books that had dragon culture be at the forefront of each book and adventure/Napoleonic Wars just kind of happened, the adventure and Napoleonic Wars were the focus of the book. Although I find how difference cultures view dragons, this series is about the Napoleonic Wars, so I was excited for Temeraire and company to fight the French.

I must admit that I really like the interactions between Laurence with no memory with the other characters. I especially liked seeing how Laurence felt about all of his misadventures over the last several years without the influence of Temeraire's opinions (I feel like Laurence indulged Temeraire a bit much at times). I also enjoyed watching Laurence squirm when he thought a certain midshipman was related to him.

My one critique of the book was regarding how the book was put together. At times the book felt a bit choppy and seemed to jump quickly from one scene to another. I read an ARC; however, so this may have been cleaned up in the final edition. Also, the last 1/3-1/4 of the book felt like it should have been a separate book altogether. The book didn't end with its typical big battle scene and Laurence and the gang take off for a completely different locale. I wonder if Novik was told to finish up the series, and therefore was forced to condense an entire book into 100 pages.

Overall, this was a fun book. I cannot wait for the final installment of the Temeraire series.

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Wednesday Update!

Things have been quiet here in the new household. The last box got unpacked over the weekend, and all we have left to do is put up pictures. I am quite wacky when it comes to hanging pictures though. I want everything measured and centered. It drives my husband a bit crazy. A few weeks ago, we were with my mother and she mentioned hanging some pictures a few months earlier and how much time she spent measuring and centering the pictures. I immediately turned to my husband and said, "see! It isn't just me." :)

With our new apartment, my husband and I get free expanded cable. This means we get two of my favorite channels: HGTV and SyFy. A bonus is that they are right next to each other! I keep going between House Hunters and FaceOff. Hopefully, the love of more cable than I have had in years will slowly start to dissipate, because it is sucking the life out of me. How many shows can I watch about buying a home in one day?

I am mainly focused on reading Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novik right now, because the book came out on Tuesday. I should have a review for you soon. I would also like to note that I have read some other books recently, but they are ARCs and I am holding off on posting them until publication day. I am reading! Honest!

Fun! Randomness! Entertainment!

 Here is a cute picture of my kitty, because cuteness is a type of randomness. :)

Review: The Knitted Teddy Bear: Make Your Own Heirloom Toys, with Dozens of Patterns for Unique Clothing

The Knitted Teddy Bear: Make Your Own Heirloom Toys, with Dozens of Patterns for Unique Clothing
The Knitted Teddy Bear: Make Your Own Heirloom Toys, with Dozens of Patterns for Unique Clothing by Sandra Polley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was generously donated for review by Anova Books.

First Impression: Do you like to knit cute and fast toys? Well, this is the book for you. The bears are super cute and wear cute outfits! I also love the fact that the toys are small, so you can knit them up fast. Personally, I have little desire to knit a huge teddy bear, I would much prefer a cute and tiny bear that I can knit up in two days.

The Details: The Knitted Teddy Bear: Make Your Own Heirloom Toys, with Dozens of Patterns for Unique Clothing is filled with 18 bear patterns and lots of outfits for them to wear. My favorite is Catherine and her adorable lacy dress. She is super cute.

The patterns are very straightforward and list row by row what you are supposed to do. I much prefer this to books that state at the beginning "knit all odd rows," because I can keep track with a post-it note of where I am in the pattern. The book also goes into some explanation of some of the more complicated techniques that go along with knitting toys like attaching pieces together and making faces. Although Sandra Polley does an adequate job, I wish there were more diagrams.

I should also point out that gauge for the patterns is not listed. Although the author explains her reasoning, I generally prefer to have a gauge to get an idea of what I should be shooting for. If you are new to toys, keep in mind that your gauge should be tighter than usual, because you want the stuffing to stay inside the bear! Also, the yarn brands are not listed, but clues in the book suggest that Rowan yarns were used.

Final Impressions: The patterns looks super cute and straightforward. This book looks like a nice jumping off point for knitters new to knitting toys, because the patterns are fast. The book does not list yarn brands, so if you like your projects to look exactly like the pictures in the book, you have a bit of work to do.

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Sunday Update

Today was a very exciting day. The last box was unpacked! All we have left to do is hang mirrors and pictures. Thank goodness. I was beginning to feel like we were going to live with boxes forever. Our cat Lunabelle would have been totally okay with that though. Now that life is getting back to normal (thank goodness), reading will follow along at a faster pace. Eek. Now that I am writing this, I am noticing that Tuesday Blood of Tyrants comes out. I better get a move on with that ARC, so I can post my review ASAP.


Blood of Tyrants -- Because this is an ARC, I am keeping my thoughts on hold until I read the entire book.

Crucible of Gold -- 29% completed -- I get it that Temeraire is a young dragon and makes bad decisions some times, but jeez! Temeraire! He drives me crazy when he knows better and purposefully does the wrong thing.

Social Media Metrics for Dummies -- 24% completed -- I am really enjoying reading this book. The subject material isn't super exciting, but I am finding the book super helpful for improving my online presence.

Storm Riders -- 22% completed --  This book is on the back burner right now. :(

Fun! Entertainment! Randomness!

io9 just had a great article about women and comic books. Everyone should read it, including you! Check it out here.

One of my favorite games is Forbidden Island. It is a cooperative game that involves a bit of strategy and luck, and you can change the difficulty level without compromising game mechanics. The "sequel" just came out a few weeks ago. It is called Forbidden Desert, and it looks awesome. These games might not look like much at first, but Forbidden Island (and I am sure Forbidden Desert as well) is tons of fun and has great replay value.

Review: Tongues of Serpents

Tongues of Serpents (Temeraire, #6)Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Laurence and Temeraire are having even more crazy adventures in Tongues of Serpents. This time Laurence and Temeraire are in Australia, because they were exiled there after doing some naughty things in a previous book. Are their encounters fun and exciting? Yes. Are these adventures memorable? Not really. I enjoyed reading the book, but I cannot tell you all the specifics. As I get farther into the Temeraire series, I have noticed that the books focus more on how dragons are treated in different parts of the world than on Lawrence and Temeraire fighting in the Napoleonic Wars (which was what I expected after reading His Majesty's Dragon.

My first thought after reading this book was "poor Laurence." I feel that Laurence has grown as a character throughout the series and that is due to Temeraire. Temeraire forces Laurence to question some of his morals for the better sometimes. Other times, however, Temeraire doesn't think, and this gets Laurence into trouble. (view spoiler)[I felt so bad for Laurence at the end of this book, because it seemed like he just gave up. He has his lost money and his country, and he just doesn't want it back anymore. (hide spoiler)]

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Wednesday Update

I totally failed with the Sunday update, and I almost didn't complete this one. Unpacking has been a bit more exhausting than I thought it would be. Apparently, unpacking 111 boxes and moving around about 30 other items is no easy task. My husband and I just took a huge pile of cardboard and newspaper to the recycle bin. We built one 5x5 Expedit from Ikea yesterday, and we have another to build later this week. We love it, but it is a pain to build. There are 32 dowels. Each cube can hold 30 lbs, so if you are a reader, this piece of furniture is a great deal. It is only $199.


Because not too much is happening on the reading front, I am going to consolidate my updates into one paragraph. I started The Curse of Chalion for the Sword and Laser book club. I finished Tongues of Serpents, but I have yet to write my review. I started the next book in the series, but I am going to have to jump ahead to the latest book. I received the ARC, and I want to get my review out for publication day.

Fun! Entertainment! Random!

I love Forbidden Island. It is this cute (and cheap) game. The "sequel" Forbidden Desert is finally out. You should check these amazing games out!

Review: Cat Sense

Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your PetCat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet by John Bradshaw
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This ARC was generously donated by Basic Books Group.

Cat Sense is an all-encompassing book about the domestic cat. The first few chapters describe the history of cats and their domestication. John Bradshaw then discusses some of his research with the modern, domesticated cat. The final chapters discusses how cats are seen in contemporary society and some of his concerns about how cats are treated (i.e., spaying and neutering cats).

Let's discuss each of these sections in turn. I really enjoyed the chapters on the history of cats. It is something that is rarely discussed in history textbooks, and I found it quite interesting. The chapters on the authors experiments and observations of cats were intriguing; however, I wish he had provided more detail on the experiments themselves. It was frustrating not to have a full picture of the experimental procedures. I am a researchers by trade, so this concern may not be a problem for others. The last few chapters, especially the final chapter were intriguing to read, because he focused his discussion on some controversial ideas. Primarily, he discussed how he dislikes spaying and neutering, because it prevents certain genes from becoming dominant in the cat populations. Specifically, he notes that well-adjusted cats that like to be around humans get spayed and neutered by angry, feral cats that never get trapped (for TNR programs) continue to procreate. His ideas are definitely intriguing.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. I learned a lot about cats that I would not have learned elsewhere. The book is a bit dense at times, so I recommend reading it in doses. It also doesn't hurt that the book is not too long (< 400 pages). One concern I have about this book is that the author did not report all of his references. He stated that he only put some of the references in the notes section at the end of the book. I find this problematic, because the reader cannot go and check his sources. I understand that the everyday reader may not want all the references, but I think the reader should be able to fact check if interested. Hopefully, the author will list the references online at some point.

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Review: Ringworld

Ringworld by Larry Niven

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Thank goodness I am finished reading this book. It got a bit painful towards the end.

Ringworld is about a ragtag group of humans and aliens from the future who go on an adventure to Ringworld. One of the aliens (a puppeteer) recruits the alien and two humans for this expedition, because his race want to learn more about this mysterious planet. As luck would have it, they crash on the planet and need to figure out how to get off the planet.

Ringworld is not a book for people who like character development or plots that develop organically. This book is for people who enjoy books about "big, dumb objects" and want a plot and characters that work around this. The characters in Ringworld are one-dimensional and the plot is at times painfully contrived. For example, Teela Brown's entire existence is a square peg being forced into a round hole to make the plot work towards the end. The theories that are expounded in this book are interesting; however, I found my interest waning throughout the book. I only pushed on, because this book was for my book club (Sword & Laser). I should note, however, that theory books are not my cup of tea (e.g., [b:Blindsight|48484|Blindsight|Peter Watts||47428].

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