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Old 02-02-2017, 12:17 AM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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Khadaji's Whatcha Readin' thread -- February 2017 Edition

Last month's thread here.

Okay, I'll start this month's thread, because I'll be too busy to post for a few days and I want to get this post out.

Finished Palace of Treason, by Jason Matthews. Pretty good, a sequel to his Red Sparrow, but again with the inclusion of a recipe for a dish mentioned at the end of the last chapter. That's pretty annoying. In one chapter, he even mentioned the dirty water coming out of a fountain resembled some sort of ethnic soup just so he could give the recipe for that soup. That has to go. But Matthews is retired CIA and seems to know his stuff. A "sparrow" is a Russian agent and CIA mole trained in "sexpionage," and once again teaming up are Russian sparrow Dominika Egorova and the love of her life, her CIA handler. Dunno, but Matthews may be on a death list now for his portrayal of Putin as sexually impotent unless he's giving the order to have someone killed. And his term "palace of treason" is a reference to the Kremlin.

Next up is Far Eastern Tales, a collection of short stories by W. Somerset Maugham.

Khadaji was one of the earlier members of the SDMB, and he was well-known as a kindly person who always had something encouraging to say, particularly in the self-improvement threads. He was also a voracious, omnivorous reader, and he started these monthly book threads. Sadly, he passed away in January 2013, and we decided to rename these monthly threads in his honor.

Last edited by Siam Sam; 02-02-2017 at 12:19 AM..
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  #2  
Old 02-02-2017, 06:38 AM
DZedNConfused DZedNConfused is offline
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Thanks Sam!

ANYONE, feel free to PM me and thump me over the ears when I forget. Honestly with the current mess in the US, where I am, I've been spending more time away from social media. So I'm online, just not paying attention.

That said, I started The Science of Discworld yesterday. So far it's okay, the Wizard's story is funny, the science is a bit simple but interesting.

Last edited by DZedNConfused; 02-02-2017 at 06:39 AM..
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Old 02-02-2017, 08:34 AM
The wind of my soul The wind of my soul is offline
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I finished Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar. If you haven't heard of the Dyatlov Pass Incident, I recommend Googling it because it's a fascinating mystery. To briefly summarize, nine experienced hikers go up into the mountains, and something causes them to abandon their tent without even dressing themselves, and they die of hypothermia. The most obvious answer would be that an avalanche hit -- except that their tent and belongings remained upright and undisturbed, and the surroundings offered no evidence of any avalanche occuring. I would NOT, however, recommend this book, as entirely too much of the book is spent talking about the author's own life and experiences rather than the mystery or possible theories on the incident.

I'm most of the way through Carly's Voice: Breaking Through Autism by Arthur Fleischmann. I highly recommend this book; it's a fascinating story told by a talented writer. The premise is that the writer's daughter had autism and an oral motor condition that left her unable to speak, and she had no way of communicating until, at ten years old, she typed a sentence to her therapists, and they were able to pull her out of herself enough to communicate with the people around her. The story sounded incredible, but it became much more amazing when I actually read the book, and discovered just how severe her autism was: this girl was developmentally delayed in every way, from being able to sit up to being able to hold onto objects. Even at the age when she began typing, she would throw frequent tantrums, screaming and hitting herself, stripping her bed, flinging clothes out of her dresser and food out of the kitchen cabinets, she was unable to sleep through the night and would wake her parents up with her screaming, she would defecate her bed, and she had to have an aide with her at all times because she was unable to take care of herself. To read about such a profoundly disabled child blossom into a woman who is able to share beautiful, incredibly mature thoughts with the people around her is incredible.

Finally, I'm reading Burying the Honeysuckle Girls by Emily Carpenter. The premise is that a woman who's about to turn thirty has just been released from rehab, and her family tells her about how all the women in her family go crazy when they turn thirty. The book started out great, but as I'm getting more into it, I'm not liking it quite as much. I feel like there are too many characters/storylines, and it's hard to get sucked into the storyline or care about the characters when the book jumps around as much as it does. But I'm less than halfway through the book, so it may pick up again.
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Old 02-02-2017, 09:11 AM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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I hit pause on my Game of Thrones re-read and started The Covenant by James Michener.
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Old 02-02-2017, 10:31 AM
Dung Beetle Dung Beetle is offline
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I'm reading Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris, a novel about a saboteur in a Yorkshire boys' school. I'm embarrassed to say that it took me a while to realize that alternating chapters had different narrators. I realized the voice was quite different, but as they also jumped in time, I thought the narrator was contrasting the boy he was and the man he became... Anyway, when I skimmed back over, I do think the author could have done a better job delineating that. However, I am really liking this book. I originally picked it up because the sequel looked attractive and I'm hoping to get my hands on that soon. If it holds up, I will look for more by this author.
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Old 02-02-2017, 02:51 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is online now
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I picked up a copy of Before the Golden Age, the Isaac Asimov - edited volume of 1930s science fiction. I'd wanted to read it for some time, but it's been out of print for ages. I stumbled across a complete hardcover edition at Arisia. I've read perhaps a third of the stories elsewhere, but that still leaves plenty of stuff I haven't. I hadn't realized that there are extensive autobiographical notes between the stories, telling us what was going on in Asimov's life when the story first came out and he read it in the original magazines. It's like the Asimov bio 0.0, before In Memory Yet Green/In Joy Still Felt (version 1.0) and I. Asimov (2.0). Apparently The Early Asimov and Buy Jupiter continue the trend.


I also came across a copy of the 1998 printing of Jules Verne's Magellania, which I am reading on a hiatus from Asimov. I'm a big fan of Verne, and this book is a product of what I think of as the Third Verne Renaissance, in which books translated into English for the first time (as The Brothers Kip, or never before printed (Paris in the Twentieth Century or The Shipwrecked Family) or ones which have never been printed without the additions by his son Michel (such as The Meteor Hunt) have been printed for the first time and translated. This one falls into the last category. Michel Verne added 31 characters (!) and numerous chapters to Verne's bare-bones story, messing up the theme and making actions inconsistent. I'd never read this one before, in any form.

I finished Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes on audio, and am almost finished with Clive Cussler's latest "Fargo" story, pirate.
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Old 02-02-2017, 06:25 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is online now
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Still enjoying my audiobook of Robert Penn Warren's novel All the King's Men, and am about a third of the way through. Lots about bare-knuckled Southern politics in the Thirties, although right now there's a long but interesting tangent about a torrid antebellum love affair between an ancestor of the main character and a married woman.

I'm still about halfway through the graphic novel Before Watchmen: Minutemen / Silk Spectre by Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner, which is also pretty good.

I'm partway through Ted Chiang's Arrival, a short story collection, which includes "Story of Your Life," the inspiration for the recent sf alien-first-contact movie Arrival. One of the better stories (I won't say which one) is, you only realize partway through, a supervillain's origin story. Very clever.

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Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
...I finished Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes on audio....
Did you know there'll be a TV series?: http://www.hotpress.com/Brendan-Glee.../17305967.html. Can't go wrong with Brendan Gleeson.
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Old 02-02-2017, 07:15 PM
Ukulele Ike Ukulele Ike is offline
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Just finished a collection of short stories by Gerald Kersh. British/American dark fantasy author who died in 1968. Most famous story is "Men Without Bones."

People who love him REALLY love him; Harlan Ellison jizzes in his shorts in the introductory essay. I was, like, yeah, he's OKAY.

For February just started Italo Svevo's 1923 novel Zeno's Conscience.
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Old 02-02-2017, 07:35 PM
The Stainless Steel Rat The Stainless Steel Rat is online now
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About a third of the way through 1635: The wars for the Rhine by Anette Peterson. It's set in Eric Flint's "Ring of Fire" world, where a small W. Virginia town has gone back in time to 1631 Germany, and the ripples from that event. This is a stand-alone book and one of the few Flint is not co-author on. It ain't bad, but learning all the characters and keeping family relationships straight (fortunately, there is a list of all the characters in the back of the book). For faithful readers of the series, it's well worth the time, but for someone unfamiliar with Flint's world, not a good starting point (go read 1632, which can be found on-line at Baen Books).
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Old 02-03-2017, 12:13 PM
Misnomer Misnomer is online now
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On Sunday I finished Michael Connolly's The Brass Verdict, which is #2 in the Mickey Haller series and #14 in the Harry Bosch series. The next book in the Haller series is #16 in the Bosch series, so I decided to go ahead and read Bosch #15 first. Which means I am currently reading Nine Dragons.

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Originally Posted by Dung Beetle View Post
I'm reading Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris, a novel about a saboteur in a Yorkshire boys' school. I'm embarrassed to say that it took me a while to realize that alternating chapters had different narrators. I realized the voice was quite different, but as they also jumped in time, I thought the narrator was contrasting the boy he was and the man he became... Anyway, when I skimmed back over, I do think the author could have done a better job delineating that. However, I am really liking this book. I originally picked it up because the sequel looked attractive and I'm hoping to get my hands on that soon. If it holds up, I will look for more by this author.
That sounds interesting! I just had a sample chapter sent to my Kindle, and I look forward to checking it out...if I ever stop reading Mickey Haller/Harry Bosch/Johannes Cabal/Joe Dillard stories.
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Old 02-03-2017, 12:25 PM
DZedNConfused DZedNConfused is offline
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On Sunday I finished Michael Connolly's The Brass Verdict, which is #2 in the Mickey Haller series and #14 in the Harry Bosch series. The next book in the Haller series is #16 in the Bosch series, so I decided to go ahead and read Bosch #15 first. Which means I am currently reading Nine Dragons.
I like Nine Dragons a LOT! It was twisty and wild and the characters well done.
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Old 02-03-2017, 01:12 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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I started re-reading "Thank you, Jeeves!", the famous one where Bertie takes up the banjolele and taking a lease on a cottage in the country, leading to Jeeves sending in his papers.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten that it has a liberal use of the "n-word" in relation to the banjo, which is a jarring reminder of how casually the word was used back in the 20's.

I've put it aside for a while, but I will go back, if only to read the famous scene where Jeeves' replacement as Bertie's valet, the Marxist-Leninist Meadowes, returns from a toot, tries to disembowel Bertie as an example of the Propaganda of the Deed, and ends up burning down the cottage.

Like Anatole, one must take a few smooths with the rough, I suppose.
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Old 02-03-2017, 01:15 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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CalMeachem, the notes in [i]Before the Golden Age[/b] are fascinating! Yes, Asimov continues that practice in his later collections - Great fun!
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Old 02-03-2017, 05:09 PM
DZedNConfused DZedNConfused is offline
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I finished The Witch's Vacuum CLeaner and Other Stories by Terry Pratchett today.

A lovely compilation of some of Terry Pratchett's earlier works, they were written 1966 -1970 when he was a reporter. The stories are uncomplicated and clearly aimed to children but the humour is pure Pratchett gold and will make even an adult snicker.
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Old 02-04-2017, 04:47 PM
jtur88 jtur88 is online now
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Picked up Peter Carey's "The Chemistry of Tears" at the library, which I had thought I'd never read. Got home to see it on my books-read list, but strangely, with no notation of how I liked it. Now a quarter of the way through, it is only vaguely familiar, but I'm still liking it. Carey is an unpredictable author of unusual gift,

Last edited by jtur88; 02-04-2017 at 04:49 PM..
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Old 02-06-2017, 09:39 AM
Dung Beetle Dung Beetle is offline
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Gentlemen and Players

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Originally Posted by Misnomer View Post
That sounds interesting! I just had a sample chapter sent to my Kindle, and I look forward to checking it out...if I ever stop reading Mickey Haller/Harry Bosch/Johannes Cabal/Joe Dillard stories.
Oh good! I really liked it, even gave it the rare five stars at Goodreads. Starting today on the sequel, A Different Class.
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Old 02-06-2017, 12:28 PM
delphica delphica is online now
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Now I'm intrigued by Gentlemen and Players, I'll put it on my library list.

I picked up a memoir called The Clancys of Queens, by Tara Clancy. I caught an interview on NPR with the author, she sounded really nice. The memoir was fine although it felt like a mostly an "of local interest" thing.

Flying the Dragon by Natalie Dias Lorenzi is a middle reader -- it was one of those books where I thought it was okay, nothing too memorable, while I was reading it, but I think it was a better book upon reflection. Two cousins have to adjust to changing family dynamics when one family moves from Japan to the US. It's a sweet story and the writing is quietly impressive.
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Old 02-06-2017, 11:00 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is online now
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I'm now about halfway through All the King's Men, just finished Before Watchmen (OK, but not as good as the Dr. Manhattan issue), am taking a break from Arrival, and have just begun C.J. Sansom's Dominion, an alt-hist novel set in 1952 Nazi-occupied London. Pretty interesting so far.
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Old 02-07-2017, 04:21 AM
The Pork-Chop Express The Pork-Chop Express is offline
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The Keep, F. Paul Wilson (1981)

Nazis have to hold a rural keep in Romania, but something inhuman is killing them off one by one!

I think this probably influenced a lot of people, not least Guillermo del Toro.

The writing's very strong for a first novel. It wobbles now and again, and I think the treatment of the book's only female character (so far, and I'm about 80% in) is overly sexual; yeah, the scumbag Nazis are gonna treat her like an object, but even when she's on her own, the writing too readily turns to descriptions of her body.

Anyway!

It is good, otherwise, and the tensions between the ordinary German army officer and the SS officer feel realistic to me.

Would recommend, and it's part of a series!

Last edited by The Pork-Chop Express; 02-07-2017 at 04:22 AM..
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Old 02-07-2017, 04:37 AM
The Pork-Chop Express The Pork-Chop Express is offline
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Also, just finished the audiobook of Alan Partridge: Nomad. Ruddy great stuff. Not as ruddy great as I, Partridge, but ruddy great stuff nonetheless.
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Old 02-07-2017, 07:59 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is online now
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The Keep, F. Paul Wilson (1981)

...Would recommend, and it's part of a series!
I've read that twice, the second time just a year or two ago, and enjoyed it both times. It's a good mix of WWII and the supernatural. I've heard the rest of the series sucks, though, and haven't gone beyond the first book.
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Old 02-07-2017, 08:15 AM
jsgoddess jsgoddess is offline
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Still on my post-election comfort read kicks, so I'm reading a lot of cozy mysteries and romance novels.

I really need a cozy series to latch onto. I'm finishing my reread of Carolyn G Hart's Henrie O books, and I still have the Laurien Berenson Melanie Travis books that I find weirdly addictive. But I need another series and can't seem to find one in that sweet spot. Suggestions welcome, though I struggle to identify exactly what it is I'm looking for.

I saw on Goodreads that a romance I finished yesterday is part of a series. Since most of the time such series in romancelandia are launched from secondary characters in the original, I got really excited. Why? The only secondary female character in the book I just read (who wasn't the heroine's married mom) is trans.

I looked it up and yes, the next book stars that secondary character. I haven't read it yet, but I'm just delighted.
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Old 02-07-2017, 08:38 AM
stpauler stpauler is online now
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Finished:

Kate MacLeod's Mitwa I love books that really paint a picture of the world they inhabit and this one really did it for me. This goes a lot deeper than most dystopian Sci-Fi books and really gives a good sense of character and plot.

That's Not How You Wash a Squirrel by David Thorne was definitely hit and miss for me. When he is responding (allegedly) with other humans, he is really in his zone. Otherwise it's labored filler.

Currently reading:

999: New Stories Of Horror And Suspense I forget I have this anthology on my Kindle and in between books I'll go back to it and read another short story. The scariest part is the editing though. It really takes me out of the story when I see glaring typos.

The Familiar Vol. 4: Hades by Mark Z Danielewski. It arrives tonight from Amazon and is one of the few books I still read in paper form. This is part of a major work that makes A Song of Ice and Fire's tangled web seem elementary. There are supposed to be 27 volumes with 5 "seasons" and the season finale, volume 5, is coming out on Halloween 2017. I am ridiculously geeked out about this series.
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Old 02-07-2017, 12:56 PM
Jack Burden Jack Burden is offline
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Still enjoying my audiobook of Robert Penn Warren's novel All the King's Men, and am about a third of the way through. Lots about bare-knuckled Southern politics in the Thirties, although right now there's a long but interesting tangent about a torrid antebellum love affair between an ancestor of the main character and a married woman.
Love that book
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Old 02-07-2017, 01:02 PM
Jack Burden Jack Burden is offline
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Gaiman's Norse Mythology, just delivered and going far too quickly. Seems the central message is everyone loves Loki even when they hate what he does, and hates Loki even when they love what he does.
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Old 02-07-2017, 01:27 PM
DZedNConfused DZedNConfused is offline
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Still on my post-election comfort read kicks, so I'm reading a lot of cozy mysteries and romance novels.

I really need a cozy series to latch onto. I'm finishing my reread of Carolyn G Hart's Henrie O books, and I still have the Laurien Berenson Melanie Travis books that I find weirdly addictive. But I need another series and can't seem to find one in that sweet spot. Suggestions welcome, though I struggle to identify exactly what it is I'm looking for.
My favorite cozies are Charlotte MacLeod and Alisa Craig books.The down side is that they are older somight be harder to find. The Steampunk series"The Parasol Protectorate" Are kind of cozy too,likewise for Colleen Gleason's Stoker and Holmes books.
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Old 02-08-2017, 05:36 AM
hogarth hogarth is offline
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I finished reading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Part I, which I thought was delightfully warm and funny without being too saccharine. I was less excited by Part II which seemed like a pretty typical 19th century "should I or shouldn't I?" romance, with some additional preachiness and comments about how women should focus on being good wives and mothers.

Is Little Men any good? I read a plot synopsis and it didn't really grab me. And I have to admit that I really hate reading baby talk, like "I dess Dod does it when I's asleep" or "Me loves evvybody".
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Old 02-08-2017, 10:40 AM
BetsQ BetsQ is offline
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I recently finished Ann Patchett's Commonwealth. I haven't quite decided what to make of it yet. Anyone else have an opinion?

Next up, I'm about halfway through Love in Lowercase, about a bachelor whose life is upended by the appearance of a cat. Like jsgoddess, I've been looking for comfortable reads recently, and this seems to fit the bill.
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Old 02-08-2017, 12:33 PM
Finagle Finagle is online now
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Next up, I'm about halfway through Love in Lowercase, about a bachelor whose life is upended by the appearance of a cat.
Hmmm, I've clearly been adopting the wrong cats. This guy's cat changes his life; the only thing that my furry bastards have forced me to change is the litter box.
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Old 02-09-2017, 03:11 PM
jsgoddess jsgoddess is offline
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Last night, I finished Cynthia Voigt's Izzy, Willy Nilly. Terrible title, nice book about a teenage girl dealing with the aftermath of a terrible car accident. Voigt gets inside people's heads really really well.
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Old 02-09-2017, 03:16 PM
Left Hand of Dorkness Left Hand of Dorkness is offline
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I just finished A Taste of Honey, by Kai Ashante Wilson. He writes fantasy set in a vaguely Northern-African setting (in this book there's another culture that seems vaguely Roman, in addition to the locals). The book is a same-sex romance at its heart, and is beautifully written. If any of these genres appeal to you, consider it recommended!
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Old 02-09-2017, 07:48 PM
DZedNConfused DZedNConfused is offline
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I just finished A Taste of Honey, by Kai Ashante Wilson. He writes fantasy set in a vaguely Northern-African setting (in this book there's another culture that seems vaguely Roman, in addition to the locals). The book is a same-sex romance at its heart, and is beautifully written. If any of these genres appeal to you, consider it recommended!
I added it to my Goodreads queue.

I, too, finished an LBGTQ book, The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian. A short Regency romance with inventors and scallywags galore.
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Old 02-09-2017, 10:37 PM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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Finished Palace of Treason, by Jason Matthews. Pretty good, a sequel to his Red Sparrow, but again with the inclusion of a recipe for a dish mentioned at the end of the last chapter. That's pretty annoying. In one chapter, he even mentioned the dirty water coming out of a fountain resembled some sort of ethnic soup just so he could give the recipe for that soup. That has to go. But Matthews is retired CIA and seems to know his stuff. A "sparrow" is a Russian agent and CIA mole trained in "sexpionage," and once again teaming up are Russian sparrow Dominika Egorova and the love of her life, her CIA handler. Dunno, but Matthews may be on a death list now for his portrayal of Putin as sexually impotent unless he's giving the order to have someone killed. And his term "palace of treason" is a reference to the Kremlin.

Next up is Far Eastern Tales, a collection of short stories by W. Somerset Maugham.
One thing I forgot to mention about Palace of Treason is it has an interesting 2-1/2 page sentence describing a desperate fight from start to finish.

Meanwhile, I finished W. Somerset Maugham's book of short stories entitled Far Eastern Tales. I really love Maugham, he's one of my favorite early-20th-century writers -- hell, one of my favorite writers period. In Bangkok, the venerable old Oriental Hotel, which routinely ranks in the top five hotels in the world on just about everyone's list, has a whole Somerset Maugham wing in his honor. He stayed there in his travels, and there's a story that he showed up once suffering from malaria, and the German manager didn't want to let him in, because Mauagham was so sick that the manager was afraid he would die there and would not allow such a thing.

In the first short story in this volume, "Footprints in the Jungle," Maugham makes an observation that I have personally seen to be every bit as true today as it was 100 years ago when he wrote it:

" 'You know how many fellows when they come out East seem to stop growing.'

"I did indeed. One of the most disconcerting things to the traveller is to see stout, middle-aged gentlemen, with bald heads, speaking and acting like schoolboys. You might almost think that no idea has entered their heads since they first passed through the Suez Canal. Though married and the fathers of children, and perhaps in control of a large business, they continue to look upon life from the standpoint of the sixth form."


A recommended read along with all of his works. I've already detailed in the past how his The Razor's Edge quite literally changed my life by giving me the gumption to leave my shitkicking Texas hometown and get out into the world.

Next up will be The Greatest Generation, by Tom Brokaw.
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  #34  
Old 02-09-2017, 10:53 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is online now
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...Is Little Men any good? I read a plot synopsis and it didn't really grab me. And I have to admit that I really hate reading baby talk, like "I dess Dod does it when I's asleep" or "Me loves evvybody".
Never read it myself, but when Elmer Fudd appeared in a Warner Bros. cartoon reading it, I assumed it was a spoof of Little Women. It wasn't until many years later that I learned it was a real book!
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Old 02-10-2017, 09:12 PM
DZedNConfused DZedNConfused is offline
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I spent the day reading "The Soldier's Scoundrel" By Cat Sebastian, it's another Regency M/M romance. A decent mystery formed the main plot of the book, overall a fun read.
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  #36  
Old 02-16-2017, 07:53 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is online now
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On audio I'm reading Stacy Schiff's The Witches -- Salem 1692. I've read many books on the Salem witchcraft trials, but I swear that they all seem to make it seem like a completely different event than the others. I hadn't read a new one in a long time, and this was available on audio for my commute, so it seemed a good choice.

This one seems overall better-researched and takes a much longer view, giving detailed biographies of the characters and setting events in their historical contexts. This is something that earlier books by and large lacked. They might mention, for instance, the changeover in Massachusetts' charter shortly before, and the upheaval that went with it, or mentioned the threat of Indians, but they didn't mention that several of the girls had directly been victims of Indian raids. They didn't mention that George Burroughs, accused and finally hanged, had to be subpoenaed from all the way up in Maine -- he wasn't even living in Salem anymore (he had been, but earlier).


There's also a lot of jarringly modern comparisons -- she quotes Dumbledore at one point. My favorite line is her description of George Burroughs as "a very bad man, but a very good wizard."
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Old 02-16-2017, 10:09 AM
jtur88 jtur88 is online now
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Harland's Half Acre, by David Malouf. Basically turns out to be some short stories, with enough of a tenuous link to call it a novel, I guess. A bit of a Faulkner-esque writer, in my estimation. Odinarily, I shun short-story collections, if I'm going to make the investment to get into a story, I don't want to keep doing that over and over.
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  #38  
Old 02-16-2017, 10:52 AM
DZedNConfused DZedNConfused is offline
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Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
On audio I'm reading Stacy Schiff's The Witches -- Salem 1692. I've read many books on the Salem witchcraft trials, but I swear that they all seem to make it seem like a completely different event than the others. I hadn't read a new one in a long time, and this was available on audio for my commute, so it seemed a good choice.

This one seems overall better-researched and takes a much longer view, giving detailed biographies of the characters and setting events in their historical contexts. This is something that earlier books by and large lacked. They might mention, for instance, the changeover in Massachusetts' charter shortly before, and the upheaval that went with it, or mentioned the threat of Indians, but they didn't mention that several of the girls had directly been victims of Indian raids. They didn't mention that George Burroughs, accused and finally hanged, had to be subpoenaed from all the way up in Maine -- he wasn't even living in Salem anymore (he had been, but earlier).

Mary Beth Norton's book In the Devil's Snare deals extensively with the Indian Wars and the fact that several of the Salem girls had been in the middle of that mess. It's a slow, very dry book to read but well researched and interesting. (And Professor Norton emailed me back when I wrote to tell her how much I enjoyed it.)
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Old 02-16-2017, 10:59 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is online now
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Still enjoying my audiobook of Robert Penn Warren's novel All the King's Men, and am about a third of the way through. Lots about bare-knuckled Southern politics in the Thirties, although right now there's a long but interesting tangent about a torrid antebellum love affair between an ancestor of the main character and a married woman....
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Love that book
Ha! Great username/post combination.

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On audio I'm reading Stacy Schiff's The Witches -- Salem 1692....
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Mary Beth Norton's book In the Devil's Snare deals extensively with the Indian Wars and the fact that several of the Salem girls had been in the middle of that mess....
Does either book refer to the theory (cutting-edge when I was in high school) that ergot poisoning of local food might have led to the girls' hallucinations?
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Old 02-16-2017, 11:09 AM
DZedNConfused DZedNConfused is offline
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Professor Norton does adress it, but she dismisses it. I don't remember her reasoning, it's been several years since I read it, but it was a plausible dismissal. Her major theory is PTSD and that the women never meant the crazy to go so far but they were powerless to stop it once the men started running with it.
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  #41  
Old 02-16-2017, 01:32 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is online now
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Ha! Great username/post combination.



Does either book refer to the theory (cutting-edge when I was in high school) that ergot poisoning of local food might have led to the girls' hallucinations?
Schiff alludes to it in the foreword. If she discusses it in detail, it'll be later on. You're referring to the idea that hallucinatory ergotism contributed to the hysteria. This would've been caused by fungus growing on the rye. Ergot can produce a substance similar to LSD, and can produce hallucinations.




Before one dismisses the idea out of hand, an incident of hallucinatory ergotism DID take place in France in the 20th century, in 1951

http://www.thepoisonreview.com/2010/12/05/2114/

...so the idea isn't far-fetched. And people definitely did report witnessing things that certainly weren't everyday occurrences, and sure as heck sound like hallucinations.

On the other hand, there were plenty of other pressures on the inhabitants of Salen Village, and it's not clear that they needed an actual hallucinogen to produce such visions. I feel that ergotism alone also can't explain everything that took place.


so, at most, it was a contributing factor, but not the decisive one.
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Old 02-16-2017, 02:18 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is online now
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Thanks to you both.
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  #43  
Old 02-16-2017, 07:01 PM
DZedNConfused DZedNConfused is offline
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I finished Barking by Tom Holt. The book is a rather interesting and unconventional take on werewolves, vampires and unicorns, but the first two-thirds is rather bland and terribly whiny. The last 100-150 pages were the best part of the book.
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Old 02-17-2017, 12:48 AM
movingfinger movingfinger is offline
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I just finished Lucifer's Tears by James Thompson, the second in his series about Helsinki murder squad detective Kari Vaara and I thought it was excellent

Having lived for a while in Finland and still retaining a fading grasp of the language, I felt more at home than I have with other "Scandinavian Noir" detectives from Sweden or Norway.

Sadly, Thompson died suddenly in 2014 and left about six books including this one and his first book, Snow Angels.
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Old 02-17-2017, 07:58 AM
jsgoddess jsgoddess is offline
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I'm doing a Newbery award winners read, which has been a lot of fun so far.


Finished in February:

Raining Cats & Dogs, by Laurien Berenson. Twelfth in a long series of cozies. Definitely not a place to start this series because the mystery is not very compelling, but I enjoy the characters for some reason.

Jacob Have I Loved, by Katherine Paterson. Not a cheerful book. The protagonist needs slapped.

Cress, by Marissa Meyer. The third book in The Lunar Chronicles, a YA sf series with fairy tale underpinnings. I thought it was the end but it isn't, and that irritated me.

Criss Cross, by Lynne Rae Perkins. Another Newbery winner. I thought this was spectacular.

Thimble Summer, by Elizabeth Enright. A pleasant YA read, but not much more.

Palace of Spies, by Sarah Zettel. A young woman is sent to the Hanoverian court to spy. This was a profoundly silly book, but I breezed through it and enjoyed it more than I should have. Turn off your brain before venturing here!

Foul Play at the Fair, by Shelley Freydont. First in a cozy series. I've been reading another series by Freydont set in Newport in the Gilded Age. Those are better than this one, though Freydont is talented enough that I'll likely keep reading.

Izzy, Willy-Nilly, Cynthia Voigt. I may have already mentioned this one. Voigt is one of the very best at getting inside the head of teens.

The Affair of the Blood-Stained Egg Cosy, by James Anderson. A near parody of English country house murder mysteries. Very entertaining.

Fire Logic, by Laurie J Marks. DNF this fantasy with a protagonist that never clicked for me.

Maisie Dobbs, by Jacqueline Winspear. My second attempt at this series. Not good. The Mary Sueiest Mary Sue. Gah.

Resort to Murder, by Carolyn Hart. I love this series. My reread is almost over. Boo.

Fortune Like the Moon, by Alys Clare. I had read another book by Clare that was not good, so this was a nice surprise. A medieval cozy.
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Old 02-17-2017, 09:17 AM
Dung Beetle Dung Beetle is offline
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I ran out of library books this week. Usually what I do in this case is a re-read of something by Stephen King that I didn't like on the first go-round, so I picked up Lisey's Story but couldn't bring myself to actually open it.

So I amended the rule to be a re-read of something I did like first time round, but haven't read often. I'm a big fan of Mr. King, but truthfully, I read the early stuff obsessively and most of the later stuff just once. So this time I picked up Full Dark, No Stars and read the first novella, 1922. It was wonderfully written, but so, so gory and sad. All the bad things happen in this story...well, except rape. I can promise you nobody got raped. Anyway, check it out if you're feeling really happy and stable. It ought to settle your hash.
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  #47  
Old 02-17-2017, 10:28 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is online now
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Originally Posted by Dung Beetle View Post
I ran out of library books this week. Usually what I do in this case is a re-read of something by Stephen King that I didn't like on the first go-round, so I picked up Lisey's Story but couldn't bring myself to actually open it.

So I amended the rule to be a re-read of something I did like first time round, but haven't read often. I'm a big fan of Mr. King, but truthfully, I read the early stuff obsessively and most of the later stuff just once. So this time I picked up Full Dark, No Stars and read the first novella, 1922. It was wonderfully written, but so, so gory and sad. All the bad things happen in this story...well, except rape. I can promise you nobody got raped. Anyway, check it out if you're feeling really happy and stable. It ought to settle your hash.
I "read" it on audio a couple of months back. Depressing, like all the stories in the collection (there's rape in one of the others), but very well-written.
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  #48  
Old 02-17-2017, 11:10 AM
koeeoaddi koeeoaddi is offline
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I just abandonned Carrie Fisher's Princess Diarist about two thirds of way through. I liked her other books and, had she not recently died, might have finished this one. But in light of her death -- and despite her charmng, self depricating humor -- this one just struck me as terribly sad.
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  #49  
Old 02-17-2017, 02:43 PM
Dendarii Dame Dendarii Dame is offline
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I really need a cozy series to latch onto. I'm finishing my reread of Carolyn G Hart's Henrie O books, and I still have the Laurien Berenson Melanie Travis books that I find weirdly addictive. But I need another series and can't seem to find one in that sweet spot. Suggestions welcome, though I struggle to identify exactly what it is I'm looking for.
If you enjoy the Melanie Travis books I recommend Susan Conant's mysteries about Holly Winter and her malamutes.

I recently finished At Home by Bill Bryson and it's terrific. It's got lots of great unknown stories about people who've influenced our daily lives that I've never heard of, or didn't know how much they did. For example, you know how supposedly the first thing Alexander Graham Bell said on the telephone was "Mr. Watson, come here. I need you"? Well, guess what else Mr. Watson did that was significant? He invented the telephone's ring.

Right now I'm reading a Newbery winner I tried to finish years ago and couldn't, called Crispin: The Cross of Lead, by Avi. I don't like it any better this time. It reads like the author decided to do a mash-up of Johnny Tremain and The Midwife's Apprentice (both far superior Newbery winners, IMHO) to get a medal himself.

Also reading Robert B. Parker's Slow Burn: A Spenser Novel, by Ace Atkins. It's fun, and at least as good as Parker's later Spenser novels.
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Old 02-17-2017, 02:47 PM
Dendarii Dame Dendarii Dame is offline
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Is Little Men any good? I read a plot synopsis and it didn't really grab me. And I have to admit that I really hate reading baby talk, like "I dess Dod does it when I's asleep" or "Me loves evvybody".
I enjoyed Little Men, although it's not as good as Little Women. (The author needed money and wrote it in six weeks or less, I read somewhere.) The "baby talk" is only used by one character, Amy's young daughter, who appears briefly. Meg's twins who used baby talk in Little Women are older in this book. The book is more episodic, and there are fun parts like the girls learning to cook in a miniature kitchen.
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