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Old 11-30-2010, 03:36 PM
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Whatcha Readin' Dec 2010 Edition


First and foremost: Tomorrow is my birthday, send cards! I will be 49 - how bad will 50 be?

Well the holiday season is here - I will get tons of books. Anyone who doesn't know what to get me, gets me a book gift certificate. I love it!

I am reading The Spirit Eater (The Legend of Eli Monpress) the last in the legend of Eli Monpress (I think.)

It just came in yesterday and so I have no idea yet how good it is.

November's thread.
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Old 11-30-2010, 09:53 PM
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Happy Birthday! Don't be surprised when parts start falling off in your 50s.

Closing in on the end of Aztec, by Gary Jennings. About 85% through. Expect to finish it within a week.
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Old 11-30-2010, 10:52 PM
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And still enjoying it, I hope!
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Old 11-30-2010, 10:56 PM
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Yes, I like it lots. I can see where it may not be everyone's cup of tea, though. It may help that I've studied the Aztecs formally and visited a pyramid or two in Mexico City and so am already a bit familiar with their brutality. "Peaceful natives" my eye!

I plan to check out Jennings' The Journeyer later this month.
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Old 12-02-2010, 09:29 AM
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Yes, I like it lots. I can see where it may not be everyone's cup of tea, though. It may help that I've studied the Aztecs formally and visited a pyramid or two in Mexico City and so am already a bit familiar with their brutality. "Peaceful natives" my eye!

I plan to check out Jennings' The Journeyer later this month.
I am just finishing up The Journeyer, and did enjoy it. I will say that it is a bit more graphic than Aztec.

Jennings books are very entertaining. For me, they are a very good mix of "real" history, very colorful characters, and smut.

I noticed that some of the reviews of Jennings books, Journeyer, in particular, were critical of him including hetro and/or homosexual scenes in these books. I tend not to agree. I think that these scenes help create a level of realism and help the reader develop a better sense of what it was like to live back then.
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Old 12-01-2010, 01:37 AM
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Just finished the fourth book in the new Nicholas Flamel books. I strongly recommend them if you like books about magic and fantasy.
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Old 12-01-2010, 08:47 AM
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Just finished the fourth book in the new Nicholas Flamel books. I strongly recommend them if you like books about magic and fantasy.
You know, I started them like gangbusters, but my interest has waned. I'm not sure why exactly. No doubt I'll get back to it eventually.
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Old 12-01-2010, 08:17 AM
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I'm just finishing up Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann on audiobook. Very beautiful, accented voice and the sheep are hilarious and so sheep-like. I just got done with NanoWriMo so I need to get a Kindle read picked out but have been downloading some samples with nothing really grabbing me yet. Next audiobook in line when I finish TBF is The Prestige by Christopher Priest.

Last edited by twickster; 12-09-2010 at 07:04 AM. Reason: fixed coding
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Old 12-01-2010, 08:30 AM
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I'm reading Better: A surgeon's notes on performance by Atul Gawande. It's a fantastic book that mixes case histories, personal anecdotes, and history of the medicine, to discuss the state of his profession.
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Old 12-01-2010, 08:49 AM
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I'm reading John Dies at the End. Pretty good, with gross and absurd imagery and some wonderful turns of phrase, but halfway through I don't really know where it's going. It's less plot-driven, more clever-driven. I like it, though- just hope it becomes more... something.
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Old 12-10-2010, 10:10 AM
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I'm reading John Dies at the End. Pretty good, with gross and absurd imagery and some wonderful turns of phrase, but halfway through I don't really know where it's going. It's less plot-driven, more clever-driven. I like it, though- just hope it becomes more... something.
I read that a few months ago and really enjoyed it. It was delightfully gross and made me guffaw several times. Not a bad catch for one of those Borders buy-one-get-one-50%-off deals.

I am also about 2/3 of the way through Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Over the last few years I had several false starts with this book, and I guess finally it just clicked. There are some rather twee narrative things going on throughout (such as "surprized," "chuse" and others). but I'm really enjoying the story and can't wait to see how things end up.

One of the highlights of last month's reading was China Mieville's Kraken, which I picked up on someone's recommendation in a previous thread. Many, many thanks to those who thought to mention it here. I loved it, and am looking forward to reading more of Mieville's work.
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:32 AM
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Just started the fourth Charlie Chan novel, The Black Camel. They're like noir-detective crack, those books are. After I finished the second, I told myself I'd read something else before starting another, just to space them out (there are 6 in total), but I ended up jumping straight into #3 and then straight from #3 to #4.
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Old 12-02-2010, 05:58 AM
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Just finished 'Against all things ending' (book 3 of The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant) and sadly I have nothing downloaded onto my kindle yet

Slight hijack - I read the first few 'Wheel of Time' books but stopped due to the hiatus that occurred for them to be published. While I enjoyed the first 6 ones, do you guys think I should re-start the series? I'm aware of all the usual criticism but am juts wondering if this series jumped the shark somewhere or not
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Old 12-02-2010, 08:22 AM
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I just finished the audiobook of Christopher Moore's A Dirty Job. A reread for me, but first time on audiobook. The narrator is nothing special, but the book is so good. Moore's one of my favorite contemporary authors.

I'm in the middle of City of Glory, by Beverly Swerling. It takes place in New York during the war of 1812. It seems like Swerling took a casual approach to her historical research, but makes up for it with plenty of high melodrama and intrigue. There's so much going on, it's hard to put this book down to go to bed at night. I would recommend this for anyone who likes Philipa Gregory and wants to branch out into a new time period.

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Old 12-02-2010, 09:58 AM
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I've been trying to read "Rothstein: The Life, Times, and Murder of the Criminal Genius Who Fixed the 1919 World Series". Trying to keep straight all the crooked lawyers, gamblers, and politicians. When I came across this , I almost just gave it up:

Katcher didn't footnote, didn't cite sources, so his allegation is difficult- if not impossible- to verify. But it may indeed be true.

WTF?
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Old 12-02-2010, 10:40 AM
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Just finished Declaration: The Nine Tumultuous Weeks When America Became Independent, May 1-July 4, 1776 by William Hogeland, which was good if more narrow than I had hoped, and started Into the Storm by Taylor Anderson, a SF novel which I started before but didn't finish.
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Old 12-03-2010, 08:59 PM
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Just read Knights by Julek Heller and Deirdre Headon, which is a well-illustrated but not too historically accurate book on knights in armor, the Crusades, heraldry, siege warfare, etc.
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Old 12-04-2010, 07:18 AM
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Finished The Spirit Eater the third in the series of the Legend of Eli Monpress. I enjoyed it - although the first is still the best of the series. I had stated that I thought this was the last, but I was wrong, more are coming.
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Old 12-07-2010, 07:36 AM
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Happy belated birthday, Khadaji!

Well, so far in the month of December I have read almost nothing and Iím starting to get mean! Iím going to have to give my current Bill Bryson back to the library because people with time to read are waiting for it.

So I picked up a less overdue book from the pile: Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with Americaís Cheapest Family, by Steve and Annette Economides. Itís been all fluffy pep talk so far.

I also cast an eye over The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey, which my fourteen year old son asked me to get him from the library. I read it when I was a teen and promptly forgot what it said. Suffice it to say that now I remember why I forgot.
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Old 12-07-2010, 07:53 AM
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I just started The Prestige on audiobook. I love the movie and so far am really enjoying the book as well but it is a different experience than it would have been before I knew the twist. Still, I'm about an hour into it and it's pretty great regardless.
I didn't know there would be a modern component so that part is like reading a new to me novel at least.
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Old 12-07-2010, 07:59 AM
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A Curtain Falls, a detective novel set in 1906 New York. Stefanie Pintoff's debut In the Shadow of Gotham was Edgar-nominated, and I'm enjoying this one too.

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Old 12-07-2010, 08:56 AM
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I'm reading Locke & Key, a creepy graphic novel set in Lovecraft, Mass. and written by Joe Hill, Stephen King's son. I also just started Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which a friend insisted I'd love. So far so good for both.
  #23  
Old 12-08-2010, 08:37 PM
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Finished Aztec, by Gary Jennings. Enjoyed it to the end. Almost made me feel sorry for the Aztecs. Liked the ironic ending. I will definitely check out Jennings' The Journeyer on my next trip to the library.

But first, I'm going to give Henry James another whirl. Today or tomorrow, I'll start The Wings of the Dove. Hope I like it better than his The Ambassadors. At least I've seen the 1997 film with Helena Bonham Carter.
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Old 12-08-2010, 09:49 PM
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I've begun Godel, Escher, Bach, something I've been meaning to read for a long time. Reading I am a Strange Loop first helped.

I'm also starting The City and the City by China Mieville. looks good so far, but I'm only a few pages in.

I just finished Glory Season by David Brin. Very interesting take on a matriarchal society, and a ripping yarn as well.
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Old 12-09-2010, 08:20 AM
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Finished the 5th Charlie Chan book, Charlie Chan Carries On, and am now taking the much-denied break before reading the last one.

Moving on to Soon I Will Be Invincible based on recommendations here.
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Old 12-09-2010, 10:01 AM
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I'm reading Falls the Shadow, by Sharon Kay Penman, the second in a series (the first was Here Be Dragons of historical fiction dealing with the royal families of Medieval Wales and England.

Very engaging and, I think, has at least the feel of historical accuracy.


SPOILER:
The major theme here is that, due to the centrality of the marriage alliance in this time, all of the antagonists are very closely related to each other - the first book, centred on the wife of the prince of Wales, whose father was the King of England, was all about how this woman gets torn between the two of them (and has to come grudgingly to realize her beloved father, who took her in and accepted her in spite of her illigitimacy when her maternal family utterly rejected her, is in fact a sort of monster).


While the plots often centre on stong women, does not fall into the trap of imputing modern attitudes to such matters as the relationship between the sexes to medieval characters. You have Elanore of Aquitane, not a medieval Gloria Steinem ...

SPOILER:
conflict is driven by attitudes that at least appear sensibly location-sensitive (for example, a major plot point turns on the antagonism created among the Welsh princely families by the fact that, under Welsh rules, being illigitimate was no bar to inheritence and succession and all brothers, at least in theory, were supposed to inherit equally - leading to fraticidial conflicts being a common feature of their lives).
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Old 12-13-2010, 11:04 AM
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I'm reading Falls the Shadow, by Sharon Kay Penman, the second in a series (the first was Here Be Dragons of historical fiction dealing with the royal families of Medieval Wales and England.

Very engaging and, I think, has at least the feel of historical accuracy.
I love Penman. She's working on a book now about Richard the Lionheart, picking up his story after the death of Henry II in her novel Devil's Brood.


It's been a slightly disappointing reading week. My latest Inspector Lynley mystery, A Traitor to Memory, was subpar. I read Blood Oath, by Christopher Farnsworth, and while the vampire was kind of interesting, I didn't care for the writing at all. I've started Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island, and it's cute enough, but this is my first Bryson and I'm finding it very putdownable.

However, I did like the second book in Ruth Downie's new mysery series set in Roman Britain, called Terra Incognita. These aren't quite as good as Lindsey Davis's Falco books, but I'm enjoying them.
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Old 12-13-2010, 01:49 PM
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I love Penman. She's working on a book now about Richard the Lionheart, picking up his story after the death of Henry II in her novel Devil's Brood.
I'm thinking either The Devil's Brood or The Sunne in Splendor next. Do you have any preference?
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Old 12-13-2010, 02:11 PM
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I'm thinking either The Devil's Brood or The Sunne in Splendor next. Do you have any preference?
They're both good, but obviously I'm partial to the books about Henry & Eleanor. Devil's Brood is the third book in the trilogy, so I wouldn't read that one without having read the previous two books: When Christ and His Saints Slept (which begins with the sinking of the White Ship and covers the resulting civil war between Stephen and Maud) and Time and Chance.

The Sunne in Splendour is a standalone book, Penman's first novel. Penman is firmly in the camp that believes Richard III to be innocent of the murders of his nephews.
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Old 12-26-2010, 12:18 AM
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A Heinlein Trio, by...Heinlein!

I've never read much Heinlein before and I just finished The Puppetmasters. Oooh, mind-controlling slugs from outer space! Blech!

Great story!
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Old 12-27-2010, 10:50 PM
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Your top ten books of the year?: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=590736
  #32  
Old 12-28-2010, 01:04 PM
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I just finished a collection of "humorous" advice given by comedians in The Believer's You're Horrible, But I Like You. It's either a really short read or I tried to get through it as fast as possible. The comedy was too hard without a "straight man". The advice questions sought tried to be wacky and it's hard to give funny advice to wacky questions. It smacks of overkill. There were a couple bright spots, the following exchange was one of my favorites.
Quote:
Dear Lizz:
What happens when you throw a green rock into the Red Sea?
Esther
Decatur, IN

Dear Esther:
Like all rock throwing in the region, it will be greated with Israeli rocket fire and sanctions.
Lizz (Winstead)
Unfortunately, the clunkers were too many to enjoy the occasional gems.


I just started Paul Mooney's Black is the New White. And on deck is Schrodinger's Cat Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson.
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Old 12-30-2010, 09:08 AM
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Just read JFK Day by Day by Terry Golway and Les Krantz, a well-illustrated chronological history of the Kennedy Administration. A bit superficial, a few minor factual errors, but pretty interesting overall.
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:49 AM
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Just finished reading a TERRIBLE book I found on a way back bookshelf. It's some sort of 70s smut. I don't even think it had an author. TERRIBLE. It had no sex appeal whatsoever. BOO!

Let's see, also in December I've read Doppelganger, by Marie Brennan (started strong but the pacing seemed weird) and Valor's Choice, by Tanya Huff (military sf isn't my cup of tea, but this worked well for me).

Currently reading The Soprano Sorceress, by LE Modesitt, Wolfsbane, by Patricia Briggs, Queen in Danger, by Adam Hall, and The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan.

On hold at the library are Thicker Than Water, by Mike Carey, and The Summer Tree, by Guy Gavriel Kay.
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Old 12-18-2010, 02:34 PM
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Finished The Soprano Sorceress, by LE Modesitt. I didn't like the main character and her massive anti-man chip on her shoulder.

Also finished Wolfsbane, by Patricia Briggs. Kind of slight, but enjoyable.

The Summer Tree, by Guy Gavriel Kay will be my next read. Also Godel, Escher, Bach is on queue.
  #36  
Old 12-20-2010, 09:46 AM
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I've just finished Christopher Brookmyre's novel Be My Enemy, or Fuck This for a Game of Soldiers. It was crazy and hilarious, as usual. Brookmyre is a brilliant writer. This is his fourth novel with the same protagonist, set in modern-day Scotland, but I think all of the books would stand well on their own.

Over the weekend I read Christopher Moore's The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror. I enjoyed it very much, and now I want to go and read all of his other books set in Pine Cove.

I got out my O. Henry story collection the other day and read "The Gift of the Magi" to the kids. (Also "The Ransom of Red Chief", while we had the book out.)
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Old 12-20-2010, 10:32 AM
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...I got out my O. Henry story collection the other day and read "The Gift of the Magi" to the kids. (Also "The Ransom of Red Chief", while we had the book out.)
I like to reread Conan Doyle's 1892 "The Blue Carbuncle," set at Christmas time. A good Holmes & Watson mystery for the season.
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Old 12-23-2010, 07:39 PM
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I've just finished Christopher Brookmyre's novel Be My Enemy, or Fuck This for a Game of Soldiers. It was crazy and hilarious, as usual. Brookmyre is a brilliant writer. This is his fourth novel with the same protagonist, set in modern-day Scotland, but I think all of the books would stand well on their own.
The only Brookmyre I've read so far is his first, Quite Ugly One Morning. It was excellent, though I think Brookmyre's strengths were more in dialogue and characterization as opposed to plotting. Good to hear the others are equally good--I'll be sure to put them on The List.

As for me, I just finished Todd Balf's Darkest Jungle, a non-fiction book about a failed American expedition to discover an Atlantic-to-Pacific canal route in Central America's Darien Peninsula. It was good, but I came away thinking the entire expedition was poorly conceived, poorly planned, and poorly executed, so it was hard to feel any sympathy for the book's main character, the expedition leader (even though his story is certainly tragic).

Moving on to the 6th and last Charlie Chan book, The Keeper of the Keys.
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Old 12-09-2010, 11:31 PM
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I'm about a hundred pages into Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell, which reads somewhat like if Jane Austen wrote a Harry Potter book. So far it's great!
  #40  
Old 12-10-2010, 08:53 AM
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I'm almost halfway through Soon I Will Be Invincible and, while I like it overall, I can't help thinking it needed a better editor.

For example, I just finished a section where Doctor Impossible flashes back to his college years. When he discusses taking his GRE, he's "startled at how young all the seniors looked," then, one page later, he describes mingling with other graduate students, saying he was "shocked at young they seemed." And the author repeats himself like that a lot. It's annoying, and after the first few times, it started to pull me out of the story.

Also, it appears to be headed for an obvous ending. I hope it'll surprise me at the end, but right now, it seems fairly predictable.

Those nitpicks aside, it's a fun read. I'll probably finish it over the weekend.
  #41  
Old 12-10-2010, 09:26 AM
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I both love and hate these threads, for the same reason: I always find lots of new books to buy.

Right now I'm reading two titles, the first via Kindle and the other the old-fashioned way:
  • What The Dog Saw, by Malcolm Gladwell. I like Gladwell ok, but have found that I prefer to take breaks between his books; therefore, I'm catching up on him gradually.
  • Grimm Pictures: Fairy Tale Archetypes in Eight Horror and Suspense Films, by Walter Rankin. I confess that I am friends with the author, which is how I learned about the book and is part of the reason why I bought it, but it's also a topic that genuinely interests me (in grad school I took a folklore class that touched heavily on fairy tales). Thankfully I am finding the book to be thought-provoking and well-written, so I won't have to lie to my friend when I tell him I liked it.
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I'm reading Better: A surgeon's notes on performance by Atul Gawande. It's a fantastic book that mixes case histories, personal anecdotes, and history of the medicine, to discuss the state of his profession.
That sounded very interesting, and when I looked it up on Amazon I saw that he published a book in 2003 called Complications. Have you read it? If so, did you like it just as much?

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Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir View Post
I'm reading Locke & Key, a creepy graphic novel set in Lovecraft, Mass. and written by Joe Hill, Stephen King's son.
Have you read Heart-Shaped Box? I liked it more than I thought I would. I'm not into graphic novels so I probably won't check out Locke & Key, but your post prompted me to see if he had any other novels and now I have added Horns to my wishlist.
  #42  
Old 12-10-2010, 01:58 PM
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Have you read Heart-Shaped Box? I liked it more than I thought I would. I'm not into graphic novels so I probably won't check out Locke & Key, but your post prompted me to see if he had any other novels and now I have added Horns to my wishlist.
Horns is pretty good, but the flashbacks add a lot of bloat to what would otherwise be a pretty fantastic novella. And there's a few "twists" that are so telegraphed you'll think they were sent by Samuel Morse.

Still worth a read though, Joe Hill is one of my new go-to authors.
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Old 12-10-2010, 03:28 PM
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Tempost Tost, the first book in Robertson Davies' Salterton Trilogy, and it's delicious.

Also finished 1922, the first novella in Stephen King's new collection. Is there a term for good writing/stupid plotting? Because it's well-written -- no bloat and none of King's annoying quirks (except for clumsy foreshadowing) -- but it just didn't make sense to me that
SPOILER:
Wilf would involve his teenage son in the murder. He told the kid that he was needed, but he really wasn't. Did Wilf just need someone to share the guilt? Was he too spineless to do it on his own? Did he think the kid would encourage him if he faltered? It wasn't necessary for the subplot of Hank running away with Shannon -- that could have happened anyway. It did serve the purpose of showing Wilf to be a really horrible person. Who gets their kid to help kill his mother?
  #44  
Old 12-10-2010, 09:17 AM
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"Me" by Ricky Martin. Bleh. A very high-minded and philisophical auto-bio of the "..and then I (made this album, was in this play, went on tour), and then I (repeat)". It reads like it was translated from another language, which may be true, being a little ... stilted? Anyway, he sounds like a nice person. But it's not very emotional/informative/rivetting.
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Old 12-10-2010, 09:58 AM
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Heart-Shaped Box has been on my to-read list almost since it came out and got great reviews. Someday I hope to get to it.
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Old 12-10-2010, 10:37 AM
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I hear you, but one reader's "rather twee" is another reader's "authentic Regency style."
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Old 12-10-2010, 01:51 PM
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I too liked Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. It’s one of those books I’d describe as being more about the journey than the destination, so I’m glad y'all are enjoying the experience!

Interlibrary loan request placed for Grimm Pictures: Fairy Tale Archetypes in Eight Horror and Suspense Films. That does sound good!
  #48  
Old 12-11-2010, 02:53 AM
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I just finished "The Big Short" by Michael Lewis. I really enjoyed it. Very informative, but also a strong narrative.

Next up is "The Botany of Desire" by Michael Pollan. I loved "The Omnivore's Dilemma," so I am really looking forward to it. Actually, that is one of my all-time favorites, so I hope not to be too disappointed.

I have a huge stack of library books next to my bed and it includes "Full Dark, No Stars." That will probably follow the Pollan.

In last month's thread I mentioned starting "The Interrogative Mood" by Padgett Powell. It is book of nothing but questions styled like a novel. I wondered if it would get annoying. It did, but it is interesting enough to finish, maybe after I finish this huge stack of library books. I have two more waiting to be picked up, too. So much reading to do, so little time.
  #49  
Old 12-11-2010, 12:23 PM
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Finished The Black Nile, a book about the author's trip down said river a year or so ago. Now reading Mawson's Will, the true story about Antarctic exploration, survival and death.
  #50  
Old 12-11-2010, 05:05 PM
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Finally getting going on The Evolutionary Void, the last of the space opera trilogy by Peter F Hamilton. I've really, really enjoyed this series so far.

Last edited by FoieGrasIsEvil; 12-11-2010 at 05:06 PM.
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