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Old 09-02-2008, 10:05 AM
Khadaji is offline
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Whatcha reading Sept. (08) edition


OK guys, welcome back. As always, here is the September thread and here is a link to the old thread. Link (warning, when the DNS is propagated I guess this will break.)

I am in the middle of The Mysterious Benedict Society . It has promise, although right now it is dragging a little. The start was strong though and I think it will pan out. It is targeted at the youth and has a "Harry Potter" feel to it (for me.) Don't get me wrong, there is no magic in it (let me stress this, there is NO MAGIC) in it, it just has a similar "feel" to it.

It starts with a gifted child in an orphanage who stumbles across an advert looking for gifted children. He goes through a series of tests and ends up on a team of gifted children, recruited to help save the world.

This is where it sort of broke down for me, but I will suspend disbelief for a while longer and see where it leads - perhaps it will grow to fulfill the earlier promise.
  #2  
Old 09-02-2008, 10:33 AM
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Sorry guys, wrong forum - will a mod move it for me? (Damn I would have sworn I put this in Cafe...)
  #3  
Old 09-02-2008, 10:35 AM
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Well, I can still move threads...
  #4  
Old 09-02-2008, 10:38 AM
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Howard Stern's "Private Parts." It's pretty damned hilarious. I'm more impressed with it than I thought it would be. I may need to watch the movie again, I remember really enjoying it.
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Old 09-02-2008, 10:48 AM
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Ian Fleming's Doctor No. I'm reading through the entirety of Fleming's Bond series. I've been told that Doctor No is one of the greatest, gaudiest villains in the series and I can't wait to meet him.

R. Scott Bakker's The Darkness that Comes Before, part of his "Princes of Nothing" series. I'm only about forty pages in and I'm not sure I'm going to get into this book. The series is fantasy, but isn't just a recreation of medieval-Europe-with-dragons, which is refreshing. But the writing style is stilted and overly formal and the main character isn't particularly likable.

If I give up on that one, I'm going to go back to Harry Turtledove's "Great War" series. I'm on the third one and they've been good so far.
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Old 09-02-2008, 11:36 AM
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I just started Damon Knight's A for Anything. It's a late-60s sci-fi about a device that can duplicate whatever it touches, and the ensuing penis...I mean, um, really bad things.

Once that's done, I'm moving on to a couple of serious classics, Paradise Lost and the Divine Comedy. Can't wait!!
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Old 09-02-2008, 11:56 AM
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I just read The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the DecadesBefore Roe v. Wade, by Ann Fessler. contrary to what you'd think from the title, it's not about abortion debate or anything like that. It's a series of interviews with women who were more or less coerced into giving up their babies, back in the 50s and 60s, when teen pregnancy was a huge shame to bring onto your family. A very good book, but depressing - the way the system treated these girls, and the way their families treated some of them... it's heartbreaking.

Right now I'm reading Late Bloomer's Revolution by Amy Cohen, on the advice of a friend.

After that one I'm moving on to Self-Made Man: One Woman's Journey into Manhood and Back, by Norah Vincent. Just because it seemed interesting - a woman spends a year and a half posing as a man, to see how life is different from the other side.
  #8  
Old 09-02-2008, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Khadaji View Post
OK guys, welcome back. As always, here is the September thread and here is a link to the old thread. Link (warning, when the DNS is propagated I guess this will break.)

I am in the middle of The Mysterious Benedict Society . It has promise, although right now it is dragging a little. The start was strong though and I think it will pan out. It is targeted at the youth and has a "Harry Potter" feel to it (for me.) Don't get me wrong, there is no magic in it (let me stress this, there is NO MAGIC) in it, it just has a similar "feel" to it.

It starts with a gifted child in an orphanage who stumbles across an advert looking for gifted children. He goes through a series of tests and ends up on a team of gifted children, recruited to help save the world.

This is where it sort of broke down for me, but I will suspend disbelief for a while longer and see where it leads - perhaps it will grow to fulfill the earlier promise.
I have this! I got it at the Buckeye Book Fair last year. The author's booth was next to somebody real popular -- don't remember who -- and he looked kind of lonely. I smiled at him and went over to check out his book and we talked about it for a few minutes. I bought it and he signed it for me. I enjoyed it; I think it's more Lemony Snicket/Charles Addams than Harry Potter, with the quirky, enterprising characters. I don't see an author's web site, but I do see on Wikipedia that there's a sequel. I would buy it or at least check it out at the library.

Wonder if he will be back at Buckeye Book Fair this year. They limit their non-Ohio authors and AFAICT he's from Iowa. But he may have an Ohio connection.
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Old 09-02-2008, 12:24 PM
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I just finished Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers and am currently reading Planet of No Return, both by Harry Harrison.

I love his books!
  #10  
Old 09-02-2008, 12:32 PM
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I have this! I got it at the Buckeye Book Fair last year. The author's booth was next to somebody real popular -- don't remember who -- and he looked kind of lonely. I smiled at him and went over to check out his book and we talked about it for a few minutes. I bought it and he signed it for me. I enjoyed it; I think it's more Lemony Snicket/Charles Addams than Harry Potter, with the quirky, enterprising characters. I don't see an author's web site, but I do see on Wikipedia that there's a sequel. I would buy it or at least check it out at the library.

Wonder if he will be back at Buckeye Book Fair this year. They limit their non-Ohio authors and AFAICT he's from Iowa. But he may have an Ohio connection.
You may be right, I haven't read the Lemony Snicket books. It looks like he had a second book published so maybe he'll be back this year.
  #11  
Old 09-02-2008, 12:34 PM
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Patrick O'Brien, The Nutmeg of Consolation again.
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Old 09-02-2008, 12:42 PM
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Castles, Battles and Bombs: How Economics Explains Military History by Jurgen Brauer and Hubert Van Tuyll

Chapter one is an extremely basic explanation of some economic principles. I'm hoping the later chapters will be more captivating.
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Old 09-02-2008, 12:55 PM
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I just finished the fourth Temeraire book, Empire of Ivory, by Naomi Novik. (They're an alternate history of the Napoleonic wars, with dragons.) These keep getting better.
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Old 09-02-2008, 01:03 PM
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In the midst of reading other things I picked up a copy of Stephen R. Bown's Scurvy: How a Surgeon, a Mariner, and a Gentleman Solved the Greatest Medical Mystery of the Age of Sail yesterday. It's a great and quick read.
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Old 09-02-2008, 01:10 PM
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Cal, you might like Longitude. The story of how the ships chronometer was invented and why it was so important.
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Old 09-02-2008, 01:18 PM
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In the midst of reading other things I picked up a copy of Stephen R. Bown's Scurvy: How a Surgeon, a Mariner, and a Gentleman Solved the Greatest Medical Mystery of the Age of Sail yesterday. It's a great and quick read.
I just requested that from the library! That does sound interesting.
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Old 09-02-2008, 01:19 PM
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I'm finishing up King's "The Stand" this week. I was planning on going with Khaled Hosseini's "A Thousand Splendid Suns" or something by Sinclair Lewis next, but a friend just loaned me "Nineteen Minutes" by Jodi Picoult and "Whistling in the Dark" by Lesley Kagen, so those will come first.
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Old 09-02-2008, 01:21 PM
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I'm in the middle of Ann Frank's Diary right now. After that, Wisconsin Death Trip, followed by Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar.
  #19  
Old 09-02-2008, 01:28 PM
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I've been working on Traffic: why we drive the way we do (and what it says about us) by Tom Vanderbilt. It's been fairly slow going, but it's a good book. I think I'm in more of a fiction mood right now, but everything close to the top of my TBR pile is non-fiction, so I'm plodding.
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Old 09-02-2008, 01:44 PM
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Cal, you might like Longitude. The story of how the ships chronometer was invented and why it was so important.
Read it ages ago when it first came out. Sobel also edited a more technical, much less well-known book on those clocks, the product of an exhibition on the topic, which I've also read.
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Old 09-02-2008, 01:47 PM
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Boy, did I enjoy "Self Made Man..." I had seen this woman on Oprah, I believe and couldn't wait to read her book. It's great!
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Old 09-02-2008, 02:08 PM
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R. Scott Bakker's The Darkness that Comes Before, part of his "Princes of Nothing" series. I'm only about forty pages in and I'm not sure I'm going to get into this book. The series is fantasy, but isn't just a recreation of medieval-Europe-with-dragons, which is refreshing. But the writing style is stilted and overly formal and the main character isn't particularly likable.
Kelhus is an ass, isn't he? You'll meet a few likable characters later, one in particular (a badass fighter) is pretty cool, as is Achamian (sp?). I stopped reading midway through the third book. Bakker fell in love with the sound of his voice and it just dragged and dragged.

I'm reading Before They Are Hanged (book 2 First Law) by Joe Abercrombie, who really knows how to build things up and get them moving.

Next up will be Elleander Morning by Jerry Yulser, recommended by SkeptiJess. I found a used copy at Amazon and am extremely impressed with this seller. The book is mint, Mylar on the DJ, and came wrapped in several layers of heavy brown paper, inside a plastic padded envelope (all for less than $10).
  #23  
Old 09-02-2008, 07:12 PM
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I finished Charles de Lint's Into the Green today. Didn't like it much--the pacing was odd and the repetition got old. I did find out how to pronounce "Angharad" (AHN-ah-rahd, apparently).

Over the weekend I finished A Wreath for Udomo. Review is here. Very good book if you're into African history.

Library trip tomorrow. We shall see what I will net.
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Old 09-02-2008, 10:00 PM
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One of my last threads before my subscription ran out was a request for suggestions for dystopian/post-apocalyptic literature. I've blown through an alarming number of those suggestions. Feel free to ask me about anything dystopian!

I'm almost done with the Ender's Game series, just finished Children of the Mind and on to Ender's Shadow. I'm currently reading Louis L'amour The Daybreakers, mostly because my Grandfather was a huge fan. So far so good.

I also read the Ken Follett Pillars of the Earth & World Without End

Btw, so far, my favorite Dystopian book is probably still Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank.
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Old 09-02-2008, 11:12 PM
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I'm finishing up King's "The Stand" this week....
Hey, I just finished the 1990 "complete and uncut" edition on Sunday. I really enjoyed it - one of SK's biggest, most knotty and well-told stories, IMHO. The passage about The Kid and his more-than-bizarre encounter with Trashy was interesting, but no great loss to the original edition when it got cut, I'd say. I also noticed for the first time a passing reference to The Shop, the top-secret and amoral spy agency from King's Firestarter.

AuntiePam, Elleander Morning is one of my favorite time-travel stories. What if you could go back and kill Hitler? What if WWI was the last major war? Good stuff. The author's last name is spelled Yulsman, BTW.

Auntbeast, if you're looking for good postapocalyptic fiction, check out William Brinkley's The Last Ship, about a U.S. Navy destroyer that survives WWIII and then goes looking for sanctuary somewhere on our radiation-devastated world. Despite a few plot holes, it's a fascinating look at a shipboard closed society, the burden of command (the captain is the narrator) and the risks and opportunities of practically starting humanity all over again.

Right now, I'm reading Robert Hardman's A Year with the Queen, a very interesting look behind the scenes at Buckingham Palace and the British monarchy today. I'm also reading Thomas Berger's wonderful retelling of Arthurian myth, Arthur Rex, which was a prep-school favorite of mine. And I just finished Audrey Niffenegger's excellent romantic novel The Time Traveler's Wife, as well as Ken Grimwood's intriguing live-your-life-over-again fantasy Replay. All highly recommended.

Hmmm. Royalty and time travel seem to be my themes for August and September; dunno why.
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Old 09-02-2008, 11:51 PM
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Going back and forth beween my bus book, Martin Chuzzlewit, and my bathroom book, Tom Jones. MC just as entertaining as Dickens always is, and TJ surprisingly entertaining; don't have to force it down like homework at all.
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Old 09-02-2008, 11:57 PM
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I just finished Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles. Not nearly as good as I thought it would be.

Now I'm reading Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip--Confessions of a Cynical Waiter by Steve Dublanica. I'm only about a chapter in, but I'm enjoying it so far.
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Old 09-03-2008, 07:37 AM
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I'm currently reading the second half of Gene Wolf's Book of the New Sun series; I'm in the middle of Sword of the Lichtor. I really enjoyed the depth of Wolf's protagonist and the fairly complex ethical issues raised when I read the first half a few months ago. So of course the allegory has become much more heavy handed in Lichtor while dropping the complications of the morality of an executioner (though the New Testament might have been cooler if Jesus had punched Satan's nose through his brain).

After that... I haven't given it a lot of thought. I have quite a few short story collections and there's a few authors that I want to follow up on after enjoying some of their work (Nicola Griffith, Jack McDevitt). I'm considering starting another long term reading project but I'm not sure I want to jump into another one after fifteen months on my last two...
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Old 09-03-2008, 07:54 AM
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AuntiePam, Elleander Morning is one of my favorite time-travel stories. What if you could go back and kill Hitler? What if WWI was the last major war? Good stuff. The author's last name is spelled Yulsman, BTW.
That's good to hear. Oops on the name. I'm bad with unusual names, and bad with common names too. Elleander Morning got bumped (temporarily) because yet another book came in the mail -- The Slaves of Solitude by (somebody) Hamilton. It's set in a boarding house near London during the Blitz, sort of a look at ordinary, boring people, but with so much observation that the people become interesting. It reminds me of Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym.
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Old 09-03-2008, 09:39 AM
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Just started reading Neal Stephenson's first novel, The Big U. He's not too proud of it, but the first chapter was a hoot. Really, really looking forward to the release of Anathem next week.

Just finished reading Don DeLillo's The Falling Man, which I thought was a big improvement over his other post-Underworld stuff. Classic DeLillo though, people who speak in improbable speeches, structured around beautiful museum quality narration.

Last edited by fiddlesticks; 09-03-2008 at 09:40 AM.
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Old 09-03-2008, 09:43 AM
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Now I'm reading Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip--Confessions of a Cynical Waiter by Steve Dublanica. I'm only about a chapter in, but I'm enjoying it so far.
That one's in my pile too!
  #32  
Old 09-03-2008, 10:41 AM
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currently burning through simon green's nightside series.
VERY entertaining.
i'm now halfway through book four.
  #33  
Old 09-03-2008, 11:48 AM
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I'm about 1/3 of the way through Patrick Rothfuss' novel The Name of the Wind. I'm old and jaded in sf/fantasy fiction and it takes a lot to impress me these days. This one's doing pretty well so far.

At night I'm trying to finish up Mary Gentle's Ilario: The Stone Golem. It's a bit of a slog, frankly.
  #34  
Old 09-03-2008, 12:30 PM
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I'm about 1/3 of the way through Patrick Rothfuss' novel The Name of the Wind. I'm old and jaded in sf/fantasy fiction and it takes a lot to impress me these days. This one's doing pretty well so far.

<SNIP>
IMO, this is one of the best books to come out in years. I just with I didn't have to wait so long for the rest of the trilogy. (Which others have noted are written, just not released.)
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Old 09-03-2008, 03:30 PM
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Back with an enthusiastic recommendation for The Slaves of Solitude by Patrick Hamilton. I couldn't put it down. Nothing much happens -- there's no mystery, not much of a plot at all. Hard to imagine that watching ordinary people go about their boring lives would be exciting, but it was.

When I went back to Amazon to put more Hamilton books on my wish list, I see on the "People who bought also bought" feature that another old favorite is back in print -- The Book of Ebenezer lePage by G. B. Edwards. Another book where nothing happens -- it's all character, and what a character. Check it out. I'd link to it, but I can't get that feature to work.

So now I'm ready for Elleander Morning.
  #36  
Old 09-04-2008, 09:03 AM
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I am now in the tenth chapter of Watchmen. I'm new to graphic novels, so it's an interesting experience. It's quite incredible to see what graphic novels can accomplish that no other medium can--such as the ''mirror image'' chapter on Rorschach, who is one of the most interesting anti-heroes I've yet to stumble across.

Also, there was a huge Nietzsche shout-out in The Abyss Gazes Also, and I'm not just talking about the title/quote.

I love the parallel between the novel's storyline and the comic book Marooned. Beautiful, fantastic, thought-provoking work of art.

Well I am very excited to discuss it all once I finish it--which will be tonight.
  #37  
Old 09-04-2008, 09:40 AM
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Watchmen is, I believe, a masterpiece. You'll find many threads in which it (and the upcoming movie, due in March 2009) have been discussed here. Enjoy!
  #38  
Old 09-04-2008, 09:50 AM
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Reading Another World by Pat Barker. Waiting for my library to get all three parts of her Regeneration Trilogy at the same time so I can read them in order.
  #39  
Old 09-04-2008, 10:18 AM
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I'm finishing up King's "The Stand" this week. I was planning on going with Khaled Hosseini's "A Thousand Splendid Suns" or something by Sinclair Lewis next, but a friend just loaned me "Nineteen Minutes" by Jodi Picoult and "Whistling in the Dark" by Lesley Kagen, so those will come first.
Coincidentally enough, I've just finished King's Lisey's Story, which has gone to the top of my "SK's worst books" list, and I've just started Hosseini's The Kite Runner, which is going well, so far. I've not heard of those other authors, but I'll keep my eye open in the library, next time.
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Old 09-04-2008, 10:29 AM
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Reading Another World by Pat Barker. Waiting for my library to get all three parts of her Regeneration Trilogy at the same time so I can read them in order.
Those books went right over my head. I love Barker and have read everything she's written, but I couldn't get into the Regeneration books at all. If your library fails you, let me know -- I'd be glad to lend you mine.

I started Elleander Morning last night and would still be reading it but I have to go to work, darn it.
  #41  
Old 09-04-2008, 11:07 AM
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I have picked up the Hyperion series (again, for like the 7th time in my life) by Dan Simmons
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Old 09-04-2008, 11:15 AM
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Reading V by Thomas Pynchon at the moment. About half way through, really enjoying it. Really, really, really enjoying it. Puzzling and accessible, funny and intelligent.

Next up is either The Last Laugh by S.J. Perelman or maybe some more Pynchon, TCOL49 perhaps.

Recently finished reading the latest Woody Allen short story collection Mere Anarchy, which had some excellent stories mixed in with a few not-so-excellent ones. Overall though, very good.
  #43  
Old 09-04-2008, 11:21 AM
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Those books went right over my head. I love Barker and have read everything she's written, but I couldn't get into the Regeneration books at all. If your library fails you, let me know -- I'd be glad to lend you mine.
Thanks. They may well go over mine. I liked The Life Class and thought I'd read more.
  #44  
Old 09-04-2008, 11:25 AM
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I'm on three things right now, with a whole wack of stuff in the on-deck circle.

"One Long Tune" by Ron Forbes-Roberts The incredibly thorough biography of Lenny Breau, one of the most astonishing jazz guitarists ever. Very well written, but when it isn't intimidating reading about this man's natural proficiency, it's depressing reading about how easily he slid into a completely self-destructive lifestyle of addiction that has kept him virtually unknown except to other jazz guitarists.

"La Montagne secrete" by Gabrielle Roy The archetypal story of an artist's search for truth in the far north. Some scenes and characters of achingly beautiful depth and richness.
Part of my scheme to read at least one book in another language at all times to maintain my skill.

"Anna Karenina" Barely started, but I love Russian literature. It's the recent Penguin translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky with 'Oprah's book club stamped across the front cover. I shouldn't be a snob and it was cheap, but I'd really prefer a different cover. It's big enough that I rarely take it out of the house anyway.
  #45  
Old 09-04-2008, 11:57 AM
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I can't seem to concentrate on most books right now. I've had an assortment that I've started and put down over the last few weeks.. but right now the Jaz Parks series by Jennifer Rardin has caught and held. I'm reading the second book now. Jaz is basically an assistant to a vampire assassin in the CIA. It's pretty interesting, different from most vampire books I've read.

Making notes on some of the books listed here though. I want to read more non-fiction, and I really ought to finish Name of the Wind. It's a good book, no doubt about it, but for some reason I put it aside and haven't picked it up again. That's happened a lot lately. I wonder if they have it in audiobook..
  #46  
Old 09-04-2008, 07:57 PM
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Bangkok Haunts by John Burdett. I started it yesterday afternoon, and if it weren't for work and sleep, I'd be done already. It's a little addicting.
  #47  
Old 09-04-2008, 07:58 PM
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As reported over the Lost Weekend, I finished Julian, by Gore Vidal, a very good novel about the Roman Emperor who ruled from AD 361-63. Julian tried to reverse the turn back the tide of Christianity that was welcomed by his Uncle Constantine and return the Empire to the old pagan gods. He died while on a military campaign in Persia. Rumors are that he died at the hands of some of his Christian soldiers, which is treated as fact in Vidal's novel.

On Martini Enfield's recommendation, I checked out some Robert Harris from our library. They didn't have Fatherland on the shelf, but I got Pompeii and Imperium. But first, I've started Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh.

Last edited by Siam Sam; 09-04-2008 at 07:59 PM.
  #48  
Old 09-04-2008, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by stucco View Post
Bangkok Haunts by John Burdett. I started it yesterday afternoon, and if it weren't for work and sleep, I'd be done already. It's a little addicting.
Burdett is excellent. I've read Bangkok 8 and Bangkok Tattoo. Is this a sequel?
  #49  
Old 09-04-2008, 08:32 PM
stucco is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Siam Sam View Post
Burdett is excellent. I've read Bangkok 8 and Bangkok Tattoo. Is this a sequel?
Yeah, it's the third book. I read Bangkok 8 about a year ago and I didn't know that there were sequels until I saw Bangkok Tattoo at the library a few days ago. I think these three are all for now though, meaning that my wonderful week of Thai brothels, twisted criminals, and karma is coming to an end.

Edit: I just saw that you're from Bangkok (I'm apparently a little dense not to notice both the name and the location). Are the books at all accurate?

Last edited by stucco; 09-04-2008 at 08:33 PM.
  #50  
Old 09-04-2008, 08:45 PM
Siam Sam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stucco View Post
Yeah, it's the third book. I read Bangkok 8 about a year ago and I didn't know that there were sequels until I saw Bangkok Tattoo at the library a few days ago. I think these three are all for now though, meaning that my wonderful week of Thai brothels, twisted criminals, and karma is coming to an end.

Edit: I just saw that you're from Bangkok (I'm apparently a little dense not to notice both the name and the location). Are the books at all accurate?
The books are very accurate, although the accuracy varies strangely, as I mentioned in a previous book thread. For instance, in the first one, every bar named in Nana Plaza is a real bar, but every bar named in Soi Cowboy is a made-up name. And as for Nana Plaza, he mentions the little spirit shrine being in something like the north or east corner, something like that, when in fact the corners are northwest, southeast, etc.

Will look for Bangkok Haunts this weekend.
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