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Old 03-31-2012, 10:36 AM
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Whatcha Readin' April 2012 Edition


Happy April fools day! I can't believe 1/4 of the year is over already. And spring has sprung! (Although it is chilly and rainy here today.)

Finished Shadow Prowler by Alexey Pehov, the first in a trilogy - what I will refer to as a true trilogy in that book one does not stand alone.

It is good reading, but not great reading. I enjoyed the first and will read the others. It was better than the mind candy that I usually read, but not as good as (IMO) The Name Of The Wind trilogy.

Pretty typical plot: Ultra bad guy begins to stir after centuries of exile. Harold, a master thief, is recruited to hunt down a magic artifact to prevent his return. Orcs, dwarfs, elves and humans and magic and swords.

Link to last month's thread.
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Old 03-31-2012, 05:56 PM
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I'm halfway through the second novel in the John Rain series by Barry Eisler. Had a major malfunction when I ordered it from Amazon--thought it was going to my Kindle, but got the physical book instead. My bad: ordering after my second vodka gimlet.

I have the 4th Game of Thrones book in reserve (I cant seem to keep the titles straight--just call them all the Sword in the Stone books), as well as Savvy (a kids' book by Ingrid Law) and a professional book by Lucy Calkins on reading instruction.
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Old 03-31-2012, 09:42 PM
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Just started The Cider House Rules by John Irving and am only about 10% through it. Good so far. Never saw the film, for which I believe Irving won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar. I'll still be on it when we leave for the US in a few days.
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Old 04-01-2012, 12:34 AM
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Color of Magic was the worst Discworld book I've read so far, but it wasn't horrible either.

Instead of library books, I'm going to read some books I own but haven't gotten around to yet. First up is The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester, AKA The Surgeon of Crowthorne.
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Old 04-01-2012, 10:50 AM
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The autobiography of Johannes Jørgensen (1866-1956), a Danish writer who famously converted to Catholicism in the 1890’s, and left his home country for Italy.

I’m halfway through volume two (out of seven), wherein he describes his wild and crazy youth in Copenhagen. Great fun! The guy dabbled in Satanism (had a pentagram on the door of his first apartment), got into Baudelaire and the decadents, banged floozies, drank absinth, published his own zine, etc. Can't help but think that a Mad Men-style TV series about the Copenhagen bohemians in the 1890's would be pretty damn great.
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Old 04-01-2012, 02:52 PM
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Still seeking comfort-reading, I came across Huffington Post's list of must-read books for women. Despite taking issue with the purpose of the list, I saw several books that I already had, unread on my shelves. So now I'm reading Seventh Heaven, by Alice Hoffman, and it's just perfect for me right now.
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Old 04-01-2012, 07:29 PM
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The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice. It's an odd book. I'm not quite halfway through it and find it to be a lightweight story written in a portentous style that suggests the author believes it to be deep and meaningful. I will probably finish it.

I've recently read a couple excellent fantasy novels (Throne of the Crescent Moon and Kraken). I don't believe this book to be in their class.
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Old 04-02-2012, 02:26 AM
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Am 3/4th into Reamde by Neal Stephenson and am quite enjoying it. Next up I think will the Game of Thrones series.......
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Old 04-02-2012, 02:41 AM
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Re reading "The Lord of the Rings" into Book Two "The Two Towers", then I'm on to reading me some murder mysteries.
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Old 04-02-2012, 11:59 PM
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I'm now just over halfway through American Dervish, a novel by Ayad Akhtar. It seems semi-autobiographical, and is about a teenage Pakistani-American boy growing up in Wisconsin in the Eighties and grappling with his Moslem faith, his unhappy family life and his place in American society. So far it's OK; not sure I'd recommend it to anyone, though.

I've read two slim but good books about George Washington over the past week or so. The Essential George Washington by Peter Hannaford is a collection of observations about GW from those who knew him personally, those who lived not long after he did, and those who thought about him long after he was gone. Mostly praise, but some criticism too. George Washington: The Founding Father by Paul Johnson is an English conservative's brief take on GW's life. Some minor factual errors I noticed, but otherwise a well-written, concise bio that's worth a look.
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Old 04-03-2012, 07:26 AM
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The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye was remarkable. As soon as I finished I checked to see if the library had her first book and I will be going to get that as soon as I can. If you like books about early New York, you will like it.

Going to start Catch Me When I Fall by Nicci French, just something I grabbed from the shelf.
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Old 04-03-2012, 09:52 AM
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I read Amanda Foreman's book Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire, which was pretty good. Lots of late 18th-century politics; Georgiana used her celebrity to promote the Whig party. The Keira Knightly movie Duchess was based on this book, although the movie skims over the politics and entirely omits Georgiana's horrendous gambling addiction which did much to ruin her happiness.

Over spring break I read all four books in Sarah Monette's Doctrine of Labyrinths series, beginning with Melusine. It's fantasy, and I liked it pretty well, but it's admittedly angsty and melodramatic, and lots of people would have no patience with it. Her writing is quite good, though, and I found myself mesmerized.

Now I'm in the middle of Freedom & Necessity, by Steven Brust and Emma Bull. It's set in England in 1849, classified as fantasy but so far it has been pretty much straight historical fiction. It's epistolary - composed entirely of letters, journal entries and the occasional actual contemporary article from the Times. It's hard to describe the storyline without spoilers, but it begins with a letter from a man who was presumed dead, writing to tell his cousin he's still alive. There are revolutionaries, philosophers, secret occult societies, and conspiracies. The prose is dense and Victorian, but quite well written. It's a long book - my hardback is 450 pages but the type is tiny.
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Old 04-03-2012, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Eleanor of Aquitaine View Post
I read Amanda Foreman's book Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire, which was pretty good. Lots of late 18th-century politics; Georgiana used her celebrity to promote the Whig party. The Keira Knightly movie Duchess was based on this book, although the movie skims over the politics and entirely omits Georgiana's horrendous gambling addiction which did much to ruin her happiness....
She is shown gambling, but you're right, it isn't emphasized. Decent movie, though, I thought.

This book, about the man who stole the famous Gainsborough portrait of the Duchess and later inspired Conan Doyle to create Prof. Moriarty, may also interest you, Eleanor: http://www.amazon.com/The-Napoleon-C...3465467&sr=8-2
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Old 04-03-2012, 11:17 AM
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This book, about the man who stole the famous Gainsborough portrait of the Duchess and later inspired Conan Doyle to create Prof. Moriarty, may also interest you, Eleanor: http://www.amazon.com/The-Napoleon-C...3465467&sr=8-2
Thanks, that does sound interesting.
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Old 04-03-2012, 11:21 AM
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Just finished The Bards of Bone Plain by Patricia McKillip, am now reading Spin Control by Chris Moriarty. It's a loosely connected sequel to Spin State by same author, same setting different main character. The Spin books are interesting science fiction. I'd recommend all three.
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Old 04-03-2012, 11:30 AM
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I'm still reading A History of the Christian Church by Wiliston Walker - It's a wonderful example of clear, concise historical writing. Various heresies and schisms are described very neatly in terms of 'this is what this group believed, this was the orthodox point of view, this was the result', so that the reader knows what is going on without prolonged digressions into minute points of doctrine. I'm up to the 4th Century.

In rehearsal, where I can't concentrate as easily (and frankly, it's a bit heavy to drag a big ole hardcover like that around with all the scores I have to take back and forth.), I've finished reading The Daughters of Cain, by Colin Dexter. I'm sure Inspector Morse needs no introduction from me - I'm only sad that I'm down to two more novels and a collection of short stories before I run out of Morse books. The foreshadowing in getting thick and ominous.

I just started Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin. This is everything I liked about Brother Cadfael only MUCH better written and without the predictable formulae. I've been gobbling it up - she has written three other books, and I foresee myself reading through them all before the year is up.

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Old 04-03-2012, 11:42 AM
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I just started A Clash of Kings (second book in the series started by A Game of Thrones). I had picked up AGoT because I needed something to read on a cross-country flight, and my interest had been piqued by the HBO series (which i was aware of, but haven't seen). I was immediately sucked in, and will no doubt finish the five existing books before Martin publishes the sixth.
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Old 04-03-2012, 12:40 PM
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Finished off the audiobook version of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - it was pretty entertaining overall, and I might have even learned something along the way. The postscript/epilogue was a nice way to wrap things up (tho I don't know what to think of the sequel it hints at). Now I'm looking forward to the movie this summer....

Working on Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World by Jill Jonnes - it deserves more time than what I've been giving it... Edison's coming off as quite a jerk & I didn't realize that Westinghouse was as much of an inventor as he was.

Working my way thru Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez's Locke and Key graphic novel series - have Crown of Shadows sitting at the top of my ToRead pile. Wonderfully creepy story & the illustrations are a perfect match. I may have to buy these once all is said & done.
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Old 04-03-2012, 12:45 PM
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Over spring break I read all four books in Sarah Monette's Doctrine of Labyrinths series, beginning with Melusine. It's fantasy, and I liked it pretty well, but it's admittedly angsty and melodramatic, and lots of people would have no patience with it. Her writing is quite good, though, and I found myself mesmerized.
I'd totally forgotten about this series, which I still haven't read. Sometimes I'm in just that kind of mood. Thanks for the reminder!
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Old 04-03-2012, 12:45 PM
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2/3 through David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, which is awesome.

Last edited by Larry Borgia; 04-03-2012 at 12:46 PM.
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Old 04-03-2012, 12:50 PM
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Re-reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

A short history of nearly everything by Bill Bryson.

The collected poems of W.B. Yeats.
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Old 04-03-2012, 01:05 PM
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I just started Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin. This is everything I liked about Brother Cadfael only MUCH better written and without the predictable formulae. I've been gobbling it up - she has written three other books, and I foresee myself reading through them all before the year is up.
I read those not long ago and enjoyed them very much, despite being annoyed by the author's dreadfully unflattering portrayal of Eleanor - mostly in the second book. On the other hand, I loved the scenes with Henry II, whom Franklin obviously admired - and there is much to admire.
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Old 04-03-2012, 01:26 PM
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...Working my way thru Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez's Locke and Key graphic novel series - have Crown of Shadows sitting at the top of my ToRead pile. Wonderfully creepy story & the illustrations are a perfect match. I may have to buy these once all is said & done.
I've been reading those, too, and have really enjoyed them. A great story, lots of dark humor, and beautifully drawn.
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Old 04-03-2012, 01:35 PM
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2/3 through David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, which is awesome.
It is indeed. An awesome talent on display in that book.

I just finished The Devil All The Time, second book by Donald Ray Pollock, the author of Knockemstiff.

I liked it well enough - sort of like a cross between Cormac McCarthy and Joe Lansdale. The parade of horribles was amusing enough, but sometimes seemed a trifle one-note - as if simply everyone inhabiting this guy's literary world was corrupt, a lunatic, a pervert or a murderer. The problem with this is that the horribles tend to lose impact after awhile, if they are a constant diet.

That said, the guy can tell a story and keep one entertained, which is the main thing.
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Old 04-03-2012, 02:30 PM
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I'm currently reading Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow.
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Old 04-03-2012, 03:08 PM
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Replay by Ken Grimwood was very good. It might even have been great, but I did have a couple issues with it.

Fevre Dream by George RR Martin was great. Yes, there are vampires, but the history with the Mississippi River steamboats was equally entertaining.

I'm currently reading The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, which after 70 or so pages is pretty decent.
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Old 04-03-2012, 03:29 PM
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Replay by Ken Grimwood was very good. It might even have been great, but I did have a couple issues with it.

Fevre Dream by George RR Martin was great. Yes, there are vampires, but the history with the Mississippi River steamboats was equally entertaining....
I like both of those books very, very much. Glad you did too.
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Old 04-03-2012, 03:54 PM
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Working my way through Lee Child's Jack Reacher series. I'm on the 5th one right now. Also working my way through Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar series, I'm on the 5th one in that series also. I love the Win Lockwood character.
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Old 04-03-2012, 04:15 PM
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I'm reading Started Early, Took My Dog, by Kate Atkinson. This is book four in the series and, without giving anything vital away about the plot, I've got to say that there is a knock-out punch near the beginning that just made Jackson Brody my favorite flawed, brooding, angsty, detective, ...ever!
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Old 04-03-2012, 07:33 PM
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I'm about 1/3rd through All Fall Down by Megan Hart. So far it's loads better than the only other post-cult mass suicide novel I've ever read.
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Old 04-03-2012, 11:07 PM
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I've almost finished The Iron Wars, the third part of Paul Kearney's Monarchies of God fantasy series. I've been enjoying the ride so far, and it's nice to read a series that is complete and relatively brief - you can get all five parts in a two volume compilation, starting with Hawkwood & the Kings.

I guess you could describe the setting as similar to a fantastical 1492, the world's equivalent to Constantinople has fallen, an expedition sets off for the fabled Western continent, and the church is riven by a religious schism. Oh and there's magic, werewolves and gunpowder.
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Old 04-04-2012, 09:57 AM
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It is indeed. An awesome talent on display in that book.
I'll say, the way he moves from style to style while sounding completely authentic is astonishing. Each story has it's own voice and genre, from thriller to black comedy to dystopian SF. Each story is compelling on it's own, and made greater by the way they are linked together. And just his simple ability to put a noun and a verb together is astonishing.

Sometimes I'll read a thriller or something and think "You know, if I had the discipline and time, I could crank out a book as good as this. I probably won't but I think I could." Sometimes I think this even when the book is clever and well written. Even if I had all the time in the world and some of the greatest living writers coaching me I could never come up with anything close to Cloud Atlas.
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Old 04-04-2012, 12:55 PM
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I'll say, the way he moves from style to style while sounding completely authentic is astonishing. Each story has it's own voice and genre, from thriller to black comedy to dystopian SF. Each story is compelling on it's own, and made greater by the way they are linked together. And just his simple ability to put a noun and a verb together is astonishing.

Sometimes I'll read a thriller or something and think "You know, if I had the discipline and time, I could crank out a book as good as this. I probably won't but I think I could." Sometimes I think this even when the book is clever and well written. Even if I had all the time in the world and some of the greatest living writers coaching me I could never come up with anything close to Cloud Atlas.
Holy shit, I had the exact same reaction!

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...cloud+atlas%22

Quote:
Heh, I've said it before - Cloud Atlas is one of those rare books that don't create writer's envy, for the simple reason that one cannot fool oneself into thinking that, if one devoted oneself to writing, one could have written it.

Other books in that indescribable category, I think:

- The Master and Margarita by Bugalikov

- Invisible Cities and If on a winter's night a traveller by Italo Calvino;

- Ficciones by Jeorge Luis Borges

- The Periodic Table by Primo Levi

- The Man Who was Thursday by Chesterton (already recommended above)
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Old 04-04-2012, 01:57 PM
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Sounds like it could be a helluva movie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_Atlas_(film)

Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 04-04-2012 at 01:58 PM.
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Old 04-04-2012, 02:24 PM
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Going to start Catch Me When I Fall by Nicci French, just something I grabbed from the shelf.
I'm about a quarter done with this and it's fascinating. I thought it was a mystery but it's not, at least so far. It's about a woman who shows signs of bipolar disorder -- she goes on spending sprees, drinking, promiscuity; then can't get out of bed and go to work. She becomes convinced that someone is stalking her, and it may be true, but how much is paranoia? It is very convincingly written.
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Old 04-04-2012, 03:08 PM
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Sounds like it could be a helluva movie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_Atlas_(film)
Woah.
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Old 04-04-2012, 03:40 PM
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I like both of those books very, very much. Glad you did too.
I think Replay started out very strong and then got a little rocky before it ended. The end was pretty satisfying, though. My one big complaint is...
SPOILER:
...that they only ever met the one other replayer, the serial killer. I was expecting a great pay off from that anonymous letter from Australia in response to their search for other replayers that said something like "not yet." The foreshadowing was so strong there and then it was forgotten like a storyline from Lost. Big let down.

But yeah, overall very good book. It really makes you think about your own history.
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Old 04-04-2012, 10:51 PM
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As to Replay, I didn't mind
SPOILER:
what you spoiled. Not every detail needs to be wrapped up. A little ambiguity, even a few loose threads are a good thing IMHO.

Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 04-04-2012 at 10:55 PM.
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Old 04-05-2012, 12:15 AM
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Sounds like it could be a helluva movie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_Atlas_(film)
I don't see the point. The book gains much of it's magic from it's prose style, which will be lost on the big screen. It's in many ways about stories. Also a faithful adaptation would have to be filmed in multiple locations, use a ton of FX, and cost as much as Avatar

Unnecessary film adaptations are a pet peeve of mine. We didn't need a watchmen adaptation and we don't need a Cloud Atlas adaptation. Both things were fine as they were and weren't improved by inferior movies. If something is perfect in it's own medium, leave it there.

That said, here's Io9 with some leaked concept art.

http://io9.com/5871341/cloud-atlas-c...tag=cloudatlas
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Old 04-05-2012, 07:44 AM
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I finished Flashman and the Mountain of Light. Decent book, as they all are in this series. I notice Flashman’s gotten a lot nicer since he raped a girl in one of those early books. In this one, I was actually a bit moved by his interactions with little Dalip (okay, moved by the kid mostly, but still).

Next up: Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell. It’s a tale of a troubled white-trash girl in the Ozarks. There are a lot of reviews raving about this author’s magical, lyrical prose, but I’m going to read it anyway.
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Old 04-05-2012, 08:07 AM
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...There are a lot of reviews raving about this author’s magical, lyrical prose, but I’m going to read it anyway.
Yeah, to hell with those good reviews!
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Old 04-05-2012, 11:16 AM
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Next up: Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell. It’s a tale of a troubled white-trash girl in the Ozarks. There are a lot of reviews raving about this author’s magical, lyrical prose, but I’m going to read it anyway.
It's pretty good. The lyricism does get laid on with a trowel, something that I've noticed in Iowa Writer's Project graduates. Some of it is quite beautiful though, and the crime story at its core is compelling.

The movie is good too, though it differs slightly from the book. It stars current Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence, just as she was starting to get noticed.
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Old 04-05-2012, 02:05 PM
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Tore thru Joe Landale's All The Earth, Thrown to the Sky last night & this morning. I was expecting something on the supernatural side (given my previous experiences w/ Lansdale) , but the desolation of the Dust Bowl and the adventures Jack, Jane & Tony go thru were harrowing enough as is. The absorbing plot and sympathetic characters kept me hooked all the way thru. This should be "Suggested/Recommended Reading" for US History students, as it brings the Depression to life as well as The Grapes of Wrath while IMHO being much more accessible to the intended YA audience.

I'm also swept up by the audiobook version of third volume of the Bloody Jack series: Under the Jolly Roger: Being an Account of the Further Nautical Adventures of Jacky Faber (Bloody Jack, #3) - Jacky's back in her native element (on board a ship) and things (as usual) look a bit dire. This series is ridiculously entertaining IMHO, and (from what I can tell) reasonably historically accurate. Another strong YA recommendation.
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Old 04-05-2012, 02:36 PM
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Tore thru Joe Landale's All The Earth, Thrown to the Sky last night & this morning. I was expecting something on the supernatural side (given my previous experiences w/ Lansdale) , but the desolation of the Dust Bowl and the adventures Jack, Jane & Tony go thru were harrowing enough as is. The absorbing plot and sympathetic characters kept me hooked all the way thru. This should be "Suggested/Recommended Reading" for US History students, as it brings the Depression to life as well as The Grapes of Wrath while IMHO being much more accessible to the intended YA audience.

.
Thanks for posting that - I'm a huge Lansdale fan, and I had no idea he had new books out.

Even more recent is this - looks good - I'm ordering both ...

http://www.amazon.ca/Edge-Dark-Water...3654433&sr=1-7
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Old 04-05-2012, 02:42 PM
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Reading To Marry an English Lord: Tales of Wealth and Marriage, Sex and Snobbery by Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace, published in 1989 and updated in 2012, to capitalize on its use as an inspiration and source for Downton Abbey.
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:33 AM
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One more recent read/listen to add: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.
I listened to the audiobook version of this short novel, and (as with Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children , it seems I missed out on the total experience by not seeing the illustrations. The enhancements to the audiobook (sound effects) were a bit distracting IMHO, but I can see the appeal for younger audiences.

I still found it an enchanting story, and was caught up in Hugo's adventures. It seems I've been reading quite a few YA orphan stories lately, and I think Hugo would fit in well with their main characters, using his determination and skills to survive and thrive.

I enjoyed the intertwining with at least one historical personage, and find myself wanting to learn more about Georges Méliès, as well as to see both some of his films and the recent Scorsese movie based on this story.

Recommended as at least a library read/listen; I'll probably revisit the story again, and possibly look for a copy of my own.

Malthus glad to help out! I've read good things about Edge of Dark Water & have added it to my Library ToRead list.
  #47  
Old 04-06-2012, 10:13 AM
Le Ministre de l'au-delà is offline
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I just finished 'Mistress of the Art of Death' by Ariana Franklin. Highly recommended - great balance between the historical setting and the twists of the plot, a good sense of pace, very well written. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series over the course of the year.

I'm still on 'A History of the Christian Church' for my armchair reading; at rehearsals, I have 'Payment in Blood' by Elizabeth George to keep me going.

I have to say, it's pretty sweet having a role that only requires 5 minutes of stage time (and no other responsibilities; no parts in the other shows in rep, no understudy duties) which essentially means that I'm paid to sit around and read while the rest of the show gets rehearsed.

Last edited by Le Ministre de l'au-delà; 04-06-2012 at 10:14 AM.
  #48  
Old 04-06-2012, 02:16 PM
Khadaji is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Southern Pennsylvania
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I finished Shadow Chaser: Book Two of The Chronicles of Siala. I am still enjoying the series, but am disappointed to report that it is not a trilogy (or I doubt it is) but is instead a series. I don't like open-ended series, unless each book can stand alone. It seems clear to me now that there is no way he will be wrapping this up in the next book and so that leaves the possibility that we'll never see the end (like Robert Jordans.) I hope that I'm wrong, but clearly the next book will not be the end.
  #49  
Old 04-08-2012, 11:52 PM
Elendil's Heir is offline
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Just finished The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes (either the wife or the daughter of the series creator, I guess). I highly recommend this book, which has a detailed discussion of English country house life of that era, and lots of photos and behind-the-scenes info on the TV series, too. Very interesting and engaging, with a good bibliography. A solid A.

Also finished American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar, the novel I mentioned upthread. It was meh. A C at best.
  #50  
Old 04-09-2012, 12:33 AM
Invisible Chimp is offline
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I finished The Professor and the Madman. It was a light read, not at all like the OED that it talks about the making of. I was not prepared for the most "interesting" thing the madman does. Ouch!
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