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Dung Beetle
07-01-2008, 07:13 AM
Apparently our good host Khadaji is not feeling well enough (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=472965) to post right now. It's been a week…any way someone can check on him? Khadaji, I hope you won't mind if I start the thread in your absence. You can have it back when you get to feeling better!

Sigmagirl
07-01-2008, 07:54 AM
Halfway through Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult. Verdict so far: Irritating.

LadyAurora
07-01-2008, 07:58 AM
Channeling Cleopatra by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. So far it's every entertaining and a good beach read for this summer.

Walker in Eternity
07-01-2008, 08:02 AM
Just started Newtons Sleep by Daniel O' Mahoney.

It's a spin off from the Doctor Who Universe about a group of ex- time lords called Faction Paradox. Not part of current Who continuity and probably better for it.

Interesting start, but a little slow until the 2nd chapter.

Gets very good reviews on line.

MsWhatsit
07-01-2008, 08:28 AM
Just finished On Basilisk Station, the first book in David Weber's "Honor Harrington" series, and am waiting for the second book in the series to arrive from the library. In the meantime am contenting myself by rereading sections of Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon.

Atrael
07-01-2008, 09:04 AM
I've started Myth-Chief the latest (and last) Myth book by Robert Asprin. I'm also reading Ender's Game but since it's actually for work I don't consider that an entertainment book.

Catamount
07-01-2008, 09:20 AM
My current pile:

To Green Angel Tower, Part 2 by Tad Williams--the story finally picks up pace again, but I've completely lost track of some of the subplots. Dude seriously needed an editor.

Greenmantle by Charles de Lint--a Mafia/Celtic mythology tale. Very strange, but the characters are good.

All Men Are Mortal by Simone de Bouvoir--I don't foray into French literature often, but this is pretty good. I can't wait for Regina to get her comeuppance.

The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius--Ah, dirty Roman stories. I've just started Augustus. He was a prat even as a child, wasn't he?

The Gold-Bug and Other Tales by Edgar Allen Poe--most of the stories are very good. "Ligeia" has not aged well, though. Which is ironic, considering the tale.

Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus by Isaac Asimov--his foray into pulp adventure stories. I like how this one starts off with an apology...er...explanation of why Story Venus doesn't match Real Venus. Ah, the 1950s. An exciting time to be involved in extraterrestrial research. A time when new discoveries were being made every day, some of which would completely invalidate large segments of your fictional solar system.

villa
07-01-2008, 09:31 AM
I am just finishing World War Z by Max Brooks. I bought it as a joke, but damn if it isn't well written and impossible to put down.

Dung Beetle
07-01-2008, 09:36 AM
This weekend I attempted to read Quiet Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian, by Scott Douglas. He had me worried on the first page, annoyed by the tenth, and chased me off entirely by chapter three. It's really a shame, too, because this book had potential. Unfortunately, the author's effort to make it cute turned it into a steaming pile of crap. There was a footnote attached to the second sentence of the book (!) and the footnote was this: "Faren was short, soft-spoken, and had a peaceful disposition. The words didn't exactly fit her." Um, isn't that the kind of thing that belongs in the body of the text?* After that, the footnotes came thick and fast. Soon I was frothing (and I enjoyed Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell). By page 32, when he interrupted my reading yet again to give me the definition of the word Hussars :rolleyes: , I had had enough. I was very frustrated, because I feel there's a decent book in there, but damned if I'll be the one to dig it out. Why on earth was he allowed to publish it like this? *shakes fist* Scott Douglas, you are no Dave Barry!


*Yes.

-----------------

After that, I read a large chunk of Swan Song, by Robert McCammon (one of those books I've always meant to get around to), before realizing that I had, in fact, read it before.



I'm currently reading Button, Button, a short story collection by Richard Matheson. So far, I've read only the title story, which was less than stellar. They're going to make a movie out of it. :smack:

Eleanor of Aquitaine
07-01-2008, 10:39 AM
I've started Myth-Chief the latest (and last) Myth book by Robert Asprin. I'm also reading Ender's Game but since it's actually for work I don't consider that an entertainment book.I'll bite: What kind of work are you doing that requires reading Ender's Game?

I've started Michael Flynn's Firestar. It's very near-future science fiction (written in 1996 so it's more like alternate history now) about a private effort to get humanity back into space, spear-headed by an extremely wealthy, space-obsessed woman. It has a vaguely Heinlein-ish tone. There are some complaints on Amazon about the novel's libertarian politics, but so far it's mostly a general contempt for any policy that doesn't prioritize educating people about science and sending people into space as soon as possible.

Lok
07-01-2008, 10:59 AM
I'll bite: What kind of work are you doing that requires reading Ender's Game?
And are they hiring? :D

My current read is Star Trek: Voyages of Imagination - The Star Trek Fiction Companion. A 40th anniversary listing of all the Star Trek Fiction written since the series started. Synopsis of the books and interviews with the writers about what they wrote. Including the Strange New Worlds anthologies that were out at the time. Found some that look interesting I haven't read yet.

Gulo gulo
07-01-2008, 11:35 AM
Still wading through Don Quixote.

I just started My Ántonia last night and I'm completely sucked in.

Atrael
07-01-2008, 11:53 AM
I'll bite: What kind of work are you doing that requires reading Ender's Game?




and

And are they hiring?

I'm a computer modeling and simulations subject matter expert. I help advise on computer simulations in urban environments. I work for part of US Joint Forces Command. Recently we got a new boss. General Mattis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Mattis) who is trying desperatly to find ways of improving tactical training for small units. One of the systems he's interested in improving is the Infantry Immersive Trainer (http://www.tsjonline.com/story.php?F=2910260), which is a mixed-reality type of environment. General Mattis has refered to Ender's Game several times in his emails to us as an example of where he wants training to move towards. When a 4 star general mentions something like that? It's pretty much expected to read it.

There ya go, more than you probably wanted to know, but since hardly anyone every actually asks what I do I thought I'd splurge. :)

TheMerchandise
07-01-2008, 02:56 PM
I’m reading Clive Barker’s Imajica. It was pretty far down on my To Read List, but a good friend of mine told me it was his favorite book ever, so I moved it up. So far, I’m having trouble finding a single really likeable character, but the premise is interesting.

vetbridge
07-01-2008, 03:05 PM
Just finished Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_Six_%28novel%29). If you like techno-thrillers with a military angle, it is an excellent read.

Ponch8
07-01-2008, 03:30 PM
I'm in the middle of The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky. Lots of violence to keep it entertaining, along with a lot of philosophical ramblings that I can just skim through.

N. Sane
07-01-2008, 03:44 PM
I'm about halfway through Upon Eagle's Light by Clover Autrey. It's pretty good, especially considering it's a first novel.

I have the latest Pendragon book sitting on my to-be-read pile, and I'm hoping to be able to get to it soon.

Wakinyan
07-01-2008, 03:50 PM
Just picked up Pushkin's The Captain's Daughter, which I found for $1 at a second-hand bookshop, a fine paperback edition from 1954, and it is so far a very nice read. I like them 19th century Russians.

Which brings me to Ponch8 above, who summarize his reading of The Brothers Karamazov, with
Lots of violence to keep it entertaining, along with a lot of philosophical ramblings that I can just skim through.I would say that that novel is one of the funniest, most entertaining, dramatic, tragic, well written and thought provocative novel ever. It's the god damn Godfather of literature. "Philosophical ramblings I can just skim through", pff!, put it away you heathen!, for thou are not ready.

Khadaji
07-01-2008, 06:20 PM
Apparently our good host Khadaji is not feeling well enough (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=472965) to post right now. It's been a week…any way someone can check on him? Khadaji, I hope you won't mind if I start the thread in your absence. You can have it back when you get to feeling better!
:) Thanks for taking up my slack! I had a week of recovery to read and have a few books to review, but will do so tomorrow I think, as I just got home.

susan_foster
07-01-2008, 06:59 PM
Just finished Such a Pretty Fat by Jennifer Lancaster. Very funny.

Just took out from the library (again) Microthrills by Wendy Spero. I love how she says her mother calls her. "WENDAAAY"

Susan

Siam Sam
07-01-2008, 10:06 PM
Chiming in so I'll be subscribed to this thread. I'm still on Claudius the God, by Robert Graves. About a quarter of the way through. Great stuff!

DataZak
07-01-2008, 10:16 PM
Book #2 of Fleming's Bond novels, Live and Let Die. Only halfway through and already enjoying it more than I did with his first book, Casino Royale which I thought was bland.

Johnny L.A.
07-01-2008, 11:24 PM
I re-read Alas, Babylon Sunday.

Lucifer's Hammer is on deck for re-read.

I'm feeling a bit apocalyptic.

Jiminator
07-01-2008, 11:30 PM
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. Also started Blindness by Jose Saramago.

To the person reading Ender's Game for work, I hope you like it. I love the Enders series by Card. I'm not a big sci-fi reader but I really loved that stuff.

uncle squeegee
07-02-2008, 12:01 AM
What is the What (http://www.amazon.com/What-Vintage-Dave-Eggers/dp/0307385906/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1214974601&sr=8-1) by Dave Eggers, a lightly-fictionalized account by one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, and The Box (http://www.amazon.com/Box-Shipping-Container-Smaller-Economy/dp/0691136408/ref=pd_bbs_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1214974692&sr=8-1) by Marc Levinson, a study of how shipping containers have impacted global trade. Some good beach reading there, boy howdy.

Khadaji
07-02-2008, 02:58 AM
Finished sometime last week Soon I Will be Invincible. A fun little take about being a super-hero and a super-villain. Every-other chapter was told from the Villain's point of view with the in-between being told by a young/new super-hero.

It was fun and quirky. If you are comic fan, you will recognize most of the key players as being represented. (Batman and Superman to mention just two.) It dragged at times, but I recommend it.

Finished Seize the Night by Dean Koontz. Had an unexpected hospital stay and went to the gift shop and bought 5 authors I knew. Ended up having read at least two of those books before, but I hadn't the time to vette them. I'm a Koontz fan, but I can't recommend this at all. But I hate the time-travel-multi-dimension plot. That aside, I often enjoy the banter he has between his characters, but these fell short, felt forced.

For yet another take on the comics I am now in the middle of A Killing In Comics. A good friend came to visit Sunday and - knowing I read, but not knowing what - brought me this. A mystery novel set in the golden age of comic books, it is about a murder of one of the heads of the comic book houses. Again comic book fans will recognize the thinly disguised comic houses and their creation (again with the Batman and Superman.) Some of the plot reflects things I have read about here about the early days of comics.

The writing is only OK, but it is a fun and little bit different look at the mystery genre and I recommend it.

Sigmagirl
07-02-2008, 08:05 AM
Halfway through Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult. Verdict so far: Irritating.
Finished. Despised.

TheMerchandise
07-02-2008, 08:16 AM
Book #2 of Fleming's Bond novels, Live and Let Die. Only halfway through and already enjoying it more than I did with his first book, Casino Royale which I thought was bland.

I'm reading my way through this series as well! I just finished Diamonds are Forever, which I thought was the weakest so far. Live and Let Die is very good with a pretty suspenseful ending sequence.

Dung Beetle
07-02-2008, 08:25 AM
Finished. Despised.
Succinct. :D

I finished the Richard Matheson book. It was nothing special. I did like one story…actually it was more of a poem (The Jazz Machine). I don't care much for poetry but the rhythm and the language of this one felt good.

Khadaji, glad you're back! I was wondering what we were going to do if we didn't hear from you soon.

Atrael
07-02-2008, 08:48 AM
I re-read Alas, Babylon Sunday.

Lucifer's Hammer is on deck for re-read.

I'm feeling a bit apocalyptic.

I'm not sure if you're into this stuff, but Jerry Pournelle was just on this weeks TWiT (http://twit.tv/twit)with Leo Laport. It was about Bill Gates mostly, but it was interesting to hear his memories of the late 70's/early 80's time in the tech/computer world. It's just an audible podcast, but I thought it worth a listen.

chicken wire?
07-02-2008, 10:06 AM
Two thirds through Stalin's Ghost by Martin Cruz Smith. Is good. Follows on closely from Wolves Eat Dogs, more so than any of the previous 'Renko' books have from the one before. I'm not sure if he's on a contract or just on a roll. I don't mind either way, I love this stuff.

:D

AuntiePam
07-02-2008, 11:18 AM
Just started A Flag Full of Stars -- I think it's my last Don Robertson book. It begins on Election Day in 1948. So far I've spent time with an observant old man in a very small town in Vermont, and a philandering husband running for State Representative in Ohio. His wife pressured him to run, believing that he'll lose, and that he'll be so beaten down that he'll give up his "chippies".

I promise not to give away any more of the plot, in case SigmaGirl hasn't read this one.

The Confusion is my daytime book. It's too weighty to hold in bed.

Sigmagirl
07-02-2008, 11:21 AM
Thanks . . . I haven't!

Now reading King of the Holly Hop, 14th in the Cleveland-set Milan Jacovich mystery series by Cleveland Heights novelist Les Roberts. Nice & gritty, with Slovenian food and Rolling Rock beer.

Just Some Guy
07-02-2008, 01:12 PM
General Mattis has refered to Ender's Game several times in his emails to us as an example of where he wants training to move towards. When a 4 star general mentions something like that? It's pretty much expected to read it.

I have this vision of him also being responsible for the secret government project that involves having fourteen year olds drive giant robots.

I will warn you that the next book in the series is a sharp downward turn to mediocrity. I'd strongly recommend stopping with just the first one.

I'm currently reading Le Guin's Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea and it is pretty terrible. Of course it's an author going back to revisit a popular series twenty years after the previous one. It's not as shrill as Le Guin can be but it has its share of brick to the head moral spouting. Also since I read the original three books recently the shift in tone from what were essentially YA books (though the category didn't really exist at the time they were published) to this plodding novel is striking.

My next book on my list is Stations of the Tide by Michael Swanwick which I have repeatedly been told is brilliant by multiple sources so I have high hopes for it.

Lok
07-02-2008, 06:26 PM
I will warn you that the next book in the series is a sharp downward turn to mediocrity. I'd strongly recommend stopping with just the first one.
I will go even farther. Find the original novella. I still think it is the better length for the story.

movingfinger
07-02-2008, 10:06 PM
I just finished Black Fly Season, by Canadian writer Giles Blunt, and I enjoyed it immensely. His previous novels, Forty Words For Sorrow and The Delicate Storm were`also excellent. All take place in a small city in Ontario called Algonquin Bay.

movingfinger
07-02-2008, 10:08 PM
Currently freading Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer. It doesn't feature the usual Harry Bosch, but is very good nonetheless.

Khadaji
07-03-2008, 05:47 AM
Finished A Killing In Comics. Enjoyed it.

Take a 30s/40s style detective novel. Add to it history from the golden age of comics (thinly disguised.) Twist some of the stereotypes a little and you end up with a fun book. Comic book buffs I think you will enjoy this.

The author stresses that although it is inspired by true-life events, it is a work of fiction.

Not yet sure what is on-deck.

Dung Beetle
07-03-2008, 10:12 AM
I'm about halfway through Knockemstiff, by Donald Ray Pollock. I'm enjoying the heck out of it. If you like Joe R. Lansdale you'll probably dig this too.

Malthus
07-03-2008, 10:18 AM
I'm about halfway through Knockemstiff, by Donald Ray Pollock. I'm enjoying the heck out of it. If you like Joe R. Lansdale you'll probably dig this too.


Hey, I'm sold. I love Lansdale. :)

Sigmagirl
07-03-2008, 10:27 AM
Pollock is superb. Hope he wins awards.

AuntiePam
07-03-2008, 11:05 AM
I'm about halfway through Knockemstiff, by Donald Ray Pollock. I'm enjoying the heck out of it. If you like Joe R. Lansdale you'll probably dig this too.

That's a good comparison. Also -- Larry Brown and William Gay.

So when is the next Hap and Leonard book due? It's been awhile.

Eleanor of Aquitaine
07-03-2008, 04:18 PM
I will warn you that the next book in the series is a sharp downward turn to mediocrity. I'd strongly recommend stopping with just the first one.I really liked Speaker for the Dead, but not so much the next two.

Lamar Mundane
07-03-2008, 04:24 PM
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wrobleski.

A great first time novel, and I use that term extremely sparingly. I predict awards for this book. Best forst novel I've read in years.

AuntiePam
07-03-2008, 05:36 PM
I just finished that book (Sawtelle) -- I loved most of it. I'm pretty sure any shortcoming is mine as a reader rather than Wroblewski as a writer.

Catamount
07-03-2008, 05:37 PM
I really liked Speaker for the Dead, but not so much the next two.
The series took a sharp downward decline once Ender married The Whiniest Woman in the Universe. He should have stayed with Jane.

Just Some Guy
07-04-2008, 03:20 AM
I really liked Speaker for the Dead, but not so much the next two.

My problems with Speaker for the Dead were two fold: the plot required that large numbers of professionals be completely incompetent at the basic functions of their job to work and the deus ex Ender.

Dropping the details into a spoiler box here since there's a reader in the thread who may pick it up...

The first is that the plot hinges on biologists not understanding the basic life cycle of all of the living things on that planet. Not just the piggies, but the animals they've domesticated, the plants they're breeding, and the ones they've genetically engineered. You do not skip over understandings that have been at the center of agriculture since 4000BC to go straight to gene tampering. It's horrifically foolish.

But that's just the plot. My bigger problem is the characters particularly Ender who is so perfect that he magically fixes any problem that he encounters just by being there. A broken home formed by decades of lies, neglect and abuse suddenly becomes better because Ender sits down and visits with them for twenty minutes. The people who are harmed by a lifetime of deception to the point that the lies may kill them are more than willing to forgive just because Ender states facts. Ender shows up so there are no consequences for anyone else; things just are magically better.

blondebear
07-04-2008, 09:12 AM
I'm about halfway through Tim Dorsey's latest, Atomic Lobster (http://www.amazon.com/Atomic-Lobster-Novel-Tim-Dorsey/dp/0060829699/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1215180576&sr=1-1). Serge and Coleman out on the road again, with the accompanying mayhem, history lessons, sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

Next up is George R. Stewart's classic, Names on the Land (http://www.amazon.com/Names-Land-Historical-Place-Naming-Classics/dp/1590172736/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1215180488&sr=8-1).

delphica
07-05-2008, 07:25 PM
I'm about halfway through Knockemstiff, by Donald Ray Pollock. I'm enjoying the heck out of it. If you like Joe R. Lansdale you'll probably dig this too.

Awesome, I made a note of this. I love Lansdale, or possibly I just love Leonard.

I'm currently reading (very nearly done) Summer of Night by Dan Simmons. Horror novel, set in 1960, a group of 6th grade boys battle an demonic entity that has taken up residence in their small Midwestern town. It's not a great work of literature, but I'm finding it pretty engaging and moving along briskly.

I also picked up The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, the sequel to the National Book award winner. It's very adorable in the same way so far. It's a children's novel, set in the present day, but it has a very retro feel to it (which extends to the cover art and design). It's possibly a little twee, but very nice if you are a fan of Ellen Tibbits-type children's fiction.

And in between the June and July threads I read Stephen Carter's New England White. It was somewhat similar in tone to his first novel, The Emperor of Ocean Park, but the plot came together a little better. The wife of an Ivy league college president investigates the murder of a controversial faculty member.

Cunctator
07-05-2008, 07:54 PM
I've got two on the go at the moment:

The Quest for Shakespeare: the Bard of Avon and the Church of Rome, by Joseph Pearce. A fascinating work that examines Shakespeare's religious views.

Old Friends and New Fancies, by Sybil Brinton. It was one of the first Jane Austen "sequel" works, written in 1913. The author manages to weave together the main characters from all six of Austen's novels.

DoctorJ
07-05-2008, 11:09 PM
The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon. It's an odd mix of alternative history (Israel collapsed in 1948 and a homeland was created for the Jews in the Alaska panhandle) and detective story. It's taking me a long time to get through it just because my attention span hasn't been much lately, but it's an excellent book.

TheMerchandise
07-06-2008, 08:14 AM
I finished Imajica and enjoyed it, although I think it could have benefitted from a 100 page trim. While I'm waiting for the sequel, I started The Plot Against America by Philip Roth.

A year or two ago, I saw everyone and their mother reading this book on the train and I was under the very false impression that it was nonfiction. :smack: I'm just a chapter in and I like the tone so far. Think it will be a qucik and interesting read.

Catamount
07-06-2008, 08:47 AM
I gave up on All Men Are Mortal when I realized that the immortal guy just happened to be in the thick of things during the most important parts of European history. Just happened to get frustrated with his old life and latch on to a guy who just happened to be one of the movers and shakers in the next big phase of things, you know. :rolleyes:

Finished Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus as well. Started on the next book in that pile in which Lucky Starr visits The Big Sun of Mercury. This volume also starts off with a forward apologizing for the out-of-date science.

Dung Beetle
07-08-2008, 07:39 AM
Finished Knockemstiff and it was really good. I'll be keeping an eye out for more by Donald Pollock.

Then I read:

Aftermath Inc.: cleaning up after CSI goes home, by Gil Reavill. It was okay.

A Nation of Wimps: the high cost of invasive parenting, by Hara Estroff Marano. Also just okay. I'm a fearful and overprotective parent sometimes, so I thought there'd be more here for me, but it mostly focused on parents who run their kids' school lives. It did make me decide that I shouldn't have my sixteen year old call me every day when she gets home.

Wolves of the Calla, by Stephen King. This was my audiobook; I'm re-"reading" the Dark Tower series this year. The writing style irritated the hell out of me, and I just didn't find this a particularly fascinating installment of the series.

Just starting on The question of God : C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud debate God, love, sex, and the meaning of life, by Armand Nicholi. I'm not sure who I'm rooting for here. :D

Sigmagirl
07-08-2008, 07:56 AM
Reading An Expert in Murder: A Josephine Tey Mystery by Nicola Upson. Takes real-life Scottish author and playwright Tey and involves her in a murder mystery. Good, but I'm not really engaged so far.

delphica
07-08-2008, 08:58 AM
Finished Summer of Night by Dan Simmons, a decent if not particularly innovative horror novel, and The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, a delightful if not particularly action-packed children's novel.

I started Dreamland by Kevin Baker. It's historical fiction, set in New York City in the 1890s. So far it's okay ... but I think it has that historical fiction overkill thing going on. One of the characters works at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Of course she does! Where else could she possibly work? Oh noes, the General Slocum is on fire! Of course it is!

Atrael
07-08-2008, 11:18 AM
I just finished Map of Bones by James Rollins. Mostly a fluff adventure book with some pseudo-science thrown in. I started reading The Sky People (http://www.amazon.com/Sky-People-S-M-Stirling/dp/0765353768/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1215533554&sr=1-7) by Stirling, but I have no idea why I picked it up. I have no interest in it at all. So I shelved it until I run out of other things to read. I think I'll start The Last Oracle (http://www.amazon.com/Last-Oracle-Novel-Sigma-Force/dp/0061230944/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1215533650&sr=1-1) by Rollins (again). I picked it up a week or so ago.

Finished Myth-Chief a few days ago. Typical Myth book, although I was sad that this is the way the series ends with his death.

Sorry that you didn't care for the Lost Fleet series Eleanor, but I'm going to grab the first of the Honor Harrington books from Baen Free Library (http://www.baen.com/library/) to see if I like it.

I suspect that this will be one of those things that whatever the first way you read something was, that's the only way you'll enjoy it.

CalMeacham
07-08-2008, 12:31 PM
Just finished Bugliosi's The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, and am finally starting Jules Verne's Meridiana. This has to be one of his most obscure works -- Amazon doesn't list any recent reprintings -- everythings from arounfd 1875. (I'm on a big Verne kick of late. I've read six Verne books I haven't read before, or at least new translations, and have two more in my queue after this -- The Golden Mountain and The Mighty Orinoco -- both translated (in this form) for the first time into English in the past couple of years.

CalMeacham
07-08-2008, 03:10 PM
Not as rare as I thought --Meridiana has been published under other titles. The 1964 ARCO edition and a more recent paperback edition:

http://www.amazon.com/Measuring-Meridian-Adventures-Englishmen-Russians/dp/1410100286/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1215547657&sr=1-4

Eleanor of Aquitaine
07-08-2008, 04:33 PM
I'm reading Georgette Heyer's novel Venetia, and it may turn out to be my favorite Heyer book yet. If you like Jane Austen you should give Heyer's Regency romances a try.

This one has a hilarious Regency version of the melodramatic teenager. In this passage he's returning home after proposing rather violently to Venetia and receiving a severe "set down" from her:

"It had been Oswald's intention to have maintained an impenetrable silence on the events that had shattered his faith in women and transformed him, at one blow, from an ardent lover into an incurable misogynist; and had his parents, or even his two oldest sisters, had enough sensibility to enable them to perceive that the care-free youth who had ridden away from his home before noon returned at dinner-time an embittered cynic he would have refused to answer any of their anxious questions, but would have fobbed them off instead in a manner calculated to convince them that he had passed through a soul-searing experience. Unfortunately, the sensibilities of all four were so blunted that they noticed nothing unusual in his haggard mien and monosyllabic utterances, but talked throughout dinner of commonplaces, and in a cheerful style which could not but make him wonder how he came to be born into such an insensate family."

MarcusF
07-08-2008, 04:53 PM
Just reread Dorothy L Sayers Gaudy Night, and now I'm rereading S M Stirling's Conquistador (a busy time and don't feel like trying anything new!).

Gaudy Night is as enjoyable as ever with the development in the relationship between Peter & Harriet. Not much as a who-done-it but a good novel.

Conquistador I'm not so sure about. I'm a Stirling fan - okay I'm a sucker for easy reading alternative histories with a military bent - but, apart from the Draka books which I loath, this is my least favourite but I'm not sure why. It's got all the normal ingredients but somehow it doesn't show the same flair and breadth of imagination as the Peshwar Lancers, or the Island in the Sea of Time or Dies the Fire series.

Catamount
07-08-2008, 05:46 PM
Finished:
Greenmantle--it was okay, but the part where Ali was at the bonfire thinking of a name for the horned god was beautiful. The story was good but it just didn't click.

The Gold-Bug and Other Tales--I love Dover Thrift editions. Great literature for under $5.

Gave up on:
Alchemy & Academe. As a reviewer on GoodReads put it "These were very seventies...and it seemed like so many of the authors were high - and not in a good way."

This is why I tend to avoid fantasy/sci-fi short story anthologies. Except for The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, which is consistently wonderful.

New books:
Charles de Lint's Spiritwalk which is a sequel to Moonheart. I don't see how, the first book wrapped up all the loose threads that needed wrapping up.

George Eliot's Middlemarch because I've been craving some Victorian fiction in the worst way

Fabiola Cabeza de Baca's We Fed Them Cactus because the title was intriguing. It's about Mexican rancheros on the llano (desert plains) at the turn of the last century.

AuntiePam
07-12-2008, 10:54 PM
Holes by Louis Sachar. I enjoy a lot of YA fiction, especially when the author doesn't talk down to me. I wish there'd been more books like this when I was a kid. Maybe they were around and I just didn't know about them. Seems like all the library had for me was Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and Oz. My kids got to read Blume, Cormier, Hinton, and Tolkien.

I'm almost finished with Pere Goriot by Balzac. Something I've never understood but have been fascinated by in historical fiction is finances -- how people got and managed their incomes. Some people never touched a hard coin but managed to get by. Some folks had pensions (from who knows where) without working a day in their lives. Parents disinherited their children. Children put their parents in the poor house. Poor people sold their clothes and household items regularly. Some working people got paid once a year! It's mind-boggling. I need to get that book about everyday life in Victorian London, but I've forgotten the title and author.

I'm waiting for some stuff from Amazon -- epic fantasy by Joe Abercrombie, the first Elvis Cole book, the Evelyn Keyes bio, a Victorian murder mystery, and The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell.

Declan
07-13-2008, 02:03 AM
I re-read Alas, Babylon Sunday.

Lucifer's Hammer is on deck for re-read.

I'm feeling a bit apocalyptic.

Recently I was able to read On the Beach and Alas Babylon back to back and what I noticed was for two peer novels, how OTB got it so wrong. Twas weird.

Declan

Declan
07-13-2008, 02:08 AM
Just finished On Basilisk Station, the first book in David Weber's "Honor Harrington" series, and am waiting for the second book in the series to arrive from the library. In the meantime am contenting myself by rereading sections of Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon.

A complimentary series for folks who like DW is Elizabeth Moon and her Serano series. Less info dumps , more politics and an even split of space opera and military action.

Declan

Rayne Man
07-13-2008, 07:44 AM
Mercator by Nicholas Crane. This book not only details the life of this great cartographer but vividly describes the perilous times he lived in. This was the 16th century where he not only had to contend with the plague, but also the whims of the Catholic and Lutheran churches. Both of this bodies could take exception to the "wrong" sort of information on a map. At one stage he was imprisoned by the Spanish Inquisition for "heretical" statements. He was lucky, some of his co-defendants (including a 75 year-old woman) were buried alive.

chrissysissystar
07-13-2008, 11:50 AM
Was on vacation last week and got the chance to run through some of the stack of to be reads.

Finished Halfway to the Grave (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0061245089) by Jeaniene Frost. The first in a new series of what my friend call Vampire Porn. I would contend it is a bit more like Vampire Action Romance but tomatoes tomahtoes.

Next was Fearless Fourteen (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0312349513) by Janet Evanovich. I really really love this series. She's doing a good job of keeping the series with in her world set. No diversions to other locales, no stories that deviate wildly from the prior novels.

Read two CSI novels, CSI: New York: Four Walls (http://www.amazon.com/CSI-New-York-Four-Walls/dp/1416513434/ref=sr_11_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1215967107&sr=11-1) by Keith R. A. De Candido and CSI: Nevada Rose (http://www.amazon.com/CSI-Nevada-Crime-Scene-Investigation/dp/1416544992/ref=sr_11_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1215967194&sr=11-1) by Jerome Priesler. These serializations are really good and an interesting way to be introduced to different authors and their styles.

The last one I finished was The Full Burn: On the Set, at the Bar, Behind the Wheel, and Over the Edge with Hollywood Stuntmen (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1596910232) by Kevin Conley. It was okay but not quite what I was expecting. The writer was okay but I was hoping for more. More what, I don't know.

I'm about halfway through Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (http://www.amazon.com/Lord-John-Brotherhood-Blade-Grey/dp/0385337493/ref=pd_bbs_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1215967608&sr=1-2) by Diana Gabaldon. It's the second in a series spun-off from her Outlander series.

Eleanor of Aquitaine
07-13-2008, 12:58 PM
I just finished The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell. I liked it despite a fairly ridiculous plot. The writing is wonderful, but I'm not sure the author ever read any science fiction before she started this.

AuntiePam: (spoilers for Russell's books in general)
She kills everybody off in this one, too, but at least this time you know about it from the beginning since the book begins with the expedition's "lone survivor". The woman is vicious.

Malthus
07-13-2008, 01:18 PM
Just finished Kockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock. Some minor spoilers follow.

I'm a bit ambivalent about this one. On the one hand, I certainly enjoyed the writer. He has a real "voice" which make his somewhat entwined short stories very interesting to read.

On the other hand, geeze louise the book is just so relentlessly depressing. Everyone but everyone in this place is a total fuckup. They are sometimes offered minor chances for redemption, but inevitably turn them down. There is no love in this place, it sounds very much as if everyone involved is living in hell (and mostly deserve it for their selfishness, vileness and stupidity).

I wonder how much the fiction resembles the place, given that the authour did in fact grow up in a town of the same name ...

LavenderBlue
07-13-2008, 05:09 PM
Chef's Night Out: From Four Star Restaurants to Neighborhood Favorites 100 Top Chefs Tell You Where (and How!) to Enjoy America's Best by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page

and

The Cradle King: The Life of James VI & I, the First Monarch of a United Great Britain by Alan Stewart.

eleanorigby
07-13-2008, 07:27 PM
Eleanor--if you liked Venetia, you'll like Frederica by Heyer. I tend to like her older heroines better. Love Heyer!

I'm reading Evelyn Waugh's Put Out More Flags, so far I'm meh--it's funny in parts.

Cheez_Whia
07-13-2008, 07:51 PM
I'm reading the His Dark Materials (http://www.amazon.com/Materials-Trilogy-Golden-Compass-Spyglass/dp/0375842381/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1215996448&sr=8-1) trilogy by Philip Pullman. I'm halfway through the second book, The Subtle Knife. It's interesting and well written.

Eleanor of Aquitaine
07-13-2008, 10:22 PM
Eleanor--if you liked Venetia, you'll like Frederica by Heyer. I tend to like her older heroines better. Love Heyer!I've read Frederica, it's another of my favorites, along with The Unknown Ajax. I still have a big box of them to go through but I haven't run across a bad one yet. I like the older heroines too. Heyer is one of those authors that I can't believe nobody told me about sooner.

AuntiePam
07-14-2008, 01:27 AM
AuntiePam: (spoilers for Russell's books in general)
She kills everybody off in this one, too, but at least this time you know about it from the beginning since the book begins with the expedition's "lone survivor". The woman is vicious.

Oh dear. Thanks for the heads up.

Finished Pere Goriot and decided to stay in the 19th century, so I started Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev. I'm enjoying it very much, but I think Blazanov is a prick.

Khadaji
07-14-2008, 06:01 AM
I just finished The Awakened Mage the second and last in the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker story. This is a mixed review. I enjoyed the ending, but strongly feel this could have been told in one book, not two. It has taken me a long time to finish this book and to be honest, the first 3/4 of this dragged horribly. The last 1/4 was enjoyable, but a good editor would have cut the two of them into one.

ThirdCultureKid
07-14-2008, 07:00 AM
I've finally gotten the time to do a "Summer of the Classics"!

I'm in India, working in Microfinance for two months. The downside is that everyone here is terrified of letting the "poor little white girl" out of the house alone (or at all without a driver/chaperon). The upside is that I've discovered Penguin Classics go for 50 rupees a pop (that's about a dollar) here.

So far I've read Frankenstein, Crime and Punishment, Candide, Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, Journey to the Centre of the Earth (which starts out in Hamburg and Copenhagen, where I lived for 18 years! How did I never know?), and am almost finished with the Collected Sherlock Holmes. All have so far been excellent.
Sitting on my nightstand are Persuasion and Northanger Abbey by Austen, Dafoe's Moll Flanders and Kipling's Kim (highly appropriate, eh?)

Also, I just finished Rushdie's new book, Enchantress of Florence. It's pretty good, actually. I adore Rushdie's style of writing, but I feel most of his books taper off around the middle (see: Midnight's Children. Great premise that kind of choked and died halfway through. Yes, I get that that's metaphorical for India's unfulfilled promise and all, but 'cmon. Don't make the same mistake again in Shalimar the Clown). But he seems to be getting better in Enchantress. Still a little disjointed, but if you're into Mughal India/Renaissance Italy, you'll probably like it. There's a lot of "blink-and-you'll-miss-it" style in-jokes that are quite amusing, if you've done some reading on the respective periods.

CalMeacham
07-14-2008, 07:36 AM
Just finished Bugliosi's The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, and am finally starting Jules Verne's Meridiana. This has to be one of his most obscure works -- Amazon doesn't list any recent reprintings -- everythings from arounfd 1875. (I'm on a big Verne kick of late. I've read six Verne books I haven't read before, or at least new translations, and have two more in my queue after this -- The Golden Mountain and The Mighty Orinoco -- both translated (in this form) for the first time into English in the past couple of years.


Meridiana is an interesting book, especially if you've read John Keay's The Great Arc: The Dramatic Tale of How India was Mapped and Everest was Named. Verne's book seems to take the sam,e situation and apply it to Africa -- what if, in 1854, Sir Everest and an Anglo-Russian expedition tried to surveuy an arc of the Meridian through South Africa? It seems to be the same Everest, although Verne never says so. But he des cribes the surveying procedure just as Keay does (Keay, for his part, doesn't mention Verne or his book. I suspect he didn't know about it.)


I'm on Le Superbe Orinoque now.

Khadaji
07-16-2008, 08:06 AM
Just finished The Devil You Know by Mike Carey. I enjoyed it. I put it in a similar genre as Butcher's Dresden series. It seemed a little darker to me, but I recommend it. The second one isn't out, but is in the works. Butcher fans, give it a try.

Hypno-Toad
07-16-2008, 08:28 AM
I recently finished Enigma: Battle for the Code (http://www.amazon.com/Enigma-Battle-Code-Hugh-Sebag-Montefiore/dp/0471490350/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1216214646&sr=1-2) and am now enjoying Samurai: the World of the Warrior (http://www.amazon.com/Samurai-World-Warrior-Stephen-Turnbull/dp/1841769517/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1216214831&sr=1-1). A good basic intro to the subject.

Eleanor of Aquitaine
07-16-2008, 09:09 AM
I've just started Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman. So far I'm not thrilled with it: the writing style is very annoying. I hope the content begins to compensate for that soon.

Dung Beetle
07-16-2008, 10:28 AM
Currently reading The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride. I was just fiddling with it and it drew me in, so it's an interesting, well-written book. However, I don't know that I'd say I'm enjoying it!

It's on my daughter's summer reading list for school along with The Glass Castle, and they are similar books in that they're both memoirs of terrible childhoods with anecdote after anecdote just piling up until you go numb. Color of Water also has chapters describing the mother's childhood (terrible, natch).

Siam Sam
07-17-2008, 10:12 PM
Finished Claudius the God, by Robert Graves. Excellent, especially if you're interested in history in general and the Roman Empire in particular.

Today, I'll begin Reefer Men: The Rise and Fall of a Billionaire Drugs Ring, by Tony Thompson. The true story of a motley group of drug smugglers whose "one last haul," the one that would allow them all to retire wealthy, went radically wrong, and they went on the lam for 15 years. Naturally, there's a strong Bangkok connection. A friend recommended it after he reviewed it last year here (http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2007/09/09/book/book_30049275.php) in a local publication. (In fact, he slipped me the copy he reviewed, which he got for free from the publishers.)

In my friend's review, he includes this: "Having gone through millions in mansions, yachts and racing cars, the Shaffer brothers copped a plea and were released in 1998. They launched their own entertainment company in Santa Monica. In 1999 they allegedly sold the film rights to their story for US$1 million. Brad Pitt was lined up to play Bill Shaffer and the project, provisionally titled Smugglers Moon, was due to begin filming after Ocean's Eleven. The film has, however, stalled at the development stage and no progress has been made since the original announcement."

Khadaji
07-18-2008, 07:15 AM
Just finished Rain Fall by Barry Eisler. It wasn't bad, although the tech in it is rather dubious. I usually try to let that stuff slide (although this was glaring.)

John Rain is an ex special forces soldier turned jazz-loving hit man. Part Japanese, part American, he now kills people in Tokyo. His rules are: No women, no children and every hit has to be "principle."

Eisler peppers his work with Japanese phrases and descriptions of Tokyo and Japan (which I enjoyed, having been to Japan a few times.)

It was slow at times and I would go so far as to say it just wasn't fast-paced enough to be a good spy novel.

But it was OK.

gigi
07-18-2008, 12:03 PM
Halfway through Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult. Verdict so far: Irritating.
Just finished Nineteen Minutes. Predictable Jodi Picoult--her style is starting to bug me.

Now I'm on to The Gravedigger's Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates. Very depressing and disturbing so far, but good.

The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon. It's an odd mix of alternative history (Israel collapsed in 1948 and a homeland was created for the Jews in the Alaska panhandle) and detective story. It's taking me a long time to get through it just because my attention span hasn't been much lately, but it's an excellent book.I believe the Coen brothers are planning to make a movie of this.

I just finished The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell. I liked it despite a fairly ridiculous plot. The writing is wonderful, but I'm not sure the author ever read any science fiction before she started this.I loved that one and it left me wanting more; unfortunately the sequel Children of God didn't do it for me.

Still wading through Don Quixote.

I just started My Ántonia last night and I'm completely sucked in.Heh. These are both on my long-term pile, which I never get to because my head is turned by bright shiny books on buy-one-get-one-half-off.

Gulo gulo
07-18-2008, 12:48 PM
Finished My Ántonia. I have realized that I have a weakness for 1800's farming/homesteading coming-of-age type books. They always find a way to the top of the "to-read" pile.

Also read:

Superdove: How the Pigeon Took Manhattan ... And the World by Courtney Humphries (http://www.amazon.com/Superdove-Pigeon-Took-Manhattan-World/dp/0061259160). Great book on the history, culinary and cultural impacts of...the pigeon! I was hesitant that pigeons had enough going for them to interest me for a whole book but it only took a few pages before I was hooked.

In a rare moment of enabling, my husband was in a bookstore, called me and asked for some title suggestions that he could surprise me with. I mentioned that I had never read Tarzan. He came home with The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian (http://www.amazon.com/Coming-Conan-Cimmerian-Original-Adventures/dp/0345461517). Oh well, he tried. Great collection and fun enough to want to continue with the next volume.

The Book of Lost Things (http://www.amazon.com/Book-Lost-Things-Novel/dp/B0018SY6BW) blew me away. Loved the grimness of the story and it ended just right.

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti (http://www.amazon.com/Good-Thief-Hannah-Tinti/dp/0385337450) was also a wonderful read. An orphan is adopted by his 'brother' and he enters a life of thieves and con-artists. (There's also a little resurrectionist action.)

I just started Tim Cahill's Jaguars Ripped My Flesh (http://www.amazon.com/Jaguars-Ripped-Flesh-Tim-Cahill/dp/0679770798) which is proving to be fun.

Roderick Femm
07-18-2008, 01:00 PM
Just finished my first Joe Pike novel (Elvis Cole's sometime partner), The Watchman. I enjoyed it a lot, although I don't know how Pike is going to develop as a main character. There was some effort to humanize him, but he is basically just a very efficient operator. With this character, if the plot's good (this one was a tiny bit predictable) then the book will be good.

Now I am into some historical fiction by Alexandre Dumas. I was going to read The Man in the Iron Mask when I discovered at the bookstore that it is the third book of a trilogy. So I am starting at the beginning with The Vicomte de Bragelonne. All of these are sequels to The Three Musketeers, so the foursome is apparently getting back together for some more derring-do. 170 pages in and we have only actually seen Athos and D'Artagnan so far. Anyway, it's a surprisingly good read, and I don't even mind jumping to the back all the time to read the notes.

This book appears to be about the restoration of Charles II in England around 1660, but it's also all a big setup for the climactic events in Iron Mask. The Vicomte title character, by the way, is the son of Athos, but he hasn't done much yet. I mostly only have time to read on the commuter train and at lunch, but this is good enough that I'm wanting to spend more of my leisure time reading it.


Roddy

AuntiePam
07-18-2008, 01:34 PM
Finished My Ántonia. I have realized that I have a weakness for 1800's farming/homesteading coming-of-age type books. They always find a way to the top of the "to-read" pile.


I like these too. Little House on the Prairie for adults. You might like The Homesman by Glendon Swarthout. A "homesman" was the guy who escorted women back east to civilization after homesteading life drove them crazy.

I'd like to hear about other titles in this genre.

Hypno-Toad
07-18-2008, 01:47 PM
Just finished my samurai book and am now moving on to London: A History. It's less than 200 pages, so it will surely not be too in-depth. And that's OK by me.

queenquimarie
07-18-2008, 02:12 PM
Making an effort to read more Shakespeare this summer so I'm about half way through MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. So far I find it very amusing.

Surly Chick
07-18-2008, 02:28 PM
I've recently gotten into C.J. Sansom's Matthew Shardlake series. I've just finished Sovereign and am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the next installment, Revelation, from amazon.co.uk.

Gordon Urquhart
07-18-2008, 05:50 PM
Two days ago, I finished The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and (really) two minutes later started Unweaving the Rainbow, also by Dawkins. I've been reading a lot of Dawkins lately -- his conversational style of writing about Heavy Stuff is breathtaking.

I'm also about halfway through Plum Pie by P.G. Wodehouse. Not one of his better efforts, I'd have to say -- I'm enjoying the observations on American life interspersed between the short stories more than the stories themselves -- but fair-to-middling Wodehouse is better than many writers' best stuff.

Siam Sam
07-18-2008, 07:18 PM
Now I am into some historical fiction by Alexandre Dumas. I was going to read The Man in the Iron Mask when I discovered at the bookstore that it is the third book of a trilogy. So I am starting at the beginning with The Vicomte de Bragelonne. All of these are sequels to The Three Musketeers, so the foursome is apparently getting back together for some more derring-do. 170 pages in and we have only actually seen Athos and D'Artagnan so far. Anyway, it's a surprisingly good read, and I don't even mind jumping to the back all the time to read the notes.
I've read the entire Musketeers saga, and that last trilogy I read out of order: The Man in the Iron Mask (part 3), then The Vicomte de Bragelonne (1), then Louise de la Valliere (2), and years apart, due to the difficulty in finding them over here, although that's improved dramatically in recent years. Still enjoyed it, though. That trilogy was published as all one book in French, I believe, called The Man in the Iron Mask, but the English publishers broke it up into three.

AuntiePam
07-20-2008, 02:09 PM
I'm about halfway into The Sparrow. :( I adore all the characters. Since I know that all of them (save one) will die, I've been torturing myself imagining how it will happen. If they're dissected or eaten by the beings on Rakhut, I don't think I'll be able to bear it. But I'm staying away from Amazon and Wiki -- I don't want to know. Part of me wants to put the book down right now.

Eleanor of Aquitaine, what did you think was ridiculous about the plot? I'm okay with it so far, even with space travel via asteroid. But then I don't nitpick science -- I'll accept anything.

Catamount
07-20-2008, 03:15 PM
Finished Spiritwalk last night. I like it better than Moonheart, but I don't know why. I think it's because I like Blue as the main character better than Sara and Kieran. He actually gets things done while the other two hem and haw and argue about which ancient Celtic bard they should follow.

Currently reading:

The Black Gryphon by Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon--I've had the other two books in the trilogy for years, but I only recently gave up on the used bookstore quest for this volume. I got it from Messrs. Barnes et Nobél instead. So far it's great, better than I remembered.

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruíz Zafon--I'm only about ten chapters into this, but it's great as well. It's hard to put this down.

Different Seasons by Stephen King--so far this is the only King book I've wanted for my very own. It's the Apt Pupil cover, but that doesn't change the stories inside any.

Eleanor of Aquitaine
07-20-2008, 06:36 PM
I'm about halfway into The Sparrow. :( I adore all the characters. Since I know that all of them (save one) will die, I've been torturing myself imagining how it will happen. If they're dissected or eaten by the beings on Rakhut, I don't think I'll be able to bear it. But I'm staying away from Amazon and Wiki -- I don't want to know. Part of me wants to put the book down right now.

Eleanor of Aquitaine, what did you think was ridiculous about the plot? I'm okay with it so far, even with space travel via asteroid. But then I don't nitpick science -- I'll accept anything.I'm okay with using the asteroid as a spaceship. The first place I was really pulled out of the story was the chapter where Jimmy realizes that the signal is coming from Alpha Centauri, he calls a handful of his friends over in the middle of the night to hear it, and within the space of a few hours the characters have seriously decided to immediately put together a mission to visit the aliens, which will be funded by the Jesuits and staffed by - themselves! It was just a shockingly unrealistic chapter, and it was a prelude to a highly unlikely mission.

But I loved the characters, too, and I really did like the book despite of several flaws I perceived in the plot. The writing is wonderful.

I'm reading Children of God now. It picks up immediately after the end of The Sparrow.

Khadaji
07-20-2008, 07:13 PM
Just finished Blood Engines by T. A. Pratt.

A thoroughly mediocre urban fantasy, Ms. Pratt tries way too hard to make most of her characters morally ambiguous. I'm not sure I caught her goal, but perhaps she just was trying to buck clichés. Regardless of her goal, it didn't work for me. By making her main characters morally ambiguous, she made me not care one wit about the outcome.

I didn't hate it, but can't be bothered to read the sequels.

Cunctator
07-20-2008, 08:08 PM
I've just finished Decline and Fall, by Evelyn Waugh. Hilarious!

AuntiePam
07-20-2008, 08:15 PM
I'm okay with using the asteroid as a spaceship. The first place I was really pulled out of the story was the chapter where Jimmy realizes that the signal is coming from Alpha Centauri, he calls a handful of his friends over in the middle of the night to hear it, and within the space of a few hours the characters have seriously decided to immediately put together a mission to visit the aliens, which will be funded by the Jesuits and staffed by - themselves! It was just a shockingly unrealistic chapter, and it was a prelude to a highly unlikely mission.

That part made me wish we had more background about what kind of shape the world was in at that time. It's not that far in the future, but putting wood in a fireplace is verboten, some people (the vultures) are indentured servants, and other people (like Jimmy Quinn) are extremely well-educated but are grateful for crap jobs in their field.

The fact that this group of people saw nothing pie-in-the-sky about a mission and their place in it made me wonder if (1) space travel was commonplace, and (2) competent, educated people were rare. And it made me wonder how powerful the church was, that they could accomplish all that.

Roderick Femm
07-20-2008, 08:35 PM
I've read the entire Musketeers saga, and that last trilogy I read out of order: The Man in the Iron Mask (part 3), then The Vicomte de Bragelonne (1), then Louise de la Valliere (2), and years apart, due to the difficulty in finding them over here, although that's improved dramatically in recent years. Still enjoyed it, though. That trilogy was published as all one book in French, I believe, called The Man in the Iron Mask, but the English publishers broke it up into three.Good og, that would have been about 2000 pages. Surely it wasn't one volume. Perhaps a distinction between a good old Victorian three-volume novel vs. what we call a trilogy.

I'm finding the book very enjoyable, although the pro-royalist divine-right-of-kings point of view of the main characters is a bit hard to swallow. I have to really suspend my political self while I'm reading.


Roddy

PastAllReason
07-20-2008, 08:56 PM
Yesterday I bought and read The Ridiculous Race (http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/0805087400?ie=UTF8&tag=httpwwwgoodco-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0805087400&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2). It is a really entertaining summer read. The tag of the book is "26,000 miles, 2 guys, 1 globe, no planes". The ridiculous race is a race around the world between two men, one circumnavigating by heading west, the other heading east. The rules: no taking planes, first one back wins. The writers are professional writers in the television industry, one writing with My Name is Earl, the other with shows like American Dad. This is what they did on their summer vacation in 2007.

Amid the stack of other books I'm currently reading is An Imperial Possession (http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/0140148221?ie=UTF8&tag=httpwwwgoodco-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0140148221&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2) by David Mattingly. It's about Britain's conquest and occupation by Rome. I'm about 100 pages in so far, and am quite impressed by the quality of the writing.

Siam Sam
07-20-2008, 10:41 PM
Good og, that would have been about 2000 pages. Surely it wasn't one volume. Perhaps a distinction between a good old Victorian three-volume novel vs. what we call a trilogy.
Yes, the mind boggles. Actually, I see I was wrong that the entire book was called The Man in the Iron Mask. It was called The Vicomte de Bragellone, and The Man in the Iron Mask was the third part of the English version.

But David Coward, who wrote the intro to my Oxford World's Classics editions of all three, says of The Vicomte de Bragellone: "It [Vicomte] is by far the longest segment [of the entire Musketeer saga] and is usually published in English in three distinct parts: The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Louise de la Valliere and The Man in the Iron Mask."

I recall a Frenchman in another thread who expressed puzzlement that the book he knew had been shortened to just the third part and renamed The Man in the Iron Mask. He was unaware that the earlier parts of the book were available in English under the other titles.

Dung Beetle
07-21-2008, 08:12 AM
Just finished Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned From Judy Blume, by Jennifer O'Connell. Mmmmm, delicious fluff. It's a collection of essays by female writers about how the Blume books affected them. The book mentioned most often was Deenie, one of the few I never read, but I enjoyed reminiscing about all the others. I was tempted to read some of them again (then again, maybe I won't). ;)

I didn't think much of The Color of Water (mentioned in my last post). His mother was a crotchety old nut who denied her white Jewishness and founded a black church. Bleah.

Future Londonite
07-21-2008, 08:14 AM
I ditched Affluenza after seeing that Waterstone's has all Terry Pratchett books at a 3for2 sale (plus a ton of other authors as well)

Eleanor of Aquitaine
07-21-2008, 09:12 AM
That part made me wish we had more background about what kind of shape the world was in at that time. It's not that far in the future, but putting wood in a fireplace is verboten, some people (the vultures) are indentured servants, and other people (like Jimmy Quinn) are extremely well-educated but are grateful for crap jobs in their field.

The fact that this group of people saw nothing pie-in-the-sky about a mission and their place in it made me wonder if (1) space travel was commonplace, and (2) competent, educated people were rare. And it made me wonder how powerful the church was, that they could accomplish all that.Yes, that's my complaint. The author didn't provide enough background material to make it rational for that particular group of people to form such an expedition. Anne Edwards voiced the reader's objections ("This is crazy!", etc.) but they weren't answered to my satisfaction.

Later on in the book, the crew makes elementary mistakes and bizarre decisions which are carefully crafted to put the characters in a particular emotional situation. The book reminds me a little of an M. Night Shyamalan movie: the writer doesn't let petty details like a realistic plot get in the way of the atmosphere he wants to create.

I'm about halfway through Children of God, and I don't think I'm going to like it as much as The Sparrow. For one thing, my objections to the staffing of the first Jesuit expedition pale in comparison to my thoughts on this second one. But what is bothering me more is that the author's treatment of her characters, particularly Emilio Sandoz, is beginning to verge on emotional pornography. She repeatedly gives them a glimpse of peace and then snatches it away.

gigi
07-21-2008, 09:33 AM
I'm about halfway through Children of God, and I don't think I'm going to like it as much as The Sparrow. For one thing, my objections to the staffing of the first Jesuit expedition pale in comparison to my thoughts on this second one. But what is bothering me more is that the author's treatment of her characters, particularly Emilio Sandoz, is beginning to verge on emotional pornography. She repeatedly gives them a glimpse of peace and then snatches it away.
It's like she had to write Children of God to give some sort of closure and answer questions, but it runs out of steam and creativity compared to The Sparrow, which I loved.

Scribble
07-21-2008, 09:34 AM
I just got done with City of Djinns, by William Dalrymple. It was very interesting, very absorbing, and a lot of fun.

Now that I've read that, I have to move on to his more recent book, The Last Mughal.

TheMerchandise
07-21-2008, 10:27 AM
I just finished The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stround. It seemed like something I should like, but I found the main character really bratty, annoying, and sometimes downright despicable. I won't be reading the rest of the trilogy.

Started The Bloody Chamber, by Angela Carter last night. It's a thin volume of revisionist fairy tales. I'm don't like the prose style and her take on the classic fairy tales isn't exciting or fresh, but it's only 120 pages so I'd going to get through it.

I need to find a book I like.

Eleanor of Aquitaine
07-21-2008, 10:57 AM
I need to find a book I like.We're all about book recommendations around here. If you list some of the books and authors you have enjoyed, you will probably get some good suggestions.

Dung Beetle
07-21-2008, 10:57 AM
Which main character? Bartimaeus or the kid (whose name I cannot at the moment remember)?

AuntiePam
07-21-2008, 11:39 AM
I just finished The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stround. It seemed like something I should like, but I found the main character really bratty, annoying, and sometimes downright despicable. I won't be reading the rest of the trilogy.


I didn't like him either, but I excused his behavior as believable, especially as someone who was immature, materialistic, and power hungry. And he did grow a bit.

The books are worth reading just for Bartimaeus.

TheMerchandise
07-22-2008, 08:11 AM
Which main character? Bartimaeus or the kid (whose name I cannot at the moment remember)?

Nathaniel. Bleah.

I have a problem with a YA book where the main character:

Murders, steals and betrays. Or maybe I'm bothered that he does all those things and doesn't ever repent. At the end of the book, he's fully entrenched in the Magician's world of power plays and corruption. I figure in the next two books, he's only going to get worse.

Bartimaeus tickles me, but I don't know if he overcomes Nathaniel's awfulness.

Elendil's Heir
07-22-2008, 08:38 AM
Just finished Shelby Steele's A Bound Man, a small book about Barack Obama's uneasy place between white and black society. It's a lot more bleak of a perspective on race relations than I personally have (and predicts his defeat in November!), but was recommended by a literate (and pretty conservative) friend, so I read it. Unless you're a fan of Steele, or obsessed with the allegedly unbridgeable divide between blacks and whites today, I'd say give it a miss.

I'm now re-reading a favorite of mine from high school, Thomas Berger's Arthur Rex. It's a wonderful, witty retelling of Arthurian legend, romantic and thrilling, slightly tongue-in-cheek but essentially respectful of the genre.

Having recently finished reading aloud Jean Craighead George's classic outdoor adventure My Side of the Mountain with my eight-year-old son, we're now embarked upon the sequel, On the Far Side of the Mountain, and have been enjoying it so far.

I also just received a slim volume of my sister's poetry which she self-published, and hope to begin reading it soon.

Eleanor of Aquitaine
07-22-2008, 08:51 AM
It's like she had to write Children of God to give some sort of closure and answer questions, but it runs out of steam and creativity compared to The Sparrow, which I loved.I finished this last night, and you're right, gigi. It starts off with the intensity of the first book, but the second half particularly fell flat for me.

Malthus
07-22-2008, 09:33 AM
Nathaniel. Bleah.

I have a problem with a YA book where the main character:

Murders, steals and betrays. Or maybe I'm bothered that he does all those things and doesn't ever repent. At the end of the book, he's fully entrenched in the Magician's world of power plays and corruption. I figure in the next two books, he's only going to get worse.

Bartimaeus tickles me, but I don't know if he overcomes Nathaniel's awfulness.


I kinda liked it, for that very reason. ;) It is different to have a main character who, while starting out as is usual in these sorts of young person's fantasy books, isn't really wholly sympathetic - he is after all a product of his environment.

AuntiePam
07-22-2008, 12:15 PM
Holy crap! The Evelyn Keyes autobiography arrived yesterday and I was up til 2 a.m. finishing it. What an interesting woman! If she had an ego, she hid it. She wasn't quite self-deprecating or humble, but she didn't brag on herself either, even though she accomplished quite a lot. I like her.

The book was very well-written -- didn't drag for an instant. I want more like this. I don't read bios, especially Hollywood bios, but I want more. Any recommendations? I guess I could start a separate thread but I'm lazy.

Dung Beetle
07-22-2008, 12:43 PM
I've just started on an essay collection called The New Kings of Nonfiction, with stuff by Michael Pollan, Dan Savage, Malcolm Gladwell, Chuck Klosterman, etc. There's probably stuff in there I've read before, but overall I'm expecting a good time.

It took me about two days just to read the introduction because I get literally a few minutes a day in which to read. And during this time, a TV is blaring in the background and I get interrupted three times. Grrr! Fortunately, I think I'll be far too "ill" to work tomorrow.

Elendil's Heir
07-22-2008, 02:34 PM
Holy crap! The Evelyn Keyes autobiography arrived yesterday....

I see she just died on July 4, age 91.

Eleanor of Aquitaine
07-22-2008, 02:57 PM
I just read Evelyn Keyes' page on Wikipedia, and I didn't realize there was a movie made of Mrs. Mike! I read that book a dozen times when I was a kid. Too bad it doesn't seem to be out on DVD.

AuntiePam
07-22-2008, 03:48 PM
I see she just died on July 4, age 91.

Yep. Sampiro started a thread about her, which prompted me to get the book.

Some of the obits got some things wrong, and it's funny how little things affect how we perceive people. One obit said she and Artie Shaw lived in a "castle" in Spain. According to her book, they built a house there -- a nice house, but not a castle. She gardened and cooked (on a wood stove) and cared for animals -- not at all the impression you get from "castle" life.

Another obit said that her California home was a replica of Tara. But that's not true either -- she died in a retirement home that looked like Tara. If you read that her private home was Tara-like, you get the impression that she was living in the past. From her book, it's plain that Keyes was a "carry on, don't cry over spilled milk" kind of gal.

The book was a fascinating look at the personal lives of celebrities in the 40's and 50's. There could have been more about the business of movie-making, but there was enough.

Just Some Guy
07-23-2008, 11:05 AM
I don't come back to log every book I read in these threads but I had to for my last one: The Terminal Experiment by Robert J. Sawyer. It doesn't quite manage to be as bad as his Hominids but it stinks like rotting fish left in a locked car on a summer day. I don't know what I hate more about his books: the brainless "science" (in a book where medical ethics are a major issue the main characters skip animal testing of a medical process and jump straight to humans), the paper thin characters (there is a chapter where a character goes to a therapy session and two pages later the therapist has created a perfect outline of their psychological issues mainly so that Sawyer can spell out things that were obvious before), the absolutely insane worldbuilding (someone invents immortality and it causes no kind of stir so they sell it for $20 million at time share-esque seminars), or the writing that feels like something out of a freshmen composition class (every location description is three sentences general design building or area in very generic terms and then one detail about it tacked on at the end).

The only nice thing I can say is that I had to stop to bang my head against the wall so I could get the stupid out about once every three paragraphs instead of every two like I did with Hominids. I hope to god that I never have to read anything by that man again since I doubt I have enough sanity left to make it through another of his books.

Eleanor of Aquitaine
07-24-2008, 09:00 AM
I just finished His Majesty's Dragon, the first book in a series about dragons fighting in the Napoleonic war. It's Horatio Hornblower meets Dragonriders of Pern. Sounds ridiculous, but the author pulls it off pretty well. There's no magic: it's an alternate history where dragons are a normal part of warfare. It was a fun, light read, especially if you're fond of Regency England to begin with. I'm looking forward to the next one.

Dung Beetle
07-24-2008, 09:39 AM
I've just started on an essay collection called The New Kings of Nonfiction, with stuff by Michael Pollan, Dan Savage, Malcolm Gladwell, Chuck Klosterman, etc. There's probably stuff in there I've read before, but overall I'm expecting a good time.


Finished. It was good. I liked Dan Savage's contribution the most.

I also read a little of Almost Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. It's my current purse book; that is, I read it when I have to wait somewhere, but if I never finish or my purse gets stolen, I don't care. It's a YA series I've been reading since it appeared on the banned books list, but it's really rather meh. I'm reading them out of habit by now.

Next up: The SAS urban survival handbook : how to protect yourself from domestic accidents, muggings, burglary, and attack by John Wiseman.

Eleanor of Aquitaine
07-24-2008, 09:58 AM
Finished. It was good. I liked Dan Savage's contribution the most.Dan Savage's books are really good, particularly the one about the adoption of his son.

Dung Beetle
07-24-2008, 10:07 AM
Yeah, I've read all of them, I think. This story was about how he became a Republican delegate. :D

Elendil's Heir
07-24-2008, 11:24 AM
Finished my sister's self-published collection of poetry, The Squandered Green, which was pretty good, even accounting for my bias in her favor. :D

Just starting The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, for my book club. Anyone here read it? Don't spoil it for me, but what did you think of it?

gigi
07-24-2008, 11:53 AM
Just starting The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, for my book club. Anyone here read it? Don't spoil it for me, but what did you think of it?
That's on my pile too; based on previous reading threads, we're in for a treat!

Lok
07-24-2008, 11:59 AM
I just finished His Majesty's Dragon, the first book in a series about dragons fighting in the Napoleonic war. It's Horatio Hornblower meets Dragonriders of Pern. Sounds ridiculous, but the author pulls it off pretty well. There's no magic: it's an alternate history where dragons are a normal part of warfare. It was a fun, light read, especially if you're fond of Regency England to begin with. I'm looking forward to the next one.
The 5th one just came out in hardback in the last couple of weeks. And they keep getting better. I think I know where she is going with the war, but it involves spoilers from book 4, and I haven't read 5 yet, so I will wait and see before putting my neck out. :D

Sigmagirl
07-24-2008, 12:54 PM
I haven't posted in a while; I've been reading a bunch of crap for my column, most of which isn't worth mentioning. But also reading The Secret City: Woodawn Cemetery and the Buried History of New York by Fred Goodman, which is not at all what I thought it would be but quite engaging nonetheless. I love books about cemeteries and their architecture and the famous and notorious who are buried there, but in this book Goodman takes notable people from Woodlawn and fictionalizes passages from their lives.

Most interesting so far is a chapter about John Purroy Mitchel, at 34 the youngest mayor ever of New York, and his highly ineffective "efforts" at quelling a polio epidemic in 1916. (He really just wasn't interested.) Also featured is Henry Bergh, founder of the ASPCA, as seen from the point of view of his nephew who is dragged along on Uncle Henry's missions. It seems Uncle Henry didn't really care for animals one way or the other, and was a real pain in the ass.

Khadaji
07-24-2008, 01:14 PM
Just finished Goblin Quest by Jim C. Hine. A quick and light read about an unlikely hero - a goblin who is so small and weak, even the other goblins don't like him. Over the course of the adventure he turns heroic and wins the day.

It was an OK read, and if you want something light, I say go for it. But it was not good enough that I will read the rest. I did like the ending, however.

Am in the middle of new Odd Thomas adventure by Koontz (whose name escapes me right now.) So far I'm enjoying it.

Have started The Arcanum by Thomas Wheeler, but am not in deep enough to have an opinion.

Sigmagirl
07-25-2008, 12:06 PM
Finished The Secret City. He saved the best for last: A story about Ruth Nichols, pioneering aviatrix and founder of the Ninety-Nines. The story of how she, in 1959 at age 58, was called to take the rigorous tests required of those entering the astronaut program. (Just like in The Right Stuff.) She passed them all. She was fully qualified, had flown supersonic jets, was a lieutenant colonel in the Civil Air Patrol, and wanted desperately to join the space program.

But the tests were all a sham. She said good-bye politely, went home, sank into a deep depression, and a few months later ate a handful of barbituates.

Now reading, as so many others, People of the Book.

AuntiePam
07-25-2008, 12:51 PM
Still reading The Sparrow (bedtime book). The daytime book is Gone With the Wind, after I realized that I might not have read it before.

As much as I love the movie, I'm thinking that I would like to see a remake -- not a 3-hour movie but maybe a 30-hour miniseries.

delphica
07-25-2008, 02:12 PM
Just finished The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff. Excellent! A young woman in the midst of a personal crisis returns to her hometown (it's loosely based on real life Cooperstown, NY, home of the baseball hall of fame) and starts researching her family tree. I thought it was a great family saga, lots of skeletons in closets. There's also a bit of magical realism, I guess -- doesn't play a big part in the plot, but there is a family ghost and a local lake monster.

The funny thing is that I first saw this book mentioned in a column by Stephen King. As an aside, he wrote that he read an advance copy and loved it. He didn't say anything at all about the subject matter. In my mind, because of who Stephen King is, and the "Monsters" in the title, I made the assumption that the book was about ... monsters, like a zombie attack or something. It's not about zombies.

Catamount
07-25-2008, 04:52 PM
I'm almost done with de Lint's Memory & Dream. Now this...this is what I'm talkin' about. What I like about de Lint's urban fantasy is that he's not afraid to get downright pitch black when it's needed. He tears his characters up to exorcise their demons (sometimes literally), but it heals cleanly. Unlike, say, Hemingway whose characters are left bleeding to death in a back alley. Alone. In the rain.

I'm also celebrating Frankenstein's 190th birthday with a re-read.

Dung Beetle
07-28-2008, 10:03 AM
Just finished: The Innkeeper's Song, by Peter S. Beagle. It was…decent. Fantasy isn't my favorite genre, but the story held my attention and Beagle writes it well. I've read other things by him that I liked also, but not his most famous book (The Last Unicorn). The title keeps scaring me off.



Just started: The Film Club, by David Gilmour. The first thing about this book that caught my eye was the author's name. I realized right away it wasn't the guy from Pink Floyd, but then the premise drew me in anyway. This is a non-fiction book by a divorced dad who has a fifteen year old boy that skips school and blows off his assignments. He decides to let the kid quit school and live with him rent free, on the condition that the kid will watch three movies a week of the dad's choosing. He also permits the kid to drink, smoke, and screw girls in his room. Here I'm screaming, "Are you insane?" Mr. Gilmour is rhapsodizing at this point about how his teenager talks to him about everything. :rolleyes: Well, of course he does, it's not as though he's in any danger of being parented! Sorry, this is a topic that hits close to home for me.

He also has some interesting bits in there about the movies.

CalMeacham
07-28-2008, 10:20 AM
Finished Verne's The Mighty Orinoco, a Nero Wolfe book, and Max Barry's seriously off-the-wall Jennifer Government, which I got as a gift for Christmas and just got to.

I'm now continuing The Annotated Huckleberry Finn, and am starting Verne's The Golden Volcano and Dana Kollman's Never Suck a Dead Man's Hand: Curious Adventures of a CSI. We picked it up last week at the Muttter Museum, and Pepper Mill was laughing all the way through it, and left it on my nightstand when she was done.

Khadaji
07-28-2008, 10:31 AM
Just finished The Arcanum. It wasn't too bad, a light and fun read.

A mystery involving the occult and well-known (real-life) characters from the early 1900s. Houdini, Conan-Doyle, H.P. Lovecraft and others, pursue the mystery behind the death of an occultist and leader of their group The Arcanum.

It was fast-paced and easy to read. And although it had its problems, I enjoyed it.

Just finished Odd Hours. A pretty typical Odd Thomas book, and even though the plot was more realistic than the last one, I had more trouble accepting it. He did introduce a new character that I expect will make the series more interesting.

Shirley Ujest
07-28-2008, 10:54 AM
Three Cups of Tea The story and writing have just sucked me in. If I could kick my kids out and have the housework magically done, I would lay on the couch and read this until done.

Sigmagirl
07-28-2008, 10:56 AM
The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry by Kathleen Flinn, based on her experiences as a student at Le Cordon Bleu. Just started; on Page 27.

Genghis Bob
07-28-2008, 11:13 AM
Reading Moby Dick and enjoying it, but it's slow going; the damned New Yorker keeps coming, and if you let those suckers pile up, they just take over. . .

Burton
07-28-2008, 11:15 AM
The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte, Sabbath's Theater- Philip Roth and am curretly reading Purity of Blood by Perez-Reverte. I really like his work.

Genghis Bob
07-28-2008, 11:16 AM
I just finished The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell. I liked it despite a fairly ridiculous plot. The writing is wonderful, but I'm not sure the author ever read any science fiction before she started this.
. . .

The writing on The Sparrow made me put Russell on my short list of authors-whose-books-I'll-always-buy.

gigi
07-28-2008, 11:29 AM
The writing on The Sparrow made me put Russell on my short list of authors-whose-books-I'll-always-buy.
So what did you think of Children of God?

Genghis Bob
07-28-2008, 12:03 PM
So what did you think of Children of God?

Um . . . it was so many years and so many books ago, I can't remember how I reacted to it. I'm still a big fan, so I must have enjoyed it. (My response is kind of lame, isn't it?)

AuntiePam
07-28-2008, 12:06 PM
I just finished The Sparrow last night. It left me feeling slightly nauseated, and I'm not sure I'll read Children of God, although I am curious about the second expedition.

I'm still reading GWTW, and two new books came in today's mail. Adventures of a Hollywood Secretary: Her Private Letters from Inside the Studios of the 1920's -- real letters, edited by Cari Beauchamp. The letters were written to a friend by Valeria Belletti, who was secretary to Goldwyn and DeMille.

And London 1849: A Victorian Murder Story by Michael Alpert, an account using trial records and police files. I hope it's better than Kate Summerscale's book, The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher. That one was way too dry.

CalMeacham
07-28-2008, 01:01 PM
Oh, I forgot -- I also read a self-published History of Periscopes. Very interesting subject.

gigi
07-28-2008, 02:43 PM
Um . . . it was so many years and so many books ago, I can't remember how I reacted to it. I'm still a big fan, so I must have enjoyed it. (My response is kind of lame, isn't it?)
Nah...you'd remember if you had the experience I did with it. Maybe I'll give her other stuff a chance.

Khadaji
07-29-2008, 04:51 AM
Just put down The Shack.

I can't say for sure that I believe in God, nor that I fully disbelieve. I guess the best word to describe me is Seeker. I have serious doubts about God, but also perhaps feel a void in my life.

And so I often read books with this type of review: The Shack is the most absorbing work of fiction I've read in many years. My wife and I laughed, cried and repented of our own lack of faith along the way. The Shack will leave you craving for the presence of God.

However this book is specifically for lapsed Christians. When they talk about the presence of God, they mean the Christian God.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely have no problem with Christians. However, I am not one, nor will I find my way back into the Christian fold. This book wasn't for me, but if you are a lapsed Christian, perhaps it is for you.

Elendil's Heir
07-29-2008, 01:29 PM
Three Cups of Tea The story and writing have just sucked me in. If I could kick my kids out and have the housework magically done, I would lay on the couch and read this until done.

My book club read this a few months ago, and we all liked it. It's a little slow going at times, and the protagonist can be frustratingly unreliable at times, but it's well worth a read.

Siam Sam
07-29-2008, 10:29 PM
Finished Tony Thompson's Reefer Men: The Rise and Fall of a Billionaire Drugs Ring. A fascinating story of the beginnings of the Thai-marijuana trade into the US in the 1970s and the main smugglers' attempt to import 50 or 60 tons in 1988, thereby leaving everyone involved fabulously wealthy (even though they were already pretty well off from previous proceeds). But it went horribly wrong, and all involved were eventually caught and jailed; the last one was sentenced just last year.

And I am always appreciative of new Bangkok trivia. Superstar Bar in Patpong was owned by some of the smugglers and is still there today. It seems quite a few deals were made over the bar there, with sample product weighed and tested off in dark corners. I've never considered Superstar anything special, just another bland go-go bar of the type that you tire of pretty quickly once you've been here awhile. But there is an open-air bar just outside its door and around to the side that stays open until 3:30 or 4am, and I'll often stop there for one last drink in the wee hours before toddling home if I've been in Patpong that night. I'll have to pay Superstar a visit now that it's become more a part of Bangkok lore. Geez, you know, I was here back then, and I never even knew that particular bar was a center of drug smuggling.

Today, I begin The Last Executioner: Memoirs of Thailand's Last Prison Executioner, by Chavoret Jaruboon with Nicola Pierce. The title is a bit disingenuous. They still do execute prisoners and pretty regularly too. It's just that Chavoret was the last one to do it by machine gun. Thailand switched to lethal injection a few years ago. Apparently, Chavoret shot 55 prisoners, both male and female. The book has been favorably reviewed locally.

Dung Beetle
07-31-2008, 02:01 PM
I Love My Dog, But…:The ultimate guide to managing your dog's misbehavior, by Joy Tiz.

Eh, I liked it fine, but the dog is less than impressed. :) I got a few helpful things out of it.

Khadaji
07-31-2008, 04:32 PM
Here is The August (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?p=10055825#post10055825) thread.

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