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Old 08-01-2019, 06:59 PM
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Khadaji's Whatcha Reading Thread--August 2019 edition


How can it be August already?! April was just last week!

So here we are, in the North American west, sliding slowly into autumn... or maybe not since it's supposed to hit nearly 100 this weekend.

So Whatcha all reading? I am currently:

3/4 of the way through Americanah by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie and loving it a lot. It's interesting to see the mess that is the US race relations through the eyes of an outsider.

The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch, Tobias Winter isn't nearly as interesting or as good of a narrator as Peter Grant.

Demon Spiral # 3 of fellow Utahn, Cheree Alsop's Dr Wolf- The Fae Rift series, it's more YA urban fantasy than I expected, but it's a fun series.

Limelight by Emily Organ, it's the first Penny Green book: set in Victorian England, Penny is a newspaper reporter and amateur sleuth. Again more YA, but the writing is good.

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

Khadaji was one of the earlier members of SDMB, and he was well-known as a kindly person who always had something encouraging to say, particularly in the self improvement threads. He was also a voracious, omnivorous reader, who started these threads way back in the Stone Age of 2013. Consequently when he suddenly and quite unexpectantly passed away, we decided to rename this thread in his honor and to keep his memory, if not his ghost, alive.
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Old 08-01-2019, 07:03 PM
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Last month's thread: Was that July just running past?
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Old 08-01-2019, 10:51 PM
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I'm a little over halfway through American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race by Douglas Brinkley. It's almost a joint bio of JFK and Wernher von Braun. It's a little overwrought and sometimes repetitive, and I've caught Brinkley in a few minor errors, but overall it's an interesting look at the leadup to that famous "one small step for a man."
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Old 08-02-2019, 07:52 AM
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Finished Stephen Silverman's The Amusement Park: 900 years of Thrills and Spills. Despite its length, it's often oddly brief in the coverage and biographies it gives, although it dwells at great length on others. Given the length of time covered -- and he DOES do credit to the entire period -- and the geographical area, he does do a pretty good job of hitting it all, at least briefly. I'm jealous that he was able to get the book printed on heavy slick stock, which lets him put detailed colored photos on any page he wants. Overall, a good book.*


Now I'm starting the "new" Penguin translation of Gilgamesh.

I'll be on vacation next week, so I intend to do a lot of reading, much of it light. I've picked up Jules Verne's The Will of the Eccentric, because I like reading Verne in the summer, and this is one of the dwindling collection of those I haven't read. I've also ordered Horowitz' new James Bond novel Forever and a Day. Like his previous effort (which I liked) it's done as a 1960s period piece and incorporates material Fleming wrote but never incorporated into a Bond novel. I also have Andrew Shaffer's Obama-and-Biden-as-detectives fantasy Hope Never Dies and Toni L.P. Kelner/Leigh Perry's The Skeleton Makes a Friend, the most recent of her "family skeleton" mysteries.



* I also read it to find out who his publisher and agent were, and how he handled the topic. It looks as if I might have a publisher for my book on the 1906-1910 Revere Beach amusement park Wonderland, but they don't want to put a lot of pictures in it. That's a bummer, because I found a lot of them, many of which have never been published.
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Old 08-02-2019, 08:09 AM
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Still plowing my way thru The Old Curiosity Shop by Dickens - about two thirds of the way thru. And enjoying the wallow in mawkish Victorian sentimentality about how noble children are, especially if they are dying. Little Nell is far from the most interesting character - she is mostly a projection of Dickens' resentment of his own childhood. Other parts of the novel are more interesting - the lovable rogue Dick Swiveller, the evil dwarf Quilp, the potboiling plot 'will they find little Nell in time? What improbable encounter will save her bacon next? Stay tuned for the next episode!'

I gotta get to the library.

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Old 08-02-2019, 10:20 AM
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...Now I'm starting the "new" Penguin translation of Gilgamesh....
You probably knew the story is prominently mentioned in a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, "Darmok."
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Old 08-03-2019, 05:58 PM
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Finished None of My Business:PJ Explains Money, Banking, Debt, Equity, Assets, Liabilities, and Why He's Not Rich and Neither Are You, by P.J. O'Rourke. It was fun, and I enjoyed it, but anyone who wants to read it should know it reprints some things he's had in earlier books. Some of his earlier books, such as Parliament of Whores (about government) and All the Trouble in the World (about war, among other things), are better written, I think. (However, they're outdated now.)

Now I'm reading a historical novel, Tree Wagon, by Evelyn Sibley Lampman.
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Old 08-03-2019, 09:17 PM
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Four fifths of the way through The Big Nowhere, by James Ellroy, the second novel in his LA Quartet. Gay murders and the Red Scare in 1950 Los Angeles. Very good so far. Also interesting to see the city that my then 20-year-old father would have been running around in. Born and raised in Hollywood.
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Old 08-06-2019, 07:25 AM
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I finished Whiskey When We’re Dry. It was a pleasant journey for the most part, but didn’t amount to anything in the end. A flavored rice cake of a book.

This morning I started on Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata. It's about a woman who doesn't quite fit in (Asperger's Syndrome maybe?) until she takes a job at a retail store where behavior is very regimented. Apparently a convenience store in Japan is quite different from what we would call a convenience store here! Anyway, pretty entertaining so far.
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Old 08-06-2019, 01:18 PM
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I just finished Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson.

As usual with Atkinson's novels, I felt very satisfied when I completed the book, but a little while later I started wondering "wait, what about...?" until I had run up quite a list of unanswered questions and unexplained plot points.

I think maybe she does this on purpose*; she's admitted in interviews that sometimes she "lies" in her books, and it's obvious that she likes to confuse her readers. But she's such a terrific writer that I accept all this and eagerly await the next one.


*It's also possible that I'm just dimwitted.
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Old 08-06-2019, 01:44 PM
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This morning I started on Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata. It's about a woman who doesn't quite fit in (Asperger's Syndrome maybe?) until she takes a job at a retail store where behavior is very regimented. Apparently a convenience store in Japan is quite different from what we would call a convenience store here! Anyway, pretty entertaining so far.
I read this book last year and liked it quite a lot.
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Old 08-06-2019, 02:08 PM
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Finished Tree Wagon, by Evelyn Sibley Lampman. Would've said "Meh," but the author's notes indicate that many of the rather unbelievable incidents in the book were taken directly from the diary of a woman who traveled the Oregan Trail. Assuming that's true, and that the diary was accurate, I found it much more interesting.

Now I'm reading Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, by Mary Roach.
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Old 08-06-2019, 11:02 PM
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Taking a break from Brinkley's American Moonshot to listen to NPR's Serial podcast, Season 1 (about a 1999 Baltimore homicide and subsequent likely miscarriage of justice).
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Old 08-07-2019, 07:56 AM
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I read this book last year and liked it quite a lot.
I finished Convenience Store Woman; I enjoyed it too. I'm glad it had a happy ending.

Starting today on Mira Grant's In the Shadow of Spindrift House. The writing feels amateurish and I'm annoyed by the similarities of the first chapter to Shirley Jackson's Haunting of Hill House intro. On the other hand, I'm getting a good Scooby Doo vibe and I'm just loving the premise so much that I'm still really into this book.

Last edited by Dung Beetle; 08-07-2019 at 07:57 AM. Reason: My spacing is just weird all the time now.
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Old 08-07-2019, 04:44 PM
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I've almost finished Evangeline Walton's Mabinogion Tetrology, based on the same Welsh myths Lloyd Alexander used as inspiration for The Chronicles of Prydain.

It's absolutely spectacular, beautifully written, with a great narrative and some really surprising twists and turns. It honestly could have been released this year, it's incredibly dark and gruesome at times, but the first book was published before The Hobbit! I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy.
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Old 08-09-2019, 12:22 AM
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Finished The Big Nowhere, by James Ellroy, the second novel in his LA Quartet. Gay murders and the Red Scare in 1950 Los Angeles. Very good. The next in the series is LA Confidential. I saw the movie when it came out long ago.

But that will have to wait until I pick up a copy. For now, next up is Here Be Dragons, by Sharon Kay Penman. Intrigue in 13th-century Wales and the first of a trilogy.
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Old 08-09-2019, 07:14 AM
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Starting today on Mira Grant's In the Shadow of Spindrift House. The writing feels amateurish and I'm annoyed by the similarities of the first chapter to Shirley Jackson's Haunting of Hill House intro. On the other hand, I'm getting a good Scooby Doo vibe and I'm just loving the premise so much that I'm still really into this book.
Finished. Well, that was ...nice? I can't come up with much more to say about this book, except that it obviously should have been marketed as YA. Apparently, this Mira Grant also writes as Seanan McGuire, who is a well-thought of author that I've never been sufficiently moved to try. Maybe she'll hook me with some other book, but this one was "meh".
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Old 08-09-2019, 09:58 PM
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A friend of mine absolutely adores Seanan McGuire

Finished The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch, The plot progression is smooth, even if the timeline is a little jumbled and the issue of the defaced statue was never truly resolved. The characters were interesting and likeable, though Aaronovitch's attempts at dry humor were a little hit and miss. Tobias & Vanessa were enjoyable main characters ( though I still adore Peter the most).
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Old 08-10-2019, 10:34 AM
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Finished Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, by Mary Roach. Excellent--one of the best books I've read this year.

Now I'm reading Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.
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Old 08-10-2019, 04:05 PM
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I was given a book called The Empress of Forever, a space opera novel by Max Gladstone. It was amazingly poorly written, shallow, and pointless.
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Old 08-10-2019, 04:29 PM
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Just finished Camelot's Court by historian Robert Dallek, a pretty interesting look at JFK and his relationships with (and frequent letdowns by) his advisors. The Vietnam War and the Cold War generally get the most attention; the Civil Rights Movement and domestic policy relatively little.
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Old 08-12-2019, 08:14 AM
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Yesterday I read Conversion by Katherine Howe. It's about a mystery illness that strikes a group of girls at a school, interspersed with the confession of a girl who helped start the Salem witch panic. This book sucked me right in and I couldn't put it down! However, in the aftermath, I'm disappointed in how it finished up.
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Old 08-12-2019, 08:15 AM
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Book 2 of Game of Thrones. Martin sure spends a lot of time describing what people are wearing.
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Old 08-12-2019, 11:14 AM
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Yesterday I read Conversion by Katherine Howe. It's about a mystery illness that strikes a group of girls at a school, interspersed with the confession of a girl who helped start the Salem witch panic. This book sucked me right in and I couldn't put it down! However, in the aftermath, I'm disappointed in how it finished up.
Have you read The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane? If so, how did you like it? I've had that book on my to read list for a long time, but I'm hesitant to pick it up because it has some bad reviews on Goodreads.

I finished two books over the weekend. The first was Anybody Out There by Marian Keyes. I enjoyed the book, which was no surprise since I like everything I've read by the author. She has this wonderful gift about creating a story out of a very distressing situation, and making that story hilarious, marvelously entertaining, and compulsively readable while still being true to the human condition -- showing the full range of difficult emotions that characters are going through and handling tough subjects with sensitivity.

Also read Born for Love: Why Empathy is Essential -- and Endangered by Bruce D. Perry and Maia Szalavitz. I have mixed feelings about this one. It had some intriguing insights into how the human brain works, particularly in reference to the concept of mirror neurons and the idea that empathy is actually (in part) instinctual and part of human biology. But I think I went into the book with my expectations set too high. I had recently read Perry's first book, The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, and was impressed at how elegantly the author struck a balance between engaging stories and informative research. Born for Love, in contrast, did not feel as cohesive. There were less stories to show how the research findings presented played out in real life. And you'd think if there were less stories, there would be more solid research in their place, but nope. There was just more repetition. The book felt longer than it needed to be in places, and the concluding chapter was riddled with editorial mistakes. I'm still glad I read the book, just saying it absolutely was not up to par with the quality of his first book.
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Old 08-12-2019, 11:20 AM
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Book 2 of Game of Thrones. Martin sure spends a lot of time describing what people are wearing.
And eating. The man loves his food.
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Old 08-12-2019, 01:31 PM
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Have you read The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane? If so, how did you like it? I've had that book on my to read list for a long time, but I'm hesitant to pick it up because it has some bad reviews on Goodreads.
I haven't decided if I'm going to get that one yet.

I was pretty surprised at all the bad reviews Goodreads gave Conversion...sometimes it seems like those guys love everything!
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Old 08-13-2019, 02:23 PM
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Just began another of Patrick O'Brian's novels of Napoleonic sea adventure, HMS Surprise. I'd read it before, more than a decade ago, out of order from the rest of the Aubrey-Maturin series, but am now enjoying it anew.
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Old 08-14-2019, 08:38 AM
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I took a mental health day off work yesterday and spent part of it re-reading John Bellair & Brad Strickland's The Ghost in the Mirror. [John Astin]I'm feeling much better now.[/JA]


I'm also partway through Bill Bryson's The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain. Mr. Bryson loves England, as do I. This is making me desperately want to go again. I had forgotten how funny he was, as well. I'll wait until I'm finished to give this five stars over at Goodreads, but it's just a formality.
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Old 08-14-2019, 10:19 AM
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I took a mental health day off work yesterday and spent part of it re-reading John Bellair & Brad Strickland's The Ghost in the Mirror. [John Astin]I'm feeling much better now.[/JA]
I really need to get caught up with the Strickland books.
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:49 PM
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Finished Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. I thought it was excellent.

Now I'm reading You're Not Lost if You Can Still See the Truck: The Further Adventures of America's Everyman Outdoorsman, by Bill Heavey.
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:54 PM
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I'm in the middle of book 8 of The Expanse series.
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Old 08-14-2019, 05:27 PM
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Re-reading Laura Resnick's Esther Diamond series, currently on Unsympathetic Magic

A fun urban fantasy about a minor actress in New York who keeps running into magical problems.
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Old 08-19-2019, 02:58 PM
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I just finished reading P D Jame's "Cover Her Face". A while back, I noted that I'd given up on "An Unsuitable Job for a Woman" and wondered if PD James had ever met a college student or a 20 year old woman.

Reading "Cover Her Face" made me wonder if she'd ever met any humans at all. It sort of reads like what a computer would spit out after having digested all of Agatha Christie's oeuvre. Maybe I'm being a bit harsh -- I did check and this was the first of the Adam Dagleish series, and it was published in 1962 which was a very different era. But it was annoying book, and I think the word that best describes it is "contrived". (Possible spoilers ahead).

The basic plot is your bog standard drawing room mystery. A beautiful if unsympathetic young woman is murdered. In a manor house. In England. The day of the country fete. After the heir has proposed to her. She's an unmarried mother, so the marriage would not be a suitable one. The suspects include. well, the usual suspects, a jealous woman, a couple of people who just didn't like the girl for some reason, a few people with mysterious pasts, and a couple of red herrings thrown in. All very standard stuff, and I guess the clues were all there. But sheesh, the dead girl's bedroom and environs had more traffic through it that night than a convenience store before a blizzard. And of course everyone lied about it, tried to protect various other people, and generally made a muddle of things. And then the deputy inspector, instead of nabbing the suspect, actually invites everyone into the drawing room and does the whole "let me tell you a story" routine. Which I bet wasn't standard policing even back in Jolly Olde England in 1962.

But my real problem with the novel wasn't that it didn't have a shred of originality, but rather that no one did anything that made sense. People up and proposed to other people for what appeared to be no reason. People lied and schemed and did various silly things that no normal person would do. And I'm sure some of the characters had redeeming qualities, but by the end of the book, I was hoping they'd all end up in the pokey and I didn't really care who did it. So...meh.



I also started reading the "Weather Warden" series by Rachel Caine after finding the first two books at a book fair. Mildly intriguing premise which is that the weather actually hates us and weather wardens keep it under control. But the main character is a woman and she's apparently super hot, and although she's seemingly unaware of it, she's a super powerful warden and brings all the supernatural boys to the yard. I made it most of the way through the second book before I got tired of the hot supernatural sex and relationship issues getting in the way of the plot. I have a feeling I wasn't the target audience for this series, but someone who liked Anita Blake or the Southern Vampire mysteries would probably enjoy it.
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Old 08-19-2019, 04:04 PM
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I'm down to my last two hours or so of Patrick O'Brian's HMS Surprise, and have been enjoying it quite a bit. The scenes set in colonial Bombay in 1804, and describing an exciting chase on the Indian Ocean among British and French warships, are particularly good.

Next up: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, which I tried a few years ago and put aside as tediously didactic. It's on an important topic, and I'm gonna give it another try.
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Old 08-19-2019, 06:07 PM
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I also started reading the "Weather Warden" series by Rachel Caine after finding the first two books at a book fair. Mildly intriguing premise which is that the weather actually hates us and weather wardens keep it under control. But the main character is a woman and she's apparently super hot, and although she's seemingly unaware of it, she's a super powerful warden and brings all the supernatural boys to the yard. I made it most of the way through the second book before I got tired of the hot supernatural sex and relationship issues getting in the way of the plot. I have a feeling I wasn't the target audience for this series, but someone who liked Anita Blake or the Southern Vampire mysteries would probably enjoy it.
I read too many books in that series, because I got one of the later books, then had to get all of the ones before that. And I'm one of those people that have a hard time stopping reading a book no matter how stupid it gets.

I think the target audience for those books are people who like cool cars or people who like women's fashion.
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Old 08-19-2019, 06:59 PM
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Finished License Renewed by John Gardner and started For Special Services, the second James Bond book in Gardner's series.

I picked up this particular copy used and from the price stickers on it, it's been resold at least 4 times (3 different used book stores and a Goodwill), and at least once it made it's way to Canada. When I finish it, I need to donate it or something so it can continue it's journey.
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Old 08-19-2019, 07:28 PM
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Finished. Well, that was ...nice? I can't come up with much more to say about this book, except that it obviously should have been marketed as YA. Apparently, this Mira Grant also writes as Seanan McGuire, who is a well-thought of author that I've never been sufficiently moved to try. Maybe she'll hook me with some other book, but this one was "meh".
I like her Incryptid series a lot. I'm meh on her Toby Daye books.

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Now I'm reading Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.
I'm in the middle of this. I loved the Amazon series, so I thought I would try the book.

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Book 2 of Game of Thrones. Martin sure spends a lot of time describing what people are wearing.
Power to your oar sir. I gave up after Book 2.

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I also started reading the "Weather Warden" series by Rachel Caine after finding the first two books at a book fair. Mildly intriguing premise which is that the weather actually hates us and weather wardens keep it under control. But the main character is a woman and she's apparently super hot, and although she's seemingly unaware of it, she's a super powerful warden and brings all the supernatural boys to the yard. I made it most of the way through the second book before I got tired of the hot supernatural sex and relationship issues getting in the way of the plot. I have a feeling I wasn't the target audience for this series, but someone who liked Anita Blake or the Southern Vampire mysteries would probably enjoy it.
I started this series, but also DNF. It was an interesting premise, but I got tired of the angst.

I'm reading "The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel" by Jasper Fforde. I'm enjoying it. It's quirky, but it pulls you right along. I have no real idea how this world is supposed to work, but maybe I'll figure it out at some point.

I finished "The Third Mrs Durst" by Ann Aguirre. It was a beach read. It's a revenge novel, with obvious call outs to the Trumps. It reminded me of another revenge book, "Jane Doe" by Victoria Helen Stone. I think that one was much better.

I've started "The Merciful Crow" which is an interesting fantasy about a clan of outcasts who prevent the spread of the plague. It's a different world take then I've seen before, and I'm enjoying it. It's a tad bleak, so don't read for a pick me up.
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Old 08-19-2019, 09:54 PM
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I'm down to my last two hours or so of Patrick O'Brian's HMS Surprise, and have been enjoying it quite a bit. The scenes set in colonial Bombay in 1804, and describing an exciting chase on the Indian Ocean among British and French warships, are particularly good....
Finished it and loved it.

Also zipped through Simple Heraldry by Iain Moncreiffe and Don Pottinger, a short 1953 intro to the essentials of heraldry, with clever, entertaining illustrations.
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Old 08-19-2019, 10:01 PM
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I finished Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. The stupid blurb writer obviously hadn't read the book so I went in expecting a romance and all the usual suspect cliches and came out wildly surprised at the humor, depth and lack of cliches. It was thought provoking to see America's tangled race relations for the viewpoint of an outsider.
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Old 08-20-2019, 10:03 AM
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Shadow Captain, Alastair Reynolds. Sequel to Revenger - Youngish Adult Sci-fi

The Ness sisters are at it again, sailing around what is left of the solar system. (It's a bit murky, but it seems that the original eight planets were somehow destroyed, and life now exists on thousands of artificial worlds at varying distances from the sun.) They and their crew spend some time on a decaying space station, deal with mysterious aliens, and search for a hidden treasure. It's like Pirates of the Caribbean meets Firefly.

Quite enjoyable space opera, recommended. (But read the first one first.)
  #41  
Old 08-20-2019, 10:24 AM
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Finished You're Not Lost if You Can Still See the Truck: The Further Adventures of America's Everyman Outdoorsman, by Bill Heavey. It's a collection of essays, mostly from Field & Stream magazine. They're in chronological order, and at first they were "meh" at best, but over the years, his writing really improved and I wound up enjoying the book.

Now I'm reading Conned Again, Watson: Cautionary Tales of Logic, Math, and Probability, by Colin Bruce.
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Old 08-21-2019, 08:08 AM
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Started today on The Singularity Trap by Dennis E. Taylor. I loved his Bobiverse books, but this one's not taking off as I'd hoped. I'll persevere a bit further.
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Old 08-21-2019, 08:59 AM
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Having finished the above books, I've started reading Treasure by Clive Cussler (from back when he was writing all by himself, without a bevy of co-authors).

On audio, I'm reading The Lincoln Myth by Steve Berry. I'd already read his stand-alone The Amber Room, but this is the first of his Cotton Malone* novels I've read.

I'm perturbed. Berry is supposed to be a historian, and he does indeed bring in a great deal of historical information, but he also spends a lot of time making the case that
a.) Lincoln has been mythologized (which I agree with)
b.) Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation didn't free all the slaves, and he spoke about saving the Union as his highest priority (True, but a LOT of people have re-iterated this in recent years)
c.) The Civil War wasn't about slavery, but about cementing the Union and preventing secession. The Northerners , aside from abolitionists (maybe) didn't even LIKE black people (I worry when a historian starts saying this. No northern sympathy for the slaves? Then why all the uproar about the Fugitive Slave Act? Who kept the Underground Railroad going? What about all those diaries quoted by Ken Burns and others about how they were fighting against slavery?)
d.) Northern interests desperately needed to keep the tariffs and taxes on cotton going, because otherwise the federal income would dry up. (Really? With all that Northern manufacturing going? That didn't contribute taxes to the government?)
e.) Lincoln created the idea of an indissoluble Union, which prior to him didn't exist (somebody shoulda told Daniel Webster, so he wouldn't have made his "Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable" speech. Or Andrew Jackson's "Our Federal Union -- It Must be Preserved" toast.)

I realize that writers are allowed to put questionable arguments into the mouths of their characters, especially if this is what motivates them, but Perry appears to actually be buying into these.

What surprised me even more is that most of this isn't about Lincoln, but about something dating back to Washington, and even more about Mormon (LDS) church history, especially the latter. Didn't see that coming. One thing I'll give Perry is that, unlike a lot of thrillers and mysteries involving Utah and the Mormons, he gets most of his history and geography straight. out-of-state writers have been screwing up Utah geography ever since Arthur Conan Doyle's a Study in Scarlet (the first Sherlock Holmes novel) has the Saints approaching Salt Lake City by traveling across The Great Alkali Plain (the Salt Desert). The Salt Desert is to the West of Salt Lake City -- the Mormon pioneers came down Emigration Canyon on the East of the city. I suspect Doyle just loved the imagery, but it's completely wrong.

I suspect this book, which makes officials in the LDS church out to be Bad Guys, isn't very popular in Salt Lake.




*What is it with Thriller/mystery writers and the weird names they give their heroes and associates? This book gives us Cotton Malone (who sounds like a cross between Cotton Mather and a Dashiell Hammett detective) and his girlfriend Cassiopeia Vitt. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child gave us Special Agent Aloysius Xingu Lens Pendergast and his companion Constance Greene. His Evil Twin brother is Diogenes Dagrepont Bernoulli Pendergast . Do we owe this all to Doyle's Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes?
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Last edited by CalMeacham; 08-21-2019 at 08:59 AM.
  #44  
Old 08-22-2019, 01:22 PM
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I finally plowed my way through The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston (of Agent Pendergast fame). This book is nonfiction however, and its subject is the hunt for a serial killer that plagued Tuscany during the 1970s and 80s.

In my opinion Preston wasted his time writing the book. Since it's a true story, it's very messy. No one knows exactly when the murders began or why they ended, the cast of characters is huge and confusing (there's at least a dozen nominees for who the Monster was), the intricacy and corruption of the Italian legal system is outrageously over the top, and the story just slowly fizzles out towards the end. Upon finishing the book I felt very little other than frustration.

Luckily there's a new Preston/Child novel out there, and I have it on reserve at the library. I'm sure it will be much more entertaining than reality ever could be.
  #45  
Old 08-22-2019, 01:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
...On audio, I'm reading The Lincoln Myth by Steve Berry....

I'm perturbed. Berry is supposed to be a historian, and he does indeed bring in a great deal of historical information, but he also spends a lot of time making the case that...

d.) Northern interests desperately needed to keep the tariffs and taxes on cotton going, because otherwise the federal income would dry up. (Really? With all that Northern manufacturing going? That didn't contribute taxes to the government?)....
You're right to be skeptical of the book, for the reasons you state, but most Federal revenue in the early 1860s came from tariffs imposed on imported goods. Northern manufacturing, as such, didn't put a penny into Uncle Sam's pocket.
  #46  
Old 08-22-2019, 07:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
I suspect this book, which makes officials in the LDS church out to be Bad Guys, isn't very popular in Salt Lake.



Pfft, you might be surprised, I suspect they burn it regularly in Provo...
  #47  
Old 08-23-2019, 08:22 AM
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Finished Conned Again, Watson: Cautionary Tales of Logic, Math, and Probability, by Colin Bruce. Meh.

Now I'm reading Bunch of Amateurs: Insides America's Hidden World of Inventors, Tinkerers, and Job Creators, by Jack Hitt.
  #48  
Old 08-23-2019, 04:52 PM
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Finished Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson last night. Loved the first three quarters but found the ending a bit flat. Not a bad book though and I'll give him another try next time I go to the library.
  #49  
Old 08-23-2019, 05:17 PM
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I am reading, appropriately enough, The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman. I picked up a copy last month when we were at the WWI museum in Kansas City, but had to finish up a couple of other books I was in the middle of first.
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Old 08-27-2019, 03:19 PM
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I'm reading history set a bit earlier, David McCullough's latest book, The Pioneers. It's about the establishment of Marietta and the early settlement of the Ohio Territory in the 1780s. Not his best, but worth a read. I agree with the critics who say that the Indians get short shrift.
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