Khadaji’s Whatcha Reading Thread - April 2021 edition

Finished: 1635: The Tangled Web, by Virginia DeMarce

Now reading: Grantville Gazette V, edited by Eric Flint

Next up: 1635: The Papal Stakes, by Eric Flint and Charles E Gannon

Other deterrents: bad dentistry, more common body odor, male social and legal dominance, and no central heating, air conditioning or modern plumbing.

I remember in elementary school my teacher asking the class who would like to have lived in that time. She was very disappointed when nobody said yes. She thought we would want to live in those “exciting times”. (I later learned that “May you live in exciting times” or something like that is a curse.)

Back on topic: Just finished Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir , by Amy Tan. Her parents lived in exciting times, and they certainly didn’t like it.

Now I’m reading The Hope, by Herman Wouk. It’s another story of people living in exciting times.

Enough of the pluses. There are some drawbacks too. (I’ve experienced pretty much all of that at one time or another in the Third World. :wink:)

I started this morning on Heaven’s River, by Dennis Taylor. It’s book 4 of the Bobiverse series, which is about a man (named Bob) who dies, but his consciousness is uploaded into a drone which is sent into space. These are really fun books.

Three recent books:

I finished Jane, Unlimited a couple of days ago. A girl at loose ends visits the rococo mansion of an heiress friend. Hijinks ensue. It took me awhile to get through the first section of the book, full of unifnihsed ocnversations and bizarre non sequiturs and characters acting irrationally. Okay, I thought: I get it, the character is confused and off-balance. I nearly put it down. But I’m glad I didn’t, because once the tone is established, the book goes on to justify that initial confusion. It’s a delightful puzzle-box of a read. And I’ve never been so interested in umbrellas as I am now.

I finished reading The Graveyard Book to my daughter. It’s one of Gaiman’s best work. Don’t let the mass murder at the beginning put you off: it’s an absolutely delightful children’s book. Ghosts and ghouls and vampires have never been more fun.

And a couple of minutes ago I finished reading Ring Shout, a novel in the tradition of Lovecraft Country and The City We Became. Lovecraft of course had amazing ideas that revolutionized horror literature even as he had nastily racist ideas that make his legacy toxic. It’s a delight to see this new tradition of Lovecraftian horror that upends that relationship, using eldritch extradimensional monsters, not as a metaphor for nonwhites, but as a metaphor for white supremacists. Any novel that opens with a bunch of Black women blowing up demonic Klansmen is gonna catch my attention, and this one didn’t disappoint.

Finished: Grantville Gazette V, edited by Eric Flint

Now reading: 1635: The Papal Stakes, by Eric Flint and Charles E Gannon

Next up: 1635: The Wars for the Rhine, by Anette Pederson

Finished Ink and Sigil today. All the urban-magic-detective pleasure of a Jim Butcher novel, without the cringey chauvinistic bits? Yes please. Funny, clever, and moving at a brisk clip, this book was a perfect vacation read. Sure, it’s a Glasgow novel written by a Canadian who’s only visited there on vacation, and it’s possible that it’s full of offensive misunderstandings of Scottish culture. But I suspect that most Scottish people have bigger fish to fry, and anyway might be as entertained by a neon pink trash-talking Scottish hobgoblin as I was.

And another: The Midnight Bargain. Sorcery, feminism, Regency. At first the book came across a little heavy-handed on the politics for me, but as I read and as the story developed, the politics seemed to fit more naturally. Pretty good read.

I just finished The Book of Wonder by Lord Dunsany. (The link goes to Project Gutenberg, where you can read it for free). It’s a collection of short fantasy stories, heavy on the dramatic and beautiful prose. I’ve been reading it off and on for a while, because I think if I tried to go straight through all at once it would just be a blur. My favorite stories were the two last ones, Chu-Bu and Sheemish, and The Wonderful Window.

Finished The Hope , by Herman Wouk, which I enjoyed for the most part.

Now I’m reading I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life, by Anne Bogel.

Finished I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life , by Anne Bogel. Meh.

Now I’m reading Tropic of Stupid, by Tim Dorsey.

Finished: 1635: The Wars for the Rhine , by Anette Pederson

Now reading: Second Chance Bird, by Garrett W Vance

Next up: 1635: The Eastern Front, by Eric Flint (reread)

Still working my way through Flint’s ‘1632’ series, or as much of it as I can get my hands on. The public library has most of the books published by Baen, but none of those published by Ring of Fire Press; I’m having to get those from used-book stores or Amazon.

Still enjoying O’Brian’s The Nutmeg of Consolation. The frigate Surprise has just left a Polynesian island, the native tribe of which was devastated by smallpox.

I finished le Carre’s The Spy Who Came In From the Cold and was underwhelmed, I have to admit. Not an especially engaging story, pretty thin characterization, and I figured out the big double-cross some time before it was revealed. Not to be boorish, but I can’t quite see why it’s regarded as such a classic.

I’ve now begun The Answer Is… by Alex Trebek - not an autobiography, as such, but a collection of vignettes from his life and career. An easy read, and some nice photos, too.

Finally went out a bought a couple of new books to read. Starting with Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-up & Spectacular Downfall of a Brazen Crook in the White House by Rachel Maddow and Michael Yarvitz. Despite the title and the primary author, it’s not who you think it is (see below). It is not a scholarly work by an means, but it is well-researched and easy to read. Some lessons about how history tends to repeat itself can be found.

The protagonist is Spiro Agnew, one-time Vice President of the United State under Nixon, who, except for being caught out, could have been President instead of Ford…

bag man is a really good read. some of the things agnew did were just stunning.

I am also reading it. It was her podcast that introduced me to the world of podcasting.

Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl Jonathan C. Slaght

A narrative description of the author’s research on Blakiston’s fish owl, the world’s largest owl, which lives in the Russian Far East and Japan. Not much was known about this bird, except that it is quite rare, and there is still a lot to learn.

The book describes the process of first finding the birds, then capturing them (not easy), and attaching data loggers to determine where they nest and hunt.

I very much enjoyed this book. It was quite interesting to learn about the behind-the-scenes work done by wildlife biologists, and the colorful characters that the author interacted with. Highly recommended.

Thanks! Never heard of them before. Magnificent birds - and the Wiki article is worth a look: Blakiston's fish owl - Wikipedia

never mind