Khadaji’s Whatcha Reading Thread - June 2024 edition

Summer is busting out all over the place in the Rocky Mountains… except for the day it snowed two weeks ago. Anyway, everything is green, the flowers are blooming and kids are out for summer.

So summer time, winter for our Southern Hemisphere Dopers, reading contest! (Honestly we adults should be getting free pizza for juggling our schedules and squeezing in reading time!)

Sooooo Whatcha all readin’?

Kindle: Two Necromancers, a dragon and a Vampire: The Unconventional Heroes #3 by L.G. Estrellla. The third in their fantasy series about a necromancer trying to win a pardon by doing the Magic Council’s dirty jobs. The humor is great, the snark on point and I just really enjoy the series.

Print: The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood. It’s her first book, I did not choose it, my book club did, and so far I find it pretty meh. The characters are lackluster and uninteresting, the plot doesn’t meander so much as walks into a room and then stands there wondeing why it came in there in the first place.

Also in Print: The Finer End by Deborah Crombie, the 7th in her Duncan and Gemma series… and what the actual f***, ma’am? It took half the book to get to the murder and there’s this paranormal thing dealing with some murdered monks in the 11th century in Glastonbury, one of which is communicating with a man in the modern world and … this is truly a glorious trainwreck to witness.

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 2005. Consequently, when he suddenly and quite unexpectedly passed away in January 2013, we decided to rename this thread in his honor and to keep his memory, if not his ghost, alive.

Last month: Well that flew by…

Fascinating non-fiction book called Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife by Bart Ehrman, a biblical scholar. The focus is on Western development of concepts of heaven and hell, particularly Judeo-Christian ideas of the afterlife. I was a Christian as a child and read the Bible countless times but this book makes it clear I really had no idea what I was reading because so much of it was out of context. But the author takes you from early Jewish ideas of bodily resurrection (which Jesus seemed to believe in) to belief in the eternal soul as influenced by pagan beliefs. Really cool. Very enjoyable read. And ends on a surprisingly positive note: early Christian belief in salvation for all.

Just started Stephen King’s You Like it Darker and hooked already. He’s still got it.

I’m reading about seven other books right now but I think I’ll report on them as I finish them, since right now I’m not sure what’s going to get finished.

I keep missing the book threads and letting entire months slip by, but I just started Kevin Wilson’s “Nothing to See Here” and when I read this line, I just had to tell someone:

“A lot of times when I think I’m being self-sufficient, I’m really just learning to live without the things I need.”

I feel that one in my bones. I read “The Family Fang” by the same author last year, and I’m starting to think he may be yet another writer who I wish would write faster.

Finished The Thousand Dollar Dinner: America’s First Great Cookery Challenge, by Becky Libourel Diamond, which was interesting. The chef who made the dinner, James Parkinson, also invented the concept of having Santa Claus (Kris Kringle) at a business (his ice cream parlor/candy store in Philadelphia) specifically for children to meet, in December,1848. (Or possibly earlier, but that’s when the ad in the book was dated.)

Now I’m reading Birder, She Wrote, by Donna Andrews.

Finished the Clifford D. Simak book. Now I’m reading Tales of Time and Space by Alan Steele. I also picked up a used copy of Walter J. Miller’s a Canticle for Leibowitz

On audio I just finished up Alfred Bester’s The Stars my Destination. Although I’ve re-read parts of it, I’m not sure if I read the whole thing since the first time I read it, eons ago. Next up is The End of the Whole Mess, an anthology audiobook by Stephen King.

My bedside reading is still Nick Abadzis’ Laika, a semi-fictionalized bio of the first living creature sent into orbit, on Sputnik 2, I remember as a kid being told about Laika, and what a wonderful thin it was that she got shot into space. My first reaction was “Did she ever come down again?” I didn’t get an answer, which should’ve clued me in that the answer was “no”. In fact, they didn’t release full details until the 21st century. Turns out that Laika didn’t even survive as long as they thought she would – she died of overheating on the fourth orbit. The craft was pretty quickly put together to meet a deadline Khruschev had set. I don’t know if the graphic novel covers this – I haven’t finished it yet.

I’m also re-reading Don Rosa’s The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, a much happier read, and well worth it. I’m glad I picked this up when I did. The stories are no longer available in a single volume, and the books in the series are grotesquely high priced. And two of the stories have been permanently banned from re-publication by the Disney company as of 2023.

Finished Annie Bot by Sierra Greer. It’s a novel about a female robot and her human owner, who uses her as both slave and girlfriend. It was really good, I couldn’t wait to pick it up each day to find out what would happen. Anyone who’s ever been in an abusive relationship will recognize themselves in Annie.

Started today on The House That Horror Built by Christina Henry.

On second thought, I can’t bear the thought of going on with it. That’s the problem with reading a good book, it makes the usual fare suffer in comparison.

Finished Birder, She Wrote, by Donna Andrews, which was okay.

Now I’m reading Wolf Hustle: A Black Woman on Wall Street, by Cin Fabre’.

Yesterday I read Debbie Howell’s novel, The Bones of You. It was a murder mystery, told from the point of view of several characters, including the victim. It was written well enough, but ultimately the plot holes, loose ends, and “twists” that weren’t twisty killed it. Not recommended.

I just finished Their Last Resort by CS Grey.

I’m not really a contemporary romance person. I love romance but usually in the context of science fiction or hard action/thrillers. I picked this one up because it was an Amazon First Reads book. It’s about a boisterous woman working on an island resort and her indirect superior who is kind of a stick in the mud. Classic enemies to lovers, although it’s more like fake enemies to lovers. They got into this rut where they playfully pretend to hate each other and they don’t know how to get out of it.

I liked it a lot. It’s light and silly but I thought the heroine was funny. Lots of sharp, witty dialog. There’s never any real conflict to angst over. Perfect beach read.

4/5 stars.

Just finished Mystic River by Dennis Lehane. A pretty good murder mystery which takes place in a Boston suburb, and the book has a totally surprising ending, at least to me. I thought, at times, that the author got a bit too wordy in his description of whatever he was writing about, to the point that I forgot what he was describing. Still, would recommend.

Finished Wolf Hustle: A Black Woman on Wall Street, by Cin Fabre’, which was okay.

Now I’m reading Broadway Revival, by Laura Frankos. A time traveler goes back to the 1900s to save George Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, and Cole Porter from their untimely deaths.

I’m rereading LOTR and am part way into The Two Towers. I haven’t read this trilogy since I was in college in the 60s, but much of it is imprinted in my memory, possibly because of the films.

Started today on The Woods All Black, by Lee Mandelo. It’s set in the 1920’s, about a transgender nurse who goes to serve in a rural community with narrow religious views. There may be a supernatural element also, I’m not sure.

I finished The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood last week. I give it a solid 5 on the Meh scale. It was an awful slog in places and I really didn’t like any of the characters.

On the other side of that, I just finished Grave Expectations by Alice Bell and enjoyed every minute of it. The story did drag a little at around the 2/3s point, but it wasn’t enough to make me put the book down. I really enjoyed these characters and the mystery kept my attention.

I hoped you would like it, I did too!

The sequel will be out in paperback this September. I’m looking forward to that.

Finished Broadway Revival, by Laura Frankos, which I enjoyed.

Now I’m reading Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses, by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

I have started The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. So far I am enjoying it.