Khadaji’s Whatcha Reading Thread - May 2022 edition

I finished The Children on the Hill, which started implausibly and then turned into complete bullshit. Jennifer McMahon is no longer a must-read author for me.

I’m currently reading The Temps, by Andrew DeYoung. It’s about some young people who take low-paying jobs at a big corporation. No one really seems to know what the corporation does, but one day a catastrophe descends, trapping these temp workers in a huge office building. Now they must try to survive post-apocalypse, and hey…just where did this apocalypse come from anyway? Loving it so far (she says, typing away in a small office building, expecting just another boring day…)

Last month @Meurglys mentioned a novel called The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd, and even though they weren’t thrilled with the book I like maps and geography and thought I’d give it a whirl.

I did finish it, but didn’t like it much. Reminiscent of Dan Brown, down to the not very good writing and the too many characters who are mostly not well realized. I agree with Meurglys that the ending was weak, too. Also, the premise reminded me of Harold and the Purple Crayon, which is a lovely book but not perhaps enough to sustain a novel for adults.

After I finish a book I like to read reviews, and I was surprised to find that the three reviews I read (WaPo, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly I think) all gave it positive, even glowing, reviews. So, maybe you shouldn’t be quick to accept my perspective!

I finished The Hobbit and it is still the perfect fantasy novel. However, it has left me with a dilemma.

As I mentioned upthread, I read my dad’s 50th anniversary gold hardbound edition. The front cover is edged with Dwarven runes and I can’t read them. I’ve made out “The Hobbit” on the left side, and I think the rest of it says “Or There and Back Again.” Can one of you fine Tolkien nerds take a look at the cover at the link here and tell me what the rest of it says? I would be ever so grateful.

An autobiography by the tiger king.

Well, that’s two of us here that thought it was weak, so maybe we’re right and the reviews are wrong.

Now embarked on the very substantial looking memoir by Kim Stanley Robinson called The High Sierra: A Love Affair.
It’s over 530 pages Inc photos and is a memoir of his life, concentrating on his many times hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada! A passing aquaintance with the mountains and their National Parks is probably a benefit although he also gives loads of info about their history, geology & ecology, habitats, etc.
I’ve never been to the Sierra Nevada , although I’ve been to various other mountain ranges, but I’m enjoying it so far (a massive 30 pages in!)

If I decide to take breaks from reading it, I’ll probably continue with reading The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson. There are hundreds of accessible parallel worlds but a traveller will die horribly if their double is still alive on the world they visit! A destitute young woman finds a dead visitor to her timeline and steals her transport device and assumes her identity. Such is her/their impoverished background, she only has equivalent lives in 8 other parallel worlds and can thus visit all the others safely, so is in demand as an agent collecting information useful to the home world. Interesting, but I was going quite slowly when the Robinson arrived so I doubt I’ll finish it very soon.

Finished Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s Making Book, which I enjoyed.

Now I’m reading Clash of Eagles by Alan Smale. It’s an alternate history in which the year is 1218 CE, Imperial Rome hasn’t fallen, and it’s trying to conquer Nova Hesperia (a/k/a North America).

Finally finished the monumental The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance, by one of my favorite historians/biographers Ron Chernow. His first book, which netted him the 1990 National Book Award for Nonfiction. I have never been the least bit interested in the worlds of finance and banking, and I’m still not, but this is a fascinating history of the House of Morgan’s involvement in many of the major episodes of national and world history from its inception in the mid-19th century. I might actually have wanted to be a Morgan partner in the late 19th or early 20th century if so many of them had not died an early death from overwork.

Am now almost halfway through Billy Summers, by Stephen King.

I read “American Baking Dynasty” … :smiley:

That’s right, and Modern Finance rose because there was lots of yeast. :wink:

Finally finished Rachel Maddow’s Blowout. It’s interesting in small bites, but the book as a whole doesn’t gel – it seems to lurch from topic to topic without building to a finale. It’'s like an episode of her show turned into a book.

I’'m still reading How Carrots won the Trojan War as bedside reading, but I’m doing as my regular book Seth Shulman’s The Telephone Gambit: Chasing Alexander Graham Bell’s Secret. It’s a short but revealing account of how Shulman thinks that Ball essentially plagiarized Elisha Gray’s invention of the telephone. It’s good to see the evidence laid out clearly, as Shulman does. But he’s acting as if this is some new discovery, and I know that I’d read about this whole controversy back in the 1990s. (which seems to be before Shulman was working on it.), and citing the same evidence.

On audio, I finished Preston and Childs’ Bloodless and am now reading Mary Roach’s Fuzz, about human-animal (and especially police-animal) interactions. My favorite part is at the very beginning, where she observes that several hundred years ago in Italy two bears were excommunicated. It answers, at least in those cases, the perennial question “Are Bears Catholic?” In that case, even if they had been beforehand, they clearly weren’t afterwards. As always, the answer requires that you specify which bears are or aren’t Catholic.

To answer the accompanying question, you have to ask which pope. I’d be willing to bet that Julius II, who accompanied his armies into battle, probably pooped in the woods.

I finished reading The Temps, and gave it five stars. Now let me walk that back a little: it’s not the greatest, most amazing book, and I’m not even sure the author stuck the landing, but I gave it five stars because it entertained me, kept me turning pages and took my mind away from reality. That’s what I was hoping for, and I did enjoy the ride!

Today I started on T. Kingfisher’s newest, Nettle and Bone. It’s about a princess, who seeing her sisters married off to an abusive man, and the hardships of bearing his children, starts to learn about ways to prevent pregnancy. There’s more to the story, of course, but that plotline right there is so relevant now.

I’ve just finished the Farseer trilogy by Robin Hobb - v well regarded fantasy books that most fans of the genre have prob read, I’d just never got round to them for some reason.

She’s very obviously a skilled writer - tremendous feel for character and story. And she needs to be, because the plotting is exceptionally bad. I didn’t mind too much (there’s no way you get to the end of book 3 if you do mind), there was so much of the books to enjoy, but it really was intrusive at times.

Happily pick up another of the trilogies at some point - like her style and most non-spoiler recommendations for the latter stuff sound strong.

I just finished Mary Roach’s Fuzz on audio, and I was delighted to hear that she cites The Straight Dope in one footnote. (Yes, after finishing reading the text of her book – Mary Roach is one of those authors who narrated her own audiobook – she went through and read all of the footnotes, in order. I’ve never heard anyone do that before.) It’s the one about Mussolini’s brown shirts force-feeding large doses of castor oil to people they wanted to punish. It’s \good to know that Roach reads The Dope. For all I know, she’s a member of the SDMB, or at least a lurker.

Next up – Paul Theroux’s Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, his thirty-year-later follow-up to his 1975 The Great Railway Bazaar, which I “read” on audiotape many years ago. I found a copy of this at a library book sale last weekend.

I enjoyed it, but I never did read the other two books after it, although I know I have them in a box somewhere.
Loved the use the Cahokian pyramids were put to!

I read Mary Roach’s Fuzz not long ago and also noticed the footnote in which she cites to the Straight Dope. I think I might’ve posted about it in a previous Whatcha Reading thread, too.

Finished Clash of Eagles by Alan Smale, which I liked a lot. I’m planning on reading the next two books.

Now I’m reading The Physics of Everyday Things: The Extraordinary Science Behind an Ordinary Day, by James Kakalios.

Finished Suspicious Behavior by Cari Z. & L.A. Witt. It’s a fast paced race against time as Andreas & Darren try to stop a serial killer before he kills again.
Since I am listening to it on audiobook, I notice every time the narrator, Michael Ferraiuolo, says Darren. He pronounces it with a rounded a whereas out here in the wild West we’d use a flat e Ie Derren. Nothing exciting here, just an observation.

My daughter just gave me a copy of a book she picked up at a closeout sale:

The Beautiful Poetry of Donald Trump by Rob Sears

1.) My daughter does not know that I have written several SDMB threads on The Poetry of Donald J. Trump. I’m going to have to show her.
2.) Sears does indeed use quotations from Trump to create free verse concoctions. But he doesn’t do what I do – take transcripts from Trump speeches or interviews and re-format them. He chooses each line separately, from different sources. Call me elitist, but that’s Cheating. Using that method, you can make anyone sound like a poet. In fact, you can make them into any kind of poet you want. I take advantage of Trump’s mindless repetition to structure his bleatings into something resembling something that might be an actual poem. But to do this, you need the unedited, unfettered, at some length free-associating output of Trump at full oratorical gallop. You can’t just take random bits and pieces.

I finally finished listening to Silverview, the last novel by John Le Carré, published after his death. Perhaps reading it would have been better, as I quickly got confused by the multiple storylines, which never really quite came together. And the ending, such as it was, certainly left me hanging.

Not a book I would recommend. YMMV.

I agree. The way you do it is much better!