Khadaji's Whatcha Readin' - February 2014

Oh, bup, I’m so sorry. You reading to your wife for those 18 months is one of the sweetest things I can imagine someone doing for his / her partner. My sympathies are with you. {{{hugs}}}

I’ve got three books going at the moment, including two great nonfiction books.

Nonfic 1: Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to the Modern Era by Lucy Lethbridge. Well-written servant history for the layperson, and a must for a Downton fan (even someone who dropped out after the third season like I did). I would have been even happier with a history of servants in Britain that goes farther back yet, but everything covered has been given just the right amount of detail and documentation thus far without tedium. About halfway through this one.

Nonfic 2: The Sexual History of London: From Roman Londinium to the Swinging City - Lust, Vice, and Desire across the Ages by Catharine Arnold. Entertaining history of sexual practice, especially sex-for-hire, etc. in London down the ages. Arnold tends to overgeneralize, from what I can tell - there’s not a ton of historical evidence for some of the practices she claims are wide-spread - and she also accepts verbatim some of the more extreme stories about historical persons that don’t have other verified sources. Still, it’s fun to read, and in the whole, seems to paint a fairly likely view of practices through the ages. About halfway point in this book too.

Fic: Seven for a Secret by Lyndsey Faye. I enjoyed the first ‘early days of detectives in the NYPD’ mystery featuring Timothy Wilde and thought I’d give the second one a go. Thus far interesting and honestly, quite gut-wrenching in its examination of the kidnapping of free African-Americans for resale into the slave trade in 1846. Not too far in this one yet but it’s started well.

bup - my condolences… I hope someday the books you shared together will bring you comfort in your memories.

I am way behind in my reviews - so here’s a few quickies:

Unnatural Disasters - Daniel Pyle, Ed. A collection of short stories about tornadoes, floods and other Acts of God that have an ungodly component. The carnivorous bread starter one was a bit odd, but most were pretty good; “Twist” by Daniel Pyle was heartbreaking; and “Whiteout” by Danielle Bourdon was a bit hard to read, considering the recent weather!
I got it as a Kindle freebie - it’s currently $2.99 and worth if if you’re into quirky horror stories.

I also wrapped up The Randall Garrett Megapack, 25 Classic Science Fiction Stories - I think I’d read one or two of his stories over the years - as a few felt familiar, but the majority of this collection was new to me and I enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s a nice mix of material, mostly from the Classic Age and has sparked my interest in reading more of his work - tho it may be a bit tricky to find.

Hook and Peter by Peter Jacoby was another Kindle freebie - currently $4.99 or free thru the Amazon Prime Lending Library. This novella (122 pgs) is a retelling of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan set in Edwardian London where Hook is a retired police officer and Peter is a child trafficker. If you enjoy this kind of mashup/deconstruction, it’s an entertaining example, and a pretty good first novel. I’d be interested to see what Jacoby comes up with next.

I just finished reading The Martian, by Andy Weir. Really quite gripping, the kind of book you find yourself reading at 3am after telling yourself ‘just one more chapter’ for the last four hours. The author also really did his homework as far as working out the physics and requirements for surviving on the surface of Mars after being accidentally stranded there.

I finished The American Gun Mystery by Ellery Queen. Once again, I run across many downright hostile reviews of a Queen book I like. The ones I hate are the ones that everyone else raves about. (Except Blow Hot Blow Cold which everyone, including myself, universally agrees blows rancid goats.)

The biggest problem with this installment is that there is no clear motive. Queen and his buddy J.J. McC mention it in the third-to-last paragraph on the last page, but it’s not really clear, even after the discussion.

[SPOILER]There’s something “doubtful about the parentage” of the murdered man’s adopted daughter and the first person he killed knew about it. What the doubtfulness is remains the true mystery. Considering the book was written in 1933 and the woman is consistently described as having a “brown face,” I think I know but a little clarity would help, especially considering I had just sat through a very meticulous reconstruction of all the clues in the last chapter.

And I’m sorry, Challenge to the Reader chapter, all the clues were *not *given to the reader. No mention was made of the gun belt being fastened through the first hole. I know because I checked.[/SPOILER]

Next up is Tarquin Hall’s To the Elephant Graveyard and Frances Carpenter’s Tales of a Korean Grandmother. Reading all the Vish Puri mysteries sent me to an Indian restaurant for lunch today. There’s a Korean place in downtown My Fair City, so we’ll see if Carpenter sends me there for lunch next. I will not be having the kimchee.

Currently finally reading Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson. I bought the trilogy in hardback as they came out but never quite got round to reading them - until now! Not sure if I’ll read right through the three books or pause to read something else between them…

Haven’t posted in a while :slight_smile:

In 2014 I have read:
The Expanse series (1-3) by James S A Corey…it was alright; fast pace, interesting characters but nothing mind-blowing
The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer…a must-read, one can see why all the praise
Bedlam by Christopher Brookmyre…interesting concept, fast pace, enjoyed it very much

I started the illustrated Gormenghast trilogy a while back and had to stop as it just seemed to drag on forever. Yesterday though I picked up where I left and have just started the third part/book Titus Alone. Someone you can clearly tell already a few pages in that this was written by someone else as the prose comes near but is not quite the same as the previous two books

Yesterday I finished Partials by Dan Wells. This is a post-apocalyptic book about a teenage heroine who is tough and smart and pretty and will do anything to save the human race. :rolleyes: And oh no…a love triangle? There were a lot of cardboard characters and a flurry of fight scenes, which I skimmed because I pretty much knew who’d win. That said, I may go on and read the second book. The TBR pile is low right now, and I know Mr. Wells is capable of writing better stuff than this.

This morning I started The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban, another YA book. I’m not sure this is going to be my cup of tea either, but I like to read about boarding schools and the English assignment sounds interesting.

That’s on my wishlist, looks really interesting.

I’ve started reading Regenesis, by C.J. Cherryh, which is the fairly new (2009) followup to her 1988 Hugo winning novel Cyteen, which I liked very much. This one picks up immediately after Cyteen, and it’s pretty slow here at the beginning.

I just finished reading Indiscretion, by Jude Morgan, an old-fashioned Regency romance novel. Plotwise the book is pretty standard for the genre, but it’s rare - seriously rare - to find a modern Regency romance that is so well written, and I was charmed. Fans of Georgette Heyer would probably like it. Morgan is a pename for a male writer (unusual), and I’ve already ordered a couple more of his books.

RIGHT? The whole time I was thinking “how could they (they = readers of the time) possibly NOT figure it out?” And then I’m trying to remember that I wasn’t alive (or was an infant) during Tiptree’s heyday, so I don’t really have anything to base that on. Maybe the assumption was so strong back then that a talented writer had to be male, especially within that genre … and of course the writer was using a male name and readers had no particular reason to think the writer was using an assumed name.

I’ve begun Nine Men of Power, a nifty 1974 collection of biographical essays by British politico and author Roy Jenkins. The first article is about economist John Maynard Keynes, who was, in his free time, ballet-mad (he married a Russian dancer) and also had a keen eye for art - he was given 20k pounds to go art-shopping for the British National Gallery in Paris right after World War I, and came back with a treasure trove of Monets, Cezannes and other now-priceless paintings.

I dumped The Good Lord Bird by James McBride. I’ve read too many really good dark and gritty books set in that time and place and it was blah in comparison. Maybe it’s not supposed to be dark and gritty?

Am about halfway through The Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II by Keith Lowe. It’s all new to me. I haven’t read any other nonfiction about what happened after, and the only novel I’ve read about it was Exodus. What an eye opener. The reviews at Amazon are generating a lot of comments. The author is accused of being anti-American and left-wing. :confused: The book seems balanced to me.

I think it was recommended by a Doper, so thanks!

Finished A Feast for Crows, by George RR Martin, the fourth book in his series A Song of Ice and Fire. I felt it didn’t have the oomph of the first three books, but it was still good nonetheless. That leaves me one more book to go in the boxed set I have, but fortunately Martin is still writing them, and two more after the fifth book are scheduled for a total of seven in all. However, he has been known to take his time writing these. The one I just finished came out in 2005, and at the end Martin had a note saying he hoped to get the next installment out the following year, when in fact it took him six years, until 2011.

So I’m going to take another break from Martin in a bid to put off the time when I’ll have no more Martin to read, and I’ve checked out some more old Elmore Leonard from our library. First up is his Cat Chaser.

I loved that book! Mark; the engineer, mechanic, I can fix this somehow, methodical, never give up guy totally sounded like my husband:cool:

And the Doper Award for Understatement of the Year goes to…!

Finished The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban. I found it more tepid than tragic. Parts of it were downright cozy, being that it took place in the second dreamiest boarding school ever (first being Hogwarts, natch). Anyway, it passed the time this week.

Started today on The Servants, a ghost story by Michael Marshall Smith.

I don’t think that there was any particular assumptions about SF writers having to be male, at least not by the early 70’s. You had Kate Wilhelm, Ursula K. Lequin, Anne McCaffrey, and Joanna Russ, among others. Granted, a lot of their work (especially Russ) was all dark and broody rather than space opera, but that’s because early 70’s SF was all about being Serious Literature.

I guess the secret was out by 1976 or so, but I don’t see how anyone could read, for example,“Houston, Houston, Do You Read?” and have any question about the gender of the author. Come on … a story about a post-apocalyptic civilization populated exclusively by women clones that’s peaceful and strife-free until a spaceship of men returns, at which point the men immediately start banging their chests (until they realize that they’re experimental subjects). That’s pretty blatant.

Huh. I never knew the Miles Davis song was based on the score for a film that was based on a book. Either way, I do like your use of the bolded verb above. :slight_smile:

I mentioned early on that I’m trying to slog through “Guns, Germs and Steel”. Trying. I’m about 30% in and I’m hoping somebody will tell me that it gets better or that it at least gets more interesting. If I have to read one more section about the size of cereal grains or how domestication of some seed or another proceeded east at 0.5 miles per year, I’m going to hurl. At this point, I’ve put the damn thing down and am taking a break.

I’m late to the whole Steampunk genre but am enjoying it immensely. After finishing Gail Carriger’s adult series about Alexia Tarabotti, I’ve started the YA books set in the same universe.

Is it cheating if I’m also having books read to me? I’ve gotGood Omens on Audible. I reread it yearly, more or less.