Khadaji's Whatcha Readin' - January 2014

A very happy and prosperous New Year to one and all! May 2014 bring you joy, fulfillment and lots of extra reading time.

Let me see - I’m in rehearsals right now, so most of my reading time is restricted to the subway ride there and back. As a result, I’m using my Kobo e-reader a lot, and my chosen reading material is more mysteries and light fiction.

I’m about to finish ‘The Xibalba Murders’, the first in a series of mysteries by Lyn Hamilton. I might even finish it tonight, if I steal the time; that would bring me up to an even 30 books for 2013.) I have a bunch of Stephen Booth, Reginald Hill and Barry Maitland mysteries lined up.

At some point in January, I’m going to start ‘A Feast for Crows’, the fourth novel in George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire”.
And you - whatcha readin’?
A link to last month’s thread.
For those new to these threads - it has almost been a year since Khadaji passed away. He had been a member of the SDMB for a very long time, and was well known for his kind remarks and warm encouragement. He was also a phenomenal book enthusiast, and enjoyed discussing books and book recommendations almost as much as he enjoyed reading them.

When he died in January of 2013, we decided the most fitting tribute to a long time internet friend was to continue this long chain of book threads, and rename them for him. To Khadaji!

Here you go - the complete list of every book I finished in 2013 -

Beasts and Super-Beasts, Saki - Jan. 11
My Man Jeeves, P. G. Wodehouse - Jan. 13
Saint Francis of Asissi, G. K. Chesterton - Jan. 19
Whose Body?, Dorothy L. Sayers - Jan. 22
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Cory Doctorow - Jan. 27

What Ho, Jeeves, P. G. Wodehouse - Feb. 2
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - Feb. 4
Mysticism and Logic, Bertrand Russell - Feb. 11
Religion for Atheists, Alain de Botton - Feb. 23
What Money Can’t Buy - The Moral Limits of Markets, Michael J. Sandel - Mar. 1

Clouds of Witness, Dorothy L. Sayers - Mar. 16
The Storytelling Animal - How Stories Make Us Human, Jonathan Gottshall - Mar. 17
The Young Hornblower, C. S. Forester - April 29
Foul Matter, Martha Grimes - May 7
Fluke, Christopher Moore - May 18

City of Shadows, Arianna Franklin - June 21
Lost to the West, Lars Brownworth - Aug. 11
The Classical World - an epic history of Greece and Rome, Robin Lane Fox - Aug. 16
A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin - Sept. 1
A History of the World in Six Glasses, Tom Standage - Sept. 5

The Stranger House, Reginald Hill - Sept. 9
The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Sept. 12
A Clash of Kings, George R. R. Martin - Sept. 26
Norse Mythology according to Uncle Einar, J. T. Sibley - Sept. 28
Who’s my Bottom, Christopher Gillett - Sept. 30

The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger - Oct. 6
The Quarry, Iain Banks - Oct. 11
Bad Monkey, Carl Hiaasen - Oct. 15
River of Stars, Guy Gavriel Kay - Oct. 21
Captain Hornblower, R.N. - Oct. 28

A Storm of Swords, G. R. R. Martin – Nov. 27
Babel, Barry Maitland – Dec. 17
The Xibalba Murders, Lyn Hamilton – Dec. 31

I’m a little more than a third through A Storm of Swords: Part 2: Blood and Gold, by George RR Martin, volume 2 of the third book in his series A Song of Ice and Fire. The boxed set that I bought has the two parts in separate volumes, as this is the longest book of the series to date.

I’m now reading Letters to Jackie, ed. by Ellen Fitzpatrick, a selection of notes and letters sent to the First Lady by a grieving nation after President Kennedy’s assassination. Some of them are quite heartwarming and powerful, including one by a man held by the Nazis soon after Buchenwald concentration camp was established; he was then released, came to the U.S., was drafted and served as a U.S. Army translator, and then was part of the unit which liberated Buchenwald - and he was then able to greet some surviving friends there! Incredible.

I’m also reading parts of Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare, by Isaac Asimov. In the past few months I’ve seen RSC and NT simulcasts of Othello, Macbeth and Richard II, and I’m enjoying reading Asimov’s musings on those particular plays.

Top Ten books you read last year:

Finished the first book of 2014 – When the Sacred Gin Mill Closes by Lawrence Block. I put it in my top 10 for 2013.

It starts with a bang when a couple of masked men hold up an after-hours bar in NYC. The action then slows until the end, as we follow ex-cop/alcoholic Matthew Scudder around Hell’s Kitchen where all he does is drink, think and watch people. Sounds boring but it’s not. The ending – how Scudder helps his friends out of trouble – is rather shocking.

Not sure what’s next. I think it’s time to go through the stack – more than a few unread books, and some that are worth a re-read.

Based on a mention in a thread about WWI, I got The Great War in Africa from the library. It promises to be a good read.

I mentioned **The Almost Moon **last month – I got through a bunch of chapters before realizing I’d already read it! :smack: And while I can’t remember the rest of it, I hate to spend time on it when I have new books. So I am reading the light Summerland while I decide.

Notable book gifts I received: Ann Patchett This is the Story of a Happy Marriage and The Onion Book of Known Knowledge.

I’m finishing up The World of Mr. Mulliner by P.G. Wodehouse. It’s a collection of all the Mulliner short stories, which center around a fisherman in a bar telling stories about his infinite number of relatives (especially nephews). I thought most stories were very good (a few were a bit indicative of the time period, especially in terms of sexism).

Finished Goldsborough’s when Archie met Nero Wolfe. Terrible title; decent book. Now going back to Vol. II of Mark Twain’s autobiography.

Also, I’ve received volume I of the Game of Thrones Graphic Novel, with a nifty foreword by George R. R. Martin, in which he acknowledges being a big fan of comic books, including Classics Illustrated. The graphic novels offer a very different visualization than the HBO series.

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since we lost Khadaji. :frowning:

I’m reading “The Snow Child” by Eowyn Ivey. I’m really loving it and will probably finish today.

Before that I read “Wild Fell” by Michael Rowe, which I got on Net Galley. It was completely unexpected and I read it very quickly. If you like a good ghost story, check this one out.

I’m also working on “The Three Musketeers.” It’s going slowly because I keep picking up other books that I can’t seem to put down (namely the above two), but I’m not in any hurry.

Still plugging along with The Squared Circle. I’m enjoying reading about all these classic brawlers–guys my father would mention, like Gorgeous George, and folks who were still at it when I was a kid in the eighties, like The Fabulous Moolah. Looking forward to the next section of the book, focusing on wrestlers from the 80s “rock 'n wrestling” era of the WWF. I wasn’t a fan then–I didn’t really start watching wrestling until the early 2000s–but you picked it up by osmosis if you were a young boy at the time. They’re still the names I remember–Macho Man Randy Savage, Andre the Giant and the like. :slight_smile:

Tangentially related: Mom got me the complete A&E “A Nero Wolfe Mystery” DVD set for Christmas, and I’ve been working my way through it a few episodes a night. What a classic show it was–while there haven’t been many dramatizations of Nero Wolfe, I have to think that Hutton and Chaykin are to Goodwin and Wolfe as Jeremy Brett is to Holmes–the quintessential performance of the character. Also, damn but Hutton looks young! Of course, in Leverage, where I saw him last, he was playing a middle-aged functional alcoholic, so I doubt the make-up department did him any favors, but… And I’d like to steal his wardrobe, heh.

Maybe I’ll have a couple more Wolfe novels in my slow trip through the canon when I’m done w/ wrasslin.

I envy you – I missed some episodes from the series, and I’d like to catch up on them.

I envy you – I watched the series when it was new, but missed a few episodes. I’d like to catch up on them.

A friend gave me The Day the Universe Changed on DVD for Christmas, and I’ve been watching that

Have you read her Mistress of the Art of Death novels? They’re historical mysteries set in England during the reign of Henry II. I liked them very much, despite a truly terrible characterization of Eleanor, mercifully only in a couple of cameos. Henry’s few scenes are great.
I read the new novel Longbourn, by Jo Baker, which is yet another re-telling of Pride & Prejudice from the point of view of the servants at Longbourn. It’s pretty well written (vastly better than the few other P&P “sequels” or alternate novels I’ve seen) with an interesting look at the work of the servants behind the famous scenes in the original novel. Overall I didn’t much care for the story, though, and I thought it had an unnecessarily negative view of the Bennets - which other readers would probably see as realistic.

The main thing it did was leave me with the urge to re-read Pride and Prejudice, which I did over Christmas.

I read The Bones of Avalon, by Phil Rickman, an historical mystery featuring Dr. John Dee, a Tudor scientist and astrologer who was consulted by Queen Elizabeth I. I was lukewarm on the plot but the book is well written and atmospheric, and I liked the characterization of Robert Dudley, the queen’s Master of the Horse, who’s a secondary character. (The question of whether he was Elizabeth’s lover is left as much in doubt as it is to history.)

I’m nearly finished with The Madness Season, a 1990 sci-fi novel by C.S. Friedman. A few centuries in the future, a shape-shifting vampire attempts to rescue humankind, which has been conquered and dispersed by a powerful alien race. It’s not as hokey as it sounds, and despite a rather slow pace I’m enjoying it. (Someone mentioned this facetiously in a science fiction vs. fantasy thread not long ago, in response to a suggestion for “a space opera with urban vampires”. The book is not at all fantasy, though.)

I read 55 books in 2013: 43 adult fiction, 6 children’s/YA fiction and 6 non-fiction.

Late-December additions to my library:

The Mysterious Island - Jules Verne
The Ghosts Of Evolution: Nonsensical Fruit, Missing Partners, And Other Ecological Anachronisms - Connie Barlow
Spring Harrowing and Figure Away - Phoebe Atwood Taylor

The current house book is Figure Away, an Asey Mayo mystery I’ve never read. (I’ve read Spring Harrowing, but don’t think I owned a copy.)
The current car book is Old Bones, the fourth Gideon Oliver mystery (by Aaron Elkins), which I’ve read before. I don’t usually read two mysteries at once, but they’re different enough that I don’t expect any difficulties with mixing them up.

Just finished ***The Book Thief ***(which I bought at a book sale at my son’s school) and am now reading Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim.

I just finished **Downton Abbey: The Complete Scripts: Season One **by Julian Fellowes. The book is primarily useful for Fellowes’s scattered comments. You are torn between enjoying his thoughts and insights and wanting to smack the guy for his smug defense of this era.

Case in point. On page 113 he writes:

Oh yeah Julian. Let us take a moment in time to think about the plight of the poor little man who inherits great wealth, amazing connections, social standing and a house that might double as a museum. Let us pity these poor beings as they struggle to deal with the nearly unimaginable consequences that befall the fellow who gets priceless antiques, museum quality art, and astonishing privilege merely for having been born male to someone who once had out of wedlock sex with an inbred king. I shall tell my friend with advanced breast cancer who lost her home from lack of funds and ability to continue to work and was thus forced to move into a small rental apartment that her plight pales with that of the long suffering Duke or overburdened Earl.

On some level he’s nothing more than a slightly more literate Aaron Spelling.

I’ve read the first two, Mistress of the Art of Death and The Serpent’s Tale. I can certainly see how someone who takes Eleanor’s name would not enjoy her characterization; however, I thought the romantic, courtly and intemperate Eleanor made a great foil to the practical, logical Adelia.

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of her books sometime over the next couple of years.

In a similar (ahem) vein, I recommend George R.R. Martin’s Fevre Dream (vampire intrigues along the Mississippi River before the Civil War) and Christopher Farnsworth’s Blood Oath (a vampire is bound to serve the President as a sort of supernatural secret agent). Both sound hokey, I admit, but both are actually quite good.

If I didn’t know better, I’d suspect you were actually being sarcastic. Goodness me!

I loved Fevre Dream, but Blood Oath didn’t work for me.

I finished Madness Season last night, and I liked it okay. The writing is fine, and parts of it are really good, but Friedman’s storytelling style doesn’t completely click with me. I had the same sort of mixed feelings about her novel In Conquest Born. There’s too much good stuff for me to regret reading those, but I’ll hesitate to pick up any more of her work.