Whatcha Readin' April 2012 Edition

Happy April fools day! I can’t believe 1/4 of the year is over already. And spring has sprung! (Although it is chilly and rainy here today.)

Finished Shadow Prowler by Alexey Pehov, the first in a trilogy - what I will refer to as a true trilogy in that book one does not stand alone.

It is good reading, but not great reading. I enjoyed the first and will read the others. It was better than the mind candy that I usually read, but not as good as (IMO) The Name Of The Wind trilogy.

Pretty typical plot: Ultra bad guy begins to stir after centuries of exile. Harold, a master thief, is recruited to hunt down a magic artifact to prevent his return. Orcs, dwarfs, elves and humans and magic and swords.

Linkto last month’s thread.

I’m halfway through the second novel in the **John Rain **series by Barry Eisler. Had a major malfunction when I ordered it from Amazon–thought it was going to my Kindle, but got the physical book instead. My bad: ordering after my second vodka gimlet.

I have the 4th **Game of Thrones **book in reserve (I cant seem to keep the titles straight–just call them all the Sword in the Stone books), as well as Savvy (a kids’ book by Ingrid Law) and a professional book by Lucy Calkins on reading instruction.

Just started The Cider House Rules by John Irving and am only about 10% through it. Good so far. Never saw the film, for which I believe Irving won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar. I’ll still be on it when we leave for the US in a few days.

Color of Magic was the worst Discworld book I’ve read so far, but it wasn’t horrible either.

Instead of library books, I’m going to read some books I own but haven’t gotten around to yet. First up is The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester, AKA The Surgeon of Crowthorne.

The autobiography of Johannes Jørgensen (1866-1956), a Danish writer who famously converted to Catholicism in the 1890’s, and left his home country for Italy.

I’m halfway through volume two (out of seven), wherein he describes his wild and crazy youth in Copenhagen. Great fun! The guy dabbled in Satanism (had a pentagram on the door of his first apartment), got into Baudelaire and the decadents, banged floozies, drank absinth, published his own zine, etc. Can’t help but think that a Mad Men-style TV series about the Copenhagen bohemians in the 1890’s would be pretty damn great.

Still seeking comfort-reading, I came across Huffington Post’s list of must-read books for women. Despite taking issue with the purpose of the list, I saw several books that I already had, unread on my shelves. So now I’m reading Seventh Heaven, by Alice Hoffman, and it’s just perfect for me right now.

The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice. It’s an odd book. I’m not quite halfway through it and find it to be a lightweight story written in a portentous style that suggests the author believes it to be deep and meaningful. I will probably finish it.

I’ve recently read a couple excellent fantasy novels (Throne of the Crescent Moon and Kraken). I don’t believe this book to be in their class.

Am 3/4th into Reamde by Neal Stephenson and am quite enjoying it. Next up I think will the Game of Thrones series…

Re reading “The Lord of the Rings” into Book Two “The Two Towers”, then I’m on to reading me some murder mysteries.

I’m now just over halfway through American Dervish, a novel by Ayad Akhtar. It seems semi-autobiographical, and is about a teenage Pakistani-American boy growing up in Wisconsin in the Eighties and grappling with his Moslem faith, his unhappy family life and his place in American society. So far it’s OK; not sure I’d recommend it to anyone, though.

I’ve read two slim but good books about George Washington over the past week or so. The Essential George Washington by Peter Hannaford is a collection of observations about GW from those who knew him personally, those who lived not long after he did, and those who thought about him long after he was gone. Mostly praise, but some criticism too. George Washington: The Founding Father by Paul Johnson is an English conservative’s brief take on GW’s life. Some minor factual errors I noticed, but otherwise a well-written, concise bio that’s worth a look.

The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye was remarkable. As soon as I finished I checked to see if the library had her first book and I will be going to get that as soon as I can. If you like books about early New York, you will like it.

Going to start Catch Me When I Fall by Nicci French, just something I grabbed from the shelf.

I read Amanda Foreman’s book Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire, which was pretty good. Lots of late 18th-century politics; Georgiana used her celebrity to promote the Whig party. The Keira Knightly movie *Duchess *was based on this book, although the movie skims over the politics and entirely omits Georgiana’s horrendous gambling addiction which did much to ruin her happiness.

Over spring break I read all four books in Sarah Monette’s Doctrine of Labyrinths series, beginning with Melusine. It’s fantasy, and I liked it pretty well, but it’s admittedly angsty and melodramatic, and lots of people would have no patience with it. Her writing is quite good, though, and I found myself mesmerized.

Now I’m in the middle of Freedom & Necessity, by Steven Brust and Emma Bull. It’s set in England in 1849, classified as fantasy but so far it has been pretty much straight historical fiction. It’s epistolary - composed entirely of letters, journal entries and the occasional actual contemporary article from the Times. It’s hard to describe the storyline without spoilers, but it begins with a letter from a man who was presumed dead, writing to tell his cousin he’s still alive. There are revolutionaries, philosophers, secret occult societies, and conspiracies. The prose is dense and Victorian, but quite well written. It’s a long book - my hardback is 450 pages but the type is tiny.

She is shown gambling, but you’re right, it isn’t emphasized. Decent movie, though, I thought.

This book, about the man who stole the famous Gainsborough portrait of the Duchess and later inspired Conan Doyle to create Prof. Moriarty, may also interest you, Eleanor: http://www.amazon.com/The-Napoleon-Crime-Times-Master/dp/0385319932/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1333465467&sr=8-2

Thanks, that does sound interesting.

Just finished The Bards of Bone Plain by Patricia McKillip, am now reading Spin Control by Chris Moriarty. It’s a loosely connected sequel to Spin State by same author, same setting different main character. The Spin books are interesting science fiction. I’d recommend all three.

I’m still reading A History of the Christian Church by Wiliston Walker - It’s a wonderful example of clear, concise historical writing. Various heresies and schisms are described very neatly in terms of ‘this is what this group believed, this was the orthodox point of view, this was the result’, so that the reader knows what is going on without prolonged digressions into minute points of doctrine. I’m up to the 4th Century.

In rehearsal, where I can’t concentrate as easily (and frankly, it’s a bit heavy to drag a big ole hardcover like that around with all the scores I have to take back and forth.), I’ve finished reading The Daughters of Cain, by Colin Dexter. I’m sure Inspector Morse needs no introduction from me - I’m only sad that I’m down to two more novels and a collection of short stories before I run out of Morse books. The foreshadowing in getting thick and ominous.

I just started Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin. This is everything I liked about Brother Cadfael only MUCH better written and without the predictable formulae. I’ve been gobbling it up - she has written three other books, and I foresee myself reading through them all before the year is up.

I just started A Clash of Kings (second book in the series started by A Game of Thrones). I had picked up AGoT because I needed something to read on a cross-country flight, and my interest had been piqued by the HBO series (which i was aware of, but haven’t seen). I was immediately sucked in, and will no doubt finish the five existing books before Martin publishes the sixth.

Finished off the audiobook version of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - it was pretty entertaining overall, and I might have even learned something along the way. The postscript/epilogue was a nice way to wrap things up (tho I don’t know what to think of the sequel it hints at). Now I’m looking forward to the movie this summer… :smiley:

Working on Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World by Jill Jonnes - it deserves more time than what I’ve been giving it… Edison’s coming off as quite a jerk & I didn’t realize that Westinghouse was as much of an inventor as he was.

Working my way thru Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke and Key graphic novel series - have Crown of Shadows sitting at the top of my ToRead pile. Wonderfully creepy story & the illustrations are a perfect match. I may have to buy these once all is said & done.

I’d totally forgotten about this series, which I still haven’t read. Sometimes I’m in just that kind of mood. Thanks for the reminder!

2/3 through David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, which is awesome.