Whatcha Readin' Feb 2011 Edition

Happy Valentine’s day all! And let us not forget Groundhog’s day! It is looking here like the Groundhog will not see his shadow this year. A miserable wintry mix on Wed.

Finished I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore. I picked it up at Borders when I was spending my Christmas loot.

John Smith is 1 of 9 aliens that have come to earth to escape an alien war on his home planet. He and his guardian must flee the Mogadorians who are bent on destroying them (and taking over earth too!)

I don’t know how it is marketed but in my opinion it is a YA book. In fact, as a teen I would have loved this book. Definitely a young man’s fantasy: Teen boy; special powers; fights the bad guys; falls in love with the hot girl; saves the girl. A little pathos at the end.

As an adult it was OK, but nothing special to write home about - at times it was a page flipper. I am not sure I would have bought it if I had known it was the first of a series. I may buy the next, but haven’t decided.

Last month’s thread.

Thanks as always for the thread, Khadaji.

I am currently reading* Flashman at the Charge*, by George MacDonald Fraser. This is the first Flashman book I haven’t been able to get on CD from the library and I am missing the reader very much, but of course it’s a very entertaining tale anyway.

I’m reading Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie. It started out promising but now it’s starting to drag, hoping it picks up soon because I have Sunne in Splendor by Sharon Kay Penman waiting in my Kindle lending queue and I don’t want to keep the lender waiting too long.

For the car, I’m halfway through Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. I have already read Medium Raw and The Nasty Bits and this is just as good, if not a bit better since you can really get the feeling he’s not so important/famous at this point, which makes it more fun. I especially like the Bigfoot section, reminds me a little of the (not chef-related of course)boss I worked for 15 years ago. Although I am not a junkie and was laid off due to the economy, had a similar scenario where I called him up for a job recently and got one that surpassed my expectations.

Currently in the middle of Connie Willis’ Blackout, with the follow-up All Clear on deck as soon as I finish. I really like it, but I think I should’ve paid closer attention earlier in the story. That’s what re-reads are for, I suppose.

I’m also stalled about halfway through Craig Ferguson’s American on Purpose. It’s hugely funny, and a really good book for reading in fits and starts - his chapters are pretty episodic, so I don’t feel bad putting it down for a while and picking it back up again weeks later. I have such a crush on Craigy Ferg; he’s my Hollywood Boyfriend.

Just finished A Fire upon the Deep and have started A Deepness in the Sky both by Vernor Vinge

Moved here from the January thread:

Just finished:

Corupted Science by John Grant. Excellent and compelling (although often brief) treatments of bad science. Now I want to get the other books in his series.

They Called me Mad by John Monahan. Bios of real-life “Mad Scientists”. I bought the book a couple of weeks ago from the author.

Is He Dead? a play by Mark Twain. I’m a big Twain fan, and I didn’t even know this existed, much less that it got produced, for the first time, only a couple of years ago. Fascinating, but disappointing.

Rumpole’s Christmas – one of the last of John Mortimer’s books
I’ve got a stack of books still waiting to be read, including the first volume of Twain’s newly-released autobiography.

One of my favorite books from last year was Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders, in which the curmudgeonly barrister finally looks back and describes the first big case he ever won - very funny, as you see Mortimer lay the groundwork for virtually everything we know about Rumpole: how he met Hilda, how he began his practice, how he first took on the Timsons as clients, etc.

Oh darn! Six more weeks of winter for me … NOT! :smiley: However, the wife and I did watch Groundhog Day again last night, if that counts.

I’m a little over halway through The Journeyer, by Gary Jennings. I’d say it’s every bit as good as his Aztec. Certainly as long. Pretty much as perverse. An excellent read so far. A fictional account of Marco polo’s journeys. At this point, he’s newly arrived in what is today Beijing and housed in the Forbidden City, which is actually one of my personal favorite places on Earth.

As I mentioned last month, some historians have doubted Marco Polo ever really made his travels. Among other evidence, they cite his neglecting ever to mention the Great Wall of China. In this fictional account, which is meant as a tell-all of the juicy parts that he felt best to leave out of his earlier works, “Marco” addresses that omission. He said he purposely left it out before because it was such a monumental failure. The Great Wall was supposed to keep invaders out, but then China – or Kithai as it was called at that time, the source of the Western world’s word Cathay – kept right on getting invaded. Well, that’s a nice try, Jennings, but a little hard to buy, especially since later on he goes into how magnificent the Great Wall is. I’ve been on different sections of the Wall myself – restored and crumbling alike – on different visits, and it’s difficult to imagine why anyone who actually saw it would fail to mention it. I’m not saying I don’t believe Polo made his journeys, just that it truly is an odd omission.

But I recommend the book, especially for Elendil’s Heir.

I’m reading Tropic of Cancer. It’s dirrrty.

Don’t expect All Clear to recap anything. The Wikipedia page for *Blackout *has a helpful list of the characters and what’s known about them.

I just finished The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris. It seems like everyone knows something about Roosevelt, but when I thought about it I realized that I didn’t actually know all that much. This volume covers birth through the day he becomes President.

Right know I’m reading Idiot America by Charlie Pierce (one of my favorite Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me panelists). It’s a bit of preaching to the choir, and the people that need to read this book won’t, but it’s a nice breezy read.

Once I’m done with that I’ll move on to Theodore Rex and continue on with Teddy Roosevelt. Not sure where I’ll go after that.

I read that a couple of months ago. I wish there was more to it, but the opening chapter (and cover illustration) are priceless.

4/5ths of the way through **The Tudors **by G. J. Meyer.

Thanks the tip on the Marco Polo book, Siam Sam. It’s on my list.

That’s easy - the third book in the trilogy!: http://www.amazon.com/Colonel-Roosevelt-Edmund-Morris/dp/0375504877/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1296526849&sr=1-1

It’s not that so much, it’s that I didn’t really catch on to the idea of all the different character’s storylines taking place almost contemporaneously, but shifted a bit - it’s not quite linear. For example, we’re following Polly, and she sees some urchins in the tube. One of the urchins says that her name is “Vronica.” Later, we’re following Eileen/Merope, and one of the urchins she’s with is searching for a name, and says that maybe she’ll go by “Vronica,” like Veronica Lake. That’s when I twigged onto it - it’s not linear, and Polly’s urchin might have been foreshadowing.

But maybe not, too - I’m about 60% through Blackout. But since I saw that, I’m paying better attention.

I’m dying to check out your Wikipedia page, as well as read some of the spoilers in the earlier thread we had here, but I don’t want to ruin it, so I’m trying to hold back. I doubt I’ll be successful for long.

I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett.

Getting to the end of Born to Run. It’s one of those books that I get excited when reading, but once I put it down, it’s hard to get myself to pick up again. But it is a great book, and I need to finish so I can return to the library.

Next up will be One Day.

A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman, I haven’t read it in over 20 years, so it all new to me!

also reading Longitude by Dava Sobel.

The Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike. Good stuff. Meaty.

Recently read Make A Wish by Don Robertson, one of my favorite writers. Also meaty. I don’t understand the title at all – there’s nary a wish anywhere – but that’s Robertson for ya. The book is non-linear, snippets of a man’s life from the 50’s to the 70’s. How he lost his virginity, his relationship with his brother, culminating in the story of a woman who murders her children.

Trying to read Justine by Lawrence Durrell, but not trying very hard. The writing is lovely but I don’t like the characters and there’s no plot, so far. If someone tells me it’s worth it, I’ll try again.

I’m reading Christopher Brookmyre’s Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks, which apparently is the “Winner of the 2007 Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Award for Writing”. The book is dedicated to James Randi and Chrisopher Dawkins, and it’s apparently going to pit scientists and one particular skeptic - “an observer who is an expert in deception” - against a set of spiritualists. I have high expectations - Brookmyre is very entertaining. I dinnae ken why he isn’t more popular.