This is topic What I'm Reading Now Thread in forum Discussing Published Hooks & Books at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.


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Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
The idea of this is to keep a log of what you're reading, and how well you like it. When each book is finished, give it a rating: Recommended (reserve for ones you loved), Good (these are good reads, but not necessarily on your favorites list), Not Impressed (for books you didn't feel were special, but you wouldn't condemn) or Bad (you wonder how someone could've published such garbage).

This should save all of the What's your favorite book? or What books did you hate? threads,

As for me, I just finished Conn Iggulden's Emperor: Death of Kings--the second in the series. I'd give it a rating of Good. Though I liked Genghis: Birth of an Empire much better (and would give that a Recommend), you have to take into account that his Julius Caesar books (The four Emperor books), were his first ever.

I just cracked open Bernard Cornwell's Azincourt (which will be Agincourt when it's released in the US), and am already comfortably satisfied. The First sentence (as I mentioned in another thread) is a hook: On a winter's day in 1413,just before Christmas, Nicholas Hook decided to commit murder.
 


Posted by TheOnceandFutureMe on :
 
Storm Front and Fool Moon by Jim Butcher - Good.
Pretty awful writing, but really fun stories.

It's Superman by Tom De Haven - Recommended..
Really interesting view of Clark Kent in the time period he was originally written.

House of Leaves - Recommended
I read this a while ago, but any time I talk about great books I bring this up. It was bizarre, horrifying, and I had nightmares every night that I read it - no exaggeration.

 


Posted by arriki (Member # 3079) on :
 
I read really recently THE MAGICIANS AND MRS QUENT by Galen Beckett. An excellent fantasy and I say that who doesn't normally like fantasy. Slow moving but worth the wait. If Jane Austen wrote a fantasy, it would be this.
 
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Reading WRAPPED IN RAIN by Charles Martin right now.

Recently read ILL WIND by Rachel Caine. Interesting magic look at current natural disasters.

Also recently read THE ALCHEMIST by Paul Coelho (in English). Any chance anyone knows how I could get a copy of an original Portuguese edition? Does Amazon have a Brazilian website like the UK one, or might there be somewhere in the US (say, in the Ironbound section of Newark, NJ) where I could locate a Portuguese bookstore that could sell me a copy?
 


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
Kathleen, I take it the you're recommending The Alchemist by Paul Coelho?

Are you recommending the others?
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Sorry, IB. Neglected to do that explicitly.

Haven't finished WRAPPED IN RAIN, but I'm liking it.

The other two I would recommend, yes. (I probably won't post anything here that I wouldn' recommend, though.)
 


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
quote:

(I probably won't post anything here that I wouldn't recommend, though.)

So...you want us to waste our money/time when we don't have to? (Just illustrating a point.) Though not everyone is going to agree, we should learn who has tastes similar to ours, and that could help in recommendations and warnings.
 


Posted by annepin (Member # 5952) on :
 
Currently reading:
Ilium by Dan Simmons. Good. I really liked Hyperion which I read a looooong time ago. This isn't as good, or maybe it's because I started writing and thus noticing writerly things. An epic sci fi.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. Meh. It might be worth reading as a look into what's popular. Make sure you have a high tolerance for entering the mind of a hormonal teenage girl obsessed with a guy.

Son of a Witch by Gregory MacGuire. Meh. Read Wicked or Mirror Mirror first. This one feels self-indulgent.

Recently completed:
Fatherland by Robert Harris. Good.Chilling, well written mystery, if a bit cliched. It's a good subtle alternative future, however. Recommended for mystery lovers. I enjoyed his other book, Imperium much more, and recommend that without reservation.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. In my opinion, she's written the definitive love story. Highly recommended.

[This message has been edited by annepin (edited October 07, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by annepin (edited October 07, 2008).]
 


Posted by satate (Member # 8082) on :
 
Currently readding,

Book 3 of Robin Hobb's Tawny man trilogy. It takes her characters from her assassin trilogy which you should read first to fully enjoy the Tawny man trilogy. I'm enjoying it alot. I would recommend it.

I almost finished Kate Elliot's Crown of Stars series. I got to book 6 and finally gave up. I enjoyed the first two books but from there it went down hill for me. The plot began to inch along and I stopped caring about most of the characters. I tried to finish it in the hopes that it would get better but I quit. I do like the world she built, but if the series is going to be longer than 7 books I need something more than that to sustain me. I give it an allright with a shrug.
 


Posted by Crystal Stevens (Member # 8006) on :
 
The Once and Future Me; You say Jim Butcher's Dresden Files books are terrible writing? Could this be because Harry Dresden is telling the story and is in first person? I'll be the first to admit that I've never read anything else that Butcher has written, but the Dresden Files are some of my favorite books. The excitement and action never lets up, you're never bored, and I'd love to be able to write plots like that with all the twists and turns and have everything turn out right in the end .
 
Posted by Unwritten (Member # 7960) on :
 
I just finished An Assembly Such as This by Pamela Aiden and I was Not Impressed. I'm going to read the next one though, just because I am such a huge Mr. Darcy fan.

I found it when I was looking for another book by Joan Aiken, because I thought her book Jane Fairfax was at least very good. It's the story of Emma written from Jane's PoV. Perhaps there is some obscure law that your last name must start with A if you are going to write Jane Austen fan-fic?

Anne, you and I must have been reading Northanger Abbey at the same time. I just finished it, and loved it, as always.

[This message has been edited by Unwritten (edited October 08, 2008).]
 


Posted by marchpane (Member # 8021) on :
 
quote:
I just cracked open Bernard Cornwell's Azincourt

Jealous! I'm hoping to get my hands on a copy this weekend. Cannot wait!

Annepin and Unwritten - I've been considering reading Northanger Abbey, think I will after such words of praise...

Currently:

Ashling - Isobelle Carmody, book 3 of the Obernewtyn Chronicles. I adored these books when I was about 14/15, but it's been ages since I read them. This particular one isn't a favourite of mine, but overall I would still recommend the series, especially to anyone intrigued by a post-apocalyptic dystopian fantasy. The books are notoriously difficult to get hold of outside the author's native Australia, though.

The Other Queen - Philippa Gregory. I will withhold my judgement on this one as I've barely started it, but the opening hasn't impressed me. I think she's a decent writer of historical fiction, but out of the books of hers I've read only The Other Boleyn Girl really sparkles (though sadly the recent film was awful). I kinda know what happens to Mary Queen of Scots already, which might be the problem!

[This message has been edited by marchpane (edited October 08, 2008).]
 


Posted by Antinomy (Member # 5136) on :
 
I would say Anne Perry’s “At Some Disputed Barricade” was a good read especially for anyone interested in WWI trench warfare. A fictional story based on a historical event, it loses credibility somewhat when the MC, a chaplain, tracks down deserters by bazaar methods like flying into an air battle where he shoots and nicks the Red Baron’s plane, and with the fortunate ability to speak fluent German, he travels unarmed and undetected far behind German lines.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I picked up a pile of books on vacation, of which I've read some and have a few to go. I may comment on some others later.

But I was much taken by one book, The Ruin of the Roman Empire: A New History by James J. O'Donnell...it made a fascinating case that the so-called "barbarians" were trying to preserve the Roman Empire while the Emperors and others were essentially the ones who wrecked it.

It fit in with thoughts I've had about that particular era...I think my thinking was influenced strongly by L. Sprague de Camp's legendary alternate history novel Lest Darkness Fall, which in part promulgated this same theory...O'Donnell does it better and in much greater depth...
 


Posted by TheOnceandFutureMe on :
 
Crystal Stevens - Don't get me wrong, I love the Dresden Files. I also twitch every few paragraphs when he does something amateurish like in the middle of a fight scene say: "I could see the bad guy coming toward me."

I guess "terrible writing" was overkill, but I think he needs a better editor.
 


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
I would definitely recommend Azincourt (which will be Agincourt when it is sold in the States).

C. S. Forester's Lieutenant Hornblower is next.
 


Posted by philocinemas (Member # 8108) on :
 
Currently reading:

Dune: The Machine Crusade by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. Jury's still out - the first couple of chapters have felt like a big info dump. Hopeful - it's prequel got better later in the novel.

The Science of Science-Fiction Writing (NF) by James Gunn. Good - interesting mainly for historical insights into SF writing, including biographical info on Wells, Heinlein, Asimov, and the Kuttner/Moore team. Noncomprehensive - nothing on OSC or even Arthur C. Clarke.


Recently completed:

Dune: The Butlerian Jihad by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. Good + - The beginning starts kind of slow. I had just finished reading the first four books of the original Dune series and it was difficult for me to adjust to the new style. I felt like they had used a thesaurus to find adjectives, hoping that would make it sound like Frank Herbert. I felt like it tried to juggle too many stories. All that said, I felt that there were some stand-out characters. Two of the most interesting were robots. It got better about half-way through, but it left some of the story lines hanging.

[This message has been edited by philocinemas (edited October 16, 2008).]
 


Posted by aspirit (Member # 7974) on :
 
Read Since October 6, 2008 (listed in alphabetical order)

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones - Fantasy (or YA Fantasy)
Rating: Recommend
The book is more comedic, less romantic, yet as delightful as the Miyazaki movie.

Kitty and The Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn - Fantasy
I've read this novel before, and I Recommend it to those who don't mind vampires and werewolves as characters. The story contains an interesting mix of female empowerment, canine psychology, and theoretical sociology.

Of Two Minds by Carol Matas and Perry Nodelman - Young Adult Fantasy
Rating: Good

Just Finished

Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones - Fantasy (or YA Fantasy)
Rating: Good
A quick and charming book that kept me guessing, like Moving Castle. Unfortunately, I did not relate to Abdullah as much as I did Sophie in Moving Castle.

----------

Reading Now

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman - Fantasy

How to Write Like an Expert About Anything by Hank Nuwer - Non-fiction
I'm forcing myself to read this book, because I've already checked it out from the library. I don't feel like I'm learning anything new that I can apply to my writing.

Pen on Fire by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett - Non-fiction
I think I would enjoy this book more if I were in a local writer's group.

Reagan's Game by R. Safley - Horror

[This message has been edited by aspirit (edited October 21, 2008).]
 


Posted by MrsBrown (Member # 5195) on :
 
Alcatraz versus the Librarians, by Brandon Sanderson - YA Fantasy - So far, so Good.
It is extrememely clever and humorous, while telling an interesting story. I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

[This message has been edited by MrsBrown (edited October 23, 2008).]
 


Posted by Crystal Stevens (Member # 8006) on :
 
I'm currently reading an older Orson Scott Card novel called Treasure Box. I came across it at my favorite used book store and don't know if I would've picked it up if not for who wrote it. At first, I thought I'd made a mistake in picking it up at all. The first hundred pages or so read like it was just documenting the MC's life like a modern day fiction novel instead of a fantasy or science fiction tale, and then BAM! everything came together all at once. Now, I can barely put it down since the pace has picked up and the real conflict has been revealed. I'm a little over halfway through it. So if anyone else has read it, don't let me know what happens yet. It's really gotten exciting.

One thing about this book, though, sticks out like a sore thumb. I read the first three books of the Ender series before giving it up. It was just too deep for my tastes, but the main premise of the first book, Ender's Game, was the closeness of Ender and his sister. It also brought out that he wasn't very close to his parents. After all, they bustled him off the Battle School when he was(I think) about six years old or so. It's been quite awhile since I've read it. My point is that in Treasure Box the MC also has a very close relationship with his sister who dies at the beginning of the book. His father unplugged her life support because she's brain dead and in a coma, and the MC accuses his father of murdering his sister. He hated both his parents for this.

So, Mr. Card has used this sort of plot foundation for two different books. Both work quite well and are not even remotely related to each other. BUT because Mr. Card has used this more than once makes me wonder if it has something to do with something that happen in his own life... some tragedy he might have had that's cropped up in what he writes. It does make me wonder.
 


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
Lieutenant Hornblower was good. I found a PoV slip or two, but it really din't stop me. It's likely more people have than haven't read C. S. Forester, but I'd recommend it to those who haven't.

On to Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian. It's very odd switching from Forester's quick-paced 3PL to O'Brian's very detailed Full Omniscient. It's taking some acclimatizing--but there is a quality of knowledge to the prose that makes it feel period-accurate.
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Just finished BITTERWOOD by one-time Hatracker, James Maxey. Interesting book with a lot of imagination and some exciting twists and turns in the plot. It's about a world where dragons rule over humans, and it seems to have little anachronisms every so often, but there's a reason for them. I'd recommend it.
 
Posted by Unwritten (Member # 7960) on :
 
I just finished Nick of Time, a YA fantasy by Ted Bell. I thought it was good. I probably wouldn't have even mentioned it, except that IB brought up Horatio Hornblower. This book reminded me of Hornblower in some ways--part of the story was set in the time of Nelson and the Napoleonic Wars. It is the story of a boy named Nick who lives on a small island in the English Channel right before WWII. A distant ancestor sends him a Leonardo Da Vinci's time machine, and he travels back in time. It was a cute story with a lot of real history thrown in (there's a WWII subplot) BUT the tricks the author played with POV drove me crazy. Instead of breaks in between POV characters, he faded back and forth between characters during the same scene, but it wasn't really omniscient or limited, it was just aggravating.
Melanie
 
Posted by JamieFord (Member # 3112) on :
 
I'm reading Stephen King's Everything's Eventual--something creepy for Halloween. And I'm listening to Brandon Sanderson's Elantris on the iPod when I'm in the car.
 
Posted by KStar (Member # 4968) on :
 
I'm reading "The Witch of Portobello Road" by Paulo Coelho. I'm a huge fan of his.

Also halfway through "Les Miserable" but finding it to be slow going. I enjoy the story but the book is too thick to carry around in my purse so I don't get to read it unless I'm doing laundry or something.


 


Posted by Broda (Member # 8280) on :
 
I'm not reading any fiction at the moment but I did just finish reading Immediate Fiction by Jerry Cleaver. I definitely Recommend it.

I'm starting on Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King next - bought it on the recommendation of someone on this board (don't remember who at the moment).
 


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
I'm reading Scott Oden's Men of Bronze. It was nominated for a Quill. Funny, a couple of years ago, I might have devoured this, but now, I find myself having to make the transition from 3pl to Omniscient, and have discovered hum much characterization and penetration it loses to do so.

The verdict is still out on this one.
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Just finished Guy Gavriel Kay's YSABEL which won the World Fantasy Award for best novel a few weeks ago. I really liked it and feel it deserved to win.
 
Posted by Reagansgame (Member # 8149) on :
 
Just finished reading Joe Hill's works. Heart-Shaped Box and 20th Century Ghosts I cycle through authors. Once I find one I like, I try to read everything they have in print. Before Joe Hill, OSC was the last author I went through and that was in June. So you see, its been a while since I've had a steady and for those of you who like the twisted or the "just plain wrong": JOE HILL. The best part is the man has a great sense of humor. (I won't tell you who his papa is, don't wanna be the spoiler, but he gets extra credit for not writing under Daddy's name)
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
"I think I saw Joe Hill last night..."

*****

Since enough time has passed, I'll post another book I'm reading.

In between other books, I've been reading and rereading Chaplin: A Life, by Stephen Weissman, M. D....not so much a conventional biography as a psycho-biography, dealing with how Charlie Chaplin's early years shaped his life and his work. Makes for fascinating reading.

Along the way, I dug out an older Chaplin bio, as well as the movie "Chaplin" (which I bought a couple of months ago on DVD but hadn't watched before now---I'd seen it before, on laserdisc (remember them?) years ago.) Then I dug out some old tapes of the real Chaplin ("The Gold Rush" and a few shorts). (I've got nothing on DVD of his.)
 


Posted by Crystal Stevens (Member # 8006) on :
 
I finished ENDER'S SHADOW by Orson Scott Card just last week. What a read! I highly recommend it and can't wait to read the next one in this series.

I'm now reading ELDEST by Christopher Paolini. It's an interesting story, but I'm still seeing basic paralels to STAR WARS. In many ways, the story is uniquely its own, but the basic formats between the two are still there. My cousin pressured this book on me and loaned it to me. If anything, it makes good research.
 


Posted by arriki (Member # 3079) on :
 
Picked up a bit of mind candy at the library. DATING DEAD MEN. It's well-written and funny. A thriller in genre. Not sf of fantasy. Sigh.
 
Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
Arriki:
quote:

Picked up a bit of mind candy at the library. DATING DEAD MEN. It's well-written and funny. A thriller in genre. Not sf of fantasy. Sigh.

Sci-Fi and Fantasy are not prerequisites. Good or bad, speculative genre or not, this thread's about what you are reading, and if you'd recommend it.

Crystal Stevens:

quote:
I'm now reading ELDEST by Christopher Paolini. It's an interesting story...

Early on I saw a redeeming possibility (in the Roran, townsfolk, history theme) but, he totally ignored the opportunity--and made Roran and Eragon blend in to whining, crying (literally snot-snosed crying) licking their n*ts duplicates--there soon was no longer a distinction.
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Recently finished Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.

Enjoyably arty, I'd recommend it if you'd like another angle on Bradbury's style. (As an aside, I was mortified when the bookshop attendant saw the book and said, "Ray Bradbury, is he new?")

Currently 60% through reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

I know I'm jumping the gun, but I'd already say I'd not recommend this edition (author's preferred - read, extended - text) as it tends to meander a little too much at times, and sentences that extend for 10 to 12 lines cause my eyes to bleed. I suspect the original edition might be a little more to the point. Yet to decide if I'd recommend the book as a whole.

I'm still finishing my SF NaNoWriMo project so have been avoiding the same genre this month :)
 


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
I'm into Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield now. Not far enough to make a judgement though.
 
Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Can't believe I've missed this thread!

I've been on a mid-grade fiction kick lately. My Nano project was mid-grade (that 8-12 yr old range, MC was 11. I did it on purpose after many long conversations with my kids' school librarian who laments the lack of good new fiction in that category, and virtually no genre fiction.)

So I just finished
The Mysterious Benedict Society - Recommend
Story about a group of gifted kids and how they are recruited (by the good guys) to help foil a plot to take over the world by controlling people's minds.

I'm reading
Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon - Recommend
I haven't read any Elizabeth Moon before, but this is a great story.

Something I've learned from both stories is about pacing and about what scenes to dramatize. In both cases I've found myself wondering "why did the author bother to detail out that bit?" and then later realized that either the bit that seemed inconsequential turns out to have a role later in the story, or that bit helped you get some aspect of the MC's character or some piece of the setting in mind so that later when it comes up again you have a good visual to go back to.

My son and I are also reading City of Ember but we're not far enough along to recommend it yet.

I've got to keep a better personal reading log because I know I've read another 6-8 books in recent weeks but I can't for the life of me remember what they are!
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
You know, the problem with this thread is that if were were honest and posted every time we finished a book it would get very long, very fast.

ie, since my last post (and I'm not even a remotely voracious reader),
Finished: American Gods, by Neil Gaiman (Author's Preferred Text edition). I enjoyed it, but not as much as I'd hoped. While some of the more tangential scenes did have some relation to the plot I found them to be inconsequential and laborious. I also didn't quite feel fulfilled with the ending. I'd not recommend this to newcomers to Gaiman, but others may disagree. The standard text may be somewhat abridged and an easier read, however that's not the one I had. Not Impressed.

Finished: Ender's Game (Novel), by Orson Scott Card. I originally read this a long time ago, but I'm not 100% which version I read - it may have been the novelette version then, as I remember no reference to Speaker for the Dead or Valentine & Peter's story. I bought my own copy in November as it's something I'd like on my own bookshelf. I got far more out of it this time, I'm sure. I found the characters well developed, believable (on their own terms) and the technology sufficiently well presented (and ambiguous where necessary) to not appear dated. The YA-ish writing style makes for a quick and enjoyable read. Recommend.

Finished: Speaker for the Dead, by Orson Scott Card. I bought this with Ender's Game, having not read it before. I will try to be vague here to avoid spoilers: In general I found the book very enjoyable, however I had guessed the biology 'secret' by about the third chapter and so found it frustrating when most of the characters still didn't get it; I found the speaking of one character's life/death felt a little short and underdeveloped, while the promised speaking of others life/death was absent entirely, leaving me scratching my head wondering if I missed it. In general however, I found the book as a whole refreshing and enjoyable, its alien biology and societies interesting and well developed. Good.

Currently Reading: The Forgotten Children, by David Hill. The story of children enticed to immigrate from the UK to Australia in the early/mid 20th century under the Fairbridge Farms programme. Contrasts the difficulties and abuse that faced these children against the hollow promises and lack of acknowledgement of their situation by the authorities in both countries. The jury is still out on this one.

[This message has been edited by BenM (edited December 10, 2008).]
 


Posted by satate (Member # 8082) on :
 
Finished - The Highwayman by R.A. Salvatore - I wasn't impressed. I felt that the story started to early and the first half felt like backstory. The prologue introduced an interesting character with a nice hook and then the the story starts before that character was born. I barely made it through the first half and only finished it because there was nothing else around to read at the moment. The second half was better but still lots of information about characters that I didn't care about. Despite all that, I still found it entertaining.
 
Posted by missjack (Member # 8036) on :
 
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

Recommended.

I picked it up and didn't set it down until I'd finished. It's a YA fantasy (despite somewhat gruesome deaths more suited to adults), so it isn't long. It's the first in an unwritten trilogy (blast you Suzanne Collins), and it's about a futuristic Earth, and a set of games where the contestants fight until only one is left alive. It'll suck you in. A few things, like the characters name (Katniss...eugh) and the ever-convenient silver parachutes handily providing answers, might put a few people off, but not enough to not enjoy the book.
 


Posted by Crystal Stevens (Member # 8006) on :
 
Satate; I read THE HIGHWAYMAN several years ago and was not impressed in the least. It was so predictable with no surprises at all. Big bummer as far as I'm concerned. It was one of the worst books I've ever read.

[This message has been edited by Crystal Stevens (edited December 14, 2008).]
 


Posted by satate (Member # 8082) on :
 
Wow, the worst book? I've read worse. I was marginally entertained so it didn't make the bottom of my list.
 
Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
I finished Marque and Reprisal also by Elisabeth Moon, featuring the same MC as Trading in Danger. I recommend it, though it wasn't quite as good as the first. Still worthwhile. I haven't researched to find out if there are more stories with this MC, as the second book left a lot of openings/loose ends I thought.

I also recently read Deerskin by Robin McKinley, based on a recommendation of a friend who liked the other Robin McKinley books (Hero and the Crown/Blue Sword - two of my all-time favorites) I had recommended to her. Well, Deerskin was good, but it was a hard read. First, without going into spoilery details but because I wished I had known as it may have affected my willingness to read this book, or at least read it late at night, you need to know that it's a survivor story (sexual.) It's done well, in fact I think Robin McKinley has done the best job of painting the dissociative state I hear can happen after such an event that I've ever seen. Then again I tend to avoid this concept in my reading so...maybe I haven't seen much. But I felt the ending was a little rushed, and that there were a lot of cases of telling/explaining in the story. Not in a bad way, but in a way that is different than how books are written today (this one was published in 1993.) It was an interesting story and worth the read, but just a little farther out there than the other two books of Robin McKinley's that I've read. I do certainly like that she portrays strong female leads in a positive way. And there's much about Deerskin that I'm still thinking about here several days after I finished reading it. That's a sign of a good book to me.

I'm now reading In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker. Just started. Really weird concept, we'll see where it goes.
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Kage Baker takes that idea some pretty crazy places, KayTi (in my opinion), but I have enjoyed those books enough to consider reading them all again.
 
Posted by Crystal Stevens (Member # 8006) on :
 
I said ONE of the worst books I've ever read... not the worst. It was just that I knew pretty much what would happen before it did. Way too predictable for my tastes. I like a book that throws me for a complete loop and keeps me guessing with an ending that makes me want to stand up and cheer.

I'm now reading MEMORIES OF EARTH by Orson Scott Card. I'm just starting it, but so far it hasn't thrilled me. BUT TREASURE BOX was like that, too, and then it just took off and flew! We'll see how this one goes.
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
So I'm done with In the Garden of Iden - I give it a so-so recommend. It's a well told story, but I was surprised that the majority of the story takes place in 1500s England, complete with the ye oldes and that business in the dialogue. I found that a bit of a pain in the rear, not to my liking. I'll probably skim through other novels in the Company series to see if they go to eras that I find more compelling. It is a good book, but not exactly my cup of tea.

One possible reason is I'm not a big first-person fan and it's a first-person story (except for a weird interlude in third person near the end of the story, which bugged me because it seemed like the author couldn't figure out a way around a point-of-view conflict, so she just jumped into third person limited for a section and then jumped back to the first-person narrator.)

I just picked up Pattern Recognition by William Gibson (Neuromancer was checked out from the library and the librarian recommended this instead.) It is taking me a while to get into - the storytelling style is a little different, the content is dense, it's taking me a while to sink into his world. Enjoyable concept, though (a woman is a marketing psychic, basically - can sense what will be trendy/successful, without knowing why.) Tentative Good, maybe even Recommend.


 


Posted by Yufae (Member # 8346) on :
 
MOON CALLED by Patricia Briggs (and the two sequels) -- Fantasy novels about a shape-shifter coyote and her werewolf pack. Writing isn't great. She doesn't foreshadow very well, and the first 1/3 of each book has some fluidity issues. That said, awesome story, the kind that you smuggle to work and read when no one's watching. I couldn't stop reading until I finished the whole series. Overall: GOOD

[This message has been edited by Yufae (edited December 29, 2008).]
 


Posted by snapper (Member # 7299) on :
 
I enjoy Alternate history. Although, I am discovering it is a very hard genre to master. My evry first story I ever sold is a flash AH piece. Let me give you two authors and the latest books I read.

In At The Dying by Harry Turtledove strongly recommended

Last book of a long series about a future where Robert E Lee's battle plans aren't found by the federals before the battle of Antietam. The last book is the eventual defeat of a Confederacy led by a Hitler like character. Mr Turtledove really knows his history and writes such rich characters. Every book of his is a pleasure to read.

1901 by Robert Conroy Not Recommended

The idea is really cool based on old battle plans found in Germany. The Germans invaded Long Island and take New York in 1901. They intend to force the Americans to relequinish recently conquer Spanish Territory.
However, the strategic aspects are seriously flawed and the love story is just plain silly.
In Mr. Conroy's defense a friend of mine loved it.
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Finished Pattern Recognition by Gibson. Recommend. Great book. Odd storytelling style. Lots of non-sentence sentence structures. But compelling. I really respect the way Gibson seemed able to capture the essence of foreign travel for the MC, he has the character go through such accurate and vivid sensory descriptions of places that I'm convinced he's done a lot of travel himself, and was shocked in the acknowledgments at the end to discover that he apparently hadn't been to one of the locations but used a resource who helped provide him those details.

The book is also the first post-9/11 aware book I've read, and that was fascinating. It wasn't an immensely big part of the book, but there were a few themes and concepts touched on at times during the story that again felt really authentic and accurate to me.

One point of note - there's no real speculative element to the story. Nothing that happened in the story is outside the boundaries of things that could happen today, IMHO. Didn't detract from my enjoyment, and it's notable that it took me a good 100+ pages to figure that out.

I'm onto Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi. I really enjoy his writing style, thought Old Man's War was excellent, so I'm already really enjoying this. And it's a much quicker read, LOL.
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Just finished The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse. Loved every minute of it, even putting up with sitting in a puddle of perspiration during our 39C summer days down here to finish it off (air conditioning's kaput). Fun book with which to broaden one's horizons (I hadn't read Wodehouse before). Recommended.

Now to find something else in my 'to read' pile that might do the same job.
 


Posted by Ben Trovato (Member # 7804) on :
 
Currently reading: Animorphs #11 "The Forgotten." RECOMMENDED.
Solid characters, more than decent writing and credible sf plots. It's not high literature but it's quite good stuff.

Also currently reading Tad Williams "The Dragonbone Chair."
I'm not finished with it yet, but so far it's been straddling the line between Okay and Unimpressive. On the good side, the transmuted-Christianity is handled well; on the bad side, the teenage boy protagonist is boring and sulky.

Just finished: Twilight. NOT RECOMMENDED.
...I don't want to talk about it.
 


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
I finished Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. I'd recommend it, but with a caveat: it's slow and told from two different first person perspectives. It's interesting how he makes the battles drag out and the personal lives move along.

I'm reading Sharpe's Rifles by Bernard Cornwell now, since I put "The End" on my own historical of a similar era and can enjoy reading someone else's toil. I really haven't read a Cornwell book I wouldn't recommend (although they're not always fast moving).
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Stayed up till 2am to finish the last book in Brandon Sanderson's MISTBORN trilogy, HERO OF AGES. I had to see how he resolved it all, and it was worth it.

Haven't done that in a long time, and I think I'm getting too old for it, but it's a very creative and interesting trilogy with a magic system that is quite clever and innovative.

I recommend it, especially to those who liked his ELANTRIS.
 


Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
 
Count Zero by William Gibson...Recommend. The story is only pretty good, but Gibson has such a flair for interesting language that I'll pick up anything he wrote just to enjoy the words.

Oliver Twist...Good. Not my favorite Dickens novel, but it was pretty good.
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Just counted and I was able to read 71 books last year. That's better than one book per week. (I'm amazed.)
 
Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Kathleen, where do you keep track? I think I need to keep a log (other than this handy thread) as I often want to refer back to something but lose track of what book it was/when I read it/what the details were. Early onset is a killer,
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Not a book, but I've spent the last three days of spare moments watching and rewatching my DVD of "WALL-E"---which is good in every way I want a science fiction story to be.
 
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
KayTi, I have been listing book titles, authors, and page counts since June 1993 in those little 3x5 spiral notebooks.

I started doing it then because I'd been encouraging my daughters to read during the summer and keep track of what they'd read, and I decided to practice what I preached. It became so useful that I just kept it up.

I started putting the books in Goodreads this past year, and one of my goals is to get them all in this year.

I think Goodreads is a great way to share books with friends, and I would be happy to add friends that way if anyone is interested. (Email me your email address and I'll send you an invitation.)


 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
I'm with you, Robert. Watching that movie was joyful for me for that exact reason, it's everything I want a story to be.
 
Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
I'm into Ray Garton's Ravenous right now. Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Peter Straub have called his work "scary" and "involving"; "mature and thoughtful", "Gripping, original and sly" and demonstrating "a master's capacity for extending and maximizing the good old tension/fear effect". However, in the first 25 pages, I've read redundant prose, half-believable vocabulary and plot points, a cliche opening and another chapter that seemed to be taken from The Howling. Before I make a judgment, though, I'm going to see if it's just setting me up with a cliche opening to twist the story in a completely different direction.

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited January 12, 2009).]
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Finished Ghost Brigades and Last Colony by Scalzi - recommend them both (but start with Old Man's War.) Good series. Interesting characters, good storytelling, fun and quick to read.

I also finished Star Soldiers by Andre Norton - which was a collection of two novels in one book, as far as I could tell. Star Guard and Star Rangers, I think. They feature similar characters/environment but one takes place much later than the other (thousands of years.) They're both interesting. I'm glad I read them. I think that if you haven't read Andre Norton and are a fan of Golden Age Sci-Fi, you should read them. If you're not a fan of Golden Age or not that into Sci-Fi, I don't think I would recommend these as they are rather dense, lots of made-up names for characters and their ethnicities, place names, etc. I think that would get in the way of enjoyment for people not already fans of the genre.

I've just picked up Zoe's Tale by Scalzi, which is a parallel story to the Last Colony but told from the teenage daughter's perspective. I am sure I'll like it, she's got spunk.

I picked up Elantris (Brandon Sanderson) and Nightfall (Asimov) at the library and have another Elizabeth Moon book on the bookshelf. At this point my issue is not enough reading time. Good problem to have. What's everyone else reading?
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Finished Zoe's Tale by Scalzi - Highly Recommend Even though it goes with his other three books set in the same universe, it stands alone fine, IMHO. I think the plot was well-woven, a strong female protagonist, fun stuff.

Because my babysitter loaned it to me and I was starting to feel guilty about it sitting on my shelf all this time, I started Twilight today. So far so good, I'm sure I'll enjoy it as it seems everyone I know has read it and enjoyed it (exceptions here noted, and expected as people here are much more opinionated about speculative fiction which is one of many reasons I come here - for balance) It's a quick read. I'm noticing many useful things about how the author characterizes details. I'm also noticing many things about authorial asides and buried exposition that is a little obvious to me, but it's all useful in learning how good (where good = highly marketable/salable) stories are constructed. I'm only 40 pages or so in, but I predict it'll be a quick read.


 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
I'm almost done with Twilight, I know it's not going to be to everyone's liking, but I'm really impressed with the author's ability to manage and maintain dramatic tension. Most of it is based off a romantic-love/obsession type of tension that I think is a lot less appealing/interesting to men than women, but it's a really compelling book. It's a little slow in the first 1/3 but the rest has flown. There are plenty of adverbs and frightening sentence construction and repetitive language, but it honestly doesn't matter.

I'm taking that as a lesson to focus 95% of my effort on story and storytelling skills - pacing, foreshadowing, inner dialogue, plot structure/arc. I or my early readers will help me with that 5% of work on exact wording choices, but most of the effort should be on story. I expect, sometimes at least, that effort is in choosing the right words to convey a certain mood or deliver a certain plot point - but not in combing through each sentence painstakingly ensuring that every single word is just *perfect*.

At any rate, it's an excellent read, and a quick one. I do recommend it.
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I think enough time has passed to throw out another one...or another several, actually. It's coming up on the bicentennial anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, and one of the byproducts of this is a bumper crop of new books about Abraham Lincoln. I'm a sucker for anything about Lincoln, so this plays right into my hands.

I'll recommend:

A. Lincoln: A Biography, Ronald C. White, Jr.
The Last Lincolns: The Rise & Fall of a Great Family, Charles Lachman
The Great Comback: How Abraham Lincoln Beat the Odds to Win the 1860 Republican Nomination, Gary Ecelbarger
Abraham Lincoln: Great American Historians on Our Sixteenth Presiden, Brian Lamb and Susan Swain, editors
Vindicating Lincoln: Defending the Politics of Our Greatest President, Thomas L. Krannawitter
The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage, Daniel Mark Epstein
Lincoln, President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861, Harold Holzer
Lincoln at Peoria: The Turning Point, Lewis E. Lehrman
"They Have Killed Papa Dead!" The Road to Ford's Theatre, Abraham Lincoln's Murder, and the Rage for Vengeance, Anthony S. Pitch
Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander-in-Chief, James M. McPherson

Some are biographies, some are histories, some focus on one specific area of Lincoln's life...there are others, but these are the titles I could lay my hands on. (Of course there were a couple I didn't much like.)

[edited to correct a typo, which surpisingly didn't involve all the italicism]

[This message has been edited by Robert Nowall (edited January 20, 2009).]
 


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
Ravenous was a disappointment. For me, it was predictable, filled with every cliche and, worse yet, by trying to surprise the reader he ended up cheating me. Not Impressed/Bad.

On to Bernard Cornwell's The Pale Horseman. (I'm seldom disappointed in Cornwell.)
 


Posted by KStar (Member # 4968) on :
 
I'm about 3/4 through "Battle Royale" by Koushun Takami.

It's incredible. It's one of those books that makes me want to lock everyone I know in a room and not let them leave until they're through with it. I am uncertain why I like it so much... it's un-put-down-able.
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
I finished the first two Twilight books and I recommend them, with the caveat that they are quick to read, pretty heavy on the teen-girl romance angle, but the reason to read them is for pacing, I feel. The author manipulates pacing well, in my opinion. Not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but I enjoyed them and am awaiting my amazon shipment for the other two books.

In the interim, I read Elantris by Brandon Sanderson. Highly Recommend. This came highly recommended by others, it's on many people's "must read" fantasy lists. It was quite long (took me 8 days to read, which is somewhat unheard of for me these days) and dense at places. A lot of made-up place and people and thing names (including stuff like terms for religion.) That usually is a turn-off for me but the author switches between 3 main points of view for the majority of the novel and that helps.

The pace is slowish through most of the book, but the last 100 pages are packed with action (so do yourself a favor and don't do what I did and start the last 100 pages at 11:45 PM...because it's really hard to put down once you get into that section. LOL)

I'll probably polish off the next two twilight books and then read another Elizabeth Moon. Oh, and I have Asimov's Nightfall checked out from the library...
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
I have a lot of non-SF in my to-read books pile at the moment.

Just finished
Mark Twain - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - I hadn't read this before. I find the language in classic fiction takes a little getting used to whenever I start reading one of these. Enjoyed it though, both for a look at the representation of a particular point in American history, but also for the language and structure of writing of the day. Recommended.

Jeff Abbott - Fear - I hadn't read this author's work before. I enjoyed this book and the switch back into modern writing made for a very fast read. Recommended.

Kenneth Grahame - The Wind in the Willows - Switching back to an older writing style again; I found the most difficult thing about this book was visualising the scale of the animals. Once I'd beaten that part of my brain to a pulp it was very enjoyable and I could get into the characters a little more. Recommended.

Now on to Michael Crichton's State of Fear. I actually want to read Michael Crichton's Sphere, but someone misheard me before Christmas, tried to find Michael Crichton's 'Fear', couldn't find it and so got me this and the Jeff Abbott book. I guess I shouldn't complain about a 2 for 1 deal...

[This message has been edited by BenM (edited February 05, 2009).]
 


Posted by Joseph Forrest (Member # 8460) on :
 
I'm read Old Man's War and am working on Ghost Brigades right now. Excellent books in my opinion. I've got a ton more reading to do thanks to my Valentine's Day present from my wife. She got me the Sony E-reader. I love the thing. I can carry an entire library around in something the size of a small notebook.

On the non-fiction side I read The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Science Fiction by Cory Doctorow and Karl Schroeder. Lots of excellent information in that book but it's hard to find at a decent price for whatever reason.


 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
I'm reading Asimov/Silverberg (?I think that's the co-author) novelization of Asimov's novella (or some other story form that is shorter than novel) Nightfall.

The concept is excellent (a world that has 6 suns in constant presence in the sky in different formations suddenly undergoes a traumatic eclipse when only one sun is visible, causing total darkness, which leads to insanity among the populace.) The story is dragging at this point - I'm well into the "daybreak" section and I think I have 100 pages left and am debating skimming. Maybe because in the Daybreak section they're dealing with the aftermath of the insanity and things are pretty dark (mood-wise, the suns have returned to their normal functionings post-eclipse.) So, I give it a so-so. I know Nightfall is highly regarded in sci-fi circles, but I wonder if the shorter form might be better than this novel. I'm going to have to dig around for it to compare.

The next two Twilight books are waiting on my nightstand. My girlfriends can't believe I'm able to just leave them sitting there (I'm dogged about finishing one book before moving on to the next, it's my own darn fault.)
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I can't help myself in saying this, but---yes, the shorter version of "Nightfall" is much better than the Asimov / Silverberg version. And it's also something every SF writer should read.
 
Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
I'm reading Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet--definitely Recommend.
 
Posted by Antinomy (Member # 5136) on :
 
“Brules” by Harry Combs is by far the best western I’ve read -- but don’t be turned off because it's a western -- it is a page-turning thriller. Brules, a crusty cowboy drifter, is captured and tortured by savage Comanches and after escaping becomes a stalking serial killer intent on wiping out the Comanche nation single handed. Combs skillfully draws the reader into each scene and in one chapter he relates a series of events by reading tracks in the sand. Recommended!


 


Posted by satate (Member # 8082) on :
 
I just read Ender in Exile and enjoyed it. The plot seemed a bit loose but I just reading about Ender. It could be plotless and I'd still like it. Recommend.

I'm about half through The Elements of Style. It's not fiction, but I find it very helpful. Thank you Hatrackers.
 


Posted by dreadlord (Member # 2913) on :
 
the Three Musketeers, Im on Ten Years Later. just finished the Count of Monte Cristo.

gotta love Alexandre Dumas.
 


Posted by Darth Petra (Member # 7126) on :
 
I just finished "The Picture of Dorian Gray".
'Twas awesomeness.

I'm reading Toilers of the Sea by Victor Hugo now...I'm nearly done.
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Just finished Engaging the Enemy, by Elizabeth Moon (another in her Vatta's War series. I really enjoy the characters and the details she comes up with.)

I just started John Scalzi's Agent to the Stars
 


Posted by JamieFord (Member # 3112) on :
 
Just finished Forge of God, by Greg Bear. A nice cozy book about the end of the world.


 


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
I'm finally getting around to Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson.
 
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Reading Neil Gaiman's THE GRAVEYARD BOOK (I think that's its title, anyway) which just won the Newberry Award.
 
Posted by dreadlord (Member # 2913) on :
 
currently rereading The Art of War, and One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
It's been awhile again, so...and I'll confine it to science fiction, more or less, this time:

The Rolling Stones, Robert A. Heinlein. This is an old book that has just been reprinted...it's different in tone than his other so-called "juveniles," but is still interesting.

Escape from Hell, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. This is a sequel to a book from the 1970s, Inferno...if you've read that (and it's been reprinted, too), you'll know the basic story. That was a lot of fun and I look forward to plowing through it.

RX for Chaos, Christopher Anvil. This is a collection of old short stories, some of which I'm sure I've read before, a lot of which I haven't. Anvil rarely lets me down.

and also...

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Jamie Ford. I'm intrigued by what looks like a new angle on an old subject, and, besides, Jamie Ford is one of our own and we all should look at this.
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
quote:
I just finished "The Picture of Dorian Gray".
'Twas awesomeness.

I quite enjoyed it also, but found it hard to get started on; the dialogue tends to digress a bit particularly in the beginning.

Recently finished:
State of Fear, Michael Crichton. Disappointed; in my opinion he has in some ways sacrificed the integrity of the story to state a personal point of view regarding global warming etc. Decidedly "Meh". Not Impressed.

Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson. Blown away. I'd never read this before and really enjoyed it. For a book published in 1883 I found the language very accessible to a modern reader. If you've never read this before, Highly Recommended.

I also attempted Brother Fish by Bryce Courtenay. I cannot imagine a better cure for insomnia; I found the narrator's constant digressions into telling us this or that story to so stall my interest in the book that I eventually had to put it down. Not my cup of tea, but someone may really like it, even if it's just his publicist. Not Impressed

Currently reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, and quite enjoying it. A nice antidote to the last book.



 


Posted by satate (Member # 8082) on :
 
I just finished Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. I loved it. I couldn't put it down near the end. Definetly Recommend.
 
Posted by rich (Member # 8140) on :
 
Got my copy of He is Legend on Monday and I've read the Stephen King/Joe Hill collaboration, and one by Barry Hoffman. They're ok, though the Hoffman one has a paragraph at the end that invalidates the entire story.

I'm also working my way through Drood. I've been a little low on Simmons lately, but, so far, I'm liking Drood.
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Finished Agent to the Stars by Scalzi, Recommend. Great fun, pretty funny. I just like his style of writing, too. Sardonic, sarcastic humor. nice stuff.

Starting Tigana, by Guy Gavriel Kay. Not going so well yet, but fantasy is always like this for me the first 20 pages or so - I fell asleep reading it last night (which is rare, but hard to get oriented to the world and rules and people and place names...) I'm toughing it out because it's really highly recommended by many people whose opinions I respect, and because I need to read some fantasy here and there. After this I'm going back to my Elizabeth Moon Vatta's War series...and probably will pick up another one of her series. Love those strong female protags and space war themes. And love my library! I would be broke if it weren't for my library.
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Be sure and read the prologue to TIGANA, KayTi. That's one prologue you need to have read to get the kick-in-the-head that happens near the end of the book.

I enjoyed Gaiman's THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, especially after I heard it was "inspired by" Kipling's Mowgli stories. Fun to look back on the book and think about the characters lined up to correspond to Kipling's characters.

Just finished Jamie Ford's HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET and can't think of enough nice things to say about it. It doesn't read like a first novel, it's powerful, it's beautiful, it's well-written, it has strong and believable characters, the structure (back and forth in time) works, it's great. Wow! Please don't be a "one-book wonder," Jamie.
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Thanks Kathleen. I've already read it, even though not much of it made sense (I'm a stickler for reading front-to-back, not a page skipper.) I'm going to go back and read it again, starting chapter 3, because I think some of the places are the same but I couldn't tell.
 
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
KayTi, it won't mean much until later, but I'm glad you read it.
 
Posted by shimiqua (Member # 7760) on :
 
I just finished reading Terry Pratchett's the Bromeliad Trilogy. Truckers, Diggers, and Wings.

Friggen brilliant! I loved all three so much. Highly recommend for anybody.

My favorite Pratchett ever, and that is saying something. Oh I wish I could write the way he does.
~Sheena

 


Posted by Andromoidus (Member # 8514) on :
 
we've just finished reading One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest in English 101. didnt really like it, but... I didnt like The Great Gatsby, either.


my english teacher makes me read emo books...

just edited to add that Im reading The Once and Future King on my own. great read.

[This message has been edited by Andromoidus (edited March 12, 2009).]
 


Posted by Symphonyofnames (Member # 8283) on :
 
The Bromeliad Trilogy was excellent. I'm a huge fan of Terry Pratchett's, and even though I think this trilogy is intended for a young adult audience, it's great at any age.
 
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Andromoidus, I didn't like THE GREAT GATSBY very much either when I read it in high school. The movie (with Robert Redford and Sam Waterston) was pretty true to the book, though.
 
Posted by philocinemas (Member # 8108) on :
 
I was actually in my 30's when I first read it. I enjoyed it. I feel one would have to be a little older to fully appreciate that novel. I'm not really sure why it is so popular for high school curriculum.
 
Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
I just finished The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. I enjoyed it immensely, finding the writing wholly absorbing. The only disappointment was the realisation part way through that I was reading the first book in a trilogy and the greater story would remain incomplete until the next books are published. Otherwise, this reminded me of the reason I do so enjoy a great fantasy novel. Recommended.

Currently reading Anathem by Neal Stephenson. Not too sure about this one...
 


Posted by AmieeRock (Member # 8393) on :
 
I'm reading alot of Anne Perry lately. An Uncle recommended her. She writes crime fiction set in the Victorian Era. Alot of her characterizations are accurate, at least of the police officers I've known and worked with (obviously none of them are from Victorian London). They are a good read. She is one of those authors who can write about dreadful crimes without being insensitive or unnecessarily gory. The thing that really makes her books interesting is her life history. I'll make everyone research that themselves, but I promise you, it adds a whole new dimension to her Victorian Mysteries serieses (is that the right way to pluralize series? I have no idea.)I haven't read her WWI books, so I can't comment on those.

Also, I read back on this thread. I should have known I'd find people who have read The Dresden Files. They are so full of cliched writing in some places! But you know, detectives are so much more fun when they are wizards.

[This message has been edited by AmieeRock (edited March 20, 2009).]
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Have you read SINS OF THE WOLF, AmieeRock? I was reading that when the news broke about her past. It was particularly poignant to read about her female character being on trial after that.

I've met her, and she's an amazing lady who has paid for her past and moved on very well.
 


Posted by AmieeRock (Member # 8393) on :
 
Actually, the first book of hers I read was Cain His Brother. My uncle told me all that had happened to her and her joining the LDS Church, and that is what inspired me to read her books. I felt that when she wrote about Inspector Monk and how he had forgotten his past self and really couldn't understand or relate to who he had been that really she was writing about the concept of repentance. I have read The Sins of the Wolf (right now I'm reading The Silent Cry; I have a cup of cherry-berry tea cooling as I write), and you are right!! Hester's courtroom scenes and the scene when she gets off the train in Edinburgh are particularly vivid and poignant in light of the author's own experiences.

I think sometimes, knowing where an author has come from makes their work effect you in different, sometimes deeper, ways.
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Finished Tigana, which was great as expected (but took me absolutely ages to finish. I have to establish expectations now that epic fantasy books take more than a week to finish. I'm accustomed to reading books in about 5-6 days. Having it take 8 or more days sets off my alarms for some reason.

Started Command Decision by Elizabeth Moon, another in the Vatta's War series. I'll read the last of that series next. Then...maybe some David Weber. Need something good for on vacation...maybe I'll grab some of the second hand paperbacks I have at home (lighter to carry, I usually prefer reading hardbacks) but haven't gotten around to reading yet...
 


Posted by Andromoidus (Member # 8514) on :
 
(finally) finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.


barely got my hands on a copy last week, during spring break, and just HAD to read it before the due date.


THE EPILOGUE SUCKED!!!!!
 


Posted by Jeff Baerveldt (Member # 8531) on :
 
Tried to read David Farland's THE RUNELORDS 1: THE SUM OF ALL MEN, but I found it incredibly boring. I've been trying to understand why the book didn't grab me, but I can't. The best I can say is that he didn't make me care about the characters. Not impressed

Started L.E. Modesitt's THE MAGIC OF RECLUCE a few days ago. It's all right. I like the main character well enough, but I find his writing style rather unclear. Of course, it's a 1st-person POV, and the narrator doesn't understand what's going on either. I appreciate the risk Modesitt took in writing the book this way . . . but I'm not sure how much longer I'm going to hang on. It better pick up quickly.

* * * * *

Other books I've read recently:

Ru Emerson's AGAINST THE GIANTS. (Bad)

Brandon Sanderson's MISTBORN 1: THE FINAL EMPIRE (highly recommended)

Keith Strohm's THE TOMB OF HORRORS (good)

Graham Greene's OUR MAN IN HAVANA (good)

Janet Evanovich's ELEVEN ON TOP (not impressed)

[This message has been edited by Jeff Baerveldt (edited March 23, 2009).]
 


Posted by AmieeRock (Member # 8393) on :
 
If you haven't yet, try Janet Evanovich's Hot Six. I thought it was about the most entertaining of the series. By Eleven, she's kind of getting a little stale, I think.
 
Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Still highly recommend all of the books in the 5 book Elizabeth Moon series that starts with (I think) Trading in Danger. I'm finishing Victory Conditions tonight and it's been a really enjoyable series. Lots of action. Slight bit of romance/love story that thankfully is kept really low-key (couldn't take much more after Twilight, LOL) I am impressed with the military concepts, which I imagine because Moon has a background in the military are accurate. Interesting stuff.

I have packed for vacation Do Androids Dream by Scalzi, On Basilisk Station by Weber, and Ender in Exile which I found on a cart at the library today and grabbed up.

Meanwhile, the kids and I have been listening to Harry Potter books on CD (love Jim Dale's reading of them. and love that someone else can read to my kids for a while - for whatever reason, I find reading aloud to be somewhat exhausting.) We're midway through book 3, and borrowed book 4 from the library today. We'll see if we have much time/interest in playing them on vacation. I hope so, I really enjoy the stories, both as a reader and a writer - seeing how the details make the story come alive, how the plot elements are laid in book 3 for items that come up in books 4 and 5, etc. It's really quite a feat.


 


Posted by JamieFord (Member # 3112) on :
 
Reading LA Requiem, by Robert Crais
 
Posted by Dogmatic (Member # 8425) on :
 
I'm currently reading volume 2 of "The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing Traitor to the Nation". I bought the first book last year solely based on the title having never heard of it. It was a difficult and tragic read and took me a bit to really appreciate it.

Book 2 (which I'm still reading) seems like the author has come into his own. It's an incredibly beautifully sad and poetic book. I would highly recommend these books, volume 2 being one of my favorite books in recent years. (besides OSC of course)

The books are also a great writing example of the simplicity and depth of a story. How the smaller hidden tragedies can be much more devastating then the obvious.

READ THESE BOOKS

Steve

 


Posted by satate (Member # 8082) on :
 
I just finished Life of Pi. It's a story about how a boy survives on a life boat with a tiger. I liked it, but I have mixed feelings about it. Sometimes I think it's wonderful and want to tell everyone to read it and then I think it's okay. It was never hard to put down, but kept me interested enough to always pick it back up. Also, this book isn't the normal type of book I'd read. I don't usually like survival stories and it's not fantasy, but I liked it anyways. I guess I'd give it a good.
 
Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Ian M. Banks' Matter. A fusion of SF with fantasy themes that exudes Scope - a stupendously fun read. Recommended.
 
Posted by dee_boncci (Member # 2733) on :
 
Okay, I've gone back and read some older things I missed when they first came out.

Robin Hobb: The Farseer trilogy (the assassin books) and the Tawny Man trilogy (the fool books). I recommend these, although most here have probably read them. Hobb does a good job with creating interesting characters, and although it bogged down at the tail end, the story stayed interesting for a long time.

Nicholas Sparks: A Walk to Remember. Recommend, a nice story and enjoyable voice.

Nicholas Sparks: The Notebook. Good, better as a movie, I didn't care for the way the plot moved although it was fundamentally a great story.


 


Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
 
GOOD: The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl. A page-turner of a murder mystery that also makes you feel smart because it's also about Dante's Inferno. And the fact that the main characters are major people from American literary history--Longfellow, Oliver Wendel Holmes, etc.--makes it a very interesting read for those of you who are literature buffs like myself.
 
Posted by pixydust (Member # 2311) on :
 
Dee, the Farseer and Tawney Man books are the most AWESOME books ever! Fitz is my hero. I second your recomendation. I can't believe how invested I got in that guy. I'm so glad she didn't stop with the first three and let us finish the story properly.

Ah, Fitz.

Okay, so, I'm reading the new trilogy by Gail Z. Martain, Chronicles of the Necromancer. I'm still on book one, The Summoner, but I'm really enjoying it. Interesting magic, and good solid characters.

I just finished Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn. I hadn't read any of her books yet and I'm definitely going to be reading more.

Before that one I read Juliet Marillier's new Sevenwaters Book, Heir to Sevenwaters. A one night read. Short and wonderful. All the Sevenwater books are amazing, though. As well as her Wolfskin and Foxmask. An amazing writer (wasn't as big a fan of the Bridei books, though).
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I'm rereading Gary Giddins's A Pocketful of Miracles, volume one of a two-volume biography of Bing Crosby. I like it better each time I read it.

My only major beef is that it's been seven or eight years, and Volume Two is still nowhere in sight. Giddins hinted at a number of fascinating stories that would be told in Volume Two, but the cutoff date was (more or less) 1940. I was looking forward to it but it still hasn't appeared.

This is a problem with serious biography. It's not the only one I'm waiting for. Two volumes of a life of Orson Welles only take things up to the end of the 1940s. And Robert Caro has promised the next volume of his biography of Lyndon Johnson "sometime in this century."

Meanwhile, I occasionally look online for some further info...and I nearly always check the biography sections of bookstores in case I've missed word of it.

(I'm still waiting for a serious biography of Heinlein.)
 


Posted by dee_boncci (Member # 2733) on :
 
Pixy,

Yes, that was an impressive set of stories. I thought the relationships between Fitz and Nighteyes and Fitz and the Fool were remarkably well done. Really, the relationships he had with all the primary characters were extremely well done.

Okay, I just finished Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. I would call it a "literary mystery". In some ways I thought it was extremely well done, but overall can't give it higher than "good". My only complaint is that I felt a little manipulated in the way the numerous flashback scenes were woven into the plot. Another reader might think that the backstory was presented "just in time".
 


Posted by dee_boncci (Member # 2733) on :
 
Just finished "Good Omens" (Gaiman and Pratchett). I have to rate this one as NOT IMPRESSED. It wasn't my cup of tea. It came to me very highly recommended, so maybe I had unrealistic expectations for it.

[This message has been edited by dee_boncci (edited April 17, 2009).]
 


Posted by satate (Member # 8082) on :
 
I just finished Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and really enjoyed it. It was one of those hard to put down books and now I'm anxiously awaiting the next book. It's a YA science fiction set in the future where some children are forced to kill each other in the Hunger Games. The book was recommended to me by non-science fiction readers who loved it (that's always a good sign to me, if the book can reach those who normally don't like science fiction). I have to give this one a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
 
Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Dee - I have Good Omens on the shelf, it came highly recommended to me, too. Bummer that it didn't impress you. I have tried to read it before but couldn't get engaged past page 1. I'm thinking I should start with some other Pratchett book, and read some other Gaiman book too. I haven't. Shocking, isn't it? LOL

But meanwhile, I read Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (in anticipation of the movie coming out.) it's a compelling read, fast-paced, but honestly I don't know if it's just me, the genre of mystery/thriller, or what, but I found the way the MC kept eeking out of disaster or just-in-the-nick-of-timing things (though not everything, which got annoying sometimes) or remembering something just at the right moment or what have you to be grating. I'm actually going to pull examples from it for my in-person writer's group for our next discussion. I still liked the book and would recommend it, but with a caveat to other writers that you may find the plotting annoying. I did find the intricate plot engaging, but it was the way the MC got through each of the traps the author laid that annoyed.

I'm looking forward to the movie, though. Huge Tom Hanks and Ewan McGregor fan.

Haven't decided what to read next. Maybe Tales of Beetle the Bard...
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Addendum to my above post: (1) the title is A Pocketful of Dreams---this is what I get for posting without the book in front of me.

And (2), thanks to the magic of internet searching, I've managed to scrape up a little information about why Volume Two is missing in action. Seems the writer and the publisher wound up in a dispute about royalties---the writer claiming he never got a dime from it. I don't know if that's true---I'm still sorting out some of the details---but it's certainly a cautionary tale for us would-be writers.
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Just finished Brent Weeks' debut book The Way of Shadows.

I felt very ambivalent about this book. The characters seemed wooden and difficult to connect to, though I'm not sure I can put my finger on why. Perhaps it was bizarre contradictions in morality that the main characters were prepared to accept but I wasn't. Whatever caused it, my resulting disbelief of the characters spoiled what could have been an otherwise interesting world and story. Despite being a reasonable first novel, I was sadly Not Impressed.
 


Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
 
NOT AS GOOD AS THE FIRST BOOK:

The Poe Shadow, by Matthew Pearl. His first book, The Dante Club (see my post about it above), was a really fun read. This one is OK, but not as interesting as the first one. It moves a lot more slowly and the characters just aren't as interesting. It's not bad, really, but it's not all that great, either.
 


Posted by dee_boncci (Member # 2733) on :
 
Empire, by OSC. I give this one a GOOD. I nearly put it down after the first two chapters, it just didn't click with me (fortunately I'm not a hook addict) but I kept going and wound up enjoying the story. Card wrestled with some interesting contemporary issues, and once the plot got moving it was a fast, fun read.
 
Posted by shimiqua (Member # 7760) on :
 
If your looking for a good Prachett, start with the Bromiliade trilogy. Truckers, Diggers, and Wings.

I didn't love Good Omens on the first reading, but when I read it the second time I found it a lot funnier. Expectations I think.

I could kind of tell where Gaiman began and Prachett left off, and that distracted me from the story the first time through.

~Sheena
 


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
I just cracked open Sam Barone's Dawn of Empire. I'll let you know what I rate it later.

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (as most of you already know) was good. I loved his magic concept, and the rules so far.
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Just finished Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer. Definitely not the sort of book I'd normally read, but someone handed it to me and it is a contemporary phenomenon, so I'd like to have my own opinion on it. I'd read a lot of rants about the writing style, and while there were times when it was distracting, I didn't find it all that bad - it's a YA novel, after all. I was more annoyed by the subject matter, which seemed like Bram Stoker meets Mills & Boon. Don't know what I'd rate it though. Probably Not Impressed, but that may be mostly due to the subject matter.

Also onto the last couple of pages of OSC's Character's & Viewpoint so will rate that now rather than double post. Have quite enjoyed it, probably rating it a Good, based on our criteria in this thread.
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
And I just finished Randy Pausch's THE LAST LECTURE. It's a great little book--the kind you want to buy copies of to give to family and friends.

I've selected some quotes and posted them in the quote topic--mainly because I think they have application to writing.


[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited May 04, 2009).]
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I recently finished Columbine, by Dave Cullen, which is, yes, about the Columbine High School shooting back ten years ago. It's a little confusing in narrative structure, constantly jumping around between events before and events after...a common failing in a lot of recent non-fiction books.

But it does blow away a lot of the myths and legends that surround the incident. I'll touch on one, that was widely talked about at the time but that I suspected might not be true...that the shooters were not, in fact, "victims of bullies" but were bullies themselves.
 


Posted by satate (Member # 8082) on :
 
I just finished Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn and loved it. I would rate it a RECOMMEND. I can't wait to read the next ones.
 
Posted by dee_boncci (Member # 2733) on :
 
Just finished Obsidian Butterfly by Laurel K Hamilton. This one gets a GOOD. I was pleasantly surprised on this, my first exposure to her Anita Blake character. The novel was no where near as "steamy" as I'd expected from the reputation of the series. It was enough to get me to pick up another by her someday.
 
Posted by JamieFord (Member # 3112) on :
 
Flight, by Sherman Alexie.
 
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Hey, Jamie! How are you doing?

Did you ever think you'd be traveling so much for your first book?

I'm excited about how well it's doing, and I'm looking forward to the one you're working on now.
 


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
I'm reading Kevin J. Anderson's Edge of the World, in case anyone didn't know (a signed, advanced reader's copy).

I haven't finished Sam Barone's Dawn of Empire, it has just been phased off to the side. I've noticed a quite a few redundancies in that story, and they slow down the events and squash the tension. I'll give it a final vote later (keeping in mind it's a first novel), but as of now it's mired--and that's not good.

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited May 09, 2009).]
 


Posted by Unwritten (Member # 7960) on :
 
I sometimes review books (usually young adult)and in return the library near my home gets to purchase the book I review for $1. The librarian picks the books out and she asked me to read Far From You by Lisa Schroeder. I never would have tried it on my own. This was my first experience with a verse novel, and I liked it. I thought it really captured the way a person thinks--honing in on one moment, one sense, one memory. It captured teenage angst in an especially profound way. And it only took an hour to read, in spite of being 350 pages long. I'd definately recommend it. I'm even tempted to write some.
 
Posted by Kaz (Member # 7968) on :
 
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: I haven't crossed the 50 page mark yet, but I'm really excited. If it continues to build up this way it's going to be epic.

I've also started Natsume Soseki's I Am a Cat, which I'd recommend to anyone, especially if they enjoy humorous and/or satirical stories.

I'm also getting ready to read Salman Rushdie's latest novel, The Enchantress of Florence. The opening was good enough to deserve smile, so I'm guessing the rest will be good as well.
 


Posted by MrsBrown (Member # 5195) on :
 
Re-reading Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet. RECOMMEND. Historical fiction, well-researched, likeable characters, covers a long span of time effectively.
 
Posted by JamieFord (Member # 3112) on :
 
Hi Kathleen, never thought I'd be traveling this much. I'm really need to say NO for a while and just lash myself to my desk...
 
Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
Mrs. Brown, I liked The Pillars of the Earth, too--though it voilates PoV all over the place. How many times have you wanted to chuck it across the room because of Sir William Hamleigh or Waleran Bigod?
 
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Yes, Jamie. Write! Write! Write!

I decided to try MOON CALLED by Patricia Briggs and I'm quite liking it. I think the characters are more interesting than those in some of the other "werewolf pack" series that are out there. I especially like the point of view character better, but I have a thing for coyotes.
 


Posted by Kaz (Member # 7968) on :
 
Finished The Name of the Wind a couple of days ago and it was superb. Filling the void with The Wheel of Time in between all the other books on my list.
 
Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
Finished Sam Barone's Rise of Empire - Not Impressed, the end was a redeeming quality.

Started The Whale Road by Robert Low. It has a great hook: Runes are cut in ribbons, like the World Serpent eating its own tale. All sagas are snake-knots, for the story of a life does not always start with a birth and end with death. My own truly begins with my return from the dead.

Can you tell it's about vikings.
 


Posted by satate (Member # 8082) on :
 
I just finished The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I really enjoyed it, loved the setting, and the characters. I'm excited to read the Jungle Book now since I'm one of those underprivileged people who have only seen the Disney version. Definetly Recommend.
 
Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Read Frederik Pohl's Gateway this weekend, something I'd been meaning to do for a long time. Though enjoyable, it certainly wasn't what I expected (though what that was, even I'm not sure). It was a lot more enjoyable than Val McDermid's Kick Back which I finished this week out of sheer stubbornness. Neither are recent novels, and it shows a little, but Pohl's SF has aged a lot better than McDermid's mystery story.
 
Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
I've diverged from my Female Warriors In Space phase and am reading the Time Traveler's Wife right now. I'm enjoying it, sort of, but it's got a strong literary feel that is not my preference (heavy on description and establishing mood. Plot is less of the emphasis, though in this book it's not ignored.) I think that the overall tone of the story is so melancholy that I'm having difficulty with that. But still, interesting story told in a very strange but effective (but annoying to me) way - often right after seeing a scene from POV1 character, the author will retell the scene from POV2's character. Very unorthodox storytelling style, but interesting nonetheless.

I'm also in the midst of Harry Potter 7 with the kids, on audio CD. They have gobbled up the audios, and my 7 year old is even keeping pace with us by reading the book as well as listening to the CDs (asynchronously - he'll get ahead in the book, then put it down and we'll catch up with the CDs, then we'll get ahead of where he is in the book and the next time he reads he'll catch up, etc.)

My son (7) broke his arm this past weekend so I'm planning to do a lot of summer reading with him in the mid-grade genre. Lightening Thief is first on our list, along with the Wright Three, books 3 and 4 of City of Ember series, Magic Thief...and probably Artemis Fowl.


 


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
KayTi, my oldest (12) just burned through The Lightning Thief, and book 1 of the Ranger's Apprentice series: The Ruins of Gorlan. My kids also absolutely loved The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series by Michelle Paver--although it's not finished--and the Artemis Fowl books.
 
Posted by zerostone (Member # 8605) on :
 
Someone mentioned Evanovich, which is detective fiction much of the time. I've been reading the Lord Darcy series by Randall Garrett, and New Amsterdam, by Elizabeth Bear (whose protagonist is named Garrett, in homage, like Cook's Garrett, PI.)
Would recommend both Darcy and New Amsterdam.



 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I like to post every so often about what I've read...if I did it every time I read something I'd be posting something here, well, every other day.

I just finished Stripping Gypsy: The Life of Gypsy Rose Lee. An interesting read...blows away some of the myths that one might take from seeing the musical / movie "Gypsy," which makes it well worth the time...but it's not without its flaws. For example, you would think there would be precise dates for the final illness and eventual death of Mama Rose...
 


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
I'm really enjoying The Whale Road by Robert Low. It tickles me the way some of Han Solo's/Indiana Jones stunts do. It is also very reminiscent of Bernard Cornwell's storytelling. I have little time for reading it (which is why I haven't blown through it), but every time I pick it up, it immerses me and gives me a laugh. Highly Recommend. the beginning is a little bumpy, but when it smooths out...lookout, hours are going to pass.
 
Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Just finished Larry Niven's Ringworld. Loved it. A great milieu story and a fun example of SF using 'aliens' to amplify differences in characters. Recommended.
 
Posted by Unwritten (Member # 7960) on :
 
Pendragon 10 is in my house! It's currently been confiscated by my 11 year old, but I'll get my hands on it soon. I mostly recommend that series. It would have been better if he'd made it a 7 book series instead of a 10 book one, but I think it's an awesome milieu story, and that's coming from someone who doesn't often like them.

It might be a little old for your son, KayTi, but who knows? Some of the stuff on your list would bore my 6 year old silly.
(We were listening to Harry Potter in the car last summer. One day in the fall when the BBC news came on the radio, she heard the British reporter, clapped her hands over her ears and started screaming "NOT HARRY POTTER!"
Melanie

[This message has been edited by Unwritten (edited June 08, 2009).]
 


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
Finished The Whale Road, loved it. So, I moved on to book two in the Oathsworn Saga: The Wolf Sea. The title comes from an old Norse proverb: Only the Hunting Hungry set sail on the Wolf Sea.
 
Posted by MrsBrown (Member # 5195) on :
 
Almost done with Pillars of the Earth and truth to tell, I didn't enjoy it as much as I did the first time around. I can see the problems in the writing more clearly now. It really bugs me when the characters remember the same scenes over and over again, sometimes in considerable detail. I read it already!

It does have wonderful details for daily life in that historical period, and an engaging story. I could do without the rape scenes.

IB, I am eager for those two villains to get their just reward! William never lets up.

Downgrading it to Good.

[This message has been edited by MrsBrown (edited June 12, 2009).]
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
I'm currently reading THE NAME OF THE WIND, by Patrick Rothfuss. I'd definitely RECOMMEND this one. There are a couple of small things that bother me, but only one major one. And it probably wouldn't bother everyone. I'm beginning to bog down a little at around page 500, but on the whole it's a really good read.

Before that I read HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGON and THRONE OF JADE by Naomi Novik. I'd rate the first as GOOD. I really enjoyed it and was only slightly put off by a style that seemed to try a little too hard to emulate C. S. Forester.

But I have to say NOT IMPRESSED to the second. I just never could get into it, even though I already liked the characters. And reading the blurbs for the next three books, it's obvious that she's taking the story in a direction that doesn't appeal to me.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited June 12, 2009).]
 


Posted by dee_boncci (Member # 2733) on :
 
Recently finished Holder of Lightning by S.L. Farrell. I was pleasantly surprised by this. If the criteria for recommend wheren't so high for this thread, I'd probably use it here. As it is, I'll say GOOD.

Also read Red Seas under Red Skies by Scott Lynch. Another GOOD. I haven't read the first book of that series yet.
 


Posted by satate (Member # 8082) on :
 
I just finished Brandon Sandersons's Second Mistborn book and loved it. I wish I had book three with me right now so I could start reading it tonight. I found the beginning a little slow but soon I didn't want to put it down. I recommend this book.

I was reading Robin Hobb's Shaman's Crossing, well I'm still trying to read it, but I'm 202 pages into it and I find myself still waiting for it to start. There so much telling and summarizing that she's losing me. I think I'll try and finish it, if I'm bored. She confuses me as an author. I loved her farseer trilogy and the Tawny Man one also. The liveship trader trilogy though didn't hook me and I gave up after the second book. I wonder why her books are so hit and miss with me. I've never found that with any other author. Usually I love (or at the least like) all the books if I love one. Right now I'd have to rate it as Bad since I can't hardly finish it, but I'm hopeful that if I finish it I'll like.
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I just finished The Mammoth Book of the Beatles, one of a series of "Mammoth Books." It reprinted some interesting stuff, but was mainly a bunch of essay on this-or-that in the Beatles' career by the editor---who falls into the fatal trap of assuming his opinions are not only absolute, but worthy of any notice. (A lot of Beatle books fall into that trap.)
 
Posted by MAP (Member # 8631) on :
 
I just finished THE DEMON'S LEXICON by Sarah Rees Brennan. I really enjoyed it. It was nice to read a young adult novel with a male protagonist. Those seem to be hard to find these days. I definately recommend it.

[This message has been edited by MAP (edited July 05, 2009).]
 


Posted by MrsBrown (Member # 5195) on :
 
I Highly Recommend Brandon Sanderson's Warbreaker.
It's unfair that I must wait for the sequel. He's done it again!

Edited: SPOILER ALERT: Just finished it, and now I can't tell if it will have a sequel; it can stand alone. I didn't expect him to have time to tie up all the threads. Oh, but there's room for so much more. This book has many surprises.

[This message has been edited by MrsBrown (edited July 07, 2009).]
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
I just finished The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I enjoyed this, though in different parts for different reasons: A rough half was for its emotive story telling, structure and the way in which the story builds on itself; the other 'half' - its socratic discourse on morality and society - being both interesting in itself and also a type of historical glimpse into 19th century Russian and European thinking. At around 350k words I found it to take a while though. Recommended
 
Posted by DWD (Member # 8649) on :
 
I just finished One Second After by William Forstchen. I'd rate it good. It seemed to be well-researched, and when Forstchen is in his element--anything that enables him to leverage his deep knowledge of military history--he is excellent. In some other areas, though, the writing felt uneven, with stilted dialogue and some caricaturish depictions of southern characters. Still, the implications of the scenario taken up by Forstchen are frightening, and there is much to make one contemplate the thin veil modern civilization places over some of the baser elements of our nature, so I do recommend it.
 
Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
I've read a bunch since I last posted. Does anyone use Shelfari or GoodReads or iRead or any of those other online book-sharing programs? I use Shelfari (same handle) and would be happy to connect with anyone there. It works with that same kind of "mutually agree to connect" type of thing that facebook/linked in/etc. use.

I have read:

PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS series (starting with the Lightning Thief) by Rick Riordan. highly recommend not just for kids. It's a great series (5 books, complete) quick pace, lots of humor, neat contemporary fantasy concept (greek gods are alive and living among us, having children with mortals, and those children go to a half-blood aka demigod camp for the summer on Long Island.) My 7 year old gobbled them up, but I read them first and kept reading long into the night. They are quick to read (2-3 days each for me) and just a lot of fun.

THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY AND THE PERILOUS JOURNEY by Trenton Lee Stewart. Meh. I read the first book (MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY) last year and really enjoyed it, but this book I noticed (we did it on audio, didn't care for the voice talent which was definitely part of the problem) a lot of telling and retelling, as if the kids who would be reading the story wouldn't get the point the first time. There was a lot of "then somebody figured out this thing" kind of plot turns, where someone would remember something right at the right moment but you wouldn't necessarily know *what* was remembered until a debrief later. It's a midgrade fiction book and I think there are some aspects about it that are fun and interesting, and I think kids who enjoyed the first book would enjoy this one, but I found it a bit irritating. Be warned - both books feature some dark themes, bad guys who are really bad.

THE WRIGHT THREE - by Blue Baillet. Meh. Similar problem with above - felt like the writer was telling the story in a slower than normal pace, dragging out dramatic tension by telling and retelling what was going on, or by switching POV to then have us be worried with another character while wondering if the first got out of the scrape, etc. This is the author who wrote CHASING VERMEER, which I liked a little better. I do think it's an element of certain author's styles when writing for this mid-grade audience, but I'm finding I prefer authors who don't talk down in this way (or make me feel as though they are talking down. Others may not notice this at all.)

THE UGLIES - by Westerfeld. I just finished PRETTIES, and am starting on SPECIALS right now. This is a YA sci-fi near(ish) future story. I had previously skipped these books on the shelf because I didn't think they were sci-fi, I thought they were Gossip-Girls, Clique-ish girly books. I was very wrong and I hope that others won't make the mistake. I Highly Recommend this series. Fascinating view of the future, awesome ideas about how things might work, good plotting, believable characters, just really good stories. Premise is that in this future world, long after a decline of civilization, on your 16th bday you get to undergo surgery and become "pretty." Perfect skin, teeth, big doe eyes, etc. etc. People tend to look similar, because a Pretty Committee determines standards of beauty. Problem is, being pretty comes with risks/limitations, which the Uglies are only just starting to figure out. Very cool sci-fi YA story with female protags.


 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
I just completed The Prometheus Deception by Robert Ludlum. I enjoyed the Bourne books when I was in school, but that was twenty years ago and I can only assume my tastes have changed. A lot. Not Impressed.
 
Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
I liked The Janson Directive, The Tristan Betrayal, The Scorpio Illusion and The Materese Circle more. His last book, The Ambler Warning was pretty good, too. Of course, Ludlum's one of my "guilty pleasures".
 
Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Just completed Ishmael Beah's A Long Way Gone. It had been a while since I'd read a decent biography, but this was something else altogether. (If you've never heard of it, have a peek at this interview). Highly Recommended.

(and IB: Four of those five books were published posthumously and finished by Eric Van Lustbader, while the Matarese Circle was an earlier book and an example of Ludlum in his prime. It's possible The Prometheus Deception, the last book published while he was alive, may have simply suffered from poor editing, but redundancies like "Every morning, at exactly seven o'clock in the morning...", or a situation where the characters had "only seconds" to evacuate before the military stormed in, then spent two pages discussing the deception at length and reaffirming their relationship, and only then ran, got more than a few groans from this reader)
 


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
I think you'll find The Scorpio Illusion and The Matarese Circle were both written before The Prometheus Deception. The last Ludlum novel written solely by him was The Sigma Protocol--of the Covert One series.

Anyway, the reason he is a "guilty pleasure", is because he was a largely flawed writer who spun a great yarn. I remember how ticked off I got with the redundancy of "rapidly" in all of the Bourne books, but, overlooking that, the stories were great, and the plotting was convoluted.
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Ah, my bad, I didn't realise I'd gotten The Scorpio Illusion mixed up there. And thanks for the suggestion as well - I'll have to read one of those books sometime for comparison as I really didn't think this was his best work.
 
Posted by micmcd (Member # 7977) on :
 
Neal Stephenson's ANATHEM - Recommended*

I give it an asterisk b/c the first few chapters weren't that exciting, but the rest of the book ranks it among my all time favorites. The pace does pick up..

Patrick Rothfuss's THE NAME OF THE WIND - Recommended

- currently, The Name of the Wind is my favorite book.

Both of these are fantastic examples of first-person POV done well.
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Hm, maybe I'll have to get Anathem another try. I got about a fifth into it and decided to pass, the effort of reading and interpreting the made-up part of the language being too much pain for (at that stage in the book) too little gain.

Just finished The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. A great yarn, an interesting example of first person, and a fun - if skewed - look at the subcontinent. Recommended.
 


Posted by JenniferHicks (Member # 8201) on :
 
I also tried to read Anathem, got through Part 1 and put it down. I figure any book in which the author spends several pages describing a clock tower is not going to hold my interest. But if the pace picks up, I might give it another try.

I'm reading a WOTF anthology, mostly to see what kind of stories win the contest. I don't remember which anthology it is, but it includes stories by Ken Scholes and Cat Sparks (neither of whom won their quarters, BTW). As with any collection of stories, some are great, some not so much.

[This message has been edited by JenniferHicks (edited July 24, 2009).]
 


Posted by Antinomy (Member # 5136) on :
 
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Dean Koontz’ “Life Expectancy,” a great story out of stuff you would never imagine could be so intensely interesting. Koontz is a master wordsmith and a genius at character building, he does not waste words or plot twist potential to make this novel a gripping page turner
 
Posted by JasonHall (Member # 8723) on :
 
Finished "The Tower at Stony Wood" (Fantasy) about a week ago. Feels kind of like a fairy tale for grown-ups. "Good"
In the process of reading Guy Gavriel Kay, Tigana, and so far it's very good and would recommend it.
 
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Just finishing Karavans, by Jennifer Roberson. Good +

I'm really enjoying this story. One caveat, like a lot of fantasy these days, it doesn't end at the end of the first book. So I'll be starting Deepwood later today.

The story has several interwoven story lines, so it takes a little while at the beginning to sort out who the main characters are, but some really interesting concepts. At least to me.
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
JasonHall - I read Tigana recently, really enjoyed it once I got into it (found the first few chapters a little dense. I don't read a lot of straight fantasy, so it always takes me a while to put the place names into my head and figure out the author's way of making up character names and all that.) I like that it stands alone.

I'm getting frustrated at the library on the "New" shelf for Fantasy and SF all I seem to be able to find are books in a series - book 2 of this series, book 4 of that one. Almost all are fantasy. Disappointing. One of many reasons I read down in the YA/Juvy section more. Even when there are series (see my previous posts about Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, for example) the books read so quickly that you don't feel like you're making a 3 month long commitment by picking up the first book in a series. Or, that is, if you're compulsive like me and must read a series through to the end/whatever the last completed book is once you start it.

I'm currently reading the Prophet of Yonwood which is the third book in the City of Ember book series. I'm not loving the book, it's just okay. I'm finding a similar problem with this book as I have with a few other recent mid-grade fiction books (grades 5-8 is the general age range for these - they're the ones just under the YA classification in the library, the first few Harry Potter books generally fall into this classification) I feel like the author is intentionally withholding some major twist or piece of information. To be fair, the characters don't know the info either, but it feels like once the info is known, the whole plot will be laid bare and be obvious/understandable. I'm not sure these books will stand up to second and third and subsequent readings, which is frustrating, as the books I like I *really* like and typically re-read at least once every few years, if not more often.

The kids and I recently re-read via audio book my two favorite fantasy books by Robin McKinley, speaking of re-reading, The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword If I haven't before, I HIGHLY recommend both, and I recommend you read them in that order (although if I recall correctly, they were written in the reverse order, but the Hero and the Crown features the stuff that is legend in The Blue Sword, and I always found it more satisfying to read them Hero first, Blue Sword second.

I also don't remember posting about this, but I read Inkdeath recently, by Cornelia Funke. The book is the third (and last) in the Inkheart series. I have a love/hate relationship with this series. The books are interesting, compelling, fascinating concept (a man can read characters out of a story into present-day, and vice-versa.)

But the author is a sadist, she creates some of the worst bad guys, and many of them. At one point in reading I realized that she had just introduced the fifth really bad horrible bad guy antagonist. Fifth! The main character had enough going wrong in her life, five bad guys? A bit much. This is another mid-grade fiction book, written for that 5th-8th grade range and I found it really too dark. Might just be me.

(edited to fix tags)

[This message has been edited by KayTi (edited July 27, 2009).]
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Just yesterday I picked up the new Leonard Maltin guide to the movies---and found myself irritated 'cause he gave a bad review to "WALL-E."

Not the only example, I'm afraid...and with the new policy of ommiting movies and dumping them into his so-called "Classic" guide, his volume grows less useful to me as a reference work with each passing year.
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
I just finished reading Young's The Shack. Due to the subject matter I'm not going to rate it - there's enough reviews out there to make up one's own mind. Like Twilight, while I don't consider myself really the target demographic I can certainly understand why it's so popular.
 
Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Finished Jeff Abbot's Panic. I don't know where I'd place it on our ranking - maybe Good. I think I enjoyed his Fear more, but disclaimers follow...

I'm currently on a thrillers bender of sorts*, and I find that thrillers I've read recently are leaving me feeling a little unfulfilled. I'm wondering if it's me (does it reflect a less transient personality trait) or if it's simply the result of rapidly shifting between genres (Dosteovsky->Ludlum, then The Shack->Panic).

Since the next 4 books in my to-be-read sttack are thrillers, hopefully I'll be able to answer that question soon

* to get a better grasp on pacing etc for my own WIP...
 


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
I'm reading Brent Weeks's The Way of the Shadow. Few writing flaws abound, but they can be found if sought. IMHO: The story is good enough to overlook the flaws for.
 
Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Just finished Michael Crichton's Sphere - I generally enjoyed this. I was interested in getting the video out from the library to compare (having heard that it did poorly) but none of the local video libraries carry it. Recommended.

Also Dale Brown's Act of War - I found the mid-scene head-hopping distracting, as was what may be a less than subtle commentary on the concept of a War on Terror. I'd still rate this Good, but it's no Silver Tower or Flight of the Old Dog.
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
quote:
Just finished Michael Crichton's Sphere - I generally enjoyed this. I was interested in getting the video out from the library to compare (having heard that it did poorly) but none of the local video libraries carry it. Recommended.

Skip the video. They completely messed up the ending in such a way as to take all of the meaning out of the story.
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Just finished Markus Zusak's THE BOOK THIEF. One of the most interesting things about it from a writerly perspective was the tone--it seemed almost playful most of the time--quite ironic considering the content.

Edited to add that it's very well written, and I recommend it.

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited August 19, 2009).]
 


Posted by Jaz (Member # 2880) on :
 
I just finished A Lion Among Men, and have to say that the world building of Maguire is unbelievably big (sometimes too big because he moves around so much trying to show it all). The Wicked Years books are a good read, but this one reminds me of Matrix Reloaded because it is more of a bridge to the next book than the first two were. The ending was unsatisfying and seemed hurried.
 
Posted by Antinomy (Member # 5136) on :
 
“Dark Places” by Gillian Flynn, so popular that I was on the library wait list for two months before getting it. Now I wonder if it was worth the wait.

Flynn does an admirable job with transition shifts between the present and the past as she builds a suspenseful novel. However, the well described characters are deep, dark, gloomy and worthless. Even the MC is a ne’er-do-well and compulsive petty thief leaving the reader groping for something of value in an otherwise interesting story.

Not recommended.

 
Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
kdw - I have the Book Thief on my shelf, recommended to me by my teenage babysitter and finally in from the library after placing a hold on it a good 8 weeks ago. I'm going to read it next, after I finish SO YESTERDAY, by Scott Westerfeld, the YA author I have previously gushed about. This is another highly recommend - reminds me a lot of/explores very similar themes to (but is easier to read) William Gibson's PATTERN RECOGNITION, which I read earlier this year.

I also just finished THE HOST, by Stephenie Meyer, her non-YA sci-fi book. Good book, interesting stuff, but I was glad when I was finished. Fodder for it's own entire topic, but I was finding by the end that I don't care for (or, to be more precise - I can't keep up for too long reading about) the way the author portrays female protagonists. They appear strong, seem decisive, but in reality a lot just *happens* to them and they react to the action. There's more than just that, but don't let my comments dissuade you - it's a good book and worth the read.
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I was rereading Leonard Wibberley's The Mouse That Roared---the movie version was on the other day, and I got to thinking about it, and I exhumed my extremely old paperback edition and reread it.

Very funny book---I recommend it to anybody who can find a copy---but I was most bemused to find, in a book first published in 1954 / 1955, the phrase "weapons of mass destruction." (Online, I could trace it to a paper first published in 1947.)
 


Posted by Andrew_McGown (Member # 8732) on :
 
I am reading Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book.

 
Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Well THE BOOK THIEF was as good as advertised (it's won a lot of awards.) Excellent book, in spite of the depressing subject matter. The edition I had included a discussion guide at the end and I found myself disappointed that I didn't have a book group with whom I could discuss the book. In particular one question from the discussion guide stuck out to me - the narrator's use of foreshadowing. The author in this book used foreshadowing extensively, having the narrator basically tell you what was going to happen, and then say "wait a minute, before I tell you the rest, though, let me take you back to where it began..." Very interested, violated a lot of "the rules" of writing but as Kathleen pointed out, done in such an engaging voice (narrator's) that it was easy to go along with it. My biggest astonishment as a writer in reading this book was the use of descriptions and visual imagery that was exception, surprising, and beautiful. I don't read much literary fiction, so some of this may just be me being novice in the genre, but some of the images have stuck with me starkly.

Meanwhile, after that book, which was dense and thick and took me a while to read, I needed a little bit lighter/shorter fare, so I've read THE GIVER, by Lois Lowry, which I recommend - I found myself a little disappointed in the end/resolution, but it was a good book and a very quick read. It's more-or-less a future utopia/wait it's actually a dystopia story, but written long enough ago that some of the future ideas are neat that the author predicted well enough.

I am currently reading BEAUTY by Robin McKinley, which is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I don't read a lot of fantasy, but I do like the way she writes fantasy. It's also a YA novel, probably only 50k words, so it's going quickly. So far so good, but I have a feeling the real challenge for the protag lays just around the next corner.
 


Posted by Ben Trovato (Member # 7804) on :
 
Prospero Lost, by L. Jagi Lamplighter.
Not sure whether to recommend it or not. For good, it's based on a solid idea and in an interesting setting. For bad, the heroine is only about two notches above Bella Swan in passivity/needing rescue. But who knows; I'm only on chapter 11.
 
Posted by MrsBrown (Member # 5195) on :
 
A while ago I read Feast of Souls by C.S. Friedman, the first in the Magister trilogy. I would highly recommend it. Hoping book two (Wings of Wrath) will be as good.
 
Posted by jezzahardin (Member # 8782) on :
 
Currently reading...

The Dark Tower Volume III: The Waste Lands - Stephen King
The Great Hunt - Robert Jordan (Book Two in the Wheel of Time)
Foundation - Isaac Asimov
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J. K. Rowling

In the middle of, but don't know if I will finish...

Under Enemy Colours - Sean Thomas Russell
Against a Dark Background - Ian M. Banks
 


Posted by lbdavid98 (Member # 8789) on :
 
quote:
I am reading Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book.

I just finished that book on Audible and liked it a lot. The ending was bittersweet, but good! This months downloads include:

2666 (Robert Bolano)
Dance Dance Dance (Haruki Murakami)

In print, I'm mostly reading back issues of F&SF magazine while trying to work myself into a short fiction frenzy.


 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
I just finished a number of decent books - Geoffrey Archer's Eagle Trap, Dean Koontz's Winter Moon, Frank Herbert's Dune. Of these, I found Dune to be exceptional and very thought provoking. I'm really glad I finally got around to reading it.


 


Posted by jezzahardin (Member # 8782) on :
 
Just finished...
The Dark Tower Volume III: The Waste Lands - Stephen King
Chasing Down the Dawn - Jewel
The Fall of the House of Usher - Edgar Allen Poe (Short Story)

Currently reading...
The Great Hunt - Robert Jordan (Book Two in the Wheel of Time)
Foundation - Isaac Asimov
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J. K. Rowling
Chaos - James Gleick (Nonfiction)
 


Posted by MrsBrown (Member # 5195) on :
 
Jezz--what is your opinion? One point of this exercise is to screen books for each other so we don't waste time reading trash
And more importantly, so we don't miss out on any jewels.

[This message has been edited by MrsBrown (edited September 18, 2009).]
 


Posted by jezzahardin (Member # 8782) on :
 
quote:
One point of this exercise is to screen books for each other so we don't waste time reading trash.

Forgive me, MrsBrown. I clearly missed that.

I shall comment on the others when they pass to completion.
 


Posted by dee_boncci (Member # 2733) on :
 
Well, I just finished the first of Dean Koontz's Frankenstein series. Sorry, the title of the volume escapes me right now. I can't really comment on the story yet as it's only beginning (the novel is somewhat self-contained). I do RECOMMEND reading at least one of Koontz's more recent books as a stylistic study. His efficient style and penchant for brief paragraphs make them extremely readable.
 
Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
dee_boncci, the first Dean Koontz's Frankenstein is called Prodigal Son and is co-written by Kevin J. Anderson (who claims Koontz as a mentor). The second is City of Night, co-written by Ed Gorman. He had four planned to come out every four months, but decided he didn't like collaborating much. Also, if you didn't know, you can rent the video. It was originally a script for a miniseries, but Koontz was dissatisfied with the first volume.

(I just read Cold Fire to my nine-year-old daughter at bedtime, for the last couple of weeks. Of course, I sensored a couple of parts. We're reading John Saul's Cry For the Strangers now.)

jezzahardin, have you read Robert R. McCammon's Usher's Passing, based on the Poe's story?

Wow. I just noticed I haven't updated. I'm reading Brandon Sanderson's The Well of Ascension. There's enough people here who have read it that I'd be preaching to the choir to recommend it.

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited September 19, 2009).]
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
I finished BEAUTY by Robin McKinley, and give it a recommend but I'm also just a big fan of McKinley, so bear that in mind. It was a good YA/even younger title, so it would be a great entry-level fantasy for kids who have read Harry Potter and are wondering what else the realm of fantasy included. My only critique is I thought the final character transformation and ending happened rather abruptly. I wouldn't have minded more falling action and/or character introspection on the final change.

I also just finished reading BRAIN WAVE by Poul Anderson. I haven't read any of his work before but I'm a big Golden Age sci-fi fan. I do Recommend this one, particularly for anyone who is a golden age fan like me. It's a book from the 50s, so there are some rather amusing anachronisms. I was describing the book to one of my middle school writer's workshop students and told her how the MC's wife was just a wife. She didn't work now that she was married - she ends up being a somewhat major character over time. We got a good laugh about that. "Really? She's just a wife? No kids?" - it was actually an interesting view into 60 years ago, though, because that element wasn't in any way a big part of the story, but it stood out so starkly for me (a working mom, with all the baggage therein.)

But honestly, excellent book. Primary idea: the earth has, for millions of years, been in some kind of "dampening field" that has limited our intelligence. All the sudden we move free of the field. And then what happens when IQs of 300-500 become the norm? It was not a very long book, I would have liked the author to have done more, explored more, gone deeper on some things, but overall it was just a great thought experiment. What would life be like? Would the change be positive?

I just started THE DIAMOND OF DARKHOLD, the last book in the City of Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau. I'm reading it because I want to know more of the backstory that she laid out in the first book (4 book series,) but I do find the storytelling to be a bit frustrating. The author alludes to intentionally withheld information at the beginning, then frustrates you and the main characters by having us not have access to this information for most of the book. But the ideas are pretty interesting. It's a mid-grade book, so it'll probably only take a day or two to read it (40-50k words.)

 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
If you're looking for more Poul Anderson, I'd recommend "Tau Zero," "The Corridors of Time," "Operation Chaos," and "Three Hearts and Three Lions," off the top of my head---there's a lot.

Back in the Golden Age---which, as I recall, was just a little before "Brain Wave" was published---and up maybe through the sixties, SF books were fifty thousand to seventy thousand words long, with few exceptions. (The bodybuilder books, too heavy to lift without a forklift, much less read, didn't start coming in until "Stranger in a Strange Land" and "Dune.")
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Just finished a knitting-plus-magic book (I'm a knitter, and just won a blue ribbon at the state fair for a shawl I knitted--first time I've ever entered anything at the state fair) called CASTING SPELLS, and I'm reading the sequel, LACED WITH MAGIC.

The writing is okay and the story-telling is interesting, but I have one major problem with the books. The story is told from more than one first-person point of view, and every single first person sounds exactly like every other first person.


If the author didn't have the name of the person whose point of view she was using at the beginning of each section, I would not be able to tell (except a bit from context) who was speaking.

It is driving me a little crazy.
 


Posted by ScardeyDog (Member # 8707) on :
 
Just finished reading Nation by Terry Pratchet (it's a YA novel) and I would recommend it.

Edited because I can't get the UBB code to work.

[This message has been edited by ScardeyDog (edited September 24, 2009).]
 


Posted by LlessurNire (Member # 8781) on :
 
Im reading Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson - just started it.

I was working on a near future mars colonization short story and realized that its probably been tackled already by a better author than me - I was right, found this book. Now I'm trying to think of a different angle to take, put my story on hold until I'm done with this...

Anybody else read it? how would you rate it? It won the nebula award in 93, so should be good.
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Just finished Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol. And I'm glad I didn't pay for it. As well as a distinct feeling like he'd lifted the plot from his previous novels and just changed a few words here and there, some very transparent tricks to keep the tension going (blatant withholding, stupid characters not asking questions) got very tiresome, very fast.

Not that I didn't appreciate my mother buying it for me - it's the thought that counts.

what follows is the kind of withholding that had me crying a little inside (names changed so it's not in any way a spoiler, but otherwise a quote):

quote:

..."I need to ask you a favor, Jim... as a friend"
"Of course. Anything."
Barry made his request... firmly.
Jim nodded, knowing he was right. "I will."



 
Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
I've come across a *lot* of that kind of withholding in fiction recently, BenM. It would be a good topic for further discussion. I see it a lot in YA and mid-grade novels that I read. It annoys me to no end. The MC figures something out, we're told that he/she has figured something out, but then we have to wait sometimes several scenes until the big "reveal" to learn *what* exactly they figured out.

Why do authors do this?

A corollary I found in Angels and Demons, an earlier Dan Brown novel, was when the MC would conveniently remember some trick or skill (specifically something about holding breath/how to play possum when someone is trying to drown you) at a key point that would help him get out of the scrape he was in. Seemed kind of like a cheat to me. (FWIW, I still think Dan Brown books are fun reads, I'm next in line for Lost Symbol in my house, but I read them with a much more critical eye now.)
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
If your character is going to use some trick or device to survive in a story, it's better to do some set-up early on in the story.

I haven't read any James Bond novels, so I don't know if this is something done only in the movies, or if they got the idea from the books. (I know they do this in the Modesty Blaise books, though.)

What makes the presentation of "cool gadgets" or "secret information" work, for me, at least, is that the presentation is interesting (and character developing) all by itself, but also, when the hero uses the gadget or information, he or she does it in an unexpected and clever way.

If he or she just used it in the way it was intended, that would be boring, right? (Not to mention predictable.)

 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
On the not telling the reader what the character has figured out until much later in the story problem, I quit reading Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry books because that happened one too many times.

Even Sherlock Holmes doesn't do that. If he figures something out in the middle of the story, he lets Watson (or Lestrade) or someone know that he's made a connection, and he waits to see if they've seen it, too, and then he shrugs it off when they don't and goes on with solving things.

That kind of approach seems much more believable and natural than the one KayTi has just described. Why do authors do it the irritating way? Laziness? They think it hooks the reader? They don't realize how contrived and "playing games with the reader" it appears to be.
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Just finished Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner. Brilliant. Recommended.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I've been rereading A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn: The Last Great Battle of the American West, by James Donovan...reading it made me realize, despite the Battle of the Little Bighorn's mythic status, and also despite my having read a few other books about Custer and the battle, I really didn't understand how the battle went or the why of it, or much about the people involved.
 
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Among other things, I'm reading Brandon Sanderson's WARBREAKER.

As with his other stuff, I really like it, and I love the characters. He moves from one character or group of characters to another as his chapters proceed, but he doesn't drive me crazy by ending chapters in cliff hangers--he doesn't need to--and he makes all of the characters interesting enough that I am willing to leave one character or group and read about the next one in the next chapter.

My one struggle as I'm reading this, however, is that it "bodes" some pretty intense stuff, so while I am happy to get back to it, I also find myself having to put it down after a certain amount of reading. It's not a book I can just sit down and read all the way through at once (even if I had the time).

Some of OSC's books have been that way for me as well, by the way.
 


Posted by HuntGod (Member # 2259) on :
 
---

Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson, (RECOMMEND) as good as the first two in series, but the end felt a little too trite

Persona non Grata by Ruth Downie (RECOMMEND) a fabulous continuation of her period fiction mystery series, check out MEDICUS and TERRA INCOGNITA as well

Revamped by Jeremy F Lewis (RECOMMEND) a good followup to his first book Staked, definately appeals to the True Blood crowd

House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds (RECOMMEND) I have loved everything he has written, though some of his work, this one included, can start a little slow, it's worth digging in

Cemetary Dance by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Childs (RECOMMEND) another Pendergast mystery, I love these guys and reading there books is always a hoot, though I would not describe them as deep, they are great popcorn books, tasty and filling but not really that much substance

[This message has been edited by HuntGod (edited October 05, 2009).]
 


Posted by LlessurNire (Member # 8781) on :
 
Posted this in a different discussion here on hatrack, thought it should go here too:

I recommend the book Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid. Not speculative, not what I would usually read either, it was recommended by a friend. Describes living in modern day Pakistan and details the downward spiral of the main character. Warning: a little dark, details drug use.

But what stood out to me was the novel use of POV. Most chapters are told in first person by MC. Some chapters told POV by other characters, giving a different perspective on events, talking directly to the reader. Then, a few chapters use this second person device, telling YOU what you are seeing and hearing, the characters are speaking directly to you. By the end of the novel YOU are asked to make a decision about the MC.
First time I have ever encountered this type of reader engagement and it really worked for me!
 


Posted by halogen (Member # 6494) on :
 
Just finished Flatland; what a brilliant way to describe the 3 dimensions. Currently reading "Dirty Job", "Spook", "The Medusa and the Snail" and "Valis"

 
Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
I'm reading Outcast (book 4 of Michelle Paver's Chromicles of Ancient Darkness) to my youngest two; reverse engineering (tearing down the mousetrap) The Janson Directive and I just opened The Hero of Ages by--who else?--Brandon Sanderson.
 
Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
I'm in a princess phase, I've recently read a bunch of Gail Carson Levine princess tales.

Fairest - influenced by snow white
Ella Enchanted - some cinderella bits, but mostly its own story
Ever - a really unique setting, great world-building in a girl/boy love story with a twist (as all of her books are) - girl is a merchant's daughter in one mid-east type setting land, boy is a god from another land, also mid-east but more mountainous. I thought it was a really good example of how a mainstream author could introduce her readers to a location that is unfamiliar.
And a series of short-stories that are bound in a volume called Fairy something or another - each about 10k-20k words, each interesting and fully fleshed out, and giving great backstory to Ella Enchanted and Fairest.

All are really enjoyable, though now that a number of 16-20 year old women have found their hearts' desires, I think I'm ready to move on to something else.

I also recently read (at IB's strong suggestion) Michelle Paver's Wolf Brother. It was excellent. Wonderful world-building, and great mixture of mundane details of survival in the wild with an overarching magical/mystical good/evil type theme/battle, as well as a coming-of-age plot.

I do wish more YA/mid-grade writers would write sci-fi. I'm reading as heavily in the genre as I can because this is what I like to write (and I really enjoy being able to read a book in 2-3 days! I prefer the shorter lengths.) But I just don't see much space stuff in this age range and it depresses me (encourages me to write it, but still it's depressing.)


 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
I'm kind of in-between books at the moment. I started a couple of things, but don't really want to get involved in a series right now, so put them back on the shelf. In the meantime, I'm reading an anthology of fantasy short stories called FLIGHTS. Some interesting stuff by some very well-known authors, including OSC.

I most recently completed THE CURSE OF CHALION by Lois McMaster Bujold. I recommend that. It ws a very good read. A very interesting MC, at least for me.

It wasn't until after I finished it that I discovered that it is actually the first in a series, too. However, you really can't tell. The book stands entirely on its own.
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Just finished Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. It was an interesting read, but more as an exercise in understanding the book's place in literature. As a contemporary reader, I didn't find myself really engaged by either the writing or the character. Now off to read something a little more lighthearted...

...so then read Galahad at Blandings by P.G. Wodehouse. Good fun, some laugh out loud moments, but I didn't find it quite as twisted as Code of the Woosters.

(I didn't see any reason to double post)

[This message has been edited by BenM (edited October 21, 2009).]
 


Posted by Dark Warrior (Member # 8822) on :
 
I love the "Books" facebook app that lets you list books you have read, want to read, or are reading.

Myself, I am currently reading:

HERITAGE OF SHANNARA - RECOMMEND

Just finished:

SPEAKER OF THE DEAD - RECOMMEND
THE SURROGATES (Graphic Novel) - RECOMMEND

and have Isaac Asimov's SCIENCE FICTION TREASURY waiting in the wings

[This message has been edited by Dark Warrior (edited October 26, 2009).]

[This message has been edited by Dark Warrior (edited October 26, 2009).]
 


Posted by Dark Warrior (Member # 8822) on :
 
Speaking of SHANNARA - Does anyone have a favorite LOTR inspired series? SHANNARA is good but I absolutely love THE CHRONICLES OF THOMAS COVENANT.

There are so many parallels (Reminding myself never to write about a magical ring used to destroy an omnipotent type protagonist) and disregarding the fact that he makes me go to the dictionary 5 times per page...the milieu and characters are so amazing it overrides the rest.

[This message has been edited by Dark Warrior (edited October 27, 2009).]
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Stephen R. Donaldson claims he had not read LOTR before he wrote the Thomas Covenant books. Whether he has read them since, I couldn't say, but he was not influenced by Tolkien when he wrote them.
 
Posted by Dark Warrior (Member # 8822) on :
 
Really? With all those parallels:

Giants/Ents
One Ring/White Gold Ring
Sauron/Lord Foul
Rangers/Bloodguard
Helms Deep/Revelstone
Ravers/Ringwraiths

Well we could probably fill an entire thread with the parallels, but wow...I never would have guessed he wasnt influenced by LOTR. Still one of my favs though...loved the depth of character in Thomas Covenant the anti-hero.
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Authors draw on cultural heritage in producing material, whether that be myths and legends, religion, or historical or contemporary social change. Probably the only thing that did seem similar (to me) between the two stories was the use of a ring as a talisman, but it was done differently enough - and rings are talismans in our nonfiction culture too. Just think of how many fantasy stories use a sword as a talisman...

As a random aside - my and my wife's wedding rings are white gold, chosen with a conscious nod to the Donaldson story.

[This message has been edited by BenM (edited October 27, 2009).]
 


Posted by LlessurNire (Member # 8781) on :
 
Just finished Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

A great read, RECOMMENDED for anyone interested in mars colonization stories - this is the absolute best novel I have read about it. He really knows his science, and seems to cover all kinds of possibilities that I had never even thought of. Pretty technical hard sci-fi but definitely worth it, I'll be picking up the sequels, Green Mars and Blue Mars next chance I get...
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I think one of Tom Shippey's books on Tolkien talks of Donaldson using the word "dour-handed"---and that he had to have gotten this from Tolkien because Tolkien reintroduced the word to English after a gap of some, oh, six or eight hundred years. (Details subject to change if I remember to check the book.)

If you want a recommend on one of the homages to Tolkien, I like Niel Hancock's Circle of Light tetralogy. It was an early effort, both on his part (with later work he got better as a writer) and in the scheme of things Tolkienish (it came out in 1976 or 1977, as I recall)...and he probably owes a great deal to Kenneth Grahame as well as Tolkien...and I've read better-written things...but it comes around to this: I like it better than most of those other things.
 


Posted by ScardeyDog (Member # 8707) on :
 
Not sure if I mentioned it earlier, but I recently read NATION by Terry Pratchett and would HIGHLY RECOMMEND it. (It's a YA fantasy novel, separate from his Discworld stuff.)
 
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Donaldson seems to love to use obsolete words for things for which there are perfectly fine modern words (the one I recall being most frustrated about is periapt--I leave the definition as an exercise for the reader), and I accused him of showing off that way. He didn't deny it.

As for the ring, Tolkien and Wagner (The Ring Cycle opera) both got magic rings from Norse folklore, and there's no reason Donaldson could not have done the same.


 


Posted by Dark Warrior (Member # 8822) on :
 
Ring parallel was just one of many I noticed.

My favorite is the Friendly member of an ancient long-lifed race that towers over man, spends hours telling stories or just saying hello, and the race is dwindling in number because they dont have children and they have lost track of the rest of their race in some far away land....

Treebeard or Saltheart Foamfollower?
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
But Treebeard doesn't feel a need to hold his hand in the fire.

<shrug>

I'm only passing on what Donaldson said. He claims to not have read LOTR before he wrote the Covenant series. Argue with him.
 


Posted by Dark Warrior (Member # 8822) on :
 
I'm not really the arguing type...just talking about the parallels that I noticed in two of my favorite epic quest stories. It may be blasphemy but I actually enjoy The Chronicles more than LOTR and just ordered The Last Chronicles.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I've been rereading a couple of A. Bertram Chandler's John Grimes novels...I like 'em a lot, and I may dip into my collection for another pass at several more...back when I was buying them, I could never get a complete list and, to this day, I wonder if there were any I missed. (Somebody on line must have a list...I'll take a look.)

(This started a couple weeks ago when had a dream complete with plot, which would have been perfect to write up---if I hadn't immediately recognized that it came from Chandler's Rendezvous on a Lost World. The only difference between his plot and mine were several characters---in my dream, they were various sitcom stars from the 1960s.)

*****

I've also been rereading Bob Spitz's The Beatles...it's a thorough account of their lives and histories, up to the breakup...though it does put most of its weight on "before they were famous" times and glosses over the glory years. I do pick up on this error or that here and there---I'm pretty savvy about what happened in the lives of the Beatles and when it happened---and wonder about the accuracy of what I find here for the first time.

*****

Am I reading anything brand-new? Well, the latest volume of The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon is out...Volume Twelve, titled Slow Sculpture. The stories might not be new, but the collection is...and most of Sturgeon is well worth another pass through. I've read the back-of-the-book notes and a couple of stories. (The original series editor, Paul Williams, has departed due to illness, and the notes are weaker for it.)
 


Posted by Joseph Forrest (Member # 8460) on :
 
I finished reading The Eternal Prison by Jeff Somers recently. Excellent, excellent book. Those that say cyberpunk is dead need to read this one. It's a good read.

Also, I eternally read The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing and Publishing Science Fiction by Cory Doctorow. I read it in between books because it has a lot of good information in it. It's right next to OSC's how-to books. They have, more than anything, given me helpful information and inspiration to write.


 


Posted by Dark Warrior (Member # 8822) on :
 
Here is a great paper by Stephen R. Donaldson discussing "Epic Fantasy".

http://www.stephenrdonaldson.com/EpicFantasy.pdf

 


Posted by abozzo64 (Member # 8865) on :
 
reading The Doctor's Wife which has an excellent grabber.

also beginning the matthew pearl books, first is the Dante Club.

wanting to reread: A Star Called Henry by doyle
Tropic of Cancer by miller

i have read Escape from Evil by Becker and want to buy Denial of Death.

i finished City of Thieves and loved it.
 


Posted by dee_boncci (Member # 2733) on :
 
Recently finished the "Frakenstein" trilogy by Dean Koontz. This was a major disappointment. The first two books were entertaining but the third was a huge letdown. Worst thing I've read from Koontz by far.
 
Posted by Ben Trovato (Member # 7804) on :
 
Re-reading Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, currently on Turn Coat. Needless to say, recommended. Whoever the heretic was who said Dresden stories were awful, I will be magnanimous and not attack with flames of fire...this time. Anyway, they get better later on.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
For a change, a book I hated from the first line. I picked up a book this morning, that I'd had for some time, but thought I'd give a look through. I won't name it, but it supposedly dealt with the time frame between the end of the Cold War and the September 11th attacks.

But the first sentence in the first paragraph read something like "After Bush II's presidency, the Clinton years are starting to look like a model of sanity."

That was it. I would read no more, and the book nearly wound up in my garbage can---a rare thing even for a book I don't like. And I didn't like that.

I guess there is something to the theory of the first lines being important, after all. If I had read that in the store, I wouldn't have bought the book.
 


Posted by rich (Member # 8140) on :
 
Um, I maybe should wait for a little more distance between this post and Robert's post, but I have to say that The New Yorker is a faaaantastic magazine. It's a little left of center (especially the brief opinions that comprise the first few pages of the mag), but the articles are nicely balanced and nuanced. From articles on the use of drones in Pakistan (of which the Obama administration has used in more situations than the Bush administration ever did) to whether or not the nuclear arsenal in Pakistan is really safe to profiles on Wes Anderson and James Cameron to this week's issue of articles on flavor makers and Michelin guidebooks.

The flavor maker ("flavorists") one was especially great. Here's the link to the abstract: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/11/23/091123fa_fact_khatchadourian.

From the article (and I think it's still on sale on newstands):

"There is no molecular distinction between synthesized vanillin or vanillin extracted from vanilla beans, but the way the molecule is made determines whether it will be advertised as 'natural' or 'artificial'. Flavor chemicals often make up less than one per cent of the ingredients in processed foods, and many flavorists regard the terms 'natural' and 'artificial' as largely meaningless--an indulgence for consumers who happen to believe that one is more likely to be toxic than another, even if the perception is not necessarily true. (After all, snake venom is natural.)"

Good and intersting stuff.

[This message has been edited by rich (edited November 22, 2009).]
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Just finished Michael Chabon's The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. I was left feeling a little ambivalent about this book. On some levels, it was brilliant, and (I think) I can see why it won a Pulitzer. But on the other hand, the occasional wordiness became (at times) so incredibly hard to digest that I wondered if I was intended to understand the writing or just be dazzled by it. Perhaps it says more about my current limitations as a reader, but it was, at least, a good book with which to push my boundaries. I'd call it Recommended - and let you make up your own minds
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
With a couple of exceptions, I like to come 'round to this thread on the first of the month and say what I'm reading now (or just finished). But a lot of what I read would be called "political" stuff, and both by ukase from Kathleen and from prior personal experience, I don't want to discuss politics here. Besides, how any of you react to one of these will be shaped a great deal by your own political opinions and beliefs.

I think I can comment about Sara Palin's Going Rogue, which I finished over the holidays, without going into the politics of it. I found it an enjoyable lightweight read, no deep thoughts...and I found the saga of Palin's experience as governor of Alaska of considerable more interest than her account of the presidential campaign. (Maybe because the former didn't play out in the media as it happened but the latter did.) No great insights, one way or another, but a fair amount of fun.
 


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
Conn Iggulden's Lords of the Bow, which--as usual with Conn's newer work--I'm enjoying.
 
Posted by Phobos (Member # 8883) on :
 
I just picked up "The Engines of God" by Jack McDevitt. I can't put it down. That and I have read about thirteen short stories this week.
 
Posted by Foste (Member # 8892) on :
 
I delayed reading "Warbreaker" from Sanderson because I have to read "A Sentimental Journey" for college.

It is a really fascinating take on the journal format of literature. A bit of a parody too


 


Posted by satate (Member # 8082) on :
 
Brandon Sanderson's Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians - Recommended

I loved it. It made me laugh outloud several times. It's written for children though and I wonder how many of the jokes they would get. There are so many jokes about writing and books. He purposely puts cliffhangers at the end of chapters and says he does it because all authors are really sadists who love to torture their readers. Anyways lots of great parts, the story was good too. Some funny books often lose story because the witty dialog is more important than the plot but this novel manages to pull off both. This book reminds me of The Princess Bride and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl - Good

I didn't love it, but I liked it. It was fun, not too engaging; I found it easy to put down. I wanted to be more immersed into the characters and the author was too present, but it was a cute story and a fun twist on Leprechauns and other fairy folk.

Robin McKinley's The Hero and the Crown - Good

Another nice story that I liked, but didn't love. I never felt like I knew the characters well and there was too much that seemed to just happen without explanation. I did enjoy reading it though.
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
I've heard about Sanderson's book only recently, satate, I'm going to have to get it. Sounds right up my alley (I read in mid-grade/YA almost exclusively these days.)

I'm sorry you didn't love Hero and the Crown, though. It's one of my all-time favorites. The Blue Sword, which follows that book chronologically (it takes place much later when people know of the legends of Aerin and Tor) but I believe was written earlier, is my favorite of McKinley's book, and higher in my list of all-time favorites than Hero and the Crown. There are some bits that just aren't explained or just sort of happen, but the book does such a good job of taking me elsewhere, I really love it for that.

Meanwhile, I've read recently the books in the series 39 Clues, which is a children's series. They are quick and sharp and a good lesson for how to write a plot-driven story, and how to be economical while still making things happen. None of the books are earth-shattering, and they feel a little repetitive when you read them all in a row like I did, but they are nice, tight stories and I think there's a lot to like about them.

My kids have been reading a series of books from the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, by Patricia Wrede. The first is called Dealing with Dragons. Highly recommend! The princess learns things like fencing from the fencing master and how to make cherries jubilee from the chef until her father finds out and shoos her back to her deportment lessons, or what have you. When her parents try to marry her off, she runs away and ends up becoming a dragon's princess. The prince she was supposed to marry as well as other knights come to try to rescue her and she gets annoyed, busy helping the dragon. She meets the other dragon's princesses and helps solve their problems, as well as the overall problems the dragons are facing. She's plucky and funny and has great voice. There are four books in the series and the kids have really enjoyed all of them, which each take a different spin/direction. There's a lot of funny stuff with existing fairy tales, and a strong presence of cats. All makes for fun fiction.

The other book we're really excited about is The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. We're listening to it on audio book and I can't recommend it highly enough. The author does such an excellent job of using description to give us important details of plot, things that move the story forward, help reveal character, etc. But the descriptions are all so rich, you can't help but feel like you're there experiencing things. The book is long, divided into three parts, and I believe is playing off a fable (which i was unfamiliar with.) We're not finished with it yet but we keep finding ways to make time in our day to listen to more (it's what we do while I make dinner and when driving.) The audio is performed by Full Cast Audio, so it's read by a cast, which makes it wonderful. And it's a cast of audio talent, so they know how to act for audio. We listened to the audio recording of the first of the dragons books I mention in the previous paragraph, and it's performed by a group of stage actors. I didn't care for the way they played to the back row, it felt a bit much for audio. But Goose Girl's audio cast is excellent, and it's a really enjoyable read.
 


Posted by rich (Member # 8140) on :
 
Currently reading The Hobbit out loud to the kids, and working my way through Ellroy's, Blood's A Rover.
 
Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
Reading Mistborn to my kids (carefully avoiding some adult themes and expressions).
 
Posted by satate (Member # 8082) on :
 
I've heard good things about The Goose Girl Kay Ti. Maybe I'll give The Blue Sword a try. I've been reading mid-grad/YA lately too since I've started writing a mid-grade fantasy novel.
 
Posted by dee_boncci (Member # 2733) on :
 
Recently finished "Under the Dome" by Stephen King. It was better than I thought it would be. I'd give it a high GOOD. In truth I've forgotten the grading scale--what I mean is I wouldn't call it a "must read", but it's entertaining, and I found an interesting metaphorical look at the risks of certain diplomatic tactics worked into the story. Don't know if it was deliberate on King's part or not.
 
Posted by Foste (Member # 8892) on :
 
Great series you picked for your kids Babbler

I am a huge Mistborn fan myself.
 


Posted by Unwritten (Member # 7960) on :
 
Just read Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini and I loved it! It was such a pleasant surprise. It was sort of like having a Horatio Hornblower type character written by Charles Dickens. I started to read Captain Blood by the same author and wasn't nearly as hooked. I finally put it down because I had other library books I wanted to read more, but I'll probably finish it someday.

I don't think I mentioned that I read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Highly recommended.

I recently reread City of Bones, City of Ashes and City of Glass by Cassandra Clare. They are YA urban fantasy and I think Jace is currently my favorite hero. I recommend the books, although there are things about them that bother me. Jace makes up for it.

Next on my pile is The House of Many Ways--the sequel to Howl's Moving Castle!!!! by Dianna Wynne Jones. I'm so excited!
 


Posted by Unwritten (Member # 7960) on :
 
I also love Shannon Hale's books Kay Ti. I loved [/i]The Goose Girl, Enna Burning[/i] and River Secrets but I haven't read the last one in the series. I think it's called Forest Born. Her book The Book of A Thousand Days is one of my favorites. If I could write like that, I would be happy.
 
Posted by Owasm (Member # 8501) on :
 
I hardly have read anything in the past six months with all the novel drafting I've done. I just finished Sanderson's Elantris. Never picked it up and knew nothing about it.

I was shocked at the ending. It is just about the same ending for the antagonist as I wrote for the novel draft I wrote in the summer. What do I do? Luckily, the antagonist is a different kind of devil, so perhaps it will stick.


 


Posted by DaveBowen (Member # 8786) on :
 
Recently finished Sandman Slim and must RECOMMEND it. Richard Kadrey just rips the lid off this one. Fair warning, it's unabashedly rude and brutal.

Also finished Breathless by Dean Koontz. Koontz could probably make Federal emmissions regs an enjoyable read, but I literally can't believe where he took this story. I'll give it a BLORF, a word I've just made up which means, "Keep it in the bathroom and read bits at a time. You won't miss a thing, and you'll finish eventually."

Put paid to Mercury Falls by Robert Kroese, a surprisingly good freebie for the Kindle. If you enjoyed Gaiman and Pratchett's Good Omens, this is a passable surrogate. Worth a GOOD.

Gnawing on Hidden Empire by OSC, loved Empire, high hopes.

Altar of Eden by James Rollins is nipping at Mr. Cards' heels, so he dare not lose a step.

Dave Bowen

Edited a typo- somebody stop me, I've been on here for days....

[This message has been edited by DaveBowen (edited December 31, 2009).]
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
On my usual first-of-the-month post, right now I'm reading Intellectuals and Society by Thomas Sowell. I've read a fair share of his earlier work---he's a prominent economist. There was Black Rednecks and White Liberals---a hoot, though it's a serious scholarly work.

This one is a study of how intellectuals shape society---and what goes wrong when they do. As the old saying goes, more or less, "Dumb people make mistakes; smart people can royally [time-tried word beginning with "F"] things up."
 


Posted by dee_boncci (Member # 2733) on :
 
Recently finished Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton. This is the "complete" manuscript that was published after his death. It's unlike his other work I'm familiar with in that it doesn't have the same medical/science presence to the story line. The best way to describe it is probably historical fiction, although it's maybe more imaginative than what you might expect with that.

It was a fun book. I'm not widely read in the realm of pirate stories, so can't say what it compares to. I don't know if it was what he intended to publish next before he passed, or something he had done earlier and set aside. But it was interesting in how it differed from what I expected based on the other 3-4 of his novels I've read. But not a "must read" in my opinion.
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Just used part of my Christmas gift card to buy an anthology called THE DRAGON BOOK. It was the story by Tad Williams titled "It Was a Stark and Wormy Knight" that sold it. I've got to read that story! So that's next up for me.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited January 06, 2010).]
 


Posted by Emily Palmer (Member # 8877) on :
 
I'm currently reading "I, Jedi," which I enjoy, but I would not recommend reading unless you've first read the X-Wing series (at least the first four books) and the Jedi Academy Trilogy.

I'm also reading "Ender's Shadow," which I actually like better in some ways than "Ender's Game."
 


Posted by dougsguitar on :
 
I have three going right now;

A. Chekhov - Ward No. 6 and Other Stories (awesome-dark, ongoing reading)

H. Melville - Omoo (Melville probably would not be able to publish these days... to many hard words for lazy readers. Something I am seeing a lot in crits, [hangs head in sorrow])

Tolkien - Roverandom (very good stuff)
 


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
Lexington and Concord: The Beginning of the War of the American Revolution by Arthur B. Tourtellot - I'm torn about it. On the one hand, it does have new facts about the setup, midnight rides, influence of Samual Adams, John Hancock, and Pastor Jonas Clarke; on the other hand, it does a good job of discrediting the efforts of John Parker, the minutemen, and the integrity of the entire command of British troops as incompetent. He only mentions Menotomy in passing, and justifies the flanking regulars' actions as that of soldiers trying to eliminate "snipers".

How does beating two unarmed bar partons's brains out (literally) and smearing them all over Cooper's Tavern's walls have anything to do with snipers?
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
I just finished
K.A. Bedford's Orbital Burn. It's an okay SF pulp piece, but has a very strong, laconic voice which seems at times a little too cutting and/or out of place. But it had been on my shelf for years and I'd never read it, so at least I can tick that one off now. Not Impressed.
Yann Mantel's Life of Pi. I'd heard so much about this book. Very readable, I knocked it over in a couple of days last week. Unfortunately I think I'd heard too much about it, because I had to do a double-take at the end when I realised what the story was really about (which had been telegraphed repeatedly from the beginning, but I'd missed it). Or maybe that's the intention. Not (to me) as moving a story as a couple of others I read last year, but still highly Recommended.

Currently reading
Novel Ideas, edited by Brain M Thomsen. A collection of short stories that went on to become notable novels, series and/or franchises, I'm just about finished this and I have to say it's been brilliant. It's been very interesting to read the originals by Orson Scott Card, Anne McCaffery, Greag Bear, David Brin and others and consider how they compare with the novelisations (or in some cases, make me want to go out and read the novels). Recommended.
 


Posted by Foste (Member # 8892) on :
 
I just picked up the Warded Man from Peter V. Brett.

While reading I got reminded of George R.R. Martin, Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn), and Pat Rothfuss.

Was he imitating them? Not even closely.

The atmosphere is so heavy and grim but his portrayal of suffering is so strong that it makes me care for the characters in the first few pages. I expect much from this novel.


 


Posted by genevive42 (Member # 8714) on :
 
I'm reading Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I got it as an audiobook so I could cover some of the big classics on my commute. I am thoroughly enjoying it.

The descriptions are wonderful and paint a very vivid picture without going into excessive detail. It's the things he chooses to describe that create the image.

And the character portrayal is fantastic too.

I'm about four hours in to a twenty-five hour book and I have high hopes that it maintains this level of interest for me until the end.
 


Posted by Antinomy (Member # 5136) on :
 
The Boneman’s Daughters by Ted Dekker is a good read but could have been better. A serial killer challenged by a captive’s father makes an interesting plot.
Dekker writes well but can’t seem to let go of salient points. He tends to dwell on them too long and revisits what we’ve already learned.

 
Posted by Rhaythe (Member # 7857) on :
 
"State of the Union", by Brad Thor

Takes a long time to get going, but now that it has it's a rollercoaster thriller. Quite enjoyable.
 


Posted by MAP (Member # 8631) on :
 
quote:
I'm reading Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I got it as an audiobook so I could cover some of the big classics on my commute. I am thoroughly enjoying it.
The descriptions are wonderful and paint a very vivid picture without going into excessive detail. It's the things he chooses to describe that create the image.

And the character portrayal is fantastic too.

I'm about four hours in to a twenty-five hour book and I have high hopes that it maintains this level of interest for me until the end.


I loved Crime and Punishment. It is in my list of the best ten books of all time, amazing characters.

I just finished Catching Fire which is the sequel to Hunger Games. I really enjoyed it.

I am fascinated with Collin's writing style. I think she does a lot of telling with flashes of intense, emotional showing. I really like the effect; it fits the story.


 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
I just finished Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson. I don't know whether to love it or hate it: The writing was vivid, painting detailed pictures that occasionally took my breath away (Wow, you can do that with prose?), and what I took away as the moral of the story, while subtle, was well supported. On the other hand, the 'present day' elements of the story were told in a very well written present tense first person that I nevertheless found hard to get my head around, the past-tense backstory was occasionally (deliberately) told out of sequence and caused me to get a little lost at times, and the pace was very slow, which while deliberate also made the book feel a little like a chore here and there.

In the end, it all made sense and I can sit back and say, Huh, yeah, that was really something. But due to the difficulty getting to that point I'd have to - for me - say this sits somewhere between Recommended and Not Impressed.
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Just finished DREAMHUNTER and DREAMQUAKE by Elizabeth Knox. I really liked the story, though it was slow going at first.

I'd be very interested in knowing how the author put the whole thing together because it certainly seems to have needed to have an outline.
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Somewhat delayed-by-a-bad-cold from my usual first-of-the-month posting, but I was reading Americans in Paris: Life & Death Under Nazi Occupation, by Charles Glass, a saga of what happened to those who stayed behind when the Nazis overran France, and with it an enlightening look on how trying to get along could lead to collaboration and treason. Some of these people I have encountered in other books, at other parts of their careers...others where wholly new to me.
 
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
I recently finished THE HALLOWED HUNT by Lois McMaster Bujold. I'd rate it Good, but not in the same class as the first two books in the series. (The second, PALLADIN OF SOULS, won a Hugo and a Nebula, so that's a pretty high class.) So, I reread it to try to figure out why. What worked so well in the first two and failed to work in this one? I have a few theories.

I'm now reading THE DRAGON BOOK, an anthology of short stories about dragons. As with any anthology, some stories are better than others. So far, I think I like Naomi Novik's new take on Julius Ceasar, Marc Antony, and a dragon named "Vici" best. Although Kage Baker's story about the rewards and perils of exterminating "wyrmin" is a close second.
 


Posted by danlee (Member # 9003) on :
 
Having just finished a semester of college with three heavy reading courses, I took a little break from books. Over the course of this last week I've read: (all by Phillip Pullman)

Once Upon a Time in the North
The Golden Compass/Northern Lights
The Subtle Knife
The Amber Spyglass
Lyra's Oxford

I am still digesting, but I'm landing somewhere between Recommend and Good. Obviously there are certain themes and views that may bother some people. I also watched the film, The Golden Compass after reading the books, but somethings were different, and that was disappointing. I do wish they were making the other films so long as they could stay a little closer to the text.

[This message has been edited by danlee (edited February 11, 2010).]
 


Posted by Smaug (Member # 2807) on :
 
Just finished Spirit of the Stone by Maggie Furey Good, but not amazing. I'm now reading The Name of the Wind by Rothfuss, and in non-fiction, Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore by Elizabeth Lyon. If interested, you can also check my list at http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/1891667?shelf=read

[This message has been edited by Smaug (edited February 15, 2010).]

[This message has been edited by Smaug (edited February 15, 2010).]

[This message has been edited by Smaug (edited February 16, 2010).]
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
I believe anyone can look at reviews of books on goodreads.com, simply by looking up the book itself and scrolling down through the various reviews that have been posted.
 
Posted by Smaug (Member # 2807) on :
 
quote:
I believe anyone can look at reviews of books on goodreads.com, simply by looking up the book itself and scrolling down through the various reviews that have been posted.

That is true. Just type the name of the book in the search box there and hit enter and you will get a list of books that match that title. If you click on the individual title you can see all the ratings and reviews of any particular book.
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Just finished The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monserrat. Fantastic. It may not be spec fic, but nevertheless, worldbuilding abounds. The only caveat for me was the style of English took some getting used to (long sentences, antiquated spellings like connexion and rôle) but by a little way in it read naturally and no longer distracted. Recommended
 
Posted by rich (Member # 8140) on :
 
Just gotta share.

So I'm reading Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs, from Communism to Al-Qaeda, and there's an anecdote of the CIA bugging a Soviet diplomat's residence while he was out of town. Guys working on the inside to install the microphones, and guys on the outside digging up the flowerbed for the wires (this was 1963). All work had to be done at night.

So the guys digging up the flowerbeds had to use bayonets to dig a trench for the wires, and then carefully and meticulously recover all the loose soil so it would appear that nothing untoward was going on in the garden.

During the day, the CIA was watching the diplomat's house to ensure he didn't come back early, but...they noticed the gardener would spend a lot of time looking at the flowerbed. This went on for a couple of days, and the CIA guys were getting nervous. Was the gardener hip to what was going on? Yeah, the CIA covered their tracks and everything looked good to them, but here was a professional gardener who noticed something was amiss. The gardener would spend more and more time looking at the garden where the CIA techs were doing the clandestine work, and shaking his head about something. Maybe the gardener was waiting for the diplomat to come back to town before he spilled the beans?

The CIA finally decided they couldn't take much more of the gardener scrutinizing their work. Panic set in. So they approached him, and he agreed to enter into a covert relationship with the CIA. Much to the gardener's own relief: "'Every morning for the last week,' he said, 'I come to work and the red flower would be where the yellow one used to be, the blue one was over here.'"

The CIA techs couldn't see the colors of the flowers because of the darkness. And here was this gardener who thought he was losing his mind.
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Just finished Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, which came highly recommended. However, I'm just not sure it's my thing... nor that I could explain why in a short post. I found it almost headed the same direction as how I remember The Cat Who Walks Through Walls - digressing from the initial story opening almost to the point of gratuitous self absorption; unlike that other work though, at least this one does tie itself up with some sort of ending. However, next time a book's going to go making a point of sex and religion I hope it'll confess its intention up front. Meh, not for everyone I guess. Maybe I'm just a prude. I'd put it somewhere between Good and Not Impressed. It did have redeeming qualities despite pushing a few of my buttons in the wrong way.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Thinking about reading Stranger in a Strange Land brings up quite a few memories...it was among the boxed-set of paperbacks that were the third Heinlein I talked my parents into buying for me (come to think of it, it was a Christmas gift). I liked it, but not as much as some other Heinlein, more than others in the set (like Farnham's Freehold, say).

Later, I reread it, and it was better...still much later, I re-reread it, in a new edition that restored what Heinlein had edited out just to shorten it for publication, and that edition was way better and the book was much more interesting than before. (That, or I had grown enough to appreciate it.)

If you're devoted to Heinlein, you've already read it...but if you haven't got the expanded edition, get that.

(Addendum: I wouldn't want people thinking I read the book once, then once again, than once yet again...in my early days I'd be reading them every few weeks, later every few months or years, and occasionally right to this day. True of practically all Heinlein---come to think of it, I'm rereading one right now.)
 


Posted by genevive42 (Member # 8714) on :
 
I finally finished Crime and Punishment. I say finally only because I was listening to it on my commute and it is 25 hours long, unabridged. But I loved every minute of it. It never lagged and the tension-release ratio was masterfully played. Even when I knew what was going to happen because it was completely foreshadowed I was still on the edge of my seat waiting to see how it happened.

I recommend this book to everyone. It is absolutely brilliant and extremely satisfying. If you get the audiobook, get the one narrated by George Guidall - he is fantastic and the character voices are quite clear.
 


Posted by Dark Warrior (Member # 8822) on :
 
I am reading The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown.

The cultural A.D.D. shift that brought us rapid fire video hits like MTV and 24 has reached the book world. This is my first time reading a Dan Brown novel and I must admit that I like the continuous timeline plot style and short chapters. The rapid POV switches are needed with this style but they do not detract from the story in any way. His fiction wrapped around truth plotting is intriguing and several times during the book I found myself running to Google or Wiki when I was shocked to learn about American art or history that I did not even know existed (see George Washington Zeus).

Though I would be interested to see if (Robert Langdon) really could connect points on the streets of downtown Detroit to make a pentagram. I am about halfway through but the book--which I started to read to guage his voice and writing style--has not disappointed. I hope the ending is as good as the beginning....and I hear that his first two were written even better.
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
I agree, Dark Warrior. Dan Brown's novels may not be everyone's cup of tea, but he moves the pacing around and manipulates the reader's heart rate in a precise manner. I think there's something to learn from there. (I feel the same about the Twilight books. As much as writers complain about the writing, the author is onto something. I think pacing is the key. Pacing and emotional stakes in Twilight. Pacing and public/external stakes in Brown's work.) Though I do start to groan after Langdon manages to miraculously get himself out of yet another scrape in his books, it's eye-rolling at times, but because the pacing and stakes are high, it's easy to keep reading.

I've been reading the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson, another good example of pacing. It's a YA/mid-grade fiction series, protag is 14 yrs old. I'm on the fifth book (the last, though I wouldn't be surprised to find there is another in development.) It's a great set of books - near-term earth-set sci-fi where scientists have grafted avian dna onto human embryos and created "bird-kids." The first book, first few chapters, are an excellent read in particular because it shows you how to put a character in the middle of the action, then, as the action unfolds or with a small amount of flashback, the other characters and details of setting, situation, are played out. Very neat stuff, I have a lot to learn from it. Recommend.


 


Posted by Antinomy (Member # 5136) on :
 
“Cell’ by Stephen King.

The best and the worst of King; a great plot with believable characters fleeing from zombies created by cell phones gone bad. An intriguing page turner that fails because (as usually happens in King novels) he either runs out of gas or becomes distracted and begins to ramble. At first I began skipping sentences, then paragraphs then entire pages.
Finally I reached a conclusion with a few decent tidbits along the way...but then it ended with a thud.
NOT RECOMMENDED

 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
My monthly comments on what I've been reading recently:

New Books:

Yalta: The Price of Peace, S. M. Plokhy. Gives a thorough account and a detailed examination of the events of the "Big Three" conference at Yalta---Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin---what led up to it, what happened at it, and what happened afterwards. Maybe too "academic" in tone, but hardly a downcheck for someone interested in the period.

Also: He Crashed Me So I Crashed Him Back, Mark Bechtel. Covers the tumultuous year of 1979 in NASCAR history, where they first got gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Daytona 500, and attracted a lot of attention by putting on what's often considered the best NASCAR race ever. You may have gathered I'm a NASCAR fan...not as extreme as some in my family but more than the Average Joe.

An Older Book:

The Candy Bombers: The Untold Story of the Berlin Airlift and America's Finest Hour, Andrei Cherney. I dug this one out because I read another book on the subject, which has a different spin on the matter (and a few additional facts)---but this books focuses on the story of Hal Halvorsen, who flew the Airlift and decided to do something that just may have changed the course of history. The story packs an emotional impact.

Am I Reading Any Science Fiction?

Yeah, I picked up a reprint, a combo edition of two Robert A. Heinlein collections: The Green Hills of Earth and The Menace From Earth. It may have been (re)printed in 2009 but I just picked it up last week. It's like greeting old friends...I still remember trying to trace out on a road map the route the main characters of "The Year of the Jackpot" took out of Los Angeles.

Not all was perfect, as I remember it. I realize, now, that Bob Wilson, the lead character of "By His Bootstraps" is, really, pretty unlikeable. (Also Heinlein would do this time-travel-paradox story much better in "All You Zombies," not present in these collections.) I got to thinking...in a lot of his first bunch of stories (the ones that made such a strong impression on the SF readers when they were published in Astounding in the late thirties and early forties), the characters aren't particularly likeable. Some grow and change (Bob Wilson goes through quite a number of extremely interesting experiences), but others remain the way they were. Heinlein seems to have solved this problem by the late forties and further work.

Also there's an interesting introduction (giving details of Heinlein's writing life that are new to me) and afterword (speaking of how Heinlein put his stories together that might have been a good guide for writers if it hadn't been written in such a smarmy style).

Heinlein hasn't gotten the "corrected text" academic treatment---yet. There were some volumes of Robert E. Howard "Conan" stories a few years back that managed to be condescending about their origins and publishing history---Heinlein's work hasn't reached that state of publication yet, but, I would like to see some improved texts. (The famous "Heinlein Timeline" has typos in it---I'd like to see a reprint of the original version (if extant) and any alterations.)

Meanwhile, the afterword makes mention of a prediction Heinlein made that I am just not going to rest easy until I track it down...
 


Posted by genevive42 (Member # 8714) on :
 
I've moved on to a short story collection by Kurt Vonnegut called, "Welcome to the Monkey House". It is very good so far.
 
Posted by Bent Tree (Member # 7777) on :
 
I read Stephen R. Donaldson's, "The Gap Into Conflict:The Real Story" this morning. Although, I don't typically enjoy such a distant style of narration, I really enjoyed the arrangement of his storytelling and the story itself. It was enough to keep me reading the Series. I will likely read, "Forbidden Knowledge" tomorrow.
 
Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
I really enjoyed reading that series when it came out, BT, much more than his Thomas Covenants; Angus Thermopyle and Morn Hyland are etched in my mind. I wonder how much I'd enjoy it now though. One of these days I'll have to re-read it.
 
Posted by Bent Tree (Member # 7777) on :
 
Ben,

This is the first I have read of his work. I picked up a crate of his novels at a yard sale to add to my 1400+ bookshelves. Have you read any of his other novels besides this series and the Thomas Covenant series?
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Aside from Thomas Covenant and the Gap series, I have his Mordant's Need series and a book of short stories. They're both okay (Mordant's Need is a lot lighter fare, and has some uniquely memorable characters), but I think it's largely subjective - the three series might appeal most to different audiences.

On the reading front, just read Ursula Le Guins' The Tombs of Atuan, which I enjoyed much more than A Wizard of Earthsea for some reason. Perhaps because it set up a couple of (to me) very interesting mysteries early and played them out well. I'm aware it didn't work as well for some other readers I asked. Good

Also just re-read Terry Pratchett's Small Gods, a satire on (among others) the subjects of blind dogma and philosophy; I found this much more profound the first time around, this time it was good, but not quite as amusing. And maybe a little darker than I remember. Good
 


Posted by genevive42 (Member # 8714) on :
 
Just finished "Welcome to the Monkey House". I liked most of the stories in it. As in any short story collection there were a couple that didn't grab me, but even those weren't bad.

I'm not sure what I'll be reading next. I have two non-fiction lined up but one has a very flat narrator and I don't know if I'm going to be able to get through it on audio.
 


Posted by Violent Harvest (Member # 9038) on :
 
Just finished "Diary," by Chuck Palahniuk, and WOW, it was such a weird read. I can't really decide how I feel about it. The present-tense rambling style that he uses is actually very intriguing. I love the way he goes about his writing, but the actual plot is SO FREAKING WEIRD. I can't really explain it.

I would say Good, but I wouldn't Reccomend because the read is such a specific cup of tea. You'll either dig it or you'll hate it ---- I actually think there's a chance some will quit the book in midread, while others won't be able to put it down.
 


Posted by rich (Member # 8140) on :
 
Reading Hellraisers: The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, and Oliver Reed.

Good, gossipy stuff. Highly recommended if you like those chaps, and want some inside dirt.
 


Posted by andersonmcdonald (Member # 8641) on :
 
Half-way through the novelization of Big Top Pee-Wee. Wow, what a book!
 
Posted by TrishaH24 (Member # 8673) on :
 
I'm sure I'll get blasted for this, but I just finished reading The Princess Bride by William Goldman. I would not recommend it. And yes, I watched the movie first. I grew up on that movie. I've been meaning to get around to the book for about ten or fifteen years now and I finally did this weekend.

It's not that I thought the book and movie didn't match up. In fact, having watched the film had no bearing on the way I felt about the book. I just didn't enjoy the writing style. I'm not a fan of third person omniscient, and I didn't appreciate the "abridgment notes" or the style. Goldman used run on sentences as a tool to create mood and pacing and I thought he went a little over-the-top. Sometimes he'd flip back and forth between two different people's thoughts in a single sentence. (I didn't like it when Virginia Woolf did it, either, so it isn't a prejudice against Mr. Goldman.)

I'm not saying don't read it. (I'm probably the only person who didn't enjoy it.) But I don't recommend it.

Next up, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (or possibly Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane). I want to read the books before seeing the movies. (I guess this is book-turned-movie month.)

Updated: Just got Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore and that has been bumped to the top of the "READ NOW" list.

[This message has been edited by TrishaH24 (edited March 14, 2010).]
 


Posted by Dark Warrior (Member # 8822) on :
 
I'm reading Digital Fortress by Dan Brown but I really am not far enough along to comment on it. I am also re-reading Bio of a Space Tyrant: Refugee and Mercenary by Piers Anthony.

I have veered away from reading books I enjoy towards books that pertain to the novel I am working on (though I am enjoying some of those too).

My MC works with and eventually becomes an Intel Officer (in space) so I have been reading Intelligence Community based books or books of similiar milieu to my space station.

Update: I previously mentioned I was reading The Lost Symbol and I hoped the ending was as good as the beginning. Well i did, in fact, like the ending but without spoiling anything, part of the climax in the mansion really went over the top and caused me to 'suspend belief' so the book wouldnt be one of my all time favorites but I would still Recommend

[This message has been edited by Dark Warrior (edited March 14, 2010).]
 


Posted by Bent Tree (Member # 7777) on :
 
In adition to my short a day prescription,I read three novels this week so far, which is why I have been getting no writing done. "Fallen Angels" Nivell-Pournelle, " "The Worthing Saga" by OSC (Both of which are classics so I shall not comment on) The third was "Userper of the Sun" a translation by Housuke Nojiri, which is one you can find on the shelves at your favorite mass print conglomerate. I will say that as a translated story, it retained much of its readability and offered a very unique story from a class of stories that I am starting to get more interested in; that is SF that deals in near Earth possibilities.

The Hard SF element was very creative and I enjoyed the story alot although it was a little bit mainstream in its design. I give it a solid 4 out of five.
 


Posted by Andrew_McGown (Member # 8732) on :
 
Veniss : jeff vandermeer
Canterbury Tales (the 'good news' modernised english version)
 
Posted by andersonmcdonald (Member # 8641) on :
 
I'm reading The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe. Nice lightweight story, enjoyable. Except his choice of names gets downright grating at times. Names like Maxwell and Phil and Terry and Cathy, in a medieval-type setting. Ugh! Jars me right out of the story.
 
Posted by Bent Tree (Member # 7777) on :
 
I just realize in reading that post that I haven't read any Jeff Vandermeer. It seems funny since I take so much of his writing advice to heart. Besides the one you are reading now, what are his best? I would like to try him out.

I read alot of shorts this week. I got all three of the new issues in the mail and I read all of them in a few days...well I skipped over a few in F&SF because they were a little dull. I also read "Absolution Gap" Alastair Reynolds... Great stuff Quite the wordsmith and amazing milieu building. He is definately on to stock on your shelves. I consider him one of the modern greats.

I read "Monkey Sonatas" OSC the day before yesterday. Good, but not my favorite by far. It did help me see the range Card has though. I also picked up a few things in regard to effective prose that seemed to come through in a Card style I don't often read, so that was refreshing.

I also read a "Star Wars" book this week. "Dark Apprentice" I love them all. Anderson and Wolverton are both great technical writers, but Michael Stackpole is my Favorite. His voice always comes through in the prose even in the vast Star Wars Universe which is rare.
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Ian McEwan's Atonement. Mixed feelings about this one. The slow first part I felt nevertheless pulled it's weight, and the later sections were page turners. The ending was both a little surprising and yet wholly inevitable. Perhaps it was more surprising that McEwan decided to play the unreliable narrator card and risk a reader labeling the story futile rather than fulfilling. For its verisimilitude, or for playing conflicting points of view against each other in an interesting way, I think this was still a very good read. I'd have to rate it Good.
 
Posted by Smaug (Member # 2807) on :
 
I'm reading Elantris and Josey Wales.
 
Posted by Corky (Member # 2714) on :
 
Resisting the urge to make a comment about how that is an interesting combination, and not doing a very good job. (Yes, I see that the "and" isn't italicized, but my mind is kind of quirky sometimes.)
 
Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Reading the STONEHEART series (STONEHEART, IRONHAND, and SILVERTONGUE) by Charlie Fletcher.

Middle-grade contemporary fantasy. Premise - boy falls into an "un-London" where statues are real, and either spits (human-like and good/kind to him) or taints (monster-like and out to get him.) The writer has an incredible talent at description, at putting two ideas together that don't seem to go together at first but, in retrospect, give you a new appreciation for each idea. Fascinating turn of phrases he uses, and just a beautiful language use. Highly recommend. and not just for those of us who read children's literature.

The book has Disney as part of it's publisher mark, so I anticipate big things for this book, suspect we'll see a movie before long and all that jazz. But the characterization is on, the pacing good, lots of peril, interesting situations, a really unique magic/fantasy system, etc. And the language...it's not just that he's English, there's really something to how the author puts words together. Very rich and enjoyable experience.
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
"Stoneheart, Ironhand, and Silvertongue"...sounds like a fantasy-world law firm.
 
Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Finally finished Ursula Le Guin's original Earthsea Trilogy with The Farthest Shore (reading the next book in the series - Tehanu - now). I enjoyed the series and thought that using a young MC in each case was an interesting way to keep a series with scope still relevant to a YA audience. I still think I like the second book more - I found style (mythic?) in the other books to be somehow too distancing. Or maybe I didn't care about their characters enough, or didn't feel the MCs had enough at stake.

Also finished Dwight Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer. I found it slow going, as I had to stop and think about it a lot (sort of like reading a textbook). I felt it interesting to see how many approaches presented therein reflect 60's fiction, though I can see how a lot remains relevant also. Most appreciated was the final sections dealing with attitude and approach, which I also had my wife read so she can give a little supporting nudge in the right direction once in a while.
 


Posted by marta (Member # 9058) on :
 
Just finished reading "Hunger Games" and "Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins. Highly Recommend it. The kicker is that this is a trilogy and from what I gather on her website, she's working on the third one.
It's very easy to get emotionally attached to the MC and feel the struggle she goes through. It's the kind of reading where you think there's no way out of a bad situation for the MC - you really feel it. Can't wait for the third one.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
So I'm taking my usual first-of-the-month posting on what-the-hell-I've-been-reading...

I've started a book, Tommy Gun: How General Thompson's Submachine Gun Wrote History, Bill Yenne. I like it, and, so far, it tells me a lot of stuff I didn't know and revisits a lot of stuff I did know. But, on "writing history"...there are a lot of books out there, interesting though they are, that make me think I could write one of my own better...and the style of this makes me think so.

Better, and better written, is another book I've been rereading: Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America, Craig Shirley. This covers the 1980 presidential campaign. I lived through it, and remembered a lot of what happened...this fills in details I didn't know, puts events and people in context, and, despite my knowing the outcome, keeps the suspense going.

I tried to read another book, The Ground Truth: The Untold Story of America Under Attack on 9 / 11, John Farmer. Frederik Pohl recommended it on his website...I had a copy but hadn't gotten around to reading it before. Right from the introduction I realized the writer has an axe to grind---a political axe, at that. I poked around a little here and there in the rest of the book after that...I don't know if I'll finish it.

(Also I spent a lot of time reading Robert Service's biography of Josef Stalin...it's very dense, and I only made it three fourths through---but I skipped ahead to the end and read that.)

Science fiction? Well, most of what I read was Heinlein. As I mentioned a prediction Heinlein supposedly made, that I learned about from the afterword of a collection I read last month. I acquired brand new copies of all but one of the books his early stuff was reprinted in from Amazon-dot-com---one is currently out of print and unavailable---but I still haven't tracked the prediction down. (Okay...according to that afterword, in 1939 Heinlein predicted an attack on New York City in 2001 from the Third World with two airplanes...found something close to it in For Us, the Living but not quite that exactly.)

Also I thumbed through the Barnes & Noble public-domain volume of H. P. Lovecraft. And, since I went searching through Niven and Pournelle's Inferno due to a discussion elsewhere, I also read some of that.
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
I just finished HOW NOT TO WRITE A NOVEL, Mittelmark and Newman. Recommend. Not only may you find something of which you have been guilty--hopefully in the past--but it's a fun read, too.

I just started SOULLESS, by Gail Carriger. Too soon to tell, but it feels like it's going to be pretty good. That's in spite of the fact that the author made a couple of unsignaled POV jumps in the first chapter that left me longing for a seatbelt.
 


Posted by Antinomy (Member # 5136) on :
 
“Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Jamie Ford. RECOMMEND.

It has to do with the concentration camp internment of American citizens of Japanese heritage during 1942 and the ripple effect it had on friends, neighbors and loved ones.

For older readers who remember playmates that mysteriously disappeared overnight it’s – aha, so that’s what happened.

For younger readers it answers the question – how could you let that happen?


 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Addendum to the above...I spoke rather harshly about the quality of the writing in Tommy Gun...but maybe I should've posted after I finished, 'cause the book has a brilliant couple of paragraphs at the end. (Page 314 of the hardcover---if it's out in paperback I haven't seen it.) One of those things that makes reading worthwhile.

Here's an extract:

In Greco-Roman mythology there are the gods who personify the forces of the natural world, but also the heroes and antiheroes, heroines and antiheroines, who personify the best or worst of human nature and human ability.

So it is when we touch the Thompson submachine gun.

To hold it and to shoot it is to be one with Al Capone, but also to be one with Audie Murphy. They are two sides of a coin, an antihero and a hero. Both are men from the mythology of the twentieth century who were once real, but who have long since become allegorical. To stand in their shoes, and to wrap your finger around the trigger of their gun, is to feel, for a moment, the extremes of human nature that they represent.
 


Posted by rich (Member # 8140) on :
 
Finished Await Your Reply, by Dan Chaon. Liked it a lot. Highly recommended. It's marketed as a "literary thriller", which is kind of bad marketing, IMO. Those that don't normally read literary works are going to be sucker-punched if they think they're reading a "thriller". But the prose is spare, and the narrative barrels along, with those trying to guess the "twist" (there really isn't one) missing the point of the book, I think.
 
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Just finishing BEGUILEMENT, the first book in THE SHARING KNIFE series by Lois McMaster Bujold. Definitely RECOMMEND. I'm going out later this afternoon to get the rest of the books in the series.

I really have to figure out what it is about her books that just draws me in. I want to sit and read the whole thing in one sitting, which is very unusual for me. Her prose doesn't get in my way, but neither does it sing. Then again, that might get in the way of the story. Every once in a while she does one of those things I'm trying to teach myself not to do--said bookisms, averbs in the dialog tags, etc.

She's very good at banged up protagonists. All of the main characters in the stories I've read so far have been pretty well beaten up by life before the story ever starts in one way or another. The back story comes out gradually and where it's needed, or just before. And then she beats them up some more before letting them come through at the end.

There's always a strong element of romance.

Before that was SOULLESS by Gail Carriger. GOOD, mostly for the interaction of three very eccentric characters.
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
I loved THE SHARING KNIFE series and wish she'd write more.

I've heard that SOULLESS #2 has a cliff-hanger and that #3 won't be out till September, so I think I'll wait on them.
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Dropped in a little early to mention a book I read. Robert Conroy's 1901, an alternate-history of a German invasion of the United States in, of course, 1901. I'd read it before; my copy turned up when I moved some books and I gave it another read-through.

I liked it, liked it a lot...but there's one thing I didn't like, and I see it in a lot of alternate-history books. The writers take events from the future, or the people who will participate in them---events that in the present-of-the-narrative, have not, will not, and will never happen---just to say either "See how smart I am!" or "This'll get a rise out of the reader!" Characters who we know did things are killed off or injured...at one point towards the end of 1901, characters give a name to their future that has a sinister connotation in our past...all just to provoke a "Hmm!" moment. Cheeses me off.

I concede that the younger selves of the people of real-history would be present in the alternate-history as presented---but I don't see why a mention has to be what essentially amounts to a joke on the reader. Wouldn't it be better just to create some fictional characters and then kill them off?

(Also, I concede a lot of references I get might go over the heads of some, maybe most, readers. I may be cursed by knowing too much...)
 


Posted by genevive42 (Member # 8714) on :
 
A few days ago I finished, 'Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World' by Jack Weatherford in audiobook format. It was very good. I'm not usually much of a history fan but the author did a good job of keeping this interesting and moving along. There were only two times where I started to glaze over on the family political working of who did what to whom and it all became a jumble of names. But those bits didn't last long. I got a whole new look at world development and wondered why our history classes are so bad that Genghis Khan was never even mentioned though he did so much that affect us today.

I am now reading, "Wild Seed" by Octavia E. Butler. It's fantastic and has me really intrigued to find out what's going to happen.
 


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
I'm reading Brethren by Robyn Young. One of the newer Historical Fiction authors, and writes in the tradition of Bernard Cornwell and Conn Iggulden, but with shorter chapters. I'm liking it so far....

I've also been reading Stephen King's The Stand: Uncut, and can definitely see why it was cut. The more I read it, the more I find I'm wading through thick prose for little bits of payoff. I'm not very impressed.

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited April 29, 2010).]
 


Posted by rich (Member # 8140) on :
 
Re: The Stand. My old, battered paperback copy has a mention of Howard the Duck. It bothers me for some reason that the later editions, and the Uncut edition, I believe, have deleted Howard. I think the mention is replaced by Superman.

Anyway...yes, there WAS a reason why The Stand was cut as extensively as it was. I'm with you, IB.
 


Posted by TrishaH24 (Member # 8673) on :
 
It's funny that you guys mentioned The Stand. I just finished The Lovely Bones (FANTASTIC, by the way--my only disappointment came from the way it ended, though it was still a beautiful, heartwarming end. Just not what I was expecting. Sort of the way Memoires of a Geisha didn't end the way I expected: good, but I felt just a little let down.) Anyway, I was digging through my books looking for On a Pale Horse (and couldn't find it) when I came across my 12th grade copy of The Stand. (It's got names of boys I thought I was in love with scribbled all over the back pages. Made me laugh.) Believe it or not, we read this in school. Crazy, huh? I really enjoyed it, and since I love to get lost in thousands of pages and intricately woven plot, I have decided to re-read it. I'm curious to see if I feel the same about it now as I did 7 years ago.

[This message has been edited by TrishaH24 (edited April 29, 2010).]
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Hey Genevive, good to see your recommendation. Jack Weatherford's book has been on my shopping list for a while now; I really should get around to picking it up.

Since last updating here I've read James Patterson's Along Came a Spider, and Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy.

Patterson's book was pretty good; while it didn't truly blow me away it certainly had more depth than I expected. Shortly after I finished it I watched the film, to find I was really disappointed: What a horrible film adaptation!! Good

I loved the first book of Pullman's trilogy (Northern Lights / The Golden Compass depending on edition). The worldbuilding was enjoyable, the world's problems thought provoking, and the characters fun. I'd happily label it Recommended.

Only then I got to books two and three, and felt I'd had the old bait-and-switch pulled on me. First the world I'd come to love in the first book was taken away to become essentially irrelevant. Then the characters decide to deal with the story problem (The Magesterium is corrupt and evil!) in a way that seemed completely illogical (Let's kill the guys they work for!). While there was still a lot of imagination in the second two books (The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass) they just seemed a platform for authorial dogma rather than subtle rhetoric, and as a result - for me at least - a very tedious read. So while I loved the first book I sadly found these, well, Bad.


 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Back as promised...what have I been reading? Well, here's a few titles...

Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood With Britain In Its Darkest, Finest Hour, Lynne Olsen. The first chapter made me think it was going to be another dry history...but it soon picked up and I went through it in a couple of sittings.

The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counterrevolution, 1980-1989, Steven F. Hayward. I found this interesting---lately, I've found a lot of works about the period interesting, in a "fill in the blanks" sense that I knew some of what was going on, but not everything. I'd recommend this to everybody, irregardless of political orientation...but, I've got to say, it doesn't cover "everything" that went on in the Reagan presidency, either...the Challenger disaster, for instance, doesn't get a mention, near as I can tell. (Word of warning: there's at least one other "The Age of Reagan" book out there, maybe more...check the writer's name beforehand.)

I just started reading The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America, by David Hajdu. It turned up in my pile when I was looking for another book. Two chapters in, and I'm impressed by the number of names I'm familiar with from other things---any well-versed SF reader would know a lot of these guys, and comics fans should know nearly all of 'em.

SF? Well, the aforementioned 1901, by Robert Conroy...some more Heinlein...anything new? Nothing struck my fancy this month...

Anyway, I'll be going away in a week, and I do a bunch of reading while I'm gone. There's another account of Custer's Last Stand coming out Tuesday, and there are always goodies around, old and new...
 


Posted by satate (Member # 8082) on :
 
I just read Tuck Everlasting last night. I read the whole thing in about two hours and stayed up past my bedtime. So the storyline was compelling enough to keep me reading, still I'm not sure I would give this book a recommend. It was pretty and likable. I say pretty because there was about equal time spent on describing the scenery as the plot. By about midway I started skimming the paragraphs that talked about how the frogs croaked or the morning light played on the leaves. But the characters were likable and the plot was interesting.
 
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Jack Weatherford also wrote INDIAN GIVERS about how much Native Americans and their world changed the rest of the world once they were encountered.

I thought it was a very interesting book, so I'll have to find the one about Genghis Khan.
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Just finishing the last (fourth) book of THE SHARING KNIFE series by Lois McMaster Bujold.

RECOMMEND, definitely.

Great characters and a really good story. She writes protagonists who are damaged at the beginning of the story (and then get beat up some more) really well.

One of the things that strikes me most about this series is the world-building. Let's face it: an awful lot of fantasy is set in something approximating the middle ages, at least in technology. Even Bujold's CHALION books, which have a thoroughly imagined and distinct world, still exist in a very medieval feudal system.

THE SHARING KNIFE exists in a world recognizably based on the pioneer Midwest at about the time farmers were first breaking ground along the Mississippi, Misouri, and Ohio rivers. There's a lot about this world that is her own, of course. But the similarity is unmistakable. One side character is even based on Davey Crockett, according to the author's notes. Very interesting.

I hope, like her Miles Vorkosigan series, that she decides to revisit these characters some time.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited May 28, 2010).]
 


Posted by genevive42 (Member # 8714) on :
 
Finished 'Wild Seed' and was blown away. It is an incredible book. I would recommend it to anyone.

I've been riding the motorcycle the last couple of days so the audio books are on hold. Not sure what I'll read next.
 


Posted by genevive42 (Member # 8714) on :
 
I'm starting Hart's Hope by OSC. Right off the bat I'm not sure I'm liking it but not in a way that will keep me from finishing it. I am curious to see how it plays out.
 
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
It's a challenging book, genevive42. Good luck with it.
 
Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
For me, Hart's Hope was rough in the beginning, but it got better. I couldn't tell it was supposed to be an alien world, and I thought the magic system could've been explored much more, but I did like it...fundamentally.
 
Posted by genevive42 (Member # 8714) on :
 
Do I dare to post 'Hart's Hope' for discussion when I'm finished? It seems like it might be a good topic.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Rather than list the best of the books I've read in my recent travels in its own post, I'll just put them here. (Nobody responds when I put them up separately, anyway.)

The Age of Reagan: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order 1964 - 1980, Steven F. Hayward. This is Volume One of the Volume Two I listed above...something I didn't know until I read that one. (Also I bought it and took it with me...I had started it but was only a couple chapters in when I set out.)

Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, Daniel Okrent. A much-neglected period of American history, at least as far as the politics of it goes. This answered a lot of questions.

The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Nathaniel Philbrick. Mentioned above, too. This tells me only a little I didn't know...but it's another perspective on things, and, besides, Philbrick has written several other compelling histories. Worth the effort. (Another one bought before I left.)

With the Old Breed, E. B. Sledge. This was probably the most compelling of the books I read...I picked it up on reading of it in another book by Victor Davis Hanson (who writes an introduction in this paperback edition). It's a first-hand account of one soldier's experience in the fighting on Peleliu and Okinawa (if any of you are Americans and don't know what they are, go right now and look them up). And if you have any illusions about how easy soldiering and fighting is, this will blow them away.
 


Posted by Utahute72 (Member # 9057) on :
 
OK, Just finished Fallen Angels by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and Michael Flynn. Currently reading 8th confession by Patterson.

Before that read the Koontz Frankenstein Series and Quanta, a book on Quantum Theory.

Waiting in the wings Blasphemy and The Pacific.
 


Posted by satate (Member # 8082) on :
 
I just finished Sarah Ash's Tracing the Shadow.
I almost quit reading it three different times until I just decided to only read the POV character I liked. There were three but I only cared about one. I ended up going back and reading the other sections later so I would understand the plot better. I liked the book all right but not enough to read the second or third one.


Edited to fix the title

[This message has been edited by satate (edited June 06, 2010).]
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
I did that with a book recently, too, satate. I got so irritated at the jumping back and forth between characters that I just picked one and followed through on that character and then went back and read the other parts afterwards.

Grrr!
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Well, I'm attempting to read some Sherrilyn Kenyon, BAD MOON RISING, because I thought I should find out what other werewolf stories are out there while I'm trying to find someone interested in BLOOD WILL TELL.

Yech. I'm still not sure if I can finish it. The idea of werewolves as a biker gang is kind of interesting, but there area so many things that bother me.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited May 23, 2010).]
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
I'm reading William Gibson's Neuromancer, and I swear even at 150+ pages in (of 460 or so on my Nook) I have only the vaguest idea of what's going on. Interesting story, but very difficult to slog through. I'm looking forward to something light and fluffy and QUICK after this.
 
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Meredith, give Patricia Briggs' stuff a try. Her Mercy Thompson series is about a were-coyote who is involved with a werewolf pack, and there are separate books about one of the werewolves as well.

I haven't read any Sherrilyn Kenyon stuff, so I don't know how they compare, but I was able to finish the first Mercy Thompson book and I'm very interested in reading more.
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
quote:
Meredith, give Patricia Briggs' stuff a try. Her Mercy Thompson series is about a were-coyote who is involved with a werewolf pack, and there are separate books about one of the werewolves as well.

Thanks. I'll give that a try.

I hate to say it, but my impression of this book is just sloppy. Maybe that's the genre. I think this is classed as paranormal romance and I haven't read a lot in that genre. She obviously has other books in the series and a lot of world building, but she didn't have to throw it all against the wall in the first 50 pages. There's stuff I just don't care about yet and some stuff I'm not sure will ever matter in this book. Not to mention misused words, using the wrong name for a (major) character in one scene, info dumps about the backgrounds of minor characters. Oh, and confusion about the rules of her own world. (At first it's well, if we mix species (werewolves and werebears) there won't be any kids. Then it's we can't dilute the bloodlines. Pick one, but they can't both be true.)

She actually has interesting characters and has put them in a somewhat interesting situation. The rest is just driving me nuts and I think I'm about to quit and find something else.

I'll look for Patricia Briggs next time I'm out.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited May 28, 2010).]
 


Posted by CraigMc (Member # 9104) on :
 
I'm a Patricia Briggs fan. I'd also recommend the Mercy Thompson series.

I'm also a big fan of Bujold's writing. Bujold draws me in with her writing more then her story lines or plot.

Currenlty I've got 3 books I'm trying to get into.

1. The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett
2. Hunting Grounds by Patricia Briggs
3. False Memory by Dean Koontz

I keep revisiting the first chapter of these books..it's weird
 


Posted by CraigMc (Member # 9104) on :
 
quote:
I really have to figure out what it is about her books that just draws me in. I want to sit and read the whole thing in one sitting, which is very unusual for me. Her prose doesn't get in my way, but neither does it sing. Then again, that might get in the way of the story. Every once in a while she does one of those things I'm trying to teach myself not to do--said bookisms, averbs in the dialog tags, etc.

I agree 100%

I can't put my finger on why I like it but I know I do.


 


Posted by Dark Warrior (Member # 8822) on :
 
The Runes of Earth by Stephen R. Donaldson

Bio Of A Space Tyrant: Refugee by Piers Anthony Dillingham Jacob

The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton...I tried this once and wasnt interested. I heard someone here raving about PFH and decided to give this another shot. Not reading yet but it has moved from my Sci-Fi shelf to my nightstand.
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Wow, Meredith, that sounds like sloppy copyediting (or none at all, for that matter) along with sloppy writing.

I continue to be amazed at how little editing seems to be done in some cases.
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
On sloppy-yet-published works...I forget whether I mentioned it here, but I picked up this one book a couple of years ago, a "popular" book yet with a fantasy-ish theme, about a mermaid and mer-civilization...it drove me nuts in the way it was written, from the intro where the writer explained how she intended to write a different book and wrote this, to the poor dialog and sketchy background backfill, down to its being a sequel without ever saying anywhere on the cover. I forget the name...
 
Posted by posulliv (Member # 8147) on :
 
Finished reading a number of Flann O'Brien's works.

_At Swim Two Birds_, hilarious, but doesn't fit the format of a novel, doesn't have a satisfying ending. Reputed to be the first post-modernist novel, not sure what that means, but worth a read if you like language and absurdity better than a story.

_The Poor Mouth_, English translation, a send-up of the early twentieth century 'folk' stories written in Irish by authors like Peig Sayers, Tomás Ó Criomhthain,
Muiris Ó Súilleabháin, etc. Hilarious if you've read the originals, may not be if you haven't, but the translator captures the rich absurdity of the original Irish text.

_The Third Policeman_, the best of the three in terms of story, rich language, absurd ideas, it could be science fiction if it weren't literary fiction, not a really satisfying ending, but of the three the most like a conventional novel.

[This message has been edited by posulliv (edited May 25, 2010).]
 


Posted by posulliv (Member # 8147) on :
 
Also finished _The Hunger Games_ by Suzanne Collins, a great first person present tense story right up until the unsatisfying ending that is less an ending than a setup for the next book in the series. Marketed as YA, really opened my eyes to the scope of YA fiction. Not sure I'll read the next in the series, but I was hooked by the end of the first paragraph and if it had ended right one of the ten best books I've read this decade.
 
Posted by babooher (Member # 8617) on :
 
I just finished Geosynchron by David Louis Edelman. It is the last book of his Jump 225 trilogy. I discovered the books by accident and they have been the best finds I've had in awhile. The books are cyberpunk and fast. They have a good character arc and I'd recommend it highly.
 
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
 
KayTi, you probably won't ever really understand Neuromancer. I know I never did. I still really liked it, though. William Gibson's strength is not his storytelling, though, as much as his brilliant use of language, his interesting ideas about technology (even though they're cliches now, I think they were pretty out there when Gibson invented them in Neuromancer), and his sharp observations about society.

The opening line of Neuromancer is one of my all time favorites. "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." Very evocative to me.
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
quote:
Meredith, give Patricia Briggs' stuff a try. Her Mercy Thompson series is about a were-coyote who is involved with a werewolf pack, and there are separate books about one of the werewolves as well.

Thanks for the recommendation. Two chapters in and I can already tell it's a winner.
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
YES!
 
Posted by genevive42 (Member # 8714) on :
 
I'm onto The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. It is really fantastic. He has a marvelous way of using ordinary words.
 
Posted by mr. riggles (Member # 9101) on :
 
Currently reading: The Hotel New Hampshire, By John Irving. So far, it is very entertaining...John Irving is the master of the good old "coming of age" tale...RECOMMENDED - Also read The World According to Garp (Irving as well) many years ago and have found myself reading it over and over again.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman was intriguing, but very slow and boring at times. He should stick to comic books (oops, sorry - GRAPHIC NOVELS). Gaiman's writing is dull, which hampers his overzealous plot. I would not recommend this book, unless it is the only book you have with you on a desert island.

And of course, OSC's Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide are must reads. Children of the Mind; I could go either way. I would not read it again. Ender's Shadow and the Bean series is pretty good, but too much military tactics drag them down from being overly compelling reads. My thumbs are sideways, pointing at one another.

 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Nearly neglected to put up my usual first-of-the-month books...I covered some right after my vacation, but I've got others...

Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory, Ben Macintyre. Picked up and read while on vacation, but somehow I forgot to mention it last time around. A very interesting story---some of you may have seen a movie, "The Man Who Never Was," from the 1950s, covering this story...it's a true story, and this book fills in lots of details of that story, and also corrects some deliberate misstatements made for security reasons at the time. Besides that, it's a terrific read.

Three Chords for Beauty's Sake: The Life of Artie Shaw, Tom Nolan. Picked up after vacation. An interesting biography of a "freethinking iconoclast" (how Shaw is described on the jacket flap at one point). Well worth the time (and money). If you don't know who Artie Shaw was, look him up---especially his music.

In the Land of Invented Languages: Adventures in Linguistic Creativity, Madness, and Genius, Arika Okrent. Picked up on vacation, reading now (three-quarters finished). Mentioned by me elsewhere in Grist for the Mill. For anyone who sets out to invent a language for a story, or just for the hell of it...

Appetite for America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire That Civilized the Wild West, Stephen Fried. Bought before vacation, started now (one quarter finished.) An interesting history (not biography) of America's first restaurant chain, with lots of stops for interesting detail about life in these United States along the way.

Any SF read this month? Well, last month I reread a book by Robert Conroy...while on vacation I picked up two more and read them when I got back. Alternate Histories, both: 1945 (the Japanese renege on their surrender after VJ Day), and also Red Inferno: 1945 (the Russians attack the Americans as both sides enter defeated Germany). I gotta say I'm not overly fond of Alternate History---if the other choice was so damned compelling, surely they would have made that choice, and not the one they did---but these have as many interesting tidbits as a normal history book.
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I can add now that I finished the ones above that I didn't...comes from being awake when I should have been asleep and sick when I should have been well. They remain mostly good, though in Appetite for America I have some issues with the writer's discussion of the Manhattan Project...
 
Posted by Dark Warrior (Member # 8822) on :
 
I am in a rut. Seems I have a number of unread books that I havent been able to get past the first chapter on.

Runes of Earth by Stephen R. Donaldson
The Memory of Earth by OSC
Bio of a Space Tyrant: Refugee by Piers Anthony
The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton

Uggh

Maybe I will try Nerilka's Story by Anne McCaffrey
 


Posted by Utahute72 (Member # 9057) on :
 
Just finished Blasphemy, by Douglas Preston, and wondering if anyone else has read it. Very interesting take on Science and Religion.
 
Posted by genevive42 (Member # 8714) on :
 
I finished The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. It was great. The ending, while a shade sad, was very satisfying. Major thumbs up.

I also read Animal Farm by George Orwell. Somehow I missed it while I was in school. I know what he was doing and the political statements he was making, but it irritated me. I really wanted for them to be frying up some bacon for a Sunday celebration. This book actually put me in a bad mood for the evening.

I also read the short story A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman. It was free on audible.com. Another good story from him. An interesting take on Baker Street detectives.
 


Posted by satate (Member # 8082) on :
 
I just finished book 2 and 3 of the Alcatraz versus the Librarians seriers. These were called, Alcatraz versus the Scrivenor Bone and Alcatraz versus the Knights of Crystalia.
I liked them both alot and I'm kind of sad now that they are done. The tone is very silly and irrevent and I like the jokes he makes about writing thought I wonder if his target audience (9-13 year olds) would get it. I really enjoyed them and I'll read book four and five when they get out.
 
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Recently finished MOON CALLED by Patricia Briggs. A very fun read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I expect I'll be looking for more in the series the next time I hit the bookstore. (Backlog pile is pretty high right now, though.)

Finishing DEAD AND GONE by Charlaine Harris. I will never be a Sookie Stackhouse fan.

It's interesting that both books had many of the same elements. Both are mysteries, of a sort. Both have vampires, werewolves, and even Fae. In Patricia Briggs world, they all seemed to fit. In Charlaine Harris' world, I believed the vampires and the werewolves, but the Fae felt sort of tacked on. I had other issues with her world building, too. Things just didn't always seem to fit.

I think my main problem with Harris' book, though, is that it just feels like it wanders around aimlessly without much direction. And, looking at it, I think it's at least partly because she didn't deliver the story she promised.

She started out with the weres "coming out". Okay, I can see that causing some conflict and driving a story. Next, one character's mother gets shot because she reveals to her husband that she's a were. Looks like that's the story we're going to get. Then another character, who happens to be a werepanther, gets killed rather gruesomely. Alright, I'm sold. That's what this story is about. Then we take a hard left turn into a war between the Fae which for some reason seems to revolve around Sookie. Why is never adequately explained. Not a very satisfying story and I won't be reading any more of hers.

Next up, something without either vampires or werewolves for a change.
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Finished Neuromancer by Gibson and it was very interesting, but I hesitate to recommend unless you're a true sci-fi buff. I think it would be off-putting to the casual sci-fi enthusiast. It's hard-core sci-fi, and old-school, from the 80s I think? For me it's an interesting read because of the things he foretold. I love reading old sci-fi and seeing how many predictions the authors had came true (and laughing about the ones that didn't...like I forget which author who had the vision of teletype machines in every house spitting out the news on a tape wheel...) If for no other reason, Neuromancer is worth reading to understand what it's like when the author REALLY knows his world and has a lot of details to share with the reader, even if the reader has no frame of reference on which to hang all these crazy details and ideas.

I'm now reading DUST by Elizabeth Bear, and it's great. Recommend! It's a sci-fi story about a generation ship that's gone haywire. The first few chapters you think you're reading a fantasy book, with some odd drop-ins about nanotech and things. Before long you realize it's a set of scenes/environments all on one enormous ship that has evolved beyond its original intentions. Very very interesting.
 


Posted by genevive42 (Member # 8714) on :
 
I'm reading The Martian Child by David Gerrold. It is not SF, but a true story of his adoption of a troubled child. Without being sappy, it is very moving.
 
Posted by MikeL (Member # 9138) on :
 
I just read 'The Moon a a Harsh Mistress' - Robert A. Heinlein
- very good classic

'The Sword of Truth' series - Terry Goodkind
- Recommended; very good story line, a bit long winded at times but worth it

'Fablehaven' series - Brandon Mull
- Good YA story

 


Posted by CraigMc (Member # 9104) on :
 
Just finished The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett. I enjoyed the setting and story. The end seemed a bit rushed and the closer I got the less I cared about the lead character. By the end of the book as I'm watching these two characters heading for romance I'm dreading them getting together as I think the girl in the story deserves better and so the romance just wasn't believable. Despite that I still enjoyed the book. I'm still trying to find a book that's as entertaining and interesting as Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson was for me.

[This message has been edited by CraigMc (edited June 17, 2010).]
 


Posted by Ethereon (Member # 9133) on :
 
I recently took "Northern stars : the anthology of Canadian science fiction" out of the library despite the somewhat silly sounding title and the moose in the cover art. It had some really excellent stories, which is not surprising since the editors were trying to put together a representative cross-section of the previous decade or two in Canadian SF (it was published in 1994, Tor).

I think Elisabeth Vonarburg is my new hero. Well, not exactly new; I realised that I had read the English translation of her novel Silent City when I was 11 or 12 (way too young for the content. I'm actually not sure how I got my hands on it) and loved it.

Now that I've rediscovered her I'm requesting everything my local library has of hers (in English). Too bad I can't read French!
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Just started SHARDS OF HONOR by Lois McMaster Bujold. I've read all her fantasy novels to date, so I decided to start in on the SF.
 
Posted by genevive42 (Member # 8714) on :
 
On audio, in the car, I'm reading Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams. It's a collection of intros, essays and articles they found on his computer after he passed. I have to admit, I didn't realize that it wasn't its own story and at the beginning I just wanted it to get going. Now that I understand, I'm very much enjoying his wit and the way he observes the world.

On paper I'm reading Flirt by Laurell K. Hamilton. I've read the rest of the Anita Blake series, through its ups and downs; the good first bits and then through the tough ones that had little story to speak of; and then later when we started to get the story back.

This is a shorter book, maybe even a novella. So far, it's not that good. It's not horrible but I find it to be very poorly edited. The language is weak and clumsy. There is one line of dialogue that, after reading it a dozen times, I have no clue what it means. The words just don't make sense together.

I know she has this and the Faerie series (which I can't read at all - it has all of the slowest bits that bogged down the Vampire Hunter series for awhile) and all sorts of other stuff going on, but come on. Is it just a money maker now and she doesn't care about quality? And where is the editor? A lot of the problems are line edits that should have been easily caught.

This might be the last book I pick up from her. There's been too much to slog through in the hopes of getting back to what I liked about the series in the first place and I don't think its ever going to happen.
 


Posted by genevive42 (Member # 8714) on :
 
I finished Flirt by Laurell K. Hamilton. It ended much better than it started. The editing problems mostly went away and the story got good; very appropriate for the character. So I'll guess I'll be continuing with the series, with my hope.
 
Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Finished DUST by Elizabeth Bear and recommend it. I wasn't 100% satisfied with the ending, though.

Read the 7th 39 Clues book (series for middle-grade readers written by different middle-grade authors.) Good, but nothing amazing. Liked this author's style. Find it interesting how each book is a little different based on authorial style, even though clearly they are following some "rules" (e.g., 3rd limited but roving POV, feels omni sometimes, certain plot details are known/clearly supposed to be revealed in particular titles, etc.)

Read THE MAGIC THIEF: FOUND - can't recommend this book highly enough. It's the third in a series, the author's name is Sarah Prineas. I just plain love Magic Thief, so much so that we are re-reading the original book on audio. These are middle-grade books about a boy and a different kind of magic system. The boy is plucky and determined, has a great voice. I love the way the author uses language to communicate what kind of person the mc is. Great book.

Currently reading THE RED PYRAMID by Rick Riordan, which is basically an offshoot of his Percy Jackson novels but featuring Egyptian gods/mythology. Interesting, but I do find the breakneck pace of this kind of book a little tiring after a while (very similar in pace to the 39 Clues books, so I'm feeling a little pacing burnout.)


 


Posted by dee_boncci (Member # 2733) on :
 
Recenty been reading some unusual stuff for me.

I finished "The Time Traveler's Wife", and was pleasantly surprised. Of course it is not hard core Sci-Fi, more of a light fantasy, but it kept me engaged. GOOD.

Also finished "The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo". This was one that had a quite good story line, but a combination of the translation and tendency to lean towards the tell-side of the show-vs-tell scale really sort of made the story feel flat much of the time. BETTER-THAN-AVERAGE

I got talked into readin the first of the Twilight Series, and despite my general disinterest in the romantic machinations of teenage girls, there was a lot to be said for Meyer's work. Deaspite a penchant for a bit of melodrama and occasionally explaining too much, the character of Bella is actually rather engaging. Quite well done for a first novel. GOOD.

To counteract Twilight I read Bram Stoker's "Dracula" in parallel with it. Similar to "The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo" there was a lot of narrative distance between the reader and the story (the story is presented as a series of journal entries). So I never felt immersed in the action. But, since it is the original vampire classic, RECOMMEND to anyone who hasn't read it yet and only knows vampires through literature of the last 20 years.
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Usual first-of-the-month posting...it would seem I haven't been reading that much this month, though I kept buying new books I have yet to get to. But here's four interesting titles.

The First War of Physics: The Secret History of the Atom Bomb 1939 - 1949, Jim Babbott. At first I thought I wouldn't like it, but by the second chapter it had sucked me in and held me. It tells the story of the making of the atomic bomb---not just the oft-told tale of the so-called "Manhattan Project," but what went on in Germany and Russia, too. Readable even if you're not up on the technical stuff.

7 Events That Made America America (And Proved That the Founding Fathers Were Right All Along), Larry Schweikart. Essentially a collection of seven historical essays. Whatever your political viewpoint, I think you'll find some impressive stuff here, particularly the chapter "A Steel Guitar Rocks the Iron Curtain," making the case that rock-and-roll brought down the Soviet Union.

10 Books Every Conservative Must Read (Plus Four Not to Miss and One Impostor. Benjamin Wiker, Ph. D. This is hit-or-miss, depending (again) on your politics---but I bring it up here because of its sections on Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged (the "imposter") and Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," particularly the latter---for one thing, it clarifies for me something I had thought about, that the movies truly botched the character of Aragorn.

You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Breakus, Peter Doggett. Oh, no, not another book about the Beatles...but this one concentrates on the contracts and the lawsuits and tax dodges and the legalese...and not on their music or their colorful personal lives. (Some of that is here in this book, too.) I, a Beatles freak, learned a lot reading it---the Beatles, after all, broke up on what another writer called "the time-honored field of contract dispute"---and there were some facts that were wholly new to me, as well as some where the truth had not been told. (As a matter of fact, all four Beatles swore things under oath that are demonstrably not true...)
 


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
Finished Sanderson's The Hero of Ages. I loved all the Mistborn books, but I founf the end far, too familiar. Halfway through Simon Scarrow's Under the Eagle. After that, I'm leaning toward Jay Lake's Mainspring. It's either that or KJA's Terra Incognita: The Map of All Things, which I was a bit part of.
 
Posted by andersonmcdonald (Member # 8641) on :
 
Listened to David Farland's The Sum of All Men, followed by Brotherhood of the Wolf. Enjoying the series so far. I'm in the middle of Gallow's Thief by Bernard Cornwell (paperback, liking it) and just started Under the Dome by Stephen King. Oh yeah, a few weeks ago I listened to and enjoyed the audiobook of Louis L'Amour's The Sackett Brand.
 
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Hmm, well. I recently finished CORDELIA'S HONOR by Lois McMaster Bujold. I hadn't read any of her science fiction. (CORDELIA'S HONOR is the omnibus edition containing SHARDS OF HONOR and BARRAYAR.) Do I really have to say anything about the Vorkosigan Saga? Of course RECOMMENDED.

Then, since my current WIP is a YA fantasy, I read THE BLUE SWORD by Robin McKinley. Took a little getting into. I don't really like her use of flashbacks. But the story was good, once I got into it, although I felt she summarized the end a little too much.

Now I'm reading SPINDLE'S END, also by Robin McKinley. Once again, it took some getting into. Past the 100 page-mark and I just now feel like the story is getting started. Everything else was set up.

What is interesting between the two is that each has a completely different voice, especially in the beginning. (Or maybe I just don't notice it as much once I get used to it.) You wouldn't think they were by the same author.
 


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
Decided to go with Jay Lake's Mainspring, and it's a nice change and an interesting world. Though, I think he'd have been battered by Hatrack critiques, it's moving along nicely.
 
Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Wow, it's been ten weeks or so since I posted in here... Since then, I've read only eight books. I must be slacking off.
Sundiver, David Brin. Enjoyable, but with reservations. Good/Not Impressed.
Warlord of the Air, Michael Moorcock. Loved the voice. Good.
Land Leviathan, Michael Moorcock. More of the same, lacking the novelty. Good/Not Impressed.
Steel Tsar, Michael Moorcock. More of the same, lacking the novelty. Good/Not Impressed.
A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley. Occasionally tedious, I wanted to like this much more than I did. Not Impressed.
The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd. Great voice, a bit of humour, fun characters. Recommended.
Carpet People, Terry Pratchett. A great idea, with a bit of Pratchett wit; a chance to witness the (revised) history of his writing too. Good.
The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand. Bodice ripping philosophy. My idea of good literature somehow: the story as rhetoric. I can't say I agree with all of it, but it's certainly been the most thought provoking book I've read all year. Recommended.

As usual, my reading is split across genres - 5 SF, 3 non.

[This message has been edited by BenM (edited July 22, 2010).]
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I thought it was "Warlord of the Air," not "...Sky"...but Moorcock has published revised editions so many times that the title might've changed, too.

Loved the first two when I was younger---I read them out of order, but that's the way I found them---but would I love them today, when alternate history is all over the place and I know so much of real history that it's hard to relate to something that didn't happen...
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
I'm finishing Robin McKinley's SPINDLE'S END. I've gotten this far and I'm going to finish it. But, meh. NOT RECOMMENDED.

Her use of flash back in this one is really annoying--and unnecessary. In THE BLUE SWORD, it was mostly part of the set-up for the premise and once the story got started, it stopped. Not in this one. It's all the way through and at some of the most inopportune times. Especially since she's flashing back to things that happened within the timeline of the story. She could just as easily have told it in the right order--and she should have.

Just the fact that I can put it down in the middle of the overly-long "climax"/showdown with the antagonist probably tells you everything you need to know.
 


Posted by MikeL (Member # 9138) on :
 
I am currently reading the Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Leguin. Working on The Farthest Sore.

Recommended, High Fantasy.

[This message has been edited by MikeL (edited July 22, 2010).]
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Quite right, Robert. I don't have the book in front of me but my Goodreads list says of the Air, so I guess I just transcribed it incorrectly.
 
Posted by rich (Member # 8140) on :
 
It pains me to say this 'cause he's an *******, but Dan Simmons's Black Hills is pretty good. Yeah, it's got his usual "I've researched the hell out of this and I'll point it out to you every single page and chance I get", but it's the best thing he's written in quite some time. There's a section between the main character and his future wife visiting the Chicago World Fair that's as good as anything I've ever read, and worth the price of admission alone. As a matter of fact, I'd even go so far as to say it's well worth picking up just for that section to see how effortlessly, and without any overt sentimentality or cliche, to see how to write two people falling in love. (Seriously. It physically pains me to say that as my opinion about the man himself is...let's just say that anything I say would be libelous.)

Don't buy it 'cause I don't want you giving the man any money. Just rent it from the library.
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Taking a break from the young adult fantasy, even though (or maybe because) that's what I'm currently writing. I just started MISTBORN. Yeah, I know, took me long enough to get around to it. Let's just say I needed to have a break from Sanderson, too, after ELANTRIS.

ELANTRIS actually was a good story, but some of the way he went about telling it frustrated the @&$% out of me.
 


Posted by andersonmcdonald (Member # 8641) on :
 
The what out of you???
 
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
quote:
The what out of you???

You can substitute almost any appropriate inappropriate word you like.
 


Posted by AmiraDay (Member # 9154) on :
 
Just finished Dave Eggers' : A heartbreaking work of staggering genius.

RECOMMENDED! It was funny, a little confusing, refreshing and had an unexpected ending.
 


Posted by Osiris (Member # 9196) on :
 
I just finished Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon. It was a respectable first novel that combines some detective noir elements with cyberpunk. Neuromancer it is not. I felt the writing was strong, but there was some gratuitous violence that really didn't do anything for the plot. There were some obvious allusions to current politics which I appreciated, but I did not appreciate the stereotypical villains in this sub-plot (which relate to the protagonist's back story). Overall I'd give it 3 out of 5 stars.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
It hasn't ben an active book-reading month for me. (I did read a lot of Internet Fan Fiction, some of which I was much taken with, but I won't inflict comments about that on you.) I'll confine myself to two books I've finished, and one I did not.

Two I finished:

Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century, Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger. The Liz-and-Dick saga was the stuff of tabloid headlines in my younger days...this books gives a good feel of what it was like to have been on the inside of the saga. Reading it was like visiting with old friends.

Helluva Town: The Story of New York City During World War II, Richard Goldstein. This is an episodic account of...well, you can get just what from the title. I enjoyed it...and found, on one page, something that gave me a revelation about something utterly different in the memoirs of Isaac Asimov. (Asimov is not mentioned in the text.)

And the one I didn't:

Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954 - 1965, Mark Moyar. This is a very dense and very important book---it is not for the casual reading I excel in. I still hope to finish it someday---and I recommend it to everyone. Essentially, much of what you know about the Vietnam War is wrong. (A "Volume 2" is promised---this book is several years old.)

Science fiction? Well, I bought some "collected works" books by Lester Del Rey and by Fritz Leiber..."visiting old friends," though some of the stories are brand new to me.

And, sometime in the next month, I fervently hope to pick up Volume One of a biography of Robert A. Heinlein.

[Somewhere a word dropped out, so I'm putting it in again now.]

[This message has been edited by Robert Nowall (edited August 03, 2010).]
 


Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
 
Over the Summer, I've been reading a lot of Philip K. Dick. If you haven't read anything by him and you enjoy having your mind blown, YOU HAVE TO PICK UP SOME PHILIP K. DICK. The man had a truly individual, creative mind; he came up with some crazy stuff that nobody else would ever come up with. Maybe it was the methamphetamines talking, but whatever it was, it gave us a bunch of truly original stories.

"The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch": RECOMMEND. The single most bizarre "I don't know what the heck is going on right now but my head is spinning and I love it" book I've ever read.

"Counter-Clock World": RECOMMEND. Took a concept that's been done a few times before (people age backwards, start old and get younger), and made it something completely new.

"Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep": RECOMMEND. Just when you thought this was just another "evil androids among us disguised as humans" story, BAM! We're going freaking metaphysical on you.

Anyway, he's carved out a pretty solid spot in my list of very favorite authors ever (which is nice, because he wrote a crapton on books). You want something crazy and bizarre that you won't experience anywhere else, pick up a Philip K. Dick novel.
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Kids and I have been delving way back into old fantasy lately with our audio book selections.

We've read the third, fourth, and are now listening to the fifth book from the Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander. They are excellent books. While it's also due to an excellent voice talent, the character voice of each character is so unique, I know how hard this is to do, so I stand in awe. Highly recommend.

We also listened to Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynn Jones. It, too, was excellent. Very interesting very weird story - lots of fun. Not your standard fantasy, though it feels a little "normalish" at the beginning, it goes in many different directions.

I tried to read And Another Thing, which is Eoin Colfer's extension of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe series. It's been ages since I've read Hitchhiker's Guide, but I remember at least a little forward plot momentum. This story is so bogged down in non-sequitors and tangents that I literally can't do it anymore. I'm moving on.

So as to demonstrate it's not personal to the author, I'm reading Artemis Fowl, which is Colfer's YA contemporary fantasy series. It's cute and it actually is moving, so so far so good.


 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I had hoped to be reading Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1 (1907-1948): Learning Curve this afternoon. Today was the official date of release...but the local Books-a-Million didn't have it, or didn't have it out.

They tend to be slow with the lesser new releases. Tomorrow I'm popping down to the local Barnes & Noble, which is better about that sort of thing...and if they don't have it, when I get home, I'll order a copy from Amazon-dot-com...
 


Posted by Osiris (Member # 9196) on :
 
I just started Terminal Worlds by Alastair Reynolds. So far so good, but I wouldn't say its his best work to date. Too early to judge honestly.

[This message has been edited by Osiris (edited August 17, 2010).]
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I did get a copy of Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1 (1907-1948): Learning Curve at Barnes & Noble this morning...so far (up through Heinlein's graduation from Annapolis) it makes interesting reading, though I've stumbled across what I think are a couple of minor inaccuracies.

I'm happy to find out what events in his life shaped the man who, as it happened, did so much through his literature to shape my life.
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I finished most of it, at the cost of a great deal of sleep before having to get up and go to work. Finished the rest of it before going to work...finished the footnotes this morning.

I liked it...it's a lot to digest, but I liked it.

One odd revelation. Early on, it mentions Heinlein making a visit to see the Liberty Bell as a child, when it was on tour and visiting Kansas City.

I would've thought that odd, maybe even wrong---I hadn't thought the Liberty Bell had left Philadelphia since Revolutionary days. But, even more oddly, I learned of these Liberty Bell travels for the first time not two hours before---by reading the jacket flap of a book about the Liberty Bell in Barnes & Noble, just after I picked up the copy of the Heinlein biography, but before I checked out. Odd coincidence...
 


Posted by rich (Member # 8140) on :
 
December 6, by Martin Cruz Smith.

Highly, highly recommended. Just before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Harry Niles (a protag that bears more than a passing resemblance to Greene's Harry Lime) tries to stay one step ahead of EVERYONE so he can get out of Tokyo before war actually starts.

I knew nothing about Tokyo except what I read in Wolverine comic books (which is really nothing), and Smith does an excellent job of detailing the mores and customs of pre-war Japan. A valuable read if you're interested in world-building. Plus it's just damn good.
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
I'm currently mired in Sanderson's THE WELL OF ASCENSION, making progress very slowly.

I enjoyed MISTBORN, but this one strikes me as several characters in search of a plot. There's not one driving conflict moving the story forward, just a bunch of little conflicts annoying the characters who are actually probably more than capable of dealing with them.

Maybe it's just the curse of the second book in a series. Very few of them live up to the first and many of them are just plain bad.

Looking forward to finishing and hoping HERO OF AGES is better. If I don't find a plot in that one pretty quickly, I'll probably just quit.
 


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
Was Not Impressed with Mainspring by Jay Lake. It drug on, was vague where it should have articulated, the end came out of nowhere, and it was a struggle to get through.

On to Alan Campbell's Scar Night, the first in his Deepgate Codex series. It's good, so far. Flows from omniscient to 3PL, but does so smoothly. It is reminiscent of Gaiman's work, with its dark atmosphere and antiheroes. Now, if I could find some time to read it.

 


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
 
Meredith, you don't think that being in siege, both from without and within are not driving conflicts? Without giving anything away, I must say there is a conflict growing--just subtly--that becomes huge at the book's end. The Well of Ascension is the natural progression from Mistborn/The Final Empire, and if you stick with it, I think you'll find it is a completely necessary book (not just a space-filler in a trilogy). By the end of The Hero of Ages, I think you'll find Brandon's treatment of the series was really brilliant. (I discovered how so, when I picked up Mistborn again, after finishing.)
 
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
IB:

I'm one of those annoying people that actually sneaks a peak at the ending. I know where this is going and I know what the conflict should be to support that ending for this book. It's not the seige.

No, in fact the seige of the three armies doesn't feel like a driving conflict. It feels pretty much like. . . well, like a seige. Long and drawn out with brief moments of excitement.

I don't dispute that this book may be necessary for the trilogy. But, like a couple of other middle books I can think of (the third in Lois McMaster Bujold's SHARING KNIFE series comes to mind), I'm reading more because I've come to care about the characters than because the story is pulling me forward.
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
My usual first-of-the-month update. I won't bore you with another recap of the Heinlein biography---I've read it cover-to-cover twice and skimmed through it repeatedly---other than to say that, if you're a true SF fan you should already have bought a copy.

Here's five other books I also read this month:

Selected Stories, Fritz Leiber. edited by Jonathan Strahan and Charles N. Brown. I mentioned it last month. Reading and rereading these stories was an enlightening experience, and a useful recommend to anyone who wants to know how it's done. I particularly recommend "A Pail of Air" and "The Girl With the Hungry Eyes." But read them all if you can get a copy---or if you have other Leiber books. (Charles N. Brown, longtime power behind Locus, died before the volume could come out.)

Colossus: Hoover Dam and the Making of the American Century, Michael Hiltzik. Delves more into the politics of Hoover Dam than any other volume I've seen---but doesn't neglect the details of construction, either.

The Fog of Gettysburg: The Myths and Mysteries of the Battle, Ken Allers, Jr. Of course there's a lot written about the Battle of Gettysburg---but a lot of "facts," stated as such, repeated from volume to volume, are utter nonsense. This volume disspells a lot of them.

The Flight of the Century: Charles Lindbergh and the Rise of American Aviation, Thomas Kessner. This account of the flight of the Spirit of St. Louis is maybe less compelling than some (say, for example, Lindbergh's own, or the account in A. Scott Berg's biography of Lindbergh a decade ago), but it's a good introduction, and adds detail to the events not present elsewhere.

Athwart History: Half a Century of Polemics, Animadversions, and Illuminations: A William F. Buckley Jr. Omnibus. A collection of Buckley's writings, mostly from his newspaper columns, and a large number not dealing with the politics of the period(s) in question. (Buckley died early in 2008, essentially at the beginning of the current period, depending on how you slice things.) Buckley was difficult to argue with, as his arguments nearly always rested on solid ground. I've found his essay on the Beatles and religion (included here) strongly influencing my own position on their activities and spirituality.
 


Posted by PB&Jenny (Member # 9200) on :
 
I just read David Weber's Off Armageddon Reef and am hooked. I've always loved this concept of the past teaching the future. It was a slow start for me but picked up about four chapters in. Then I couldn't put it down. I'm definitely picking up the sequel.

PB
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
A little oddity in my reading, an extra update here. Because of reading that Heinlein bio, I dug out one of my copies of Heinlein's Space Cadet and was skimming through it. (I would have thought I'd have it memorized by now, and I think I very nearly have.)

There's a scene involving how to maneuver in a spacesuit and jet. I don't know how it matches up against the real thing, more than sixty years later, but rereading it made me realize why some scenes in the Pixar movie Cars seemed so familiar to me---the "turn right to go left" scenes, if you know the movie. Offhand, it seemed kind of the same physics...
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
A while back, I mentioned my amusement at finding the phrase "weapons of mass destruction" in The Mouse on the Moon, publshed sometime in the 1950s.

Well, in rereading Heinlein's Space Cadet, a book first published in 1948, I ran across the phrase "mass-destruction weapons." Go figure.
 


Posted by Delli (Member # 9202) on :
 
Just read The Name of the Wind after being given it for my birthday. I loved the blurb on the back. However, it took me a long time to get into it. Not so sure I really liked his style of writing. For me - it didn't get really interesting until he got to the university (over 200 pages in!). After that, I really enjoyed it and was reluctant to put it down. So, I thought it was Good.
 
Posted by rich (Member # 8140) on :
 
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Recommended.

It's oftentimes clunky, but that may be because of the translation. However, as a story it's great. Again, not the most awe-inspiring of prose, and this'll never be confused with "literature", but if you're looking for a good mystery...

Which again reminds me that you don't have to be the best writer in the world to tell your story. Just tell your story, and if it's a good story, people will read it.

[This message has been edited by rich (edited September 15, 2010).]
 


Posted by Antinomy (Member # 5136) on :
 
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. Recommended.
Normally not a fan of Stephen King, too many of his pages are filled with rambling nonsense that his worshipers choose not to mention.
This novel is focused entirely on a nine-year-old girl lost and alone in the woods, trying to survive. King brings us into the woods with the girl and keeps the tension alive as she seeks a way out.

 
Posted by rich (Member # 8140) on :
 
So I'm reading The Girl Who Played with Fire, and I'm about 3/4 through it so I'll go ahead and recommend it.

The writing's a little stronger in this sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but it's still clunky. There's also a spot where the main character literally disappears from the story for 200 pages (it's over 700 pages total), but...though the main character isn't on the screen (so to speak) everyone talks about her and we find out more about her background.

I don't know that I'd try that stunt at home, but it works for this book. Also, I was surprised at my own reaction while reading it...turning pages because I had to find out what was happening. Credit to Stieg Larsson for tightening the screws and building the anticipation.

Story, story, story, story, and a solid, interesting main character, and you've got yourself a bestseller.
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
I am a bit past halfway through and I am officially GIVING UP on THE HERO OF AGES. I'm so bored with Elend and Vin fiddling around while the world burns around them I don't even want to read any more.

I'm really disappointed that Sanderson couldn't be content with a strong female character, too. No. Not good enough that Vin could do things no other mistborn could. Or that Elend was emotionally stronger AND emperor. No. Have to make Elend a stronger allomancer, too. Pfft.

And I'm tired of reading what should be Vin's story either filtered through Elend's POV or through Vin thinking about Elend when she should be trying to figure out what she needs to do as the Hero of the Ages.

I realized this afternoon that I only really care about two characters any more--Spook and TenSoon. That's not enough to keep me reading.

On to something lighter for a while.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited September 19, 2010).]
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Okay, I can finally list what I'm reading right now.

I had to remember to bring one book into the computer room--I needed the book to spell the title correctly.


So "Necropath" by Eric Brown.

I bought it because it sounded intriguing but about 80 percent through and it's not my favorite book. First it had a slow start, second it had a lot of info that the reader needed before it got to the main story.

Anyone want to guess what the title means? It took Brown at least half way through the book to explain.

Another reason I'm not crazy about it is because it's another one that deals with the dark side of humanity. I mean everyone is the story is poor-one character was a teen who was a street urchin and lived with a bunch of others. Another one is a hooker who worked out of a cheap bar. The main character seems more of a anti-hero who is very cynical and hides his past.

Next book is "In The Stormy Sky" By David Drake.

Part of the RCN or Lt. Leery series. Interesting universe Drake came up with, it's based on Roman society, I believe. Many of the plots are based, sometimes very loosely, I think, on real happenings in world history.

He is an excellent writer and engages me even when I'm not too sure about this society. I read these books too quickly and yet I'm not totally sure if I like one of the two main characters. Partly from her upbringing she is a bit fast on taking offense from someone below her ranking. The high ranking of her family that is, even though all of them but her are dead. And it gets a little tedious when she is always thinking about not minding if she died. She doesn't try to get killed but at the same she has to much emotional baggage to care that much either.

I need to finish "At All Costs" by David Weber. I think I know the logical ending and who may end up getting killed but I still need to find out.

Can't wait 'till I get to "An Artificial Night" by Seanan McGuire. Kinda dark UF series but still very good.

Dittos for "Face Off " by Mark Del Franco . Second one in a series and I was wondering if he was going to do the next one. He's got a different and a little strange web site and it's hard to tell when his next book is coming out.

And I got a long wait for "Changes" by Jim Butcher. Paperback version. But That is one I'm going to be reading way too quickly.

For a non fiction I'm reading "Liberty and Tyranny" By Mark Levin. Short and easy to read.



 


Posted by Delli (Member # 9202) on :
 
IN OUR TIME by Ernest Hemingway Highly Recommend

Love his style of writing. The imagery and emotion he is able to get across with his short, sharp sentences is amazing. So simple, so effective.

UGLIES by Scott Westerfield Not Impressed

Interesting concept behind it but boring. The actual story seemed to lack substance - won't be continuing with the rest of the series.

MAXIMUM RIDE: THE ANGEL EXPERIMENT by James Patterson Not Impressed

Again, interesting concept but the actual story didn't grab me - probably won't continue with the rest of the series.

[This message has been edited by Delli (edited September 24, 2010).]
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
quote:

Okay, I can finally list what I'm reading right now.


Forgot one.

"A Flash Of Hex" by Jes Battis

Second in a series that sounded interesting. Fey CSI.

Actually, I'm not sure if reading it is the right word though. As far as I can recall it's the first book I've put down because I didn't like the Main Character.

The dark universe Jes invented sounds very much like the one in Seanan McGuire's books. It's like they used the same model. But the MCs are completely different as are the plots.

I may finish it some day because the plot has me intrigued.

Of course with the way some writers use pen names these two could be the same person.
 


Posted by satate (Member # 8082) on :
 
I finished Mockingjay by Suzanne Collings. It's the third book of the Hunger Games Trilogy. I enjoyed but I felt the end was a bit of a let down. It felt hurried and I wanted to add just twenty more pages and really show the ending. Instead it felt rushed and told and like she just wanted to finish. Despite that I enjoyed the book. I give it a GOOD.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
My first-of-the-month posting, one day late---I had a lot on my plate yesterday and there just wasn't time.

Actually, it seemed like I didn't read much last month. Some rereading...just one book caught my interest, and my reaction to that one is, well, kind of odd.

Our Times: The Age of Elizabeth II, A. N. Wilson. This purports to be, essentially, a history of post-war Britain, roughly from the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II down to 2008. (I gather it was published in Britain first and has only now made it to America.) I'm interested...I've picked up bits of the history here and there and have always wanted to learn more. It proved an interesting read and held my interest to the end.

But here's the thing. Every time I ran across the writer's commentary on something I knew about---or thought I knew about---he's wrong. For instance, at the beginning of Chapter One there's a commentary on Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings, stating essentially, that the work was about "a world wrecked, gone forever, destroyed." That's not the message I took away from The Lord of the Rings, and I doubt very much that was its appeal to the millions who bought and read it.

It's hardly the only example. A discussion of the Beatles misses the point---and adds that the Rolling Stones were the Voice of Britain---without naming a single song as an example. A discussion of Germaine Greer and feminism states there are "forty-eight chromosomes"---the correct number is forty-six. The point of the space race and the American space program is grossly misstated.

Yet some of the other parts of the work are still interesting---but can I trust them?

This work is said to be the third of three volumes...I think, if I ever run across them, I'll give the others a pass.
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Just finishing up Gail Carriger's BLAMELESS. Like the others, a very fun read. I just wish the author was a little more rigorous; I keep catching little inconsistencies that pop me out of the story for a moment. They're annoying, especially because they would have been so easy to avoid.

Still, SOULLES, CHANGELESS, and BLAMELESS are all very fun reads when you want something not too serious.

Just imagine a character who would fit tolerably well in a Jane Austen story married to an oversexed werewolf.
 


Posted by SolomonSpecies (Member # 9254) on :
 
Darwinia-Robert Charles Wilson. It's a good read. Fast. Simple. Very interesting. I recommend.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

Just started this one. I have already read more than I wanted to.

If you like good writing check out "An Artificial Night" by Seanan McGuire. Its her third October Daye novel. And I need to double chec her web site but I think its her third book period.

It's a darker Urban Fantasy series about a female PI who is half fey. She sees both sides of the Fey world -there doesn't seem much of an in-between-which is why its dark. And the Fey world is completely hidden to humans. Most humans that is, every so often a fey will go after a human for love, lust-which is why there are so many half feys- or murder.


 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
It's been slow going lately in my to-be-read pile, largely because of the length of some of the works. I read two trilogies:
The Bromeliad by Terry Pratchett (Truckers, Diggers, Wings).
I read Truckers many years ago and enjoyed it thoroughly, however this time it (and the remainder of the series) didn't quite work as well for me. Perhaps it's just a case of evolving tastes, which would only go to prove how subjective this all is. Nevertheless there's some great ideas here along with Pratchett's usual wit, and it's an easy and quick read. Recommended.

Night's Dawn by Peter F Hamilton (The Reality Dysfunction, The Neutronium Alchemist, The Naked God).
These books are huge (1,200+ pages each of fairly dense text) and the first of Hamilton's work I've read. I picked them up because the first book's title caught my imagination, and got thoroughly sucked in by the huge scope, multiple plotlines, generally great characterisation and rather well developed future in this space opera. Nevertheless it's not without its issues, including some occasionally bizarre editing errors (though I'd not fancy line & grammar editing 3,600 pages of story either), some odd characterisation issues, a couple of silly plot holes and an ending which seemed overly simplistic and/or rushed (Ohnoes how am I going to end this thing? Zap! Done!). But (and this probably fits in well with Brendan's recent post about front-loading) I didn't really care - the journey was so much of a hoot that I couldn't stop reading it. Highly Recommended.
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Another month, another posting...once again, one day late 'cause of my busy life...I went away during the month, and did a lot of reading and bookbuying in the course of it, plus a lot before and after. I've still got a stack I haven't read---I've bought a lot of books I haven't gotten around to reading---but here are five I read, from the trip and from 'round here...

Duke Ellington's America, Harvey G. Cohen. Seems less a life of Ellington than an account of his business and music---interesting stuff, but, maybe, less than the biography it could have been.

In biographical contrast to that, there's---

Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney, Howard Sounes. This is a warts-and-all (and more warts) biography, covering personal affairs and pecadillos, and some business arrangements tossed in. It took me a while to get used to the 10-point Grotesque typeface this book was set in---wasn't a more readable type available that day?---and the subject matter is, you'd know if you've read my earlier posts, of great interest to me. I stuck with it.

Probably a more interesting biography than either of these is---

Al Jaffee's Mad Life: A Biography, Mary-Lou Weisman---illustrated by Al Jaffee himself. The bulk of the book deals with Jaffee's life before becoming a famous Mad Magazine cartoonist---bouncing around between the USA and Eastern Europe and the often-quite-crazy people Jaffee would interact with. Extremely, surprisingly, interesting.

Another bio, kind of, is---

Ulysses S. Grant: A Victor, Not a Butcher: The Military Genius of the Man Who Won the Civil War, Edward H. Bonekemper III. An older book, not seen before now in this tradepaper reprint. Not a thorough biography but a thorough analysis of Grant's Civil War campaigns and his ultimate victory over the Confederacy. Grant wasn't the butcher of popular Civil War mythology. (Also, I'd like to see a reconsideration of Grant's presidency, which, I've begun to think, wasn't the disaster historians portray it as.)

And one work of non-fiction that's not a biography---

Twilight at the World of Tomorrow: Genius, Madness, Murder, and the 1939 World's Fair on the Brink of War, James Mauro. The central story in this covers a side of the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair I had never heard of before, despite reading several other accounts---a bomb planted at one pavilion, which had tragic consequences. Even the other stuff had information wholly new to me. I'd recommend this over any other account.

Anything else? Well, I read a pile of stuff besides, but these seemed the most important. Any fiction? I looked for a couple of titles (without finding them---I don't think they're out yet), and I reread some old Dorothy L. Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey books (and watched DVD dramatizations of several more), but...no, not really.

(edited to correct italicism---always a problem with these super-long posts)

[This message has been edited by Robert Nowall (edited November 02, 2010).]
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Interesting, BenM, I *hated* Reality Dysfunction. Too much sexual violence, really really pushed my anti-buttons.

I just finished a new book, The Magnificent 12: The Call. it's by Michael Grant, the writer of the YA series that starts with GONE. It's really really good, for a middle-grade book (grades 3-8, in general.) It reads a little younger, main character is 12, would definitely appeal to boys, has a lot of humor, plenty of action. The scary stuff is played in such a way that it's not too scary. My 9 year old son read it in maybe 2 days and loved it. I was surprised at how good the humor was (reminded me of ARTEMIS FOWL, but funnier and way better.) Good stuff.

Also recently read THE WARRIOR HEIR - which was good. I found it a little obvious, and there were cases of author withholding that bugged me (the main character spends much of the story clueless about things that are happening to and around him, that sort of thing annoys me.) It wasn't my favorite YA book ever, but the pace was good and the author has dreamed up a decent magic system. Little scattered storytelling, though - there are some points of view the story is told from that are earlier in time and it was hard to see how they connected, IMHO. Mag 12 was way better, but mid-grade versus YA. Both should have strong appeal to boys, though.

We're also reading THE ALCHEMIST on audiobook, which is thus far very good, but another case where there's all kinds of things happening to and around the main characters and they are clueless. Come to think of it, this is a somewhat standard thing in YA and mid-grade, but it bugs me a bit. Interesting magic system, and so far so good on the story.


 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Interesting, BenM, I *hated* Reality Dysfunction. Too much sexual violence, really really pushed my anti-buttons.

Yes, it was pretty disturbing; I have to admit I tend to skim over things that annoy me in books and then forget about them. I stopped reading the book briefly and found (somewhere) a review that explained how he later tied this issue into his theme, which made it a little more academically interesting. But it was possibly done a little clumsily - a lot of reviews on goodreads rated The Reality Dysfunction quite poorly.
 


Posted by rich (Member # 8140) on :
 
I normally don't do this as I'm not done reading it, but Peter Straub's, A Dark Matter, is shockingly bad. I don't think any author has it in him/her to hit a home run everytime at bat, but this is just not good. The lyrical and literary quality appears to be gone; like it's written by someone who's trying to write like Straub. And the typos...seriously, it's ridiculous to see them in a book by a good writer.

By the way, I bought this at our airport's used bookstore. I think every airport should have a used bookstore. Unfortunately, the prices are evidenced by the fact that it's located in an airport. The paperbacks are all $4.50(!) no matter what the original cover price was.

[This message has been edited by rich (edited November 06, 2010).]
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
In the days when I worked in a bookstore, it was half-price for sale, quarter-price for store credit, plus a dollar minimum for the trouble we went through...
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I m now reading "Face Off" the second story in a series by Mark Del Franco, who has other series set in the same universe with four books. Seems like more though.

I said the same universe but each series has different characters in different cities. But I'm not sure if its the same time period. Would be close.

This series is kinda weird but not in the usual way. The MC is a woman with two, some times more, identities. It gets a little confusing even though its First person, to see who the real one is. Actually she has the same problem at times. Maybe neither is the real her. One uses her real name but the other one seems to be the real her. She is an Intelligence Officer for an outfit that seems to be something that is both CIA and FBI, but she is also a PR-adviser for a very important person. Sometimes she almost hints that she is really working for someone else. Herself maybe. I don't know if that is done on purpose by the writer or something I see that isn't meant to be there.

The writer keeps everything straight, he is good at writing, the adventure is interesting and I find the book hard to put down at times.

Oh, I sometimes suspect that she is a certain character in the other series. Names are different, and the action takes place in another city but there are similarities.
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Just started WILD SEED by Octavia Butler.

Before that I read SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater (YA).

I'm also reading THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE by Lois McMaster Bujold (First of the "Miles" stories in the Vorkosigan saga).
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Meredith - did you like Shiver? It was recommended to me, but when I picked it up at the kids' school book fair this week (they run it through an indy book store in the area) and it seemed pretty heavy on the romance. Any thoughts on that?


 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
quote:
Meredith - did you like Shiver? It was recommended to me, but when I picked it up at the kids' school book fair this week (they run it through an indy book store in the area) and it seemed pretty heavy on the romance. Any thoughts on that?

I would call it YA paranormal romance. Probably three quarters of the book is about Grace and Sam and their relationship. It's a cute love story, but definitely a love story. Then again, a lot of YA has a healthy dose of romance.

It's still pretty good. An interesting take on werewolves. Well-drawn, believable characters. I like that Sam constantly writes poetry/lyrics in his head and Grace doesn't get poetry at all.

I think I may get the sequel from the library, though, when I'm ready for it. I'm not sure it's permanent shelf material.

Oh, and whoever decided to print the blasted thing in navy blue ink should be shot. Personal opinion.
 


Posted by rich (Member # 8140) on :
 
I just read Holes. Pretty good.

I'm now reading Anthony Bourdain's, Medium Raw, and his chapter on hamburger is MUST reading. I mean, if you like hamburgers.
 


Posted by genevive42 (Member # 8714) on :
 
I just finished "Wind-up Girl" by Paolo Bacigalupi. It's a long one, and the first third is a bit slow, but with good reason. It's one of those stories where you really need to understand the world, and the characters' place in it, so that when the big events start to happen, you care about them. And once things start happening, it's a breakneck pace to the end. And you can't predict what's going to happen.

This is a very satisfying book. I can see why it won awards. It shows a true mastery of plot.

There are a few places where it gets particularly dark and harsh, but it was well within the needs of the story. I highly recommend it as long as you're not squeamish.
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Recently finished two books; reading has slowed down a bit due to a mix-up with my online orders.

Spin, by Robert Charles Wilson. While I liked some of the SF elements in this book, and I can perhaps see why it won a Hugo award, I wholeheartedly disliked it due to its oppressive air of negativity. The main character is gripped by ennui, and tells us the story in first person (so it infects the whole narrative), the events of the present are hidden from us by a book load of back story for what felt like a cheap reveal at the end, and the overarching SFnal element seems to be the "lesson" that mankind is too inept to solve its problems so must have them solved by someone else. I could be a whole lot more scathing but instead will just say I wanted to like it much more than I did. Not Impressed

Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones. Light, enjoyable middle grade fare. I don't read a lot of YA & middle grade, but I really enjoyed this for what it is. Similar enough to the movie that I'd visualise the scenes along those lines, but different enough that I wasn't wholly sure where it was going. Recommended
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
quote:
Meredith - did you like Shiver? It was recommended to me, but when I picked it up at the kids' school book fair this week (they run it through an indy book store in the area) and it seemed pretty heavy on the romance. Any thoughts on that?

Just wanted to add: I took a look at the sequel, LINGER, in Borders today. It's printed in Green! No way. I value my eyesight more than that. What are they going to use for the third book? Red? Purple? Yech.
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
quote:
Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones. Light, enjoyable middle grade fare. I don't read a lot of YA & middle grade, but I really enjoyed this for what it is. Similar enough to the movie that I'd visualise the scenes along those lines, but different enough that I wasn't wholly sure where it was going. Recommended

Kids and I did the audiobook of this recently, and it was just flat out excellent. One of the best we've listened to. We didn't realize it had been made into a movie, so we were excited to get it from Netflix. My son has taken to acting like turniphead, jumping around like a scarecrow. We even dabbled with the idea of him dressing like that for Halloween, but non-crafty mother and the fact that nobody would know who he was (or think, gasp, he was just a plain scarecrow) nixed the idea.

We just finished THE ALCHEMYST - by I think Michael Scott, YA due to age of characters (15) but concepts and level of content were very appropriate for my crew (7&9 and very advanced readers.) We did the audiobook, which is read by a voice talent who is very good with different accents, impressive, actually. The story was interesting, concept of Nicholas Flammel (ala Harry Potter world) but set in present day with its own magic system, history, and lore. Recommend.

I also finished reading THE LOST HERO, another mid-grade by Rick Riordan, set in same world as Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. It was excellent. Better, in my opinion, than RED PYRAMID, which was narrated by two siblings, alternating first person POV that weren't very well differentiated. In LOST HERO, he switches between three POVs, usually 2 chapters each. The pace is fast, the action high, the characters believable. Each ends up with talents you didn't anticipate, things that they previously had considered a liability turning out to be an asset, that sort of thing. The characters were very well differentiated, and he played with both Greek and Roman mythology, introducing some new bad guys like the wind gods and King Midas. Really good, highly recommend for any fans of the Percy Jackson series. I think it would be completely readable even if you hadn't read that other series, though, so I recommend for anyone because it's paced well, good amount of humor, etc. (One of the things that bugged me most about the Lightning Thief movie was the fact that they seemed to have scripted out a lot of the humor, it was a huge bummer to me.)


 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Good to know. I just picked up HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE for my To-Read pile. I'll have to move it to the top.

I gave up on WILD SEED. I just couldn't really muster a lot of interest in either character.

Started the first RUNELORDS book, instead.
 


Posted by genevive42 (Member # 8714) on :
 
Meredith, you didn't like Wild Seed? I read it about six months ago and loved it. Maybe consider giving it a little more time. I can see how it might seem difficult to get into the characters, they come off a little stark at the beginning. Also, since much of it is told from Doro's pov and he's not terribly likable, it's tough. But it's the uniqueness of the way they are both drawn to and repelled by each other that makes for a very interesting dynamic. I think by the end you'll care about them.

I know everyone's different, but this book really grabbed me - changed the way I looked at my own writing. I hope you'll give it another chance because I truly believe there is something worthwhile there.

Oh, and Warrior's Apprentice is great! So is Vor Game. But I have a feeling that whole series is going to get a thumbs up from me.

I've started Stephen King's, Gunslinger, based on some HAtrack recommendations. It the first King I've read. I can't say that I find it terribly gripping. I do audio books and if there's even a little traffic, the narrative, which has so much description, gets stifled. Mind you, I read Crime and Punishment and Wind-Up Girl this way, both heavy books, as well as a score of others, and not had this issue. But it's only another six hours. I can wait to see if it picks up.


 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
quote:
Meredith, you didn't like Wild Seed? I read it about six months ago and loved it. Maybe consider giving it a little more time. I can see how it might seem difficult to get into the characters, they come off a little stark at the beginning. Also, since much of it is told from Doro's pov and he's not terribly likable, it's tough. But it's the uniqueness of the way they are both drawn to and repelled by each other that makes for a very interesting dynamic. I think by the end you'll care about them.

The premise kept me going for the first 100 pages. After that, I found I just really wasn't that interested in what happened to these characters. The conflict wasn't big enough to keep me turning the pages.

I think reading so much YA recently, since it seems that may be what I write, has had a deleterious effect on my patience with slow starts. Said patience was nearly non-existent anyway.

Maybe I'll try it again, later.

quote:
Oh, and Warrior's Apprentice is great! So is Vor Game. But I have a feeling that whole series is going to get a thumbs up from me.

Yeah, THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE has me laughing half the time as poor Miles just keeps dancing faster trying to keep all the balls in the air and the balls just keep multiplying. I have the omnibus edition, YOUNG MILES, so it goes on to "Mountains of Mourning" and then THE VOR GAME.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited November 23, 2010).]
 


Posted by genevive42 (Member # 8714) on :
 
If you gave it a hundred pages and still didn't like it, that's more than enough. I guess it's just not your thing. That's why there are so many different books.
 
Posted by rich (Member # 8140) on :
 
Reading Steve Martin's, Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life. Very surprised at well he writes, and it's a great read. Recommended if you're starting in any kind of creative field.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
quote:

Yeah, THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE has me laughing half the time as poor Miles just keeps dancing faster trying to keep all the balls in the air and the balls just keep multiplying. I have the omnibus edition, YOUNG MILES, so it goes on to "Mountains of Mourning" and then THE VOR GAME.

I read two of the Miles books years ago so noticed "The Warrior's Apprentice" even though I wad surprised by that title. Maybe I will keep it in mind for the future.
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
quote:

I read two of the Miles books years ago so noticed "The Warrior's Apprentice" even though I wad surprised by that title. Maybe I will keep it in mind for the future.

According to the author's chronology of the stories, THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE is the first of the Miles books, coming after the two books about Miles' parents: SHARDS OF HONOR and BARRAYAR.

THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE is Miles at 17. Along with his father and the Council of Counts, I shudder to think what Miles will be capable of when he's a little older. Guess I'll find out in THE VOR GAME.


 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
quote:

According to the author's chronology of the stories, THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE is the first of the Miles books, coming after the two books about Miles' parents: SHARDS OF HONOR and BARRAYAR.

Could be I'm confusing him with someone else who has been around for years. He's been a diplomate and a James Bond type of spy. The books are written in a humorous manner. I thought the "Warrior's Apprentice" was about his start, his first adventure.


Kinda, sort of reminds of the Stainless Steel Rat. Loved those books, well the last couple got into some off beat adventures with slimy aliens but the whole idea was still great. I thought about trying my hand at a similar character.

 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I was going to include this with my first post about the Apprentice but got distracted when my wife wanted to trim under my beard.

Anyway, I would have to place that book on my list though. I already have eight-ten books to read. Nine and Ten are two Flinx books I need to read some day, including the last one in the series. I hope Flinx doesn't become some cosmic power cloud or some such.

Two are calling me so I may read them out of order. One is the latest Glen Cook Garrett series. A combo fantasy and Gumshoe series. I must say though that the artist blew it badly on the cover of first book. The Dwarves were packing machine guns. Thur ain't any in the book--too far back in tech.

And the second book is the last in a trilogy, I love the first two but I'm afraid something is going to happen to the hero in this last one. He's fighting his self from another dimension.

Oh, speaking of Alan Dean Foster and the Flinx books. In the last one he-Foster not Flinx- does something writers are not suppose to do. The bad guys have some very hight tech they got from somewhere, not really explained. Flinx's ship was specially made for him, by a group of aliens no one but him knows can do things like build space ships. It has security and abilities above that of the average space ship but these guys found it and boarded it easily. All they said was they had higher tech, no devices were shown, no other explanation given. I must say that I felt a little cheated.
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
quote:
Could be I'm confusing him with someone else who has been around for years. He's been a diplomate and a James Bond type of spy. The books are written in a humorous manner. I thought the "Warrior's Apprentice" was about his start, his first adventure.

I think you've got the right series. At 17, Miles hasn't quite worked up to diplomacy, yet. Just his own, very illegal, mercenary fleet. (Under an assumed name.)
 


Posted by DRaney on :
 
Just finished the CJ Cherryh series~ 'The Morgaine Saga' (loved it! recommend),

Moving on to R Ludlum~ 'The Bourne Supremacy' (re-read after 20 years),

Gave up halfway through K Follett~ 'The Man From St. Petersburg' (not impressed)

Recently finished J Butcher's 'Dresden Files ~ Changes' (read the whole series... highly recommend this to everyone.)

Has anyone read any Octavia Bulter beyond 'Wild Seed'? I enjoyed that one, but I can relate to Meredith's comments about the 1st hundred pages.

Thinking about re-reading some of my old and recently unboxed RA Salvatore books such as 'Demon Wars' through 'Mortalis'.

[This message has been edited by DRaney (edited November 29, 2010).]
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Back for my usual first-of-the-month posting of what I read. I did read a fair amount of stuff, but I also cleaned in connection with Thanksgiving, and may be overlooking something that's now stacked deep with my piles of books and out of reach and thought.

But two books do stand out:

Frank: The Voice, James Kaplan. This is a biography of Frank Sinatra, the first really serious one, maybe. (A lot of what went before were tell-alls, reminiscensces by friends and family, or things that dealt with one aspect or another of the Sinatra life and mythology.)

Though I have a couple of beefs, like that it's the first of a two-volume set (and I know of lots of sets where the second volume never surfaced)...and also that there's a good deal of "should have been," or "must have" in the comments (if something is supported by evidence, it wouldn't be referred to in that way---and if it isn't, it shouldn't be there)...I'll still recommend it to all.

Sinatra is not one of my favorite celebrities---he struck me, when I was a kid, as an arrogant jackass---but he was an artist of great talent and he led an interesting life. This book lays it out---or, at least, it lays out part of it.

Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King Jr. and The International Hunt for His Assassin, Hampton Sides. This one turned up while cleaning---I'd had it awhile and read it just before Thanksgiving---and was sorry I hadn't read it sooner.

This tells an extremely interesting story---some of which I'd heard before, others of which were new to me---and tells it in an interesting way. It does have the rather odd habit of referring to the assassin by the name he happened to be using at any particular time along the way---but his identity, or guilt, is not in doubt here.

I'll recommend this as a good model for a non-fiction book.

*****

Another thing that I didn't read, but watched, was the 1927 movie Metropolis---I'll bring it up here because it's of some importance to the history of movie making, as well as having a profound influence on science fiction writing as well as science fiction film-making.

This version is a recently-restored print---some long-missing footage turned up in Buenos Aires recently, though, maddeningly, some scenes are still missing. There's a new score, adapted from the original score at the 1927 premiere. If you've only seen earlier versions (say, the "disco" version put out by Giorgio Moroder in the 1980s), you really haven't seen it---it's beautifully photographed, all the more so in this version (though some restored scenes are heavily scratched-up) and makes more sense plotwise than the truncated versions.

The movie was the pioneer of SF filmmaking---the futuristic citiscapes, the mad scientists, the robots, the underclass-and-overclass struggle---and a lot of it also spilled out into the written form of SF (a lot of big-time stories use almost the same plot and a lot of the themes).

I taped it (actually, DVD-R'd it) off Turner Classic Movies when they premiered it for broadcast in America...I've been looking for the DVD or Blu-Ray of it, which ought to be even better...probably if I don't find it locally, I'll buy it somewhere offline.

In any case, look for this version---accept no substitutes.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I'm reading "Wizard Squared" by K. E. Mills.

I think I mentioned it before. It's the third and last book in this series- I haven't seen much less read a trilogy in years-and I was and still am afraid of what is going to happen to the MC when he has to fight his evil "twin". It is the last book after all.

His "twin" has him in his power now. Of course the" twin" doesn't know what the original Gerard has learned but he also has some people he can hold hostage. Oops, didn't think of that in the beginning.

And I think Metropolis is on DVD. I saw in listed in my paper last week. And a month or three ago I heard about those scenes being found. I don't think I've ever seen the whole thing, even what they had and I've thought about watching it.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited December 05, 2010).]
 


Posted by rich (Member # 8140) on :
 
Stephen King's latest, Full Dark, No Stars, is the best King I've read in quite awhile. The novella, "Fair Extension", is the best of the four in the book. Tells the story of a man doing a deal with the devil. Goes to show what a someone with some talent and craft can do with a cliched concept.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
quote:

And I think Metropolis is on DVD.

I saw a new DVD listed today for "Dark Metropolis". I have no idea if it is related, something new or another oldie
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

For a book I'm not sure I want to read I'm going through "Wizard Squared" way too fast.


The problem is the writing. Mills is too good. I think it's her first three books but I need to double check about that...need to check out her web site but if it is wow. She might be one of the better writers I've read in the last six months, maybe 12.
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
With "Metropolis" you've got to do your research. The version I'm in the market for is the 1927 silent / 2010 restored version. Just by the title, you might find that---or you might find this Japanimation movie said to be "inspired" by the 1927 silent.

Even if it is the movie in question, again, there are competing versions. There's the short version that's circulated in English for years (something of a botch cut-up---one character's name is misspelled in the titles). There are variants of that one all over the place. Then there's the 1980-something Giorgio Moroder "disco" version. There's the 2000 or so restored version, where missing scenes (some present in the 2010 restoration) are indicated with titles and blank spaces.

But I know this one is, or is about to be, out on DVD---in the commentary around this new restored version, they said it was. If I don't find it locally before then, I'll probably wait till the holidays die down to send for it.
 


Posted by Osiris (Member # 9196) on :
 
I'm reading Camouflage by Joe Haldeman. I just found out he runs a writing class out of MIT, since I work near MIT I'd really love to find out if I can get into it.

I'm also reading Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lyn Truss
Who thought a book on punctuation could be so entertaining?
 


Posted by sojoyful (Member # 2997) on :
 
I'm about a third of the way through The Passage by Justin Cronin. It's science fiction that didn't want to admit it, so it was marketed as a thriller and is found in the general fiction section. Think The Stand meets I Am Legend meets Reign of Fire.

The first 200 pages felt slow to me, because I'm one of those people that doesn't care what color people's hair is, and Cronin does a lot of characterization by description. However, it isn't a bad thing. He tells a lot about the characters' backgrounds, so you get to know them very well, albeit through their stories rather than their actions. It isn't my preference, but it still works. After about 200 pages, however, the pace picks up more. I can't wait to keep reading!
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

I recently started David Weber's "Worlds Of Weber" a "short" story anthology.

I have the word short in quotations because his interpretation of the word short is not always the same as what most people think of short. He stated that his wife and someone else had a chuckle over it.

Anyway, his first story actually is short. It reminds me of older stories written probably before he wrote his first real story-novel. But I also thinks it breaks some of what is today considered rules of writing. I kinda winced at some of what he wrote. Not that that made it bad just not how stories are generally written today.

The second story in the anthology is long. I love Weber's writing. Not only is it good but you cam learn stuff. Like did you know there were "timberclads" during the civil war? Now I will have to look it up because I'm not sure if that term references the normal ships or as it sounds they were a special design.


 


Posted by redux (Member # 9277) on :
 
I just finished reading MATCHED by Ally Condie.

I think I am done with YA fiction for a while and on the look out for something else to read.
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
So, um. I guess that means you didn't like MATCHED?
 
Posted by redux (Member # 9277) on :
 
quote:
So, um. I guess that means you didn't like MATCHED?

Reading my comment again I realize it comes across rather peevish. That was not my intention. While I didn't particularly like MATCHED, the book itself did not turn me off of YA. MATCHED simply comes at the end of a mini-YA marathon for me: THE CHRONICLES OF PRYDAIN (all 5 books), THE GOOSE GIRL, GRACELING, ALANNA (The First Adventure),and THE BLUE SWORD.


Of all those, McKinley's THE BLUE SWORD was my favorite. Lloyd's books came in a close second - I found Taran to be a wonderful character and enjoyed watching him grow throughout the series. I had read Pierce's ALANNA years ago when I was in middle school and decided to re-read it as an adult. I still enjoyed it after all those years. I personally found GRACELING and MATCHED somewhat slow moving and didn't find the protagonists particularly interesting. I did enjoy Shannon Hale's THE GOOSE GIRL, it was a well-written and charming fairytale retelling.

So, that is why I think I am done with MG/YA - 10 books in a row with protagonists under 18 was quite the banquet.

 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Ah, redux, you read almost all of my all-time favorites in YA/MG fantasy (Goose Girl, Prydain, Blue Sword <--also my favorite of them all.)

I almost exclusively read YA/MG, but I do go on benders on certain authors sometimes, and then find I need a break.

Right now my kids and I are busy trying to read/listen to everything Diana Wynn Jones has ever written, it's taking a while! But it's an enjoyable ride (I'm on book four in Chrestomanci Chronicles, EXCELLENT. The Lives of Christopher Chant is this one. We are listening to the follow-up to Howl's Moving Castle, called The House of Many Ways, also excellent. The voice talent is superb.)


 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

I mentioned that I was reading "Worlds Of Weber", and that I was learning something.

One story might have been more historical fiction than SF except for the fact that in it Captain John Paul Jones fought for the English against America. I should have suspected something when he was introduced as Captain Sir John Paul Jones. But in the story he picks up some Intelligence data by accident which allows him to attack a French fleet sent to help America. During that battle he tells the French Commander "I have not yet begun to fight".



 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Finished Bujold's YOUNG MILES (THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE, "The Mountains of Mourning", and "THE VOR GAME"). As always, I love what she writes. Miles is too much fun, getting into more trouble than he can handle and then finding a way to handle it.
So, I went straight on to MILES, MYSTERY AND MAYHEM (CETAGANDA, ETHAN OF ATHOS, and "Labrynth")
I also finished Neil Gaiman's THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, which was okay, but not great. And I'm starting Anne McCaffrey's and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough's CATALYST.
 
Posted by lostdog (Member # 9343) on :
 
1.Cloud Atlas about half way through - I'll comment back here after I finish.

2.Finished Cloud Atlas and have to say I found it painful.

The writer can turn a pretty phrase, absolutely. But the book is hard to read, harder to stay connected to. It stops abruptly after each character, jolting into six different characters. Each one is harder to get into than the last, climaxing with one that is so long and so in its own thick, dialect that it is almost unendurable. The story/book then returns to each character in reverse order, jolting the reader back to finish their tales. However it fails to answer many questions and again goes into dull detailed accounts that hover. Each, as well as the whole of the character arcs together, offers no resolution that ties up these stories satisfactorily.

This book was recommended by several intellectual writers, but I found it depressing in message, nihilistic, preachily postmodern, and existentialist.

For all the praises it seems to have garnished, its message is that there is no point, no lasting joy: a very defeatalist work.

I personally prefer to be inspired, which is one of the things I love the most about great sci fi and fiction.

I set this book in the recycling bin gently, wondering at such a skilled writer with such a case of depression, not wanting to kick him. (He has a right, of course and I would not deny him that, to write what and as he wishes.) But also, not wanting to be infected by his malaise.

[This message has been edited by lostdog (edited December 20, 2010).]
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
I bogged down in CLOUD ATLAS, so I need to get back to it and finish it sometime.

Just finished reading CORONETS AND STEEL by Sherwood Smith, author of INDA (which OSC has praised, and which I haven't read, yet, but intend to). CORONETS AND STEEL is a modern version of a "Ruritanian Romance" and it's quite fun. Very light touch of fantasy--so light, it almost doesn't qualify as fantasy--and plenty of excitement, adventure, intrigue, and so on.
 


Posted by lostdog (Member # 9343) on :
 
I read Stardust by Neil Gaiman and Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card over the last week.

LOVED. BOTH.

Stardust starts out with a lot of telling, to be specific fairytale story telling. But it works beautifully, I think, to set up the enchanting tale that follows. I loved it. I am curious what others, who have read this book, thought, especially about the opening telling.
Although it is rather old world, I grew up loving the voice of a fairytale narrator, and still do.

Ender's Game goes to a war-setting that I am usually not big on, but the main character is so compelling and the writing so polished, I was in. The author had me at hello, as they say. And I was completely satisfied with this read.

[This message has been edited by lostdog (edited December 29, 2010).]
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Recently finished Diana Wynn Jones' HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE. Loved it.

Just about to finish Lois McMaster Bujold's CETAGANDA. More great fun with Miles Vorkosigan getting himself into and then out of situations that require his particular blend of genius and improvisation.

Starting Robin McKinley's PEGASUS. Too soon to tell.
 


Posted by Foste (Member # 8892) on :
 
I am reading HUNGER GAMES. Love the fast pacing.

It starts off promising enough. I've yet to hit the violent parts.

It reminds me of BATTLE ROYALE by Koshun Takami. I am rather excited to see how they compare and what Collins is going to do differently (since some things are fairly similar).

[This message has been edited by Foste (edited December 29, 2010).]
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

Right now I'm reading two books. I started the second because I was reading the first one too fast.

Glen Cook's "Gilded Latten Bones" the latest in his Garrett series.

Two things about it. One is that its starts with very short chapters, one to two pages long. I don't recall him doing that with the previous Garrett books. In this case it made it a little hard to get into it with all the breaks. But after awhile the chapters got a few pages longer and it appeared to be the same old writing that drew me to his Garrett books.

I said appeared because of the second thing. With those short chapters it didn't feel like Cook's writing. That could be because of the short chapters or because it isn't his writing. This is just a suspicion but a few months ago a long time pro writer who has ghost written a number of novels, said he had just finished a fantasy for a pro writer. No names and no hints besides that it was fantasy. And I think this pro has used short chapters before. He is suppose to be very good at sounding or writing like other writers.

Shoulder shrug, I will more than likely never know but I will keep reading it and will enjoy it. Even if I was to ask the pro he wouldn't tell me that I guessed right and probably would refuse to even say I was wrong if I am.

Second book. Is "Brooklyn Knight" by C.J. Henderson. Besides the fact the there's another C.J. out there this guy-gal seems to be new. Mike Resnick likes him as does William Shatner. But I'm not too sure. The writing feels more like its for YA or even younger. He seems to break some writing rules that makes me wonder how he got published. Of course part of that might be that he has disproved one of the writing rules I always say. Start with short sentences. This guys' first sentence is four lines long. Of course that is a sort of pre prologue but the main books starts with a rather long one too. Its part dialoque though. And the writer takes a while to get into the story, there's a lot of socializing and a tour of New York city first. Of course long time pros have done openings like that too, so that might be okay. I will finish it because its not that bad. If I'm right about the bad writing, the mistakes aren't that glaring. I may not have noticed if I hadn't been working on some of the same type of things.


 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Just my usual first of the month reading dump.

One note: I'm starting to grow amazed at how much information I've absorbed, and how much I read in a book is already known to me. Does it add to the depth of a work? Yes, conditionally, but it's getting harder to find surprise in non-fiction...

Dupes: How American's Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century, Paul Kegnor. Actually, there's little that's new to me here---mostly a matter of fine details and cited sources---but it's nice to have it all laid out in order.

Efrem Zimbalist: A Life, Roy Malan. No, not the guy from 77 Sunset Strip, that was his son---this one was a famous violinist (and the father of that one). It's a couple of years old but I spotted a copy the other week. In this case (unlike the above), I'm a little surprised by what I actually knew about the classical music world, and what was familiar to me---but also surpised at how little I knew about Zimbalist himself, particularly how long he lived and when he died. (This volume was written by an adoring student, though, and a more thorough bio may come someday. I'll make do with this.)

The Invisible Harry Gold: The Man Who Gave the Soviets the Atom Bomb. The spy business is equal parts danger and dullness---real-life spies, like Harry Gold, are seldom as interesting as the likes of James Bond. This tells the story of a man who, well, like the subtitle says, gave the Soviets the A-Bomb (or at least the info needed to build one). Interesting account---evidently, when Gold decided to come clean, he told everything---but Gold's motivation still puzzles me. (Also, what I know already comes into play, not just about the A-Bomb or the Manhattan Project, or leftist spying---but a man mentioned on one page plays a prominent role in several chapters of Asimov's autobiography.)

The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy, Bill Carter. Some of you may remember a book (and cable movie) called The Late Shift, by this same writer. This is the inevitable sequel, the (largely) inside story of what happened and where it all went horribly wrong. One of those sequels that's even better than the first one. (It'd be hard not to know some of this stuff---it played out in headlines while it was going on.)

*****

I spent some time watching the movie Despicable Me. It's no Pixar product, and I can poke holes in the plot and continuity easy enough---but I like the characters and the situation, and that's more than enough for me. (For some reason, probably encroaching middle age, the idea of a single parent adopting kids resonates with me---so much I've tried shoving some similar things into my recent writing.) Besides, there's a lot of well-drawn background stuff and in jokes that delights me when I catch a glimpse of them. I've watched it through several times already.

*****

You may recall I was looking for a Blu-Ray edition of the latest edition of Metropolis. You may be happy to know I found one, and watched that through several times as well. Like I said, take a look---so much visual SF derives from the images therein.

*****

I say "you may be happy to know." Or I may be boring you. How would I know?
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I am reading "A Talent For War" by Jack McDevitt. It's an Alex Benedict novel. It takes place way into the future. In fact sometimes it gets a little confusing for they keep talking about this age or that one but those are after space travel. It's a type of mystery and sometimes I find it hard to put down because I want to see what clues Alex finds next. Or how his life might be in danger. So far though that last hasn't really happened much.

I think some would find this book boring, but there's enough suspense to keep me interested. Good descriptions and Jack has made up a rather full history which I find interesting.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited January 14, 2011).]
 


Posted by Smaug (Member # 2807) on :
 
I'm still reading The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by H.W. Brands. It's a great book thus far on the life of one of America's Founders.

I'm also reading Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson. The second in a series (The Malazon Book of the Fallen Series). Very complicated. In fact, I'd say that if you can't devote at least a half an hour a day to reading, you should probably avoid this book. The reason being because there are so many subplots to follow that if you aren't reading it a lot, you'll probably get lost, like I have. Still, that's the way this guy writes, and he's great at creating worlds and mood, IMHO. And many of the reviews say that once you get to the last third of the book, you can't put it down, even if you wanted to.
 


Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
My reading workload is looking to be substantially lighter this year.

Just read two Iain M Banks novels, both of which came highly recommended:
Look to Windward and
Use of Weapons.

I have quite liked Banks' novels in the past as being a little different than more standard SF fare, however I wasn't sufficiently impressed by these to go recommending them wildly to others. Look to Windward is a little too reflective for my current tastes - I think I've had enough of reading about ennui for a while. Use of Weapons is an example of experimental structure risking reader confusion - the plot diverges in forward and reverse time from the start of the novel, alternating with each subsequent chapter. If at first you don't realise this, it becomes so confusing that the entire book could easily be preemptively shelved. It's a cool idea which could have yielded a stronger payoff in the end than it did.

Both are early novels of Banks, so possibly precursors to when he really hit his stride. Either way I'd put them somewhere between Good and Not Impressed.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Reading "Trick Of The Light" by Rob Thurman.


I must say that "Rob" has a very nice looking hair-do with long red hair.

But the book has a twist ending I wonder if the MC is more than she claims to be. First Person and she keeps giving out slight hints that she is something more than human. Is there a Trickster in the Hawaiian Pantheon? And she has been a sort of neighbor to someone who looks like an American Indian and whose father eats venison even though she is probably form Hawaii. Of course she could have moved to the states where she meant her friend. But I shall see.

The series is called Trickster and the MC's name is Trixi Short for Trickster maybe?

Not sure about some of the theology in the book but that seems to go with the territory these days.

Not a bad story so far- a bit over one third- and not bad writing.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited January 21, 2011).]
 


Posted by Ryuhou (Member # 9130) on :
 
I just finished reading OSC's two new books twice.

Pathfinder is an intense book about a kid who finds out he can go back in time with the help of his friend. The best thing about this book is it completely ignores all the common rules about time travel paradox and causality.

The Lost Gate is about a kid born into a family of mages in the 1990's/2000's, he was believed to be a powerful mage based on his parentage but until he was 13 he didn't show any sign of magic. Then he finds out he's a gatemage which is forbidden for any of the magic families to have. He has to run away from his family or be killed, and the book follows him on his various adventures trying to live on his own and learn how to become a gatemage, without breaking too many laws along the way. This book is possibly my favorite one by OSC, it's funny and moving, and action filled. I love his fantasy's and I'll be fiending for the next one in the series for 2 years or so.
 


Posted by Smiley (Member # 9379) on :
 
I'm getting into the 5th book of John Flanagan's 'Ranger's Apprentice'. I like his YA style.
I also finally found OSC's 'Ender's Shadow' in paperback. Can't wait to start in on that one.
 
Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
I've been on a Diana Wynne Jones streak lately, and absolutely adore her books, every one of them, for the way she plays with magic, makes fun characters, and tells not big grand earth-shattering end-all battles between good and evil, but just nice stories with interesting magic.

The ones I've recently read include all of the books in the Chrestomanci series, plus a short story collection featuring the same characters, and The Pinhoe Egg, which is set in the same universe and features the main character Eric Chant from the first Chrestomanci book (the characters overlap some throughout all four or five of those books.)
We also did the audio book of The House of Many Ways, very enjoyable voice talent, and audio of Enchanted Glass. My primary caution with her books, particularly evident in audio, is that they tend to be slow burns. They're not going to grab you by the throat, but they're lovely stories told in interesting ways with interesting magic and compelling characters.

I also read I am Number Four, which is coming out in a movie soonish. It's an interesting sci-fi. There's some online discussion/controversy about the book as it's written by someone then marketed through what some are calling a "scheme" - another author selling rights and supposedly paying the original author pennies. I have no idea, but it's a YA sci-fi and there's precious little of that so I read it. Nice story. Enough tension and interesting features, not too crazy on the action end. Reminded me of The Warrior Heir, but I liked the writing a little better in this book.

I read Life As We Knew It, which is a future dystopia about the moon being hit by an asteroid and coming closer in orbit to the earth, and the massive catastrophes that result. Very interesting story, told 100% first person journal-entry style. I loved the style, and enjoyed the story. It was a much smaller story than I figured, I kept expecting some big grand event to take place, but really it's also a small, close story about a teen and her family and how they survive in crazy circumstances. It's also YA Sci-fi. I recommend this one, but warning that the story is a bit of a downer, I found it tiring to read after a bit and am glad to have moved on, mostly just because it seemed so *real.* I suppose that's a sign of the writer's skill, eh? There are other books out in the series but I'll take a break before (if) reading them.

I also just finished The Comet's Curse by Dom Tesla, a radio personality in Colorado. It's a YA sci-fi, set on an "escape ship" leaving earth after a catastrophe (by this point I'm starting to wonder if there are ANY YA sci-fi books that aren't categorized as post-apocalyptic or disaster or dystopias. Sigh) has caused everyone on earth to be afflicted by a horrible disease that will kill them after age 18. So a crew of 251 15 and 16 year olds are sent into space to escape the disease and recolonize another planet. This is the first in a series. I didn't love the storytelling style (interleaved narrative with present-day and flashbacks, quite a lot of "telling" to the audience. It felt like it was written in a style appropriate for a younger reader, telling us things that we could intuit from the text just fine. I think it's just the writer's style, though, as the choice of 15 and 16 year old protagonists puts it smack in the center of the YA genre.) Story was just so-so. I don't recommend it, but I'm glad I read it because I am certain my stories are at least as good as this one.

I'm now just starting to read Shipbreaker, which is up for some awards this year. It's another future dystopia (le sigh) set in coastal Florida where the mc is a boy who helps break down huge old rusty oil tankers to get their parts. The storytelling is EXCELLENT and is a fantastic study in how to communicate a lot about an unusual environment/different world via basic dialogue and narration, without resorting to blocks of exposition. He also uses a lot of slang and unusual terms, which makes it challenging to read but also interesting to see how the terms are introduced and how you can figure out what is meant by them. So far I'm really impressed, but not far enough to say more than that. I think the writing is fantastic, though, so I'm glad even though it's another intense dark seemingly depressing future story.


 


Posted by Wordcaster (Member # 9183) on :
 
Just finished Gene Wolfe's, Peace. Excellent novel, but not the first Gene Wolfe novel to start off with, though, in my mind. (1st is Shadow of the Torturer; 2nd is either his Death of Dr. Island short story collection or 5th Head of Cerberus).

Now I am reading WOTF vol 26 (ok, I'm a little late). Just finished Skadder's excellent story and will read Brad T's tonight.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I'm going to have to get WotF V.26 and it looks likes I'm going to have to order it special which is why I don't think about while I'm at the bookstore.

Hmm, sounds like even OSC is getting into Urban Fantasy. I'm going to have to look for the "The Lost Gate", may have to order that one too. Even though come to think of it I may have seen it somewhere.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited January 23, 2011).]
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Reporting back to say that SHIPBREAKER was *astonishingly* good. Amazing, compelling, thought-provoking. I've been in "book mourning" since finishing it, not wanting to start a new book because I wanted to let the story linger in my mind a bit longer.

Highly highly recommend.


 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Just wanted to say that I forgot to say that I am still reading Glen Cook's "Gilded Latten Bones" the latest in his Garrett series. I am taking my time only reading it every few days because I would finish it very quickly if I read it straight through. And because it could very well be a while before the next one.

I'm not sure about a couple of points in Garrett's private life though. He's having problems with the love of his life and she is in a state that a lot of guys probably suspect of their loves but it's true in this case. It's taken a turn I don't remember being mentioned before. Everyone seems to think another woman would be better for him.
 


Posted by Lissa (Member # 9206) on :
 
I just finished "The Scorch Trials," the second book in a young adult dystopian trilogy by James Dashner.

Also started "Pathfinder" by OSC; having a hard time getting into it which is unusual for me when reading his work.

Lis
 


Posted by Antinomy (Member # 5136) on :
 
Recommended: Greg Iles's “Black Cross” page turner thriller. Whether or not you are a fan of WWII novels, this story will draw you in, dry out your throat and and keep you up late at night.
 
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Just finished OSC's PATHFINDER and liked it. Interesting characters trying to figure out an interesting puzzle, with the "prologue"-type stuff told in bits and pieces at the beginning of each chapter (works better that way, I think).

This is the first in a series, and promises a lot more interesting stuff in subsequent books. But it doesn't leave me hanging--there's enough resolution to satisfy. I really hate cliff-hanger books.

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited January 31, 2011).]
 


Posted by Fahrion Kryptov (Member # 1544) on :
 
I just finished reading Imager's Intrigue by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. It is the third book in his Imager Portfolio, and a very good fantasy. I would recommend this series (which starts with Imager). I just started reading Arms-Commander, another book from L.E. Modesitt, Jr. This one is from his Recluse series, which I would also recommend.
 
Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
 
Just read a couple of books I really enjoyed.

Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon. I liked this for more than just the space opera elements; it's got the sort of blend of SF that I dig: a bit of military, a bit of business, a bit of spacecraft. While I read the next book my wife read this one (in one night) and has gone and bought the rest of the series. Recommended

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. An oddball book (some of the character names are a laugh in themselves) which nonetheless has a great play with time travel, verisimilitude, narrator pov, the reality of fictional characters, and a bit of literary and poetic silliness besides. Having read Jane Eyre previously is not required but will only add to the fun. A couple of possible editing errors or minor plot holes are present but easily overlooked. Recommended
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Somewhat delayed by my being ill from the first till, well, right now, but here's my usual first-of-the-month what-books-impressed-me-most post.

Actually, it's only two books, autobiographies, both.

(1) The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1, Samuel L. Clemens. This was a bestseller, and very hard to find---I finally had to order it off Amazon-dot-com to get a copy. All the more surprising, what with the writer being, well, dead for over a century.

This is the first time the autobiography has been assembled in anything resembling the way Clemens wrote it---or even how he intended it to go. (He also wanted them to wait a century to publish, but they didn't pay attention to that, either.) Clemens wrote / dictated it stream-of-consciousness-style, apparently. It's chock-filled with vignettes about this and that, ranging over the whole of his life---and often the stories are very funny.

Clemens is a lot easier to take if you don't have to read him for school. And, given the nature of his, er, commentary, you probably won't find this on the school reading list anytime soon...

The other book is:

Life, Keith Richards. You wouldn't think he'd even remember much of what he went through---but he confronts that issue boldly on the dust jacket flap, and we're go from there. You know how these "celebrity" memoirs are often just something dashed off or dictated to a ghostwriter...but, here, the book is fairly substantial and the "voice" is constant throughout. Richards (and his collaborator) may not tell all, but they tell enough. And I wish somebody had explained open chord tuning to me like Richards does.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

Keep forgetting to post this so even though I'm half way through the book I finally get to it.

Mike Shepherd's "Redoubtable". Its the eighth in a series about one Kris Longknife. She keeps getting into trouble even though she tries not to...she cares too much and ends up beating up the bad guys or stopping a murder spree, pirates etc. Sometimes it's not her fault, like her first assignment and when she just happens to be in the right spot to stop an assassin.

Not a bad space opera series even though the writer did something in, I think fourth book, that writers aren't suppose to do. I mean in the storytelling area not in the writing area.


And I am slowly reading Card's Character and viewpoint book. I should pick it up more often but at least I'm doing some reading in it.
 


Posted by posulliv (Member # 8147) on :
 
quote:
Not a bad space opera series even though the writer did something in, I think fourth book, that writers aren't suppose to do. I mean in the storytelling area not in the writing area.


Could you elaborate? I'd like to know if I'm likely to do whatever this is too.



 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
quote:

Could you elaborate? I'd like to know if I'm likely to do whatever this is too.


At first I wasn't sure because it's a major spoiler but I could e-mail it to you. If you don't mind the spoiler.

I should add though that not everyone may agree with me on this subject. Other writers have done it and I have been involved with message board conversations about those writers. Most of those who commented didn't appreciate it.

If I send the E-mail, you may understand better.
 


Posted by Tiergan (Member # 7852) on :
 
Well I know this is going to come as a shock to a lot of people but I felt the need to post anyway.

I just finished reading my first book in a year, first other than my own during editing and such. I used to read books upon books. But since kids, and learning to write, I havent been able to finish book. I either get drawn off, then havent felt the need to go back and revisit the book. So many books with bookmarks in them. And a ton of books I have started I just quit, not interested, or found myself editing them as I went along. I was reading this book and a line come up, "Then God have mercy on you, and May God have mercy on us all." I closed the book, and refused to read further. But the funny thing is, the book I finished, had nearly the same line, but I read on. I guess the difference, in the first, it felt like B-rated movie, the 2nd the one I finished, I felt it.

So,the book I finished and left me wanting to read more: Enders Game.

Yeah, I know, should have read it before, but hadnt. Made it through the entire book, never felt the need to edit. And only 1 chapter glassed me over a little, the political stuff(The brother and sister chapter).

Good stuff.


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Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Wait a minute...you haven't read any books, other than your own, in an entire year?
 
Posted by Tiergan (Member # 7852) on :
 
quote:
Wait a minute...you haven't read any books, other than your own, in an entire year?

Pretty much. I havent made it through any, completely, not that I recall, some books on writing being the exception. Well, I have finished several books by skipping large sections at a time, sometimes chapters. There might be some I missing in the year, but I guess, my true point was, that Ender's Game, was first book in a long time, I didnt want to stop reading.


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Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

Actually I think Tiergan didn't say he didn't read any books but that he hadn't finished any. Except for that one. But I can see how people can change and their tastes change also. Or in Tiergan's case he may have found something that interests him more...Tiergan you can agree or disagree of course since I'm sort of speaking for you

I don't read nearly as much as I used to but I do usually finish those I start. I have set aside a certain time to read each day and that's it no matter how good the book is or how much I want to do something else like write. Well, I have gone over a quite a few minutes since the book was good and my wife was on the computer with her craftings anyway, but it's still within that time frame.

Of course maybe it's the books you have been choosing not all writers, and/ or plots, are good.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited February 13, 2011).]
 


Posted by Tiergan (Member # 7852) on :
 
quote:
Actually I think Tiergan didn't say he didn't read any books but that he hadn't finished any. Except for that one. But I can see how people can change and their tastes change also. Or in Tiergan's case he may have found something that interests him more...Tiergan you can agree or disagree of course since I'm sort of speaking for you

That pretty much sums it up. I try to read all the time, but prefer to write and only a few books seem to draw me in to finish them, and it seems very few in deed have got me to want to read each word and not a put it down.

I use to devour books, epic fantasies. Buying a series or trilogy at a time and reading them in a weekend. Then kids came, and work rose up, I couldnt devote 4 hrs a sitting. And I found myself not caring if I ever got back to those characters in those stories. Throw in the learning the rules of writing, and my self editor kicks in. So with limited time, I have a rule, if I find myself editing in my head more than reading, not the book to waste my time with. And so forth. It is more to do with me then books out there I am sure.

But it was nice to read a book again that had me sneaking a peak during work(I am my own boss, so not all bad) and also left me with that feeling I got years ago, when reading.

[This message has been edited by Tiergan (edited February 13, 2011).]
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
I'm with Tiergan--the more you know about writing and editing, the harder it is to be willing to invest time in a book, and the harder it is to find books worth investing that kind of time in.

I have found that the best thing I can say about a book lately is that I look forward to getting back to it, because I haven't found a book I couldn't put down in a long time.

In fact, for most of the books I finish, all I can say is that I am willing to come back to them.

I recently finished PATHFINDER by OSC, and was pleased to find that not only did I look forward to getting back to it after I had put it down, but that I was willing to keep reading it instead of putting it down. (Not "couldn't put it down," but "willing to keep reading"--at least half of the books I finish I have to put down every so often.)

I hope that makes sense. It's a little frustrating to not be able to really dig into a book any more and come up hours later surprised at how much time has passed without you even noticing.
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Well, I can say my reading speed has slowed down, and books I might've devoured in a day take a week or more to read---but I'm still reading, even if it's a bit here and a bit there when I can find the time. And my shelves and floors are piled high with books I haven't yet gotten around to, or gotten partway through...
 
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
quote:
I'm with Tiergan--the more you know about writing and editing, the harder it is to be willing to invest time in a book, and the harder it is to find books worth investing that kind of time in.

Then I must be getting better at those things. I'm having a terrible time getting through Robin McKinley's PEGASUS. Often because I find myself stopping and wondering why she did that.
 


Posted by rich (Member # 8140) on :
 
Finally getting around to reading Columbine, by Dave Cullen. About more than half-way through...Amazing. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
 
Posted by Utahute72 (Member # 9057) on :
 
I tend to read stuff all over the map. Currently finishing Bernard Cornwell's series about the reign of Alfred in England (ca. 900 AD) Great series and a lot of you sword and sorcery guys could get some good technique from his battle scenes. You really need to be into English history and historical novels though.
 
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Finally finishing Robin McKinley's PEGASUS. NOT RECOMMENDED.

The reasons:

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited February 18, 2011).]
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Okay, I'm so late with this post that I finished one of the books.

That one be "Ghost Of A Chance". The first in a new series by Simon R. Green. Like his other three, its rather macabre even though not as many of those types of scenes as usual. I think there was only one, actually.

This one is about a team of Ghost hunters in England. Their HQ is in the Palace, the Prime Minister may or may not know about them depending.

Good writing-which is one reason I read it so fast- but in this case I'm not totally sold on the storytelling. I hope that makes sense. I will probably read the second one whenever it comes out but it's not one I will be eagerly waiting for.


I said this is his fourth series but these are his newer ones, I think he has two older ones. "Deathstalker" and "Fisher and Hawk". Never read "Deathstalker" but loved Fisher and Hawk or is it Hawk and Fisher? Anyway, he did only a small handful of those novels. I thought he had one out I haven't read but I saw it once and can't find it again.


Second book is "Blood Memories" It's one of the few vampire series I decided to read. It's by Barb Hendee--half of a married couple who write another series I do read. Speaking of that I thought I bought one in that series but can't find the book now.
So I am taking my time in reading Blood. I bought it months ago--the second one is out already--but decided I didn't feel like reading it then. But it's the next on my list so I decided I better start it at least. Not sure if I recommend it or not. If you like Vamps and the MC is one... you will probably like this one even though it changes the Vampire legend, which is not unusual these days.

I've noticed a wide variety of reading material here. No one seems to read the same books as I do. Which isn't bad or good but still I go hmmm. Some of the nonfiction listed I wouldn't mind reading, but for the time it would take away from my writing.

No one that is except two people. One is reading Butcher and another person stated on my blog that there were reading one book I listed.

Oh yes still reading Card's Viewpoint book.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited February 18, 2011).]

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited February 18, 2011).]
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Now I am reading Patricia's Briggs first book. She revised it when they decided to republish it. I think I can tell. Still good writing but I think even with the revising it's not as good as the other two of her books I have read.

The Book is titled "Masques" . I would recommend it if you like fantasy. No elves and such but there is magic and a mystery and intrigue.


And even though I probably won't read it for a while. I bought "Way of The Wizard" an anthology edited by John Joseph Adams. I sent in at least six stories when he was open for submissions. No surprise he didn't want any. But its the reason I can't send those stories to Fantasy Magazine.


 


Posted by genevive42 (Member # 8714) on :
 
I've just finished the second book of Joe Abercrombie's First Law Series (I think it's a trilogy with offshoot books in the same world). It is fantastic! I love his writing style and the characters are all sorts of fun. It's not a light tale by any means. In fact it's quite dark. One of the most sympathetic characters actually happens to be a torturer as well. And he doesn't pull punches in any of his descriptions, he never plays it safe. I'm looking forward to the third installment. As I'm reading this on audio, I also have to give props to the reader, Steven Pacey, who does an incredible job with the voices. Everyone sounds different and he never gets them confused.

What's interesting is that I'm also reading, Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass and Abercrombie does just about everything mentioned in that book. If the universe is trying to tell me something, I'll say 'point taken'.
 


Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
 
LDWriter,

I was an avid Simon R. Greene fan as a kid, Loved Deathstalker, REALLY loved Blue Moon Rising. I thought his books were the clever, exciting, and absolutely fun.

I tried rereading them as an adult, and thought they were just kind of stupid, to be honest. It's been a few years since I read them, so I don't remember what I specifically disliked, just that I thought, "Whoa, this guy can't write." I wonder what it is that changed so much about me that my reaction to the books changed so completely.

P.S. I'm not trying to imply anything insulting about you or your reading tastes. Just my personal reaction to him as a writer.
 


Posted by Lissa (Member # 9206) on :
 
Currently reading The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. CANNOT PUT IT DOWN! GOOD STUFF!

Lis
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Delayed a day---not by illness this time, but by being busy all Tuesday. But I've got a few books (and one graphic novel) to mention.

Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall---from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness, Frank Brady. Fischer wasn't by any means the only chess champion to go off the deep end---but it makes for an interesting read. (A knowledge of chess would be helpful, too.)

The Horses of St. Mark: A Story of Triumph in Byzantium, Paris, and Venice, Charles Freeman. This tells the story of the four hourses that once stood upon St. Mark's in Venice---and many other places here and there---and of the people and empires and countries that rose and fell around them. Excellent exploration of oft-forgotten history.

Known and Unknown: A Memoir, Donald Rumsfeld. I've tried reading some recent memoirs by political figures, but have had little luck with them. (I wasn't motivated to go beyond a couple chapters in ones by Karl Rove and Tony Blair and President Bush.) But this one covers more territory---Rumsfeld was active in government from the late 1950s on---and reads more like a history than a memoir. (I'm a couple chapters from the end, but I decided to include it in this month's stuff anyway.)

...and one oddity: Widgey Q. Butterfluff, Steph Cherrywell. I picked up this 'cause I've followed an online comic by the same artist...and it was worth it. Ostensibly a parody of those super-sweet Saturday cartoons, it's loaded with references and injokes that are likely to go over less sophisticated heads (really, it's intended for adults, I'd say). Funny book.

*****

Honorable mention: Ellery Queen. This is a vintage TV murder mystery show, 1975-1976, kind of the ancestor of Murder, She Wrote. I liked this when it was on then, liked it when I taped it off A & E in the early 1990s, and liked it when I turned up this DVD set a couple of weeks ago. Literate mysteries, vintage setting (1947 mostly New York), several continuing characters that play well off each other (the relationship between Ellery and his father the police inspector is particularly touching). To this day, I regret that there wasn't more to the series than what's on the DVD here. And knowing "whodunit" hasn't affected my pleasure at watching one bit.

"Ellery Queen," is, of course, the pen name used on a series of mysteries published from the late 1920s to the 1970s. I dug out several favorites (they've all been out of print since the 1990s), but haven't reread them yet.
 


Posted by rich (Member # 8140) on :
 
Speaking of graphic novels...

Just now finished Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli. Maz was the guy who may be most famous for his Daredevil and Batman runs with Frank Miller. But don't let the association with Miller fool you. This was the best book I've read in quite some time. HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. It's perfect, from beginning to end. I haven't had a book hit me this hard in awhile.
 


Posted by Utahute72 (Member # 9057) on :
 
I'm currently reading Spider Star, by Mike Brotherton. It's a good book with lots of action and some interesting speculation. But I'm finding a lot of disconnects in the verbage and structure. Is this common?
 
Posted by redux (Member # 9277) on :
 
So I decided to give my local library's e-book system a try. I put several books and audio-books on hold and have been reading them as they become available.

What I've read/listened to so far:

Audio books:
BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS by Shannon Hale (YA Fantasy) - I did not finish listening to it. I simply felt no connection to the main character but I can see its appeal to a younger audience.

IF TOMORROW COMES by Sidney Sheldon - This was a nostalgia choice I remember being riveted to the TV set when the miniseries aired in the 80s.

E-books:
PRINCESS ACADEMY by Shannon Hale (YA Fantasy) - I enjoyed it more than 'Thousand Days' but I still feel her GOOSE GIRL was far superior.

BLACK UNICORN by Tanith Lee (YA Fantasy)- I got about 2/3 of the way through and just lost interest. I felt like the MC's storyline was taking a bit too long to develop, but I did enjoy the vivid prose.

VICTORIA AND THE ROGUE by Meg Cabot (YA Historical Fiction) - This book felt more like a guide of how not to write Regency/Historical Fiction. I know it is aimed at a teen audience, but I felt the author had no grasp of British Regency culture.

I think I need to start queuing some SciFi...


 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Just finished the second and third Mercy Thompson books by Patricia Briggs--BLOOD BOUND and IRON KISSED. Both good reads.

Now I'm going to disappear into WISE MAN'S FEAR.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited March 09, 2011).]
 


Posted by Tiergan (Member # 7852) on :
 
Well after a long drought of reading I have found myself reading a lot of late. With the esception of OSC's Enders Game and Enders Shadow, It took going back to reading middle-grade books to find the fun in the reading again. For some reason, I dont find myself editing them , but enjoying the story. I dont know why, whether good writing or story telling or just that, at that level I dont feel so strict with rules. I guess to me its a learning point, 1 that I have to remind myself of every time I write now. A perfect sentence doesnt make a book, a perfect paragrpah doenst wither. Its the parts put together and tell a story that makes a book.

So here we go.

Ender's Shadow-Orson Scott Card I wish I had waited a little longer, maybe a couple weeks after reading Ender's Game. It felt a little too much like Bean felt to similar Ender in the beginning, I think it was because the age and size issue. By 1/4 of the way through, the difference really showed for me. It is strange, the first chapter or scene is told through another pov, that we never see from again. I remember somewhere in this forum he talked about this scene in particular and tried from several pov's before finally choosing this one.

Percy Jackson - Rick Riordan - I read the first 2 books in the series, The Lightning Thief and the The Sea of Monsters, . Easy reads, but as my latest project is middle grade slanted towards upper middle grade, I wanted to see what was out there. I would recommend them if you like ya or middle grade reading, light and fun. It is very clear to see why they have become such a hit. Interesting characters, slight twist on the Greek Gods, and action.

The Graveyard Book - by Neil Gaimen - Dark, a triple homicide in a book that registers from adult to middle age. It was a little harder to read, and I felt some scenes weren't needed, but then by the end those scenes were needed. Again, I would recommend it.

Rangers Apprentice - John Flanagan - I read the first in the series so far, The Ruins of Gorlan. Again, middle grade here, but a series that has done very well. I would call it adventure fantasy and very easy read, smooth. I did find myself editing a little bit, some head hopping but still wanted to read more. Again, easy to see why it has become popular, undersized, runt of the litter, kid, takes steps to become hero.


 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

It's been a while since I have been here because one book may take a few minutes to discuss.

laura anne gilman's "Pack Of Lies" Second in her PUPI series. PUPIs use "Magic" to investigate crimes committed by Talent or those who can use her form of magic-which isn't magic. Hmm, she's the second writer to say that. Wonder if there's a reason?

Anyway, first off the name of the book makes me wonder. "Pack Of Lies", the MC has started calling the group she works with her pack. When that finally connected, I thought "Oh oh". To top it off she has had a precog feeling of danger with them. And again to top it off from the first series we know that something bad is about to happen, without going into too much spoilers, there are minor Talents who have been brainwashed. Neither her nor her group are minor but in the first series there was a red hair girl that was caught and brainwashed, later she was released. As far as I noticed she never showed up a third time. And the MC of this book had red hair. As I mentioned before Bonnie the MC in this series was a minor character in the other series even though so far she hasn't met Wren the MC from the other series which is surprising. And when gillman mentioned the redhair girl I mentioned I wondered than if she was Bonnie. But, as I recall anyway, both disappeared from the story later.

Changing the subject somewhat Gilman seems to have contradicted herself. In the first series she gave the impression if not out and out side the New York police didn't except the reality of mythical animals that hang around NY but in this one they do.

Finally, she confused me. Not that isn't hard at times but the case the PUPIs are working on involves attempted rape. But up intill a certain point everyone was acting like the girl had been actually raped. Including a detail that has to do with magic and virgins. Again I won't explain more just in case someone wants to read it. You learn the case in the first page or two.

I think that's all.


I am also reading Simon Green's "The Good, The Bad, And The Uncanny". A Nightside novel. Not as macabre as some in that series...so far. But it also contents Green's sense of humor. A damaged Android wearing a Monk's robe, singing Gregorian Chants intermixed with hot Gospel songs. Just the way Green says it has me smiling.
The Nightside itself doesn't seem to be as mean in this one...again so far. Not that it's nice. Green also has contradicted himself a couple of times but only in very minor areas.

Jim Butcher has a blurb on the front cover but Green was around and a pro quite a while before Butcher I would think Green should be on Butcher's cover. Not that it's a big deal.

I thought up and partially written out a story that could take place in the Nightside even though I have my own world for it.


[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited March 12, 2011).]
 


Posted by Grayhog (Member # 9446) on :
 
I read everything but here are my latest standouts.

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Recommend. The characters and setting are 3D, like you can reach out and touch them. The setting, 12 century England, is good research for my own book. I hadn't read any Follett and after reading lots a reviews thought this was a good place to start. The mini-series is good, pretty close to the book with casting right on. If you like that sort of thing, I did.

I love middle grade and YA so find it lots of fun to revisit classics or actually read them the first time.

Maniac Magee. Jerry Spinelli. Recommend. Fast and fun, read this aloud to my kids after I read it myself. I couldn't put it down and for someone not that into baseball and boys' antics, I was rivited.

A Long Way From Chicago. Richard Peck. Recommend highly. I laughed, I cried and I read this to my kids aloud. We have a baseline of characters to draw on when we read books like these. Grandma Dowdel, God how it seems we all knew someone like this and wish the world had more of her.

[This message has been edited by Grayhog (edited March 14, 2011).]
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Anybody else having trouble getting into WISE MAN'S FEAR? Just doesn't really feel like anything is happening. I'm not really riveted by his struggle to pay his tuition. When's the story coming?

I loved THE NAME OF THE WIND.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

And due to unforeseen circumstanced dealing with my In-Laws I started

"Dopplegangsters" by Laura Resnick

It's a humorous UF. dealing with a New York Actress-dancer who has gotten involved with a 300 plus year old wizard. I say dancer but she isn't the erotic kind even if the play calls for skimpy outfits.

Kinda busy opening but at the same time easy to understand. One thing though as far as I can tell this is the first one in the series but there was a previous adventure. Maybe it was a short story or for some reason they aren't listing that book.
Even though it's taking a little to get into the adventure we--that is the readers--are learning about the MC, her problems..her forgetfulness and her hopefully boy friend.

Oh, yes the title is accurate. If you like light dark UF stories I think you will like this one. Not as dark as some but still on the dark side. But I recommend it!

I may keep reading it only at these unforeseen circumstances which are not longer unforeseen.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited March 20, 2011).]
 


Posted by Foste (Member # 8892) on :
 
Meredith, I finished The Wise Man's fear and felt that it was delightful. If you are tired of the University part just be a bit patient. Little Kvothe will soon go out and explore the world.
 
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
quote:
Meredith, I finished The Wise Man's fear and felt that it was delightful. If you are tired of the University part just be a bit patient. Little Kvothe will soon go out and explore the world.

Good! Because, truth to tell, I was a little tired of Kvothe the University Years even at the end of THE NAME OF THE WIND. Maybe that's why I'm having trouble with the beginning of WISE MAN'S FEAR.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Reading "Blood Lite" edited by Kevin J. Anderson. Supposedly it's suppose to "put the fun back in dark tales". Made up of kinda of humorous horror and/or urban fantasy stories

Didn't really like the cover but with Charlaine Harris and Jim Butcher and one or two other writers, I thought it could be good. Not so sure now.

I've read over half the book and not sure if I can recommend it. The writings not bad but the Bear story wasn't humorous at all-yech in fact, and a couple others were borderline likable. I thought a story titled "Night With Al Gore" could be a humorous horror story. But while not bad, not good either.

Some readers may like the humor of those borderline stories more than I did.

And Jim Butcher's Dresden tale is still to come.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited March 27, 2011).]
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Still reading THE WISE MAN'S FEAR. It's taking me a while because I had to slog through the University stuff. Like I said above, I really don't care that much about Kvothe's struggles to pay his tuition or his ongoing sophomoric one-upsmanship battles with Ambrose.

I'm a little PO'd right now, as a matter of fact.

*Spoiler Alert*

We get so much of the University stuff in loving detail. It's being told as a memoir for heaven's sake and still we get told exactly what Kvothe had for lunch. I mean, I know he's supposed to have an excellent memory, but really?! But when he's brought up on trial for consorting with demons--that's just glossed over. When he finally gets out of that #$%* University, we're told that he's shipwrecked and robbed, etc., but none of that is shown. By the way, despite everything, he ends up practically naked, but he still has his lute. Of course, we're not shown how he accomplished that feat. After slogging through so much of what feels like unnecessary detail for the first 350 pages, to have the book skip over these real events is just annoying.

I'm really starting to hate that @#$* University.
 


Posted by Tiergan (Member # 7852) on :
 
So, after hearing the name, Jim Butcher, thrown around much here of late, I went through my cartons of books that I got from the library sale last year, and year before. And sure enough I have a Jim Butcher book, several it appears. I have heard of him for years now, and seen commercials for his TV series.

So I started reading his first, STORM FRONT. I really wasnt going to read much, as I have a lot of writing to do, but its a pretty easy read, and better yet, its in first person which is something I am attempting with my latest piece. The idea of trying it is: its supposed to be easier getting into the characters heads, and thoughts. This is something I feel is missing from my writing.

As far as the writing of the book, I dont know how I feel. He likes character description, in info dump form. Had I put it up in the forum here, I would have been crucified. And he is doing the biggest cardinal no-no. He is withholding what happened in his past. He talks about, hints about and moves on under the guise of not wanting to think about it.

I am not bringing those points up to cause an argument. The info dumps on character description do turn my stomach a little. I have long decided its easier to do, and am willing to except some. The truth is very few authors if any dont break this rule, its just rules sometimes can be so damn aggravating. If you spend a full page trying to show that your MC is tall and strong with dark hair, and blue eyes, it better have more purpose than just trying to get the physical description of him/her in. Might be better to slip just the line in.

The with-holding. I dont know-I feel cheated. Maybe its because a lot of my characters have checkered pasts, lost lifetimes and everyone says, if he knows it, then the reader needs to know it. Its easy to create suspense by withholding. As a reader I dont mind, even enjoy it. As a writer, well, thats a different story.


 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
quote:

As far as the writing of the book, I dont know how I feel. He likes character description, in info dump form. Had I put it up in the forum here, I would have been crucified. And he is doing the biggest cardinal no-no. He is withholding what happened in his past. He talks about, hints about and moves on under the guise of not wanting to think about it.

I am not bringing those points up to cause an argument. The info dumps on character description do turn my stomach a little. I have long decided its easier to do, and am willing to except some. The truth is very few authors if any dont break this rule, its just rules sometimes can be so damn aggravating. If you spend a full page trying to show that your MC is tall and strong with dark hair, and blue eyes, it better have more purpose than just trying to get the physical description of him/her in. Might be better to slip just the line in.

The with-holding. I dont know-I feel cheated. Maybe its because a lot of my characters have checkered pasts, lost lifetimes and everyone says, if he knows it, then the reader needs to know it. Its easy to create suspense by withholding. As a reader I dont mind, even enjoy it. As a writer, well, thats a different story.


Not sure if this will help how you feel about the writing but he's not the first pro writer to get away with breaking rules we can't. It depends on how well you do it. Dean Wesley Smith and I believe a couple of other long time pros have stated that you can break the rules once you know them. And even that you should break them when you reach that point. It helps to stretch us as writers. When you reach that point no one not even you can know. Only by what sells. I know one writer who sold his second story after he decided to break the not waking up in the opening rule. He did it on purpose, to stretch himself, and it worked for him. But a lot of us get yelled at when we try it.

As to Butcher's writing I didn't really notice the info dumbs that much. Either he does a good job at them or I was too much into the story to see them. I do that at times.

I have seen a few writers do The Withholding Thing. I think it depends on what is with held and how it is. I think it would bog down Butcher's story too much to go into great details at the beginning. We do know he had a troubled past and why the one guy with the sword hates him even if not every detail is given. For me it was enough. I was curious and hoped that it would be revealed in time...which it does... but it wasn't enough for me to loss interest in the story.

And like most writers Butcher improves with each book. So does Dresden. I think he's a bit whiny in the first book, almost like he's not used to pushing himself beyond what he thinks are his limits but he soon learns. I would think that by that time he would be somewhat used to doing that but not so much. You also get to see more of his kinder nature in later books.
 


Posted by Tiergan (Member # 7852) on :
 
quote:
And like most writers Butcher improves with each book. So does Dresden. I think he's a bit whiny in the first book, almost like he's not used to pushing himself beyond what he thinks are his limits but he soon learns.

Yeah, he is whiny, isnt he.

I just finished the book. It was a good book over all. And I will read more of his. While I didnt truly fall for the character, probably because he was whiny, even whimpy at times, I did like the world he created and the story flowed. And in the end he showed his strength.

As far as the writing: I finished the book which is more than I can say for most I have started. Some character description dumps, and some less then active sentences, and my hic-cup on withholding something under the guise of He didnt want to think of it. BUT, not enough for me to stop reading. Very few authors dont break the rules, and truth is I dont have a problem with it as long as the whole out performs the piece.

So what do I take away from the book, something I have been thinking of a lot lately. A perfect sentence doesnt make a good book, nor a perfect paragrpah, but a good story or good character does. And that is the most important part, the part I want to focus on more in my writing. Create the character, the world and let him go. I want to become less rule bound, and find my voice again.

[This message has been edited by Tiergan (edited March 27, 2011).]
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
quote:

So what do I take away from the book, something I have been thinking of a lot lately. A perfect sentence doesnt make a good book, nor a perfect paragrpah, but a good story or good character does. And that is the most important part, the part I want to focus on more in my writing. Create the character, the world and let him go. I want to become less rule bound, and find my voice again.

Very wise, Grasshopper.

or Wise you are Skywalker.

Or I have heard pros say almost exactly the same thing. Don't try for the prefect sentence. It's almost impossible to write and if you do, more than likely you will lose the story. It has happened. Beautifully written prose has been rejected because the story is almost nonexistent. Of course I think there is a place for beautiful prose but not with the stuff we write. Which doesn't mean we write lousy sentences either.


 


Posted by Wordcaster (Member # 9183) on :
 
I'm reading the third Dresden book right now.

Jim Butcher for me is like Dean Koontz -- the kind of author I pick up when I want a story that I know will entertain me through and will allow me to read when my mind is distracted.

The books are definitely improving as I am making my way through the series (kind of how I felt about Harry Potter). Perhaps that is typical of new authors embarking on a series.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I know that John Levitt's writing has improved with each book in his "Dog Days" series. And the storytelling also.

I think the same is true for Seanan McGuire and her "October Daye" series. I haven't rad it yet but her latest haas been reported-by more than one person- to be her best yet...not only with the writing but the story also.

BTW, I love her name I wish I could use it in a story.

an addition here.

On the first page of this thread, the second post, you will see someone who doesn't like Butcher's writing at all.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited March 28, 2011).]
 


Posted by Wordcaster (Member # 9183) on :
 
I listened to an adventures in sci fi podcast with Butcher's editor. She said that he is coming out with a Dresden short story anthology with a new novella from Murphy's POV.

My info may be dated (I don't know how old the podcast is). I hadn't realized there were published dresden short stories.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

They already have even though I haven't heard of that one,

But there's one on his main web site. I'll get the link tomorrow, its late right now.

And there are now maybe five anthologies with his shorts stories. Most are edited by P.N. Elrod with various titles. Like "A Dark Stormy Knight", "My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding"

I almost said the books have his shorts but...
 


Posted by Wordcaster (Member # 9183) on :
 
I guess the anthology came out late last year. Side Jobs is the title. It includes stories from My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding/Honeymoon, chapbooks,, convention promotional stories, and other venues. It got good reviews, but it seems it is for the Dresden die-hards who have already read all the novels and want more.

I'm half way through three and will probably make my way through them slower than he can write them.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I'll be going to Barnes and Noble Sunday so I will see if it is around. I don't recall every seeing a copy even though I may have seen it listed on that web site I keep referencing.

I call this one the official site JB it has all types of interesting information. Inluding a forum with a writing section but last two times I tried I couldn't get on it. Wish I could play that role playing game they have. Wish he would be open to inviting other writers to write in his universe, of course that doesn't mean he would invite me.

But there is also this site. Its the one I first found a few years ago and the one I used to send Jim a few E-mails. He answered some of them. Evidently his sister runs it.

http://www.wizardsharry.com/dresden.html

Hmm, an addition here but Low and behold there's "Side Jobs" on the front page of his web site. So I had seen it there but not in person. Now I recall I thought it was his next one but that is "Ghost Stories".


But I wanted to say that I just finished a short story by him. A humorous tale about Dresden wanting a Day Off . It must have been written before "Turn Coat".

Anyway, it has one of the longest sentences I have seen a very long time. I wish I could post the thing here, it just goes on and on. I could see how someone could use it as an example of Butcher's awful writing but since its a humorous story I think he did it on purpose.

BTW Butcher has a Spiderman novel out.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited April 01, 2011).]
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Somewhat delayed from my usual first-of-the-month book posting...I had a pretty busy Friday and Saturday. Besides, I'm only going to bring up a couple of books and one (maybe) writer.

You might recall last month I mentioned watching the old TV series "Ellery Queen." Well, in the course of the watching, I dug out some old books by Ellery Queen and reread them. My copies are brown with age, mostly from sitting in a box in my roasting-hot garage for over twenty years. (I didn't find all of them...nor could I obtain brand-new copies, these books all being out of print since the mid-1990s.)

"Ellery Queen" was the pseudonym of Fred Dannay and Manfred Lee, with the conceit that their pseudonym was also the lead character in their third-person mysteries. For a time, they were the most popular mysteries in America. (The character in the books doesn't have much in common with the character on the TV series, though.)

One of the books I read was The Adventures of Ellery Queen. This was a collection of Queen short works. I enjoyed them, like a visit with old friends, and in all but one I'd forgotten "whodunit," but two things struck me in particular. (1) One of them had a character named Harry Potter, of all things. And (2), you might have seen me complain about the current status of "the 'N' word," as it's called...it doesn't come up here, but a number of other, er, "racial descriptions" do...and, despite my attitude, I found these descriptions disconcerting in the extreme.

The other Ellery Queen book I wanted to bring up was The Player on the Other Side. This is something of a mystery (more than that within the story), because I'm informed it wasn't written by the team of Dannay and Lee, but ghostwritten by well-known science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon---which gives it an unusual, Sturgeon-y flavor. (Why Sturgeon was ghostwriting an Ellery Queen book is something I've never figured out...others in that immediate era (the 1960s) were also ghostwritten by at least one other SF writer (and I've gotten two different names at two different times.))

Either way, it's well worth reading, as are many other Ellery Queen books...just take some of the older stuff as period pieces and you should be all right. Sometimes the mysteries and lapses can be kind of, well, odd (one had a plot turn on Ellery Queen not realizing the difference between raw newsreel footage and the edited final product), but, with a keen mind and a sharp eye for detail, you've got a good chance of fingering "whodunit" before the end.
 


Posted by Reziac (Member # 9345) on :
 
Ellery Queen became a franchise, and yes, several were written by other authors. Some are listed in the Wikipedia article,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellery_Queen

Three that aren't listed, written by Jack Vance:

The Four Johns (1964), as "Ellery Queen" (also titled Four Men Called John, UK 1976)
A Room to Die In (1965), as "Ellery Queen"
The Madman Theory (1966), as "Ellery Queen"

I've been told there's a 4th written by Jack Vance but don't know what it might be offhand.
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
"Jack Vance" was what I heard awhile ago, and for some of the "proper" Ellery Queens, rather than those ones...but, more recently, I've heard "Avram Davidson." Why Dannay and Lee handed those out to other writers, or allowed others write under the Ellery Queen name to begin with, I can't say---I can make a number of guesses, of course.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

Okay, I'm reading "In Shade And Shadow" by Barb and J. C. Hendee.

Barb has out a book by herself that I am also still reading.

This is the start of a second series by the two writers. I said a new series but it's like a part two of The Noble Dead series. I still think its the wrong name both because the series are about fighting the Noble Dead when they show up, and because they aren't Noble. But in this case Noble is an elitist or snobbish term.

In this one like the first series there seems to be a character who is helping but is actually a bad guy. In this one he shows up immediately while in the first series he shows up later.

If you like dark worlds you will like both series. I think the writing is better in this book but its not bad in the first few.

This is more a fantasy than UF even though there are vampires and such. Even though there are made up cities, I think the tech level is about 1700s maybe 1800s. They have wagons, carriages, crossbows, streetlamps, nice restaurants.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited April 07, 2011).]
 


Posted by Wordcaster (Member # 9183) on :
 
I picked up the first Dirk Pitt novel, The Mediterranean Caper, by Clive Cussler.

I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Whenever I am at a used book sale, it never fails that there is someone grabbing every Cussler novel they can find.

Anyway, can someone please tell me that they get better than this novel? It was pretty bad. I felt like I was watching an episode of Scooby Doo with a big reveal of information that there is no way Dirk Pitt would have known it.

Also, I like a macho character in a novel -- you know, a man's man -- but in this novel it was ridiculous. Pitt meets a strange woman on a beach (she thought he was dead, but he was really just sleeping). He finds out she is a widow and when she starts to cry, he slaps her in the face. Then she sleeps with him on the beach.

Please tell me they get better. And no, the above are not spoilers. Something has to be pallatable to be spoilable.
 


Posted by Tiergan (Member # 7852) on :
 
quote:
Anyway, can someone please tell me that they get better than this novel? It was pretty bad. I felt like I was watching an episode of Scooby Doo with a big reveal of information that there is no way Dirk Pitt would have known it.

You have heard of ROFL, Rolling on Floor Laughing, yeah, I am.

Well first off, I am a big fan of the Dirk Pitt novels. Yes they get better, for a few, then worse.

I would say this, Clive Cussler can tell an entertaining story but, since joining this site, I have yet to finish one of his books, I am constantly finding myself editing it, or skipping large sections.

So, I dont really know what to say. Well, I like Scooby Doo.
 


Posted by JohnColgrove (Member # 9236) on :
 
I was thinking about getting one of his books too...

I just started Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.

I want to get WWW: Wake by Robert J Sawyer. Anyone ever read this?
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Finally finished Patrick Rothfuss' THE WISE MAN'S FEAR. Good, but overall not as good as the first, THE NAME OF THE WIND. I wonder how long it will be until the third book comes out.

One thing occured to me. I remember from his website that Rothfuss teaches at a college or university. I wonder if that's why he's so fond of s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g out the sections where Kvothe is in that $(#)@ University and then cramming all the interesting stuff (when he's not at the University) together.

Needed something light after slogging through almost a thousand pages, so I started LEVIATHAN by Scott Westerfield. Only two chapters in but I think I'm really going to enjoy this one.
 


Posted by redux (Member # 9277) on :
 
I am reading Elizabeth Moon's THE SPEED OF DARK. I'm only a few pages in, so far so good.

quote:
I want to get WWW: Wake by Robert J Sawyer. Anyone ever read this?

I too want to read that book. I requested a hold from my local public library and there's a waiting list. I did read his first novel GOLDEN FLEECE and it was quite good.
 
Posted by Tiergan (Member # 7852) on :
 
I have been reading John Flanagan's The Rangers Apprentice series. So far so good. Again I find myself more forgiving with MG. Maybe because it brings me back to the books I read when I was younger, where every character introduction led to a 3-4 sentence description. And head hopping was a given(3rd person Omni I guess). At present, I dont seem to mind, and its done right, I am never lost, and it does allow me to feel all their thoughts.

Right now it works out good for me, as I am writing Upper MG so is always good to see what the market has.

[This message has been edited by Tiergan (edited April 25, 2011).]
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

"The Ranger's Apprentice" sounds interesting I need to keep my eye out for it.

But right now I'm reading two books

The first one is "The Secret Miracle" edited by Daniel Alarcon. It the Novelist's Handbook. Kind alike a panel discussion on writing novels. There's about 15 to 20 different novelists in this discussion though. The two most famous are Stephen King and Amy Tan but there are a couple other well known writers. Some of the others have done only one novel. Basically it is just question like you would get at a panel discussion and a bunch of the writers answer each question. I say a bunch because not every writer answers every question. So far, about half way through, Amy Tan only responses to a few. King does a bit better.

It isn't what I thought it might be but I will read on. Another question was what they expected from the first chapter. I didn't read every response but it sounded like they basically said the same thing for that one. It has to hook the reader. One writer said it has to punch the reader in the stomach and have him on the floor howling in pain but when he gets up he asks for it again.

I will comment on the second book later.
 


Posted by Foste (Member # 8892) on :
 
After reading the Serbian and the German versions of Sapkowski's LAST WISH I decided to give the English one a go. I love it, the translation is masterfully done.

I also got a copy of BLOOD OF THE ELVES which is on my "to be read" pile.
 


Posted by redux (Member # 9277) on :
 
@Foste - I've read Sapkowski's LAST WISH (English translation). Admittedly, I only first heard of it because of the PC game THE WITCHER. I honestly don't think the book would have made it to North America otherwise. I'm glad it did. I loved how Sapkowski integrated myths and legends into a fantasy setting that has a bit of sci-fi elements to it as well.
 
Posted by Foste (Member # 8892) on :
 
@redux

I played the PC game too. What's interesting though is that over here, after the fourth or fifth printing of the book they started putting "The book which inspired the famous video game" on the cover. I got it back in 2008 or so and they are still selling like hotcakes at my local bookstore.


 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Just finished CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare, YA victorian-era fantasy. Very very good, highly recommend. I read it on audiobook, and the voice talent was excellent. Compelling story, it is about a girl who is kidnapped by dark forces who unveil to her a previously unknown extremely rare talent. She's then rescued by the good guys, whose forces she joins. It's not a huge grand story, though. What was interesting about it was how intimate the story feels, very good deep 3rd immersion (author does do some slight POV changes only in a few cases where the MC wasn't present and the other people needed their part of the story moved forward.) It's a really interesting story, and I believe the first in a series. This is an author I will actively seek out additional work by, I can trust her to tell an interesting story.

Also recently finished THE BOY AT THE END OF THE WORLD, by Greg Van Eekhout. I was able to read an Advanced Reader Copy (felt very special about that, too!) It's a MG science fiction. There is almost nothing in that space, so I was excited to read the book. Very interesting story. Book opens with the boy being woken from some kind of stasis. The place he is, an Ark, is under attack and he and the robot who woke him quickly escape. Before long they meet up with a small woolly mammoth (who he calls Protein, which is ironic on many fronts.) The book follows the boy, Fisher, on his journey to try to find other humans in a very strange post-apocalypse US setting. Very very nifty, and the author does a great job in bringing together some details that middle grader readers (boys in particular) would find appealing about how the MC has to find his own food, learn what he's good at (he's a Fisher - he's good at fishing...he was awoken with all kinds of detailed memories about his specialty even while he can't puzzle out what has happened to his race.) It comes out in May and I also highly recommend. Style has quite a lot of education bent to it, this would be a great book for use in a classroom because of that.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

Took me long enough to get to this. I'm half way through the book.

Margaret Ronald's "Soul Hunt". One great example of storytelling. One day soon I may start a post on the writing section about the difference between writing and storytelling but she is good at both.

Just finished a scene where the MC has to swim in a reservoir to find a memory town. You have to read it to see what I mean, even though that's my term so as not to give away too much.

Its her third book in a dark, darker than some, Urban Fantasy world. The MC is a Hound, she can smell out anything or anyone. There's a reason for that even if she doesn't know it at first. Magic smells like gunpowder.

Anyway, I recommend the series. There's more about her on the Great Authors thread.

I forgot KayTi, I have seen "Clockwork Angel" and looked it over. And seems like I have seen the other title somewhere recently,

But it reminds me of that cult short film that was popular quite a few years ago. Something about a boy and his dog. Or come to think of it another book. Rats, can't think of the title now.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited April 29, 2011).]
 


Posted by Wonderbus (Member # 9494) on :
 
So just finished The Wizard of the Pigeons by Megan Lindholm. It's strange this one; I'm not a big fan of urban fantasy and the plot left me cold (the whole 'Mir' thing didn't work for me) but I still kept on reading just because I love her writing so much. That woman really has a way with words.

Worth reading but I preferred the Farseer Trilogy and the Liveship Traders.

Next up Fevre Dream by George RR Martin.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
quote:

So just finished The Wizard of the Pigeons by Megan Lindholm. It's strange this one;


I've looked the book over but I don't recall why I decided not to read it, maybe it was too strange even though I am a fan of UF.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Since, I'm still have big time problems with grammar--I still find it hard to believe that my grammar slipped as much as it did over the years but it did--I bought a new grammar book. Someone thought I have come along way with my grammar but evidently not far enough.

"Painless Grammar' By Rebecca Elliot, Ph.D

She wrote it for younger students. and that is evident how she speaks and the examples she uses, but she also explains certain things better than even the "Idiot's Guide To Grammar". And she points out that even though certain sentences are technically Okay, there might be better way to say it. I think that is helpful for a writer.


So if you are having problems with grammar try it. I don't know if it will do me very much good, nothing seems to, even though I have read the comma section twice and the "Wacky Words We Love To Misuse" section once. I will be reading both a lot of times as well as other sections.


 


Posted by redux (Member # 9277) on :
 
I finished reading Elizabeth Moon's SPEED OF DARK. It won the Nebula Award in 2003.

It's a character study of an autistic individual told from a first person PoV. I found it to be very slow paced and rather dull at times, but that could be that the subject matter simply didn't fully draw me in. I also found the science-fiction aspects of it barely there - it was treated in a very cursory manner, as if an afterthought.

I suppose it was an okay read.
 


Posted by jcavonpark (Member # 9508) on :
 
I just finished John Scalzi's Old Man's War. Fantastic first scifi novel that reads in a very captivating voice. It's military scifi at its best, right up there with Starship Troopers (which is actually Scalzi's inspiration for this book).

I'm currently reading Scalzi's sequel The Last Colony. Pretty good, but not quite as interesting as the first novel, at least not yet. I'm only 70 pages in, but Old Man's War had me hooked much sooner. Time will tell, I suppose.

Not sure what I'll get into after that. I just picked up an anthology of scifi short stories, so I'll probably give that a read first.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I have seen and looked over John Scalzi's Old Man's War and the sequel.

I think I have read other books by him or at least looked them over. I can't recall why I decided not to buy it though.
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Try Joseph Haldeman's The Forever War if you liked Old Man's War. I read those two near each other and they further rekindled my love for military sci-fi (add to it the Vatta's War series by Elizabeth Moon, starting with Trading in Danger, I was in heaven!)

The Ghost Brigades is actually Old Man's War's sequel, so if you're not too into The Lost Colony, could be that you are missing a bit of the connection to the previous story and might like it better after reading Ghost. Zoe's Tale (or whatever the title actually is) is The Lost Colony told from the teenage daughter's POV, which was a good read (better than lost Colony for me, at least, because I write YA sci fi.)

I'm currently reading The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, a recommendation from someone here. Also reading a new short story by Sarah Prineas that she self-published (proceeds benefit a reading/literacy charity.) She's one of my favorite writers, was excited that she released a short ebook! I tell you, short stories are the way to keep readers hooked in between your big releases...
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Just started "Way of the Wizard" edited by JJA.

No one else has mentioned trying for it.

I thought it would have some good stories and a good chance to see what JJA likes. The first two stories are not the usual wizardry fare. Well, they are and they aren't. The basic plots are very well established but there are "ingredients" that gives them something of a twist. The second one has a very interesting tree. When it's writer mentioned a treehouse, in his remarks, I thought of Kathleen and here. A very interesting treehouse. Sorry I don't have the book handy so I can't give his name but he's not as well known as many in the book. He has gotten quite a few stories published even one in Lifepod or was it Castle pod. Another one that succeeds with all of the ones I fail at. But he is good.

And I had to come back to add something I forgot...From the second story we know about Meredith's little secret.

And JJA seems to like darker tales with dark endings...so far anyway.

I will add though that a couple stories I sent had that bit of a twist I mentioned but that probably was all I could say about them.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited May 18, 2011).]
 


Posted by telflonmail (Member # 9501) on :
 
Finishing off a Greg Egan short story collection.
Next will be a short story collection by Daniel Abraham.

I will be going to the library next week to peruse the 2 weeks fiction books and see what has come in (or returned) recently.
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Just finished THE LACE READER by Brunonia Barry, and I'm reading it again.

It's sort of like THE SIXTH SENSE (movie) in that now I know What's Really Going On, I have to go back and see if the author did it right.

And the writing is good enough that I'm willing to reread it almost immediately after I read it the first time (something I have NEVER done before).
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Forgot to post that I am reading "A Hundred Words O Hate" by Thomas E. Sniegoski


It's the latest in his Remy Chandler series. Remy is an angel who has battle fatigue. After helping to put down the Rebellion of The Morningstar he decided he had had enough of war and came to earth to live as a human. Thousands of years later he is a PI who helps with strange happenings. It's rather dark and sometimes bloody but good writing and basically good stories.

Theology gets dumped on its ear at times as Sniegoski uses Biblical characters even though so far Sniegoski has kept away from Jesus and any of the Jewish pillars of faith.
 


Posted by Tiergan (Member # 7852) on :
 
Just finished "Uglies" Scott Westerfield.

Was disappointed to find out it wasnt really a stand alone novel. I knew there were other in the series, but didnt like where it was ended. I felt the need to buy the 2nd book immediately to keep the story going on. I still havent bought it yet though, and started another book I already had, so will have to see if I make it back there.

Am reading now Garth Nix, "Mister Monday"
 


Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
Enthralled by the HBO adaption of George RR Martin's A GAME OF THRONES, I read the book (a first edition had been gathering dust in my library for twenty-four years).

Talk about breaking conventions. It's like looking at a huge medieval tapestry that spreads the length of an old castle hall, eyes jumping from one depiction and set of figures to another. The story just keeps going even when the book ends, multiple threads of the story left open, and some supposed major threads twisitng unexpectedly and cut short. A history, and equallly amoral and unpredictable.

I just finished the second book, A CLASH OF KINGS, this evening at over 720 pages. Still no resolution. Just history marching on; and per the introduction to A STORM OF SWORDS, history will back-track in its opening chapters. This book is over 900 pages long!

I'll read the next two on Kindle if I can stay with it.
(And this is making havoc with my own writing time--but it is joy to read something so well-written and surprisingly different for being superficially so commonplace: knights, knaves, kings and courtly intrigues).

I also read his three novellas in the same universe but which take place 100 years earlier. The first, THE HEDGE KNIGHT, I found to be a masterpiece.

As for Jim Butcher and his THE DRESDEN FILES, I read the first seven but got bogged down on number eight. Admittedly, I found my own novel THE KABBALIST greatly influenced by the concept of urban magician that I did not read any of his books after the first, STORM FRONT, until I'd finished writing the novel. I found them great fun, but the magic system unclear.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

[This message has been edited by History (edited June 22, 2011).]
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

Hmm, Dr. Bob, I hadn't really thought about Butcher's magic system being unclear but I think you have a point. It seems like he lets it out in piecemeal, there's no one place that really explains it all. There are some partial explanations in the first couple of books if I recall correctly. But at one point Harry gathers magic energy while riding on a motorcycle... I forget what number book that is in. And in another he "gathers" kinetic energy from a busy highway a few blocks away. I think that was Harry anyway, it could have been the MC in another writer's world. But as he did that I remember thinking good it looks like he may have taken a step upward to another level of magic use because he figured out something new. But no mention of any advancement. Or even if he can.


 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

Now I am reading. "Late Eclipses" by Seanan McGuire.

I've said this before but I still want to use that name as a character.

Anyway, I started reading this more because of circumstances but I kept reading it because it's hard to put down. I finally finish the last book I was reading, The Remy Chandler book... it wasn't bad at all except for two things I really wish the writer hadn't put in. One was back store but the other was put of the ending.

But back to "Late Eclipses" . Good story, GOOD Story. Funny thing was that after the first two or so chapters I ended up thinking "the writing isn't the best, but the storytelling is" Whoa, where did that come from? I can't point to why I think the writing isn't great. It's not bad, but it may have something to do with the opening. The MC is in a grocery store shopping. She just got paid big time and is looow on food so she, her room mate and a friend, are shopping. Not sure why the friend is there. He just shows up now and then. The room mate is... well you have to read the last book in the series and maybe the one before it. She is very unusual.

But I'm probably wrong about the writing, Seanan won the John W. Campbell award for best new writer.

I said the writing might not be the best but this series is my top number three or number four of all the UF books I read. The writer better not decide to halt the series like two or three others have done. One of those was my number two top UF series.

One last thing for those who have read any of my Bright Lights novel, this is the inspiration for it. I changed a bunch: Daye has been a PI and a Knight for years, she was married once and has a grown daughter who so far isn't doing much in the stories.. .to my disappointment..., Daye has a very powerful Fey Queen who doesn't like her much at all, she grew up with her mother who is now crazy... I'm still not sure what happened to her father but he isn't around at all. There are other differences. There is an Author in here but you might not recognize him especially since there seems to be a romance growing between these two. Plus she tends to be short on money.

The cover is great except I'm not sure about the expression on her face. But the artist knew what was in the book. And I just saw something in the background that makes it even better.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited June 26, 2011).]
 


Posted by aspirit (Member # 7974) on :
 
quote:
But at one point Harry gathers magic energy while riding on a motorcycle... I forget what number book that is in. And in another he "gathers" kinetic energy from a busy highway a few blocks away. I think that was Harry anyway, it could have been the MC in another writer's world. But as he did that I remember thinking good it looks like he may have taken a step upward to another level of magic use because he figured out something new. But no mention of any advancement. Or even if he can.

Although I haven't read all of the Dresden short stories, I think you're mixing up Harry with a character in another series. Harry does use kinetic energy, but I remember it coming from his own motions rather than those of distant objects--with the exception of...let's call it ambient energy. Like all witches and wizards, he can give his power a boost by pulling from the energy around him, if he can focus on that energy well enough. That's the big trick for him, even as he develops his magical skills--he can't do much at all unless he can concentrate enough to exert his will.

To me, one of the most interesting aspects of The Dresden Files is that there isn't one magical system--there appears to be several that interact with each other. This might contain spoilers, so be warned...
Harry learns about different types as magic as he learns about the relationships between humans, the fae, and the various gods (plus some unnerving god-like beings that the no one wants to admit are real). In his universe, there appears to be soul magic (which may or may not be manipulated by gods and might include "faith magic"), wizarding magic (which might have descended from soul magic)) and fae magic (which might be dependent on the existence of souls in our world). Due to the limitations of first-person POV, however, we as readers aren't able to experience much more than Harry does--and he seems at least as confused as other witches and wizards do in regards to the nature of their powers.

Each witch and wizard in the Dresden universe uses magic without understanding exactly why or how it works, forcing each to develop a personal philosophy around its use.

This works for me. Can anyone here describe gravity without contradicting some physicist's belief of why and how it exists? What exactly allows one person to compose a complete symphony in his head while most of us struggle to accurately remember the chords to our favorite songs? Can you explain the physical differences between that musical genius and the average person? I don't think so; we all contemplate only as much as we feel we need to, and I wouldn't expect a decades-old human in an urban fantasy to possess a complete, scientific understanding of how the organic systems of magic functions. He should figure out what he needs to know to move on with his life.

This is partly why I'm hooked on The Dresden Files. The settings are as messy as real life, and the plot depends on characters learning about themselves and life in general as they struggle through each stage. Harry isn't the most reliable narrator, but why should he be? In the eyes of his people, he's a child for the first half of the series and dangerously idealist for much of the second half. This is true for many protagonists throughout the history of fiction.
 


Posted by aspirit (Member # 7974) on :
 
And...I recently finished Moving Mars, a Greg Bear novel I loathed in parts and loved by the end. At this time, I'll have to label it as Good.

Right now, I'm reading Asimov's I, Robot, a collection of short stories connected by a narrated interview. I'm appreciating the way the stories' writing style seems more modern than what he used in Foundation.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I could be mistaken with the the highway but he was riding on the back of the motorcycle while Murphy drove.


As to how magic works. Dresden does know how some of it works... he has explained it every now and then. Sympathetic magic - that scale model of the city he had, plus finding things. is just one. He has a charm on his bracelet that gathers his kinetic energy. I want to steal that idea. I know who could make good use of it.

But your right he uses more than one type and his buddies-enemies use a couple of those you mentioned.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

Started another book...

This one is on my Color Nook.

"Spell Games" by T. A. Pratt.

It's the fourth (I think) in a UF series about Marla Mason. Marla is the head sorcerer of a Felport. In other words she is the secret dictator of the city. She can be a real B... but only when attacked. She usually leaves her people alone and mostly minds her own business- she takes a small cut from most disputable businesses-unless she has to defend the city. She doesn't mind using dirty tricks or sneaking around if that is what it takes to win. Her passion is learning.

Not my favorite and may not even be in my second level but still a good read and and an intriguing world.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Also reading

"Dead Waters" by Anton Strout

Fourth in a UF series. (Seems to be a pattern forming here)

But it might be more paranormal since they deal with ghosts, vampires, zombies and such.

In either case it's the lighthearted story of Simon Canerous. SFRevu says its "detectives working the night shift in the Twilight Zone". Yeah, they work for the city even though in their own department not connected to the police.

Can't find the word but Simon knows the history of something by touching it. His partner can tell if a ghost is around. And there's a romance going on between Simon and an ex-bad gal with all of its ups and downs.
 


Posted by Tiergan (Member # 7852) on :
 
I ended up putting Mr. Monday on ice for a while. Bogged down somewhere. Plus I couldnt get Scott Westerfield's Uglies out of my head so ended up reading the entire series there, Uglies, Pretties, Specials, and Extras. I enjoyed them all
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Finished Eclipses so started "Changes" by Jim Butcher.

Whoa some opening. But has it really been five years since he tired Susan up for a little pre vampire bondage afternoon thrill? Sometimes I think Dresden's time flows faster than ours.


I won't say much else except that those chapters are kinda short. It's been over a year since I last read a Dresden novel but they seem shorter than usual.

If they really are and it's not a trick of my memory, it lights a fire under a part of my brain. A certain ghost writer I know seems to like short chapters.


And Bob??? Almost forgot to miss him. Has he been in the last two books? Seems like it's been quite a while since he was used.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited July 01, 2011).]
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
@Tiergan - I couldn't get into Mr. Monday either, what was it about that book? I was doing audio, but my son, aged 9 and a voracious reader, stopped at almost the same point (sometime after the mc got out of the hospital...)

Funny how that is.

And yeah, Uglies, etc. is so compelling you can't stop reading the other books. I have read a few others of his, too - So Yesterday (loved it), then I forget the titles but two in the vampires in NYC series (not Midnighters, I don't think...it's the other series... Oh, I remember - the first is called Peeps. I don't recall the name of the second but it has one of the best openings ever involving a stratocaster being flung out a window.) He's such a phenomenal writer. Leviathan is great, too, but totally different angle - steampunk, very interesting. Have Behemouth out from the library but haven't read it (Leviathan's sequel.)

I'm currently reading ADVENTURER'S WANTED: SLATHBOG'S GOLD by ML Forman and in total unadulturated love with the book. I'm about 75% through and I find I'm reading it SLOOOOOOWWWWLY because I don't want it to end. I'm rationing myself. It's a great YA/middle-grade fantasy story about a boy who wanders into a shop and replies to an "Adventurer's Wanted" ad in the window, and all sorts of great adventures ensue. The thing I like the best is the upbeat tempo. So many YA/MG books these days are downers, this book is not even though the MC has to handle tricky situations and all. Can't recommend it highly enough, I just hope this ML Forman is still out there writing somewhere, because I could only find one other title by him (her?) -- same series, next book but published one or two or three years ago. Eek.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
KayTI

I think I've seen that book with the rather long title that you are reading. And I understand why you are reading it sooo sloooow. I do the same thing at times even though half the time it doesn't work out quite the way I want it to.
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Just finished John Scalzi's OLD MAN'S WAR and quite enjoyed it. Plenty of conflict, but not really much plot per se; a touch of romance; a lot of characterization; and a slight flavor of Heinlein when I liked him the most (acknowledged by the author).

I believe there is at least one more novel in the series, and this one may have been more set-up in the "what is going on here" sense (hence the not much plot). Anyway, I'm looking forward to spending more time with Captain Perry.
 


Posted by MDBHarlan (Member # 9557) on :
 
I just finished "Heart's Blood" by Juliet Marillier. This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in Ireland. I liked the richness of the story even though the villain was fairly easy to discover.
I recommend her book "Wildwood Dancing" which I liked better. It is a retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses.

Reading the fourth book in the Parasol Protectorate right now called "Heartless". As always it is a fun mixture of steam punk, Jane Austen, and the supernatural. I would not recommend this one to teens however, she can get a little explicit in parts.
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
For lack of a better place to put this...the other day, I saw this book, Fuzzy Nation, by John Scalzi. I wondered what it could be about, thinking of the H. Beam Piper "Fuzzy" series. I looked at the cover---and there was one of Piper's Fuzzies, right there.

A closer look showed that it was some kind of "reimagining" of H. Beam Piper's Little Fuzzy. I was horrified. I know Piper's work has largely fallen into the public domain, but, really, did it deserve this? "Reimagining" a classic? All the pokes at Internet Fan Fiction, and here's something just like it but published by professionals?

I intend to avoid this book like the plague.
 


Posted by Tiergan (Member # 7852) on :
 
I just finished, Michelle Paver's, WOLF BROTHER. I read it which is to say I liked it. It wasn't one of my favorites. The story was entertaining enough, but and I hate to say it, was rather generic feeling. I dont recommend it on the I am not drawn to read book 2. I might, if I find it in one of the used book stores, but I feel no rush to go out and by it, the way I did with Scott Westerfield's UGLIES. I dont mind a basic story, but something has to stand out, and for me, it generally means the character, and I didnt feel it with Wolf Brother.

Right now I am trying to decide where to go for the next read, THE YOUNG SAMARAI, by Chris Bradford. Or maybe its time to give in and read,HUNGER GAMES. But then, that darn Harry Dresdin is summoning me again, so maybe I will go that route.

[This message has been edited by Tiergan (edited July 07, 2011).]
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Robert I've seen the hardcover issue and read what it was about but I missed that it was a "Reimagining". I'm not sure what that means. A retelling???? I figured it was the Fuzzy story told from the POV of a different character. That I would not mind. It's been way too long and I don't recall the names of the Characters so I wouldn't recognize any names if it was a retelling. But that would be.... Not Good.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Tiergan I believe I have seen "Wolf Brother" even though I can't recall what it is about. "Hungry Games" I think had mixed reviews here but I have seen blurbs about the book in my local paper.

As to Dresden Files... Is that "Changes" or "Ghost Story"?

I am in the middle of "Changes" since I wait for the paperback version and I had some books in front of it so it had to wait it's turn even though it was calling me and may have bumped up a couple of books. And even though my wife has never touched the previous Dresden books she started reading this one... Anyway, Talk about changes, egads and since I had to look up the title of "Ghost Story" I know how "Changes" end.


Hmmm, that's the second hero who has been placed in the same predicament that Butcher places Dresden in. Simon Green has done it recently also. Wonder if they belong to the same Pros club and if there will be any other heros done the same way.


That is not the first time I had that thought about writers getting together. John Levitt used a certain creature-one I don't recall hearing about before-- in one of his books, about the same time C. E. Murphy used the same creature. They did different things with the creature. Both books were probably written very close to each other. So did one inspire the other or was there some Newsletter that both writers read? I mentioned that to Levitt but his response either meant he didn't know or he wasn't saying.
 


Posted by Tiergan (Member # 7852) on :
 
quote:
As to Dresden Files... Is that "Changes" or "Ghost Story"?

Neither, I am way back there, still old schooling it. GRAVE PERIL, I think its the 3rd. I am so far back, I get to read them in order, space them out, take my time, enjoy them, and yeah, I can say that. I was a little worried about the first, as I said before, the author hides stuff about Harry's past, and when introducing a character does a mini-info dump on them, but he spins a good tale, and that will keep me coming back for more.


 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Tiergan Wow that is slow but that's okay you have more to enjoy.

There are spoilers in here but I think most are revealed in the first two or three books and any others are not that big.
>
>
>
>
>

But I didn't notice that he hides things about Dresden's past. He may not explain everything in the first couple of books but as far as I can recall we know pretty quickly about how his first mentor tried to kill him and how his first girl friend went along with it. And that certain members of the White Council are out for his blood because of he his mentor was and how Dresden ended up killing the guy. And I believe we know who Dresden's father was and that he raised him for a while. Of course there's something about his mother we don't find out for quite a while but she didn't raise him.

A second of course... there is something else about his first case and how he met Murphy but that is revealed in a short story on http://www.jim-butcher.com Or it used to be, I haven't checked to see if it is still up.
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
My look-see at Fuzzy Nation got as far as page one...where there was a character with the same name as the main human character in Little Fuzzy. My gut instinct tells me it's the same basic plot, maybe with some new characters, but probably with more violence and maybe even swear words.

I'm no prude about this---several of my Internet Fan Fiction pieces amount to rewriting the events of episodes of the Original Series---but I think Piper got it just right the first time and there's no need for change-for-change's-sake, however old and creaking the original story might be.
 


Posted by Tiergan (Member # 7852) on :
 
@LDWriter2 - I didnt start the series until about 6 weeks ago I guess, and I while I use to read entire series at a time, if I came late to them, I have since now learned some control, you read them all at once and then I am waiting like the next guy, begging for the next book to be released. I have several series that I am late to the game on, so I read a couple here, switch over to the other series and read couple.

His hiding things started in the first book, he would bring up his girlfriend dying, then say he didn't want to go there and move on, so we never found out how in the first book. He tends to bring up the past, hint at it, then move on, and release a little over the series. It keeps the reader going, and I have come to expect it and accept it. At first I felt it was a very bad breech of the rules. But, since I have relaxed on the rules during reading and enjoying the story, it has made me find the fun in reading again, something I had lost with my internal editor getting in the way.



 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Robert Next time I'm at the book store I will take a second look as I said I don't recall any of the names in the original so you could be correct. I assumed it was from a different angle and character because why rewrite it??? To update the writing???

I'm just guessing there. Or maybe if it turned out Piper was forced by an agent or editor to make some major changes and this is closer to what he wanted. But somehow I think not.

But If I can remember to take the time maybe I will try to find any blogs and/or forums discussing it.


 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Tiergan I can understand that about wanting to keep things in order and begging him to write the next one.


And I yeah Butcher didn't reveal everything about Dresden's past but I think we get the basics. But as to it breaking a rule... I didn't know there was one that said you had to reveal everything or most things in the first book. If so than Butcher isn't the only one to break that rule. I think half of the UF novels I read and one or two others do that.

It could be one of those rules that you can break once you learn how.

But I also understand about your inner critic even though mine isn't as bad, it still flares up at times. I almost put down a book I thought opened with way too much Tell.
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
@Tiergan - I liked Wolf Brother, but it's definitely written in a style that keeps you at arm's length. I also didn't read further in the series, but I appreciated all the little details of the boy's life, thought that was interesting.

My 9 year old, who has read many of the books you've read recently, LOVED the Young Samurai. I haven't read it yet. I read Hunger Games and really enjoyed the series, but warning - they're kind of a downer as you get into books 2 and 3. I waited til the series was complete and read all at once and I was a bit of a crankpot til I finished, lol. (Please tell me I'm not the only one who reflects the emotions of the books I'm reading! I am always a cranky complaining mess while reading Harry Potter 5, lol.)

I'm considering the Bartimaes (don't think I spelled that right...) books next.

Also enjoying the Michael Scott Alchemyst series (Nicholas Flammel's stories set in modern-day.) We're listening to book 2 and it's very good (this one is called The Magician.) I think there are four out. Highly recommend.
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
I'm reading UGLIES and I am getting very depressed. I guess I just don't like dystopias all that much. And this one, so far, doesn't really make sense. How can this society power itself?

I'll finish it, because I have to for a reading group, but I'm not enjoying myself.

One thing you can say about The Twilight Saga is that it is NOT about a dystopia. Yay for Stephenie Meyers!
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
I'm currently rereading the first three book in Gail Carriger's THE PARASOL PROTECTORATE series in preparation for plunging into the fourth of the series, HEARTLESS.

BTW, KDW, I haven't read UGLIES, but Scott Westerfeld's steampunk series (LEVIATHAN, BEHEMOTH, and coming out this fall, GOLIATH) is a lot of fun--and not dystopian at all. Well, other than the fact that it takes place at the beginning of WWI.
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Thanks, Meredith. For some reason, I happen to like WWI stories.

I am just getting very tired of all the YA dystopian novels out there. Bleh!
 


Posted by Tiergan (Member # 7852) on :
 
quote:
I'm reading UGLIES and I am getting very depressed. I guess I just don't like dystopias all that much. And this one, so far, doesn't really make sense. How can this society power itself?

I still cant stop laughing, and I read this yesterday. While I did fall hard for the series or at least Tally Youngblood, and had to read them all very quickly, I did find parts depressing and some downright creepy.

I would have to agree, strange society, and when I tried to explain to my friends they all thought I lost my mind.
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Glad you got a kick out of my depression, Tiergan.

I am liking Tally more as I read, and her dilemma is becoming interesting, but the whole dystopia craze in YA fiction is beginning to get to me. I can't begin to name all of them, and they just seem to keep coming. and

Give me sparkly vampires if that's the only other choice!
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Kathleen I think you're the second second person to uses the term sparkly vampires... or were you the first one also... is that an official writing term or a new sub-genre of vampire stories?

(ducks and sneaks out the door headed for the special door to elsewhere)
 


Posted by redux (Member # 9277) on :
 
Speaking of sparkly vampires - ever heard of wine drinking yoga vampires? Oh yes, they exist in DISCOVERY OF WITCHES by Deborah Harkness.

I've read up to page 205 and I am bored out of my mind. I don't think I will be able to finish this book. I've picked it up a few times only to put it back down. I find the writing is rather stilted. I was really hoping to read a good book about witches and vampires and this novel received rather good reviews but it seems that it's just not a book for me.
 


Posted by Osiris (Member # 9196) on :
 
quote:
Just finished John Scalzi's OLD MAN'S WAR and quite enjoyed it.

As did I. There are actually three more books in this series: THE GHOST BRIGADE, THE LAST COLONY and ZOE'S TALE. Like many series, I enjoyed the first book the most.


Currently reading Iain Bank's AGAINST A DARK BACKGROUND, so far I'm only mildly interested in it. I've been having a hard time getting into any science fiction reading lately, and maybe I need to branch back into some fantasy or other speculative sub-genre.

I'm also reading THE SCIENCE OF ALIENS by Clifford Pickover as research for my novel.


 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
redux, have you read SUNSHINE by Robin McKinley? Also, Barbara Hambly's written a series about some interesting vampires--the first one was THOSE WHO HUNT THE NIGHT. And I think George R R Martin's FEVRE DREAM is the one he wrote about vampires.

LDWriter2, a lot of people have referred to Stephenie Meyer's "sparkly vampires." That's the reason she came up with for why they can't go out in the sunlight.
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Okay, I finished UGLIES, and it has one of the cleverest "cliff-hanger" endings I've ever seen. Even though I was depressed by a good part of the book, it actually didn't anger me (as many such endings have), and it was set up in such a way that I may change my mind about reading the rest of the series.

Kudos to Scott Westerfield. That cliff-hanger set-up is one I may even recommend to writers in the future. Very impressive. There is a right way (for this reader anyway) to do a cliff-hanger ending after all? Whoda thunk it?
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
@KDW, I really really loved Uglies when I read it, but when you were talking about being depressed by it, I honestly couldn't think of anything much redeeming to say about it when I looked back in my memory. I do still love the stories, though, and read through all three in the primary series, plus Extras which only has a bit of Tally/Shae near the mid/end. FYI, book 2 does go a bit more depressing, at least for Tally.

I'm totally with you on the YA dystopias, though, which is why I'm consciously trying to avoid that with my MG/YA writing - I'm writing space-opera/family-drama, basically, with some humor and lightness to keep the pace moving and the happy endings coming. I'm really enjoying writing these kinds of books, and it's in part because this is the stuff I wish there were more of out there to read! Austin Kleon, the author of the awesome Steal Like an Artist blog post/speech and soon to be book says "write the book you want to read" (his #3 way to steal like an artist.) I've taken it to heart my whole writing career.

I just finished THE HOUND OF ROWAN (a Tapestry Book) which has a slow start but a neat magical system and school ala Harry Potter/Wizard of Earthsea/Percy Jackson kinds of things that I personally enjoy and find compelling.

I also enjoyed the second book of ADVENTURER'S WANTED, even though the author broke most of the rules around things like adverbs, summarizing instead of showing, etc. I think I might not like the writing style if I were to read a lot of this author's work in a row, but I enjoyed how the stories were complete without the main character having to literally be dragged through the coals each time (another of my YA beefs. Life in reality isn't really that depressing, why is so much YA fiction portraying it as such?)


 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
redux:

Not sure about the yoga but I have read about wine drinking vamps. Some books have a few very classy vampires. In story a few vamps were even environmentalists concerned with global warming -- in that story there were werewolves with the same concerns.


These days you can find most any type of vamps. surprised I haven't rad any like a I saw in Mad magazine a huge amount of years ago. Vamp bit into hippie and went on a trip. Always thought that would make an interesting story line.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Kathleen They are sparkly just before they catch on fire?

If you change the old legends about vamps I guess you would have to change why they flame also even though not every one changes that.
 


Posted by KathiS (Member # 9542) on :
 
Went for something slightly different and just finished Bloodlands by Christine Cody. Had a few twists but bogged down in places, enough to make me skip ahead several pages at a time. It was okay. The switch in POV's for each of the two main characters was interesting. I'm not sure how I felt about that.

kls
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Just finished THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE, by Alan Bradley. Not exactly speculative fiction per se, but still somewhat fantastical because it has a first person narrator who is an eleven-year-old (female) chemistry geek.

I can buy the geekiness, but all the description in first person point of view PLUS the introspection just didn't work for me as coming from any eleven-year-old, male or female.

The description, especially, would have worked much better told in third person. As it was, I just couldn't believe in the character (and I think I have a fairly strong willing suspension of disbelief).
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I've been neglecting this these past few months...nothing's really grabbed me...and not much of it has been science fiction...and some of what has is overtly political in nature, unsuitable for discussion on the boards. I'll go over some of 'em and see what I can bring up, though. Something in the next few days---today is kinda busy.
 
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Recently finished Gail Carriger's HEARTLESS. Reread the first three before reading it. Good as always.

Now I'm back into the RANGER'S APPRENTICE series.
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Okay, three books, all non-fiction:

The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War, Andrew Roberts. World War II has been written about a lot, but also a good deal of time has passed to give perspective, nearly all of what was once classified information is now open to historians...and a lot of the older histories in English gave little weight to events on the Eastern Front. A very good book. (Less weight is given here to the war with Japan, though.)

The Kennedy Detail, Gerald Blaine with Lisa McCubbin. This is, again, another "book on..." something, in this case the Kennedy assassination...but a lot of utter nonsense has been written about this subject, and this deals with the facts, as well as with people who were actually involved in the situation. Well worth a look.

Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970, David Browne. In some ways a rather odd book---seems to me a number of important musical stories of the year are left out or mentioned in passing (Motown and Eric Clapton come to mind)---but a lot of the info, even about the Beatles, was wholly new to me. (A brief gratuitous swipe at today's politics towards the end lowered my opinion of the book, though.)
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

Boy Robert you have a varied educational type reading. Not that that is bad. Sometimes I wish I had the time to read more of that type of stuff but I barely have time to read what I do now. Someone even gave me a biographical book too.


But I'm way late with what I am reading... I finished it tonight. I kept forgetting the title when I came to this thread. And it's a very simple one too.

"Spirit Dances" by C. E. Murphy. I mentioned on another thread that she is a wonderful storyteller and I would like to be considered like her, since I've been told by Dean that I am a natural born storyteller. At least for me she weaves a story so well it's hard to explain. I finished the book quicker than I wanted to.

And the ending for this one... egads... The very last sentence is a shock I groaned twice after reading it... and, hmmm, well I just thought of this, I guess I'm in shock and awe over it.

Oh, I should say this is the sixth book in the Murphy's Walker series. She has out five series now, I think. I don't know if she still has a day job but she does more than one book a year.

And she's one that can break rules. One of the Walker books has Walker waking up in the opening. Oh speaking of that-- yes these two are related-- there is one criticism I have of Murphy. Walker has a big emotional scar form something that she did, and what resulted from that act, since high school. It's mentioned in every book but one day it's gone. As far as I can recall with no explanation. well, there might be one but it's not stated as such. So personally I wish Murphy hadn't totally changed it but the way it seemed to be just forgotten made it worse... to my POV.



 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I buy more books than I get around to reading...but, someday, maybe...I'll clean or sort or something, find a book I'd forgotten about, old or new, read or unread, and read it then and there. (Just a couple minutes ago I was digging through an old pile of TV Guides---the good, digest-sized kind---looking for an article about the miniseries "The Temptations" from 1998. Found it, too.)

I'm interested in lots of things, and the odd corners and bits and pieces therein. A general history or specific biography might mention some person or event or something (for example, a biography of Bing Crosby mentions an amateur golfer called "the Mysterious Montague)...then if I see a book involving that subject, I'll pick up a copy (six or seven years after reading that Crosby biography, a book about the Mysterious Montague turned up in stores.)

Incidentally, it's expensive. My reading habit costs several hundred dollars a months---but I'm prosperous and can sustain it, at least at the moment. If I fell on hard times, I'd be forced to reduce it---and, perhaps, catch up on the books I've bought and haven't read.
 


Posted by MattLeo (Member # 9331) on :
 
I just finished the non-fiction book, "The Man in the Rockefeller Suit" by Mark Seal, about the "Clark Rockefeller" case.

I have some issues with the writing style, but the story is compelling: a penniless teenage German exchange student comes to the United States, and spends the next thirty years conning people into thinking he's a rich aristocrat.

There is something at once epic and petty about this man's life story. Despite the writing flaws, I highly recommend this book, to authors of urban fantasy especially.
 


Posted by Sakari (Member # 9598) on :
 
Last ones finished I can remember:

- Containment, Christian Cantrell
-- SF, very good! (heavily recommended if computers/coding is near your heart)

- Blink, Malcolm Gladwell
-- Okay, didn't like as much as Outliers, but there are interesting bits here. Recommended if you like .. Gladwell

- Zero Sight, Justin Shier
-- Another surprise; Good, modern day fantasy

- Siege of Titan, Michael G. Thomas
-- SF, too clichéd to my taste

- Lamentation, Ken Scholes
-- Fantasy, okay++, feels mostly original, I might read the sequels too

- The 97th step, Steve Perry
-- SF, begins with the traditional "boy in distress", ends a bit more satisfactorily. Okay+. I read The Man Who Never Missed after this, and I liked it a bit better.

- No Cure for Cancer, Denis Leary
-- Stand-up routine, dark humor, couple of pearls but mostly I didn't laugh. Not for sensitive people.

- Sandman Slim: A Novel, Richard Kadrey
-- Modern-day fantasy, revenge/hero-stuff, I liked

Sakari
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Boy, Sakari you have been busy reading. And I think I've seen only a couple of those but that's fine I don't have to see every book.

But I am reading "Con & Conjure" by Lisa Shearin, Fifth in the Raine Benares series. Raine is a cool lady. Seeker from a notorious pirate family even though she might be the only Benares to have an honest job. Well, non-pirate job, she has stolen things back for people. She has a skill for finding Trouble.

The series is fantasy, obviously, set in a world with maybe 17 century tech. Somewhere around 16 to 18 anyway. I relate it to a sort of Garrett, by Glen Cook, type of fantasy.

Shearin is a very good writer and the world is well thought out. However I must say that even though I have been eagerly waiting to read the book... it's been sitting in a stack for two months calling out to me to read it... it doesn't quite capture me like C.E. Murphy's stuff does and one or two others. I recommend it, I'm reading it too quickly... very good but as I said the storytelling isn't quite as good as Murphy. Which might not be saying much.


Check out Shearin's store. Some great stuff from the books there even though not so much for guys. http://www.lisashearin.com

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited August 10, 2011).]
 


Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH, ed. by GRR MArtin and Gardner Dozois.

One of my favorite all-time writers is Jack Vance.
Few, if any, have as great a mastery of world-building and vocabulary (both invented and real) and evocation of mood.

His THE DYING EARTH tales are some of my favorites, and this large volume of master fantasy writers delving into his infamous world of rare and delectable delights as the sun fails are a treat.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I've enjoyed Jack Vance also even though I haven't seen any of his books for a while.


THE DYING EARTH sounds like two or four different books I've read, so I'm not sure if I've read that one even though I think so.

Hmmm, Since they go back a ways in time, they might be cheap on the e-books side of Barnes and Noble.
 


Posted by Crane (Member # 9586) on :
 
I've just finished The Clockwork Rocket and Zendegi two very different books by Greg Egan. The Clockwork Rocket is a very mathy, but very rewarding book about an alien physicist in a universe where time and space are the same. Its so brilliantly imagined. Despite the heavy theoretical science, the plot is actually character driven. I don't know how he came up with an alien race that is so very very strange and yet so easy to become emotionally involved with. So very well done. Egan does a fine job of walking readers through the math, but he also has a helpful website where he talks more about it.

Zendegi is about the moral and social implications of A/I and V/R. Before you dismiss it with 'not that old horse, again,' I beg you to pick it up. The second to the last chapter made me weep. Can't remember when I last read a novel with such realism when it comes to characters. That one of the story lines is about the development of artificial intelligence while the author is himself developing artificial people (the characters) so brilliantly gives me a sense of vertigo. I heard a rumor that he'll give us a sequel. In the mean time I'm focusing on getting my hands on everything this man has ever written. And imvho, so should you.

Egan's character's are so strongly moral, you have to love them. I felt a real sense of loss when I finished these books.
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Currently reading Kiersten White's PARANORMALCY. Fun story so far.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
quote:

Currently reading Kiersten White's PARANORMALCY. Fun story so far.

The title sounds intriguing. Is it another YA book?


And I am also reading.
Simon Green's "From Hell With Love" part of his Secret Histories series. I think the series title is a bit flamboyant for this series but it mostly fits.

Nice read if you like different; kinda dark and Macabre but fun.
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
@ LDWriter: Yep. PARANORMALCY is YA, about a maybe-not-so-normal teenager who wields a pink, rhinestone-encrusted taser while working for the International Paranormal Control Authority.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

I hope that's a girl.


And it sort of sounds like a new TV show. "Alphas" Which sounds like a story I read in the first Jim Baen universe anthology. I'm pretty sure there's a second but probably not a third.


I'll look it over if I see it.
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
@ LDWriter: Um, yep. In a way, you can pretty much assume that from it being YA. Sorry.

For some reason, although MG is more open, almost all YA is writeen (or at least published) for girls. Boys seem to graduate straight to the adult shelves.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

So this series I've heard about that takes place after everything falls apart Dangerous Games or what the actual title is, is part of it I think. Anyway all that was written for girls?

Or since it teen girls or tweens is it writeen for girls ?


Sorry, I had to say something about that spelling.
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
You mean HUNGER GAMES?

Well, the protagonist is a girl. Beyond that, I really can't say. Not that into dystopian.

ETA: Oh, and first person present tense makes me a little nuts, too.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited August 27, 2011).]
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

Yeah, that's it.

Oh and dystopian is a new word for me. I'm sure I've heard it before but not as a major genera.

Almost want to write a story or novel in a world that would fit.
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
HUNGER GAMES is an equal-opportunity read. It's got enough action and violence to entertain most male readers. Most of my friend's sons who are active readers have read it (my caution: I think it's best suited for kids in grades 7 and up, as it gets progressively darker as the series goes on.)

Dystopia is a major trend in YA and children's publishing right now. There have always been dystopian stories (utopias gone wrong, very often) but there is a lot more than usual right now.

I've recently finished book one and two of THE ACADEMY series by YS Lee. FANTASTIC. These are YA stories set in Victorian England about a girl who joins an all-female spy ring. These are mysteries and I think have a classic mystery structure (I don't generally read mysteries though so I'm not sure) but the attention to detail the author gives, and the way she conveys the realities of the era through little details is really interesting. She also is not so enamoured of her research that she over-shares, the details come out in plot-important ways, which I really respected as a writer who tries to do the same.

Very good books. I highly recommend both. The second one is called The Academy: The Body at the Tower. I've blanked on the name of the first.


 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
So YS writes YA?


But I like those type of spy mysteries, so if I can find the books I will take a closer look.


I would like to write an academy story of some type. Probably fantasy--right probably urban fantasy. Maybe a YA UF but not YS's.


[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited August 30, 2011).]
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Let the first of the month slip by without posting any comments. But here's something...

I found out from a correspondent awhile back that this outfit called Adventure House has been reprinting some of the old SF pulp magazines. (Apparently the copyrights have lapsed.) Eventually I broke down and ordered five "back issues," more-or-less at random. Three issues of Planet Stories from 1940-1941, a Startling Stories from 1940, and something called Out of This World Fantasy Magazine (I'd seen a picture of the cover in one of the SF picture books and it intrigued me).

I've been reading 'em on and off. I'm impressed by odd things---for instance, the ads tell a story themselves, of a culture long-vanished---and some of the letters-to-the-editor, particularly one by Isaac Asimov that he even mentioned in his memoirs.

But the stories---well, except for being jaw-droppingly astonished by one by Ray Cummings that seemed so badly-written I couldn't believe it was accepted, they're pretty good.

Sometimes it's a good idea to reconnect with your past---our past---the shared past of the SF world. And this is a good way to do it. (Beware, they're a good deal more expensive than the fifteen or twenty cents printed on the reproduced covers. But they're still a good buy.)
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

I finished the two books I was reading and I have continued to read CONVERGENCE, a nice little YA book by someone we know and love.

I stated it that way because I read the first couple of chapters when I got the book and now I'm reading on.

Not badly done, definite YA but I wonder why Captain Kirk would come back in time to teach an orientation. I also wonder if something is happening behind the scenes, with the occupations some of the citizens have and how everyone stares at the MC when she does something with the computer. That includes other computer geeks. Are they just being impolite or do they suspect she might discover something? We shall see.

I still want to give a copy as a gift, if I can find anyone who reads e-books. That isn't as easy as expected.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited September 04, 2011).]
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Robert. You're not the first one to say something like that.

I found some E-books on Barnes and Noble made up of short story sets written way back when, I've thought seriously about buying. Fifty stories for two or three dollars, all written by the original Masters. E.E. Doc Smith, Wells, Burroughs etc.. One of these days I will get around to it.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited September 04, 2011).]
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
The one "classic SF" text I downloaded to my Nook Color---selected public-domain works of H. Beam Piper---proved a problematic file, difficult to navigate or locate individual works in. (I've got a file of a Jules Verne work---in French, yet---but haven't tried much with it other than the first few pages.)

I will problably do others, maybe with better luck. The e-reader doesn't really replace the book-as-artifact in my reading habits, but it sure does have its uses.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
You have a point. I still buy paper books- my next note will probably mention the paper book I am currently reading- but I think it would be hard to find those anthologies that I referenced. Maybe via the internet but that could still take time. On top of that it sounded like some of the sets were put together for B&N or e-publishing in general, so they don't exist in paper.


I like the idea because I don't recall hearing that most of those old Masters did any short stories so reading them would be cool.



 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

Along with the previous book I mentioned, Convergence, I started "Phoenix Rising" A ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novel. A streampunk story that takes place in the later years of the 1800s. I'm not sure which year exactly, in a couple of places there a lot of dates flying around.

And that first sentence is something else. I've warned people away from first sentences like that. But it is a different book.

Still over all it is enjoyable. Kinda a Urban Fantasy- paranormal meets James Bond or the Avengers. For those old enough to have watched either of the two Avengers series. The female MC is kinda of a contradiction though. When handling the bad guys she is brave, resourceful, thinks quickly, out of the box, etc. but when it comes to her boss and new emotional situations-not just affairs of the heart- she is shy and unsure.

If you like something quirky or just something different... pick it up.

Here is a trailer for the book. They did a great job except for perhaps her outfit. You have to read the book to understand that,

http://tinyurl.com/3byv7hd


[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited September 05, 2011).]
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

Well, now I can say that I'm reading Wotf 27. Since I had to order it anyway I decided to download it to my Nook. Cheaper that way too. Started the first story not bad at all even though melancholy so far. And the illustration that goes with it shows melancholy also.

But the opening line of the first story blows my usual comment for Firsts out of the water. The thing is long and a bit on the complicated side. I need to see how the others begin but usually short stories open with short and to the point sentences. And that was a long author's blurb.

The descriptions of the stories make some of them sound very interesting. I think I will enjoy most of them.
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Just finished THE FLOATING ISLANDS by Rachel Neumeier.

Pretty good. Fascinating premise, but the characterization could have been a bit stronger.
 


Posted by Delli (Member # 9202) on :
 
Have just finished A CLOCKWORK ORANGE by Anthony Burgess. Wow, it's a crazy (scary and frightening) kind of awesome. Highly Recommended

Other books I have recently read and would also Recommend:

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHTTIME by Mark Haddon. Told from the perspective of an autistic teenager. Pretty well done.

ROOM by Emma Donoghue. Told from the perspective of a five year old. Very well done - you definitely hear it in the voice of a child - even though he doesn't understand some of the stuff he sees, the reader does.

WOTF XXVI - Amazing short stories. Am definitely in awe of those who can think up awesome original ideas and write as well as this.

THAT LEVIATHAN, WHOM THOU HAST MADE by Eric James Stone. Great little novella. Original and compelling.

ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell. Pretty cool little novel from the perspective of farm animals - leaves me not liking pigs very much Very well written - as expected.

LIFE EXPECTANCY by Dean Koontz. I would class this as Good. Quite a light read - easy to breeze through. Not super thought provoking but a nice read nonetheless.

Oh man, I've read more books than I thought I had in the last while.

BATTLEFIELD EARTH: A SAGA OF THE YEAR 3000 by L. Ron Hubbard Not Recommended. I've put not recommended over not impressed for the reason that I wouldn't recommend this to anyone based purely on the length. I have only made it half way through before giving up I'm sorry to say. That is not to say I didn't enjoy the first half - it just got too long and I got a bit bored with it and wanted to move on to something else.

NEVER LET ME GO by Kazuo Ishiguro. I'm wavering between Good andNot Impressed on this one. Nice idea but the story just seemed to drag a bit.

CONTAINMENT by Chris Cantrell. Good. A light read. Nothing really thought provoking but it was ok. However, computer programming and code is not really my thing.

WATER FOR ELEPHANTS by Sara Gruen Recommend

THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak and LIFE OF PI by Yann Martel Highly Recommended. Loved both of these stories.

DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? by Philip K Dick Highly Recommended Loved it.

STORM FRONT by Jim Butcher, BLUE by Lou Aronica and SWITCHED by Amanda Hocking Good

PATHFINDER by Orson Scott Card Recommended

WISE MANS FEAR by Patrick Rothfuss Highly Recommended


 


Posted by Corky (Member # 2714) on :
 
Delli, you were aware, I hope, that Orwell's ANIMAL FARM is about the Russian Revolution and that the pigs represented the communists who created the Soviet Union?
 
Posted by Delli (Member # 9202) on :
 
Yes, I was aware of that Don't worry - I didn't think it was "just" a story about farm animal politics (though I did find it interesting the personalities and mannerisms he assigned to each animal species) not liking pigs was supposed to just be a funny quip Have just started reading 1984.
 
Posted by Corky (Member # 2714) on :
 
Oh, good. Just checking.

Edited to add:

I suspect Orwell didn't like pigs either.

[This message has been edited by Corky (edited September 07, 2011).]
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

Boy, a long list and with variety there. Neither of which is bad.


But you have older political novels there, again which isn't bad.

Battlefield though I liked. One reason was the length. I was going through books much faster back when I read it and I was happy it would last a while. The story wasn't bad either even though it seemed to be almost two or three stories in one. Like it should have been a trilogy.


WATER FOR ELEPHANTS I've seen all over the place. What is it about?


And with STORM FRONT. All I will say is that you are in for a wild ride with that series. Good tales and the writing isn't bad --- it's gets even better. I'm frustrated that the next paperback Dresden book won't be out 'til Dec. That publisher doesn't realize he's suppose to cut the time between hardback and paperback not make it longer.
 


Posted by Delli (Member # 9202) on :
 
Perhaps I will have another crack at the second half of Battlefield another time. As I said - it wasn't a bad story, just that I needed a break from it. And like you, I used to breeze through books - but nowadays, I don't get much chance for uninterrupted reading with two under two! So shall I save Battlefield for once they have both left home?

Water for Elephants is a historical novel, a love story (but not a romance) from the POV of a man who runs away to join the circus. Quite well done, I thought. Interestingly, Sara Gruen wrote it during NaNoWriMo - however, I believe she had done years of research before doing so.

I haven't actually started on the next Dredsen book but when I get time I will! Am focussing on Sci Fi classics at the moment. All books I should have read but haven't!

All these books I have read since getting my Kindle - it has been so awesome! So convenient. Imagine going back in time and telling people that you could wish for a book and it would appear instantly in your hands. They would think it was magic
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
quote:

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHTTIME by Mark Haddon. Told from the perspective of an autistic teenager. Pretty well done.


I came back here to comment on this because today I recalled a book I read years ago that was from the POV of an autistic adult. Not the same book however. The one I read took place in the future when things fall apart. No real government and new societies and groups had formed.
 


Posted by Tiergan (Member # 7852) on :
 
Just read Noah Lukeman's HOW OT WRITE A GREAT QUERY LETTER.

Not sure how I feel about it. It was sharp and concise. I guess its the 3 paragraph approach that has me concerned. Even more than that but the 3 sentences only for the plot paragraph. Also mentioned comparing your book to another published book or film.

Any thoughts?
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 

I've written two query letters years ago. And I've seen the book advertised even though I haven't read it and I've forgotten who he is to write that book.

But depending how long they are I would think three paragraphs would be a page, which is how long a query should be.

A three sentence synopses seems a bit short but in a query you wouldn't be able- see above sentence on length- do much more than that anyway.

Does he say you absolutely have to do it that way or is that more of a model?

 


Posted by Tiergan (Member # 7852) on :
 
quote:
Does he say you absolutely have to do it that way or is that more of a model?

I got the impression he felt that you had to. Of course there are exceptions but this was the first book I read where it seemed so concrete. Its a different approach then what I have been trying so I think I will give it a try. The entire query letter will come out to about 1/2 a page which is what he feels is ideal.


 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Tiergan, also check out this book by Elana Johnson. It's a free download on her site.

Three sentences just won't work for speculative fiction where you have at least some world building to explain as well as the plot.

IMO, no prescriptive approach is going to work for every story. You have to pick up a few hints here and a few there and fit together what works for you.
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
I tried pitching a novel to a science fiction editor friend using the "comparing your book to another published book or film" approach, and he gently told me that my pitch made the novel sound derivative (and regardless of the impression we get as writers that publishers want "more of the same, only different," derivative is not so good).

So, that approach may work for mainstream novel queries, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it for science fiction and fantasy novel queries.

It may also work for movie pitches, by the way. As I understand it, "high concept" means saying your movie script is "THIS GREAT MOVIE plus THAT GREAT MOVIE" and derivative is not so bad.

As Meredith says, some things work for some genres, and some don't work as well.
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I always heard that worked in Hollywood---"every new thing has to be expressed in terms of things that came before," and so on. But I don't know how the print publishers feel about it. A lot of what we read (or see on the stands) is derivative---can anybody really say anything new about vampires?---whatever the editors might claim.

*****

Something in passing---way back in 2008 on the first page of this, snapper gives a "Not Recommended" to Robert Conroy's 1901---which I really liked. Not to go into too much detail, but I gather the story is based on actual battle plans made by Imperial Germany.

I've enjoyed Conroy's other alternate history books, and, curiously, so did my father, who saw them lying around my house one day and took 'em home to read.
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Just finished MATCHED by Ally Condie. It was excellent, recommend. It's a YA dystopia. What I found interesting was how the author manipulated the limited point of view of the main character to have us, the readers, brought along on the journey to see how the existing Society was oppressing the main character and all of those she holds dear. The fundamental conflict is a love story conflict, but the book was recommended to me by a friend's 16 year old son, so I believe there's plenty in it that would appeal to males and females.

Matched opens with the main character getting ready for her Match banquet, where she'll learn who her Match will be with all the other 17 year olds from her borough. Unlike the other kids, though, her match is someone she already knows, a boy she grew up with who is already dear to her. Later she looks at her microcard with her match's info, which she doesn't need since she already knows him, and for a brief moment a different boy's face pops up as her match. Problem is, she ALSO knows him.

So the main conflict begins with Cassia's curiosity about the other boy, Ky, growing, all while she's starting to notice the oppressive aspects of her Society, such as the three pills they're all required to carry at all times (red "for emergencies", blue that can provide nutrition for three days, and green to calm down) or the fact that at 80, you die. Everyone does.

The pace is quick and I found myself enjoying the way the author unveiled the story so much that I slowed down in reading it, which is something I do sometimes when I want a book to last. I felt the characters were very believable, and even though it's a love story, really it's a rebellion story, and that made it very very interesting.
 


Posted by JenniferHicks (Member # 8201) on :
 
Just finished: HEARTLESS by Gail Carriger, the fourth Parasol Protectorate book -- Victorian paranormal steampunk. I enjoyed it but not as much as the previous books in the series.

Reading now: THE MAGICIANS by Lev Grossman, who recently won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. The ideas aren't new, but I very much like his writing style. I've found myself reading whole passages aloud to my husband because I liked the imagery.
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Ooh Jennifer - tell us more when you finish the book, MAGICIANS is on my short list. So is THE NIGHT CIRCUS, which I have heard raving reviews of in several places, including a bookstore owner who has literally read everything.


 


Posted by redux (Member # 9277) on :
 
Kathleen - I just wanted to thank you for recommending "Those Who Hunt At Night" by Barbara Hambly. I just finished it and it was great to read a book about vampires that kept the myth of these monsters dark and creepy. I thoroughly enjoyed it!


 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
I'm glad to hear that, redux. I think Barbara Hambly is a great writer and would willingly recommend anything she has written.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Oh, Humbly is a great writer even though I haven't read that one. Years ago I read her first trilogy, I think it was three books, and found her a great writer and story teller.

Actually I kind forgotten her since I haven't seen her stuff for a while. But the hunting one is one I've seen.
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Yeah, I remember Hambly's early writings, though somewhere along the line I dropped the ball and stopped reading...as I recall, some of her fantasies had kind of "framing stories," something put in place around the Quest at the center, and I remember the frame better than the picture...

On the other hand, my all-time favorite Star Trek novel, which I've read and re-read, is her Ishmael...
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Oh I forgot she wrote that one. I read it.

But if you read Star Trek what do you think of the Strange New Worlds anthologies?
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Don't think I have, but I'm not sure...I stopped buying 'em awhile back---and had little-to-no interest in anything that wasn't The Original Series---and some of them bitterly displeased me in the reading, especially some multi-part ones that involved multiple series casts. (I heard once that a pro writer---no names, 'cause I never got any---wouldn't write any more because of the restrictions that the publisher and / or the studio put on the plotting and writing and characterizations thereof.)

A couple years back, I did pick up a book that was a "guide" to the books...it was pleasing enough.

As for Hambly and Star Trek...I believe she wrote at least three others that I read...I didn't like one Original Series novel and one Next Generation novel, but I did like one other Original Series novel whose name escapes me.
 


Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Currently reading Eric James Stone's short story collection, REJIGGERING THE THINGAMAJIG AND OTHER STORIES.
 
Posted by JenniferHicks (Member # 8201) on :
 
I just finished THE MAGICIANS by Lev Grossman. I love the premise: What if the fantasy world you fell in love with as a kid was real and you could go there? I very much like Grossman's writing style. But the protagonist is miserable and self-destructive, as are most of his friends. If you can't stomach a non-sympathetic protagonist, this book is not for you. For everyone else, RECOMMENDED.

Now I'm reading THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST by Stieg Larsson.
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
GOLIATH by Scott Westerfeld. Love this series. I'll be sorry to see it go, since GOLIATH is the third of the trilogy--LEVIATHAN, BEHEMOTH, and GOLIATH.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Jennifer is that Hornet nest book in the same series as the girl with the dragon tattoo?


Oh, I saw a book listed in my local paper. I think it's by a local writing but I'm not sure about that. Anyway the title is "The Dragon With A Girl Tattoo".


But I 'm reading "Uncertain Allies" by Mark del Franco. Fifth in a UF series with a bit of a twist. About a hundred years ago most everyone in Fairye was transported to earth. They have no idea how or why and they couldn't get back. So now all Fey are part of human culture even though they have their own laws and lands etc.. And of course there are rich snobs, poor crooks etc just like in human culture. Some are addicted to drugs and such. There is one main skid row for the low life fey. That is where our hero works.

Mark has another series set in the same universe but with different characters and in a different city. I haven't been able to figure out if it's the same time frame or not. So far there's been no references about what happened in the other city even though some events would have made the News.


 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
The book I was most taken with this month: Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem, Carol Delaney. It takes two unusual directions: (1) Columbus's motives for sailing west to try to find the Indies weren't what we usually think, and (2) Columbus himself has been charged with numerous crimes against humanity---long after he died---but an examination of the record shows he didn't commit them and tried to stop others from committing them.

I'm in the middle of a new biography of John Lennon---it claims to be "definitive," but I don't think so. Some of the statements about music (Lennon's, the Beatles's, and others) are questionable. But there are a number of points where the writer takes what someone said about something and puts it next to what someone else said about the same thing, trying to iron out the contradictions.
 


Posted by JenniferHicks (Member # 8201) on :
 
"The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" is the third book in the Millennium trilogy, which started with "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." Each book picks up exactly where the previous one left off. I read the second book months ago, so I'm having some difficulty remembering what happened.

[This message has been edited by JenniferHicks (edited October 01, 2011).]
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Jennifer my local paper had a rather long blurb about that trilogy a few months ago. Supposedly it ends by revealing why she was going through so much abuse.

You probably haven't gotten that far but it's something I'm curious about but not enough to read the whole thing to find out.


Oh and have you seen any of the movies?
 


Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Well, strictly speaking, I heard the trilogy is, in effect, unfinished. The writer is deceased; he died before the English translations began to appear. The third volume is, I gather, rougher than the first two. There are notes for more volumes, but they're held up by a dispute over the estate.

(Haven't read them; heard nothing but good about the series.)
 


Posted by JenniferHicks (Member # 8201) on :
 
Hornet's Nest does feel rougher than the previous two books so far, but even Larsson's unpolished work is better than what a lot of writers can do. I haven't seen the movies. I am interested in watching the American versions. In my reading, I keep seeing Daniel Craig as Blomkvist.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Hmmm, wonder if he got to the reason in that case. I haven't read or heard anything about there even being a reason since that blurb.

Evidently the movies are talked about in France--I think-- with the graphic scenes especially one certain scene.
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
I just finished an ARC of APOTHECARY, a new MG/YA book set in 1950s England against the backdrop of the cold war. A girl meets a boy who is the son of an Apothecary, and has no desire to follow in his father's footsteps. That is, until his father goes missing and he and the girl find a book that gives recipes for all kinds of crazy potions (like the avian one that turns them into birds...)

They get ensnared in a plot to prevent the Soviets from testing a nuclear bomb (sort of, it's more involved than that.) It's written with a quick pace, nice story, fun and interesting. I think it'll be a hit with kids in the 9-14 yr old range, but is plenty interesting to history buffs who are interested in that post-WWII era.

The book is out sometime this month. (I'm friends with the school librarian and we do a big book fair each fall, so particularly in the fall, but all year long she gets ARCs from the major indie bookstore nearby and I get to read some some of the time, yay me!) It carries many illustrations and the page treatments are interesting, which adds to the appeal for that age range.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
ARC of APOTHECARY sounds interesting. It would have been the type of story I would have read at that age. In fact I did read a couple along the same lines without the magic.

The illustrations would be interesting too, depending on how they were done.


I wouldn't mind an app that would add illustrations. I say that because there is one that gives details about the book's history and if it is historical some info that goes along with real history at that time. So I thought why not drawings? Of course there could be copyrights to deal with and they would have to choose which books to do. But some classics originally had illustrations.


Anyway, back to reading. If I see that book I may even read it now. I have read some YA and younger books as an adult.
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
LD - ARC = Advanced Reader Copy, meaning the book isn't quite for sale yet (it is slated to go on sale this month but I don't know what date, the book I have says only "October 2011." Sometimes an ARC or an advanced reader galley - but ARG doesn't have the same ring to it - will specify the exact date but usually they seem to be a bit vague about it, I'm sure this sort of thing shifts in publishing.)

So anyway, the book is called simply APOTHECARY. It is a nice book, enjoy!
 


Posted by Delli (Member # 9202) on :
 
Have just finished THE MAGICIANS and THE MAGICIAN KING by Lev Grossman. Definitely recommended - these are great books. I wonder if there will be more of them? I hope so, although Lev Grossman does call THE MAGICIAN KING a sequel rather than part of a series or trilogy or the like. Highly Recommended.

Have also read recently MATCHED by Ally Condie. It was ok - great ideas but kinda left me hanging a bit too much at the end. I don't mind there being loose ends to tie up in further books but it felt as if this book didn't have much of an ending at all. I'd still rate it Good though.

Also BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP by S J Watson. Not a super read I think I'm going to go with Not Impressed. A darker version of the movie 50 FIRST DATES. You can get to end alright though and it's not bad as such. Just kinda one of those books you read when you have nothing else to read. It was so forgettable that I saw the title on my Kindle and had no recollection of reading the book - it was only when I went into the file and started reading the first chapters that I clicked.

THE FOREVER WAR by Joe Haldeman. Highly recommended. Classic Sci Fi and very interesting.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Reading "Dead Waters" by Anton Strout again. I say again because I started reading it a while back before it's time. I let it cut in line but finally decided to put it down and wait until I got to it's space in line.


Charlaine Harris says reading Strout's stuff is like being caught in a wild pinball game.

This series started as a light hearted story that was a bit satire-ish but it's kinda left most of that behind. Not totally just mostly.
 


Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Just finished LEGEND, another ARC (actually an "Advanced Uncorrected Galley" in this case) for a book that is being released in early November, 2011.

This book is phenomenal. I predict great things for it. It's the side-by-side story of Day and June, two teens in a future bleak dystopian police state around LA. It's a solid YA read, but kids who were comfortable reading Hunger Games (at least book 1) would be fine with this book (in my opinion that's 7th-8th grade and up, but I know many 5th graders who have read Hunger Games.) There is quite a lot of brutality/violence, but it's done without glorification, without a lot of gore. It's still an intense read, like HG, the future society seems really unbalanced, really unfair for one of the protags. It's interesting to watch the perspective of the other shift as she learns more about the dark side of the ruling class.

It's a page-turner, lots of action and excitement and tension as the characters meet under false pretenses and begin to trust each other.

Very very good read, highly recommend.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
What form does an ARC take?


When that book comes out remind us.
 


Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Just finished Maggie Stiefvater's LINGER. Good, but not as good as the original. Four point of view characters, all written in first person, gets just a wee tad confusing. That's aside from the )$%^* green ink the thing is printed in.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Just returned from vacation, where I picked up a number of books---about half of which I haven't gotten around to reading. They were of varying quality, all the way down to one I read the first two pages and would read no more. Even wandered into a used bookstore and bought some old SF / fantasy titles.

But there was one gem among them all, one that stood out from all the others. Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest, by Wade Davis. This covers the attempts to climb Mount Everest in the early 1920s---but it's much more than that. We get good biographies of a bunch of interesting people, courses on mountaineering and the difficulty of operating where the air gets thing, the political and cultural history of Tibet and India, experiences in World War I---even down to where and when and why George Mallory delivered his famous line, "Because it's there." It's meticulously researched, all the way.

The ending is unhappy, in a way...but the journey is worthwhile, interesting and, at times, moving. I can't recall what else I've recommended this year---my computer is acting up and it's difficult to navigate around the web, so I can't check easy---but I think I'll put this above any other book I've read this year.
 


Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Am reading Ian Douglas' Star Carrier, book two, Center of Gravity.


It's a space opera series dealing with a race that seems to control all of space. They like up lift different races but only to a certain point. Humans have reached that point so even though they haven't uplifted humans they want mankind to stay where they are technology. If humans won't submit they will be wiped out which is where we are in the series.

I think Ian is having fun coming up with different types of aliens. None are human like and are as different from humans as they can be. But mankind is still trying to communicate with them for various reasons.

And humans have developed a society and almost world government that is what I think Ian thinks will develop from what we have now. Of course from his point of view it could be more a "what if" scenario than his personal belief.

Oh yes if you like space opera with a lot of personal angst, unique aliens and battles I recommend this series.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited October 23, 2011).]
 


Posted by Tiergan (Member # 7852) on :
 
Went to the library book sale. Left with 3 boxes full. 1 for the kids, 1 for the wife and 1 for me. I started reading "Peter and the Starcatchers", nearly done, so far so good. Interesting twist on the tale, although its not really twist, but a prequel Peter and the Pan.
 
Posted by Denevius (Member # 9682) on :
 
recently finished reading "Windup Girl" by Paolo Bacigalupi, which is the only really good new book i read in the last two years. highly recommend.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I'm reading "Geist" by Philippa Ballantine. A fantasy with a different idea on magic. Quite well written, Phillippa keeps her main characters in trouble, hardly giving them time to rest and catch their breaths, it has plenty of suspense. For me personally-being a helpless romantic- there is one element of the plot I'm not crazy about but the whole thing is written well enough that I'm reading it faster than I want to.


I came to add something I couldn't last time... I was interrupted.

This is a series and I think the next one is out already. I recall something about it anyway.

And I know I have seen her name on other books even though I can't recall which ones. But she has won an award or two so has at least two others out. [Smile]

This is fantasy even though the time period is moved up a bit then usual for they have guns. Plus there are no elves, dwarves, dragons unicorns etc. Still if you like that type I recommend it fully.

[ November 10, 2011, 11:35 PM: Message edited by: LDWriter2 ]
 
Posted by EVOC (Member # 9381) on :
 
I am reading "Black Prism" by Brent Weeks. I have not read a Fantasy Novel in some time, so when I saw this on the book shelves of the grocery store I picked it up. I am only about 200 pages in, and it is a thick one, so there is plenty more to go.

Thus far I enjoy the book and look forward to picking it up again.
 
Posted by JenniferHicks (Member # 8201) on :
 
I just finished "Kitty and the Midnight Hour" by Carrie Vaughn. This is the second of Vaughn's books I've read (the first was "After the Golden Age") and I very much like her writing style. There's not a lot of ponderous description, so it's a fast read and a lot of fun. Kitty is werewolf radio show host who gives out advice on paranormal problems. I recommend it.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I believe the Kitty book is part of a series. But at the same time it almost seems like there are two sets of Kitty books.


But I am reading "The Sorceress of Karres" by Eric Flint and Dave Freer. One of the sequels to a book by James H. Schmitz.

Not a bad story even though I have the feeling a couple of you may not like some of the dialogue especially concerning a certain character. But it's written like the dialogue in the original book, which I enjoyed a lot way back when.

And unlike some writers who put the MC is so much danger he-she-it doesn't have time to catch their breath these two do give the two MCs time to rest a bit between dangers, sometimes. And I find that both at times have it pretty easy time escaping the danger but then at other times not so easy time. There are still plenty of life and death situations though and it is a up and down ride. [Smile]
 
Posted by Foste (Member # 8892) on :
 
Reading Gardens of the Moon.

I love Erikson's style. His descriptions are just so lyrical and drab at the same type.
 
Posted by Uley Bone (Member # 9696) on :
 
I am reading Pagan Babies, Elmore Leonard.
also reading The Darker Side, ed. John Pelan (book of shorts for when I haven't the time to get into the novel.

Uley
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Two books in recent weeks, each in some way a disappointment.

December 1941: 31 Days That Changed America and Saved the World, Craig Shirley. This month needs a good book covering it---but this isn't it. At first I kept noticing small errors, names spelled wrong---then there was a whopping great error that reflects on the relationship between two of the principal characters. The book seems largely culled from news stories of the period. A big disappointment---especially so as his books on Ronald Reagan were so much better.

And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life, Charles J. Shields. This was a much more interesting experience, but its problems arise where it deals with Vonneguts connection with the SF world. A lot of familiar faces from SF pass through the narrative---much as Vonnegut passed through SF on his way to the literary field, I admit---but the biographer seems to take SF much too lightly, lighter than Vonnegut did. I don't think the biographer read past the jacket copy of anything Philip Jose Farmer wrote besides the infamous Vonnegut parody Venus on the Half-Shell. And he misses completely the nasty joke about a well-known SF editor in Vonnegut's Mother Night. Vonnegut had a good deal of contact with these guys---it would've been nice to see some more of it in a biography.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I was going to say that I am also reading Laura Resnick's "Unsympathetic Magic" but I finished the other book by the time I got to this. [Smile]


Anyway, Nice light hearted UF tale. It's the third in a series but the first one is hard to get until Laura can get it republished.

Laura does a great job with her descriptions, not to mention the unusual messed her MC gets into-chuckle- as usual it seems I am reading it faster than I want to.

In this series the MC isn't a magical person but just an innocent who got caught in a bad situation and was rescued. Now she seems to be in a habit of doing that except sometimes she can rescue herself. Her friend is a wizard and now he has a dog that helps fight evil-yes evil- also. Sometimes that is, sometimes he just acts like a huge friendly dog.

If you like light hearted UF tales with some romance--not between the MC and wizard-- I recommend this one. Entertaining it is.

But I must say Laura blows a hole in my theory about opening sentences should be short. She starts this one with one so long I wouldn't be able to quote it.

I was hoping to find an excerpt from the book on her web site, but even though I found it, the excerpt isn't from the first chapter. But I did remember that I learned some interesting things in the book. Like New York has watchtowers form a pervious age. NY age that is not eon age. And how vodou works. She goes into great detail about how it is a religion not a way to do evil to people. You can do evil with it but it isn't evil by nature. She also did some research on Harlem: stories, restaurants etc. even though I think the one institute in the book is made up.

So this could be a lesson on how to do research on real places and to mix real with fictional landmarks.

And I forgot something else. Her titles in this series are interesting. "Doppelgangster" and an up coming book... "Polterheist" She has a way titles. [Smile]

[ December 03, 2011, 09:06 PM: Message edited by: LDWriter2 ]
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Another book recommend, and kinda a continuation of comments as last posted above.

I picked up a new collection of the old comic strip "Pogo" (Pogo: Through the Wild Blue Wonder, The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips Volume 1, Walt Kelly.) I've been a big fan since earlier reprints in the late 1970s. I'd recommend this for any fan of comics. Seems to be an ongoing project similar to that of "Peanuts," so I look forward to more volumes as well.

But the comics were published 1948 through 1950, over sixty years ago, and the editors provide a few comments about a few things said in the strips. Well and good---except now I'm cursed with knowing more than the guys who put this volume together. There's a comment on the phrase "ETAOIN SHRDLU," which the commentator not only spells wrong but gets the explanation for wrong. Also in the introduction, the writer seems to have no idea that Walt Kelly is parodying another famous phrase with his "We have met the enemy and he is us."

A couple of things like this can add up. A year or so ago there was a first volume of collected "Bloom County" books, where Berke Breathed provided some commentary---which I found so condescending that I never picked up another volume. This isn't the case here, but being wrong is nearly as bad.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Reading "Naked City" edited by Ellen Datlow.

Nice Urban Fantasy anthology--mostly UF that is. Datlow has an interesting definition of UF in her Introduction but I question if a couple stories are truly UF. One takes place in a city but they fight with swords and use lanterns and I'm not sure where the magic was.

Anyway, so far, about half into it, Patricia's Briggs story is my favorite. Even better than Jim Butcher's. Jim's is even more Noir than usual for Dresden and more light hearted than usual for him.

One is well written but it has a family in that lived in the Berlin wall, as far as I can understand. But no explanation of how they did that or what they were. Some form of Fae or some special humans?

But most are good stories so far.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I am also reading "Daring" by Mike Shepherd .

It's the latest in the Kris Longfollow series. A Space Opera tale about a lady navel officer working her way up. I say Lady on purpose She comes from a rich political family with heros on both sides, and now her Grandpa is a King. He wasn't when she was born.
 
Posted by Treamayne (Member # 9700) on :
 
Currently reading:

Seed to Harvest - the collected Patternist Quartet by Octavia Butler. Starts with Wild Seed. I just started book 2 - Mind of my Mind. First book was good and her prose is wonderful. Definitely a character story and very well developed.

Dragon Fate: Book 6 of E.E. Knights' Age of Fire series. An interesting Fantasy tale. Books 1-3 are told from the POV of each of 3 Dragon hatchlings that survive the murder of their parents by raiding Dwarves. Books 4-6 is when the three re-unite and dragons begin making a resurgance in the world. Highly recommended.

Storm of Swords: Slowly making my way though this one on my Nook (which I can't take to work which is why I read multiple books at the same time). GRRM reminds me of Victor Hugo - Good stories wrapped in prose about twice as long as needed to actually tell the tale. They aren't bad, but they do seem long-winded to me. This is interesting enough to finish, but not so much that I can read more than 1-2 chapters without needing a brake to do something else.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Started "Gods & Monsters" by Lyn Benedict.


Third in a Dark UF series... are there any other types? I think some aren't quite as dark as others. This is a Darker one. A bit different. This is not one of my favorite series but still worth the reading. Lyn has her MC get "irritated to the bones" too much. Seems like almost anything gets under her skin of course she is an angry person-- partly because of her emotional baggage and partly because she is that type of person. And I'm not that crazy about what is going on with her little sister--in this book it takes up very little space so far, or that must magic workers don't like the MC.

But as I said it's worth a read- I'm reading it very quickly-- when not writing like crazy during this vacation I'm reading.. Lyn is a great storyteller. I would want to be like her in that respect. And I add that this series is one of the main reasons I came up with my angel kin novel.
 
Posted by JenniferHicks (Member # 8201) on :
 
quote:
Storm of Swords: Slowly making my way though this one on my Nook (which I can't take to work which is why I read multiple books at the same time). GRRM reminds me of Victor Hugo - Good stories wrapped in prose about twice as long as needed to actually tell the tale. They aren't bad, but they do seem long-winded to me. This is interesting enough to finish, but not so much that I can read more than 1-2 chapters without needing a brake to do something else.
I agree. I like the story but I have a hard time wading through the long-windedness. It's the same problem I have with Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. I find Martin's books easier to get through if I listen to the audio versions in the car while driving back and forth to work.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
The best book I read this month came right at the end, finishing it just yesterday: Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942, Ian W. Toll. I'd reread his Six Frigates a few months ago (maybe I mentioned it above somewhere), and also just rewatched the movie Tora! Tora! Tora!, so this one, covering the war in the Pacific from Pearl Harbor to Midway, was right up my alley. It fills in a lot of details (but doesn't drown the reader in them), examines the background and character and behavior of a lot of the names from the history books, and reveals a good deal that would be lost in, say, the books that cover the war from beginning to end, or just focus in on one battle. If you want to know what happened between Pearh Harbor and Midway, this is the book for you.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Reading Jack McDevitt's book "Polaris" second in a series.

It's a mystery but about what caused the disappearance of eight people from a starship sixty years previously. Which is all I will say about it. And that the book takes place way in the future.

I noticed in the first book in the series and in this one that McDevitt doesn't put his characters in continual peril. They do get into dangerous situations at times but it's more rare than normal.

I think some readers here would get bored with the book for the above reason and that some of it at least is more tell than normal also. But it is in First Person after all. I'm not sure if I want to say this book is more intellectual than action oriented but that's the closest I can think of.

McDevit does made up history pretty good even to writing out a page or two of arguments made by someone now dead. In the book that is, even the historical figures and events are all made up.

One thing I don't like is that he isn't always clear if a character is from another planet or from another area of the planet the action takes place on. Which isn't Earth.
 
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
I'm currently reading MEMORY, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Almost finished and loving it. Miles is finally growing up (about time, he's thirty).

I'm also reading Pamela Freeman's BLOOD TIES. Not making nearly as good progress on this one. In fact, I'm stalled. It's frustrating. I'm about 125 pages in and I still don't know what the story is about. There are three pov characters, currently spread out across the continent. Two of them don't seem to have any particular goal or problem/conflict at the moment, just drifting. The third definitely has a goal, but as I only get glimpses of him, I don't know what it is. The story is told in approximately 10 to 12 page chapters of each of the non-goal-oriented characters. Between or after these chapters, the story is brought to a crashing halt for a five page story about some side character that I don't care about. Then we get one or two pages about the single goal-oriented character, just enough to know he's trying to do something without getting any hint of why or even a clear picture of what. It's very frustrating and there's a good chance that I'll just give up. May be a good object lession in what not to do, though.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Started-- finally-- I don't have to hold out anymore-- reading "One Salt Sea" by Seanan McGuire. Yippy.

And I got here earlier than usual I just started it today. I usually don't get to this until I'm at least half way through a book.

McGuire is one of my top favorite writers. I want to be a story teller-and I have been told I am a storyteller-- on her level. And this series is one of my favorites of all I am reading. Well, there's one small thing McGuire introduced last book that took the series down a quarter notch. But still it's up there.

If you like mysteries in an UF adventure setting with twists where you never know what will happen next, you will love this series. Sometimes not so happy endings for everyone too.

Well, again there is one thing I wasn't sure why McGuire introduced at the beginning that I'm not sure about the why of, she doesn't really do much with it so far. I know one reason why it is there but still as a helpless old romantic I wish it wasn't and as I said it is used very little. But I can overlook it.

Oh yes, McGuire has made it clear what city the MC lives in. I guess she has before but sometimes in a way that you would know only if you lived there. I mean by mentioning areas, museums etc., usually not talked about. It's not usually that big a deal actually because most of the action takes place elsewhere and I may have missed a couple of references I should have known but it's nice to be sure. [Smile]

[ January 23, 2012, 12:57 AM: Message edited by: LDWriter2 ]
 
Posted by Merlion-Emrys (Member # 7912) on :
 
I'm reading Gormenghast. It's a little slow going in some ways, but I really like the atmosphere, and I just LOVE Dr. Prune, by all that's medical.

I purchased "House of Leaves" and plan on reading that next.
 
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Aside from a couple of books for research (you don't really want to know about TWILIGHT OF THE MAMMOTHS or ICELANDERS IN THE VIKING AGE, do you?).

I'm reading Lois McMaster Bujold's A CIVIL CAMPAIGN. What a comedy of errors for poor Miles (the Master of Chaos, usually, but maybe not this time.)

I'm also technically reading Pamela Freeman's BLOOD TIES, although I haven't touched it in over a week. I'm more than 200 pages in and I still don't know what it's supposed to be about. Interesting characters and a somewhat interesting setting will only carry a book so far. It's losing me fast. May have already lost me, actually.
 
Posted by Merlion-Emrys (Member # 7912) on :
 
That actually sounds a little like the Gormenghast books in some ways...it doesn't have the clearest or most focused of plotlines and the place itself and the strangeness of it's people are really the main elements. I'm enjoying it, but my reading of it is in a sort of machine gun burst fashion, often while watching a movie because the writing is quite dense, even for me who tends to lean in that sort of direction taste wise.
 
Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
Steve Job's biography, which is a REALLY good read. I'm enjoying the intrigue and twists and turns and learning about the backstory. I'm a tech geek, so I love thinking back to what things were like back then (I was a kid and my parents were early tech adopters so we had loads of computers before most people had them.) Very good read, though, even if you're not a geek. My husband, who is not a huge reader nor much of a geek, is ripping through it at lightening speed.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
Three epic fantasies:

THE WAY OF KINGS--Brandon Sanderson. Very long (1008 pages!), and it is mostly world-building and character-development with only intimations of a major conflict yet to come. Even so, I was caught up in the soap opera-like story and the rischness and depth of his invented world and cultures.
http://www.amazon.com/Way-Kings-Stormlight-Archive/dp/0765326353/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1327511428&sr=1-1

BLOOD OF THE LAND--by our own Martin Davey (Wonderbus). 166K fantasy similar (though shorter and far cheaper [Wink] ) to THE WAY OF KINGS. A very impressive first novel, and the first of a planned trilogy, I believe.
http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Land-Sea-Earth-ebook/dp/B006V0DJHE/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1327511397&sr=1-1

THE SILMARILLION--by JRR Tolkien. I read this(or listen on the wonderful Martin Shaw audio CD) every half-decade or so. Though often belittled by the layman for not being written in the common story style of the LOTR, I find THE SILMARILLION a brilliant and rich imaginative work that still inspires awe and wonder every time I read it.
http://www.amazon.com/Silmarillion-J-R-Tolkien/dp/0553456067

Respectfully,
History
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Need to get "Blood" and I read half of the Silmarillion when it first came out. I forget for sure why I didn't finish it but it could either I decided I didn't like it enough to finish of I lost the book.
 
Posted by EVOC (Member # 9381) on :
 
I read (in one day) "Shadows in Flight" today. One overwhelming factor in this book: It is incredibly short. I really felt like the story just got started and then bam... over.

However, the truth is it is still OSC, which for me means a good read. I certainly enjoyed it.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Well, it took me, oh, maybe ten years, maybe longer, before I "got" The Silmarillion...though I appreciated its relationship with the legends of The Lord of the Rings right off, the prose was somewhat more difficult, and I had to grow and learn some before it worked for me...those who start in on it expecting another "LOTR" will definitely be disappointed...
 
Posted by JenniferHicks (Member # 8201) on :
 
I've recently finished a couple of books.

KITTY TAKES A HOLIDAY by Carrie Vaughn, the third book in the Kitty series. It's not as good as the previous two. There's a well-done twist in Kitty's love life, but the scene I would expect to be the climax comes two-thirds of the way through the book. The last third is, as you might expect, anti-climactic.

UTTERLY CHARMING by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (writing as Kristine Grayson). It's a fairy tale romance and is quite a lot of fun. I enjoyed it.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I want to add something to my kinda critique of "One Salt Sea".


McGuire includes little things that add to the story telling. Such as there is a fea who is half human and half octopi like the sea witch in "The Little Mermaid". McGuire has the MC describe how this person moves in a dry building. A short scene within a scene but still neat.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Not much in the book department...I read another book about the war in the Pacific right after the one I mentioned above...The Battle of Midway, Craig L. Symonds...which had a few more interesting facts in it (some extremely interesting), but didn't quite "grab" me as much as the first one.

Science fiction? Well, I picked up a reprint of Heinlein's Sixth Column...which is not "good" Heinlein...it's dated badly and the unavoidable racial aspects make it rough reading for someone in 2012...it's also early Heinlein, first published in Campbell's Astounding, and Heinlein got much better fairly quickly. Pick it up---but after you've picked up other, better Heinlein, and are hooked on him.

I've been reading (and rereading) a fair amount of Internet Fan Fiction, mine own and others...but I won't bother detailing that here.

*****

Not a read, but a recent DVD acquisition---Barney Miller: The Complete Series. This is probably my all-time favorite TV show, above-and-beyond even the one I wrote Internet Fan Fiction for. I'd already had the first three seasons on DVD (duplicated here---duplicated precisely on the DVDs issued with this set), but that's a small price to pay for getting the remaining previously-unissued five seasons. I've been going through them, one at a time, for the last week or so.

As for the show itself...it broke the mold for cop shows, both comedy and serious, portraying them like the ones you knew (except for the lack of swearing). It was well-written, usually extremely funny, created great and interesting characters, and paved the way for numerous shows in the next thirty-some years.

I'd recommend it for anyone who hasn't seen it before...or those who have and would like to renew their acquaintance...
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Not sure if that is one of his I read. I think I got most of Heinlein's read something like thirty years ago.


And as far as I can recall my favorite scene form Barney Miller is the werewolf scene.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
You might know Sixth Column under the title The Day After Tomorrow, chosen for the first paperback release and persisting, oh, about thirty-five years.

One footnote...Heinlein got the plot from John W. Campbell...it was a finished novelette he'd written, but, due to restrictions from becoming editor of Astounding, one Campbell couldn't sell to himself or anyone else...Heinlein reportedly never saw Campbell's version when he wrote his.

The thing that bothers me...I've seen several writeups that said this story of Campbell's, titled "All," was never published...the thing is, it was published, in the 1970s in a paperback collecting it and two other Campbell stories. I know this 'cause I've got a copy.

[edited just to add an apostrophe]
 
Posted by Foste (Member # 8892) on :
 
Lemme see... Here's what I read this week:

Jim Butcher - Grave Peril & Summer Knight

Good popcorn literature. Butcher knows how to build a suspenseful story and Harry remains a lovable rogue. Can't wait to see how all the tiny clues add up to the bigger picture of the series.

RECOMMENDED


Ernest Cline - Ready Player One

What a romp! A trip down retro-memory lane which delighted every geeky fiber in my body. Don't miss out on this one - virtual reality, suspense and a lot of Easter Eggs!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Ilona Andrews - Magic Bites

A rather lackluster effort. Mediocre UF fare and I'd be fine with that, but the heroine is just... bland.


Ray Bradbury - Fahrenheit 451

Okay, don't stone me! I know I missed out on this one and I repent. Lovely writing (at times convoluted), great story and most of all - thought provoking.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱 by 谷川 流
(The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya by Tanigawa Nagaru)

I was really psyched when this appeared in my mailbox. It's an unusual YA-ish SF story about girl that can bend reality to her will. A must, if you are an anime aficionado. I think most volumes of the series have been translated into English.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Dan Wells - I am not a Serial Killer

The autobiography of Dan Wells. Kidding. A YA thriller/horror. A quick read, serviceable prose and a likeable anti-hero. Good stuff.

RECOMMENDED

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bagicalupi

Man, I really tried hard to like this one. Love the writing and the world, but it moves at a sluggish pace.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Foste In one week you read all those? Or just the first two? In either case wow.


Second, About Butcher. You're a bit behind but sounds like you be catching up soon. I won't give away anything but I think Butcher's writing improves along the way and Are you going to be in for a wild ride... 'nugh said.

Third, "Magic Bites" I've seen that one. Isn't it part of a series?

Fourth, I haven't read "Fahrenheit 451".

Fifth, I have seen "The Wind Up Girl" and there's a sequel. They mentioned it in a blurb in my local paper. I've seen the sequel but didn't realize what it was.

Sixth. If you like UF try "Play Dead" by John Levitt. It's the first of a series with kinda like the same magic as Dresden Files. A completely different character and partner though. And it is a series that ends, at least for now.

http://www.jlevitt.com

And check out Levitt's band if you like American pop, rock, RB, Alternative. Actually it's more pop- rock but that's the category for them. [Smile]

http://www.myspace.com/theprocrastinistas
 
Posted by Foste (Member # 8892) on :
 
Those were all pretty short books, so I pretty much plowed through them.

I am always up for a good UF series! If you have more please post them or send me an email. [Smile]
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Took me a while to get to this even though I keep thinking about it.

I decided to post it here since I have read these books and someone else might be interested.

No order here, just however they come to mind. Writer's names first.

Mark Del Franco-- two series in the same universe but different cities and I'm not sure about the time element.

Laura Anne Gillman.-- Again two series. But in this case they take place during the same time, in the same city. In fact the MC in the second series was a minor character in the first series. The first one is the Retriever series and I think it's the better one. I think Gillman with this series is partially responsible for the current UF rage. The second series is the P.U.P.I. series.

Lyn Benedict-- Shadows Inquiries series. A bit darker than most of the others.

C.E. Murphy -- The Walker Papers. Murphy has out I think five different series.. I'm not sure but I think this one and a new one are the only UF. The others are more regular fantasies. Again though I'm not sure since I have read only the Walker Papers. But Murphy along with Seanan McGuire are my two favorite writers. Great storytellers and I wish to be as good as they are.

Margaret Ronald-- Evie Scelan or Hound series. Another darker than usual one.

If you like lighthearted UF

Anoton Strout -- Simon Canderous series. Only thing is that as the series goes on it seems to be leaving the lightheartedness behind.

Laura Resnick.-- Esther Diamond series. It has some Romance mixed in and is from a different POV. In this one the MC isn't the wizard but a young woman who keeps getting caught up in the paranormal. This one keeps up the lightheartedness.
 
Posted by Craley (Member # 9752) on :
 
Hi guys,
Have just finished the second book of a trilogy:

Joe Abercrombie - The First Law :
I am enjoying it, not quite as dark as it is made out to be and to be honest each book doesn't really stand by itself as there is not much resolution by the end. I assume this is all going to build to a massive climax in bk. 3.

I also realised that it is actually a very formulaic seris: the incapable prince leading armies to war, the group searching for some powerful artifact (said group being made up of a wizard, babarian, knight, mysterious woman), etc. Still worth a read.

I also recently read Kraken, Perdido Street Station, and The Scar by China Mieville. I would definitely recommend the PSS but am ambivalent to the other two.

Also reading 'The Years Best SF 16' anthology as a bit of homework on what makes a good short story. I now realise how incredibly subjective it is. They are all well written of course but some I just can't get into.

So there's hope for all! As long as you can write well, there will always be someone who likes your story!
 
Posted by Merlion-Emrys (Member # 7912) on :
 
Just finished "Gormenghast." Although it, and its predecessor were slightly slow reads-Peake's style is very dense and heavy, but I have a taste for such things-I definitely recommend it. I think Anthony Burgess was right when he said, in the Introduction to "Titus Groan", that Gormenghast is not quite like anything else in a way much similar to how Lovecraft's work is not quite like anything else. I also agree with C. S. Lewis's comment that the story actually adds to life, expanding your conceptions and adding totally new experiences.

I will probably read "Titus Alone" eventually, but not right now...both as a break from the density, and because based on what I've heard it's very different from the other two and to some extent less interesting to me.

I have a fresh copy of "House of Leaves" by Mark Z. Danielewski that I will start on soon.
 
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
TITUS ALONE happens away from the castle, so it wasn't as interesting to me.
 
Posted by Merlion-Emrys (Member # 7912) on :
 
My understanding is also that not only is it away from Gormenghast, it's in "the real world" and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

So yeah...someday but not a priority. I guess Peake had planned like 7 novels altogether...it would have been interesting to see where it all ended up had he lived long enough.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I wouldn't say Titus Alone was out in the real world...but I would say it's inferior to Titus Groan and Gormenghast, simply because, by all reports, Mervyn Peake was fantastically seriously ill while he worked on it. "Lesser" is the word, I guess. Still, it has its moments...

I heard that a fourth book, completed by (I think) his widow before her death, was recently published---but I haven't seen a copy and haven't been motivated enough to seek one out online.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Reading "The Truth of Valor" by Tanya Huff. A space opera series.

I figured the one before this one would be the last in the series because the adventure ended, all the loose ends were taken care of and the war was over etc.. But I guess the fans and/or Huff didn't want it to end.


Oh by the way Huff has started at least two series with the waking up cliche. I mean total cliche, waking up in the morning in a bed. This was one of them.
 
Posted by angel011 (Member # 9765) on :
 
Started "Terror" by Dan Simmons, a bunch of explorers trapped in the ice which just refuses to melt and let their ships on their way. Pretty good so far.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Nothing much new grabbed me this month...a couple of oddities here and there, a couple of rereads (among others, Lindbergh, by A. Scott Berg---I'll recommend that if you can still find a copy.)

Just yesterday, I finished reading Jules Verne's Voyage au Centre de la Terre---that's Journey to the Center of the Earth for those of you who don't read these things in the original French.

Yes, I was reading it in French. It was an attempt to revive my high school French (I took it for six years and flunked it in three of them). I've talked about getting Verne in the French editions, but for this, I got a cheap copy on my Nook Color, and, for the past few months, I've been reading it, a little at a time, usually before I went to bed.

A humbling experience, all the way round. I found I had a pretty good grasp of what was going on, understanding or deducing the meaning of the words---but I was also guided quite a bit by having read the book some thirty years ago in an abridged translation. About two-thirds of the way through, I broke down and bought a modern translation paperback: that helped some more.

I should try something in French I haven't read in English...one of these days...
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
Day 9 of 10 of work without a break. Writing going slow so emersing myslef in a little Fable/Epic (literally) Fairytale reading:

"The Silmarillion" again (JRR Tolkien)
"The Children of Hurin" (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Tolkien sources:
Translations of the Norse/Icelandic "Elder Edda" and "Prose Edda", "The Legend Sigurd and Gudran" (JRR Tolkien), "The Story of Sigurd" (William Morris).

Finnish "Kalevala", Let's see if I can finish it this time. [Smile]

"The King of Elfland's Daughter" again (Lord Dunsany)

While inspired by the cultural and artistic impact of these works to complete my current project, I don't think they may be that helpful for me as a would-be writer circa 2012 seeking publication. Not much of an audience except, perhaps, a few old Norse or Finns or English history professors who may expect me to sing the tale. [Wink]

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by angel011 (Member # 9765) on :
 
Hey, I'd be an audience for that!

Not that you could survive from that...
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
You're an angel.
Need to restring my lute.
 
Posted by MattLeo (Member # 9331) on :
 
Dr. Bob -- I recommend the Grimm tales "The Glass Coffin" #163 and "The Water of Life" #97 if you're looking to get into the mythopoetic groove.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Went through Truth kinda fast and now I'm deep in another one

"The Sweet Scent of Blood" by Suzanne McLeod. It says it's a Spellcracker novel. Since I can't find a list of books I assume it's the first one.

Not badly written and the MC is not bad. She has one annoying habit though. She tends to panic when faced with a vampire. I mean face to face. Of course she has reason. But over all I like her and wouldn't mind reading more. But I dislike the world McLeod came up with. Vampires and fea live mixed in with humans, which isn't so bad but vamps have three bites. One just takes blood, one adds something a virus or something. I think that one makes a blood slave, Then there the third one or V3 (Small 3 but not sure how to do that) it can turn a person into a vamp. And vamps have legal rights.

According to the back of the book the MC has her own dark secrets and one is hinted at almost immediately. A very strong hint, followed by a couple more in the next few pages. Easy to figure out even before it is confirmed. I guess I won't say it here but as I said very easy to figure out.

So even though I will finish the book as of right now I don't think I will get the next one. I say it that way because it is subject to change. I'm only maybe a fourth of the way into the novel so the rest of the tale might change my mind. We shall see.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
Continuiing my sudden re-emersion into JRRT with listening to unabridged UK audio CDs narrated by Robert Ingliss of THE HOBBIT and (to follow) THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Interesting to see how he engages in anachronisms and near parody in THE HOBBIT. (If submitted today, would modern editors/publishers ever have looked favorably at such writing?)

Just received Steven King's newest Dark Tower novel, THE WIND THROUGH THE KEYHOLE. Guess the Finnish Kalevela will have to wait. [Smile]

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
(who should get back to writing ... some day)
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I just happened to get a notice from B&N about "The Wind".

Oh the is a parody of the "Hobbit" out. Forget the name-- Maybe Bored of the Rings. so it could be a parody of LoTR but it's only one shorter book.


Anyway, an update on The Sweet. For not liking the world, McLeod made, I certainly read it fast. She's a great story teller, lots of good suspense. Seems like that is a pen name but I can't recall where I read that and I looked.

So the ending came out better than I thought so there's a possibility I might read the second one. Have to wait 'till I see it and can look it over.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Bored of the Rings, from the Harvard Lampoon, I think...came out sometime around 1970, I think, too...never actually read past glancing inside a couple times...what always struck me was that the parody cover art was a parody of the really awful despised-by-Tolkien-among-others Ballantine Hobbit / LOTR covers, but when Ballantine ditched them not long after, Bored of the Rings never did...
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
The Havard Lampoon's classic LOTR parody BORED OF THE RINGS was writtern By Henry Beard and Douglas Kenny--who later went on to start the National Lampoon (I miss that magazine)--and it was published in 1969. It's a classic that other Tolkien parodies ("The Soddit", "The Wobbit", "The Sillymarillion", "The Sellamillion") can only aspire to. The 1st edition cover was by Michael Frith (of later Muppets fame):

http://www.amazon.com/Bored-Kenney-Douglas-Harvard-Lampoon/dp/B001Q6VBKA/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1331833023&sr=8-5

which was a parody of the Barbara Remington's 1960's Ballantine paberback book cover art for the trilogy:

http://www.tolkienguide.com/uploads/art/brem_medium.jpg

While Tolkien disliked the art, it was so popular with the readership that it warranted the printing of a large wall mural size poster thats old well (a copy of which I possess and hung on mu teenage bedroom wall for years).

When BORED was reprinted, new covers were created because the old 1960's Ballantine covers were forgotten by most. I do not think the new covers are equal to the original Signet edition cover.
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_sq_top?ie=UTF8&keywords=bored%20of%20the%20rings&index=blended&pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=045145261 5&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=0R9B5AM2YHFMN4DAXTDJ

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Ah...must've missed those reissues. As for the Ballantine covers...well, copies of both were lying around at the school I attended, fifth-through-eight grades...and I found the covers so off-putting that I wouldn't pick up a copy of The Hobbit until I was sixteen. (A lot of Ballantine covers of that era were off-puttingly bad.)
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
Matter of taste, then, as is true for stories themselves. Some hate the same ones others loved.
I liked the Ballantine covers for The Hobbit and LOTR, and for most of their Adult Fantasy series.
http://phantasma.onza.net/biblio/lists/baf.html
"Fantastic" artwork (as in surreal) was just fine for me for fantasy literature.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Started "A Mighty Fortress" by David Weber. fourth one is the Safehold series.

He's my favorite Space opera writer, for one reason he does a lot more than just blow up space ships even though that happens.

However this one isn't SO. I'm not sure what you would call it. SF but it's sort of historical, sort of alternate universe, sort of a couple other things. With sailing ship to sailing ship fighting and palace intrigue.

This one I won't finish any time soon. It's like two to three times as long as usual 1,086 pages.

Not sure if this is the end of the series but someone dies evidently-- as in main characters and probably a few minor characters. OH, more than likely it isn't the last one, the humans still have one thing to do whatever happens in this book.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
On the "Ballantine Adult Fantasy" covers...once I knew what these books actually were, I dug up as many as I could find...but the covers weren't much. I never got a complete set, some eluded me to this day---I picked 'em up in used bookstores, never went to SF collectors selling things like that. (I never had a complete list of 'em---anybody got one?) Like I always say, I bought 'em to read, not to collect.

But the covers never impressed me much. I liked the work of Gervasio Gallardo when it appeared, but the rest was much like the Ballantine Tolkien covers---too self-consciously arty, not very interesting as artwork, not what you'd call eyecatching...a lot of it looked amateruish, almost.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
Hi, Robert
See: http://www.skwishmi.com/interests/baf.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballantine_Adult_Fantasy_series

I managed to collect all except: KHALED and THE WORLD'S DESIRE

What made this series particularly appealing were the insightful introductions by Lin Carter. I still consider his IMAGINARY WORLDS a great review and guide to the genre of (and precedents to) modern fantasy: "a book about fantasy, about the men who write it, and how it is written. It is a joyful excursion by a man who himself loves fantasy, into the origins and the magicks of such writers as Dunsany, Eddison, Cabell: it examines the rise of fantasy in the American pulp magazines and delights in the sturdy health of 'sword and sorcery': it looks with pleasure on the works of some modern masters and knowledgeably explores the techniques of world-making."

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I remember those covers. I didn't like them either, seemed to be some type of hippie artwork.

I know I read some of those listed but can't recall how many. I would have to look the book over.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
Interesting. I found/find the Ballantine covers enchanting. And what else is fantasy?

Many are reminiscent of the imaginative of artists that graced the pages of Lang's fairy tale collections or the exquisite work of Sidney Sime who illustrated Lord Dunsany's works [e.g. see http://www.johncoulthart.com/feuilleton/2008/03/06/sidney-sime-and-lord-dunsany/ ]

Having finished King's new Dark Tower novel/fable THE WIND THROUGH THE KEYHOLE, delightful btw and not as "heavy" in tone as the series in general, our converse inspired me to read one of the Ballantine series I've never got around to the last four decades: LUD-IN-THE-MIST by Hope Mirlees.

This novel was published in 1926 and has the remarkable reputation of being a little known work by a little known author that has somehow remained in print, through love of a select few who have discovered (or rediscovered) and cherished the work.

I've read the first five chapters and have been transported to the langurous fantasies that filled the dew-laced spring mornings and warm summer evenings of my youth. Tales filled with rich descriptions and plaintive longings for past days and quiet lands of myth and mystery that lie over the hills and far away beyond the fields we know. Stories where, if one peered a little deeper, one can see starkly revealed the poignant play of human folly and hope, of loss and joy, with lessons that say-ya true for today and everyday

Such stories as these I fear now languish, and would never sell today, because they were for times before cinema and television and internet when reading was the premier form of entertainment...to be enjoyed at leisure at a leisurely pace. Does such a pace exist today?

It did for me this morning, an unseasonably warm one for March in Maine, with a light cool breeze sliding beneath the crack of an open window, wafting the lace curtains, my wife sleeping (and snoring softly) warm against my side. As I silently turned the pages of this old yellowing paperback with the Sign of the Unicorn, I could only nod in commiseration and melancholic joy as I read, "This nostalgia for what was still there (that) seemed to find voice in the...smell of the country, the placid bustle of the farm, happening now, all around one; and which, simultaneously, mourns them as things vanished centuries ago."

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by GreatNovus (Member # 9671) on :
 
Foundation by Asimov currently. Also started to read The Prince by Machiavelli but thats on my computer and I'm at work today. =-/ Bothersome.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
After being online for fourteen years, I still have yet to learn to look for things like that...it's the list I've been looking for since I started collecting / reading them. (Also reminded me of how fond I was of Lin Carter's work...)

Some of them I read in later reprints, usually by Del Rey, and with what I thought were better cover artwork...the abovementioned "Lud-in-the-Mist" and Cabell's books come to mind...
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
As a storyteller with a "literary" bent since my undergraduate days, I am finding Lud-in-the Mist to be a delightful surprise--like Lucy opening the wardrobe only to discover Narnia, or Alice falling into Wonderland down a perfectly normal rabbit hole.

As Micahel Swanick wrote: "This is not your standard size 6, off-the-rack War between Good and Evil.

What we have here is that rarest of creatures, the fantasy novel of ideas. Now, what these ideas are is difficult to epitomize in a handful of words. One academic has characterized Mirrlees' novels as being about "the contested boundaries of Art and Life." True enough. I see also the influence of Jane Ellen Harrison in the division of the world into Apollonian and Dionysian aspects, the homely and the wild. Nor are the centuries-long struggle between Classicism and Romanticism or Freud's theories of the conscious and unconscious mind or the relationship between terror and beauty irrelevant to our understanding of this work.

Neil Gaiman once said in conversation that Lud-in-the-Mist "deals with the central matter of fantasy -- the reconciliation of the fantastic and the mundane." Which, perhaps, comes as close to the heart of the question as anybody's going to get.

To learn more, you'll simply have to read the book."

--http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/introduces/mirrlees.htm

In regard to James Branch Cabell (another must read for fantasy writers, in my humble opinion), Carter never considered his most infamous work JURGEN for the Ballantine Sign of the Unicorn imprint. I suspect because of its controversial somewhat bawdy nature, though he later did include a revised chapter for hisanthology Realms of Wizardry(Doubleday, 1976). You can get this novel free on Kindle [ http://www.amazon.com/Jurgen-A-Comedy-Justice-ebook/dp/B004TPHYTW/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1332091425&sr=8-3 ] though if you can find a copy of one of the old trade PB Dover press editions, it includes the original illustrations by artist Frank Pape [ http://www.amazon.com/Jurgen-James-Branch-Cabell/dp/0486235076 ].

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Well, I read the copy of Jurgen from my college library...I think why it didn't appear in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series was that it was still in print from someone else. Jurgen was Cabell's most notorious book, after all. (I don't know its current status.)
 
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Currently reading SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY by Mary Robinette Kowal.

Jane Austen with a touch of magic.

Loving it.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Hmm, I've heard of her from someplace. Hmmm, think think think. [Smile]


But not sure if I have ever seen it on any list I look over. Of course some of those I don't look over very often.
 
Posted by Utahute72 (Member # 9057) on :
 
Just finishing up the third in the series of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo". I was wondering if anyone one has read them and what they thought. I've read some reviews elsewhere that sorta panned the second two, but other than the fact they are really one extended story I liked them better than the first one. He still spends much more time in Swedish politics and infrastructure than I'm interested in, but the underlying story is very good, I thought.
 
Posted by JenniferHicks (Member # 8201) on :
 
@Utahute72: I've read all three of Larsson's books. They do get too heavily into Swedish politics. I skipped over some of those parts. And the whole first section of the second book could have been eliminated. But overall, I enjoyed reading them.

@Meredith: Agreed, "Shades of Milk and Honey" is fantastic. I look forward to reading the sequel.
 
Posted by Utahute72 (Member # 9057) on :
 
Jennifer, I agree with the comment on the first part of the second book. That whole section could have been a great start for a fourth book, but just looked out of place in that book.
 
Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
 
I've recently finished DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth. INSURGENT, the sequel, comes out in May. DIVERGENT was her first book. It's a YA distopia set in a futuristic collapsed City of Chicago (my hometown) so I enjoyed many of the geographical references. It's very, very good. Hard to believe it's this author's first book. I'm curious to read the sequel as it's sometimes telling how much time/effort an author puts into a first versus a second in a series.

Kids and I are listening to Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan, the second in the newer Percy Jackson series. It's terrific. He's a great writer to study in terms of keeping the pace moving, embedding action in almost every scene even the non-fighting ones, giving characters very clear and unique backstories (using a lot of flashbacks, which is not my favorite device but it's fine and it's useful to see how it can be done effectively even if I won't choose to use it in my own fiction), etc.

Did I say yet that I also read WINTERLING, by Sarah Prineas, recently? It's a YA fantasy, very cool stuff. I like the way she invents her own worlds and puts really interesting characters, animals, creatures, what have you in them. I really enjoy her writing (The Magic Thief series is some of my all-time favorite books) so this was a win for me, too.

And thirding the rec on SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY. Excellent, Excellent book. GLAMOUR AND GLASS (or is it IN glass? I forget) comes out very soon. Excited!
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I missed my usual first of the month posting, so I'll do it now.

I ran across some inspiring books---nonfiction, all.

Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case, Debbie Nathan. You might recall the original book Sybil, or the TV movie miniseries with Sally Field---I read the book and saw the movie, way back. The story, as originally told, is false, and false in a way that damaged the treatment of mental illness and the criminal justice system. This book blows the lid off all that...and, furthermore, has people and places wander in and out of the story that just floored me when I reached the page they were on.

Ethan Allen: His Life and Times, Willard Sterne Randall. I often know something of these figures in history---I knew Ethan Allen as the man who captued Fort Ticonderoga, as well as a number of myths and legends (and the furniture business stuff)---but I had somehow missed that he had been a captive of the British after that, and wrote a narrative of the account. This was an enlightening book.

(Aside to that: I mentioned a written narrative by Ethan Allen above---after a couple of passes through the local bookstores, I ordered a copy of it online---which proved to be a print-on-demand copy of a 19th century reprint, a little blurry and blotched but still readable. I hadn't thought that things like this were being reprinted in this way...I must look for others.)

Coming up this month is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, and anniversaries like this usually bring out a host of good books, new and reprint. This is no exception, and, since the subject has always fascinated me, I found several. I'll recommend Voyagers of the Titanic: Passengers, Sailors, Shipbuilders, Aristocrats, and the Worlds They Came From, Richard Davenport-Hines. It spends considerable time on the people on board, where they were coming from, and where they went after.

I'm about three-fourths through a rather unusual book: Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover's Secret History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath, edited by George H. Nash. This was kind of Herbert Hoover's magnum opus: he worked on it extensively and prepared it for publication before his death in 1964. It covers just how, in Hoover's view, World War II was "botched"---before, during, and after. It's very dense reading, and I don't necessarily agree with Hoover's conclusions about what could and should have been done---but it's worthy of attention nonetheless.

I've still, of course, got piles of unread books and I'll be getting to some of them shortly...
 
Posted by Merlion-Emrys (Member # 7912) on :
 
"House of Leaves" keeps getting weirder and I have to turn the book in more and more different ways to read it properly. Very interesting though.

"Lud in the Mist" sounds VERY interesting, Doctor Bob...may have to check that out soon.
 
Posted by Wordcaster (Member # 9183) on :
 
Just finished Scalzi's Old Man's War. In many respects, it was a great novel. Good narrative voice, pacing, and enough ideas to make me think. On the negative side, it has an epic storyline put into 300 pages, so some of the characters are quite flat and the setting/action rushed.

About to start Low Town by Daniel Polansky
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Started a new book tonight.

I read through the last one way too fast for 1100 pages. But the writing was too good, had to keep reading to see what happened next.

Anyway, I'm reading "Vamparzzi" by Laura Resnick. Fourth in a light hearted UF series. Good writing also even though not quite on the same level as David Weber. Even though I must say that both writers educate their readers. "Fortress" was full of all types of sailing ship lessons. Previous books talked of muskets and rifles, why a rifle is a rifle etc. Resnick has had "classes" on the real Voodoo and New York city guard towers. Don't know yet what she will "teach" in this one except a thing or two about human nature.

Oh, I may have mention "Vamparazzi" before because I started it months ago when I bought it but I decided that it needed to wait its turn so I put it down. Now is its turn. [Smile]
 
Posted by Foste (Member # 8892) on :
 
Guess I'll post the things I read in the last two weeks:

バカとテストと召喚獣 by 井上 堅二
(Baka to Tesuto to Shyoukanjuu)
Idiots, Tests and Summoned beasts by Inoue Kenji

This was a BLAST. Possibly my favorite light novel series besides Haruhi. It's the kind of idea that makes you want to kick yourself for not thinking of it.

Highschool is rough - BUT even more so if the classes are divided into grades ranging from A to F. To advance from a lower class to a higher one (and thus into a better classroom with luxurious furniture and snacks) you have to fight your way up with your summoned beast. The problem is that your summoned beast's strength equals your test score in a given subject - depending on the teacher who assists in the summoning.

Absolutely great. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
(Will gladly offer translations!)

Thief's Covenant by Ari Marmell

A lighthearted fantasy novel about a noble who fell from grace and now carries a dormant God in her head. Lots of swashbuckling fun, solid writing but at times silly. Good read if you feel like having a thief-centric fantasy.

RECOMMENDED

Croak by Gina Damico

Loved this one. Lex, a former A student turns deliquent and is sent to her uncle Mort, where she learns to ply the trade of a Reaper. An awesomely delicious YA series that touches upon many subjects that YA in my opinion should - teeenage life can suck and yes, minors swear and drink sometimes.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Bought SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY today. Finally remembered I could work with my Nook while waiting for my wife to finish selling her crafts online.

Started it-- easy reading-- but not sure when I will finish it. I am in the middle of another book and have a few others in line.
 
Posted by JenniferHicks (Member # 8201) on :
 
@LDWriter: I have the next book in that series Glamour in Glass waiting on reserve for me at the library. I just have to find time to go pick it up.

I finished reading TIMELESS by Gail Carriger last night. It's the fifth and final book in her Parasol Protectorate series, which I described to my dad today as Victorian/romance/steampunk/fantasy. The series ended well, and I'm sad it's over. RECOMMENDED
 
Posted by wise (Member # 9779) on :
 
NOT RECOMMENDED
The last book I read was "The Lady of the Rivers" because my mom recommended it. I wasn't fond of it, especially because it was written in present tense, which was disconcerting since it took place in the 1400s. The author's purpose was probably to pull the reader into the tale, but it was just jolting to me. I thought at first it was going to include more about Joan of Arc, who was in the first chapter, but then it turned into a romance and then detailed the battle maneuverings during the War of the Roses. I wasn't impressed.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Right now I'm reading "BLOOD DONE SIGN MY NAME", a non-fiction true story about a murder in a small town in North Carolina during the height of the civil rights movement. I find it especially interesting because I moved to a small town in North Carolina very much like the town where this incident occurred, and I'm familiar with many of the other locations mentioned. It's given me great insight into the civil rights struggle in the South during the 60s. It reads like a novel and has kept me riveted. The style is very "homey" and relaxed, but full of facts, analysis, and southern charm. The author is excellent at portraying the people in the town, making them fully dimensional. I HIGHLY recommend it for anyone interested in the subject, but also for anyone who enjoys human psychology. It poses some ethical, legal, and sociological questions that we all could benefit from trying to answer.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I started "Tricks of The Trade" by laura anne gilman,


I read the one by Resnick too quickly which I seem to be doing a lot of lately.


This one is the third in a series by Gilman. The unique thing about this series is that it takes place in the same city, and time as a previous series. The Wren or Retriever series. Bonnie, the MC of the current series, was a very minor character in the first one. I'm surprised that Wren hasn't shown up in this one yet they live in the same building after all. Gilman says that Wren is suppose to guest in the next book.

I partly credit the Retriever-therefore Gilman- series for this explosion of Urban Fantasy. I have said that Butcher is the King of UF and Gilman is the Queen. But I modified that a bit. One Rachael Craine (?) might be the true Queen since her Storm Warden series was first. But Gilman must be a close second.

I would have to reread the first series again to be sure but I believe the second series is written differently. At least in the first book, my impression was that it was written for YA while the first series was written for adults.

This series is also more of a mystery style while the first one is more adventure so that might be the difference I am sensing.

If you like mysteries with magic and some personal emotional turmoil mixed in then you will like the second series. Yes, they use magic to solve cases but it's a tool like anything any mundane detective would use. There is danger even though not as much as usual.

I would recommend both series even though you can decide which one to read first or if you are adventurous read both at the same time. There are now three and soon will be four in the second and somewhere around eight to ten in the first- which is all there will be for the time being.
 
Posted by Utahute72 (Member # 9057) on :
 
I'm wading though one called "The Unearthing" that I picked up through the Amazon kindle sight. It has been an interesting experience because while the guy has a pretty good premise he has some major flaws in the writing. Poor grammar, bad spelling, etc. really detract from what should be a good story. He also has some issue with the technical aspects he tries to explain, because he obviously has no clue what he's talking about so he gives bad information and gets off track trying. I probably won't even try to read the follow on novels.
 
Posted by elilyn (Member # 9426) on :
 
Just finished reading the Riyria Revelations by Michael Sullivan. I really appreciated that he was one of the indie authors whose success brought him a standard publishing contract with Orbit. The story is classic fantasy without any gimmicks to try to artificially make it "new" or "original". It was great and I highly recommend it.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
elilyn , sounds interesting I need to keep my eye out for it.
 
Posted by Wordcaster (Member # 9183) on :
 
I've read several books lately, none of which I found noteworthy of recommending to the general audience here.

But... I am 100+ pages into Dan Simmon's Hyperion (for the first time) and am in absolute awe. I can't wait to keep reading more -- it's been awhile since a book has done that to me.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Usually I post on the first, but yesterday was, despite being kinda on vacation, pretty busy. (Today was pretty busy too, but it's calm right now.)

I read a few more things. Picked up some more "Titanic" literature, including a new copy of A Night to Remember. But the books that impressed me the most were:

Intellectuals and Society, Thomas Sowell (revised and enlarged edition). This is a lengthy and well-documented exploration of how the world-view and actions of intellectuals nearly always does not correspond to the reality of the situation---often to great detriment. I'll recommend this, and anything else by Thomas Sowell, for all the would-be intellectuals among you out there.

Watergate: A Novel, Thomas Mallon. It is fiction, but impeccably researched fiction, maybe more so than some of the actual nonfiction books about the Watergate Affair. This may be dusty and forgotten history to a lot of you younger types, but it was practically my first exposure to politics-in-action, and my opinions have undergone several sets of revisions over the years as new facts come to light. But what I liked about this book was how it conveyed the humanity of many of the principal players, something a lot of the abovementioned nonfiction often fails to do.

I interrupted my reading on that to start reading a book I bought yesterday: The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power, Robert A. Caro. This is a long-awaited and long-promised fourth volume of a series on the life of Lyndon Johnson, with Volume One first printed back in 1982 and the other volumes only appearing at long intervals over the last thirty years. (I didn't even find out it was coming out yesterday until last week!) If you're familiar with previous volumes in this work, you know how good it is---there's a chapter in Volume One on what it's like to live without electricity that should be required reading for every would-be fantasy writer---and, so far, the read in this volume hasn't let me down, either. The volume covers Johnson's vice-presidency and part of his presidency, with a fifth volume now promised. (It was supposed to end with the fourth volume.)

Being on vacation, and about to leave on a week of travels, I should pick up more books, get more of a chance to read them, and have more of interest to report next month. But I'm not leaving yet.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Thomas Sowell is one of the writers I want to read if I had more reading time. Of course I could put aside my fiction and spend my fifteen minutes a day on non-fiction or sacrifice some writing time.

I came back to add I finished Tricks. This time it didn't go quickly because I read too much of it, I did some of that but Tricks is easy to read and I believe it's shorter than normal.


Now I am reading "Wolfbane" By Patricia Briggs (Wonder why I keep having thoughts of Star wars when talking about her)

The book is the sequel to Briggs first published novel. I read that one a few months ago. I either misunderstood something in the forward of that book or she contradicts herself. I'm betting I misunderstood--or misremembered.

I thought she wrote "Wolfsbane" quite a few years after the first one was published because she kept thinking about it and/or her fans demanded it. She went back and revised her first one because she had learned so much by than she was surprised it was picked up at all. I read the revised reprint.

She considers "The Hob's Bargain" her first professional novel. Which I remembered from the other forward. In this forward she says her sells didn't really take off until "Dragon Bones" which I read. I'm not sure actually how close it came but she seems to feel that at one point she was almost let go because of low sells and the lost of the editor who was a big help with her. But she kept on. At that time I noticed that she didn't seem to like to do series. Two, at the moste three books was it about a certain character. But now she has two paranormal series and I wish she would do another Dragon book.

But her "adventures" as a writer would make an interesting study and maybe lesson for us non pro writers.

I almost said wanna be writers but we are writers already--published or not we write.

[ May 03, 2012, 12:11 AM: Message edited by: LDWriter2 ]
 
Posted by Wordcaster (Member # 9183) on :
 
I've read several Thomas Sowell books. I always find it takes a unique kind of intelligence to take a complex subject and make it understandable for the layperson. Sowell is skilled in that.

I have avoided the Caro tetralogy (soon to be 5 books). Robert, you said you avoid new fantasies series like George Railroad Martin until they finish. Caro keeps adding to his LBJ series ;-)

I love biographies -- last one I read was isaacson's bio on steve jobs. But I am completely reading sf for the time being.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Unfortunately, I got sucked into it before I developed that rule---in fact, it was one of the factors in my developing that rule---and one can pick up biographical details from other sources, in most cases. As I said, the first book was published in 1982. I might've avoided them altogether if I'd'a known the next volumes weren't coming right away...

I have been burned in other cases. There's a second half of a biography of Bing Crosby, that in the published first half said certain things would be told in the second half---but there's no report of it coming any time soon. (A publishing dispute, I gather, held it up, probably for good, but who can say for sure?) That recent best-selling Mark Twain autobiography was supposed to be in three volumes---where are the other two? And where's the second half of the Heinlein bio?

I always thought these Lyndon Johnson books would be there, sooner or later, possibly even cobbled together after the writer had departed the scene.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Reading, finally, "SIde Jobs" by Jim Butcher.

A Harry Dresden anthology. Some of the stories I've read before when they were published in other anthologies. However interesting enough the first story in Jobs is the very first Harry story. Written before he published and perhaps even wrote "Storm Front".

Sounded like it never was picked up by an editor, Jim says he knows why now but I didn't think it was that badly written. The story also is the first time he meets Murphy. And has a very interesting, creative ending for a certain Troll. I may go back and read it for critting instead of enjoyment and see if I can spot the problems.

Oh, I skimmed though that story before, it was published on the official Jim Butcher web site. Actually there's more than one but this is the complete one.

So since I will be skipping some stories I will be going through the book kinda fast. Not to mention the some stories are pretty short. But the last one in the book takes place after "Changes" and might be long.

And I was just at that official web site and found out two interesting things. Well, three Jim likes April Fools Day pranks,

But there will be a series of I believe short stories that take place in Dresden's universe but without him. I think those are the Bigfoot stories. Yeah evidently Harry has a Hairy client.

And Jim is doing a stream punk story or novel.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I read a lot on vacation. Here's a list of some of the books I read, omitting some that are overtly (contemporary) political since we agreed not to get into discussions of that nature 'round here...but these ones impressed me in varying degrees. In no particular order, not even alphabetical:

The Blood of Heroes: The 13-Day Struggle for the Alamo---and the Sacrifice That Forged a Nation, James Donovan.

Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty, John M. Barry.

Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV, Warren Littlefield with T. R. Pearson.

The Barefoot Mailman, Theodore Pratt.

Alger Hiss: Why He Chose Treason, Christina Shelton.

The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, David McCullough.

Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power, Andrew Nagorski.

Atlantic Fever: Lindbergh, His Competitors, and the Race to Cross the Atlantic, Joe Jackson.

My Happy Days in Hollywood: A Memoir, Garry Marshall with Lori Marshall.

I took some books with me, and bought more along the way. I bought others, still unread---and have since I got home---but I'll pass on them for the moment, except one:

I bought the new just-this-month reprint of Heinlein's The Star Beast, a fine book---but it maddens me that this edition, like every other edition since the first Scribners printings, omits a couple of pages smack-dab in the middle of the book!
 
Posted by Justin (Member # 9826) on :
 
I'm finally reading Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. It's the uncut version. I debated for a long time whether to read that or the originally published version. Ultimately, I chose what happened to be easy to get a hold of at the time.

This is one of those SF classics that I feel like I should have already read. I imagine being in a room full of SF enthusiasts, and when I admit that I haven't read this, everyone stops talking to stare at me.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Ah! I thought the uncut version of Stranger in a Strange Land read a little smoother than the originally-released version...but I thought that it could also be I "grew" into the story---I was ten or eleven when I read it the first time, and, at that age, I just may not have "got" it...
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Started "Ghost Of A Chance" by Simon R. Green. Second in a new series by him. If you don't mind blood, suspense and continual critical comments on humans in general Green is a great writer and story teller. You never know what is coming next.

I said started but it's really picked up where I left off. When I bought the book I started it but then decided it needed to go back in line and I would finish it when I got to it.


I finished "Side Jobs". I won't say much except that two of the stories are not from Dresden's POV--come to think of it make that three. Two are friends of Dresden's so we get to "see" him from their POV. Interesting Butcher had to come up with how each would think of Dresden. Nicely done and I think he was able to do that from both person's personality.,
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
I'm reading and critiquing (too slowly) Matt Leo's new novel The Keystone, a unique 1930's sf space opera cum 1940's Hollywood cinema comedic love triangle.

Admittedly, I keep getting distracted--or have developed adult ADHD--by the following:

* Writing ten thousand words of my own this past month, continuing the 1400 words I submitted (to mixed review) for snapper's 2012 trigger challenge. I think I can be forgiven this diversion.

* Reading an omnibus of Alan Moore's 1st two graphic novels concerning The League of Extraordinary Gentleman after re-watching the critic-panned (but I found enjoyable) movie of the same title starring Sean Connery as H.Rider Haggard's aged adventurer Alan Quartermain (of She and King Solomon's Mines fame). The concept is intriguing: the "Gentleman" being special agents of the British government composed of the said Quartermain, Captain Nemo (Jules Verne's infamous genius pirate of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea), Robert Louis Stevenson's Edward Hyde/Dr. Jeckyl (whose story arc I found the most intriguing), Hawley Griffin (Well's The Invisible Man), and Mina Harker nee Murray (from Bram Stoker's Dracula). What makes these graphic novels such a treat is the dearth of allusions and references to both known and forgotten classics of fantastical literature of the last four centuries--many I knew only by vague rumor and some of which I was completely unaware but thrilled at their discovery (my internet searches were frequent and delightfully fruitful).

* The second volume of Moore's "League" has Well's The War of the Worlds martians as antagonists, and begins on the ruddy surface of Mars itself with, appropriately, its inhabitants at war. We meet both (Edgar Rice Burrough's) John Carter as well as Burrough's inspiration (Edward Lester Arnold's) Lt. Gulliver Jones. While I've read the original novels of both these warriors' adventures, in Moore's League they speak of an earlier earthborn martian hero (Michael Moorcock's) Michael Kane. I recall Moorcock once said of his trilogy of Burroughs Barsoom pastiches that he "wrote them all in one week" (I believe drugs and alcohol may have been involved), and the first, City of the Beast/Warriors of Mars in just one weekend. Decades ago, I collected the DAW Books' reissued works of Michael Moorcock, of which the Mars trilogy which has sat on my book shelves unread since then. This, plus the curiosity aroused by our own Foste's achievement of writing a novel in one week, triggered my ADHD to pull out and finally read Moorcock's oft-published first Mars book.

I will share that it read like it had been written in two days. The plot was predictable and I marveled at how the protagonist, a brilliant scientist cum swordsman, could be so oblivious to what was so obvious. The prose is plain and rushed, and I found little to recommend it other than to -1- show how far and fast he has progressed as an author, and -2- to demonstrate how a novel can be first published from the initial networking made by the author (an established editor of the time) and then subsequently reprinted time and time again solely (I need surmise, though this is solely my opinion) by the fame of the author. On a positive note, I would say if this was published, then there is hope (someday) for the rest of us. I have yet to decide to read the final two books in the trilogy.

* Being a long-time collector of sf/fantasy books for nearly half a century has had some advantages as the preceding demonstrates. By whim, I chose to again read, after a 40 year hiatus, historian and traveler L. Sprague de Camp's The Tritonian Ring, his nod to REHoward, albeit de Camp's Pusaden/Poisedonis stories are told more light-heartedly (which is, at times, disconcerting at the callousness in regard to killing and rape). I possess both the original 1953 hardcover which includes three additional Pusaden short stories and the George Barr illustrate 1977 Owlswick Press edition which includes only the title novel. I also discovered I have the 1968 paperback in my cllection as well...it seems in addition to ADHD I suffer either from OCD or precocious Alzheimer's. [Wink] I surmise the former is the more likely (at present)for, on utilizing the internet, I discovered that there are in total seven Pusaden short stories in addition to the novel. It was both with delight and chagrin that I found the remaining four in scattered out-of-print books and periodicals I've acquired over the years (de Camp's collection The Spell of Seven, Lin Carter's Adult Fantasy Series collection The Young Magicians, WPaulGanley's Weirdbook 12, and Lin Carter's s&s collection Flashing Swords! #2). These are standard sword and sorcery fare yet with a touch of humor and a fascinating metahistorical immediate post-Ice Age geoscape derived from the legends and myths of mankind's earliest known civilizations. The setting is an Earth when Eurasia and Africa were one massive continent whose coastline once extended much further west than today and where small continents once dotted the Atlantic, their highest peaks now submerged or mere islands today. There are gods and demons and satyrs; swordsmen and magicians and amazons; politics and intrigues and love affairs, the latter difficult to separate from the former two.

Of the preceding, I'll recommend Alan Moore's League as the best of the past month's reading and it is also more readily acquirable.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

P.S. [2 JUN 2012]: Re: The Spell of Seven (Pyramid Books, 1965,1969). Am I demonstrating nostalgia or merely showing my age that this contains novelettes of some of my most favorite fantasy authors, worlds and protagonists?
*Fritz Leiber's Bazaar of the Bizarre -- Lankhmar (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser)
*Clark Ashton Smith's The Dark Eidolon -- Zothoque
*Lord Dunsany's The Hoard of the Gibbelins -- Dreamland
*L Sprague De Camp's The Hungry Hercynian -- Pusaden
*Michael Moorcok's Kings in Darkness -- The Young Kingdoms (Elric)
*Jack Vance's Mazirian the Magician -- The Dying Earth
*Robert E Howard's Shadows in Zamboula -- Hyborian Age (Conan)
These are must reads, imho, for any lovers and would-be writers of fantasy.

[ June 02, 2012, 08:42 AM: Message edited by: History ]
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Funny thing a guy at work just mentioned The League of Extraordinary Gentleman last week. He thinks I should see it. You haven't been holding out on us on what you do for a living have you? [Smile]



Sounds interesting and steampunkish.

But congrats on the writing that much in the novel and that short story. You better publish that short story some place...I want a copy of my very own. After one or two little tweaks. [Smile]

I know some Butcher fans I would love to introduce your writing to.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
Oh no, LD. I'm definitely the armchair adventurer with a tower of stacked books close to hand on the endtable and nightstand and dresser.

Mrs. Dr. Bob and I do love playing tourist but our "adventures" are far more Hobbit-like (Baggins not Took, excluding the famous two exceptions). We have a penchant for warm inns, comfortable beds, and good food and wine (in plentitude). My military days are long behind though I'd regale anyone who cared to listen (and who offered a cordial to wet my throat and loosen my tongue)--much like Lord Dunsany's famous Jorkens (and my stories may be similarly, um...emphasized). [Wink]
http://www.dunsany.net/jorkens.htm
http://www.amazon.com/The-Collected-Jorkens-Vol-Remembers/dp/189238955X

I am a fan of Alam Moore's work (Watchmen, V is For Vendetta, From Hell) These were all also made into movies, which is pretty remarkable for any writer save, perhaps, Steven King. The movie of League was fun, but it is the graphic novels themselves and their multitude of common and obscure literary references that are truly superlative.

I have not yet started writing the second Kabbalist novel (though I do get frequent requests--how kind), nor returned for a final rewrite of the first (which I feel I'm near ready to do after three years of growing, albeit slowly, as a writer). The three shorter Kabbalist stories have yet to find a market (and only one is still in circulation). My vignette for snapper's WOTF 2012 Trigger challenge (a Kabbalist piece, although the protagonist is never named) I've just sent it to DSF on a lark, although I concur with a number of the commentors that it is more of a forschbise ("appetizer"). It is this work that I expanded to 10K this month. I estimate the Act 3 will add 3-5K more words; thus again creating a novelette of unsaleable length and possibly plot: this story is more a relationship-centered tale than a fantasy adventure (despite the inclusion of a broxa, a golem and an Assyrian demon.) [Wink]

My Jack Vancian science fantasy novelette is also 2/3 complete. It is an exercise in world-building with spectacular (at least for me) natural and architectural settings--with human colonists now reverted to medievalism, native alien species, adventure and political intrigues, sun crystals and sky galleons, princes and merchants...well, you get the idea. I've sketched a world and city map and drawn one artistic rendering of the cliff-hanging capital city. I considered opening this up as a "shared world" to those who may be interested--though Extrinsic's late-lamented "Hatrack anthology" thread with its plethora of legalistic, editorial, financial, copyright, and time-demanding, etc. requirements has made me think twice. If I cannot find a simple way to make this work and not impinge my primary creative rights and control, I'll need let go of the shared world idea. Too bad. I think it would be fun.

You are correct that my stories are not avaiable, with the exception of two published flashpieces. I'm hoping to become a part-time doc in two years and in the interval I'll continue to "build content" and write when I can (though not as faithfully as yourself or, I surmise, most Hatrackers). With the help of my cousins (whose business is website creation), I'll put up an author's site and blog then and have all my stories, including the Kabbalist ones, available electronically and probably for free. Perhaps I'll follow my mother-in-law's gracious example, though require less reader commitment, with have a button to donate voluntarily to charity for those so inclined.

Ok, enough wool-gathering. Lunchtime is nearly over. As always, LD, thank you for your encouragement.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
P.S.S. on my recommendation above re: Lord Dunsany's The Hoard of the Gibbelins a near flash piece--written 100 years ago! (1912)--that I still find to be a masterpiece of fantasy, and inspires awe (and envy) in me as a would be writer. Read it here: http://www.sff.net/people/DoyleMacdonald/d_hoard.htm

See Sidney Sime's illustration here: http://www.victorianweb.org/art/illustration/sime/6.jpg

...and "Priceless", listen to an audio reading of the tale by Vincent Price! http://vincentprice.org/audio/1%20-%20The%20Book%20of%20Wonder%20-%20Hoard%20of%20the%20Gibbelins.mp3

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
This month recommendation, delayed first by being busy on the first, followed by blackouts on the second:

Giant in the Shadows: The Life of Robert T. Lincoln, Jason Emerson.

Now, some of you may have seen my rants 'round here on this subject, but one of the things that just sets me off is finding out that somebody's had some kind of success and is "the son of" somebody well-known. Literary success or otherwise. Both by the notion that they "made it" just by being "the son of," and that maybe I haven't because I'm not. (There are other reasons for my not making it, I freely admit that.)

But the obverse also fascinates me: how somebody who is the "son of" somebody manages to break through and establish themselves.

Robert T. Lincoln is likely the ultimate "son of." This is a person I've always wanted to know more of, but he almost always appears as a footnote to his father's story. The thesis of this book is, to quote a bit of it...

quote:
...had Robert Lincoln not been the son of Abraham Lincoln, his achievments today would be studied by schoolchildren along with other captains of industry such as Carnegie, Rockefeller, Morgan, and Pullman.
It's well-supported by the narrative and gathered facts, and tells an interesting story along the way. There was a lot of tragedy in Robert T. Lincoln's life---not just what you already know.

*****

Something comes to mind that's generally neglected here. This book is kinda pricey---these high-end university-press things tend to be that way. I can afford it, but if you can't, well, there are lots of good books for considerably less. (I don't know if it's available for Kindle or Nook, which I hope would be a lot cheaper...)
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Now reading MYTH-FORTUNES by Robert Aspirn and Jody Lynn Nye.

Latest in the M.Y.T.H. series. A lighthearted fantasy.

I was going to read the next in The Walker Papers ---talk about outstanding openings try a great last sentence in the pervious Walker book--- But I grabbed the MYTH one since I needed a smaller book then decided to keep reading it because I needed lighthearted one after the Green book. Of the his three current series it's his heaviest. So lighthearted is good right now.

Hopefully there's not too much in there and it all makes sense.

And I forgot to add they get involved in a pyramid scheme with real pyramids.

[ June 05, 2012, 11:45 PM: Message edited by: LDWriter2 ]
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
Well, the recent theft of my Kindle and IPod along with my writer's laptop left me without reading material for my flight home from Los Angeles to Maine. Thus, I could neither continue reading the last few stories in Writers of the Future Vol #28 nor continue listening to an audiobook recording of E.R. Eddison's fantasy classic The Worm Ouroborous.

The airport newstand had little in their "science fiction" section that was not a paranormal-romance-urban fantasy-young adult genre with cloaked male figures or vixens in tight leather(and these were all mid-series volumes to boot). I finally selected a steampunk novel, because I've read so few, even though it was also the third volume by the author in his created world: Stephen Hunt's The Rise of the Iron Moon. The setting is an alternate steampunk Europe with familiar countries, peoples, and mythologies despite the different names. In the Kingdom of Jackals (a pseudo-England) five centuries after a mercantile revolt that topples and imprisons the monarchy, a young royal has about of insanity, kills one of her jailors, and escapes the Royal Breeding House prison with the help of a strange lad. The boy has come to warn and help save the Earth from the Army of Shadows that threatens to make the Earth a wasteland and its people slaves or food. There is earth magic, living metal men, political intrigue, and worlds war (plural intended).

What I like about the book was the intimations of old classics (a strange mix of Dumas, and Verne, Wells, Lovecraft, and Burroughs) as well as some intriguing characters and new fantasy concepts (I surmise developed in his earlier two books) with old familiar ones (Druidic, Celtic).

It was an entertaining if not fantastic read (I'd give it 3.5 stars out of five), the ending full of action but I felt some of the major characters reverted to archetypes and thus lost their human relatability. Somewhat inevitable for this tale that mixes myth and steampunk science (a delightful mix, btw). However, the story is full of many wonders and distinct characters (even the mechanical ones) that I found very intriguing, and each of the plethora of characters do complete their story arcs.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
DR. Bob sounds interesting even though I'm not sure if I have seen that series. But recently there are tons of steampunk. I bought the second in one series today and thought about buying an anthology of 30 steampunk stories.


But I am reading, finally, the next C.E. Murphy Walker Papers. Been waiting for it-more so then usual-since I read the last line in the pervious book. Talk about great first lines this one would in the running for great last lines.

The books is "Raven Calls" and the series seems to be taking a sudden turn. Well, it did that last book, but this is even more so.
One thing though the opening is great but something seems subdued almost like someone else wrote it. Hopefully what I am feeling doesn't mean it's the last one.

Murphy is one of two writers whose storytelling ability I want. There just something special there.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
"...and there is nothing new under the sun." --Kohelet (Eccl.) 1:9

Hi, LD.

I've not read much steampunk, other than Jay Lake's Mainspring and...well, I'd include Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. I have also listened to an audio recording of Scott Westerfeld's YA novel Leviathan. I enjoyed the novelty of the genre with my first steampunk reading venture, but each successive foray seemed less satisfying--the one exception being Nick Tchan's WOTF winning story The Command for Love (but it has golems! [Wink] ).

I picked up Lavie Tidhar's The Bookman and Camera Obscura when Border's went belly up, and will thus likely again dip my toe into the steampunk pool someday.

I also feel the same regarding urban fantasy--that it is mostly repetition. Bookstore shelves ooze the stuff. Admittedly, I have not read much UF beyond the first half-dozen Harry Dresden novels--and even put them aside after the first two books to write my own UF Kabbalist novel. This, in the hope to avoid as far as possible, being a mere Dresden reflection. Don't think I succeeded, but it was still a joy to write.

Hmm. You know, I've been striving quite a while now to recapture that joy. I have been feeling guilty about not writing as much as I used to, not completing the half-dozen stories I've (reloaded) on my new computer, and not beginning the second Kabbalist novel I've plotted.

It's also been a year since I've sold anything, or received a personalized rejection letter. both which are very inspiring (especially a sale [Smile] ).

I've been reading far more--reading as a source for inspiration--mostly what I consider excellent fiction (e.g. last evening I re-read Isaac Asimov's The Bicentennial Man, possibly one of the best short stories in science fiction, in my humble opinion. However, setting such a high threshold for my own work is more depressing than inspiring. I need admit I'm a far better doctor than writer.

But Jewish guilt and my Type A personality will only make me self-flaggelate (...where'd I put those cat-o'nine tails?...). I've decided to dedicate time to write daily, even if only a mere paragraph or a sentence revision, to keep the creative cogs oiled...to make the wheel spin faster (though I fear I may be a caged hamster running to exhaustion in his wheel [Wink] ).

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

P.S. I also write too much of my thoughts in my posts here at Hatrack--and these posts are not as erudite or informative as extrinsic's or MattLeo's. I should save my ramblings for the Blog I do not yet have. [Smile]
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I've just started getting interesting in steampunk. The one I'm reading is about two British spies-that adds to the draw for me. I am writing two steampunk stories even though one is on hold and the other one was just taken off of hold. That one has what might be a UF flavor to it even with a technique I haven't seen in a story or novel for ages.


I completely understand the rest of your post. I haven't had any positive feedback for five years. Along those lines I decided that I will never be even close to Issac Asimov's level. You're closer to it than I am. When it comes to writing, since things find it hard to get through my skull I will be on my current level for a very long time to come. But at the same time I am a writer so I write. Part of writing is learning--or attempting to--the craft. So I continue.

I doubt you would have that problem so do more, if nothing else study and restudy teaching on writing.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Hmm, reading two novels at once.

The Murphy one I listed already and now "fated" by Benedict Jacka. It's UF something along the lines of the Dresden Files.

I started it sort of, kind oaf by accident. I had to have a blood test and to pick up some medication at the same place. So I took a book to read if need be. The Murphy book is trade back so wouldn't fi in my back pocket. I took 'fated" which would.

Jacka is hmm, well he seems to write abruptly. I think everything is there that should be but it feels abrupt. Not sure if I have ever felt that way about someone's writing before.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Once again I missed a first-of-the-month posting---but, then, except for some overtly political books which I won't bring up here because it'd involve discussing politics, I didn't really read any outstanding new stuff this month, though I picked up several things I plan to read...

There was one new book: Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust, by Ken Scott and Bobby Owsinski. Ken Scott was (and still is) a recording engineer turned producer, who worked with and on a lot of important and interesting music from the late 1960s on. And I'm a sucker for books about the Beatles---this goes beyond that, of course, and remains interesting---and the sections on the Beatles did actually answer a couple questions about oddities in the Beatles catalog.

I re-read a couple of books, which I think I recommended, years and pages ago, but in case I haven't I'll recommend them again:

The Candy Bombers: The Untold Story of the Berlin Airlift and America's Final Hour, Andrei Cherny.

1960: LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon: The Epic Campaign That Forged Three Presidencies, David Pietrusza.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I'm behind on my reading list. Started and finished a couple already.

But I wanted to add a series I read a while back.


If you like UF especially the Jim Butcher type, you will like the Dog Days series by John Levit. Good descriptions, humor, well thought out hero- who is also a musician, and an interesting little...um dog.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I read "Singularity" by Ian Douglas. The last book in a trilogy.

If anyone has noticed my comments it's the book I said was both hard SF and Space Opera. I think Ian fuses them in an entertaining way. He is great at action scenes, emotional turmoil and setting events up. But one thing though he tends to repeat things more than necessary. If it's been a while since he described how a law of physics effects a ship under a certain condition maybe he could give a short reminded but he goes back and restates the whole reasoning. I wanted to shout I know that already after the third time.

But that is my only main problem with his writing. There are a couple of points in the story I wasn't too thrilled with but most readers may not care. The futuristic world he developed is pretty much a liberal's dream for society but it's possible something could happen along those lines.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Reading "A Hard Day's Knight" by Simon Green.


His latest paperback Nightside book. I say paperback because the next hardback is out.

Green does have an interesting way of writing, with a strange--maybe twisted--sense of humor but exciting and suspenseful too. Even though not as suspenseful as some writers. The type of story where you hang on because you never know what is coming next.
 
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Finally found a really, really good YA fantasy. SERAPHINA, by Rachel Hartman.

Dragons, intrigue, secrets, a dash of romance. Great fun.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
Recent reads:
The Gates by John Connelly. An acccident at CERN (the bif particle collider in Europe) leads to the inadvertant opening of the Gate to Hell just in time for Halloween and young Samuel Johnson, his trusty dachsund Boswell, and their friends must save the world, the universe, and everything. An educational spoof in a style I can only describe as Douglas Adams meets Stephen King.

Elak of Atlantis by Henry Kuttner. One of the first imitations of Conan, and one of the best. Collects the Weird Tales stories of the 1930's. http://www.amazon.com/Atlantis-Planet-Stories-Henry-Kuttner/dp/1601250460/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1343678910&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=Elak+of+Atlantis

Numerous classic Ballantine Books Adult Fantasy series ed. by Lin Carter:
Collections:
Dragons, Elves, & Heroes published 1969. http://www.amazon.com/Dragons-Elves-Heroes-Lin-Carter/dp/0345217314/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343679008&sr=1-1&keywords=Dragons%2C+Elves%2C+and+Heroes
The Young Magicians published 1969 http://www.amazon.com/Young-Magicians-Lin-Carter/dp/0345217306/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343679069&sr=1-1&keywords=the+young+magicians

These two volumes collect stories and excerpts from the great classic fantasy epics of the ancient and modern world.

Novels:
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath H.P. Lovecraft's early fantasy works in the world of human dreams and nightmares. This is young HPL as inspired by Lord Dunsany. One of my favorites. http://www.amazon.com/DREAM-QUEST-KADATH-Edited-introduction-Carter/dp/B001626SU2/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343679437&sr=1-10&keywords=dreamquest+of+unknown+kadath
Also Jason Thompson's graphic adaption: http://www.amazon.com/Dream-Quest-Kadath-Other-Stories/dp/0983989303/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343679437&sr=1-3&keywords=dreamquest+of+unknown+kadath

Khaled by F. Marion Crawford. published in 1891. A jinn becomes human and seeks to gain a human soul and salvation by earning the love of the Sultan's daughter, but she cannot comprehend what love is or why it is important. Free on Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Khaled-A-Tale-Arabia-ebook/dp/B004UJ8MDE/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1343678594&sr=1-2&keywords=Khaled

Currently reading former Hatracker Martin Davey's Blood of the Gods, the second in his anticipated 4 book series. One of the best of the self-published authors I've read as yet. http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Gods-Earth-Book-ebook/dp/B008BTNLDU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343679756&sr=1-1&keywords=blood+of+the+gods

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
(Vacation Day 3. Brain cleansed and rested. Tomorrow I write.)
 
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Meredith:
Finally found a really, really good YA fantasy. SERAPHINA, by Rachel Hartman.

Dragons, intrigue, secrets, a dash of romance. Great fun.

Glad to hear it, Meredith. Sounds like my kind of book.

Have you read TOOTH AND CLAW by Jo Walton? The above description fits it as well (IMO, that is).
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Here's a few:

The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King---The Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea, Walter R. Borneman. An interesing history of how the naval side of World War II was fought and won, interesting because of how it dives into the biographies and histories of these four men (and some others along the way).

Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero, Larry Tye. Not a biography, or one of those things that picks up the details out of the literature and compiles them into a whole---the whole Superman saga is much too muddy for that to be satisfactory to anybody---but a history of the creation and marketing and place in Western culture of Superman. The comic books, radio, TV, movies, they're all here, them and the people who did them. The colorful characters met along the way. Who created what. And the messy legal battles, too.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Oops! Clicked too soon. Here's a few more.

Shooting Victoria: Madness, Mayhem, and the Rebirth of the British Monarchy, Paul Thomas Murphy. Did you know there were at least eight serious attempts on the life of Queen Victoria? Well, I didn't. It's interesting to see how the modern monarchy, and the British justice system, were shaped by these attempts.

I Got a Name: The Jim Croce Story, Ingrid Croce and Jimmy Rock. A biography of one of my favorite singers, another one of those who died too young, by his widow. I knew some of this, but certainly not all---and there was a certain amount of behavior that, well, I found disillusioning. But I'd prefer to know more than to wallow in ignorance, and Croce remains a favorite.

Witness, Whittaker Chambers. I've had this for awhile. I've read several accounts from people who've said reading this was a life-changing experience. My life has already been changed, along those same lines, by other books---among them, a straight biography of this same Whittaker Chambers---so I wasn't expecting that kind of effect. I didn't get that, but some of the info was interesting, maybe all the more so because of what's come out in retrospect that backs it up. Chambers also goes into more depth and detail into his own life than most other sources, too.

(And I've got other books still waiting for me. For instance, the abovemention Witness was compared to The Confessions of St. Augustine by several people, but I hadn't read it before, which inspired me to pick up a copy of Confessions. More as it develops.)
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Speaking of Mary Robinette Kowal as we some were on the intro forum...

Before I get further into it I need to say that I am reading "Shades Of Milk And Honey" By her.

A very interesting world indeed. A slow beginning, but it gets into the world and Jane. And Mary's writing keeps me reading, she is a good story teller and I like to read stories.
 
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LDWriter2:
Speaking of Mary Robinette Kowal as we some were on the intro forum...

Before I get further into it I need to say that I am reading "Shades Of Milk And Honey" By her.

A very interesting world indeed. A slow beginning, but it gets into the world and Jane. And Mary's writing keeps me reading, she is a good story teller and I like to read stories.

Wait until you get to Glamour in Glass. [Smile]
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Besides me typing too fast there and leaving things, like letters and words out, in that last post I am intrigued. I can see it going in three different directions but I will have to wait to see if I'm close with any of those ideas.

I forgot to mention it's not what I usually read but that doesn't matter now that I am into it.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I am also reading "Prince Of Wolves" by Dave Gross. It's part of the "Pathfinder" series. I got it free.

Kowal's book is in my Nook, Saturday I had a flat tire and needed to sit somewhere for an hour or so. I didn't want to take the Nook, for fear of dropping it or leaving it.

Prince is written in an interesting manner. We have had discussions here about different POVs and such, this book would be a good example of two techniques at once. First every other chapter Gross switches between two MCs. Second: one MC is writing a journal to share with someone he is looking for. The other MC is in the usual First Person. Danger abounds and the MCs each have their share of tension of various types.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
Its been awhile, but I just re-read/listened to every completed work by JRR Tolkien. IN regard to LOTR, I am struck by its lack of the commonly expexted novel narrative structure. It flouts conventions and at times rambles where it wills, ignoring (in the second two books) main protagonists for hundreds of pages to follow other protagonists' adventures, and having hundreds of pages of denouement after the climax. Pacing is off; there are digressions regarding correlates with unknown and unexplained histories...

...and it all works.
The power and depth of world-building and the eternal themes of overcoming adversity, of good and evil, of love and loss, of loyalty and betrayal, of nature and industrialization, of fair things eternal and fair things passing overwhelms and flaw in story construction.

Which I find personally reassuring.

I also possess famed Mists of Avalon and Darkover author Marion Zimmer Bradley's two chapbooks from the 1970's entitled The Jewel of Arwen and The Parting of Arwen, the later being very short and quite an exquisite account of Elrond and Arwen's last moments and speech together. These little chapbooks are collectors' items, but they have been scanned for reading on line:

http://www.timelineuniverse.net/MiddleEarth/JewelofArwen.htm
http://www.timelineuniverse.net/MiddleEarth/ThePartingofArwen.htm

I am unsure if, or how, MZB received permission to write and publish them. How did she not infringe on the Tolkien copyright? Jewel was reprinted in DAW books The Year's Best Fantasy Stories ed. by Lin Carter (1975) with the legal page indicated "reprinted by arrangement with the author" and no mention of the Tolkien Estate.

These two brief works are essentially fan fiction by a professional author which were published for sale. I have not seen another example of this. Tolkien fan fiction by amateurs is prevalent on the web and most is...poor. Some is not (e.g. the novel Isildur by Brian Crawford http://tolkien.cro.net/talesong/isildur/contents.html ), but none have been printed by a publisher and offered for sale to my knowledge--with the exception of a couple short derivative fan works within the many critical essay reprints in The Tolkien Treasury.

After completing months traveling in all Tolkien's completed works, I am left with a sadness knowing that there is no more--and doesn't this best suggest how successful and great a storyteller he was?

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Do you count the posthumous releases, from The Silmarillion on down through the Histories and so on, as complete works? Since I learned of it, I've found the depth of Middle-Earth one of the greatest charms of Tolkien's work.

Somehow I missed these particularly Marion Zimmer Bradley works---y'know, I saw the titles back then, I think, and, somehow, never connected them with Tolkien. (I have Carter's The Year's Best Fantasy volumes 2 through 6, but not #1.)
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
Hi, Robert,

"No." I did not include the Histories or even Unfinished Tales as part of my current revisiting of JRR Tolkien, just his completed fiction (including the recent Children of Hurin and Sigurd and Gudrun).

Admittedly, I only read the first five of the histories cover to cover (and the Lhammas, the extensive linguistic philological section of Book five, almost did me in. Who goes to such depths? And I thought I was obsessive.) I did read segements of the later works, concerning the Istari (Wizards) and the unfinished stories that end Book Twelve. I am now in mind to go back to them and take on Book Six. But it is more stories I am interested in. I happen to possess many of the Iron Crown Enterprises Middle-Earth Role-Playing adventure books--though I never have played a single role-playing game (which demonstrates the extent of Tolkien collecting obsession [Wink] ). I bought them to learn even more about Middle-earth (especially the lands and architextual triumphs) and to glean from them new stories to enjoy. Last night I picked up #2009 Palantir Quest
http://www.icewebring.com/ICE_Products/M2/M2_2009_Palantir_Quest.php We'll see how far I get before I give up slogging through the disruption of the dice roll matehematics and character stats.

I am glad to provide you the thinks to the MZB Arwen stories. Enjoy. The Parting of Arwen is my favorite of the two.

We're showing our age to reference DAW Books' The Year's Best Fantasy edited by Lin Carter. [Wink] Whatever limitations he had as a writer, despite over 26 published works, Lin was a great editor and scholar of the history of fantasy literatire. His anthologies, and his introductions to them, are excellent. I also just completed his Balantine Books' Adult Fantasy Series anthology New Words For Old, and if you wish to be blown away by imaginative power, read Clark Ashton Smith's poem The Hashish Eater that was included therein but can also be found on line.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Took me almost ten minutes to dig my way into my library to find the books...forgetting I had my card index at my fingertips, with all the information, right behind me. Not certain why I don't have #1---but I bought #2 and #3 used, so probably it never turned up in my obsessive searches of the local bookstores. (There was no online anything in those days, for those of you who were born later.)

*****

A quick skimthrough of both Bradley stories proved interesting...as far as fanfiction (which these are) is concerned, one almost never sees one of the top-talent big-name writers doing any, and that accounts for the quality of the work. I must sit down and read them more thoroughly later today, if I get the chance.

Bradley was on the verge of her breakthrough with The Mists of Avalon when she wrote these---that puts her at the height of her powers when she wrote (or at least published) these.

(I'm impressed---it makes me feel better about turning out the occasional fanfic myself.)
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
I've never actually written fanfic.
Though I came closest to doing so when the outline for two novels came to me in a rush to complete the long-desired and long-lamented trilogy that was hoped for after the Joss Whedon film Serenity (based on his iconic short-lived sf television series Firefly).

The Firefly/Serenity series was the first creative work to thrill and inspire me to the degree the LOTR did when I was a lad. Boy, did I miss feeling that way.

Coincidentally, professional author Steven Brust (known for his excellent fantasies concerning Vlad Taltos) wrote a fanfic Firefly novel, My Own Kind of Freedom, that he ultimately made available for free: http://dreamcafe.com/firefly.html

So it seems my two most-beloved fictional worlds have fanfic written by professional authors. [Smile]

Respectfully,
Dr. Browncoat Bob
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Actually I finished this one tonight, I kept forgetting to say something about it.

Kinda long title here:

Christopher L. Bennent's Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations; Forgotten History.


A very interesting story filled with plenty of both real science and techno babble and ST history. For me it was hard to tell them apart at times. From the rather long acknowledgements in the rear, some of the theories and comments about time studies are real. Sometimes I think there's very little done with the study of time and time travel but every so often there is a report that states "oh yes there is". Enough real chorno study is happening to have real theories.

And along those lines some might find this book more intellectual than exciting. There is some ship battles and races against the clock but most deals with theory and ST history, specifically James Kirk's 17 now 18 temporal crimes that we know about. In this case it helps to have a knowledge of ST history including the animated shows. I only have small memories of the animated shows. Most of them I only saw once years ago. Unlike most past ST books this one draws heavily from a couple of those eps at times. A change in ST policies I believe.

But over all this book is not badly written. Some of the action scenes could use more tension and surprise but as I implied earlier action scenes are not the primary focus of this book. Dennis does do a good job keeping everyone and every theory straight, not to mention shifts in POV and time.

Oh, it also clears up a couple of lose ends some Trekkers and Trekies have been wondering about. How they were able to do certain things.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Didn't make the first-of-the-month posting...but, then, nothing except a few political books I won't go into here impressed me that much. Also things were kinda confused in my life and that distracted me.

I did reread A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn: The Last Great Battle of the American West, by James Donovan. I think I recommended it in this thread several pages / several years ago. It's a terrific book with great suspense (even though the outcome is known), does a good job recreating "what happened" (and detailing the how and why of the recreation in the endnotes). Also I think with this I could pinpoint just went so terribly wrong for Custer at Little Bighorn.

(Nathaniel Philbrick also has a good book about Custer's Last Stand---which I started rereading as soon as I finished this one.)

*****

On Star Trek books---I've read dozens and liked a few, one (Ishmael by Barbara Hambly) quite a bit, but one of the problems is definitely in the details---the books might establish something, but neither other writers nor the series proprietors had to respect it. (Someone said a few years ago that the books gave three different names and fates to the female Romulan Commander from "The Enterprise Incident" (I think) from the Original Series. Probably four or five more names and fates by now.)
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
I've been on a fantasy - sword & sorcery kick and have just finished James Enge's tales and novels of the 600 year old laconic alcholic humpback Morlock Ambrosius (son of Merlin), a Maker and Seer, whose infamy (partly untrue) is legendary (for who could be alive after 600 years) and is something parents use to keep disobedient children in line all across the continent of Laent where the sun and three moons traverse the sky west to east.

Enges' writing style, inimical of his protagonist, is terse, almost Spartan in its lack of oververbage and efficiency. And yet his characters are richly developed and fully realized as physically, intellectually, and emotionally relatable beings. There are moments of brilliant humor,but never overplayed. The stories are clever and entertainng. Perfect? No. But I found the time reading and (in some cases re-reading) them worth it.

The novels (the second of which are interconnected stories, mostly revised from those printed in Black Gate magazine in the last decade) are:

Blood of Ambrose
This Crooked Way
The Wolf Age


Free sample chapters are available at Pyr Books; e.g. http://pyrsamples.blogspot.com/2009/04/blood-of-ambrose-by-james-enge.html
http://pyrsamples.blogspot.com/2009/10/this-crooked-way-by-james-enge.html

The just released first of a "prequel" trilogy, that I have not read yet, is A Gile of Dragons.

A number of his Morlock short stories are free to read on-line:

A Book of Silences
http://pyrsamples.blogspot.com/2009/03/book-of-silences-by-james-enge.html

Fire and Sleet
http://pyrsamples.blogspot.com/2009/03/fire-and-sleet-by-james-enge.html

A Covenant with Death
http://pyrsamples.blogspot.com/2009/04/blood-of-ambrose-by-james-enge.html

The Red Worm's Way
http://www.jamesenge.com/redworm.html

A gem of a flash story: The Gordian Stone
http://www.everydayfiction.com/the-gordian-stone-by-james-enge/

and one, Traveler's Rest (enjoyable but not my favorite), can be downloaded for free to Kindle.
http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=james+enge&tag=googhydr-20&index=stripbooks&hvadid=6588423401&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=5838621092041338883&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt= b&ref=pd_sl_75bag7larj_b

The most recent Morlock short story The Singing Spear (which first hooked me on Morlock) appeared in the collection Swords And Dark Magic, a collection of today's contemporary s&s writers, which I recommend if you enjoy this genre.
http://www.amazon.com/Swords-Dark-Magic-Sword-Sorcery/dp/0061723819

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

[ September 03, 2012, 12:29 PM: Message edited by: History ]
 
Posted by Utahute72 (Member # 9057) on :
 
I have been reading the Longmire series. A bit out of the wheelhouse for this group, but an interesting well written series none the less. Reminds me a lot of the series Tony Hillerman wrote.
 
Posted by Utahute72 (Member # 9057) on :
 
Robert, there is also a good book on Custer, "Son of the Morning star", which may interest you. I know I start reading something and it sends me down a path where I start reading a lot of similar stories. I read "The Legacy of Heorot", which cause me to then read "Eaters of the Dead", the Original "Beowulf" and "Grendel".
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
By Evan S. Connell, if I recall right...I read it when I was a kid, but, offhand, don't remember much of it...though it was more of a biography of Custer than an account of the battle. The two books I mention give some weight and space to the activities and histories of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, among many others---essential to any understanding of what went on.

The Battle of the Little Bighorn is one of those events that fascinate me, like the fall of the Alamo or the sinking of the Titanic or the assassination of JFK---important, but with details sketchy and accounts often contradictory.
 
Posted by mayflower988 (Member # 9858) on :
 
I just finished reading Origin by a former classmate of mine, Jessica Khoury! It's an amazing YA sci-fi/fantasy novel about a genetically-engineered immortal girl living in a lab in the Amazon rainforest.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Reading "The Janus Affair" by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

Steampunk to the core. Second in a series about two special British agents solve the unusual. One is a bookish nerd you might say. But he has his moments and secrets. Actually everyone has secrets. Even the boss of the agency---a forerunner of MI5. At one point in the first book it seemed that he was working for the bad guy but it turned out his secret had nothing to do with the case the two were working on. The first book revealed two of his secrets but not at once. The writers hinted at it at first. This book reveals her--his partner--secrets or two and maybe the boss's also.

Good writing, good scenery, interesting machines and restaurants, Emotional tensions of various types and reasons.
 
Posted by Brent Silver (Member # 9929) on :
 
Finished Earthfall by OSC--the Homecoming series is the first thing I've read by him in over a year, really. I've enjoyed it quite a bit and started on Earthborn.

I'm also reading Grimm's Fairy Tales for the first time and remain highly amused that these were children's stories. I've no complaints since I've always been a fan of horror, but still, it's amazing what they could get away with in earlier centuries than you could probably get away with now in the kids' section.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Okay, I am starting a new book, even though I haven't actually read anything in it I wanted to get it on here now instead of half way through or after I finish it.

The Book is "All Spell Breaks Loose" by Lisa Shearin.

Great writer but I'm not really sure if I want to read this one now. It's been calling me as usual for Lisa's books but this one will be sad. I haven't even touched it yet and I know that for it's the last one in a great series. Lisa is a good writer, she came up with a great world and hero. Not to mention situation. But it's the last one..... I'm going to miss Raine Benares and I hope Lisa will come back to her some time in the future.

This being the end was a surprise, I hadn't realized that Raine was going to have only one adventure. A very long one-six books-and actually there are many mini adventures mixed in but one thing to solve. That brings me to the one criticism I have of Lisa or thought I did. Raine's continual problem with a certain Rock--which is all I will say about it--I kept thinking it's time to deal with it and go on to another adventure. Well, she ain't, going on that is.

But Lisa is still writing a new UF series coming out next year or the year after since she has just started it. 25,647 words as of Sept 13. So it may not be on the shelves 'till the year after...so long to wait.

But I recommend the Raine Benares books. Great Fantasy.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Somewhat delayed, but, again, little excited me other than these two books.

Endtown 1 and Endtown 2, Aaron Neathery.

These are collections of an ongoing Internet Comic---but my experiences with reading online and on my Nook Color have only reinforced my affection for reading printed books. (I've also spent some time this month printing out, cutting out, and then taping up in spiral notebooks, the successor strips to these---if more books come out, I'll get them, too.)

The comic? Well, it's (mostly) about the adventures of a couple of characters in a post-apocalyptic world. Albert is (apparently) human, but Gustine has mutated into the form of a rhino---this is a world populated by a lot of anthropomorphic creatures, with the advent of World War Three and a new form of radiation causing the human population to (mostly) mutate into various animal forms. Endtown is a community of such mutants, some six years after the disaster, mutants who are under constant threat from unmutated "topsiders" who want nothing more than to destroy them (or worse), while the mutants have to struggle just to gather up leftover food (mostly beans, it's said). But they threaten nobody and are (mostly, again) just trying to survive and come to terms with what they've become.

I've been a sucker for this sort of thing, from Pogo on down through Rocko's Modern Life---but this provides justification for why they all are what they are.

The strips in these books are also laugh-out-loud funny---you wouldn't think something so post-apocalyptic would be so funny---but you can strip that away and you're left with compelling and often tortured characters who hold your interest and make you want to follow their adventures.

It's an ongoing strip on GoComics, beyond these books---but, if you take an interest, be warned that the humor departs for lengthy times, particularly this last month-and-a-half---and what remains is the human drama of it all...but it's well worth the effort.

In any case, here's a link to the ongoing stuff:

http://www.gocomics.com/endtown
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Breaking in a little early to mention these books I've gotten my hands on:

American Science Fiction: Four Classic Novels: 1953-1956, The Library of America (Gary K. Wolfe, editor.)

---and---

American Science Fiction: Five Classic Novels: 1956-1958, The Library of America (Gary K. Wolfe, editor.)

For the record, the novels included are:

The Space Merchants, Frederik Pohl & C. M. Kornbluth
More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
The Long Tomorrow, Leigh Brackett
The Shrinking Man, Richard Matheson
Double Star, Robert A. Heinlein
A Case of Conscience, James Blish
The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
Who?, Algis Budrys
The Big Time, Fritz Leiber

Every one of these are all classics of science fiction, now nicely available in a neat Library of America edition. Mine is a boxed set, but the volumes are available separately. I got it from Amazon-dot-com, but it should pop up in any of the big chain bookstores sooner or later.

I've read and reread, enjoyed and studied these since I first encountered them---Double Star is the first adult Heinlein book I ever read---and, for you serious SF writers and students of the genre, who haven't read these books, go and get this set and read them right away. You can't understand the written form of SF unless you've read these.

[edited 'cause I managed to omit one whole novel]

[ October 11, 2012, 06:49 AM: Message edited by: Robert Nowall ]
 
Posted by Matt.Simpson01 (Member # 8937) on :
 
Recently, I've listened to all the currently published Iron Druid Chronicles books. I love them, and would recommend them to anybody who wants a good fantasy book that doesn't get too seriously weird on them.

I started listening to the Dresden Files books last week. I admit, these books are drawing me in. I like the action in them. the supernatural aspect is believable instead of just out there.

I also am getting started on the third novel in the Camulod chronicles by Jack Whyte. The series is a play on the Authurian legend in England, but set at first about 100 years before Romans leave the island. It is a good series to read, a very well done job of putting together legend and history.

As my bathroom reader, I just started the Heaven Makers by Frank Herbert. Only a few pages in, but interesting from the start.

School affects my time to read, so i get it in when i can. Only ten more classes til i get my degree though, so nonessential reading gets put on hold a lot.
 
Posted by wirelesslibrarian (Member # 9513) on :
 
Just finished reading Son, by Lois Lowry. It's the long-awaited sequel to Newbery winner The Giver, one of my all-time favorite books. The Giver was my first foray into a dystopian world, and sort of the yardstick I use to measure all other dystopian tales. Anyway, Son did not disappoint. The story is told from the perspective of Gabe's birthmother, and details her struggles to be reunited with him. Are Gabe and Jonas featured within the story? Read it to find out!
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Reading "Dreadnaught:The Lost Fleet, Beyond the Frontier" . By Jack Campbell.

Space Opera. First in a second series about Captain John, "Black Jack" Geary.

Last series he beat up the bad guys and brought home a fleet that had been trapped. But he found some aliens on the way now he has to find out about the aliens. There are all types of other stuff going on.

Campbell is a good action writer, a great universe he thought up, but some of the interpersonal relationships seem a bit on the cardboard side. Overall though I am still reading, and recommend it to those who like SO.

Oh, Matt. I've thought about reading the Iron Druid series more because of a recent book I didn't realize was part of a series when I looked it over. I need to take a second look at the first one.

And Wireless that is what "Son" is about. I've seen it advertise, including on my Nook Book Newsletters, but had no idea what it was about or that it wasn't general Fiction.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Reading "Lie & Omens" by Lyn Benedict. Part of a series--Shadows Inquiries.

I have mixed feelings about this series.

It's not my favorite, it's darker than usual even for UF, I don't like where Lyn goes all the time with the plot and I'm not totally sure I like the MC. But Lyn is some writer, she knows: how to do suspense, how to put her MC in danger time after time and she does the Try and Try thing, David talked about in one Kick, very well. One could learn to write better by studying her style.

And It's the model and half the inspiration for one of my WIPs. The way it's going it could take another year to finish that WIP and when I do I will have to go back over it since I'm adding characters and background as I go along as I recall it is suppose to be modeled after Lyn's work.

And I wonder if she is related one way or another with another writer. The other half of the inspiration. Both writers use a character with the same problem, and both names the bad guy side of magic users and mythical creatures. Maybe they are the same person or have read the same how to book on plotting (shoulder shrug)
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Well, a few, and on the first of the month, yet:

The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Best-Kept Secret: The Unknown Studio Musicians Who Recorded the Soundtrack of a Generation, Kent Hartman. Yeah, I knew about a lot of these guys, names and records and all...even then, some of the things they played on surprised me...and there's a wealth of info I didn't know, some of which is jaw-dropping.

Final Victory: FDR's Extraordinary World War II Presidential Campaign, Stanley Weintraub. Even when you know some of these things, it's nice to see them lined up again, often with facts that are wholly new. (And I particularly enjoyed a part working its way through my hometown---it gives some validity to my existence.)

Fatal Dive: Solving the World War II Mystery of the USS Grunion, Peter F. Stevens. An interesting and forgotten story that turns on a long-forgotten problem at the outset of World War II...this account takes it through all angles, the personal and the technical, the 1940s and the present-day. Well worth a read. (A big thick expensive book, though.)

Monty Python's Flying Circus: All the Bits: Complete and Annotated. What it says (though the movies are excluded---separate volume, maybe?) The scripts for the TV series, annotated---which means obscure-to-Americans Briticisms are explained, variations between script and screen, where they almost burst out laughing at each other. Previous editions just printed the words, and this explains them---and it's not crude or condescending about it like some other annotations I could mention.

I'm partway through The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965, William Manchester and Paul Reed. Some of you might have seen one of my rants about incomplete series and multivolume biographies where further parts never appear. This was a big offender: the first two parts were published in 1983 and 1988, the writer became dreadfully ill and unable to complete it (he died in 2004), and it has at last appeared, completed by another.

It's an intensely interesting exploration of Churchill, his life and his times, a biography and a history all rolled into one. I'll recommend it (though I haven't finished it and have spotted, I think, one error).

My SF reading was mostly rereading two favorite old "Star Trek" novels: Spock Must Die!, James Blish, and Ishmael, Barbara Hambly. Battered old copies, long out of print, I think. I bought a couple new books (also reprints) but haven't read them.

I had more time for reading 'cause I was on vacation. I may have forgotten a book or two, and may make a post or two about them when I remember them...
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
My reading drops off when I'm trying to write. I simply am unable to find time to do both. It is "either-or" for me, unfortunately.

That being said, I've read:
The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon. This literary cross genre (alternate history, sf, murder mystery) novel won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and Sidewise Alternate History awards for Best Novel in 2008 as well as nominated for the British SF Association and Edgar Poe Awards. It is the kind of story I admire. The language sings. It is rich and deep and as flavorful as a three layer chocolate pudding cake with a fresh strawberry riding upon a sugar-coated mint leaf and the crest of a dab of whip cream, homemade of course. I recognize for some readers this command of language may distract from the story, but as writers we can help but admire his prose. The world and characters are real and rich, and the mystery multifaceted, spiraling first slowly but inevitably with increasing speed toward its climax at the center of a personal, socio-political, and ethical maelstrom. Despite its impressive list of rewards, readers and critics either hate or love it (much like the response to my October novelette The Witch's Curse, in retrospect). I can appreciate why it one the Nebula and Locus Best Novel Awards, but was surprised it won the fan-based Hugo. It is a literary work. Non-genre, imho. It gives me hope.
http://www.amazon.com/Yiddish-Policemens-Union-Michael-Chabon/dp/0007149824

I'm also in the midst of another literary cross-genre author with a great command of language and vocabulary: The Frozen Rabbi by Steven Stern. "...the story of how a nineteenth-century rabbi from a small Polish town ends up in a basement freezer in a suburban Memphis home at the end of the twentieth century. What happens when an impressionable teenage boy inadvertently thaws out the ancient man and brings him back to life?" --http://www.amazon.com/Frozen-Rabbi-Steve-Stern/dp/1616200529/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1351883749&sr=1-1&keywords=the+frozen+rabbi
It is entertaining, often funny and sad simultaneously, and an accurate portrait of the past and the present societies it depicts and the eternal search for meaning in our lives.

FInally, for light breaks, I've discovered all the Elfquest comics I used to collect and read beginning in the 1970's are available free on line for on-screen viewing! There were so many knock-offs that I stopped buying them (couldn't afford to back then), but now I can read the entire series (all 6500 pages) at my leisure. The original storyline by Wendi and Richard Pini I believe is better than the later knock-offs where guest writers and artists were invited to dabble--but I'm not done yet. http://www.elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics3.html

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by babooher (Member # 8617) on :
 
I finally got my hands on Kevin J. Anderson's Clockwork Angels. It is based on Neil Peart's lyrics (primarily from the Rush album of the same name). It has artwork from Hugh Syme. I'm a fan of everyone I've listed. The book is steampunk and for me seems to err on the YA side. The many allusions to the lyrics (both old nd new) will give a Rush fan a smile, but I also find myself pushed out of the story when I see the wink and nod to Rush songs. It is an interesting experience to listen to the music that inspired the book. Kind of like a soundtrack.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Reading, Finally, "Ghoststory" by Jim Butcher.

I say finally because I waited 'till it came out in paperback--actually I think it'sTrade--and it's been sitting on my pile of new books for a couple of months. I decided to read it out of order.
Jim has some good writing in this one...he does know how to turn a phrase. And he knows how to punish his character, to make him feel unsure and not be a superman. When I go back over my NaNo Novel that is one thing I will be looking for. Even though my hero is hundreds of years old and has abilities above that of mortal man he is not perfect nor should he be. I need to make him doubt more, get more bruises almost get killed more. I did that a couple of times but in other fights he might be just too perfect.

Without writing any spoilers with this one or the previous book, I just want that there's something in that previous book me and my wife and probably a bunch of Butcher fans, suspect. If what we suspect is true Butcher is being very coy about it as you would expect. Even though right now there was something that, could say it ain't so. But we shall see.


But in either case I am reading the book way too fast. About half way through already. Of course I've been reading it for a week.
 
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
I'm currently reading Lois McMaster Bujold's CAPTAIN VORPATRIL'S ALLIANCE. She sucked me right in to spending way too much time reading--again.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Reading Patricia Brigg's "Mooncalled" finally. It's first in a series.

It's about a female auto mechanic who can turn into a coyote...no she isn't a were but a type of skinwalker. She gets mixed up with wolves and vampires a couple of feas, murder and mystery.


I like Patricia's writing but this one didn't quite seem my style, after a couple of people over on the Jim Butcher web site encouraged me to I bought it.

It's UF and/or paranormal. I'm not quite sure if I like what Patricia has done with the werewolf and vampire myths but her writing has me hooked.

If you like stories about werewolves and vampires and such or just plain good writing buy it.
 
Posted by MattLeo (Member # 9331) on :
 
I'm reading Charles Portis's satirical western novel *True Grit*, which happened to be Roal Dahl's favorite novel. I'll do a book report when I'm done.
 
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MattLeo:
I'm reading Charles Portis's satirical western novel *True Grit*, which happened to be Roal Dahl's favorite novel. I'll do a book report when I'm done.

Looking forward to that, MattLeo.

By the way, have you seen either of the movie versions of the book?
 
Posted by MattLeo (Member # 9331) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury:
quote:
Originally posted by MattLeo:
I'm reading Charles Portis's satirical western novel *True Grit*, which happened to be Roal Dahl's favorite novel. I'll do a book report when I'm done.

Looking forward to that, MattLeo.

By the way, have you seen either of the movie versions of the book?

I've seen both. I love seeing John Wayne onscreen, but I have to say 13 year-old Hailee Steinfeld gives him a run for his money in the "charismatic performance" department.

It's been years since I've seen the Wayne film, but any movie with John Wayne in it instantly becomes a "John Wayne movie". I thought the Coen brothers movie put the spotlight back were it belongs, on young Mattie Ross. She's one of the great fictional characters of all time. I'll have more to say in my book report.

Since I'm speaking of the movies, I liked the soundtrack for the Coen brothers movie. There's a piano motif that runs through the score, and I kept thinking, "that sounds like an old hymn." It turned out, it was. It was Leaning on the Everlasting Arms:

quote:
What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

...which if you recall the iconic scene from both movies where Rooster is carrying Mattie to McAlester's store is another one of that movie's ironic touches.

I'm not surprised Dahl loved the book. Not only does it have a mix of adventure and dark humor *True Grit* is a writer's novel. I keep running into things I wish *I'd* written. It's even got a few writing insider-jokes.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Neglected to put up anything on the first of the month...haven't read much of anything that was compelling, except maybe some political books I won't bore you with.

I did finish The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm, mentioned above...that made for an interesting read.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
I listen to Books on CDs on my commute. I recently listened to Dean Koontz' Odd Thomas, the first of a number with this character who sees the dead and invisible phantoms attracted to violent death, has a sixth sense/innate homing capability, and a sometimes irritating humility and naivite. I have heard a lot about Dean, but not read him. He has mass appeal and is quite successful. He is much like Steven King in the "sparseness" of his writing style, memorable characters, and the horror of the commonplace. While predictable, the end of the story is moving, and overall the story is long on character and just not outré enough for my tastes. And yet... the climax is a shooting spree in a busy mall at holiday time. Thus I found this week's tragedy in the Clackamass Town Center mall all the more disturbing.

I've discovered one of my favorite books of all time, Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale is available on CD. I first read this when beginning medical school. The beauty of the prose awed me (it still does) and convinced me I had made the right choice in giving up writing for a medical career.

This reminded me of a number of fantasy works that I found ground-breaking yet few of today may recall. While every fantasy lover knows Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and most know Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast and Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea]trilogies, how many of you recall Richard Adam's Shardik (harsh reality fantasy of war and politics and religion written decades before Martin's Game of Thrones or Erikson's Malazan novels), or Alan Garner's The Weirdstone of Birmingham (which contains a crawling underground scene that no claustraphobe will be able to finish), or David Lindsley's A Voyage to Arcturus, or Austin Tappan Wright's Islandia, or Lovecraft's Dunsanian pastiche The Quest of Unknown Kadath?

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
quote:

This reminded me of a number of fantasy works that I found ground-breaking yet few of today may recall. While every fantasy lover knows Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and most know Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast and Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea]trilogies, how many of you recall Richard Adam's Shardik (harsh reality fantasy of war and politics and religion written decades before Martin's Game of Thrones or Erikson's Malazan novels), or Alan Garner's The Weirdstone of Birmingham (which contains a crawling underground scene that no claustraphobe will be able to finish), or David Lindsley's A Voyage to Arcturus, or Austin Tappan Wright's Islandia, or Lovecraft's Dunsanian pastiche The Quest of Unknown Kadath?

In order from LOTR on down: yes, yes, yes, yes, no, no, no, yes...though the names are all familiar to me.

How many have read any of Lord Dunsany's novels?
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
How many have read any of Lord Dunsany's novels? [/QB]

I have, though Dunsany is best known for his short stories.

My favorites:
The King of Elfland's Daughter
Don Rodriguez: The Chronicles of Shadow Valley
The Charwoman's Shadow
The Curse of the Wise Woman
The Blessing of Pan


Then again, I'm a Dunsany collector.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

P.S. I left Eddison's The Worn Ourobourous, Morris' The Well At World's End, and James Branch Cabell's works, particularly his Poictesme novels and his scandalous Jurgen.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by History:
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
How many have read any of Lord Dunsany's novels?

I have, though Dunsany is best known for his short stories.

My favorites:
The King of Elfland's Daughter
Don Rodriguez: The Chronicles of Shadow Valley
The Charwoman's Shadow
The Curse of the Wise Woman
The Blessing of Pan


Then again, I'm a Dunsany collector.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

P.S. I left out Eddison's The Worn Ourobourous, Morris' The Well At World's End, and James Branch Cabell's works, particularly his Poictesme novels and his scandalous Jurgen. [/QB]


 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Read the first three Dunsany novels as Ballantine Adult Fantasy entries (or reprints), but the others haven't turned up in my sight. I have strong affection for his short stories, of which I've got a few volumes---and once went through every short story anthology in the school library looking for some Dunsany nuggets.
 
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
MattLeo, I read the book about the same time I saw the John Wayne version and the thing that amazed me was how directly it translated into a movie (much of the dialog seemed to carry over word for word and so did much of the action). I had never seen that done so well between book and movie and suspected that Portis wrote it with a movie in mind. (The ending didn't match, however, and I figured that was a directorial decision.)

Having since read William Goldman's books about screenwriting and turning novels into movies, I'm still impressed, and I liked how the recent movie version fixed the ending so it worked the way it did in the book.

History, I'm sure I've read all of those old books you listed except the last two, though I've heard of them and may have read (or attempted to read) them as well. I thought the title of the last was THE DREAM QUEST OF UNKNOWN KADATH, however.

As for the more recent books you mentioned, I've only read the first in the Game of Thrones series, and I haven't heard of Malazan.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
You are correct, Kathleen. I must have fallen asleep when writing the title of HPL's The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath. [Wink]

Jason Thompson has a graphic novel adaption available, and a color poster of Lovecraft's Dreamlands (that also incorporates part of Lord Dunsany's Dreamland as well). http://store.mockman.com/collections/frontpage/products/dream-quest-poster-special

Brian Lumley (best known for his Necroscope series) also wrote a series of three novels and stories with a sword and sorcery twist within Lovecraft's Dreamlands [ http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=brian+lumley+dreamlands&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=20361330685&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=1375110136110861155&hvpone=&hvptwo= &hvqmt=b&ref=pd_sl_8rrk6yq2jr_b] and Gary Meyers wrote within them as well [ http://www.amazon.com/House-Worm-Gary-Myers/dp/0870540718 ]

All wonderful stuff, although the original Dunsany stories which so inspired Lovecraft stand a level above, in my humble opinion.

I've read The Game of Thrones and all its sequels but only read about the Malazan decology. They have a gritty realism and are more non-heroic than anti-heroic. They are not works I would consider "escapism" where one gets relief from the ugliness and injustice too often evident in the world where we are awake.

However much they are touted for this "new" type of "realism in fantasy", they were not the first to do so. Katherine Kurtz, for example, ventured into non-heroism in her Deryni series novel King Javan's Year (1992) that disappointed and angered me when I was so needing evil to be defeated and good to triumph. [Her first Deryni trilogy, by the way, is excellent old-fashioned heroic fantasy that I highly recommend].

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by MattLeo (Member # 9331) on :
 
Kathleen -- I just re-watched the John Wayne movie and yes, if you can get past the obligatory expository song (thanks for nothing, *High Noon*) the dialog and storyline are remarkably well preserved -- except for losing the novel's elegaic ending. In part this is possible because despite its emotional and intellectual heft, the novel is quite compact. I'd estimate not much more than 60,000 words.

Have you seen the Coen brothers version? They stated that they wanted to make a version that was truer to the book, but in fact they changed a lot more than the Wayne version does. Some of it exaggerates what is in the book, as in LeBoeuf's pompous character. Some of it muddies the story for no apparent reason (e.g. the setup for the shootout at the dugout). Some of it is just the Coen brothers indulging in their fondness ghastly gallows humor (and I literally mean "gallows humor").

But strangely, despite having many more changes than the '69 movie, the Coen brothers film *does* feel more true to the book. I think there's three reasons. First there is Hailee Steinfeld's jaw-dropping performance as Mattie. Kim Darby was *very* good, but Steinfeld is amazing -- especially considering she's about the right age for the part; if anything a tad young. She steals the spotlight from Rooster Cogburn and puts it back where it belongs, on Mattie. Second there's the first-rate soundtrack, which draws on authentic 19th century Presbyterian hymns (how's that for an in joke?). It's hard not to cringe at the sentimental cowboy-pop of the '69 film.

Best of all, the Coen brothers restored the bleak ending of the novel, and particularly bookending it with Mattie's narration of her father's murder. She scoffs at how Tom Chaney probably thought he'd got away scott free:

quote:
You must pay for everything in this world, one way and another. There is nothing free except the grace of God.
By starting the movie with this and ending it with Mattie's bleak future, this bit of Presbyterian moralizing becomes foreshadowing of what Mattie has to give to achieve her vengeance. That's a writerly touch. Another writerly touch is the opening quote from Proverbs 28:1 "The wicked flee when no man pursueth," in which they leave out (as Portis did) the rest of the verse: "... but the righteous are bold as a lion." That's a nice little Easter egg for us inveterate looker-upppers.
 
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Yes, I saw the Coen Brothers version as well, and, as I said above, appreciated that they were able to make their movie ending true to the book.

Hailee Steinfeld is amazing, especially in the way she was able to speak her lines so naturally. I could believe that she actually talked that way. Impressive!

I enjoyed both versions (and I was glad that Bridges didn't try to imitate John Wayne's Cogburn, but brought his own interpretation to the role).
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Changing the subject here [Wink]

I haven't read the book nor seen the second version so I have no idea what the ending should be. Loved the John Wayne version.


But I'm reading a short story collection--a UF anthology edited by P.N. Elrod Titled "Hex Appeal".

It has all of the favorite UF writers including the start of a new series by Jim Butcher. I say new series but I'm not sure if it will be books or short stories. Hope it has another noir style story with a certain vampire bar owner.


I also bought JJA's rather large Epic Fantasy anthology, I won't get to it for a while but it's waiting for me.

My muse perked up her head at the cover, A lady, probably of the evening, wearing a minidress is standing on a street corner while leaning against a building. To me--I'm sure some will disagree--her face shows she doesn't belong there. Not your usual hooker. So my muse told me a story, most of it anyway. She is a police officer undercover(Borrowing from Dr. Bob types of story) but it's not a police story it's a relationship story between a husband and wife. A rather short story--right now anyway--with a vampire that attacks her(so some paranormal) and magic(Some UF in it too).
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I haven't read these but some here like historical and Nonfic so I thought I would list these two.

"Custer" Here

This one may have been mentioned already but I saw it in a blurb in my local paper today.


And there is a book out that includes many Newspaper articles from the time of the Revolutionary War. Only problem it's rather large and probably is a coffee-table book. But I would find it interesting if I had more time to read.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
For those "True Grit" Fans I found this book at B&N Online by accident.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by History:
quote:
Originally posted by History:
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
How many have read any of Lord Dunsany's novels?

I have, though Dunsany is best known for his short stories.

My favorites:
The King of Elfland's Daughter
Don Rodriguez: The Chronicles of Shadow Valley
The Charwoman's Shadow
The Curse of the Wise Woman
The Blessing of Pan


Then again, I'm a Dunsany collector.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

P.S. I left out Eddison's The Worn Ourobourous, Morris' The Well At World's End, and James Branch Cabell's works, particularly his Poictesme novels and his scandalous Jurgen.

[/QB]
I'm finally getting to this. I just wanted to say that even though I don't recognize the name or the book titles it's very possible that I have read one or more these. I've read many book over the years that I can't recall or unless he-she struck me hard remember the writer. So if they have been out for a while I probably have read a couple at least.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
quote:

I'm finally getting to this. I just wanted to say that even though I don't recognize the name or the book titles it's very possible that I have read one or more these. I've read many book over the years that I can't recall or unless he-she struck me hard remember the writer. So if they have been out for a while I probably have read a couple at least.

1896 for The Well at the World's End, 1922 for The Worm Ouroboros, Cabell in the first half of the 20th Century (Jurgen in 1919), and for Lord Dunsany, in the order listed, 1924, 1922, 1926, 1927, and 1933, respectively. So they've all been around for quite a while.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
Unfortunately, it may be a challenge to find many of the novels of Lord Dunsany. The King of Elfland's Daughter is a must, however.
http://www.amazon.com/The-King-Elflands-Daughter-Impact/dp/034543191X/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1356365970&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=lord+dunsany+king+of+elfland%27s+daughter

However, you can find a few collections of his marvelous short stories for Kindle, many for free.
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_sabc?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&pageMinusResults=1&suo=1356365559372#/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_6?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=lord% 20dunsany&sprefix=lord d,digital-text,178&rh=n:133140011%2Ck%3Alord%20dunsany
These were the inspiration for many great fantasy authors, including Tolkien, Lovecrafy, Clark Ashton Smith, Jack Vance and more.

The Well At the World's End by William Morris and The Worm Ouroborous by ER Eddison and Jurgen by James Cabell can still be found, and I believe are available on Kindle for free.

Merry Christmas.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by MattLeo (Member # 9331) on :
 
Did you ever hear the *King of Elfland's Daughter* album by Steeley Span's Bob Johnson and Peter Knight? Christopher Lee narrated.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
No, it's the first I've heard of it---Steeleye Span [spelling uncertain] is familiar to me, but not that particular album.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MattLeo:
Did you ever hear the *King of Elfland's Daughter* album by Steeley Span's Bob Johnson and Peter Knight? Christopher Lee narrated.

Hmm. No, actually. And this is surprising to me.

I have a munber of albums (LPs) from the 70's, from readings by and songs regarding Tolkien's and CS Lewis' works to audio plays of REH's Conan (including one with a gorgeous Barry Windsor Smith cover signed by L Sprague de Camp). And from the 80's I have many more tape cassettes of similar type on a range of sf stories and novels.

But despite my once fervent search for all things Dunsanian, this little number I missed. Do you recommend it?

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by MattLeo (Member # 9331) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by History:
But despite my once fervent search for all things Dunsanian, this little number I missed. Do you recommend it?
[/QB]

Hmm. It was recorded in 1977, and it's a kind of odd duck. It feels like it wants to be longer -- as if it were a sketch for a rock opera that was never finished so they released it as a single LP folk rock concept album instead. While it follows the book's story more or less, it doesn't have quite enough room to for the narrative to gel, so despite Christopher Lee's booming narration it's more like listening to a series of songs based on the story than to the story.

My personal reaction on listening to it recently was that I enjoyed it, although much of that was was reliving listening to the record in my geek friends' basement apartment 35 years ago. I'd say that if you are a Dunsany fan and were a young adult in the late 70s, it's probably worth tracking down. Good vinyl copies fetch forty , and it was reissued as a CD in 2007 in the UK. You can get an imported CD for around $25.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
quote:
You can get an imported CD for around $25.
Offered for $25.99 on Amazon-dot-com.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
Thank you both.

I've been playing Santa Yid (working the Christmas-New Year-school vacation so my Gentile partners may enjoy the holidays with their children), I've had little time to write. Instead I'm in the midst of enjoying all that exists of "Jewish" science fiction. As this is akin to reading about "Jewish sports greats!" I thought this may not take me too long. [Wink]

My neighbor, friend, crime fiction author and Ellery Queen Magazine book reviewer, Steven Steinbock, has asked my help in crafting a syllabus for a course on Jewish SF that he will be teaching next semester. He's also asked to include one of my tales in his reading list, which is very complimentary.

Anyway, here's my reading list of anthologies that promote themselves as Jewish SF, but we will be assessing to see if they contain actual Jewish themes. We are discovering that many do not, or are only superficially "Jewish" despite having Jewish characters; and many of the stories in "sf" collections are actually fantasy.

Anthologies (multiple authors):
Wandering Stars ed. by Jack Dann (1974)
More Wandering Stars ed. by Jack Dann(1977)
The Stars of David ed. by D.J. Kessler (1996)
People of the Book ed. by Rachel Swirsky & Sean Wallace (2010)

Anthologies (single authors)
The Sweet and Sour Tongue by Leslie What (2000)
Everybody Has Someone in Heaven by Avram Davidson (2000)
Hebrew Punk by Lavie Tidhar (2007)

The list of Jewish novels is even shorter.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I remember reading the anthology Wandering Stars, but not, I think, in 1974. Library copy, I'm pretty sure, though parts of my collection are so inaccessible (and poorly indexed) it's hard to say for sure.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I was intrigued enough by the comments to, just now, order one of the five CDs [from independent sellers] that Amazon-dot-com was offering...and, just for the hell of it, ordered the current Del Rey paperback of Lord Dunsany's original book...then, lo! and behold!, another book I knew was out but hadn't yet seen popped up and I ordered that too.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I may have seen "People of The Book" not sure if I read it.

But these are listed as Jewish might there be some that are but not listed as such?

Anyway, I'm reading--just started for a change--"The Ninth Circle"
by R. M. Meluch.

It continues the adventures of the crew of the U.S.S. Merrimack a star going battleship built and operated by the USA. This one surprised me for two reasons. One is that the last book was the end but I guess Meluch had another story for them after all.
Second is that the writing is better than the last one. I can't recall the first three but number four in the series was not good writing. Lots of telling and confusing action with various characters. And toward the end one major character pretty much left her husband because of something he had on board but Meluch never said what it was. Certain scenes seemed to be added because they had to go somewhere.

So far, three to five chapters, this one is much better. Maybe that one was written real fast or he was sick during it or they found a lousy ghost writer.

I said I don't recall how well the writing was in the first three because between numbers three and four I learned some new things about writing. I saw how they didn't happen in the fourth one.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Continuing the trend of "not much grabbed me this month." Nothing new, though I reread a couple of books I've read before, some of which I've already mentioned here.

Probably the most intriguing new thing I read was Guy Antibes's Daughter Bereaved---Guy Antibes usually posts 'round here as "Owasm." I enjoyed it, though the fantasy angle was slight. It's like "Prisoner of Zenda" meets Jane Austen. Intriguing. (It's the first of a trilogy, but I've only got halfway through the second book---one thing crowds out another.)
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
For those who like such things, a lot of books on the Middle East, Iran specifically, and Chine just came out. My paper listed about ten of them.


But I'm reading "Cursed" by Benedict Jacka. Book number two in the Urban Fantasy series about Alex Verus. I'me still reading "The Ninth Circle" but I needed to go a couple of places I didn't want to take my Nook so I started "Cursed".

It's a very well thought out magic system and as is the main character Alex. A complex man of fears, desires, vulnerabilities, and honor, among other things.

Two things about the books. First is that Jim Butcher likes them and thinks they are on par with his Dresden files. He made other statements along those lines. \ Actually, I believe that John Levitt's Dog Days series should be getting those types of comments by Jim. Of course I need to say that Jacka might be the better writer but that's not saying Levitt is bad in anyway.

The second thing I want to say is that I have already come up with my own character for Jacka's world [Big Grin]

Most probably I will never get the chance to write a story legally but I know a lot about my character's background and who he is already. It would be fun to do him. Oops, no name yet. [Smile]
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Further addendum: I finally got around to listening to that musical CD / album version of The King of Elfland's Daughter yesterday morning. Not bad, not bad at all...it was nice to hear Mary Hopkin in a couple of vocals that aren't her Apple Records hits...but it's pretty short, only about thirty-five minutes, and lacks a good deal of the fine detail Lord Dunsany put into the novel. Well-produced well-written songs. (Glam rock?) Three stars out of four.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Just started "Dragon Justice" by laura anne gilman.

It's the next one and sounds like last one in a series by Gilman.

She seems to like to do shorter series.

This one is a UF series set in a world where some people have Talent where they can use a force much like electricity to do "magic". It's the second series set in that universe. The first one is was the "Retrievers" series. I think that one is a much better series but this one is great also.


If you like UF and/or Mysteries you will like this series.
I do have one criticism of Gilman's writing in this book. This series takes place in the same universe, city and time period as "Retrievers". Different events though. Mostly that is. In this book the MC references a major event that took
place in a "Retrievers" book. But the MC doesn't explain her part in the event nor even half way describes it. In other words if you haven't read the book where it happened you have no idea what went on. Of course it's not a major part of "Dragon Justice" so it may not be important but still,

[ February 02, 2013, 11:40 PM: Message edited by: LDWriter2 ]
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Normally I do that first-of-the-month thing, but that's tomorrow, and I expect to be relatively busy tomorrow, so I thought I'd get it out of the way now. (Other things get shoved to the second-of-the-month.)

Only a couple of books grabbed me this month. One, early in the month, is called Frank Sinatra: The Boudoir Singer, by Darwin Porter & Danforth Prince. This is a biography of Frank Sinatra in a sense---the "sense" being that it details his life by the lurid and twisted behavior he engaged in along the way. Libelous in the extreme, if Sinatra wasn't dead. Made for some compelling reading, despite its obvious crudity (and somewhat crude writing, I thought). Some of the stuff I'd heard before, but some was wholly new to me. And a lot of other celebrity misbehavior gets detailed, too. (Still, it did leave out some stuff I'd heard.)

Another one, towards the end of the month, this time: Sitting Pretty: The Life and Times of Clifton Webb, by (of all people) Clifton Webb, with David L. Smith. You may remember Clifton Webb, prominent actor in the 1940s / 1950s, from movies like "Laura," or "The Razor's Edge," or "Cheaper by the Dozen," or "The Stars and Stripes Forever," or "Sitting Pretty," or other titles. Had an interesting career arc---didn't become a major movie star until he was in his fifties, wasn't particularly handsome, was bitingly sarcastic. I only learned about this volume by chance last week and ordered it online. The first six chapters are by Clifton Webb himself (with some annotation)---he started writing his autobiography and got bogged down and never finished it. (I can sympathize with that.) Those chapters are interesting---they're written much like he spoke in the movies. But they only take his life as far as 1915 or so. The rest of the book is by the other-named writer. Still informative and interesting, though not as good as if Webb had gotten that far.

I spent some time rereading some books---several volumes in my Beatles book collection. I pick out new details practically on every pass. And I can say, though the books by their associates and friends often mangle the facts, they often give a compelling "I was there" sense of presence that more than makes up for it.

I picked up a copy of Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers and reread that---even when I read fiction, it's usually old fiction. It'd been some thirty years since I last read it, and I'd forgotten whodunit---but I picked that out about halfway through. (That, or I forgot I remembered.) Enjoyable. A biography of Sayers talks of how the book was "bowdlerized" (relating to a serious clue about the crime, actually)---and I wonder if an "unexpurgated" version exists, somewhere in Sayers's papers...
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Started "Ashes Of Honor" by Seanan McGuire


Part of the October "Toby" Daye series.

Very well done--great writing. She's one of my top favorite newer writers. One of two I want to be like. I say that every time but it's still true.


Very Highly recommended. Even though I'm not sure about those cover pics. The face of Toby never is quiet right. The rest of it isn't bad.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Some of you like to read Non-fiction historical books so thought I would leave this link. The top four are all about Presidents.

Books
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
I read Truman, but not the other two past it---and Coolidge has been on my short list for purchase since I heard about it, being an admirer of Amity Shlaes's book The Forgotten Man. Only not going to the bookstore, any bookstore, last week, prevented me from picking up a copy.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Did buy Coolidge this morning...hope to be reading it shortly...
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Sometimes I wish I had more time to read novels like that.

My dad used to read everything he could get his hands on but he was retried too...and not writing.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
So do I...I buy a fair amount of books, intending to read them, but never getting around to it. But I never buy a book I don't intend to read...
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I'm reading two.

I restarted reading the last WotF anthology and started "The Iron Wyrm Affair" by Lilith Saintcrow ---her name fits the genre.

It is a fusion of steampunk and Urban Fantasy. Not bad so far. The first chapter has a great action scene and explains some of what is going on. I little bit heavy on the steampunk devices for me but still not bad.

I've read the Rogue Wizard series by K. E. Mills which also is Steampunk-UF but in that case it was more UF this one has more steampunk.

But we shall see how it goes, I expect that I will buy the next one in the series.
 
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
Reading ENTWINED by Heather Dixon, a(nother) retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses story. I quite like it, and so far, it's in the "anxious to get back to it" category, which is pretty much the best I can say about books I read nowadays.
 
Posted by Wordcaster (Member # 9183) on :
 
Nearly done with Brandon Sandersons THE WAY OF KINGS. Some aspects are brilliant and addicting. Other parts feel a bit fat and could be trimmed extensively. Overall I am enjoying it and I trust he'll keep up.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
I just completed Lord Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter (G Putnam 1924). This is the classic fantasy that inspired Lovecraft, Tolkien, Vance, LeGuin, and so many other "greats" of modern fantasy. I thought I might emulate MattLeo's excellent thread of "writers' book reports" but do not know if I am up to the task. Instead, I offer the following:

At its core, the KoED is an idyllic pastoral romance, a counter (industrial) revolutionary epic in the tradition of the great British romantic poets (Wordsworth, Keats, et al).

Dunsany's mastery is in transporting the reader from reality to wonder, not merely the enchantment of Elfland, unicorns, trolls, witches, will-o-the-wisps, and runic magic, but also the charm of the "fields we know", the dawn and the moon and stars, cowslips and fields and forests, time and memory. And his "truth", as much as many wish to deny it, is that our worlds are inescapably linked:

"Alveric knew, that much as the glamour that brightens much of our lives, especially in early years, comes from rumours that reach us from Elfland from various messengers (on whom be blessings and peace), so there returns from our fields to Elfland again, to become part of its mystery, all manner of little memories that we have lost and little devoted toys that were treasured once. And this part of the ebb and flow that science may trace in all things: that light grew the forests of coal, and the coal gives back light; thus rivers fill the sea, and the sea sends back to the rivers; thus all things give that receive; even Death." (pp.83-84)

Elfland and Earth are like two sides of a silver coin, joined but opposed. Despite all, they share the one thing that is of infinite value,that transcends both: the love for one's family.

I'll offer only one additional quote from the many that still, despite so many decades, inspires awe within me. It is one that I believe many here hold close to their hearts and that guides their own pens:

"And little he knew of what ink may do, how it can mark a dead man's thoughts for the wonder of later years, and tell of happenings that are gone clean away, and be a voice for us out of the dark of time, and save many a fragile thing from the pounding of heavy ages; or carry to us over the rolling centuries, even a song from lips long dead on forgotten hills." (p.131)

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury:
Reading ENTWINED by Heather Dixon, a(nother) retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses story. I quite like it, and so far, it's in the "anxious to get back to it" category, which is pretty much the best I can say about books I read nowadays.

Not sure if I know that story.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by History:

I'll offer only one additional quote from the many that still, despite so many decades, inspires awe within me. It is one that I believe many here hold close to their hearts and that guides their own pens:

"And little he knew of what ink may do, how it can mark a dead man's thoughts for the wonder of later years, and tell of happenings that are gone clean away, and be a voice for us out of the dark of time, and save many a fragile thing from the pounding of heavy ages; or carry to us over the rolling centuries, even a song from lips long dead on forgotten hills." (p.131)

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob [/QB]

Be a good poster if a little long. Or wallpaper.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
A "little long", LD?
Suits me well then, don'tcha think? [Wink]
I think it is something I'd use in my blog design.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I'm reading a new one..decided to put off "The Iron Wyrm", it's not its time yet.


Now I'm reading "Poltergheist" Yes, that is no typo .

It's the sixth in a light hearted UF-romance series.

By Laura Resnick a very good writer. Love this series even with the romance element. The MC has no magic and is an innocent bystander--at least in the beginning.

I will say though that the continual problems between the MC and her love are grating on me but it's a small side issue-continual-not the whole thing.

Goodie, goodie I get read another one.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Pardon me if this is here some place I missed but for those who like epic fantasy with NO VAMPIRES try this one.

Blood Awakening

It does appear to have a romance element to it however.

On sale this weekend
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
After reading and listening to all of Tolkien's published work, I journeyed back in time to the works that influenced him: First, the Northern European epics such as Beowulf, The Norse Edda, and the Nibelungenlied--saving the complete Finnish Kalevala for another time. Second, the few "modern" fantasists he enjoyed. Lord Dunsany was one (see my review of The King of Elfland's Daughter above).

Another was the multi-talented William Morris. Last year I read his fabulous The Well at the World's End (1896), the epitome of the epic fantasy "quest" wherein the protagonist sets forth for the eponymous well of the book's title seeking adventure, his destiny, and near immortality--and, of course, love. The book is now in the public domain (e.g. http://morrisedition.lib.uiowa.edu/wellworldsend.html )

However, the first of Morris' fantasy novels was The Wood Beyond the World(1894), considered the first modern fantasy concerning a completely imaginary world imbued with the supernatural, and thus the precursor of today's fantasy literature. This is the story of Golden Walter who in despair takes to sea to escape the humiliation (and interfamily strife) related to his cruel wife's unfaithfulness. He is disturbed by visions of a beautiful mistress, a similarly becoming servant girl, and a cruel dwarf, all of whom he meets in the eponymous "Wood" of the book's title when the ship is driven off course during the storm to an unknown island. It is a strange story of love, deceit, and magic. The prose is rich with vivid imagery, which is the story's strength, but the archaic language and lack of depth of the cliché characters made this a far less enjoyable tale than the more robust Well and, in my humble opinion, Morris pales in both language and wonder when compared to Dunsany.

Yet, seeing the evolutionary threads in the development of the modern fantasy story makes these books worth reading.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

P.S. By chance, while my computer was being serviced, I randomly chose a book from my library and came across a delightful story by Ursula K LeGuin entitled Coming of Age in Karhide (1995), which takes place in her world of Gethen, the setting of her award-winning novel The Left Hand of Darkness. A fascinating story concerning a species (esp. its androgynous society and culture) of human beings whose gender can change between male or female. Somewhat oddly, for a short story, the first 2000+ words are a prologue in which the protagonist states what follows is a recollection of her/his coming into kemmer (puberty/sexual awakening) for the first time. I'm not sure a less established writer would escape criticism for such an unnecessary framing of the key story. However, this tale demonstrates why Ms LeGuin's has deservedly earned praise for her world-building expertise and her skill in poignantly holding up a mirror to our social-gender-cultural failings.
 
Posted by tesknota (Member # 10041) on :
 
I've been listening to "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", because I love driving places and I'm tired of listening to the same songs on the radio all the time.

I bet when I pick up the book, I'll be less confused because I'll actually see the page breaks. There's too much POV switching in audio. My head almost can't handle that, along with all the foreign names!

The story itself is interesting enough.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
As I continue my nostalgic re-reading of the great fantasy classics of yesteryear, I need also strongly recommend William Hope Hodgdon's masterpiece The Night Land and recommend its modern retelling by an underappreciated present day classic fantasy master, James Stoddard:

http://www.amazon.com/Night-Land-Story-Retold-ebook/dp/B004GKNM3W
$2.99 ebook

Buy it.

The Night Land (1912) is the story and quest of Andrew/Andros to rescue his beloved Mirdath/Naani. They are soulmates, eternal lovers separated by her tragic death in childbirth in the 19th century only to discover each other millions of years in the future when the sun has gone dark and the remnants of humanity have gathered in refuges, the mightiest being the Great Pyramid of the Last Redoubt where they are assailed by physical and cosmic horrors seeking to eradicate them, claiming not only their bodies but their souls. This is the time and place in which Andrew/Andros is reborn. Gifted with Night Hearing, he hears the call of his beloved from far across the Night Land, desperate and faint. She lives in a smaller redoubt far to the unknown and unmapped north. The Earth Current has failed them and evil is now battering at their walls. Against all wisdom, Andrew/Andros braves the Night Land alone, facing the ferocity of giants and night hounds, the soul-stealing presence of House of Silence and the Place where the Silent Ones Kill, and evil forces alien to human conception.

A truly masterful tale and wondrous terrifying world from the author who inspired all "Dying Earth" stories to follow, influencing writers from Lovecraft to Jack Vance. William Hope Hodgdon died at age 40 during an artillery barage in Ypres, France in 1918.

A great website for The Night Land, including a chronology/future history of Man, a gallery, maps, and short stories by various authors in this created world, can be found at http://www.thenightland.co.uk/nightmap.html

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by MattLeo (Member # 9331) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by History:
As I continue my nostalgic re-reading of the great fantasy classics of yesteryear, I need also strongly recommend William Hope Hodgdon's masterpiece The Night Land and recommend its modern retelling by an underappreciated present day classic fantasy master, James Stoddard

I'm curious, why re-told? Is it an update for modern tastes?

The original, by the way, available on Gutenberg in multiple ebook formats.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
As I recall, The Night Land had a very dense almost eighteenth-century style and wordchoice, as well as substantial distance from the use of a narrator. Difficult going, probably even when it was first published. So a rewriting in Modern English might go over. (Probably it'll lose something in the translation.)
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
I've now read both, and enjoyed both.
Then again, I read and studied Chaucer in its original middle English when an undergraduate. [Wink]

James, who is well-versed in Hodgdon's work, has done a masterful job of reconstructing this classic fantasy novel into modern English while retaining all the wonder of Hodgdon's characters and world.

Btw, I can't give enough praise to Stoddard's Compton award-winning The High House. One of my favorite fantasy novels in the last twenty years. http://www.amazon.com/The-High-House-James-Stoddard/dp/0739400479

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by KellyTharp (Member # 9997) on :
 
Reading the short bio of Groucho Marx's last few years by a guy who got to work as one of his secretaries. A facinating read as it's really a story about someone so talented growing old and dying, from a young man's view point. I like to learn about those who are good with humor as I to find adding humor to my characters brings them alive more. Groucho was a phenominal wit and even at 85 he could still nail someone with a one liner. Title: Raised Eyebrows, by Steve Stoliar. He's selling autographed copies (wish they were signed by Groucho, but unfortunately not). KT
 
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
Without a Summer, but Mary Robinette Kowal. So far, just as good as the first two in the series--which is saying something.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Been hearing a lot about that book-Summer.

Even though I haven't read it I'm not surprised it is as good as the first one, which I have read.

Have you checked out her new web site for the book and the drawing she is holding?
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Haven't posted lately...last month, and pretty much this month, I read a bunch of books that didn't impress me that much (though most were good).

I reread Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest, by Wade Davis---excellent book, covering so much ground and conveying so much detail in a fascinating manner. I recommended it a few, oh, years ago now, and I'll rerecommend it.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
For your History lovers..one at B&N on Bunker Hill

Right here

[ May 05, 2013, 08:46 PM: Message edited by: LDWriter2 ]
 
Posted by KellyTharp (Member # 9997) on :
 
"Raised Eyebrows" the bio of the last 4-5 years of Groucho Marx, by a young man who ended up being his secretary and archivist. He told of the paranoid/schizophrenic woman who controlled Groucho's life and alienated him from his family. Very interesting. The author (his secretary), was selling it on line and autographed it. Would have been nice to have had Groucho's. But very interesting and a bit sad.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Some intellectual reading here abouts-wish I had time for same as I have stated before.


Anyway, Reading "Alchemystic" by Anton Strout.

An alchemist-romance combo I believe so far. Not bad, a very interesting world designed by Anton and there are mysteries that need explaining but he's taking his time in doing that, which is good and shows his writing ability. A worthy read.
 
Posted by Grumpy old guy (Member # 9922) on :
 
Am still analysing Aristotle's Poetics and skimming through a first pass of Freytag's Technique of the Drama. Interesting stuff if you can translate it into today's language and motifs.

Phil.
 
Posted by SASpencer (Member # 10044) on :
 
I'm reading "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak I love his descriptions:
"Allow me to play you a picture..."
"In his stomach was the electric combination of nourishment and nausea."
"Your soul will be in my arms. A color will be perched on my shoulder."
"You will be caked in your own body. There might be a discovery; a scream will dribble down the air. The only sound I'll hear after that will be my own breathing, and the sound of the smell, of my footsteps."

Sandy
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Just out.
For history lovers there is.

Saviour Generals

A new book on five generals who not only beat their enemy but saved the day by doing so.

Victor Davis Hanson is a long time farmer, historian and Political commentator. He's taught collage and has other bragging rights. With this book he goes back to history, I've heard many interviews with him and he knows his history.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Haven't posted in awhile...been distracted by a number of things, not least of which were the mssive computer problems I detailed / whined about elsewhere. So I might as well post a few things here and now.

The delay did give me time to read a few more interesting books, though. Also being on vacation, after awhile my reading speed picked up some and I could cover more territory.

Here's a sampling:

Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution, Nathaniel Philbrick. This is a good account of the early events of the American Revolution, by a writer who's turned out a number of books on aspects of American history. Well recommended even for those who know the facts.

How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin: The Untold Story of a Noisy Revolution, Leslie Woodhead. I have a collection of Beatles books and am always fascinated by the subject---though the subject here is, really, the downfalll of the Soviet Union. Seems, despite appearances at the time, Beatlemania took hold among the Russians just like it did everywhere else in the world. (Also there's a brief bit that answers a long-standing mystery over an event early in the career of the Beatles---so for those who find the political part boring, there's that to entertain them.)

July 1914: Countdown to War, Sean McMeekin. This attempts to tell the story of what led up to the events described in Tuchmann's The Guns of August---leaving the impression that World War II was less inevitable than it may have been. An interesting saga.

Pepper: A History of the World's Most Influential Spice, Marjorie Shaffer. I'm fond of some of the "detail work" books---working through the story of often-neglected stories and historical figures. The story of pepper is interesting, often violent, and drove a good deal of history from its introduction down to the present day. (I can't remember if I've read this writer's earlier book Salt, but I picked up a paperback copy a couple days ago.)

*****

I can't wholly endorse A Curious Man: The Strange & Brilliant Life of Robert "Believe It or Not!" Ripley, chiefly because of two errors on one page---one of which amounts to a blood libel on the origins of the science fiction magazines, describing them as "knockoff magazines." (Also the writer gets the middle initial of Charles M. Schulz wrong---Ripley's cartoon might have said F. but there's no excuse to repeat the error.)

*****

I might've mentioned, awhile ago, that I was taking books to work and reading them on my breaks. I'd taken to picking up paperback reprints of the classics---I started with Herodotus, moved on to one volume of Plutarch, then got halfway through an abridged Edward Gibbon before my vacation started. I have plans to read others---seems a good way to work through the classics I've long neglected. (I think I'd rather read the "unabridged" Gibbon, which skims over one section I was interested in reading about, but this edition was what I can get---I haven't actually looked for it, but I'm sure I can get the full edition and put it on my Nook Color.)

*****

Also long about early April, I extracted about a year's worth of Galaxy magazine from my files, 1976-1977, and had a high old time reliving my youth and rereading the stories and features. (Some of the issues contained Gateway, which we discussed elsewhere, and I wanted to look at that, plus a commentary by Pohl on the writing of it.) Also, one of the letter columns in the issues contains my first published appearance, if you're remotely curious.
 
Posted by tesknota (Member # 10041) on :
 
I'm reading Earth Unaware! Always a fan of the Enderverse.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Whoops! Seems the book Salt I mentioned isn't by Marjorie Shaffer, it's by Mark Kurlansky. Either way, just a quarter of the way in, it's interesting as hell...
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Another later interruption...I thought I mentioned this four or five pages back, but I couldn't find it, so I'll recap.

Back in 1954, Robert A. Heinlein published one of his "juveniles," The Star Beast, through Scribners. By the time I encountered it, though, there was a page or so in the middle that wasn't reprinted---and I never saw it in anything other than the Scribners edition, which I happened to run across in a library. It wasn't even in a recent trade paperback reprint.

There wasn't much to it; the main character finished reading a diary from his grandfather, then moved on to another book that covered the rest of his ancestors, some eleven generations, of which the very first ancestor was in the omission.

But yesterday I happened upon a Baen Books paperback reprint, dated May 2013, that I took to be the reprint of the abovementioned trade paperback. I glanced inside---and there it was, the long-missing page! (Runs from the bottom of page 161 to almost the bottom of page 162, if you're interested.)

But if you're not, it might be worth your time. Like most of Heinlein's work, it's a hell of a story.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I didn't get this in time I actually finished the book tonight.


"The Iron Wyrm Affair" by Lilith Saintcrow


Interesting in that there is an interview with Ms Saintcrow in the back of the book.


But before I get into more on the book That last name would make an interesting premise for a story.

Anyway, (Please look at my comment in the "Word tick" thread)the book is steampunk. With Lots of magic. Ms Saintcrow did a great job in forming the world and characters. The adventure was great and she was able to put her MCs (Yep, there is two) into more and more danger. Even though she may not be as skilled at that as some writers but still a well done book and worthy of being read. Well, (another look at the "word tick" thread please) the world is very dark which for myself lessened my enjoyment but still I will get the next one, which is out.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
During my 6 week convalescence I've written less and read/listened more:

Titan, Wizard, and Demon (the Gaean sf Trilogy) by John Varley.

The third hopefully soon to be published wonderful Evenmere classic adult fantasy novel by James Stoddard.

Graphic novels:
Magician: Apprentice by Raymond Feist
New Spring by Robert Jordan
The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
The Great and Secret Show by Clive Barker
Wyrms by Orson Scott Card
Red Prophet by Orson Scott Card

Tarzan of the Apes by ER Burroughs, read unabridged by Ben Kingsley

Tarzan: The Epic Adventures novelization by RA Salvatore of 1996 television screenplay by Burt Armus based on ERB's The Return of Tarzan and Tarzan At the Earth's Core (two of my favorite Tarzan novels)

Begun Gods of Opar containing the three novels Hadon of Ancient Opar, Flight to Opar by Philip Jose Farmer and the posthumous completed The Song of Kwasin by Farmer and Christopher Carey. The stories takes place 10,000 BCE in Tarzan's Africa and intermingle Farmer's Wold Newton universe with ERB's Tarzan universe.

Begun Behemoth unabridged steampunk YA audiobook by Scott Westerfeld read by Alan Cumming.

I'll need select a Jack Vance volume next to honor the memory of the esteemed sf/fantasy/mystery Grandmaster who passed away this week.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by hoptoad (Member # 2145) on :
 
At the mo:
Bleak House and Gormenghast.
 
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
 
Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep. Never read anything of his before. So far, impressed by the fun wordplay and banter.
 
Posted by Rolag (Member # 10084) on :
 
I've just read The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. The front cover cheesily declares it to be "A novel about the end of the world which makes you glad to be alive" which almost put me off. But it's brilliant: haunting and brutal. If you don't cry in chapter 6 you have a heart of stone.
 
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
 
Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney. If you're not familiar with it, it's known for being written entirely in 2nd person. I was very skeptical, but finally got around to reading it, mostly out of curiosity. The 2nd person narration didn't bother me nearly as much as I expected. It mostly disappeared for me, actually. Every once in a while I noticed it again (maybe half a dozen times in the course of the novel). I actually liked the book. Odd, considering the weird POV and the fact that it's mostly about some guy (me, according to the book) doing about a ton and a half of cocaine and striking out with chicks at New York clubs. Somehow, it still managed to be good. Not great, but good. The writing is clever, and that's what saved it.
 
Posted by tesknota (Member # 10041) on :
 
I recently finished reading The Beautiful Land, by Alan Averill.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Beautiful-Land-Alan-Averill/dp/0425265277

Great read. I haven't been finishing books lately, but I finished this one. It's a book involving traveling between parallel timelines.

I've moved on to the Wool omnibus.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I'm reading something that you can't have...not yet anyway.

Laura Anne Gilman wanted to publish a book her publisher didn't want to so she used Kickstarter. I donated some money and she rewarded me with two e-novelettes in a new series. The Sylvan Investigates series. He is a minor character in the Wren book and later in the P.U.P.I. books.

I think this is her best writing yet. Her writing in the Wren books made me fall in love with the adventures of Wren but this writing is even better.

One thing though that some readers have stated they don't like. Her POV keeps changing. Most of the time it's between the two MCs but she adds one or two others to the mix too. I don't mind that at all it is still a good mystery-adventure type.

Eventually-soon these two tales along with others, will be made available to everyone.


Good stuff.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
The Ocean At The End of the Lane by Neil Gaimen

Admittedly, I've been a fan of Neil Gaimen since The Sandman #1, DC comics, Vertigo imprint, October 1988. His ability to create characters and stories that touch the heart through the reimagining of myth, through touching the subconscious inherited memory of our species, I now recognize as profoundly influential. That he is a fellow lundsman, something I did not learn to many decades later, perhaps also accounts for this affinity.

In any event, as in his wonderful work Coraline, and also reminiscent of Clive Barker's Thief of Always and Abarat here is another wonderful work of Old Child (contrary to Young Adult) fiction, filled of wonder and regrets, and growing up and being forever young (but never changeless).

From the critical eye of a would-be author, I (again) admire the evoking of feeling/emotion in the reader. Something I believe we need strive for to make our works memorable. And nothing is more memorable than the costs of our actions and the sacrifice and love of others.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I've seen that one but wasn't sure what it was about even after looking it over.


It seems to be all over the place.
 
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
 
Somehow, I've never gotten around to reading Neil Gaiman yet. I want to, but just never get to it.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by wetwilly:
Somehow, I've never gotten around to reading Neil Gaiman yet. I want to, but just never get to it.

In my opinion, you are missing something special.

Respectfully,
D. Bob
 
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
 
That is enough for me to run out to the book store and rectify the problem. Any recommendations for which of his books to buy first?
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I noticed today that I never listed here what I was currently reading. I did say something on my blog if any one here read it.

But here it is again:

Reading two Space Opera at the same time . I didn't set out to do that but I started one on my Nook and I needed to go somewhere I would want a book to read. The Nook is great but it has one drawback all readers and tablets have. I can't place it in the back pocket of my pants. If I could I wouldn't because it probably isn't tough enough to take sitting on.

But to the books:

One is the ninth book in the Lt. Leary series or RNC series, by David Drake.

An interesting universe David came up with--I won't say much except that Earth and a few first colonies were destroyed in a war over a hundred years before the action takes place so the two worlds that lead humans were on the fourth or fifth level of importance even though now they are top.

Second the ships used are very low tech. Computers and radios are futuristic but the ships and missiles are something we could do today almost. Still the series is very interesting and entertaining, not to mention well written. Oh, they use sail boats to go through hyper space. [Smile] You would have to read the books to get that, it would take a while to explain how it works, but very well thought out.

Second book is "Furious" in the Kris Longknife series by Mike Shepard which is I believe is a pen name. It's the ninth of tenth book. Interesting in this series there are two E-published short stories about Kris.


Mike is a good writer but he's not the best, he has a habit of doing a couple of things I find a little annoying now that I have learned something about writing. Still overall I will continue to buy the Longknife books and I will try the one he write under his real name when I find it again.

There are a couple of issues with how he treats Kris and one or two of her family I don't particularly like but my above statement still applies.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Later, maybe, I'll post some of the other stuff I've read this month, but for here-and-now, 'cause I can name them...I've been taking some classic historical work to work to read on my breaks and lunches. Things I haven't read before. This past month, I finished Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, then worked through Plutarch's Lives (Volume 2 of 2---I read Volume 1 a couple months ago), and just finished Caesar's Conquest of Gaul. (Thought the translation of the latter was off---too many modernisms that might not represent what Caesar meant---but I don't have enough Latin to get through a Latin text. Nor do I have a Latin text.) Not having anyting else to hand, I brought Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, previously read, last night.

I'll see what I can pick up while browsing at the bookstore later today.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by wetwilly:
That is enough for me to run out to the book store and rectify the problem. Any recommendations for which of his books to buy first?

Depends what you like.

Neverwhere is an urban fantasy mystery that occurs in the London Underground. It was made into a mini-series and a radio play.

American G-ds is an American urban fantasy where the old pagan gods of Europe immigrated to America with their followers and war not only among themselves but with modernity and its "gods of credit card and freeway, of Internet and telephone, of radio and hospital and television, gods of plastic and of beeper and of neon."

InterWorld is a SF YA short novel with an interesting take on parallel worlds. I have only just learned of its recent sequel The Silver Dream, which I'll need pick up.

Good Omens, co-authored with Terry Pratchett (of Discworld fame) is a delightfully funny riff on religious end-of-the-world prophecies.

Personally, I have a preference for his, what I call, Old Child fantasies:
Coraline (also made into a stop-motion animation movie), The Graveyard Book (movie pending with Disney), and his newest The Ocean at The End of the Lane. They have a wonderful mythic fable style yet relate simple honest core human truths that touch the soul (at least mine). They are short and rather quick reads, but quite memorable. But if you do not like these sorts of stories, then I can recommend any of the preceding.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by History:
quote:
Originally posted by wetwilly:
That is enough for me to run out to the book store and rectify the problem. Any recommendations for which of his books to buy first?

Depends what you like.

Neverwhere is an urban fantasy mystery that occurs in the London Underground. It was made into a mini-series and a radio play.

American G-ds is an American urban fantasy where the old pagan gods of Europe immigrated to America with their followers and war not only among themselves but with modernity and its "gods of credit card and freeway, of Internet and telephone, of radio and hospital and television, gods of plastic and of beeper and of neon."

InterWorld is a SF YA short novel with an interesting take on parallel worlds. I have only just learned of its recent sequel The Silver Dream, which I'll need pick up.

Good Omens, co-authored with Terry Pratchett (of Discworld fame) is a delightfully funny riff on religious end-of-the-world prophecies.

Personally, I have a preference for his, what I call, Old Child fantasies:
Coraline (also made into a stop-motion animation movie), The Graveyard Book (movie pending with Disney), and his newest The Ocean at The End of the Lane. They have a wonderful mythic fable style yet relate simple honest core human truths that touch the soul (at least mine). They are short and rather quick reads, but quite memorable. But if you do not like these sorts of stories, then I can recommend any of the preceding.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

Wow, missing out on all types of books.

But with Neverwhere is that a mini-series in book form or TV? And here or in England?

But come to think of it I just did see Neverwhere some place...don't remember where.

Oh, of course the London Underground. [Razz]

I recall thinking maybe I could use a name sort of like that for my Fae homeland.

There's Nevernever or is that Never-never? and Neverwhere how about Where-where?
Somehow I don't think so.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LDWriter2:
Wow, missing out on all types of books.

But with Neverwhere is that a mini-series in book form or TV? And here or in England?

The original Neverwhere televison mini-series DVD setis no longer available, but a new 15th anniversary edition came out in April this year: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005G1729K/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=1535523722&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=B0000A14WF&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=0NZZV97GY W4SBC9RRAX8

The graphic novel is also avaialble: http://www.amazon.com/Neil-Gaimans-Neverwhere-Mike-Carey/dp/1401210074/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372785158&sr=1-3&keywords=neverwhere

For purists, there is the novel and, on the cheap, there is the Kindle edition of this marvelous urban fantasyfor $6: http://www.amazon.com/Neverwhere-Novel-Neil-Gaiman/dp/0060557818/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372785368&sr=1-1&keywords=neverwhere

Of course, LD, you still have my UF novel to read sometime; and I hesitate to give you all the above knowing that my tale may pale in the comparison.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

P.S. I failed to mention Neil's wonderful adult fantasy tale Stardust [ http://www.amazon.com/Stardust-Neil-Gaiman/dp/0061689246/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372785889&sr=1-1&keywords=stardust+graphic+novel+neil+gaiman ], which was also a beautiful graphic novel illustrated by Charles Vess, and made into a pleasant (but not great) movie. The story is reminiscent of Tolkien's Smith of Wooten Major, but darker.
 
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
 
I've heard that THE GRAVEYARD BOOK is a re-imagining of a well-known set of "old child" stories by Kipling. Didn't know that going in, so I'm not sure I should tell you more than that before you read it. But it was fun to look back on it and see the parallels.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
Yes, I read this as well.

Gaimen's orphan boy protagonist adopted by the dead (and undead) of the graveyard, and the episodic narrative of the novel, was inspired by Mowgli and Kipling's The Jungle Book, although the original kernel story came from watching his 2 year son bicycle past a graveyard. He did not feel he was a good enough writer in 1985 to pen the story, which he finally completed in 2008.

I also did not make the connection to Kipling until I read about it; and it only increased my appreciation for the tale and its author.

Respectfully,
Dr, Bob
 
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
 
I'm also a big fan of graphic novel versions of SF novels, so I will most definitely have to check some of these out. Thanks for the recommendations, Dr. Bob.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Here's one for those of you who know something of the History of Science Fiction: The Man From Mars: Ray Palmer's Amazing Pulp Journey, by Fred Nadis. Interesting story, maybe not just to those like me who know something of this saga already.

I did think the story would be so arcane and of so little interest to the general reading public that it wouldn't turn up in the regular bookstores, so I bought it online from Amazon-dot-com...but the next time I went into the local Barnes & Noble, I found seven or eight copies...
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by History:
The original Neverwhere televison mini-series DVD setis no longer available, but a new 15th anniversary edition came out in April this year: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005G1729K/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=1535523722&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=B0000A14WF&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=0NZZV97GY W4SBC9RRAX8

The graphic novel is also avaialble: http://www.amazon.com/Neil-Gaimans-Neverwhere-Mike-Carey/dp/1401210074/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372785158&sr=1-3&keywords=neverwhere

For purists, there is the novel and, on the cheap, there is the Kindle edition of this marvelous urban fantasyfor $6: http://www.amazon.com/Neverwhere-Novel-Neil-Gaiman/dp/0060557818/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372785368&sr=1-1&keywords=neverwhere

Of course, LD, you still have my UF novel to read sometime; and I hesitate to give you all the above knowing that my tale may pale in the comparison.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

P.S. I failed to mention Neil's wonderful adult fantasy tale Stardust [ http://www.amazon.com/Stardust-Neil-Gaiman/dp/0061689246/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372785889&sr=1-1&keywords=stardust+graphic+novel+neil+gaiman ], which was also a beautiful graphic novel illustrated by Charles Vess, and made into a pleasant (but not great) movie. The story is reminiscent of Tolkien's Smith of Wooten Major, but darker.

I missed these notes so just now responding. Thanks for the links.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by History:
Yes, I read this as well.

Gaimen's orphan boy protagonist adopted by the dead (and undead) of the graveyard, and the episodic narrative of the novel, was inspired by Mowgli and Kipling's The Jungle Book, although the original kernel story came from watching his 2 year son bicycle past a graveyard. He did not feel he was a good enough writer in 1985 to pen the story, which he finally completed in 2008.

I also did not make the connection to Kipling until I read about it; and it only increased my appreciation for the tale and its author.

Respectfully,
Dr, Bob

Sounds intriguing.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by wetwilly:
I'm also a big fan of graphic novel versions of SF novels, so I will most definitely have to check some of these out. Thanks for the recommendations, Dr. Bob.

I haven't read any Graphic Novels even though I have looked through some. Because of the price I don't want to get hooked on them. A couple did look very interesting though.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
Here's one for those of you who know something of the History of Science Fiction: The Man From Mars: Ray Palmer's Amazing Pulp Journey, by Fred Nadis. Interesting story, maybe not just to those like me who know something of this saga already.

I did think the story would be so arcane and of so little interest to the general reading public that it wouldn't turn up in the regular bookstores, so I bought it online from Amazon-dot-com...but the next time I went into the local Barnes & Noble, I found seven or eight copies...

There seems to be a revival of many of those older novels at B&N. The Oz books as well as John Carter of Mars--even before the movie came out--to name only a couple. And some a little new A series about a James Grimes or is it John? Anyway I read them used twenty some years ago but there are all popping out now.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Finally to what I am reading, a little hard when I'm reading on my Nook because I have to have my Nook and it be on to get the correct title and writer. Or do as did now and go to B&N's web site.

So:

"Hounded" (Iron Druid Chronicles series #1) by Kevin Hearne.

I've heard sone good things about the series and even seen a couple of the books. I didn't realize though this one is from 2011.

I'm a bit over half way done and hmmm.

Not bad but I think the blurb on the cover is way over done. Obviously blurbs are to the attention of the reader. But this one I think is more stretching things than usual. By no means is Kevin a heir to Jim Butcher.

If I had read this to critique a new writer I would have said it needed some work: needs more of the five senses, the Hero wins too easily, more descriptions. Some of that appears as I read along but the first couple of scenes were lacking.

At the same time Kevin has some very interesting and entertaining scenes--humorous too. The scene where the goddess tries to make a smoothie because she loves them but doesn't know about electricity is an entertaining sequence. The fights are not bad even though as stated some of the earlier ones are too easily won.

The whole is a good read, with significant good points, and it is a very interesting world even though, on a personal note, his comments on Christianity are bothersome but it's one of those things I wonder if Kevin feels that way or if he thought the character would. They may deal more with Catholicism than Christianity as a whole.

And of course this is probably his first book, at least I didn't see any previous ones listed, so of course that makes a difference. More than likely I will read the next one so I'll see how he does.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
quote:
The Oz books as well as John Carter of Mars--even before the movie came out--to name only a couple.
Both of these have (apparently) lapsed into public domain---and both have had big movies come out recently. So a lot of publishers will jump on them to make some money.

quote:
And some a little new A series about a James Grimes or is it John?
If you mean the "John Grimes" series by A. Bertram Chandler, they're pretty old---Chandler died in 1984---but there were some recent omnibus reprints. Pretty good stuff, too---SF's answer to Horatio Hornblower---and I'll add my endorsement to the list. I've read most of 'em, but don't think I had a full list of them till recently (and online, where such things abound.)
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
Writers of the Future Vol. 29

Having set my sites more seriously on the WOTF contest this past year, I've read the last four annual anthologies of winners, and yesterday completed the most recent (vol. 29).

I've previously shared on this Forum my conclusions regarding which stories win:

1) shorter submissions are better
2) science fiction with alien cultures/world building is better
4) character conflict is key
5) no adult content (i.e. no sexual issues or reference to human sexuality, even indirectly; no non-traditional gender issues; no swear words).
6) Stories need be 'approrpiate' for high school and middle school levels.


I believe volume 29 refutes my assumptions #2, 5, & 6 listed above. While science fiction is still predominant, I found volume 29 had significantly less world-building and alien cultures than previous volumes.

There were many indirect (and a few overt) references to sex. There is even prostitution and reference to a mother-daughter threesome in Andrea Stewart's Q3 1st place winning tale Dreameater) and indirect reference to child rape.

There is murder, deceit/lies, exploitation of the ill (and of children), theft, and even the consumption of body organs. Therefore, how can I judge what the Judges deem 'approrpiate' for high school and middle school levels?

Still, well-crafted protagonists facing both internal and external conflicts are a general feature of these stories. The majority of the stories were short (i.e ~<10K); and I found something relatively unique in each, if not the depth and breadth of world-building present as in tales within earlier volumes.

I found Andrea Stewart's tale Dreameater probably the best written, in regard to command of language and powerful character Voice. The Grand Winner's, Tina Gower's, story Twelve Seconds was a close second for me in regard to craft and Voice. These were both 1st place winners in their respective quarters. Thus, I need elevate the importance of Voice to my list. However, their settings were recognizeable pseudo-contemporary.

I found the most imaginative tales (in regard to setting and wonder) to be fantasies: Marilyn Guttridge's The Ghost Wife of Arlington and Marina J Lostetter's Master Belladino's Mask. These were both Second place winners in their respective quarters. Can I conclude that Voice trumps Imaginative Setting?

Good stories, though my personal favorites of the last few volumes remain Patrick O' Sullivan's Mady Dune's First and Only Spelling Bee(vol. 27) and Nick Tchan's The Command For Love(vol. 28) [Don't let it go to your head, Nick. These represent only my personal eclectic--and strange--tastes in fiction].

Vol. 29 puts me in somewhat of a quandry.
Personally, I've refrained from sending stories to WOTF that I felt were not alien or imaginative enough, or referenced sex, or included horror and/or gore. Instead, based on the last few anthologies, I have been concentrating on science fiction with settings that are as highly imaginative and as creative as I can make them, and then dropping in my flawed struggling schlemiels of protagonists.

After reading WOTF Vol. 29, I need conclude that in regarding to anticipating what the Judges like that I am merely chasing my own tail (Hey! It's a personal genetic anomaly; don't make fun).

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by RyanB (Member # 10008) on :
 
I've only read V28. I just started reading V29. I thought V28 was fantasy heavy, but I heard that V27 was SF heavy, so maybe the last 4 volumes were SF heavy as a whole?

V29 is the first Farland anthology (IIRC he came in near the end of V28? or was it early V29?) so I would expect 29 to have a different flair.

[ July 17, 2013, 03:29 PM: Message edited by: RyanB ]
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Amtor (Venus) series:

Pirates of Venus (1934)
Lost on Venus (1935)
Carson of Venus (1939)
Escape on Venus (1946)
The Wizard of Venus (1964)
--novelette

As I continue to experiment writing within different genres (urban fantasy, literary, fable, horror, alternate history/steampunk/space opera, etc...), this year I've spent much of my sparse energy on adventure world creation.

One of the most successful writers in this genre (at least in fame and income) was Edgar Rice Burroughs, who created Tarzan of the Apes (as iconic a figure as Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein, and Superman)as well as John Carter of Mars, David Innes of Pellucidar (the world At the Earth's Core), as well as many other fantastic interplanetary tales in settings as variable as our own Moon to worlds Beyond the Farthest Star.

Like many other pre-teen/teen geek, I was stunned by the sheer scope of his imagination and inventiveness in constructing his fantastic worlds, their many strange inhabitants and beasts, and startling geographies across which his heroes and heroines had endless adventures.

One such world I recalled fondly was Amtor (Venus) and the knavish devil-may-care Carson of Venus. I have not read these books for many decades and, having recently listened to an unabridged recording of Tarzan of the Apes (read by Ben Kingsley), and being engaged in my own world creation, I chose to revisit these books.

Wrong way Carson attempts to rocket to Barsoom (ERB's Mars) and ends up crashing on Venus. Expecting to be killed by the harsh barren conditions and blood-boiling heat the scientists of his own day predicted, he is surprised to discover a lush planet beneath the clouds with mountain size trees, fierce beasts, and pre- and semi-technological peoples (they have swords and ray guns and ocean-going ships but no airplanes). Recycling from his earlier Mars and Inner Earth books, ERB has Carson fall in love with a chieftan's daughter who spurns him and he spends much of his time rescuing her and attempting to win her love. Contrary to the social norms of his day, ERB's heroine also at times fights and rescues Carson!

The first three Venus novels are a Buck Rogers like serial, the first two ending in cliffhanger's and declaration's of love (while Carson and his love Duare seek to return her home to her father--who will kill them both for violations of custom) until this is resolved in the third book.

However, the third book is a bit farcial and blatantly allegorical. Carson and Duare encounter a society where the women all demonstrate what readers of ERB's day would consider stereotypical male cultural and social traits while their men are effeminate; and then encounter a war against the Zanis, who demonstrate all the politico-cultural absurdities of the Nazis who ERB disparages and mocks candidly as a good American patriot writer. This, of course, is author/narrator intrusive to the story which dispels its magic.

The fourth novel, a series of four novelettes, is a rather contrived set of captured and escape tales depicting monsters of the month-like strange alien natives (fish-people, plant-people, amoeba-people). These were stories reportedly even difficult for ERB to sell, and he succeeded only by the popularity of his name.

The fifth book, a novelette found in his papers after his passing, is similar although it provides further insight to Carson's swarmi-trained mental powers.

Much as I recall with his other series, it is the first two Venus (and Tarzan and Pellucidar) books (the 1st three Mars books) that are the best. The rest, with few exceptions (Tarzan At The Earth's Core, for example) are inferior.

One remarkable invention for his Amtor books, is ERB's realization that the peoples of Venus would never see the stars or even the sun. Thus their conception of their world would be unique. In this case, Amtor is a flat disc floating upon a sea of fire, and Venus' equator is at the center while the pole is the circumference of the disc--thus making all their maps useless for navigation and creating the belief that there is not another hemisphere of their planet. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_series

ERB successfully inspires wonder with his depiction of Amtorian fauna and flora and of native cultures in the first two books. Sadly I find this too contrived in the later books.

While he devotes good thought to Amtorian language, even script, often his word creation, particularly his "naming", is comparatively poor--lacking the evocative power possessed by authors like Lord Dunsany or Clark Ashton Smith in their use of names.

Thus, for me, I learned how powerful a fresh imagination can be and what happens...after. Though I should ever be as successful.

Of note, being the collector that I am, I possess and read the far more recent graphic novel Tarzan & Carson of Venus (1998) [http://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=156751] that occurs after the fourth Venus novel and includes many of its characters and ties up some loose strings. Entertaining and I always enjoy seeing artists' renditions of ERB's worlds.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

[ July 18, 2013, 09:56 PM: Message edited by: History ]
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz
by Garth Nix

This celebrated award-winning YA fantasy author wrote three adult sword & sorcery stories in the classic tradition concerning the title characters: the first a noble swordsman and the latter a self-animated puppet (as in papier-mâché) sorcerer. Their task? To nullify or exterminate inimical godlets from the world.

These are delightful and inventive tales, masterfully told. Thus the volume is woefully too short for its reader. From a writer's eye, there is the appreciation of the Tolkienesque creation of a much wider canvas, lands and peoples and these heroes' prior grand adventures (and more to come) that the author deftly inserts without lessening the current story being told. Nix instills a sense of vignette, of a concise adventure thread in a larger tapestry, leaving many unanswered questions. I learned that a short story/novelette need not tie up all loose ends but instead leave the reader looking for more

The limited signed hardcover volume is well-made and boast a beautiful cover, but these three tales are available as an ebook for only $0.99 and worth far more if you enjoy these sorts of tales.

http://www.amazon.com/Sir-Hereward-Mister-Fitz-Garth/dp/1596065001

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
http://www.amazon.com/Inheritance-Cycle-Christopher-Paolini/dp/037584631X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374890428&sr=1-1&keywords=inheritance
I listened to this final book of this young author's tetralogy, all 31 hours of it, on my daily drives to work. I say "young" since his first bestselling fantasy novel Eragon was written when he was fifteen years of age. It was this fact that piqued my curiosity. As epic fantasies go, it is pretty standard fare, more Terry Brooks (i.e. paler imitation) than Tolkien. A bit overwritten (though who am I to talk) but there are brilliant passages of evocative description, imagination, and action--and a few outstanding characters (e.g. Angela the Herbalist; Elva the child who, because of a miscast spell of the protagonist, feels and anticipates everyone's pain and suffering; Solembum the were cat).

The Guiding Nose of Ulfant Banderoz by Dan Simmons
http://www.amazon.com/Guiding-Nose-Ulfant-Banderoz/dp/1596065419/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374891189&sr=1-1&keywords=guiding+nose+of+ulfant+banderoz
Like many fantasy (and sf) authors and would-be authors of today, Dan Simmons has a special youth-born affection for the writings of master world-builder and story craftsman Jack Vance who sadly passed away two months ago at the age of 94. One of his seminal works is The Dying Earth (and its sequels), a book every lover of science fantasy should read if not cherish as Simmons (and I) do. It is hard to describe: Clark Ashton's Zothique (the quintessential "dying earth" stories) meets Terry Pratchett's Discworld. This particular edition of Simmon's novella is illustrated and well done, and a delight for collectors; however the story is also included in a much larger volume of tales in honor of Jack Vance, Songs of the Dying Earth http://www.amazon.com/Songs-Dying-Earth-George-Martin/dp/B0096DSP0E/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374892224&sr=1-1&keywords=songs+of+the+dying+earth which also includes stories by greats such as Robert Silverberg, Glenn Cook, Tad Williams, Elizabeth Moon, Tanith Lee, Mike Resnick, etc. I have yet to complete it but look forward to doing so as I work may through a number of Vance's classic works.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
Sounds good there Dr. Bob.


But I think I have seen and maybe read "The Dying Earth" but is there more than one? I can't recall the writer of the one I saw.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
There are many authors who have written about Earth's last days when the sun is going or gone dark:

Zothique by Clark Ashton Smith

The Night Land by William Hope Hodgdon (a modern retelling is excellent as well: http://www.amazon.com/Night-Land-Story-Retold/dp/0615508812/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374920331&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Night+Land+a+story+retold)

The Archonate series of Matthew Hughes http://www.matthewhughes.org/the-archonate-bookstore/

The Dancers at the End of Time trilogy by Michael Moorcock http://www.amazon.com/Dancers-End-Time-S-F-Masterworks/dp/0575074760/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374920229&sr=1-1&keywords=dancers+at+the+end+of+time

The Book of the New Sun quintology by Gene Wolfe (a must read for lovers of language) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Book_of_the_New_Sun

The City and the Stars/Against The Fall of NIght by Arthur C. Clarke http://www.amazon.com/City-Stars-S-F-Masterworks/dp/1857987632/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374920281&sr=1-1&keywords=the+city+and+the+stars

Virconium http://www.amazon.com/Viriconium-M-John-Harrison/dp/0553383159 series by M. John Harrison

etc. etc. etc. (I could continue on)

... I am here referring to the novel (collection of novellas] entitled The Dying Earth by Jack Vance, and its sequels The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel's Saga, and Rhialto the Marvelous and perhaps the Vance-approved novel by Michael Shea The Quest For Simbilis and now the GRRM and Gardner Dozois edited anthology Songs of the Dying Earth which compose the entire literature set in Vance's created world (save for the numerous D&D-like gaming scenarios by Pelgrane Press http://www.pelgranepress.com/?p=5074 which I do not own as I never got around to becoming a gamer).

I believe there is a powerful influence (for good or ill or for indifference or despair) upon characters in their perception of their life, their fellows, their pains and pleasures, their morals, as well as their ailing world in the inescaple knowledge that all they see and know is approaching death, inevitably and more importantly, soon.

I am sure I will dally with such a setting one day.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I meant that title not the plot. I might be getting my titles mixed up but it seems like there have been at least a couple of SF novels with that title.

I have seen Vance's but until I see it I won't be able to tell if it was the one I read.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Well, The Dying Earth has a high reputation among SF aficionados, but has always been somewhat obscure as far as its publication history goes. All I know of are its original paperback publication in 1950, a paperback reprint in the early 1980s (which I read) and being collected in something called the Vance Integral Editions in the 2000s. Dunno if it's an e-book or SFBC or anything like that...
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
I am unaware of any other f&sf novel entitled The Dying Earth nor series of that name except by the late Jack Vance, LD. And I see no other listed on Amazon. Thus, perhaps you have read it.

Although, I do not see that the first novel is available as an ebook, the other three are, Robert.

All four novels were collected in a pb omnibus Tales of the Dying Earth by Orb books [DEC 2000] and available from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Dying-Earth-Jack-Vance/dp/0312874561/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1375025442&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Dying+Earth+omnibus

I'm sad I did not allocate the funds to purchase the $1.5K to $3K Vance Integral Edition [http://integralarchive.org/vie-books.htm ; http://integralarchive.org/base2.htm], a truly stupendous Vance lover's definitive collection of all his works, each in hardcover and with excellent glossaries and (my addiction) maps! [ http://www.jackvance.com/ebooks/maps/ ]

I do possess the novels and a few separately printed stories in collector's editions, most from Underwood-Miller and illustrated by artist Steve Fabian, which are quite lovely. Subterranean Press has announced a new limited edition of the first volume for later this year [ http://subterraneanpress.com/store/product_detail/the_dying_earth_preorder ], but I see that it has already sold out. Hopefully they will consider an ebook edition.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by kmsf (Member # 9905) on :
 
I'm reading Father Elijia by Michael D. O'Brien and enjoying it immensely. It is one from his Children of the Last Days series.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I'm reading three books at the moment. Even though two are on hold.

One of those is by our much beloved, hard working good doctor. He let me read his first Rabbi (unoffical) Crane novel but the PDF file I made from his download is a pain. I'm holding off until I can redo it better.

Second novel is the one I came here to talk about.

"Mountain Echoes" by C. E. Murphy. As I have stated before and no doubt will state again she is one of two writers I really want to be like. The reason I am holding off on it is that it's too easy to read and on top of that I don't want to stop so I'm reading it a lot faster than I want to. Murphy knows how to turn a phrase and how to end a chapter with a cliffhanger-sometimes a complete surprise-and how to place her MC in danger.

Recommend it Big Time.


The third book which is the one I am actually reading right now is "For Heaven's Eyes Only" by Simon Green. Simon is great at drawing in a reader too. He can come up with some of the most unusual events as any writer I know of. He's good at cliffhangers too.

[ August 04, 2013, 11:13 PM: Message edited by: LDWriter2 ]
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I'm way behind on my listings here. And I'm surprised no one else is willing to say what they are reading.


Anyway;
I read already--said I was behind-Myth-Quoted by Robert Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye. Mostly, if not totally, done by Nye these days.

If you like lighthearted(an aside but I have a sudden desire to use the yiddish word for lighthearted and its Dr. Bob's fault.) fantasy Read the M.Y.T.H. series great stuff. This one is about an election--they throw will mud and worse in that dimension.


Next is A fantastic book and I'm the only one who can read it (hee hee hee)

Seriously it's "The Kabbalist: The Foundation of the Kingdom".
If you like a more intellectual Urban Fantasy this is it. And that comment is not a put down of the other UFs out there or of this one. I don't always get a reference to a certain artist but that's me, I wouldn't be surprised if most readers would know that artist.

Dr. Bob has my attention, I don't want to stop reading it. And I believe it is ready for publication, any more and he will be in danger of diminishing returns. Time to E-publish this one--which would mean a good cover. Or send it out to everywhere. To every publisher who even hints at taking UF.

If Indie than I will be the first one to review it and I will place it on my web site. Even both of those probably won't help much but they wouldn't hurt either. I know of a couple of other places to place it which might help more.


OH and Dr. Bob if you read this, sorry for putting you in as a third person.

I also reading "Taken" by Benedict Jacka. Great stuff if you like UF. A bit of a twist on the usual UF here but Jacka is a Master storyteller. Great fight scenes, the MC is more tricky than the usual head to head fighting. The Twists in the plot are worth reading too.
 
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
 
I barely keep up to date with what I'm reading on Goodreads, let alone here.

Right now, I'm reading Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments. I'm on book two, City of Ashes. They're fast reads, but occasionally just a little like those soap opera's Mom used to watch--except with demon hunters, werewolves, and vampires.
 
Posted by legolasgalactica (Member # 10087) on :
 
Just finished the "Leviathan" zweirs by Scott Westerfield absolutely loved it. Young adult, steam punk, alternate history of WW1 with cool illustrations. Highly Recommended.

Also just finished "Escape from Zarahemla" by Chris Heimerdinger. It was pretty good.

Also just read the short story "The Command for Love" by Hatrack member Chris T. Chan http://www.silverblade.net/content/?p=2521 I really liked it.

Haven't started anything new yet.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
I also enjoyed the Westerfeld's steampunk YA "Leviatahan" series, although I was disappointed in the rather trite romantic ending. What I most admired was the quality of the book's production in hardcover--just a beautiful and lavishly illustrated book.

FYI: Our fellow Hatracker and pro-published WOTF winner is "Nick" T. Tchan. A gifted and good-hearted gentleman.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LDWriter2:
...Next is A fantastic book and I'm the only one who can read it (hee hee hee)

Seriously it's "The Kabbalist: The Foundation of the Kingdom".
If you like a more intellectual Urban Fantasy this is it. And that comment is not a put down of the other UFs out there or of this one. I don't always get a reference to a certain artist but that's me, I wouldn't be surprised if most readers would know that artist.

Dr. Bob has my attention, I don't want to stop reading it. And I believe it is ready for publication, any more and he will be in danger of diminishing returns. Time to E-publish this one--which would mean a good cover. Or send it out to everywhere. To every publisher who even hints at taking UF.

If Indie than I will be the first one to review it and I will place it on my web site. Even both of those probably won't help much but they wouldn't hurt either. I know of a couple of other places to place it which might help more.


OH and Dr. Bob if you read this, sorry for putting you in as a third person.

Thank you for the compliment, Louis. These are always welcome. [Wink]

Perhaps I should take another look at this, my first completed, novel. I set it aside after just one agent (Jim Butcher's) and one publisher (Angry Robot, a UK Penguin imprint) passed on it and then, subsequently, two prequel novelettes went through their round of rejections from the few markets willing to consider stories of their length. I greatly appreciate your thoughtful lead [http://www.hatrack.com/ubb/writers/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=13;t=000284 ] and just rewrote the shorter for a Ben Wolverton benefit anthology contest. Thank you for this suggestion.

I had a few decades of slowly accumulated research and I anticipated writing five The Kabbalist novels, attempting to raise the consequences in each. But I set this aside to gain more writing experience and, I hoped, a token of "legitimacy"--i.e. to build "cred" before my next query letter for this novel

However, my digression into the shorter form and other genres (fable, horror, sf, space opera, alternate history, and science fantasy) has proved as yet a vain effort to get something pro-published. Similarly, the to-date vain effort of winning WOTF.

Anyway, I think I'll reread the novel and consider sending it out again in 2014. After I finish my current works in progress, maybe start novel 2. Thank you again, Louis.

As for what I've been reading...
The Pastel City by M. John Harrison. A wonderfully written dying earth tale with evocative prose that this writers' writer demonstrates even when but merely in his 20's! [that is envy you detect in my 'voice'].

The Complete Man in Black by Hugo/Nebula winner John Brunner, another UK writer. A collection of fantasy/sorcery stories from the beginning of recorded history when Chaos/Magic is slowly being transitioned to Order/Reason. "As you wish, so be it."

All the Warlock stories by Larry Niven, collected in an ebook The Time of the Warlock]http://www.amazon.com/The-Time-Warlock-ebook/dp/B0082CBXNQ and the first of two shared world anthologies The Magic May Return, similarly concerning the end of the Earth's magic. The opening story Not Long Before The End can be read in its entirety by 'looking inside' the book at the above link is a classic tale I highly recommend. Niven wrote two additional short stories in this world that are in his collection Limits.

I also listened to (having previously read and also seen the movie of) Cornelia Funke's Inkheart and have started the sequel Inkspell.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

[ September 14, 2013, 02:22 PM: Message edited by: History ]
 
Posted by RyanB (Member # 10008) on :
 
I just finished A Rarefied View at Dawn by David Farland. If you've been reading his Daily Kicks you'll know that he's been letting some of his short stories go for free for limited periods. I figured these stories would be good research for WotF.

The tension and the world-building in this story are great. The dialogue could use a little work along with the prose. I suspected that even though the story has a professional cover it wasn't professionally edited. And then the story ended prematurely.

But Farland is a master storyteller, so I suspected I was wrong and he was right (that he ended the story in the correct place).

No.

There are notes after the story. Apparently Farland went to OSC's bootcamp and wrote this story there. And he didn't finish it.

So I'm shocked both by how good the story is and how bad it is. I mean he has a professional cover and is currently selling the story for $2.99, yet it's not professionally edited nor is it even finished.

OTOH, it needs just a small amount of polish. For something Farland did in a day or two it's quite good, no, incredibly good.

There's also a lot to learn WotF-wise. I'll start digging into the other shorts he's released for free. BTW, those free shorts are yet another reason to read his Kicks (as if you needed another reason).
 
Posted by shimiqua (Member # 7760) on :
 
I'm reading The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle.

This is the most beautiful, inspiring, book I've ever read. SO good in fact that I can only read it in small doses. It makes me stop and think, makes every scene poignant and beautiful, and it's brought me to tears seven times already, and I'm not an easy crier.

I think I'm taking the time with it, because this is going to be my favorite book, and I feel like I have to read it the way I usually read scriptures.

I will never ever in my life write a book that good, that perfect and beautiful and full. Amazingly good. Highest recommendation.

If you haven't read it yet, stop what you are doing and read it.*

*putting away the bossy pants.
 
Posted by tesknota (Member # 10041) on :
 
Shimiqua, I love that book. Just wait till you get to the ending.

Have you seen the movie? That was good too. =)
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Neglected this of late...and, besides, it's been a fairly busy month, what with the repiping job and all that, so I may have forgotten a few titles---but how memorable or good could they be if I've already forgotten about them?

Anyway, here's two I do remember...

Wilson, A. Scott Berg. Berg has written some thorough and reliable biographies of Max Perkins, Sam Goldwyn, and Charles Lindbergh, so a new one is always worth a look. This is a detailed look at Woodrow Wilson, treating his life and personality and presidency with great sympathy---maybe more sympathy than Wilson deserves.

Salinger, David Shields and Shane Salerno. Not a biography of J. D. Salinger, but more of an oral history of him with a few notes. It confirms some of my suspicions---that Salinger continued writing without publishing, and that he lived a life and had friends independent of his (self-rejected) literary fame. Not that I'm inspired to reread The Catcher in the Rye, though...

One other item. I mentioned the repiping job---a nightmare, by far the worst thing I've ever had to do to this house I own---but I got a weird side benefit. I had to move a bookcase full of hardcover SF books so the plumbers could get at one set of pipes, and, as of now, they sit in my living room, a big pile of book (next to the other big pile of books). And, in moving them, I was reminded of titles and writers I hadn't though of in years...I'll be rereading some of them shortly...
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Picked up a mess o' books on a two-day trip to Gainesville, one of some importance:

Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2.

I didn't even know it was about to come out, it was just there in the store! And Volume 1 was real hard to get, besides (I had to order it online, finally). I've already read most of it (the text and half the notes).

If you recall, a couple of years ago, Volume 1 came out---Samuel "Mark Twain" Clemens's autobiography, dictated mostly in the last decade of his life, incorporating this or that text, and a substantial pile of work. Clemens / Twain stated he didn't want it published in the form he'd chosen for it until at least a century after his death, and that time has come. (There have been selected and edited (and bowdlerized) versions before.) Volume 1 was a surprise bestseller.

It's an extremely episodic and unchronological book---Twain / Clemens leapep from topic to topic in his life (and the news at the time) as it occured to him. It's a lot of fun for the sophisticated reader willing to take the time and mental effort.

Also there's supposed to be a Volume 3...
 
Posted by Dirk Hairychest (Member # 10105) on :
 
I have a tendency to read many books very slowly. So the books that I have sitting on my nightstand right now our Lord of the Rings fellowship of the Rings. I just encouraged a friend of mine to read it for the first time and he's been giving me updates on where he is and what he likes and it has encouraged me to read it again. I just bought Contact by Carl Sagan at the thrift store thought I'd give that a try. I'm still in the first chapter there. I am also re-reading A Darkness At Sethanon by Raymond Feist. Magician by Feist was the first fantasy book that I ever read when I was young man and I ate it up. I also have started I, Robot and the Foundation books by Asimov. I admit I never liked the Foundation series but the friend that I encouraged to read the Lord of the Rings had me read it as a trade off.
I guess I am on an oldies kick right now.
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I have reread Lord of the Rings a couple of times and have thought it might be time again. Especially if I will be rewriting an epic fantasy I started probably ten years ago--at least. Something brought it to my mind recently and I decided it might work. I can't get to the copy I have but I can still remember enough of the adventures to redo it.

And I haven't felt drawn to Foundation either. I love Asimov's writing but that one series just doesn't catch my attention for some reason. But Penumbra will be having an Isaac Asimov issue where they want you to write a story in his style. If I did one I would have to reread some of his stories.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
Hey! They are not called "oldies", Dirk. They're called classics!

I whet my teeth on Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Niven, Norton, Bradbury, Ellison, Zelazney, Moorcock, Tolkien, Dunsany, Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, et al.

Respectfully,
Dr. (Classic) Bob
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
Foundation and company seemed somewhat, well, disappointing when I reread it a few years ago...I think Asimov got better as a writer in the 1950s...and, also, by then I'd read a good deal more of real history and could see the what-and-who it was all being based on. (I've been waiting for a reprint of The Caves of Steel to see if Asimov was better...though, come to think of it, a hardcover omnibus that contains it is at the top of the pile o' books I mentioned above...)
 
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
 
I thought Foundation was among his later novels. And Caves was one of his earlier ones. I must have read them out of order.


But I am finally getting to what I am reading at the moment.

Glen Cook's "Wicked Bronze Ambition", the latest and maybe longest Garrett. PI novel.

Cook came up with a very interesting fantasy world and placed an old fashion Gumshoe in it. Very entertaining and Cook does a very good job with the mysteries, descriptions of action and plot points.

I should say though that there is one detail I don't like. Cook changed something in the personal life of Garrett suddenly and I'm not sure why. I liked it the way it was. I think it fit Garrett better.
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
The original "trilogy" books were actually stories collected from Astounding and published from about 1942 to 1949 (the opening piece in the first book being written to provide a less-abrupt opening---the rest appear in the order they were written.)

Asimov again returned to the world of the Foundation in the 1980s (at his publisher's insistence), though he made a short false start in the 1970s that he incorporated into the beginning of the first new book.

Asimov said he thought he'd stripped all the "pulpishness" out of his writing style by the mid-1940s, but I think the process took a little longer---and a good deal of non-fiction writing---to complete. Asimov's later writing is so clear and simple it misleads writers who attempt to duplicate it.
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
I was an Asimov acolyte in my day. The galactic scope of the original "Foundation Trilogy" awed me (it still does) as did the idea of Psychohistory predicting the course of humanity over millennia, the panic that ensued when the aberration of The Mule changed the course of humanity, and the secret Second Foundation that restored Seldon's Plan to its ultimate goal: the shortening of the chaos during the dark years between the fall of the First Galactic Empire and the rise of the Second.

I also loved his Robot stories and the concept of the Three Laws of robotics. His later award-winning contribution to the series, The Bicentennial Man, remains one of my favorites.

His dual sf robot novels, The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun were a delight, both because they were mysteries and science fiction and because of the chemistry between its protagonists the agoraphobic and irascible Earth detective Elijah Bailey (a fictionalized Asimov, in my opinion) who is distrustful of robots and his assigned gentle and wise robot partner R Daneel Olivaw (who I found so wonderful I gave a nod to him in my own WOTF Finalist story].

Asimov also wrote stories that occurred within the period of a (later his First) Galactic Empire, including his first novel Pebble In the Sky.

All of these I enjoyed. And they were not initially conceived as being part of one grand history. However, in the 1980's, perhaps pushed by his publishers or by his admiration of the grand Future Histories created by his famous contemporary Robert Heinlein and, perhaps, the then new successful upstarts like Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Asimov linked nearly all his work through a series of novels intertwining his robot, Galactic Empire, and Foundation stories. It was a grand effort, but I did not find it always successful in that at times I found it a bit forced--though easily forgiven by me in seeing many beloved characters again.

As a completest, I also picked up his The Early Asimov. Though these early tales were published, I found many of them disappointing--e.g. "The Weapon To Dreadful To Use" (yet was), his fourth published story, still haunts me for how much I disliked it. Thus, I believe I possess some objectivity regarding the Good Doctor's fiction.

I had hoped to meet him. He was a Professor of Biochemistry at my Medical School, but retired before my matriculation.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
 
Oh. And I just started reading Robert Silverberg's Tales of Majipoor, a series of seven longer tales set in his marvelous giant low gravity multi-alien populated world of the title. If you haven't read his first Majipoor trilogy, beginning with the classic Lord Valentine's Castle, you should.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob
 
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
 
The Saga of why Asimov stopped teaching at Boston University School of Medicine was quite an epic in itself, and is included in his memoirs, mostly at the beginning of the second volume. Basically, it's a case of the powers-that-be not liking that Asimov abandoned research for non-fiction writing during school hours (but he kept teaching and kept his SF writing home), and, on Asimov's part, that he had a substantial outside income from said writing and didn't need to kowtow to keep the job. He had an argument with them over his tenure and keeping his title (without pay or duties), but in the end they gave in and he kept it.

All that happened in the late 1950s---though Asimov did continue to give lectures at the medical school for some time, usually the first one given to the class. I guess you must've missed him. (I passed on going to a couple of speaking engagements he had in and near my hometown.)

I think Asimov linking it all together in his later works was something he did to keep it interesting to