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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Discussing Published Hooks & Books » What I'm Reading Now Thread (Page 2)

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Author Topic: What I'm Reading Now Thread
InarticulateBabbler
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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).


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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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.


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wetwilly
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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.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Just counted and I was able to read 71 books last year. That's better than one book per week. (I'm amazed.)
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KayTi
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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,
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Robert Nowall
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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.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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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.)


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KayTi
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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.
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InarticulateBabbler
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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).]


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KayTi
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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?


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KayTi
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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.


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KayTi
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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.


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Robert Nowall
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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).]


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InarticulateBabbler
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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.)


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KStar
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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.


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KayTi
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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...


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BenM
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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).]


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Joseph Forrest
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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.


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KayTi
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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.)


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Robert Nowall
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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.
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InarticulateBabbler
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I'm reading Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet--definitely Recommend.
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Antinomy
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“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!


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satate
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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.


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dreadlord
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the Three Musketeers, Im on Ten Years Later. just finished the Count of Monte Cristo.

gotta love Alexandre Dumas.


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Darth Petra
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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.


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KayTi
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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


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JamieFord
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Just finished Forge of God, by Greg Bear. A nice cozy book about the end of the world.


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InarticulateBabbler
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I'm finally getting around to Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Reading Neil Gaiman's THE GRAVEYARD BOOK (I think that's its title, anyway) which just won the Newberry Award.
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dreadlord
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currently rereading The Art of War, and One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest.
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Robert Nowall
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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.


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BenM
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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.



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satate
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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.
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rich
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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.


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KayTi
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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.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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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.


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KayTi
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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.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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KayTi, it won't mean much until later, but I'm glad you read it.
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shimiqua
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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


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Andromoidus
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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).]


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Symphonyofnames
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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.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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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.
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philocinemas
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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.
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BenM
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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...


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AmieeRock
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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).]


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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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.


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AmieeRock
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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.


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KayTi
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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...


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Andromoidus
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(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!!!!!


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Jeff Baerveldt
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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).]


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