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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Discussing Published Hooks & Books » What I'm Reading Now Thread (Page 20)

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Author Topic: What I'm Reading Now Thread
LDWriter2
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One I forgot to mention was "The Red Plague Affair" by Lilith Saintcrow . The second in a series.

It's a form of steampunk, or gearpunk but darker than usual with magic and an alternative England where the spirit of Brittany possess every queen--probably king too--at certain times. Very well written and the adventure is worth keeping up with.

I think the writer's name is a pen name and it fits with this series.

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Robert Nowall
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Wrapping up a three-week vacation today (more elsewhere shortly). Among other things, I read a lot of books. I've been noticing, lately, my reading speed was slowing down and I wasn't getting to books I bought right away.

Only on this vacation, I managed to read more than twenty books (count approximate). Some were rereads, most were new. I guess it's work that's been holding me back---when I've got the time to spare, I just zip right through a pile of them.

Two books of note, the ones that I found outstanding:

Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II, Wil S. Hylton. This is the story of the locating of a crashed American bomber in the Pacific, and its history. What caught my eye is the exploration about how grief over one's loss is heightened by uncertainty over one's loved ones' fate.

Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of HUGUETTE CLARK and the Spending of a Great American Fortune, Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newel, Jr. The saga of Huguette Clark, heiress to a fortune in the 1920s, who staged a retreat from the world that made Howard Hughes look like a man-about-town, who lived till 2011 and died just before her 105th birthday. Explores so many different byways along the way that there's sure to be something to catch your interest---nearly all of it caught mine.

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JTR
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I just finished Ringworld by Larry Nivens.
I really enjoyed it, its not very long you can get through it in a day easy but I would recommend it to any science fiction readers

I hope I can get the time tomorrow to read the sequel The Ringworld Engineers

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LDWriter2
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Forgot this forum again.


But I am reading-and almost done with-Armored edited by John Joseph Adams

It's an anthology --a nice thick one--dealing with armor suits. Very well written. And they are not all the same. One was steam
powered. A couple had minds of their own. A lot were nicely told war stories while others a couple were nicely told non war stories.

[ June 08, 2014, 07:12 PM: Message edited by: LDWriter2 ]

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JohnMac
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I just finished Stephen King's Carrie...none of the movies do this book justice by a long shot. And I mean that in every sense - if you had lost faith in Uncle Stephen go back to this book. It's tight crisp writing and I feel strong in every way.

I still have The Best of H.P. Lovecraft and The Phillip K. Dick reader on the night stand that I jump to every couple of days - I like to go back through them even after I reach the end, they are inspirations to the Nth Degree for me. But then again, I'm the kinda guy that can put in a movie or CD and just let it play on infinite loop...

My new focused reading novel is The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty. Slow start, but it is a book I will finish since it comes so highly recommended.

I have Armored as well LDWriter2. I started it, got sidetracked...guess I'm putting that in the stack with H.P. and Phil...

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Meredith
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Indulging myself with a couple of old Dorothy L. Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries (Unnatural Death and The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club). Found the ebooks on sale. [Smile]
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Robert Nowall
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Try The Nine Tailors.

Also (passing on some good advice I picked up somewhere) try comparing Dorothy Sayers's books to, say, Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. See how different events unfold. Doyle's stories usually start with somebody coming to Holmes, and the solution is found rather quickly. In a Sayers story, events unfold over longer periods of time---Lord Peter Wimsey becomes part of the other characters's lives, and he becomes part of theirs.

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
Try The Nine Tailors.

Also (passing on some good advice I picked up somewhere) try comparing Dorothy Sayers's books to, say, Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. See how different events unfold. Doyle's stories usually start with somebody coming to Holmes, and the solution is found rather quickly. In a Sayers story, events unfold over longer periods of time---Lord Peter Wimsey becomes part of the other characters's lives, and he becomes part of theirs.

It's on my list. [Smile]

I tend to pick up the Lord Peter stories as I find them on sale.

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wetwilly
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Neil Gaiman, American Gods. I'm about 80% through it. It's my first Neil Gaiman book, and I was excited to try him out, but sadly, this will probably be my last Neil Gaiman book. I am quite disappointed with it. The plot is, well, boring--not much happens at all, just driving from point A to point B to talk to various characters that barely matter and are not interesting. The MC is so apathetic about EVERYTHING that he is completely uninteresting to follow. And it's not like an angry, intentional kind of apathy, which could be interesting, but regular old, non-reaction to everything apathy. I do not care what happens to anybody in this book. SPOILER ALERT......The second biggest character in the book got his face blown off due to blatant betrayal, and I really didn't care. A lot I dislike about this book, but I'll leave it at that. Very disappointing. It's a shame; the premise had potential.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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You got a lot further than I did in that book, wetwilly (as in about 10 times further).

I'd suggest that you give something else by Gaiman a try. THE GRAVEYARD BOOK is particularly cool, IMHO (especially if you are acquainted with Kipling's Mowgli stories). CORALINE is also cool. And I liked STARDUST (plot is a little different from what ended up in the movie, by the way).

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MattLeo
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I'll second Kathleen's advice on Gaiman. Don't stop with American Gods. It's a work of genius, but it has its faults. If you love the story, you'll forgive the faults, maybe not even see them. But if the faults kill your enjoyment, well that's a personal thing. You an still see the genius.

I actually wrote a very long critique of American Gods on this site, available near the bottom of this Dr. Bob thread: Saga writing as blessing and curse. Look at it and see if it agrees with your experience.

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Grumpy old guy
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Well, I was doing a bit of reserach for a thread I'm planning to start here and, in furtherance of that, I started reading A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and I was hooked immediately. Since then I've finished that and The Sign of Four and started on the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

What caught my imagination? I really don't know but I found I couldn't stop reading; until Sir Arthur started 'explaining' the life story of the villain. There may be good reason for this, I'm certain it was a sign of the times, so-to-speak, to aquaint readers with 'exotic' locations and 'strange' motives (although the motives aren't all that strange) but I found it lessened the experience.

Phil.

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wetwilly
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MattLeo: I guess I haven't got to the part where it gels yet. My biggest complaint is the totally apathetic, complacent MC. He's just boring. Really boring.

I just do not care for this book at all.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Grumpy old guy, I believe that the villain's back story in A STUDY IN SCARLET was what sold that first Sherlock Holmes book. It was serialized when it first appeared in print, and because of the sensational nature of the villain's back story, people kept buying the magazine to get the next installment. When the serial was finally completed, Holmes had been established and the rest is history.

The thing that I believe made the villain's back story so interesting to readers back then was the fact that Doyle had a Mormon as the villain. The things he made up about Mormons were of interest because people in England were joining the Mormon church in rather large numbers, and ministers were preaching against them quite a lot.

So my theory is that without Mormons, we wouldn't have Sherlock Holmes.

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Robert Nowall
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Kathleen, are you sure you're thinking of "A Study in Scarlet?" According to Wikipedia (which confirms my memory of reading it somewhere), it was first published in a Christmas annual in 1887 and attracted little attention.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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So it wasn't serialized? Hmm. I had always heard that the Holmes stories were first published in THE STRAND. And A STUDY IN SCARLET was the first to be published, or so I understood.
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Grumpy old guy
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A Study in Scarlet first appeared in Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1887, or so the blurb inside the cover of my omnibus of Sherlock Holmes stories says. It fails to mention if it was serialized or not.

Phil.

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MattLeo
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Actually I think Sherlock Holmes caught on for two reasons. (1) The stories featured superbly memorable and credible characterization. (2) They perfectly captured the Victorian zeitgeist of scientific romanticism.

It's not just that Sherlock was a standout; Doyle does a magnificent job with Watson's narration. Watson sounds completely credible as a young, adventurous doctor, at loose ends after a run of ruddy bad luck.

Sherlock is a Promethean character. He not only has tremendous agency in the story, he operates outside the restraints of society and authority. And he draws Watson outside too for the adventure and danger Watson secretly craves.

This pairing was going to be a winner, even if launched in a relatively mediocre story, as they were. The whole Mormon interlude was a drag on the story, in my opinion, although who knows how audiences of the day took it? Reading about adventures in exotic locales with a smugly superior attitude was a very Victorian pastime.

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Grumpy old guy
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Kathleen, the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes may have been serialised as they are, in essence, a collection of short stories.

Phil.

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Meredith
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Sorcery and Cecelia, by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. An interesting YA epistolary story. I think one of the characters has just been turned into a tree in Vauxhall Gardens. [Smile]

[ July 01, 2014, 03:41 PM: Message edited by: Meredith ]

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Robert Nowall
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Near as I can track down, Sherlock Holmes took off in popularity after he began appearing in a series of short stories in The Strand, after A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four.
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wetwilly
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Finished American Gods. I officially don't like it. I wish I would have followed my initial hunch and bailed on page 100. Could have saved myself 500 pages I didn't care for.

I didn't HATE it. Just didn't really like it. Had a complete non-reaction to it from beginning to end.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Thanks for the corrections on Holmes and the publishing history, you all.
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Robert Nowall
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Not much reading activity in June---going back to work-that-pays really slowed me down---but I did read a few.

One that stands out, perhaps for the wrong reasons:

The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark, Meryl Gordon.

This is the same heiress featured in the book Empty Mansions I mention above. This book is perhaps a more straightforward biography / history, more in chronological order, plus a few more facts in the case...but seems to lack the oomph! of Empty Mansions.

One thing nearly killed it for me. Something that, as a postal clerk, I am perhaps more sensitive to than others. Page 286 has a line that reads, in partm "In her new environment at the downscale and downtown Beth Israel Hospital, a world away from the serene zip code where she had resided for nine decades..." Refers to an apartment building Huguette Clark lived in from 1925 till 1991 when she relocated to the hospital. But Zip Codes were introduced in 1963; they didn't exist nine decades before 1991.

Elsewhere in these pages there's a discussion about world building and details for the story and for the world. This strikes me as a case where the writer bent historical facts (or was unaware of them) for the sake of a good line.

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LDWriter2
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Been trying to recall the exact title of two books I am reading.


One is "Dawn"s Early Light" by Pip Ballantine, Tee Morris. It's the third Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences book. Steampunk with spies.

An interesting take on things. Especially with one of the hero's new car. It's streamlined and steam powered with a couple of rows of seats and makes a noise like chitty chitty bang bang.


More on the other book next time.

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History
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Mythago Wood by Robert Holstock
http://www.amazon.com/Mythago-Wood-Cycle-Robert-Holdstock/dp/0765307294

This World and British Fantasy Award winner of 1984 explores the mystery and wonder of Rhyope Wood, the primal post Ice Age primal forest that contains and responds to the mythic generative avatars hopes and archetypes derived from the hopes and fears of humanity from the time we were cave dwellers to the present.

Steven Huxley's father was absorbed by his study of the wood and its mythago denizens, to the neglect of his family. Upon his death, Steven's brother Christian becomes enthralled by the Wood as well--both father and son enamored by the myth-generated young Gaelic warrior-princess Guinwenneth. Christian disappears in a mad search for her that threatens the forest.

Upon Steven's return to the family home by the Wood, he begins to experience the power of his own subconscous upon the wood, finds love and loses her and must enter the wood to save her, the wood, and himself.

-----

4 to 5 subsequent works further explore the Wood and themes related to it, and each can be read independently to the others. Truly unique fantasies that explore history, myth, the inescapable intwined(though too often blindly ignoreed) relationship between man and nature.

I read the first two of this Mythago Wood series back in the 1980's, and decided to read all of them upon learning of this respected British author's unexpected passing in 2009 of an E. coli infection! [You never know. Love freely. Live fully. Keep striving at writing while you can].

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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extrinsic
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Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, the uncut 1991 version Virginia Heinlein released.

From the 160,000 word 1961 version to the 220,000 1991 uncut version--patently Heinlein did indeed revise. I'm reading the novel for that exact reason, to validate my assumptions that Heinlein did revise, and to validate his style--grammar proficiency. Heinlein spent ten years planning and writing the novel before its publication and a year revising to meet novel-length expectations of the time.

Some readers claim a side-by-side comparison of both versions shows the uncut version is superior. Some readers claim they are about the same. No one I could find claims the shorter version is superior.

In any case, as I thought, Heinlein did revise and had a somewhat stronger proficiency with grammar than many fantastical fiction writers today. Also, Virginia reports Robert planned his novels and short fiction out before he draft wrote. Draft writing with less revision as a consequence, not no revision, less than intuitive writers though, is patently to me Heinlein's process. Despite Heinlein's rules for writing.

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LDWriter2
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I keep forgetting to put down what I am reading.

So I just finished the First in Fiction River an anthology series edited by Dean Wesley Smith and his wife. The first one was subtitled Unnatural worlds.

I must say that it was very well done. Excellent stories and they were not the same; diverse settings and worlds. Two, maybe three, were parts of continual series. That included a Pokerboy story by Dean. I've been wanting to check out the series but wasn't sure which one was the first one or if it mattered where I picked it up. For those who don't know Pokerboy lives in an alternate world and has super powers. Those that deal with Poker. Yes, the card game. Others have super powers of various types too. Very intriguing.

I don't recall the writer of the other series and my book isn't handy. It deals with a pair of PIs one of whom is an elf. And they live and operate in a paranormal world. This one dealt with a case brought to them by a tinkerbell type of fairy. Which is all I will say about it. I want to find more in that series.

Okay, my book is now handy so I came back to say the writer of paranormal PIs is Annie Reed. The PIs are Diz and Dee.

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Robert Nowall
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Just completed reading A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal, by Ben Macintyre. Yes, it's the saga of Kim Philby, the MI6 Member and
Soviet Spy. But it's not really a biography, and, arguably, he's not central to the main line of the story. The "hero" of the story is another MI6 man, a good friend of Philby, who absolutely refuses to believe Philby is guilty, and acts on that belief...right up until the moment where he has no choice but to believe it. Fascinating plot and exploration of character...

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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
Just completed reading A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal, by Ben Macintyre.

If you're interested in those kinds of tales of deception, you might like The Man in the Rockefeller Suit, about a Christian Gerhartsreiter, a young German man who came to the US and insinuated himself into a series of highly wealthy enclaves by manufacturing socially prominent identities. The story is chock full of truth-is-stranger-than-fiction tidbits, like this: Gerhartsreiter modeled his upper class American accent on Jim Backus' Thurston Howell III from Gilligan's Island.

As "Clark Rockefeller" he used to dine with duped friends and show them a key he claimed was a master key that would open any office in Rockefeller Center. He'd then suggest they go have a little poke around in the private offices in the center, which the appalled friends would of course refuse. As "Christopher Chichester" he claimed to own Chichester Cathedral, which of course actually belongs to the Church of England. He insinuated himself with community leaders in San Marino by saying he was considering moving the cathedral there as a tourist attraction.

He even fooled prominent art experts with a completely bogus collection. Rockefeller eventually married a high powered business consultant for McKinsey and Co. Despite her business acumen, she never suspected he was a penniless German who survived by mooching off of others. People gave him things because they thought he was rich. That was part of his system, he'd get you to do do something for him, the you'd never believe he was a fake.

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wetwilly
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The Forever War, Joe Haldeman. It's been on my to-read list forever, and I just never got around to it. Finally read it. For the first 1/3 or so, I was not interested at all, but then the book grabbed me, and by the end it was a pretty enthralling read. Started off looking like it was going to be a dumb "dudes shooting dudes with lasers" book, but it turns out it's a book with a lot of interesting things to say, and smart ways to say them.

Now reading The Simulacra, by Philip K. Dick. I love Philip K. Dick, and am working on reading his entire catalogue, but this one isn't great. I'm about halfway through and it's pretty meh.

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Robert Nowall
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This month I was taken with two books in particular:

Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II's Greatest Rescue Mission, Hampton Sides. I've read several of this writer's books and was much taken with his ability to handle parallel narratives (not necessarily parallel in time). This is a good story of a somewhat-neglected-in-the-history-books operation late in World War II, providing fascinating details of life as a prisoner of war.

The Monogram Murders, Sophie Hannah. This is an authorized Agatha Christie mystery, featuring Hercule Poirot. Christie's name features prominently but she didn't write it. Some recent "authorized" sequels haven't been as good---but this is a cracking good mystery novel well worth the best of Christie and Poirot. After Poirot receives a warning about a possible forthcoming murder, a bizarre triple murder takes place at a London hotel---and the detective in charge (the narrator) has emotional problems with it. Fascinating story.

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LDWriter2
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Took me a while to get here to type this out. The book I'm reading is on my Nook in another room so I kept forgetting it, I finally had to look it up on B&N.

Anyway, I am reading Throne of Jade (Temeraire Series #2) by Naomi Novik. This is an excellant read in what could be called dragonpunk. It's set on an alternite Earth with dragons. They are more or less tamed and used for fighting by many countries. Napoleon is trying to capture and take over England. The MC is sea captain who by accident becomes a dragon captain. Yes, most dragons are large enough to carry a crew.

Great adventure, danger and sometimes unigue situations. Well written too.

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Robert Nowall
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Forgot to post on the first---then events in my life prevented it till now.

Anyway, since the abovementioned "new" Hercule Poirot mystery, I've been picking up and reading old Agatha Christie Poirot mysteries. (Also some of the "Poirot" TV series.) I'd read most of them long ago, but forgotten whodunit in most of them. And the journey there is usually interesting.

Enjoyable---though Christie's style isn't without its flaws and oddities---so I'll recommend some of the ones I've read. Lord Edgeware Dies, Murder on the Orient Express, Murder on the Links, One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, and Hercule Poirot's Christmas, for starters.

There are, of course, more, and I'll get to some of 'em in turn---also I'll probably dip into Miss Marple and maybe some of the standalones and short stories.

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LDWriter2
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Been trying to gt here to say something. Only trouble is that the book I am reading is in the other room on my Nook and I keep not wanting to take the time to look it up online.

Don't know why I can't recall the writer. I should. "Hammered" by Kevin Hearne. Not bad at all. Not one of my top favorites but still a very worthy read. Kevin knows how to spring surprises on his MC and to keep him in danger.


However I am also reading "The Winter Long" by Seanan McGuire. She is on my top list. Somewhere between number one and number three.

This one Yikes, I've been wanted to say something about it for a few chapters. But yet I need to say it carefully so there aren't any heavy duty spoilers.

So Her mother was the first suspect for various reason. I won't say what she was suspected of doing or to whom--what powerful personage--but I can see why she was suspected and I joined them even before it was voiced.

And Her??!!! What? Where did that one come from? Ohhh, Seanan what genius. Talk about your plots. It all fits of course. There is still one question to answer why? It will be of course. No wonder Seanan says this is the book it was all leading up to. Oh oh to quote Daya They are so screwed.

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Utahute72
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I've been reading the Agent Pendergast series by Preston and Child. Also some of their parallel works. I really like the Wyman Ford series.
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LDWriter2
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Not sure if I have seen them, can you give a short synopses?
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