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  #861  
Old 05 April 2018, 07:00 PM
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That's been out for a while in the UK - I saw it in bookshops before Christmas. It's one of those books people buy each other as gifts. It actually looked quite comprehensive and surprisingly informative, but I didn't buy a copy.
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  #862  
Old 05 April 2018, 07:30 PM
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I'm reading Cave of Bones, the latest Navajo Nations mystery by Anne Hillerman.
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  #863  
Old 10 April 2018, 12:58 PM
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I finished reading The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: 2 Fuzzy, 2 Furious today.

For those unfamiliar, this is a book series set in a somewhat different universe to the regular Marvel comic book. In this series, Squirrel Girl is a teenager living in Shady Oaks, a nice quiet northeastern suburb. Except, of course, all is not as it seems: HYDRA has extended its tentacles into opening...a Totally-Not-Evil shopping mall. Yeah, this series is Adam West Batman levels of absurd, although authors Dean and Shannon Hale aren’t afraid to take it to dark levels. This time, the villain is Bryan Lazardo (slightly less obvious than book 1’s Mike Romanger), a man who uses a musk to reduce people to a primal state.

It’s again a good book. One thing I do love is how the series, despite being about a girl living in suburbia who has squirrel powers for no readily explained reason (and she’s completely fine with it) has the Avengers doing things like reciting odes to socks and saying they’re off-world fighting Thanos almost as an excuse to not join the action.

Seriously, I would not mind seeing more books in this series.
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  #864  
Old 11 April 2018, 05:39 AM
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I have one of those Squirrel Girl books. Shannon Hale is wonderful. She spoke at a our local library when one of her other books came out.

My 8 year old daughter and I are reading The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill. I love it and my kiddo who seem a bit intimidated by big books is really getting into it.
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  #865  
Old 11 April 2018, 05:30 PM
Jusenkyo no Pikachu Jusenkyo no Pikachu is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Aud 1 View Post
I have one of those Squirrel Girl books. Shannon Hale is wonderful. She spoke at a our local library when one of her other books came out.

My 8 year old daughter and I are reading The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill. I love it and my kiddo who seem a bit intimidated by big books is really getting into it.
I bought the first Princess In Black book for a friendís daughter (my parents were jointly celebrating a birthday and hers fell on the date they chose). She devoured it.

I also like to think I helped get Viga Lovhaug into Shannonís books (I sent Princess Academy, the two Rapunzel books, the first SG book and Real Friends). Her husband loved Rapunzelís Revenge already.
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  #866  
Old 18 April 2018, 03:06 PM
Jusenkyo no Pikachu Jusenkyo no Pikachu is offline
 
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I went to Tasmania a couple of weeks ago. While I was there, I picked up a book called The Mindful Fairies, a kids’ book from an author who lives in the state.

The best I can figure is that it’s about the adventures of two “Mindful Fairies” (the book never really defines this and implies that they are more helpful) named Tiptoe and Sunbeam, who live at the bottom of a garden. They do things like have tea parties and rescue a unicorn known as a “Magi-Corn”.

The problem is that the book seems to want to be a book along the lines of theFaraway Tree or Wishing Chair books, but it kind of forgets that those books wasted very little time on worldbuilding, leading to it taking three chapters for Tiptoe and Sunbeam to so much as take a step. Also, it occasionally remembers that the story is in a first-person perspective, with our human narrator only briefly actually interacting with the two. It’s like the inverse of the Baby-Sitters Club book where Dawn goes back to California for the first time (where formula dictates that the story has to also focus on the Stoneybrook girls).
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  #867  
Old 26 April 2018, 06:20 PM
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Currently reading The Butchering Art, which is an account of Dr. Joseph Lister and how he reformed surgery. Some of the passages are pretty gory, but necessary IMO. Even if a patient survived the operation, s/he was at high risk for gangrene, sepsis, etc.
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  #868  
Old 01 May 2018, 07:52 AM
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I read The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between British and American English by Lynne Murphy. I was going to mention it earlier as a general recommendation to the board - I think a lot of people here would enjoy it. (The title of the American edition has "British" and "American" the other way round). It's written by an American linguist who has been living and teaching in England for the last 18 years.

I also finished Romola, which I think has jumped to being my second-favourite of Eliot's books (that I've read) after Middlemarch. It takes a bit of a strange turn towards the end, but Eliot does seem more prone to killing everybody off at the ends of her books than you'd expect. Not everybody dies at the end of this one. And some of the deaths are historical anyway.

And I've finished the second of Robin Hobb's Tawny Man trilogy (The Golden Fool). I've now remembered completely why her first trilogy annoyed me so much. After reading the Live Ship trilogy (which I really liked) I'd thought she'd matured as a writer and would be trying to move some of these things along in the next novels, but it seems they were all deliberate; all the things I'd thought were character development or an advance on the setting have been put back almost to square one.

The setting is a kingdom that seems to have barely got beyond tribal politics, yet has the trappings of a well-off late medieval feudal society. There's about six hundred pages of passive-aggressive moaning, with perhaps two plot developments in the whole thing, both of which were set up at the end of the last book anyway. At the end of the book they're still in almost exactly the same position as at the start - which is how I previously managed to read 20 pages of the third one before realising I'd skipped a book. In a kingdom with dragons, one of the sub-plots seems to be about how sex outside marriage is always wrong, and contraception is a mysterious thing known only by women which works badly enough that you might as well not bother anyway. (Who's that aimed at? Conservative American teenagers?). Fitz still spends all his time blaming himself (and being blamed for) things that have nothing to do with him, while refusing even to acknowledge responsibility for some of the things he could do something about. At one point, after a particular character has constantly been blaming him for something that he can't really do much about, he decides he will have another go at sorting it out, at which point she turns around and blames him for thinking it's all his fault, and tells him he needs other people to sort it out themselves.

And nobody ever talks to each other or passes on vital plot-related information because they're always in the middle of petty spats over imagined slights, or busy trying to work out who they can blame. To paraphrase a typical line of thought, "I held a grudge against him because I suspected that he wasn't telling me the vital plot-related information that I needed to know. I resented that, and I resented the way that he resented my not telling him of our previous resentment over the resentment before that, which happened because we'd not told each other about how we'd resented the minor imagined slights that happened when we tried to talk to each other about our original resentment from the last book. I could have resolved this just by going to talk to him, but I didn't. After all, why should I? He had hurt my feelings. I knew that I had hurt his feelings too, and felt guilty, but so what? And I certainly couldn't tell him the vital plot-related information that I knew, and that combined with his knowledge might have helped the plot, while things between us stood this way. Meanwhile, all the problems of the kingdom continued seemingly with no way to resolve them."

Anyway, at the end of this book she has at least set up the actual quest that's going to be happening in the next book, and since she's usually a lot better when things are actually happening, I will continue to bear with it. I can't help but feel that the run-up could have been condensed to, say, a mere couple of hundred pages and the quest fitted into this book, though. But then it wouldn't be a trilogy.
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  #869  
Old 01 May 2018, 12:24 PM
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That sounds like absolute torture to read.

I admire your tenacity in bothering to finish it, it it were me, that would have been on the ďcanít be arsed with this anymoreĒ pile long ago!
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  #870  
Old 01 May 2018, 01:11 PM
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I might be exaggerating a bit, but not by much. I was reading the last book when I visited my cousin, and he said he'd tried to read some Robin Hobb but gave up because he constantly wanted to slap all the characters. I know how he feels. Funnily enough, the books he mentioned were the ones I actually enjoyed - they still have a couple of rather annoying characters, but it seems more deliberate that the characters are meant to be annoying, and there's enough else going on that I could overlook the annoying parts. She can actually write non-annoying characters who act like mature adults and do things effectively, as well - it's just that they only seem to wake up and bother once per book, and even then they never repeat the useful things.

In the first trilogy they're supposedly fighting a war, but there's only one point in which anybody bothers to raise an army and fight a battle - which they win, and which looks like the start of a good strategy for victory - but after that, rather than continuing, they effectively say "Well that was successful. Now what?" and go back to doing nothing!

I bought all three of this trilogy before I started, so I will finish it. And as I said, when her characters actually get off their arses and start doing things, the books do tend to be a lot better. I wouldn't recommend her as effusively as some people do, though...
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  #871  
Old 01 May 2018, 01:54 PM
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I mostly liked the Tawny Man books; but a) I may be less interested in moving the plot along rapidly than you are and b) I read some of those things differently -- I wasn't, for instance, reading 'sex outside marriage is wrong' but 'sex that violates marriage vows is wrong', which isn't the same thing -- the lead character, for instance, happily has intermittent sex with a particular woman until he finds out that she was married at the time and cheating on her husband, and hadn't told him this. He's not upset that he was having sex with her without having married her, he's upset that she's lied to him and to her husband.

I think maybe I was somewhat attracted by books in which the hero/point of view character often isn't all that competent, and sometimes makes the same sort of mistakes repeatedly from slightly different directions. That actually strikes me as fairly realistic.
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  #872  
Old 01 May 2018, 06:33 PM
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I read some of those things differently -- I wasn't, for instance, reading 'sex outside marriage is wrong' but 'sex that violates marriage vows is wrong', which isn't the same thing -- the lead character, for instance, happily has intermittent sex with a particular woman until he finds out that she was married at the time and cheating on her husband, and hadn't told him this. He's not upset that he was having sex with her without having married her, he's upset that she's lied to him and to her husband.
Actually, in the narration he goes on and on about his own "hypocrisy" for having sex with Starling and Jenna when he's trying to tell Hap not to have sex with his own girlfriend, and concludes that he's also wrong... so you can read it like you do, which certainly makes it less annoying, but Fitz himself doesn't appear to think that, or at least hasn't worked it out yet! In two out of three of the cases, there are no marriage vows involved...
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  #873  
Old 09 May 2018, 04:47 PM
Jusenkyo no Pikachu Jusenkyo no Pikachu is offline
 
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I’m reading Total Control by Gillian Cross. It’s the seventh book in the Demon Headmaster series, and I think it’s probably the best. Mostly because our God Empress Dinah isn’t actually in it (it did get weird when the Headmaster simultaneously accounted for and missed her), and the characters aren’t SPLAT 2.0 (this time, they’re all hypnotised, and only really cotton on halfway through). On the other hand, this time around we don’t get the Prefects or the catchphrase that is not the thing Rose and Jeff first tell Dinah (“All students must obey the Prefects. The Prefects are the voice of the Headmaster.” It is later “The Prefects are the voice of the Headmaster. They must be obeyed.”)
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  #874  
Old 28 May 2018, 09:25 PM
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I finished reading Artificial Condition, the second novella in Martha Wells' new series, The Murderbot Diaries. Basically, the backstory is that a machine/biological hybrid went on a murderous rampage and had its memory partially wiped. The biological bits are the reason it has any remembrance of the occasion and it has named itself Murderbot. It deactivated its governor module, which in most books would be a Very Bad, No Good Thing, but in this case the killing spree had been caused by corruption in the module that forced Murderbot to murder its charges. It still has an underlying desire to protect the naive humans from silly decisions that will get them killed, but it's deeply uncomfortable at social interactions and prefers to vicariously experience the world through serialized video dramas. Particularly The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon. Murderbot really likes Sanctuary Moon in the same way I like Michael Schur sitcoms. The first book had Murderbot stationed with a planetary exploration group, where it did all three of these things: tried to protect the humans, was super uncomfortable when they attempted to include Murderbot in the group dynamic, and binge-watched Sanctuary Moon to cope with the discomfort. In Artificial Condition, Murderbot heads back to the site of the mining disaster where the Murderbotting happened to fill in its missing memories.

I'm now early into Tim Powers' Declare, which can best be described as a Cold War supernatural spy thriller, with Kim Philby in a significant cameo. Apparently, British ultra-secret spy societies recruit young, since the protagonist was brought into Operation Declare at 7, and was told to "not--worry" because he was on their rolls. This one of the most unreassuring reassurances ever.
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  #875  
Old 03 June 2018, 12:42 PM
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Quite a bit of reading in May:

I finished the Tawny Man trilogy, and as I'd hoped, enjoyed the third book far more, because there was action and plot developments and things actually happening. The quest was great. It did make me wonder how exactly they'd all ended up in the marriage agreement in the first place, and why they were initially so keen on sticking to the task that Dutiful had been given even when it became clear that the whole thing was a plot by their enemies, none of the good guys wanted it to happen, and its consequences would be unpredictable at best and probably awful.

And as for the marriage pact itself, did they get a message saying the equivalent of "I am princess of Nigeria and must marry your prince to get $$$ for you", and jump right at it? Once they got there, they didn't seem to know or understand anything at all about the lands they were supposedly allying with, or the political situation they were getting into. Did they not do any sort of research or preparation for it at all before making the agreement? They did do some half-hearted espionage in preparation for the mission after the fact (even though there would have been no reason not to go about this openly on a large scale as well). It was almost as poorly thought through and executed as Brexit has been so far, which is absurd, as no real nation would... oh, OK.

Anyway, I still find Robin Hobb a mixture of frustrating and also pretty good in places. I think I'll give her a rest for a while now though.

I read a couple of Tintin books (The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham's Treasure) that I bought at the Hergť museum when I visited my sister last month - she lives just across the park from it.

I read The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, which I bought as a quick read for the train home after realising I'd not bought a book with me on a long walk the other day. This is the first Chandler I've read, and I agree with my brother that he has more in common with PG Wodehouse than you might expect. (Including going to the same school). Fun if you ignore all the good old-fashioned misogyny and homophobia. And I was pleased to find out where the "Hatless! Repeat, suspect is hatless!" joke in The Simpsons comes from - Marlowe often describes people as "hatless".

Hello, My Name Is: The remarkable story of personal names by Neil Burdess. (On clearance in Waterstones) This is about names, as it says. It started out rather anecdotal and with an annoying lack of given sources, and he doesn't mind telling you the same interesting fact four or five times in different places throughout, but it improved after the introductory parts and I enjoyed it, although didn't necessarily learn much in the end.

Riven Rock by TC Boyle. It's set in the early 20th century and is about a guy who's locked up in his mansion with mental health problems that manifest themselves in violent attacks on women, and also about his (male) nurses and his wife, who's a suffragist. It took me a while to get into this because the main characters are quite unsympathetic - the theme seems to be violent misogyny, and there isn't any particular resolution to it other than a vague sense that maybe men are a bit like apes, and they're somehow "driven to it" by women trying to take control of things. I'd read Budding Prospects years ago, which I liked, but I'm not sure I liked this much. I had thought I read more of his, but the only other thing on my shelf is a short story (published on its own as an extract from one of his collections) that I don't remember at all.

And A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers, which is the follow up to The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. It follows two of the characters from the last book - Pepper and Lovelace - after the events at the end, and gives Pepper's history too. This was good - initially I thought it might become a bit twee, with characters constantly apologising to each other for microaggressions, but it didn't. It's still quite gentle, but it seemed less like Firefly fanfiction than the first one did. Assuming there will be more in the series, it also suggests the structure of the series, since there are several other characters or groups from the first novel that could also have their own self-contained follow-ups.

I'm now reading Enough Said: What's gone wrong with the language of politics? by Mark Thompson which is basically about the subject of this thread ("How can we talk to people we disagree with on the most fundamental levels?") but concentrating on the rhetorical aspects, and is worth reading. It was published in 2016 so it's not entirely up-to-date; Trump was only a candidate at the time but he does still get a fair amount of coverage. The rhetoric of Brexit hasn't come into it much yet. Thompson is trying to avoid putting "blame" on any particular side and is instead looking at what people say, why they're saying it, the extent to which it's true / in good faith / exaggerated or whatever. Although he's analysing speeches and comments from a lot of different sources, it does seem noticeable that the "worst" examples he can find (most misleading, least conducive to understanding, most emotive and so on), come from the far right. He hasn't needed to point that out yet though, and I'm not sure it fits with his thesis to do so.

Last edited by Richard W; 03 June 2018 at 12:56 PM.
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  #876  
Old 03 June 2018, 01:20 PM
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On the Road and Off the Record with Leonard Bernstein: My Years with the Exasperating Genius by Charlie Harmon. A great read for those interested in the world of classical music or the culture of celebrity in general.
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  #877  
Old 03 June 2018, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
they didn't seem to know or understand anything at all about the lands they were supposedly allying with, or the political situation they were getting into. Did they not do any sort of research or preparation for it at all before making the agreement? They did do some half-hearted espionage in preparation for the mission after the fact (even though there would have been no reason not to go about this openly on a large scale as well). It was almost as poorly thought through and executed as Brexit has been so far, which is absurd, as no real nation would... oh, OK.


I think that's actually part of what I like about Hobb. Her characters screw up a lot, and often in the same fashion repeatedly -- and yes, that can be annoying to read, but it's also realistic. She's not writing the standard sort of Hero who Gets Things Right. (Or claims to; I often think they're actually Getting Things Wrong.)

(I'm afraid a lot of USA foreign policy -- and not only recently -- also comes all too close to fitting your description above.)
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  #878  
Old 21 June 2018, 01:42 PM
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This is a little embarrassing, but lately I've been on a lesbian romance kick. Not erotica (though some of them do have an explicit scene or two, making me wonder where the line is drawn), but more like fluffy romantic comedy/drama. For most of my life I thought I hated romantic fiction, but recently I discovered that it wasn't the romance that bothered me - it was the men. Not that I dislike men, but I can't relate to them, nor can I relate to wanting them.

I just finished reading "Solve for i" by A. E. Dooland. It's about a woman who had always considered herself straight, but has recently been developing an unhealthy crush on her best friend (who is straight, pregnant, and in a relationship). What really hit home with me was the portrayal of protagonist's crippling social anxiety. It's written in first person, so you can see her thought process during every social interaction. Whenever anyone tries to engage her in conversation, she goes over all the possible responses in her head, rejecting each one out of fear of being wrong, and most of the time just ends up saying nothing.

Sadly enough, I have never related to a fictional character more. There were times when even I felt like shouting, "Just say it already! Your silence is making the situation worse than anything you could possibly say!" But then I would realize that I probably would have done the same thing. The author really nails what it’s like to be inside my head. It's also the first book that's made me cry in 25 years.
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  #879  
Old 28 June 2018, 03:40 PM
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Last evening, I checked out a book that is nothing but photos of puppies. Puppies playing, puppies eating, puppies out on walks, dressed up puppies, etc. There is accompanying text, but the author lets his camera tell the story/capture the moment. Serious cuteness abounds.
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  #880  
Old 01 July 2018, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by 1958Fury View Post
This is a little embarrassing, but lately I've been on a lesbian romance kick. Not erotica (though some of them do have an explicit scene or two, making me wonder where the line is drawn), but more like fluffy romantic comedy/drama. For most of my life I thought I hated romantic fiction, but recently I discovered that it wasn't the romance that bothered me - it was the men. Not that I dislike men, but I can't relate to them, nor can I relate to wanting them.

I just finished reading "Solve for i" by A. E. Dooland. It's about a woman who had always considered herself straight, but has recently been developing an unhealthy crush on her best friend (who is straight, pregnant, and in a relationship). What really hit home with me was the portrayal of protagonist's crippling social anxiety. It's written in first person, so you can see her thought process during every social interaction. Whenever anyone tries to engage her in conversation, she goes over all the possible responses in her head, rejecting each one out of fear of being wrong, and most of the time just ends up saying nothing.

Sadly enough, I have never related to a fictional character more. There were times when even I felt like shouting, "Just say it already! Your silence is making the situation worse than anything you could possibly say!" But then I would realize that I probably would have done the same thing. The author really nails what itís like to be inside my head. It's also the first book that's made me cry in 25 years.
I actually tried reading Rage: A Love Story. I havenít known anyone in an abusive relationship, but I still stopped in disgust. Donít get me wrong, itís amazing and likely an honest depiction, but dear god the character of Reeve is horrible (and the book doesnít sugarcoat).
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