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  #801  
Old 19 February 2017, 12:02 PM
Jusenkyo no Pikachu Jusenkyo no Pikachu is offline
 
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I'm still on my Shannon Hale kick. She and hubby Dean have a Squirrel Girl story out as part of a Marvel line-up. I'm not familiar with the character, but seeing that I love The Unbelievable Gwenpool (which takes a similar attitude to the story it tells) I figured I'd give both it and a regular SG trade a squiz. For a story set in suburban New Jersey, the novel gets surprisingly epic in scale (maybe not too surprising, when Shannon's novels have actually featured wars), with a moderately effective supervillain, who has to face off against the most ragtag bunch of misfits ever.

Now to get my parents reading these books…
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  #802  
Old 20 February 2017, 02:39 PM
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Seaboe Muffinchucker Seaboe Muffinchucker is offline
 
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Glasses

I'm reading a 45 year-old forensics book on Kindle, and the introduction would make most of the members of this board steam. The author claims a substantial proportion of rape claims are fraudulent, and that the younger the victim, the more likely the claim is to be false.

I was happy to realize that since the book is 45 years old, this troglodyte is no longer lecturing or teaching medical students his antiquated (and false) views.

Seaboe
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  #803  
Old 24 February 2017, 12:49 PM
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DawnStorm DawnStorm is offline
 
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Reading

Sounds like it makes you appreciate how far we've come (although I'm sure that attitude is still kicking around in some quarters).
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  #804  
Old 26 February 2017, 07:47 PM
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Finished Barrayar. Liked it a lot even though I knew which characters were going to live or die based on the later books. I think somebody at one point asked if Bujold was interested in doing a prequel set during the Mad Emperor Yuri stage and she declined due to "I would feel miserable writing it, and you would be miserable reading it". I tend to agree, although itís more because getting a sympathetic POV seems like it would be much harder. Aral would have been too young to have any agency and Piotr is justÖnot very sympathetic. He deeply wanted Miles to die in replico. Spending a whole bookís worth of Piotrís viewpoint would be rough. I also noticed that Bothariís personality has some similarities to Markís in terms of their responses to severe stress. I wonder if that was intentional by Bujold.

I started up Marie Brennanís Tropic of Serpents. This book is a second-world no-magic fantasy that is written in the style of a Victorian naturalistís memoir. IIRC, Brennan was exulting about winning the cover lottery and Todd Lockwood's art is fantastic. Brennan tries to put in a few bits of sci-babble to explain how dragons can take flight but doesnít dwell on it too much. She knows that wonít *cough* fly. And since there is no magic, I just have to doggedly ignore the square-cube law. I also noticed that these dragons have six limbs, counting their wings, and am curious as to whether Brennan is planning on putting the dragons in a different phylogenetic branch. The cover for the fifth book clearly demonstrates the development of wings from the middle limb pair. Assuming the classification system is similar to the Linnaean, these dragons clearly canít be tetrapods and could be in a more distant branch of the chordates or could be in a different phylum that developed a spinal column by convergent evolution.
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  #805  
Old 27 February 2017, 03:08 AM
Aud 1 Aud 1 is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seaboe Muffinchucker View Post
Aud and Thorny, have you read Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen yet?

Seaboe
Not yet. Mirror Mirror was the first one I had to actually wait for in audio from the library. First world problems. I'll get there eventually.
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  #806  
Old 02 March 2017, 07:30 AM
Jusenkyo no Pikachu Jusenkyo no Pikachu is offline
 
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I found a copy of the Bugsy Malone graphic novel and read it. I'm not sure what to make of it. All I can think is: yes, it's a thing that exists.
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  #807  
Old 02 March 2017, 09:00 AM
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I read The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson, which (like We Have Always Lived In The Castle) was very good. Less gothic and more straightforward than WHALITC but there was often a little psychological horror twist. And a lot of the stories seem modern given they were published in the 1940s - I can see that they'd be great for using in class, as they're all quite short, they've got clear themes that are still relevant but they aren't at all preachy or obvious about them.

(Jackson seems to be put in the horror / fantasy / science-fiction section over here, which is odd given she barely fits, and with female writers such as Margaret Atwood or Susanna Clarke, who would fit there but never get put there, the convention in the UK seems to be to treat women as "mainstream" if in any doubt. I was going to say, "unless they actually put a troll in the book" but Clarke has fairies and JK Rowling has pretty much every fantasy creature trope you can think of, and they're all still in the mainstream section, so I have no idea what those writers would have to do to get moved over, or why Jackson gets put there simply for writing about uncomfortable situations.)

The only other new book I've started is Sketches by Boz, by Boz. I mean Charles Dickens. I've read some before in other collections, but most are new to me and they're enjoyable little vignettes.

So now I'm reading that, The Diary of Samuel Pepys: A Selection, and S.

Pepys's diary is surprisingly readable and very interesting - I had worried it might be something I'd never finish. It covers ten years, and I've read 2.25 years so far (about a year per month) but should be able to read it at least twice that rate - one month's worth of (selected) entries is about the right length to read in the bath in the morning. Then I can read one of Dickens's sketches at lunchtime, and that only leaves S, which I have been managing to read in bed if I go to bed early enough.

I'm still not sure about S. The production and planning is amazing - it must have taken a lot of work to put together, and (even though it costs £30) I'm wondering how many copies they would need to sell to make any money at all on it - it would have to be tens of thousands, and I've not heard of its being a best-seller.

There are so many nice little touches; at one point, one of the note writers suddenly uses a different pen and this manages to seem like a plot twist. (She uses what looks like the same pen that the other guy had been using originally. The various pens and pencils generally indicate when the comments were written - later comments use different pens from earlier ones - so at the very least it means that this comment was written much later than others, but it could mean that the characters met. No idea whether it does mean that yet, but it could do, which is nice.)

On the other hand, the nature of the plot and structure means that it's all very vague - nothing can be stated outright; the book they're annotating is quite slow and allegorical, and a lot of its supposed significance has to be pointed out in comments by the annotators because they've been researching the (fictional) circumstances around it. It's hard to get into the flow - I gave up my idea to read through the printed text in one pass, then go back to read the notes, because the notes are just so distracting and there are loads of them on each page. It's like being interrupted all the time, and it stops me getting deeply involved in either the story in the book - which doesn't seem that involving anyway - or the "real life" story, which is potentially better but is being revealed very slowly in oblique hints only. Plus I still feel I need to make a note every time we find out something significant, because sometimes referring back to my notes is the only way I can remember who's who; otherwise I'd be flicking backwards and forwards the whole time to work out what's going on as well.

So overall, this is still proving harder to read than either Pepys or Dickens... who I've never found hard, to be fair.

I've only finished four volumes from my shelf so far this year - all the Earthsea novels were in a single volume - and I've bought two, so the shelf is going down very slowly. Once I've got S out of the way (or put it aside for a while) things should speed up. I've not broken my New Year's resolution by buying those two books, because I was spending the book token I got for Christmas, and I put in an exemption for that. Also they're both sequels or parts of series I've already read.
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  #808  
Old 07 March 2017, 05:57 PM
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DawnStorm DawnStorm is offline
 
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Mister Ed

Currently reading a bio (?) of the Byerley Turk, one of the foundation sires of the breed we call Thoroughbreds. I'm not sure how true the first part of the story is, I've been learning a lot about Turkish horse breeds, the Ottoman Empire, and the Ottoman presence in the Balkans.
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  #809  
Old 02 April 2017, 01:31 PM
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Books that I read in March and haven't already mentioned:

11.22.63 by Stephen King. Very good - this has jumped up there with It as one of my favourites of his. It has a good It reference in the middle, as well. One criticism might be that too long was spent on the main character making a life for himself in the early sixties, and less on the more science-fiction / fantasy aspect of the time travel alternate worlds - which could have made a very interesting, twisty story in its own right - but if he'd done that, it would be a different book, and the depth that his life in the 1960s adds was necessary for the story he actually told. I still wouldn't mind reading an alternative version with different emphasis, though.

The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter. Also great, as is pretty much everything I've read by her. I had thought that this was one of her last pieces that I hadn't read, but she wrote more novels than I realised - I've still four more of her less-well-known ones to go. I've read Burning Your Boats, which includes all her short story collections. So I still have others to look forward to - and Nights At The Circus on my pile to re-read, which I think is still my favourite so far.

Blow Your House Down by Pat Barker, about sex workers in a northern town who are being preyed upon by a serial killer. This was brilliant as well - a lot more blunt, bleak and gritty than I remember from her other works that I've read (The Regeneration Trilogy and Another World, all around the time they came out, which would have been at least eighteen years ago). But very human. Again, I will look out more of hers when my book-buying ban expires.

The last two of those are both very short, so that's not as many as it looks. I realised I've inadvertently bought more books by changing my subscription to The Guardian to a level which means they send me four non-fiction books of their choosing per year, but I haven't received any of those yet, so I've so far removed a net five books (volumes) from the to-read shelf, which is still very slow progress. I'm not going to get through the whole shelf this year, I don't think.

Doing better than usual on books by women this year. I've finished eight books by women (Rose Tremain, Ursula Le Guin, Shirley Jackson, Angela Carter and Pat Barker) and only two by a man (Stephen King). Two of the women (Tremain and Le Guin) I'd not read before, either.
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  #810  
Old 03 April 2017, 01:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
11.22.63 by Stephen King.
Enjoyed this one, but thought the ending "twist" with the return to the present day timeline was a bit trite (and has been done to death in time travel stories in just about every medium imaginable, including Saturday morning cartoons). To me, this was largely King's love letter to the teaching profession (he trained as, and was for a short while a high school English teacher before making it as a writer). Like you, I really enjoyed the tie-ins with It.

I'm currently reading a short story collection titled "The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories," edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. This has to be one of the best anthologies I've seen - 110 (!) stories, and so far they've all been terrific. They're arranged more or less chronologically, and include authors ranging from Franz Kafka and H.P. Lovecraft to Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, and Neil Gaiman. I particularly enjoy the translations of several foreign works that I've not seen elsewhere in American anthologies.
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  #811  
Old 30 April 2017, 12:27 PM
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I finally finished S, and the rest of Sketches by Boz. (There are no great revelations in S, the final code is inane, and in fact the whole presumed plot - taken at "face value", whatever that means in a book this convoluted - makes no real sense anyway, so aspects of it were disappointing. However - spoilers ahead! - reading even further between the lines I decided that the most sensible reading is that Eric is a fantasist, he himself burned down the barn and wrote symbols about the place to deliberately drag Jen further into his paranoid world, whatever intrigues were going on between the writers in the mid-20th century were more or less irrelevant, and now Jen's where Eric wants her and their relationship is falling apart in their garret in Amsterdam. The last part about the relationship falling apart is implied in the text at least, and I was happy to see that I was right about the significance of them both using the same black pen for the last lot of comments).

So in April I read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, which was really good - I found it the most memorable of hers, certainly, as although I know I liked her others I can't remember a lot about them, whereas this is quite gripping in parts.

I also read Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All by Jonas Jonasson (trans. Rachel Wilson-Broyles), which is light fun, and worked better than I'd thought it might from the beginning. I'd thought it might get heavy-handed about religion, but it didn't.

I'm now reading 1914 - 1918: The History of the First World War by David Stephenson, which is very dense and will probably take months, although I've got past the first chapter on the build-up now, so the war itself might be easier to read. Also just started Sebastian Faulks by Charlotte Gray... sorry, I mean Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks, which looks like being good. And Pepys's diary, ongoing.

The trouble with the state of my to-read shelf, is that it's mostly been the longer and heavier-looking books I buy that have accumulated over time, since inevitably I read the lighter ones more quickly. So I'm getting through them at a slower-than-average rate when I compare with my rate in other years as well...
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