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  #781  
Old 16 January 2017, 11:46 PM
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Just read three books by Jonathan L. Howard: the first two novels in the "Johannes Cabal" series (Johannes Cabal the Necromancer, and Johannes Cabal the Detective), and the stand-alone novel Carter & Lovecraft.

Very, very enjoyable; would strongly recommend the Cabal books for fans of mildly humorous supernatural adventures, and Carter & Lovecraft to any fan of the Lovecraftian milieu.

The RI library network does not have any other books by him, so it's off to buy e-copies of the rest (and possibly of the ones I've already read). I really wish I had the space in my house to keep physical books, but we're overloaded. E-books it must be.
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  #782  
Old 22 January 2017, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
I'd not heard of Joe Hill and thought, "Does that mean he's Stephen King's son?". So I looked him up and the first thing I saw on the results page is a photo of him on a panel discussion... Yep, definitely Stephen King's son!
Yeah, his writing is very strongly influenced by his dad. His identity was a very poorly kept secret when Heart-Shaped Box came out. Not surprising, because even if I hadn't already known he was King's son, I would have at least noticed the similarities in writing style.
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  #783  
Old 22 January 2017, 08:27 PM
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Just started Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Although I'm enjoying it, the book is physically difficult to read, because it's such a thick doorstopper of a volume - I have to be careful not to doze off while reading in bed, or I'm liable to break my nose.
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  #784  
Old 25 January 2017, 03:06 PM
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Recently finished: Gone Girl. A bit hard to get into at first, but un-put-downable as it went on. However, I think the two main characters are thoroughly unlikable.

Currently reading: How Scots Invented the Modern World. Very interesting.
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  #785  
Old 25 January 2017, 03:09 PM
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Some suggested reading for the upcoming years here in the US...

1984
Animal Farm
Fahrenheit 451
The Handmaid's Tale
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  #786  
Old 25 January 2017, 03:24 PM
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I needed an audio book but a lot of what I wanted was checked out from my local library. Almost blindly I chose The Sharing Knife series by Lois McMaster Bujold and it turned out to be exactly what I needed. It feels like so many fantasy tropes are turned on their head. The first book was dismissed in some reviews I've read as a mere romance but everything that happens has some significance in the later books. I love that the setting isn't medievalish Europe but something resembling the midwest US. The chosen family surrounding the main characters in later books is heartening.
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  #787  
Old 26 January 2017, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by TallGeekyGirl View Post
Some suggested reading for the upcoming years here in the US...
... And an alternative list, although it overlaps with yours:

https://www.theguardian.com/commenti...umps-us-orwell

I've read everything on yours (although not all recently) but The Guardian one has a couple of interesting-looking ones I've not read (the last two).
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  #788  
Old 26 January 2017, 01:05 PM
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Currently reading: How Scots Invented the Modern World. Very interesting.
I was just given this and haven't had a chance to start it yet. I'd be interested to know what you think of it when you finish it.
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  #789  
Old 07 February 2017, 07:49 PM
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Apart from previous unfinished books (S, still, and Pepys's diary), during January and the start of February I've been reading through the Earthsea series by Ursula K Le Guin. I've got an omnibus edition of "Earthsea: The First Four Books", and I've read A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore and am currently part-way through Tehanu.

I can't remember why I never read these before, but they're really good. I think it was because back in the 1980s, during my first fantasy phase when I'd naturally have read these, I kind of vaguely associated Ursula Le Guin with Anne McCaffrey (perhaps just because they were the only two female fantasy writers I'd heard of in those days, when it was all quite male-dominated) and I'd read one of McCaffrey's books and not liked it - as far as I remember, I found it very stuffy and uptight, and I kept thinking, "This is about dragons! Why isn't it fun?"

But if I'd tried these back then, I'm fairly sure I'd have loved them. Le Guin's a much better writer than I'd expected, as well as a good storyteller. I can't say I see as much of the J K Rowling side of things as I'd been expecting, given how people tend to talk as though Rowling ripped off her idea of a wizarding school (people are stupid like that). That was a much smaller part, even of the first book, than I'd been led to believe, and not really all that much like Hogwarts. And Le Guin is a better writer than Rowling in my opinion. I see a far more obvious influence on Terry Pratchett - although unlike Rowling, I doubt he would ever have denied that.

Anyway, I thought they were great, and should have read them a long time ago.
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  #790  
Old 07 February 2017, 08:18 PM
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Richard W, I'm with you on Earthsea. The edition of the books I first saw, many years ago, compared them on the cover blurbs to Tolkien; and my reaction was along the lines of 'humph! must be some other piece of junk fantasy they're comparing to Tolkien because he's popular and they think all fantasy is like Tolkien!'

Eventually I picked them up anyway, and I could have strangled the blurb writer, or maybe myself, for putting me off for so long. They are most definitely not Tolkien (and Hogwarts is most definitely not Roke Island. I can't imagine how there could two more different takes on training wizards than those two examples.)

I did have a problem, for years, with one line in the first book. But then LeGuin wrote Tehanu. I'm glad your edition incorporates it.
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  #791  
Old 07 February 2017, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
I did have a problem, for years, with one line in the first book. But then LeGuin wrote Tehanu. I'm glad your edition incorporates it.
I don't know exactly which line you mean, but I did think that in the first book she was surprisingly dismissive of the abilities of women, for a female writer. And Tehanu so far is shaping up to be exactly about the abilities of women, in opposition to men who don't value them. So I see what you're getting at. (Also, Tehanu is one that so far could be a very direct influence on Pratchett, specifically Equal Rites. I've not got far enough to see whether I'm right about that yet.)

(eta) I can't possibly be right about that, because Tehanu was published in 1990 and Equal Rites was published in 1987. I almost did what the sillier JK Rowling fans do...
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  #792  
Old 07 February 2017, 11:21 PM
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I've continued down the Lois McMaster Bujold rabbit hole and am now reading the Vorkosigan saga. I can't believe I am on listening to my 8th book since the beginning of the year. It is maintaining my sanity. I don't think I've consumed this much fiction (not counting kid books) in the past two years.

Speaking of kid books. My 7 year old daughter and I read Mr and Mrs Bunny: Detectives Extraordinaire and Mr and Mrs Bunny: Almost Royalty by Polly Horvath. They are really funny and madcap and funny. I would be reading to my daughter and then my husband would listen in and laugh. It was a joy to read aloud (not all books flow right).
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  #793  
Old 08 February 2017, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
I don't know exactly which line you mean
"Weak as women's magic, wicked as women's magic."

She specifically refers back to that line in Tehanu, if I remember correctly. It must have been bugging her too.

Aud 1, I was wandering by a bookshelf on the way to the bathtub a couple of nights ago, looking for something to read in the tub. I seem now to be re-reading the Vorkosigan books, rather out of order.
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  #794  
Old 12 February 2017, 02:55 AM
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I finished Ancillary Sword awhile back and really enjoyed it. It avoided most of the pitfalls of middle-book syndrome. It’s clearly a bridge book between Justice and Mercy, but there was still enough happening to keep me interested throughout. I like the slow reveal throughout these books showing how Radch society works. In Ancillary Justice, I saw hints of influence from the Roman Republic/Empire with the patronage system, the casting for omens, and the tolerant attitude for other religions except for the dedicated monotheistic Valskaayan faith. This book emphasized how similar some of the Radchaai are to certain 19th century European colonialists, with a bit of an aftertaste of American slave plantation thrown in. I mean, technically, the plantation workers are citizens, but they may as well be slaves or at least serfs. Their world is conquered, they're put into deep-freeze and deported to a completely different planet, where they're then put into forced labor. Oh, and they’re expected to be grateful for all of this civilizing. It’s enough to make one hope for the alien Presger to show up and deliver justice because the Radchaai version of justice is broken. After the casus belli in Sword, I'd be surprised if the Presger didn't appear in the last book. I’m looking forward to Ancillary Mercy. Leckie has so many wildcards, it’s going to be interesting to see how she resolves them.

I then read through M. R. Carey’s The Girl with All the Gifts. Carey might have the most poorly disguised pen name ever, since he’s Mike Carey, writer for various DC/Marvel comics including The Unwritten (which I liked) as well as the Felix Castor urban fantasy books. So apparently Girl with All the Gifts shares some strong similarities to the Playstation game The Last of Us, which I haven’t played. Without giving away too much, it’s a post-apocalyptic horror book where a mutant Ophiocordyceps makes a huge species jump into humans. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the ending. It’s a downer and although it made sense, I'm still uncomfortable since the collateral damage would be massive. [spoilers] Sorry, everybody not born as a symbiote. Looks like you’re all going to get a hideous brain death where you're turned into cannibalistic monster-puppets. Also, I’m just a bit disappointed that the fate of the other kids at Base Hotel Echo wasn't revealed. I assume that they survived the raid and are still under lockdown at the base. I mean, isn’t anybody going to go back to make sure they’re OK? [/spoilers]. I have no idea how Last of Us ended, but I’m guessing probably not like this. Carey's got a prequel book coming out in late spring. I'm interested to see how he handles the plot given that readers already have a rough idea of what must have happened to the Rosalind Franklin. Given the advance first chapter that I read, I can see a possible (IMO probable) direct link to Girl with All the Gifts.

When I started Carey’s book, I tried to figure out what book to put next in my queue and decided on Lois McMaster Bujold’s Barrayar. So apparently there are three of us who are reading through the Vorkosiverse. I’m mostly caught up on the Vorkosigan series with just a couple holes here and there. I wish the covers on these books were better. They so often get whacked with the Baen uglystick and I’m not a fan of the abstract Amazon covers, either. I will say, though the Civil Campaign cover is pretty hilarious. [really off-tangent aside] The bug needs the Vorkosigan livery design and instead of roses, they should use toilet plungers. Red romantic toilet plungers guaranteed to clear up those pesky bug butter clogs.

Last edited by Cure the Blues; 12 February 2017 at 03:04 AM.
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  #795  
Old 13 February 2017, 02:13 PM
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Quote:
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... people tend to talk as though Rowling ripped off her idea of a wizarding school (people are stupid like that).
I thought Rowling was supposed to have ripped off the idea from Diana Wynne Jones' Chestomanci novels.

Of course, that would imply that DWJ ripped off Le Guin.

My favorite of the Earthsea Trilogy was always the middle one (Tombs of Atuan). Of course, that would be the one I appear to have lost. I'm considering seeing if I can get it electronically.

Aud and Thorny, have you read Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen yet?

Seaboe
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  #796  
Old 14 February 2017, 12:08 AM
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I just finished The Wild Trees, by Richard Preston, and am about to start Panic in Level 4: Cannibals, Killer Viruses, and Other Journeys to the Edge of Science. Obviously, I cannot yet comment about the latter volume, but the former was a very interesting and engaging book about the world's largest trees and the people who discovered them, learned how to climb them without harming them, and their discoveries of previously unknown, super-diverse ecosystems in the upper reaches of those trees. Fascinating.
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  #797  
Old 14 February 2017, 02:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Seaboe Muffinchucker View Post
I thought Rowling was supposed to have ripped off the idea from Diana Wynne Jones' Chestomanci novels.

Of course, that would imply that DWJ ripped off Le Guin.
The general idea of there being some sort of school for wizards strikes me as one multiple people could have easily come up with independently.

I haven't read the Chestomanci books; but again LeGuin's and Rowling's takes on it are so wildly different that I don't think any influence has to be assumed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seaboe Muffinchucker View Post
Aud and Thorny, have you read Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen yet?
No, I didn't even know it existed!

And I see it's out in paperback. Will have to do something about that before too long.
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  #798  
Old 14 February 2017, 02:10 PM
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Thorny, I wasn't very clear, but my point about Rowling is that there are no original ideas, only original treatments. I almost put that in the post, but decided not to. Hogwarts has many venerable predecessors; to claim the author "stole" the idea from someone else shows a lack of understanding of the creative process, IMO.

Seaboe
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  #799  
Old 14 February 2017, 04:31 PM
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Thorny, I wasn't very clear, but my point about Rowling is that there are no original ideas, only original treatments.
Ah. Yes; I'd at least come very close to agreeing with that. There must have been some original ideas once; and we may not have entirely run out of them. But in at least most cases, the question is indeed whether the author's done anything newly interesting with an old idea.
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  #800  
Old 15 February 2017, 05:26 PM
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Just started Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology

His prose floweth full well and yeah, verily methinks the whole libram will be enjoyable...




In fact, it is very plainly written, to make it easily understandable, while still enjoyable.
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