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Member: Cynara

CollectionsShakespeare (21), Michael Inevitables (14), Michael should read (13), Teaching (34), Unavailable at library (66), MJM (502), Library List (39), Your library (1,002), Wishlist (28), Currently reading (2), To read (13), Read but unowned (590), All collections (2,222)

Reviews186 reviews

Tagsfiction (1,036), MJM (560), 20th century (556), Dewey 800 (502), fantasy (354), science fiction (291), England (229), America (225), graphic novel (199), 21st century (191) — see all tags

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Recommendations19 recommendations

About my libraryBooks are tagged & rated using my own eccentric non-system. SF is tagged with century of publication, not setting; as for historical fiction, I'm not consistent, but generally I tag with year of setting.

I don't try to describe each book in tags, just enter information that helps me make interesting connections between books. After all, you don't know how many books on pig husbandry you have until you check.

Enjoy, fellow-readers!

Groups75 Books Challenge for 2011, 75 Books Challenge for 2012, 75 Books Challenge for 2013, 75 Books Challenge for 2014, Ancient Egypt, Ancient History, Graphic Novels!, History: On learning from and writing history, Mythology, The Graphic Novel/Comics Book Club

Favorite authorsRobertson Davies, Warren Ellis, Jonathan L. Howard, Alan Moore, Louise Penny, Elizabeth Peters, Kurt Vonnegut, P. G. Wodehouse (Shared favorites)


Favorite bookstoresBMV (Annex), Chapters - World's Biggest Book Store, Nicholas Hoare, The Bob Miller Book Room, University of Toronto Bookstore

Favorite librariesUniversity of Toronto - Robarts Library


Also onYelp

Membership LibraryThing Early Reviewers/Member Giveaway

LocationToronto, Ontario, Canada

Account typepublic, lifetime

URLs /profile/Cynara (profile)
/catalog/Cynara (library)

Member sinceSep 20, 2007

Currently readingCourtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens by James Davidson
Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was by Barry Hughart

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I noticed that today is your 7th Thingaversary! I wish I could celebrate properly by writing a sonnet for you, but I'm afraid that's beyond my reach. But I wish you many more years of happy Thinging!
I guess time has borne that assessment out--I see it's been a couple years since the last Fables I reviewed, and I have little if any desire to go back for more. Alan Moore, of course, is a perennial inspiration.

Hey, you seem to know a lot of comics and SFstuff--do you have any recommendations for, like, REALLY GOOD comic books (or, what the hell, SF books) I might not have read before? They don't have to be in serial format or about superheroes or anything--I just find that I've reached that unhappy and jaded age where I've read most of what is widely recognized as amazing, and most of my friends who might have ideas have no quality control, and most of what I pick up at random bores me. Though you might have a thought.
Aw, thanks, buddy! I have flipped through some of your reviews as well and have to thank you for at least three things:

1) reminding me how craptastic Eragon was;

2) warning me about that Howard's End is on the Landing, because I would have definitely picked something like that up if I'd seen it and it would have enraged me;

3) teaching me about Smith. The best kid's books are the best books.

Fair weather!
Hello! I just wanted to thank you for your reviews of the Fleet of Worlds series. So... on the whole, would you recommend them? How much of an overlap is there with his Known Space series? It sounded like one of the books was mostly copied from Crashlander, which was a collection of Beowulf Schaefer (sp) stories from other books.

Just out of curiosity, why do you have two separate authors, Niven and Larry Niven?

Thanks again,
Thanks--I'm glad you enjoyed my review & feel the same way about the book! I'm starting to think that another book will be a long time coming, though...hopefully he'll pick that back up again soon. :-)
Hi, Cynara! I am definitely still looking for a Sonnets tutor. Poetry in general is something I like but just have no experience with reading in a serious way. I hadn't planned on reading it at any particular time during the year. Is there a time period that works particularly well for you in terms of time and availability?
I hope you enjoy the Pride and Prejudice book - I really liked her continuation of the Darcy and Elizabeth characters. I'd love to hear what you think of the Aaronovitch book - it's been on my wishlist for a while and I've never gotten around to reading it although I've heard great things about it.

Thank you for being my Secret Santa this year. You made a good selection that is definitely something I would enjoy. I am a sequential artist and have a huge library of graphic novels that would unfortunately overwhelm my library thing page. I do already have the book you selected, but you definitely had the right idea. Thank you for the thought, and I hope your holidays were cheerful and satisfying.
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara, in my fashion.

Always loved that line.

Although I may not be in complete, or even majority, agreement with your review re: "Howard's End Is on the Landing", I certainly admire it as one of the best, most insightful, funniest reviews I've read in months. Three cheers and happy reading to you, Cynara.

BTW, love your LT name.

I hope you let me know what you think of Dragons once you finish it! :)
Hi Cynara, thanks for your note. I see you're reading George RR Martin - I really loved his books when I began them a few years ago. I saw the other day that A Dance with Dragons is finally out - exciting! But I need a huge block of time to read them all again before beginning on the new one.

I'm greatly looking forward to the Deptford books, but I'm going to try to be strong, and space RD out a bit. I don't want to swallow them all whole and then suddenly realise I'll never be able to read another RD for the first time again!

I'm glad your liked my remarks on The Hobbit. I'm following the intermittant postings on the films' Facebook page, and will be really interested to find out if the tone of both films mirrors the book or whether the addition of extra material will make it more like the LOTR films.

You're right, I did enjoy the Pellinor series very much and hope if you manage all four titles you won't find them a disappointment as I know a lot of LT reviewers did. For myself I feel that fiction has to work on several levels, storytelling and characterisation primarily but also, for example, in the consistent creation of a world (whether our own or fantasy); on this basis Pellinor works quite well, I think.

You say you're also intrigued by The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles; it's quite readable, if you're at least familiar with some of the material, but maybe less so if not. It's some time since I read it (my review is from my memories of it a decade ago) and may give it another shot; interesting to see if such overviews stand the test of time when our view of the past is constantly being revised in the light of subsequent research (such as in archaeology).

Yes, do try Earthsea! It's quite enlightening to note Le Guin's changing perpectives in the later titles (from Tehanu onwards) and to realise she wouldn't have written the original trilogy in quite the same way were she writing now.

"I find this aspect of LT glorious and overwhelming; so many books, and so many people giving me compelling reasons to read them all!" I totally agree, especially when there are thoughtful and fully weighed reviews such as yours to enthuse the reader!

Hello Cynara
Thanks for replying and for drawing my attention to your fascinating thread--enjoyed what I've read so far!
As regards the Abhorsen trilogy, I think your remarks spot on: good worldbuilding but rather less in the way of character development. The series was uniformly bleak with no space for humour, and I got a little fed-up (literally) with the references to the metallic taste of Free Magic, but I've read them twice now, and will no doubt give them a third go for the purposes of a review.
In the meantime I'll check out your other reviews while anticipating some stimulating crits!
Enjoyed your review of Mortal Engines, though slightly confused by your misnaming of the author (Hunt for Reeve?). I agree that Hester is the real "hero" of Mortal Engines; like all flawed heroes she evinces sympathy for her human failings and, as you point out, for the sacrifices she makes: her mark of Cain, her scar, is similar to those other sacrifices made by young protagonists like Will in The Subtle Knife and Maerad in the Pellinor series.
Sorry, this was going to be a short congratulatory note, not an essay! Enjoying dipping into some of your other reviews and shall definitely look out for future ones.
Chris (ed.pendragon)
I see there's a new one out in September, which is cause for celebration. But... pirates, Mary? Really?

Oh, did you know it's on Early Reviewers on LibraryThing?

I've already requested a copy. Guess I better start reading the other Russells...
I think that after King got Holmes and Russell together at the end of "Regiment" she lost the narrative direction of the series for a bit. I'm not even as fond of "A Letter of Mary" as I am of the earlier and later books.

A Letter of Mary is actually my favorite to date. Possibly early imprinting, because it was my first Russell book, but with A Monstrous Regiment of Woman I thought compared to Apprentice and Letter there wasn't much Holmes, and I missed him.

And Apprentice? I only read it years later, when I was reminded of the series when I saw the title on "The Ultimate Reading List" I'm reading through, which caused my reread of the others. On one had, I adored it, all the more because it stood out among a bunch of mystery titles I was reading through that, despite being recommended as best of the genre, was less than stellar. On the other hand, Apprentice had for me two jarring notes. One is when she slaps her aunt. I began to think that maybe her aunt wasn't all so much at fault, and I liked Mary less for it. The other was the way King handled Watson. Watson is far from a bumbling idiot. He's merely bright compared to Holmes genius, but the way King portrayed "Uncle John" got on my nerves. He was notable for his absence in Letter and I thought the book stronger for it.

I still adored Apprentice mind you and gave it full marks. It was a delight to read.
I agree about 'The Moor'; take heart. "O Jerusalem" is practically as good as the first book, and subsequent books are excellent.

I'm so glad to know you think so. I haven't tried the later Russell books as of yet, and after The Moor, I was afraid King might have jumped the shark.
I'm not a huge Christie fan in general (with the possible exception of Poirot), but that book was a favourite of mine.

I personally find her rather hit or miss. A few novels such as Death Comes As the End are incredibly good, you remember details decades after first reading them. A good number are entertaining but quickly fade from mind and, a few so mediocre you wonder why they're in print.

Did you know it's based on a series of real letters from Hekanakht, an ancient Egyptian businessman, to his family?

She says so in the opening author's note, but until you linked me, I had never read the actual letters. They're interesting with the suggestions of intrigue in the household. I thought the family in Death Comes as the End felt more...real somehow than many a British family Christie depicted.
is the uncommon reader any good?
Thanks, glad you're enjoying them. It's been really interesting to re-read them myself, since I was a kid when I first did - well, I guess I'm still a kid to some degree, but my reading tastes have certainly developed.

I loved (and still love) every book in the series, but I recall being slightly put off by the way the second two shifted the focus somewhat to Theo and Wren rather than Tom and Hester. Although I haven't yet re-read the second two, I suspect I may find that this is outweighed by the much grander wartime scope that plays out in the background. I also recall the fourth book being somewhat badly paced around Tom and Wren's storyline, which I was very forgiving of at the time but which will probably be more noticeable now that I'm used to reading with a more critical, analytical mindset.

But at the end of the day they're wonderful, wonderful books and easily in my top ten favourites of all time.
Thank you for finding my library interesting. I wish I had read it all. I do hope to get to Fermor before I die --- I read some of his A Time to Keep Silence and then didn't finish it for some silly reason that I don't remember.
Anyway, I'm returning the favor and will come back to browse later.
Hmmm. Lots of interesting stuff in common: Margaret Laurence and Robertson Davies, no surprise there; mysteries!, fantasy, dual-language Martial, P.L. Fermor (whom I haven't really read), Wodehouse and Heyer, Restoration drama --- Nice to find somebody who shares my tastes.
You asked for some recommendations for ancient Mesopotamia which are both readable and scholarly. The following books are not scholarly if you mean break new ground by that term, but they are highly informative for students or informed lay-persons, and are written by recognized authorities in the field.

For a general historical background--"A History of the Ancient Near East, 2nd Ed." - van de Mieroop. Used in some college courses--I bought it at a local college. Well laid out, many maps, charts and kinglists, endnotes and good bibiliography. I think it an excellent introduction.

For a more cultural approach--"Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia" - Nemet-Nejat. Again, many citations and pretty good bibliography.

Also, "Life in Ancient Mesopotamia" - Snell. Extremely lucid and well documented--about 35% of the book consists of end notes, and a massive bibliography if you care to delve further into any particular topic. Actual text, otherwise, is about 160 highly informative pages.

I hope this is what you're looking for. Curly bearded men indeed!

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