Gilroy's 2017 slice of life and reading thread #2
This is a continuation of the topic Gilroy's 2017 slice of life and reading thread.
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So I'm making an attempt at year 2. First post or two will be the same, but I'm going to try something different. It's a more open thread, so I can post about things during the year a bit more. Plus each book will have a post, followed by a month summary of all reads. The posts about the books will update as I read. The notes also will go into the reviews. If books cross months, they don't get a new post for the new month...
Oh and goals (which may mean I fall on my reading face this year):
Total books to read: 45 -- 30 audio, 12 physical, 3 ebooks
Current Counts: 49-- 33 audio (3 duds), 12 physical (5 duds) , 3 ebooks (1 dud) (As of December 31)
The current reads:
Audio - Done for year
Travel fiction - Wards of Faerie by Terry Brooks
Home Fiction - Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher
Non-Fiction - 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey
(Work assigned - Not pressed to finish)
E-book - Time Machine by H G Wells
(Sadly I'm struggling with Time Machine, but refuse to quit reading it. But I've started a second ebook to ease some of the struggle.)
Fire & Ice by Patty Jansen
So now I offer a little weekend fun, since our local United Way decided to put on a Balloon Festival around us.
Only 5 hot air balloons, but still a good sight to behold. It was not without its first year difficulties. Hopefully they'll clean those up before next year.
Here's 8 of many photos I've taken. :) (Click on the photo to see more.)
Balloon festivals are so fun! We have one every year here in Bend. They take off in the mornings down the street from us and fly right over our house. This year my cats sat out on the patio and watched them as if they were birds. It was pretty funny. Did you guys do a night glow?
>3 catzteach: Well, they tried to do a night glow. But the logistics weren't in place, so we got two at one point, then one, then three, then none, then one, then... well, you get the point. They did manage to follow that folly with a very spectacular fireworks display.
We also ran into a problem. With the location being between DC and two other major military bases, they couldn't allow for just flying balloons. They had to keep them tethered and below a certain altitude. (Don't want to imagine an F-16 taking out a hot air balloon.)
I have one panorama in the folder with 4 of the 5 balloons we got. It was still a cool thing to attend.
Our local casino tried to do a balloon festival for several years. I think there was only one year the balloons were able to launch. The rest of the years, either rain or wind kept the balloons firmly moored and not inflated. They finally gave it up. Glad you got to see some launch, they are lovely.
Our Kind of Traitor by John le Carre
-- Maybe because this isn't one of my usual authors, but it's a slow start for my taste. Lots of set up. Very little motion.
-- Of note, if you're not paying attention, you won't realize that the first two chapters, at least, are an interview with government officials, so they are more Perry and Gail relating their adventure...
-- There's too many POV changes just in the first two chapters. While, yes, they are blocked to show a change, it's not made obvious until you get a thought line about who's in the lead. And it could be Gail, Perry, or one of the investigators. Very disconcerting.
-- This whole interview retelling thing is creating some difficulty in the reading. You think you're in the narrative, then they break to address each other or the detectives, then back, but now it's more interspersed in the paragraphs...
-- Yeah, I give up. The writing style just isn't for me.
Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman (Abridged)
-- A lot of what I'm hearing seems to be common sense, but then again, that seems lacking in the modern world.
-- I've finished this book and still have no clue what I think about it. It might be because this was abridged and I'm still trying to figure out what I missed.
The Secret Circle: Initiation by L J Smith
-- Picked this up to see if the writing was as bad as the WB TV series I tried to watch. So far... Definitely bad writing.
-- If this girl is supposed to be 16-17, why is she being written like she's 11-13?
-- Everyone is attractive to this main character. Not a single ugly person so far. I hate when they do this.
-- Okay, I officially declare this book a dud. So bad, so SO bad. *shudder* I'd swear the main character a guy based on the descriptions. Or maybe a closet lesbian. Either way, just horrid. Why did I push to the half way point again?
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
-- Okay, already a strike against it. Wil Wheaton is a reader.
-- The original strike might prove beneficial instead. The character Wheaton is reading is a cocky and arrogant bastard so the voice fits. Not sure I like how it started. Too much back story, not enough umph. I'm a little over 2 hours in and we are finally getting some movement, though I'm still trying to narrow down what the actual plot is...
-- Okay, I can correct this former statement, as things seem to start to resolve now. Still some threads hanging, but not nearly as bad as before.
-- Someone known to have killed people and created a mess and yet you want to claim that legacy? Are you nutz Doctor?
-- There are times where, I don't know if it's the text or the narrator, but the way the She said or He said comes up it almost sign posts the dialogue instead of fading into the background. That's a touch of bad to the good.
-- Finished this and am working through details in my head to figure out how to review it... Interesting twist ending, though a good reason for the main character to be so sure of certain things throughout the book.
Dud Books - Books I attempted to read and gave up:
Holy Fire by Bruce Sterling
Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb
Seeker by William Nicholson
>9 gilroy: The Secret Circle:Initiation by L J Smith
The Cat Who Wasn't There by Lilian Jackson Braun
Our Kind of Traitor by John LeCarr
Imager by L E Modesitt
Note on how I designate a dud book:
Unless the book is so horrid of prose/story/cliché that I can't get past the first few pages, I feel the need to give the author at least 50 pages or a third of the book, which ever I can make. This allows for initial bad openings and characters to grow enough. At that point, if I continue to struggle and can't get into the book, I'm done and it becomes a dud.
List of Dud books to date: https://www.librarything.com/catalog.php?view=gilroy&tag=started+couldn%27t+finish&collection=-1&collection=-1&shelf=list&sort=dateread&sort=datereadREV
>12 Sakerfalcon: I've honestly adjusted my criteria the last 18 months or so, being more willing to give up on a book, when in the past, I'd force myself to finish. I've created a tag just for Started but couldn't finish that holds 21 books now.
Balloons look super as they drift overhead.
A good place to start with Le Carré is The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. It was his third book and it was the one that got him noticed. In my opinion it is the spy book that every other spy book has to measure up to. It was written in the sixties and it contains all the critical elements of a spy story. The technology is of course much different from today but technology is only a tool or something to steal and should seldom, if ever, be the main element of a spy story. The people, how they behave in the spy world and how they are affected by what they are doing or what is done to them, and what surrounds them are key to a brilliant tale of espionage.
>15 pgmcc: This was a book that was pushed into my hands with the admonition of "You'll love this one!" and I wasn't allowed to say no. It's sat for two years. The story telling style for this one is... choppy. But that may be me being American and this being an British book. :)
I should make a list of unfinished books. I am already vocal about the ones I hate, and they are not rare.
So I saw that Dan Brown has another Robert Langdon book out. Angels and Demons was decent. Da Vinci Code was okay. The Lost Symbol was Horrid. I've not braved Inferno...
>20 gilroy: I have a semi-new co-worker, one of the few co-workers I’ve ever had who actually likes to read, who really, really wants me to try a Dan Brown book. I’ll probably humor her sooner or later, although I’m not terribly enthusiastic. I'm really not familiar with him, so I don't have any real reason to avoid him, it's just that he wasn't on my radar and there are so many other things I want to read. :)
>21 YouKneeK: Dan Brown was a creative writing instructor. His books follow all the textbook guidelines for page turners. His stories romp along at a good pace with cliffhangers at the end of every chapter. His stories are ok adventure novels but his "facts" are not reliable and I found several "fact" problems in The Da Vinci Code and his description of CERN in Angels and Demons is preposterous. His books are easy summer holiday reads but do not expect anything challenging in them. They are a bit of fun and do not let the facts get in the way of a story.
His fame was primarily driven by people hearing that The Da Vinci Code talked about things that some members of the Catholic Church objected to. They protested about it and refused to read the book. They made a mountain out of a mole hill and Mr. Brown managed to capitalise on the row that ensued. I say, "Fair dues to him! Take of advantage of it while you can."
By the way, once you've read one of his books you have pretty much read them all.
If you do read one of his books it will be quick and quite painless unless you have OCD about facts having to be right.
>22 pgmcc: Thanks, it helps a lot to know what to expect! Maybe I’ll fit one in around the holidays. I’m not too often riled up by bad facts, unless it’s a particular area of specialty. Flaws in basic logic and reasoning are more likely to irritate me.
>23 YouKneeK: I was reading and enjoying The Da Vinci Code when our hero looked out a window from a particular side of a building I know. He spotted one landmark, then a second landmark. Both of these would be visible from a window on this side of the building. Then he spotted a third landmark that should have been over his right shoulder. I just burst out laughing.
I share pgmcc’s view, although I’m a little more strident, so I’m glad he gave the accounting. My favorite review of The Da Vinci Code comes from Anthony Lane in the New Yorker, albeit in a review of the film. But it might apply equally to the book. The concluding lines:
“The Catholic Church has nothing to fear from this film. It is not just tripe. It is self-evident, spirit-lowering tripe that could not conceivably cause a single member of the flock to turn aside from the faith. Meanwhile, art historians can sleep easy once more, while fans of the book, which has finally been exposed for the pompous fraud that it is, will be shaken from their trance. In fact, the sole beneficiaries of the entire fiasco will be members of Opus Dei, some of whom practice mortification of the flesh. From now on, such penance will be simple—no lashings, no spiked cuff around the thigh. Just the price of a movie ticket, and two and a half hours of pain.”
>25 stellarexplorer: As usual, the books were better than the movie, but that's not saying much with regard to the Dan Brown books. For some reason, Da Vinci Code got more negative press than Angels and Demons did, even though they both attack the church.
Lost Symbol just got lost in itself. Even though I know DC and where everything he listed was supposed to be, the overbearing language and horrid concepts just ... *shudder*
>11 gilroy: Never be afraid to give up on a book that isn't pleasing you! I do it all of the time. (Although on occasion I will skim to the end if someone gifted or loaned it to me because they thought so highly of it.)
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Read by Dan Stevens
-- Interesting so far, though I don't like how the audio book's narrator drops his voice so you can barely hear him for certain characters.
-- Things written in French is a nice touch, but without the actual text in front of me, hard to know what was said. :(
-- I think I understand some of the draw of this series. This is a French Sherlock Holmes, with the accorded twists and turns.
-- My thinking keeps going back to two people who haven't been investigated for the crime. Why? Because they have free rein of the train and they've been with the main character the entire time. Even so much that they are offering thoughts to who did it.
-- Wow. Interesting final result of this mystery. Connections that got drawn out through the book I'd never have seen without them being spelled out.
Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
Read by Bronson Pinchot
-- So I go for another older mystery. So far I'm trying to decide who gets killed, who's the killer, and whether we've met any of them yet. I'm in the first chapter.
-- Difficulty: My sympathy is for a character we've not actually met yet: Ann. Guy and Bruno both are rather self absorbed and whiny.
-- Bruno is a sociopath and is driving Guy insane. This details about a third of the book. It doesn't give away the plot though...
-- Labeling Bruno a sociopath might have been me being nice. Can't stand that character. He's a momma's boy and a person who never resolved his Oedipus complex. Guy seems rather wishy washy and easily manipulated. Can't stand him either. Feel sorry for Ann still. Gerard is an arse. Don't care for him either.
-- The ending actually seemed predictable to me. Don't know why.
Fire & Ice by Patty Jansen
-- I can already spot editing errors from the beginning. Questionable word choices as well. Somehow, not sure this is going to trend well.
-- What the ...?
-- Oh look. Endorsed by Kevin J Anderson. That explains the bad writing there...
-- The entire story to me has been meh so far. The writing could use another pass of editing. Some clunky sentences. Again I go with, no compelling characters for me. Annoying, but not compelling. Most feel too stiff.
-- Most of chapter 5 could have been dropped. I think it was done to bring sympathy to the character, but it doesn't.
NPCs by Drew Hayes
-- I'm liking this so far. The humor is great. The newbie player makes for an extra twist to the early introduction.
-- The shift in the expectations for what the characters are, instead of the expected definitely adds some interesting twists to the book.
-- Not sure I like the interruptions of the actual live action game with the NPC stories, though I hear former fellow players in each character there. And of course the power hungry nitwits ignoring the voice of reason.
-- We've entered the dungeon, seen the first CRITICAL failure. Oh yeah, that GM knows. I'll leave that thought as is. :)
-- I'm finding it interesting the twists and turns that have come about because these NPCs chose to do what they did. And how the author is poking fun at the GM and other players.
-- This has been so fun, I'm half tempted to grab the next book in the series and just read them all back to back.
Wards of Faerie by Terry Brooks
-- This has been a little of a slow start for me. I suspect, since I've not read all the other Shannara books, that this one is going to take a bit to move for me. I have the gist of the basic plot and the forward thread, I think. But so far, no character has snagged me into liking them.
-- What is it with authors starting so early when building the story? I feel like the first three chapters could condense into one, then start moving forward. Grumph.
The Veil by Chloe Neill
Read by Amy Landon
-- I realize this wasn't the author's intent, but I swear some of what she's writing is a mirror to modern times, regarding modern race relations. With the way the news goes, it's hard to keep from letting part of this story bleed into that political bent.
-- Having never been to New Orleans, I'm learning as I listen, so I hope the author is accurate. Would hate to find she has her streets screwed up.
-- She's offering a unique view of faeries, goblins, and other mythical creatures, as well as people who sense them and such. Interesting.
-- I forget that this is a romance writer who's writing urban fiction sometimes. All her characters are attractive. Not a fugly one in the bunch.
-- The narrator doesn't really alter her voice much when it comes to different characters. All the men sound the same, all the women sound the same. Makes it a little harder to follow. Especially when multiple of the same gender are talking back to back.
-- Oh look,
-- Again, as I listen, I'm wondering what direction the main character leans. After all, she asked her best friend "Are you breaking up with me?" That seemed a weird question for a friend.
(Here's hoping I grabbed the right link...)
Remember back in September, I said I helped with a local TEDx event? Well, good news is the videos went up on YouTube today!
If I did this right, the above link SHOULD get you into the playlist for the nine talks we had. Quite a few good, inspirational talks. I want to do this again. I want more to happen in this little podunk area of Maryland. :)
Q-Squared by Peter David
Read by John de Lancie
-- It says this is unabridged, but I swear, at 3 hours, it feels like it's been edited down to fit a specific time frame.
-- The primary baddie in this book is definitely annoying. More annoying than Q. And that's saying something.
-- Interesting way to end it, not sure I like it.
-- They say an adaption, which to me says abridged, but the box says unabridged. So I'm confused...
>41 hfglen: By the sound of it, a correction is needed: you are owned by spoiled cats. So am I.
Imager by L E Modesitt
Read by William Dufris
-- Again, I might have killed the first five chapters, since they are back story and not necessary at this point. At the very least condensed the unnecessary details.
-- The audio narrator isn't that great for the book. Too many shifting voices for him to keep up.
-- When one gets 12 chapters into a book, unless you're reading Kevin J Anderson's drek, you expect some semblance of a plot to have materialized, even if a slow moving one. This has not happened yet.
-- The more I read this book, the more it feels like a "everyone else has a magic school book, so should I" type writing. It's a ton of backstory and how the magic works, so really should be notes for the plot and not book proper. Maybe another case of the editor seeing text, checking it off, and moving on...
-- At one third of a book, I'm done. This first third has been a combo of info dump and character study, but no discernible plot to speak of. Perhaps it is starting to form now, but this is moving slower than a glacier in winter. Any good editor should have hacked much of this first section off...
For date night last night, Fiancé and I went to see Murder on the Orient Express in theaters.
Very nice cinematography. Some scenes I might have blocked differently with the camera, but others were very telling, if you've read the scene.
Decent acting performances.
A few good quips and one liners, but they were few and far between.
Some tweaking to the storyline, reducing some character's screen time.
Overall, decent movie.
Daisy Ridley has expressive eyes. I'd missed it before in Star Wars, but they have a few close ups on her face here.
The moustache should have had credit as a character in and of itself.
I'd say a definite worth to see.
The Christmas Train by David Baldacci
Read by Tim Matheson
-- A train travel in December. I know it. And there is plot afoot already. This is my second Baldacci book. So far, I like the light feel and the good air. Maybe more details than should be given, though the character is noting some of these. And one screw up.
-- I'm thoroughly enjoying this book! I admit to being a train fan, so just hearing some of the things is bringing back some memories. Plus it's well written. And humor is laced with mystery, is laced with train lore.
-- I'm feeling like the
-- The final few twists were interesting, though I should have expected SOMETHING. Honestly, the reveals of who certain characters were at the very end made the rest of the book more interesting. I might want to reread it, now that I know the ending, just to see what I missed...
>43 gilroy: I actually liked that movie more than anticipated, but I have to ask for more information about the cinematography. (Even if you must use spoiler tags, please tell me which scenes in the book you're referring to.)
Oddly, as just a random observation, I was able to get past the mustache in the actual movement of the movie, but in the publicity stills, I thought it was fairly off-putting.
Well, let me think a little.
I wasn't thrilled with the overhead shot when they found the body (or the lack of view in the compartment until later) but it gave a sense of compressed space. Felt disappointed that they avoided the whole storyline about the open window.
Felt thankful for the reduction of screen time for Mrs. Hubbard.
I love trains, so the pans across it as it moved, even as it sat mired in the snow drift, thrilled me.
I'm sure I had others in mind but it's been over a week and the memory has faded behind wedding planning stresses again. :)
>47 gilroy: I am not well versed in cinematography, but I appreciated those things as well.
I bought a lovely green dress which has a retro style. I want so much to host a "Murder on the Orient Express" movie and drinks night in costume. I would have worn it to the movie, but it was very cold that night, and wearing furs is not a popular option anymore. Although I also have a lovely fur coat which belonged to an ancestor tucked away in a cedar chest. The fur coat is tucked away in the chest, not the ancestor.
The Hoarder in You by Robin Zasio
-- Every book on hoarding that I pick up seems to start with defining hoarding. Don't enough books have that already?
-- Finding it interesting, the discussion of Cognitive Distortion with regard to hoarding, especially when compared with normal habits.
-- Yes, hoarding is a spectrum, like all of humanity is a spectrum. We are not neat little boxes to be shoved in. So agree with that.
-- I like that she's breaking down clutter-keeper and hoarder. I also like that she presents a spectrum for both clutterers and hoarders.
Unf*ck Your Habitat by Rachel Hoffman
Read by Emily Woo Zeller
-- Interesting start to a book. Acknowledge that this isn't the old way of doing things and that everyone is responsible. And pick on men for being overbearing. I can get past that so far...
-- The lighthearted feel of the book, the playful way it's written, makes this an easy read. The narrator does well to stick with that light and playful feel as she reads.
>50 gilroy: this one sounds interesting. I feel like my house is super crowded right now and would love to “declutter,” but I also really like everything I have so maybe I just need to organize. Or learn that I’m a hoarder and just learn to let go of things.
>54 catzteach: The nice thing about that book is she breaks it down into two spectrums: A clutter spectrum and a Hoarder spectrum. If you're rate above a 5 on the clutter spectrum, you've started into the hoarder spectrum (if I remember it correctly.)
But they also acknowledge that everyone has a clutter problem and a possible chance of becoming a hoarder.
It was quite enlightening on how to fight my genetics as well as how to work through my own clutter.
>55 gilroy: it’s available at the library so I might pick it up when I’m there today.
For those curious, my final count for the year came out thus:
Total 49 books - 9 duds = 40 books for 2017
Physical Books - 13 - 5 duds = 8
Audio Books - 33 - 3 duds = 30
Ebooks - 3 - 1 dud = 2
Once I build my yearly book poll, I'll update this with the link.
I like that idea of counting the duds per type of media. Pretty sure my physical books would have more duds as well, because so many of them are ones which I inherited or were given me, not ones I chose.
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