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Group reading log 2018

This is a continuation of the topic Group reading log 2017.

BookCrossing Australia!

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1wookiebender
Jan 2, 6:41pm Top

Welcome to 2018! I hope this year brings us lots of lovely reading experiences.

2wookiebender
Edited: Jan 2, 9:58pm Top

I finished 2017 reading Provenance, the latest by Ann Leckie, set in her sci-fi world. Less intensely political than her original series (Ancillary Justice et al), more of a heist. My bookgroup was less impressed with it than I was, I enjoyed it.

I've started the year reading two books (hopefully I can keep this up!). I'm re-reading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell for book group (such delicious fun), and also realised We Were Liars was due back at the library, er, today, so finally picked that one up - a very entertaining and well-written YA read with thrills and drama and lashings of teenage angst. (It came with recommendations from two friends and my daughter.)

I'm hoping for more reading time this year - my current commute to work has a lot of walking (punctuated by a brief tram ride, not long enough for more than a few pages), but the office is moving mid-year so I'll be on the train across Sydney, nose in book. Less walking (boo!) but more reading (yay!). (And a much better office location, the shift is a good thing.)

3crimson-tide
Jan 2, 8:35pm Top

Hi all - back for 2018. :D

You could always knock off a few audiobooks during the walking sections of the commute, wookie. And another great pic to head the thread. Thanks for setting these up.

As mentioned in the previous thread, I'm currently reading:
-- Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town by Paul Theroux (ebook)
-- Uniform Justice by Donna Leon (paper book)
-- Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris (audiobook)

Reading this week has dropped off a bit for some reason, but hopefully is only temporary.

4wookiebender
Jan 2, 9:58pm Top

Sadly, I get to walk along semi-industrial roads with trucks going past (yeah, this office location really sucks). So I have to turn up the volume to hear anything spoken, and it still gets drowned out far too regularly. I leave my podcasts to being at home, cooking in the kitchen (or sewing, knitting, etc).

Oddly enough, the kids have some sort of sixth sense when it comes to me listening to podcasts. They'll leave me alone for hours, then I'll finally turn on a podcast and within minutes, they've appeared and are insisting on a conversation with me. WTH? :P

5wookiebender
Jan 3, 6:45pm Top

Finished We Were Liars, recommended if you can put up with a serious amount of teenage angst.

Back into Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, hurrah! The writing style is quite delightful, dripping with snark.

6crimson-tide
Jan 3, 7:49pm Top

I read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and remember enjoying it, and that it was fun and a bit different (and yes, snarky), but not too many of the actual details. It was way back in 2006 (just looked it up), so maybe I'm partly excused, but it's still a bit sad...

Finished listening to Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls. As usual with this sort of book, some stories and essays were better than others, some funnier than others. Overall average but no real misses - I think his earlier work was better. Having David be the narrator added to the experience though.

7freelunch
Jan 4, 1:48am Top

I was mad keen to read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell when it was first released, but it hasn't happened yet. Maybe this year.

I'm currently reading Harvest Of Time, a Doctor Who novel by Alastair Reynolds who I've seen praised for his Revelation Space series.

And because kindle books can be cheap and easy to pull the trigger on, I've just started The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History by Boris Johnson which is a bit removed from my usual fare of Rock Star biographies.

8wookiebender
Edited: Jan 4, 9:31pm Top

>6 crimson-tide: I only remember the basic plot of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell because I watched the wonderful British TV adaptation last year. I'd forgotten 90% of it.

freelunch, I was at the bookshop at lunch today (was supposed to be having lunch with workmate but she bailed but I was already on the bus without my book, so had to buy a new one, oh woe is me) and I was tossing up between A Natural History of Dragons and Leia, Princess of Alderaan. I went with the former (and it was a good fun lunchtime read), but should I keep the Leia book in mind?

ETA: yes, this does mean I'm reading two books again. :P

9freelunch
Jan 4, 11:24pm Top

I've read two of Claudia Gray's three Star Wars books and I recommend both Bloodline and Leia, Princess of Alderaan, read in that order if possible.

If you're only interested in the latter you won't really be missing anything, but Bloodline is excellent and it sets up a couple of plot points in Leia, Princess of Alderaan (although it takes place about 30 years later).

10wookiebender
Jan 8, 10:13pm Top

Thanks! I'll keep an eye open for both.

11freelunch
Jan 9, 9:13pm Top

Ten days into the new year and I've already finished five books :)

Yes, four of them were comics/"graphic novels" and I was midway through two when the year began, but they're putting me "in the black" for some longer books I want to read without losing sight of my fifty-book goal for the year.

Juan Diaz Canales' Blacksad series are noir-ish detective stories featuring anthropomorphized beasts (the protagonist detective is a panther and his sidekick for most cases is a hyaena). The art is spectacular and the English dialogue (translated from original Spanish) is entertaining, if not stunning. I read Vol. 1-3 a few years ago and Vol. 4 and 5 this month.

Harvest Of Time is set during the early seventies run of Doctor Who. I've read a lot of Doctor Who fiction and this was one of the better examples. I'm definitely inspired by it to check out Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space series.

The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History is proving to be an interesting aside for me. I don't know much about Churchill and I rarely read historical non-fiction but I'm finding this book interesting and very readable.

Finally, Elf Slave by Sarah Hawke. After I got my Kindle I went a-browsing at Amazon.com and was taken aback by the prevalence of "romance" eBooks (ie erotica). Curiosity lead me to a fantasy (elves, goblins, magic, etc.) series. The plentiful, lengthy sex scenes aren't particularly "erotic" but the protagonist is likable enough and I've been returning to it every few days to see where it goes. I doubt I'll be devoting time to this particular sub-genre once I see this story out.

12crimson-tide
Jan 14, 8:50am Top

Bit more catching up to do - sorry it's such a long post.

- Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town by Paul Theroux was a fascinating and well written (though in some ways pretty depressing) account of Pauls's travels through Eastern Africa. It was a longish book (almost 500 pages of 'real book' equivalent) and I took it very slowly, mirroring his method of travel. Took me longer than usual as I was often checking up on his route on other maps, looking at online photos of the places he was visiting, and searching for more info on some of the places and events he described. Isn't the internet a wonderful thing sometimes? :D

- Uniform Justice is another classic (and wonderful) Brunetti experience. This time Brunetti investigates the presumed suicide of a young cadet in Venice's elite military academy, once again battling widespread incompetence and corruption. Unfortunately in Italy it seems that discovering the truth rarely equates to obtaining justice.

- Then there was Helen Garner's Regions of Thick-Ribbed Ice. More of a novella length essay reporting on her trip to Antarctica, this is published as one of the Short Blacks series. It's classic, unadulterated Helen Garner: sharply observant, unflinchingly and unapologetically honest (which means, being Helen Garner, also being at times a bit grumpy!), perceptive, and eloquent. She rages against the hoards of tourists with cameras all competing for 'the shot', and admits to not being very keen on birds (including penguins); but also happily admits to falling in love with the ship, an old Russian icebreaker, and stands in absolute awe of the ice and the icebergs, "wanting to yell with joy". Her descriptions of the icebergs are a joy in themselves. Masterful.

- On audio I listened to Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. The blurb says "From a former Marine and Yale Law School Graduate, a poignant account of growing up in a poor Appalachian town, that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class. Part memoir, part historical and social analysis, J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy is a fascinating consideration of class, culture, and the American dream." He narrated it himself and really (imo) should have left it to a professional. I know this book has received a multitude of accolades but I'm rather conflicted. It's interesting in parts, and then in other parts he tends to go on a bit. He tended to oversimplify and overgeneralise somewhat, implying that the problems in the hillbilly community were unique in the world, and yet the community was somehow more resilient and more 'noble' than others. Also that his family was really 'down and out' whereas quite a number of them made good in some way.

- just finished reading Johnno by David Malouf. A superb debut novel, apparently semi-autobiographical, and expressed in such lovely, nostalgic writing. It's a sympathetic and honest "coming of age" story set in Brisbane during and after the Second World War.

- Current listening to Babycakes by Armistead Maupin, #4 in the Tales of the City Series. Apparently this was the very first novel to mention AIDS.

- and about to begin reading Having Cried Wolf, a debut collection of short stories by an Australian author, Gretchen Shirm. It comes highly recommended.

13freelunch
Jan 18, 12:27am Top

Boris Johnson's The Churchill Factor kept my interest to the end, and I'm inspired now to add Churchill's own My Early Life to my reading list. Given that Churchill apparently has more work published that Shakespeare and Dickens combined, this might be a long path to start on...

On now to Jeff VanderMeer's Annihilation, before the film adaptation is released next month.

14crimson-tide
Jan 18, 9:39am Top

Having Cried Wolf is an excellent debut collection of linked short stories set in a small town on the south coast of NSW. An ordinary town, ordinary people and ordinary lives brought to life by confident, observant and sensitive writing. Reminded me a little of Tim Winton's The Turning. I found it to be an enjoyable read even though the stories themselves were mostly far from 'happy' ones.

Next up is after you'd gone by Maggie O'Farrell.

15freelunch
Edited: Feb 9, 1:29am Top

Jeff VanderMeer's Annihilation was compelling enough but creepy and mysterious and even though it is the first part of a trilogy, I wish I had slightly more grasp of WTF happened. I can't imagine how they've made it into a film without huge compromises.

16wookiebender
Feb 9, 12:03am Top

Yes, I think Annihilation was fairly unfilmable. Very curious to see how they've done it.

I did enjoy A Natural History of Dragons, it was a good fun read.

Most of the way through Six Wakes now, which is a great read. A bunch of clones wake up on board an interstellar ship (taking colonists to a new planet), with no memories since they first boarded, to find all their previous clones slaughtered. Great premise for a whodunnit. :) Also, just a really good sci-fi book.

And I'm nearing the end of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. It's very heavy, so I keep on picking up lighter books if I have to hop on a bus.

17freelunch
Edited: Feb 9, 1:29am Top

I bought the three-volume version of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell to avoid the big-book issue, and it is still sitting (in its slipcase) unread, many years later.

Since my last post I've read In Times Like These, a free kindle eBook. Time Travel fiction which I thought was well done. The author spends a fair chunk of the book training his characters, thereby explaining his rules for time travel, but once they get moving there's a nice tangle of paradoxes and alternate timelines to weave through. The story was self-contained but it is (of course) the first of a series.

I then re-read Stephen King's Gerald's Game before watching the recent film adaptation. The movie is excellent, one of the best SK adaptations I've seen, but given its difficult subject matter I don't really feel comfortable recommending it.

Now I'm reading Robert Forster's The 10 Rules of Rock and Roll, a selection of articles originally published in The Monthly magazine, and Rainbow Rowell's Landline, a rom-com in which the lead discovers she can use the phone in her childhood bedroom to connect to her husband (then boyfriend) fifteen years in the past.

Ten books completed in January has me well on the way to my goal of fifty for the year :)

18wookiebender
Feb 11, 8:36pm Top

Oh, a three volume edition of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell would have been a great thing. :) I'm about 90 pages to go, getting to the pointy end of the plot.

I finished Six Wakes and really enjoyed it, as did everyone else who managed to get a copy in time for bookgroup (turns out, this one wasn't widely distributed in Australia, which is a shame). We've chosen the nicely named An Unkindness of Magicians for our next read (urban fantasy).

Currently reading Mary Beard's Women and Power: a Manifesto. Apparently talking seriously (debating, politics, law, etc) in Roman times was seen as something exclusively masculine. High pitched female voices did it all wrong. :P

19wookiebender
Edited: Feb 13, 5:05pm Top

Finished Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, it is a great book (although I covet the three-volume edition now).

Sadly, a lovely Sydney bookcrosser, Leon (BC name was enoch-metatron) died yesterday morning, he'd been in palliative care for a few weeks. We're all very sad and miss him. He wasn't the most active bookcrosser online, but he turned up to our meetups regularly and was a wonderful generous intelligent kind funny man.

Couldn't concentrate on anything much yesterday, so went back to my tried-and-true favourite for when life gets too much, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. (And watched a lot of the TV adaptation of Johnathan Strange and Mr Norrell, which is great.)

20freelunch
Edited: Feb 15, 7:27pm Top

I don't think I've encountered Leon in my years bookcrossing. I'm sorry for the community's loss.

The 10 Rules Of Rock and Roll ended up feeling somewhat redundant, being reviews of music and books from ten years ago. It is a usually expensive book that I've had on my wishlist for years, so I was pleased to find it for free during my one-month kindle unlimited trial from Amazon.

I usually refer to any "chick lit" I read (slightly less emasculatingly) as "romantic comedies". In the case of Landline it was more true than usual, with a premise and dialogue that seem perfect for a big screen translation.

Next I read The Only Harmless Great Thing, a novella by Brooke Bolander that packs a lot of story into its ~100 pages. The book is an alternate history based around the "Radium Girls" of the 1920s. This telling is concerned with circus elephants re-trained to work with radium due to their (apparently) high tolerance to radiation. The elephants in the story are capable of communication via sign-language and portions of the story are told from the creatures' perspective, including retelling of some of their native folklore akin to the "El-ahrairah" legends in Watership Down.

And now I've started Altered Carbon, thanks mostly to hype for the new TV series, having owned the book for more than a decade.

21wookiebender
Feb 20, 7:54pm Top

Thanks, freelunch.

I wasn't a fan of the book of Altered Carbon (didn't get more than a chapter or two into it). But I have liked what I have seen of the Netflix series. (Mr TQD has binged on the lot and really liked it.)

Finished Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Picked up Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I can see my next few updates on my reading might have a bit of a theme happening. :P

22wookiebender
Feb 26, 6:43pm Top

Finished Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Good escapist fun, as always.

Thought I'd better pull my finger out with my book group reading, so picked up Naomi Alderman's The Power this morning. Won the Bailey's Prize for Fiction and has a pretty cracking start. (She's also the writer behind "Zombies! Run!", which I listen to on the - currently rare - occasions I go running.)

23freelunch
Feb 26, 8:28pm Top

I'm almost through Altered Carbon. It isn't amazing but I'm enjoying it enough that I imagine I'll continue with the trilogy.

Other things I've read since last update:

Every Time We Meet at the Dairy Queen, Your Whole Fucking Face Explodes by Carlton Mellick III, a novella which read exactly as expected based on the title. My first foray into "Bizarro Fiction".

A Silent Voice, Vol. 1 by Yoshitoki Oima, first of a seven-part manga series about a school bully and the victim he reconciles with years later.

...and I've just started Voyager, the third book in the Outlander series.

24wookiebender
Mar 6, 8:24pm Top

"Bizarro fiction"?? What a weird genre. :)

I loved The Power, highly, highly recommended by me and all other bookgroup attendees. (Touchstone not working.)

Had a couple of sick days with a nasty headcold, and read Colson Whitehead's The Colossus of New York, a somewhat rambling and poetic non-fiction ode to New York. I do like his writing, and this was quite excellent. A lot of his observations I think also worked for any big city (I thought I could see Sydney in some of his comments).

And started An Unkindness of Magicians this morning on the tram. Rather good start to it, urban fantasy. New York again. :)

25freelunch
Mar 12, 1:39am Top

And here we are two weeks later. I finished Altered Carbon. It ended well but I think the pacing was off throughout the book, something I'm not usually cognisant of. It was its author's first book, so hopefully this improves as the series progresses.

I'm enjoying Voyager. I know the Outlander books aren't by any means highbrow entertainment, but they're comfortable. And there's a lot of them. :)

And to keep my figures up I resorted to manga again, this time My Love Story!!, Vol. 1 by Kazune Kawahara, an unfortunate translation of "Ore Monogatari!!", which I understand would translate more accurately (and slightly less cringe-inducingly) as "It's My Story!!". I picked up the first volume because I've been enjoying the anime, and the story was close enough that I'll probably stick with the (cheaper, more easily shared) animated version to see the series out.

26wookiebender
Mar 15, 1:03am Top

Oh, finished An Unkindness of Magicians and while it wasn't a perfect book (some plot points that failed under closer scrutiny), it was a great page turner and both Don and I really enjoyed it. Discussing it this weekend at book group, I hope the others liked it as much.

And now I'm engrossed in the second Mistborn book by Brandon Sanderson, The Well of Ascension. Again, not a perfect book (feels a bit formulaic at times with the characters), but an entertaining read.

27freelunch
Edited: Mar 25, 7:05pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

28wookiebender
Apr 10, 1:26am Top

Well, I did really enjoy The Well of Ascension and would love to run to the third in the series, but oh look, bookgroup is on next week... So I've picked up Little Fires Everywhere which looks like it should be a good read, too.

Wish I had more reading time. I'm going to start putting my phone out of reach as I walk in the door so it doesn't distract me, I think. :P

29wookiebender
Apr 15, 8:54pm Top

Whizzed through Little Fires Everywhere. It was a bit rambling and had to pause every now and then for an info dump as it introduced new characters, but on the whole I enjoyed it very much. I haven't read any of her other books yet, this might just be her style. Catching up with the bookgroup tonight to discuss.

Have moved onto Lovecraft Country for my other bookgroup.

30freelunch
Edited: Apr 15, 9:37pm Top

I have Lovecraft Country. I read Matt Ruff's Bad Monkeys last year. It didn't blow me away but it was decent, and any book I finish is a win these days.

Since my last update I've read The Wheel Of Ice, another "event" Doctor Who novel written by a high-profile author. In this case Stephen Baxter, who I've never read. His book was set during the 60s run of the show and he captured it well, but as with any TV spin-off fiction, it exists for fans and isn't likely to attract anyone outside that audience.

Next I read Ready Player One. I've had the book since it came out, figured I better read it before seeing the film. The book was a fun, geeky spin on the Hunger Games formula, drowning in pop-culture references which I enjoyed, and although it was a simple book aimed at teens I found it vastly superior to the dumbed-down movie.

Next: Lord John and the Hellfire Club, an Outlander spin-off novella. There are a bunch of books featuring Lord John Grey which fit between the third and fourth Outlander books. I'll keep reading them for as long as they stay fun. This one was barely long enough to earn an opinion. Initial exposition was clumsy but the second, action-y half was fun.

Then: A Study In Scarlet. I've never read Sherlock Holmes so I decided to grab a cheap eBook collection and start at the beginning. For 19th Century literature I found it surprisingly readable, and a better story than the recent BBC modernised version.

Now I'm reading:

Music, What Happened? by Scott Miller. Scott fronted two great but relatively unknown bands: Game Theory (1982-1990) and The Loud Family (1991-2006). He passed away in 2013. He devotes a chapter to each year beginning in 1953, in which he discusses what he believes to be the defining popular music of each year

Elvis and the Memphis Mafia by Alanna Nash, based on extensive interviews with three members of Elvis Presley's entourage. It takes the form of a series of anecdotes, often "setting the record straight" on some of the more extreme stories that have emerged about Elvis over the years (and in many cases, confirming them).

31wookiebender
Apr 16, 12:43am Top

Aw, I like the BBC's Sherlock adaptations. :) Although they are getting more and more over-the-top as they go. I'm quite a fan of the original books and stories, glad you liked the first one. (Reminds me to pick up where I left off a few years ago...)

I've attempted one Stephen Baxter novel, which was the authorised sequel to War of the Worlds and failed to maintain my interest. It did inspire me to read the original however, which was great fun.

32freelunch
Apr 17, 11:42pm Top

I don’t mind the BBC’s recent Sherlock adaptation, though I’ve never made it beyond Series One, so I guess I’m not a huge fan.

I’ve just started The Magician’s Land. If I make it to the end, it’s series will be the first one I’ve completed in years.

33wookiebender
Apr 18, 2:01am Top

I've bogged down a bit with series too. It's hard to commit to what ends up being thousands of pages sometimes. Good luck with The Magician's Land, that was one I did complete. :)

And, funnily enough, my book group is reading Sherlock Holmes for our next meeting (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes). Wonder where that inspiration came from. :D

34wookiebender
Apr 25, 8:12pm Top

Well, I had a brief hiccup while reading Lovecraft Country (was thrown by the format of almost-short stories, but when I realised it was a continuation of an overall plot, I really liked it). Well worth it, although I'm seeing multi tentacled monsters out of the corner of my eye now. (I don't deal with horror too well. :P)

I've moved onto A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists which I've had in Mt TBR for some months now. I saw the author talk about her most recent book, but chose this one because it was described as "the funny one" and I didn't need another serious read. Then her most recent book, From the Wreck won an Aurealis award, and I thought I'd better give her a go. :)

35wookiebender
May 2, 9:20pm Top

Well, A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists ended up being rather odd. I didn't find it funny, but it was intriguing at times, and frustrating at others. Not one I'd recommend, but it might stick in my head for a while.

Moving onto Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman (I love her "Tea and Jeopardy" podcast).

36freelunch
May 3, 12:01am Top

I got sidetracked by TV in April. It seems I can read or watch television alone, but not both.

I've just finished The Magician's Land. It was a good read, and I'm pleased to have finished a series for the first time in forever.

Still going with Elvis and the Memphis Mafia, which is fascinating - though ultimately the three guys telling the stories are unreliable narrators, particularly when they disagree with one another. Also it has me listening to more Elvis than usual (even his execrable sixties film soundtracks) which I'm sure everyone around me is just thrilled by.

37wookiebender
May 3, 9:37pm Top

:D

I must admit, I'm not enjoying Between Two Thorns as much as I'd hoped. It seems to be lacking some spark, and I'm not entirely convinced by the world building. I do like having to work a bit, I don't want everything spelled out to me, but c'mon, a bit more explanation would be nice! (So far, seems to be about Fae in our world. I think.)

38wookiebender
May 7, 11:23pm Top

Okay, I persevered with Between Two Thorns and ended up enjoying it (although I think it's still quite flawed) and am looking for the second book in the series now.

Have moved onto The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August which is quite excellent, so far.

39freelunch
Edited: May 8, 4:46am Top

I've just finished Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson, about a team who time-travel from an ecologically-wrecked 23rd century back to 2000 B.C. to survey the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It took a while to get going as the author didn't include explanations of a lot of her tech concepts, but it got there in the end.

Now I'm reading Lost Stars a YA novel set during the original Star Wars film trilogy. It follows two Imperial cadets from childhood, friends who enter the Imperial Academy together but end up on opposing sides when one joins the Rebellion. All the big events from the original movies will play out as a backdrop to their story. I'm not far in but it has started well.

40freelunch
May 15, 6:50pm Top

And Lost Stars was excellent. If my kids were still of appropriate age I'd definitely be reading it aloud to them. very recommended if you're at all interested in Star Wars fiction.

Next up is Small Mercy by Tom Dawes, because it is the most obscure book I could identify on my shelf - nobody else owns it here on LibraryThing and it only has one rating (and no reviews) on Goodreads.

41freelunch
Edited: May 15, 11:45pm Top

And that’s a fail for Small Mercy. Abandoned after six pages. Life’s too short.

42wookiebender
May 16, 5:58am Top

I saw your comments about Small Mercy on Facebook. Life is definitely too short. :)

I've finished The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August and enjoyed it immensely. I was disappointed that it had to end. Highly recommended.

Not sure what I'm moving onto. Was thinking of The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness, but may change my mind.

43freelunch
May 17, 1:20am Top

I have The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August perched on a bookstack in my library. Now that I'm reading semi-reliably again I'm spoilt for choice and have to fight the temptation to start reading all the books!!

I settled on King Of All The Dead by Steve Lockley & Paul Lewis (a short, zombie-ish horror novella) as still-pretty-obscure. It was decent, with an ending I wasn't expecting.

Now on to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, the basis for Love Simon which was in cinemas last month.

44wookiebender
Edited: May 17, 9:23pm Top

Oh, my daughter LOVED "Love, Simon", both the movie and the book (our book has the movie tie-in cover, :P). She was very excited to find out there's a sequel out rsn, Leah on the Offbeat.

I am reading - and enjoying - The Crane Wife. I was thrown a bit, I've read Ness's YA fiction, and had forgotten this one is for us grown ups. It's a lovely story so far, nicely complex characters, and I have no idea where it's going to go.

45freelunch
May 21, 12:43am Top

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was excellent. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie if it hits Netflix (or Stan) and I'm watching for the sequel to go on sale.

Next I read Volume 3 of Delicious In Dungeon, a manga about a party of adventurers in a dungeon who find ways to cook and eat everything they kill. I enjoy character-driven manga (and anime) and this series is quirky enough to keep me intrigued thus far.

Since my wife and I moved onto eBooks I've been grabbing "romance" novels for her when I find them cheap (or free)... and there's no shortage of cheap "romance" novels with hundreds of four-star reviews on goodreads.com. Thank you 50 Shades Of Grey. Anyway, I came across a trilogy I thought I could relate to: Rock Hard Beautiful by C.M. Stunich, in which the heroine falls in love with an entire rock band. I've just started the second book, Roadie, and it isn't terrible :)

46wookiebender
May 23, 9:23pm Top

"Not terrible" is rather faint praise, I may skip that one. Although my Kindle does have its fair share of cheap / free romances on it, I tend towards Regency romances. :)

I did finish The Crane Wife and it was a good, if occasionally somewhat odd, story.

Then I was going to wild release The Double Life of Cora Parry, but was intrigued by the blurb. Sadly, it's more annoying than good, but it's short, so I'll probably finish it. And then wild release it.

47wookiebender
May 24, 8:36pm Top

Well, The Double Life of Cora Parry got even more annoying, with a very trite ending. It was a book that wasn't quite sure what it wanted to be, I think, the plot seemed to bounce all over the place, characters were introduced and then removed just as fast, and the ending involved more coincidences than a Dickens novel. (For a large city, Victorian London had a lot of the same people running into each other and they all had the most amazing memories.) I should have given up earlier.

Now reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for book group. The game is afoot!

48freelunch
May 29, 9:29am Top

Well I finally finished Elvis and the Memphis Mafia. It was very readable, and if the accounts in it (from Elvis' cousin who often lived on his property at Graceland, and two friends who were part of his entourage throughout his career) are at all true then Presley's life was a tragedy.

I've finished Roadie and I stand by my "not terrible" assessment. I'm invested enough to see how the trilogy turns out :)

Tonight I started Authority, the second part of Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach Trilogy. The first book, Annihilation, was filmed and released straight to Netflix a few months ago. I haven't seen the movie (which stars Natalie Portman) but based on its trailer it is substantially different to the book.

49wookiebender
Jun 5, 1:48am Top

I've read the first two Southern Reach books and liked them. Can't remember them well enough to know how the movie differs (which I haven't seen yet, but it's on my watch list).

Everyone really enjoyed The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, some of us were re-reading, some of us were new to the books (but everyone knows the characters). It was fun revisiting the original.

And now I'm reading Semiosis for my sci-fi book group. Excellent start to the book, but a shame that I'm starting it after we already had the discussion. :D (Everyone loved the book. I loved our 1970s themed food - for no particular reason, apart from the fact that we got rather tipsy and silly the last time and started googling images of 1970s food - lots of tinned pineapple - and felt inspired. I tried to not eat all the devilled eggs, but they've been a favourite of mine since the 1970s. I did make good inroads into the Mateus, but the Lambrusco was not to my tastes. Couldn't find Blue Nun. :)

50freelunch
Jun 6, 2:03am Top

I’m still reading Authority. It is short and not uninteresting, but I’m making very slow progress, and frequently flipping pages back to re-read because I haven’t absorbed what I just read. Given the story the book tells, it would be amazing if this is somehow the author’s intention, but I suspect the problem is all me.

51wookiebender
Jun 11, 9:17pm Top

I dunno, I liked Authority, but I didn't always find it gripping. May just not be the right time for you to read that book.

I finished Semiosis and enjoyed it, although towards the end I felt as if I was just reading to get to the end, rather than really enjoying the journey.

Moving onto the delightfully named Meddling Kids.

52freelunch
Jun 11, 10:45pm Top

I'm pretty sure the problem with Authority was me. Once a rebel, and all that... I finished it and liked it well enough by the end.

Now, in an attempt at non-genre "mainstream" fiction (if there still is such a thing) I'm reading The Light Between Oceans.

53freelunch
Jun 14, 7:04pm Top

Finished The Light Between Oceans. It was weepy and predictable, but I thought it was solid. The frequent ockerisms in the dialogue grated after a while, but I guess people do talk that way. I'm not sure I'm interested in seeing the film, this seems to be more and more the case with film adaptations for me lately.

I'm now back to Sherlock Holmes with The Sign Of The Four.

54freelunch
Jun 23, 9:30am Top

The Sign Of The Four was fun. I'm again surprised at how entertaining 19th century fiction can still be.

Next I read Star Wars: Lost Stars, Vol. 1, the first volume of Yuusaka Komiyama's manga adaptation of Claudia Gray's YA Star Wars novel. The manga is solid, but I wouldn't suggest it as an alternative to the book, which has risen in my estimation to be my favourite YA read in several years.

Next came Felix Romsey's Afterparty by Tim Thornton, a whimsical fantasy which kicks off at a massive Rock Festival in the Afterlife from which the headline act (John Lennon, no less) vanishes just as he is about to perform, leaving the promoter and his assistant scouring the afterlife searching for him. The book is chock-full of fun cameos from dead artists, but it was a more frivolous than I had anticipated from Thornton, whose The Alternative Hero and Death Of An Unsigned Band are both favourite "realistic" fictional takes on the rock'n'roll lifestyle.

55freelunch
Jun 26, 8:35pm Top

I think its probably time to wrap this up. It was fun ten years ago when we had a community following and discussing what everyone read, it is definitely less fulfilling with just two of us.

I imagine I'll catch you on the facebook wookiebender

freelunch out

56wookiebender
Jun 29, 4:27am Top

I really must check out Claudia Gray!

No worries, I shall see you on Facebook. crimson-tide, say hi when you're back online!

57crimson-tide
Jul 2, 7:51am Top

Hi wookie, sorry I dropped out . . . just couldn't manage to get my head around keeping up to date with the posts with everything else that was going on. Then we started travelling again. Then I got lazy. Then I got the guilts but couldn't face backdating my reading log back to January... And we're still travelling.

So not sure where that leaves us. I could just list what I've read in the interim with a couple of words on each rather than a paragraph and then try to start again from here if you like? But there would still be only the two of us now that Andrew has debunked.

58wookiebender
Aug 19, 11:06pm Top

We can always restart, once you're in a good place to do semi-regular updates (I'm hardly the most regular of updaters either). :)

No hurry to make a decision, enjoy your travels!

FYI, I picked up 1Q84 on the weekend. 900 pages of oddness. Yay! I'm liking it so far.

To catch up, Meddling Kids - good idea, poorly overwritten, which made it more annoying than fun.
Circe - brilliant, kind of follows on from Song of Achilles (we meet Odysseus again).
The Vagrant - crap, did not finish.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - sweet, glad I finally read it, fascinating piece of history, but maybe a bit bubblegum at times.
The Death of Faith - Brunetti, woot!
All Rights Reserved - slightly over-the-top angsty YA book my daughter really loved, and it is a great concept and I have been recommending it on that alone. (You have to pay for every word you utter, some words are worth more than others.)
Cicada - Shaun Tan is a living legend.
Olive Kitteridge - really liked this one, Olive is a wonderfully prickly character.
The Echo - Pretty good whodunnit, if a little dated now (main character could do with some new wave feminism, he's a prat)

59freelunch
Aug 20, 1:00am Top

Well if y'all want to keep going I'll stick around a while too :)

Catch-up time:

His Kidnapper's Shoes - Hero suspects he is not related to the parent he despises, and discovers he was kidnapped as a child. I liked this well enough to read another book by Maggie James
One-Punch Man, Vol. 9 - Manga. This is a one-joke series, but it is a good joke I'm still enjoying after nine volumes.
Moxie - Third part of a trilogy (with "Groupie" and "Roadie" listed above). Girl falls in love with five-member rock band. Trashy romance to the Nth degree.
Cable & Deadpool Vol 4: Bosom Buddies - Comic. Deadpool is as fun in print as he is played by Ryan Reynolds on screen.
Castaways - First part of "The Challenge" romance/adventure series. A crew of six are selected by a billionaire to sail from USA to Australia to give his son something meaningful to do with his life. As per the title, things don't go as planned. Trashy romance.
Motherfucking Sharks - The Sharknado movies wish they were this good. A storm hits a small desert town, and with it come land-sharks that emerge from the soaked earth to devour everything in sight. Ridiculously over-the-top violence. Stupid fun.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe - Comic. I wanted to love Squirrel Girl, but I found this book painful to read due to font sizing and colour choices. She's a fun character and the story was solid, but I'm leaving this series here.
Tearaways - Second part of "The Challenge" romance/adventure. The crew are now crossing America on motorbikes, earning a living as they go.
Stiltz - Urban Fantasy based on Rumpelstiltskin. From the author of Groupie/Roadie/Moxie.
Alone - First of a trilogy of novellas about the sole survivor of a Mars colony expedition. Solid.
Hidden - Second in trilogy, after Alone. Also solid.
Found - Third in trilogy, after Hidden. I've forgotten the ending already, but I know it was unsatisfying after a decent buildup.
Runaways - Third part of "The Challenge", the gang go to Africa to build a hospital for a remote village.
Blackwater Lake - From the author of "His Kidnapper's Shoes" listed above. Again, a hero discovers possible crime committed by his parents. Felt a little formulaic due to its similarity to the previous book I read from the author, though they aren't meant to be related.
Stowaways - Fourth part of "The Challenge", the gang are now crewing a container ship crossing from Africa to Europe.
Battle Harem - Sci-fi action. Opens with a guy selling a copy of his personality to the military, then skips to the activation of a battle robot with his personality and memories. Earth has been invaded and several robots endowed with civilian personalities fight back. Action sequences were fun. It reminded me of MissionForce CyberStorm, a PC game I played the heck out of in the 90s.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - This was excellent, easily my read-of-the-year to date. Starts like a standard rom-com but Eleanor has a unique voice and becomes more intriguing as snippets of her past come to light. Very recommended.
A Silent Voice, Volume 3: A Conversation Begins - Manga series about a school bully who tries to make amends to the deaf girl he bullied in primary school. The series was made into a great film, and it might be even better in print.
Breakaways - Final part of "The Challenge", in which the gang settles on a property in Outback Australia. Trashy romance but fun.
Spotted Her First Urban fantasy. "Cat Lady" librarian is descended from Cleopatra and is sought out to be Queen of a pack of leopard shape-shifters. Trashy romance (of which I'm reading a lot this year)
Lord John and the Private Matter - A spin-off from the "Outlander" series, no time-travel or romance here. Lord John Grey is investigating the theft of military documents, and trying to prevent his cousin marrying an undesirable. Set in the seedier districts of 18th century London.
Flightless Bird - First part of "The Caged" a YA romance series, reminiscent of "Twilight" but I like the kids more (I made it halfway through the first Twilight book) and the paranormal element is original.
The Way We Burn - FBI Agent's daughter is murdered and his wife disappears. Solid romance/mystery that telegraphs its big twists a little too strongly.
Growing Wings - Part 2 of "The Caged" YA romance series.
The White Queen - Dark horror based on "Alice In Wonderland". I'd heard good things about Addison Cain and this free eBook was my first taste. Too violent and confrontational to recommend, but I'll be checking out more of her work.
I Kill Giants - Excellent graphic novel about a teenage girl who insists her (real world) hometown is under threat from Giants, and she is the town's only defence.
Taking Flight - Part 3 of "The Caged" YA romance.

And I'm currently reading:

The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes - The third Holmes book, this one is a collection of twelve short stories.
Rough Surrender - I didn't read "50 Shades Of Grey" but my wife read the full trilogy. I see the series criticized all the time for being poorly written and unrepresentative of "the lifestyle" and when I asked a group which authors got it right, Cari Silverwood was one of the names suggested. I picked this book (about a female pilot visiting Egypt in 1910) because the setting was different to most and it was "free" on Amazon's Kindle Unlimited plan. I'm at the halfway point and enjoying it well enough.

60wookiebender
Aug 21, 12:06am Top

You have been reading up a storm, freelunch!

I did buy Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine based on your recommendation, will get to it soonish. And I've got what I assume must be the adaptation of I Kill Giants on my Netflix list...

61freelunch
Edited: Aug 21, 3:53am Top

I hope you enjoy Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I've just seen a massive hate-fest leveled at it on the facebook, but people (especially people on the facebook) can find a reason to hate just about anything, doesn't mean it is terrible.

The film on Netflix is based on I Kill Giants, and I think the filmmakers did a great job.

62wookiebender
Aug 23, 10:34pm Top

People on social media can be difficult to deal with. Much as I love my Facebook and Twitter connectivity, I just also want to rage quit them at times. I shall avoid any hatefest for Eleanor Oliphant.

I shall certainly bump I Kill Giants up the priority list. :) We rented some movies cheaply on iTunes the other day and they're all about to expire so we're making them a priority. (Hoping to get to Miike's adaptation of Blade of the Immortal tonight. I'm not a fan of violent movies, but somehow samurai movies get past my squeamishness. So over the top, I guess.)

1Q84 is going slow, and it is so massive! But when I do read it, I am engrossed. I do like his writing style (or that of his translators, I guess :).

63freelunch
Aug 24, 1:35am Top

I've had IQ84 on my shelf for years but I'm still shy of tackling anything too heavy*. I've usually enjoyed Murakami when I've read him in the past, but I'm troubled by the translation process, and of how much might be lost/changed in the process. Not troubled enough to put me off manga and anime though :)

Rough Surrender stayed entertaining. I'll probably try another Cari Silverwood book at some point.

I'm currently reading Freak the Mighty after watching the (excellent) film adaptation again recently for the umpteenth time, and Flying Free, the fourth (and final) book in Kellie McAllen's The Caged series.

*If I make it to my my goal of 100 books read this year, #101 will be Les Misérables, the recent translation by Australian Julie Rose.

64wookiebender
Aug 27, 9:28pm Top

Les Misérables would be an excellent conclusion to a good reading year. :)

Yes, I'm always worried about translations. I listened to a good podcast (Tea and Jeopardy) where she was talking to Ken Liu who does a lot of translation (apart from his own writing), and he had some interesting things to say about idioms and language quirks. Given that all Murakami books do have a certain style, I think they're probably doing their best to mimic his sparse prose into equally sparse English.

65crimson-tide
Aug 28, 4:24am Top

Hi guys. Still travelling and been out of range totally the past 10 days but now back in semi civilisation (Nullagine). We should be home in a couple of weeks. Once the unpacking and cleaning chaos has settled I'll sit down and do a bit of a summary.

Looks like you've both been clocking up a fair number of good reads.

66freelunch
Edited: Aug 29, 1:48am Top

I'm not sure "good" applies to many of mine, but it is good to have regained the habit :)

Freak the Mighty was great, and there's a sequel I'm looking forward to reading next month.

Flying Free was an OK ending to a fun series, but I found it less enjoyable than the previous books, probably because the protagonists were split up for a large chunk of the story. I'm running low on teenagers to supply with books but I'd happily recommend The Caged series.

I also finished Music: What Happened?, a book I've been crawling my way through for several months, for which indie musician Scott Miller (formerly of Game Theory and The Loud Family, and now deceased) compiled a mix-tape for each year from 1957 to 2009 containing his favourite songs from the year, then wrote a chapter talking about each mix/year. It was a great read, one I would have enjoyed even more if I could afford to hunt down all the music he wrote about that I'm not familiar with.

I'm now halfway through The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes. Some of the cases in it are a bit light/silly so I'm spacing them out to about one a week.

I'm also reading Nailing Studs, which was free on Amazon, and despite the deplorable title it is a well-written (and edited, a rarity in self-published eBooks!) rom-com concerned with a heroine who inherits a house from her Aunt which is in serious need of repair, and the guys she hires to fix it. Trashy romance, but sweet, so far.

And finally, The Extraordinary Life Of Sam Hell, a coming-of-age story featuring a hero born with ocular albinism who is ostracised by his peers for his red eyes. It reads a lot like a John Irving novel, though without the biblical level of tragedy most of Irving's heroes suffer (so far at least). If I do an end-of-year Top Ten list, I expect this book will be on it.

67wookiebender
Aug 29, 3:28am Top

Hi crimson-tide! *waves* :)

I've had to put 1Q84 to one side because I fell over and hurt my wrist and can't actually lug it around easily. (It's my bedside book right now, had to be removed as the commuting book.)

So I picked up Cabaret of Monsters, a nice slim book, the prequel to the Creature Court series by Tansy Rayner Roberts, which I got as part of a kickstarter I did for her. (I did really like Creature Court, and I'm all about supporting our Australian artists where I can.) Much easier to heft around.

In a few weeks, the office is moving. It will be a longer commute with more sitting on trains (if they're not too crowded) and less walking. The upside is: MORE TIME TO READ. Woot! I'm hoping my numbers pick back up in the final quarter of the year. :)

68wookiebender
Sep 2, 8:54pm Top

Okay, I've also been toting around a slim little volume called On Doubt by Leigh Sales. It was originally written about 10 years ago, and, my, has the world changed a lot since then! While she's talking about the deterioration of politics and truth, in her afterward she's pretty gobsmacked by how far it all fell apart. In summary: worth a read, but fairly dated (already!).

I also read (in one day!) Convenience Store Woman - we're discussing it at book group tonight. It was rather weird, and I think the other members of the group liked it more than me. But it was definitely outside of our usual reads, so I'm glad we read it. It's about a rather odd person (shades of autism?) who has managed to pass as "normal" by working in a convenience store and mimicking her coworkers. Did have some rather good things to say about how society treats those who are "different".

69freelunch
Edited: Sep 3, 2:15am Top

One-day reads are great for the numbers :)

Sam Hell got a little saccharine toward the end, but I still count it among the best books I've read this year.

I'm now reading Charcoal Tears by Jane Washington, the start of (yet another) teen paranormal romance series, though this one apparently gets less "teen fiction" as the protagonists get older.

70freelunch
Sep 9, 7:18pm Top

Charcoal Tears was OK. It started very similarly to The Caged series (which I read last month) but goes its own way by the end of the book. I think its narrative is hurt by the main character (and reader) being kept in the dark as to reasons for much of what is happening in the story. That along with an unknown enemy is a little bit too much unknown. Also there's a budding (potentially sexual) relationship between a teacher and high school student which might be a problem for some in a YA novel.

Next I read The Pisces which I thought was seriously messed up. Lucy is depressed following the end of a relationship and she goes on a tinder binge then begins a relationship with a merman. She is abrupt and course and completely unlikable. Her entanglements are described in explicit detail but (to quote another reviewer) "there is nothing sexy or erotic in Ms. Broder’s descriptions. In fact, her overt crassness in such scenes is the opposite of erotic. It is the cold shower of erotic." and Lucy's deliberate plunge to rock-bottom is the most uncomfortable thing I've read in recent memory.

Now I'm reading Watercolour Smile, the second book in the Seraph Black quadrilogy (after "Charcoal Tears").

71wookiebender
Sep 9, 11:49pm Top

A merman?? The mind boggles. :D

I've been on leave (busy walking the wonderful streets of Melbourne; I visited Embiggen Books, Minotaur Books, Metropolis Books, and the branch of Readings at the State Library of Victoria; and ate far too much smashed avocado). There was definitely far too much talking and not enough reading (was there with my Mum, my Aunt and my sister, so much chatting but the only time I got to read was just before bed and on the plane).

So I only read the rather short The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald, which I thought was interesting, but not a must-read. I think I needed something more up-beat.

My daughter pressed on me her copy of Amelia Westlake and now I'm back at work I hid at lunchtime so I could keep on reading without having to talk to workmates. Only started it this morning, and I'm about 60 pages in. Damned good fun, so far.

And I must get back to 1Q84!

72freelunch
Sep 11, 2:31am Top

After hitting 50% in Watercolour Smile I've decided to abandon the series. After a book and a half I still didn't really care for the characters or what happened to them, and it is especially easy to walk away from books downloaded for free.

On now to A Crack In Everything, which caught my eye due to its Leonard Cohen lyric title. It appears to be another YA book (they're everywhere!), about teens living in a council estate highrise somewhere in Ireland. Three chapters in and I already like them more than Seraph Black and her coterie.

73wookiebender
Sep 13, 9:53pm Top

Yes, YA does seem to be quite a growth market. I just finished Amelia Westlake and enjoyed it immensely.

I've picked up Tears of Autumn by Charles McCarry - the second Paul Christopher novel, which is an excellent spy series. But I haven't been well this week, so am eyeing off the Georgette Heyer novels as a good fun light read.

74freelunch
Sep 14, 12:48am Top

A Crack In Everything turned out to be less YA than I first thought. Things got far "steamier" than I'd be comfortable giving to a teen to read. The story was solid though it ended on a cliffhanger, to be resolved in the second half of the duology: How The Light Gets In.

Now I'm reading Escape the Sea, the first part of G. Bailey's unambiguously-titled Saved by Pirates trilogy. Cassandra has been hidden away by her father since birth due to facial markings for which she would be executed (or worse!) should they become public knowledge. She sneaks out to a party and when she is seen she flees in a dodgy boat, from which she is saved by pirates. Shenanigans ensue.

75freelunch
Sep 14, 9:04pm Top

Abandoning Escape The Sea. Its series is "free" via kindle unlimited and I grabbed it on whim after seeing a Goodreads review proclaiming it to be the readers "favourite series ever". But no. Clumsy exposition and no personality to any one when I'm more than halfway through the book. If it was a stand-alone novel I'd probably stick it out, but with two more books to come after this one, life's too short.

76freelunch
Sep 14, 9:46pm Top

...and so, in an over-reaction to a couple of abandoned sub-standard kindle unlimited eBooks, I return to the world of dead-tree books. Specifically to (non-fiction) string theory and quantum physics in Trespassing On Einstein’s Lawn

77wookiebender
Edited: Sep 17, 12:28am Top

With free books, you do get what you paid for sometimes. (Sometimes you're also damned lucky and stumble across something delightful.)

As predicted above, the siren song of Georgette Heyer won me over in my convalescence. I'm most of the way through Cousin Kate and having a delightful time, only sometimes there is so much Georgian slang I have no actual idea what people are saying. :P

ETA: String theory? I read most of The Elegant Universe many years ago. String theory is fascinating, but my brain hurt afterwards.

78freelunch
Sep 17, 3:49am Top

I've dropped to a chapter at a time of Trespassing On Einstein's Lawn. It is engagingly written, but I think I'm understanding about half of it, and retaining maybe half of that. Interesting enough to continue with despite that issue (which is mostly me).

I've had a fairly good run with free books so far, it is only fitting that I see the flipside at some point.

After my chapter of cosmology yesterday I picked up Max The Mighty, the sequel to Freak The Mighty. Max is a fun narrator. If I still had primary-school age kids I'd be reading him aloud to them.

79freelunch
Edited: Sep 19, 12:44am Top

Finished Max The Mighty. No big surprises but it is a great kids' book. Its a shame the film adaptation of Freak The Mighty (released as "The Mighty") didn't do well enough for a sequel to be made. Elden Henson (now best known as Foggy Nelson in "Daredevil" on Netflix) was brilliant as Max.

Next I read How The Light Gets In, the second half of a duology I started a last week. Set 11 years after A Crack In Everything, it catches up with the same group of characters, now 29-30 years old with the setting moved from Dublin to New York City. Predictable as the average rom-com movie, it was enjoyable enough to keep me up much too late last night finishing the book (after starting it mid-afternoon).

Full work-day today and I don't like starting a new book late at night so I'll wait 'til tomorrow to pick something - currently leaning towards American Queen because I know my wife will enjoy it, and I like to read books before her so we can discuss them.

80wookiebender
Sep 19, 12:32am Top

You're setting a blistering pace here, freelunch. :)

I finished Cousin Kate and it was a fun diversion. Now have to start Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi - we're discussing it in book club this Saturday.

81freelunch
Edited: Sep 24, 2:39am Top

So I went with American Queen and I think I've found a successor to 50 Shades Of Grey for my wife (she read that series, I didn't).

No redeeming aspirations to literature here, we're talking unabashed BDSM smut. American Queen is the first book of a trilogy ("New Camelot") which transposes the Legend Of King Arthur to an alternate current-day USA and focused on a triad consisting of the US President and Vice President (both War Heroes, and improbably in their 30s) and First Lady.

I'll probably burn through the complete trilogy (it continues to American Prince and concludes with American King) over the next week or so, while continuing with a chapter here and there of Trespassing On Einstein's Lawn, which remains engaging as it largely passes over my head.

Interestingly, American Queen is in 45 libraries here on LibraryThing, and it has been rated by 9 readers (I'll be #10 later tonight). Compare that with Goodreads where it has been rated by 7,163 readers and we glimpse the different demographics of the two sites (even with 33 Goodreads users for every one here on LibraryThing) :)

82wookiebender
Sep 24, 11:36pm Top

Nice number crunching there; I don't spend any time on Goodreads, but I guess I've always felt there's a difference between the two sites. Obviously all the BDSM fans are over there. :D

I finished The Collapsing Empire and enjoyed it, although it does fall into the "space opera romp" category more than "serious deep sci-fi" category. (I think some members of the book club would have preferred the latter.) I will read on in the series, it's a good idea, and he's an entertaining and fun writer.

I picked up Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine last night, and my, I am enjoying it. (Even though she's clearly very very not completely fine.)

This longer commute is certainly paying dividends in reading time, too. I think I'm at about quintuple my page count per day at the moment. (Helps that both books have been very readable. No string theory here.)

83wookiebender
Sep 27, 9:07pm Top

Finished Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and it was a great read. While not necessarily "likeable", some of Eleanor's flaws are my flaws (pedantry!) and it was great seeing her development.

Moving onto The Museum of Extraordinary Things, my first Hoffman.

84freelunch
Sep 27, 9:56pm Top

Glad to hear you enjoyed Eleanor :)

I've finished The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes having read it sporadically over the past six weeks. Some of the cases were a bit silly, but I enjoyed the short-story format and I remain pleasantly surprised at how readable the original Sherlock Holmes books are, despite their age.

I'm about halfway through American Prince. It adds some action/thriller elements to its mix, but its raison d'être is still BDSM romance. I'm feeling inspired to read the actual Legend Of Arthur at some point after I'm done with the "New Camelot" trilogy.

85freelunch
Oct 2, 4:35pm Top

Now on to The Ragged Edge Of Night by Olivia Hawker, based on her family history and telling the story of a German Catholic friar whose order is shut down down by the Nazis during World War II. Initially conscripted, he is injured out of the military. His desire to follow his vows and help others leads him to relocate to a small German hamlet and wed a widow who seeks a marriage—in name only—to a man who can help raise her three children.

86wookiebender
Oct 3, 6:31pm Top

I am fond of the Sherlock Holmes novels (haven't read them all yet, though). I agree, moments of silliness, but remarkably fresh after so many years.

I finished The Museum of Extraordinary Things and I enjoyed it (particularly the time period - 1911 New York - with the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and Coney Island), but I'm not sure it'll be particularly memorable.

I've picked up River of Teeth, which was given to me by bookcrosser Fleebo earlier this year. Alternate history, with hippo farming in Florida. Cowboys with hippos, not horses. It's off to a good start. :) (I chose this one because I saw the cover of her new book - Magic for Liars, https://www.tor.com/2018/09/25/revealing-sarah-gaileys-debut-novel-magic-for-liars/ - and it's pretty gorgeous, and the name rang a bell. And apparently America really did contemplate farming hippos, which is awesome. https://magazine.atavist.com/american-hippopotamus)

87wookiebender
Oct 4, 11:42pm Top

River of Teeth is definitely more a novella than a novel, I finished it yesterday. And moved straight onto its sequel, Taste of Marrow. It's not brilliant, but it's good fun, and I'm enjoying hanging out with this bunch of reprobates. :)

(Which I think was my problem with The Museum of Extraordinary Things, I just didn't care about the characters enough.)

88freelunch
Oct 5, 3:38am Top

I have River of Teeth and Taste of Marrow on my kindle for sometime. Along with an insane number of free (or very cheaply bundled) books I can't imagine I'll ever read. Presumably most eReader owners go though a similar phase.

Busy week, not much time for reading. I'm about halfway through The Ragged Edge Of Night and enjoying it.

Next for me will probably be American King, completing Sierra Simone's New Camelot trilogy.

89wookiebender
Oct 7, 7:40pm Top

I've never packed too many cheap ones onto my eReader (Kindle app on my ancient iPad), although there are a few in there that I picked up because FREE!!!! and I don't think I'll ever actually read. :P I am also a fan of dead tree editions, I hate to get waffly, but it's the vibe. I just like them more.

But I will have to add some soon - a friend keeps on recommending Seanan McGuire's Rosemary and Rue and it's NEVER at the bookshop. (Lots of her other books though.) But while I was at Galaxy Books on the weekend, I did pick up The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter instead and am enjoying that.

The second American Hippo book, Taste of Marrow was slightly better. Both were fun overall.

90freelunch
Oct 7, 8:51pm Top

I ranted against eBooks for years, so now as a late convert I have the urge to evangelise them long after most people have made up their mind one way or another. I like the cheap(er) prices, and I like being able to buy new books without worrying about shelf space. I'm trying to have one dead-tree book and one eBook on the go at all times now, because I have more of the former than I'll ever have time to read, but portability and ease-of-lighting make my kindle a pleasure to use.

I finished The Ragged Edge Of Night. It has been getting a lot of politically motivated negative reviews due to allusions to contemporary American politics in the author's afterword, but it was a great read.

As predicted, I'm now on to American King.

I'm also drawing near the end of Trespassing On Einstein's Lawn, which I'm pretty much reading just to finish it now. At the start of the book I was understanding maybe half of what I read, and retaining maybe half of what I understood, but now it has transitioned to a philosophical bent on high-level physics and I'm reading whole pages where I don't really understand what the author is getting at. But I've come far enough that I want it on my end-of-year "books read" list. :)

91wookiebender
Oct 11, 8:35pm Top

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter was good fun, and I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

Moving onto a book group read, Alan Hollinghurst's The Sparsholt Affair. It was on the longlist for the Man Booker Prize, but didn't make the short list. (He did win for the marvellous Line of Beauty a few years back.) It's quite different from what I've been reading lately. :)

92freelunch
Edited: Oct 18, 10:45pm Top

The philosophy/physics in Trespassing On Einstein's Lawn was pretty much indecipherable by the end, though it was still readable for its memoir bits. I'm pleased with myself for not quitting :)

Concurrently, I read Plague City, a Doctor Who novel featuring last year's TARDIS crew. It was solid. My enduring devotion to Doctor Who has taken a bit of a battering recently, but I usually enjoy the books when I take the time to read one.

I'm about halfway through American King. As mentioned above, it is BDSM romance, not a genre I have much experience with but I'm on the third book the trilogy so I guess it is doing something right.

93freelunch
Oct 19, 1:08am Top

Time for me to vanish again. Writing even a couple of sentences about books is too hard. I've been struggling with what to say about When We Were Kings since Tuesday. It's great... swords'n'sandals fantasy (with no magic or fantastical creatures) about a princess who is sold into slavery as a gladiator.

And this time I won't be slinking back. Happy reading wookiebender and crimson-tide!

94wookiebender
Oct 21, 11:36pm Top

No worries, freelunch, catch you on other forums (fora?). :)

Can I say that The Sparsholt Affair was beautiful? And now I'm slightly peeved with Joanne Harris's The Gospel of Loki for not being as magnificent. (But I think I'm getting suckered in by Loki's rakish charm.)

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