TalkRon still dreams of books and things part 2

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75 Books Challenge for 2019

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Ron still dreams of books and things part 2

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1RBeffa
Edited: Aug 2, 2019, 2:33pm

I normally stick to one thread per year but it gets kind of bloated with the picture loading so I thought I'd do a part 2 this year to carry on. Cats and my garden keep me busy. Here are a few topper pix. Jasper in the Spring garden, my golden torch cactus blooming and Teardrop, a feral kitten who is growing up fast and would like to live here i think.







2RBeffa
Edited: Dec 26, 2019, 10:02pm

I'll keep a list of my books read here. I'm trying to read books from the library or off my shelf or off the nook or kindle app (which has accumulated too many unread books, many of which I haven't even cataloged. sigh). Books are off the shelf unless noted as (L) for library book. I have a new Samsung tablet which I've tied into the library ebook system so most library reads are now ebooks. My goals this year are fairly modest. 60 books and I'll be very happy. I do need to work on the physical books in the house.

On deck:
This is a reminder list of some of the books I'd like to get to this year. I've revised it somewhat from my initial 2019 plans

The Silver Lotus by Thomas Steinbeck
The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng
Crowded Grave and hopefully more in the Bruno, Chief of Police series by Martin Walker, three done
The Mount by Caroline Emshwiller
Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks
Transit to Scorpio by Alan Burt Akers done
20,000 Leagues under the Sea by Jules Verne done
The Princes of Ireland: The Dublin Saga by Edward Rutherford
Natsume Soseki - I Am a Cat
The Bookman's Wake by John Dunning
The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
Alan Furst - at least one book in the Night Soldiers series done read Dark Voyage
E C Tubb - Dumarest 20 Web of Sand
Summer of '42 by Herman Raucher done
Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream by Neil Young
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson pearl rules and DNF
something by Frank Delaney
something by Graham Greene
something by Nevil done read Landfall
Ross Poldark by Winston Graham
Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain
a Louis L'Amour and/or a Zane Grey western done
Downfall by Richard B Frank
Tales of the Fish Patrol by Jack London
Penric and the Shaman: Penric & Desdemona Book 2 by Lois McMaster Bujold Didn't care for the style of this and DNF
Kingfishers Catch Fire by Rumer Godden read a different Rumer Godden book but may still read this one

The books read list for the year:

January
1. Boone: A Biography by Robert Morgan, 3+ stars (L)
2. Transit To Scorpio by Alan Burt Akers 3 1/2 - 4 stars (relative to the genre)
3. The Chosen by Chaim Potok, 2 1/2 - 3 stars
4. Absolutely on music : conversations with by Seiji Ozawa and Haruki Murakami, 3 stars (L)

February
5. The Tenth Man by Graham Greene, 3 1/2 - 4 stars (L)
6. I Met a Traveller in an Antique Land by Connie Willis, 2 stars (L)
7. Wave Without A Shore by C. J. Cherryh, 2 1/2 - 3 stars
8. Summer of '42 by Herman Raucher, 3 stars (re-read)
9. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, 4+ stars (re-read)
10. The travelling cat chronicles by Hiro Arikawa, 3 - 3 1/2 stars (L)

March
11. A Castle Full of Cats by Ruth Sanderson, 3 1/2 - 4 stars (children's picture book with rhyming words)
12. The Crowded Grave by Martin Walker, 3 1/2 stars
13. Bruno and the Carol Singers AKA "Bruno and le Père Noel: A Christmas Story" by Martin Walker, 2 1/2 stars
14. The 1986 Annual World's Best SF edited by Donald A Wolhein and Arthur Saha, 3 - 3 1/2 stars
15. A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 by Simon Winchester, 4 1/2 stars
16. Permafrost by Alastair Reynolds, 3+ stars (L)
17. Munich by Robert Harris, 4 stars (L)

April
18. Isaac Asimov Presents The Great SF Stories 8 (1946) by various authors, edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg, 3 1/2 stars
19. Inkling by Kenneth Oppel, 4 stars (L ebook)
20. Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan by Vonda N. McIntyre, 4 1/2 stars (rated for the genre)
21. Yesterday's Echo by Matt Coyle, 3 1/2 - 4 stars
22. A breath of air by Rumer Godden, 3 1/2 stars

May
23. The Good Son: A Story from the First World War, Told in Miniature by Pierre-Jacques Ober (Author), Jules Ober (Illustrator), Felicity Coonan (Illustrator), 4 stars
24. Isaac Asimov Presents The Great SF Stories 1 (1939) by various authors, edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg, 2 1/2 - 3 stars
25. Bird Box: A Novel by Josh Malerman, 4 + stars (almost 4 1/2) (L ebook)
26. The Germans in Hawaii by Bernhard Lothar Hormann, 4 stars
27. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, 3 stars (L ebook)
28 Star Trek the Magazine: Volume 3, Issue 03, July 2002
29. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker, 3 1/2 - 4 stars (L ebook)

June
30. The Universe Against Her by James H Schmitz, 2 1/2 stars
31. The Exile by Pearl Buck, 3 stars
32. The Mother by Pearl Buck, 4 stars
33. The Stamp Collector: There and Back Again by D. Andrew Brooks, 3 1/2 - 4 stars
34. Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard, 5 stars (L)

July
35. Valiant Ambition by Nathaniel Philbrick, 3 1/2 stars (L)
36. GO: A Coming of Age Novel by Kazuki Kaneshiro, 2 1/2 - 3 stars (L)
37. Recursion by Blake Crouch, 3 1/2+ stars (L)
38. Just One More Thing: Stories from My Life by Peter Falk, 3 1/2 - 4 stars
39. West by Carys Davies, 3 stars (L)
40. Summer Hours at the Robbers Library: A Novel by Sue Halpern, 3+ stars (L)
41. Catfantastic II anthology with various authors edited by Andre Norton and Martin H. Greenberg, 4 stars (rated for the genre)
42. No Cats Allowed (Cat in the Stacks Mystery Book 7) by Miranda James, 2 1/2 - 3 stars (L)

August
43. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines, 4 stars
44. Inventing Japan 1853-1964 by Ian Buruma, 3 1/2+ stars
45. Valley of the Sun by Louis L'Amour, 3+ stars
46. Gettysburg: The Paintings of Mort Kunstler by James M McPherson and illustrated by Mort Kunstler, 3 - 3 1/2 stars
47. The Kobe Hotel by Saito Sanki, translated by Saito Masaya, 3 1/2+ stars
48. Spectrum 5 A Science Fiction Anthology edited by Kingsley Amis and Robert Conquest, 2 1/2 stars
49. Wondrous Beginnings anthology by various authors, 3 1/2 stars
50. Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine Nov./Dec. 2018 various authors edited by Linda Landrigan, 2 1/2 stars

September
51. Asimov's Science Fiction: Vol. 36, No. 7 (July 2012) various authors edited by Sheila Williams, 3 1/2 stars
52. Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz: Three Adventures by Garth Nix, 4 stars
53. Pavane by Keith Roberts, 4 - 4 1/2 stars
54. The 1982 Annual World's Best SF Various authors, an anthology edited by Donald A Wollheim and Arthur Saha, 3+ stars
55. Dark Voyage by Alan Furst, 4 stars
56. Landfall original title: Landfall: A Channel Story Nevil Shute, 3 stars

October
57. The 1988 Annual World's Best SF Various authors, an anthology edited by Donald A. Wollheim, 3 1/2+ stars
58. End of the megafauna : the fate of the world's hugest, fiercest, and strangest animals by Ross D. E. MacPhee and illustrated by Peter Schouten, 3 stars (L)
59. The Flowers of Vashnoi by Lois McMaster Bujold, (L)
60. The Crucible by Arthur Miller, introduction by Christopher Bigsby
61. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

November
62. Twenty Thousand Leagues Beneath The Sea by Jules Verne
63. Diary of A Dead Man on Leave by David Downing

December
64. The Devil's Cave by Martin Walker
65. Asimov's Science Fiction: Vol. 36, No. 9 (September 2012) various authors edited by Sheila Williams
66. The Second Sleep by Robert Harris
67. Asimov's Science Fiction: Vol. 36, No. 12 (December 2012) various authors edited by Sheila Williams
68. Point Reyes Peninsula: Olema, Point Reyes Station, and Inverness by Carola DeRooy and Dewey Livingston

3RBeffa
Edited: Dec 21, 2019, 6:20pm

I'll keep the list of favorite books from each year of my life here. These aren't necessarily my favorite books per se, but at least one favorite published in each year I have lived. I'm hoping to do a few re-reads from this list

1953 Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore
Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement
1954 The Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata (Japanese publication)
1955 The Quiet American by Graham Greene
The Darfsteller (novella) by Walter M Miller Jr
1956 The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
1957 Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
1958 The Time Traders by Andre Norton
1959 Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
1960 Trustee From the Toolroom by Nevil Shute
1961 Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson
1962 King Rat by James Clavell
R is for Rocket by Ray Bradbury
1963 Way Station by Clifford Simak
Judgment on Janus by Andre Norton
1964 A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
1965 Dune by Frank Herbert
All Flesh is Grass by Clifford Simak
1966 Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
1967 Dumarest series (Winds of Gath is the first) by E C Tubb
1968 A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Demon Breed by James H Schmitz
Once an Eagle by Anton Meyer
Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
Hawksbill Station by Robert Silverberg
1969 Pavane by Keith Roberts
Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock
A Boy and His Dog by Harlan Ellison
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
1970 Time and Again by Jack Finney
Ringworld by Larry Niven
1971 Summer of '42 by Herman Raucher
The Winds of War by Herman Wouk
Rich Man, Poor Man by Irwin Shaw
Dragonquest by Anne McCaffrey
1972 Watership Down by Richard Adams
The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov
1973 Protector by Larry Niven
1974 The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
The Inverted World by Christopher Priest
1975 Shogun by James Clavell
Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow
Black Sunday by Thomas Harris
Doris Day: Her Own Story by Doris Day and A. E. Hotchner
1976 Roots by Alex Haley
Trinity by Leon Uris
The Bicentennial Man by Isaac Asimov
Houston, Houston Do You Read? by James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Sheldon)
Dragonsong/Dragonsinger/Dragondrums trilogy by Anne McCaffrey
1977 The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
The Gameplayers of Zan by M A Foster
1978 The Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett
War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk
1979 The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
Blind Voices by Tom Reamy
Sandkings by George R.R. Martin
1980 The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel
Dragon's Egg by Robert Forward
1981 Cujo by Stephen King
1982 Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan by Vonda N. McIntyre
1983 The Burning Mountain: A Novel of the Invasion of Japan by Alfred Coppel
Yesterday's Son by A C Crispin
1984 Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard
West of Eden by Harry Harrison
1985 Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
Ishmael by Barbara Hambly
1986 Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
1987 Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons
1988 The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks
The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper
1989 The Girl at the Lion d'Or by Sebastian Faulks
1990 The Lies of Silence by Brian Moore
The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry
Tower of Babylon by Ted Chiang
1991 Boy's Life by Robert R. McCammon
Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold
1992 Brave Companions: Portraits In History by David McCullough
Fatherland by Robert Harris
Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
1993 The Giver by Lois Lowry
Streets of Laredo by Larry McMurtry
The Hedge, the Ribbon by Carol Orlock
1994 Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
1995
1996 Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
California Fault by Thurston Clarke
1997 Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Into the Forest by Jean Hegland
1998 Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang
Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam
1999 Plainsong by Kent Haruf
2000 The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
2001 On Mexican Time by Tony Cohan
Jackdaws by Ken Follett
Tales from Earthsea Ursula K LeGuin
Wish You Well by David Baldacci
Kingdom of Shadows by Alan Furst
New Light on the Drake Equation - novella by Ian R. MacLeod
2002 Train Dreams: A Novella by Denis Johnson
2003 Pompeii by Robert Harris
2004 March by Geraldine Brooks
Dark Voage by Alan Furst
2005 A Crack in the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester
Spin by Robert Charles Wilson
Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Ordinary Heroes by Scott Thurow
2006 The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire, Book 1) by Naomi Novik
2007 The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng
The Terror by Dan Simmons
Coal Black Horse by Robert Olmstead
Zoo Station by David Downing (US publication)
2008 Dreamers of the Day: A Novel by Mary Doria Russell
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking bk. 1) by Patrick Ness
2009 Homer and Langley by E L Doctorow
Shannon by Robert Delaney
Love and Summer by William Trevor
The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw
The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking bk 2) by Patrick Ness
2010 Potsdam Station by David Downing
Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking bk 3) by Patrick Ness
2011 Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard
11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
The Martian by Andy Weir
2012 Sutton by J.R. Moehringer
Son by Lois Lowry
Coming of Age on Barsoom by Catherynne M. Valente
The Death Song of Dwar Guntha by Jonathan Maberry
2013 Transatlantic by Colum McCann
2014 All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Sentinels of Fire by P. T. Deutermann
Bird Box: A Novel by Josh Malerman
2015 Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
2016 A Hero of France by Alan Furst
Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson
2017 Men Without Women: Stories by Haruki Murakami
2018 Munich by Robert Harris
The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
2019 Diary of A Dead Man on Leave by David Downing

4RBeffa
Aug 2, 2019, 3:55pm

One of the books I just finished, the anthology Catfantastic II had some funny bits in it. Here is a quote from the opening of the story "Of Age and Wisdom" by Roger C Schlobin. It seems to fit my photo of Teardrop above ... "There are few tales that remain of the ancient times when dragons and cats ruled the Earth and humanity was no more than a stirring in the genes of screeching monkeys."

5ronincats
Aug 2, 2019, 4:32pm

Happy New Thread, Ron! Love the quote and the photos.

6drneutron
Aug 3, 2019, 8:12am

Happy new thread!

7weird_O
Aug 3, 2019, 11:18am

A second thread. Good good. Lots of lists that I enjoy ambling through. Have a good weekend.

8RBeffa
Aug 3, 2019, 11:53am

>5 ronincats: >6 drneutron: >7 weird_O: Thanks for the greets Roni, Jim and Bill. I really like lists on friends threads, Bill, to get a sense of someone's likes and of course for new ideas. Not that I need any new ideas ... I'm doing terrible on my planned reads shelf mostly because I have been getting so sidetracked with library books. My shelf of TBR this year has hardly budged and only gotten bigger with a handful of book ideas sneaking in.

And here is one more list I forgot to update and carry over from the prior thread - my list of favorite reads so far this year ...

Fiction:
1. Munich by Robert Harris
2. Bird Box by Josh Malerman
3. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
4. Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan by Vonda N McIntyre
5. A Breath of Air by Rumer Godden
6. Recursion by Blake Crouch
7. The Mother by Pearl Buck
8. The Stamp Collector: There and Back Again by D. Andrew Brooks
9. The Crowded Grave by Martin Walker

Non-Fiction
1. Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard
2. A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 by Simon Winchester
3. Boone: A Biography by Robert Morgan
4. Just One More Thing: Stories from My Life by Peter Falk

Favorite anthologies:

1. Catfantastic II edited by Andre Norton and Martin Greenberg
2. The 1986 Annual World's Best SF edited by Donald A Wolheim and Arthur Saha

Fiction re-reads:

1. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Best fun read:

1. Transit To Scorpio by Alan Burt Akers

9jnwelch
Aug 4, 2019, 9:21am

Happy New Thread, Ron!

Nice garden photos up top, including Jasper and Teardrop.

It did my heart good to see Stars My Destination on your favorites each year list. That one's always had a special place in my heart, and led me to read The Count of Monte Cristo, which I also loved.

I hope you enjoy The Garden of Evening Mists as much as I did when you get to it. We should be getting a new book from him some time soon, I would think; it's been a long time.

10RBeffa
Aug 4, 2019, 11:45am

>9 jnwelch: Good morning Joe. Glad you enjoyed the pix. I've read somewhere that books you read in your early teens, or about from age 12-15, leave an extraordinary imprint. I think that would be the case with Stars My Destination - I was probably about 14. I've enjoyed re-reads of it a couple times, but not in recent years. I'm way overdue to revisit a number of old favorites. I don't think I've actually read Count of Monte Cristo other than a heavily abridged version in my youth. I should fix that.

I am very much looking forward to Garden of Evening Mists.

11FAMeulstee
Aug 4, 2019, 5:56pm

Happy new thread, Ron, lovely pictures at the top.
And I am a fan of scrolling through lists, to see what I have read and what I want to read.

12PaulCranswick
Aug 5, 2019, 8:49pm

Happy new thread, Ron.

13figsfromthistle
Aug 5, 2019, 10:06pm

Happy new thread! Love the toppers :)

14RBeffa
Aug 5, 2019, 10:42pm

15RBeffa
Aug 6, 2019, 5:39pm

This was a re-read for the American Author challenge. (I had actually forgotten I had read this many years ago but recognized it immediately when I started it)

43. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines, finished August 6, 2019, 4 stars

Part of the premise of this story bothers me a little, but Ernest Gaines is always worth reading. A simple man commits a crime of opportunity but he is swept up in a much more serious crime, murder of a shopkeeper. He shouldn't have been sentenced to die, but in 1946 rural Louisiana he is. Lots of people get away with murder, but not this simple man, who didn't even commit murder.

Gaines gives the reader a lot to think about throughout the story, in technique as well as questions, questions both big and small. Questions such as the following which comes about a quarter ways in and is the thoughts of the teacher, Wiggins, who teaches children up to 6th grade in the local colored school and has been given the task of teaching the condemned man Jefferson before his death. Some older men have dropped off a wagon load of timber at the school, and the older children have gone to work sawing and chopping up the wood needed for the school stove to keep them war, Looking at his schoolchildren, Wiggins: "And I thought to myself, What am I doing? Am I reaching them at all? They are fifty years younger, maybe more, but doing the same thing those old men did who never attended school a day in their lives. Is it just a vicious circle? Am I doing anything?

That's one of the small things to think about. There are bigger ones.

I have a few problems with the book. One of the bothers is that we don't meet Jefferson, the imprisoned man, before the moment of crime.

It is a tough trip getting through some of this, but the last 30 pages make the journey worth it.

16m.belljackson
Aug 7, 2019, 1:54pm



Today is a perfect day to start Let the Great World Spin = August 7, 1974 is its Great performing day!

Also, a new U.S. Grant book, Vicksburg, will be released soon from Simon and Schuster.
It sounds promising, but at $35 hardcover, I'll be waiting for Abe.

17RBeffa
Aug 7, 2019, 2:29pm

>16 m.belljackson: What an excellent idea for my next book. It is sitting there waiting. And today is my birthday as well. Who knew August 7th would be so cool?

18ronincats
Aug 7, 2019, 2:50pm

Well then, best wishes for a very Happy Birthday, Ron!

19RBeffa
Aug 7, 2019, 5:56pm

>18 ronincats: Melanie and I had a very nice birthday lunch with our daughter at a newish bakery cafe. So thank you for the birthday wish.



>16 m.belljackson: Marianne, I've already started on Let the Great World Spin. I'm so glad you reminded me.

20RBeffa
Aug 8, 2019, 5:12pm

Well, Great World Spin rather quickly showed itself to be much too bleak for me coming after A Lesson Before Dying. I need something different. I'm going to nibble on some non-fiction perhaps. Something not dark.

21m.belljackson
Aug 8, 2019, 8:40pm

>20 RBeffa:

Yep - just thought you'd enjoy the coincidence of the day -

FIND MOMO is a good break!

22RBeffa
Aug 11, 2019, 1:59pm

I've been ignoring my Japan reading. Not even a Murakami this year. Need to fix that. I've had an interest in Japan and the Japanese people since I was young. I'm not sure why. It isn't samurai night fever. This is a non-fiction book.

44. Inventing Japan 1853-1964 by Ian Buruma, finished August 11, 2019, 3 1/2 - 4 stars



A very interesting but brief overview of the creation of modern Japan with a focus on the years from 1853 (when Perry sought to "reopen" Japan via gunboat diplomacy) through 1964 when Tokyo hosted the Olympics. Let me emphasize brief, because this is like an outline or a sketch. I wanted more information about almost everything. Lots of stuff here and names thrown around with little detail. However I did appreciate being able to get an overall picture and organized look at the changes Japan went through. The author does have some strong opinions as well.

There are a few places where the author loses me in his rush through history, but plenty of places where the information just makes me roll my eyes or boggles my mind. The way the Japanese Constitution was created in 1946 is one of those mind boggles. The way that assassination of public figures was seemingly a constant throughout the pre WWII history also boggles my mind.

Japan continues to fascinate me. I'll never understand it. The instructive bibliography included gives me much fodder for further reading. I have several of the books discussed. This is a book that sparks interest in a subject. I've put a hold at the library on another book by this author.

23m.belljackson
Aug 12, 2019, 9:06am

Hi -

Here's another book, this time fiction with U.S. Grant on the cover: SURRENDERING APPOMATTOX by Jacob Appel.

Halfway through, it's fun and enlightening in the strangest of ways.

24RBeffa
Edited: Aug 12, 2019, 11:06am

>16 m.belljackson: >23 m.belljackson: Hi Marianne. I went through a US Grant reading phase some years back, pre-LT. I was most impressed with Grant's own Personal memoirs of US Grant . Actually it was a Civil War reading phase and I read quite a few books on it in the 90's mostly. The Grant memoirs is really a big and detailed book and I have considered a re-read. I have a number of Civil War books on hand including books on Gettysburg, The Wilderness and Chancellorsville among others that I should get to. I haven't read any Civil War books in quite a while - I generally like the books that focus more on the people involved rather than battle details. I see that the author is giving away ebook copies of Surrendering Appomatox in members giveaway. I'm glad you are enjoying it. I'll take a pass only because I should work on my books on the shelf before getting more. (I'm not sure I'm up for a Civil War satire!)

25m.belljackson
Aug 12, 2019, 12:05pm

>24 RBeffa:

Re: "Civil War satire" - nor was the main character!

26RBeffa
Aug 12, 2019, 3:41pm

Pulled a book off of the read this year shelf, a collection of Louis L'Amour stories published posthumously in 1995, Valley of the Sun. Read the first story, enjoyable for what it is. Felt like a 1950's western.

27RBeffa
Aug 13, 2019, 6:05pm

One more off the TBR shelf. I enjoyed this. I think most or all of these stories appeared in a variety of Western magazines in the 1940's and 1950's

45. Valley of the Sun by Louis L'Amour, finished August 13, 2019, 3+ stars



The are eight million stories in the naked west and this is nine of them. Simple entertainment. Big iron. Good guys, bad guys, and a pretty girl (usually with a double barreled shotgun).

The included stories are: We Shaped the Land with Our Guns • West of the Pilot Range • When a Texan Takes Over • No Man's Mesa • Gila Crossing • Medicine Ground • Valley of the Sun • That Slash Seven Kid • In Victorio's Country

I think 'Medicine Ground' was the only story I didn't care for. It features 'The Cactus Kid' who is apparently a recurring character in some of L'Amour's short stories. The initial tone of the story was different than the others. L'Amour is telling the tale with a sort of snarky humor (presumably the Cactus Kid's worldview) and there are a few funny lines but the story suffered for it. Other readers may love that one.

All of these stories are great on the descriptions of the landscape and setting, which I can say is L'Amour's real strength. I'm sure anyone who likes L'Amour would enjoy this collection.

28RBeffa
Aug 15, 2019, 2:49pm

Marianne's comments about US Grant books got me browsing my TBR history books. I can't remember when I got this book but it was quite some time ago. I've had it many years but I didn't buy it new and I think I only picked it up because I liked both the movie and McPherson. I've browsed it in the past but never gave it a proper read until now.

46. Gettysburg: The Paintings of Mort Kunstler by James M McPherson and illustrated by Mort Kunstler, finished August 15, 2019, 3 - 3 1/2 stars



This book was published about 25 years ago (1993) to coincide with the Turner Broadcasting film "Gettysburg". A little sticker on the front of the book tells me it is a companion to the movie. I thought the movie was quite good.

Martin Sheen, who played Robert E Lee in the film, writes a nice foreword to the book. The artist Mort Kunstler whose paintings and drawings illustrate the book also writes an introduction. What I really liked about the book is the text that gives a concise summary of people and events prior to the battle of Gettysburg in the American civil war and then a more detailed description of the battle itself. If you have read Michael Shaara's magnificent book "The Killer Angels", a 5 star book if there ever was one, then you know the story of Gettysburg, and the film was based on Shaara's novel. The text by historian James McPherson that accompanies the paintings is also excellent and serves as a very good introduction with plenty of details to the people and events of the battle and how it was the turning point of the Civil War. The paintings are nice (but war art is really not 'my thing') but it is McPherson's writing that makes this a good read.

This book may not find favor in today's world where the mere whiff of a confederate battle flag sends people over the edge. The paintings tend to the heroic side of things, but the message to me from this book is that it shows people on both sides of the battle and what they did. It strikes me as very balanced. Some people may not like that. The flags of both sides of the conflict are incorporated in many of the paintings. If the sight of the stars and bars offends you, then read something else. On the other hand, perhaps the most heroic portrait in the book is of the Union commander Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, sword raised high with the Union flag as his background. You can see that image here if you like: https://www.mortkunstler.com/product_images/403_2.jpg

29RBeffa
Aug 17, 2019, 12:57pm

47. The Kobe Hotel by Saito Sanki, translated by Saito Masaya, finished August 17, 2019, 3 1/2+ stars



This book was published in 1993 as a translation. There are 15 short stories primarily from the 1950's and then the last quarter of the book is nearly 400 Haikus from the early 1930's until the author's death in 1962. There is an interesting introduction to the author at the start of the book which had me noticing as I read how much of the stories may have been based on real life events. The stories start in 1942 at The Kobe Hotel in Japan. I found them very atmospheric and interesting. These are really slice of life stories in a setting that most people would be completely unaware existed.

The author began as a writer of Haiku for many years before writing stories. We are told he was unconventional. Many of the Haikus had me going hmmmmm ... I can't say they amazed me but there are many intriguing bits throughout the collection.

Here are a couple to sample, chosen nearly at random - I opened to a page and these were the first three on that page:

Fish hiding,
her breasts appear,
the rock island.

In the May darkness
the beacon
harmonizes with my breath.

Cold moon -
leaving me, my
pee shines.

Both the stories and the Haiku were worth reading and encourage me to explore other Japanese writers.

30ronincats
Aug 18, 2019, 2:41pm

I would think the challenge of translating haiku to be almost insurmountable!

31RBeffa
Aug 18, 2019, 2:54pm

>30 ronincats: I know! Translated they certainly don't fit the 5/7/5 sound pattern no matter how you stretch it. I think the translator worked hard at these too. So I think we get the original "images" presented from the original Haiku. But there would be no way to translate that in most cases to a similar cadence. So we have little poems to illustrate just how offbeat this writer was!

32RBeffa
Aug 20, 2019, 8:07pm

48. Spectrum 5 A Science Fiction Anthology edited by Kingsley Amis and Robert Conquest, finished August 20, 2019, 2 1/2 stars



Spectrum 5 was the fifth and final book of an annual anthology series that ran from 1961 to 1966. This, the 1966 edition, contains 8 stories of varied length that were first published between 1952-1958. 7 of the stories first appeared in Astounding Science Fiction Magazine, (and certainly bear the John W Campbell imprint) and one (Student Body) in Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine. Noted British author and critic Kingsley Amis co-edited all 5 books in the series. He co-writes a spirited essay to open this collection which is oddly entertaining as he rails against other critics and also instructs the reader as to why science fiction is what it is, and isn't, and barely touches on the stories in this anthology. So why were these particular stories collected here? Who knows. Not I.

The included material is (adapted from ISFDB):
9 • Introduction (1966) • essay by Kingsley Amis and Robert Conquest
15 • Student Body • (1953) • novelette by F. L. Wallace
39 • Crucifixus Etiam • (1953) • short story by Walter M. Miller
61 • Noise Level • (1952) • novelette by Raymond F. Jones
107 • Grandpa • The Hub • (1955) • novelette by James H. Schmitz
134 • Mother of Invention • (1953) • novella by Tom Godwin
195 • The Far Look • (1956) • novelette by Theodore L. Thomas
229 • Big Sword • (1958) • novelette by Paul Ash (Pauline Ashwell)
276 • Commencement Night • (1953) • novelette by Richard Ashby

So, 60-65 years on, are these stories still enjoyable and worth the read? I'd say yes and no. The stories vary in interest and some were pretty boring. The first story is a very '50s old-fashioned exploration team type story, but the anthology picks up briefly with Walter Miller's Mars tale 'Crucifixius Etiam'. I probably would have enjoyed this book more if I read it in 1968. Even then, with stuff like Dangerous Visions cutting new ground back then these stories would have felt old-fashioned. I did enjoy James Schmitz's story "Grandpa". I may have read that one long ago. It is set either on the same world as his novel "The Demon Breed" or one very much like it. Nice alien water ecology story. Similarly, I think it was the interesting alien ecology as well as good characters that pulled me into Pauline Ashwell's "Big Sword".

33RBeffa
Aug 26, 2019, 8:24pm

My DAW book for August, this is DAW# 1245. I wasn't in the mood for a novel so another short story collection got picked.

49. Wondrous Beginnings Various authors, a Science Fiction anthology edited by Steven Silver and Martin Greenberg, finished August 26, 2019, 3 1/2 stars

Greenberg was a rather maniacal creator of anthologies. His name appeared on a bewildering number of anthologies as co-editor for many years. I have to think that he came up with the idea and the co-editor did all the work. He came up with a lot of good themes such as that Catfantastic one I just read. I like the idea for this collection - the first published science fiction or fantasy story "the stories that launched the careers of such science fiction masters as ..."

Wikipedia tells me "he compiled 1,298 anthologies and commissioned over 8,200 original short stories" from 1974 through 2011, the year of his death. Despite that I've read or owned less than 10 of the anthologies according to my Librarything numbers. I wouldn't count that as a certain number but I clearly have not read enough of Greenberg's anthologies to judge his skill at it. I thought the authors selected were a little odd, although I couldn't help but be impressed at the quality of the first published stories.

The stories in the 2003 collection range from 1919 to 1997 in chronological order. except Anne McCaffrey's is oddly out of place. The stories are (adapted from ISFDB):

13 • Introduction to Wondrous Beginnings • (2003) • essay by Steven H Silver
15 • Introduction to "The Runaway Skyscraper" • (2003) • essay by Betty Dehardit
17 • The Runaway Skyscraper • (1919) • novelette by Murray Leinster
59 • Introduction to "The Isolinguals" • (2003) • essay by L. Sprague de Camp
60 • The Isolinguals • (1937) • shortstory by L. Sprague de Camp
79 • Introduction to "Freedom of the Race" • (2003) • essay by Anne McCaffrey
80 • Freedom of the Race • (1953) • shortstory by Anne McCaffrey
83 • About "Proof," of Course • (2003) • essay by Hal Clement
84 • Proof • (1942) • shortstory by Hal Clement
101 • Loophole • (1946) • shortstory by Arthur C. Clarke
101 • Introduction to "Loophole" • (2003) • essay by Arthur C. Clarke
108 • Deadeye: Writing "The Dead Man" • (2003) • essay by Gene Wolfe
109 • The Dead Man • (1965) • shortstory by Gene Wolfe
114 • Introduction to "We're Coming Through the Window" • (2003) • essay by Barry N. Malzberg
116 • We're Coming Through the Window • (1967) • shortstory by Barry N. Malzberg as by K. M. O'Donnell
119 • Introduction to "The Hero" • (2003) • essay by George R. R. Martin
123 • The Hero • (1971) • shortstory by George R. R. Martin
136 • My (Other) World and Welcome to it: Writing "Lunchbox" • (2003) • essay by Howard Waldrop
141 • Lunchbox • (1972) • shortstory by Howard Waldrop
147 • The Origin of "Ender's Game" • (2003) • essay by Orson Scott Card
157 • Ender's Game • (1977) • novelette by Orson Scott Card
196 • Introduction to "The Emerson Effect" • (2003) • essay by Jack McDevitt
198 • The Emerson Effect • (1981) • shortstory by Jack McDevitt
216 • The Writing of "Much Ado About Nothing" • (2003) • essay by Jerry Oltion
217 • Much Ado About Nothing • (1982) • shortstory by Jerry Oltion
232 • Introduction to "Barter" • (2003) • essay by Lois McMaster Bujold
235 • Barter • (1985) • shortstory by Lois McMaster Bujold
244 • Introduction to "The Xeelee Flower" • (2003) • essay by Stephen Baxter
245 • The Xeelee Flower • Xeelee • (1987) • shortstory by Stephen Baxter
255 • Introduction to "Dance in Blue" • (2003) • essay by Catherine Asaro
256 • Dance in Blue • (1993) • novella by Catherine Asaro
278 • Introduction to "TeleAbsence" • (2003) • essay by Michael A. Burstein
280 • TeleAbsence • (1995) • shortstory by Michael A. Burstein
298 • Introduction to "First Contact Inc." • (2003) • essay by Julie E. Czerneda
299 • First Contact Inc. • (1997) • shortstory by Julie E. Czerneda

I think what surprised me most here is how well done the first story was for 1919 - one hundred years ago - although the theory of what happened and how to fix it was just too screwball. Still, "The Runaway Skyscraper" impressed me. I was also very pleased to re-read the original Ender's Game. The original Ender's was a long short story and I read it when it was newish in the late 70's either in a Year's Best collection or a magazine. I had scarcely been reading science fiction for several years and it absolutely revived my interest in the genre. It amazed me then and still impresses me.

I won't detail my reactions to most of the stories. Each one comes with an intro, usually by the author, that varied in interest. For Hal Clement, an author I like, I was surprised that both his intro and the story were not enjoyable to me. Most of these intros are very good to terrific, giving us a little glimpse back in time to the author's life. They are the best part of this book. Orson Scott Card writes a very long intro to Ender's Game, giving us a look at his early life and the long path to the story that became Ender's Game. It is also a disturbing read as prejudices and beliefs ooze out even when they aren't brazenly put forth. Creeped me out. I stopped reading Card's stories a long time ago and I still think Ender's Game was one of the best stories to come out of the late 70's but I'll never seek out another one of Card's stories.

I loved George R. R. Martin's intro to "The Hero" in which he also gives us a glimpse at his early life leading to be a writer and the publication of "The Hero". The story itself was pretty good for a first story. Howard Waldrop's intro was also very good. I also enjoyed Jack McDevitt's "The Emerson Effect", a story I would not have encountered without this book. It only appeared in a Rod Serling's Twilight Zone issue of December 1981. Stephen Baxter's short but sweet "The XeeLee Flower', about a small alien artifact that allows the finder to survive a nova was a fun read.

34swynn
Aug 26, 2019, 8:51pm

>32 RBeffa: "Crucifixus Etiam" is the only one I recognize. I haven't read it in ages, but it made a strong impression on me.

>33 RBeffa: I recall "The Isolinguals" very vaguely but positively; "The Loophole" but only for its gimmick; and "Ender's Game," which I enjoyed very much when I first encountered it, though I haven't been tempted by Card's work for years and your comments reinforce that sentiment. The Martin, McDevitt, and Baxter sound tempting: I read and enjoyed Baxter's Raft a while ago, but haven't returned to the series, of which (I think) "The XeeLee Flower" is a part.

35RBeffa
Edited: Aug 26, 2019, 11:36pm

>34 swynn: "Crucifixus Etiam" is the best story in the Spectrum anthology and it had that hint of familiarity which made me think I may have read it a long time before. I have the original 1953 issue of Astounding that it first appeared in.

ETA: This writer was disappointed with the turn at the end, as I was. https://doomsdayer.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/miller-walter-m-crucifixus-etiam-195...

"The Isolinguals" is kind of a cute story but I couldn't help but feel there was a clever idea that could have been handled better. Overall this is a really good anthology. You have something to look forward to with this one. The only three stories I didn't care for were the ones by Clement and Bujold which really surprised me, and the one by Czerneda which just did not click with me. (I'm actually surprised that Bujold's short was published anywhere but it made it into a Rod Serling TZ issue (like McDevitt's)). I also really liked Asaro's "Dance in Blue." An impressive debut.

36RBeffa
Edited: Aug 31, 2019, 7:50pm

I picked this digest magazine up early this year. Thought I would see if I was missing anything. My impression is, not really. Years ago I read the occasional Ellery Queen magazine but I don't think I ever tried Hitchcock, for no reason in particular.

50. Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine Nov./Dec. 2018 various authors edited by Linda Landrigan, finished August 31, 2019, 2 1/2 stars



I'll just give this an OK. Mild entertainment from a simple mix of a dozen mostly mystery stories. Some nice story ideas. A couple even let me think, that's a bit Hitchcock. My two favorites were "Bite The Dragon" by Martin Limón and then the cover story "Leah" by Julie Tollefson, which I think of as a mild horror tale. Limón has written quite a few novels that look interesting so I may check other books by him in the future. My local library has two of them. That's the positive side of reading short story collections, to get a sample of an author. On a tough subject, "Fear of the Secular" by Mitch Alderman was also done well.

The quality of the writing in some stories could have used an editor's hand and keeps me in part from rating this higher.

37RBeffa
Sep 2, 2019, 1:55pm

I went to the library and picked up Martin Limon's latest novel since I had enjoyed his story in the Hitchcock magazine. Not sure when I will get to it.

Maybe it is me but it feels like there's a noticeable drop off in active LT participation.Not just a summer snooze but over time people I have followed are no longer posting updates, adding reviews,books etc. Makes me a little sad. Obviously there are still some very active people but I wonder if folks are letting go of LT in favor of Twitter, FB, etc.

38RBeffa
Edited: Sep 3, 2019, 7:10pm

I have five issues of the Asimov's digest magazine from 2012 that I have not read or browsed, from July through December 2012. Time to work on them.

51. Asimov's Science Fiction: Vol. 36, No. 7 (July 2012) various authors edited by Sheila Williams, finished September 3, 2019, 3 1/2 stars



The included fiction is:
• Old Paint • novelette by Megan Lindholm
• The Girl in the Park • shortstory by Robert Reed
• Fix • poem by Gord Sellar
• Kill Switch • shortstory by Benjamin Crowell
• Alive and Well, A Long Way From Anywhere • novelette by Allen M. Steele
• Zip • shortstory by Steven Utley
• Bird Walks in New England • shortstory by Michael Blumlein
• Terraformations • poem by Robert Frazier
• Long Night on Redrock • novella or novelette by Felicity Shoulders

This issue has the sort of stories that I enjoy in the magazine. First off, Robin Hobb using her Megan Lindholm pen name reminds me how much I enjoy the Lindholm stories. "Old Paint" is set in the middle of the 21st century I'd guess, and 'Old Paint' is a vintage car from the 2020's. A woman's great grandfather has died and left the car to her (and her pre-teen and teenage kids). Let's call this future nostalgia since the car is quite future modern by our standards. There is a multi-generation family story in here and under this wrapper a tale about the smart cars of the future and what might happen when the hackers hack the smartcars. Editors Gardener Dozois and David Hartwell both selected "Old Paint" for inclusion in their annual "Year's Best" anthologies.

Robert Reed's "The Girl in the Park" is another good one. The prolific Reed writes very good stories and I am rarely disappointed. This story is set in a rather ruined future.

By the third story I was wondering if this was something of a theme issue, where in the future, future tech has a downside, or unintended consequences. However, the remaining stories mixed it up.

Allen Steele (an author who rarely disappoints me) delivers an impressive glimpse of a future about 50-80 years from now regarding solar system exploration but at a very down to earth, human level. I really liked this one all the way to the end.

When finished, I decided that my two favorite stories were the novelettes by Megan Lindholm and Allen Steele as a very close 1/2 rank. I thought the weakest was the short story "Bird Walks in New England" by Michael Blumlein, primarily because it was very much out of place with the other stories. It is a relationship story with only a slight SFnal element. I think something like the old Ladies Home Journal with the "Can this marriage be saved" column might have been a good choice for "Bird Walks in New England". The cover story and longest story in the issue, "Long Night on Redrock" was close to novella length. Not really my cuppa but I can guess that some readers would enjoy it more than I did.

What impressed me was that there was not a bad story in the bunch. How Refreshing.

39laytonwoman3rd
Sep 3, 2019, 5:27pm

>37 RBeffa: I don't know if I've noticed a drop-off in participation here. Maybe you've been following people I don't follow. But I can't imagine FB or Twitter scratching the same itch. They could never replace LT in my life. (Have you visited MY thread lately?)

40RBeffa
Sep 3, 2019, 6:00pm

>39 laytonwoman3rd: I know, it seems a silly thought as some threads such as yours seem busier than ever. I do visit - every so often when you post a Susan Hill review it is a reminder to me that if the day ever comes that I need a new mystery series, that is on my short list.

41ronincats
Sep 3, 2019, 6:02pm

Thanks for the commiseration on my thread, Ron. Internet and phone service is back up!

The Megan Lindholm stories are my favorites, especially the Ki and Vandien books!

42ronincats
Sep 3, 2019, 8:01pm

Oh, which one of Nix's are you reading now, Ron? I love his Abhorsen books except for Clariel, liked the Keys to the Kingdom series but felt the last two books fell off, thought Frogkisser! was a hoot, thought several others were okay and not been impressed by a couple of them.

43drneutron
Sep 3, 2019, 8:07pm

>40 RBeffa: if I go by number of messages, we’ve been holding pretty steady since the early spring, which is pretty typical. But there have been some notable MIAs over the summer, some of which are starting to drop in again. It might be interesting to do a deeper dive into the data, but I’d have to find the time...

44RBeffa
Sep 3, 2019, 9:24pm

>43 drneutron: I'm not really thinking # of messages Jim. The 75ers seem pretty active. Altho there are a few 75ers who seem to have dropped out or really reduced their posts this year (such as Calm, Faith and Caro to name a few). I'm noticing it more on my connections feed with some people who have been very active in the past with large libraries have just stopped doing things here. These tend to be scifi connections because of the large # of scifi books I have, bit also others who I have starred and followed in prior years who just are not present this year.

>42 ronincats: I dropped a note on your feed Roni: Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz: Three Adventures

45calm
Sep 4, 2019, 3:55am

I'm still around; just lurking this year:) And on for my own thread I'm only updating my books read post.

46RBeffa
Sep 4, 2019, 10:18am

>45 calm: Well that's a nice surprise to find your post this morning! I thought you hadn't posted since the beginning of the year. Threads don't show a new post when an edit is done so I had not realized you were updating your reading list. My bad. I see you read the Megan Lindholm Windsinger series. I never read the later books, so I should revisit the whole series one day. Roni loves it - see >41 ronincats: I want to reread Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars series one day also. The first two books in it were some of my favorite reads in the 90's.

47calm
Sep 4, 2019, 10:35am

>46 RBeffa: You mentioned my name:)

I like Robin Hobb/Megan Lindholm. In the Windsinger series my favourite is the second and I was not so happy with the last one. KSR's Mars series stood up to re-reading for me.

48RBeffa
Edited: Sep 6, 2019, 3:03pm

>47 calm: The 2nd Windsinger book was also my favorite of the first two. I don't recall if I finished the third one although I know I had the book. I have the Inheritance collection of Hobb/Lindholm stories that I never fully read, just reading a story here and there. I need to give it a full read.

52. Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz: Three Adventures by Garth Nix, finished September 5, 2019, 4 stars



I fell for this book almost instantly as the writing is so clever it hits all the right spots. There are three stories here, ranging from short to novella length. They are:
Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz Go to War Again (2007)
Beyond the Sea Gate of the Scholar-Pirates of Sarsköe (2008)
A Suitable Present for a Sorcerous Puppet (2010)

I read these in a signed and numbered limited edition from Subterranean Press which has a lovely wrap around cover.

Sir Hereward at first appears to be something of a skilled and educated knight and beau brummel (but so much more) and Mister Fitz is a puppet, magically animated, and these are their travel adventures in godslaying. Although I have the book, one can buy the kindle edition at the moment for all of 99 cents and those pennies would be well spent I'd say for a bit of pleasurable reading. The wordplay back and forth between the two characters especially at the start just made me happy. By the end of the first story we have learned who Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz are, and there are some surprises. There is a sad edge to the stories as our "heroes" go forth. The puppet Fitz really caught my fancy and the author does a very good job creating unique characters.

Recommended for fans of darkish fantasy, I really enjoyed this and it will make it into my top reads of the year.

ETA: Several more stories have been published in the last couple years. I'll be looking for them.

49weird_O
Sep 5, 2019, 1:44pm

>37 RBeffa: Participation is one of those wax-and-wane phenomena, is it not? As a socially challenged introvert, I find myself lurking more than participating. I scan through postings in a thread, get to the "Add a message" box, pause...pause...pause, and think, "I got nothing."

I guess my excuse for reduced participation is being turned inward.

50drneutron
Sep 5, 2019, 8:56pm

Wow, the Nix book looks great!

51RBeffa
Sep 5, 2019, 9:44pm

>49 weird_O: You've been plenty active Bill. I am much more of a lurker on most threads than a participator. I just can't keep up with all those i have an interest in and have also reacted like you with going to post a comment about something and realizing that it was all talked out about 50-100 or more posts before so I rarely end up with a comment. But you keep your thread current and add your own posts and reading.

>50 drneutron: I was genuinely surprised at how much I liked it Jim. Just very well done. Not for everyone tho. If cannibal pirate captains might offend ...

52RBeffa
Sep 8, 2019, 10:52am

I just realized that the entire moth of August I read books off the shelf. I have been reading a lot of library books this year but August got a pass. This is partly because I got hit with a bout of Plantar fasciitis in my left foot bout 3+ weeks ago and although it seems to be very much on the mend now it is still keeping me mostly at home and off my feet. That probably accounts for my increased reading in August as well.

I did go out to the library yesterday because i wanted to find another Garth Nix story about Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz. The anthology "Rogues" from 2014 has one, edited by George R R Martin and Gardner Dozois. So last night I read "A Cargo of Ivories" by Garth Nix. I loved being back with the duo but also I thought this story was not as good as the first two in the book I just read, and just a smidge better than the third. I do hope Nix puts out another book of stories about that pair of characters one day.

The Rogues anthology is huge - 20 something stories and over 800 pages. I thought maybe I should read the whole thing. However, the first story by Joe Abercrombie put me off very fast. I just do not like his writing even though I have tried him several times. But I'll read on because there are a lot of authors in the book that I like.

53RBeffa
Sep 12, 2019, 10:57am

In the pre-internet days it wasn't as easy as it is now to sift through new book releases and find the gems. I depended on trial and error, friends recommendations and especially book reviews in the magazines. A long time ago, in the October 1982 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine Baird Searles reviewed the novel "Pavane". Similarly, in the November 1982 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine that featured the debut of David Brin's novella "The Postman", Baird Searles reviewed the novel "Eyas" by Crawford Kilian. They were such a compelling reviews that I added the books to my watchlist to pick up some day as I browsed the Berkeley and greater Bay Area bookshops. I did find them and then put them in a box for storage and the years went by. 30some years later about all I could remember of these was that they were "good books" I should read. Then last year I read a short story by Keith Roberts titled "The Signaller" in the anthology Modern Classics of Fantasy and I liked it so much I knew I really needed to read Pavane. I decided it was time to visit this classic, and I am glad that I did. As it turned out, I discovered I had read the two first stories in the novel - both "The Lady Margaret" as well as "The Signaller" which represent about one-third of the book. This will be somewhere near the top of my favorite reads of 2019.

Now I need to find where I put "Eyas".

53. Pavane by Keith Roberts, finished September 12, 2019, 4 - 4 1/2 stars



Pavane is a classic alternate history tale. The novel is essentially a series, lightly interwoven, of novelettes and a novella, and most of the chapters were published individually in magazines in 1966, and then the novel was created and published in 1968 in the UK and 1969 in the United States. There are six primary stories as well as a prologue and coda. Each chapter gives us a different view of the alternate world beginning in 1968 when the story begins. The stories told are personal stories of lives lived in this alternate world, subtly interwoven.

The basic setup premise here is that the Protestant reformation didn't succeed and the Catholic Church's allies captured England and overturned things in mainland Europe. There are quite a few detailed reviews here on LT and elsewhere that cover various aspects of this novel in more detail then I would or could. The stories in this book are very good and put the reader fully into an imagined history that never was. Each segment pulls the reader into different lives and stories that are both heartbreaking and heartwarming to varying degrees. All in all a very satisfying read. A good knowledge of English places (which I lack) would probably have heightened my enjoyment. It would be difficult to not think there was an anti-catholic agenda or bias behind this, because the message is that papal supremacy would consciously hold the English/European world back from progress. At least for a long time. Oh, let us not forget the inquisition because the book does not let us forget it. One of mankind's finest moments to be sure.

"The Signaller" is a terrific chapter in the book. In this tale, the story of the early life and early death of a young boy who joins the signal corps, one becomes immersed in this imaginary England and this story alone is a 5 star read with a touch of magic that breaks your heart.

Another chapter, "Brother John", moves us forward to the alternate 1985 in which the inquisition still reigns and witnessing it drives Brother John into madness and yet it ignites in him a rage that spreads and we get the first hints that the people are going to actively rebel against the papist overlords. Another heartbreaking story. In fact I can say that every chapter is full of heartbreak.

In a very unique way this is a magnificent book. Recommended and I would especially recommend this to readers of historical fiction.

54m.belljackson
Sep 12, 2019, 1:47pm

>53 RBeffa:

Maimonides notes carefully how the Catholic Church held back any advances in Medicine for many, many centuries.
It claimed that disease indicated sin and so could only be relieved with the assistance of a priest.
Muslim and Jewish physicians had to work around this and were often summoned by Christian leaders for help.

55brodiew2
Sep 12, 2019, 2:41pm

Hello Ron! I hope all is well with you.

>28 RBeffa: This sounds like a great book. The Killer Angels is perhaps my favorite novel ever, but I have a hard time speaking such superlatives. On the flip side, the film Gettysburg did not live up to Shaara's novel. Sheen, who I like as an actor was too recognizable in the roll and the depth of Longstreet's feelings did not translate to film as well as I would have liked. And, I love Tom Berenger.

When it come to war art, I think it can go in many directions; one of which is heroic. That's ok by me.

I would love to discuss Shaara's book further. Or have we done that already? :-P

56RBeffa
Sep 12, 2019, 3:33pm

>54 m.belljackson: I've heard that before Marianne, although not with respect to Maimonides. There are at least two places in the book 'Pavane" where this is evident and mentioned. The coda section to the book, remembering that this is fiction and fantasy, has an explanation for why the Catholic Church did what it did in the world of the book. Reading reviews some people have quite diverse reactions to the coda - but I found it an interesting wrapup.

>55 brodiew2: We have discussed Killer Angels before Brodie. Although I have read it twice I have not read it since about the time of the movie. I agree that the film did not live up to the book. I'm not sure I have a favorite book ever anymore, because my short list of five favorites I have not read in decades. However, The Killer Angels would be in there vying for the top spot without a doubt. Next year I'm going to try and get a lot of re-reads in. I usually only do just a couple each year, because of course there are so many books I have not read. We'll see.

Thanks for dropping by. I've missed your presence on LT.

57RBeffa
Sep 18, 2019, 5:44pm

My DAW book for September, this is DAW #480. I've been going through a lot of scifi and fantasy lately so I need to move onto other books now that this one is done. I'm a little burned out. Mysteries, thrillers, historical fiction and non-fiction are calling my name.

54. The 1982 Annual World's Best SF Various authors, an anthology edited by Donald A Wollheim and Arthur Saha, finished September 18, 2019, 3+ stars



Wollheim's Year's Best anthologies (with the assistance in most years of Arthur Saha) were my bread and butter reading over many of their 26 years of issuance (1965-1990). This one has ten OK to very good stories, as follows:

Introduction (1982) • essay by Donald A. Wollheim
Blind Spot • (1981) • shortstory by Jayge Carr
Highliner • (1981) • shortfiction by C. J. Cherryh
The Pusher • (1981) • shortstory by John Varley
Polyphemus • (1981) • novella by Michael Shea
Absent Thee from Felicity Awhile... • (1981) • shortstory by Somtow Sucharitkul
Out of the Everywhere • (1981) • novelette by James Tiptree, Jr.
Slac// • (1981) • novelette by Michael P. Kube-McDowell
The Cyphertone • (1981) • shortstory by S. C. Sykes
Through All Your Houses Wandering • (1981) • novella by Ted Reynolds
The Last Day of Christmas • (1981) • novelette by David J. Lake

I won't detail each story, but there are very good stories in here mixed with some that didn't ring my bells much, which is expected of virtually all anthologies. Won't name a favorite story in here as each has different strengths. There is very much a theme of alien first contact in these tales. I did notice a tendency to paint ship's captains as inflexible and/or not so bright so that the crewmember can be proven right or save the day. "Blind Spot" by Jayge Carr certainly starts the collection off well with this story of a blind artist and the doctor obsessed with trying to restore his patient's vision. Very different. One of the few non-alien stories, "The Pusher" creeped me out with the sexual predator tone that was implied. However there was a twist and we were intentionally misled, and it was a little different than expected. It won the Hugo Award in 1982 for best short story in 1981. Really? Me, I didn't think it was that good and this wouldn't be the first Hugo award winner to make me wonder why.

Another non-alien story, Cherryh's 'Highliner' puts us into the far far far future New York - the sun has begun to die and yet the Cityscraper that is New York builds and builds. There are special people who build and maintain and this is about them, and also about that part of human nature that apparently hasn't changed in the least. My least favorite story in here was the novella 'Polyphemus' a heavily science based story set on another world. What didn't work for me were the interpersonal relationships which were critical to the story. I felt like the story went on far too long.

Each of the remaining stories was interesting. A few quite thought provoking even when they didn't really succeed.

58m.belljackson
Sep 19, 2019, 1:00pm

>44 RBeffa:

Responding to your mention of LT people we miss hearing from:

first, the couple in Seattle who had health challenges and were planning to move closer to family in Florida

2. storeetlier - the photographer/gardener who moved to New York from the West

3. majleavy, the California teacher/professor who lead an LT group reading of And the Earth Did Not Devour Him -
it would be great to have him guide people through THE ARTFUL UNIVERSE, which is challenging even in the Preface

4. and have seen only rare posts from the woman who was so rudely treated because she did not know
that the author of the thread was not originally from the South - the same person also advised us that he
was more likely to believe the story of a woman's rape IF it happened to more than one woman...Anita Hill, anyone?

So glad that people who were sick have returned and wish Everyone the best of physical and mental health in yet another impossible year.

59RBeffa
Sep 19, 2019, 2:05pm

>58 m.belljackson: Real life intrudes often enough. I've been less active browsing threads too, with even fewer comments. I've noticed majleavy missing for quite some time - we shared a number of books including titles in that World's Best series I just read. He showed up for a long time in that list we get of "Members with your books" until our libraries managed to differ enough plus others joining and bumping people off the list.

------------------

Last evening I started just a bit of Dark Voyage by Alan Furst, one of the authors I included in my TBR list in >2 RBeffa:. I have yet to be disappointed with one of his historical fiction spy/thriller books. Furst is such a good writer.

60Jeanie_K
Edited: Sep 19, 2019, 2:19pm

That sounds the sort of book I'd love to read. I'll have to find myself a copy.

Although not a fan of cats, I love those photographs of your garden. My local botanical garden has very similar cacti to those with the blooming flowers here.

Regarding SF, I need to revisit science fiction. First of all I want to revisit Valis, and secondly The Martian Chronicles. I just can't find my copy of either! I don't remember if I ever had a copy of the latter or whether I read it at my high school library. That was far back in the day.

>53 RBeffa: Pavane sounds like something I'd like to try reading. I've always held that orthodox Christianity, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, held back the world terribly as it is.

61RBeffa
Sep 19, 2019, 2:56pm

>60 Jeanie_K: Thanks for dropping by. I love the cactus flowers. I have a small cactus that is perhaps 10 years old that is going to bloom for the first time any day now. It has three huge flower spikes coming out from three trunks. It is only about 18" tall but it is going to put on a show!

If Pavane sounds the least bit interesting please give it a try. My local library has it on the shelf under general fiction. I'm glad they've held on to a copy for people to discover.

I'd forgotten about Valis. That was a wild novel I probably never understood in my 20's. I have some of Dick's books to get through for the first time. I re-read man in the High Castle not too long ago. I should put one of his novels on my 2020 TBR list. I've re-read The Martian Chronicles several times over the decades - part of it is terribly aged but parts are still magnificent. I hope you do revisit it. There are two versions of it (at least). Here's a tease:

One minute it was Ohio winter, with doors closed, windows locked, the panes blind with frost, icicles fringing every roof, children skiing on slopes, housewives lumbering like great black bears in their furs along the icy streets.

And then a long wave of warmth crossed the small town. A flooding sea of hot air; it seemed as if someone had left a bakery door open. The heat pulsed among the cottages and bushes and children. The icicles dropped, shattering, to melt. The doors flew open. The windows flew up. The children worked off their wool clothes. The housewives shed their bear disguises. The snow dissolved and showed last summer's ancient green lawns.

Rocket summer. The words passed among the people in the open, airing houses. Rocket summer. The warm desert air changing the frost patterns on the windows, erasing the art work. The skis and sleds suddenly useless. The snow, falling from the cold sky upon the town, turned to a hot rain before it touched the ground.

Rocket summer. People leaned from their dripping porches and watched the reddening sky.

The rocket lay on the launching field, blowing out pink clouds of fire and oven heat. The rocket stood in the cold winter morning, making summer with every breath of its mighty exhausts. The rocket made climates, and summer lay for a brief moment upon the land ....

62m.belljackson
Sep 20, 2019, 10:38am

We've lost a major player in the field of handmade books, paper, poetry, and letterpress with the death of Walter Hamady
last week. An online Search yields impressive results - he originated The Perishable Press here in Wisconsin.

His former wife, who started The Press with him, now lives near you in Berkeley and has her own Quelquefois Press.

63RBeffa
Edited: Sep 25, 2019, 12:44pm

>62 m.belljackson: Handmade books never caught my attention. I do like several small presses though, which is something else.
---------------------------------------

Time for one of my favorite authors.

55. Dark Voyage Alan Furst, finished September 25, 2019, 4 stars



Furst writes immersive, atmospheric historical fiction set around the beginnings of the second World War. This one is before the United States has entered the war and the Germans have been absolutely devestating merchant ships that England depends on. Starts slow and not a page turner for quite a while but don't let that scare you off as a reader. You get some setup and background that people would decry was missing if it wasn't there. When was the last time you had dinner in Tangier?

If you want a WWII espionage novel different than most, here you go. This is a seagoing one. Holland was overrun by the Germans and a Dutch merchant vessel is sometimes repainted and reflagged to appear as a Spanish freighter. Characters come and go and I didn't quite connect to the characters as I usually do, other than the Dutch Captain who I became quite fond of as the story unfolds. I don't want to reveal important elements of the story, but I hope I meet the Captain again in a later book. I really admired him and will miss him. At the end of the novel we do not know the fate of the Captain and crew.

64m.belljackson
Sep 25, 2019, 12:06pm

>63 RBeffa:

If it ever comes your way (now quite expensive even on Abe), you might enjoy seeing,
reading, and turning the handmade pages of Walter Hamady's The Quartz Crystal.

65RBeffa
Sep 28, 2019, 3:43pm

Time for another one of my favorite authors. This one is set roughly during the same time (beginning several months earlier) as the book I just finished, Dark Voyage. It is however a love story, a love in the time of war story, and yet in part it is still a war thriller like Dark Voyage. I did like the appearance of a Dutch freighter and Captain near the end who more or less provides a key bit of information that helps save the day and tied this nicely to my prior read. Not, however, one of Shute's best works.

56. Landfall original title: Landfall: A Channel Story Nevil Shute, finished September 28, 2019, 3 stars



This novel dates to 1940 both in the time of the story and the year it was published. Although the story is fiction it appears to resemble a true event where a British RAF pilot bombs a submarine that is not German but British (http://www.nevilshute.org/nl060401.html) . Whether true or not the story has a similar starting point and is well told. You get a very clear picture of how it was for the channel patrol pilots in the first months of the war. Here a channel patrol pilot bombs a submarine in the English channel and the Navy believes that the pilot bombed a British submarine in error although the pilot was pretty certain it had no British markings. The naval inquiry board decides to throw the pilot under the proverbial wheels based on evidence they knew was suspicious because a British sub has gone missing in the area that the pilot made his attack. Stuffy military types outweigh the more sympathetic ones. Eventually the young pilot is proven right thanks to the smarts of his girlfriend who puts the pieces together. Shute has a number of books written in this time period that really gives one insight into what it was like in WII with a lot of attention to small details of everyday life as well as the stuff of war. That is the value of this book. This is also a war romance which isn't a bad thing but did not pull me in.

I almost took off half a star because of a lengthy section that recklessly endangered the pilot in the development of a secret weapon. It sounds like it was some kind of proximity fuze and endless (meaningless) details were gone over and over until the pilot was critically injured. This book did come out at the start of the war so the Brits were not about to give away secrets to the enemy here so I'm sure whatever was really going on was not going to be told in detail to the reader. However, as the book plays it, doing these tests with a finicky bomb ready to kill the pilot was crazy, even in the time of war. It made little to no sense as described.

As much as possible the book has an ending that is "happy".

---

And, since that will be my last book of the month, September is done and looking at my 2019 reading so far I am finding myself satisfied with almost all of the books. My goal for the year is about 60 books and I'm on track to do much better, maybe even close to 75 after all. I still have a couple of really big ones I would like to read.

Top Ten Fiction:
1. Pavanne by Keith Roberts
2. Munich by Robert Harris
3. Bird Box by Josh Malerman
4. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
5. Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz: Three Adventures by Garth Nix
6. Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan by Vonda N McIntyre
7. A Breath of Air by Rumer Godden
8. Dark Voyage by Alan Furst
9. Recursion by Blake Crouch
10. The Mother by Pearl Buck

Top Five Non-Fiction
1. Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard
2. A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 by Simon Winchester
3. Boone: A Biography by Robert Morgan
4. Inventing Japan by Ian Buruma
5. Just One More Thing: Stories from My Life by Peter Falk

Favorite anthologies:

1. Catfantastic II edited by Andre Norton and Martin Greenberg
2/3. The 1986 Annual World's Best SF edited by Donald Wolheim and Arthur Saha
2/3. Wondrous Beginnings edited by Steven Silver and Martin Greenberg

Fiction re-reads:

1. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
2. A Lesson before Dying by Ernest Gaines

Best fun read:

1. Transit To Scorpio by Alan Burt Akers

66RBeffa
Sep 28, 2019, 5:22pm

It is almost Bradbury October. Each October for the last several years I have read or more often re-read one or more of Ray Bradbury's books. I did a huge marathon of them in 2015. Excluding his mystery stories I am running out of Bradbury's to read or re-read. There is however a book of his poetry at the library that I might check out. I also have just a couple left here at home that I have not read. I also have Something Wicked This Way Comes which I am unsure if I have read. I think not. Other than a re-read of Fahrenheit 451, it would be his last major work for me to tackle or re-tackle as the case may be. So I'll likely read Something Wicked sometime in October, or I may surprise myself.

67RBeffa
Oct 1, 2019, 3:02pm

Jasper, the puzzler's helper

68laytonwoman3rd
Oct 1, 2019, 9:30pm

>67 RBeffa: You'll never finish that one!

69RBeffa
Edited: Oct 3, 2019, 10:28am

>68 laytonwoman3rd: He did make things difficult. After the photo he lay down sideways and stretched out knocking pieces off the table here and there. He was not going to move. Later on he did and I got to work on the puzzle and looked for missing pieces. At the end I was still missing a piece. grrrr

eta: the missing piece was found.

70RBeffa
Oct 3, 2019, 7:04pm

First up for October is my DAW book read, and this is DAW #747. Last month I read the 1982 "World's Best" science fiction and here we jump to 1988. These particular DAWs (Donald A. Wollheim) books will keep me busy for a while. I read many when they were new and many I never read but acquired them in later years. Reading them now gives me an interesting look back on the times. This series ran from 1965 to 1990, ending with editor Wollheim's death in November 1990. Most of the later books in the series included 10 stories, but that number did vary sometimes.

57. The 1988 Annual World's Best SF Various authors, an anthology edited by Donald A. Wollheim, finished October 3, 2019, 3 1/2+ stars



Here we have another 10 stories selected by the editor(s). The 1988 edition highlights stories from 1987. Something calling itself the World's Best I would expect to be the best. This collection surprised me - it was more thoughtful and dare I say literary? Oh, there is plenty of science fiction in this, but also a more thoughtful punch behind the ideas.

I would normally rate this as 3 1/2 stars but I've given a thought to 4 stars because there are several excellent stories in the collection, despite a draggard or three. So my top two favorites - Kate Wilhelm's story "Forever Yours, Anna" which won the 1988 Nebula for best short story. A very nice story about a graphologist who is tasked with finding out who Anna is based on letters she wrote to a scientist who died in an explosion. This little mystery was a story about lives and loves and it led to a very neat finish. My other top favorite in the collection is "Rachel In Love" by Pat Murphy. "Rachel" won the 1988 Nebula for best novelette (and also the Sturgeon award). I first read the story in Asimov's science fiction magazine in 1987, and I've read it a couple times in the intervening years. It is one of my favorite sci fi short stories. I'll say nothing more, except here is the start of what is actually a very serious story (and it veers wildly and gets very sad after this cute start but has a sweet finish) ...

"It is a Sunday morning in summer and a small brown chimpanzee named Rachel sits on the living room floor of a remote ranch house on the edge of the Painted Desert. She is watching a Tarzan movie on television. Her hairy arms are wrapped around her knees and she rocks back and forth with suppressed excitement. She knows that her father would say that she’s too old for such childish amusements—but since Aaron is still sleeping, he can’t chastise her.

On the television, Tarzan has been trapped in a bamboo cage by a band of wicked Pygmies. Rachel is afraid that he won’t escape in time to save Jane from the ivory smugglers who hold her captive. The movie cuts to Jane, who is tied up in the back of a Jeep, and Rachel whimpers softly to herself. She knows better than to howl: she peeked into her father’s bedroom earlier, and he was still in bed. Aaron doesn’t like her to howl when he is sleeping."

An "interesting" is one set in the far future, "Dinosaurs" by Walter Jon Williams. These are not T Rex dinos. This is a look at the future of humanity eight or nine millions of years of evolution in the future. It is rather bizarre and interesting. The being that calls itself human ...hmmm. A little too bizarre for me to say I liked it.

So there are good stories in here. One of the better DAW collections, and six of the ten stories here also were included in Gardner Dozois's much larger collection (28 stories!) of best stories of the year. I always find myself thinking, these can't be the ten BEST, can they?

71RBeffa
Edited: Oct 8, 2019, 12:00pm

A plug for this very recent book in the March-April 2019 issue of Sierra magazine (Sierra Club) whet my appetite and put this on my watchlist, so I picked it up on my last visit to the library. Having just finished the book this morning these are my immediate reactions. I might rewrite this a bit after giving the book some more thought.... which I have done, just a bit.

58. End of the megafauna : the fate of the world's hugest, fiercest, and strangest animals by Ross D. E. MacPhee and illustrated by Peter Schouten, finished October 6, 2019, 3 stars



This is a frustrating book that I could have "loved" but did not. A combination of things makes this frustrating, not the least of which is the layout of the book. The paintings in here of lost species by Peter Schouten are wonderful ("are utterly absorbing and alone are worth the book's price" - Jason Mark, Sierra). One of my frustrations is that the book doesn't provide answers. There has been more evidence in the last 50 years but no conclusions. So, the book basically is about evidence for and against, or the lack of evidence, for various ideas. For folks like me who wanted to learn more about megafauna, the illustrations are wonderful but in most cases I think readers would want more information about these extinct species. Many just get a mention.

In "near-time" to use the authors choice of an expression, megafauna across the world went extinct, and did so rather rapidly (there is one theory that the American extinction happened within 400 years). Probably the most commonly held belief and one I have had for a while is that the expansion of human populations is the main event that led to the rapid disappearance and extinction 12,000+ years ago with only a few isolated remnant populations lasting closer to modern day. There are some competing theories and it seems to me that the author just doesn't want to buy "Mankind did it" all by itself or even as the main factor, although he certainly agrees that man is causing the current sixth extinction in progress. I was hoping for some convincing arguments about how much climate change or some other factors contributed to the loss of giant mammals, particularly in North America. One does not have to believe that humans hunted the great creatures to death or near-death, but although there are a number of competing ideas, it is primarily climate changes vs. man's "overkill" theories at odds and I think those who don't want to believe man did it are just in denial. Certainly climate changes, ice ages, could and undoubtedly did play a part, but there weren't mass extinctions after the great ice age - the megafauna and most species moved and lived through it. I am probably more convinced that the death of the megafauna was merely the start of the man induced sixth extinction. I've never really completely bought the mass overkill theories developed and popularized by Paul S. Martin - instead of buffalo jumps there is little evidence of mammoth or mastodon jumps or mass kill sites (but they do exist and I recall that there are some mammoth kill sites in Arizona that Paul Martin discussed in his book and they are tied to the Clovis people). But I do agree with the thrust of Martin's theories. The author here decries the lack of mass kill sites and seems to dismiss the evidence of Clovis points associated with kills. But then again, how many buffalo death sites do you happen across in your everyday travels or billions and billions of dead passenger pigeons? That's the problem - a lack of evidence despite the advances in radiocarbon dating and other techniques.

Well, you won't find an answer here, but you will find food for thought. I think the author tries a bit to have an answer. The big problem is that there is a lack of definitive evidence. There aren't photos on the wall of Grok and spear atop the giant sloths or killing mammoth or mastodon calves. (Then again, there are those cave paintings in France and Spain but those are dated 30,000 to 40,000 years ago long before the extinction events). New evidence confounds old beliefs. Maybe the Clovis people who are blamed for most of the destruction of the magafauna in North and South America were not the first peoples in America and maybe they were only around for a very short period of time. Why did some species survive the megafauna period of extinction only to die out later? Then again there are places and times where mankind clearly and rapidly drove a species to extinction or near extinction (think Dodo Bird, American Bison, passenger pigeon, all the flightless birds in New Zealand) and you know that thoughtless death drive is deep in the human psyche.

The layout of this book makes reading and understanding a chore in many places with much back and forth flipping through the pages. I'm tempted to rate this less or more than an average 3 stars but the the strengths and weaknesses compete, so 3 stars it is.

For those interested, there are many articles in science publications that can be sought out, and informative sites on the internet. I found this one interesting: http://www.discoverseaz.com/History/PaleoInd.html

ETA: I've been re-reading a bit and looking through the extensive footnotes. The author has a nice bibliography. I think I'm going to leave my rating/review pretty much as it is. I see plenty of reviews online praising this as a balanced book. To me, reading it (with my own bias at play I'm sure) I just repeatedly saw the author trying to bring up possible examples of humans arriving somewhere earlier than the megafauna and other extinctions as a way to discount the hypothesis that the extinctions did not happen when humans of one sort or another first encountered animals in new areas. And yet he acknowledges the documented devastation caused by humans and all their accouterments (rats, pigs, clubs, whatever) in the past hundreds of years with the arrival of Maori in New Zealand, the killings on Mauritius and Madagascar, and even how the American Bison was driven from 35-65 million to a thousand or less in the span of a few decades.

72m.belljackson
Edited: Oct 6, 2019, 3:56pm

>59 RBeffa:

Since majleavy no longer has an active thread, how can we get to his profile?

Thank you for you incisive review of End of the Megafauna.

This month's Sierra Club magazine also had a great review of THE LOST WORDS.

73RBeffa
Oct 6, 2019, 4:21pm

>72 m.belljackson: To find a person I type their screenname into the search box at top right. So put majleavy in there and hit enter. The results on the left side will show members etc. In this case you will find one member and clicking it will show the name and again a click and you go to the profile here: https://www.librarything.com/profile/majleavy .

74RBeffa
Oct 7, 2019, 8:19pm



Although not mentioned in the book above, the California turkey (Meleagris californica) went extinct along with the megafauna about 10,000 years ago. The American wild turkey was also nearly driven to extinction in the last couple hundred years. If you read about it on wikipedia and elsewhere it was thought that the entire remaining population was about 30,000 in the 1930's. It was caused by overhunting and habitat destruction. Aggressive efforts to save the turkey were successful and they were spread and introduced to ever wider areas. We have had them running wild where we live in California. There were six of them on our roof this morning. The photo is one of them.

75ronincats
Oct 7, 2019, 10:59pm

I grew up in the middle of Kansas never seeing a wild turkey, but they are all over the farmlands out there now!

76RBeffa
Oct 8, 2019, 3:43pm

>75 ronincats: As much as I like them they are a bit of a pest at times when they go rooting in the garden for example. They will scratch and rip stuff out of the ground. Last year a flock visited our yard a lot and feasted on my plum tree.

77m.belljackson
Edited: Oct 8, 2019, 6:21pm

>74 RBeffa:

What creatures were or are the wild turkeys natural predator enemies?

Neat photo!

78RBeffa
Edited: Oct 8, 2019, 10:38pm

>77 m.belljackson: Marianne, I would guess that the greatest predator risk for the wild turkeys are against the eggs and the young ones. We have quite a few foxes, raccoons and skunks in the area. Also coyotes sometimes. Last year there were two large hens that visited us = one of the hens had two younger chicks and the older (larger) hen had 4 or 5. Week by week we'd notice chicks were missing. The two youngest were gone first so that the younger hen had no offspring. I think there were two left the last time we saw them being watched by the two hens. One time the flock left a chick behind in our yard (these are not tiny chicks by the way, the smallest was about the size of a chicken). I couldn't catch it and it did not know where to go. I don't know if it ever was found by the mother. It was one of the baby ones.

Here's one of the baby turkeys scrounging around my compost bin in June 2018:

79RBeffa
Edited: Oct 8, 2019, 10:39pm

Here is the flock walking down our street a year ago

80ronincats
Oct 8, 2019, 9:24pm

Your photos aren't showing up for me, Ron.

81RBeffa
Oct 8, 2019, 10:42pm

>80 ronincats: I could see them but I edited the posts and checked the image http. Maybe LT was being a little flaky. I have the two photos in my LT junk drawer. Maybe you can see them now.

82ronincats
Oct 9, 2019, 7:50pm

Yes,I can see them now.

83RBeffa
Oct 10, 2019, 1:57am

>82 ronincats: Good.
------------------

59. The Flowers of Vashnoi by Lois McMaster Bujold, finished October 9, 2019, 3 1/2 stars



Bujold's stories are a bit hit or miss with me. Sometimes I really like or love them and sometimes not. I've bailed on a few. This was a nice but much too short novella, an infill story that I enjoyed more than some of the recent stories. The story IS short, barely what one would consider novella length and feels like just a part of a much bigger story. Bujold has been releasing these short books in recent years. I felt like I was served half a sandwich when I was hungry for a much bigger one.

The telling is a bit twee near the start, but mostly enjoyable. I should probably dip back into the series next year.

84Berly
Oct 10, 2019, 2:36am

Congrats on a stellar year of reading! And I am glad you found your missing puzzle piece. The turkey gang walking down your street is a hoot.

85m.belljackson
Oct 10, 2019, 11:38am

>78 RBeffa:

Thank you for this Baby Turkey photo and your welcome buffet.

{At first, I had its head reversed and thought it was an armadillo.}

We saw six young ones following their Mom into the Wisconsin cornfield several weeks ago - good place to hide, feed, and grow.

86swynn
Oct 10, 2019, 12:04pm

>57 RBeffa:
>70 RBeffa:
I don't recognize any of these stories except for Pat Murphy's "Rachel in Love," which I agree is remarkable. Looking forward to reading the rest when they come up in the DAW project.

>71 RBeffa: Thanks for your extended remarks on this. Too bad it wasn't as good as it might have been.

87jnwelch
Oct 10, 2019, 12:23pm

Hiya, Ron. I'm a sucker for anything Vorkosigan from Lois McMaster Bujold, but I've had that same hit or miss experience with her others.

Have you ever read the Liaden books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller? The first one, for me, is Agent of Change, but others do a different chronological order. It's a good place to start, anyway.

They can drive you crazy with the sloppy writing. I think quondame (Susan) put it well - the authors are too self-indulgent. And yet, and yet . . . the books are an awful lot of fun, and for me, a comfort read right now. I've been reading a bunch of the short story fill-ins that sound similar to Flowers of Vashnoi, and I'm thinking about doing a re-read of the novels from the beginning, flaws and all.

88RBeffa
Oct 10, 2019, 12:24pm

>84 Berly: Thanks for dropping by Kim - I'm glad to see you back on your feet and hopefully trouble free with the knee before too long. I unfortunately tore a stomach muscle a while ago and have the beginnings of a hernia on my waistline so I am going to have surgery on Monday. My Doc thought it best to take care of while I am healthy and before a problem develops. My bopping around will have a short rest I think although I am supposed to be active afterwards - we'll see.

>85 m.belljackson: I'm glad you enjoyed the turkey pix Marianne.

89RBeffa
Oct 10, 2019, 12:48pm

>86 swynn: Thanks for dropping by Steve. The DAW's have been fun for me to visit each month. I just expected more from the megafauna book. It has good stuff in it.

>87 jnwelch: I tried one of the Miller/Lee books a while back and just couldn't get caught up in it. I have Agent of Change and one or two others as ebooks so I might give them a go sometime in the future. I think I'd be better off enjoying (and re-enjoying) some of the Vorkosigan books first. I read Cryoburn completely out of order when it first came out and I thought it a good story but recall that it seemed like the end of the series. Bujold has done a few backstories since. Vashnoi feels like a followup to Civil Campaign and is Ekaterina's version of Miles 'Mountains of Mourning'. You will enjoy it when you get to it.

90jnwelch
Oct 10, 2019, 1:09pm

Oh, thank you re Flowers of Vashnoi. I love Ekaterin, although A Civil Campaign was otherwise a bit over the top for me. I can imagine Cryoburn was an odd one to start with! I did love Miles' Mountains of Mourning.

Trying Agent of Change should tell you whether the Liaden books are for you, from my POV. I immediately got swept up by it, and quickly ate, I mean read, the first five or so novels.

91RBeffa
Oct 10, 2019, 1:34pm

>90 jnwelch: I consciously started reading the Vorkosigan series 10 years ago and Mountains of Mourning was the second one I read following The Warriors Apprentice. I think it is my favorite. I realized after a time that I had previously read some of the stories such as Labyrinth and The Weatherman decades ago in SF magazines (Analog for those I think.) Mountains of Mourning is a better story than Vashnoi but it touches on similar things but from Ekaterin's view. Civil Campaign was rather over the top for a guy.

92laytonwoman3rd
Oct 11, 2019, 12:13pm

We have wild turkey visitors fairly frequently, but as I have nothing interesting in the way of plantings, apparently, they don't bother us. Never had them on the roof!

Good luck with the surgery. My husband has had it twice, no issues. Walking is highly recommended exercise for afterwards.

93RBeffa
Oct 11, 2019, 1:42pm

>92 laytonwoman3rd: Thanks for the good wishes Linda. I'm expecting the repair to go well from everything the doctor said. And the recommendation was for walking afterwards and daily to aid in the healing. Just don't lift anything heavier than 20# for a couple weeks. Dim memories of my appendicitis as a teenager haunt me a little tho.

The turkeys like fruits and berries and bugs and we have all three, so they enjoy scratching stuff up. I did not put in a small vegetable garden this year which was an attractant in the past. Overall we enjoy their visits truthfully. Just not on the roof!

94m.belljackson
Oct 11, 2019, 4:58pm

>93 RBeffa:

Best Wishes on a smooth path with your surgery and hope you will have a brief and pleasant hospital stay.

Good to see people who find the wild turkeys entertaining.

95RBeffa
Oct 11, 2019, 7:24pm

>94 m.belljackson: If everything goes well it will be just a half a day Monday morning. Thanks for the good wishes.

96RBeffa
Oct 19, 2019, 1:52am

My daughter saw me reading this and commented something like "I hated that book"

60. The Crucible by Arthur Miller, introduction by Christopher Bigsby, finished October 18, 2019, unrated



First I must disclose that prior to reading this I was under the impression that it (and the movies I have seen years ago) were as much as possible a true telling of the events in Salem, Massachusetts over three hundred years ago. That is not the case.

The long and extensive introduction to the Crucible in my Penguin edition of the book had the effect of heightening my appreciation of the story, educating me, and also causing me to dislike some of the story by alerting me to elements that Miller had changed from the original story. The play was inspired by a book published a few years before Miller wrote it, "The Devil in Massachusetts" by Marion Starkey (1949). I really liked and learned from Christopher Bigsby's introduction.

The author himself notes that the play is not history in the sense an academic historian would consider and that he hass fused characters and changed ages, etc. Miller provides an excellent opening to set up the unfolding play.

I almost never read plays and so I am not going to give this a rating. I did not enjoy the subject. Perhaps in the far future, in one of those science fiction stories I enjoy reading, we may find a country and world which has outgrown the madness of the story and the present.

97laytonwoman3rd
Oct 19, 2019, 11:17am

>96 RBeffa: It is a very very uncomfortable read, as I recall....and I think I last read it in the Nixon era. Not sure I could deal with it under present conditions.

98RBeffa
Oct 20, 2019, 1:38pm

>97 laytonwoman3rd: To me the story is about nasty and insane people and extreme religious intolerance by a group of people (The Puritans) who fled England because of mutual intolerance there. It certainly doesn't make me a fan of the Puritans. I don't directly connect the story to modern times other than that sense of intolerance to others and greed and covetous behavior which is certainly a continuing stain on the present. The nice intro let me see how the story reflected the McCarthy era (which was before my time except for some diaper days). People have ulterior motives in the play but the cult behavior present then also continues to this day.

It isn't a pleasant read.

I'm looking forward to starting Bradbury's "Something Wicked This Way Comes" today or tomorrow. Have not been in a reading mood post-surgery. Doing lots of music listening.

99m.belljackson
Oct 20, 2019, 5:46pm

>98 RBeffa:

Did all go well with surgery and recovery?

100RBeffa
Oct 20, 2019, 7:23pm

>99 m.belljackson: Tomorrow the bandage comes off so maybe I can faint then. ;) The surgery went very well. I've been up and about since shortly after waking up. I was given a variety of non-opioid pain meds and a regimen and told to take them even if I didn't think I needed to for the first 3-5 days. My pain on a scale of 1-10 has been about a 1. Today I took two tylenols mid morning, mostly as an anti-inflammatory. I'll take another dose shortly and that will probably be it for the day. The worst part of the surgery was the swelling on days 2-3 that I was warned about but it was much worse than I expected. It has been going down since and today I almost feel "normal". I do have to restrict activities, so a lot of my Fall chores are going to be delayed but i was actually gently gathering up some leaves this afternoon for a short bit.

101ronincats
Oct 20, 2019, 9:36pm

Glad the surgery recovery is going well, Ron. Agree that the (free e-book) Agent of Change should be definitive as to whether you want to continue with the Liaden books or not. Loved Something Wicked This Way Comes back in the day, but was surprised when rereading it in the last decade at the floridity of the prose.

102RBeffa
Oct 22, 2019, 1:53pm

>101 ronincats: Thanks for the note Roni. Bradbury's prose is indeed florid - too much at times in some of his works (I couldn't handle The Halloween Tree where he just seemed to be trying way too hard). I finally started Something Wicked this morning and have read about 25 pages. I'll confess to enjoying it a lot even with his over the top writing. It isn't too far gone so far and this book comes from early enough in his career that I'll trust it to not go too far.

103RBeffa
Oct 23, 2019, 10:46pm

A gift from the garden today. The flowers look like an iceplant, but it isn't. It is "Tiger Jaws", Faucaria felina, a native of South Africa.

104RBeffa
Oct 23, 2019, 10:50pm

I was charging through Something Wicked This Way Comes but lost some of my steam. It isn't that long of a book either. More comments when I finish it in a day or two. However, somewhere not far in to the book there is a scene where two boys read a poster blowing down the street like a tumbleweed that tells them the carnival is coming October 24th. That's tomorrow they say. I look at the calendar that tells me it is October 23rd and I wonder how I could have timed this? October 24th, that's tomorrow I say ... and in the pages the dark carnival came.

105ronincats
Oct 23, 2019, 11:03pm

That's uncanny, Ron! I'm almost tempted to jump into the read with you just on the serendipity of that.

106m.belljackson
Oct 24, 2019, 12:37pm

>103 RBeffa:

Beautiful Plant and Photograph - Thank you for your positive energy through these challenging times!

107RBeffa
Oct 24, 2019, 2:28pm

>105 ronincats: It was uncanny Roni. I think my eyes went wide.

>106 m.belljackson: Thank you Marianne. Challenging in many ways. Horrendous fire erupted overnight to the north of us near Geyserville - quite a ways. However, now there is another fire in Santa Rosa at Spring Lake, a place we have visited and enjoyed. Here are some goslings from a springtime visit several years ago.

108ronincats
Oct 24, 2019, 4:38pm

91 here and bone dry as well. I don't see any reports of fires in the county on my newsfeed though, other than the one up in Camp Pendleton that's been going for a couple of days.

109ronincats
Oct 25, 2019, 3:00pm

Update: three new fires going this morning. Only the Ramona one looks serious.

110RBeffa
Edited: Nov 5, 2019, 8:53pm

>109 ronincats: We are getting spot fires in odd places, especially down the coast aways near Half Moon Bay and Pescadero. I can't help thinking homeless encampments are the cause or firestarters are on the loose (as they sometimes are) esp in areas where the power has been cut for safety. Hope you stay safe. We may get our first power cut - I hope not. Nearby is tho.
-----------------

Finished this up at the coffeeshop this morning. Maybe, just maybe I am finally outgrowing Ray Bradbury. That sounds terrible tho.

61. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, finished October 25, 2019, 3 stars



When I first began this I expected to be enchanted and maybe I was for the first 20 or 25 pages. Bradbury is pretty much known for his whimsical and flowery prose and he definately lays it on thick in this book. There are elements of the story I like a lot but I do think Bradbury's penchant for excessively descriptive poetry-like prose got in the way here and slowed the story. In his attempts to create magic and wonder he often just comes across as trying too hard. But some of those prose pictures are delicious. And it is silly for me to criticize this work for doing what Bradbury does.

So I am a little at war with myself over how to rate this. A 3 star average seems mean. I'll call it above average with some handicaps. I didn't really enjoy this like I wanted or expected. I'll also say that this is one of Bradbury's scarier books. The book starts off rather creepy and doesn't back down. But it also stumbles. Read this and enjoy the good parts. The latter part of the book is better than the middle (Which I think I half-slept through - I certainly zoned out).

111RBeffa
Edited: Oct 29, 2019, 12:16pm

File this under cheap thrills for 50 cents.

So I had a bag of donations and dropped them off for the friends of the library. I went over to the book nook to browse for a few minutes. There I spied on the paperback shelf an unused copy of A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. It was a UK Penguin/Arrow edition I had not seen before, and, it was the "Restored Edition" first published a decade ago to great controversy. Well that caught my eye - having loved the original I wondered if I should ever read this modified by the descendants version. But then I looked at the back cover. There at the bottom a store sticker had been placed over the UPC area. The price (Pris) was 11 euros. The store? Shakespeare and Company.
-------------

Meanwhile back at the ranch ...

About 5 years ago I picked up the lovely Heritage Press Edition of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea. I knew I had read the abridged version of the story as a youngster and seen the movie several times. But that was a long, long time ago. A year later I read the awesome novel All The Light We Cannot See and within the story a blind French girl is braille reading a copy of Twenty Thousand Leagues. Her enthusiasm made me want to read my copy right away. I stuck it on my TBR shelf and countless other things kept pushing it aside. Silly me. I finally get to it. I'm about a third done and smiling.

ETA 10/29/19 - Nearing the finish line. Hope to get back to it tonight. Pondering thoughts on Twenty Thousand Leagues.

112m.belljackson
Oct 30, 2019, 2:37pm

Ron - no problem with fires in your vicinity?

113RBeffa
Edited: Oct 30, 2019, 4:58pm

>112 m.belljackson: Rather big scare here on Sunday Marianne. Very nerve-wracking day. The air quality here was been pretty bad also, but today the air feels very clear (and doesn't stink). Sunday morning, early, 8:30 maybe, I saw a big plume of smoke coming up on the other side of a hill a mile or two from us. Cal Fire and the city firefighters and homeowners attacked the fire and stopped it. If it had come over the top it would have been devastating. The fire started at or near the Carquinex bridge and burned up the hill towards us, but didn't come over. It also burned the California Maritime Academy grounds, but only one building there. Here's the news story with pix. https://www.sfchronicle.com/california-wildfires/article/Vallejo-Fire-Interstate.... We live in Glen Cove and someone dubbed it the Glen Cove fire.

Here is a pic I took from our side yard. The bridge is on the left covered in smoke, This was early in the morning not too long after it started. The fire was stopped at the top of the hill.


The fire later leaped across the strait and burned a large area of Crockett. I don't think any homes were destroyed thankfully. They ordered an evacuation of the town. The wind blowing away from us is mostly what saved us. We didn't have embers blowing at us.

The fire bomber planes were flying overhead for hours and there were many helicopters heard but mostly not seen.

114jnwelch
Edited: Oct 31, 2019, 4:55pm

Yikes! I'm glad the fire didn't come over the top, Ron. Sending lots of positive thoughts your way.

I was happy to see you nabbed a copy of A Moveable Feast and that you're reading Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. I read the original of AMF, too, and don't know what to make of the restored (?) version derived from descendants. It sounds worrisome. I loved the originalI read the unabridged TTLUTS as a youngster and loved it, although other Jules Vernes had more of an impact on me, probably because I'd seen the TTLUTS movie, so I was familiar with the story by the time I read it.

AMF makes me think of Charmed Circle by James Mellow, another great book that covers that magical time in Paris (and then some).

115laytonwoman3rd
Oct 31, 2019, 6:42pm

>113 RBeffa: I would find that terrifying, not just nerve-wracking. There is so little that can be done to stop these fires once they get going. I'm very glad you weren't affected by this one. I hope the season will wind down soon.

116RBeffa
Oct 31, 2019, 8:58pm

>114 jnwelch: Thanks for the good thoughts Joe. The fires in the region are coming under control. Besides being intrigued by finding the revised Moveable Feast I was thrilled it came from Shakespeare and Company in Paris. Although the original Shakespeare where Hemingway borrowed books from Sylvia Beach and which plays a small part in the book itself was closed in WWII, the reborn namesake carries on (as you probably know).

I still had a tattered childhood copy of 20,000 leagues and altho it didn't say abridged I could see that it was quite a bit shorter than my hardback copy, maybe 3/4 of the length. Reading a couple chapters I could immediately see that it had indeed been shortened. large sections were identical but getting to places with all the scientific detailing you could find the cutting at work.

Charmed Circle sounds interesting.

>115 laytonwoman3rd: Yes Linda, it is terrifying but seems to be the new normal in California. This is the 3rd year in a row with devastating fires nearby.

117RBeffa
Edited: Nov 3, 2019, 4:08pm

My reading has been at a snail's pace. Plus i have picked up several books from the library, one of which i have had a hold on for months and I need to get crackin.

What follows is more of a commentary and discussion than a review ...

62. Twenty Thousand Leagues Beneath The Sea by Jules Verne, translated by Mercier Lewis, finished November 3, 2019, 3 1/2 stars



Keeping in mind this book was first published in a magazine serial beginning March 1869 (if you want to skip counting on your fingers, that is 150 years ago) by an author generally considered the father of science fiction I had mixed expectations. Childhood memories were somewhat dim about the book. As it happens, the book is something of a delight to read, although with the full edition I kept feeling like I needed scientific books as well as an excellent dictionary to get through some of it. I had to let that go or I would be at this for weeks ... but see later comments below.

The story itself is a grand adventure tale. Surprisingly it ends without true resolution or discovery of who Captain Nemo really is. Within the story itself Nemo is hard to figure given all we go through. The richly illustrated Heritage Press edition greatly added to my enjoyment. However, without actually reading one, I'd suggest that a casual reader would probably be better off with an abridged or edited version of the novel with some of the endless detailing of species carefully excised, or perhaps with a better translation of the novel. Most of the endless scientific detailing did not add to the story and there was a lot of it. There are also places with awkward sentences. I do not know if this was a result of 19th century writing styles, the choice of words by the translator or the translation itself. My copy of the book says the translater is "Mercier Lewis". I did some hunting around and find that this is a sort of pseudonym of Rev. Lewis Page Mercier. His translation was one of the earliest, if not the earliest, and seems to be subject to a fair amount of unflattering criticism. So, despite the loveliness of my edition, and a commonly used translation, a curious reader might want to seek out a better (and newer) translation. I note this remark from wikipedia: "The novel was first translated into English in 1873 by Reverend Lewis Page Mercier. Mercier cut nearly a quarter of Verne's original text and made hundreds of translation errors, sometimes dramatically changing the meaning of Verne's original intent (including uniformly mistranslating French scaphandre — properly "diving apparatus" — as "cork-jacket", following a long-obsolete meaning as "a type of lifejacket"). Some of these mistranslations have been done for political reasons, such as Nemo's identity and the nationality of the two warships he sinks, or the portraits of freedom fighters on the wall of his cabin which originally included Daniel O'Connell. Nonetheless, it became the standard English translation for more than a hundred years, while other translations continued to draw from it and its mistakes (especially the mistranslation of the title; the French title actually means Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas)."

For those intrigued, a lot of info can be found about the book and translations. Here is one place: http://www.self.gutenberg.org/articles/eng/Twenty_Thousand_Leagues_Under_the_Sea

Captain Nemo initially is a very sympathetic although mysterious character. As the book progresses a darker side is revealed with some of his history.

I've read suggestions that this books shows an early sensitivity to the environment but I really didn't get that vibe. It shows an awareness of course but this is more like the world is my oyster and I'll do what and eat what I want sort.

I think I will keep my eyes on the lookout for a modern translation of the novel to read someday.

118RBeffa
Nov 4, 2019, 10:18am

DNF Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton, abandoned November 4, 2019, 1/2 star

This is a big favorite of many readers this year. I couldn't get past the toilet bowl humor. Winnie the poodle gives this 1/2 of a star. otherwise it would be zero. I rarely mention books I give up on quickly but this one got pearl ruled rather decisively. It was probably going to get good ... how could everyone else be right and me wrong? I dunno. I might have thought this funny in 7th grade.

119jnwelch
Nov 5, 2019, 6:02pm

Hollow Kingdom is a Pearl Rule book, seems to me, Ron. Most readers will know quickly whether it's for them or not. I'm one of those who liked it a lot. I don't remember the juvenile humor at the beginning, but the story was a good one for me, and S.T. definitely grew on me. When Mark recommended it to me, he said something like I'll know quickly whether it was one for me or not.

120RBeffa
Nov 5, 2019, 9:13pm

Today we lost an important author. Everyone should read at least one of his books. Thank you Ernest Gaines for what you gave to us. https://www.wafb.com/2019/11/05/famed-louisiana-author-ernest-gaines-dies/

121weird_O
Nov 6, 2019, 12:37pm

Good comments on 20,000 Leagues.... Informative, particularly about the translation. Heritage Press, despite the general attractiveness of their publications, didn't seem to invest in editorial excellence. Find a property in the public domain, hire an illustrator for a modest number of drawings, pay a second-tier scholar to write an intro. Keeping costs down. A book without context.

I wasn't aware the book was originally published as a serial. Think that has anything to do with the inclusion of all the marine biology? As in getting paid by the word, or stretching the story to extend it through more episodes.

Karenmarie posted a link to her review of 20,000 Leagues... from 2008. She read an edition published by the Naval Institute Press, which is a fresh translation with footnoting. Here's the link:

https://www.librarything.com/work/32715/reviews/22932085

122RBeffa
Nov 6, 2019, 2:28pm

>121 weird_O: Thanks for the comments Bill. I remembered that Nemo reappeared in at least one other of Verne's books. He was played by Patrick Stewart in the last version of Mysterious Island that I recall watching. I think leaving his fate unknown was OK for the original story - I was rather bothered by reading of all the editorial changes for political correctness 1870 style that were allegedly made to the book. I'm not eager to read this again especially because of all the scientific detail. It is laid on so thick it may as well be gobbledygook. But if I happen upon a newer translation like Karen read, I will probably not pass it by. In either the intro to the Heritage Press book or elsewhere it was said that all the scientific material was in there to surround the science fiction and make it believable and presumably palatable. This is after all one of the very first books to be considered science fiction.

>119 jnwelch: Joe, I just thought the book dreadful and completely juvenile. My first reaction was that I was overreacting but then I would pick it up, read a few more pages and think "This is even worse than I thought." Skimming later bits did nothing to change my opinion of it. I decided that this was like Beavis and Butthead. A whole raft of people thought they were hysterical. Me, no. I honestly cannot comprehend people liking this book.

123jnwelch
Nov 6, 2019, 4:49pm

>122 RBeffa: Ha! I'm not a Beavis and Butthead fan, but I've been honestly not comprehended by more people than I could possibly count. :-)

124RBeffa
Nov 8, 2019, 12:59pm

>123 jnwelch: Gosh I didn't realize how my comments would come across as a poke at you in particular. Not the case.
----------------------

A new book by an author I like is generally going to make me happy. This one has a chance to squeeze into my top ten of the year list. Quiet echoes of "The Crucible" here.

63. Diary of A Dead Man on Leave by David Downing, finished November 8, 2019, 4 stars



To explain the title I will give you the epigraph from the book: "Correctly anticipating a sentence of death at his trial in 1919, Eugen Leviné, the leader of the Bavarian Soviet, famously announced that "we Communists are all dead men on leave." This proud utterance was subsequently adopted by those agents of the Communist International who worked outside the Soviet Union in the interwar years."

The story begins in April 1938 in a town in Nazi Germany. It is told entirely, with the exception of an introduction and an 'afterwards' (clever, that), in a diary format that covers April 23, 1938 to the last entry on November 29, 1938. It is very easy to believe that this is a true story of a diary found in the wall of a building being demolished in 1987 although the writing is a little too polished to make this wholly believable.

I think a familiarity with this pre-war era in Germany, from earlier novels by Downing or other books will aid a reader in their understanding and enjoyment of this one. It is slow moving so I'll give that warning. Give it time though.

Read a few reviews on Goodreads or elsewhere to see if this might appeal to you. In its own way this book is a commentary on the world today, how societies and systems can be subverted in a remarkably short period of time. I can almost say this is a brilliant book. Probably not quite there but if you let yourself be immersed within the bookends you will be rewarded. If you have read Downing's Station books (I've read the first four) and liked them, well, don't pass this up. This may not quite be a 4 star read but it is close enough.

125Berly
Nov 30, 2019, 1:26pm

Ron--Glad the abdominal surgery went well and that you escaped all the fires. Phew!! Uncanny coincidence with your reading of Something Wicked This Way Comes and the dates.

Enjoy the weekend. : )

126jnwelch
Nov 30, 2019, 7:37pm

>124 RBeffa: No worries, Ron. Our kids and my wife have really toughened me up. :-)

127RBeffa
Dec 1, 2019, 6:24pm

>125 Berly: >126 jnwelch: Thanks Kim and Joe.

My reading has been in the doldrums for nearly a month. I finally sat down today to finish one.

I started to read this well over a month ago but set it aside in favor of other books. Now I restarted ... and finished.

64. The Devil's Cave by Martin Walker, finished December 1, 2019, 3 stars



This is the 5th novel in the Bruno, Chief of Police series and the sixth of these stories I have read. As I write this the series seems to have reached 13 novels and at least 4 short stories and novellas. I had a mixed reaction to this book. I did not enjoy some of this novel as much as I have the prior ones. One of my favorite characters (minor but important) died in the last novel but we do have other familiar people here. My problem essentially is the extra dark tone of this dealing with murder and satanism. Well, they all deal with murder ... and that is not why I read any of these stories. What I read these books for is the local color of rural France, the people and the place, and the bits of true history that the author embeds within the story.

I really like Bruno a lot and the setting of these stories. I think this one just didn't quite meet my expectations. There is a lot of the usual intrigue in the stories that just makes these good. I just picked up several more in the series.

128RBeffa
Dec 8, 2019, 8:29pm

In September I told myself I wanted to finish up the 5 remaining issues of Asimov's SF magazine that I had from July through December 2012. I enjoyed the July issue quite a bit. The August issue proved to be a different animal and after multiple tries I gave up on it. Full of stories that did not connect with me. I finished exactly one story and I didn't count it as a book read. I moved on to the September issue.

65. Asimov's Science Fiction: Vol. 36, No. 9 (September 2012) various authors edited by Sheila Williams, finished December 8, 2019, 3 1/2+ stars



The included fiction is:
Tornado Warning • poem by Danny Adams
Mating Habits of the Late Cretaceous • novelette by Dale Bailey
Star Soup • short story by Chris Willrich
Sub-Genre • poem by W. Gregory Stewart
The Last Islander • short story by Matthew Johnson
Noumenon • The Great Ship Universe • novelette by Robert Reed
Adware • short story by Suzanne Palmer
Unearthed • novella by William Preston

After giving up on the August issue I was very pleased at how much I enjoyed the September 2012 issue of Asimov's. This issue has the sort of stories that I enjoy in the magazine, six of them, quite varied, and a couple poems. I think I can say that even though one story was rather underwhelming, I liked every one of them which marks this as a better than average issue for me. Robert Reed's story of a future explorer was quite enjoyable to me. Robert Silverberg also had a nice nostalgic essay on how his imagination was captured with the early anthologies of science fiction and has continued. Several of his favorites were mine as well.

None of the stories in this issue won awards or even came close, but they were well written fiction. More like this I say.

129RBeffa
Dec 10, 2019, 5:14pm

My wife snagged a copy of the very brand new Robert Harris novel from the library The Second Sleep. She thought it was a followup to Munich which I read and really liked this year and she wasn't crazy about that. but it isn't. She gave it to me to read first as she is partway into a big novel and this is certainly not a WWII era novel. It starts out in the year of our risen Lord 1468 in Wessex England. I love the epigraph which I will include here.

Until the close of the modern era, Western Europeans
on most evenings experienced two major intervals
of sleep ... The initial interval of slumber was usually
referred to as "first sleep ..." The succeeding interval was
called "second" or "morning" sleep ... Both phases lasted
roughly the same length of time, with individuals waking
some time after midnight before returning to rest.
- A. Roger Ekirch,
At Day's Close: A History of Nighttime

It was impossible to dig more than a foot or two deep
about the town fields and gardens without coming upon
some tall soldier or other of the Empire, who had lain
there in his silent unobtrusive rest for a space of fifteen
hundred years. He was mostly found lying on his side, in
an oval scoop in the chalk, like a chicken in its shell; his
knees drawn up to his chest; sometimes with the remains
of his spear against his arm, a fibula or brooch of bronze
on his breast or forehead, an urn at his knees, a jar at his
throat, a bottle at his mouth ... They had lived so long
ago, their time was so unlike the present, their hopes and
motives were so widely removed from ours, that between
them and the living there seemed to stretch a gulf too
wide for even a spirit to pass.
-Thomas Hardy,
The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886)

130RBeffa
Dec 12, 2019, 10:57am

Hot off the presses ...

66. The Second Sleep by Robert Harris, finished December 12, 2019, 3 1/2 stars



The Second Sleep is without a doubt a change of pace for Robert Harris. It would seem to be set in Thomas Hardy's Wessex if the epigraph to the story is a double meaning hint. One thinks at first that this is a story set in the 1400's in Wessex, but it is actually a dystopian future tale set 800 years in the future from the Fall, which we can surmise from the evidence given near the start of the story happened in 2025. Our very near future. This may seem spoilery but this twist is all revealed quite early in the pages. The rest of the story is a tale that I seem to have enjoyed more than most readers of Harris.

The story is centered on a young priest who is sent to a very rural village. Harris provides the reader with interesting well developed characters and a mystery or two to puzzle out with the priest. I would tend to agree with other readers that the first half or so of the novel is the better part and the second half lackluster. The ending is very underwhelming and a disappointment. I also think things may be left open for a followup novel, but we shouldn't need that for what we should have had at the end of this one.

There is enough in here to give a reader something to think about, maybe something you have noticed happening over the past 25 years, and the consequences of that. I was also a little intrigued with the subject of the title - something I had never ever considered before, that human sleep patterns may have been very different before gas and electric lighting. And I don't mean an early to bed early to rise function of rural existence.

In sum I liked this quite a bit.

131swynn
Dec 12, 2019, 1:27pm

I've admired your reading and reporting on IASFM issues, and think it's something I ought to do too. I have a subscription, but very rarely read complete issues, and even when I do I don't count them in the annual tally of books read. Next year, though ....

132RBeffa
Dec 13, 2019, 11:59am

>131 swynn: Thanks Steve. I had a subscription to IASFM magazine for 30 years or so. Fell in love with it in the early 80's and it was my bread and butter reading for a long time. I absolutely loved the Dozois years - but increasingly in recent years I found myself just browsing them and passing them on. Sheila Williams just chose too many stories I had zero interest in. I think I gave away every issue unread of the last year of my subscription. I still have a lot of older issues. Some authors such as Robert Reed and Allen Steele have been long time contributors to the mag and almost always delivered good to great stories so I hung in there. I'll keep on reading a couple issues a year.

I'll encourage you to read and report, and yes, you should count them if you read them! They are not as big as they use to be except for the double issues which are usually a big read.

133swynn
Dec 13, 2019, 2:34pm

>132 RBeffa: Actually, they're all double issues now, since the publication schedule moved to bimonthly a couple of years ago. This makes me feel more justified in counting each one.

134RBeffa
Dec 13, 2019, 3:04pm

>133 swynn: I'm not sure I knew that. My sub ran out in late 2016. I do hope you review a few - Asimov's had often drifted very far off the SF track in my mind.

135RBeffa
Edited: Dec 17, 2019, 1:37pm

One more Asimov's that I wanted to finish this year.

67. Asimov's Science Fiction: Vol. 36, No. 12 (December 2012) various authors edited by Sheila Williams, finished December 15, 2019, 3 1/2 stars



The included fiction is:
The Caramel Forest • short story by Chris Beckett
Golden People • poem by Bruce Boston
The Wizard of West 34th Street • short story by Mike Resnick
The Waves • novelette by Ken Liu
Flower Power • poem by Karin L. Frank
The Black Feminist's Guide to Science Fiction Film Editing • short story by Sandra McDonald
The Pipes of Pan • short story by Robert Reed
Your Clone Returns Home • poem by Robert Frazier
Sudden, Broken, and Unexpected • novella by Steven Popkes

A good issue of Asimov's with a mix of story types. The book review column by Peter Heck covered 6 books, and one of the reviews pleased me - it was praising the reissue of Keith Roberts' Pavanne which I read in September and will probably be my favorite book read of 2019. An excerpt from the review, if mine didn't convince you to read it, is this: "The book is one of the most richly imagined of alternate histories, focusing not on the stock scenarios that reverse the outcome of World War II or the American Civil War, but on a quieter yet equally significant turn of history. If you enjoyed it in its first appearance, you'll be glad to know it's back again. And if you missed it, here's your chance to make up the omission. You won't be sorry."

There were no award winners in this issue although Ken Liu's excellent story 'Waves' was nominated for the 2013 Nebula award in the novelette category and made it in to David Hartwell's "Year's Best SF 18" anthology. "The Black Feminist's Guide to Science Fiction Film Editing" a short story by Sandra McDonald made it in to Richard Horton's Best SF and Fantasy anthology for the year and what was probably a tie for my favorite story in the issue, "Sudden, Broken, and Unexpected" a novella by Steven Popkes made it into Gardner Dozois's Best Science fiction of the year anthology.

So, we have the bones for a good issue. Of the six fiction stories in the issue that were not among the three best ones noted above (once in a while it seems I agree with the anthologists) I was mildly disappointed with Robert Reed's "The Pipes of Pan" mostly because I expect so much of him, and it was probably the weakest of these stories. There is an intriguing premise but seemed to have foundered playing with it. I must say however that I like the idea of renaming Homo sapiens as Pan sapiens. The Caramel Forest was a domestic (family) drama set on another world which is rather an odd world, and the story is viewed from the eyes of a young girl Cassie who unknown to herself is having her mind and memory and consciousness altered by an indigenous race generally referred to as "Goblins". Mike Resnick's 'The Wizard ...' was a cute bit of fluff about a man who could see the future that was entirely too predictable.

In sum, the three best stories make this very much worth reading and the rest isn't bad. The three poems were thoughtful and Robert Silverberg also gives us an essay on the importance of libraries when he was growing up in Brooklyn.

Ken Liu's 'Waves' is classed as a novelette but think of it as a short story that just gives you a glimpse of what could be a full novel. A generation ship is launched on a 400 year mission to a promising system for colonization from Earth. Shortly before the ship loses contact with Earth the secret of immortality is discovered and the instructions are transmitted to the ship. What follows is how a couple of the explorers choose to live forever or die, and their descendants and a glimpse at where mankind may evolve to - something I think of as transcendence. I found it to be an excellent and thought provoking short story.

'The Black Feminist's Guide to Science Fiction Film Editing' by Sandra McDonald isn't a great story by any means but it is entertaining in this story set in a dystopian future where the survivors live on mountaintops of a drowned world and stay out of the blistering sunlight and what do they do? They digitally re-edit classic science fiction films to correct the sins of the past and remake them so that, for example, no one would think that Arnold Schwarzenegger was the star of Total Recall and not Sharon Stone. The bulk of the story centers on a restoration of an unreleased Leigh Brackett film, The Ginger Star with Eric John Stark.

And it is a toss up if 'Sudden, Broken, and Unexpected' by Steven Popkes is a better story than Ken Liu's 'Waves'. Well, that is the wrong way of putting it - they are both very different, good stories. Popkes story is about a washed up but very talented musician who is recruited to work with a singer who wants to up her game, write better songs, more mature music than what she performs for the teenybopper crowd - the kick here is that the performer is an artificial construct. The story is more than that too.

ETA: After a day or two of thought I think Ken Liu's 'Waves' is the better story. Popkes story lost me a number of times with all the music discussion, and even though I liked the overall story that was a definite minus. Plus the ending was pretty predictable unlike Liu's story.

136RBeffa
Edited: Dec 27, 2019, 11:12am

I've started Thomas Hardy's 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' and hope to finish it by year's end. Meanwhile I finished this.

68. Point Reyes Peninsula: Olema, Point Reyes Station, and Inverness by Carola DeRooy and Dewey Livingston, finished December 24, 2019, 3 1/2 stars

The Point Reyes area is one I have loved since I was a teenager and first visited it on a couple field trips while in High School shortly after it came into existence in 1966 as a "National Seashore" park. My high school biology teacher Bob Stewart left our school to help run the Point Reyes Bird Observatory and he went on to become one of the premier naturalists and biologists of the region. It is one of my favorite places in California. I've visited it many times (but never enough!) and taken my kids there since they were young. Somehow I never ran into Bob Stewart while visiting. He should probably be in this book but he isn't.

This book is primarily one of historic photographs but contains a surprising amount of written information. I learned bits of early history of the region I didn't know and of course wanted to know more about many things. For an introduction to the history of the area this would be a good start. Then go visit the Bear Valley Visitor's Center for the Pt Reyes National Seashore and visit some of the beaches and hiking trails. The Point Reyes National Seashore was created when President Kennedy signed off in September 1962. His planned visit did not come to pass. There is not very much recent history in this book and there is actually some stuff that could have been left off. There was quite a bit of information on pioneer dairy ranchers in the area. I would have preferred a longer book.

Did I say I love this place? I do.

137ronincats
Dec 25, 2019, 6:49pm

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, some other tradition or none at all, this is what I wish for you!

138RBeffa
Dec 25, 2019, 7:54pm

>137 ronincats: thank you Roni

139PaulCranswick
Dec 25, 2019, 9:38pm



Thank you for keeping me company in 2019.......onward to 2020.

140RBeffa
Dec 26, 2019, 12:08am

>139 PaulCranswick: Thank you for the message Paul. I send my good wishes to you and your family for this coming year.

141Berly
Dec 26, 2019, 11:49pm

Best wishes this holiday season!! See you in 2020!


142RBeffa
Dec 29, 2019, 1:12pm

>141 Berly: Thank you Kim

143RBeffa
Dec 29, 2019, 1:23pm

I think I'll do my year end wrap up this morning. I've read less than 50 pages in my Thomas Hardy book and haven't touched it for days so I think it will likely be my first book for 2020. I've been catching up on magazine reading and I still have a handful of Smithsonians to read which work well for small bits. I just don't seem to be in a "book" mode. I find it odd and interesting that I read 64 books Jan thru June and 34 in Jul-Dec. 68 books is not bad, but less than I have read for a number of years.

Looking at my 2019 reading year I am overall pleased. I came across some nice surprises, but also although I rarely mentioned it here, I discarded quite a few books this year without reading very far that were just not to my mood or taste. So I credit myself for stepping outside of my reading box a bit more than usual, but I see myself staying inside that box a little more next year. Some of those DNF books surprised me. Not that I expect the same, just similar. I enjoyed my increase in non-fiction reading this year and I see even more of that next year. My goal for the year was about 60 books and I did better than that.

I've enjoyed historical fiction a lot this year (Munich, The Silence of the Girls, Dark Voyage and so on). So my final list of favorites - I could bump some of these titles around and include one or two others, but this is what it is for the moment. I'm looking forward to next year's reading.

I'll put a link at the bottom here when I start a 2020 thread.

Top Ten Fiction for 2019:
1. Pavanne by Keith Roberts
2. Munich by Robert Harris
3. Bird Box by Josh Malerman
4. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
5. Diary of a Dead Man by David Downing
6. Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz: Three Adventures by Garth Nix
7. Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan by Vonda N McIntyre
8. A Breath of Air by Rumer Godden
9. Dark Voyage by Alan Furst
10. The Mother by Pearl Buck

Top Five Non-Fiction for 2019
1. Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard
2. A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 by Simon Winchester
3. Boone: A Biography by Robert Morgan
4. Inventing Japan by Ian Buruma
5. End of the megafauna : the fate of the world's hugest, fiercest, and strangest animals by Ross D. E. MacPhee and illustrated by Peter Schouten

Favorite anthologies for 2019:

1. Catfantastic II edited by Andre Norton and Martin Greenberg
2. The 1988 Annual World's Best SF edited by Donald A. Wollheim
3/4. The 1986 Annual World's Best SF edited by Donald A. Wollheim and Arthur Saha
3/4. Wondrous Beginnings edited by Steven Silver and Martin Greenberg

Fiction re-reads for 2019:

1. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
2. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines

Favorite Young Adult or Children's reads:

1. Inkling by Kenneth Oppel
2. A Castle Full of Cats by Ruth Sanderson

Best fun read:

1. Transit To Scorpio by Alan Burt Akers

144weird_O
Dec 29, 2019, 1:45pm

Like the categories, Ron. I've been shuffling through my reading list and that jibes with my view of notables.

I am but 50 pages shy of completing the last read of 2019, so I'm wrapping things up here and mapping out a first Weird thread for 2020. See you on the other side.

145RBeffa
Dec 30, 2019, 3:29pm

>144 weird_O: Thanks for the note Bill. I always find it an enjoyable exercise looking back over the reading of the year, seeing what I have written - thinking about which books have stuck with me and which are already slipping away from memory. Then I start to think of next year's reading. Before LT I never thought of next year's reading like that. A long time friend had always compiled a list of his favorite books read during the year (along with comments) as well as favorite films seen and included it with his Christmas card. I always looked forward to it and sometimes kept track of my own that way, but not terribly well like we can do with LT.

So thinking now, even though I marked it as #2, My most favorite book of the year, the one that has really stuck to me, is Simon Winchester's A Crack In the Edge of the World. The book does have some faults (there is an unintended pun) but so much of it impressed, informed and entertained me. Candice Millard's formidable Destiny of the Republic is the better put together book and I'll leave it as #1 for non-fiction, but my favorite book of the year is A Crack in the edge of the world.