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It's the occasional reading thread!

Lily Fairbairn

Apr 16, 3:25pm

Post #1 of 13 (1649 views)
It's the occasional reading thread! Can't Post

Good morning from a dark and slightly damp Texas. It must be April! Fortunately the clouds parted just enough last week we were able to see the solar eclipse.

I listened to The Victoria Vanishes, book six in Christopher Fowler's Bryant and May series. In this outing, the Peculiar Crimes Unit is once again under threat of closure, even though they're chasing a killer who stalks older women in pubs. Narrator Tim Goodman does a great job with the different voices, especially that of the elderly Bryant.

I also listened to another contemporary mystery, The Chalk Pit, by Elly Griffiths. I'd read the first two books in the series and was put off by several aspects of the story and the writing, but thought I'd give this one a try. Since this is (I think) eleventh, I was prepared for there to have been a leap in time, but I was disappointed that the issues that annoyed me to begin with are still present. (In fact, Griffiths' use of the present tense is one of them.) Even though I like the historical/archaeological aspects of the series---and enjoyed the references to The Hobbit in this installment---I'm done.

I'm now listening to a non-fiction book, The Cases That Haunt Us: From Jack the Ripper to JonBenet Ramsey, the FBI's Legendary Mindhunter Sheds Light on the Mysteries That Won't Go Away, by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker. Douglas is an FBI veteran who brings his experience to these "classic" cases. So far he's considered the Ripper, Lizzie Borden, and the Lindbergh kidnapping as he moves chronologically to the present day.

Since I recently read Anatomy of Evil, a Barker and Llewellyn mystery that deals fictionally with the Ripper case, I was gratified to see that author Will Thomas really did his research.

On paper I read another non-fiction book, The Museum Makers, by Rachel Morris. Morris runs a company that designs and builds museums, so I was expecting to hear about her work and the history of museums. However, she spends more time with her own intriguing family history, which she uses as an example of how we view the past, than with museums per se. A couple of ghastly copy-editing errors cast a shadow over an otherwise interesting book.

I'm now catching up with a couple of magazines, Archaeology and Trends and Traditions, the new incarnation of what used to be the Journal of Colonial Williamsburg. Both of these magazines, and Smithsonian as well (I'm expecting a new issue any day now) are now mostly short articles and photos rather than long, scholarly pieces such as those I remember from years ago. At least they still have decent copy-editors!

So what have you been reading?

Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the hand on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing?
They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow....


Apr 16, 6:27pm

Post #2 of 13 (1600 views)
Burning through Rhys Bowen [In reply to] Can't Post

I've now read all of the "Her Royal Spyness" novels (yay, new one coming out in November) and have started in on her "Molly Murphy" series. There's always a murder (or several) that the plucky heroine solves, there's a large cast of recurring characters, but unlike, say, the Janet Evanovich series, the characters do change and grow - slowly, but it's fun to watch. Lady Georgiana, as a cousin of the now King Edward VIII, is well acquiainted with Mrs. Simpson and I expect we'll be getting the whole abdication story as part of an upcoming novel - as well as the ongoing references to that "nasty little man Hitler" and the threat of war.

Been also reading books about toxic families and how to separate yourself from them, because you can't change them. I think pretty much everyone of my generation has complex PTSD, thanks to alcoholism and trauma, but I'm the only one who has gone to counseling or, apparently, will go.

Fun fact: going for a walk in the woods can help repattern the traumatized brain! I go most days.

I'm very excited that they are already filming a "Murderbot" series for Apple +TV. The casting so far looks spot on (I love that most of the cast are brown, just as Wells describes them), and Martha Wells is a consultant and coproducer and says she's excited about the script, so . . . here's hoping! I have decided that I love Murderbot because it reminds me of my German Shepherd: I was her person, her responsibility to guard and protect, first and foremost. And we loved each other in the purest way and were happiest when we were together. Murderbot's attitude toward its humans reminds me of that. Murderbot's code makes it feel that way, just as my GSD's breeding made her that way.

I am a dreamer of words, of written words.
-- Gaston Bachelard

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967

(This post was edited by Annael on Apr 16, 6:32pm)


Apr 17, 11:39pm

Post #3 of 13 (1577 views)
A Reread of Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber [In reply to] Can't Post

Another series I keep revisiting. Fascinating fantasy.

Greenwood Hobbit

Apr 18, 3:41pm

Post #4 of 13 (1541 views)
I'm not a fan of present tense writing [In reply to] Can't Post

but Elly Griffiths's 'Dr Ruth Galloway' mysteries have held my interest despite that. I'm still reading any Lonna Leon I can find; she's very good at depicting the social and poitical complexities of life in Venice and Commissario Guido Brunetti is a relatable figure, not one of these angsty, tormented cops with a messy home life and a grim backstory - which is a refreshing change!

Aunt Dora Baggins

Apr 18, 10:42pm

Post #5 of 13 (1530 views)
The autobiography of Christoper Robin Milne [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, that Christopher Robin, though he never liked being linked to the character. His autobiography is in two volulmes:

The Enchanted Places
The Path Through the Trees

The first one is about his childhood, about long days playing in the woods, his love of carpentry and making mechanical things. There's some about his parents, some about Pooh, more about beautiful descriptions of his home and surrounding area. He's a lovely descriptive writer.

i was relieved, after seeing the movie based on his books, that his description of his time as school was much less horrific than depicted in the movie.

The second book takes us on his adventures as a soldier in WWII, and his subsequent life with his wife and disabled daughter as a bookstore owner in a pretty little coastal village.

He's such an interesting person, with a love of nature and animals, and also a love of puzzles that made him enjoy going through minefields and carefully dismantling the mines he found. He encountered horrific scenes during the war, for example having to climb a ladder to try to retrieve a body of a soldier that had been there for several days and was putrefying. But he dealt with it by trying to focus on the task at hand as a puzzle to be solved. His analysis of what was going on in his mind is really fascinating.

His skill with mechanics came in useful when his daughter was born with cerebral palsy. When he couldn't find things to accomodate her needs, such as a special plate and spoon she could use or a tricycle she could ride, he made them, and made them not only useful but beautiful, because he said she deserved to have beautiful things.

Anyway, it's a lovely look at a man who was once the inspiration for a character we all know. There's rather more about the business of buying and selling books than I wanted to know, and I ended up skimming those chapters. but the rest is great.

GNU Terry Pratchett
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com

(This post was edited by Aunt Dora Baggins on Apr 18, 10:44pm)

Forum Admin / Moderator

Apr 19, 10:02pm

Post #6 of 13 (1489 views)
My recent reading [In reply to] Can't Post

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (a pseudonym of Sarah Monette)

I read someone (I think in the Guardian, but I'm not quite sure) describing this as their favourite book, so sought it out. The premise: the unwanted, unregarded son of the late emperor's fourth marriage, to a high-born goblin, ends up being the heir when his father (an elf) and all his older brothers are killed in an airship accident - or was it an accident?

These are not your Tolkien elves (or goblins). They all actually seem quite human, with the expected ambitions, pettinesses and snobbery, but have physical differences.

There's a lot to like: a sympathetic and engaging main character, in the classic-for-a-good-reason role of outsider thrust into an unfamiliar world; quite a well-thought out society; and a mystery to be solved. It kept my interest, and I was certainly cheering Maia (the main character) along. My only real issue was that I had a lot of trouble remembering who everyone, apart from Maia and a small core of characters surrounding him, was. All those invented, unfamiliar (though perfectly pronounceable) names ran together a bit. Only fairly late in the book did I have a firm grip on who everyone was.

But still, an enjoyable, warm-hearted and ultimately engaging story.

March by Geraldine Brooks

Having devoured The Secret Chord and People of the Book, I was keen to read this one. It's Brooks' imagining of just what happened to Mr March during his long absence from home in Little Women when he's away serving as a chaplain in the civil war.

It's very well written, as expected, but oh! so very dark. That's hard to avoid when the setting itself is such a dark time, but I could have done with a little more light, and perhaps a little less detail of some of the more gory injuries. Still, an interesting reflection on what *might* have happened to Mr March, and a thought-provoking picture of the near-angelic Marmee of Alcott's work.

I'm halfway through Madeline Miller's Song of Achilles, and will say more when I've finished, but for now: absorbing and magnificent. Mr Kimi's been reading her Circe at the same time, so it's been fun comparing notes.

The Passing of Mistress Rose
My historical novels

Do we find happiness so often that we should turn it off the box when it happens to sit there?

- A Room With a View

(This post was edited by Kimi on Apr 20, 1:44am)

Forum Admin / Moderator

Apr 20, 12:45am

Post #7 of 13 (1483 views)
I really enjoyed both of those Miller books. [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
I'm halfway through Madeline Miller's <i>Song of Achilles</i>, and will say more when I've finished, but for now: absorbing and magnificent. Mr Kimi's been reading her <i>Circe</i> at the same time, so it's been fun comparing notes.

I don't have much of a grasp on Greek gods beyond what's been in movies but both of these books were absorbing. I really enjoyed them.

And man, Circe was done dirty. Unsure

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.

Fantasy novel - The Arcanist's Tattoo

My LOTR fan-fiction

(This post was edited by Ataahua on Apr 20, 12:46am)


Apr 20, 1:05am

Post #8 of 13 (1478 views)
An Unusual Find [In reply to] Can't Post

My spouse came across a review copy of Jerusalem, the novel by Alan Moore (Watchmen[/I[; V for Vendetta; etc.) at Savers, the chain thrift store where she works these days. Because it's designated "not for sale" it couldn't be priced and put out for resale, so she brought it home for me. The novel is...dense. It's hard to be more specific, but Moore wanders back and forth through various time periods in his home town of Northampton, England.

“Hell hath no fury like that of the uninvolved.” - Tony Isabella

Forum Admin / Moderator

Apr 20, 1:40am

Post #9 of 13 (1470 views)
In Third Form [In reply to] Can't Post

I was given a book of Greek myths and legends as a school prize for English, and was utterly absorbed by the tales, so I've had that interest for a Very Long Time. These are very well done, and remind me of Mary Renault (worth seeking out if you're unfamiliar with her work).

Looking forward to starting Circe!

The Passing of Mistress Rose
My historical novels

Do we find happiness so often that we should turn it off the box when it happens to sit there?

- A Room With a View


Apr 20, 10:49pm

Post #10 of 13 (1447 views)
Some Cormac McCarthy [In reply to] Can't Post

One of his earlier novels, Suttree. I'm only 30 or 40 pages in, as this book is in a Faulknerian modernist style with some minimalist McCarthy dialogue thrown in, so it's a slower read than others of his that I've read.

Join us every weekend in the Hobbit movie forum for this week's CHOW (Chapter of the Week) discussion!

Greenwood Hobbit

Apr 21, 10:17am

Post #11 of 13 (1409 views)
Oops, should have been Donna Leon - my bad typing! [In reply to] Can't Post


Greenwood Hobbit

Apr 21, 10:20am

Post #12 of 13 (1409 views)
Yeesh, those Greek myths and legends! [In reply to] Can't Post

some of them are not what you'd call family-friendly; my younger grandson was learning about them last year. I have a book on World Mythology, but I had to pick and choose a bit when talking to him about them!


May 19, 6:13pm

Post #13 of 13 (133 views)
great choice! [In reply to] Can't Post

I did a full re-read of the Chronicles of Amber a couple of years ago - my first since the early 90s. Absolutely loved it, again. I'm tempted to go down the audiobook route next time, as Wil Wheaton narrates the second Chronicle.

Btw, have you ever picked up Seven Tales in Amber anthology of Amber short stories? The short stories have been around for years but a nice edition came out in 2020. I loved reading them but must admit to a tear as I knew I was reading Zelazny's last words on Amber. I'd heard a rumour that he'd been planning another expansion of the Chronicles, which the short stories in question can be interpreted as hinting at. He was only 58 when he died. A loss to his family and friends, and to the world of S/F story-telling.

I'm also intrigued by Stephen Colbert's obsession with making a TV series out of the Chronicles. The project went quiet, after a bit of fanfare in January 2023.

Welcome to the Mordorfone network, where we put the 'hai' back into Uruk


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