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It's the (late) Tuesday reading thread!


Feb 4 2014, 8:38pm

Post #1 of 23 (371 views)
It's the (late) Tuesday reading thread! Can't Post

sorry - substitute got so excited about the Superbowl, she forgot her job! (Hand slap)

I'm on the third of the Isabel Dalhousie series by Alexander McCall Smith. LOVING it. She is a middle-aged philosopher who gets drawn into situations that may or may not involve murder. She overthinks everything; as someone with that tendency myself, I sometimes squirm, but in general I enjoy his wonderfully evocative prose and great characters. I feel like I know Edinburgh very well now.

And you?

The way we imagine our lives is the way we are going to go on living our lives.

- James Hillman, Healing Fiction

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967

(This post was edited by Annael on Feb 4 2014, 8:40pm)


Feb 4 2014, 9:11pm

Post #2 of 23 (290 views)
Me [In reply to] Can't Post

I just finished Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility Diaries. A quick and delightful read.

I'm thinking of embarking on a re-read of The Hobbit next.

Tol Eressea

Feb 4 2014, 9:44pm

Post #3 of 23 (284 views)
The Kingmaker's Daughter; The Third Bullet [In reply to] Can't Post

I loved The Kingmaker's Daughter, by Philippa Gregory. It's another of her Wars of the Roses novels, this one about Anne Neville, the younger daughter of Richard, Earl of Warwick. She and her sister Isabel were used as pawns by her father, Isabel being married off to George, Duke of Clarence and Anne to Edward, son of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou, and later to Richard, Duke of Gloucester who became Richard III. Gregory's research is impeccable, I really get a sense of living in those times was like.
The Third Bullet, by Stephan Hunter, is for the conspiracy theorists, presenting an alternate version of the Kennedy assassination. Interesting take, and brings up more questions than answers.

"There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark."


Feb 4 2014, 10:08pm

Post #4 of 23 (270 views)
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown [In reply to] Can't Post

This is the story of the 1936 Olympic Gold medal winning men's crew team from the University of Washington. It focuses on one of the members of the crew, his life story and joining the freshman team in 1933 and how they came together as a team to win. I'm about a quarter of the way through, and am really enjoying it. It reads like a biography, both of the crew members and of Seattle at that point in history, and I'm finding it really interesting.

I also got the first Isabel Dalhousie in the series from the library, so am looking forward to starting that based on your positive feedback. Smile


Feb 4 2014, 11:57pm

Post #5 of 23 (274 views)
A Storm of Swords [In reply to] Can't Post

I really enjoy A Song of Ice and Fire, but I wish Martin would learn the value of brevity. He is five times worse than Tolkien when it comes to meandering plotlines, pointless info and filler. On the other hand, his Dunk and Egg prequel stories are succinct and excellent and in many ways superior to the main series. (even if I read them in graphic novel form.)

Superuser / Moderator

Feb 5 2014, 12:31am

Post #6 of 23 (270 views)
It surprises me [In reply to] Can't Post

that a writer of superb short stories (his Sandkings scared me to my bones - I could only skim-read the final few pages) is also the writer of such a gargantuan and complex series as ASOIAF.

I haven't heard of his Dunk and Egg stories - I'll hunt them out.

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

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauronís 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.

Ataahua's stories


Feb 5 2014, 3:32am

Post #7 of 23 (256 views)
Madame Bovary [In reply to] Can't Post

Just started this one. Not loving it so far but I always keep plodding along. I rarely abandon books but have been known to do it on occasion (Vanity Fair -- ugh!).

Am also reading (listening to) The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) when I am at the gym on the rowing machine. So far, I like it and I think I can detect her signature style in it but I don't think I ever would have deduced it was her just by the writing.


Feb 5 2014, 8:29am

Post #8 of 23 (248 views)
M-o-o-n, that spells The Stand. Laws, yes! [In reply to] Can't Post

Some of you might remember I posted about re-reading The Stand a couple of weeks ago. We had a brief discussion about some of the LOTR connections, so I made a point of looking out for things as I was reading.

*Spoilers* ahead, for anyone who doesn't want to read them.

One of the most obvious connections was in the depiction of Randall Flagg, particularly when it came to his supernatural abilities. He used his black stone necklaces as one way of seeing people and seeing events:

She happened to glance over to the night table.
Black stone.
Red flaw.
It seemed to be staring at her.
She had a sudden horrible feeling that it was staring at her, that it was his eye with its contact lens of humanity removed, staring at her as the Eye of Sauron had started at Frodo from the dark fastness of Barad-Dur, in Mordor, where the shadows lie.
It sees me, she thought with hopeless horror...

And another:

He could feel the sudden wakefulness. He seemed to see/feel an Eye opening in the darkness of the early morning, a dreadful red Eye...It was turning in the darkness. Looking. Looking for him. It knew Tom Cullen was there...

There were some other things I noticed, particularly in the long and difficult journey home that Tom Cullen and Stu made. It often made me think about Sam and Frodo, and the way they supported each other utterly in the most desperate times. Both Stu and Tom had to push beyond what they knew about themselves, and discover their strength, often in surprising ways. For Stu this also meant being vulnerable, and submitting himself to Tom's care, even though Stu was 'meant' to be the strong and clever one.

I really enjoyed reading The Stand again, all 1325 pages of it. It's interesting to note that this longer version has a bleaker ending, with the postscript, 'The Circle Closes', in which Flagg makes a reappearance.

On a side note, after I finished the book I watched the mini series. It was worth watching for Gary Sinese, but that's as good as it got for me. Molly Ringwald was absolutely dreadful, and whoever was in charge of her wardrobe should have been sacked. Randall Flagg with a mullett was pretty hard to take seriously.

(This post was edited by Starling on Feb 5 2014, 8:32am)


Feb 5 2014, 9:58am

Post #9 of 23 (252 views)
I've seen Le Guin mentioned several times rather recently. [In reply to] Can't Post

And I know you are fond of her books too Annael. Admittedly, I'd never heard of the author before reading bits and pieces on TORn. A friend also recommended her to me the other day as well. So I've gone ahead and ordered the Earthsea series, and it should be arriving today. Is Earthsea a good introduction to the author?

I'm slightly confused about the reading order; have I got this right?

A Wizard of Earthsea
Tombs of Atuan
The Farthest Shore
Tales from Earthsea (short stories?)
The Other Wind

I'll let you know how I get on with it. Smile


Feb 5 2014, 12:09pm

Post #10 of 23 (254 views)
GAH! [In reply to] Can't Post

Sandkings, man. *shudder* Just.. gah.

Fantastic story though. Creepiest thing I've ever read.

Reminder that I should get around to reading the Dunk and Egg stories sometime. Not like I have Winds of Winter to read or anything.

For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much -- the wheel, New York, wars, and so on -- while all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man, for precisely the same reasons. -- Douglas Adams


Feb 5 2014, 6:26pm

Post #11 of 23 (215 views)
Children's books this week.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Found myself tidying the elleth's bookshelf this weekend and grabbed a stack of lovelies to keep me company in all this snow. I reacquainted myself with Dahl and I confess I had not yet read anything by Kate DiCamillo and am angry with myself for not doing so sooner. I love her style of writing, the gorgeous stories, and the bittersweetness of how the tales sort out. (I especially loved Despereaux and Edward Tulane)

 photo Desolation-of-Smaug2_zpsc1584ee1.jpg
Tauriel: So let me get this straight sir, this Elwen girl is back on something called TORn, and rather than just tell her to stop stalking you, you'd like me to show up in a movie I have no business being in as a ploy to distract her, and nevermind the wrath of countless Tolkien fans who will be calling for my destruction?

Legolas: That about sums it up. Besides, some people might like you. Oh, and to be on the safe side, can we pretend to be a couple too?


Feb 5 2014, 7:31pm

Post #12 of 23 (207 views)
Still re-reading 'The Elenium' [In reply to] Can't Post

Finishing up The Ruby Knight in preparation for my re-reading of the final volume The Sapphire Rose.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


Feb 5 2014, 7:41pm

Post #13 of 23 (207 views)
I just love The Stand (film spoilers folks) [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm due for a re-read. And the cardinal parallel swapped backwards: looking West for the greatest evil.

I did like the film but agree with your critiques. Gary Sinise was fantastic, Bill Fagerbakke as Tom...oh when he finally gets m-o-o-n right I just laugh and cry. I would rather have had Flagg handsome, easy-going...then just with the scary blackened eyes. That red, Hellboy form was a bit too much.

(When Dame Ioreth got caught up in the Lincoln Tunnel a few weeks ago...all I could think of was Larry! I'd gladly swim the river and push the syringes and corpses out of my way rather than face that tunnel in the dark!!!!!)

Have an idea relating to the world of JRR Tolkien that you would like to write about? If so, the Third TORn Amateur Symposium will be running in the Reading Room April, 2014. *The Call for Submissions is up*!

(This post was edited by Brethil on Feb 5 2014, 7:42pm)


Feb 5 2014, 7:58pm

Post #14 of 23 (199 views)
Something I forgot to say in the first post [In reply to] Can't Post

was the niggle I had with the book. The whole time I was reading it, I was waiting for someone, anyone, to broach the issue of resources being finite. Not once that I could spot did anyone show any concern about what might happen when fuel ran out, when all the packaged food they were so merrily consuming ran out or went bad, when medicines and medical supplies ran out, and so on.
There was no conversation about the kinds of skills that would be needed to rebuild society, for example, who knew how to grow and harvest food? What would they do when they ran out of fuel and couldn't use vehicles, but all the horses were dead? What would people use to make clothes? Tools? Who had these skills?

I know the big focus was on the growing threat of Flagg and all that entailed, but it really bugged me. When you are in survival mode the biggest concerns are shelter, water and food, and how you will get these things. When the immedicate crisis has passed your attention turns to the future.
Even the supposedly clever and forward thinking characters didn't seem to have any conversations like these.
All they wanted to do was get the power back on.

If leaving all those concerns out was deliberate on the part of King, I think it was a mistake, because it really reduced the sense of realism for me.

I think that's one of the reasons I like the original 'Survivors' TV series so much. The characters in that story realise very quickly that moving around taking resources as you go is not going to be a sustainable way to live. They identify potential problems and start planning for the future early on.


Feb 5 2014, 8:04pm

Post #15 of 23 (196 views)
Brings up a cool point Starling [In reply to] Can't Post

as I am a geeky, mildly techy but a bit OCD sort myself...when they are discussing the West in the Council in Boulder, and (I think it is Stu) says that Flagg has got the techies, the people who want 'the trains to run on time' - that's the closest we get to that idea of how to harness resources; but its still short-term. (I guess SK sort of implies it at the end ... 'its all just out there, lying around".)

But not only that - that statement about the trains-on-time always gives me the inner creepy-icky feeling of wow, I hope I would never choose Flagg just because he makes things 'work' and, let that deceive me. The path to hell is paved with...modern conveniences. Scary idea.

Have an idea relating to the world of JRR Tolkien that you would like to write about? If so, the Third TORn Amateur Symposium will be running in the Reading Room April, 2014. *The Call for Submissions is up*!

(This post was edited by Brethil on Feb 5 2014, 8:04pm)


Feb 5 2014, 8:19pm

Post #16 of 23 (192 views)
Exactly [In reply to] Can't Post

Flagg's got the trains running on time, the streets are getting tidied up, and he's running a dictatorship which thrives on fear and plundering whatever is in front of your nose.

I still can't work out if King messed up or if he is trying to make a heavy handed point: The 'good' folks are just as short-sighted as those who turn to Flagg. Mother Abagail gets grouchy with them because they are spending all their time having tedious meetings and talking and making committees, and all the while Flagg is building his empire. But Mother Abagail's primary concern is Flagg, not who is going to grow potatoes, and I get that, but someone should have been at least thinking about planting the potatoes.

Surely before any of this Flagg stuff goes down the survivors would be more concerned with actual survival, both short and long term? It really left me scratching my head. And this book was written in the 70's, when concerns about resources such as fuel being finite were definitely on the agenda.

PS: You would never choose Flagg. M-o-o-n, that spells integrity.


Feb 5 2014, 10:03pm

Post #17 of 23 (186 views)
Makes me think about that point [In reply to] Can't Post

and what, if anything, he is saying about resources and survival instincts. Or if he is trying to transcend it all with the semi-religious tone of the struggle? Certainly due for a re-read soon and now I want to keep this in mind.

I think survival situations and apocalyptic scenarios are like Rorschach tests, which is why we both love and fear them. My siblings and I have debated the Titanic scenario over the years many times...my sister is happy to make her peace, and have a good end by the band, with a loved one. My brother and I, on the other hand, are constantly and desperately formulating survival options (make a raft with mattresses...etc.) And during The Walking Dead I am constantly less worried about the zombies (annoying as they are) but about SUSTAINABILITY. The Peanut gallery in my house is tired of hearing me rant about a well-fortified farm, and ensuring a water supply and breeding stock ... because if you want to really survive the cans will run out and you've got to plan at least two seasons ahead.

So if the worst happens we shall both be planting taters, which is encouraging. And your integrity comment made my year. Thank you. Angelic

Have an idea relating to the world of JRR Tolkien that you would like to write about? If so, the Third TORn Amateur Symposium will be running in the Reading Room April, 2014. *The Call for Submissions is up*!

(This post was edited by Brethil on Feb 5 2014, 10:04pm)


Feb 5 2014, 10:25pm

Post #18 of 23 (185 views)
yes and yes [In reply to] Can't Post

Earthsea is a great intro to LeGuin, and you have the right order of books.

She also writes scifi, many of which are set in her "Hainish" universe. Those don't occur in any particular order, except that Planet of Exile comes before City of Illusions. My favorite of her scifi is Lathe of Heaven, which isn't a Hainish cycle book; of the Hainish novels I like The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness best.

The way we imagine our lives is the way we are going to go on living our lives.

- James Hillman, Healing Fiction

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967

Na Vedui

Feb 6 2014, 1:47am

Post #19 of 23 (173 views)
No Bed for Bacon [In reply to] Can't Post

by Caryl Brahms and SJ Simon. great fun - on one level a crazy, campy Elizabethan romp, but it was written in 1941 - quite early in the 2nd World War when things still hung in the balance - so the old sailors Drake & co reminiscing with Elizabeth about defeating the Armada has a serious side too.
If you've seen "Shakespeare in Love" you'd also spot that they lifted some of the plot from this book.


Feb 6 2014, 5:06am

Post #20 of 23 (178 views)
Wait till you get to a Feast for Crows! [In reply to] Can't Post

All of that book is a filler, albeit, excellently written so you don't think it's filler as you read it. It's 1000 pages later you realize the story moved a literal 10 inches.


Feb 6 2014, 1:29pm

Post #21 of 23 (170 views)
Sidling in here to comment... [In reply to] Can't Post

I think you overestimate that actually - though as you say it's well written filler.

Tol Eressea

Feb 6 2014, 8:42pm

Post #22 of 23 (152 views)
Joust, Mercedes Lackey [In reply to] Can't Post

Fantasy with dragons in pseudo ancient Egypt. Slow moving story, especially at the start with excruciating details of the life of a serf. I didn't realize it was the first in a series; this seems to be a world building intro to a story that I hope will continue with more excitement in the next volume.

They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep.


Feb 8 2014, 5:18am

Post #23 of 23 (142 views)
I loved Left Hand of Darkness [In reply to] Can't Post

but I like all of Le Guin's stuff.

LOTR soundtrack website ~ magpie avatar gallery
TORn History Mathom-house ~ Torn Image Posting Guide


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