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It's the occasional reading thread!

Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Jan 23, 4:52pm

Post #1 of 13 (340 views)
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It's the occasional reading thread! Can't Post

Greetings from cold, sunny, dry as a bone North Texas. If anyone has any extra rain, please send it our way!

The January-February Smithsonian has a cover story on ancestral/old growth forests in New England. Parts of the article, and the photos especially, remind me of the Old Forest and Fangorn, and scientist Bob Leveritt makes me think of a modern-day Bombadil. Or Treebeard, groaning about how no one is on the side of the trees.

I read the ebook of Murder at Melrose Court, the first in a new mystery series by Karen Baugh Menuhin. It takes place in Britain in the early 1920s. The hero is a relatively well-to-do WWI veteran named Heathcliff Lennox, more of a Bertie Wooster than a Peter Wimsey. The story was entertaining and a very fast read, but for a first-person narrator I thought Lennox was shallow and superficial. Still, my friends really like the series so I'll try the next one when I'm ready for something light.

I listened to a short (only two hours) story by Connie Willis, Inside Job. The main character owns a magazine which debunks the channelers, faith-healers, and so forth who work in contemporary Los Angeles. The story is clever, wry, and funny, and includes a bit of a history lesson, too.

I also listened to an installment in Kate Ellis's Wesley Peterson series, Armada Boy. Soon after a group of American D-Day veterans meet in the town on the English Channel where they once trained, one of them is murdered. Meanwhile, an archaeologist digs at an old chapel for the bodies of Spanish seamen from the time of the Armada. Ellis does a nice job of entwining events and characters from three time periods---today, 1944, and 1588.

Oddly enough, one of the chapters in a book I just finished, The History of Britain In 100 Places, by Neil Oliver, is about the site of the real D-Day landing exercises. I can tell how Ellis based her town on the real one, right down to an American tank pulled out of the sea and set up as a memorial.

I also listened to a four-hour Great Courses lecture, The Rise and Fall of the Borgias, by William Landon. We forget nowadays how much temporal power the medieval and Renaissance popes had. The Borgias in particular were notorious for ostentation, nepotism, and corruption (the more things change....), although Landon feels many of the really awful stories about them are just propaganda put out by their rivals.

I've just started listening to The Madness of Crowds, the eighteenth (?) installment of Louise Penny's series starring Inspector Armand Gamache of the Quebec police. This volume begins with lovely scenes of Gamache and the other residents of Three Pines celebrating something that hasn't yet happened in real life: the end of the pandemic. The book then goes off in a dark direction not unrelated to the pandemic---a direction less ripped from Canadian headlines as from ones here in the US. But Penny never shies away from Serious Topics. I just hope she doesnít indulge in her favorite theme of police corruption. Been there, done that.

I have the third Joy Ellis/Nikki Galena book ready to go on my Kindle, but I decided I didnít need to be reading two grim mysteries at the same time. Instead I started a (paper) book from my TBR pile, First Comes Like by Alisha Rai, a light contemporary romance set in Los Angeles. It's a fun story, not least because I feel as though Iím reading about Martians. This isn't because the main characters are South Asian (I have South Asian in-laws) but because the man is a Bollywood star and the woman an "influencer", deeply invested in social media and appearances, and I am SO none of the above!

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....


Ataahua
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 23, 6:03pm

Post #2 of 13 (305 views)
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I'm re-reading an old favourite: Dragonsdawn, by Anne McCaffrey [In reply to] Can't Post

I felt like falling into a story I know well (and know that I'll enjoy). Revisiting an old favourite novel is like putting on a favourite pair of comfy slippers. Smile

Bonus: I was holding the book in my hand when boarding a plane from Auckland to New Plymouth and the (much younger) air hostess spotted it. "Anne McCaffrey! She's my favourite author!" It's lovely to know that newer readers are still finding her.

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.


Fantasy novel - The Arcanist's Tattoo

My LOTR fan-fiction


sevilodorf
Tol Eressea

Jan 23, 8:12pm

Post #3 of 13 (298 views)
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Do you read the series in publication order or order of events? [In reply to] Can't Post

And what do you think of Tod McCaffrey's additions to the world if you've read any of them?

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com
Home of TheOneRing.net Best FanFic stories of 2005 and 2006 "The Last Grey Ship" and "Ashes, East Wind, Hope That Rises" by Erin Rua

(Found in Mathoms, LOTR Tales Untold)




Annael
Immortal


Jan 23, 8:49pm

Post #4 of 13 (296 views)
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Naomi Novik [In reply to] Can't Post

I re-read Uprooted and remembered just how brilliant a book it is, which sent me out to find A Deadly Education, the first book in her "Scholomance" trilogy, which is even more brilliant. It's a dark academia book about a school for wizards that makes Hogwarts, even under the control of the Death Eaters, look like a picnic. The main character, rather like Granny Weatherwax, is the most powerful of all and has to continually struggle against the temptation to go to the bad and take over the world. Her ruminations about privilege and why people seek it have been thought-provoking; she sees that most people want to be safe, first of all, and then once they feel safe, they want to feel comfortable. Okay so far. But once people feel comfy, they start to crave a little luxury, and once they get it, it's so easy to be drawn into excess. Don't we see all that in the lives of the rich and famous! I am "comfortable," but recognize in myself the longing for luxury; I've decided that treating myself to a stay at my favorite fancy resort two or three times a year is enough to feed that need.

Enjoying it so much I got halfway through and then started it all over, to prolong the reading and also pick up on stuff I didn't understand at first. Novik doesn't explain everything at the outset, and I appreciate that very much; she rations out her exposition. I am finding that some very dense (idea-wise) books often go better if I go back and start over a few chapters in. Kinda like I did taking calculus in college; I got a few weeks in, became hopelessly behind and dropped the class, then took it again the next quarter and it went much better. I had to do this with The Absolute Book; I wouldn't say it's as necessary with Novik, but . . . perhaps what I'm admitting here is that those authors are just so much smarter than me, I have to back up just to keep up. I don't mind that. I'd rather listen to a singer who's better than me.

I also read Philip Pullman's The Book of Dust, set when Lyra is a baby. It had the same problem for me as the newer movies set in the Harry Potterverse, in that the bad guys are made out to be even worse than they were later. But I enjoyed it otherwise.

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

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967


Ataahua
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 24, 2:43am

Post #5 of 13 (274 views)
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Publication order, [In reply to] Can't Post

as Anne intended. :)

I find the series takes a serious dip in quality after Dragonsdawn so I don't re-read those ones, and I've never had a look at Tod's novels. Have you? What are they like?

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.


Fantasy novel - The Arcanist's Tattoo

My LOTR fan-fiction


Ataahua
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 24, 2:49am

Post #6 of 13 (274 views)
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Heh, I felt that way about Shaun Tan [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
perhaps what I'm admitting here is that those authors are just so much smarter than me, I have to back up just to keep up.


He wrote The Story of Your Life (made into the awesome movie Arrival with Amy Adams) which appeared in his short-story compilation Stories of Your Life and Others. Throughout my read I knew that the stories were working on two levels and I was grasping only the lower level - the higher-minded element was beyond my grasp of comprehension. Crazy Laugh

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.


Fantasy novel - The Arcanist's Tattoo

My LOTR fan-fiction


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 24, 12:37pm

Post #7 of 13 (254 views)
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Tan's wordless graphic novel "The Arrival" is outstanding. [In reply to] Can't Post

We have a handful of his junior-level books in my library here. He is a master at making one think while reading.

I hadn't realized the amazing movie Arrival was based on one of his stories!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"


sevilodorf
Tol Eressea

Jan 25, 4:51am

Post #8 of 13 (240 views)
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Briefly [In reply to] Can't Post

As in his first ones up to Dragon Harper....
even with Anne listed as a co author they were so derivative and repetitive that it required muscle to get through them. I never bought any as I really had no desire to reread any (unlike the others which are often reread)

There was higher quality LOTR fanfiction out there (heck immodestly I'll say some of The Burping Troll fanfic was better than Todd's stuff -- at least we came up with our own plots (even if we borrowed the world) instead of regurgitating someone else's.


Dragon's Kin (2003), Anne and Todd McCaffrey
Dragonsblood (2005)
Dragon's Fire (2006), Anne and Todd McCaffrey
Dragon Harper (2007), Anne and Todd McCaffrey
Dragonheart (2008)
Dragongirl (2010)
Dragon's Time (2011), Anne and Todd McCaffrey
Sky Dragons (2012), Anne and Todd McCaffrey

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com
Home of TheOneRing.net Best FanFic stories of 2005 and 2006 "The Last Grey Ship" and "Ashes, East Wind, Hope That Rises" by Erin Rua

(Found in Mathoms, LOTR Tales Untold)




Ataahua
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 25, 6:22pm

Post #9 of 13 (224 views)
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Well, his books must have sold [In reply to] Can't Post

or the publisher wouldn't have kept printing new books, but I've yet to hear from anyone who liked them. I've zero interest in looking at his stories.

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.


Fantasy novel - The Arcanist's Tattoo

My LOTR fan-fiction


Ettelewen
Rohan

Jan 25, 6:43pm

Post #10 of 13 (227 views)
Shortcut
Saw the same Smithsonian article online the other day [In reply to] Can't Post

And had the same reaction comparing the old-growth forests with Fangorn, and Leveritt with Treebeard. Cool


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Feb 2, 11:23pm

Post #11 of 13 (165 views)
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Finally finished my Star Wars tale [In reply to] Can't Post

Not too bad a bit light-hearted if possible for a tale set in the Clone Wars. And as it is connected a bit to the prqueals it hasn't been wiped like much of the previous star wars novels have. A nice little reference to the Hobbit as well, it re-created the but not time for it, gag which amused me!


ElanorTX
Tol Eressea


Feb 8, 3:25am

Post #12 of 13 (130 views)
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Come From Away - seeing what I've read about [In reply to] Can't Post

I've taken the plunge and bought a ticket for the tour when it plays Houston, Texas, in late March.Will stay overnight and visit the city's highly reputed Museum of Fine Arts the next day.Only a 200-mile (325 km) drive each way, not bad by Texas standards.

"I shall not wholly fail if anything can still grow fair in days to come."



dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Feb 11, 2:15am

Post #13 of 13 (99 views)
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Humble Pi [In reply to] Can't Post

When Math Goes Wrong in the Real World, by Matt Parker. Very entertaining and horrifying at the same time, especially if you understand how computers work, basic physics, and why certain calculations must never be rounded. And how important it is that the different groups involved in creating one thing MUST use the same units of measure. I didn't know that different countries have different ways of determining sea level, or how deadly instantaneous stock and bond selling and buying can be. Or how a marching army can send a bridge crashing down. Amazing stuff.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

 
 

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