Author Topic: What have you read lately?  (Read 22473 times)

kaysixteen

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #345 on: September 20, 2020, 07:59:21 PM »
I am about half way through 'The Meritocracy Trap', written by a Yale Law prof whose name escapes me, the book currently lying in my car.  I am interested to see the end of the book, where he says what he thinks can be done about this.

larryc

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #346 on: September 20, 2020, 10:20:40 PM »
I just finished the audiobook of A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, which I really loved. It defies easy explanation, but it is a multi-layered literary novel set in Japan and British Columbia, It covers from World War Two through Fukashima in a non-linear fashion. Wonderful writing and some magical realism along the way.

ergative

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #347 on: September 25, 2020, 03:42:07 AM »
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

The structure was really rather brilliant, but, having reached the end, I now know that the title didn't mean what I thought it meant, and also I can't understand what it was intended to mean.

There was some appalling fat-shaming of a fat character, which was utterly gratuitous and horrible, and I cannot understand why Turton thought it was at all appropriate to spend so many words describing how utterly disgusting fatness is, and how fat people can't control their eating and smell bad. It really, really cast a pall over my ability to enjoy the brilliant structure and plotting.

nebo113

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #348 on: September 25, 2020, 05:43:46 AM »
Re-reading Dorothy Sayers.  Just finished "Gaudy Night" and now immersed in 'Nine Tailors" though will never truly grasp bell ringing.

Ah, Sayers!

I've re-read Gaudy Night several times; probably due for another one soon.

PM my with your questions about bell-ringing. My god-sister directs the bell-ringers at a colonial church with a full peal, and I used to ring with them.

M.

Thanks!  A dear friend helped with the basics but I will never grasp the complexities, especially of the hidden code based on the "peal" Wimsey deciphers.

fourhats

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #349 on: September 25, 2020, 11:55:37 AM »
I'm not very far into it yet, but I'm now reading the novel "Hamnet" by Maggie O'Farrell and am completely hooked. It's about Shakespeare's son who died in a plague, and whose name sparked the play Hamlet. The writing is knocking my socks off. I love reading books where the writing itself is great, let alone character, plot, etc. I don't much care about plot (but this one definitely has one), but good writing makes me want to climb aboard the author's boat and drift down that literary river with them.

ab_grp

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #350 on: October 10, 2020, 04:12:16 PM »
Next on the list is one of the other books I got for husband's birthday: Leviathan Wakes (Corey, which I now see is a pen name).  I tried to get several first-in-a-series, highly rated sci fi novels so that we have some further paths to explore if we like the writing.  I didn't realize until just now that this one is part of The Expanse, which I have heard good and less good things about.

Just finished this last night.  Here's the quote from Amazon:
Quote
Two hundred years after migrating into space, mankind is in turmoil. When a reluctant ship's captain and washed-up detective find themselves involved in the case of a missing girl, what they discover brings our solar system to the brink of civil war and exposes the greatest conspiracy in human history.
We both enjoyed it for the characters and action.  I didn't think that the main plot driver was as interesting as it could have been, and I would have liked to know more about the political aspects going on.  But, we will pick up the second book and read it sometime in the not-too-far future in case there are elements of the first one that need to be remembered.  I was interested enough to give the series some more room to move.

In the meantime, we still have a bunch in the queue.  First up is A Memory Called Empire (Martine), which is also a first of several in a series. Actually, it looks as though it might be the first of only two.  Here's the Amazon blurb:
Quote
Ambassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in the center of the multi-system Teixcalaanli Empire only to discover that her predecessor, the previous ambassador from their small but fiercely independent mining Station, has died. But no one will admit that his death wasn't an accident—or that Mahit might be next to die, during a time of political instability in the highest echelons of the imperial court.

Now, Mahit must discover who is behind the murder, rescue herself, and save her Station from Teixcalaan's unceasing expansion—all while navigating an alien culture that is all too seductive, engaging in intrigues of her own, and hiding a deadly technological secret—one that might spell the end of her Station and her way of life—or rescue it from annihilation.

Sounds intriguing! And it got several major awards and nominations.  We have only read the prelude so far, and the writing does not seem to flow as cleanly as in the O'Keefe and Corey books.  However, the prelude is not always a fair indicator of how a book will proceed, as it often seems to be written in a different style.  It's going to take some time to adjust to the new universe and naming conventions.  Maybe we should have taken a non-scifi palate cleanser in between.  Still, we are looking forward to reading more.

Vkw10

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #351 on: October 11, 2020, 11:22:14 AM »
Currently reading Megan Whelan Turner’s Return of the Thief, just published this week. She’s introduced a new character as narrator. When she introduced a reluctant guard as narrator in The King of Attolia, I was hesitant, but it worked well. This time, I’m looking forward to seeing how this most unlikely narrator will transform.
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Parasaurolophus

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #352 on: October 11, 2020, 12:15:54 PM »
September's small haul:

Daniel Defoe - A Journal of the Plague Year: Read this one with my partner. It was a really interesting read, and gave some neat perspectives on plaguen-times, which was especially fun and fascinating in relation to our present circumstances. Defoe's propensity to digression is really impressive, too.

Linnea Hartsuyker - The Half-Drowned King: It's fun to see some viking historical fiction by a woman, for once. It makes for a welcome change. There are a few small, jarring inaccuracies, and I'd have liked her to spend more time developing the combat scenes, but on the whole it was a fun read, and pretty compelling. I've acquired the two sequels, and I look forward to reading them. The mixed brother-sister perspectives work pretty well, and it's nice to get a different handle on period life than the usual doughty troublemaker's. Plus, y'know: Harald Fairhair's story is pretty compelling stuff!

Maria Dahvana Headley - Beowulf: A New Translation: This is a fun rendering of Beowulf into a more contemporary lingo. It's been about ten years since I last read Beowulf, and it was a lot of fun to revisit it in Headley's "translation" (I'm not sure that's quite the right term for this, but it's all i've been supplied with). I think she generally manages to capture the spirit of things, although there are times when it feels forced (hwæt/bro, for instance, sometimes works and sometimes doesn't). Still, I'm glad I acquired it, and it now sits beside my Heaney. Plus, the cover is beautiful.

Emily St. John Mandel - The Glass Hotel: I decided to read this on the strength of Station Eleven, which was my favourite book of the year it came out. This is nothing like that, apart from the semi-Canadian setting (yay!), and it's not the sort of thing I usually read, but I found it lovely and really compelling. It was hard to figure out what kind of story it was for quite a while, not least because of the shifts in narrative perspective, and that's not something I usually care for, but I thought it worked really well. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and thought it came together beautifully at the end. Actually, it takes a shift in a totally unexpected direction towards the end. Really cool.
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ab_grp

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #353 on: October 11, 2020, 12:33:42 PM »
Emily St. John Mandel - The Glass Hotel: I decided to read this on the strength of Station Eleven, which was my favourite book of the year it came out. This is nothing like that, apart from the semi-Canadian setting (yay!), and it's not the sort of thing I usually read, but I found it lovely and really compelling. It was hard to figure out what kind of story it was for quite a while, not least because of the shifts in narrative perspective, and that's not something I usually care for, but I thought it worked really well. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and thought it came together beautifully at the end. Actually, it takes a shift in a totally unexpected direction towards the end. Really cool.

This sounds good.  We loved Station Eleven but hadn't read her other novels.  We'll keep an eye out for this one.

hmaria1609

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #354 on: October 11, 2020, 03:35:33 PM »
Doing a binge read of the "Lady Darby Mystery" series by Anna Lee Huber. I came across the series not too long ago at the library--I had seen the author's name before from an another historical mystery author.  So, I'm on hold for the latest and #8 installment from the library!

September's small haul:
Linnea Hartsuyker - The Half-Drowned King: It's fun to see some viking historical fiction by a woman, for once. It makes for a welcome change. There are a few small, jarring inaccuracies, and I'd have liked her to spend more time developing the combat scenes, but on the whole it was a fun read, and pretty compelling. I've acquired the two sequels, and I look forward to reading them. The mixed brother-sister perspectives work pretty well, and it's nice to get a different handle on period life than the usual doughty troublemaker's. Plus, y'know: Harald Fairhair's story is pretty compelling stuff!
I borrowed and read the trilogy from the library. The author's notes at the end of each novel was fascinating to read too. Happy reading!

ab_grp

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #355 on: November 07, 2020, 10:57:39 AM »
I forgot to report that we finished A Memory Called Empire.  The story was interesting, and I really liked a lot of the characters.  I'm not sure the whole thing pulled together perfectly, so we ended up giving it 4/5 stars (same as Leviathan Wakes).  We'll certainly read the second book.  One aspect I wondered about is the inclusion of items we currently use, though this is set in a time of space travel (beyond what we have now).  I am curious if that was done on purpose or not, because it seems like so many sci fi novels of this type try to come up with so many new ways of doing things that are different from what we are used to.  In any case, I am impressed that this is a debut novel, and I'm not surprised that it won, was a finalist for, or was nominated for major awards.

For the past couple days, we've been reading The City & the City (Mieville).  I read it for book club a few years ago and thought it had a neat premise and was very involving.  It's described as a cross between "weird fiction" and police procedural, and that's pretty apt, I think.  His writing style seems so distinctive and engaging.  Here's the blurb on Amazon:

Quote
When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. To investigate, Borlú must travel from the decaying Beszel to its equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the vibrant city of Ul Qoma. But this is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a seeing of the unseen. With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, Borlú is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one. As the detectives uncover the dead woman’s secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them more than their lives. What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.

spork

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #356 on: November 07, 2020, 02:31:18 PM »
Now reading The Secret Life of Groceries by Benjamin Lorr. So far it's quite good. Similar to Wine Wars by Mike Veseth and Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation.
It's terrible writing, used to obfuscate the fact that the authors actually have nothing to say.

Parasaurolophus

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #357 on: November 11, 2020, 03:13:32 PM »
Happily, I found some fab new scifi the other day. But before I can report on that, here's October:

Erin Bowman - Contagion: Quite a fun teen novel about a zombie outbreak on a distant mining outpost. Very hard to put down once we get to the destination; excellent execution.

Erin Bowman - Immunity: The sequel to Contagion, this one is very much a teen novel. It's astonishing how much teen novels can resemble one another, actually; I'm put in mind of Mira Grant's zombie and parasite series (especially the latter), although it's a lot like The Hunger Games and its clones, too. It's not plot-level similarities, although those are clearly there--evil greedy soulless corporations devoid of a moral compass, and all that--but even the characters and their arcs are super-similar. Consequently, it was much less exciting than its predecessor, which is a great standalone zombie scifi mashup. I kept waiting for the real action to happen, and when it finally did, it was much too brief and contained.

Halldór Laxness - Wayward Heroes: I don't often read properly 'literary' literature, but this one caught my eye. I once started reading Independent People, but stopped after a while because it was kinda of dull (if beautiful) and I was excited to read other things, and I haven't picked it up again. This one is a retelling of the Saga of the Sworn Brothers and Saint Olaf's Saga, but as a biting indictment of human cruelty, stupidity, and vainglory. It's superbly done, but also incredibly frustrating/hard to read as someone who loves saga literature precisely for the same qualities which are so effectively satirized here. I'm really glad I took the plunge, and doubtless I'll try Independent People again soon(ish).

Jorge Luis Borges - Labyrinths: I've read a lot about Borges and his stories, but the only story I'd read before was Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote. I'm really glad I picked this up, because man, the guy was brilliant. The stories are just so rich, especially for a philosopher like me. There's a whole huge range of issues to sink your teeth into. I'll have to hunt down more.
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ergative

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #358 on: November 11, 2020, 11:37:34 PM »
Happily, I found some fab new scifi the other day. But before I can report on that, here's October:

Oh, you tease!

Erin Bowman - Contagion: Quite a fun teen novel about a zombie outbreak on a distant mining outpost. Very hard to put down once we get to the destination; excellent execution.

Erin Bowman - Immunity: The sequel to Contagion, this one is very much a teen novel. It's astonishing how much teen novels can resemble one another, actually; I'm put in mind of Mira Grant's zombie and parasite series (especially the latter), although it's a lot like The Hunger Games and its clones, too. It's not plot-level similarities, although those are clearly there--evil greedy soulless corporations devoid of a moral compass, and all that--but even the characters and their arcs are super-similar. Consequently, it was much less exciting than its predecessor, which is a great standalone zombie scifi mashup. I kept waiting for the real action to happen, and when it finally did, it was much too brief and contained.

Halldór Laxness - Wayward Heroes: I don't often read properly 'literary' literature, but this one caught my eye. I once started reading Independent People, but stopped after a while because it was kinda of dull (if beautiful) and I was excited to read other things, and I haven't picked it up again. This one is a retelling of the Saga of the Sworn Brothers and Saint Olaf's Saga, but as a biting indictment of human cruelty, stupidity, and vainglory. It's superbly done, but also incredibly frustrating/hard to read as someone who loves saga literature precisely for the same qualities which are so effectively satirized here. I'm really glad I took the plunge, and doubtless I'll try Independent People again soon(ish).

Jorge Luis Borges - Labyrinths: I've read a lot about Borges and his stories, but the only story I'd read before was Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote. I'm really glad I picked this up, because man, the guy was brilliant. The stories are just so rich, especially for a philosopher like me. There's a whole huge range of issues to sink your teeth into. I'll have to hunt down more.

I'm also so glad to hear that you're diving into Borges! I audited a SFF literature class in college, and we were assigned some of his stories, and ever since then I've sought out and read I think every one of his stories. Some are better than others, but many are just so imaginative! When our young cousins turn 13 we usually include a collection in their package of 'welcome-to-adulthood' books.

I've been reading a lot of Frances Hardinge recently. During the Great Vote Count last week I finished A Skinful of Shadows and Deeplight. They are marketed as YA books, but they are not at all teen novels in the sense that you describe. Deeplight had some really interesting things to say on how society changes when oppressive dangerous powers are overthrown (although, oddly, not in a way that feels immediately relevant to the current situation, since the oppressive dangerous powers are semi-sentient sea gods), and had a really great illustration of how a friendship can be toxic and abusive in the same way romantic relationships can be. A Skinful of Shadows had a refreshingly savvy child who does not make the overly naive decisions to trust people that are so often betrayed in frustrating ways in YA books. And the ending was a wonderful example of merciful second chances being granted to people who were unfairly deprived of first chances.

sprout

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #359 on: November 12, 2020, 10:02:38 AM »
Happily, I found some fab new scifi the other day. But before I can report on that, here's October:

Erin Bowman - Contagion: Quite a fun teen novel about a zombie outbreak on a distant mining outpost. Very hard to put down once we get to the destination; excellent execution.

Erin Bowman - Immunity: The sequel to Contagion, this one is very much a teen novel. It's astonishing how much teen novels can resemble one another, actually; I'm put in mind of Mira Grant's zombie and parasite series (especially the latter), although it's a lot like The Hunger Games and its clones, too. It's not plot-level similarities, although those are clearly there--evil greedy soulless corporations devoid of a moral compass, and all that--but even the characters and their arcs are super-similar. Consequently, it was much less exciting than its predecessor, which is a great standalone zombie scifi mashup. I kept waiting for the real action to happen, and when it finally did, it was much too brief and contained.

Halldór Laxness - Wayward Heroes: I don't often read properly 'literary' literature, but this one caught my eye. I once started reading Independent People, but stopped after a while because it was kinda of dull (if beautiful) and I was excited to read other things, and I haven't picked it up again. This one is a retelling of the Saga of the Sworn Brothers and Saint Olaf's Saga, but as a biting indictment of human cruelty, stupidity, and vainglory. It's superbly done, but also incredibly frustrating/hard to read as someone who loves saga literature precisely for the same qualities which are so effectively satirized here. I'm really glad I took the plunge, and doubtless I'll try Independent People again soon(ish).

Jorge Luis Borges - Labyrinths: I've read a lot about Borges and his stories, but the only story I'd read before was Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote. I'm really glad I picked this up, because man, the guy was brilliant. The stories are just so rich, especially for a philosopher like me. There's a whole huge range of issues to sink your teeth into. I'll have to hunt down more.

Spouse was just telling me yesterday that I need to read Borges.   Also, I read Laxness' Independent People a few years ago, after getting back from a trip to Iceland.  It took me a while to get into it, but when I did it was one of those rich, lush novels you just sink into and don't want to leave.  I may have to check out Wayward Heroes.