Current Reads

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Re: Current Reads

Post  themis on Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:34 pm

Algae wrote:I just started Gun Machine and now I'm mad that I have to work and can't keep reading it...

Those of you who've read this, did you think that at the end we were supposed to know who "CTS" actually was-? That Tallow refers to him by his real name in the book, but Ellis doesn't tell you what that is, like you should probably figure out which historical maniac "CTS" is based on from the information he's given you. I really liked the book, but after ten minutes' reflection, I thought wait - did I miss something really big, he wasn't just a run-of-the-mill no-name psychotic?

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Re: Current Reads

Post  Algae on Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:41 am

You know, Themis, I'm not sure. I kind of think that it's completely fictional, but I'm really not up on serial killers. I don't read a ton of that type of book and it doesn't generally cross my path.
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Re: Current Reads

Post  MaddyCat on Sat Feb 01, 2014 3:23 am

Okay, y'all. I just read a really great book, a memoir, called Brain on Fire. It's about a woman in her early twenties--self-sufficient, vibrant, well-liked--who begins to act strangely; we're talking massive mood swings, paranoia, insomnia, etc. People think she's having a nervous breakdown, or maybe is manic-depressive. Then she starts having seizures. She's hospitalized but tests come back negative and...well it goes on from there. And she reconstructs all this from doctors' notes, video from the hospital ward, journals her parents kept, and interviews w/friends who visited her because she has no memory of the month she was hospitalized (by the way, I'm not spoiling--all told on the back cover). Anyhow, it's equal parts fascinating and terrifying and just really, really good. I blew through it in 2 days. Highly recommend!

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Re: Current Reads

Post  whatthedeuce on Sat Feb 01, 2014 3:33 am

That sounds awesome and also rather freaky. Totally going on my list once I finish Robert Hilburn's Johnny Cash bio, which is really excellent so far!

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Re: Current Reads

Post  Raksha on Sat Feb 01, 2014 7:28 am

Today I finished Milk It!: Collected Musings on the Alternative Music Explosion of the 90s by Jim DeRogatis. Meh. It was alright. The person who wrote the introduction went on and on about what a maverick music writer DeRogatis and blah blah blah, but I didn't see a whole lot in there that went against the grain of bog standard opinions about 90s alt rock. Well, except for the fact that he hates Sonic Youth. Maybe there are more renegade essays in the last third of the book, but by that point I was skimming and flipping through pretty fast. One thing that really irritated me is that even though he claims to be a feminist, women's bands are all wrangled into one small-ish chapter and basically the entire rest of the book is wall to wall dudes. Also, when he does write about female musicians, their sexuality and physical appearance are front and center in ways it just isn't for male musicians. The Liz Phair article was entirely about her sexuality, in fact, to the point where any discussion of her music is entirely secondary, and then the article concludes with DeRogatis declaring that he personally finds Phair unfuckable. Feh.


Last week, I finished the Stargate Atlantis: Legacy series. It's a six-book series written as a collaboration between Jo Graham, Amy Griswold, and Melissa Scott. This series was fantastic! I hated how the series ended. I didn't care much for the entire last season, actually. Thankfully, this series basically addressed all of the problems I'd had with the series and told a great adventure story on top of it. They manage to take Atlantis back to the Pegasus Galaxy, they called certain characters out on their dismissive attitudes toward Pegasus natives, gave Ronon and (especially) Teyla lots to do and some great character development and back story. Also,
Spoiler:
Sheppard and Teyla finally hook up, which I've been waiting for since, like, the first season. Also, at the end of the book it's implied that Elizabeth Weir was ascended and has possibly pulled a Daniel and gotten herself un-ascended and it out there in Pegasus somewhere.
They concluded the storyline of the book in a very satisfying way, but it also leaves open lots of exciting plot possibilities for future books, which I really hope get written, especially if they're written by any or all of these 3 authors.
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Re: Current Reads

Post  katesti on Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:25 pm

Brain on Fire is indeed excellent - I read it a few months ago and saw a reading and talk with Susannah Cahalan, who just floors me. Definitely recommended.

I'm currently having the thing I remember from last time I was pregnant, where I am unable to focus long enough to finish a book that I haven't read before. Therefore, I'm going to be rereading some stuff for the next few weeks (!!!), starting with The Fault In Our Stars, thanks to the movie trailer that just came out. There are reasons this is a silly plan, but oh John Green.

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Re: Current Reads

Post  Bad Username on Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:06 am

Raksha wrote:Last week, I finished the Stargate Atlantis: Legacy series.  It's a six-book series written as a collaboration between Jo Graham, Amy Griswold, and Melissa Scott.  This series was fantastic!  I hated how the series ended.  I didn't care much for the entire last season, actually.  Thankfully, this series basically addressed all of the problems I'd had with the series and told a great adventure story on top of it.  They manage to take Atlantis back to the Pegasus Galaxy, they called certain characters out on their dismissive attitudes toward Pegasus natives, gave Ronon and (especially) Teyla lots to do and some great character development and back story.  Also,
Spoiler:
Sheppard and Teyla finally hook up, which I've been waiting for since, like, the first season.  Also, at the end of the book it's implied that Elizabeth Weir was ascended and has possibly pulled a Daniel and gotten herself un-ascended and it out there in Pegasus somewhere.
 They concluded the storyline of the book in a very satisfying way, but it also leaves open lots of exciting plot possibilities for future books, which I really hope get written, especially if they're written by any or all of these 3 authors.


I had no idea this was a thing! Thanks Raksha.

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Re: Current Reads

Post  Raksha on Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:31 am

Oh, and FYI for those who are interested: those Legacy books are only available as ebooks from places like Amazon, but you can get them print on demand from stargatenovels.com, which is what I did. Their shipping is insanely fast!

Today I finished Chicks Dig Comics edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Sigrid Ellis. It's a collection of essays and interviews by (mostly) women, fans and creators, about all sorts of things related to women and comics. Like cosplay and how some women came to be comics creators and how being fans of comics had an impact on other aspects of their lives. Lots of good stuff!
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Re: Current Reads

Post  Kookla on Sun Feb 02, 2014 7:33 pm

I've just read The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, which was last year's Man Book Prize winner. I had to speed through it because I only had it for a week's lending period at the library. Overall, I loved it because was very much in the vein of a Wilkie Collins or something else old school like it. But I think I might have to buy it to reread it, because I have a lot of questions and thoughts that I don't have the luxury of going back and looking at. But my biggest one is, namely (for anyone on here who has read it):

Spoiler:
So who exactly dug up the gold that Emery Staines buried, and who put it in Crosbie Wells cottage at the end? And how exactly did Crosbie Wells die? (I somewhat get the implication that Francis Carver forced him to drink something) But was it Carver who dug up the gold? And if he did, why didn't he take it? And if it WAS Crosbie Wells who dug it up, that still leaves the question of why didn't Carver take it when he found it in his house? Is this supposed to be some final irony by the author - the fact that this was one of the main questions of the novel, but it was left deliberately vague? I didn't know what to make of that.)

Anyway, I still loved it. I didn't quite want it to end.

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Re: Current Reads

Post  inversed on Sat Feb 08, 2014 7:41 pm

Ready Player One is not as good as I expected, after all the hype. The story is interesting but the writing is really mediocre. I understand that the narrator isn't supposed to be a very sophisticated guy but it's still hard to read sometimes. I'll keep with it though, given the many recommendations.

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Re: Current Reads

Post  Jude on Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:35 pm

I finished two books this week: The Everything Store by Brad Stone, which is a history of Amazon.com and its founder, Jeff Bezos, and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

I found The Everything Store really interesting, mainly because over the years I've watched Amazon grow from a simple bookseller to a store that literally does sell (almost) everything. And Jeff Bezos is an amazing guy, driven and brilliant and just relentless, really. By the end I wasn't sure whether I liked the guy, but I still kind of admired him.

There's some controversy with this book in that Bezos' wife MacKenzie wrote a review on Amazon and gave it one star, which I find kind of hilarious. She disputes his facts and since she lived it, she should know, but she's also a little too close to the subject matter to be objective, so maybe the truth lies somewhere in between?

The Rosie Project was just fun: The story of a professor of Genetics who might (or not -- the book never states for certain) possibly have some degree of Asperger's, who has decided it's time he finds a wife. So he embarks on The Wife Project, devising a 12-page questionnaire for any candidates to complete, but discovers a completely unsuitable woman keeps taking up his time and thoughts. You can pretty much guess what happens, but still, it's a fun, funny read.


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Re: Current Reads

Post  Coneycat on Mon Feb 10, 2014 9:44 am

I've been reading Death at SeaWorld, about the captive orca controversy. Most of the deaths in the book are of the whales, but it was published in 2012 and does cover part of the OSHA case against SeaWorld and covers the humans killed by the whales. The prologue is an account of Tilikum's first killing, of the young trainer in BC, and it's extremely disturbing--but not any more disturbing than the accounts of whale captures, which include details like the mother and siblings who chased a boat for 150 miles, screaming distress calls, to try and get their family member back.

Funny bit: when Keiko, of Free Willy fame, was being rehabilitated from his tiny hot tank in Mexico, one of the things they did to give him something to look at late at night was put a television near his underwater viewing window and run movies. He liked videos of orcas, was interested in bits of Blazing Saddles and The Lion King, turned away from Free Willy-- and watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail in its entirety.

Infuriating bit: the SeaWorld types who argued against trying to rehabilitate and free Keiko, because it was "a dangerous experiment" and "too risky" for [a whale who was clearly fixing to die in that isolated dirty tank] him. As marine mammologist Naomi Rose pointed out, back when people were experimenting with capturing killer whales and holding them in captivity, the fact that a whole lot of whales promptly died (or died in the pens waiting for their fate to be decided) wasn't a deterrent.

Another infuriating bit: according to scientists, SeaWorld consistently underestimates the natural lifespan of orcas in the wild, claiming males live 25-30 years (which makes the age-at-death of their captive whales slightly less appalling.) They kicked up a horrible stink when Keiko died, claiming it was the rehabilitation effort that killed him (after all those years of ill health in a hot, dirty tank, OCEAN WATER was what killed him?)

At the time of his death, Keiko was about 27, which would have made him geriatric by SeaWorld's standard, which they did not seem to notice.

Throughout the book, there's an absolutely appalling lack of knowledge about or interest in killer whales in their natural habitat by the upper management of SeaWorld, and such interest by employees was discouraged according to the book. They know a lot about operant conditioning, and just about nothing about what constitutes normal behaviour by the animals under their care.

If you don't have the nerve for Blackfish (which I also have on hold at the library) but would like to check in on the controversy and the players, this book might be just the thing. You may still need to read in short bursts, or consult the index for the bits you want to know about. It's tough going.

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Re: Current Reads

Post  gannetguts on Tue Feb 11, 2014 6:08 am

I read that book in combination with watching Blackfish and both just about wrecked me. It is so upsetting.

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Re: Current Reads

Post  Coneycat on Tue Feb 11, 2014 9:01 am

gannetguts wrote:I read that book in combination with watching Blackfish and both just about wrecked me. It is so upsetting.

I assume you spent the next three days hiding under the bed, with someone pushing plates of food and glasses of rum to you. I can't even imagine trying to handle both at once. I expect to get Blackfish in a few weeks and I'm glad of the break.

The fact I spent most of Saturday night obsessively playing Free In the Harbour by Stan Rogers is perhaps related. (I know, it's a song about Newfoundlanders far from home. That night, it was a song about whales.)

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Re: Current Reads

Post  Raksha on Thu Feb 13, 2014 12:46 am

Today I finished Hand of Isis by Jo Graham and I liked it a lot. It's a historical novel following Cleopatra's life. It's told from the point of view of one of her handmaidens, who is her half-sister whose mother was a palace slave. They grew up together, along with another of their half-sisters who also became a handmaiden. I like Graham's writing a lot and even though I already knew what Cleopatra's life was like and how it all ended, I still teared up when it came to that part.

Apparently Jo Graham also has a book about the founding of the city of Alexandria, set right after Alexander's death. I'm going to have to track that one down.
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Re: Current Reads

Post  Kookla on Thu Feb 13, 2014 12:56 am

I read the book Night Film by Marisha Pessl and it was a ridiculous page-turner. It's about a reporter investigating the apparent suicide of a famous film director's daughter. The director is supposed to be some kind of Roman Polanski/Stanley Kubrick type figure, only even darker and more underground.

It was a really good book. The only thing I didn't like about it was the descriptions of Cordova's (the director's) supposedly terrifying movies. The author never really elaborates on his films in detail, only says they are extremely dark, but even when Pessl alludes to certain scenes, the descriptions come across as amateurish. She frequently uses some variation of the phrase, "In the film's haunting final scene," and then will describe some crap that sounds like a film student trying to be edgy, not the work of a renowned director.

Otherwise, it was enormously entertaining and I couldn't put it down for the better part of three days. Plus, some scenes actually did flat out scare me.

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Re: Current Reads

Post  MaddyCat on Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:54 pm

I loved Pessl's Special Topics in Calamity Physics (I believe that's an unpopular opinion around here), so I'm happy to know Night Film is good. I own it, but haven't been up to diving in yet. I guess now I am!

I am almost finished with Kate Atkinson's Life After Life and boy is it friggin' good. I love the narrator, Ursula, and especially love her sister Pamela. And I love all the emphasis on WWII, which I didn't know was a focal point before I started. Great read.

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Re: Current Reads

Post  Raksha on Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:27 am

I read The Maze Runner by James Dashner. I'm still not sure what to think of it. I liked it a lot, right up until the ending. I still liked it enough that I'm getting the second book from the library, but I don't know.
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Re: Current Reads

Post  inversed on Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:41 pm

Ready Player One was just OK. The writing was really meh, by the end I was just kind of skimming it.

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Re: Current Reads

Post  dinahmoe on Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:48 pm

Kookla wrote:I read the book Night Film by Marisha Pessl and it was a ridiculous page-turner. It's about a reporter investigating the apparent suicide of a famous film director's daughter. The director is supposed to be some kind of Roman Polanski/Stanley Kubrick type figure, only even darker and more underground.
Just bought this, on your rec. Will let you know what I think, but it looks like it is right up my alley.
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Re: Current Reads

Post  whatthedeuce on Mon Feb 17, 2014 6:08 pm

I was swept up by Night Film but felt so disappointed by the ending, which felt anti-climactic.

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Re: Current Reads

Post  snorf on Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:42 pm

I'm reading Outlander by Dianna Gabaldron for the first time. Mainly because I heard Ron D. Moore is turing it into a series and I miss his BSG podcasts (which is a perfectly logical reason to start a book, no?). A friend of mine is reading it at the same time because she was intrigued by the concept and can't stand it, but can't put it down.

We'll discuss it over email (she's a work buddy) so she'll send me emails quoting Claire and following it up with why the character is so unlikeable. The other day she said "I hate Claire more than Bella Swan, Snorf, Bella Swan". And that's when it clicked for me that it's like a fanfic! Claire is Bella, Jamie is Edward, and the big bad Captain Randall is Jacob. After we made this comparrison reading became a lot easier for her.

For what it's worth I'm enjoying it, I'm pretty forgivable when it comes to storytelling, my main problem with the book is how 20th century English nurse can understand 18th century Scottish highlands accent (and vice versa). But meh, schmantics, I'm easy.


Last edited by snorf on Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:48 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Spell check, spell check, spell check!)

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Re: Current Reads

Post  Raksha on Tue Feb 18, 2014 12:12 am

The reason it felt like a fanfic is probably because it basically started as an AU author-insert fanfic! The Jamie character was based on Jamie McCrimmon (played by actor Frazer Hines), a Companion of the Second Doctor in 60's Doctor Who. He was originally from the highlands of Scotland in the 18th century.

Which just makes Gabaldon's anti-fanfic attitude kind of hilariously hypocritical.
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Re: Current Reads

Post  snorf on Tue Feb 18, 2014 7:46 am

That makes *so* much sense! Can't wait to tell my friend - we're both Whovians, this may kill her a little on the inside. I saw the comments comparing fanfiction child slavery, I mean really?

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Re: Current Reads

Post  Coneycat on Tue Feb 18, 2014 9:14 am

I've just started reading Robert Crais's Suspect. Scott is an LAPD cop who was injured in an incident in which his partner, Stephanie, was murdered. Maggie is an ex-Marine with PTSD after an event in Afghanistan in which her partner, Pete, died. The two of them team up, although there are growing pains-- the first time Scott meets Maggie, she bites him.

Oh yes: Maggie is a German shepherd whose specialty is bomb detection.

I love Robert Crais's Elvis Cole books, and a bunch of his others, and the prologue (told from Maggie's point of view) of the day Pete died is so heartbreaking it took me three tries to read it (Scott's turmoil after Stephanie's death isn't exactly a picnic either) and I'm not sure if I can read this at bedtime, as I generally do but I really can't wait to see how Crais approaches the story.

I may peek and see whether Scott and Maggie are both alive on the last page, though...

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