January 2019 Reading Thread

biodroid

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@janeoreilly it was a strange book, the magic dog is always popular with Dean Koontz. I didn't really like it because at the time of reading it my brother-in-law got exactly the same brain tumor as what the main character got. Sadly no magic dog in that scenario.
 

Bick

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Human Voices by Penelope Fitzgerald was very good. I shall comment in more detail in the thread dedicated to this excellent author in due course.

I’m now turning to a P. G. Wodehouse I’ve not previously read, Pigs Have Wings. This is, as you might guess from the title, a Blandings novel, first published in 1952, making it one of Plum’s later books. So far, so good. I’m anticipating pigs going missing, folk impersonating other folk, and love blossoming against Lady Constance’s wishes.
 

tobl

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Bite your tongue! Here's what I thought of the last Honor book: Uncompromising Honor: The Best Honor Harrington Book? (No Spoilers) --- So you don't find the later Safehold books bloated, predictable, and filled with characters who have little to do with the main story arc?
no , i liked to find new perspectives. i didn't said the honor book was bad, just dark and depressing. and it didn't finished the story. as for safehold it's generally a good read
 

Hugh

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George MacDonald "Phantastes". I read this purely because it influenced the young Tolkien (though in later years I believe he was less keen on it), and, apparently, had a truly transformative effect on C.S.Lewis. I'd been looking forward to reading it, but was a little disappointed, in part because of the overwrought writing style, in part because of the earnestness of the young protagonist. Essentially it seems to follow the romantic yearning of a young man's quest through Faerie and the gradual metamorphosis of this journey into one of spiritual search and eventual self-sacrifice. I'd like to have felt personally more touched by this quest, as I'm sure that was the intention of the author, but I'm afraid I could not get that involved.
 

hitmouse

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Human Voices by Penelope Fitzgerald was very good. I shall comment in more detail in the thread dedicated to this excellent author in due course.

I’m now turning to a P. G. Wodehouse I’ve not previously read, Pigs Have Wings. This is, as you might guess from the title, a Blandings novel, first published in 1952, making it one of Plum’s later books. So far, so good. I’m anticipating pigs going missing, folk impersonating other folk, and love blossoming against Lady Constance’s wishes.
Superb comedy.
 

Parson

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Finished Earth Warden by Tony James Slater. This is a new author for me. The idea was decent and for a time I thought it was going to be somewhere between good and very good Juvenile SF. But as the book wore on it seemed to get more unbelievable on an individual level. The thing that rang my bell was that several times a complete novice suggests an obvious solution to a pair of very experienced operatives who are shocked. I might buy it once; twice, not so much; and a third time? Not at all.

I also finished Seven Bridges by LJ Ross. This British author writes fine detective novels. I've never been disappointed. The only negative that I can see is that if you speak American English, you can easily be flummoxed by British English colloquialisms and police procedures.

I've nearly finished In Her Name: First Contact by Michael R. Hicks. It is a space opera/military SF series. So far I like book 1 very well. It has an interesting take on aliens. It's not quite original but well done.

I've made a good start on Ask No Mercy by Martin Osterdalhl. It is a spy novel by a Swedish author. I'm about 25% into the book and I have high expectations.
 

dannymcg

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I've nearly finished In Her Name: First Contact by Michael R. Hicks. It is a space opera/military SF series. So far I like book 1 very well. It has an interesting take on aliens. It's not quite original but well done
Even on his own site it's very confusing the reading order of the Empire books.
Three sub-series that seem to intertwine around each other, that's the main reason I've avoided any of his stuff since I first heard of him last year.
 

Hugh

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Ben MacIntyre: "The Spy and the Traitor".
An account of Oleg Gordievsky's recruitment from the KGB by MI6 and his remarkable 1985 escape from Moscow with the assistance of the British Embassy . I found the first third (the recruitment) and last third (the escape) truly gripping.
I don't read much in this genre, but I had been impressed by MacIntyre's previous "A Spy among Friends: Philby and the Great Betrayal". The contrast between the books is interesting: Philby was portrayed as a loathesome devious man who caused the deaths of many (well, he certainly did), whereas Gordievsky is portrayed as an upright hero (he may well be, for all I know). Little significant detail is given about the actual information that Gordievsky gave to MI6, and naturally there may be much that is misleading in the book, but the overall picture and the subtlety of interactions are convincingly atmospheric.
 

Extollager

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George MacDonald "Phantastes". I read this purely because it influenced the young Tolkien (though in later years I believe he was less keen on it), and, apparently, had a truly transformative effect on C.S.Lewis. I'd been looking forward to reading it, but was a little disappointed, in part because of the overwrought writing style, in part because of the earnestness of the young protagonist. Essentially it seems to follow the romantic yearning of a young man's quest through Faerie and the gradual metamorphosis of this journey into one of spiritual search and eventual self-sacrifice. I'd like to have felt personally more touched by this quest, as I'm sure that was the intention of the author, but I'm afraid I could not get that involved.
Congratulations, though, for making the effort to read this book that, as you say, was important for Tolkien (where is that established again?) and Lewis (by the way, it was important for Owen Barfield too). I hope you will follow it up with several MacDonald works. If you can read no others, read, for sure, the tale "The Golden Key" -- but I wouldn't be surprised if you have read it already, since that's the one for which Tolkien had agreed to write an introduction, and ended up writing Smith of Wootton Major instead (so: no "Golden Key," no Smith). If you haven't read it, "The Day Boy and the Night Girl" / "Photogen and Nycteris" is a favorite of mine. I suspect you will like them more than Phantastes. There are several other good fairy tales by GM. But his late faerie novel Lilith is a standout. Where I've read Phantastes twice (around 1975, and around 2005), I've read Lilith seven times -- that's the final version; I've also read the first version. Finally, Phantastes might be one of those books that's better when reread than when read the first time....

Lin Carter's fantasy series for Ballantine reprinted the two faerie novels and several of the tales, including the two I mentioned.
 

Extollager

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Congratulations, though, for making the effort to read this book that, as you say, was important for Tolkien (where is that established again?) and Lewis (by the way, it was important for Owen Barfield too). I hope you will follow it up with several MacDonald works. If you can read no others, read, for sure, the tale "The Golden Key" -- but I wouldn't be surprised if you have read it already, since that's the one for which Tolkien had agreed to write an introduction, and ended up writing Smith of Wootton Major instead (so: no "Golden Key," no Smith). If you haven't read it, "The Day Boy and the Night Girl" / "Photogen and Nycteris" is a favorite of mine. I suspect you will like them more than Phantastes. There are several other good fairy tales by GM. But his late faerie novel Lilith is a standout. Where I've read Phantastes twice (around 1975, and around 2005), I've read Lilith seven times -- that's the final version; I've also read the first version. Finally, Phantastes might be one of those books that's better when reread than when read the first time....

Lin Carter's fantasy series for Ballantine reprinted the two faerie novels and several of the tales, including the two I mentioned.
How about other books Lewis and Tolkien read -- She, A Voyage to Arcturus, The Time Machine, etc.?
 

Ian Fortytwo

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Although I am still reading The Complete Robot , I've just started Burning Chrome, by William Gibson. Of course they are short stories, so it gives me some variety.
 

Hugh

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Congratulations, though, for making the effort to read this book that, as you say, was important for Tolkien (where is that established again?) .
Ah! Looks like my complete confabulation regarding Tolkien and Phantastes! I can't find a reference anywhere. However, there's a lengthy note on MacDonald in the Annotated Hobbit that mentions Phantastes so I may well have selected the title from that as the one I'd like to read. Tolkien's "On Fairy Stories" references Lilith but not Phantastes. Despite this, I would be very surprised indeed if Tolkien had not read Phantastes. And if he hadn't read it before meeting C.S. Lewis, I think it likely he'd have read it subsequently.

The only MacDonalds that I've definitely read are "The Princess and the Goblin" (terrified me when young, but most impressed as an adult) and its follow-up. But it wouldn't surprise me if I read others when young. Given your recommendation I may well read "Lilith" one day.

While there's much to admire in Phantastes, the imagery for instance, I found it difficult to become involved enough to savour it. The edition I read did have the Hughes illustrations.

The only other Tolkien influence that I plan to read at present is "The Red Fairy Book" (waiting on the shelf), though I'll probably get hold of "The Marvellous Land of Snergs" before long.
 

hitmouse

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Congratulations, though, for making the effort to read this book that, as you say, was important for Tolkien (where is that established again?) and Lewis (by the way, it was important for Owen Barfield too). I hope you will follow it up with several MacDonald works. If you can read no others, read, for sure, the tale "The Golden Key" -- but I wouldn't be surprised if you have read it already, since that's the one for which Tolkien had agreed to write an introduction, and ended up writing Smith of Wootton Major instead (so: no "Golden Key," no Smith). If you haven't read it, "The Day Boy and the Night Girl" / "Photogen and Nycteris" is a favorite of mine. I suspect you will like them more than Phantastes. There are several other good fairy tales by GM. But his late faerie novel Lilith is a standout. Where I've read Phantastes twice (around 1975, and around 2005), I've read Lilith seven times -- that's the final version; I've also read the first version. Finally, Phantastes might be one of those books that's better when reread than when read the first time....

Lin Carter's fantasy series for Ballantine reprinted the two faerie novels and several of the tales, including the two I mentioned.
I think the complete MacDonald collection is available for free on the kindle. I downloaded it several years ago.
 

Parson

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Even on his own site it's very confusing the reading order of the Empire books.
Three sub-series that seem to intertwine around each other, that's the main reason I've avoided any of his stuff since I first heard of him last year.
I'm assuming that this is another series than the "In Her Name" series which seems pretty straight forward in terms of which book is which.

I've finished In Her Name: First Contact by Michael Hicks. This book's ending was not as solid as the rest of the book. The ending made sense (in terms of the world view taken in this universe) but once again I felt that there were too many? incredible saves of one of the major characters. I may read book 2, but it is being sold for $4.99 so between my hesitation on the ending and the price I'm going to pass for a time and look for something which suits me better. ---- And yes if it would have been on Kindle Unlimited I would have continued onto book 2.
 

dannymcg

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I'm assuming that this is another series than the "In Her Name" series which seems pretty straight forward in terms of which book is which.

I've finished In Her Name: First Contact by Michael Hicks. This book's ending was not as solid as the rest of the book. The ending made sense (in terms of the world view taken in this universe) but once again I felt that there were too many? incredible saves of one of the major characters. I may read book 2, but it is being sold for $4.99 so between my hesitation on the ending and the price I'm going to pass for a time and look for something which suits me better. ---- And yes if it would have been on Kindle Unlimited I would have continued onto book 2.
After taking a close look at the author's website it looks like he did a Star Wars thing with his books...the first three are a standard trilogy.
The next three are a prequel trilogy.
I'm uncertain still as to where the next trilogy takes place, (either after the original trilogy or in between the other two!)
I think the day will eventually come when I spend some shekels, get all nine 'In Her Name& books and binge read for a month
 

Brian G Turner

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Finished the Michael Caine biography What's it all About and was totally addicted. He's lived an interesting life, not least fighting on the frontline of the Korean War, though toward the end the book descended into a list of names attending parties.

I'm flip-flopping again on whether I should have done a science degree, so am reading Earth Science by Tarbuck and Lutgens to get that out of my system. It's a beautifully presented text book I found as required reading on some university course or other, and felt an overwhelming compulsion to buy it, despite the price tag, in case it inspires my youngest daughter - who still has no idea what to study if she does goes into higher education, though she's a few years left to decide. :)

On an evening I'm reading Revendez-Vous with Rama by Arthur C Clarke, which feels too short and badly dated, not least because of the extremely objective POV. It's interesting enough to continue, but I'm glad it's not a longer book.
 
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