December 2020 Reading Thread

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Parson

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Well since my last post here I've finished A Depth of Understanding by Mackey Chandler and I was mostly right. It did have a libertarian view of sex, but it was not a major feature. Any of the later Heinlein books with Lazarus Long push the envelop further, but it did address one of the problems with the libertarian idea of letting people settle their own disputes by duels. It had an "unjust" duel which was thwarted by another member of the habitat (I won't say more so as not to spoil it), which still struck me as being just this side of impossible and still not addressing the obvious problems of the best duelist being the de-facto boss of the society. I'll probably return to this soon because I believe there will soon be moves toward Mars and beyond.

I'm also 80% done with Valor's Calling by Kal Spriggs and it continues being interesting, I am disappointed in this book because in the last book the main character Jiden Armstrong had graduated the Academy and I expected a more military S.F. work, instead she's now one of the instructors at the academy and is viewing the process from the opposite side. The first chapter made me angry because the first thing that's introduced is best called a love triangle with Jiden in it. But thank the Lord, it is not close to the major thrust of the story. It does continue to simmer near the surface of the book with other "interesting" guys thrown in. Overall I'd not rate it as highly as the first book, but more than good enough to warrant book three.
 

Galactic Bus Driver

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Just the highlights for this month:

Re-read the entire Kitty Norville series by Carrie Vaughn for the first time in several years, including the latest Cormac and Amelia books (Kitty universe spin-offs) I hadn't got to yet.

Finished The Chronicles of St. Mary's (so far) by Jodi Taylor and am eagerly anticipating their further adventures.

Finally read "Cloud Atlas" by David Mitchell. I tried (and DNF) this book years ago. I recently saw the film version and discovered a rather odd, disjointed, perplexing and ultimately amazing film, so I decided to give the book another go. Finished it this time through, but have to admit that this is one of the exceedingly rare times that, not only did Hollywood get it right, they managed to do better than the book.

So, 68 titles completed in November. 490 titles completed this year, 85 more than my goal with a month to go. :eek: I honestly expected that if I made my original goal, It wouldn't be until late December and would likely require a bit of a scramble in the last couple weeks. As is, I'm on pace for 535 for the year.

Since my inclusion of my running list is running afoul of the character limit for a post, I've attached a .txt for those who are interested.
The running list:
 

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HareBrain

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Finally finished The Magus by John Fowles last night. I last read this fifteen years ago, but even so, I'm amazed how little I'd retained -- and my memory of the ending was completely wrong.

I can't account for the fact that it's 640 pages. Reviewing the plot, it feels like it should have been 400 at most. But it was never boring, and was fascinating in parts. OTOH I'm not sure what the events it depicts amount to. I'll probably spend the rest of the day reading reviews on Goodreads (which I wasn't aware of last time) to try to puzzle it out.

Now reading Greenwitch by Susan Cooper.
 

Randy M.

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Currently floundering around. Until I decide what to light on, I'm reading short stories -- from Best Ghost Stories of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Hercule Poirot: The Complete Stories and The Christmas Card Crime.

Randy M.
 

Hugh

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Lester del Rey: “The Best of Lester del Rey”
Sixteen stories first published between 1938 and 1964. Several good ones and no real duds.
 

hitmouse

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Finally finished The Magus by John Fowles last night. I last read this fifteen years ago, but even so, I'm amazed how little I'd retained -- and my memory of the ending was completely wrong.

I can't account for the fact that it's 640 pages. Reviewing the plot, it feels like it should have been 400 at most. But it was never boring, and was fascinating in parts. OTOH I'm not sure what the events it depicts amount to. I'll probably spend the rest of the day reading reviews on Goodreads (which I wasn't aware of last time) to try to puzzle it out.
I read an opinion somewhere, a long time ago, which struck a note: that the Magus is best read n late teens/ early 20s, when it is profound and amazing. After that it starts to seem a bit silly.

I read it in my early 20s during a slightly hippy phase travelling around India, and was duly impressed. I even went Greek island hopping afterwards, channelling the vibe.
I don’t want to risk spoiling all that by rereading the book. It simply wouldnt be the same, and I do not think it will have grown over time. Not to diminish an amazing novel.
 

HareBrain

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I read an opinion somewhere, a long time ago, which struck a note: that the Magus is best read n late teens/ early 20s, when it is profound and amazing. After that it starts to seem a bit silly.
I also heard it's a "young man's book" by the person who lent it me in my (and his) early twenties. It's also the view of Fowles himself in his intro to the edition I've just read -- he said of his own writing of it that it's a novel by someone with an extended adolescence. Maybe I suffer from the same thing, because I didn't find it at all silly. The third read wowed me less than the first, but that's probably inevitable. It made more sense this time. It seemed more of its period (though thirty years after first reading it, that's hardly surprising), but also quite advanced for the mid-1960s, as far as I can judge. I think, though, it probably had more to teach young men, of a certain kind of upbringing, than other readers.

Now reading Greenwitch by Susan Cooper.
The copy I have isn't a very pleasant reading experience (small, faint type) so I went all nostalgic and ordered an early hardback. While I'm waiting for that, I've moved to God Emperor of Didcot by Toby Frost. I know humour is very personal, but this really chimes with mine, and it's packed with out-loud laughs.
 

Vince W

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Finished Berserker by Fred Saberhagen. It's been a long while since I read any of these stories, but it's a fairly impressive collection of stories surrounding the fight of humans against thinking machines who's goal it is to extinguish all life. They range from very good to mediocre with several of the stories linked together. If I had one quibble thus far it's that the machines seem too easily overcome.
 

Danny McG

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And right now I'm starting one from about 30 years ago that I've never read.
Warhorse by Timothy Zahn.

The blurb:-

When humanity first ventured out among the stars, it seemed that we were alone in the universe, the only tool-users in the galaxy - and thus were free to mold the very cosmos to our heart's desire.
It would take us a long time - our star drive wasn't very fast - but it was our Manifest Destiny ..and besides, there was no one to stop us - Then we met the Tampies!
 

Parson

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And right now I'm starting one from about 30 years ago that I've never read.
Warhorse by Timothy Zahn.

The blurb:-

When humanity first ventured out among the stars, it seemed that we were alone in the universe, the only tool-users in the galaxy - and thus were free to mold the very cosmos to our heart's desire.
It would take us a long time - our star drive wasn't very fast - but it was our Manifest Destiny ..and besides, there was no one to stop us - Then we met the Tampies!
A really good book! I think you will enjoy it. It has some very original ideas, and in my opinion that's never bad!
 

williamjm

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I finished Emily St. John Mandel's The Glass Hotel. It was one of those books where I did enjoy reading it but getting to end I feel that it's probably less than the sum of its parts. Taken individually the various subplots are well-written and the characters were interesting but I think the central narrative felt a bit lacking. A corrupt businessman and the 2008 global financial crisis connect together the various plotlines (which take place over decades) but while this plotline is probably the most interesting of those in the books the links to some of the other subplots feels a bit tenuous and even the resolution of that main plot feels a bit undramatic since we already know in advance most of what is going to happen. I felt that Mandel's previous book Station Eleven did a better job of tying the plotlines together.
 

Parson

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Have been reading Memories in the Drift by Melissa Payne. This is not my usual fare, but I find myself hooked on it deeply. It's the story of a woman who loses her short term memory in an accident. What I find terribly appealing is her organization and determination. She manages her life by continually making notes of things she needs to remember and keeps a calendar by notes and alerts on her phone. Maybe I find it so compelling because my Dad tried to do that with Alzheimer's with some success earlier. I plan on reviewing it when I finish the book, but I am very hopeful.
 

pambaddeley

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Reading Brian McClellan's Powder Mage trilogy - finished Promise of Blood and now on The Crimson Campaign.
 

Parson

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I've finished Memories in the Drift by Melissa Payne. I frankly loved it. I might quibble a little with the ending, but that's not to that it came ex deus machina or anything like that. It's not how I would have written the ending, but I'm not a best selling author either. This is the second book by Melissa Payne and frankly I think she's going to be a star. Here's my Amazon review.

This story has a lot to recommend It is a story of a young woman who loses her memory, but refuses to lose her life. Her ability to function in her life where she can't remember anything for more than a day and she often cannot remember for more than a few minutes, is heart rending. But It is filled with characters That you want to see succeed and who are good deep down. You will enjoy the area described and you will find that this book will stay with you a long time. A good story about good people, who find a way to make it through a sometimes hard life.

Recommended
 

Galactic Bus Driver

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Anyone read Larry Correia? Is he a good writer? I found Monster Hunter International on Amazon (US) for free and it's not bad so far.
I've read a couple of his 'Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent' books. Entertaining and amusing. I'll certainly read more of his work in the future.
 
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