Books: 2nd Edition

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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby daughter of the King » Oct 27, 2018 5:09 pm

Anfinwen wrote:I really liked "A Tangled Web" though it was a slow start and I really wanted a family tree to sort everyone out.

Oh, I really liked that one! I too want a family tree, though. ;)) It is in some ways several interconnected stories rather than one narrative, but I thought a lot of the characters were interesting. Although there were a few that made me feel like tearing my hair out. Blue Castle is definitely my favorite L.M. Montgomery book though.

fantasia_kitty wrote:Are there any other good Christmas books you all would recommend for younger children?

The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas by Madeliene L'Engle. Tomie dePaola has several Christmas themed books. My favorite growing up was An Early American Christmas.

I recently finished Six of Crows. I was disappointed in the ending. Inej getting captured felt wrong, and then it just sort of . . . stopped. It was a really fun ride until that point though and I will definitely be reading the sequel. I really like a lot of the characters.

I am currently reading Legion by Brandon Sanderson. It's three novellas, and I heard an audiobook of the first one awhile back. The main character, Stephen Leeds, is a genius with an unspecified mental condition that causes hallucinations of different aspects of himself and he solves crimes. The second one so far is just as engaging as the first.
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby ValiantArcher » Oct 29, 2018 7:10 pm

fk, I just remembered that the original American Girl books all had a Christmas book. ;)) Not sure if your kids would be interested, but it could be an interesting tie-in if you've been studying any of the historical periods in history.
Slightly less tongue-in-cheek, have you all read any of the Hank the Cowdog books by John R. Erickson? They're written for children (specifically to be read aloud, if I remember correctly), but I found them when I started college and still thought them a lot of fun. :)

Oooh, let me know what you think of Legion when you finish, Dot! I'm assuming it's a standalone book?
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby Anfinwen » Oct 30, 2018 10:25 am

ValiantArcher wrote:Slightly less tongue-in-cheek, have you all read any of the Hank the Cowdog books by John R. Erickson? They're written for children (specifically to be read aloud, if I remember correctly), but I found them when I started college and still thought them a lot of fun.


Oh yes! I can't count the night's our family snuggled down with those playing. There are so many now that I've stopped trying to keep up with them, and the new ones don't have the nostalgia factor that those I grew up on do. I think the very first one we ever heard is "The Swirling Killer Tornado." Oh how we loved it!
I also just like the author as a person. He had an interview with Dr. James Dobson, formerly of Focus on the Family, and told how there were talks going on for some sort of production based on his books; but they wanted to do things he didn't approve of, so he didn't go through with it.
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby SnowAngel » Nov 07, 2018 12:40 pm

Anfinwen, I will have to add Connilyn Cossette to my list of authors to try.

Nope, haven't gotten any more Wodehouse yet. I might have to wait a while to get some from the library, trying really hard to focus on reading unread books around the house. However Hoopla has a number of Wodehouse audiobooks, I should probably make an actually list of audiobooks to "read" and put some Wodehouse on it.

I certainly enjoyed In Sheep’s Clothing and Wiser Than Serpents by Susan May Warren, would love to get my hands on the middle book in the series. I was disappointed in Hidden Peril by Irene Hannon, I had enjoyed the first half of the book, but the second half just wasn't a pleasurable read. Also super tired of Christian authors' obsession with Starbucks.

I'm currently reading A Defense of Honor by Kristi Ann Hunter, Finding Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn (just barely started rereading this one, it will be a quick read once I have a couple of hours to just enjoy it), and The Courage To Be Christian by Mike Nappa (had to get this one from the library a second time, barely made any progress on it lately).

I'm almost finished listening to Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett, I read the book 4 or 5 years. I was looking for a quick entertaining read (plus I have been listening to The Adventures of Sam Spade radio show from the 1940s/1950s and that had me in the mood for some Dashiell Hammett, although I do prefer the radio shows to the books) and decide it would fun to listen to the audiobook and thus be able to recommend it to my brother. There's some language and definitely quite a bit of violence in Red Harvest.

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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby daughter of the King » Nov 07, 2018 3:18 pm

Valia wrote:Slightly less tongue-in-cheek, have you all read any of the Hank the Cowdog books by John R. Erickson? They're written for children (specifically to be read aloud, if I remember correctly), but I found them when I started college and still thought them a lot of fun

We actually did read them aloud. ;)) I don't remember any of the plots, but it was a fun addition to the usual read-aloud time when Mom wasn't trying to get through Freckles. It literally took her years because she would stop for long enough that we forgot where we were so we would have to start over again.

Legion was excellent. And yes, it is a stand-alone. It's the project he worked on when he needed a break from the other ones apparently. ;)) I believe at one point there was talk of adapting it for television? But then it fell through because FX picked up a Marvel show with the same name. Anyhow, I can definitely see how the three novellas could be expanded into two or three seasons if additional cases were written for the show.

Next up: Skyward by Brandon Sanderson. It came out yesterday? The day before? Anyway, my brother describes it as "Girl and her dragon meets Top Gun meets Ender's Game". And although there will be sequels, it currently doesn't require any additional reading from Sanderson's many other works. There are many sequels of his that I am impatient to read, but he produces such a variety of content so quickly it's hard to be annoyed with him. :p
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby Adeona » Nov 08, 2018 4:03 pm

ValiantArcher wrote:Slightly less tongue-in-cheek, have you all read any of the Hank the Cowdog books by John R. Erickson? They're written for children (specifically to be read aloud, if I remember correctly), but I found them when I started college and still thought them a lot of fun. :)

ABSOLUTELY!! :D We used to read them aloud together, and also listened to a few on tape. We still quote Drover on occasion - "Oh Hank, it's my leg. My leg's gone out, Hank! You'll have to go on without me!" etc. etc. :p

On the subject of Christmas books for kids, there weren't a ton that we really went back to regularly, but one that comes to mind is The Church Mice at Christmas, by Graham Oakley. There's a whole picture book series about these church mice, all fantastic for both kids and adults. Then there's a Little Golden Book called The Christmas Story, written by Jane Werner Watson and illustrated by Eloise Wilkin.
Oh, there's also an I Spy Christmas book, I believe. Not particularly edifying but rather fun. ;)
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby fantasia_kitty » Nov 16, 2018 10:01 pm

The past couple days I read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and all I could think of was "why on earth have I not read this before?" I actually remember trying in the past but couldn't get past the first chapter. Boy did I miss out! I loved it! I cried through the whole last chapter though. :P I've turned into a mushball like I remember my poor mom being when I was little. :P :))
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby ValiantArcher » Nov 18, 2018 6:58 pm

High-fives all around, Anfinwen, Dot, and Adeona! :D I knew you all had good tastes... ;))

Anfinwen, I've enjoyed the interviews I've read with John Erickson too (...one or two). I read a non-fiction book by him this year, about his time ranching in the late 80s or so, and really enjoyed it as well. Plus, World Magazine's site has been running some non-fiction excerpts of his recently which I have also found worth reading. :)

Hope your reading is going well, SA! Your focus on unread books around the house is admirable - I'm low-key trying it too, but I am also getting distracted by library books, so... :P ;)) I hope your attempts are more successful!

Your poor Mom trying to get through Freckles, Dot! ;)) Did she enjoy reading it more than you all enjoyed hearing it, or were you all just easily distracted?
Thanks for the info on Legion! I'll keep it on my radar, along with Skyward. :) Also, RIGHT??? I am still over here waiting for the last Wax & Wayne book, though I've a feeling we're more likely to get another Stormlight book first at the rate he's going...at least his distractions seem to be profitable and amusing to read. :P ;))

HAHA! Adeona, those parts with Drover are always great - and quite quotable. ;))

;)) fk, I read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever once and wasn't that impressed, but I may need to give it another read - especially since I don't remember why I wasn't impressed.

I recently finished Quiet Heroes: Navy Nurses of the Korean War by Frances Omori. I was hoping it would be more like some of the books I read this summer on WWII nurses as far as helping me gain a better understanding of the war through the nurses, but alas, it did not. It instead focused pretty narrowly on the nurses' work and first person memories. Which wasn't bad, but I lack the framework to understand why exactly the nurses were hit with so many casualties at certain points. I guess that means I'll just have to do some more reading on the Korean War - which isn't bad, but it's adding a third-prong to my current non-fiction reading focus (WWII, homesteading/western expansion/pioneering, and now the Korean War). :P ;))

I'm still trying to sort out what to read next. I've got more than a shelf of books I need to read for the first time (plus another shelf of books that I need to reread and decide if they deserve keeping) and a handful of library books too... I need a solid chunk of reading time. :P
So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory."
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby daughter of the King » Nov 26, 2018 6:05 pm

ValiantArcher wrote:Your poor Mom trying to get through Freckles, Dot! Did she enjoy reading it more than you all enjoyed hearing it, or were you all just easily distracted?
Easily distracted. Too many babies in the house to regularly read anything longer than a few chapters I think. ;))

I just finished Skyward. Excellent novel. There are a few questions I have that I hope the sequels will address, but overall a solid read.

And now, the question: to read the Six of Crows sequel or the third Tiffany Aching book. Decisions, decisions. . . And of course now that we're coming up on the holiday season it will be soon be time for a re-read of Hogfather.
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby Arwenel » Dec 04, 2018 2:18 am

I don't listen to my audio books much, but every so often i get a message from Audible that i'm almost at max credits, so i stop by to pick out a new one. It also reminds me that i can return anything i don't like, so i decided to go a little outside my tiny comfort zone and tried Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson. Well, i'm probably going to be using that return option. I haven't technically finished it, as i got frustrated at the end of chapter 13 and jumped to the end, so i might listen to those missed chapters, but even if i do i'm sending it back once i'm done.

I'd read R.J. Anderson's "No Ordinary Fairy Tale" series (Knife, Rebel, and Arrow) and mostly enjoyed it, even if i think the series name is a little silly. They were fun, light reads, but one thing that bugged me about them was the plot structure, namely the lack of it. The stories move from point to point, shifting focus as the characters have things revealed to them, usually in an abrupt way that feels forced to me, and change their goals. Ultraviolet also had this problem, plus several others.

The bulk of the story takes place in a psychiatric hospital, as it begins after the main character, a teen girl named Allison, experiences a breakdown. As someone with zero experience either with serious mental illness or psychiatric care, i don't want to accuse the author of not having done her research or deliberately misrepresenting things. But the portrayals of the minor supporting characters were lacking to me, especially in a story that is focused on mentally ill people: they just seemed like ordinary teens with a few quirks. Allison is opposed to her psychiatrist from the beginning, without any support in the narrative outside of her believing he had other motives, to the point that even when he did stuff i didn't agree with i was inclined to side with him anyway just out of spite. The doctor who leads the group therapy sessions is the platitude-spouting unhelpful kind of psychiatrist. The single helpful adult, outside of a kind orderly who barely shows up, is Faraday, and as it turns out he's not actually with the hospital.

Speaking of Faraday, i am really not fond of romances that begin with the main character gushing over how attractive he is, or in this case, how beautiful his eyes are and how wonderful his voice is. I realize that for some teenagers, it's not an uncommon experience, and he does go on to have some nice qualities outside of being a pretty guy with a nice voice, but ... he's in his twenties, Allison is sixteen, and in some sense he is her doctor. That's not really a great foundation for romance, if you ask me.

Then there's the twist. I knew this was coming, because when i read the sample pages on amazon i accidentally read the last page (they really should do something about that, if you ask me), but there were hints of it from the start, as Allison believes she killed a classmate by disintegrating her. That, however, is the only real hint we get that this story takes place anywhere but the real world. Then in the last five chapters, aliens. Wormholes. Space stations. I'm not exactly sure how well it all fits together, since the majority of the explaining must have happened in the chapters i skipped, but i doubt it could have been explained well enough to make me any happier with how it was wedged in at the last second.

I could happily go on and list several of my other issues with this story, but this is already a long post and i kind of wanted to talk about Skyward. Not a lot -- for some reason i find it way easier to go on about books i hated than books i liked -- but Ultraviolet strengthened my first impression of it.

Skyward reminds me a lot of common YA dystopia books, but done in a way that i liked a lot better. There's a post-apocalyptic setting, kind of, but while the government is hardly a flawless one the main character is not set up to overthrow it. There's a romance building, but where in a different novel (*cough* like Ultraviolet *cough*) there would have already been several paragraphs of Spensa ogling him and describing his gorgeous looks and probably a kiss, there's been mostly just hints and maybe a hug. The main character has a unique talent that can change the course of events, but it's not this rarest-ever thing that no one has ever heard of before, other people are confirmed to have it too, it doesn't help her for most of the book, and it's an actual liability, not just something others perceive as dangerous because it threatens their plans. The short of it is, it's a Sanderson book, and i loved it. Raise your hand if you're surprised.

Oh, and i actually read a Christmas-related book last month: The Enchanted Sonata, by Heather Dixon Wallwork (Valia mentioned it on tumblr). It was a retelling of The Nutcracker with some elements of the Pied Piper worked in. It lands squarely in between Skyward and Ultraviolet: i enjoyed it, might even recommend it to someone looking for a fun little Christmas-themed read, but there wasn't much of substance to it. I found the villain way more irritating and much less sympathetic than i think was intended, and while it had some interesting concepts i don't think it did enough with them. Also i don't recommend writers criticize their heroines for dreaming up relationships with men they've never truly met if they go on to write them falling in love 'for real' with someone they get to know over what amounts to a week at most. But, as i said, i enjoyed it, and if you don't go in with too many expectations i think it's an acceptable book.

Wow. I think i'll have to go an extra four months between posts, after this mega one. See you in a year.
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby Col Klink » Dec 04, 2018 8:57 pm

- for some reason i find it way easier to go on about books i hated than books i liked


I think that's because you don't want the spoil something you think people should read but if it's bad, you kind of want to enjoy explaining exactly why.
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby daughter of the King » Dec 05, 2018 1:18 pm

I actually didn't like R.J. Anderson's fairy tale series at all. Knife was a good page turner, but the rest of the series was forgettable at best. Also, in her attempt to avoid the character in a wheelchair being a perfect angel like the Tiny Tim trope, she actually went all the way into the opposite direction and made him a really standard bitter crip trope. In trying to avoid a stereotype she actually wrote another stereotype. #-o :-q

I did however enjoy Ultraviolet. Other than the romance being creepy. As for the ending, If I remember right there is more lead up to it in the chapters you skipped. But I can see how it felt rushed. I knew it was sci-fi going in, so I was actually waiting for space stuff to show up for most of the book. That being said, the sequel Quicksilver is far superior and is probably the only really good thing R.J. Anderson has written. She has good ideas, but her relationships and pacing do need a lot of work.

Finished Wintersmith yesterday. Excellent Tiffany Aching book is excellent (no surprise there). I really love how Pratchett plays with fairy tale tropes and how the characters challenge expectations. Has the Wintersmith ever actually met a girl? =))

Probably reading Crooked Kingdom next.
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby fantasia_kitty » Dec 05, 2018 1:47 pm

I'm on a roll right at the end of the year this year. I read Howl's Moving Castle for the first time this week, and I LOVED it. It caught me off guard at first because it was so similar to the movie and I was like "but I thought this was very different from the movie..." And then no birds showed up and I was like, ok, it is actually different. ;))
The incidents with the green slime and Howl catching a cold had me almost in tears I was laughing so hard.
Two thumbs up, I'm going to have to get myself a copy. :)
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby ValiantArcher » Dec 09, 2018 6:51 pm

Dot, I understand easily distracted. ;))
It's good to hear you enjoyed Skyward and Wintersmith. I remember liking the latter, though I wasn't a huge fan of the last Tiffany Aching book for some reason.
I don't think I picked up on everything you mentioned with R. J. Anderson's fairy series, but Knife was the least hard to handle for me too. It's good to hear that Quicksilver is better than Ultraviolet, but I disliked Ultraviolet so much that I have no interest in reading Quicksilver. :P

Good to "see" you on the Books thread again, Arwenel! :D Also, based on my (vague) memories, I agree with your analysis of Ultraviolet. The romance especially rubbed me the wrong way and made me uncomfortable. Why do authors think that sort of situation is something to promote??? I also had no idea it was supposed to be sci-fi so the alien stuff pretty much came out of nowhere...
It's also good to hear your review of Skyward; I may have to see if I can scrounge a library copy to read on my time off over Christmas.
Thanks also for your review of The Enchanted Sonata! It sounds about how I was expecting; fun but not brilliant. I requested the library system buy a copy but they said it didn't exist :P so I haven't had a chance to read it. I'll keep an eye out for it, but won't make it a top priority.

Glad you liked HMC, fk! :D The scenes you mentioned are a lot of fun. ;))

So, a few books I've read since I last posted:
A Lady's Ranch Life in Montana by Isabel Randall. This was a published set of letters written in the late 1880s by an Englishwoman who set out to live on a Montana ranch with her new husband. It was an interesting enough read, but perhaps the most interesting (and saddest) detail was found in the editor's notes: Isabel Randall so angered her (American) neighbors by her derogatory comments and superior attitude that she was ostracized after publication. In her defense, she published on a trip back to England and likely didn't intend her neighbors to see it - but she does make very disparaging remarks and is rather ignorant of her own biases.
The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones. Has anyone else read this one? I wasn't impressed; the best aspects were Nick and Mini (and there wasn't enough of that) and then Roddy and Grundo, which was terribly undone at the end by the revelation of the spell :P and those weren't enough to save the book for me. Plus, Nick fixating on Roddy and the hints they'd end up together despite Roddy being very uncomfortable at the idea was unsettling.
A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella Bird. This is similar in concept to the first book on this list, but executed much differently. The author was an experienced traveler and writer with most of her observations on Americans coming across fairly positively and her own attitude much more tempered. The largest exception was a very negative portrayal of one family in Colorado - made even harder to read by the fact they were specifically identified by religious beliefs that put them in my spiritual heritage, for lack of a better term. :| The rest of the book was fairly interesting, though.

I am currently reading Out Here at the Front, a collection of WWI letters written by Nora Saltonstall. Saltonstall was a Boston socialite who traveled to France in October 1917 (staying to 1919) to help with the war effort there. It's been informative, but I'm having trouble sympathizing with the authoress at some times - she came across to assist refugees under the auspices of the American Red Cross, decided she didn't like that work, transferred to a dispensary, didn't like that work either, and moved to management/quartermaster work with a mobile surgical hospital near the front. XD I'm only through February 1918, so while I think she sticks it out a while in the hospital, but I'm not sure. :P
In considering it, I think it also doesn't help that I've recently been reflecting on the work of US Army and Navy Nurses in WWII and the Korean War and, bearing in mind that WWI was a different ballgame, the work of a member of the "Heiress Corps" pales a bit in comparison. I may have to read more WWI accounts to put a better perspective on Saltonstall's experience. One thing that does seem to remain the same between WWI and WWII is the constant request for items to be sent by family members and friends back home. ;))
So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory."
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