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Lobby 2. Welcome The Reading Room Reading Challenges, 2010 topic #469
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Mesg #469 "Tianne's Reads"
Author tianne     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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Date Fri Mar-12-10 12:53 PM
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Tue Dec-28-10 09:05 AMby tianne

getting a late start on this.

Reflections on my reading list this year:
-I didn't get into this with a specific goal in mind, just an idea of tracking much I read in general, and what.
-I apparently read 38 books in something like 43 weeks, for an average of 88% of a book in a week.
-There was a lot of comfort-reading: authors that I generally like, series that I was following. Major releases by authors I seriously respect, like Butcher and Bujold and Willis.
-I exhausted my patience for "outside the box" reading early on, with "A Suitable Boy."
-It only just occurred to me that between Audie Murphy and Connie Willis, I've read comparatively a lot about WWII lately.

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Mesg #470 "An Evil Guest, by Gene Wolfe (spoilers)"
Author tianne     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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Date Fri Mar-12-10 01:30 PM
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Mon Jun-28-10 03:02 PMby tianne

A reread, my first complete runthrough after
a). reading the vaguely related story "The Tree is My Hat"
b). reading a convention report where the perennially cagey Gene Wolfe made certain admissions about who he considered AEG's villain to be, and what the heroine was trying to accomplish at the end: http://lists.urth.net/pipermail/urth-urth.net/2009-September/013774.html

I somehow overlooked the racial stereotyping the first time around, but noticed it this time and got the impression that it seemed to be limited to Cassie's pov and therefore reflective of her own ideas and prejudices. Cassie strikes me as Wolfe's attempt to get into the head of someone like Marilyn Monroe/Norma Jean Baker, maybe w/ elements of Judy Garland: she's an emotionally damaged, insecure woman, with a hazy grip on reality and a potentially powerful effect on the male of the species. From that POV, I think he succeeded, at least moreso than he usually does w/ female characters.

In the crackpot theory department (since you're not supposed to walk away from a Gene Wolfe reading w/o a crackpot theory)...

-The injured son of the narrator from "The Tree is My Hat" survived (possibly due to some self-sacrificing gesture on the father's part) and had descendents, including a woman with first-name Martha, Cassie's mother. This explains Hanga palling around with her (he swore some kind of blood-brothership with the Tree narrator), and offers a political angle on Bill Reis's and eventually King Kanoa's interest in marrying Cassie; Hanga is a potentially valuable ally against the Storm King.

-Madame Pavlatos is either the still-undead Pat Gomez or a relative of hers.

-The variant Bill Reis identity/personality known as "Wally Rosenquist" is in fact a clone (there are anticloning laws in this universe), and is the one in love with Cassie. Wade Rusterman is either another clone or a false identity for Bill Reis. The deal Gideon was negotiating between Reis and the FBI involved flushing out their real mutal enemy the Storm King, and the staged death of at least one version of Reis (to get the US President off his case), with Gid smuggling the surviving Reis off-planet to Woldercan when he (Gid) took up the ambassadorship. In going to Woldercan, Cassie knows that Wally, the version in love with her, is dead, but is gambling that Gid can unlock her glamour potential again and that she can then win surviving-Bill over.

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Mesg #488 "Origin in Death, by JD Robb"
Author tianne     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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Date Tue Mar-16-10 05:56 PM
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I picked this one off a library shelf at random-I've read others in the same series but it had been a while.

I was impressed by alot of the tech details-not so much in terms of scientific plausibility but in terms of, "yes that's what people would use that for if they had it." The faux tough talk among the characters was as tiresome as I remembered, but the "mushy stuff" was pretty well-done.

Found the mystery angle weak-I don't recall Robb/Roberts tipping her hand this badly in the other ones I'd read.

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Mesg #497 "Gate of Ivrel by C. J. Cherryh"
Author tianne     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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Date Fri Mar-19-10 12:35 PM
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I thought I'd already read one of the books in this cycle and not cared for it (maybe gotten it confused with the Fortress cycle?), but this wasn't familiar to me at all, and I quite liked it. The heroine is cool (sort of a Belle Dame Sans Merci crossed with the male Lone Warrior archetype), the main POV character is a wet noodle by the standards of his macho barbaric culture, but he still has alot more spine than the average human male Cherryh character. The setting is also interesting: sword and sorcery but with some SF underpinnings.

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Mesg #509 "Pirate Sun by Karl Schroeder"
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Date Tue Mar-23-10 02:26 PM
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I think this was the weakest of the books in the Virgo cycle so far. Yes, Schroeder has a lot of fun w/ zero/low-g water physics. Yes, it's amusing that Chaison's doing the Dejah Thoris thing of being constantly captured and rescued by all and sundry, just as it was amusing that his wife Venera spent the previous book doing the John Carter thing of going from kingdom to kingdom stirring up trouble in her quest to either find her husband or avenge his death. But I just didn't care that much about any of it.

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Mesg #510 "Ninth Daughter by Barbara Hambly"
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Date Tue Mar-23-10 02:37 PM
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Man, I am definitely losing my touch when it comes to mysteries. I didn't see "whodunnit" coming despite a couple of things that should've tipped me off. Abigail Adams was pleasant, but except for the cultural trappings pretty much indistinguishable from any other Hambly heroine in a less than modern setting, John Adams was a barely noticeable bit player compared to his more volatile brother Sam and the jovial Paul Revere. Hambly's rendering of the complicated political setting was cool though.

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Mesg #536 "Pawn of Prophecy, by David Eddings"
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Date Sun Mar-28-10 07:23 PM
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I'd heard fairly negative things about the Belgariad from people I trusted, so I didn't get around to reading it when it was new(ish) but reading some of the reminisces about the author after his death made him sound like a fun kinda guy so I checked out the five-books-two-volumes release of the Belgariad and started reading.

The first one was very slooooow to get off the ground. It did some interesting tweaking of conventions, and I liked its take on the Boy of Destiny's POV on these events-what it would be like to be the youthful and blissfully ignorant human maguffin surrounded by ancient and/or powerful people. There were some good zingers but not enough to justify Eddings's reputation as a writer of witty dialogue.

Plodding through Queen of Sorcery right now. Not sure whether I'll continue or not.

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Mesg #626 "Blackout by Connie Willis"
Author tianne     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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Date Tue Apr-13-10 02:53 PM
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I found this one...curiously distressing, even though I went into it knowing it would end on a cliffhanger. The family members who'd only read To Say Nothing of the Dog were particularly puzzled by me being upset and kind of depressed by the book; but then again, I've read The Domesday Book and they haven't. It's well written and fairly engaging even when it doesn't look like it's going anywhere particular-I read it pretty much straight through in a couple of days.

My own hunch is that things will end comparatively well, plotwise, in part 2, but I still found it kind of an emotional rollercoaster.

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Mesg #636 "First Lord's Fury, by Jim Butcher"
Author tianne     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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Date Fri Apr-16-10 11:04 AM
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I think I sped-read through 2/3rds the previous book, Princeps' Fury, in a bookstore, because although I remembered the broad situation everyone's in, some details that would have popped up towards the end of Princeps (like the ice ships and the hero's grandfather once again having Fun Wi' Volcanoes before he dies) didn't seemed to register when they were mentioned here. On the whole, it's a good book, although it kind of felt like everyone but the head villainess stopped evolving as characters about two books back. Lots of slambangpow and excitement, lots of good times with interesting people. The details of the worldbuilding never cease to amaze me, from the hero's revival of lost ancient "tech" to supplement the elemental magic his people uses, to the "sand tables" that earthworkers can use to plot combat strategies.

It was also interesting to meet the old school Canim ritualists, who are classier and more cooperative in some respects than the ritualists the hero's been dealing w/ up to this point, but also ALOT scarier.

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Mesg #658 "A Play of Treachery by Margaret Fraser"
Author tianne     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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Date Thu Apr-22-10 09:34 AM
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Well, the period details were interesting, especially since it takes place in Rouen in the late-ish stages of the Hundred Years' War, but the English characters all beating their chests about how much nicer they were to the peasants than those awful French nobles got tiresome, and there's a massive plot/motivation hole relating to the mystery.

Essentially, there's a character who knows whodunnit but conceals the fact because it will draw unwanted attention to another character's secret. Never mind the fact that the investigator's boss is on the Big Secret and has as much reason to conceal it as s/he who knows whodunnit does. Never mind the fact that the investigator's boss is *fabulously* well positioned to suppress the question of whodunnit and its implications for the Big Secret. S/he STILL doesn't tell him, and in the process makes all sorts of trouble for the protagonist, the boss, himself/herself and the character s/he's trying to protect. And s/he isn't stupid either, or not meant to be taken as such. Gaaah.

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Mesg #729 "A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth"
Author tianne     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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Date Thu May-20-10 11:39 AM
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Fri Jul-30-10 10:58 AMby tianne

What's it about? India in the 1950s. Religion, politics, marriage. Family. Society. Music, "pop" and "classical", within Indian culture. Passing references to Jane Austen's Emma, the collected works of Thomas Hardy, Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, and the ancient Bollywood film Deedar. It's also about 1474 pages long, so I think I have a legitimate excuse for taking this long to finish it

I've been mildly interested in Indian culture for some time, and I found this illuminating to a point but not nearly as radically exotic as some western reviewers seem to. Found the characters interesting without getting genuinely invested in them, my best memories of it are all linguistic/cultural discoveries.

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Mesg #749 "Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews"
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Date Mon May-31-10 03:31 PM
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Tue Jun-01-10 11:44 AMby tianne

There were things I really liked about it-the attack poodle, the mystery surrounding the new baddie and how it plays out, the Pack politics, Saiman being back to his old self after the events of Magic Bleeds where he seemed a little out of character.

I didn't care for the handling of the Jewish mysticism angle, or the lover's spat between Curran and Kate taking up half the book, and I didn't care for the "evol white guyz being all racist against shapeshifters" subplot-it's not inconsistent with the setting, but it felt like it just got trotted out as an excuse for moral posturing.

Aaand, the excerpt from the new Edge book, featured at the end of Magic Bleeds, sets up the Weird's Louisianans as borderline Nazi analogues. Marvellous. I may have to drop this author.

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Mesg #773 "Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks"
Author tianne     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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Date Tue Jun-08-10 02:43 PM
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Tue Jun-08-10 02:45 PMby tianne

This is kind of an interesting glimpse into the great mystery writer's brainstorming process, but it can be kind of dry, and the editor/commentator really assumes that you have all her books memorized, which I don't (he also assumes you care about the hangups he has with some of Christie's plot holes. I don't). And there just isn't that much documentation for some of the most famous ones.

Still, there's nothing more reassuring to an aspiring writer than seeing how messy the creative process can be, even for people who know what they're doing and whose work has stood the test of time.

  

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Mesg #774 "Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs"
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Date Tue Jun-08-10 02:44 PM
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I stopped caring about this character a couple of books back, but I was short on things to read. lots of interesting vampire politics in this one.

  

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Mesg #778 "Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs"
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Date Fri Jun-11-10 05:38 PM
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Fri Jun-11-10 05:39 PMby tianne

I don't believe I've read the prequel novella that leads into this series about Charles, but I followed the goings-on ok anyway. In another time, the novella would've been published in a magazine, not an anthology, and the author likely wouldn't have had any qualms about expanding the novella into a book of its own.

Anyway, found the book fairly interesting. Even w/ the third person POV and Anna's radically different backstory and confidence levels compared to Mercy, it's fairly clear that Briggs only knows how to write one "female voice." Also a bit lacking in narrative drive compared to the Mercy books-it feels too much like "random stuff about the werewolves that Briggs always wanted to tell the readers but Mercy wasn't interested in passing along."

But hey, I've read worse.

  

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Mesg #811 "Hunting Grounds by Patricia C. Briggs"
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Date Tue Jun-15-10 12:36 PM
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Better than the previous Alpha and Omega book, but still kind of glib and unfocused.

  

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Mesg #835 "Changes, by Jim Butcher"
Author tianne     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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Date Fri Jun-25-10 01:05 PM
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Well, it kept me turning the pages, and in some ways I found it more satisfying than the last two, but...eh.

not one but two duel type scenarios against Red Court vampires. Endless trudging from point a to b to call in favors and call up old contacts. It just felt like there was alot of wheelspinning going on.

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Mesg #894 "Obsidian Prey, by Jayne Castle"
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Date Sat Jul-24-10 05:47 PM
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The romance is your standard alpha male/feisty chick thing this author does no matter what pseudonym she writes under, but I found it reassuring in the particular mood where I read this one. Also the world-building seemed much better thought out that I remember this particular series being, and the dust-bunnies were adorable: not just space-dogs or space-cats, but things that really felt like a new and different species that humans *would* keep as pets.

  

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Mesg #895 "Talyn by Holly Lisle"
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Date Sat Jul-24-10 05:49 PM
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It was an interesting read with likable heroes, and I feel like it taught me some new things about the writing craft. But dear heavens, it came off as so pretentious in places and so in love with its own grittiness and cleverness. Definitely not bothering with the rest of the books in this series.

  

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Mesg #922 "Dawn Star by Catherine Asaro"
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Date Tue Aug-03-10 12:57 PM
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Ah the joys of Catherine Asaro. No matter where you start in one of her series, you're equally lost

This was interesting-I particularly enjoyed the political maneuverings-but the transplanting of her usual schtick from space opera to faux-medieval fantasy only makes her stuff feel less exotic and more generic.

  

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Mesg #928 "In The Forests of Sere by Patricia McKillip"
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Date Thu Aug-05-10 01:26 PM
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Liked it pretty well. It had been a long time since I read anything by this author.

  

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