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message 1: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 48 comments Mod
Thought I would start this thread to keep the ball rolling as we try and pin down the ever elusive book to discuss ...

I just finished Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, and loved it. It was sort of a forgone conclusion that I would (old timey language, magic, humor etc) but I was really surprised that the story never completely went in the direction I expected. It all wrapped up in a far more ambiguous (yet satisfying) way than I would have done it, for which I'm very glad. Anyhow, it was a wonderful read.

I'm reading Consider Phlebas right now and I have some conflicting thoughts. As a standalone, I would not like it, however, knowing that it is only the first book in a much larger story gives me the impression that all the side-routes and detours that have kept the character from his "goal" up until know have been a nice way of introducing me to all of the various and sundry elements that will come into play in the next books.

I hope. If it turns out that the next book(s)take place a hojillion years in the future and things are totally different, then ... I may not be as a forgiving.

But, still ... it's an intriguing look into the future.

Any thoughts on either of these, or (better yet!) your thoughts on what you've been reading lately?


message 2: by ace (new)

ace (mortuaryreport) | 13 comments i've got Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell on my nightstand right now, can't wait to hop into it. i have yet to hear a negative review! the size is a little daunting, though.

interesting outlook on Consider Phlebas. i have a tendency to be less likely to pick up a book knowing it's part of a series, especially one that doesn't have a definite ending. is it very ender-y? sounds like it could be.

like i said in the other thread, working my way through The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America. larson's writing style is a perfect mixture verbose and concise, and he manages to make the subject of the world fair - not one i would usually find intriguing - very interesting. about halfway done.

i'm also working my way through Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives. it's about the men who notify soldiers' families of their deaths. as both a military wife and a student studying funeral services, it's an extremely interesting read. i think it would move anybody who picked it up, though.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Currently reading The Lions of al-Rassan. Just barely started it, but so far so good.

Have a couple in the queue once I'm done with lions: Air: Or, Have Not Have, Night Watch and Pirate Latitudes for fun.

Recently finished Doctor Who: Coming of the Terraphiles(ugh), Not Less Than Gods(decent-good).


message 4: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 48 comments Mod
@Heather - I'm excited for you to start Jonathan Strange. It's a slow burn to start, but once things get going ...

As far as Consider Phlebas goes: let's just say that if I'm to have an author "show" me his world, I prefer it to be done on a mad-cap adventure rather than boring dialogue-y exposition. Also, I think (HOPE!) the Culture series has an ending. And no, it's not very Enderish (at least, not as much as the first two in the series I have read) as Scott Card tends to be more sparse about who inhabits his universe whereas Banks is more of an anything-goes (in a good way).

@Ala - The Lions of al-Rassan sounds awesome. I'm definitely adding that to my to-read list; I don't want that to drop off my radar.

Also; I LOVE Dr Who and have often wondered if the novels are any good. Do you have any you'd recommend?


message 5: by ace (new)

ace (mortuaryreport) | 13 comments ala, we all know you can't go wrong with a little bit of Michael Crichton! let me know how that one is - i actually haven't read it. was so sad when he passed away... :( this website is a great way to keep track of all the books i want to read; i feel like that list is a monster growing wildly out of control!

ryan, i'm in complete agreement about the introduction to the "world." it's a lot easier to suspend my disbelief if we go right into the action. i'm usually bored senseless by the explanation. seems like card has a very strong social agenda he's pushing in his universe, and that's easier to construct using a limited number of species. let me know how the rest of the book goes - part of what i liked about the ender series was that i could put down the books and not feel like i was missing an ending. they stood alone as well as they went together, yanno?


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

My TBR list seems to grow exponentially at times. It's almost scary :P

I'll be sure to write a review of Pirate Latitudes once I'm done :)

Ryan: That was the first and only Dr Who novel I've ever read. I hear that some of the older ones are great, but I have no personal experience with them. To be honest, I was so disillusioned by this one that I'm hesitant to even make an attempt at any others, and I loved Dr Who since the restart.


message 7: by Sara (new)

Sara (inkandpavement) | 19 comments I just bought the Coming of the Terraphiles. Yikes. I liked the older ones. I tried to get one from each of the new Doctors just to build a tiny collection. I enjoyed each of them, but was wary of this new one. I think it's because I was wary of this new Doctor anyway.
I'm thinking about starting to read The Science of Doctor Who. It sounds like it could be fun.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Apparently, if you're a fan of Moorcock, you may actually enjoy the Terraphiles book. I'd never read any of his previous stuff, so I came to it with no expectations other than the hope of a Doctor Who story.

I was sadly disappointed. Here is my review of it, if you're interested.


message 9: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (alanthiana) @Ryan - I've never read Lions, but I'm in the middle of the second book of the Fionavar Tapestry, The Wandering Fire, and loving the series. I started on Kay with Tigana, which was also very enjoyable.

In addition, I'm (re)reading A Clash of Kings, so I can read the 4th one.


message 10: by Jim (new)

Jim (foptimusprime) | 5 comments I'm currently reading At the Mountains of Madness and Other Tales of Terror and The Difference Engine. Both are re-reads for me, but well worth a second view. :)


message 11: by Katie (new)

Katie Rodante (katierodante) I'm reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I have read about half of The Absolute Sandman (waiting for the library to acquire volume 3) and needed a Gaiman fix.


message 12: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 48 comments Mod
Kate wrote: "I'm reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I have read about half of The Absolute Sandman (waiting for the library to acquire volume 3) and needed a Gaiman fix."

I LOVED American Gods.

I liked it when I was reading it; the more I think about and reflect on it, the more I like it.

Sandman is pretty great too, but trying to read from the Absolute volumes is a pain. They're so frigging huge. I finished Vol 1 this summer; I'm not sure why I haven't ordered 2 from the library yet ...


message 13: by Sara (new)

Sara (inkandpavement) | 19 comments Speaking of American Gods, has anyone ever figured out who the man that everyone forgets is? That has driven me crazy for years. I don't think I've done so much research for a fiction book.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

I don't think it's ever been said


message 15: by beep (last edited Jan 13, 2011 05:06PM) (new)

beep boop (beeeeeeeeeeep) @Sara... I'm interested in The Science of Doctor Who. Like Ala, I have been a huge fan since the start up but am weary of this new doctor. After reading the first 50 pages of Doctor Who: Coming of the Terraphiles I felt my passion for the world of The Doctor would not be able to survive the switchover into literature. But I'll be keeping my eye out for the book you mentioned for sure!

@everyone who is talking about American Gods: I'm almost done with it!!! EEEEEeeeee! I love it so far and can't believe I haven't read it yet (Gaiman addict here). Thankfully another Goodreads user loaned me his copy and insisted I read it. =D

As mentioned above I have about 100 pages left in American Gods and I've been wanting to read Utopia for some time but am willing to put that off in favor of a collective book reading experience.


message 16: by Micah (new)

Micah (gentlemanbeggar) | 2 comments I recently finished Pictures at 11, found it to be a pretty fun read after the first 40 or so pages. It reminded me a lot of the movie Network. It's one of those books that you see really quickly how it's going to end, but you still enjoy the ride.

I'm also nearly finished with Caravan to Xanadu. It's a novelization of the early years of Marco Polo's career, following him on his journey to see Kublai Kahn. It's fascinating to think it might even be a little bit true.

I'm also slowly working my way through The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood; It's repetitive, but amusing.


message 17: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (dresswaltz) | 4 comments @Kate, Ryan

Love Neil Gaiman! I ordered in all four ultimate Sandman tomes from the library a couple years ago (even if your local library doesn't have them right now, they likely participate in an inter-library loan program and can have them sent in).

As it stands, Anansi Boys is waiting patiently on my to-read shelf. I should really get on that...


message 18: by Katie (new)

Katie Rodante (katierodante) Ryan wrote: "Sandman is pretty great too, but trying to read from the Absolute volumes is a pain. They're so frigging huge. I finished Vol 1 this summer; I'm not sure why I haven't ordered 2 from the library yet ... "

I actually love the Absolute versions. I've seen the comics otherwise, and I appreciate the recoloring plus the size of the pages in these. Yes, they're heavy! That's only a pain because I can't take them anywhere with me like other comics, but

I like seeing all of this praise for American Gods! I've heard great things about it. I'm not too far into the book right now, but that should change by tonight.


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Finished The Lions of al-Rassan and loved it. Starting on Air and Night Watch


message 20: by Tim (new)

Tim | 1 comments I'm currently reading The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory. It's pretty dense so it'll probably take me a while. As a physics major, though the material is extremely interesting. When I get back to school I'm going to start on The Alchemist since I bought it a while ago and I didn't start reading it yet, and I thought it was time.


message 21: by Vlad (new)

Vlad | 43 comments I'm in the middle of my second failed attempt to get into Gene Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun". I like the world and the setup well enough, but about a 100 pages in plot starts branching madly, new characters show up, disappear only to be replaced by even newer characters and I lose interest. Anyone read it? Worth pushing through?

As a nice and unexpected side effect it put me on a Coupland/Palahniuk kick, both of whom I was mostly ignoring until now. I'm enjoying it so far.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

I went through the entirety of the Book of the New Sun and I didn't care much for it.

It's writing for writings sake, it seems. Which can be a good thing, if you're in the right headspace for that type of book.


message 23: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 48 comments Mod
@ala and vlad

Since trawling internet message boards for "good sci-fi" last year I've seen Book of the New Sun come up again and again.

Everyone talks about the series with such breathless praise I was starting to think that they were perfect in every way.

Which is to say: I'm glad you've started/have read them already so I didn't go in with crazy expectations of limitless awesomeness.

Vlad, keep us posted on how the progress goes if you decide to continue.

In other news, I finished Consider Phlebas.

I'm ... not sure how to think about it. I wrote a pretty weaksauce review to try and put my thoughts together but that didn't go very well. Anyone else read it?


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

Haven't read it yet, though I've been thinking of throwing it on the old TBR list and getting to it someday.


message 25: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 48 comments Mod
I'm almost done with This Immortal on audio book. It's fantastic.

Maybe my favorite I've read since Watership Down last year. I can't wait to read more Zelazny.

I ditched The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America for now, I just couldn't get into it.

So I started Oryx and Crake for which I'm very glad. Though, I didn't know that it was the first part of a yet-to-be finished trilogy, which is sort of bothersome. Any thoughts on the second book?

Anyhow, this is my first Atwood book as well. I think she reminds me of a cross between Kurt Vonnegut and Thomas Pynchon, with a twist of something a bit more misanthropic thrown in for good measure. I'm excited to read something else by her, but I'm torn between The Handmaid's Tale and The Blind Assassin.

Any thoughts on which is better?

After This Immortal on audio I'll move on to Jack Vance and The Dying Earth


message 26: by Heather (new)

Heather (penguininspace) | 1 comments I just finished Elantris, and although I really enjoyed it overall, I thought some parts were slow and I lost interest for a bit in the beginning. Despite that, I'm glad I picked it up at the library because it's definitely one of the better fantasy novels I've read lately. It's also one of the only stand alone novels, too, which I was grateful for.

Now I'm on The Name of the Wind and I think I might be lost to the world for a few days... It's sucking me in. I saw it recommended on Reddit; I'm really glad I picked it up.


message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

@Ryan: I haven't started Oryx and Crake yet for that very reason. I hate going into a series that isn't completed yet. I've got enough of those already.

As to her other works, I've never read them I don't think. So can't help, sorry.

@SpacePenguin: It's a really great read. One of the few I've actually rated at 5 stars. Can't wait for the next one to come out in March :)


message 28: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 48 comments Mod
Now I'm on The Name of the Wind and I think I might be lost to the world for a few days... It's sucking me in. I saw it recommended on Reddit; I'm really glad I picked it up.


It's pretty good. I'm actually really curious to see where this series goes because I have a suspicion that one of the major criticisms that people have for the book (view spoiler) will be turned on its head later.

Just a guess.

@Ala I totally understand not wanting to dig into uncompleted series.

It's why I decided against finishing up A Game of Thrones, even though I was five discs into the first book and somewhat enjoying it.


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

I was an idiot. I started Game of Thrones not knowing it wasn't completed. I devoured all 4 books and then got really, really pissed when I learned there was no #5 yet.

Also, I finished reading Air. It's...just... don't read it. It's not worth it.

Started in on Night Watch. Urban Fantasy set in Moscow. So far so good.


message 30: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 48 comments Mod
You know, not only that book five isn't done: it's not even close to being done so far as I can tell.

It seems as if Martin's written himself into such a nasty corner ... it sort of bothers me on a conceptual level.

That's why I never (and still won't, because it's just too long) picked up the Wheel of Time stuff. I think there's a fundamental problem if you can't wrap up your series in a timely manner.

(says the guy who's never finished writing a book and is really good at sniping at things he's never read)


message 31: by John (new)

John Beachem | 16 comments Currently finishing up Larry Correia's [Book: Monster Hunter International]. Couldn't begin to explain why I enjoy that man's books. Then I'm starting Suzanne Collins' [Book: The Hunter Games].


message 32: by Nimit (new)

Nimit (nimesis) @Ryan: I read The Year of the Flood when it first came out. Its interesting because its set in the same universe as Oryx and Crake, but I really don't think its as good as the first book. The characters aren't as memorable and the overall storyline fell flat when compared to the first book IMO.


message 33: by Vlad (new)

Vlad | 43 comments @Ryan: got a bit further into the Shadow & Claw. I guess it got a little better, secondary characters got roles to play, random events got tied to the main plot, etc.
Still, very much skippable, imo.


message 34: by Morten (new)

Morten Nygaard Åsnes (mortenaa) | 3 comments I just finished reading Anathem and Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. I really loved both of them, but they where a little hard going a few places. Now I've opted for something completely different, Moab is my Washpot, the first autobiography by Stephen Fry.


message 35: by ace (last edited Feb 09, 2011 01:06AM) (new)

ace (mortuaryreport) | 13 comments @ryan, very belatedly - the second book in the oryx and crake series is better than the first, which is saying a lot because the first is great. blind assassin is an amazing piece of storytelling. haven't done handmaiden's tale yet, but it's on my list for this year.


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

Finished Hyperion last night. Liked it.

Not sure what to go to next, though.


message 37: by Santoso (new)

Santoso (santa4nt) Finished the first and second books of His Dark Materials trilogy. Amazing worlds. Eating up the final one right now...


message 38: by Denae (new)

Denae (whimsicalmeerkat) I'm currently working my way through The Brothers Karamazov and Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson. I am about to abandon The Calculus Diaries for now, because I am realizing that my grasp of basic algebra, let alone calculus, is much weaker than realized and I need to do something about that before going back to this. I also just finished and was moved by Winesburg, Ohio.


message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

Huh, Winesburg looks really interesting. Especially since it's not something I'd normally read.

Care to give a review on it, Denae?


message 40: by Denae (new)

Denae (whimsicalmeerkat) I don't have a lot of time right now, so I'll just paste my previous review. I probably would not have known about or read it if a friend had not recommended it. Anyway, below are my thoughts immediately after finishing it:

"It's hard to describe this book, but it left me close to tears, not of sadness, more from a sort of fullness and wonder at life. In some ways a "coming of age" story, it manages to be so much more, largely because the focus on the main character is so loose. The depictions of dozens of people, the way the struggles they have in common yet hide away in the privacy of their rooms or thoughts, do not in any way feel disorganized. The book at once meanders and builds steadily to the end. The phrase "the sadness of sophistication" particularly struck me as beautiful. I have not read anything so moving in a long time"


message 41: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks :)

Added to my TBR, hopefully I'll get to it before the end of the year


message 42: by Denae (new)

Denae (whimsicalmeerkat) I chose it partly because of the length; the other two are in the 750-1250 page range, so something I could finish was appealing.


message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

Shogun is wonderful. Tai Pan is good too.


message 44: by Aleksandar (last edited Feb 14, 2011 06:46AM) (new)

Aleksandar (aleksandarmicovic) Just finished reading Winter Heart from the Wheel of Time series. I'm absolutely dreading the final book coming out later this year. But you know what they say: All good things must come to an end... unfortunately.

I'll be reading this month's book next, The Sirens of Titan, over the next day or two, before diving back into Wheel of Time goodness.


message 45: by Maggie (new)

Maggie M (bockety) | 2 comments Ryan wrote: "I just finished Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, and loved i..."

You might like Johannes Cabal the Necromancer.

I just started reading Dance Dance Dance, and when I added to my GR I saw it was part of a series. Does anyone know if I should read the first three before continuing on this one?


message 46: by [deleted user] (new)

I finished up The Heroes over the weekend. Great addition to the First Law world.


message 47: by Vlad (new)

Vlad | 43 comments @Megret: Probably doesn't matter much. The series is tied together by the main character, not the storyline.
Also depends on how well you like Murakami's brand of mysticism. If you don't much care for it, reading in order makes the series more enjoyable because (view spoiler)


message 48: by Maggie (new)

Maggie M (bockety) | 2 comments @Vlad So far I like it. It's been the best book I've read in a couple of months, anyway. I didn't click your spoiler but I think when I'm done with this one I'll go back and read the first three.


message 49: by Vlad (new)

Vlad | 43 comments @Megret: glad you like it. I did the same: started with A Wild Sheep Chase then went back and read from the beginning.


message 50: by Denae (new)

Denae (whimsicalmeerkat) @Aleksandar What did you think of Winter's Heart? For me, its the weakest one to that point so I am curious to hear what you think since you're still enthusiastic.


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