What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

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azurekep
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by azurekep » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:27 pm

jginseattle wrote:
jebmke wrote:
jginseattle wrote:I'm about 1/4 the way through Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane. So far, so good.
didn't realize he had a new one out. Be interested in your reaction after finishing. I like Lehane - his early books are basically "airplane" books but he really refined his skills along the way.
This started off well enough but it devolves into a mediocre movie plot. I have only liked one of the four Lehane novels I've read. As talented as he is, it seems that he's dumbing things down for his readers.
I liked Prayers for Rain, the only Lehane book I've read. I'll be reading another of his airplane books before moving on to The Given Day per jebmke's recommendation. The latter is historical, which isn't always my first choice, but I'm curious to see Lehane's evolution as a writer.

Speaking of historical, I'm almost done with Frederick Forsyth's The Day of the Jackal. A classic thriller about an assassin hired to take out French President Charles DeGaulle. The plot is linear and logical, none of the jumping around you see in modern international thrillers.

First we see The Jackal meticulously planning the event. Then we see a chess game between him and his pursuers. The Jackal is even-tempered and deals with any setback with equanimity. He's able to think up creative solutions on the spot.

It's still unclear how the story is going to end. The Jackal is smart, competent and resourceful even though he is "the bad guy". So part of me will hate seeing him taken down, if that's what happens.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by gkaplan » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:31 pm

jginseattle wrote:The Late Shift, by Michael Connelly. Recommended.
Last Shift is on my "Books to Read" list. I've read all the Michael Connelly books, both the Harry Bosch series and the Lincoln Lawyer series. Last Shift is a stand-alone novel that, without having read it, I hope leads to a new series.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by chknlips » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:13 pm

"KLARA"

Written by a neighbor still living. She recalls in the book her experiences growing up in Germany before and during WW2. Amazing work for a 98 year old first time author.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Fallible » Wed Jul 19, 2017 1:30 pm

bertilak wrote:
Fallible wrote:
bertilak wrote:Don Quixote has been discussed above. I want to report that I just finished it today. This was the Grossman translation. I can recommend it.

The ending was quite touching.
Thanks for the update. Having been in the "discussed above" group, I'm sad to say I'm still into the second part, or more like into and out of it. For some reason I don't stay for long with this great novel as I do most books, yet am engrossed in it each time I resume reading. It's somehow a different reading experience, at least for me.
What slowed me down was the episodic nature of the book. It is made up of a string of little stories, each taking a few short chapters. Every time I got to the end of a story I was hesitant to "start all over" with the next one. That's over-stated -- the stories do tie together but still, the steam gets let out fairly often. I do think the pace picks up a bit in the second part.

Perhaps the book needs to be savored in moderate portions. I feel like Sancho could provide a half-appropriate proverb (or two or three) right here! I like what Don Quixote said to Sancho about proverbs:
  • “Although proverbs distill the wisdom of the ages, you often drag them in by their hair and they seem more like foolishness than maxims.”
Yes, I have also had that "start all over" feeling. There's also tremendous energy in his writing, sentences that read easily but can run up to 100 words, and points and descriptions made in many different ways. It's beautiful writing, oof course, but sometimes mentally exhausting. And so I take a break.

Love the proverb quote.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Mrs.Feeley » Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:18 pm

Don Quixote. :D I enjoyed the Grossman translation, but I also enjoyed the older T.M. Cohen one which seemed to capture so well the breathless playfulness of Cervantes' storytelling--with all the long, winding sentences.

I've been intending to read the translation of the British satirist Tobias Smollett. A copy is waiting on my shelf. But like Fallible notes the book is best in small gulps.

Currently reading Thomas Mann's "Buddenbrooks."

Just finished the first in Elena Ferrante's Neopolitan series "My Brilliant Friend." Think I'm going to take a breather before reading the second.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by jginseattle » Thu Jul 20, 2017 6:49 pm

gkaplan wrote:
jginseattle wrote:The Late Shift, by Michael Connelly. Recommended.
Last Shift is on my "Books to Read" list. I've read all the Michael Connelly books, both the Harry Bosch series and the Lincoln Lawyer series. Last Shift is a stand-alone novel that, without having read it, I hope leads to a new series.
The book introduces Detective Renée Ballard who works the night shift in Hollywood. It's a sensational debut.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Fallible » Thu Jul 20, 2017 8:21 pm

Mrs.Feeley wrote:Don Quixote. :D I enjoyed the Grossman translation, but I also enjoyed the older T.M. Cohen one which seemed to capture so well the breathless playfulness of Cervantes' storytelling--with all the long, winding sentences.

I've been intending to read the translation of the British satirist Tobias Smollett. A copy is waiting on my shelf. But like Fallible notes the book is best in small gulps.
...
Actually, credit for prescribing "Quixote" in "small gulps" goes to the poster bertilak; I just agreed with him because of my reading experience, which apparently is common. Here's the author and great critic Harold Bloom on that experience:

"Don Quixote may not be scripture, but it so contains us that, as with Shakespeare, we cannot get out of it to achieve perspectivism. We are inside the vast book, privileged to hear the superb conversations between the knight and his squire, Sancho Panza. Sometimes we are fused with Cervantes, but more often we are invisible wanderers who accompany the sublime pair in their adventures and debacles."
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by LadyGeek » Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:29 pm

I just started Volume II of Don Quixote - the free version, translated by John Ormsby.

I'm used to reading sci-fi series containing 10+ books, so a single book containing 400 pages doesn't seem all that long to me.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by rakornacki1 » Fri Jul 21, 2017 6:11 am

The Whistler by John Grisham
I consider this one of his bests, a great story that keeps your attention throughout.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by azurekep » Sat Jul 22, 2017 12:09 pm

rakornacki1 wrote:The Whistler by John Grisham
I consider this one of his bests, a great story that keeps your attention throughout.
I enjoyed The Whistler and the look inside Indian casino gamling in Florida. My contemporaneous notes say "Was mildly interesting at first, then got very absorbing with all the complicated details."

Camino Island on the other hand is proving the negative reviews correct. I'm halfway through and it doesn't even read like a Grisham novel. It's unremarkable -- no mystery, no suspense, no interesting conflicts between characters -- and the first part focuses on one group of characters, the next part focuses on another group of characters, and so on. I prefer following just one character or set of characters, but that's just me. The book is not hard to read, so will follow it to the end, but it's uninspiring.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by bertilak » Sat Jul 22, 2017 1:52 pm

Uncle Silas: A Tale of Bartram-Haugh (1864) by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

Occasionally, I buy a book but don’t get around to reading it. I put it on the shelf and forget I even have it. Today I ran across Uncle Silas and decided I was in the mood for it. The book is said to be of the Gothic Mystery genre. The editor’s introduction says there are similarities to elements in Wuthering Heights.

So far, I have only read the introduction by professor Devendra P. Varma. A selection from that introduction sets the mood:
  • On that fateful February night when the doctor wrenched open the bedroom door, he beheld Le Fanu’s terror-stricken eyes by the sputtering light of the candle. The dead man’s arms were flung wide, his bearded chin tilted up at a sharp angle, and the horror upon his face was such men may rarely encounter upon this earth. The doctor exclaimed: “I feared this – that house fell at last.”
Remember, that is from the 1988 introduction, not the 1864 work itself! The introduction goes on to describe Fanu as the “supreme master of the Macabre” and a “master of suspense.” Henry James is quoted as saying Le Fanu stories are “the ideal reading in a country house for the hours after midnight.”

Now, to the book itself. I will report back after I have read it!
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by jdb » Sun Jul 23, 2017 10:13 am

Ten Days That Shook The World by John Reed with introduction from V.I. Lenin, published by International Publishers. Found this old book at used bookstore in Seattle, appears to be a 1920's edition, contains extensive Appendix and has strange pink sticker in back saying that it was "fumitized". I had never read this classic first hand account of the Bolshevik Revolution. And since in a few months will be the 100th anniversary of that event found it was fascinating to read the events from perspective of subsequent history. Recommend this book especially if can find old hardback volume in used bookstore.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by ruralavalon » Sun Jul 23, 2017 2:29 pm

The Chessmen, by Peter May.

This book is the third in a series of murder mysteries set in the Outer Hebrides Islands, Scotland. A former police detective discovers a body in a plane wreck in a remote area, and the solution to the mystery is found in his own past.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by MJW » Sun Jul 23, 2017 2:50 pm

MJW wrote:
ruralavalon wrote:Farther Than Any Man, by Martin Dugard.

This is a biography of Capitan Cook covering his entire adult life including his three voyages of discovery in the Pacific. I recommend this book.
You just helped me select a birthday gift for my father. Thank you!
This turned out to be a much-appreciated gift, and my pops is excited to read it.

Another example of the random value-add this forum can provide.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by itstoomuch » Sun Jul 23, 2017 3:52 pm

Undoing Project. Michael Lewis. 2016
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by rakornacki1 » Tue Jul 25, 2017 6:44 am

azurekep wrote:
rakornacki1 wrote:The Whistler by John Grisham
I consider this one of his bests, a great story that keeps your attention throughout.
I enjoyed The Whistler and the look inside Indian casino gamling in Florida. My contemporaneous notes say "Was mildly interesting at first, then got very absorbing with all the complicated details."

Camino Island on the other hand is proving the negative reviews correct. I'm halfway through and it doesn't even read like a Grisham novel. It's unremarkable -- no mystery, no suspense, no interesting conflicts between characters -- and the first part focuses on one group of characters, the next part focuses on another group of characters, and so on. I prefer following just one character or set of characters, but that's just me. The book is not hard to read, so will follow it to the end, but it's uninspiring.
Really disappointed to hear your review of Camino Island. That's next on my reading list.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Artful Dodger » Tue Jul 25, 2017 7:41 am

azurekep wrote:
jginseattle wrote:
jebmke wrote:
jginseattle wrote:I'm about 1/4 the way through Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane. So far, so good.
didn't realize he had a new one out. Be interested in your reaction after finishing. I like Lehane - his early books are basically "airplane" books but he really refined his skills along the way.
This started off well enough but it devolves into a mediocre movie plot. I have only liked one of the four Lehane novels I've read. As talented as he is, it seems that he's dumbing things down for his readers.
I liked Prayers for Rain, the only Lehane book I've read. I'll be reading another of his airplane books before moving on to The Given Day per jebmke's recommendation. The latter is historical, which isn't always my first choice, but I'm curious to see Lehane's evolution as a writer.

Speaking of historical, I'm almost done with Frederick Forsyth's The Day of the Jackal. A classic thriller about an assassin hired to take out French President Charles DeGaulle. The plot is linear and logical, none of the jumping around you see in modern international thrillers.

First we see The Jackal meticulously planning the event. Then we see a chess game between him and his pursuers. The Jackal is even-tempered and deals with any setback with equanimity. He's able to think up creative solutions on the spot.

It's still unclear how the story is going to end. The Jackal is smart, competent and resourceful even though he is "the bad guy". So part of me will hate seeing him taken down, if that's what happens.
I finished Day of the Jackal just recently. What a great book. I had read several of Forsyth's novels years ago, but never read The Jackal. I say read, but it was a Daily Deal from Audible, so was actually a "listen".

I'll contrast that to The Bourne Ultimatum. I picked it up a few months ago while on vacationing, and finally finished slogging through it. I remember Ludlum's books being much better, and know I really liked the first Bourne novel, but Ultimatum was a waste of time, a long painful waste of time.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by heartwood » Tue Jul 25, 2017 7:50 am

rakornacki1 wrote:
azurekep wrote:
rakornacki1 wrote:The Whistler by John Grisham
I consider this one of his bests, a great story that keeps your attention throughout.
I enjoyed The Whistler and the look inside Indian casino gamling in Florida. My contemporaneous notes say "Was mildly interesting at first, then got very absorbing with all the complicated details."

Camino Island on the other hand is proving the negative reviews correct. I'm halfway through and it doesn't even read like a Grisham novel. It's unremarkable -- no mystery, no suspense, no interesting conflicts between characters -- and the first part focuses on one group of characters, the next part focuses on another group of characters, and so on. I prefer following just one character or set of characters, but that's just me. The book is not hard to read, so will follow it to the end, but it's uninspiring.
Really disappointed to hear your review of Camino Island. That's next on my reading list.
I read it last week. As described here https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/12/book ... ml?mcubz=2 he and his wife developed the story on a drive to Florida. I'd describe it as basically a summer beach book.

It was ok in that regard. I found it more enjoyable than several of his books in recent years, esp Gray Mountain. His early books, the ones that made his reputation, are almost of a different genre.

My comments on Rogue Lawyer were similar "Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham.

Basically a good story so far but with one dimensional characters. Well, perhaps not 1-D, but complete stereotypes with no shading. The lawyer is wonderful. The DA has no scruples. All the witnesses are lying. The good guys have no faults; the bad guys have no redeeming traits. Oh, the lawyer has a side financial interest in an extreme fighter from El Salvador. And does "illegal' side bets.

Grisham seems to have gotten into a paint by numbers pattern with this book and his prior novel, Gray Mountain."

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by bltkmt » Tue Jul 25, 2017 7:51 am

I am a music nerd. Just finished the Replacements' book and and now starting this one:


Image

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by azurekep » Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:21 am

heartwood wrote:
rakornacki1 wrote:
Really disappointed to hear your review of Camino Island. That's next on my reading list.
I read it last week. As described here https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/12/book ... ml?mcubz=2 he and his wife developed the story on a drive to Florida. I'd describe it as basically a summer beach book.

It was ok in that regard. I found it more enjoyable than several of his books in recent years, esp Gray Mountain. His early books, the ones that made his reputation, are almost of a different genre.

My comments on Rogue Lawyer were similar "Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham.

Basically a good story so far but with one dimensional characters. Well, perhaps not 1-D, but complete stereotypes with no shading. The lawyer is wonderful. The DA has no scruples. All the witnesses are lying. The good guys have no faults; the bad guys have no redeeming traits. Oh, the lawyer has a side financial interest in an extreme fighter from El Salvador. And does "illegal' side bets.

Grisham seems to have gotten into a paint by numbers pattern with this book and his prior novel, Gray Mountain."
Grisham experiments a lot. I guess it gets old being a best-selling author with a proven formula. Especially in the legal genre. I used to like Steve Martini's legal thrillers (and I believe he was a lawyer like Grisham), but he got bored and started writing international thrillers. The kind that jump around and focus on different groups of characters -- usually one-dimensional characters, and outlandish plots. That's when I quit reading him.

But back to "Camino Island', it got better after the halfway point. The story settled on one group of characters and their interrelationships. Some of the characters were too quirky for my taste, but they were writers. And basically Camino is about writers, writing and the book trade. I learned a bit about rare book collecting. Not sure I'll use that knowledge anytime soon :D but if I come away from a book having learned something new, I consider it a plus, even if the experience was a bit rocky.

It definitely does not have the feel of a Grisham book, but if you view it as written by someone else, it's passable summer reading.

I'm currently reading "The Late Show" by Michael Connelly, and it's good, as expected. Connelly rarely lets the reader down. He's consistent.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by azurekep » Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:32 am

Artful Dodger wrote:
I'll contrast that to The Bourne Ultimatum. I picked it up a few months ago while on vacationing, and finally finished slogging through it. I remember Ludlum's books being much better, and know I really liked the first Bourne novel, but Ultimatum was a waste of time, a long painful waste of time.
Ludlum is hit or miss. One that I highly recommend is "The Matarese Circle". Here are my notes at the time:
Excellent. Very well-written, fascinating characters, fascinating places (Europe, etc.)

Was too long and could have been cut by one-third, but it was still good.

US and USSR top operatives (blood enemies) have to work together to stop a violent cabal that wants to rule the world. The cabal was started in Corsica by a madman and so that's where the hunt begins for answers. A Corsican girl becomes part of the team and is a love interest. I thought the part where the Soviet operative tries to make contact with the understandably wary US operative was excellent and would have made a book in itself due to the fascinating psychology involved.
After reading it, I looked for other Ludlum books, but was universally greeted with the opinion that one had to cherry-pick. Some books were good, others were not. And the other book(s) with "Materese" in the title were apparently not good.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by MP173 » Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:32 am

Hue, 1968 by Mark Bowden

Previously indicated i was reading this and just finished it. I would rate it up there with "A Bright Shining Lie" by Neil Sheehan. Yes, it is that good.

Instead of following one man, John Paul Vann, Bowden interviewed numerous people and visited archives both in US and abroad. It gets a bit difficult to follow all the people involved, but Bowden gives the big picture, along with a nice wrap up of what happened to all these people.

This is not an easy read, as it took nearly 3 weeks to complete.

Ed

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Elsebet » Thu Jul 27, 2017 2:00 pm

Just finished book two of the Earthsea cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin. Very easy to read fantasy novels, looking forward to book 3!

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by ruralavalon » Thu Jul 27, 2017 6:26 pm

The Cattle Kingdom, by Christopher Knowlton.

I recommend this book. This comprehensive history starts with the end of bison and the start of railroads on the Great Plains, then the trail drives, wild Kansas cattle towns, lawmen and iconic cowboys. It describes the age large open range cattle ranches, featuring the rich from the East Coast as well as English and Scots aristocrats. Then the book moves on to the Great Die-Off, the collapse of the commodity bubble in cattle, and the Johnson County War. Finally it covers the switch to small ranches and farms on the Great Plains, Theodore Roosevelt and the birth of the conservation movements.

It all holds together by following the lives of several ranchers and cowboys who lived thru the era.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Dave55 » Thu Jul 27, 2017 7:20 pm

The Late Show by Michael Connelly. Michael introduces us to Detective Renee Ballard.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by azurekep » Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:43 pm

Dave55 wrote:The Late Show by Michael Connelly. Michael introduces us to Detective Renee Ballard.
Highly recommended. I finished it last night.

Ballard is a younger, female version of Bosch. She doggedly pursues things, has trouble with the brass, goes behind the back of her superiors, etc. Instead of listening to jazz though, she camps on the beach and goes paddle-boarding. :)

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Dave55 » Fri Jul 28, 2017 7:46 pm

azurekep wrote:
Dave55 wrote:The Late Show by Michael Connelly. Michael introduces us to Detective Renee Ballard.
Highly recommended. I finished it last night.

Ballard is a younger, female version of Bosch. She doggedly pursues things, has trouble with the brass, goes behind the back of her superiors, etc. Instead of listening to jazz though, she camps on the beach and goes paddle-boarding. :)
azurekep, at 150 pages in, I am enjoying the book as much as any Bosch or Micky Haller book. Connelly is one of my top favorite authors along with Harlan Coben, Robert B. Parker, Lee Child and Lawrence Block.

Dave

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by gkaplan » Fri Jul 28, 2017 10:06 pm

This morning, I finished Absolutely on Music: Conversations by Haruki Murakami, with Seiji Ozawa.

This is a deeply personal, intimate conversation about music and writing between the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author M(urakami) and the former conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (Ozawa). In Absolutely on Music, Murakami sits down with his friend Seiji Ozawa, the revered former conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, for a series of conversations on their shared passion: music. Over the course of two years, Murakami and Ozawa discuss everything from Brahms to Beethoven, from Leonard Bernstein to Glenn Gould, from Bartók to Mahler, and from pop-up orchestras to opera. They listen to and dissect recordings of some of their favorite performances, and Murakami questions Ozawa about his career conducting orchestras around the world. Culminating in Murakami's ten-day visit to the banks of Lake Geneva to observe Ozawa's retreat for young musicians, the book is interspersed with ruminations on record collecting, jazz clubs, orchestra halls, film scores, and much more. A deep reflection on the essential nature of both music and writing, Absolutely on Music is an unprecedented glimpse into the minds of two maestros. A selection of the music discussed by Murakami and Ozawa is available at harukimurakami.com. (Synopsis edited from publisher description.)

I have now read four books of Murakami. First I read A Strange Library, which indeed was strange, but I finished the book, despite its weirdness. Then I read his What I Talk About Running When I Talk About Running, which, as a runner, I liked. Murakami really captures the psyche, the mindset, and the motivation of the runner (and probably the novelist, as well). Then I read his Sputnik Sweetheart, which was just too weird for me. I gave up after about forty-five pages.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by ulvazell » Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:28 am

The Irish Country Doctor series by Patrick Taylor...

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by MJW » Sat Jul 29, 2017 3:35 pm

I just finished The Whistler by John Grisham. I thought it was an adequate read for the purpose of why I read his books to begin with.

In line with the discussion few posts up, when I look back on even some of my favorite Grisham reads (The Firm, The Rainmaker, The Client), I don't think his characters or interpersonal relationships were ever particularly complex; however it does seem that his books as of late have that "just cranking out another one" feel to them. Aside from the titles I just shared, I have found his overall body of work to consist of engaging-at-the time but ultimately forgettable reads. And that's fine by me - I know what I'm getting and they serve their purpose.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by FreeAtLast » Sat Jul 29, 2017 5:31 pm

"Tennozan: The Battle of Okinawa and The Atomic Bomb" by George Feifer (Ticknor and Fields, 1992).

"Tennozan" = A decisive battle or struggle

This book is almost 600 pages long. I was working on a comprehensive review last night, but I deleted it because it was getting to be too long and involved (translation: boring). Suffice it to say that if you are interested in the Pacific Campaign during WWII, then I consider this treatise to be a must-read. The author is very fair-minded and presents the numerous viewpoints of the Americans, the Japanese, and the Okinawans. His analyses of the military aspects of the battle are spot-on. Some sobering facts to consider:

Approximate # of battle-related deaths at Iwo Jima: 7,000 American, 20,000 Japanese, 0 civilians.
Approximate # of battle-related deaths at Okinawa: 12,000 American, 78,000 Japanese, 25,000 drafted Okinawan soldiers, 150,000 civilians.

The peaceful Okinawans suffered horribly - many of their casualties caused by American artillery - and much of their gorgeous tropical island was churned into an utterly devastated landscape. The Japanese, having absorbed the lessons of Iwo's Colonel Kuribayashi, turned the southern half of the island into a meticulously engineered, labyrinthine death trap. The Americans, especially the Army's General Simon Buckner Jr. who led the American forces, ignored those same lessons and led all of his troops into a Verdun of the Pacific. Wikipedia states that the USA still has thousands of military personnel stationed on the island. Many of the Okinawans want us to be completely gone; I can't say that I blame them.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by azurekep » Sat Jul 29, 2017 5:50 pm

^ I hate to post a comedy after a war book, but I'll add a war-related excerpt at the end.

I'm early into Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken.

It's funny. Laugh out loud at times. I was curious about Franken after seeing him in a Judiciary Committee hearing. It was obvious he had once been a comedian.

Franken went from writer/performer on Saturday Night Live, to entertainer for the troops on USO tours, to host of a progressive radio show, to US Senator of Minnesota. The book is obviously geared towards progressives, but if one skips the Foreward, which overtly references recent events, the humor and inside look at politics could be of interest to others. I say this while still early in the book. It may get more overtly partisan later on, so reader be warned.

But Al Franken is a funny guy.

Excerpt (re: troop protective equipment scandal):
As we boarded our plane in Kuwait, a soldier took me aside and suggested that I should make sure I got a flak jacket equipped with modern Kevlar plates. The Vietnam-era flak jacket I was wearing, he said, wouldn’t really stop a bullet. So when I got to Iraq, I should insist on upgrading to the Kevlar. He emphasized the word “insist.”
I nodded. Insist. Got it.
When our plane landed in Baghdad, we were transferred quickly to a waiting helicopter for the flight to Tikrit. As I was climbing in, I turned to an airman and said, “Um, I’ve been told to ask for the Kevlar plates for my flak jacket?”
The airman said, “We don’t have any.”
“Uh-huh. But I was told to insist.”
“Well, that’s fine. But we just don’t have them.”
There was an uncomfortable moment before I tried one last time. “Okay. I’m insisting.”
“I understand. We don’t have any.”
So off I went to Tikrit, supposedly the most dangerous place in Iraq, where, fortunately, I was not shot. And neither were the cheerleaders.
This failure to properly equip and protect our troops would become an ongoing scandal. Right before I went on my third trip in 2005, it came out that troops in Kuwait were going to dumps in search of metal they could use to up-armor their own Humvees. In response to the outcry, Donald Rumsfeld famously said, “You go to war with the army you have, not the army you want.” This was particularly galling since the date he said this was further from 9/11 than V-J Day was from Pearl Harbor.
In preparation for that year’s USO tour, I asked SNL to make a flak jacket out of a garbage can and wore it during my opening monologue at our shows, saying, “We’ve got some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that there aren’t any cheerleaders this year. The good news is”—pointing to my garbage can flak jacket—“I’ve got a hundred more of these.”

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Dantes » Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:23 pm

The Goodbye Look by Ross Macdonald. I'm a fan of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler; Ross MacDonald was their natural successor, so I don't know why I have never gotten around to reading his books. But I'm glad I did: The Goodbye Look is excellent and I am looking forward to reading the other Lew Archer novels.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by abuss368 » Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:37 pm

The Bogleheads Guide to Investing 2nd Edition.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by wilson08 » Sun Jul 30, 2017 3:30 pm

Two books I tried but could not get through:

The Children by Edith Wharton
I am an admirer of the works of Edith Wharton and enjoyed
Age of Innocence, House of Mirth, Edith Frome, and The
Buccaneers,
but this book was a no-go for me. Story is about
a bachelor who runs into a band of children and their nanny
and travels with them. Too much like a daft TV sitcom.

Flatland by Edward A. Abbott
Silly satire about animated geometric figures in a make
believe flat society. I know it was poking fun at the perceived
flaws of actual society but just did not fly with me.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by gkaplan » Sun Jul 30, 2017 8:54 pm

This morning, I finished The Last Place You Look, a debut crime novel, by Kristen Lepionka.

"Nobody knows what happened to Sarah Cook. The beautiful blonde teenager disappeared fifteen years ago, the same night her parents were brutally murdered in their suburban Ohio home. Her boyfriend Brad Stockton, black and from the wrong side of the tracks, was convicted of the murders and is now on death row. Though he's maintained his innocence all along, the clock is running out. His execution is only weeks away when his devoted sister insists she spied Sarah at an area gas station. Willing to try anything, she hires PI Roxane Weary to look at the case and see if she can locate Sarah. Brad might be in a bad way, but private investigator Roxane Weary isn't doing so hot herself. Still reeling from the recent death of her cop father in the line of duty, her main way of dealing with her grief has been working as little and drinking as much as possible.
Roxane finds herself drawn in to the story of Sarah's vanishing act, especially when she links the disappearance to one of her father's unsolved murder cases involving another teen girl. The stakes get higher as Roxane discovers that the two girls may not be the only beautiful blonde teenagers who've turned up missing or dead. As her investigation gets darker and darker, Roxane will have to risk everything to find the truth. Lives depend on her cracking this case, hers included." (Edited from publisher description.)

Really a great read and a page turner. (I finished it in less than three days.) Looking forward to her next book. Following are some of the glowing reviews:


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/314 ... e-you-look


https://www.amazon.com/Last-Place-You-L ... 1250120519
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by jfm2123 » Sun Jul 30, 2017 9:54 pm

A History of the United States in Five Crashes: Stock Market Meltdowns that Define a Nation (1907, 1929, 1987, 2008, 2010) by Scott Nations

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Bungo » Sun Jul 30, 2017 10:06 pm

jfm2123 wrote:A History of the United States in Five Crashes: Stock Market Meltdowns that Define a Nation (1907, 1929, 1987, 2008, 2010) by Scott Nations
2010? I must have missed that one.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by azurekep » Wed Aug 02, 2017 12:28 am

azurekep wrote:
I'm early into Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken.
Finished Franken's book. Excellent and highly recommended. Very engaging writing.

The book:
  • Explains what it's like working in the Senate.
  • Describes the friendships made across the aisle (some extremely surprising friendships).
  • There's only one Senator Franken can't stand, and there seems to be bipartisan dislike of the guy; the encounters are told in a funny way
  • Minnesota local color include Franken's powwows with Indian tribes and participation in "bean feeds", which are part of the local fundraising culture.
  • Franken's first election was followed by an 8-mounth recount and legal battle. The campaign itself was painful since the entire body of Franken's satirical work was used against him.
  • It was particularly funny watching Franken learn to be political. Like learning how to "pivot", which means not answering questions posed by journalists, then turning the conversation to your own message.
  • Franken continues to struggle against a compulsion to tell the occasional joke during Senate hearings, and his staff is instructed to keep him in line.
The first half of the book was consistenly funny. The second half was occasionally interspersed with serious stuff, like a discussion of healthcare and education. Near the very end, it became a bit political. Therefore, the last chapters can be skipped.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by gkaplan » Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:51 pm

This morning I finished reading Berlin Red: an Inspector Pekkala Novel of Suspense by Paul Watkins writing as Sam Eastland

April, 1945. East of Berlin, the Red Army stands poised to unleash its final assault upon the ruined capital of Hitler's Thousand Year Reich.
To the north, at a lonely outpost near the Baltic Sea, German scientists perfect a guidance system for the mighty V-2 rocket, which has already caused massive damage to the cities of London and Antwerp. This device, known only by the code name Diamond Stream, will allow the rocket to arrive at its target with pinpoint accuracy. So devastating is the potential of this newly-mastered technology that Hitler's promise to the German people of a 'miracle weapon' that will turn the tide of the war might actually come true. When a radio message sent to Hitler's Headquarters, heralding the success of Diamond Stream, is intercepted by an English listening station, British Intelligence orders one of its last agents operating in Berlin to acquire the plans for the device. Desperate to evacuate their agent from the doomed city before the Red Army swarms through its streets, they ask for one man in particular – Inspector Pekkala. This time, for Pekkala, it is personal.

(Edited summary taken from the author's website.)

Berlin Red is the seventh of the Inspector Pekkala novels and the best in my opinion. It is also the last of the series, and I will miss him. I hope the author has another series of a similar nature in the works.
Gordon

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by heartwood » Thu Aug 03, 2017 12:47 pm

gkaplan wrote:This morning I finished reading Berlin Red: an Inspector Pekkala Novel of Suspense by Paul Watkins writing as Sam Eastland

April, 1945. East of Berlin, the Red Army stands poised to unleash its final assault upon the ruined capital of Hitler's Thousand Year Reich.
To the north, at a lonely outpost near the Baltic Sea, German scientists perfect a guidance system for the mighty V-2 rocket, which has already caused massive damage to the cities of London and Antwerp. This device, known only by the code name Diamond Stream, will allow the rocket to arrive at its target with pinpoint accuracy. So devastating is the potential of this newly-mastered technology that Hitler's promise to the German people of a 'miracle weapon' that will turn the tide of the war might actually come true. When a radio message sent to Hitler's Headquarters, heralding the success of Diamond Stream, is intercepted by an English listening station, British Intelligence orders one of its last agents operating in Berlin to acquire the plans for the device. Desperate to evacuate their agent from the doomed city before the Red Army swarms through its streets, they ask for one man in particular – Inspector Pekkala. This time, for Pekkala, it is personal.

(Edited summary taken from the author's website.)

Berlin Red is the seventh of the Inspector Pekkala novels and the best in my opinion. It is also the last of the series, and I will miss him. I hope the author has another series of a similar nature in the works.
Thanks for the reminder about this series. I enjoyed the first three. I just checked and the 4th (The Red Moth) appears to be to be unavailable in the US as a kindle book.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Koogie » Thu Aug 03, 2017 3:36 pm

gkaplan wrote:This morning I finished reading Berlin Red: an Inspector Pekkala Novel of Suspense by Paul Watkins writing as Sam Eastland
...Berlin Red is the seventh of the Inspector Pekkala novels and the best in my opinion. It is also the last of the series, and I will miss him. I hope the author has another series of a similar nature in the works.
Well, that sucks. I just finished reading the second one (Red Coffin) and it was as good as the first. Well, at least I know how many more I have to go and can savor them. :D

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by gkaplan » Fri Aug 04, 2017 8:32 pm

gkaplan wrote:This morning I finished reading Berlin Red: an Inspector Pekkala Novel of Suspense by Paul Watkins writing as Sam Eastland

April, 1945. East of Berlin, the Red Army stands poised to unleash its final assault upon the ruined capital of Hitler's Thousand Year Reich.
To the north, at a lonely outpost near the Baltic Sea, German scientists perfect a guidance system for the mighty V-2 rocket, which has already caused massive damage to the cities of London and Antwerp. This device, known only by the code name Diamond Stream, will allow the rocket to arrive at its target with pinpoint accuracy. So devastating is the potential of this newly-mastered technology that Hitler's promise to the German people of a 'miracle weapon' that will turn the tide of the war might actually come true. When a radio message sent to Hitler's Headquarters, heralding the success of Diamond Stream, is intercepted by an English listening station, British Intelligence orders one of its last agents operating in Berlin to acquire the plans for the device. Desperate to evacuate their agent from the doomed city before the Red Army swarms through its streets, they ask for one man in particular – Inspector Pekkala. This time, for Pekkala, it is personal.

(Edited summary taken from the author's website.)

Berlin Red is the seventh of the Inspector Pekkala novels and the best in my opinion. It is also the last of the series, and I will miss him. I hope the author has another series of a similar nature in the works.

Update/Addendum: I had an email conversation with the author. He said that he has several stand-alone books on the front burner, and they may morph into series. He also said that a Inspector Pekalla television series is in the works.
Gordon

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by ruralavalon » Sat Aug 05, 2017 11:25 am

Autumn of the Black Snake, by William Hogeland.

This is a history of the politics involved in the creation of the regular U.S. Army after the adoption of the Constitution, and of the border warfare in the Old Northwest thru the Battle of Fallen Timbers of August 1794 in Ohio. What makes the history most interesting is that the book gives a great deal of attention to the plans and leadership of the Miami and Shawnee tribes, it doesn't just focus on what was happening on the U.S. side of the conflicts.
Last edited by ruralavalon on Sat Aug 05, 2017 1:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Dave55 » Sat Aug 05, 2017 12:58 pm

I reading the 10th in the Jesse Stone series by Michael Brandman (Robert B. Parker). The first 9 in the series excellent.

Dave

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by azurekep » Sat Aug 05, 2017 2:29 pm

Dave55 wrote:
azurekep, at 150 pages in, I am enjoying the book as much as any Bosch or Micky Haller book. Connelly is one of my top favorite authors along with Harlan Coben, Robert B. Parker, Lee Child and Lawrence Block
I'm reading my first Lawrence Block book -- Hit List, a John Keller book.

At first, I couldn't figure things out. Keller is a killer for hire yet his actions and demeanor seem so mundane. After a job, he visits a store to buy stamps for his stamp collection. There is little in the way of description to give a sense of what Keller is all about.

Eventually, it becomes apparent, the character development occurs in dialogue -- especially his back-and-forths with Dot, his handler. It's like eavesdropping on long conversations. With pages and pages of dialogue, it's an easy read, and slanted towards the comedic side of things since Keller is so hapless in so many ways.

The ultimate irony, so far, is that Keller thought he had to pass over doing a job (i.e., a kill) because he had jury duty. :mrgreen:

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by mancich » Sat Aug 05, 2017 4:20 pm

"The Imagineers of War: The Untold Story of DARPA, the Pentagon Agency That Changed the World" Very interesting read. I never knew DARPA had been involved in so many things, very neat stuff.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by market timer » Sun Aug 06, 2017 6:44 am

The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth's Past), by Cixin Liu.

Amazon blurb:
Set against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by LadyGeek » Sun Aug 06, 2017 9:02 am

^^^ I read all 3 books of the trilogy. My prior post is here. You can follow that post's link to the sci-fi discussion thread.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by FreeAtLast » Sun Aug 06, 2017 6:43 pm

"A Darkness More Than Night" by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown & Co., 2001)

I am a huge fan of Connelly's two major protagonists (Bosch and Haller), but I know I am preaching to the choir in this forum. This one is a Bosch novel which showed up out of nowhere at my local library recently. Either it has been loaned out in circulation for a long time or somebody just donated an old copy; whatever happened, I am very glad it wound up in my sweaty mitts.

This is one of Connelly's best efforts in writing about Bosch. Here's why:
1) He penetrates as deep as he ever has into Bosch's psyche and his motivations for being a homicide detective.
2) In this story, Bosch is in potentially the worst career trouble that he has ever experienced (yea, I know - that is very hard to believe).
3) He encounters once again expert FBI profiler Terry McCaleb. Instead of working together harmoniously to track down a killer, I don't think I am giving anything away by revealing that they are at odds against each other for most of the story. We also get a excellent picture of the obsessiveness of McCaleb's psyche. Will he - and Bosch - try everything and anything, no matter how morally and legally questionable, to solve a case?
4) It's one of Connelly's most intricately composed, high tension tales.

Set aside a slow weekend and savor this one; you won't regret it. :beer
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