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Topic: February comes in with a blizzard! What are you reading?

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Subject: February comes in with a blizzard! What are you reading?
Date Posted: 2/1/2011 7:53 AM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2007
Posts: 4,718
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Can I be the only person up?  No.  Did you northern gals lose your power already?  Oh dear, I hope not.

Anyway, what's everyone reading besides Pink Carnation?

I'm almost done with Phaedra, which is the story of Ariadne's sister, who marries Theseus but seems more attracted to Theseus's son.  It's an odd, compelling little book.  We'll see how it ends.


Date Posted: 2/1/2011 8:27 AM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,429
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I am nearly finished with The Song of Troy  ... and it has been wonderful! 

I woke up to high winds, a temperature of 10 degrees; wind chill of 10 below. I'm housebound today ... and that's okay with me! (I will have to bundle up later on & take my dog for a short walk - she is not interested in going outside on her own at all!!)



Date Posted: 2/1/2011 9:28 AM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
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I finished Frankenstein last night. Rather "eh" about it.  I feel rather badly about not liking it, but I just didn't.  I didn't like the framing device at ALL.  Double framing, really.  Our narrator is writing letters (a device I rarely like) to his sister about the story he heard from Frankenstein.  That device helped smooth over some difficulties in the story, but it created far bigger problems, IMO.  It tells the story second and third hand, and from a signifcant distance in time and space from the events it told.  With WAAAAYYY too much internal reflection and hindsight commentary.  It never drew me into the story.  The plot itself is good.  A hole or two that were pretty big to me, but I can see how a movie could be quite good.  I've never seen any of them, but I may now, when an opportunity arises.

I started Sutcliff's Eagle of the Ninth this morning.  Big thumbs up so far.  I'm looking forward to the movie, and I had intended to wait to read the book until after the movie, but I broke down.

Last Edited on: 2/1/11 9:28 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/1/2011 9:51 AM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2007
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Still reading City of Dreams.  I'm hoping for a snow day tomorrow so I can stay home in bed and finish it smiley

Date Posted: 2/1/2011 10:05 AM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2009
Posts: 9,499
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Gladiatrix by Russell Whitfield.  Wishing the State would close offices due to freezing weather.  Not much snow but wind chills of -50 is even a little extreme for us.  My daughter keeps telling me we don't have clothes for this weather. lol

Date Posted: 2/1/2011 10:16 AM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
Posts: 3,029
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Ah, I discovered that Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is appropriate for my YA challenge.  And, it's on the 1,000 Books To Read Before You Die.  It's a sad, sad story but interesting tale about how white man and his belief in his lifestyle and religion is the only way for others to live.   In this case the conflicts lead to the forcing of change in spite of the strong tribal beliefs and laws. 

Finished Pompeii by Robert Harris:  Really enjoyed this read - the author prefaces each chapter by a short explanation about earthquakes which adds an educational dimension to the book..   

The Home of the Blizzard by Douglas Mawson (Antarctic read), began today.  Meant to start it a couple of days ago but I was caught in a blizzard!  This is really an interesting read.  Lots of wonderful observations of the local wildlife which, of course, leave before winter; wind, wind and more wind; and wonderful humorous tales about how the crew coped with all those shut-in days.  I am enjoying this so much.  Wow!  The Home of the Blizzard is soo good.  Mawson is the leader of this expedition and such an accomplished writer that I feel as if I am swishing across the glacier crevices with them.  The first documented loss of a member of the 18-member party who falls into a "bottomless" crevice along with half of the dogs (the strongest), half of the food (all of the dog food), the tent and some important clothing has just occurred.  Mawson's description of the incident is so viivid.  I''m so glad that I chose this one for my Antarctic  read.  What a find!   One of my gr friends said that this HB costs $184 new and when I searched for a secondhand one the cheapest HB amazon had was $50 so I decided to keep this one. 

Dear Zoe, by Philip Beard is an excellent story about a teen-ager who grieves for her sister.  Little Zoe is killed on 9/11 by an automobile when she runs into the street. While the rest of the world mourns 9/11, Tess and her family mourn Zoe. Tears, bouts of sadness, growing up events and family experiences blend to make a whole. Beard writes the story in the form of letters that Tess writes to Zoe. An entire year passes as Tess learns to cope with her grief. She feels responsible because she was supposed to be watching Zoe so she moves in with her dad who is divorced from her mother. She gets to know her dad, has her first boyfriend, first sexual experience, first job, and first taste of weed.  It's sensitive, realistic and emotional - the story not just of Tess coping with grief but of how her family finally comes together to deal with Zoe's death.

For the HF challenge also read Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross.  What an inspiring read!  Highly recommended for anyone interested in this topic.  The book is well-researched and well written.

Compled three fantasy reads - The Shape Changer's Wife by Sharon Shinn, The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (YA) and On the Edge by Ilona Andrews - my first read by this author, considered as weird fantasy.  Finished reading  The Art of Racing in the Rain, The Uncommon Reader, Maori and The Good Soldier.  Art was a good read that reminded me of our dog loving daughters and sons-in-law who so enjoy watching racing.  However, if anyone needs a tummy tickling litte read, The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett has chuckles from beginning to end.  I love this quote:  "You don't put your life into books.  You find it there."

Maori by Alan Dean Foster:  Just finished this one for my fantasy challenge and I didn't realize it could be a read for HF.  Here's my review for those who are interested:  "It's the first I've read about the Maori and the story which is a blend of fact and fiction flows so well.  I was a bit worried as the reviewers I saw rated it 3 stars but for me that means I liked the book.  It is certainly worth reading.  Believed by many of the settlers in New Zealand to be ignorant heathen, the intelligence exhibited by both individuals and the tribes seems quite complex.  The role of Maori beliefs in their gods is fascinating.  The eruption of Mount Terawera was fortold by a 104-year-old Maori tunga named Tuhuto who was rescued after being buried by ash and mud.  His rescue and death is recorded in the country's historical records as is the sighting of the death canoe prior to the eruption.  This read makes one want to read much more about the Maori.  What a fascinating tribe of people!  And Foster weaves a story of the whites who settled the area around the Maori, using one family as a primary focus.

Completed The October Horse by Colleen McCullough for HF challenge.  I found it difficult to get into this read and when I checked Amazon reviews found that others had the same experience.  I think it could have been two books - one devoted to Caesar at the prime of his career.  The second could have been devoted to the plot to murder Caesar, those involved and affected by the murder and the chaos that resulted afterward.  Nevertheless, I continue to marvel at McCullough's attention to detail, historical accuracy and ability to make the Romans come alive again and again.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell was an HF challenge read, too.  What a wonderful, wonderful book written by a most talented author.  An intriging story and as one reads one gains considerable insight into Japanese culture and the role of women in this era.

In Evil Hour by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, South America read for the HF challenge, completed.  Fascinating capsule of life in a small Columbian town during an era when dictatorships resulting in seige, censorship, brutality and state terrism reign.  One gets a look at what the citizens of such a community must endure and feel.  

Read the classic The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford for the highbrow category:  What begins as a discussion about friendship between two couples, one English and one American, turns into a discourse about life.  The story is told by John Dowell, the American husband.  He admires his good friend, Edward Ashburnham.  Edward has a big heart, is a spendthrift, loves women and cherishes friends.  The only one he doesn't seem to love is his wife, Leonora, who loves Edward but doesn't know how to express her love.  Dowell tells the story as an observer, putting his own spin on the information and conversations he to which he is privileged.  He is the last to learn that his own wife, Florence, has become a mistress to his best friend.  For twelve long years John took care of Florence who pretended to have a heart condition so serious that the marriage was never consumated.  When she believes that Edward is unfaithful to her, Florence commits suicide.  The tale continues to its tragic end leaving John taking care of Nancy, a beautiful young woman who lived with Edward and Leonora from the age of 13.   She was the last of Edward's loves but he chose to refrain from taking her as his lover and he, too, commits suicide.  Yes, this review has spoilers but there is so much to this novel that I have not shared.  This is only the barest skeleton of the story.  Ford gives the reader much to consider and to reflect upon.    

Finished Beta Colony, a science fiction read for the YA challenge and it was a very good read and Wuthering Heights for the classics challenge.  Bronte's novel deserves more than five stars.  It was unbelievable!  Read it if you haven't already done so.  

Now reading The Moon in the Mango Tree for the HF challenge and Distant Hours.  Finished City of Ashes for fun, Wuthering Heights for the classic challenge, and The Red House Mystery for the YA challenge.  Obtained The Forgotten Garden and Beyond Black from the library.




Last Edited on: 3/8/11 11:04 AM ET - Total times edited: 55
Date Posted: 2/1/2011 10:19 AM ET
Member Since: 3/8/2009
Posts: 6,035
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Still working on A Place Beyond Courage.  I normally hate getting stuck on the same book for longer than a week....after that long, I'm ready to move on to something else.  But this is such a delight that I don't mind at all hanging out with John and Sybilla for a few more days!

Date Posted: 2/1/2011 10:22 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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I have finally finished my gigantic S/F book and I'm moving back to the last book in my Around the World Challenge - The World, the Flesh, and the Devil - by Reay Tannahill. I gotta get this finished before my 80 days is up!

If you like kooky S/F with tons of adventure, try Battleship Earth. It was kind of like reading a comically corny "B" movie...if that makes any sense.

Date Posted: 2/1/2011 10:26 AM ET
Member Since: 6/10/2008
Posts: 42
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I'm almost finished with The Greatest Knight, I also hate reading a book for longer than a week or two, but I really like it!!  It's my first Elizabeth Chadwick and definitely won't be my last!!  I have The Scarlet Lion on the way to me, but I think I might take a break and read one of the other books for the challenge that have been screaming my name! 

Date Posted: 2/1/2011 10:29 AM ET
Member Since: 7/6/2007
Posts: 761
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I'm so close to finishing The Merlin Trilogy....less than 200 pages to go.....


Date Posted: 2/1/2011 10:55 AM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2010
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My audiobook is the Pink Carnation one and I'm still suffering through Gulliver's Travels for my Classics challenge. I keep putting it off, but I have to get this done. I'm just NOT into this book. The writing style is driving me beserk.

Up next is The Tenderness of Wolves. I've had my eye on it for a while and am excited to start it. It's going to be my reward for finishing Gulliver.

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 2/1/2011 10:56 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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I am reading Murder in the White House by Margaret Truman. Not a historical fiction, but alas, it is what I am reading, lol. The story line is great, very intriguing, but the writing is not that great. The dialogue is choppy. For example, the main character was reading a newspaper article that sounded like a second grader wrote it. Was not a realistic news story. I am only a couple chapters into it, so i am hoping the story itself keeps me interested or I may ditch it. I have the next three books in the series, but not sure that I will read them.

Date Posted: 2/1/2011 11:39 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,544
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I was looking for another Arthur legend series or book to start reading so I chose The Skystone by Jack Whyte, first in the Camulod series.  I think I will reserve final judgement on it till the end as I think some here on the forum really liked these books, but I have to say I'm not really too impressed so far.  This one will fit in nicely with the 0 AD-500 AD time challenge though.

Date Posted: 2/1/2011 11:57 AM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2009
Posts: 388
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Enjoying David Copperfield and one non-fiction, People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn.

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 2/1/2011 12:09 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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I have David Copperfield on my TBR. I have owned that book for a very long time and just have never read it.

Date Posted: 2/1/2011 12:12 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,175
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I  read the first 10 chapters in the Pink Carnation  last night.

Last Edited on: 2/1/11 12:13 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/1/2011 12:22 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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I'll be interested in your final opinion about The Skystone, Cheryl. I've had it for years, but I haven't read it. I read something else by him - a templars book, maybe - and was just "eh" about it.

I'm still reading Maledicte, a dark fantasy about obsessive love. Also a bit of an adventure story. I'm liking it quite a bit. I intend to buy the sequel for my Kindle to get around the Big Loser issue. LOL!

Date Posted: 2/1/2011 4:55 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,757
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Like Genie, I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on The Skystone, Cheryl. I've had it on Mt. TBR for a year or more as well.

No bad weather here.  Again, central Minnesota is missing really bad weather.  It's been an odd year. Plenty of snow, but not a lot of bad blizzards for us.  You peeps in the storm's path, hunker down with a book!  (Lucky ducks! Provided the power doesn't go out!)

I laugh at you weenies that can't handle a book for more than a week or two.  I've been reading frickin' Morgan's Run for almost a month, and yes, I am so tired of it.  I like it okay.  Just "okay."  IMO, it's a tad dull and tedious.  It's not a page-turner by any means.  I almost don't care what happens at the end.  LOL!  I'll be glad when it's done.  I've only got maybe 50 pages to go? Not sure.  The book is at home, and I'm at work.  This thing, I think, totally killed my chance at getting the "Around the World in 80 Days" achievement award.  I may have a chance if I read really, really short books for all the other continents.  angry

Last Edited on: 2/1/11 4:59 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 2/1/2011 5:45 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
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I enjoyed Skystone and I do want to continue the series one day, but it's not my favorite book about Arthur. If I remember correctly, it takes a while before Arthur even enters the story, is that right, Cheryl? Or, am I thinking of something else? If I'm not mistaken, the first couple of books in this series are more about what led up to the beginning of the Arthur myth and not actually featuring Arthur as a character yet. I think I enjoyed it more because it was set during Roman Britain, a time period I particularly like, than as a book about Arthur. I think it's a pretty violent and bloody book which not everyone will love. Also, with it being in the fantasy genre, I'm not sure how historically accurate it was.  I think it's been a while since I read this one and my memory just isn't that great anymore, so please set me straight if I'm not remembering the right book, Cheryl!

Cheryl, you don't have to reserve judgement! We all like different things at times, but if you don't tell us what you like and don't like, we can't recommend good stuff for you. :-)

I didn't like the first of the Templar books that much and I doubt I'll continue that series.

Date Posted: 2/1/2011 6:03 PM ET
Member Since: 9/21/2006
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The Branch and the Scaffold....by Loren Estleman

About Judge Parker (the hanging judge) and so far a good read with some details of famous outlaws and murderers.

Date Posted: 2/1/2011 6:57 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,175
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I also started  Crocodile on a Sandbank and Death of KIngs by Conn Iggulden

Date Posted: 2/1/2011 6:59 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
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We haven't gotten much snow - just enough to make the roads slick - but it's bitter cold.  This morning the wind chill was 32 below and the actual temperature hasn't gotten above zero today.  Tonight, the low is supposed to be 19 below and they are calling for wind chills in the morning of 40-50 below.  It's too cold for the air to have any moisture, so at least, no snow.  This past Friday, it was 67 degrees.  The good thing about the weather here is that the cold doesn't last more than a couple of days.  Back to seasonal 40s by the weekend.

I finished an old bio of Lucrezia Borgia today (yeah, I'm down one now!!) by Joan Haslip and started Gortner's The Tudor Secret.

Date Posted: 2/1/2011 7:07 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
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Tanzanite - I always feel sick about the animals when temps get that low. I lived in Denver for 16 years and don't ever recall it being quite that cold!

Last Edited on: 2/1/11 7:15 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/1/2011 7:13 PM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2009
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Tanzinite - I was reading your post on the weather and saw you're in Denver!  I'm just north of you in Wonderful Wyoming and it is just HORRID up here as well, but no snow.  I looked at Laramie's temp earlier (because my friend is a rancher there) and it was -47 with wind chill.  I hate to see what it hits overnight.  Here in Torrington, were pretty mild....just -37 (wind chill).

Date Posted: 2/1/2011 7:32 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2009
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poblio- So far David Copperfield is a good book. It's a cozy book, the kind you want to curl up with. I don't know what makes it so...I just have that feeling with some books but not others. I enjoyed, say, Les Miserables, but it wasn't a cozy book. Jane Austens are always cozy books for me.

Last Edited on: 2/1/11 7:33 PM ET - Total times edited: 1