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review 2018-12-05 15:00
24 Festive Tasks: Door 4 - Diwali, Book -- as well as Discworld December Group Read
The Light Fantastic - Terry Pratchett
The Light Fantastic - Terry Pratchett

The book where we learn how the Librarian of the Unseen University ended up as an orang-utan.  (This happens on the very first pages and anyone who's read at least one Discworld book knows this anyway, so I'm officially not considering it a spoiler.)  Other than that, more fun with Rincewind, Twoflower and the luggage, and more send-ups of  the1980s' life and times on our round blue planet, complete with Conan Cohen the Barbarian and a doomsday cult.  The picture box makes a reappearance, too, and we learn what Death is like when he's at home

and hanging out with the other three horsemen of the apocalypse -- and with his daughter.

(spoiler show)

  Also, there are dine chewers (say that one aloud).  And trolls with a Scottish accent in the audio version.  And there's this, on the usefulness of books:

"Cohen was shocked.

'Bonfires of books?'

'Yes.  Horrible, isn't it?'

'Right,' said Cohen.  He thought it was appalling.  Someone who spent his life living rough under the sky knew the value of a good thick book, which ought to outlast at least a season of cooking fires if you were careful how you tore the pages out.  Many a life had been saved on a snowy night by a handful of sodden kindling and a really dry book.  If you felt like a smoke and couldn't find a pipe, a book was your man every time.

Cohen realized people wrote things in books.  It had always seemed to him to be a frivolous waste of paper."

To put this one to optimum use, since it's got the word "light" in the title I'll use it as my book for the Diwali square of 24 Festive Tasks.  In addition to which, of course, it is the Discworld group read book for December 2018.

 

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text 2018-12-01 19:54
24 Festive Tasks: Door 12 - St. Andrew's Day, Task 4 (Books Featuring Golf)
4:50 from Paddington - Agatha Christie
Murder on the Links - Agatha Christie
Why Didn't They Ask Evans? - Agatha Christie
The Clicking of Cuthbert - P.G. Wodehouse
Goldfinger - Ian Fleming
Murder in the Mews and Other Stories - Agatha Christie
The Mystery of the Blue Jar: A Short Story - Agatha Christie
The Sunningdale Mystery: A Short Story - Agatha Christie

Golf is key to a number of books by Agatha Christie (not only in the Poirot series -- Hastings is not the only character by Christie who is an ardent golfer).  So my list of favorites is largely a mash-up of BrokenTune's and Obsidian's:

 

Agatha Christie favorites:

1.  4:50 From Paddington

2.  Murder on the Links

3.  Why Didn't They Ask Evans?

 

Honorable mentions from my TBR:

 

1.  P.G. Wodehouse: The Clicking of Cuthbert (short stories)

2.  Ian Fleming: Goldfinger (I've seen the movie but have yet to read the book)

 

... and a few Christie short stories:

 

1.  Murder in the Mews (Poirot)

2.  The Mystery of the Blue Jar (standalone)

3.  The Sunningdale Mystery (Tommy & Tuppence)

 

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review 2018-11-20 13:28
24 Festive Tasks: Door 18 - Winter Solstice / Yuletide, Book
The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
The Thirteenth Tale - Juliet Stevenson,Diane Setterfield

Somewhat too self-involved for my taste, though in a first novel dealing with identity and the autobiographies we create for ourselves that probably shouldn't have come as a total surprise ... and I'll grant Setterfield that it doesn't exactly have "first novel" written right across its forehead.  The story's central underpinning is one of my absolute no-go tropes, however

(a secret baby)

(spoiler show)

-- and I'm sorry, but the days when I would have found the two (!) generations of Angelfield / March children's upbringing and childhood, or the household as such for that matter, anything even approaching romantic, wild or desirable are long gone. 

 

Far and away the best scene is the one summed up in isanythingopen's 70% mark status update -- a doctor's prescription of Sherlock Holmes as a cure for a cold and for getting overly romantically caught up in an identification with 19th century women's literature.  (Writer, heed thy own words, I'm bound to add.)

 

3 1/2 stars because I'm feeling generous and the writing actually is quite atmospheric whenever it isn't trying too hard.

 

The framework narrative mostly takes place in December, so I'm counting this book towards the Winter Solstice / Yuletide square of 24 Festive Tasks.

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review 2018-11-08 00:48
Reading progress update: I've read 100% -- of yet another overhyped book.
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World - Stephen Brusatte,Patrick Lawlor
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World - Stephen Brusatte

He redeemed himself a bit with the nonfiction part of the T-Rex chapter, but man, that narrative tone and his "I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread and I'm best buddies with all the cool kids in paleontology (even the long-dead ones)" attitude seriously grated pretty much from page 1 to literally the last words of the book.

 

Also, pro writing tip, Mr., um, Dr. Brusatte: If you seriously think it's a good idea to begin a chapter with a dramatic, pseudo-fictionalized scene involving T-Rex and a bunch of other dinosaurs, and you're telling it from the POV of one of those other dinosaurs, you'll want to avoid describing T-Rex as "a monster bigger than a city bus".  Because I'm pretty sure a dinosaur would have had no idea what a city bus was going to be looking like some 66+ million earth years after the extinction of its own species.  It's all about narrative perspective, you see ...

 

Oh, well.  Next!

 

Read for the Flat Book Society and the New Year's Eve square of the 24 Tasks of the Festive Season.

 

 

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text 2018-11-02 23:22
Reading progress update: I've read 54%.
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World - Stephen Brusatte,Patrick Lawlor
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World - Stephen Brusatte

Hmmm.  The science content is paleontology 101 (though the explanation of the factors that impacted the changes from one earth age to the next is quite accessible).  Only wiith regard to a few major species and subspecies do we get some sort of discussion of their basic attributes, strengths and weaknesses, however -- other creatures falling into the same bracket are basically name-dropped in as a lengthy list, without any discussion whatsoever.  Perhaps most importantly, though, this is another huge case of titular mislabelling -- this is about the author's own career, field trips, cooperation with other scientists, and about his personal heroes as well as the notable scientists of yesteryear, at least as much as it is about the dinosaurs themselves.  I'll finish it, but it's not anywhere near a five-star book.

 

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