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Pick & Mix 2020 reading challenge
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dustydigger
Posted 2020-01-01 9:40 AM (#21614)
Subject: Pick & Mix 2020 reading challenge
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Well,off we go again,pick n' mixers, welcome to year six of the challenge.New decade,new year,and I hope lots of fascinating new books.
I am riveted to Naomi Novik's Spinning Silver at the moment
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dustydigger
Posted 2020-01-06 6:04 AM (#21654 - in reply to #21614)
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Wow!
Finished Naomi Novik's Spinning Silver. I am always fascinated at how many authors are attracted to fairy tales and how they are inspired to produce such a wide variety of interesting work.Novik starts off and for a hundred pages she sets up her highly detailed, rooted in reality, mediaeval world,it could almost just be an historical novel. Only then does she lure us into the fantasy world,which seems utterly believable.She uses the Rumpelstiltskin tale as inspiration,but lightly,using motifs from the tale but not slavishly following the story,so we feel more like being in a dream world,somehow elusively familiar. Unusually too Novik uses a Jewish moneylending family as protagonists,not at all common in this sort of genre/ All in all it is a fine book,faithfully showing that harsh world depicted in real fairy tales,not the Disney sugarcoated versions.
Cruelty,injustice,abject poverty.,child abuse and dysfunctional families are a staple of the original tales,and Novik certainly exhibits this.. But she excels at depicting interesting characters.with sometimes complex motives,combined with an interesting plot.
Long time since a book has gripped so hard .Remarkable.
Have been enduring bad sinusitis,too uncomfortable to do much reading,so already I am behind in my reading schedule Typical!
On next to The Goblin Emperor,and Daniel O'Malley's Stiletto
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Weesam
Posted 2020-01-06 1:11 PM (#21661 - in reply to #21614)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix 2020 reading challenge
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I love Goblin Emperor and Stiletto. Some good reading there. Goblin Emperor gripped me in the same way Spinning Silver did you.
I have been having very bad headaches in the last few months, which makes reading difficult, so I haven't been reading much at all. I can't believe I haven't read a single book this year and we are already on day 7. For this reason I have chosen not to go for the full 80 books this year, and have gone for lower levels on a number of other challenges. Hopefully, things will come right and I will be able to get back into my books again.
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dustydigger
Posted 2020-01-07 3:31 AM (#21668 - in reply to #21614)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix 2020 reading challenge
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Weesam - So sorry that your health problems are so bad at the moment.Better to read only a few books at a lower level,and enjoy them,than strain to read more but as duty reads. I too have set my level at 40 for the moment.,and I too have only finished one book so far in January.I am struggling to get into Stiletto,its a big book,640 pages. Its interesting,but when I surface after what seems quite a while,I find I've barely read 3 or 4 pages! 20 pages a day is not exactly speed reading! A bad dose of sinusitis isnt helping,the whole head is on fire from pain,and reading is a bit difficult,especially small print. I may digress to reading Ransom Riggs Map of Days.Nice big print,uncomplicated,straightforward YA.Excellent when your brain has turned to cotton wool..

Edited by dustydigger 2020-01-07 3:36 AM
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Weesam
Posted 2020-01-07 1:32 PM (#21671 - in reply to #21668)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix 2020 reading challenge
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I've found some books are quick reads, some are slow reads. Often the slow reads are really good, but I can't tell what will make a book slow or quick reading. I think it has something to do with the writing. Some books you really need to read every single word or you get lost.

Hopefully we will both get over our health issues soon. It's very annoying when your health stops you from doing the thing you love the most. So far this morning I am headache-free, and savouring every minute of it.
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Mervi2012
Posted 2020-01-08 2:17 PM (#21675 - in reply to #21671)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix 2020 reading challenge
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Hi Weesam and dustydigger. I'm sorry for your health problems and I hope they'll at least lessen quickly.

I'm aiming initially only for ten books. I have lots of TBR books so I'm putting them on my Mount TBR challenge. This year, I'm also aiming to read more non-fiction and books written in my native language (Finnish). On the other hand, I'm very tempted to plunge into a Terry Pratchett (re)read. We'll see what the year will bring

Edited by Mervi2012 2020-01-08 2:18 PM
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Weesam
Posted 2020-01-08 2:33 PM (#21676 - in reply to #21675)
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Hey Mervi

Any recommendations for Finnish authors who have been translated into English? I'm always interested in exploring more translated works.
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Mervi2012
Posted 2020-01-09 3:28 AM (#21677 - in reply to #21676)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix 2020 reading challenge
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Sure. Off the top of my head:

Johanna Sinisalo's first novel was translated as "Troll - A love story" in US and "Not Before Sundown" in UK. It's set in the Finnish city, Tampere. "Birdbrain" is another translation but I haven't read it.

Many of Leena Krohn's books have been translated. I haven't read many of them but they seem to be magical realism type of stories.

Emmi It?ranta has two books and she's written them both in both English and Finnish: "Memory of Water" is a post-apocalyptic story set in a world where water is a precious resource. The main characters is a tea master. "The Waver" or "the City of Woven Streets" is more fantasy than SF.

Tove Jansson was a Swedish speaking Finn. She wrote the Moomin books.
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dustydigger
Posted 2020-01-09 4:27 PM (#21679 - in reply to #21614)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix 2020 reading challenge
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I fell in love with Tove Jansson's delightful Moomin books back in the late 50s and have been rereading them in 2019. I also read her adult The Summer Book ,and rate it as one of my best reads of last year.Highly recommended.
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Engelbrecht
Posted 2020-01-10 2:05 AM (#21684 - in reply to #21676)
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Weesam - 2020-01-08 12:33 PM  Any recommendations for Finnish authors who have been translated into English? I'm always interested in exploring more translated works.

Weesam, if you're looking specifically for Finnish works, try also The Healer by Antti Tuomainen or The Dedalus Book of Finnish Fantasy, edited by Johanna Sinisalo.  Dedalus has what looks to be a nice set of European fantasy anthologies - Austrian, British, Dutch, Finnish, Flemish, Greek, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, as well as French Horror, German Decadence, and Roman Decadence.

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Weesam
Posted 2020-01-10 3:00 PM (#21690 - in reply to #21684)
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Thanks everyone for suggestions of Finnish authors. I shall check these ones out.

Those anthologies look very interesting. I will definitely look those up.
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dustydigger
Posted 2020-01-18 4:08 AM (#21716 - in reply to #21614)
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Ah,when you get tirred of the dark complexities of the modern adult novel,all ,shades of gray,its a relief and delight to relax with a YA book.The Goblin Emperor was so enjoyable, with its nice,kind,ethical and moral young half goblin 17year old who is dragged from harsh obscurityand thrust into the glare of attention when assasination of the emperor and all his heirs puts him on the throne.I hear there is to be a sequel,The Witness for the Deadwhich I will certainly read..
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TonkaToys
Posted 2020-01-27 4:13 AM (#21751 - in reply to #21614)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix 2020 reading challenge
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I'd heard that the Goblin Emperor was meant to be quite good; one for my ever expanding reading list!

Question about the challenge: I've put the Gene Wolfe "Book of the New Sun" series onto my challenge because I want to re-read them this year. Is that allowed?
It shows up as I have already read them for the challenge, even though I haven't yet.
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illegible_scribble
Posted 2020-01-27 5:08 AM (#21753 - in reply to #21751)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix 2020 reading challenge
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TonkaToys,

There are duplicate sets of The Book of the New Sun in the database, because they were selected for both Gollancz' SF Masterworks and Fantasy Masterworks lines. Consider marking one set as "unread" and adding those to your challenge.

http://worldswithoutend.com/searchwwe.asp?st=book+of+the+new+sun

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dustydigger
Posted 2020-01-30 6:17 AM (#21763 - in reply to #21614)
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I thoroughly enjoyed Leigh Brackett's The Sword of Rhiannon.She can keep up with the boys with the swashbuckling sword and sorcery, while unobtrusively adding interesting world building,beautiful lyrical yet economic prose,and at least some inner thoughts and motivation of the characters,a rare thing in this genre.
Also gobbled up Pat Frank's Alas,Babylon about survivors of a nuclear war.Alas,Babylon,was intense and gripping ,about a smallFlorida community adapting to life after nuclear war. The author Pat Frank was a former journalist and government official in the Ministry of Information,and he used his skills in producing an excellent warning about the dangers of the arms race touching on many of the dangers whilst trying to promote communities working together to cope. Within a decade most books were stark depictions of the terrible effects of such a war,and the idea that within days the world would collapse into brutl barbarity with the weak crushed by the stronge would make this book into a ''cozy catastrophe''. But it is of its time,and quite exciting,with sympathetic characters,plenty of incident - and useful info on what to do. Survivalists probably know i off by heart!.
Finished Clifford D Simak's Cosmic Engineers,originally serialised in 1939,with a distinct YA bias,and extended and published as his first novel in 1950.That was when he retired and became a full time writer.Most of it is simplistic gee-whizz stuff,humans off to help aliens prevent nasty creatures (strong whiff of Nazism here)cause harm,and then prevent two universes colliding.Made me think of Doc Smith with ever more amazing science and wonders revealed as we career through time and space,but here and there Simak lyricism,lush descriptions,and thoughtful philosophy manage to pop up. All this in a mere 161 pages!
Very uneven,and it would be 5 years till the wonderful Way Station,but its an interesting first book.That makes 11 books I have read by Simak,I'll still be hunting out more from this author.
Working my way through Algis Budrys's Rogue Moon.Working out my February reads.I need to return to a few books I put aside last year for various reasons,including Boneshaker and Altered Carbon.,and I really need to finally get round to PKDs Ubik.Havent liked any of the 4 books by him that I have read in the past,wonder if Ubik will improve my opinions. When I look at some WWEnd lists he seems to have a disproportionate number of books on the lists! lol. Oh well,one man's meat IS another man's poison.Can but try........
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TonkaToys
Posted 2020-02-03 5:17 AM (#21784 - in reply to #21753)
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Good plan, thanks Illegible
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dustydigger
Posted 2020-02-12 9:29 AM (#21800 - in reply to #21614)
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Rogue Moon was a bit of an oddity,with its mix of a mystery BDO (big dumb object) with a sort of psychological drama about some rather nasty escapees from a film noir.Cant remember the reference exactly,but one stern critic of the novel Double Indemnity said at the time that he felt he needed a shower after reading it to sluice away all the nasty stuff! lol.There wasabit of that with this book.
I was picturing Barbara Stanwyck as the daredevil risktaking Barker's femme fatale ladyfriend.But for some reason I kept seeing Daniel Craig in the Lara Croft films as Barker. All that stilted conversation was a bit heavy going,but I loved the final 30 pages when we final got inside the Big Dumb Object on the moon,and learned more about the project. We never did crack the strange object mysteries at all,and I wondered if all the deaths as they attempted to work through the object were worth it. Pretty downbeat ending too,but for the most part I still found the book quite enjoyable,despite the testosterone fumes. And loved the inside of the BDO!
And allthis.with long conversations and deep philosophicalmusings,was achieved within 180 pages!
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dustydigger
Posted 2020-02-12 3:27 PM (#21802 - in reply to #21614)
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I am enjoying watching a few astronomy documentaries about the solar system at the moment,our own backyard,as you could term it.I read Leigh Brackett's Sword of Rhiannon last month,published around 1950,the last gasp of the old planetary romances about Mars(and Venus).Now its all science fact.
But I am enjoying Hubble's Universe : a Portrait of our Cosmos a nice little book of some of the spectacular photographs taken by the Hubble telescope,learning or refreshing my mind on some basic facts . Interesting,but not at all romantic! lol
The photos really are magnificent,but daunting. When I was a kid,the general public (always 40years behind the scientists.We still had TV programmes in the 60s trying to explain Einstein's relativity) knew a little about the Milky Way as we fondly termed our galaxy.Thought pehaps there were a few other galaxies,and that was about it. :0)Now we hear of BiILLIONS of galaxies,each with billions of stars.Black holes,dark matter,etc I am starting to feel a bit like those people in Asimov's Nightfall seeing the night sky is becoming a truly scary thing,too much to grasp
So I am retreating to our own backyard,in astronomicalterms.! I rattled through Clifford D Simak's The Trouble With Tycho,cute little novella about a dangerous alien in the Tycho crater on the moon. Great fun in the exuberant 50s adventure style.
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dustydigger
Posted 2020-02-12 3:51 PM (#21803 - in reply to #21614)
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Hornblower - with dragons! Thoroughly enjoyed Temeraire. (aka His Majesty's Dragon) Naomi Novik's charming take on what would the Napoleonic Wars be like if dragons existe,nd were used in battled. Great fun The relationship between the dragon Temeraire and his human Captain Laurence was delightful,and Novik was very careful to make the settingand premise very believable..I jumped straight into book 2.Throne of Jade.and went off to China with Laurence and Temeraire,and the voyage is very sticky! Huge storms,a horrible sea monsters,and attempts on Laurence'slife,followed bythe Chinaof 1806also with dragons.Cultural disconnect at its roughes,but a good follow up to book 1.t
I am now on book 3,Black Powder War,but am struggling through it.I dont find the story riveting,and there is a theme building up about Temeraire wanting to emancipate dragons,which is already boring me. I wont be continuing the series after this first trilogy,as much of the innocence and charm of the relationship between dragon and handler is rapidly fading.From the story synopses of the rest of the series I doubt if I'd enjoy them much,so its best tofinish here,at the end of book 3. Back in 2006 Del Rey did the almost unprecedented decision to publish the over 3 months one a month,and it paid off.
But certainly the first book was sheer delight.
I am reading other genres at the moment,but hope to finally read PKDs Ubik before the end of the month.And only 100 pages left of the wrist breaking Map of Daysso I should finish that too. But I had to return Altered Carbon to the library,wont get it again for about 3 weeks,so thats one of my TBR which wont get done this month..
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dustydigger
Posted 2020-02-19 5:35 AM (#21814 - in reply to #21803)
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Finished Ransom Riggs Mapof Days,a bit disappointing. A lot of the charm of the series was going back to Edwardian and Victorian days,and the photographs really suited the story. This latest book,set in the USA in the 30s and 50s was less interesting to me,and a bit ''preachy''about civil rights etc with a rather confused story line at times.The photos for the most part were very ordinary. I think the series should have ended with the last book.
Clifford D Simak's little novella The Trouble With Tycho was a fun little read about a malignant alien presence on the moon Mystery,action,fine descriptions of the lunar landscape,and even a little thoughtful philosophy in the trademark Simak mode.
I am now reading,at about 10 pages at a time,P K Dick's Ubik. I just cant warm to his work at all. I get irritated by his overelaborate writing,which I think I am meant to be in awe of.His humour doesnt really amuse me much either. Once someone is a darling of the literary critics,he can do no wrong. They will make excuses for sloppy writing et because he had a hard time writing enough to feed his family. I think every writer of his time had that problem.,and I dont see them being excused.
I am just a literary philistine,it seems,and cant see the glory of this sort of writer (I have similar problems with Kurt Vonnegut)
My public library system has an unbelievable 35 of his books in stock,when you wont find a single Sturgeon,Fredric Brown,C L Moore,and all those other enjoyable old proper SF authors.
At one point in the SF Masterworks list on this site 10 of the 40 books published were by him. Cant be right! No one else,even the darling of the critics Cordwainer Smith has even a quarter of that number..Glad to see that the Easton Press Classics of SF list here pointedly only has one of his books on their list. Much more realistic IMO.
Sorry for the rant lol. Still got 100pagesof it left - out of a totalof 190! .
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TonkaToys
Posted 2020-03-09 4:01 AM (#21906 - in reply to #21814)
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Finished The Last Wish, the episodic nature of which makes a lot more sense than The Witcher TV series. Haven't tried the video games, but I now have a copy so will no doubt load it up and have a go soon.

Interesting how certain books get chosen for adaptation, and how traditional reasons for books to do well aren't necessarily the only way anymore in the increasingly multimedia world.
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Mervi2012
Posted 2020-07-28 2:02 PM (#22277 - in reply to #21614)
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Hello! I hope everyone is keeping safe and healthy!

Too bad you didn't enjoy the rest of the Temeraire books, dustydigger. I've read the whole series and mostly enjoyed them. They're pretty different from the first book, though.

I finished Jack Vance's Planet of Adventure science fantasy series. If you've read the first two, "The Dirdir" and the "Pnume" are pretty similar to them. They're quite masculine adventure books with terrible female characters. Most of the societies are interesting, though.

P. Dj?l? Clark's novella "The Haunting of Tram Car 015" is a fun alternate history story. It's set in Egypt and has djinns.

More recently, I listened the audiobooks of T. Kingfisher's "Clockwork Boys" and "the Wonder Engine" which is really one big book split in two. They're comedic fantasy, making fun of fantasy book cliches and especially roleplaying game cliches. I've roleplayed for many years so I really liked them. The group has a forger, a fallen paladin, an assassin, and a 19-year old monk. Very funny and there were only two things I didn't care for in the duology. Fortunately, they didn't ruin the books for me.

Also, I finished book five in the Expanse series, "Nemesis Games". It's different than the previous books because for once we have the POVs of all four Rocinante crew members. On the other hand, it's very dark so it'll be while before I'll continue the series.

I'm currently listening Jacquline Carey's Starless which is very interesting.
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TonkaToys
Posted 2020-08-04 6:14 AM (#22322 - in reply to #21614)
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Finished Scalzi's Redshirts - my wife told me to stop giggling whilst I was reading it!
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Mervi2012
Posted 2020-08-11 11:53 AM (#22351 - in reply to #22322)
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TonkaToys - 2020-08-04 6:14 AM

Finished Scalzi's Redshirts - my wife told me to stop giggling whilst I was reading it!


I really enjoyed it, too!
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dustydigger
Posted 2020-08-12 3:54 PM (#22353 - in reply to #22351)
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Scalzi can be an enjoyable read. I could never resist a smile at these fantastic superfit young warriors in the Old Man's War sequence.Strong,handsome etc....and a bright shade of green!
Thanks for bringing him up,I may do a reread of his Lock-In series next month.They were fun.
The only book of his that left me feeling let down was The Collapsing Empire.I felt as if I had strayed into one of David Weber's conspiracy series.I wasnt keen on the characters,so.I didnt bother reading the other two books in the series
......
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