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Thread: The Book Discussion Thread

  1. #6676
    Moderator TGM's Avatar
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    Cross-posting here. So it's here now! Book Four of The Ninja Kat series, VELCRO: POLLUTED WAR, is now available! Check it out! http://cwiddop.blogspot.com/2017/11/...available.html


  2. #6677
    What is best in life? D_Davis's Avatar
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    Got my book shelves back up after putting in a new floor, painting and putting up new trim. My books have been packed away for nearly 6 months because of complications with the project. It was a ton of fun opening up all the boxes, and putting everything back on the shelves. I missed my old paper friends. Also boxed up three boxes of books to sell.


  3. #6678
    The Pan megladon8's Avatar
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    That’s a beautiful set up, D. Sometimes the act of touching and looking at all of the books as you (re)organize can be so satisfying.

    I really need to get reading again. I’ve been without the bug for nearly 2 years now. Started a few things that didn’t catch my interest and dropped them, but didn’t pick anything else up.
    I'm not being dramatic, I just feel like I'm going to throw up my heart and my head is going to fly away like a bird.

  4. #6679
    What is best in life? D_Davis's Avatar
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    I haven't been reading much since Trump was elected. Can't seem to focus on anything except for the complete destruction of my country.

  5. #6680
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    Not sure where to put this - I read the book The Disaster Artist in one day. It's compulsively readable. I felt a little bad about what Sestero was doing - revealing intimate details of his close friend who's obsessed with privacy to the point of paranoia - but when I was capable of leaving that aside, the portrait of the character is fascinating.

  6. #6681
    Sue Grafton died, and she was only one book away from finishing her alphabet series, having published Y is for Yesterday earlier this year. I haven't read any of the books, but I am oddly disappointed.

  7. #6682
    What is best in life? D_Davis's Avatar
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    Yes!


  8. #6683
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    Telegraph Avenue

    I read a few reviews and reactions after this, and it seems like I chose the wrong Chabon to be my first, reportedly one of his weakest (maybe the weakest?). It’s certainly charming and full of gorgeous proses, each character so distinctly well-drawn, and his ambitious scope makes the place and its people feel so lived in. But they are buried under all those momentum-sapping run-on descriptions, metaphors, anecdotes, and references. They are always compulsively readable and colorful (also nice that the film Black Panther came out shortly after I started this, so the key references all resonate), but they too often cross over from being some engrossing world-building details into a feeling of someone fulfilling word counts, interrupting the book’s flow too much.

    Also, the most prominent storylines, which are the estranged father-son relationship(s) and the fate of record store, happen to be the least interesting to me. I want to spend more time on the two women’s midwifery practice and the complex, rather achingly portrayed relationship between the two teenaged sons instead. Apart from a few stings from those two stories, the ending kind of petered out too. 2.5/5
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  9. #6684
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    For all his gifts as a writer on display in The Bone Clocks (rich character-building; decade-spanning narrative with serious momentum; intricate, lovely writing), David Mitchell turns out to be just barely adequate, borderline on uninspired at times, when it comes to fantasy. The long penultimate chapter, which finally goes into full-blown fantasy, feels a bit deflating after the tantalizing and evocative glimpses of its hidden premise for the majority of the book. He strains a bit to convey the rules, wonders, and dangers when it's time to go into that world fully, and it doesn't quite come alive easily for him. Thankfully by that point we are immersed in quite a number of characters in their rich, humane tales (a weird, tediously fact-dumping section about Iraq War asides), both alive and dead, and even on opposite sides of good and evil, that we are still invested in the outcome.

    And Mitchell grounds that fantasy well and brings it home splendidly with the graceful final chapter, where he projects the future of our inevitably post-apocalyptic world in all its savageness and persisting humanity. Amidst that environment, he shows both the ripple effects of the preceding chapter, and how, for all its out-of-this-world elements, even that fantasy interlude can turn out to be more and more of a (life-changing) footnote in the face of world constantly changing and time marching on. 4/5
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  10. #6685
    Scott of the Antarctic Milky Joe's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Peng (view post)
    Telegraph Avenue

    I read a few reviews and reactions after this, and it seems like I chose the wrong Chabon to be my first, reportedly one of his weakest (maybe the weakest?).
    I would recommend Wonder Boys. That's one book I could read every year and never get tired of it, and I'm not even a huge fan of Chabon. Cavalier and Clay is probably good too but I haven't read that one.
    ‎The severed arm perfectly acquitted itself, because of the simplicity of its wishes and its total lack of doubt.

  11. #6686
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    Well, I didn't read Wonder Boys, even if at this point I'm ready for some medium-sized-or-less Chabon. I did read his most famous book though, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and liked it a bit less than I expected, even if I still liked it a lot. Time jumps and subplot/character dead-ends mute the impacts of some intriguing transition phases in a decade-spanning story too much, and of the haunting power that some relationships or tangents should inspire more. It's also clear now, in my second Chabon, that I will always struggle with the way he reaches a new character or location and then backs a long way up to provide intimate background details for them. This is done way better here than in Telegraph Avenue though because it's often interwoven with the intersection of history and comic book milieu, so it mostly adds to the momentum. Best of all, the titular pair are such vivid characters to be invested in, exceeding anyone in his last book I read. The tenor of World War II and comic books' places in it are already an interesting and layered setting to spend time in, but it's the evolving characters of Kavalier and Clay, along with their relationships, that make it consistently gripping and occasionally moving. 4/5
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  12. #6687
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    A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (which a collection of three Dunk and Egg novellas) is ASOIAF in minor key, and the three tales are so fun and infectious that I wish GRRM is able to spin out a few more of these in between his major saga books' long droughts.
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  13. #6688
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    First quarantine reading done: Inherent Vice, my first Pynchon. I only watched, never read, The Big Sleep, but reading this is not far from that one's lanky Hawksian enjoyability in moment-to-moment basis rather than in big picture plot. No definitive thread to hold on to, which usually would be a personal big trouble for me as a particular type of reader. But Pynchon's masterful prose and situational creativity have too much immense surface pleasure for the book not to be a joy to read, and it's all nicely grounded by the unsentimental melancholy of an era's impending end. 4/5
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  14. #6689
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    Second phase of quarantine reading:

    The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Agatha Christie) (reread) - One characteristic of Christie's mysteries is that, although her works don't lack for characterization and description, the writing is concerned with plot above all else most of the time. So if I am not memorably hooked into remembering how they resolve (Roger Ackroyd, Death on the Nile, And Then There Were None, etc.), which is often independent of how good or bad I personally find the books are overall, I will only remember the plot but not the ending, and it feels like reading the mysteries anew again. Which sounds like a knock, but it's one of her appeals for me. Same with this book, in which Poirot's resolution catches me off guard, again. Being her first book, she has yet to refine the dynamic between Poirot and Hastings, which comes off as writerly trick of audience misdirection/keep-away game rather a genuine relationship, and so obvious to the point of annoying often. It's amazing though how her enduring format comes cozily, fully formed right out of the gate. 3.5/5

    The Bone Collector (Jeffery Deaver) - The plotting and villain are wayyyy too ludicrous, especially against realistic procedural details. To give Deaver credit though, this still proves to be a fast, involving page-turner even through so many well-researched nitty-gritty crime scene process details, which are very well integrated throughout. Haven't seen the film yet, but based on the book Angelina Jolie was such a spot-on casting. 3/5

    The Sun Also Rises (Ernest Hemingway) - Only past experience with Hemingway is reading "Hills Like White Elephants" back in my one-year exchange student's US high school English class, in which I have a fond if vain memory of being the only student to answer the teacher's question of what it's actually about. I remember the fascinating rhythm of his sparse style ("Iceberg Theory" and all that) while reading that short story, but here at novel-length I'm more mixed about. Personally, I find it doesn't go well at all with his more travelogue passages, making it a struggle in interest at times, and the many new places that have to be introduced to us doesn't make the story flow smoothly. The beginning Paris section and the last chapter, and to a lesser extent any sustained group scene, is my kind of richly evocative that I remember from years ago though. 3/5
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  15. #6690
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    Bleeding Edge (Thomas Pynchon) - A testament to Pynchon's writing that this, my second of him, is still fairly compulsively readable, despite me finding it a clear step-down from Inherent Vice. Both have labyrinthine plots, tons of humorously digressive tangents, and several seriously oddball characters. But I find IV's ones so distinctive and memorable that I can more or less follow in the moments with its swirl of characters/atmosphere as unifying throughline, while I struggle often throughout BE when it loops back to some plotlines or characters that clearly have been introduced or stressed before, but I am not able to retain how or why they're figuring into the current pages right now. I just think the paranoia here is too standardly conceived for Pynchon's brand of digressive writing, with not as many truly transporting tangents (and most of those are in the early pages, like the post-divorce cruise) and memorable characters (Windust) as IV.

    That said, the protagonist's family and their importance on her provides a potent alternative interest throughline, and Pynchon's description of the Deep Web and their intersection with real humans and cultures at the time (especially the post-disaster avatars) plucks some real transcendental chords, and almost resonates as much as IV's enveloping impending-end-of-era signifiers. 3/5
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  16. #6691
    The Pan megladon8's Avatar
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    Just finished The Hypnotist by Lars Keplar.

    Poorly written, but held my attention for the 500 page length.

    Contains a huge writing pet peeve of mine - a million chapters. Feels like a product of TV obsessed culture, unable to keep their attention on something for more than a few minutes at a time. The book is 503 pages and has 100+ chapters. It would have significantly more than that if it weren't for a nearly 100 page section without breaks 2/3 through.

    All in all just such an oddly paced book.

    So many red herrings and loose plot threads.

    And once I got to the violent street gang of 6 year olds who name themselves after Pokemon, I think my brain fully checked out.

  17. #6692
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    A Farewell to Arms (Ernest Hemingway) - After struggling a bit through The Sun Also Rises, I find Hemingway's writing style much more effective within this higher-stake context of war time. What felt rambling and aimless there feel hauntingly glancing and emotionally evocative here. For example, that devastating blast during the first act comes off even more horrific due to his muted descriptiveness, which, intentional or not, conveys a sense of delayed shell-shocked impact that's both apt and powerful. And this time, instead of feeling shrugged off, the ending really lingers with me. 4/5
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  18. #6693
    The Pan megladon8's Avatar
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    Monstrumführer by Edward M. Erdilac is kind of masterful.

    It acts as a direct sequel to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and is written like historical fiction taking place during WW2, primarily in Auschwitz.

    It tells the story of a young Polish Jew named Jotham who, along with his brother Eli, is captured and sent to Auschwitz to work. Jotham ends up being a sort of "messenger boy" for Mengele, who is aware of the work of Victor Frankenstein and is attempting to incorporate elements of it into his experimentation on Jewish prisoners.

    It is harrowing, sad, and feels deeply personal (as Erdilac often writes about the Jewish experience).

    Totally nails the ending, as well.

    Highly recommended.
    I'm not being dramatic, I just feel like I'm going to throw up my heart and my head is going to fly away like a bird.

  19. #6694
    collecting tapes Skitch's Avatar
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    A good friend of mine wrote a book about her husband. Its unbelievable, and all true. Available on amazon. A homeless child, protected from gangs by street hookers, clings to the bottom of a train...one crazy thing after another.



  20. #6695
    Since 1929 Morris Schæffer's Avatar
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    Hey Duke started reading a new Preston and child, Old Bones. About archeology and the infamous Donner party. Sans prendergast though. Pretty good so far, even if the writing is a little predictable.
    [+] closer to next rating / [-] closer to previous rating

    • Soul (Docter, 2020) ✦✦½ [+]
    • Spartacus (Kubrick, 1960) ✦✦✦✦ -- rewatch
    • The Crown (S4) ✦✦✦ [+]
    • Star Trek: Discovery (S3) ✦✦✦ [+]
    • War of the Worlds (Spielberg, 2005) ✦✦✦ [+] -- rewatch
    • The Crown (S3) ✦✦✦✦
    • Die Hard (McTiernan, 1988) ✦✦✦✦ -- rewatch
    • Carlos (Assayas, 2010/France) ✦✦✦½ [+]
    • Da 5 Bloods (Lee, 2020) ✦✦✦ [+]
    • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (Wolfe, 2020) ✦✦✦½ [-]
    • Hard Boiled (Woo, 1992) ✦✦✦½ [-] -- rewatch
    • Dumbo (Various, 1941) ✦✦✦ [-] -- rewatch
    • The Queen's Gambit (Netflix, 2020) ✦✦✦ [+]
    • Cinema Paradiso (Tornatore, 1988/Italy) ✦✦✦✦ -- rewatch
    • The Beatles: Eight Days a Week (Howard, 2016) ✦✦✦½ [+]


    Last Things Bought

    • Mad Max (Miller) -- UHD 4K / Kino Lorber
    • The Dark Knight Trilogy (Nolan) -- UHD 4K / Warner Bros.
    • The Lord of the Rings Steelbook Edition (Jackson) -- UHD 4K / Warner Bros.
    • Blood Simple (The Coen Brothers) -- Blu-Ray / Studio Canal
    • The Third Man (Reed) -- Blu-Ray / Studio Canal

  21. #6696
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    Last three books read in 2020:

    The White Tiger (Aravind Adiga) - Works better as scathing sociological satire than character-driven story, but the former frequently draws blood that the latter's lack of tightly emotional arc/steps doesn't matter too much in the end. 4/5

    Rage (Stephen King) - I can see why this story had resulted in a scary resonance to the point that King had to let it out of print to disencourage further associations. In turning a realistic scenario into his own brand of twisted therapy session, King has both written an increasingly contrived plot (to the book's detriment) that nonetheless strikes a particular universal nerve about that most vulnerable time in life, emotionally and forcefully. And even if it doesn't fully work, the book's queasy fascination and underlying pathos are hard to dismiss. 3/5

    The Turn of the Screw (Henry James) - Kind of begrudgingly come around to it by the end, in which its ambiguity feels rather complex and masterfully employed, to finally some haunting result. But I share the complaint that this really seems overwritten, especially compared to the beginning framework story, so it must be a deliberate choice on James' part to have the governess' voice be this intricately run-on. The style may suit the troubled point-of-view of psychologically repressed, unreliable narrator, but I feel it undercuts the atmosphere and story flow too much that I get often exasperated in the first half. Still, what I love about the 1961's adaptation The Innocents are fully from this (structure, ambiguity) that I can't help but at least like it a lot on that level. 3.5/5
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  22. #6697
    Quote Quoting Peng (view post)
    The Turn of the Screw (Henry James) - Kind of begrudgingly come around to it by the end, in which its ambiguity feels rather complex and masterfully employed, to finally some haunting result. But I share the complaint that this really seems overwritten, especially compared to the beginning framework story, so it must be a deliberate choice on James' part to have the governess' voice be this intricately run-on. The style may suit the troubled point-of-view of psychologically repressed, unreliable narrator, but I feel it undercuts the atmosphere and story flow too much that I get often exasperated in the first half. Still, what I love about the 1961's adaptation The Innocents are fully from this (structure, ambiguity) that I can't help but at least like it a lot on that level. 3.5/5
    I'm guessing this is your first encounter with James? Long, intricate sentences are kind of his thing, for better or worse, and he pushes it to the breaking point in the novels and stories after "The Turn of the Screw": I think What Maisie Knew and The Wings of the Dove achieve something close to a perfect balance of interior perception and external drama, whereas I find The Golden Bowl (widely regarded to be his masterpiece) a bit monotonous and exasperating. It's like climbing a mountain and then not having a view of anything.
    Just because...
    Touchez pas au grisbi (Jacques Becker, 1954) warm
    Saint Jack (Peter Bogdanovich, 1979) warm
    Whisky Galore! (Alexander Mackendrick, 1949) mild

    The last book I read was...
    The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature by William James


    The (New) World

  23. #6698
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    Quote Quoting baby doll (view post)
    I'm guessing this is your first encounter with James? Long, intricate sentences are kind of his thing, for better or worse, and he pushes it to the breaking point in the novels and stories after "The Turn of the Screw": I think What Maisie Knew and The Wings of the Dove achieve something close to a perfect balance of interior perception and external drama, whereas I find The Golden Bowl (widely regarded to be his masterpiece) a bit monotonous and exasperating. It's like climbing a mountain and then not having a view of anything.
    Yeah my first. After reading some (goodreads) complaints about the writing, I was confused when the framing story (which has the Bly story as a manuscript to be read) was ok enough in term of non-native's reading difficulty. When the manuscript began and governess' pov kicked in though... lol. Speaking of goodreads, I very much enjoyed this review after having finished the book:

    There is a presumption that a book, if written concurrent with a certain time period during which a ruler of notable longevity reigned and originating from an area of the world long known, during that time period in particular, for an effusiveness of style in excess of that which may be, at a minimum, absolutely required to convey a particular message or idea, may, on occasion, if not predominantly and generally, tend toward a style that, when compared and contrasted with styles of later writers in other, more distant geographies, or even stylists who espouse minimalism within the bounds of the same geographic region, might be best described, at least insofar as it can be generally encapsulated with a description of any sufficient brevity, as, to varying degrees, ponderous, overwrought, and, in the main, at least with respect to the general population, and in particular those of the Twitter generation, overly wordy.
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

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