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Rick Kitchen

What Are We Currently Reading?

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I love nonfiction and biographies.  I am getting on my snark right now.  I am reading (at home) The Andy Cohen Diaries.  It is very good and I love him chiming in on this or that housewife.  I love that he says it is usually the husbands that call crying when the housewife is let go because the husband quit his job......Love the everyday talk.  In his book he talks about reading the Johnny Carson bio by Bushkin.

 

I am reading Johnny Carson by Bushkin at work.

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I

I am reading Johnny Carson by Bushkin at work.

 

How is it?  According to the Carson bio on PBS, Carson and Bushkin were close for a long time, then had a falling out because Carson thought Bushkin was mismanaging Carson's money. 

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I just finished Wool by Hugh Howey. Wow. Just wow. Well OK, I was bored and impatient with the first 100 pages, but fortunately after that it gets awesome! I'm now eagerly awaiting Shift and Dust, the next 2 books in The Silo Series, from the library. The story, a parable about modern society, information control and IT, is post-apocalypic sci-fi--very suspenseful, with great twists and a smart heroine. It made me appreciate the Internet. It made me want to rebel.

 

Wool was recommended to me as an example of the self-publishing revolution, by the way, because it was serialized as e-books and reached #1 on Amazon, etc. just from word of mouth and online reviews. (It was eventually printed.) I'd link to articles about its remarkable process, but they tend to (over)explain the plot--it's best to go in knowing less.

 

Otherwise, I've spent this Fall reading or re-reading the Tortall universe books by Tamora Pierce. This means The Song of the Lioness quartet, The Immortals quartet, the Protector of the Small quartet and the Tricksters series--yeah, my binge-watching has spread over into binge-reading. (I stopped before the Beka Cooper series, because the reviews are kinda wrathful.)

 

Anyway, I loved the Alanna books (Song of the Lioness) when I was a kid and I'd read some of the others sporadically, so I decided to see how they held up and if they were as feminist as I remembered. They're actually more feminist (example:

instead of marrying the prince, Alanna breaks up with him and has rebound sex with another guy--fairytale subverted!

), and they hold up very well. Some books are better than others, as you'd expect. The early series--I really wish Pierce'd had a better editor, so that major events didn't get lost in sentences like "And then he died," for example. And even for young adult novels, the language was noticeably unchallenging at times. But, there were no bad books among the 14, amazingly, and I was impressed by how they never felt repetitive. Each series built on the previous, and tweaked the heroine model so they had very different personalities, goals, etc. It was just a wonderful read, really.

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As the holiday season approaches, I will look forward to rereading Christopher Moore's The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror.

 

I love Christopher Moore.

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How is it?  According to the Carson bio on PBS, Carson and Bushkin were close for a long time, then had a falling out because Carson thought Bushkin was mismanaging Carson's money. 

Really good!  Very gossipy and Bushkin paints himself a best friend of Carsons.  Now am off and running to research the falling out.

 

Weyrbuny - I read Wool too and loved it.  The writing was so vivid I remember the book as a movie.

Edited by jumper sage
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As the holiday season approaches, I will look forward to rereading Christopher Moore's The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror.

 

Right now I'm reading Christopher Moore's The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove (I picked it up at a library sale for $1, I'd never heard of this book, but I liked other Christopher Moore books).   I just got a sample of The Stupidest Angel on my Kindle, and I see that it's set in the same town as Lust Lizard,  I'm going to try to get it from my local library. 

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So mad that Shift and Dust, the 2nd and 3rd books to Wool, the Silo series is only out in ebook.  I never read ebooks.  I love books too much!

 

They've been out in print for about a year now. He still has a lot of stuff only in ebook, but the Silo series is all in print.

Edited by ApathyMonger

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I love Christopher Moore.

I often pick out books to look over based on cover art and title and I think the first one that caught my eye was Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

 

Art and title may not be the best approach to picking out books, but I've come across some that I really enjoy that way.  While I would not willingly read books about vampires, Moore's titles of Bite Me and You Suck were no brainers once I read Lamb & The Stupidest Angel.

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Just read the new Murakami book, The Strange Library. It's a well-designed package, and a decent story, but I'm not a fan of writers releasing short stories on their own, at the same price as novels. Neil Gaiman's done it repeatedly recently too, with The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains, The Sleeper and the Spindle, and Hansel & Gretel.

 

Patrick Rothfuss's novella The Slow Regard of Silent Things is longer than all of those, but I still didn't want to pay more for it than I did for his full-length novels. I'll either hope my library gets it in or wait for the paperback version next year.

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Next up for me -- http://www.amazon.com/The-Land-Breakers-John-Ehle/dp/0977228371 -- I'm a big fan of fiction and non-fiction about pioneering, early settlers, despair and privation.  Good way to pick up survival tips for the upcoming zombie apocalypse. 

 

ETA: I need to figure out how to insert a link -- the book is "The Land Breakers" by John Ehle.

Edited by AuntiePam

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Finishing up The Magician's Land, the last of The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman.  Didn't realize I had read one of his other novels - Codex - a while back and it was pretty bad.  I can see some similarities in the writing style of both.

 

Overall I've enjoyed these.  I liked his take on the idea of magic being, well, really difficult and physically taxing, involving a lot of study and discipline to manage.  I think the author does best when working within the school atmosphere and working with small  character relationships.  Fillory is not particularly interesting to me (and I'm a GOT & LOTR fan); Grossman doesn't take much time to expand the magical world, to make me care what happens.  Unfortunately most of the characters fall a little short; though I have the unpopular opinion (as far as I can tell) of liking the protagonist Quentin.  He's one of the few who has concern for other people (except his parents, but that is a recurring theme throughout the books, no one really spares a thought for their families).  I can understand his choices and loyalties.

 

The second novel - The Magician King - was by far the weakest of them all.  I pretty much loathe Julia, who is one of the most self-pitying, self-centered characters in a series full of them, and there are WAY too many chapters devoted to her.  Just ugh.  Lev Grossman doesn't seem to be able to write what he probably considers "female characters with agency" without making them assholes.  I don't want to spoil so I'll leave it at that.  From what I've read on Goodreads and some other sites, I have an UO about her so take that for what it's worth!

 

Anyway, though that's negative, the third novel is a huge improvement over the second.  I do recommend them overall for lovers of the genre.  You just have to wade through personalities who are young, self-centered and over-privileged for most of the time; I can deal with unlikable people, and they do work well together.  If there had been no change I wouldn't enjoy it, but there is some, and as I said I do like Grossman's take on working with magic.

Edited by raven

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Currently re-reading The Hobbit.  

Also reading The Pantropheon, or A History of Food and its Preparation in Ancient Times. This was written in the 1850's by Alexis Soyer, a famous chef of the time. An interesting read, although I'm not sure how accurate it is.

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I'm reading the Norman Denny translation of Les Miserables - one of the great works I wasn't assigned in school, which means I'm free to enjoy it on my own. :)

 

I very much like what Denny's done with the prose, but the dialogue is a bit meh (to my ear). Anyone have a translation they like better?

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Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle Book Two.

 

Pray for me.

 

I just finished Stephen King's Revival and I was disappointed by it.

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I'm reading the Norman Denny translation of Les Miserables - one of the great works I wasn't assigned in school, which means I'm free to enjoy it on my own. :)

 

I very much like what Denny's done with the prose, but the dialogue is a bit meh (to my ear). Anyone have a translation they like better?

 

I read the Penguin edition, I don't know who translated it, but I had to skip over the first 150 pages till Jean Valjean actually showed up.

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I read the Penguin edition, I don't know who translated it, but I had to skip over the first 150 pages till Jean Valjean actually showed up.

 

Yes, it's the Penguin edition. I really enjoyed the first sections concerning the Bishop of Digne! I'm only through Volume 1 (Fantine).

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Patrick Rothfuss's novella The Slow Regard of Silent Things is longer than all of those, but I still didn't want to pay more for it than I did for his full-length novels. I'll either hope my library gets it in or wait for the paperback version next year.

Yeah, I really enjoyed it, but it was priced too high. You'd be alright waiting for the library.

 

Hadn't heard about the new Murakami story, but I guess I'll probably wait on that one this time.

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I loved Hugh Howey's Silo series a lot more than I ever expected to.  As much of an apocalypse/dystopia junkie as I am, something about the premise sounded offputting enough that I wasn't sure if it would really be in my wheelhouse but I was pleasantly surprised.  It's incredibly claustrophobic.  The ending was maybe a little underwhelming after so much buildup but it was good enough for what it was.

 

I'm currently reading Anne Rice's The Prince Lestat and it's about what I expected it to be.  It's the usual mix of audaciousness and meandering pontification on the Meaning of it All that Rice usually puts out.  I know I would have found it profound if I was 16, which is when when I read the first three books in the Vampire Chronicles.  Unfortunately, I haven't been 16 for quite awhile.

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"The Other Tudors" by Philippa Jones.  About the mistresses and illegitimate children of Henry VIII.  Fascinating stories, one son became a pirate, and in addition one of the most famous generals of the era, until he became involved in French and Spanish plots to conquer Ireland, and wound up dying in battle in Morocco. 

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When Amazon had its 30% off one book sale, I splurged and picked up the new one by Sarah Waters -- The Paying Guests.  I rarely buy new hardbacks but I love Sarah Waters.  This one was fine for about 200 pages, then it turned into a romantic wallow.  I dumped it, checked out the reviews, decided to leave it unread. 

 

Next up is Canada by Richard Ford.

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I'm reading a book called Snow White Red-Handed and its a mystery in the retailing of the Snow White fairy tale. The plot is a actress named Ofelia pretends to be a ladies maid for rich people and the husband of the lady she's working for dids from poison in his apple and her friend Prue is accused so she tries to clear her name. There's also a professor investigating claims that the cottage that the Grimm brothers based their story on is in the woods where he finds seven little dwarfs beds etc..... it's a really good book so far.

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I thought The Paying Guests was okay but not the end-all-be-all that is putting it on so many Best of 2014 lists.  The historical components made for a fun education but I found the characters unsympathetic and unlikable.

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I'm reading Alan Cummings book that deals with his childhood, Not My Father's Son. A bit difficult as I don't like reading about abuse but I thought it was very well written and a quick read.

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The Christopher Moore love in this thread makes me happy. His books are such a perfect blend or smart-ass and heart. I once wrote him an email about something he portrayed, I thought, particularly well in a book and he wrote me the loveliest reply. I am behind on his books, surprisingly. 

 

Am reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel and enjoying it. Given how I've also liked California by Edan Lepucki and loved The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey, I better stop saying post-apocalyptic novels don't appeal to me.      

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Next up is Canada by Richard Ford.

I just returned that to the library unread. I've tried it 2x now as I normally like Ford but I just could not get engaged in the story.

Rereading Rabbit Factory by Marshall Karp now.

Went to used bookstore today and found Thieves World Turning Points - the 4th in the Thieves World Series. Did not even know it existed so very excited by this find!

And how awesome is it that Christopher Moore replied to you Darian! So cool and nice to hear.

Edited by DeLurker

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I'm reading The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling). I'm still at the beginning, but so far, so good. I'm so glad this series has given me back my JK Rowling love.

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I thought The Paying Guests was okay but not the end-all-be-all that is putting it on so many Best of 2014 lists.  The historical components made for a fun education but I found the characters unsympathetic and unlikable.

That's what I liked too -- the look at that segment of society in that time and place.  Lilian's family, Frances' mother's friends, how they spent their time -- it was mundane but interesting.

 

Frances and Lilian's relationship seemed to be based on Frances' sexual attraction to Lilian and Lilian's dissatisfaction with her husband.  Not a bad basis for an affair, but not something to build a life around.

 

Amazon has another 25% off deal going, so I used the discount to get Station Eleven, a post-apocalypse novel that's getting good reviews.

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Amazon has another 25% off deal going, so I used the discount to get Station Eleven, a post-apocalypse novel that's getting good reviews.

Including one from me-- thumbs up!

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Well, I had a 20% off coupon from Barnes & Noble & no idea what to get with it, so Station Eleven is now on it's way to me. 

 

This brings me to a question. Every year around this time Barnes & Noble sends me tons of 20% coupons, I always have trouble finding books to buy because it seems like there aren't as many new book releases this time of year. Does anyone know if this is true? I always wonder if it's just books I like that aren't coming out this time of year, or if all book releases are slower now.

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I just finished Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William J. Mann. Very good and interesting book about the key players in the still unsolved murder of William Desmond Taylor.

I'll to look for that one.  I've read A Cast of Killers by Sidney D. Kirkpatrick, and would be interested to see if they come to similar conclusions.

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Went to used bookstore today and found Thieves World Turning Points - the 4th in the Thieves World Series. Did not even know it existed so very excited by this find!

 

You had me confused for a moment, because I was thinking that the fourth book in the Thieves' World series of anthologies was Storm Season (the first one I read - I have a habit of not always picking up the first book in a series).  Then I discovered there was another set of anthologies published later under Lynn Abbey's auspices, and realized you must be talking about it rather than the original series.

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Oh dang!  You're right!  I read the Thieves World books so long ago that it did not even jump out at me that there were others.  Oh well - at least this one I haven't read before.

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Station Eleven is currently in the unputdownable category for me. I waited and waited to start it, feeling sure it would be a let down, and I'm actually enjoying it so much more than I expected to.

 

Next up: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. 

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I randomly picked out a book at the library back in November, read a few pages, forgot about it, renewed it and am now fianally almost done. It's nothing ground breaking to be sure and was released in 2002. Love Stories of World War 2 by none other than Larry King. It's really quite gripping and personal and filled with photo copies of letters and momentos from the people involved with the book. I have about 50 pages left and I wish it would go on forever.

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Just finished Tower Lord, the second in Anthony Ryan's Raven's Shadow series. A little different from the first book. in that it splits the narrative between four characters (not including Verniers the scholar, who introduces each part of the book), instead of telling the story through Vaelin's eyes.

 

The pace is a lot more frenetic, with little time for anyone to reflect on anything. It's one of those fantasy novels that is about constant movement, near constant action. And while the schemes of many come to light, there's not a huge amount of ambiguity in character virtues. The enemies are clear cut from the start, and are almost too monstrous to be taken seriously (though still nowhere near as comically evil as George RR Martin's later inclusions to ASOIAF). But it's a good continuation of the story, and sets things up perfectly for what I assume will be the final part of a trilogy.

 

Also... that ending? Nicely done.

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Add me to the "currently reading Station Eleven group (and staying up waaaaaaay past my bedtime as a result).

A post-apocalyptic book that I love love loved years ago was called Into the Forest by Jean Hegland. Check it out.

 

I was also underwhelmed by The Paying Guests, but unlike many other books that I blow through I do remember a lot of the details of that one. Many people have recommended The Elegance of the Hedgehog, but I abandoned it pretty quickly.

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Well, now I'm really excited about Station Eleven

 

I'm almost finished with Canada by Richard Ford, so I ventured over to Amazon to read some reviews.  It's a love it or hate it book.  Even though there's a bank robbery and a murder (or maybe two), events which are usually tense and thrilling, the book is mostly a character's inner thoughts, and descriptions of very mundane activities.  Still, it's enthralling, but maybe only if you like getting into people's heads.  It also helps to have an appreciation for physical space -- open space, like Montana and Saskatchewan, places that seem boring to many of us.  I love those places.  I'd live in Nebraska if I could.  Doesn't get much more open than that. 

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Station Eleven had it faults, but it is easily in my top ten of the year. 

 

I recently finished the upcoming Half the World by Joe Abercrombie.  It felt a bit too much of a middle book but is a quick entertaining read.  I suspect fans will adore it.  Up next is Blood Will Follow by Snorri Kristijansson.  I was not too impressed with the first one, but not disappointed so much I would not read a free copy of book two.  Besides plenty of authors have surprised me with their second effort.

 

ETA:  I liked Anthony Ryan's second book enough but found of the major releases last year (in his case a re-release of self published work by a major imprint) it was the weakest followup.  I've found I enjoyed Django Wexler's second book in his series much more.  And I have grown to appreciate Brian McClellan's ancillary work tremendously; something Ryan seems to either not have time to do or simply no interest.  Still all three are welcome entries to the fantasy (no elves-dwarves-dragons oh my) field.  All three look to drop another round this coming year by the half way point or so.

Edited by heebiejeebie

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ETA:  I liked Anthony Ryan's second book enough but found of the major releases last year (in his case a re-release of self published work by a major imprint) it was the weakest followup.  I've found I enjoyed Django Wexler's second book in his series much more.  And I have grown to appreciate Brian McClellan's ancillary work tremendously; something Ryan seems to either not have time to do or simply no interest.  Still all three are welcome entries to the fantasy (no elves-dwarves-dragons oh my) field.  All three look to drop another round this coming year by the half way point or so.

 

The thing with Tower Lord was, I really wanted to rush through it and find out where the story was going. It's like that for me, with second books in a series. I had that with The Fell Sword (that was much weaker than The Red Knight) earlier in the year. It sometimes seems like I either treat them too much like bridging books, or they're written too much like bridging books.

 

I'm just about to start on The Thousand Names, by Django Wexler so it's nice to hear it's going to be good. I got a few chapters into Promise of Blood, by Brian McClellan, but it really didn't grab me. Just felt uninspired, and similar to Wolfhound Century, another book that disappointed me. It's not easy for me to find fantasy series, despite my love of the genre, because I don't like magic. Usually, if I pick up a book and read the back, and it makes any mention of magic, wizards, sorcery etc, I'll immediately put it back down and look for something else. Dragons have the same effect on me.

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Just found this thread and wow, so many good suggestions.

I just finished Wool by Hugh Howey. Wow. Just wow. Well OK, I was bored and impatient with the first 100 pages, but fortunately after that it gets awesome! I'm now eagerly awaiting Shift and Dust, the next 2 books in The Silo Series, from the library. The story, a parable about modern society, information control and IT, is post-apocalypic sci-fi--very suspenseful, with great twists and a smart heroine....

Sounds good weyrbunny, jumper sage, and Apathy Monger.

I just finished Book 2 of The Last Policeman series by Ben H. Winters. It's a mid-apocalypse trilogy with a crime detective theme. The apocalypse is the series-long arc, and then each book has a mystery for the protagonist to solve. The second book had a few editing errors, but nothing terrible. The slightest mistakes always jump out at me so much that I would gladly edit for free--but, hey, I'd be happy to get paid too. The first book in the series won an Edgar Award.

I'm in the middle of annual read of Middlemarch.

Back in the 1970s and 80s (during the 30 years I lived without television) I used to read all 5 of Jane Austen's books every year or so, and then finally discovered George Elliot and read all of hers.

I love that in Silas Marner, written before people wore eyeglasses, at the beginning of the novel the titular character is both nearsighted (cannot see far) and miserly, but then, at the end of the book, in his old age, he is farsighted (cannot see near) and is generous. About 15 years after I read it my formerly nearsighted father was able to drive without glasses but needed reading glasses--so the book's main metaphor was based on reality.

I also read Tolstoy at that time.

So, bosawks, you might like Austen or Tolstoy or other Elliot when you're between your Middlemarch fixes. ;)

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Just finished The Thousand Names, by Django Wexler. Pretty good, I have to say. I didn't enjoy it as much as Blood Song, but it's an assured and relatively original fantasy novel. I've liked the idea of flintlock fantasy, without actually liking any of the execution of other such stories, but this one was done very well. I wasn't keen on the way magic suddenly became a big part of the story, though. I'm not sure if that bodes well for the second book. It was a bit too thought out and reasoned, which is not how I like my fantasy magic. Reading spells and doing incantations does not float my boat, I'm afraid.

 

Interesting and well drawn characters though, and a world that was similar enough to our own that the world-building could be left to a minimum. One other little drawback? Whenever I come across the 'women passing themselves off as men' trope, I immediately go to Bob from Blackadder, and just cannot take it seriously. Fortunately, I got past it.

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Some great reads in here. Some I've thought about picking up but just could never be motivated to start.

 

The last book I read was The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann, it's narrative nonfiction. It was a fast excellent tale once I got into it (the author jumps around in timeframe quite a bit) about famous British explorer Percy Fawcett who disappeared on his latest mission to find what he dubbed "The Lost City of Z" (El Dorado) in 1925. He believed this ancient kingdom of great sophistication, architecture and culture in the Amazon would rival ancient Egypt. It was a great tale about obsession (Percy's obsession and those he marched to their deaths, hundreds that died obsessed with finding his missing party to only perish in the Amazon as well, the authors obsession with uncovering what actually happened to him on that last mission). I was scared the ending would leave me very unsatisfied but I thought it was a very fitting conclusion. I came away with a greater appreciation of the Amazon and the tribes who inhabit it. 

 

I'm currently reading Contact by Carl Sagan. I was talking to a friend about the sciences etc. and he asked if I had read anything by Carl Sagan. I had read a few things from him but mostly just quotes and some writing I think from Cosmos. He asked if I had read Contact and gave me the paperback. I hadn't read it but I knew there had been a movie with Jodie Foster that I wasn't entirely sure I had seen. Now that I have started reading this book I am sure I have never seen the movie, I think every time I saw it was on I assumed I had seen it. It's one of those movies I should have watched, it's right up my alley. I probably confused it with other space exploration, search for intelligent life form type movies and so I never watched it. I'm very happy about that because I am enjoying the book a lot, the protagonist (Jodie Fosters character I presume) is someone I would have loved to know as a kid and adult lol. I'm really into it and will watch the movie afterwards.

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