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  1. - Top - End - #91
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    Default Re: The Books We're Reading: New Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnoman View Post
    Caves gets worse every time I read it, as not only does Asimov's persistent problem with numbers annoy me
    What's his persistent problem with numbers that annoys you so?

  2. - Top - End - #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    What's his persistent problem with numbers that annoys you so?
    Asimov's population figures are almost always far too low for the situation he describes.

    I can ignore the idea that Earth will be facing imminent starvation at 8 billion people, as that was a serious fear of the time. But the vast human warrens Asimov describes in Caves just don't add up to the population density that he's describing. His version of New York is described as extending from the surface (very high ranking officials have natural skylights for their "Solariums") down a full mile underground, and spread so far that it has encompassed most of the states surrounding real New York. In this massive human warren, so densely packed that their equivalent of the upper middle class lives in a apartment tiny by the standards of Tokyo or RW New York and nobody has a private bathroom, there live ...twenty million people. This is an area dozens -if not hundreds- of times the size of the real New York, but has a little over twice the population. To match the descriptions, you would have to add at least one zero, maybe two, to the given population.

    Trantor, the capital of the Galactic Empire in the Foundation series, has the same problem. An entire planet converted into a city that holds (but can not support, and is entirely dependent on food imports) only forty billion.

  3. - Top - End - #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gnoman View Post
    Trantor, the capital of the Galactic Empire in the Foundation series, has the same problem. An entire planet converted into a city that holds (but can not support, and is entirely dependent on food imports) only forty billion.
    Let's see...if Trantor is about the same size as Earth then its total surface area is around 500 million square kilometres, so a population of 40 billion would work out as a density of 80 people per square kilometre. The population density of the city I live near (Manchester, UK) is around 4,500 per square kilometre, while the most densely populated city in the world (Manila, Phillipines) is nearly ten times that...yeah, doesn't make a whole lot of sense when you think about it. Mind you, I always remember the spoof of Trantor in "Bill the Galactic Hero", where he pointed out that it isn't just food you'd have to import--with no flowering plants on the surface you'd need to import oxygen as well!

  4. - Top - End - #94
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    I was feeling historical again, so I dived into A World Undone: The Story of the Great War by G.J. Meyer. So far I'm up to early September 1914, and it's pretty good. The sections I've been through so far are basically a poor man's The Guns of August, but it seems pretty unlikely that anybody's going to surpass Tuchman's treatment of the subject in anything even resembling a 'popular' history. My only substantial disappointment is that it has, so far, almost entirely neglected the portions of the war involving Austria-Hungary, aside from the occasional mention of how the utter ineptitude of Conrad von Hutzendorf impacted German strategy. Perhaps it will backtrack, or at least start covering the Balkans in more detail.

    One substantial virtue of the book is that it does much more establish a deep historical context than many comparable books, via short sections giving some detail on the past - remote or immediate - of various countries, which are interspersed in the main narrative. Interestingly, they also use a slightly different font. The prose is also quite good overall, so far I've only encountered one truly tortured sentence in a hundred plus pages. So far at least I'd recommend it if anybody's looking for a decent overview of the entirety of WWI, but if you're interested specifically in the opening months, stick with The Guns of August. I don't know how Tuchman makes events whose outcomes I know suspenseful, but she does it. Meyer gives a readable account, but it lacks the knife-to-the-throat tension of Tuchman.


    This is sort of a break from Throne of Glass, my current bad fantasy series. I'm somewhere in the middle of the third book, and it's sort of a slog. The series has shown a commendable ability to change up the setting and scope of the action from book to book, which is a trick more fantasy series could learn. Unfortunately the theme of the third book appears to be that the main character is clinically depressed, in extremely boring fashion for hundreds of pages. There's some plotting involving assorted past love interests, which moves at about the rate of a sleepy glacier, and fails to have any particularly compelling stakes. There's another plot involving some truly and delightfully monstrous witches, which would be a very nice sort of evil seasoning in small, punchy doses, but again seems to just crawl along. '

    Part of the problem is that the series has worked hard, and done pretty well at establishing the heroine a super-badass can kill nearly anybody sort of warrior. The overarching plot revolves around a super-evil king. Whom she never considers killing. Not writes it off as undoable, nobody even considers just stabbing the bastard. I don't usually mind a bit of fridge logic, and would happily accept any number of fantasy nonsense explanations, but the total omission seems pretty glaring. The other problem is that a huge amount of the emotional stakes revolve around the death of a particular side character, about whom I never really cared all that much. So the endless moping sort of doesn't work, particularly since first (and a large portion of the second) book didn't really operate much in the realm of super-emotional and realistic characters, so the sudden shift is kind of jarring. And I liked the earlier gleeful lack of terrible psychic damage books, because they were fun and pacey and things bloody happened.
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    And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.


    Alfred Noyes, The Highwayman, 1906.

  5. - Top - End - #95
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    So, in addition to rabbits and Rus, Iíve also started Russian Folk Belief by Linda Ivanits, which is a fairly readable synthesis of early Slavic beliefs and their survival into the nineteenth and even the early twentieth century. Itís not a collection of fables and folktales themselves, but rather a survey of the folklore and its many creatures, from banniks to vodyanoi.

    Thus my reading is now a lovely trifecta of rabbits, Rus, and rusalkas.



    Originally Posted by warty goblin
    I was feeling historical again, so I dived into A World Undone: The Story of the Great War by G.J. Meyer.
    For years Iíve been wanting to read a good single-volume history of the First World War, but either Iím too busy reading other things or I find myself unwilling to plunge into such prolonged and pointless horror.

    Iíve read extensively about World War Two, and there were so many worldsí worth of ugly brutality in that conflict that Iím not drawn to the Great War. óAnd yet, its importance is such that I feel I should read something comprehensive, as painful as that would be.

    Originally Posted by Remmirath
    If I recall correctly, I was still reading The Faded Sun trilogy by C.J. Cherryh when last I replied to this thread. I have, of course, since finished it; quite possibly the most enjoyable of those I've listed hereÖ.
    In better news, I meant to comment on this earlier. Very glad you enjoyed this one.

  6. - Top - End - #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    For years Iíve been wanting to read a good single-volume history of the First World War, but either Iím too busy reading other things or I find myself unwilling to plunge into such prolonged and pointless horror.

    Iíve read extensively about World War Two, and there were so many worldsí worth of ugly brutality in that conflict that Iím not drawn to the Great War. óAnd yet, its importance is such that I feel I should read something comprehensive, as painful as that would be.
    This is, unfortunately, probably not the one-volume history you're looking for. It's quite good for the western front, but I'm up to January 1915, and so far it's total commentary on literally the rest of the war is about one paragraph summarizing the catastrophic implosion of the Austrio-Hungarians, a couple sentences on the Serbs, and about three total sentences to the non-European war. What it is is a good operational history of Germany, mostly on the western front. And even then it sort of just throws up its hands occasionally, and basically goes "yeah, First Ypres was complicated"
    Blood-red were his spurs i' the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat,
    When they shot him down on the highway,
    Down like a dog on the highway,
    And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.


    Alfred Noyes, The Highwayman, 1906.

  7. - Top - End - #97
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    Default Re: The Books We're Reading: New Edition

    Do androids dream of electric sheep? I guess I'm going to find out. Then maybe I'll rewatch Blade Runner, it's been a while.

  8. - Top - End - #98
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    Default Re: The Books We're Reading: New Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post


    For years Iíve been wanting to read a good single-volume history of the First World War, but either Iím too busy reading other things or I find myself unwilling to plunge into such prolonged and pointless horror.

    Iíve read extensively about World War Two, and there were so many worldsí worth of ugly brutality in that conflict that Iím not drawn to the Great War. óAnd yet, its importance is such that I feel I should read something comprehensive, as painful as that would be.
    Not a book but ...The Great War
    WWI week by week, including specials about all aspects, civilian, military, technological, cultural etc. of the war, those who fought, those who didn't and notable figures. The downside is that since they are doing it week by week to match with the war, it's not finished yet.

  9. - Top - End - #99
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    Default Re: The Books We're Reading: New Edition

    I'm reading
    Welsh Legends and Fairy Lore
    by Daniel Parry-Jones



    I find that I often don't have the patience for novels but that I enjoy what are effectively really old Fantasy short stories.

    Or are they histories?

    In a similiar vein, Katharine Briggs British Folktales and An Encyclopedia of Fairies have provided good reading.
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    Default Re: The Books We're Reading: New Edition

    Originally Posted by 2D8HP
    I'm reading Welsh Legends and Fairy Lore by Daniel Parry-JonesÖ.
    And this just went on my list.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lethologica View Post
    Do androids dream of electric sheep? I guess I'm going to find out.
    If you're reading a Philip K. **** novel the last thing you're going to find out is a straight answer to a question...

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    Default Re: The Books We're Reading: New Edition

    I'm a huge Abercrombie/Butcher/Rothfuss/Sanderson/Weeks fan and plenty of people in these treads have suggested their works. And I agree. A book I've found recently that I hadn't heard about is Jay Kristoff's Nevernight. I kinda liked his Stormdancer trilogy (Gryphon riding rhonin woman in a Steampunk dystopian feudal Japan analog) that I found from a Pat Rothfuss blurb add on Tor.com, but it had some problems with me. (not enough to prevent me from buying and enjoying them all) I LOVED Nevernight. Basically the main character is a post-pubescent Arya Stark with shadow magic and a Snarky-Shadow-Cat familiar. She lives on a planet (plane?) with 3 suns that rarely ever set. She is set off to join a cult of assassins and goes to Magic-MurderHogwarts-Mountain. Deadly hyjinx ensue.
    Last edited by Tom Tearcamel; 2017-01-30 at 10:29 AM.

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    I've been working my way through the three Discworld novels following the character Moist von Lipwig. I enjoyed Going Postal well enough, and Making Money was alright. I'm about to start Raising Steam. I know these aren't the ones that he's known for, but they give a nice window into Pratchett's world, and the narrator is pretty good too.


    Quote Originally Posted by Wookieetank View Post
    I wouldn't complain about reading a Zhan book that wasn't about Thrawn (this one is Thrawn the younger years, the duology is Thrawn the clone years), but when you've made one of the most memorable SW villians, you might as well write what you know I suppose.
    Have you read Zahn's novel Allegiance? It's about as far away from Thrawn-related things as he gets. You'll still have some appearances from familiar Zahn Wars characters (I'm pretty sure Mara Jade is in it), but the focus is on a group of stormtroopers.
    Last edited by Velaryon; 2017-02-02 at 07:40 PM.

  14. - Top - End - #104
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velaryon View Post
    Have you read Zahn's novel URL="http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Allegiance_(novel)"]Allegiance[/URL]? It's about as far away from Thrawn-related things as he gets. You'll still have some appearances from familiar Zahn Wars characters (I'm pretty sure Mara Jade is in it), but the focus is on a group of stormtroopers.
    Not yet, but its now on my list, thanks! Not even sure if I own this one yet (60+ stack of star wars books, it is easy to lose track of what I have at this point (the list of unowned books at this point is shorter XD)).

    Started reading Tales of Trenzalore over the weekend (because apparently reading 1 book at a time is for other people). I'm always impressed by how well so many of the DW book authors manage to capture the feel of the TV show in novel form.
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    If the TV series is anything like the book I can understand why it's got a reputation for nudity and gore!

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    Remember when I said one could only read The Damned so many times? Well, that's getting incremented up by one. Again. It's the sort of light fiction that's really enjoyable when the bulk of your reading is dense textbooks.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

    I'm not joking one bit. I would buy the hell out of that.
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    I read a lot of different things simultaneously because I lose concentration/interest fairly quickly. Here are the highlights.

    Playing at the World - Jon Peterson - I'm constantly reading and re-reading this academic tome, annotating and finding new minutiae. It is a largely dry reading concerning the hardcore history of Dungeons & Dragons. I dare to assume this community is well familiar with the volume.

    How Computers Work - Roger Young - Attempting to build a computer from scratch from the logic/circuits stage and building up. This volume concerns processors and memory.

    Production Pipeline Fundamentals for Film and Games - Renee Dunlop - As a burgeoning video producer and game maker, I have a major hard-on for efficiency and this book is all about efficiency and maximizing time spent working.

    The Elements of Computing Systems - Noam Nisan - More about how computers work

    Dissolution - Richard Lee Byers - I'm not sure why I believe this will be any better than the later Drizzt novels. I starting bouncing off of Forgotten Realms books a few years ago, but I tend to keep giving them new tries.

    Designers and Dragons - Shannon Appelcine - More concerning the history of RPGs, specifically the 70s.

    So, yeah...lots of good stuff.

  18. - Top - End - #108
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    Originally Posted by wardeng
    Playing at the World - Jon Peterson - I'm constantly reading and re-reading this academic tome, annotating and finding new minutiae. It is a largely dry reading concerning the hardcore history of Dungeons & Dragons. I dare to assume this community is well familiar with the volume.
    Iíve never heard of it before, but this sounds like the sort of detailed history of RPGs that Iíve been wanting to see for years.

    Originally Posted by wardeng
    Designers and Dragons - Shannon Appelcine - More concerning the history of RPGs, specifically the 70s.
    This is apparently a series of books, each one covering a decade of RPG history. Seems less rigorous than Jon Petersonís book, but the reviews are pretty strong.



    For my part, Iím most of the way through Russian Folk Beliefs, which is both comprehensive and remarkably readable for an academic book. And Iím continuing to take my time with Watership Down, while dancing among several other titles on early Russian history.

    That includes Armies of the Volga Bulgars and Khanate of Kazan, an Osprey book on some of the neighbors of the Kievan Rusí. Sadly, the book falls into a standard Osprey trap: the attempt to cover centuries of history in 48 pages, including abundant illustrations, leads to a painfully superficial and extremely spotty survey. But thereís a good section on river pirates, so the book was at least worth the ILL postage.

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    Default Re: The Books We're Reading: New Edition

    I'm on page 200 of The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman, which I'm finding very page-turning.

    Some hints of Doctor Who, Poul Anderson's struggle of Law vs. Chaos, the old "Avengers" TV show (with both the Emma Peel and John Steed type characters gender reversed), various literary "Easter eggs", and a lot of hints of the old gaslamp fantasy/steampunk Castle Falkenstein RPG (since the author's bio says "previously worked as a freelance role-playing game writer", and a mention is made of "I see little reason why the Iron Brotherhood would be interested in book of fairy tales. They tend more towards technological paradigms. Now, has it been one of the lost notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci....", I'm sure that deliberate).

    Realistic and gritty?

    Hardly.

    Over the top?

    Wonderfully so!

    Just amazingly geared to "push my buttons", and get me to keep reading.

    Recommended if you like this sort of thing (and I do).
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    Just finished that read of Song of Ice and Fire I was doing. Now in the same situation of waiting for Winds of Winter, and realising it'll probably be another 6 years after that comes out before the final book hits bookshelves, but I want to know how these stories play out *now*, darn it! Can't rely on the TV series because there are important differences between the books and it:

    Spoiler
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    To name just two, Catelyn isn't brought back from the dead in the TV series, which must completely change how the Jaime/Brienne story plays out, and Tyrion never even got to meet Daenerys before she flew off into the Dothraki Sea on her dragon, so that dynamic will be different too.

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    Not presently on my reading list, but they got put next in line (currently working on A Dance with Dragons during plasma donations and Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death a couple nights a week right before bed.

    We had a reading by Mark Z. Danielewski tonight, from book 4 of The Familiar. I figured it would be a great opportunity to get my copy of House of Leaves signed, so I went. He borrowed my copy to read the Yggdrasil page from the end of the book, and eventually signed it by drawing the tree around the text. I also wound up buying all four volumes (so far) of The Familiar, which I plan to start once I finish the Okorafor book.

    Delightful reading. I was very tickled when a question about the meaning of something in House was asked, and his response was "I'm honored you think I'm such an expert on House of Leaves. [...] You should ask the House: it has all the answers."
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    I read the first Harry Potter book last week and I'm not really certain about it. I realise it's her first published novel and so there's a deal of room for improvement, but I found some of the things that happened in it to be a bit...well, "authorial fiat". Example:

    Spoiler
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    Harry, Hermione, Draco and Neville are given detention for being out after lights out. The form this detention takes is sending them into the Forbidden Forest--which as far as we can tell is forbidden because it's *dangerous*, even in the normal course of events--to find some creature that's capable of killing unicorns. This is patently absurd to start with--it would be like sending someone given detention at a regular school to work on a building site! As if that wasn't daft enough, Hagrid tells them they'll be safe if they're with him or Fang, despite Fang being an abject coward who runs away at the first sign of any problem. Then, when Draco and Neville run into difficulties, Hagrid leaves Harry and Hermione *alone* while he goes to investigate. How does any of this make any sense at all? It seemed to me that the author needed to get Harry into the forbidden forest and just had the most unlikely sequence of events occur to make that happen, regardless of logic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    I read the first Harry Potter book last week and I'm not really certain about it. I realise it's her first published novel and so there's a deal of room for improvement, but I found some of the things that happened in it to be a bit...well, "authorial fiat". Example:

    Spoiler
    Show

    Harry, Hermione, Draco and Neville are given detention for being out after lights out. The form this detention takes is sending them into the Forbidden Forest--which as far as we can tell is forbidden because it's *dangerous*, even in the normal course of events--to find some creature that's capable of killing unicorns. This is patently absurd to start with--it would be like sending someone given detention at a regular school to work on a building site! As if that wasn't daft enough, Hagrid tells them they'll be safe if they're with him or Fang, despite Fang being an abject coward who runs away at the first sign of any problem. Then, when Draco and Neville run into difficulties, Hagrid leaves Harry and Hermione *alone* while he goes to investigate. How does any of this make any sense at all? It seemed to me that the author needed to get Harry into the forbidden forest and just had the most unlikely sequence of events occur to make that happen, regardless of logic.
    Whilst the series has a tendency for things to happen because the plot requires it, there are a couple of supporting principles behind what's in that spoiler.

    1. Magical society has a blasť (pre-Victorian) attitude towards child safety (and health and safety in general).

    2. Hagrid is easily distracted and not particularly smart or responsible (and has an unconventional perspective on what constitutes danger, especially wrt. animals).

    Quite a lot of things in the books happen because magical society is insular, recondite, and backwards.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    I'm on page 200 of The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman, which I'm finding very page-turning.....
    ......Recommended if you like this sort of thing (and I do).

    Just started Chapter 13 of The Burning Page, the third novel in the series after The Invisible Library, and
    The Masked City.

    The main off-notes are occasional "re-caps", which are there to fill in some details for those who hadn't read the earlier two books.

    I like it!
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    I have been following the Song of Ice and Fire thread on this forum and am strongly considering picking up the series again.

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    I'm in the middle of The Night Circus and really enjoying it. In principle it's about two magicians having a magical contest without knowing the rules. Much of the action takes place in a quietly fantastical circus with some very interesting people. It's quite good in a Neil Gaiman meets Joanne Harris kind of way.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyrion View Post
    ...It's quite good in a Neil Gaiman meets Joanne Harris kind of way.

    I've liked some Gaiman, but I'm not familiar with Harris.

    Recommended?
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeJ View Post
    Does the game you play feature a Dragon sitting on a pile of treasure, in a Dungeon?
    Quote Originally Posted by Ninja_Prawn View Post
    You're an NPC stat block."I remember when your race was your class you damned whippersnappers"
    Snazzy Avatar by Honest Tiefling!

  28. - Top - End - #118
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Feytalist's Avatar

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    Default Re: The Books We're Reading: New Edition

    My friend, who's a new father, recently handed me Dr Seuss' Oh, the Places You'll Go saying "you have to read this..." - he intends to give it to his daughter when she's older. It's a surprisingly poignant little book. I've never been as enamoured of Dr. Seuss as many other people; I guess I never read his works when I was growing up so the nostalgia factor isn't really there for me. But I must say I found this really moving. Apparently it's even a common graduation gift for students, and I can totally see that. At 30-odd years, even I found it really quite uplifting.
    Awesome fremetar by wxdruid.

    From the discomfort of truth there is only one refuge and that is ignorance. I do not need to be comfortable, and I will not take refuge. I demand to *know*.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zale View Post
    Also, this is the internet. We're all borderline insane for simply being here.
    So I guess I have an internets? | And a trophy. | And a music cookie (whatever that is).

  29. - Top - End - #119
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Cyrion's Avatar

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    Default Re: The Books We're Reading: New Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    I've liked some Gaiman, but I'm not familiar with Harris.

    Recommended?
    I've certainly enjoyed most of her stuff. She's the one who wrote Chocolat on which the movie was based. As always, there are some important differences between the book and the movie. In much of her work magic is understated and sometimes its actual existence is a bit ambiguous, leaving you the reader to decide whether it was magic. Notable exceptions are "Rune Marks" and "The Gospel of Loki" which are both firmly in the realm of Norse mythos.

    I just finished Night Circus, and would definitely recommend it. A couple of the tents gave me some fun inspiration for game encounters/settings. Now I've just started "Lettere dal Buio" (Letters from the Darkness), an Italian easy reader designed to help Italian language skills.The first story was an interesting twist on the "you have to choose which one of you dies" trope. My only knock against it so far is that the English translations in the back don't quite match the Italian. I'm still learning a lot, but there have been several places I've thought "That's not what they said!!"
    I drive a quantum car- every time I look down at the speedometer, I get lost.
    _____________

    As a juggler, I may not always be smarter than a banana. However, bananas aren't often surrounded by children asking for hugs and autographs.

  30. - Top - End - #120
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Books We're Reading: New Edition

    Got waylaid by Sir Terry again. Thud! is vintage Pratchett and surprisingly topical.

    Now it's back to Soon I Will Be Invincible. We'll see about that.

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