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Old 12-26-2015, 12:32 PM   #2221
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I just finished Alan Ehrenhalt's The Lost City: The Forgotten Virtues of Community in America. Having grown up in the Chicago area in the 1950s-60s, I found it fascinating. As all of us Boomers know, it was such an odd time to come of age--I, at least, felt what seemed to be an "extreme" distance between my parents' generation and the rapid cultural and social changes evolving around me. Now living in relative affluence in the 'burbs, my parents and grandparents spoke with nostalgia about the "old" ethnic (Czech, German) Chicago neighborhoods where they grew up and from which they had fled. Ehrentraut focuses on three Chicago areas on the cusp of change from community to the relative isolation we tend to live in today.
It may appear at times that the author is nostalgic for the 50s but I don't think that is the case. He's quick to point out the many negatives of the period, especially the fact that the generation coming up in the 50s-60s rebelled so profoundly against all their parents' generation stood for--conformity, authority, rules. Still he suggests, provocatively, that in the absence of such things community of the "older type" necessarily devolved.
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Old 12-27-2015, 12:56 PM   #2222
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Read this MI5 oriented book: Present Danger (Liz Carlyle Novels Book 5) - Kindle edition by Stella Rimington. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

I think the 4 star rating is about right. I don't expect a very literary treatment from this former DG of MI5 writer. But factually I'd guess she is probably about right on. In other words, her fiction includes a reasonably believable real world event.
------------------------------------------------

Periodically I get interested in astronomy. SO I've started reading more about what's out there in our universe. Got this great picture book out of the library: Universe (Smithsonian): Amazon.com: Books
It's one of those big heavy coffee table books. Good for a brief read at night when I want to look at illustrations and re-imagine the wild stuff out there in our universe. Also a bit of physics without equations thrown in.

As a study + review guide this is good too: Astronomy: A Self-teaching Guide
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Old 12-27-2015, 03:48 PM   #2223
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Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, by Erik Larson. Very interesting history, well told.
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Old 12-27-2015, 04:22 PM   #2224
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Nexus and Crux, both by Ramez Naam

From the Amazon.com description, I couldn't do any better. I got the books at the library, but it looks like I'm going to have to buy the third in the trilogy, Apex. I'm sure it'll be worth it, and then I'll donate that one to the library.

Oh, here's the link on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Nexus-Arc-Book...keywords=nexus

Quote:
Nexus is a nanotechnology that allows human minds to link up. But rogue scientists are using it to turn ordinary people into killers (shades of Richard Condon’s classic novel The Manchurian Candidate). The American government recruits—in other words, blackmails—Kade Lane, a grad student who’s been known to tinker with Nexus, to get close to the suspected leader of the mind-control program. But, as Kade soon discovers, one man’s villain is another’s visionary, and he’s forced to choose sides in a hurry, before someone else decides he’s too dangerous to stay alive. Naam has set himself a difficult challenge here: he’s telling a story in which much of the action and dialogue takes place inside the characters’ minds. But he succeeds admirably: one scene, in particular, in which a character races to make changes to the Nexus system by reprogramming it inside his own head, is nail-bitingly tense, when it could easily have come off as preposterous. The dialogue might be a bit raw in places, and there might be a slight overuse of exclamation points, but those are minor rookie mistakes. What matters here is the remarkable scope of the story and its narrative power. --David Pitt
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Old 12-27-2015, 05:58 PM   #2225
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Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, by Erik Larson. Very interesting history, well told.
I'll look for that; I've always enjoyed his writing.

As a Christmas present this year, the young wife gave me Turn Right at Macchu Picchu by Mark Adams. A combined travel memoir and history lesson about Hiram Bingham, I found it well written and interesting. Having been to Macchu Picchu gave some added context, but it is not necessary to enjoy the book. It was easily read in a day.
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Old 12-27-2015, 06:09 PM   #2226
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Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, by Erik Larson. Very interesting history, well told.
I enjoyed that too, particularly as I grew up near the site of the sinking and am familiar with many of the locations. Interesting that the ship was 'sacrificed'.

You might find this series of newspaper articles to be of interest:

http://www.irishexaminer.com/lusitania/
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Old 01-07-2016, 09:24 AM   #2227
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The combination of Kindle and eLibrary is amazing. Just finished "American Gods". Not sure how to describe, The Wikipedia entry reads The novel is a blend of Americana, fantasy, and various strands of ancient and modern mythology,
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Old 01-07-2016, 09:29 AM   #2228
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The combination of Kindle and eLibrary is amazing. Just finished "American Gods".
I preferred his "Neverwhere".
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Old 01-07-2016, 09:40 AM   #2229
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Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, by Erik Larson. Very interesting history, well told.
+1

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The combination of Kindle and eLibrary is amazing.
+1 I use a Nook but similar process. I decrypt with Calibre so I can read ebooks at my leisure on trips and stuff.

I am reading Police, the latest Jo Nesbo, now. So far very good, a nicer, more sober version of Harry Hole.

I also finished all five of the Expanse Series, by James S. A. Corey, a rollicking space opera (first book was Hugo nominated). There are several more in the pipeline for the next few years. It is also the subject of a Syfy channel series - book 1 this year, book 2 in the works for next season. The Syfy series is well done but reading the book(s) helps to fully understand what is happening.
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Old 01-07-2016, 10:04 AM   #2230
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Re reading some Rosemary Sutcliff's YA novels about ancient Britian to see what might be appropriate for friend's young but very intelligent son...
Loved these novels when I was young girl--spurred my interest in archeology and ancient cultures...and they are just so well-written compared to much YA dross...

Also reading the SPQR mystery novels set in Ancient Rome--
Fun and a quick read but very accurately researched on Roman culture...
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Old 01-07-2016, 12:20 PM   #2231
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Just finished Natchez Burning by Greg Iles. Very good read but I'm not the fastest reader and this took a long to finish, close to 800 pages.
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Old 01-08-2016, 07:44 AM   #2232
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Moved on to "Tortilla Flat" in my John Steinbeck compendium.
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Old 01-20-2016, 10:35 AM   #2233
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Just finished "The Rise and Fall of Great Powers" by Tom Rachman. I really enjoyed it. I really liked his first novel "The Imperfectionists" that came out a few years ago.

I finished Miranda July's "The First Bad Man". What a weird book. I really like her writing but the subject was so odd I think it will give me weird dreams.
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Old 01-20-2016, 07:08 PM   #2234
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Moved on to "Tortilla Flat" in my John Steinbeck compendium.

Just finishing Steinbeck's "Travels With Charley" and will pick up "Tortilla Flat" next.

"Travels" just ruined my idea of blogging my travels with my boy WileE. No matter what I write it won't be as good as Steinbeck. Funny how little things have changed since 1960. Just substitute Islamist for Russian and the book would seem like it was written yesterday.
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Old 01-20-2016, 09:49 PM   #2235
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I loved Travels With Charley! A favorite to get in audio format for road trips! I know what you mean about blogging--I have done a small bit of it, and it never flows like Steinbeck, the master storyteller.

Am currently reading the hilarious parody of the Life changing magic of tidying up book (which was also great) by Sarah Knight called the Life changing magic of not giving a f^*%!.

Very funny and actually some good tips for someone who has a tendency to worry too much about what others' think, and accepting obligations that i really don't want, out of guilt. But mostly funny, especially the audio version, which the author reads.
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Old 01-20-2016, 11:29 PM   #2236
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I've recently read Connie Willis's Blackout and All Clear. These are awesome books, probably some of the best I've read. They're about history grad students in the future who travel back in time as participatory researchers -- they participate in the times they're researching. This story (it's actually one book split into two volumes) has the researchers going back to World War 2 -- specifically, London during the Blitz.

I can safely say that I learned more about WW2 history from this book that I've learned from any other source. Fantastically detailed, wonderful story, good character development, painstakingly researched, and a great twist at the end.

If you like historical novels, WW2 history, sci-fi or time travel, this is your book. Can't recommend it highly enough.

I've followed up with her classic The Doomsday Book, which is a similar conceit (grad students doing time travel) with one going back to the plague years in England (early 1300s). As you can expect, there are difficulties.

She's been a prolific and heavily awarded author, and so I feel like I just found a new vein of rich gold to mine. Hooray!
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Old 01-28-2016, 07:44 AM   #2237
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The Revenant, by Michael Punke. A story loosely based on Hugh Glass, the quintessential American Frontiersman. It is easy to see how the narrative of and admiration for perseverance and self-reliance evolved from this character portrayal. The book was made into a film. The book is better, IMHO the film is a bit overrated.
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Old 01-28-2016, 08:54 AM   #2238
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I've recently read Connie Willis's Blackout and All Clear. These are awesome books, probably some of the best I've read. They're about history grad students in the future who travel back in time as participatory researchers -- they participate in the times they're researching. This story (it's actually one book split into two volumes) has the researchers going back to World War 2 -- specifically, London during the Blitz.
Huh. I just downloaded All Clear. Looking at my records I already read Blackout but I can't remember it. That seems to be the case pretty frequently for me. I start reading something and realize 50-100 pages in that I read it years before.
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Old 01-28-2016, 08:58 AM   #2239
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Huh. I just downloaded All Clear. Looking at my records I already read Blackout but I can't remember it. That seems to be the case pretty frequently for me. I start reading something and realize 50-100 pages in that I read it years before.
Your memory is the second thing you lose once you reach "the age".
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Old 01-28-2016, 08:50 PM   #2240
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I just finished "hate reading" a book on a lot of best of 2015 books that a friend highly recommended. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. Overwritten, overwrought, over rated. The oh so obvious attempt to ape classical mythologies. The purple sea of unnecessary metaphors. The horribly not sexy sex. The cloying cutesy character names (Lotto? Gawain?) The parenthetical asides. The endless series of sentence fragments. Awful. Just awful.

Why did I finish it? I had to in order to legitimately give my friend a full and fair shot. Now I am going to give her a shot.


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