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Thread: Reading!

  1. #1131
    Summer reading is under way! Our local library has had a summer theme the past few years, for kids and adults, and this year it's Paws to Read (meaning animal-related). That explains my second book choice below.

    The Restoration by Bob Pacilio. I have met the author before (my copy of this book is signed and personalized ) and know about his personality. He's written books about/for teens (he was a long-time teacher in the San Diego area, even winning Teacher of the Year once), but this is his first adult novel. It's about an old one-screen movie house that is being... restored, and the people who are connected to this... restoration who, due to various issues and struggles, need to be... restored. I like the descriptive style and interplay between characters (dialogue is a little stale and simple, but that helps to clarify their emotions), as well as the titled chapters with dates, so you can follow the "when" and "how" of the storyline.

    Lonesome George by Henry Nicholls. Sadly, the long-lived tortoise of that name died a couple years ago, but this lighthearted account of his discovery and the history of the Galapagos Islands themselves was nice and informative. A little too much focus on husbandry for my tastes, sad commentary on the extinctions in that area of the world, and some cautionary lessons for the future generations.
    "I went to Star Wars Celebration VII in Anaheim, and I didn't get even a lousy t-shirt."

  2. #1132
    Dead Madonna by Victoria Houston. If you've read my other posts by that author then the same goes for this one as well.

    And now we return to a BCJ dominated thread (for the summer at least).

  3. #1133
    Apparently I've started my summer reading with short books (I'm not even at 1000 pages in my four books read so far). Here are two more.

    The Pluto Files by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. This is from about 5 years ago, and it traces the history of the "planet" Pluto, its discoverer, the moon, the Kuiper Belt and "dwarfing" it endured from a vote on its status. He was recently hired at a NYC museum and science center that dealt with the backlash of public outcry. Loved the copies of letters that school kids wrote, as well as emails and blog posts from people who appear to be adults. Funny, informative, like NDT often is.

    Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess. This was a book recommended by a school colleague who saw him speak at a seminar. The author is a motivational education speaker. I found a few of his ideas interesting, but some of his basic premises as faulty. He has an all-or-nothing view, and his extremes don't take into consideration the moderate and middle road teaching style, with OCCASIONAL outrageousness and creative presentations (which might describe my teaching style). Some good ideas I might use (and some I always have), but overall, it's not just me.
    "I went to Star Wars Celebration VII in Anaheim, and I didn't get even a lousy t-shirt."

  4. #1134
    Steve & Me by Terri Irwin. The wife of the TV "Crocodile Hunter" star recounts how she met Steve Irwin, up until his shockingly abrupt death. Heavily on conservation but oddly quite a bit of destiny and fate. She learned to be strong and independent before he died, and became more so after. Very easy to read.

    Cobra Alliance: Cobra War book 1 by Timothy Zahn. Yes, THAT Timothy Zahn. My library's summer reading theme involves animals, so I stretched a bit for this one. Sadly, I doubt I'll read any others in the series. The Cobra soldiers have been modified with weapons, enhanced senses, strengthened bones and muscles. They fought in a war in decades before, and one receives an odd note requesting her help on a planet involved in that war, despite restrictions on travelling there. She and her son (also a Cobra) help the natives when aliens invade. Not too much of the Zahn surprises by the end (although there are a couple), and not too much of his writing style (this was from 2009, and the first Cobra books were in the late 1980s) either. Was fairly disappointed, which is saying something for Zahn stories.
    "I went to Star Wars Celebration VII in Anaheim, and I didn't get even a lousy t-shirt."

  5. #1135
    It took me some time to finish this, but it had more of a textbook format to it, which takes longer to get through (photos and captions, footnotes, parenthetical comments, etc.); Carl Sagan's Cosmos. Watching Neil deGrasse Tyson's TV series, I can now see how they borrowed from this book, which likely was the basis for Sagan's 1980s TV series (I haven't seen it). There's a lot of science and math (in words, charts, equations), but quite a bit of philosophy, biography, and history. What did I learn that I didn't know? Russia (a.k.a. USSR) landed a probe on Venus and got pictures sent back before its circuitry melted, one of the workers bringing the lens and other telescope materials to the Mount Wilson observatory become one of its best scientists, there are several sites across the world with solstice architecture. Glad I read it, despite its "thickness" (in wording and the hardcover book itself), and I may seek out some other Sagan works.
    "I went to Star Wars Celebration VII in Anaheim, and I didn't get even a lousy t-shirt."

  6. #1136
    A couple more animal-related books. I guess I've chosen short books, because I just broke the 2000 pages mark for the summer.

    One in the series I apparently hadn't read (in fact, it seems I hadn't read as many of them as I thought)... Paddington on Top by Michael Bond. The bear in London is as funny and na´ve as usual, but [SPOILER ALERT: he meets his Aunt Lucy, when she joins the travelling Peruvian rugby team] still an enjoyable and quick read. Even though it's a little dated (from the 1970s) and a kids' book, I will probably try to finish the rest of the Paddington books out there.

    Voyage of the Turtle by Carl Safina. This is a research book following migration, feeding, and mating patterns across the oceans of various sea turtle species. He has a good use of metaphoric language, especially for a data-driven piece. Definitely in favor of conservation and protection of endangered species (of which the leatherback, the focus turtle of the book), but he fairly covers the financial and social reasons for taking eggs as food and net fishing that catches turtles, too.
    "I went to Star Wars Celebration VII in Anaheim, and I didn't get even a lousy t-shirt."

  7. #1137
    Man, you are going to make your optometrist a million bucks.

    I read 6 comics recently:

    Transformers: Windblade, issue 2 (miniseries of 4) - art took a tumble into rushed territory, making the already-sloppy style look worse. The story builds mystery but feels like it's still taking too much time to get to the point. The titular character also doesn't feel entirely like she inhabits the world she's living it except in Metroplex interaction scenes. Grade: C-

    Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, issue 29 - a bit crowded and confusing, but some good writing found within. The slow-playing of Megatron's trial is a touch annoying since the "now" story is barely moving as well. But building upon the whole series, it worked better. I would say the art was not always up to code though. Grade: C

    The Star Wars, issue 8 (final issue) - unfortunately, this issue carried too much of the weight of the story, so it gets the most interesting stuff, but it crams what in the original Star Wars movie was the entire second half the film into a single issue. The art mostly is good but a few panels have craaaaazy eyes that look like cartoons. The turn with one of the characters was unfortunately left without support, so what could have been an interesting twist turned into a deus ex machina. Ultimately, this was a modest issue, not quite this disappointing series' high mark, but definitely above this low-shooter's par. Grade: C

    Afterlife with Archie, issue 5 (final issue of first arc) - Surprisingly compelling. The story is told from the POV of Smithers, the loyal Lodge family butler, and it's pretty interesting. For a zombie tale, I found this a surprisingly compelling issue with a lot of the emotional beats paying off well. There is some heavy-handed stuff tho, Mr. Lodge is written like a bastard, Reggie almost commits a hate-crime against the gay kid, and Smithers makes an odd choice towards the end that I hope isn't meant to pay off with an attempt to sacrifice Betty Cooper later, that would be trashy and shallow. But overall, a real page-turner, it got the job done despite being an utterly nutty series. Grade: B (perhaps generous, but I'd still say B- at the lowest, the series controls mood and character through its specific and somewhat limited art style very well) ... I just realized, I've still not read any of the backup stories in these issues, '70s black and white horror comic reprints, so I'm grading only on the primary story.

    Rocket Racoon, FCBD issue - adequate if somewhat cliche tale. Not something I'd continue reading, but not bad, just not my scene. The backup story with Spidey, Nova, and White Tiger on the moooon! at the end was kiddie junk, readable and with a touch of Spidey humor, but largely aiming for a lower age group that kept it from being anything. Overall grade: the gray area between C+ and B-

    Batman '66, issue 11 - loved this story, and amazed that it tied into earlier issues in a satisfying but not showy way. I liked the art, but some of the character art, especially on Batgirl, was a little lazy and simplistic, like it was rushed. But the action was good, the read was good, it spanned all 4 chapters, and adding all the guest villains was a great touch. Grade: A-
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    Kylo Ren - came from Space Brooklyn, although he moved to Space Williamsburg before it was trendy.

    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  8. #1138
    I tried looking up "optometrist" but I didn't see it. :groan:

    My tenth summer book is also the 1138th reply/post to this thread!

    A children's classic, Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. What didn't I know about this book that I thought I had already read? This was the author's only book (she died the next year after its publishing), it's from the point of view of the horse, being sold multiple times means Black Beauty's name changes (Black Auster, Jack, Blackie, another I forgot), and it's actually more of a commentary against animal cruelty and mistreatment than a "kiddie animal" story. I did enjoy it.
    "I went to Star Wars Celebration VII in Anaheim, and I didn't get even a lousy t-shirt."

  9. #1139
    Never Wipe Your A__ With A Squirrel: A Trail Running, Ultramarathon, and Wilderness Survival Guide For Weird Folks by Jason Robillard. Later this summer I'll be running a 50 mile trail ultra and since that'll be my first I'm trying to learn what I can that said, it wasn't as helpful as I thought it would be...but I do find the title funny.

  10. #1140
    Golden Buddha by Clive Cussler. Interesting yarn about modern day Robin Hoods who work off a rust-beaten freighter and perform tasks for the betterment of their wallets. Think 'Leverage' but on the high seas. This book, the crew had to steal a golden Buddha and help put the Dali Lama back in power in Tibet.

    Imperial Commando by Karen Traviss. Finally got around to reading the last book in the series while on a business trip. It was okay. thought it could use a little more action. Would really like to see where the next book went.

    Murder in Foggy Bottom by Margaret Truman. One of the Washington DC based murder mysteries. I've read Truman's stuff in the past but not lately. It was a fun read.

    The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan. About the D-Day invasion. Read it before I toured the National WWII Museum in New Orleans last month. Great read. My favorite nonfiction book.

    After reading some heavy-hitting books, I find myself diving into one of the old reliable Mack Bolan, the Executioner books. Been reading them since high school. Some are well-written, others aren't so but still fun to read.


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