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What Books Are You Currently Reading or Read?

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Currently re-reading:

I Am Jackie Chan (1998) 

As a good a read as I remember it, yet he doesn't once mention James Tien or Dean Shek... sure would like to find a book that covers Jackie's early days in greater detail...

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The Telnarian Histories: The King (1993) by John Norman

John Norman is the pen name of John Frederick Lange, Jr., a philosophy professor and author of the Gor fantasy series. This is the 3rd of 4 in his Telnarian series.

It is not worth explaining the plot or mentioning characters because it is all disposable. Why? Because of Norman's dominant theme (a pun you'll get in just a minute).

Growing up I was, and still am, a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs (creator of Tarzan & John Carter of Mars) and Robert E. Howard (creator of Conan the barbarian), so I was always on the lookout for another good sci-fi/fantasy/sword & sorcery writer. I found the first 3 books in the Gor series and thoroughly enjoyed them. However, further along, Norman's penchant in writing soon began to escalate to heavy themes of bondage & dominance. There was always the hint of sex, but never anything blatantly descriptive, and Norman seemed to enjoy stressing constant depictions of the submission and compliance, even emotional longing, of women to be brought into subjection to men. That is especially prevalent in this book, where women are essentially nothing more than property to be used as tender or trade goods. Over and over and over and over, to a point well beyond redundancy, Norman depicts women who initially don't like the idea of being slaves, and yet there is soon realized within them the "fact" that it is really something they long for, desire, even ultimately aspire to. Action in the book is almost nil, and when it's there, it's not worth reading because it's short, boring, and poorly written. So I'd end up skimming through it only to encounter pages of some drawn out situation or dialogue of a scantily clad/naked woman who is (a) described as being roped, collared, chained, whipped, branded, trussed, forced to grovel, crawl, and lick and kiss the boots of some stalwart man, or (b) being condescendingly questioned/"reminded" how she is a slave and just what all that entails. In addition to that, Norman then gives perspectives from the women's points of view of how they finally come to the realization that bondage to a man is what they truly want, reveling in their worthlessness except as a means of servitude and pleasure. This is expressed even in his depiction of free women that mock and talk down to female slaves, who Norman hints, not very subtly, they actually envy.

This is just adolescent male fantasy that has not only run off the tracks, but crashed through the woods to plunge into a ravine. 

I read a lot, and just like the martial arts movie genre, there's a lot of tripe out there mixed with the Grade A material. This book is pure tripe. It is the definition of tripe. It is the tripiest of tripe in a world of tripe. I want to say John Norman missed his calling to write erotica, but I believe he may well be one of the major influences for all the housewife literary porn in circulation today, the majority of which is actually written by women. Go figure.

(Unfortunately, while on a used book buying binge the last year or so, I've nabbed a few of the later Gor books. I just don't know if I have the stomach to even attempt to read any of them now. If I ultimately do, it's going to be a while.)

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On 9/6/2018 at 7:29 PM, ShaOW!linDude said:

I found the first 3 books in the Gor series and thoroughly enjoyed them.

The early Gor novels were published by Ballantine Books.  They were edited by Betty Ballantine, who probably removed or changed the more offensive B&D.  I think that she finally gave up, and Ballantine stopped publishing the Gor series after #7.  It was then picked up by DAW Books.   

During the 1983 trial of Northern California serial killer Gerald Gallego, a local newspaper showed a photo of him reading a Gor novel.  According to Wikipedia, Gerald Gallego, assisted by his wife Charlene, murdered ten victims, mostly teenagers.  He turned the girls he kidnapped into sex slaves before they were killed.  He was sentenced to death, but, unlike his father, who was executed by the state (either Missouri or Mississippi, I believe), he wasn't executed, dying of cancer in 2002.  

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Infinite Kung Fu (2011, Author and Artist Kagan McLeaod)  Just got this off of Amazon and have been loving every minute. I believe its sort of the Author's tribute to all things Martial Arts. Defiantly recommend it to the folks on here, if you don't mind reading comics. 

Shang-Chi: Master of Kung-Fu Omnibus Vol. 1 (2016, Various Writers and Artist) Got this one at the same time as Infinite Kung Fu. But I ended up not liking this one as much. Not sure why, but it didn't click with me unfortunately.

 

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Haven't posted anything about any book(s) specifically of late because I've been reading a number of Robert E. Howard collections, many of which contain stories of his I'd never read. I hit a mother lode of his works a few months back at a used bookstore (about 8 paperbacks in total). I've waded through 3 of them so far.

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Fighting My Way Back: Thin Lizzy 69-76 (2011) by Martin Popoff.

Let's begin with this: I am a HUGE Thin Lizzy fan.

I think they are seriously and severely underrated compared to bands of their day, especially Phil Lynott as a songwriter. The man was a true poet and storyteller with a gift for word play.

The author is a Canadian chap who styles himself as "the world's most famous heavy metal journalist". Maybe so, maybe not. But he's written & published a lot about various heavy metal and hard rock acts. Here he begins the 1st part of a look at Thin Lizzy, which was led by a black Irishman, and most notably known for the classic songs "Whiskey in the Jar" and "The Boys Are Back In Town". He delves into Lynott's upbringing and eventual journey into rock and roll. He addresses the first 6 albums, and is particularly intent on looking at each album's song list. But he's fairly good at hashing out the biographical trek of the band throughout the introspection, which is mainly done based on past and present interviews, not only with former bandmates, but with former managers, producers, etc. And he's good about not just quoting a sentence or two, but whole paragraphs of conversational insight. Plus, there are a ton of photos of the band in the early days as well as different album covers, tour flyers, posters, and such. The guy really does his homework.

The only issues I have with it, and they're minor in the grand scheme of things, is that some of it gets redundant, such getting everyone's personal take on the production of certain albums or events. And as a self-published book, there are some typos and the text isn't justified so that the lines spread evenly from margin to margin. (But as a self-published author myself, I can be gracious concerning the latter. The redundancy? Some places are worse than others, but I can live with it.)

I will certainly be looking to track down the 2nd & 3rd books We Will Be Strong: Thin Lizzy 76-81 and It's Getting Dangerous: Thin Lizzy 81-12, as well finding a good biography on Phil Lynott.

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Cowboy Song: The Authorized Biography of Thin Lizzy's Philip Lynott (2016) by Graeme Thomson

Having read the book in the previous post, I was on a Thin Lizzy kick and began looking into other books published about them, and specifically Lynott. 10-15 years ago you would have been hard-pressed to find anything, at least here in the States. But now? That's not the case. There is a lot of material on the band, particularly Lynott. And lo and behold, Santa brought me this.

This is the kind of book I both love and hate. I blew through it in a week, reading almost a third of it one Sunday afternoon. But it was over too soon. And sadly, I knew how it would end.

But there is a different reason I love and hate this book, and that is what it reveals about the nature of the man. Lynott was a lover of history, especially Irish history, and he incorporated aspects of it in his lyrics. He loved to tell a story, and if it wasn't historically related, then it was of love and loss, or of rough men living a tough life in the seedy underbelly of the criminal world, or of a hard-partying rock star. Unfortunately, living up to the reputation of that last one is what killed Lynott. 

Lynott was a man who started off with ambition and drive, and enjoyed the fruits of his labor. He worked hard to develop a stage presence and showmanship. But his precarious lifestyle had severe consequences. One of the reasons Thin Lizzy never broke big in the US is because the 2 times their albums were gaining traction here (Jailbreak & Chinatown), Lynott was sidelined with alcohol- and drug-related health issues that prevented them from touring at the last minute. Needless to say, US record affiliates did not see the band as being a reliable interest. 

Lynott was always business minded, and at the beginning he was very hands on, doing the meet and greets, pressing the flesh, ingratiating himself to the record company staffs. But in the latter years, envious of the perks many rock stars were receiving, he became a diva, contrary and demanding, but failing to produce songs that would warrant his egotism. He was a private man who thrived on attention. He was a hard-working and talented musician and songwriter who wound up feeling envious and entitled.

Sadly, he became a functioning alcoholic/junkie. He never overdosed, but his abuse of substances ravaged his body and immune system. Shortly before his death, he strove to clean up, and seemed to do so for about a year. Some people are able to break those habits, and maintain the struggle to stay clean. For others, like Lynott, it's like trying to swim out of whirlpool. For a while, you can fight the eddy, but then you end up getting sucked down into its deadly spiral. 

He died at age 36, slipping into a coma on Xmas day in 1985, and passing away on Jan.4, 1986. There should have been many good years and great songs ahead of him.

It's is said you never want to meet your heroes for they will disappoint you. I love Edgar Allen Poe, but if I saw him on the street, I'd cross the road to avoid him. I'm afraid I'd have to do the same with Phil Lynott.

Dadgummit.

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Almuric (1939) by Robert E. Howard

The story is a pastiche of sorts based on the influence of Edgar Rice Burroughs' stories. There are similarities to both ERB's Mars series and Pellucidar series. 

The main character Easu Cairn aka Ironhand is a type of John Carter. He's transported to another world called Almuric, a planet more barbaric than Earth. It's inhabitants are beast-like apemen with names akin to Viking titles. However, the women are all gorgeous in the normal human being vein. There are strange animals and monsters everywhere, and a villainous, cannibalistic race of winged men ruled by a sort of vampiric queen. REH's protagonist, however, does not lose his inhumanly brutish strength that so typifies many of his main literary characters. The action is thick throughout the story and sparsely related in Howard's poetic style. And there are allusions to other aspects of the world to be explored. Sadly that never came to be, as Howard took his own life in 1936, and the story was completed and published 3 years later.

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lwc1.jpg  lwc2.jpg  lwc3.jpg

 

Just finished the 3rd of the Omnibuses, so up through Volume 7 of the original releases. The stories really are amazing and the historical references are great. If you haven't read these you haven't really experienced Lone Wolf and Cub yet. 

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Thanks for the Money: How To Use My Life Story To Become The Best Joel McHale You Can Be (2016) by Joel McHale.

Joel McHale, star of The Soup, a show on E! Network that kept its finger on the pulse of television culture, and Community, the popular TV series about a group of losers from various backgrounds of life enrolled at Greendale Community College ("6 seasons and a movie!), published this mocku-memoir/self-help book a couple of years ago. I only just came across it on the bargain table at Books-A-Million for $6. According to the inside of the book jacket, if you pick it up and read it, you're obligated to buy it. So I did.

From a comedic standpoint, McHale has always owned me. I was first exposed to him when E! kicked off a new iteration of what had been Talk Soup, a show that helped launch the careers of Greg Kinnear and Tom Henson. It quickly became something me and the Mrs. had to watch every Friday evening. While he'd had a few supporting roles in other TV shows and films (most notably Spider-Man 2 as the bank who is refusing to give Aunt May a loan when Dr. Octopus robs the bank), I was super-psyched when he landed his starring role in Community, a show that was genius in its playing with cultural characters and themes in the medium of film and television. 

This book is really no different. McHale writes it with the voice of a smarmy, obnoxious, self-centered, ego-centric celebrity, and he lambastes everybody. If you're a fan of his, you won't need an audiobook because as I read it, I could hear his voice with all its sarcastically deadpan or buoyantly campy delivery. There were times I had to put the book aside because my vision was blurry from the tears of laughter rolling down my cheeks. He writes of his upbringing and how he got into show business, as well as his experiences, and there is nothing not left open to mockery and jest. The latter part of the book is how you, too, can follow his plan to become a celebrity just like he is, and it is hysterical. Oh, and there's lots of footnotes, photos, charts, and graphs, too. 

Seriously (and this book is anything but), if you need something lighthearted and fun to read to take your mind off your troubles, this is it!!! Even if you're not familiar with Joel McHale, this would be a super-fun read. I wanted to start it again as soon as I finished, but I have such a backlog of books to read, I didn't. Keeping it handy though.

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Pontypool Changes Everything (1998) by Tony Burgess

This is the book the zombie horror movie Pontypool (2008) was based on. It has a unique perspective on people turning into stark-raving mad cannibals. If you're of fan of the zombie/infected genre and haven't seen this, it's really good. In fact, the movie is so good, it's a rare case of the film being better than the book.

I happened upon this a couple of weeks ago at my used bookstore haunt. I immediately started reading it. Sadly, the book is a huge disappointment. Burgess has a degree in semiotics, which is the philosophical theory of symbols and signs dealing with the syntactics, semantics, and pragmatics of artificially constructed or natural languages. (And yes, I had to look that up.) And he incorporates that into the reason for the outbreak. As a writer, I found that to be an interesting take. What is not interesting is how the story is told. It's confusing as all get out. In fact, it's incongruous in many respects. Events are left unexplained. Characters lack development. The plot jumps all over the place. Vast parts of the story don't even deal with the outbreak. Half the time his use of metaphors are nonsensical. It's just a hot mess. It was a book I couldn't wait to be done with. I've gotten better as I get older about not wasting my time reading something that just isn't doing it for me. I hung with this one though. Kept hoping it would explain some things towards the end. Nope. Sucker.

If you read the book, it'll trip you up. If you watch the movie, it'll trip you out.

Watch the movie.

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Savaging the Dark by Christopher Conlon

I've only just gotten back into reading after a long, long break. I was looking for a small-ish horror novel to read and came across this one. Since it was highly rated and advertised as "very dark." I thought I'd give it a whirl.
I can say that this is the most shocking book I've ever read. And I haven't even finished it yet. The story revolves around a female teacher falling in love with her 11 year old student. It's wonderfully written and her descent into depression, disassociation and eventual pedophilia is a genuinely engaging journey. However, there is detailed adult/child sex in this book. The author doesn't pull his punches at all. It's hardcore stuff.
I highly recommend the novel, however. It's an incredible read and, dare I say, it tells a story of pedophilia that isn't just a gross man online grooming little girls? It tells it from a unique angle and one that might even leave you feeling sorry for the pedophile.

Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill

A ghost story by none other than Stephen King's son? Why not? Hill is definitely a chip off the old block but he's just...not...quite...there. The novel tells a great story of redemption while still settings its roots firmly in the horror genre. And while it's good. Very good, in places. He just doesn't have the mind for horror his dad has. I found his chief ghostly villain to be a bit boring. Too gimmicky. Everything else I loved, actually. If the book didn't have its antagonist, it would actually be better.
With that said, Hill writes well. He's a little repetitive in places (especially when referring to how cold it is and a certain character's pale skin) but it can all be forgiven. He ends his story magnificently and wraps it up in a nice, heartfelt bow.
A quick and easy horror read. It may not be wholly immersive, but it's an enjoyable little ghost yarn instilled with a nice chunk of humanity.

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Hmm....

1- "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (Novel-Revised 1978 Edition, I think) Pretty good. 

2- "Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth" (Graphic Novel- 25th Anniversary Edition) Didn't really like it all that much. The story was okay, but they over did it with some of the art. 

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1 hour ago, DarthKato said:

2- "Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth" (Graphic Novel- 25th Anniversary Edition) Didn't really like it all that much. The story was okay, but they over did it with some of the art. 

I remember reading this years ago, and I agree they overdid the art. I enjoyed the story though.

On the other hand, that is why the game adaption is far better. They grabbed elements from this and blew it out of the water.

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18 hours ago, Ah_Tao said:

I remember reading this years ago, and I agree they overdid the art. I enjoyed the story though.

On the other hand, that is why the game adaption is far better. They grabbed elements from this and blew it out of the water.

Yup, the game was awesome! 

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Volunteering at the local library, I get to borrow books for free so I read quite a lot of stuff lately. Mainly Stephen King and Tom Clancy novels, but also classics like Hernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms and a couple of Isaac Asimov's Foundation novels.

My current read is Robert Ludlum's The Altman Code by Robert Ludlum and Gayle Lynds.

Edited by Secret Executioner

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