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Daily Tech News 21 April 2024 | Main | The Freedom Ratchet Only Goes One Way, And It's The Wrong Way
April 21, 2024

Sunday Morning Book Thread - 04-21-2024 ["Perfessor" Squirrel]


Welcome to the prestigious, internationally acclaimed, stately, and illustrious Sunday Morning Book Thread! The place where all readers are welcome, regardless of whatever guilty pleasure we feel like reading (April is National Poetry Month). Here is where we can discuss, argue, bicker, quibble, consider, debate, confabulate, converse, and jaw about our latest fancy in reading material. As always, pants are required, unless you are wearing these pants...

So relax, find yourself a warm kitty (or warm puppy--I won't judge) to curl up in your lap, and dive into a new book. What are YOU reading this fine morning?

NOTE: I'm helping out at church again this morning, so the Saturday Morning Coffee Break comment rules are now in effect...Have a great day!


There's a bit of story behind today's pic. A departmental admin in our English department sent this out to everyone in the department because someone had found this ring and she wanted to know if we knew who might have lost it. At first it appears to be an ordinary plain gold ring. However, when you look at it closer, you can find a faint tracery of Elvish writing inscribed on the inside. One of our English professors is a Tolkien scholar and immediately recognized it as the Black Speech and suggested that the previous owner was Sauron, the Dark Lord of Mordor. I asked if anyone fancied a trip to Mt. Doom. The One Ring is very capable of slipping off of someone's finger without them noticing, of course.

Read-What-You-Own Challenge

Apparently "Read What You Own Month" is in November, but I'm throwing this out there in April. I figure most of you are too busy with National Novel Writing Month to actually read anything in November. I can truthfully say that the vast majority of my reading over the past few years has been books that I've read for the first time. Unfortunately, my TBR pile does have a tendency to grow back. At the moment, I only have around 340 books in my TBR pile. But I just ordered a couple more books this week...And the library in which I work (but do not work for) is scheduling a spring book sale next week as well. Thanks to my job, I do get a sneak peek at their offerings before they lay them out for the general public, and there's not a whole lot there that interests me this time around.

Nowadays, I have a different goal that is related to a "Read What I Own Challenge" but is not quite the same since it features books that I have read before. Technically, I own the books, but I consider "Read What I Own" to only include books that I own but have NEVER read before. So far for 2024, out of the 28 books or so I've completed, I have re-read about 4-5 of them, and the rest are completely new to me. Also, some of those books are contained in omnibus editions, so the total number of books I've read is around 40 or so (short books). It can get a little confusing at times. My overall goal is to try to read all of my books at least once, but I know there will be a few DNF's in there...

How are you doing on your own "Read What You Own Challenges" so far?



(HT: Weak Geek)


Best Free Writing Software For Writers

There are any number of tools out there that writers can use to help them create content. As for me, I tend to be an old-school Microsoft Word squirrel. Word has all of the formatting and organizing features that I need for writing projects. I suppose OpenOffice could also work. I use Google Docs a lot for work-related writing projects because it's easy to use and collaborate with other content creators. I use Google Docs a lot for the class I teach because it's easy for students to use. Supposedly, we are losing access to Google Drive for education soon, which makes me a bit sad. Yes, I know Google hoovers it all up into their panopticon to share with the world, but there's nothing there that I care about. Microsoft OneDrive, which we are switching to, does the same thing, but has better data classification level ratings (according to Microsoft).

Notepad can be used in a pinch, though, but you don't have the same formatting options. Just about any text editor will work. I use Atom for composing these blog posts because it color-codes my HTML and helps me keep my formatting consistent, except when I occasionally forget a closing tag, of course.

As with any tool, it's up to you to find the one that works best for your particular writing style. A basic typewriter can do the job, as can a quill pen and ink bottle. With the latter, you will at least develop awesome calligraphy skills to wow your friends and family when you send them personalized invitations to Bilbo's Birthday Bash (September 22!).

Oh, and lest we forget, now that AI is becoming the new hotness (it's all the rage in education right now), you will no doubt be able to find all sorts of AI-powered writing assistants to help you out...


We have an interesting item this week from a contributor to an ongoing educational series of historical resources aimed at the younger reader:

curious-historian-3B.jpg curious-historian-3A.jpg Salutations, Perfessor!

A couple of years ago, I'd sent OregonMuse (lux perpetua) some information about a series of middle-grades history textbooks from Classical Academic Press to which I've been contributing. After a host of delays, the volumes with my work are finally available for pre-order! The Curious Historian Level 3A: The Early Middle Ages, covering the period from the last years of the Roman Empire to the Norman Conquest and the Battle of Manzikert, is at the printer, and Level 3B: The Late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, covering the period from the Norman Conquest to the first Thanksgiving, will be soon. (Level 1 starts with Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt, and Level 2 focuses on Ancient Greece and Rome as well as their contemporaries in China and India.) This page offers a brief overview of Level 3, and the individual product pages (available here) offer sample chapters and more detailed info about the contents. It's a resource-rich series, not only covering names and dates but what life was like; articles on art, architecture, literature, etc. from the period covered in the chapter; recent archaeological discoveries; intriguing etymologies; fun trivia; "Recommended Reading" lists; and loads of pictures and maps, plus more detailed notes for teachers, an optional "Spotlight on Virtue" for each chapter, and a set of digital resources that go into even greater depth. I'm hoping it will provide parents and teachers with a powerful antidote to the "woke" approach to history!


Elisabeth G. Wolfe

The third book in the Exoproneurs series by Moron Author "moviegique" comes out TODAY!

wingless-dsblake.jpg Hi, Perf!

Book 3 in my Exopreneurs series, Wingless, comes out Sunday!

Exopreneurs Book 3 - Wingless

This time our hero, Jake, is the lone human on a world, Debrides, which is the hub of financial activity in the sector! But everything goes wrong both on Debrides, and on his home base, Station XEE--yet, only when Jake's around. Is it paranoia? Is he the most hated man in the galaxy?

Find out in Wingless!


Longest book I've ever read, in one sitting.

Sum Of All Fears, by Clancy.

Fresh off of an Oct. '98 motorcycle wreck, with five brand new screws in my left ankle, where else would I have been, other than deep in my recliner?

More than twelve hours of reading though, to be sure.

Don't ask about the bathroom breaks. The lack of help in "getting there and back", were direct lead-ins to the '99 divorce.

Previously, an overnight read-through of Crighton's [sic] Jurrasic Park (long before it was a movie), made for a hellacious endurance test at the Regional Meeting at the Marriott, the next morning. Such is a book that you really couldn't put down.

Now then. Gotta go play in traffic!

Sunk New Dawn
Galveston, TX

Posted by: Jim at April 14, 2024 09:21 AM (e6UQI)

Comment: I have read Sum of All Fears, but it's been so long I barely remember any of it. I don't even have the book anymore. I do remember the fuss that was made when the movie came out as the producers changed the villains from Arab terrorists to Neo-Nazis. The movie came out in 2002 (never saw it), just when the War on Terror was hitting its stride, so no one wanted to cast blame on the Arabs for anything (even though it was ARABS behind 9/11...). I have never read Jurassic Park, though I have seen the movie multiple times. I can see both books being excellent page-turners during a period of convalescence when there's not much else to do.


The Key Trilogy (Key of Light, Key of Knowledge, and Key of Valor) by Nora Roberts is the story of three Celtic demigoddesses imprisoned in a glass box by an evil god and a quest by three mortals to find the keys that will release the locks. The evil spell that sent the innocents to their prison specifies that only mortals can find the hidden keys, the search is limited to the length of one phase of the moon, and only mortal hands may turn those keys to unlock the box. Three young ladies agree to the quest, driven by morals, empathy, and a sense of justice. Each lady has a convoluted clue to lead her to the key, and the limited assistance of two gods who serve as caretakers of the prisoners. The story is gripping, characters are richly developed and there are twists and turns along the way. An enjoyable read, a worthy quest, a compelling tale, and unforgettable characters.

Posted by: Legally Sufficient at April 14, 2024 09:46 AM (U3L4U)

Comment: I've never heard of this series, but I have heard of Nora Roberts. She is one of those names that I see all the time at Walmart, in airport bookstores, etc. She's a VERY prolific writer, penning over 200 novels and counting. Kind of like Jerry B. Jenkins, I suppose, or Stephen King (though he's more of "brand" these days.). According to Amazon, she has around 500 million (that's a half-billion, with a "b") books in print.


In addition, I've been reading Eric J. Wittenberg's The Union Cavalry Comes of Age. He blames (surprise!) MacClellan for misusing, misunderstanding, and poorly organizing his cavalry arm in the early years of the war. Although I haven't gotten that far, I believe we are working our way to Brandy Station where the Union cavalry went toe to toe (hoof to hoof?) with the Confederates and proved their worth.

(I may be a bit emotionally confused on this point but while I'm perfectly willing to accept the death of cavalry troopers (what are the enlisted for, anyway?) but I find the death and abuse of the horses heartbreaking.)

Posted by: Anonosaurus Wrecks, Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? at April 14, 2024 11:26 AM (FVME7)

Comment: It's a bit weird when we find ourselves touched by the death of animals over the death of humans, but it happens. In the Amber series by Roger Zelazny, the first couple of books feature quite literal disposable human cannon fodder as Corwin and his brothers recruit armies from among "Shadows" to fight their wars. No one sheds a tear when the armies are ground down to the last man (they are not viewed as "real people" by the Amberites), but Corwin is very sad when his faithful steed is shot out from under him later in the story.

More Moron-recommended reading material can be found HERE! (1000+ Moron-recommended books!)



After reviewing some of OregonMuse's old Book Threads, I thought I'd try something a bit different. Instead of just listing WHAT I'm reading, I'll include commentary as well. Unless otherwise specified, you can interpret this as an implied recommendation, though as always your mileage may vary.

NOTE: Although I list out the books I've been reading individually, in truth they are packaged in an omnibus edition: The Great Book of Amber: The Complete Amber Chronicles, 1-10 (Chronicles of Amber)


Chronicles of Amber Book 2 - The Guns of Avalon by Roger Zelazny

Corwin's first attempt at seizing the throne of Amber was a dud. Blinded and imprisoned by his brother Eric, Corwin eventually breaks free with a new involving guns. Traditional firearms don't work in Amber, but Corwin stumbled across a different substance by accident that have the same effect. So now he teams up with a different brother to lay siege to Amber once again, in an attempt to defeat Eric and claim the Jewel of Judgment for himself.


Chronicles of Amber Book 3 - The Sign of the Unicorn by Roger Zelazny

Corwin's family of Amberites is supremely dysfunctional. Picture every movie or television show that features a bunch of rich ne'er-do-wells that can't stand each other, one of whom is a kinslayer, and then magnify it by a thousand. We get a glimpse of the true inner working's of Oberon's spawn as they scheme and plot against one another. However, we do finally find out who is in which faction, along with a *third* faction from outside of Amber that seeks to destroy the Pattern upon which Amber is based for its own purposes. Oh, and there's an actual unicorn which is important to Corwin's family in some way.


Chronicles of Amber Book 4 - The Hand of Oberon by Roger Zelazny

Corwin pursues his brother Brand, who may be the one that has been plotting against Amber this entire time, having thrown in his lot with the Courts of Chaos. Mad with power, Brand is seeking the ultimate control over Amber. Can Corwin and his siblings stop Brand before he succeeds in his mad schemes?


Chronicles of Amber Book 5 - The Courts of Chaos by Roger Zelazny

This is the endgame for the first half of the Chronicles of Amber. We now know the full extent of the players involved. We also know the stakes that are at risk (all of creation). In some sense this is a bit anticlimactic since we KNOW there is a second series after this one (books 6 - 10). Still, it's the exciting conclusion to the first part.


Chronicles of Amber Book 6 - Trumps of Doom by Roger Zelazny

This picks up some time after The Courts of Chaos and follows Merlin, Corwin's son, as he attempts to identify who is trying to kill him. Strangely, the attempted assassinations all occur on April 30.


Chronicles of Amber Book 7 - Blood of Amber by Roger Zelazny

Merlin now knows a few of the players in the game in which he's become involved, but he still doesn't know all of them, nor does he know the true stakes for which he's playing. The construct he created, a magic-based computer called Ghostwheel, seems to have developed sentience and a sense of self-preservation, which just adds complexity to an already complicated situation.


Chronicles of Amber Book 8 - Sign of Chaos by Roger Zelazny

Merlin attends a fancy dinner party. Oh, and there are a couple of magical duels at the end now that Merlin knows just a bit more about who he's facing. And there's a twist!


Chronicles of Amber Book 9 - Knight of Shadows by Roger Zelazny

Merlin goes on a spiritual acid trip while the forces of Chaos--represented by the Logrus--and the forces of Order--represented by the Pattern--tempt him to choose between them. Will Merlin succumb to temptation or will he find a third way?


Chronicles of Amber Book 10 - Prince of Chaos by Roger Zelazny

At last, we reach the finale of Zelazny's magnum opus. Now we have the ultimate showdown between Order and Chaos with Merlin standing between them both. I can definitely see a Moorcockian influence in Zelazny's story with its emphasis on the conflict between Order/Chaos, rather than the more conventional fantasy trope of Good v. Evil. He also draws upon Vancian magic in his representation of sorcery. Overall a decent series, but not one that I'm eager to re-read any time soon.

PREVIOUS SUNDAY MORNING BOOK THREAD - 04-14-24 (NOTE: Do NOT comment on old threads!)


Disclaimer: No Morons were harmed in the making of this Sunday Morning Book Thread. The lost and found has been moved to Sammath Naur, the entrance of which is located on the slopes of Orodruin.

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