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On 1/28/2020 at 10:08 AM, Hanahope said:

Just finished Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.  recommended on another forum site in honor of the coronavirus.  its a story about another flu bug that killed 99.9% of the population.   definitely makes you want to stock up on water and nonperishable food and hope you don't need electricity and medicine to survive.  but even then hard life.  but the theme,  survival is insufficient, comes through.

 

I can't believe it's been five years since Station Eleven came out.  I really enjoyed it.  I don't think she would ever do a sequel.  It stands alone.   Emily St John Mandel has a new book coming out in March, The Glass Hotel.  It sounds good.  

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I finished reading In The Woods by Tana French last night - yeah, I know it's been out for years, but I only just got around to it.  I mostly enjoyed it, up until the end, but there were a few things which bugged me:

Spoiler

First - unlike the narrator, I suspected that Rosalind was involved, at least with poisoning Katy, from the moment the ballet teacher talked about her getting ill frequently and then suddenly not getting ill.  And I knew Rosalind's helpless act was just that, an act meant to keep him from suspecting her.

Second - what kind of allegedly crack homicide detectives would not think of trowels or some kind of digging implements when told by the coroner that the murder victim had been raped with something similar to a broom handle after the body had been found at a freaking archeological site?

And third, and by far the most serious - although I realized about halfway through the book that what had happened to Adam and his friends was not connected to Katy's murder except by coincidence, I still wanted some answers to that mystery.  It did rather spoil the book for me that no resolution was ever forthcoming.

 

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I love Tana French's Dublin Murder series, and I'm looking forward to watching the TV adaptation, but I find it so random how some of the books have supernatural elements, which aren't ever explained, and others don't. I'm also wondering when she's going to release another installment. She's been pretty consistent in publishing a book every two years, but for 2018 it was a standalone (which I haven't read yet).

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Just now, Black Knight said:

I love Tana French's Dublin Murder series, and I'm looking forward to watching the TV adaptation, but I find it so random how some of the books have supernatural elements, which aren't ever explained, and others don't. I'm also wondering when she's going to release another installment. She's been pretty consistent in publishing a book every two years, but for 2018 it was a standalone (which I haven't read yet).

I saw part of the series, which is what made me read the book.  Maybe the series corrects the biggest flaw of the book, but combining both books seemed to be a huge mistake to me.

I doubt I'd bother with any more of French's books since this was decently written, and did keep me reading, but ultimately fell flat.

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10 hours ago, Haleth said:

Huh.  Well, whadda you know.  I'm definitely going to have to do a reread.

I only have vague recollections of this book, but I remember not liking it. It seemed like it was mostly about an actor in the current timeline if I remember correctly.

1 hour ago, proserpina65 said:

I finished reading In The Woods by Tana French last night - yeah, I know it's been out for years, but I only just got around to it.  I mostly enjoyed it, up until the end, but there were a few things which bugged me:

  Hide contents

First - unlike the narrator, I suspected that Rosalind was involved, at least with poisoning Katy, from the moment the ballet teacher talked about her getting ill frequently and then suddenly not getting ill.  And I knew Rosalind's helpless act was just that, an act meant to keep him from suspecting her.

Second - what kind of allegedly crack homicide detectives would not think of trowels or some kind of digging implements when told by the coroner that the murder victim had been raped with something similar to a broom handle after the body had been found at a freaking archeological site?

And third, and by far the most serious - although I realized about halfway through the book that what had happened to Adam and his friends was not connected to Katy's murder except by coincidence, I still wanted some answers to that mystery.  It did rather spoil the book for me that no resolution was ever forthcoming.

 

I really, really, really wanted to like this series, but I read 2 or 3 books & I was done. The third thing in your spoiler is one of the big problems I had with this book, you can't make a big deal out of something like that & not finish it.

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22 minutes ago, GaT said:

I really, really, really wanted to like this series, but I read 2 or 3 books & I was done. The third thing in your spoiler is one of the big problems I had with this book, you can't make a big deal out of something like that & not finish it.

In the Woods is the only book I've legitimately wanted to throw across the room when I was finished with it. I was so disappointed in it that I never read any of her other books.

ITA on the unfinished ending.

 

The past mystery was the one I was most invested in and what, to me, elevated this particular book beyond your standard whodunit. For her to take that much time up with it, to the point of Rob essentially destroying his credibility/career, and then not resolve it at all made me furious.

Edited by Dani-Ellie
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I slogged through the first three Dublin Murder books, decently interested but not enamoured. Then I got to Broken Harbour. It was so...boring. 

 

Spoiler

The interrogation of the Wife/Mother/Murderer should have been riveting, but I kept yawning, or putting it down to go do something else. And it seemed to last for 900 pages. Dull.

Once I figured out that she was going to leave so many things unresolved in the books, I began to see how weak the stories that would be resolved were. She uses these backstories to create tension because the main stories aren't interesting...or aren't written in an interesting way.

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16 hours ago, Dani-Ellie said:

In the Woods is the only book I've legitimately wanted to throw across the room when I was finished with it. I was so disappointed in it that I never read any of her other books.

ITA on the unfinished ending.

  Hide contents

The past mystery was the one I was most invested in and what, to me, elevated this particular book beyond your standard whodunit. For her to take that much time up with it, to the point of Rob essentially destroying his credibility/career, and then not resolve it at all made me furious.

Spoiler

I agree with your spoiler.  I felt like Rob killed his friends.  I gave my mom the book when I was done and asked her what she thought about that. She said "Of course not."  And it's just annoying to never know.  Even if it was possible to catch/punish the killer, Rob just remembering the holes would have worked for me.  If he had remembered doing it and kept quiet, fine, I would have known.  If he had remembered it was a stranger that he'd never be able to identify this far down the road, again, fine.  We'd know.

 

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42 minutes ago, Katy M said:
  Reveal spoiler

I agree with your spoiler.  I felt like Rob killed his friends.  I gave my mom the book when I was done and asked her what she thought about that. She said "Of course not."  And it's just annoying to never know.  Even if it was possible to catch/punish the killer, Rob just remembering the holes would have worked for me.  If he had remembered doing it and kept quiet, fine, I would have known.  If he had remembered it was a stranger that he'd never be able to identify this far down the road, again, fine.  We'd know.

 

Exactly.  I didn't need all the answers and some neat, tidy wrap-up, but just some solid possibilities would've sufficed.  As it was, I ended up being disappointed enough to not want to read anything else by the author.  Which is kind of a shame, because up until Rob did that really stupid thing involving his partner, I was enjoying the book.

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For anyone who likes historical fiction, I strongly recommend reading The Hunger by Alma Katsu, a fictionalized retelling of the Donner expedition. I read the whole thing over the weekend, barely put it down. Can't really encapsulate it, but I very much suggest folks check it out.

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21 Lessons for the 21st Century, by Yuval Noah Harari. It's interesting how prevalent these ideas are becoming, among academics - universal income, data as the main economic driver, the idea of happiness and satisfaction becoming more of a signifier of societal and economic success, the collapse of liberal ideology and how we replace it. Harari seems very much in line with the likes of Rutger Bregman and Paul Mason, when he talks about how we may need to address these issues.

But it does feel more like an update to his earlier work, rather than anything brand new.

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Just finished the latest Jack Reacher novel, Blue Moon.  Fits pretty well with the usual plotlines.  By chance, helping an old man, Reacher gets drawn into a war with two crime gangs and nearly single-handidly takes both gangs out.  Its stories like these that totally make the case that Tom Cruise, for all his acting talent, just can't act his way into a 6'2" 250 pound body, which is such a key point in so many of these stories.

Almost too bad that someone like Reacher doesn't exist.  I guess that's why I like these stories, the good guys always win and the bad guys never do, a good feeling fantasy (it seems).  I particularly liked it when Reacher made his own decision about a certain bad guy at the end.

 

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1 hour ago, Hanahope said:

Just finished the latest Jack Reacher novel, Blue Moon.  Fits pretty well with the usual plotlines.  By chance, helping an old man, Reacher gets drawn into a war with two crime gangs and nearly single-handidly takes both gangs out.  Its stories like these that totally make the case that Tom Cruise, for all his acting talent, just can't act his way into a 6'2" 250 pound body, which is such a key point in so many of these stories.

Almost too bad that someone like Reacher doesn't exist.  I guess that's why I like these stories, the good guys always win and the bad guys never do, a good feeling fantasy (it seems).  I particularly liked it when Reacher made his own decision about a certain bad guy at the end.

 

This is why fairy tales are so important to human development.

“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”


― G.K. Chesterton

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Recently reread David Baldacci's The Innocent (Will Robie #1) and am now rereading The Hit, second in that series, as a refresher in advance of finally getting around to reading the rest of the series.  I also read the start to Baldacci's Atlee Pine series, Long Road to Mercy

I also just started The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) by Robert Jordan

Oh! I also just finished book one in Linwood Barclay's Promise Falls trilogy, Broken Promise.  

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I was recommended Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts.  It's either The Westing Game For Grownups or Ready Player One Without the Gatekeeping, but I'm really enjoying it.

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Almost done with Long Black Veil. This one was a very pleasant surprise. I found it only because of my Popsugar Reading Challenge category and I really enjoyed it. 

As for Ninth House...well, it's still going. 

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On 2/8/2020 at 6:04 PM, starri said:

I was recommended Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts.  It's either The Westing Game For Grownups or Ready Player One Without the Gatekeeping, but I'm really enjoying it.

I read Tuesday Mooney and I liked it at first, but it did not hold up for me. I didn't hate it, but I was starting to rush through it to be done. And it's set in my city (well, I live in a Boston suburb), so that was fun.  hope you keep enjoying it. I loved Bellweather Rhapsody by the same author.

Starting Jami Attenberg's All This Could be Yours. I have liked her other books. And Weather by Jenny Offill dropped today, so I must snap that up. Offill's Dept. of Speculation was polarizing, but I loved it. 

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I'm reading Cast in Wisdom by Michelle Sagara, the 15th book in the Chronicles of Elantra Series. I keep reading this series, & I'm not sure why because there's very little character progression, & they drag. There's a lot of talk about true names & true words (as usual), & they seem to be spending most of the book wandering a sentient building. After 15 books I expect more.

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A co worker has read most of, if not all, of the Inspector Gamache Series books. She said she really liked them, so I picked up  the first one, Still Life, and read it. 

I will say Ms. Penny can create some interesting characters, but that's the most positive thing I can say about the experience of just reading the first book. I thought Peter Morrow was fascinating, so much so that after I finished the book, I had to find out what became of him, because I knew I wouldn't be reading any more of these. And then I found out, and well. Now I know for sure I won't be reading any more. 

I just found her to not be that great of a writer. She tells far more than she shows, in fact, it was mostly telling. And a lot of the passages, it was like she was trying to be deep and introspective, but it made no sense.  I think pretentious would be a good description. Most of the characters, ,while some are  interesting, are truly unlikeable people, including Peter's wife Clara (and I doubt getting the reader to dislike Clara was the author's intention).  

Just an overall big fat no for me.  I understand these are best sellers. I just don't get WHY. Suffice it to say, if my co worker asks, I'll do the generic "eh, it was alright" and hope she doesn't ask again LOL.

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Peter? Likable? That was totally different than my read, but then again, I don’t remember how far that relationship goes in the first book.

Spoiler

Peter actively undermines his wife’s confidence and discourages her in the most invidious ways. Clara is nothing great, but she doesn’t have the inherent ego-based cruelty of Peter.

My problem with the series was always the Surêté politics. Ugh. So torturous and dull.

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12 hours ago, BlackberryJam said:

Peter? Likable? That was totally different than my read, but then again, I don’t remember how far that relationship goes in the first book.

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Peter actively undermines his wife’s confidence and discourages her in the most invidious ways. Clara is nothing great, but she doesn’t have the inherent ego-based cruelty of Peter.

My problem with the series was always the Surêté politics. Ugh. So torturous and dull.

I actually didn't say Peter was likeable, I said he was fascinating. Fascinating IMO usually doesn't translate to an easily likeable character. But then I guess I tend to latch onto the complex, damaged characters. "Likeable" doesn't' have to be a criteria for me to LOVE  a character.  I LOVE all four of the Musketeers, because Alexandre Dumas wrote them with life and color and human traits, up to and including them doing horrible things and making horrible mistakes. 

And I guess that's what I'm missing here-color and life in the characters. Except for Peter and maybe one or two others, they were all so....BLAND is the word I'm thinking of. Colorless. And for a series that is supposed to best sellers, I expect more. 

I was bored. I hate being bored reading a book, especially a mystery.

I do think most of her characters are either written with a heavy hand, and we're supposed to think they are awful, like Jane's niece, or we're supposed to love them and think they're the greatest thing ever.

Bottom line for me, I don't think most of them had much of a personality to speak of.  And isn't that the point in any story ? If you don't connect to, and care about, the people in the story, what's the point ? 

 

I have read that Peter might treat Clara not so great in the future books, but since I thought Clara was pretty smug and self righteous in her own right, I guess I just don't care ? I don't need my faves to be "likeable," but I do need them to be bearable. Clara wasn't for me, at all. And if she's one of the main characters going forward, no thanks. I'll save my money.

Edited by IWantCandy71
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I think there are many reasons to dislike the books, the good angel Gamache being one of them.  I've read too many books about egotistical men who wear down their wives to find anything valuable in reading Peter Morrow. He's Mr. Repressed White Male Rage and so emotionally abusive. I am tired of those characters. So tired.

Jean Guy is much more interesting as the token damaged male.

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Currently working on Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo (the other Booker Award Winner).  I'm really enjoying it but it is one of those books that takes a lot of brain power to read.  Evaristo doesn't seem to be a fan of punctuation.  Or Capital letters.  Or sentence structure.  I don't know much about her but I'm guessing she has a foot in poetry because I get that feeling here.  It is definitely a book that requires 100% of my attention.

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On a super light note, I have listened to Richard E. Grant reading Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie and Grant is WONDERFUL. I normally love Hugh Fraser for the Christie’s but this is a delight.

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I am reading Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L Sayers. I've already mentioned I'm rereading my Lord Peter books, & this is the latest & I don't know what happened. I am seriously wondering if Dorothy Sayers actually wrote this book, it's nothing like the previous ones. It's is overloaded with timetables & train schedules, & there's absolutely no way to follow & retain any of the information. In addition, there are other characters that seem to have bigger parts than Lord Peter & Bunter, & they all speak with a Scottish accent & I can't tell what they're saying half the time. I am not enjoying this book. 

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Bought an old copy of "Sonnets from the Portuguese" today at a used book sale. I love the way it smells-that slightly musty paper smell that only an old, comfortable book can have. It's one of the reasons why I'll never  understand wanting an ebook or audio book over this. I haven't read EBB's poems in years and can't wait to read it this weekend !

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On 2/8/2020 at 4:32 PM, dubbel zout said:

I just started The Westing Game.

I LOVE The Westing Game! One of my favorite books ever. Not favorite YA, but books, full stop.

I just started Goblin Precinct, third in a series by Keith R.A. DeCandido. They're police/detective mysteries set in fantasy world of goblins, wizards, elves, etc. Nothing spectacular, but DeCandido has a snarky tone that's fun.

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On 2/14/2020 at 11:53 AM, OtterMommy said:

Currently working on Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo (the other Booker Award Winner).  I'm really enjoying it but it is one of those books that takes a lot of brain power to read.  Evaristo doesn't seem to be a fan of punctuation.  Or Capital letters.  Or sentence structure.  I don't know much about her but I'm guessing she has a foot in poetry because I get that feeling here.  It is definitely a book that requires 100% of my attention.

That ended up being my favorite work of fiction published in 2019.  I am in awe of the way she crafted so many characters with their own voice.  And then the way she weaves together time and the characters connections was pure poetry.  A deserving Booker winner and IMHO better than the other Booker winner.

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 I am reading Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L Sayers. I've already mentioned I'm rereading my Lord Peter books, & this is the latest & I don't know what happened. I am seriously wondering if Dorothy Sayers actually wrote this book, it's nothing like the previous ones. It's is overloaded with timetables & train schedules, & there's absolutely no way to follow & retain any of the information. In addition, there are other characters that seem to have bigger parts than Lord Peter & Bunter, & they all speak with a Scottish accent & I can't tell what they're saying half the time. I am not enjoying this book.


So it isn’t just me!  The only one of her stories I cannot finish.

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I think all of the offbeat stuff I like as an adult can be traced to my childhood love of The Westing Game. I still want Turtle Wexler to be my best friend.

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I'm reading it at work when things are slow, and I'm wondering if it would be better to do it all at once instead of bits and pieces? It seems tricky enough to deserve that.

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I am currently reading Toil and Trouble by Charlotte E. English, book 2 in the Modern Magick series. I took a big risk with this. I've mentioned somewhere in this thread that when I find a new series to try, I usually buy the first 3 books & then decide if I want to read further. I have been stuck with books I hate in the past when I bought more than 3 books, or bought a volume that had more than 1 story & it turned out I didn't like it. In this case, there are 10 books, but when I looked for them, I found there was a book with the first 3 stories (which was perfect), but then I saw there was also a volume 2 with 4-6, & volume 3 with 7-9. At the same time I had a 15% off coupon from Barnes & Noble, soooo, I bought all 3 books & hoped I wasn't going to get stuck with with 8 stories I hate. Luckily, I enjoyed the first one, so all is well LOL. They are an easy read, & they are also pretty short for novels, more short story-ish, which is probably why the only physical books seem to be the ones with the multi stories, all the individual books are in e form. Anyway, I am happy to have a bunch of stories to read.

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On ‎02‎/‎14‎/‎2020 at 11:53 AM, OtterMommy said:

Currently working on Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo (the other Booker Award Winner).  I'm really enjoying it but it is one of those books that takes a lot of brain power to read.  Evaristo doesn't seem to be a fan of punctuation.  Or Capital letters.  Or sentence structure.  I don't know much about her but I'm guessing she has a foot in poetry because I get that feeling here.  It is definitely a book that requires 100% of my attention.

Thanks for saving me the time.  I hate writers like that.

I just finished reading the latest in Charles Todd's Bess Crawford mystery series, A Cruel Deception.  I've always liked the main character and the WWI setting, and this one was no exception.  I found the mystery itself quite involving as well, actually better than the previous book.  And while some of my guesses about the solution were right, enough were wrong that it kept me guessing.  But I did have one complaint:

Spoiler

There's absolutely no Simon Brandon in this one.  He's mentioned a few times, and that's it.  I need at least a moderate amount of Simon per book, damn it.

 

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I finally read Ninth House. I thought it had a kind of potential that it never really lived up to? I don't know. Maybe because it's the first of a series and it seemed like the author was setting up a lot of stuff.

Anyway, after Ninth House I needed something to cleanse my palate, so to speak (because holy hell, Ninth House had some gratuituous stuff in it), so I picked up A Good Girl's Guide to Murder which is a super cute YA (yes, even though it's about a murder). It's like Veronica Mars in book form. Great female protagonist, solid supporting cast, good mystery.

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On 2/17/2020 at 11:37 AM, dubbel zout said:

I'm reading it at work when things are slow, and I'm wondering if it would be better to do it all at once instead of bits and pieces? It seems tricky enough to deserve that.

You're going to want to re-read it anyway after you finish, to pick up on all the things that will take on new meaning after you know everything.

I just finished Come Tumbling Down, the fifth and latest novella in Seanan McGuire's Wayward Children series. This one continues the story of Jack and Jill, last seen in the second novella, although unlike that one we get to see a great deal of the other children, and I found it a satisfying installment. McGuire is just so inventive.

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11 hours ago, Black Knight said:
On 2/17/2020 at 2:37 PM, dubbel zout said:

I'm reading it at work when things are slow, and I'm wondering if it would be better to do it all at once instead of bits and pieces? It seems tricky enough to deserve that.

You're going to want to re-read it anyway after you finish, to pick up on all the things that will take on new meaning after you know everything.

Thanks, @Black Knight. I think I'll take it home and read it there.

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Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson. A crime thriller set in late 1700s London, about the slave trade and the abolitionist movement. It's pretty decent and an easy read, although it seems to be the start of a 'detective' series, and I'm not sure I'm down for that.

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As I like having more than one book going at a time, I just started the third in Don Winslow's Power of the Dog trilogy, The Border. Sometimes the violence is really hard to read, but the trilogy is so, so good, as well as depressing. The War on Drugs is eternal. 

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I read Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk.  Translated from the Polish. I highly recommend it.  Fabulous writing in my opinion.  Loved the main character.  The author won the 2019 Nobel Prize for literature.

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19 hours ago, Minneapple said:

I picked up A Good Girl's Guide to Murder which is a super cute YA (yes, even though it's about a murder). It's like Veronica Mars in book form. Great female protagonist, solid supporting cast, good mystery.

Thanks for mentioning this one. I just looked it up and put it in my Kindle wishlist. It sounds promising. 

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Just finished: Conviction by Denise Mina, an early contender for the worst book I will read this year.

Where do I even start? The plot is completely nonsensical. Way too much going on. Secret identities, haunted yachts, crumbling marriages, gang rape, bankrupt sports franchises, anorexic rock stars, Russian hitmen, underwater snuff films...and, uh, Nazis, because sure why not. There was no cohesion to anything, and I couldn't spoil the ending if I wanted to because I truly don't understand what happened.

And ugh, the characters. Not a likable or interesting one among the bunch. Every choice any of them made was baffling, with no clear motivation. And they all had backstories that were five hundred miles long.

I don't think the book was edited. So many typos. I tried to be generous and assume they were just hyper local turns of phrase I was unfamiliar with (the main character is English living in Scotland) but I've read plenty of British authors and never had this problem. Some sentences were simply impenetrable. And the abundance of comma splices bordered on a hate crime.

Finally, the podcast framing was dumb. I don't think the author has ever listened to a podcast, but has maybe perhaps heard a person she shared an elevator with describe the concept to somebody else. You don't just...do a shitty voice memo on your iPhone, tweet it out, and call it a podcast episode.

0/10. Don't bother.

Next up: Mr. Nobody by Catherine Steadman

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20 hours ago, dubbel zout said:

As I like having more than one book going at a time, I just started the third in Don Winslow's Power of the Dog trilogy, The Border. Sometimes the violence is really hard to read, but the trilogy is so, so good, as well as depressing. The War on Drugs is eternal. 

I've looked at that trilogy several times, in bookshops, but feel like it's just going to be too bleak, similar to James Elroy.

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I finished Girl, Woman, Other last night and it was worth all the hard work to read it.  As I said in an earlier post, Evaristo has a very "non-standard" way of writing--minimal punctuation and capitalization and freeform paragraphs--which I find require a lot of effort to read.  But, man, that was an amazing book.  It actually made me angry again about the Booker Prize because this book, I feel, deserves all the awards and The Testaments just felt like a pandering choice ("We're going to pick a commercially successful book that rides on a current pop culture show to sound like we're hip!").

Such a Fun Age is waiting for me at the library, so that will be my next read.

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Started Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes by Kathleen West and I love it so far. It perfectly captures the absurdity of helicopter parents and privileged kids in privileged schools. 

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2 hours ago, Danny Franks said:
22 hours ago, dubbel zout said:

As I like having more than one book going at a time, I just started the third in Don Winslow's Power of the Dog trilogy, The Border. Sometimes the violence is really hard to read, but the trilogy is so, so good, as well as depressing. The War on Drugs is eternal. 

I've looked at that trilogy several times, in bookshops, but feel like it's just going to be too bleak, similar to James Elroy.

It's intense, no doubt, but the main character has a basic optimism. He's fighting the good fight for the right reasons. One thing I appreciate is that not everyone is on the take. It's not all gloom and doom.

I totally get people not wanting to invest in it, though. 

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2 hours ago, OtterMommy said:

Such a Fun Age is waiting for me at the library, so that will be my next read.

I read it, and it's really good!

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16 hours ago, helenamonster said:

Just finished: Conviction by Denise Mina, an early contender for the worst book I will read this year.

Where do I even start? The plot is completely nonsensical. Way too much going on. Secret identities, haunted yachts, crumbling marriages, gang rape, bankrupt sports franchises, anorexic rock stars, Russian hitmen, underwater snuff films...and, uh, Nazis, because sure why not. There was no cohesion to anything, and I couldn't spoil the ending if I wanted to because I truly don't understand what happened.

And ugh, the characters. Not a likable or interesting one among the bunch. Every choice any of them made was baffling, with no clear motivation. And they all had backstories that were five hundred miles long.

I don't think the book was edited. So many typos. I tried to be generous and assume they were just hyper local turns of phrase I was unfamiliar with (the main character is English living in Scotland) but I've read plenty of British authors and never had this problem. Some sentences were simply impenetrable. And the abundance of comma splices bordered on a hate crime.

Finally, the podcast framing was dumb. I don't think the author has ever listened to a podcast, but has maybe perhaps heard a person she shared an elevator with describe the concept to somebody else. You don't just...do a shitty voice memo on your iPhone, tweet it out, and call it a podcast episode.

0/10. Don't bother.

Next up: Mr. Nobody by Catherine Steadman

I thought her first book, Garnet Hill, was interesting but not as great as the reviews indicated, and I found the second book to be poorly written and the plot to be outlandish.  So I'm not surprised that her most recent book is terrible.  From the start she tried to pack too damn much crap into the plot.

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I just (accidentally) started two literary biographies at the same time.

One is Joanne Drayton's biography of Ngaio Marsh (Ngaio Marsh: Her Life in Crime).  Drayton, a New Zealander herself, also and a bit more controversially, wrote a biography of Anne Perry.  I'm not expecting this one to be controversial, but I'm looking forward to getting a bit of theatre history, since theatre was a large part of Marsh's life, and I'll also probably have to end up dipping back in to some favourite Marsh mysteries - oh, the pain of it!

The other is Peter Ackroyd's biography of Wilkie Collins for the "Brief Lives" series. Brief they may be, but Ackroyd's contributions to that series aren't dumbed down, and they leave a vivid impression, at least for me. I've read his Shakespeare, Chatterton and Poe. Still on my shelf, Chaucer, and the very un-brief biography, "Dickens", which is a doorstop of a thing that I plan to linger happily over. Ackroyd also has a good line in fiction based on writers' lives (I loved his "Last Testament of Oscar Wilde") so you have to keep that distinction firmly in mind when buying something with his name on it!

I'm reading the Collins biography because I've been reading a lot of Collins himself.  Just the other day I finished Blind Love, his very last novel; he died two-thirds of the way through the writing of it - and the serialization had already started in a magazine! - but fortunately he left very detailed notes for his friend and fellow author, Walter Besant, so the conclusion makes sense despite being in Besant's noticeably different style.

Also just finished, and still buzzing around in my brain, the complex and poetical novel about class warfare and public architecture (among other things) in 1920s and 30s Toronto, In The Skin of a Lion, by Michael Ondaatje.  So many pictures left in the mind: a nun falling off a half-finished bridge in the darkness; a convict escaping jail by being painted bright blue all over; subterranean tunnels below a marbled palace that is actually a water treatment plant - yes, that last one existed, still exists and is still very much in use.  A massively nebulous, dreamlike plot, each element of which is firmly nailed down to actual physical places and actual historical dates. I think more Ondaatje has to be in my future, though not till I've puzzled over this one some more.

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Ackroyd also has a good line in fiction based on writers' lives (I loved his "Last Testament of Oscar Wilde") so you have to keep that distinction firmly in mind when buying something with his name on it!

I have a book called Oscar Wilde and the Yellow Nineties. It doesn't explicitly say it's fictionalized but it pretty much depicts Wilde as being straight. It's evocative of the Belle Epoch but it ends up being very silly. Is the Akroyd book at least accurate?

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