New Book Thread because somebody' has got to do it

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by rfisher, May 14, 2013.

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  1. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

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    Good to know, IceAlisa. A friend of mine keeps urging me to read Bleak House. My experience with Dickens has been hit-and-miss. I thought Little Dorrit was a dreadful bore; ditto A Tale of Two Cities; Great Expectations and Oliver Twist were okay; I actually liked The Old Curiosity Shop, Hard Times, and Dombey and Son.
     
  2. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Épaulement!!!

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    I started Great Expectations and put it down after about 10 pages years ago. But this is different, absorbing even. And the sense of humor, that's one way to get me to finish a book. :) I think you may like it. What attracted my attention are the opening paragraphs-- amazing writing.
     
  3. dbell1

    dbell1 Well-Known Member

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    Library opened up again yesterday. :cheer2: Gas leak with 10 fire trucks outside closed the place on Wednesday. :yikes:

    Picked up 3 new books, and 1 hold. Hold is done already "The Last Original Wife" by Dorothea Benton Frank. I knew going in that it was a mature chick lit book. 59+ year old 'original' wife has a disinterested husband who wants a trophy wife like his friends have, 2 ungrateful greedy 30+ 'kids' who mooch, and a gay brother she hasn't seen because hubby hates him. Predictable plot - she discovers they're worth $22 million, despite his making her clip coupons and drive an old car, so she leaves for Savannah and brother's house, falls in love with her old high school sweetheart while hubby realizes how fabulous she is. It's always easier to rebuild your life with $10M. :p

    Next up "The Beautiful Mystery" by Louise Penny. Seems to be the latest in a series I've never heard of. After that is "A Walk Across the Sun". And "The Interestings" is ready at the library. Wish they'd had it yesterday afternoon when I was there.
     
  4. Impromptu

    Impromptu Well-Known Member

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    Ooooh, Louise Penny is great... but I'd really recommend starting the Inspector Gamache series from the beginning, because there's some intense character development that goes from book to book (and also a big spoiler in the middle of the series that could skew your enjoyment of the first couple of books).
     
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  5. dbell1

    dbell1 Well-Known Member

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    Impromptu - I finished it last night! I had no idea it was a series until I was home with the book. Love her writing style. I normally avoid long series - I have commitment issues. :lol: But, now I'll be reading the books from #1.

    Amazon has a kindle deal going on - voucher for $1.00 with 40 books to choose from. Picked up "In the Land of the Long White Cloud".
     
  6. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Épaulement!!!

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    My experience with very prolific writers and especially writers who write for a living (Maugham, JCO) is that sometimes you read a book of theirs and feel it was written solely because they were short on cash and needed to make a mortgage payment. IOW, really below their standard. I don't know much about Dickens (paging Wyliefan) but I do know he was prolific so it's almost inevitable that some works would be superior to others. His sense of humor is :rofl: in Bleak House.
     
  7. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    Dickens' books were first published as serials in the penny magazines of the day.
    He was the 19th century equivalent of some of the authors discussed here.
     
  8. LilJen

    LilJen Well-Known Member

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    Read Dreams of Joy by Lisa See (sequel to Shanghai Girls). Gripping story and :eek: details (I'm assuming based on historical accounts) of famine during the Great Leap Forward in China.

    Also read Elizabeth Peters' Crocodile on the Sandbank. Quite hilarious--Amelia Peabody is quite a character.

    REALLY must go to the library!!! Have been rereading stuff that's lying around the house.

    Is it legal here to advertise for a book that's being Kickstarter'd? (Mods, please remove if I've transgressed.) Anyway, dh has written & illustrated a VERY funny book and has decided to sell it through Kickstarter. Hardcover scratch & sniff in rhyming verse!!! The title? Animal Gas.
     
  9. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

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    Finally finished "The Flanders Panel"...took me forever! It wasn't a hard read at all, but the pacing was slow, and as michiruwater (I think?) mentioned, there were two separate mysteries. Halfway through the book I couldn't imagine what could possibly take over a hundred more pages to say, but it picked up. The ending is a bit pat, and a bit dated as well (written c. 1990), but it was a different twist on murder.

    Now I'm on to "Beautiful Ruins", which I picked up because it looked like a fun beach read for people who aren't at the beach. Really liking it so far, I think it will be a very quick one. :summer:
     
  10. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    :cheer2: Attagirl!!!! :cheer2:
     
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  11. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

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    I agree the Gamache books should definitely be read in order.

    BTW I spotted that CBC has produced a TV series based on the books, to air in the fall. And funnily enough, Gamache will be played by Nathaniel Parker, who played Inspector Lynley in the tv adaptation of another of my favourite mystery series, the Elizabeth George books. (I thought he was completely wrong for Lynley, but I think he might be an okay Gamache.)

    Of course we all know that screen adaptations of beloved books are often disappointing, but I have an almost insatiable appetite for murder mysteries in either print or visual form, so I'll give it a go.
     
  12. zaphyre14

    zaphyre14 Well-Known Member

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    Peters is one of my favorite authors. The Amelia Peabody series goes on forever; I really liked it up until a point (I don't want to give too much away) but the last few volumes (concerning WWI) haven't been to my taste. I love her Vicky Bliss series and there is a connection, albeit slim, to the Peabody books, which is fun to trace.

    I'm reading a bunch of "cozy" mysteries. Nothing spectacular but it's too hot to do anything that might overheat my brain.
     
  13. attyfan

    attyfan Well-Known Member

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    I agree with you about Peters and the Amelia Peabody series. I don't care that much for the Vicky Bliss books, but she has a third series character, Jacqueline Kirby, that I really like. Her "Murders of Richard III" is great (focuses more on a fictional crime; the question of "who killed the princes" is discussed, but is not the key issue)
     
  14. dbell1

    dbell1 Well-Known Member

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    Just finished "The World Without You" last night. A bit dated even though it was just published last year. It's the story of a journalist's family meeting for a memorial in 2005, a year after his death in Iraq. 3 sisters, their spouses, his widow, his parents, all with their own flaws and issues. Liked it, but the author seemed determined to toss in 'dictionary' words every few paragraphs. If you're a Republican, I'd advise skipping it, the mother in the book has spent a year speaking out against Bush and the war. :shuffle:

    "A Walk in the Sun" could have been brilliant. It's the story of 2 sisters from India who lose their parents and house in the 2004 tsunami. They're kidnapped while trying to get to their school and sold into the sex trade. Interspersed with a hero lawyer who's disenchanted with life. Implausible plots, it went on way too long, and you could tell the author wrote it with a movie in mind. After the one sister was sold for the 5th time, I was totally over the book.

    Waiting at the library is "The Girls of Atomic City" and the first 2 Louise Penny Gamache books. In soon, I think, are "Joyland" and "The Son" (and another 10 still on the hold list)

    Currently reading "The Interestings" by Meg Wolitzer. I was on the list for it forever at the library. Not sure yet if I like it. The adults seem to complain a lot.
     
  15. quartz

    quartz turn around turn around it's on the other side

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    My reading time is pretty diminished right now, and the books I really want to read are for the most part longer and more involved, and so they will have to wait until my life settles down somewhat.

    So, I picked up a couple of Agatha Christie books, as they are short and quick, and I have always, "someday", planned to read her. I am really disappointed that I did not care for them at all. :shuffle:
     
  16. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

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    Some are definitely better than others ... but I agree.

    I give all kinds of props to Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie for essentially inventing and then perfecting the genre of detective fiction ... but I have to say I'm just not a fan of their books. Conan Doyle in particular, when I tried re-reading him recently: still fantastic characters, but just plain awful writing (by today's standards). Christie's writing is better, as are her story ideas, but they still are pretty low on my list of preferred mystery writers.
     
  17. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    I still enjoy Christie - her mysteries are more complex than most, which allows me the opportunity to reread ones I read years ago and still be surprised :) There was a publisher a few years back who put out fascimile editions in hardcover with the original dust jackets, texts etc, so I picked up about 10 of my favourites. I also enjoy the David Suchet series very much.

    Which ones did you read quartz? Maybe some of us can recommend others.
     
  18. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

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    I adore Agatha Christie...but the later books were definitely more than a little formulaic. Fans mostly still read/enjoy them, but they don't hold a candle to the earlier books, which had more distinct personality to them. The same thing happened with Dick Francis - his earlier books were gripping, and there are some I reread every few years just because...but the last 10+ years of his life the books seemed to be created by a DickFrancisPlotGenerator 3000: take one genial everyman + family involved in a specific career or hobby different than anything protagonist currently does (must have one good looking but not too glam adult daughter or sister) + horses + murder = best seller. Romance recommended but not required.

    going back to Christie, there are also the Marple vs Poirot camps.
     
  19. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

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    I also love Christie. I haven't read them all and the ones I have read were all highly recommended so I have yet to read one I did not thoroughly enjoy. I also love how easy they are to read. If I had a day off I could finish one in a day and I am, by no means, a super fast reader.

    I finished the first Game of Thrones and need to start #2. Taking a couple of days off. I loved the first one but for some reason I am not excited to begin #2. I guess I just need to push through so I can get to book #4 and begin enjoying story lines not seen on the show.
     
  20. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    genevieve, I have always enjoyed Marple AND Poirot - I choose depending on mood. Agree with you about the later books - my faves are 30s-early 50s. After that she got a bit political rather than the classic manor house or village murder. Basically, if there's a map and/or floor plan, I'm in :lol:

    I read an article awhile back that suggested that she may have had early stage Altzheimer's in later years and it can be detected in her writing. No idea on this, but wonder if she might've had an assistant in later years too, who might have been doing some of the writing.
     
  21. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    My all time favourite is A Murder is Announced - it's a Marple, typical village story, bit of humour here and there, classic multi-layered solution. I've probably read it a dozen times, even though I know whodunnit.
     
  22. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

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    Well, there's a very specific reason for that: the death of his wife Mary. He initially credited her with "research" but later it was revealed that she was a writing collaborator. After her death in 2000 he tried co-writing with his son Felix (credited) and the results were, as you say, highly formulaic. A shame to go out on a low, though, since for nearly 40 years he (they) churned out a fantastic canon of works that had a surprising range considering they all share the horse theme in one way or another.

    I'm glad I found Dick Francis in high school -- it was his books that got me addicted to the mystery genre.

    BTW, in Christie, I'll take Marple over Poirot any day. (And in the TV adaptations, it has to be Joan Hickson. Julia McKenzie is second choice. Geraldine McEwan sets my teeth on edge.)
     
  23. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

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    Oh good grief ... I now have the theme song for Poirot (the David Suchet series) in my head ...
     
  24. PrincessLeppard

    PrincessLeppard Pink Bitch

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    I will check that one out. My favorite is Ten Little Indians aka And Then There Were None.

    I'm reading Patient Zero. It has zombies. :watch:
     
  25. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

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    Also my favorite. I highly suggest this one. I believe this one is one of many made into a movie.
     
  26. Prancer

    Prancer Jawwalking Staff Member

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    I would say Poe invented the Western detective story and Wilkie Collins created the classic British detective novel, and everyone else has pretty much followed their blueprints (in detective fiction, not crime fiction), including Conan Doyle (who, shall we say, flattered Poe by imitating him so well at much greater length) and Christie.

    I think Agatha Christie was a mediocre writer, but a very good crafter of puzzles with story lines. I always knew whodunnit right away in most of her books; it was the how that was interesting. I cannot stand Conan Doyle and use Sherlock Holmes in class when I need examples of faulty logic.

    Meeeeee, too. Never liked Poirot, although I don't really know why. But many of my favorite Christies were the ones that didn't feature either one.
     
  27. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    Tommy and Tuppence get my vote, even though they were in so few books (and their last one was pretty bad).
     
  28. quartz

    quartz turn around turn around it's on the other side

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    I read "A Mysterious Affair at Styles" and "Murder in Mesopotamia".
    Although I was looking for quicker, shorter reads, and they definitely filled that requirement, they just seemed a little too rushed and short on detail. I found them totally emotionless, and I didn't care about any of the characters.
    I may try the Miss Marple one that was suggested.
     
  29. Erin

    Erin Well-Known Member

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    I seem to have been on a massive reading kick lately, once I finally finished the Marie Antoinette biography that never seemed to end. First up was The History of Us by Leah Stewart for my book club, which had an interesting premise about a woman who takes custody of her nieces and nephew after their parents are killed, but it lacked a lot in the execution. The weirdest part was that the book stopped in what felt like the middle of the story and left a lot of things unresolved. Kind of disappointing. I didn't actively dislike the book, but did think it could have been a lot better.

    Also read Sophie Kinsella's The Undomestic Goddess, which I would not have read if not for the book club (and luckily next month's suggestion looks better or I might be bailing on book club). I was unimpressed with Confessions of a Shopaholic so I wasn't too excited about this one. It did end up being a pretty brainless book, as I'd expected, but it was slightly better than I had remembered Shopaholic to be, probably because I can more easily relate to a workaholic than a shopaholic. Some of the bits about chargeable hours and having to drop everything for a client request brought back many memories of my days in public accounting. Still wouldn't voluntarily read another Kinsella book, but at least it was a quick read and I was able to get it from the library so it was free.

    Also went through two Elin Hilderbrand books - Silver Girl, which was very good, and Beautiful Day, which was OK. Hilderbrand seems to be very hit or miss...my previous experience has been one good (The Castaways) and two bad (Barefoot and A Summer Affair), so now she's at a roughly 50% hit ratio for me. Beautiful Day was kind of bland, about various family dramas on a wedding day, intercut with advice from a notebook written by the bride's late mother. The notebook piece was pretty annoying and pretentious but the rest was all right. Silver Girl was much better...the main character was married to a man clearly inspired by Bernie Madoff and Hilderbrand did a good job of creating a three-dimensional character with both her and her childhood best friend.

    In between the Hilderbrand books was Kate Morton's The Distant Hours, which my mom had lent me. Probably the best book of my marathon the last two weeks. It reminded me a lot of The Thirteenth Tale, with a main character who loved to read, visiting the home of a beloved famous writer (although in this case, the writer is dead and she's visiting his daughters) and trying to solve an old mystery. I know there are a few people here who mentioned liking The Thirteenth Tale so I'd recommend this as a good companion book.

    And finally, I just finished Various Positions by Martha Schabas, which sounded interesting because it was about a 14 year-old ballerina, but then took a somewhat twisted turn as the girl kind of became sex-obsessed. Parts of it made me a bit uncomfortable to read, although I generally think it was well-written. The one thing I thought was captured very well was how awful teenage girls are to each other and there are a couple of all-too-accurate mean girl scenes (reminded me a little bit of Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye in that regard).

    Trying to figure out what's up next...a friend of mine keeps telling me that I should read James Patterson. I think it was the Women's Murder Club series that she pushed. Anyone have any thoughts? My friend and I don't seem to have very similar reading taste, so I am a little skeptical, although she did recommend Silver Girl to me and that turned out well.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2013
  30. Prancer

    Prancer Jawwalking Staff Member

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