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  1. #241

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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.
    My job requires me to be a juggler, but that does not mean that I enjoy working with clowns.

  2. #242
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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.
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

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  3. #243
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    Library opened up again yesterday. Gas leak with 10 fire trucks outside closed the place on Wednesday.

    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.

    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. #244

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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).

  5. #245
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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. 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. #246
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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 in Bleak House.
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

    from Speedy Death

  7. #247

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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. #248

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    Read Dreams of Joy by Lisa See (sequel to Shanghai Girls). Gripping story and 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.
    BARK LESS. WAG MORE.

  9. #249
    drinky typo pbp, closet hugger
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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.
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  10. #250

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    Quote Originally Posted by IceAlisa View Post
    Last night I remembered that I had started Dickens' Bleak House before I left for vacation. As it goes so well with the bleak San Francisco weather, I took a break from the cyberwars of Murakami and read a few chapters.

    Well, I'll be darned!! I like this a lot, the humor, the sarcasm, the snark! Wileyfan would be proud--I stayed up until well past 1 am to read it. I like it! And I've grown up with the notion that Dickens is a dreadful bore. Go figure.
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  11. #251
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    Quote Originally Posted by Impromptu View Post
    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).
    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. #252

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    Quote Originally Posted by LilJen View Post
    Also read Elizabeth Peters' Crocodile on the Sandbank. Quite hilarious--Amelia Peabody is quite a character.

    .[/I][/URL]
    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.
    I'd rather be thought of as absolutely ridiculous than as absolutely boring.

  13. #253

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    Quote Originally Posted by zaphyre14 View Post
    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 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. #254
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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.

    "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. #255

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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.

  16. #256
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    Quote Originally Posted by quartz View Post
    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.
    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. #257
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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. #258
    drinky typo pbp, closet hugger
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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.
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  19. #259

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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.
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  20. #260
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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

    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.

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