As the Page Turns (the Book Thread)

taf2002

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I just finished reading the John Grisham novel The Firm after watching the movie adapted from it a few days ago.

The movie made better use of the material but the book had a stronger (but seriously flawed) ending.

It was interesting to see what was done to the original story. I have a vague memory of coming up with a solution all my own after reading the book 20 odd years ago, and my ego cheerfully felt that the ending I created (which I no longer remember) was superior to both the book's ending and the movie's, although the movie's was weak enough most anyone could come up with a better one.

It's always interesting to read the hot novel of 20+ years ago and see how it holds up. And Grisham's introduction, where he basically explains that in some ways the movie predates the book is genuinely interesting.
I much preferred the ending in the movie. I love Grisham but some of his endings are unsatisfying.
 

gkelly

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I much preferred the ending in the movie. I love Grisham but some of his endings are unsatisfying.
Yes, The Firm is one example that comes to my mind of a movie being better plotted than the book it was based on. Especially the ending in this case.

My other primary example is the less well known Reuben, Reuben
 

Erin

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I’ve had Hidden Figures on my “to read” list since @Prancer mentioned it ages ago, as I always enjoy getting the more detailed story in a book compared to a movie. I did find some things interesting in the book, particularly the backstory of why black women worked at NASA, which I don't recall the movie covering. That said, overall, I found the book a bit difficult to read and like it kept jumping all over the place. In the foreword, the author indicated that it was her first book and it really showed. I would probably only recommend to people with a really heavy interest in the area.

@Jenny, I finally got around to reading Someone We Know. Unsurprisingly, it was a fast and easy read. I completely agree with all of your venting from when you first read it, particularly the first point:
I was completely annoyed the longer the book went on that absolutely no one, including the detectives who were portrayed as smart and on the ball, suspected any of the women for even a second. Surely Becky, the next door neighbour madly in love with the husband, would have ample motive to kill the wife, as would any of the wives of men she was sleeping with and/or just generally causing trouble for. The block party where she was flirting with all the husbands was referred to repeatedly, and yet everyone assumes that a man must've whacked her with a hammer?

For awhile I thought the author was just doing that (and in the process making the whole thing less believable) because it was best friend Glenda the whole time. That the mysterious texts on the victim's burner phone were to her - would have fit that she was complaining that her husband was a psychopath to a woman rather than a man. Perhaps you had the same thought?

And finally (well maybe not, I could keep going!), much was made of the son breaking in and learning secrets and sending emails - that's the premise on which the book is being promoted - but that really never came to anything. He learned one secret, and he sent one set of emails related to that secret. The whole book could have been written without that storyline, and it was a wasted opportunity to make things far more complicated and interesting.
I felt like there were other plot points that were a bit wasted too and a few loose ends.
Like, for example, Robert sleeping with Becky...I assume it was revenge for Amanda sleeping with Larry but felt like they could have gone more into that. And Robert's "how would a normal husband respond?" from the beginning was never really delved into, aside from maybe that he would have wanted to kill Amanda anyway. I just felt like a lot more could have been done with Robert's character. Also not clear whether Paul really was having an affair with Amanda or not.

I still enjoyed it overall but felt like it could have been tighter.

The last read this week was The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa. It's the story of a young Jewish girl in Germany, Hannah, whose family was escaping from Germany and ended up on the MS St. Louis. Alternating chapters is the story of Anna, young a relative of Hannah's living in New York in 2014 who has had her own tragedies in life. I really like the idea of the book, and the story of the MS St. Louis is an important one to tell, but I felt like something was missing from the book. I don't know if it was because the story was mostly told through the eyes of 12 year-olds or if it was because of some problems I had with the plotting, but it wasn't as gripping as it should have been given the material it was working with. One thing I realized after reading it is that it was translated into English and appears to have originally been written in Spanish. I'm not sure if it would be any better in Spanish or not.
 

Japanfan

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I think someone in this thread recommended 'The Turn of the Key' by Ruth Ware. Excellent book, and I'm going to read the rest of her books, I think there are six or more. Am currently reading 'The Girl in Cabin 10', which is even more intriguing. The plot is so complicated I'm going to have review all the pages I've read already. Can't remember if I've ever done that before.
 

Bunny Hop

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I’ve had Hidden Figures on my “to read” list since @Prancer mentioned it ages ago, as I always enjoy getting the more detailed story in a book compared to a movie. I did find some things interesting in the book, particularly the backstory of why black women worked at NASA, which I don't recall the movie covering. That said, overall, I found the book a bit difficult to read and like it kept jumping all over the place. In the foreword, the author indicated that it was her first book and it really showed. I would probably only recommend to people with a really heavy interest in the area.
Thanks for the warning, as this is also in my 'to read' pile.
 

taf2002

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Fairly new to this thread so I don't know if this has been discussed before. I've been reading Michelle Obama's book Becoming. I had just got to the part where she falls in love with Barach & the library loan ended. I had forgotten I checked it out so when I remembered it I only had 2 days to read it. Does anyone know if it's worth checking out again? Her early life was not very interesting.
 

genevieve

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I finished The Grace Year the other day. It was a mess! A very compelling mess that I stayed up way to late to finish. It's a full-on Handmaid's Tale/Hunger Games mashup and desperately needed a dramaturg, but the core story is fascinating. Main character is one of those whipsmart not-like-the-others girls who completely misses obvious things right in front of her face. There's also a potential drinking game for every time the author mentions the smell of something.
 

mattiecat13

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I started A Game of Thrones this week. So far it’s been very interesting. I’ve never watched the TV series but just what I’ve heard/read about it has been very helpful in following the story. But I’m having to force myself from looking ahead to find out what happens to the characters!
 

genevieve

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I'll be interested what you think of the book - I read it earlier this year.
 

quartz

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weird thing: read The Family Upstairs, new book by Lisa Jewel, main part of the story is set in Chelsea in a house on Cheyne Walk, current time period and 1990’s.
Finished that and picked up Affinity by Sarah Waters - main character lives in Chelsea, on Cheyne Walk, 1870’s.
 
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Michalle

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Affinity is one of my favorite books! It's a melancholy one, though. Waters herself has said she struggled with that aspect of it, I believe.
I personally think The Paying Guests was her to some extent re-writing aspects of Affinity with a happier ending and it probably says a lot about me and my own "affinity" as a reader for sadness/melancholy that I didn't find it convincing at all comparatively. TPG was definitely more successful though, both critically and in the marketplace.
 

millyskate

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weird thing: read The Family Upstairs, new book by Lisa Jewel, main part of the story is set in Chelsea in a house on Cheyne Walk, current time period and 1990’s.
Finished that and picked up Affinity by Sarah Waters - main character lives in Chelsea, on Cheyne Walk, 1870’s.
I just read The Family Upstairs too. I was stuck at the airport last week and it was the only book in WHSmiths that didn’t look dreadful apart from War Doctor which I’d just read.
It felt like a typical airport book - the plot is really griping but not sure the writing lives up to it. Maybe after i’d just read a series of really deep books it was too much of a contrast in tone.
 
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Prancer

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Husband and I went to visit Son for the weekend to hand off Christmas things, which meant spending more time in the car getting there and back than seeing Son :p, so I popped a Bonine and read Something in the Water on the way.

I didn't realize until I was done reading that the author is an actress from Downton Abbey, but I thought all along that the book is a script waiting to happen. It's a page turner; just don't think too much, especially as the story goes on and the conveniences become more preposterously convenient.

The first couple of chapters of her next book, Mr. Nobody, were included at the end and I was suckered in and will read it, even though I reminded myself that the first chapter of this book was tremendously hooky--someone is digging a grave and finding it hard going. That someone turns out to be a woman. And it unfolds that she is digging a grave for her husband of three weeks. Gotta read on from that.

But again--don't think too much.
 

gkelly

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I have just finished reading The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson, which my sister had recommended, in part because I used to make treasure hunts with clues for my niece and nephew similar to the uncle in this book.

“Part mystery and part drama, Meyerson uses a complex family dynamic in The Bookshop of Yesterdays to spotlight the importance of truth and our need for forgiveness.” Associated Press

I guessed/figured out the big secret early on. but it's more about the emotional journey of the heroine getting there herself.
 

PrincessLeppard

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I just finished the last installment of the Scythe series, The Toll, and it was 90% brilliant. The only annoying thing was that twice Rowan could've ended everything by telling the truth, but didn't. Kind of a lame decision by Neal Shusterman, but since the rest was so good I'll let it go.
 

Prancer

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Zemgirl

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Two good writeups of the RWA controversy from romance websites:

SBTB (still adding updates)

All About Romance (no longer updated)

It's a complete debacle and clearly major changes are needed in the RWA for it to survive.

Fun fact: Courtney Milan is a skating fan (and a Fanyu) and was at several competitions this season.
 

VGThuy

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I just read Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, and I loved the blunt prose it is written in. The book itself won a few awards, gained great reviews both in Japan and Western media, and was a huge bestseller in Japan.

It's about this "abnormal" thirty-six year old Japanese woman who works part-time as a convenience store worker who does not know how to function as a "normal" person. Her thoughts and observations about other people and life are incredibly insightful and hilarious. Sometimes veering towards psychopathic.

She's quite happy with her existence because the convenience store gives her a sense of purpose and structure. She knows who she is at the convenience store and she functions very well there, so she has no feelings of insecurity or weirdness she has with the outside world. But the people in her life are not happy with her circumstances, and that causes her to reexamine her life and inspires her to "cure" herself.

It touches upon a lot of relevant themes, many of which seem Japanese-specific (especially as they are having a panic of more and more young people preferring to retreat into the safety of isolation of watching tv/movies, play video games, browse the Internet rather than socialize, make romantic connections, and reproduce causing people to worry about Japan's population decline), but I believe we all can relate to it. There's much more I want to write about it, but I rather not spoil it for you.

I will say that it is really a celebration of people who truly do not fit in with society, but it is also unsettling as well.

Apparently, Murata has written 10 novels prior to this one, but this is the first one to be translated into English. She herself worked in a convenience store for 18 years.

I also learned that convenience stores in Japan are very convenient. Not only is it a store to buy food (Japanese convenience store food seems a cut above American ones), but you can drop-off or pick-up deliveries there, pay utility bills, use copy/fax machine, and buy tickets and such for events or public transportation.
 
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PrincessLeppard

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I checked out "Unf*ck your Habitat" from the library. I'm not a total slob, but because I'm so tired much of the time, things do pile up.

It's a super fast read, as not all sections will apply to everyone's situation, but her ideas that I'm trying to implement are to immediately put everything away (I am TERRIBLE at this) and if a task is overwhelming (cleaning the kitchen, for example ), use the 20/10 method. Work on something for 20 minutes, then take a ten minute break. You can do this as many or as few times as you want/need. I actually got the kitchen clean in that 20 minutes, and today, I worked on some lesson plans using this. It was helpful.

Let's see if I can keep this up. :p
 

Prancer

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immediately put everything away (I am TERRIBLE at this)
LOL! Several years ago, I read something on the web that said, essentially, "If you have a clutter problem, all you need to do to correct it is follow one rule--never put anything down with the intention of putting it where it belongs later."

This seems SO OBVIOUS when you think about it, but at the time, it was a huge revelation for me :lol:.

It works, too. Except that, you know, lapsing :shuffle:.
 

agalisgv

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Read November Road by Lou Berney. I liked his previous book, The Long and Faraway Gone, so gave this a try. It wasn’t a murder mystery exactly (which I tend to like), but still good. It’s set in the 1960’s, and revolves around the assassination of JFK. It gives an alternate account of events, which turns out to be fairly well-researched. There are mystery components, but it’s more a crime thriller. Anyhow, it was enjoyable reading that didn’t have lagging sections. I recommend it.
 

Zemgirl

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Major uproar for the Romance Writers of America over racism:
Much of the RWA people responsible for this mess still refuse to resign. They have, however, given in to the inevitable and cancelled this year's RITAs.
 

genevieve

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I just read Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, and I loved the blunt prose it is written in. The book itself won a few awards, gained great reviews both in Japan and Western media, and was a huge bestseller in Japan.
I wondered how this book got on my library list. I just finished it, and found it interesting - although do not understand the many reviews I've found that describe how hilarious the book is. I saw it more as an examination of immense societal pressure through the lens of autism/neuroatypicality, and the taboo of said conditions. The protagonist has some great/blunt observations about how people interact. The first half was a great set up for the character, and the "action", as it were, of the 2nd half felt too rushed. I wish the ending had gone on just a bit longer, for instance - I was left with too many practical questions!

Definitely worth a read.

I also read Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of The Dead by Olga Tokarczuk this week. The protagonist is a fascinating and frustrating narrator, and the book reminded me a little of the first Agatha Christie mystery I read. The most unexpected and satisfying thing about this book - and in a very different way, also somewhat true in CSW above - is how such an anti-social outsider can actually have a fairly strong community. This book held lots of little surprises throughout, although the main plot resolution was very straightforward and inevitable.
 
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PrincessLeppard

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I'm alternating between two books. A Warning by Anonymous (and holy shit! I mean, it doesn't really say anything that we don't already suspect we know, except that in parts the writer tries to support Trump) and Manual for Survival by Kate Brown which is about the medical aftermath of Chernobyl (WHAT? PL reading a book about Chernobyl? so weird!) and also HOLY SHIT most of southern Belarus should've been evacuated, but Moscow just kept raising the "acceptable" level of radiation until the area was deemed "safe."

Welp.
 

Erin

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9,569
I've mostly been abandoning books that I've started lately because they have been disappointing and I haven't had time with all the skating on. One book that I did finish was The Suspect: An Olympic Bombing, the FBI, the Media, and Richard Jewell, the Man Caught in the Middle. The lengthy title makes it pretty obvious what the topic is - the book was used as one of the sources in the recent Richard Jewell movie. Even though I obsessed over the Atlanta Olympics, I didn't remember a ton about the bombing situation other than that it happened, so it was really interesting for me to learn more about it from a number of different angles - Jewell, the press, the FBI. The first two thirds of the book was really strong. It became a little slower at the point when Jewell was no longer a suspect, covering information about the actual bomber and how he was caught plus following the rest of the lives of the three major subjects of the book (Jewell, journalist Kathy Scruggs, and FBI agent Don Johnson). It was still good, just not quite as compelling as the earlier sections.

Books I didn't finish include The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy. Super interesting topic, but his writing style made it so hard for me to keep up. Too much detail and the narrative went all over the place. I'm also probably going to give up on Where the Crawdads Sing, as I'm several chapters in and just can't get into it and the reviews here aren't convincing me it's worth it to stick with it.
 

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