As the Page Turns (the Book Thread)

Erin

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9,240
Have you read any of her romance novels? She published those as Victoria Dahl (which may be her real name, I'm not sure).
No, I’ve seen in her bio that she publishes under that name but have been ambivalent about checking them out as genre romance novels aren’t really my thing. Now that I’m back at work, I also have too many things too read anyway (although in spite of that, I spent the weekend rereading two Maeve Binchy books instead of the metaphorical pile of new books I have that are waiting to be read. But that’s ok...it was nice to wax nostalgic on my teenage reading material)
 
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Habs

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5,320
@Habs and @puglover how was Mrs Everything? It sounds really interesting
I'm not quite finished (because, you know... life), but I only have around 45 pages or so left.
I've really been enjoying it. It's a bit of a deep dive with serious subject matter. I've found it to be really enthralling.
 

Michalle

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1,910
I'm two-thirds through "The Blind Assassin" by Margaret Atwood, and echoing what others have said in this thread before, it's good but the sub story in the sub story is really annoying.
It is such a frustrating trait of contemporary literature that authors feel under pressure to skip between time periods, storylines and dimensions in every single novel... it makes me long for a good old Agatha Christie.
This is funny because there are so many stories that I have no idea which one you don't like! I think I liked the sub story and the sub sub story but not the framing device, i.e. the part that was actually in the present tense? That is where I often have problems with contemporary literature, where instead of just telling the story that feels the most interesting to me as it happens, they have a narrator in the present flashing back to that story or framing that story so it ends up feeling less immediate.

I just read the first of the Inspector Gamache novels. I wasn't 100% sold but I liked it enough to read another.
 

Prancer

Needs More Sleep
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It is such a frustrating trait of contemporary literature that authors feel under pressure to skip between time periods, storylines and dimensions in every single novel
Is that because they feel pressure or they prefer writing that way? I've always thought the latter, given that there are so many novels that are just straight narratives.
 

Erin

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9,240
The Blind Assassin has so much potential and there are some really great parts in there but other parts that really miss. It’s been many years since I read it but my recollection is that I feel like there are four pieces that need to be evaluated separately:

1. The present tense framing device where Iris is an old lady
2. The past where Iris and Laura are growing up and young adults, through to Laura’s death
3. Laura’s posthumously published Blind Assassin novel, which was kind of a framing device for #4
4. The sci-fi story within the Blind Assassin in novel that the man tells his lover

#2 was the really compelling story to me and the only one that really held my interest. #1 was mostly inoffensive and I can kind of understand the purpose of it, but probably could have been done with a chronological timeline and/or trimmed down significantly. This section reminded me a lot of The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence, which I had to read in high school and was equally meh on. #3 was was pretty boring and is basically only there for framing #4 and one important plot point that becomes apparent through it but could have been revealed another way (or could have trimmed it down). And I hate sci fi, so I could barely read #4. I’m sure there was also some symbolism that came through. But to me it wasn’t worth it.

In spite of all of this, I would say this is Atwood’s second best novel after The Handmaid’s Tale. Which probably speaks more to the strength of the story of #2 above, which I really did like.
 

millyskate

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13,282
This is funny because there are so many stories that I have no idea which one you don't like! I think I liked the sub story and the sub sub story but not the framing device, i.e. the part that was actually in the present tense? That is where I often have problems with contemporary literature, where instead of just telling the story that feels the most interesting to me as it happens, they have a narrator in the present flashing back to that story or framing that story so it ends up feeling less immediate.

I just read the first of the Inspector Gamache novels. I wasn't 100% sold but I liked it enough to read another.
It's the mythology-inspired story that I truly dislike... I've now reached the point where it's replaced with a sci-fi alternative :lol:
Is that because they feel pressure or they prefer writing that way? I've always thought the latter, given that there are so many novels that are just straight narratives.
I admit I'm cynical by nature and also have personal experience with the way art circles work, so I'd always presumed it was by desire to win awards and been seen to fit in / highly considered by peers :slinkaway For example, there was no point trying to compose anything tonal circa 30 years ago without being physically laughed at by fellow professional musicians (neo-romantic is now enjoying a revival because music is actually meant to listened to, surprise) or impossible to take colourful "pictures with soul" (as opposed to blank face-on portraits or empty desaturated landscapes) in the last 15 years without facing the deepest scorn in the documentary photography world.... I always imagined similar constraints existed in literature. Maybe not...
 
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Jenny

From the Bloc
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20,915
In speaking with a couple of writers I know, it's fashion as much as anything. Whatever the agents think they can pitch to editors and whatever the editors think they can pitch to publishers and whatever the publishers think will sell - and not just books, but movie rights, Netflix or HBO deals, all that. It's natural that writers would feel this kind of pressure and write accordingly, or be happy to be edited to the point where their book idea actually makes it into print in the first place, and for the established writer, wanting those big deals that will take them to the next level.
 

Prancer

Needs More Sleep
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I admit I'm cynical by nature and also have personal experience with the way art circles work, so I'd always presumed it was by desire to win awards and been seen to fit in / highly considered by peers :slinkaway For example, there was no point trying to compose anything tonal circa 30 years ago without being physically laughed at by fellow professional musicians (neo-romantic is now enjoying a revival because music is actually meant to listened to, surprise) or impossible to take colourful "pictures with soul" (as opposed to blank face-on portraits or empty desaturated landscapes) in the last 15 years without facing the deepest scorn in the documentary photography world.... I always imagined similar constraints existed in literature. Maybe not...
It is possible, of course, but timing wise, I don't see this as a pressure situation. The Blind Assassin was published almost 20 years ago, when postmodernisim was fading in literary circles as it moved into mainstream publishing. She was either behind the curve or ahead of it, depending on what kind of publishing she was aiming for. But even 20 years ago, she was Margaret Atwood, and had an established distinguished writing career in which she had gone her own way. If she hadn't wanted to try that style, she certainly didn't need to. Maybe she thought she would win awards that way, but she won awards anyway.
 

oleada

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42,124
I was on vacation, which means a lot of reading.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren: I got it because it's set in Maui (and the Twin Cities @Erin). It's a romance-y beach read that's fun as long as you do't think too hard about it. There's some really unnecessary drama at the end. But it was a quick read and fairly enjoyable.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid: LOVED IT. I think I liked it better than Daisy Jones; Evelyn is a way more interesting character than Daisy. I think she Reid has such a knack for writing about pop culture stuff and if you love old Hollywood, you'll love this. I devoured it.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson: It was on the shelf at the hotel, so why not? I've been meaning to read it for a while. Honestly, it was really disappointing. I was mostly interested in the murder and less the fair, so those chapters just dragged on and on. The parts on HH Holmes felt really dramatized? cheesy? and ultimately unsatisfying. Meh.

I started Impossible Owls by Brian Phillips which reminds me of longford journalism written by David Sedaris. It's enjoyable so far.
 

Habs

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5,320
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid: LOVED IT. I think I liked it better than Daisy Jones; Evelyn is a way more interesting character than Daisy. I think she Reid has such a knack for writing about pop culture stuff and if you love old Hollywood, you'll love this. I devoured it.
I LOVED this one too! And I also liked it more than Daisy Jones (which I loved). Evelyn Hugo is a fascinating character.
 

Kasey

Fan of many, uber of none
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15,282
I just finished "The girl in the letter", by Emily Gunnis. Intriguing, and I like the writing and the voices of the characters throughout. The "twists" (one probably thought to be big, the other that goes along with it) were not at all surprising to me, as I'd figured them out well-before, and what started out as a first or second-rate mystery ended up being a low-rent thriller. Still worth the read, but the last 50 or so pages, not so much.
 

Susan1

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5,605
Has anybody read Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter? I skimmed a lot of the gross parts, but I have a question about a "twist" that had nothing to do with that and I don't want to "spoil" anybody who might read it. NONE of her other books/series are this graphically violent, so read those though!
 

Jenny

From the Bloc
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20,915
I read the latest by Victoria Helen Stone (the author of Jane Doe), False Step. The story for this one was reasonably interesting, but the protagonist was so irritating. She was really weak and sometimes stupid, which was disappointing after Jane was such a strong and smart character in Jane Doe. I do see that Stone has a future book coming out in March that features Jane again, though, so I will look forward to that.
Just finished it, very disappointing after Jane Doe, which was better written, more intricately thought out, with a much more interesting main character and a much more satisfying ending. The peripheral characters were such cliches too, even the one likeable character, the child, felt like the same kid who has appeared in so many recent novels, and for that matter, a lot of tv shows and movies too.

And I'm getting really tired of these marriages between selfish people where I'm supposed to sympathize with one or both of them and all I want to do is scream at the page saying "why don't you just try having a honest conversation with your spouse?"
 

VGThuy

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29,966
Has anyone read Ocean Vuong's novel On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous? It's about a Vietnamese-American gay man in his late 20s growing up poor in Hartford, Connecticut writing a letter to his mom who has trauma from the Vietnam War and gets into his ill-fated love affair with a "redneck" guy. I follow Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Thanh Nguyen on Twitter who introduced me to an excerpt from his novel and it was really one of the most poetic things I've read in a while. The reviews on Amazon seem to be glowing:


I just saw a clip of him on Seth Meyer's talk show and he really has a way with language. I'm going to check it out when I feel more confident I have more time to actually commit to it:

 

mpal2

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11,687
I had been so used to being county instead of city that I never checked to see if I could get a free library card. Turns out I can. Most of the audio books I wanted to start with are on hold but I found one that I thought would be cute.

The Department of Sensitive Crimes by Alexander McCall Smith

The detectives investigate 1) why a local business owner was stabbed in the back of the knee, 2) a missing imaginary boyfriend and 3) a ghost in a spa.

The first chapter is the lead detective talking to his psychiatrist about absolutely nothing. Chapter two introduces the other detectives in the most boring possible manner. Chapter three finally starts to talk about the first crime but they get distracted by describing the local business owner. He was in a different profession before and had to change professions because he had sensitive skin. Then they got off on a tangent about the soaps you need to use with sensitive skin.

At this point I quit listening to the audio book and won't bother with the rest. I don't care about the business owner's knee, the imaginary boyfriend or the damn ghost in a spa. What was supposed to be cute turned into a tedious waste of time.
 

rfisher

Let the skating begin
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60,477
I had been so used to being county instead of city that I never checked to see if I could get a free library card. Turns out I can. Most of the audio books I wanted to start with are on hold but I found one that I thought would be cute.

The Department of Sensitive Crimes by Alexander McCall Smith

The detectives investigate 1) why a local business owner was stabbed in the back of the knee, 2) a missing imaginary boyfriend and 3) a ghost in a spa.

The first chapter is the lead detective talking to his psychiatrist about absolutely nothing. Chapter two introduces the other detectives in the most boring possible manner. Chapter three finally starts to talk about the first crime but they get distracted by describing the local business owner. He was in a different profession before and had to change professions because he had sensitive skin. Then they got off on a tangent about the soaps you need to use with sensitive skin.

At this point I quit listening to the audio book and won't bother with the rest. I don't care about the business owner's knee, the imaginary boyfriend or the damn ghost in a spa. What was supposed to be cute turned into a tedious waste of time.
I have to be in the mood for McCall Smith. If the library has any of his No.1 Ladies Detective series on audio, I do recommend them just to listen to the narrator's voice. Some of his books are quirky and funny. Most are tedious and boring.
 

MacMadame

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30,334
I started reading the No. 1 Ladies Detective series and enjoyed the stories at first but the more I read, the more they were the same stories told over and over. And he overdoes quirky IMO. It's definitely not something to binge read!
 

quartz

uncultured pearl clutcher
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13,055
No. 1 Ladies Detective series were so popular for so long, and then I finally read one a couple years ago and was very meh. It was all a whole lot of character descriptions and not a whole lot of story. When I want quirky mysteries I read Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series.
 
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rfisher

Let the skating begin
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60,477
I started reading the No. 1 Ladies Detective series and enjoyed the stories at first but the more I read, the more they were the same stories told over and over. And he overdoes quirky IMO. It's definitely not something to binge read!
They are, but I find Maa Ramotswe and company like comfortable old friends to visit and have cake and tea with, sort of like what she does in the books. You do need to read them in order to know all the backstories of the various characters. All of his series are character driven rather than plot. If you like reading about Botswana, there is another police procedural set in Gabarone that is much more plot driven: The detective Kubu series by Michael Stanley. There are others as well https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/16793.Books_Set_in_Botswana

Botswana is on my bucket list of places to visit. One thing I really learned by listening to the audio books for No 1 Ladies Detective Agency is how to pronounce place and personal names. I hear the narrator's voice in my head when I read.
 

JoannaLouise

Official Toaster Oven Monitor
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If you like reading about Botswana, there is another police procedural set in Gabarone that is much more plot driven: The detective Kubu series by Michael Stanley. There are others as well https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/16793.Books_Set_in_Botswana
I like basically all detective series, so I will have to check this one out. Is this a series that needs to be read in the right order? I just looked in the catalogue for my local library, and they only have #3 and #6.
 

rfisher

Let the skating begin
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60,477
I like basically all detective series, so I will have to check this one out. Is this a series that needs to be read in the right order? I just looked in the catalogue for my local library, and they only have #3 and #6.
Not, for the plot per se, but it's helpful to know who the recurring characters are (his family, coroner and boss) and for Kubu's personality. Things happen that impact him as a detective.
 

Artistic Skaters

Drawing Figures
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7,153
Thanks to those of you who recommended Daisy Jones and the Six. I hadn't heard of it, but I reserved it after I read the comments here and thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

:lol: Eddie = Don Felder from the Eagles or Jeff Bebe from Almost Famous.
 

antmanb

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9,295
So a few years ago I read a (I think YA) trilogy by Lani Taylor that started with the Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and I really enjoyed it.

I had totally forgotten about her until I had a conversation with someone about that trilogy so I googled to see what she'd written since and downloaded Strange the Dreamer which I read most of while I was away and travelling. I really enjoy the worlds that she creates and the back stories for all the characters - I find her writing flows really well too and is easy to read (probably YA again) so perfect holiday read. I can see already that the set up for this feels very much like the set up for the Daughter of Smoke and Bone and there's going to be some kind of "forbidden" love between two different races/species again, but I am intrigued how the series will continue and end. Assuming this is also a trilogy I think the second book is out already.
 

Peaches LaTour

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Just finished reading, "The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield. I read it in less than 2 days despite the fact it is 406 pages long. I couldn't put it down. I even bought a used copy of it to loan to my sister who is a very slow reader.
 

MacMadame

Cat Lady-in-Training
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30,334
I got a $5 off coupon for the kindle version of Y is for Yesterday. So I Now I just have to actually read it.
 

PrincessLeppard

Holding Alex Johnson's Pineapple
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26,358
I just finished Cody Doctorow's Radicalized, which is actually four different stories. I really liked the first two, and want to use one of them in my class. The third story is okay and the fourth started promising, but I saw the end coming pretty quickly. If you aren't in the mood for a long, serious novel, but still want to ponder some stuff, this is an excellent book.

I'm still trying to slog my way through Midnight in Chernobyl. Such an interesting topic (and especially now that I've been there) shouldn't be this hard to get through.
 

Finnice

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I got a $5 off coupon for the kindle version of Y is for Yesterday. So I Now I just have to actually read it.
I have read (and own) all the series. I am still sad that she died before Z is for Zero. But I appreciate the family not wanting somebody else to finish it. It would have been false.
 

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