As the Page Turns (the Book Thread)

puglover

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,453
Is anyone here a fan of Dervla McTiernan? She has a "Cormac Reilly" series set in Ireland that I enjoyed. I confess some of my passion for the books is probably due to my love of all things Irish.
 

Prancer

Aun Aprendo
Staff member
Messages
52,828
Is anyone here a fan of Dervla McTiernan? She has a "Cormac Reilly" series set in Ireland that I enjoyed. I confess some of my passion for the books is probably due to my love of all things Irish.
I read the first one in the series, but I found it depressing. :shuffle:

I read Every Good Boy Does Fine: A Life in Music Lessons, a combination of memoir and ruminations on classical music by pianist Jeremy Denk, last week. If I ever harbored any tiny illusions that I could be a musician, the book had to have killed them all dead, as I didn't understand much of anything he said about music. The words made sense, but the ideas? :unsure:

I really enjoyed the book, however; Denk is an excellent writer and kind of an all-around brilliant person. I borrowed the book from the library, but I bought a copy for myself. Every chapter of the book starts with a list of music that relates to whatever lessons he learns in the chapter and all of the pieces are indexed with annotations at the end. I plan to work my way through the list and see if I can finally grasp how Mozart the pragmatist twisted time while maintaining it perfectly while Beethoven the philosopher wondered if time even existed, among other things.

I'm reading Randy Rainbow's memoir right now and find it is much like watching Randy Rainbow's videos. It's all very clever and hilarious, but it is best taken in doses rather than long sessions. I still can't get over the fact that Randy Rainbow is his real name :lol:.
 

Kasey

Fan of many, uber of none
Messages
15,914
I'm currently reading "Raising a Thief" by Paul Podolsky. It's the true story of a family who adopts a Russian orphan, who turns out to have Reactive Attachment Disorder and turns a bit into a sociopath, and all that the parents do to try to help her. I'm a third of the way through it and just started it this morning; very well-written, and you definitely want to know what happens next.
 

genevieve

drinky typo pbp, closet hugger (she/her)
Staff member
Messages
40,101
Over the holidays I bought NK Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy in one freaking heavy tome - finally reading it while in Indonesia. Great storytelling, but also this is not as amazing as her Broken Earth trilogy, written later but I read it first.
 

Wyliefan

Trying to appease the skategods
Messages
35,506
I decided to try something completely different and signed up for a Substack that delivers a page of Ovid's Metamorphoses every day. I've never read all the way through a Roman or Greek epic before, only little bits of the Aeneid in high school Latin.

This one certainly is ... lively. :wideeyes: If Jupiter had ever considered keeping it in his pants (or his toga, or whatever), the entire work would be about four pages long!
 

Jenny

From the Bloc
Messages
21,599
Two recent reads that may be of interest to this group:

Out of the Corner by Jennifer Grey - I often enjoy taking a peak behind the scenes of the entertainment business, and this one covers a broad spectrum in detail - Broadway (extensive discussion of her father, Joel Grey), acting school, movies, awards shows, and eventually reality tv. It's also filled with boldfaced names, and not in a boastful way, these are people she knew and spent time with from a very young age thanks to her family's showbiz legacy, the kids she went to school with, the early acting jobs, and many romances, so that was fun. If you're looking for the full story on her infamous nose job, she gets right to it in the prologue, and then there's a lot on Dirty Dancing, and Dancing With the Stars.

The book left me thinking about the choices she made in what to include in this book and what that says. She includes her brief romance with Johnny Depp in some detail, and maybe it's because I read it during the latest trial, but it felt a bit tentative, like she was careful with her words, not to make proclamations either way about his character. Matthew Broderick does not fare so well, nor does his mother. There's a long section on their time together that I have to think he and those close to him will be very unhappy to read. Her friends are another one - her best friend since they were teenagers is the actress Tracy Pollan (Mrs Michael J Fox and sister of esteemed journalist/author Michael Pollan), and since she's barely mentioned I'm assuming that they agreed on what to include - until I got to the end and she told a really personal story about the two of them that just really surprised me. Other apparently very close friends get next to nothing in text, but are lavishly thanked at the end, while she does include some really fun stuff about the actress who went on to be Janice in Friends (spoiler alert, underage girls partying at Studio 54 in the 70s). Also lots about substance abuse, health issues, sexual exploits, the time she was on Johnny Carson, and several chapters devoted to her late life discovery of The Wonders of Motherhood.

In the end, I don't really like her as a person after reading this, but it was an interesting read. Time to rewatch Dirty Dancing, including the director's commentary, to see how much of it matches up.

Two Nights in Lisbon by Chris Pavone - If you've read any or all of his first 4 novels, it starts out like that, like a spy thriller with ordinary people who turn out to be not so ordinary caught up in it. But slowly (although this is a very fast paced book) it becomes something else, and it's incredibly well done. The opening pages give clues that this is happening in some other non-pandemic universe, but before long you see how very much grounded in the present day it is. Great writing, plotting, very cleverly done in terms of how tidbits of information are spooled out in such a way you don't even realize it, has you questioning everything, and in the end, applauding both the ending and how he got there. My only regret is that he's usually 2-3 years between books :(
 

genevieve

drinky typo pbp, closet hugger (she/her)
Staff member
Messages
40,101
@Jenny I've read all the Pavone books. Will look for this at the library when I get home in a few weeks. :cheer:
 

Baby Yoda On Skates

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,003
I just finished Kate Quinn's newest book The Diamond Eye and it was fabulous. Mila Pavlichenko just leaps from the page and Quinn's writing was so engrossing that I neglected the cleaning that I intended to get done today.

Just started The Hacienda by Isabel Canas which is billed as Mexican Gothic meets Rebecca. So far it is missing the Gothic atmosphere.
 

clairecloutier

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,339
I don't know if this should go in the politics forum or here, but it's about books, so I'll put it here.

Recently, in an effort to get more informed, I've read the the only 2 books that my library had about Ukrainian history. I thought I'd review them here, in case anyone is also interested due to current events.

The first title I read is the more recent of the two and can be found currently in bookstores: Serhii Plokhy's The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine, published in 2015. Plokhy is a history professor at Harvard, so he has good academic credentials. As well, he was born in Russia and raised in Ukraine. In his book, Plokhy provides an overview of Ukrainian history from its prehistoric beginnings to the present. He goes through every period and reviews all the major happenings. There is a lot of good information for those wanting to learn more about Ukraine. However, as might be expected when trying to review hundreds of years of happenings in 432 pages, I felt there was little but facts in this book. To me, it fell short in terms of color, context, and elucidation of larger trends. For example, there was a lot of factual recounting of the various rebellions and events involving Cossacks, but I still found myself wondering: Who were the Cossacks, exactly? Also, despite many positive advance reviews, I personally found Plokhy's writing style to be labored and colorless. I didn't enjoy it and, in the end, it took me quite a while to get through the book, despite its relative brevity.

The second title I read (Borderland: A Journey Through the History of Ukraine) is much older--originally published in 1997--and written by Anna Reid, who isn't an academic historian, but got her master's degree in history and served as Ukraine correspondent for The Economist. There is an interesting structure to this book. Reid centers each chapter around a major city in Ukraine, and uses that as a jumping-off point to explore an aspect of Ukraine's history. For example, she starts her seventh chapter in Ivano-Frankivsk, a town near the Polish border whose population was once 60% Jewish. She uses that connection to explore the long and difficult history of the Jewish population in Ukraine as a whole, and the terrible experience of the Holocaust in Ukraine. It's an interesting way to structure the book, and I found it effective. Reid's book is shorter than Plokhy's and has much less detail, but IMO a much better sense of overall trends and their significance in Ukrainian history. As an example, her take on the Cossacks, if colorful, left me with more of an impression of who they actually were than Plokhy:

"The Cossacks are to the Ukrainian national consciousness what cowboys are to the American ... They attracted runaways of every class and nationality--escaped serfs, indebted nobles, defrocked priests ... These makeshift frontier communities turned into a semi-independent society with its own elected leaders, 'hetmans' and 'otomans.' ... Despite Ukrainian wishful thinking, Cossackdom never formed anything approaching a state in the modern sense--no borders, written laws. As Zamoyski says, the Cossacks were not a people, but a way of life."

Of course, there is much in the book about Ukraine's relationship with Russia, and some of it is a bit eerie to read from the standpoint of the current war. I found her take on the two countries' relationship to be very interesting, perhaps helpful in understanding Russians' attitudes toward the war, and worth a long quote here:

"What affected Ukrainians [most] was the beginning of 'Russification,' the insidious centuries-long process whereby not only the Ukrainians' political institutions, but their culture and identity, were fitted to the Russian mold.

Russification did not only happen in Ukraine. All the nations of the empire suffered it, under tsarism as well as Communism. But Russification was more determined and successful in Ukraine than elsewhere. First, Ukraine joined the empire early. Ukraine thus became to Russians what Ireland and Scotland were to the English--not an imperial possession, like Canada or India, but part of the irreducible centre, home. Hence Lenin's (probably) apocryphal remark that 'to lose Ukraine would be to lose our head.'

Second, Russians regarded--and still regard--Ukrainians as really just a subspecies of Russian in the first place. Rather than attacking Ukrainians as inferior, therefore, Russians deny their existence. Ukrainians are a 'non-historical nation,' the Ukrainian language a joke dialect ... The very closeness of Ukrainian and Russian culture, the very subtlety of the differences between them, is an irritation. Why Lithuanians and Kazakhs refuse to consider themselves Russians is perfectly obvious. But that Ukrainians should choose to do the same is simply infuriating."

Anyhow, I recommend both books if you want to learn more about Ukraine, but I'd recommend Reid's over Plokhy's if you just want to get a general sense of things. I found it a much more interesting book.

I read the 1997 version of Reid's book because that's what my library had available. But in the course of writing this, I see that she issued an updated version of the book in 2015. So that version is probably even better.
 

PrincessLeppard

Holding Alex Johnson's Pineapple
Messages
27,766
@clairecloutier Plokhy's book on Chernobyl is very factual, too; that must be his thing. I still enjoyed the book, though. I've read Reid's book, but somewhere in the early 2000s, so I should probably look at the updated version as well.

Where are my Cold War junkies? Checkmate in Berlin is a factual account (relying on diaries and declassified materials) of Berlin from the end of WWII to the end of the Berlin Airlift. I really enjoyed it and found one section particularly resonant. The blockade of Berlin effectively ended the threat of communism in the west. Any good will anyone had towards Stalin at that time was gone; it was a terrible miscalculation. Sort of like Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Both leaders thought the other side would break quickly.

In the more ridiculous fiction arena, I read Falling, which was sent to me by @peibeck. He is absolutely correct that it is cheesy in the extreme and I have no doubt that at some point it will be made into an equally cheesy movie. Which I will undoubtedly go see :lol: I think the main problem was the message the writer was trying to send. The terrorists weren't evil; they were trying to jar Americans out of their comfort zone and make them realize people around the world suffer the consequences of American leaders decisions. (In this case, it's Trump's abandonment of the Kurds.)(The author doesn't mention Trump by name. I found that interesting. I'm still pondering the reason, because Reagan gets called out later.) I mean, it's a good message, but it's probably not the right medium and let's face it, look at the people in the US who won't get the vaccine or wear a mask. We don't even care about each other, much less people in other countries. ("We" in general; not the mostly awesome people on FSU :) )
 

skategal

Bunny mama
Messages
9,880
I finished “Where the Crawdad’s Sing” just in time for the movie to be released tomorrow.

Anyone else binging the book in anticipation of the movie?

I’ve started reading the Jenny Han YA Summer Series after watching the adaptation on Netflix of book 1 “The Summer I turned Pretty.”

The book is better than the series.
 

Prancer

Aun Aprendo
Staff member
Messages
52,828
I finished “Where the Crawdad’s Sing” just in time for the movie to be released tomorrow.

Where the Crawdads Sing Author Wanted for Questioning in Murder

I remember this Turning Point episode, but I never made the connection.

I also found this interesting. I vaguely knew that Go Ask Alice was a fake, but had no idea of the backstory. I think I was 12 or 13 when I read it and it really affected me. When I first heard it was a fake, I was quite a bit older and thought, "Well, of course it was" as soon as I thought about it, but up to that point, I always counted that book as one of my top young adult reads.
 

Susan1

Well-Known Member
Messages
11,549
I also found this interesting. I vaguely knew that Go Ask Alice was a fake, but had no idea of the backstory. I think I was 12 or 13 when I read it and it really affected me. When I first heard it was a fake, I was quite a bit older and thought, "Well, of course it was" as soon as I thought about it, but up to that point, I always counted that book as one of my top young adult reads.
I read the book more then once after it came out. I saw the movie on t.v. I never knew it was advertised as being true. It was a cautionary drug "story". (Every time I hear Dear Mr. Fantasy by Traffic, I still think of that movie because they were all lying around stoned in a room full of pillows when that song was playing.) These stories were all over the place by then. Remember the movie Maybe I'll Come Home in the Spring that was on t.v. about that time? (I don't know how old you are.) Same kind of thing. Sally Field was the druggie teenager. There were Afterschool Specials. I think Scott Baio was a druggie in one of them. I guess plenty of people knew people who were into the drug scene or ran away from home never to be seen again and knew how to make the stories realistic. I sure didn't know anybody. My friends' older sisters were all in the band and a cheerleader and National Honor Society and stuff. Maybe they tried pot (what do the "kids" call it now?) at band camp or something, but you didn't see people taking LSD behind the school or trying to get little kids to buy it. We all liked the psychedelic music of the time. If they wrote a movie about the 70's teen drug scene now, it would look so fake.
 
Messages
9,121
My boss gave me One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle for my birthday and I read it while I was camping last weekend. Admittedly, I’m not generally a fan of books like that but I gave it a shot. If I had had anything else with me, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to finish it. The main character has such a messed up relationship with her mom and has zero self awareness about it, which took me right out. She’s pretty awful in so many ways. I could not relate at all and I had zero sympathy for her. Also,
time travel
especially to avoid consequences is irritating and lazy. I rolled my eyes a lot. The only redeeming quality was the descriptions of the food and setting. I was transported from my soaking wet travel trailer to Positano and it made me hungry.
 

PrincessLeppard

Holding Alex Johnson's Pineapple
Messages
27,766
I finished Where the Crawdads Sing and the twist at the end? No. Just...no.

I mean, I figured Kya was the murderer (why else would the necklace be missing?) but for all the reasons presented at the trial, it's just not possible. Someone who lived in a swamp knew enough to have TWO disguises ready? How did she get the dude out there? If she was so smart as to wear a disguise, why not leave it on in the boat on the way to the tower? How did she know to wipe down the fingerprints? And don't get me started on the damn hat. Did she headbutt him off the tower?

Maybe they'll clean some of that up in the movie.

I blame @peibeck for making me read this.
 

skategal

Bunny mama
Messages
9,880
I thought it was a mediocre book with a split personality: gorgeous nature writing shackled to a nonsensical plot. I just couldn’t with that stupid plot.
I was disappointed with the love story plot line as well.

Hoping the movie will improve on that.
 

Prancer

Aun Aprendo
Staff member
Messages
52,828
I finished Where the Crawdads Sing and the twist at the end? No. Just...no.
It took you all the way to the ending to say no? I was saying no at the very beginning. And I thought my eyes were going to roll right out of my head when Tate taught her how to read and she was reading college textbooks within six months. She was 14!
I thought it was a mediocre book with a split personality: gorgeous nature writing shackled to a nonsensical plot. I just couldn’t with that stupid plot.
ITA. I have no desire to see the movie. I was thinking of joining a local book club a while back but decided NO when I saw that they were reading the book for the third time because they all loved it so. To each her own and all, but definitely not for me.
 

mattiecat13

Well-Known Member
Messages
566
At best, Crawdads was a mediocre book that I would never recommend to anyone. I can’t believe it’s been on the bestseller list for so long. :blah:
 
Last edited:

genevieve

drinky typo pbp, closet hugger (she/her)
Staff member
Messages
40,101
That book was in my library’s peak picks for so long and I kept thinking should read it, but every time I read the blurb I gave it a pass. The notoriety of the author doesn’t even make me want to read (or see) it.
 

Prancer

Aun Aprendo
Staff member
Messages
52,828
I hate time travel plots.
Me, too.

Some other things I've read lately that did not involve crawdads or time travel:

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right: Sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild was living and working in Berkeley and talking to her friends on the left about the great question--why do so many people vote against their own interests? She traveled to Louisiana, the state with the highest population of Tea Partiers (this is a rather aged book, relatively speaking), to find out, focusing on the single political issue of pollution. Near the end of her study, Trump entered the Presidential race, which was discussed in the initial edition of the book. In the edition I read, she went back to Louisiana to talk to her subjects about Trump as President. I found the book interesting and much of it rang true as far as people and politics go; it also made me both want to go to Louisiana and stay far, far away.

Book Lovers: Another Emily Henry romcom about people who live for books--in this case, an editor and an agent. I enjoyed the snarky dialogue and she hasn't yet fallen into the trap of writing the same story with the same characters, but I can see it coming.

Something Wilder: you have to suspend belief rather a lot, but it's all good fun as a pair of exes go off on a treasure hunt. The authors say that they wanted to do something just for fun during the pandemic and were inspired by movies like Romancing the Stone; it shows. One of my favorite bits in the book is that a clue is written in ASCII code and no one can figure it out or read it; my husband had a license plate for many years that was an obscene message in ASCII code and the state license bureau never did catch it.

The Duchess Countess: a biography of Elizabeth Pierrepont, the Duchess of Pierrepont or perhaps the Countess of Bristol, depending on which of her marriages you count, or the Duchess Countess, as she was derisively described by Walpole. She was convicted of bigamy in 1776 in a trial that was the talk of England. The author describes her as "obviously flawed and complex — by turns brave, reckless, insecure, loving, greedy, resilient, depressive," but also a woman who refused “to accept the female status of underdog or to hand over all the power, the glory, and the adventures of life to men.” The most interesting part of this book for me is the parallels to celebrity culture of today. Elizabeth was ahead of her time, in ways that were both tragic and beneficial.

I am about to start on The Ceely Rose Murders at Malabar Farm, which was one of the books recommended by Ohio librarians in a link I posted a while back about books that best explain each state. I don't especially want to think about the implications of a story about a murderous teenager being a book that best explains my state, so I will say only that until I read the piece I linked, I had never heard of Malabar Farms or Ceely Rose, and now I want to go take a look, as both the farm and Ceely Rose's house are still there to be seen.

Speaking of that link, I also read Deer Season, a book that was listed as one explaining Nebraska. A young woman in found dead along the road; suspicion immediately falls on a young brain-damaged man who makes an easy scapegoat--and there is reason to think he may have done it. Or did he? I thought this was a book that captured the blessings and curses of rural life well, but I might be biased as I know the author a bit.

And Remarkably Bright Creatures just landed in my Libby app, so I guess that will be up right after Ceely Rose--or in place of Ceely Rose, as I have some doubts about the writing of that one. But we shall see.
 

Japanfan

Well-Known Member
Messages
25,220
I hate time travel plots.
I'm reminded of 12 Monkeys, the TV series.

I think the writers just put a whole bunch of dates up on a board, and threw darts at them to determine the next one.

I gave up on trying to make sense of the plot.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top
Do Not Sell My Personal Information