Outside of a Dog, a Book is Man's Best Friend (The Book Thread)

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Japanfan

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I just put myself on the library hold list for Janet Evanovich's next book, which doesn't even come out till November.
Is she still writing the Stephanie Plum books?

I gave up on them a while ago because the humor was becoming old.
 

Susan1

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Is she still writing the Stephanie Plum books?

I gave up on them a while ago because the humor was becoming old.
Yeah. This is #25. I guess I have a strange sense of humor because at least once a book I have to stop reading cause I'm laughing so hard I have tears in my eyes. I didn't start reading them till #7 when someone recommended her to me at a charity used book sale. Then I had to go back and start at #1. I caught up around #11.

When they were talking about making One For the Money into a movie, we were discussing who would be good to play the characters. Sandra Bullock for Stephanie was our choice. It ended up being Katherine Heigl. I saw the movie on t.v. later and all I could think of was Izzy. And I didn't know any current male actors at the time. When I'm reading, I see Ryan O'Neil back in the 70's for Joe. I'm glad they didn't make any more movies out of her books.
 

Japanfan

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Yeah. This is #25. I guess I have a strange sense of humor because at least once a book I have to stop reading cause I'm laughing so hard I have tears in my eyes.
There is always some new funny stuff in Stephanie Plum, but I just got tired of the repeat jokes and repetitive stuff like Ranger saying "Babe" and Bob the dog eating things like cell phones.

One line in particular has stayed with me for many years.

Somebody sends Stephanie a severed penis in the mail, and when Stephanie opens the package she shows the appendage to Grandma. And Grandma says "Your grandfather had one that looked exactly the same". :D
 

Erin

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For my East Germany fans: Forty Autumns by Nina Willner. It's about a true story a family separated by the wall. I'm only halfway through, but it's super powerful and provides some insight into what it was like as noose slowly tightened on the East Germans.
I just finished this one and strongly second the recommendation - it was the first book I’ve read that talked about how it felt for ordinary East Germans as the Soviets took over. I started reading it on a plane and was almost able to read the entire book on the flight because I couldn’t put it down.

The only other reading I’ve done lately is books 3 and 4 in the Great Library series - Ash & Quill and Smoke & Iron. I started reading the first book, Ink & Bone, as a result of a quiz a bunch of us did in this thread that suggested a new book to read (I don’t even think that was my book but it still sounded interesting). It’s a YA series that was supposed to be a trilogy but now has expanded to 5 books and is built on the premise that the Great Library in Alexandria never burned down and runs the world. And of course, there is a romance, but at least no love triangle. The series is pretty well done and I’m glad I’ve stuck with it, although the problem with starting the series before all the books are written is that I keep forgetting that I need to go back and read the next book. I’m not as interested in some of the weird alchemy type stuff in the book but that’s ok. I felt like Ash & Quill was one of the weaker books in the series but Smoke & Iron had a nice twist where it showed multiple perspectives (versus just one limited third person from the previous books). The characters are all pretty interesting and well-developed. I do wish it had stuck to a trilogy, but more because I hate suspense and just want resolution to the series.
 

antmanb

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I bought a bunch of books for my kindle for my holiday and carried on reading after I got back. The trouble with reading books on my kindle is that I never know the name of the book i'm reading and when I read loads they all tend to merge into one.

I know I read a bunch of thrillers (my go to holiday reads) that were all filled with characters I hated, but which did entertain me....but they all meld into one.

I read Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch the 5th (?) Peter Grant novel and honestly I was pretty bored reading. I don't know if part of it was that it wasn't set in London and he always does a great job of bringing London to life, or that it didn't really fit into the greater ongoing plotlines at all but I found the story pretty weak and boring even though there was his usual great humour throughout it.

I also read the Party by Elizabeth Day which I generally did enjoy and it looks at the privilege that white boys that attend certain schools have and continue to have throughout their lives. Some of the look back at boarding school almost gave me PTSD remembering - it was very well observed. The only thing that completely misses the mark is
the fact that the main character going to an all boys boarding school would have been absolutely bullied to death if anyone had even the remote suspicion that he was gay, even if he didn't turn out to be, anything short of displays of toxic masculinity always ended up in accusations of being gay, so that part being missing missed the mark.
. Too much of the conversation between the boys/men at school at uni doesn't really capture the horrendous way boys and men talk either, it's very light touch on that so I didn't find it as believable as some of the other spot on observations.
 

Cachoo

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Michael Lewis is simply a great writer. Who else can write about government bureaucracy and pull you in from the first line? I picked up "The Fifth Risk" today and I'm moving through quickly. Part of the problem with so many of the "Trump" books is that I find them dull. This one is a winner. I think my brother-in-law might receive a copy for Christmas. (We feel the same way about Trump and Michael Lewis.)
 

her grace

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A few recent reads

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware. Hal is a desperate young woman who is being chased by a loan shark. She receives a letter from a lawyer that says that as the granddaughter of Mrs. Westaway, she is an heir, and would she come for the will reading? She knows that she is not in fact related to Mrs. Westaway, but decides to go anyway and attempt to deceive the family in order to get her inheritance. This is Ware's most ambitious offering yet. There are more literary devices in this book, such as the recurring use of symbolism involving magpies and tarot cards. There are nods to Rebecca with an ominous mansion named Trespassen and a Mrs. Danvers-esque character. It's an atmospheric book with lots of nuance and a slowly-unfolding mystery.

The Girl Before by JP Delaney. This one, OTOH, was a lazy attempt to be both 50 Shades of Grey and Gone Girl and fails miserably. It follows two young women--not girls--who are successive tenants of a megalomaniac architect's minimalist smart house. Emma lives there first and Jane follows as the next tenant. The book flips back and forth from Emma's perspective to Jane's. It's incredibly redundant as the same thing happens to each woman, even the same dialogue is used. But in Jane's section we get quotation marks while not in Emma's. :p The book is billed as a psychological thriller, but it's just not thrilling. The characters are not likeable, the plot doesn't build up suspense, and by the middle of the book when some big reveals start to begin, it becomes a mess. Highly not recommended.

After all my dark reads, I'm ready for some light. Anyone got any recommendations?
 

Cachoo

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A few recent reads

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware. Hal is a desperate young woman who is being chased by a loan shark. She receives a letter from a lawyer that says that as the granddaughter of Mrs. Westaway, she is an heir, and would she come for the will reading? She knows that she is not in fact related to Mrs. Westaway, but decides to go anyway and attempt to deceive the family in order to get her inheritance. This is Ware's most ambitious offering yet. There are more literary devices in this book, such as the recurring use of symbolism involving magpies and tarot cards. There are nods to Rebecca with an ominous mansion named Trespassen and a Mrs. Danvers-esque character. It's an atmospheric book with lots of nuance and a slowly-unfolding mystery.

The Girl Before by JP Delaney. This one, OTOH, was a lazy attempt to be both 50 Shades of Grey and Gone Girl and fails miserably. It follows two young women--not girls--who are successive tenants of a megalomaniac architect's minimalist smart house. Emma lives there first and Jane follows as the next tenant. The book flips back and forth from Emma's perspective to Jane's. It's incredibly redundant as the same thing happens to each woman, even the same dialogue is used. But in Jane's section we get quotation marks while not in Emma's. :p The book is billed as a psychological thriller, but it's just not thrilling. The characters are not likeable, the plot doesn't build up suspense, and by the middle of the book when some big reveals start to begin, it becomes a mess. Highly not recommended.

After all my dark reads, I'm ready for some light. Anyone got any recommendations?

Have you read Maria Semple's "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" It was funny, touching and surprising. I think Cate Blanchett has been cast as Bernadette for the film adaptation.
 

Habs

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Have you read Maria Semple's "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" It was funny, touching and surprising. I think Cate Blanchett has been cast as Bernadette for the film adaptation.
I'll second this recommendation. I loved that book!
 

Erin

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I must be the only one who didn’t like the Bernadette book. But it did fit being lighter.
 

puglover

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I finished the John Sanford book "Holy Ghost". I liked it - good, easy read and I enjoy Virgil Flowers as a main character. Always a bit humorous, no matter the disastrous situation he finds himself in.

Has anyone mentioned "Where the Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens? I believe this is a first novel and quite a first novel.
It is about a young girl, youngest in her family, who grows up in the marsh land of North Carolina. The mother leaves and then, in turn, each older sibling, wanting to escape the wrath of the Dad, leaves. Finally finding herself alone, she takes comfort in the swamp and it's creatures. It does also have a mystery component as well. It is exquisitely written and I am really enjoying it.
 

SHARPIE

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I read a few books on holiday including the latest by Lisa Jewell, which I enjoyed as ever even though she is still going down the thriller route rather than light, if complicated romance stories.

I downloaded a few, including a few by Adele Parks and I just can’t get going with them, perhaps because I was so angry I wasted some of my precious holiday hours reading the latest by Mary Kubica! I have read most of her others and really enjoyed them so I thought her latest, “When the lights go out” would be a great holiday read.

Omg I was ready to smash my kindle to bits! 😡😡😡😡😡

Basically, I invested myself in a book with unlikeable characters to find out what the “twist” would be.

The twist was:

90 percent of the book turned out to be a dream!

Arghhh!


I re read “Dangerous Girls” though! :lol:
 

puglover

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I finished "Were the Crawdads Sing" and highly recommend it. I bought it through audible and quite enjoyed the narrator.
 

genevieve

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I just finished The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin. It's the first in a trilogy - I hadn't heard of it, but the GF got it from the library and liked it a lot, and since she had to wait almost 3 months for it, she said I better read it NOW. The writing is highly stylized, which makes it a little hard to get into at first, and there are one or two random but important elements dropped in more than halfway through that seemed a leeeetle convenient - plus my least favorite writing trope of all, strong and smart female protagonists that get confused/start sobbing during difficulty, which is not any better when the author is a woman - but the world created in the book is fascinating, the language fun once I got used to it, and the characters compelling. Plus, the book feels like a proper beginning of a trilogy. A lot of the time I feel like trilogies happen because a satisfyingly complete book becomes a surprise hit and suddenly people want more. This one feels like a more deliberate beginning, with enough resolved to make this book feel satisfying on its own while leaving plenty of questions for future exploration.

I think we're something like 192nd in line for book #2 :shuffle:
 

Jenny

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and there are one or two random but important elements dropped in more than halfway through that seemed a leeeetle convenient
Like the ones where the suddenly alone woman coincidentally inherits a country house from a forgotten aunt, and just when the bills for upkeep are reaching her limit, she discovers that her aunt once had affair with a rich man who gave her a fabulous ruby necklace that's worth millions?

plus my least favorite writing trope of all, strong and smart female protagonists that get confused/start sobbing during difficulty, which is not any better when the author is a woman
I'm really over this. Every must-read-Reese-recommended-it-just-got-a-mini-series book seems to be like this lately. Or at least too many of them lately. Right now I'm finding the books I'm enjoying most feature male lead characters, much better drawn because maybe no one's trying to prove anything.

Plus I find female writers (some male too, don't like those books either) seem to be writing their fantasy version of themselves. Slightly (or much) younger, better job and cooler place (because often it's a fabulous beach house or absurdly large townhouse), friends who adore her despite her myriad faults, and of course, a super hot guy or two who falls madly in love with her and gives her the greatest sex of her life.

A lot of the time I feel like trilogies happen because a satisfyingly complete book becomes a surprise hit and suddenly people want more. This one feels like a more deliberate beginning, with enough resolved to make this book feel satisfying on its own while leaving plenty of questions for future exploration.
Totally, and I think we've discussed this before here about the curse of the book deal, how the second one is usually disappointing because it was rushed out, then the third one is better but less people read it because the second one wasn't as good, and that's the end of the book deal.

On that note, Chris Pavone (The Ex-Pats, etc) who some of us read and whose first three books would seem to fall into this pattern, has a fourth book coming out next spring. I will read it, but I fear the fact that it apparently includes characters from his other books (trying to recapture the magic that made the first on a bestseller?) and it's been years so I'm actually supposed to remember these people?

Nowadays I think it's mistake for authors (and their editors) to assume that readers know the characters as well as they do, because they've been living with them for years, where as we only passed a few hours with them, in some cases years earlier. Sorta like tv shows still keep doing cliffhangers, and with so much other stuff out there, who even remembers for the 8 months or more it takes to get another season?

Maybe all this for the binge-read/binge-watch world, I don't know.
 

Japanfan

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A lot of the time I feel like trilogies happen because a satisfyingly complete book becomes a surprise hit and suddenly people want more. This one feels like a more deliberate beginning, with enough resolved to make this book feel satisfying on its own while leaving plenty of questions for future exploration. :shuffle:
I find it hard to discipline myself not to read a series before it is complete.

I recently took two book out of the library that are a continuation of three previous ones, then realized that I didn't remember hardly a thing about the other three and needed/wanted to reread them before going on with the new ones.

But I'm not particularly motivated to reread the previous books, even though I enjoyed them.

And I'm also following a relatively new mega fantasy series - two books of 1000 pages or so have been written and the third book is coming out this fall. I did reread the first book before reading the second, but there is no way I can do that for the whole series. And again, I lack the inspiration.

The good news is that I'm not lacking in stuff to read, which is good given that I'm a very picky reader and don't find it easy to discover new authors that I like. And I prefer series to stand-alones. Switching from one author's style to another can be jarring for me.

Right now I'm enjoying "An Ocean of Minutes" (stand-alone) by Thea Lim - loosely described as fantasy/romance/time travel.
 

genevieve

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Like the ones where the suddenly alone woman coincidentally inherits a country house from a forgotten aunt, and just when the bills for upkeep are reaching her limit, she discovers that her aunt once had affair with a rich man who gave her a fabulous ruby necklace that's worth millions?
More like, here are the players and the powers that come with those individuals in a sci-fi world and oops! here's a total game-changer that shows up precisely at the moment that maybe some disruption is needed, without any explanation or logic.

I'm really over this. Every must-read-Reese-recommended-it-just-got-a-mini-series book seems to be like this lately. Or at least too many of them lately. Right now I'm finding the books I'm enjoying most feature male lead characters, much better drawn because maybe no one's trying to prove anything.
mmm, I'd disagree that male protagonists (or their writers) aren't trying to prove anything, just that they are written in ways that are so familiar that we don't question it. But anytime I see any variation of the words sobbing, frightened (Hermione, undisputably the most skilled magical child in the HP universe was so bloody frightened all the time that it was basically a drinking game to get through those books) or confused associated with a woman or girl at the height of a book's action, I roll my eyes. I just want to yell WHY DO YOU HAVE TIME TO CRY IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS?

Plus I find female writers (some male too, don't like those books either) seem to be writing their fantasy version of themselves. Slightly (or much) younger, better job and cooler place (because often it's a fabulous beach house or absurdly large townhouse), friends who adore her despite her myriad faults, and of course, a super hot guy or two who falls madly in love with her and gives her the greatest sex of her life.
lol, there are SO MANY dude versions of this. My favorite is all the Dick Francis novels. The protagonist is always an everyman, not handsome nor ugly, often a bit of a loner, ethical to a fault, highly skilled in one random thing - but he always manages to attract a girl, despite his own misgivings. After 512 books it's like, we get it, this is you :p basically, I think that's just true of most authors.

On that note, Chris Pavone (The Ex-Pats, etc) who some of us read and whose first three books would seem to fall into this pattern, has a fourth book coming out next spring. I will read it, but I fear the fact that it apparently includes characters from his other books (trying to recapture the magic that made the first on a bestseller?) and it's been years so I'm actually supposed to remember these people?
I read that trilogy, and would read a 4th book. I do remember the main characters (mostly), or at least enough that it would come back pretty quickly. The plots of the books themselves weren't as memorable. I think that's a good example of a series that can continue because there isn't so much of an overarching arc.

Tana French has turned this a little on its head by always making a minor character in her last book the protagonist in the next one. I think only once has she revisited a protagonist (and it was her best one, so worth it, although I liked the 2nd edition less than the 1st one with that character). Weirdly, the book with a female protagonist is the one I thought was least successful - although I re-read the book a few years later and liked it better on the 2nd reading.
 

Jenny

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More like, here are the players and the powers that come with those individuals in a sci-fi world and oops! here's a total game-changer that shows up precisely at the moment that maybe some disruption is needed, without any explanation or logic.
I don't read sci fi or other fantasy stuff, but I think we're on the same page.

mmm, I'd disagree that male protagonists (or their writers) aren't trying to prove anything, just that they are written in ways that are so familiar that we don't question it.
Yes and no, the books I'm reading right now that are newly written are offering something different, at least more than what I've seen in the past. Country Dark by Chris Offutt was incredible, currently reading Cherry by Nico Walker, which is mind-blowing, at least for me.

lol, there are SO MANY dude versions of this. My favorite is all the Dick Francis novels. The protagonist is always an everyman, not handsome nor ugly, often a bit of a loner, ethical to a fault, highly skilled in one random thing - but he always manages to attract a girl, despite his own misgivings. After 512 books it's like, we get it, this is you :p basically, I think that's just true of most authors.
Specifically thinking of Stuart Woods when I mentioned that male writers do it too. I've read his books going way back to when he actually put in an effort, then kept reading them just because they are quick reads, entering enough when you just need a relaxing distraction.

But oh my god get over yourself Stuart! His main character, who totally lacks dimension other than that we need to be told repeatedly that he's a former lawyer turned investigator so that must make him smart, and he always gets the girls, usually in the first five pages, right after he whips up a pasta and opens a bottle of wine, and I swear this line has appeared in multiple books - "then they did everything a man and woman could do with each other." Really? That's all you've got? And PS he lives in a fab NY townhouse that he conveniently inherited.

Final straw was when he put Stone Barrington (seriously) into an industry I know very well, and it was painfully clear that the author had done zero research on the topic. Haven't read another in years.

Sadly, Mary Higgins Clark has gone that way, but at this point I suspect she's no longer writing her own books. The last one (on the cruise ship, if you've suffered through it) was atrocious. I started reading her in high school, sigh.

I read that trilogy, and would read a 4th book. I do remember the main characters (mostly), or at least enough that it would come back pretty quickly. The plots of the books themselves weren't as memorable. I think that's a good example of a series that can continue because there isn't so much of an overarching arc.
Very much look forward to discussing next spring :)
 

Kasey

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I'm still working on a book called "Life after Life" by Kate Atkinson. It's been a bit of a struggle for me to get into, because it is based on the quantum theory of different events/choices creating alternate portals and pathways in parallel universes. So, the story starts over multiple times, based on what happens as this one child is born. It's a challenging read, but really an amazing concept of a novel, and really great writing and "voice".
 

Japanfan

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Plus I find female writers (some male too, don't like those books either) seem to be writing their fantasy version of themselves. Slightly (or much) younger, better job and cooler place (because often it's a fabulous beach house or absurdly large townhouse), friends who adore her despite her myriad faults, and of course, a super hot guy or two who falls madly in love with her and gives her the greatest sex of her life.
Male writers do that to. Ken Follett immediately comes to mind, as he can't help but indulge his sexual fantasies in his books - though not to the extent that it takes away from the story and characters. For example, in 'The Pillars of the Earth', the protagonist's wife died a tragic death on a cold night in the countryside, and that very same evening a beautiful woman materializes out of nowhere and jumps his bones (goes on to become his lover).
 

Prancer

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lol, there are SO MANY dude versions of this. My favorite is all the Dick Francis novels. The protagonist is always an everyman, not handsome nor ugly, often a bit of a loner, ethical to a fault, highly skilled in one random thing - but he always manages to attract a girl, despite his own misgivings. After 512 books it's like, we get it, this is you :p basically, I think that's just true of most authors.
It's pretty obvious that Francis' wife had a lot of input into his writing; some think she actually wrote the books and he mostly provided the outlines and background.

So I always took it that she really loved that man :).
 

genevieve

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It's pretty obvious that Francis' wife had a lot of input into his writing; some think she actually wrote the books and he mostly provided the outlines and background.

So I always took it that she really loved that man :).
Even the early ones? The later books (like the last 20 years of his life :shuffle: ) were far simpler and more formulaic, but the early ones are great.

I just went over to his wiki, and apparently the collaborative nature of their relationship was pretty profound, and open.

Mary and I worked as a team. ... I have often said that I would have been happy to have both our names on the cover. Mary's family always called me Richard due to having another Dick in the family. I am Richard, Mary was Mary, and Dick Francis was the two of us together.
That's rather sweet. I love reading about Mary getting her pilot's license.

I did know that Francis collaborated with his son on a few books, and the son published a book or two under the Dick Francis name - but I didn't know both sons inspired some of the protagonists.

There must have been a lot of pressure to take up random hobbies in that family :lol:
 

MacMadame

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I love the Dick Francis books because each one would teach you about some career/hobby. It made up for other shortcomings.
 
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