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

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PrincessLeppard

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I just finished We are All That's Left by Carrie Arcos, a YA book in which the protagonist is teenager girl whose mother lost her entire family in the war in the former Yugoslavia. The mother doesn't like to talk about it and it has caused a strain on their relationship. Then they are in a terrorist attack and the mother is in a coma and the daughter goes in search of clues to her mother's past. it's a pretty decent book, with flashbacks to Sarajevo from the mother's POV but I will say that the author wants to make sure you get the theme of the book. IT'S LOVE. LOVE CURES EVERYTHING. DID YOU GET THAT? LOVE IS THE ANSWER. You are beaten over the head with this at the end of the book, but other than that, it's a pleasant enough book.
 

snoopy

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I started another Reese book club pick - One Day in December. It is billed as a romance. I got 20 pages in and then dropped it. Romantic? No. Whiny 20 year olds? Yes.

Next up is a Nora Roberts who is more likely to get the romantic part right.
 

Japanfan

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I've been reluctant to start on 'Oathbringer', Brandon Sanderson's 3rd book in his 'The Stormlight Archive' series. Part of my reluctance is I'm reading the books as they come out, so there are about two years in between each and I forget much of the book in that time. The other reason is that the book is 1255 pages and very heavy.

So I've been looking for other books while I hold off on this one.

Just took a look at 'The Fifth Season' by N.K. Jemesin and saw that it is written entirely in the present tense. This kind of turns me off, but the book did win the 2016 Hugo award and was nominated for a bunch of other awards, so maybe I should give it a try. I'm conflicted.
 

PrincessLeppard

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If the book is good, you stop noticing the present tense thing. It's when they are poorly written that it continues to grate.

IMHO, of course. :)
 

Japanfan

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If the book is good, you stop noticing the present tense thing. It's when they are poorly written that it continues to grate.
I just can't do it. I usually make my decision about whether to read a book or not very quickly and intuitively, and I trust that process. Sometimes I challenge myself, but invariably find that my initial decision was the right one.

So, it's on with Oathbringer.

Maybe I'll do some weightlifting with it first.
 

emason

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What is the objection to the present tense? I read a lot and I never notice the tense. I'm just curious as to what makes it a problem for some readers. TIA.
 

Prancer

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I read Method 15/33 yesterday (don't judge me--I'm sick) and it is one of those books that has an interesting premise that turns into a massive steaming pile of crap as soon as hooky intro is done.

A pregnant teenaged girl is kidnapped by a gang of baby thieves. Only this is not your garden-variety pregnant teenaged girl. She is MacGyver and Spock all rolled into one, a genius at all that is STEM and a person who has a limited capacity for emotion, which she can switch on and off at will. As soon as she is snatched off the street, she begins plotting how she will not only escape but kill her kidnapper in the process.

If only the set-up had stopped there. But no, it turns out that she was raised by wolves--not literally, of course, but her father is a former Navy SEAL turned physicist who has taught her all kinds of jujitsu and (oddly) tai chi and her mother is one of the world's best trial attorneys and they both travel a lot and leave her alone to study in her superduper, NASA-level lab that they've been happy to kit out for her. No one notices the girl is pregnant until she is seven months along, but that's because she wasn't trying to be noticed. And it is never explained why this genius-savant child of such hard-driving parents is still attending a public high school, where she gets mostly As and some Bs, when you would think her brilliant self would have zipped right through some private school with a strong psychiatric support staff and been at MIT at 15.

But I digress! One of the kidnappers has OCD, which works totally to her advantage, of course. One of the federal agents has his own set of superhuman powers and a childhood backstory as crazy as the protagonist's. There are extra-quirky supporting characters and there's even an identical twin who turns up to create havoc. The main kidnapper can't stand the protagonist, but inexplicably gives her the things she needs to complete her plot to kill him.

But what bothered me most about all this is the ending. Much of the book is devoted to the protagonist's inner musings on justice and revenge, which are openly, frankly sociopathic. And not only does she succeed in all her plans (of course), but she does so while leading this picture-perfect life in which she has friends and people who love her and joy and happiness and success in spite of being incapable of actually feeling any of those things for herself (glee at the suffering of her enemies, OTOH, is clearly something she feels deeply). The good guys in the book are all on her side and think she's awesome and the bad guys? They don't count.

I decided to see what other people thought of this book and, of course, see rave reviews. I don't understand it at all, I really don't. :huh:
 

Japanfan

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What is the objection to the present tense? I read a lot and I never notice the tense. I'm just curious as to what makes it a problem for some readers. TIA.
Most novels are written in the past tense or past perfect tense (had/have/has ____).

It makes sense because stories that are written or spoken exist in the past, before they are 'retold'.

For me present tense is jarring, and I find it pretentious.

But, it's probably what a person gets used to.

Also, I'm a pretty fussy reader. If I don't find a certain style of writing 'readable', I usually choose not to read it. Part of the reason for this is that I read for a living as an editor, and most of what I read is badly written. When I read a book, it's got to give me some pleasure.

Another example: When I opened Cormac McArthy's 'The Road' to the first page, I noticed that the font was small and very black - as if the font was 'angry'. However, after seeing the film I had no regrets about not reading the book. I tend to love all things post-Apocalyptic, but the world presented in the book was just too bleak even for me.
 
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emason

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Thanks, Japanfan. I read first for plot, secondly for style and layers of subtlety. I’ll take more notice of tense (and person) next time and see what I think. After 65 years of reading I don’t think my preferences will change much, but I am trying to branch out and widen my reading.
 

Zemgirl

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A pregnant teenaged girl is kidnapped by a gang of baby thieves. Only this is not your garden-variety pregnant teenaged girl. She is MacGyver and Spock all rolled into one, a genius at all that is STEM and a person who has a limited capacity for emotion, which she can switch on and off at will.
One would think that such a brilliant person would know about using protection and be able to improvise a condom if one were needed.

I bought the latest KJ Charles book. Apparently it involves jewel thieves!
 

hanca

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I read Method 15/33 yesterday (don't judge me--I'm sick) and it is one of those books that has an interesting premise that turns into a massive steaming pile of crap as soon as hooky intro is done.

A pregnant teenaged girl is kidnapped by a gang of baby thieves. Only this is not your garden-variety pregnant teenaged girl. She is MacGyver and Spock all rolled into one, a genius at all that is STEM and a person who has a limited capacity for emotion, which she can switch on and off at will. As soon as she is snatched off the street, she begins plotting how she will not only escape but kill her kidnapper in the process.

If only the set-up had stopped there. But no, it turns out that she was raised by wolves--not literally, of course, but her father is a former Navy SEAL turned physicist who has taught her all kinds of jujitsu and (oddly) tai chi and her mother is one of the world's best trial attorneys and they both travel a lot and leave her alone to study in her superduper, NASA-level lab that they've been happy to kit out for her. No one notices the girl is pregnant until she is seven months along, but that's because she wasn't trying to be noticed. And it is never explained why this genius-savant child of such hard-driving parents is still attending a public high school, where she gets mostly As and some Bs, when you would think her brilliant self would have zipped right through some private school with a strong psychiatric support staff and been at MIT at 15.

But I digress! One of the kidnappers has OCD, which works totally to her advantage, of course. One of the federal agents has his own set of superhuman powers and a childhood backstory as crazy as the protagonist's. There are extra-quirky supporting characters and there's even an identical twin who turns up to create havoc. The main kidnapper can't stand the protagonist, but inexplicably gives her the things she needs to complete her plot to kill him.

But what bothered me most about all this is the ending. Much of the book is devoted to the protagonist's inner musings on justice and revenge, which are openly, frankly sociopathic. And not only does she succeed in all her plans (of course), but she does so while leading this picture-perfect life in which she has friends and people who love her and joy and happiness and success in spite of being incapable of actually feeling any of those things for herself (glee at the suffering of her enemies, OTOH, is clearly something she feels deeply). The good guys in the book are all on her side and think she's awesome and the bad guys? They don't count.

I decided to see what other people thought of this book and, of course, see rave reviews. I don't understand it at all, I really don't. :huh:
I read it too and was also a bit confused about a few issues. It is quite a bit unrealistic but then again, when people read about vampires and werewolves, that’s not realistic either. I thought if even half of it was based on a real character, that person would need a serious psychiatric help, but oh well, nobody is perfect.
 

Prancer

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One would think that such a brilliant person would know about using protection and be able to improvise a condom if one were needed.
When her father asked her how the pregnancy had happened, she cited condom failure stats.
 

Prancer

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There’s always the morning after pill. :shuffle:
Wanting the baby is a critical plot point--nay, THE critical plot point, because it shows that she understands that only love matters and other emotions are just irritants she can do without. As long as she can feel love (WHEN SHE CHOOSES), she can still consider herself a good human.

Being pregnant is also critical, not just because she wouldn't have been snatched otherwise, but because it is the reason she doesn't just take out the kidnapper with some of her wicked jujitsu (she doesn't trust herself to move quickly enough) and therefore has to contrive this incredibly elaborate plot for (over)killing the kidnapper.

I am still angry that I read this book all the way through, so it's probably best to ignore me until I stop seething.
 

Susan1

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I just finished the best Michael Connelly Harry Bosch book so far this morning. The Wrong Side of Goodbye. I'm up through 2016. It didn't have a bunch of bloody violence and had two interesting cases. It's also got his brother "the Lincoln Lawyer" in it. Someone could probably read it without having to read all the ones previously for their history. (Then they'd like it and have to start back at the first book. ha ha)
 

PrincessLeppard

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If you like memoirs (not a genre I usually enjoy, so not sure why I picked this one out at the library), I highly recommend Miss Ex-Yugoslavia by Sofija Stefanovic. She's old enough to remember Yugoslavia before it went to shit, but got out right as the war was beginning. She's Serbian, but her family opposed Milosevic from the start, so it's interesting to hear about that, since most of the news I recall painted all the Serbs as evil. I mean, I know that couldn't have been true, but I worked only with Bosnian and Croatian refugees in Germany, so I admit my own perspective was skewed that way. So not only did I enjoy the book (she's an excellent writer), but it forced me to abandon one of my prejudices.
 
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Mozart

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Sounds likes a good book! My brother's wife and family are Serbian but immigrated to Canada around 1995.
 

Zemgirl

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Wanting the baby is a critical plot point--nay, THE critical plot point, because it shows that she understands that only love matters and other emotions are just irritants she can do without. As long as she can feel love (WHEN SHE CHOOSES), she can still consider herself a good human.

Being pregnant is also critical, not just because she wouldn't have been snatched otherwise, but because it is the reason she doesn't just take out the kidnapper with some of her wicked jujitsu (she doesn't trust herself to move quickly enough) and therefore has to contrive this incredibly elaborate plot for (over)killing the kidnapper.
I get the sense that no book has had a pregnancy so integral to the plot since Pregnesia.
 

puglover

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Has anyone read any Caroline Kepnes books - "You" or "Hidden Bodies"? I listened to HB on audible and I am not really sure what I think but it did hold my interest through long hours hanging out at the airport waiting for my many times delayed plan to take off.
 

skatesindreams

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I was coming here to post this! I have not read The Woman in the Window (and have no plans to do so after this) because holy crap no way that the book beats the batshit crazy that is this article.
I doubt that the person described there should be believed; or trusted on any level, by anyone!
 

genevieve

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If you like memoirs (not a genre I usually enjoy, so not sure why I picked this one out at the library), I highly recommend Miss Ex-Yugoslavia by Sofija Stefanovic. She's old enough to remember Yugoslavia before it went to shit, but got out right as the war was beginning. She's Serbian, but her family opposed Milosevic from the start, so it's interesting to hear about that, since most of the news I recall painted all the Serbs as evil. I mean, I know that couldn't have been true, but I worked only with Bosnian and Croatian refugees in Germany, so I admit my own perspective was skewed that way. So not only did I enjoy the book (she's an excellent writer), but it forced me to abandon one of my prejudices.
Traveling through the former Yugoslavia 2 years ago was one of he most fascinating things I've done. I had to adopt the POV that everyone in the different countries was telling the truth - even though it was not possible for all of their truths to work together.

I finished Fingersmith (enjoyed, but not as much as most people do - I think The Night Watch is better) and was jonesing for a new book, so picked up Anna Karenina. It's one of those classics I've never read. But then I went to the library yesterday and got seduced by their Quick Picks shelf, and chose Milkman. It's ... already quirky and apparently polarizing. But I think it'll be a quick read (or a quick dismiss, if many goodreads reviews hold true).
 

aftershocks

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Fewer, Better Things: The Hidden Wisdom of Objects, by Glenn Adamson
From a brief review in American Craft magazine:
"Today most people don't know where their coffee comes from or how the chairs they sit in were made, Adamson laments in this brilliant book. They don't know how to milk a cow, make a fence from tree trunks, or make shoe leather from cowhides either. For the first time in history, 'material intelligence' -- along with a skill set that was once nearly universal -- has shifted to specialists, while the rest of us are glued to our smartphones.

"And expertise is not the only casulaty; with it go environmental stewardship, reasonable consumption habits, social bonds, and the meaning we find in our surroundings. In short, human nature itself -- and even the path of evolution -- is at risk. 'It's as if beavers were phasing out their lodges,' Adamson writes, quoting stonecarver, Chris Pellettieri. 'We're not doing what our brains and bodies were developed to do... Fewer, Better Things is written in conversational, digestible chapters. If you care about craft and the state of humanity, it's must reading."
 

MacMadame

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But how much can you or should you trust any author? After all, their business is creating fiction.
I'm more bothered by his book being basically a plagiarism of the 1995 movie Copycat.

But I had thought of him as a friend and found out he'd played on my sympathies by lying about having cancer or lied to me about the death of his family members, I think I'd be pretty upset as I'd see it as a betrayal of our relationship.
 

Prancer

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I'm more bothered by his book being basically a plagiarism of the 1995 movie Copycat.
I've read the book and a synopsis of the movie and I don't see that many parallels aside from having an agoraphobic psychologist as the protagonist, and I wouldn't call that plagiairism. Maybe if I watch the movie I'd think differently; what do you consider plagiarized in this case?

If anything, the basic plot line is lifted from Rear Window, but that's clearly intentional.
 

MacMadame

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I was going by what that one article said. Guess I shouldn't trust them that much. :D
 

PrincessLeppard

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I just finished Architects of Death by Karen Bartlett. It's about the Topf family, who built the crematoria for Buchenwald, Auschwitz, Gross-Rosen and a couple other camps. They also developed the intake/outtake air ventilators for the gas chambers at Auschwitz, and frequently slip from the Nazi approved language of "corpse cellar" to "gas cellar" in their correspondence within the company. So much so that at least one denier admitted he was forced to change his mind!

It's an interesting story. I was skeptical about how compelling such a story would be, but the family was complicated and petty (they recorded EVERYTHING in their memos), harbored known Communists in their factory, and one of the brothers had a half-Jewish wife. Recommended if you are also prepared to be depressed, of course.
 
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