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

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Erin

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Just finished Something in the Water. It’s a Reese Witherspoon book club pick, who knew there was such a thing? It is in the mold of gone girl and girl on a train - British woman sorta maybe a tad deranged. I enjoyed it just as much as the others.
I read this one and thought it was decent. A bit too much explanation around some of the technology and it was a little hard to understand the motivation of some of the characters but it was all right for a beach read, which is where I am.

I also read Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan, a book about three different generations of an Irish Catholic family who summer at their beach cottage in Maine. There's a lot of family dysfunction in this book and interactions between family members are loaded with hurts and resentments from the past.
And the book doesn't really resolve. It's like you eavesdrop on this family for three months and at the end of that time, the story is over, with (mostly) nothing having changed or been resolved. Maybe, Maggie's storyline ends neatly, but no one else's does. So on one hand, it's a lot like real life, and OTOH, it's unsatisfying because there usually is some conclusion in literature.
Sullivan has a good hand for writing emotion that rings true.
I felt the same way about the part in spoilers, which is probably one reason why Maggie’s story is about the only one I liked. The other reason is that Maggie was the only one of the four women who I would want to spend any time with - the other three seemed like awful shrews even when the story was told from their point of view. So it made it hard to get into the book.
 

Susan1

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Yeah, me again..........the latest "Castle" book - besides the five typos that I noticed. He had somebody being told to steal something from someone before that person was even given the thing he was supposed to steal (trying not to spoil?). Geez. It made no sense. I have only ever read all the Nikki Heat ones, not the "Storm" ones. Who writes them anyway, Patterson? Connelly?
Aha! - https://www.mysteryscenemag.com/blog-article/5905-tom-straw-the-author-behind-castle
So, he's to blame. And down in the middle of the article, it says Nikki Heart. Maybe I'll check into his other series anyway.
 

ryanj07

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I felt the same way about the part in spoilers, which is probably one reason why Maggie’s story is about the only one I liked. The other reason is that Maggie was the only one of the four women who I would want to spend any time with - the other three seemed like awful shrews even when the story was told from their point of view. So it made it hard to get into the book.
I had the same thoughts about Maine, they were all so unlikable. I love J. Courtney Sullivan as an author though; I recently read “Saints for All Occasions” and it was amazing! It spans several decades telling the story of two Irish sisters who came to the US in the 1950’s and the secrets that led one to becoming the Matriarch of a large family and the other a nun. It’s another family drama but the characters are much more likable. I also really enjoyed “The Engagements” by her as well!
 

Erin

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“Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng. I enjoyed this much more than her debut. I found that all of the characters had a distinct voice. My only problem was the ambiguous ending... drove me crazy!
Yes! I had the exact same problem with this book, although I liked it otherwise.
I had the same thoughts about Maine, they were all so unlikable. I love J. Courtney Sullivan as an author though; I recently read “Saints for All Occasions” and it was amazing! It spans several decades telling the story of two Irish sisters who came to the US in the 1950’s and the secrets that led one to becoming the Matriarch of a large family and the other a nun. It’s another family drama but the characters are much more likable. I also really enjoyed “The Engagements” by her as well!
Thanks, I’ll keep those in mind. I agree that she is a good writer and it’s good to know that her other books are better. I can give her another shot if they don’t all have such unappealing characters.
 

missing

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I really liked Saints For All Occasions. My book group read it and mostly liked it, with the occasional quibble.
 

Jenny

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Just read Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone (previously a romance writer, third book in the mainstream) in one sitting and really enjoyed it. Bought it with others months ago, needed a cleanse after the latest Mary Higgins Clark (WHY do I keep reading her books? Because I loved them in high school and can't let go? Blind hope she and whoever is really writing them nowadays have one last good one in them? sigh), and it was surprisingly (to me!) good. Well written, clever wit, page turner, characters if somewhat obvious in places were still interesting, right in there with today's toughish women trend, but somehow different.

Perhaps I missed the conversation when this came out last year, but did anyone read? Looking at you @Erin since it takes place in your adopted hometown.
 

Erin

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Just read Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone (previously a romance writer, third book in the mainstream) in one sitting and really enjoyed it.

Perhaps I missed the conversation when this came out last year, but did anyone read? Looking at you @Erin since it takes place in your adopted hometown.
I haven't, but I'll add it to the to-read list as I still have a couple months with heavy travel and I do like reading books set in the Twin Cities, as it's fun to spot the local landmarks, and this sounds like it is a good one regardless of location.
 

hanca

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I am currently reading The date by Louise Jensen. A woman woke up and found out that suddenly she can’t recognise faces. Not even her own, not her brother’s and not anyone else’s. She has bump on her head and blood on her hands, doesn’t know what happened to her, whether she was attacked or if it was some accident... She is diagnosed with prosopagnosia and is told that her face recognition ability probably won’t get better any more. Not sure how it ends yet, but it does make me think about how much in day-to-day life we rely on recognising people around us. I do struggle with recognising faces a lot, but definitely not as bad as this.
 

Erin

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So @Jenny, I didn’t need much convincing, I’m on a beach in Mexico right now and the kindle version of Jane Doe is $1.99 so I picked it up and read it today since none of my library books were quite what I felt like reading today. Loved it. Perfect beach read. My only complaint was that (very minor spoiler and possibly not even one)
the ending could have been drawn out more. After all the setup, the payoff was a bit rushed.
 

Jenny

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Totally! Glad you liked it :) Above is not really a spoiler, but this is:

Didn't like the usual "I'm so damaged and yet this totally awesome guy won't give up on me" thing, but at the same time, he liked her, didn't love her yet, which I thought was cool. Bit soppy at the end with the baby, but then again, would have been unreal if they'd flown off to KL together too.

One expected that her relationship with Meg was sexual, or at least one sidedly so, so it was good that the author wasn't tempted to go that route and in fact wrote it off rather casually. The church people might be viewed as a bit stereotypical, but these days, all too real I think.

One review on Amazon tired of her constantly saying she's different, but I'll take that over an author constantly saying her lead character is well liked and having everyone love her when I find nothing to like about her at all. Also really liked some of the dimension to her - beyond the obvious in today's books of a woman who enjoys sex and can do it casually or even with someone she doesn't like when she's on a mission, I thought her view on reading was really interesting (bet you liked that too :)) and the fact that she loved to eat was a bit different than all the books where women apparently subsist on salads and white wine.

And the cat was great, including that she never named her. (OK homage to Breakfast at Tiffany's, but I once had a guinea pig whose name was Guinea Pig so there.) The minute she decided to get a cat I had to look it up - can't deal with violence against animals and so often when an animal appears you know it's going to go badly - but happily found a site that both reviews books and runs a cat rescue, and they loved the book so I knew I was good to go :)

Have her other two books in my cart now.
 

Erin

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Totally! Glad you liked it :) Above is not really a spoiler, but this is:

Didn't like the usual "I'm so damaged and yet this totally awesome guy won't give up on me" thing, but at the same time, he liked her, didn't love her yet, which I thought was cool. Bit soppy at the end with the baby, but then again, would have been unreal if they'd flown off to KL together too.
I thought that part was a bit unrealistic too but I still liked it. I wanted a happy ending for Jane.

As I said about the previous sociopath in a book a few of us read (also in a book set in Minnesota), I really liked Jane, so who knows what it says about me. Although I recall Prancer saying at the time that we are actually supposed to like sociopaths, but I wonder if we are supposed to like their inner thoughts and want to be more like them. That’s probably the more disturbing part.

I picked up her other two books too...it’s hard not to when the Kindle versions are so cheap and most of the books I have out from the library right now don’t feel much like beach reads (eg a history of WWII).

My other beach read was a fluffy Regency romance, called Someone to Love by Mary Balogh, which I mainly picked up because she is from Saskatchewan (actually from Rudi Swiegers’s hometown so there is a skating connection). It’s a rags to riches story about a woman raised in an orphanage who turns out to be an heiress once her father has died. The way the rags to riches is accomplished is rather clever, the heroine is appealing, the hero suitably quirky. I felt like the romance was accomplished in a bit of a clumsy way and the book could have used some tighter editing in a couple places (eg the action of a previous chapter is repeated in a letter in the next) but decent for a fluffy romance especially if you are into the Regency period. Apparently she has written over 100 historical romances, so I would consider another one if I’m in the mood for it in the future.
 
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MacMadame

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I've read a bunch of Mary Balogh books and they are decent. She's not my favorite Regency Romance author but good for a afternoon of vegging.
 

Zemgirl

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Balogh's Indiscreet is on sale so I read it - it's an older book, but holds up nicely.

My issue with Balogh is that her books are not fluffy, but also not as emotionally resonant as some other authors in the genre. They're often good (or decent enough) but never great.

My current favorites are Sherry Thomas, though she's not writing romance these days; and KJ Charles who is just fabulous.
 

Susan1

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I don't know how many posts ago we were talking about the new Harlan Coben book and I forget how to find things I've posted, so.............................it's not a Mickey Bolitar book. I must have seen "new Mickey Bolitar book" (from 2017?) and "Run Away" right next to each other somewhere and put them together in my head (shocker, huh?). Anyway, it is a standalone. I've read a couple chapters. I might save the rest for the rainy day tomorrow. No spoiling please!
 

skatingfan5

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I loved that book too. You would also like her other book set with a fantasy Eastern European background, if you haven't already read it- Uprooted. I liked it even more than Spinning Silver.
I enjoyed both Uprooted and Spinning Silver (pretty much binge-reading both) and I don't even like fantasy. I was an obsessive reader of fairy and folk tales as a child, so perhaps that's a possible explanation. Or maybe the rather heavy or grim other books I was reading at the time.
 

PrincessLeppard

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My Holocaust Literature class has been looking at deniers and their claims, and we watched Denial. I was curious how much was accurate and how much was cinematic fantasy, so first I waded through much of the testimony transcript (I don't recommend this :yikes: ) and while a couple of things were out of order, any time the trial was shown, they used the actual transcript. David Irving really is a ****ing buffoon. I also read Deborah Lipstadt's History on Trial, her account of the trial. Some of the behind the scenes stuff was manufactured for drama, but most of it was accurate, including the spat in the delousing chamber at Auschwitz. It's a super interesting book; you'll have to get it from the library, though. It's out of print.
 

Prancer

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My issue with Balogh is that her books are not fluffy, but also not as emotionally resonant as some other authors in the genre. They're often good (or decent enough) but never great.
I think her books are pleasant, but they tend to be full of domestic details and thus always seem rather slow and sometimes rather dull to me. She's not one for crackling dialogue.

I am reading My Ex Life, which does have crackling prose and some tightly crafted zingers. The story line is rather meh, but it's not a book to read for the plot.
 

PrincessLeppard

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East Germany fans! I just finished The House of One Thousand Eyes by Michelle Barker. It's YA, and so I feel like the author dumbed it down a bit because, let's face it, most teens don't have a clue what went on in East Germany. But that also made it super frustrating, for me, in the parts after her uncle has been erased from society and she goes around ASKING EVERYONE ABOUT HIM, including official entities. A 17 year old in East Berlin would know to keep her mouth shut. She also does some other stupid stuff in the name of moving the plot along--I wish the author had done a better job of doing that without making her character an idiot. Not a bad book, just frustrating if you know a lot about the situation there.
 

Erin

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Luckiest Girl Alive: If you want to like your narrator, this is not the book for you. There seem to be two reactions to this--people who come to understand why Ani is the way she is as the narration unfolds and think it's well done and people who continue to dislike Ani and thus the entire story. I fell into the first camp, mostly, although I thought part of the story was really manipulative and unnecessary. The cause of Ani's small, mean emotional state is the part of the book that rang most true to me; as I read it, I thought, "This really happened, either to the author or someone she cared about" and was unsurprised to learn that it did, indeed, happen to the author. Most of the character's story, in fact, mirrors that of her creator. It must be strange to write a book that is mostly about yourself and then read reviews talking about how hateful your character is.
Continuing with culling through the last two years of this thread, I read this on my last flight. I fell into mostly the first group in terms of coming to understand why Ani is the way she is, and I don’t think I found Ani that hateful although I definitely wouldn’t want to hang out with her in real life. I still didn’t love the book mostly because I felt like there just wasn’t that much there that happened in the present time period and I wanted more current plot and less reveal of the past. I guess the current time period was being used as a framing device for the past plot but it lost me somehow. Overall, the book just moved too slowly for me. Also, the capitalization around TifAni FaNelli drove me batty.

I also read they other two Victoria Helen Stone books. They were OK but not nearly as good as Jane Doe. Evelyn, After was the story of a woman who finds out her husband has been cheating on her and sets out to meet the husband of the woman he cheated with. It’s got a framing device where the chapters go back and forth between before the day she set out to meet the husband and after and it gets a bit confusing in the timeline, but does help the slow reveal of Evelyn’s state of mind.

In Half Past, Hannah finds out while caring for her aging mother with dementia that the woman is not in fact her mother and goes on a search to find out about her birth mother and finds out all kinds of other family secrets. I was maybe skimming this one too fast as I missed some of the leaps of how Hannah got from one piece of information to another. But still generally interesting. I liked that Hannah was a tax accountant, and I could relate to her mild distaste for her profession (which really had little to do with the plot aside from some minor character-building but I still liked it).

The books were decent enough that I would still check out her new one coming out in July, especially since it seems like the earliest one (Evelyn, After) was the weakest and Jane Doe, the most recent, was the strongest.
 
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oleada

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Yesterday was Independent Bookstore Day and @emason and a few others from our Popsugar group had an outing and bought books. It was a delight.

One of the books I got was "Daisy Jones and the Six" which I devoured after I got home. It was really fun; lots of sex, drugs and rock and roll. I can only assumed it was based on Fleetwood Mac. Daisy could be annoying at times, but it had a real sense of time and place and even though it's written as an interview, all the characters had their own distinctive voices. I could really picture it as a movie and/or TV series while reading it.
 

emason

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Yesterday was Independent Bookstore Day and @emason and a few others from our Popsugar group had an outing and bought books. It was a delight.

One of the books I got was "Daisy Jones and the Six" which I devoured after I got home. It was really fun; lots of sex, drugs and rock and roll. I can only assumed it was based on Fleetwood Mac. Daisy could be annoying at times, but it had a real sense of time and place and even though it's written as an interview, all the characters had their own distinctive voices. I could really picture it as a movie and/or TV series while reading it.
Wow, oleada, that was fast. I’m impressed! What are you going to read next?
 

puglover

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Still wondering if anyone has read "Where the Crawdads Sing" and what they thought of it. My DIL and family are flying to Europe and she was looking for a book to hold her interest on a long flight. The reviews are for the most part very good and I did find it fresh and different.
 

emason

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Either A Man Called Ove or One Day in December. Not sure yet. Did you get to spend the day reading as planned? :)
Hi, I did. I finished my library loan of Smoke and Ashes. Now I’m reading Thanks a Lot Mr. Kibblewhite by Roger Daltrey, my book written by a musician for the Pop Sugar Challenge. After that I’ll read one of the books I bought on Saturday.
 

Artistic Skaters

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Still wondering if anyone has read "Where the Crawdads Sing" and what they thought of it. My DIL and family are flying to Europe and she was looking for a book to hold her interest on a long flight. The reviews are for the most part very good and I did find it fresh and different.
I usually don't search out the bestsellers, but someone recommended this book to me and I am reading it right now. I'm trying to limit myself to three chapters a day because I don't want it to end! A memorable protagonist and some beautiful writing for people who like nature and the outdoors. Books with a focus on coming of age stories, art and human experiences with nature or animals, and mysteries usually interest me. This one has it all except a dog. I'll probably give it to my daughter and sister to read once I'm through with it.
 

PrincessLeppard

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I just finished Evil Things by Katja Ivar. It's a murder mystery set in Cold War Finland shortly after they ended their war with the USSR. It says it's the first in a series, and it's not a bad book. I liked the premise, but the writing can be amateurish in parts, but maybe she'll get better as the series goes on. I wouldn't buy it, but if you see it at the library, it's a quick read.

Last night I blew through the first two thirds of Those Who Knew by Idra Novey and it's amazing. It's the story of four people in the aftermath of the fall of a totalitarian regime.
 

puglover

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I just finished "The Girl They Left Behind" by Roxanne Veletroz. It is based in part on a true story of the author's grandmother who lived in Bucharest Romania in 1941 and fled with her Jewish parents, only to have them leave her behind in hopes of her being saved. The book goes through the history of Romania through the war and then behind the iron curtain. It is quite a good book but I found the author overly descriptive of every feeling. I felt she did not give enough credit to the reader to be touched by the experiences so she kind of hits you over the head with them. Still, an interesting book.
 

Erin

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I read a couple new books in the past few days. First was Darkest Hour: How Winston Churchill Brought Us Back From the Brink by Anthony McCarten, who also was the screen writer for the film Darkest Hour. Since it’s the same writer, it obviously tells a similar story to the movie, albeit without the Hollywood-ization. Eg, Winston Churchill is not inspired by a subway ride. Since I like separating the fact from fiction in a movie and getting deeper into the details, I generally liked it. I also thought it was good that in one case when he was making a more controversial claim, he laid out his evidence and made it clear so you could make your own decision whether to believe it or not. I do wish he would have gone into more detail how he knows it was Churchill’s idea to use small civilian boats for the Dunkirk rescue, since he said no one else has given Churchill credit for that idea. But generally a minor quibble. Would recommend for anyone interested in the subject. It’s also good timing for me as I’m going to visit the Churchill War Rooms tomorrow evening, so there will be a nice tie in.

The other one was Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms and Other Toxic Tech by Sara Wachter-Boettcher, which will probably make you angry while reading it but it was interesting to read. I felt like some areas she dwelt on a bit too long and I was interested to learn more about others (particularly the algorithm section) but would still recommend it overall.
 

ryanj07

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I just finished “Southernmost” by Silas House. It’s about a Tennessee preacher who is forced out by his congregation after welcoming a gay couple into the church. Social media causes the story to go viral which disrupts his marriage and ushers in a reunion with his gay brother who he hasn’t spoken to in over a decade. It has really high reviews but I didn’t love it. There was way too much “telling”, we learned of so many big events after they’d already happened. It was hard to connect with the characters and I didn’t particularly like any of them. Overall, I made myself finish just to cross it off my list. I’ve moved “China Rich Girlfriend” to the top of my TBR pile because I need something campy and fun after that!
 
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