Current Reads

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Current Reads

Post  Algae on Tue Dec 31, 2013 12:50 am

maxell131313, I found that it really didn't pick up until the end of Blackout and then All Clear was a roller coaster. It really should have been one edited book, but I enjoyed it at the end.

I have spent my break reading, so over the past few days, I've read The Countess Conspiracy, The Hobbit (which is one that has taken me years to read, but I think having the characters from the movie to picture really helped me to get more than a chapter read), The Book Thief (oh, that was beautiful), and The Night Circus (really liked the writing and how real the environment felt).
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Post  MaddyCat on Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:13 pm

I'm so jealous: The Book Thief and The Night Circus are two of my favorite books. I wish I could read them again for the first time.

Finished The Flanders Panel and it was nice and twisty with a lot of good philosophical points as well. I learned more about chess than I ever thought possible, though.

I think next I simply have to dive into The Goldfinch. It's on too many end of year best-of lists to be denied, and I really did love The Secret History. Critics are saying it's better than that one, so I guess I'll give it a go.

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Post  Crowbridge on Tue Dec 31, 2013 8:37 pm

I didn't enjoy The Night Circus as much as I thought I would.  The descriptions were great, but I didn't care about the characters much.  They all seemed like cardboard cutouts propped against a lovely set.

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Post  whatthedeuce on Tue Dec 31, 2013 9:30 pm

Crowbridge, that's exactly what I thought of the book. The setting and tone were great, but I just wasn't drawn to the two protagonists in the least. I recall liking plenty of secondary and tertiary characters though.

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Post  Crowbridge on Tue Dec 31, 2013 11:13 pm

whatthedeuce wrote:Crowbridge, that's exactly what I thought of the book. The setting and tone were great, but I just wasn't drawn to the two protagonists in the least. I recall liking plenty of secondary and tertiary characters though.
The only one I felt any emotion for was Bailey.  I heard they were making a movie, which might be a better medium since it can bring those visuals to life.  And if they cast two good actors for the leads, I might feel something for Celia and Marco.

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Post  whatthedeuce on Wed Jan 01, 2014 6:53 am

I really think great actors could bring the characters to life better and make them more vibrant. They were dull as dishwater to me in the novel.

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Post  naughty zoot on Wed Jan 01, 2014 12:02 pm

maxell131313, what Algae said. I felt the slog through Blackout was made worth it by the end of All Clear. But yeah, some judicious editing would have been welcome.
I was very disappointed in Daniel Woodrell's The Maid's Story which, despite wonderful writing, just meandered all over the place. I loved Winter's Bone, Woe to Live On and especially The Death of Sweet Mister but his last 2 books have been such disappointments.
Now I'm reading Wool about a post-apocalyptic world where people live in a giant underground silo, but possibly things are not what they seem. It's pretty good so far. I guess it was originally self-published for the Kindle and was so successful that Simon and Schuster picked it up.


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Re: Current Reads

Post  MaddyCat on Wed Jan 01, 2014 4:34 pm

Oooh...I have Wool waiting for me on my Kindle, so let us know what you think. I hope it's great.

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Post  Crowbridge on Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:29 am

I finished Jude the Obscure today. Great novel, but man does it make you feel like shit.

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Re: Current Reads

Post  The Glen on Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:49 pm

Hardy does have quite the knack for eroding your will to live.

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Re: Current Reads

Post  Raksha on Fri Jan 03, 2014 12:55 am

Today I finished Ashes to Dust by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and liked it a lot.  It's the third novel in a series of murder mysteries set in Iceland starring a lawyer named Thóra Gudmundsdóttir (everyone in these books have similarly awesome names).  One thing I really like about these books is the sense of place is so strong.  Some stories, you could pick them up, change a few minor details, and set them back down in any other city in the world and they'd still make sense.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes it's nice when you can't do that.  These stories would not make sense anywhere else in the world but Iceland.  Very enjoyable mysteries.
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Post  inversed on Fri Jan 03, 2014 9:06 am

Definitely putting them on my list, Raksha. I don't always love mysteries but I am a total Iceland fangirl. :)

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Post  Raksha on Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:51 pm

Today I finished City of Darkness: Life in Kowloon Walled City by Greg Girard and Ian Lambot. SO GOOD! Kowloon Walled City was a 6 and a half acre area in Hong Kong where about 35,000 people lived. The UK and China agreed to relocate the people and tear it down in the 90s when the UK was preparing to return control of Hong Kong to China. When the plan for this was announced in the late 80s, Girard and Lambot went in to take some amazing photographs and interview residents about their lives there. It's really amazing. It's really interesting to see the wide variety of people who live there and hear about the relatively normal lives they led, in spite of the reputation KWC had for being, well, a "city of darkness." It was a pretty amazing place and this book is fascinating.
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Post  naughty zoot on Sun Jan 05, 2014 12:02 pm

Just finished Wool, which I liked quite a bit. There's a fair amount of "what the hell is going on?" in the first section and I think maybe some judicious editing could have tightened the book up, but the last part is extremely suspenseful. He really did create a fascinating post-apocalyptic world scenario. I love that the bad guys are
[hide:
the IT department[/hide]]
On to Shift now, I guess.
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Post  whatthedeuce on Sun Jan 05, 2014 7:40 pm

I just heard about Wool a few weeks ago, and it sounds like some heart-pounding stuff so I have to check it out soon. Aren't the books super short, too? Makes diving into that series so much less daunting!

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Post  naughty zoot on Sun Jan 05, 2014 9:59 pm

Technically, I guess, I read The Wool Omnibus, which ran around 500 pages. I think it was originally written as a serial?
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Post  whatthedeuce on Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:27 pm

Yes, as far as I know, it was originally a series of books that were each rather brief in length.

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Post  gannetguts on Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:20 am

I started reading In Her Shoes when I was on holiday and if I hadn't already known the plot and seen the movie, I would have thought I was just getting a light, fluffy beach read. I totally forgot how DEPRESSING most of it is. The book is WAY more depressing than the movie, good GOD.

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Post  katesti on Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:08 am

Jennifer Weiner is darker than I usually remember. Which, actually, I appreciate, but not when I'm in the mood for light and fluffy.

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Post  salamandersam on Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:02 am

I stopped reading Jennifer Weiner after I found I was completely depressed after reading two books in a row. One was the sequel to Good In Bed and the other where a housewife decides to investigate the death of someone she knew who was also depressed at moving to the suburbs. It seems she has grown rather dark, but you can have complex books about darker materials without being completely depressing.

I just finished Beautiful Ruins, based upon the recommendations of several Snarkers. I really enjoyed it and liked how different narratives came together and the show revealing of the plot. Plus, I find Walter's writing to be beautiful. Now I've started John Irving's In One Person, though I'm not going through that as quickly as I did Walter's.

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Post  sagitare on Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:26 pm

Raksha wrote:Today I finished Ashes to Dust by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and liked it a lot.  It's the third novel in a series of murder mysteries set in Iceland starring a lawyer named Thóra Gudmundsdóttir (everyone in these books have similarly awesome names).  One thing I really like about these books is the sense of place is so strong.  Some stories, you could pick them up, change a few minor details, and set them back down in any other city in the world and they'd still make sense.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes it's nice when you can't do that.  These stories would not make sense anywhere else in the world but Iceland.  Very enjoyable mysteries.
Last year I got into Swedish crime fiction in a big way and I found that's a key feature as well. There is a very deep connection between the characters and their environment, and the landscape almost functions as another character, to be honest. I love that whole area of the world so I enjoyed the books a lot. I'll put these on my list, too!
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Post  Raksha on Sat Jan 11, 2014 12:12 am

sagitare wrote:
Raksha wrote:Today I finished Ashes to Dust by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and liked it a lot.  It's the third novel in a series of murder mysteries set in Iceland starring a lawyer named Thóra Gudmundsdóttir (everyone in these books have similarly awesome names).  One thing I really like about these books is the sense of place is so strong.  Some stories, you could pick them up, change a few minor details, and set them back down in any other city in the world and they'd still make sense.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes it's nice when you can't do that.  These stories would not make sense anywhere else in the world but Iceland.  Very enjoyable mysteries.
Last year I got into Swedish crime fiction in a big way and I found that's a key feature as well. There is a very deep connection between the characters and their environment, and the landscape almost functions as another character, to be honest. I love that whole area of the world so I enjoyed the books a lot. I'll put these on my list, too!

Ooh, have any recs for the Swedish crime fiction?
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Post  MaddyCat on Sat Jan 11, 2014 3:40 am

Just finished We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. I thought it was pretty frickin' amazing even though (or because?) it gutted me. The writing knocked me out and the story was compelling--sad, frustrating, and illuminating. I would definitely recommend, but I think it's something you have to gear up for a bit. At least I did.

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Post  sagitare on Sat Jan 11, 2014 5:24 pm

Raksha wrote:
sagitare wrote:Last year I got into Swedish crime fiction in a big way and I found that's a key feature as well. There is a very deep connection between the characters and their environment, and the landscape almost functions as another character, to be honest. I love that whole area of the world so I enjoyed the books a lot. I'll put these on my list, too!

Ooh, have any recs for the Swedish crime fiction?
Off the top of my head I'd say Lars Kepler,  Henning Mankell (Kurt Wallander), and Jo Nesbo (Harry Hole).

Wallander is a very interesting character, much darker than you'd expect, I think, because he's plagued by self-doubt and depression. About the only thing he has is his work and even though he's brought down by it emotionally and spiritually, he's really good at it. Like, he wants to make other choices in his life - have a different life - but he just can't get there. His situation feels real, which I liked. Mankell is one of the authors who really incorporates the landscape into his works, as well as a lot of social commentary and observations, which I found very interesting. Over the course of the books you learn about some of the ways in which Swedish society was changing, and the impacts of those changes.

Hole also deals with many demons and I think that was portrayed very realistically throughout. At times perhaps the cliche of the bad boy/loner police officer gets a bit much but overall I enjoyed the books. The Redbreast is the best in the series, IMO, and my favourite. I hated The Leopard, though - far too much violence for it's own sake.
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Post  Raksha on Sun Jan 12, 2014 12:05 am

That's awesome! Thanks, sagitare!


Today I finished Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes Miraculous Mutants and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human by Grant Morrison and loooooved it. It's a more or less chronological look at the development of superheroes, their creators and influential creative teams, and the kinds of stories the genre cycles through in response to various social influences going around at the time, with some examination of superheroes in other iterations, like movies or TV. All of this is interspersed with Morrison's own biography, examining his own discovery of superhero comics and the effect they had on his development as a person, and then later talking about how various events in his own life influenced how he thought about and wrote superheroes himself. I liked that it wasn't just an examination of the heroes and creative teams and looking at how and why certain eras are either great or have lost the plot, but it pulls back focus a bit and really shows how cyclical the nature of superhero storytelling is, going from one era of optimism to another of camp to one of pessimism to another of empty hedonistic violence and back and forth again.

But what I loved most was Morrison's own love of the genre. There is some choice snark in here, no doubt, but through it all it's plainly obvious that he loves superheroes and takes them very seriously. Not seriously as in SUPERHEROES ARE SRS BSNS DARK GRITTY ANGST FOREVER ARGH, but serious in that he absolutely believes in the power of the genre and the importance of telling meaningful, well crafted stories with it. I loved his absolute conviction in the power of storytelling to actively shape how people understand themselves and the world around them and his belief that good superhero stories have the potential to be a powerful encouragement to our Better Angels.

Also, he was a lot more gracious toward Alan Moore than I had expected. And apparently, he is a very serious mystic and ceremonial magician. I don't know why that came as such a shock to me, but it did. An awesome shock.
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