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Post  Instant Monkeys on Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:07 pm

I had somehow never read The Poisonwood Bible, which I finished last night. I'd read Kingsolver's early stuff but none of her later stuff (or, post-this-book I guess -- I had NO IDEA it was 15 years old; I don't know when I thought it came out but I thought it was like five years old or something). I thought it was really good, even though at the beginning I wasn't sure I was going to be able to finish it because some of the voices were too annoying, and also I just felt mad and upset about what was happening. Like, some of the characters were being so awful, even though it was clear they were meant to be seen as behaving awfully, but I didn't know if I could hack it. But, very organically I thought, the voices changed and the points of view opened up. I was up til 3 in the morning (like an idiot) Tuesday night reading it; I usually read myself to sleep but I finally had to tell myself to put it down and go to sleep because I wasn't getting sleepy.

Now it's time for A Dance with Dragons.
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Post  stargirl on Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:27 pm

Algae wrote:I've been reading the Charles and Melanie Fraser Napoleonic Spy Novels (also called Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch; the author had to change the character names when she changed publishers). It started as something lighter after reading I am Malala and Code Name Verity, but these books are my catnip and I'm in a buy all the books mode now.

Guys! Married Spies on opposite sides! Illegitimate children! Sex Orgy clubs! Bonapartist plots! What's not to love about them?
I loved the first two books in the series (written over ten years ago) so, so much...somehow when she changed characters' names the books themselves seemed to change too and I just couldn't get into the newer ones. Maybe I'll give them another try.

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Post  Unlucky Bear on Thu Mar 27, 2014 9:48 pm

I haaaaaaated The Poisonwood Bible. I can't put my finger on why, just flames, side of face, etc.

I just finished for book club The Murder of the Century (?), a true-crime novel about a grisly murder/dismemberment that took place in Manhattan in 1897. It was super-fun. About as much fun as a book about some dude getting butchered and his parts spread across NYC can be, I guess. Much of the book talked about the Pulitzer and Hearst newspapers and how they battled over covering the case. It ALMOST made me miss being a journalist.
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Post  laddical on Thu Mar 27, 2014 10:31 pm

It's that time again. The Dark Tower calls and ka is a motherfucking wheel. "The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed."
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Post  inversed on Fri Mar 28, 2014 3:00 am

Poisonwood Bible is one of my favorite books, but I am Kingsolver's bitch. Even though I have yet to finish The Lacuna.

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Post  Putli Bai on Fri Mar 28, 2014 10:32 am

inversed wrote:Poisonwood Bible is one of my favorite books, but I am Kingsolver's bitch. Even though I have yet to finish The Lacuna.

I've been driving around with The Lacuna in the car for weeks. A co-worker gave it to me, saying he couldn't finish it.

I've always found Kingsolver uneven. Mostly I like her books, even if they are a little preachy.
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Post  Raksha on Fri Mar 28, 2014 11:47 pm

Today I finished From Scratch: Inside the Food Network by Allen Salkin. Very entertaining! I'm amazed this network even survived its first few years. It's interesting how the behind-the-scenes business wrangling affected the on-air content. Both more and less than than you'd think. Very strange. I came away with this with a lot of respect for Bobby Flay. I never paid much attention to him because I don't like southwestern food, but he comes off really well in this book. Tyler Florence and Anne Burrell less so. I used to like them, but...now not so much.

It's really not surprising that the channel has descended into the pits of stupid shit, like those undercover diner shows that expose crappy employees, rather than any real focus on food. So many of the people in charge of this network have been so uninterested in food they actually had the kitchens ripped out of their fancy New York apartments. Awful.

I also appreciated that the author spent an entire page describing Sandra Lee's Infamous Kwanzaa Cake.
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Post  whatthedeuce on Sat Mar 29, 2014 12:11 am

Raksha, I loved that book when I read it last year, and like you, I came to respect Flay a lot for being a steady hand when things got rough at the network. He sounds very level-headed and appreciative of what the network has done for him. On the other hand, Anne Burrell has always annoyed me, and this book only made me dislike her more. The description of her filming an episode of her show made her sound like an irritable douchebag.

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Post  Raksha on Tue Apr 01, 2014 3:11 am

Yeah, totally.  That network is really lucky to have Bobby Flay.


Today I finished The Essential Bordertown edited by Terri Windling and Delia Sherman and I looooooved it so much!  A really great collection of short stories.  Bordertown is a shared-world kind of thing, where all the stories are set in this town that's on the border between Faerie and the human world, populated by people from all over and where both magic and technology have sort of melded together and they each work only half the time.  I read the new collection of Bordertown stories earlier and loved them so much I decided to track down the originals to see if they were as good, and they are.  There's so much potential in that situation and all these authors really took those ideas and ran with them.  So many interesting characters, backgrounds, and stories!
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Post  Raksha on Thu Apr 03, 2014 12:03 am

I finally got my copy of The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (the first Veronica Mars book) in the mail and I blasted through it. So fun! So Veronica! I really enjoyed the mystery. It was complicated enough to keep me guessing, but not so complicated things got messy or confusing. I also enjoyed the kind of quiet background thread of Veronica trying to settle into her new life and trying to sort of renegotiate her relationship with her father as an adult and work partner.

I can't wait for the next one!
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Post  whatthedeuce on Thu Apr 03, 2014 2:13 am

I finished Matthew Quick's Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock this past weekend, and man, is it bleak. I think that even though I didn't love the book, which dealt with the hard-hitting topic of teen suicide (and homicide), I feel it was definitely worth delving into. I absolutely bawled at one point in the story because I could relate so much to Leonard and his skepticism about ever being happy or having a better life. Because of how disillusioned Leonard is, he reminded me a lot of Holden Caulfield. The difference is that I didn't want to beat the shit out of the former. I think I'll give The Silver Linings Playbook a try soon because I appreciated Quick's unflinching look at inner turmoil and depression in FMLP.

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Post  Raksha on Fri Apr 04, 2014 11:17 pm

Today I finished The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett. At Mark Reads, he's reading all the Discworld books in publication order and I figured that's as good an excuse as any to do a thorough reading myself, instead of the completely random reading of whichever book I happen to run across. I liked it. It was entertaining enough, but it didn't quite feel like the later Discworld books feel. Like, this was a childhood photo version of what the Discworld novels would one day grow up to be.

On to the next!
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Post  Red Wolf on Sat Apr 05, 2014 1:06 am

I like the early to middle Discworld books. Pratchett got more serious later on, but I prefer the high comedy aspects more. Also, it feels like he's going through the same themes and character types again. So he's retreading the same ground, only with less jokes. No thanks.

Actually, I've been reading his Johnny series. Only the first two so far. My opinion on them is... mixed. I've never been into YA, and again, they feel a bit more serious than the Discworld books around at the same time. Still, I spotted a familiar figure at the end of the Dead, and that cheered me up no end. Funny how the smallest things can have the biggest effect.

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Post  inversed on Sat Apr 05, 2014 12:14 pm

I'm almost finished with The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier, which I'm really enjoying. It's got a little "Oprah's Book Club" feel to it but it's perfect for a vacation read. Plus I find Quakers fascinating.

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Post  Raksha on Wed Apr 09, 2014 11:54 pm

I finished Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic by Tom Holland today and I liked it a lot!  It's a really engaging narrative history.  I hated my world and American history classes in high school because in those classes it was "history = a litany of wars."  We'd jump from one war to another, looking at the important generals/politicians, the big battles, the important maneuvers within those battles, and the changing weaponry.  If we did get any peek at any wider culture, it was solely in the context of how those occasional cultural threads either caused or resulted from a war.  I hated that so much and felt I didn't know anything at all about the actual lives of people in the past. .  

This book does not do that.  It certainly doesn't ignore wars.  In this context, doing that would be flat nonsensical.  But in this book, the wars and important battles were treated as just one aspect (if a very dramatic one) of Roman culture and the social and political conflicts that arose at this time.  Most of the focus of this book was on the nature of Roman culture and its expectations for its citizens and how those things influenced (and were occasionally influenced by) the important figures in these last years of the republic.  A lot of the book covers the several decades leading up to the actual collapse of the republic, covering events and important figures who set the stage for the conditions that caused the actual collapse of the republic.

A very enjoyable and well researched book!
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Post  Red Wolf on Thu Apr 10, 2014 5:44 am

Raksha I read that a few years ago, and agree that it's very good. If you like that, you might like A Great and Terrible King, about Edward I (that's Longshanks from Braveheart, not the Confessor).

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Post  Raksha on Thu Apr 10, 2014 6:08 am

Cool! I'll add it to my list!
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Post  inversed on Fri Apr 11, 2014 9:51 am

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is not the book to read when you just want to read a chapter before bed. I stayed up way later than I should have and made it through half the book. I can't wait to get back to it so I can find out how it ends.

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Post  big chicken on Fri Apr 11, 2014 11:19 am

I'm reading Helen MacInnes' Above Suspicion which is a WWII espionage novel. The first half reads a bit like a travelogue but things start happening in the second. It's interesting to read from a historical perspective because the book is set in the summer of 1939 but the book was published in 1941 well before anyone knew how the war would end. I'm really interested in her next two books. Assignment in Brittany, is about the French resistance and, according to Wikipedia, was required reading for British agents working in France. While Still We Live is about the Polish resistance. Both were published during the war.

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Post  dionneshea on Fri Apr 11, 2014 3:59 pm

I'm a notoriously slow reader (except for Harry Potter, but even those took me a few days where my mom and sister both read the same copy of the last book within 48 hours) so I don't often take on really big novels, but my office mate read Lonesome Dove last year and couldn't stop talking about what a great book it was so I decided to take it on in the new year. And it took me awhile to get into it (around 400 pages), but I really did enjoy it. I had never seen the miniseries, so I really had no idea what it was about going in. It was very enjoyable, once the story got going. I really liked it. And it probably took me three months to read the first 700 pages, and less than a week to read the last 250. Once it gets going, it really gets going. And I liked it all the way up to the ending. But the ending was so dissatisfying, it marred my enjoyment. I say 'ending' but that was the problem, it didn't really have an ending. It certainly stopped, but it didn't end. I've sort of reconciled myself to it, but I just hate it when I've really enjoyed a book and then am left with a bitter aftertaste.
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Post  big chicken on Fri Apr 11, 2014 4:40 pm

McMurtry wrote a sequel to Lonesome Dove called The Streets of Laredo. There are two other books in the series which were published later but chronologically come before Lonesome Dove.

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Post  whatthedeuce on Fri Apr 11, 2014 10:39 pm

inversed wrote:Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is not the book to read when you just want to read a chapter before bed. I stayed up way later than I should have and made it through half the book. I can't wait to get back to it so I can find out how it ends.
I just read that book, and IT. WAS. HARSH. I absolutely bawled at one point. Books involving suicide tend to have that affect on me though.

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Post  Raksha on Sat Apr 12, 2014 11:25 pm

I just finished Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce. It's about a woman who disappeared when she was 16 who turns up at her parents' door 20 years later. She claims to have ridden off with a man on a white horse and stayed with him for 6 months, only to come home and find all this time had passed. The story is about how all the people around her (her family, the psychiatrist she has to see, and the boyfriend who everyone thought killed her all those years ago) relate to her and deal with her sudden reappearance. A nice quiet little book.
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Post  katesti on Sat Apr 12, 2014 11:35 pm

I read that this fall - I liked it a lot. Not some kind of Giant Important Book, but definitely enjoyable.

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Post  MaddyCat on Sun Apr 13, 2014 3:36 pm

Oooh, sounds good. Putting it on my TBR list.

Just finished A Visit from the Goon Squad and count me on the side that enjoyed it. It did take me awhile to get into it, but once I did I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. The "slide journal" by Sasha's daughter was particularly awesome, I thought. I think Egan is gifted at putting words to complex emotions, like when one character describes how he kept folding his desire for his wife in half until it was so small he could slide it in a drawer and forget it. Whoa. That got me for some reason.

Now onto Shovel Ready a post-apocalyptic story set in New York. Heard good things so thought I'd give it a try.

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