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Post  Raksha on Tue Aug 12, 2014 11:07 pm

Today I finished The Diviners by Libba Bray. I enjoyed this a lot! It's set in the 1920s, about a 17-year-old girl named Evie from a small town in Ohio who goes to live with her uncle in New York City. Her uncle runs a museum of occult-related stuff and is brought in by police to consult on a series of murders with occult symbols found on the bodies. Evie and several other young people in New York turn out to have various powers. Like, Evie can get flashes of others' memories while holding objects that belong to them and a guy named Memphis can heal people and he's been having the same dream as a Ziegfeld girl named Theta. All of these people are starting to get involved in each others' lives while Evie and her Uncle are trying to stop this killer. I love the historical setting and the way it incorporates so many different little communities in New York (like the Harlem Renaissance music scene and Irish street gangs and fancy speakeasies).

This book is a complete and interesting story in itself, but it's also clearly a set up for a larger series that I'm really looking forward to reading. Google tells me the next book is due in April of next year and I can't wait.
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Post  whatthedeuce on Sat Aug 16, 2014 2:54 pm

I usually love Mary Roach's books, but man, I couldn't get through Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. I found it so incredibly boring! I chuckled a few times, but after nearly 100 pages, I just couldn't read anymore.

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Post  Raksha on Sat Aug 16, 2014 10:34 pm

Yeah, I gave up on that one half way through. And I didn't care for the smug tone.
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Post  Crowbridge on Sun Aug 17, 2014 12:33 am

eventide82 wrote:I finished Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell last week. I enjoyed it, but I felt like it took a while to get going. I think that she crammed way too much in to the last quarter of the book that should have been featured earlier...I also skipped over pretty much all of the chapter opener fic - both Cath's and the 'real' Simon Snow author. But that's more because I don't really read fic and I didn't think it made a huge difference to the way I read the story.

I agree, and I skipped the fanfic, too. People tell me those are some of the best parts of the book, but they bored me.

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Post  whatthedeuce on Mon Aug 18, 2014 11:45 pm

Raksha wrote:Yeah, I gave up on that one half way through.  And I didn't care for the smug tone.
So glad it wasn't just me. I kept waiting for something witty and funny, but it was just boring fact after boring fact with some smugness sprinkled in.

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Post  Jude on Sat Aug 23, 2014 4:24 pm

I just finished reading One Plus One by Jojo Moyes, and absolutely loved it. This is the second book I've read by this author (Me Before You being the first, which I also loved), and I've just begun The Last Letter from Your Lover, so I'm hoping the winning streak continues.

One Plus One involves a single young woman in England raising a 10-year-old math genius daughter and a misfit, bullied teenage stepson, working multiple jobs and struggling to make ends meet. Her daughter has a chance to go to a private school for kids like her, and the only way the family can hope to make the full tuition is for the daughter to win a math competition in Scotland. Through a series of circumstances, the family (plus their huge slobbering dog) is given a ride to the competition by a software designer who's about to be convicted for insider trading. So the story is about their road trip, of course, but also about moral dilemmas, honesty, pride, and accepting help when you really need it.

This novel reminded me a lot of the movie Little Miss Sunshine, what with the road trip, the little girl, and the sullen teenage boy. And like that film, it's touching and funny, and it got me to cry. Whenever that happens in a book, I figure it's done its job.

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Post  Raksha on Sat Aug 23, 2014 9:24 pm

Today I finished Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett. Loved it, of course! Clever and funny as always and I really enjoyed the way Pratchett twisted the age old story about a deposed rightful heir and a secret royal child right on its head.
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Post  whatthedeuce on Sun Aug 24, 2014 6:01 pm

I started on The Last Letter From Your Lover, but then JK Rowling's The Silkworm arrived at the library so I'm reading that one first instead.

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Post  MaddyCat on Sat Sep 06, 2014 10:46 pm

Just finished Some Kind of Fairy Tale, which I think I heard about here but not sure. I liked it but didn't love it. I think because I never really cared about the characters, especially Tara, and so much hinges around her that it was tough for me to get invested. But I liked the premise a lot and would read more by the author for sure.

Now onto A Burnable Book which is a medieval mystery (I know, right?) that involves Geoffrey Chaucer! I couldn't resist such a premise!

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Post  Raksha on Sun Sep 07, 2014 8:42 pm

I finished Huntress by Malinda Lo and liked it. It was set in the same world as Ash, but several centuries earlier than that story. I liked seeing the big adventure leading up to the creation of the office of the King's Huntress. I think this was a very loose take off on one of the Snow Queen stories, like Ash was a take off on the Cinderella story. It seemed to end rather abruptly, though. The second quest to find the cure to save the fairy Queen was crammed into a handful of pages, where the first part of their adventure covered over 300 pages. Then the story didn't even follow them all the way home, it just kind of petered out after they picked up the member of their party who'd been left behind along the way. And we don't get to find out what happened to Kaede and Taisin afterwards.
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Post  Jude on Sun Sep 07, 2014 10:31 pm

Today I finished Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins. I wanted to like it a lot, but I found myself getting annoyed with the main character Isla, and how desperately dependent and obsessed she seemed with her love interest in the book, Josh. I kept hoping she'd grow or something, but her whole existence seemed focused on the guy to the point that it made me uncomfortable.

It was nice that the main characters from the author's other two novels made an appearance, though. She did that in her last book as well, and I like that she does that. Makes me more closely consider the secondary characters and wonder which one will be the focus of her next book.

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Post  Raksha on Fri Sep 12, 2014 11:04 pm

I just finished Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay and really enjoyed it. I appreciated that she acknowledges her own imperfections and inconsistencies without turning it into performative self-flagellation. That over dramatic chest beating drives me nuts. But it doesn't do to ignore or deny these failures in yourself either. Gay strikes a good balance, I think, and she writes with a lot of compassion for both herself and others who are just trying to get by and do the best they can as imperfect people in an imperfect world. I also like the way she examines many big topics and issues using pop culture as a starting point for conversation. It was also really nice to read someone who feels the same way about Orange is the New Black as I do! I feel so alone in that sometimes. I think my favorite essay was about the competative Scrabble tournaments. The footnotes on that one were especially fun.
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Post  MaddyCat on Sun Sep 14, 2014 10:07 pm

Oooh...I just bought that so I'm glad to hear you liked it, Raksha. I also have Gay's An Untamed State and though I hear it's incredible, I also hear it's very graphic and brutal. Don't know if I'm up for that. She's a great writer, though.

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Post  Raksha on Mon Sep 15, 2014 9:49 pm

If it helps, MaddyCat, one of the essays in Bad Feminist muses on happiness and happy endings in fiction, and she discusses her process of
Spoiler:
trying for "some semblance of a happy ending" for most of the characters in that novel
.
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Post  whatthedeuce on Tue Sep 16, 2014 12:30 am

I just read the summary for An Untamed State and am mulling over whether or not I should try it. I'm still quite shaken up by having watched that French film Irreversible a few nights ago and don't know if I'll be able to handle graphic rape scenes in a novel. The premise sounds so taut and intense though.

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Post  Raksha on Wed Sep 17, 2014 11:56 pm

Today I finished Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky. A book about the history of salt sounds like it should actually be marketed as a cure for insomnia, but it was actually really interesting! Living in a modern, industrialized country with many options for shipping or preserving foods, it's easy to take salt for granted and overlook it. But for most of human history, salt was a big freaking deal. Such a big deal, entire wars were fought over it and the fates of nations were determined by it (for example, the Great Wall of China and the military to keep back the Mongolians were both paid for by taxes on salt and iron). It was really cool to learn about the many different ways people have invented to harvest salt and the thousands upon thousands of uses they've found for it. I really enjoyed this book.
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Post  punzy on Thu Sep 18, 2014 12:28 am

Just finish John Scalzi's Lock In, a near furture sci-fi murder mystery. It is awesome and everyone should read it, I am terrible at reviews. Prequel novella giving some background for those interested.

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Post  Tabby on Thu Sep 18, 2014 9:43 am

Raksha, you might enjoy one of Kurlansky's other books, Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World. I liked both Cod and Salt very much.
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Post  RiverThames on Thu Sep 18, 2014 1:39 pm

punzy wrote:Just finish John Scalzi's Lock In, a near furture sci-fi murder mystery. It is awesome and everyone should read it, I am terrible at reviews. Prequel novella giving some background for those interested.

I concur. And it just got a TV deal! Isn't that crazy? But, yeah, excellent book.

Quick question to you, punzy, that's spoilery:

Spoiler:
Did you read Chris as being male or female? I waffled a bit back and forth, mostly leaning towards female, but what really occurred to me is since Chris was 'locked in' so early in life, maybe Chris never really developed a strong sense of being whatever gender their body is.
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Post  mayram on Thu Sep 18, 2014 4:50 pm

Jude wrote:I just finished reading One Plus One by Jojo Moyes, and absolutely loved it. This is the second book I've read by this author (Me Before You being the first, which I also loved), and I've just begun The Last Letter from Your Lover, so I'm hoping the winning streak continues.

One Plus One involves a single young woman in England raising a 10-year-old math genius daughter and a misfit, bullied teenage stepson, working multiple jobs and struggling to make ends meet. Her daughter has a chance to go to a private school for kids like her, and the only way the family can hope to make the full tuition is for the daughter to win a math competition in Scotland. Through a series of circumstances, the family (plus their huge slobbering dog) is given a ride to the competition by a software designer who's about to be convicted for insider trading. So the story is about their road trip, of course, but also about moral dilemmas, honesty, pride, and accepting help when you really need it.

This novel reminded me a lot of the movie Little Miss Sunshine, what with the road trip, the little girl, and the sullen teenage boy. And like that film, it's touching and funny, and it got me to cry. Whenever that happens in a book, I figure it's done its job.

Just finished this one, it was great. The premise didn't even sound interesting to me, but it sucked me right in. I loved the kids and how awkwardly sweet they were.

I read The Last Letter to Your Lover previously and that was great too. I've liked all of her books so far, except for
The Girl You Left Behind, which I've taken out from the library a bunch of times but just could never get past the first few pages. Did anyone else read it and does it pick up quickly?

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Post  punzy on Thu Sep 18, 2014 6:18 pm

RiverThames wrote:

Quick question to you, punzy, that's spoilery:

Spoiler:
Did you read Chris as being male or female?   I waffled a bit back and forth, mostly leaning towards female, but what really occurred to me is since Chris was 'locked in' so early in life, maybe Chris never really developed a strong sense of being whatever gender their body is.

Hmmm,
Spoiler:
I read Chris as being male. The dad refers to Chris as his son (I think) and Chris mentions dating a girl (not that that is an indicator of sex). Thinking back on it, it is interesting that Chris' gender is fairly inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

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Post  RiverThames on Thu Sep 18, 2014 8:16 pm

punzy wrote:
RiverThames wrote:

Quick question to you, punzy, that's spoilery:

Spoiler:
Did you read Chris as being male or female?   I waffled a bit back and forth, mostly leaning towards female, but what really occurred to me is since Chris was 'locked in' so early in life, maybe Chris never really developed a strong sense of being whatever gender their body is.

Hmmm,
Spoiler:
I read Chris as being male. The dad refers to Chris as his son (I think) and Chris mentions dating a girl (not that that is an indicator of sex). Thinking back on it, it is interesting that Chris' gender is fairly inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

Spoiler:
Actually, Scalzi is very careful not to use any gendered terms for Chris. The dad refers to Chris as "my child", which jumped out at me as a bit odd to refer to your adult son or daughter as... unless it was something you were deliberately trying to not use a gendered term. Plus you have your choice with the audiobook version: read by Wil Wheaton or by Amber Benson. So Scalzi was definitely making a choice there.

But, yeah, since Chris was locked in at the age of two, their entire interaction with the world has been through a threep, so... that's probably how Chris would primarily identify.

Scalzi was playing with a variation of that idea with Cassandra Bell, who was locked-in in utero, so she never identified with having a working body... and thus never made use of a threep or integrator in her life.
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Post  MaddyCat on Fri Sep 19, 2014 11:17 pm

Midway through Annihilation, the first book of the Southern Reach trilogy and it is sufficiently creepy. I have had to stop reading it before bed at night because it's given me weird dreams. Not nightmares, but weird enough that I had to shift it to a daytime book. And it's not that it's super-graphic or violent. It's just...creepy. And I mean that in a good way.


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Post  Raksha on Fri Sep 19, 2014 11:21 pm

Today I finished The Ministry of Thin: How the Pursuit of Perfection Got Out of Control by Emma Woolf. It was actually about more than weight, covering all the different ways women's bodies are policed and the consequences of all this pressure and surveillance. It was well written, but I feel like I've seen all this stuff a million times before. Probably because I have. I've read a lot on this subject, so maybe I just wasn't the target audience for this.
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Post  whatthedeuce on Sat Sep 20, 2014 2:10 am

MaddyCat wrote:Midway through Annihilation, the first book of the Southern Reach trilogy and it is sufficiently creepy. I have had to stop reading it before bed at night because it's given me weird dreams. Not nightmares, but weird enough that I had to shift it to a daytime book. And it's not that it's super-graphic or violent. It's just...creepy. And I mean that in a good way.

I tried that book but got bored so quickly. I wanted to be creeped out, but I didn't make it through the first 20 pages.

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