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what are you currently reading?

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Hatshepsut View Drop Down
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  Quote Hatshepsut Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Feb 2009 at 22:52
I'm a big fan of American detective and/or serial killer type novels, but I'm not familiar with James Patterson - thanks for the advice about his earlier books, P2F. I find it's often the case that writers who start well then run out of steam (Patricia Cornwell is a good example). I've read a couple of John Connolly's books, but I prefer his namesake, Michael Connolly, whose Harry Bosch novels are brilliant. I also like Jeffrey Deaver and my absolute favourite is Lawrence Block, whose Matt Scudder novels are terrific examples of spare prose and great dialogue. Oh, and how could I forget Robert Crais? Cracking stuff.
 
I'm struggling a bit with Donna Tartt's A Secret History. Laura, how can I like any of these horrible characters or care what happens to them? So far, it's coming across as Catcher In The Rye meets Brideshead Revisited - but without the humour. It's well-written, I grant you, but I'm finding it hard going. I might have to re-read an American detective novel!
 
 
 
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Feb 2009 at 23:52
I enjoy Michael Connelly also, but John is perhaps a favourite as the back story is so strong that you feel you have to see it through. It doesn't peter out like others....(like you say Cornwell is a terrific example). John has just had one of his stories made into aa feature film starring, I think, Mel Gibson.

Deaver is just wonderful. I know Veronica is a huge fan of his too.

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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Feb 2009 at 11:54
I started reading Ken Follett's World Without End last night and reached Page 69 (the beginning of a chapter where all that's happening is it's raining in Kingsbridge  Wink).

The central characters are being revealed slowly, which gives each of them time to fully develop in your mind and makes their actions / reactions to situations more understandable.  I'm really enjoying it, and look forward to reading more later.  Big%20smile
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Feb 2009 at 15:42
I loved this book (know that others on the BR didn't share my opinion!). If you enjoy it, read the other one in the same series - it's set 200 years earlier but is centred around the cathedral building built and was equally fabulous!
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Feb 2009 at 16:03
I already have plans to read Pillars of the Earth Butterfly, as another friend - one who did the same undergrad course as me - tells me it's one of her favourites alongside the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which are my favourite books ever.

Of course loving Tolkien doesn't mean you're going to enjoy all books with a medieval setting, especially when they're written by people who have not studied the period in any depth (Follett is primarily a thriller writer, not an historian).
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  Quote Hatshepsut Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Feb 2009 at 18:42
Oh dear, Butterfly - I think it was only me who was unimpressed with World Without End! So it's clearly my judgement that's at fault Wink
 
I would have given the book another go, but I gave it away to a charity shop, along with other major bestsellers that I do not think deserve houseroom in the Hats household! Millions of readers have loved The Da Vinci Code, Labyrinth, The Island - I just don't get them.
 
I don't think I'm a book snob - I loved Pillars Of The Earth and have read it a couple of times (that one is still on my bookshelves) and I like nothing better than a nice pacy read like the latest Lee Childs or John Grisham.
 
Oh well, it would be strange and boring life if we all liked the same thing. My Dad has just finished The Story of Mr Y, which I had enthused about - he absolutely hated it.
 
Having said I was finding it heavy going, I eventually got caught up in Donna Tartt's The Secret History and nearly missed my train this morning as I hurriedly finished the last chapter. I can understand why it received such rave reviews - it is well written and explores some deep themes. But, ultimately, it left me cold, as I found it really hard to empathise with any of the characters. I couldn't have cared less if they had lived or died.
 
A-ha! I think I'm beginning to understand - I have to care about the characters in a book and I simply didn't care enough about the characters in World Without End. Could that be it?
 
 
"See, the problem is that God gives men a brain and a penis, and only enough blood to run one at a time." - Robin Williams
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Feb 2009 at 11:00
Originally posted by Hatshepsut

I have to care about the characters in a book and I simply didn't care enough about the characters in World Without End. Could that be it?

It's a possibility Hats, but to be honest giving up at page 69 meant you didn't get exposed to many of them.  Wink

The only characters I have any real empathy with so far are Caris and her father, and Brother Thomas (the knight who was carrying the letter at the beginning of the book) since the rest of them are either unsavoury in their behaviour or unlikeable in their personalities.

The other thing is that the book is very slow in terms of story development; there is a wealth of descriptive prose, scene setting, and architectural information being given to the reader, as well as detailed insights into the characters' personalities and motivations - not quite the ticket for readers who like sharp, fast-paced storytelling.

Personally, I like both types of prose as long as the author is skilled in the style they are using, hence loving Patterson last week and Follett this.  Big%20smile
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  Quote Hatshepsut Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Feb 2009 at 21:29
I've just finished yet another Richard & Judy Book Club choice, The Bolter by Frances Osborne. I have to say this year's list is first class, because this is another intriguing read. It's a biography of Frances Osborne's great-grandmother, Idina Sackville, but a biography that reads like a novel.
 
Idina Sackville married five times, in an era when even one divorce was scandalous. The book captures the decadent upper-class as they moved from Edwardian prudery to the horrors of the First World War, the flappers of the 1920s and the Second World War. Much of her life was spent in Kenya, where one of her husbands was Joss Hay, Earl of Erroll, whose murder is (if I remember correctly) mentioned in the Elspeth Huxley book, Flame Trees of Thika, and is the main subject of the film White Mischief. Idina also knew Karen Blixen, whose romance with Denys Finch Hatton was portrayed in Out of Africa.
 
The literary references don't end there. Idina's life story is said to have inspired the character of The Bolter in Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love (hence the title of this book) and Vita Sackville-West was her cousin (and supplied the moving epitaph in The Times).
 
I found the book very interesting. It has been meticulously well-researched (and referenced) and Frances Osborne's fascination with her notorious ancestress adds something very special, which I can't quite put my finger on. She is searingly honest about Idina's sexual appetites, which were well-known and documented, but also manages to find something fine and decent in her character.
 
Enjoy! I'll post an extract in the page 69 thread, as it gives the flavour of this novel-ish biography.
 
 
 
"See, the problem is that God gives men a brain and a penis, and only enough blood to run one at a time." - Robin Williams
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Feb 2009 at 15:45
I've recently finished "Katherine" by Anya Seton and thought that it went on for far too long .... I couldn't wait to get to the end (sorry!). I've just finished Sophie Hannah's "The Other Half Lives" which, whilst it was a "good" story had a bizarre storyline! I'm going to see Sophie Hannah at the Essex Book Festival in a few weeks and she will be discussing this book .... hopefully, I will get a better insight into how she came about the storyline.

Am about to start "The 19th Wife" ........
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  Quote Hatshepsut Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Feb 2009 at 23:58
Ooh, Butterfly - I think it's heresy to say that Katherine is too long! As far as I'm concerned, it could be twice the length. But I know what you mean - it could almost be the end of any normal story when Katherine finally gets together with John in France, but that's just half the book. I suppose I'm just interested in history, particularly medieval history, so I enjoyed all the Peasants' Revolt stuff. Mind you, her pilgrimage to Walsingham does go on a bit...
 
Do let us know what you think of The 19th Wife. I enjoyed it a lot.
 
 
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Feb 2009 at 15:50
I love medieval history and reading anything set in that era which was why I was so annoyed that I hadn't enjoyed Katherine as much as I had hoped. Several friends had recommended the book as well. I've just seen some Jean Plaidy books in the local library ..... they take me back to my teens. Has anyone read any of these in recent years?
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Feb 2009 at 16:00
Butterfly, have you read The Clerkenwell Tales by Peter Ackroyd?  Can't remember if I've mentioned it on this thread before... but if I haven't, I would highly recommend it.

Telegraph review here.

As for Jean Plaidy, I have a few of hers in reprint that Mr Pez and Pez Jnr have bought me overr the last few years, knowing my penchant for medieval historical fiction.  They can be a little long-winded at times, but the detail and alternative (feminine) point-of-view is fabulous to read.


Edited by Strawberry Pez - 24 Feb 2009 at 16:01
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  Quote Laura Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Feb 2009 at 16:06
Butterfly and Pez, you've just reminded me about The Spire by William Golding. Have either of you read it? I wish I could remember more about it but we read it at A level and i remember enjoying it enough to recommend to you now! Luckily, just found a good synopsis so i don't have to try to remember too much http://www.william-golding.co.uk/w_spire.html
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Feb 2009 at 16:10
Don't think I have read that one Laura.  Thanks for the link to a synopsis - I'll have a gander and see about adding it to my (ever increasing) "to read" list.  Thumbs%20Up

(Edit) Just to add that I'm three-quarters of the way through World Without End now, and it has gotten better with every page.  It was difficult to read through the tears last night, though yesterday was a difficult day and my existing emotional state may have made me more susceptible to reacting that way as I was reading.


Edited by Strawberry Pez - 24 Feb 2009 at 16:13
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Feb 2009 at 16:11
Thanks for the recommendations .... good thing there's nothing on tv at the moment!!
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  Quote kers Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Mar 2009 at 11:03
I am reading the Bolter by Frances Osborne and finding it very interesting.
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