FranW reeds sum buks in 2010

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Re: FranW reeds sum buks in 2010

Postby FranW » 05 Jun 2010, 08:49

#23. Circle of Three, by Patricia Gaffney:
Told in three different first-person POVs, this is the story of a three generations of female in a family: a newly-widowed forty-ish woman, her 70 year old mother, her 15 year old daughter. The story is more literary than plotty. Gran, as wife of a dull, self-centred, uncommunicative academic, is a steamroller who's fixes everyone's problems (whether they like it or not) except her own vague discontent with her marriage. Her biggest worry is that her widowed daughter will take up again with the man who was her childhood sweetheart, of whom she greatly disapproves. Mum, who had married a man exactly like her father, is feeling guilty over her husband's death (he had a heart attack while she was arguing with him) and even more guilty over the fact that it's a relief to be rid of him, and is pretty much comatose with depression. Daughter, who's at that hugely rebellious stage, turns her dead dad into a saint in her own mind, and isn't happy with their changed financial status, her mother's mental absence, or the idea that her mother might get involved with another man. While I found the POV changes not clear enough -- the voices of the three weren't that clearly distinguishable -- it didn't bother me too much, and I found this to be quite enjoyable. The funniest bit was where the daughter steals the car, runs away, and defiantly gets a forbidden tattoo. To emphasise her rebellion, she gets it on her hand. Unfortunately, since she's a bit stressed out by her own audacity, her roiling emotions, and the difficulties involved in finding a tattoo parlour that will do someone underage, she hastily points to what she thinks is an ankh. Too late, she realises she got a tattoo of the female symbol (circle/cross), and now everyone thinks she's gay lol 4stars

#24. Swamp Foetus, by Poppy Z Brite:
A collection of short stories by one of the best horror writers around. All of her protagonists are male; most are gay; usually they are sickos themselves rather than nice guys who get dragged into horrific stuff. Yet they are fascinating in their horror. "His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood" was, for me, the standout -- beautifully written, beautifully plotted. 4+stars

#25. The Mermaid's Purse, by Katy Gardner:
This one started out beautifully: a female academic, in a long term relationship with a male academic who has always insisted their careers are equal. She tests it -- knowing what the end will be -- by accepting a one-year teaching position at a university across the country: she needs it to beef up her cv, but it means they have to live separately and only see each other on weekends. The prose was really quite good. I wanted to watch her grow in strength and independence. Instead, she devolved into the whiny, spineless, stupid person that she feared her partner believed her to be. She makes a lot of stupidly bad decisions, including befriending a student and giving said student lots of concessions including letting her get away with blatant plagiarism. Said student turns out to be a nutcase stalker (and lesbian). Thankfully this wasn't about Evil Gay but rather Scary Nutcase. Worse, the plot then got derailed by backflashes of our protagonist's "traumatic past", which in the end she has to "confront and make peace with" -- it seemed contrived, and I felt manipulated and tricked because the character kept withholding information and then later on making cliched "dramatic revelations". 2+stars

#26. Inge and Mira, by Marianne Fredriksson:
In Sweden, two 50-ish divorcees meet. Inge is a native Swede, lonely, largely untroubled, with two adult daughters living in England. Mira is an immigrant from Chile, who fled Pinochet's dictatorship. She has two adult sons; her daughter was lost during Pinochet's regime, and Mira both fears and hopes she is dead. The two women become friends. Inge's daughter gets engaged to a Chilean-British young man, whose mother has connections with Chile's underworld and who makes enquiries about Mira's lost daughter. It's a fascinating character study as Inge learns what happens to Mira's daughter -- no one wants to tell Mira that the girl was raped, tortured, forced to bear a child, and then murdered. Mira learns from Inge's daughters what Inge herself never knew -- that their father, Inge's ex-husband, was sexually abusive to the girls. The women have to decide what secrets to share, and how to comfort each other's grief. The prose is very plain and unembellished, and suits the story well. 4stars

#27. Shattered, by Dick Francis:
This is a standard Dick Francis mystery: first person male POV, with the protagonist in this case being a glassblower who accidentally gets caught up in the mystery when his friend dies and all the bad guys think the dead friend gave the glassblower something for safekeeping -- something they are all willing to kill to get. I find his books a fun, easy read. 4stars
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Re: FranW reeds sum buks in 2010

Postby FranW » 08 Jun 2010, 11:08

#28. The Pilot's Wife, by Anita Shreve:
A well-written tale about a woman whose husband dies when the commerical plane he is piloting crashes into the sea. The descriptions of grief, loss, etc were very vivid and well done. The distress the woman undergoes as the press hounds her, as the rumours start that it was pilot error, or a bomb, or pilot suicide, and as she learns of the double life her husband led, make for an engrossing story. I thought the end was a bit trite and predictable, but overall this was not a happy-fluffy story, and it was good enough to keep me awake most of the night thinking about it afterwards. 4+stars[/quote]

#29. Blue Genes, by Val McDermid:
A first person POV murder mystery starring a PI who was, for me, so smart-alecky and irreverent and determinedly witty that she was one big cliche. The oh-so-clever similes that the protagonist tossed off continuously (like, one on every page) really drove me nuts -- it seemed too contrived and egotistical, and also made it impossible for me to sympathise with the protagonist. The scientific premise for the mystery was probably cutting-edge when the book was written (mid 90's, I think) but is now just another overused trope (I should know, I've used it myself! lol ) and so didn't engage my attention. The story wasn't bad, and it was nice that most of the secondary characters (though not the protag) were lesbian, but the character's voice grated on me. I'd probably not look for any more in this series. 3stars[/quote]
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Re: FranW reeds sum buks in 2010

Postby wildlx » 08 Jun 2010, 20:52

I also don't like that much the Kate Brannigan books. I've read the first two and also Blue Genes but I think the other series are much better, especially the Tony Hill series.
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Re: FranW reeds sum buks in 2010

Postby FranW » 10 Jun 2010, 14:16

#30. The Postman, by David Brin:
A classic SF novel that I'd never got around to reading before. Servicable, non-annoying prose; a single POV character who is believable and likeable; a well-drawn world and premise, in which a wandering bloke trying to survive on his own in a lawless, tech-less, post-everything-got-destroyed USA seeks for a leader, for someone who is trying to "take charge", for something to believe in. When he finds the skeleton and wrecked Jeep of a long-dead postal carrier, he takes the clothes and mailbag and pretends to be a postman in the hopes of finding a community he can fit in with. Instead he himself becomes that leader who is taking charge and trying to create a better world. 4stars.

#31. Dark Horse, by Tammi Hoag:
A murder mystery featuring a very flawed (but believable and likeable -- kind of like N Griffith's "Aud" character) ex-cop protagonist, set in the glitterati world of horse shows. The POV shifted from first person (mystery solver) to a half dozen or so third-person POV characters fairly randomly, which drove me nuts. A fair amount of infodump; prose okay but nothing extraordinary. Yet the story was good and the character well drawn, and I quite enjoyed it, as much for the character development as for the puzzle-solving. 4stars.
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Re: FranW reeds sum buks in 2010

Postby Proofrdr » 11 Jun 2010, 07:53

I read Pilot's Wife more than two years ago, yet the questions is raises about whether we can really know someone are still hauntingly with me. Thematically, it's very well constructed. Agree about the ending.
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Re: FranW reeds sum buks in 2010

Postby FranW » 02 Nov 2010, 10:24

Crikey. I forgot to keep listing the books I've read! I've surely passed the 50 mark, I just haven't kept track of them.
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Re: FranW reeds sum buks in 2010

Postby FranW » 02 Nov 2010, 10:31

#32. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N K Jemison:
(AoC): A classic fantasy with court intrigue, family clashes, assassins, gods, demons, and a female protagonist who has to face them all down in order to stay alive. For whatever reason, it totally worked for me. I read it, then re-read it twice more, and ordered the sequel. 4+stars.

#33. Inconceivable, by Ben Elton:
A "romantic comedy" that uses the device of alterating excerpts from the personal diaries of an English husband and wife who are trying to conceive a baby. It starts out hilariously funny and, just when you think it needs a little more meat, devolves into a more serious story line. That was brilliantly well done. The husband, the main protagonist, also gradually exposes himself as an utter asshat, which for me worked very well except that he gave himself an undeserved HEA. I found that frustrating, yet realistic given the misogynist world we live in, which made the ending yet more frustrating. I'm not sure if that was the author's intent, or if he really did consider the protagonist flawed-but-likeable-and-redeemable-and-deserving-of-his-HEA. Sadly I assume the latter. 4stars.
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Re: FranW reeds sum buks in 2010

Postby Athena » 05 Nov 2010, 09:29

FranW wrote:#32. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N K Jemison:
A classic fantasy with court intrigue, family clashes, assassins, gods, demons, and a female protagonist who has to face them all down in order to stay alive.


Wow, that one sounds really interesting. :-)
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Re: FranW reeds sum buks in 2010

Postby FranW » 11 Dec 2010, 14:32

#34. The Broken Kingdoms, by N K Jemison:
(AoC): Sequel to The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I enjoyed this one, though not quite as much as the first. Not sure why. I think partly because one of the things I like about fantasy is being introduced to a fabulous new world, and obviously that aspect is lost in sequels. I think too the voice -- first person narrator, distinctive structure and style -- was too similar to the first book, which featured a totally different (but too-much-the-same) character. Extra points, though, for a protagonist who is both a PoC and visually impaired. 4+stars.
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Re: FranW reeds sum buks in 2010

Postby FranW » 01 Jan 2011, 14:01

I failed dismally -- largely because I spent too much time reading cookbooks, which don't count, and partly because I didn't keep track of the novels I did read. But I shall follow Proofreader's example and note the authors who were my Top Picks for 2010:
Nicola Griffith
Margaret Atwood
NK Jemisin
JM Redmann
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