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2023 - Book Challenge - Second thread

(351 Posts)
TerriBull Fri 18-Aug-23 08:55:28

Welcome fellow readers to the new thread. This is a first for our book reading community, spilling over on to a subsequent thread.

Do keep reading and posting.

Sparklefizz Thu 23-Nov-23 18:18:55

TerriBull I don't enjoy this series as much as either her Shetland or Vera books, maybe it's the damn Barum Brethren who keep cropping up, although I realise that aspect is very much part of Matthew's back story, I just find them somewhat tedious at times, still good though if you enjoy crime.

I agree TerriBull. I don't find the Brethren stuff interesting. She had 2 winners with Shetland and Vera, and they have been hard to follow.

Hellogirl1 Sat 25-Nov-23 16:34:54

Book 137, The Increment, by Chris Ryan, very good.

Diggingdoris Sun 26-Nov-23 15:38:01

94-Sparring Partners-John Grisham. 3 short stories in this book. His usual great plot and character writing. Most enjoyable.

Sara1954 Sun 26-Nov-23 18:22:08

Book 54 the Running Grave - Robert Galbraith
Just finished.
It definitely picked up in the second half, and for a few hundred pages I was gripped.
Yes I enjoyed it, but definitely not one of my favourites

Sparklefizz Sun 26-Nov-23 18:57:27

Thanks for that review Sara1954.

Juno56 Sun 26-Nov-23 19:19:29

#62 London Falling Paul Cornell.
A supernatural hunt for a centuries old serial killer with a bizarre obsession with West Ham football club. A police procedural with the small team of four getting involved in some very dark magic. It is the first in the series, not sure if I'm going to look for the next one. Having said that, it was quite an exciting read and I enjoyed it.
#63 Four Blind Mice James Patterson.
Number 8 in the Alex Cross series. I am enjoying this series very much.

SueDonim Sun 26-Nov-23 20:16:29

No 46 Thunderclap by Laura Cumming. It’s a memoir of art and life, mainly her father and the artist Carel Fabritius, who, painted the Goldfinch. It’s less than 300 pages but has taken me so long because it’s very dense.

My book group didn’t discuss Four Winds - we were decimated by Covid and other events! Might talk about it in January instead.

Musicgirl Mon 27-Nov-23 13:11:42

#68 was False Name by Veronica Heley. I had read some of her books in the past and quite enjoyed them so thought I’d give this a try. What a disappointment. It’s a cosy mystery and very obviously aimed at the American market with its clichés about aristocracy and “cor, blimey” commoners. Even some of the language was American terminology rather than British and she is a British author setting her stories in London. We had kerosene instead of paraffin and gas instead of petrol, for example. At least it was a library book so no money wasted.

Calendargirl Mon 27-Nov-23 19:09:08

#60. The Raging Storm by Ann Cleeves.

Sparklefizz Tue 28-Nov-23 09:47:03

#84 Opal Country by Chris Hammer.
Another book by this author, set in arid and remote New South Wales in the opal mine area. Quite interesting but out of the 3 of his books that I've read, none has been as good as Scrublands.

SueDonim Tue 28-Nov-23 23:38:46

No 47. Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan. A novella, really, set in Ireland in the 1980’s.

Musicgirl Fri 01-Dec-23 11:54:27

#69 was Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua. I found this in a charity shop and was intrigued as l had never read it at the time (2011) it was published, although, of course, l knew about the premise of it. Amy Chua is an American born Chinese lady and does not like the traditional Western, especially American, methods of bringing up children. She decides that she will bring up her two daughters in the Chinese pushing harsh way with little praise and much scolding in order to make them the best they can be. It appears to work with the older girl because she has a compliant nature but her younger daughter is a different kettle of fish and eventually rebels in a major way, leading the author to speculate that some Western ways might have merit after all. Fascinating. The two girls do seem to have done very well for themselves as adults but the author herself remains a controversial figure. I read much of it in open mouthed amazement but could not put it down as it is very well written.

TerriBull Fri 01-Dec-23 14:34:39

65 Hidden Depths - Ann Cleeves

Back to Vera, in this where the conundrum of two young murdered victims, who on the surface don't appear connected but their deaths by strangulation and then immersed in water and surrounded by wild flowers lead Vera and her team to conclude that somehow they are. Therein hangs the tale. Reliably good.

66 Yellow Face - R F Kuang

This is a funny dark satire taking a pot shot at the publishing industry and social media. Told in the first person, Juniper Hayward, an aspiring but not very successful writer, completely envious of her friend and contemporary, Athena Liu, who has made it. A darling of the publishing world having just signed a lucrative deal with Netflix . Fate however deals a blow whilst the friends are toasting Athena's success round at her place with homemade pancakes, a freak but fatal accident occurs when Athena chokes on her own pancake . Juniper's initial guilt that she was unable to successfully perform the Heimlich Manoeuvre and save her friend, turns rapidly to the opportunity of reversing her own fortunes. Prior to the choking incident Athena had shown Juniper her latest project. A plot that centred around Chinese workers recruited by the British and French in the First WW. When Juniper makes the decision to spirit away the pages of her dead friend's manuscript and appropriate it as her own to realise her dreams of having a book published. Adopting an ambiguous writer name, June Song, which could be Chinese, belying her white heritage. The work is a publishing sensation and the money and further advances follow. Inevitably down the line the storm clouds follow, accusations of plagiarism and cultural appropriation in a series of Twitter spats form much of the second part of the tale. I liked it, it had the thriller/ black comedy element that similarly made How to Kill your Family so good.

Calendargirl Fri 01-Dec-23 19:19:51

Have just finished ‘The Raging Storm’ by Ann Cleeves.

Actually thought it was the best book so far in the Matthew Venn series. It’s him that’s the problem. Rather boring, no discernible personality, lacking in any sort of charisma. Is it because he’s gay and married to his partner, no ‘will he won’t he’ have a bit of a fling with a colleague? (Strike and Robin).

Just seems dull, dull, dull.

Hellogirl1 Fri 01-Dec-23 21:41:09

Enjoyed The Increment very much. Now reading The Twelve, by Stuart Neville, set around the troubles in N. Ireland.

Sara1954 Sat 02-Dec-23 00:03:30

Just read your review of Yellow Face with interest.
Recently in Waterstones I casually picked up a copy and a staff member immediately approached me and said it was definitely her book of the year, it was amazing, extraordinary, I felt I had to buy it, so it’s interesting to read that you enjoyed it.
It might have sat in my TBR pile for years, whilst I decided whether or not to give it a go.

TerriBull Sat 02-Dec-23 07:03:52

Sarah there's a member of staff in my local Waterstones who is prone to push books in that manner. I enjoyed Yellowface but book of the year, No! Not for me at any rate.

Calendargirl Sun 03-Dec-23 15:33:41

#61. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith.

Have read this before, but just felt like re-reading how Strike and Robin first met up.

Juno56 Sun 03-Dec-23 19:01:44

#64 I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day Milly Johnson.
A feel good Christmas tale about six people who take shelter from a snowstorm in a remote deserted Yorkshire inn and have to spend Christmas there. They are an almost divorced couple on their way to a neutral place to exchange papers, a businessman and his PA on their way to a meeting and a gay married couple on their way to a luxury Christmas break in Aviemore. It was undemanding and quite lovely.

Diggingdoris Sun 03-Dec-23 19:17:20

95-False witness-Karin Slaughter. A real page turner this one but a bit graphic in places. Two sisters, one a top lawyer the other a drug addict. They did something together in their teenage years, which has resurfaced and is about to destroy both of them. This is set during the covid pandemic though it doesn't affect the plot. This is a great insight into how the same event affects the two women so differently.

Hellogirl1 Sun 03-Dec-23 21:24:14

The Twelve, book 138, was a good read, but very violent. Every character was a villain, not possible to sympathise with any of them, but a great read.

Maggiemaybe Mon 04-Dec-23 09:21:03

50. Agatha Christie, Lucy Worsley
I enjoyed this one, and felt I learnt a lot about Agatha’s background, which was really very interesting. It was easy to read, despite having pages and pages of references (I read it on the kindle, and the list of sources started at 68% in). I feel now that I’d like to read more by Lucy Worsley, even though I think I’ll always have a mental image of her reading the book out loud, dressed up as the subject! I’d like to have seen the stage show, SueDonim - how infuriating that you missed it! I enjoyed her podcast too, The Lady Killers, about various female Victorian murderers.

51. Please Tell Me, Mike Omer
An abducted child turns up out of the blue 2 years after her disappearance, but can’t speak about what happened to her. A local child psychologist works with her and gradually the story emerges. It’s an easy page turner with a couple of plot twists.

Maggiemaybe Mon 04-Dec-23 16:30:05

52. I Know My Own Heart, The Diaries of Anne Lister, edited by Helena Whitbread
The weather’s dismal, so I settled down to skim read the Gentleman Jack diaries. I already knew a lot about our local celebrity, but I was surprised at how likeable I found her as a character. Though formidable if crossed, and never suffering fools gladly, she was surprisingly generous and forgiving towards those looking after her, even when she was served dreadful food or was feasted on by bedbugs in a hotel. I can’t imagine that was typical of the time (the 1820s). I do wish Netflix had allowed us that final series.

Sara1954 Mon 04-Dec-23 22:14:56

Book 55
Two Sisters - Blake Morrison
A memoir, remembering his two sister, Gill and Josie.
Josie is Morrisons half sister, always suspected, but never proven until just before her death.
I thought I was going to enjoy it, but I didn’t really, although some of it was very sad.
For one thing, as soon as I started to become involved in Gills story, there wound pages of sibling comparisons in literature, not particularly interesting on the whole.
The other reason, I feel uncomfortable with Morrison talking so openly about Gills terrible battle with alcohol, the humiliations, and the embarrassing behaviour, while her son and daughter are very much alive.
Apparently the book is not only written with their consent, but to a degree with their help.
I just found it all rather uncomfortable reading.

Musicgirl Tue 05-Dec-23 13:32:42

#70 was Last Girl to Die by Helen Field. It is set on the Isle of Mull. A young Canadian investigator is hired by an American family, who have moved to the island in suspicious circumstances, to search for their daughter, who has disappeared. Of course, she has been murdered and further murders follow. It is fast paced and gripping but the ending slightly spoiled it for me.