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> Favorite books, bump when you read a good book
Michelle
post Jan 10 2009, 11:12 AM
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Have you read any good books recently? Here's a roundup of my favorites that I read in 2008:

General fiction

The Gone-Away World

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In the near future, much of the world has been rendered unhabitable, thanks to the effects of a great war and some unusual weaponry. Human society limps along in a narrow Livable Zone. Then the pipeline keeping that area stable catches on fire. Uh oh. A dark, comic, conspiracy-laden, epic debut that unfolds slowly in unexpected directions. Plenty of plot twists kept me involved in the story. Pirates? ninjas?? mimes??? It's a love-it-or-hate-it book, and I'm firmly in the love-it camp.

The Art of Racing in the Rain

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Enzo, a lab-terrier mix and the narrator of this novel, is the companion of Denny, a struggling mechanic/racer. Enzo is a wise and philosophical dog who hopes to be reincarnated as a human (he saw a documentary on tv that suggested this was possible). In the meanwhile, he is a steadfast friend to Denny and Denny's family, and is witness to some of the darkest times in Denny's life. It's hard to describe this book without making it sound like a melodramatic mess, but it's an emotional, compelling look at the human--and canine--condition.

(Edit: forgot the following)

Last Night at the Lobster

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Manny is the conscientious manager of a Connecticut Red Lobster. He's committed to his job and should be the envy of any corporate restaurant chain. Despite his efforts, however, he's been informed that his location is performing below expectations and will be closed. He wants to have a great last day and lock the restaurant up with some sense of dignity and accomplishment. But fate intervenes in the form of a northeastern blizzard, keeping much of his crew from coming in and making customers few and far between. This novella deals with the mundane, but provides rich characters, good dialogue, and a pitch-perfect feeling of everyday life.
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Michelle
post Jan 10 2009, 11:57 AM
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General Nonfiction

Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do and What It Says About Us

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An engaging, readable look at an area of interest to almost all of us, traffic and driving. Vanderbilt draws upon a century of research to describe the way that technology, psychology, and social considerations intertwine, and challenges our assumptions about life on the road. Is it better to merge late or early? Are intersections safer, or roundabouts? Full of aha moments and seemingly counterintuitive conclusions, this book addresses any question you've had about driving.

The Kings of New York: A Year Among the Geeks, Oddballs, and Geniuses Who Make Up America's Top High School Chess Team

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Chronicles a year in the lives of the members of the Edward R. Murrow High School chess team. While you might expect a champion chess team to be from some top-flight private prep school, this public school team is a diverse mix of low-income students and first- and second-generation Americans. An entertaining look at a subculture of talented teenagers and their achievements and struggles in competition, in school, and at home. I don't play chess, but I found this book fascinating.

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective

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Three-year-old Saville Kent is killed at his country home, and Mr. Whicher, one of England's first detectives, is sent to investigate. Suspects abound, but Mr. Whicher suspects that one of the family members is responsible. While crimes like this are common news fodder today, the allusion that a family member could be responsible for a young child's death was unthinkable at that time. The case becomes a nationwide obsession, but the evidence to make a case is elusive. More than just a true crime story, this well-researched book is a fascinating look at an earlier era, when criminal detection and scientific reasoning were brand new and the image of the detective was still being developed.
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Michelle
post Jan 10 2009, 12:52 PM
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Genre Fiction

Crime

Grand Theft (2004)

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Finally, a reliable readalike for Elmore Leonard. Teddy Clyde is an upscale car thief who grew up in on the hard streets of Philadelphia. He's careful to avoid the attention of the police and to stay out of the way of organized crime. That becomes difficult when the body of Mob boss Scarlotti turns up in the trunk of his car. With the help of undercover journalist Natalie, he has to find his way out of the situation and maybe make a little profit on the side. Snappy dialogue, morally gray characters, and plot-twists aplenty make this caper story a winner.

Horror

Heart-Shaped Box

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Aging rock star Jude Coyne collects many things: royalty payments from a lifetime of popular, anger-fueled music; young women nicknamed after states; and morbid curio pieces. When he comes across an online auction for a dead man's suit, complete with ghost, he goes for the bait. But the suit doesn't belong to just any dead man, and the ghost that comes with it is particularly mean. This one gave me plenty of chills and nightmares. Jude is a coarse character and not very likeable at the beginning, but his development throughout the story is compelling.

Adventure/Thriller

The Faithful Spy

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CIA agent John Wells has been undercover with al-Qaeda. When 9/11 happens with no warning from him, his handlers question whether he serves any purpose. His loyalty comes into doubt as time ticks by with no word from him. Meanwhile, Wells, now a true Muslim convert, is assigned by al-Qaeda to an attack on American soil. A classic spy story within the realm of current events.

Fantasy

The Somnambulist

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Edward Moon is a stage magician whose popularity is on the wane. His reputation as a crime solver secures him the investigation of a underground religious movement. His eponymous sidekick, a mute, freakishly tall, seemingly inhuman creature, accompanies him through his investigation of a shadowy Victorian world, filled with secret plots and magical elements. (side note: this may not be fantasy--magical realism? steampunk? mystery? but that's what I'm calling it anyway.)

Science Fiction

Mindscan (2005)

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Jake Sullivan suffers from a rare hereditary disease that left his father in a vegetative state at an early age. Fearing the same fate, he elects to have his brain scanned and downloaded into a basically immortal android body. The flesh-and-blood Jake is sent to a "retirement" community on the Moon, while the android Jake assumes his place on Earth. An interesting study of what it means to be human.
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Michelle
post Jan 10 2009, 01:30 PM
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Genre Fiction continued

Women's Fiction/Chick Lit

Bet Me (2004)

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Thirtysomething Minerva Dobbs has just been dumped by her boyfriend. To make matters worse, she overhears her loser ex bet good-looking Cal Morrisey that Cal won't be able to get Min in bed within a month. Min decides to string Cal along to get her revenge, securing a date for her sister's wedding at the same time. But what does she do when she starts to fall for him for real? A light read but a page-turner, with many laugh out loud moments.

Western

Lonesome Dove (1986)

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Finally got around to reading this Pulitzer prize winner. Woodrow Call and Gus McCrae, former Texas Rangers, double as the proprietors of a small ranch and nocturnal cattle thieves. Their former friend Jake Spoon turns up at the ranch, running from the law after accidentally shooting a man. His description of Montana compels Call to organize a cattle drive to settle there. A sprawling, epic novel of the American West.

Historical Fiction

American Dreams (1998)

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Set in America from 1906 to 1917, this novel follows the children of a German-American brewer/baron. Fritzi goes against her father's wishes and moves to New York to become an actress. As she struggles to survive, she becomes involved in the fledgling and unrespected motion picture industry to make ends meet. Her brother Carl has an eclectic career path in the auto industry and as a pilot, while their cousin Paul serves as a war cameraman. Part of a series. I don't read much historical fiction, but I was riveted to this tale of America in the early twentieth century.

Romance

Harlequin NASCAR series

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They're not great literary works, but I truly enjoy Harlequin's category romance series centering around the world of NASCAR. As a group, they have a wonderful sense of place, taking full advantage of their auto-racing setting. Light, fun reads that are sweet but not syrupy, romantic but not erotic.
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Ang
post Jan 11 2009, 12:17 PM
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Thanks Michelle!! I love to read and am always looking for something new. I live three blocks from the library and walk there often. Our library has a great kids section and my daughter walks down there a lot, too.

I am a Dean Koontz fan. I recommend the Odd Thomas series. Odd can see the dead and often helps them to pass on. For a while the ghost of Elvis tags along with him. He can see and communicate non-verbally with the ghosts but cannot hear anything they say. There's four books out now. I think the stories are very well written, there is comedy, tragedy, true love, and adventure.

Sorry, I've never done a book review so I'm hard pressed at what to say, other than they are excellent stories and I highly recommend them.

Odd Thomas
Forever Odd
Brother Odd
Odd Hours


http://www.deankoontz.com/books/list-of-books.php


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Homey
post Jan 11 2009, 02:58 PM
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I love to read...maybe too much. I am in the middle of State of Fear by Micheal Creighten (sp). It's ok. That's about as good as I can give this one.

Over the holidays I read all of the Twilight Series...Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. They're page turners...like eating peanuts. Very good and addictive.

I will be picking up the Lace Reader next. I'm not sure of the author, so I'll post it later w/ a review.


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Michelle
post Jan 11 2009, 05:03 PM
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QUOTE(Ang @ Jan 11 2009, 12:17 PM) *

I am a Dean Koontz fan.


I like Dean Koontz a lot too. The Odd Thomas books are great smile.gif Intensity is probably my favorite, but the guy is such a prolific writer that it's hard to keep them straight.

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Michelle
post Jan 11 2009, 05:07 PM
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QUOTE(Homey @ Jan 11 2009, 02:58 PM) *

I love to read...maybe too much. I am in the middle of State of Fear by Micheal Creighten (sp). It's ok. That's about as good as I can give this one.

Over the holidays I read all of the Twilight Series...Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. They're page turners...like eating peanuts. Very good and addictive.

I will be picking up the Lace Reader next. I'm not sure of the author, so I'll post it later w/ a review.


Yeah, I was pretty "meh" on State of Fear too. All of his books are issue books to some extent, but in that one, it really gets in the way of the story imo. I've been wanting to read the Twilight books, but they're constantly checked out. Have to wait for the hubbub to die down. Glad to hear they're worth the wait.
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Homey
post Jan 11 2009, 09:00 PM
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I wasn't going to read the Twilight series at first. I thought, oh boy, these are under the teen section...and then I thought, I don't need to read about teenage angst. But, I was given the Twilight book to read and I got hooked...so I ordered the rest of the series from Amazon. It was worth it.

I've been trying to read two books on Budism...and they're sitting there waiting for me...but I find I have to get in a state of mind to digest it. I will get there. I think it's like therapy...you have to accept it in doses! biggrin.gif


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Michelle
post Jan 11 2009, 10:14 PM
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Eh, I'll read teen books from time to time. Plus, the Twilight series seems to have plenty of adult fans. I feel ya on having to be in the right mood for a weighty book. smile.gif


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Roger Kaputnik
post Jan 12 2009, 03:39 PM
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Nearly finished with In the Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez. Stunning.


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Michelle
post Jan 12 2009, 06:33 PM
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QUOTE(Roger Kaputnik @ Jan 12 2009, 03:39 PM) *

Nearly finished with In the Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez. Stunning.


Adding to reading list. How is this stylistically? Kind of lyrical?
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Southsider2k12
post Jan 12 2009, 09:45 PM
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This is the book I am reading right now.

http://www.amazon.com/What-Goes-Up-Uncenso...s/dp/0316929662

It is called "what goes up" and it is a short history of modern Wall Street, as told by many of the people who made it what it is today. So far the highlight has been reading Bernie Madoff talking about believing in the little man, and that being the reason they founded the NASDAQ to operate the way that they did.
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Roger Kaputnik
post Jan 13 2009, 08:08 AM
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Yes, madoff sure believed in the little man all right. Isn't the Michael jackson afterschool daycare center part of that conglomerate?


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Michelle
post Apr 1 2009, 10:04 PM
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A couple new and great books I've read recently:

Lush Life

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A haunting novel by Richard Price (Clockers; co-writer, HBO's The Wire) that details the circumstances surrounding a street shooting in New York. Loosely arranged as a police procedural, the book probes the aftermath of the event from the point of view of the victim's family, witnesses, investigators, and perpetrators. It perfectly evokes its New York setting, and Richard Price has a keen ear for believable yet engaging dialogue. Thriller fans beware--this novel unfolds very slowly. But the believable and nuanced characters and thought-provoking story are worth the investment. Clocking in at just over 450 pages, this is somehow a page-turner but still a very weighty book. I'm still thinking about it weeks later.

Hardly Knew Her: Stories

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Short stories from the acclaimed crime writer Laura Lippman. IMO there are no weak stories in this collection. Each story hooked me from the start, even when the theme (women behaving in unexpected ways) prepared me for the "twist" in several stories. A first-rate read; cold-blooded yet wry. A fascinating collection. [parental warning: some of the content is not safe for kids or the faint of heart].
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Ang
post Apr 1 2009, 11:57 PM
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I am currently reading my first John Grisham novel. I picked The Firm because I don't like Tom Cruise and I haven't seen the movie. I like to read a book before the movie because I have this very wonderful imagination and it's fun to see the movie and how close I envisioned the story. However, in this case I may never see the movie because I don't like Tom Cruise. Anyway, the book is very good and I like the way the author writes. I avoided John Grisham because I thought the story would bore me but I was way wrong.
I think I'm going to continue with his novels. Any suggestions for the next one I should read?


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IndyTransplant
post Apr 2 2009, 05:59 AM
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QUOTE(Ang @ Apr 2 2009, 12:57 AM) *
I am currently reading my first John Grisham novel. I picked The Firm because I don't like Tom Cruise and I haven't seen the movie. I like to read a book before the movie because I have this very wonderful imagination and it's fun to see the movie and how close I envisioned the story. However, in this case I may never see the movie because I don't like Tom Cruise. Anyway, the book is very good and I like the way the author writes. I avoided John Grisham because I thought the story would bore me but I was way wrong.
I think I'm going to continue with his novels. Any suggestions for the next one I should read?


His first five novels (and most of the rest) are written in a similar vein to The Firm and almost all of his books have been made into movies. Of his early books, The Rainmaker, is one of my favorites. However for a different "read" of John Grisham, you might also someday consider Skipping Christmas.

I also like his books and surprisingly most of the movies made from them. Out of all of his books turned movies, A Time to Kill may be the movie I liked best.


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Homey
post Apr 2 2009, 06:45 AM
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QUOTE(Ang @ Apr 2 2009, 12:57 AM) *

I am currently reading my first John Grisham novel. I picked The Firm because I don't like Tom Cruise and I haven't seen the movie. I like to read a book before the movie because I have this very wonderful imagination and it's fun to see the movie and how close I envisioned the story. However, in this case I may never see the movie because I don't like Tom Cruise. Anyway, the book is very good and I like the way the author writes. I avoided John Grisham because I thought the story would bore me but I was way wrong.
I think I'm going to continue with his novels. Any suggestions for the next one I should read?



And here I thought I was the only person who didn't care for Tom Cruise! smile.gif The only role I liked him in was Tropic Thunder...maybe because he had so much make-up on. smile.gif


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Southsider2k12
post Apr 2 2009, 06:51 AM
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QUOTE(IndyTransplant @ Apr 2 2009, 06:59 AM) *

His first five novels (and most of the rest) are written in a similar vein to The Firm and almost all of his books have been made into movies. Of his early books, The Rainmaker, is one of my favorites. However for a different "read" of John Grisham, you might also someday consider Skipping Christmas.

I also like his books and surprisingly most of the movies made from them. Out of all of his books turned movies, A Time to Kill may be the movie I liked best.


A Time to Kill I literally read in a day. That book was BY FAR my favorite from Grisham.
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Michelle
post Apr 2 2009, 08:48 AM
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QUOTE(southsider2k9 @ Apr 2 2009, 07:51 AM) *

A Time to Kill I literally read in a day. That book was BY FAR my favorite from Grisham.


A Time to Kill is my favorite too. Grisham's new book, The Associate, is supposed to be very similar in plot/appeal to The Firm, although it's gotten some mediocre reviews. I haven't read it yet.

I thought Tom Cruise was great in Magnolia and pretty good in Minority Report. Different strokes for different folks, I guess smile.gif
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