The Paying Guests

payingThe Paying Guests
by Sarah Waters
2014 /  576 pages
read by Juliet Stevenson 21h 26m
Rating-  DNF – /  (less than 0 – I returned it)

Warning – this is a rant.  I am disgusted with this book – I don’t even like straight romance novels – this is a lesbian romance in a gothic setting so there’s huge suspense and a big old house and so forth – I’m not crazy about gothic either – not usually.  At least Amazon gives warning – Audible doesn’t – that I saw.

But why in the world do I keep listening?  >>>>MORE>>>>

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A Spool of Blue Thread

spoolofA Spool of Blue Thread
by Anne Tyler
2015/ 368 pages
read by Kimberly Farr 13h 23m
rating 5 (enjoyed parts of it)  / contemp fiction

I haven’t read a book by Anne Tyler in a long time because – well –  I’m not her biggest fan.  The few I’ve read have been okay basically,  but nothing to “watch this author” about.  Yes,  if your preference is realistically presented and character-driven novels Tyler might be your author.  For me,  great characters are wonderful,  but I prefer idea- and plot-driven novels – just a preference.  Tyler’s writing is adequate – actually, it’s pretty nice considering the kind of books she writes – the effect of accumulated details and pitch-perfect dialogue draws the reader in and she structures the novels well enough there is some tension somewhere – in a bare-bones frame story if nothing else.   >>>>MORE>>>> 

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The Man in the High Castle

pkdmanThe Man in the High Castle (review)
by Philip K. Dick
1962/ 259 pages
rating 9 / classic sci-fi (alternative history)

(This review contains no spoilers – the Notes section does –)

This book is only 250+ pages on my Kindle and PKD’s books and stories are complex and thought-provoking,  they are not known for being difficult reads.  So I expected an enjoyable little quickie-jiffy – HA!   I got involved.  I got really involved.  I read slowly, taking a lot of breaks,  savoring the concept, the themes, the plot and Googling a fair amount for background, context and specifics.  I didn’t want it to end so reading took me about a week with a couple other books on the side and ending up with a NOTES page as well.

This was written back in 1962 so it might seem dated to some readers,  but to me 50+ years ago makes it a classic and I get a little peek at what the world was like in 1962.   >>>>MORE>>>> 

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The Word Exchange

wordexThe Word Exchange
by Alena Graedon
2014/370 pages
read by Tavia Gilbert/Paul Michael Garcia / 16h 23m
rating:  4 / contemporary fiction (tech-dystopian)

Whew – long, long, long and although the concept is terrific the execution is a bit too convoluted.   I wanted to like this book – as a reading junkie and word lover with a great appreciation for dystopian fiction it sounded like it was right up my alley.   Alas,  I’m not sure why but it fell short of any mark.

The setting is a dystopian future where the use of a smart phone-like device called the Meme has hampered out ability to speak and then language itself is mangled and corrupted by technology and a greedy drive for money.   Otherwise normal people who are addicted to their devices turn aphasic (non-verbal).  And then comes a version of the Meme called the Nautilus which sticks to the user’s skin.  >>>>MORE>>>>


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Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

deadwakeDead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
by Erik Larson
2015/448 pages
read by Scott Brick 13h 4m
rating:  8.5  /  popular history
* both read and listened –

This is the 100th anniversary year of the sinking of the Lusitania so I suppose there is a bit more information being published.  I know barely the basics about the sinking of the Lusitania,  a fast and luxurious Cunard cruise ship destroyed by a German submarine in the early days of WWI – many, many people killed.   Larson says in the “Note to Readers” that he was surprised when he started delving into the details- there is a lot of info,  some of it “deliberately muddled.”   He also states in those Notes that “…this is a work of nonfiction.  Anything between quotation marks comes from a memoir, letter, telegram or other historical document.”  No matter how Larson has styled this book,  with an emphasis on suspense,  I rather enjoy that sometimes.   >>>>MORE>>>> 

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Dreamers of the Day

dreamersDreamers of the Day
by Mary Doria Russell
2008 / 288 pages
read by Ann Marie Lee – 11h 26m
rating:  5 / historical fiction

I was so prepared to enjoy this –  I’ve read all her other novels,  including the latest one,  Epigraph,  and I’ve enjoyed them all – until now.  Russell’s main claim to fame is her first novel,  The Sparrow of 1996 (link to Wiki article) and she’s not achieved those heights since although the writing is equally good – the originality of that marvelous book is missing.  (Maybe I would have liked this book better had I not had the expectations of another The Sparrow.)  I think all of her awards have been for that book.  >>>>MORE>>>>

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Everything I Never Told You

everythingEverything I Never Told You
by Celeste Ng
2014 / 304 pages
read by Cassandra Campbell
rating 7 / contemporary fiction

I’m not sure what, specifically,  this book is really about – either that or I’ve been beat over the head with a “message.”   Lydia Lee, a teenage girl from a bi-racial family,  goes missing and is found dead in a boat in the pond.   Her brother suspects the neighbor boy who was “courting” Lydia had something to do with it.  Suicide is the main direction the narrative suggests as the reason for the death.  >>>>MORE>>>>

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