Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Neurotic Reader @LucyBurdette #amreading




LUCY BURDETTE: I am writing this from a truly desperate place: I am nearing the end of a book I loved and panicked about finding the right one to read next. It's so disappointing to start a book that isn't as good as I hoped it would be, and thrilling to find one that captivates me. I find myself dreading the end of a great book, slowing down the way Tonka does when he's being delivered to the dog sitter when what he really wanted was a walk with his family followed by supper and a nap.

I've read two books recently that I haven't loved, although I finished them both. One was written by an author that I usually admire and enjoy--one of my favorites lately. She writes novels about culture clashes and the complexities of people attempting to adjust to new lives in unfamiliar territories. Good stuff for these times. The other was a novel set in Paris, which for me should be a slam dunk--I'm crazy for Paris. But this one was skimmable. And that raises a neurotic reader's question: Must you finish a book once you start it? If not, how quickly do you abandon it? Or do you skim to the end, wanting to know what happens to the characters, or hoping against hope that it has to get better?

And that raises one more question, do you read reviews before you start a book? If I had read the Amazon reports on the book from one of my favorite authors, maybe I wouldn't have started it. Because plenty of people noted how dark the ending was. For me, life is dark enough--I prefer my fictional endings happy. Or at least to leave the reader with some glimmer of hope. And besides, these characters made some completely foolish life choices that bothered me as a writer, and a person. Why did no one wonder why the man was spiraling out of control? How did that writer feel about following through with an ending that grim?

If you happen to be reading this blog and you are a writer as well as the reader, how does that inform the process? As I'm reading a truly excellent book, I can't help thinking that I can never produce something quite as clever and deep and appealing.

Jungle reds, tell us about the highs and lows of your reading life. And what have you finished lately that knocked your socks off?

And PS, the book I was loathe to finish was THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYONE by Joshilyn Jackson, and here’s how she describes what kind of book she writes:

“Weirdo Fiction with a Shot of Southern Gothic Influence for Smart People Who Can Catch the Nuances but Who Like Narrative Drive, and Who Have a Sense of Humor but Who Are Willing to Go Down to Dark Places. 

I wouldn't have described it that way, but I will certainly read more of her books.




90 comments:

  1. Despite reading a lot, I always seem to have a teetering to-be-read pile or two waiting for me. So most of the time I’m in the middle of a book or starting a new one. Sometimes I find that the story doesn’t live up to the blurb on the back cover and I’m disappointed . . . but it’s been a few good really good reading days around here as most of the books I’ve read lately were quite good.

    At the top of my current rave list is Lisa Scottoline’s “One Perfect Lie.” Amazing . . . and with a perfect I-never-saw-it-coming twist in the middle of the story that changed everything I thought I knew about what was going on.
    Fiona Barton’s “The Child” was a hard-to-put-down story and David Gregory’s “Open” was a gem.
    I’ve enjoyed reading Ace Atkins’ Spenser tales; the newest, “Little White Lies” was a delightful tale and Stuart Woods’s newest Stone Barrington story, “Fast and Loose” was great fun.

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    1. thanks for all the suggestions Joan! Steve Hamilton is a wonderful writer, though my favorites are still his first northern Michigan series.

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  2. I will no longer finish a book that doesn't grab me, that is too filled with flaws. I had to put down the tenth (or so) book in a series by a favorite author because I felt she was phoning it in. NOTHING happened for the first many pages. I know she's better than that and I have too many books on the pile and the list that I want to get to.

    I just finished Sherry Harris's latest Garage Sale mystery, A Good Day to Buy, and loved it. Just before I left for Malice I read (finally) Barbara Shapiro's The Muralist. Wonderful, intriguing weaving of past and present. Now I'm reading debut author (and 2017 Agatha nominee) Alexia Gordon's Murder in G Major, and I'm already enchanted by her African-American musician sleuth with a new job in an Irish boys' school and a musician ghost in her cottage! I don't tend to read reviews before I start a book.

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    1. Looking forward to Sherry's book--she'll be here on the blog tomorrow! And I have THE MURALIST on my kindle, which I don't like reading as much as a real book. Maybe on the way to visit the baby...

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  3. Despite having overflowing bookshelves and a Kindle app full of unread books, I will still finish a book no matter what. Looking back at my Goodreads shelf, I have read 58 books this year so far. A few stand out: Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz and The Second Life of Nick Mason by Steve Hamilton get a rare 5 star rating from me. The Dark Iceland series by Ragnar Jonasson have also been great reads...4 of the 5 books have been translated into English. Book 5 is supposed to be published in October hopefully before Bouchercon and I am looking forward to meeting him again in Toronto.

    Ingrid: I also really enjoyed reading last month Duplicity and see that I will have to wait a while to find out what happens with Fina and the Ludlow family!

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    1. Oh, I love the dark Iceland series too Grace. If Jonasson will be at Bouchercon, I will have to have you introduce us!

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    2. Lucy: I was thrilled to meet Jonasson at Left Coast Crime after coming back from my Iceland trip this year. He told me that he was going to Bouchercon so I hope to see you both there!

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  4. I watched "Big Little Lies" with my daughter last month, and just read the book, which makes so much more sense than the tv episodes. As I finished Cleeves' Cold Earth I opened it back up to the first page. How does she do it?

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    1. Watching that now Margaret--one more episode to go so don't tell! I will read the book too, which is on my pile. And Cold Earth sounds like a good one...

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    2. Can't wait to read Cold Earth. I love the Shetland books!

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  5. Thanks to the recommendation of a friend, I'm reading OLD FILTH by Jane Gardam, a British writer, published in '06. It's like reading something a fabulous from the BBC. So dry, British, World War II. A little of the feeling of a Barbara Pym novel. BTW it's not about dirth. Here's how the author explains it on about page 1: "It was Old Filth. Great advocate, judge and — bit of a wit. Said to have invented FILTH — Failed in London Try Hong Kong. He tried Hong Kong." It's droll and deeply affecting.

    And because my new novel is set in South Carolina I'm also in the middle of Beaufort's beloved author Pat Conroy's Prince of Tides. Reading his poetic prose makes me feel mine is woefully underwritten. I do like reading outside my writing zone.

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    1. Me too Hallie--reading outside my writing zone!

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    2. Hallie, have you read Conroy's Beach Music? It's one of my favorite books ever.

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    4. Pat Conroy reaches in, grabs your heart and squeezes and squeezes. Prince of Tides tops my recommendation list, as does almost anything by Richard Russo, most notably Empire Falls and Nobody's Fool.

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    5. I haven't read Beach music, Kathy - it's up next.

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  6. Interesting questions Lucy Roberta. BTW, I love that name. So southern.

    I no longer finish a book I'm not interested in. Life is too short. Most of my reading is on Kindle and between eight PM and midnight, when my eyes are tired. I love being able to increase the font until I'm getting about one word a page! The other advantage of reading on Kindle is the samples. I never ever buy until I've read and liked the sample. Saves a ton of money and heartbreak. (Grins.)

    Most recently I've read YOU'LL NEVER KNOW, DEAR, by YOU KNOW WHO, PRINCE CHARLES, by Lucy Bedell Smith, INTO THE WATER by Paula Hawkins, THE GOOD THIEF, by Hannah Tinti, THE RADIUM GIRLS, by Kate Moore, COLD EARTH by Ann Cleeves, ALEX by Pierre LeMaitre, and also IRENE, ibid.

    Presently I'm engrossed in CELINE, by Peter Heller, has all the attributes of a TGR. Also WHAT MY BODY REMEMBERS, by Agnete Friis, half the duo of Kaaberbol and Friis, who wrote THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE and a number of other really good reads. Sadly, they are going their separate ways now.

    Last night a couple of new books landed on my Kindle: THE THIRST, by Jo Nesbo, and SINCE WE FELL, by Dennis Lahane. Both have been long anticipated.

    Just went back and counted. I've read 63 books so far this year. Holy crap. Often I start one in the evening and finish it the next. Sometimes I take a bit longer, took me six weeks to read WAR AND PEACE, no kidding.

    I rarely read anywhere but in bed. Or on a plane. The older I get, the more easily I am distracted, and I can't have music on or dogs romping or voices going by. This may be a good thing, considering the amount of my discretionary income that goes to supporting writers!

    Lucy Roberta, have a look at CELINE. It is beautifully written, and I'm finding a gem of a sentence on every page. I'm finding it better than I ever hoped it would be. Happy reading



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    1. Oh thank you, in fact I think my sister may have just sent me that! I will go upstairs and take a look.

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  7. I could probably not buy another book for 10 years ( not that that will happen, haha) and have enough to read despite going through 3-5 books a week. I But, even so, I will not read a poorly written, boring book. My criteria is usually 50 pages. If you have not grabbed my attention by then you probably won't at all.

    I recently finished "The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend" and thought it was wonderful. It's a bit flight of fancy and certainly quirky but in many ways a love story to books.

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    1. I liked that one, but not as much as the AJ Fikry Book whose name I am not not remembering exactly. It was set at a bookstore on Nantucket I think.

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    2. The Storied Life of AJ Fikry is the book I was trying to remember

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  8. If I'm reading a book for review, I have to finish it even if I wish I could throw it away. (This happened with one of my upcoming reviews.)

    If I'm reading for fun, I can stop if I find the book impossible to finish, but it usually takes me a LONG time to decide that in which case I'm so far into the book, I tend to suck it up and finish reading.

    But there have been a few times where I stopped.

    I generally don't read too many reviews when deciding if I'm going to pick up a book, except the ones in the three magazines I read (Mystery Scene, The Big Thrill, Suspense Magazine).

    As for books I've liked recently, four come to mind.

    A Single Spy by William Christie (My MS review: http://www.mysteryscenemag.com/26-reviews/books/5636-a-single-spy

    Pendulum by Adam Hamdy (I've got a review coming soon I hope.)

    Elementary, She Read and We Wish You A Murderous Christmas by Vicki Delany

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    1. Thanks for those suggestions! This is the problem I have lately – by the time I've decided it's not worth continuing, I'm too far along to give up.

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  9. I'm working my way through the Expanse novels by James S.A. Corey, the pen name of co-authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. I saw the pilot episode of The Expanse streaming on Amazon and immediately ordered the first book, LEVIATHAN WAKES. It was so good, I got the rest of the books to this point AND the three novellas. (I still haven't gotten back to watching the TV series.)

    My problem? I'm on the sixth novel, BABYLON'S ASHES, and there won't be another one until December! What shall I do?

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    1. You do what we do while waiting for your next book---twiddle your thumbs and think,"What the heck is she doing having a personal life?""

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    2. Lol Wendy! In other words, how about finishing that book we are all dying to read Julia?? XOXO

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  10. I used to be patient, and read all the way to the end of a book, but no more. I have loved reading since before I actually learned how to do it myself, but my reading hours are limited these days, and I refuse to waste them on characters I don't like, or stories that aren't going anywhere. The only reason I've decided to push on to the end of the book I'm currently reading--by and author I usually gulp down greedily--is because it's part of a series and I need to know how her characters will move forward from here. But, seriously, this is her second novel, and her characters spend an inordinate amount of time standing around, savoring the scenery, and contemplating their life choices, without doing much of anything active. I know, because I started with a later book in the series, that the writer gets better, but this one is just a slog. If I hadn't cared about the characters, it would have gone on the resale stack 100 pages in.

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  11. I don't read reviews before I read a book. I mean, I might listen to a friend's review/recommendation, but I don't look at Amazon/Goodreads/NYT - nothing.

    I also no longer finish books that don't grab me. I put down one that people raved over because there was too much in the first chapter that made me shake my head and say, "Really? REALLY?"

    Things I've read recently that I've truly loved: DUPLICITY, PAST CRIMES, THE DAY SHE DIED.

    Mary/Liz

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    1. Ingrid's Duplicity is the best PI novel I've read in years!

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    2. Thanks, Jay! You're such a wonderful cheerleader!

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    3. Mary, So glad you liked DUPLICITY! I just read the ARC of Glen Erik Hamilton's latest, EVERY DAY ABOVE GROUND, which will be out in July. It's terrific.

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    4. Ingrid, you know that when I like something I give it my full support, so rah rah sis-boom-bah when it comes to talking about all things Fina!

      As for the Van Shaw series, I have the first book but haven't gotten to reading it yet. The 2nd comes out in PB at the of this month I think and I'm likely to grab that up as well.

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    5. Jay, the first Van Shaw is excellent.

      Ingrid, I'm only sad I haven't had the opportunity to go back and read the previous books - yet.

      Mary/Liz

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    6. Mary, you'll find that the first three books in the Fina series are just so damn good!

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  12. I forgot about the reviews. I don't read those on Amazon, just don't find value there. I do write reviews on occasion, never a bad one though. I keep quiet about books I don't like. But my guilty pleasure is, or perhaps was, the Sunday NYT reviews. This is where I often find new authors. My peeve is although 50-60% of books on the best seller list are mysteries or the ilk, there are rarely more than brief reviews of those books the country is reading! And now even Marilyn Stasi's crime column is appearing every two weeks instead of weekly. I know print newspapers have declining sales. So I am intrigued that they aren't pandering to the buying public in their book promotions.

    Ann in Rochester, part of the public who should be pandered to!

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  13. Agreed, life is too short to read bad (or even so-so) books. If I had a rule about finishing every book I started, I would start far fewer, unwilling to take a chance that I might have to finish it no matter what.

    The cut-off point varies with the book. It's the author's job to draw me in and keep me there. If they fail to do so by chapter 4, or if it's clear from the start we're not going to get along (e.g., the detective who made sexual comments about his potential client three times in the first three pages), or I just don't care what happens to the characters.... On to the next book.

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  14. Oh, I read the reviews after I read the book, to see if they agree with me. And my cut off point is very very soon… Maybe 10 pages.
    I recently read a book which will go unnamed which, after 14 pages, I had no idea where or when it took place. Seriously! That book is a no.

    And I need some good suggestions, too. I just finished judging the Edgars juvenile division, and if you're looking for a terrific book, any of the finalists are completely fabulous.
    OCDaniel won, but I also recommend some kind of wonderful, and summer los and Framed.

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    1. Yes, second Hank's opinion on this! This lineup of supposedly middle grade books was right up my alley. We had our socks knocked off on this committee.

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  15. And I'll add, I was recently at the cottage on a rainy (of course) weekend with two library books. I was slogging through the opening chapters of the latest in a highly regarded series when my eye fell on the other book. So I picked up The Couple Next Door by Shari LaPena for a change of pace, and absolutely gobbled it up. Totally totally absorbing. She just never stops delivering the punches.

    (I eventually went back and finished the other book, because rain.)

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    1. What a great book this is! I forgot about it… And I absolutely loved it! Jonathan did, too.

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  16. All of Joss Jackson's books, at least the ones I've read, are the same. She's very good at creating a world you get sucked right into, and don't want to end.

    I just finished Designated Daughters, by another TLC alum, Margaret Maron. I especially didn't want that book to end, knowing it's the last Deborah Knott book in her long series.

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  17. I won't finish a book if it doesn't grab me by the end of the second chapter. I am reading the latest Maeve Kerrigan mystery by Jane Casey, Let the Dead Speak, which won't be available in the US until July, but I got it in London 2 weeks ago. On my TBR pile are the Alison Weir novels on Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn that I picked up in Stratford at her book signing. I loved Garden of Lamentations by Deborah Crombie and am impatiently waiting for her next book. I also am waiting for the next Maggie Hope mystery by Susan Elia MacNeal.

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  18. I have to sneak time to read at the moment because of, well, work, but I too just finished Ann Cleeves' Cold Earth and it kept me up way too late! At this point in my life, I don't finish anything that doesn't hold my attention. I know that someone sat typing away, giving it their all, to finish a book AND they were lucky enough to be published, BUT, I don't feel obligated to slog through something that I find boring or stupid. So, a few pages, maybe a chapter. And thanks for all the reading suggestions today!!

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  19. Karen in Ohio, Margaret Maron's last Deborah Knott book is LONG UPON THE LAND. It is fabulous of course.
    I just finished (read in a day, could not put it down) Dana Stabenow's latest, LESS THAN TREASON and have just gone back to the beginning to reread. I make myself finish the books for my book group but no longer push myself for others.
    Hallie, OLD FILTH is wonderful. Read the next two which are equally good.
    All of you, Reds, keep writng. We need you.

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    1. Oh, thank you. Of course! Now I have another to look forward to.

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  20. The book I always recommend is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society -- it is just a wonderful book that you don't want to end, and it really makes you want to visit and research the Channel Islands. I recently read a book by one of my very favorite historical fiction writers -- his last book was 20 years ago, but the new one only got so-so reviews. I thought, well, I love his writing, and I know I will love his book, no matter what anyone says. Well, unfortunately the reviews were spot on.

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    1. That book is on my Nook. I haven't gotten to it yet, but someday!

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    2. Loved loved loved love that book Celia! That's the kind of book that's hard to find a follow up for

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    3. I loved that book and it led me to find a site, Visit Guernsey. If I can't go in person (yet) I can visit online!

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    4. I loved that book, and it's one that I didn't want to end. It makes me want to visit Guernsey, too.

      Deb Romano

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  21. Thanks to all for even more great-sounding candidates for Mount Tooby. I used to hate to give up on a book, but with so many great ones clamoring for my attention, I'm now willing to abandon one if the author hasn't grabbed me after about 40 pages. Unless, of course, it's for review, in which case I slog on through. Most of my reading of late is based on recommendations, and they're usually good ones.

    My favorite mysteries so far this year are Brutality, Mandarin Plaid, and Joe Ide's IQ. I read a lot of different things; other highlights have included Swing Time, The Underground Railroad, and Michael Eric Dyson's Tears We Cannot Stop. I'm currently reading Ursula LeGuin's translation of the Tao Te Ching, which is wonderfully lyrical.

    In response to a couple of comments yesterday: @Edith, my wife is a birthright Friend; I'm an attender and participant but haven't felt moved to join. @Lucy and Debs, it's wonderful of you to call me intrepid, and I probably deserve it a little, but the truly intrepid one is my wife.

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  22. I will stop on page 1 of a book if it does not grab me. I have zero patience--but many things grab me, so I always have something to read. I don't read reviews at all, not even when I am a contributor or editor. I will read book jacket copy and the first paragraph, or the sneak preview online. I also listen to friends' recommendations.

    I am reading a biography right now of Andrew Wyeth and enjoying comparing his approach to painting to a writer's approach to storytelling. It's good to stretch the old brain with some nonfiction now and then.

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  23. Susan D., I read THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR and couldn't put it down! I can't wait to start the new Ann Cleeves and the latest Dennis Lehane. I just finished ARCs for the third book in Glen Erik Hamilton's Van Shaw series, EVERY DAY ABOVE GROUND and also James Ziskin's new Ellie Stone book, CAST THE FIRST STONE. They are both great and something fore readers to look forward to in the next couple of months. I picked up the latest Jodi Picoult book on a whim, SMALL GREAT THINGS, and found it to be a real page turner.

    Isn't it reassuring when life gets crazy that there are always so many wonderful books to read? I guess death, taxes, and books are the things that are certain!

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  24. I just had my socks knocked off by A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW by Amor Towles. It was not my usual taste, but it was excellent. It begins in the 1920's, with a man who was from a noble family in Russia and had published an anti-Bolshevik poem being sentenced to house arrest in a Moscow hotel. The book follows his life in that hotel for more than 30 years. He is a well-drawn, three-dimensional character I really grew to care about, the book gave lots of insight into developments in Russia over the 30 years, and yes, it ended on an uplifting note.

    I don't bother with reviews for books by known authors, but I am increasingly reading reviews to find new authors to read, and keeping a literal rather than figurative TBR. (I include positive comments on this blog as reviews.) This is part of a new practice I have started just this year of trying to be more intentional about my reading selections, and so far I feel like it has led me to good books I definitely would have overlooked before.

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    1. Have to agree, that book was excellent. And surprisingly absorbing. It was quite different from the author's first, and equally excellent, book, Rules of Civility.

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  25. So, it's probably bad to confess that I don't read reviews. I don't want them to color my impressions of a book. I will after I've read it, but not before.

    I must finish a book. I have to know how it ends. Yes, I might start skimming just to get it over with faster, but I read fast enough that it usually isn't an issue.

    I'm going to recommend something in the Middle Grade genre. Panda-monium is the latest in Stuart Gibbs' FunJungle series set at a zoo. Some information about endangered animals with a fantastic mystery and laughs. Honestly, if you haven't gotten these for the kids in your life, they are missing out. And if you don't steal them back to read for yourself, you are missing out.

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  26. I have gotten ruthless in abandoning books and moving on, knowing I'll never finish all the good books I want to read. I picked up the habit of reading page 69, far enough in for stuff to be happening, as a test. Sometimes, very rarely, if a book is dragging, I will read the ending before giving it back, and once the ending gave me what I needed to go back and give it another chance. I've gotten selective even about the book club selections; sometimes I'll go for the discussion and sometimes not even that -- we've had some rather depressing ones.
    I loved Lisa Scottoline’s “One Perfect Lie" so much that I had to wait a day to start another book, just didn't want to disturb the plot in my mind. Another recent treasure was Karen White's THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT. I will read and "like" reviews when I go to post mine, which I only do for books I love, five stars or nothing from me. I scroll past the mean-spirited ones and do not want to write negative reviews.

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    1. Mary, I'm reading One Perfect Lie right now! Let's talk when I finish ... xx

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  27. It's great to read all these book recommendations! (Like I need more, but still...) I don't finish books that I'm not enjoying anymore. I think some of it is getting older; life is too short. I sometimes read Amazon reviews, if I'm trying to decide whether to order a new book by an author I've never read. Or recently, trying to decide between the free Kindle books you get monthly with a prime membership, to see if they agree.

    I recently finished Garden of Lamentations and loved it - but I knew I would!!! Also, in part because I was going to the Keys, I read Lucy's first Key West mystery. I am hooked and just downloaded the second one. Also, loved Hallie's first book and Ray Anderson's The Trail. Both were fast-moving and hard to put down, and I now have second books of theirs on the TBR list. (Can't do a pile anymore - too many books!)

    I noticed that a couple of people mentioned Margaret Maron's last Deborah Knott book. I read it a while ago. It was so good and so sad that it's the last. I reread a few short story collections of hers that I had on Kindle - so good and a couple of them brought tears to my eyes. It made me happy because I believe she said she would still write short stories and stand-alones when she finished the last Sigrid Harold book. Looking forward to that!

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    1. thanks so much for trying the Key West series Mary!

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  28. I'm ruthless these days, too. The only way I will persevere with a book I don't like is if it's one of a series that I like, and even then my patience only stretches so far.

    Nor do I read reviews, although I do read recommendations in bookstore newsletters, and I buy books based on good comments from reader and writer friends (including too many books that we feature on JRW...)

    But I have to admit to being addicted to Book Bub, and I buy way too many e-books just because they sound interesting and I like the sample. Interestingly, very few of them are crime fiction.

    Of the last two books I've read that I didn't want to end, one was Hallie's YOU'LL NEVER KNOW, DEAR, which I adored and couldn't put down, and the other was a first novel by Fay Keenan called THE SECOND CHANCE TEA SHOP. Obviously British, obviously a romance, but I loved the setting and the characters so much that they stayed with me a long time afterwards.

    Thanks for all the great recommendations today--more to add to the huge list!

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    1. Exactly Debs! That's why I have so many darn books on my Kindle that I don't read LOL. I try to be much more selective now and ask myself if this is really something I'd be interested in reading

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    2. Agree on YOU'LL NEVER KNOW, DEAR--this is Hallie's best book yet!

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    3. Just stumbled across your comment, Deborah, and wanted to say thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed 'The Second Chance Tea Shop' :). There will definitely be another one on the way soon...:) xx

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  29. I'm listening to The Temporary Gentleman by Sebastian Barry, an author I've just come to know and who is going on my list of favorite. Beside the bathtub are two Writers Digest anthologies on writing. In the living room is Level Best's Busted! anthology (that I'm in) and Rules of Civility by Amor Towles(OMG!). If I get to the 25% mark of a book and can't seen spending one more moment of what's left of my life on it, I quit. If I have a book hangover from having finished a book with a powerful impact and can't imagine how to follow that up, I switch genres.

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    1. I may have to go hunt up Rules of Civility, if it's even close to as engaging as A Gentleman in Moscow was!

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  30. I don't read reviews prior to reading a book; I don't want to be influenced by a stranger's opinion.

    If I have trouble getting into a book, I don't finish it. There was a time when I forced myself to finish every book I started reading. I'm older now, though, and want to reserve my reading time for something that will give me pleasure!

    If a book by a favorite author doesn't immediately grab my interest, I rarely force myself to finish it. My attitude is that not all well-written books are for everyone. I have a friend who is a gourmet chef and loves to cook for her friends. I happily try everything she puts in front of me. There has been the rare occasion when I didn't especially like something. It doesn't mean she stopped being a good cook; some foods are more palatable to me than others. If I don't like a book by a favorite author I assume it's just not to my taste, and I wait for the next book.


    Deb Romano

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  31. I do read reviews but only from Booklist or Library Journal (librarian!). Because I'm wading into the romantic comedy genre, I've been reading Kristan Higgins and Susan Elizabeth Philips (love them both!) and I just fell madly in love with The Hating Game (a debut novel) by Australian Sally Thorne. As a writer, it doesn't bother me to read authors who I feel are better than me who will likely always be better than I am at working their wordy magics, because this is a long game and I have no idea what might come out of me in one, five or ten years time. I think those authors teach me and encourage me to dig deeper and challenge myself more. I find them inspiring.

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    1. You are so smart about the long game Jenn! And Kristan Higgins is a master in the romantic comedy genre. I read everything she writes. Looking forward to your first book, I bet it will be just as good

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  32. P.S. I will absolutely quit on a book if I am not engaged by the end of the first chapter. Life is too short for bad books.

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  33. I find I enjoy anything by Karen White. Her stories are always multi-layered. And the last two novels by Kristin Higgins. They both involved sisters and what was happening in their lives. Loved the stories. Beatriz Williams is also an ace author and I enjoy her books very much. She manages to put in members of the Schuyler family of various generations into each story as either main characters or cameos. Some authors never disappoint: the Todds, Jacqueline Winspear, Louise Penny. Yeesh I could go on and on. I recently read the latest from a favorite author and was left a little flat by the ending. She totally squashed any chance of a romantic relationship by introducing a new character. I need to check the previous book to see if the no-romance was hinted at and I just forgot.

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  34. I will abandon a book if I'm not feeling it but that doesn't seem to happen much anymore thanks to Kindle samples.

    And I read reviews but usually only the bad ones. My theory is that the gushy 5 star reviews don't tell you much because those are either the hard core fans/family/friends but it's easy to see if the 1 stars are pushing an agenda - don't like the political lean, don't like cursing, don't like pre-marital sex (I find all three of those particular hilarious if it's a murder mystery - it's okay for some guy to axe murder his wife but he can't cuss while doing it), then I move on to 2 stars and 3 stars. I stop reading reviews when/if cogent arguments outweigh reviews with agendas, are one sentence or less, or reviews with misspelled words and/or lacking punctuation.

    What I'm reading now? I've been writing so much I've put off reading but I did finally pick up the first book in Elizabeth Peters's Amelia Peabody series. I see what everyone had been crowing about. :)

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    1. I just couldn't get into Amelia Peabody but loved her Vicki Bliss series. Years ago I came across five of her books on audio tape in an outdoor used bookstore. They were read perfectly by Kathleen Turner. Score!.

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  35. Roberta, have you read Helen Simenson's Major Pettigrew's Last Stand? It's one of my all-time favorite books. She has a new book that I just picked up recently, The Summer Before the War. I'm almost afraid to read it, since I loved Major Pettigrew so much.

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    1. Karen, I didn't know she had a new book out. The Major Pettigrew book was one that was hard to put down! I'll probably look for her new book at the library.

      Deb Romano

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    2. Karen, yes, that was absolutely a favorite. I have the newer one on my pile, but waiting to start it for the same reason. Readers are funny!

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  36. I don't read reviews before reading a book for several reasons. First, I don't want to inadvertently been influenced by someone else's opinion. Second, there are people who review and don't mark their spoilers as such. Last night, I was fortunate to hear Lori Rader-Day speak and have dinner with her, her publicist, and Lesa Holesteine after, and we were talking about this very thing, spoilers in reviews. And, then one of the most important reasons for me personally that I don't read reviews before reading the book or even right after is that I write reviews and don't want to be influenced in that writing.

    Ive been so lucky this year in my reading in that it's pretty much been one great read after another. However, I do hate giving up on a book. I will do it, but I can't remember any in recent memory I've had to toss.

    Recent great reads have been Lori Rader-Day's The Day I Died and Karin Salvalaggio's Silent Rain. I'm finally reading Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry, and it's as good as friends told me it would be. This week I'll also be reading Jim Ziskin's Cast the First Stone, and I hope to be reading either Hallie's You'll Never Know, Dear or Triss Stein's latest mystery in her Brooklyn series.

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  37. I usually don't read reviews before I read a book -- too many spoilers and it's all so subjective. I do rely on word of mouth about books. But I have started giving up on books. I don't like to but do occasionally. Sherry Harris -- no idea why it won't put my name on this.

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  38. I sometimes stick with a book I'm not in love with because I want to find out "what's the big deal?" about a book or an author that's getting lots of acclaim. Or if I know it's doing something I don't normally do, e.g., with POV or chronology, that I want to learn from.

    One More Way Writers Are Weird!

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    1. Makes sense to me Leslie! The book I finished last night was a big bestseller, but for me, a skimmer.

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  39. I would love to recommend some of the books I've recently read but have been having a hard time remembering book titles in the past couple of years. ("Everybody should read that book by what's her name. Or is it 'his' name? You know, the one about that thing that happened to those people in that place but then it all turned out okay?")

    In November I finally began reading books by an author who has been on my TBR list for a couple of years. (Not one of the Reds!)Some of the books are a little too gory for me so I skip lots of paragraphs. There are two protagonists, and the point of view alternates between the two. I HATE one of the protagonists but I keep reading the next book, and the next, in the series. Why? The author tells a darn good story! I'm seeing a little bit of growth in the one protagonist I don't like, and I know I will continue to read the series. And if the author ever kills off the annoying protagonist, boy, will I be disappointed!

    All this to say that I don't have to love the characters in order to love the books. The author has received some well-deserved awards.

    Deb Romano

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    1. So interesting Deb! If I was skipping paragraphs because of gore, I think I would call it a day with that series. Every one of us is different!

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  40. I have to say, I think I have only not read about 2-3 books that I started. One sounded like it would be very enjoyable. It was horrible. The writing style was just way too hard to sift through and I could never figure out what direction the main character was going. I was reviewing the book, so tried and tried to read it. In the end I gave it 3 stars for the effort, but had to admit it was not for me and couldnt get into it. The other book I remember not reading was just too boring. Thankfully it was not for review. I have been very disappointed in one specific cozy series that has gone in a completely different direction. I end up skimming every book, trying to find the parts that still resemble the first 10 or so in the series. That is not fun, but I hate to give up on characters I have invested so much time and emotion in to.

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  41. If a book doesn't interest me in about 50 pages, I just stop. I really don't understand people who feel and "obligated" to the author to finish. It's the authors job to interest the reader, and I'd say that whether I am the author OR the reader. Life is just to short to read a book I am not enjoying. Now, if I like an author, and the book isn't' workign for me, I might stick it out awhile. And if I recognize that it's a good book but the wrong one at that time, I might try again. And sometimes I will skip to the end and if that is interesting, I will keep reading from where I stopped. Recent read? I just read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for the first time! I dot know how I missed it when i was young, bookworm that I was. And yes, it turned out to be just as good as everyone said it was.

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  42. Hi, Sherry! SO nice to have you here at Jungle Red. I'm a CT girl so I totally get the MA driving thing - they're wicked bad. My brother lives in MA and has for 30 years - if he's this - it's game on (which is pronounced awn, btw). I can't wait to pick up your books - it'll be like a trip home for me. I loved this post! Question: Do you and your conscience converse like this when you're writing? LOL!

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  43. Since you asked, I confess that I read at least 115 pages (in the Random House Vintage Books version) to get hooked by an incredible writer. I had read Dorothy Dunnett's Johnson Johnson mysteries whose book jackets had referred to her Lymond Chronicles so I planned to start reading them -- from the public library. Of course, I couldn't get Game of Kings (book 1) so I started Queens' Play (Book 2). It was hard slogging, seemingly hundreds of characters speaking French (it was 16th century France after all), etc., etc. I decided to return it to the library, put the book in my trunk, and went to the airport to pick up my in-laws. Providentially, their flight was late, and I retrieved the book from my trunk to have something to read while I waited. I must have waited a long time (the weather was bad) because when when I read the hunt scene starting on page 115 I was hooked -- forever. I read the remaining Lymond Chronicles mostly in order as quickly as I could get them from the library, culminating in an all-night read of Checkmate (book 6) on Election Day 1984. I just checked Amazon, and the Lymond Chronicles and House of Niccolo are still available in print and in Kindle format to captivate readers. They are extremely rewarding, but difficult reading. And then there is King Hereafter, her standalone take on Macbeth. Probably my personal favorite. Lady Dunnett died in 2001 after an extraordinary life that introduced her readers to Scotland and to the world in the 15th and 16th centuries.

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