Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Reading, lately

The Quality of Silence - I'm a big fan of Rosamund Lupton's other two thrillers (Sister and Afterwards) so I had high hopes for this one, even though the premise seemed odd. A mother and her deaf daughter trek across the Alaskan wilderness in winter to find a missing husband/father. Verdict - it's better than you might expect based on the dust jacket summary, but not that great. The mystery is a stretch and the frakking plot is a bit heavy handed. I did like the descriptions of the intense cold of an Alaskan winter. They were my favorite part of the book. But Lupton's idea of how a ten year old would speak drove me mad - it's possible that it's accurate, but if I had to read "super coolio" one more time I was going to scream.

When Breath Becomes Air - I've been on the waitlist for this since it was released. I read Paul Kalanithi's essays in the NYT and Stanford Medicine magazine and cried, like most other people in the universe. His book is a beautiful memoir that explores his career as a doctor and the process of coming to grips with his terminal diagnosis. I so wish that my dad could have read this. He had such admiration for compassionate doctors (we were extremely blessed that his two main specialists were not just amazing doctors but also wonderful people) and he was a philosopher who wanted to approach death straight-forwardly, so I know he would have loved reading this, especially as he wrestled with the same issues. It's a heartbreaking and thought provoking look at mortality.

The Weight of Silence - A traumatized little girl who doesn't talk suddenly finds herself in a position where she has to speak to save a life. The whole plot takes place over the course of 24ish hours and it's fairly tense but I didn't love the writing.

What She Knew - Obviously I was auditioning thrillers this month. This one is about a boy who is kidnapped from under the nose of his mother, and explores in depth the repercussions of the case on the mother and the detective most closely involved. The plot is good but I think it could have benefited from some editing to tighten it up - it's a little long for the amount of action. That said, the ending was a good twist.

My Name is Lucy Barton - Another gorgeous novel by Elizabeth Strout. So well detailed and lovely. The narrator is a writer who comes from deep poverty, and I loved reading along as she finds her voice and deals with the tricky matter of telling the truth about people she loves who aren't all good or all bad.

The Silent Girls -  I almost quit this book immediately after the prologue, which is particularly gruesome and creepy. I was worried that it might be a supernatural type thriller (I will not, under any circumstances, read books about ghosts or anything like that). But I had nothing else to read so I decided to press on, and as it turns out it is a fairly straightforward detective story, albeit with some creepy aspects. But everyone is fully human! I'm a little torn on how to describe this one. I don't think it was necessarily an amazing psychological thriller (the pacing feels a little off sometimes and some of the characters are pretty flat), but I couldn't stop reading once I was into it and I was surprised by the ending. So, chalk it up as a win?

The Silent Wife - Okay, so I somehow ended up with four books with silence/silent in the title in this go-round. I can't remember if that's because I was searching for a particular one and then found these as well or if it's a coincidence. Weird. Anyways, I didn't like this book. The characters are a bit more like caricatures and they never came to life for me. This is billed as a thriller, but 90% of the book is just a description of a really depressing relationship as it falls apart. Other readers loved this, though, so it may just be that it wasn't quite right for me.


25 comments:

  1. Love your Reading, Lately posts! I read What She Knew, The Silent Girls, and The Silent Wife and I couldn't agree more with your descriptions! I am an avid psychological thriller reader. Right now, I am reading Into the Darkest Corner By Elizabeth Haynes and I am enthralled. My Kindle is sitting in my bag on my desk and I am so tempted to sneak a chapter in! Have you read Mary Kubica? I loved The Good Girl, but her other two (Pretty Baby and Don't You Cray) left me very disappointed. Keep reading and writing! Love it! xo

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    1. Oh! I literally just got the notification that my library hold came in for Into the Darkest Corner. Glad to hear you're enjoying it! Can't wait to dive in. I haven't read Mary Kubica, but I'll see if I can get Good Girl.

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    2. I finished Into the Darkest Corner this morning on my train ride in. I really enjoyed it and would love to hear your thoughts!

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    3. Don't you Cray. LOL. Obviously it's Cry and I didn't edit my comment :)

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  2. I too had been on the waiting list for When Breath Becomes Air, and I finally got it! Can't wait to read. On second thought, maybe I can wait just a little. I'm actually sort of reluctant because I don't feel prepared to confront the emotions that will likely surface...

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    1. It is really so good. Death is one of those things we don't talk about a lot, and wrestling with a terminal cancer diagnosis is such a crazy process. I really appreciated his writing, and his thoughts. But yes, all the emotions!

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  3. I have not been able to find a good thriller lately and not sure I would give any of these a try because of my disappointments! It's so weird, too, not even sure I can pinpoint what I am finding so objectionable.

    I think I mentioned this last but Dear Fang, With Love was really good.

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    1. Same here! I have a friend who wants a thriller rec, so I keep testing them out and nothing is working for me lately. Maybe I'm being too picky?

      Thanks for the rec, will have to add it to my list!

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    2. I thought about that, too. I would still read I Let You Go -- it was okay but I saw a lot of good reviews so could have been just me. I have a few ARCs coming up so I am hoping one of them is good -- All the Missing Girls, I'm Thinking of Ending Things, The Last One, History of Wolves, The Hatching, and The Sister. *Fingers crossed*

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  4. I have an almost 10 year old and I work with K-8 students every day. I can assure you that not once has the phrase "super coolio" ever been uttered by any age group. O_o

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    1. This is such a relief. I was hoping I'd be more tolerant in real life, but I'm not sure I could handle it.

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  5. I hated The Silent Wife, I thought it was such a waste of time...really didn't understand all of the good reviews. I may have recommended this in a comment here before, but The Kind Worth Killing is one of the most enjoyable thrillers I've read in a while. I'm reading He Will Be My Ruin right now, lots of good reviews, so far I'm not too sure about it though. Disappointing about the Rosamund Lupton, because I also loved her first two (especially Sister). Always happy to see book reviews from you!

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    1. Thank you! Will add The Kind Worth Killing to my list.

      I was so sad about not liking this Rosamund Lupton, but I suppose everyone is entitled to a dud now and then.

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  6. Brilliant post, as always! Have you read The Truth About The Henry Quebert Affair? It's a 'whodunnit' (do you have that expression in the States?) not a thriller but I've just finished and highly recommend it - couldn't put it down and had me guessing right 'til the end.

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    1. I haven't heard of it, thanks! I know it seems like I'm only obsessed with thrillers lately, but classic mysteries are my first love.

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  7. I LOVED "when breath becomes air" and "my name is lucy barton" so much so that I bought them! The prose in lucy...

    Rec for you: Wonder Garden. Read it twice, and my book group chatted with the author last night via skype, who was so lovely.

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    1. Thanks! My library had it available, so hopefully I'll get to it soon.

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  8. Love your reading posts!

    Just finished a mystery/thriller Before the Fall by Noah Hawley. Really good, interesting premise. Private plane full of people (some very powerful) disappears minutes after taking off from Martha's Vineyard. Only two survive, a little boy and a painter who has recently painted a series of disasters, including a plane crash. The story alternates between flashbacks of each person on the plane and the current investigation into the crash. Kept me up for a few nights.

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    1. I think I heard the author interviewed on NPR recently! Based on the premise I couldn't decide if I'd actually like the book or not, but I'll have to check it out!

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  9. Paul was a friend from Stanford Sierra Camp, and I loved his essays and the book, of course. I appreciated what Lucy said in the epilogue about how funny he was, because it was what I remember most fondly about him; he was hilarious.

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  10. Oh my goodness I've just finished My Name is Lucy Barton following your recommendation - I loved it, so beautiful and economic with words. Thank you. Next up is A Little Life - wish me luck!

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  11. Love these posts! Thank you so much for sharing.

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  12. i am with you on the anti-ghost thing. will not touch them with a ten foot pole. downloading my name is lucy barton right now!

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  13. I just went through all your book posts and am downloading a ton of your suggestions. I think I will enjoy them all. Have you read any of the Frieda Klein Series by Nicci French? They are awesome psychological thriller's set in London, and tell the story of psychologist Frieda and all the crazy crime around her. For people enjoying crime books I cannot stop recomending these ones...

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  14. I have recently discovered Rosamund Lupton's novels. She is my new favorite mystery writer. Her writing is exquisite and her characters are complex. The narrative is so engaging that I couldn't put it down and read the book in just two days. The Quality of Silence is set in Alaska and is narrated by a ten year old deaf child. As in Lupton's other two novels this is a page turner with many twists and turns. Highly recommended!

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