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~Andrea~

Andrea's reading in 2019

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On 21/07/2019 at 9:40 PM, Hayley said:

Yes I would definitely say there are more plot driven novels out there. Although there are, of course, some very good ones mixed in with the one star type. Out of curiosity, what are your favourite 'not much happens' books? 

 

The classice example has to be Virginia Woolf. I'd also say that quite a lot of the classics have little actually happening (especially given the size of the book in some cases!); in crime, I think Simenon is a perfect example.

 

The phrase 'not much happens' is probably a bit simplistic and distracting - what I'm really contrasting is the plot-driven novel versus the character-driven novel.  The latter can have things 'happen', but much of what does derives as much as or more from character as from any outside agency.  The former tend to be about the plot as devised by the author, and the characters are often fairly irrelevant.  So, in much of Jane Austen (for instance) things do happen - if not quite to the same extent or as frenetically as in most plot-driven novels - but they happen primarily because of the interaction between and the development of the characters.  Even in something like a Dickens, where there is plenty going on usually, it's fundamentally the same. Even when the plot is dictated by an outside agency, the focus is on how it affects and changes the characters.  In a Patterson, Child or any mumber of (mainly) thrillers etc, plot is all, and for me they are thus usually as dull as ditchwater.

 

Edited by willoyd

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On 21/07/2019 at 11:18 AM, willoyd said:

Reading your review reminds me that I really need to return to Anne Tyler. I've read a couple of her books, and both have been pretty much as you describe.  No, nothing much happens (actually, in one it did, but it didn't feel like that), but that's not the point.  She's so into character examination and development, that that is where the focus lies, and the plot is pretty much about how or why people turn out the way they do.  Compulsively readable and thought-provoking.

Yes very readable. I'll definitely read her again.

 

On 21/07/2019 at 11:31 AM, Hayley said:

I've heard of Anne Tyler but never read anything by her. Usually 'not much happens' would be a pretty damning review for a book but this sounds fascinating! 

There was defintely a plot (of sorts) and I wanted to know what happened next, but it was more of a gently unfolding story that came out of the characters. I'd definitely recommend, Hayley.

 

On 24/07/2019 at 10:08 PM, willoyd said:

 

The phrase 'not much happens' is probably a bit simplistic and distracting - what I'm really contrasting is the plot-driven novel versus the character-driven novel.  The latter can have things 'happen', but much of what does derives as much as or more from character as from any outside agency.  The former tend to be about the plot as devised by the author, and the characters are often fairly irrelevant.  So, in much of Jane Austen (for instance) things do happen - if not quite to the same extent or as frenetically as in most plot-driven novels - but they happen primarily because of the interaction between and the development of the characters.  Even in something like a Dickens, where there is plenty going on usually, it's fundamentally the same. Even when the plot is dictated by an outside agency, the focus is on how it affects and changes the characters.  In a Patterson, Child or any mumber of (mainly) thrillers etc, plot is all, and for me they are thus usually as dull as ditchwater.

 

 

Yes it's all about character vs plot. For me reading is as much about spending time with interesting people as much as finding out what happens next. And I agree on the thrillers front. The characters are often very one-dimensional which makes those kind of books pretty forgettable for me.

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Renegade's Magic by Robin Hobb

 

Nevare Burvelle, a failed cadet of the military Academy, who enlisted in Gernia as a cemetery soldier under a different name has been accused of unspeakable crimes and forced to flee. The magic of the Specks which he has been trying to resist has finally taken him over, and he is compelled to work with the forest tribes and go against his own people.

 

The final installment of this somewhat tedious trilogy is another tome of nearly 800 pages. Again, as I probably said with the first two, I've no idea why it needed to be so long. Perhaps she was under some kind of contractual obligation in book length, who knows? Anyway I would have been quite happy had this book been two or three hundred pages shorter. A case in point is when the story seemed to wrap up quite nicely (and I was very ready for it to end at that point) but no, there was another hundred pages, where she introduced a new problem/adventure for the protagonist to face which felt completely tacked on, and all this followed by a lot of long-winded wrapping up of things that felt very unnecessary and overdone. One of the golden rules of writing is "arrive late, leave early", and I wish the author had paid some heed to that, as the story really outstayed its welcome. And again the pacing was quite slow, with lots of detail of the mundane and every day and not enough action to liven things up.

 

That said, I suppose something kept me reading. I was invested enough to see it through to the end, and being a Robin Hobb fan I'm glad I ploughed through it all, just to have a sense of completion of the Hobb canon. It's a shame though really, as there was potential for something decent here, it was just Far. Too. Long.

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Shame this one was a bit disappointing and too long! I enjoyed reading your review :).

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Ooh I'm being spoiled again by winning the July giveaway. A beautiful looking copy of A Christmas Carol which I shall enjoy later in the year and some very posh looking tea, which as a loose leaf girl I shall definitely enjoy! Thank you @Hayley :)

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The Well by Catherine Chanter

 

Set in the near future in an England plagued by drought and with new emergency laws to prevent the misuse of water, this book tells the story of Ruth, living under house arrest at The Well, the idyllic farm she bought with her husband Mark. Only the dream life they planned together became a nightmare in which she lost everything, including her precious grandson Lucien, whose tragic death at the Well is still a mystery she is desperate to solve.

 

This was an unusual kind of story, a dystopian, mystery thriller I guess. From the outset I was intrigued, though it started a little slowly. It's beautifully written and I was interested in the story as it slowly unfolded from the patchwork of Ruth's memories. I had a bit of a dip in the middle where I kind of lost my mojo with it and had to take a break, (however this was when recuperating from some minor hospital treatment so it may just have been I wasn't in the mood because of that) but I found I got quite engrossed in the second half of the book. Overall I enjoyed it, but I did find it at times relentlessly literary. The prose is crafted almost like poetry and it gave it quite a samey feel. I felt it could perhaps have done with some variation of style throughout to make it feel more dramatic and pacy. I'd recommend it though.

 

Edited by ~Andrea~

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Gemma Bovary by Posy Simmonds

 

From Amazon: Gemma is your average girl-about-London. Dumped by her ambitious lover, she rebounds onto a safe bet, gentle furniture restorer Charles Bovery. But Charles comes with an ex-wife and children and Gemma baulks at being the unpaid baby-sitter. When money falls into her lap, Gemma flees London and drags Charles to Normandy, where she spices up her increasingly dull marital life with a bit on the side named Patrick Large. But then she dies, under mysterious circumstances.

 

I read this when on a break from the previous read (The Well) while in post (minor) op recovery and it was the best medicine I could have asked for. I loved it. Great artwork, great writing, great characters, great plot and plenty of humour to boot. I think I'm rapidly becoming a Posy Simmonds megafan!

 

Edited by ~Andrea~

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On 5/4/2019 at 11:04 AM, Athena said:

That one looks interesting! My library's selection of graphic novels & comics is also more geared towards boys as well as children/YA in general. They don't have a lot of graphic novels for adults except the boyish ones (superman, batman, game of thrones). Most of the ones they have in the section are actually short comics written for mostly boys, sometimes for all genders.

I have struggled to find graphic novels for adults as well that are not geared towards boys. This is partially why I joined this forum for I have found most in book stores I visit when I travel. I highly recommend Crawl Space by Jessie Jacobs it is my all-time favorite non superhero/indie/alternative graphic novel.

 

Crawl Space is about a teenage girl who finds a portal to another dimension in her washing machine. The story is light hearted with some head scratching sci fi elements. Not to mention it is visually breathtaking, the cover speaks for itself.

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On 27/10/2019 at 2:33 PM, ~Andrea~ said:

 I loved it. Great artwork, great writing, great characters, great plot and plenty of humour to boot. I think I'm rapidly becoming a Posy Simmonds megafan!

 

I do agree!  Have you read Madame Bovary?  It's a while since I read both, but I remember the parallels were really interesting,

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14 hours ago, willoyd said:

 

I do agree!  Have you read Madame Bovary?  It's a while since I read both, but I remember the parallels were really interesting,

 

I'm afraid I haven't. Would you recommend it? Have you read any other Posy Simmonds?

Edited by ~Andrea~

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12 hours ago, ~Andrea~ said:

I'm afraid I haven't. Would you recommend it? Have you read any other Posy Simmonds?

Well, I enjoyed it, but not everybody hear feels the same! However, it's what Gemma Bovery is loosely based on, which is why I mentioned it.

I used to read the Posy cartoon in The Guardian fairly regularly (going back some years now!), and have read Tamara Drewe (based on Thomas Hardy).  Yet to read Cassandra Darke.

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Oh I really enjoyed Cassandra Darke. I'd definitely recommend that. And it's quite Christmassy so would be a good seasonal read!

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Frenchman's Creek by Daphne Du Maurier

 

From Amazon: To escape the shallowness of court life, Dona retreats to Navron, her husband's remote Cornish estate. There, she seeks peace in its solitary woods and hidden creeks. But she finds instead a daring pirate, hunted by all Cornwall, a Frenchman who, like Dona, would gamble his life for a moment's joy. Together, they embark upon a quest rife with danger and glory, one which bestows upon Dona the ultimate choice: sacrifice her lover to certain death or risk her own life to save him.

 

This was an enjoyable romantic adventure, with fine prose as one would expect from du Maurier, but quite a light read compared to some of her other work. The story moves along at a good pace and I read it quite quickly (for me). I liked the central characters (in spite of some dubious moral choices). Essentially it's a story to escape into rather than one which makes you think too deeply.

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I have Frenchman's Creek on my shelf so I'm glad you liked it and it's good to hear that it's an easy read because I wasn't expecting that it would be at all!

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I agree about Frenchman's Creek, very different to her other books in that it's quite light, a good summer read but not that memorable compared to some of her other novels.

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12 hours ago, Hayley said:

I have Frenchman's Creek on my shelf so I'm glad you liked it and it's good to hear that it's an easy read because I wasn't expecting that it would be at all!

 

Oh good. I hope you enjoy it Hayley.

 

1 hour ago, Madeleine said:

I agree about Frenchman's Creek, very different to her other books in that it's quite light, a good summer read but not that memorable compared to some of her other novels.

 

Yes it would have been a good holiday read actually. Not a book that stays with you but a decent bit of escapist fiction.

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