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Sunday Book Review

gqmartinez's picture

It's Sunday and time for another book review/recommendation post. I apologize to the east coaster who have to wait for this West Coaster to post. So it goes.

What are you reading right now? What do you want to read? What are some books that were recommended to you that you probably wouldn't have read otherwise?

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gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

Two weeks ago, Valhalla recommended the Sookie Stackhouse series of books by Charlaine Harris. I picked up a copy of Dead Until Dark.

In truth, it wasn't my first choice. I went to the library last week only to find that it was under construction. I had to go to a smaller library a little further away. I had many books on my list, but the smaller library didn't have any available (I try to avoid putting holds so I force myself to chose something that is available) so I chose this book. I'm not quite finished, but I've found it pleasantly surprising. You can follow the link above for a more detailed description.

kerril's picture
Submitted by kerril on

Daphne DuMaurier has a way with the creepy and is not at all sentimental. To see the book as a romance only is missing what's fun about it. I re-read it recently and decided that the heroine was unstable herself. After all, she's okay with her husband being a murderer as long as he REALLY loves her. I don't know why I didn't catch that before, I think I was caught up in the romance bit and influenced by the movie.
But then I thought Jane Austen's Fanny Price was emotionally messed up too. I may be overdoing it.

Submitted by lambert on

(That description Mrs. Danvers [shudder] gives of her breaking a horse is just torture, since she makes it clear that Rebecca approaches everything that way.)

And you can also see the shooting as a sort of "suicide by cop."

On the the other hand, I see your point, and it's interesting to think of the heroine as an unreliable narrator, like the governess in The Turn of the Screw. (And you know what? I can't remember her name. Is that me, or Du Maurier?)

The coda, where Maxim gets away with it, is really terrific suspense, too. And I like that 30s milieu (as I read it, anyhow) which reminds me of both Sayers and Christie (although without the impact of the war and empire, which is so very prominent in the works of both those authors).

Basically, I'm running through all the series of B novels in the house, and now that I'm done with all the detective stories, it's on to Rebecca and Mary Stuart....

kerril's picture
Submitted by kerril on

it is just described as "unusual." And Rebecca may be evil, that I might grant but she never shot someone in cold blood while assuming they were pregnant.
What was fun (and probably unhealthy, whatever) was trying to figure out what "unnatural" things Maxim was told by Rebecca that she was up to in London and at the beach house. I figure in those days it would include much of what we consider normal now. She was obviously sleeping with her cousin but that seems pretty tame these days. Rebecca also makes me think of Hedda Gabler. Didn't she do the same thing with a horse, to the delight of her father? Which leads us to the Wild Sargasso Sea, a prequel to Jane Eyre by Jean Rhys told from the point of view of Rochester's mad wife. It will make you wonder all over about Rebecca.

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Submitted by Mandos on

I'm reading the newest (third) book of Daniel Abraham's "The Long Price Quartet" called An Autumn War. It is actually a very innovative addition to high fantasy. The latest book deals with Mutually Assured Destruction and the adjustment to power of some of the characters of the previous books, how their previous victories have changed their ethical outlook, and the price they pay for that.

It's a magical Persian-ish/Indian-ish world in which "poetry" is used to embody abstract concepts in human form. And these abstract concept people have immense power (related to their concept, like "Removing-the-Part-that-Continues" aka Seedless), while also being slaves, kind of like unfriendly genies. Those who control them have to power to obliterate their enemies in dreadful and ironic ways, while simultaneously being opposed by their own constructs---who are also necessary to the economic life of their civilization.

In An Autumn War, agents of an opposing (and magically powerless) civilization have found a very intriguing loophole in the magic, and a game-theoretic military power play commences.

This is one of the few fantasy series to give magic a system that is as intriguing and paradoxical as something you might find in classic SF. I mentioned it in a previous book thread, and I don't know how many fantasy and SF fans there are around here other than maybe Aeryl, but I highly recommend this series.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

A friend of mine bought this book for me and it was a very quick and engaging read. I remember a few years back reading an excerpt in the New Yorker and was very interested in reading it but completely forgot about it until I received it.

Here is the Wikipedia description (I'm too lazy to write my own, it was the first Google link, and I can vouch for its accuracy as of this time, the plot description that is):

The novel is an epic love story narrated by Yunior de Las Casas, the protagonist of Díaz's first book "Drown" and chronicles not just the "brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao," an overweight Dominican boy growing up in Paterson, New Jersey and obsessed with science fiction and fantasy novels, with comic books and role-playing games and with falling in love, but also the curse of the "fukú" that has plagued Oscar's family for generations and the Caribbean (and perhaps the entire world) since colonization and slavery.

The middle sections of the novel center on the lives of Oscar's runaway sister Lola and his mother Hypatia "Belicia" Cabral and his grandfather Abelard under the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. Rife with footnotes, science fiction and fantasy references, comic book analogies, various Spanish dialects and hip-hop inflected urban English, the novel is also a meditation on story-telling, Dominican diaspora and identity, masculinity, the contours of authoritarian power and the long horrifying history of slavery in the New World. The book also, though controversially, makes frequent use of the word Nigger in the form consistent with its urban vernacular usage.

I found the references to historical aspects of the Dominican Republic to be a great addition. The Dominican is hardly on my radar and it was great to have it thrust there if only for a moment.

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

I liked Ethan of Athos too, but my favorite in VK universe has to be Cetaganda.