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Search tags: crowdsourced-a-badass-booklikes-list-a-through-k
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review 2020-02-26 17:47
Possession by A.S. Byatt
Possession - A.S. Byatt

I don't even know where to begin with this book. I bought a used copy from Abebooks because it's on my Round 2 Classics Club list, and I've been meaning to reread it. I read it for the first time decades ago, around the time that it won the Booker Prize. I remember really loving it when I first read it, and I loved it even more this time around.

 

This book is everything I want in a piece of literary fiction. I love Victorian novels anyway - you'll often find me reading Trollope or Gaskell or one of the Brontes or something by Wilkie Collins (less so Dickens because my relationship with Dickens is complicated) - so reading a book about a pair Victorian poets was already going to be something that would work really well for me.

 

I also love a well-done dual timeline, although that particular device has gotten to the point where it is sadly overused by people whose writing chops are inadequate to manage it. This one moves back and forth between the Christabel/Randolph Ash timeline and the present with Roland & Maud. I almost always like the historical timeline better, but Byatt's character development is so good that I enjoyed the present timeline as much as the historical stuff.

 

Which brings me to the academic literary detective work. That is like some sort of catnip to me. I love it desperately and find it incredibly intriguing. Finding connections between authors, their works, other authors, mining for clues, that's just so much fun. This book had that in spades.

 

I also have to just note how incredibly well-done this book is. It is replete with an entire, collateral, body of work of these two poets in what I would call the "evidentiary" portions of the book. The letters, the poems, wow. She spends very little time narrating the lives of Christabel LaMotte and Randolph Ash and yet, through their letters and poems, they spring off the page in certain ways and yet remain ciphers in others. I absolutely loved this - it felt so real.

 

The book does start out a bit slow, but the second half is phenomenal. By the end, I couldn't put it down. The final reveal wasn't really a surprise - I'd been suspecting something along the lines of the ending for a good chunk of the book (and, of course, I have read it before, although my recollection was dimmed by the passage of time). 

 

Anyway, I absolutely loved this book. I'm half inclined to just open it up at the beginning and read it again, so that I can savor the structure and the clues once more, now that I know where it is all headed. I probably won't, but I am mentally penciling this book in for a reread in six months or so just for that reason.

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review 2019-11-12 19:25
One of this year's Christmas mysteries
Duck the Halls - Donna Andrews

I had a little bit of a hard time rating this book because I liked it, but I also think that it is one of those series that will grow on me since it seems to be so character driven.

 

I usually don't like jumping into series in the middle, but these books are pretty expensive for kindle, and, while my library has most of them, the first one has entered some sort of parallel universe where it is apparently infinitely unavailable. It's Schrodinger's book, but it pretty much only does not exist. I decided to just say screw it, and start with book #16, which may not have been ideal.

 

I get the sense that the crime involved is really secondary to the characters, and I don't know the characters yet. I was trying to explain it to my husband, and came up with "The Northern Exposure of murder mystery series" but set in Virginia, not Alaska. Lots of eccentric, quirky characters who do eccentric and quirky things. I spent the entire book trying to figure out what Meg Langslow does, and I'm still not sure. Something churchy, but not a pastor or rector or anything? She has an office in a church - I figured out that much.

 

Anyway, I feel like I need to read more. I liked the characters I met, even if there was a lot happening that was confusing to me. I can't get Murder with Peacocks, apparently, but I can get Murder with Puffins, which is book 2.

 

MBD, what do you think? I already have two other Meg Langslow Christmas mysteries: Six Geese A-Slayin' and Lark, The Herald Angels Sing, checked out. Should I return them, and start at the beginning, or should I just go on as I have begun with the scattered approach and expect that everything will start to make more sense about five books in?

 

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review 2019-09-03 04:51
The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

This was a reread - I first read this book around the time of publication, maybe 1987 or 1988. My daughter read it in high school, so I had it in my kindle library, and decided that I did need to revisit it before The Testaments is released later this month.

 

This is not a book to love because it is such a difficult and terrible read. Atwood constructs the book as a retrospective, the historical notes at the back tell us that Offred's story is discovered at the bottom of an old trunk, recorded onto cassette tapes like the tapes that held the mix tapes I made for, and received from, friends in 1988.

 

I was in college when Atwood published The Handmaid's Tale. It seemed impossible to me then. More impossible than it does now.

 

I find myself hating Gilead like it's a real place, and the Commander, and Serena Joy. and the Aunts. Like all of the Serena Joys who really existed - Phyllis Schlafly and her ilk, and the Commanders, who are real, too, who impose rules on others that they have no intention of following. 

 

This is why I didn't want to reread The Handmaid's Tale. It hits too close to home, cuts too close to the bone. It speaks of a world that wants to exist - that already exists in the minds of plenty of men, and even a few delusional and traitorous women, who want to subvert law and justice to make it so - and that scares the living shit out of me. I haven't watched one minute of the television show, because the thought of it makes my stomach roil.

 

I am half-afraid to read the sequel. We leave Offred - June - stepping into a van and the end the book knowing only that she must have survived to create the tapes, and that, some 200-odd years later, Gilead no longer exists. It's been swept away.

 

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review 2019-08-27 00:48
My new obsession
Their Lost Daughters - Joy Ellis

I've listened to three of these audiobooks in about a week. I just started the fourth one, and then I'll be caught up until the release of the 5th in October.

 

Richard Armitage is a god among men. 

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