Karen (karspeak) keeps reading in 2023

DiscussãoClub Read 2023

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Karen (karspeak) keeps reading in 2023

Dez 28, 2022, 12:04 pm

My name is Karen (karspeak), and this will be my 5th year in CR, and 11th on LT, I think. I am a public school speech pathologist in the Florida Panhandle. I'm married with two sons, ages 13 and 16, the youngest of whom plays soccer three seasons a year. I read a lot of genre fiction, particularly fantasy, sci-fi, and mystery, plus some general/literary fiction, and nonfiction, usually science-based. Dark/depressing realistic fiction is my least favorite. I follow a lot of threads on CR but rarely comment. CR provides me with most of my reading list suggestions, for which I am grateful!

Dez 29, 2022, 12:55 pm

Welcome to Club Read 2023, Karen. I saw it's in the 70s today in your next of the woods. I sure do miss the warm winter days on the panhandle (not the hurricanes though!). Happy (almost) New Year!

Dez 30, 2022, 9:08 am

Happy new thread, Karen. Warm here too, in Houston.

Jan 1, 2:03 pm

Happy New Year, Karen. Look forward to your reading. Sadly, it's just dark and dreary in my part of the world at the moment!

Jan 9, 7:44 pm

>4 labfs39: Lisa, I'm sure there's a lot that you don't miss about Florida (politics, etc)!

>5 dchaikin: >6 AlisonY: Thanks, Dan and Alison. I look forward to seeing what you all read this year, as well.

Jan 9, 7:48 pm

1. The Five
This nonfiction book explores the lives of the five women who were killed by Jack the Ripper. It was a very readable and well-done look into that era, particularly for women and the lower classes.

Jan 9, 7:53 pm

>8 karspeak: Shortest thread in the group so far so I figured I will stop by, say hi and then go into the longer threads and of course there will be a BB flying very fast around... :)

Happy reading in 2023! Can you read more things I won't like? No? Oh well... there is always the library! :)

Jan 9, 8:01 pm

>8 karspeak: I liked that one too!

Jan 10, 4:50 pm

>8 karspeak: And that's been on my Kindle a couple of years, so I'm glad it's a good one, and I will try to get to it sooner.

Jan 14, 3:12 pm

2. Station Eternity
This sci-fi book is about humans aboard a space station full of various alien species, set in the near future, trying to solve some murders. This book was just a hot mess. The parts involving the US military were beyond stupid, the backstories of all the human characters were distracting and belabored, it seemed very provincial despite being about intergalactic stuff, and the murder mystery itself was not great. I enjoyed Six Wakes by this author, but I think the author just tried to do too much in this book.

Editado: Jan 14, 3:17 pm

>9 AnnieMod: Hi, Annie!

>10 japaul22: >11 arubabookwoman: I thought about The Five again this morning, as I was cozy in my bed, imagining sleeping on the streets of London--brrr!

Jan 14, 7:19 pm

>12 karspeak: I'll skip the hot mess :) (given, I don't read many mysteries or sci-fi or sci-fi mysteries)

Jan 16, 10:35 am

>12 karspeak: I also enjoyed Six Wakes so this is disappointing to hear. Thanks for taking one for the team. Fingers crossed that your next read is better.

Editado: Jan 21, 10:12 am

3. Legends & Lattes
This fantasy book has been getting a lot of buzz/love. Do you enjoy a cozy coffee shop? Well, that's this book in a nutshell, plus cute characters and some plot wrapped around it. A battle-weary orc decides to open a coffee shop, and all the key coffee shop components slowly come together, such as a talented baker, a chalkboard with the daily menu, a musician to play in the evenings, etc. It was very cozy-cute, but, for me, not memorable. I think the novelty of a “cozy fantasy” was attractive to many. Plus, the world building and writing were good.

4. The Atlas Six
This "dark academic fantasy" is the complete opposite of Legends & Lattes. The characters are unlikable, they are trying to kill or trick or dominate or seduce each other, and they are all power hungry. I did like the magic system, which was intelligent, creative, and complex. There were lots of physics, social psychology, and morality thought experiments. If someone has the ability to change thinking or perceptions, how do you know what is real and true? If you can manipulate physical properties, can you also manipulate time? But the darkness of the plot and characters still made this book a "no" for me.

Jan 20, 10:14 pm

>14 dchaikin: Ha, you are definitely safe then, Dan.
>15 rhian_of_oz: Thanks, Rhian!

Fev 12, 10:25 pm

5. Winter's Orbit
This is a well-done sci-fi romance. Really good world building along with a developing relationship mixed with good plotting.

I just haven't been able to settle my mind on reading lately, so I've been skimming books instead, including the following books: Elementary, She Read, Home (apparently I'm not a Harlan Coben fan), Clariel, and The Twist of a Knife.

Mar 2, 9:24 pm

6. The Kaiju Preservation Society
Light and cute with a very Jurassic Park vibe to it, but funny and sci-fi. The characters and plot have already faded from my mind.

7. The Chosen Twelve
The human race is all gone, except for 24 kids grown from embryos on a space station. The AIs on the space station are either trying to kill them or send them to a planet surface in the hopes that they will rebuild human society to continue to spread AI throughout the universe. Not terrible, but definitely skippable.

8. My Brilliant Friend (book club selection)
This novel follows two girls growing up as friends in the 1950s in a violent and poor section of Naples. It combines gritty realism with great writing and a narrator (Elena Greco, one of the girls) who is very observant and explores her thoughts and feelings as events unfold in her life. The girls' friendship is an odd blend of caring and self-interest, reflecting their difficult environment. My Brilliant Friend is supposedly the "happiest" of this author's novels. I am not a fan of gritty realism, but I was glad to step into Elena's life for a while. I won't read other works by this author, though.

Mar 2, 10:01 pm

>19 karspeak: My Brilliant Friend
I read another by Elena Ferrante for a book club, and never again; it was irredeemably depressing.

Mar 2, 10:09 pm

>20 qebo: I find it so interesting that some people are drawn to reading emotionally depressing novels, and others (such as us) can't stand them.

Editado: Abr 18, 9:33 pm

9. The Peripheral is a pretty good sci-fi. Good world building, but I didn’t love it for plot/characters.

10. The Magician’s Daughter, a lovely YA fantasy involving magic in late 1800’s London. It stands apart from a lot of other YA fantasy books with similar plots and vibes, which is really saying something.

11. I Have Some Questions For You (book club selection)
In this novel, a true crime podcaster, Bodie, tries to unravel an old murder from her adolescence. She is still growing up a bit herself, and there is too much self-involvement in the first half of the book for my taste, even if she is self-deprecating about it. A lot of #metoo is worked into the book, in an effective way. Bodie deals personally with some cancel and woke cultural issues, as well. She does a good job thinking through these morality tangles and deciding for herself what seems right or wrong, rather than accepting everyone else’s opinion. Overall, the plot, writing, and issues worked, and I liked but didn’t love it.

Editado: Abr 26, 10:41 am

12. Witches Abroad
My first ever Discworld novel. Such a clever author. I've selected several other books in the series to try. There are many online lists ranking which Discworld books are the best, and why. It's interesting to read people's opinions/analyses of the Discworld canon.

13. In Other Lands
An above-average YA urban fantasy, with some particularly clever humor and a unique protagonist.

14. The Praxis
15. The Sundering
16. Conventions of War
This was a very good space opera trilogy. I lost some sleep finishing it!

Abr 20, 6:40 pm

I want to thank you for recommending the Henry and Mudge books for my niece. She loves them, and they are just the right level for her. She feels so proud of herself for reading "chapter" books and always wants to read more when I suggest stopping. I love it!

Abr 30, 1:10 pm

>24 labfs39: I’m so glad she’s enjoying them!

Maio 4, 4:20 pm

I frequently only read the first book in a series to get the feel for the author's worldbuilding, writing style, plot arc, etc. Four of the books below are the first in a series. I may only continue with one of them (The Stranger Times), which doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the others.

17. Gridlinked
A sci-fi mystery with very good world building and an interesting take on AI, robots, and their integration into humanity far in the future.

18. Hard Magic
Supposedly the author described this as a "hard boiled/epic fantasy/adventure/alternative history/super hero novel." The setting is an alternate 1930s, with some key historical figures (Einstein, Teddy Roosevelt, etc) reimagined in that context. Fun and inventive.

19. Force of Nature
The second in the Australian-based Aaron Falk mystery series. Not quite as good as the first, but still enjoyable. The author is particularly good at making the setting feel real and come alive to the reader. I enjoy these on audio because of the Aussie accents.

20. The Stranger Times
Very fun, this is spec fic set in Manchester about a newspaper that reports on odd happenings. But then the staff begins to discover that some of their news might actually be true. Very humorous. I saw one review that recommended this for "fans of Pratchett, Gaiman, Aaronovich," which sounds about right.

21. This Alien Shore
Set in the far future, a girl is being chased through space for secrets inside her head done as a corporate experiment. Pretty good world building and plotting.

Jun 6, 3:47 pm

I read a lot of fun, light spec fic over the past month. The plot of the last book, Threadneedle, eventually fell apart for me, but I enjoyed the rest. Best World Building goes to Three Parts Dead, Strange Practice, and Tress of the Emerald Sea.

22. Three Parts Dead
23. Quillifer
24. Strange Practice
25. Dreadful Company
26. Grave Importance
27. The Magpie Lord
28. Tress of the Emerald Sea
29. Clockwork Boys
30. The Wonder Engine
31. Threadneedle

Jun 12, 9:56 pm

32. Fourth Wing
This is currently #1 on Amazon's charts. It was fun at first, but then the plot problems got to me, as well as the teen love aspect.

33. Nothing Ventured
Fun British procedural set in the 1980s. Fast paced, and you know everything will work out in the end for the protagonist.

Jun 13, 9:21 pm

34. Bleeding Heart Yard
The third book in the Harbinder Kaur mystery series. The mystery part wasn't great, but I enjoy Kaur and still enjoyed the book.

Editado: Jul 19, 7:41 pm

35. The Raffle Baby
This is a novel about a 12 year old boy who heads out on his own during the Great Depression. It closely follows his next few years riding the rails, and then the rest of his life. A friend of a friend wrote this, and my friend wanted to know what I thought of it. So I was dreading it a bit, worrying I'd dislike it and then have to tactfully find some positive things to say. But I really did enjoy it.

36. The Wizard's Butler
This is indeed about a wizard's butler. It started off well, but then it got too cutesy for me.

Editado: Jun 29, 11:01 pm

37. Violeta (book club selection)
In this novel, a hundred year-old woman from Chile tells her life story. I enjoyed experiencing Chilean history through her, although it dragged at the end.

Jul 1, 10:12 am

>31 karspeak: I still have never read a book by Allende.

Jul 3, 12:25 pm

38. Half a Soul
Regency fantasy. Cute-ish but forgettable.

Jul 3, 12:29 pm

>32 labfs39: I also read her The House of Spirits ages ago. I remember liking it, but I don't remember much else about it.

Jul 9, 11:15 pm

39. Annihilation
This is the first in a trilogy. A biologist, psychologist, surveyor, and anthropologist are sent into Area X, an area in the US where something bad happened years ago, perhaps a military experiment gone horribly wrong? Very odd and often fatal things keep happening, of a disturbing biological nature. This is very eerie, and there is also a sense that things will never become fully clear. I enjoyed it and appreciated the writing, but I won't finish the trilogy.

Jul 11, 1:59 am

>35 karspeak: I described this as feeling unsettling and ominous, and the remaining books were the same. And no, things never become fully clear.

Jul 12, 10:12 am

>36 rhian_of_oz: In the article below, VanderMeer discusses different ways he intentionally developed the unsettling feelings in his writing, which was interesting. Also, apparently he got the original idea from a dream.


Jul 13, 12:18 pm

>37 karspeak: Thanks for the link.

Editado: Jul 16, 11:35 am

40. Quarter Share
I forgot to post about this one. A teen boy enlists on a cargo transport space ship. The book focuses on him adjusting to ship and work routines, plus learning how to make extra money by selling goods that individual crew members can buy on one planet and can re-sell on other planets (ports) at a profit. Everyone was a bit too nice, and everything kept turning up a bit too rosy. This is my second book by this author (The Wizard's Butler). Nathan Lowell writes about everyday people doing everyday things (work routine, etc) within a spec fic setting. I found it unusual to not have a major adventure or drama aspect to the plot, but I do see how some readers might find it soothing.

Jul 21, 12:58 pm

41. Birdsong for the Curious Naturalist
Birdsong for the Curious Naturalist has over 75 hours of birdsong recordings available digitally, either by QR codes in the text or via a website. The author’s passion and knowledge come through on every page. This book could be used as a reference, as you spot certain birds in your yard and want to learn about their particular songs. But the author means for the reader to go much deeper, offering lectures on various topics and presenting different unanswered questions that amateur birders could help answer. This book is extremely in-depth and is probably best for the ardent birder (which I am not).

Jul 21, 4:01 pm

>40 karspeak: More in-depth than I'd do justice to, but still could be a useful book to have around.

Jul 21, 10:13 pm

Honestly, I’d recommend the Merlin Bird ID app instead of this book.

Jul 22, 7:56 am

>42 karspeak: Merlin
I've had this installed for ages, haven't used it, but a neighbor has been reporting its findings recently.

Jul 23, 12:04 am

>39 karspeak: I've enjoyed the Shares series, and have gone on to read more in that universe - but I liked The Wizard's Butler better (and I want him to finish The Wizard's Cat!). I'm currently reading Milk Run, which is the same universe as Shares, with rather more political understanding from the protagonists, and almost maybe sort of has antagonists (as Shares does not).

Ago 8, 11:19 pm

42. The Covenant of Water
Wonderful novel following several generations of a family in Kerala, in southern India. There are so many multi-generational family novels floating around, but this was so, so good.

43. The Emperor's Soul
Winner of the 2013 Hugo for best novella. An enjoyable and unique story of an imprisoned magical forger.

Ago 9, 7:16 am

>45 karspeak: I keep hearing such good things about Covenant of Water. I'm looking forward to reading it, but not until I'm out of my current bird-brain attention span reading funk.

Ago 9, 7:25 am

>45 karspeak: You read it already! I'm on the fence because I liked but didn't love Cutting for Stone. Although I still remember a lot about that book even though I read it ages ago. I suppose that says something.

Editado: Ago 19, 6:19 pm

43. Quantum Space (LT rec)
Fun, quantum physics-based sci-fi. Poor dialogue and characterization, but worth it for the plot.

44. Verity (book club selection)
Ick. Icky. Airport novel with (to me) unlikable characters, one of whom does terrible things to her young children. I'd heard there was a plot twist, but it didn't make a difference for me. It has 4.6 stars on Amazon based on 300K reviews. I'm baffled by how the ratings are that good. The writing is decent, but the characters and their relationships and the plot just didn't work for me.

A Gracious Neighbor--(book club selection, skimmed the last 75%)
I'm trying out several book clubs at the moment, as a potential way to meet new people. Anyway, I already suspected this wouldn't be good based on the reviews, and it definitely wasn't. Usually I don't comment on books I DNF or skim, but I'm just putting my thoughts down here to reference before the book club meeting. This was based on the short story "A Jury of Her Peers," which I had read in school and thought was excellent. This is a heavy handed expansion of that short story, set in an upper class Houston suburb. I mean, when the new neighbor shows up clinging to her birdcage, it's pretty clear how things will play out. The main character seems socially desperate and pathetic and invasive. And the crux of the novel is a very weak version of what happens in the short story, and it's just badly done.

Ago 19, 6:37 pm

>46 labfs39: Haha, totally understand. FWIW, I'm not a big audiobook person, but this was particularly good on audiobook and helped me get through it faster. The author is the reader.

>47 japaul22: I remember liking Cutting for Stone quite a bit, although I don't remember much about it besides that it was set in Ethiopia. From my vague memories, I feel like Covenant of Water is grander in scope. There is a lot of medical info incorporated into it, which doesn't detract for me, since it all rings true (Verghese is a physician at Stanford). He has a nonfiction book out about his experience working with AIDS patients in rural Tennessee, which I also might read. I'm not sure if you'd like Covenant of Water or not...

Ago 19, 7:22 pm

>45 karspeak: Kerala would interest me, especially as my family lived in the adjacent state of Karnataka for several months in the early 1970s so within its time span. And I like to learn stuff from novels so the medical info is a plus.
>49 karspeak: AIDS patients in rural Tennessee
Oh, this one I wasn't aware of.

Set 10, 1:14 pm

45. A Coup of Tea (LT rec)
An enjoyable cozy fantasy that involves a princess-in-hiding aspiring to be a tea master and becoming involved in political intrigue. I read-skimmed the last two books in the trilogy, since the main character's analyses of everyone and everything (which is crucial to her role) could be a bit much at times. But overall it was enjoyable with good world building and likable characters.

46. Dragon & Detective (LT rec?)
I do enjoy the urban fantasy/detective noir subgenre (sub-subgenre?). In this case, the detective's gun is magical, as are some of the other characters (dragons, shapeshifters, fey, etc), but the detective is just a normal human, like most people. Enjoyable, and I read-skimmed some of the other books in the series, too. The 8th book will be released shortly.

Editado: Set 10, 9:47 pm

47. Remarkably Bright Creatures (book club selection)
This is a cute, feel-good novel set in a town on the Puget Sound in Washington, about an elderly widow, a 30-something year old man who can't seem to hold down a job, and an octopus. I liked the widow, the 30-something year old drove me crazy sometimes, and the octopus was likable but also inconsistent, and, um, very overly anthropomorphized. But that aside, this was cute and decently written.

Set 11, 7:35 am

>52 karspeak: I've been tempted to read this one because it's set in Puget Sound, the area where I lived for 15 years. Someday...

Set 11, 8:15 am

>52 karspeak: Several people have read this now and it's on my radar. I'm just about to finish non-fiction octopus book #3.

Set 14, 10:41 am

>53 labfs39: I lived in Tacoma for 2 years, and it did bring back memories of the area and make me want to revisit.

>54 qebo: I’d like to read a NF book on octopuses, as well, so I have been taking particular note of those you mention on your thread. The anthropomorphism of the octopus character (he is basically the same as a human character in an octopus body, just with a better visual and tactile memory) bugged me until I accepted it sort of as a form of magical realism.

Set 16, 12:53 pm

48. The Child Who Never Grew (LT rec)
Pearl S. Buck's only biological child, Carol, was born with PKU which, since it was undetected and untreated in her early years, led to a developmental intellectual disability. Buck wrote this book for other parents of children with intellectual disabilities. She wrote it to help reduce the stigma of having a child with a disability, share her emotional journey, and share her practical experience and wisdom gained. It was touching, very honest, and very well written.

Editado: Out 21, 10:35 pm

Apparently a month has gone by since my last post. Busy, busy. The below books were entertaining but not particularly memorable for me.
49. Spellbreaker
50. Keeper of Enchanted Rooms
51. The Man with a Load of Mischief
52. The Aeronaut's Windlass

Except this one, which I read for book club. It was ICKY-ICKY. Blech.
53. The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires

Out 21, 10:47 pm

Nice to hear from you, Karen. Sorry you haven't had more enjoyable reads lately. That last one sounds like a doozy.

Editado: Nov 20, 10:30 pm

54. None of This is True (book club)
A thriller of the psycho lady variety. Not memorable for me.

55. Match Making for Beginners
A charming and light romance with some magical realism thrown in. I liked Aunt Blix's life wisdom.

Nov 20, 10:32 pm

>58 labfs39: Thanks, Lisa, I'm looking forward to reading over the Thanksgiving break!