Top Ten Tuesday – Winter TBR

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Because Booking Through Thursday often doesn’t post until too late in the day for me (thanks to time differences), I have decided that on Thursdays I’ll either answer a Booking Through Thursday question or a Top Ten Tuesday question (the latter are run on The Broke and The Bookish blog), although I might let myself stop at 5 rather than going all the way to a list of 10! This week’s:

November 25: Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR

1&2. Obviously some Alcott for Advent with Alcott! I read Little Women and Good Wives in the spring but want to read Jo’s Boys and Little Men.

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3. The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy because I will need a bit more humour about my ballooning mid-section by the time we get into January.

4&5. The two books I got for my birthday – Cocaine Blues and Flying Too High, both by Kerry Greenwood.

6-10. Some review books that have been lurking on my shelves for ever and they really deserve some attention: The Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace, The Doll by Taylor Stevens (I really enjoyed her first), The Stud Book by Monica Drake, One Night in Winter by Simon Sebag Montefiore and The Foundling Boy by Michel Deon.

If I clear all of those before Baby RWT arrives, I’ll be pretty happy!

A Dangerous Fiction – Barbara Rogan – 7/10

“In the well-ordered world of fiction, murder and mayhem never arrive unheralded. For as long as men have told tales, disaster has been foreshadowed by omens and signs. But if there were portents the day my troubles began, I never saw them.”

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Successfully running a publishing firm, Jo Donovan’s life seems to be coming together again after the shock of the death of her husband. When a would-be client starts stalking her, she starts to see ominous shadows everywhere. Then someone close to her dies in suspicious circumstances, and Jo herself becomes a suspect.

It’s been a few months since I read this one so I’m struggling to remember all the details, but it was very enjoyable. For a start, I didn’t figure out who the baddie was at all – massive surprise at the end. And the way that Jo’s security was taken away, step by step, was quite… not chilling, but obviously devastating for Jo.

The cast size is just about right. Rogan develops 5-6 characters enough that they could all be suspects and that Jo has thorough interactions with them, without any of them feeling like they take over the story. There are some cute bit-part characters too. I loved the ex-Marine with the guard dog.

It’s all set in New York and is very New York, though not as totally New York as a couple of other books I read later in the year (particularly Let The Great World Spin and My Salinger Year).

Definitely worth a read – it’s a quick thriller, but with a fun literary setting and pretty well done.

Additional information:

Copy kindly provided some months ago by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Penguin, 324 pages
Order A Dangerous Fiction: A Mystery from Amazon*
* this is an affiliate link – I will be paid a small percentage of your purchase price if you use this link, which goes towards give-aways and site hosting

The Racketeer – John Grisham – 6/10

“One of the few virtues of prison life is the gradual acquisition of patience. Nothing moves at a reasonable pace, and you learn to ignore clocks.”

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Malcolm Bannister has served 5 years in prison for a crime he got sucked into, and is due to serve another 5. When a federal judge is brutally murdered, and Malcolm knows who did it, he has to work out a way to use that information to his advantage, while staying safe. And a way to exact a little justice of his own.

For the first half of this, I was completely onboard. So far, so Grisham, but very readable, good plot build-up, some nifty legal dealings, a bit of adventure, bad guys appropriately irritated. Then Grisham seemingly goes off-piste for most of the rest of the book, only revealing in the last 10 pages or so how the second half of the book ties back to the first half. Which drove me crazy. I nearly abandoned the book multiple times and it was only encouragement from The Musician that kept me going.

Bannister is a likeable enough character in the standard Grisham mold, but Grisham does much better protagonists. The agents are rendered well enough but nothing memorable. Quinn and Nate are interesting, as is Vanessa, but it feels like Grisham didn’t really want to bother developing any characters other than Bannister because of the backwards plot.

It’s not up there with The Street Lawyer or The Last Juror.

Additional info

Copy bought at JFK airport recently while trying to use up US dollars.  
Publisher: Dell Books, 382 pages (paperback)
Order The Racketeerfrom Amazon*
* this is an affiliate link – I will be paid a small percentage of your purchase price if you use this link, which goes towards give-aways and site hosting

Advent with… Alcott!

Having in previous years done Advent with Austen (big success) and Advent with Atwood (meh), and totally failed to get Louisa May Alcott month off the ground in May, a group of us (Iris, Ana, Alex, Lyndsey and I) are doing Advent with Alcott.

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I’ll be finally writing a review of Little Women, having read it in May, and hopefully getting around to reading Good WivesJo’s Boys and Little Men.

Will you join in? Anything Louisa May Alcott-related during Advent (Nov 30 — Dec 24) counts. Post your thoughts on your blog and let us know about them, or join the conversation on twitter (#AWAlcott).

There will be a group watch of the 1994 Little Women movie, date to be announced shortly.

Happy Birthday me!

Yay well done me for being born 27 years ago. In celebration, I’m being taken to a lovely hotel in the countryside by The Musician, The Book Accumulator and Mini-Me for the day and evening, including much delicious food. Am very excited.

cute-happy-birthday-gif-tumblr-4Maybe we won’t party quite as hard as Dumbledore in the picture there. But there will be cake of some variety, I’m sure.

Recent events here?

I went to a very fancy dinner at Lord’s on Friday night for people who played cricket at MCC Universities or MCC Young Cricketers – having played cricket for Oxford Uni when I was there, I met the criteria. 5 of us ex-Oxford or Cambridge types went and had a lovely time. We’ll gloss over the speech out of the 1970s and focus on the brilliant Q&A session with Andrew Strauss. I do like an international cricketer who can give a carefully considered answer to a question. And isn’t the special branded water bottle great?

MCC dinner

Mini-Me came to stay last weekend and we cooked a lot and went to see Dance Til Dawn (no plot, good dancing) and watched movies (Beautiful Creatures, which it turned out I had actually watched all of before and totally forgotten, but it’s an excellent film! and Hercules). Much sister fun.

I have 19 days left at work before going on maternity leave. That’s a slightly frightening statistic.

I have caught up on all of season 4 of White Collar and am now in withdrawal until I find season 5. See also SuitsForeverPerceptionThe Newsroom and assorted other police procedurals.

I am totally dismally behind on my 27 before 27, and obviously have no time to catch up now. I plead baby RWT as an excuse. I’ll have to do a new list for 28 before 28!

 

Booking Through Thursday – Better Endings

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Today’s Booking Through Thursday:

If you could change the ending of any book you’ve read, which would it be and how would you change it?

HUGE SPOILER ALERT – I’m talking about the endings of some of the books here that I have reviewed in the past.

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OK now that I’m not going to give any secrets away to people who don’t want them given away… OHMYGOODNESSTHEGREATGATSBYWHATWEREYOUDOINGFSCOTTFITZGERALD?????

Maybe it’s the opera fan in me. But OBVIOUSLY the correct ending here is that Daisy, deeply unhappy and trapped in a loveless marriage, commits suicide, while the men who have loved her and ruined her life stand around sadly.

Other contenders:

Americanah – I’m not a big fan of books where adultery wins out. (see Great Gatsby).

The Bonesetter’s Daughter – an overly twee ending – I suspect this was edited heavily.

 

PSA: Anne #5

So, obviously you’ve all read all the Anne of Green Gables books.

You know that sad bit in the middle of Anne’s House of Dreams (#5 of the 8)?

DO NOT BE READING THIS BOOK ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT WHEN YOU GET TO THAT POINT.

*much weeping*

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