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mjtwo

mjtwo

Joined June 2020

Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks - Dr Seuss
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King: A Life by Jonathan Eig
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Apprentice Needed by Obert Skye
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North Woods by Daniel Mason
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Tuck everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, Prentice Hall PTR
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mjtwo
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Pickpick

12-5 May 24 (audiobook)
A very well told non-fiction narrative about the escape of two enslaved peoples from Georgia and their journey first north and then abroad to escape the Fugitive Slave Act. Woo puts the story of the light skinned Ellen passing for an invalid white slaveowner travelling with William, her husband/slave, in its broader context of the abolitionist movement pre-civil war both in the US and England.
Informative and entertaining.

12 likes1 stack add
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mjtwo
Kafka on the Shore | Haruki Murakami
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Mehso-so

7-11 May 24 (audiobook)
The story of two men, a teenage boy named Kafka who runs away from home and a man named Nakata who suffers from an intellectual impairment as a result of a strange accident during WWII as their lives seemingly draw to an inevitable intersection.
Murakami‘s writing is at times beautiful and did mostly maintain my interest, but I found the Oedipal storyline a bit much. I also found the way Murakami writes about sex jarring.

mjtwo The story of two men, a teenage boy named Kafka who runs away from home and a man named Nakata who suffers from an intellectual impairment as a result of a strange accident during WWII as their lives converge. 6d
7 likes1 comment
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mjtwo
Wizard for Hire | Obert Skye
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Mehso-so

30 Mar-9 May 24 (audiobook)
An odd couple story about a boy, Ozzie, whose parents were abducted when he was age 7 (or 8) and Rin, perhaps a wizard, who he enlists to help him locate them.
A little predictable and not quite compelling enough for us. Trix and I seem to be having difficulty finding great audiobooks at the moment.

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mjtwo
Fire Rush | Jacqueline Crooks
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Pickpick

16 April-5 May 24
A book about a subject I know little about: the dub scene in UK in the early 80s and the police brutality and gang culture in the outskirts of London. Much of the language used and Jamaican traditions described were completely new to me. But perhaps the novelty is what made it enjoyable.
Yamaye and her friends go clubbing in an underground crypt every weekend. But violence enters her life and she is forced to make big changes.

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mjtwo
Middlemarch | George Elliot
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Pickpick

25 April-6 May 24 (audiobook)
Long and complex but a classic worth investing some time in. I feel I cheated a little by listening to the audiobook but I really love Juliet Stevenson as a narrator and I found I was able to focus quite well. Unlike many of her contemporary female authors, Eliot did not exactly write romance and her work is more akin to Dickens than Austen or Brontë. But she does give many interesting depictions of marriage. And fate

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mjtwo
1984 | George Orwell
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Pickpick

29 April 24 (audiobook)
I don‘t remember 1984 well enough to know how close to the original text this adaptation is. I do not listen to many full cast audiobooks and it was certainly entertaining. And short.
I was keen to listen as 1) it was free (editor‘s choice for April, and 2) my Wifedom prompted me to revisit some of Orwell‘s work. I still feel as though I need to read the book though, now to both consider this adaptation and Wifedom.

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mjtwo
The Summer Garden: A Novel | Paullina Simons
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Panpan

25-28 Apr 24 (audiobook)
I am not sure why so many authors seem to think that abusive relationships are romantic. I do not find Alexander likeable - he is violent, controlling and seems to be addicted to sex. Both characters say such awful things to each other and really behave quite badly at times. And the lack of communication is infuriating. No marriage would survive it.
Again, the parts about the Vietnamese War were interesting.

8 likes1 comment
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mjtwo
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Mehso-so

19-24 April 24 (audiobook)
Again, the depictions of late WWII New York and Berlin were compelling and the post-war journey around the US was also interesting. The way PTSD was dealt with (or not) at that time also seemed authentic. But the relationship between the characters was awful and bordered on abusive at times. I don‘t believe a relationship would survive such nastiness nor some of the things they said. And the amount of sex was absurd.

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mjtwo
The Bronze Horseman | Paullina Simons
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Pickpick

14-9 April 24 (audiobook)
Many parts of this book were problematic for me - that Alexander continues ‘knocking‘ Tatiana‘s sister for so long, the callous behaviour of her parents, the threat of Dimitry‘s sexually predatory behaviour towards Tatiana which everybody seems to ignore, and Tatiana‘s general submissiveness which borders on masochism. But I did find the depiction of the Soviet Union during WWII and the siege of Stalingrad compelling.

9 likes1 stack add
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mjtwo
Prophet Song | Paul Lynch
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Pickpick

19 Mar-15 Apr 24
I cannot recall being as frightened by a book since ‘In Cold Blood‘, which aroused a similar feeling that this could just as easily happen to me. As the book begins, Eilish‘s life seems so normal.
Lynch‘s depiction of a totalitarian Ireland is literally gut-wrenching, particularly the final 100 pages which depict the fear and desperation that lead to millions fleeing for a place of refuge. The ending has left me absolutely shaken.

mjtwo I should add this is a completely different book to ‘In Cold Blood‘ and is quite a strange comparison - it has just given me a similar feeling of terror. 1mo
11 likes1 comment
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mjtwo
One Hundred Years of Solitude | Marquez, Gabriel Garcia
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Mehso-so

10-3 April 24 (audiobook)
I read this years ago and enjoyed it, although I do recall being confused by the repetitive names. When it was in an audible sale, I thought it would be good to revisit but this really didn‘t work for me as an audiobook. It is too difficult to follow and the beauty of the prose is somewhat lost. Instead I was focused on the many incestuous relationships, some with characters who seemed far too young. Not a fair review.

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mjtwo
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Pickpick

8-9 Apr 24 (audiobook)
Two university students befriend a married couple resulting in some complicated relationships. Seemingly like all Rooney characters, they are intelligent and articulate but totally incapable of discussing their emotions or feelings for each other or anything of real import. Their idea of love is very different to mine. Frances is particularly frustrating.
Yet I enjoy Rooney‘s writing and was compelled to keep listening.

CarolynM Almost exactly how I felt about this one. She couldn‘t even tell her mother about a diagnosis of endometriosis!🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️ 1mo
18 likes1 comment
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mjtwo
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms | George R. R. Martin
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Pickpick

5-7 Apr 24 (audiobook)
Three novellas telling the travails of hedge knight, Dunk, and his squire, Egg around the Seven Kingdoms.
A welcome reminder that George RR Martin really is a very good storyteller and I enjoy the world he has created in the Fire and Ice series.
I expect the scope of these novellas is a welcome relief for the author in contrast to the original series which has become far too unwieldy. Both Dunk and Egg are lovely.

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mjtwo
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Mehso-so

29 Mar-4 Apr 24 (audiobook)
A directionless girl in her 20s embarks on an affair with a married workmate. I found the protagonist self-indulgent and delusional and the married man an incomprehensible egotist whose only motivation seems to be a younger, adoring body. It did make me reminisce about a friend in a very similar situation in her 20s. Where did his wife think he was when he was eating very average dinners in my Fitzroy sharehouse?

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mjtwo
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Panpan

28-9 Mar 24 (audiobook)
Not for me. I understand Maas is very popular but I found this dragged. I do not find fairies in any way attractive - probably some childhood insecurity or something going on but I just cannot picture a sexy male fairy. The writing was very repetitive and cringeworthy. Not continuing with the series and should probably have bailed but I did find it improved towards the end.

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mjtwo
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Mehso-so

25-7 Mar 24 (audiobook)
This book is reminiscent of Virginia Woolf‘s A Room Of One‘s Own and it probably suffered as a result.
Funder tries to discover Orwell‘s first wife, Eileen, hidden in Orwell‘s writing - his letters, articles and novels. Orwell is not likeable. And Eileen was without doubt a clever woman who influenced and enabled his work. I object, however, to some of the assumptions Funder makes and her positioning of herself in the text.

CarolynM I had the same problems with it. Couldn‘t finish it. (edited) 2mo
TrishB Agree totally with your review. It‘s either fiction or NF and making up assumptions just didn‘t work. 2mo
12 likes2 comments
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mjtwo
Murtagh: The World of Eragon | Christopher Paolini
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Mehso-so

5 Dec 23-26 Mar 24 (audiobook)
First in a new series (it would appear) focusing on Murtagh‘s path after the demise of Galbatorix.
Unlike the early Inheritance Cycle, this dragged a bit for me. It was very long and I found myself often wondering what had just happened. Murtagh wallows too much in self-pity and I found the treatment Thorn experienced both under Galbatorix and in this story difficult to listen to. Still, it did have its moments.

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mjtwo
Iron Flame | Rebecca Yarros
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Pickpick

23-4 Mar 24 (audiobook)
A worthy follow up to Fourth Wing: similarly addictive journey into the world Yarros has created. Interesting to see some of characters‘ motives and introduction of an almost inter-generational battle.
I had forgotten the frustration of starting a series too early, when there will be many years before a satisfying conclusion. But it is a bit of fun.

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mjtwo
Fourth Wing | Rebecca Yarros
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Pickpick

19-22 Mar 24 (audiobook)
Highly addictive. I will admit I am a bit of a sucker for romantasy but I did feel less icky after listening to this than some of the others. The world-building is good. Enemy to lovers trope is a bit tired but an academy setting always pulls me in.
Sex scenes are quite graphic, which I don‘t really have an issue with but sometimes awkward on audio.
Proceeded immediately to the second book.

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mjtwo
Antarctica | Claire Keegan
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Pickpick

28 Feb-18 Mar 24
I really like Clare Keegan‘s writing. Some of these stories caught my attention more than others. But I always find short stories frustrating. If they are engaging, I inevitably want to know more.
There were a few standouts in this collection: the title story, Antarctica, which was a little shocking, the story about the family attending the town dance. But ultimately I prefer Keegan‘s novellas, still short but more complete.

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mjtwo
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Pickpick

15-8 Mar 2024 (audiobook)
Low pick. Interesting premise but with these types of books I always find the ending a bit blah. And guests and staff drop like flies!
The narrator relives the same day eight times, each time from the perspective of a different occupant of an English estate. Each time he dies or falls asleep he moves to the next ‘host‘. Before 11pm on the 8th day, or the death of the final host, he must know who killed Evelyn Hardcastle.

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mjtwo
Edenglassie | Melissa Lucashenko
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Pickpick

12-14 Mar 24 (audiobook)
One of my favourite free audiobooks of the month! I had already flagged reading this when it was longlisted for the Stella.
Lukashenko weaves together two indigenous stories, two centuries apart. Both tell of the impact white men brought to Queensland‘s indigenous nations but also highlights their traditions and cultures.
Despite this seriousness, the author‘s voice is both and irreverent, and intentionally provocative.

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mjtwo
A Room of One's Own | Virginia Woolf
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Pickpick

10-11 Mar 24 (audiobook)
A masterpiece. Woolf lectures to female undergraduates about female authors and surmises the very practical reasons there was no female Shakespeare. A surprisingly funny and entertaining look at women‘s place in literature and, by extension, society (via a very white English lens.)
Read by the amazing Tilda Swinton. I immediately ordered a hard copy of this (and some of Woolf‘s other texts) to re-read.
Highly recommend.

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mjtwo
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Pickpick

8-9 Mar 24 (audiobook)
A thriller that starts as a chance meeting of birthday twins: Alix, a journalist living an instagrammable life with her successful yet troubled husband; and Josie whose life has been ruined as a result of her traumatic upbringing and abusive marriage. As Josie becomes the subject of Alix‘s new podcast, it is clear (from the title of nothing else) that all is not as it seems. Tense and gripping until the inevitable end.

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mjtwo
Good Material | Dolly Alderton
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Pickpick

6-7 Mar 24 (audiobook)
Reminiscent of High Fidelity, most of Good Material is told from the perspective of Andy, an unsuccessful standup comic, dealing with the breakdown of his relationship and subsequently his life. It humorously looks at the difference between female and male friendship, and the reality of reaching middle age without having achieved success. The last quarter provides Jen‘s perspective, which is an enlightening counterpoint.

monalyisha Oh! YES. Totally feeling vindicated in my High Fidelity comparison. 😅 Didn‘t realize you‘d made it already! 2w
mjtwo @monalyisha absolutely! You and I had very similar views about it. I have never read any Alderton before but my sister loves her. 2w
18 likes1 stack add2 comments
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mjtwo
To the Lighthouse | Virginia Woolf
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Panpan

4-5 Mar 24 (audiobook)
Definitely not a fair review. Woolf‘s writing, and this book in particular, does not easily lend itself to audio. This mostly consists of stream of consciousness thoughts of various characters, focussing on their views of each other, during their stay at the Ramsays‘ summer house and planning of a trip to the lighthouse. Unlike Clarissa Dalloway, I found Mrs Ramsay unsympathetic and particularly disliked her husband.

dabbe #fanofthepan! 🤩🤩🤩 2mo
10 likes1 comment
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mjtwo
Kill Your Husbands | Jack Heath
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Pickpick

2-3 Mar 24 (audiobook)
Free audiobook of the month and an easy listen between Virginia Woolf‘s far more challenging novels.
Maybe another outback noir featuring a female cop (with her own relationship issues) investigating two murders occurring during a couples‘ weekend away.
Not particularly believable or challenging. Not even sure it all made sense - the epilogue doesn‘t seem to really match the ending. But zipped through it nevertheless.

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mjtwo
Mrs. Dalloway | Virginia Woolf
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Pickpick

28 Feb-1 Mar 24 (audiobook)
Another book I was supposed to read at uni that was surprisingly enjoyable when I got to it 25 years late.
Woolf introduces us to a cast of characters, all of whom revolve around Clarissa Dalloway.
Woolf‘s writing is wonderful, although I expect it is a little lost in audiobook form. I loved the way she let us in to the inner monologue of many characters, with their repetition and leaps of topic. And I loved Clarissa.

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mjtwo
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Panpan

12-28 Feb 24 (audiobook)
Not for me. I battled my way through this for over two weeks and really not sure why I persisted. It seemed to go forever, made worse by the fact that I kept tuning out or falling asleep and having to rewind.
Whilst it was probably well-written, I have now concluded that Clarke‘s books are not for me.

dabbe I panned this, too! #fanofthepan! 🤩🤩🤩 3mo
mjtwo @dabbe I really should have bailed! 3mo
18 likes2 comments
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mjtwo
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Pickpick

4-27 Feb 24
Despite its almost 500 page length, I finished this quickly. And I was enthralled but ultimately unsatisfied.
Not sure how exactly to describe it. ‘Irish family drama‘ is terribly misleading. Really, it is a book about pretence, hiding one‘s true self and miscommunication. The characters are frustrating and mostly self-absorbed. I did feel sorry for PJ.

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mjtwo
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Bailedbailed

1 Dec- 1 Mar 24
I love Kate diCamillo but for some reason this book did not resonate with Trix. It may be that she would just prefer for Luke to continue reading The Sisters Grimm with her. In any case, we have put it aside for now. Disappointing, but worth trying something else for a while.

dabbe #hailthebail! 🤩🤩🤩 3mo
11 likes1 comment
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mjtwo
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Mehso-so

7-11 Feb 24 (audiobook)
Interesting story and characters but the sexual violence and animal cruelty was too much, which is quite unusual for me. I found myself questioning Blomkvist‘s relationships with women. All were consensual, in fact he appeared to be the one being pursued, but they felt wrong, like they were the fantasy of the male author. His relationship with his daughter was also problematic for me. Not sure about continuing the series.

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mjtwo
Napoleon the Great | Andrew Roberts
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Pickpick

27 Jan-6 Feb 24 (audiobook)
A long and thorough account of Napoleon‘s life. No idea why I decided to listen to this. There were a lot of battles and a large number of men and horses died. Roberts does not villainise Napoleon but it is difficult to view him as a hero, particularly after the disastrous Russian campaign. I do know significantly more about Napoleon, and to a lesser extent his contemporaries, than I did at the start of the 37+ hours.

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mjtwo
Heartburn | Nora Ephron
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Pickpick

1-4 Feb 24
A ‘thinly veiled‘ account of the moments in which a heavily pregnant Ephron realises the failure of her second marriage due to her husband‘s infidelity.
I would not describe it as ‘side-splitting‘, but it is certainly amusing and a quick read. None of the characters are particularly likeable, which probably makes it easier to smile at Ephron‘s trademark wit as her world falls apart.

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mjtwo
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Pickpick

28 Jan 2024
Sold in Australia as a standalone story (and not that cheaply), I nevertheless felt justified in the purchase as I have loved both Keegan books I have read. I also loved this, although the protagonist is a far cry from the lovely man at the centre of Small Things Like These. The focus here is on misogyny and although it is very short, I am not sure I wanted to spend any more time with Cathal.
Keegan is truly one of my favourites.

18 likes2 stack adds
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mjtwo
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Pickpick

16-26 Jan 24
Fearing she will never pay off her student loans, Nova Scotian Katie heads to the Canadian oil sands where there is plentiful work for high salaries. When she arrives it becomes apparent that she is one of a very small minority of women living in a place of toxic masculinity. She is at one point subject to sexual abuse and is constantly facing harassment, as are the few other women at the plants.
Beaton‘s comic-strip style is engaging

12 likes1 stack add
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mjtwo
The Guncle | Steven Rowley
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Pickpick

22-26 Jan 24 (audiobook)
This is lots of fun but still manages to impart some interesting ideas about grief and family.
Patrick, a former sitcom star and Golden Globe winner, has not dealt with the grief of losing his partner to a drunk driver. He lives an isolated existence in Palm Springs until his recently widowed brother enters rehab and asks Patrick to look after his two kids.
This will make a great film - hope it gets made.

16 likes1 stack add
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mjtwo
The Godfather | Mario Puzo
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Pickpick

14-21 Jan 24 (audiobook)
Coppola‘s films adhered very closely to this novel, but fortunately they left out a few of the more cringeworthy chapters Such as the whole after story of Lucy Mancini. So as a huge fan of the films, I really enjoyed the book despite such episodes.
Puzo‘s world seems very real and his characters are brutal but also mostly sympathetic.
Looking forward to a rewatch.

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mjtwo
Piranesi | Susanna Clarke
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Pickpick

14 Dec-15 Jan 24
A soft pick - for most of the book I was wondering whether to finish. Something about Clarke‘s writing, and the book‘s brevity, kept me reading. I am pleased I did
Piranesi lives seemingly alone in a labyrinthine house full of statues near the sea, observing the rise and fall of tides and the comings and goings of the natural world. Twice a week he meets with The Other to report his findings. Until a third person enters the house.

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mjtwo
The Toll | Neal Shusterman
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Pickpick

4-8 Jan 2024 (audiobook)
Not quite as compelling as the first two books, but a worthy end to the trilogy. The Toll is a less likeable character than Citra, Rowan and Faraday (possibly my favourite) and as others have said this dragged a little. But I do believe the series and the questions it raises about mortality and who should choose who lives and dies will remain with me for some time.

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mjtwo
Picnic at Hanging Rock | Joan Lindsay
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Mehso-so

8-13 Jan 24 (audio)
My eldest is entering Clyde House, named in honour of the school Lindsay attended which inspired Appleyard College. Hence, I bought her a copy for her birthday which I expect to remain unread. Still, I was interested.
I found the writing too flowery and the narrator almost comical. The ambiguity is interesting - I cannot help but search for answers and others‘ theories. But there are many better books to read.

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mjtwo
Thunderhead | Neal Shusterman
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Pickpick

1-4 Jan 24 (audiobook)
Next instalment in the trilogy. Now included is the perspective of the Thunderhead, the omniscient AI which has been granted government of the world, and a number of other ancillary characters. Whilst the Scythedom has dominion over death, the Thunderhead controls everything else. It is shown as a benign presence, although I wonder whether this will be maintained as a basic premise of the series is that power corrupts.

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mjtwo
Scythe | Neal Shusterman
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24-31 Dec 23 (audiobook)
Dystopian YA - possibly my most addictive genre.
Set in a post-mortal future where Scythes are entrusted to glean the population to ensure against over population. Citra and Rowan are two teens chosen to become scythe apprentices at time of arising dissent amongst the Scythedom.
Polly loved this when she read it a few years ago and I can see why. Highly addictive, yet thought-provoking and well-written.

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mjtwo
North and South: Easyread Edition | Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
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14-23 Dec 23 (audiobook)
I enjoyed this far more than expected, having never really heard of Gaskell and expecting a poor man‘s version of Austen. The depiction of class in 19th century England and the emergent union movement were very interesting and distinguished this text from most of the 19th century romance I have read. It is far from perfect but I am pleased I took the time to listen. Juliet Stevenson is a wonderful narrator.

dabbe I loved reading her CRANFORD this year. I'll have to read this one, too! 💙❄️💙 5mo
mjtwo Will definitely give that a read, @dabbe 5mo
dabbe @mjtwo 🤩😍🤗 5mo
16 likes1 stack add3 comments
review
mjtwo
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Pickpick

27 Nov-13 Dec 23
Well-written but perhaps my expectations were too high. I did not love Gifty - she was remote and closed off. But perhaps that was the point? Surviving a loved one‘s addiction and inevitable death is devastating. I was also frustrated by the lack of action taken to help Nana, which probably says something about me and my inexperience of dealing with OxyContin addiction. The immigrant experience must make it even more difficult.

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mjtwo
Station Eleven: A novel | Emily St. John Mandel
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Pickpick

10-3 Dec 23 (audiobook)
I have loved all this author‘s books and wish I had waited to read this in text but I was impatient and it was in the Audible sale.
Set largely in a post-apocalyptic world devastated by global pandemic, it does not dwell on the immediate extreme havoc but on the world 10-20 years afterwards and the question of whether recovery is possible. The interconnected stories of survivors and victims are wonderful and heartbreaking.

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mjtwo
Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens | Shankari Chandran
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Pickpick

6-9 Dec 23 (audiobook)
Despite winning the Miles Franklin, I would have been unlikely to listen to this if it were not free Audible book of the month. I am pleased I did.
The parallel experiences in post-colonial countries throughout the world interest me, as does the attitude of the dominant group when they perceive they are being discriminated against. Gareth portrays a laughable lack of insight which is all too common.
Worth a listen.

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mjtwo
High Fidelity | Nick Hornby
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1-5 Dec 23 (audiobook)
Rob is in his mid-30s but has failed to grow up. He owns a failing record store, has few friends and a series of ex-girlfriends, who all seem to have dumped him for someone better. When his latest girlfriend leaves, he decides to reconnect with his exes to inquire why they dumped him.
Rob is immature and difficult to like. He is misogynistic, sulky and bitter.
But I loved Hornby‘s ability to evoke the period and his humour.

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mjtwo
Hattie Big Sky | Kirby Larson
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21 Nov-4 Dec 23 (audiobook)
Hattie is a teenaged orphan who has been shunted between distant relatives. During WWI, she receives a letter informing her that her uncle has left her his claim in Montana and she embarks on a quest to become a homesteader and make good her claim. It is interesting to follow her attempts and ponder the work and luck involved. She is also confronted with bigotry and discrimination in the name of patriotism.

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mjtwo
Bel Canto | Ann Patchett
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27-30 Nov 23 (audiobook)
I did not love this as much as Tom Lake or The Dutch House, but a weak pick nonetheless.
A famous opera singer attends the birthday party of a Japanese businessman at the house of the VP of a South American country which is stormed by terrorists. The resulting siege lasts months.
Interesting to see the relationships formed and the humanising of the terrorists, who are mostly young and uneducated. I was unsure about the end