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8little_paws
In the Hurricane's Eye8little_paws (87)
who knew

that reading about naval battles would be SO interesting! I love non fiction and learning about history but this book exceeded my expectations. I really want to read more by Philbrick now.

Maid8little_paws (87)

I hear you. I feel like at the end it was clear her intention was to write a memoir during a specific time period of her life about a specific aspect of her life in that period. I still really liked it and highly recommend--but I would have loved to hear more about her parents and that fractured relationship, and I wonder if at some point she is going to write a memoir about moving to Montana and her life after that. I know it's gone through some ups and downs, based on her online writing, but it appears that things are going well for her now.

The Night Tiger8little_paws (87)

I didn't mind the romance so much but the agressiveness. It's the one reason I knocked a star off this from being a 5 star book. I still loved this book despite that though.

Golden Child8little_paws (87)

"If Clyde had chosen to save the kidnapped twin, he feared that the kidnappers would only come back and threaten his family again. That is, by giving in to their demands, he feared a never ending cycle of violence. "

Wow, that's so well put. Good point!

American War8little_paws (87)

I loved this exchange. I agree I believe it means that the US involvement in foreign affairs essentially has started many many overseas wars, and the chickens have come home to roost if you will.

Lucky You8little_paws (87)

Yes, you captured how I felt about this book!! I also thought the author did a pretty good job making them almost so pathetic they're funny, at first, but then by the end of the book they're just straight up sad to watch.

Lucky You8little_paws (87)

I liked it a lot more than most readers here did for the same reason you did. I read it in two nights. I wouldn't call it my favorite but all in all I personally enjoyed it. As I was reading it though I could tell that it was not going to work for every reader.

Lucky You8little_paws (87)

Really interesting point about Rachel's view of Chloe. I agree Chloe felt unfinished compared to the other two. I don't think Rachel or Ellie had any sense who they were either! I could relate to certain aspects of each character though, or remember what it felt like to go through something similar in my 20s. All in all I liked, but didn't love, this book. I wasn't really amped about any of the picks this month--that's pretty rare for me, I usually really love my BOTM pick.

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?8little_paws (87)

I just finished this today, it took me a week as I tried to only read a few stories a day. So after I saw your comment about this it really jumped out at me. The are some stories where the gender is not identified until somewhat far along.

Swing Time8little_paws (87)

I think that sharing a biracial background is a large part of it. Tracey is like the mirror image of the narrator--her mother is white and father is black while it is flipped for the narrator. She is a successful dancer and our narrator is not. She has a name and our narrator doesn't. There is something going on in this book about the experience of being biracial, along with how white culture takes from black culture with Aimee as our example, and Astaire dancing in blackface. I finished this book a week ago and I still haven't fully processed it!!

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?8little_paws (87)

I just finished this today, it took me a week as I tried to only read a few stories a day. So after I saw your comment about this it really jumped out at me. The are some stories where the gender is not identified until somewhat far along.

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?8little_paws (87)

This was a good one, but I think my favorite was Only Once. I really liked how she turned the story from bright to tragic in that one particularly. I really liked the title story as well and how she addresses race through it.

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?8little_paws (87)

I agree. I am only about 40% through the book though. I try to read a story or two every night. They are not the kind of stories to rush through so even though it is a slim book it is deceptive. My favorite so far was Only Once, I like the title story a lot too.

A Gentleman in Moscow8little_paws (87)
An Evening with Amor Towles

So Amor Towles came to a book store not too far from me, I knew I had to see him in person, since I just loved this book so much.

It was the best author meet-up I've ever attended! First, he did a little slide show with pictures of the Metropol hotel and talked about the actual history of the building and of that time period. He said he got the idea for the book from his prior job in the financial sector where he had to travel regularly and stayed at the same hotel year after year. He eventually started to recognize people at the hotels year after year and that is what inspired this book.

Then, he talked a bit about his writing. He said that while no character in the book is modeled after anyone he knows in real life, that his daughter did inspire some of the exchanges between Nina and the Count. He writes his first draft all alone, with no one else to read it, and then when that is finished he sends it to his agent/publisher and his wife. He had so many questions that he was unable to get to them all, but provided an email for those who had further questions to reach out to him.

I asked him via email about the letter A at the beginning of every chapter:

"as to the A's in the chapter headings. Early in the drafting of the novel, I had the instinct that I should follow this rule, and I trusted my instinct. In retrospect, I think I wanted to signal to the readers that while AGIM takes place in a dark era for Russia, that the book has an element of play and a touch of magic about it."

I also asked him if with his second novel, if he felt greater pressure than he did with his first. His reply:

"I am now 52. I have two children entering their teen years. And I spent 21 years as an investment professional. So while I have written fiction since childhood, I have had the luxury of writing my two novels in a mature state with plenty of commitments, satisfactions, and sources of humility and pride. This has allowed me to pursue fiction for myself without much concern for the world at large."

He was an absolute delight. He is at work at book 3, but as he is in draft 1 stage, no one else has seen any of it. When he signs books, he brings along rubber stamps of a top hat and of a Russian Cathedral and stamps your book along with signing it.

If Amor Towles is coming to a store or library near you I highly encourage you to attend. His schedule is on his website, amortowles.com.

A Gentleman in Moscow8little_paws (87)

I'm starting a new thread about his visit--and I did ask!

The Mothers8little_paws (87)

I didn't really feel she was making a political statement at all. And personally I didn't think the abortion really haunted her (though it haunted Luke). I thought the death of her mother haunted her more.

The Mothers8little_paws (87)

I also was taken aback by those last lines and trying to interpret them. Was hoping someone here could figure them out! I'll take a second look and venture a guess this weekend.

The Mothers8little_paws (87)

I don't think the author really did explore race that much with this book. There were some sections where it was brought up, but mostly not. I heard her on NPR and she said she wanted to represent ordinary lives with characters who happened to be black.

The Mothers8little_paws (87)

I think she wanted to focus primarily on the women of the novel. I thought Nadia and Aubrey were the real heart and soul of the book even though Luke is a primary character as well. And this book is also a reflection on their mothers, and their response to having children, and less about father/son relationships.

The Mothers8little_paws (87)

I thought they added a community voice, so we could see how the community felt about the issues of abortion, infidelity, etc. through their lens. And also to see how the times have changed since the ladies were younger. I thought the ending with them was most interesting.

Oh also, I think it's interesting to see their perspective, cause in a way they could have been surrogate mothers for both Nadia and Aubrey, but I don't really think they were.

The Mothers8little_paws (87)

SPOILERS: I don't think they're meant to be together, but I think Luke will always be linked to her mother in a way--she used him to ease the suffering she felt at that time, so going forward, when she feels that need to relieve emotional pain, she thinks of Luke. For him, I think he will always link her to the loss he felt about his unborn child, a what-if.

The Mothers8little_paws (87)

Nadia was going through such a bad time in her life when she and Luke got together, and it seemed like her friendship with Aubrey was what lifted it. So when they first became friends, she probably just wanted to put it behind her. But then it was too late.

A Gentleman in Moscow8little_paws (87)

He's coming to speak at a bookstore near me on Nov 1, I'll ask him then :). I'm getting my copy signed by him too!

A Gentleman in Moscow8little_paws (87)

Holy cow, no I didn't, but that's really interesting!!

A Gentleman in Moscow8little_paws (87)

Oh good point! I was thinking about this (I loved that reflection of the Count's--I remember that exact passage). If Sofia stayed in Russia, she wouldn't be living in a place where she could develop her own relationships and family after the Count passes away, thinking about what happened to so many of the characters we met in this book. So maybe the Count wanted his own friendly chats and tea with the willowy actress, and give Sofia her own shot at finding friendship and love going forward? Thanks for raising this point!

8little_paws (87)
And the Count went back to his childhood hometown and met up with the actress there. It was a sweet ending, but sad that he'll never see Sofia again.
A Gentleman in Moscow8little_paws (87)

I haven't. I really want to now. Maybe BOTM will offer it as an add-on. HINT HINT BOTM.

A Gentleman in Moscow8little_paws (87)

I was of the understanding that she approached Richard (? is that the name? The American friend) for asylum to the US.

A Gentleman in Moscow8little_paws (87)

The characterization of this book is really terrific. The Count feels like an absolutely real person to me. Just delightful. I find myself actually thinking "What would the Count have done?"

A Gentleman in Moscow8little_paws (87)

I've barely read any to be honest, but now maybe I should because this was absolutely wonderful.

Behold the Dreamers8little_paws (87)

YES!! I just finished it this morning on the train. It is one of my favorites of all time. I thought she gave all the characters interesting and realistic backgrounds. It was terrific.

The Girls8little_paws (87)

Oh that's great--having some of Suzanne's perspective would have been really interesting. Good call!!

Dark Matter8little_paws (87)

I didn't understand why they got so much "wrong"about Chicago though! The neighborhood Jason lived in was Roscoe Village but they called it Logan Square! And the Pulaski location shouldn't be anywhere near the lake. I couldn't understand why they threw in so many Chicago references only to get it wrong. Or is this an alternate universe Chicago?

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things8little_paws (87)

Yes you nailed it. I still can't figure out if it was necessarily right or wrong. A really unusual reading experience and I mean that as a good thing!

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things8little_paws (87)

That's true about how Wavy was compared to Kellen post-prison, that she was more mature than him! I hadn't thought of it that way at first. He did lose some luster. I thought they were at equals at the very very end, that last chapter where you find out they got married.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things8little_paws (87)

Brenda made it all about how she was feeling and her reactions and not at all about how wavy might have felt!

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things8little_paws (87)

I'm glad they got Donal back but I agree, wish that part of the story hadn't been rushed.

8little_paws (87)
See I felt the ending was sweet and real! Wavy and Kellen were equals now and were able to have a respectful adult relationship without the will they won't they drama. Their relationship survived the transition from teenager/adult unequal footing to equal footing. I'm glad we have this board to discuss this book on--it's probably the most challenging book, ethically speaking, that I've read. I'm afraid a lot of people will pass it over because of the subject matter and that is their loss!
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things8little_paws (87)

I need to go back and look at that because I didn't pick up on it! Great catch.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things8little_paws (87)

I wonder if this third act was intentional by the author. To purposely show us an outsider's view of the whole thing--I think if it was real, and had any of us heard about it in the media, we would be quick to judge the whole thing as gross and wrong. I told my book club about this book, and the looks on the faces I got when I told them of the plot! All disgusted.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things8little_paws (87)

"I feel wrong saying this, but I was kind of mad at society when I finished this book. Society often seems what is acceptable and what is not."

Yes, and the way her parents treated her and Donal was really far worse than Kellen.

Dark Matter8little_paws (87)

Yup! That was my criticism of the book as well. I liked it but felt Daniela was too much "the perfect woman" and it felt flat.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things8little_paws (87)

I'm so glad to see this thread and see how many readers loved this book and found it a challenge to read. I was hesitant to pick this book as my August pick, because I thought the subject matter would just be too disturbing, but I found it compelling and finished it in under 24 hours,

The Girls8little_paws (87)

I think Sasha's story shows that such a story could take place today. A young girl desperate for validation from men in positions of perceived power.

The Girls8little_paws (87)

This felt more like a really dark coming of age book this way, with the cult as a framing device.

Shrill8little_paws (87)

Definitely body image stuff. I thought Lindy was so insightful regarding that. There were so many lines I wanted to flag or underline.

The Girls8little_paws (87)

I think she saw herself in the girlfriend that got left behind when the kid drove north w/o her, almost like a mother hen. The distance from the events gives her the ability to see how desperately she was looking for validation from others.

The Veins of the Ocean8little_paws (87)

I agree that Reina wanted to escape but not Nesto. I think Nesto did come to peace with his situation at the end though.

The Veins of the Ocean8little_paws (87)

They both seemed to progress in their relationship very slowly and they were respectful of what the other was going through. This book was hard for me to read, not because it was not a good book, but because it felt so real that it was like I was struggling along w/them.

Shrill8little_paws (87)

These are great discussion questions, firstly. Secondly, to actually answer your question--I am with her on this, that I don't really like when comedians joke about stuff that can actually be really hurtful to people. Like, why do you feel so required to do so? You're a funny person--you have options about what you will and won't joke about, so why?

Before the Fall8little_paws (87)

Initially I didn't care for the ending but the more I get away from it the more I can accept it--I think it has exactly to do with the toxic masculinity you've pointed out, I think the author was trying to take that concept to its furthest extreme. So it wasn't so much a whodunit with a big twist but more reflective on issues in our society.

The Association of Small Bombs8little_paws (87)

"It seemed like he was distancing the reader from the outcome, the same way we can feel distanced from overseas tragedies in real life."
That's a really good observation. I understand what you mean by feeling distanced by some of the characters, but I still really liked this book despite that.

The Association of Small Bombs8little_paws (87)

yeah I think it was supposed to be an allegory for how the group he was going with turned him into a terrorist? Just an idea.

The Association of Small Bombs8little_paws (87)

Absolutely to the first question. The author assumes a fair amount of knowledge of the region by the reader. That meant I had to take a minute and look stuff up sometimes but I didn't mind because I enjoy learning about other parts of the world while I read--that's a big reason why I read.

The Association of Small Bombs8little_paws (87)

I loved this approach. I felt he did a really good job with showing how the characters' beliefs changed throughout the book. When I finished the book I wanted to re-read it again because even though it is short there's a lot to think about there.

The Nest8little_paws (87)

I loved this book. I thought the author did a knockout job balancing all the different storylines and plots. It easily could have been too chaotic, but it wasn't, and that's a testament to the author IMO.

Left of Boom8little_paws (87)

Honestly I don't know how he was able to keep it straight with all the drinking too. I would have blabbed after a few drinks! I don't blame his girlfriends for bailing out of the relationship with him.

Left of Boom8little_paws (87)

I really liked this perspective. I read a lot about the military/Iraq/Afghanistan and this is like looking at a different side of a thousand-sided die. I also really liked that this book was a good blend of memoir and nonfic.

Left of Boom8little_paws (87)

Doug was a really young guy when he went through this. I get it too. I think he made the right call to get out.

The Profiteers8little_paws (87)

I actually liked the additional info. I figured this would be only about Bechtel corp and then it ends up going so much into world history and US/Int'l relations, I learned a lot from it.

All Things Cease to Appear8little_paws (87)

It can be disorienting for the reader, I wonder if that is what the author was going for? I found the experience of reading this book very unsettling, which fit well with the subject material.

All Things Cease to Appear8little_paws (87)

I too absolutely loved this book. It was a great case study of a sociopath. Very glad I added it on.

The Profiteers8little_paws (87)

Oh that's really interesting! How did you like the book? I loved it. Interested to see what you thought especially given your background!

The Profiteers8little_paws (87)

Ok I finished this book and absolutely loved it. I have a hard time saying this does represent entrepreneurship, because the client base is so often a political entity. The reason Bechtel got to where they are today is because they were politically ensured to succeed.

Anyone else read this book? Would love to hear other's thoughts on it.

The Profiteers8little_paws (87)

I'm still pretty early on in this book but I feel the Hoover dam project is a great illustration of government contracts with private companies gone "wrong". The owners were keeping such a large portion of the excess revenues because of the decrease in cost of goods, when many workers suffered, and the government likely could have put that extra profit to use. That's really disheartening.

I went to the Hoover Dam for the first time in fall of 2014 and there is very, very little mention of how poorly the workers were treated.

Excited to read more! Loving this book so far.

The Queen of the Night8little_paws (87)

I ended up really liking the best friend character a lot. I can't recall how to spell the name and the book isn't nearby. I really liked their friendship--even when apart for a while they would pick right back up again where they left off.

The Queen of the Night8little_paws (87)

This book so far reminds me a lot of the Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, at least for me. We have a main character that I'm completely invested in, and this artifact that keeps running through the story (Ruby rose here, painting there) and so much of the story is just due to being in the right place at the right time for major events to unfold.

The Queen of the Night8little_paws (87)

The political figures for sure--comtesse, empresse, emperor. Did not realize how much of that was true!

The Queen of the Night8little_paws (87)

So after seeing this, I started googling the people, and I'm glad I did because it's helping me understand the story better--like the stuff with the Comtesse etc. And that's a real picture of the Comtesse on the cover!!

I kinda wish they put the author's notes about the background and research at the beginning of the book. I haven't read them in detail but I haven't seen anything that would have spoiled the story line for me in them.

The Profiteers8little_paws (87)

Popping in to say I haven't started this book yet (will do so when I finish Queen of the Night) but these are awesome questions that I'll be thinking about as I read.

The Queen of the Night8little_paws (87)

Good question. I don't know a lot about opera, despite even having a bachelor's in music (but not in vocal performance!) so if the are errors here, I'm not educated enough on the subject to catch them.

I can think back however to some books I've read set in Chicago which is where I've lived the past 14 years. Chicago has a very clearly defined grid street system, and any time an author gets something on the grid wrong it's like a record scratch for me--cause all you'd have to do to get it right is read a map. Yet I'm sure anyone not familiar with Chicago wouldn't even notice it!

Anyways what I'm getting at is while accuracy might not be noticed by a large chunk of your readers, it's important to those that will, so I really appreciate knowing when an author has made that effort.

The Queen of the Night8little_paws (87)

This seems to be a current trend in a lot of books lately, or perhaps I'm just noticing it now. I find that I can pick up after a few chapters. Once I had my bearings I went back and reread a few sections to make sure I was understanding everything thus far.

Only Love Can Break Your Heart8little_paws (87)

Ditto! Even though Patricia skeeved me out. Interesting how the other adults in Rocky's life who knew about that seemed to tacitly approve.

The Oregon Trail8little_paws (87)

You're welcome! And my March box showed up today!! Woohoo!

Only Love Can Break Your Heart8little_paws (87)

I too thought this was a really sweet and sad book. It wasn't on my radar before this. There was a lot of plot going on here but I thought the author managed it all well. I read it almost in a day, I couldn't put it down, it was a very enjoyable book.

The Sound of Gravel8little_paws (87)

Thank you so much for your reply! I can only imagine what your grandparents felt as they learned the details.

The Sound of Gravel8little_paws (87)

I would love it if Ms. Wariner would consider a sequel memoir, about how she raised her sisters.

The Sound of Gravel8little_paws (87)
Could the Grandparents have helped?

So I absolutely loved this book. I really thought the author did a great job of expressing her frustration with her mother yet showing that deep love for her at the same time.

The ending is so tragic. I keep thinking about what could have happened to prevent it, which makes me think about the grandparents, who disapproved of their daughter's life style yet didn't interfere much.

What would you do if you were the grandparents of a daughter like Kathy? Would you have let her keep control or would you have investigated the lives of you grandchildren more?

The Sound of Gravel8little_paws (87)

I thought the way she wrote about the mothers was excellent. Very complex women who clearly love their children but due to something apparently outside their grasp, they are unable to let go of this abusive man. Why? What happened with her mom to make her so desperate for a man's attention and affection? Was it one thing or many things?

I was really floored by this book and (spoiler alert) I would read a sequel if she wrote one, about what happens immediately after as she learns to become the sisters caregiver.

The Sound of Gravel8little_paws (87)

I'm about halfway through and cannot put it down. I woke up early to read it this morning even.

I am so interested about the mom. Why does she make such awful choices? Her own parents seem decent. Were they not always this way? Or did mom have a mental or intellectual disability?

Lafayette in The Somewhat United States8little_paws (87)

I just finished this today. Couldn't put it down! I learned a lot and found her voice engaging throughout. This is my first book by this author. I really want to read her other history books now. Great pick!!

The Witches8little_paws (87)

I'm now about 30 pages near the ending, and the last 100 have been the best in my opinion. It's where the flurry of accusing Witches ends, and she goes into why it ends and about how the community had to live with the fact they unnecessarily killed a number of residents. It's really interesting. All in all the book was up and down for me but I'm glad I stuck with it.