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BC_Dittemore

BC_Dittemore

Joined May 2022

Ad Astra Per Alia Porci
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Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky
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Windswept by Margi Preus
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BC_Dittemore
The Round House | Louise Erdrich
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Every time I read Erdrich‘s work, I grow to look at her characters as extended family, to feel for them as I would my own. When they hurt, I cry with them. When they joke, I laugh with them. When they experience injustice I get angry with them.

The Round House is, at its core, about family, both immediate and extended, and what happens in the aftermath of a violent crime. The novel is a wonder, and like family, I will defend it, flaws and all.

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BC_Dittemore
And the Trees Crept In | Dawn Kurtagich
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Mehso-so

Like a YA House of Leaves, the way it plays with typography, how the house physically changes, and the pervasive creepy atmosphere.

In other aspects, comparisons can be made: Strong beginning, slow and repetitive middle, and suitable conclusion.

I appreciate that Kurtagich took a chance, playing with POVs and storytelling devices. It‘s a weird book, and like House of Leaves, I imagine it will be divisive. Unlike HOL it‘s just kinda meh.

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BC_Dittemore
Suttree | Cormac McCarthy
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Suttree flawlessly grasps the ethos of the quintessential American novel. It seethes Steinbeck, Faulkner, O‘Connor, etc. More a character study presented through a series of vignettes, Suttree can be frustrating in its reluctance to provide any conclusions to the often humorous and engaging stories, or presenting any real plot. But the writing here is masterful, brutal, and beautiful. And like all great American novels, it will leave you in awe.

BC_Dittemore I do need to point out that I listened to this on audiobook. Richard Poe‘s weathered voice was the perfect choice to give life to Suttree and its world-weary characters. 5d
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BC_Dittemore
Thieves Like Us | Edward Anderson
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Thieves Like Us is a pretty solid crime novel from the 1930‘s. It shines brightest when Bowie, T-Dub, and Chicamaw are planning and performing heists, losing a bit of its luster when It switches gears about halfway through and becomes more of a love story.

The writing is engaging, soaring high above dime store prose, and Anderson does a wonderful job threading a sense of dread throughout the second half.

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BC_Dittemore
Kindred | Octavia Butler
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There are multiple layers to Kindred. At once it‘s complex and simple, Sci-fi and not Sci-fi, fiction and nonfiction. The beginning suffers a bit from “first-part-itis” — the dialogue can be cringeworthy and the fact that Butler allows her characters to accept what‘s happened with little question is a bit distracting. The dialogue does improve, however, and the story is so good and so important that these minor flaws don‘t matter by the end.

SamAnne Plan to finally read it in December. 2w
BC_Dittemore @SamAnne hope you enjoy it! 2w
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BC_Dittemore
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I‘m a bit surprised by all the lukewarm reviews about Life, the Universe, and Everything. I think it‘s just as good as the first two. In fact, I may even like it more than The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

The plot is more convoluted than the first two, but plot has never been the main focus of The Hitchhikers Guide. It‘s zany, hilarious, philosophical, and just plain fun.

Martin Freeman narrates the Audible version and does great!

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BC_Dittemore
House of Leaves | Mark Z Danielewski
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I‘ll admit I was daunted by this book. It‘s been on my nightstand for a couple years, and I‘d randomly pick it up and thumb through it and be like, “Not ready yet.”

It‘s a demanding read, but I wouldn‘t say frustrating. The experimentation with typography is cool, and by the time it really starts going all out, you‘re invested.

Parts of it drag, especially Johnny Truant‘s rambling, but all in all, I‘m glad I finally walked down this staircase.

Bren912 I tried to find this book at my library and no luck. Where did you find it? 4w
BC_Dittemore @Bren912 it was given to me by a friend who couldn‘t get into it 4w
SamAnne I‘ve been trying to get to this one for a few years! 4w
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BC_Dittemore
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Went to the bookstore in search of a book for my friend‘s birthday. They didn‘t have what I was looking for so I ended up with a couple for myself. 😂

SamAnne I enjoyed Roundhouse! I‘m a big Erdrich fan. Kindred is up in my queue for December. Enjoy! 1mo
BC_Dittemore Thanks! I discovered both Erdrich and Butler this year and have fallen in love with both. 1mo
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BC_Dittemore
Trust | Hernan Diaz
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The first thing that struck me when I began reading Trust was how much it reminded me of Edith Wharton, and I loved that! It‘s rare to find a modern novel that emulates an older style so perfectly.

Then it becomes an entirely different beast. It‘s a demanding read but Diaz presents it so effortlessly. It‘s a surprisingly engaging book despite there not being a line of dialogue until well after the 200 page mark.

A very rewarding read.

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BC_Dittemore
Windswept | Margi Preus
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So, so excited to start this tonight!

Ever since reading Heart of a Samurai and The Bamboo Sword, Margi Preus has become one of my favorite middle grade authors. This just so happened to come out right about the time my daughter and I finished The Bamboo Sword and I‘ve been checking my library like every other day waiting for it to come in.

Finally!

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BC_Dittemore
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My last few audiobooks have been… weightier. Figured I‘d go with something light this time.

I‘ve noticed people saying this is the worst out of the bunch. Of course, a subpar Hitchhiker‘s Guide book is still better than a lot of stuff out there. 🤷‍♂️

Anyway, I listened to the first two on Audible… I guess it‘s been a couple year now, and naturally have read all the books in a past life.

I always look forward to the wisdom of Douglas Adams.

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BC_Dittemore
Fortunately, the Milk | Neil Gaiman
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PICK!

I gave my wife the choice between this or Willodeen to read with our 9-year-old and she scooped this one up. So, before I make a library run tomorrow to return ‘em both, I had to read this for myself.

Super goofy, fun story about a dad who goes through a lot of trouble to get his daughters some milk for breakfast — I can definitely relate. 😅

The illustrations are pretty cool too!

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BC_Dittemore
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Whoa… This book wrecked me. In a good way. I‘m a bit at a loss for words. Um…

Legitimately scary. Well structured and written. I blew through the last 100 or so pages in record time (for me) because it does such a darn good job of getting your heart palpitating. Those easily frustrated by ambiguity may be turned off by this one though. Tremblay leaves a lot open for interpretation, which, personally, I think is one of its strongest aspects.

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BC_Dittemore
Willodeen | Katherine Applegate
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A very cute and imaginative book with a timeless message about the bonds of Nature and humanity. Applegate‘s prose is poetic without being hard to decipher and the message never feels too forced or blatant. My 9-year-old absolutely loved it. And I enjoyed it, as well.

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BC_Dittemore
Clown in a Cornfield | Adam Cesare
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With a title like Clown in a Cornfield, you can‘t expect a masterpiece. Right? I went into this looking for quick, campy, bloody entertainment, and that‘s what I got. Cesare knows his slasher tropes and he knows how to infuse a horror story with the right amount of corn (pun intended).

The book has a ton of flaws, which I don‘t have the word count to address here, but I‘m gonna say PICK because it delivers what you‘d expect and I had fun.

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BC_Dittemore
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*image taken from a poster for the film adaptation

At its most basic, Woman in the Dunes is a metaphor for human existence. We are all of us stuck in a hole trying to get out. Attempting to understand that which is the hardest to comprehend: the meaning of self, the motives of other human beings, the point of suffering, and other such existential questions. Bleak and masterfully written.

Listened to on Audible — Julian Cihi nailed the narration.

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BC_Dittemore
Heat 2 | Meg Gardiner, Michael Mann
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Fans of the movie will not be disappointed! Mann and Gardiner do an excellent job maintaining the original feel of the film while making a story that can stand on it‘s own. Even if you‘ve never seen the movie, if you‘re a fan of crime, heist, detective fiction then Heat 2 is still a worthwhile read. In fact, skip the prologue, go blind into the book, then watch the film. I can almost guarantee it will improve your appreciation of both!

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BC_Dittemore
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One of the best early crime novels I‘ve read. While the end is pretty much given away at the beginning, the way McCoy structures the story, mixing Robert‘s testimony seamlessly with how he got to that point, keeps the reader invested. The excerpts between chapters (almost like subtitles) of the judge‘s sentencing is a stroke of genius. And McCoy‘s precise and skillful writing is a cut above other hard boiled authors of the time.

BarbaraBB Loved this! 2mo
BC_Dittemore @BarbaraBB it‘s really impressive. Pulp fiction isn‘t regarded for its stellar writing, but McCoy doesn‘t miss a beat here 2mo
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BC_Dittemore
Baby Teeth | Zoje Stage
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There really isn‘t anything particularly special about Baby Teeth, but I enjoyed it. It‘s the type of book I‘d recommend in passing. Not the type of ‘You have to read this‘ more of a ‘If you get a chance you should check this out.‘ There is a decent amount of suspense and intrigue to keep you wanting to read to the end, but it does get a bit repetitive. And there is a major plot point that‘s a little overly convenient. Still, if you get a chance…

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BC_Dittemore
And the Trees Crept In | Dawn Kurtagich
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My oldest daughter just turned 12 today! Decided to up the creepiness factor a notch from our last book. Hoping this will do the trick.

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BC_Dittemore
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Okay. I‘ve been in the library queue for Heat 2 since it was released. It finally came in this week. Looks like I‘m gonna have to take a break from my spooky books to make sure I get it read in time. When I went to pick it up, though, Trust was on a display by the front door, which I hadn‘t seen there, so I went ahead and scooped that up. Also, I‘ve heard good things about Paul Tremblay so I grabbed A Head Full of Ghosts to add to the spooky pile.

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BC_Dittemore
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Excited to dive into my first Kobo Abe novel for my next audiobook pick…

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BC_Dittemore
Their Eyes Were Watching God | Zora Neale Hurston
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Hurston uses the classic tragedy as her framework, applying it to early 20th century Black America. At it‘s heart is Janie Crawford, whose struggle to adhere to gender norms is handled with bravado by Hurston. The writing is lyrical and poetic, and in the audiobook version, Ruby Dee is the perfect vessel to deliver Janie‘s story.

The book is pretty damn close to perfect and it should be assigned reading in literature classes the world over.

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BC_Dittemore
Scritch Scratch | Lindsay Currie
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Mehso-so

Currie‘s writing comes off effortlessly but the story itself is a bit underwhelming. I was expecting something scary, but sadly, even for middle grade, Scritch Scratch is rather tame. Really, the best character is Chicago itself; reading about the city‘s spooky history was the highlight of this novel. As for the actual people characters and their storylines, there isn‘t much that sets them apart from other novels of its kind.

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BC_Dittemore
Willodeen | Katherine Applegate
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Jumping from the imaginary creatures of the ALICE books to the imaginary creatures of Willodeen with my 9-year-old. We‘re both digging it so far; she‘s already in love with the hummingbears. I‘m loving the prose - simple enough for its intended audience yet very poetic.

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BC_Dittemore
The Sentence | Louise Erdrich
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Catharsis (n) 1a : purification or purgation of the emotions (such as pity and fear) primarily through art
b : a purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension
2 : elimination of a complex by bringing it to consciousness and affording it expression

That seems apt to explain The Sentence. A novel that was clearly cathartic for Erdrich, yet is equally cathartic for the reader. A truly fantastic read.

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BC_Dittemore
Let Me In | John Ajvide Lindqvist
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Mehso-so

I didn‘t love this book; I didn‘t hate it. It‘s a good story but the writing is atrocious; I‘m convinced that Lindqvist didn‘t have an editor. Ultimately, my interest in how Oskar and Eli‘s story played out kept me from not slamming the cover shut for good. Lindqvist tries too hard to give us an epic, instead of keeping his focus where it counts.

If you‘re looking for a sexy or scary vampire novel this is not it.

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BC_Dittemore
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Unflinching in its portrayal of two tortured souls. Yes, it‘s gritty and violent, and delivers what you expect noir to deliver. But it‘s also a surprisingly touching love story. It‘s pretty awe-inspiring what Cain has done in a brief 100 pages.

Up next in the American Noir Of the 1930s & 40s anthology: They Shoot Horses, Don‘t They? by Horace McCoy

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BC_Dittemore
The Only Good Indians | Stephen Graham Jones
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I think everything you want in a good horror novel is here. Some genuine nail-biting scenes. Some grotesque imagery. More importantly, though, it‘s inventive in the way it uses structure and how it builds its suspense. It takes horror tropes and uses them to make something new and to top it off, infuses it with Native lore to make it feel almost possible. The end delivers, as well, which, with horror, is usually the hardest thing to pull off.

SamAnne I am not a horror reader and I loved loved loved this book. So much so that I am working my way through all his books. 2mo
BC_Dittemore @SamAnne I had no idea how many books he had written until I was looking through his Goodreads profile. I think I might read Mongrels next. 2mo
SamAnne It‘s not perfect, but it‘s pretty dang good. Great premise. This spooky season I plan to read Night of the Mannequins and Mapping the Interior. 2mo
SamAnne I think he just bangs out the books. Sometimes I wish he‘d take a little more time, do a bit more editing. His premises are@so brilliant. 2mo
BC_Dittemore @SamAnne 😅that seems to be the trend among a lot of horror writers 2mo
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BC_Dittemore
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Gearing up for spooky season!

This will be my first horror book marathon!

Not sure if The Sentence technically counts as horror. But it does have a ghost in it, and I enjoyed the last Louise Erdrich novel I read so much, I figured I could fudge the line a bit.

House of Leaves was given to me by a friend who said it wasn‘t for him. Wasn‘t too keen on reading it, but it pops up on a lot of ‘best of‘ lists. So I figured now would be the time.

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BC_Dittemore
Neuromancer | William Gibson
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Mehso-so

Considered a Sci-fi staple; the book that coined ‘cyberspace,‘ and birthed the cyberpunk genre.

Gibson‘s writing is vague and often confusing. Yet, there is something endearing in how it refuses to talk down to its audience, as if it‘s written for the people who live in the world Gibson creates. It‘s a tough read but I never felt myself wanting to quit even if I never quite knew what was happening.

Hard to recommend but still glad I read it.

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BC_Dittemore
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Well, I don‘t have a super fancy edition like my 150th Anniversary Dali-illustrated Alice in Wonderland for Through the Looking-Glass. But I do have this beast that I got back in high school. I think my daughter will be more appreciative of the original artwork, though, than the surreal insanity of Dali. 🤣😅

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BC_Dittemore
Their Eyes Were Watching God | Zora Neale Hurston
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Playing next… 🎧

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BC_Dittemore
The Anomaly | Herv Le Tellier
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If my TBR list wasn‘t so gigantic, I would go out tonight and buy a hard copy of this and reread it! The skill it takes to pull off a book like this is baffling. There is no main character. The plot, when boiled down, is rather thin. Yet, the structure, the attention to detail, the prose, it all coalesces to form an experience like no other in literature. Also, Dominic Hoffman‘s narration is fantastic; he can read every book to me from now on.

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BC_Dittemore
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I did not want to put this book down once I picked it up. I never felt it was too slow, nor verge too far out of the realm of believability, which could have been easy to do. Erdrich deftly builds suspense in a way that doesn‘t feel forced. I had not heard of Erdrich before reading this, and I was surprised to find she‘s written something like sixteen novels! Needless to say, I will be reading more of her work.

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BC_Dittemore
Never Let Me Go | Kazuo Ishiguro
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I have yet to be disappointed by Ishiguro; his novels are masterful. In Never Let Me Go, he builds this alternate world, yet grounds it so solidly in our own as if he has seen something that we always tend to overlook. And I suppose that‘s the point: the idea that we will turn our heads when we are faced with something that disturbs us. Yet, here, we are forced to look, and to think, and Ishiguro dares us to turn away, knowing we can‘t this time.

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BC_Dittemore
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Finally getting a chance to dig into this. Most likely gonna read them in order. First up: The Postman Always Rings Twice.

Making this my next pick for Granny; she would‘ve been four years old when it was first published.

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BC_Dittemore
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Panpan

I really don‘t want to pan this; there‘s a great story here, but the execution is endlessly repetitive and little more than generic platitudes. The five main characters, despite Li constantly telling us that they are different, all feel like the same person. Maybe, in a novel where the focus is more about Chinese American‘s diaspora than the heist plot it‘s framed within, that‘s the point Li is making, but it makes for an exhausting read.

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BC_Dittemore
The Martian | Weir, Andy
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Mehso-so

Maybe it‘s because I went backwards—starting with Project Hail Mary, then Artemis, now The Martian, but I was a tad underwhelmed. The Martian reads like a first novel. There are some pretty clunky passages, and a bit too much focus on characters we see once or twice then disappear. I would have enjoyed it more if Weir had tightened his focus. Still a good read, but Project Hail Mary is essentially a re-envisioning, and it is far superior.

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BC_Dittemore
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Love this 150th Anniversary Edition with artwork by Salvador Dali. I first read Alice in Wonderland when I was in my teens. I purchased this edition a couple years ago and read it to my then-9-year-old. Re-reading it once more with my now-9-year-old.

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BC_Dittemore
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Impressive. Beautifully written. Thoughtful.
Tell Me an Ending moves with a British sensibility — the tone and pace are not that of an action-packed Americanized idea of sci-fi. It is a speculative slow burn and I love it for that. In fact, I‘m amazed at what Harkin has gotten away with here — the book seems to break most of modern day‘s publishing rules. Excited to see what she does next!

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BC_Dittemore
Scritch Scratch | Lindsay Currie
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My daughter is turning twelve next month; every time I pick out a new book to read, I keep expecting her to tell me she‘s too old to have Dad read to her. But she was piqued when I showed her my latest selection, Scritch Scratch. As long as she‘s down to ride, I‘m down to ride.

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BC_Dittemore
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Next up on top of the stack: Tell Me an Ending by Jo Harkin. I just came across this one while I was searching for more comparbles and thought it sounded similar enough. This wasn‘t originally the next read on my list, but plans change. 😅

I love the cover, btw.

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BC_Dittemore
The Bamboo Sword | Margi Preus
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As with Heart of a Samurai, the graphic design in The Bamboo Sword is gorgeous and the writing is wonderful. I love the juxtaposition between Yoshi‘s POV and Jack‘s, the idea of these two boys who are worlds apart yet are so alike in their childlike wonder; it‘s a good message that never feels forced. If I have any complaint at all, I could see the intended audience possibly getting restless. As for me and my nine year old? Invested ‘til the end!

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BC_Dittemore
The Anomaly | Herv Le Tellier
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Next audiobook on deck…

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BC_Dittemore
Artemis | Andy Weir
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I understand why Artemis has so much hate directed at it. The general consensus is that Jazz feels like a woman that‘s been written by a man and I agree, but really none of the characters fit into their normal confines. Even the bad guys feel goofy and inauthentic, and I think that‘s the point. But to say Artemis is lacking in plot or action is totally not true. You can tell Weir put a lot of thought into It, and I think that is also the point.

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BC_Dittemore
Year We Fell from Space | Amy Sarig King
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The Year We Fell from Space is one of the best middle grade novels I‘ve possibly ever read. Hilarious and heartbreaking, oftentimes within the same sentence, it focuses on some tough issues without ever feeling toned down for its audience. I love Amy Sarig King‘s use of language and metaphor; it is perfectly evocative of its subject matter. The novel never sways into over sentimentalization or watered down cliches. It is a truly beautiful book!

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BC_Dittemore
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When Go Set a Watchman is good, it‘s REALLY good. And when it‘s rough it‘s REALLY rough. It‘s no fault of Lee‘s — she never intended it to see the light of day, and so it was never truly polished. It‘s a tough book, because it takes a revered character and casts him in a more human light. Yet, the lesson here is just as powerful and poignant as the one we take away from To Kill a Mockingbird.

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BC_Dittemore
I Am a Cat | Natsume Soseki
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I enjoyed this, but I do think the audiobook may not have been the best way to read it. The bulk of the book is conversations between the characters with very little action in between, so it‘s easy to let your mind wander and miss parts of it. Some people may struggle with the pace or the fact that ‘nothing happens‘, but it is very much worth the effort and I still recommend it. I hope to one day return to I Am A Cat and read a physical copy.

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BC_Dittemore
Dark Matter | Blake Crouch
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There are books you recommend. Then there are books you want to go out and buy twenty copies of and give them to everybody like, ‘You have to read this now!‘

This is one of those books.

Liatrek This has been on my self for ages need to bump it up the list for this year. 3mo
TheKidUpstairs One of my favourite SF novels of recent years. Such a great mind trip! 3mo
BarbaraBB Great graphic! 3mo
BC_Dittemore @BarbaraBB thanks! I used LEGO doors. Took some work but I was pleased with it 3mo
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