Category: The Bestseller Code 100 (page 2 of 8)

Four New Novels by Authors On The #BestsellerCode100 List

Are you looking for new novels to read for summer? Four of the authors on The Bestseller Code best 100 list (our ongoing reading challenge) have books coming out.

 

New-Novels-By-The Bestseller Code-List-Authors

 

Let’ take a look at them in the order we have been reading, starting with Number 100.

We read Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island starting on November 7, 2016.  In the novel, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels travels to the Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane on Shutter Island to find out what has happened to a woman who mysteriously disappeared. As the investigation deepens, Daniels uncovers more questions than answers.

Lehane’s newest, Since We Fell*, was released May 9, 2017. It features Rachel, who suffers from agoraphobia and panic attacks. What happens when she spots her husband somewhere he isn’t supposed to be?

 

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Want to find out more? There’s an interview with Dennis Lehane and book excerpt at Here and Now.

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We read Number 93, which was Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer-Prize winning collection of short stories, Olive Kitterage, starting February 13, 2017.

Her newest, released April 25, 2017, is also a collection of short stories.

Anything Is Possible* by Elizabeth Strout

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

There’s an informative article about it in The New Yorker.

#####

We’ll be reading Number 86, John Sandford’s Easy Prey, in a few weeks.

His newest in the series, Golden Prey*, came out April 25, 2017

 

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

John Sandford discusses his most recent book at a book signing at Poisoned Pen Bookstore.

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Finally, we have Paula Hawkins, who wrote Number 45, The Girl on the Train.

Her new novel, Into the Water*, came out May 2, 2017.

 

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Paula Hawkins  recently chatted live on FaceBook, sponsored by USA Today Life.

Looks like some great new novels to pick up for your summer reading.

Have you spotted any new books by authors on our list?

#BestsellerCode100: Starting Number 87 – World War Z by Max Brooks

Time to start the discussion of our next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 listWorld War Z:  An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks.

This post does not contain spoilers.

 

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War* by Max Brooks (2007)

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

What it’s about:   World War Z is written as a collection of witness accounts/interviews of the survivors of a zombie apocalypse. The journalistic tone gives this imaginative work a nonfiction feel.

Genre:  It is considered to be horror or apocalyptic horror.

Have you read World War Z:  An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective
  4. After you finish the book, you might want to drop by to take our wrap-up poll.

You can also join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

Have you written about World War Z:  An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks? Feel free to add a link to your review here.


__________________

What are we reading after World War Z?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is number 86. Easy Prey by John Sandford (2001) -mystery (series)- Discussion begins May 29, 2017

#BestsellerCode100: The Weird Sisters A Reader’s Review

Weird Sisters, by Eleanor Brown, is next up on our 100 Bestsellers List reading challenge.  For a synopsis of the book, check out Roberta’s Writer’s Review.

This post contains spoilers.

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Women’s Fiction

Weird Sisters is categorized as Women’s Fiction, a genre I normally do not read much of, and this book reminded me why that is so.   If you like reading a book that leaves you with a vague sense of feeling good and some gentle moral reinforcement, then this might be the book for you.  I expected more from a bestseller.  Here’s just a bit of what disappointed me:

– The main characters – the three sisters, Rose, Bean, and Cordy – were stereotypical.  Why was it the youngest who was irresponsible and became an unwed mother?  Wouldn’t it have been more interesting for the eldest, responsible Rose, to make some crazy mistake and be the unexpectedly pregnant daughter?

– The plot was slow and boring (was there a plot?).  Mom has cancer, so all the sisters come home ostensibly to take care of mom, but in actuality to hide from and ultimately resolve their secrets.  There were small moments of despair and moments of success, but nothing momentous.

– The ending was predictable (halfway through it I guessed correctly how things would end up for 2 of the 3 sisters).

Sisterhood Voice

Also, as Roberta mentions in her review, the narration is written in the omniscient first person plural, as the voice of the combined sisters, which I found confusing.  I was never quite sure if just one sister was speaking or if they were narrating as a combined sisterhood.  It was unique, but just didn’t work for me.

Time For Another Read Through

As I was reading, I kept asking myself why this book was chosen by the computer algorithm from The Bestseller Code.  I certainly wouldn’t have considered it a bestseller.  Since I seem to be having similar thoughts about several of the books we’ve read, I’ve decided to reread The Bestseller Code.  Hopefully now that I’ve read 12 of the books on the list, reading the book another time and reviewing how the list was created will make more sense and lead to a better appreciation of the subsequent books we plan to read here at The Bestseller Code Reading Challenge.

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first few lines of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

Join us on social media:

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is number 87. World War Z by Max Brooks (2006) – Discussion begins May 8, 2017.   This book is categorized as Horror or Apocalyptic Horror.

#BestsellerCode100: Writer’s Analysis of The Weird Sisters

Let’s take a look at The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown from a writer’s perspective. (The discussion began here.)

This post contains spoilers.

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

What it’s about: Three grown sisters return to their hometown when their mother falls ill. Although they grew up together and all were named after characters in Shakespeare’s plays by their father, the three sisters couldn’t be more different. Will the crisis pull them together or break them apart?

Characters

The three sisters are the main characters, and they share the mantle more or less equally. They are — in birth order — responsible math instructor Rosalind (Rose), chic New Yorker Bianca (Bean), and transient hippie Cordelia (Cordy).

Their mother serves as impact character. Because of events that happen to her, she drives the plot. When she develops breast cancer, the sisters return to their childhood home to be with her. Later, another trip to the hospital changes the dynamic between the sisters. Interestingly, the mother remains unnamed through the novel. She is simply “mother.” Because she appears to drive the plot without having much other relevance, she could be called a MacGuffin.

Their father, James Andreas, is a professor who teaches Shakespeare at the local college. In the novel, he serves as a contagonist of sorts, reacting strongly when Cordy reveals she is pregnant.

Setting

The novel is set in the fictional town of Barnwell, Ohio. It is a typical small Midwestern college town where the faculty and students outnumber the local residents. Rose’s dream is to land a permanent position at the college.

As in most small towns, the residents have known each other for a long time. Their pasts intertwine.

 

College-Ohio-The-Weird-Sisters
Photo credit: Larry Miller via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC

Unique Voice of The Weird Sisters

One of the unique features of the novel is that it is written in omniscient first person plural. At first the three sisters speak in unison, as if their minds connect into one. Ironically, they speak as one while explaining they aren’t all that loving and cohesive:

We see stories in magazines or newspapers sometimes, or read novels, about the deep and loving relationship between sisters. Sisters are supposed to be tight and connected, sharing family history and lore, laughing over misadventures. But we are not that way. We never have been, really, because even our partnering was more for spite than for love.

As the book progresses and the sisters mature, however, the first person plural starts to fade somewhat as the narration follows each sister. Is it because they have now established their own identities or because the author tired of it as a device? I suspect the former.

Have you read the book? What did you think of the first person plural voice?

Themes

The main theme of the book explores how birth order effects the sisters and their destinies. Even the title refers to it, because the word “weird” takes on the older meaning of its origin word, “Wyrd” or fate. Are the sisters’ fates determined by birth order or can they break free?

A lesser theme is that of stealing or theft. Each of the sisters steals something during the course of the book. Bianca (Bean) is the only one who commits a serious theft and is caught, but even she isn’t made to face severe consequences. She’s merely asked to pay back the money she stole and loses her job. Why do you think the sisters steal? How does it reflect on their characters? Their Midwestern upbringing?

Comments

Reading The Weird Sisters really drives home how different all the novels on this list are. This one is a sweet, close examination of the relationship between three sisters. How did it end up on the same list as the next book, a horror novel about zombies? Perhaps it is time to revisit The Bestseller Code (reviewed here) and see what traits the authors used to pick the novels on the list.

Join us on social media:

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is number 87. World War Z by Max Brooks (2006) – Discussion begins May 8, 2017

#BestsellerCode100: Number 88. The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Time to start the discussion of our next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 listThe Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

This post does not contain spoilers.

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

What it’s about: Three grown sisters return to their hometown when their mother falls ill. Although they grew up together and all were named after characters in Shakespeare’s plays by their father, the three sisters couldn’t be more different. Will the crisis pull them together or break them apart?

Quirky fact:  This book is written in the first person plural.

 

weird sisters

 

Have you read The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first few lines of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

You can also join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

Have you written about The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown? Feel free to add a link to your review here.

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is number 87. World War Z by Max Brooks (2006) – Discussion begins May 8, 2017

#BestsellerCode100: Unaccustomed Earth Wrap-Up Poll

Time to wrap up the discussion of our latest novel from The Bestseller Code 100 listUnaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. The conversation started here.

Note: Post does not contain spoilers.

Unaccustomed Earth* by Jhumpa Lahiri

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

 

We are reading these books because they were picked by the computer algorithm in The Bestseller Code by Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers as the best of the bestsellers.  Do you agree with the computer that this book should be on the list?  Why or why not?

 What was your final opinion of Unaccustomed Earth?

Do you agree with the computer that this novel is one of the best of the bestsellers?

 

You can also join us on social media:

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is number 88. The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown (2011) – Discussion begins April 24, 2017.

#BestsellerCode100: A Reader’s Review of Unaccustomed Earth

Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri, is next up on our 100 Bestsellers List reading challenge.  For a synopsis of the book, check out Roberta’s Writer’s Review.

This post does not contains spoilers.

 

Unaccustomed Earth* by Jhumpa Lahiri


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Short Story Collection

Unaccustomed Earth is a bit unusual in that it is actually a collection of short stories.  Part One consists of five different stories and Part Two has three stories centered around the same two main characters over the span of several decades.  All the characters are Bengali immigrants adjusting to life in America.

For the most part, Lahiri’s stories were easy to read, with characters keeping secrets and experiencing life’s disappointments and hardships.  Some of the stories were more memorable than others.  A week after reading Part One, I could only remember three of the five short story plots.  In Part Two, the voice changed to first person and took a while to get used to.  Just when I was used to one voice, it changed to the second character’s voice, and then the final chapter was back to third person.

Pervasive Sadness

Lahiri is a Pulitzer Prize winning author who has a penchant for ending her stories abruptly, with no follow up of the characters.  She likes to leave you guessing as to what happens in the future.  Sometimes that works, but more often I was aggravated.  I wanted more and felt cheated.

While I feel I have a better understanding of how immigrants and their children adjust (or do not adjust) to life in a new setting, Unaccustomed Earth left me sad and depressed, like I’d just spent a week without any sunshine.  Lahiri’s characters reminded me of Eeyore, from Winnie-the-Pooh, always thinking, “Woe is me.”   She would have us believe that immigrants rarely experience joy in their new country.  I hope that is not reality.

 

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective
  4. After you finish the book, you might want to drop by to take our survey.

You can also join us on social media:

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is number 88. The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown (2011) – Discussion begins April 24, 2017

#BestsellerCode100: Writer’s Analysis of Unaccustomed Earth

Each writer has different strengths and weaknesses. Let’s examine the book we are reading for The Bestseller Code challenge, Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri, from a writer’s perspective. (The discussion started here.)

This post contains spoilers.

 

Unaccustomed Earth* by Jhumpa Lahiri

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

What Unaccustomed Earth is about:

In this collection of eight short stories the author explores how the lives of people are changed as they migrate from place to place, specifically from South Asia to America. Jhumpa Lahiri asks the question whether — as a quote from Nathaniel Hawthorne suggests — people thrive when they “strike their roots into unaccustomed earth” instead of being “planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations, in the same worn-out soil.”

Narrative

If you are  writer, you have heard the advice over and over to “show, not tell.” Yet, sometimes you need to break the rules. In this case Jhumpa Lahiri has gone into her storytelling roots, mixing showing with big doses of telling.

“She pointed out one of the two bridges that spanned the lake, explaining that they floated on pontoons at their centers because the water was too deep. Her father looked out the window but said nothing. Her mother would have been more forthcoming, remarking on the view, wondering whether ivory curtains would have been better than green.”

Some of the telling results from the constraints of a short story. In a full-length novel Lahiri could have had a scene with mother and revealed her personality with dialogue. In a short story that is a luxury the author can’t afford.

 

unaccustomed earth

Characters

Each short story features conflicts within families. Most of the characters are people of either American and/or Bengali descent. Some of the conflicts arise from differences in cultures, some from differences between the generations, and some come from different goals between men and women in relationships.

Setting

Given that Lahiri is exploring the effect of migration on families, it’s not surprising the  short stories are set in a variety of locations. Most are in New England, but London and India figure in several of the stories. The family in the first short story has moved to Seattle. The characters in the final short story find love/passion in Rome.

The author is writing settings that she knows, because Lahiri was born in London and grew up in New England (Rhode Island).  In 2012 she immersed herself in Italian by moving to Rome, the setting of the last story. On a side note, she became so enthralled by the language that she wrote a memoir in Italian entitled In Other Words, which was translated by Ann Goldstein back to English.

 

Theme

A strong theme running through the stories is people hiding important things from one another. In the first story, “Unaccustomed Earth,” the father goes to great lengths to hide his relationship with a woman he met while traveling from his daughter.  In “Hell-Heaven” the mother hides her infatuation with a male graduate student the family befriended. The passive protagonist in “A Choice of Accommodations” tries to keep his former crush a secret from his wife. A sister covers up the fact her young brother is an alcoholic, not even telling her husband. She sees “Only Goodness.” A man has to choose whether or not reveal to his roommate that her lover is cheating on her in “Nobody’s Business.”  In part two, a family hides the fact the mother is dying of cancer. Later the father reveals to his son he has remarried only after the fact. Finally, a new wife hides her grief over the death of a former lover.

Comments

Even though the characters are from different cultures, they are all universal enough that the reader can relate to them. In fact, the theme of the problems of keeping secrets could apply to anyone. By the end, it is evident that “honesty is the best policy” no matter what the circumstances.

As for the telling/storytelling in the narrative, I found it somewhat difficult to get used to. At times it felt heavy or even pedantic. However, being able to understand and relate to the characters kept me reading.

Did you read Unaccustomed Earth? Did you notice the telling? What did you discover in the short stories?

Join us on social media:

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is number 88. The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown (2011) – Discussion begins April 24, 2017

#BestsellerCode100: Number 89 Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

Time to start the discussion of our next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 listUnaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri.

This post does not contain spoilers.

 

Unaccustomed Earth* by Jhumpa Lahiri

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

What the book is about:

In this collection of eight short stories the author explores how the lives of people are changed as they migrate from place to place, specifically from South Asia to America. She asks the question whether — as a quote from Nathaniel Hawthorne suggests — people thrive when they “strike their roots into unaccustomed earth” instead of being “planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations, in the same worn-out soil.”

Have you read Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective
  4. After you finish the book, you might want to drop by to take our survey.

You can also join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

Have you written about Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri? Feel free to add a link to your review here.


__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is number 88. The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown (2011) – Discussion begins April 24, 2017

#BestsellerCode100: The Orphan Master’s Son Wrap-Up Poll

Time to wrap up the discussion of our latest novel from The Bestseller Code 100 list,  The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson The conversation started here.

Note: Post does not contain spoilers.

The Orphan Master’s Son*

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

 

We are reading these books because they were picked by the computer algorithm in The Bestseller Code by Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers as the best of the bestsellers.  Do you agree with the computer that this book should be on the list?  Why or why not?

 What was your final opinion of The Orphan Master’s Son?

Don’t forget divs around polls

Do you agree with the computer that this novel is one of the best of the bestsellers?

 

You can also join us on social media:

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is number 89. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (2008) – Short story collection – Discussion begins April 10, 2017.

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