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i'd really appreciate the help, thanks!
welcome to the group!
eta: well, i made a list and it seemed silly to wait for a response before posting it, so i'm sharing the whole thing anyway... i'm dangerous with a list!
fantasy type novels
Bloodsucking Fiends and the sequel You Suck: A Love Story are very funny
Clan of the Cave Bear Series if you like prehistorical speculative fiction, but not particularly the actual Clan of the Cave Bear book- the 2 sequels Valley of the Horses and Mammoth Hunters are better
Wicked or Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister... actually, just read both since they are AMAZING
The Thursday Next series is more 30something main characters, but it's great if you like strong women and books. Shades of Grey by the same author is SPECTACULAR and has a wonderful female supporting lead.
The Handmaid's Tale is great if you like dystopian fiction like Hunger Games
The Girl with the Glass Feet is like a spooky grown up fairy tale
The Magicians is interesting for someone who loved Harry Potter and the like. the second half of the book was disappointing for me, but the first half was brilliant. a little raunchy at times but not bad.
The Lonely Werewolf Girl is worth a look
Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility if you haven't read them
ditto for Poisonwood Bible
The Whale Rider for something foreign and cultural
Atonement is good historical fiction
The Complete Persepolis if you are interested in graphic novel memoirs
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
The Thirteenth Tale
The Hotel New Hampshire and A Widow for One Year- neither of these really has a female main character, but the women in the stories are soooo interesting. Irving is a bit twisted, so these books are far from average.
i told you i was dangerous with a list! hope you find something to love!
The Thursday Next series is also very enjoyable!
Of "The Magicians", only the first half of the book was interesting. I didn't like the second half and I wouldn't re-read the book.
that seems to be the overwhelming response to it. everyone i've talked to who's read it said the second half felt like it was written by a totally different author. or the same author after he started doing drugs.
for me, the first half was just so completely amazing. i could read that part again, many times. if only it hadn't lost it's way, it would have become one of my favorite fantasy novels. which is the ONLY reason i'm interested in reading the sequel. i'm hoping the good stuff comes back... but i'm prepared to be disappointed.
i think the reason i didn't like Plains of Passage and LoPC as much as the others is because there is a LOT of traveling in each and Auel makes a BIG point to repeat information in each place the travelers arrive. after the 12th time you read some long, stupid formal introduction and read about new people's shock at some of Ayla's "gifts" you just want to chuck the book across the room.
there wasn't anything new and exciting in LoPC (and there were some things that were just pointless and ridiculous). LoPC is really Auel's love letter to the actual Painted Caves scattered around Europe, but the descriptions make the story tedious. i mean, if an Anthropologist (me) is bored reading about Anthropologically important sites, the average reader is probably ready to scream.
honestly, you could probably read the series and just skip the last one altogether. there just isn't a lot of story development that's worth reading in it.
However, because I did enjoy the first two books I went searching for similar books. I found the "Outlander" series by Diana Gabaldon, which I really really like!
Similarities to Auel's books:
-The story takes place in history, but in the 18th century in Scotland/France/England/America, and also in the 20th century. There's time-travelling but it's really well done, I think.
-books with very many pages
But there are better things too:
-Better written, hardly any repetition, so worth re-reading!
-There are also books about interesting side characters ("normal-sized" books) - Lord John series and a short story in an anthology about the parents of one of the characters (Roger's parents for who knows the series; which I ordered last week so I hope it will arrive soon - I also ordered the comic book about events from book 1 from the point of view from another character).
-The stories don't focus on only one "Ayla-like" character, there are many interesting characters and they all have faults, no-one is perfect.
-The conflicts arising because of the time-travelling are quite interesting, it is very easy to imagine yourself in the past. I like the descriptions but they are well interwoven with the story so it's not description-story-description-story-description-description-... The events in the past are also part of the story (Battle of Culloden for example).
I would recommend the Outlander series more than Auel's books, but I would also recommend (a bit less though) reading only book 1 and/or 2 of Auel's books. Maybe book 3/4/5 as well if you want to read more after book 2.
Also, it is interesting that, being a Victorian novel, it doesn't portray the "average" Victorian marriage. Helen (the protagonist) really managed to marry a piece-of-work-husband. It really can't be easy marrying someone one hardly knows, and then having to build a life with that person. How she handles it in the end, is really admirable. Read it!
In response to John Irving, I've only read four of his novels. I find that even though they are from male perspectives, there are always strong feminist undercurrents. The Cider House Rules was my favorite, but I loved them all!
Historical Fiction- The Pink Carnation Series, a little fluffy but tons of fun!
Fantasy- A Song of Ice and Fire (aka Game of Thrones) Series, lots of strong female characters. Daenerys, anyone?
Classics- Anything Bronte (Charlotte is my personal favorite but Anne and Emily are also wonderful) or Jane Austen
Contemporary- anything by Barbara Kingsolver or Geraldine Brooks
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