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2014 50 Book Challenge - Page 138

post #2056 of 2061
Busy time at work again, so here are 8 titles since my last update:

Klewless Title 56/50 - The 6th Extinction – James Rollins

This is a rip-roaring adventure in the Sigma force series. In this tale, science mixes with fantasy when a prehistoric “extinction event” agent is rediscovered lurking deep within our planet. Government agents fight with shadowy mercenaries in a winner take all contest to control the destiny of mankind. This was a very fast, highly entertaining read, one of the better in the series.

Klewless Title 57/50 - The Button Man – Mark Pryor

This is the 4th title in the Hugo Marsten series, but actually a prequel in the story timeline. Marsten is a retired FBI agent who has been assigned investigative duties to the US foreign service corps. In this case, he is attempting to solve multiple murders taking place around greater London. Very entertaining, quick read and fine as a standalone title.

Klewless title 58/50 – Close Call – Stella Rimington

Rimington is the former head of MI5, and writes a fictional series of espionage novels featuring analyst Liz Carlyle. This most recent in the series takes advantage of ethnic paranoia to set up a story regarding individuals of middle eastern origin plotting a terrorist act in Great Britain. Rimington has a good voice, and her books are quite enjoyable. Recommended that these be read in order, but worth investing in the series.

Klewless title 59/50 – Another Great Day at Sea – Geoff Dyer

A non-fiction account of life aboard a US aircraft carrier. When offered a free shot at accepting an author-in-residence placement, Dyer figured there would be no chance this request would be accepted. He was wrong, and this tale is an account of some of the characters he met, and events witnessed. Fantastic opportunity here, blown by lack of development by the author, and an overall mess with editing. Not worth wasting your time.

Klewless title 60/50 – An event in Autumn – Henning Mankell

Mankell’s Wallender series should be required reading for all eurocrime fans. He has repeatedly stated that he is done with the character, but unearthed this short story for a few extra bucks. This novella is a classic Mankell, but with a bit of a more somber tone. Most entertaining is the “interview” at the end explaining his history with the character. Give the book a miss if you must, but worth reading the endnotes.

Klewless title 61/50 - The Lost Island – Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

This is the latest book in the Gideon Crew series, which should be read in order. Crew is a intellectual genius who has been given less than a year to live due to a medical condition. He has an ongoing relationship with a shadowy quasi-governmental organization that freelances work for making the impossible possible. Crew finds himself paired up with an unwilling partner as the duo globetrots to find a mysterious “cure” for all that ails mankind. A scientific stretch, but entertaining nonetheless.

Klewless title 62/50 – The Marco Effect by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Danish police in “Department Q” (cold case division) face an uncertain future when their division head announces his retirement. Carl Morck, the crusty inspector at the center of this series does not take the news well, and along with his 2 partners set out to try and live under the new leadership while solving another case nobody wants. A central theme in this story regards the status of refugees in society, and does a nice job balancing the issue without becoming too off-putting. This is a solid police procedural with good character development. Read this series in order.

Klewless title 63/50 - Silence of the Sea by Ysrsa Sigurdardottir

This was a pretty good read. This locked room mystery genre is the latest in a series centering on an Icelandic lawyer who finds herself assisting with criminal investigations as they tangentially involve whatever legal case she accepts. This installment involves a luxury yacht mysteriously arriving in port with all hands missing. Pretty fast paced tale, these do not need to be read in order.
post #2057 of 2061
List (Click to show)

1. All Tomorrow's Parties
2. Undivided: Part 3
3. High Fidelity
4. Hard Boiled Wonderland at the End of the World
5. Polysyllabic Spree
6. Armageddon in Retrospect
7. South of the Border, West of the Sun
8. What we talk about when we talk about love
9. Norweigan Wood

10. The Master and Margherita

11. The Fault in Our Stars

12. Of Mice and Men

13.Fade to Black

14. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

15. Watchmen

16. Captains Courageous

17. A Brief History of Time

18. The Trial

19. Wind up Bird Chronicle

20. A Visit from the Goon Squad

21. Neuromancer

22. Count Zero

23. Shadowboxing

24. Hell's Angels

25. Anansi Boys

26. Steelheart

27. A Hero of Our Time

28. Mona Lisa Overdrive

29. The Complete Collection of Flannery O'Connor

30. The Last Blues Dance

31. Gularabulu

32. The Glass Canoe

33. The Lies of Locke Lamora

34. Handmaid's Tale

35. Girt

36. Museum of Innocence

37. Neverwhere

38. The Ghost's Child

39. Picnic at Hanging Rock

40. Submarine

41. Name of the Wind

42. Wise Man's Fear

43. A Million Little Pieces

44. The Promise

45. Father's Day

46. Swan Book

47. Red Seas under Red Skies

48. Republic of Thieves

49. Labyrinths

50. Carpentaria

51. Snow

52. Straw Dogs

53. Wrong about Japan

54. Wish

55. Monkey's Grip

56. The Plains

57. Wild Abandon


56. The Plains


As boring as the landscape the novel is set in. No idea why this is an Australian classic. The main character was so pretentious the whole book was a chore to read. THe prose is over-worked and almost prosaically dull, there's no point in reading this.


57. Wild Abandon


This story follows a family of 4 who live in a commune as their lives, personalities, relationships and community undergo some massive changes. Entertaining, not as funny as the reviews quoted on the cover claimed. Better than the author's previous novel (Submarine), no doubt Rich Ayoade would make this an incredible film. Light reading that last a 10+ train trip.

post #2058 of 2061
44. Dead Certainties

Dead Certainties is a bit of a strange book. Simon Schama combines two stories within it: one called The Many Deaths of General Wolfe recounts Wolfe"s demise in battle, and then looks at the mythologising that followed it, in the forms of Benjamin West's famous painting, and the history of Francis Parkman.

The second story, called Death of a Harvard Man, occupies most of the book. It concerns the disappearance and murder of noted Boston capitalist George Parkman (an antecedent of Francis Parkman's) and the subsequent sensational trial of Harvard Professor John Webster for the crime. Schama's somewhat fictionalised account is an engrossing retelling of a quite gruesone and scandalous affair.

I found it a struggle to grasp the point that Schama was trying to make in combining these two stories. Despite both a Foreword and an Afterword where Schama tries to explain his idea, I can only see the most tenuous connection between the two, and would have enjoyed the book just as much - if not more - if Schama focused solely on the story of the Webster trial, and left Wolfe out of it.
post #2059 of 2061
65 The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon.

This is a very engaging and entreating read, more so for some one who as a child read countless Marvel comics and in particular repents of the 1940's pulp heroes. Only been reading it a few days and totally engrossing manages to capture the zeitgeist of the time with aplomb. Very enjoyable and highly recommended.
post #2060 of 2061
Clockwise counting 80/50: Fred Vargas - Dog Will Have Its Day (1996)

Second crime novel in the Three Evangelists series. A small human bone is found at a Paris street corner and the eccentric retired investigator Louis Kehlweiler follows an unlikely trace to a small town in Bretagne where an evil murderer lurks among the locals. Only two of the three historians (the Evangelists) are involved in this story and the protagonist is instead Kehlweiler, a man with a tragic past going back to the end of the Second World War.

This is another very engaging mystery from Vargas, even better than the predecessor.

I think I'll make 100 this year.
post #2061 of 2061
Clockwise counting 81/50: Jean-Claude Izzo - Solea (1998)

The final instalment of Izzo's Marseille Trilogy ends the story on a dark note. The protagonist throughout the trilogy is retired policeman Fabio Montale, hopeless romantic, heavy drinker, gourmet, ladies man and jazz lover. The hopeless battle against the evermore powerful mafia can be fought but never won as long as money and power talks louder than moral and humanity. This is a bloody story with a seriously depressive undertone, at the same time it's a eulogy to old Marseille and a homage to love.

This trilogy is mandatory reading for anyone interested in Mediterranean Noir.
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