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2014 50 Book Challenge - Page 36

post #526 of 1967
That sounds like a great book. ^^^

66. One Shot Lee Child 2005
Disappointing. Reacher tangles with Russian era spies. Kills or maims them all. What they're after and why is just weak.

Reacher Scale 5.0
post #527 of 1967
67. 2010 Odyssey 2 Arthur C. Clarke 1982
Another mission to salvage Discovery from 2001 and repair Hal. Also to land on Europa and discover the secret of the great black obelisk. The obelisk actually demonstrates some very strange behavior with very interesting results. I'd give it a C+/B-. 2001 is the single best book I've read since we started doing this, so I will read the rest of the series.
post #528 of 1967
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post

2001 is the single best book I've read since we started doing this, so I will read the rest of the series.

Have you read The Sentinel? That's a book of short stories, including the ones that Clarke later expanded into 2001 and Childhood's End.
post #529 of 1967
Quote:
Originally Posted by California Dreamer View Post

Have you read The Sentinel? That's a book of short stories, including the ones that Clarke later expanded into 2001 and Childhood's End.
No. I'll have to try it.
post #530 of 1967
40. Starring in the Movie of My Life, by Laurel Osterkamp

I'm not real sure why I bought this really. It's more of a chick lit or young adult novel; not my usual thing. I learned this after I'd pulled the trigger at the Kindle store, and was fully prepared to hate it.

The book is about a schoolgirl who is determined to make her teacher into her lover, and the teacher's older wife, who is struggling to keep her marriage together in the constant presence of her ex. The story is told in chapters alternating the viewpoints of the schoolgirl and the wife.

In the end Osterkamp manages to lift this above the ruck by taking it in a few unexpected directions and adding depth to most of the main characters (orher than the teacher) as she goes. I think that What Was She Thinking is a far better book on similar subject matter, but this is not a bad effort.
post #531 of 1967
41a. The Blue Fox, by Sjon.

This is the first of two novellas by Icelandic writer Sjon, which I'll count as one entry.

The Blue Fox opens with an evocative account of a man on the hunt for a blue fox, a rare creature even in the Arctic. The focus then shifts to the story of Fridrik and his recently-deceased wife, whom we learn was an outcast. The rest of the novella reveals who the hunter is, and the nature of his relationship to Fridrik and his wife. For a novella, this is a very hard story to summarise, and I probably haven't done it justice. It is beautifully written and Sjon introduces a note of magic realism that makes ou wonder about the symbolism of the hunt and the quarry. Another thought-provoking book from a writer I'm starting to really like.

BTW, I figured out how Sjon got onto my recommendations list. He is translated by the same person who does the Indridason detective novels, many of which I've bought from Amazon. So their algorithm extends to translators as well as authors, which is interesting.
post #532 of 1967
41b. The Whispering Muse, by Sjon.

This one is a bit more playful than The Blue Fox. The narrator, Valdemar, is a diffident "expert" on why eating fish is the secret of Nordic cultural superiority. He publishes a journal on the subject and, through this, makes contact with a shipbuilding dynasty. Valdemar is invited to travel on the maiden voyage of one of their new ships.

Valdemar is fussy and upset that the food served on board has no fish whatsoever. He is furthermore affronted by a strange ritual after each evening meal, where the second mate recounts installments in the story of Jason and the Argonauts on the island of Lemnos, which was populated only by rapacious women.

Sjon intertwines the stories of the myth and the contemporary voyage, and invites the reader to draw some parallels, without ever making them plain. He blurs the lines beween myth and fact and, in the process, can leave the reader wondering how his narrative got to a particular point. This was a book I found myself flipping back and re-reading quite a lot.

That is all of Sjon, in English at least. Reading his novels I'm not at all surprised to find that he is a poet in his native tongue, and writes lyrics for Bjork. It all seems to fit with these sly, lyrical novellas.
post #533 of 1967
42. Lionel Asbo: State of England, by Martin Amis (2012)

You have to like a novel where one of the characters confesses to having sex with his gran in the first paragraph.

Lionel Pepperdine is renamed Lionel Asbo because he set the UK record for the youngest-ever recipient of an Anti Social Behaviour Order, while just three years old. True to form, he grows up to be a violent thug and petty criminal who spends half his time in jail. During one prison spell, Lionel is informed that he has won 140 million in the lottery. All of a sudden, the career criminal is a stinking rich celebrity.

However Lionel is still a vicious thug and remains so because he refuses to let money change him. His nephew Des lives in perpetual fear of Lionel finding out about his relationship with Lionel's mother. Brothers John, Paul, George and Ringo resent Lionel's wealth and his mother gets packed off to the old folks home in her mid-40s because Lionel reckons she has gone gaga. Busty page three girl come poetess "Threnody" moves in with Lionel and they becomes a celebrity couple.

Amis is in good form here. Lionel is one of his grotesques, but you never quite lose your sympathy for him. The book skewers the tabloid celebrity cult, and Des' attempts to come to grips with parenthood are good for a few laughs too.

It's not London Fields or Money, but it's a good read, certainly better than the review I saw that dismissed Amis as an "interesting minor novelist".
post #534 of 1967
42b. Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow, by Faiza Guene (2005)

The first book from the author of Bar Balto. It's pretty short and a Young Adult novel to boot, so I won't count it.

The book is narrated by Doria, a 15 year old Algerian girl living in the Paris projects. Deserted by her father, living with an illiterate mother and undergoing therapy and social work, Doria describes her life as "kif kif tomorrow", Arab street slang for "same shit, different day".

Doria is caustic in describing her life and the adults around her, and there are some real laugh out loud moments leading to a more optimistic finish. This book was a massive success in France on release, and its not hard to see why. Worth a couple of hours of your time.
Edited by California Dreamer - 9/2/12 at 4:03am
post #535 of 1967
68 2061 Odyssey Three Arthur C. Clarke 1987 I never really got this one. Heywood Floyd is now 100 due to the anti-aging of space and he signs on for a pleasure cruise in a new ship and helps rescue a hijacked space ship than had to crash land on Europa. When de dies in the end he's reunited with Dave Bowman and Hal the computer as sort of Space Gods. This was the last 2 chapters, IMO the only ones worth reading. Big time stinker. I hope 3001 is better.
post #536 of 1967
43. Beneath the Darkening Sky, by Majok Tulba (2012)

This is a first novel from someone who is likely to become a major Australian talent.

Majok Tulba is a 27 year old Sudanese refugee. When he was 9, armed forces razed his village, killing indiscriminantly. The surviving boys were stood next to an AK47. Those who were taller than the gun were whisked off to become cannon fodder in the rebel army. Tulba was slightly shorter, and survived. This book is his vision of what might have happened to him otherwise, and recounts the stories of child soldiers across Africa.

Beneath the Darkening Sky is a riveting page-turner of a novel, compelling you to read about something so evil that you might not want to know about it at all. It reads more like a true life account than a novel. Given that English is not Tulba's first language, and he never saw a book until he was 16, this is a major achievement.
post #537 of 1967
44. Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward (2011)

This book is about a pregnant teenager living with her father and brothers in a tiny rural community in Mississippi, in the days leading up to Katrina.

I've rarely read a book with as unappealing a set of characters as this one. Ward's Esch and her family and friends cover the gamut from merely tedious to downright obnoxious. The book isn't helped by the attempt by the author to draw parallels between Esch's pregnancy and the puppies that her brother's pit bull bears in the opening chapter. As if to ensure everyone gets properly turned off, she spends an entire chapter on a gory description of dog-fighting.

Salvage the Bones won the National Book Award, so maybe I just completely missd the point, but I had to force myself to finish this.
post #538 of 1967
69. 3001 The Final Odyssey 1997 Arthur C. Clarke Frank Poole, the astronaut Hal exiled to outer space in 2001 is found drifting virtually unharmed. He understandably becomes a galactic treasure and helps save humans (with the help of Halman- his former partner Dave Bowman and Hal combined into spirit form) from the menacing monolith on Europa. The book is better than 2010 and 2061, but not much. IMO 2001 is the only one worth reading. Not sure if it's on the list, but it should be.
post #539 of 1967
70. Smiley's People 1980 John Le Carre This one's on the list and I can see why. Tension-filled, but not as racy as a Reacher novel. George Smiley, back from retirement finally unravels all the loose ends and gets his Russian nemesis to defect. Highly recommend it. I though it was much better than Tinker, Tailor...
post #540 of 1967
45. Boomerang: The Meltdown Tour, by Michael Lewis (2012)

Lewis' latest book sees him take a tour through the economies that were most devastated by the GFC, and examine the underlying reasons for the straits they found themselves in. He visits Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Germany and California. Lewis serves up some background information that I was not aware of re Iceland and Greece, and makes a fair stab at identifying local cultural factors that explain the various behaviours that led each country to disaster in its own way. A really good read for those that enjoy current affairs.
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