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2016 50 Book Challenge - Page 126

post #1876 of 3286
59. The Bounty Hunters Elmore Leonard 1953

Leonard's first novel; coincidentally a Western.

An former army officer, now a contract scout, and a young officer out of uniform head to Mexico to retrieve an old Apache chief and give him land on a reservation in the US. Not surprisingly, he doesn't want to go. There's also a role for the rurales, Mexican bandit/soldiers, some of whom are good guys and some of whom are bad guys. The worst guys are the bounty hunters, who trade scalps for pesos, and the scalps aren't always Apaches.

Thoroughly enjoyable- better than all but a couple of Louis L'Amours I've read so far. I'll have to peruse a few more of Leonard's Westerns.

A
post #1877 of 3286
33. Frog Music

Frog MusicFrog Music by Emma Donoghue

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I really enjoyed Emma Donoghue’s Room so I was keen to read her latest novel. Frog Music is set in San Francisco in 1876, where the city is in the twin grips of a smallpox epidemic and a scorching heat wave. The novel explores the events surrounding an actual murder of the time, that of the cross-dressing frog catcher Jenny Bonnet.

The story is told from the point of view of Jenny’s friend Blanche, a French prostitute who dances and sings at a notorious brothel (another form of Frog Music?). Blanche is in a relationship with the gambling wastrel Arthur, with whom she has a son, P’tit, whom they have abandoned to the care of a baby farm.

Blanche encounters Jenny by accident and an attraction quickly forms. Jenny’s questioning leads Blanche to track down P’tit; she discovers him sickly and in dire need and rescues him, placing her professional and private relationships in immediate danger.

Shortly afterwards, Jenny is dead, shot through the window of a hotel bedroom. Blanche is sure that Arthur is responsible, and that Jenny was an accidental victim of an attempt on Blanche's life. She sets about trying to track down Arthur and avenge Jenny.

This is an entertaining book and a very good crime novel with a bit of a different setting. Donoghue keeps you guessing, and she also does a great job of describing San Francisco and the life of the underclass that Blanche is a part of. The only part of this book that did not ring true for me was that so much of the novel depends on Blanche’s maternal instincts for the misshapen, sickly and unloveable P’tit overcoming all of her desires for the life that she had. I’m afraid Donoghue’s Blanche just did not convince as somebody who would do that.



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post #1878 of 3286
Quote:
Originally Posted by California Dreamer View Post


My memory is struggling here, but wasn't this the book that was originally lauded on Oprah and then there was some massvie scandal about Frey having made most of it up? I remember reading it; the scene where he has dental surgery sure stuck in my mind!

 

There was (is?) some controversy about the authenticity - mainly around the criminality. Honestly, I don't really care if it's real, although I can understand others may.

post #1879 of 3286
Quote:
Originally Posted by LonerMatt View Post

There was (is?) some controversy about the authenticity - mainly around the criminality. Honestly, I don't really care if it's real, although I can understand others may.

Yeah, I seemed to remember something like that. As I said, elements of the book are unforgettable, and he more than makes his point. Still, he didn’t need to become the literary equivalent of Milli Vanilli to do that; he let himself down very badly there.
post #1880 of 3286
34. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden
The Girl Who Saved the King of SwedenThe Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson




The more I read of Jonas Jonasson, the more I am reminded of Tom Sharpe. Like Sharpe, Jonasson writes wild comedies built around a strong-minded character determined on a particular course, with ensuing mayhem all around.

The Girl of the title is Nombeko, a Sowetan toilet cleaner who is also a mathematical prodigy. She uses her intelligence to get the better of her Afrikaner oppressors, but things go awry and she ends up an indentured servant in a secret nuclear facility.

Nombeko is a rational person surrounded by crazies of varying descriptions including an incompetent engineer, three forgers of antiquities, a man who doesn’t exist, his twin who is a radical republican and his even more radical girlfriend, a potato-farming Countess and two ineffective Mossad agents. Oh, and the King of Sweden. These characters drive a wildly improbable plot based on the Maguffin of an atom bomb that has gone missing.

This is a lot like a classic farce: a clever and knowing central character, confused identities, twins, resentment between the classes and a bit of political commentary. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden is a light read and good for a laugh.



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post #1881 of 3286
Klewless title 39/50 - Dust by Hugh Howey

The final installment of the Dust trilogy. Not the best editing for the series, but a sold storytelling of post apocalyptic futurism. Not sad to see the story end, but worth the read.


Klewless title 40/50 - The Red Room by Ridley Pearson

Wow. Not one of Pearson's better tales, or anywhere near one. I can honestly say I have not been this confused by a book in a long time. What a steaming pile. This disaster of a work outlines the efforts of the protagonists misfit team of superspies trying to figure out what information has been withheld from their handler, while attempting to stay alive in multiple fish out of water scenarios. Recommend avoiding this one.


Klewless title 41/50 - A Better World by Marcus Sakey

Book 2 in the Brilliance saga. Sakey is one of great storyteller's writing right now. I highly recommend these books to anyone interested in solid tightly woven tales. The story centers around a genetic mutation that occurs in humans creating a new minority of super geniuses. This title furthers the plot in the government vs. conspiracy vs. privacy groups.


Klewless title 42/50 - Identity by Ingrid Thoft

Fina is back! Hardboiled noir PI Fina Ludlow works for her ambulance chasing family's law practice as their non-lawyer black sheep investigator. Lots of twists and turns in this whodunit, but another very entertaining installment in the series. Best read in order, and well worth picking up.


Klewless title 43/50

The Balaclava Club by Jason Goodwin - This has been touted as perhaps the last "Yashim" book. Goodwin has created a very vividly painted 19th century Turkey, and populated it with a eunuch who serves as an official investigator to the Sultan. His best friend, the outcast Polish ambassador reappears and plays an integral part in this book. Throw in exiles, political intrigue, a murder, as well as the colorful descriptions of Istambul, and this one is another sold effort from Goodwin.
post #1882 of 3286
60. The Gods of Guilt Michael Connelly 2013

Michael Haller (aka The Lincoln lawyer), is hired to exonerate an accused killer of a prostitute whom he once had ties with. He wins the case but at incredible cost.

Think I will find and read the rest of the LL books.
post #1883 of 3286
8 The Man Who Went Up In Smoke by Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo Nordic Noir fine as the temperature dips below 0 in Canberra.
post #1884 of 3286
61. Dusklands J.M. Coetzee 1974

LIST

2 novelettes, unrelated.

The first tells of a theoretician for the war in Vietnam, who, perhaps numbed by the violence of his subject, loses his mind and stabs his own child.

The second recalls one of Coetzee's ancestors from the mid 18th century- his explorations, big game hunting, and brushes with the natives.

I'm not really a fan of Coetzee, but clearly Bonsal is, because he has several books on the List.

D
post #1885 of 3286
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoffrey Firmin View Post

8 The Man Who Went Up In Smoke by Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo Nordic Noir fine as the temperature dips below 0 in Canberra.

I really liked that one.
post #1886 of 3286
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

 

44. The Promise

 

CD reviewed this earlier, so I won't re-review it. I missed the focus of Shadowboxing, but liked the prose and subject material - a few stories were genuinely great, a few not so much. A little disappointed.

post #1887 of 3286
Quote:
Originally Posted by LonerMatt View Post

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

44. The Promise

CD reviewed this earlier, so I won't re-review it. I missed the focus of Shadowboxing, but liked the prose and subject material - a few stories were genuinely great, a few not so much. A little disappointed.

I agree Shadowboxing was better, due to the continuity of characters and place in the stories (also a bit like This is How You Lose Her and Winton's The Turning). I think I prefer a short story collection to have an organising theme, rather than to just be an anthology.
post #1888 of 3286
7 The Man On The Balcony by Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo

An interesting series upon reflection can see elements, character traits or maybe its more of a archetypal character in way of a Sam Spade PI built on Martian Beck in modern crime drama.Or maybe I've just been reading too much Nordic Noir. Either way I have The Circle by Dave Eggers next.
post #1889 of 3286
62. Fugitive Phillip Margolin 2009

A Thriller that didn't thrill.

F
post #1890 of 3286
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

 

45. Father's Day

 

Tony Birch's short story collection Father's Day revolves around fathers, sons and the relationships between and because of them. A series of stories that sprawl over Melbourne's Inner-North (from Cartlon to Abbotsford), these stories display an excellent sense of place - and I enjoyed how nostaglic and timeless the settings were, apart from a few cues all stories could have been set in the 50s, 70s, or now. Pubs, the Yarra, the Races (all types), commission flats, trams and trains abound in this story that flits between the severe summer and overcast winter of Melbourne - with a few peeks at the seasons in between.

 

His prose is, in my opinion, fantastic in this collection. Each story is concise, and short - like Carver in that regard - but there's a real sense of Australiana, a casual and conversational nature to the writing that is both enticing and completely and uniquely Australian. Birch writes with understatement and brevity - and his stories never talk down to readers or alienate them. There were a few stories were I was left asking myself 'ok, I wonder what that was really about' - I was really curious and enticed (again, like reading Carver).

 

However, there are some very funny and bizarrely absurd moments - matter-of-fact and straight up.

 

Alongside Shadowboxing, this is an excellent collection that is, as far as I am aware, some of the best fiction being written in Australia currently. Anyone who loves short stories I would implore you to try and get a hold of these collections - if you're interested enough let me know, I'll probably be scanning one or two stories to use for class and would be happy to pass it along.

 

CD and GF - get on this book.

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