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2016 50 Book Challenge - Page 163

post #2431 of 3284
Quote:
Originally Posted by California Dreamer View Post

Me too - and I’m not a left-winger. I’ve worked in the banking industry for decades, hardly a red-ragging socialist, but those guys are something else.

I must check out Current Events then. Full of Djingis Khan / Sarah Palin supporters I guess?
Bankers are of course blood-suckers and wouldn't know about the plight of the common man. satisfied.gif
post #2432 of 3284
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

I thought so. I think the other Wilson books will interest you.

I don't suppose he wrote any Westerns?

Are there any specific titles you'd recommend?
post #2433 of 3284
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post

I don't suppose he wrote any Westerns?

Are there any specific titles you'd recommend?

No, he has stayed away from the Western genre. After that Vietnam book, he has written 4 espionage novels. I would suggest to read them in order - The Envoy (2010), The Darkling Spy (2011), The Midnight Swimmer (2012), The Whitehall Mandarin (2014). They are connected although they can be read independently. I thought the second was somewhat weaker, the other three very even quality.
post #2434 of 3284
19. Cane Jean Toomer 1923

LIST

Collection of stories and poems about Black America from this little-known African-American author.

Parts were slow, but overall a good read.
post #2435 of 3284
44 INSIDE THE DREAM PALACE The Life and Times of New York's Legendary Chelsea Hotel by Sherill Tippins

Started it last night got hooked in the first ten pages fascinating read, it got good review last year in the Guardian and the NYT
post #2436 of 3284
List (Click to show)
1. A Wrong Turn at the Office on Unmade Lists
2. Acceptance
3. Shipbreaker
4. Winter's Bone
5. Dhmara Bums
6. Istanbul
7. On the Trail of Genghis Khan
8. Holy Bible
9. The Boat
10. Collected Stories
11. Lost and Found
12. Blind Willow, Sleeping woman

 

12. Blind Willow, Sleeping woman

 

Murakami short story collection. Several stand outs, several repeats (the beginning of Norweigan Wood seems to have been a previously published short story), several terrible stories (monkey transmutation, etc). Murakami's best is still the slightly mysterious or unabashedly romantic, and his weird, fantastical works are generally weak and disengaging.

 

Wouldn't recommend this over his novels - everything felt undeveloped, or just dull.

post #2437 of 3284
Clockwise counting 11/50: Hammond Innes - Air Bridge (1951)

Fascinating "boy's adventure" stuff. After having read a few Innes books about seafaring, skiing and oil drilling, this one is about flying. Three ex-RAF pilots are at the centre of the story and one of them, called Saeton, has a dream to build a freight fleet on the basis of a new aircraft engine design. Nothing will stop Saeton from fulfilling his dream but the novel's protagonist, the shady but fundamentally moral Neil Fraser, thinks that some things in life are more important than glory. Very entertaining.
post #2438 of 3284
post #2439 of 3284
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
1. A Tale for the Time Being
2. The Sun is God
3. The Keeper of Lost Causes
4. Lost and Found
5. Murder on the Eiffel Tower
6. How to be Both

7. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour BookstoreMr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is a fantasy about a young man, Clay, who seeks a job after the start-up he worked for fails; he gets one at a quaint San Francisco bookstore run by Mr. Penumbra.

This strange shop stocks very few modern books, but has a vast range of old books climbing up the high walls, which Clay soon discovers are written in code. Mysterious people come in and borrow these coded books. Clay’s curiosity is fired and he decides to partner with a girlfriend who works at Google to figure out the mystery.

This is a promising enough scenario but Sloan’s treatment is lightweight and glib. His Gen Y heroes are able to marshall endless resources at the drop of a hat to resolve almost any challenge. The coded books and mysterious readers could be a device for a darker, more involved Neil Gaiman-style fantasy, but Sloan steers clear of that in favour of pace, lightness and a bland moral message at the end. Not my thing.


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post #2440 of 3284
20. Divine Justice David Baldacci 2008

The Latest Camel Club adventure in which Stone and the others get involved with a drug ring being run through a Federal max security prison in VA. The ending was hokey, but the rest of the book rocked.
post #2441 of 3284
List (Click to show)
1. A Wrong Turn at the Office on Unmade Lists
2. Acceptance
3. Shipbreaker
4. Winter's Bone
5. Dhmara Bums
6. Istanbul
7. On the Trail of Genghis Khan
8. Holy Bible
9. The Boat
10. Collected Stories
11. Lost and Found
12. Blind Willow, Sleeping woman
13. White Noise
14. Clariel

 

13. White Noise

 

Boring. No idea why this is a popular or lauded book. Seriously felt like every page was a chore - nothing grabbed me or interested me at any point of this novel.

 

14. Clariel

 

Mum dropped this round - it's a book that's part of a series my brother and I read 11-12 years ago. Shameless indulgence. Lovely YA fantasy with strong female characters and a unique magic system. I love this writer (Garth Nix) because most of his work is a lovely coming of age story, so not so much melodrama around saving the world and epic quests, but more coming to terms with responsibility and maturity by overcoming a relatively small problem.

 

I think I'll duck home and grab the other four and read them - I smashed this one out in a day and it was great.

post #2442 of 3284
White Noise completely soured me on DeLillo.
post #2443 of 3284
List (Click to show)
1. A Wrong Turn at the Office on Unmade Lists
2. Acceptance
3. Shipbreaker
4. Winter's Bone
5. Dhmara Bums
6. Istanbul
7. On the Trail of Genghis Khan
8. Holy Bible
9. The Boat
10. Collected Stories
11. Lost and Found
12. Blind Willow, Sleeping woman
13. White Noise
14. Clariel
15. Off the Rails

 

15. Off the Rails

 

A story about two Australians (Tim and Chris) that ride recumbent bikes from Russia to China - 10,000km, in the year 2000. A beautifully written, totally honest and really quite exciting read. The authors alternate chapters, so the writing does not become stale. They both have interesting perspectives, and I have really enjoyed this. They consistently repeat that others' perspectives that 'this is impossible' or 'ill advised' were uninformed, and there exists something quite affirming about two broke, starving, inexperienced 20 year olds riding through one of the largest and harshest landmasses on the plant - warts and all.

 

I didn't just enjoy this, but actually found it quite inspirational.

post #2444 of 3284
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
1. A Tale for the Time Being
2. The Sun is God
3. The Keeper of Lost Causes
4. Lost and Found
5. Murder on the Eiffel Tower
6. How to be Both
7. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

8. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of NazarethZealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Reza Aslan takes on a pretty much impossible task in trying to write an account of the “historical Jesus”. At the outset, he acknowledges that there is pretty much only one historical source that even refers to Jesus - Josephus - and even then only parenthetically. This forces him to rely on the Gospels and Acts for much of his source material.

The problem is that he repeatedly acknowledges that these sources are contradictory, known to have been massaged for political purposes and frequently contain errors of fact. And he doesn’t tend to rely on them in the instances where this is the case. However, on other cases, he pretty much accepts whatever the canonical sources have to say as fact, despite their unreliability; he doesn’t really have much choice.

I sense that this is compounded by Aslan’s own religious beliefs; he treats events like Jesus’ miracles and Paul’s vision on the road to Damascus in a fashion that is far too credulous for any real historian. This extends further into his discussion of other events in Judea. Referring to earlier “messiahs”, on one occasion he writes “he even raised a girl from the dead”. Not “he is said to have raised”; Aslan states this as fact.

Aslan sometimes confuses matters by losing what I would call the chain of evidence. At one point he says that Paul contradicts Jesus. Paul never met Jesus. What happened is that whomever wrote Paul’s letter contradicts what whomever wrote Matthew’s gospel says Jesus said. This is very shaky history.

In the end the book founders on its own internal contradictions. Aslan wants to write a history, but he is forced to rely on ahistorical sources. The book is very interesting in terms of the “and Times” part of it; events leading up to and following Jesus’ life are really well covered. Unfortunately the kernel of what Aslan seeks to write - the “Life” of the “historical Jesus” is a chimera lost in time, a fact that he acknowledges at the end.

If Aslan had stuck to writing a historical account of the early days of Christianity, he would have had a much better book, because the sources are better. In this case, he has bitten off more than he can chew.




(P.S. Am I the only person who couldn’t stop thinking about Narnia when reading this book?)


View all my reviews
Edited by California Dreamer - 2/21/15 at 4:03pm
post #2445 of 3284
Clockwise counting 12/50: C.J. Sansom - Sovereign (2006)

Third novel in the series about Tudor time hunchback lawyer Matthew Shardlake. Here Shardlake and his young adventurous assistant Jack Barak is part of Henry VIII:s 1541 "progress to the north", an ambitious effort to regain power over the rebellious and catholic Yorkshire. This novel is more about politics than crime but the politics under Henry VIII seems more violent and criminal than what could be imagined in most crime stories.

The fifth wife of the notorious king, young and beautiful Catherine Howard, gets in big trouble and so does our hero. Exciting and addictive reading over more than 600 pages. Excellent historical entertainment.
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