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2016 50 Book Challenge - Page 168

post #2506 of 3273
FEBRUARY

I. BOOKS

Memory Wall, Anthony Doerr: A collection from my favorite contemporary writer at the moment. The worst thing about this book is that it ends.

About Grace, Anthony Doerr I could probably count this one three times for all the re-reading and annotating I did - his first full-length novel, about a possibly psychic man who abruptly leaves his family after a vision of his daughter's death. Kind of an odd mix of Stephen King and nature writing, brimming with humanity. Recommended.

Fatelessness, Imre Kertesz Ostensibly a novel, this horrifying account of a young man's internment in not one, but two German concentration camps reads more like a memoir. Very good, but if you've read Man's Search For Meaning or This Way For the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen (both excellent, horrifying books), probably not as impactful as it would have been.

The Palace Thief, Ethan Canin A quartet of 'long' stories, each related to Heraclitus's most famous quote: Character is fate. Canin, probably the best example of contemporary fiction in the Iowa mode, does not disappoint.

II. GRAPHIC FICTION:

Revival - (1-27 - ongoing) A solid rural noir about a town where the dead (or some of the dead) rise. It starts out great, but would have been better as a limited series.
The Secret Service, a.k.a. Kingsmen, Mark Millar (1-6 complete) Saw the movie. Loved it. The comic was unfortunately much less fleshed-out.
Avengers Vol. 4, Brian Bendis (1-38 - complete) Well written and entertaining. Not the best comics has to offer, but up there -- an amazing beginning again segues into pointless cross-overs and foolishness. Really disappointing as the first arc was more compelling than the recent film (which I love, because Joss Whedon).

THE X-MEN CANNON!

(Something I hope to read through this year, for various arcane reasons)

Children of the Atom A prequel to the 1968 comic, this one details how Professor Xavier recruits his first class. Great idea, but unimaginative and disappointing.
X-Men Season One (complete) A modern retelling of the comic's first year or so of adventures. Pretty solid, actually.
Avengers v. X-Men (1-12 complete) Recent! The Avengers and X-Men disagree, chaos ensues. Solid and entertaining.
Avengers v. X-Men: Consequences (1-5 complete) See above.

All-New X-Men (1-37 ongoing) Written by Brian Bendis, the David Mamet of comics, this series is pretty inspired, actually. Beast (the blue guy, Kelsey Grammar in the films) travels back in time to bring back the five original X-Men -- Jean Grey, Cyclops, Iceman, Angel, and a younger version of himself -- to talk some sense into 2015 Cyclops, and avoid catastrophe. It's not only fun, but allows a great character-driven narrative full of interactions that explore themes not typically found in superhero comics, I don't think. Really good.
Edited by noob in 89 - 3/8/15 at 6:46am
post #2507 of 3273
Quote:
Originally Posted by California Dreamer View Post

I actually read this as an eBook, and felt quite self-conscious about that by the end, particularly when reading the material on why e-reading is inferior to reading physical texts.

lol8[1].gif So what did you think? This one actually scared me off the internet (or at least caused me to change some of my habits). Have you unplugged at all?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoffrey Firmin View Post

Christ on bike i read that twenty one years ago looking at my copy of it on the library shelves as I write.

icon_gu_b_slayer[1].gif Nice. It was on my shelf for ten, before I finally dove in.

(Also, a few months back, I lost a PM from one of you. I think it was you -- if so, that was unintentional, and I apologize).



Quote:
Originally Posted by LonerMatt View Post

20. Every Man in this Village is a Liar

Are you telling me you've hit twenty so far, in eight weeks, including the Bible? (I haven't read through the back-pages yet -- that's next). If so, that's pretty impressive. Again I wonder if any of you watch TV. (May you all shame me into doing better). biggrin.gif
post #2508 of 3273

I've hit twenty - but the book 'Holy Bible' is a work of Australian fiction, not the Christian text.

 

Please misconstrue that statement as much as possible.

post #2509 of 3273
Quote:
Originally Posted by noob View Post

So what did you think? This one actually scared me off the internet (or at least caused me to change some of my habits). Have you unplugged at all?

It certainly changed my views about the value of the internet as a research tool, and highlighted a lot of negative impacts. I’m already a curmudgeon on a lot of technology; I despise smartphones and in no way do I think Steve Jobs made a net positive contribution to society, when you consider the impact of all the misery, insularity and rudeness that his devices have spawned.

That said, I can’t say that I’ve changed my online habits that much; I’m just more aware of what I am doing, and hopefully knowing this helps me make better use of it.
post #2510 of 3273

Almost all technology should be systematically and absolutely removed from learning. Research has consistently shown that it is almost always (outside of IT classes, coding, etc) detrimental to student learning.

 

Unfortunately, the implicit belief that many parents, teachers and communities have is that more technology is better.

post #2511 of 3273
Quote:
Originally Posted by LonerMatt View Post

Almost all technology should be systematically and absolutely removed from learning. Research has consistently shown that it is almost always (outside of IT classes, coding, etc) detrimental to student learning.

Unfortunately, the implicit belief that many parents, teachers and communities have is that more technology is better.

Governments too. Politicians love a good laptops-for-schools project, even if they have no idea what they will be used for, how they will remain charged for the whole day, how the teachers will monitor use, etc.
post #2512 of 3273
23. Gone for Good- Harlan Coben 2002

One of the best thrillers I've read all time. The plot involves a fugitive from an alleged brutal murder. His younger brother, a neophyte sleuth, solves the caper amidst so many plot twists in the last 50 pages it will make you seasick

as opposed to:

24. The Target David Baldacci 2014

CIA operatives Robie and Reilly engage in a plot centered around monkeying with North Korea. Not as believable as The Interview, and certainly less funny.
post #2513 of 3273
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fueco View Post



Fair enough. May I ask which books you've read of his?

When I first picked up an Ed Abbey book, I was a "hardcore conservative" (what you'd now call a Tea Partier and was offended by some of what I read. Abbey was one of the first authors who opened my eyes to a broader world beyond what I knew. I strongly feel that I shouldn't only read what is comfortable and what I agree with and to broaden the scope of my thinking. The bonus is that now, when I drive through the desert Southwest, I constantly see place names that remind me of his books.

This is the only book I've read so far. Abbey was recommended by a friend. Being a Utopian Socialist, my views clashed a lot with his, although I also saw some keen insights.

I lived in CA for 20 years and traveled extensively through AZ. Not so much through Utah, however. I have an appreciation for the DSW as well, but so does my literary hero, Louis L'Amour. biggrin.gif

Perhaps I will try another of his books after all.
post #2514 of 3273
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
16. Sabriel
17 Hitler's Daughter
18. Quack this Way
19. Grapes of Wrath
20. Every Man in this Village is a Liar
21. The Twelve Fingered Boy

 

21. The Twelve Fingered Boy

 

A really enjoyable read about a boy living in prison who befriends a loner with psychic powers. It's basically a cat-and-mouse story about two kids on the run from abusive and difficult State services. While a bit cliched, the ongoing reflection about what it means to be a neglected and abused child and the way that effects actions and thoughts was a bit shallow, but still good. A pretty cool read for 12-16 year olds, and I enjoyed the prose plenty.

post #2515 of 3273
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
9. Levels of Life
10. The Seventh Day
11. Fortunately the Milk
11b. The Sleeper and the Spindle
12. The Agile Project Management Handbook
13. Reykjavik Nights

14. The Siege

The SiegeThe Siege by Arturo Pérez-Reverte

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The Siege is a sprawling historical novel set in the backdrop of the siege of Cadiz by Napoleon’s army. The core of the novel is a series of vicious murders of young girls, being investigated by the brutal Comisario, Rogelio Tizon. Tizon becomes convinced that there is some kind of link between the murders and the French shelling of the city, but is at his wits' end trying to understand it.

Perez-Reverte weaves around the story of the murders other plot lines that show how the siege is affecting different parts of Cadiz. A wealthy woman is forced by circumstances to engage in letters of marque with a corsair (barely-concealed piracy). A French intellectual has dedicated himself to solving the physics problem that will allow his artillery to reach the heart of the city. A poor Spaniard fights as a guerrilla to protect what little he has. A taxidermist betrays his country. Through it all, Tizon haunts the streets, desperate to find somebody to arrest and torture into confessing, before his masters decide to use him as a scapegoat.

Perez-Reverte has done a terrific job knitting all this together and making the reality of the siege for both attackers and defenders read authentically. At times the book variously works as a gothic murder mystery, a spy novel, a war story, a story of forbidden love or a pirate adventure.

The problem I have with this is that it sometimes feels as if he has not given enough thought to how to end these various strands. I found most of his resolutions unsatisfactory and unfulfilling, even depressing. Given the amount of time required to read this huge novel, I felt that I was looking for a bigger payoff than the author gives us.

15. The Torch

The TorchThe Torch by Peter Twohig

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The Torch is Twohig’s sequel to the The Cartographer, and sees us back with the Blayney kid rampaging around early 1960s Richmond.

Blayney (we never learn his first name) is 12, and obsessed with spying, exploration and being a super-hero. At the start of the book, his house has been burned to the ground by a local arsonist, whom he dubs Flame Boy and considers his nemesis. He pursues Flame Boy through the houses, alleys, drains and tunnels of Richmond.

Twohig’s rollicking plot turns on the maguffin of a briefcase that Flame Boy has in his possession, which an awful lot of people want to get their hands on. Aware of the kid’s propensity for getting about and finding stuff, various parties put pressure on him to find it. He scrambles around Richmond forming secret societies, hobnobbing with spies, girls and other super-heroes, starting high school and meeting a very interesting new friend, Rafi.

While the tone of the book is pacy and funny, there is a serious undercurrent to all this; Blaney’s twin Tom died in his presence and he was unable to save him. From that time on, he developed epilepsy and his parents’ marriage has fallen apart. There is a suggestion that a lot of his fantasy life is escapism to help him deal with this and get away from a world that gets him down at times. His immersion in Richmond's criminal element, and his growing awareness of the complexity of the adult matters going on around him, including grief, adultery, alcoholism and the war also add to the book’s serious side.

The narrative voice that Twohig has created from this mix is unique and utterly Australian. The kid uses lots of humorous slang, and the writing is full of cheeky wit. As someone who grew up in inner Melbourne in the 60s, this book struck a lot of chords and brought back a lot of memories. I’m pretty sure some of the jokes will go over the heads of readers not familiar with Australia at that time, but that doesn’t mar the book much. For those of us familiar with Richmond and its surrounds, Twohig works in a lot of discreet references to various familiar buildings and events, which adds to the fun.

Twohig has created a cast of memorable supporting characters, notably Granddad, who is what the papers of the time would have referred to as a “colourful local identity”. A highly improbably plot is played for all it is worth and there is a lot of laughs and a bit of sadness as well. Twohig has come up with a winner again. There are hints in this book that a third may be on the cards, which I will greatly look forward to.

View all my reviews
post #2516 of 3273
Quote:
Originally Posted by California Dreamer View Post

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
9. Levels of Life
10. The Seventh Day
11. Fortunately the Milk
11b. The Sleeper and the Spindle
12. The Agile Project Management Handbook
13. Reykjavik Nights

14. The Siege

The SiegeThe Siege by Arturo Pérez-Reverte

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The Siege is a sprawling historical novel set in the backdrop of the siege of Cadiz by Napoleon’s army. The core of the novel is a series of vicious murders of young girls, being investigated by the brutal Comisario, Rogelio Tizon. Tizon becomes convinced that there is some kind of link between the murders and the French shelling of the city, but is at his wits' end trying to understand it.

Perez-Reverte weaves around the story of the murders other plot lines that show how the siege is affecting different parts of Cadiz. A wealthy woman is forced by circumstances to engage in letters of marque with a corsair (barely-concealed piracy). A French intellectual has dedicated himself to solving the physics problem that will allow his artillery to reach the heart of the city. A poor Spaniard fights as a guerrilla to protect what little he has. A taxidermist betrays his country. Through it all, Tizon haunts the streets, desperate to find somebody to arrest and torture into confessing, before his masters decide to use him as a scapegoat.

Perez-Reverte has done a terrific job knitting all this together and making the reality of the siege for both attackers and defenders read authentically. At times the book variously works as a gothic murder mystery, a spy novel, a war story, a story of forbidden love or a pirate adventure.

The problem I have with this is that it sometimes feels as if he has not given enough thought to how to end these various strands. I found most of his resolutions unsatisfactory and unfulfilling, even depressing. Given the amount of time required to read this huge novel, I felt that I was looking for a bigger payoff than the author gives us.

I have enjoyed his previous work but your right the ending of this just sucked big time as a reader I felt it was act betrayal on the part of the author towards the characters. Normally I would have passed this on to Mrs GF to read but I just gave it to St Vinnies as I finished it.
post #2517 of 3273
39 Reykjavik Nights by Arnaldur Indridason
post #2518 of 3273
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoffrey Firmin View Post

I have enjoyed his previous work but your right the ending of this just sucked big time as a reader I felt it was act betrayal on the part of the author towards the characters. Normally I would have passed this on to Mrs GF to read but I just gave it to St Vinnies as I finished it.

That, and the resolutions offered for some of the most baffling parts of the mystery were complete bollocks.
post #2519 of 3273
25. Promise Me Harlan Coben 2006

Myron Bolitar, full time sports agent, and part time doer of daring deeds, finds himself embroiled in a missing teenage girl mystery. With the help and protection of his psychotic friend Win, he's able to get to the bottom of things.

Enjoyed it somewhere between the two above.
post #2520 of 3273

5. (of 30) Norwegian Wood Haruki Murakami

First book by Murakami and I'm not exactly sure what I think of it. There was very little action, which I'm sure is appealing to some, but it was definitely something I had to get used it. I must admit some passages I was slightly bored. Perhaps that was just due to my slightly high expectations and with that being said I still found it to be a very good book and I enjoyed his writing. I don't think I've ever been so saddened by a book - in a weird way. I've already started reading Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World and it seems to be more up my alley, will be interesting to see where it leads.

 

I know it's titled 50 book challenge, but I don't feel like it'll be possible for me personally with all the reading I do for school as wel, so I hope my 30 books challenge is acceptedl.:) Also, really amazed some of you can read 800 pages in one night. I'm reading in a foreign language, which is probably hindering my reading speed quite a bit, but that's still really impressive. 


Edited by Landscape - 3/16/15 at 1:05pm
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