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2016 50 Book Challenge - Page 186

post #2776 of 3283
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
15. The Torch
16. Being Mortal
17. Hicksville
18. Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen
19. The Buried Giant
20. Another Time, Another Life
21. The Corpse Reader
22. Portrait of a Man
23. All the Birds, Singing
24. Out Stealing Horses
25. Last Winter We Parted
26. The Rabbit Back Literature Society
27. Rituals
28. Bitter Remedy
29. The Ring and The Opposite of Death
30. Old Gold
31. Hausfrau
32. Irene
33. I Refuse
34. Nothing is True and Everything is Possible
35. The Dalai Lama’s Cat
36. Blood Year: Terror and the Islamic State
37. The Eye of the Sheep
38. The Miniaturist
39. Crime
40. Golden Boys
41. The Holiday Murders
42. My Brilliant Friend
43.The Girl Who Wasn't There
44. The Thief
45. Someone Else's Conflict
46. Dark Road
47. The Paying Guests
48. Titus Awakes
49. The Writing on the Wall
50. The Straight Dope
51. Us
52. GOMORRAH
53. Lila
54. The Wake
55. Last Rituals
56. The Fishermen
57. Malice
58. Wind/Pinball
59. The Ladies of Grace Adieu


60. The Blazing World
The Blazing WorldThe Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


As I started this book I was gearing myself up to hate it; it really did not seem to appeal initially, a novel set in the New York art world about a feminist contemporary artist. I have to acknowledge, though, that Siri Hustvedt's story got me in.

The book is about Harriet Burden a middle-aged woman sick of being sidelinedand ignored by a patriarchal art world. Her art has been subsumed by the famous gallery owner that she married, and she is unversally viewed as just his wealthy widow, not an artist in her own right. To make a point, Harriet comes up with the idea of hiding her work behind male artists who act as her front, thereby demonstrating that men have it easier.

Hustvedt makes Harriet a larger than life person, both imposingly tall and also womanly. Her friends call her Harry, and Hustvedt suggests at times that Harriet's ruse is bringing out the male aspects of her personality and creating conflicts for her.

Initially Harriet hides behind a newcomer to the art world who is hailed as a prodigy and then disappears when he can't follow up his success. Her second "mask" is a performance artist who presents her work as a change of direction. Finally Harriet engages an established artist, Rune, and gets him to agree to represent her work as his. At this point her project comes undone spectacularly, with tragic results.

The pieces are all successes, but one thing that is never clear is whether Harriet might not have got the credit had she just presented the work as her own. She is convinced not, but how can she really know? Are the masks she is using to fool the art world damaging her more than others?

Hustvedt develops her story as an assembly as a series of notebooks, interviews, articles and memoirs from the various characters. Once the reader gets used to this it works quite well. However it comes unstuck at the end, leading to a tedious and down-beat ending recounted by one of the most minor characters in the novel. After getting to the novel's high point, the last 15 pages were just excruciatingly vapid and boring and I couldn't wait for it to be over. This story deserved a more dramatic and engaging ending than this.


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post #2777 of 3283
53 The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer An interesting take on the spy genre set amongst the opening chaos of the Libyan uprising.
post #2778 of 3283
54 The Dismissal Dossier Everything You Were Never Meant To Know About November 1975 by Jenny Hocking. After reading this I am gobsmacked totally, glad I don't have high blood pressure as this would have blown it through the roof. cloud.gifcensored.gifbaldy[1].gifcensored.gif the house of Windsor and as for Prince Charles censored.gif
post #2779 of 3283
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
15. The Torch
16. Being Mortal
17. Hicksville
18. Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen
19. The Buried Giant
20. Another Time, Another Life
21. The Corpse Reader
22. Portrait of a Man
23. All the Birds, Singing
24. Out Stealing Horses
25. Last Winter We Parted
26. The Rabbit Back Literature Society
27. Rituals
28. Bitter Remedy
29. The Ring and The Opposite of Death
30. Old Gold
31. Hausfrau
32. Irene
33. I Refuse
34. Nothing is True and Everything is Possible
35. The Dalai Lama’s Cat
36. Blood Year: Terror and the Islamic State
37. The Eye of the Sheep
38. The Miniaturist
39. Crime
40. Golden Boys
41. The Holiday Murders
42. My Brilliant Friend
43.The Girl Who Wasn't There
44. The Thief
45. Someone Else's Conflict
46. Dark Road
47. The Paying Guests
48. Titus Awakes
49. The Writing on the Wall
50. The Straight Dope
51. Us
52. GOMORRAH
53. Lila
54. The Wake
55. Last Rituals
56. The Fishermen
57. Malice
58. Wind/Pinball
59. The Ladies of Grace Adieu
60. The Blazing World


61. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Alice's Adventures in WonderlandAlice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll




There is no way I was going to let the sesquicentenary of the publication of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland pass without revisiting this longstanding favourite. I devoured this book as a child (almost literally, as I had a paper-nibbling habit when I was little) and have re-read it many times as an adult. My favourite edition would have to be Martin Gardner's Annotated Alice, as Gardner did such a great job of giving us insight into Carroll's text.

For this outing I was lucky enough to get hold of a version of a rarity: the Swedish version illustrated by Tove Jansson, another childhood favourite of mine, reprinted recently with the English text.

There is no point reviewing the novel, as everybody surely knows it, so I will just comment on the illustrations, which were my main reason for selecting this edition. Jansson's Alice looks like a more modern girl than John Tenniel's prim and proper Victorian in her starched petticoats. The style seems to me more dream-like than the Tenniel drawings, which seem quite naturalistic to me, and possible better suited to the narrative. Where Jansson really has fun is in crowd scenes such as the caucus-race and the trial, where she works in a whole range of little creatures that she endows with great expression. I liked this set of illustrations a lot, although I doubt that anything can displace Tenniel's work as people's mental images of this book.


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post #2780 of 3283
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoffrey Firmin View Post

54 The Dismissal Dossier Everything You Were Never Meant To Know About November 1975 by Jenny Hocking. After reading this I am gobsmacked totally, glad I don't have high blood pressure as this would have blown it through the roof. cloud.gifcensored.gifbaldy[1].gifcensored.gif the house of Windsor and as for Prince Charles censored.gif

"Maintain your rage".
post #2781 of 3283
Quote:
Originally Posted by California Dreamer View Post

"Maintain your rage".

It appears it wasn't the CIA in connection with Pine Gap but the censored.gif House of Windsor.
post #2782 of 3283
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoffrey Firmin View Post

It appears it wasn't the CIA in connection with Pine Gap but the censored.gif House of Windsor.

Well, Chilla is in da hood. Make your opinions known.
post #2783 of 3283
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
15. The Torch
16. Being Mortal
17. Hicksville
18. Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen
19. The Buried Giant
20. Another Time, Another Life
21. The Corpse Reader
22. Portrait of a Man
23. All the Birds, Singing
24. Out Stealing Horses
25. Last Winter We Parted
26. The Rabbit Back Literature Society
27. Rituals
28. Bitter Remedy
29. The Ring and The Opposite of Death
30. Old Gold
31. Hausfrau
32. Irene
33. I Refuse
34. Nothing is True and Everything is Possible
35. The Dalai Lama’s Cat
36. Blood Year: Terror and the Islamic State
37. The Eye of the Sheep
38. The Miniaturist
39. Crime
40. Golden Boys
41. The Holiday Murders
42. My Brilliant Friend
43.The Girl Who Wasn't There
44. The Thief
45. Someone Else's Conflict
46. Dark Road
47. The Paying Guests
48. Titus Awakes
49. The Writing on the Wall
50. The Straight Dope
51. Us
52. GOMORRAH
53. Lila
54. The Wake
55. Last Rituals
56. The Fishermen
57. Malice
58. Wind/Pinball
59. The Ladies of Grace Adieu
60. The Blazing World
61. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland


62. The Other Shore
The Other ShoreThe Other Shore by Hoa Pham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Hoa Pham is one of a burgeoning group of young Asian writers in Australia, some of whom are producing some excellent books. The Other Shore is set in postwar Ha Noi and is about Kim Nguyen, a reserved 17 year old schoolgirl. Kim has an accident and almost drowns. On recovery, she realises that she has become a psychic; Kim can now read people's minds by touching them. As she learns this, she is not sure if it's a blessing or a curse.

Her father is sure and tries to use her to raise money for her sister's wedding. Eventually the military learn of Kim's abilities and dragoon her into working for a military psychic unit. Kim's job is to handle human remains and divine where they are from, so that families who lost their loved ones in the war can be reunited. Kim is a bit reluctant, but reasons that this is a worthy use of the talent that the Goddess Quan Am has given her.

In her dreams, Kim sees the spirits of her grandmother and of the dead that she encounters in her work on the Other Shore. They entreat her to use her skill to reunite the hated South Vietnamese victims as well as Northerners, something the military strongly disapproves of. They also warn her about her boss Bac Phuc. After seeking guidance, Kim decides to defy the military and help the spirits of South Vietnamese and American dead as well. She is discovered, and her world comes crashing down.

This is an unusual take on a war novel, being about the effect of war on the next generation, among the winners, the losers and those who fled. Hoa Pham imbues Kim's psychic activities with the utmost credibility; nobody in Vietnam questions that such a thing would occur and when Kim does encounter sceptics, the reader immediately concludes that they are wrong to doubt her. That's quite a feat for a reader as left-brained and sceptical as I am, and is a testament to the author's story-telling. This brief novel intelligently tackles the difficulties of post-war reconciliation, and how there is no gift that comes without a price. I have already bought another Hoa Pham book, and will probably keep on doing so.


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post #2784 of 3283
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
22. Riders of the Purple Sage
23. The Sheltering Sky
24. How to Travel the World for Free
25. Deliverance
26. Trigger Warning
27. It's Complicated
28. Fight Club
29. Past the Shallows
30. Wonderboys
31. It's what I do
32. A Long Way Down
33. Men Who Stare at Goats
34. Boxer Beetle
35. This is How You Lose Her
36. No Sugar
37. The Invisible Writing
38. Schismatrix
39. The Water Knife
40. Essays
41. Wolfblade
42. Trash
43. The Honours
44. Cloudstreet
45. Cibola Burn
46. Prince of Fools
47. Nemesis Games
48. Golden Boys
49. Gommorah
50. The Ring
51. Wolves
52. Wind/Pinball
53. Distrust that Particular Flavour
54. Blankets
55. Go Set a Watchman
56. Best Australian Stories 2012
57. Half a War
58. Confederacy of Dunces
59. Half a King
60. War
61. Angelmaker
62. Half a King
63. Eye of the Sheep
64. Ghost River
65. The Silent History
66. Slam

 

65. The Silent History

 

Really engaging. Poses a future where children are being born without the ability to comprehend language, nicely written. Cool stuff.

 

66. Slam

 

Teen pregnancy. Nick Hornby is witty and insightful as an author! Good read.

 

Sorry my reviews suck, been in a whirlwind!

post #2785 of 3283
47. Beyond The Great Snow Mountains Louis L'Amour

Posthumously published collection of short adventure stories. Really enjoyed them.
post #2786 of 3283
55 OBLIVION by Arnaldur Indridason
post #2787 of 3283
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoffrey Firmin View Post

55 OBLIVION by Arnaldur Indridason

A new one! That's gone straight onto my wish list.
post #2788 of 3283
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
22. Riders of the Purple Sage
23. The Sheltering Sky
24. How to Travel the World for Free
25. Deliverance
26. Trigger Warning
27. It's Complicated
28. Fight Club
29. Past the Shallows
30. Wonderboys
31. It's what I do
32. A Long Way Down
33. Men Who Stare at Goats
34. Boxer Beetle
35. This is How You Lose Her
36. No Sugar
37. The Invisible Writing
38. Schismatrix
39. The Water Knife
40. Essays
41. Wolfblade
42. Trash
43. The Honours
44. Cloudstreet
45. Cibola Burn
46. Prince of Fools
47. Nemesis Games
48. Golden Boys
49. Gommorah
50. The Ring
51. Wolves
52. Wind/Pinball
53. Distrust that Particular Flavour
54. Blankets
55. Go Set a Watchman
56. Best Australian Stories 2012
57. Half a War
58. Confederacy of Dunces
59. Half a King
60. War
61. Angelmaker
62. Half a King
63. Eye of the Sheep
64. Ghost River
65. The Silent History
66. Slam
67. The Quarry

 

67. The Quarry

 

My first Iain Banks novel - this is a bit of an odd one. The narrator is an 18-year-old with Asperger's whose Dad is very near death (cancer). One weekend all of his father's old university friends visit, and the novel largely deals with the dynamics between each character.

 

The novel touches on a few dynmaics, but doesn't really explore them. And so it feels shallow. However, Banks does an interesting job with Kit (the narrator), and does manage to actually provide an interesting take on this trope (well, what feels like a trope to me).

 

I found the pace of the novel fine, the narration engaging, but the novel is 'nice' without being much more. The monologues didn't hit hard enough, and the characters didn't really reveal anything about the stereotypes behind them (well, a little is revealed, but that's about it).

post #2789 of 3283
I just popped over to Goodreads to see if I should vote for anything in their Best of 2015 Readers' Choice awards. Do you know, I haven't read a single one of the short-listed books in any one of the categories?
post #2790 of 3283
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
15. The Torch
16. Being Mortal
17. Hicksville
18. Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen
19. The Buried Giant
20. Another Time, Another Life
21. The Corpse Reader
22. Portrait of a Man
23. All the Birds, Singing
24. Out Stealing Horses
25. Last Winter We Parted
26. The Rabbit Back Literature Society
27. Rituals
28. Bitter Remedy
29. The Ring and The Opposite of Death
30. Old Gold
31. Hausfrau
32. Irene
33. I Refuse
34. Nothing is True and Everything is Possible
35. The Dalai Lama’s Cat
36. Blood Year: Terror and the Islamic State
37. The Eye of the Sheep
38. The Miniaturist
39. Crime
40. Golden Boys
41. The Holiday Murders
42. My Brilliant Friend
43.The Girl Who Wasn't There
44. The Thief
45. Someone Else's Conflict
46. Dark Road
47. The Paying Guests
48. Titus Awakes
49. The Writing on the Wall
50. The Straight Dope
51. Us
52. GOMORRAH
53. Lila
54. The Wake
55. Last Rituals
56. The Fishermen
57. Malice
58. Wind/Pinball
59. The Ladies of Grace Adieu
60. The Blazing World
61. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
62. The Other Shore


63. The Chimes
The ChimesThe Chimes by Anna Smaill

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The Chimes is a dystopian novel set in a future London. Literacy has been lost and people are losing the ability to remember. What memories they are able to retain are in the form of objectmemory, where an item they carry around allows them to practice recalling a single memory and bodymemory, the very limited ability to recall feelings of the past.

In the absence of literacy, music has assumed major importance in society. People use songs to describe things and give directions. Society is controlled by the Order using Chimes that are rung out to the monastic order of Matins, Prime, Nones etc.

Simon is a young man who has left his farm in Essex and arrived in London. He falls in with a pack of riverside scavengers led by Lucien, who use their musical abilities to hunt for the Pale Lady (palladium) and sell it to The Order, who use it to make the bells that control society. It starts to become clear that Simon, unlike almost anybody else, can remember things.

As I read this book, I had the feeling that I was reading something rather remarkable, both in terms of originality and execution. The use of music in the book as part of the plot and also in the idiom used ("she spoke lento", "we had to move presto") is clever. I thought at times that somebody with better knowledge of music would have got more out of this than I did, and I also think that a thorough knowledge of London would help envisage the dystopian landscape that Smaill describes. Unfortunately, I felt that the latter part of the book lost its edge as Smaill moves to her climax and an ending that seemed both highly unlikely and somewhat unsatisfactory.


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