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2016 50 Book Challenge - Page 187

post #2791 of 3281
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

64. The Wave
The WaveThe Wave by Hoa Pham

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


In The Wave, Hoa Pham gives us another heartfelt story about the immigrant experience. This novella is about two girls, Au Co from North Vietnam and Midori, from Fukushima, Japan. They meet while studying at an Australian university. The girls become close and soon become lovers.

Midori is the guardian of her little brother, having lost their parents in the Fukushima tsunami. Au Co is separated from her family by distance and does not feel any closeness to the local Vietnamese community, made up of southerners who resent her being from the north. The girls make up for their isolation by weaving fantasies about dragons falling in love, which they tell to one another and to the little brother.

This idyllic existence cannot last and the real world soon intervenes, in the form of a traumatic event at the uni and a marriage proposal for one of the girls. As their fantasy lives unravel, Au Co and Midori are faced with some hard choices about their future path in life.

This is an eloquent novel, well-told, but still sparingly written. Hoa Pham manages to be both poetic and direct, and her relatively brief stories manage to convey a lot. Her tales are both matter-of-fact and contain fantasy elements that could seem out of place in the hands of a less capable writer. It's an unusual style, but she brings it off with charm and ease.


View all my reviews
post #2792 of 3281
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
68. About a Boy
69. Dirt Music

 

68. About a Boy

 

Typical Nick Hornby - insightful and direct narrators navigate a loose ensemble of weird and wonderful supporting characters as each narrator navigates growing up. Interesting, sometimes witty, not his best. I think I've read too much of this sort of British writing recently - Iain Banks also wrote in a similar style too.


69. Dirt Music

 

Lu and Georgiana live in White Point, a fishing town in Western Australia that is full of cash but lacking class. Georgiana has moved to the town to live with the town's Golden Boy (man?) Jim Buckeridge, and is a step mother to his two children - at the beginning of the novel her dislike of the complacent lifestyle and haughty attitude of the locals irks her enough that she begins to drift, first mentally, then physically.

 

She observes Lu, another outsider (though for different reasons) setting out early in the morning and stealing from the other fishermen's catches. Intrigued, she decides to keep this observation a secret from the town, and most importantly her man Jim. Later, she an Lu meet randomly and fall in together, briefly. This liasion sets of a chain of events that drastically alter their lives, for the worse.

 

By far the two most interesting elements of this novel were the town itself (it's atmosphere, it's oppression, it's dark side) and Jim (a man trying to change, yet hampered by his past that he won't talk about). These are multi-faceted, and truly difficult to capture in text, and I feel that Winton is one of the few authors would could capture that uniquely Australian settling and character - in many ways similar to how David Lynch captured the eerie and shadowy side of America in Twin Peaks.

 

Yet, he manages to stay away from that material, and instead focus on the journys of Lu and Georgiana which, while kinda interesting, only make sense with the background of the town and its people. I think if I had not lived in a seaside rural community I would have missed much of the suggestions and implications, and even still I'm not sure exactly what Winton was trying to say or depict about the two-faced rural communities of Australia's coast, or the men that are cherished by such places.

 

The writing is smooth and evocative, lyrical and meandering. The sort of prose you can get lost in and find 50 pages has passed, but nothing seems to have happened, yet when you reflect you realise how much has been shown. Winton is, no doubt, a tremendously good writer.

 

Nevertheless, my one complaint about this book is that the ending dragged - it needed to cull about 25-30 pages, but that's a small complaint.

post #2793 of 3281
56 All the Old Knives by Olen Steinhauer The novel takes place over a dinner involving a complex web of intrigue a failed love affair the pit falls of espionarge and terrorist related acts, it uses the process of flash backs to expand and drive the narrative. As a spy novel the approach was original and engaging. However I have to question the value of motivation behind the central characters actions.
post #2794 of 3281
48. Night Over the Solomons Louis L'Amour

Another collection of adventure stories- nary a Western in the bunch. Liked them.
post #2795 of 3281
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
64. The Wave

65. Snowblind
Snowblind (Dark Iceland)Snowblind by Ragnar Jónasson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Snowblind is the first entry in the Dark Iceland series, set in remote Siglufjordur, the northernmost town in Iceland. Young Ari Thor relocates from Reykjavik to Siglufjordur when offered his first job as a police constable there, much to the disgust of his fiancee Kristin.

While Ari Thor is told that nothing ever happens in Siglufjordur, he soon gets involved in a death; a local notable, a famous Icelandic writer, has fallen to his death at the local theatre during a break in rehearsals. Ari Thor's boss Tomas insists that there is nothing suspicious and tells him not to pursue it. Still, Ari Thor's suspicions are aroused when a women is found half-dead in the snow, who turns out to be the partner of one of the cast members at the rehearsal. Is there a connection?

Ari Thor pursues an investigation in the face of disapproval from Tomas and takes a few chances on the way. He also has to confront his personal dilemma; how committed is he to Kristin, who is hundreds of miles away while the town is snowed in by an avalanche?

I guess this book is OK, but the whole "dark goings-on at the Siglufjordur Dramatic Society" feel to it was just way too Midsomer Murderish for my taste, and I had trouble taking it seriously. I also didn't really warm to much to Ari Thor, and felt the book did not deserve to be dubbed "Dark Iceland" when compared to some of the other Scandi noir that I have read.


View all my reviews
post #2796 of 3281
49. Reflections of the Distant Fires- Jose Angel Ramirez

Contemporary, edgy Western tale of Texas in the 1850s. A tragically flawed, hot-headed son of a wealthy Mexican land holder drinks, whores, and mayhems his way through life until his brother is hanged in an act of provocation in Brownsville Texas. He proceeds to burn the town down, and find and kill those responsible. Brownsville appeals to the Army and the Texas Rangers for assistance. They defeat the Mexican avengers, but our hero(?) escapes into Mexico and finally unites with the on-again, off-again flame of his childhood.

I stayed up until 3am to finish it, so I definitely give it a thumbs-up.
post #2797 of 3281
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
64. The Wave
65. Snowblind

66. Unfaithfully Yours
Unfaithfully YoursUnfaithfully Yours by Nigel Williams

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


Unfaithfully Yours is an epistolary novel about the shenanigans of a groups of seven 60-something Putney residents, and a private detective engaged by one of them. The seven used to share holidays together, along with the now deceased wife of one of them.

At the outset, the novel is about the engagement of the detective to spy on the activities of one of the men, whose wife suspects him of an affair. As the revelations of adultery among the group become more widespread, copious and complicated, the focus shifts to the death of the wife: was it the suicide that the police concluded?

Nigel Williams is playing mostly for laughs here, and so has created a set of fairly grotesque characters to help his plot along. Unfortunately, his epistolary structure doesn't help this. What the reader gets is 300 pages of the innermost thoughts of grotesque people that are neither funny nor sympathetic. A lot of the prose is badly overblown. The novel badly needs a point of view that the reader can identify with; the detective is probably the likeliest candidate, but even he comes across as a bit gormless.

The resolution to the mystery of Pamela's death is essentially done Christie-style with all of the suspects addressed by the detective. But in this novel, the detective has to do it by letter and the suspects' reactions have to be delayed by return post. It's incredibly clumsy and unsatisfying. Add to that, a lot of the letters, going by their addressing, could never have been received by the addressee, yet they are still able to respond.

This book is a confusing, unfunny, unsatisfying mess.


View all my reviews
post #2798 of 3281
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
68. About a Boy
69. Dirt Music
70. After Dark
71. Americanah


70. After Dark

 

Murakami at his worst. Whimsical to the point of ennui, characters without any substance, all awkward happenings, no intrigue, potency or originality.

 

71. Americanah

 

An interesting novel that's part coming-of-age, part racial politics and part romance, the novel follows Ifelemu - a Nigerian woman who moves to the US before deciding to return to Nigeria. Her experiences allow the author to delve into racial politics, romance and explore the worlds of Nigeria and the US. Her first boyfriend, Obinze, forms about a quarter of the novel, as (possibly) the best sort of Nigerian - calm, present, aware, intelligent and his parallels provide further cementing to the author's perspectives.

 

There was a lot to this novel, and it is worth a read.

 

Someone reviewed this better than I have earlier in the thread!

post #2799 of 3281
57 The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley Picked it up last night had been on the shelves since August fifty pages in and the writing is clean and engaging for what appears to be a historical fantasy novel with either elements of steam punk or the new weird thrown in.
post #2800 of 3281
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoffrey Firmin View Post

the new weird

OK, what am I missing out on here?
post #2801 of 3281
Quote:
Originally Posted by California Dreamer View Post

OK, what am I missing out on here?

Try China Mieville The City and The City

this goes some way too describe it http://www.sfra.org/sf101newweird
post #2802 of 3281
50. The Rustlers of West Fork Louis L'Amour

Second of the 50s Hopalong Cassidy novels. Hoppy helps an old friend save his ranch from a swindle. But he moves on, eschewing the girl. Thoroughly satisfying stuff.

My work for this year is done.
post #2803 of 3281
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post

50. The Rustlers of West Fork Louis L'Amour

Second of the 50s Hopalong Cassidy novels. Hoppy helps an old friend save his ranch from a swindle. But he moves on, eschewing the girl. Thoroughly satisfying stuff.

My work for this year is done.

Congratulation just in time to put the feet up and pick up a good book. smile.gif Any one ordered anything of interest bibliographically? I still seeking out a couple of books I can while away January at the beach with.
post #2804 of 3281
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoffrey Firmin View Post

Congratulation just in time to put the feet up and pick up a good book. smile.gif Any one ordered anything of interest bibliographically? I still seeking out a couple of books I can while away January at the beach with.

Time and Space, by James Coventry stirpot.gif
post #2805 of 3281
Quote:
Originally Posted by California Dreamer View Post

Time and Space, by James Coventry stirpot.gif

Infidel, worshipper of false idols! tinfoil.gif

Beatlebone by Kevin Barry and Numero Zero by Eco arrived this morning. Not beach books, more late afternoon with a large GnT post beach
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