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2017 50 Book Challenge

Discussion in 'Entertainment, Culture, and Sports' started by edinatlanta, Dec 23, 2010.

  1. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like you have 2016 all planned out - there won't be much time for anything else.

    Good luck with the writing; that can be very challenging at times.
     
  2. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Well-Known Member

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    Summer paperback take to the beach potential reading list

    The Hunter of the Dark by Donato Carrisi involves the same protagonists who populated The Lost Girls of Rome. Good reviews in the Guardian and hard to track down but finally found a copy in Canberra.

    Luna New Moon by Ian McDonald one of the Guardians SF books of the year, the blurb says 'a violent SF epic of Matriarchs, Machiavelli's and Godfathers.

    Into the Labyrinth by Sigge Edlund more Scandi Noir

    Post beach

    Numero Zero by Umberto Eco

    Beatlebone by Kevin Barry

    All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr read some very promising reviews of this a while back and recently found a HB in a remainder store.

    Good luck with the writing Steve B. I am in the process of doing research for a project at present and also lining up a couple of readers who I can farm various chapters out to read. Have to get an alumni library card from ANU in the New Year, good thing is that they had just added all electronic journals which is good. So don't think I'll be participating in the 50 book challenge next year.
     
  3. Steve B.

    Steve B. Well-Known Member

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    54. The Sixth Shotgun Louis L'Amour

    Another novella with a couple of short stories. Even an opium dealer. Tasty stuff.
     
  4. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Well-Known Member

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    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 67. Thomas Quick: The Making of a Serial Killer 68. The Steel Spring 69. Death's Dark Abyss
    70. The Fugitive
    [​IMG]
    The Fugitive
    by Massimo Carlotto
    My rating: 2 of 5 stars

    Massimo Carlotto has a fascinating history, being a convicted murderer who was the victim of one of Italy's greatest miscarriages of justice, imprisoned and living in exile for years before he finally received a Presidential pardon almost 15 years after his wrongful conviction. He has since turned to crime writing, penning a brand of hard-boiled novels reminiscent of great novelists such as Cain and Hammett.

    The Fugitive is Carlotto's account of his years spent in sel-imposed exile from Italy, trying to avoid incarceration. He flees to Paris, a city of exiles, and also to Mexico, where he finally comes unstuck, informed on to the police by his lawyer. He then returns to Italy to face further trials, and the incredible conclusion to his legal saga.

    I found it difficult to believe that a work based on such an amazing story could be bland reading, but The Fugitive is. At times it comes across like a wry and quirky travel book rather than the story of a life on the run from the law. The narrative is observational and clinical rather than exciting, with lots of attention given to the author's weight problems. There is very little to engage the reader's emotions until two-thirds of the way in, where Carlotto recounts the story of a missing Mexican child. Even then, your emotions are engaged by the child's fate, not by any of Carlotto's struggles.

    What I felt was missing from this book was any sense of a pursuit. Carlotto had no nemesis figure, there are few near misses with arrests and so on; most of those were his own paranoia at work, not real scrapes with the authorities. Int the last act, where Carlotto recounts his appeals on return from Italy, you start to get engaged with him, and anger at his plight builds. This points out the other weakness of the book. The chapters about his flight lack the context of what he was fleeing from. The book needs to set the scene of the crime and the original trial first, and then go into the years of exile. Inexpilcably uninteresting and disappointing from a master of hard-boiled crime fiction.
    View all my reviews
     
  5. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Well-Known Member

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    And that makes 70 - my best effort yet.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Well-Known Member

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    I doubt I'll finish 'man in the iron mask' before the first,so73 seems where it is at.

    One day I'll break the 80 book ceiling.
     
  7. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Well-Known Member

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    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 67. Thomas Quick: The Making of a Serial Killer 68. The Steel Spring 69. Death's Dark Abyss 70. The Fugitive
    71. A Spy Among Friends
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    A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal
    by Ben Macintyre
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    The story of the Cambridge spies has always been one that interested me, and so many fine works of film and literature have been inspired by it: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Another Country and An Englishman Abroad to name just a few.

    It would be tempting to think that the story of Kim Philby has been done to death, but Ben Macintyre has found a new and illuminating angle into it: telling Philby's story in the context of his social set, his work colleagues who defended him, and who ultimately brought about his final downfall. Macintyre explains the means by which being part of this social set enabled Philby to do so much damage and to survive so long, compared to lower class spies who were summarily and harshly dealt with when detected. All four of the identified Cambridge spies were able to die as free men and none were prosecuted as the murderers and traitors that they quite clearly were. A very different fate to that of the Rosenbergs, for example.

    Macintyre gives us some indelible profiles of Philby's colleagues, such as Nicholas Elliot and James Jesus Angleton. My favourite was the CIA operative who hung out with Philby in Beirut: a former jazz musician called Miles Copeland. Odd to think that Police drummer Stewart Copeland hung out with Philby's kids in Beirut as a child.

    I found this book very easy to read, but I thought that the afterword, a set of reminiscences about Nicholas Elliot from John Le Carre felt a bit tacked-on and unnecessary. It didn't really tell us anything that hadn't been covered in the book, and just read like a bit of name-checking really. That aside, a really excellent book about a complex and unknowable man.
    View all my reviews
     
  8. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Well-Known Member

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    I am at 59 might have time for one more. On your recommendation CD I've ordered a couple of Carlotto books from the local library. Mrs GF has appropriated The Hunter of the Dark from me. :brick:
     
  9. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Well-Known Member

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    I have just got hold of The Whisperer, so that will probably be my holiday reading.
     
  10. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Well-Known Member

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    60 The Columbian Mule by Massimo Carlotto Hard boiled alcohol fuelled Italian Noir. Easily digestible and interesting characters from the underbelly of criminal society. If the others are like this i'll read more of them.
     
  11. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Well-Known Member

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    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 67. Thomas Quick: The Making of a Serial Killer 68. The Steel Spring 69. Death's Dark Abyss 70. The Fugitive 71. A Spy Among Friends
    72. Pictures or it Didn't Happen
    [​IMG]
    Pictures Or It Didn't Happen
    by Sophie Hannah


    As a long-standing SF member, I couldn't resist a book with this title. With Pictures or it Didn't Happen crime writer Sophie Hannah has written a brisk novella exploring the seeds of doubt inherent in a new relationship.

    Jeweller Chloe Daniels is having a public row with her daughter when a stranger intervenes and offers to help out. His offer of help solves Chloe's problem; she is grateful, but doesn't get the chance to say a proper thank you. She has only heard his name and a company name when he made a phone call.

    Sophie's friend tracks him down but advises her not to get involved; if the guy was interested in her, he would have made it clear. Still, Chloe makes him a present and goes to his workplace to give it to him. While she is there, the receptionist gives her a dire warning: don't trust Tom Rigbey, he is toxic, avoid him like the plague.

    Tom engineers another meeting and starts to come onto Chloe very strongly. What should she do: trust him as her instincts say, or take her friend's advice and run away quickly?

    In the end I though this was a pretty inconsequential story with a facile and moralistic ending. A crime writer ought to have been able to work a darker and more satisfying ending from this premise, and perhaps a bit more twisting to the plot.
    View all my reviews
     
  12. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Well-Known Member

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    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 67. Thomas Quick: The Making of a Serial Killer 68. The Steel Spring 69. Death's Dark Abyss 70. The Fugitive 71. A Spy Among Friends 72. Pictures or it Didn't Happen
    73. Riddledom
    [​IMG]
    Riddledom: 101 riddles and their stories
    by David Astle
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    All Australians into cryptic crosswords eventually try to match wits with the infamous setter DA. David Astle has a fiendish mind and a talent for obfuscation that creates brilliant puzzles that solvers relish.

    In Riddledom, Astle has tackled something different. The book is a treatise on riddles, going into their history, the role they play in different cultures, different categories and types of riddles, etc. There is a lot of interesting tit-bits; for example, the knock-knock riddle may have originated from the porter scene in Macbeth.

    On top of that, Astle encourages page-turning by posing a riddle on every odd page; the reader has to keep reading to get the answer. Some of these are actually pretty funny (Which computer can sing?) but most are groaners. Since many are translations from very different cultural settings, often they don't make sense at all.

    I think David Astle has taken on a big subject here and made a fair fist of it, but I don't think he has created anything exceptional. Riddledom is OK as a book to dip into, but it's not that compelling.
    View all my reviews
     
  13. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Well-Known Member

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    61 The Master of Knots by Massimo Carlotto Highly recommended thanks for tip CD.
     
  14. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Well-Known Member

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    62 True Style The History & Principals Of Classic Mens Wear By G Bruce Boyer "Rational elegance if I may put it that way, by means of a constant dialogue between innovation, tradition and individual taste." Christmas gift from Mrs GF will enjoy reading this over the next few days as I assiduously avoid the Boxing Day test.
     
  15. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Well-Known Member

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    Any Kindle readers? Kindle store right now has one of the best Australian books of 2015, The Eye of the Sheep, on sale for $1.45 ($2.02 in the AU store).
     
  16. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Well-Known Member

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    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 67. Thomas Quick: The Making of a Serial Killer 68. The Steel Spring 69. Death's Dark Abyss 70. The Fugitive 71. A Spy Among Friends 72. Pictures or it Didn't Happen 73. Riddledom
    74. The Human Flies
    [​IMG]
    The Human Flies
    by Hans Olav Lahlum
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    Historian Hans Olav Lahlum branches into crime fiction with The Human Flies. Set in Norway in 1968, and harking back to WW2, this is essentially a locked-door murder mystery. A hero of the Norwegian resistance is found shot dead in his apartment, but there seems to have been no way for a murderer to have got in or out, and other tenants were on the stairs at the time of the shooting.

    Inspector Kolbjorn Kristiansen, known as K2, is called in to investigate. He is baffled but receives some unexpected help when an old family friend introduces him to his wheelchair-bound daughter Patricia, who has some clever ideas about the crime. K2 and Patricia investigate together and soon turn up a sordid tale of murder, adultery, disputed inheritances and other skullduggery. Few if any of the tenants in the building are able to be ruled out of consideration, even as the investigation progresses.

    Lahlum dispenses with the locked-door aspect of his novel pretty quickly, which was a bit disappointing, as I think he could have made more of that. K2 seems pretty useless as an investigator, relying far too much on Patricia's insight. I think this novel would be better if K2 had more to offer. The resolution is OK, but the aftermath is played out a bit too much as Lahlum rather too obviously sets up his characters for a series outing.
    View all my reviews
     
  17. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Well-Known Member

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    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 67. Thomas Quick: The Making of a Serial Killer 68. The Steel Spring 69. Death's Dark Abyss 70. The Fugitive 71. A Spy Among Friends 72. Pictures or it Didn't Happen 73. Riddledom 74. The Human Flies
    75. The Unforgiven
    [​IMG]
    The Unforgiven
    by Alan LeMay
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I don't often read westerns; I think the last one might have been Lonesome Dove. To me they seem formulaic stuff, churned out in vast numbers, like romance novels but with horses.

    The Unforgiven has proven this view to be very wrong.

    The Zachary family live on Dancing Bird Creek in the Texas panhandle, far from their nearest neighbours. They live in a sod house dug into the ground and fortified against the marauding Kiowa, who routinely mount brutal attacks against settlers under the full moon.

    Since the death of their father, the young Zacharys have learnt to be independent. Ben, Cash and Andy, the men in the family, run the cattle and defend the range from outsiders while Rachel and her mother mostly stay in their house and the surrounds. This family nurses some dark secrets; when these are finally exposed, they are isolated and must face a terrible threat alone.

    This book is beautifully written. The landscape, the family, the community, the cattle business and the ever-present threat of strangers and Indians are perfectly captured. The last act of the novel, where the family must fight for their very survival is gripping and exciting stuff. Maybe I should change my mind about Westerns.
    View all my reviews
     
  18. clockwise

    clockwise Well-Known Member

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    My apologies for not being a very active participant this year. I will do better in 2016. I have however surpassed the required 50 books for 2015 with a wide margin and I will post simple capsule reviews of those as fast as I can manage. :D

    Clockwise counting 30/50: Alan Furst - Dark Star (1991)

    Furst writes espionage novels that are heavy on dark moods and historical details. They are neither your standard variety of thrilling page turners, nor the slow moving chess games you get from Le Carre. Dark Star tells the fascinating story of Jewish Soviet Union spy Andre Szara roaming around pre-war Europe in search of intelligence while trying to stay alive. Very very good.

    Clockwise counting 31/50: C.J. Sansom - Heartstone (2010)

    Sansom's historical novels about the hunchbacked lawyer Matthew Shardlake are a lot of fun and not very demanding. In this novel, Shardlake accepts an assignment from Henry VIII's 6th wife, Catherine Parr, to investigate a suspected case of fraud. As is usual in these novels, he gets involved with powerful and dangerous people who don't want him to expose the truth. Good fun.

    Clockwise counting 32/50: Margaret Mazzantini - Don't Move (2001)

    This is a very powerful and disturbing novel about a middle aged successful Italian surgeon who inexplicably falls in love with a poor, ugly and very vulnerable woman. He risks his career, marriage and family to pursue something similar to a religious or at least deeply spiritual experience.

    Clockwise counting 33/50: Margaret Drabble - The Red Queen (2004)

    First time I read Drabble and it is a mixed experience. I love the story about 18th century Korean Crown Princess Hyegyong and her mentally ill and extremely cruel husband Prince Sado. This is a story every Korean knows and it's good to access it in a popularised version for a simple Westerner. I am not as impressed with the parallel story of the modern day narrator.

    Clockwise counting 34/50: Alan Furst - The Polish Officer (1995)

    A Polish officer takes on dangerous assignments as a spy / saboteur to slow down the Nazi war effort in the early days of WW2. With little hope to survive, he engages in romantic encounters and suicidal missions. Another excellent and moody historical spy novel by Furst.
     
  19. clockwise

    clockwise Well-Known Member

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    Clockwise counting 35/50: Charles Cumming - The Trinity Six (2011)

    This is one of those "thriller type" espionage novels, quite different from Alan Furst and much more straightforward. Nevertheless a good read. Russia expert Sam Gaddis gets on the track of a possible sixth member of the infamous Cambridge spy ring. With some romantic flavour added as well, this would make a good movie.

    Clockwise counting 36/50: C.J. Sansom - Lamentation (2014)

    The most recent Matthew Shardlake novel and I have now read and enjoyed all of them. While the king, Henry VIII, is seriously ill, his wife, Catherine Parr, is in another type of danger. She has secretly written a radically protestant book named "Lamentation of a sinner" and the manuscript, in the queen's own handwriting, goes missing. If the book was to be found by the wrong people, the king would have to consider the queen guilty of treason. Shardlake's task is to protect the queen. Nice historical entertainment.

    Clockwise counting 37/50: Thomas Mann - Buddenbrooks (1901)

    Probably the best book I have read in 2015. A fabulous family epic about the decline a wealthy family / trading house in the city of Lubeck. The novel commences in 1835 when the Buddenbrooks are at their height of financial and social standing and it ends in 1877 after four decades of steady decline. We basically follow one generation of the family from childhood to late middle age through marriages, births, divorces and deaths. The main protagonists are remarkably alive with distinct voices and characteristics and we get a fascinating insight into the upper middle class society of 19th century Germans. A masterpiece of psychological realism. A long read but well worth the time and effort.

    Clockwise counting 38/50: Stieg Larsson - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2005)

    I seem to be one of the last persons in the Western world to read this bestselling crime novel. Full of passion and sinister family secrets and with an enigmatic and unorthodox genius female protagonist, it's definitely intelligent entertainment for the modern age. Very good but maybe somewhat overrated? I will of course in due time also read the other novels in this series.

    Clockwise counting 39/50: Charles Cumming - A Colder War (2014)

    Another exciting and entertaining spy novel from Cumming, the latest in his series. This story, as so often is the case with this genre, is about flushing out a mole, double crossing and beautiful women who may be enemies. I liked it.
     

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