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2017 50 Book Challenge

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

  1. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

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    45 The Scarred Woman A Department Q Thriller by Jussi Adler Olsen
    This is the seventh book in the Department Q series but the fifth book I have read. Damn you public library system.

    Department Q become involved in a case that revolves around a fractured family with a dark Nazi past, a coworker who psychosis gets the better of her throw in three tarts and a demented nobody who works for social security and you have a novel which steps away from the previous books of the series by fixing the narrative firmly in the present while linked to family and social antecedents.

    It did drag on at times but the over arching narrative sustained the action both across time and circumstance. However I did have one point where I disagreed with the author in terms of the fate of one character. Otherwise I’d recommend the series for lovers of Scandi Noir.



    46 The Other Side of Silence by Phillip Kerr

    Bernie Gunther is back if you want the epitome of a post Chandler 50’s Noir detective who could resist Bernie. Sangfroid mixed with a healthy does of post Berlin Nazi horror and cool composure this series is worth the read. Bernie is still, after the last book, playing bridge on the French Rivera. When the vile presence of a former SS foe enters and attempts to blackmail Somerset Maugham and MI5 via incriminating photographs and bit more of Guy Burgess. Never mind there is both squeeze for Bernie and a murderous femme fatale.

    The narrative moves at pace and what is not to like with dialogue along the lines of “its just too awful to be blackmailed by a chap who goes to the same shoemaker as oneself.”

    What’s not to like?

    Solid historical fiction with all the right ingredients to provide an entertaining quality read.
     


  2. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    So Lincoln in the Bardo wins the Booker. Fair enough, although I think the hype around his construction probably had more to do with it than the novel's inherent worth.
     


  3. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

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    From the perspective of narrative exposition I thought structurally it was a very clever and entertaining work of fiction. I throughly enjoyed it.

    However I can see how some people may have found it disconcerting.

    And having gotten to it early after it's release I just sat back and watched the hype and publicity machine go to work.

    Also it helps when the story strikes a cord within people. And there haven't been many good books over the last few years that dealt with issues around spirituality in the manner it did.

    There was a very good interview replayed with him this morning on RN Books&Arts.
     


  4. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    RN still exists? I guess Guthrie hasn't got around to that yet.
     


  5. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    59. Extinctions, by Josephine Wilson

    Extinctions won the Miles Franklin Award in a strong field, so my expectations of this novel were high. It didn't disappoint, but I thought it was still a bit lacking.

    The novel concerns widower Frederick who has just moved into a retirement village. He has brought with him the detritus of a lifetime's collecting esoteric modern design but has, in the process, failed to maintain his relationships with his family and has turned into something of a curmudgeon.

    As Wilson reveals more of Frederick's history, his story just gets sadder and sadder, but she doesn't really let us empathise with him much. He is as cold, clinical and useless as the Danish chair that he prizes, and never fails to do the wrong thing. His family and friendships are as dysfunctional as can be imagined, but Wilson seems to sheet most of the blame home to him. Deeper currents in this story are hinted at, but Wilson does not explore them much and the ending is pretty inconclusive.
     


  6. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

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    Give her time and the ABC will be reduced to podcasts and pay per view just to make Rupert happy.
     


  7. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    The thing I find most notable is that her previous job was selling online advertising space to corporates for Google. There's only one reason the ABC Board would think such a person should be their CEO.
     


  8. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

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    Malcolm Trumbull?
     


  9. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    ABC to start advertising on iView, like SBS, and ultimately everywhere.
     


  10. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

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    @California Dreamer Ruoert is not happy.
    I don't known where or how the LNP Mandarins think where the advertising dollar is going to come from. The market is stretched as it is.
     


  11. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    If the ABC can create a revenue stream via advertising, that makes it a more attractive privatisation prospect. That's the Coalition's end game.
     


  12. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

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    The underlying logic is that my enemy is talking to my friends. And we can't have that now can we.

    The Libs have always thought that the ABC belongs to them.
     


  13. Foxhound

    Foxhound Senior member

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    1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky (3/5)
    A good book, the film is also quite good, if not better. A little cringe worthy at parts, and my high school self can identify with some of the characters.

    Charlie has the worst luck, when he's finally about to do the deed with the girl he loves, and that's when he decides to have a flashback to being abused.

    2. Magyk - Angie Sage (3/5)
    Slightly on a more elementary level of reading, nice and easy, and enjoyable nonetheless. A great world is devised which will hopefully built upon in future books. Felt that the final confrontation was over a little too quickly, and the ending inconclusive with several questions still lingering, whilst not feeling like a deliberate spoiler.

    3. From Russia with Love - Ian Flemming (4/5)
    My first Fleming (and Bond) novel. Thoroughly enjoyed it, the details the Fleming goes into to describe Bond without being overbearing and dull are perfect. Will definitely read more 007 books.

    4. Murder on the Orient Express - Agatha Christie (3/5)

    An easy and enjoyable read. Perfect length too. It was my first introduction to detective literature and I really enjoyed it, however I found the story a little predictable at times, so will look for something more
    advanced.

    5. The Great Railway Bazaar - Paul Theroux (2/5)
    I read this in a day whilst I myself was on the Trans-Siberian railway somewhere between the Ural Mountains and Irkutsk. I found Theroux's low opinions of the majority of his fellow travellers disappointing, although I did draw several parallels with what he was saying. I'm not sure why, but the book never really grabbed me, even though travelling is something I do often and love. The most interesting part of the book was his two and a half page conversation with Bernard, who seemed to be the most interesting person in the entire book. He did somewhat inspire me to start writing down my own thoughts and perhaps write a travel book of my own. Whilst I was disappointed by the book, I will still read his other book on the same journey done in the 21st century.

    6. 13 Reasons Why - Jay Asher (2/5)
    I enjoyed the Netflix show a lot more than this book, and it is strongly possible that that is because I watched that first. Going back, this book feels somewhat like a proposal to the TV show. The characters, events and the additional major plot details (such as the law suit and the students reacting to the tapes) in the show really added to the suspense and drama. The ending in the show was much more polished and added an extra layer. I think a major part of my lack of enjoyment was that there was not any suspense in the novel for me, so my review may be a little one sided.

    7. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World - Jack Weatherford (3/5)
    This book provided a good insight into the life of Genghis Khan and the history of the Mongol Empire. I read it whilst traveling through the Mongolian steppe, and it added to the story. I felt as though the book repeated itself a few times, especially when it came to the battles. It came across as a little one sided, with the victories of Genghis and his descendant touched upon heavily, but the failures often were just mere paragraphs.

    8. The Cathedral and the Bazaar - Eric S. Raymond (3/5)
    A very interesting read, and one that I believe should be read by any computer scientist. The first few chapters are very exciting and a great history lesson. The book lulls towards the end however, especially when talking about the economics of the open source model, but this is still important. It's especially interesting to compare the companies mentioned at the time of writing to how they are performing today.

    9. The Five People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom (4/5)
    Amazing book. I felt as thought it started off a little slow, and the ending could have been slightly longer. The second and third people he met were definitely the most powerful. The more I think about it, I didn't feel as though the fifth added much. The sentence about the purpose of his life was important, but could have been delivered by almost anyone.

    10. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (3/5)
    An enjoyable read, But at times relatively boring. I felt as though it focused too much on Boo Radley for the level of involvement he had on the story. I felt the class difference much more powerful than that of the racial tensions. The book seems to dwell far too much on the upbringing of Scout and Jem, with the trial seemingly in the background, and didn't hold the importance that I would have expected. Whilst there is no doubt that it's a good novel, I can't help but think that it wouldn't be held in the same high esteem if it wasn't released in an era outside of the civil rights movement.

    11. Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut Jr (3/5)
    An extremely quirky book. It didn't fully grab me but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I found Vonnegut's style, particularly the short paragraphs very peculiar. I enjoyed his descriptions of Dresden, and my favorite scene by far was the the hospital one towards the end, and felt that it, along with several others could have been fleshed out a lot more. I found myself at times 'lost' in the words, having to back track to figure out what was going on, a process I don't overly enjoy. I think the book requires a second, if not more, to fully understand it. Somehow, I missed the end of Billy's life entirely, and only picked it up from Wikipedia. I also found the reference to the work of David Irving highly interesting.
    12. Love in the Time of Cholora - Gabriel García Márquez (3/5)
    The first fifth of this book is quite strange, and it takes a long time to really understand which of the characters are central to the story, and how they are positioned in the world by Márquez.

    The major theme that the book explores is the huge role that love plays in our lives, and in my opinion, how it can inspire us to great heights, as shown by Florentino's success. I however felt that the most influential and powerful theme in this book was death, and the fear of ageing, which each character went through and interpreted in their own way. This was presented beautiful.

    I think one of the biggest components of this book which propelled it to such huge success is that Márquez was able to paint an amazingly vivid and real world, where I felt completely immersed and could picture many things. He did this without mentioning the name of the country or the city, or any specific years.

    I found the book easier to read than expected, however, it did not help that two of the characters have extremely similar names and are often mentioned within words of each other.

    13. Great Thinkers - The School of Life (3/5)
    The best physical representation of this book is to picture a room with many doors, one signifying each topic. Inside each of these doors is a smaller room with a collection of windows, one for each 'thinker'. This book offers itself as a gateway, or a map to many great thinkers, as the book is titled. It doesn't offer any tools per say, but is a starting point for exploring many different facets of literature, art, philosophy and so forth. It has helped me to discover some new literature and many new artists.

    The second half of this book is what was it's main downfall. The first half felt a lot more engaging and that it had a lot more effort and time poured into it, with the second feeling a little rushed, a tad boring, and overall, a chore to read.
     


  14. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

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    1. Roadside Picnic
    2. Fifth Head of Cerebus
    3. You are not a Gadget
    4. Is the future going to be a better place?
    5. The Three Body Problem
    6. A Cold and Common Orbit
    7. A Gathering of Shadows
    8. Laurinda
    9. Short Stories inspired by Laurinda
    10. The Pier Falls
    11. A Darker Shade of Magic
    12. A Blade of Black Steel
    13. Naveed
    14. Terra Nullius
    15. True Girt
    16. A Conjuring of Light
    17. The Grace of Kings
    18. Porno
    19. The North Water
    20. Jasper Jones
    21. That Thing Around Your Neck
    22. Divergent
    23. Wall of Storms
    24. Insurgent
    25. The Messenger
    26. When the Night Comes
    27. Glow
    28. Shot in the Heart
    29. Common People
    30. Walk Away
    31. Name of the Wind
    32. Wise Man's Fear
    33. Infomocracy
    34. Borne
    35. Art Can Help
    36. The Museum of Modern Love
    37. The Fifth Season
    38. Underground Airlines
    39. The Emperor's Blades
    40. Everywhere I look

    40. Everywhere I look

    This book is way better than it has any right to be. The bland blurb, incredibly mundane cover and completely illogical red thread that runs through it (stuff Helen Gardner has thought about or seen) does not do her writing justice. I've ready Monkey's Grip and this is just a whole career spent on writing more well written.

    Some parts are short stories, others are literally single paragraphs of anecdote or memory. Her description of children is beautiful, her wit and sense of humour are vibrant, her reviews can be a bit tedious but are often very revealing and self-aware.

    I dragged my feet to start this book and then didn't want to put it down.

    I'm sure people who have followed her career might find issue with it, or perhaps people of similar age might dislike certain throwbacks, memories, admissions or perspectives, but for me it was fearlessly sentimental, mundane and local. Exactly what I love in short stories.

    CLOSING IN ON THE 50 FOR THIS YEAR BOYS!
     


  15. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    Matt, have you read Joe Cinque's Consolation? The film of it is streaming on SBS online. It's not the greatest film, but the story is definitely a very weird one, and it all happened in your neck of the woods.
     


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