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2018 50 Book Challenge

California Dreamer

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7. A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing
A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing
by Eimear McBride
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

To begin with A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing reads like Eimear McBride wrote the whole thing as a stream of consciousness, hung it on the wall and then fired full stops at it from a sawn-off shotgun. The whole thing is riddled with randomly-placed periods that defy the reader's attempt to engage in the story. Frequently there are three or more periods in what would scan as a normal sentence, ripping your attention back into the mechanics of reading rather than enjoying the novel. Some people can get past this kind of writing; I couldn't.

If the above is no hurdle for you, the novel tells an affecting tale about a young Irish girl growing up with her seriously ill brother and religious single mother. Serious mis-steps during her teens turn her into a promiscuous rebel and sadly weakens her relationship with her brother and mother. A family crisis occurs that brings the conflict to a head.

Some of the writing is quite musical and the story is interesting enough but, as I said above, McBride has vandalised her own novel by making it as difficult as possible for the reader to engage with her characters and their lives. Too much artifice has killed the art.

View all my reviews
 
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klewless

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Klewless book 6/50: The Purity of Vengance by Jussi Adler-Olsen

51WQcn1RiWL._SL500_SL160_.jpg


This is the 4th book in the "Department Q" series. Detective Carl Morck is in charge of the "cold case" department in Copenhagen Denmark. Along with a mysterious sidekick and their psychologically unstable administrative assistant, they comprise the division in totality. While this sounds like a setup for a screwball comedy, the author's storytelling makes it all work. This is a very dark tale of biding one's time, and waiting a lifetime in order to dole out punishment. Adler-Olsen is a fantastic writer, and I highly recommend the series. These should be read in order, as there are several threads that continue from previous two books.
 
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LonerMatt

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1. All Tomorrow's Parties
2. Undivided: Part 3
3. High Fidelity
4. Hard Boiled Wonderland at the End of the World
5. Polysyllabic Spree
6. Armageddon in Retrospect
7. South of the Border, West of the Sun
8. What we talk about when we talk about love
9. Norweigan Wood
10. The Master and Margherita
11. The Fault in Our Stars

11. The Fault in Our Stars

Recommended and forced onto me by my mother, I found my else enjoying this novel. John Green writes about Hazel, a terminally ill teenager (cancer), who is both intelligent and incredibly deprecating. She meets another cancerous teenager, Augustus, and they basically fall in love and then end up in Amsterdam to meet a famous novelist they both admire. The love aspect of this story was a bit corny, to be honest, but Green writes about cancer, pain, the frustrations of being sick, and a whole world of medical smothering with such irreverence and humour I couldn't help but enjoy it. Additionally, the parental characters were all insanely touching and very moving - they had minor parts in the novel, but managed to convey a sense of intense and genuine parental love (although having not been a parent I'm, like, projecting here).

I want to quote the author's note, as I think it demonstrates the tone of the novel quite well:

"This is not so much an author's note as an author's reminder of what was printed in small type a few pages ago: This book is a work of fiction. I made it up. Neither novels or their readers benefit from attempts to divine whether any facts hide inside a story. Such efforts attack the very idea that made-up stories can matter, which is the sort of foundational assumption of our species. I appreciate your cooperation in this manner."

Look, if anything, this book was a bit too clever, the characters a little too well adjusted for people who are slowly and painfully dying, the personalities a little too unique and complete for teenagers. The minor characters, as well, also seemed a little too polished and squeaky clean. Far from a sin, but definitely something that grated a little.
 

clockwise

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Clockwise counting 07/50: Anthony Trollope - Can You Forgive Her? (1865) 

Trollope is writing about money, politics and marriage considerations in Victorian England. This is the first of six books in the so called Palliser series, a 675 page fusion between Jane Austen and Dickens. 

Alice Vavasor is torn between appearance, ambition and love in her choice between two lovers, her undesirable but ruthlessly ambitious cousin George and the country gentleman John Grey. The reader will find it difficult to forgive her failure to make a decision between her two suitors.

As parallel and interwoven stories, two other women Lady Glencora and Arabelle Greenow, both wealthy relatives of Alice Vavasor, each are faced with difficult life choices related to marriage and the all-important "appearance" in a strict Victorian society. Due to the length of the novels and the linking together of separate stories into multi-thousand paged series, to read Trollope is a heavy undertaking. With sufficient reading time and patience, it is ultimately a satisfying and interesting reading experience. 

I will in due time tackle the second novel of the Palliser series, which is listed among the 1001 mandatory reads.
 

klewless

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Oh great; yet another Scandinavian crime series to get my teeth into. :) Thanks for the heads-up.


Nice to hear from another ScandiaCrime fan. Here are my must read authors from that region:

Sweden:
Karin Alvtegen
Arne Dahl
Ake Edwardson
Mari Jungstedt
Camilla Läckberg
Jens Lapidus
Henning Mankell
Kristina Ohlsson
Leif G W Persson
Roslund-Hellström
Johan Theorin

Norway:
K O Dahl
Karin Fossum
Anne Holt
Jo Nesbø


Denmark:

Sara Blaedel

Finland:
Jarkko Sipila
James Thompson


Iceland (close enough geographically?):
Quentin Bates
Arnaldur Indriðason
Yrsa Sigurðardóttir
 

noob in 89

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Clockwise counting 07/50: Anthony Trollope - Can You Forgive Her? (1865) 


This sounds like quite a feat! Which is the one that most people read, I wonder....

I checked out his wikipedia page, certain I'd at least read one of his shorter ones but found absolutely nothing among his 47(!!!) novels. Phineas Finn sounds like a movie, but imdb just gives me this:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075557/?ref_=fn_al_ch_1a

What did you think: on par with Dickens and Austen?
 
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California Dreamer

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Nice to hear from another ScandiaCrime fan. Here are my must read authors from that region:
Sweden:
Karin Alvtegen
Arne Dahl
Ake Edwardson
Mari Jungstedt
Camilla Läckberg
Jens Lapidus
Henning Mankell
Kristina Ohlsson
Leif G W Persson
Roslund-Hellström
Johan Theorin

Norway:
K O Dahl
Karin Fossum
Anne Holt
Jo Nesbø


Denmark:

Sara Blaedel

Finland:
Jarkko Sipila
James Thompson


Iceland (close enough geographically?):
Quentin Bates
Arnaldur Indriðason
Yrsa Sigurðardóttir


No Martin Beck? I'm also enjoying the Varg Veum series from Norway's Gunnar Staalesen.
 

Steve B.

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16. Where the Long Grass Blows 1976 Louis L'Amour

A range war is engineered by an escaped outlaw and opium smuggler. The villian tries to pin it on the hero but doesn't succeed.

And he gets the girl.
 

jobro

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First book of 2014, Holy Smoke translated from French to English by Tonino Benacquista. Found it by chance in a second hand book store on a remote island in Thailand among used books in all languages.

Mafia. France. Italians. Scandals. Crime. The Vatican.

Really recommend it if your like me and exhausted classic English-written books in these areas.
 
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clockwise

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This sounds like quite a feat! Which is the one that most people read, I wonder....

I checked out his wikipedia page, certain I'd at least read one of his shorter ones but found absolutely nothing among his 47(!!!) novels. Phineas Finn sounds like a movie, but imdb just gives me this:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075557/?ref_=fn_al_ch_1a

What did you think: on par with Dickens and Austen?


He is probably rated a notch below Dickens and Austen on good grounds. I think Trollope fell out of favour with the critics due to over-production and being a bit long-winded. I personally don't mind how he takes his time to tell a story and I was never bored. I now have Phineas Finn incoming from Amazon and noticed that it is even longer at 752 pages. It will not help me in achieving my target number for the year but I can't really give up on Trollope after only one book.

The Palliser TV series you linked to looks interesting. It is available on DVD but I will need to read all the 6 books before I can consider watching it. :satisfied:
 

Geoffrey Firmin

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45 The Rebel Albert Camus

If men cannot refer to common values, which they all separately recognise, then man is incomprehensible to man. The Rebel demands that these values should be clearly recognised as part of himself because he knows or suspects that without them, crime and disorder would reign in the world.An act of act of rebellion seems like a demand for clarity and unity.

Albert Camus

First read this when I was 21 now rereading at 56 find it still has relevance, man is still at war with God and God is still at war with man. Just goes to show that God should never have gotten Woddy Allen to write the script.
 
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LonerMatt

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1. All Tomorrow's Parties
2. Undivided: Part 3
3. High Fidelity
4. Hard Boiled Wonderland at the End of the World
5. Polysyllabic Spree
6. Armageddon in Retrospect
7. South of the Border, West of the Sun
8. What we talk about when we talk about love
9. Norweigan Wood
10. The Master and Margherita
11. The Fault in Our Stars
12. Of Mice and Men

12. Of Mice and Men

I had to re-read this as I'm teaching it this year, and hadn't read it since I was 16/17 (or was it 15?). Anyway, you all know what it is about - I actually find myself not favouring it as much as other of Steinbeck's works: it's no East of Eden or Grapes of Wrath. It's a slow start, but a very powerful middle, with a predictable ending (that's terrible for it). Steinbeck's trademark humanity abounds and his ethics and conscience are clear and powerful.

I wouldn't recommend it over other Steinbeck, but it is short.
 

California Dreamer

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He is probably rated a notch below Dickens and Austen on good grounds. I think Trollope fell out of favour with the critics due to over-production and being a bit long-winded. I personally don't mind how he takes his time to tell a story and I was never bored. I now have Phineas Finn incoming from Amazon and noticed that it is even longer at 752 pages. It will not help me in achieving my target number for the year but I can't really give up on Trollope after only one book.

The Palliser TV series you linked to looks interesting. It is available on DVD but I will need to read all the 6 books before I can consider watching it. :satisfied:


I've read a few of the Barchester series. The Warden is a pretty easy introduction to it, being much less of a doorstop than some of his. If you're not up to reading them, the TV series Barchester Chronicles is a great show, with a top performance from Nigel Hawthorne.
 

clockwise

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I've read a few of the Barchester series. The Warden is a pretty easy introduction to it, being much less of a doorstop than some of his. If you're not up to reading them, the TV series Barchester Chronicles is a great show, with a top performance from Nigel Hawthorne.


I guess with Trollope, it is necessary to read both these series. Palliser and Barchester. I like good English TV but always prefer to read the novels first.

Did you like his novels?
 

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