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2019 50 Book Challenge

Discussion in 'Entertainment, Culture, and Sports' started by California Dreamer, Jan 2, 2019.

  1. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Distinguished Member

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    1. Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally, by Bob Zmuda and Lynne Margulies
    2. Illustrado, by Miguel Syjuco
    3. Kill 'Em All, by John Niven
    [
    4. The Black Monday Murders, volume 1: All Hail God Mammon, by Jonathon Hickman
    5. Bad News, by Edward St. Aubyn
    6. Education, by Tara Westover

    7. Europe: A Natural History, by Tim Flannery
    8. No Tomorrow, by Luke Jennings
    9. Scrublands, by Chris Hammer
    10. The Kingdom, by Fuminori Nakamura
    11. The White Darkness, by David Grann
    12. Sacred Cesium Ground and Isa's Deluge, by Yusuke Kimura
    13. The Black Monday Murders, Volume 2: The Scales, by Jonathon Hickman
    14. Dark Echoes of the Past, by Roman Diaz Eterovic
    15. Acute Misfortune, by Erik Jensen

    16. The Low Road, by Chris Womersley

    This is a bleak novel about ex-con Lee, who has stolen a bag full of money and been shot in the process. He lands at a seedy hotel where disgraced doctor Wild is also staying, whom the motel owner browbeats into looking after Lee.

    Wild and Lee leave and go on the run, each from his own demons. They find themselves in a downward spiral of increased desperation. Meanwhile, the implacable Josef is told to hunt Lee down and retrieve the money.

    Womersley writes really well but the pace of this novel drags for most of it. It picks up a bit in the final act, which redeems it somewhat, but overall I found this a very dark story, maybe in the vein of Cormac McCarthy.
     

  2. Fueco

    Fueco Stylish Dinosaur

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    15. Shadow Tyrants by Clive Cussler

    13th book in the Oregon Files series. A small company of privateers saves the world yet again.
     

  3. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Distinguished Member

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    1. Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally, by Bob Zmuda and Lynne Margulies
    2. Illustrado, by Miguel Syjuco
    3. Kill 'Em All, by John Niven
    [
    4. The Black Monday Murders, volume 1: All Hail God Mammon, by Jonathon Hickman
    5. Bad News, by Edward St. Aubyn
    6. Education, by Tara Westover

    7. Europe: A Natural History, by Tim Flannery
    8. No Tomorrow, by Luke Jennings
    9. Scrublands, by Chris Hammer
    10. The Kingdom, by Fuminori Nakamura
    11. The White Darkness, by David Grann
    12. Sacred Cesium Ground and Isa's Deluge, by Yusuke Kimura
    13. The Black Monday Murders, Volume 2: The Scales, by Jonathon Hickman
    14. Dark Echoes of the Past, by Roman Diaz Eterovic
    15. Acute Misfortune, by Erik Jensen
    16. The Low Road, by Chris Womersley

    17. Steve Smith's Men: Behind Australian Cricket's Fall, by Geoff Lemon

    The ball-tampering scandal that engulfed Australia's cricket team in 2018 was our version of the Chicago Black Sox scandal. Captain Steve Smith, statistically the second-best batsman in history at the time, is the modern Shoeless Joe Jackson, a potential great who threw his reputation away.

    Sports writer Geoff Lemon's account of the scandal covers what is publicly known, but also does a good job of filling in the background that led Smith and his vice-captain Dave Warner up to a point where they agreed to cheat during a break in a Test match. His views on the coverage of the incident and the aftermath also make interesting reading.

    Lemon resists the urge to demonise the players and gives some well-thought-out assessments of the key players in the drama. He does a particularly good job of humanising the volcanic attack dog that is Warner, explaining the family situation that caused him to flip out in a stairwell fight, a major contributing factor to the drama. That's not to say that he lets Warner off the hook; far from it, but he does avoid the trap of painting him solely as a villain. He is less successful in trying to round out the character of the enigmatic Smith, whose public statements were mostly just as considered and practised as his endless batting stints. That's possibly because there is not much more to the man than his cricket, and also maybe because there has been far less adverse reporting of his past behaviour than there is of Warner, and so less grist for Lemon's mill.

    Lemon is brutal on both the culture of the Australian cricket team and the maladministration that has plagued Cricket Australia. This is a saga that is yet to play out. When Smith and Warner return there will be an opportunity to measure the long-term impact on them and the team. As Lemon says, we probably won't know the real story until the players retire and write their inside accounts. Until then, this is an excellent account of a major Australian sporting drama.
     

  4. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Distinguished Member

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    1. Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally, by Bob Zmuda and Lynne Margulies
    2. Illustrado, by Miguel Syjuco
    3. Kill 'Em All, by John Niven
    [
    4. The Black Monday Murders, volume 1: All Hail God Mammon, by Jonathon Hickman
    5. Bad News, by Edward St. Aubyn
    6. Education, by Tara Westover

    7. Europe: A Natural History, by Tim Flannery
    8. No Tomorrow, by Luke Jennings
    9. Scrublands, by Chris Hammer
    10. The Kingdom, by Fuminori Nakamura
    11. The White Darkness, by David Grann
    12. Sacred Cesium Ground and Isa's Deluge, by Yusuke Kimura
    13. The Black Monday Murders, Volume 2: The Scales, by Jonathon Hickman
    14. Dark Echoes of the Past, by Roman Diaz Eterovic
    15. Acute Misfortune, by Erik Jensen
    16. The Low Road, by Chris Womersley
    17. Steve Smith's Men: Behind Australian Cricket's Fall, by Geoff Lemon

    18. River of Salt, by Dave Warner

    * I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to review this book. *

    Blake Saunders is a hitman for a Philadelphia crime mob. When his brother crosses one of the local bosses, Blake is forced to flee. He eventually ends up in Australia, where he runs a surf bar in a quiet seaside town and tries to bury his past. When a young girl is murdered nearby there is evidence that connects her to Blake's bar and he starts to receive unwelcome attention. When the city cops arrest a mate, Blake is convinced they are wrong and sets out to solve the crime himself.

    This novel, set in the 1960s, is a bit of a change for Warner, who normally sets his crime novels in contemporary Western Australia. I found Blake's character to be a bit of a stretch, but that's not too distracting. There are plenty of plot twists and a sense of the world changing for both Blake and the Australia he now lives in.

    Warner writes with a fair bit of affection about 60s music, especially surf rock, calling to mind his own past as a musician, something missing from the other novels of his that I've read. This adds a bit of additional interest to what is already a pretty competent crime novel.

    Just to clarify for non-Australians, author and musician Dave Warner is a completely different person from the cricketer Dave Warner who is written about in Steve Smith's Men.
     

  5. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Distinguished Member

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    @California Dreamer this is ‘THE’Dave Warner who wrote Mugs Game.

    So far most novels by former rock stars I’ve read have been disappointing.
     

  6. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Distinguished Member

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    That's him, the Suburban Boy.

    He's the real deal as a crime novelist, won the Ned Kelly Award for Before It Breaks. He still writes and performs music as well, I believe.

    Can't think of a lot of other rock star novelists, but Jimmy Barnes has certainly been kicking arse in the biography stakes.
     

  7. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Distinguished Member

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    1. Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally, by Bob Zmuda and Lynne Margulies
    2. Illustrado, by Miguel Syjuco
    3. Kill 'Em All, by John Niven
    [
    4. The Black Monday Murders, volume 1: All Hail God Mammon, by Jonathon Hickman
    5. Bad News, by Edward St. Aubyn
    6. Education, by Tara Westover

    7. Europe: A Natural History, by Tim Flannery
    8. No Tomorrow, by Luke Jennings
    9. Scrublands, by Chris Hammer
    10. The Kingdom, by Fuminori Nakamura
    11. The White Darkness, by David Grann
    12. Sacred Cesium Ground and Isa's Deluge, by Yusuke Kimura
    13. The Black Monday Murders, Volume 2: The Scales, by Jonathon Hickman
    14. Dark Echoes of the Past, by Roman Diaz Eterovic
    15. Acute Misfortune, by Erik Jensen
    16. The Low Road, by Chris Womersley
    17. Steve Smith's Men: Behind Australian Cricket's Fall, by Geoff Lemon
    18. River of Salt, by Dave Warner

    19. City of a Million Dreams, by Jason Berry

    * I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to review this book. *

    Jason Berry's history of New Orleans covers a period of more than three hundred years, from the city's founding through to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Berry's approach is to devote each chapter to a notable New Orleans citizen and, by telling their stories and those of their times, give an overview of the complicated threads of New Orleans's development. Invaders, pirates, slaves, Spanish and French colonists, creoles, native Americans, politicians, religious leaders, musicians and artists are profiled by Berry. In the process he takes us through the city's founding, the colonial era, the Louisiana Purchase, the Civil War, the emergence of jazz and the Mardi Gras tradition right up to the present day destruction of the city in the hurricane, and its subsequent rebirth.

    Berry manages to capture what makes New Orleans unique: a blend of French, Spanish, African and Native American influences that gave rise to cultural innovations that have conquered the world, as have some of its foremost artists and musicians. Berry's optimism about the city's resurgence suggests that he believes that this culture will once again triumph.
     

  8. Fueco

    Fueco Stylish Dinosaur

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    16. The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

    An overview of extinctions in the prehistoric and modern world, and their causes both human and non-human.

    This book won the Pulitzer Prize, but I'd never heard of it until I saw it on the 'Staff Suggestions' shelf at the Library.
     

  9. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Distinguished Member

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    NYT is reporting Netflix is adapting One Hundred Years of Solitude. I trust they do an effective job of it as its such a brilliant novel. One of the top ten reads of my life.
     

  10. Fueco

    Fueco Stylish Dinosaur

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    We can certainly cross our fingers, eh?
     

  11. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Distinguished Member

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    If Roma is any indication of Latin American productions then confidence is (could be) high.
     

  12. Fueco

    Fueco Stylish Dinosaur

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    17. Winter World by Bernd Heinrich

    A study of the survival tactics of animals which live in cold environments (most in New England).
     

  13. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Distinguished Member

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    1. The Broken Kingdoms
    2. The Kingdom of Gods
    3. Semiosis
    4. Bridge of Clay
    5. Blackwater City
    6. Bullshit Jobs: a Theory
    7. Harry Potter: Goblet of Fire
    8. The People vs Tech

    9. The Outrun
    10 Ancillary Justice
    11. Words without Music

    10. Ancillary Justice


    So this novel won a lot of awards a few years ago and I'd avoided it for no particular reason, but it was cheap and second hand and I really enjoyed it. Breq used to be an AI with hundreds of Ancillaries - humanoid figures that instantly report and respond as part of the AI's domain. As a battleship in a galactic empire, Breq could melt worlds and cause mayhem, but was largely constructive, following orders.

    Breq's world is thrown into chaos when the leader of the civilisation does something that Breq's favourite human disagrees with. It's time for Breq to get even, but she is exiled in a human body.

    Lots of layers and details, nothing simple or easy here.


    11. Words without Music

    Philip Glass' biography, I'd been keen to read this for ages and it was a bit bland. A lot of pages that felt like lists, and occasional insight, a lot left unsaid or left alone, maybe too much was said and not enough detail was there.
     

  14. Fueco

    Fueco Stylish Dinosaur

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    18. American Assassin by Vince Flynn

    I’m catching up on a series I haven’t read for quite a while. This is the twelfth novel in the series about Mitch Rapp, the CIA’s secret weapon against terrorists.

    This one tells the back story of how he got into the business.
     

  15. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Distinguished Member

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    1. Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally, by Bob Zmuda and Lynne Margulies
    2. Illustrado, by Miguel Syjuco
    3. Kill 'Em All, by John Niven
    [
    4. The Black Monday Murders, volume 1: All Hail God Mammon, by Jonathon Hickman
    5. Bad News, by Edward St. Aubyn
    6. Education, by Tara Westover

    7. Europe: A Natural History, by Tim Flannery
    8. No Tomorrow, by Luke Jennings
    9. Scrublands, by Chris Hammer
    10. The Kingdom, by Fuminori Nakamura
    11. The White Darkness, by David Grann
    12. Sacred Cesium Ground and Isa's Deluge, by Yusuke Kimura
    13. The Black Monday Murders, Volume 2: The Scales, by Jonathon Hickman
    14. Dark Echoes of the Past, by Roman Diaz Eterovic
    15. Acute Misfortune, by Erik Jensen
    16. The Low Road, by Chris Womersley
    17. Steve Smith's Men: Behind Australian Cricket's Fall, by Geoff Lemon
    18. River of Salt, by Dave Warner
    19. City of a Million Dreams, by Jason Berry

    20. Nagaland, by Ben Doherty

    Foreign correspondent Ben Doherty's first novel is set in Nagaland, a region in the remote north-east of India, close to the border with Burma. The Naga are a tribal people, former head-hunters, who are ethnically closer to Mongols than the rest of India. Doherty's protagonist, Augustine, is a young boy growing up in a Nagaland village. The son of a drug addict and a smuggler, Augustine's life is chaotic and he harbours ambitions to leave for the big city once he's old enough. Once he eventually does so, Augustine encounters the bigotry extended to his people from the Hindu majority, and also feels the incessant tug of home.

    Doherty works many themes into this novel: terrorism, racism, the clash of civilisations, the twin scourges of drugs and AIDS, the heavy burden of tribal custom and the interplay of myth and reality. It's beautifully written, with Augustine's progress through childhood and young manhood recounted alongside the story of a romantic engagement that he gets entwined in as a an adult. This is a unique and impressive debut.
     

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