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Robin M

Book a Week in 2013 - week forty six

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Happy Sunday, dear hearts!  Today is the start of week 46 in our quest to read 52 books in 52 weeks.  Welcome back to all our readers, to all those who are just joining in and to all who are following our progress.  Mr. Linky is all set up on the 52 Books blog to link to your reviews.  The link is below in my signature.

 

52 Books Blog - Literary birthdays:  Time to celebrate a few more author birthdays and load up your wishlists for 2014!!!  Highlighting literary birthdays this week including Winston Churchill (Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 - political/historical nonfiction), Neil Gaiman (science fiction/fantasy novels, comics and films), Robert Louis Stevenson (Scottish novelist, Jose Saramago (Nobel Prize in literature in 1998 - Portuguese novelist), and Chinua Achebe (Nigerian novelist). 

 

Books news:

 

Audible.com is offering The Grey Man by Mark Greaney for free.

 

Check out Flavorwire's list of 10 great philosophical fiction tales -  I've read 4 out of the 10  - War and Peace, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Heart of Darkness, and Nausea.

 

From I09 - 10 stories where technology is indistinguishable from magic including A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's court, Dune, Rendevouz with Rama and Star wars.

 

Lynn Coady won the Scotiabank Giller Prize for Fiction for her short story collection Hellgoing.

 

 

 

 

What are you reading this week?

 

 

 

 

 

Link to week 45

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Finished James Rollins SandStorm, the first book in the Sigma Force novels.  Have been skipping around in the thriller series for some odd reason, reading them entirely out of order.   Good no matter what order you read them in. 

 

 

 

Thank you Stacia -  Couldn't think of a better place to veg out.   Reading Jennifer Estep's latest in the Gin Blanco Elemental Assassin series - Heart of Venom.

 

 

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Friday night I finished Shift (Wool trilogy) and just started Dust. There were a couple of months between reading Wool and reading Shift, and because of the way the books are written, I really wish I had read Shift right after Wool. It still worked out fine and I totally enjoyed Shift. 

I have Allegiant waiting in the wings to read next and that will complete another trilogy. Because of these weekly threads, I have a bazillion books piled on and around my night stand just waiting to be cracked open.

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  Because of these weekly threads, I have a bazillion books piled on and around my night stand just waiting to be cracked open.

 

Me too. I'm between books and can't decide wether to start one from my stack or wait till tomorrow when I pick up half a dozen more.

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Another reread for me.  Yesterday I finished Courtney Milan's The Duchess War (The Brothers Sinister) (Volume 1) in anticipation of reading the author's newest book in the Brothers Sinister series.  These are historical romances.

 

"Miss Minerva Lane is a quiet, bespectacled wallflower, and she wants to keep it that way. After all, the last time she was the center of attention, it ended badly—so badly that she changed her name to escape her scandalous past. Wallflowers may not be the prettiest of blooms, but at least they don’t get trampled. So when a handsome duke comes to town, the last thing she wants is his attention. But that is precisely what she gets. Because Robert Blaisdell, the Duke of Clermont, is not fooled. When Minnie figures out what he’s up to, he realizes there is more to her than her spectacles and her quiet ways. And he’s determined to lay her every secret bare before she can discover his. But this time, one shy miss may prove to be more than his match…"

 

Regards,

Kareni

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What makes a book a challenge to read?  Is it the writing style, the vocabulary, the grammatical structures, the run on sentences? Or is it the content that feels like a punch to the gut?

 

My current reading is challenging--mostly because of subject matter.  Stone Upon Stone is set in rural Poland--before, during and after WWII.  The first person narrator (who speaks in stream of consciousness run on sentences) was in the resistance.  His body is broken--but not his spirit.  I continue to work my way through this chunkster.

 

Upon Eliana's recommendation, I am also reading A Train In Winter.  From occupied Poland to occupied Paris and the unsung heroines of the Resistance.

 

It is necessary for me to return to Europe during this time period periodically.  Never easy, but necessary. 

 

I haven't posted this year's list for a while.

 

Rating system: 5 = Love; 4 = Pretty awesome; 3 = Decently good; 2 = Ok; Not bothering with 1's...
Chunksters (500+ pages) in purple.

Personal challenges: Old Friends, Dusty Books, Sustainability, Dorothy Dunnett,
the Continental Challenge

 

) Gillespie and I (Jane Harris) 3.5 stars
2) The Feast Nearby (Robin Mather) 3 stars--Sustainability (1)
3) The View from Castle Rock (Alice Munro) 4 stars--Dusty Book (1), Canadian author in the Continental Challenge
4) The Good Food Revolution (Will Allen with Charles Wilson) 2.5 stars--Sustainability (2)
5) Red Brick, Black Mountain, White Clay (Chris Benfey) 4 stars
6) Tom Jones (Henry Fielding) 5 stars--Old Friend (1), Dusty Book (2)**This remains one of my favorite novels of all time!**
7) Uneasy Money (P.G. Wodehouse, audio book) 3 stars
8) Wolf Hall (Hilary Mantel)--4 stars
9) A High Wind in Jamaica (Richard Hughes)--3.5 stars
10) Too Many Cooks (Rex Stout, audio book) 3.5 stars
11) Excellent Women (Barbara Pym) 4.5 stars--Old Friend (2)
12) An Awakening Heart (Barbara Dowd Wright) 3 stars--Dusty Book (3)
13) The Swerve (Stephen Greenblatt) 3.5 stars
14) Das Kapital: A Novel of Love and Money Markets (Viken Berberian) 4 stars
15) Aleph (Paulo Coelho) 1.5 stars Brazilian author in the Continental Challenge
16) Niccolo Rising (Dorothy Dunnett) 5 stars--Dorothy Dunnett personal challenge (1); Old Friend (3)
17) The Devil on Lammas Night (Susan Howatch) 3.5 stars--Dusty Book (4)
18) Nature Wars (Jim Sterba) 5 stars
19) Blood of the Wicked (Leighton Gage) Continental Challenge (Brazil) 3.5 stars
20) A Ghost in the Machine (Catherine Graham) 3.5 stars --Dusty Book (5)
21) All Natural (Nathanael Johnson) 5 stars-- Sustainability (3)
22) Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert) 4 stars
23) The Bucolic Plague (Josh Kilmer-Purcell) 2.5 stars

24) Cop to Corpse (Peter Lovesey) 3 stars
25) Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (Dai Sijie) 4 stars
26) Vendenta (Michael Dibdin) 3.5 stars
27) Elelgance of the Hedgehog (Muriel Barbery) 4 stars
28) Population: 485 (Michael Perry) 4.5 stars
29) Stagestruck (Peter Lovesey) 4 stars
30) Gourmet Rhapsody (Muriel Barbery) 3 stars
31) Cabal (Michael Dibdin) 3.5 stars
32) Cooked (Michael Pollan) 4.5 stars
33) Oishinko: Ramen & Gyoza (Kariya/Hanasaki) Food manga! 4 stars
34) Paris France (Gertrude Stein) 4.5 stars--Old Friends (3)
35) Oishinko: Fish, Sushi, and Sushimi (Kariya/Hanasaki) More food manga! 4 stars
36) Beware This Boy (Maureen Jennings) 3 stars
37) The Spring of the Ram (Dorothy Dunnett) 5 stars --Dorothy Dunnett (2)
38) Richard III (Shakespeare) 5 stars

39) A Taste for Death(PD James) 4 stars

40) Henry IV Part I (Shakespeare) 5 stars

41) Race of Scorpions (Dorothy Dunnett) 4 stars--Dorothy Dunnett Challenge (3)

42) Old Filth (Jane Gardam) 5 stars

43) Cradle to Cradle (Braungart and McDonough) 4 stars--Sustainability (4)

44) The Man in the Wooden Hat (Jane Gardam) 5 stars

45) The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (Edgar Allen Poe) 3.5 stars

46) Old Friends (Jane Gardam) 5 stars

47) Pym (Mat Johnson) 3.5 stars

48) A Good Death (Elizabeth Ironside) 3 stars

49) The Curtain (Milan Kundera) 5 stars

50) Baker Street Translation (Michael Robertson) 2.5 stars

51) Waiting for Dark (Peter Robinson) 3.5 stars

52) The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Robert Louis Stevenson) 4 stars

53) Shooting at Loons (Margaret Maron) 2.5 stars

54) Hidden Kitchens (Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson)  4 stars

55) Letters to a Young Scientist (E.O. Wilson) 4 stars

56) The Spellman Files (Lisa Lotz) 2.5 stars

 

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Since I was able to put aside The Scottish Prisoner, ahem, I was able to complete Dead Lawyers Tale No Tales, by Randy Singer.  This is not one of his best, but it was still enjoyable if you like courtroom dramas/mystery thrillers.  Here is my review from Goodreads:

 

This one had me guessing till the end, and even surprised me.  There seemed to be so many different story lines going at once, I had no idea how they were going to be able to come together.  It wasn't really a matter of knowing the who in the "who done it", but more the HOW, and that was a good mystery till the end.  A small side-note surprise at the end was nice as well, and I never saw it coming.  All in all a fun read.

 

My next book will be The Last Plea Bargain, also by Randy Singer.

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Me too. I'm between books and can't decide wether to start one from my stack or wait till tomorrow when I pick up half a dozen more.

I know. Before starting to read this thread I had a stack but nothing like this. Also I really want to read pretty much everything in that stack. I used to happily return my unreads to the library every month or two.

 

I read a new Maggie Shayne on my kindle yesterday. She has written some great romatic suspense books over the years. Favorite author for me. This one called "Sleep with the Lights On" is honestly creepier imo then most of the spooky reads I read. I liked it but I want to warn that part of the creepiness involves organ donation. I don't want to do a spoiler but this book probably is not well suited for anyone who has been personally involved in those programs. I think it might have upset me.

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Like Jane in NC, I'm also reading A Train in Winter because I saw it mentioned here (now I know to credit Eliana! I can never remember who mentioned the books I put on my hold list). I've read a lot of WWII books this year and this one is really tying together a lot of pieces in my brain. I'm understanding what happened in France a lot better, and really wishing something terrible happened to the collaborationists, but I don't think much did happen to them. I'm about half way through that one.

 

Meanwhile, The Cuckoo's Calling came available from my hold list, and that one I only have for 14 days so I will probably be focusing on it for the time being.

 

Almost done with Marrin's Stalin--another one I'm learning a lot from. And interesting to read it alongside the WWII books.

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What makes a book a challenge to read?  Is it the writing style, the vocabulary, the grammatical structures, the run on sentences? Or is it the content that feels like a punch to the gut?

 

 

 

 

I find that I can easily read anything written in a narrative voice with a linear story line, even non-fiction or with challenging vocabulary. However, I don't like to read gut-punch books at all. By gut-punch, I mean those that are full of cruelty, brutality, and oppression.

 

The most challenging for me are books that have a random structure or no story to hold on to. I struggle through some classics that divert from the story to do chapter long  detailed descriptions of things like  architecture or governmental procedures. I also find it difficult to read books that make it hard for me to connect with the voice of the author in some way.

 

 

I've decided to read Fatu-Hiva: Back to Nature by Thor Heyerdahl. I found it in a thrift store 2 weeks ago. The story is already engaging me, so I'm happy.

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I read The Probable Future - 3 Stars - a very nice read. I'm giving it 3 Stars since it dragged on for me a bit towards the end. 

 

9780345455918.jpg

 

 

MY RATING SYSTEM

5 Stars

Fantastic, couldn't put it down

4 Stars

Really Good

3 Stars

Enjoyable

2 Stars

Just Okay – nothing to write home about

1 Star

Rubbish – waste of my money and time. Few books make it to this level, since I usually give up on them if they’re that bad.

 

 

 

 

My daughter took this photo of her stack of books. Love it and thought to share. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Finished:


 


#69 Holy is the Day:  Living in the Gift of the Present, by Carolyn Weber.  Commented on it last week when I was almost finished.  Will definitely be one of my top five this year, and possibly number one.


 


Currently reading:


 


#70 Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Ann Burns.

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I read Tangled after seeing on the Goodreads list for 2013.  I was disappointed.  Last night I read Seven Years by Dannika Dark, which is a new author for me, not a bad start to another paranormal series.  I might have to try out The Mageri Series by the same author.  Anyone familiar with it?

 

I started Gone Girl: A Novel since I have it on library loan, but I just couldn't get into right now, maybe later this week.  

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I have been slogging through some seriously heady literature lately.  My goal for this year has been to read some of the best lit. of the 20th Century and I coming to see why it's not something I usually lean toward.  So this week I cheated a bit and chose a Non-20th Century book, Catching Fire, the second book in the Hunger Games Trilogy.  I tore right through it, it was a real page turner.  Not high a flalutin' boo by any means, but it was very attention grabbing.  I kept the "Children in Peril" theme going by reading Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card.  This one is on all the Top Sci Fi Novel lists so I wasn't cheating!  The strange thing is, while Katniss was in imminent, brutal danger, I was less disturbed by Catching Fire than I was by Ender's story.  What they did to those kids was really upsetting to me.  One of my boys is 5 and Ender started the book out at 6.  I realize he's supposed to be this blistering genius, but he is still a little boy and what they did to him really ticked me off.  

 

My Dh has been pushing Starship Troopers on me all year so I think I'll stick with the war and despair theme (I'm preparing for an IL Thanksgiving so I'm already in the mindset.)

 

 

 

1 - All The King's Men â€“ Robert Penn Warren                                                            27 - Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

2 - A Stranger in a Strange Land â€“ Robert Heinlein                                                   28 - Selected Short Stories - William Faulkner
3 - A Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood                                                                  29 - 100 Years of Solitude -  Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4 - Catcher in the Rye â€“ J.D. Salinger                                                                      30 - Dune - Frank Herbert
5 - Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury                                                                           31 - Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
6 - The Grapes of Wrath â€“ John Steinbeck                                                                32 - One Day in the Life o Ivan Desinovich -  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
7 – Murder on the Orient Express â€“ Agatha Christie                                                  33 - Beloved - Toni Morrison
8 – The Illustrated Man â€“ Ray Bradbury                                                                   34 - Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
9 – The Great Gatsby â€“ F. Scott Fitzgerald                                                                35 - Dimanche - Irene Nemirovsky
10 – The Hiding Place â€“ Corrie Ten Boom                                                                36 - Babbitt - Sinclair Lewis 
11 – The Square Foot Garden â€“ Mel Bartholomew                                                     37 - Franny and Zooey - J.D. Salinger 
12 - Catch-22- Joseph Heller                                                                                    38 - A Death in Venice - Thomas Mann
13 - Heart of Darkness- Joseph Conrad                                                                    39 -  Sister Carrie - Theodore Drieser
14 - Partners in Crime - Agatha Christie                                                                   40 -  The Trial - Franz Kafka
15 - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams                                            41 - The Sound and the Fury - William Faulkner
16 -O, Pioneers!- Willa Cather                                                                                 42 - Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera
17 - Miss Marple - The Complete Short Story Collection - Agatha Christie                 43 - Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
18 - Ringworld - Larry Niven                                                                                  44 - Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
19 - Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man- James Joyce                                          45 - Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
20 - Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut
21 - To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
22 - Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin
23 - The Adventures of Augie March - Saul Bellow
24 - The War of the Worlds- H.G Wells
25 - The Girl with the Pearl Earring - Tracy Chevalier 
26 - The Golden Ball and Other Stories - Agatha Christie

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Last week had three standout books...

 

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie:  Over the years I've read a lot of SFF (and looking over this year's list I can see that most of fiction I read is either "literature" or SFF), but I tend to prefer fantasy.  A strong narrative voice and/or characters I care about are what keep me engaged with a book.  And much of science fiction has lacked that for me - there might be fascinating ideas and fabulous world-building, but not always the characters or the voice that hooks my heart *and* mind.  ...but when sci-fi gets it right, it can be transcendent, or at least stunningly magnificent. Rarer yet are hard-sci fi books that touch my heart.  This book is indeed stunning, and misses transcendence by a hairsbreadth.  Here's the Tor review that made me put it on hold, but it has too much plot description, imho, and, despite the raves, doesn't do the book justice.  Highly recommended.

 

"A double-threaded narrative proves seductive, drawing the reader into the naive but determined protagonist's efforts to transform an unjust universe. Leckie uses...an expansionist galaxy-spinning empire [and] a protagonist on a single-minded quest for justice to transcend space-opera conventions in innovative ways. This impressive debut succeeds in making Breq a protagonist readers will invest in, and establishes Leckie as a talent to watch." (Publishers Weekly )

 

 

Embers by Sandor Marai: Another stunning book, of a completely different flavor.  This tightly crafted gem is very quiet, interior, retrospective, but as gripping as the more thriller-like sci-fi book above.... Thank you Stacia.  This is a brilliant, luminous book.

 

We are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler:  Be careful what you read about this - one review I read spoiled a major plot point that, imho, comes better encountered in the narrative.  The narrative voice here is delightful and very, very engaging... and it carries one along for an intense ride.  [Don't read the Amazon book description!  It is rife with spoilers!]

 

Four Bloomsbury era works (not all by Bloomsbury folk, however one defines that):

 

Last Lectures by Roger Fry:  Fry is a masterful, engaging art lecturer, and these were no exception... but some of his phrasings and assumptions were occasionally jarring as he dealt with art from a wide range of traditions.  Although I enjoyed these very much, I have to confess that if I never again encounter the phrases "plastic qualities" or "significant form" etc I would not be sorry....

 

Passenger to Teheran by Vita Sackville-West: This edition is enhanced by an informative introduction and some photos from the trip, but the text would be delightful and entrancing without any additions. 

 

Chrome Yellow by Aldous Huxley:  A quiet, satirical look at an English country house gathering.  Given the novel for which Huxley is best known, it is interesting to see a smattering of references to some of the ideas he explored later...

 

Albert Nobbs by George Moore: A poignant novella about a middle aged woman who has spent most of her adult life disguised as a man, and then sees a possible path to love and companionship without leaving the safety and security of her disguise.

 

 

Reading a selection of Nancy Mitford's essays and articles the other week inspired me to add a stack of French works, some rereads, some new to me, to my lists... Marianne by George SandsThis is a slight story, both in length and substance, but a sweet, enjoyable one.  (Though I feel as if I cheated reading it in English...)

 

I've heard Sjon mentioned so many times here, so I finally picked one up from the library: The Whispering Muse.  It was a fascinating little story - odd, and disturbing, with a thread of Greek myth woven through it... but not one that reached my heart.

 

My other two books this week were:

 

Early Poems by Yeats: I have a few Yeats poems I've always loved, but most of his oeuvre has left me cold.  So, this time, I went slowly, very, very slowly, and I read most of these aloud.  (This isn't the actual edition I used, I did all the early poems from a complete edition.).  It will never be my favorite poetry, but I have a much better appreciation for Yeats now, and very strong sense of his Irish roots.

 

Henry VI part 3 by William Shakespeare:  I wish I had saved a few cheerier plays here for the end of my Shakespeare challenge.  This one rips my heart out.  I read through quickly this time, skating on the tops of the waves, riding the intensity and the tragedy without getting drenched in it.  ...but this is one of the plays I've spent the most time with (other then RIII which I used to be able to recite from beginning to end), and some of these scenes are almost as real to me as my own real-life memories...  Margaret is as partisan and short-sighted as any other faction/power player here, but her courage and determination still amaze me... Shakespeare writes such strong women.  Even the most tragic has such a core of strength and agency.  The realism of the reaction of the men in power to women with agency who step out of gender assigned roles is sickening in this trilogy - but even more chilling is the realization that that kind of disparagement happens now too. 

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52 Books Blog - Literary birthdays:  Time to celebrate a few more author birthdays and load up your wishlists for 2014!!!  Highlighting literary birthdays this week including Winston Churchill (Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 - political/historical nonfiction), Neil Gaiman (science fiction/fantasy novels, comics and films), Robert Louis Stevenson (Scottish novelist, Jose Saramago (Nobel Prize in literature in 1998 - Portuguese novelist), and Chinua Achebe (Nigerian novelist). 

 

Very cool. Wow. Talk about some great authors....

 

Hope you are feeling better, Robin! :grouphug:

 

Because of these weekly threads, I have a bazillion books piled on and around my night stand just waiting to be cracked open.

 

:laugh: :iagree:

 

What makes a book a challenge to read?  Is it the writing style, the vocabulary, the grammatical structures, the run on sentences? Or is it the content that feels like a punch to the gut?

 

My current reading is challenging--mostly because of subject matter.  Stone Upon Stone is set in rural Poland--before, during and after WWII.  The first person narrator (who speaks in stream of consciousness run on sentences) was in the resistance.  His body is broken--but not his spirit.  I continue to work my way through this chunkster.

 

Upon Eliana's recommendation, I am also reading A Train In Winter.  From occupied Poland to occupied Paris and the unsung heroines of the Resistance.

 

It is necessary for me to return to Europe during this time period periodically.  Never easy, but necessary.

 

Loving hearing about your challenging reading, Jane. Great questions to ponder too....

 

I've decided to read Fatu-Hiva: Back to Nature by Thor Heyerdahl. I found it in a thrift store 2 weeks ago. The story is already engaging me, so I'm happy.

 

:thumbup1:  Read that a couple of years ago & loved it. Looking forward to your final thoughts on it.

 

My daughter took this photo of her stack of books. Love it and thought to share. 

 

Love it! (And love the purple wall too!)

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Well, I busted my rear last night & today so I could finish my current two books, lol. (My pace certainly pales in relation to Eliana's pace! :lol: )

 

First, I finished Washington Irving's Tales of the Alhambra. I greatly enjoyed Irving's musings on life in & around the Alhambra. I'm so jealous that he actually got to *stay* there in 1829! Even though I visited the Alhambra more than 160 years after Irving did, many of his descriptions & impressions seem spot-on from when I visited it many years ago.

This book is a mix of his thoughts & observations, as well as various recountings of fables & tales he was told during his time there. Many of the folktales center around the time when Granada was under Arabic rule &/or tales of Boabdil (Muhammed XII of Granada) & his people existing in a frozen/enchanted state in the mountains under the Alhambra. I enjoyed Irving's non-fiction writings better than his recountings of the various fables (there was a certain amount of repetition among some of the tales). Recommended for those who enjoy travel-related lit & especially if you have an interest in Spain &/or the Alhambra.

 

Secondly, today I read Off-Topic: The Story of an Internet Revolt (link to the free .pdf) by G.R. Reader. Here's what I wrote about it on Goodreads...

 

Censorship is a hot-button topic for me. So, with this book, we're talking about the whole Goodreads/Amazon/reader dust-up & what's at stake here: freedom of speech/expression. Admittedly, Goodreads/Amazon is not the government &, therefore, some may dismiss these issues as 'not so important'; others will sit by in silence, watching what's going on but not getting involved, without voicing thoughts or opinions, thinking that the issue doesn't really affect his/her life....

Realistically speaking, those of us in the US live in a capitalist society, where the bottom dollar often drives choices & decisions (from corporate lobbyists working to sway our laws to citizens being told it is our patriotic duty to shop/contribute to the economy to basic needs issues such as an individual staying in a bad job to make ends meet). Corporations have big sway in our daily lives & I think the topic of freedom of speech/expression is entirely relevant & critical, not only in reference to individuals vs. governments, but also to individuals vs. corporations.

This is something that affects you, whether you exercise your rights or not. It is very easy to have rights erode, to be chipped away, but so much harder to restore lost freedoms.

The novel is an everyman account for the internet/social network era. This book is not perfect. Some of the book is a bit unclear about which posts have been deleted & so on. The book has some internet-speak/acronyms in it (which may annoy lovers of 'traditional' lit). Yet, this hastily assembled book pulls together the information about an affront to your basic rights. Goodreads readers, I'm talking to you. It's not a perfect book; I urge you to read it anyway. Read it & draw your own conclusions. Because, ultimately, this book is about you. It is for you.

 

“Every man—in the development of his own personality—has the right to form his own beliefs and opinions. Hence, suppression of belief, opinion and expression is an affront to the dignity of man, a negation of man’s essential nature.†-- Toward a General Theory of the First Amendment, Thomas Emerson

 

“If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.†-- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis (1856–1941), Whitney v. California, 274 U. S. 357 (1927).

 

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.†-- UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights

 

On Goodreads, I gave the Off-Topic book 5 stars because it's just so painfully relevant to what is going on there. Outside of GR, I will say I think this book is really a 3 star type of read (& it's really less of a book than a put-together compendium of posts from various affected folks, plus some additional history/background thrown-in), but the issues are critically important ones (hence my much higher rating). I think this, along w/ some other stories of internet suppression & censorship, might make an interesting case study/research topic for teens.

 

Not sure what I will start reading at this point. (Hard to believe my last three books have all been non-fiction. :svengo: )

 

--------------------------
My Goodreads Page

My PaperbackSwap Page

My rating system:
5 = Love; 4 = Pretty awesome; 3 = Decently good; 2 = Ok; 1 = Don't bother (I shouldn't have any 1s on my list as I would ditch them before finishing)...

2013 Books Read:

Link to Books # 1 – 40 that I’ve read in 2013.

41. If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino (5 stars). Challenge: Continental – Europe (Italy).

42. They Call Me Naughty Lola: Personal Ads from the London Review of Books, edited by David Rose (2.5 stars). Challenge: Continental – Europe (England).

43. The Late Mattia Pascal by Luigi Pirandello (3 stars). Challenge: Continental – Europe (Italy).

44. Stoker’s Manuscript by Royce Prouty (4 stars).

45. Captain Alatriste by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (3 stars). Challenge: Continental – Europe (Spain).

46. The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry (4 stars).

47. Second Person Singular by Sayed Kashua (4 stars). Challenge: Continental – Asia (Israel).

48. The Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy (3.5 stars). Challenge: Continental – Europe/Asia (Russia).

49. The Book of the Unknown: Tales of the Thirty-Six by Jonathon Keats (3 stars).

50. Borges and the Eternal Orangutans by Luis Fernando Verissimo (5 stars). Challenge: Continental – South America (Brazil & Argentina).

 

51. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe (4 stars). Challenge: Continental – Antarctica.

52. Pym by Mat Johnson (3 stars). Challenge: Continental – Antarctica.

53. Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway (5 stars).

54. The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney by Christopher Higgs (5 stars).

55. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (3 stars).

56. The Shaman’s Coat: A Native History of Siberia by Anna Reid (3 stars). Challenge: Continental – Asia (Siberia).

57. In Search of Dracula: The History of Dracula and Vampires by Raymond T. McNally & Radu Florescu (4 stars). Challenge: Continental – Europe (Romania).

58. Remainder by Tom McCarthy (4 stars). Challenge: Dusty.

59. At the Mountains of Madness (radio/audio version) by H.P. Lovecraft (4 stars). Challenge: Continental – Antarctica.

60. The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner (5 stars).

 

61. Night of My Blood by Kofi Awoonor (3 stars). Challenge: Continental – Africa (Ghana).

62. A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny (3 stars).

63. Le Sphinx de Glaces by Jules Verne (4 stars). Challenge: Continental – Antarctica.

64. The Finno-Ugrian Vampire by Noémi Szécsi (3.5 stars). Challenge: Continental – Europe (Hungary).

65. The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen (3 stars).

66. The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers (4 stars).

67. The Dracula Tape by Fred Saberhagen (3 stars).

68. Sweet Dreams by Michael Frayn (4 stars).

69. The Flying Creatures of Fra Angelico by Antonio Tabucchi (4 stars). Challenge: Continental – Europe (Italy; Portugal).

70. Mosquito: An Omnilingual Nosferatu Pictomunication Novel by Dan James (3 stars).

 

71. Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson (4 stars).

72. Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving (4 stars). Challenge: Continental – Europe (Spain).

73. Off-Topic: The Story of an Internet Revolt by G.R. Reader (3 stars for content/5 stars for ideas).

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 I kept the "Children in Peril" theme going by reading Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card.  This one is on all the Top Sci Fi Novel lists so I wasn't cheating!  The strange thing is, while Katniss was in imminent, brutal danger, I was less disturbed by Catching Fire than I was by Ender's story.  What they did to those kids was really upsetting to me.  One of my boys is 5 and Ender started the book out at 6.  I realize he's supposed to be this blistering genius, but he is still a little boy and what they did to him really ticked me off.  

 

My Dh has been pushing Starship Troopers on me all year so I think I'll stick with the war and despair theme (I'm preparing for an IL Thanksgiving so I'm already in the mindset.)

 

 

I, too, was upset by Ender's Game, upset for Ender himself and outraged by the reveal at the end.  We just saw the movie, which was solidly o.k. (as my college boy put it) but just ok.  It totally lacked that emotional punch -- they didn't manage to make you feel for Ender, to feel the horror at how he was used.

 

I'll be curious what you think of Starship Troopers.  My college boy is a Heinlein fan, loves that book, but he told me I wouldn't like it based on my reaction to The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.  One of our all time best conversations about books was when we listened to that one on a long car trip a few years back.  I got really annoyed with Heinlein's heavy handed politics, so he said I'd better skip Starship Troopers!

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Embers by Sandor Marai: Another stunning book, of a completely different flavor.  This tightly crafted gem is very quiet, interior, retrospective, but as gripping as the more thriller-like sci-fi book above.... Thank you Stacia.  This is a brilliant, luminous book.

 

...

 

I've heard Sjon mentioned so many times here, so I finally picked one up from the library: The Whispering Muse.  It was a fascinating little story - odd, and disturbing, with a thread of Greek myth woven through it... but not one that reached my heart.

 

So glad you enjoyed Embers, Eliana! You are so right in that this is a tightly-controlled, quiet yet gripping tale. This may be one I want to revisit down the road.

 

Good to hear your comments on The Whispering Muse. So, can you let me know what was disturbing/in what way w/out revealing any spoilers??? Just curious because I want to read it (want to read any Sjon, really), but want/need to brace myself if I'm heading into disturbing territory....

 

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I am happy to report that my ratio of number of new books purchased (both electronic and paper) to books actually read remains a solid 3:1. I need to make a lovely stack, such as the one Negin's daughter did, so I can at least enjoy the artistry of them all as they collect dust.

 

The one book I did finish this week was the newest Peter Lovesey "Peter Diamond" mystery, The Tooth Tattoo. The mystery centered around a string quartet with the big reveal happening while the quartet was performing Beethoven's Grosse Fugue for a recording.  A very fun mystery with the descriptions of the music and how quartets function spot-on.  Definitely will read more in the series, going back, as Jane recommends, to the beginning.  

 

I am also listening to Desolation Island, the 5th in the Aubrey Maturin series.  

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I, too, was upset by Ender's Game, upset for Ender himself and outraged by the reveal at the end.  We just saw the movie, which was solidly o.k. (as my college boy put it) but just ok.  It totally lacked that emotional punch -- they didn't manage to make you feel for Ender, to feel the horror at how he was used.

 

I'll be curious what you think of Starship Troopers.  My college boy is a Heinlein fan, loves that book, but he told me I wouldn't like it based on my reaction to The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.  One of our all time best conversations about books was when we listened to that one on a long car trip a few years back.  I got really annoyed with Heinlein's heavy handed politics, so he said I'd better skip Starship Troopers!

 

One of the first books I read this year was Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein.  It wasn't what I expected, but I enjoyed it.  I have been forced to watch the Starship movie with Dh but he swears up and down that the book is way better.  He's so excited for me to read it!  I'll let you know how I like it.

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Hi everyone! I have not read a ton this year, although I've read through a few books in the last few weeks and hope to be picking up pace. I started Game of Thrones, as it has been on my list for quite awhile. I quickly realized that I had started it a year or so and abandoned it. I am trying to read it again, but I'm just finding it boring! Have any of you read it? Did you enjoy it or should I ditch it? It seems like quite an investment if it's not any good.

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Hi everyone! I have not read a ton this year, although I've read through a few books in the last few weeks and hope to be picking up pace. I started Game of Thrones, as it has been on my list for quite awhile. I quickly realized that I had started it a year or so and abandoned it. I am trying to read it again, but I'm just finding it boring! Have any of you read it? Did you enjoy it or should I ditch it? It seems like quite an investment if it's not any good.

 

Hi Monica,

 

Personally I enjoyed it, but then I like those types of stories with multi viewpoints. Of course, I had a couple false starts with it.  So it may just take you a while, same as it did me.  For shorter books, I give it 50 pages, for longer books 100.  If you are finding it boring, then and now, I would ditch it and go for something that holds your interest.  Usually I go back to a book two or three times at most when my mood is different and if still can't get into it, shelve it for good.

 

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What makes a book a challenge to read?  Is it the writing style, the vocabulary, the grammatical structures, the run on sentences? Or is it the content that feels like a punch to the gut?

 

 

For me, it's a combination of things. First -  the writing style. Some of the classical books or older books are harder because of the language of the period or because the writer choose to do stream of consciousnesses. Either way, it makes you slow down and have to think more, so the style also depends on mood at the time. If in the mood for brain candy, then it's going to be really challenging.  Also brain candy can be challenging if the writing is so elementary or the character is just so stupid, that you are left shaking your head or wanting to throw the book across the room.  Which leads to is it 1st or 3 pov and how does the character communicate.  I used to hate 1st person point of view, because very few authors do it well.  I've since discovered some that do an admirable job.

 

Secondly - content is also a consideration.  The writing may be great but if you can't stomach the subject matter or it's a real tear jerker and goes beyond entertaining.  Then it becomes a challenge to disengage from your emotions and not experience the story.  Depends entirely on how visual or emotional a person you are or if you yourself have been through the same experiences.  I tend to stay away from emotional books with emotional dying scenes, since I've been there and done that with relatives and it just hits you in the gut.  I remember wanting to read one story quite badly because I had invested in the series and the majority of the story was gut wrenching and the dying scene left me sobbing.    I like to escape and be entertained or educated when I read.   Not left a blubbering pile on the floor. 

 

I'll add a third - when the author has an agenda and even though the story is good, the agenda part shines through and you don't know if you want to continue contributing to this person's pocket book.  It's challenging sometimes to separate the author, the writer, from the story.  Personally helps if I know nothing about the author, otherwise it ruins the experience for me.

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I'll add a third - when the author has an agenda and even though the story is good, the agenda part shines through and you don't know if you want to continue contributing to this person's pocket book.  It's challenging sometimes to separate the author, the writer, from the story.  Personally helps if I know nothing about the author, otherwise it ruins the experience for me.

 

This is an interesting comment, especially in light of the Goodreads issues. One of the topics that has been a problem is that the company now wants people not to talk about the authors (unless its in a good light &/or directly relates to the book). So, say there is a convicted pedophile who wrote a children's book... some find this relevant info to post/share on GR because that reader refuses to spend his/her money supporting that person. (This is based off a true scenario over there.) GR deletes comments in that vein or even if it is deemed that you have shelved books in a way that is against an author. (So, perhaps you have created a shelf titled 'no-no books for me' or something like that. If 'they', the powers that be, decide your shelf system is somehow making a statement on the authors, they will delete your entire shelf. But, really, how can they know your intent? Maybe you don't want to read books that talk about rape or other topics that are personal triggers for you & you flag ones that you know you don't want to read by filing it on a shelf to make sure you can avoid them. Is is up to the powers that be to divine your intent?)

 

Many times I do not know about the author. But, sometimes, I do find it relevant, esp. if my purchase of a book (admittedly rare for me) will be supporting someone with whom I do not agree nor support on critical issues.

 

Sorry to go off-topic, but I find these areas interesting to mull over.

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From last week's discussions:

 

 

 

But I have not heard of Ronald Firbank.  Hmmm...off to find his work!
 

 

Nor have I...  but I see that my library has some novels, some plays, and his complete short stories!

 

 

Eliana, if you haven't read it, our own AggieAmy's scathing review of Julianne Donaldson's previous book, Edenbrooke, is good fun for reading.  Sounds like Blackmoore suffers from similar problems as Edenbrooke did.

 

 

 

Yes, very similar.  ...but I did find the hero and heroine more likable than she found the protagonists of Edenbrooke, so that is an improvement.

 

Some days I do wonder if my reactions to some books aren't being unfairly colored by the other things I am reading.  I mean, it wouldn't be very fair to expect Blackmoore to be of the same caliber as Middlemarch... I like to think I am responding to how well a work does at what it is trying to be... but perhaps I am not.

 

:thumbup1:  Glad to see mentions of Cold Comfort Farm & Zuleika Dobson because it reminded me that I've been wanting to read both!

 

They are both very silly books!  ...in the best sense of the word.  :)  They aren't my favorite silly books from that period, but they are well worth reading, imho.

 

 

I agree that I felt like I missed huge parts of the novel. When I read the translator's notes ahead of time, plus some reviews, I knew there would be plenty of cultural/political references that I just wouldn't get. So, I mostly stuck w/ enjoying it as a vampire story, knowing there was a deeper message (maybe part of which I understood, but much of which remains mysterious to me).

 

I don't think I've ever actually known a Hungarian. (I must try to remedy that, I think.) I do find the linguistic families fascinating. I love linguistics in general. (Maybe that's part of the reason I love reading books from other places & also love reading the translators' notes, if any; I find it fascinating to see how the translator(s) approach the work. Reading Altazor earlier this year held the same type of translation/magnetic sway for me too.) Too bad there are no Hungarians on the BaW thread who could chime in about the linguistics, as well as perhaps some of the background/references of the story.

 

I enjoyed her sense of humor too. There were a few times I laughed out loud (the grandmother & the angel were two characters that had me laughing). The sections that I thought were a '3' were probably things that I didn't entirely understand. Darkly funny & probably deeper than I am able to comprehend, even with knowing I'm fairly clueless about many of the references in the book. You've given me more to mull over, for sure....

 

 

 

 


I finished the book this evening and must confess that I rather enjoyed it.  Despite its title and characters, I think the book has little to do with vampires.  But, like Eliana, I too kept feeling like I was missing something. 

 

Is The Finno-Ugrian Vampire a commentary of some sort on modern society's contempt of the Literature major or Linguist, the person who loves ideas but is less concerned about the functioning of the "real world" (whatever that might be)?  Is there some sort of political metaphor here for Hungary which never quite fit into the Soviet Bloc?  Back in the day, Hungarians would easily stream in and out of Austria if they had the schillings.  Economics more than politics kept that border in tact.  When the Hungarians were overrun by Hapsburgs, did the average Hungarian feel a connection to their Austrian neighbors?  Their language is so different, peculiar if I dare say so.

 

Admittedly I haven't known many Hungarians, but most I have met have told me of their the connection between their language and Finnish.  (I did not realize until reading The Finno-Ugrian Vampire that the Estonian language is related as well.) This seems to have been a defining point for the average Hungarian, particularly back in the Soviet days.  They were not part of the West, not part of the East. They were a separate entity with a lingual tie to Finland. This was the message that they wanted me to hear.

 

And I felt that was part of the message I was hearing in Noémi Szécsi's novel. Here is the country that doesn't quite fit in--much like the vampire in modern day Budapest.

 

The author's sense of humor is delightful. Another missing connection for me:  How does Oscar Wilde fit into all of this??

 

A couple of interesting things I found online.  First about the Hungarian language. The italicized bit is a question posed to the author.  Her response follows.
 

A short reflection by the English translator of the novel can be found here.

 

Thanks Stacia!

 

Reading that link, I see that the narrator's gender is not specified in the Hungarian.  That is fascinating. 

 

I'm wondering if the problem I had with the book was, least partially, the translation?

 

It felt too much on a single note, so after a while, the humor, the engaging voice, the intriguing pieces stopped working as well for me.

 

 

 

I finished reading Journey to the River Sea aloud to my 9yo and since I had never read it before, I'm counting it in my book list. I'm currently reading The Name of This Book is Secret, to myself.

 

Journey to the River Sea, Star of Kazan, and Dragonfly Pool are my favorite Ibbotsons - and such a different flavor than the Which Witch and its ilk.

 

In spite of being a novel, it felt as though I had read a short story. The images were clear, vivid, and engaging. The ending had the abruptness of a short story with that feeling that we are being told something profound. I think my problem is I can't quite figure out what that is and if it has anything to do with me.  

 

I'm glad I read it, but it's not on my list of favorites. However, I can't explain why. :)

 

Thank you.  That is very helpful.  ...and since that is an intriguing sort of puzzling, I think I definitely want to try it myself (and thank you everyone who has added their recommendations as well!)

 

About Twilight...

 

 

The first link is the mashup and it is BRILLIANT!!  Love it.  I read the books when they were all the craze among the teens I knew and worked with.  They were thrilled I was reading them, and I confess to getting a guilty kick out of the first one.  BUT, that second book infuriated me, too, and the last book "jumped the shark" as they say in pop culture.  It was too bizarre.  Buffy is a far cooler pop-culture role model, (if there have to be role models in pop culture). I saw a couple of the movies with my then college aged niece, and we'd have fun tearing it apart afterwards.  I used to threaten my youngest son, who was a young teen when the first movies came out, that I would drag him to the movie theater, tie him in a chair and make him watch a Twilight movie if he didn't behave himself!!  

 

Re: your son and Twilight movies: :lol:  

 

re:role models and pop culture:  I haven't see Buffy either, but I have a thing about agency... iow role models having some sense of agency, and, from the little I've heard, it sounds as if Buffy is not lacking in that!

 

I was thinking about pre-teen/teen girls and role models these past couple of weeks as I've been rereading the Henry VI 'trilogy'.

 

I adored Margaret of Anjou when I was a pre-teen (well, it started younger than that, but peaked in the pre-teen years) and thinking about it now, in the context of my reaction to Twilight, I think that even then I wanted heroes with agency, who made an impact on their world, who dared and strived... reached for the stars, however imperfectly.  ...and losing wasn't necessarily a defect.  And in my beloved Richard III, it is Margaret who personifies... karma, I guess, she reminds us that none of the adults have clean hands, and she cries out for vengeance. 

 

Vengeance and just deserts have little appeal to me as an adult (not that I was vindictive child, but I did appreciate more stories where folks were paid back in their own coin.), but characters who struggle for a cause I can at least have some sympathy with even if I don't agree, still speak to my deepest cravings from a story.

 

 

 

I think I must have completely missed the boat on Middlemarch. (Of course, that doesn't actually make me want to go back & try reading it again... :laugh: .)

 

Your mention of the butterfly effect made me think of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell:

 

What an incredible book.

 

 

 

Still chiming in to highly recommend Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. It is a gem of a book; a book for lovers of books.

 

 

The last part of his quote made tears spring to my eyes.

 

Dearly though I love Middlemarch, it isn't for everyone! 

 

That quote makes me want to reconsider Cloud Atlas...

 

I've put Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress on hold...

 

Yes. I found that part so moving.  And it made me think about the different kinds of stories I am am drawn to at different times in my life. 

 

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I just finished a new contemporary romance Wild Child by Molly O'Keefe.  I enjoyed it, but perhaps not as much as some of the author's other books.

 

"Monica Appleby is a woman with a reputation. Once she was America’s teenage “Wild Child,†with her own reality TV show. Now she’s a successful author coming home to Bishop, Arkansas, to pen the juicy follow-up to her tell-all autobiography. Problem is, the hottest man in town wants her gone. Mayor Jackson Davies is trying to convince a cookie giant to move its headquarters to his crumbling community, and Monica’s presence is just too . . . unwholesome for business. But the desire in his eyes sends a very different message: Stay, at least for a while.
 
Jackson needs this cookie deal to go through. His town is dying and this may be its last shot. Monica is a distraction proving too sweet, too inviting—and completely beyond his control. With every kiss he can taste her loneliness, her regrets, and her longing. Soon their uncontrollable attraction is causing all kinds of drama. But when two lost hearts take a surprise detour onto the bumpy road of unexpected love, it can only lead someplace wonderful."

 

Regards,

Kareni

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What makes a book a challenge to read?  Is it the writing style, the vocabulary, the grammatical structures, the run on sentences? Or is it the content that feels like a punch to the gut?

 

My current reading is challenging--mostly because of subject matter.  Stone Upon Stone is set in rural Poland--before, during and after WWII.  The first person narrator (who speaks in stream of consciousness run on sentences) was in the resistance.  His body is broken--but not his spirit.  I continue to work my way through this chunkster.

 

Upon Eliana's recommendation, I am also reading A Train In Winter.  From occupied Poland to occupied Paris and the unsung heroines of the Resistance.

 

It is necessary for me to return to Europe during this time period periodically.  Never easy, but necessary. 

 

 

I have content lines I try not cross.  I read with fewer layers of skin between me and the book than some do, and although I filter a little better than I did as a teen, I take what I read into myself, and there are things I just don't want to live with for the rest of my life!  There are places I am unwilling to go, stories I do not want to experience.  .but I *can* read them, generally with ease, if content is the only challenge.  (When I set Purge aside, I had to hide it from myself, it was so very readable, I was devouring it, but I had already encountered one section that put me places I really really didn't want to be, with a vividness that was horrific... as I think I said before, I struggled with whether this was one of those uncomfortable stories I *should* read, so I could bear witness...)

 

I have trouble reading something that is very poorly written, where the author just can't use the language well enough to sustain what s/he is trying to do.  ...but if it is consistent and otherwise engaging, that too doesn't have to be a barrier.

 

Let me try thinking about it the other way round... I seem to be able to easily read anything that has an engaging voice, that makes me care, and that has a consistent level of prose (and that sufficient for the story/topic/level of story).  If any of those is missing, other factors - content, style, quality of prose can start to be barriers.... and it is more of an uphill pull to read.

 

...though... Jacob's Room by Virginia Woolf was a smooth, fast, satisfying read, with a challenging structure, but one that the other factors mitigated completely.  The Waves, despite how much I loved it, was much harder to read... though, perhaps, if I'd had more uninterrrupted time, and been able to just read it straight through, the incredible quality would have carried me through.

 

Kaddish for Child Not Born by Imre Kertesz was also very stream of consciousness, but and it dealt with some more painful topics than the Woolf books... but not on the level you're talking about... 

 

I think if something has a challenging structure and a number of discontinuities and a more detached flavor, then, despite the other amazing qualities, I have to either work harder or else take breaks.... especially if the content is painful.

 

Ishiguro has a novel, the names escapes me right now, that drove me batty... there were many discontinuities and much I guess it could be called magical realism (a style I don't connect well with) and a detached feeling to the narration.  I have loved the other Ishiguro I've read, but this one was a struggle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like Jane in NC, I'm also reading A Train in Winter because I saw it mentioned here (now I know to credit Eliana! I can never remember who mentioned the books I put on my hold list). I've read a lot of WWII books this year and this one is really tying together a lot of pieces in my brain. I'm understanding what happened in France a lot better, and really wishing something terrible happened to the collaborationists, but I don't think much did happen to them. I'm about half way through that one.

 

 

Far more disturbing to me than the descriptions of Birkenau and Ravensbruck were the chapters after the war had ended.

 

The author asks some excellent questions there  about where one should draw the line re: collaboration... no easy answers, but the path taken after the war pains and angers me deeply.

 

I find that I can easily read anything written in a narrative voice with a linear story line, even non-fiction or with challenging vocabulary. However, I don't like to read gut-punch books at all. By gut-punch, I mean those that are full of cruelty, brutality, and oppression.

 

The most challenging for me are books that have a random structure or no story to hold on to. I struggle through some classics that divert from the story to do chapter long  detailed descriptions of things like  architecture or governmental procedures. I also find it difficult to read books that make it hard for me to connect with the voice of the author in some way.

 

 

I've decided to read Fatu-Hiva: Back to Nature by Thor Heyerdahl. I found it in a thrift store 2 weeks ago. The story is already engaging me, so I'm happy.

 

 

 

I have been slogging through some seriously heady literature lately.  My goal for this year has been to read some of the best lit. of the 20th Century and I coming to see why it's not something I usually lean toward.  So this week I cheated a bit and chose a Non-20th Century book, Catching Fire, the second book in the Hunger Games Trilogy.  I tore right through it, it was a real page turner.  Not high a flalutin' boo by any means, but it was very attention grabbing.  I kept the "Children in Peril" theme going by reading Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card.  This one is on all the Top Sci Fi Novel lists so I wasn't cheating!  The strange thing is, while Katniss was in imminent, brutal danger, I was less disturbed by Catching Fire than I was by Ender's story.  What they did to those kids was really upsetting to me.  One of my boys is 5 and Ender started the book out at 6.  I realize he's supposed to be this blistering genius, but he is still a little boy and what they did to him really ticked me off.  

 

My Dh has been pushing Starship Troopers on me all year so I think I'll stick with the war and despair theme (I'm preparing for an IL Thanksgiving so I'm already in the mindset.)

 

 

 

1 - All The King's Men â€“ Robert Penn Warren                                                            27 - Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

2 - A Stranger in a Strange Land â€“ Robert Heinlein                                                   28 - Selected Short Stories - William Faulkner

3 - A Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood                                                                  29 - 100 Years of Solitude -  Gabriel Garcia Marquez

4 - Catcher in the Rye â€“ J.D. Salinger                                                                      30 - Dune - Frank Herbert

5 - Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury                                                                           31 - Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

6 - The Grapes of Wrath â€“ John Steinbeck                                                                32 - One Day in the Life o Ivan Desinovich -  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

7 – Murder on the Orient Express â€“ Agatha Christie                                                  33 - Beloved - Toni Morrison

8 – The Illustrated Man â€“ Ray Bradbury                                                                   34 - Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

9 – The Great Gatsby â€“ F. Scott Fitzgerald                                                                35 - Dimanche - Irene Nemirovsky

10 – The Hiding Place â€“ Corrie Ten Boom                                                                36 - Babbitt - Sinclair Lewis 

11 – The Square Foot Garden â€“ Mel Bartholomew                                                     37 - Franny and Zooey - J.D. Salinger 

12 - Catch-22- Joseph Heller                                                                                    38 - A Death in Venice - Thomas Mann

13 - Heart of Darkness- Joseph Conrad                                                                    39 -  Sister Carrie - Theodore Drieser

14 - Partners in Crime - Agatha Christie                                                                   40 -  The Trial - Franz Kafka

15 - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams                                            41 - The Sound and the Fury - William Faulkner

16 -O, Pioneers!- Willa Cather                                                                                 42 - Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera

17 - Miss Marple - The Complete Short Story Collection - Agatha Christie                 43 - Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie

18 - Ringworld - Larry Niven                                                                                  44 - Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins

19 - Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man- James Joyce                                          45 - Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card

20 - Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut

21 - To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

22 - Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin

23 - The Adventures of Augie March - Saul Bellow

24 - The War of the Worlds- H.G Wells

25 - The Girl with the Pearl Earring - Tracy Chevalier 

26 - The Golden Ball and Other Stories - Agatha Christie

 

 

 

Well, I busted my rear last night & today so I could finish my current two books, lol. (My pace certainly pales in relation to Eliana's pace! :lol: )

 

First, I finished Washington Irving's Tales of the Alhambra. I greatly enjoyed Irving's musings on life in & around the Alhambra. I'm so jealous that he actually got to *stay* there in 1829! Even though I visited the Alhambra more than 160 years after Irving did, many of his descriptions & impressions seem spot-on from when I visited it many years ago.

 

This book is a mix of his thoughts & observations, as well as various recountings of fables & tales he was told during his time there. Many of the folktales center around the time when Granada was under Arabic rule &/or tales of Boabdil (Muhammed XII of Granada) & his people existing in a frozen/enchanted state in the mountains under the Alhambra. I enjoyed Irving's non-fiction writings better than his recountings of the various fables (there was a certain amount of repetition among some of the tales). Recommended for those who enjoy travel-related lit & especially if you have an interest in Spain &/or the Alhambra.

 

Secondly, today I read Off-Topic: The Story of an Internet Revolt (link to the free .pdf) by G.R. Reader. Here's what I wrote about it on Goodreads...

 

Censorship is a hot-button topic for me. So, with this book, we're talking about the whole Goodreads/Amazon/reader dust-up & what's at stake here: freedom of speech/expression. Admittedly, Goodreads/Amazon is not the government &, therefore, some may dismiss these issues as 'not so important'; others will sit by in silence, watching what's going on but not getting involved, without voicing thoughts or opinions, thinking that the issue doesn't really affect his/her life....

 

Realistically speaking, those of us in the US live in a capitalist society, where the bottom dollar often drives choices & decisions (from corporate lobbyists working to sway our laws to citizens being told it is our patriotic duty to shop/contribute to the economy to basic needs issues such as an individual staying in a bad job to make ends meet). Corporations have big sway in our daily lives & I think the topic of freedom of speech/expression is entirely relevant & critical, not only in reference to individuals vs. governments, but also to individuals vs. corporations.

 

This is something that affects you, whether you exercise your rights or not. It is very easy to have rights erode, to be chipped away, but so much harder to restore lost freedoms.

 

The novel is an everyman account for the internet/social network era. This book is not perfect. Some of the book is a bit unclear about which posts have been deleted & so on. The book has some internet-speak/acronyms in it (which may annoy lovers of 'traditional' lit). Yet, this hastily assembled book pulls together the information about an affront to your basic rights. Goodreads readers, I'm talking to you. It's not a perfect book; I urge you to read it anyway. Read it & draw your own conclusions. Because, ultimately, this book is about you. It is for you.

 

 

 

 

On Goodreads, I gave the Off-Topic book 5 stars because it's just so painfully relevant to what is going on there. Outside of GR, I will say I think this book is really a 3 star type of read (& it's really less of a book than a put-together compendium of posts from various affected folks, plus some additional history/background thrown-in), but the issues are critically important ones (hence my much higher rating). I think this, along w/ some other stories of internet suppression & censorship, might make an interesting case study/research topic for teens.

 

Not sure what I will start reading at this point. (Hard to believe my last three books have all been non-fiction. :svengo: )

 

--------------------------

My Goodreads Page

My PaperbackSwap Page

 

My rating system:

5 = Love; 4 = Pretty awesome; 3 = Decently good; 2 = Ok; 1 = Don't bother (I shouldn't have any 1s on my list as I would ditch them before finishing)...

 

2013 Books Read:

Link to Books # 1 – 40 that I’ve read in 2013.

41. If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino (5 stars). Challenge: Continental – Europe (Italy).

42. They Call Me Naughty Lola: Personal Ads from the London Review of Books, edited by David Rose (2.5 stars). Challenge: Continental – Europe (England).

43. The Late Mattia Pascal by Luigi Pirandello (3 stars). Challenge: Continental – Europe (Italy).

44. Stoker’s Manuscript by Royce Prouty (4 stars).

45. Captain Alatriste by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (3 stars). Challenge: Continental – Europe (Spain).

46. The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry (4 stars).

47. Second Person Singular by Sayed Kashua (4 stars). Challenge: Continental – Asia (Israel).

48. The Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy (3.5 stars). Challenge: Continental – Europe/Asia (Russia).

49. The Book of the Unknown: Tales of the Thirty-Six by Jonathon Keats (3 stars).

50. Borges and the Eternal Orangutans by Luis Fernando Verissimo (5 stars). Challenge: Continental – South America (Brazil & Argentina).

 

51. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe (4 stars). Challenge: Continental – Antarctica.

52. Pym by Mat Johnson (3 stars). Challenge: Continental – Antarctica.

53. Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway (5 stars).

54. The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney by Christopher Higgs (5 stars).

55. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (3 stars).

56. The Shaman’s Coat: A Native History of Siberia by Anna Reid (3 stars). Challenge: Continental – Asia (Siberia).

57. In Search of Dracula: The History of Dracula and Vampires by Raymond T. McNally & Radu Florescu (4 stars). Challenge: Continental – Europe (Romania).

58. Remainder by Tom McCarthy (4 stars). Challenge: Dusty.

59. At the Mountains of Madness (radio/audio version) by H.P. Lovecraft (4 stars). Challenge: Continental – Antarctica.

60. The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner (5 stars).

 

61. Night of My Blood by Kofi Awoonor (3 stars). Challenge: Continental – Africa (Ghana).

62. A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny (3 stars).

63. Le Sphinx de Glaces by Jules Verne (4 stars). Challenge: Continental – Antarctica.

64. The Finno-Ugrian Vampire by Noémi Szécsi (3.5 stars). Challenge: Continental – Europe (Hungary).

65. The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen (3 stars).

66. The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers (4 stars).

67. The Dracula Tape by Fred Saberhagen (3 stars).

68. Sweet Dreams by Michael Frayn (4 stars).

69. The Flying Creatures of Fra Angelico by Antonio Tabucchi (4 stars). Challenge: Continental – Europe (Italy; Portugal).

70. Mosquito: An Omnilingual Nosferatu Pictomunication Novel by Dan James (3 stars).

 

71. Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson (4 stars).

72. Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving (4 stars). Challenge: Continental – Europe (Spain).

73. Off-Topic: The Story of an Internet Revolt by G.R. Reader (3 stars for content/5 stars for ideas).

 

 

So glad you enjoyed Embers, Eliana! You are so right in that this is a tightly-controlled, quiet yet gripping tale. This may be one I want to revisit down the road.

 

Good to hear your comments on The Whispering Muse. So, can you let me know what was disturbing/in what way w/out revealing any spoilers??? Just curious because I want to read it (want to read any Sjon, really), but want/need to brace myself if I'm heading into disturbing territory....

 

 

I've placed holds on more of Marai's books... Embers is definitely a book I want to own and revisit.

 

Well, some of the disturbing things are in the recounting of bits from the myths about Jason and the quest for the Golden Fleece (or the other ones woven in - Song of the Volsungs, frex, it is a little bit of a mashup... only more elegant and carefully thought out.). 

 

I'm very squeamish, but it wasn't outside my comfort zones.  I don't think it needs bracing... it was more understated disturbance...

 

I think you would appreciate this more than I did.  I appreciated it intellectually, but not viscerally.   ...but then I imagine this suffered by comparison with Embers, which reached me on so many different levels.

 

 

I am happy to report that my ratio of number of new books purchased (both electronic and paper) to books actually read remains a solid 3:1. I need to make a lovely stack, such as the one Negin's daughter did, so I can at least enjoy the artistry of them all as they collect dust.

 

:lol:   I guess that is the advantage of using the library so heavily for my new stacks! Eventually they have to be returned, read or not.  ...though I admit I would rather have them all sitting around here where I could read them upon impulse.

 

Hi everyone! I have not read a ton this year, although I've read through a few books in the last few weeks and hope to be picking up pace. I started Game of Thrones, as it has been on my list for quite awhile. I quickly realized that I had started it a year or so and abandoned it. I am trying to read it again, but I'm just finding it boring! Have any of you read it? Did you enjoy it or should I ditch it? It seems like quite an investment if it's not any good.

 

Many people have enjoyed this series very much.  ...but if you are on the more squeamish end (as I am!), you might want to reconsider.  I found GoT to be very grim and unpleasant... and then it got to dreadful things happening to children in ways I am not willing to 'watch'.  There have been, off and on, a number of discussions in various internet locations, about the 'grimdark' category of fantasy.  Some folks find it very satisfying and intriguing, others (myself included) just don't want to go there, those aren't the stories we want to spend time in.  ymmv  :)

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Yet another non-fiction for me! ;) The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel.

At the same time Adolf Hitler was attempting to take over the western world, his armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. The Fuehrer had begun cataloguing the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: "degenerate" works he despised.

 

In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Momuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture.

 

Focusing on the eleven-month period between D-Day and V-E Day, this fascinating account follows six Monuments Men and their impossible mission to save the world's great art from the Nazis.

It seems especially fitting that I'm starting this book because 1) of it being Veterans Day today and 2) of the cache of art recently found in Germany -- art that had been stolen/looted during WWII & had been assumed to have been destroyed (NYTimes story here about the recent find). I don't think the movie will be coming out around Christmas as originally planned; I've seen some mentions that it has been delayed & will be released sometime in 2014.

 

 

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Passenger to Teheran by Vita Sackville-West: This edition is enhanced by an informative introduction and some photos from the trip, but the text would be delightful and entrancing without any additions. 

 

 

This looks really interesting. You may know (and sorry to repeat myself) that I'm from there. Haven't been there in more than 30 years, however, nor do I plan to. 

 

Love it! (And love the purple wall too!)

Stacia, she had it recently painted. We both love purple. :)

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Started Reading:

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Smart but Scattered Teens: The "Executive Skills" Program for Helping Teens Reach Their Potential by Richard Guare

The Collected Writings (So Far) of Rick Wormeli: Crazy Good Stuff I've Learned about Teaching by Rick Wormeli

 

 

 

Still Reading:

God is Red: The Secret Story of How Christianity Survived and Flourished in Communist China by Liao Yiwu

 

 

 

Finished:

47. The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

46. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

45. Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Stories of Notorious Art Heists by Anthony Amore (American Author, DD class 700)

44. The Gospel's Power and Message by Paul Washer (American author, DD class 200)

43. They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Persuasive Writing by Gerald Graff (American author, DD class 400)

42. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (American author, DD class 800)

41. Mariana by Susanna Kearsley (Canadian author, DD class 800)

40. Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine by Eric Weiner (American author, DD class 200)

39. When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight for Joy by John Piper (American author, DD class 200)

38. Inferno by Dan Brown (American author, DD class 800)

37. That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo (American author, DD class 800)

36. The God Who is There: Finding Your Place in God's Story by D.A. Carson (Canadian author, DD class 200)

35. Sandstorm by James Rollins (American author, DD class 800)

34. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (Mexican Author, DD class 800)

33. The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost (Dutch Author, DD class 900)

32. Bill Bryson's African Diary by Bill Bryson (American author, DD class 900)

31. The Millionaires by Brad Meltzer (American author, DD class 800)

30. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (American author, DD class 800)

29.The Sherlockian by Graham Moore (American author, DD class 800)

28. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (American authors, DD class 800)

27. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (American author, DD class 900)

26. The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio (American author, DD class 800)

25. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (Ethiopian author, DD class 800)

24. Having Hard Conversations by Jennifer Abrams (American author, DD class 300)

23.The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe (American author, DD class 600)

22. The Infernal Devices #3: The Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare (American author, DD class 800)

21. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (American author, DD class 800)

20. Why Revival Tarries by Leonard Ravenhill (British author, DD class 200)

19. The Infernal Devices #2: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (American author, DD class 800)

18. The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (American author, DD class 800)

17. God's Big Picture: Tracing the Story-Line of the Bible by Vaughan Roberts (British author, DD class 200)

16.The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag: A Flavia de Luce Mystery by Alan Bradley (Canadian Author, DD Class 800)

15.The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner (American author, DD class 900)

14. Prodigy by Marie Lu (Chinese author, DD class 800)

13. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (American author, DD class 900)

12. The Disappearing Spoon: And Other Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean (American author, DD class 500)

11. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman (American Author, DD class 600)

10. A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World by Paul Miller (American author, DD class 200)

9. Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick (American author, DD class 300)

8. Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald (American author, DD class 100)

7. The Bungalow by Sarah Jio (American author, DD class 800)

6. The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen (American author, DD class 800)

5. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (American author, DD class 800)

4. The Next Story: Life and Faith After the Digital Explosion by Tim Challies (Canadian author, DD class 600)

3. The House at Riverton by Kate Morton (Australian author, DD class 800)

2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (English author, DD class 800)

1. The Dark Monk: A Hangman's Daughter Tale by Oliver Potzsch (German author, DD class 800)

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Finished James Rollins SandStorm, the first book in the Sigma Force novels. Have been skipping around in the thriller series for some odd reason, reading them entirely out of order. Good no matter what order you read them in.

 

 

Just put a hold on this. Looks great! :) I like anything that mentions Atlantis, even one in the desert.

 

Not sure if BBC is showing it in the US yet but there is a new series called Atlantis made by the Merlin producers. A bit of a mythology mash up but the dc's love it. Since a few of you have kids the same age I thought I would let you know to look for it. I actually watch while knitting which means it isn't too bad. :lol:

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Well, I have decided that Internet access is Important.  And not having it is Bad.  We have had spotty access for the last week or so and I am online now only thanks to a portable hot spot my FIL has loaned me.  My lifelines are cut and I'm floating without anchor.  Grrrr.  After this post I will call the internet provider again and pray for a truly English speaking person who can actually help me.  

 

Eliana, your quote is important to me because it describes perfectly my theory of history and literature.  I have maintained for a very long time that one cannot know modern times without knowing the history that brought these times about.  And one cannot know history, truly, without knowing what brought that history about.  And literature is an important part of understanding history and the people that lived in it and formed it.  The stories we tell tell on us, as it were.  So I launched a project, that I will never finish, of reading history and literature chronologically.  I first read an overview of the time - SWB's History of the ____ World books.  Then I delve into the period.  So far I've made it into Ancient Times, and no further.  I read HOAW, Herodotus (you all will recall how much I despised him) and am now in The Iliad.  I have a hard time making time for this project, but I do enjoy it (Herodotus notwithstanding).  I am redoubling my efforts now and hoping to make more progress. 

 

By example, I will use Turkey.  I live here in Turkey and am surrounded by the issues that you all occasionally see in your newscasts.  You might recall some protests about some trees in Taksim Square?  To understand the true issues that were being raised, you have to understand the current government, how it relates (or doesn't) to the precepts set down by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding of the Turkish Republic, and the relationship of the Turkish Republic to the West, the Ottoman Empire, and by extension, the Holy Roman Empire and Constantinople.  I kid you not.  So I need to read about the Holy Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the rise of Ataturk, who he was, what was in his "Great Speech" that everyone here knows, why Izmir burned (my city here and important to all this), and only then might I understand what's going on now.  Because this is so important and relevant to me, I did a bit of a jump and have been reading a history of the Ottoman Empire that is extremely interesting.  Once I'm done with that, I will go onto a biography of Ataturk (written by an English friend and contemporary), then his Great Speech (Nutuk).  Maybe then I'll start understanding my adopted land.  

 

Yes, I know.  I'm insane.  But that doesn't mean I'm not right.   ;)

 

In other, lighter, news, I finished People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.  Looking for the second book in the witch series at my virtual library.  Interesting, kind of weird, but fun.  Good for nights of insomnia.  I LOVED People of the Book and will look for more of Brooks' works as well.  

 

That's all from my little corner of the madhouse....

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I read two this week:

 

49. The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley - Continuing on with Flavia. Love her!

 

50. In the Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith (Audio) - I kept having the sense that I'd read this one before. Maybe I did? I always like the No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books for their simplicity and insight to human nature. Lots of little chuckle moments but not so intense that I hate having to put it down.

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Hi everyone! I have not read a ton this year, although I've read through a few books in the last few weeks and hope to be picking up pace. I started Game of Thrones, as it has been on my list for quite awhile. I quickly realized that I had started it a year or so and abandoned it. I am trying to read it again, but I'm just finding it boring! Have any of you read it? Did you enjoy it or should I ditch it? It seems like quite an investment if it's not any good.

 

I really enjoyed Game of Throne and the rest of the series.  I like books with complicated, interwoven character lines and the pacing kept me up really late pulling a "just one more chapter then I'll go to sleep" number.  I prefer the Fantasy genre so that probably helped.  Things start to happen pretty fast, so maybe give it a few chapters, at least until they get to King's Landing.

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Gone Girl was hard for me to get into also.  Many times I almost gave up, and then I would get sucked in again.   It dragged in more than one place for me.  I'm interested to hear  your thoughts on the book.

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I just finished a new contemporary romance Wild Child by Molly O'Keefe.  I enjoyed it, but perhaps not as much as some of the author's other books.

Regards,

Kareni

Thanks for the review. I'm waiting for this to come in from the library.

 

  

NEPK8OoL3iAxTP_1_1.jpg

 

Yet another non-fiction for me! ;) The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel.

 

Just requested this--thanks! I enjoy a good piece of narrative nonfiction :)

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I think I'll have to add Embers and A Train in Winter to my "want to read" list, which is getting long. :)

 

I'm half way through Kafka on the Shore.  It's more bizarre than Wind up Bird Chronicle or 1Q84, but still, I'm enjoying it.

 

When I'm done this I was thinking of trying a good murder mystery with some romance involved, but I'm clueless where to start.  It's not my normal type of book to read. I'm thinking something like the books on Castle. :D  Would that be Grisham? Patterson?  I'll need something easy and fun after Murakami.

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Giraffe -- I admire your self education attempts in order to understand your new homeland. I am constantly trying to figure out the background of seemingly random things in my new land. I love it when I find a book that explains something I have wondered about. I imagine my "why" questions would multiply hugely if living in Turkey!

 

I did not love the second book in the Discovery of Witches series. The first was great but the second a bit blah.imo Looking forward to your review!

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I will eventually read the other Murakami's because I really enjoyed 1Q84. Probably this should be one of my 2014 challenges. One thing that has me puzzled is Kafka on the Shore appears on several AP lists for lit. The reviews I read make it appear to be an unusual choice. Definately need to read that one!

 

If you want good suspense mixed with a bit of romance go with Grisham. I recently read The Racketeer and enjoyed it. The Pelican Brief is an all time favorite!

 

I think I'll have to add Embers and A Train in Winter to my "want to read" list, which is getting long. :)

 

I'm half way through Kafka on the Shore.  It's more bizarre than Wind up Bird Chronicle or 1Q84, but still, I'm enjoying it.

 

When I'm done this I was thinking of trying a good murder mystery with some romance involved, but I'm clueless where to start.  It's not my normal type of book to read. I'm thinking something like the books on Castle. :D  Would that be Grisham? Patterson?  I'll need something easy and fun after Murakami.

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Gone Girl was hard for me to get into also.  Many times I almost gave up, and then I would get sucked in again.   It dragged in more than one place for me.  I'm interested to hear  your thoughts on the book.

Gone Girl was not a favorite of mine either. I read a great deal of mystery/suspense type novels and it felt a bit gimmicky to me. Sort of how to make a best seller..... I totally agree it dragged until it was time for the next big reveal, many of which were predictable. Definately won't be on my favorites for 2013!

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This is an interesting comment, especially in light of the Goodreads issues. One of the topics that has been a problem is that the company now wants people not to talk about the authors (unless its in a good light &/or directly relates to the book). So, say there is a convicted pedophile who wrote a children's book... some find this relevant info to post/share on GR because that reader refuses to spend his/her money supporting that person. (This is based off a true scenario over there.) GR deletes comments in that vein or even if it is deemed that you have shelved books in a way that is against an author. (So, perhaps you have created a shelf titled 'no-no books for me' or something like that. If 'they', the powers that be, decide your shelf system is somehow making a statement on the authors, they will delete your entire shelf. But, really, how can they know your intent? Maybe you don't want to read books that talk about rape or other topics that are personal triggers for you & you flag ones that you know you don't want to read by filing it on a shelf to make sure you can avoid them. Is is up to the powers that be to divine your intent?)

 

Many times I do not know about the author. But, sometimes, I do find it relevant, esp. if my purchase of a book (admittedly rare for me) will be supporting someone with whom I do not agree nor support on critical issues.

 

Sorry to go off-topic, but I find these areas interesting to mull over.

 

I hadn't heard this about Goodreads and had to google to understand the controversy.  Thank you for bringing it to my attention. :)

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I will eventually read the other Murakami's because I really enjoyed 1Q84. Probably this should be one of my 2014 challenges. One thing that has me puzzled is Kafka on the Shore appears on several AP lists for lit. The reviews I read make it appear to be an unusual choice. Definately need to read that one!

 

If you want good suspense mixed with a bit of romance go with Grisham. I recently read The Racketeer and enjoyed it. The Pelican Brief is an all time favorite!

 

 

I can understand why it's on the AP lists.  I don't want to give anything away, but the book itself it an interesting intersection of old and new Japanese culture and history.  And it's impressive how much he fits into that book.  It's 466 pgs, but every word is carefully chosen.  It's packed.  

 

I may need to go back and reread 1Q84.  I enjoyed it, but I think I may understand it better once I finish this book.  But rereading takes so much time.....and there are so many books I want to read.....:) 

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Kafka on the Shore seems an intriguing choice for AP lists.

 

I love Kafka on the Shore more than 1Q84 (love both, though). Kafka is more offbeat & surreal, whereas 1Q84 seems closer to traditional or mainstream (if Murakami can ever be accused of that). Still, for a star rating, I actually rated 1Q84 higher because of the technical skill & artistry of the story. Kafka has the more intriguing characters & plot, imo, & is more fun to read.

 

Hmmmm. Definitely need to read more Murakami soon.

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From last week's discussions:

 

...

 

They are both very silly books!  ...in the best sense of the word.  :)  They aren't my favorite silly books from that period, but they are well worth reading, imho.

...

 

Reading that link, I see that the narrator's gender is not specified in the Hungarian.  That is fascinating. 

 

I'm wondering if the problem I had with the book was, least partially, the translation?

 

It felt too much on a single note, so after a while, the humor, the engaging voice, the intriguing pieces stopped working as well for me.

 

...

 

Dearly though I love Middlemarch, it isn't for everyone! 

 

That quote makes me want to reconsider Cloud Atlas...

 

I've put Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress on hold...

 

Yes. I found that part so moving.  And it made me think about the different kinds of stories I am am drawn to at different times in my life. 

 

Good silly is just what I may be looking for as the season gets busier & busier.

 

I always wonder how translations are -- they can certainly make or break a book, a feeling, & so on. What an incredible job to have.

 

HehHeh. Glad to know Middlemarch won't be required reading for me. :tongue_smilie:

 

Did you consider Cloud Atlas at one time & then decide not to read it? I do highly recommend it. Really loved it. I'm not sure it would be your favorite, Eliana, but on the other hand, I think there are many things you could really appreciate & love about Mitchell's incredible novel. Here's another random quote that I love from Cloud Atlas...

 

 

"Other nights, Ayrs likes me to read him poetry, especially his beloved Keats. He whispers the verses as I recite, as if his voice is leaning on mine."

 

 

Ishiguro has a novel, the names escapes me right now, that drove me batty... there were many discontinuities and much I guess it could be called magical realism (a style I don't connect well with) and a detached feeling to the narration.  I have loved the other Ishiguro I've read, but this one was a struggle.

 

...

 

I've placed holds on more of Marai's books... Embers is definitely a book I want to own and revisit.

 

Well, some of the disturbing things are in the recounting of bits from the myths about Jason and the quest for the Golden Fleece (or the other ones woven in - Song of the Volsungs, frex, it is a little bit of a mashup... only more elegant and carefully thought out.). 

 

I'm very squeamish, but it wasn't outside my comfort zones.  I don't think it needs bracing... it was more understated disturbance...

 

I think you would appreciate this more than I did.  I appreciated it intellectually, but not viscerally.   ...but then I imagine this suffered by comparison with Embers, which reached me on so many different levels.

 

If you think of the Ishiguro novel, please do tell. I'm quite curious. (Love Ishiguro myself.)

 

Haven't tried others of Marai's books but I do want to....

 

Ah, thanks for the clarification on The Whispering Muse.

 

Giraffe -- I admire your self education attempts in order to understand your new homeland.

 

:iagree:

 

I hadn't heard this about Goodreads and had to google to understand the controversy.  Thank you for bringing it to my attention. :)

 

You're welcome. I like my little soapbox. :laugh:

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This week on finish book number 64, Frankenstein. I really enjoyed this book. It was nothing like I expected, but what a great example of classic. The themes of the novel are as highly applicable to today as they were when the book was written. In terms of scientific advancement there is always that question of not can I do it, but should I do it.

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I read The Epic of Gilgamesh, which I thought was okay, but too repetitive.

 

And I read Polyglot: How I Learn Languages, which was fun, easy to read and interesting. This was written by a woman who learned 16 languages, many of which she didn't start learning until she was in her 30s or 40s, and became an interpreter. It's a mix of memoir and an explanation of her language-learning methods and ideas. A pdf version of the book is free here.

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I decided that I just didn't care enough about the library books on my Kindle, so I went ahead and turned the wi-fi back on.  Now I have all the new stuff downloaded.  And I'm not in the mood to read.  :(

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And I read Polyglot: How I Learn Languages, which was fun, easy to read and interesting. This was written by a woman who learned 16 languages, many of which she didn't start learning until she was in her 30s or 40s, and became an interpreter. It's a mix of memoir and an explanation of her language-learning methods and ideas. A pdf version of the book is free here.

 

Thanks for the link.  Polyglot looks so interesting!

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This week on finish book number 64, Frankenstein. I really enjoyed this book. It was nothing like I expected, but what a great example of classic. The themes of the novel are as highly applicable to today as they were when the book was written. In terms of scientific advancement there is always that question of not can I do it, but should I do it.

:thumbup1: Totally agree.

And I read Polyglot: How I Learn Languages, which was fun, easy to read and interesting. This was written by a woman who learned 16 languages, many of which she didn't start learning until she was in her 30s or 40s, and became an interpreter. It's a mix of memoir and an explanation of her language-learning methods and ideas. A pdf version of the book is free here.

Sounds neat. Btw, I can't get the link to work correctly.... :confused:

I decided that I just didn't care enough about the library books on my Kindle, so I went ahead and turned the wi-fi back on. Now I have all the new stuff downloaded. And I'm not in the mood to read. :(

Hope you find your reading groove soon!

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