avatiakh attempts 12 in 12
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I've spent a bit of time trying to plan my categories so that they match my reading habits but include an element of challenge.
This will be my 4th year doing the challenge and I really enjoy having this focus. I'm not setting the number of books per category, though I hope to read at least 6 books in each one. I'll possibly divide some categories into adult and YA/childrens sections as I read a lot of YA/children's lit.
1) Favourite Writers & Rereads 13/12
2) Israel & the Diaspora 11/12
3) Australia 12/12
4) New Zealand 20/12
5) Fact not Fiction 8/12
6) Short n' Sweet 4/12
7) Neverending Stories - series 14/12
8) God is Back - religious themes/retellings in fiction 2/12
9) Big Boys - chunksters / omnibus editions 2/12
10) The Crowded Nest - Mt tbr 14/12
11) The Lists - booklists, longlists, shortlists, award winners etc 10/12
12) Dropbox - anything goes 24/12
Baker's Dozen bonus Category - graphic novels & picturebooks 14/12
My current reading can be followed here:
My 75 Books Challenge for 2012: avatiakh tackles Mt tbr in 2012 #4
My Orange January/July 2012 challenge is here
Links back into 2011:
My 75 books challenge part 4 where I'm up to 211 books so far and still reading
1) Favourite Writers & Rereads:
I like to revisit some writers such as Graham Greene and Jane Austen from time to time and with Greene there are still a few I have yet to read. Also I want to continue reading newer favourites.
(RR) will denote a re-read
1) Persuasion by Jane Austen (RR) - finished 09 Jan
2) Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (RR) - finished 14 Feb
3) The Confidential Agent by Graham Greene - finished 19 Mar
4) The Captain and the Enemy by Graham Greene - finished 21 Mar
5) The third Man by Graham Greene - finished 28 Apr
6) The Waiting Game by Bernice Rubens - finished 07 Jul
7) Stonemouth by Iain Banks - finished 01 Aug
1) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling (RR) - finished 08 Jan
2) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling (RR) - finished 02 Mar
3) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling (RR) - finished 18 Mar
4) Life: an exploded diagram by Mal Peet - finished 19 Mar
5) The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson - finished 06 Sep
6) The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones - finished 29 Sep
The Ministry of Fear by Graham Greene
The Spanish Bride by Georgette Heyer (RR)
A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth
Smiley's People by John Le Carre (RR)
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
Bloodsong by Melvin Burgess
2) Israel & the Diaspora
Books by Israeli writers, Jewish writers or about Israel or the Jewish world. I have many many holocaust themed books on my tbr but also want to read modern Israeli fiction.
1) The Red Magician by Lisa Goldstein - finished 13 Feb
2) Path of the Orange Peels by Nahum Gutman - finished 20 Feb
3) The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman - finished 04 Apr
4) Under the Domim Tree by Gil Almagor - finished 20 May
5) The Jump Artist by Austin Ratner - finished 29 May
6) Suddenly a knock on the door by Etger Keret - finished 10 Jun
7) Disobedience by Naomi Alderman - finished 13 Jul
8) Only Yesterday by S Y Agnon - finished 13 Jul
9) What we talk about when we talk about Anne Frank by Nathan Englander - finished 15 Jul
10) I am forbidden by Anouk Markovits - finished 07 Aug
11) The Same Sea by Amos Oz - finished 13 Sep
The River Midnight by Lilian Nattel
A Journey to the end of the Millenium by A.B. Yehoshua
Great House by Nicole Krauss
Homesick by Eshkol Nevo
Thirty-Three Candles by David Horowitz
Samir And Yonatan by Daniella Carmi
I had a Down Under category in 2011 which included books from New Zealand and Australia, but now I want to separate the two countries and delve deeper into their respective literatures. I hope to read books by Peter Carey, Rodney Hall, Thomas Keneally, Gail Jones, Patrick White as well as lots of YA and children's books.
1) Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey - finished 18 Apr
2) A Man you can bank on by Derek Hansen - finished 09 May
3) Dragon Man by Garry Disher - finished 19 Aug
4) Love, honour and O'Brien by Jennifer Rowe - finished 02 Sep
5) Kittyhawk Down by Garry Disher - finished 21 Sep
1) Walkabout by James Vance Marshall - finished 15 Jan
2) A confusion of princes by Garth Nix - finished 20 Mar
3) A brief history of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper - finished 25 Apr
4) The FitzOsbornes in exile by Michelle Cooper - finished 04 May
5) Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan - finished 13 Jun
6) The Bamboo Flute by Garry Disher - finished 03 Jul
7) Queen of the Night by Leanne Hall - finished 12 Sep
The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey
Just Relations, Silence or The last love story by Rodney Hall
The French Tutor by Judith Armstrong
Notorious by Roberta Lowing
Black Mirror by Gail Jones
The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith by Thomas Keneally
The Vivisector by Patrick White
Breath by Tim Winton
Crow Country by Kate Constable
Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta
To browse through:
Australian Classics: 50 great writers and their celebrated works by Jane Gleeson-White
4) New Zealand
Every year as I attend the Auckland Readers and Writers Festival I'm exposed to so many interesting homegrown writers, so I need to read more and more from my stockpile of NZ fiction - Emily Perkins, Nigel Cox, Owen Marshall, Sue Orr, Janet Frame etc etc
1) Death of a superhero by Anthony McCarten - finished 14 Apr
2) In the absence of heroes by Anthony MCarten - finished 20 May
3) Rangatira by Paula Morris - finished 27 May
4) Owls do Cry by Janet Frame - finished 27 Aug
1) Assault by Brian Falkner - finished 21 Jan
2) Yes by Deborah Burnside - finished 02 Mar
3) The Half Life of Ryan Davis by Melinda Szymanik - finished 05 Mar
4) The Flytrap Snaps by Johanna Knox - finished 08 Mar
5) Nest of Lies by Heather McQuillan - finished 08 Mar
6) Calling the Gods by Jack Lasenby - finished 13 Mar
7) Super Finn by Leonie Agnew - finished 14 Mar
8) The Bridge by Jane Higgins - finished 29 Mar
9) Iris's ukelele by Kathy Taylor - finished 30 Mar
10) Finder's Shore by Anna MacKenzie - finished 07 Apr
11) Dirt Bomb by Fleur Beale - finished 14 Apr
12) Earth Dragon, fire hare by Ken Catran - finished 26 May
13) The loblolly boy and the sorcerer by James Norcliffe - finished 06 Jun
14) The scent of apples by Jacquie McRae - finished 29 Jun
15) Ransomwood by Sherryl Jordan - finished 18 Jul
16) Red Rocks by Rachael King - finished 03 Aug
17) Steel Pelicans by Des Hunt - finished 25 Oct
Novel about my wife by Emily Perkins
Magpie Hall by Rachael King
The God Boy by Ian Cross
Tarzan Presley by Nigel Cox
Gifted by Patrick Evans
The Larnachs by Owen Marshall
Somebody Loves us all by Damien Wilkins
Hand me down world by Lloyd Jones
Baby no-eyes by Patricia Grace
Quinine by Kelly Ana Morey
Lunch with the Generals by Derek Hansen
Billie's Kiss by Elizabeth Knox
The Shattering by Karen Healey
Again the Bugles Blow by Ron Bacon
5) Fact not Fiction
I have a tutored read planned with Dr Neutron over on the 75 challenge group, he is going to help me read through Gödel, Escher, Bach: an eternal golden braid. If I can get through this one, I'll be adding mainly literary memoirs/biographies and travel memoirs to the mix.
1) How to play a video game by Pippin Barr - finished 17 Jan
2) Twelve minutes of love: a tango story by Kapka Kassabova - finished 11 Mar
3) My family and other animals by Gerald Durrell - finished 21 Apr
4) Phantoms on the bookshelves by Jaques Bonnet - finished 23 May
5) The sweet life in Paris by David Lebovitz - finished 03 Jun
6) Life by Keith Richards - finished 08 Jun
7) The Whispering Land by Gerald Durrell - finished 22 Jun
8) Robert Capa: the definitive collection by Richard Whelan - finished 06 Sep
Gödel, Escher, Bach: an eternal golden braid by Douglas Hofstadter
6) Short n' Sweet
Since joining LT I've really dived in and started enjoying short story collections, so here is my spot for adding anything short - collections, essays, anthologies, folk/fairy tales.
1) American Ghosts and Old World Wonders by Angela Carter - finished 19 Jan
2) Proxopera a tale of Modern Ireland by Benedict Kiely - finished 18 Mar
3) The Metamorphosis by Frank Kafka - finished 18 Apr
4) The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufman - finished 27 Apr
Walk the Blue Fields by Claire Keegan (Ireland)
My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead: great love stories - ed. Jeffrey Eugenides (US)
From under the overcoat by Sue Orr (NZ)
Selected stories of Patricia Highsmith by Patricia Highsmith
7) Neverending stories
I have so many series on the go, so this is where a few must come to an end. My focus will be on Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music of Time and Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles. Hopefully this is where I can also place a few fantasy and scifi books.
1) The Necropolis Railway by Andrew Martin (Jim Stringer #1) - finished 15 Jan
2) The Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett (Lymond #3) - finished 07 Feb
3) Absolution Gap by Alastair Reynolds (Revelation Space #4) - finished 08 Feb
4) Instruments of Darkness by Robert Wilson (Bruce Medway #1) - finished 25 Mar
5) The Age of Doubt by Andrea Camilleri (Montalbano #14) - finished 09 Jul
6) The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books #3) - finished 04 Aug
7) Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch (Peter Grant #3) - finished 14 Aug
8) The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds (Revelation Space #5) - finished 16 Aug
1) Finder's Shore by Anna MacKenzie (Sea-wreck stranger #3) - finished 09 Apr
2) Insurgent by Veronica Roth (Divergent #2) - finished 28 Jun
3) The Hidden Gallery by Maryrose Wood (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #2) - finished 06 Jul
4) The Unseen Guest by Maryrose Wood (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #3) - finished 17 Jul
5) Celandine by Steve Augarde (Touchstone #2) - finished 13 Aug
6) Winter Wood by Steve Augarde (Touchstone #3) - finished 25 Aug
The Valley of Bones by Anthony Powell (DttMoT #7)
The State of the Art by Iain M. Banks (Culture #3)
A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire #4)
Ironhand by Charlie Fletcher (Stoneheart #2)
8) God is Back
I noticed when looking at some of my fiction books that there was a recurring theme of retelling biblical stories or mythologies so I thought it might be interesting to focus on a few of these books, and actually reading God is Back which has been on my tbr pile since listening to Adrian Wooldridge talk a couple of years ago.
1) God is Back: How the global revival of faith is changing the World by John Micklethwait & Adrian Wooldridge - finished 13 Jun
2) The Fire Gospel by Michael Faber - finished 04 Sep
2) Ragnarok: The End of the Gods by A S Byatt (UK)
3) The Book of Rachael by Leslie Cannold (Aust)
4) The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman (UK)
5) The Four Wise Men by Michel Tournier (Fr)
6) Not wanted on the voyage by Timothy Findley (Canada)
7) My name was Judas by C.K. Stead (NZ)
9) Big Boys
I tend to avoid chunksters or omnibus editions when doing this challenge but now that I've lowered my hit rate per category there is a place once again for these monsters.
1) Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes - READING
2) Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton - finished 18 Sep
1) The Circle by Sara Elfgren & Mats Strandberg (596pgs) - finished 02 Aug
King Hereafter by Dorothy Dunnett
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Penman
The Once and Future King by T.H. White
10) The Crowded Nest
Mt tbr must be tackled and here's where I'll throw all the odds n ends as I read from the mountain. Criteria: I need to have owned the book for at least two years or it has to have been published at least 5 years ago. No place for the new or shiny here.
1) Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon - finished 26 Mar
2) Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami - finished 08 Apr
3) Ethan Fromme by Edith Wharton - finished 24 Apr
4) The Fairy Gunmother by Daniel Pennac - finished 12 May
5) Brief interviews with hideous men by David Foster Wallace - finished 20 May
6) Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson - finished 12 Jul
7) Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban - finished 23 July
8) The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson - finished 16 Aug
9) Never let me go by Kazuo Ishiguro - finished 18 Aug
10) The Helmet of Horror by Victor Pelevin - finished 02 Sep
1) Eye of the wolf by Daniel Pennac - finished 10 Apr
2) Box by Penelope Todd - finished 17 Apr
3) Atherton: the House of Power by Patrick Carman - finished 03 May
4) The Diddakoi by Rumer Godden - finished 15 Aug
A Means of Grace by Edith Pargeter
A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes
The Gentle Falcon by Hilda Lewis
11) The Lists
- booklists, longlists, shortlists, award winners. I needed a spot for all the wonderful books that get buzzed about by LTers who read from the 1001 books, Booker Prize Longlists, the Guardian 1000 Books List, the Orange Prize etc etc. Also I can place translated fiction here as a lot of excellent books end up on the International IMPAC DUBLIN Literary Award Longlist each year.
I also source a fair bit of reading from 501 Writers, 1001 Children's books you must read before you grow up, Rough Guide to Cult Fiction etc etc.
1) The Hunter by Julia Leigh (Orange Prize longlist, 2000), (Aust) - finished 06 Jan
2) How the soldier repairs the gramophone by Saša Stanišic (International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Longlist, 2010, Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction finalist (2009), Bremer Literaturpreis for Förderpreis (2007)), (Germany/Bosnia) - finished 23 Jun
3) Gillespie and I by Jane Harris (2012 Orange Prize longlist) - finished 08 Jul
4) The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (2012 Orange Prize winner) - finished 28 Jul
5) Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz (Nobel Prize 1988) - finished 01 Sep
1) Reach by Hugh Brown (Tessa Duder Award, 2011), (NZ) - finished 21 Apr
2) The trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly (Newbery Medal, 1929), (US) - finished 23 Apr
3) The hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O'Shea (1001 children's books you must read before you grow up) finished 30 Jun
4) This is shyness by Leanne Hall (Text Prize for YA & Children's writing, 2009) - finished 11 Aug
5) Varjak Paw by SF Said (Smarties Prize Gold Award 2003) - finished 29 Aug
1) The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst (Booker Prize longlist, 2011), (UK)
2) The Restraint of Beasts by Magnus Mills (Booker Prize shortlist, 1998), (UK)
3) And the land lay still by James Robertson (Scottish Book of the Year, 2010), (UK)
4) A visit from the goon squad by Jennifer Egan (Pullitzer Prize, 2011), (US)
5) Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis (1001 Books/Guardian 1000), (Greece)
6) The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andrić (Nobel, 1961), (Serbia)
1) River Boy by Tim Bowler (Carnegie Medal, 1997)
2) The Lark on the Wing by Elfrida Vipont (Carnegie Medal, 1950)
My 'anything goes' category, a catch-all for the new and shiny, the library books that jump at me from the shelves, the books I just simply 'must read' now.
1) The Concert Ticket by Olga Grushin - finished 05 Jan
2) Iron House by John Hart - finished 11 Jan (Group Read - Jan)
3) Don't look back by Karin Fossum - finished Jan 25
4) Translation is a Love Affair by Jacques Poulin - finished 04 Feb
5) The boy in the suitcase by Lene Kaaberbøl - finished 27 Mar
6) Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal - finished 04 Apr
7) Me and You by Niccolo Ammaniti - finished 04 Apr
8) Mister Blue by Jaques Poulin - finished 03 May
9) The Whispering Muse by Sjon - finished 27 Aug
10) The Cry of the Go-Away Bird by Andrea Eames - finished 07 Sep
1) Giuseppe by Kurt Held - finished 20 Jan
2) Why we broke up by Daniel Handler - finished 01 Feb
3) Between shades of gray by Ruta Sepetys - finished 06Mar
4) Divergent by Veronica Roth - finished 12 Mar
5) Children of the Red King by Madeleine Polland - finished 21 Mar
6) Blood Red Road by Moira Young - finished 07 Apr
7) Cinder by Marissa Meyer - finished 08 Apr
8) The other side of the island by Allegra Goodman - finished 10 Apr
8) Dark warning by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick - finished 12 Apr
9) Dirty little secrets by CJ Omololu - finished 21 Apr
10) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - finished 27 Apr
11) Icefall by Matthew Kirby - finished 09 June
12) Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo - finished 05 Jul
13) The Dungeon by Lynne Reid Banks - finished 05 Aug
14) The Outlaw Varjak Paw by SF Said - finished 10 Sep
15) Earwig and the witch by Diana Wynne Jones - finished 16 Sep
16) Far away across the sea by Toon Tellegen
17) Kamo's escape by Danial Pennac - finished 17 Sep
Votan by John James - because I just managed to score a copy of this after a couple of years hunting.
13) Baker's Dozen Bonus:
A place to record picturebooks & graphic novels.
The Speed Abater by Christophe Blain (1999) - finished Jan06
The Push Man & other stories by Yoshiro Tatsumi (1969/2005) - finished Jan 15
Good-bye by Yoshiro Tatsumi (1975/2008) - finished Jan 16
Klezmer: Tales of the Wild East by Joann Sfar - finished Feb 01
Level Up by Gene Luen Yang - finished Feb 06
Nelson edited by Rob Davis - finished Mar 03
Same difference by Derek Kirk Kim - finished Mar 03
Aya by Marguerite Abouet
A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi - finished 14 Mar
Aya of Yop City by Marguerite Abouet - finished 14 Mar
Aya: the secrets come out by Marguerite Abouet - finished 14 Mar
Market Day by James Sturm - finished 16 Sep
Not the Israel my parents promised me by Harvey Pekar - finished 17 Sep
The Sigh by Marjane Satrapi - finished Feb 06
The Conductor by Laetitia Devernay - finished Feb 04
A ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka - finished Feb 02
No dogs allowed by Linda Ashman - finished Feb 02
Running with the Horses by Alison Lester - finished Mar05
Fearless by Colin Thompson - finished 24 Apr
Fearless in love by Colin Thompson - finished 24 Apr
I can't wait by Davide Cali - June
What is this thing called love by Davide Cali - June
Piano piano by Davide Cali - June
The cats in Krasinski Square by Karen Hesse
Poonam's Pets by Andrew Davies
The enemy: a Peace book by Davide Cali
Anna Hibiscus' song by Atinuke and Lauren Tobia
Azzi In Between by Sarah Garland
Hi Kerry, good to see you here for another year. Good categories, I'm looking forward to following along.
Nice categories and I look forward to following your reading... in particular your Australian and New Zealand books as my knowledge of authors and books from those countries is truly lacking.
Some great categories and wonderful images. I've got you starred.
Looking forward to stalking you again - starred! Great pics too; I love the one for Mt. TBR - that's exactly what it feels like - and the photo from "A Masked Ball" is a classic!
Thanks, I'm now trying to finish up my 11in11, just a few more books to go but I do get sidetracked out of my categories so easily.
Kerry - enormously creative as usual - love the pics for each section. Starred and will follow your majestic progress avidly.
As Paul says, really fun and creative categories. I love your images too. You've named many novels in your lists of possibilities that I'd like to read in 2012 as well. Too many to mention right now as my poor Coco is desperate for a walk, but I'll come back to note them so that we can *possibly* plan shared reads... with the TIOLI attitude firmly in place of course!
Love the categories and the potential titles. And the word "chunkster". I've got to start working that into conversations. Starred, I'll be following with interest. By the way, if you need any inspiration for Australian books, pop over to the Australian States and Territories Challenge. I'm sure it will provide some inspiration, and that your reading will provide some for me too.
Edited to fix all manner of errors (much too late for typing)
That picture for your Big Boy category - is that real? If so, where is it? That is a really cool picture. I will be interested in your comments on the Australian and New Zealand books. I woefully know next to nothing about literature from your part of the world.
Hi mamzel, yes it's real, I googled big books. Check this out.
There are a few of us with Australian and NZ categories this year.
Hi Kerry. I've got you starred. Love your categories. You always seem to find the most interesting graphics. Where do you get them?
Happy holidays and happy reading!
Mamzel - that link in #28 will work now.
Kelly - I thought of many different categories before settling on these. I've tried to keep most of them fairly open as I usually score a D- on my ability to stay on track for a 12 month period.
I search for images with google, for Australia I added art and aboriginal and browsed. I try different combinations to turn up unlikely images. The first one I think I searched for books + paper sculptures. It takes a couple of hours of looking and is quite a fun way to waste an evening or afternoon.
Israel & diaspora - I looked for Chagall, as I have that print in my living room.
Dropbox - I just started using this software
I'm now wondering which book to start the year with....
Thanks for fixing that link. What an amazing stage! That designer had some imagination. For a choice of your first book I've got to say you can't go wrong with Harry Potter.
Kerry, I've made another vow to post more often. Perhaps 2012 will be the year I succeed. I always enjoy your reviews, and we have common interests. Have starred your page.
Just popped by to click the star. Two more days before liftoff, wheeee :)
You've got great categories ( and pics to go with them ) - here's to another year of great reading!
Planned reading for January:
I read for several different themes across LT groups, so my first book will be The Hunter by Julia Leigh for my The Lists category, it was on the Orange Prize Long List in 2000 and is also my Orange January read.
I'm also participating in the Reading Globally theme read for Turkey and the Balkans and my picks will also fit my Lists category.
How the soldier repairs the gramophone by Saša Stanišic was on the Dublin IMPAC longlist.
I've also made a start on one of my series books, The Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnet, Lymond Chronicles #3.
I am finding it hard to make time to pick up a book and actually read at the moment - too busy reading and posting on threads.
too busy reading and posting on threads.
I'm finding the same thing, Kerry. It seems to be taking me far too much time to try and stay current with all the various threads! Hopefully it will calm down soon.
A huge thanks for putting me onto A Monster Calls. I have just finished it and loved it.
Kerry and DeltaQueen50 - I did not feel like reading tonight, so here I am catching up on what everyone else is reading. Sometimes you need a break.
@36&37 I'm definitely starting to fall behind on reading other people's threads!
I'll be interested to hear how you get on with Godel, Escher, Bach. I began it several years ago, but never finished. Might have to take it off the shelf again.
I'm still trying to decide if I'll follow threads of 75ers who are also in the 12/12. I'm very tempted to because of all the different discussions, but then I can't keep up with the other group as it is! Just curious Kerry, what do you do?
Ilana - I follow on both groups for a few people as the conversations differ and here is so less hectic. And then there are others I only follow here, probably as we don't read similar books and this group has a slower pace. I wasn't so good this past year at following everyone in this group so am trying to visit the group itself this year instead of using the starred threads feature which has been my downfall in the past as it moves too fast with all the 75ers' postings. I also follow a few interesting threads in Club Read each year.
I gave up early last year on trying to follow everyone with fellow interests over on the 75 group - it does your head in. Some threads just move too fast for me and even though I like the people if their thread is all talk and few books, I just skim their threads once every week or two. Some of the book talk is really interesting but I don't join the discussion as it takes time for my brain to crank into gear and my responses are more likely enthusiastic gushing than anything truly cerebral.
I'm not willing to devote the time, especially when I think of all the other projects I'm neglecting. We're all in the same boat over there. Every now and then I find a new-to-me 75 thread that's of interest and go back and read their whole year of posts.
#37,39,40: I've just finished my first book for the year so feel a little better now.
#41: I'm nervous about this and will be starting in March. It's sat on my shelves for a few years now so I just have to tackle it. I'll be attempting a tutored read and will put a link to that here when I get started.
It is nice to have both. I sometimes "miss" something on the 75 group when I'm in a hurry, but with some of the same folks over here, I usually "catch up".
I think keeping up here is more than a handful. I don't know how you people that are also in the 75-ers manage!
I also have Godel, Escher, Bach on my list but not on the shelf so very interested in reviews of it
I do the same thing as Kerry, Ilana. I mostly concentrate on this group, and do the best I can on the 75ers. It is difficult since it's so chatty over there, but that's what I like about it. If I'm looking for more book talk I stick over here. And I do try to follow both threads for people if I can, but I don't sweat it when I get behind by a week or two in one or the other.
I did not join the 75 group this year because I felt I'd be more apt to keep my own page updated if I focused on this one instead. I know I'll read 75 books - no problem there.
The Concert Ticket by Olga Grushin (2010)
I've been wanting to read this since gaskella blogged about it in May 2010, and because I find the cover so darn appealing - I want that coat. The US title is The Line.
The setting is Moscow and the time period is undefined, Grushin states in the historical notes that she borrows from three eras - Stalin's 1930s, Krushchev's late 50s-early 60s and Brezhnev's 1970s. The storyline is based on a historic 1964 concert given by Stravinsky after more than 50 years in exile, the line for tickets began a year before the concert and a complex social strata evolved. Grushin has taken this and built a truly beautiful story revolving around a family, the neighbourhood and a year of queueing at a nearby kiosk. This will be one of my memorable reads for the year - a great start and I'm looking forward to her The Dream Life of Sukhanov which resides on my tbr.
The hunter by Julia Leigh (1999)
fiction, Orange January
I read this for Orange January and can't really remember why I decided on this one, possibly I read a review and was intrigued by the description of psychological thriller set round a Tasmanian hunting trip. There is much to admire in this, but it won't be to everyone's taste. The hunter comes to a small settlement by a National Park, he's been sent by a faceless corporation to hunt down a Tasmanian tiger, supposedly extinct but a reliable sighting of one has been made. The story centres around the hunter and his solitary treks into the wilderness, his contemplation of his life as he spends night after night waiting by his traps. It's rather grim with a menacing atmosphere and she does damaged, broken families rather well.
This was made into a movie starring William Dafoe and Sam Neill last year.
The Speed Abater by Christophe Blain (1999)
graphic novel, France
"Like Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut, Blain uses the irrationality of war to explore the fragility of life and society. An intriguing tale with plenty of humor and insight." School library Journal.
First time navel cadets are on 'The Bellicose' during wartime and seem to be on a secret mission involving a submarine. To escape being seasick they climb down towards the engine room and find themselves in a massive labryinth that seemingly goes on for miles.
I liked the artwork and parts of the story, but overall it didn't completely appeal.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling (1997)
This is a reread, I've read it aloud several times to my children but not for at least 10 years so felt it was time to revisit. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed returning to Hogwarts.
Persuasion by Jane Austen (1818)
I love to reread Jane Austen every few years and this is one of my favourites.
#50: both of Grushin's books are getting consistently good reviews here on LT.
A little non-reading news about additions to my household -
Yes, I know I said a couple of months ago that we would be cat-free from now on, but....
Dana, my youngest, loves the kittens but sometimes they do get in the way.
I've seen several good mentions of Olga Grushin's book. I tend to like novels that revolve around a simple premise like that, so it sounds like something I'd like.
Purrrrrrrrr! Only a cat would be neat enough to be able to drink water from an egg cup!
I read that Gaskella post too and put it on my wishlist - it still sounds great! :) I spent the holidays rereading the whole HP series and had a great time in that world. "Good old JK!"
Love the kittehs!!!!
New babies! Gorgeous. I'm adding The Hunter to my reading for this month, not sure which rock I've been living under but I had no idea it had been made into a film. Might have to check that out too.(depends on how I like the book, if I absolutely love a book I just can't watch a film version, no matter how many accolades it gets). Thanks for the review.
#56: Check out the movie trailer, the scenery is pretty good.
I'm the same, I'm too scared to watch Love in the Time of Cholera or The time traveller's Wife for that reason.
I'm sitting at my desk with my beagle on a lead. She's watching the kittens go berserk in the next room and keeps dragging me and my computer chair across the room! We're still doing the dog meet cat thing. She's used to cats but not this leaping, jumping, hissing variety.
Aww your new additions are lovely!
And a great bunch of reviews. I think I have Persuasion somewhere, I need to get around to reading it.
Poor dog! It must be so frustrating to have those little fluff-balls leaping about and not being able to join. :)
Iron House by John Hart (2011)
Dropbox category / 12in12 group read
I loved his The Last Child and also enjoyed this second book of his. Not totally perfect and I got quite frustrated having to listen to the ending which seemed to drag on a little too unnecessarily, I don't need every loose end tied up. Sometimes reading the book has an advantage over listening when you want to skim the final pages but with audio you have to listen to every word.
Quite violent but that's to be expected in these type of books.
The story starts with Michael, 'adopted' son of a New York crime boss. He's met the love of his life and has told the old man he wants out. It's not that easy. Now flashback to two brothers, one orphanage and lots of painful memories.
Drawing from Memory by Allen Say (2011)
Baker's Dozen bonus category
This is an illustrated memoir by Japanese/American artist Allen Say who has illustrated many picture books over the years. He tells the story of his childhood growing up in Japan before he gets the chance to live in the USA. Say became an artist despite the opposition of his father and was mentored by one of Japan's leading cartoonists when in high school in the 1950s. The artwork in the book is varied as Say shows the various styles he worked in as he grew as an artist. I'll be following this up with his autobiographical novel, The Ink-Keeper’s Apprentice which covers his defining teenage years.
His most well known work is Grandfather's Journey which won many awards including the Caldicott Medal in 1994.
I'm seeing lots of good reveiws for Iron House, might have to add that one to my list.
I love the idea behind The Concert Ticket, I'll have to look out for a copy.
The Necropolis Railway: a novel of murder, mystery and steam by Andrew Martin (2002)
Jim Stringer #1
Neverending stories category
This was one of my santathing gifts and was chosen from my wishlist. I'd added it after reading Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper which made me interested to find out a little more about the special cemetery railway of Edwardian London.
Jim Stringer is a young railwayman, brought in from up north by one of the managers of the Necropolis Railway. There have been some mysterious disappearances and hopefully a fresh new face might get to the bottom of it all. The mystery moves quite slowly but there is enough to hold your interest and the plot twists and turns satisfyingly. I'm tempted to keep reading the series as young Jim is quite the resourceful young man and the books meander towards him serving in WW1.
Walkabout by James Vance Marshall (1959)
This is included in 1001 children's books you must read before you grow up and I got hold of an old paperback last year which has lingered on the bookshelf ever since. When kidzdoc mentioned it was coming out as a NYRB classic this year, I dusted off my paperback and had a read.
It's the story of two American children who survive a plane crash in the Northern Territory, Australia but are stranded in the harsh desert miles from anywhere. They meet a teenage aboriginal boy who is on his 'walkabout', a rite of passage, and while he is able to help them survive, there is a cultural clash as the children (especially the girl who is older and less accepting than her younger brother) find it difficult to accept their new 'friend'. I found it dated and didn't like the interaction between the characters at all. The natural world of the desert is described in depth really well but overall I don't find this exceptional enough to counterbalance the rest of the story.
I'm sure there are other writers now doing this better. I'll follow up with Patricia Wrightson's The Nargun and The Stars and also have Tangara by Nan Chauncy to read.
From NYRB: Walkabout is a work of collaboration between Donald G. Payne and the Australian James Vance Marshall (1887–1964). Marshall spent much of his life in the outback of Australia—a part of the world he knew intimately and loved deeply. He wrote a series of articles about the people, flora, and fauna of the outback, and with his permission, Payne used these articles as background for their novel Walkabout. Subsequently, and with the consent of Marshall’s son, Payne continued to publish under the pseudonym Marshall.
NB: This was made into a movie in the early 70s.
Good review of The Necropolis Railway. I've had it on the shelf just a few months now but hadn't picked it up. Glad you liked it.
#64: While it wasn't outstanding, I think it showed promise. The plot twists came right at the end and built towards the second book.
How to play a video game by Pippin Barr (2011)
nonfiction category, new zealand
This is book #12 in Awa Press's Ginger "How to" series. The best two in the series are still How to look at a painting by Justin Paton and How to watch a bird by Steve Braunias IMO. This one is a bit hard to place, Pippin Barr is a New Zealand academic who lectures on video game design and programming at IT University of Copenhagen's Center for Computer Games Research. The book takes us through a brief history of video games and tells a few yarns and overviews some reasons for why they are so compelling. Nothing really new here for me though I had an agreeable time reading it. One of the chapters, 'Some of my best friends are avatars', tries to explain the social aspect of online play.
Not one you need to seek out but I shared a few anecdotes with my game addict son and we played a couple of the sillier games on Barr's website: http://www.pippinbarr.com/
The Push Man & other stories by Yoshiro Tatsumi (1969/2005)
Good-bye by Yoshiro Tatsumi (1971/2008)
These two volumes along with Abandon the Old in Tokyo are the collected works of Yoshiri Tatsumi, the father of the Japanese graphic novel. Gritty urban stories from the underbelly of Tokyo citylife, these aren't too appealing but portray the everyman caught in his daily toil to survive his life. Quite a ride to read through these, some aren't that pleasant, but then life isn't always a bunch of roses.
Tatsumi’s Trapped People
The Push Man and Other Stories is a collection of 16 manga tales written and drawn by Yoshihiro Tatsumi in 1969. Tatsumi had been publishing for almost 20 years by then (starting when he was around 14 years old), and roughly 12 years earlier had coined the term gekiga to describe his genre of manga. Gekiga meant “dramatic pictures,” and referred to a gritter, noir-influenced and often more violent type of story than the Disney-esque style that was popular in the mainstream manga of the time. Pop Matters article
I've still got his massive autobiographical A drifting life to read.
@67 There is a film version of his autobiography that's out in the cinemas of the UK now, I saw it at the weekend & can recommend it especially if your a Tatsumi fan
@67/68 It included some of short stories and I agree they were a bit harrowing. The 1st story really stood out for me, the cost of trying promoting peace out the devastation of Hiroshima. A nice twist in the tale story. I would be interested in checking out his autobiography after watching the film so await your review with interest!
That "How to" series sounds really interesting, but is it for children or adults (or both)?
American Ghosts and Old World Wonders by Angela Carter (1993)
Short n' Sweet category.
Carter writes beautifully in this collection that was compiled from her unpublished work after her death. I enjoyed her look at the Cinderella story in Ashputtle or The Mother's Ghost, was really taken with her Impressions: the Wrightsman Magdalene and found most of the others highly enjoyable. The only one that was a struggle to read was Alice in Prague or The Curious Room.
Will be continuing to read Carter's work, this was only my second look in.
Giuseppe by Kurt Held (1955)
childrens fiction / Dropbox category
I really enjoyed Held's more well known book The Outsiders of Uskoken Castle last year so thought I'd follow up with this. Giuseppe is a 14 year old lad who loses his parents in a bombing raid just as the Allied Army arrives to liberate southern Italy. His dying mother tells him to go to Naples to find her sister who married a cobbler. The story continues with Giuseppe's adventures travelling to Naples, his efforts to locate his aunt and all the colourful characters he meets including a number of orphaned but resourceful children. A good read and was the first of maybe 3 books about Giuseppe and his friends.
The original German title was Giuseppe und Maria.
Held's political views show through again in the anti-authority tone of the book, I also liked his multi-ethnic band of American soldiers that look out for Giuseppe at the start of the book. Held's wikipedia entry is worth reading.
Assault by Brian Falkner (2011)
YA fiction/ Recon Team Angel #1
New Zealand category
This is the first in a new scifi series by NZ writer Falkner. I always enjoy his books, and this new series should appeal to the younger teen reader who enjoys fast paced action scifi.
Teen soldiers, trained in the alien Bzadian culture, are sent on a mission to Ulruru Rock (Ayers Rock) in the Australian desert to uncover the secret behind alien activity inside the rock. It's 2030 and Earth is the battleground between humans and the invading Bzadian alien race.
#70: Eva - the Ginger series is aimed at adults, but this video games one was probably aimed at nonplayers. How to watch a bird is probably the highlight book, Steve Braunias is a great writer.
#68/69: I'll have to look out for the movie, if it ever makes it to New Zealand. Still to start Drifting Life.
Yes, the Hiroshima story was good.
They sounded like adult books (that sounds a bit saucy, doesn't it?!), but the covers threw me off. Birding on the wishlist then! :)
Hi Kerry. Just catching up on threads (finally). You've read so many books already this year. I'm adding The Necropolis Railway, The Ink Keepers Apprentice and Drawing from Memory to the wish list. Grandfathers Journey is the only Allan Say book that I've seen. These others seem interesting.
Are you planning on spreading the Harry Potter re-reads throughout the year? I'm planning one a month starting in May.
Questions from way up thread -- what is drop box? and what is the name of that Chagall print?
Hi Kelly - yes, I'll be spreading the Harry Potter reads across a few months. I probably gave The Necropolis Railway a more positive spin than it probably deserved, the ending gave a final twist that won me over.
I hope you enjoy the Allen Say books, I always enjoy reading about how artists/writers find their vocation when they were young.
The kittens are trying out for the next spiderman movie...up and down and across the back of my sofa, over and over.
Dropbox is 'new' cloud sharing software that I came across when setting up our iPad. You can drop a file, image or doc into your dropbox folder and it automatically appears in your dropbox on your laptop/computer or whatever device you enable. My daughter draws on the iPad and then dropboxes it to my laptop to print out. I liked the name and thought it suited the type of category I was setting up. http://www.dropbox.com/
Chagall - I have this print in my lounge, The Three Candles (1940). He did lots of floating couples, romantic and with such rich vivid colours. I've only seen his work in stained glass both in Zurich and in Jerusalem so when I came across this print just had to get it.
Don't look back by Karin Fossum (1996)
This was my first Inspector Sejer book and while the mystery side of the novel was not exactly riveting I found myself quite taken with the banter between Sejer and his new sidekick Skarre, a younger policeman. I'll definitely read more of these, but first I have to try something by Denise Mina.
Klezmer: tales of the Wild East by Joann Sfar (2005)
Baker's Dozen Category
This is the first of three Klezmer GNs, I'd love to read the other two but my library doesn't have them, in fact I'm not sure if they've been translated to English yet. Sfar says in his author notes that he recommends reading this alongside his The Rabbi's Cat as both books have been inspired by his family heritage. The artwork is a delight, very loose, and very colourful, he mentions Chagall as an inspiration.
Sfar's grandfather came from the Ukraine to France and the book looks at what it is to be Jewish with/without religion in those times and places. The story revolves round a musician who loses his fellow band members in one foul swoop, a young maiden who runs away from village life, and two ex-Yeshiva boys who end up travelling together with a young gypsy.
You can read an excerpt here at First Second.
Why we broke up by Daniel Handler (2011)
This was a Printz Honor Book at the recent ALA Awards. The Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature is awarded alongside the Caldicott and Newbery Medals but doesn't seem to attract the same attention.
Daniel Handler is better known for his Lemony Snicket books, A Series of Unfortunate Events and he's also written a few adult novels, this is his first YA novel. The book chronicles a short romance and inevitable breakup between two high school students. It's done through a series of objects, all momentos of memorable incidents in their relationship and how they led to the 'breakup'. Min has a box full of these objects to give back to Ed and written about each one and the reason for its inclusion in her break up letter. It's quite an introspective slow moving novel but the writing is impeccable and the emotions feel very real. I ended up enjoying it. Min, the girlfriend whose breakup letter 'is' the novel is a classic movie fan and references movie scenes throughout the novel. These are not real movies but made up ones that Handler must have had a lot of fun inventing.
Each object is illustrated by Maria Kalman at the start of each chapter.
There is a Whywebrokeup Project website to accompany the book, where anyone can share their breakup story.
Books Shape You - NZ Book Council clip
I haven't tried any Fossum yet, but she's in the queue. Good detective banter always works! :)
Nope, no English versions of parts 2 and 3 of Klezmer, unfortunately. :(
Don't Look Back is in the queue for me also. Maybe sometime this year I'll even dig it out as it does fit in two of my categories so the odds are good.
#77: Sfar is working on part 4 too. I've just watched his film, Gainsbourg, which was pretty good. Now I have to listen to Gainsbourg's music.
I wonder why no translations??? My high school French is not resurrectable (if that's a word) enough to read in...! :)
It's a shame as the characters are altogether by the end of the book and you really want to know what happens next. My French wouldn't be up to it either.
Translation is a Love Affair by Jacques Poulin (French, 2006); (2009 Eng)
I added Jacques Poulin to my list of new authors to try after labfs39 (Lisa) read one of his books last year and recommended this one. What a beautiful little read it is too. The writer blends the the idea of people/animals finding refuge with the theme of translation and the need to find just the right word/phrase to caress the original language into it's new one. I read a beautiful Archipelago edition so this was an absolute joy to read. The story is soft and muted, seeped in literary references and was perfect to read slowly and savour over a few days.
I seem to be losing track of my challenge already, so many of my current reads are heading for my Dropbox category which is a fancy name for 'anything goes'.
Level Up by Gene Luen Yang (2011)
I was very taken with the cover for this GN and had enjoyed reading his American Born Chinese. This story is about a young college student, a video game fanatic, coming to terms with what he thinks he wants to do, what his father has always wanted for him and how he finally finds his way. At the end of each section he 'levels up'. This quick read is quite the appealing story and will 'speak' to many as they grapple with similar issues of parental expectations.
The Sigh by Marjane Satrapi (2011)
I had to read this as I enjoyed Persepolis so much. This is a reinterpretation of a popular fairy tale with Eastern overtones, nothing like the wonderful work she did in Persepolis. It's an average story with average illustrations, worth a few minutes of your time if you find it in the library.
The Conductor by Laetitia Devernay (2011)
This first book by Devernay from Switzerland won the Bologna Ragazzi Opera Prima last year at the Bologna Children's Book Fair. It's a beautiful wordless picturebook that adults will appreciate perhaps more than younger children. A conductor climbs onto a tree and conducts the leaves in the trees to a wild dance through the skies. A muted use of colour and the tall narrow shape of the book make it stand out.
More of the artwork can be found here.
A ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka (2011)
A gorgeous wordless picturebook which won the 2012 Caldicott Medal for Illustration. This appeals directly to the youngest reader, a tender little story about a dog and her ball. The illustration style is quite loose, no lines to keep the colour in, and Raschka is not shy of colour, there's lots of it here. Raschka has also done a couple of picturebooks on jazz giants John Coltrane and Charlie Parker.
John Coltrane's Giant Steps and Charlie Parker Played Be Bop
More great picturebook chat from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blog post here and about Raschka here
No dogs allowed by Linda Ashman (2011)
Another 'wordless' picturebook, no text per say but through the use of the cafe's signage and the blackboard's changing message, the owner/waiter's growing conumdrun is clearly evident. Very fun for children. When he sees a young boy heading in the cafe's direction with a dog in tow Alberto quickly scrawls 'no dogs allowed' on the blackboard, however it seems like every man and his 'pet' is due to arrive in the little Parisian square this particular morning.
Ashman writes about tackling a wordless picturebook here on her website.
I've read a few other of Satrapi's books (other than Persepolis and found them interesting, but not up to par, unfortunately. Not sure if it's a blessing or a curse to have one such successful book, since everything else you write will be compared to it.
I'm reading The Complete Persepolis now. I'm really enjoying it, but I can see how Satrapi might try to work the success she had with Persepolis by writing new graphic novels. The problem is, Persepolis was so unique because it was a memoir and about an interesting topic--it's difficult to repeat that success without quite a bit of talent.
Good reviews as always Kerry! Translation is a Love Affair is a beautiful story so I was happy to see you also enjoyed it.
The Red Magician by Lisa Goldstein (1982)
Israel and the Diaspora category
This Holocaust novel is seeped in mystical and magical happenings. Kicsi is the youngest in her family, they live in a remote shetl in Hungary where they've always been protected by their rabbi, who is also possibly a magician. Then Voros, a traveller and magician arrives to warn them of impending death and destruction. Only Kicsi listens, while a battle of power begins between the rabbi and the red magician.
This is quite well done, the descriptions of the shetl are very good and the power play between the magicians, the illjusions etc etc really good. It falls down a little for me during Kicsi's time in the camps, but I think I might have been too critical while reading this part. If I did stars probably 3.6 star read.
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (1817)
Favourite Authors/rereads category
Had to reread another Austen after enjoying Persuasion so much last month. I've read this a few times now and once again I loved it, Catherine and Henry are both great characters.
Feynman by Jim Ottaviani (2011)
graphic novel / nonfiction
This graphic biography of physicist Richard Feynman is my first introduction to his life and work, but of course, I'm now eager to read some of his own work. There is a bibliography at the end of the GN which lists lots of books and lectures worth looking at.
Quite weird reading a biography in this form, but it works well.
Sita's Ramayana by Samhita Arni, illustrations by Moyna Chitrakar (2011)
Tells the Ramayana legend from the woman's perspective. Stunningly bold colourful illustration with an interesting layout. After reading this I had to find out about the Patua scroll painting tradition. Chitrakar is an artist storyteller, you can see her performing her Tsunami scroll story here alongside the making of the book.
Patua art is created by Bengal’s Patua community. “Patua artists are singers and story-tellers who go from house to house with their scrolls and tell stories from epics through their art work”
Patua artists are familiar figures in India’s art and craft landscape. In the 1970s, an artists’ cooperative was set up in Bengal to rejuvenate their art, which had suffered an interim eclipse after a period of middle class interest during the late colonial period. They were once itinerant tellers of tales, who carried their scrolls of stories, and sang songs while unrolling each of them. Muslims by faith, their stories were wide-ranging. Tales from the Ramayana and Mahabarata feature prominently in their repertoire, which today has expanded to include news, political allegories and much else.
An interesting interview with writer/adapter Samhita Arni here.
And I'm also up to date with my year long read of Don Quixote.
The Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett (1966)
Lymond Chronicles #3
Neverending stories category
This is the third installment of the continuing adventures of Frances of Lymond. Set in the mid 16th century Europe, this adventure takes us from Malta to Tripoli and then back to Scotland. Frances agrees to help the Crusading Order of Knights Hospitaller of St John whose home base in Malta is about to come under attack by invading Turks. Intrigue, adventure, political maneuvering, feuds and blackmail all rolled up in a great historical novel that finishes on a bit of a cliffhanger, has me lining up book 4 to read as soon as I can find time for it. I was going to read her Macbeth novel King Hereafter next but will bump it for #4 Pawn in Frankincense.
I find these books slow to start as Dunnett sets up the story but the pay off as the novel progresses is well worth the time put in. Love my Lymond.
Absolution Gap by Alastair Reynolds (2003)
Revelation Space #3 / audiobook
Neverending stories category
While there are other standalone books set in this world, this is the concluding book in the original trilogy. I've really enjoyed John Lee's narration and will continue with the standalones, I've already listened to Chasm City the first one. Just need a break from scifi for a couple of weeks. The saving of the human race from the 'Inhibitors' continues, Reynolds uses separate story strands that come together towards the end of the novel in a pleasing conclusion.
D.E.S.I.G.N. by Ewa Solarz (2010 Poland) (2011)
illustrated by Aleksandra Mizielinski & Daniel Mizielinski
Baker's Dozen category
Another beautiful book translated by Gecko Press. You can view pages of the book here at the website of the graphic designers who illustrated this and the wonderful H.O.U.S.E.
This was an informative little read that I couldn't put down once I started. The book tells the story behind the design of 69 household objects, some quirky and some utilitarian from Michel Thonet's 1859 bistro chair to The Front Group's 2009 Moment Collection based on illusion. Along the way we meet designers such as Philippe Stark (citrus squeezer), Arne Jacobsen (ant chair), Frank Gehry (punnet chair). There are lots of chair stories, all really interesting, I enjoyed the story behind the Barcelona Chair (1929).
Some great reviews, I'm glad to see the Lymond series is still going great after book 3. I'll be reading book 2 this year.
#91/92: Book 2 was a slow burner for me but worth the effort in the end. I've looked at a few reviews for book 4 and they say it's one of the best ones, and the setting is the Ottoman Empire. Can't wait, though of course, I have too many books on the go at present.
The Lymond Series has been on my radar for ages, you jogged my memory and so I just download the first two books onto my Kindle. Now I just have to fit them into the reading schedule!
The art for Sita's Ramayana is stunning!
I've not started the Lymond series yet, but it's certainly on deck. The way I read series, I need to set aside some time... :)
I started the Lymond series at the end of 2008 just as I joined these LT challenge groups and have been really sidetracked. What can I say, I seem to plod through some series. I'm definitely reading book 4 this year though. I'm also only halfway through Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music of Time series, I'm planning to finally finish it this year.
Eva - the original publisher for Sita's Ramayana is Tara Books in India, they have a FB page and interesting website where they sell beautiful handmade books.
Another design/publisher company I came across in the 75 threads only yesterday is Visual Editions who produce these amazing 'books'. I love the look of Tree of Life by Jonathan Safran Foer.
I second Eva, Sita's Ramayana looks lovely, thanks for the link.
Makes me almost wish to reread the Lymond series but I feel far to daunted this year!
#26 Path of the Orange Peels: adventures in the early days of Tel Aviv by Nahum Gutman (1958)
Israel, YA fiction
Path of the Orange Peels was an IBBY Honour Book in 1962
Tel Aviv was founded by the Jewish community in 1909, close to the port of Yaffo which was one of the entry points for Jewish immigration to Palestine. In 1917 the ruling Ottomans expelled all Jews from Tel Aviv and Yaffo, around 10,000 Jews were forced to leave their homes and were only able to return once the British forces had ousted the Turks from Palestine. During this time the small settlement of Tel Aviv was totally empty apart from a token few members of a guard force left to protect the property.
15 year old Nahum is with his grandmother in Petah-Tikva but the conditions are tough and the deportees have no food or money left. So when the local marketplace comes under fire and there is also a risk from the Turks who are looking for young men to serve in their army, his grandmother insists that the time is right for him to make a dash across the battlefield back to Tel Aviv which is now in British control. Along the way Nahum joins up with a brave young man on a secret mission and following the orange peel markers through the fighting zone.
This was a captivating story and Gutman, a major Israeli artist, has filled it with humorous illustrations and side notes. I knew little about the expulsion of Jews at this time in the city's history and found this story most interesting from the historical perspective.
an example of Gutman's work as an artist, Resting at Noon, 1926
From wikipedia: In late 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered WWI and aligned themselves with the Central Powers. Turkish officials in Palestine considered the recent Jewish arrivals from Russia, as well as citizens from other Allied nations, as a threat to military security. In December 1914, an expulsion order was given to the 6,000 Russian Jews who resided in Jaffa. They were resettled in Alexandria, Egypt.
The Tel Aviv and Jaffa deportation refers to the forcible deportation of the entire civilian population of Jaffa and Tel Aviv on April 6, 1917 by the Ottoman authorities in Palestine. While the Muslim evacuees were allowed to return before long, the Jewish evacuees were not allowed to return until after the British conquest of Palestine. The Jewish civilian population of Jaffa and Tel Aviv organized a migration committee which arranged the transportation of the Jewish deportees to safety with the assistance of Jews from the Galilee, who arrived in Tel Aviv with carts to help transport the deportees. The exiles were driven to Jerusalem, to cities in central Palestine (such as Petah Tikva and Kfar Saba) and to the north of Palestine, where they were scattered among the different Jewish settlements in the Lower Galilee, in Zichron Yaacov, Tiberias and Safed. Around 10,000 deportees were evacuated from Tel Aviv which as a result remained with almost no residents.
The homes and property of the Jewish civilian population of Jaffa and Tel Aviv were kept in the possession of the Ottoman authorities and they were guarded by a handful of Jewish guards. Jamal Pasha also released two Jewish doctors to join the deportees. Nonetheless, many deportees perished during the harsh winter of 1917-1918 from hunger and contagious diseases. In total some 1,500 are believed to have died, many victims buried without a name. Only after the conquest of the northern part of Palestine by the British forces at the end of 1918 were the deportees allowed to return to their homes.
#27a) Jump Book by Philippe Halsman (1959)
#27b) Dali's Mustache by Salvador Dali & Philippe Halsman (1954)
#27c) Halsman at Work by Philippe and Yvonne Halsman (1989)
I came across Halsman's photography when reading about the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. The 2011 winner was Austin Ratner's The Jump Artist, a fictional look at Halsman's early life, I've added this to my tbr list. Looking at Halsman's work online, I found many images that were quite familiar and decided to track down some more of his work.
Halsman was a famous portrait photographer and did many covers for Life magazine. He liked photographing his clients while they jumped as he felt this in some way captured a glimpse into the real person behind all the celebrity. A collection of these was published in his Jump Book alongside his thoughts about what the different jump poses meant - his jumpology theories! I enjoyed the text as much if not more than the photos themselves.
Duke & Duchess of Windsor
more jump photos online here.
Dali's Mustache is a collaboration with Dali. These two loved working together and Dali was always willing to go along with Halsman's more edgy ideas. This one was dealing with celebrity and the idea of making a part of Dali famous rather than promoting Dali himself. The idea appealed to Dali as a surreal proposition and together they worked on the project with great enthusiasm.
Dali underwater blowing out milk
more mustache photos here
Halsman at Work is a selection of photographs by Halsman & his wife, Yvonne, showing the great man in action taking photographs and work on the sets/location to get these amazing shots. A great tribute book.
I'm still waiting on one more book - Unknown Halsman
#27d) Classic Cats by great photographers concept, text, compilation by Jules Farber (2005)
This book has introduced me to a wonderful selection of great photographers. Many professional photographers loved taking shots of their felines and several used them in their studio to bring out a fresh side in celebrity portraits.
photo by Ylla (Camilla Koffler), an animal photographer
Me and my cat by Wanda Wulz, 1932
Probably add all these to my Baker's Dozen category
Part of the Furniture by Mary Wesley (1997)
I enjoyed listening to this story set in WW2 England.
Juno is 17 and has decided against joining her mother who has just emigrated to Canada. I don't want to say much more as it's the sort of story you want to unfold without knowing much of the plot. There were a few bits that left me wondering about the author but overall a quaint wartime story with a romantic twist.
I followed this up by reading Wesley's wikipedia entry which made for interesting reading too. She wrote her first novel at the age of 71.
Hole in my Life by Jack Gantos (2002)
Gantos won this year's Newbery Prize with Dead End in Norvelt and when I noticed Hole in my Life on my library's digital audio list I thought I'd have a listen. HimL was a Michael Printz Award Honour Book and is a great autobiographical read about his mispent youth and time in prison. This was a great audiobook, and Gantos references so many books and great writers as his own life spirals downwards into a 1970s drug haze which ends with him agreeing to sail a yacht loaded with hash from St Croix to New York, where he's eventually arrested in a high profile drug bust. All through the narrative he writes of his desire to be a writer and the payoff for his part in the smuggling was going to finance him into a creative writing programme but ends with him serving time.
Can't wait to read more by this writer.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J K Rowling (1998)
Favourite Writers & Rereads category
This was a reread and one that I took too long over. I tried to read at least a chapter each night but ended up spinning it out over too many weeks and the story ended up losing it's attraction. I'm hoping to focus more on the next one as I consider it to be one of my favourites in the series.
Yes by Deborah Burnside (2011)
YA fiction, New Zealand
YES stands for Youth Enterprise Scheme and Marty's friend Luke sees it as an opportunity to work with the girl he wants to go out with. Marty has Aspergers Syndrome and is dealing with other issues such as his mother's yearning for independence, grieving for his recently departed Granddad and his father's lack of accepting him as he is. Just coping with all the school work is enough especially with the new laptop that is meant to make it easier for him to take notes on, but ends up being more of a hassle. Luke ropes in Marty, their business mentor is an unwelcome surprise and the group struggles to come up with a plan, it is all almost more than Marty can deal with.
This was a great read, the plot was a little different and it was fun to watch the dynamics unfold between all the characters .
The Half Life of Ryan Davis by Melinda Szymanik (2011)
YA fiction, new zealand
This is one of the first books from Pear Jam Books and Szymanik's first YA novel. She's well known here for her great picturebook, The were-nana : (not a bedtime story).
This is a younger YA thriller type read that has numerous twists and quite a chilling ending. Ryan is 15 and along with his younger sister Gemma, coming up against their mother's restrictive and confining rules. They are all still dealing with the sudden disappearance of older sister Mallory 3 years earlier - her body has never been found but police suspect a kidnap/murder scenario. I enjoyed this but did guess most of the twists.
Talking to Blue by Ken Catran is still my favourite NZ YA novel for sending chills up my spine.
Nelson edited by Rob Davis (2011)
Loved this. A collaboration between 54 different artists and comic creators.A different artist tells the story of one day, each year, in the life of Nel, born 1968 up to 2011. Wow, I love this type of story where we don't quite know whats going on but find out enough to have to read more. Some years have a stronger storyline than others and some of the art isn't my thing but overall very very worthwhile. I love the cover and the title has more meaning once you are a few pages in.
Same Difference by Derek Kirk Kim (2011)
I picked this up at the library as I found the cover appealing though my cover doesn't have all the fish. It's about two US Korean friends who hang out together. The opening scene at a restaurant is quite fun, the story is engaging if not riveting. I enjoyed it. Kim based the artwork on real locations.
Aya by Marguerite Abouet & Clement Oubrerie (2007)
This was a great graphic novel story set in 1970s Ivory Coast with wonderful artwork. I just loved the characters in this - sensible Aya who wants to be a doctor, her two girl friends who just want to have fun and all the assorted family, boyfriends and neighbourhood folk. Probably best to describe it as a black comedy with lots of laughs. There are a couple more in the series and I'll definitely be taking a look.
Library Journal: "Based on Abouet's remembrance of her childhood in Abidjan ... the story, along with French illustrator Oubrerie's artwork, brings to life an Ivory Coast not seen before--a place overflowing with vibrant, rich textiles, new words, music, food, and lively characters filled with humor, love, and the hope for a better life."
All going in my Baker's Dozen category
@ Aya sounds great and I am glad you enjoyed Nelson, I thought it was a great implementation of a neat idea.
Love the Dali/ Halsman books. I'm guessing Halsman took the iconic photo of Dali with cat and goldbish bowl.
Hi Eva - that was an example of Gutman's art not an illustration from the book which are just sketchy line drawings. Gutman was an important Israeli artist because he was the first to break from the European tradition and start developing an Israeli 'style'.
I've been a Dali fan since my teens when a friend loaned me The Secret Life of Salvador Dali.
Jennifer, I can't find that image online, but this is a Halsman/Dali collaboration from the Jump Book -
Claire - I would never have come across Nelson if I hadn't seen the reviews here. I think you might have been the first to write up about it.
I sound like a real art expert but am just regurgitating what I've read online over the past couple of days!
Between shades of grey by Ruta Sepetys (2011)
Historical fiction dealing with the forced deportation of Lithuianian 'dissidents' and their families to labour camps in Siberia during World War II. 15 yr old Lina, her younger brother Jonas and mother are taken and twelve years pass before anyone can return.
Impressive telling of a difficult story, Sepetys makes Lina a talented artist which adds an extra dimension to the narrative.
Running with the Horses by Alison Lester (2009)
australia, picture book
Baker's Dozen category
Nina's father is stable master at the Royal Academy of Dancing Horses, part of the palace and when war arrives too quickly to their city there is no time to move the last four horses by truck across the border. Nina befriends an abandoned cab horse, Zelda, that she rides on this perilous journey with her father and their guide, a young groom. It's Zelda who knows the safe route out of the city and saves their lives once again on route. This is a lovely story, the text pitches at the younger readers perfectly and the art work is fairly awesome. Black and white inked drawings for the horses and humans set on full colour backgrounds. This really puts the focus on the Nina, her father and the horses quite spectacularly. Lester has written and illustrated several picturebooks and has also written a few horse themed novels for older readers.
“Perhaps Zelda was too old for such a hard journey, thought Nina. She bit her lip and led Zelda to the stream, where the horse drank deeply and picked at the water grass. ‘Come on, girl,’ Nina whispered. ‘Please be strong.’”
More info on Lester and images from the book here
>107 avatiakh: Yep, that's the one. I don't know why I got it in my head that the water was coming out of a fishbowl. I guess I made up my own Dali photo in my head!
I've seen too many photos of Dali and cats lately and thought there must be one with goldfish that I'd seen! The above photo took 28 'takes'. The cats enjoyed it and were rubbed down between shots. Dali jumps, Halsman's wife held the chair, one assistant threw a bucket of water and two others threw the cats. Halsman counted down and some things happened at count 4 and others at count 3. The rest of the set was suspended in the air. The finished shot was meant to reflect Dali's then current focus with his paintings: like an atom, everything is in motion.
Between shades of grey by Ruta Sepetys (2011)
Historical fiction dealing with the forced deportation of Lithuianian 'dissidents' and their families to labour camps in Siberia during World War II. 15 yr old Lina, her younger brother Jonas and mother are taken and twelve years pass before anyone can return.
Impressive telling of a difficult story, Sepetys makes Lina a talented artist which adds an extra dimension to the narrative.
The Flytrap Snaps by Johanna Knox (2011)
children's fiction, new zealand
A fun read with carnivorous plants taking centre stage. Spencer gets more than he bargains for when he bids on an auction for a Venus Fly Trap that has come from a genetic engineering lab. A mystery thriller for younger readers. The book itself is beautifully designed with an embossed cover.
Nest of lies by Heather McQuillan (2011)
children's fiction, new zealand
Another dystopian story with a strong ecological theme. The setting is the deep south of New Zealand's South Island. The world has been devastated by a plague which has been blamed on birds. Ashlee has never seen a bird as they are considered plague carriers, stray birds are hunted and killed in the area of The Citadel where her community has settled. She lives in a restrictive environment with her father and step mother and step sisters, but is treated like a servant now that her father is away on Council business (there's a little referencing of a few fairy tales in the story). I rather enjoyed this especially once Ashlee ran away from the community to search for her long lost brother among the Outsiders and the Egghead scientists.
McQuillan's first novel Mind over Matter was a great children's scifi story and I've had to wait a few years for this, her second book.
I've abandoned St Lucy's Home for girls raised by wolves because there are too many books and not enough time. After a couple of stories I found myself thinking that I'd rather read something I liked instead of a book that had stories that were too strange and too quirky. I will read the title story over the weekend and then take it back to the library.
Calling the Gods by Jack Lasenby - dark & different YA
Twelve minutes of Love by Kapka Kassbova - really enjoying this memoir about Tango obsession
A drifting life - graphic novel autobiography by Tatsumi - slowly slowly
The Ritual Bath by Faye Kellerman - first in the Decker series
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling - why does the touchstone first reference the dvd which has 64 copies listed on LT versus the book which has 57,700 copies??
I've also postponed my planned nonfiction read of Gödel, Escher, Bach, I'm slowing right down with my reading this year and know I wouldn't pick it up often enough. I've also decided to concentrate more on recently published New Zealand & Australian children's and YA books.
#114: Thanks, sometimes it's easier to just plonk the illustration in with the review than trying to describe the style!
Eva, I was looking forward to reading it as there were many more positive reviews for this than I saw for her Swamplandia, but it just didn't appeal. If I owned it I would have persevered and probably found merit but as it was from the library, my 'ditch it quick' policy was enforced.
Twelve Minutes of Love: a tango story by Kapka Kassbova (2011)
memoir/ Fact not Fiction category
Here's a book trailer worth watching, a short animation to promote the book and tango.
I really enjoyed this memoir about Kassabova's ten year addiction to tango. She manages to write about the dance, it's social history, the dancers, the international tango scene and her ten year odyssey for the perfect partner into a riveting story that by the midway point I just could not put the book down and had to finish in one sitting.
All I could say by the end is that wow, while I love tango music I'm so glad I never caught the dance bug. I enjoyed her depiction of Buenos Aires, I've been there several times and felt that she captured the essence of the city really well, and the old Indian guy selling souvenirs in Plaza Dorrigo in San Telmo, well, I've seen him a few times myself.
Loved this book and definitely going to read her Street Without a Name: Childhood and Other Misadventures in Bulgaria and look out for her novels.
This was the first book by Kassabova that I've read though I've always been interested to read her work as she caused a mini-sensation here in New Zealand when her first novel was published. Reconnaissance (1999) was short-listed for the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, and won the Best First Book award in the South East Asia and South Pacific section of the 2000 Commonwealth Writers Prize, quite an achievement for a young woman whose family left Bulgaria when she was just a teenager. English is her fourth language.
There's an interview with Kapka here.
Divergent by Veronika Roth (2011)
YA dystopian / Dropbox category
Wow, this starts off with a roar and like The Hunger Games never lets up. Set in a gritty urban dystopian future where the city's inhabitants are divided between separate factions that together form a whole. 16 year old Beatrice or 'Tris' is about to undergo her aptitude test before choosing the faction she wants to join. The decision is important as if rejected in the initiation period the initiate becomes factionless and that is the worse kind of fate.
I raced through this and will be reading the sequel. Good fun.
Calling the Gods by Jack Lasenby (2011)
YA dystopian / new zealand category
Jack Lasenby is one of my favourite New Zealand writers for children and young adults. He alternates between 1930s nostalgic fare (similar to Richard Peck) for children and great dystopian fantasy YAs.
This is set a few hundred years into a future New Zealand, one that has returned to basic Stone Age communities where survival and basic skills are valued. Selene and a few children, the survivors of a massacre, must sail north to a new beginning in the land that their ancestors came from. Their story of survival is remarkable as they make do with few tools, managing to build the start of a new life...but there is always one to stir trouble and dissent.
Good to hear you confirm that Divergent is a page-turner. I have it on my look-out-for list, but I'll be waiting until the whole trilogy is published - I get too impatient when I have to wait. :)
Good idea that. I'm doing staying away from Patrick Rofthuss and his Kingkiller Chronicle till it's all done.
I'm torn with what to read next, keep going on the YA dystopians or look at other more neglected areas of my 12in12.
Twelve Minutes of Love sounds great. I wonder if it's too late to catch the tango bug? Thanks!
That's another one I'm waiting for! :) It is a trilogy as well, right? (I don't want to wait too long...)
#123: Yes, he got writer's block between book 1 and book 2.
A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi (2009)
graphic novel, autobiography
Baker's Dozen category
Fairly mammoth read at 834pgs but the pages flew by every time I picked it up. I've read his short story collections over the past few months and this stylised memoir gives a wonderful overview of Japanese manga history - the artists, their fans and their influences. Recommended and there is a documentary based on this too.
Now looking out for his Fallen Words collection based on rakugo due out in April.
Publisher's summary: Acclaimed for his visionary short-story collections The Push Man and Other Stories, Abandon the Old in Tokyo, and Good-Bye—originally created nearly forty years ago, but just as resonant now as ever—the legendary Japanese cartoonist Yoshihiro Tatsumi has come to be recognized in North America as a precursor of today’s graphic novel movement. A Drifting Life is his monumental memoir eleven years in the making, beginning with his experiences as a child in Osaka, growing up as part of a country burdened by the shadows of World War II.
Super Finn by Leonie Agnew (2011)
children's fiction, new zealand
Agnew's manuscript won the Tom Fitzgibbon Award in 2010. Writing competitions like these are good entry points to getting published, your work is guaranteed to be read by the judging panel rather than sitting in a slush pile. If it is any good it will make the short list or even win and be awarded a publishing contract. I know that from time to time Scholastic have offered contracts for other manuscripts.
Super Finn is a cracking read that boys will lap up. Finn is not the brightest spark in the class and always seems to end up in one sort of trouble or another. The story revolves round a school project, 'What I want to be when I grow up', Finn is allowed to keep his chosen profession, a super-hero, as he successfully argues the point with his teacher. Now he just needs to develop a super power or save a life. What happens gets him in trouble over and over...yet each time it's more of a misunderstanding and adults rarely listen to children long enough to hear their explanations. Very funny and he does end up saving a life, the super power will have to wait. Quite the impressive debut, it's made the shortlist for this year's New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards in the Junior Fiction section.
Aya of Yop City by Marguerite Abouet (2008)
This continues the story of Aya and her family and friends in 1970s Ivory Coast. Highly enjoyable and I'm keen to get onto book 3, Aya the secrets come out, just wish I'd requested it at the same time as this one.
Abouet's husband, Clément Oubrerie, is the illustrator and this is one fabulantastic partnership. Really hard to believe that the Aya series is their first graphic novel venture.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling (1999)
children's fiction /reread
Another instalment in my rereading of the Harry Potter series. I really enjoyed this one all over again, and now I've reached the point in the series that I'm more looking forward to, as I read the later books on the day they were published and never picked them up again. I'm hoping to come across lots of little details and minor characters that I'd forgotten all about.
Read for my 12in12 Rereads and favourite writers category.
Anders - I thought I'd really like and had looked forward to reading it...but it just didn't catch my fancy at the time. I'm a lot harder on library books now as my tbr mountain just has to be tackled.
Note that I still haven't read anything for my MT Tbr category yet, I have read my own books for other categories but shake my head that I still haven't got that category started.
Proxopera: a tale of modern Ireland by Benedict Kiely (1980)
After listening to Colum McCann read and discuss Benedict Kiely’s “Bluebell Meadow" in the New Yorker fiction podcast series, I was keen to read Proxopera which he mentioned as a forgotten gem of Irish fiction. This is a story set during The Troubles and involves a grandfather whose family is taken hostage at his farmhouse by three Provisional IRA gunmen. He is forced to drive to the home of a judge in the nearby town with a cream can loaded with explosives.
The story was followed by an interesting afterword, 'A River at my garden's end', where Kiely tells of the numerous sources and references he used in the story. Read for my short n' sweet category and my St Patricks Day read.
The Confidential Agent by Graham Greene (1939)
I listened to the audio version of the book narrated by Tim Piggot-Smith. A government agent from an unknown country, probably Spain, in the throes of civil war arrives in England to do a secret deal for coal with a group of industrialists. He manages to hit every snag possible along the way and comes up against the opposing agent who is on a similar mission. I really enjoyed this little taste of intrigue and desperation from start to finish. Piggot-Smith's accent for the agent grew on me, it was a little strange to begin with. Added to my Favourite Writers category.
Life: an exploded diagram by Mal Peet (2011)
Added to my Favourite Writers category. A coming of age set in 1960s rural Norfolk. Peet weaves a rich girl/poor boy romance into a tense 'the world is going to end because of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962' storyline with stunning effect. By starting with the grandmother's story and taking it through to the year 2001, he is able to ring in all the changes to the county, both social and topographical through the 20th century. At the heart is Clem, a teenager with a burning love for Frankie, daughter of the local landowner. Really good but not great. He manages to give us what I presume is a realistic portrait of JFK, with all the glamour and myth wiped away. Makes me want to read a recent biography of Kennedy, but make it a short one as I'm not sure I'll like what I read.
(My own copy)
A confusion of princes by Garth Nix (2012)
Added to my Australia category. While my library has catalogued this as an adult scifi, I felt it was more of the YA crossover type of read. I found it a great adventure romp though not as interesting as the worlds that Alastair Reynolds or Iain Banks have created. This had more of a 'game' feel to it, I felt that it would appeal to teens who play RPGs as the world was full of interesting tech for fighting. So after finishing and visiting Nix's website I wasn't that surprised to see that a social networking game is in beta development for the 'Imperial Galaxy'.
Born or 'created' a prince and now freshly graduated, Khemri finds that he is just one of ten million princes needed to administer the Empire and all of them want each other dead.
While there is room for other books set in this world, the book is a standalone read.
Aya: the secrets come out by Marguerite Abouet (2009)
graphic novel/Baker's Dozen bonus category
This is the third in the Aya series of graphic novels, there are another three yet to be translated and I'm looking forward to reading them all. It seems like everyone in Aya's circle of family and friends has a secret, they all come out in the open here, and the local beauty contest finally happens but seems to have been rigged. Great fun in 1970s Ivory Coast.
Children of the Red King by Madeleine Polland (1959) (2011 Hillside Education ed)
children's historical fiction / dropbox category
I can't remember how I came across mention of Madeleine Polland's historical fiction for children, it might have been on goodreads which suggests books similar to ones you are reading. Anyway I'm glad I did, this is the only one that has been recently republished and my library took up my suggestion to purchase. They didn't have any of her work in their stacks so I also picked up a few of her older paperbacks from betterworld books.
I've never heard of Hillside Education, but if they are happy to bring back new editions of older well written children's fiction then I'm all for them.
Well a visit to their website brings this mission statement:
"Our mission is to publish quality literature study guides, historical novels, and language art resources with a distinctly Catholic perspective."
The two young children of the Red King of Connacht, Grania and Fergus, are taken into the guardianship of the local Norman enemy, a chivalrous knight and his lady. The Irish clan's greatest treasure is a holy book, Colomba's illuminated Holy Gospels which Grania has rescued from destruction when their fort is attacked. There is a little treachery and bravery along with vivid descriptions of life in an Irish clan and then in a Norman castle, even a visit by King John. The children are very brave and honorable, impressing all around them with their loyalty and respect. They must wait for their father, the Red King, to come forward and make peace or worse.
The Captain and the Enemy by Graham Greene (1988)
fiction / audiobook
Added to my Favourite Writers category. Quite a weird premise to this story. The Captain arrives at 12 yr old Victor's boarding school with a note from his father that gives him permission to take Victor out. The headmaster thinking it is for the half-day lets him go, but Victor, after being treated to a slapup lunch, is informed that he was won by the Captain in a game of backgammon and they are off to London to a new life. Unhappy at school, Victor agrees to accompany him, and so begins his new life with Eliza, the friend of the Captain. The mysterious Captain is always disappearing for weeks or months at a time and Victor, now renamed Jim, has obviously been sought as a companion for Eliza. The story ends up in Panama where the Captain has been holed up for many months and the now adult Jim has arrived to confront him.
Kenneth Branagh narrated the audiobook and did an excellent job.
My local library has a copy of the first Aya book and I'm eagerly waiting to see if they're going to buy the others - I'm worried if I read one I'll need to buy the rest to feed the crack-addiction I seem to develop when I find a new series. :) Looks soo good, though!
OAN: No sign of Klezmer yet? Makes me worry - normally, sending to NZ from here takes no more than a week. :(
Oh, that's a shame about the Aya books. I think you'd get away with just reading one.
My apologies about Klezmer I forgot to check in when it arrived earlier this month, I've already done so now. I haven't mooched a book for so long I forgot all about that. Thanks so much.
I finally got my hands on the Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey book yesterday, I had to wait ages as the library only has one copy. Fascinating to browse through.
You really think I can read only the first book in a series - do you not know me at all!?! :)
Very good - I just wanted to make sure that it arrived safe and sound (I want all my mooches to arrive, but I care quite a bit more since it was sent to someone I actually know!).
The Potter book is so beautiful, isn't it!
Just popped in to say thank you for the Aya recommendation. I weakened when I was in a comic shop and is was a fun read, great characters & setting. Eva I think you will be ok with just the 1st one.. although I now want to track down the rest of the series.
"although I now want to track down the rest of the series"
Yeah, I'll probably give in, but my local library are usually so on top of it that I hope they'll buy the whole series.
Instruments of Darkness by Robert Wilson (1995)
crime fiction/ Neverending series category
This is the first book in the Bruce Medway quartet which is set in West Africa. I've read all of Wilson's other books but not his Bruce Medway ones and seeing i'm up to date with Camilleri's Montalbano series I thought I'd dip my toes into some West African crime. This is Wilson's first book and quite the gory debut, Medway gets on the wrong side of quite a few brutish thugs but overall it was a great little piece of escapist reading in a fairly unusual locale. Medway is based in Benin, but his 'work' sees him driving along the coast to points in Togo, Ghana and Nigeria too. He's a fixer, negotiator, debt collector, but this time he's asked to find a missing Englishman.
It's well worth reading about how Wilson started writing his noirish crime fiction set in Africa. Basically he was advised by a friend that his travel stories would never get published but maybe if he changed them to crime fiction...
from his website:
"The idea of the books was not just to tell exciting crime stories but also to give people an insight into what has happened in Africa since independence. For those who knew Africa they would set off that tingling in the blood that never leaves you once it’s got into your system. For those who didn’t know Africa they would be like survival manuals. The greatest compliment ever paid to these books came from a guy who approached me at a book launch for A Small Death in Lisbon. He was a travelling salesman who worked with a team of people in West Africa. He said: 'Whenever we were gathered together and had a particularly intractable problem we’d all look at each other and say: 'What would Bruce Medway do now?’"
#134 - Eva - still feeling pangs of guilt about the Klezmer book and yes, I'm very much enjoying the flicking through the HP book. The set designs are fab and I love all the different wand handles, so much thought went into it all. I'll be reading HP and the Goblet of Fire next month so seeing the drawings for the quidditch world cup stadium was great too.
#135 - More Aya love...what can we say, it's great!
#136 - Jennifer, I'm hoping to get to read The Ministry of Fear this year but just picked up his Stamboul Train on audio as I saw it on display at the library. I'm pretty sure I read The End of the Affair a few years ago, but maybe I just saw the movie.
Please don't worry about Klezmer! As long as it's there, we're all good!!
Seems like more and more African noir is showing up - is it going to be the new wave after Scandicrime?!? :) I'm rubbish at African history, so I'd jump on that bandwagon immediately.
Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1862)
Mt Tbr category / audiobook
I was completely drawn in at the start and loved the melodrama and the slow passage to resolution. I listened to it all last night and my kitchen ended up gleaming as I kept waiting for the book to end and the plot just seemed to keep on going and going with more and more twists. I ended up falling asleep and missing most of the last two chapters, so had to backtrack and finally got to bed after midnight. There are some moralistic passages in the book where the narrator ruminates on the place of a women in society and other matters but overall I really enjoyed this gothic mystery/thriller.
The story floats around a bit at the start and then settles with Robert Audley. He's the nephew of Lord Audley who has just married a young and beautiful governess. In London, Robert bumps into an old school friend, George Talboys who has just stepped off the boat, a rich man after struggling in the goldfields of Australia. Due to reduced circumstances George had abandoned his wife and baby son three years earlier in order to make his fortune. Robert although fairly lazy by nature becomes motivated to help heartbroken George recover his spirits when he discovers his wife has died just a few days earlier.
We know that Lady Audley has a secret, but what the secret is and how Robert Audley finally uncovers the truth kept me riveted to the end.
The boy in the suitcase by Lene Kaaberbøl & Agnette Friis (2011)
fiction / Dropbox category
This was a compelling read, the pages just flew by. The story is told through multiple narrators, so I presume Kaaberbøl & Friis worked on separate POVs. The action starts when Nina goes to a railway station locker for her friend to collect whatever is there. Inside a suitcase she finds a young boy, naked, drugged but still alive. Now her friend is dead and Nina finds herself on the run with the boy.
The Bridge by Jane Higgins (2011)
YA dystopian / New Zealand category
This won the Text Publishing Prize in 2010 for a YA manuscript by an unpublished New Zealand or Australian writer. It came out late last year and got some great reviews and I've finally got round to reading it as it's made the NZ Post Children's Book Awards shortlist for Senior Fiction. I read this in March but couldn't find a TIOLI challenge to fit it to.
I thought it was great, a real pageturner, that sat well with my recent reading of Veronica Roth's Divergent. Both books are gritty, urban and feature multiple groups working for and against each other in a dystopian future world. I think Higgin's vision might edge ahead for me as being more thoughtful or thought out. She's got quite an impressive bio and I think she's brought a lot of her own experiences into this book making it a really believable world.
Nik is one of the smartest students at his academy, so why hasn't he been recruited by ISIS, the organisation that keeps the Hostiles at bay. He lives in Cityside, across the river is Southside where the Hostiles live. When his school is the target of a bombing and his friend, Fyffe's younger brother is kidnapped they decide to cross over the bridge and find him.
Higgins, who lives in Christchurch, is currently writing a sequel.
Iris's Ukelele by Kathy Taylor (2012)
children's fiction / New Zealand category
This won the Tom Fitzgibbon Award in 2011 for a children's fiction text by a previously unpublished NZ writer so I was able to add it to April's TIOLI challenge #19. Read a book that has won a literary prize not previously featured on TIOLI.
This was a fun quick read about friends, with quirky characters and set around a talent quest.
I attended the book launch last week and Kathy Taylor talked about how she dedicated her book to her daughter, Rongomai, who was at first horrified at seeing her name in print and imagining all the teasing she was going to get at school. This was because the main character, Iris, fancies a boy called Elijah and there happens to be an Elijah at Taylor's daughter's school.
Brian Brake lens on the world edited by Athol McCredie (2010)
photography / Baker's Dozen
This was published in conjunction with a Brian Brake photography exhibition back in 2010. I went on the opening day as I was visiting Wellington with my mother at the time. She offered to get me this book afterwards but I declined as I thought it would be an expensive impulse buy.
I got it out of the library a couple of weeks ago and was once again blown away by the beauty of his photography. It includes page spreads from Brake’s photo essays in magazines such as Life and Paris Match. Brake's international career took off in 1955 when he snapped candid images of Picasso and his family at a bullfight. I haven't read much of the text, but there are some incredibly good photographs in this book.
Monsoon Girl, 1960
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal (2010)
fiction / Drop Box category
A fairly deceptive cover on this as it looks like a romantic historical fiction, but in reality it is magical romantic historical fiction. Jane is the 'almost' old maid plain sister who is about to be left on the shelf as her impulsive, but beautiful younger sister rakes in all the attention. But Jane excels at glamour where her sister has only the clumsiest of ability. Glamour creates the most beautiful of illusions to enhance the decor of the home so is a much looked for trait in young ladies of marriageable age.
Ok, for me the story had flaws but overall I relished reading this. Kowal admits a debt to Jane Austen in her acknowledgments, but for me this was more reminiscent of Heyer's Regency romances, anyway worth reading between other more serious works.
I possibly added this to my tbr pile due to a recommendation from Ronincats, not sure how I came across it otherwise.
Me and You by Niccolo Ammaniti (2010)
fiction, italy / Drop Box category
Short but very good novel about a friendless teen boy who hides in the cellar of his apartment building in Rome. His parents think he is on a ski trip with school friends. His estranged adult half-sister turns up, she's a drug addict looking to go straight.
The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman (2011)
fiction / Israel and the Diaspora Category
I was looking forward to reading this as the story of Masada has always appealed and I've never read a fictional take on it. I've visited Masada a few times and wandered through the ruins, seen the remains of the Roman camps down below and marveled at the story of the siege. So this book with such a beautiful cover photograph was giving me thrills of anticipation.
But.....after just a few pages I could sense that I wasn't the target reader. Where I wanted a fairly straightforward fiction based on history type telling, Ms Hoffman was giving me a 'woman scorned' type of story, not once but four times over with the four woman narrators, I had to read through their back stories, how they persevered in their different ways against superstition, with superstition, triumphing against other women, girl poses as boy, witches, witchery, love him but now I love him not, love for all time, girl who 'dances' with lions. Couldn't wait to get to the end....can it happen now please.
Four of the women dovekeepers at Masada narrate their tragic histories and as their current lives entwine closer and closer towards the ending of the Masada seige they begin to embrace their destinies. Motherless Yael, Shirar the witch and her daughter Aziza the warrior, and Revka the widow with her mute grandsons. I think I ended up liking Shirar most but that could be because her story coincided with the quickening pace of the story at the end.
Overall I'd say that readers will either embrace this style of yarn or not. I'm in the 'not' camp and will be looking for my Masada 'fix' elsewhere. I have requested a children's book, The rider and his horse by Erik Haugaard, at my library so will be reading that this month especially as I see it won the 1988 Phoenix Award.
Btw, I loved this Dalek relaxation tape a friend posted on her FB page today.
The pic of the boy with his hand in Picasso's mouth is pretty funny. The old man just looks so indifferent. Looks like a good book.
Thanks for the comments on Shades of Milk and Honey - it's a book of which I've been aware, but hadn't decided to read or not. Based on your review, I think I'll give it a try. Do you have it listed in the April TIOLI wiki?
And those photos are great!
#144: It's Picasso's son!
#145: I couldn't find a challenge to fit the book. It's worth reading as the story is kinda fun, it falls apart a bit at the end but definitely much better than a lot of other books. I liked the main character a lot, her family was based on the Bennetts from Pride and Prejudice though with only two daughters with Jane the 'Elizabeth Bennett' and Melody like Lydia. The father sensible but vague and the mother a total ditz.
I saw the Brian Brake exhibition when it was at Te Papa, and it was fantastic. I've picked up the book a couple of times but put it down again because it's expensive, but I would love to get it at some point.
Brian Brake looks great - must try to find a book of his! And what a shame about The Dovekeepers - I was expecting/hoping for the same as you, so it doesn't look like it's for me either. :(
Blood Red Road by Moira Young (2011)
YA dystopian / Drop Box
This was a lot of fun once I got to grips with the dialogue. Another pageturner that I couldn't put down. The relentless pace due to the short sentences and action-packed plot added to the fun.
Saba's twin brother, Lugh, is kidnapped just before their 18th birthday by 4 black-cloaked strangers who kill her pa. When Saba goes after them, her 9 yr old sister decides to tag along much to her chagrin. Deserts, ruins, wrecker tech, horses and cage fighting and lots of strong female characters. I particularly enjoyed the banter between Saba and Jack, and hope they get to meet up again in book #2.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer (2012)
YA fantasy / Drop Box
Another that I just couldn't put down. A great story based loosely around the Cinderella tale, Cinder is a cyborg and a mechanic. She longs to escape the tyranny of her guardian, then one day Prince Kai visits her market booth to get his android repaired. Comes with a plague and a Lunar race.
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (2002)
fiction / audiobook
Mount TBR category
I really enjoyed listening to this. Wow, I just have to keep reading more of his work. This is my second Murakami and I'm thinking of trying his IQ84 later in the year. Complex, surreal, great characters full of interest and a story that weaves it's way to a satisfying ending. There were moments when I was reminded a bit of American Gods and there's an awful scene involving cats but the rest is pure reading magic.
Finder's Shore by Anna MacKenzie (2011)
YA dystopian, new zealand
Neverending stories category
This is the concluding book in The Sea-Wreck Stranger trilogy and I found it as remarkable as book #1. I especially enjoyed the final third of the book. This is a far more realistic dystopian story than Blood Red Road or Divergent. Ness joins an expedition to go back to her island home to see if there would be any possibility of trade.
#147: Lisa, it was a great exhibition. I'm still torn about getting the book, the Marti Friedlander book is good too.
#148: Eva, the reviewers who like the book so far seem to be ones who don't have a knowledge of Masada or like Hoffman's work. I only finished the book because I'd bought my copy instead of borrowing it. I'm hoping to sell it and get some of my money back.
Our neighbours have procured a donkey for some reason and we now have to put up with a donkey braying intermittently through the day and night. A bit surreal as we theoretically live in the city, but right on the city limits beside a couple of 4 acre properties. We haven't seen it yet, just hear it.
You've had some good books this week. I need to get Kafka on the Shore, it gets such good reviews.
And while it isn't nearly as bad as a braying donkey, I live in the center of a major city next to a guy who thinks he has a farm. Aside from the pack of dogs, cats, turtles and birds, last week he told my husband he was going to get some chickens. I'm sure they'll enjoy the 10 feet of space he'll be able to provide.
You've been doing some interesting reading, recently - and I'm impressed you've gotten so many reviews done!
I'm thinking of reading Cinder this month, but I'm starting to get a sneaky suspicion that I've read it already (pre LT, of course, or I'd know). It doesn't seem likely, given that I don't read much YA, but I guess I'll find out!
I've been looking at Cinder, but I see from the series page that there will be a bunch more coming - looks like I'll be waiting! :)
#150: I can't imagine chickens in a small space, they need to roam.
#151: Dejah - Cinder was published in January so unlikely that you've read it.
#152: Eva - it was good fun. I decided to read it now as I'd seen quite a few reviews saying that it was surprisingly good.
>150 mstrust: You could report him if he gets a rooster. Most cities don't allow roosters, only hens.
The other side of the island by Allegra Goodman (2008)
YA dystopian / Dropbox category
I'm reading a few YA and children's books set on islands for a themed booklist. This one I feel is more a middle grade read though it comes from the YA section of my library.
Honour comes with her parents to Island 365 in the tropical Tranquil Sea. Everything is controlled and manipulated by the Corporation and ruled over by the Earth Mother. Weather is manipulated to be always calm and the children are raised to accept and obey the rules. To Honour's chagrin her parents are different, not always abiding by the rules, they even have the audacity to keep their second child instead of passing him over to a childless couple. They might even be, she can barely consider the thought.....objectors. Fairly thought provoking story but the plot could have been a little tighter.
I'm interested to try her adult fiction.
Eye of the wolf by Daniel Pennac (1984)
children's fiction / Mt TBR category
Sarah Adams won the Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation in 2005 for her translation of this children's fable. A wolf eyes a boy....a boy eyes a wolf. After days of staring...one eye into the other, they share their stories. The wolf tells of his Alaskan childhood and capture, then the young African boy tells of his journey through Africa to the Other World. Mesmerizing. I've enjoyed reading Pennac's The Rights of a Reader and his School Blues memoir, now I need to tackle his crime fiction
Catching up, catching up, some great reviews and those links are brilliant (just wishlisted the Visual Editions Sterne and Composition No. 1). Thanks!
Dark Warning by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick (2012)
children's fiction, ireland, Drop Box
I really liked Fitzpatrick's first children's novel Timecatcher so picked this one up fresh off the press. It's an historical novel set in 18C Dublin. The main character is a young girl, Taney, who has inherited her late mother's talent for second sight. She is befriended by Billy, a crippled orphan, who uses her talent to win at betting. As she begins work with her stepmother at a grand Dublin home, her ability for premonition is darkened by violent attacks on young female servants. This was a rather creepy but predictable story and I loved the descriptions of life in Dublin, especially the Samhain night celebrations, also the interesting cast of characters.
Fitzpatrick is also an illustrator of children's books and I always anticipate reading the works by these talented illustrator turned writer individuals. Others to move from illustrating to writing include Ian Beck and Mal Peet.
The Island Horse by Susan Hughes (2012)
children's fiction, canada / Drop Box
This is a delightful children's story set on Canada's remote Sable Island off the coast of Nova Scotia in the early 1800s. 9 year old Ellie and her father move to the island when he gets work as a shore rescuer. The landscape is bleak, the wind unrelenting, but there is a beauty of sorts in this harsh place. As Ellie starts to make friends with a wild island horse she learns that soon there will be the annual round-up where horses will be taken to the mainland to be sold.
Not only does Hughes in her author's notes make one aware of the history of ship wrecks around the island, she also highlights the recent plight of the wild horses .
Lovely pencil illustrations by Alicia Quist.
Death of a superhero by Anthony McCarten (2005)
fiction, new zealand
This is a great novel for adults that has possible crossover appeal to teens. The story follows both Donald Delpe, a teen boy with terminal cancer and his psychologist - one with no life left to live and the other not living his life.
The book was first published in New Zealand and was set in Wellington, the following year it was published in the UK and edited to set the book in Watford, North London. With it's film script like narrative and Donald's comic book escapism I couldn't resist picking it up. So glad I did, it's quite different but good different.
I picked this book up mainly because McCarten has just written a sequel, In the Absence of Heroes, that has a very appealing plot. Also McCarten will be at next month's Auckland Writer's Festival so I'm hoping to finish the sequel before then.
It was published in Germany and Austria as a YA novel and shortlisted for a German literature prize and won Austria's Youth Literature Prize and has recently been made into a movie starring Andy Serkis.
McCarten is also a playwright and filmaker and is now based in London. Along with Stephen Sinclair, he sued and lost for copyright infringement back in 1998 against the makers of the film The Full Monty which appeared to be a remake of their popular play, Ladies Night. I saw Ladies Night back in the late 1980s and had always assumed The Full Monty was some sort of film version of the play.
Dirt Bomb by Fleur Beale (2011)
YA fiction, new zealand
Once again Fleur Beale writes a great novel for teenage boys set around cars. I thought her Slide the Corner was fantastic, and learnt a lot about rally driving from reading it. This one is not just about getting an abandoned wreck of a Holden Commodore up and running as a 'paddock basher' but also about Jake's change of outlook through the school holidays. This has been shortlisted for the 2012 NZ Post Awards Young Adult fiction and Fleur Beale was awarded the Margaret Mahy Medal for contribution to New Zealand children's literature last month.
#158: Annalisse, I've got couple of the titles wishlisted as well.
I'm also up to date with the Don Quixote group read, having finished Book 1 and now at the halfway point. As it's a year long read I don't need to pick it up again till June.
Catching up on your thread! You really manage to find a lot of interesting dystopian/post-apocalyptic YA books - many of them by New Zealand writers. Would you say that this theme is particularly strong in your country when writing for a young audience, and if so, why is that do you think? Living on islands in the age of global warming? Relative proximity of the pacific islets that will likely drown first?
Up here in Sweden, I see much less domestic post-apocalypse - even if many books on such themes get translated.
Edited for typos...
Those are some interesting questions you've posed. I haven't done a survey of international youth literature with this dystopian theme but I think you'd find there is quite a lot from Australia, the US & UK too.
It does work well though with New Zealand as we already feel fairly isolated here at the end of the world and a possible haven especially if the superpowers went crazy. This type of novel has been popular for a long while with our YA writers and possibly reflects the crisises of the time - nuclear weapons, terrorism, pandemics, natural disasters etc... our physical remoteness could protect us from a lot of this. And I like this sort of read, so tend to seek them out, possibly distorting the statistics.
I'm about to pick up book 2 of another dystopian NZ trilogy by Mandy Hager set on a converted cruise ship and Pacific island and Jack Lasenby's older The Conjuror is now calling to me.
New Zealand literature and film in general has been labelled as gothic.
There's a huge amount here in the US - I'm thinking it's to prepare the younger generation for what the world will be like when they grow up... :) I'm wondering if all "genre fiction" get an upswing when the economy is faltering.
"Has the Kiwi psyche gone over to the Dark Side?"
Funny! Actually, now that I think of it, even a bio-film like An Angel at My Table has quite an amount of Gothic materials. Interesting article!
I saw a reblog of this goodreads guide to dystopian novels which attempts to explain the trends.
Yes, the gothic touch is alive and well here, especially when you compare our tv shows/films with Australian ones. A current popular tv show here is The Almighty Johnsons which is about a bunch of reincarnated Norse Gods trying to get their powers back, a black comedy which I'm fairly convinced would never have seen the light of day in Australia.
Mamzel - I loved Misty of Chincoteague when I was little, I'm pretty sure I still have my battered Scholastic Book Club copy of the book somewhere in the house. So long since I read it so I didn't realise it was also set on an island. The Island Horse was a good story, the girl-horse relationship was never taken past the horse and his mares just following her to a safe haven in some dunes remote from the roundup which was very appropriate for the story. What gave me the shudders was in the author notes Susan Hughes said that in the 1960s there were moves to take all the wild horses off the island and sell them to a petfood factory. Thankfully there was a protest and they are currently under protection.
Matches the Hemline Index as well, doesn't it? Stockmarket bad=long hemlines, stockmarket good=short hemlines.
It doesn't look like I can get The Almighty Johnsons here in the US, but I'll give it a shot when I'm in Sweden - looks great!
Box by Penelope Todd (2005)
YA fiction, new zealand / Mt TBR category
I've been meaning to read this since it came out 7 years ago, just one of those books I kept putting to one side. Quite a thought-provoking novel that should lead to useful classroom discussions about government and personal freedoms.
It's set in a present day New Zealand but one that has a government cuddling up to a multinational pharmaceutical company that makes vaccines against the pandemics that keep flaring up around the world. The government offers up New Zealand for the company to trial Endorsement - a multi vaccine system through the implantation of a small device in the wrist that will also regulate body chemistry and control emotions. It's a massive social experiment and one the teenagers are going to rebel against. The story follows Derik, a 15 yr old abstainer who is on the run.
I liked it quite a lot though I couldn't accept the sweeping acceptance by the majority of adults and tertiary students that the story seemed to take as given. But a good read for this age group.
67c) The Metamorphosis by Frank Kafka (1915)
novella / Short n Sweet category
I listened to this short story after finishing Don Quixote and while I was searching through and sampling some other audiobooks that didn't appeal. I'm now happily ensconced on the island of Corfu with Gerald Durrell and My family and other animals.
This was my first venture into Kafka, a writer that I've long wanted to read but just haven't managed to prioritise. I want to read Ripellino's Magic Prague but need to read more Czech literature before I do. Anyway it was a great diversion, the rest of the audiobook was short stories by Guy de Maupassant but I didn't like the narrator enough to continue.
Just have to mention before I forget, the packing for the Durrell family's trip to Corfu - his oldest brother, writer Lawrence (Larry) Durrell, packs two steamer trunks full of books and carries his clothes in a briefcase.
I followed up on my recent viewing of the film The Hunger Games with a couple of older films that also effect a kind of game/broadcast format. Death Race 2000 is a cult action movie very much a product of the 1970s but I found parts of it rather fun. Today I watched the much more serious Punishment Park (1971) which is a Peter Watkins "pseudo documentary of a British and West German film crew following National Guard soldiers and police as they pursue members of a counterculture group across a Californian desert." I hadn't come across Watkins name before, though unknowingly I had attempted to watch his Norwegian movie, Edward Munch last year but the subtitles did me in. He's British but done most of his work internationally.
Eva - Hope you like what you see, it does descend into nonsense from time to time, but the writers did a great job on Outrageous Fortune, which was a bit of a cult tv show here.
"packs two steamer trunks full of books and carries his clothes in a briefcase."
That's the way to travel!! :)
It looks like Outrageous Fortune is available on my online streaming service, so I'll try that one first!
I have Lawrence Durrel's Alexendria quartet on my shelf for a summer read - its a doorstop!
Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey (1988)
This has been a long term resident on my Mt tbr and I was determined to tackle it this year as it is also a shared book with JanetinLondon who passed away earlier this year. Many of the 75 books group members have been reading shared books or recommended books from her LT library in her memory as she made such an impact on us during the 2 years she was a group member. She had also put together a 2012 planned reading list that several members are reading from.
I read this slowly to savour the writing which is dense and full of wonderful descriptions of place and character. The story is set in the mid 19C and split at first between Oscar's weird religious upbringing in England and Lucinda's unconventional childhood on an Australia farm. Wow, two odder characters you just could not imagine and one waits and waits for them to meet. The first third of the book was interesting, the middle made me squirm, the last third was painful and the ending truly made me appreciate Mr Carey's skill as a writer.
I've now read two books by Peter Carey and will try to make time for his Jack Maggs and True History of the Kelly Gang later this year. I followed up my read with the 1992 movie which stars Cate Blanchett and Ralph Fiennes and while I enjoyed certain scenes, the movie just couldn't do justice to such a complex story and, blasphemy, the ending was changed.
Reach by Hugh Brown (2012)
YA fiction, new zealand
This won the inaugural Tessa Duder YA manuscript Award last year and the book launch was held last month, where I got to meet the author.
This is a realistic novel of a sensitive teenage boy who lives with his grandparents after his parents' marriage breakup. Mostly it's about Will finally making friendships and sorting out his feelings about his mother who walked out five years earlier. What I really enjoyed with this book was the relationship Will had with his grandparents. A satisfying read with memorable characters.
My family and other animals by Gerald Durrell (1956)
fact not fiction
I listened an audio version of the book and loved it all from start to finish. I watched the wonderful 2005 film a couple of years ago and have been meaning to read the book ever since. Durrell observes his family and their Greek friends just as thoroughly as he observes the fauna of Corfu in this (slightly fictionalised) memoir. The Durrells leave the rainy dreary London weather behind and embark on an extended stay on the island of Corfu, only leaving when WW2 is about to start. There are two more books in the Corfu trilogy.
These were all quick reads that I can add to the Dropbox
Island of thieves by Josh Lacey (2012)
A fast paced adventure story set in Peru. Tom is meant to be staying with his Uncle Harvey in London while his parents take off on a childfree holiday, but Uncle Harvey ends up taking him to Peru in pursuit of a treasure from the16C. Unfortunately they have Peru's most notorius gangster on their trail. Quite fun.
Rat Island by Stu Duvall (2011)
A quick piratey read with a little horror mixed in. Not recommended for sensitive children - those rats.....
Monster Island by Justin Richards (2012)
A scifi adventure in the style of Jurassic Park with vicious henchmen and a genetic experiment gone haywire.
Richards has written lots of Dr Who books.
Dirty little secrets by C.J. Omololu (2010)
Dropbox / YA fiction
I saw Luxx 's review and couldn't not read this one. Lucy has managed to hide the truth about her mother and how they live from everyone. She's got 2 years left before graduation and moving out like her older brother and sister have already done, then she'll be able to live a normal life. The cute boy has just asked her on a date, but Lucy has to face the longest night of her life....her mother is a compulsive hoarder, their house is a rubbish tip and the worse thing in the world has just happened.
Really interesting read as the action takes place over one night but as Lucy also delves into the past we see the clues to her mother's deterioration.
The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly (1928)
children's fiction / The Lists category
This won the 1929 Newbery Medal. This historical novel is set in 15C Krakow and is rich in detail of the life and politics of the time as well as telling an exciting tale. The writing is a bit archaic to start with, especially as first, the original legend of the 13C trumpeter must be told in order for the main story to hold. I really enjoyed this and have been meaning to read it since my own visit to Krakow a few years ago.
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (1911)
Mt tbr category
This was a quick audiobook listen as I'm finding it hard to settle to a longer 'listen'. Quite hard to say how I felt about this one, so bleak and sad, yet probably true to how life was in those times.
Fearless by Colin Thompson (2009)
Fearless in love by Colin Thompson (2012)
Both illustrated by Sarah Davis, a NZer living in Australia.
These are both utterly delightful, though I think Fearless in Love edges out the original book for me. The first book is about the unfortunate names we can give our pets (and people) and how they might not live up to them. The second book is about little Fearless following his mother's advice to love all and watch the love flow back...but he 'loves' widely and with too much enthusiasm and earns black marks from the family as he 'loves' their shoes, books, bags, mail etc. Finally he meets Primrose, and begins to understand what love really means.
Colin Thompson writes really well for this age group, I think the fact that he started out as an illustrator gives him the understanding of not overstating the text. He does humour very well too.
A brief history of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper (2008)
YA fiction, australia
This won the Ethel Turner Literature Prize in 2009 and is the first in the Montmaray Journals trilogy. I've already dived into book #2 The FitzOsbornes in exile. This first part of the trilogy is set on the fictional island kingdom of Montmaray in the Bay of Biscay just off the coast of Spain. A tiny barren rock with a castle and a village, the FitzOsbornes have ruled here for over 400 years but the male population was wiped out on the Western Front during WW1 and most of the remaining villagers fled to Cornwall for a better life, leaving the young royals with a couple of servants and a 'mad' king who has been bedridden for years. Sophie FitzOsborne keeps a journal of their last months on the island, the dwindling fortune, and the political intrigue of the tiny kingdom beside a country plunging into civil war.
Highly enjoyable and very likeable cast of characters.
Survival: Alpha Force by Chris Ryan (2002)
YA fiction / Dropbox
This is the first of 10 books in the Alpha Force series by ex-SAS hero Chris Ryan. A bunch of mismatched teenagers end up fighting for survival on a remote tropical island in the Indonesian Sea. When they are finally able to put egos aside and work as a team they find themselves able to cope with the dangers they face....white shark attack, komodo dragons, deadly pirates etc etc. I love these type of adventure stories and found this a lively relief to the opening chapter of Beauty Queens which is another survival in the wild story. Recommended to young teens who savour thrilling adventure.
The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufman (2010)
Short n Sweet
This was first published by Madras Press who 'publish individually bound short stories and novella-length booklets and distributes the proceeds to a growing list of charitable organizations chosen by our authors.'
The appealing hardcovered edition I read was published by The Friday Project (a HarperCollins imprint) and the look of the book was one of the main reasons I picked it up. This is a fable-like story, fairly absurd but I like that. A gun-wielding robber holds up a bank and demands from the customers and staff - not their valuables or money but an item of the most sentimental value to them.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (2012)
YA fiction / Dropbox
I just could not put this book down, I had to know how it ended. The plot takes some unravelling at the start as it's one of those backwards and forwards reads where the narrator is in the story but telling it from the POV of another character. Queenie is being interrogated by the Gestapo, she's been arrested in France as an enemy agent and is writing a confession for the supervising officer in between torture sessions.
Wein is a pilot and wanted to bring to life one of the more forgotten areas of World War Two - the women pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). But how she does it is fairly remarkable and in her author notes she says that she worked very hard to make sure each major plot point was plausible. I got so wrapped up in the story that I was happy to lay aside a few quibbles.
The Third Man by Graham Greene (1949)
favourite writers category
Another audiobook listen as I just haven't felt like listening to a longer book as yet. I found this mystery thriller quite hard to follow as the narration switches between two characters and I didn't always notice. It's set in postwar Vienna, the city is divided into sectors each one controlled by a different Allied Power. There is a blackmarket and a large number of displaced persons still arriving from Eastern Europe and Russian control. A down at heels writer arrives from England to find that his old school friend has just died after being knocked down by a car, but as he asks questions the witnesses' testimonies don't add up. Fairly thrilling ending set underground that I'd love to see on film.
I see on wikipedia that this novella was written as prep for the screenplay of the movie.
saw the film of the third man relatively recently and would recommend it if you like B&W Noir style films
Wow you've been a busy reader, Kerry. Some great reviews as always. Dirty Little Secrets sounds like an interesting premise, and Fearless looks gorgeous.
I aim to get to the Alexandria Quartet later this year so will be sure to let you know when I review it...
>171 avatiakh: Peter Carey does seem to have the effect of getting the reader to look for more. I saw the movie of Oscar and Lucinda first, which sent me to the book and as you say, very skillful writing. Jack Maggs sent me back to Great Expectations for a reread. The Kelly Gang was referenced in something else I read and if I had not read The True History..., I would not have known what was meant. I hope you get to read these soon. The Kelly Gang is quite a quick read if you are pressed for time.
>170 psutto:, >184 psutto: The Quartet has been on my partially read pile for some time. It's and odd thing; I like the writing and the book, but somehow I always pick up something else. I'll be following your reads of it with interest.
I'm planning to read both A Brief History of Montmaray and Code Name Verity this year, so I was really glad to see positive reviews of them both! Code Name Verity is already on hold for me at the library. :)
For some reason I believed that A Brief History of Montmaray involved WWII in some way...is that the case, or am I confused?
A Brief History of Montmaray takes place from October 1936 thru' Jan 1937, so it's the build up to the war. Mostly deals with the nonintervention policy with the Spanish Civil War. I liked it because it does talk the politics of the time and they do get a visit from the Germans. I don't want to say too much more in case I spoil the plot.
Now I'm reading the next book and the characters are in England and Guernica has been bombed. It still deals with politics but the war hasn't started. The title of the 3rd books is The FitzOsbornes at War, so I think we'll have to wait till then.
I'm enjoying the characters and like the journal style.
I really liked Code Name Verity, some might not like how it's been constructed but I thought it succeeded rather well.
@ 188 -- OK, thanks for the info. From your reviews, I think I'm going to like both books!
I'm catching up and you've gotten through so much in just a few days! How many are you up to so far?
I too have recently seen the movie "The Third Man", maybe just a month ago, and enjoyed it as I'm a noir fan.
You've got several listed that sound good, like Dirty Little Secrets, and Ethan Frome is my favorite from Wharton. Tragic, yes, but sooo good.
Wow - you've posted a lot of reviews since I last visited!
My Family and Other Animals was already on my list, but you've pushed it up.
Code Name Verity looks great, but no luck with my library, I'm afraid. I'll check with my librarian and try to convince her to order it.
I studied Ethan Frome in high school, and I have to say I have no desire to revisit it - although I have to wonder if it might not be better appreciated by adults.
Thanks for the reviews!
I read Ethan Frome in high school as well and didn't like it. Although it probably IS better appreciated by adults, I have no desire to reread it because my high school teacher pretty much ruined the book by saying in her superior tone "If you don't like this book, it's simply because you're not ready for it." So I refuse to like it ever. :) Teachers should really be careful what they say, but I think this really was too much of a literary snob to teach high school.
@181 - gutted that I missed the ever brilliant secret cinema's last event
>192 Dejah_Thoris:, 193 I do see on LT how often people say a particular teacher ruined a certain classic for them to the point of holding a grudge against the book itself. I had the opposite experience. There I was in my Iron Maiden t-shirt and ended up in the English class of a teacher who spent every summer studying in Oxford. She was my introduction to The Romantic Poets, Beowulf, King Arthur and more, and while most of the class couldn't have cared less, there's always the one kid like me who does and she recognized that. She gave me a copy of Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time simply because I was the only one in class who had heard of the princes in the tower incident.
Mister Blue by Jaques Poulin (1989) (2011 Eng)
A introverted type of story that I cherished and read slowly over a few days. A lonely writer struggles to write a love story while seeking an elusive woman that he can never quite seem to meet. I loved the characters in the book and how they evolved.
Atherton #1 House of Power by Patrick Carman (2007)
childrens scifi / Mt tbr
Really loved this and will be reading the rest of the trilogy. TadAD recommended this series a couple of years ago when I posted about Carman's Skeleton Creek. Best not to say too much about the plot as the first book is a slow reveal of the environment of Atherton.
The FitzOsbornes in Exile by Michelle Cooper (2010)
Montmaray Journals Bk2
YA fiction, australia
Carrying straight on from the first book, the FitzOsbornes are now in exile in England, living with their aunt and being presented to society. But all they want is to bring the invasion of their island kingdom to the attention of the British government. The focus of this book is the politics of the time and Cooper manages to squeeze so much into the pages and yet still keep the story ticking over and compelling while leading up to the outbreak of WW2. This series would be a great read for teen girls interested in modern history. While Montmaray is a fictional kingdom, Cooper writes about other historical events and people as accurately as possible.
I've dived straight into book 3 of the trilogy The FitzOsbornes at War, mainly because it is a library book that will soon be due back but also because I'm enjoying the FitzOsbornes so much.
A man you can bank on by Derek Hansen (2011)
fiction / Australia
This is a crime caper with killings, robbery, thuggery and a few Jack Russell terriers. Most of the action takes place in a rural New South Wales community where the proceeds from a robbery were hidden ten years earlier. This was a highly enjoyable read with an interesting cast of characters and a plot that takes one on a great, at times hilarious, romp.
Derek Hansen grew up in New Zealand but has lived in Australia for the past many years. http://www.derekhansen.com.au/
I've had several of his books on my tbr pile for a long while and two keep reaching out to me, Lunch with the Generals and his childhood memoir, Remember Me.
The fairy gunmother by Daniel Pennac (1987 French) (1997 English trans)
fiction / Mt tbr
This is the second book in the Benjamin Malaussène series, about 4 of them have been translated to English. I've had trouble tracking down the first book, The Scapegoat, but on the strength of reading this I've ordered one from amazon.uk marketplace which has to come to me via my London-based daughter.
Pennac sets his story in the Bellevue quarter of Paris alongside the Pere Lachoise cemetery. The various crimes happening in the neighbourhood all seemingly centre around the innocent Benjamin Malaussène - drug running, fraud, abduction, murder etc etc. Another tale that's packed with a wonderful array of characters with moments of hilarity, chaos and poignance.
"Belleville – home to one of Paris’s lively Chinatowns, a burgeoning artist quarter and a dizzying array of cultures. Belleville has always been a working class neighborhood, with immigration generating much of the area's zest. What started in the 1920's with Greeks, Jews and Armenians led to waves of North Africans, Sub-Saharan Africans and Chinese immigrants settling here. Cheap rents have also led artists to flow into the area, making it an ideal spot for their ateliers. Belleville may not provide a typical experience of Paris, but its energy and diversity are certainly worth checking out." - about.com Paris
The Betrayal by Mary Hooper (2009)
YA fiction/ Dropbox
This is the third book in the At the House of the Magician trilogy and while I hadn't read the other two books it didn't really seem to matter. In this one Lucy, the nursemaid in Dr Dee's household comes to London to help prepare a house for the Dee family and she becomes involved in uncovering a plot against Queen Elizabeth I. The story is set in the weeks leading up to the execution of Queen Mary of Scots in 1587. The narration was great once again, something I've come to enjoy with Hooper's books and makes the listening experience a simple joy in one's day. Dr Dee, a real-life figure was Queen Elizabeth's scientific advisor and Court Magician. Hooper really brought the streets of Elizabethan London to life in this.
Tam Lin retold by Susan Cooper (1991)
children's folktale / Baker's Dozen
A lovely retelling of Tam Lin with watercolour illustrations by Warwick Hutton.
Brief interviews with hideous men by David Foster Wallace - audiobook narrated by DFW
Rangatira by Paula Morris
The absence of heroes by Anthony McCarten
Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera
Earth Dragon Fire Hare by Ken Catran
The Benjamin Malaussène series sounds like it might be worth checking out. Thanks for bringing it to light.
I wrote up my experiences as a volunteer/attendee at last week's Auckland Writers and Readers Festival on my 75 thread if anyone is interested in it. Goes from approx #196-#208
I'm not enjoying my category choices so much, most of my reading seems to be ending up in my 'Dropbox' category so I'll have to be more imaginative with my categories next year.
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace (1999)
stories / iPod audio
I was prompted to pick this one after following sibyx 's recent read of Infinite Jest and as this is only 3 or 4 hours of listening rather than over 1000 pgs of IJ I thought it was a easier place to start. I really don't think I would have finished this collection if I'd been reading it. One of the last stories is quite painful, most are fairly intense and it did take some sorting out with hearing the 'q' (queue?, cue?) constantly, but a quick google search sorted out what it meant. I loved having DFW himself as the narrator. Now I've got the print copy on it's way to me and I'll be keen to relook at a few of the stories in print form.
This was my first foray into DFW apart from reading the essay Consider the lobster a couple of years ago.
As I was finishing up I was reminded of a NYer fiction podcast I'd listened to a couple of months ago of John Cheever's The Swimmer.
I hate realising I have mis chosen categories, it's ok if it's just the odd painful 1 but there is a lot to be said for a revamp I mean it's only May :)
#202: I'm thinking about a revamp for a couple.
In the absence of heroes by Anthony McCarten (2012)
fiction, new zealand
This is a sequel of sorts to Death of a Superhero, but could also be a standalone read. Here we find the Delpe family a year on from Donald Delpe's tragic death from cancer. The parents and remaining brother Jeff, 18, are still dealing with their grief and the family has fragmented. When Jeff runs away from home, his father, Jim goes looking for him in an online game while the mother finds solace with a religious online support group. Reality versus the virtual world and how the lines can merge. I probably didn't enjoy this one as much as the first book but that was a total blast and this is going in a different direction.
I'm impressed with McCarten's writing and will be trying his other work. Hoping to get to the new edition of Brilliance which is about Thomas Edison's friendship with J.P. Morgan, especially after listening to McCarten read from it last week.
Under the Domim Tree by Gila Almagor (1992)
Gila Almagor is one of Israel's most famous actresses and she acted in one of my favourite Israeli war movies - 'Every bastard a king'. She's written two books based on her own childhood and this is the second one. Both have been made into movies.
Under the Domim Tree is set in the 1950s at an Israeli youth village where young Holocaust survivors and Israeli children from troubled homes live together. The story focuses on three of these girls and how they support each other as they deal with the tragedy in their pasts. Very moving.
Phantoms on the bookshelves by Jaques Bonnet (2008 French) (2010 English)
Fact not fiction
An ode to book collectors and book accumulators, home libraries and those who love to read. Lots of great quotes, ideas and general biblio talk. Very French in flavour which I enjoyed, though many of the writers referenced I hadn't heard of or know very little about. Bonnet works in publishing and has built up a library of approx 40,000 books, all stashed around his Paris apartment. The first thing you learn when you accumulate a collection of this size is that you must stay put - moving house is never an option. At the start he quotes several times from Carlos María Domínguez's The House of Paper. I enjoyed this but wouldn't call it a 'must read'.
Earth dragon, fire hare by Ken Catran (2012)
YA, new zealand
Catran is another of my favourite NZ writers for teens. Over the years he's written some great scifi, chilling thrillers and wonderful historical fiction. But it's his war fiction for the YA market that sees him at his very best. He did a quartet of books about each generation of the fighting Moran family covering WW1 through to the conflict in Iraq. This year he has already published two books on lesser known conflicts. The first is When Empire Calls and is about the the Boer War and the conflict's effect on those left behind in New Zealand and now with Earth dragon, fire hare he covers the Malayan Emergency conflict which was fought out between Malayan communist fighters and British Commonwealth troops in the years after WW2.
The story revolves around 2 soldiers from both sides of the conflict, we meet them as young boys and see how they are shaped into their beliefs and evolve into fighting men. They are loosely linked through a Chinese horoscope, hence the title, Ng being Earth dragon and Peter as Fire Hare, their paths fated to cross. Catran remains objective which makes this an interesting read as there is honour and tragedy on both sides of this conflict.
I think I want his apartment - any place that can hold 40,000 books must be fabulous! Were there pictures?
No pictures, but from his descriptions I got more of an idea of order within chaos, books in the bathroom etc etc than an elegant roomy home. You don't move house because you know where everything resides, so moving it would unhinge your brain.
Now I'm reading David Lebovitz's The Sweet Life in Paris and he's describing how his minute 2 room Paris apartment turned into one big kitchen - noisy icecream makers churning away in the bedroom, open shelved commercial sized pantry in the living area, cooked stuff cooling on the rooftop and doing dishes in the bath.
Rangatira by Paula Morris (2011)
fiction, new zealand
While visiting Auckland to deal with Native Land Court proceedings in 1888, Ngati Wai chief Paratene Te Manu agrees to have his portrait painted by Bohemian artist, Gottfried Lindauer who is about to travel to London. During the sitting, the reserved Paratene reminisces on his own visit to England twenty years earlier.
I enjoyed reading this and liked how Morris structured the story. Paratene's voice was very clear throughout.
From an interview: 'Morris came across the picture of Paratene when she was researching her second novel, Hibiscus Coast, which includes a plot about a forger of Goldie paintings. While going through material on Goldie, she saw the painting by Lindauer, Goldie's contemporary. As she read an attached biographical note, she realised that Paratene Te Mutu was a matua, a male relative of her great-great- grandparents on Little Barrier Island, before Paratene was forcibly evicted from the island near the end of the 19th century.
"I started getting really interested in the story."
She found a short oral history, a life story dictated by Paratene in 1896, before his eviction from Little Barrier. It talked about his trip to England in 1863 with a party of northern chiefs, and earlier still, his role in the musket wars in the 1820s. Such good material, Morris thought, with Paratene then in his nineties looking back.'
The cover photo is of the actual portrait which is unfortunately not on public display.
The Jump Artist by Austin Ratner (2009)
fiction / Israel and the Diaspora
A really interesting read, this first novel by Ratner won the 2011 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. I came across the novel when investigating the Sami Rohr Prize a few months ago. I'd never heard of Philippe Halsman before, but when I googled his work as a photographer found that I was familiar with many of his famous images. This book captures more than just the tragic details of Halsman's early life, it looks right into the soul of a vulnerable young man. Halsman was the young man at the centre of the 1928/29 “Austrian Dreyfus Affair,” and this is his story.
There is an excellent interview with Ratner about his book here at Harper's Quarterly
Doing my post-holiday catch-up - lots of bookbullets overe here, I see. How unusual. :)
I was planning on watching the movie of Oscar and Lucinda, but if they've changed it so much, I'll go with the book instead. I have a copy of Bliss, but I can't remember if I've actually read it. Will be putting The Tiny Wife and The Scapegoat on the wishlist - one for the funny and both for the quirk. :) Great write-up of the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival - sounds like a blast! I've not read Under the Domim Tree, but highly recommend the movie if you haven't seen it yet.
Dotter of her father's eyes by Mary M. Talbot & Bryan Talbot (2012)
graphic novel / Baker's Dozen
Quite an interesting concept, Mary Talbot ties her own upbringing with that of James Joyce's daughter Lucia. The binding tie is that Mary's father was a respected Joycean scholar and both daughters came up against parental objections when coming of age. I found myself interested in both stories. And husband, Bryan Talbot's artwork is a delight.
From her website: Mary Talbot is an internationally acclaimed scholar who has published widely on language, gender and power, particularly in relation to media and consumer culture. Dotter is the first work she has undertaken in the graphic novel format.
Skios by Michael Frayn (2012)
fiction/ Drop Box
Couldn't resist picking this one up after reading a blurb about it somewhere. It's a farce of sorts about mistaken identity which basically turns into a comedy of errors. It's a bit too silly for it's own good in the end but an entertaining enough light read.
The Toppler Foundation on the Greek island of Skios is about to hold their most important event of the year, the annual lecture, but when Nikki goes to the airport to pick up the guest speaker, she manages to collect the wrong man.
The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City by David Lebovitz (2009)
Fact not Fiction
I occasionally read David Lebovitz's foodie blog which he started soon after arriving in Paris about 8 years ago. His blog is sort of a food guide to Paris with recipes, he blogs where to find ingredients, where to eat, what to eat, where to avoid, useful apps for Paris, and a general guide to the cultural blunders the average US tourist tends to unwittingly make.
He's written several dessert cookbooks and worked at notable restaurants in San Francisco before arriving to a new life in Paris. Each chapter features a couple of interesting recipes including a few I'd like to try such as lemon glazed madeleines.
This was quite amusing, and felt like catching up on a whole lot of his blogs all at once. He captures some of the more frustrating aspects of living in Paris and the French way of doing things. He also provides a glimpse into the wonderful foodie heaven Paris can be, and along the way you learn of many of his own faux-pas moments.
Like I mentioned earlier, this read like his blog entries and for a book, it read a little too unedited, he's been given too much freedom and comes across as a bit of an idiot at times, which is a shame as he's a great professional cook who is living his dream - researching and writing cookbooks while living in Paris.
His Paris Pastry e-guide looks like a foodies' guide to sweet heaven.
I thought The Sweet Life in Paris would be delightful but I need a writer, not a blogger. But I'll check out his blog because Paris/pastries is a fantasy of mine. Thanks for pointing the way!
I'm putting Dotter of Her Father's Eyes on the wishlist.
I did a double-take at the title - "dotter" means "daughter" in Swedish, so my mind automatically went there before I understood what was actually meant. It works too, though. :)
#211: The book is worth a look once you get to know him on the blog, as it introduces his 'start' in Paris. But overall I like his blog for the photos that fully illustrate his writing.
#212: Joyce used some unusual language which is in the book, to be honest I hadn't thought about the title and just imagined that it was a Joycean play on 'daughter'. Learnt some more today, so thanks. It was interesting to learn a little about Joyce and his family in this GN format.
'Most fathers remain enigmas to their children, and it’s this attempt to understand her father’s motivations and moods—to get behind both his public and home personas, and in turn closure—that makes Mary’s writing so intriguing. Like the title’s pun suggests, Mary Talbot is wrapping up her father’s business, his memory and legacy. Dotting his eyes and crossing his tease.' from Comic Book Alliance
The Loblolly Boy and the Sorcerer by James Norcliffe (2011)
children's fantasy, new zealand
Christchurch poet, James Norcliffe has come up with a richly imagined fantasy. I loved the first book and the sequel is just as good, the range of quirky characters increases to include a sorceror, a gadget man and 3 jugglers. All Ben, the current loblolly boy, wants is to be himself again and exchange with the boy who took his place. This proves much harder than he ever thought.
The Loblolly Boy won the Junior Fiction Award a couple of years ago and this one was on this year's shortlist. I've now got Norcliffe's latest fantasy The Enchanted Flute lined up.
>214 avatiakh: More interesting sounding YA from New Zealand!!! Is there something in your water?
Life by Keith Richards & James Fox (2010)
memoir/ Fact not Fiction
I heard so much praise heaped on this audio narrative here on LT that I firstly downloaded it for my son to listen to, he's a guitar teacher. But the library's audio setup did not cross over to his iPhone so I listened to it instead. From the first opening sentences I was hooked. The book is narrated by Johnny Depp and Joe Hurley with a small contribution by Richards himself.
What a great, incredible story - loved every minute. Apart from re-visiting the Stones' own music, I now have to track down other music mentioned in the book. Richards talked up so many musicians and collaborated on several projects, I need to hear it all.
One can't overstate how great the narration is :
'When Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards decided who would help him narrate the English-language audio book of his memoir "Life," he chose Johnny Depp and a relatively unknown musician named Joe Hurley, the lead singer of the New York City-based rock band Rogue's March.'
In fact, when the real Keith Richards reads the end of the book, I missed Joe's version of Keith Richards - yes, I thought Joe Hurley was better at being Keith Richards than Keith Richards was."
- JULIA SWEENEY BLUM- SNL , 'Pulp Fiction'
"Johnny Depp's interpretation was expectedly great, and I thought, how can anyone follow that? But Joe Hurley carries on superbly, in a grand gritty style that leaves no question that he is well familiar with that hard road that Keith traveled down. From Keith's acoustic songwriting to the excitement of the Stones on stage, and from the shrieking damp clubs of London to the tangles with the law, you are there with Keith because Hurley makes it so."
- R&R Hall-Of-Famer Dennis Dunaway, Alice Cooper Group.
Johnny Depp reading Richards' bio sounds pretty darn great. I recently saw him talking about finding Thompson's manuscript of The Rum Diary, so I had to see the movie immediately.
I wasn't immensely interested in Richards' book, but with that reader-lineup, I'm definintely adding the audio to my wishlist. Depp does the narrating and Hurley does Richards' lines?
"Joe Hurley was better at being Keith Richards than Keith Richards was"
I'm very intrigued - I love great readers!
Joe Hurley was brilliant, even when I was listening to it I knew that I would never have enjoyed just reading it. I did sneak a peek at the photos when I was in a bookshop one day and I'll have to get a copy out from the library to check up on some of the musicians' names and song titles. Johnny Depp was really good as well, but after listening to Hurley through the 60s and 70s, it was hard to let go.
Lately I've been looking at the picturebooks of Davide Cali, he's Swiss Italian, lives in Italy but publishes quite often in France. He writes and has worked with different illustrators so it's interesting to see the variety of styles. Last year I came across his work when I read The Bear with the Sword (illustrated by Gianluca Foli), it had been included in the International Youth Library's White Ravens catalogue which is always worth checking out for something different and new. He also writes graphic novels but I haven't come across any in my library. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on his latest book '10 little insects'.
What is this thing called love?by Davide Cali & illusrated by Anna Laura Cantone (2011)
When Emma asks the different family members about love she gets a different answer from each one. Her mother, a keen gardener, says it is something that blooms slowly and takes time. Her father, who loves football, says it just hits you BAM, like a goal etc etc
What I loved is the growing sense of family love as grandma, grandpa, mother, father all participate in Emma's understanding and confusion. I loved the slightly offbeat ending. The illustration style works really well here as the story could get a little saccharine with a more traditional treatment but not with these illustrations.
Take a peek at the book on youtube teamed with Ella Fitzgerald.
Piano piano by Davide Cali illustrated by Eric Heliot (2005)
Cali takes an age old dilemma and gives it fresh life, the parent wanting their child to be a musical prodigy and the child hating practising the instrument. Marcolino feels obliged to master the piano, his mother sacrificed her own musical career for him, or so he thought. When grand-dad comes to visit he finds out what really happened when his mother was his age. Simple humour, fun tied with retro illustrations.
I can't wait by Davide Cali and illustrated by Serge Bloch (2005)
Wow, take a strand of red embroidery thread and weave it in and out of the story of the thread of life. Such a simple idea that works so well with the text and the thinly inked black figures on an expanse of white background. The book is an unusual size and looks like a rectangular envelope. Every thing about this is minimalist and it really works.
Definitely seeking out Serge Bloch's work.
Icefall by Matthew Kirby (2011)
children's fiction / Dropbox
I got this from the library after seeing several positive reviews and wasn't at all disappointed. This is a great children's story set in Viking times and rich with Nordic myth. The heroine, Solveig, is the middle child of the local chief. Overlooked due to her older sister's beauty and her younger brother as heir, she cultivates the fortitude, leadership and bravery needed to survive treachery and the enemy when the children and protectors are sent to a hidden fjord-haven for the winter as their father goes to war. This is exciting and tense and comes with berserkers, a raven and skalds.
97) Suddenly a knock on the door by Etgar Keret (2012)
short stories/israel category
This is another brilliant collection of stories by Keret. How does he do it, some of his flash fiction is just so affecting - in the two pages of 'Parallel Universes' he manages to convey the tragedy of an unwanted love. Other stories are punchbowls of humour, silliness, absurdness but all still have wonderful 'soul'. Recommended to all of you who have yet to discover this guy.
I've been wanting to get hold of The Girl on the Fridge for such a long time now. He sounds like an imaginative author and once someone has one of his books they don't let go.
"How does he do it"
Seconding that question! So, so poignant it is, Mr. Keret's writing.
Sea Hearts (Aust/NZ title) or The Brides of Rollrock Island (UK/US title) by Margo Lanagan (2012)
YA fantasy/ Australia
A beautifully haunting novel based on selkie folklore. The book was first published as a short story in an anthology and then it was suggested to Lanagan that she might try extending it to novel length. The island of Rollrock is bleak and inhabited by simple fishing folk. Young embittered Misskaella, once an ugly misshapen child, can call seal-brides for the men in exchange for harsh payment. The men fall for the bewitching charms of the selkie brides and so their women-folk all leave for the mainland. So the sea-witch, Misskaella, has her revenge on those who taunted her but the price for the Rollrock folk is high. The story is told from a variety of viewpoints and takes place over the lifetime of the sea-witch.
I sought out the movie The Secret of Roan Inish last year as I couldn't find the book, The Secret of Ron Mor Skerry by Rosalie K. Fry that it was based on. It's well worth watching if you want to really delve into the selkie story and explore the lifestyles of these Celtic folk.
I'll be reading Red Rocks by Rachael King soon, this is a New Zealand children's book based on the same selkie folklore but set on the Kapiti Coast.
God is Back: How the Global Rise of Faith is Changing the World by Adrian Wooldridge & John Micklethwait (2009)
nonfiction/ God is Back
This kicks off one of my 12in12 categories which is focused on religious retellings in literature but the category is named 'God is Back' to prompt me to finally read it this year. I heard Adrian Woolridge speak several times at our Writers Festival a couple of years ago and bought his book as a follow up. Woolridge is an editor at The Economist and Micklethwait is their Washington Bureau Chief.
This book takes a look at the role religion has played in the history of the 20th and 21st century. The first part of the book looks over the past 200 years of European history and how secular these countries have become, then turns to the development of religion, especially evangelism in the US and how religion has become such an important factor in society there. After delving into the business side of Christianity in the US, the book turns to a more global sweep looking over the Muslim world, the missionising by Christians from the US and Korea and how religion fits into modern politics and society.
I found this quite a fascinating read though I had to take my time with it and I've probably forgotten most of the content. I found the part explaining why religion has taken such a strong hold in the US especially interesting.
Now I can look forward to some of the fiction I have lined up for this category including:
The Book of Rachael by Leslie Cannold (Aust)
The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman (UK)
The Four Wise Men by Michel Tournier (Fr)
Not wanted on the voyage by Timothy Findley (Canada)
My name was Judas by C.K. Stead (NZ)
>224 avatiakh: What Eva said. Literally. Will read Tender Morsels as part of this year's challenge.
I can't believe I haven't grabbed a copy of Sea Hearts yet I loved most of what she has written. Great review btw
Claire, I have had it on my bookshelves since February glaring down at me!
How the soldier repairs the gramophone by Saša Stanišic (2006)
The Lists category
'The young Bosnian writer Saša Stanišić was 14 years old when he arrived in Germany. He wrote a novel in German that became a huge success in 2006, yet he does not like to be considered either a celebrity nor held up as an example of successful integration....Aleksander’s story is also a little bit of Saša Stanišić’s story. He too fled with his parents from Višegrad to Germany and the experience also changed and marked him: “The war and the escape combined to turn me into an eternal traveller, someone who is at home everywhere, and if that is not possible, into someone who is never at home anywhere. Moreover I have absorbed the experience of existential fear of that time to such an extent that today I have a very low happiness threshold. I feel joy at the smallest things and don’t allow myself to become stressed by a tax return.”'http://www.goethe.de
This book is quite tough read, the exuberant storytelling jumps around quite a bit and leaves a lot unsaid, you're never sure exactly what is happening. It's told from the POV of a young boy from just before the genocide in Visegrad to his return from Germany for a visit ten years later. Sometimes the narrative is a little vague as the boy Aleksander is not really taking in the politics or reality of what is happening, just that things are happening. There is an especially painful retelling of a football match between the opposing sides during a truce, but it doesn't altogether go as simply or as honourably as the 1915 Christmas Day football match on the Western Front.
I started this in January for the reading Globally theme read, got distracted but knew I wanted to finish it for my 12in12 challenge. Some might get a little impatient with the style, I'm fairly tolerant especially when it deals with such a terrible event.
One thing this book has left me with is an urgent sense to know more about the modern history of this region of the Balkans.
The book was shortlisted for International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Longlist, 2010, Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction finalist (2009), and won the Bremer Literaturpreis for Förderpreis (2007) and possibly several others within Germany.
It also won the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize (translator: Anthea Bell, 2009) - she certainly captured the spirit of the book.
The Whispering Land by Gerard Durrell (1961)
This is the story of Durrell's trip to Argentina to study the fur seals, sea lions and penguins of Patagonia and then his travels to Jujuy province to collect tropical animals for his private zoo. I adored this little marvel of travel writing, Durrell captures the spirit of life on working estancias, the local people, the hard landscape of the south, the bureaucracy of Buenos Aires customs agents perfectly. Easy to fall under the spell of Durrell's charm, I've now added Menagerie Manor to my tbr.
Fallen Words: eight moral comedies by Yoshihiro Tatsumi (2012)
graphic novel / Baker's Dozen category
Eight stories, each with a moral dilemma of sorts. I enjoyed these little black comedies.
Insurgent by Veronica Roth (2012)
YA fiction / Neverending category or Next in Series
This is the second book in the Divergent trilogy. I found this to be quite brutal but fairly compelling reading with perhaps a little too much dithering and angst around the 'trust', 'does he love me', 'motives' etc etc. The ending was excellent, can't wait for the third book.
The Scent of Apples by Jacquie McRae (2011)
new zealand, YA
This was included in the International Youth Library's White Raven's List for 2012 so I felt obliged to read it. I did give up and abandon the book in the early stages, but my friend insisted I give it another go, so I did. Yes, it ended up a decent read, my problems with the girl's mother were eventually almost resolved, some plot details although slight and insignificant weren't realistic. The story is about coping with grief. Libby lives with her parents and grandparents on an apple orchard farm. When she loses her grandfather in an accident and her grandmother becomes unresponsive, Libby finds it hard to cope. Her mother is totally unsympathetic, her father absent through work and Libby starts uncontrollably pulling out her hair.
Altogether a rather good debut novel though I've read enough of these type of YAs.
I am so looking forward to the Divergent-series being done so I can get started! :)
On Roth's website she says it will be a year or so until the third one is finished. Bummer.
The hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O'Shea (1985)
children's fantasy, Ireland / The Lists category
This is included in the 1001 children's books you must read before you grow up and is a classic fantasy based on Irish folklore. I've been meaning to read this one for a few years, and since I named my black cat Morrigan earlier this year, I knew this was the time for it.
The Morrígan is goddess of battle, strife, and sovereignty, she sometimes, as in this book, appears as a trio of sisters. Two young children are sent on a quest in west Ireland, into the land of faerie, they are being trailed by the Morrigan's hounds as she also seeks the object they are after, it will give her all her power back and bring destruction to our world. The children are helped by all manner of odd people and beast, some they find later are the one and same - Brigit, goddess of the hearth and Angus Og, god of love and many other wonderful heroes of Irish folklore. The hounds can take on human form which they do from time to time.
I enjoyed this, though at times the quest seemed to be a bit endless, the climax was great and the two children were brave and loyal as well as true to their ages - Pidge is about 11 and Brigit only 5. There is magic, humour and bravery and the three Morrigan sisters had their quirks as well. I rushed the second half of my reading to finish by the end of June and that was probably a mistake.
The Book of Human Insects by Osamu Tezuka (2011)
graphic novel - manga / Bakers Dozen category
This is a noirish thriller type read that I couldn't put down. The main character, Toshiko Tomura, is a stunning young woman who excells at everything she turns to. It soon becomes clear that she's sucking dry and/or imitating the talent, or just plain stealing it from those she gets close to. She'll even commit a murder or two or three to meet her ends. She's like an empty shell that has to live on others like some sort of parasite in order to get ahead. And she's really good at what she does.
This is creepy but good and the artwork is great.
Wikipedia: Osamu Tezuka (手塚 治虫, born 手塚 治 Tezuka Osamu, 1928 – 1989) was a Japanese cartoonist, manga artist, animator, producer, activist and medical doctor who never practiced medicine. Born in Osaka Prefecture, he is best known as the creator of Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion and Black Jack. He is often credited as the "Godfather of Anime", and is often considered the Japanese equivalent to Walt Disney, who served as a major inspiration during his formative years. His prolific output, pioneering techniques, and innovative redefinitions of genres earned him such titles as "the father of manga", "the god of comics" and "kamisama of manga"
Loved Durrell growing up, perhaps I should revisit more of his books? the book of human insects sounds interesting
The Book of Human Insects has a ginormous queue at my local library - I'm getting in line!! :)
The Bamboo Flute by Garry Disher (1992)
australia, children's fiction
Once I found out that I was related, very distantly, to a writer well I just had to try one of his books. He's also written a couple of crime series and I'm tracking down the first book in one of them to try as well. This was a great little read, set during Australia's depression years in the early 1930s in a rural area of South Australia. The story gives us a glimpse into a bygone era of hardship and struggle, of the lives of soldiers, home from the war but unable to re-enter society, who 'choose' the life of a swagman. Paul's father and his teacher also fought in the Great War and carry scars both internal and external.
This won the 1993 Australia Book of the Year for the younger reader.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (2012)
The Grisha Book 1
This started off really well for me and ended up as quite a good read. For me the downside was the emphasis on romance rather than friendship or comradery. I'm not that keen on too much loveydovey stuff in my fantasy reading, so it loses points for that. Overall quite a compelling storyline, if the reviews are good for book 2 I'll be back for more.
The Hidden Gallery by Maryrose Wood (2011)
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #2
children's fiction/ Neverending Stories category
Really enjoyed my second outing with the feral wolf children. Here they continue to endear themselves to the reader, the plot thickens a tad more and book #3 beckons me.
The Waiting Game by Bernice Rubens (1997)
I read a lot of Bernice Rubens last year and it was great to have a quick revisit here. This is set in a rest home and Rubens manages another excellent little black comedy. I was quite keen to read this since reading Muriel Spark's Memento Mori last year as both feature rest homes.
Gillespie and I by Jane Harris (2011)
The Lists category
Also read for Orange July as this was on the 2012 longlist for the Orange Prize. Like most other readers I really enjoyed this. An unreliable narrator relates her version of what happened fifty years earlier in Glasgow.
The Age of Doubt by Andrea Camilleri (2008) (2012 Eng)
Neverending Stories category
This is #14 in the Montalbano series and does well to feed the addiction. I'll now have to take a break from the series as this one was hot from the press. There's an interesting recent Guardian interview "Andrea Camilleri: a life in writing", here's the link.
How funny, I picked up Blood Moon when I was at the Friends of the Library bookstore this weekend since it was a Soho Crime book and I usually like those, but (for some reason) put it back down - I actually came away congratulating myself for not shopping, but I regret not taking it now. :(
I have to be honest and say that I'd never heard of him till he cropped up in a family tree narrative that I was sent, but his crime novels sound quite good. I've tracked down the first in that series, The Dragon Man, to give it a go whenever I can squeeze it in.
It's always fun when there's a special connection, especially since I see that he seems to be getting overall good reviews. Looking forward to hearing what you think - I'll never turn down recommendations for a new mystery-series, as you well know. :)
Disobedience by Naomi Alderman (2006)
Israel & the Diaspora
This won the Orange Prize for New Writers in 2006 and was my second Orange July read. I really enjoyed this exploration of Orthodox Judaism in a London neighbourhood and how modern day lifestyles clash with old world ideals. Ronit returns from New York where she's been living a nonreligious life to London's Hendon for her father's funeral. She is forced to deal again with the values and lives of those she left behind. Her vivid descriptions of migraine headaches make me thankful that I've not suffered from these.
I'll also recommend When we were bad by Charlotte Mendelson for a more humorous exploration of similar ideas.
Only Yesterday by S.Y.Agnon (1945)
Israel & the Diaspora
S.Y. Agnon is Israel's only Nobel Prize winner and this is his magnum opus. A sprawling, chaotic literary novel that details the life of Isaac Kumer when he ascends to the land of Israel as part of the second aliyah between 1904 to 1912. Agnon wrote this through the late 1930s -1943 and it was first published in Israel in 1945. There are so many layers to this novel, much to admire and enjoy. I'm still coming back to it and reconsidering especially after reading the excellent introduction essay (which is best read after reading the novel - as always).
What I loved were the many colourful characters, the detailed descriptions of Jerusalem neighbourhoods, of Jaffa and the early neighbourhoods of Tel Aviv. Back in his Austrian-Galician village Isaac dreams his Zionist dreams of Israel, of working the land with his fellow Jewish brothers and sisters, but on arrival he is totally unprepared for the reality of the situation. Those farmers of the first aliyah prefer to hire Arab labour rather than the politically activated Jewish socialists and idealists lining up for work. An outsider, never quite fitting in anywhere even his fellow Zionists are almost all Russian, and with no money or work Isaac must focus on daily survival rather than the political ideals that brought him here.
At first I found the writing style a little hard to get into, but once I got used to the style I found it fascinating. The breadth of the novel is epic, there is Talmudic commentary, wonderful glimpses into the religious communities of Jerusalem of the time, surreal-like passages with a dog named Balak, a modern woman and a religious one who both capture Isaac's heart. But this is not a straightforward story, not by any means, Isaac is never quite the hero but he is on a journey and he takes us on a bountiful ride. Yes, layers on layers.
What we talk about when we talk about Anne Frank by Nathan Englander (2012)
Israel & the Diaspora / short stories
It was great to follow up the last two reads with this one. I could feel the pull of the modern vs tradition in the first story and the Zionist values in the second and enjoy them so much more. I adored Englander's novel The Ministry of Special Cases and these short stories were a total treat. He manages elements of perplexion and humour that captivate me as a reader. Ok, I'm a fan and just want to read more by him.
The Unseen Guest by Maryrose Wood (2012)
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #3
children's fiction / Neverending Series
The third instalment and it is fun. Wood has a similar style to that of Lemony Snicket's The unfortunate Events series with the use of an intrusive narrator, which can get a bit tiring when overdone. Like Snicket she gets away with it as the restrained use of humour, the Victorian setting, the outrageous characters, the slowly unfurling mystery all combine to keep you reading. For every fact we uncover, the mystery nevertheless seems to deepen. In this instalment the children and their 15 yr old governess, the intrepid Penelope Lumley, are back at Ashton Hall and need to find a lost ostrich.
Ransomwood by Sherryl Jordan (2012)
YA fiction / new zealand category
This was a great little historical fiction set in medieval times. I loved the plot and the characters grew on you. Three unlikely people set off for a pilgrimage to Ransomwood where the tears of the Madonna make miracles happen. The young and scorned Gwenifer is to accompany the old and blind Dorit with Half-wit Harry to protect them. A delight.
The House Baba Built: an artist's childhood in China by Ed Young (2011)
Baker's Dozen category
This was an interesting book to look through and read. The artwork is varied with a lot of use of collage. Ed Young tells the story of his childhood and the big house his father designed and built that not only housed his family but also the extended family and friends through war time. Ed Young's artwork is really brilliant, I especially love Wabi Sabi and Lon Po Po, so was thrilled to get my hands on this pictorial story of his childhood.
>248 avatiakh: Ransomwood sounds very good. Love the cover, too.
Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban (1980)
Crowded Nest / Mt tbr category
Patrick Ness mentions Riddley Walker as one of his inspirations for his Chaos Walking books, which is one of the reasons I tracked the book down a couple of years ago.
This was a demanding but very satisfying read and I’m really pleased I finally read it. At first the pidgin style English takes some time to adapt to, but you do adapt and then over the course of the book you see glimpses of Hoban’s clever word play. There was more than I scoped at first but reading some commentary on the book has made me aware of the rest. I loved how Hoban used broken words to play on one of the themes of the book 1 into 2 and 2 into 1 and also give double meanings.
Here's a quote from Riddley Walker that gives an idea of how you have to read carefully for comprehension:
'I begun to see why G. ternt me luce hed parbly sust it myt come to me by its self if he lef me a loan.
I begun to get as cited then thinking on them things. I wudve liket to gether with G. right then and pul datter wylst my mynd wer running like that.'
The book is set in England’s Kent about 2000 years after a nuclear devastation and the inhabitants are still living in an Iron age like environment. They scrap old machinery for iron and the society is built on superstitions, myths and a twisted history/legend of times before the 1 big 1. Proaganda and religion combine with entertainment in a traveling puppet show that moves from settlement to settlement. Riddley Walker, a young boy just turned 12, who proves his manhood in the first chapter is the son of the local connexion man, a sort of prophetic seer who interprets the stories of the puppet show to his people.
Don’t want to say anything more, except that the book is a linguistic marvel, just interpreting the double meaning of some of the broken words, and the word play in general is so satisfying. There is an underlying brilliance here especially with the misinterpretations of the past. The Legend of St Eustace was Hoban’s main inspiration for the story, in the introduction notes he describes his visit to Canterbury Cathedral where he first came across an old painting of the legend.
There is quite a lot of online commentary about the book but best to link to the man himself:
“The first time I stood in Canterbury Cathedral and tilted my head back to look up, up, up to that numinous fan-vaulting I felt the uprush past me of all the centuries of prayer, of hope and fear and yearning, yearning for answers and, if possible, salvation…Up those worn- down steps, past the place where the remembered blood of Thomas Becket seethes on the stones, to the north aisle where on one wall remains the faint earth-green tracery of The Legend of St Eustace.
The book is considered a classic scifi, though do note that it’s more an intelligent study of a deconstructed people (post-apocalyptic) than a futuristic rockets and outer space type read. Some reviewers mention two other books alongside this one – Canticle for Leibowitz and Clockwork Orange. My edition of the book came with an introduction by Will Self (whose Book of Dave is apparently along similar linguistic lines) and a glossary and notes by Hoban that do help with the reading of the book. Definitely a book that I’ll be thinking of and possibly rereading at some stage. I read Hoban's The lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz a couple of years ago and thought that was a great read as well.
The other book Ness mentioned was Peter Carey's The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith and I’ll be reading that sometime soon. I also want to finally finally read Hoban’s classic children’s novel The Mouse and his child, I’ve only seen the movie version which I strongly recommend. Also recommended is one of my all time favourite children’s storybooks – Hoban’s 1974 How Tom Beat Captain Najork and his Hired Sportsmen which was illustrated by Quentin Blake.
Many tributes for Margaret Mahy who died yesterday at 76 years young, but this poem written by Margaret herself feels appropriate:
The Fairy Child by Margaret Mahy
The very hour that I was born
I rode upon the unicorn.
When boys put tadpoles in their jars
I overflowed my tin with stars.
Because I sing to see the sun
The little children point and run.
Because I set the caged birds free
The people close their doors to me.
Goodbye, goodbye, you world of men -
I shall not visit you again.
By Margaret Mahy
From The Word Witch: The Magical Verse of Margaret Mahy (page 81)
Margaret signing a book for my daughter Dana about 12 years past.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (2011)
The Lists category
Also ead for Orange July. I should have been picking up Palace Walk or Pawn in Frankincense but needed a light read and tbh the small print size of PiF makes me less keen to pick up at present. This fitted the bill, a retelling of the Iliad focusing on the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles. The writing was good but I'm surprised that it won this year's Orange Prize, mainly because it was such a straight forward retelling of a well known story.
I thought The Song of Achilles was unique because it showed Achilles as a man rather than as a war-machine.
I found the Iliad quite tedious, but it would be interesting to read a version which deals more with personal relationships rather than just battle-battle-battle.
I loved The Song of Archilles, mostly because of the relationship between Archilles and Patroclus and they way Miller wrote them as characters. Definitely agree with The_Hibernator - I enjoyed this version of Achilles as a man rather than a demi god.
Stonemouth by Iain Banks (2012)
fiction / audiobook
Favourite Writers category
This was narrated superbly by Peter Kenny. And what a great novel. Stuart Gilmour goes home to Stonemouth in north Scotland for a funeral. Five years has elapsed since he left under a cloud with the local mobster family after him. The story covers both Stuart's present day return and also his reminiscing around the events leading up to that infamous last night in Stonemouth. Banks is great, this has such menacing overtones, the characters are all interesting and the Scottish landscapes are vividly described. Kenny does great Scots accents.
The Circle by Sara Elfgren & Mats Strandberg (2011) (2012 Eng)
Engelsfors Trilogy Bk 1
Big Boys category (chunksters)
This was recommended by Anders, he's already read book 2 which still has to be translated. This is different from what I normally read as it's a YA paranormal dealing with witches and prophecy. At first I thought it was just average but as the book progressed I could see the appeal. Several girls attending the local high school find that they are witches and must work together to defeat an evil force. But these girls are all flawed, they don't get on with each other, they never have and probably never will. Their home situations are all different and they all have other more normal problems going on in their lives. The town of Englefors is really well drawn and feels quite grim, the industry has left, shops are closing, it's a town with a past, no present and definitely no future. There's plenty of unemployment, booze and drugs if that's your scene. It ends up being quite a compelling read.
#253/4/5: I enjoyed The Song of Achilles enough, and do recommend it. As I haven't read The Iliad I suppose I can't comment that much on what Miller brings to the story that makes it worthy of an Orange Award. I've read some of the judging comments and other reviews to understand this a little more. I'm definitely up for reading some other retellings set in ancient Greece, I've read Troy by Adèle Geras and have a few others on the tbr pile, maybe I'll even give The Iliad a go.
I've yet to get to Iain Banks, but there are a few of his books on Mt. TBR - this one will go ont he wishlist.
So, so happy to hear that the English translation of Cirkeln works - you just never know with translations!
#257&258: Hi Claire, Eva - I've only read The Wasp factory and a couple of his Culture novels. I have to say I was completely seduced by the narrator's Scottish accents for Stonemouth, so not sure how it will hold up as just a straight read. Banks is one writer who features rather heavily on my Mt tbr.
Yes, The Circle did grow on me and I'll probably continue with the series.
Red Rocks by Rachael King (2012)
children's, new zealand
First, just want to say that I really like this book cover. King takes the Celtic selkie tale to the rocky Wellington coastline and gives the reader a richly satisfying read. Young Jake is staying with his father, a writer, and when climbing around rocks at a nearby beach he discovers a sealskin. He feels an immediate compulsion to take it home and hide it under his bed, his action puts Jake and his father at risk from a young selkie woman searching for her skin. I thought Jake was a wonderfully drawn character.
I've read King's debut adult novel, The Sound of Butterflies, I'll have to try her other adult novel, Magpie Hall on the strength of this read. I'm interested in her work as she's the daughter of the late Michael King a renown New Zealand biographer and history writer.
It's not available in audio here... :( I'm thinking of joining Audible UK just to get access to some stuff I can't get here - or at least not have to listen to British vernacular in an American dialect. :)
Pleased you liked Stonemouth:)
Your challenge seems to be going well. Some very interesting looking NZ YA. I'll have to check out my local library and see what they have:)
The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (2012)
Neverending Series category
This is the third book in The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series and after reading only a few pages I had to resort to wikipedia to refresh my memory of the various characters and plot strands. Daniel Sempre, now married, encounters a strange and sinister visitor to his father's bookshop. He buys the rarest and most expensive book, The Count of Monte Cristo, and writes a dedication in it, leaving the book to be given to Fermin, shop employee and good friend of Daniel. Fermin then recounts an episode from his past to Daniel about how he came to be acquainted with the writer, David Martin (from The Angel's Game).
I enjoyed this, it was an easy book to race through and I do like the Barcelona setting. Once again fairly grim happenings, lots of mystery in that gothic layering way of Zafon's. Will need to read the next book as we're left sort of midair and bereft of resolution.
Calm, if you're looking for interesting NZ YA I'd recommend Margaret Mahy's teen books such as The Changeover, The Tricksters or Memory or Bernard Beckett's Genesis. Also probably available in the UK is Jane Higgins' urban dystopia The Bridge, Karen Healey's Guardian of the Dead or Paula Morris' Dark Souls which is set in York, UK. Good luck, will be interesting to see what's available in the libraries there. We get a great cross section of children's lit from around the world in our libraries here.
Thanks for that Kerry - there are a lot of Margaret Mahy books available at my local branch, including the three you mentioned. Genesis is available at another branch and looks interesting. Unfortunately the other books you mentioned aren't available.
The Dungeon by Lynne Reid Banks (2002)
childrens fiction / Drop Box category
I found this in my library's catalogue and thought the plot sounded interesting and having enjoyed Banks' work on other occasions decided to try it. Not a happy book though a bit of a juvenile page turner for all that.
The story revolves around a feud that escalates between two neighbouring lairds. The younger laird is bitter and determined to have his revenge after losing his family. He orders the building of a fortified castle with a dungeon and once the foundations and dungeon are dug he travels overland to China, staying away for several years. He finally returns bringing a young Chinese girl-slave, Peony, with him but so damaged are his emotions by his anger, grief and need for revenge that his relationship with the child is very harsh. Peony, misunderstood and so far away from her people, becomes friends with the stable boy who sees himself as her protector.
The laird, being so very unpredictably angry in his grief almost to the point of mental unstability, made this quite a scary read.
And a couple of books with pictures:
The fantastic flying books of Mr Morris Lessmore by William Joyce (2012)
From what I understand this is a by-product of the short animated film that won an Academy Award earlier this year. I still haven't watched the film though I will and I think overall I'll like it more than the book which just doesn't 'call' to the child in me. And I also felt when reading it that it was more of a book to appeal to adults than an actual child, the text was a little leaden for me.
I came across mention of the book when reading a review for The word collector by Sonja Wimmer which I'm waiting for my library to get in. Along similar lines is the wonderful sophisticated picturebook by Colin Thompson, How to live forever. I noticed that Thompson has just had 2 children's chapter books published based on the story from the picturebook.
10 little insects by Davide Cali (2012 Eng) (2009 French)
graphic novel / juvenile
Awards first: Winner, Best Children's Comic Book, Salon du Livre Jeunesse (France)
Winner, Garonne Comic Festival (France)
Winner,Tam-Tam Literary Prize (France)
One of the Best Graphic Novels of the Year - Angoulême International Comics Festival (France)
I believe this has been first published in English here in Australia/New Zealand. This is quite an amusing caper based on the Agatha Christie novel And Then There Were None. It was a bit silly, but also fun and at times quite brilliant.
There's a sample of the book here: http://issuu.com/wilkinsfarago/docs/10_little_insects_sample
"The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore" was a lovely little movie, as I recall. Hope you enjoy it more than the book!
Look at that - yep, that was me just being lazy when I searched for audio versions.
Too funny, I just got The Dungeon from a friend (so I'm skipping your review). I'd never heard of it before - when it rains, it pours, I suppose. :)
I too thought The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore was beautiful! It never seemed to be a children's story, though.
I am forbidden by Anouk Markovits (2012)
fiction/ Israel and the Diaspora category
This is a hard one to describe, just note that the characters are all members of a strict Hasidic Jewish sect and the story moves from East Europe during WW2 to Paris and then New York.While the plot does get carried away a little, overall it's a great read. Recommended.
Whispers Under ground by Ben Aaronovitch (2012)
Neverending series, Peter Grant #3
First of all, I love the covers these books are getting. They are based on Stephen Walters' 'The Island' map. Anyway this instalment was still interesting though I probably wasn't as engaged as I was in the first two but that could have been my own reading of the book rather than the book itself. Following Peter Grant, an apprentice wizard-constable at The Folly, the not-talked-about magical branch of the London Police.
This is Shyness by Leanne Michelle Hall (2010)
YA / The Lists category
The manuscript for This is Shyness won The Text Prize in 2009, an award for new writers from Australia and New Zealand by Melbourne based Text Publishing, a new award set up in 2008. I've enjoyed the other two winning entries and the 2011 winner, Fire in the Sea by Myke Bartlett, has just been published and is on my tbr list.
I've seen TiS around many times in the bookshops and library but the cover never appealed and reminded me too much of a 'boy-girl' romance YA read. When I finally picked up the book I got a much different read to what I had expected. Firstly Shyness is a place, an unusual quarter of the city where over the past several years the sun has not shone and lives in perpetual night time. Most residents have adapted or left, though the rest of the city now mostly avoids the area and services such as police, sanitation, education etc have fallen by the wayside. Wildgirl comes with her friends for a night out, an 'experience' but then she meets Wolfboy and decides to take him up on his offer to show her around Shyness. The rest of the plot is about that one night and is told in alternating chapters by Wildgirl and then Wolfboy. I enjoy these switcharound POVs from time to time, they seem to be popular in YA especially when two writers collaborate such as with Nick and Norah's Playlist or Will Grayson Will Grayson. Overall this was a delightfully dark read, the setting was really intriguing and Wildgirl and Wolfboy were both flawed and interesting characters.
The sequel, Queen of the night, was published earlier this year. and is on my 'must read' list. In the real world Leanne works as a children's specialist in an independent bookstore in Melbourne.
127) The Taniwha's Tear by David Hair (2010)
YA, new zealand
This is the second of four published so far in Hair's Aotearoa series, a fantasy that straddles across the real world New Zealand and the spirit world of Aotearoa, home to gods, spirits from the past, patupaiarehe (fairy), ponaturi (goblins), taniwha ...
The main character is Matiu Douglas, a part Maori teenager from Napier, who has the ability to cross into Aotearoa and some burgeoning supernatural power. In the previous book he had battled and defeated a powerful tohunga who wanted to control Aotearoa. Other spirits are now vying for the top position, many of them equally as evil. So now Matiu is asked to free the spirit of a taniwha, Haumapuhia who has the ability to yield great power to whoever gains control of her. This is a great yarn, fairly sure I enjoyed it much more than the first book. Matiu and his friends in the real world are convincingly normal but annoying teenagers, the world of Aotearoa is full of interesting character spirits and this time the setting is around Lake Waikeremoana and Gisborne. I'm so pleased that the next two are already available, The Lost Tohunga and Justice and Utu.
David Hair's first book in his 'Return to Ravena' Indian mythology series, Pyre of Queens recently won the LIANZA YA Book Award. I read it last year and need to read the second book.
I love the artwork by late Manu Smith so here are a couple to illustrate the world of Aotearoa that Matiu and his friends experience.
Celandine by Steve Augarde (2005)
children's fiction / Neverending series
This is the second book in the Touchstone trilogy and I found it a brilliant read. The first book is about Maddie who discovers the Various, faerie-like folk who live in the woodland on the farm, really interesting faerie... In Celandine, we travel back 50 or more years to around 1915 and are with Celandine when she first discovers the Various as a young child. The book starts with Celandine running away from school and then alternates between her travails at the boarding school and an estranged northern tribe of faerie who are travelling through countryside to reunite with the Various at the farm. This book explains much of the mystery touched on in book 1 but opens up more about the Various themselves.
I spent four years in boarding school and can never get enough of reading boarding school stories, this is a particularly nasty episode though Celandine is spirited enough to come through for a strong finish. Can't wait to get into book three where everything will come together.
I love the cover art on these books which was done by Augarde, a talented artist and now award winning writer.
The Diddakoi by Rumer Godden (1972)
children's fiction / Mt Tbr
This has been a very long time resident on Mt tbr and seems to have been a childhood favourite read for many, the alternate title was Gypsy Girl. Kizzy who lives alone with her old Granny is a diddakoi, a gypsy of mixed blood. She's about 7 and has been forced to attend the local school where she is bullied incessantly for being different. She shares an old traveller's wagon with her gran and they live happily and peacefully in an orchard in the grounds of a large estate owned by the solitary Admiral Twiss. When her Gran dies the local gypsy families won't take Kizzy in and so her future has to be decided by the local villagers, though Kizzy has her own ideas. This was a delightful story, Kizzy is a staunch little character and for such a slim volume it packed a lot in.
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson (2011)
fiction / Mt tbr category
This was one of my santathing gifts from last year, so I was looking forward to reading it. The Fang family is a little weird and so is the story about them. The parents are artists, they stage unexpected performance art in the midst of public places such as shopping malls and capture the chaos and reactions on camera. When the children come along, they include them in their art and eventually the children (Child A and Child B) become integral components to the 'act' and here the line blurs between what is more important to the parents, family or art. So the children have grown from dysfunctional children into dysfunctional adults and we meet them as their adult lives begin to unravel and both Annie and Buster return to the family home.
The narrative jumps around in time, so we get to experience enough of the back story on the Fangs to understand the how and why of the present.
I found this quite an interesting read though at first I couldn't read more than a couple of short chapters at a time as the whole idea of the childhood the siblings must have had became more and more apparent. The parents seemed to be more and more selfish and unengaged, all in the name of their skewered view of art as the book progressed. The mystery about the parents drew me in though and turned the last third of the book into a bit of a page turner.
Never let me go by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005)
fiction / Mt tbr category
Never let me go has spent a very long time sitting on Mt tbr I thought it was time to tackle it. I loved the style of writing in the book and the plot was one of those quiet and soulful ones, never promising a hopeful outcome but not falling into utter bleakness either. Set in an alternate world where scientific advances after WW2 have progressed too quickly for ethics to keep up and cloning is an now accepted part of medical science. The main characters are clones, and Kathy, who is nearing the end of her time as a carer is reliving her memories of the past.
I enjoyed this very much, and I need to read more by Ishiguro.
I was able to watch the 2010 movie after finishing the book and while it was quite different in parts from the book, I did enjoy many of the scenes and the acting of Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield as Kathy and Tommy. I could almost appreciate Kiera Knightley as well. I thought Andrew Garfield was impressive in the films made of David Peace's Red Riding quartet, not sure which one he has the main part in, but well worth a look if you like dark, brutal crime. Must read the books.
The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds (2007)
scifi / iPod audio
Neverending Series category
Another Revelation Space read, this was my 5th book from the series and it was another thrilling space adventure. Set in the Glitter Band above Chasm City, Dreyfus is a Prefect or law enforcer for the 10,000 plus habitations. Action-packed, big plot, lots of spine-chilling moments and crazy escapes, a perfect escapist read. I do not want ever in my life to come across the standard Prefect weapon, the whiphound, especially the type-C one. No more to be said except I'll now be going back to Peter F Hamilton to try his Commonwealth Saga.
The Dragon Man by Garry Disher (1999)
This is the first in the Inspector Challis series and introduces us to Challis and his police colleagues who work at a beachside town near Melbourne. I'm interested enough to continue with the next book, there are enough flawed policemen in this one outing to know that the series can hopefully go from strength to strength. I haven't taken to Challis as quickly as I've taken to the two policewomen who work with him, though he does have an interesting backstory. The title comes from the vintage plane, a Dragon Rapide, that Challis is restoring at the local aerodrome in his spare time.
And as I mentioned previously, I found out a couple of months ago that I'm distantly related to Disher so intrigued to read his work.
Eva - I'm happy to send you The Bone Tiki and Dragon Man via bookmooch.
Btw, Manu Smith's artwork isn't from Hair's book, just wanted some Maori folklore images to brighten up my post.
Oh, I'll definitely take you up on that! And, yes, I got that Hair's book wasn't illustrated - the series looks very intriguing, though!
Winter Wood by Steve Augarde
children's fiction / Neverending Series
This is the final in the Touchstone trilogy and I felt was possibly the weakest of the three though still a good page turner. I put aside a few of my planned reads in order to finish the trilogy after enjoying book 2 so much earlier in the month. Midge must help the Various one final time, it means tracking down what happened to Celandine who was a friend of the Various almost 90 years ago.
Owls do cry by Janet Frame (1957)
fiction, new zealand
Another book that has been on my tbr pile since forever. The last time I read Janet Frame I was in my teens and I really enjoyed it, but a few decades have past since I tried another. I did read a short story of hers, Gorse is not People, about a dwarf that was in the New Yorker a few years back. Her latest posthumous publication has the same title so must include that story, the book has gone straight to the bestseller lists here in New Zealand which is quite a phenomenon considering Frame died 8 years ago.
Owls do Cry was Frame's first novel and written in an experimental style, the title comes from Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream (I think), one of the characters quotes it several times near the start of the book.
Owls Do Cry portrays the drab, repressed lives of the Withers family in the fictional South Island town of Waimaru, where the shallowness and spiritual emptiness of suburban life is starkly offset by the poetic voice of Daphne Withers, confined in an asylum and subjected to barbaric electric shock treatment − a parallel with Frame’s own experiences.
Not a happy read but Frame's writing is the treasure in this book, it just flows beautifully even when the subject matter is totally bleak.
The Whispering Muse by Sjón (2012)
This fable-like story is quite brilliant. It's 1949 and the mythological Greek hero, Caeneus, is second mate on a voyage from Norway to the Black Sea. The narrator is an eccentric old man who is obsessed with Nordic fish consumption. Caeneus entertains the crew each evening with mesmerizing stories of his long ago adventures.
I enjoyed this strange mix of Nordic fishing, ships and Greek mythology and will look out for other books by Sjón. Thanks to psutto for recommending this.
From wikipedia: Sjón is an internationally known Icelandic author and poet. As a poet Sjón published his first volume of poetry, Sýnir ('Visions') in 1978 and has since published numerous books of poetry, prose and even children's novels. In 2005 Sjón was awarded the The Nordic Council's Literature Prize for the novel Skugga-Baldur ('The Blue Fox'), but was until his international breakthrough with that book perhaps best known in the English speaking world for writing the lyrics to several songs of the Icelandic singer Björk.
"In many respects, Sjon's oeuvre constitutes a novelty in Icelandic literature. The way in which Sjon employs international culture, myth, literature, and popular culture is unique, as is the breadth of his scope of reference. The narratives are enriched by light and humorous touches, which allow him to work pliably with what would otherwise seem obscure matters."
(Eysteinsson and Dagsdottir, p. 452, A History of Icelandic Literature, U of Nebraska Press, 2006)
Varjak Paw by SF Said (2003)
children's fiction / The Lists category
This won the Smarties Prize Gold Award in the junior section back in 2003. One of the outstanding aspects of the book are the stirring illustrations by Dave McKean which give this book a sophisticated edge and lifts it out of the age group parameters that the story on its own would probably be stuck in. And this cat story is very cute - Varjak Paw's family of Mesopotamian Blues has never left the Contessa's house, they are raised on tales of their illustrious ancestor Jalal, who had many adventures before settling there. But now, the Contessa is dying and their home is threatened by a mysterious Gentleman and his two strange cats, black with black eyes. Only Varjak and his grandfather, Elder Paw, are aware of the threat and Varjak must leave the house to find a monster 'dog' to help them rid the house of these intruders. Just before Varjak climbs the garden wall to the Outside for the first time, Elder Paw tells him of a family secret that has been passed down through the generations, The Way, a secret type of martial art for cats. So starts Varjak's adventure on the Outside.
In the sequel The Outlaw Varjak Paw we find out more about the mysterious white gangcat, Sally Bones.
From wikipedia: S. F. Said is a British author. He was born in Beirut in 1967 and spent his first years in Jordan. He grew up in the Iraqi diasporic community in London, moving there with his mother at the age of two. After graduating from the University of Cambridge, he worked as a press attaché and speech writer for the Crown Prince of Jordan’s office in London. He began a Ph.D. in 1997 looking at the lives of young Muslims in Britain, but left academia to focus on film journalism for the Daily Telegraph – where he brought attention to much 'world cinema', including contemporary Islamic cinema – and writing for children.
Catching up on about a month's worth of posts here :) So glad you ended up enjoying The circle. Banks is an old favorite of mine, but he's always been hit and miss. His few latest ones seem really good though, and I'm looking forward to reading Stonemouth. I'm as usual amazed at the amount of interesting YA there seems to be! Noting the Bone Tiki series especially. The Family Fang sounds like a Wes Anderson movie!
That cat book sounds amazing! I'll have to look for a copy. *off to Amazon*
later - bought - too bad the sequel is so expensive.
Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz (1956)
The Lists category
Mahfouz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988. So many LTers have recently read the Cairo trilogy lately as part of the Reading Globally Middle East themed read so I won't add to it all but just say it was a great family story set around WW1 in Cairo. I want to read the next 2 books but not right away.
Robert Capa: the definitive collection (2001)
photography / nonfiction
I started to glance at the biographical essay at the start of this collection of approx 900 images, but ended up reading it all as he led such an interesting but unfortunately brief life. The photos are outstanding and there are so many of them.
I'd like to follow up with his Slightly out of focus memoir about being a war photographer, Waiting for Robert Capa by Susana Fortes and also have requested Steinbeck's book, A Russian Journal about their combined trip through Stalin's Russia.
"If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough" - Robert Capa
CHINA. 1938. Sino-Japanese War
Picasso & wife
Spanish Civil War - falling soldier
from the 'Mexican Suitcase' - exiled Republican soldiers being marched down the beach to an internment camp in South France near Spanish border - 1939
'Sometimes, even in the world of photography, miracles happen. On 19 December 2007, three battered, commonplace cardboard boxes arrived at the International Center of Photography in New York. Within these boxes the so-called Mexican Suitcase was a treasure trove of photographic history believed lost since World War II: the legendary Spanish Civil War negatives of Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and David Seymour (known as Chim). The Mexican Suitcase contained 126 rolls of film, mostly shot between May 1936 and spring 1939, that are an inestimable record of innovative war photography and of a definitive episode in Spanish history. The photographs include Capa's images of the Battle of Rio Segre, Chim's famous image of a woman nursing a baby at a land reform meeting in Estremadura, and Taros last photos at the Battle of Brunete where she was killed in 1937.' from ArtKnowledge News site
The Helmet of Horror: the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur by Victor Pelevin (2006)
Canongate Myth series / Mt tbr category
Finally managed to kick off reading this series that's been on my reading radar for a few years. This was a bit surreal and most of the subtleties probably went over my head but I enjoyed this anyway. I have his The Sacred Book of the Werewolf in my tbr pile and will be pushing it up the pile.
All the 'action' takes place in an internet chat room between various entities who are all trapped in similar hotel rooms, each one exiting to a different part of what must be the labyrinth. Between them they try to solve the puzzle of who each of them are, if in fact they are individuals or just part of one mind. A bit like Sophie's World crossed with The Cube movie.
My 15 yr old daughter, Dana, is really keen to read this updated Theseus story after my rather confused recommendation.
Love, honour and O'Brien by Jennifer Rowe (2012)
crime fiction, Australia category
I hadn't read any of Jennifer Rowe's adult fiction but my children and I have enjoyed her fantasy series books, Rowan of Rin and Deltora Quest that she's written under the pen name, Emily Rodda. She's written a few crime novels and this is the first in a new series about Holly Love, a jilted young woman turned detective. This first book sets the scene for the series with naive young Holly finding herself stranded in a Blue Mountain town when she's jilted by her fiancee on the eve of their wedding. She has next to no money, no friends, no job, and a broken down car. Her fiancee has absconded leaving debts aplenty and clearing out their new joint bank account. She hires a down at heel detective, O'Brien, to help trace the scoundrel and ends up taking over the detective's job herself due to the slightly hilarious and surreal circumstances she finds herself in. This was a fun read.
The Fire Gospel: The Myth of Prometheus by Michel Faber (2009)
Canongate Myth series / God is back category
I quite enjoyed this, an expert in Aramaic travels to war torn Iraq and after a bomb blast in a museum he uncovers 9 scrolls hidden in a now broken statue. He smuggles them back to Canada and translates them. They are the work of an unknown follower of Jesus, one who met with Jesus on his last day and watched him die on the cross. The content is fairly shocking and we follow the academic on his book tour - his book is part memoir part text of the scrolls, it's a best seller but not everybody likes it. The last part of the story is a bit farcical, and there are a few plot holes right from the start but overall a quick read that entertained.
The abominables by Eva Ibbotson (2012)
children's fiction / Favourite Writers category
Eva Ibbotson died two years ago and last year One dog and his boy which was already with the publisher at the time of her death was published. Then they found among her papers the manuscript for The Abominables which is another cute story for children. I have to say that I struggled a bit to get into this, probably it was just a bit too juvenile for my reading taste at present and there were yetis in it.
Anyway it turned into quite a fun read, similar to One dog and his boy in that a journey is undertaken and there are interesting people to meet on the way but it's an overland journey from Nepal via Spain to England and with yetis and yak.
A favourite part was at the mountain monastery in Switzerland, they had a whelp of the most wimpy St Bernards. One didn't like getting its feet wet in the snow, one was scared of the dark and had to have a nightlight in its kennel, another was scared of heights and fainted when put up on a table to have its coat brushed, another was a drunk and raced off to crack the brandy keg and drink the contents rather than performing a life saving rescue etc etc.
This is on the Guardian Children's Fiction Award longlist, the winner will be announced in November.
I'm eagerly awaiting my library getting in Shirley Hughes first children's novel, Hero on a bicycle which is set in Florence during the German occupation of 1943/4. Hughes is well known for her picturebooks and story collections. The guardian review is here.
The Cry of the Go-Away Bird by Andrea Eames (2011)
fiction / Drop Box category
This got quite a lot of publicity here when it was published last year as the Zimbabwe-born writer was then living in Christchurch. This debut is about a young girl coming of age in rural Zimbabwe during the late 1990s and into the period of violence when white farmers were forced off their land by Mugabe's War Vets. It reads very much like a memoir and Eames does capture the feeling of growing unease as the white farmers, many of whom are second or third generation landowners must face the changing political landscape. It is a good starting point for reading about modern Zimbabwe, and leaves one wanting to read more about these times.
Aminatta Forna wrote a less than positive review of the novel in the Guardian, she preferred actual memoirs such as When a Crocodile Eats the Sun and Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight.
Eames is a young writer with talent, whose novel tackles matters of substance. But a novel should be more than the sum of its parts. Despite some memorable moments and an insight into what life must be like on white-owned farms in Zimbabwe, The Cry of the Go-Away Bird falls short of its full potential.
Eames has since moved to the UK and her second novel, The White Shadow, about a young Shona boy during Zimbabwe's second war of independence in the 1960s, has been longlisted for the 2012 Dylan Thomas Prize for young writers. On her blog Eames recommend's the book by her friend and the youngest writer on the longlist, 21 yr old Nigerian Chibundu Onozu's The Spider King’s Daughter.
Capa was such an amazing talent, wasn't he?! Lots of good ones here - you are so dangerous to my wishlist! :)
Oh wow that capa book & his memoir are straight on the wish list. Great review & thanks for the heads up
"La, la, la" *fingers in ears*
I will come back and add some of these titles to my list of wishes when I've whittled away at the stacks I already have.
Hi Dave - Pelevin's Sacred Book of the Werewolf looks to be an interesting read as well. Hope you enjoy tHoH.
Eva - I'm just happy that you are reading a lot of series crime at present, I seem to be more able to resist those.
Claire - hope you enjoy them too.
mamzel - I know that feeling!
Always nice to not come away from someone's thread with more wishlist-adds, as it happens so rarely. :)
Queen of the Night by Leanne Hall (2012)
This is the sequel to This is Shyness which I read a few weeks ago. It's a good little urban fantasy, there are still a few mysteries to unfold so I'm sure there'll be a third book. Shyness is a section of the city that for the past few years has remained in darkness 24 hours a day. The residents have either adapted or left, others have moved in. Jethro (Wolfboy) who lives in Shyness and Nia (Wildgirl) from the normal part of the city get back in touch six months after the events in the first book.
The cats in Krasinski Square by Karen Hesse (2004)
picture book, Holocaust
I was talking books by Karen Hesse over on Zoe's thread and noticed this picturebook on a list of Hesse's published works. This is based on a true story that Hesse came across in I Remember Nothing More, a memoir by Adina Blady Szwajger, who was a Jewish doctor at the children's hospital in the Warsaw Ghetto from 1940 till it closed in 1942.
When Karen Hesse came upon a short article about cats out-foxing the Gestapo at the train station in Warsaw during WWII, she couldn't get the story out of her mind. The result is this stirring account of a Jewish girl's involvement in the Resistance. The illustrations by Wendy Watson are in hues of brown, cream and yellow giving the book a period feel.
This topic was continued by avatiakh attempts 12 in 12 #2.
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