calm counting 12 in 12
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Well I've finally hit my minimum target for 11 in 11 (5 books in each category) so I guess I might as well try for the 12 in 12. Of course I would love to hit the full 144 books and it might be possible but I'm going to say a minimum of 6 books in each categories.
So the categories are
Current affairs - contemporary fiction (12 of 12)
About the past - non-fiction history (9 of 12)
Long ago and far away - historical fiction (medieval and earlier) (10 of 12)
More from the past - historical fiction (post-medieval) (11 of 12)
Chills down my spine - horror and mysteries (12 of 12)
Once upon a time - mythology, folklore and fairytales (9 of 12)
Unlikely things - fantasy (10 of 12)
New friends/Old friends - recommendations, early reviewers, new to me authors, continuing series/authors and re-reads that don't fit anywhere else - basically a pot pourri category. (10 of 12)
To space and beyond - science fiction (9 of 12)
It's Greek to me - books in translation (10 of 12)
Need to know - non-fiction (8 of 12)
Great books I should have read - classics and prizewinners/nominees (9 of 12)
Completed my minimum target on 20 June! Well on track to complete the full 12 in 12:)
books read list
1) North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
2) The Idea of Prehistory by Glyn Daniel
3) The Russian Dreambook of Colour and Flight by Gina Ochsner
4) Confessions of a Pagan Nun by Kate Horsley
5) The Earthquake Bird by Susanna Jones
6) Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah
7) Sea Dragon Heir by Storm Constantine
8) The Underpainter by Jane Urquhart
9) Marvels and Magic edited by Richard Barber
10) Brother to Demons, Brother to Gods by Jack Williamson
11) Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
12) Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian
13) People of the Lake: Mankind & Its Beginnings by Richard E. Leakey
14) Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
15) The Kingdom of the Wicked by Anthony Burgess
16) White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi
17) Crown of Silence by Storm Constantine
18) Ragnarok The End of the Gods by A. S. Byatt
19) Blow on a Dead Man's Embers by Mari Strachan
20) Shadow's End by Sheri S Tepper
21) The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck
22) The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
23) Bleak House by Charles Dickens
24) The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
25) God's Philosophers by James Hannam
26) We Never Make Mistakes by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
27) London Under by Peter Ackroyd
28) Kil'n People by David Brin
29) The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths
30) The Girl in the Box by Sheila Dalton
31) Tallis' Third Tune by Ellen L Ekstrom
32) The Cure for Death by Lightning by Gail Anderson-Dargatz
33) The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal
34) The Way of Light by Storm Constantine
35) Fasting, Feasting by Anita Desai
36) In a Dark Wood Wandering by Hella S. Haasse
37) The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck
38) Helen of Troy by Margaret George
39) The Tale of Murasaki by Liza Dalby
40) On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin
41) The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths
42) Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant
43) Blackwater by Kerstin Ekman
44) Britain BC: Life in Britain and Ireland before the Romans by Francis Pryor
45) State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
46) Heroes and Saints edited by Richard Barber
47) The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon
48) Abbeys, Priories and Cathedrals
49) Stardust by Neil Gaiman
50) The Stars My Destination (Tiger, Tiger) by Alfred Bester
51) Women in the Wall by Julia O'Faolain
52) A Place of Secrets by Rachel Hore
53) In the Shape of a Boar by Lawrence Norfolk
54) One Blood by Qwantu Amaru
55) The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter
56) The House at Sea's End by Elly Griffiths
57) Eva by Peter Dickinson
58) The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
59) The Master of Whitestorm by Janny Wurts
60) The Making of the British Landscape by Francis Pryor
61) It's Time by Pavel Kostin
62) In Praise of Cats by Max Cryer
63) Katherine by Anya Seton
64) The Knot Garden by Gabriel King
65) A.D. 500 A Journey Through the Dark Isles of Britain and Ireland by Simon Young
66) Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
67) The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill
68) Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski
69) Dewey by Vicki Myron
70) The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
71) Now You See Me by S. J. Bolton
72) Religion Explained by Pascal Boyer
73) Imajica by Clive Barker
74) Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
75) Stonemouth by Iain Banks
76) Silk by Alessandro Baricco
77) An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears
78) A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths
79) Illywhacker by Peter Carey
80) Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill
81) From the Holy Mountain by William Dalrymple
82) Peaches for Monsieur le Curé by Joanne Harris
83) The Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O'Melveney
84) The Ruby in Her Navel by Barry Unsworth
85) Dead Scared by S. J. Bolton
86) Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
87) The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt
88) Lies by Enrique De Heriz
89) The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
90) The Garden of Martyrs by Michael C White
91) The Blue Girl by Charles de Lint
92) Infinite West Travels in South Dakota by Fraser Harrison
93) East of Eden by John Steinbeck
94) Life Before Man by Margaret Atwood
95) Ash by Malinda Lo
96) History and Romance by Richard Barber
97) Spiderweb by Penelope Lively
98) Coraline by Neil Gaiman
99) Morality Play by Barry Unsworth
100) Jezebel by Eleanor de Jong
101) The Women's Decameron by Julia Voznesenskaya
102) Flood by Stephen Baxter
103) The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
104) Dissolution by C. J. Sansom
105) The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
106) Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
107) Soul Catcher by Michael C White
108) Fireworks by Angela Carter
109) The Cathars by Malcolm Lambert
110) Silence by Shūsaku Endō
111) Ark by Stephen Baxter
112) The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon by Richard Zimler
113) The Magician King by Lev Grossman
114) Shipwrecks by Akira Yoshimura
115) The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
116) A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
117) City of the Sharp-Nosed Fish : Greek lives in Roman Egypt by Peter Parsons
category 1 Current affairs - contemporary fiction (to keep this reasonably broad this is from 1950 to now and includes books from anywhere around the world written in English)
1) The Russian Dreambook of Colour and Flight by Gina Ochsner (5 - 7 January)
2) Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (25 - 27 January)
3) Fasting, Feasting by Anita Desai (16 - 17 March)
4) State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (13 - 15 April)
5) A Place of Secrets by Rachel Hore (24 - 26 April)
6) The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter (1 - 3 May)
7) Stonemouth by Iain Banks (10 - 12 June)
8) Peaches for Monsieur le Curé by Joanne Harris (28 - 30 June)
9) Life Before Man by Margaret Atwood (23 - 28 July)
10) Spiderweb by Penelope Lively (29 - 30 July)
11) The Swan Thieves by Eizabeth Kostova (16 - 22 September)
12) A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro (21 - 23 September)
category 2 About the past - non-fiction history
1) The Idea of Prehistory by Glyn Daniel (3 - 7 January)
2) People of the Lake: Mankind & Its Beginnings by Richard E. Leakey (21 - 25 January)
3) London Under by Peter Ackroyd (29 February - 2 March)
4) Britain B.C. by Francis Pryor (1 -13 April)
5) The Making of the British Landscape by Francis Pryor (19 April - 13 May)
6) A.D. 500 A Journey Through the Dark Isles of Britain and Ireland by Simon Young (14 - 21 May)
7) The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt (1 - 8 July)
8) The Cathars by Malcolm Lambert (22 July - 31 August)
9) City of the Sharp-Nosed Fish by Peter Parsons (1 - 25 September)
category 3 Long ago and far away - historical fiction (medieval and earlier. This is anything pre-Tudor so from prehistory to 1485)
1) Confessions of a Pagan Nun by Kate Horsley (7 - 8 January)
2) The Kingdom of the Wicked by Anthony Burgess (28 January - 2 February)
3) The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman (22 - 27 February)
4) The Tale of Murasaki by Liza Dalby (31 March - 4 April)
5) Women in the Wall by Julia O'Faoliain (21 - 24 April)
6) Katherine by Anya Seton (13 - 16 May)
7) The Ruby in Her Navel by Barry Unsworth (3 - 5 July)
8) Morality Play by Barry Unsworth (30 - 31 July)
9) Baudolino by Umberto Eco (23 - ? September)
category 4 More from the past - historical fiction (post-medieval - let's say from the Tudors to post WWII - 1485 to 1950)
1) The Underpainter by Jane Urquhart (14 - 16 January)
2) Blow on a Dead Man's Embers by Mari Strachan (13 - 15 February)
3) The Cure for Death by Lightening by Gail Andersson-Dargatz (8 - 10 March)
4) Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant (7 - 9 April)
5) Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (18 - 25 May)
6) An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears (12 - 20 June)
7) The Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O'Melveny (1 - 3 July)
8) The Garden of Martyrs by Michael C. White (14 - 17 July)
9) Dissolution by C. J. Sansom (12 - 15 August)
10) Soul Catcher by Michael C White (24 - 28 August)
11) The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon by Richard Zimler (7 - 12 September)
category 5 Chills down my spine - horror and mysteries
1) The Earthquake Bird by Susanna Jones (8 - 10 January)
2) White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi (3 - 4 February)
3) The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths (3 - 4 March)
4) The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths (7 April)
5) The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon (15 - 18 April)
6) The House at Sea's End by Elly Griffiths (3 - 5 May)
7) The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill (25 - 26 May)
8) Now You See Me by S. J. Bolton (31 May - 1 June)
9) Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill (27 - 28 June)
10) Dead Scared by S. J. Bolton (5 - 7 July)
11) The House at Riverton by Kate Morton (15 - 19 August)
12) Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson (19 - 24 August)
category 6 Once upon a time - mythology, folklore and fairytales
1) Marvels and Magic edited by Richard Barber (7 - 21 January)
2) Ragnarok The End of the Gods by A. S. Byatt (12 - 13 February)
3) Helen of Troy by Margaret George (26 - 31 March)
4) Heroes and Saints edited by Richard Barber (25 January - 15 April)
5) In the Shape of a Boar by Lawrence Norfolk (27 - 29 April)
6) The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (6 - 9 May)
7) Ash by Malinda Lo (28 - 29 July)
8) History and Romance edited by Richard Barber (6 June - 29 July)
9) Jezebel by Eleanor de Jong (31 July - 4 August)
category 7 Unlikely things - fantasy
1) Sea Dragon Heir by Storm Constantine (10 - 13 January)
2) Crown of Silence by Storm Constantine (8 - 12 February)
3) The Way of Light by Storm Constantine (11 - 15 March)
4) Stardust by Neil Gaiman (18 - 19 April)
5) The Master of Whitestorm by Janny Wurts (9 - 12 May)
6) The Knot Garden by Gabriel King (16 - 18 May)
7) Imajica by Clive Barker (2 - 8 June)
8) The Blue Girl by Charles de Lint (17 - 18 July)
9) Coraline by Neil Gaiman (30 July)
10) The Magician King by Lev Grossman (12 - 15 September)
category 8 New friends/Old friends - recommendations, early reviewers, new to me authors, continuing series and re-reads that don't fit anywhere else - basically a pot pourri category.
1) Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris (22 - 24 January) - continuing series
2) The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (21 - 22 February) - old friend/re-read
3) The Girl in the Box by Sheila Dalton (4 - 6 Match) - ER
4) Tallis' Third Tune by Ellen L. Ekstrom (7 - 8 March) - Hobnob with authors giveaway
5) One Blood by Qwantu Amaru - (30 April - 2 May) - ER
6) Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski (26 - 28 May) - new to me author/LT recommendation (SqueakyChu)
7) A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths (20 - 21 June) - continuing series
8) Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (7 - 8 July) - old friend/group read/re-read
9) Infinite West Travels in South Dakota by Fraser Harrison (9 - 22 July) ER
10) Fireworks by Angela Carter (7 - 30 August) - favourite author
category 9 To space and beyond - science fiction
1) Brother to Demons, Brother to Gods by Jack Williamson (21 - 22 January)
2) Shadow's End by Sheri S Tepper (16 - 18 February)
3) Kil'n People by David Brin (28 February - 3 March)
4) The Stars My Destination (Tiger, Tiger) by Alfred Bester (19 - 20 April)
5) Eva by Peter Dickinson (4 - 6 May)
6) Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury (8 - 9 June)
7) The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (12 - 14 July)
8) Flood by Stephen Baxter (7 - 10 August)
9) Ark by Stephen Baxter (1 - 7 September)
category 10 It's Greek to me - books in translation
1) Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian - Chinese translated by Mabel Lee (16 - 25 January)
2) We Never Make Mistakes by Alexander Solzhenitsyn - Russian translated by Paul Blackstock (21 - 29 February)
3) In a Dark Wood Wandering by Hella S. Haasse - Dutch translated by Anita Milller and Lewis C. Kaplan (17 - 23 March)
4) Blackwater by Kerstin Ekman - Swedish translated by Joan Tate (9 - 12 April)
5) It's Time by Pavel Kostin - ER Russian translated by James Rann (12- 13 May)
6) Silk by Alessandro Baricco - Italian translated by Guido Waldman (14 June)
7) Lies by Enrique De Heriz (8 - 12 July)
8) The Women's Decameron by Julia Voznesenskaya (4 - 7 August)
9) Silence by Shūsaku Endō (28 - 31 August)
10) Shipwrecks by Akira Yoshimura (13 - 18 September)
category 11 Need to know - non-fiction
1) Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah (7 - 11 January)
2) God's Philosophers by James Hannam (3 - 28 February)
3) The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal (3 - 12 March)
4) Abbeys, Priories and Cathedrals (14 - 18 April)
5) In Praise of Cats by Max Cryer (13 - 15 May)
6) Dewey by Vicki Myron (29 May)
7) Religion Explained by Pascal Boyer (21 May - 4 June)
8) From the Holy Mountain by William Dalrymple (16 - 30 June)
9) The Valleys of the Assassins by Freya Stark (26 September - ?)
category 12 Great books I should have read - classics and prizewinners and nominees
1) North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (27 December - 5 January)
2) The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck (19 - 21 February)
3) Bleak House by Charles Dickens (5 - 27 February)
4) The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck (24 - 26 March)
5) On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin (4 - 6 April)
6) The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (28 - 31 May)
7) Illywhacker by Peter Carey (21 - 27 June)
8) East of Eden by John Steinbeck (18 - 25 July)
9) The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (10 - 12 August)
Love the acrostic! And looking forward to seeing what you read for your categories, especially the pre-medieval historical fiction. Somehow I haven't gotten to the books I planned for this year, and I'm determined to get going on them next year. I think the first one may be The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick.
I love your categories, especially the historical fiction and non-fiction ones, can't wait to see what you are going to be reading.
So many interesting categories and I love the images you've chosen. For now, I'm going back to the 11in11 group to catch up on your thread.
Good category choices and great pics to go with them. Looking forward to seeing how they get filled up.
Great categories - looking forward to lots of recommendations from you. Again.
Good luck on the challenge!
Hi Ivy - thanks for stopping by. I also have The Greatest Knight on my TBR. I actually received it for Santathing last year - oops - oh well books are patient:)
Hi Judy - I've actually cut down on the number of non-fiction categories from this year - I was definitely overambitious in attempting three. It also made more sense to have two historical fiction categories as I have read way over 11 in that category:)
Hi Kerry - Thank you, this thread already looks better than the 11 in 11. There isn't much on it - just book lists - but here is a link http://www.librarything.com/topic/105963.
Hi Dave - Thanks, I'm pleased to have actually put up pictures this year.
Hi Sandy - Hope I manage to read something you'll enjoy:) Thank you.
Great categories! I look forward to following your reading for another year.
I'm already raring to get started! And looking forward to adding more to the wishlist over here... :)
Wow, you certainly spent a lot of time and thought on your challenge, calm. It looks great!
Hi Ellie - well not long to go now and I'm still working on my 1111 and wondering if I can get 14 books which actually fit in the categories read before the end of the year:)
Adding to wishlists is very much part of these challenges - so many books, so little time - and they distract from the already groaning "shelves of shame"!
Thanks Lynda, probably too much time but I was so disappointed in my efforts on my 11 in 11 thread that I thought I would try harder over here for 2012:)
I will be particularly interested in your medieval readings since I seem to be gravitating in that direction these days.
Not 2012 yet but what a lovely group of visitors:)
Hi Mamzel - not sure where that will go precisely but I do love medieval and earlier history so I'm hoping to find some good books to read.
Great mix of categories, looking forward to following your reading this year.
Thanks for visiting Annalisse - I've started out with a chunkster North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell so it will be a little while before I get any book thoughts down.
And the first book of the year has been completed
category 12 Great books I should have read - classics and prizewinners (1 of 12)
1) North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (27 December - 5 January)
This was my first Gaskell and, probably, won't be my last. It did take me longer to read than I expected but not because I didn't like it. The lead character, Margaret Hale, has been living with her aunt in London, more as a companion to her cousin than as part of the family and on her cousin's marriage she returns to her much loved home. Unfortunately her father, the local vicar, has a crisis of conscience and takes the family to a Northern industrial town where he finds work as a tutor.
There are lots of social issues raised in this novel and Margaret and her life is the bridge between the various themes. There are a lot of interesting characters and Gaskell handles the various ideas very well but it is also a dense read that bears reading slowly and carefully. I did find the ending a bit abrupt but that is a minor flaw and, overall, I would say that this is a novel well worth reading.
#32 - That sounds like something I would enjoy. I love a good 19th century social critique. I have Mary Barton on my TBR pile, but probably won't get to it this year, due to my 12 in 12 categories.
Hope you do Kerri - as I said my first Gaskell but I will probably pick up some more - someday:)
I think I've got most of my reading covered - hopefully with a better balance than last year when I read way over in some and didn't read the full eleven in only one category.
Lori - I think we both picked it up because of the 75ers group read. I'm sure I'll be getting some more Gaskell.
category 2 About the past - non-fiction history (1 of 12)
2) The Idea of Prehistory by Glyn Daniel (3 - 7 January)
An interesting look at how bias and the techniques of archaeology have changed the perception of early man and how pre-literate society is thought of. This was first published in the 1960's and is a series of lectures that the author gave in the 1950's but as it is a look at the history of antiquarianism and prehistory it is still a good book though there have been many advances in the subject. I like the author's style and the way he presents the history he talks about. Though there are fifty years between the publication of this book and now many of the things he discusses are relevant to the study of antiquarians, collectors and archaeologists and, even though our understanding of prehistory has changed, I still think this is a good book.
category 1 Current affairs - contemporary fiction (to keep this reasonably broad this is from 1950 to now and includes books from anywhere around the world written in English) (1 of 12)
potential alternate category is category 8 - New friends/Old friends - recommendations, early reviewers, new to me authors, continuing series and re-reads that don't fit anywhere else - basically a pot pourri category.
3) The Russian Dreambook of Colour and Flight by Gina Ochsner (5 - 7 January)
In post-Soviet Russia a miscellaneous group of people live in a condemned apartment building and Gina Ochsner describes their lives. The possibility of some funding for the local Museum, where three of the tenants work, is talked about on the back cover but this is a minor part of the plot. This is a quirky and unsettling novel, a world of shortages, dreams and hopes as the mismatched people try to survive.
I can see this isn't going to be a novel for everyone. The muck and grime of daily life; the feral children; the touches of magical realism won't be to everyone's taste but I really liked this book. Bizarre as this is I like the way Gina Ochsner writes and the story she tells and I will definitely be looking for more of her work.
Yes I can see that The Russian Dreambook of Colour and Flight wouldn't be to everyone's taste - I loved the quirkiness and the descriptive writing but the story itself was definitely unusual:)
North and South was better than I expected. I tend not to watch the adaptations of classics not really my taste for viewing though I'm sure that they are often done well and do introduce people to the stories. Hope you enjoy it.
category 3 Long ago and far away - historical fiction (medieval and earlier. This is anything pre-Tudor so from prehistory to 1485) (1 of 12)
potential alternate category is category 8 - New friends/Old friends - recommendations, early reviewers, new to me authors, continuing series and re-reads that don't fit anywhere else - basically a pot pourri category.
4) Confessions of a Pagan Nun by Kate Horsley (7 - 8 January)
A good work of historical fiction. This is the memoirs of Gwynneve writing in her cell at St Brigit's near Kildare in the sixth-century AD and covers the coming of Christianity to Ireland and the changes that brings to life and attitudes. Told in alternating "present day" and past chapters Gwynneve's story slowly builds to a chilling conclusion.
I really liked this story and Gwynneve's life. Her journey is a fascinating one and we are told of the impact that the new religion has on her life. I enjoyed what Kate Horsley has done in this work and will definitely read some more of her novels.
I will definitely keep my eye out for this book. I haven't read much historical fiction lately but I used to binge on it. Thanks for your review.
>41 I've added this one to my wishlist! The "Dark Ages" in the British Isles is my favorite historical era.
I've had my eye on Confessions of a Pagan Nun for some time. Now I will definitely not hesitate to pick this up when I next see it at the library.
Like DeltaQueen said, I've looked at Confessions of a Pagan Nun several times, but have never added it to my TBR list. I will now...thanks for the review.
Thanks for stopping by everyone:)
mamzel and ivyd - hope you both like it
Judy and Her_Royal_Orangeness - nice to know that others have considered reading Confessions of a Pagan Nun, hope you both enjoy it when you get to it.
I must admit I had never even heard of it until it turned up as part of my SantaThing but my Santa did a great job picking that one.
category 5 Chills down my spine - horror and mysteries
potential alternate category is category 8 - New friends/Old friends - recommendations, early reviewers, new to me authors, continuing series and re-reads that don't fit anywhere else - basically a pot pourri category.
5) The Earthquake Bird by Susanna Jones (8 - 10 January)
As this book opens Lucy Fly is taken to a Japanese police station under suspicion of the murder of a fellow British girl, Lily. As we go back through Lucy's memories we definitely get the impression that she is capable of killing. This is not a comfortable read and Lucy's habit of referring to herself in the third person adds a certain degree of distance. Indeed she is a strange woman.
For a debut novel I found this a very atmospheric read. The descriptions of Japan and Lucy's reasons for living there are fully realised. I must say that Lucy is not a likeable character and, possibly, unreliable as a narrator. As the story unfolded I found myself wanting to know what happened to Lily. Is she the dismembered corpse or has something else happened to her? Did Lucy kill her?
Even though certain things made me uncomfortable I think that the way Susanna Jones writes is beautiful. The style of prose fits the story and I am interested to read more from this author.
So many interesting books you've read this year, I don't know if my TBR can take it! ;)
Oh well Laura I guess the trick is to avoid the blue words:) Doubt if the next one will hit your TBR though.
category 11 Need to know - non-fiction
6) Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah (7 - 11 January)
Meh! I must admit that I don't read much autobiography, though I am interested in history, and I found this a bit of a slog to read. No doubt, that in her eyes at least, Adeline didn't have the best of childhoods. Wanting to be loved and accepted by her family is understandable and trying to live up to cultural expectations in a time of turbulent political and social changes isn't the easiest thing.
Adeline and most of her family left China for Hong Kong and the bits of this book that I found most interesting were the historical elements away from Adeline's own life. I also liked Aunt Baba - who remained in China. I managed to finish the book and enjoyed some of the history but, for me, her personal story comes across as whiny and Adeline Yen Mah's style of writing didn't really work for me.
category 7 Unlikely things - fantasy (1 of 12)
7) Sea Dragon Heir by Storm Constantine (10 - 13 January)
Two hundred years before the action of the novel the kingdom of Caradore is conquered by Magravandias. The connection of the family Palindrake with the sea dragons has been subjugated to the Magravandian empire and the sons of Caradore become members of the Magravandian army. Twins Pharinet and Valraven Palindrake are at the centre of the story.
This is wonderfully descriptive fantasy with some, not too explicit, twisted sex. I loved the way the story unfolded and the change of view point half way through worked for me. It was interesting how seeing through a different perspective added to the story. I'm definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.
category 4 More from the past - historical fiction (post-medieval - let's say from the Tudors to post WWII - 1485 to 1950) (1 of 12)
potential alternate category is category 12 Great books I should have read - classics and prizewinners/nominees
8) The Underpainter by Jane Urquhart (14 - 16 January)
Beautiful and sad. Jane Urquhart paints a wonderful picture of early Twentieth century North America and Canada, mainly around the shore of Lake Superior. There are also pieces set in New York and World War I France. The main character is a cold man, Austin Fraser, an objective observer who sublimates his life to his art, unable to connect emotionally to those around him.
Reminiscing about his life from his house in Rochester we are treated to his picture of the lives of some of his friends and acquaintances. Jane Urquhart writes beautiful prose, fitting for the life of an artist and, given Austin's distance, as much of the lives of the other characters as is plausible.
This was the third of Urquhart's books that I have read and I will carry on reading her books. I was disappointed by her debut, The Whirlpool, but this and The Stone Carvers are a pleasure to read.
Glad to hear you enjoyed The Underpainter. I keep meaning to get to Urquhart's books - I am starting to collect them on my TBR bookshelves - so your review is another nudge in that direction!
Lori - I like, more or less, what I have read of her work. I definitely want to read more.
Judy - sounds like it works a lot better as a YA. I did like the historical references and there were bits of Chinese writing in the text but there was something about the style of her writing that irritated me, so I couldn't feel any sympathy for her life. Ah well I doubt if I would want to read the other version and looking at the ratings on the work page I am in the minority about Falling Leaves anyway. Just not my kind of book.
category 6 Once upon a time - mythology, folklore and fairytales (1 of 12)
9) Marvels and Magic edited by Richard Barber (7 - 21 January)
This is the first of the three volume British Myths and Legends collection. Richard Barber has chosen a mixture of sources and translations and presented them in chronological order. Thus we start with myths about the origins of Britain and move on, in this volume, to early history and the marvels and magic of the title.
I enjoyed most of the entries and even came across some unfamiliar tales. This is not the kind of book to read straight through but dipping in and reading a story here and a story there is a pleasant way to spend some time.
This being a Folio edition is a beautifully produced book and the occasional illustrations by John Vernon Lloyd are a nice addition to the text.
category 9 To space and beyond - science fiction (1 of 12)
10) Brother to Demons, Brother to Gods by Jack Williamson (21 - 22 January)
A very readable 1970's science fiction novel. Genetic engineering has led to a society of premen - the descendants of unaltered humanity; trumen - "perfected" people who are stronger, smarter and more healthy; mumen - mutated people engineered for different environments and specialities and the Gods - an immortal species. There are rumours of a fourth kind of genetically engineered human - the ultiman but the gods have destroyed the Creators, a family closely involved with the genetic engineering, and suppress all mention of them. Two young premen live on the final reservation of humanity and this is their story.
A very entertaining read. I like the use of some of the writings of the Creators at the start of each chapter. This is a good and reasonably paced story with a well realised future world. I'm definitely going to have to add some more Williamson to my shelves.
Thank you Victoria. I haven't read Cyteen yet - so many books so little time:)
category 8 New friends/Old friends - recommendations, early reviewers, new to me authors, favourite authors, continuing series and re-reads that don't fit anywhere else - basically a pot pourri category.
11) Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris (22 - 24 January)
This is another wonderful novel from Joanne Harris. Interweaving the past and the present of Framboise Simon, a widow who has returned to the village which she left as a young girl during WWII. Keeping her past hidden she tries to make a life in her old family home but the secrets she is keeping threaten everything she holds dear,
I love the way that Joanne Harris manages to create closed communities. In this instance a small village in rural France. Her characters are strong and varied and the way she tells her stories is very evocative. Unlike Chocolat there is no magic but the feeling of a small town and the descriptions of food are still there. Both strands of the story are strong. The occupation of France during WWII and the actions of Framboise and her siblings seem plausible and the woman she becomes flows naturally from those traumatic events.
Varied as they are I haven't been disappointed in any of Joanne Harris's novels. In my opinion she is a talented writer and I really look forward to reading more of her work.
Yes I've read Blackberry Wine, another good book.
Snap on blueeyedboy - that's on the shelf waiting to be read. I've only read 9 of her books so far but I will probably be adding to that sometime - actually it is her first two books that I haven't read yet - The Evil Seed and Sleep Pale Sister but both are available at the library.
My gosh - just looked up her books on fantastic fiction - there's a new Vianne Rocher due out this year Peaches for Monsieur le Cure - no touchstone yet - but here's a link to the page on ff
Good Morning! I left a msg for Tim about Peaches for Monsieur le Cure and it appears in the catalog now. I still haven't been successful with the touchstone.
Victoria I'm not sure how long it takes for the system to recognise a new book, but there are now two copies on LT - I added it to my wishlist:) I did a bit more looking around and found Joanne Harris's website, the more I read about it the more I hope that it is actually published on time.
Don't know if you have seen her website but here's the link
category 10 It's Greek to me - books in translation (1 of 12)
12) Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian (16 - 25 January)
This is a difficult novel to describe, but I won't go far wrong by quoting this :-
You've slapped together travel notes, moralistic ramblings, feelings, notes, jottings, untheoretical discussions, unfable-like fables, copied out some folk songs, added some legend-like nonsense of your own, and are calling it fiction! (page 453)
but it is more than this. It is a journey through late Twentieth century China and a look at the human condition. Don't go into this expecting a straightforward story - just go with the flow; take your time and, in my opinion, it is worth it.
category 2 About the past - non-fiction history (2 of 12)
13) People of the Lake: Mankind & Its Beginnings by Richard E. Leakey (21 - 25 January)
This was published in 1978 and obviously there have been more discoveries and methods of investigating the history of mankind since then. Despite that I think that this is still a very readable hypothesis about the beginnings of homo sapiens.
Covering both Richard Leakey's archaeological dig at Lake Turkana and a study of how man might have developed. This also looks at other primates and how society could have evolved -community, diet, language and relationships are all discussed.
There is an index and there are a couple of maps for the sites of fossil remains and some black and white photos of Richard Leakey and his work at Lake Turkana. Unfortunately there is no bibliography or further reading suggestions.
I've always been rather fascinated by the Leakeys. I recently picked up Born in Africa: The Quest for the Origins of Human Life at library. It's actually about the anthropologists and archaeologists who've been making the discoveries, rather than the discoveries themselves, but I think it should be interesting. In theory I'm reading it this month...
Thanks for the review!
That sounds good Dejah_Thoris. I'll look forward to what you think of it. My local library has some of his political/recent history books but not that one.
category 1 Current affairs - contemporary fiction (to keep this reasonably broad this is from 1950 to now and includes books from anywhere around the world written in English) (2 of 12)
14) Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (25 - 27 January)
In an unnamed South American country a group of people are taken hostage this novel tells the story. There are a lot of people involved but I didn't feel like any of them were fully described and, to be honest, not much really happens. It is really difficult to say exactly why this book is more powerful than that brief comment suggests but I really did like this, until the epilogue - which I thought was unnecessary. There was something incredibly moving about the way the story unfolds - from the terrorists failed plan to kidnap the president which leaves them with a houseful of unexpected hostages; to the reactions of those taken hostage and then the drift of days and weeks as negotiations fail. This is a beautifully told story and I am so pleased that I have read it and I will definitely be reading more Ann Patchett.
I agree with your review of Bel Canto. I also found it a powerful and moving book, even though it seems that not much happens.
Dejah_Thoris - I checked out the author Martin Meredith not any of the Leakeys in my local library catalogue - if I want to know more about Nelson Mandela or Robert Mugabe I'm in luck but not the one you mentioned:)
I hope you manage to get to Bel Canto someday - definitely worth reading.
category 3 Long ago and far away - historical fiction (medieval and earlier) (2 of 12)
15) The Kingdom of the Wicked by Anthony Burgess (28 January - 2 February)
This is fiction but Burgess has used a variety of original sources - Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus and the Acts of the Apostles to tell the story of the early years of Christianity and a series of Roman emperors from Tiberius to Vespasian. This is a not a pleasant story to read and Burgess doesn't sugar coat any of the history. That said it is a fascinating look at the first years of Christianity, its trials and tribulations, the persecution and differences in opinion between its earliest adherents. Mixing this with Roman history doesn't make for the easiest of reads as he switches from character to character, though Burgess does follow a chronological sequence.
I'm not sorry to have read this and I can appreciate what Burgess has done but I can't strongly recommend this book to anybody. If you know anything about the period there isn't anything particularly new here and I didn't find his style the most readable. Definitely well researched and it was interesting but not enough to make me search out the other books he has written about this period of history.
#75 - That sounds interesting, although perhaps not enjoyable to read. Are you normally a fan of Anthony Burgess? I've only read A Clockwork Orange, but I've heard that all of his books are wildly different from one another.
Kerri - Before this I had only read A Clockwork Orange and this is different but they are both quite disturbing in their own ways. I don't think he could be described as an "enjoyable" writer but I'm not sorry that I have read them.
Great reviews! I am glad that you liked The Underpainter. I have a few Urquhart books on mount TBR, if I see this one in the thrifts I will be sure to add it to the pile :)
I have also been reading with interest your reviews of pre-history books... I may have to pick up a book or two in that area this coming year :)
Janice - I hope you like Urquhart's writing when you get to those TBRs:) I'm definitely keeping my eyes open to add to my collection but her work doesn't seem to turn up very often in the charity shops.
I'm rather fond of prehistory as a subject and hope that you manage to fit some into your reading.
category 5 Chills down my spine - horror and mysteries (2 of 12)
16) White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi (3 - 4 February)
Strange and disturbing; wonderfully crafted with multiple narrators; some serious issues and a confusing storyline make this a hard book to talk about. Oyeyemi doesn't tell a simple story and the voices slip from one to the next building up an atmospheric tale of haunting and madness.
I think that maybe there is just slightly too much going on in this novel for it to be a complete success. That said I really wanted to carry on reading, for me a sign of a book that clicks somehow. So I'm ambivalent about my feelings. I'll definitely read more from Oyeyemi though as I really liked the way she writes.
Oh, your cover of Bel Canto is from the Harper Perennial Collection! Are you collecting those, or did you just happen to have that edition for this title? I adore the artwork and currently own three of them.
Thanks for the info about new Vianne Rocher. I really enjoyed Chocolat, though I was less enthused about The Lollipop Shoes. I look forward to reading the third book....someday.
I've debated about adding White is for Witching to my TBR list for quite awhile so I appreciated your review. Mr. Fox, Oyeyami's latest, sounds interesting also.
It just happened to be the edition that I found, I'm more about the contents than the edition - though it is nice to have matching books for a series. It is a great cover though - lovely artwork.
I'm looking forward to the new Vianne Rocher - it looks very interesting and I do like Harris's writing.
It was someone else's review of Mr Fox that made me pick up White is for Witching from the library. They do have Mr Fox in the system but not at a location that allows online reservations and it is a large print edition so I might try something else of hers later this year - either The Icarus Girl or The Opposite House which should be available.
category 7 Unlikely things - fantasy (2 of 12)
17) Crown of Silence by Storm Constantine (8 - 12 February)
The second of the Magravandias trilogy changes focus, so we have a new viewpoint character in a different country though as the story unfolds we do get to see what happened to some of the characters from Sea Dragon Heir. I must say that I found this slightly less enjoyable than the first - still good but there was something that did not quite work. I wonder if my reaction was because of the change of focus, and lack of strong female characters, or maybe it was the tone set in the first traumatic chapter when we are introduced to Shan, a young village boy, as his home is attacked by Magravand soldiers. Rescued by a magician we follow his story and eventual quest for the Crown of Silence.
Constantine can definitely tell a story and this book moves the trilogy forward. I like the world building and the characters are nicely flawed, no "Mary Sue's" here. I will definitely be reading the concluding volume and look forward to the way Storm Constantine brings the stories together.
category 6 Once upon a time - mythology, folklore and fairytales (2 of 12)
18) Ragnarok The End of the Gods by A. S. Byatt (12 - 13 February)
I like Byatt's writing and this latest addition to the Canongate Myths series is wonderful. Byatt simply retells Norse mythology as seen by a young girl evacuated, with her mother, to the country during WWII. I don't think there is a word wasted in this short novel. Beautiful language, with a clever use of repetition, makes the whole thing read like the sagas and creates an evocative picture of the time. Adding to the feel are the illustrations of some of the scenes from the myths. At the end of the story is an essay "Thoughts on Myths" and a bibliography.
I've only read a few of this series and I definitely feel like I should read the rest. Canongate seems to have done a fine job in the actual publication of these books and my love of mythology means that this is a collection I would like to own. Too bad that I have only one on my own shelves (so far).
category 3 More from the past - historical fiction (post-medieval) (2 of 12)
19) Blow on a Dead Man's Embers by Mari Strachan (13 - 15 February)
It is 1921 and Non (Rhiannon) Davies is one of the lucky ones. Her husband has returned from the Great War but not all injuries are physical and he is no longer the man she once knew. Stepmother to his two children from a previous marriage, with an adopted child, a nephew, in-laws and neighbours who all need something from her can she manage to find a way to get her husband back. Mari Strachan has created a vivid picture of post war Wales. Non is a believable and strong protagonist; the secondary characters are fully realised and the life and times ring true.
I loved this novel. Mari Strachan has obviously done her research and the pace and style of her writing is perfect at creating a slice of life. This is an emotional piece of work and, for a subject that could be harrowing, she has included enough light and shade; touches of humour and believable characters that it deserves the full five stars I am giving it. Simply wonderful!
You've been reading some marvelous sounding books - thanks for the reviews!
I agree with Dejah above. For starters, Blow on a Dead Man's Embers is being added to the wishlist.
Making mental note to track down a copy of Blow on a Dead Man's Embers. Thanks!
Oh, jealous much! Ragnarok and Dead Man's Embers have both been on my wishlist for awhile. Your reviews made me want to read them that much more.
Thanks Dejah_Thoris - nice user name:)
Judy - I thought it was a good one. Hope you think so as well
Lori - Hope you can track down a copy.
Her_Royal_Orangeness - sorry about that:) I hope you can get hold of them both soon.
I was lucky to spot Ragnarok on the new arrivals shelf at the library and as Mari Strachan is a local author the library was very quick in getting her book - I just had to wait in the queue for reservations. Actually for her next book I might try for a signed copy. I missed the fact that she was doing a signing for Blow on a Dead Man's Embers at a local bookshop - I was quite miffed about that:(
category 9 To space and beyond - science fiction (2 of 12)
20) Shadow's End by Sheri S Tepper (16 - 18 February)
One hundred years before the story starts something wiped out human life on colonised planets in a certain sector of space, only Dinadh was spared. Now this is happening again and Lutha Tallstaff is sent to this planet where there might be answers. On the planet Dinadh Saluez is about to undergo a ceremony that all women take at the time of their first pregnancy and on Earth (now Alliance) Snark is a shadow, a person who has been unable to fit in with society. Ultimately the paths of these three women will meet.
Not my favourite Tepper but still a good read. Some of her usual themes of population growth; an ecological message and an interesting plot and good female characters. Unfortunately, as usual, most of her male characters are not very appealing or sympathetic though in this one at least I ended up liking the King, Jiacare.
Tepper is an author I keep returning to. She is not the most subtle of authors but I know what I am getting when I open one of her books and I like her story telling.
category 12 Great books I should have read - classics and prizewinners/nominees (2 of 12)
21) The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck (19 - 21 February)
This is a day in the life of a group of people. Starting at Rebel Corners, California - a diner and garage run by Juan and Alice. In this small place a group of five travellers have had to stay the night after a mechanical problem with the bus. Tensions are obvious from the start and as a storm approaches their onward journey is also going to be a stressful experience.
From the first page when we are introduced to Rebel Corners I was immediately drawn into the story. Steinbeck writes beautifully with a real understanding of nature and character. I might not like the people very much but he captures it all so well that this is a 5 star read for me.
category 8 New friends/Old friends (2 of 12)
22) The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (21 - 22 February)
This book was first published over fifty years ago and I did read it as a child. Looking at it as an adult I'm so relieved that I found it as fresh and delightful a read as I remembered.
This is the story of young Milo and his adventures after receiving the magical tollbooth that takes him to the Kingdom of Wisdom. Full of playful use of language and lovely images by Jules Feiffer I really enjoyed revisiting Dictionopolis; Digitopolis and many other wonderful places. The characters are quirky and fun and the journey that Milo takes is a sheer pleasure to follow.
If you didn't read this as a child I still think that you would get a great deal of enjoyment from this novel. This is a highly recommended read for anyone and I'll definitely be reading it again someday.
category 12 Great books I should have read - classics and prizewinners/nominees (3 of 12)
23) Bleak House by Charles Dickens (5 - 27 February)
As it is the 200th anniversary of Dickens's birth I thought I would read one of his novels and chose Bleak House. First published in monthly instalments in the 1850's this is a long and convoluted story. The link to all the plot elements is Jarndyce vs Jarndyce, a long and convoluted court case. I'm sure that the elements of satire and social commentary would nave been more apparent at the time of publication but, even with some knowledge of Nineteenth Century British history, it did take some time for various elements to slot into place.
I think the strongest part of Dickens writing is his characters and his social awareness. I did struggle in places and can't imagine how this would have worked originally with so long between the chapter's publication. Eventually most of the strands do connect and as I got towards the end of the book I could read faster and wanted to know how it would be resolved.
I'm not sorry to have read this but I can't say that I am eager to pick up another of his books. I do appreciate why his work is still popular and has such longevity but I don't think Dickens is really for me.
category 3 Long ago and far away - historical fiction (medieval and earlier) (3 of 12)
24) The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman (22 - 27 February)
This will probably contain spoilers for anyone who has not heard about the events at Masada.
This is a well researched and very interesting story about Masada. Hoffman has used both the work of Josephus and archaeological evidence to tell her tale. The story is told by four women as we discover how and why they ended up at this Jewish fortress in the first century AD after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.
Four very different women; four very different lives - drawn together in one place at a certain point of history. To begin with I wasn't sure how the format would work as each part is told by a different person but Alice Hoffman's ability to tell the story is strong, Even knowing about what is to come I was drawn into the lives of all the characters and not knowing who the survivors are added to the tension.
I really enjoyed Hoffman's take on this period of history. I also appreciate the fact that she includes a further reading list for anyone who wants to know more about the history and lives of women in the first century AD. This is first class historical fiction.
I've been on a real historical fiction bent lately and this sounds fantastic.
Definitely putting The Dovekeepers on my wishlist. I was at Masada about a year ago (such an amazing place!) and remember the little "cubby-holes" the doves lived in. Sounds like a very different angle on the story.
ivy, mamzel and eva - I hope you all like it.
Eva wonderful that you have been to Masada that must have been a fascinating trip,
It was absolutely amazing, history-wise and scenery-wise! My favorite nature-features are mountains and deserts and that was the perfect combo. :)
Sorry to not get back sooner but I was taking part in a readathon:)
Eva - it really does sound amazing and I think that actually having seen the place would add an extra something to reading the book.
Her_Royal_Orangeness - Basically I liked everything of hers that I have read so it is difficult to recommend a starting place but my favourite Tepper is possibly The Fresco a story of first contact. I think that her most popular books are The Gate to Women's Country; Grass and Beauty. My first was The True Game which reads like a more traditional fantasy.
The Phantom Tollbooth was a good read and I am so pleased that it stood up to re-reading as an adult:)
I don't think I've seen anybody say a bad thing about The Dovekeepers either.
Time to update my reading - that readthon means that I have a few to post about:)
category 11 Need to know - non-fiction (2 of 12)
25) God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science By James Hannam (3 - 28 February)
The title says it all really. Hannam takes a look at Medieval science, though he doesn't use that word as it wasn't coined until a lot later, here it is natural philosophy, alchemy, astrology and early medicine. He looks at how people viewed things and the fact that studying nature was a part of a belief in God and his creation. Not surprisingly as most educated people were priests, monks and other religious people. The language of study was Latin and there was an international community of thought connected by the newly founded centres of learning - the first universities.
Hannam explains how Medieval thoughts and ideas developed. How this could skirt the boundaries of heresy and the later schism in the Catholic church that led to Protestantism. How ideas were suppressed by later generations, how the crusades and the reconquest of Spain introduced older Greek ideas and also Arabic thinking. This is a vast subject and Hannam covers it all in a very readable fashion. He includes very useful appendices - a timeline and a list of key characters were particularly interesting. He did lose me by his obvious bias, especially when it came to his thoughts on his further reading suggestions - a bit too blunt in my opinion.
So he came to his subject with an obvious bias. The idea that Medieval thought has been neglected though science is a sum of everything that has gone before including this period of history. I found this overstated as I had heard of a lot of the people and ideas he talks about already so there were no real surprises for me. That said I did enjoy reading this book and the way he presented his thesis. A very good overview of this period of history.
category 10 It's Greek to me - books in translation (2 of 12)
26) We Never Make Mistakes by Alexander Solzhenitsyn (21 - 29 February)
In short this is a collection of two novella's - Incident at Krechetovka Station and Matryona's House. The first is set at the start of WWII and the other a few years after, both look at the system in Russia at those times and how people's lives are affected. I'm actually surprised that they were published in Russia in 1963. Solzhenitsyn is an amazing writer and the translation by Paul Blackstock seems to be very good.
In Incident at Krechetovka Station we basically follow a day at the eponymous station as a young officer. Lieutenant Zotov, deals with the routing of trains and the "stragglers" from the front lines. This gives a vivid picture of the time and the worries of the young Soviet officer.
In Matryona's House it is 1953 and a young man looks for work as a teacher and ends up boarding at Matryona's house. An elderly woman who believes in the system and helps out her neighbours but finds that she has less and less.
Both stories point out the flaws in the Soviet system. Both stories have their tragic side but Solzhenitsyn creates believable characters in an impossible situation. I will definitely be reading more of his work.
category 2 About the past - non-fiction history (3 of 12)
27) London Under by Peter Ackroyd (29 February - 2 March)
This is a brief look at what goes on under the surface of London. Split into chapters that cover various aspects of what there is under the ground - from buried rivers; sewers; services; transportation; burials; etc. there is much more down there than most people ever think about.
This was my first book by Ackroyd and he certainly packs a lot into a few pages. Sometimes I could have wished for more details but what is here is very interesting, though maybe some prior knowledge of the geography and history of London would be helpful for a reader. I liked the use of original illustrations and the bibliography is useful if you wanted to expand on any one aspect.
So, I would say, this is one for someone who wants an overview of the subject not for any particular depth. It is readable, accessible and left me wanting to know more.
category 9 To space and beyond - science fiction (3 of 12)
28) Kil'n People by David Brin (28 February - 3 March)
Oh my this was a well paced and fun read. I loved it! In the future everyone has the ability to make clay copies of themselves. This story is about Albert Morris a detective in this future as he investigates the disappearance of one of the founders of Universal Kilns, the company that provides the technology.
Albert and his dittos provide a number of story lines that converge in a way that I did not expect. This is a fresh take on Sci-fi and I really liked Brin's ability to provide a plausible futuristic society based on the technology. I am so pleased to have to read this and actually hope that Brin will revisit this society someday as I am sure there are plenty of other stories that could be told.
category 5 Chills down my spine - horror and mysteries (3 of 12)
29) The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths (3 - 4 March)
The first in a series of books about Ruth Galloway, an archaeologist at the fictional University of North Norfolk, called in to date some bones discovered near her home. DCI Harry Nelson is hoping that they are the bones of Lucy, a young girl who disappeared ten years previously. Ruth is unwillingly drawn further into the investigation when another child goes missing.
Great setting and sense of place; Ruth is a likeable and well drawn character and the way the story unfolds has enough twists and turns to make this a real page turner. I did work out part of the answer before the end but that didn't spoil my enjoyment in any way. I already have the next book in the series requested from the library - I definitely want to know what happens to Ruth next.
category 8 New friends/Old friends - recommendations, early reviewers, new to me authors, continuing series/authors and re-reads that don't fit anywhere else - basically a pot pourri category. (3 of 12)
30) The Girl in the Box by Sheila Dalton (4 - 6 March)
This was certainly different and interesting. A whydunit rather than a whodunit. Jerry a Canadian analyst is in Guatemala in 1983 when he comes across a mute and traumatised girl, Inez, who is kept in a box by her parents. He ends up taking Inez to Canada and trying to help her. The story is mainly told by Jerry's long term lover Caitlin with some chapters about Jerry's time in Guatemala.
There is a lot to this book. Obviously Jerry's occupation means that there is a lot of discussion about therapy techniques; Caitlin herself has had a traumatic experience in her past; the plight of the Maya during the Guatemalan civil war is also discussed - all of this sounds rather heavy but Sheila Dalton has created a thoughtful and sympathetic character in Caitlin as she tries to understand Inez and her actions. Inez herself is beautiful, enigmatic and worthy of understanding.
Overall this is a thought provoking novel. I enjoyed the story and characters. I think that this is a book I will want to re-read someday as knowing the ending might add something to what came before.
There have been so many great mysteries being read this month that I am keeping a list for May's Murder and Mayhem theme. The Crossing Places will definitely be one of my choices.
Judy - Mystery March seems to have really taken off over in the 75ers:) I'm also getting lots of ideas for May Murder and Mayhem. I really did like The Crossing Places and hope you do as well.
Oh gosh - I almost forgot about that I hadn't put any comments down for that one Sandy. I'll try to get to it in a while.
Thanks for letting me know about the touchstone - fixed now.
Wow! lot's of great reading going on here, calm. You're really making a nice dent in your 12 in 12 challenge.
I seemed to have lost your main thread, but just wanted to stop in to say hi. :0)
Hi Lynda - I'm trying to keep the categories balanced ... more or less:)
For main thread did you mean my 75 book challenge? I guess that is a bit more chatty:) here's the link http://www.librarything.com/topic/132388
category 8 New friends/Old friends (4 of 12)
31) Tallis' Third Tune by Ellen L Ekstrom (7 - 8 March)
This is a dreamlike and lyrical tale as befits the title and the wonderful piece of music that is Vaughan-Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. Alice finds herself in a strange place where historical characters interact with her as she revisits certain moments of her life, mainly two of her past relationships. The figures from history hint and suggest as she relives the past and slowly things don't go quite as Alice remembers. Can her life be changed by this experience?
There is a disjointed aspect to this novel as Alice drops into random moments of her life, interspersed with time in the quaint English shop. The episodic nature of her experiences means that the reader is left putting together the pieces but I really enjoyed the puzzle that is Tallis' Third Tune.
category 4 More from the past (3 of 12)
32) The Cure for Death by Lightning by Gail Anderson-Dargatz (8 - 10 March)
Beth Weeks is fifteen and growing up in a small farming town in British Colombia during WWII. Her father was traumatised during the First World War and his behaviour is becoming increasingly bizarre and extreme. This leads to a further isolation of the family from their neighbours.
I found this book quirky and enchanting. As a picture of life in this time and place the story worked well. Maybe there were a few too many people with mental problems in this debut novel, bearing in mind the small cast of characters, but I still liked most of them. There are some extremely disturbing scenes but I think the way Gail Anderson-Dargatz told the story was worth a bit of distress.
Gritty and disturbing but one I am pleased to have read and I will definitely be reading more of this author's work.
When you mentioned over on my thread that you had just finished The Cure for Death by Lightning, I had to rush over and check out your review. Now I am really happy I found my copy in the used book store yesterday!
Well I've got a bit far behind on this thread so there are quite a few posts coming up for my March and April reading. Still not quite caught up on book comments but here are the ones I've written.
category 11 Need to know - non-fiction (3 of 12)
33) The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal (3 - 12 March)
Edmund de Waal inherited a collection of Netsuke from his great uncle. He already had a fascination with Japanese art and pottery but this collection led him on a search of the history of his family and how the netsuke travelled through a nineteenth and twentieth century Europe rich Jewish family.
Looking for the history of the Ephrussi family from their origins in Odessa, to their presence as rich bankers and art collectors in Paris and Vienna leads de Waal to study old documents and the buildings the family had constructed. The inevitable anti-semitism and displacement of the family leads to a disjointed narrative but de Waal's story is more about his search for the family's past than that actual past.
There are some old photographs, though I would have liked to see more of the netsuke that sparked his quest. The traces of the once powerful family are fascinating but ultimately there was something vaguely unsatisfying about this book.
category 7 Unlikely things - fantasy (3 of 12)
34) The Way of Light by Storm Constantine (11 - 15 March)
The third and final part of the chronicles of Magravandias brings together the characters and story line from the first two volumes. As the old emperor dies a power struggle between his sons seems inevitable but some people have a different idea of who should now rule.
Storm Constantine has created a vivid world with real and flawed characters. The way the story unfolds seems a right and fitting conclusion to what comes before. This is quality fantasy and I'll definitely be reading more of this author's work.
category 1 Current affairs - contemporary fiction (3 of 12)
35) Fasting, Feasting by Anita Desai (16 - 17 March)
This book is more like two novellas than one novel. Connected by being about the same family the first is about the eldest daughter in India and the second about the son who is studying in America. I found the first part the stronger of the two. Uma's life changes after the birth of her brother, taken out of school to help run the family home; unmarried she turns into more of a servant within the family. This part of the story covers a longer time scale so we get more of a picture of the life of the family. Arun's story takes place over one summer vacation that he spends with an American family.
As a picture of life this works but there is also something incomplete about the telling. There are no real conclusions to either part of the story. I wouldn't say that I won't read any more of Anita Desai's work but I'm not going to go out of my way to find another of her novels.
category 10 It's Greek to me - books in translation (3 of 12)
36) In a Dark Wood Wandering by Hella S. Haasse (17 - 23 March)
This is a fictional account of the life of Charles d'Orleans. Very readable prose and a fascinating story. Highlights included - the appearance of mad French king Charles VI, Agincourt, Jeanne d'Arc, politics, poetry and warfare. An interesting mix of topics and I did appreciate the addition of Charles' own poetry as it gave a feel for the real man. I really liked it.
There is an interesting story behind is publication as well. It was first published in 1949 in Dutch and, according to the introduction in my copy, was never out of print but after the death of its first English translator the manuscript wasn't rediscovered for twenty years and the book first appeared in English in 1989.
category 12 Great books I should have read - classics and prizewinners (4 of 12)
37) The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck (24 - 26 March)
This is Steinbeck's last novel and once again I am kicking myself for taking so long to start reading his work (I blame school!). In this story of a man, his family and the moral decisions he has to make Steinbeck has created a memorable character in Ethan Hawley. The descendant of a wealthy family he is now the sales clerk in the store he used to own. Ethan is seen as a good and honourable man but pressures from outside lead him to consider how he might change.
Told in two sections - the first around Easter and the second the Fourth of July. We follow as Ethan questions whether he is truly a good man and whether he can perform one bad act and then return to be the man he is at the start of the story. Post-war America is changing and whether Ethan can adapt to the more corrupt world that he sees is an intriguing question.
As always Steinbeck has created a vivid picture of time and place. I might not like his characters but they do make for interesting reading. I'll definitely be reading more Steinbeck.
category 6 Once upon a time - mythology, folklore and fairytales (3 of 12)
38) Helen of Troy by Margaret George (26 - 31 March)
Still haven't written any comments for this one so - Thoughts pending.
category 3 Long ago and far away - historical fiction (medieval and earlier. This is anything pre-Tudor so from prehistory to 1485) (4 of 12)
39) The Tale of Murasaki by Liza Dalby (31 March - 4 April)
I'll start by saying I have never read The Tale of Genji or any other of the writings that have survived from Eleventh century Heian Japan but Liza Dalby has obviously done her research making this an evocative portrayal of that long ago time and place. In fact so much so that I was sorry to leave this world when I turned the last page.
This is a fictionalised telling of what the life of Murasaki, the creator of Genji, might have been like. Based on and including parts of her diary, her poetry and The Tale of Genji Dalby has recreated a vivid picture of an alien, to me, culture. I loved reading this and maybe I should try to find a copy of the Tale of Genji.
category 12 Great books I should have read - classics and prizewinners (5 of 12)
40) On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin (4 - 6 April)
On the Black Hill is a novel about the lives of twin brothers on a farm on the borders of England and Wales. The story covers the first eighty years of the Twentieth century and I thought it was a wonderful picture of a bygone age. As it covered eighty or so years in a mere 249 pages the story skipped across history but I really enjoyed reading it. It was also sad in places and very evocative of time and place. A well written and interesting story.
category 5 Chills down my spine - horror and mysteries (4 of 12)
41) The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths (7 April)
The second book in the Ruth Galloway series. This time, as an old orphanage is being converted into apartments, a headless child's body is discovered. Once again Elly Griffiths has written a real page turner and I sped through this in a few hours. I really like the character of Ruth and her life. Inspector Harry Nelson is also a well rounded character and their are enough possible suspects for the story to be a real puzzle. The story builds to a great climax and I am looking forward to reading more about Ruth, her life and the mystery that the next set of uncovered bones will bring.
category 4 More from the past - historical fiction (post-medieval - let's say from the Tudors to post WWII - 1485 to 1950) (4 of 12)
42) Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant (7 - 9 April)
I really like Sarah Dunant's historical fiction. This is the story of a novice, Serafina, forced into a Sixteenth century Italian convent by her family after she falls in love with an "unsuitable" man and also that of the convent's dispensary sister Zuana, who entered the convent after the death of her physician father sixteen years earlier.
The rivalries and politics inside the convent are well done, Dunant makes her characters seem like real and flawed women. Also the Catholic church as a whole is going through a turbulent time as convents are seen as places of luxury (and in some cases debauchery) and the last thing that the convent needs is a scandal. Dunant has successfully created a picture of the time that I really enjoyed reading.
category 10 It's Greek to me - books in translation (4 of 12)
43) Blackwater by Kerstin Ekman (9 - 12 April)
Blackwater is an isolated village in Sweden and this novel follows three people with a connection to the village - Annie Raft comes to the village in the 1970's to join her boyfriend and to teach at a commune; Johan Brandberg is the youngest son in a family of five boys and Birger Torbjornsson is the local doctor. But on the night that Annie arrives in the village she discovers the bodies of two people, Johan runs away from home and Birger's wife leaves him. This book is not so much about the murder but about the lives of the characters. In fact it takes eighteen years and Annie seeing Johan again before the events of that night are finally resolved.
There is a very distant quality to this story. I never really felt connected to the characters or the story but something kept me turning the page and needing to know where Kerstin Ekman was taking us. But it is a very atmospheric novel I got a real sense of place and the isolation of the life these people lived. I did like it and will be reading more of Ekman's work.
category 2 About the past - non-fiction history (4 of 12)
44) Britain BC: Life in Britain and Ireland before the Romans by Francis Pryor (1 - 13 April)
This is my kind of non-fiction. Francis Pryor is a very readable author and he presents a chronological history of human life in Britain from the very earliest traces up to the Iron Age, lavishly illustrated with colour plates; illustrations and maps. He provides enough personal experience - digs he has taken part in, archaeologists he has met and experiences of experimental recreations - to enable the reader to connect to the information he provides. There is also plenty of additional information - from sites to visit to books to read that is very interesting.
This is not directed towards an expert reader, though there is enough for anyone who knows something about the subject, but more to the amateur enthusiast. The people who watch programmes like Time Team and would like to know more. This is an example of a very good popular archaeology book and I'll definitely be reading more of his work.
That's everything I've written about for March and April. Of course I've finished another book or two and still owe for one from March but hopefully I'll manage to keep up here from now on ... but ... no promises:)
category 1 Current affairs - contemporary fiction (4 of 12)
45) State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (13 - 15 April)
This is a book that is about the characters. Marina Singh is sent to the Amazon to find out what has happened to her colleague Anders Eckman who had been sent to find out the progress of research by Annick Swenson. As we follow Marina's story we hear about her relationship with her father, her boss Mr Fox, Eckman's wife and then the people she meets in South America and her previous relationship with Dr Swenson. Beautifully written the plot takes unexpected turns that add to the atmosphere of the story. The climax does seem a little rushed bearing in mind the slow build up of the story but the journey is well worth taking.
Wow - you're getting on really well with the challenge!! I've heard so much good about Elly Griffiths' series - it's definitely going on the wishlist.
Wow - I know I have been following your reading over on the 75 Group, but somehow I missed your comments on On the Black Hill.... that or I missed it between passes. Always good to revisit the summaries on another thread!
Eva - Thanks I'm trying to keep the categories balanced this year and so far so good and fortunately I've liked most of what I've read:)
I do like the Elly Griffiths' series and have just borrowed the third book from the library so will be reading that soon.
Lori - My 75 thread got a bit behind as well. I was posting the covers before writing any comments so it would have been easy to miss. I'm not as active over here so I think the actual books read will stand out more:)
Category 6 Once upon a time - mythology, folklore and fairytales (4 of 12)
46) Heroes and Saints by Richard Barber (25 January - 15 April)
This collection contains, in the Heroes section, The Story of Arthur from Geoffrey of Monmouth; Kevin Crossley-Holland's translation of Beowulf; the Deeds of Cuchulain based on Lady Augusta Gregory's version; The Four Branches of the Mabinogi translated by Lady Charlotte Guest and four Saints lives - Saint Cadog; Saint Joseph of Arimathea; Saint George and The Empress Helena.
It took me a few months to get through this book not because it was bad but because of my familiarity with some of the stories kept leading me to put it aside for other books. I really enjoyed the version of the Story of Arthur as it was a variant I hadn't read before. Being familiar with the rest of the stories makes it difficult to review them but as a whole collection I am pleased to have revisited them even though I was distracted by the new and different books on my shelves.
131> There is a very distant quality to this story. I never really felt connected to the characters or the story but something kept me turning the page and needing to know where Kerstin Ekman was taking us.
I'm feeling exactly the same about Kerstin Ekman's novel I'm reading now, Under the Snow. It's my first one by her, and I'm not sure if I would pick up another one, although I do like this one. It's just very hard for me, as I'm not connecting with the characters in the book at all.
Hi Samantha_kathy - this was my second Ekman, I read The Forest of Hours for my 1010 and really liked it. There is definitely something about her books that I like reading so I will probably read more of her books when I find them. Well the ones that have been translated:)
Hope the end of Under the Snow makes it worth reading for you.
Well this has messed up my planning slightly. This was intended as my planned SF read for April but, for me, alternative history isn't SF so I've had to put it into my mystery category. Good book though:)
category 5 Chills down my spine - horror and mysteries (5 of 12)
47) The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon (15 - 18 April)
A rich and complex work of alternative history, Chabon has taken a little known fact of history - the possibility that Jewish refugees during WWII might have found a refuge in Sitka, Alaska. Sixty years later the land they have settled is to be given back to the native Tlingit and at this time an alcoholic detective. Landsman, is drawn into a bigger mystery than the death of one man. The uncertainty of the time adds to the pressure of the investigation and Landsman gets deeper and deeper into trouble.
This was a wonderful story, Chabon's imagined "what if" world of Sitka is dark and dingy, like typical noir detective fiction; his characters are varied and the deeper mystery builds to a nice climax. The use of Yiddish terminology was slightly confusing to me to begin with but it does add to the feel of the book. Landsman is a great character and I liked the relationships and society as they are described. Maybe this is too noiresque to be described as an "enjoyable" read but it was definitely a compelling and interesting read.
Thanks for letting me know Samantha_kathy. Pleased you liked the review and hope you like the book.
I just looked at what you said and, not being a member of the group, should add that all the action takes part in the Convent after the arrival of Serafina. The background just explains why some of the story takes place.
Edited to add that I'm planning on reading another book that might fit the theme sometime soon - Women in the Wall by Julia O'Faolin. This one is set in the 6th century AD and is about the building of a convent. I'll be posting about it when I've read it:)
The Yiddish Policemen's Union is on Mt. TBR and I'm very happy to hear it's primarily noir - I knew it was both, but I'll prefer noir to SF any day. :)
144> The fact that all the action takes place inside the Convent is perfect for the theme - a true closed society.
I'll look forward to your review of Women in the Wall.
Eva - definitely noir/alternative history. I suppose in this case SF definitely stands for Speculative Fiction not Science Fiction.
Samantha_kathy - I've got a couple of other novels to read first and then I'll be reading Women in the Wall so hopefully it won't be too long:) Though I have just found out that somebody else has requested the 800+ page non-fiction book that I took out of the library earlier this week so my fiction reading might have to take a back seat for a while.
category 11 Need to know - non-fiction (4 of 12)
48) Abbeys, Priories and Cathedrals (14 - 18 April)
To start with there is no indication of who wrote the text or took the photographs in this book published by Balfour in 1973 and to be honest I'm not entirely sure who the intended reader is. There isn't enough information for it to be a guide book and the historical information is slight. What it is though is a nicely produced book with some nice photographs of various British ecclesiastical buildings with snippets of information for each building. Pretty to look at but not much more.
category 7 Unlikely things - fantasy (4 of 12)
49) Stardust by Neil Gaiman (18 - 19 April)
In Victorian England there is a place where the border between this world and Faerie can be crossed. Every nine years there is a fair where human and faerie mix but at all other times the border is guarded. In his attempt to court the beautiful Victoria Tristan makes a promise to fetch the falling star that they have just witnessed. As Tristan enters the world beyond the Wall he discovers more about himself than he ever expected.
This is a charming fairytale with enough darkness to make it wonderful and magical. There are the usual types of things that you expect in fairyland but Gaiman's prose is poetic and subtle, in most places. Maybe I would have liked more detail, occasionally, but on the whole this is book that is worth a permanent place on my shelves.
category 9 To space and beyond - science fiction (4 of 12)
50) The Stars My Destination (Tiger, Tiger) by Alfred Bester (19 - 20 April)
This is a true classic SF novel, Bester's futuristic world is a fascinating read and Gully Foyle is a character who is compelling in his quest for vengeance. I first read this in the late seventies and it stood up well on a re-read. Bester packs so many ideas into such a short space and the pace works well for me though I expect that some people might think that some ideas are only skimpily dealt with but this is part of the appeal for me. There is enough detail to this society and Gully's life for me to create a vivid picture but not so much as to bog down the story. This is one of my favourite SF novels and one I'm sure to read again.
It was too long since I've read Stardust and I'm really due for a reread - especially since the movie (which I liked!) has replaced some of the book-scenes in my head. :)
Eva - I saw the film before I read the book, I liked the differences. Both were good though:)
category 3 Long ago and far away - historical fiction (medieval and earlier) (5 of 12)
51) Women in the Wall by Julia O'Faolain (21 - 24 April)
Set in the 6th Century AD and based on the chronicles of the time Julia O'Faolain has created a fictionalised account of the life of Radegunda and her life as the founderess of a nunnery. This also includes the story of the abbess Agnes and her relationship with the poet, and later priest, Fotunatas; the political machinations of Gaul at the time and an anchorite at the nunnery.
The basic story covers around twenty years with some flashbacks to earlier times. Told from several viewpoints and not in a linear fashion this was not an easy read. I'm sure O'Faolin has done her research but she does take the story in some unexpected directions, as explained in her introduction. So this is fiction and as such it was an occasionally uncomfortable read but also a possible explanation of life at the time,
You've been reading a lot of interesting books lately - I'm going back up-thread to look more closely. I'm sure several will end up on my wishlist.
category 1 Current affairs - contemporary fiction (5 of 12)
52) A Place of Secrets by Rachel Hore (24 - 26 April)
I must admit that I was a bit worried at the start of this book that it was going to be too much of a romance for my taste but, fortunately, it didn't take that direction. Instead it is a wonderful tale of family interwoven with the intriguing tale of a young girl's life in the eighteenth century. When Jude is given the job of appraising a collection of books it takes her to Norfolk, near where her grandmother grew up. Spending time with her sister and niece, Summer, should be a bonus but Summer is having nightmares that remind Jude of those she had as a child and as the story unfolds they also seem to connect to the journal of Esther Wickham, adopted daughter of the eighteenth century amateur astronomer whose library Jude is investigating.
I really enjoyed the twists and turns of the story until near the end when there were just a few too many coincidences. The family relationships seemed real and the sense of place was good. I liked this enough to read more of Rachel Hore's books.
A Place of Secrets looks good..... I will keep an eye out for that one!
Catching up on threads. Glad to see the Bester on your list. I need to re-read it too.
Hey calm, I'm getting caught up!
The Stars My Destination sounds great - I'm all for classic SF. There are a couple of others you've read recently I may have to give a try. Thanks for the great reviews!
Hi Victoria pleased to see you. Hope you manage to find time to re-read the Bester. I'm enjoying getting back to some old favourites:)
Hi Dejah - thanks for catching up, pleased you found a few things of interest.
category 6 Once upon a time - mythology, folklore and fairytales (5 of 12)
53) In the Shape of a Boar by Lawrence Norfolk (27 - 29 April)
I think this a book that defies explanation. In some ways the way the story unfolds is ambiguous and I think the reader has to work hard to understand all the layers and strands that Norfolk brings to his tale. The first part is reasonably straightforward a rewriting of an ancient Greek myth - the hunt for the Boar of Kalydon. Though even here things are not quite what they seem and his heavy use of footnotes of primary sources made heavy reading at time and as the story progresses the footnotes expand to provide more information. The second part consists of the memories of Solomon Memel, mainly dealing with his wartime experiences and his later success as a poet. The time is the 1970's and an old friend is creating a film of his most famous poem - a blending of the ancient Greek myth and his own time in Greece.
This is a story of ambiguity; the fallibility of memory and the need for mythology ... and the creation and hunting of the "beast". Norfolk does not make life easy for the reader but, in my opinion, this was well worth the time and is definitely thought provoking.
category 8 New friends/Old friends (5 of 12)
54) One Blood by Qwantu Amaru (30 April - 2 May)
This ER book does show promise but it is incredibly violent in a sort of detached way. Set in Louisiana and covering around forty years - from the 1960's to 2002 - the story jumps backwards and forwards building to a destructive climax as a hurricane hits the town. Bringing in elements of Voodoo; Black Rights; gang warfare and family dynamics the story itself is reasonably fast moving. As the elements come together the connections between the characters become increasingly intertwined, in sometimes unexpected ways.
Qwantu Amaru spent ten years writing and editing this book and the result is, on the whole, successful but there were some things that just didn't ring true. Unfortunately to say what they were would be spoilers and other people might have a different reaction. I am pleased to have read this and the author has left the ending open enough to allow us to revisit these characters though it is a complete story in itself. Not a bad debut novel and I hope it doesn't take as long for him to write another novel.
category 1 Current affairs - contemporary fiction (6 of 12)
55) The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter (1 - 3 May)
15 year old Melanie lives with her younger siblings, Jonathon and Victoria, in a house in the country. Their father is an author and as the story starts both parents are in America, leaving the children with a housekeeper. Shortly after the story starts the children are sent to live with their uncle in South London. The Magic Toyshop refers to the shop where they end up but not all is magic and the reality is dark and dingy.
I suppose this could be classed as a coming of age story, as Melanie deals with the changes in her life. Angela Carter is known for being inspired by fairy tales but here they are not literal - Melanie likens her uncle's house to Bluebeard's castle; his puppets re-enact certain myths but this story seems more grounded in reality.
I think what Carter does successfully is set a mood and atmosphere and even in this early work that doesn't fail. The characters are not the most nuanced and the ending seems slightly rushed but, apart from that, I did like reading this.
category 5 Chills down my spine - horror and mysteries (6 of 12)
56) The House at Sea's End by Elly Griffiths (3 - 5 May)
The third of the Ruth Galloway series. In this one Ruth is juggling returning to work with being a mother and not finding it easy. The discovery of bones during a coastal erosion survey brings Ruth and Harry Nelson together again. The mystery is strong and as more deaths occur we know that someone doesn't want the truth discovered.
I still like this series though I did find the angst of being a working mother not entirely to my taste. We learn more about Ruth's past and once again most of the supporting characters are strong. A couple of incidents make me eager to see how the consequences play out in the next book. This is a very good series with a strong sense of place and real, flawed characters. There will definitely be more Ruth Galloway books in my future reading.
category 9 To space and beyond - science fiction (5 of 12)
57) Eva by Peter Dickinson (4 - 6 May)
This is a YA science fiction novel. In Dickinson's future most of Earth's animals are extinct, Eva's father works with some of the few surviving chimpanzee's and after a tragic traffic accident Eva is a guinea pig in an experiment to transfer her memories and self into another body.
This is at least partly a novel looking at what it means to be human and whether human life is more "precious" than that of the other creatures that inhabit the Earth. I did find the story a bit simplistic for my tastes but I'm sure the target audience will get more out of it. I did like the character of Eva but most of the other characters are not as well-fleshed out, in my opinion. An interesting and thought provoking idea that I am pleased to have read.
category 6 Once upon a time - mythology, folklore and fairytales (6 of 12)
58) The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (6 - 9 May)
The friendship between Patroclus and Achilles is a key to the outcome of the Trojan War and here
Miller has woven a background to their relationship that feels both plausible and well researched. For anyone who has a knowledge of The Iliad there are moments that foreshadow the later events but I don't think that will be a problem for anyone coming fresh to the story.
I really liked Miller's take on the relationships and characters that are part of this epic. The focus is very much on Patroclus and how he sees things and this is, as far as I know, an unique take on the story which gives a different and refreshing feel to something that is familiar to me.
This is a worthy addition to the vast number of books that have been written about the Trojan War, I'm not sure if it is my favourite but it is one that I will be happy to re-read. Madeline Miller has obviously researched this book well and successfully creates a past for two of the characters from Homer's The Iliad. I will look forward to whatever she writes next.
category 7 Unlikely things - fantasy (5 of 12)
59) The Master of Whitestorm by Janny Wurts (9 - 12 May)
Korendir, the Master of Whitestorm, is first introduced as a galley slave, his escape and later adventures make great reading. The story is episodic in nature but the whole book is a pleasure to read. Janny Wurts is one of my favourite fantasy authors and this standalone novel would make a good introduction to her work.
category 11 Need to know - non-fiction (5 of 12)
60) The Making of the British Landscape by Francis Pryor (19 April - 13 May)
At over 800 pages this is one for someone who is really interested in the subject. Pryor's background is in archaeology; he also has taken part in archaeological reconstruction; television programmes; rare breed sheep farming and reintroducing native trees. He obviously cares about his subject and presents his information in a way that is accessible to the non-expert. The subtitle of this book is "How We Have Transformed the Land from Prehistory to Today" and Pryor succeeds in what he states he is going to do. I could say that it might have been tightened up in places but it is an interesting and informative read. The text includes maps, illustrations, photographs and colour plates. There are lots of end notes; suggestions for further reading and a glossary that all add to the information he provides in the main text.
Filled in the thought pendings for May, unfortunately (or not) I have finished another three books since I last updated this thread:) Back later.
category 11 Need to know - non-fiction (5 of 12)
62) In Praise of Cats by Max Cryer (13 - 15 May)
This is a smorgasbord of facts and snippets of information about cats. From how to say cat in twenty languages; to the cat in history and popular culture; cat related proverbs; the names of famous people's cats; pieces of poetry and the background for common phrases that contain words relating to cats. There doesn't seem to be any order to these but as a fun little book about our feline friends it was a light and entertaining read. I also liked the illustrations by Larry Nielson.
category 3 Long ago and far away (6 of 12)
63) Katherine by Anya Seton (13 - 16 May)
I'm not going to say anything about the story, there are enough reviews containing that information. Also it is based on the life of a real person and is therefore a work of biographical fiction. Seton has successfully recreated life in 14th Century England, at court and in other places. For me this is quality historical fiction and the character of Katherine is placed to show various issues of the day. Even though this book was first published over fifty years ago it is still fresh. I first read Katherine when I was a teenager and have read it a few times since then. This latest re-read was a welcome return to the medieval world.
category 7 Unlikely things (6 of 12)
64) The Knot Garden by Gabriel King (16 - 18 May)
This is better than the LT rating would suggest but I can understand why it is so low - the back cover blurb is only a tiny fraction of the story and if people read it expecting a "supernatural love story" they would be disappointed. I must admit to being baffled by the opening scene until I realised what the POV character was and later realised that this book has a strong connection to Gabriel King's earlier books which are marketed as fantasy and feature cats. Once I understood this I just went with the story and enjoyed it. There are some elements towards the end that would be upsetting to cat lovers but I did enjoy the resolution and am pleased to know that there is a follow up book, Nonesuch, as some things are left unanswered.
I still want to read this author's debut novel The Wild Road and when I find it at least I won't be misled about the story.
category 2 About the past - non-fiction history (6 of 12)
65) A.D. 500 A Journey Through the Dark Isles of Britain and Ireland by Simon Young (14 - 21 May)
I was in the mood for some light non-fiction and when I saw this on the library shelf I thought it would fit the bill. It is definitely light and the concept had promise but the end result was disappointing.
The author describes this as fictionalised history ... not historical fiction and the idea is that a scholar in Byzantium is transcribing the log book of an expedition to the British Isles with the idea of the Emperor reclaiming Britain as part of the empire. The time is 100 years after the Romans withdrew the legions and Britain is shown as a barbaric and dangerous place to be. OK the author does base his account on some archaeological and historical accounts but he seems to have chosen the more outrageous possibilities and one by one the members of the expedition meet their end until only the log is left to return to Byzantium.
I guess Simon Young's intention was to present his information in a quirky and interesting form but for me it doesn't quite deliver. Not totally bad but not a book I would ever want to re-read and this one doesn't make me interested in finding out whether he has written anything else. The notes and sources do provide some ideas for further reading though.
category 4 More from the past (5 of 12)
66) Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (18 - 25 May)
Mantel is now firmly in my favourite authors. In Wolf Hal she has managed to create a picture of Tudor England and Thomas Cromwell so fitting that I can't see myself thinking of the events in any other way. The story starts as the young Thomas escapes his violent father, crossing to the continent. Nearly thirty years later the story resumes and now he is a successful family man working for Archbishop Thomas Wolsley as King Henry seeks a way to annul his marriage to Katherine of Aragon. When Wolsley fails Cromwell becomes more powerful at court.
This is richly detailed historical fiction; well researched and giving plausible motives for the action. The picture of the characters that Mantel draws are nuanced and believable, bearing in mind the distance of five hundred years. I am really looking forward to reading the next in the trilogy and more of Mantel's work.
category 5 Chills down my spine - horror and mysteries (7 of 12)
67) The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill (25 - 26 May)
There have been many positive reviews on LT for this book and I am adding my voice to the crowd:) The wonderful Dr Siri, the picture of life in newly communist Laos and some interesting deaths come together with a cast of characters that feel real to create a real page-turner. There is going to be more Dr Siri in my future - I'm just sorry that my local library does not have the whole series so I'm going to be having to put some requests in for the missing books, I just hope they don't take too long to arrive.
category 8 New friends/Old friends (6 of 12)
68) Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski (26 - 28 May)
This was an intriguing debut novel from Mischa Berlinski. This is about journalist Mischa (yes the main character has the same name as the author) who becomes fascinated by the story of anthropologist Martiya van der Leun who commits suicide, while serving a sentence for murder, in a Thai prison.
This could be described as a patchwork of a book as the story goes in various directions (describing the life of the narrator, Martiya, the victim and his family) but the author does a good job of bringing the various parts together. I was fascinated by the discussion of the way Martiya lives with a tribe and the cultural differences; the impact of Christian missionaries in China and Thailand and the appeal of life in a foreign country for many of the characters. I'm not too sure about the ending but apart from that I enjoyed this novel. This was a very satisfying read and I hope the author writes another book someday.
category 11 Need to know (6 of 12)
69) Dewey by Vicki Myron (29 May)
Dewey starts one cold winter morning when library director Vicki Myron finds an abandoned, frost-bitten kitten in the library drop box but this is more than Dewey's story. It is the story of a town and a community; surviving in hard times and how animals can help people feel better. It is also Vicki and her family's story which was tough reading.
I must say that once I started reading this I couldn't put it down. I loved the cat's story but, as I hadn't read any reviews, I didn't know about the family stuff and that touched some subjects I have real trouble reading about. Still a good book though and I'm not sorry to have read it.
category 12 Great books I should have read - classics and prizewinners/nominees (6 of 12)
70) The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (28 - 31 May)
I had never read this before though I had seen the film and reading it added so much to the story. Steinbeck is worthy of his status - a brilliant lyrical writer who captures just what it means to be human with all the flaws and hopes that they embody.
This is the story of the hordes of people evicted from the land they had farmed for generations as the Great Dust Bowl disaster happened in the 1930's. Migrating to California with the promise of work they discover that it is no promised land and a downward spiral is the inevitable outcome as thousands seek a way to support their families. At the centre of the story is the Joad family and their struggle to remain a family and keep their humanity.
This is a brilliantly heart breaking work and once more I regret not reading Steinbeck in so many years. I'm still not ready to re-visit the ones I read at school but one day I will.
category 5 - Chills down my spine - horror and mysteries (8 of 12)
71) Now You See Me by S. J. Bolton (31 May - 1 June)
I started reading Bolton's work last year and finally managed to borrow her fourth book from the library. This is different but still good. Lacey Flint is a young policewoman in London who, as she is returning to her car one night, discovers a dying woman. Drawn into a murder investigation it seems as though there is a copy cat killer out there - one who shares Lacey's fascination and knowledge of Jack the Ripper. As the police and a journalist are pulled deeper into the hunt Lacey is trying to protect a secret from her past.
There are enough twists and turns; red herrings and interesting characters; the story kept me turning the pages wanting to know what was going to happen; all in all a very enjoyable read and I am happy to say that I will be reading more from S. J. Bolton. Up next Dead Scared.
>177 I loved Fieldwork, and it's one of the few books I've read that I've kept on my shelves instead of giving away.
Lots of great reads here! *ducking bullets* I do have Eva on the planned-read list - I just have to, don't I? :)
category 11 - Need to know - non-fiction (7 of 12)
72) Religion Explained by Pascal Boyer (21 May - 4 June)
Does Boyer really explain religion? Not really but he does present some arguments for aspects of the human mind that mean that what we call religion (or the supernatural) are part and parcel of what makes us human. I did find the book interesting though it was repetitive in places.
category 7 Unlikely things - fantasy (7 of 12)
73) Imajica by Clive Barker (2- 8 June)
A wonderful, awe inspiring trip through the Five Dominions. Earth is the Unreconciled Fifth and as the 200th anniversary of the last unsuccessful Reconciliation approaches two people are drawn into the other Dominions.
Barker has given us a picture of bizarre and compelling worlds. As we journey more and more mysteries are uncovered and the wonders of the Dominions are a delight to read. It is dark in places and there are some sex scenes but it all fits the story. I love Barker's imagination and this was well worth the re-read.
Ooh, I had forgotten Imajica - I can't believe it's almost 20 years since I read that. Clearly, I'm (over)due for a reread!!! :)
Hi Eva - it popped up on my review page (reviewed by someone else) and I had exactly the same reaction. It is a good one:)
Well this is going in my SF category:) It's Bradbury and published as part of the Corgi Sf Collectors Library:)
So category 9 To space and beyond - science fiction (6 of 12)
74) Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury (8 - 9 June)
Read as part of the memorial group read for Ray Bradbury there have been some excellent reviews of this recently. I can't imagine anyone not being drawn into Doug Spaulding's twelfth summer in 1928. From bottling Dandelion Wine with his grandfather; the feel of new tennis shoes and the possibilities they bring; to darker and lighter incidents throughout those three months this is a wonderfully evocative read. Beautifully written it captures the magic and delight of memory. There is definitely going to be more Bradbury in my future - just so sorry that this master wordsmith is with us no more but at least we can still read his books.
category 1 - Current affairs - contemporary fiction (7 of 12)
75) Stonemouth by Iain Banks (10 - 12 June)
From the back cover:
A Five mile beach
and a suspension bridge
Iain Banks has created a surprisingly sympathetic character in Stewart Gilmour. Returning to his home town of Stonemouth, after five years away, we first meet him on the suspension bridge and we know not all is well. As we progress further into the story, and Stewart's past, we discover a world of drugs, alcohol, sex and violence. Will Stewart survive his visit to Stonemouth and will he, and we, get the answers to the reason for his exile.
I really like the world Banks creates. It is not a lifestyle I am overly familiar with and I wasn't too sure how I would connect to the company of 25 year olds but Banks has created some appealing characters and a vivid sense of place and time. Definitely not one for those uncomfortable with violence and substance abuse but both fit into the story and I, for one, found it well worth reading. Not perfect but still a very good story.
Banks is one of my want-to-get-to authors and I have a couple of his book on Mt. TBR - looks like I'll have to get this one as well. (Or maybe stop collecting and just read...). :)
Hi Eva - hope you like Banks.
I have the same problem ... some months I definitely bring more books into the house than I read. So glad I found LT ... I don't feel out if place here and there are definitely worse things to be addicted to:)
It's Greek to me - books in translation (6 of 12)
76) Silk by Alessandro Baricco (14 June)
Short and charming with the quality of a fairy tale this story of an 19th Century Frenchman and his repetitive trips to Japan to buy silkworm eggs was a delightful read. His fascination with the concubine of the man who supplies the eggs is strange and wonderful. His wife at home always hopes for his return and the ending is fitting.
This is a bizarre little tale but one I am pleased to have read. I will definitely be looking out for more from this author.
Hi Lori - nice to see you here. My local library only has one other Baricco book Without Blood which I will probably pick up sometime.
Hope Emmaus is good:)
Hi Mamzel - according to LT common knowledge they did make a movie. I haven't seen it.
category 4 More from the past - historical fiction (post-medieval) (6 of 12)
77) An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears (12 - 20 June)
The same story from four different view points builds up to an answer about the death of Robert Grove a fellow at Oxford in the 17th century and why someone pleaded guilty to the crime. This is an intriguing novel and I did enjoy how the different perspectives come to different ideas. I think that Pears has successfully recreated the town and the times though his narrators are not particularly sympathetic. I also liked how Pears used real people for most of the story and his fictional characters fit into the tale well.
category 8 New friends/Old friends (7 of 12) - continuing series
78) A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths (20 - 21 June)
The fourth of the Ruth Galloway series sees Ruth still struggling with being a single mother; Harry Nelson and his team investigating a drug smuggling case; the discovery of a medieval bishop's coffin and the Elginists - a group of people seeking the return of Aboriginal bones from the local museum to their homeland. Just before the opening of the coffin the curator of the museum is discovered dead by Ruth.
I find these books a quick and easy read but the strength is in the characterisation and sense of place but I must admit that I don't really like what motherhood has done to Ruth. Still we have Harry, Cathbad, Judy and others including new people who seem like interesting characters. For me the mystery wasn't the strongest but I won't let it stop me from reading any more in the series, when they are published. I just hope that as Kate, Ruth's daughter, gets older Ruth will be a more appealing character to me.
category 12 Great books I should have read - classics and prizewinners/nominees (7 of 12)
79) Illywhacker by Peter Carey (21 - 27 June)
At the start of the novel we meet Herbert Badgery, who warns us that he is probably an unreliable narrator. During the course of the story we meet other characters and get their family history so, in some ways, the book takes us in various directions. It does all link and builds a picture of Australian life during the Twentieth Century. I'm don't know what else to say about this ... except that this is a very strange, bizarre and quirky novel. I did enjoy it but I'm not entirely certain why.
"very strange, bizarre and quirky novel"
Well, that goes on the wishlist immediately. :)
category 5 Chills down my spine - horror and mysteries (9 of 12)
80) Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill (27 - 28 June)
This is a very enjoyable second book in the Dr Siri series. An escaped Malay Black Bear; some mysterious deaths and some supernatural goings-on lead Siri and his team into danger. Great sense of place and time, appealing characters and a page turning story mean that this is one series I am pleased to have discovered and I look forward to reading more of. Great stuff!
category 11 Need to know - non-fiction (8 of 12)
81) From the Holy Mountain by William Dalrymple (16 - 30 June)
In 1994 William Dalrymple spent five months travelling in the footsteps of John Moschos, the 6th/7th century Byzantine author of The Spiritual Meadow. This book was also a travel book - one detailing the state of Christianity of the time. As Dalrymple crosses the lands that were once part of the Byzantine Empire - from Greece to Egypt he meets different Christians and talks to them about the changes and if there is a hope for Christianity surviving in the Middle East.
Written in a diary format with historical information Dalrymple is a very good writer with a great eye for the people he meets. His travels are not always straightforward and the story he tells is a sad one in places but there are touches of humour that help to lift the mood. There are also photographs of the places he visits and some of the people which add to the text.
Sadly I know very little about what has happened to Christianity in the Middle East since this book was written nearly twenty years ago but as a picture of the time when it was written and the historical context for the different religions in the region this is still well worth reading.
Another glowing review for the Dr. Siri series - *sigh* - I need to get to these before the year is up!
I have stopped counting the number of positive reviews I have seen floating around LT for the Dr. Siri series. That being said, always nice to see another positive from you calm!
Laura and Lori - yes there has been a lot of well deserved positive buzz for the Dr Siri books.
I'm pleased that my local library has some. Which reminds me they haven't got them all ... I'm going to have to look for to see which ones are missing and ask for the library to order them.
category 1 Current affairs (8 of 12)
82) Peaches for Monsieur le Curé by Joanne Harris (28 - 30 June)
A letter from Armande sends Vianne and her daughters back to Lansquenet. Things are different since she was last there and once again Vianne's presence will bring change.
I love Joanne Harris's work, her characters and the stories she tells. In this one the conflict between the Muslim incomers and the villagers is well described. I like the way the story progressed with touches of the trademark Chocolat magic but also a honest reflection of changing times. I can only hope that Joanne Harris returns to these characters sometime as I would love to know what happens next.
Hi Victoria I requested it through my local library as soon as I knew the UK publication date. Still don't know why it is not published in the US until later this year - I would be jealous if it was the other way around.
Hope you manage to get a copy soon
category 4 More from the past - historical fiction (post-medieval) (7 of 12)
83) The Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O'Melveney (1 - 3 July)
This is a strange one - I'm not entirely sure what I think of it but I did keep turning the pages wanting to know where it was going. So the story starts in Venice in 1590 when Gabrielle Mondini, a single 30 year old doctor, receives a letter from her father. He has been gone ten years researching his Book of Diseases and finally says that he is not going to come home. Gabrielle decides to follow in his footsteps and find him. What follows is a trip through Europe interspersed by entries from the Book of Diseases.
Now, for a debut novel, I found this an interesting read. There was definitely a flavour of the times but I just could not get over some issues. I can understand why Gabrielle became a doctor but she was only twenty when her father left would she really have had enough knowledge and experience to be allowed to practice unsupervised for all those years. Also if you are looking for someone who has been gone for ten years would you really start from the first place he went to in order to find him rather than the last place you knew he was? I never really got over these minor quibbles but I did enjoy Gabrielle's journey and the characters.
Overall this was worth reading and I will look out for what Regina O'Melveny does next.
83 Those aren't really minor quibbles. It took you out of the book and made you not believe it. & don't forget to mention that a woman wouldn't have been welcomed into the practice back then. I'm not saying there weren't women "doctors" because I don't know, but most of them would've been called "midwives" or would've been discriminated against terribly.
That said, a tour of 16th century European diseases alone, would be interesting.
Regarding Peaches, unfortunately my library won't borrow from another library system until a year from the book's publication date. Hopefully they'll purpose their own copy soon.
cammykitty - The author does explain things but it wasn't the best book for that time that I've read. I must admit the diseases were a bit bizarre - maybe more along the lines of mental illness than anything else - still interesting though. As I said I would read something else by Regina O'Melveny - if she publishes something.
Victoria - I'm not even sure when the US publication date is - I hope that your library gets a copy promptly.
Just checked Amazon.com has a September 25 date ... that seems like a long time to have to wait. Especially as both Kindle and Audio version were released in May. Very bizarre and annoying.
Thanks for your review of The Book of Madness and Cures calm. I had it out from my library but had to return it unread because I never got around to reading it before it was due back. May still keep it in mind for later this year as it would be such a perfect fit for one of my categories!
Hope you do get around to it Lori - it would be interesting to see what others make of it:)
category 3 Long ago and far away - historical fiction (medieval and earlier) (7 of 12)
84) The Ruby in Her Navel by Barry Unsworth (3 - 5 July)
About a month ago Barry Unsworth died and following a conversation on a LT thread I decided that I should read something of his as he was an author I had not come across before.
Twelfth century Sicily is a multicultural society — King Roger is the Norman ruler but his subjects and advisers include Muslims, Jews and Christians (both Catholic and Orthodox). Unfortunately the Second Crusade has just come to its unfortunate, for the Catholics, end and tensions are rising. Our narrator for this story is Thurstan Beauchamp, son of a Norman knight, but thwarted in his desire to become a knight himself. He has ended up working in one of the king's ministries working for a Muslim. He is idealistic and slightly naive. Into his life come two women - the dancer Nesrin and his first love Alicia, who is recently widowed.
This is very good historical fiction. I liked the way Unsworth built his picture of the times. I might have wanted to kick Thurstan sometimes as he doesn't seem to be able to see what is happening around him. But, for me, that is one of the signs of a good book as I wanted his story to come out in a positive way.
I'll definitely be reading more of Barry Unsworth's work in the future. I am just sorry I didn't discover his books before his death.
I LOVED Instance of the Fingerpost, I thought the unique format was very well done. :)
Hi Rachel - yes it was very well done. Didn't quite come to love for me but still very good:)
I may go looking for The Ruby in Her Navel. You made it sound interesting and it has an intriguing setting.
Have you read Arianna Franklin's series? It sounds like TRiHN would be ideal for fans of Mistress of the Art of Death.
Hi hailelib - it was definitely an unusual setting for a novel and I think it was an interesting read. Hope you like it if you read it.
hi mamzel - I haven't read the Ariana Franklin books ... I do like that period of history and I do like the premise behind Franklin's story but she died before completing the series and as (after looking at the review page) the last book has unresolved storylines I've decided not to read them.
category 5 Chills down my spine - horror and mysteries (10 of 12)
85) Dead Scared by S. J. Bolton (5 - 7 July)
Well the title is certainly accurate. S. J. Bolton's second Lacey Flint novel has the young policewoman undercover as a vulnerable Cambridge student. There has been a series of increasingly violent suicides and the police want to know if someone is persuading the victims or if there is something more sinister going on.
From the opening scene of Lacey high on one of tallest towers in Cambridge we go back a few days to discover what has led her to this place. From start to end I loved this book — the characters; the pace of the story; the ending. A brilliantly scary novel, closer to the psychological thriller of Bolton's earlier work than the police procedural of the first Lacey Flint story. Now all I have to do is wait for S. J. Bolton's next book - I'm really looking forward to see what this author does next.
category 8 New friends/Old friends (8 of 12) re-read/group read
86) Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (7 - 8 July)
Will and Jim are best friends with only minutes between their births - one born shortly before midnight and the other just after. There are differences and when a carnival comes to town the boys are drawn into a dark place. People in town change or disappear, can the boys and their friendship survive this experience.
Bradbury is a genius. I loved the atmosphere he created and the way his language builds pictures in your mind. This was a scarily beautiful read. I've got some Bradbury short story collections on the shelf - I think they won't stay there long:)
category 2 About the past - non-fiction history (7 of 12)
87) The Swerve : how the Renaissance began by Stephen Greenblatt (1 - 8 July)
This is a book that has different subtitles - How the World Became Modern is the one that comes up in the touchstone I prefer the one that is used on the copy I read - How the Renaissance Began. The book tells the story of a Roman poem that survived through chance and the efforts of an Italian book hunter of the 15th century. The poem was Lucretius' De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things); the man Poggio Bracciolini. Bracciolini didn't know what he found, he just wanted to rescue any Classical works that he could find - before time and accident could destroy the vulnerable manuscipts but the ideas expressed in the poem led to a shift or "Swerve" in how people thought.
This is literary history of the highest order. I loved how Greenblatt described the life of Poggio and the ideas of Epicurean philosophy expressed in the poem. This leads to a discussion of people known to have read (or owned) a copy of De Rerum Natura; the effort of the Catholic church to suppress the influence of the poem and how ideas we find common today were first expressed over two thousand years ago.
I did have a minor problem with the notes as there is no indication in the text that they exist. In the notes section there was just a page number and a small quote from the text. I ended up having to use three bookmarks in this book - one for the page I was reading; one in the notes and the third on the next page where the note was more than just a reference. Other editions may not have this problem but this is the only reason I cannot give this book the full five stars.
I will soon be reading De Rerum Natura again. It must be nearly twenty years since I first read it and I should definitely do so again.
Excellent reviews! I'm glad to see that you've had some great reads lately. :) Consider all of them on my TBR list, thanks (or should that be "thanks") to you!
A great book to read is "How to overcome fear, and start living fearless" this book is surely life changing! Just go to Amazon and read the description I bet it'll catch you the same way that it caught me and this book really changed my life!
Possibly - only the one book in their library, just joined but, as far as I can see, this is the only thread they posted on.
Commercial solicitation is a definite basis to flag that post. Flag away!
category 10 It's Greek to me - books in translation (7 of 12)
88) Lies by Enrique De Heriz (8 - 12 July)
This was an interesting one - told from two points of view. Isabel Garcia Luna is in Guatemala when she is mistakenly reported dead and, as she spends some time reflecting on her life, work and family, she has to decide whether to return to her life. Meanwhile at the family home in Spain her children have gathered and her daughter Serena delves into the family past with a particular focus on the story of Simon, her grandfather who died before his son's birth.
Translated from Spanish by John Cullen the prose flows nicely. I was only baffled by one sentence which I presume was a translation of a Spanish saying. The importance of family stories and what is left unsaid is an intriguing premise and I really liked the way things developed. The story is told well with the layers of lies being uncovered slowly. I must say though that I never really got to know the other main characters, Isabel's husband, sons and grandson. Apart from that I did like reading this. So. all in all, not an outstanding read but also one I'm not sorry to have read.
category 9 To space and beyond - science fiction (7 of 12)
89) The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (12 - 14 July)
I am a huge Pratchett fan though I haven't read very much of Stephen Baxter's work but when I heard about this novel I had to read it. The basic premise is that there is a series of parallel Earths and, after the plans are posted on the internet, a simple machine allows most people to step into the adjacent world and then the next and the next.
This is a very imaginative piece of fiction. I loved the idea and how the authors have created the possible worlds especially as we get deeper into the alternate worlds. If there is a flaw about this novel it is the fact that some character's stories are started and we do not return to them often enough so this is a novel that left me wanting more. Fortunately it is the first of a series and I can only hope that the rest will be as interesting and intriguing as this one.
Something Wicked looks like a good way to celebrate Bradbury's life. Often, his writing is too cynical for me but Fahrenheit 451 is one of my all-time favorite books. Lies looks interesting.
Thanks for stopping by Katie - it's kind of sad that it took his death as the spur for me to read some of his books and, unfortunately, I don't have a copy of Fahrenheit 451. I'll have to keep my eyes open for a copy as it should be a keeper.
Lies was interesting:)
category 4 More from the past - historical fiction (post-medieval) (8 of 12)
90) The Garden of Martyrs by Michael C White (14 - 17 July)
This is quality historical fiction. Set in early nineteenth century America White uses the true case of James Halligan and Dominic Daley, two Irish Catholic immigrants to Boston, who were charged with murder. This is the story of their trial and the affect that anti-Catholic feeling had at the time on the verdict. White also focuses on a third character, Father Chevereus, one of the two priests in Boston at the time. Both of whom had escaped from France during the French Revolution.
This is well written and well researched. As the characters are mostly real people White has had to use his imagination to flesh out their motivations but he seems to have given some thought to this and the end result rings true. The picture of the times and what brought these men to this point is fascinating. This is wonderful story telling that highlights a period of history that I knew very little about. If you have any interest in religious, political, social or legal history I definitely recommend this book.
category 7 Unlikely things - fantasy (8 of 12)
91) The Blue Girl by Charles de Lint (17 - 18 July)
This is one of de Lint's Newford stories but this time it is a Young Adult novel, though probably more suited to the older teen as there are some elements that might be too grown up for younger readers.
Seventeen year old Imogene has had an unusual upbringing - her parents were part of a hippy commune and when they moved to a city she became part of a street gang. Moving to Newford with her mother and older brother is supposed to be a fresh start, she is going to keep out of trouble and not get involved in any high school cliques. Unfortunately this being Newford things aren't quite that simple. Her friendship with Maxine, the good girl with an overprotective mother, is a positive but gaining the attention of the school bullies and a ghost challenge her intentions.
This is a lighter book than de Lint's adult stories. He deals with the issues well and, as always, his fiction is grounded in reality with the supernatural and faerie elements well integrated into the world he creates. Some of the regular Newford characters do make an appearance but I don't think knowing the back stories is too important or will spoil them if you haven't read them yet.
I still prefer his adult stories but I really like de Lint's work and this is no exception. The three narrators, Imogene, Maxine and Adrian (the ghost), give different viewpoints and build the plot well. I liked the characters and the way the story developed. It turned out to be a good book about friendship and being yourself.
Oooohhh.... your review of The Garden of Martyrs caught my eye! My library has that one so on the To Read list it goes. Hope you are having an enjoyable summer calm!
Hi Lori and Katie - pleased to see more people taking an interest in Garden of Martyrs:)
It looks good - A couple of years ago, I ran into an article about an anthropological dig at an Irish mining camp where the workers had been slaughtered. It's easy to forget and hard to believe how much they had to face in this country.
I was quite surprised by how anti-Catholic the feeling was at the time in America. I did know something about what happened in the French Revolution and in the strongly Protestant countries of Europe (including what the English were doing in Ireland). Unfortunately things weren't made any easier by emigrating and in some way it was more difficult as many had left their homes and families.
I'd be interested to know how much was anti-Catholic and how much was anti-Irish. I know my ancestors were Irish, but I'm betting they were Protestant and I think the Protestants had an easier time of it. My guess is they were more likely to come over with a little bit of money to buy land. It's definitely on the Wishlist.
The Garden of Martyrs looks interesting! Onto the TBR list it goes.
category 8 New friends/Old friends -(9 of 12)
92) Infinite West Travels in South Dakota by Fraser Harrison (9 - 22 July)
I received this book from ER and looked forward to seeing South Dakota through an Englishman's eyes. What started out as more about the author turned into a look at the history of several tourist destinations but with, what seemed to me, an emphasis on what happened to the indigenous people when settlers and gold hunters arrived.
This is a very personal story but I did learn some of the history of places like Mount Rushmore; Deadwood and Wounded Knee. This is not so much about the experience of travelling but the places you travel to. I must say that I would have appreciated some photographs in the book, especially as the author talks about the pictures he took in the Badlands and other places, but this was an ARC and maybe the publisher will consider including them in the completed book.
category 12 Great books I should have read (8 of 12)
93) East of Eden by John Steinbeck (18 - 25 July)
Using his own family history and combining it with the story of the fictional Trask's Steinbeck covers over fifty years of the lives of these two families. A story of good and evil strongly rooted in the biblical story of Cain and Abel.
Once again Steinbeck weaves his story well. His mastery of language and character; his sense of place and time meant that from the opening scene describing the setting for this novel to the final scene I was drawn along on the story that Steinbeck wanted to tell. Steinbeck is surely one of the greatest writers of the Twentieth Century.
category 1 Current affairs - contemporary fiction (9 of 12)
94) Life Before Man by Margaret Atwood (23 - 28 July)
This is a novel is about relationships, love and grief. It covers two years in the lives of three people. Short, dated sections are narrated by Elizabeth and Nate, who are a married couple, and Lesje who works in the same museum as Elizabeth. Nate and Elizabeth have an "open" marriage, both have lovers but stay together for the sake of the children. Shortly before the opening of the story Elizabeth's last lover commits suicide and this is a catalyst for change within the relationship.
I must say that it is important to pay attention to the dates as the story skips months and occasionally Nate's sections cover things that occurred earlier. I appreciate Atwood's ability to make unappealing characters interesting,. The story is well written and, though I can't call this enjoyable, it is definitely a thought provoking read.
category 6 Once upon a time - mythology, folklore and fairytales (7 of 12)
95) Ash by Malinda Lo (28 - 29 July)
This a re-imagining of the tale of Cinderella and I liked what Malinda Lo did with the story. As the story starts Aisling's mother has recently died and we are introduced to the beliefs about the fairy in this world. Other things happen but we do end up with the traditional part of the tale with Ash living as a servant in her stepmother's house. From there things divert from the traditional tale and I really enjoyed where Lo's imagination takes us. The weaving of the fairy tale into the world building works very well. Maybe the characterisation isn't the strongest but it is still an appealing book.
It's a shame the South Dakota book lacked photos. Fortunately I have photos of my own trip there, and I get to enjoy the photos my nephew who now lives there posts frequently. He seems to really enjoy it. My other brother's (not his dad) family lived there for awhile. I think it was among their favorite places they lived when he was working for the major retailer. My sister-in-law and niece worked in the tourism industry while they were there.
I've had Ash on the WL for a long time. Good to see a review on it.
Lori - I think it was partly because the author talked about the photos he took that made me miss them. Of course I could have looked up the places online but that isn't the same. It does seem that most of South Dakota's income comes from tourism these days and it was fascinating reading about the places.
Cathy - hope you like it, when you get a copy:)
Oops! - I have completely neglected to update this thread. Sorry been a bit distracted this month.
Long list of books and comments coming up:)
category 6 Once upon a time - mythology, folklore and fairytales (8 of 12)
96) History and Romance by Richard Barber (6 June - 29 July)
The third and final collection edited by Richard Barber. In this one we have a mix of real and fictional characters - King Harold; Hereward the Wake; Richard the Lionheart; King Horn; Havelock the Dane; Guy of Warwick; Bevis of Hampton; Sir Gawain; Robin Hood; Macbeth and Lady Godiva. As in all these collections some of the tales were familiar to me and others were not - or presented in an unfamiliar fashion.
I did enjoy reading these but I do think that they are for dipping in and out of not reading straight through. The Folio edition was a delight to read and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in the Myths and Legends of Britain.
category 1 Current affairs (10 of 12)
97) Spiderweb by Penelope Lively (29 - 30 July)
This is a story told from two points of view. Newly retired social anthropologist Stella Brentwood moves to a small Somerset cottage. Her past means that she is used to observing communities, not being part of them. We learn some of Stella's history and what lead her to this place. After a lifetime of travel and teaching will she be able to settle? The other strand to the story is that of the two teenage sons of Stella's closest neighbour and extracts from the local paper help to move the story along.
This is a short and deceptively simple book. There are questions unanswered but that is life. I enjoyed Stella's story and will be reading more from Lively in the future.
category 7 Unlikely things (9 of 12)
98) Coraline by Neil Gaiman (30 July)
This is a short YA novel from Neil Gaiman. Young Coraline has just moved to a flat in an old house. Bored and lonely, as her parents are preoccupied and the neighbours are rather strange, she discovers a secret door into a parallel world. There her "other" mother has button eyes and lots of nice things for a little girl to do. Unfortunately returning to the real world means that Coraline has more problems.
I'll start off by saying that I do prefer his adult novels. I do think this feeds off childhood fears and has a touch of Gaiman's quirky and dark atmosphere but, for me, there was something missing. So it was a quick read but not quite to my personal taste.
category 3 Long ago and far away (8 of 12)
99) Morality Play by Barry Unsworth (30 - 31 July)
Another winner from Barry Unsworth. Late Fourteenth Century England and Nicholas Barber, a young cleric, falls in with a group of travelling players. They move on to a small town where there has recently been a murder and choose to create a play of the events.
This a short but fascinating story, one step follows another in a logical fashion as the characters learn more about the death. Unsworth has created a vivid picture of these actors and the situation they find themselves in. A great feel for the time and history made this a book I am very pleased to have read. I will definitely be reading more Barry Unsworth.
category 6 Once upon a time (9 of 12)
100) Jezebel by Eleanor de Jong (31 July - 4 August)
This retelling of the Biblical story of Jezebel presents her in a more favourable light than that given in Kings I and II. Jezebel is Princess of Tyre and two embassies arrive at the same time, one from Judea and one from Israel. Jezebel falls in love with Jehu, a Judean prince, but is given in marriage to King Ahab of Israel for diplomatic reasons.
The timeline and events follow the Biblical story but the author has managed to present these things in a slightly different light. Naturally enough as the Old Testament is written from the point of view of its monotheistic religion but archaeology and other sources give us numerous gods in the region. Jezebel is not always likeable as a character but she does ring true and human. I did like this book and I will look out for more from Eleanor de Jong.
category 10 - It's Greek to me - books in translation (8 of 12)
101) The Women's Decameron by Julia Voznesenskaya translated by W B Linton (4 - 7 August)
While in a hospital in Leningrad ten women are put into quarantine. From various backgrounds with very different lives the only thing they have in common is the fact that they have just given birth. One of them is reading Boccaccio's Decameron and the women agree to tell stories to pass the time. Each day a different theme is suggested and what follows is a collection of tales happy and sad, of love and hate, of life and death.
Voznesenskaya has created a cast of wonderful characters as each day goes by we learn more about these women and life in the Soviet Union in the 1980's. Though very different the women find connections and sympathy for the other's lives. In the end they are all women and all have a story to tell and the way Voznesenskaya does this makes for a very enjoyable read.
category 9 - To space and beyond - science fiction (8 of 12)
102) Flood by Stephen Baxter (7 - 10 August)
At the start of this book a group of hostages are being transferred to yet another hiding place in Spain. Some of them have been held for five years and they are just about to return to a changed world. This gives Baxter the chance to explain the situation - severe flooding and rising sea levels are affecting the world. Following the ex-hostages over the years we learn theories for these changes and the effect this has on society.
I found this gripping and readable. In some places, maybe, there was a little bit too much info dumping but on the whole Baxter manages to keep the pace up. In some ways this is an old-fashioned end of the world disaster novel and that isn't a bad thing. The use of maps to chart the affect that the rising sea levels have on the remaining land gives a real idea of how fast things can change. A good mix of possible science and a diversity of characters made this an appealing work of speculative fiction. I'll definitely be reading Ark, the follow up novel, soon and I will be reading more of Baxter's work as well.
category 12 Great books I should have read - classics and prizewinners/nominees (9 of 12)
103) The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (10 - 12 August)
When recently retired Harold Fry receives a letter from an old work colleague he starts his unlikely pilgrimage. As he walks we learn more about him, his wife Maureen and why their relationship has drifted apart. As he travels he grows as a person, becoming more open and understanding of humanity. Left at home Maureen also looks at their past.
I really liked this book. The pace is uneven as is fitting for the journey, both physical and emotional, that Harold undertakes. Some of the characters are more fully developed than others but the less developed ones are the people who Harold contacts briefly and some of them do stand out. In turns poignant and touching at others gently humorous this struck me as a particularly English story but one that is universal in its message. This is a wonderful debut novel and I look forward to seeing what Rachel Joyce does next.
Well that is it for books I have written comments for. Still three to be written:(
Hopefully I won't leave it so long before updating next time.
Lots of good stuff here!! I just noticed that Jim Broadbent reads the audiobook of Harold Fry - that goes straight on the wishlist!!
You're review of Flood is very serendipity. I spent a day shopping with friends, yes in antique bookstores, and resisted buying Deluge which is from 1928. I haven't read the book, but have seen the movie based on it. The movie is depression era by RKO and the US version of it no longer exists. If you want to see it, you have to see the US version dubbed in Italian and subtitled in English. & guess what, extremely similar plot to Baxter's, although I'm sure the way women are treated has been updated. One of these days I'll buy Deluge, not because it's great or anything. Just because it's an odd antique and I have the matching movie.
Thanks Eva - I don't do audiobooks myself but I do like Broadbent as an actorso hope you like Harold Fry.
Katie - Considering the rain and the fact that earlier this year there was serious flooding a few miles north of me Flood was quite scary! At least the rain hasn't been global:)
Never heard of Deluge. That is a very convoluted way of having to see a movie, sad that so many films from that era have been lost and quite serendipitous to have seen the book. Love the idea of browsing antiquarian bookstores and seeing what catches the eye.
I can believe it! Floods are really scary! & as for Deluge, the convolutions is all part of it's charm. It's rather silly from a modern viewpoint - a bit King Kong in feel even, with the men being the gorillas. Our heroine is a champion swimmer and whenever it gets to bad she swims off and swoons on another bit of land. If I ever get to read Deluge, I should follow it back-to-back with Flood. There's a category idea - paired books separated by time.
Great idea for a category Katie:)
From where I am Mamzel things are definitely getting wetter:( Thanks for the article link.
Indeed it is psutto. I don't think I would want to live anywhere nearer the coast than I am.
It is a great idea - wish I needed more categories. Environmental disasters would be a good one too. Scary article!
I vaguely know what my categories will be. I'm probably boring but they will be much the same as this year with a bit of tweaking to fit my idea for the title of my challenge. But that won't be until near the end of the year as I still have a way to go this year. Though I have read the full 12 in one category!
category 4 More from the past (9 of 12)
104) Dissolution by C. J. Sansom (12 - 15 August)
The first in the Matthew Shardlake series sees the hunchback lawyer travelling to an isolated monastery. Part of his mission is to uncover any scandal, whether financial, sexual or against the new rules for the church in England, so that the monastery can be dissolved. But the previous commissioner was murdered and Shardlake also has to investigate the death. Was it caused by someone inside the monastery?
I really enjoyed this story. A good mix of history and mystery. Shardlake grows as a character over the course of the novel as the events he uncovers lead him to question his belief and trust in his employer, Cromwell. I enjoyed the variety of characters and their various secrets. Also the answer to the death was one I didn't expect. I will definitely be reading more about Shardlake.
category 5 Chills down my spine (11 of 12)
105) The House at Riverton by Kate Morton (15 - 19 August)
98 year old Grace Bradley looks back at her life as a maid at The House at Riverton. From the start we know that there was a tragedy during a house party in 1924 but we go further back to the day when Grace first went into service in 1914. Her relationship with the household, mainly with the eldest daughter Hannah Hartford, is at the core of the story from the past. At the same time we see Grace in 1999 as a film is being made of those events in 1924 and learn more about of her life.
I liked Grace and her story. Kate Morton gives a good picture of life in a large house as the changes brought on by the First World War lead to a different attitude both for those in service and family. The central tragedy is built up to slowly and the events seem to flow naturally from what went before. I would like to know more about Grace's life in the intervening years, the pieces we learn during this story mean that she is a character I would like to see again.
category 5 Chills down my spine (12 of 12)
106) Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson (19 - 24 August)
A few years after the Second World War on a small island near Seattle, a local fisherman is found dead. A chance remark by the coroner and the thoughts of the victim's mother lead to a Japanese-American man, Kabuo Miyamoto, being charged with murder. As a snow storm covers the island the trial unfolds.
The story goes back in time to before the war; the relationship of the man and his wife with other islanders; the treatment of the Japanese during the war; the life of the local reporter and others all intertwine into a compelling tale.
I loved the sense of place and time that Guterson gives in this story. The characters are flawed and human. As each layer of the past is revealed we learn how it affects the actions of the people. This is quality story telling and there is definitely more Guterson in my future.
I've read other good reviews on the Shardlake mysteries. Would be a good companion piece to Wolf Hall. It's going on the WL.
Hi Lori - yes those books lurking on the TBR shelves. I think all three of those had been sitting there for a while. Hope you like them when you get around to reading them.
Hi Katie - The Shardlake has a very different portrayal of Cromwell, who appears as a minor character, and the series starts a few years after the events of Wolf Hall. I do still think that it is well worth reading.
I have four more books to write comments for and will do so on this thread. When I have done that I think it is time to start a new one as this is getting a bit long.
Pleased to say that I am still on track for finishing a full 12 in 12 this year as I have read at least 8 books per category:)
category 4 More from the past (10 of 12)
107) Soul Catcher by Michael C White (24 - 28 August)
In 1850's Virginia Augustus Cain is a war scarred man, addicted to laudanum, he has one talent - the ability to track and return runaway slaves to their owners. Each time he does this he thinks it will be the last time and he will go west. Unfortunately he gambles unwisely and ends up in debt to a man who wants two slaves returned. As he tracks and finds the runaways he questions what he is doing and the companions foisted on him by his employer.
This is a wonderful picture of time and place. I loved nearly every word of the story as we learn more about Cain and his moral dilemma. The tensions between North and South; abolitionists and slave owners are well described. The two main characters, Cain and the runaway Rosetta, have a realistic relationship as both learn something from each other. The supporting characters are a mix of types and all add their own flavour to the story.
Michael C. White is one of my favourite discoveries of the year. This was the second of his books that I have read and he writes quality historical fiction. I can't wait to read more of his work.
category 8 New friends/Old friends (10 of 12)
108) Fireworks by Angela Carter (7 - 30 August)
9 short stories from Angela Carter. As always Carter plays with language enveloping us in rich, dense prose. This is a strange collection though - ranging from the experiences of an unnamed European woman (or women) in Japan in A Souvenir of Japan, The Smile of Winter and Flesh and the Mirror; life in remote areas in stories such as The Executioner's Beautiful Daughter; Penetrating to the Heart of the Forest and Master; to the even more fantastical - The Loves of Lady Purple and Reflections and one set in London in a time that seems like the 1970's to me but a London on the verge of anarchy - Elegy for a Freelance.
I did enjoy reading this collection but I think this is one for established Carter fans. The brevity of the stories doesn't leave much space for character and all of the stories, except for the last, are more about the imagery and ideas.
category 2 About the past (8 of 12)
109) The Cathars by Malcolm Lambert (22 July - 31 August)
Well this was more than slightly out of my depth. It is a good synthesis of the research into the Cathars in France; Italy and Bosnia, the places where there is the most surviving source material. But, for me, it was too detailed in names and places, many of which were very similar. So why did I continue slogging my way through it for over a month? Partly because I am interested in the subject and partly because I am just stubborn that way. And I did learn some more about the Cathars; their beliefs and the course of their persecution.
I can see this book being helpful to people at university level. Unfortunately it wasn't quite as accessible for me. There were maps and some illustrations to break up the text but that text, in the edition I read, was in small type and densely packed on the page. I can say it would have been more understandable if there had been a glossary and a short biography of the major figures included as appendices. As it was I had to try to remember definitions of some unfamiliar terms and also which Bernard or Arnaud (to take a couple of the more common names) was being referred to.
Would I recommend it? Not to the casual reader looking for information on the Cathars but if you have some familiarity with the subject already it will probably add more to that knowledge.
Thanks for the review of Snow Falling on Cedars . It has been on my TBR list so long that I thought I'd already read it! But actually, I haven't and it sounds good.
Fireworks doesn't sound like typical Angela Carter at all. Too brief for character development? No fairy tales? Would you rate it as good, go read it or as good but read her other works first because they are better?
Soul Catcher sounds like my kind of book - historical fiction with a flawed character and moral dilemmas. On the reading list it goes!
Hi Banjo123 - I know that feeling, hope you do like it when you get around to reading it:)
Katie - they are beautifully written but for this collection, at least, the fairy tale theme isn't really there. I haven't read all of Angela Carter's books but I would say if you do like her writing this is worth reading.
Lori - yes it is a good one. I'm just so pleased that I picked up one of his books at random in the library. I think he deserves to be better known. Which reminds me it is probably time to see if they have any more of his books:)
One more book comment to write to clear up August, which I hope to get to later today and then it will be time to move.
I have a few of Angela Carter's collection on Mt TBR, so once I've read those, it's good to know there's more to read.
Hi Katie - Hope you like them:)
Obviously I have had a bit of a not so good September. My mother visited and then I went to a wedding. No excuse but I have finally written my last August review!
I'll post that then try to start a new thread:)
category 10 It's Greek to me - books in translation (9 of 12)
110) Silence by Shūsaku Endō translated by William Johnston (28 - 31 August)
This is a powerful work of historical fiction. In the 1640's two Portuguese Roman Catholic priests travel to Japan, where Christianity is banned and the rumour is that the mentor of one of the priests has apostatized. Seeking any Christians and to find out what really happened is foremost in the mind of Father Sebastian Rodrigues but his faith will be sorely tested.
The question of faith and martyrdom is central to this novel. As Father Rodrigues and his fellow priest try to bring the comfort of Christianity to the persecuted believers can they be as strong as the Japanese and are the people they meet actually Christians. Is it right to introduce a different faith to another country. And as the characters suffer for their faith why does God allow such things to happen. As the story unfolds these questions are important to the decisions that Father Rodrigues has to make.
Overall I was really drawn into this story. One thing that did jar with me was the hubris of Father Rodrigues and his comparisons of his life with that of Christ and the Japanese guide, Kichijiro, with that of Judas. Apart from that I think this is a great novel about belief and suffering and the Silence of God. I'm not a believer myself but through novels like this I can at least try to understand those who do believe and I think Shūsaku Endō has written something that helps me towards that understanding.
This topic was continued by calm counting 12 in 12 - part 2!.
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