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GingerbreadMan's 12 in 12, 3rd thread

This is a continuation of the topic GingerbreadMan's 12 in 12, 2nd thread.

The 12 in 12 Category Challenge

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1GingerbreadMan
Edited: Sep 27, 2012, 11:42am Top

The "blindfold category" (see below) was really what set off this year's category theme for me. That and having a playful four year old in the house :)

1. Cowboys and indians (Western)
2. Chinese whispers (Completing my China Miéville canon)
3. Peek-a-boo! (Ghost stories)
4. Clapping games (Poetry)
5. Connect the dots (Series continuation books)
6. Blind man's buff (Books chosen randomly by readers of my 11 in 11 thread)
7. Dress-up (Plays)
8. Tag, you're it! (Spontanious reads, no planning is allowed!)
9. Winding down (Chapterbooks read to our four year old - not picturebooks though. Also more Graphic novels, after category 11 is full...)
10. Sandbox (Books in the fantasy / sci-fi spectrum)
11. Coloring book (Graphic novels)
12. King of the hill (Books on the TBR, purchased before 2012)

(Not even wishfully planning for a bonus category this year!)


2GingerbreadMan
Edited: Aug 28, 2012, 5:11pm Top

1. Cowboys and indians: (A Western) Completed!
1. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty, finished august 28th, *****, #3:45

2. Chinese whispers: (Books by China Miéville)
1. Embassytown by China Miéville, finished july 22nd, ****, #3:18
2.

Candidates:
Un Lun Dun by China Miéville

3GingerbreadMan
Edited: Dec 30, 2012, 5:33pm Top

3. Peek-a-boo!: (Books with ghosts) Completed!
1. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell, finished march 16th, ****, #283
2. The haunting of hill house by Shirley Jackson, finished july 7th, *****, #2:282
3. Locke and key 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, finished december 30th, *****, #3:235

4. Clapping games: (Poetry) Completed!
1. Handbok i galvaniska språk by Maria Vedin, finished january 7th, ***, #103
2. En broschyr om smärta by Thomas Tidholm, finished march 20th, ***, #295
3. Samlade dikter 1954-1996 by Thomas Tranströmer, finished april 27th, ****½, #2:125
4. Går vidare i världen by Leif Holmstrand, finished august 31st, ****, #3:67

4GingerbreadMan
Edited: Oct 23, 2012, 5:24pm Top

5. Connect the dots: (Series continuation) Completed!
1. Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld, finished january 7th, ****, #102
2. Dearly devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, finished april 12th, ***½, #2:77
3. Heartless by Gail Carriger, finished june 9th, ***½, #2:218
4. Dexter in the dark by Jeff Lindsay, finished september 25th, **, #3:85
5. Timeless by Gail Carriger, finished october 23rd, ***½, #3:155

5GingerbreadMan
Edited: Dec 29, 2012, 8:08am Top

6. Blind man's buff (Books chosen randomly by fellow LT:ers) Completed!
1. Stunder av verklighet by Jan Jönsson (non-fiction, re-read), finished march 21st, **½, #2:16
2. Bergets döttrar by Anna Jörgensdotter, finished may 9th, ****, #2:139
3. Kärlek i kolerans tid (Love in the time of cholera) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, finished may 22nd, ***, #2:177
4. Blodets meridian (Blood meridian) by Cormac McCarthy, finished june 28th, ***½, #2:261
5. Hett (Heat) by Bill Buford (non-fiction), finished december 7th, ***, #3:216
6. Den blå rullgardinen by Agnes von Krusenstjerna, finished december 29th, ***½, #3:231

6GingerbreadMan
Edited: Dec 7, 2012, 6:26pm Top

7. Dress-up:(Plays)
1. The Methuen book of modern drama (mostly re-read), finished february 17th, ****½, #214
2. Fireface by Marius von Mayenburg (re-read), finished march 7th, ***½, #270
3. Familjelycka by Anne Charlotte Leffler, finished may 10th, **½, #2:145
4. Across Oka by Robert Holman, finished july 26th, ***, #3:34
5. The prince of Homburg by Heinrich von Kleist, finished october 28th, ****, #3:170
6. Lucky dog by Leo Butler, finished december 7th, ***, #3:216
7.

Candidates:
Caryl Churchill: Plays 2
Martin Crimp: Plays 2

7GingerbreadMan
Edited: Sep 20, 2012, 4:54am Top

8. Tag! You're it! (No planning allowed!) Completed!
1. Anarchy in Åmot by Sturle Brustad, finished january 3rd, ****, #87
2. Lilla stjärna (Little star) by John Ajvide Lindqvist, finished february 3rd, ****, #195
3. Otroso: senaste nytt från underjorden by Graciela Montes, finished february 7th, ***, #207
4. Atlas of remote islands by Judith Schalansky, finished february 29th, *****, #245
5. Eld by Mats Strandberg and Sara Bergmark Elfgren, finished may 13th, ****, #2:150
6. Intrusion by Ken MacLeod, finished june 2nd, ****, #2:196
7. Råttfångerskan by Inger Frimansson, finished july 2nd, ****½, #2:270
8. Himmelsdalen by Marie Hermanson, finished september 19th, ***½, #3:73

8GingerbreadMan
Edited: Dec 30, 2012, 5:34pm Top

9. Winding down: (Chapter books read aloud to our son - plus more graphic novels!) Completed!
1. Nalle Puh (Winnie-the-Pooh) by A.A Milne (re-read), finished june 7th, ****, #2:208
2. Nalle Puhs hörna (The house at Pooh corner) by A.A Milne (re-read), finished june 19th, ****, #2:226
3. Korken flyger by Barbro Lindgren, finished july 16th, ***½, #2:291
4. VLMF: vad lever man för by Barbro Lindgren, finished july 28th, ***, #3:34
5. Numret 73304-23-4153-6-96-8 by Thomas Ott, finished september 27th, ***½, #3:94
6. Mina vackra ögon by Nina Hemmingsson, finished october 8th, ***½, #3:106
7. The Unwritten 4: Leviathan by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, finished november 25th, ****½, #3:193
8. Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean (re-read), finished november 28th, ****, #3:207
9. Blacksad by Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido, finished december 30th, ****½, #3:235

9GingerbreadMan
Edited: Dec 29, 2012, 8:07am Top

10. Sandbox: (Sci-fi and fantasy)
1. Vellum by Hal Duncan, finished january 28th, *½, #163
2. Pretty monsters by Kelly Link, finished february 26th, *****, #220
3. Zoo city by Lauren Beukes, finished march 6th, ****½, #262
4. Moxyland by Lauren Beukes, finished may 2nd, ****, #2:133
5. Metro 2034 by Dmitrij Gluchovskij, finished october 8th, ****, #3:106
6. Amatka by Karin Tidbeck, finished october 25th, ****, #3:159
7. Tender morsels by Margo Lanagan, finished november 15th, ****, #3:174
8. Mainspring by Jay Lake, finished december 25th, ***½, #3:231
9.
10.

Candidates:
Thunderer by Felix Gilman
Use of weapons by Iain M. Banks
Living next door to the god of love by Justina Robson

10GingerbreadMan
Edited: Sep 26, 2012, 5:25pm Top

11. Coloring book: (Graphic novels) Completed!
1. Prins Charles känsla by Liv Strömqvist, finished january 7th, ****, #103
2. Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert, finished february 1st, ***,#176
3. Marvels by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross, finished february 5th, ****, #203
4. Fables: Legends in exile by Bill Willingham and Lan Medina, finished february 28th, ***½, #244
5. The unwritten vol 1. by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, finished april 4th, ****, #2:49
6. The unwritten vol.2 by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, finished april 28th, ****, #2:126
7. Essex county volume 2: Ghost stories by Jeff Lemire, finished may 9th, ***½, #2:140
8. Fables: Animal Farm by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham, finished may 22nd, ***½, #2:184
9. The unwritten vol. 3 by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, finished august 30th, ***½, #3:56
10. Ja till Liv by Liv Strömqvist, finished september 13th, ****, #3:69
11. The arrival by Shaun Tan, finished september 26th, *****, #3:85

11GingerbreadMan
Edited: Nov 28, 2012, 9:09am Top

12. King of the hill: (Mt. TBR) Completed!
1. Vargen, den jagade jägaren by Henrik Ekman (non-fiction), finished january 21st, ***½, #143
2. Den vita tigern (The white tiger) by Aravind Adiga, finished march 20th, ***, #293
3. Den lille vännen (The little friend) by Donna Tartt, finished april 2nd, ***, #2:46
4. Things fall apart by Chinua Achebe, finished april 5th, ****½, #2:63
5. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, finished april 25th, *****, #2:109
6. Our tragic universe by Scarlett Thomas, finished september 13th, **½, #3:69
7. Screwtop Thompson by Magnus Mills, finished september 27th, ***½, #3:94
8. Buss på villovägar (The wayward bus) by John Steinbeck, finished october 13th, ****½, #3:144
9. Möss och människor | Den röda ponnyn (Of mice and men | The red pony) by John Steinbeck, finished october 16th, ***½, #3:149
10. 3096 dagar (3096 days) by Natascha Kampusch (non-fiction), finished october 26th, ****, #3:159
11. Regnspiran by Sara Lidman, finished november 24th, ***½, #3:191
12. SCUM Manifesto by Valerie Solanas (non-fiction), finished november 28th, ****, #3:201

12GingerbreadMan
Edited: Dec 30, 2012, 5:35pm Top

Inspired by all of our tireless struggles to reduce our TBR mounds, I thought I'd keep count this year. In the end, I hope this will lead to a dent rather than a bump in 2012! A new book, once it's mine, will of course also be counted as a TBR book. Note: this is not a count of all the books I read in 2012. Borrowed books won't be here, for instance, as they don't affect the TBR either way.

Books read from the TBR: -56

New additions in 2012: +41

Total TBR dent/bump in 2012: -15

Given away, etc. (It COULD happen!): -8

13cammykitty
Jul 21, 2012, 11:53pm Top

Oh man, I used to be in the Books off the Shelf challenge. Even that didn't make a dent in Mount TBR!!! To make my goal of 1/2 of my books for the year being out of my own books, I'm really going to have to show some restrain. Good luck to you!!! Actually, 10 down isn't bad.

14GingerbreadMan
Jul 22, 2012, 5:31am Top

I konw! At this impressive pace Mt. TBR will be whittled down to nothing in merely some four or five decades ;-)

15cammykitty
Jul 22, 2012, 5:58am Top

Well, if there's a brief binge in there, five or six decades. ;) I told a friend once approximately how many unread books I own, and she yelled "Hey Mom! Katie has over 300 unread books!!!" I was embarrassed, but in LT terms, that's almost under control.

16psutto
Jul 22, 2012, 2:22pm Top

Not sure if I'm up to 300 afraid to count them, prefer to think that's there's a good couple of years reading in the shelves...

17GingerbreadMan
Jul 22, 2012, 7:04pm Top

Oh, 300 books seems like a distant dream to me...

18GingerbreadMan
Jul 22, 2012, 7:06pm Top

43. Embassytown by China Miéville
Category 2. Chinese whispers, 405 pages.

As he’s done before, China Miéville seemingly without effort dives into a new genre and makes it look like he’s never written anything but. This is classic, hard sci-fi with just a little twist of weirdness (mostly the strange biotech of the planet where the book is set). And a dash of political thriller, I suppose. Oh, and linguistics, lots of it.

Embassytown is a frontier Terran settlement on Ariekes, at the edge of the Immer, the cryptic hyperspace that is the only way to travel through the vast universe. Avice is among the very few from here to have become an immerser, with the skills and abilities to travel the strange immer fully conscious. She’s travelled wide and far, and it’s surprising even to herself when she decides to return to her home planet with which she shares an odd and strong bond. She brings her new linguist husband with her.

Because Ariekes is a unique place, languagewise. The Hosts, the indigenous intelligent life form, has a Language unlike anything else in the universe. It’s a form of communication so alien, so closely connected with this world and it’s speakers, it can only be spoken by terran Ambassadors trained since birth – in a very special way. But now, however, a new form of Ambassador is arriving to Ariekes. And the conseqences of it’s speaking to the Hosts are beyond what anyone could imagine.

This is really one of those books where you should try and know so little about the plot as possible before reading. It’s pretty hard to talk about it without spoiling a lot of the fun. But despite it being pretty advanced, the story is straight enough, and just grows more and more suspenseful. The ending is just beautiful. Miéville revels in world building as usual, and the Hosts and their Language are just another wonderful creation by him. I love how he manages to create a life form that feels completely alien in the way it looks and reasons, without it becoming empty abstraction.

I have some minor complaints with this book though. The editing seems unusually sloppy for a Miéville book. There are quite a few annoying repetitions, presenting elements of world building again and again. And some sentences that need to be exact for plot reasons suddenly change their phrasing. But while mildly annoying, they cannot take away the originality and excitement of this book. Not one of my absolute favorites of Miéville’s, but absolutely among his better work. And that’s saying a lot. 4 stars!

19mathgirl40
Jul 22, 2012, 8:17pm Top

Great review of Embassytown! I too enjoyed the book and agree with much of your assessment. I also felt the same way about the editing and found the repetitions annoying. Because the "sloppiness" was rather surprising to me, I did wonder if the repetitions were intentional.

20cammykitty
Jul 22, 2012, 8:37pm Top

Anders, I just nipped over to your lt page. No wonder you needed a new house. ;) You need at least two book rooms with bright natural light, a comfortable chair and 500 books in each room. No wishlist for you! - I'm jealous actually. Embassytown sounds good.

21GingerbreadMan
Jul 23, 2012, 2:37am Top

>19 mathgirl40: Perhaps, but in that case I missed the point of them. And that Avice's direct connection to Language (being cryptic here to avoid a spoiler) changes phrasing towards the end is very strange, isn't it?

>20 cammykitty: :) I only list my books here on LT as I read them, so those 1000 are just the read ones... You're absolutely right about the light and comfy chair though! And having good space for books WAS oe of the reasons we moved to a house. We' re going to site-build a pretty hefty bookshelf along one of the walls in the living room - something like 8 meters by 2,50, and deep enough to manage double rows. Won't be until this autumn though - carpenters are busy. Pics will come, eventually!

22clfisha
Jul 23, 2012, 6:34am Top

Oh dear trying to remember the change in phrasing.. did I read closely enough or am I just forgetful :) Nice review btw.

23GingerbreadMan
Jul 23, 2012, 6:57am Top

**SPOILER ALERT**

>22 clfisha: Ah, it's minor, as I said. It's just that's it supposed to be an idiom, you know? That makes it strange that The girl who ate what was given to her is suddenly the girl that was hurt in darkness and ate what was given to her. Or so I thought :)

24AHS-Wolfy
Jul 23, 2012, 7:12am Top

I really do need to read more Miéville but fitting him into this challenge is not that easy.

25RidgewayGirl
Jul 23, 2012, 9:04am Top

I have a couple Mieville on my TBR, but have put them on my SO's TBR pile. He likes elaborate world building. I'll get them after he's read them.

As for the shelves -- when we moved into our house five years ago, there was a large built-in bookshelf in the living room. It was lovely to be able to shelve everything and have there be room for knick-knacks. Now, of course, it is full and two smaller bookshelves have been installed in the bedroom to catch the overflow. Still, an over abundance of books is no reason to complain. You'll be set for the upcoming zombie apocalypse.

26psutto
Edited: Jul 23, 2012, 11:59am Top

glad to see you enjoyed embassytown and agree with your excellent review

the city & the city is still my favourite since I knew nothing about it going in (deliberately am doing that with all Mieville)

Having finished moby dick I think its only a matter of time before I read railsea

**SPOILER ALERT**

I have vague memories that the change in phrasing was due to the plot and change in the hosts but may be remembering wrong

27-Eva-
Jul 23, 2012, 12:20pm Top

Great review for Embassytown! It's been a while since I read it too, but psutto's assessment is how I remember the reason for the change as well. Could it already be time for a reread!?

28LauraBrook
Jul 23, 2012, 4:52pm Top

Another excellent review, and yet another reminder to read Mieville one of these years. *sigh*

29cammykitty
Jul 23, 2012, 8:57pm Top

21 & 25 - and if instead of the zombie apocalypse, a brick eating, wall eating slime mold develops have no fear. Your books will replace the walls of your house and hold the roof over your head. You might have to be careful about what books you pull off the shelves though.

30lkernagh
Jul 24, 2012, 1:10am Top

Happy to have now caught up with you and your new thread.... and love the Embassytown review. I am in need of a Mieville fix, when... well, that is something that only time will tell. ;-)

31clfisha
Jul 24, 2012, 4:16am Top

23/26 etc.. Hmm I am now wondering if I invented a plot reason for the change (like you do if your deeply embed in the world) because I agree with Pete or Eva but I cannot remember why.. gah need to reread.

32bruce_krafft
Jul 25, 2012, 5:02am Top

Embasssytown is on my wish list. But I am going to be 'good' and leave it there until I make a dent in my TBR!

DS
(Bruce's evil twin :-))

33GingerbreadMan
Jul 27, 2012, 10:25am Top

>23 GingerbreadMan:,26,31: I suppose the rephrasing could be in relation to that the Hosts begin to see Avice as a fully sentient being (i.e "who was hurt" being the key), but at least i can't remember that being stated in the text.. Mind you, it could well just be sloppy reading on my part as well.

34GingerbreadMan
Jul 29, 2012, 5:50pm Top

Fully engrossed in Lonesome Dove now, and at 840+ pages, I expect to be for some time... Got a few average reads finished before that though:

44. Across Oka by Robert Holman
Category 7. Dress-up, 128 pages.

Many years ago, I was the Swedish representative at a summer residency for young writers at the Royal Court Theatre in London. Everybody there got a “writer’s writer”, a sort of buddy to talk to and learn more about British theatre. Most of us got writers more or less from our own generation, but I got paired with Robert Holman, a tiny, cig-smelling, foul-mouthed Yorkshire man my mom’s age. But Mr. Holman was actually very nice in a grumpy kind of way, and we had some good times. I bought some of his plays then. I’ve read and enjoyed most of them, but this one has lingered unread on my Drama shelf for close to ten years.

“Across Oka” is a typical Holman play, dealing with the tension between generations and classes within a family, in a subtle, almost gentle way. Here a teenage boy gets a chance to fulfill his grandpa’s dream – going to the Soviet Union. But he’s full of rage and tension (very very subtly hinted at throughout the play) and ends up taking his revenge in a completely misdirected manner, to his own horror.

This meticulous, acting-focused type of drama – very English - is not my cup of tea really. But Holman is very good at it, and has a flavor of his own: held back, simple and downplayed. As pure reading material, this floats my boat okay, but doesn’t make me do cartwheels. I’d like to see a play of his staged some day. 3 stars..

45. VLMF: vad lever man för by Barbro Lindgren
Category 9. Winding down, 135 pages.

So, Ellen, the senile toy elephant, finally dies in this the third and final book about Barnhans Land. Much to the suppressed joy of the other older animals, who of course enjoy a good, well planned funeral. But others miss her more than they expected. And when the grave (or, well, the hole) turns up empty one morning, more than one of them start to think about existence in a wider sense.

Apart from this, things are very much the same in Barnhans Land, despite a drumming tin duck joining the group. Pricknallen gets a doll, the uncle club have their boring meetings, the Bisam Rat thinks about Russia and tries to write poetry, and Nöken gets forgotten both here and there.

Really, it’s apparent the Ellen storyline is the main thing in this book. But since it’s so loose and small, there’s a lot of fluff in between. All of it charming and fun, but too much like what we’ve seen before. It’s courageous dealing with death in this way in a book for small children, and the cast is wonderful. I just find myself a little bored at times. Two books might have been enough. 3 stars.

35-Eva-
Jul 29, 2012, 7:11pm Top

"a tiny, cig-smelling, foul-mouthed Yorkshire man my mom’s age"
Sounds like a great character in a book! :)

I got a few chapters into Lonesome Dove when I was in Sweden, but it didn't get finished and the copy got left behind (the suitcases were filled to the brim) - maybe on next years trip. :)

36cammykitty
Jul 31, 2012, 1:45pm Top

Ahhhh - I remember you mentioning the elephant losing it's stuffing in earlier reviews. Sad to hear the series doesn't end strong.

37pammab
Jul 31, 2012, 11:59pm Top

Your review of Embassytown sounds great -- I'm going to add that to the list for my next Mieville.

38GingerbreadMan
Aug 2, 2012, 2:18am Top

The frustration of reading a page-turner with no time to turn pages. Jus sayin.

39clfisha
Aug 2, 2012, 4:45am Top

I think whilst reading Lonesome Dove I may have resorted to violence if someone had to tried to take my book away ;)

40psutto
Aug 2, 2012, 5:07am Top

I am reading fire season at the moment in which they name forest fires mostly after the places they start although there is some poetic license, I smiled at the fact that there are fires named "Lonesome" and "dove" in quick succession (yes its deliberate) so some Larry Mcmurtry fans in the US forest service :-)

41GingerbreadMan
Aug 20, 2012, 4:15pm Top

Not dead or anything. But have had a month filled with house-stuff, taking care of both kids by myself in the days, a deadline to be met in the tired ole evenings - and a new iphone to toy around with on top of that. Still have 300 pages to go in the rather fabulous Lonesome dove in what has been my slowest reading month in years. Might actually blow my chances of completing this year's challenge as we speak.

Deadline met, however, and oldest boy back in pre-school, means hopefully a bit more reading from now on. Miss all of you, and will catch up on threads shortly. For now, I'm snuggling up with my brick and a cup of coffee.

42-Eva-
Aug 21, 2012, 2:11pm Top

All legitimate excuses not to be on LT, I'm afraid. Family and real life work and a new techno-toy will win! :) Good to hear you're enjoying Lonesome Dove!

43psutto
Aug 21, 2012, 5:54pm Top

We can all thank/blame visible ghost for lonesome dove that's why Claire read it and then got me to read it. Really must try more McMurty...

Here's hoping you get more reading & LT time soon

44cammykitty
Aug 22, 2012, 10:36pm Top

Here's hoping your coffee is strong and warm. See you when life lets you.

45GingerbreadMan
Aug 28, 2012, 5:09pm Top

Thursday is the deadline for the final version of my latest play. Every night after the kids fall asleep, I have to work for a few hours, and then I practically fall asleep while brushing my teeth at one in the morning. I have been reading bits and pieces in the daytime, though - mostly while exploring our new home town, sitting down on some bench when little Minna falls asleep. And FINALLY:

46. Lonesome dove by Larry McMurtry
Category 1. Cowboys and indians, 843 pages. Category completed!

McGrae and Call are retired Texas Rangers, now owning a small cattle outfit in Lonesome Dove, close to the Mexican border. Cattle is stolen back and forth across Rio Grande, but otherwise life is slow. The duo has a strange dynamic. McGrae is full of talk, laziness and mischief, loves booze and women and has a hard time taking things seriously. Call, on the other hand, is all about work and duty – a man completely void of humour and imagination. It’s safe to say they get on each other’s nerves, and the quiet life together isn’t really suiting any of them. So when their old partner Jake Spoon suddenly returns, due to a misunderstanding with the law in Arkansas, and tells of the magnificent pastures in untouched Montana, it’s more boredom than the wish to get rich that causes Call to start planning for driving a herd of cattle up there. Before anyone really understands how, the drive is a reality, and it’s a journey that will change a lot of lives forever. Not least that of Lorena, the only prostitute in Lonesome Dove, a life-weary young girl who is swept away by Jake Spoon’s light promises to take her to the coast. But who instead finds both horror, loyalty and perhaps even love.

The blurb on the back of this book calls it an account of “the west as it truly was”. I have my doubts. There are a few too many tropes here – beautiful whores, a freaky piano player, a Mexican cook, star eyed youngsters, stoic Indians, über evil outlaws and manly banter between clenched teeth. But as a tall tale which still feels genuine, grounded and authentic, it doesn’t get better than this.

McMurtry juggles a large cast of wonderfully flawed characters, shifting perspectives effortlessly. You come to know and care for them all, even when they are bastards – and there are truly some bastards in here. It came close to annoy me at times that virtually all females in this book are relying on men, depending on looks and sexuality to get by. But McMurtry goes beyond the hooker and victim clichés and finds people, and the female characters – Lorena, Clara, Janey, Elmira – are among the most memorable of the bunch.

Forget about any aversion you might feel about the western as a genre. Oh sure, this long drive all across the young nation is an adventure, of course. There’s tons of bad weather, gunfights, indian conflict (, grizzly bears and rattle snakes. But the real suspense and excitement here are in the small dramas of real people: love, secrets, betrayal, guilt, prejudice, longing and heart-break. Expect nailbiting tension, tears and sleepless nights. Don’t miss this epic for anything. 5 stars!

46GingerbreadMan
Aug 28, 2012, 5:10pm Top

Will read some very slim books now, hoping to catch up a little bit for this last painstakingly slow month.

47RidgewayGirl
Aug 28, 2012, 6:13pm Top

Excellent review of Lonesome Dove! I'm going to have to read that soon!

48bruce_krafft
Aug 28, 2012, 7:14pm Top

Where has August gone? I can't beleive that it is almost over!

DS
(Bruce's evil twin :-))

49SouthernKiwi
Aug 28, 2012, 9:20pm Top

Great reveiw of Lonesome Dove!

50cammykitty
Aug 29, 2012, 12:02am Top

Yes, great review.

51-Eva-
Aug 29, 2012, 1:51am Top

Congrats on finishing Lonesome Dove! *Thumbing*

52psutto
Edited: Aug 29, 2012, 4:15am Top

great review - glad you liked it! still yet to try another McMurty - probably going to go for the last picture show

53clfisha
Aug 29, 2012, 4:33am Top

Yeay another fan of Lonesome Dove, I almost feel a tear coming thinking about the damn thing! :)

Re female characters: I think in my heart I was expecting it to be wall to wall male characters and rampant misogyny because.. you know.. its a western. So the fact there are actually female ones and they break stereotypes took any edge off, although Clara helped balance things I think.

54GingerbreadMan
Aug 29, 2012, 7:02am Top

>52 psutto:+53 Really, this is one of those books I never would've picked up if it wasn't for you guys and VisibleGhost. A big thank you for bringing it to my attention!

55lkernagh
Aug 29, 2012, 9:21pm Top

Great review of Lonesome Dove Anders..... Thumb! I tend to avoid westerns or anything that has a whiff of being a western but I have to say a book full of characters - yes, your mention of a freaky piano player caught my eye, along with über evil outlaws and some reference to characters and being bastards - has some appeal to it.

Will need to ponder this potential book bullet some more......

56GingerbreadMan
Edited: Aug 30, 2012, 9:45am Top

>55 lkernagh: I'm no western fan either. I'd never had found this one on my own accord. So glad I did!

47. The unwritten 3: Dead Man's Knock by Mike Carey and Peter Gross
Category 11. Coloring book, 144 pages.

Again, it’s pretty hard to describe a series mainly dealing with how stories rule and manipulate the world, without spoiling the stories themselves. But Carey keeps a steady ship in this the third volume. The frame itself is not unique – our heroes are on the run from a hugely powerful hidden organization, trying to save the world while still trying to understand how the world is *really* constructed. Carey seems to be using a zillion urban fantasy tropes, more often than not consciously (I think). But the world building itself, with an endless guerilla war fought in mankind’s stories, is fresh and well developed. Love the Cabal’s intelligence office, full of thousands of people reading novels. Love Tom’s realization that what he really is is probably a weapon. Love the crappy excerpts from the fake fourteenth Tommy Taylor book.

Still, I’m rating this volume slightly lower than the previous two mainly for two reasons. The “pick-a-story” gimmick for Lizzie Hexam’s back story could have been great, but isn’t, really. There are literally only about three choices to be made by the reader and they end up following the same story line anyway. For about nine tenth of it you’re just reading a straight story with the pages out of order. Annoying. Also, Peter Gross’ artwork isn’t quite doing it for me. The frames often just seem a little empty. I would have liked a little more detail, I guess.

That being said, I can’t wait to see where this is going. No question about it, this is a series I’ll eagerly follow to the end. 3 ½ stars.

57clfisha
Edited: Aug 30, 2012, 11:17am Top

Your making me want to go back and have a look at the art.. but then I will start reading the damn thing.. Good review again and nice to see you still enjoy the series. Volume 6 is out in October.. cant wait :)

58avatiakh
Aug 30, 2012, 3:47pm Top

Great review of Lonesome Dove. So now I have two westerns on my tbr list, the other being Riders of the Purple Sage. Not enough to consider a Western category in 2013.
Adding The Unwritten to my list of GNs to read, I think I looked at this series when you read book 1 or 2.

59AHS-Wolfy
Aug 30, 2012, 5:14pm Top

The Unwritten series is still on my wishlist. One of these days...

60lkernagh
Aug 30, 2012, 9:55pm Top

... and Mike Carey's the Unwritten series has now been added to my GN category for 2013, as happily, my library has volumes 1, 2 and 3! ;-)

61cammykitty
Aug 30, 2012, 10:25pm Top

Yes, the Unwritten sounds like a fun series. I'm surprised I haven't heard of it before because it sounds like just the perfect thing for book nerds, and book nerds are my peeps. ;)

62DeltaQueen50
Aug 31, 2012, 10:23am Top

A big Thumbs Up for your review of Lonesome Dove. This is one of my top five reads of all time and you certainly did it justice.

63psutto
Aug 31, 2012, 11:15am Top

looks like its a hot review too - congrats :-)

64-Eva-
Edited: Sep 1, 2012, 5:56pm Top

Luckily for me, Unwritten is already on the wishlist.... :)

ETA: Congrats on hot review from me too!

65mathgirl40
Sep 3, 2012, 10:29am Top

Thanks for the great review of Lonesome Dove. Count me among those who need to reevaluate my views on westerns. I normally avoid them, but I did enjoy The Sisters Brothers, though I'm not sure that "counts".

66GingerbreadMan
Sep 4, 2012, 10:51am Top

>57 clfisha: Felt kind of cheap with thw review, actually. But the pick-a-story gimmick was truly worth a better execution, IMO.
>58 avatiakh: Adding Riders of purple sage to my very short list of potential westerns :)
>59 AHS-Wolfy:-61 Hope you enjoy it! I'd say your average LT:er is very much in the potential target group for this series!
>62 DeltaQueen50:-64 Thanks for the thumbs! I love it when I manage to write something that makes it to the hot review column.
>65 mathgirl40: I've had my eye on that one too (not least the gorgeous cover!), but have read very mixed reviews.

67GingerbreadMan
Sep 4, 2012, 10:55am Top

Wrapped up another category last friday (thus bringing my reading total for august up to a whooping three...):

48. Går vidare i världen by Leif Holmstrand
Category 4. Clapping games, 111 pages. Category completed!

Me and Leif met in Åmål, the small town where I grew up, about twenty years ago. He was from an even smaller place, but had gone to my high school a few years earlier. Now he was back to hold a small lecture on dada poetry at the culture club. I thought he was amazing. He happened to have with him a copy of a fanzine I was co-writing, and so we started talking. I was sixteen, he was nineteen. We both had sturm und drang ambitions to dedicate our lives to writing, and Leif introduced me to tons of cool music and literature over the next years. He was also my first openly gay friend. I thought he was a genius. Still do.

Now Leif is one of Sweden’s most renowned poets and artists, and I am an established playwright. We’re still good friends, even if we meet seldom, living in different parts of Sweden. Therefore, it’s slightly shameful that this is the first time I read his second collection of poetry, published six years ago, from cover to cover.

It’s hard to describe what’s going on here. Holmstrand writes a gliding, often creepy poetry, invoking dreamlike, strange images. Still, for being so literary and “difficult”, I must say his work is very accessible, usually somehow feeling like it “makes sense”. My favorite poems here are describing borderline of psychosis in chilling detail. But there are also cut-up and funny pictures from a fractured childhood, an unusual love story with twins, and a fascinating section where Holmstrand uses “Fairytales as camouflage” , trying on different personas: a whale, an old couple, a middle-aged family man. A worthy wrapping up of my poetry category, this. 4 stars!

68cammykitty
Sep 10, 2012, 3:53am Top

Sounds like an interesting collection!

69GingerbreadMan
Edited: Sep 13, 2012, 5:52pm Top

49. Our tragic universe by Scarlett Thomas
Category 12. King of the hill, 428 pages.

Meg can’t ever seem to get anywhere with her Serious Novel. In the meantime, she’s writing and teaching formulaic genre fiction and writing biting reviews on New Age self-help books. She lives with Christopher, an environmental moralist of the lazy kind, and her beloved dog B – but has secret fantasies about a much older man she’s met at the library. Things aren’t miserable, but not exactly great either. Until she manages to review the wrong book, a book prompting her in new directions that might just make sense of her life. Maybe there is a story there after all – a heroic one at that. And meanwhile, reports of a strange Dartmoor Beast start filling the local papers.

Really, at least as much as this is a novel, it’s a sort of discussion about the essence of a story. The idea of a storyless story, working along completely other principles than causality and getting from A to B, is at the core of this book – and the book itself seems to be an attempt at writing such a story. The approach is almost pataphysical (although much more mundane). Here there is no simple cause and effect. Things don’t happen because – they just happen. Meg finds a famous ship in a bottle on a beach – but it has no significance beyond itself. Loads of things are left hanging, quite deliberately.

Unfortunately, the book fails to do more to me than gently tickle my interest in its meta level. I’m not really that interested in any of the characters, and the everyday romantic twists leave me pretty cold. Also, Thomas has a way of flaunting her research that annoys me. It’s the kind of book where a character’s knitting, or Tarot, or the death of a star, is suddenly described in extreme detail for a few pages, seemingly to show Thomas knows her stuff. To me, it comes across un-organic and clumsy. Still, there are quite a few things I like about this book – the little stories popping up here and there not least. And as a literary experiment, it’s pretty bold in it’s own low key way. Too bad the result isn’t quite as interesting as the premise. YMMV. 2 ½ stars.

50. Ja till Liv by Liv Strömqvist
Category 11. Coloring book, 140 pages.

The latest book by Sweden’s perhaps sharpest feminist pen is a rather loose collection of comics, organized as an ABC book. It’s not the total grip on a subject that “Prins Charles känsla” was, more a little bit of everything this time. As usual, Strömqvist can be rather brutal and categorical in her approach. But this also leads to some pretty drastic fun –and she’s seldom been as funny and vicious as here. And more often than not, she finds new and surprising angles on subjects. Among many favorites here are the “Man-whore of the month” series, Girls’ night out in the third reich, the great little comic showing photos of royalty visiting the zoo but with reversed subtitles, and the brilliant bit where Tolkien’s editor tries to get him to introduce some female characters. Very often laugh out loud-funny – but you probably need to be both a lefty and a tad cynical to fully appreciate it. 4 stars.

70cammykitty
Sep 13, 2012, 9:13pm Top

Yes, a book to avoid!!! My toppling pile of books thanks you for the review on Our Tragic Universe.

71psutto
Edited: Sep 14, 2012, 5:36am Top

I didn't totally enjoy the end of Mr. Y (it is worse in my memory than my rating leads you to believe!) so am glad to avoid Thomas from now on!

72-Eva-
Sep 17, 2012, 12:00am Top

I have both The End of Mr. Y and PopCo on Mt. TBR - I do hope they're better than that. Non-captivating characters are not a favorite of mine.

I've read another of Strömqvist's books and was very underwhelmed. Being, however, definitely "both a lefty and a tad cynical," I'll might give this one a shot next time I'm in Sweden.

73GingerbreadMan
Sep 20, 2012, 4:52am Top

>72 -Eva-: I'd give Ja till Liv! a miss, Eva. I remember your review of Prins Charles känsla and I think you'll dislike this book for the same reasons.

This is kind of what we've dreaded ever since we had kids, people. The whole family are having a stomach flu at the same time, all four of us down and out. Me and Flea are literally crawling on the floor trying to get the kids what they need. Yesterday was the worst. We were like a sad tag team, one of us clinging to the toilet bowl while the other tried to get the kids ready for night - and then we switched. Today everybody has kept their breakfast, and the kids are much better. But Flea and me are still pretty under the weather. Really, at times like this I wish we had our families a little bit closer...

Before the vomit commenced yesterday, I finished a book though:

51. Himmelsdalen by Marie Hermanson
Category 8. Tag! You're it!, 388 pages. Category completed!

Despite being identical twins, Max and Daniel aren’t very close. Max’ bipolarity has made it difficult for Daniel to rely on him. But when Max writes Daniel to ask him to come and visit him in an exclusive resthome in the Swiss alps, it sounds urgent enough for Daniel to go. Himmelstal turns out to be a beautiful, isolated valley, where the rich and discreet can occasionally patch up their stressed out psyches. However, it’s not cheap, and Max asks Daniel for a favour: to take his place for just a few days while Max gets money for the very steep hospital bill. Daniel reluctantly accepts. But Max doesn’t return, and it soon becomes evident there are a few things about Himmelstal he neglected to tell his brother about.

Marie Hermanson has written two brilliant novels (Musselstranden and Mannen under trappan), and about a handful books that aren’t nowhere near as good. So I always pick up her books hoping for greatness, but am often a little disappointed. The setup here is great, I think, and the first half of the book, where Daniel is trying to pass as his twin, while discovering things are not as they seem, is nailbitingly thrilling. But when bringing it home, Hermanson over-explains things and becomes a little predictable. Still, I hope this book gets translated into English. The idea is really cool, the characters are interesting, and lovers of for instance Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island will find a lot to like here. 3 ½ stars.

74clfisha
Sep 20, 2012, 5:59am Top

Hmm now I want to read Musselstranden and Mannen under trappan.. it does look like Himmelsdalen is being published in English as The Devil's Sanctuary next year though

75psutto
Sep 20, 2012, 7:30am Top

Hope your fully well soon!

76lkernagh
Sep 20, 2012, 10:57am Top

Sorry to learn everyone has been hit with the flu bug! Hope you all are better soon, and it sounds as though the little ones are well on their way to recovery. ;-)

77-Eva-
Sep 20, 2012, 1:31pm Top

What a miserable time. Good to hear your on bättringsvägen! :)

Thanks for letting me know - crossing Ja till Liv! off the list!

78hailelib
Sep 20, 2012, 2:05pm Top

Tomorrow should be better since those sorts of "bugs" generally don't last long. But one is miserable for a while.

79pammab
Sep 20, 2012, 11:10pm Top

Argh, I'm sorry to hear your whole family is ill. I've also been terrified of that ever since I read one of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books in which the whole family came down with malaria(?) at once -- people could barely care for themselves, much less others. Sounds extremely stressful to top off being extremely ill, and I wish you all a quick recovery!

80DeltaQueen50
Sep 21, 2012, 4:26pm Top

Sorry to hear that your family is feeling under the weather, Anders. Will cross my fingers for a speedy recovery.

81andreablythe
Sep 21, 2012, 4:57pm Top

Yikes! Somehow I didn't see the 3rd thread appear.

....

HI!

82GingerbreadMan
Sep 23, 2012, 5:16pm Top

>74 clfisha: I think Mannen under trappan ("The man under the stairs") especially would be your cuppa. Keep your eyes open!

>75 psutto:-80 Not completely there yet, but at least up,walking, and getting out of the house. Poor Flea has got an eye infection (of the red, swollen kind that makes you slighlty uneasy in public, as the husband walking next to her) The kids are fully recovered by now, and as full of spunk and energy as ever...

>77 -Eva-: Probably a good move. You're bound to find it on a coffeetable somewhere sometime, and can sample it then.

>81 andreablythe: HI THERE! Glad you found your way back :)

83-Eva-
Sep 24, 2012, 5:51pm Top

Poor Flea! Yes, poor you as well, but mainly poor Flea! :)

It's like that old Loaded Question fallacy example: "Have you stopped beating your wife?" :)

84GingerbreadMan
Edited: Sep 26, 2012, 5:06pm Top

Right-o. Sick again. Sore throat, running a fever, coughing. This is the third round, for those of you keeping count.

In more happy news: Today is Minna's first birthday. Can't believe it's a year since I held her in my arms for the first time. I have no words.

And yesterday was the first day of rehearsals for my version of Peter Pan and Wendy at Stockholm Stadsteater. Which meant an outing to the big city for me - almost my first since we moved. I went to the rehearsal of course, saw a play in the evening and had a meeting after that. But I also managed a trip to the (as usual excellent) Science Fiction-bokhandeln, where I picked up both Valente's Orphan's tale books, Goliath and Karin Tidbeck's first novel, Amatka, which is a dystopia with a neat concept. Thank you again, Claire, for bringing her to my attention! Sooo, next year's challenge is looking better and better! (While my TBR is looking worse and worse, but that's another story).

85GingerbreadMan
Sep 26, 2012, 5:23pm Top

52. Dexter in the dark by Jeff Lindsay
Category 5. Connect the dots, 376 pages.

Well, I was warned. Lots of LT:ers told me this the third book about Miami’s most loveable serial killer was a lot weaker. And by Moloch, it is.

Arriving at a gruesome double murder crime scene, Dexter finds that his Dark Passenger retracts, goes silent. No matter how Dexter tries, his inner shadow seems gone forever. But why? What’s so scary about ceramic bull heads to make the Passenger leave him alone – forcing him to explore the scary concept of potential normality?

A lot of Dexter fans seem to have a beef with the fact that the Dark Passenger goes away per se. I don’t. I do have a beef with the fact that Lindsey does a half-assed attempt at changing genres to…well, urban fantasy, I guess, and doesn’t even seem to believe it himself. Thus the plot here is strained and messy, and what we mostly get are endless repetitions of a few patterns: Dexter in traffic (if I have to read one more account of the chaotic Miami rush-hour I’ll scream). Dexter in family life, wrestling with the fact that this might be it for him from now on. Dexter gets picked up or yelled at over the phone by his sister to get his ass over to a new crime scene. Dexter explains (again, and again) to the reader that the Dark Passenger is no more and the distress this causes. Dexter in traffic. And so on.

Not even the side story of Dexter raising Rita’s kids that seemed so promising in the last book is very interesting – but instead consists of yet another set of repetitions. By the time the book comes to it’s climax, it seems to me that Lindsey is just sick of the whole thing and wants to wrap it up and have a taco. The last twenty pages here are some of the most sloppy writing I’ve seen in a long time.

Mildly funny in places (love looming Doakes), but mostly underwhelming. We have (as the last people on earth) finally begun watching the TV series on DVD, and for the time being I vastly prefer that. 2 stars.

53. Ankomsten (The Arrival) by Shaun Tan
Category 11. Coloring book. Category completed!

A man leaves his sinister home to try and find a better future for himself and his family. He arrives in a strange city in a strange land, where everything is completely different than he’s used to: architecture, letters, numbers, animals, food, even means of transportation. There he tries to create a new life.

Really, there isn’t that much to say about this dreamlike and utterly gorgeous wordless graphic novel about leaving home and finding a new one. You need to see Shaun Tan’s wonderfully strange landscapes, achingly human details and gentle storytelling for yourself in order to get it. And make sure you do. The word “masterpiece” is seldom this appropriate. 5 stars!

86GingerbreadMan
Sep 26, 2012, 5:27pm Top

Still have some hope of making this year's challenge. I have now definitely decided to expand the "Winding down" category to also include more graphic novels...

87andreablythe
Sep 26, 2012, 5:31pm Top

Boo! To being sick! Hope you feel better soon.

I had no idea Dexter was a book series. Sounds like I should check out, well, at least the first two.

88GingerbreadMan
Sep 26, 2012, 5:47pm Top

>87 andreablythe: The people in the know tell me after the first two books, every other book is good, with weak books in between. I think there are six books so far.

89cammykitty
Sep 26, 2012, 6:49pm Top

Congrats on Minna's birthday! I'm wishing health your way, and also very jealous of your trip to the city/bookstore.

90AHS-Wolfy
Sep 26, 2012, 8:07pm Top

Feel better soon! Happy birthday Minna!

The 4th book in the Dexter series returns to more of how the first two were. I haven't progressed any further with it myself as yet but I'm still willing to go for the next one at some point down the line.

91lkernagh
Sep 27, 2012, 1:04am Top

Good grief.... third time sick?!?! Poor you!

Happy birthday Minna!

Okay, I have managed to dodge the book bullet for The Arrival for the longest time here on LT. I am now going to cave, but mainly because I just realized I can added it to my challenge for next year!

92SouthernKiwi
Sep 27, 2012, 2:25am Top

Happy birthday to Minna! and I hope you're feeling better sometime soon Anders

93psutto
Sep 27, 2012, 7:18am Top

ditto to birthday and get well wishes!

the arrival made me a fan of the talented Mr. Tan glad you enjoyed it

I have enjoyed the Dexter TV series, well some of the seasons the one with the "English" woman (The actress is actually English but manages to have such a bizarre faux-posh English accent I thought she was an American trying to do an English accent!) in was a bit weak and the last season (6? I think there's a 7 out now in the States?) was just awful but I never tried the books, Claire read the first one and was underwhelmed iirc...

94GingerbreadMan
Sep 27, 2012, 11:51am Top

Thanks for all the congrats and well-wishes!

>91 lkernagh: You'll read through it in the best one and half hours you've spent in a long time.
>93 psutto: I was...well, whelmed, I suppose, by the first two books. Fun reads with a bunch of flaws. We're only at season one for the TV sereis, and it feels very good so far.

54. Screwtop Thompson by Magnus Mills
Category 12. King of the hill, 116 pages.

A man visits his mother, who is holding out in a house besieged by the police. A neighbor goes to help cut down some tree branches that are obscuring mister Wee’s view. An arrestant faces an understaffed “good cop/bad cop" routine. A hitch-hiker sits between two lorry drivers trying to have a conversation with a hailstorm thundering on the roof. And a guest at a rural guesthouse finds he’s breaking an infinite number of unwritten rules.

Magnus Mills is a master of the understatedly absurd, and these simple little tales show a reality that is just ever so slightly distorted. If he was American, I guess he would be labeled “slipstream”. It’s a quick and enjoyable read (as usual with Mills, I read it perhaps too quickly), with neat twists to each story, often on a very small scale. But the thing that makes Mills excellent in my book is the ambience of quiet, eerie menace that’s usually there in his work, creating a kind of mildly dark resonance. That illusive something is missing from several of the stories here, making them feel just a little flat. The ones that do have it are the best ones by far, my favorite probably being the last mentioned “Hark the herald”.

Absolutely worth reading for fans of Mills, but this is not where I recommend you’d start. 3 ½ stars.

55. Numret 73304-23-4153-6-96-8 by Thomas Ott
Category 9. Winding down, 142 pages.

After an electrocution a slip of paper with a long number sequence is found on the floor. The executioner brings it home with him, and soon starts to see those numbers everywhere. The number sequence sets his life in completely new directions – wonderful at first, then more and more sinister.

Another wordless graphic novel, and an enjoyable one – if not up par with the total excellence of Shaun Tan’s book. Ott’s story is simple, yet chillingly strange and is told effectively is a crisp, realist style. I’d be happy to read more from this Swiss artist. 3 ½ stars.

95-Eva-
Sep 27, 2012, 12:33pm Top

Huge congratulations to Minna!! How has it already been a whole year!? :) With Dexter in the Dark, you've definitely passed the absolute low mark of the series, so that's a good thing. :)

->93 psutto:
The one that plays Lila? She's actually English? LOL - I absolutely thought she was American doing a rubbish British dialect! Too funny!

96psutto
Sep 27, 2012, 1:14pm Top

Yep Lila, I didn't realise she was English until after the series had ended!

I wondered if Mills would work in short story format and am now adding it to the WL

97dudes22
Edited: Sep 27, 2012, 7:26pm Top

I can't believe it's been a year since you told us Minna had arrived. Seems like just a few months. I must be getting older when time flies by. Happy birthday to your sweet little girl!

And hope you feel better soon.

98mathgirl40
Sep 27, 2012, 8:16pm Top

First birthdays are special! Congratulations to Minna. Also, Shaun Tan sounds like an author I really need to check out.

99cammykitty
Sep 27, 2012, 11:19pm Top

"Quiet, eerie menace" I'll have to keep my eyes open for Magnus Mills. Where would you recommend I start?

100psutto
Sep 28, 2012, 8:13am Top

I'd recommend restraint of beasts as a good starting place although my favourite of his is explorers of the new century

101clfisha
Sep 28, 2012, 8:45am Top

Catching up.. Congrats to Minna, commiserations on being ill again and good luck with the rehersals!

Have you tried Tales from outer suburbia by Shaun Tan? It's the kind of book I want to thrust into kids (& their parents) hands :)

Looking forward to seeing what you think of Tidbeck, I might weaken and the ebook when it comes out!

102hailelib
Sep 28, 2012, 10:14am Top

Maybe this last round of illness really will be the last for a while!

That first birthday is special, isn't it?

You've been reading some interesting sounding stories. I was intrigued by the description of the Ott book.

103cammykitty
Sep 30, 2012, 12:23am Top

Restraint of Beasts it is! Hopefully I can get to it sometime this decade. :)

104GingerbreadMan
Oct 8, 2012, 5:33pm Top

>103 cammykitty: A good choice. My favorites are All quiet on the orient express and Three to see the king, which could also serve as good starting points. Mills is fantastic, so you're in for a treat :)

RIGHT! I've been absent from LT a week again, but have by no means been absent from books. Our beautiful, roomy, sturdy, tall and wide site-built bookshelf is now finally in place, and the process of sorting, choosing, discarding and organizing has been filling our evenings the last week. Yesterday we got the last books in there, and the result is everything we hoped for. Really, this is a dream we've had together since we first moved in together sixteen years ago. Extremely cool to finally have had it happen. There are some picures at my profile page, if you're interested!

105GingerbreadMan
Edited: Oct 8, 2012, 6:20pm Top

In other news: sickness prevails! It's utterly unbelievable, but it seems that the massive cold/eye infection/stomach flu/eye infection/massive cold is now, after a recess, taking it to the next level: we are fairly certain Minna is coming down with chicken pox! So I'm bracing myself for another two weeks of having both kids at home all day. Arghh.

I finished two books today, and hope I'll have the energy to review them before I stumble into bed, but first it's high time for

Third quarter summary

It's fairly obvious I'm reading less now. Taking care of two kids in the day is leaving much less time than I perhaps naively hoped for. Minna isn't big on sleeping in the daytime either, so the glimpses of reading time I get are mostly while walking Minna in the morning (usually I read a paperback with one hand while rolling the pram with the other...) in my dead tired evenings - and on the loo. I've also had some deadlines, and now the late evenings are really all I have to get work done. August was my slowest reading month in years - only partly due to the fact that Lonesome dove is a real brick. The fact that I still manage sixteen books this quarter has a lot to do with easier categories like Graphic novels - which also shows in the page count. 23 books for the third quarter is pretty steep. I'm by no means certain I'll pull this year's challenge off. But I'll try, all the way to midnight on New Year's Eve.

Books read this quarter: 16 (55 total)
Pages read this quarter: 3650 (14267 total)
Average rating this quarter: 3,7186

Reading this quater by category:
Cowboys and indians: 1/1 - category completed.
Chinese Whispers: 1/2 (1/2 total)
Peek-a-boo!: 1/3 (2/3 total)
Clapping games: 1/4 (4/4 total - category completed)
Connect the dots: 1/5 (4/5 total)
Blind Man's Buff: 0/6 (4/6 total)
Dress-up: 1/7 (4/7 total)
Tag! You're it!: 2/8 (8/8 total - category completed)
Winding down: 3/9 (5/9 total)
Sandbox: 0/10 (4/10 total)
Coloring book: 3/11 (11/11 total - category completed)
King of the hill: 2/12 (7/12 total)

Best reads of the year so far:
The top strata of this year includes some truly great reads. Atlas of remote islands still lingers in me, with it's stunning visuals and slim stories of humanity. Pretty monsters was a wondefully creepy collection of odd stories, that still give me goos bumps thinking of them. Lonesome dove was a true epic, full of great characters and real life. The arrival, another gorgeous book, seemingly effortlessly capturing the experience of the immigrant in a surreal form. Cloud Atlas wasn't just one great story, but seven of them, a rich, strange, tapestry. And The haunting of Hill house is just the best ghost story I've ever read.

Worst reads of the year so far:
Vellum, strained cleverer than thou fantasy that seemed neverending. Dexter in the dark, one of the dumbest attempts at changing genres i've seen in a long time. Stunder av verklighet was a much too tear-eyed and preachy book by a guy who can't write. Familjelycka was too thin a play to engage. And Our tragis universe was living proof an interesting premise isn't enough.

106GingerbreadMan
Edited: Oct 8, 2012, 6:58pm Top

56. Metro 2034 by Dmitrij Gluchovskij
Category 10. Sandbox, 399 pages.

Gluchovskij’s Metro books are set in the Moscow underground after a nuclear war has made the surface uninhabitable. The stations and lines now form city states and alliances, where the remaining humans struggle against darkness, cold, radiation and mutants, trying to uphold civilization. As post-apocalyptic worlds go, it doesn’t get much bleaker than this. But it’s also a deeply fascinating place to visit, full of detail and atmosphere.

Metro 2034 follows after the tragic mistake at the end of the first book, but is set on the other side of the Metro grid. The Sevastopolskaja station is the southernmost outpost of civilization, protecting the tunnels from the hordes of mutants attacking from the south, as well as providing a lot of the metro with electricity thanks to access to running water. It’s an important place, but isolated. So when caravans sent north to trade don’t return, and telephone communications with the Hansa go silent, it’s evident it must be investigated. The mysterious outsider Hunter is sent to find out what’s happened, and is followed by Homeros, an old soldier with the determination to write a new heroic tale – a story grand enough for the metro to gather round and unify over.

One of the main weaknesses of Metro 2033 was it’s complete lack of female characters. Now Gluchovskij’s mum must have slapped him over the head or something, for we are all of a sudden also treated to a complex and interesting female lead. Hunter and Homeros find Sasja in a station where she has been exiled with her now dead father. She follows them along, eager to explore more of the Metro, but also because she feels a strange bond to the cold and disfigured Hunter. Sasja is the book’s emotional centre, and even if she isn’t completely free from a virgin cliché, she is a great character in her mixture of toughness and naivity.

Really, this is a superior book to Metro 2033 in almost all aspects. I has a tighter plot with an interesting moral philosophy discussion at the core, more rounded characters. But to me, it still doesn’t quite live up to the overflow of wild world building in the first book – even if it comes close. I’m really looking forward to the third book of this trilogy, with it’s promised theme of grace and redemption. 4 stars.

57. Mina vackra ögon by Nina Hemmingsson
Category 9. Winding down, 143 pages.

Nina Hemmingsson draws grotesque versions of the everyday, populated with empty eyed heroines who seem to have no idea of how sharp, smart and vicious they are. It’s like they are just clumsily trying to navigate the sick landscape of gender, sexuality, patriarchy and capitalism and fail miserably. The result is often very funny. Here especially the section about the crown princess and her fiancée is brilliant – and it’s interesting to note how a subtle shift in meaning happens when those foul, egomaniac things are uttered by a person in a power position. A pretty unnecessary section with doodles in the middle of the book brings the rating down a little. 3 ½ stars.

107cbl_tn
Oct 8, 2012, 7:33pm Top

Yay for the custom bookcase! I'm so sorry to hear about the lingering illnesses in your household. I hope that the chicken pox turns out to be a mild case. Although too mild, so she doesn't have to repeat the experience. My brother had chicken pox at least 3 times. The first two times he only had a few blisters and it wasn't enough for him to develop an immunity to prevent him from getting it again.

108avatiakh
Oct 8, 2012, 7:40pm Top

Love your new bookshelves and I can imagine that you really had fun sorting your books. Sorry to hear about all the illness at your place.

109lkernagh
Oct 8, 2012, 9:39pm Top

A huge WOW for the bookcase pics..... those are AWESOME! I am sooooo jealous!!!!!

Oooohh.... chicken pox. Poor Minna and poor you guys. I hope this is the end of the illnesses.

Now Gluchovskij’s mum must have slapped him over the head or something, for we are all of a sudden also treated to a complex and interesting female lead.

LOL! But seriously, if I am interested in reading Metro 2034, do I need to read Metro 2033 or is it safe to bypass the first book and only be slightly confused while reading the second one? Just askin'.

110clfisha
Edited: Oct 9, 2012, 4:38am Top

Sorry to hear the illness continues but oh wow love the new bookshelves!

Great review of Metro 2034, adding onto the wishlist right now. I cannot wait to see how he has grown as an author and an actual female character woo hoo :)

111psutto
Oct 9, 2012, 5:02am Top

love the bookshelves! sorry to hear that illness prevails :-(

must get round to reading metro 2033....

112GingerbreadMan
Oct 9, 2012, 5:49am Top

Thanks for all the love showered over our new bookshelf. We loooove it.

Minna has chicken pox alright. But seems pretty unfazed about it. I guess they don't itch too much, yet at least.

>109 lkernagh: I think you could go straight for Metro 2034, if you want to. There's a bit more world building in the first book, but on the other hand a thinner quest and NO women. So it depends on what you like...

>110 clfisha: I think it's worth giving a go, Claire. A fair bit of the stuff that annoyed you about the first book is better here. Less meandering, less boyscouts.

113GingerbreadMan
Oct 9, 2012, 5:56am Top

I'm planning on setting up my 2013 thread pretty soon - now that I can see what books I actually own again :) I'll do a blindfold category next year too. It's such a fun way to open some new paths for my reading, and getting a few unexpected books off the TBR. I plan on reading five books per category next year.

Most of you remember how this works. But here's the recap:

I've numbered our bookshelves from 1 to 41. Each shelf holds about 45 books on average. I ask five of my LT friends to name a shelf between 1 and 41, and a book between 1 and 45 (if there are less books on that particular shelf, I'll keep counting onto next shelf). And that's a book I'll read next year!

I'll make the following exceptions:
If the book is in a series and I haven't read the book previous to it - in which case I'll swap it for the first book in that series I haven't read.
If I've already read the book, and don't want to re-read it now. Or ever, for that matter. In which case I'll ask for a new bid from you guys.
If it's one of the books I already have listed for my 12 in 12. In which case I'll hopefully have read it before 2013, and ask for a new bid.

Who wants to play?

114psutto
Oct 9, 2012, 5:58am Top

go on then! I'll choose 13 & 13 ;-)

115GingerbreadMan
Oct 9, 2012, 6:19am Top

Thanks Pete. Shelf 13 is general fiction, and you managed to pick an unread book by one of my favorites, Bära mistel by Sara Lidman. An excellent choice, I'm really looking forward to that one!

116clfisha
Oct 9, 2012, 6:32am Top

Ok I will bite.. Can I have Shelf 41 and the last book on that shelf?

117GingerbreadMan
Oct 9, 2012, 6:37am Top

Shelf 41 is the residue shelf in the bedroom - currently our only shelf outside of the new case! It consists of paperbacks in odd sizes, usually a few millimeters too high to fit in the snug shelves over the windows. It's still unsorted, consisting of stacks. Last book on the shelf is Kate Atkinson's Human croquet. Which I've read, and am not up to reread just yet. Give me another, please!

118RidgewayGirl
Oct 9, 2012, 7:21am Top

Gorgeous bookcases.

119clfisha
Oct 9, 2012, 8:06am Top

Hmm ok then Shelf 9 Book 22. I really must get back to work, its a hard slog today! :)

120hailelib
Oct 9, 2012, 8:58am Top

Great bookcases!

How about 10 and 10?

121christina_reads
Oct 9, 2012, 11:44am Top

Your bookcase is amazing, and I am going to fly over to Sweden and STEAL IT.

122GingerbreadMan
Oct 9, 2012, 3:31pm Top

>118 RidgewayGirl:+120+121 Thank you kindly :)

>119 clfisha: Shelf 9, book 22 is one of Flea's. She loves classic mysteries, and this is one of those, called The crooked hinge by John Dickson Carr. I read almost no mysteries, and even less cozies, so definitely not a book I'd picked myself - if I've glanced at this once twice in my life it's probably a high estimate. Interesting!

>120 hailelib: 10 and 10 is The brief and wonderous life of Oscar Wao, which I read just two years ago (and wasn't completely convinced by). Give me another, please!

123hailelib
Oct 9, 2012, 4:19pm Top

Try 11 and 22 then.

124GingerbreadMan
Oct 9, 2012, 4:33pm Top

That's the Devil in amber by Mark Gatiss. But since I haven't read The Vesuvius club, the first Lucifer Box novel, I'll go for that one instead. Interesting pick, thank you!

125GingerbreadMan
Oct 9, 2012, 4:34pm Top

Two more to go!

126-Eva-
Oct 9, 2012, 5:07pm Top

Hurray on the bookshelves being finished and LOVE the pictures - I want those too. Not good news on the health-front, though, hope it gets better soon!

For having two little ones, moving houses, and having to deal with being sick in addition to the regular "life" stuff, I think your progress is pretty darn good!

For your book-picking, I'll go with 21 and 21 and hoping it's a good one. :)

127lkernagh
Oct 9, 2012, 6:11pm Top

Happy to see you are planing your 2013 challenge! If I am not too late, I choose the 7th book on shelf 14.

128SouthernKiwi
Oct 10, 2012, 3:39am Top

Bookshelves look amazing, very jealous! Hope the chicken pox disappears quickly.

129AHS-Wolfy
Oct 10, 2012, 6:52am Top

*Joins in on the bookshelf envy*

Glad you enjoyed Metro 2034 a little more than its prequel though now I have to add another series to my wishlist. Good luck with the various ailments. Hope they all clear up quickly.

130GingerbreadMan
Oct 10, 2012, 5:31pm Top

>126 -Eva-:: 21 and 21 is Wolf Hall, which already has a place in another of my categories for 2013 (Flea picking books for me). So another one, please!

>127 lkernagh: Shelf 14 book 7 is Livets fest by Moa Martinsson, a writer from the Swedish movement of autodidact writers from the working class in the first half of the 1900-eds. Haven't read anything by her, so that should be interesting. Thanks!

>128 SouthernKiwi: Thanks and thanks!

>129 AHS-Wolfy: I think I actually prefer the prequel after all, due to it's rich world buildning. Both of them are well worth checking out though.

131-Eva-
Oct 10, 2012, 6:09pm Top

Let's try 22 and 22 and hope that works! :) I looked at both of the Metros when I was in Sweden, but the suitcase was already too full - maybe next year. :)

132cammykitty
Oct 10, 2012, 9:23pm Top

Yes, jealous of the bookcase!!!! & hope Minna is well soon. & have to say oooo haunting of hill house! I still haven't read it yet. Thanks for reminding me that I have to - and this is the perfect month for it.

133pammab
Edited: Oct 10, 2012, 11:34pm Top

I have to echo RidgewayGirl -- gorgeous bookcases.

134GingerbreadMan
Oct 11, 2012, 4:41am Top

>131 -Eva-: Ah well, you know how to home in on the bricks, Eva. Shelf 22 is fantasy/sci-fi, and book 22 is The mists of Avalon. Another one of Flea's books, and quite far from the sort of fantasy I usually indulge in. This will be interesting.

All in all, my blindfold category for next year consists mainly of books I'd never would have picked in the next ten years: one classic mystery, one witty, post-modern version of the same, one über-realist tale of working class misery, one thousand pages of celtic romantic fantasy - and one unread book by a favorite writer. Which is what it should be about, I suppose! Looking forward to this, and hope to be pushed in completely new directions!

>132 cammykitty: You really must. As a quick Halloween chill, it doesn't get better than this!

>133 pammab: Thanks!

135GingerbreadMan
Oct 11, 2012, 6:49am Top

This is the one day when all of Sweden talks about literature. Fifteen minutes until Peter Englund announces this year's Nobel laureate! My guess is the Egyptian writer Nawal el Saadawi this year. Also keeping my fingers crossed for Chinua Achebe.

136GingerbreadMan
Oct 11, 2012, 7:26am Top

Mo Yan got the prize. Haven't read anything by him (or even heard of him), but the descriptions and excerpts presented on the radio after the announcement sounded quite interesting.

137hailelib
Oct 11, 2012, 10:11am Top

A reason to check out a new author!

138clfisha
Oct 11, 2012, 11:31am Top

hmm "who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary" ..intriguing indeed

139-Eva-
Oct 11, 2012, 2:35pm Top

->134 GingerbreadMan:
That's a great mix! As far as I remember The Mists of Avalon is a really fast read, despite its girth. :) I was even thinking of picking it up next year as part of my reread category.

I've never heard of Mo Yan either, but the description does sound good. My vote was for Murakami, but I think he's already too popular to be picked. :)

140lkernagh
Oct 11, 2012, 5:14pm Top

Mo Yan is a new one to me as well, but the Nobel prize winners for Literature tend to be for some strange reason. Nice mix of books chosen for you. It has been too long since I read The Mists of Avalon so I will be curious to see what you think of it. I checked out the Wikipedia page for Moa Martinsson - quite an amazing woman. I will be very curious to see what you think of her writing.

141SouthernKiwi
Edited: Oct 12, 2012, 9:01pm Top

This Mists of Avalon has been on my radar for ages but I never get around to it. I think I need to add it to my lists for next year, or if it's a quick read maybe it can round out my chunksters category for this year...

142RidgewayGirl
Oct 12, 2012, 10:45am Top

The Mists of Avalon isn't my usual kind of book, either, and I enjoyed it tremendously. You'll like this feminist take on the Arthurian legend. And it is a fast and entertaining read.

And Wolf Hall is sublime. Unlike The Mists of Avalon, it's not an adventure story told at a rip-roaring pace, but wait until you meet Cromwell. And get to dive into Mantel's gorgeous writing.

If you're going to read doorstops, you've picked wisely (or others have).

143GingerbreadMan
Oct 14, 2012, 5:39am Top

>139 -Eva-: and 142: Thanks Eva and Allinson, that's very reassuring! I feel quite intrigued now :)

>140 lkernagh: Really, Moa Martinsson is one of those embarressing gaps in my reading of classic Swedish literature. I have a bit of prejudice against her group of writers ("it's all about seventeen children living in misery with a drunk dad and dying of pneumonia"), so I'm looking forward to hopefully be surprised.

>141 SouthernKiwi: I'll try and break the ice for you :)

144GingerbreadMan
Oct 14, 2012, 5:41am Top

It's Steinbeck october for this reader!

58. Buss på villovägar (The wayward bus) by John Steinbeck
Category 12. King of the hill, 224 pages.

A California countryside bus is delayed overnight due to a broken cog. It’s then caught up in bad weather and forced to take a detour around an unsafe bridge. It then gets stuck in the mud and is forced to wait while the driver goes to fetch help. It’s the thinnest of plots, really. But against this crude backdrop of a storyline, Steinbeck creates a bunch of wonderful character studies, carefully drawn, down to the most minor roles.

There’s, among others, Camille (whose real name is something else), making a living stripping at business dinners, sick and utterly tired with her effect on men. There’s Norma, suddenly quitting her waitress job to seek out Clark Gable in Hollywood. Also Mr. Pritchard, the simple sort of all-american capitalist family man, now to his horror finding his word and name is worth nothing, his manipulating wife and his daughter, who’s deep down convinced she’s a pervert. And of course Juan the driver, who in all secrecy has decided this is his last ever trip.

It’s a slim book, this, but rich in detail, and even richer in tenderness: Steinbeck looks at his flawed, stupid, cruel and petty group of bus passengers with a gentle understanding, even when the events take a turn for the brutal. Psychological realism at its finest, I’m surprised at how much I enjoyed this, and find myself picking up another book by the same author immediately – something I almost never do. 4 ½ stars!

145psutto
Oct 15, 2012, 5:52am Top

great review and another hint for me to pick up this book...

146clfisha
Oct 15, 2012, 8:00am Top

Yep I echo pete. I don't think we have this one sadly.

147andreablythe
Oct 15, 2012, 2:03pm Top

Yay, Steinbeck! I definitely need to read more of his books, especially some of the less known ones. So this one is going on my wish list for sure.

148mathgirl40
Oct 15, 2012, 11:12pm Top

Great review of The Wayward Bus. I've read a couple of Steinbecks but am not familiar with this one. I'll have to look for it.

149GingerbreadMan
Oct 16, 2012, 6:20am Top

I think The wayward bus might be one of those YMMV books. I often have a tendency to fall hard for books that are considered among a writer's lesser works. Don't know why. I recommend anyone to give it a go, though!

59. Möss och människor | Den röda ponnyn (Of mice and men|The red pony) by John Steinbeck
Category 12. King of the hill, 256 pages.

It’s really quite an achievement I managed to go all through school without reading Of mice and men. Flea, my wife, as she sometimes murmuring refers, had to read it three years in a row for different teachers in her mid-teens.

It’s easy to see the appeal of this novella as a group read for a group of young people, though. It’s well-constructed in the “it’s all there for a reason” sense of the world, and the moral discussion about friendship, responsibility for others and what constitutes a bad act is very clear. A bit too clear perhaps. The whole thing is a little predictable, and I’m not entirely sure I like what this book is saying. Still, a deserved classic, no doubt.

The red pony is on the surface a story about a boy getting a horse, losing it to illness and then getting a new one. But cleverly interwoven is a discussion about the ending of a life, and who has the right to decide when it’s no longer worth living. And finally, and even more interesting, it reveals itself to also be a story about losing faith in someone and what having someone lose faith in you does to elf-image. It’s much less focused than Of mice and men, and not quite as good. It’s different parts don’t quite seem to fit together, and the characters seem less keenly observed. A pretty good read, nevertheless.

So, I guess a 4 for Of mice and men and maybe 3,5 for The red pony. A strong 3,5 stars for the edition.

150RidgewayGirl
Oct 16, 2012, 12:15pm Top

...what having someone lose faith in you does to elf-image.

You Swedes really are different. Is it because of the Moomins?

151GingerbreadMan
Oct 17, 2012, 4:44pm Top

Yes, it's sad really. Once a child loses it's faith in you you lose the ability to see the fair folk forever. I was somewhat surprised to see Steinbeck, otherwise a rather realistic writer, adress this mysterious and very Nordic concept in a story about a Californian horse.

Another thing that makes us Swedes different is that we can't bloody type.

152-Eva-
Oct 17, 2012, 5:22pm Top

LOL! You had me for a second there! :)

153cammykitty
Oct 17, 2012, 9:05pm Top

Love you're review of The Wayward Bus. It does sound like something that wouldn't work at all, but that's Steinbeck. He can make it happen. WL!

154dudes22
Oct 20, 2012, 8:35am Top

Life's been catching up with me, so am spending my Sat morning catching up on threads I've neglected this past week.

Have to add my "high-fives" over your bookcase; so...so...jealous. Hubby and I are going on vacation in a couple of weeks to start looking for a retirement home and space for books is high on the list of things I'll be looking for. That and a good-size kitchen.

Heard about Mo Yan on the public radio station here this week and I've never heard of him either. Apparently he avoids the censors by having his novels take place in the past while still taking on controversial subjects.

Hope Minna is better.

155GingerbreadMan
Edited: Oct 23, 2012, 5:23pm Top

>152 -Eva-: :)

>153 cammykitty: Hope you like it once you get to it!

>154 dudes22: Thank you kindly. Hope you succeed in finding a home with room for a lifetime of books!

Oh, and Minna is fine now. Elis has come down with the pox now though, sixteen days after his kid sister. Damn that incubation time!!!!

60. Timeless by Gail Carriger
Category 5. Connect the dots, 402 pages. Category completed!

By the fifth book about Alexia Maccon, very litte can be said without spoiling. But I’ll give it a go. Letting two years having past since the last book is a wise choice on the author’s behalf. As we get back into the story, little Prudence is already two, well settled into adoptive care with Lord Akeldama, and the ruckus of “Heartless” has settled. Now, Alexia gets a missive from the oldest living creature in the world, the hive queen of Alexandria in Egypt, who wishes to meet her little girl. It’s the kind of offer one doesn’t refuse. And is nothing else, it could prove a valuable opportunity to get to the bottom of the God-Breaker Plague. But Maccon won’t let his family go alone – and seems to have his own secret motives.

Carriger gets better and better with plot. While really dealing with the concept of death among immortals, Carriger keeps the story tight and mostly doesn’t overdo it. True, a few of the longer storylines of the series are brought home a little on the constructed side, and a few instances of Deus ex machina occur (or rather Felicity- and Gastropod ex machina as it were), but all in all this fifth part wraps the series up nicely. Again focusing more on adventure than romance, this is a fast and enjoyable read. A more than slight overconfidence in how much fun it is to read about adoreable children doing funny things, and a sometimes strained funny bone (Carriger is much funnier when ahe isn’t trying do damn hard) deter from the reading pleasure a bit.

What I’ll keep from this series is above all some pretty solid world building, focusing on the social side of things. I’ll remember pack protocol, queen swarming and not least the wonderful late addition of the Drifters for quite some time. 3 ½ stars.

156GingerbreadMan
Oct 23, 2012, 5:31pm Top

Very very much make or break-time for my challenge now. 18 books to go in just over two months is a pretty tall order. I really need to get at least two more books read before october ends to stand a chance. Might lose a brick or two and go for slimmer fare instead...

157mamzel
Oct 24, 2012, 10:41am Top

There are some excellent slim volumes around. Heart of Darkness is one that springs to mind.

158-Eva-
Oct 24, 2012, 12:24pm Top

Poor Elis - hope he isn't feeling to bad!

Novellas and graphic novels the rest of the year perhaps...? :)

159GingerbreadMan
Oct 26, 2012, 7:15pm Top

>157 mamzel: Read it and enjoyed it! But there's also the question of then trying to make room for the books I bumpfor slimmer ones, in my 13 in 13... I'll try and stick to the plan as much as I can.

>158 -Eva-: Elis has a tough one, unfortunately. Pox EVERYWHERE - in his mouth, at the corners of his eyes... Hopefully the worst i passed now though. He seemed a little less tormented today.

Two quick reads - and, hey, it looks like this just might be doable after all!

61. Amatka by Karin Tidbeck
Category 10. Sandbox, 224 pages.

Any lover of dystopias will be more than familiar with the basic setup in Karin Tidbeck’s debut. A society where there’s a shortage of almost anything, where censorship, propaganda and informing on your neighbor run the everyday lives of the citizens – who get their jobs chosen for them by the Board and give up their kids to be raised by the community at age seven. A limited free enterprise between the four colonies has just been enforced, and as a result Vanja is sent to the northern colony Amatka to do a census about hygiene articles, to possibly pave the way for export. Where she meets a librarian, who lets her in on a dangerous secret: there used to be another way of living...Yeah, I know. The beginning is well done and full of ambience, but there’s a hefty load of tropes going on.

But not only. Because there’s right from the start also another thing, much more original and sinister: this is a world where matter itself is constantly on the verge of collapsing. Only meticulous watching, branding and naming, on a daily basis, is what keeps a bed a bed and not just a puddle of white slime. And pretty soon Tidbeck is taking us into much more original landscapes, eerie and dreamlike, right up until the wide open, utterly strange end.

I really enjoyed reading this slender debut novel. It’s not perfect, but it packs a punch, and Tidbeck really knows how to create an ambience. I wouldn’t hesitate to file it under “New weird” (first Swedish example of it?), and am very pleased to learn the Jeff VanderMeer will publish Tidbeck’s work in English. It’s almost shameful it took a brit (thank you Claire - again!) to point her out to me. I’m fairly sure I’ll read everything she writes form here on. 4 stars!

62. 3096 dagar (3096 days) by Natascha Kampusch
Category 12. King of the hill, 253 pages.

In march of 1998 the ten year old Natascha disappears on her way to school in a suburb to Vienna. The search is intense for a couple of months, after which the girl is presumed dead. But Natascha is alive, kept prisoner in a five square meter room in a sound isolated basement behind two thick concrete doors and a hidden corridor. Her abductor is Wolfgang Priklopil, a young man suffering from severe paranoid schizophrenia. Eight years later Natascha manages to escape, upon which Priklopil promptly kills himself. Her fate becomes a ruthless media craze, and she is more or less forced under ground again. This book is her own account of the years in imprisonment.

This is a quick, gruesome and deeply fascinating read. Natascha describes the years in Priklopil’s basement without sentiment, and with an impressive amount of analysis. She describes in horrid detail how her “role” changed over time from pampered child to work slave to “wife”, the violence, the terror, the psychological torture – food, sleep and light deprivation, altering of reality, manipulation of memory. But also more complex aspects: how Natascha managed to keep some feeling of superiority towards her prisoner over all the years and how high the threshold to escape actually was.

Perhaps most interesting is her description of the evolving, complicated relationship to Priklopil. She sharply denounces the idea of Stockholm Syndrome, meaning that such a label takes away her right to interpret her experience. She talks about how Priklopil was the only person she met for eight years, and that despite the violence and terror, there was also a mutuality there that was necessary for her survival. And there were “good times” too. In the end, after her release, this unwillingness to talk about absolute evil, the victim refusing to play the role of victim, is what the media has a hard time handling, and she faces some rather appalling aggressiveness as a result.

A strong young woman with a unique story – and a book that won’t make you feel like a dirty scavenger for reading it. Recommended. 4 stars.

160lkernagh
Oct 26, 2012, 8:49pm Top

Sorry to hear that Elis is now down with the pox...... I hope he is over the worst and on the mend now.

Two very interesting book reviews Anders. Surprisingly, my local library has a copy of Kampusch's book! I have way too many books lined up for the rest of this year but I love that I can add it to my For Later list in my local library account which currently has .... hum.... 190 books listed. Still, easier to find it there and place a hold then trolling LT trying to remember where I saw it mentioned!

161cammykitty
Oct 26, 2012, 9:11pm Top

I started to tune out on your review of Amatka because yes it is all the tropes - communist something even worse - but then I got to your second paragraph. Now I'm interested. WL!

162DeltaQueen50
Oct 26, 2012, 9:32pm Top

Hi Anders, it looks like Dystopia is in the air! Amatka sounds like it has a lot of similarities to The Giver but as The Giver is a YA book, the plot appears to be much simpler. Do you know if there is an English version of Amatka?

163AHS-Wolfy
Oct 26, 2012, 9:50pm Top

Will look out for Amatka too when it gets published.

164SouthernKiwi
Oct 26, 2012, 10:37pm Top

Great review of Kampusch's book Anders, sounds like a really interesting read.

Hope Elis shakes off the chicken pox soon.

165cammykitty
Oct 27, 2012, 3:30am Top

Looks like it's not out in English yet, but I found a way to put the Swedish version on my wishlist. That way at least I can keep my eye open for the author - I'm assuming it will get a different title.

166dudes22
Oct 27, 2012, 8:23am Top

Sorry Ellis is down with the "pox". When I was little, my 3 sisters and I had it one right after the other - my poor mother.

Two good reviews. Although I dip into dystopia every once in a while, it not a genre that I particularly like. Think I'll put this on the "interest" list for now.

The Kampusch book sounds like a similar story to what happened to a girl here in the US - in Colorado I think. But not a book for me.

167clfisha
Edited: Oct 27, 2012, 10:51am Top

Great reviews! You made me quite worried with that 1st paragraph of the review for Amatka! :) The second book sounds exactly the kind of thing I hate, I have heard of the case and book and shuddered .. but but you make it sound so fascinating damn you.

Karen Tidbeck's short stories are to be published in English it's called Jagannath & is out soon, e-book available for preorder but I am holding out for a print copy.
http://www.jeffvandermeer.com/2012/09/13/cheeky-frawg-special-pre-order-offer-on...

168-Eva-
Oct 28, 2012, 4:20pm Top

I didn't even know you could get them in the mouth! Poor Elis! Hope he continues to improve, FAST!

Thumbs for Amatka - I've seen in mentioned a lot on the Swedish bookblogger-circuit.

169GingerbreadMan
Oct 30, 2012, 10:04am Top

161+167 It surprises me a little that Tidbeck has chosen this boo-commie-scare setting for her book. For me, dystopia has everything to do with extrapolating the present, and this totalitarian(ish) society doesn't seem to be where we're heading at all. I must say the corporate barbary of for instance Zoo city rings much truer and more contemporary to me. Thus Tidbeck kind of loses the political aspect of the book. I can only assume it's deliberate. As a backdrop for the ending it works well, and in it's own right it's full of athmosphere.

165 Amatka isn't a word in Swedish either. Which is kind of a point, when you read the story :)

167 I'm not a fan of survivor stories either. But this is very un-Oprah. There's no "valuable lesson" Natascha takes form all this. She isn't wise. She just describes a very shitty hand she was dealt, and some aspects of it that are more complex than they first might appear. Also: while descriptive, it isn't very detailed when it comes to violence, and she explicitly omits the sexual abuse.

170GingerbreadMan
Edited: Oct 30, 2012, 7:25pm Top

63. The prince of Homburg by Heinrich von Kleist
Category 7. Dress-up, 107 pages.

It’s the night before the crucial battle with the invading Swedish army, a night when rest is of utmost importance. But on the high quarter grounds, the prince of Homburg is, embarrassingly, sleepwalking. This unmanly conduct puts him on the receiving end of a practical joke from the Elector, and when he wakes up it’s with a feeling he’s had a significant premonition. After all – isn’t he holding a strange glove in his hand, a glove that’s bound to belong to the woman of his dream? Still not sure if he’s awake or sleeping, he has a hard time concentrating on the briefing before the battle the next morning. And disobeys given orders as a result.

Kleist is one of those writers that are so much before their day it’s hard to grasp. Written in 1811, this play reads like something by Kafka a hundred years later. The dreamlike ambience colliding with military bureaucracy is very effective, and it’s clever how Kleist lets each decision Homburg makes end up in its opposite. Even when he decides to do the stout military thing and accept his punishment, initiative is snatched away from him. Also very fond of Kleist’s female characters. There are but two of them, but they are active and full of initiative, unusual for the times when this play was written.

Heinrich von Kleist continues to impress me with each play of his I read. I, who often yawn at classics, find his voice fresh, modern and complex. It’s too bad he isn’t staged more often in my country. 4 stars.

171cammykitty
Oct 30, 2012, 6:52pm Top

The Prince of Homburg does sound good - although usually when people start talking princes, eve of battles I start tuning out. Sounds like this one is unusual enough.

169 - I totally agree. I haven't read Zoo City but her next novel Moxyland was definitely corporatism gone mad - and Solitaire by Kelley Eskridge isn't a new novel, it was just reissued last year, but it is a pretty effective example of corporate dystopia. & now that the United States Supreme Court has declared corporations to be "people" with the same rights to donate to political campaigns, I think the time is ripe for corporate dystopia. So, does that mean corporations can vote??? That would change the upcoming election dramatically.

172GingerbreadMan
Oct 30, 2012, 7:25pm Top

>171 cammykitty: Moxyland is the book I meant, of course. Mixed up my Beukes' there. I blame lack of sleep :)

173cammykitty
Oct 30, 2012, 10:29pm Top

Ahhh - I'll bet there's a bit of corporatism in Zoo City too. Get some sleep!

174GingerbreadMan
Nov 18, 2012, 6:44pm Top

Sorry folks! Two week absent again... I'm deadline hunting yet again (three of them, to be precise) and have on top of that been busy filling out the paper work to start my own business. I'm enjoying being home with baby Minna immensly, but part of me is kind of looking forward to her starting kindergarten this spring, so I can do my work in the daytime instead of in the night.

My reading has been going slow too, and it just doesn't seem likely I'll pull this challenge off. Will keep trying though - not least because I want as little residue as possible to muck up my 13 in 13 challenge :) There will be a thread for that one coming up soon too, by the way. But probably not before december sometime...

64. Tender morsels by Margo Lanagan
Category 10. Sandbox, 488 pages.

This is one of those “push through the initial misery” books. The opening is truly disturbing. Even though Lanagan (thankfully) doesn’t go into detail, the first fifty pages with their descriptions of the girl Liga being kept in isolation and getting sexually abused by her father, and then gang-raped, would qualify as a deal-breaker for many a reader I guess. But I strongly recommend you keep with it!

Because if the beginning, in a way, shows one aspect of fairytale tropes, brought down to gritty realism, the rest of the book explores this mixture so much further. After giving birth to two daughters, and being pushed to almost committing a horrid act, Liga suddenly finds herself in a another world. One very like the one she remembers, but friendlier, and easier. A place where everybody in the town that scared her is simply gone, and where everybody respects her and her little girls. A humble little personal paradise.

Unfortunately for Liga, in the real world, Annie the mudwife is practicing witchcraft a little above her head. Trying to do a favour for her childhood lover, Dought the greedy dwarf, she opens the barriers between Liga’s world and the real one. The Bear Day ritual takes on a new meaning, new bonds are forged – and paradise is bound to be lost.

Really, the simplest way of putting it is that this is a book about real people in a fairytale setting, of sorts. The storytelling has a fairytale feel to it (despite being much more unpredictable), but the dilemmas are heartfelt and tenderly explored, and the characters are three-dimensional and full of life. Full of twists and unexpected turns, it had me eagerly following it to the end.

I understand this book has caused a bit of controversy. I cannot really understand why. Sure, there is sexual violence, gruesome revenge – and a few instances of people being attracted to bears. But it’s never done coldly or in speculation. I wouldn’t hesitate to give this to a teenager, despite its subject matter. My only little beef with this book is instead that it feels just a little disjointed. There’s a bit of “and then THIS happened, and the THIS, and now THIS” going on, at times making it feel a little bit like Lanagan is making it up as she goes along. It’s not quite as tightly woven as I’d liked, and one or two pretty major threads are left dangling at the end, I feel. Still, this is beautiful, original writing, and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in fantasy with a fairytale twist. 4 stars!

175avatiakh
Nov 18, 2012, 10:01pm Top

Great review of Lanagan's book, so glad that you enjoyed it and good luck with your deadlines.

176lkernagh
Nov 18, 2012, 11:33pm Top

Very nice review of Tender Morsels Anders. I have had my eye on that one and based on your review I am less squeamish about picking it up as a candidate for my 2013 Fairy Tales category.

Sorry to see you have been so busy but happy to see you posting again. Good luck with the deadlines. Happy to see you will joining the group for 2013.... I will be most curious to see what you pick as your categories and how you structure your challenge!

177andreablythe
Nov 19, 2012, 12:13am Top

Great review of Tender Morsels. It sounds fascinating.

178clfisha
Nov 19, 2012, 5:23am Top

Great review of Tender Morsels, so glad you enjoyed it. I guess now is not the time pimp The Brides of Rollrock Island :) It is on my reread wishlist, I do wonder if the disjointedness will leap out 2nd time round.. I think I was in awe in the 1st time.

Anyway hope life slows down a tad and good luck with your new business!

179psutto
Nov 19, 2012, 7:45am Top

Great review - I don't think I loved that book as much as Claire and have yet to read the brides of Rollrock but its a candidate for 2013

180sjmccreary
Nov 19, 2012, 9:29am Top

Just popping in to congratulate you on the hot review of Tender Morsels. Thumbs up from me. Yours was the only review that actually made me want to read the book despite the unsavory elements.

181AHS-Wolfy
Nov 19, 2012, 9:37am Top

Good review and I hope things go well for you deadline and new business wise.

182-Eva-
Nov 19, 2012, 12:16pm Top

Good to see you back, if only for a shortie (I was going to say "a quickie" but I'll stay away from that due to the connotations...). :) I have Tender Morsels on the wishlist and it's staying there, but I think The Brides of Rollrock Island will be read first - I can't not go for selkies first! :) Have fun with your paperwork - I do know how complex Swedish bureaucracy can be.

183ivyd
Nov 19, 2012, 1:36pm Top

Glad to see you back, Anders! Enjoy that little girl while you can -- it's unbelievable how fast they grow up!

184mamzel
Nov 20, 2012, 3:56pm Top

Sorry to say I was one of those readers who hated Tender Morsels. I couldn't find much to redeem its value. The rapes and bestiality I found to be gratuitous and brutal. As high school library employee, I could not recommend it to my students. No student has ever asked for it either. We just received The Brides of Rollrock Island so I'll probably have to read it to see what it's about.

185GingerbreadMan
Edited: Nov 21, 2012, 5:35pm Top

Thanks everybody for the warm welcome! :)

>176 lkernagh: My main problem with next year's challenge is that it seems I won't make this year's...So, do I let this year's residue push other candidates way, or do I postpone the books I won't manage this year until 2014...?

>180 sjmccreary: Yay! A hot review! Always blushing when that happens :)

>182 -Eva-: I'm not starting anything new really. It's just that since I'm freelancing again for the first time since the kids came, I need to rent an office. Which makes it sensible to start a business. The paper work has actually been pretty straight forward. It's just calculating estimated profits for tax purposes that has been somewhat draining.
Oh, and as a father of two small children, quickies are very much standard fare these days...

>184 mamzel: I remember you telling me that, when I first put Tender morsels on my list of candidates last year. I felt quite the opposite, that the rapes and bestiality was handled with little detail, as to not be speculative and gratuitous.
I did not read it as a YA novel though (and I rather hate that label), and do not have to consider the variable of whether or not to recommend it to young readers in my professional life. I don't think I'd hesitate to give it to a teenager though (with due notification that it is stark at times). I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this one.

186andreablythe
Nov 21, 2012, 6:03pm Top

I totally understand what you mean about not wanting to launch into next years challenge before finishing this one. I have the same dilemma. But I went ahead and made my categories with the idea of doing a last ditch effort at finishing this one. But it's the holidays and life gets busy. So, who knows.

187lkernagh
Nov 21, 2012, 10:35pm Top

I have set up my 2013 but won't be over there with my reading before Jan 1 as I am also still plugging away at my 12 in 12.

188dudes22
Nov 22, 2012, 6:11am Top

Depending on how many there are, you could make a "leftovers" category. Thanksgiving day here in America and I like leftovers almost as much as the main meal.

189cammykitty
Nov 22, 2012, 7:57pm Top

Dudes has an idea there!!! Leftover dressing & gravy, yum!

190lkernagh
Nov 22, 2012, 10:13pm Top

Leftovers.... good idea!

Makes note as option for future category challenges.

191GingerbreadMan
Nov 24, 2012, 12:33pm Top

A leftover category is a great idea! THe only question is then which other category too boot....Argh. Decisions, decisions.

65. Regnspiran (The rain bird) by Sara Lidman
Category 12. King of the hill, 310 pages.

"Regnspiran" is a bird whose song, according to local superstition, predicts death and misery. Everybody knows this, but noone dares to mention it. Instead the official version is it predicts rain. This theme of what everybody knows but won’t say carries this dense novel about the girl Linda, who grows up wild, destructive and difficult in a Västerbottnian village in the early 1900eds. It’s a landscape Lidman has often returned to, and where she’s written much of her finest work.

Linda is caught between her self-punishing, closed father, and her too lenient mother, having a childhood difficult to navigate through. More or less by accident she predicts her father’s death , giving her a reputation as a fortune teller already at age eight. In her young naivety she uses this reputation to gain respect and fear from the villagers – and as she grows up it’s as someone you need to keep on the good side of, but whom nobody really knows, or likes. It doesn’t help her that she gets pregnant without being even engaged either, especially since the whole village already has taken her side on a rape charge once, years before. The only friend she has is the neighbor girl Ulrika, who fails to see what the rest of the village has already worked out: the child of Linda’s unborn child can’t possibly be anyone other than Ulrika’s fiancée, Karl, who suddenly eloped to America after the last ever village dance.

Sara Lidman is one of my favorite writers. As always, she is a joy to read. Her style, sparse and understated, with razor sharp insight into human behavior, fear and convention, is a delight. I know of almost no other writer that can make the rural, mundane everyday of a small village become a grand human drama. Here a stolen scarf or a wrong word in passing becomes nail biting tension. And her characters are rounded, complex and original down to the smallest parts. However, in this particular book I’m not sure I like what she’s saying. Lidman can often be harsh, but her insight into what makes a character tick is usually creating a sort of rugged tenderness. In this book there’s something unforgiving and hard in the way she looks at Linda and silly Ulrika, and the ending, inevitable as it may be, feels almost cruel. A strong and rewarding read, but far from my favorite book by this unique voice. 3 ½ stars.

192cammykitty
Nov 25, 2012, 1:16am Top

Ah, I just kept adding categories to mine. Someone is attempting 20 categories of 13 each. Can't remember who. That sounds a bit too ambitious for me. I've got an increasing number of categories, but I don't want to do less than 5 (or maybe 4) books per category.

Great review of The Rain Bird - I'm not even going to attempt to spell or say Regneswhatever.

193GingerbreadMan
Nov 25, 2012, 11:16am Top

>192 cammykitty: I'm going for 13 categories with five books in each - except for ten in the Sandman category. No way am I failing to complete my challenge next year for the third year running...

66. The Unwritten 4: Leviathan by Mike Carey and Peter Gross
Category 9. Winding down, 144 pages.

Here be spoilers.

Joy! With this the fourth volume, it seems the Unwritten series, full of promise and interesting concepts right from the start, finally kicks into full potential, becoming all I hoped it would be. It’s like everything takes one more step: the literary allusions (love the gathering in the belly of the whale!), the meta level (love how Tom wrestles his way into the narrative panels of the Moby Dick world!), the cast (love the tacky vampire transformation and the puppeteer lady!) and the world building. And to top off the whole thing, we get a concluding short story about what happened to Pauly the foul-mouthed rabbit, a twisted wedding between Kafka and Carroll that is a chilling joy to read.

Always enjoyed this series, but am now officially stoked. 4 ½ stars.

194lkernagh
Nov 25, 2012, 6:47pm Top

Great review of Regnspiran! Sadly not something that I will be able to easily lay my hands on but hey, I am always up for a challenge.... ;-)

195cammykitty
Nov 25, 2012, 11:36pm Top

@194 Lori, that's what I was thinking too. Anders, you're always great at tempting us with titles that aren't yet translated into English.

196clfisha
Nov 26, 2012, 4:20am Top

Glad to hear you are enjoying The Unwritten series, be interested to see what you make of Volume 5.

197DeltaQueen50
Nov 26, 2012, 4:19pm Top

Hi Anders, Un Lun Dun is going to be a group read next year so that would be one book that you could carry over to next year.

198cammykitty
Nov 26, 2012, 11:22pm Top

But it's in December - so if you want to move Un Lun Dun to next year, it really will be a full year before you get to it.

199psutto
Nov 27, 2012, 6:57am Top

That Unwritten was basically what inspired me to go and read Moby Dick which was so much better than I expected so Thanks Mike Carey ;-)

You really need to read his Felix Castor books if you haven't done so far, good news is that the final book in the series is out in 2013

200GingerbreadMan
Nov 27, 2012, 5:32pm Top

>195 cammykitty: In this case though, it's a really old book - published in 58 I think. And apparently there is an English translation too. But I recommend you to rather seek out something else by Lidman. This was good, but almost everything that lady ever wrote is fantastic.

>196 clfisha: I'm having a graphic novel category next year too, and will make room for it for sure!

>197 DeltaQueen50:+198 Yeah, another year feels a bit steep. I was thinking about reading Un Lun Dun as my christmas brick for this year, and I think I'll stick with that. I'll decide on what to carry over by mid december, when the full extent of my failure is evident :)

>199 psutto: It's having me pondering Moby Dick as well, a book I've never seriously considered before... Noting the Castor series, thank you!

201GingerbreadMan
Edited: Nov 30, 2012, 5:19pm Top

67. SCUM manifesto by Valerie Solanas
Category 12. King of the hill, 80 pages. Category completed!

SCUM is short for “Society for Cutting Up Men”, and the manifesto is Valerie Solanas’ infamous text about why the destruction of the male sex is necessary, and her visions about a society free of men. A Stockholm theatre has done a staged version of the manifesto, more or less just presenting the text as it is, causing huge controversy. Public anti-feminist voices have been overbidding each other in condemning the performance, and the actress (but not the male director, go figure) has received numerous death threats, forcing her to play several shows under police protection. A few weeks ago I went to see the performance, and it was really good. This prompted me to pick up the text itself, which I got for Christmas last year from my brother, and has been lingering on my shelf for a year.

There’s no doubt Solanas text is very strong medicine indeed. The male is presented as a genetic defect, incapable of any feelings and genuine relations to other, which has created a highly destructive society only to mask this fact.

It’s very much a shame that Solanas actually shot Andy Warhol – this act makes it hard to overlook the possibility to read her agenda literally. Otherwise this whole work can just as easily read as a sharp metaphor. But really, you need to have an extremely low degree of self-distance in order to be as offended by this as many white hetero men have been. Instead, if you dare to actually look past the verbal slugging and extreme positioning of Solanas, deranged at times, there are some genuine points made. There is stuff here for a western man to actually ponder. And then, reading this text actually becomes a rather liberating experience. Also, Solanas is funny as hell at times.

Absolutely not for everyone, but if you can stand getting slapped around a bit (or well, maybe more than a bit), this is a manifesto well worth reading. 4 stars

202psutto
Nov 28, 2012, 10:00am Top

Sounds "interesting"

203andreablythe
Nov 28, 2012, 12:33pm Top

Wow. Great review. And that's quite a book. It does indeed sound interesting, though I think a grain of salt probably needs to be taken with it.

This made me think about that movie, I Shot Andy Warhol, which must have been about her I now realize. I only watched half of it, but now I'm curious about it again.

204RidgewayGirl
Nov 28, 2012, 12:50pm Top

I saw the movie too, but so long ago that all the details are lost. Lili Taylor is awesome, though.

205andreablythe
Nov 28, 2012, 12:52pm Top

I love Lily Taylor. Wish she was in more movies.

206GingerbreadMan
Dec 1, 2012, 6:03pm Top

>202 psutto: "interesting" in quotation marks, not sure how to interpret that :)
>203 andreablythe:+204 Haven't seen the film, but that would be her, yes. "Grain of sand" - more like a fistful!

207GingerbreadMan
Dec 1, 2012, 6:05pm Top

68. Arkham Asylum: A serious house on a serious earth by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean (re-read)
Category 9. Winding down, 216 pages

I’ve said before that I think Batman stands a good chance of surviving as one of the enduring myths of the 20th century. The core story is so simple and effective, like an archetype, and the character has time and time again proved it lends itself to very different interpretations. Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum came out at a time when the dominant Batman image was one inspired by Frank Miller’s Dark Knight – an extremely violent, psychopathic vigilante who could just as easily be one of the villians he’s hunting. Morrison, as a reaction, with this album showed us a Batman who is insecure, defensive and controlled, full of secret doubt with himself and more scared of the likeness between himself and the Arkham population than anything.

The story is simple enough. The patients at Arkham have taken hostages and demand Batman to be turned over to them. They believe he belongs there, with them. Paralel with this is told the story of Dr. Arkham himself, and the tragic events that led to him founding this hospital. All of it is told in Dave McKean’s exquisite style and Morrison’s rich, symbolic imagery.

It’s a very good graphic novel, full of ambience, tension and goodies. But something is stopping me from calling it truly great. There’s something about the pacing that isn’t quite right to me, and McKean’s art, wonderful as it is, is sometimes a little static, seems posey rather than full of movement. This book really has nothing to do with action, that’s not what it’s about, but might have benefitted from a stronger sense of motion, tempo, danger, nevertheless. Still, I’ll read this many more times, for sure. 4 stars.

208andreablythe
Dec 1, 2012, 7:29pm Top

I like Batman quite a lot, much more of an interesting character than the other biggie comic hero Superman. He has more complexity from the start and is so human (if very complex).

I haven't read any of the comics though (I watched the animated series as a kid). I should read some of them.

209-Eva-
Edited: Dec 4, 2012, 6:44pm Top

I have a huge blank in my Americana-knowledge when it comes to superheroes (I am trying to fix it, I promise!) and I feel like I'm missing out when I see books like these. :) I need to sit down and mow through Marvel and DC comics. I just need to find the time....

210psutto
Dec 3, 2012, 4:40am Top

>206 GingerbreadMan: - not sure how to interpret that like a war zone would be "interesting" to visit... ;-)

I do like the Arkham Asylum Batman but I'm not widely read in Batman so can't really compare it to the rest

211clfisha
Dec 3, 2012, 7:04am Top

I think you will find Adam West IS the definitive version. Ignore any award winning stuff like Frank Miller ;-)

212GingerbreadMan
Dec 3, 2012, 6:12pm Top

>208 andreablythe: Again: with the basic premise so simple you can basically dive in anywhere. To me, the thrill of Batman is just discovering the many possible interpretations. Oh, and some of the coolest villains around, of course!

>209 -Eva-: Yeah, well first there's the whole construction of the tropes, and then there's the de-construction, and then of course the re-construction and...lol!

>210 psutto: Right. I thought as much :)

>211 clfisha: "Remember Robin, never hit a man with glasses!"

213andreablythe
Dec 3, 2012, 7:10pm Top

The villains of the Batman world are FANTASTIC, for sure. :)

214lkernagh
Dec 3, 2012, 8:35pm Top

Getting caught up on the Barman/superheroes discussion. Like Andrea said, the villians are fantastic - I remember Batman's villains from my childhood more than I do any of the superheroes!

215cammykitty
Dec 3, 2012, 10:49pm Top

LOL - but not the Adam West of "Tropical Punch" if anyone remembers that short-lived show.

216GingerbreadMan
Dec 7, 2012, 6:24pm Top

69. Hett (Heat) by Bill Buford (blindly picked for me by christina_reads)
Category 6. Blind man's buff, 348 pages.

It’s almost exactly a year ago since I read Buford’s Among the thugs, a chilling account of Brittish football violence. Buford ran with the most violent hooligans, and managed to write something that was both firmly rooted on ground level and put into a context and masculinity. And he had a sharp eye on himself in the process, observing what was happening to him, how he was somehow pulled in.

Heat works in a very similar fashion. Having the idea to become a great cook, Buford manages to find his way into the kitchens of top chef Mario Batali as an unpaid intern. We get to follow the steaming, exhausting everyday of the restaurant kitchen, and we get to follow Buford into a deeper and deeper obsession with cooking and food. Soon he’s spending months in Italy watching old ladies roll pasta dough or stirring meat stews for ten hours straight. It’s often amusing and interesting, and full of nice, raw little anecdotes – even if trying to keep all those people referred to on first name basis apart is more or less impossible.

What I’m missing here is that context. It’s like this journey into the complicated simplicity of Italian food is enough – except it isn’t really. The book feels all over the place and never really leaves that ground level, and in the end it becomes downright messy, almost random. It does inspire to muscular, slow cooking though, and I’ve cooked at least one musty meat two-hour casserole as a direct result of reading it. 3 stars.

70. Lucky dog by Leo Butler
Category 7. Dress-up, 64 pages.

Well, hello British contemporary drama. Old couple, check. Working class, small town, check. Troubled neighbor boy, check. Bad relationships with own kid, trying to compensate by turning said neighbor boy into own kid, check. Lots of silence, check. Bit of understated humor, check. Sudden, random physical acts like checking your breast for lumps, check. Unspoken stuff for the audience to decipher , check. Pretty elegant exposition and good characters and dialogue, check, check, check. The kind of quality, realistic writing that is significant for thirteen out of twelve Royal Court plays, check.

Also, six very short, strange little scenes set in the Canary Islands a year later. Which might be the best thing about the play, or the worst. 3 stars.

217cammykitty
Dec 7, 2012, 9:53pm Top

Too bad about Heat! Sounds like it could've been a 5 star read with a little more grounding.

218christina_reads
Dec 8, 2012, 11:13pm Top

As the person who blindly picked "Heat" for you, I'm sorry it wasn't a better experience! I hope the casserole was good, at least.

219-Eva-
Edited: Dec 10, 2012, 11:28pm Top

"I’ve cooked at least one musty meat two-hour casserole as a direct result of reading it"
Well, that's at least something! :) I have Heat on Mt. TBR as well (and, like you, picked it up because I found Among the Thugs fascinating), so I'll consider myself forewarned.

220LauraBrook
Dec 16, 2012, 9:19pm Top

Hi Anders! I haven't been at your thread since...um, October. Oops! Your new bookshelves are envy-inducing in the best possible way. How lucky you and Flea are! I hope the kids are feeling better, and that your paperwork, if not already done, whips by quickly and goes through without any headaches. :)

221GingerbreadMan
Edited: Dec 21, 2012, 12:34pm Top

In a slump lately. Been involved in some pretty big discussions over at Facebook, regarding stereotypes, representation and the best ways to battle climate change - on top of all the christmas stuff. Have only to read 200 pages in two weeks. I expect to d three more books untilcthe end of the challenge though. So: fail, but not a huge one. Looking forward to start exploring all of your 2013 threads. Will be more active next year, being more in control of my own time again!

222mamzel
Dec 23, 2012, 1:43pm Top

You mean there really is more on Facebook than pictures taken at drunken parties? Color me surprised!

223-Eva-
Dec 23, 2012, 5:32pm Top

Three away from the goal isn't all too bad, considering all the stuff you've been up to this year with la famiglia! Looking forward to seeing you back next year.

224andreablythe
Dec 23, 2012, 8:55pm Top

Eva's right. Only three books away is very respectable and worth a well done.

I also look forward to chatting with you next year.

225lkernagh
Edited: Dec 23, 2012, 9:47pm Top

Three books - you can do it.... make them really short books and you set! Looking forward to 2013 and more book bullets from your reading!

226DeltaQueen50
Dec 23, 2012, 11:05pm Top

Wishing you the best of the season, Anders. Looking forward to catching up with you over on the 2013 Challenge thread.

227avatiakh
Dec 23, 2012, 11:59pm Top

Happy Holidays Anders. I think most of us have hit a speed bump in our reading lately.

228lkernagh
Dec 24, 2012, 1:26am Top

Hi Anders - Stopping by to wish you and your family a happy holiday season and all the best in the new year!

229SouthernKiwi
Dec 25, 2012, 10:25pm Top

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and your family Anders!

230GingerbreadMan
Edited: Dec 28, 2012, 6:47pm Top

Thanks all for the well-wishes for the holidays. And thanks for cheering me on towards the finish line of this challenge. You over-estimate me though. If nothing incredibly surprising occur, I'll be ending the year with 73 read books. A close miss, and a respectable reading year considering. I finished Mainspring on Christmas Day, and will be wrapping up Den blå rullgardinen before I go to bed tonight. Reviews are coming! Then I'll settle for a graphic novel, before I might start off 2013 a day or so early... Really looking forward to a new reading year with you, and with worktime in the daytime instead of in the wee hours of peternity leave, I hope to spend a bit more time with you guys :)

I had a good Christmas by the way. We usually act as hub for our respective families, but for various reasons we chose to go visit this year instead. Three stops in just under a week, all very nice. But it feels good to be home :)

231GingerbreadMan
Edited: Dec 29, 2012, 8:07am Top

71. Mainspring by Jay Lake
Category 9. Sandbox, 328 pages.

There’s no doubt there is a God who created Earth. The tracks on which the world runs across the heavens are clearly visible in the sky, as is the massive cord in which the sunlamp hangs. Around the equator a massive brass wall stands, on top of which are the huge gears that connects earth with the skytrack. The skilled ones can at all times hear the rumble of Earth’s orbit, as it clangs across the universe. The Creator, the Clockmaker is making his presence shown everywhere.

But when the lowly clockmaker’s apprentice Hethor is visited in the night by a brass angel, he still finds himself in the middle of a theological controversy. For the angel gives him the mission to find and wind the World’s Mainspring, which is running down – and the very idea of God needing Man to maintain his creation is heresy. Hethor’s quest takes him across the wall, to the fabled Southern Earth, which few has seen. Where he learns that his mission is both harder and simpler than he thought possible.

Jay Lake came to my attention after reading the “New Weird” anthology. I’ve since read and been underwhelmed by his “Trial of Flowers”, which is probably the reason why this one has lingered unread on my shelves for four years (having been a candidate in each of my challenges, but bumped each time). Now, I’m really eager to read more instead. Lake’s spin on Steampunk, with a world that is an advanced brass machine, is original, and he is full of cool ideas. I really enjoyed the theological twist here, unusual for the genre, and his depiction of the Wall is brimming with strangeness and imagination. The “Correct people” Hethor meets on the other side of the Wall are sometimes bordering on a noble savage cliché, but there is so much detail to them and their customs they end up feeling real instead. Lake even manages a rather unusual love story, and never overplays the tired old “Chosen one” trope.

Slight spoilers ahead: The story telling isn’t quite up to par with the world building at all times though. The ways that William of Ghent bloke keeps reappearing doesn’t seem organic to me. A few ideas, like the Candlemen, seem to belong in another book. And at times I wish Lake would build crescendos instead of just letting everything have more or less the same value. But there is no doubt this was a really enjoyable read, full of original ideas and adventure. I’m going to pick up Escapement, the second book set in this world, sooner than later. 3 ½ stars.

72. Den blå rullgardinen by Agnes von Krusenstjerna (blindly picked for me by Lori - lkernagh)
Category 6. Blind Man's Buff, 159 pages. Category completed!

Petra von Pahlen, after having her heart broken by her way too ambitious fiancée (he never came home from his expedition to South America, the bastard), settles for a solitary life in the country, running an inherited farm. She surprises everyone, including herself, with taking in Angela, a young orphaned relative. The growing friendship between this woman and this girl forms the core of “Den blå rullgardinen”, first of seven books about the von Pahlen family. But there is a lot going on in just 160 pages here – a rich and interesting cast, flawed and human, that I will look forward to getting to know better. I really like Adéle, deliciously petty, bitter and vindictive. And Elsa, living humbly in the spoils of love lost. And I feel perhaps a little too close to Hans, who despite having a good life spends way too much time longing for something unspecific, something “more”.

These books, now modern classics in Sweden, caused controversy when they were published in the 30ies, with their questioning of marriage as an institution, and (for their time) rather candid descriptions of sex out of wedlock. For a modern reader, this story comes across unpredictable and human, if at times a tad too lyrical for my particular taste. I’m looking forward to spending more time with this fragile and flawed lot. 3 ½ stars, with promise of higher marks ahead!

232andreablythe
Dec 29, 2012, 1:32pm Top

I enjoyed Mainspring, too. Sometimes it seemed there were too many cool ideas, but I love that it was a truly unique world and I'm also curious about the sequel.

233-Eva-
Dec 30, 2012, 1:26pm Top

Glad to hear you had a god jul! :) I went visiting as well - my little flat is much to small to host anybody (which is kinda how I've planned it....) and I have friends with big houses. I celebrated julafton with my best friend (who is Swedish) and her husband (who is Vietnamese), so our Christmas-dinners was "Scandinasian" - meatballs with a side of eggrolls, anyone? :)

I think I read Kvinnogatan at Uni, but I can't say I remember much of it - it was pre-LT so I'll have to dig out my old college notes. Should probably put her back on the list...

234GingerbreadMan
Dec 30, 2012, 5:26pm Top

>232 andreablythe: It looks like the sequel has a new cast, but is set in the same world. That's a concept I tend to like.

>233 -Eva-: I have a hunch the von Pahlen books might be best read in order (then again, which books aren't?). Meatballs and eggrolls sounds lovely! Throwing in some vegetarian dishes would help any julbord... Gott slut, Eva! Vi ses 2013!

235GingerbreadMan
Edited: Dec 30, 2012, 5:55pm Top

Wrapping up my failed (again, alas!) 12 in 12 with a couple of really good graphic novels! Not with a whimper, but with a bang!

73. Blacksad by Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido
Category 9. Winding down, 176 pages. Category completed!

Anthropomorphic noir that, to my somewhat untrained eye, seems to contain exactly what the genre requires. A ruggedly handsome tomcat of a detective, cynical and marked by life. Bad-ass, drop dead goregeous women in difficult circumstances, harboring dark secrets. Corny side-kicks. Corrupt officials. Hard-working folks being destroyed by a heartless system. Racism and white power haters. Unnecessary deaths. Sad deaths. Deserved deaths.

Really, the storytelling runs smooth as clockwork here, and the artwork is so fabulous I can’t even describe it. Animals full of expression, cool classic fashion, a pale, exact color palette and angles like a well-edited film. To me, the last story of the three presented here is limping a little bit though, and this isn’t really my genre. Still a truly great read, and if you are a noir lover this has to be a necessity.

I would stay clear of the stupid, condescending foreword though – if you don’t need the help of statements like “Hey, you know what? They’re not really animals! They’re people, and the kind of animal they are portrayed as SAYS something about their character!!” 4 ½ stars!

74. Locke and Key 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
Category 3. Peek-a-boo!, 158 pages. Category completed!

After their dad was murdered by a couple of deranged students, the remains of the Locke family relocate to the Keyhouse, the old family New England mansion, to try and get to terms with their trauma. They each carry guilt and horrid memories from the events, but aren’t really good at helping each other through them. Instead, they pretty much carry their own emotional luggage – and a heavy luggage it is.

But the Keyhouse isn’t the safe haven they would have hoped for (well duh, it’s situated in a town called Lovecraft for chrissakes!). It seems impossible to find your way in it without getting slightly lost – and soon stranger things happen. Bode, the six-year-old, finds a door which you die and leave your body if you step through. There is someone, or something, living down the old well. And it seems the house itself even might have something to do with the gruesome murder. This is by no means a place to escape the past. Quite the opposite.

This is a chilling book, working both with explicit splatter, and subtle eeriness. Carefully planting, showing the way, and changing perspectives, it becomes both a high-paced thriller and a deeply human drama, which I couldn’t help but devour. Rodriguez’ art, sort of naïve and glossy, shouldn’t work for horror, but by damn, it does.

I was prepared to like this after all the praise here on LT, but wasn’t really expecting one of my top reads of this year. A brilliant way to end 2012! 5 stars!

236andreablythe
Dec 30, 2012, 5:44pm Top

Locke & Key is a fantastic series! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. The subsequent books are also great and some of the fun is seeing what new keys The writer comes up with and what they do.

Blacksad sounds like a great read, too.

237GingerbreadMan
Edited: Dec 30, 2012, 5:51pm Top

So, a quick summary of the fourth quarter, before wrapping up the whole year...

Books read this quarter: 19 (74 total)
Pages read this quarter: 3154 (17421 total)
Average rating this quarter: 3,684

Reading this quater by category:
Cowboys and indians: Category completed
Chinese Whispers: 0/2 (1/2 total)
Peek-a-boo!: 1/3 (3/3 total - category completed)
Clapping games: Category completed
Connect the dots: 1/5 (5/5 total - category completed)
Blind Man's Buff: 2/6 (6/6 total - category completed)
Dress-up: 2/7 (6/7 total)
Tag! You're it!: Category completed
Winding down: 4/9 (9/9 total - category completed)
Sandbox: 4/10 (8/10 total)
Coloring book: Category completed
King of the hill: 5/12 (12/12 total - category completed)

Pretty close - but no cigar!

238AHS-Wolfy
Dec 30, 2012, 6:20pm Top

I think Claire put Blacksad on my wishlist already but it's always good to get confirmation it deserves a place there. I've also still to pick up Locke & Key.

239GingerbreadMan
Dec 30, 2012, 6:23pm Top

And here's my 2012 in summary!

Books read: 74. (Not quite there, but rather good, considering.)
Pages read: 17421, or 305,6 pages per book (not counting graphic novels here. Slightly lower than the last years, but then again, I read a lot more graphic novels...)
Male/female/both ratio: 45/27/2 (More men on the TBR. But this still doesn't feel quite right. Hope for better balance in 2013!)
Author nationalities: 16. Totally okay - bot slooow progress on my European challenge.
Average rating: 3,704 (slightly lower than 2011 - a good reading year though!)

Ten best reads of 2012, in no particular order:
The haunting of Hill house - the best ghost story I've read.
Cloud atlas - Cleverly constructed, six truly enojyable tales creating an intricate pattern
Lonesome dove - Epic, human, grand.
Pretty monsters - Still gives me chills thinking of it. Unique stuff.
The arrival - Masterful silent storytelling.
Atlas of remote islands - The most beautiful book I own, brimming of solitude and humanity
Locke and Key 1: Welcome to Lovecraft - Creepy and gorey, fast-paced and lingering.
The unwritten 4: Leviathan - This interesting series moves from "good" to "great."
Things fall apart - Simple and powerful.
Zoo city - Gritty, smart, South African urban fantasy.

Five worst reads of 2012:
Vellum - Author being oh so clever. Literary jazz of the worst kind.
Familjelycka - Disappointingly featherweight.
Our tragic universe - Proof a good concept isn't enough.
Stunder av verklighet - Tearfilled and holy, annoying.
Dexter in the dark - Tries for a genre swap for unclear reasons, deeply disappointing.

240GingerbreadMan
Edited: Dec 30, 2012, 7:04pm Top

More awards:

Best category: It's hard to argue with the 4,7 average in the Peek-a-boo category.

Worst category: My fellow LT:ers had bad luck in picking books for my Blind Man's Buff, it seems. And it's perhaps a professional ailment, but I didn't find that much of interest in my plays category.

Biggest laugh: Probably Tolkien's editor trying to get him to include some female characters in The lord of the Rings, in Ja till Liv!. And some bits of SCUM manifesto. The feminists were funniest this year!

Biggest gasp moment: Probably the destroying of the eggs in Across Oka - not entirely unexpected, but heartbreaking.

Best ending: Has to be the bleak and bitter ending of Things fall apart. It kind of makes the whole book.

Best opening line: All of this happened because a boy I once knew named Miles Sperry decided to go into the resurrectionist business and dig up the grave of his girlfriend, Bethany Baldwin, who had been dead for not quite a year. (Pretty monsters)

Biggest challenge mistake: Well, just setting the bar too high, this year.

Biggest discovery: Several this year. The Unwritten and Locke and Key series, Lauren Beukes, Karin Tidbeck and David Mitchell.

Biggest disappointments: I though Vellum sounded cool, and liked Hal Duncan's contribution to the New Weird anthology. It ended up being the three longest reading weeks of my life... Was also pretty underwhelmed by The white tiger, after all the hype.

Even if you threatened to kill me I couldn't give you more than the crudest outline of (The Books not that memorable award): Well, Vellum, for damn sure. Love in the time of Cholera. Familjelycka I actually couldn't tell you a damn about.

Most beautiful cover:


Many strong candidates this year, but I love a cover that just has the title on it - if the lettering is this cool.

Cover only a mother could love:


Contrary to what you might think, Kleist's play is not about an Adam's apple.

Most dangerous thread to visit: I've been treating all of you more than a little stepmotherly this year, more often than not cathing up weeks of posts in one gulp. Looking at my lists though, it seems Pete is responsible for a hell of a lot of book bullets this year. Thanks man...

That's it! I'll catch up on threads here for another day or two, before migrating to the promised land of the "2013 Category Challenge". Thanks you, all my lovely LT friends, for making my reading life so much more fun!

241GingerbreadMan
Dec 30, 2012, 7:06pm Top

>236 andreablythe: Really looking forward to continuing!

>238 AHS-Wolfy: I think I liked Blacksad a fair bit more than Claire. Then again I'm not as well read in noir as her. The artwork is stellar, that much I can say with objectivity!

242cbl_tn
Dec 30, 2012, 7:10pm Top

Great summary! About that cover - I'm not so sure even his mother would like it.

I hope 2013 is a good reading year for you!

243-Eva-
Dec 30, 2012, 7:23pm Top

Well, I am glad you finished with books that are already on the wishlist! :) That's a great cover of Zoo City! Not one I've seen, though - is it a Swedish edition?

244andreablythe
Dec 30, 2012, 9:00pm Top

I lie your year's summaries. A fun way to account it, and I too love Kelly Link's opening line, I've read that story several times and loves it more each time.

245cammykitty
Dec 30, 2012, 10:08pm Top

Yup, Pete is dangerous. & I'm wondering if he is why Blacksad is already on my teetering WL. I'm running over to my thread to put Blacksad in the "planned" list.

& I'm putting Mainspring on the WL too. SF&F writers talk about him here all the time, mainly because he's a loud advocate of the butt-in-chair school of writing. I've avoided reading him for a long time but perhaps need to give him a try. (And really, after watching newbie writers try to shake the golden key of writing out of writers time after time, who can argue with the butt-in-chair theory?)

246sjmccreary
Dec 31, 2012, 12:09am Top

Love your recap - good luck next year!

247lkernagh
Dec 31, 2012, 3:39am Top

Nice to see you ended your reading year with some great reading! I have added Mainspring to my ever growing list of Steampunk books to read, as well as Locke and Key. Great summary! Looking forward to following your reading next year. In the meantime, wishing you a Happy New Year!

248AHS-Wolfy
Dec 31, 2012, 5:48am Top

Great summaries. Once more it has been a pleasure to follow along with your reading year. Looking forward to doing so again in 2013.

249hailelib
Dec 31, 2012, 8:37am Top

It will be interesting to see what great books you come up with next year!

250dudes22
Dec 31, 2012, 11:47am Top

Looking forward to following you again next year. See you in 13.

251LauraBrook
Dec 31, 2012, 3:17pm Top

Anders, a great wrap-up and a great way to end the year with a 5 star book! Here's hoping that next year both of us will be able to finish our challenges. :) See you on the 2013 threads!

252avatiakh
Dec 31, 2012, 5:17pm Top

Anders, love your summaries and also agree that Pete's is the most dangerous thread.
Happy New Year!

253mathgirl40
Dec 31, 2012, 9:01pm Top

I enjoyed reading your recap of the year. Looking forward to following your reading in 2013!

254christina_reads
Jan 1, 2013, 7:45pm Top

Anders, completely agree with your comments on the ending of Things Fall Apart. Also, that first line of Pretty Monsters has me wanting to put that book on my wishlist, despite not being a big horror fan.

255SouthernKiwi
Jan 1, 2013, 10:56pm Top

Fantastic wrap up Anders! Happy to see Things Fall Apart and Atlas Of Remote Islands made your best reads list. Happy new year, I look forward to following you in 2013 too.

256clfisha
Edited: Jan 2, 2013, 5:25am Top

Oh goodness the only book I your top 10 that I didn't love is Things Fall Apart and that's because I haven't read it. Wonder why that escaped going my TBR!

Your comment on Blacksads intro made me laugh. There are some truly bad I intros out there, it has to be said but comics seem to be paricular bad. Glad you liked both that and Locke & Key

Happy New Year btw! Right over to the 2013 thread.

257psutto
Jan 7, 2013, 9:52am Top

just catching up - glad you enjoyed locke & key I'd say that yours was one of the more dangerous threads for me to visit too! happy festivities! see you over on the 2013 thread

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