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Monkey swings in to 2016

Club Read 2016

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1.Monkey.
Edited: Jan 14, 2016, 9:09am Top

*waves* Hello, Monkey here! If you haven't met me yet:
I'm an avid eclectic bookworm since birth, I love photography, cooking/baking, travel, horror, movies, cats, ladybugs, monkeys, and lists, to name a few things. ;P
I'm an American ex-pat (*sings* sweet home, Chicago); Belgium is where I happily call home now. I am married to a lovely Dutch fella, and we have three feline furbabies, all with their own special brand of Trouble. xP
Meet my precious: Kuma, the European Shorthair grumpybutt, who is very sweet with us but hates other cats and is quick to hiss at anything that doesn't go her way (be it another cat approaching her space, or being shooed from laying on the keyboard); Nushka, the British Shorthair mix, sweetest little furball you ever did meet (...except when she's antagonizing Kuma), who coos like a (very loud) pigeon when she's happy; and Aleksandra, the Maine Coon baby who'd devour a horse if she could only figure out how, who loves to cuddle up with her mamaperson when she's not racing around like a lunatic getting into things and mewing & trilling her little head off. Unlike Kuma, Lexi and Nushie are super BFFs. <3


I read some of nearly everything, just no fluffy romance/chicklit junk, anything but that! Hahaha. Otherwise, I give nearly anything a shot. Horror, classics, and all variety of thriller/suspense/mystery are at the top of my list, but my shelves are full of many other things, including (auto)biographies/memoirs, "literature," religion, history, science, graphic novels/comics, historical fic, sci-fi/fantasy, etc and so forth.

My 2016 notions:
Because my preferred areas tend to be dominated by white male English-speaking authors, this year I'm planning to put more emphasis on female & minority authors. Not going to quit reading the others, I see less than zero reason for people to go to the opposite extreme and discount excellent writing simply because it was written by a dominant group, but I am going to make an effort to balance the scales a bit: more women, more minorities, more translated works, and, more non-fic.
I'll also be continuing to try to get a decent amount of 1,001 titles under my belt. That thread is located here, for the curious.
I'm trying out a Shakespeare goal, reading one of his works every month. I've had the Complete Works volume on my shelves for years and have yet to pick it up, so a slow goal like that may help, being attainable, and I will get through them all in 3 years at that rate!
I also would like to try reading a nonfic title each month, but I'm not sure if I will quite make that, as a lot of my nonfic are long and not light material. But I'll try to shoot for 10.
I hope to hit the 75+ book mark, but since my reading was abysmal for 2015, I am going to put my goal down at 65, and just hope I blow by it. ;)
I want to keep the white English-speaking males at 40% or less of my reading, and to keep my reading confined at least 80% to my shelves (which shouldn't be an issue these days since we let the library card lapse like 2 years ago and only use the uni library now).
Also I'm planning to get my book blog going again and participate in the classics challenge and women's classic event, overlapping with my TBR Challenge and 1001 titles wherever applicable! :P

Along with my reviews/thoughts on what I read, I also plan to include various other things in my thread here, like movies we watch, and who knows, whatever else I feel like sharing. :P And, I'll be starting that from Dec, since I have no 2015 thread. You'll just have to make do! XP

Since I hardly read in 2015 and therefore did zero planning, I am going the other extreme this year and have a whole lot of planning going on. Things can always change, I'm flexible, but I like having goals to work with. So I will probably post monthly plans at the start of each month and then we'll see at the end how well I do! Haha.

You'll also be able to find me over in my TBR Challenge thread, my favorite group alongside this one.

First half of the year reading list: post 2
Second half of the year reading list: post 3
Monthly plans / completions: post 4
Acquisitions: post 5

2.Monkey.
Edited: Jan 29, 2016, 5:38pm Top

(#s are links to the review post in the thread)

December
1. The ten thousand things, 28 Oct-1 Dec, 204p
2. The most wanted man in China, 1-5 Dec, 328p
3. Satan in Goray, 20 Nov-11 Dec, 151p
4. Garnethill, 15-16 Dec, 437p
5. Exile, 25-27 Dec, 423p
6. King Solomon's Mines, 29-30 Dec, 177p
7. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, 22 Nov-30 Dec, 118p
8. Invisible Man, 12-30 Dec, 462p

January
1. In the Heart of the Seas, 1 Jan, 120p
2. Resolution, 1-3 Jan, 453p
3. Da Vinci Code, 3-5 Jan, 452p
4. Stepford Wives, 6 Jan, 151p
5. The Maltese Falcon, 13 Jan, 213p
6. In the Teeth of the Evidence, 15-16 Jan, 248p
7. Prison Journal, 16-17 Jan, 154p
8. Ancestor Stones, 5-21 Jan, 317p
9. Haunting of Hill House, 29 Jan, 244p

February
March
April
May
June

3.Monkey.
Edited: Jan 6, 2016, 8:29am Top

July
August
September
October
November
December

4.Monkey.
Edited: Feb 1, 2016, 11:18am Top

Monthly plans / completions & summaries
January plans
January summary
February plans

6.Monkey.
Dec 6, 2015, 5:03pm Top

placeholding for thingamajigs

7.Monkey.
Dec 6, 2015, 5:03pm Top


Book #0.1: The ten thousand things - Maria Dermoût, Hans Koning (Translator)

©1958 (my copy 2002), acquired Nov 2011; pages 204; read 28 Oct-1 Dec 2015.
Tagged fic, literature, Dutch, Indonesia;
Goals female, translated
Acquired because my husband gifted it to me for my birthday after having read the original Dutch.
Picked up now owing to it having sat on the shelf for 4 years - it was time!
My impressions
"Of all the houses not one was standing whole; they had collapsed with an earthquake and been cleared away. Here and there a piece of an old house had remained: a wing, a wall only, and later people built against it, usually just a few shabby rooms.
What was left of all the glory?
Yet something seemed to have lingered in those gardens of the old, the past, of the so-very-long-ago."

It took me a while to get through the first half of this book. A month, in fact, to read 80 pages. But I didn't want to quit it, the writing was so evocative, so beautiful and captivating, so...unique. Her imagery, and style, is just, something else entirely. Even though the story, at this point, is very slow-paced and mostly in Felicia's thoughts and observations, there is simply something magical in the way Dermoût expresses everything. There is a style and a rhythm to her writing that you just want to lounge in. I adored the writing, I just wasn't pulled in to the story yet.
"He did like the curiosities cabinet, because it belonged to the Garden—and he loved the Garden.
He loved it in his own way—without much ado, as it was, as it had been for seven years for the two children Domingoes and Himpies. They had never just looked at it, they had never seen that the Garden was "beautiful" and so terribly far away and quiet, they had not seen the fear in the Garden. Together they had never been afraid."

But the second half is no longer just The Woman of the Small Garden, the second half has much more going on, and I read it in a single sitting. In these sections there are other stories that are loosely intertwined with her own, which take the forefront up until the end, when they are weaved smoothly back in together with the Lady. These stories have more happening in them; rather than long stretches of time passing slowly, they are fast glimpses.
"When the moon rose above the inner bay, which lay as quiet as a lake, and shone over the foliage of the trees and palms on the beach, it seemed almost day. The small leaves of the many palms gleamed as if wet, as if the moonlight would roll off them in silver drops and trickles. The trunks of the plane trees lighted up gray and silvery white, the foliage took on a hard, almost metallic gleam.
...
The species of lobster with the single, monstrously enlarged claw which was constantly moving up and down would be somewhere near the water, waving at the moon—that's what they did."

It's a difficult book to describe. Not very much happens, especially not with the central character. She lives, she learns, she ages. But it's a brilliant, moving, enchanting piece of work that everyone should experience. Highly recommended.
"Sjeba and her husband, Henry, who was still cowherd, stayed with her. Slowly they had become the only ones left from the past, the only ones who knew everything, had gone through everything—anyway, the cows had to be milked."

Last thoughts
Best keep some tissues handy once you delve in, but don't miss this one!

8.Monkey.
Dec 6, 2015, 5:04pm Top


Book #0.2: The Most Wanted Man in China - Fang Lizhi

©2016, acquired 2015; pages 328; read 1-5 Dec 2015.
Tagged non-fic autobio/memoir, China, human rights, Communism;
Goals Chinese author - translated, non-fic
Acquired because it was a LTER offering that looked interesting.
Picked up now owing to LTER books needing fast attention. ;)
My impressions
"It is also said that lightning is sly but fair: it tends to target dead trees and limbs, ones that are on the way out anyway, and does the same to the older and more decrepit of the buildings and towers that mankind has built. Nature has it right, I think: we should let collapse things that are ready to collapse, let rot the things that are rotting, and let die things ready to die, no matter how splendid their glory, be it real or false, once was."

As a 30-something American, I have had vague knowledge of the Tiananmen Square incident since it occurred, but no real information about the ordeal, what exactly happened, let alone why it happened. Well, nothing much could prove a better insight into this horrible incident than the man who the government accused of "inciting" it to occur! Fang Lizhi was not an active voice in encouraging students to protest, but he had been a key in setting that wheel in motion, awakening in students the realization that they had rights; with his university speeches supporting science, hence supporting freedom—freedom of knowledge, of information, of speech, in a word: human rights—he started the fires burning in the students' minds, fires the corrupt government couldn't easily put out.
"the more fundamental fact was that the authorities viewed universities as a kind of battlefield. Mao had said, "We [Communists] have no university professors; they all belong to the Kuomintang, and they're the ones running [the universities]." He also said "the real power in the worlds of scholarship and education lie in the hands of the bourgeois intellectuals, who are in fact Kuomintang people." ... This was the underlying cause of my two "emergency annihilations," and it reveals how the Party has viewed universities for decades."

Fang's writing is relaxed, reading his book was like having a conversation with an old friend about his past before you met. He is forthright, humorous at times, light-hearted, never dramatic or boastful, just always the observational scientist reporting on what happened, how it happened, and how he was involved in it. I flew through the book in essentially two sittings. Simply marvelous.
"But out there in front of an audience of a hundred or so, in the elegant Hall of Rice Fragrance, the teacher's intuition to explain the truth to others took over inside me. Sorry, Your Highness Mr. Vice Premier, but you leave your humble servant no choice. I'm going to contest you point by point and we'll see who wins. Are you ready?"

Final thoughts
Definitely not to be missed by anyone who wants to understand China over the past century (and especially why the Tiananmen Square atrocity of 1989 came about), from the inside.

9.Monkey.
Edited: Dec 11, 2015, 3:59pm Top


Book #0.3: Satan in Goray - Isaac Bashevis Singer

©1935 (my copy 1981), acquired 2013; pages 151; read 20 Nov-11 Dec 2015.
Tagged fic, historical fic, Jewish;
Goals Polish-Jewish author - translated
Acquired because he is a prominent literary name and it was on the shelf in a used bookshop.
Picked up now owing to reading a slow-going book and wanting to read something else alongside it, somewhat randomly selected.
My impressions
"But it is the way of the world that in time everything reverts to what it has been."

This is one of those books where you finish it and just kind of sit back and go ...huh. I don't really know what to say about it. The writing is certainly well done. But it's...yeah I just don't know.
One thing it's not, is for the squeamish. Butchering, blood, death, beatings, rape, this is not your light reading for the faint-hearted. There is plenty of depravity of all sorts to go round.

The whole thing is very heavy, from the start. It tells the story of a small Polish town (shtetl), Goray, in the 1660s, after the Chmelnicki massacres had wiped out a large portion of the Jews/town population in 1648, and of what happens when the false messiah, Sabbatai Zevi, becomes known in the world and the town.
"Once Rechele saw two blood-smeared butcher boys skin a goat and let it lie there with eyeballs protruding in amazement and white teeth projecting in a kind of death-smile."

It's pretty much a lot of thinking "What, no, stop! Why are you doing that! Think! Be smart! What's wrong with you!" and so forth. Frustrating!

That said, it does feel realistic. People caught up in the messianic cult, in the fervor of their beliefs, tend to do pretty awful things. The mob mentality catches on quick and people forget their sense of morality. And when you've survived your town being ravaged, well, it's easy to want to believe that the Messiah has come to take you away from the bad things in the world and bring you to glorious peace and happiness. So, why not put your faith in that stranger who comes to town and says all the right things and promises you heaven, literally!

But I did have some issues. One, there was really not a single redeeming character in the book. Even the "good" ones were too flawed. So, while in a sense I wanted the town to wake up and pull through and get their act together, I really couldn't say that I gave a hoot what happened to the individual characters. I felt bad for Rabbi Benish, his last scene, especially, but, it was more about what he stood for and what the town was losing.

Also, and maybe this is just me, or that I set the book down for a couple weeks, but I had trouble keeping some of the characters straight. There were a few similar names (Nechele & Rechele?), and a lot of characters, especially for such a very short book. But it wasn't a very big deal, just a mild annoyance.
"All night the voice called to Rechele, without interruption, at times in the holy tongue, at times in Yiddish. The air thickened with smoke and a glowing, ghostly, purple light. Rechele felt the walls sundering, the ceiling dissolving, and the whole house above the clouds. Swooning with fear, she lay with inert limbs: her eyes glazed, her arms and legs distended and wooden like those of a corpse."

Overall thoughts
I give this a 3.5, for good writing and believability, but I don't think I'd really recommend it unless one is interested in, well, religious hysteria? I am interested to read more Singer, though.

10SassyLassy
Dec 16, 2015, 3:47pm Top

>9 .Monkey.: Singer wrote this while still living in Poland, although it wasn't published until after his move to the US. You may find the books written in the States more upbeat and what might be described as "popular". I actually prefer this book to his American writing. I did enjoy reading your thoughts on it though.

11.Monkey.
Dec 16, 2015, 4:44pm Top

Oh I certainly don't need things to be any particular tone. I just didn't sit well with there really not being a single truly decent person in the town; Rabbi Benish and Rechele come closest and they still fall far short of the mark. There's really just not a single person in the town that you care about what comes of them, as an individual.

12The_Hibernator
Dec 16, 2015, 10:02pm Top

Hi Monkey. I have joined a women classics challenge for the next year in the blogging world, so I, too, will be diversifying. It's amazing to me how much I've focused on white males in the past!

13.Monkey.
Dec 17, 2015, 5:57am Top

Yeah, I don't generally think much about it, I read all sorts of things for various reasons and who wrote it really isn't important to me, just the content, you know? So it winds up putting me rather far off balance in the white male side, just because of their numbers. So I figured now would be a good time to start making a conscious effort to tip the scales the other way! :)

Ooh, do you have a link to some info about this challenge? I am intrigued!

14rebeccanyc
Dec 30, 2015, 11:35am Top

>9 .Monkey.: I read Satan in Goray decades ago in a Yiddish literature in translation course in college. Thanks for reminding me of it.

15.Monkey.
Dec 30, 2015, 12:05pm Top

>14 rebeccanyc: Ooh that sounds like an interesting course! Do you recall off the top of your head any others you read?

16.Monkey.
Jan 1, 2016, 10:31am Top

 
Book #0.4, 0.5: Garnethill & Exile - Denise Mina

©1998 (my copy 1999) & ©2000 (my copy 2011), acquired 11/2015; pages 437 & 423; read 15-16/12 & 25-27/12.
Tagged fic, thriller, mystery, Scottish, mental illness, series;
Goals female
Acquired because a friend reviewed a Mina book and it sounded excellent, so I picked up this trilogy.
Picked up now owing to being anxious to read them!
My impressions
I really enjoyed these novels. They're fast-paced and immensely interesting. They're darker & grimmer than your typical murder mystery thriller, maybe it's a Scottish quality? In any case, it's refreshing to read ones that are about more "real" people, and not expecting everything to be sunshine and rainbows at the end and all that. The protagonist of the Garnethill series is Maureen O'Donnell, a chain-smoking sexually-abused woman who suffered a breakdown, with an immensely toxic alcoholic mother and a kind drug-dealing brother. She is flawed, but she is flawed in a completely realistic manner, and even when she's acting a bit stupid you can't help but root for her and hope she comes out on top. The characters are fleshed out and believable, the mysteries are intriguing, the writing is good; overall, I can't wait to read the last one in the trilogy, and more Denise Mina in the future!

17janeajones
Jan 1, 2016, 11:07am Top

Happy New Year!

18rebeccanyc
Jan 1, 2016, 11:30am Top

19.Monkey.
Jan 1, 2016, 11:37am Top

Sounds like! :)

20.Monkey.
Jan 2, 2016, 9:27am Top


Book #0.6: King Solomon's Mines - H. Rider Haggard

©1885 (my copy 2006), acquired 2011?; pages 177; read 29-30 Dec 2015.
Tagged fic, classic, adventure, Africa;
Goals 1001
Acquired because it's a classic, and an adventure story; plus it was cheap overstock. ;)
Picked up now owing to wanting a speedy read between bits of heavier lit (i.e. Invisible Man).
My impressions
A romping good time! Apparently he wrote it on a bet with his brother that he couldn't easily write something better than Treasure Island, which, it so happens, I had also just recently read. I hope his brother paid up, because I found it a far more interesting read!

I'm sure most folks know by now, but it's the tale of Allan Quatermain off on an African adventure with two other British fellows. Quatermain has made his living as a hunter (mostly of elephants) in Africa for the past 20 years and accepts to go along on a search with the two respectable men he meets on the ship. Of course their way has its share of adventure and adversity, and then they get where they were headed and find a new twist, yada yada. Anyhow it was a breeze and a fun yarn. Of course, given when it was written, there is a bit of racism and a bit of sexism and an incredibly cavalier attitude to the massacre of elephants. But Haggard had spent time in Africa and was actually rather taken with Zulu culture, and he mostly manages to treat the Africans respectfully; the nasty ones being the antagonists and plenty of positive portrayals of both looks and personality of the rest, as opposed to the typical ugly "savages" with fat lips etc that was the prevalent attitude of the time.

Final thoughts
Very enjoyable, would recommend, and plan to read more of the series in the future.

21.Monkey.
Jan 2, 2016, 9:41am Top


Book #0.7: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

©1865 (my copy 2010), acquired 2010; pages 118; read 22 Nov-30 Dec 2015.
Tagged fic, classic, fantasy adventure, children's;
Goals 1001
Acquired because it's a super classic, and I just love the BN "leatherbounds" editions!
Picked up now owing to wanting to finally get round to reading it.
My impressions
Not much new to report. I've seen the Disney movie as a child of course, and I very probably read the Disney book of it back in the day as well. So I was familiar with nearly all the scenes. It's amusing, humorous, fun and fanciful. The Cheshire cat is forever & always my favorite character.

I didn't realize just how short it was. I'll have to continue on to Through the Looking Glass soon for the rest of the story.

22baswood
Jan 2, 2016, 7:52pm Top

I read King Solomon's Mines a couple of years ago and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. A Great story.

23.Monkey.
Jan 3, 2016, 4:48am Top

It really was! I'm surprised I'd never even heard of it until several years ago!

24FlorenceArt
Edited: Jan 3, 2016, 4:26pm Top

>20 .Monkey.: I read King Solomon's Mines ages ago and loved it. I also loved the old Hollywood movie with Stewart Granger and... was it Deborah Kerr? Although it was very different.

25.Monkey.
Jan 3, 2016, 10:15am Top

Ooh I hadn't been aware of that, will have to look into it!

26rebeccanyc
Jan 3, 2016, 11:23am Top

I have very fond memories of reading Alice as a child with my father. I can still picture some of the illustrations.

27OscarWilde87
Jan 3, 2016, 2:59pm Top

Glad to see you back this year! Just starred your thread.

28.Monkey.
Jan 3, 2016, 3:02pm Top

I'm very glad to be back! I was thoroughly missing LT last year, must never wander off like that again! Hahaha.

29LolaWalser
Jan 3, 2016, 3:04pm Top

>24 FlorenceArt:, >25 .Monkey.:

The cinematography is beautiful, and it also records a fantastic animal stampede, and a terrific Watusi dance. Highly recommended.

30.Monkey.
Jan 3, 2016, 3:24pm Top

Nice, I will definitely try to find it. :)

31The_Hibernator
Jan 4, 2016, 12:10am Top

I love that cover of Alice in Wonderland!



Happy New Year!

32Nickelini
Jan 4, 2016, 2:15am Top

>9 .Monkey.: Sounds like a book I'm unlikely to read, especially with that cover, but your review was interesting for sure.

33.Monkey.
Jan 4, 2016, 4:34am Top

>31 The_Hibernator: I love the Barnes & Noble "leatherbounds" series, they look incredible! I've got like a dozen of them. >> lol. It looks like this:


>32 Nickelini: Yeah, I would really only recommend it to those who have a rather strong interest in stories about Judaism and that sort of history, with the pogroms and such. Otherwise, with the lack of sympathetic characters just kind of makes it an odd read.

34janemarieprice
Jan 4, 2016, 8:54pm Top

Just dropping in to say hi and your kitties are so cute!

35.Monkey.
Jan 5, 2016, 3:44am Top

Hallo and thanks! I think so too! :D

36Poquette
Jan 5, 2016, 1:41pm Top

I have both Alice in Wonderland and King Solomon's Mines on my Kindle and hope to get to them soon. Definitely check out the movie. It's a bit dated now but it's pretty good.

37reva8
Jan 5, 2016, 9:11pm Top

>1 .Monkey.: Oh my gosh, you have all these reviews up already! This is awesome. Happy New Year, and your cats are delightful.

38.Monkey.
Edited: Jan 6, 2016, 4:42am Top

Well they're from December (since I didn't have a 2015 thread), I haven't started on this year yet! xP I still have to finish trying to write my review for Invisible Man, and then I will be done with Dec and can move on to 2016! I've finished 3 books so far. :) And thanks, they can be little beasts but they're cute little beasts so I can't stay mad at them. xD

39.Monkey.
Jan 9, 2016, 3:56pm Top


Book #0.8: Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

©1952 (uni library copy 1972), pages 462; read 5-31 Dec.
Tagged fic, historical fic, racism, African American;
Goals African American, 1001
Borrowed now owing to having meant to read it for many years but never winding up acquiring it.
My impressions
"All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was naïve. I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: That I am nobody but myself."

I have been meaning for many years to read Invisible Man, but it just somehow never happened. And then I tried to make more of an effort, but the public library here didn't have it, only the uni library, and there's so many books there I'd always forget about it, on the rare occasions I'd go along with my husband, until I'd already picked out some others. But, I finally remembered and got to read it! And damn if it isn't really something! (Not that I was surprised. But you know.)
"Other than Mary I had no friends and desired none. Nor did I think of Mary as a "friend"; she was something more - a force, a stable familiar force like something out of my past which kept me from whirling off into some unknown which I dared not face. It was a most painful position, for at the same time, Mary reminded me constantly that something was expected of me, some act of leadership, some newsworthy achievement; and I was torn between resenting her for it and loving her for the nebulous hope she kept alive."

It's difficult to find the words to review such a revered classic; of course everyone already knows what it is about: racism and race relations, being black in America, power and equality struggles... Ellison lays it all out there with a strong hand and he does it very well. The "invisible" narrator goes through various stages of ignorance and realization, about the world he's living in as well as himself, giving us a good glimpse of the harsh reality of things from his perspective.

Sadly, it seems the years passing since this wonderful piece of work was written have seen little change. Unfortunately Tod Clifton's demise has appears to have fallen on deaf ears, given the number of black males being shot, unarmed and unresisting, in the US these days. A tragic and appalling situation that finds disturbing parallels to a book written so many decades ago.
"And now all past humiliations became precious parts of my experience, and for the first time, leaning against that stone wall in the sweltering night, I began to accept my past and, as I accepted it, I felt memories welling up within me. It was as though I'd learned suddenly to look around corners; images of past humiliations flickered through my head and I saw that they were more than separate experiences. They were me; they defined me. I was my experiences and my experiences were me, and no blind men, no matter how powerful they became, even if they conquered the world, could take that, or change one single itch, taunt, laugh, cry, scar, ache, rage or pain of it. They were blind, bat blind, moving only by the echoed sounds of their own voices."

Final thoughts
An excellent read, strongly recommended to all.

40Poquette
Jan 9, 2016, 8:37pm Top

I read Invisible Man many years ago --- even before the Civil Rights movement. It had a big influence on me.

41lilisin
Jan 9, 2016, 10:36pm Top

I also really enjoyed Invisible Man when I read it and think it needs to be featured more in the school curriculum especially with, as you mentioned, the current race issues we are having in the US. And even more than plot, I remember most being captured by the writing.

42.Monkey.
Jan 10, 2016, 3:27am Top

Yeah, it was just excellent all-around. :)

43.Monkey.
Edited: Feb 1, 2016, 4:36am Top

Thus concludes my Dec 2015 posts, now on to 2016!

My January plans include:
           
3 from my TBR Challenge, the Horror! Jan theme (Early modern horror - 1950-1980), 1 nonfic, 2 random other.
Also, Sense & Sensability (TBR Chal.) and The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1 Shakespeare) from
 

January completions were:
                 

44kidzdoc
Jan 10, 2016, 8:20am Top

Nice review of Invisible Man, Monkey. I read it far too quickly years ago, and I'm long overdue for a thoughtful re-read of it.

I look forward to your comments about Ancestor Stones. I've enjoyed the two books I've read by Aminatta Forna, The Memory of Love and The Hired Man, and although I own a copy of Ancestor Stones I haven't read it yet.

45.Monkey.
Jan 10, 2016, 8:34am Top

I've started it, but then switched my focus to Les Mis - I was initially thinking I would read it over 2 mos, but now I'm trying to see if I can manage to squeeze it into just one. So I haven't gotten very far on that one yet! I'm hoping to make a nice dent in Les Mis today to help catch up from the first week where I read half as much as needed for a 1mo plan, haha. Then I'll be able to start reading others alongside it again. :P

46baswood
Jan 10, 2016, 4:50pm Top

>39 .Monkey.: Yes it was published in 1952 and it would have been much more powerful to have read it then. You are right there are still plenty of invisible people today.

47The_Hibernator
Jan 10, 2016, 11:50pm Top

>33 .Monkey.: I love them too. I had their copy of the Bible on my wishlist for Christmas (though I didn't get it). It's a KJV illustrated by Gustave Dore. I LOVE Dore and collect a lot of his work.

>39 .Monkey.: Glad you liked Invisible Man. That one's been sitting on my shelves for years. I should dust it off and read it some time.

Hope you had a great weekend.

48reva8
Jan 11, 2016, 3:04pm Top

>39 .Monkey.: This is a lovely review, and I think I might have to re-read this book again. You're right, of course, about its continuing relevance.

49.Monkey.
Jan 11, 2016, 3:24pm Top

Yeah, I mean I knew it would be at least somewhat; in all the older books dealing with race stuff there is still at least a handful of relevant things, since there is still all kinds of crap going on, but I was a bit shocked by that scene and what followed it—it could almost literally have come out of the news today. Aside of the nonstop individual shootings, there's Ferguson, Baltimore...

50.Monkey.
Jan 12, 2016, 5:51pm Top

Stopped by De Slegte today on the way home from the Kookhuis where we picked up a new kitchen scale because the one we had was AWFUL and made me want to murder someone every time I use it (and I have to use it 3x/day!), and picked up 12 books for €25.50, woo! A couple need better covers uploaded (of my editions, anyway), but I got:


And the last one I ordered last month finally arrived,

(The text list with touchstones can be found at the top in my acquisitions list. :))

51fuzzi
Jan 12, 2016, 6:30pm Top

>50 .Monkey.: what's the blue book near the bottom? I can't read the title.

52theaelizabet
Jan 12, 2016, 11:18pm Top

Very nice review of Invisible Man. Can you believe I have yet to read it?

Also very nice book haul! I hope you enjoy the Thin Man.

53.Monkey.
Jan 13, 2016, 3:46am Top

>51 fuzzi: Back to Methuselah, in cute mini hardback form, from OUP in 1945 :D

>52 theaelizabet: Thanks :)

54kidzdoc
Edited: Jan 13, 2016, 5:54am Top

Nice book haul, Monkey!

I'm glad that you purchased a new kitchen scale before you murdered your husband or anyone else. :)

55.Monkey.
Jan 13, 2016, 6:25am Top

Me too! Lmao. It is awful, it has a "feature" where it shuts itself off when it decides it's no longer in use, except it does it at its own whim, I am SURE it is not a consistent time, and it can be anywhere from like 10 seconds to maybe 30 seconds, the 2-4g increments I put in every couple seconds it just decides, nope, this is random air changing the weight, I am no longer in use byebye! and effing turns itself off, WHILE I'M USING IT. HORRIBLE!!! This new one shuts itself off after two minutes (and you can just press it for 2 sec to turn it off yourself), and has a crazy blue light that shines on the display when it's active, which turns off if there's no change for 10 sec. And it reacts instantly, the other one I'd have to wait a second for it to show me the new weight! AND, the old one you have to hold in the freaking button for at least 5 seconds to make it turn on the scale, and then it would take another couple seconds flashing "HELLO" on it first. Wtf? Suffice it to say, I am thrilled with this new one! Hahaha.

56rebeccanyc
Jan 13, 2016, 10:00am Top

Nice haul!

57Simone2
Jan 14, 2016, 11:22am Top

>50 .Monkey.: LOL, so recognizable! I am always unable to leave De Slegte without at least six books!

58brodiew2
Jan 14, 2016, 11:45am Top

>50 .Monkey.: Hello .monkey! I love The Thin Man. I admit that I read the novel long after I fell in love with William Powell and Myrna Loy in the film series, but I enjoyed it just the same. I have also been a big fan of film noir, but have not read as much of the genre. I will be looking forward to your thoughts on Hammett and The Thin Man.

59.Monkey.
Jan 14, 2016, 12:09pm Top

>57 Simone2: You too, huh? Hahaha. Usually I stick to those €4.50 and under, so then it's like €9 or less for 3, but this time there was actually a whole lot for €2.50, which I almost never find. My husband was commenting on the size of the stack piling up, lmao, but I was like Most are only 2.50! CHEAP BOOKS HUSH UP NOW! XD

>58 brodiew2: I'm not sure when I will get to that one, if I should read it sooner (since it's on the 1001 list and a quick one) or save it for later, haha. I just read Maltese Falcon yesterday though, so once I get off my butt and start posting my January reviews I will be sharing thoughts on it! :)

60Simone2
Jan 14, 2016, 2:50pm Top

>59 .Monkey.: I also allow myself all the books I want there, as long as they are under 4,50 euro's, haha!
Will try to avoid going there with all these cheap books you mention. I really HAVE to read some books out of my tbr-shelves!

61.Monkey.
Jan 14, 2016, 4:53pm Top

On the other hand, 7 of them are real short, 5 of which I will take less than a day to read (the other two are probably a little slower of reads), so really, they're not doing much damage to the TBR pile either, when you think about it! XD

62baswood
Jan 14, 2016, 7:01pm Top

>50 .Monkey.: You have one of my all time favourite books in that haul.

63wandering_star
Jan 14, 2016, 8:11pm Top

>50 .Monkey.: ooh I have been looking for a copy of the Edogawa Rampo, hope you enjoy it!

64.Monkey.
Jan 15, 2016, 4:08am Top

>62 baswood: Well, don't keep us in suspense, which one?! :P

>63 wandering_star: I read The Human Chair in My Favorite Horror Story a few years ago, and it was one of the most excellent short stories I've ever read (that whole collection is certainly the best short story collection I've read, as well), so I'd been curious about his stuff for a while, so I decided it would be a good time to pick it up for one of the Horror! theme reads this year. :D

65.Monkey.
Jan 16, 2016, 2:36pm Top

I am failing miserably at reviewing for this month as yet, but I am reading!! And hopefully I will catch up with all of them! But, just to keep my thread at least up to date, so far I have read
In the Heart of the Seas
Resolution
Da Vinci Code
Stepford Wives
The Maltese Falcon
In the Teeth of the Evidence
and I am working through Les Misérables, hoping to be done by the end of the month but, we'll see. I'm around 450p into it, so, about a third done. And I've already knocked out two titles from my TBR Challenge (Les Mis is also one on there), so that's good.

Today I'm feeling a bit blah, hence having read the Sayers collection, and now I'm trying to figure out what other lighter thing I should read, since I'm not feeling up to Les Mis. I ought to try making some progress on Ancestor Stones but I'm pretty sure it's a more weighty kind of thing also, so I think probably not that. Oh well, we'll see what I find! :P

66NanaCC
Jan 16, 2016, 3:03pm Top

Do you have any Agatha Christie? I find that she can sometimes get me out of the blahs.

67.Monkey.
Jan 16, 2016, 4:54pm Top

I do, but Sayers' collection were just like Poirot stories (which is actually my least favorite Christie ;P), so no more of that, haha. I decided to start Prison Journal, another off my TBR Challenge, a fairly short quick one it'll be. Not exactly "light" material but it's not weighty in the same way. :)

68fuzzi
Edited: Jan 17, 2016, 9:28am Top

>67 .Monkey.: I liked Sayers' Wimsey stories when I first read and reread them, in the mid-seventies, but have not reread them since, with the exception of The Nine Tailors (still good). I have read two Poirots, and don't plan on a third...I just don't like him.

Have you tried any Stuart Kaminsky? I love his Inspector Rostnikov books, great characters!

And I love the Laurie R. King Russell and Holmes books, especially the first: The Beekeeper's Apprentice.

69.Monkey.
Jan 17, 2016, 10:21am Top

I didn't hate him or anything, but he simply struck me as another Poirot, aka Holmes. There was actually only 2 or 3 of his, and a handful of Montague Egg ones (what in the world sort of name is that?!), and then a handful of random ones. I liked the random ones best, I think. Perhaps they were more her natural style, unlike the ones trying to follow in the Holmes footsteps, giving her a bit more freedom. In any case, I would read more of her, though I would prefer trying her novels. I'm not much for short stories in general.

Nope, I am completely unfamiliar with Stuart Kaminsky! I've read one of King's, A Darker Place, several years ago, it wasn't bad.

I decided to go with Prison Journal, which I finished this morning. Excellent read. And #3 done off the TBR list, only 21 to go!
I really ought to get back to Les Mis now if I want to finish it this month but argh, I know there will be plenty more unpleasant things happening to them and they've been through so much already, even though I'm only like 1/3rd through it! I just want them to go off and be happy now! Hahaha. I may wind up going with something else again this evening, lol. Maybe I will go for Ancestor Stones, it's about time I picked that back up and actually got into it!

70fuzzi
Edited: Jan 17, 2016, 2:24pm Top

>69 .Monkey.: if the only Laurie R. King you've read is A Darker Place, I'd highly recommend you try The Beekeeper's Apprentice. I read the former, and it was okay, but didn't hold a candle to the Holmes/Russell books, most of which are quite good. I've read almost all of them, and was going to suggest you read my reviews, but alas! I haven't reviewed them here. Shame, shame, I know my name...

The first in the Rostnikov series is Death of a Dissident. There are sixteen books, but I've only read the first eight: they're harder to find, now.

71.Monkey.
Jan 17, 2016, 2:49pm Top

If they're hard to find I'm in trouble, haha. Library here has very select English books. :P

72jjmcgaffey
Jan 17, 2016, 3:12pm Top

>68 fuzzi: I love Sayers - actually my problem is that I've read all of them often enough I've almost got them memorized. The Nine Tailors is my second favorite - for some reason, my absolute favorite is Murder Must Advertise. No idea why, it's an utter mess and none of the secondary characters are particularly interesting - maybe I just enjoy Peter incognito.

>69 .Monkey.: I very much dislike Poirot, and am only mildly interested in Marple - but I love Lord Peter. Less interest in Montague Egg. Lord Peter is not really in the Holmes style at all (I also don't think much of Holmes!) - much less snooty and more intuitive, and a more interesting person. You might try one of the books with just Lord Peter - say, The Nine Tailors? But if you've found something you know you'll enjoy, go for that - I'm still looking right now.

73.Monkey.
Jan 17, 2016, 3:57pm Top

Aw I love Miss Marple! Also Tommy & Tuppence. And I enjoyed Holmes quite a bit, though as usual I preferred the long stories to the short. I'm sure I will get to Sayers' novels some day, eventually everything turns up at De Slegte and winds up following me home! xP Actually I'm not sure if this one came from a De Slegte or from the Deventer Boekenmarkt, but either way, at some point I will undoubtedly find more. Haha.

74fuzzi
Edited: Jan 17, 2016, 4:53pm Top

>72 jjmcgaffey: have you seen the BBC series starring Ian Carmichael as Wimsey? I found a set of DVDs with Tailors, Clouds of Witness, Murder Must Advertise, and others. Fun!

>71 .Monkey.: so sorry to hear it. Does your library ever borrow from others? Without our Interlibrary Loan system, I would not have been able to read some more obscure/older titles.

75.Monkey.
Jan 17, 2016, 5:18pm Top

ILL is expensive, I remember I had my husband look into it a few years ago just to see. I highly doubt it would matter much for a thing like this though, it's unlikely that a smaller library would have an English author that isn't available here. The problem is simply a matter of space. People here can speak many languages, but still, their native language is Dutch so that is what the bulk of the stock will always be. And then the rest of the space has to be divided up in all the rest. English and French are the other two "prominent" ones, but there's probably half a dozen others as well, so there's simply no room to stock much more than a lot of classics and a lot of best sellers, with just a few other random titles tossed in.

76fuzzi
Jan 17, 2016, 6:52pm Top

>75 .Monkey.: I guess we're fortunate: it's free here in North Carolina (USA).

77The_Hibernator
Jan 18, 2016, 12:41am Top

>65 .Monkey.: Too bad In the Heart of the Sea wasn't fantastic. I've had high hopes for that one. It's been sitting in my library for years, and I was thinking about busting it out when the movie was released. Sounds like the movie is a disappointment though. Da Vinci Code was kindof meh to me, too. All of his books are the same.

78.Monkey.
Jan 18, 2016, 3:57am Top

>76 fuzzi: I think a lot (most?) public libraries in the US do it free (though it does cost them a bit of money). But here you even pay an annual subscription to use the library. So yeah, any costs incurred in using it you def have to pay yourself. I don't think it's a thing they do much of. At least not in the main branch, anyhow, which is what we use. Or used to use, when we paid. For the past couple years we've just been using the uni library instead, since they also have quite a selection, and it, well was free, but now my husband's got his masters he has to pay for an alumni card to use it, but that's still half the price of the public library so, until we've made use of everything they have there that we want, or there's something the other library has that we really want to use, we'll stick with the uni one. :P

>77 The_Hibernator: In the heart of the seas is an entirely (very!) different thing than In the heart of the sea: The tragedy of the whaleship Essex, lol. That confusion came up in my other thread as well, haha.
I wasn't surprised at all by Brown being meh, haha, and I'm definitely not surprised to hear they're all the same. I read it because my stepmother had given it me years ago saying I HAD to read it, it's so great, etc etc, and I'd tried to politely decline, but she insisted, and it would have been rude to keep saying no, so I reluctantly acquiesced. And then it sat on my shelves, untouched, for ages. Lol. So I decided I should finally just read the damn thing and get it overwith and out of here, hahaha.

79valkyrdeath
Jan 18, 2016, 1:58pm Top

The main thing I took away from The Da Vinci Code was that Dan Brown blatantly lies by having a page at the front of the book claimant various things within the story are factual when they aren't. The descriptions of things that he claims are real are innaccurate and the book about the Priory of Sion he cites as evidence is a known fake. He did a similar thing in Angels and Demons where he makes up science about things happening at CERN and cites it as fact before the novel. The books themselves are mediocre but I just can't stand stuff like that misleading his readers, who will then argue against the real facts.

80edwinbcn
Jan 23, 2016, 9:59am Top

Great to see you here, having taken over from Rebecca. I see you are reading a lot, as usual.

What's the blue book on the right in post 50?

81fuzzi
Jan 23, 2016, 11:07am Top

>80 edwinbcn: see post 53 :)

82edwinbcn
Jan 23, 2016, 10:41pm Top

Oh, I see. Thanks. I have decided to drop reading plays, with exception of Shakespeare. I kept a few other 17th and 18th century plays, but removed all other plays from my TBR pile.

83.Monkey.
Jan 24, 2016, 3:46am Top

I'm not overly fond of them myself, but I don't mind reading them occasional one. I just don't make it a frequent thing. :)

84The_Hibernator
Jan 25, 2016, 12:49am Top

Yeah, I'm not sure what the hype was all about with Da Vinci Code. I mean, I get the horror among conservative Christians - that made it very popular. But other than that there was no reason that it stood out. And it's not even as if his ideas were unique...the idea had already been written about plenty of times, just in a different way. *shrug*

85brodiew2
Edited: Jan 28, 2016, 7:04pm Top

>84 The_Hibernator: Have you read or listened to Steve Berry's The Third Secret? This book frustrated me for some of the same reasons mentioned above in regards to Brown. I am a Christian and have always enjoyed exploring Catholic thrillers, especially those who have a priest as the protagonist. Sadly, I have been disappointed more often than not because the author's agenda is almost always to attack the Church or it's doctrine. Berry's book had me intrigued up until he dropped his agenda bomb at the end of the book. Because I was listening on tape, I could not throw the book across the room or punch or kick my tape deck. My reaction was not that strong in reality, but my disappointment has kept me from reading another book by Steve Berry.

86ChocolateMuse
Jan 28, 2016, 6:37pm Top

Hi Monkey, great mix of books here! Your three cats are very cute, and I'm extra interested in the middle one, Nushka, is it? Is her eye closed? Is that a wink, or is she actually missing an eye? She's managed to make it really disappear!

87.Monkey.
Jan 29, 2016, 5:57am Top

Yep that is Nushie, and yep she has just the one eye. We don't know how it happened, she was found starving, with it hanging out, poor baby. Some sort of fight, I imagine, but who knows. She had clearly been a pet not a feral, she LOVES people; when we went to meet her she started cooing at us the moment we went in the room, hahaha, and she just drops at your feet rolling over going PET ME! XD From the moment we brought her home she was totally comfortable with us, rolling around for pets and cooing/purring up a storm, it was only the new surroundings she was a bit unsure of. :P Unfortunately whoever the vet was that did her surgery was clearly not familiar with that kind of thing and did a botched job. Since that photo she has had it redone, so it looks a little different now, not quite as natural as before, but now she is healthy! :D

88rachbxl
Jan 29, 2016, 7:13am Top

Hi Monkey, I've enjoyed catching up with your thread. The Maria Dermout has gone on my wishlist.

89.Monkey.
Jan 29, 2016, 8:42am Top

I'm woefully behind on my own thread, I haven't reviewed a single January read! And also on everyone else's threads for the past week or so, since Blade & Soul came out and I've been wasting all my time away leveling up my assassin, hahaha.
You'll have to let me know what you think of it whenever you wind up finding it! It was a very different style and initially had me conflicted, since I'm not much a fan of slow-pacing; I tend to get bored and wander away, but even though it was slow there's just something very unique in her writing, hard to put into words, but lovely to read! I hope you enjoy it!

90.Monkey.
Edited: Feb 1, 2016, 10:37am Top

To recap:
My January plans included:
           
3 from my TBR Challenge, the Horror! Jan theme (Early modern horror - 1950-1980), 1 nonfic, 2 random other.
Also, Sense & Sensability (TBR Chal.) and The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1 Shakespeare) from
 

January completions were:
                 
4 from my TBR Challenge (Agnon, Brown, Rinser, Forna), 2 for the Horror! Jan theme (Early modern horror - 1950-1980; Levin, Jackson), 1 nonfic (Rinser), 4 random other (Mina, Hammett, Sayers, Asimov).

I did not get to my monthly Shakespeare plan or Austen, so they'll be bumped to Feb plans. Les Mis was not intended to be finished by the month's end. And Rebels' Hour was selected for Jan randomly, as the nonfic title for the month, which I wound up taking care of with Prison Journal, so that's fine.
All in all, a productive month. Blade & Soul wound up stealing much of my time for the past couple weeks, oops? I've been leveling up my assassin, she's lvl 30 now, woo! xP So I'm pleased I still managed to finish another few after getting lost in that. Though my progress stalled on Les Mis, will have to get back into the swing of that one. Though, admittedly, I partially let it lapse because there's just so much shit that has happened to these good/innocent people and I'm just like, NO MORE, LET THEM LIVE HAPPY NOW! and I know that there is still plenty more to come, so I'm just like, gah depressing/upsetting, read X instead! lol. Oh well. I will finish eventually!

Jan in summary:
10 books totalling 2629 pages were completed, 90% fiction / 10% non-fiction, by 10 authors from Israel, Scotland, USA, England, Germany; 5 women / 5 men (of which 4 were white English speakers and 1 minority/translation (Jewish/Hebrew)); 2 were translated from 2 languages - Hebrew, German. 3 are on the 1001 Books list (In The Heart of the Seas, Maltese Falcon, I, Robot).
I.e. I managed my 60:40 of women/minority/translation:white English-speaking men, my nonfic title for the month, my 1001 reads; I did not get to my Shakespeare for the month.

32 books were brought in, of which 12 were actually purchased in Jan (the other 20 were bought Oct-Dec last year but hadn't arrived/were shipped to my mother and sent to me later).

91.Monkey.
Feb 1, 2016, 11:14am Top

Feb plans:
Continue (hopefully finishing) Les Mis; Rebels' Hour gets bumped to nonfic selection of Feb, Austen is bumped to this month, The Taming of the Shrew is added to The Two Gentlemen of Verona for Shakespeare.
       
Joined by
       
In total, 4 from my TBR Challenge, 2 for the Horror! Feb theme (Horror in translation), 1 nonfic, 2 Shakespeare.

Feb Completions:

92janemarieprice
Feb 1, 2016, 2:05pm Top

>91 .Monkey.: I almost picked up Them off the street the other day but wavered and ultimately left it. I'll be curious to hear what you think.

93.Monkey.
Feb 1, 2016, 2:14pm Top

I actually plan on starting off with them so I ought to be able to let you know soon! :P

94ELiz_M
Feb 1, 2016, 2:35pm Top

>93 .Monkey.: Have you read the previous books in the wonderland quartet, A Garden of Earthly Delights and Expensive People? I was lukewarm on them and suspect it would have been better if I had read the other novels. Although not linked by plot, I might have missed the background context/themes developed in the earlier novels.

95.Monkey.
Feb 1, 2016, 3:07pm Top

I haven't, but it seemed like it was a title that stands well enough on its own. I suppose I shall see!

96ChocolateMuse
Feb 1, 2016, 6:22pm Top

>87 .Monkey.: I meant to say before what a sweetheart your Nushka is :) And she's lucky to own you.

97.Monkey.
Feb 2, 2016, 3:42am Top

Aw thank you, hehe, and she is indeed, but it goes both ways! :D She is certainly a rare specimen among all the felines I have encountered, lmao, she's a trip, and between her and Lexi there is definitely never a dull moment around here! XP

98brodiew2
Feb 3, 2016, 4:01pm Top

>91 .Monkey.: There are some hefty tomes in your February plans, .Monkey. I never finished Dune and have only read two Jane Austen novels, but the Japanese mystery tales looks quite interesting.

99.Monkey.
Feb 3, 2016, 5:31pm Top

Only Les Mis, and I'm nearly a third into it already. Rampo is excellent though, I'm excited to check out the rest of his horror stories in the collection. :))

100The_Hibernator
Feb 7, 2016, 12:35am Top

>85 brodiew2: Yeah, the Catholic Church gets bashed quite a bit in literature - I've even seen it in Christian Fiction. I get frustrated for the same reason. I mean, I don't mind if an author has different views from myself, but I don't like the plots being hacked through with an agenda ax.

101.Monkey.
Feb 8, 2016, 9:37am Top

Okay, since who knows when I will ever get around to writing my proper reviews, I'm going to just start blurbing for now instead!

So, yesterday I finished Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination and read The Glass Key.
Both enjoyable in their own ways.
Rampo certainly was clever, and found ways to be original while also paying homage to the stories that inspired him. The Human Chair starts off the collection, which was nice. I'd read that one before, it's what made me look for more of his work, it's one of the best short stories I've ever come across. So I reread it, just to get things kicked off right, it'd been a few years, so. :) My other favorite was the last one, The Traveler With The Pasted Rag Picture. It, too, managed to capture that same sort of eerie air and anticipation of the reveal. The rest of the stories were enjoyable, two other "imagination" (and the two aforementioned), five "mystery," but none of them really grabbed me as much. I did prefer the "imagination" ones, though, the darker nature and willingness to push boundaries was surely a strong suit of Rampo's.

And Hammett. His misogyny keeps me from enjoying his books as much as I otherwise would. It's not just sexism, the women in his novels are simply pure malevolence. His Wiki page seems to indicate that he was good to his wife, they separated when he got TB and were advised not to live together and then things fell apart, but he continued to provide for them, and he had a long-time partner after that, but man, the women in his stories are all just the scum of the universe. The only one who manages to fall outside that here was "Mom," so I guess he had no mother issues. But all the rest, vindictive, scheming, sorry excuses for humans who go out of their way to backstab the men around them. And in consequence, it's no issue when they are "tricked" (as one in this novel puts it) and used to further the protagonist's agenda, because they deserved it. It's infuriating because the stories themselves are pretty good and I race right through them. I know Chandler wasn't kind to his women either, but it just didn't feel so slimy to me with him, and at least in his there were also the naïve types, not just the scheming evil ones. I dunno. Has anyone else read them both, and have different opinions? Maybe I just feel like Marlowe was more likeable than Hammett's incredibly cold protagonists so it didn't feel as bad? I mean he could be rather cold also but, it just...felt different! Anyone?? Lol. In any case, the story here was good. I figured who must've done it, but the whole unraveling of it all, well done. Plenty of good twists and turns, and to me it felt like a better, deeper story than Maltese Falcon.

102.Monkey.
Mar 16, 2016, 6:18am Top

I'm still alive, and still reading! I've been bad about being chatty around here, got swept up in BnS and then they had a challenge to lvl up a char to 45 between 3 (or was it 4?) to 23 Mar, so I was working hard on that to get the rewards, which will be given out tomorrow since I got my blade dancer up to 45 on Mon, woo! :D I have been poking around, though, just tend to be in & out and not posting much. But now that I've got my alt char done, and am at the end of the current content just working at lvling up my main on the extra interim HM levels until they get the 50 patch out and such, I don't have to spend much time on there and am free to catch up over here and do more reading. :D

And I have been reading, at least a little bit, every day! Since my last post I have finished:
Mystery of the Yellow Room - Gaston Leroux
Ghoul (Special X #2) - Michael Slade
Cutthroat (Special X #3) - Michael Slade
House Next Door - Anne Rivers Siddons
Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
Dune - Frank Herbert

Not a ton, but it's not nothing! :P I'm currently working on them and then probably The Rebels' Hour, and then, aside of my Shakespeare plan gone horribly neglected, and still leaving aside Les Mis, I'll be caught up in my earlier plans. The other two then still left that I'd planned out for March, are Their Eyes Were Watching God and The Last Man, which I will still have plenty of time to get to, so, let's hope things keep up at their current pace now. ;)

103baswood
Mar 18, 2016, 6:11pm Top

Good to see you again

104brodiew2
Mar 18, 2016, 6:13pm Top

Welcome back, Monkey.

105.Monkey.
Mar 22, 2016, 7:42am Top

So terrorists have kind of flipped my world upsidedown right now, and oh god my mother is going to FREAK THE HELL OUT when she gets up and hears the news. She was already in a panic over Paris, wtf is she going do to now that it's here?! *sigh* I don't even have ... words, thoughts, emotions, whatever, anything, for this right now. This is MY (adopted) COUNTRY these people are fucking with now. This is a GOOD country with GOOD people. Who are now being told to stay in their homes if possible. I just.... what is the world coming to?! :|

106ELiz_M
Mar 22, 2016, 7:52am Top

>105 .Monkey.: I am glad to hear that you are okay. I hope you and your friends and family remain safe and well.

107.Monkey.
Mar 22, 2016, 9:45am Top

Thanks.
I have yet to get the freaking out email from mom, she must not have checked or it hadn't made American news before she left for work, so now I get to spend the day waiting and watching for that. She nearly had a panic attack about Paris, she's going to go nuts about this. At least her plans are to come in Sept this year, not July, hopefully things will have settled back to normalcy by then.

108ELiz_M
Mar 22, 2016, 10:01am Top

The story was definitely not featured in print media (or the emailed New York Times headlines at 5:00 am). It was on the radio by 7:00 am, East Coast time. Hopefully your mom will check her email and know you are okay before hearing the news.

109.Monkey.
Mar 22, 2016, 12:10pm Top

Yeeeep she saw. And now she's claiming she wants to fly into A'dam instead of Brussels in 6 mos. Oy!

110Simone2
Mar 22, 2016, 12:22pm Top

Quite scary indeed .Monkey, and yes, the Belgians are good people, it is all so unfair.
It is all over the news here as well of course (in Amsterdam) and I wish you lots of strenght and courage.

111VivienneR
Mar 22, 2016, 1:05pm Top

Glad you are okay. I offer my sympathy and condolences for your beautiful country.

112.Monkey.
Mar 22, 2016, 1:52pm Top

>110 Simone2: Yeah, planes were routed over there instead, and apparently there's going to be all kinds of fuss with the border for a bit now, bah. Hopefully Hubs was not planning on any trips to the parents any time soon, don't want to deal with that!
>111 VivienneR: The thought are appreciated :)

I just, cannot fathom how people can possibly think mass murder is the way to god. :|

113LolaWalser
Mar 22, 2016, 2:20pm Top

It's horrible. Stay safe Monkey.

114Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Mar 23, 2016, 10:33am Top

Glad you are safe Monkey. I hope that you won't have further attacks, but as someone living in London which has had terrorist attacks since the seventies in my lifetime, you don't go around worrying about it in the end. You don't give potential terrorists the reward of your fear.

I hope your mum calms down. I can understand her concern for you though.

115.Monkey.
Mar 23, 2016, 9:28am Top

Yeah, I'm not afraid, just angry. Well and a bit jittery about my mother being panicked because that's how she is. Ah well. But yeah I won't ever let those sorts make me afraid to live my life the way I want, just because it's not their way. Won't let them win!

116brodiew2
Mar 23, 2016, 10:59am Top

I am also glad you are ok, Monkey. I agree. It is hard to fathom that mass murder is being used as an expression of faith.

117Cecrow
Mar 23, 2016, 11:09am Top

>102 .Monkey.:, how'd you like Mystery of the Yellow Room? I read it about three years ago and thought it was ok, if little far fetched in some places. The Japanese Tales looks really interesting.

118.Monkey.
Mar 23, 2016, 1:59pm Top

I liked it, overall. I liked that, while Holmesian, it was not so quaint, there was blood and betrayal and it was just not so light-hearted as Holmes' mysteries tended to be, even if there was murder it was very clean, you know. This was more ...gritty, in a sense. I did think some of the solutions were a bit, eh, cheat-ish, lol, but I liked the characters and the plot as a whole. I enjoyed it more than Phantom, which I read a long while back and thought was just alright, nothing special.

Rampo was fun, if you like short stories and mysteries I'd definitely suggest it. :)

119NanaCC
Mar 26, 2016, 2:15pm Top

I know just how your mother feels, Monkey. My daughter was in NYC on 9/11 and I will never forget how I felt that day and every day she went there for a long time afterwards. My aunt worked in the financial district and phones were not working. It can be very stressful for those who love you. The world has turned into a scary place with many crazy people. But we can't let them cripple us.

120Cecrow
Mar 29, 2016, 9:08am Top

>119 NanaCC:, absolutely the right attitude. Even before 9/11 I'd heard an interview with someone living in Israel who never knew when the next bus would explode, etc. but they said everyone just goes on with their daily lives, what else can you do? It's true that it's possible to get used to anything if it's repeated enough times. These terrorist acts continue to be as terrible as ever, but gradually they are losing and will continue to lose their shock-and-awe power. I'm hoping and half expecting that will eventually lead to their decrease in frequency, although there will always be desperate and confused people on the loose.

121.Monkey.
May 1, 2016, 7:17am Top

Copying over from my simple text list that I keep, since my last update I have read:

19 0472p 1/2-19/3 > them - Joyce Carol Oates
Interesting in its way, well-written, but not my cup of tea.

20 0240p 18-20/03 > Son of Rosemary - Ira Levin
Not nearly so bad as people like to make out. Entertaining romp.

21 0300p 20-22/03 > The Rebels' Hour - Lieve Joris
Very engaging account of the terror in the Congo from the POV of one man swept up into it.

22 (52p) 22-23/03 > Black Boy - Richard Wright (started 2015)
Interesting autobio/memoir of Wright's growing up black & dabbling with communism.

23 0180p 30/3-4/4 > They Have Their Exits - Airey Neave
Oddly lighthearted account of Neave's escape as an officer from German POW camp, and further working for the tribunal for the Nuremberg Trials.

24 0403p 07-10/04 > Ripper - Michael Slade
Either best or second best (of the 4 so far) in the Special X series of horror-thrillers about the special homicide-investigating RCMP group.

25 0354p 13-13/04 > Revenant - Carolyn Haines
Good thriller-mystery with woman journalist/detective protag.

26 0410p 04-16/04 > The Last Man - Mary Shelley
Shelley is just too much with the Romanticism for me to handle. The first half of this stretched on indefinitely.

27 0165p 17-17/04 > Herland - Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Excellent feminist title from Gilman, utopia of a land of only women.

28 0213p 17-19/04 > Myra Breckinridge - Gore Vidal
Very odd story, satire dealing with sexuality and gender/sex, not his best but intriguing and worth the read.

29 0860p 19-27/04 > Demons - Fyodor Dostoevsky
I <3 Dostoevsky. That is all. XD

30 0235p 27-28/04 > Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston
Brilliant evocative writing of a woman's search for happiness and herself.

31 0310p 28-30/04 > My Father the Spy - John H Richardson
Interesting biography/memoir of the author's father, a top CIC/CIA man from the 40s-70s, lots of good historical insight.

If anyone is curious for more detail about any titles, please do ask and I will write them up, but I figured tossing them out there with a line was better than doing the nothing I've been managing as yet!

Of my goals for the year, so far:
31 of 65 books
Keeping ahead!
29 off the shelves, 93.5%
No threat of being overrun by library books!
13 books by women, 42% (9 white/English; 2 white/translation; 2 PoC/English)
6 books by men (other), 19% (PoC/translation/LGBTQ)
12 books by men (white, in English), 39%
Under the 40% line!
7 from the 1001 Books list
4 of 10 non-fiction
6 by PoC/minorities
6 translations

(PS I effing hate how shitty touchstones are now!!!! *rages*)

122baswood
May 1, 2016, 5:29pm Top

I have Herland on my list of books to read - glad you enjoyed it

123.Monkey.
May 1, 2016, 6:12pm Top

Oh you should, it's really quick and really wonderful! There's a handful of literal LOL moments, as well as lots of wanting to throttle the one guy, hahaha, but she does a really nice job of demonstrating the imbalances and the ridiculous "logic" that is often used. I wouldn't mind picking up a copy to own (I got it from the uni library). :)

124.Monkey.
Aug 23, 2016, 9:43am Top

I have been absolutely horrendous this year, posting in my own thread or others, bah! But just for the sake of something I will continue with what I did a couple posts above.

32 0165p 12-14/05 > Play it as it Lays - Joan Didion (L)
Very bleak but very real. The manner it's written made me think of Myra Breckinridge. Looking forward to more Didion.

33 0273p 14-22/05 > If on a Winter's Night a Traveler - Italo Calvino
Very different, original, fun. Would read more Calvino.

34 0468p 24-25/05 > Sweet Revenge - Diane Mott Davidson
Mystery/thriller, rather implausible in various respects but not a bad read.

35 0202p 05-07/06 > Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë
Not much positive to say about really any of the characters, but the story was engrossing nonetheless, and I had a hard time putting it down once I got into it.

36 0285p 11-12/06 > The Golden Ass - Apuleius (L)
Amusing stories/moral tales, but sometimes they went on a bit. Overall enjoyable.

37 0352p 21-22/06 > Long Fatal Love Chase - Louisa May Alcott
Gothic thriller she wrote not discovered until about 20 yrs ago, a bit melodramatic, as they are, but good.

38 0359p 13-25/06 > Not Just Batman's Butler - Alan Napier
His autobio just endeared me to him even more than good ol' Alfred did. Wonderful man.

39 0180p 25-26/06 > Eaters of the Dead - Michael Crichton
I didn't really like the pseudo-historical record aspect, but interesting, especially comparing with the movie, which did a pretty decent job.

40 0303p 26/6-3/7 > Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
I was disappointed, it was not at all like his other two I've read --and loved-- and had I read this one of his first, it is quite unlikely I'd have been motivated to read any others. Not bad, but not remotely what I expect of him. I wanted to know what was going to happen, and how it would end. But the ending didn't leave me satisfied, just happy to be finished. It makes me think of Age of Innocence but less obnoxious.

41 0734p 04-09/07 > The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
Not much new to say here, nothing new. Fun adventure story, a quick enjoyable read.

42 0326p 09-11/07 > Beloved - Toni Morrison
About time I finally read my first Morrison. Really good, not that I'm surprised. I was actually expecting it to be more emotionally crushing, but I didn't feel like it ended that way, at least.

43 0224p 11-12/07 > Democracy - Joan Didion (L)
Interesting, particularly the narration style. The story itself wasn't especially appealing to me, but it still kept up my interest. Still keen on reading more Didion.

44 0424p 22/5-13/7 > Danse Macabre - Stephen King
Informative opinion piece on the horror genre, from the horror master. ;) Good stuff.

45 0142p 13-13/07 > Candide - Voltaire
So odd. So so odd. Sometimes amusing, sometimes just weird. Overall it makes a good point, even if it is often rather bizarre in the making. Would like to read more Voltaire. Kind of annoyed I let this one languish on the shelves so many years; I guess I just sort of figured, 1700s, philosophy, translation, it would be a bit heavy, and I'm not always in the mood for that. But no, definitely not like that! xD

46 0044p 14-14/07 > Oroonoko - Aphra Behn
Very quick read, and I think it was trying to do something positive re: Africans/slaves? but it was also quite racist, so it's...difficult. While this is "significant" in being potentially/supposedly the first English novel, frankly it really doesn't have very much going for it, imo.

47 0441p 14-22/07 > Stalin's Secret Pogrom - Rubenstein & Naumov
Truly infuriatingly maddening. And so so so very stupid (the subject, not the book). Not so morbidly depressing as I'd feared; I hadn't realized it is ~85% of simply the transcript of this one "trial" (if you can call something where the sentences had already been set prior to starting, a trial), as opposed to all sorts of details about his antisemitic purges and such. The intro (65p) had some info about that, as background to this trial (along with info about the defendants). *sigh*

48 0178p 22-23/07 > The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammett
I think this was probably my favorite of the Hammetts. I had a niggle about the lawyer and I thought the letters, particularly how they were described each time, seemed suspicious, but the big angle I had not anticipated. All in all a good fun story with enjoyable characters (I really liked Nora!).

49 0164p 23-24/07 > Jacob's Room - Virginia Woolf
I didn't really care for this. Unsurprisingly, the writing is good, there were a few lines I especially liked. But the (very loose) story... just not for me. I didn't mind the odd style really, but, the kind of vaguely sad, ambling, melancholy feel... I just didn't care much for it. I am curious to read other Woolf and see what I think of the more hyped titles.

50 0270p 24-27/07 > Brighton Rock - Graham Greene
I think this is my favorite Greene yet. Still feels like him, but Ida brings the mood up a bit. Really enjoyed this one.

51 0335p 27-30/07 > Defcon One - Joe Weber
A good plot flawed by unskilled writing.

52 0128p 31-31/07 > Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery Archives v1
An interesting collection of old strips. Length varies between 1-11 pages per strip, and the quality of the stories in them is also variable. Some were a bit silly, others had a nice creepy feel. I'd say it's probably not really worth the expensive hardback price it sells for, but if you're an avid Karloff fan, it's a fun collector's item.

53 0263p 05-06/08 > A Good Month for Murder - Del Quentin Wilber
A really nice glimpse into the inside of a homicide unit. There's not a ton of detail about any one case or person, but the book provides a nice overview.

54 0212p 06-07/08 > Human Acts - Han Kang
Wow. Seriously, wow. Please go out & read this when it comes out in Jan!!

55 0290p 01-10/08 > The Castle - Franz Kafka
I'm not really sure what I think of this. It was a bit reminiscent of Catch-22 only, without the excess of wit that made Catch-22 so amazing. It has its moments, I chuckled here & there, and there were spots I liked, but mostly I was just really ...puzzled.

56 0118p 11-13/08 > Agnes Grey - Anne Brontë
My first Anne, which I liked a good bit. Not so in-depth as Jane, or dramatic as Heathcliff & co, but it was sweet, a nice little story. Even if you can see the end coming from a mile away. ;)

57 0457p 13-21/08 > Rob Roy - Walter Scott (L)
I really liked this! I was a bit worried before I started it, and admittedly trudging through some of Andrew's rambling Scottish brogue was trying at times, but overall quite good.

Haven't done up the numbers yet >>

125kidzdoc
Aug 24, 2016, 2:00pm Top

I loved The Vegetarian, so I'll definitely be reading Human Acts.

126.Monkey.
Aug 24, 2016, 3:03pm Top

>125 kidzdoc: I'd considered requesting that one in the ER list, but the blurb for it made me a bit unsure; this one though sounded like something up my alley so I requested and won it and oh man, so glad I did, excellent stuff! Really powerful writing that drives home the important story she's telling.

127kidzdoc
Aug 24, 2016, 9:23pm Top

>126 .Monkey.: That sounds great. I can't remember if I requested an LT Early Reviewers copy of Human Acts or not, but I'll buy it if I don't win it.

128dchaikin
Aug 24, 2016, 9:44pm Top

.monk, it was nice to see your lists, and brief comments. You have been reading some great books.

129.Monkey.
Aug 25, 2016, 2:46am Top

Thanks, yeah there's been only a few that I've been a bit more ambivalent about, but mostly lots of real good stuff. :)) I'm also pleased with my total (58), it could be better but the past couple years I did not do well at all (last year only 30, the year before only 49+23 graphic novels), and now I'm on track to read more than I have in ages, plus I've been knocking out lots from the 1001 list. :D

I've been using Memrise to work on my Dutch, which has contributed to taking away a bit of LT time, but I'm hoping to work out that balance! :)

130valkyrdeath
Aug 25, 2016, 2:10pm Top

Lots of reading to catch up with there! Sounds like you've picked some really good books. I see quite a few that I've read and enjoyed recently myself on your list. You've also reminded me that I used to love the old Thin Man films and it had never occured to me until now that they were based on a book.

131AlisonY
Aug 25, 2016, 3:46pm Top

Enjoyed your recent reads. Sometimes a sentence or two works just as well as a longer review.

132.Monkey.
Edited: Aug 28, 2016, 7:31am Top

Yeah, I have to try to remember not to just leave it go entirely, just come post a little blurb about it if I don't feel "up to" writing proper reviews at the time. It's better than nothing! xP

And in that vein, I finished #58 The King in Yellow the other day because we're discussing it over in the TBR Challenge group, and so did write a quick short review:

A bit conflicted on this title. Another reviewer called the collection "uneven" and that says it pretty well.

Of the four actual "King in Yellow" stories, I thought two were pretty good, one wasn't bad, and one was not great. There is also a three page "story" filled with repetition that forced me to skim half the lines because holy crap irritating.
The other five stories are all romances, to one degree or another. Frankly, I think Lovecraft and the editor of my edition are both idiots when they claim Chambers a failure by taking the "easy route" of writing romances after not achieving the same sort of success in supernatural/horror after this work. Personally I found the romances to be better written than most of the rest in here. I am a huge horror fan; I do not read romances. But it was his romances that engaged me more and kept me intrigued. Therefore I would say he made the wise choice to do what he had the better talent for.

All in all, I'm glad to see what provided a big chunk of Lovecraft's inspiration, but I would hesitate to recommend this to a casual reader.

133.Monkey.
Edited: Aug 28, 2016, 7:31am Top


#59 Flight of the Falcon 277p; 25-26/08
This was great! My first du Maurier, and I am sold. I picked it up randomly from a little 2ndhand bookshop, figuring she's supposed to be so good for Rebecca, I may as well pick up this one they have and check it out. Really glad I did! After finishing #58 I wanted to pick up something I'd be a bit more into, and felt like I needed a woman, didn't want to fall behind on my women objective!, and that was the only one in the area I was looking, but I wasn't sure it'd be what I was in the mood for, so I pulled it out and opened it up.
We were right on time. Sunshine Tours informed its passengers on the printed itinerary that their coach was due at the Hotel Splendido, Rome, at approximately 1800 hours. Glancing at my watch, I saw that it wanted three minutes to the hour.
'You owe me five hundred lire,' I said to Beppo.
The driver grinned. 'We'll see about that in Naples,' he said. 'In Naples I shall present you with a bill for more than two thousand lire.'

Yep, I was definitely reading this! It's fairly rare that books really intrigue me from the very first line. I don't mind, I can spare a little time to get warmed up to the story as long as the writing is decent. But instant hook? Excellent! I was immediately curious. What were they on time for?! Oh, a tour, hm. Money? What? Why does he owe...ohh. I see ...I guess they must continue on further and keep betting... Annnd I was in. xD Who are these guys, why are they betting on this tour, who will wind up winning later!, and, what's going to happen on the way?! Hahaha. It's a pretty simple opening, but it drops you right into the middle of things and though it's nothing major going on, apparently a little bet between someone and a tour bus driver, it's somehow quite intriguing! It just works. At least it does for me. And if those first couple lines don't work to grab you, there are more significant things reaching for you within the next few pages that ought to do the job! xP

The reviews here are all over the place, a couple love it, a couple think it's drab junk, others think her writing is enough to keep interest but it's not her greatest. Well then! All I can say is, I really loved this book. In my opinion, it was great writing, a compelling plot, interesting characters, gripping intrigue, a mild hint of romance, a bit of mystery... The Manchester Evening News blurbed it "Du Maurier at her best," and I have no other du Maurier to compare it to, yet, so I can't say whether they (or the reviews here) are correct. But I barely put it down once I started, and I am excited to read more of du Maurier in the future.

134Caroline_McElwee
Aug 27, 2016, 1:39pm Top

>124 .Monkey.: book 45. Candide my problem with this was there was not a woman who hadn't been raped or ravaged. I read it earlier this year for my local book group (which in the end I was unable to attend). I'd also just read a more recent novel that used the storytelling/oral tradition style, and despite the Voltaire being its precursor, I'd had enough of the form.

135.Monkey.
Aug 27, 2016, 2:59pm Top

Well the time period it was written was not exactly known for its high treatment of women, heh. But indeed, that was one of its irritations. The other main one being that, frankly, it was just obnoxious & groan-worthy at various points. But it was also amusing in turns, and fast, so it didn't annoy me as much as it otherwise could have.

136valkyrdeath
Aug 27, 2016, 3:09pm Top

I think that was the point of Candide. Absolutely terrible things happened to every character as the philosopher still maintains his "best of all possible worlds" nonsense despite it all.

137.Monkey.
Aug 27, 2016, 3:24pm Top

Sort of. I mean that is the point, he's ridiculing that philosophy by taking it all to such extremes, but bad things can still happen to women that do not involve that.

138BonnieJune54
Edited: Aug 27, 2016, 7:23pm Top

>133 .Monkey.: I have this one. I should move it closer to the top of Mount TBR. Du Maurier varies a bit. Some are light and some are heavier. Sometimes more history and sometimes more romance.

139.Monkey.
Aug 28, 2016, 8:14am Top


#60 Dangerous Minds 278p; 26/08
One of the very few times I don't mind a movie tie-in cover, as I think the movie is fabulous, and also did good justice to the book. There was only one thing they really made up for the movie, and I feel like it helped to highlight the kind of world these kids come from, so I'm okay with that creation. They took nearly everything else straight from scenes recounted in the book, and the actors all brought the characters off the pages really well.

Anyway I imagine most folks know the gist, being a rather popular movie and all, even if not having watched it. New-to-teaching woman, ex-marine, gets stuck in the English class from hell that has already run off 3 subs in a week. Rather than screaming & breaking down, works wonders and gets their attention.

This book is not written as a linear story, but a series of incidents that took place over the course of a couple years. Some amusing, some touching, some disturbing. You can clearly see how much she cared about these kids, and how hard she worked to try and help them. Not just in the classroom, but as people, to grow and thrive. I'm quite glad there are people like her out there, helping mold impressionable young minds.


#61 Around the World in 80 Days 118p; 26-27/08
I have now read 6 of the 7 novels collected here, and this was certainly my favorite of them. There wasn't an overwhelming amount of scientific/historic stuff (I'm looking at you, 20k Leagues! Urgh!), only some small bits, and it kept active and interesting throughout, and nothing overly outlandish, either. I know there were moments in all the rest that made me groan either with boredom, or in annoyance of pages upon pages of information, which do not remotely further the story, or of "science" that was anything but. Also, only the most fleeting incidents with darker-skinned people, therefore no prolonged racism of savages to contend with (*side-eyes Five Weeks in a Balloon*) This one was just a kind of lively adventure with various mishaps and incidents along the way, and an ending that made me smile.

140dchaikin
Aug 28, 2016, 9:53am Top

>136 valkyrdeath: sounds like Voltaire had read his Euripides...

>139 .Monkey.: is your Jules Verne volume as lovely as the one pictured? Love that you're working through it.

141.Monkey.
Aug 28, 2016, 10:11am Top

Yup that's my volume (I only use/post covers that belong to my editions. :P), it's one of the Barnes & Noble "Leatherbounds" editions, which I absolutely adore. I have the "Seven Novels" versions of Jane Austen and HG Wells also, along with HP Lovecraft's Complete Fiction, Alice (of Wonderland fame) & Other Stories, Narnia, Dorian Gray & Other Stories, and Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales volumes. :D

I'd started it for my TBR Challenge back in 2013, because I wanted to knock out Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, which I had actually acquired earlier on in a single volume. But then I got this one, and so of course I had to read them in order, and go through Five Weeks in a Balloon, Journey to the Center of the Earth, From the Earth to the Moon, and Round the Moon before I could get to that one. By which point I said ENOUGH! lmao, and planned to finish the last two some time later on in 2014...buuuuut it never happened. And then I was looking for another quick read and went OH HEY there's still those last two left! xP I'm hoping to read the last (Mysterious Island) either next month or October. :)

142baswood
Aug 28, 2016, 1:42pm Top

What a nice idea to read those Jules Verne novels in that marvellous looking book.

143Simone2
Sep 11, 2016, 1:53am Top

Catching up and enjoying your reviews - also the short ones. Lots of 1001s I haven't read yet and two more books to add to my wishlist: the DuMaurier (I love all her books) and the Han Kang. After The Vegetarian I have been looking forward to reading more by her.

144.Monkey.
Sep 11, 2016, 4:19pm Top

Thanks :) Yeah I definitely recommend getting Human Acts when it comes out!

Meanwhile mom arrived in town on the 3rd so since the month started I've been busy (cleaning/sorting beforehand) doing stuff with her, zero time for reading (not to mention LTing!), we've even only been on the train once, to Liège, the rest of the days have been spent doing stuff around here, and today we drove up to Bergen op Zoom/Halsteren (Fort de Roovere) to check out the Mosesbrug (and roam the cities), and also Willemstad - one of the few fortress cities still left intact. So yeah, not much of any book stuff till she leaves in another week.
BUT I did bring home a couple stacks! xD Bought a whole bunch from De Slegte a week ago, a handful of which were "ex bibliotheca Jef Geeraerts," a quite famous Belgian author (from Antwerpen) who died about a year ago, so I guess his family? must have sold/gifted his library, or at least the run-of-the-mill part, to them. Then yesterday I got another stack, including 2 omnibuses (Kipling and Graham Greene) that are in the same ...publisher series or whatever, same style, as the EM Forster I got from De Slegte a long while back, yay matching! xP I haven't had a chance to add in this latest stack to my catalog yet, probably tomorrow I'll get some time. :)

145Simone2
Sep 12, 2016, 7:15am Top

>144 .Monkey.: Well, it is being published, I could order it on Bol.com!

You are doing a lot of nice things with your mom! I spent the weekend in Belgium, in Forville to be precise. Lovely surroundings there. I have to admit I only ever visit the cities there (Brussels, Antwerp, Brugge, Gent), but I was very impressed with the countryside this weekend. So French!

146.Monkey.
Sep 12, 2016, 5:08pm Top

We're off to Gent on Weds, because she wants her poffertjes and I'm not sure of anywhere in the city that may have them, lmao. There was this awesome little place, Otto's, but he disappeared :( and I'm not sure if there's anywhere else. But there's a cart that's in Gent, that goes to the Korenmarkt every Weds, so we're trekking over there for that, lol.
Last year we went down to Namur for 3 days, lovely area down there! I prefer my Flanders, though. xP

147.Monkey.
Sep 19, 2016, 5:24am Top

Mother has left, two books have been finished, woo! Lol. Also realized I forgot to post about the one I finished a few days prior to her arrival. So.


#62 Villette - Charlotte Brontë 0346p; 27-29/08
Great read, except I hated the ambiguous ending! But I could relate to a lot of Lucy, and even though I could see two of the big things coming a mile away, I really enjoyed settling in and getting cozy with all the characters while waiting for them to finally happen, lol.


#63 King Rat - James Clavell 0346p; 29/8-17/9
It took me a little bit to really get into this story; initially the characters are all rather unlikeable and it's not until you really sink in to it that the intricacies of the camp life kind of settle things out a bit, and also you are introduced to more characters, who aren't off-putting, heh. It only makes sense that where thousands of men have been locked into a camp of enemy combatants, for several years, and are half-starved, half-naked, etc, that tensions are high and there's a lot of animosity to be found. And so for me, the beginning wasn't so grabbing. But when I look back on it, I do think it worked to set the overall stage, so, I can't really begrudge it much. Anyway the story that follows is interesting, at times amusing, thoughtful, disturbing, suspenseful, insightful...


#64 The Dark - James Herbert 0330p; 17-18/09
Fast read because I wasn't feeling quite up to Dickens with almost no sleep, lol. His writing isn't anything brilliant, but the story is interesting and the tension is kept nicely elevated, and I quite liked the main trio of characters. Only the single main protagonist was truly fleshed out, the other two were supporting and not given the same treatment, but you have the impression that you know them better and that they're good solid people. The ending wasn't the strongest point, but it was alright. Overall enjoyable, would recommend as a quick suspenseful read when something less demanding is desired. ;)

148Cecrow
Sep 19, 2016, 7:27am Top

I've read all of James Clavell's Asian Saga, loved it. King Rat is a bit of an anomaly though, for being very personal to the author (he was a POW himself) and not focussed on high finance like much of the rest.

149.Monkey.
Sep 19, 2016, 8:18am Top

Ah was he, that makes sense, the way the camp was written about did feel quite real. I have Noble House, just picked it up last time at the store (part of my 2nd haul mentioned a few posts up :P); I know at least one of the other titles they had also, guess I will try to get this one read sooner than later so I could pick that one up if it turns out I like Noble House, lol.

150Caroline_McElwee
Sep 19, 2016, 10:12am Top

I enjoyed The Shogun when I read it way back when, though if I remember rightly, it took a 100 pages before I really sank into it, fortunately I'd been warned by a friend of the possibility.

There was a tv series of the book in the 1980s, with Richard Chamberlin in the lead.

151.Monkey.
Sep 19, 2016, 10:18am Top

Well if everyone thinks they're worthwhile I may just have to make my way over to the shop before I even read the other one I've got! ;P

152Cecrow
Sep 19, 2016, 10:29am Top

Shogun can be read independently, like King Rat, but there's advantage to reading the rest in chronological order: Tai-Pan > Gai-Jin > Noble House > Whirlwind. Noble House offers a better "ending" than Whirlwind, but I really liked the latter's Iranian revolution story.

153.Monkey.
Edited: Dec 13, 2016, 5:23am Top

Oh dear, I fell way behind again. I'm reading book 76 now! Time to post some stuff! :P


#65 Pickwick Papers - Charles Dickens 0757p; 18/9-2/10
Slow start, but really excellent once it got going.


#66 Stone - Adam Roberts 0263p; 02-04/10
I gave the plot 3.5★s and the writing 2★s. I kept reading it because I was curious about the storyline, which did interest me. However, there was a lot of sludge in the writing. I can only guess Roberts was trying to prove himself a write of "hard scifi" or some such, because there was a lot of senseless "factual" science-type information scattered around, and plenty of repetition amongst this "data" the reader is provided. For no reason at all. It doesn't help with the story, it doesn't move the plot along, it slows it down and takes you out of the story. The ending... I suppose it was alright, but after a whole book of trying to figure out the who/why of it, it felt a bit like a let-down to me. I'm also admittedly a bit concerned with his ideas about relationships/sex. E.g. "Imagine yourself rattled with another stone, a smooth marble pebble of white milky coloration - imagine that, you and this other pebble cupped between two hands and rattled and shaken together, so that you clack and bounce off one another. That's something like it. Then imagine you and this fellow-stone were tossed together into the furnace, so hot a furnace that your brittly-tough layer of oxidised skin melts away, and the igneous rock-substance out of which you are made goes gluey and runs and deliquesces in the heat; as your lava mixes and flows with the lava of your fellow stone." Also, that a utopia means everything is chill and casual therefore everything revolves around sex.
There were some interesting aspects to this story but overall, I would be hard-pressed to recommend it.


#67 The Black Shrike - Alistair MacLean 0219p; 09-12/11
I absolutely love Alistair MacLean. His books are fast-paced, full of action, usually with a mystery to try and figure out in the midst of it. Sure, the women in his books could have used some work, but I don't have trouble taking his books for what they were - a good ride! Generally you know when you read them that while maybe not everyone makes it out, the hero will save the day and it's all wrapped with a nice pretty bow.
Unfortunately, this particular one didn't work so well for me. More qualms about the female sidekick than usual, combined with the ending, left me feeling less than stellar. I read his books for a reason, dammit, and this one just didn't deliver. The plot was fine, though, as interesting (and implausible ;P) as usual.


#68 The Satan Bug - Alistair MacLean 0218p; 13-13/11
So of course, I had to read another to make up for it! xP This one, thankfully, delivered as usual!


#69 Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe 0310p; 02-16/11
Boy oh boy I am not a Defoe fan!! The sad part is his stories were actually fairly interesting ...if only he didn't shove them full of the religious oh noes I was being an awful sinner and I got what I deserved and god forgive my evil ways etc etc, particularly when the people were merely trying to live their lives as they thought they should. It drives me bonkers and there is so much of it!! Agh.

154.Monkey.
Edited: Dec 13, 2016, 5:54am Top


#70 Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Brontë 0302p; 16-19/11
This was SO GOOD. And I am so glad that, in spite of the reception she surely knew it would get (even Charlotte was angry about her writing it! pff), that she felt it was something she had to write. The fact that this was actually the plight of women back then... abominable. Everyone should read it!


#71 The Professor - Charlotte Brontë 0155p; 19-21/11
The endless French in this was a bit maddening, but overall good story.


#72 Les Misérables - Victor Hugo 1472p; 3/1-6/12
Well it took me all year (with a 10 month break in the middle xP), reading in Jan and then late Nov/early Dec, but I finally got it done! Really excellent book, and I mostly didn't even mind the tangents so much, except that I know next to nothing about French history so much of it was just entirely wasted/lost on me. The end was a killer, though, so heart-wrenching, for like 50 pages straight!


#73 Hell House - Richard Matheson 0293p; 06-07/12
This was, unsurprisingly, really good. Matheson knew how to tell a good story, and how to build suspense. The ending worked well, I can't really fault it for anything, but somehow it just didn't quite do it for me, hence the 4 rather than 4.5.


#74 And We Are Not Saved - Derrick Bell 0275p; 07-10/12
Bell uses an interesting way to frame the race issues the US has been struggling with ...well, for as long as it has been a country. Lots of facts (and cases) cited, but within a frame of "chronicles" so as to be engaging rather than dry reading.
My main "issue" with it is that it's a bit (read: a very lot) depressing to think about, particularly because in the end it offers no real solution - which is not the fault of the author, but of the subject. Sadly, there is no viable solution other than for folks to simply keep trying to strive for equality. But reading defenses with cases cited as "proof" for why scenarios that ought to offer up a viable path to change, wouldn't... it's just kind of crushing. Especially with it now having been about 30 years since this book was written, and nothing has changed. Yes, a black man was elected president, but look at the mass of racism that elicited, and the man that is following him into office. :|

Overall, even with a few bits & pieces being a little dated, the actual content is still completely relevant (and the dated bits are just old numbers, so they still matter, it's just that it'd be nice to see what the comparison is for present day), so, still recommended for those interested in race issues in the US.


#75 Renfield: Slave of Dracula - Barbara Hambly 0291p; 10-12/12
This was the second Renfield's take on Dracula that I've read, and frankly the other one was much better. The glaring issue in this one was that Hambly, for some ungodly reason, decided that Van Helsing, though incredibly educated in all sorts of scientific/medical things and knowing multiple languages (and I don't just mean canonically, I mean she has him able to speak them!), would speak English in some bizarre broken nonsense that was not only absurd and breaking with the Van Helsing speech in Dracula, but also just plain made no sense!! Oh, and he would also speak like 2 lines of regular English before turning gibberish. Ridiculous! So not only would it jar me out of the story every time he would speak/think, but I came to anticipate his presence with fear. Ohgod is he going to be in this scene, is he going to speak, please let it be short! what nonsense is she going to force out of his mouth now?! and so forth. It was absolutely awful! Thankfully, it does not happen all too frequently. This is all the more irritating because I think her take on his story was somewhat interesting, and had the book not been soured by this absurdity I'd have given it at least 3.5. The other thing preventing me from giving it another half-star was the other irritating aspect of Van Helsing -- apparently he now has near-crippling lust for lady-vamps. Yeeeep.

155bragan
Dec 13, 2016, 5:13pm Top

>153 .Monkey.: I am so glad I'm not the only one who feels that way about Robinson Crusoe.

156jjmcgaffey
Dec 14, 2016, 1:37am Top

>153 .Monkey.:, >155 bragan: Yes, that's a book that actually benefits from a good abridging - most books lose things when they're abridged, but I've read one abridged version of Robinson Crusoe that had all the good stuff and - not none, but much much less of the angst. Unfortunately I read it about 40 years ago and promptly lost the book, and have no idea who it was by. I've read the full version since, and mostly what I recall is greeting old favorite scenes with delight when they showed up among the sludge.

157Cecrow
Dec 14, 2016, 7:27am Top

I read it as a young teenager, must have been an abridged copy. Wasn't any fun, is all I can tell you now. Can't remember why I bothered. No intention to revisit, lol.

158.Monkey.
Dec 14, 2016, 8:01am Top

>155 bragan: Lol you are so not alone!

>156 jjmcgaffey: Exactly, that was what I said to my husband, haha. I hate abridgments but in his case I think it is really needed and would make it decent!

>157 Cecrow: No, no revisiting!! XD

159valkyrdeath
Dec 14, 2016, 5:45pm Top

Alistair MacLean and Richard Matheson are two authors I like to return to every so often knowing that whatever problems the books might have, I'm still almost guaranteed a good story. I've just realised there's a MacLean book on my shelf that I haven't read yet. I'm hoping to get to The Tenant of Wildfell Hall in the new year too, so your review has made me look forward to it even more!

160.Monkey.
Dec 16, 2016, 5:13pm Top

>159 valkyrdeath: Yes exactly!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! I don't think that her writing itself was quite at Charlotte's level (Charlotte was a phenomenal writer!), but I think the story she told makes up for any little things in the writing that are imperfect. So good. I'm sad I've only got one Brontë story left to go, hahaha.

161avidmom
Dec 22, 2016, 1:11am Top

Wow! You made it all the way through "Les Mis..." AND read other stuff! That's quite a feat!

Enjoyed all those lovely reviews!

162.Monkey.
Dec 22, 2016, 5:29am Top

Hahaha I did! I just finished book 79! I'm actually gonna hit 80 this year!! :O :D

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