Bookoholic13's 2010 Category Challenge
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I'm going to aim for the full monty (101010), but I might end up doing something like the stepladder version. Here are the categories (as they stand now).
1. Israeli writers - CATEGORY COMPLETED
2. Orbis Terrarum Challenge 2010 - CATEGORY COMPLETED
3. Books that have no reviews on LT yet - CATEGORY COMPLETED
4. Non-fiction - CATEGORY COMPLETED
5. YA novels - CATEGORY COMPLETED
6. Graphic novels - CATEGORY COMPLETED
7. Read on Vacation - CATEGORY COMPLETED
8. Nordic writers (Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, or Icelandic) - CATEGORY COMPLETED
9. Mystery & Thrillers - changed from
10. "Whatevers" found in my bookshelves - CATEGORY COMPLETED
I NEED to put a dent in my TBR-piles!!
Thanks to bfertig for the picture-idea!
Israeli writers - Finished 7 of 10
Orbis Terrarum Challenge 2010 - CATEGORY COMPLETED
Books that have no reviews on LT yet - CATEGORY COMPLETED
Non-fiction - CATEGORY COMPLETED
YA novels - CATEGORY COMPLETED
Graphic novels - CATEGORY COMPLETED
Read on Vacation - CATEGORY COMPLETED
Nordic writers (Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, or Icelandic) - CATEGORY COMPLETED
Mystery & Thrillers - changed from
"Whatevers" found in my bookshelves - CATEGORY COMPLETED
Always a good category! Now, I just need to go finish the one I have in the 999! :)
I like the "books that have no reviews on LT" category. Interesting and public-minded all at once.
That was one of my 999 categories too and I really liked it. It only backfired when someone posted a review while I was reading a book for the category! :)
Forgive my ignorance, but what does category 2 mean?
I've been lurking on all the threads here, considering whether I am disciplined enough to join this challenge, and enjoying all the creative and interesting categories you are all coming up with. Can't wait to see the categories filled in with book titles. (Or maybe I can--I have more than 300 books on my tbr shelf)
You should definitely join in over here! You can always "massage" your categories during the year to fit what you're reading - they can be as wide or narrow as you want them to be. It's a good crowd to chat about your reads with too!
Question regarding category 2: It's never ignorance if you actually ask - only if you don't! :) Orbis Terrarum is a challenge that is hosted at a Blogspot blog where you read 10 different books, written by 10 different authors, from 10 different countries. It's really fun and helps with with my personal challenge to (eventually) read a book from each country in the world.
The challenge "lives" over here if you're interested:
LOL. Yeah, I was chuckling to myself when I started planning next year's books and realized that I should probably get reading this year's books instead... :)
17 - That sounds like fun! I joined the Endless Europe Challenge here, to read a book from each European country, and I'm doing the 50 states challenge, but I think I'll stick to those, before attempting the whole world!
Oh, Endless Europe looks fun! I didn't know about the group and I'll watch it for now, but you might see me over there!!
Hej, great looking list there! You're in for a real treat with Johanna Sinisalo's book. I've recommended it to some people doing myth and folklore for their 1010. Really haunting and lingering book that one!
I've heard odd things about the Swedish translation, so I'm hoping that the English one is different. Might just be that Finnish vernacular is odd in translation... I'm looking forward to reading it!
That one looks good! I'll try and pick up a Swedish copy when I go home next. Usually Danish and Norwegian books are better in the Swedish translation than in English (although I understand both Norwegian and Danish, I don't think I can read a whole novel in either language, unfortunately). Thanks for the recommendation!
@#25 It was some three or four years since I read it, but I don't recall having a beef with the swedish translation. What are the oddities you've heard? Just bad, or what?
I just can't remember who talked about it, but now I'm thinking it may have been someone who wasn't used to Finnish syntax, etc. I don't think the person thought it was bad per se, just odd. Maybe I'll pick up another copy when I go to Sweden this fall - is it called Troll in Swedish too?
It's called "Bara sedan solen sjunkit". The swedish paperback is actually very stylish.
That sounds more like a book John Ajvide Lindqvist would write. :) I saw the Månpocket cover with the bottle - it's so funny that that's the same book. If you compare the covers and titles of the US and Swedish versions, you'd never think it was the same book, or even books in the same genre!
Thanks for the second for the Celtic Design Book. It definitely looks interesting and I like an art based challenge as a way of getting off the computer.
I will be popping back to follow that Nordic writers category. In translation. :)
Well, some of them I'll be reading in Swedish, but I do write my reviews in English... :)
Hi, I am going to stop reading these threads too many great categories with too many distracting book ideas! Thats the 2nd time I have seen Troll: A Love Story mentioned in the group, I really want to check it out now!
Yeah, the threads are fun, but they do cause the "oh I want to read that and oh I want to read that and oh I want to read that"-muscle to twitch a bit!!
I'm desperately trying to put a dent in my TBR-books that I already own. For the 999 I managed semi-well - hopefully I'll do better in the 1010! :)
Checked in for the first time in a while. So glad to see you're reading Satrapi's Persepolis. Like Sacco did for the Balkans, that book taught me pretty much everything I know about persian modern history. And on top of that it's funny and sweet and angry and beautiful.
I saw the movie and thought I had read the book... It was only when I was searching the bookshelf for books for the challenge that I realized that I hadn't! :)
I tried Sacco for Balkans, but I just couldn't get into it, even though I thought Palestine was good. I'll try it again some day!
I've finally signed up for this challenge and also have an Israeli fiction category. I like your picture headings, I'm doing that too after seeing it done on a few of the 999 challenges recently.
I've already had to wishlist one of your books! Troll: a love story sounds too good to pass on.
Yey - good to see you here! The hunt for the pics are almost as fun as hunting for the books for each category. :) Yeah, that Troll: A Love Story has been recommended to me so many times! And, as you can see, SqueakyChu approves, so it must be good!! LOL
great pictures! I like the screen shot of a reviewless work on LT! I hope you'll fill in that gap!
We Look Like the Enemy: The Hidden Story of Israel's Jews from Arab Lands by Rachel Shabi
It is obvious that Rachel Shabi is a talented journalist - her investigation into the history and experiences of Jews from Arab countries is well-written and thought provoking. She covers many areas of Israeli life from politics to music to language to religion, pointing out how Jews originating from Arab countries have been discriminated against in Israel. He stories are eye-opening in many ways and very sad in others. Naturally, one would like to believe that the (still) widespread anti-Semitism that exists in the world would cause Jews to band together, regardless of their individual national origin, but, as Shabi shows, this is not always true and her book is an enlightening and sometimes painful read.
A few problems with her exposé do exist. For example, she talks about how the "Mizrahi" accent of Hebrew is not the prevalent accent in Israel today and somehow makes this a part of her discrimination point, at the same time as she clearly shows how the creators meant for it to be the official accent. She concedes how difficult gutturals are to learn for people who have not had them as children and somehow means that this is the fault of the Ashkenazi community. I must admit, I am a bit bemused about her argument in this particular chapter and will concede that I may have completely misunderstood her, but, as far as I know, language is alive and will mold itself to the people's needs and people tend to do what is easiest for communicating, rather that trying to achieve some ideal goal of what "should be." I personally disagree with her statement that Hebrew in its current state is less than beautiful, but that's not a criticism of her point, it's rather a statement of my own love for the language.
The main problem, from my point of view, is her thesis that without the creation of Israel, Jews from Arab countries would have lived peacefully in their "home countries" to this very day. She may be right; had Israel never been created, countries like Iran may have been embracing their Jewish citizens (although, considering the situation of the world today, I doubt it), but she fails to empathize with the Jews who did need Israel desperately, i.e. the Europeans and Russians who were (almost literally) exterminated at the time. She emphasizes how the Zionist movement only had Ashkenazi Jews in mind when they created what would become Israel and chides them for not taking Middle Eastern Jews into account, at the same time as she points out that Middle Eastern Jews at the time had no need for help - they were apparently living well where they were.
Shabi's motivation for her writing is clearly anger at how her people have been treated in Israel, but when making her passionate plea for justice she sometimes resorts to less than objective reasoning to get her point across. It's a shame, since in letting that anger color her judgment, she may alienate many readers who would have benefited from her tale. I think that Shabi's work, even with its flaws, will become an important read for anyone interested in the subject, and along with a longer reading list, will hopefully help shape current thoughts about Israeli society. There's one thing she's absolutely right about: there is never a bad time to point out social injustice and a country's potential betterment of itself is always a good thing.
The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy
In the Bible (Judges 4-5), Deborah and Barak's accomplishments are told twice, once in prose and one in poetry form. In The Triumph of Deborah, the prophetess and her warrior are brought to life with a plethora of details, complete with flaws and personality quirks, which resulted in an (for me) unexpectedly fun read. I'm not an avid Bible-reader and their story was only one of a multitude when I first read it, but Etzioni-Halevy really manages to conjure up a time and a place long since gone in a way that invites the reader and makes us taste the desert dust along with the characters.
In places, the novel is more romance novel than historical novel (especially when it comes to Barak's "adventures"), but it works as both. The historical parts mainly caught my attention and brought me into the life of these intriguing people. The details of society and the various customs were very well described and it's obvious that the writer knows her history (and her country) well. Couple that with her easy voice and you have a story that flows so well that the hours just run by as you keep turning the pages. I reread the Judges chapters after finishing this novel and the story just has so much more meaning now - regardless that Etzioni-Halevy's book is fiction. She has written about Ruth and Hannah previously and I hope she continues writing about Biblical women.
If your genre is historical romance novels, this is one you should run out and buy! If you're not a fan of the romance, just flip the page when the saucy stuff comes along and you will still be treated to an intriguing look into life in Biblical times. At times, the "Harlequin" level got a little too high for my taste (too much of the "heaving bosoms" stuff), but I skimmed those parts and still enjoyed the ride very much - I'm looking forward to reading more of Etzioni-Halevy.
I put We look like the enemy on my tbr pile after break mentioned it earlier this year on her 75 book challenge thread, then she reviewed it and I've been really keen to read it since then. Your review is great and increases my desire to read this - it will provide a great deal of discussion with my husband, who grew up in Tel Aviv and has a wide variety of friends from all backgrounds.
I'll look out for The Triumph of Deborah since I've enjoyed The Red Tent and Marek Halter's biblical novels.
I've just finished reading A Pigeon and a boy and thought it was really great.
Reading We look like the enemy was really interesting and I do recommend it. It was a long time since I had so many sticky-noted protruding from the pages of a book once I had finished it! Some with exclamation points, some with question marks, some with squiggly-faces (my way of noting that I'm puzzled...). It'll be interesting to see what you think!
I really liked The Triumph of Deborah. Like I said, it has quite a few romance novels bits (Barak gets around!) that weren't my speed, but you can skip those. :)
Oh, I am glad you liked A Pigeon and a Boy!! Meir Shalev is one of my favorite writers - to the point that I'm working my way through his children's books in Hebrew! (It's not going fast...!)
Of Guns and Mules by David Lawrence-Young
This is an historical novel about the ZMC, the Zion Mule Corps, and their contributions to the battle of Gallipoli and the effort to drive the Turks out of the Middle East. It's more of an historical account told in fictional form, though. In fact, it reads mainly like a memoir and if I had been told that David Levi, the main character, was an historical person that had simply recounted his tale to the author, I would not have been surprised. The author's knowledge of history makes for a story that rings more true than a "regular" historical novel, and instead of a fiction-writer's poetic flourishes, Lawrence-Young's story recounts the less than poetic experiences of these young heroes of “pre-Israel.” The story is the better for it, I think - I felt like I got a real taste of the dust and the anguish they lived through rather than an emotional experience - especially since I just returned from a trip to Israel where I traveled to some of the areas mentioned in this novel and I know just how true the author got his descriptions of the land. The story ends at the demobilization of the Jewish Legion, but if (as I hope) the author decides to write about the Haganah in a similar fashion, I will definitely read on.
Love your review of Guns and Mules, it is now on my TBR pile. It sounds fascinating!
It's a fairly thin book and a quick read, but I really enjoyed learning - it's honestly more like a short historybook than a novel and I'm not sure I would have picked up a historybook... :) It's a Gefen book, so it may be on the LTER next month - look out for it!
Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
Using the Sleeping Beauty fairytale to talk about the Holocaust is quite a clever move since most of Europe (and the world) was "asleep" before and during the war. The first part of Yolen's story deals with Becca's attempts to investigate her grandmother's history, a history the grandmother herself seems to have repressed. The second part tells the story of the extermination camp in Chelmno and the freedom fighters who tried to liberate its prisoners. Of the two, the second story is definitely the more heartfelt one, not only because of the topic, but because its storyteller, Joseph, is a much rounder person than the other characters. Though this is currently marketed as a YA-novel, the account of the camp and the murders that took place there are important for everyone to read, adults as well as older teenagers.
The Collaborator of Bethlehem by Matt Beynon Rees
Normally, a story that takes place in Israel and involves its Arab population will concentrate on the struggle between the two peoples. Although that struggle is part of this story, it is not at the forefront. Rather, Rees concentrates on the internal dealings of the Palestinians in Bethlehem. Due to his having lived extensively in Israel, Rees has a lot of insight into the life of this population and it shows. The reader is introduced to characters who could easily have stepped straight off any Israeli street. Rees also uses real events and crimes in his story, although he weaves a completely fictional story around them, which creates an urgency and a sadness I don't often see in regular mysteries. The outcome is different than most other stories: although the mystery is solved and the murderer revealed, true justice may not prevail. Our "detective" is also not a police officer, but rather an old school-teacher whose emotional ties to his people and his family and friends make him take on the role of justice-seeker. It is a moral choice for him rather than an ethical and his own fragility raises the stakes of the story sky high.
Jar City by Arnaldur Indriðason
Despite a slightly awkward translation, Indriðason's story is a captivating read. The climate is bleak and the landscape grey, and so are the characters and the crimes. This is the third book in the series about Detective Erlendur, but the first translated into English. Despite this, the reader hits the ground running with the main character who, with his drab personal life, his drug-addicted daughter, and absentee son, is very believable as a regular human - no supernatural powers or gut feelings here, not even a "standard" detective quirk. The secondary characters are a little flat, but hopefully that'll be rectified in subsequent books. Since I've been to Reykjavik, I didn't have a problem with the scarce descriptions of the place, but it would have been nice to see a little more of the landscape. I've heard that subsequent books are even better than this one, so I'll definitely be reading the rest of the series.
Ribbons for Their Hair by Estelle Chasen
Although described as a mystery, that part of the story is not too sophisticated and the riddle is easily solved by an attentive reader. However, it isn't first and foremost a detective story. There are two parallel tales, one which takes the reader on a tour of post-war Greece and its Jewish population (or what is left of it). The other shows contemporary Israel and an orthodox community in Netanya where keeping the community intact seems more important than the safety of its individual members.
Chasen is a skillful storyteller and, although her voice isn't too distinct, her knowledge of history and her proficient characterization makes for quite an enjoyable read. I would have wished that the mystery part wasn't solved so quickly and easily and that it played a larger part in the overall narrative than the romantic storyline, but for what it is, I think Chasen does a very capable job with her story.
Sweet Dates in Basra by Jessica Jiji
This story starts off a little rocky with a barrage of characters introduced (a family tree would have helped) and the political events of the time are merely hinted at so that it's a little difficult to get oriented. Once you have the characters in place, though, what plays out is a beautiful, and sometimes terrible, tale about a culture in which violating societal norms can cost you dearly, and not only you; your actions can hurt and even ruin those you love the most.
At its core are a problematic love story and, peripherally, the situation of Iraqi Jews at the middle of the 20th century. The two families at the forefront, one Jewish, the other Muslim, are bound together not only by their adjoining courtyards, but by their neighborly love for one another. The fact that they have different religions matters little - they both take from each other's cultures and give of their own. It's the love for family that binds them together, regardless of any political and worldly agenda.
Jiji has loosely based her story around her father's experiences and it shows - there is an authenticity to her characters and place that is difficult to fake. A few times she looks like she will be coming close to being sentimental, but she pulls back just in time and is true to her characters without the story becoming implausible. The depiction of cultural norms, the emphasis on honor (to the point of death), the conniving and bickering, along with the smells and sounds of the shuk, the war, and the Farhud are all skillfully woven together to tell a tale about love and friendship that rises above religion, culture or political perspective.
A Man and a Woman and a Man (org. Ish ve-ishah ve-ish) by Savyon Liebrecht
It's obvious that Liebrecht is primarily a short story-writer. Her novel reads like a very long short story rather than a novel; every little item carries some meaning and although it's fantastically well written, it makes for a very slow read. Make sure to read this when there is time to ponder every detail in the novel and you'll be rewarded with a psychologically intense and heartfelt tale about a woman's way of dealing with the loss of her mother's mind and the upheaval in her own life.
If You Awaken Love (org. Simha gdola bashamayim) by Emuna Elon
Although Shlomtzion's religious fervor and the reason she gives it up is somewhat implausible to me, Elon's story is still a strong story about the power of love and the repercussions of choosing reason over love and vice versa. She manages to write a story about history, culture, and politics (personal as well as national), in a lyrical way that catches the imagination and makes you care for all her characters, whether you agree with them or not.
Silence of the Grave (org. Grafarþögn) by Arnaldur Indriðason
This is the second book I've read about Inspector Erlendur and it's even better than the first. We get more of the bleak Icelandic landscape which I was wanting more of from the first book. We also get a better view into the Erlendur's life and the lives of the secondary characters which makes for a fleshier read (and Erlendur is still eating his sheep heads, which makes me happy...). The investigated crime is quite gruesome and it makes for a fantastic read when you're just hoping that the "bad guy" gets punished in the worst possible way.
Fladdermusmannen (org. Flaggermusmannen) by Jo Nesbø
Apologies to you English-speakers - for some reason, Nesbø's two first books in the Harry Hole-series were never translated into English.
Jag har ju förstås hört en massa om Nesbø, så jag började med den första i serien om Harry Hole och den är ganska bra. Mycket intressant att läsa om Australiens kultur, men mysteriet är väl inte lika engagerande och Hole vet jag inte än om jag är så förtjust i. Det är en riktigt bra debutroman dock och jag har Amerikanska vänner som läser de senare delarna och rekommenderar dem, så resten av böckerna har redan "beställts" av min mamma att skicka över till mig - inte en chans att jag läser nordiska romaner på engelska om jag kan slippa (gjorde det misstaget med Mankell och störde mig på konstiga översättningar av svenska idiom)! :)
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
It takes a while for the story to really get going since most of the book is a setup of the Uglies/Pretties' society and of Tally's character. Once it gets going, though, it's one of the better YA fantasy novels I've read in a while. The characters are believable for their age and the message about physical beauty comes through without being too heavy-handed. Not really a bad idea, either - if everyone looked the same, it'd be impossible to discriminate against people based on their appearance.
Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
Tally's story continues in this second part of the trilogy, but from another angle - she's now a Pretty. The key characteristic of Tally's personality, her mental strength, is what carries this installment forward and her mind is really put to the test against the operation. Again, the characters are well-rounded and the stakes are high.
Specials by Scott Westerfeld
In the last part of the trilogy, Tally is now a Special and, again, her mental capability lets her overcome the effects of this new operation. The key story in this installment is Tally's internal struggle with figuring out who's friend and who's foe among the different phalanges.
Extras by Scott Westerfeld
Written as an addition to the trilogy (apparently at the request of Westerfeld's readers), this book takes place in an un-named Asian part of the country where fame (or indeed, infamy) means everything. It's not quite up to par with its predecessors, but an interesting read nonetheless. As with the first part of the series, much of the book is setup, so the pace is a little slower, but when it does pick up, it's a good read for anyone who likes YA.
Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Quite possibly, my expectations of this were too high as it has been so acclaimed. The idea is interesting, but unfortunately, it fell short for me. The characters seem like cardboard cutouts that are only in the story to carry certain points forward - I felt very little true emotion from them. Also, the supernatural parts - Susie's "heaven" - just didn't ring true for me. I even expected it to end with her waking up and it all having been a dream, the afterlife is so unimaginative and seemed more the fantasy of a child than a real place. I wish I could find redeeming points about this book, but it was clearly not for me.
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
I reread this at least once a year. It's genius. If nothing else than as a reminder that sometimes it's indeed better to choose to "die behind the chemical sheds."
Kackerlackorna (org. Kakerlakkene) by Jo Nesbø
Apologies to you English-speakers - for some reason, Nesbø's two first books in the Harry Hole-series were never translated into English.
Andra boken jag läser om Harry Hole och nu börjar jag fatta varför karaktären är kul - OK, han verkar fortfarande vara standard-deckaren med alkohol-problem, men han har humor och kan driva med sig själv och det uppskattas ju alltid! Beskrivningarna av Bangkok är superba och fallet intressant, även om vissa delar är lite överdrivna. Jag gillar också att Nesbø inte tvekar att ha ihjäl huvudpersoner för det håller läsaren på tårna - inte som Star Trek där bara de med avvikande tröjfärg dör. Jag kan förstå att den inte blivit översatt till engelska - den ger ju inte ett så bra intryck av Norrmän. :)
Almost Dead (org. Tanin pigua) by Assaf Gavron
This is easily the best book I've read so far this year. Gavron has written a book that is not only insightful about Israeli society and its nemesis, suicide bombers, but one that is also quite funny, weird as that sounds. Every other chapter is told from Israeli Eitan's view point as he somehow manages to avoid one suicide attack after another. The other part is told by Fahmi, a Palestinian suicide bomber who, after his attack, hovers between life and death at an Israeli hospital where his muddled brain makes him reminiscence about his childhood and youth in the West Bank. Different as these two viewpoints seem, they converge throughout the story and, regardless of your personal views, Gavron manages to make both become comprehensible and as close to logical as may be possible.
Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
I was worried about this book since I've read a few reviews that describe the main character, 11-year-old Flavia, as "precocious" and that usually mean "cutesy" in an 11-year-old. However, as I soon found out, Flavia is a great character. Sure, she is indeed precocious, but there's nothing cutesy about her - she's clever and witty and, most importantly, quite funny, and it was great spending time with her. The mystery is engaging and the stakes are high enough to keep the reader interested. Bradley's descriptions of the English countryside and its houses are also spot-on, which is especially impressive since, as I later found out, he didn't actually visit England until after the book was published. I'd highly recommend this to anyone who likes cozy mysteries.
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
This is a very clever little book about a totalitarian society and the people who join the resistance movement against the oppressive leaders. You'd think that a 200-page book about such a vast subject would be quite shallow, but Dunn does very well in telling his tale in very few words (and a decreasing number of the alphabet's letters...). While I wouldn't call it a masterpiece in any way, the idea is solid, the characters are heartfelt, and the stakes for the resistance are as high as they can be.
I also really enjoyed The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. The second book, The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag was also very good. Maybe not quite as good as the first, but isn't that usually the way? I can't believe how mean her sisters are! Flavia is such a fun character. You really can't tell if she's a mad scientist or a prize-winning chemist in the making. It could go either way!
Yes, she completely won me over! The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag is definitely on my wishlist!!
I've been looking at Leviathan too and it's on my "eventually" wishlist - looks good, doesn't it?!
Overcoming Speechlessness by Alice Walker
This is a very slim (too slim) volume about being able to speak about the atrocities that go on all over the world. After touching on the horrors of Rwanda and Eastern Congo, Walker turns her eyes to Gaza in order to reveal some of the stories of the people who live there. As she points out, these stories are not easy for Americans to come by and she wants to change that by her visit there. However, because I was looking forward to hearing these stories, I felt that Walker shortchanged her subjects by spending a large part of these very few pages talking about the Civil Rights movement. It's a somewhat apt comparison, but it doesn't really say much about current conditions in Gaza. Also, she spend even more pages talking about how much time she spent entering the area, filling out paperwork and waiting at the border. Again, an apt description - Israel is normally a hard country to enter for obvious reasons - but, again, it means that this thin volume is left with very few actual stories from the population of Gaza. Perhaps it would have been a successful attempt had it been longer than 80 pages, but as it is, this volume is severely lacking in detail and background information.
The Twin (org. Boven is het stil) by Gerbrand Bakker
I never thought that a story about a middle-aged man living on a farm with his dying father could be a page-turner, but here it is! Mainly it's Bakker's voice (and Colmer's fantastic translation) that pulls the reader into Helmer's world as he walks around the farm, remembering the past, not really regretting but definitely questioning the events that derailed his planned life and turned him into his twin's substitute. At the same time, the past comes back in form of Riet and of his father's former farmhand to lessen the hurt. Although Helmer tries to be a simple man, he is clearly a complicated soul whose thoughts tell the reader of his emotional life even though he doesn't always see it himself. I can only describe it as a lyrical story, even though I would usually use the word "lyrical" to describe something written in a more poetic language and this is written in "normal" prose, but still gives an almost dreamlike and yet engaging feeling.
The 188th Crybaby Brigade: a Skinny Jewish Kid from Chicago Fights Hezbollah by Joel Chasnoff
I think most people have an idea or image of the cool IDF soldier with his guns and his aviator sunglasses. So did Joel Chasnoff and he wanted to be one of them. However, it was only when he arrived in Israel and became a soldier in the Israeli army that he got a true look into the life of an 18-year-old soldier's life - a soldier that is primarily an 18-year-old kid. This is a very funny, and sometimes scary, story of the accomplishments and the failings of the Armored Brigade - you'd think that the IDF wouldn't give a Merkava tank to someone who wasn't completely prepared, but, as Chasnoff finds out, this is not true. You'll laugh at the shenanigans of these kids and you will be horrified and amazed that the IDF has ever managed to win a war with the slight amount of training this 188th receives.
High Voltage Tattoo by Kat Von D
If you're a fan of Kat's - which you are if you've seen her art - this book is quite a treat. It's mainly about Kat's upbringing and family and how she became the accomplished tattoo artist that she is. There are lots of pictures of her own artwork and that of other artists (there's even a ten-page "map" of Kat's own tattoos). The only problem is that I wished there were more detailed pictures of the tattoos she writes about and maybe a few less pictures of her celebrity friends, but other than that, it's a very aesthetically appealing work.
Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species by Michael Keller and Nicolle Rager Fuller
I remember slogging through On the Origin of Species at University and although it was obviously interesting, it was a bit dry. I only wish this book had been around then! Although some of the illustrations - particularly those dealing with passage of time - can be a little confusing, all in all it's a fantastic rendition of Darwin's work. What's especially fun about this version is that they have included the history around the publication of Origin and they even let Darwin himself see into the future and get a glimpse of how his work has influenced the scientists of today. Even if you've read the original work, don't miss out on this beautiful book.
I guess, in the end, Alice Walker was rendered speechless due to the size of the book? ;)
You'd think from the title that the idea was to overcome speechlessness, right?! :)
LOL - yes, the 1111 might become a "one-of-each" challenge! :)
Ella Minnow Pea was short, but better than I thought it would be, plus the title is witty - you can tell which letters they end up with: LMNOP. :)
Where do you discover all of these Israeli books that I've never heard of before?! I'm always learning about these books from you! :)
LOL! As long as you have a source to feed the addiction, right?! The significant-other-guy tends to pelt me with them since I'm not learning Hebrew fast enough for him. :)
The Saver by Edeet Ravel
I picked this up because I absolutely love Ravel's Tel Aviv trilogy and was hoping the magic of those books would carry over to her YA writing, but unfortunately that wasn't the case. The premise was really interesting - how does a 17-year-old take care of herself without any help in the world? - but the story doesn't quite manage to relay the feelings of the characters and so I found myself not caring about them. I still can't figure out why Fern is so obsessed with saving money that she lies and steals in order to put several hundred dollars a month into a savings account rather than dealing with her day-to-day life. The redeeming factor is to see how Fern goes from totally alone in the world to having friends, but it's not a huge denouement in that anyone who has a workplace will have colleagues. It's a fast read, but in the end, not satisfying.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
I wasn't as enamored with this as others seem to have been. Still, it's a pretty good tale of a very dysfunctional family. It's described as "tragicomic," and I do find a lot of tragedy, but very little comedy. To me, it's mainly a really sad story of some unhappy people. A blurb says something about it being reminiscent of David Sedaris' writing and since I don't like his stuff, it's not surprising that I wasn't fond of this. I do like the drawing-style, though - it's simple with a lot of subtle complexity.
I think you and I must be the only two people who don't like David Sedaris' writing. I find his work offensive. It's just nasty. I don't think it's funny at all. I read it out of curiosity. To hear him read his stuff aloud is a bit better. He does so in a voice that's all his own.
Fun Home was okay, but I've liked other graphic novels better. This book will always stick with me, though, because I'd been reading it in a restaurant (I always take a book to read while having a sandwich or pizza midday when I'm working). I got to a particularly *graphic* page in that book and felt I had to shield the page from prying eyes. I thought people would start to wonder what I was doing on my work breaks! :D
LOL! I know exactly which page you were reading!! :)
I have heard Sedaris read a couple of stories and they were definitely better than reading them, but still...funny? I don't get it.
LOL! I know exactly which page you were reading!! :)
Yep! That's the page! :)
Hooray! I've never cared for Sedaris either and it's a very lonely position.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Elizabeth Bennett as a ninja-like warrior and renowned bloodthirsty slayer of zombies is a very funny idea. And, the coupling of the two genres is also funny, and pretty well done. A woman being praised on her skill with pianofortes, dancing, as well as sword wielding is not what you’d expect out of a Jane Austen novel, but it is surprisingly entertaining to find. I like that they have kept up with some of the customs and have the characters consider it “unladylike” for a woman to carry a musket, but she is expected to deftly deal with zombies with her ankle-dagger. Also, Charlotte Lucas slowly succumbing to the "disease" – slurring her speech and gnawing at her own wrist is just hilarious.
However, if you want to read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, pick Grahame-Smith's novel rather than this graphic novel-version, because it's not a good rendition. The drawings are really bad and it looks like the creators wanted to publish this book as soon as possible (before the buzz disappeared, one could only guess) because most of the drawings are mere sketches. Also, all of the characters look nearly the same and it's only what they say that set them apart from one another, which must be considered a huge failing in a graphic novel; why not just keep the regular novel if the images are not going to contribute anything. And, why, oh why, would you publish a zombie-slaying book in black-and-white? Presumably to save money and time, so again, why bother at all?
The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley
Apart from a smallish leap of faith you need to take at the end, this is a great cosy mystery. I do love Flavia as a character, she's just smart enough - and cheeky enough - for me to get really attached, even though she might not be 100% probable. Like in the first book, she is still precocious without getting cutesy and is even funnier - or more sarcastic at least. I also find the mystery-part more interesting in this installment, although, as mentioned above, there is a bit of a stretch of the imagination needed to be taken at the denouement, which is performed in an entertaining Poirot-style.
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson
A clever little story mainly for young adults, but with some giggles for adults too. I had hoped that the evil librarians (the reason for my reading the book) would be more "librariany," but they were still a decent nemesis. It was a quick, entertaining read, but since the narrator’s voice is a little too intrusive and gets a tad too smart-alecky for my taste, I'll probably skip the rest of the series.
The Magician's Book: a Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia by Laura Miller
You'd think with a title like that, this book would be about C.S. Lewis' books about Narnia and Miller's own grappling with its religious layers. Not so - at least not a lot. Rather, it's a mix of travelogue (Miller's own), biography, mythology, literary theory, genre study, quite a lot of gossip, and a few interesting conclusions. I wanted to read about Narnia and I got a flurry of other materials - including a blow-by-blow account of Lewis and Tolkien's friendship, as well as a haphazard going-over of The Lord of the Rings. Also, I can't quite figure out for whom this is written. Does Miller expect that the same reader who needs a definition of the Renaissance will follow her discussion about the inflection of Latin? And, with such a barrage of quotes, why is there no bibliography? It's all a bit of a mess.
The Big Nap by Ayelet Waldman
This is a somewhat clever little mystery, which takes the reader into part of the Hasidic population of Los Angeles and New York. Juliet is an amusing narrator, even though she may be harping on about her own physique a little too much and her constant comments about how everyone in Los Angeles is slim are exaggerated - I live there, I can vouch that it's not true! However, it's still fun to hang around with this hormonal, overtired, lactating mother of two while she's trying to solve the mystery of the missing girl. The narrator's relationship with her children and parents is very realistic and the troublesome marriage is described without kid gloves. The solution to the mystery part is a bit haphazard, but for a quick-read mystery, I'll take it.
Catching up on your thread after my holidays!
@87 I've not read Sedaris, but have seen a stage adaptation. To me, it was then very much about the actresses' approach to the material. In some cases it worked really well - and got tragic and funny. In some cases it didn't work - and came across as really cold and speculative. It seems to me this guy's writing really needs a dose of actual compassion invested in the characters to be funny. Could that be why you like it better when Sedaris reads it himself?
Pages you have to hide: I remember reading Blood and guts in high school on the tram in my early twenties, and suddenly every page was full of close-up scetches of vaginas and penises - no matter how I flipped the pages there were just more of them....
ETA: Fixing touchstones and typos.
I found his writing to be a bit calculated, I think - like he tries to be funny, rather than just being funny. I'm not sure that makes sense, but it's the only way I can explain it. When you listen to the story being read (or acted, I assume), you get swept up in the story rather than note the technique so gets better. Still not really funny, though. :)
LOL! My high school english teacher read aloud to us from Blood and Guts - not the worst bits, obviously, but awkward enough! She was very "progressive." :)
I found this over at GingerbreadMan’s thread and thought to give it a go.
Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?
If someone nice sends me some, I prefer this Swedish candy that tastes like whatever angels are made of.
What is your favorite drink while reading?
Tea. Lyons. Milk. Two sugars.
Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
For non-fiction, I keep a pad nearby. No writing in books, please.
How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ear? Laying the book flat open?
Open if I’m just stepping away for a bit, otherwise bookmark.
Fiction, Non-Fiction, or Both?
More fiction than non-fiction, but I like both.
Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?
End of chapter, apart from those times when I just fall asleep in the middle of a sentence.
Are you a person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you?
I’ll just go passive-aggressive and put the book down at the bottom of a pile somewhere.
If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?
No, but I normally write it down to look up later.
What are you currently reading?
I just got Eshkol Nevo’s new book, World Cup Wishes, which is turning out to be absolutely fantastic. I’ve read his Homesick before, but wasn’t as enamored with that one, but it’s like Nevo knew exactly what irked me about Homesick and fixed in World Cup Wishes.
What is the last book you bought?
I found The Crow Road by Iain M. Banks for $1 at my Friends of the Library bookstore – can’t complain about that!
Are you a person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?
At least one fiction and one non-fiction at a time, but sometimes I get too eager to start new books that I’m reading 4-5 and it tends to get confusing.
Do you have a favorite time/place to read?
Bedtime. Especially weekends when I can read as late as I want to.
Do you prefer series books or stand-alones?
If I find a really great series, the more the better, but I do prefer stand-alones.
Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?
Etgar Keret. Etgar Keret. Etgar Keret. Etgar Keret. Etgar Keret.
The man’s a genius.
How do you organize your books? By genre, title, author's last name, etc?
I created collections on LT that tell me exactly where my books are – at least that’s the theory...
World Cup Wishes (org. Mishala Achat Yamina) by Eshkol Nevo
To pun off the title: Gooooal! Nevo's novel about friendship and life ponders the choices and plans we make, thinking that we're right about what we want and about who we are. The four friends make their wishes for the future, based on what they know that particular day, but of course life doesn't work quite that way and they all end up walking in someone else's shoes and changing, with or against their own volition.
I read Nevo's first novel, Homesick, last year and was impressed with the way he uses the multi-voiced narrative to present different viewpoints. However, in Homesick it caused some confusion as to who was speaking, but here, in World Cup Wishes, he has lets each person's voice through with one - and sometimes two - narrators; Churchill lets us know in the first few pages that Yuval's story isn't exactly "true" and so the reader is forced to listen between the lines for the others' viewpoints.
The characters are so human, so vulnerable, that I'm almost have to remind myself a few times that these are fictional characters - to me, that's a feat and I love Nevo for letting me get to know his friends, real or not.
Panther in the Basement (org. Panter ba'martef) by Amos Oz
Rather than a novel, this reads like a series of vignettes about a child's view of British-occupied Palestine on the verge of becoming the state of Israel. It's written as an adult's reminiscence of youth and as such gets a little disconnected and at times prophesying, but in a plausible way; an adult looking back will remember moments which later turn out to be meaningful and tie them into a pattern, rather than remember a blow-by-blow plot. Oz' rendition of “Proffi”'s feelings about life and thoughts about the politics of the time reads as a 12-year-old's, albeit a rather precocious one, and his ability to bring Israel of 1947 to life for the reader is simply stunning.
I enjoyed Panther in the Basement as well for bringing that time period to life. Perhaps I especially enjoyed it because I, too, had the chance to live in Jerusalem (although not in 1947 - which was the year of my birth!).
LOL! I was just about to say - hardly in '47, though! :)
He does manage to bring it to life in a remarkable way!
The Likeness by Tana French
French has stepped it up a notch from her debut: this book contains the great writing of In the Woods without the infuriating loose end and with a mystery that seems to take place somewhere between Brideshead and Villa Villerkulla. The roommate characters are just so delicious and it's difficult for the reader (and indeed for Cassie) to imagine which of them (if any) is the guilty one. I was a little disappointed at first that I wouldn't be finding out what had happened to Ryan (from In the Woods), but when Cassie picks up her story, the narrative becomes so sweeping (Tana French "style") that you just want to come along for the ride. A PS to Ms. French, though: I do want to find out about Ryan eventually!
Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt by Todd Harra and Kenneth McKenzie
This is a collection of stories from morticians all over the US - some funny, some scary, some heartfelt. It's a very interesting read, especially if you, like me, are a fan of Stiff or Six Feet Under or just generally interested in what happens to us after we die. I had hoped for a more cohesive collection and much more in-depth stories, but this reads mainly like anecdotes that I could imagine posted on a morticians' internet forum (surely there must be such a thing). Still, definitely worth a read if thanatology is of interest to you.
Beirut 39 : New Writing from the Arab World Edited by Samuel Shimon
This book is like being surrounded by a bunch of chefs, all offering you platters of their signature amuse-bouches. Basically, it's a little overwhelming, and my suggestion is not to have too many at one time or you won't be able to enjoy them properly. Read a few passages, digest, then read some more. Some of these short texts really pop out, but, unfortunately, mainly due to their brevity, many get lost. I understand the 39-under-39-idea and it's interesting, but I think the book suffered a little for it - fewer writers presenting longer pieces would have been preferable to me. Still, I've come away with a list of new writers to look out for, so it was a book I wouldn't have wanted to miss.
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
What an interesting world Diana Wynne Jones has come up with - it's quite different from anything else I've read. The characters are so magical and quirky, but act as any normal human would act - the magic is just there and nobody really wonders too much about it. Of course, Calcifer, the fire demon, is my favorite character - he's just so sulky and conniving and loving all at once that you can't help but like him. I also love that obedient Sophie gets all the guts in the world when she is transformed. I've never read any of Diana Wynne Jones' books before, but I'll definitely be on the lookout for more.
Got Howl's moving castle lined up for my 2011 challenge. Glad to see some more encouragement!
Diana Wynne Jones has been so productive there is quite a lot more to look for. So much more that it is difficult to decide what to choose. I once read The Game by her, which has a great premise but was just ok. Did not make me rush for more.
Howl's Moving Castle, on the other hand, has been on my tbr-list since I saw the animated movie adaptation by Hayao Miyazaki; or actually after learning it was an adaptation.
It's weird, but I had never even heard of her until I saw the Miyazaki movie and fell in love with it. When I looked her up, I was amazed at how many books she's written - can't believe she had completely passed me by. Anyways, always nice to find a new author - even if my bookshelves don't need it! :)
The book is like the film until about half when it veers off a bit. Miyazaki's version is a little more surreal (which I approve of) and I actually prefer it slightly over the book, but the book will explain some things that were "huh?-moments" in the film.
The Devil in Vienna by Doris Orgel
Very good, not too gruesome YA-book about the Nazis taking over in Austria in 1937. The main story-line is about the girls' friendship, which is very heartfelt, but in the background are the horrible events of the war and its effect on the Austrian population. Definitely recommended for a younger reader's venturing into reading about the Holocaust.
Thanks for the suggestion - there are so many to choose from that it gets a little overwhelming. :)
The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise by Julia Stuart
This book reminds me of a line from a movie: "Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion." It's a very sad tale of a couple's difficulty in overcoming the death of their only son. At the same time, it's a quirky, odd story about a strange menagerie of animals (and humans) that spend part of their life at the Tower of London. We'll encounter things like giraffes not gifted by the King of Sweden, a tortoise with a prosthetic tail, a lost-and-found with a whole Egyptology section, and a libidinous chef whose food even a glutton won't eat.
Strangely, the mix of these seemingly completely disparate storylines work very well for me. I was expecting a dark comedy, but that's not what this is - rather, it's a melancholy tale interspersed with comedic moments. It's too bad in a way as I'm thinking some readers will fault it for what it isn't (due to marketing?) instead of seeing it for what it is: a really nice mix of the surreal/the real as well as the sad/the funny (Valerie Jennings, I'm talking to you!) that makes the book quite unique.
There could have been another round of revisions done on the text since we end up with some information given several times, like the story of the white roses at the Bloody Tower and the fact that the Department of Lost Things' counter is the Victorian original, but these are tiny problems.
In the end, you (or at least, I) have to like a book that contains a sentence like this: "Much of the night had been spent agonising over Ruby Dore's affection for the creature not worthy of a mention in the Bible, and lamenting his failure to seduce her with his mother's treacle cake."
Just checking in to say that I loved Almost Dead, it's good on so many levels. I've been staying away from your thread so I can catch up on my reading without adding more to my tbr!
I have read many of Diana Wynne Jone's books - you might like to try her Fire and Hemlock or Hexwood which are for older teens, though anything by her is great, so just dive in.
LOL!! I'm only partly sorry about messing with your TBRs - it's payback!!! Your next not-in-the-TBR-book will be World Cup Wishes, just so you know...! LOL!
Diana Wynne Jones, for some reason, had just passed me by until I saw the Howl-movie, but I see that there are loads of books and most all of them seem to have gotten great ratings from our fellow LT:ers! Very nice!
LOL! World Cup Wishes is sitting here beside my laptop ready to go! Lucky me that my library gets new Israeli fiction from time to time. Next up will be Laundry, thanks to Madeline.
Have to mention a YA series I just started reading How to ruin a summer vacation, is about a spoilt American girl with an Israeli father who has to spend a summer vacation in a moshav. Very funny, little bit of teen romance but the humour carries it.
Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
This was a very positive reading experience for me - I am a huge fan of Stiff but found myself not too impressed with neither Spook nor Bonk - they felt like copies of Stiff, only on different topics. With Packing for Mars, though, it feels like Roach has had the same approach as she did to Stiff, i.e. solid, solid research and very funny sidebars on topics that really interest any reader, although that reader might not have known it when they first picked up the book. Sure, I've seen NASA films and Hollywood space movies, but I never really thought of the "restroom" situation - exactly how do you poo in zero gravity? And how do you deal with motion sickness when you're wearing a spacesuit-helmet? And is it really that important to get into space that a no-return manned expedition could realistically be on the table? And don't even get me started on the fungus-topic! Many questions are answered here - questions that I wasn't even aware that I had - and Roach is doing a brilliant job asking them and presenting the responses to the reader in her signature deadpan way.
A Bottle in the Gaza Sea by Valerie Zenatti
Rather (too) short YA-novel about the difference between growing up in Israel and growing up in the Gaza Strip - or more aptly, about the similarities. The two narrators initially think they have nothing in common, but because both are damaged by the strife between their peoples - although in different ways - they grow closer and become friends, even though they have never met. It's a well-written shoe-on-the-other-foot story, and although I found the characters slightly unbelievable (or perhaps just not acting like their purported ages), it was still worth a read. I especially appreciated how both sides got their "say" without condemnation - any blame is worked out between the characters in their communication, which emphasizes the story's overall message of hope.
I read A bottle in the Gaza Sea last year and thought it was a great book for creating awareness for teen readers. I've just quickly read the next two books in the 'How to ruin' series and they are not very good at all. A shame as while the first book had faults, it was funny.
And I was a little disappointed that my library didn't have the other books in the series. I'm not so disappointed now! :) Thanks for the heads-up.
A Grave In Gaza by Matt Beynon Rees
In this second book about Omar Yussef/Abu Ramiz, he has reason to travel from his home in Bethlehem to the misery of the occupied Gaza Strip. When he enters Gaza, a storm arises in both the figurative and the literal sense; the sand is as ever-present and intrusive to Abu Ramiz as is the violence and corruption and, although both overwhelms him, he manages to overcome his own fears and stands by his personal morals even in the face of danger. His morals are what attracted me to him in the first book (The Collaborator of Bethlehem) and it's really what makes him one of my favorite characters - although his body is weak and he is quite vulnerable, he can not watch the injustices (as he admits to having done in his youth), but needs to act. He may be physically weak, but, as we find out at the nail-biting resolution of this book, there is absolutely nothing amiss with his mental faculties - what a clever, clever man!
Market Day by James Sturm
A moody graphic novella that follows an emotional main character, the artist Mendelman, for what turns out to be a pivotal day in his life - the day when one dream must end and there's no telling what the future holds. Sturm's drawings are very stark and his story-telling technique follow suit - with just a few words and a few lines, Mendelman's artistic ability as well as his internal struggles are revealed. The style is a little bit dreary for my personal taste, but I was impressed by Sturm's ability to so acutely convey the human and socio-economic aspects in such a short format.
Hallonbåtsflyktingen (org.Vadelmavenepakolainen) by Miika Nousiainen
An entertaining, but peculiar satire about a slightly sociopathic Finnish man who is convinced that he is a "national-transvestite," i.e. he's a Swedish man trapped in a Finnish man's body. The story is about his transitioning, not even stopping at murder to become a real Swede. It's a humorous look at the ideal Swedish society and the preconceived notions that both Swedes and Finns have about each other. At times it's really funny and poignant, but it wavers too much between being too exaggerated and becoming a slapstick comedy for it to be completely successful.
Little Indiscretions by Carmen Posadas
This is marketed as a mystery and there is indeed a murder that takes place, but I wouldn't pick this up for the suspense. Rather it's a story about the shady secrets that the characters are hiding and how they think other characters would react if they knew. It's a rather seedy crowd we're dealing with - a couple of them are not hiding "little indiscretions," but rather awful pasts. In the end, the solution to the murder of the chef is haphazard at best and the others are left to go about their horrid business. It's partially described as a "foodie"-novel, but the foodie bits are few and far in-between, so that didn't help either.
De Niro's Game by Rawi Hage
Despite its many accolades, I'm not bowled over. Some parts, like the descriptions of the anxiety of living under the threat of violence, the increasing influence of the militia on Bassam's life, his forced interactions with them, and particularly George's frantic description of the massacre at the Sabra and Shátila Camps are written with such intensity it's almost physically painful to read.
However, interspersed with such intense parts are some very meandering, almost rambling, enumerations of locales or events or scents or "whatevers," which I can only assume are meant to be poetic attempts at social criticism, but that in actuality act as roadblocks for the story and softens a blow that I thought should be gut-wrenching. Having the narrator simply list things he sees or thinks does not make for a stream-of-consciousness narrative; it makes for a bunch of lists.
The last portion of the novel, which starts with the same rambling thoughts but now in an almost psychedelic style, quickly becomes a straight spy story which completely derails the novel. Unfortunately I can't "un-read" that last portion, so I end up with a novel that started off strong and packed a heck of a punch, then meandered in the middle, only to end in a place where Agent 007 would feel at home.
I enjoyed reading your review as well as the highly different opinions of the other LT reviewers as to whether or not this book was good. I'm skipping this book for now as I'm not in the mood for a war read. Perhaps, at some later time, I might give it a try. I always try to see political situations from both sides, but sometimes that becomes too close or too painful for me.
It's always interesting, isn't it, what different people take away from different books!? This was a half-and-half read for me; some parts were great and some part plain irritating. And the ending... oy. :)
Isn't it a bummer when the ending of a book stinks? Hardly worth the effort. That's the kind of book that makes me want to throw it up against a wall or something. I usually just end up screaming "Aggghhh!!" in disgust. :)
How to Ruin a Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles
Semi-cute little novel about a very whiny 16-year-old (who acts much younger) who is forced to go to Israel with her absentee father and goes from hating everything to loving everything. And she has huge pendulous boobs - just a heads-up that you'll encounter them every few pages or so. The story line is very predictable and the younger characters are somewhat annoying, but the story has some really funny descriptions of the culture clash between an American teenager and the inhabitants of an Israeli moshav, which make the read at least partly worthwhile. You will need to suspend your beliefs quite a bit to see the set-up as a probable scenario, but you might be in for a treat if you're willing to do so as long as you are in the right age group - some YA books are fine for adults too, but I think this isn't one of them.
#132> I have to admit to cringing a bit after I suggested this book and had gone on to read the next two. The boobs continue to bounce every which way and the mispronounced Hebrew names and vocab continue as well. But for better or worse, this is interesting to read because for a lot of the intended audience this will probably be the only book they read with an Israeli setting.
"boobs continue to bounce every which way"
LOL!! Yes, I am very happy that you cautioned me from getting the others in the series. I liked the Israel-parts too, but the rest, not so much... :)
Stitches by David Small
It seems to be in vogue to write memoirs in form of graphic novels and, unfortunately, most aren't really suitable for the format - the drawings have to contribute to the story, not just be illustrations. It's obvious that Small is an artist first and an autobiographer second - not once does he let the story plod along without mainly conveying the moods and emotions in the drawings. For example, the sequence of his grandmother punishing him is so painful that a prose description would not pack the same punch. And then there are the more surreal parts, like the bat-dream, which manage to represent his feelings better than any straightforward narrative. It's not a pretty tale, but in a way it is a survivor's tale - a survivor who at the end sees himself in his demons and is prepared to deal with that fact.
There Are Jews in My House by Lara Vapnyar
This is a simple and easily read collection of stories, even though the subject matters aren't always so easy. Perhaps the author having English as a second language limits the complexity of the language, but even if this is the case, I hope it's a style that Vapnyar will continue. The easiness of her language makes her stories about shame and guilt so much more pointed and heartfelt. The title story is the strongest in this collection - maybe because the viewpoint is different from what I've read before - but the other stories are very potent as well and as a debut collection this shows huge potential.
Sotah by Naomi Ragen
Naomi Ragen's descriptions of "ultra-orthodox" Jewish life in Jerusalem manages not only to be respectful, but shows the lifestyle in a positive light so that it's at least possible for the reader to understand how someone born into this world would think it (for lack of a better term) sane. At the same time, she doesn't shy away from its dark underside either, so when we follow the sisters' progress through this hard life, we are also introduced to the status- and money-hunters, the violent Modesty Patrols, and the absolute lack of privacy. For someone like myself, who lives somewhere on the liberal side of liberal (and whose visit - yes, modestly dressed - to Meah Shearim was borderline traumatic), it's a strange, strange world, and I'm impressed with how Ragen manages to make it slightly, if not totally, comprehensible for me. It's not just a view into a normally closed world, it's a real page-turner; at no point does Ragen let her story idle - there are too many interesting people, too many interesting plot-twists, and far too many philosophical and religious ponderings for that.
I read There are Jews in My House two years ago. I liked all of the stories enough that I couldn't pick out a favorite. I have a novel by the same author here at home but haven't gotten to it yet. I have a feeling that I'm still going to like this author's short stories better than the novel. We'll see.
By the way, you *do* know that, whatever you read, either Kerry or I have already read or will want to read? ;)
Eva, re the world of Ultra-Orthodox Jews, how familiar are you with the books of Chaim Potok or Pearl Abraham?
I agree, the stories were all good - what I particularly liked about the title story was that we mainly hear about the heroic gentiles who rescued Jews or about the treacherous ones who gave them up, but this woman offered to help and then regretted it and felt guilty about the regret at the same time. Such complicated emotions that were described so very well that the story stood out to me.
And, yes, Kerry and you both have scolded me about your respective Mt. TBR - it goes both ways, though, remember that! LOL!!
I have a couple of Chaim Potok's books - they're in my pile of I-can't-belive-I-haven't-read-that-yet-TBRs. :)
I've never heard of Pearl Abraham, though - anything you recommend?
For Chaim Potok, my husband's favorite books are The Chosen and The Promise. My favorite Potok book is My Name Is Asher Lev. I read it many years ago while traveling across Europe in 1973, but it always sticks out for me personally as Potok's best. It's the story of a young Ultra-Orthodox Jewish man who wants to be a painter, a profession not well regarded by his father or even in his community.
I enjoyed reading The Romance Reader by Pearl Abraham. I would definitely recommend that. I heard the sequel is not as good, though. I guess that's why I have it in my book collection and have never read it! :) In The Romance Reader, we follow the story of a young Ultra-Orthodox Jewish woman. I remember a part about this woman not having (or was it that she wasn't supposed to have?) a library card because "generic" reading (specifically reading not related to religion) was considered unworthy. I read this book in 1998 so I don't remember all the details!
I remember reading The Romance Reader a few years back and liking it also. I didn't even know there was a sequel.
It does look really interesting. I can't figure out if there is a sequel, though. Normally the LT-crowd will quickly make a series, but nobody's made one yet. :)
Faithful Place by Tana French
Although the mystery isn't at the forefront here - and is reasonably easy to guess - this is my favorite of the books in French's "series." We are introduced to a working-class area of Dublin - the characters, the buildings, the intricate relationships - and it is suggestive and heartfelt and tragic all in one.
Frank was introduced in The Likeness, but as he there came across as almost purely a "tough guy," here we find out how that character came to be, through our access to his past. In my mind, this has turned out to be one of the real strengths of French's idea of picking a new main character for each book - we get a glimpse of one angle in one book and then the next will flesh out the image and alter it while still being true to the first impression.
Faithful Place is a somewhat painful read of a dysfunctional, although unfortunately not rare, family, whose members have very varying ideas of what the others should or should not be. Coming from this eat-or-be-eaten atmosphere, Frank Mackey, the tough man himself, turns out to have survived surprisingly well, even allowing himself to show - and share - a few tender emotions.
PS! I wonder who the next main character will be. Moran would be easy, so I'm hoping that it’s Kennedy if for no other reason than to see how he can be made sympathetic. :)
I think I need to move the Tana French books up the TBR pile. I have heard and seen such great reviews like yours here on LT for her books.
I think they're fantastic! The first one has a bit of a wonky ending, but I still liked it, and the others just seem to be getting better and better. It's a series that I've lent to just about everyone, regardless of what kind of books they normally read, and they all come back having liked them, which is kind of rare. :)
Britten and Brulightly by Hannah Berry
A well-drawn graphic novel noir with a dejected private investigator, Britten, and his very unexpected (and quite funny) partner, Brülightly. The story is classic noir with quite a few layers to it and the drawings are perfectly muted to fit the genre. If I could change one thing it would be to make the lettering of Britten's narration more masculine as if he had written it himself, but other than that, I think Berry has created a grand work.
Did you see that one of the ER books offered this month is a book by Yael Hedaya?
I just noticed that Housebroken has no reviews on LT, so it'll fit nicely into my reading for category #3. I'll go ahead and start it now - thanks for making me look, Madeline! :)
The World According to Clarkson by Jeremy Clarkson
Some of these essays have gotten a bit dated (they were originally published 2001-2003), but this is still a collection of sometimes hilarious and sometimes very astute observations. Clarkson can get a little too crabby sometimes (there's a reason Hammond and May are on Top Gear with him as counterweights), but with his trademark humor, he is still likeable enough to want to keep reading. While quite funny, I wouldn't recommend reading it in one sitting - a few essays here and there works best.
Arctic Chill by Arnaldur Indriðason
Indriðason is so skillful at conveying that soul-penetrating chill that a dark Icelandic winter murder causes. In this book he mainly deals with the xenophobia that exists even in such a liberal country as Iceland, which, apart from the weather, seems a utopia for those fleeing poverty in their home countries. The murder is gruesome, not only because it involves a child, and the stakes are high for Erlendur and his team when the potential suspects involve teachers, pedophiles, and even the victim's own brother. The plot gets a little confusing with several story-lines that may or may not have anything to do with each other and when Erlendur inexplicably acts like an idiot and misses a huge clue, but it's still a solid mystery and I enjoyed this as much as the others in the series. A word of caution, though; the translation / editing of the text is truly sub par. There are so many awkward expressions and syntax-oddities that it sometimes slows down the reading noticeably - not a great thing in a thriller.
Foreskin's Lament by Shalom Auslander
Like the author's wife says, "They really did a number on you." Auslander is an angry man, who cannot stop himself from trying to make deals with God, with sometimes sad and sometimes hilarious results. Even though at its core lies a very sad childhood and a very sad child, Auslander has a fantastic sense of humor coupled with impeccable timing and I actually laughed out loud quite a few times (sometimes while reading in public, which caused some raised eyebrows, especially when I flipped the cover over and revealed its title). It's juvenile and insightful and heartbreaking and very, very, very funny, all in one package. I feel really bad for Auslander himself, but I can't help but be grateful that he managed to live through it and become a writer so he could share the insanity with the rest of us.
Fishing in Utopia: Sweden and the Future that Disappeared by Andrew Brown
There were bits of this book that just made me go "aww" and call my mum and my brother to chat and reminisce and discuss - my grandparents lived in Nödinge and we all spent a lot of time in that part of Sweden when I was a kid (I grew up in Kungälv - the city of Club Hangover fame). I absolutely loved Brown's description of Sweden of the 70s and 80s and he is more right about the mood than he might even realize himself. OK, the fishing-bits appealed mainly to my brother who is a fly fisher, but I do recognize the landscape and the sounds and smells of my homeland. I may be biased since this is the time and place of my childhood and I concede that there is a slight inconsistency in the writing (and some typos: it's "Jantelagen," not "Jäntelagen"), but I really like this book - it will definitely be recommended to fellow Swedes. Also, Brown's comparing listening to nyckelharpor to watching pterodactyls mating was the best simile I've heard in a long time!
Housebroken: Three Novellas by Yael Hedaya
All three of these stories show off Hedaya's uncanny ability to describe true human feelings, no matter how sweet or nasty or evil they may be. There are no picture-perfect love-stories here - there are only human emotion rubbing up against reality. On top of that, she manages the most interesting story-angles; the dog in "Housebroken" mirroring the human relationship, the daughter's of "The Happiness Game" holding on to her reluctant lover as her parents decide to break up, and finally, the two women in "Matti," whose love for the main character merges them into, almost, one and the same. It's not always pretty or comforting, but it is always true.
I already have Foreskin's Lament on my wishlist. Your review will make it stick there. I read the first chapter of this book in a booklet I picked up at my Metro station during a commute home from work.
There used to be a booklet (which I think was published by a local bookstore) provided free every other month with first chapters of forthcoming new books. All of a sudden, these booklets were no longer provided. Too bad!
Fishing in utopia sounds lovely. I really know very little about Sweden. How long has it been since you've lived there? How long since you've been back to visit? Don't you miss it? What brought you to the US?
Housebroken sounds great as well! It just jumped onto my wishlist. My virtual bookshelf is now bursting at the seams! :)
It's highly irreverent, but so, so funny. I heard a few chapters of the audiobook (Auslander is the narrator) and it's really good, so if your library has that I'd recommend it!
That booklet-idea sounds great - I wish indie bookstores had the money to do that. I know some of the big stores do that (online mainly), but it'd be great if some smaller writers got the opportunity for exposure.
I thought it was really great, but, like I said, I may be very biased. Basically, he brought me back to my grandparents' town and (which is partly the point of the book) it has changed so much since then that there's not much reason to go back and visit. My grandparents lived in an old farmhouse and I'm happy to say that it still stands - it's now a sort of community-house for immigrants. All the rest of the farmhouses that used to surround it are gone. :(
I've been in the US since 1994. I just came over to stay for a year or so, but the weather was so nice in Southern California that I'm still here... :) I try to go back once a year. I don't miss Sweden (especially now with the atrocious election-results), but I do miss my mum and my family and friends, of course. Thank gourd for phones and Facebook! LOL!!
@158 I lived in Kungälv for a year! I went to Nordiska Folkhögskolan.
Nice!!! My mum went there a year for the "Nordiska för seniorer" when she retired - it's very pretty up there. Where did you live (unless you lived on campus, that is)? My mum's house is just past Kexfabriken (if you're coming from Folkhögskolan). It smells lovely! :)
Like Madeline, I've once again taken multiple book hits since my last visit. The Auslander book definitely moves up my wishlist.
It's irreverent as heck and quite sad, but I found him really, really funny!
What Is Mine by Anne Holt
Not an outstanding mystery. The stakes are innately high since the victims are children, but the story is a little lackluster because of all the talking and thinking and pondering; there is a lot of "tell" and not enough "show" for my taste. The main characters are likeable, but the romantic tension (which I assume should be there) is boring at best and I find myself not caring about them or their relationship. Also, the ending is tied up in the neatest little package I've read in a long time and it really put a damper on my reading - deus ex machina is not a plot device that any writer, especially a mystery-writer, should ever use.
Dexter by Design by Jeff Lindsay
I have a really hard time faulting this book for anything, if for no other reason than that I am nothing short of elated that "real" Dexter is back - and the Dark Passenger with him. The book that precedes this one in the series was a huge disappointment and I was extremely wary of how this one would turn out. Alas, the beloved dark Dexter is back in business with his attempts at acting human, his black-as-night humor, and, of course, with his Passenger, rustling its black feathers and chuckling quietly at the horrors. I do wish Astor and Cody were more fleshed out, but hopefully we'll get that soon. Still, I can't be harsh in this particular circumstance: my favorite (funny) serial killer is back!
Definitely glad that we got a return to the Dexter we all know and love in the 4th book. Do you also follow the TV series? If so, how are you finding the differences the stories are taking and are you able to separate them successfully? Oh! And thanks for giving me a reminder that I need to pick up book 5 at some point too.
I was worried there for a while that Lindsay had lost it! :)
When it started I wasn't planning on watching the TV series - just because I love the character so much - but it's filmed right where I live (Dexter's pink house from season 4 is right down the street from mine) so when I kept running in to the crew on the beach and downtown I just wanted to see what it looked like on the screen and I was soon hooked on the show!! :)
I think I'm keeping the storylines apart pretty well since the books are quite a bit darker than the TV show. There are a few times where I wished the show had followed the books more closely, but technically we're getting two different doses of Dark Dexter so it's actually a bonus! LOL!!
I've got book 5 waiting and I'm just waiting for a nice long weekend. I haven't read any reviews for it, deliberately, so I'm hoping Lindsay has caught on to the fact that we love Dexter just as he is - no need for the supernatural stuff. :)
Moomin Book Five: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip by Tove Jansson
I think every Nordic person has Mumintrollen living somewhere in their heart, and although these books are translated into English and it's a little bit harder to "hear" their Finnish-accented Swedish, they are still as fantastic as I remember them. Muminpappa cherishes his crazy adventures, Muminmamma her home and hearth, Snorkfröken her romances, and Mumin himself just wants everyone to be happy and get along. Different as they are, they have one over-riding goal in common: to have fun! The ultimate in anarchy, you just can't help but admire their guts and gusto and their complete devotion to each other. Or, as the character Stinky puts it, "Indeed you are the most idiotic family I ever saw - but you are at least living every minute of the day!!"
Unfortunately, this edition of book 5 has been sloppily edited - in two places there are strips inserted that are duplicates of panels from different stories and so the strips that were supposed to be there are missing. I'm surprised that the publisher didn’t fix this blatant error; at the very least they could have put a supplement in the book with the missing panels. As it is now, this is not a "Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip."
I've read book one of that series and loved it. What a shame about the editing - almost unheard of, being so slack, especially with such an esteemed writer. I picked up a copy of her Travelling Light the other day, it just jumped into my hands at the bookshop! Strange how books can do that.
You might not have caught this Guardian article about the Moomin 'family' business:
I'm just starting on my Moomin journey (read Finn Family Moomintroll) and am falling in love with these little trolls. Thanks, avatiakh, for the link to that wonderful Guardian article!
When are you going to read the ER book Eden? It's so fat!!! :)
I was stunned (and a little appaled) at finding the blatant errors - so much so that I'm returning the book and will be getting a Swedish copy instead when I go home in a few weeks.
The Moomins are just such an ingrained part of my childhood that I have nothing negative to say about them. Funnily enough, I've read only a few of her other childrens books and none of her adult books.
Great article - thanks!!! Anyone who comes to the Nordic countries will see their impact - you can find Moomin stuff everywhere, in all shapes and forms!! :)
I started the first few chapters and it actually seems a tad easier to read than her other books. I'm trying to finish a couple of other books I'm reading so that I can really settle in with it!!
Did you know she had written the Israeli In Treatment? (This one) I knew the US version was based on an Israeli series, but I never got around to watching it - I want to check it out now!!
I knew it, but I've not watched the program. My hearing is so bad that I'd much rather play on the computer than struggle with TV - even with closed captioning. I'll just read her books! :)
Dexter Is Delicious by Jeff Lindsay
Dexter at his best, i.e. with the Dark Passenger onboard, is always a treat. In the third book in the series, Lindsay banished the Dark Passenger and with it went the humor. In this, the fifth book, he does something similar and it's to the detriment of the story. Instead of Dark Dexter and his amusing musings on humankind, we get a regular action-detective, which isn't all that interesting. Also, the plausibility is gone when Dexter spends the better part of the book running around with his sister rather than be a blood spatter analyst - in what police department would this be possible? There are some amusing bits in the book and some of the plot-points are interesting, but it's not really up to par with a proper Dexter-book's potential. I listened to the audiobook, which is read by the author, and although he is a good reader, he should never ever be allowed to write British English or attempt to read in a British accent - he makes Dick Van Dyke sound like a true Cockney!
Doctor Who The Visual Dictionary by Dorling Kindersley
Although there’s not a lot of new information for a Whovian, this book is still a must-have for all the beautiful pictures and the thorough run-down of the last three Doctors’ toys, tools, and friends and foes. It would have been great to have a detailed entry covering all of the Doctor’s regenerations, but the pre-Russell T. Davies crowd is not the intended audience here, so we get most coverage on the 11th Doctor, some on the 10th and mere mentions of the others.
Eden by Yael Hedaya
What I normally love about Hedaya's stories is her ability to get to the truth of human relationships, the bad, the good, and the downright nasty. She does some of that here - there are parts of this novel that cuts to the core and really exposes the truth about the characters. However, there is also a lot of exaggerated "drama" that I wasn't expecting in a Hedaya book and I'm not entirely sure I like it, exciting though it is. I'm wondering to myself if writing for television has changed her voice to more overt and attention-seeking one and if she has left the more subtle one behind. Although the storylines and the characters are quite interesting, the raw, vulnerable truth I was hoping for isn't all there and I can only wish that it comes back for her next novel.
Oh no, did I get that right? Doctor Who The Visual Dictionary focuses only on the Russell T. Davies creation? That's rather disappointing. I'd love a nice big glossy picture book dealing with all the incarnations... I will look into this one anyway, though.
That's right, it only deals with the Russell T. Davies doctors. It's still a very pretty book, though - I'd love to have the exact same book, but covering all the regenerations.
Shut Up, I'm Talking: And Other Diplomacy Lessons I Learned in the Israeli Government by Gregory Levey
I'm quite sure that Levey exaggerates the lunacy of the UN delegations for humorous purposes, but if even part of his story describes day-to-day functions at the UN, I'm quite scared on behalf of the world. Granted, Levey didn’t attend really high level meetings and wasn’t familiar with Israeli culture, so obviously his descriptions are grass-roots, and for what it is, it's a hoot. He obviously refers to his actual work in very loose terms, so if you're after an in-depth look into the workings of the UN or Israeli government life, then this isn't it. It's more a quasi-Picaresque with some serious stuff thrown in. It is, however, very funny and if you keep in mind that it's written for humor rather than any political commentary, it'll be a very enjoyable read.
Agaton Sax klipper till (Agaton Sax and the Big Rig) by Nils-Olof Franzén
The first in the children's series about Swedish crime-solver and Chief Editor, Agaton Sax, is still quite entertaining and not too dated, though it was first published in 1950. It's not as sophisticated as current children's novels, since, for example, our hero "develops" special skills on the spot - he reveals that he's a proficient ventriloquist the very second it comes in handy. He isn't perfect at what he does, though, and he gets discovered by the bad guys several times, which is quite endearing - a too clever little man from a hole-in-the-ground Swedish town would be too much. Classic Swedish character, which holds up surprisingly well after some 60 years.
Agaton Sax and the League of Silent Exploders (Agaton Sax och den ljudlösa sprängämnesligan) by Nils-Olof Franzén
In the second installment of the series, Chief Editor and amateur crime-solver Agaton Sax, is again a police suspect and is forced to find the real criminals in order to clear his own name. Sax is a more developed character by now, and although some plot-points are quite exaggerated, it all boils down to a quite fun detective-story for children (today's YA reader is probably too advanced for this). Agaton and his dachshund, Tickie, were favorites of mine when I was a child, so it's especially fun to see how well the stories hold up, given that they're some 60 years old.
Ture Sventon, privatdetektiv by Åke Holmberg
Första boken om Ture Sventon som etablerar detektiven som den listige, läspande, “pitol”-bärande “temle”-galning han är. Förvånansvärt humoristisk och med lagom skrämmande skurkar – Ville Vessla är hänsynslös och Oxen det närmaste monstrous – som utgör ett uppenbart hot. En barndomsfavorit som det var riktigt roligt att återbekanta sig med - förutom att man blir väldigt sugen på semlor medan man läser.
Gaza (en kärlekshistoria) by Catrin Ormestad
I hope this book gets translated into at least English because of its important documentation of the harrowing conditions of the Palestinians in Gaza. Ormestad has traveled extensively (or, as much as possible) in Gaza and has heard the tales of many of its people. The stories are captivating and, in many cases, horrifying, and they are tales that should be well known all around the world.
It's not a perfect book, though, since Ormestad insist on telling intimate details about her relationship with her partner, journalist Gideon Levy, which I am tempted to think is to elevate her own importance. I may be cynical about her reasons, but I have an entire article of hers that simply lists names and personal nicknames of famous people she knows (through Levy) without actually saying anything at all about them.
For her book on Gaza, Ormestad has chosen a timeline which is not linear in order to juxtaposition certain poignant events, but this sometimes means that events that were not connected is made to look as if they were directly caused by each other. Ormestad's intention is obviously to aim for maximum emotional effect, so the technique works well, but someone reading the book with the historical context in mind should keep a proper timeline at hand.
There are some factual errors that I have to mention, since this is supposed to be a journalistic report; the dome of the Al-Aqsa mosque is silver, not golden (the famous golden dome belongs to the Dome of the Rock, which is located next to the mosque on the Temple Mount), which someone who has lived in Jerusalem, as Ormestad has, would definitely know. Also, she says that "shvediye" is the feminine form of "Swedish," when it actually means Sweden (the country). Neither of these are huge issues that impact the more important parts of the book, but with such glaring errors that could be so easily corrected, I wonder what other facts are wrong.
Errors aside, this is definitely a recommended read for the stories of the individual Palestinians that Ormestad comes in contact with, but I would recommend skimming or even skipping the parts where Ormestad herself shines through.
Katitzi by Katarina Taikon
The first part in Katarina "Katitzi" Taikon's semi-autobiographical series about a young Romani girl's youth in 1940's Sweden. We are introduced to Katitzi's gypsy family as she is returned to them from an orphanage and we learn about the Romani life as well as the prejudice against the Romani people at the same time as Katitzi does. Because she is so young - about nine - her character can tell us about events in an innocent voice which makes an older reader understand far more about what's really going on, since the young voice can openly point out political and social flaws. The book is written for children - to promote cross-cultural understanding - but is equally apt for adults as it reveals, as Johan Taikon says, "the prejudices of educated people."
Katitzi och Swing by Katarina Taikon
The second part in Katarina "Katitzi" Taikon's semi-autobiographical series about a young Romani girl's youth in 1940's Sweden. The persecution of gypsies (and Jews) causes some worry for Katitzi's father, Johan, since he is not a Swedish citizen and is terrified that he and the rest of the family will be deported to Germany. We also get further insight into Romani culture with the wedding ceremony between Katitzi's sister, Rosa, and her cousin, Milo. The book is written for children - to promote cross-cultural understanding - but should be read by everyone, regardless of age. The descriptions of day-to-day life in Sweden may be dated, but the day-to-day prejudices remain in many ways.
Katitzi i ormgropen by Katarina Taikon
The third part in Katarina "Katitzi" Taikon's semi-autobiographical series about a young Romani girl's youth in 1940's Sweden. The war is raging in Europe and the gypsies in Sweden are split up, in case Sweden in invaded or joins the war on the German side and has to send their gypsies and Jews to the gas chambers. Juxtaposed with the fear of war that permeates the adults' thoughts, is Katitzi, precocious and outspoken as ever, questioning all wrongs in society, whether her fearlessness brings trouble for herself or her family. The story of how the Taikon family traveled from Hungary to Sweden is the most interesting part of this installment, but again, this sad tale is juxtaposed with Katitzi's daydreams about becoming a famous performer, which in turn are fueled by her stepmother's abuse.
Katitzi rymmmer by Katarina Taikon
The fourth part in Katarina "Katitzi" Taikon's semi-autobiographical series about a young Romani girl's youth in 1940's Sweden. This installment deals with the increasing abuse Katitzi suffers at the hands of her stepmother, a "gaji" (non-gypsy) woman, whose dreams of the "romantic" gypsy life made her marry Katitzi's father, but whose disappointment at the reality of a persecuted life has cased her to grow cold and mean. Because of the constant beatings, Katitzi runs away (not only through daydreams), and when she is returned, her brother forces her father to see how badly Katitzi is treated and her father lets Katitzi, her brother Paul and her sister Rosa leave the camp and go live on their own. It is poignant how far the abuse has to go before Paul finally threatens with the Police, since the constant mistreatment of the Romani people by the authorities has caused them to be extremely wary. Also, Paul knows that his father is not a Swedish citizen and that he is terrified of giving the authorities a reason to deport him from Sweden.
Katitzi, Rosa och Paul by Katarina Taikon
The fifth part in Katarina "Katitzi" Taikon's semi-autobiographical series about a young Romani girl's youth in 1940's Sweden. Katitzi, her brother, Paul, and her sister, Rosa, are on their own after leaving their father's camp. It turns out that although it's a little easier, a small group of Romani - not a huge camp - still has trouble getting permission to pitch their tents because of prejudice and the shadow of the European war, which haunts the little family. Katitzi is as precocious as ever, of course, and her shenanigans and outspokenness keep the story positive even though they are forced to keep traveling.
Katitzi i Stockholm by Katarina Taikon
The sixth part in Katarina "Katitzi" Taikon's semi-autobiographical series about a young Romani girl's youth in 1940's Sweden. Katitzi, Rosa, and Paul have returned to the large camp, since living on their own provides no advantage. Johan Taikon's application for Swedish citizenship is denied again and Katitzi returns to live with him to help out, even though it means returning to her abusive stepmother. Without Swedish citizenship during the war, the Taikons are not given ration cards and can not buy foods like meat or sugar, but have to find sustenance elsewhere and rely on the sometime kindness of strangers. Katitzi finds out that if people think she's a war refugee, they buy the Christmas cards she's selling to help her father, but if they know she's a Swedish gypsy girl, they ignore her or tell her the "Germans know how to handle people like you." No wonder her father assists the Jews - and the European Romani - by hiding resistance fighters in the camp.
Katitzi och Lump-Nicke by Katarina Taikon
The seventh part in Katarina "Katitzi" Taikon's semi-autobiographical series about a young Romani girl's youth in 1940's Sweden. Katitzi and her family are finally living in a house - drafty and old and rat-infested, but a house nonetheless. And the rest of the camp's members live around them. Johan Taikon is forced to go to hospital and Katitzi's stepmother goes to visit her gajé (non-gypsy) family, so in this installment of the series, Katitzi is free to wander and visit her friends, who are also outcasts. The story really shows the separation between "regular" people in society and those who stand apart. Nowadays, the gap (at least in Sweden) is minimized, but at this time, there was a vast chasm between your everyday Swede and the gypsies, drunks, and the poor.
Katitzi i skolan by Katarina Taikon
The eighth part in Katarina "Katitzi" Taikon's semi-autobiographical series about a young Romani girl's youth in 1940's Sweden. Johan Taikon saves gypsies from the German concentration camps by disguising them as Jewish refugees, which causes issues with the others in the camp who are fearful that they will be punished and deported. Katitzi gets to go to school, but learns the hard way that society's prejudices trickle down to its children. Although beaten down, she persists in her outspokenness no matter how much trouble it causes her - fairness and justice are the most important things to our independent heroine, a true role model for any humanitarian.
Katitzi Z-1234 by Katarina Taikon
The ninth part in Katarina "Katitzi" Taikon's semi-autobiographical series about a young Romani girl's youth in 1940's Sweden. Zoni, who Johan Taikon helped rescue from Germany, tells Katitzi about the horrors she witnessed at Auschwitz. In solidarity with the gypsies there, Katitzi asks Zoni to draw a Nazi's gypsy-mark on her wrist, Z-1234. The war is coming to an end and life for the Taikon family is slowly changing. They are as poor as ever, but Katitzi is old enough to work for the gajé (non-gypsies) to bring home money. And, since he doesn't drink alcohol, Johan Taikon can trade his motbok (a type of alcohol ration card used in Sweden for part of the 1900s) for food ration cards (the Romani people were not given food ration cards in Sweden during the war - yet another way to try to get them to leave the country). We are then given a view into Romani culture with some traditional cooking and a traditional engagement party for a very surprised girl: our own heroine, Katitzi. Because she is too young to get married, she stays with her family and works at her job until one day she finds out from a passer-by that the Germans are defeated and the war is over.
Katitzi barnbruden by Katarina Taikon
The tenth part in Katarina "Katitzi" Taikon's semi-autobiographical series about a young Romani girl's youth in 1940's Sweden. Although the war is over and Johan Taikon doesn't have to worry about being sent to the German concentration camps, prejudice against the Romani still persists. Katitzi loses her job, accused of a theft purely because she is a gypsy, and it's "well known that all gypsies steal." Staying home during the day puts Katitzi in the line of fire for her abusive stepmother, so Katitzi's father allows her marriage to go ahead, even though she is far too young, in order to get her away from harm. We get a view into Romani culture, especially how a wedding is planned and executed - the food, the dress, the dances, etc. Although she is hesitant about getting married, life with her stepmother is so unbearable that she feels any other life would be better and she resigns herself.
Katitzi pa flykt by Katarina Taikon
The eleventh part in Katarina "Katitzi" Taikon's semi-autobiographical series about a young Romani girl's youth in 1940's Sweden. Although horrified at the emerging news about how the Jews were treated during the war, the Swedish government persists in its almost identical treatment of the gypsies and reinforces people's prejudice against them. Marriage for our heroine, Katitzi, has turned out as bad as living with her stepmother, but now she is sexually abused by her husband as well, even though he has sworn not to touch her because she is too young. Again, Katitzi is forced to flee, but since all Romani know who she is, it doesn't take long until she is returned and in trouble. The Romani life may seem "free" to the average person, but it is guided by ancient rules and honor-based traditions, many of which Katitzi has broken.
Katitzi i Gamla Sta'n by Katarina Taikon
The twelfth part in Katarina "Katitzi" Taikon's semi-autobiographical series about a young Romani girl's youth in 1940's Sweden. In this installment of the series, Katitzi is almost completely separated from the other Romani, except her siblings, and is making her own way and growing up in Stockholm. It is evident that Sweden is slowly becoming a more embracing country since the end of the war and Katitzi's life is noticeably easier than it has been before. She is missing her father and mourns him when he dies, but she has finally regained the independence and some of the self-esteem she had as a child, before her stepmother abused her.
Uppbrott by Katarina Taikon
The thirteenth and last part in Katarina "Katitzi" Taikon's semi-autobiographical series about a young Romani girl's youth in 1940's Sweden. A man who Katitzi met earlier in her life, Arne Sucksdorff, contacts Katitzi and asks her to play the lead in his new film about gypsies. She hesitantly agrees, but it means that she will have to return and face the Romani she has left behind, including her estranged husband. With the help of her family, who are also in the film (the short, "Uppbrott"), she goes through the "kris" (a gypsy family court) and is granted a divorce from her husband. During her adventurous life, Katitzi has gone through highs and lows and has finally settled in as her own woman, with her own home and her own job. Still close with her brother and sister, she goes on to write the book series about Katitzi, who becomes one of Swedish children's favorite heroines.
Den trettonde larjungen (The Thirteenth Disciple) by Claude Kayat
Life for the blacksmith Hesekiel is difficult. He wants to marry the love of his life and start a family, but the religious leader Jesus keeps asking him to become his thirteenth disciple. Kayat's book about life by the Kinneret in the Galilee, its people, its religious phalanges, and its many so-called prophets, is remarkably believable. The biblical stories (obviously) talk about people in respect of how they pertain to the story, but here we are presented with the normal human version of those characters. Jesus is a charismatic and rather persistent (or annoying?) character and his disciples are prone to anger and resentment towards anyone who disrespects their leader. Kayat lets the conflicted Hesekiel be a voice, or discussion, of reason - the voice that questions all angles of this new era when old and new comes to a stand. Regardless of personal religious views, Kayat manages to bring to life the Galilee and its people as well as the religious fervor without preaching to his reader. Definitely a recommended read.
Jag ar en varulvsunge by Gunnel Linde
Teenage angst or the bite of a rabid neighbor? Something is making Ulf throw anger tantrums and alienating his family and friends, at least until he finds a brother-in-arms. This classic Gunnel Linde YA novel holds up very well and would still be appropriate for a younger YA reader. For an adult reader, it's an amusing look at Swedish schools and neighborhoods, all the way down to the Finnish neighbors.
Stora boken om Nemi by Lise Myhre
How could you not love Nemi? Fueled by a steady stream of alcohol and chocolate, she's the mistress of darkness and death metal, the savior of unicorns and dragons, the eternal romantic, and the nemesis of small children. Although not always at 100%, Nemi sometimes hits the proverbial nail so hard on the head that you have to laugh and blush at the same time, because at some point we've all thought what she says out loud, and we would all like to be a little bit less like ourselves and a little bit more like her. This is a collection of the first four Nemi books along with Lise's commentary and a few previously unpublished strips, and it's really fun to follow the development of Nemi's character as well as that of the secondary characters.
Eva - you have been one busy (reading) gal! 21 books posted today - that certainly must be some kind of record. And, of course, I've been hit by several Book Bullets this time around. Gaza, the Katitzi series, the Agaton Sax series, The Thirteenth Disciple, and Shut Up, I'm Talking. A dangerous place, this thread.
LOL!! I've been traveling for a few weeks without internet access, so this was my first time to post all my vacation reads! Definitely my first time posting 21 reviews in one day! :)
Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter by Russell T. Davies and Benjamin Cook
Oh, this is just brilliant! Welcome into the head of Russell T. Davies - a virtual trip to wonderland for any Whovian. Although this is mainly about writing the fourth series of the new Doctor Who and the following specials, the book covers everything from the financial issues of TV production, to public relations, to fandom, to rewriting other people's scripts, to Davies' own issues with crowds, and then a barrage of doctor-related gems in between. Obviously a must-read for Whovians, but this could still be read by anyone interested in TV writing or TV production. Also, since it's an email exchange between two close friends, we get access to some very personal information and the discussion sometimes gets excessively candid, but in a very, very good way.
Ooooh, I bought that one for myself earlier this year, and I cannot wait to read it! Unfortunately, I think it may have to wait until 2011 hits. (Need to read about 800 pages of books before this year is over with - I can do it. It's just that ... well, other books keep getting in the way of the ones I "need" to read.)
Glad to see you enjoyed it so much!
It's very, very good and interesting and funny and _____ etc. :) And although it's some 700 pages, it goes by like a breeze - it's a real page turner!
Happy Mania by Moyoco Anno
I like Manga and will cut it a lot of slack, but this was just chic-lit overload and the character acts about ten years younger than she is supposed to be. Not for me. They're wishlisted on the trading-sites, though, so I'm sure I can find them a much better home. :)
As fun and enjoyable as light reading can be, it can easily turn into an "enough is enough" situation. Glad that it was Manga (always easier to read quickly, IMO), and even more glad that you can easily shift these books off of your shelf and onto someone else's!
Do you have any Manga recs? I've only read the Chobits series by Clamp, and I really loved reading them, but I'm not sure where else to look. There are so many series out there that it's a little overwhelming.
Always nice to find kind homes to books you don't want - one man's trash is another man's treasure, right?! :)
I'm not well-read in manga, but I'm extremely fond of Kaoru Mori's series about Emma - it's pretty much straight-up English historical fiction in manga-form, though. If you enjoy Austen-type books, you'll like that one. I've also enjoyed Nobuhiro Watsuki's series about Rurouni Kenshin, which is Japanese historical fiction with Samurai's etc, which is quite entertaining. Also, Keiko Tobe has written a series about raising her autistic son, but I've only gotten it recommended and haven't actually read any of it yet.
I've only recently gotten used to the whole huge-eyes drawing style, so I'll hopefully be better versed soon.
Thanks for spotlighting the Katitzi series. I've never heard of them. I wonder if they are available here in the US. I will have to look for them. One of my college roommates was half Romany and I'd love to read more about their world during the war.
I wish they were, but don't get your hopes up. :( Most libraries in Sweden have a set of them, but only the first book is possible to buy, which is why I wanted to highlight them as well - I do want them to be available for a long time. One of my best friends when I was a child was Romani, so I've always had an interest, but unfortunately we lost touch when she quit high school to get married. :(
216: Thanks so much for the recs! I'll be heading over to my library website in a little while with your list to see what they have available and will start from there. I'm eager to start my 2011 reading!
Sista kulan sparar jag at grannen (The Last Bullet, I'm Saving for the Neighbor) by Fausta Marianovic
The first half of this book is a description of how society completely falls apart at the onset of war and how people, including close friends and family, turn on each other, not necessarily to save their own skins, but in a frenzy of nationalistic pride, some of which was never expressed before. It's a scary picture of the damage caused by a war, and, although difficult to read, is recommended. The second part is the main character's search for her oldest son on the frontlines of the war. Not as gut wrenching as the first part, it is still an interesting look at the events of that particular war. The author fled Bosnia for Sweden with her two sons in 1992 and this is her first novel, written in her adopted language, which she uses to its full advantage - it's in no way obvious this was by someone writing in a second language.
Sommarsquash tokolosh! (Gem Squash Tokoloshe) by Rachel Zadok
The first part of this - the story of Faith's childhood with her depressed and delusional mother - is nothing short of mesmerizing. The stories her mother tells her of the fairies and the other supernatural beings that surrounding their house are scary and intriguing and you can really emphasize with how this lonely little girl is affected by her surroundings. The second part lets this novel down something terribly, however. Gone is the magic of the fairies and the horrors of the tokolosh, and Faith turns into an indolent version of her mother. Although she does get redemption, I would have wanted it to come from herself, not through an external force. Unfortunately, what started with a bang ended with a whimper. It's a first novel, though, and Zadok is showing enough potential that I would pick up another of her books.
In The Flesh by Koren Shadmi
I knew Koren Shadmi was a fantastic illustrator, but he is also a fantastic writer. His stories in this graphic short story collection are strange and bizarre, but ultimately, underneath that surreal surface are some very intelligent stories about people's difficulty in communicating with other people, especially about their odd feelings - those they think they are the only ones in the world to have. Shadmi's lost souls may be a little sick and sometimes perverted, but I think we have to admit that they are in no way the only ones.
Speaking of the Devil / Blood Engagement by Actus
Actus is a group of five Israeli graphic artists (Rutu Modan, Yirmi Pinkus, Batia Kolton, Itzik Rennert and Mira Friedmann) who publish together in order to reach a wider audience than they could individually. This is part 1 of "Flipper" by Actus (the title because when you get to the end of one story, you need to flip the book over for the other stories) and in this part, Rennert, Friedmann, and Kolton present one story each. Friedmann's is a historic story about the plague and the persecution "suspects" would suffer, Kolton's is based on a true story about death and burial, and Rennert's is about Hell's figuratively freezing over. All three stories showcase their respective artists very well and one could only wish for more - and longer - stories in the future.
Bygone/The Sisters d'Espard by Actus
This is part 2 of "Flipper" by Actus and in this part, Modan, Pinkus, and Kolton present one story each. Modan's is a story about having power over one's life and its truth, Pinkus' about jealousy and murder, and Kolton's is a graphic play on toys and childhood rhymes. All three stories showcase their respective artists very well and one could only wish for more - and longer - stories in the future.
Well done! Congrats! and I have to say...... LOVE the dancing gif! That is priceless!
Congratulations indeed! I have to agree, that dancing lady is spectacular. See you next year - well, in a few days!
@226 and 227
Thank you!!! Although I really don't want to admit it, I think she exhibits the dancing style I have in real life. Scary!! I only wish I could work that garb...!!!! :)
Congratulations on completing your challenge! Yay for dancing girls!
Congratulations! How, oh how will you spend the eons of reading time before 2011?!
Thank you all!! Yes, I am almost paralyzed by the thought of those
Congratulations - I can't see the dancing girls at work but I'll look when I get home. See you over in 11
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