Books: Last Book You Read and Rate It

Discussion in 'Entertainment' started by Ceremony, Mar 12, 2017.

  1. Spawn Something in the water

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    Books I read in 2019. Had the goal of reading 20 throughout the year. Happy to say I made it to 21 :). My reviews are obviously not as in depth as our resident expert @kihei, but it is fun to look back at what I've read!

    Dreadful Water by Thomas King - 7/10
    The Red Power Murders by Thomas King - 6.5/10
    - Books one and two of Thomas King's detective/mystery series. Fairly standard stuff with the fresh perspective of having an indigenous protagonist set in an indigenous community. Not sure quite how many of them there are, I know I've got another one on the shelf waiting to be read. I appreciate Thomas King quite a bit, this is far from his best work, but they are very readable.
    No Exit by Taylor Adams 6.5/10
    - One of those "thriller" page turners in a similar vein to Gillian Flynn. Deliberately violent, often grotesquely so. But a fun read.
    Alice Isn't Dead by Joseph Fink 7/10
    - Very quirky horror novel from the guy who does the podcast Welcome to Night Vale. It starts strong and has a very interesting world of monsters and those trying to stop them. I would have rated it higher but it sort of unravels as the mysteries begin to get explained.
    Touch by Claire North - 6/10
    - Honestly I can't remember much about this one. Was enjoyable enough, but largely forgettable.
    A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab 7/10
    A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab 7/10
    A Conjouring of Light by V.E. Schwan 7/10
    - I use to read a tonne of fantasy when I was a kid/teenager. It was a lot of fun to return to the genre. Set in a universe where there are multiple different London's on different worlds. Each one unique in its own way. The Grey London essentially our own. The Red London where magic is common place. White London where magic is running out and Black London where magic consumed the world.
    Find You In The Dark 5/10
    - Eh.... a thriller where the protagonist is obsessed with finding the long lost corpses of serial killer's victims. Eventually finds himself tangled up with an active serial killer. Like Touch mentioned above, largely forgettable.
    Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman 4/10
    - Malerman's earlier novel Birdbox was a fairly interesting thriller with a cool gimmick for the monsters. This one is a Western horror that honestly... just kind of sucks? I donno. I wouldn't recommend it!
    Recursion by Blake Crouch 8/10
    - Don't want to give away too much. People in the world are seemingly randomly finding themselves recovering "lost memories" to entire lives that never existed. Novel picks up from there. Very interesting read. Crouch's previous novel Dark Matter was one of my favourite novels of the previous few years. This one is good, but not quite as good.
    The Enchanted by Rene Denfield 6/10
    - Short novel about a women who works to try and free death row inmates from their executions. This one didn't quite hit the mark in being as emotional as I think it was hoping to be.
    The Lost City of Z by David Grann - 7.5/10
    - Non-fiction book about the life of Percy Fawcett. A British explorer (and WWI war veteran) who became famous exploring the Amazon in the early 1900s. He and his son disappear on their last expedition never to be seen from again. Part biography of Percy Fawcett, part history of colonialism in the area and part the authors attempts at discovering what happened to Fawcett on his fateful final excursion. A fairly interesting read but for my money if you want to read one adventure non fiction book about the unknown depths of the Amazon jungle I would recommend The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston. For my money a more interesting read.
    The Hunger by Alma Katsu 7.5/10
    - Historical fiction about the ill-fated Donner Party. A group of pioneers who try and make the long journey across America to California in the midst of winter. This one takes a horror angle introducing monsters to the fold. A fun and spooky read.
    The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware 7.5/10
    - Page turning "whodunnit." The protagonist is a journalist on the maiden voyage of an extremely exclusive Nordic cruise ship who discovers that someone may or may not have been murdered on board. Fun read as you try and unravel which of the 10 odd guests could be responsible for the crime. Like a lot of these stories, the payoff is rarely as good as the journey to get there. But I'm a sucker for this kind of a book.

    From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty 9.5/10
    - For my money the best book I read all year. A non fiction read by a mortician traveling the world witnessing and being part of the various funerals/death rituals of different cultures. Truly a fascinating read and the author is able to write about death in a way that treats it with the utmost respect but also has a great knack for humour. Truly a fascinating read. A great exploration of death. Not for those who have died (although she explores different cultures beliefs in the afterlife) but for those who loved them and what we do and how we react when someone we care about passes away.
    Highly recommended!


    The Chestnut Man
    by Soren Sveistrup 8/10
    - Nordic crime thriller. Two detectives on the hunt for a serial killer who leaves little chestnut dolls at each of his gruesome murders. Violent, dark, gritty. A fun read.
    Assata an Autobiography by Assata Shakur 7/10
    - Autobiography about the life of Black Panther and Black Liberation Army member/leader Assata Shakur. All the way from her childhood up to her arrest and conviction for the murder of a New Jersey State police officer and her eventual escape from prison. Clearly a very complex woman who played a big part in a very complex and troubling time in America. Honestly not a subject I know a tonne about, but it was certainly an fascinating read. If I have a criticism to lay at the feet of the author is that perhaps she is not quite as forthcoming about her involvement in some of the crimes she was accused for as I would have liked. Either way, it was a worthwhile read about a very complex and interesting person in American history.
    Red Rising by Pierce Brown 8/10
    Golden Son by Pierce Brown 8.5/10
    Morning Star by Pierce Brown 8.5/10
    - The Red Rising trilogy. Set ~900 years in the future where humanity has colonized the solar system and people have been divided into a caste system with the Golds on top as almost mythical super humans down to the Reds who exist solely to work beneath the surface of mars to mine valuable Helium 3 which will help to terraform mars to make the surface livable. The protagonist is a Red who begins to see the injustices occurring around him and is determined to change it all. These are action packed sci fi/fantasy reads. The first one feels somewhat like a Hunger Games or Battle Royale type novel, but the second and third really expand beyond that with some damn fine action sequences written frequently throughout.

    So far in 2020 (upping the goal to 25 for the year):

    The Red Tent by Anita Diament 6.5/10
    A novel written from the perspective of Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob from the Book of Genesis. An attempt to expand the stories of Dinah, her mothers and motherhood in this biblical setting. Honestly, the first 100 pages or so nearly lost me. I'll be perfectly upfront, the only time I'm not an atheist is when I'm watching a good exorcist movie. So that portion of the novel just really didn't do much for me. I've never read the Book of Genesis and have no intention of doing so. It wasn't until the protagonist is actually born in the 2nd part of the book and is able to provide a set of eyes to look at the world through that I was able to begin to get into the novel. The exploration of womanhood, motherhood and the roles that women played in these cultures was interesting. By the end I was fully on board. Almost got a tear out of me...

    Which is another goal along with my 25 books for the year. So if anyone has any suggestions for some good cathartic crying, I'm all ears! I'm happy to branch out into different genres :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2020
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  2. kihei Registered User

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    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Thanks, Spawn, but I am not worthy of that accolade. I'm more or less a dilettante when it comes to literature, and there are no shortage of people on this thread better at discussing books than I am.

    As for a book whose ending moved me to tears, I'd recommend A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Mara.
     
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  3. Gordon Lightfoot M. Night Shulman?

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    Welp, might as well share my 2019 reads:

    Classic Crews: A Harry Crews Reader by Harry Crews - 7.5/10

    Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell - 6.5/10

    Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple - 7.5/10

    Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest by Hanif Abdurraqib - 8/10

    Lightfoot by Nicholas Jennings - 5.5/10

    Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson - 7.5/10

    Me Before You (Me Before You #1) by Jojo Moyes - 7/10

    Whores: An Oral Biography of Perry Farrell & Jane's Addiction by Brendan Mullen - 6/10

    The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce - 6/10

    Is It Still Good to Ya? Fifty Years of Rock Criticism, 1967-2017 by Robert Christgau - 8/10

    After You (Me Before You #2) by Jojo Moyes - 5/10

    Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas - 7.5/10

    90's B***h: Media, Culture, and the Failed Promise of Gender Equality by Allison Yarrow - 7.8/10

    Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham - 7.5/10

    It Came From Something Awful: How A Toxic Troll Army Accidentally Memed Donald Trump Into Office by Dale Beran - 7/10

    Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi - 8/10

    Dreaming the Beatles: The Love Story of One Band and the Whole World by Rob Sheffield - 7.5/10
     
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  4. Spawn Something in the water

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    Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From The Crematory by Caitlin Doughty 9.5/10

    I mentioned above that the authors second book, From Here to Eternity, was my favourite read of 2019. This one here is her first book. From Here to Eternity is an exploration of different cultures relationship with death. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is an exploration of the authors relationship to death. I think her second book is probably a better book. More thought provoking, perhaps more profound. Her second book is a more personal book. More intimate. Because of that I connected with it on a different level than I did her second book. I can't recommend either enough. Really fascinating stuff. Just a warning though, these books have a great amount of detail on the nitty gritty of what happens to someones body after they die. From the point of death to the point they end up in the ground (or in a fire, or eaten by bird, or eaten by loved ones). Definitely morbid reads that some might not have the stomach for.
     
  5. Spawn Something in the water

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    Believe it or not, I have that book on my to be read shelf and I have for a number of years. In fact, I believe it came from a recommendation in this thread. I just haven't gotten around to reading it yet.
     
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  6. halincandenza Registered User

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    Been on a bit of a reading binge as of late. Here's a few I finished.

    Edmund Morris - The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. Great biography, and Teddy is now my favorite President and is probably the most interesting President. This is a trilogy, and I can't wait to read the next two. Would highly recommend to anyone who likes a good biography.

    Laurence Sterne - A Sentimental Journey - First published in 1768, this was a bit of a tough read due to the old English. Still got a bit out of it, and excited to read his "masterpiece" The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman." Wouldn't recommend.

    Lisa Taddeo - Three Women. Another highly engrossing book. I really felt for these women. Would recommend.

    Matt Haig - Notes on a Nervous Planet - Seems like everyone has some anxiety these days, and Haig is pretty good at dissecting, and finding the cause to a lot of problems people face in today's world. Is it time we thought about putting down our phones? Even for a little bit?

    Good book, but I would recommend "Johann Hari's - Lost Connections" if you wanted a deeper read on the subject of mental health.

    Robert Kagan - Of Paradise and Power - Kagan looks at the big differences between Europe and the USA when it comes to world events, and why America acts the way it does, and why Europe sometimes looks on in horror. If you're interested in world events I would highly recommend Kagan - one of the foreign policy thinkers of the USA, past President's based their foreign policy on Kagan's thinking. He was also an architect of the "Project for the New American Century." Would recommend "The world america made" by Kagan over this though.
     
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  7. kihei Registered User

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    Careless Love by Peter Robinson

    I don't want to generalize too much, but while reading this novel, it struck me that mystery fans who like particular series or writers--in my case, Christie, Conan Doyle, Camilleiri, Wallander, Rankin, and Robinson--grow not to care greatly about plot. Each new book in the series becomes the literary equivalent of comfort food--it's just fun to hang out again with one's favourite characters and milieus, the actual plot is almost superfluous. The only reason I came up with this notion is that, damn, Careless Love proved the exception to this general rule--the mystery is a really good one with a very well executed plot. Given that there are 26 books in Robinson's Inspector Banks series, it's quite impressive that the author managed the feat after all this time with the same central characters, but he did. Two co-eds and a rich businessman are found dead at about the same time, but with no obvious links between them. And gradually, despite the lack of viable evidence, links slowly start to emerge as a plausible mystery begins to unfold. Robinson even provides a few good insights into the human condition along the way. Definitely a good book to curl up with on a cold winter night.
     
  8. GB Registered User

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    I read exactly 100 books last year, my lowest total for a few years. Six 5* is the most I've had in a year since I started cataloguing my reading in Goodreads. However this year it does feel like there have been a lot of disappointing books. Books that I had high hopes for but turned out to be just OK. I'm happy to provide a review or further thoughts on any of the books if anyone is interested.

    The books are grouped by rating then listed alphabetically by author's surname and then alphabetically by title. The books aren't in order from 1-100 because it would be impossible for me to compile a list I was satisfied with.

    The rating scale is:
    5* - Brilliant
    4* - Still really good
    3* - Good or at least worth reading
    2* - Passable or the only book on a subject at hand or the only book I had with me.
    1* - If a book was this bad I'd have abandoned it. Luckily I had no abandoned books this year.


    Books I read in 2019:

    5*

    An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
    Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner
    Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
    My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
    Normal People by Sally Rooney
    Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

    4*

    Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
    Elastic by Johanne Bille
    The People Look Like Flowers At Last: New Poems by Charles Bukowski
    Milkman by Anna Burns
    One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson
    The Fall by Albert Camus
    Sweetland by Michael Crummey
    Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
    Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill
    The Captain and the Enemy by Graham Greene
    Tales of Love & Loss by Knut Hamsun
    English Animals by Laura Kaye
    The Wall by John Lanchester
    Sunshine by Melissa Lee-Houghton
    Her Body And Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
    The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War by Ben Macintyre
    Thunderstruck & Other Stories by Elizabeth McCracken
    How to be Famous by Caitlin Moran
    Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
    The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami
    Termin by Henrik Nor-Hansen
    There There by Tommy Orange
    Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter
    Saturday Night and Sunday Morning by Alan Sillitoe
    Artful by Ali Smith
    Free Love and Other Stories by Ali Smith
    Like by Ali Smith
    Spring by Ali Smith
    The Book of Revelation by Rupert Thomson
    Loaded by Christos Tsiolkas
    Reunion by Fred Uhlman
    The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
    City Psalms by Benjamin Zephaniah

    3*

    Sea Monsters by Chloe Aridjis
    Disobedience by Naomi Alderman
    The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
    Consent by Leo Benedictus
    If I'm Scared We Can't Win by Emily Berry, Anne Carson, and Sophie Collins
    My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
    A Confederate General from Big Sur by Richard Brautigan
    Ragnarok by A.S. Byatt
    Vox by Christina Dalcher
    A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers
    Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink
    Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
    Four Russian Short Stories by Gazdanov & Others
    Everything Flows by Vasily Grossman
    Late in the Day by Tessa Hadley
    The Humans by Matt Haig
    Post Everything: Outsider Rock and Roll by Luke Haines
    Stuff I've Been Reading by Nick Hornby
    Massively Violent & Decidedly Average by Lee Howey
    The Way Out by Vicki Jarrett
    Baby by Annaleese Jochems
    The First Bad Man by Miranda July
    Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata
    Original Bliss by A.L. Kennedy
    Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto by Chuck Klosterman
    Black Vodka: Ten Stories by Deborah Levy
    Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals by Patricia Lockwood
    An Unremarkable Body by Elisa Lodato
    Homesick For Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh
    McGlue by Ottessa Moshfegh
    Night-Gaunts and Other Tales of Suspense by Joyce Carol Oates
    The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma
    A History of Capitalism According to the Jubilee Line by John O'Farrell
    Handwriting by Michael Ondaatje
    Man with a Seagull on His Head by Harriet Paige
    There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé by Morgan Parker
    The Farm by Joanne Ramos
    Goya by Paola Rapelli
    Paintings that Changed the World: From Lascaux to Picasso by Klaus Reichold
    Controlled Explosions by Michael Robbins, Patricia Lockwood, and Timothy Thornton
    Oreo by Fran Ross
    You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian
    Satan in Goray by Isaac Bashevis Singer
    Adèle by Leïla Slimani
    Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile by Adelle Stripe
    Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky
    Venus as a Boy by Luke Sutherland
    Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
    Brand New Ancients by Kate Tempest
    Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove by Ahmir Questlove Thompson
    Cherry by Nico Walker
    Tin Man by Sarah Winman
    Frankissstein: A Love Story by Jeanette Winterson
    Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth
    Reputations by Juan Gabriel Vásquez
    Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

    2*

    The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell
    XX by Angela Chadwick
    Down And Under: A Rugby League Walkabout In Australia by Dave Hadfield
    Morning Breaks In The Elevator by Lemn Sissay
    Astroturf by Matthew Sperling
     
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  9. Amerika Ye lyin'dog

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    The Fall
    and Adele please!
     
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  10. GB Registered User

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    OK. Give me a couple of days for The Fall. I read it early in 2019 and I'm still not sure exactly how I feel about it.

    Adele is pretty easy to review. It's an easy and engaging read that moves along quickly. If the book was longer then the details of her life and various sexual exploits would get tedious. Thankfully the tedium of the acts never tips over into making the book tedious. Unfortunately the character of Adele is basically absent in the book. I understand that because she lives her life to fulfil her need for sex/attention from men that there isn't a lot of her as a person left. But in taking away almost the whole personality of the protagonist and then hanging the narrative on the protagonist you're left with a void at the centre of the novel. And that ultimately made it a disappointment for me.
     
  11. Amerika Ye lyin'dog

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    Do you think it may have been written as a conscious stylistic choice? Everything I've heard from Slimani doesn't seem particularly interesting but I have no issue with a surface novel as an aesthetical or narrative choice. For example, a why or how isn't always terribly important to me. Do you think that was the case in that book or just a contradiction created by bad authorship?
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
  12. GB Registered User

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    It's definitely a conscious stylistic choice to mirror Adele's personality in that way. Adele is absent from her own life and the author chooses to make her basically absent from the book too. (I did read this in translation so it's possible that plays a part too).
     
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  13. Amerika Ye lyin'dog

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    Ocean Sea by Alessandro Baricco (1993) - Mostly great outside of the odd hammy passage. I love the lyrical setup. Various charming characters, aided by enchanting children, are resting (for a variety of goals and reasons) at a sea resort for an indefinite period in an unrecognizable era. While not plotless, the narrative construct is very fluid and the denouement does require the reader's full concentration to be entirely enjoyed. Baricco is a flashy writer with a highly creative mind and who is just as skilled at writing prose as he is in the world-building required to pull off his story. I do think that Baricco, while creative, did not do himself any favors by centering his story around a sea thematic for it's a subject that can easily lend itself to eye-rolling flowery passages which does happen by moments here but is mostly avoided thanks to a gang of unorthodox characters which add a lot of appeal, depth and style to the story without feeling forced. It also includes a phenomenal comedic story towards the end of the novel, where one of the characters, Bartleboom, a man searching for his soulmate, is stumped with confusion and indecision following his discovery that the woman he has fallen in love with at first sight has a twin sister. A great, enthralling read that I found immediately accessible despite its challenging structure. Simultaenously mixing the brutal and the tender.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2020
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  14. Chili Registered User

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    I read Errol Flynn's autobiography a few years ago (My Wicked Wicked Ways), which is quite the read. He probably knew he was dying, so didn't hold back. There was a great deal of real life adventure in there, believe a movie was made of the book. Probably the best autobiography I have read up there with Papillon, Songs My Mother Taught Me (Marlon Brando), Charlie Chaplin's autobiography.

    That book was actually ghost written by Earl Conrad, so the book pictured above is his story about writing My Wicked Wicked Ways. Flynn had a carefree reputation around Hollywood and this confirms it was well earned. It's probably amazing he lived to be even 50 years old. Anyone who has seen the movie The Sun Also Rises, Flynn comes across as his character in real life. He was good friends with Hemingway. A nice companion book to the autobiography.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2020
  15. halincandenza Registered User

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    This is probably the best book I’ll read all year. A great memoir - even better story. There’s something here for everyone.

    5 star book.
     
  16. Amerika Ye lyin'dog

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    La maison de rendez-vous by Alain Robbe-Grillet (1965) - A night of murder and drug running is reconstituted through different points of view by a single narrator, who may or may not be involved in the slimy underworld of opulent parties. This is now the third work of Alain Robbe-Grillet I have taken in in the last few months and it is difficult not be impressed by his unique sensibilities that truly did succeed at reinventing the way an artist can produce a novel. But funnily enough, for an artist who was so dedicated at reinventing the artform, his style does look to be consistent from one work to the next and on a one-track road to destination. Still, the whole is worth it, and Robbe-Grillet writes brilliant, creative singular sentences that converge to create a glistening spiderweb that is fun to get lost in and sticks with you. Considering his fastidious care for minuscule details and complete disregard for didacticism, it's no wonder that Nabokov rated him the very best of the French writers (he rated Robbe-Grillet's Jealousy the greatest love story since Proust's In Search of Lost Time) and I certainly think that Robbe-Grillet is a worthy choice for the title, although there are many greats I have not read yet (I am particularly curious to read Jean Cocteau and Raymond Queneau). But a reader without interest in experimental literature/who places a great importance to traditional accessibility isn't likely to get much out of his works. The last thing Robbe-Grillet will offer his reader is climax and resolution.
     
  17. Communal Blood Registered User

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    7/10
     
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  18. kihei Registered User

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    Agent Running in the Field
    by John le Carre

    Nat is the usual middle-aged, slightly jaundiced field agent, the now familiar kind that populate le Carre spy novels. Out of sheer coincidence he has developed a relationship with a young badminton partner named Ed who may be giving classified information to the Russians. Ed's intentions may be honourable, though, although that matters not at all to Nat's bosses. That's the plot in a nutshell but it takes a long time to get there, not that the journey is unpleasant. Agent Running in the Field is John le Carre's 25th spy novel, and I think he is running out of plots. The graceful, sometimes elegant prose is still alive and well and le Carre's gift for characterization remains pleasantly in evidence. But I was fully two-thirds of the way through Agent Running in the Field when I had to stop and read the cover blurb to figure out what the thread of the plot was, not exactly a good sign. And indeed the plot was only just kicking in at that stage which made my uncertainty seem justified. The rest of the way is a nice, little thriller that works quite well--that is, until I started to think about it a little and then the plot just seemed contrived and shallow, like the author isn't really trying very hard on this one. Another bad sign: the title could have been picked out of a hat for all of its relevance to the goings on. Pretty much this novel is for ardent le Carre fans; others should read one of his earlier works if they haven't already and skip this one entirely.
     
  19. ItsFineImFine Registered User

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    So far this year

    Agatha Christie

    Death On The Nile (Poirot #17) - 5/5

    Murder On The Links (Poirot #2) - 4/5

    Dumb Witness (Poirot #16) - 4/5

    The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Poirot #4) - 5/5

    Crooked House - 4/5

    The Mystery of The Blue Train (Poirot #6) - 4/5

    The Mysterious Affair At Styles (Poirot #1) - 4/5

    Josephine Tey

    The Daughter of Time (Alan Grant #5) - 2/5

    GK Chesterton

    The Innocence of Father Brown - 3/5

    Elizabeth Peters

    Crocodile On The Sandbank (Amelia Peabody #1) - 3/5
     
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  20. Amerika Ye lyin'dog

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    Clock Without Hands by Carson McCullers (1965) - A timid and tepid little thing. Didn't get much out of it, despite its heavy themes of the deep south. The novel relates four interlinked stories of JT Malone, a pharmacist dying of Lukemia, Fox Clane, a somewhat well-meaning (!) but oblivious judge and politician who wants to bring back slavery, Poe Sherman, an insecure and impressionable AA orphan and Jester Clane, the grandson of Fox, an open-minded teenager who struggles with his grandfather's notion, his own father's suicide and his sexuality. The book reads sometimes as poor man's version of The Death of Ivan Ilyich and sometimes as a coming-of-age tale that doesn't come to anywhere...really. Characteristics and emotions that seem to take the forefront at the start end up being essentially ignored as the story goes on...events that look to serve as a climax have the effect of a dud and are never dwelled upon despite the fact that the book is a complete tell, don't show experience, which I don't have an inherent problem with, as I'm not a show, don't tell extremist. The sums just don't add up to a whole and it seems the author got lost in her numerous trails of her narrative. There are some solid passages by the end but all in all, not a rewarding experience.
     
  21. ItsFineImFine Registered User

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    Another mystery:

    Death In A White Tie (Inspector Alleyn #7) by Ngaio Marsh [1938] - 4/5

    Takes a while for the murder to happen in this one unfortunately but the first third is not boring. I don't find Alleyn as entertaining as some of the better detectives out there but the books are well-written. The mysteries aren't as well crafted as the best of a Christie or Doyle but the characters and investigation are fairly well done. Only one real nitpick is that the setting is usual England rather than the author's actual home of New Zealand in which a mystery novel setting would have been more interesting to read of.

    edit: there's a TV adaptation, I haven't seen it so I can't comment if it's any good but here it is anyways:

     
  22. kihei Registered User

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    [​IMG]

    Night Boat to Tangier
    by Kevin Barry

    If you want to read a very Irish Irish novel by a very Irish Irish writer, Night Boat to Tangier is the book for you. Maurice and Charlie, a couple of 50-something reprobates, former middling drug dealers in the past, make their way from Cork in Ireland to the Spanish port of Algeciras where they hope to bump into Maurice's estranged daughter and convince her she should return back home. The first part of the novel reads like something Samuel Beckett (Waiting for Godot) might have come up with, but then the novel expands to consider both Maurice and Charlie's tragicomic back story. The writing is wonderfully evocative, and by the end of the novel a melancholy that can only be described as quintessentially Irish has weaved a spell of longing and regret. The prose is to be read and to be savored like a good dram of Bushmills or Jameson.
     
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  23. Amerika Ye lyin'dog

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    It's Your Turn, Laura Cadieux (1973) by Michel Tremblay - A french-canadian novel by one of the province's leading author. Didn't get too much out of it and it is an easy read despite the consistent working-class slang and herein lies the problem with the book. Despite using the working-class, stream of consciousness technique that has been used in many books before and after Tremblay's novel, there really isn't much there below the surface. The story follows a day in the life of Laura Cadieux, an overweight working-class mother who heads to the weekly appointment to the doctor's office, a place which serves as a respite from life for both her and other kindred spirits (i.e. tacky, crass quebecois women). Outside of that, there isn't much to say about it - it doesn't have much more than its slang going for it. Tremblay skims over issues of womanhood, parenthood, religion, sex, self-worth and race through the mostly dim-witted and sad reflections of his main character and these reflections are not particularly elaborate or communicated with particular style. In fact, Tremblay seems to unwillingly verge between sympathy and genuine derision for his creation, a derision that I am not certain he is/was aware of. He certainly has an ear for the way working-class quebecois speak, but outside of this superficial quality, this is not a work that I find has meaningful depth or/and style. Perhaps there are other, much better works from this celebrated author. I certainly hope he is not a mediocrity propped up by his using working-class gripes and vernacular as a substitute for genuine artistic worth. God knows the province of Quebec has its fair share of fine authors that it shouldn't be necessary.
     
  24. ItsFineImFine Registered User

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    Murder At The Vicarage (Miss Marple #1) - 4.5/5

    While not as enjoyable as the Poirot stuff, there's a very good narrator here and Agatha Christie is so much better than any other classic writer at creating a juicy mystery.

    Whose Body? (Lord Peter Wimsey #1) - 4/5

    Annoying f***ing lead here but the mystery itself is good and it never felt like it dragged. Just not as good in terms of the twists and turns you get in a Christie novel.
     
  25. ItsFineImFine Registered User

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    The Woman In White (1859) - 3/5

    While the plot itself is excellent, this is a tiringly wordy novel for most of its duration. Really makes me appreciate a good concise 200ish page mystery novel more. I'll skip The Moonstone.
     

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