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Author Topic: 2013 books in 2013  (Read 11982 times)

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Jen

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #30 on: February 04, 2013, 08:57:00 AM »

That book sounds pretty fascinating MissKitty.

   1   The House of Velvet and Glass-Katherine Howe
   2   The Fifth Knight-E.M. Powell
   3   In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin-Erik Larson
   4   Code Name Verity-Elizabeth Wein

The novel is one that IIRC was on a book recommendation list on NPR and is also a teen fiction title. I was a bit hesitant about the age group it is targeted for but because of the recommend, gave it a go. The first part of the book almost made me stop reading it (it seemed VERY juvenile) but I kept at it. I am not sure if the author subconsciously changed the maturity of her narrator or I got used to her style, but the story really began to flow. Because of the writing style in the beginning, I had a hard time liking the character until towards the middle...but I am getting ahead of myself.

The story is about two best friends in England who work for the WAAF in WWII. One is a German translator and the other who helps guide the pilots in to land (she also has a pilot's license). Their friendship is fairly unlikely as the translator is  (apparently) descended from both William Wallace and Mary Queen of Scots and the other is working class (her grandfather a Russian Jew who had emigrated to England and was a motorcycle mechanic). Through a couple of events they are thrown together and become friends. The story begins with a person whose code name is Verity is writing a journal entry about being dropped into a town in France to work on a mission and her friend Maggie who piloted the plane from which she parachuted and was captured by the Nazis after looking the wrong way when she went to cross a street. Oops! You find out that she is writing a journal explaining all of the details that she can recall about her work for the resistance in hopes of staying alive as long as possible. Halfway through the novel, the narrative switches to Maggie's story. For me, this is when the story really become engrossing.

Without going into much more detail, I will say I found the last half emotional, interesting, horrifying and worth the first parts of the novel being somewhat tedious and pedestrian. I was very happy I stuck with it.
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daytime drinking

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #31 on: February 04, 2013, 10:50:56 AM »

1.  you shall know our velocity!- dave eggers

2.  the castle- franz kafka- humor, from kafka? i was amazed to learn (via the intro) that the trial was intended also to be humorous. fooled me. this was the definitive edition, which left off where kafka abruptly stopped (or died).  and those last 30 pages were brutal.  a 20 page sermon from a chambermaid explaining her worth, ehh.  i think i would have liked kafka's original more.  really enjoyed the story though.  unfortunately (or fortunately) k.'s assistants weren't as zany as we were initially led to believe.  i waver how i feel about their utilization because i'm a huge fan of quixote, good soldier svejk, confederacy of dunces etc... literature in that vain... and i'm completely fine with that, esp from kafka who can be so dreary.  it's just that it would have been treading the same water.  but i guess the story itself was completely in tune with all of that satire. 

3.  the alchemist- paulo coelho- my girlfriend suggested i read this as i'm at sort of a crossroads in life, sort of an inspirational coming of age don't give up on your dreams sort of book.  it was very good, quick, easy.  reminds me of hesse's siddartha in a number of ways. 
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c-lando

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #32 on: February 04, 2013, 02:17:31 PM »

1. "Killing Floor" - Lee Child
2. "Who Could That Be at This Hour?" - Lemony Snicket
3. "Hardboiled & Hard Luck" - Banana Yoshimoto - "Kuni hadn't only given us pain, she had also created moments for us that were so much more concentrated than usual. That's how I saw it then. In the world we now lived in, the good times were a hundred times better. If we couldn't catch that sparkle, only the agony would remain." No one gets to me like Banana Yoshimoto.
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cyclone

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #33 on: February 05, 2013, 05:12:16 PM »

1. How Music Works by David Byrne
2. Junkie by William S. Burroughs
3. Queer by William S. Burroughs
4. Revenge of the Lawn: Stories 1962-1970 by Richard Brautigan
5. The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop. by Robert Coover

6. Captain Maximus by Barry Hannah

After finishing that short story collection by Brautigan not long ago, stumbled upon this and at times the playful prose is eerily similar. The only downside is that the main story "Power and Light" was probably the weakest to me, and that is what takes up over a third of the collection here (with "Even Greenland" being the strongest).

7. Botchan by Natsume Sōsek

I had never heard of this one before, an apparently classic Japanese novel.  The storyline and narration seem very Western-oriented in some ways, which was especially surprising considering this was first published in 1906 (and it was just very different in that regard than a lot of the Japanese literature I had read during my education program in college).  The main character is a relate-able character to a lot of canonical American literature, a sharp-witted, arrogant troublemaker-type who becomes a math professor and prides himself in his morality and own moral standing.  And morality is the key word to the novel here, as the overriding theme was the everchanging westernization of Japan in the early twentieth century in major cities such as Tokyo.  That theme is grounded in the prominent storyline of the main character's ongoing relationship with a fellow professor character who plays the role of a European intellectual.  The content on the politics of working in the education industry involving administration and so fourth was also very cleverly written and comical.  Overall I thought this was a great read a a nice change of pace than the usual standards.
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daytime drinking

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #34 on: February 06, 2013, 10:12:17 AM »

1.  you shall know our velocity!- dave eggers
2.  the castle- franz kafka
3.  the alchemist- paulo coelho  

4.  hope: a tragedy- shalom auslander-  my non practicing culturally jewish friend lent me this book.  a man obsessed with death finds an elderly holocaust survivor alive in his attic, pursuing life.  turns out she's a bitch.  it's hilarious    
« Last Edit: February 06, 2013, 11:06:16 AM by daytime drinking »
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MissKitty

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #35 on: February 10, 2013, 09:18:37 AM »

1. Friends Like These - Danny Wallace
2. A Lucky Child - Thomas Buergenthal
3. Going to Sea in a Sieve: The Autobiography - Danny Baker
4. Breathitt County - Stephen D. Bowling M.A.
5. Where Dead Voices Gather - Nick Tosches
6. Alive in the Killing Fields - Nawuth Keat
7. The Secret Holocaust Diaries - Nonna Bannister
8. Warriors Don't Cry - Melba Pattillo Beals

This book, written by one of the "Little Rock Nine," chronicles the author's journey as one of nine African American students who integrated Little Rock's Central High School in 1957. The young Pattillo was a gifted student and dreamer; a girl from a loving family anchored by two strong women, her grandmother India and mother Lois. All she wanted was the best education possible.

Originally, after visiting her uncle in Cincinnati, Melba wanted more than anything to live with him and his family so she could attend school there, where she found everyone friendly and accepting of her, regardless of skin color. But when she learned of the opportunity to be one of the first to integrate the prestigious Central High, she lept at the chance, without really grasping just how controversial and life-changing it would be.

Suddenly, her old friends wanted nothing more to do with her, as they and their families felt she was overstepping her boundaries. Most blacks in Arkansas "knew their place" and were fearful of rocking the boat, as many folks could still vividly recall lynchings of the all too recent past. but once Melba had made her choice, India and Lois made sure she followed through, even as the death threats, physical and mental abuse, and blatant discrimination escalated.

Reading about the horrible things the segregationists did to her and the other eight students made me sick, and ashamed. And the abuse was unrelenting, even after President Eisenhower called in the 101 Airborne to restore order.  

Interspersed with Melba's vivid recollections are diary entries and newspaper clippings, chronicling the daily struggles between the students, Arkansas governor Farbus, the Arkansas National Guard, the 101's, NAACP and the segregationists. It makes for a powerful, and uncomfortable, read.

« Last Edit: February 10, 2013, 09:21:26 AM by MissKitty »
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Bubba McBubba

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #36 on: February 18, 2013, 09:23:20 PM »

5. “The Atrocity Exhibition” by J.G. Ballard

I have owned a cheap UK paperback of this for over a decade now.  There seems to be some sort of psychic bond between me and it, as if it taunts me with, “you know you're going to have to read me one day and, when that day comes, I'll still be here”.  It's like having a copy of the “Necronomicon” in your house--this book seems to have a strange life of its own, if only in my head.  I assume I am not the only person who is both intrigued by, and scared of, the book seeing how Ian Curtis wrote a song of the same title without having read the book beforehand.

“The Atrocity Exhibition” is a cubist portrait of a character's (perhaps the author's) mental breakdown, as aspects of his or her personality becomes violently shattered into separate characters and spaces.  These characters seem largely concerned with re-staging the deaths of particular celebrities or creating what they have determined to be the “ideal” death of a chosen public figure.  As anybody who has seen Cronenberg's movie of “Crash” will know, Ballard has a curious obsession with automobile crashes as a sexual metaphor, and “Exhibition” is a Freudian wet dream, as the violence-as-sex metaphor is stretched to include the Vietnam conflict, Kennedy's assassination and even the intersection of walls and ceilings.  And, yes, Ballard is also obsessed with car crashes here, complete with a chapter titled “Crash!”.  Even after saying all of that, I believe I should emphasize the shocking nature of most of the content here.  Very little of that content is graphically detailed, but the clinical detachment with which the author treats this material made it that much more unnerving (for me, at least).

For so slight of a thing, it is amazing how long this took to read.  It's not even the easiest thing to review, as this is my third or fourth attempt to do so.  I had to read almost every sentence at least twice and, yet, I felt I never felt I was remotely close to grasping the material unless I tried not to follow too closely.  The experience was similar to those 3D posters that look like a random pattern until you let your vision go out of focus and then, when you try to focus in on the resulting stereoscopic image, you end up losing it again.

I feel I was fortunate to have my sanity intact at the end of this disturbing, challenging and yet somehow rewarding experience.  There are moments when “The Atrocity Exhibition” is eerily beautiful, other times it is subversively humorous and still other times it is almost indefensibly repulsive.

This is the way.  Step inside.

Recommended? For more adventurous readers.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2013, 11:59:08 AM by Bubba McBubba »
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Jen

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #37 on: February 21, 2013, 11:17:22 AM »



   1   The House of Velvet and Glass-Katherine Howe
   2   The Fifth Knight-E.M. Powell
   3   In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin-Erik Larson
   4   Code Name Verity-Elizabeth Wein
5 Agincourt-Bernard Cornwell (or Azincourt for the rest of the world)

I am a huge Cornwell fan (and still need to read his Sharpe novels darn it!) so this book did not disappoint. Even when I was grimacing about the extremely descriptive details of battle and wanting to put the book down and puke (okay, I might be exaggerating a bit), I couldn't help but keep right on reading as fast as I possibly could. I knew how it ended of course seeing as Henry V is one of my favorite plays and Branagh movies but still, I was drawn in just the same.

The story revolves around Nicholas Hook, bastard son of a local lord, who happens to be one of those infamous (and feared) English archers. He gets into trouble and has a death warrant on his head. He is banished and he goes to France to fight in the battle of Soissons in hopes of making some money. The battle is a complete disaster and the French turn on the people in Soissons...murder, rape, more murder and even more rape (nuns weren't safe). I was never so glad to be living in the current time period as when Cornwell describes the post-battle scenes of Soissons. Hook manages to survive and makes his way back to England. Long story short, he ends up in the service of a great lord and when Henry calls upon the country for fighting men to fight in France to show France who their true and rightful king is, Hook goes along.

What I love about Cornwell's book is the amount of research he does regarding the subject/time period and makes it so engaging and interesting and horrifying. I enjoyed this book so much that I decided to re-read another book of his about the English archers called, The Archer. I just found out the fourth book in this series is out and am waiting for it to be available on the Kindle so that gives me time to read books 2 and 3 after the Archer. ;)
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trixi

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #38 on: February 23, 2013, 12:02:46 PM »

1.  Son--Lois Lowry
2.  A Street Cat Named Bob--James Bowen
3.  Beyond Courage:  the untold story of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust--Doreen Rappaport
4.  Shadow Woman--Linda Howard
5.  In the Pleasure Groove:  Love, Death and Duran Duran--John Taylor
6.  Something Like Normal--Trish Doller
7.  On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave--Candace Fleming
8.  Talk to the Tail: Adventures in Cat Ownership and Beyond--Tom Cox
9.  The Last Dragonslayer--Jasper Fforde
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Bubba McBubba

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #39 on: February 23, 2013, 04:32:11 PM »

9.  The Last Dragonslayer--Jasper Fforde

I wasn't aware of this until your mention, and I previously thought I had all Fforde expect for "Shades of Grey".  So how was it?  It looks like it is aimed at children.
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trixi

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #40 on: February 23, 2013, 11:25:21 PM »

It's the first Fforde book I've read, so I have no comparison to his adult books. This is a teen book and based on what I'm seeing, there will be more (the Goodreads listing says #1 in a series).  It's a fantasy, a genre I don't normally read.  The premise is that hundreds of years ago, a pact was made between humans and dragons, giving dragons some land that they are allowed to continue living on as long as they quit killing humans, and humans aren't allowed on their land.  Moving to current day time, the last dragon has been predicted to die and now everyone wants to be ready to stake claim to the land.  The dragonslayer is the only person who can actually go on dragon land and is responsible for killing dragons if they break the pact.  There are political  and magical themes in the book as well. I really enjoyed the book...wanted to keep reading and was looking forward to reading the next in the series immediately, but then realized that this is a new release and the next book doesn't exist yet :-)  
« Last Edit: February 24, 2013, 12:01:17 AM by trixi »
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Ella Minnow Pea

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #41 on: February 23, 2013, 11:52:08 PM »

Actually Book 2 does exist - but you have to go to the UK to get a copy.

I saw Fforde on his last book tour supporting this book (this is the third time I've seen him). He actually came up with the concept before The Eyre Affair but couldn't get it published. Then Harry Potter was out, so he didn't want people to think he was trying to join the teen fantasy bandwagon. So the timing worked out that it's finally out now. The third (and supposedly final) book in the Dragonslayer trilogy is being published this year in the UK and next year in the US. Then a super secret standalone novel, and then a prequel to Shades of Grey. He has a new baby (who's now a toddler), so it's taking longer for each book.

I really enjoyed the book, but I've always liked teen fantasy (Diana Wynne Jones is one of my favorite authors). I picked up my copy in the UK in 2010 and may breakdown and order book 2 from Amazon.co.uk. It's similar to the Harry Potter and Hunger Games books in that it's targeted for young adults, adults will also enjoy it.
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trixi

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #42 on: February 24, 2013, 12:12:22 AM »

Thanks for the update Ella...I'll keep this in mind! 
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va-vacious

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #43 on: February 24, 2013, 04:58:20 PM »

I just want the Shades of Grey sequel! 
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MissKitty

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Re: 2013 books in 2013
« Reply #44 on: March 04, 2013, 05:50:55 AM »

1. Friends Like These - Danny Wallace
2. A Lucky Child - Thomas Buergenthal
3. Going to Sea in a Sieve: The Autobiography - Danny Baker
4. Breathitt County - Stephen D. Bowling M.A.
5. Where Dead Voices Gather - Nick Tosches
6. Alive in the Killing Fields - Nawuth Keat
7. The Secret Holocaust Diaries - Nonna Bannister
8. Warriors Don't Cry - Melba Pattillo Beals
9. Billy Bragg: Still Safe for Miners - Andrew Collins

Well the review I wrote earlier this week disappeared in the Randomvilke move and I'm not going to retype the whole thing again. Suffice to say it's a good book about an interesting musician and is highly recommended.
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