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Author Topic: 50 Books in 2014  (Read 5409 times)

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c-lando

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Re: 50 Books in 2014
« Reply #30 on: February 26, 2014, 11:40:58 AM »

10) Shovel Ready-- Adam Sternbergh

Super-pulpy, super-noir book about a hitman in a dystopian future.  Although really the dystopian part isn't important, really.  It's more about the dark, super-violent tone and creepy people.  Not as disturbing, over-the-top, and un-fun as Vachss, but nowhere near as clever and as good as Ellroy, either.  Sternbergh does have a sense of humor though, which makes this an entertaining rather than heavy read.  It's also really short so it goes down easy.  So overall, it was good for what it was.  Not going to remember it six months later, but I had fun while I read it.
This sounds right up my dark alley (taken out of context, anyone?). Thanks for the review.
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foolsgold

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Re: 50 Books in 2014
« Reply #31 on: February 26, 2014, 11:53:32 AM »

taken out of context, anyone

Speaking of which...

It's also really short so it goes down easy. 

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Zafer Kaya

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Re: 50 Books in 2014
« Reply #32 on: February 27, 2014, 03:45:40 PM »

1)  Life After Life-- Kate Atkinson
2)  The Circle-- Dave Eggers
3)  Inverting the Pyramid:  The History of Soccer Tactics-- Jonathan Wilson
4)  Where'd You Go Bernadette?-- Maria Semple
5)  As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl-- John Colapinto
6)  On Such a Full Sea-- Chang Rae Lee
7)  The Storyteller-- Jodi Picoult
8   Annihilation:  A Novel-- Jeff Vandermeer
9)  Winning Fantasy Baseball-- Larry Schecter
10) Shovel Ready-- Adam Sternbergh
11) Leaving the Sea-- Ben Marcus
12) Bark-- Lorrie Moore

13) Musashi-- Eiji Yoshikawa

Classic Samurai novel.  Reckless but talent youngster eventually learns to master The Force Way and becomes total badass.  It's loooong, there's lots of cool fighting and an epic showdown.  Women aren't treated too well.  Pretty much what you'd expect, but still good.

14) Saga Vol I & Vol II (and the rest of the issues to catch up)-- Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples

I feel kind of mixed on this one.  On the plus side, it's hugely imaginative in terms of the characters, creatures, background and all that.  Lying Cat is pretty awesome.  It's also wonderfully illustrated.  But the plot/story isn't actually all that interesting to me, and there's a lot of gratuitous nudity, violence, sex and cussing that too often reduces this to nothing more than stylized alien porn.  It's more cool than good, but I guess that's kind of the way it goes with comics.

15)  Grasshopper Jungle-- Andrew Smith

This is a story about a teenage kid struggling with typical teenage issues who accidentally unleashes something that destroys humanity.  It's written in first person, which is the book's only minor flaw.  Smith is pretty good at projecting teenage attitude, but not so much teenage voice.  At times there are some really nice turns of phrase that come across as unrealistic because they're so good you know teenagers don't talk like that.  At other times he accurately voices a teenager, but it makes you remember how annoying teenagers are.  It's still a good action story, and there's enough other deep stuff going on that overall I enjoyed it quite a bit.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2014, 04:15:21 PM by Zafer Kaya »
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Dan

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Re: 50 Books in 2014
« Reply #33 on: March 02, 2014, 06:33:34 PM »

1. George R.R. Martin - A Dance With Dragons

Good stuff. Book 5 is better than Book 4, although certain things made me sad. Of course, that could be applied to pretty much the entire series, so there's that.
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c-lando

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Re: 50 Books in 2014
« Reply #34 on: March 04, 2014, 12:37:10 PM »

1. "Gone Girl" - Gillian Flynn
2. "Neon Rain" - James Lee Burke
3. "Burglars Can't Be Choosers" - Lawrence Block - Bernie seems to have become a master detective within a matter of a day. I didn't really like that bit and thought that the final "coincidence" at the end was WAY TOO CONVENIENT. But, I did enjoy Bernie as a character and this definitely had Block's voice. So, I'll probably read another one.
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Kwyjibo

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Re: 50 Books in 2014
« Reply #35 on: March 05, 2014, 08:11:42 AM »

3. "Burglars Can't Be Choosers" - Lawrence Block - Bernie seems to have become a master detective within a matter of a day. I didn't really like that bit and thought that the final "coincidence" at the end was WAY TOO CONVENIENT. But, I did enjoy Bernie as a character and this definitely had Block's voice. So, I'll probably read another one.

It's been a long time since I've read this one but I know it's not one of the best in the series by any means.  Stick with it... Bernie and Carolyn become more and more like Nick and Nora as the series goes on... you know, except for the fact that Carolyn is a lesbian.
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c-lando

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Re: 50 Books in 2014
« Reply #36 on: March 05, 2014, 02:18:29 PM »

3. "Burglars Can't Be Choosers" - Lawrence Block - Bernie seems to have become a master detective within a matter of a day. I didn't really like that bit and thought that the final "coincidence" at the end was WAY TOO CONVENIENT. But, I did enjoy Bernie as a character and this definitely had Block's voice. So, I'll probably read another one.

It's been a long time since I've read this one but I know it's not one of the best in the series by any means.  Stick with it... Bernie and Carolyn become more and more like Nick and Nora as the series goes on... you know, except for the fact that Carolyn is a lesbian.
OK. There is no Carolyn in this book. So, I guess I still have to meet her.
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Kwyjibo

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Re: 50 Books in 2014
« Reply #37 on: March 05, 2014, 02:40:05 PM »

Oh?  Seems like maybe I remember that.  I haven't read those early Bernie books in ages so I can't remember when she comes along.  I'm sure you'll like her, and the two of them together.
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daytime drinking

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Re: 50 Books in 2014
« Reply #38 on: March 09, 2014, 08:59:00 AM »

1.  lord jim- joseph conrad.
2.  one hundred years of solitude- gabriel garcia marquez

3.  the electric kool aid acid test- tom wolfe.  so we can thank mr. kesey for the hippies?  groovy.  not that i've never not wanted to take multiple quantities of lsd, this reaffirms it.  the more i think about how great it would be to be on that bus i understand that i'm already on it, you understand? 
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Zafer Kaya

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Re: 50 Books in 2014
« Reply #39 on: March 14, 2014, 05:44:52 PM »

1)  Life After Life-- Kate Atkinson
2)  The Circle-- Dave Eggers
3)  Inverting the Pyramid:  The History of Soccer Tactics-- Jonathan Wilson
4)  Where'd You Go Bernadette?-- Maria Semple
5)  As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl-- John Colapinto
6)  On Such a Full Sea-- Chang Rae Lee
7)  The Storyteller-- Jodi Picoult
8   Annihilation:  A Novel-- Jeff Vandermeer
9)  Winning Fantasy Baseball-- Larry Schecter
10) Shovel Ready-- Adam Sternbergh
11) Leaving the Sea-- Ben Marcus
12) Bark-- Lorrie Moore
13) Musashi-- Eiji Yoshikawa
14) Saga Vol I & Vol II (and the rest of the issues to catch up)-- Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples
15)  Grasshopper Jungle-- Andrew Smith

16)  Blood Will Out-- Walter Kirn
This is a true story about a flim-flam guy who also turns out have murdered people.  The twist is that Kirn, who wrote Up in the Air actually knew him personally prior to him being exposed.  So I was hoping for some good In Cold Blood-like insight but the book was disappointing.  First, Kirn really dislikes the guy which is understandable but it causes him to paint him in such an unfavorable light that you have difficulty comprehending how he could have fooled anyone.  For which Kirn's explanation is that he (Kirn) is an idiot.  The problem then is that I no longer trust Kirn knowing he's an idiot.  And that the book sort of becomes more about Kirn and his issues instead.  Also, it's kind of overdramatized.  Kirn himself is not even remotely involved with any of the crimes and was never really duped, he just found the guy interesting so hung out with him a bit for entertainment value.  There was really no reason for him to ever question the lies.  He just thought dude was a character and he was right, just more of a character than any reasonable person would suspect.  Which isn't a big deal to me.

17)  Boy, Snow, Bird-- Helen Oyeyemi

Oyeyemi always has a cool sort of writing style and a good imagination even if sometimes it's a bit affected.  The weak point of this book is that the way the plot unfolds is sort of unsatisfying.  There's no real tension.  It's just sort of this happened.  Skip ahead a bunch of years and now this all has happened.  Switch characters and here's some more stuff you didn't know.  So if you focus on the plot it really doesn't make much sense... stuff is just sort of briefly explained away, or alternatively ignored as convenient.  But if you get into the character's voices, her imagination and writing then it's really good.  I wouldn't exactly say it's all style and no substance but it is more of a painting than a story, if that makes sense.

Cockney Rebel

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Re: 50 Books in 2014
« Reply #40 on: March 16, 2014, 06:48:25 PM »

1 ● Paul Brown - The Victorian Football Miscellanany
2 ● Paul Sutton Reeves - Music in Dreamland - Bill Nelson and Be-Bop Deluxe
3 ● Brian Boone - I Love Rock'n'Roll (Except When I Hate It)
4 ● Steve Clarke - The Only Fools & Horses Story
"Only Fools & Horses" is held in the same regard in Britain as "Seinfeld" is in the US. It's kinda in our DNA. This large format book doesn't delve too deep into how the show came into being, but it does explain how it became a TV icon as a result of savvy casting and impeccable comedy writing
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trixi

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Re: 50 Books in 2014
« Reply #41 on: March 16, 2014, 08:31:40 PM »

1.  The Children of Willesden Lane: Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir of Music, Love, and Survival--Mona Golabek
2.  Gimme a Call--Sarah Mlynowski
3.  Period 8--Chris Crutcher
4.  The Truth About Forever--Sarah Dessen
5.  Steal a Pencil for Me: Love Letters from Camp Bergen-Belsen and Westerbork--Jaap Polak and Ina Soep
6.  Now I'll Tell You Everything--Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
7.  First Love--James Patterson
8.  It's Kind of a Funny Story--Ned Vizzini
9.  Branded by the Pink Triangle--Ken Setterington
10.  Survivors:  True Stories of Children in the Holocaust--Allan Zullo
11.  Running Lean--Diana L. Sharples
12.  Private LA--James Patterson
13.  The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World's Most Notorious Nazi--Neal Bascomb
14.  Just Listen--Sarah Dessen
15.  Intensely Alice--Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
16.  Maggot Moon--Sally Gardner
17.  Alice in Charge--Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
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Zafer Kaya

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Re: 50 Books in 2014
« Reply #42 on: March 19, 2014, 07:46:58 PM »

1)  Life After Life-- Kate Atkinson
2)  The Circle-- Dave Eggers
3)  Inverting the Pyramid:  The History of Soccer Tactics-- Jonathan Wilson
4)  Where'd You Go Bernadette?-- Maria Semple
5)  As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl-- John Colapinto
6)  On Such a Full Sea-- Chang Rae Lee
7)  The Storyteller-- Jodi Picoult
8   Annihilation:  A Novel-- Jeff Vandermeer
9)  Winning Fantasy Baseball-- Larry Schecter
10) Shovel Ready-- Adam Sternbergh
11) Leaving the Sea-- Ben Marcus
12) Bark-- Lorrie Moore
13) Musashi-- Eiji Yoshikawa
14) Saga Vol I & Vol II (and the rest of the issues to catch up)-- Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples
15)  Grasshopper Jungle-- Andrew Smith
16)  Blood Will Out-- Walter Kirn
17)  Boy, Snow, Bird-- Helen Oyeyemi

18)  Cat Sense:  How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet-- John Bradshaw

I think they put the "pet" part to get readers.  Understanding how cats think does undoubtedly help you be a better cat companion, but it's not like the book is oriented towards care of cats or has cat owner tips or anything like that.  It's just a study of how cats see, think, behave.  Favorite takeaways from the book:

1.  Cats can be clever, but they really aren't very smart.  They are not deep thinkers at all.  My favorite experiment in the book was they put some food on the end of string, and they put a barrier with a little mousehole cut in it between the cat and the food.  The cat pulls on the string, which draws the food closer to the cat, through the hole in the wall, and cat eats food.  Later, they cut two holes in the barrier.  They put food on one string, no food on the other string.  The cats consistently pulled the wrong string.  Even though they could see over the top of the barrier and see which string had food on it and that pulling on one string just got you an empty string.  They just randomly pulled on both strings.  See, they didn't understand the physics of it at all.  They just knew "pull string, food appears."

So like I used to think my cat was pretty smart because he would jump on the counter, open the cupboard door, drag down a bag of catfood, chew his way through it, and eat it.  But because he's a hunter, all he focused on was the hunting action to get the food.  He still has no idea how cupboard doors work.  And if he had committed the same action, except that the cupboard was somehow on a time delay and opened 30 seconds after he pawed at the handle he would never figure it out because cats got no memory at all.  Anything that happens more than like 2 seconds after something else is just a random event to them, it's not connected in sequence.

I used to wonder if my cat thought that I was a guy who went out and procured food upon being meowed at, or if the cats actually viewed me as withholding food until meowed at.  After all, the food is there the whole time.  Now I think that my cat probably never thought about it at all.  They meow, I give them food, they're good.

So anyways, your cat has decent classical conditioning skills where they can associate up one event/action with another so long as those occur closely together.  They have shit logical skills though, and have no idea why those two things are connected nor do they care.  It's all just patterns and sequences and mostly they just totally live in the moment. 

2.  Cats are crappily domesticated.  Unlike dogs, they were never trained to be helpful.  Like dogs need to learn to obey commands and watch sheep or guard houses.  All of which require responsiveness to human commands or an understanding of human behavior.  Cats were mainly around to catch rats, without human supervision.  The cats that survived amongst humans were the best hunters not the friendliest.  Even recently, many cat owners are attracted to pets because of their independent nature.  We put them outside, they hunt or sleep or defend territory just as they would have in the wild.  They come in at night and hang out with us at night mostly just to cuddle and sleep anyway.  So we haven't really bred much sociability into them.

Also, the book makes the point that cats might actually be getting LESS domesticated.  Mostly people pick up cats as strays, and they are from feral backgrounds.  The ones that are sociable and happy indoors get neutered and kept as pets.  The others get killed.  So mainly the cats that are breeding are all feral.  The cats that are purposely bred are done so for looks and not so much sociability.  Like bengal cats have been cross bred with a certain wild cat that is known among zookeepers to be very reclusive and not human-friendly but there's a demand because they look cool.

19)  Shotgun Lovesongs-- Nickolas Butler

Intertwining tales about a group of four guys (and a wife) now in their thirties and experiencing different paths in life but who grew up together in a small town in Wisconsin. It's told by each of them in first person, each one sort of picking up the narrative where the other left it.  Like lots of deep bonding as dudes share beers in mutual contented manly silence.  One of the guys is a rock star which might make it a bit more interesting for randomville readers, with the added twist that Butler did in fact grow up in a small town in Wisconson and went to high school with Justin Vernon aka Bon Iver.

It gets all the emotional notes right-- small town romanticism, lifelong buddies, creeping mid-life crisis and love lost.  But it can get overly (if quietly) sentimental/hokey at times as well, so you have to be in the right mood.  Much like Bon Iver's music, really. 

Bubba McBubba

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Re: 50 Books in 2014
« Reply #43 on: March 19, 2014, 07:56:39 PM »

7. “Locke & Key Volume 6: Alpha & Omega” by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

The deliriously enjoyable and surprisingly moving series of graphic novels comes to a satisfying conclusion here.  And I say this as somebody whose eyes nearly rolled out of their skull at the beginning, when learning the book is set in the town of “Lovecraft”. 

Fortunately, the series goes far beyond the stereotypical plotting that has made all things Lovecraft-influenced staid over the years, especially the seemingly endless glut of graphic novels that continues unabated.  Alas, the series does not flesh out its characters much beyond the conventions of this genre, yet I will still long recall some of these fictional people as if they were once real.

Recommended? Very highly.

8. “Apocalypse Cow” by Michael Logan

Something is wrong when the funniest thing about a work is its title.  Something is even more seriously wrong when that title immediately becomes less humorous each time you hear it.

“Apocalypse Cow” (see, it's happening already) is a deeply dreadful book.  I feel I am the victim of false advertising as a quote from the legendary author Terry Pratchett on the jacket reads, “Apocalypse Cow made me snort with laughter”. 

Really?  I mean, did anybody check beforehand to see if there might be two books out there with the same title and he read the other?  Because I sure didn't find much in it to laugh about.  One scene that especially sticks in my mind is a scientist getting raped to death by a rabid bull which then gores the resulting corpse into puree.  Wait, maybe I am laughing a bit on the inside.  No, my bad, it was just a bit of searing gas pain.

The closest “Apocalypse Cow” (and I will keep printing the title until you hate me, if you don't already) comes to being interesting is when it decides to call off the gross-out gags and becomes a middling-grade adventure.

But that was too little too late, and this allegedly hysterical novel of a zombie animal apocalypse could have even ended before that point, for all that I care.

Recommended? Apocalypse Cow.  Apocalypse Cow!  APOCALYPSE COW!!!  (Say it gently, and it's like it's snowing.)
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Cockney Rebel

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Re: 50 Books in 2014
« Reply #44 on: March 21, 2014, 02:25:03 AM »

1 ● Paul Brown - The Victorian Football Miscellanany
2 ● Paul Sutton Reeves - Music in Dreamland - Bill Nelson and Be-Bop Deluxe
3 ● Brian Boone - I Love Rock'n'Roll (Except When I Hate It)
4 ● Steve Clarke - The Only Fools & Horses Story
5 ● Ben Fong-Torres - Willin' - The Little Feat Story
About time the Feat were biog'd and the author does a good job in disseminating the appeal of this fine (but often overlooked) band. Like millions of others I lost interest in them after Lowell George died - to me, his voice was everything - but the book persuaded me to maybe try some of the post-Lowell material and give it a whirl. Mainly though I wanted to play "Fat Man in the Bathtub" and "Dixie Chicken" REALLY loud.
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