50 Book Challenge 2014 Part 3

(1000 Posts)
Southeastdweller Sun 01-Jun-14 10:31:45

Thread 3 of the 50 book challenge. Here are the previous threads...

The idea is to read 50 books in 2014 (or more!)



CoteDAzur Sun 01-Jun-14 10:46:04

Shiny new thread - yay! grin

I don't think of dystopian fiction as being set out of our time. If that's the definition, then it probably isn't dystopian (although ya novels like Hunger Games and Divergent aren't clearly set in a different time either, but are dystopian). Although, it would not be unreasonable to argue that Lexicon is set in a future projected time: where words can be used for mind control and the poets exist- these aren't currently feasible in our society. Although it's close enough to be more than a little unnerving.

It has a lot of the themes and ideas prevalent in dystopian literature though: the undesirable society (I doubt anyone wants to live with that level of mind control)- and as such, it is also "frightening" in a sense; it presents a pessimistic view of the ruling class (the poets) - I don't think they come off especially well by the end ; the poets are at times brutal and small groups form a kind of resistance (Woolf, Eliot); there is a clear theme of identity (the poets have to give up/ hide theirs, they're given alternative names, there's also the storyline with Wil); there are also elements of the intellectuals being controlled.

It has all the literary features of dystopian fiction: conflict, a hero, subversion.

riverboat1 Sun 01-Jun-14 15:53:21

Bringing over my complete list so I can keep track:

1. Mad about the boy, Helen Fielding
2. The Cuckoo's Calling, Robert Galbraith
3. The Husband's Secret, Liane Moriarty
4. Mr Penumbria's 24 Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan
5. The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kudd
6. A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
7. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
8. Agnes Grey, Anne Bronte
9. The Rosie Project , Graeme Simsion

10. Shirley, Charlotte Bronte
11. The Fault In Our Stars, John Green
12. The Tin Drum, Gunter Grass

13. What Alice Forgot, Liane Moriarty
14. Stoner, John Williams
15. Instructions for a Heatwave, Maggie O'Farrel
16. Lady Oracle, Margaret Atwood

17. The Hypnotist's Love Story, Liane Moriarty
18. The Shock of the Fall, Nathan Filer
19. Longbourn, Jo Baker
20. North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell
21. Life After Life, Kate Atkinson

22. I've Got Your Number, Sophie Kinsella
23. Appletree Yard, Louise Doughty
24. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte
25. Stay Close, Harlan Coben
26. The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
27. Maddadam, Margaret Atwood
28. Love Nina, Nina Stibbe

Looking back at my list, I'd say my Top 5 so far is made up of:

- A Farewell to Arms
- The Rosie Project
- Longbourn
- North and South
- Life After Life
- The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

(OK, that's 6 but shhh, I couldn't choose).

frogletsmum Sun 01-Jun-14 16:50:01

Just read through about 10 pages to catch up. Lexicon sounds interesting. Will add to my TBR list.

Since last post, I've read
20. The Last Pre-Raphaelite, Fiona MacCarthy - huge biog of Edward Burne-jones, lots of detail and research gone into it, but felt a bit detached.
21. Last Friends, Jane Gardam - 3rd in her trilogy about elderly ex-pats coming back to Britain after the handover of Hong Kong. Not quite as perfect as the first two, but still warm and funny and sad. A great read.
22. And the Mountains Echoed - great story in it but too many characters and different narratives.

Now reading The Scarlet Letter but I've got The Goldfinch in my sights!

tumbletumble Sun 01-Jun-14 18:19:46

My top 5 so far this year:

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman
Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth
The Strangest Man by Graham Farmelo
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

CoteDAzur Sun 01-Jun-14 21:32:51

Wednesday - re Dystopia:

This is really interesting. I never thought there could be doubt about whether a book is dystopian or not smile

Looking at the definition of the word "dystopia":

Merriam Webster Dictionary says it is "an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives".

Oxford Dictionaries says it is "an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one".

I really think "dystopian" refers to a fictional society/world, as does "utopian", obviously. Dystopian novels are a sub-genre of sci-fi, and that is because they are all imagined societies - 1984, Brave New World, A Clockwork Orange, Fahrenheit 451, etc.

I haven't read Divergent but Hunger Games is definitely set in the future. Are there now or have there ever been a society where each city gives up two of its children to fight to the death? No. Therefore, it is set in the future. In fact, its Amazon page says "Set in a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place..."

"Although, it would not be unreasonable to argue that Lexicon is set in a future projected time: where words can be used for mind control and the poets exist- these aren't currently feasible in our society."

Maybe they are perfectly feasible now and we just don't know it! That is the story of the book, after all smile - an everyday encounter of a girl on the street with a young guy doing a street survey shows her the existence of these people she never suspected. Every little detail in the book is consistent with the world as we know it, all the way down to technology they use (cell phones, internet, etc) and the time it takes to fly to Australia. There is absolutely no sign that the story is taking place at any time but right now.

I'm really surprised that you would think Lexicon may be taking place in the future and Hunger Games may be a story taking place right now in 2014. It goes to show how different we all are as readers and how different our perceptions of the same book may be.

DuchessofMalfi Sun 01-Jun-14 21:59:19

48. Heartbreak Hotel - Deborah Moggach. 3/5. Quite an amusing, lightweight novel. Not great literature, but enjoyable all the same, and good to read about romance amongst the middle aged and elderly. A bit daft in places, but lots of fun and feel good factor. Would make a great holiday read.

Next up, The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini, and Gentlemen & Players - Joanne Harris.

Cote - your definitions don't really assist the argument that "Lexicon" is not dystopian, because it is an imagined place. The Poets are not real, their life is not real, the ability to control minds by showing "barewords" and for those to wipe out entire societies is not real. It is imagined. It is set in a world that is close to ours (eerily close to ours) but it is not the reality we know. All good dystopian novels do this - they are our world, but not quite. The second definition also refers to it being a place where "people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives" - this is the life the Poets lead. They are dehumanized - their identities are taken away from them when they become poets (they are no longer themselves); they accept they have to fulfill needs, but to be successful poets, they must do so without desire (a base and necessary human emotion); they cannot reveal their true identities without being compromised. They live in fear of being compromised - this fear is underlined by the fact that trainees are given separate "powerful" words so as not to be able to use the power against each other. There is a fear of language and what it can do.

I'm curious about how you've come to the conclusion that "Lexicon" is set in the present day. I may have missed something, but I could see no clear references to this (yes, the technology etc that they have is the same as ours, but the reality is not ours). In fact, it seems to be deliberately not set in a certain time, so as to create the illusion that this could very easily be our world. Ultimately though, it is not our world. It is not real. It could be, but it isn't. This is one of the things that makes it a good dystopian novel.

"There is absolutely no sign that the story is taking place at any time but right now" - except, you know, that whole poet's / mind control scenario wink

"Divergent" and "Hunger Games" are only set in the future in the same way that "Lexicon" is. They all have elements of our world, but with a dark twist that makes their world both familiar and unfamiliar to us at the same time. All good dystopian novels do this: take "Nineteen Eighty Four" that was a novel set in the future, but it was a future so close to the reality of the time is was written that it was unnerving, because of it's familiarity with the world at that time. I'll leave aside discussion of "Divergent" as you aren't familiar with it.

To address your "Hunger Games" query "Are there now or have there ever been a society where each city gives up two of its children to fight to the death?" In the literal sense of giving up two children every few years to fight to the death, no. But in another sense, yes, this is a world we are familiar with. We have "given up" our young to fight to the death in wars since the beginning of civilization (and arguably before that). The two world wars are obvious examples: young men were conscripted to fight other young mean, from other societies) to the death for "the greater good" (Wilfred Owen's poem "Dulce et decorum est" is a great description of this - the reality of young men fighting to their deaths because their country's leaders have told them "it is sweet and right to die for your country" "your country needs you" etc etc). Many young men were "chosen" rather than volunteering, rather than the system we have now, where our young men volunteer (in a way "as tribute") so that other young men are not forced to go to war. There are parallels here with a world that we know and understand.

In "Hunger Games" there is also the parallel that the government is the head of society: it's location is a place of wealth, opportunity, glamour, "high society", whilst the further from the government location you go, the more desolate and poor the districts become. There is an argument to be made that this is similar to our society. Certainly, it is a reality we can be familiar with, in the UK, but more clearly the world as a whole.

"Hunger Games" also incorporates our dependence on reality TV (and by "our" I don't mean yours and mine personally - I would rather pickle and eat my own eyeballs than watch reality TV shows, and I have an inkling you may feel the same), but as a society that dependence / reliance is there. In shows like Big Brother, The X Factor, Britain's Got Talent, Celebrity Jungle Thing (I forget it's name) etc, there is a focus on people being chosen from the masses to compete with all the other chosen ones, avoiding eviction, to be the sole survivor at the end. Granted, they don't literally fight to the death, but there is a parallel there. It is something we are familiar with, with an unfamiliar twist, so as to unnerve and "frighten" us into believing that this could happen.

That was larger than intended, and I have more grin

In a definition of Dystopian Fiction, John Joseph Adams makes this comment:

"In a dystopian story, society itself is typically the antagonist; it is society that is actively working against the protagonist’s aims and desires. This oppression frequently is enacted by a totalitarian or authoritarian government, resulting in the loss of civil liberties and untenable living conditions, caused by any number of circumstances, such as world overpopulation, laws controlling a person’s sexual or reproductive freedom, and living under constant surveillance" (Adams, 2011).

In "Lexicon" society is the antagonist - a society where technology is used to classify people ("Are you a dog or a cat person?" etc). The work of the Poet organisation is directly in contrast to Emily's aims and desires: she wants to retain her own name (Emily) on becoming a poet - she cannot, she wants to be allowed to have a relationship with another poet -she cannot, she finds a way to make a happy life for herself in Broken hill - the Poets take that away from her. There is a loss of civil liberty - mind control, particularly in Emily's case where she is forced to commit an awful act in direct contrast to her own wishes. The circumstances causing this include living under surveillance and laws controlling sexual freedom (in fact, in Emily's case, this seems to be the main motivating factor).

The article also makes the following relevant points:

"Some common themes found in dystopian fiction include mastery of nature—to the point that it becomes barren, or turns against humankind; technological advances that enslave humans or regiment their lives; the mandatory division of people into castes or groups with specialized functions; and a collective loss of memory and history making mankind easier to manipulate psychologically and ultimately leading to dehumanization"

"Discussions regarding personal freedom, the role of free will, the value of individual resistance to dictatorships, and the power of technology to transform people’s lives are also typical characteristics of dystopian fiction."

On [http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/lesson_images/lesson926/DefinitionCharacteristics.pdf this] website, the

"Dystopia: A futuristic, imagined universe in which oppressive societal control and the illusion of a perfect society are maintained through corporate, bureaucratic, technological, moral, or totalitarian control. Dystopias, through an exaggerated worst-case scenario, make a criticism about a current trend, societal norm, or political system"

"Lexicon" fits the bulk of this definition: it is imagined (in the sense that aspects of the world are not real), the poet's maintain an illusion of a perfect society, where people are controlled by thoughts / through technology (but we are aware that this is an illusion as the main character deviates from this right from the outset), and the novel itself is an interesting discussion / criticism of the current trend / societal norm of seemingly random questionnaires, technology controlling what we see (currently this applies to adverts on websites we visit which are targeted towards us), but in Barry's world, this has been advanced further so that entire websites are constructed based on information we have revealed through technology.

It also lists the Characteristics of a Dystopian Society, a number of which are relevant to this novel:
• Propaganda is used to control the citizens of society (signs on the gates at Broken Hill, false reporting of the events in the area, words in all areas designed to exercise control over the general public)
• Information, independent thought, and freedom are restricted (I don't need to explain the parallel's here, do I?)
• A figurehead or concept is worshipped by the citizens of the society (Yeats is worshipped by the poets in the sense that he represents the best they can be in their line of work)
• Citizens are perceived to be under constant surveillance (they are under constant surveillance)
• Citizens have a fear of the outside world (the poet's are afraid of life outside of their faction)
• Citizens live in a dehumanized state (discussed earlier)
• The natural world is banished and distrusted (nothing can be trusted to be real with the poet's around - their is always a sense that they are controlling the outcome)
• Citizens conform to uniform expectations. Individuality and dissent are bad (particularly clear in the Poet's)
• The society is an illusion of a perfect utopian world (the world looks idyllic in a sense - people only get information they want or need, the concept of being a Poet initially looks like the perfect world - the idea of being able to control others with language appears utopian, but the novel subverts this and shows us what happens when this goes wrong.

Have you had enough yet? because I have more...

CoteDAzur Mon 02-Jun-14 12:24:37

"I'm curious about how you've come to the conclusion that "Lexicon" is set in the present day. "

Because there is absolutely no indication that it is set at any other time than today. None whatsoever. Unlike Hunger Games, which is very clear that it takes place in a dystopian future North America.

"In "Lexicon" society is the antagonist"

Er... no smile Society at large has no idea that any of this is going on. The antagonist is a secret society. Lexicon is no more dystopian than Da Vinci Code, where you also realise that there are secret societies pulling the strings behind the scenes.

This genre is called Conspiracy Fiction.

I understand why you are confused - the existence of a secret society with what looks like supernatural powers makes it look "unreal". However:
(1) Those powers are not supernatural: They are people who are naturally resistant to persuasion whose skills are then further trained. Then they get given these 'words' that work to 'persuade' others.
(2) Even if they were supernatural, that would only make this book sci-fi, not dystopian.

Actually, this book is similar to Dr Sleep (the sequel to The Shining) - people with special powers control and/or prey on the rest of us. Neither book is dystopian, since they do not describe a terrible future world. They both describe today's world, with a secret society of special powers as the antagonist.

I'm not confused at all Cote, I just don't agree with you, which is a different thing entirely.

Are you really going to hang your entire argument on the fact that you believe it isn't set in the future? Because, it ISN'T present day. It cannot be present day. The abilities and technology outlined in the book simply don't exist now. For that reason alone, it can't be considered to be present day. I accept it's not far in the future - many of these elements are possibilities, but they don't currently exist.

Even if you don't accept that, it doesn't prevent the novel from being dystopian (or at the very least having dystopian elements) because a novel does not have to be set in the future to be dystopian. It has to be an imagined world, an attempt to create a utopia which has failed.

From wikipedia: "As fictional dystopias are often set in a future projected virtual time and/or space involving technological innovations not accessible in actual present reality, dystopian fiction is often classified generically as science fiction, a subgenre of speculative fiction." Dystopias are OFTEN set in a future projected time, not exclusively. Furthermore, "Lexicon" does involve technological innovations which are not accessible in actual present reality.

You're also disregarding all the other aspects of dystopian fiction which point to "Lexicon" being dystopian, or at the very least, having a heavy dystopian element.

Ok, so I should have been clearer the antagonist is a secret society - it's still a society. And, actually, society at large IS the antagonist - they are so easy to brainwash and manipulate with language that they inadvertently cause the rise of a secret society bent on controlling their minds.

There's also the fact that a number of reviews refer to it as dystopian / having dystopian elements (including one that the publishers saw fit to publish in the front of the novel) which points to at least a possibility that the author has considered the possibility of the novel being dystopian.

Published on his website are these:

“A scary and satisfying blend of thriller, dystopia, and horror.”
—Devon Thomas, Library Journal

“Barry’s smartest dystopia yet”
—Michael Ann Dobbs, io9

Other reviews include:



(referring to it as a dystopian society)

"A dark, dystopic grabber in which words are treated as weapons, and the villainous types have literary figures’ names. Plath, Yeats, Eliot and Woolf all figure in this ambitious, linguistics-minded work of futurism."
—Janet Maslin, New York Times

This one refers to the parallel society - so it's not our world, but an imagined version of it (which might offer us one point of agreement?) "Lexicon grabbed me with the opening lines, and never let go. An absolutely thrilling story, featuring an array of compelling characters in an eerily credible parallel society, punctuated by bouts of laugh-out-loud humor."
—Chris Pavone, New York Times bestselling author of The Expats

I have no doubt you can find me a hundred reviews that suggest "Lexicon" isn't dystopian, but that wouldn't really help my argument...

CoteDAzur Mon 02-Jun-14 13:34:39

It's not my argument, Wednesday. It's not an argument at all.

Read Dr Sleep and let me know if you think that is dystopian and/or happening in the future.

Maybe others here who have read Dr Sleep can tell us what they think, too.


I'll have a look at Dr Sleep as a future read, definitely.

Regardless of the merits or otherwise of it being dystopian, I thoroughly enjoyed "Lexicon" - thanks for the recommendation

CoteDAzur Mon 02-Jun-14 13:50:40

Bringing my list to this thread + adding the latest read:

1. The Worst Journey In The World - Apsley Cherry-Garrard
2. The Reason I Jump: One Boy's Voice From TheSilence Of Autism - Naoki Higashida
3. Cook With Jamie - Jamie Oliver
4. Music In The Castle Of Heaven: A Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach - John Elliot Gardiner
5. The Cuckoo's Calling - J. K. Rowling
6. The Twelve - Justin Cronin
7. Bad Science - Ben Goldacre
8. The Luminaries - Eleanor Catton
9. A Good And Useful Hurt - Aric Davis
10. The Prestige - Christopher Priest
11. The Genesis Secret - Tom Knox
12. Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel
13. Dune - Frank Herbert
14. A Colder War - Charles Cummings
15. Persuader - Lee Child
16. Déjà Vu - Ian Hocking
17. Dance Of The Happy Shades - Alice Munro
18. The Sky's Dark Labyrinth - Stuart Clarke
19. The Mote In God's Eye - Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
20. Shock Of The Fall - Nathan Filer
21. Lexicon - Max Barry

22. The Sensorium Of God - Stuart Clark

This is the sequel to The Sky's Dark Labyrinth, which I read last month. 'Labyrinth' was about Kepler & Galileo and this book focuses on Halley & Isaac Newton, slightly further in time. Again, I couldn't help but go shock at how the church and its cronies held back the advancement of science and rational thought for so long.

As with 'Labyrinth', this book also came short of my expectations. It was OK and I'm glad I read it because I learned things about the discoveries & lives of these men that I didn't know before, but it's no A Strangest Man or Measuring The World.

Next (and last) book in the trilogy is The Day Without Yesterday, which tells the story of Albert Einstein.

CoteDAzur Mon 02-Jun-14 13:51:05

You are very welcome, Wednesday. Let me know if you come across anything similar smile

I've a few on my to-read list which Goodreads recommended but I haven't tried them yet

How did you find Bad Science Cote? Someone else has recommended that to me.

CoteDAzur Mon 02-Jun-14 14:19:40

I liked it a lot. I think it should be required reading in schools smile

Sounds like high praise indeed. I might bump it up the list a bit.

I'm meant to be working by way through the books I chose for the Goodreads group series challenge, but I feel like I've lost my way with it a bit. I'm currently reading the 5th in the Anne Rice Vampire chronicles and am struggling with it, but I don't want to give it up because I feel like I've invested so much in reading the series up to that point, that I want to know how it pans out.

I'm thinking of putting the challenge to one side for a bit and reading some other books

My list so far:

The 1. Neil Gaiman "The Ocean at the End of the Lane"
2. Grimm's Fairy Tales
3. Victor Hugo "Les Miserables"
4. Diane Setterfield “The Thirteenth Tale”
5. Anita Shreve “The Lives of Stella Bain”
6. Vickie Johnstone - "Travelling Light"
7. Jodi Picoult "The Storyteller"
8. Stephanie Meyer - "Twilight"
9. Stephanie Meyer - "New Moon"
10. Stephanie Meyer - "Eclipse"
11. Germaine Greer "The Female Eunuch"
12. Stephanie Meyer "Breaking Dawn"
13. Alan Sugar "The CV"
14. Alicia Hart "Brains, Trains and Video Games"
15. Gavin Extence "The Universe vs Alex Woods"
16. Colin F. Barnes "Artificial Evil"
17. Sue Monk Kidd "The Secret Life of Bees".
18. William Landay "Defending Jacob".
19. Jodi Taylor "A Second Chance"
20. Maria Goodin "Nutmeg"
21. Vernon Coleman "Secrets of Paris"
22. Nathan Filer "The Shock of the Fall"
23. Charlotte Perkins Gilman "What Diantha Did"
24. Essie Fox "The Somnambulist"
25. Neil Gaiman "Stardust".
26. John Kerr "A Dangerous Method".
27. Anne Rice "Interview With The Vampire".
28. Anne Rice "The Vampire Lestat"
29. Jasper Fforde "The Last Dragonslayer"
30. Louise Rennison "Withering Tights"
31. Louise Rennison "A Midsummer Tights Dream"
32. Suzanne Collins "The Hunger Games"
33. Suzanne Collins "Catching Fire"
34. Suzanne Collins "Mockingjay"
35. Ian Rankin "Knots and Crosses "
36. William Golding "Lord of the Flies"
37. Patrick Dilloway "The Carnival Papers"
38. Anne Rice "The Queen of the Damned"
39. Matt Pritchett "25 Years of Matt".
40. Ian Rankin "Hide and Seek".
41. Deborah Harkness "A Discovery of Witches"
42. William Shawcross "Counting One's Blessings: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother"
43. Phillipa Gregory "The White Queen"
44. Anne Rice "The Tale of the Body Thief
45. Nicholas Best "Five Days that Shocked the World "
46. Deborah Harkness "Shadow of Night ".
47. Ian Rankin "Tooth and Nail". Pretty solid Rankin. Had some good twists.
48. Roger Mortimer "Dear Lupin: Letters to a Wayward Son"
49. Philippa Gregory "The Red Queen"
50. Ian Rankin "Strip Jack"
51. Ian Rankin "The Black Book"
52. "Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops"
53. William Harrison Ainsworth "The Lancashire Witches".
54. Philippa Gregory "Lady of the Rivers"
55. Veronica Roth "Divergent"
56. Faye Carlisle "Psychology for Parents"
57. Philippa Gregory "The Kingmaker's Daughter"
58. Max Barry "Lexicon"

I don't know why there's a stray "The" in there

Cheboludo Mon 02-Jun-14 20:56:04

I'm going to copy everyone else & bring my list over smile

1) Longbourn - Jo Baker
2) You had me at Hello - Mhairi Mcfarlaine
3) Love, Nina - Nina Stibbe
4) Getting over Mr Right - Chrissie Manby
5) The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty

6) The Donor - Helen Fitzgerald
7) Mr Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore - Robin Sloane
8) The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion
9) Black Venus - Angela Carter
10) The Emergence of Judy Taylor - Angela Jackson
11) Sir Gawain and Green Knight - trans Simon Armitage
12) Can Anybody help me? - Sinead Crowley
13) Alex by Pierre LeMaitre.

14) Romps, Tots and Boffins: the strange language of news - Robert Hutton
15) The Examined Life: how we lose and find ourselves - Stefan Grosz
16) The Unknown Ajax - Georgette Heyer
17) The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
18) The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins

19) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
20) Scaredy Cat - Mark Billingham
21) Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid
22) Relative's book.
23) Beatrice Goes to Brighton - M C Beaton.
24) The Library of Unrequited Love - Sophie Divry.
25) The Language of Dying - Sarah Pinborough.
26) Eleanor and Park - Rainbow Rowell.
27) Fun Home - Alison Bechdel
28) The Cry - Helen Fitzgerald

29) The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
30) Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch.
31) After the Armistice Ball by Catriona McPherson
32) Poison by Sarah Pinborough
33) We are all Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
34) Thank you, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse
35) Beauty by Sarah Pinborough
36) The Burry Man's Day by Catriona McPherson
37) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
38) Charm by Sarah Pinborough

39) Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

I really liked Beautiful Ruins, Walter brought the different threads of the story together and each section was compelling and interesting. Walter writes selfish yet loveable rogues well, this novel is full of very flawed yet very attractive, endearing characters.

skinmysunshine Mon 02-Jun-14 21:01:26

Cheboludo I really enjoyed Beautiful Ruins. The Richard Burton chapter is just so funny but I enjoyed the rest of it too.

mumslife Mon 02-Jun-14 21:06:35

just marking my placesmile smile

Best1sWest Mon 02-Jun-14 21:37:30

Hello all, been very slow and not reading much lately due to sore eyes.

36. Colour, A Journey Through The Paintbox by Victoria Finlay. A recommendation from another thread by SpottieDottie.

It's a combination of travelogue and history behind the colours artists use. Fascinating to read the stories behind such names as rose madder, burnt umber, French ultramarine etc. Full of anecdotes as well. There's a fascinating chapter where the author goes to Afghanistan in 2001 to visit the lapis lazuli mines. Really enjoyed it.

Hi everyone smile

Cote invited me to join this thread after seeing my 'scary books' thread, so I'd love to. I haven't read much for about 8 years, I have a DS who's 7 which says it all really I guess.

Anyhow, I decided to try the '52 Challenge' someone told me about, even if I didn't think I could read a book a week, but so far it's going wonderfully. I have used a lot of recommendations on various threads on here, and here is my current list for this year:

1. The Associate - James Patterson
2. The Double Comfort Safari Club - Alexander McCall Smith
3. The Bronze Horseman - Paullina Simons
4. Tatiana and Alexander - Paullina Simons
5. One moment, One morning - Sarah Rayner
6. Shift - Hugh Howie
7. Dust - Hugh Howie
8. The Summer Garden - Paullina Simons
9. The Light Between Oceans - M.L.Steadman
10. The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year - Sue Townsend. I hated this with a passion, and will never recommend it.
11. The 100 Year Old Man... - Jonas Jonasson
12. A walk in the Woods - Bill Bryson
13. The Last Runaway - Tracey Chevalier
14. e - Matt Beaumont
15. The Racketeer - John Grisham
16. Life Expectancy - Dean Koontz
17. A Fall of Moondust - Arthur C Clarke
18. Shades of Grey - Jasper FFord
19. Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel
20. The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
21. Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood
22. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
23. I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith
24. Behind the Scenes at the Museum - Kate Atkinson
25. The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson
26. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
27. She's Come Undone - Wally Lamb
28. The Corrections - Jonathan Franzen
29. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
30. The Book Thief - Marcus Zusac
31. The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey

Just starting 32: Outpost by Adam Baker, my first scary one as all the others have been very 'safe' books.

I'm really enjoying reading everyone else's lists as well.

juneybean Mon 02-Jun-14 21:58:48

Yikes thanks for making the new thread I completely lost off with reading lately!

Will update with my reads so far later

In enjoying seeing everyone's full lists!

Book 40 For A Few Demons More by Kim Harrison

Following on from the fourth in the series, this one deals with the on-going search of the werewolves and, apparently, demons for the statue stolen by Rachel's ex-boyfriend. Plenty of witches, vampires, werewolves, demons, pixies, and elves, with a fair amount of sex and violence thrown in for good measure.

On to book six in the series next. Once that and book seven are done I might go back to a bit of historical fiction, although the most recent in the Merrily Watkins series by Phil Rickman will be out in paperback on Thursday so it might be that one instead.

Cheboludo Mon 02-Jun-14 22:29:37

skinmysunshine I think I might've fallen in a wee bit love with Pasquale grin I did want to shake Burton for taking so much money off poor Pasquale, although I guess he was too drunk to realise the whole time.

TodaysAGoodDay Welcome! I'm a newbie to this thread too, having just started this year. What I've realised through recording all the books I've read this year is how quickly books slip my mind. I really wish I'd kept a record over the years.

Sorry, Cote - Just seen your question: I got a bit lost/bored by the long, long sections of stuff on Dystopia because I haven't read the book you're on about and so couldn't attach all the long comments to anything.

I've read, 'Dr Sleep' and imho it is not Dystopian because it is clearly our world, with added supernatural elements, rather than the imagined society which I think is necessary for a true Dystopian novel.

Book 60 - Another Edmund Crispin, 'Buried For Pleasure'. I really enjoyed it but they are getting a bit samey now. Need more fiction, as am still not fancying non-fiction, but only have one more Crispin awaiting me, and a stack of non-fiction.

CoteDAzur Mon 02-Jun-14 22:34:07

"I've read, 'Dr Sleep' and imho it is not Dystopian because it is clearly our world, with added supernatural elements, rather than the imagined society which I think is necessary for a true Dystopian novel."

Exactly. Thank you smile

Phew - I passed! grin

But I still stand by my earlier argument!

CoteDAzur Mon 02-Jun-14 22:35:39

What was your earlier argument? That my posts are long and boring? grin

Well, since everyone is doing lists for the new thread (and I have a suspicion I may have miscounted)...

1. The Secret History of the World Jonathan Black
2. Sherlock Holmes: The Will of the Dead George Mann
3. The Black Country Alex Grecian
4. The Language of Flowers Vanessa Diffenbaugh
5. Death on the Nile Agatha Christie
6. A Most Wanted Man John le Carre
7. The Casebook of Newbury and Hobbes George Mann
8 Wool Hugh Howey
9. Ghosts of War George Mann
10. A Cat, a Hat, and a Piece of String Joanne Harris

11. The Mists of Avalon Marion Zimmer Bradley
12. Gone Girl Gillian Flynn
13. The Murder at the Vicarage Agatha Christie
14. Never Go Back Lee Child

15. The Witch Hunter Bernard Knight
16. 59 Seconds Richard Wiseman
17. Pagan Britain Ronald Hutton
18. The Reader Bernhard Schlink
19. Let It Bleed Ian Rankin
20. The Complaints Ian Rankin
21. Mindfulness Mark Williams & Danny Penman
22. Cross and Burn Val McDermid

23. Divergent Veronica Roth
24. Insurgent Veronica Roth
25. Allegiant Veronica Roth
26. Quirkology Richard Wiseman
27. Mortal Causes Ian Rankin
28. Natural Magic Doreen Valiente
29. The End of the Wasp Season Denise Mina
30. The Hanging Garden Ian Rankin

31. Broken Homes Ben Aaronovitch
32. The Celtic Realms Myles Dillon & Nora Chadwick
33. The Book of Unholy Mischief Elle Newmark
34. The English Monster Lloyd Shepherd
35. Heresy SJ Parris
36. Dead Witch Walking Kim Harrison
37. The Good, the Bad and the Undead Kim Harrison
38. Every Which Way But Dead Kim Harrison
39. A fistful of Charms Kim Harrison

40. For a Few Demons More Kim Harrison

No - that every book can be considered dystopian because nobody's life is perfect! But I forgive you. wink

CoteDAzur Mon 02-Jun-14 22:47:52

Oi! That was MY comment!

CoteDAzur Sun 01-Jun-14 10:06:49
Well, I think we can all agree that the world is imperfect and always was so every single book ever written would be dystopian by that definition.

I know - and I argued against it (and was right!). smile

Nessalina Mon 02-Jun-14 22:54:52

Hi, I've not been on since thread one, but I've been keeping count, so here's my list to date:

50 book challenge

1) The Partner - John Grisham
2) The Story Teller - Jodi Picoult
3) The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt
4) The Thirteen Problems - Agatha Christie
5) The Carrier - Sophie Hannah
6) Hercule Poirot's Christmas - Agatha Christie
7) The Listerdale Mystery - Agatha Christie
8) The Shining - Stephen King
9) Doctor Sleep - Stephen King
10) The Time of the Ghost - Dianne Wynn Jones
11) Take a Look at me Now - Miranda Dickson
12) The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman
13) What Alice Forgot - Liane Moriarty
14) The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith
15) The Courage Tree - Diane Chamberlain
16) The Husband's Secret -
Liane Moriarty
17) The Perfect Retreat - Kate Forster
18) The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
19) The Long Walk - Steven King
20) Summers Child - Diane Chamberlain
21) When You Walked Back Into My Life - Hilary Boyd
22) The Secret History - Donna Tartt

Top five so far (in no particular order)...
Doctor Sleep
The Goldfinch
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
What Alice Forgot
The Secret History

Incidentally, I've not read Lexicon, but I heard an interesting thing on University Challenge the other day. Margaret Atwood coined the word 'Ustopian' in discussion about whether her own novels are SF or 'dystopian'. It essentially means a combo of utopia and dystopia, because she felt like each one contained the latent parts of the other, ie. no fictional future could be wholly good or bad, there's always a human element lifting it up or dragging it back.

Ugh - that is why I am increasingly annoyed by Margaret Atwood.

Nessalina Mon 02-Jun-14 22:58:23

Wednesday - the first three of the Vampire chronicles are probably three of my all time favourites, but it goes waaaay downhill from there sad
I vaguely enjoyed The Tale of the Body Thief, but I don't think I ever finished Memnoch the Devil, and I tried many times! As far as I'm concerned, it's an awesome trilogy, and that's that - if you're not enjoying, give up now!

Sonnet Mon 02-Jun-14 23:14:29

Just checking in - still on book 29 - I am a Pilgrim.
My kindle broke and today I got a new one. I have spent all
Evening downloading content. The most irritating thing is that whenever I had seen a good book on here or had one recommended in RL I downloaded a sample so I am now feeling very cross that I have lost them all....

DuchessofMalfi Tue 03-Jun-14 08:10:14

Updating with my list of books read so far this year:-

1. The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith
2. Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls - David Sedaris
3. May We Be Forgiven - A M Homes
4. Ratburger - David Walliams
5. Takedown Twenty - Janet Evanovich
6. The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
7. Mansfield Park - Jane Austen
8. Apple Tree Yard - Louise Doughty
9. The Cellist of Sarajevo - Steven Galloway
10. The Six Wives of Henry VIII - Alison Weir
11. Into the Darkest Corner - Elizabeth Haynes
12. Love, Nina - Nina Stibbe
13. The Pedant in the Kitchen - Julian Barnes
14. The Song of Lunch - Christopher Reid (poetry)
15. Sisterland - Curtis Sittenfeld
16. The Mammy - Brendan O'Carroll
17. Nonsense - Christopher Reid (poetry)
18. Kiss Me First - Lottie Moggach
19. The Love Object (short stories) - Edna O'Brien
20. The Story of Before - Susan Stairs
21. The Hare with Amber Eyes - Edmund De Waal
22. The Good Thief's Guide to Berlin - Chris Ewan
23. Mad About the Boy - Helen Fielding
24. Harvest - Jim Crace
25. Lady Audley's Secret - Mary Elizabeth Braddon
26. Restoration - Rose Tremain
27. A Scattering (poetry) - Christopher Reid
28. The Examined Life - Stephen Grosz
29. Just What Kind of Mother Are You? - Paula Daly
30. Jigs and Reels - Joanne Harris
31. A Commonplace Killing - Sian Busby
32. Queen's Gambit - Elizabeth Fremantle
33. Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris
34. One Night in Winter - Simon Sebag Montefiore
35. Big Girl Panties - Stephanie Evanovich (awful, dire rubbish)
36. Alys, Always - Harriet Lane
37. The Sea - John Banvile
38. On The Beach - Nevil Shute
39. The Wild Things - Dave Eggers
40. A Life Like Other People's - Alan Bennett
41. Merivel - Rose Tremain
42. The Marrying of Chani Kaufman - Eve Harris
43. The Age of Miracles - Karen Thompson Walker
44. Twelve Years a Slave - Solomon Northup
45. Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops - Jen Campbell
46. Brighton Rock - Graham Greene
47. And The Mountains Echoed - Khaled Hosseini
48. The Lie - Helen Dunmore
49. Heartbreak Hotel - Deborah Moggach

Am aiming for 100 books this year (fingers crossed) smile

Eeks, sorry for the long boring posts on dystopia! It's been a long time since I had a good debate about a book and I got a bit carried away.

I take your point about Dr Sleep (though I haven't read it so can't compare) and I can see how that might apply to "Lexicon", but I maintain that the novel has a strong dystopian element to it.

Which novel shall we debate next? wink

Nessalina thank you smile I enjoyed the first and third more than the second, and really enjoyed The Tale of The Body Thief. I think I've got to a turning point with Memnoch and am quite enjoying it now. Though if he mentions Dora's menses once more, I may set fire to him. I think my problem with them is that there are huge sections where nothing happens and the discussion is repetitive and a bit dull.

Duchess I'd say you're well on track for 100.

CoteDAzur Tue 03-Jun-14 08:47:27

Wednesday - I enjoyed our debate re dystopia. We'll properly take over the thread when tumble & others finish Lexicon & we can discuss the book without worrying about spoilers [evil laugh] grin

DuchessofMalfi Tue 03-Jun-14 08:51:34

Providing I stay on track, I should make it to 100 books this year. Last year's tally was around 120 shock. Still no idea how I got there - sounds like I do nothing but sit around reading all day grin and that's definitely not the case (I don't watch much tv, so read a lot in the evenings, and whilst waiting for the DC to come out of after school clubs etc).

Off to get some jobs done right now ....

CoteDAzur Tue 03-Jun-14 08:55:34

" Margaret Atwood coined the word 'Ustopian' in discussion about whether her own novels are SF or 'dystopian'."

Dystopian is a sub-genre of sci-fi. Her dystopian novels are also sci-fi.

"It essentially means a combo of utopia and dystopia"

What? Neither utopia or dystopia, then.

"because she felt like each one contained the latent parts of the other, ie. no fictional future could be wholly good or bad, there's always a human element lifting it up or dragging it back"

Utopia or dystopia doesn't refer to the "human element". It is a literary classification and has nothing to do with whether there are some nice characters in the book hmm

I haven't read any Margaret Atwood. I was going to, but this sort of silliness from an author really puts me off.

Nessalina Tue 03-Jun-14 09:05:42

CoteDAzur - I don't necessarily think she's right, I just thought it was interesting wink

Wednesday - ugh, I'd forgotten about the menses! confused

Sonnet Tue 03-Jun-14 12:20:45

Right - just had a re-cap by trawling through the thread and this is where I am:
1.Jamaica Inn -Daphne Du Maurer
2.The Oak Apple - Harrod-Eagles, Cynthia
3.Before I Go To Sleep - SJ Watson
4.The Machine Gunners -Robert Westall
5.Charlotte Grey -Sebastian Faulks
6.The Twins - Saskia Sarginson
7.The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
8.The Hangmans Song -James Oswald
9.River of Destiny -Barbra Erskine
10.Burning Bright - Tracy Chevalier
11.My Family and Other Animals - Clare Balding
12.Cold Granite - Stuart McBride
14.The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul -Deborah Rodrigueze
15.Harvest - Jim Crace
16. The Night Rainbow
17. Cuckoo�s Calling
18. The Light Between Oceans - M L Steadman
19. The Personal History of Rachel DuPree by Ann Weusgarber
20. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filet
21. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
22. Last Bus to Woodstock � Colin Dexter
23. White is for Witching
24. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
25. The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin
26. The Crow Trap by Ann Cleeves
27. Love in the time of Cholera
28. Love Hunt � Fiona Walker
29. I am a Pilgrim (amlost finished!)

I have slowed down a bit recently due to a hectic life.... but need and want to ramp it up - 30 weeks left and want toget to 60 books - luckily I have a 10 day holiday to look forward to which consists of reading all day on a beach or by the pool smile

Nessalina Tue 03-Jun-14 12:36:51

Those who have read The Luminaries - is it worth a look? I'm compiling a list of books to take on hols and I need something in the 'long & literary' category smile

Sonnet Tue 03-Jun-14 14:56:47

I enjoyed it Nessalina - took me a while to get into it. IMO it is a book that you need a good long reading session to start with...

It's gross and unnecessary Nessalina, one mention would be enough I thought, but there were at least five over a couple of pages. <boak>

That quote from Attwood is annoying me more than it should be...

Southeastdweller Tue 03-Jun-14 16:37:11

My list so far with highlights in bold:

1. Quiet - Susan Cain
2. Apple Tree Yard - Louise Doughty
3. I Laughed, I Cried - Viv Groskop
4. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal - Jeanette Winterson (the best memoir I've ever read)
5. Running Like a Girl - Alexandra Heminsley
6. The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole - Sue Townsend
7. Kiss Me First - Lottie Moggach
8. Girl Most Likely - Liz Jones
9. What Color is Your Parachute? - Richard N.Boiles
10. Bedsit Disco Queen - Tracey Thorn
11. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
12. The Red House - Mark Haddon
13. Notes on a Scandal - Zoë Heller
14. By Nightfall - Michael Cunningham
15. Demon Barber - Lynn Barber
16. The Hours - Michael Cunningham
17. Maggie & Me - Damian Barr
18. The Casual Vacancy - J.K Rowling
19. A Curious Career - Lynn Barber
20. The Snow Queen - Michael Cunningham
21. Lost for Words - Edward St Aubyn

Have three short books on the go at the moment and aiming to finish book 26 for when we reach the half-way point in four weeks time smile

notamonkeysuncle Tue 03-Jun-14 16:41:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Nessalina Tue 03-Jun-14 17:26:23

I did heavily paraphrase the Attwood quote, the full article she wrote about it is here for anyone that wants to be further annoyed not that I read all of it, it's a but up it's own bum

CoteDAzur Tue 03-Jun-14 17:46:17

Nessalina - I loved The Luminaries - great story, beautifully written, very insightful. And I generally loathe books written by female authors (I know how that makes me sound, too grin)

Case in point - I'm currently 10% into Life After Life and wanting to slash open my wrists because of its pointless droning on and non-existent plot. Thankfully, there is a bit of cynicism in it which gives me hope that it might turn out to be slightly more than a typical "women's lit" book.

Gods, Cote - what on earth are you reading Atkinson for? I would bet my hat that you will absolutely detest her. I liked one of hers and the others I read annoyed me so much that I vowed never to read another, so will not be reading, 'Life after Life.' She is the queen of convenient coincidences, and it drives me batty.

Sorry for them 'Long and boring' comment by the way all - I just prefer people's direct opinions, rather than people copying swathes of stuff from other people/Wikipedia/whatever. As I tell Yr 12, one short, pertinent quote is worth more than twenty general ones etc etc.

tumbletumble Tue 03-Jun-14 18:48:37

26. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. I really enjoyed this, thanks mumslife and others for the recommendation upthread.

Now for Lexicon, really looking forward to it (although not feeling qualified to enter the dystopia discussion!).

mumslife Tue 03-Jun-14 19:11:54


glad you enjoyed secret life of bees. have you read the invention of wings by the same author. loved this one even more


life after life drove me to insanitysad sad sad hated it though I know many love itgrin

tumbletumble Tue 03-Jun-14 19:29:09

Mumslife - no, but it's on my kindle now smile

Remus I fully understand. I'm a lit graduate I'd have failed my degree if my essays were like that smile Problem was, Cote didn't like my opinion so I figured I'd throw some others in and see if it converted her to my way of thinking grin grin Failed miserably!!!!!

Nessalina Tue 03-Jun-14 20:19:08

Ah, I loved Life After Life! Behind the Scenes at the Museum is one of my all time favourites, but many of hers since then have been a bit 'meh'. I though LAL was a real return to form! I do love a bit of weird plot device in a book though, have just downloaded The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August which looks to be along sort-of-similar lines.
I might give The Luminaries a stab then! smile

Best1sWest Tue 03-Jun-14 20:27:06

I have had at least 3 attempts at The Luminaries this year.

Best1sWest Tue 03-Jun-14 20:31:56

As far as Atwood is concerned, I loved Alias Grace and have read it a number of times, I thought the Handmaid's Tale was ok but have failed to finish any of her other books.

Atwood's biggest problem is that she always lets her feelings about men get in the way of the story. 'Alias Grace' one of her better ones, until the ending - which really annoyed me.

That article was quite interesting in its comments on sci-fi, until it got to the Ustopia stuff, which was ridiculous.

Wednesday - you are forgiven (but don't do it again!). Stick around and you'll find that quite often Cote and I argue for the sake of it (with each other too) and when either of us is in that mood, no amount of quotation will convert us!

I've not read'Alias Grace', but it's sat on my shelf waiting to be read. Will I regret it?

I was on the thread last year too, but kept out of the debates as I was a bit fragile at the time. I really enjoyed my debate with Cote though. I might read something else off her list just to have another argument smile

I consider myself thoroughly chastised Remus!!

whatwoulddexterdo Tue 03-Jun-14 21:00:54

42. Eeny Meeny. - M.J. Arlidge
Really really really good serial killer

I should think so too. grin And thanks smile


Best1sWest Tue 03-Jun-14 21:16:04

I will have to go and look up the ending of Alias Grace now as I have a vague recollection that it might have annoyed me too but have no memory of what it actually was despite having read it at least three times.

It was like she needed to, 'Punish' men iirc - I know I threw it down in disgust anyway!

Cheboludo Tue 03-Jun-14 23:02:52

whatwoulddexterdo Have you read The 50/50 Killer by Steve Mosby? [[ www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/0752881574?pc_redir=1401765341&robot_redir=1 The 5050 Killer ]]
When I first saw the blurb for Eeny Meeny I thought it was a joke and Mosby's blurb had been posted onto a fake book. The books sounded so similar I'd love to know what someone who's read both thinks.

WyrdByrd Tue 03-Jun-14 23:13:16

Marking my place.

Have had a manic & stressful few months & not made the progress I'd hoped but starting to get my mojo back so will review & update tomorrow.

Can't believe how many some people have read shock!

CoteDAzur Wed 04-Jun-14 08:54:02

Remus - I'm reading Life After Life because lots of people are talking about it and I got it on my Kindle when it was 99p in December. That's it, really. So far, I'm 13% in and absolutely nothing has happened except that the same girl has died in various ways in different points of her alternate lives. It reminds me of the film Final Destination - you can escape death but it gets you soon in some other way. Her lives are all terribly boring and it feels like divine punishment that she is made to live them over and over again. (Punishing the reader at the same time?)

FYI - You weren't 'right' re Dystopia, especially since you bizarrely argued for both sides:

RemusLupinsBiggestGroupie Sun 01-Jun-14 10:03:35
Present day stuff can deffo be dystopian, I think

RemusLupinsBiggestGroupie Mon 02-Jun-14 22:31:23
I've read, 'Dr Sleep' and imho it is not Dystopian because it is clearly our world, with added supernatural elements, rather than the imagined society which I think is necessary for a true Dystopian novel.


Anyway, I just want to make it clear to those who are about to read Lexicon that this is not really about that book but a more general discussion about what a Dystopian book is.

CoteDAzur Wed 04-Jun-14 09:02:24

Re Margaret Atwood - I was going to try one of her books, but a friend told me about her book Positron last night shock

Apparently, this is a society where there is 40% unemployment so the solution is that people alternate one month in jail (huh?) with one month in a guaranteed job & nice home. A couple shares their home with this other couple who takes over the house when they are in jail and vice versa.

Leaving aside the complete unworkability of this scenario re strangers taking over incomplete jobs at the end of the month, the amount of resources necessary to feed half the population in jail, etc it then gets sillier - the woman is apparently an assassin for the state, killing the undesirables, has an affair with the man using her home when she is in jail, etc. I was still holding it all together when my friend said at the end that one of the dead came back as... ELVIS. What? shock

I don't think I'll bother with M Atwood, tbh. Not just to spare myself but also to spare all of you from my review of her books grin

Sonnet Wed 04-Jun-14 09:35:59

CoteDAzur - grin re the above! I have never "got on" with Margaret Atwood but decided that this year I would read her. Thank you as now I know I don't need to bother grin

CoteDAzur Wed 04-Jun-14 09:43:56

Oh I forgot about the sex bots in M Atwood's book.

Yes, robots for sex.

I may have misunderstood the Elvis connection because my eyes had glazed over by that point. It may have been that a sex bot was Elvis. Or something of that sort? <head explodes>

Read it. I've not read the book but I reckon I'd enjoy your review

CoteDAzur Wed 04-Jun-14 16:01:48

Thanks, but no thanks smile It sounds ludicrous.

Meh. You disappoint me wink

Erm...a text can be in an imagined but still present day world, no? Or a text can have dystopian elements whilst not being set in a dystopian society. Stop nit-picking! Wishes there was a tongue poking out emoticon on here. grin

Sonnet Wed 04-Jun-14 18:14:58

Update: 29 - I am Pilgrim - a great read would recommend this.
30 - Instructions For A Heatwave - Maggie O'Farrell - An interesting read because of the interplay of family relationships.

Just started 31: We Were Liars - E Lockhart. This is a recommendation from DD1

I've started reading, 'Mr Mercedes' btw (came out yesterday). Anybody with me?

Best1sWest Wed 04-Jun-14 18:29:00

No but I will be interested in your review as I love a good detective book but me and Mr King don't really get on that well.

DuchessofMalfi Wed 04-Jun-14 18:46:54

50. Gentlemen and Players - Joanne Harris. 5/5. Going straight to my favourites list. I thoroughly enjoyed this sinister tale of revenge set in a big public school. It had a brilliant twist, which I didn't guess - suspected something was coming but I didn't see that grin

Sonnet Wed 04-Jun-14 19:14:16

Gentleman & Players is on my kindle waiting... Looking forward to it now even more smile

Arghhhhhhhhhhhhh - I haven't sent you those books. had forgotten all about them. So sorry. PM me your address again, and I'll stick them in an envelope tonight.

CoteDAzur Wed 04-Jun-14 20:52:29

Mr Mercedes is £7.47 on the Kindle. I think I'll wait a while.

CoteDAzur Wed 04-Jun-14 20:57:13

"a text can be in an imagined but still present day world, no?"

By definition, present-day world is not imaginary. It is the real one, where we all live smile

You are not wiggling out of this one, Remus grin (I'd love to see the sticking-tongue-out smiley, though)

Present is a time period, not a place. Wiggle. Wiggle.

Having said that, it's interesting isn't it (and fits really well with some stuff I'm teaching too)? Whatever we interpret it to mean though (with all the intricacies and conflicting ideas that may involve), it's got to be better than Ustopian, which remains, frankly, ridiculous.

'Mr Mercedes' a tenner in WH Smiths.

CoteDAzur Wed 04-Jun-14 21:39:16

Present is a point in time.

Present-day world is a place. The one we all live in.


Let me know what you think about Mr Mercedes.

Cheboludo Wed 04-Jun-14 21:48:07

40) The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie. I've read very few Christies so decided to try this one. I think I would've loved Christie as a teenager but I've probably read too many crime novels to really appreciate her these days. This was grand, the killer was fairly obvious from early on. I suspect I'll have forgotten I even read this in a few weeks.

(Yy to present day being a time period, not a place. No wiggling required smile )

Oh I like wiggling!


mum2jakie Wed 04-Jun-14 21:49:26

Found the lovely new thread!

41. Cards on the Table - Agatha Christie. Classic Poirot story.

Got a few different novels on the go but might ditch them all in favour of Lexicon which I picked up today.

CoteDAzur Wed 04-Jun-14 21:52:20

You dingbats grin

We are talking about present-day world which is the place we all live in.

Not present day, which is a time period.

Cheboludo Wed 04-Jun-14 21:56:59

Oh, sweetie, do run off & read the first quote again. It clearly says "present day stuff" not "present day world". grin

I rather like being a wiggling dingbat though. Too tired now but will be back tomorrow for more! smile

riverboat1 Wed 04-Jun-14 22:03:21

29. The Humans, Matt Haig

Great read. For most of the book I thought the author was the same person who wrote 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night Time', I was convinced it was the same name, and the style was similar. Then I realised it was someone completely different.

Anyway, great premise: an Oxford professor makes a huge mathematical breakthrough which will change the future of humanity, his body is instantly taken over by an alien from a more advanced race, whose mission is to put paid to said breakthrough before anyone finds out about it. The book is full of interesting mathematical tidbits, funny 'alien thinks humans are stupid' humour, but mostly it's about the balance between good and bad in humanity, and what it really means to be human. Kind of Kurt Vonnegut-esque. It petered off a bit at the end (I don't think there would be any possible satisfying resolution to the hugeness of the premise TBH) but overall I really enjoyed it.

MegBusset Wed 04-Jun-14 22:07:17

Just marking my place on the new thread. Still reading book 21, Perdido Street Station by China Mieville, which is a long one - but fantastic. Would thoroughly recommend it to all you fans of fantasy, steampunk or, yes, dystopian fiction wink

CoteDAzur Wed 04-Jun-14 22:45:14

Cheb - I have indeed run off like a good little 'sweetie' and found Remus's post that I replied to. And it clearly says present day world in it:

RemusLupinsBiggestGroupie Wed 04-Jun-14 18:02:01
Erm...a text can be in an imagined but still present day world, no?

Now you be a sweetie dear munchkin darling and run off to... errm.. I don't know how long I can keep this up grin

CoteDAzur Wed 04-Jun-14 22:46:48

riverboat - That book sounds Philip K Dick-ish. Is it as good? The plot sounds like it can also go in the direction of the ludicrous. I'd love to read a book about a mathematical revelation but don't think I can take a bad book about mathematics.

Nessalina Wed 04-Jun-14 23:03:01

Remus - interested to hear what you think of Mr Mercedes... I'm a big King fan, but I've found his more recent stuff underwhelming. Totally gave up on Under The Dome!

Chebuludo - I'm a bit of a Christie obsessive, but I often find the Marples a wee bit twee. If you want to read one that will give you a scare and a mystery 'And Then There Were None' gives me the shivers every time, I don't think it dates at all smile

I'm currently on 23. The Labours of Hercules - another Christie! Short stories, entertaining so far.

Cheboludo Wed 04-Jun-14 23:08:33

Oh dear, dear, child, when I said read the first quote I meant read the first quote, not the most recent one.

As in this one:

RemusLupinsBiggestGroupie Sun 01-Jun-14 10:03:35
Present day stuff can deffo be dystopian,

Shakes head at the youth of today's inability to read instructions.

(I'm just teasing btw. There may have been wine)

Oh, and it's Che as in Che boludo the Argentinian phrase.
(That's not a tease, that's serious)

CoteDAzur Wed 04-Jun-14 23:10:55

But... but... I wasn't replying to that post!


Cheboludo Wed 04-Jun-14 23:13:37

nessalina How funny, that's the one I really want to read! I almost bought it today, but decided against due to not massively enjoying the Marple. I'll put it back on the list, thanks.

Just curious, how do you feel about the imminent Sophie Hannah Poirot?

WyrdByrd Wed 04-Jun-14 23:24:14

Right time for an update.

1 Mad About The Boy
2 Mansfield Park
3 The woman who went to bed for a year
4 12 Years a slave
5 The Rosie Project
6 The great Gatsby
7 the little coffee shop of Kabul

Then a slump due to health issues and far too much real life going on, hence...

8 The complete guide to crystal chakra healing

... And note I've started getting my mojo back...

9 Urban Grimshaw & the shed crew
10 God's own country
11 Hamlet: A Novel - which I'm just getting to the end of.

If anyone else is way behind, give me a wave so I don't feel quite so much like I'm letting the side down!

Nessalina Thu 05-Jun-14 07:46:10

You've got months yet Wyrd! If some folks are on 40 by now you can still make 50 by the end of the year smile just start reading some short books wink

Che - I am cautiously enthusiastic! Other than The Carrier, I've really enjoyed all of the Sophie Hannah books, and Poirot really is more of a caricature than a character, so if she's read all the books she's got a good chance of echoing Christie quite well. I reckon it won't be as good as the best of Christie, but might be better than some of the worst!

Sonnet Thu 05-Jun-14 08:58:22

Thank you Remus - I have PM'd you.

Finished book 31 - We Were Liars - E Lockhart in one sitting - a haunting book that I couldn't put down and left my mind in a whirl after I turned the last page.

Just started Book 32 - Trespass by Rose Tremain

CoteDAzur Thu 05-Jun-14 09:16:10

Can someone who has enjoyed Life After Life let me know if some sort of plot develops later on, preferably an interesting one? I'm 16% in.

tumbletumble Thu 05-Jun-14 10:29:05

Sorry Cote, I'm another who didn't get on with Life After Life (even though I often prefer female authors). The way the plot lines kept finishing so abruptly made it hard for me to get in to.

Ness - I remember And Then There Were None giving me nightmares when I read it as a teen!

couch25cakes Thu 05-Jun-14 16:25:46

I'm just back from a weeks holiday so managed to read a fair few to add to my list

1.Robert Galbraith, The Cuckoo's Calling
2.Mad About the Boy, Helen Fielding
3.Tangled Lives, Hilary Boyd
4. I Am Pilgrim, Terry Hayes
5. The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion
6. Killer's Wedge, Ed McBain
7. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce
8. The Silent Wife, ASA Harrison
9. Divergent- Veronica Roth
10. Going Limp in Orlando - Craig Williams
11. Guilt- Jonathan Kellerman
12. Apple Tree Yard - Louise Doughty
13. The Light Between Oceans - M L Steadman
14 Reconstructing Amelia - Kimberley McCreight
15. The Return Journey - Maeve Binchy
16. Look Behind You - Sibel Hodge a good thriller, very fast paced with a horrible abusive husband
17. Before We Met - Lucie Whitehouse - another British psychological thriller. Was pretty good and pacy with a few twists
18. The Accident - CL Taylor yet another british psychological thriller
19. The Villa - Rosanna Ley didn't do much for me, but nice enough chick lit for a holiday.

Loved this last one, beautiful and moving.

Best1sWest Thu 05-Jun-14 16:53:23

I eventually finished Life After Life after a number of false starts and it does get better. The blitz section is very good.

CoteDAzur Thu 05-Jun-14 17:20:22

I'm persevering. Currently at 26%.

Imho if the reader's going to pass the entire book inside a character's head, that character better think some pretty awesome stuff. And not live the same boring life over and over again.

riverboat1 Thu 05-Jun-14 19:38:42

That book sounds Philip K Dick-ish. Is it as good? The plot sounds like it can also go in the direction of the ludicrous. I'd love to read a book about a mathematical revelation but don't think I can take a bad book about mathematics.

I've never read Philip K Dick, so couldn't say. But as I pointed out, this book isn't about mathematics, that's more something tangenital going on in the background. It's about the good and bad in being a human. It's not a 'mathematics saves the day' type book, it's a 'love saves the day' type book.

RE: your other question about Life After Life - I really enjoyed it, but I don't think that means anything as going from your comments on this thread I'm not sure our taste in books crosses over much. Plotlines do develop, but not really one 'overriding' one. Once the main character moves out of home, things do get more interesting though I think.

I agree that the main character herself is largely uninteresting, with uninteresting thoughts. But I think that's part of the point, she is like a blank canvas, it's all the things happening around her that count.

CoteDAzur Thu 05-Jun-14 20:00:52

" it's a 'love saves the day' type book."

I've read about a thousand of those in my teens. Thanks, that was a very clear description smile It got slightly more interesting lately, with Izzy taking more of a role.

"I agree that the main character herself is largely uninteresting, with uninteresting thoughts. But I think that's part of the point, she is like a blank canvas, it's all the things happening around her that count."

OK but we are in her head, hearing all her uninteresting thoughts about the uninteresting things happening around her. Not once, but multiple times, as she dies and story starts again at the beginning.

I like her mum better. At least she is cynical & sarcastic grin

Nessalina Thu 05-Jun-14 20:25:30

The lives do get longer and more interesting as the book progresses, but if you're not enjoying by now Cote, I'm not sure you will! I enjoyed all the wrong turn lives and repetition from the beginning, I found it very absorbing smile

32. Outpost - Adam Baker. If you like zombies, this is rather good.

Just started 33: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. I'm hooked, and I've only read 20 pages!

BOFster Fri 06-Jun-14 01:09:19

Collating the full list here, to keep myself straight...


1. The Aquariums Of Pyongyang - interesting but somehow not as engaging as Nothing To Envy, the best account I've read of real lives in North Korea.

2. Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver- superb YA Mean-Girls-meets-Groundhog-Day. Moving and convincingly written.

3. The Universe Versus Alex Woods. Enjoyable read- I really warmed to the characters.

4. Saints Of The Shadow Bible- Ian Rankin. Great, like slipping into a warm bath for a Rebus fan.

5. The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt. I almost feel like it's pointless to start another, because it's almost certainly the best book I'll read this year! Just beautiful.

6. July 1914: Countdown To War, Sean McMeekin- too much minutiae,mnot sure I agreed with his reading.

7. Twelve Years A Slave, Solomon Northup

8. Five People You Meet In Heaven, Mitch Albom- read this years ago, but it was a cheap kindle offer. More saccharine than I remember.

9. The Resistance, The French Fight Against The Nazis, Matthew Cobb- learned a lot.

10. Where'd You Go, Bernadette, Maria Semple- really enjoyable.

11. The Female Eunuch

12. Persuasion, Jane Austen

13. Vanity Fair, Thackeray

14. The Secret History, Donna Tartt- wonderful, but not as good as The Goldfinch.

15. Paid For, Rachel Moran- harrowing memoir, but makes good points about its topic of prostitution.

16. The Shock of The Fall, Nathan Filer- found this depressing, tbh.

17. Blood, Sweat and Tea, Tom Reynolds- a bit dour after the better Nee Naw blog.

18. The Lewis Man, Peter May- excellent detective fiction.

19. The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion- warm and funny. Not sure if the whole aspie lit thing is getting old, mind, but I liked this.

20. Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris- hilarious.

21. One Summer: America 1927, Bill Bryson- fascinating, as ever.

22. She Left Me The Gun, Emma Brockes- excellent and moving memoir.

23. The Fault In Our Stars, John Green- this year's Me Before You; very authentic teenage voices, good.

24. Fragrant Harbour, by John Lanchester. It's a great read, and only £1.59 on kindle if you catch it before midnight!

25. Lolita, by Nabokov- can't believe I hadn't read this before. Creepy and sinister. Definitely need a palate-cleanser next.

26. Big Brother, by Lionel Shriver. As well-observed as ever, but the subject matter seemed too insubstantial a premise for a novel, really. I do like the way she writes though.

27. The Crow Road, by Ian Banks. Loved this.

28. Washington Square, by Henry James. I haven't read this since I was a teenager, but I enjoyed it even more this time around. I really recommend it- it's short (a novella, really), and so wry, yet heartbreaking. Anyone who has been put off James by being forcefed his "big" novels should really give this a go, especially if they enjoy the Jane Austen kind of observant wit.

29) Madame Bovary

30) Killing Pablo- Mark Bowden

31) Undercover; The True Story Of Britain's Secret Police (found a few references to shady groups of my past )

32) The Little Friend- Donna Tartt

33) the Jewish Candidate- David Crossland

34) I Feel Bad About My Neck- Nora Ephron

35) Do You Think You're Clever? The Oxbridge Questions

36) Fractured- Dani Atkins

37) Broken Dolls- James Carol

38) The Romanovs- Robert K. Massie

39) Under The Skin- Michelle Faber (a re-read after seeing the film)

40) Arguably- Christopher Hitchens

41) The Hell Of It All- Charlie Brooker

42) The Cuckoo's Calling- Robert Galbraith (I think JKR? Not quite finished, but loving it).

43) Every Parent's Nightmare- Bruna Dessena

44) The People's Songs- Stuart Maconie

45) The Church Of Fear- John Sweeney

46) How I Escaped My Certain Fate- Stewart Lee

47) And When Did You Last See Your Father- Blake Morrison

48) Double Cross- Ben McIntyre

49) The Book Of You- Claire Kendal

50) Operation Mincemeat- Ben McIntyre

51) A Life In Secrets: Vera Atkins- Sarah Helm

52) Agent Zigzag- Ben McIntyre

53) The Accident- CL Taylor

54) The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden- Jonas Jonasson

55) Red Love- Maxim Leo

56) Against Therapy- Jeffrey Masson

57) Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops

58) Up In The Air- Betty Reigel

59) Grayson Perry: Portrait

60) The Skeleton Cupboard- Tanya Byron

61) Carve Her Name With Pride- RJ Minney

62) Anne Frank Remembered- Miep Gies

63) Wink Murder- Ali Knight

BOFster Fri 06-Jun-14 01:13:35

I've just bought a few more history books on offer on Kindle as part of the D-Day commemorations, so I'll be reading them next, I think. Plus a recommended thriller called Before We Met, by Lucie Whitehouse, and another one on offer by Kate Grenville, The Secret River, which is a novel about an early Australian settler.

Abgirl Fri 06-Jun-14 06:50:14

20. Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
21. The Signature of All Things - Elizabeth Gilbert

Was a bit underwhelmed by americanah, it's been quite hyped up I think and maybe I expected too much? Some lovely descriptive writing but I didn't love the characters.

I really enjoyed the signature of all things, very different to 'eat, pray, love' but a great story - very enjoyable.

Book 41 Where Demons Dare by Kim Harrison

Sixth in The Hollows/Rachel Morgan series. A demon is after her and a coven of black witches keep summoning him out of the ever-after and turning him loose. As Rachel tries to find a means of keeping herself and her loved ones safe, she is also involved in investigating a particularly gruesome murder, and discovers a family secret which threatens to tear her world apart.

MollyGuacaholly Fri 06-Jun-14 11:26:43

finally.. no more studies for a while.
Catching up time.
34. Lexicon by Max Berry. As recommended. Maybe oversold it because I enjoyed it but was a bit underwhelmed. Could have fleshed out all the stuff he hints at a bit more imho and poor Eliot got a rough deal and am not sure was quite credible in the end.
Might have to read Snow Crash.

I have started Clever Girl by Tessa Hadley; it is surprisingly good, I like the language and the way the story unfolds.

mumslife Fri 06-Jun-14 13:09:49


I got the secret river hope its as good as it soundssmile

seemed to have slowed down with my reading need to pick back up againsmile

skinmysunshine Fri 06-Jun-14 13:16:13

I enjoyed The Secret River. It's a while since I read it but it is about early settlers and highlights how grim the reality of it was.

59. Anne Rice "Memnoch the Devil" I actually enjoyed it after I got over the obsession with menses.

Book 61 = "Mr Mercedes" by Stephen King. I enjoyed this. It's not King at his absolute best but it was very readable and I liked the central character (a retired police detective) a lot.

BOFster Fri 06-Jun-14 20:42:38

64) Before We Met- Lucie Whitehouse. Excellent domestic thriller- I can see it being adapted for TV. A good tense read.

tumbletumble Sat 07-Jun-14 08:49:00

27. Lexicon by Max Barry. I really enjoyed this. Interesting concept, gripping plot, good characters. Thanks for the recommendation Cote.

PerksOfBeingNorthern Sat 07-Jun-14 10:05:16

49. Veronica Henry - The Long Weekend
50. Elaine Hussey - Sweetest Hallelujah

60. Jasper Fforde "The Song of the Quarkbeast"

Sonnet Sat 07-Jun-14 18:39:01

32 - Trespass by Rose Tremain - Loved It

Just started book 33 - The End of Mr Y. Recommended by a friend whose suggestions I normally enjoy.

Sonnet Sat 07-Jun-14 21:04:33

mumslife The Secret River is a great book. It really captures the beauty and remoteness of the Australian landscape and the hardship of the first settlers. I read vas forget books often butvthusciscibevifvgevfew from last year that has left a lasting memory! Hope you enjoy it.

Sonnet Sat 07-Jun-14 21:06:16

Goodness me - auto correct let me down. I was intending to say; I read and forget many books not thus is one of a few from last year that has left a lasting memory.

Nessalina Sat 07-Jun-14 23:48:55

23) Fractured - Dani Atkins

Not too bad, fairly fluffy and insubstantial! Need something to get my teeth into...

MegBusset Sun 08-Jun-14 09:09:32

21. Perdido Street Station - China Mieville

Finally finished. Really really really enjoyed this and recommend to Cote, Remus and anyone else who likes fantasy/steampunk.

61. Veronica Roth "Insurgent"

MollyGuacaholly Sun 08-Jun-14 09:55:49

35. Clever Girl by Tessa Hadley. Okay, nice easy calm read. Bit too chronological, first this happened and then the next thing.. story of the life of a woman from young girl to middle aged. But it's good in how it takes you in and slowly my attitude towards the main character changed. Liked the awkward kid, the grown woman not so much.

Now going for something a bit more exiting.

Cheboludo Sun 08-Jun-14 10:04:11

41) Irène by Pierre Lemaitre
I'm so cross with Lemaitre's publishers: they published book 2 of a trilogy before book 1 meaning book 1 (Irène) was completely ruined for those who had already read Alex (book 2)

This is novel is very graphic, I think too graphic. I absolutely loved Alex, it was one of the best crime novels I've ever read but I can't judge Irène fairly as I think if I'd read it first I would have been completely caught up in the story.

I'm so cross I want to stamp my feet and write angry emails to the publishers. (I won't, I'll just vent on here but Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!)

I'm 10% into We Need New Names but after the bleakness of Irene I think I need something light and fun next.

DuchessofMalfi Sun 08-Jun-14 11:43:59

51. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini. Mixed feelings about this novel. I gave it 4/5 on Goodreads, but really can't decide how much I liked it.

There were parts that I enjoyed, especially the first part when Amir and Hassan were young boys in Afghanistan. I didn't like bit when Amir was growing up in America, thought that weaker, but then it improved again when he went back to Afghanistan as an adult to look for Hassan's son.

All in all, though, a better novel than And The Mountains Echoed. Will get round to reading A Thousand Splendid Suns later in the year, perhaps. Need to read something less harrowing next.

Iamblossom Sun 08-Jun-14 14:07:47

20, the girl who never came back. Enjoyed it, different, clever I thought.

Next is what kind of mother are you?

whitewineandchocolate Sun 08-Jun-14 20:49:44

20. Didn't manage to finish One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, which I know is supposed to be a classic, read for book group and once we'd had the meeting I didn't pick it up again so I'll have to do 51 books. Nice easy Mark Billingham, The Burning Girl and that's no 21 finished.

BOFster Sun 08-Jun-14 23:16:53

65) Orange Is The New Black- Piper Kerman. The memoir which the TV show is based on. An excellent and humbling read.

WyrdByrd Sun 08-Jun-14 23:20:30

Thanks for the smaller books suggestion grin - I guess that's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series off the agenda for a bit! I picked up books 2 & 3 from a book swap a few years ago & only recently managed to get a copy of no 1 from the charity shop. Didn't want to buy a new copy as I'm not sure they'll be my thing.

Finished Hamlet today - fantastic novel. Will definitely be reading the same authors reworking of Macbeth at some point this year.

Started The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of a Window & Disappeared this evening.

Could really do with some recommendations for funny, slightly romantic but not cheesy stuff. Haven't read chick lit for a few years but am battling with anxiety & depression at the mo and would like to read some decent, lighter stuff while I get my mojo back.

Anything good on NLP would be fab too! grin.

Book 42 White Witch, Black Curse by Kim Harrison

Seventh in the Rachel Morgan/The Hollows series, and the last of them that I currently own although I have bought book eight on eBay and am waiting for that. Rachel does appear to be growing and changing in her character at last, which is good because after six books in which she arrogantly rushes into things without thinking and disaster ensues a bit of self-reflection and personal growth is necessary. Consequences have finally been felt in a big way in this one, so I think the next one is meant to be focused on her actually trying to sort her life out.

I do enjoy the books, but Rachel can be completely self-absorbed and arrogant at times which is a touch irritating.

riverboat1 Mon 09-Jun-14 09:26:40

Wyrd - Marian Keyes? Romantic and funny but goes beyond that too, often addresses issues like depression, alcoholism, abuse etc. If you don't fancy that, Lisa Jewell isn't bad either, though it's more 'straight up' chick lit.

There is also of course the Rosie Project, which everyone has been raving about this year and I really loved. And 'The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets' from a few years back was great too.

If you fancy something with more of a classic feel, how
about 'I capture the castle' (Dodie Smith) 'Love in a cold climate' (Nancy Mitford), 'Cold Comfort Farm' (Stella Gibbons), or the Darling Buds of May series by HE Bates.

white wine - I started 100 Years of Solitude a few years back and never finished it either. Too many characters with the same name, very confusing and I just couldn't get into it.

Southeastdweller Mon 09-Jun-14 16:48:01

22. The Fast Beach Diet – Mimi Spencer.

Some good tips here for those that need a 5:2 reboot and I like her writing. I wish some people on here would stop dismissing it as a crash diet and read more about it.

23. The Hive – Gill Hornby

A comic novel set in the home counties about some SAHM’s. Some good observations but the plot was a bit thin and there were too many characters. All in all it was a decent, light read.

Should finish my book on sign language this week and after that I fancy something ‘out-of-the-box’ and challenging…the new Tanya Byron book looks promising though Her by Harriet Lane also looks good.

Book 62 - Edmund Crispin's, 'Frequent Hearses' - it was okay: think I'm a bit fed up of him now.

Nessalina Mon 09-Jun-14 18:54:31

24) The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
Little bit of a nostalgia read smile Such a classic, I cried twice!

Moving onto The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden - really enjoyed The 100yr Old Man Who... so hoping this will be as good!

OftheTwilighttheDarkness Mon 09-Jun-14 19:59:05

45. Down Under - Bill Bryson
46. The Days of Anna Madrigal - Armistead Maupin
47. Sidetracked - Henning Mankell
48. Whispers Underground - Ben Aaronovitch
49. Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley - MC Beaton
50. Solar Lottery - Phillip K Dick

27. French Revolutions by Tim Moore
28. Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd

Into 29. And the Mountains Echoed

whatwoulddexterdo Mon 09-Jun-14 20:19:03

43. The sacrificial man. - Ruth Dugdall
Very entertaining but not for the squeamish!

DuchessofMalfi Mon 09-Jun-14 20:32:47

52. Flora and Ulysses by Kate diCamillo. Read it with my daughter, and we both really enjoyed this quirky tale involving a squirrel with superhero powers and much more 5/5. Sweet, funny, and quite touching.

CoteDAzur Mon 09-Jun-14 20:51:41

OftheTwilight - What did you think of Solar Lottery? It is Philip K Dick's 1st published book, isn't it?

WyrdByrd Mon 09-Jun-14 21:13:13

Thanks river - I've read most of Marian Keyes but couldn't get into the last couple so maybe I'll try them again.

I think I may have a charity shop impulse buy by Lisa Jewell knocking about too.

Funnily enough, I downloaded the sample of Cold Comfort Farm on Saturday thinking it would be a good choice, but it's all foreword & no book!

Am due a trip to the library so will have to have a look for it there.

mum2jakie Mon 09-Jun-14 21:23:07

42. Diary of a Mummy Misfit - Amanda Egin
Kindle freebie and a really enjoyable engaging and funny read. I'm even considering actually paying for the sequel as I enjoyed this so much.

43. A Pocket Full of Rye - Agatha Christie. Easy re-read. Read this a few times before but still couldn't work out all the twists and turns and character secrets.

MegBusset Mon 09-Jun-14 23:18:02

22. In The Land of White Death - Valerian

MegBusset Mon 09-Jun-14 23:20:02

Valerian Albanov

A gripping account of his trek on foot and by kayak across the frozen Arctic wastes in 1913/14 after his ship was trapped by ice.

OftheTwilighttheDarkness Tue 10-Jun-14 06:47:10

Hi Cote, it is the first novel of his I have read ( I think I read some short stories years ago). I enjoyed the book, it was an interesting premise but in some ways felt awfully dated. All the female characters were vacuous 1950's ( not sure when book was written) stereotypes and he went on about their breasts a lot. I was not sure if this was done on purpose to reflect the dystopian nature of the society or reflected the prejudices of the time when he wrote the book.

Everyone smokes constantly.

It is quite short so worth a read I think.

CoteDAzur Tue 10-Jun-14 08:36:15

Thanks. I've read a lot of Philip K Dick and don't remember his stuff as being misogynist. If you intend to read some more by him, I would recommend Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep (Blade Runner), A Scanner Darkly, and The Martian Time-Slip.

mumslife Tue 10-Jun-14 09:33:10

after the fall and freeing grace 99p on kindle deal of the day todaysmile smile

CoteDAzur Tue 10-Jun-14 14:27:56

23. Life After Life - Kate Atkinson

I plodded through the first third of this book wondering if I should revisit my principle of always finishing books I start, and ended up glad that I read it. Not that it rocked my world, mind, but it ended up having a story that is not completely uninteresting.


(1) It was entirely too long. There is no excuse for the terribly boring first third (or even the first half) with multiple deaths as a child that don't advance the plot at all.

(2) The character who keeps dying and then having another go at life is the most boring person you can ever imagine. Nothing happens to her (in any of her myriad lives) nor does she do anything remotely interesting or important until the Blitz (those Blitz parts were told well, though).

(3) The book felt like Groundhog Day, and that's not good for anybody.

(5) It also felt like the recent Tom Cruise film Edge Of Tomorrow.

(4) The basic premise is a bit weak. If she is reincarnated, she should come back as someone else. If this is about parallel universes, she shouldn't be remembering what happened in a previous life.

I thought one theme that worked very well was that we are who we are because of a million chance events. If something happened in a split second in your past, you could have been that teacher or that 'spinster' or that woman who committed suicide.

MollyGuacaholly Tue 10-Jun-14 16:21:03

Yes to that last point. Did anybody see a German movie from years back, Lola rennt? (Lola runns) Movie by Tom Tykver, who later went on to direct the Cloud Atlas movie.
Small changes, like running out of shampoo in thes hower can have big result because of the chain of events that follow. Nicely done, recommend. Faster than Kate Atkinson grin
May be a bit old now though.. (showing age)

CoteDAzur Tue 10-Jun-14 16:46:27

Run Lola Run? Yes, I watched that movie back in 1998? 1999?. It was pretty good, especially for its time.

Cloud Atlas was directed by Wachowski brothers- siblings. Was that guy the third director?

Meanwhile, Cloud Atlas of course did this whole reincarnation/history repeating itself etc thing much much better than Life After Life.

MollyGuacaholly Tue 10-Jun-14 18:00:33

obviously smile different league I would say.

Yes, Run Lola Run is probably the English title, he is the third guy.
That old?? oh dear.. yes, I suppose so.

riverboat1 Tue 10-Jun-14 18:01:10

I think that the fact the main character was nothingy worked for the book. I think it reinforced the theme of life being governed by external chance rather than an inherent 'youness' that pervades all. Also it worked with the weirdness of the fact she was somehow conscious of her past lives, if shed been a more normal question the internal monologues around that would have taken the book outside itself, I think.

I do agree there were a few too many child deaths. But on the wholethe languid pace early on didnt bother me too much. Oh, and I enjoyed the episode where she kept trying to stop the maid going to London.

riverboat1 Tue 10-Jun-14 18:12:43

30. Americanah,Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Very interesting. I have never thought about racism in as much detail before as when reading this novel. It definitely made me question myself and opened my eyes to some things.

That said, sometimes it felt more like a series of observations and arguments attached to an arbitrary character going through an arbitrary life, than a novel. It was very readable, but not as moving or involving as her previous books. I wonder if it would have been better written in a different form? Then again would I have read it then? And also, is the reason I feel like it was less good than her previous books because of my own discomfort or inability to relate this straight-talking style as opposed to the 'lyricism' of her previous novels, which she points out is often what the world expects from black writers...

This one definitely got me thinking.

DuchessofMalfi Tue 10-Jun-14 18:17:57

53. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim. Beautiful writing, and charming story.

Next is Gillespie and I by Jane Harris.

riverboat1 Tue 10-Jun-14 19:22:43

Gillespie and I was the best book I read in 2012. Fantastic novel. Enjoy!

DuchessofMalfi Tue 10-Jun-14 20:26:40

Have already read some of it, and it's unputdownable so far. Love it. Off to read some more right now smile

33. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce
34. The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman

I now have the wonderful pleasure of choosing my next book, my favourite part!

62. Veronica Roth "Allegiant". Enjoyable but the weakest of the series IMO. I guessed most of the plotline very early on. Good ending to the trilogy though.

Nessalina Tue 10-Jun-14 22:26:55

Saw Run Lola Run pretty recently and loved it! Very cool & clever.
Yet to see (or read) Cloud Atlas.
There's a lot of books & films that play on the same theme of repetition/parallel lives etc. Source Code from a few years back was another and that was very good, though the new Tom Cruise seems to have nicked it's plot wholesale.

Treated myself to a new Kindle today! I've got one of the old ones with keyboard and it really is too heavy to hold comfortably in one hand for long, so I've upgraded to the new standard Kindle (and DH gets my old one!). Only £59 at the minute which I thought was ok!

Sonnet Wed 11-Jun-14 06:48:17

Finished book 33 : The End of Mr Y. An interesting novel. A mix between Philip Pullman themes of His Dark Materials with the suspense of a thriller. Parts of the French philosopher Jacques Derrida, parts of Heidegger and Baudrillard make their way frequently into the book. The writing is very vivid - the best part of the book IMO. I found the ' discussions' that went on for pages rather dull but that is possibly just me.

On to book 34: The Lie by Helen Dunmore

Nessalina I did that with my kindle keyboard!! Upgraded to the smaller one and gave keyboard to the husband smile

Book 43 Prophecy by SJ Parris

Second novel featuring excommunicated Italian monk Giordano Bruno and set in the reign of Elizabeth I. Astrological phenomenon indicate the dawn of a new age, and the murder of a maid of honour at court reveals plots to remove the Queen and replace her with the imprisoned Mary Stuart. It's based around the Throckmorton plot really, with Bruno infiltrating conspiracies emanating from the home of the French ambassador. Very good read, I'm looking forward to getting the next one.

Book 63 - A re-read of, 'Animal Farm.' I didn't like it much before, and I haven't changed my opinion of it.

CoteDAzur Wed 11-Jun-14 20:13:13

Sonnet - I quite enjoyed The End Of Mr Y until the last 50 pages or so, when it just stopped making sense (to me).

If you like that sort of thing, I think you would enjoy Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore.

CoteDAzur Wed 11-Jun-14 20:14:17

Nessalina - Enjoy your new Kindle smile

Read Cloud Atlas before you see the movie. I doubt if anyone understands the film on its own.

DuchessofMalfi Wed 11-Jun-14 20:25:37

Chillie - I'm just about to start reading that series. Have bought Heresy, and have Sacrilege (found in a charity shop at the weekend). Just wondering if they need to be read in order, or whether I can get away with reading the ones I have and then look for Prophecy later?

Glad to hear they are good. Haven't come across anyone else reading them. The C J Sansom series seems to be more popular, and I'll give that a go sometime as well.

Agree re End of Mr Y - interesting idea and some really gorgeous writing in places, but ultimately deeply flawed.

Shardlake novels good - much better than the Parris ones, I think.

Duchess I think you could get away with reading Heresy then Sacrilege together and Prophecy later on. Certainly from the extract at the end of Prophecy there is a character link between the first and third books, but I think they stand alone pretty well too. I've been buying them in charity or second hand shops too so will have to keep an eye out for Sacrilege.

I really like the Shardlake novels and would agree with Remus that they are better overall, but Parris is pretty decent too. I've got Sansom's Dominion as well (alternative 20th century history rather than Tudor period) but not got round to reading it yet.

DuchessofMalfi Wed 11-Jun-14 22:15:26

I bought Dominion as well. It's a big heavyweight hardback thumb-breaker. Wish I'd bought it on kindle now grin.

Nessalina Thu 12-Jun-14 15:29:55

I've just downloaded a couple of audio books for my holidays grin - Mr Mercedes and The Blackhouse. Heard good things about both, so hoping they'll get me through my 4hr flight and 3hr coach transfer!! I'm a wimp that gets travel-sick reading

First half of, 'Dominion' good (scary!) but as a whole it didn't work so well for me.

Skinmysunshine here, fancied a name change. Reposting my full list.

1. The Luminaries - Eleanor Catton
2. Norwegian by Night - Derek B Miller
3. Wave: Life & Memories After the Tsunami - Sonali Derganiyagala
4. The Orphan Master's Son - Adam Johnson
5. To the River: A Journey Beneath the Surface - Olivia Laing
6. The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
7. Death Comes to Pemberly - PD James
8. Under the Banner of Heaven - John Krakauer
9. Stone: A Novel - John Williams
10. Life After Life - Kate Atkinson
11. Irene - Pierre Lemaitre
12. The White Princess - Phillippa Gregory
13. Mrs Hemingway - Naomi Wood
14. Capital - John Lanchester
15. Jeeves & the Wedding Bells - Sebastian Faulks
16. Daphne du Maurier & her Sisters - Jane Dunn
17. Burial Rites - Hannah Kent
18. Persuasion - Jane Austen
19. Crime & Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky
20. Books - Charlie Hill
21. Queen Beens & Wannabees - Rosalind Wiseman
22. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden - Jonas Jonasson
23. Far from the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
24. Parenting by Jenny Loveless
25. Behind the Scenes at the Museum - Kate Atkinson
26. Chocolat - Joanne Harris
27. Rivals - Jilly Cooper
28. The Lollipop Shoes - Joanne Harris

29. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert - hated it. Really despised Emma Bovary and it took me ages to finish it because I really did not enjoy it.

Just about to start Joanne Harris's Blackberry Wine for some light relief and the Book Group have chosen Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Cheboludo Thu 12-Jun-14 20:13:08

43) Mad about the Boy by Helen Fielding

I needed some light relief after Irène so this delivered on that score but it's really only OK. I was expecting it to be terrible after reading reviews so I suppose OK is a good thing smile On the other hand, the fact that I avoided reading it at every opportunity is not a good thing.

SPOILER (ish) below

The true love plotline was pretty much identical to the first book. Why bother?

I should go back to We need new names but I don't know if I can face bleak and miserable (going by the 1st chapter)

Chebuludo I am going to read it but don't hold out much hope. I'm reading Blackberry Wine as need some light relief after hated Bovary

highlandcoo Thu 12-Jun-14 20:32:45

Provencal how did you get on with Crime and Punishment?

I've ground to a halt with The Brothers Karamazov I'm afraid. 65% through so I really should finish it but I'm in the middle of my first Terry Pratchett at the moment and enjoying it much more ..

Was C&P an easier read?

highlandcoo I'm afraid that C&P is another one I didn't really enjoy. I prefer Tolstoy. Of the classics I've read recently Far from the Madding Crowd. I absolutely loved it.

I've downloaded but not yet started Les Mis, Anne of Green Gables and Sense & Sensibility.

highlandcoo Thu 12-Jun-14 21:04:23

Oh, I have an ancient copy of Anne of Green Gables which my mum won as a Sunday School prize back in the 1930s. I still remember it really well. A bit reluctant to reread it in case it doesn't measure up to the memories tbh. Having red hair myself I really identified with Anne!

I love Sense and Sensibility - all of JA in fact - and Les Mis is on my to-read list, but I'm not sure I will be tackling Dostoevsky again ..

Southeastdweller Thu 12-Jun-14 21:32:33

Just read in the Evening Standard an excellent review of the new book by 'Robert Galbraith'. I must catch up with The Cuckoo's Calling soon.

Nessalina Thu 12-Jun-14 22:51:45

25) The Labours of Hercules - Agatha Christie
26) One, Two, Buckle My Shoe - Agatha Christie

Not exactly challenging myself, but I was pretty chuffed to pick up two second hand Christies that I hadn't read yet at the market for £1! grin Enjoyed TLOH more, some very good short stories, 12BMS was a bit dull in the middle. Not enough murder, too much politics smile

I re-read Anne of Green Gables last year and still loved it smile Good books never get old. My all time favourite is Watership Down, I must have read that 10 times by now blush I've got What Katy Did queued up as another nostalgia read. I'm saving the meaty stuff for the pool side smile

So maybe AOGG is one to start soon?

I also feel the need to tackle 1984 , The Grapes of Wrath and The Sound and the Fury. Any other classics people would recommend?

Nessalina Fri 13-Jun-14 07:31:07

Classic Sci-Fi that's well worth a read: Day of the Triffids!

DuchessofMalfi Fri 13-Jun-14 08:05:29

The Lord of the Flies? I read it at school, aged 12ish and was traumatised grin I bought myself a copy recently for a re-read, which I plan to do shortly.

CoteDAzur Fri 13-Jun-14 08:36:37

Day Of The Triffids - Is that the one with the monstrous plants? I saw a bit of the movie and was hmm and grin. Does it attempt to explain anywhere in the book how those plants plan attacks without brains and carry them out without muscles?

CoteDAzur Fri 13-Jun-14 08:37:21

Provencal - I'd recommend Anna Karenina. It is not a love story.

hackmum Fri 13-Jun-14 09:16:46

Here are my numbers 31-40:

31.The journalist and the murderer by Janet Malcolm
32.A curious career by Lynn Barber
33.Maggie and me by Damian Barr
34.Half a yellow sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
35.Levels of life by Julian Barnes
36.A mind of its own by Cordelia Fine
37.Red Love by Maxim Leo
38.Delusions of gender by Cordelia Fine
39.This boy by Alan Johnson
40.My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

Just realised that there's only one and a half works of fiction in there - Half a yellow sun plus the first section of the Julian Barnes book (the second section is about the death of his wife). I'd recommend Half a yellow sun purely for the amount of Nigerian/Biafran history I learnt though it did drag on a bit.

The Cordelia Fine books are great. Wonderful, funny, accessible writer - Delusions of Gender rips into all that neuroscience nonsense about "hardwired" differences between men and women.

Three very good memoirs on the list - Maggie and me, which is beautifully written and also very evocative; This Boy, which is very very touching, though simply written; and My Salinger Year, which has just come out and is an absolute hoot. Joanna Rakoff spent a year when she was 24 working for a New York literary agency that represented JD Salinger. She ended up having lots of dealings with Salinger and answering his fan mail.

Have read LoTF and Anna Karenina (definitely not a love story Cote).

Day of the Triffids might be one to consider. Will have a look online.

tumbletumble Fri 13-Jun-14 13:35:14

28. Tangled Lives by Hilary Boyd. Fairly decent chick lit.

29. Freakonomics by Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner. A few interesting bits but overall I found this disappointing. The last chapter in particular was extremely tedious - pages and pages of lists of children's names for different socio economic groups and no interesting conclusions drawn at all!

Cheboludo Fri 13-Jun-14 13:40:46

Provencal I felt I had to read it (Mad about the Boy) too and there are some things to like about it. But, for me, reading Bridget Jones' Diary as a very young woman, there was a freshness and newness which this book lacks. Thing is, it may now be my advanced age and cynicism at fault as much as the book. smile

As for classic recommendations: have you read James Hogg's Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner? It's a very early crime novel, almost a psychological thriller written many decades before that term was even conceived. It deals with religious fanaticism and the doppelgänger and I absolutely loved it when I read it at uni.

Cheboludo in a similar vein I watched a couple of episodes of SATC on TV the other night and absolutely hated it. I loved the show first time around and have every series on DVD but lord it was so tedious and the women so childish, self-absorbed and irritating. Time to sell the DVDs I think (if anyone wants them).

Never even heard of the James Hogg book. Will google. Thanks

Nessalina Fri 13-Jun-14 13:54:36

Cote - yes! It's actually a very clever book, and the mechanics of the triffids are gone into in quite a lot of detail. The various films and mini-series which have been adapted from it have been frightfully dumbed down. It is the original 'man wakes up in a hospital bed to find the world has gone to pot' book - 28 Days Later and the Walking Dead have a lot to thank it for!

Cheboludo Fri 13-Jun-14 13:59:51

Provencal I suspect I'd feel exactly the same if I watched SATC now. I've become wary of recommending books I read many years ago as I've started to realise that my stage of life is just as significant in my reading of a book as the writing. (Hope that makes sense.)

Cote, I think you'd like 'Triffids' and his other stuff too.

Book 64 - Another re-read for work, "The Hound of the Baskervilles" - is okay but I prefer Doyle's short stories.

hackmum Fri 13-Jun-14 17:06:09

I loved Day of the Triffids as a teenager - I read pretty much all of John Wyndham's books, in fact, and I'm not normally a science fiction fan. In a way the scifi bit is incidental - it's more about setting a "what if?" scenario and then working out how human beings would react.

riverboat1 Fri 13-Jun-14 17:42:44

I love John Wyndham, I think I've read most of his books. Triffids is great, I also love The Chrysalids. Hackmum - I agree, it's the way he deals with a 'what if' scenario that is so cool.

DuchessofMalfi Fri 13-Jun-14 18:03:52

Now I want to re-read John Wyndham's novels smile I read The Day of the Triffids and The Chrysalids when I was at school. I think I must have been too young, because I didn't really "get" them.

I've been thinking quite a bit recently about the books I read at school and would love to re-read, as an adult.

Nessalina Fri 13-Jun-14 19:32:41

Agreed - The Chrysalids is a cracking read too smile

Côte, if it helps, Day of the Triffids isn't dystopian wink The Chrysalids is though

CoteDAzur Fri 13-Jun-14 22:23:24

"In a way the scifi bit is incidental - it's more about setting a "what if?" scenario and then working out how human beings would react"

Oh, my dear sci-fi novices! grin

That is what sci-fi is. Setting a 'what if?' scenario and building upon it.

When I say that I read a lot of sci-fi, what did you think those books were about? 9-eyed green Martians? Star Trek? grin

What if nanotechnology becomes commonplace? What would be the next technology after that?

What if we find an artificial artefact on the moon?

What if one man discovers a way to communicate with an extraterrestrial?

Or, what if we receive a radio message from a faraway star, with instructions to build a large device?

What if babies are cloned & brought to term in labs according to specifications?

What if we know that Earth will be attacked by an alien race in 20 years? What would be our strategy and how would we find & train our military leader?

... to name a few.

Nessalina Fri 13-Jun-14 22:36:41

Hehe. Some good links there! Is Enders Game any good?

minsmum Fri 13-Jun-14 22:53:37

31 The Book Thief by Mark kayak
32 Airbound by Christine Feehan
33 Not Quite Enough by Catherine Bybee
34 Mistress by Midnight by Nicola Cornick
35 Whisper of Scandal by Nicola Cornick
36 Notorious by Nicola Cornick
Really light fluffy reads are all I seem able to cope with at the moment

The Amazon reviews for Triffids are amazing. Have wish-listed to purchase later

I think lots of novels set, "What if" scenarios, not just sci-fi. Here's Mr King himself on that very thing On Writing extract

"Ender's Game" - I really enjoyed it except for the final section, which I thought was really boring and unnecessary. The stuff with the battle school was really good.

hackmum Sat 14-Jun-14 10:43:18

Cote: "When I say that I read a lot of sci-fi, what did you think those books were about? 9-eyed green Martians? Star Trek?"

Yes, probably. smile Though actually I didn't read the bit where you said you read a lot of sci-fi.

I suppose how I feel about John Wyndham is that it is very much like reading conventional literary fiction. He just changes one thing. So The Day of the Triffids is not really about weird, scary plants with hopes of world domination, it's about what would happen if suddenly all human beings (except a handful) went blind. How would people react? What would they do? For all I know, all science fiction is like that, though.

MollyMaDurga Sat 14-Jun-14 10:45:06

36. Stephen King, Mr Mercedes. Page turner, enjoyed it a lot. Exiting stuff!

I really liked his what if on the Kennedy assassination too.

Now reading the Skull Mantra by Eliot Pattison, another recommendation from here (Cote? Remus?.. sorry, forgot!)
Detective set in a Chinese Gulag in Tibet. Lots of politics, intrige and buddhist backdrop.

hackmum Sat 14-Jun-14 10:48:04

Of the examples you give, I've only read one: Brave New World. But to me, that's not really a "what if" scenario. It's not really about "what if babies were cloned": it's a dystopian vision of a whole society. Everything is different, not just one thing.

Book 44 Blood Eagle by Craig Russell

Set in Hamburg, this is the first in Russell's series centred around Kriminalhauptkommissar Jan Fabel and his team in the murder squad. I've read others in the series before, and there's a tendency to the inventive, gruesome murder similar to the likes of Jo Nesbo. This begins with the discovery of a second ritualistic murder victim. Both were women, both killed in the manner of the legendary Viking method of execution, the blood eagle. If you don't know what that is, don't google it if you're squeamish. The search for the killer uncovers layers of intrigue as a new Ukrainian outfit moves into the Hamburg underworld. Well crafted, bit outlandish in places, but a gripping read.

Cheboludo Sat 14-Jun-14 14:00:36

Whoops, I skipped from 41 to 43. The Bridget Jones should've been 42. The real 43 is Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan.

I really liked this novella - it reminded me of The Great Gatsby in how the beautiful, wealthy, charming folk are shown to be completely selfish & careless of others.

I've started both We need new names (kindle) & the 3rd Dandy Gilver so I expect it'll be one of those next.

DuchessofMalfi Sat 14-Jun-14 20:32:44

54. Gillespie and I by Jane Harris. Could not put it down, wanted to race through this brilliant novel. Incredibly good, the best unreliable narrator I've encountered so far smile

highlandcoo Sat 14-Jun-14 20:38:18

Have you read The Observations by the same author Duchess?

I liked it even better than Gillespie and I.

CoteDAzur Sat 14-Jun-14 21:31:25

Nessalina - Yes, Ender's Game is pretty good smile

CoteDAzur Sat 14-Jun-14 21:36:46

"I suppose how I feel about John Wyndham is that it is very much like reading conventional literary fiction. He just changes one thing.... How would people react? What would they do? For all I know, all science fiction is like that, though."

Yes, well, a lot of good sci-fi is like that. There are surely some rubbish books just like there are in all genres, but the good ones take one idea and develop it really well.

I haven't read 'Triffids' but the idea of evil plants attacking people (without brains or muscles ffs grin) sounds really silly and the sci-fi I like to read is the very clever stuff thoroughly thought out by very clever authors. In any case, if you think a book written in 1951 is the epitome of sci-fi, you probably need to read some more in this genre smile

DuchessofMalfi Sat 14-Jun-14 21:37:38

Highland - no I haven't yet, but it's on the tbr list. I absolutely loved Gillespie, Jane Harris is a brilliant writer.

CoteDAzur Sat 14-Jun-14 21:37:52

Molly - Yes, The Skull Mantra was my recommendation. I hope you enjoy it smile

CoteDAzur Sat 14-Jun-14 21:45:16

hackmum - "Brave New World... that's not really a "what if" scenario. It's not really about "what if babies were cloned": it's a dystopian vision of a whole society. Everything is different, not just one thing."

So, word it differently: What if we were to live in a society without marriage, parenthood, or families... where babies were cloned according to specifications?

The point I was making was that "it's about setting a 'what if?' scenario and then working out how human beings would react" is exactly what sci-fi is about. People think sci-fi is about space battles and nine-eyed purple Martians, but especially in the last 20 years or so it's been about the near future - what would happen if a certain technology develops in a certain way, etc.

CoteDAzur Sat 14-Jun-14 22:24:47

24. 30-Second Philosophies - Barry Loewer

This was Kindle Daily Deal a while back so I snapped it up for 99p. It was pretty good, with a 1-page overview of quite a few philosophical concepts.

Iamblossom Sat 14-Jun-14 22:27:51

20. The girl who never came back. 8/10
21. What kind of mother are you? 7/10

Now reading ship of brides by jojo moyes, really enjoying.

Sonnet Sat 14-Jun-14 22:41:30

Love it when I log on to this thread and see lots of posts just waiting to be read that I know will contain even more books I just need to read !

Just finished book 34 - The Lie by Helen Dunmore. I am so glad I read this book. - yes, it is 'yet another book about WW1' but what a beautifully written book with a slow unfolding story. The characters are 'real' which is important to me. The description of life in the trenches is stark and I am left with my own thoughts. A great read of 2014

Now I am going to read the rest of the thread...

Sonnet Sat 14-Jun-14 22:58:42

Needed to comment before I loose track!
Cote thanks for the tip - the bookshop book is on my TBR list. I also agree with whoever said they enjoyed it until the last 50 pages.. I sort of lost it a little there...

C J Samsom - my DH loved the Shardlake series (another one coming out in the Autumn I think) so I have just downloaded Heresy for him. I still have the entire Shardlake series on my TRL (they are winter books for me though!) . I enjoyed Dominion but interestingly DH did not!

Anyway, book 35 for me is The Unknown Bridesmaid by Margaret Forster

Cheboludo Sat 14-Jun-14 23:08:54

CoteDAzur The fact that so many current sci-fi writers have paid homage to The Day of the Triffids and John Wyndham suggests to me that he shouldn't be dismissed just because the book seems implausible to you. Most very clever sci-fi sounds implausible. Asimov, Philip K Dick & Arthur C Clarke are also post-war sci-fi writers, and they may not be the epitome of sci-fi writing but they are certainly well-respected & loved.

As my DH tells me about rock guitarists - the early ones created the language the rest of us speak. Likewise, Wyndham was part of the generation of sci-fi writers who forged the landscape in which subsequent generations work.

CoteDAzur Sat 14-Jun-14 23:38:42

"The fact that so many current sci-fi writers have paid homage to The Day of the Triffids and John Wyndham suggests to me that he shouldn't be dismissed just because the book seems implausible to you."

I don't know who those 'current sci-fi writers' would be, and I had never heard of John Wyndham before MN despite reading this genre voraciously for several decades. He might be a UK favourite but it would be a stretch of the imagination to assume that he is one of the absolute greats of sci-fi.

"Most very clever sci-fi sounds implausible."

Absolutely not. Very clever sci-fi is by definition logical, technologically and scientifically sound, internally consistent, and very plausible.

"Asimov, Philip K Dick & Arthur C Clarke are also post-war sci-fi writers, and they may not be the epitome of sci-fi writing but they are certainly well-respected & loved."

Having read a lot of Asimov's stuff (not only his sci-fi books but also his writings on science and mathematics), as well as Philip K Dick (almost all his books and short stories) and Arthur C Clarke (all his books, I think), please trust me when I say that they are at the very top of their league ('classic sci-fi').

Philip K Dick wrote under the influence of some very interesting hard drugs grin so his books/stories are not terribly realistic at times, but they are incredibly imaginative and mind-bending. They have pretty much never been equalled.

Asimov & Arthur C Clarke were two of 'The Big Three' sci-fi writers of their time - engineers/scientists, with in-depth knowledge of the subjects they were writing about, and their stories are plausible, internally consistent, and surprisingly correct in detail. For example, all approach vectors, alignments of Jupiter's moons etc in 2001: A Space Odyssey and its sequel 2010 are correct and valid. He has actually gone to the trouble of calculating them shock

Neither of them would be caught dead writing about aggressive plants taking over the world, plotting war against people without brains or muscles grin

"As my DH tells me about rock guitarists - the early ones created the language the rest of us speak."

I'm a fan of Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin and would like to think I know a bit about rock guitarists of the time smile Imho they were much better than the current bunch re technique & talent. Still, there were many guitarists who were not geniuses in those days, too smile

Nessalina Sun 15-Jun-14 00:00:59

Now come on Cote, you can't have that strong an opinion about a book you haven't read yet wink
Time to get it downloaded - you'd steam through Triffids in a couple of hours, and I bet you'd enjoy it despite yourself! Honestly, it's a smarter book than it sounds, and it genuinely is a British Sci Fi classic smile

riverboat1 Sun 15-Jun-14 00:03:51

Well I have just officially abandoned book number 31. "Metrostop Paris" by Gregor Dallas. It's non-fiction, a sort of bits-and-pieces history of Paris wherein each chunk of history is supposed to be linked to a particular metro stop. I thought I'd like it as I live in Paris and wanted to learn more about the city's history. But less than 50 pages in, I've given up.

From the very first paragraph of the book it annoyed me, confidently asserting that 'Except for bankers, nobody in Paris works on Mondays.' That is a total load of bull and made me wonder what version of Paris this writer inhabits, because in my Paris Mondays are a totally normal working day for the vast majority of the population.

And from then on then the whole 'follow me now, gentle reader, down this winding cobbled street' tone REALLY grated. Just unbearably patronising and annoying.

The final nail in the coffin was the fact that the historical chunks seemed extremely tenuously linked to the metro stops that named each chapter, so the whole concept was ultimately just confusing and unbelievable. I'd rather just read a straightforward potted history of Paris written in chronological order without all this literary posturing and annoying narrative voice.

My first abandoned book of the year. I feel a bit disappointed in myself. But life is just too short to read rubbish books.

CoteDAzur Sun 15-Jun-14 00:04:23

I don't have an opinion on the book. Just saying that the premise is silly. Plants, fgs grin

Cheboludo Sun 15-Jun-14 00:17:51

CoteDAzur Why not try reading a book, or at least a synopsis of it, before making judgement? Your assumptions about Triffids are completely incorrect. I'm not the first person to have told you that he has been influential.

Have you ever read a book where someone has woken up to discover a cataclysmic event has occurred? - that scene is Wyndham. The plants are not the main focus, they are a complication to the cataclysmic event that drives the novel. Like two other well-known tales referenced earlier in this thread, the thrust of the story is the interaction and conflicts of the human survivors, rather than the Monstrous Others with which they compete for survival. Someone upthread told you Wyndham explains the plants perfectly and you chose to ignore that so that you could continue to laugh at the concept.

I may not be an expert on sci-fi but I had heard of John Wyndham and, until today, would have assumed that any self-professed sci-fi expert would have. Just goes to show that no-one knows everything, eh?

Nessalina Sun 15-Jun-14 00:34:29

That's the thing though, the premise of Triffids isn't 'evil plants', the premise is 'almost everyone is blinded by a freak cosmic event'. The Triffids are basically large carnivorous plants that sting to incapacitate their victims (usually small animals) and veeeery slowly digest them. Not a threat to humans at all, that is, until everyone is blinded! But the Triffids are only one of the serious issues that befall the stricken population..

Ah fuck it, I'm going to read it again! grin

CoteDAzur Sun 15-Jun-14 00:49:07

No need to get personal, che smile

Would you care to share that "perfect" explanation?

I try to avoid books that I'm probably going to hate. I got roped into reading On The Beach (great sci-fi classic, they said hmm and that wasn't good for anybody - me or its fans grin

PerksOfBeingNorthern Sun 15-Jun-14 11:30:14

51. Jill Mansell - A Walk in the Park
52. Fiona Field - Soldier's Wives
53. Lee Child - The Visitor
54. Emylia Hall - The Book Of Summers

Iamblossom Sun 15-Jun-14 11:31:50

I loved the triffids, and the crysalids for that matter.

mumslife Sun 15-Jun-14 11:46:35

28 we that are left juliette greenwood

slow starter but picks up all about life in ww1

Cheboludo Sun 15-Jun-14 12:17:28

Cote, you do make me laugh.

Two quotes from you:
"In any case, if you think a book written in 1951 is the epitome of sci-fi, you probably need to read some more in this genre."

Next one is talking about Asimov, Dick & Clark who I brought up in order to show that books written in and around 1951 can be the epitome of their genre:
"Please trust me when I say that they are at the very top of their league ('classic sci-fi')."


CoteDAzur Sun 15-Jun-14 12:26:55

What seems to be the problem, che?

There is no contradiction between these two sentences:

(1) Asimov and Arthur C Clarke are at the top of classic sci-fi (sub-genre of sci-fi)


(2) If you think a book written in 1951 is the best sci-fi (the entire genre) has to offer, you should explore the genre a bit more, with emphasis on the last 20 years.

Is that a bit clearer now?

Cheboludo Sun 15-Jun-14 12:57:34

Excellent! I can see now that we both agree a book written in 1951 can be the top of it's genre of classic sci-fi. I'll prepare a badge for The Day of the Triffids grin

Cheboludo Sun 15-Jun-14 13:01:06

Whoops, silly phone. its not it's

CoteDAzur Sun 15-Jun-14 14:39:36

Can be, but wasn't.

Knock yourself out, though grin

Just read the damn book, Cote. Wyndham is a well known British sci-fi writer. I haven't read him for years but enjoyed all of his that I've read.

Having said that, I suspect you've already decided that you'd hate it, so there's not much point, maybe? (We need that tongue stuck out emoticon!).

Rofl @ "read the Damn book Cote" You sound like an exasperated parent / teacher Remus

grin I am both of those things - Cote, you have been warned. smile

CoteDAzur Sun 15-Jun-14 15:23:28

I might get around to it at some point although, as I'm sure you agree grin, picky readers should and do try not to read books that are likely to get on their nerves.

All I said was that the premise of plants attacking people is silly. And it is (sorry) smile They have no brain or even a central nervous system, so how/where do those thoughts & strategies get formulated? How does a "comet shower" (meteoroid shower, I would have thought) blind everyone in the Earth, wherever they live? Surely, there might be some parts of Earth (like, on the other side of the world from where the meteors come from) where these meteors wouldn't have affected, unless they are defying gravity and flying around the earth?

As I'm sure you agree grin, picky readers should and do try not to read books that are likely to get on their nerves.

For example, re On The Beach, if you had told me at the time that it was about a group of dummies who just hang out, do fuck all run from certain death that is months away, and instead gibber foolishly about next year's fish population and who will get married and have babies, I would have avoided that one, too grin

CoteDAzur Sun 15-Jun-14 15:24:26

Wednesday - That's exactly how Remus made me read On The Beach. And we all know how well that turned out grin

dontyouknow Sun 15-Jun-14 15:28:23

25. Sold as a Slave (Penguin Great Journeys) by Olaudah Equiano

Another interesting one from this non fiction series - a slave from West Africa taken to the USA.

26. Harvesting the Heart) by Jodi Picoult

Second one of hers I've read. It was ok, good in places.

I can't be bothered retyping my list at the moment....

Unfortunately I found a pile of half done puzzle books so working my way through those at the moment, and a new job with an early start so not got through many reading books recently!

I'm hazarding a guess you didn't enjoy it?!

I've had a 50% success rate with you, I think - you liked, "The Worst Journey" and, "This Thing of Darkness" and didn't like the Shute and Pullman. I hated what I managed to drag myself through of, "Cloud Atlas" and detested, "Dune" - quite liked, "Enders Game" and really liked, "Do Androids Dream." So I reckon we're about equal at the moment! grin

MollyMaDurga Sun 15-Jun-14 15:34:12

Halfway through the Skull Mantra and I am giving up.
Picky. grin

Suspense of disbelief over life (?) sentenced gulag inmate doing investigation into the death of government official in Tibet is fine but he is boring.. unforgivable.
Too many explanations of Buddhism and Tibet and not enough getting on with the story.

CoteDAzur Sun 15-Jun-14 16:13:48

Sorry you didn't like it, Molly. No, it's not fast-paced smile

I don't remember having to suspend my disbelief while reading the Skull Mantra and iirc he wasn't doing the investigation from within the gulag.

CoteDAzur Sun 15-Jun-14 16:18:11

Remus - I would have liked Pullman's His Dark Materials if I read it in my teens. It's just that I have very low tolerance for YA stuff. The last book was a bit silly, though, with the souls in hell and all that. Not sure I would have like that one even as a YA myself.

When are you going to read Measuring The World? That score has been equal for too long smile

For the sci fi fans, the classic serial on Radio 4 today was part one of Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep?, with part two next Sunday. Not a bad listen, James Purefoy is playing Deckard.

Nessalina Sun 15-Jun-14 16:35:13

"All I said was that the premise of plants attacking people is silly. And it is (sorry) They have no brain or even a central nervous system, so how/where do those thoughts & strategies get formulated? How does a "comet shower" (meteoroid shower, I would have thought) blind everyone in the Earth, wherever they live? Surely, there might be some parts of Earth (like, on the other side of the world from where the meteors come from) where these meteors wouldn't have affected, unless they are defying gravity and flying around the earth?"

I'd love to explain all this to you Cote, but finding out the answers to such questions is kind of the point of reading a book, and optimist that I am, I don't want to answer them and so spoil the book in case you do stop being such a pig-headed moo and read it.
I'll just join in with Remus and say RTFB wink

I've started Mr Mercedes on Audible (whilst I do dull Sunday chores around the house) and am enjoying it very much so far!

CoteDAzur Sun 15-Jun-14 16:37:25

You wouldn't spoil it, because I already read what little there is in way of explanation here smile

MollyMaDurga Sun 15-Jun-14 16:39:55

I've started Ender's Game. Inspired by the sci-fi talk here.

It doesn't have to be fast pace per se to keep me amused but it wasn't doing it for me.. The Shan person is still an inmate, even though he is not confined to barracks or behind bars or whatsit.

Thing is also, I've been in the region, know a thing or two about the politics and religion and the good intentions aside, his story is quite predicatable and slow moving. I guess it's a style thing more than anything else.
Ah well.

You didn't like His Dark Materials?!

Cote, you and I are destined to never she on a book. Ever.

CoteDAzur Sun 15-Jun-14 18:10:03

I was over 40 when I read them for the 1st time, so no, they didn't work too well for me. As I mentioned before, I can't stand YA. (Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time is a singular exception to this)

I would have liked at least the 1st book if I read it in my teens, though.

Never agree. Not she

Nessalina Sun 15-Jun-14 19:17:32

It's hard to tell how you'd feel about a book if you'd read it at a different time in your life. I read His Dark Materials when it came out, so I was 13, and it definitely spoke to me at that age, I was absolutely hooked. And I had to wait two frickin' years for the Subtle Knife after the first book ends on such a cliff hanger!!
If I first read them now, I don't know how I'd feel about them, but it probably wouldn't be anything like my own initial reactions.
It's like everyone raves about Dirty Dancing because they were in love with Patrick Swayze when they were 12, but having watched it first at age 25, I have bad news - that is one crappy film!

CoteDAzur Sun 15-Jun-14 19:51:42

Dirty Dancing grin

If I watched it now, I would probably fixate on how the teenage girl is lying to her parents and buzzing off to "dirty-dance" with a bunch of strangers and how I would track down DD if she ever did such a thing while we were on holiday shock

bibliomania Sun 15-Jun-14 20:48:15

Have been reading and abandoning books recently - here are the ones I finished:

60) My Criminal World, Henry Sutton (crime fiction author becomes suspect in real life. Extracts from his latest book interspersed with vignettes of his home life. Doesn't really gel)

61) On the Map, Simon Garfield. Non-fiction. Enjoyed this one - he writes really well.

62) Bones of the Lost, Kathy Reichs. Lots of clunky exposition, but the forensic anthropology part has its usual morbid interest.

63) Dark Continent, My Black Arse, Sihle Khumalo. I've read a few African travelogues, and this is interesting by virtue of being written by a black South African. He doesn't write particularly well or notice particularly much, and the attitude to women is problematic, but it's fast-paced and vivid, and I did feel like I'd been on the trip by the time I finished it.

64) Belle, Paula Byrne. It's an expanded version of the chapter she wrote on Lord Mansfield in Jane Austen: A Life in Things. The chapter in the Austen book was better, as this does feel padded out, but it's still interesting to get a glimpse of the black population of Georgian England.

65) Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg. I liked this more than expected - calm, wise and surprisingly endearing. She's honest about her own mistakes, she acknowledges the limitations of her advice, and it's more about being your authentic yourself rather than tricks to get ahead. Worth reading, even if you're not trying to break into the boardroom. It's also worth thinking about how and why we might be holding ourselves back, whatever it is we want to achieve.

66) The Light Years, Elizabeth Jane Howard. I expected to adore the Cazalets, but didn't. Just too many characters and I didn't really care enough to want to know more.

DuchessofMalfi Sun 15-Jun-14 20:53:03

55. Fortunately The Milk by Neil Gaiman. Read to my daughter. Bizarre but strangely entertaining. Love the illustrations. 4/5.

Next up, a reread of The Lord of The Flies. Supposed to be reading The Shock of the Fall, but don't fancy it just yet smile

MegBusset Sun 15-Jun-14 20:55:55

23. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - JK Rowling

Bedtime reading to DS1 over a few weeks (I read it when it was first published). I don't think it was quite as good as the first one but it had its moments and DS1 loved it.

Southeastdweller Sun 15-Jun-14 22:09:59

24. British Sign Language for Dummies, by City Lit Faculty of Deaf a Education and Learning Support. It's helping with my course but I've realised an interactive resource would be even better to understand a new language.

25. Consumed, by Harry Wallop. A non-fiction book that links consumerism to social class in Britain. Too many obvious or shallow arguments combined with a snobby tone made this a disappointment.

whitewineandchocolate Mon 16-Jun-14 17:52:08

22. Trespass by Rose Tremain - an enjoyable easy read, not perhaps her best book but I liked the French setting.

Sonnet Mon 16-Jun-14 21:04:37

Mumslife just downloaded a sample of 'We that are left' - WW1 is appealing up me at the moment. Will add to my TBR list.

Ah, Wyndham - not read him since I was a teenager - fancy a re-read now!

Just finished book 36 (I think) - The Unknown Bridesmaid by Margaret Forster. An enjoyable read but not the best of her books I have read.

Just about to start book 37 - Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Sonnet Mon 16-Jun-14 21:05:52

Sorry, Rivers of London is my book 36

DuchessofMalfi Mon 16-Jun-14 21:15:06

56. Margaret Beaufort, Mother of the Tudor Dynasty by Elizabeth Norton. 4/5. Been reading this slowly for several weeks. Fascinating and detailed study of her life.

mum2jakie Mon 16-Jun-14 21:52:59

44. Finally finished Lexicon by Max Barry (from a recommendation on here - thanks.)

Found it quite hard to get into initially but enjoyed it overall. I remember some debate on the last thread about the category that this falls into. FWIW, I would describe this as a dystopian novel, rightly or wrongly.

There was also some question about whether this was set in present day times or the future. It does actually give a time at the end of the book. (The last news report states that the original Broken Hill disaster happened in 2019. P.383 in my hardback copy.)

Book 45 The Magus of Hay by Phil Rickman

This is the twelfth book in Rickman's series featuring Merrily Watkins, vicar ofa small parish in the Herefordshire countryside and diocesan exorcist for Hereford. She is called in by a police officer she has worked with many times before to have a look at the home in a tiny hamlet near Hay-on-Wye of a man in his 90s found dead in a nearby tributary of the Wye. The house includes a library of the occult and esoteric, and evidence that the man was a practitioner of chaos magic. Although the death itself is not suspicious, a local young policewoman takes it on herself to investigate the man's background and just what went on at this remote home, as does Merrily. At the same time, a pagan couple Merrily has encountered before are setting up a bookshop in Hay itself, and discovering that the shop they are renting has a bit of a sinister past. Then the policewoman disappears.

Rickman is a very prolific author - 12 in this series, two books so far featuring Dr John Dee, and a series of stand alone novels whose characters sometimes make an appearance in the world of Rev Watkins. I really enjoy his novels and last year, having picked up the first in the Watkins series in a bookshop in Hay, actually read the 11 that had then been published in just over a month. He always has this pagan/occult interest in his novels as far as I can see and handles it very deftly with an awful lot of knowledge and clear research.

Sonnet Tue 17-Jun-14 09:18:33

ChillieJeanie - I fancy reading these. I have just been on Amazon trying to work out the first one. I have narrowed it down to : The Remains of an Altar OR The Fabric of Sin - can you confirm which one is first or let me know if I have got it totally wrong grin - thank you

Sonnet Tue 17-Jun-14 10:11:09

Ah - I believe it is Midwinter Of The Spirit?

Sonnet Tue 17-Jun-14 10:16:01

I have just purchased - The Wine of Angles and Midwinter of the Spirit.

Can't wait to read them - just have to finish Rivers of London first grin

CoteDAzur Tue 17-Jun-14 10:57:10

tumble & mum2 - I'm glad you enjoyed Lexicon smile

Molly - I may have oversold it in my enthusiasm, sorry. Do read Snow Crash and let me know what you think. It is more 'out there' than Lexicon (more in the future, social & political systems all different etc) but the whole idea of controlling people with ancient words is explained much better in Snow Crash. It draws on Sumerian legends & real artefacts and weaves together a surprisingly plausible explanation. I reached a "WTH? shock" point when I read in the book how Hammurabi is depicted as receiving a 1 and a 0 (binary code) from the Sun God in the stele of the Code of Hammurabi and saw in the picture that it was true.

Is anyone else going to read Lexicon? I'd like to discuss a few parts of it but am worrying about spoilers.

Nessalina Tue 17-Jun-14 11:25:21

Yeah, Lexicon is on my list if you can resist spoilers a while longer!

CoteDAzur Tue 17-Jun-14 11:59:29

OK, no worries smile

Hi Sonnet. The first one is The Wine of Angels. That's when Merrily and her daughter first move to Ledwardine and before she becomes diocesan exorcist (which happens in second novel The Midwinter of the Spirit). It really got me hooked, hence reading them all in just over a month! It's also the most use my Kindle has had, since I couldn't easily find the rest in the shops and thought another trip to Hay was probably a bit excessive just to search for them.

mumslife Tue 17-Jun-14 12:33:43


we that are left gets better as it goes alongsmile

Sonnet Tue 17-Jun-14 14:26:50

Thanks ChillieJeanie - I have purchased the first two
Mumslife - thanks for the tip. I have earmarked it to read on my holiday next month grin

moonshine Tue 17-Jun-14 19:48:15

15. The Lewis Man - Peter May 7.5/10 I enjoyed this more than the first in the trilogy but am not driven to read the last one - yet.

16. Lexicon - Max Barry 8/10

Really enjoyed this one and, for my part, it definitely fits into 'conspiracy fiction'. mumtojakie I read this on my kindle and the news report at the end dates the original incident as 2011, so very much in the past! I felt there's a ready-made film script there as the structure was very cinematic. I can see it starring Matt Damon and Chloe Grace Moretz (from Kick-Ass), with a cameo appearance from Derren Brown ;-)

17. The Killer Next Door - Alex Marwood 7.5/10 Really enjoyed the first 2/3 of the book as the structure made it very intriguing but felt it lost momentum. Still a good and somewhat chilling read.

18. Shakespeare - Bill Bryson 8/10 I won't hear a word said against Bill - love him!

mumslife Wed 18-Jun-14 09:17:54

some good deals on kindle deal of the day today

purchased edens garden by juliette greenward same authorcas those we left behind
also got the last runaway for 99p which looks quite good
while I was there also bought the son in law by charity norman and the husbands secretsmile smile smile
lots of readinggrin

mumslife Wed 18-Jun-14 09:20:49

29 after the fall charity norman

bought this one on kindle offers a while ago can recommend it very enjoyable and kept me engrossed until late last nightsmile smile

30. Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris - bit of light relief after Bovary and before book group choice of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I like Joanne Harris's style, the prevalence of magic and her use of the senses. Her books are quite formulaic though. Strangers, misunderstood people coming together. The power of secrets and the way gossip affects perceptions. I enjoyed but need a break from her now having read 3 this year.

So onto Maya Angelou

bibliomania Wed 18-Jun-14 11:04:51

67) Lost for Words, Edward St Aubyn. Okay. Mildly amusing.

Moonshine I enjoyed the Lewis trilogy.

Mumslife we read The Husband's Secret for book group. It wasn't for me

mumslife Wed 18-Jun-14 11:41:11


I know what you mean sometimes people go on about books and rave about them then when you think wrll I had better read it you think what an earth are they going on aboutgrin grin
life after life was like tgat for me disliked it intenselysad
will post my thoughts on the husbands secret once readshock

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Wed 18-Jun-14 12:56:23

I have been away for so long the old thread had finished!!
I am back now though, the reason for my protracted absence was that it took me nearly a month to read:

22. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

But it was worth it. It's not often I read thought provoking literature but I'm glad I did. It's no surprise, if not a sad fact that a lot of Steinbeck's themes are still so relevant today; unemployment, low wages, migrant workers.

Am going to aim for something a little fluffier and lighter next I think.

Mumslife I really loved LAL funnily. Everyone else said "ooh no Behind the Scenes at the Museum" is better but, while I liked that, I was more moved by LAL.

Let me know what you think re THS. I'll be interested in your views

63. John Milton "Paradise Lost". I'm glad I've finally got round to reading it but wouldn't say I really enjoyed it

I seem to be on a go-slow again.

Book 65 - 'Fever Crumb' by Philip Reeves. YA - I enjoyed it.

Re: 'The Grapes of Wrath' - amazing book but one of the few books I've found truly brilliant but will never be able to read again. I felt as if I'd been stripped and flayed and bulldozed by the end of it. Devastating.

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Wed 18-Jun-14 17:35:38

Yes, Remus. By the end I was pretty distraught. I think I just sat there staring into space for a while after I'd finished it.

Nessalina Wed 18-Jun-14 18:40:40

Ooh I enjoyed The Husband's Secret smile If you like that one, then her other one What Alice Forgot I liked even more!

I've nearly finished Mr Mercedes - it's a bit bloody gripping! grin

Best1sWest Wed 18-Jun-14 19:27:46

Remus, I felt exactly the same about the Grapes of Wrath when I read it as a teenager. Devastating is the right word.

I thought I would never be able to read it again but I did last year after a 35 year gap. It's still a brilliant and devastating book but I was able to cope with it much better. Glad I did read it again.

Best1sWest Wed 18-Jun-14 19:44:52

Lots of stress and sore eyes going on at the moment so I've been having a chick-lit phase as I needed something light and fluffy.

37, 38,39 three books by Jenny Colgan.

40 Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid from the Jane Austen Project. This was quite fun really. Set in Edinburgh during the Festival instead of Bath but some of the characters were very irritating.

41. Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope. Surprisingly enjoyable and has made me want to go back and read the original again. Still don't see what Col Brandon sees in Marianne and don't understand why Elsinore doesn't fancy him. Marianne is so annoying.

Best1sWest Wed 18-Jun-14 19:45:33

Elinor FGS. (Autocorrect)

Iamblossom Wed 18-Jun-14 19:50:15

[wonders if should give grapes of wrath a go...]

29. And the Mountains Echoed. Distinctly average.


30. The Shock of the Fall.

Best - loving Elsinor! smile

I can't bring myself to read any of those Austen, 'Tributes.' I suspect they would make me very cross.

You are probably right re, "Grapes" but I really don't think I could cope with the unrelenting horror now.

Best1sWest Wed 18-Jun-14 20:02:46

You'd hate them Remus. Don't go there grin

whatwoulddexterdo Wed 18-Jun-14 20:18:22

44. Irene. - Pierre Lemaitre
Took me a while to get into but glad I persisted. Brilliant twist.
This is the first in the trilogy, despite how Amazon describes it. Read this before Alex.


35. Tears Behind the Veil - Shaida Mehrban
36. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
37. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

CoteDAzur Wed 18-Jun-14 22:51:20

25. Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You - Marcus Chown

I snapped this up for 99p when it was Kindle Daily Deal recently and I'm really glad I read it now. It's not the 1st book I've read on the subject, but it is the most comprehensive. It is written for those of us who have only studied a bit of physics as a teenager. I'd recommend this to anyone who is interested in this topic.

Cheboludo Thu 19-Jun-14 08:12:01

44) The Fever by Megan Abbott

There has been loads of hype about this and it's on most of the summer recommendations lists (that I've seen) both here and the States. Sarah Jessica Parker and Joyce Carol Oates have both praised it online and the advance copy comes with strings of big names raving about it. Which is all a prelude to admitting that I wound up expecting too much from this book.

Abbott is a great writer, she has a real empathy for her characters and writes beautifully. The premise is excellent - one by one, a group of teenage girls are struck down by a mystery illness. I loved The End of Everything and how the reader saw everything through the eyes of a teenage girl who didn't quite understand what was going on around her. I hoped to be similarity captivated by The Fever but the different narrative strands just didn't draw me in as much.

The Fever is a better book than many I've read this year, it's just not Megan Abbott's best book imo.

Book 46 The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato

Split between Renaissance and modern day Venice, this combines the stories of a glassblowing maestro Corradino, who is tempted away from the island of Murano by agents of Louis XIV, and his descendant Nora, born to an English mother and Venetian father who leaves London behind her on the breakdown of her marriage with the aim of becoming a glassblower on Murano and find out more about her illustrious ancestor.

It was a bit disappointing really. The characters are pretty one-dimensional and while there are lots of descriptions of the wonders of Venice these are rather overblown. Fiorato doesn't have the skills of poetic description that she thinks she has. Still, it's a lightweight and easy read if you're looking for something where you don't need to engage your brain all that much.

whatwould I love Irene and Alex. So cleverly written

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Thu 19-Jun-14 10:06:26

I read The Glassblower last year Chillie.
It's one of those books I had such high hopes for and was terribly disappointed in. A good idea, poorly executed.

Sonnet Thu 19-Jun-14 10:24:42

Finished Book 36 - Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
Didn't think much of it to be honest

Started Book 37 - Wine of Angels - only 10% in but enjoying it already

Yes, Cardiff, that's exactly it! Reading the back I thought it wounded like it would be quite interesting, but the handling was not good. Such a shame.

Sonnet, I'm glad you're liking Wine of Angels so far. I have a dread of recommending something and someone coming back and revealing I actually have crap taste! grin

DuchessofMalfi Thu 19-Jun-14 14:02:05

This week's books -

57. Lord of the Flies - William Golding. This was a re-read for me, having first read it at school. Brilliant, but just as disturbing as it ever was.

58. The Various Haunts of Men - Susan Hill. This is the first in the Simon Serrailler series. Very enjoyable, although I did guess who the killer was about three-quarters of the way through. Good ending, with a chilling twist, which I wasn't expecting. Will be reading the rest of the series.

mum2jakie Thu 19-Jun-14 14:30:40

45. 50 shades of Grey. - I finally read this after spotting in the library and wondering what I'd been missing. Seemingly nothing much. I can't believe there was so much hype surrounding this book/series. I won't be bothering with the other two - Anastasia was such an dull and insipid character and Christian doesn't do anything for me!

46. The Rapture - Liz Jensen. (Audiobook.) Mixed feelings about this one. It took a while to get into which is a bit irritating with audiobooks as I find my mind starts to wander. It did get better as it went on and I enjoyed the climax at the end. Written in the present tense, though, which I found irritating. I'd consider reading more by the same author but would probably avoid an audiobook format as they don't offer the same opportunity to skim-read any boring bits.

juneybean Thu 19-Jun-14 14:40:24

Whoops finally getting around to updating my list...

1. Melissa Explains It All by Melissa Joan Hart
2. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
3. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
4. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend
5. The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole (Adrian Mole, #2) by Sue Townsend
6. True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole (Adrian Mole, #3) by Sue Townsend
7. Bundles of Joy by Linda Fairley
8. The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir
9. Flowers in the Attic by VC Andrews
10. Petals on the Wind by V.C. Andrews
11. The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips by Michael Morpurgo
12. Room by Emma Donoghue
13. Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
14. Shopaholic Takes Manhattan by Sophie Kinsella
15. Shopaholic Ties The Knot by Sophie Kinsella
16. Shopaholic & Sister by Sophie Kinsella
17. Shopaholic & Baby by Sophie Kinsella
18. Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
19. Sleeping Arrangements by Madeline Whickham
20. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium, #3)
by Stieg Larsson

Sonnet Thu 19-Jun-14 14:42:20

Duchess I have read a couple of them and enjoyed them - not sure which ones though and now fancy reading the series grin

Mum2 - I really liked Liz Jensen's. "The Ninth Life of Louis Drax" - I thought, "The Rapture" was her weakest one so far tbh.

Book 66 - Another of the, "Very Short Introduction" series, this one on, "Rhetoric." Really enjoyed this once I got into it (it's been sitting on my bedside table since Christmas!).

Nessalina Thu 19-Jun-14 19:27:24

27) What Katy Did - Susan Coolidge
28) Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham
29) Mr Mercedes - Stephen King

What Katy Did was another nostalgia read but it wasn't anywhere near as good as I remember - disappointing!

Day of the Triffids - what can I say? Classic and brilliant tale that any true Sci Fi fan should check out wink

Mr Mercedes I listened to unabridged on Audible and really enjoyed it! It's written in classic King style but without the usual supernatural element, it's more of a police procedural kind of thing, but no less gripping. Definitely worth a look smile

Ness I must read Triffids.

By the way the new Robert Galbraith is now available on kindle

Nessalina Thu 19-Jun-14 20:24:41

Ooh I know, but it was £6.99 the last I looked! shock I'm going to keep an eye on the price, but I definitely want it for my hols, so will probably end up paying the full whack. Really enjoyed the first one smile

If you put in wish list it tells you how much it has come down by. Tbh I'll probably end up paying full price as I also want it for my hols. My probable hol reads are currently:

New Robert Galbraith
Her by Harriet Lane
Day of the Triffids
Possibly The Grapes of Wrath
New Michael Lewis book
Possibly Elizabeth is Missing
The Signature of all Things
Days in the History of Silence

Nessalina Thu 19-Jun-14 21:25:32

Yep, it's in there waiting for the drop...

Along with:
Room £4.19
The Year of the Rat £4.99
Lexicon £4.99

I hate to pay more that £3 for Kindle books!
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August was in there but I just bought it as when I checked wish list just then it had gone down 68% to 1.69! Win!

Nessalina I have a copy of Room you're welcome to if you want to Pm me your address

Nessalina Fri 20-Jun-14 03:41:05

Ooh thanks Wednesday that's really kind, but don't worry, it'll probably cost you nearly £4.19 in postage!! grin

I'm trying hard to limit my 'real books' these days anyway... I'm incapable of getting rid of a book (unless I HATE it) because I'm a big re-reader, so our house is full of books blush DH is always on at me to take some to the charity shop, but I can't bear to part with most of them. This is why Kindle is awesome! I have 129 books so far on there - which has to be most of a book shelf!

Incidentally, books I have charity shopped without qualm:
Labyrinth - Kate Mosse (just utter tosh. So dull.)
Pet Semetary - Stephen King (Depressingly horrifically horrible)
Cujo - Stephen King (Even more depressingly horrifically traumatic!)

I love Stephen King, but only when there's a 'happy ending' of sorts at least. I don't think I'll be reading The Grapes of Wrath!

bibliomania Fri 20-Jun-14 09:56:43

Nearly finished (68) In Search of Shakespeare, Michael Wood. Competently written and I'm enjoying it. I'm fascinated by the massive psychological upheaval that went on in Shakespeare's youth with the changeover of state religion. To have your hope of salvation snatched away from you....There are a couple of Shakespeare-related events coming up locally, so this is me getting into the mood.

MollyMaDurga Fri 20-Jun-14 12:19:28

37. Ender's Game OrsonScott Card
Yuck. About 75% in a had a look at some reviews to see whether to persevere and came across how he is apparently homophobic anti gay marriage protester. Makes his alien 'buggers' rankle quite a bit I ust say, killing them by taking out 'The Queen'? All the descriptions of the games were boring, the premiss of one gifted boy (not a girl... too many years of evolution stacked against female qualities like empathy, kindness, cooperation..) to save he world poorly executed. Not for me.
Cured of sci-fi for now.

38. Death is not the end, Ian Rankin.
A novella, so very short. But a treat after the previous one, nice!

I have now started in Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham, hoping to get out of the boy phase soon, enough with the precocious boys already.

On the side I am reading After Tamerlane, non fiction about Empire.

Loved Grapes of Wrath by the way, bleak but brilliant.

CoteDAzur Fri 20-Jun-14 13:48:15

Molly - What is this about anti-gay marriage etc? I don't remember anything of the sort from that book.

Yes, it talks about "The Queen" of the aliens because they are a hive, and so we talk about their leader and chief as their "queen" just like we say "queen ant" or "queen bee", and you would naturally expect to kill them all by taking out the queen, just like you do with an ant or bee colony - she is actually called "Hive Queen" in the book. Would you have been happier if she were called "The King"? (In that case, I suspect you would be outraged that the female of the species has been robbed of its rightful title grin)

"one gifted boy (not a girl... too many years of evolution stacked against female qualities like empathy, kindness, cooperation..)"

Have you read the book or just skim-read it because you found it boring & not good enough on the feminist/gay agenda front? It's clear about the importance of qualities like empathy (they specifically checked for his when questioning him re the fight he got into in the beginning), decency, cooperation, etc. (Having said that, someone with 'too much' empathy & kindness would arguably fail as a military leader, and would certainly not carry out the final assault that saved humanity)

I didn't feel that there was any sexism in this book. Candidates (girls as well as boys) are left free to work out their relative functions in their groups, to rise up to leadership as their skills & achievements are recognised. In fact, Ender's sister Valentine was conceived because The Fleet thinks the family's firstborn Peter is too cruel and feels the family genius can flourish better in a female child. However, Valentine goes to the other extreme so the family is encouraged to conceive Ender.

MollyMaDurga Fri 20-Jun-14 14:18:05

The author is a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, he is a vociferous opponent of gay marriage: wikipedia page ink{http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orson_Scott_Card#Views_about_homosexuality\en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orson_Scott_Card#Views_about_homosexualit]]y}

He doesn't write about gay marriage in the book but the term buggers for the aliens doesn't sit well with me in the light of what he supposedly feels about gay people.

I know it's about the hive and the queen, but again, in this light I do not like it.
As a hive, gimme the Borg any day.

I did read the book, not just skim it and his words against girls as contenders for the battlle school are a paraphrase but not far off. He does talk about evolutionary disadvantages for girls being chosen. There is only 1 girl there, Petra. And she breaks under pressure.

MollyMaDurga Fri 20-Jun-14 14:19:05
CoteDAzur Fri 20-Jun-14 14:39:34

"the term buggers for the aliens doesn't sit well with me in the light of what he supposedly feels about gay people"

As I remember, the term 'buggers' has come from 'bugs' - aliens look like our insects. There is no sexual context for this term in the book, neither is there any reference to the author's religion or sexual prejudices. So I don't know what you are criticising here (except the author's private life?).

"I know it's about the hive and the queen, but again, in this light I do not like it."

What light? The aliens are a hive and so their queen is called "Hive Queen", like with ants and bees. What is there to criticise there? I seriously don't see what you are talking about.

"He does talk about evolutionary disadvantages for girls being chosen."

Chosen as military commander.

And do you disagree?

No bother Nessalina I have the same problem with real books in my house

CoteDAzur Fri 20-Jun-14 14:51:05

Nessalina - Please say that we are not holding off discussing Lexicon until its price drops! When you said it's on your to-read list, I thought you were going to read in a week or two smile

Don't understand the outrage over, 'Buggers' at all - I also thought it was because they looked bug-like. And I thought Enders' sister was a strong character in her own right too. I know nothing about the author, but I didn't see the things in the book that you're complaining about here, Molly. I just thought it was quite an exciting story about what might happen if children are pretty much bred for battle, and I enjoyed looking at the dynamics of the relationships in it.

Nessalina Fri 20-Jun-14 20:14:17

Don't worry Cote, I go to Greece for a week on the 30th June (whoop!) so the whole wish list inc. Lexicon will be purchased at that point for by the pool reading! I'm just holding off in case the price drops between now and then! grin

DuchessofMalfi Sat 21-Jun-14 08:43:39

59. The Ocean At The End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman. Didn't like it at all. Almost put me off reading. Ugh. Now I know for sure - I hate fantasy. Never again. Not ever.

Nessalina Sat 21-Jun-14 09:30:30

Ha! I really enjoyed The Ocean At The End of the Lane, but I can imagine it's not for those that dislike fantasy...

I haven't read it yet. It looks v lightweight and short though. Wish he'd write another, "American Gods" instead of all the little, lazy looking stuff.

Southeastdweller Sat 21-Jun-14 11:57:20

26. Knight Errant, by Robert Stephens with Michael Coveney.

A no-holds-barred autobio from one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of the last century, too short but entertainingly told.

Book 47 Cockroaches by Jo Nesbo.

The second in the Harry Hole series, although only published in English in the last year or so. Harry is sent to Thailand to investigate the murder of the Norwegian ambassador, who had been found dead by a prostitute in a seedy motel room. It's inevitably a convoluted story, not quite as violent as the later novels in the series, and has the feel of Nesbo still finding his way a bit, but it's a good one.