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50 Book Challenge 2016 Part Five

(997 Posts)
southeastdweller Tue 31-May-16 08:00:21

Thread five of the 50 Book Challenge for this year.

The challenge is to read fifty books (or more!) in 2016, though reading fifty isn't mandatory. Any type of book can count, it's not too late to join, and please try to let us all know your thoughts on what you've read.

The first thread of 2016 is here, second thread here, third thread here and fourth thread here.

How're you getting on so far?

Dragontrainer Tue 31-May-16 10:57:03

Ooh, shiny new thread . . .

Quite a while seems to have passed since I last posted, but my recent(ish) reads are:

21. School for Love by Olivia Manning - tale of an adolescent orphan marooned in post war Jerusalem - I didn't love this as there was something very cold about it, but it had some fantastically comic characters and conveyed a real sense of place

22. Seven Sisters Lucinda Riley - readable fluff set around the creation of the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio and the quest of a modern day girl for her origins. Definitely not one for anyone who values quality writing or who despises cliches . . .

23. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. I was inspired to re read this by a thread on here and am really glad I did

24. The Yacoubian Building - Alaa al Aswani - the lives of the occupants of the eponymous Yacoubian Building, an Egyptian apartment block that has seen better days. This book got rave reviews on Anazon - but I really disliked it. I didn't get the purported humour, and didn't feel the need to race through to find out what happened. I found some of the attitudes in the book hugely alien and, to be honest, repugnant - for example, towards homosexuality. Unlike most Amazon reviewers, I definitely wouldn't recommend!

25. The Reader on the 6:27 by someone Didier Laurent - a romantic quest by a worker in a paper recycling factory to find the author of a journal he finds on the train. The protagonist was just too annoying for me. He suffers real psychological trauma from being the "executioner" of the books he is recycling and I just wanted to scream at him to either get over it or to get another job.

bibliomania Tue 31-May-16 14:09:38

52. A Little History of Literature by John Sutherland

A brisk canter through literature from Gilgamesh via Chaucer, Shakespeare, Austen, the Brontes, Hardy etc to the present. Sutherland is always readable, but I found myself wondering who this was aimed at - it seems to me than most adults who like reading would already know everything he says - he doesn't stray beyond the obvious at any point. I belatedly read the blurb and found out it was for "young people and adults".

Still not sure who'd buy it - I could it see it being bought as a gift for a godchild you don't see very often but who is said by a fond parent to like reading.

It's not a bad book by any means. It might be helpful if you felt determined to embark on a read of the classics, and wanted help in drawing up a list.

MermaidofZennor Tue 31-May-16 14:20:46

Checking in to the new thread and marking my place smile

We're away for a few days break over half term, getting some well earned rest. Currently reading Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor. The first (and probably last, for me) in the St Mary's series. It is young adult, isn't it? At least it feels like it. Not enjoying it that much - a bit too derring do, juvenile humour and jolly hockey sticks.

Thanks, South.

Book 64
Lords of the Bow by Conn Iggulden
The 2nd in the series about Genghis Khan. Not as good as the first, but okay. I preferred the first, which was about establishing him as khan, and the relationships with his brothers. This one was more repetitive, as they take group after group (one of the reasons why I got bored with the biography). I might read the others, but only if I see them in the library.

Sadik Tue 31-May-16 18:25:44

Thanks for new thread smile

52 Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Steampunky YA fantasy-romance set in Victorian London, with the usual werewolves, vampires etc. I listened to this as an audiobook, and although I've read it once before I enjoyed it much more this time - the narrator was excellent, and really made the characters come to life.

No-one reads Cassandra Clare for deathless prose but it's enjoyable fluff, and I particularly like Tessa, the main character in this series. (Sadly Will - a Georgette Heyer Mark 1 style hero - is a bit of a pale copy of his equivalent from the Mortal Instruments.)

CoteDAzur Tue 31-May-16 18:38:19

Shiny new thread! grin

BestIsWest Tue 31-May-16 18:41:10

Hello all. Glorious weather here today. Surprising myself by enjoying Shardlake.

eitak22 Tue 31-May-16 20:08:18

13. Raging heat - Richard castle the latest in the series of books which mirror the tv show castle and are ghostwritten to be the book the author in the show writes. It was a really good crime thriller not the best writing but the story had me hooked. Detective heat has now become captain and her first morning on the job she finds her psychiatrist dead, as she follows the leads she comes head to head with a cover up.

Ive been on holiday and forgot to download all the books I wanted to read on my kindle, so definitely reading some shockers over next few days.

ladydepp Tue 31-May-16 22:01:57

Thank you south!

Just picked up Moriarty by Antony Horowitz in the library. I haven't read his previous Sherlock book but I'm going to plunge ahead with this one anyway. Anyone read it?

I read his first one, Ladydepp. It was okay. Somebody on here (sorry, have forgotten who) said that Moriarty was much worse than the first though, so I didn't bother with it. Would probably still try it if I happened to see it in the library, but wouldn't go out of my way to find it.

whippetwoman Wed 01-Jun-16 08:19:51

Thank you for the new thread smile

40. The Green Road – Anne Enright
I’m not ordinarily a fan of Anne Enright. I disliked The Gathering but rather enjoyed this novel that follows the lives of four siblings who all return for a final Christmas in Ireland before their domineering mother sells their family home. The only section I didn’t like was the section with the mother at the end but it does help to clarify why the siblings have turned out the way they have. A book about families and feelings, so not for everybody.

41. Love Nina – Nina Stibbe
Ah, I loved this. So warm and funny. It’s been reviewed on here so many times so I will say no more!

42.* Half-Blood Blues – Esi Edugyan*
This was something different. A novel that followed the fortunes of black American and German/French musicians in Europe around the start of WW2. I knew absolutely nothing about the German jazz scene but it was fascinating, and sad, to learn what happened to musicians around that time. The context and the plot were interesting (Louis Armstrong is in the novel) but it was rather slow going.

43. The Story of a New Name – Elena Ferrante
Whilst I did enjoy this (and also liked the first novel) I was glad to get through it. There are just so many (awful) characters and by the end it was all getting too much. However, a large chunk of the novel is a very clever set-piece set on holiday at the coast which did work very well and I was glad for Lenu and her progression and development, despite her awful family and friends.

44. Into Thin Air – John Krakaur
I know a lot of people on here have read this first-hand account of the disastrous events on Everest in 1996 that led to a considerable loss of life. I was absolutely fascinated by this. I literally couldn’t put it down. And when I did put it down I was telling anyone who would listen what was happening. What I found particularly interesting was the motivation for attempting extreme climbs like this. It’s not thrill seeking, but something much more complex.

whippetwoman Wed 01-Jun-16 08:20:59

Sorry about my bold failings above. I have a three year old jabbering directly into my ear and distracting me!

Book 64
Lady Susan by Jane Austen
Not read this since I was about 18, but thought I’d better read it prior to going to see the new film, ‘Love and Friendship’. It was exactly as I remembered it – very silly indeed, with the epistolary form grating on me quite a lot before it was done. Lady Susan is entirely impossible to sympathise with (this is the point, I know!) and almost every other character is also a monstrous caricature. It’s clever and biting, but only really interesting as a study of Austen developing her craft, not really as a work in itself. If you're not an Austen fan, I doubt you'd find anything much to value in this.

LookingForMe Wed 01-Jun-16 17:09:54

34. They All Love Jack: Busting The Ripper by Bruce Robinson - I got this in the May Kindle sale on a bit of a whim. I don't know that much about the detail of the various suspects etc. but am a bit obsessed with Victorian history in general so thought I'd give it a go. Hmm. It was LONG - in itself, that's not a problem as I normally love a chunky book, but this really didn't need to be as long as it was. A lot of waffle, repetition and just general needless stuff. I also found the tone of the narrative a bit off-putting: he was quite insulting and derogatory about lots of long-dead people and, given that he didn't exactly know them personally, I'm not sure it's necessary to be quite so free in calling them 'pricks' and chucking the word 'cunt' around etc. (And I honestly normally am not fussed what language people use. This just seemed completely over-the-top and unnecessary.) In terms of the concept of his suspect, he seemed to have some convincing arguments and seemed to have covered a lot of ground, in order to show how his suspect fit with all the different aspects of the crimes/letters etc. My big problem with it was that, while it seemed convincing to me as someone who doesn't know much about the detail, I found it really hard to let myself be convinced by his arguments due to the fact that there was one screaming error really early on in the book. He was waffling on about something or other and argued that, in his opinion, the grieving widow Queen Victoria was Dickens's inspiration for Miss Havisham. I may not know that much about the Ripper but I know about Dickens and it seems a pretty glaring error to argue that a book which was written from 1860 to mid-1861 was inspired by the behaviour of a woman after her husband's death in late 1861. It may well be that this is the only mistake in the book but it meant I couldn't trust its accuracy on points I know nothing about. Annoying really because, as I said, it seemed pretty convincing and thorough for the most part.

Am currently just under halfway through The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and loving it. Also planning to start Ulysses soon, as part of my effort to read more epic classics this year. It's been over 3 months since I finished War and Peace so ready for another now. I thought June would be a good time to read it, as that's when it's set, but I very much doubt I'll get through it all this month.

Sadik Wed 01-Jun-16 18:20:40

Thanks for the review of Lady Susan, Remus. I'd wondered about re-reading it for the same reason, but I think I'll skip it and go straight to the film.
Just picked up HhHH from the library, and hoping that I like it as much as everyone else. I'm part way through The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, but it's atmospheric rather than gripping, and definitely wait a while.

Has anybody read Anatomy of a Soldier? Got it from the library but finding it all a bit wearing. Clever, sure, but it's not really making for a satisfying read. Do I want to carry on?

I've also got The Loney on my pile, but the first few pages haven't yet grabbed me.

Sadik - if you've read it before, I probably wouldn't bother. I think the film has probably taken quite a lot of liberties anyway! It looks/sounds great fun.

eitak22 Wed 01-Jun-16 19:58:07

14. Tapas, Carrot cake and a Corpse - Sherri Bryan ok it's not going to win any awards and is incredibly short took about an hr but I enjoyed and was non taxing for a flight. The novelty is that the author includes recipes at the back for the tapas and carrot cake.It's a simple murder mystery which was clinched but I will probably pick up the others if cheap as easy reading.

Realised I am reading a lot of trash at the moment whi,st others are reading ullyses.

Anyone any recommendations from this month's kindle deals?

ladydepp Wed 01-Jun-16 23:51:17

23. Another Agatha Christie The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, a Hercule Poirot and considered one of her best. Quite enjoyable but not my favourite.

Thanks Remus, will carry on with Moriarty but expectations will remain low. It looks to be a quick read and I'm definitely in lazy reading mode at the moment.

ChessieFL Thu 02-Jun-16 04:35:00

80. Life Swap by Jane Green

Single Londoner swaps lives with married American mum to see if the grass is greener. This was ok but predictable and the first half dragged as they don't even do the swap until halfway through. I did like that the ending for one character wasn't the usual neat ending.

southeastdweller Thu 02-Jun-16 07:47:57

Alan Bennett's fabulously entertaining novella, The Uncommon Reader, is just £1.09 today on Kindle.

Tanaqui Thu 02-Jun-16 10:19:39

Aagh- I had fallen off the thread, caught up yesterday, and my post didn't post- so apologies if I misname anyone!

Sadiq I am amused you went back to the CC fanfic- did you find it funny? I haven't read any for ages!

Chessie, I love Jean Ure- don't think I have read them all as some are hard to find, but Dance for Two is probably my favourite- how about you?

Cheddar (I think!) thank you for the Illona Andrews rec- I did have to renew it 3 times, but I did finish it, which is good going for me at the moment! I liked it a lot better than the Kim Harrison.

24) *disclaimer by Renee Knight*- this has been reviewed already, it's an easy read but the plot twist is a bit obvious.

25) *An Inspector Calls*- ds2's gcse text- I did enjoy and would like to see it performed, but when reading it did feel a bit like the moral was being hammered home. I noticed a teacher pp had also read it- any top tips for analysis?

26) Gunmetal Magic by Illona Andrews- urban fantasy, quite well done, although I felt the narrative voice for this character (Andrea Nash) was not distinct from their (husband and wife writing team) other lead character, Kate Daniels.

Thanks to lots of posters for recs- have started Thinking Fast and Slow, so will probably struggle to keep up again!!

tumbletumble Thu 02-Jun-16 11:42:54

25. All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner. I don't read chick lit much these days - mainly because you lot make sure I keep my kindle topped up with good stuff! - but if I am in the mood, then Jennifer Weiner is one of the best IMO. An easy read, fast-paced, funny and touching. Less predictable than others of this genre.

tumbletumble Thu 02-Jun-16 12:08:41

26. The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds. An intriguing tale set in a 19th century private asylum and based on true events. The characters include the owner Dr Allen, his wife and children, poets Alfred Tennyson and John Clare, and various other inmates, employees and family members. Near the beginning I thought that this wasn't quite my thing, but the characters are well drawn and the writing is rather beautiful. I ended up enjoying this.

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