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Thread: 50 Book Challenge 11/12

  1. #31
    Senior Member misstress_malice_mizer's Avatar
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    8) The Camomile - Catherine Carswell
    a semi autobiographical account of Carswell’s own life set against the background of Glasgow School of Art. The back cover says it’s a roman clef and based on the cover illustration ‘Ill Omen’ by Frances MacDonald (sister in law of Charles Rennie Mackintosh)
    It’s written in the form of letters and journals sent by Ellen Carstairs to her friend Ruby. Both girls have just returned from Germany where they have spent three years studying music, Ruby to her mother’s house in London and Ellen to her aunts flat in Glasgow. Everything we read comes from Ellen who’s struggling with the curtailment of her freedom. Aunt Harry is a hard line evangelical who takes exception to almost everything – there are scenes when Ellen takes part in a play, attends the theatre, reads Thomas Hardy, or spends too much (of the money that she’s earning herself) on cloths.

    The first half of the book is Ellen working out what her life is to be, she has already realised long before that she’s a competent musician but no more – what she really wants to do is write but there are reasons, slowly revealed, why this is such a difficult path to tread. Never the less art and life have to be obeyed and Ellen gets herself a room to work in because:
    “Don’t you agree that there must be something radically wrong with a civilisation, society, theory of life - call it what you like - in which a hard-working, serious young woman like myself cannot obtain, without enormous difficulty, expense, or infliction of pain on others, a quiet, clean, pleasant room in which she can work, dream her dreams, write out her thoughts, and keep her few treasures in peace?”

    9) There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbour's Baby - Ludmilla Petrushevskaya
    Petrushevskaya is billed as one of Russia’s best living writers (which I’m not qualified to comment on but on the evidence of this collection she’s certainly very good in translation) and apparently Penguin put this straight into the modern classics range. I’m always on the lookout for something that fits the Angela Carter shaped hole in my life and Petrushevskaya certainly does that – there’s a darkness as well as a stripped back to the bone quality that they both share. I don’t think its coincidence that my favourite section of the book was ‘Fairy tales’ and that within those ‘Marilena’s Secret’ (about a tremendously fat woman who is really two ballerina sisters trapped in a single body) really stood out, it’s definitely the most Carter-esque.

    Some of the very Russian allegories and the ‘Songs of the Eastern Slavs’ were probably a bit beyond me, I enjoyed the writing but was essentially unmoved by them. ‘There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbours Baby’ (the title story not the whole book) just baffled me although perhaps if I read it enough times something will fall into place – which is one of the great things about shorts; any time I have twenty minutes to spare I can have another go. Mind you I could have been a whole lot more baffled and not have minded a bit thanks to that last section of ‘Fairy tales’ all of which got through to me one way or another – perhaps because they came closer to having conventionally happy endings.

    In fact the only fly in the ointment was that this was an obviously American translation which shouldn’t really matter but I found (of all things) the use of the word Mom really annoying, perhaps because it just felt so un European and in this context that seems at odds with the general mood, or perhaps because in my head it always reads like a spelling mistake. It’s also maybe a quirk of reading books in translation – English English translations generally fool me into thinking I’m reading the original authors words, this American English version made me far more aware that I was reading a translators interpretation – or maybe I’m thinking about it far too much.

    hopefully I haven't given away too much of the books :/
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  2. #32
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    4.Chris Carter-The Executioner. After reading The Crucifix Killer(which was his first novel) I liked this guys style, it's very readable, I finished this by 4 today and I only started near 1. I'm obviously getting quicker! Basically it's a good old murder/crime thriller. He is slightly predictable, but there are some nice twists in this one, I might have slightly preferred his first, but he's definitely an author to watch!
    At the moment i'm also reading Sphinx by T.S Learner, which is good, but is taking an age as it's a fairly complex story, and writing style.Should hopefully finish it soon enough, or i'll read another inbetween.
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    2)A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
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  4. #34
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    I epicly failed last year, but I'm going to try again, so count me in!

    1) Haruki Murakami - Kafka on the shore

    It's quite different from the books I've read earlier, but I really liked it. A multilayered story of a 15 -year-old boy who runs away and how different events and people connect to his story. The different stories are put together very skillfully. I'll definitely read more Murakami.
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    4. Danse Macabre by Laurell K. Hamilton.

    Bit slow compared to the last couple.
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  6. #36
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    1 - The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan. Book 5 of the Wheel of Time series lovelovelove.

    Working on book 6 now. Only slight problem I have is there are SO MANY CHARACTERS! There are at least 6 "main" characters (who are not together for most of the time so they get a chapter here, a chapter there), plus main groups of people to follow, then there's loads of other nearly-as-important characters and groups that pop up throughout the whole series. No wonder there's a glossary at the back of each book, it's hard to keep track unless you keep reading them every day. Really a series that takes dedication.
    Also the women are constantly smoothing their skirts. Mr Jordan is obsessed with what the women are wearing, he never fails to comment on an outfit. Swooping necklines and embroidery, oh my.
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  7. #37
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    1) Bananas, Beaches and Bases - Cynthia Enloe

    A look at the unspoken role of women in international relations. I had to read it for my course, but I found it really interesting. I would definately recommend it, if you're interested in international politics/'women's issues' [for lack of a better term]. It's all about the contributions women make behind the scenes of international relations, e.g. the role of the diplomat's wife, that of prostitutes aroung army bases.

    It's not difficult to read either. It's ~200 pages, and I read all of it this afternoon. There's no overly complicated language [which seems to be a massive problem in IR texts], and it's well written as well.
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  8. #38
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    6) Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

    I've been waiting for this book for ages! It came out this morning and I devoted the day to getting it read! Loved it. I love the way Charlaine Harris writes and I am so fond of Sookie. It was a fun book to read and I galloped pretty steadily thorugh it. These books are now established so there are threads that continue through the books now, I like that, but it does make waiting for the next one that much harder!
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  9. #39
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    5. Tess Gerritsen-Under the knife.
    I used to love this author, some of her books are exactly my taste, but this ones a bit more romantic again, not bad, but I definitely wasn't blown away.
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  10. #40
    Senior Member misstress_malice_mizer's Avatar
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    10) the printers devil - Paul Bajoria
    11) the god of mischief - Paul Bajoria
    both books are part of trilogy although I'm having difficulty in tracking down the third one :/
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