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Readwine

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Everything posted by Readwine

  1. Readwine's Reads 2010

    Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden Blurb from Amazon: A haunting novel about identity, love, andloss. Will Bird is a legendary Cree bush pilot, now lying in a coma in a hospital in his hometown of Moose Factory, Ontario. His niece Annie Bird, beautiful and self-reliant, has returned from her own perilous journey to sit beside his bed. Broken in different ways, the two take silent communion in their unspoken kinship, and the story that unfolds is rife with heartbreak, fierce love, ancient blood feuds, mysterious disappearances, fires, plane crashes, murders, and the bonds that hold a family, and a people, together. As Will and Annie reveal their secrets—the tragic betrayal that cost Will his family, Annie’s desperate search for her missing sister, the famous model Suzanne—a remarkable saga of resilience and destiny takes shape. From the dangerous bush country of upper Canada to the drug-fueled glamour of the Manhattan club scene, Joseph Boyden tracks his characters with a keen eye for the telling detail and a rare empathy for the empty places concealed within the heart. Sure to appeal to readers of Louise Erdrich and Jim Harrison, Through Black Spruce establishes Boyden as a writer of startling originality and uncommon power. This was my first introduction to Joseph Boyden as well as to the Cree Native North Americans: the largest group of First Nations of Canada. The novel is set primarily in Moosonee, a small town on the southern end of James Bay in northern Ontario. Boyden’s descriptions of the landscape, the cold, and the dangers faced by the inhabitants of this area are very successful in creating a feeling of isolation and bleakness, yet they underline its certain raw beauty. At the beginning, I found the pace of the novel a little slow but I soon realized that it really worked with the story, especially its aboriginal characters. As hunters and trappers, people of the earth, the slow speech, moments of silence between the characters, the full descriptions of the natural surroundings really brought about a sense of the Cree culture; its need to live in the moment but reflect on the past. Of course, this serves even better when it is juxtaposed against the erratic and frantic lifestyle of New York City; the nightly parties of New York models and the constant dangers of drug dealers. Further, in these two worlds, Boyden does a fabulous job in examining the blood ties of family as they heal and accompany and the drug ties of strangers as they destroy and isolate. Very, very interesting. The story unfolds through the narration of the two main characters: Will, alcohol-abusing bush pilot who at the beginning of the novel is in a coma, and by Annie, his niece, who sits at his bedside speaking to him, hoping he is listening. This strategy actually works very well with the two storylines finally intersecting at the end. Boyden actually won the Giller Prize 2008 for this novel; Canada's highest book award. I really enjoyed this novel and the final peace it creates (warts and all). I give it a 9/10
  2. Blurb from Amazon: A haunting novel about identity, love, and loss. Will Bird is a legendary Cree bush pilot, now lying in a coma in a hospital in his hometown of Moose Factory, Ontario. His niece Annie Bird, beautiful and self-reliant, has returned from her own perilous journey to sit beside his bed. Broken in different ways, the two take silent communion in their unspoken kinship, and the story that unfolds is rife with heartbreak, fierce love, ancient blood feuds, mysterious disappearances, fires, plane crashes, murders, and the bonds that hold a family, and a people, together. As Will and Annie reveal their secrets
  3. Peacefield's Reads (started 2009)

    Peacefield. Thank you for the review of The Swan Thieves. I have been really hesitating about buying this book as the reviews I've read were so, so. I love books about art and artists as well, so I think I shall give it a go. I have not read The Historian so I am not familiar with Kostova. Maybe it is time I was
  4. The White Tiger by Avarind Adiga
  5. You may be thinking about: Downhill All the Way: Walking with Donkeys on the Stevenson Trail by Hilary Makaskill and Molly Wood In 1878, Robert Louis Stevenson and his donkey, Modestine, spent twelve days walking in the Cevennes mountains in France, as he recounted in Travels with a Donkey. His book became an instant hit and the route he took is now the Stevenson Trail, along the GR70 long-distance footpath. Over a period of four years, Hilary Macaskill and Molly Wood attempted to retrace his steps. In the course of several trips they negotiated the entire 212 kilometres of the Stevenson Trail, accompanied by Whiskey the dog and a variety of donkeys. This hilarious account tells of the ups and downs of handling donkeys, getting lost, encounters with some odd people and some particularly memorable meals.
  6. Longitude by Dava Sobel comes to mind. It was very interesting The thorniest scientific problem of the eighteenth century was how to determine longitude. Many thousands of lives had been lost at sea over the centuries due to the inability to determine an east-west position. This is the engrossing story of the clockmaker, John "Longitude" Harrison, who solved the problem that Newton and Galileo had failed to conquer, yet claimed only half the promised rich reward
  7. The movie quote game

    Perfect. One of my favourite movies. Sorry for the late response. Your turn
  8. Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin Blurb from Amazon: Starred Review. Benjamin draws on one of the most enduring relationships in children's literature in her excellent debut, spinning out the heartbreaking story of Alice from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Her research into the lives of Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) and the family of Alice Liddell is apparent as she takes circumstances shrouded in mystery and colors in the spaces to reveal a vibrant and passionate Alice. Born into a Victorian family of privilege, free-spirited Alice catches the attention of family friend Dodgson and serves as the muse for both his photography and writing. Their bond, however, is misunderstood by Alice's family, and though she is forced to sever their friendship, she is forever haunted by their connection as her life becomes something of a chain of heartbreaks. As an adult, Alice tries to escape her past, but it is only when she finally embraces it that she truly finds the happiness that eluded her. Focusing on three eras in Alice's life, Benjamin offers a finely wrought portrait of Alice that seamlessly blends fact with fiction. This is book club gold. This was quite an interesting read as I knew next to nothing about the real Alice Liddell and Lewis Carroll. It is primarily set during the second half of the nineteenth century and stylistically it reflects this period. The language is lovely and it harbours great sentimentality and detail of emotion. I had a little trouble believing the emotional maturity of a seven to ten year old child as described by Benjamin, but soon took it for what it is and enjoyed the development of Alice
  9. Readwine's Reads 2010

    Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin Blurb from Amazon: Starred Review. Benjamin draws on one of the most enduring relationships in children's literature in her excellent debut, spinning out the heartbreaking story of Alice from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Her research into the lives of Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) and the family of Alice Liddell is apparent as she takes circumstances shrouded in mystery and colors in the spaces to reveal a vibrant and passionate Alice. Born into a Victorian family of privilege, free-spirited Alice catches the attention of family friend Dodgson and serves as the muse for both his photography and writing. Their bond, however, is misunderstood by Alice's family, and though she is forced to sever their friendship, she is forever haunted by their connection as her life becomes something of a chain of heartbreaks. As an adult, Alice tries to escape her past, but it is only when she finally embraces it that she truly finds the happiness that eluded her. Focusing on three eras in Alice's life, Benjamin offers a finely wrought portrait of Alice that seamlessly blends fact with fiction. This is book club gold. This was quite an interesting read as I knew next to nothing about the real Alice Liddell and Lewis Carroll. It is primarily set during the second half of the nineteenth century and stylistically it reflects this period. The language is lovely and it harbours great sentimentality and detail of emotion. I had a little trouble believing the emotional maturity of a seven to ten year old child as described by Benjamin, but soon took it for what it is and enjoyed the development of Alice’s character. After all, young children of the 19th century were certainly different than today’s children (especially those brought up amidst the intellectual circles of Oxford I would imagine). I know little about Lewis Carroll so his portrayal in the novel as a weak and sad man was catching. There are undertones throughout the book of his pedophilic tendencies, which are not entirely resolved and left me a little disturbed. Though Alice in Wonderland is obviously central to the story, not much is discussed about the book itself. I did learn, however, that the white rabbit who is terminally late may have been a reference to Alice’s father, Dean of Christ Church College at Oxford, as this don was apparently always running late. The Queen of Hearts may have been a reference to Alice’s mother, a formidable lady who ran the household with an iron fist. Also, of interest, was the relationship between Prince Leopold (Queen Victoria’s youngest son) and Alice Liddell - perhaps a little fictionalized, perhaps not. The fact that one of Alice’s son’s was named Leopold and Leopold’s daughter was named Alice may give credence to the relationship. At any rate, worth a read. I give it a 8.5/10
  10. The movie quote game

    One of my favorite movies (easy) First, you've got that bloody old fortress on top of that bloody cliff. Then you've got the bloody cliff overhang. You can't even see the bloody cave, let alone the bloody guns. And anyway, we haven't got a bloody bomb big enough to smash that bloody rock. And that's the bloody truth, sir.
  11. Apple Turnover Murder by Joanne Fluke
  12. The Logogryph by Thomas Wharton

    From your comments and some other reviews I've read, this book sounds really interesting. Thanks for the tip off
  13. The one that comes to mind is Being Dead by Jim Crace. It is a rather interesting book as it describes in detail the characters who are dead as they are not found for sometime. Here is a brief summary from Amazon: It begins with a murder. Celice and Joseph, in their mid-50s and married for more than 30 years, are returning to the seacoast where they met as students. They are reliving their first amorous encounter in the sand dunes when they are set upon by the murderer who beats them to death with a rock and steals their watches, their jewelry, and even their meager lunch. From that moment forward, this remarkably written book by Jim Crace becomes less about murder and more about death. Alternating chapters move back in time from the murder in hourly and two-hourly increments. As the narrative moves backward, we see Celice and Joseph make the small decisions about their day that will lead them inexorably towards their own deaths. Eventually we learn about their first meeting, and that this is not the first time tragedy has struck them in this idyllic setting. In other chapters the narrative moves forward. Celice and Joseph are on vacation and nobody misses them until they do not return. Thus, it is six days before their bodies are found. Crace describes in minute detail their gradual return to the land with the help of crabs, birds, and the numerous insects that attack the body and gently and not so gently prepare it for the dust-to-dust phase of death. Celice and Joseph would have been delighted with the description: she was a zoologist and he was an oceanographer, and they spent their lives with their eyes to the microscope, observing the phenomena of life and death. Some readers might find this gruesome, but the facts of death are told in such glorious prose that these descriptions in no way detract from the enjoyment of the book. After her parents do not return home, their daughter, Syl, must search the morgues and follow up John and Jane Doe reports until she is finally asked to make an identification of the remains in the dunes. We then discover that the reader has had a more intimate relationship with them in death than Syl ever had with them in life. This small gem of a book, not really a mystery in the usual sense, will stay with you long after you finish.
  14. Who do you identify with?

    I loved Lizbeth. I felt I could really understand her. Also, I really identified with Mr. Rochester (Jane Eyre). Good grief, am I that moody and dark
  15. Favourite Story vs Favourite Book

    Vinay, I guess I am not really understanding your question. Maybe it is two questions: What is your favourite book as it pertains to character development and/or language? and What is your favourite plot line? Or is it Who is your favourite author? For example, my favourite writer is Ian McEwan. To me, his prose is pristine and fabulous - stylistically, he is superb. His storylines, however, are so dark and edgy I find some of them difficult to read. Is this what you mean? As to plot line, I am going to have to think about this one - very difficult to decide.
  16. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  17. Black Beauty - Anna Sewell
  18. Books you're looking forward to in 2010

    So excited for these two books coming out this year. Stylistically, McEwan is my most favorite author; he writes beautifully. Though some of his novels are dark and disturbing, I still love to read him just for his writing. Min
  19. Two come to mind: Stones for Ibarra by Harriet Doerr Wild Steps of Heaven by Victor Villasenor
  20. Readwine's Reads 2010

    Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier Blurb from Publisher’s Weekly: Chevalier's newest is a flat historical whose familiar themes of gender inequality, class warfare and social power often overwhelm the story. Tart-tongued spinster Elizabeth Philpot meets young Mary Anning after moving from London to the coastal town of Lyme Regis. The two quickly form an unlikely friendship based on their mutual interest in finding fossils, which provides the central narrative as working-class Mary emerges from childhood to become a famous fossil hunter, with her friend and protector Elizabeth to defend her against the men who try to take credit for Mary's finds. Their friendship, however, is tested when Colonel Birch comes to Lyme to ask for Mary's help in hunting fossils and the two spinsters compete for his attention. While Chevalier's exploration of the plight of Victorian-era women is admirable, Elizabeth's fixation on her status as an unmarried woman living in a gossipy small town becomes monotonous, and Chevalier slows the story by dryly explaining the relative importance of different fossils. Chevalier's attempt to imagine the lives of these real historical figures makes them seem less remarkable than they are. I think Publisher’s Weekly is a bit harsh in the assessment of this novel, but it does summarize the plot quite well. I think Chevalier presents the themes of gender inequality and class distinction very well through its two main characters, and she develops the friendship between the two women with warts and all. Even though Elizabeth is a bit bitter at being an old spinster, I still liked her as she struggled to find her individuality in a time when women were discounted and dismissed. The real problem I had with this novel was Chevalier’s ignoring (or at least not expanding) the amazing religious and scientific controversy that must have been swirling and discussed at the finding of ichthyosaurus and plesiosaurus bones in the shores of England. Mary’s finds took place before Darwin proffered his evolutionary theories, but the bones became key pieces of evidence of extinction. Apparently in the 1820s (dates the novel takes place), it was believed by the clergy and the intelligentsia that animals did not become extinct — in part because they felt that extinction would imply that God's creation had been imperfect; any oddities found were explained away as still living somewhere in an unexplored region of the earth. I was really hoping that the novel would delve a little deeper into this argument. Alas, no. I give it an 8.5 out of 10
  21. Sashenka by Simon Montefiore

    Sue, thanks for the great references. Much appreciated. I think you are right, S was caught in a fervent emotional tide, but a tide that demanded to extend outwards (towards the "people" against the "bourgeoisie") without individual conditions. But as the tide goes out, it must also come in. And this where I think S was in self-denial. She refuses to let any emotional tide affect her individually. For example, when she truly finds out what her husband is up to, there is absolutely no reaction. Like you said, she just living a lie and a life of denial.
  22. Thanks for the article link Raven. Very interesting. Pontalba, thanks for info. I've not heard of Abe Books so I shall go explore.
  23. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

    I guess I am in the minority. Every so often, I love to get lost in a good story - no thinking, no analysing, taking every word as it comes and granting it to the author without argument. Dan Brown's books fit this bill for me. I thoroughly enjoyed The Lost Symbol and basically read it through in one sitting. I think it has some interesting concepts. That is all. Wanna bet someone in Washington DC is making a mint by having LS tours
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