2024 AW Reading Challenge!

Lea123

Reliably forgetful
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Oct 7, 2021
Messages
1,007
Reaction score
1,845
Location
The Ether
I am late to the game!

  1. Elementally, my dear Watson: The Golden Compass - Phillip Pullman (reread).
  2. Dearly Departed: The Seven Sisters - Lucinda Riley
  3. You might also like. . .: The Five - Hallie Rubenhold
  4. Enabled: All the light we cannot see - Anthony Doerr
  5. QUILTBAG: The Binding - Bridget Collins
  6. That old black magic: The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
  7. Better known for . . .: This Much is True - Miriam Margoyles
  8. Pixies and Dryads and Elves, oh my!: The War of the Dwarves - Markus Heitz
  9. A real scream: The Lighthouse Witches - C.J. Cooke
  10. The butler might have done it: Everything I never told you yet - Celeste Ng
  11. Tag team: The Way of All Flesh - Ambrose Parry DONE
  12. I’ve met them!: Baby Love - Jacqueline Wilson (I met her when I was in school, perhaps 1998, and she sat with me and played the board game I'd made! I spent half the time mesmerised by the noise her heavily ringed fingers made... she was lovely!)
  13. Out of the park on first at-bat: Sea Change - Gina Chung
  14. Laughing Matters: Unruly - David Mitchel
I've added 14 because I've technically read The Golden Compass but over a decade ago and I want to read it before watching the TV adaptation.
I've also just finished The Way of All Flesh so wasn't sure if that counted!
 

Verboten

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Apr 25, 2018
Messages
150
Reaction score
80
Location
Midwest
I finished "Yellowface." This book was uncomfortable and icky, but it was quite good. June Hayward and Athena Liu are friends. Not best friends, but friends. They become friends in college when Athena helps June through a particularly tough time. They were not friends before this, but Athena saw June crying on campus and came up to her and asked her what was wrong, then they became friends. After college, they didn't really speak much. They were both in writing classes and wanted to become authors. Athena wrote a bestseller and became very well known. June wrote a book and did not become famous. One day, Athena went to June's house to hangout and have dinner. They were having a very good time and then Athena chokes on food and dies. June finds a manuscript in Athena's things that she brought over. She takes it and decides to make it her own. She writes and writes, changing a lot of things so that it's not completely Athena's. But, the whole book is about June becoming Juniper Song and keeping her secret. It's a very wild, uncomfortable ride.

1. A real scream - Razorblade Tears-S.J. Crosby - DONE
2. Tag Team - Out There Screaming - Jordan Peele (he's put together a book with short stories from multiple authors)
3. After The Fall - Extinction Trials - A.J. Riddle - DONE
4. Book with a Number - One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
5. Setting Sail - Memory Police - Yoko Ogawa - DONE
6. Old World Charm - Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett
7. Verboten - A banned book - Stamped-Racism, Antiracism and You - Ibram X. Kendi
8. What's Your Sign - The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman - DONE
9. That Old Black Magic - Hollow - Celina Myers - IN PROGRESS
10. Back in the Day - Weyward - Emilia Hart
11. Top of the Heap - Yellowface - R.F. Kuang - DONE
12. Quiltbag - The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Becky Chambers
 

lilysheaven

I am obviously a transformer
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 23, 2024
Messages
111
Reaction score
196
Location
the upside-down
Oooh! I really want to participate in this but I’m so bad at choosing books beforehand (curse my impulsive nature) so I’m just going to add the category I want to participate in and come back to edit with updates when my impulsivity has made a decision lol

  1. Different Ways of Seeing It: A book with multiple POVs. Say no More - Karen Rose [Done]
  2. Take note: A book where music features prominently, or about musicians.
  3. The butler might have done it: A mystery. The Reappearance of Rachel Price - Holly Jackson
  4. Unmarried . . . with children: A romance with a single parent main character. Finlay Donovan is killing it - Elle Cosimano [DONE] and my luck that this just so happens to also be a mystery/thriller
  5. Out of the park on first at-bat: A debut. Till Human Voices Wake Us - Rebecca Roque
  6. Skipping time: A book in which two or more POVs are in time periods that do not overlap. The Last Flight – Julie Clark [Done]
  7. Coming to a theater near you: A book made into a major motion picture or TV series. You – Caroline Kepnes [Done]
  8. I spy: A book featuring spies or espionage.
  9. Old world charm: A book taking place in or about Europe. Drie Uur - Rosamund Lupton (the Dutch translation of Three Hours)
  10. Enabled: A book with a differently abled main character (blind, deaf, physically impaired, etc.).
  11. I know exactly where that is!: A book taking place in a location you know well.
  12. Freebies: A book you (legally) obtained without paying for. Crush – Niki Keith [Done] (I got this one on Stuff Your Kindle Day and I read it through New years boom boom fireworks because boooy I could not sleep a wink)
 
Last edited:

oneblindmouse

The new me
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 7, 2007
Messages
15,499
Reaction score
1,436
Location
Spain
War is Hell: I finished Men at Arms by Evelyn Waugh.

This is the first book in Waugh’s “Sword of Honour” trilogy, and tells the story of upper-middle-class Guy Crouchback, who returns from Fascist Italy to London in late 1939, keen to do his bit for his country. The story covers his induction, training, and first war mission with the fictional Royal Corps of Halberdiers (part gentleman’s club, part British ‘public’ - i.e. private - school). Through satire and hilarious situations, Waugh pokes fun at inept high-ranking officers playing at war, and the inadequacies of the British war effort in the early days of the Second World War. Like Graham Greene (see my last book review in this thread: A Burnt-Out Case) Waugh brings Catholicism into his plots. On one hand, Crouchback’s father is resigned to the fact that his family will die out as Guy is divorced and childless and cannot, as a Catholic, remarry. On the other hand, Guy convinces himself that seducing his now remarried (several times over) wife would not constitute adultery as they were originally married to each other (and in Catholic terms, still are). I found the book amusing, but not as much as I’d expected, and I was rather lost with all the military terminology. I’m not so sure I’ll go on to read the sequels.
  • Down on the farm: White Savage: William Johnson and the Invention of America by Fintan O’Toole FINISHED
  • You might also like: A Burnt-out Case by Graham Greene FINISHED
  • The butler might have done it: A Conspiracy of Violence by Susanna Gregory
  • Counting your chickens: The Four Feathers by A.E.W. Mason
  • War is hell: Men at Arms by Evelyn Waugh FINISHED
  • Dearly departed: Las 3 bodas de Manolita [Manolita’s 3 Weddings] by Almudena Grande
  • Top of the heap: La Corte del Califa: cuatro años en la Córdoba de los Omeyas [The Caliph’s Court: four years in Umayyad Cordoba] by Eduardo Manzano Moreno
  • Pixies, dryads, and elves, Oh my!: Lord Foul’s Bane by Stephen R. Donaldson
  • Run for the border: Conquistadores: A New History by Fernando Cervantes
  • Different ways of seeing it: Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
  • Setting sail: The Edge of the World: How the North Sea made us who we are by Michael Pye
  • Old world charm: Marie Antoinette: the journey by Antonia Fraser
 

Chris P

Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 4, 2009
Messages
22,525
Reaction score
7,149
Location
Wash., D.C. area
I've been looking forward to Jesmyn Ward's new novel, Let Us Descend since it came out in October, which I've chosen as my historical novel category.

Annis, the daughter of her enslaver, is sold off after she rebuffs her father's advances, and is caught in an embrace with another enslaved house girl. Bound and marched from the Carolinas to the markets in New Orleans, Annis enters a mystical world where spirits--greedy, demanding, and selfish--vie with one another for sacrifices and worship as the enslaved toil in the brutal sugar fields.

The title comes from Dante's Inferno, but it's been so long since I read it I don't know how much this story mirrors it. It's a pretty fast read, and not quite as gritty as I was expecting based on Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing and Salvage the Bones. Nevertheless, this is a good historical and the symbolism would be surely rewarding with more study.


1. In a dry and dusty land: A book taking place in a desert. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
2. Flights of fancy: A book in which airplanes figure prominently. The Great Circle – Maggie Shipstead
5. Elementally, my dear Watson: A book whose title contains one of the chemical elements. Demon Copperhead – Barbara Kingsolver
12. Down on the farm: A book featuring farmers, agriculture, or taking place in an agrarian setting. Cider House Rules – John Irving
13. Ballot boxing: A book centering on a political campaign. The Manchurian Candidate – Richard Condon
17. Old world charm: A book taking place in or about Europe. The Expats – Chris Pavone
21. Enabled: A book with a differently abled main character (blind, deaf, physically impaired, etc.). All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr.
24. War is hell: A book about war, on the lines or the home front, fiction or nonfiction. Desperate Engagement: How a Little-Known Civil War Battle Saved Washington, D.C. – Marc Leepson
28. I know exactly where that is!: A book taking place in a location you know well. DC Noir 2 – George Pelecanos (editor)
31. Back in the day: A historical fiction of any genre. Let Us Descend – Jesmyn Ward.
37. Ye olde booke shoppe: A book written before 1800. The Shahnameh: The Epic of the Persian Kings - Abul-Ghassem Ferdowsi
44. Freebies: A book you (legally) obtained without paying for. Pachinko – Min Jin Lee
 

eekwrites

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 25, 2023
Messages
95
Reaction score
141
The title comes from Dante's Inferno, but it's been so long since I read it I don't know how much this story mirrors it.
I didn't know this! Now I know how to prepare for getting into this book. I've actually never read Inferno in its entirety (only selections back in the Catholic school days), so now I'm thinking I might have a reason to do a little study/side quest.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Chris P and mrsmig

Chris P

Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 4, 2009
Messages
22,525
Reaction score
7,149
Location
Wash., D.C. area
I didn't know this! Now I know how to prepare for getting into this book. I've actually never read Inferno in its entirety (only selections back in the Catholic school days), so now I'm thinking I might have a reason to do a little study/side quest.

I enjoyed Inferno, but got bored about halfway through Purgatorio (which might be the point of Purgatory itself, I don't know). Get a version with footnotes, if you can. So many of the people referenced are the bad guys of his time, sort of like how a modern version would have Hitler, Pol Pot, Jeffrey Dahmer, etc. being punished in particularly fitting ways. Most of Dante's names are unfamiliar to us, and you can always skip the footnotes if you just want to read the story.
 
  • Like
Reactions: eekwrites

Verboten

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Apr 25, 2018
Messages
150
Reaction score
80
Location
Midwest
I finished "Hollow." This was a YA book about a girl named Mia who, unbeknownst to her, had friends that were vampires. They set up this very detailed "on purpose car accident" to kill Mia so that she could join their vampire cult. I liked it and it was a fast read. It was weird to read a YA book because I've been reading very "mature" books lately. On to the next!

1. A real scream - Razorblade Tears-S.J. Crosby - DONE
2. Tag Team - Out There Screaming - Jordan Peele (he's put together a book with short stories from multiple authors) - IN PROGRESS
3. After The Fall - Extinction Trials - A.J. Riddle - DONE
4. Book with a Number - One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
5. Setting Sail - Memory Police - Yoko Ogawa - DONE
6. Old World Charm - Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett
7. Verboten - A banned book - Stamped-Racism, Antiracism and You - Ibram X. Kendi
8. What's Your Sign - The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman - DONE
9. That Old Black Magic - Hollow - Celina Myers - DONE
10. Back in the Day - Weyward - Emilia Hart
11. Top of the Heap - Yellowface - R.F. Kuang - DONE
12. Quiltbag - The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Becky Chambers
 

Cobalt Jade

Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
3,244
Reaction score
1,394
Location
Seattle
I finished my first read, Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher. This is a short fantasy novel that received much praise. It's a fairy tale type of fantasy, but grounded in realism, with a deadpan narrative style and some unlikely protagonists: a 30-year-old "short and round" princess Marra who's been living in a nunnery for ten years; a witch who can commune with the dead; the princess's fairy godmother; and a weathered, exiled diplomat-warrior they rescue from the Goblin Market. Like many fairytales it's a quest with a side journeys, but an unusual one. Marra's sister Kania is married to the abusive king of another kingdom and Marra feels he will kill her after she's borne his heir, so Marra sets out to kill this powerful king first.

I'm not a fan of fairy-tale inspired fantasy, but this one won me over, because of the intelligence of the writing, its observations about human nature, and its heart. I can see what the accolades were about. I was continuously surprised at how it never stooped to the obvious tropes and what it achieved in a minimum of words.

Next up: Dave Grohl's The Storyteller.

19. Like a novel, only real: Creative nonfiction.
Storyteller, Dave Grohl
The drummer for Nirvana, and artist in his own merit, tells anecdotes from his life. IN PROGRESS


25. What’s your sign?:
A book by an author who shares your astrological sign (Greek or Chinese zodiac).
Something by William Golding
The writer of Lord of the Flies, we are both Virgos.


26. Do you deliver?: A book where food, cooking, restaurants, chefs, etc. play a major role.
Twinkie Deconstructed, Steve Ettlinger
All the additives added to processed food explained. Got for free at a yard sale last summer.


27. That old black magic: A paranormal novel.
Death of the Necromancer, Martha Wells
Murder and magic in an alternate-world Gothic Italy.


46. After the fall: A post-apocalyptic or dystopic book.
The Product, Marine Fontaine
From Russia. That says it all.


47. Top of the Heap: A book on any Top Whatever list.
Nettle & Bone, T. Kingfisher
A sort of YA horror-fairytale hybrid, highly acclaimed, from 2022.
 

Bone2pick

Conspicuously Conventional
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Apr 11, 2023
Messages
247
Reaction score
165
War is Hell:
Finished Gone for Soldiers by Jeff Shaara. (4 stars) It lacks some of the personal stakes and moral uncertainty that Shaara’s Civil War series has, but it’s a worthwhile, well-written story all the same.

Three books down, nine to go.
 
Last edited:

Sheik13_Loz

Registered
Joined
Jan 17, 2024
Messages
48
Reaction score
56
Finished 36. Tag Team - Demigods and Monsters by Rick Riordan.

A collection of essays by different authors about the Percy Jackson world and books. 3/5. Some essays were interesting. But many I just wasn't really enthralled by so they felt long. Probably not for someone not really interested in that series.

Now onto 44. Freebies - Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice - Mahogany L. Browne, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Olivia Gatwood
 

Sheik13_Loz

Registered
Joined
Jan 17, 2024
Messages
48
Reaction score
56
Finished 44. Freebies - Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice - Mahogany L. Browne, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Olivia Gatwood.
A book I got for free at a banned books table at uni. Poems by the three authors plus illustrations by Theodore Taylor III. 5/5. The art was lovely and the poems were beautiful and flowed well. They carried the message well, in a way young readers would understand. I'd reccomend for adults, too, not just kids. Never read much poetry before this, but I loved this one, and art complimented very well. Short read, but each poem had an impact.

Now onto 42. What your Great Grandparents Read - Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
 

eekwrites

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 25, 2023
Messages
95
Reaction score
141
Finished two of my selections in the first two weeks of February (thanks to far too many hours spent on planes).

War is hell: The Storm We Made by Vanessa Chan
This captivating, harrowing debut novel is about colonization, war, and the loss of innocence that accompanies both. In historical fiction I'm always drawn to stories about times/places that I've never learned about, so the setting in 1930s-40s Malaya, covering WWII and the years of British occupation before the war, really intrigued me. The prose is lovely, and the characterization so well done that the reader empathizes with even the most morally ambiguous of characters. I don't think a book has hit me this hard emotionally since A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.

Top of the Heap: House of Flame and Shadow by Sarah J. Maas
I'd been eagerly awaiting the third installment of SJM's Crescent City series, and it did not disappoint. There were aspects I didn't love, like very heavy info-dumping and some slightly bizarre word choices, but I had a good time reading it - and that's what mattered to me. I loved being back in this world with these characters.

On to the next: City of Brass!
 

Sheik13_Loz

Registered
Joined
Jan 17, 2024
Messages
48
Reaction score
56
Finished
42. What your Great Grandparents Read - Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
I liked the characters and found that they all had interesting motives. The writing style was fine and easy to read. Overall a fun read and it was interesting to see the original story.

Now onto 15. QUILTBAG - The Midnight Girls - Alicia Jasinska

Good luck everyone!
 
  • Like
Reactions: mrsmig and Chris P

Chris P

Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 4, 2009
Messages
22,525
Reaction score
7,149
Location
Wash., D.C. area
Finished
42. What your Great Grandparents Read - Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
I liked the characters and found that they all had interesting motives. The writing style was fine and easy to read. Overall a fun read and it was interesting to see the original story.

Now onto 15. QUILTBAG - The Midnight Girls - Alicia Jasinska

Good luck everyone!

Frankenstein is one of my faves of the classics. I'm impressed you finished it so quickly! I thought the characters were the best part, particularly in how their inner conflicts play out. It's on my list to re-read (this will be the third time) and I'm looking forward to seeing what I pick up this time through.
 

Sheik13_Loz

Registered
Joined
Jan 17, 2024
Messages
48
Reaction score
56
Frankenstein is one of my faves of the classics. I'm impressed you finished it so quickly! I thought the characters were the best part, particularly in how their inner conflicts play out. It's on my list to re-read (this will be the third time) and I'm looking forward to seeing what I pick up this time through.
I thought that was the best part, too! And thank you. Long cars rides plus my version having many pictures certainly helped. Enjoy your reread!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Chris P

oneblindmouse

The new me
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 7, 2007
Messages
15,499
Reaction score
1,436
Location
Spain
Top of the heap: I finished La Corte del Califa: cuatro años en la Córdoba de los Omeyas [The Caliph’s Court: four years in Umayyad Cordoba] by Eduardo Manzano Moreno.

In the second half of the 10th Century the Caliphate of Córdoba, Al-Ándalus (in modern-day Spain), became the most powerful political and cultural power in the Western world, reaching its peak under the caliph al-Hakam II, who ruled from 961-976, and was famous for having one of the largest libraries of his day, enlarging Córdoba´s spectacular main mosque, and building the sumptuous palatine city of Madinat al-Zahra.

This book is based on the 4-year diary (June 971-July 975) of a court official and eyewitness, and is a detailed chronicle of state administration. The reader learns about the state’s daily functioning, from court protocol and legislation (such as the number of camels needed to be exempt from paying certain taxes), to the logistics of ferrying the army over to northern Africa to wage war against the Fatimids, or maintaining the northern border with the Christians in the peninsula. Despite the almost overwhelming wealth of detail, Manzano not only builds a clear picture of the Caliphate’s importance, power, and authority, but also offers explanations for its ultimate failure and sudden collapse. The book is a fascinating and highly documented read about Muslim Spain, and is a must for anyone interested in mediaeval Spanish history.

  • Down on the farm: White Savage: William Johnson and the Invention of America by Fintan O’Toole DONE
  • You might also like: A Burnt-out Case by Graham Greene DONE
  • The butler might have done it: A Conspiracy of Violence by Susanna Gregory
  • Counting your chickens: The Four Feathers by A.E.W. Mason
  • War is hell: Men at Arms by Evelyn Waugh DONE
  • Dearly departed: Las 3 bodas de Manolita [Manolita’s 3 Weddings] by Almudena Grande
  • Top of the heap: La Corte del Califa: cuatro años en la Córdoba de los Omeyas [The Caliph’s Court: four years in Umayyad Cordoba] by Eduardo Manzano Moreno DONE
  • Pixies, dryads, and elves, Oh my!: Lord Foul’s Bane by Stephen R. Donaldson
  • Run for the border: Conquistadores: A New History by Fernando Cervantes
  • Different ways of seeing it: Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
  • Setting sail: The Edge of the World: How the North Sea made us who we are by Michael Pye
  • Old world charm: Marie Antoinette: the journey by Antonia Fraser
 

mrsmig

Write. Write. Writey Write Write.
Staff member
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 4, 2012
Messages
9,776
Reaction score
6,873
Location
Virginia
My What's your sign? selection suddenly became available at my library, so rather than start The Nickel Boys, I read Terry Pratchett's A Stroke of the Pen first.

This is a collection of previously-unknown Pratchett short stories, written by him under pen names early in his career. The book was released late last year, so I'd been eagerly awaiting fulfillment of my library hold on the title. I was a little disappointed in it, I confess. Pratchett's work was always right up on the edge of twee, saved from teetering over by his great characterizations and sardonic wit. Neither of those traits are fully present in these stories which, while fun, are a little precious and predictable. I had a similar issue with a collection of his teenaged writing: a sense of what Pratchett would become is there, but at the end of the day - and the book - it's still undercooked Pratchett.

I'm about a third of the way into The Nickel Boys, and it's already harrowing.

4. Verboten: A banned book. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, by Erika L. Sanchez FINISHED
5. Elementally, my dear Watson: A book whose title contains one of the chemical elements. The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead
6. Coming to a theater near you: A book made into a major motion picture or TV series. Leave the World Behind, by Rumaan Alam
14. You might also like...: A book recommended by an automated bot. Kitchens of the Great Midwest, by J. Ryan Stradal
20. Subterranean homesick blues: A book taking place at least partly below ground. The Starless Sea, by Erin Morganstern
24. War is hell: A book about war, on the lines or the home front, fiction or nonfiction. The Demon of Unrest, by Erik Larson
25. What’s your sign?: A book by an author who shares your astrological sign. A Stroke of the Pen, by Terry Pratchett FINISHED
32. A real scream: A horror novel. The Insatiable Volt Sisters, by Rachel Eve Moulton
35. The butler might have done it: A mystery. The Mysterious Affair at Styles, by Agatha Christie FINISHED
44. Freebies: A book you (legally) obtained without paying for. Hidden Mountains, by Michael Wejchert FINISHED
47. Top of the Heap: A book on any Top Whatever list. Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingsolver
48. Laughing Matters: A humorous or satirical book. Alexandra Petri's U.S. History: Important American Documents, by Alexandra Petri FINISHED
 

oneblindmouse

The new me
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 7, 2007
Messages
15,499
Reaction score
1,436
Location
Spain
My What's your sign? selection suddenly became available at my library, so rather than start The Nickel Boys, I read Terry Pratchett's A Stroke of the Pen first.

This is a collection of previously-unknown Pratchett short stories, written by him under pen names early in his career. The book was released late last year, so I'd been eagerly awaiting fulfillment of my library hold on the title. I was a little disappointed in it, I confess. Pratchett's work was always right up on the edge of twee, saved from teetering over by his great characterizations and sardonic wit. Neither of those traits are fully present in these stories which, while fun, are a little precious and predictable. I had a similar issue with a collection of his teenaged writing: a sense of what Pratchett would become is there, but at the end of the day - and the book - it's still undercooked Pratchett.

I'm about a third of the way into The Nickel Boys, and it's already harrowing.

4. Verboten: A banned book. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, by Erika L. Sanchez FINISHED
5. Elementally, my dear Watson: A book whose title contains one of the chemical elements. The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead
6. Coming to a theater near you: A book made into a major motion picture or TV series. Leave the World Behind, by Rumaan Alam
14. You might also like...: A book recommended by an automated bot. Kitchens of the Great Midwest, by J. Ryan Stradal
20. Subterranean homesick blues: A book taking place at least partly below ground. The Starless Sea, by Erin Morganstern
24. War is hell: A book about war, on the lines or the home front, fiction or nonfiction. The Demon of Unrest, by Erik Larson
25. What’s your sign?: A book by an author who shares your astrological sign. A Stroke of the Pen, by Terry Pratchett FINISHED
32. A real scream: A horror novel. The Insatiable Volt Sisters, by Rachel Eve Moulton
35. The butler might have done it: A mystery. The Mysterious Affair at Styles, by Agatha Christie FINISHED
44. Freebies: A book you (legally) obtained without paying for. Hidden Mountains, by Michael Wejchert FINISHED
47. Top of the Heap: A book on any Top Whatever list. Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingsolver
48. Laughing Matters: A humorous or satirical book. Alexandra Petri's U.S. History: Important American Documents, by Alexandra Petri FINISHED
I read a book or two by Pratchett many years ago, and didn't like them.
 

Chris P

Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 4, 2009
Messages
22,525
Reaction score
7,149
Location
Wash., D.C. area
I've been eyeing up Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See since it came out, and it was as good as I was expecting it to be. I've read a few of his short stories, and I knew there was quite some buzz about him, and I see it's deserved.

Werner Pfennig is an under-sized but brilliant orphan boy in the coal mining regions of Germany in the 1930s, while Marie-Laure is the blind daughter of a museum curator in Paris. As the war looms, Werner sees his only way to avoid the front lines and the life of a coal miner if he survives the lines is to excel at electrical engineering and communications. This puts him on a course to serve the German war effort by designing radio triangulation equipment to locate enemy transmissions. Meanwhile, Marie-Laure flees to the seaside town of Saint Malo with her father, who has been entrusted with the Paris museum's most prized (and potentially cursed) possession: a thumb-sized diamond The Sea of Flames. Marie-Laure and her father take up with a relative, who secretly maintains a radio transmitter from which he is persuaded to send encoded messages to the Allies. Following the D-Day Invasion and the rolling back of the Germans from France, Werner, a German gem appraiser in the employ of Berlin, and the Allied forces converge on Saint Malo and the house in which Marie-Laure hides, with the transmitter and the diamond.

The pace of the book moves right along with short, and well-moving chapters, and more or less follows a linear story line (which is something I usually appreciate). It also refreshingly avoids a lot of WWII tropes without losing the feel of the time and place. I also like the omniscient POV, although at times it's so close to that I catch myself wondering how Marie-Laure is observing all these visuals when she is blind.


1. In a dry and dusty land: A book taking place in a desert. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
2. Flights of fancy: A book in which airplanes figure prominently. The Great Circle – Maggie Shipstead
5. Elementally, my dear Watson: A book whose title contains one of the chemical elements. Demon Copperhead – Barbara Kingsolver
12. Down on the farm: A book featuring farmers, agriculture, or taking place in an agrarian setting. Cider House Rules – John Irving
13. Ballot boxing: A book centering on a political campaign. The Manchurian Candidate – Richard Condon
17. Old world charm: A book taking place in or about Europe. The Expats – Chris Pavone
21. Enabled: A book with a differently abled main character (blind, deaf, physically impaired, etc.). All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr.
24. War is hell: A book about war, on the lines or the home front, fiction or nonfiction. Desperate Engagement: How a Little-Known Civil War Battle Saved Washington, D.C. – Marc Leepson
28. I know exactly where that is!: A book taking place in a location you know well. DC Noir 2 – George Pelecanos (editor)
31. Back in the day: A historical fiction of any genre. Let Us Descend – Jesmyn Ward.
37. Ye olde booke shoppe: A book written before 1800. The Shahnameh: The Epic of the Persian Kings - Abul-Ghassem Ferdowsi
44. Freebies: A book you (legally) obtained without paying for. Pachinko – Min Jin Lee
 

oneblindmouse

The new me
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 7, 2007
Messages
15,499
Reaction score
1,436
Location
Spain
I've been eyeing up Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See since it came out, and it was as good as I was expecting it to be. I've read a few of his short stories, and I knew there was quite some buzz about him, and I see it's deserved.

Werner Pfennig is an under-sized but brilliant orphan boy in the coal mining regions of Germany in the 1930s, while Marie-Laure is the blind daughter of a museum curator in Paris. As the war looms, Werner sees his only way to avoid the front lines and the life of a coal miner if he survives the lines is to excel at electrical engineering and communications. This puts him on a course to serve the German war effort by designing radio triangulation equipment to locate enemy transmissions. Meanwhile, Marie-Laure flees to the seaside town of Saint Malo with her father, who has been entrusted with the Paris museum's most prized (and potentially cursed) possession: a thumb-sized diamond The Sea of Flames. Marie-Laure and her father take up with a relative, who secretly maintains a radio transmitter from which he is persuaded to send encoded messages to the Allies. Following the D-Day Invasion and the rolling back of the Germans from France, Werner, a German gem appraiser in the employ of Berlin, and the Allied forces converge on Saint Malo and the house in which Marie-Laure hides, with the transmitter and the diamond.

The pace of the book moves right along with short, and well-moving chapters, and more or less follows a linear story line (which is something I usually appreciate). It also refreshingly avoids a lot of WWII tropes without losing the feel of the time and place. I also like the omniscient POV, although at times it's so close to that I catch myself wondering how Marie-Laure is observing all these visuals when she is blind.
I haven't read anything by Doerr yet, so I'm looking forward to reading his Cloud Cuckoo Land later this year, on my sister's recommendation. And I shall now put All the Light we Cannot See on my TBR list as well!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Chris P