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2/28/14

March: My Month of Crime Fiction

 http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQY_bW7l1E6QvVSjZk2ehfEFKwE06_FdwlRYMdJ0NllsYRDoIHqow http://supertemporal.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/thebigsleep.jpg http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-kkgmL8UTyx4/Tn6pmZRXqSI/AAAAAAAACA8/Z_EMS98HTsY/s1600/in+a+lonely+place+book.jpg http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQQBNqReKNJZ_SveEDnM7P8fOuEI95kiq7ZspO7a3W5PBPfz1Ag http://anencounter.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/the-friends-of-eddie-coyle.jpg http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR-kpVAbTWZh-CIKVSbTo93UYVfjtpfHtJllZvRcHBepMXevobeMw http://media.npr.org/assets/bakertaylor/covers/t/the-cuckoos-calling/9780316206846_custom-011797377029ae073fad95dcd2116402cac33bf0-s6-c30.jpg


During the month of March, I'll be diving into modern crime fiction for the first time. I've chosen these seven novels based on recommendations from some fabulous bookish people, crime-fiction lists, and my own literary leanings. Keep it right here on Tuesdays and Thursdays for posts on each novel, and please add your own recommendations and comments. I plan to continue reading crime fiction after this month of course, and these novels will get me off to a great start. (I've also tried to space them out time-wise, so there's that angle, too). Anyway, enjoy!

Review: Night in Shanghai by Nicole Mones


http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1377648644l/18222672.jpgNight in Shanghai by Nicole Mones (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014, 288 pages)


You know that novel that lets you down because of the plot, or characters, or simply the author's style, but it deals with such interesting historical events that you want to run out immediately and buy its nonfiction equivalent?

This was that kind of novel.

Now, don't get me wrong, all the elements of a fascinating story were present: an African-American musician from Baltimore (Thomas Greene) recruited to play jazz in Shanghai during the 1930s, the Japanese invasion of China just before WWII, and Jews fleeing to Shanghai from the Nazis. Sounds ridiculously interesting, right?

From the TBR Shelf #13: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini


http://media.npr.org/assets/bakertaylor/covers/t/the-kite-runner/9781594480003_custom-026dda26cdaf8667d159924824392676505ed43e-s6-c30.jpgThe Kite Runner (2003) by Khaled Hosseini


This novel was one of those relatively recent ones that slipped through the cracks for me, like Cloud Atlas. I heard about it in passing, but that was all.

And then, something recently reminded me that I wanted to read Hosseini's debut novel, and I'm glad I did. The Kite Runner was, for me, a way in to the "history" of my own time, if you will. In other words, I was in college when the U.S. bombed Afghanistan, leading to over a decade of war, but wrapped up in my own reality of college life and grad school applications, I paid scant attention to the news. My mom would tell me about world events over the phone, and I'd watch TV when I was home on break, but that was about it. Afghanistan and Iraq seemed beyond distant to me.

2/25/14

From the TBR Shelf #12: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami


http://www.thefoxisblack.com/blogimages//the-wind-up-bird-chronicle-haruki-murakami-1.jpgThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1994-5) by Haruki Murakami


Wow...I...just...no words.

Ok, I do have words, but how to use them to explain this book? There's the rub, y'all.

This is my first Murakami novel, and while I'm not necessarily into magical realism-ish, surreal-ish kinds of novels, this one had a (might I say) jaunty quality, an energy that I always associate with Nabokov's Lolita. And yet, that seems strange to say, considering the main character comes across as passive most of the time. It's his attempt to figure out why his life has spiralled out of normalcy that spurs him to action.

2/24/14

Rachel's Random Recommendation #23: Stephen Crane: Prose and Poetry

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51uxgPO1rAL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgStephen Crane: Prose and Poetry (Library of America, 1984)

I'll go out on a limb here and guess that many of you reading this post have written, at some time in your lives, some really really dark, brooding, jaded, melancholy, depressing poetry and/or prose (I totally did that thing; for me it was in high school).

Well, I have to say that whatever you wrote is sunshine and flower petals and puppy dogs compared to the stuff that poured from Stephen Crane's pen. Now that dude knew how to be nihilistic. I mean, just read some of his poems from The Black Riders (1895) and War is Kind (1896). I'd need a mountainous mound of dark chocolate on hand to read just one of those poetry collections in one sitting, you guys.

2/22/14

Mashing Up a Month of Reading

mashupsMy bookish resolution for 2014 was to kick my reading up into high gear. To that end, I’ve been dragging my sorry behind out of bed around 5:30am every morning (ok, ok, most mornings) just to make sure that I get a good chunk of reading done each and every day. Surprisingly, I’ve actually managed to keep to this schedule, with the help of my two good friends coffee and chocolate croissant, which keep me and my book company.

I’ve really been able to plow through a bunch of great books with this schedule, and it occurred to me that it would be ONE BIZARRE BOOK if I were to smash them together into a single big honking volume. Why would I ever do that? Well, let’s just call it a fun thought-experiment!

9 Portraits of Famous Writers

180px-Edouard_Manet_Georges_MooreThere’s just something about the mingling of artistic media that always puts a smile on my face. I’m thinking, for example, of such works as Pictures at an Exhibition (completed in 1874) by the Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky, or Emile Zola’s novel The Masterpiece (1886) based loosely on the life of Paul Paul Cézanne (and if you’re into novels featuring art and artists, see this earlier Book Riot post). But above all, I just love love love paintings of famous writers because they offer alternate windows into these literary lives. Each artist approaches his/her subject with a necessarily unique perspective, and the outcome is always fascinating.

For your viewing pleasure, therefore, I present nine portraits of famous writers by (mostly) famous painters (and yes, Manet shows up a lot here- dude must have really loved the writers). I’m sure there are many more out there, so tell me about them in the comments! The more the merrier!

2/19/14

Books to Look For (February): Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Humor

Science Fiction

http://edelweiss-assets.abovethetreeline.com/RH/images/jacket_covers/flyout/9780804139021_6602f.jpgThe Martian by Andy Weir (Crown, 384 pages, February 11)

If you follow Book Riot, you're sure to have heard of this novel about an astronaut who becomes stranded on Mars and does everything he can to stay alive and signal for help. It's a survival thriller, but on another planet, and wouldn't it be cool if a Rover made an appearance?!





2/17/14

Rachel's Random Recommendation #22: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/c0/Murder_on_the_Orient_Express_First_Edition_Cover_1934.jpgMurder on the Orient Express (1934) by Agatha Christie

Last year I was suddenly gripped by one of my occasional oh-my-god-I-can't-believe-I-haven't-yet-read-so-and-so-gotta-fix-that-error-NOW attacks- this time, it was Agatha Christie. I know. How was it possible that I hadn't read any of her books yet?

Well, that situation was rectified toute de suite, I can tell you that much. Off I went to my university library and there I procured a lovely old ratty edition of five Christie mysteries all in one volume. Good times, you guys, good times.

Authors Writing Libretti

If it’s mid-winter, then we must be in the thick of opera season- am I right?  Now, I hear some of you saying, “wait, isn’t opera just for diamond-wearing, yacht-buying, mansion-building, nose-in-the-air billionzillionaires?”

Well, to you I say:

opera-kitten



2/13/14

Review: The Girl with a Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson


http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-0eVvZlvJtcI/UtMG7uLKp1I/AAAAAAAAB3E/CbM00CnqeeI/s1600/51WWzKIwBJL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe Girl with a Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson (William Morrow, 2014, 304 pages)


I have to admit, I was first drawn to this book partly because of the cover and partly because of the title. Just one of those times, I suppose, when my aesthetic sense took over and said, "ooooooo pretttttyyyy cover, hope the book is good."

Well, I'm happy to report, this novel was good. Very good, in fact.
By the end, you feel like you started off sitting on a small snowball and rode it down a long hill until you were trapped in the center of a huge, dense snowball that was bigger than a house. And a fun ride it is: a man finds himself face-to-face with a former college girlfriend twenty years after she disappeared and it's all a tangled web of lies, money, and murder after that. And yet, these lies and the stolen money and the multiple bodies don't account for the sense of creeping, dark foreboding that haunts each page. Rather, it's the third-person omniscient narrative voice that makes you want to read TGwaCfaH with one eye on the page and one eye on the door. This voice is at once jaded and hopeful, deadpan and ironic. You trust this voice immediately, only to then recoil in horror at the thought that you just placed your trust in this man without even thinking twice.

2/12/14

Books to Look For (February): History, Comics/Graphic Novels, & Travel

History

http://edelweiss-assets.abovethetreeline.com/INDE/images/jacket_covers/flyout/9780985486310_33aa5.jpg Thomas Jefferson's Enlightenment: Paris 1785 by James C. Thompson (Commonwealth Books, 160 pages, February 18)

Here we have a beautifully-illustrated history of Jefferson's time in Paris- a decadent society INDEED in those days. Through reproductions of period maps, Parisian scenes, and portraits of those men and women who guided Jefferson through the physical and ideological landscapes of that city, Thompson charts the intellectual and moral development of the man who would become the third president of the United States.


2/11/14

From the TBR Shelf #11: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood


http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1294702760l/38447.jpgThe Handmaid's Tale (1985) by Margaret Atwood

For my first Margaret Atwood novel, I chose The Handmaid's Tale of course! Having heard about it for around a million years, I finally snagged a copy and wound up reading through it at top speed cause I needed to know what was going to happen next.....

That, to me, was one of the things Atwood did so well: creating a sense of dread mixed with excitement, fear mixed with defiance, that keeps the reader on the edge of his/her seat. Will Offred convince herself to submit to the military patriarchy that forces her to choose between procreation or death? Or will she capitalize on the tiny hints of insubordination in the people surrounding her, both those with and without power?

2/10/14

Rachel's Random Recommendation #21: On Hitler's Mountain by Irmgard A. Hunt

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On Hitler's Mountain: Overcoming the Legacy of a Nazi Childhood (2005) by Irmgard A. Hunt

I've got to hand it to my mom on this one- she who finds so many amazing WWII histories and memoirs (of which there seems to be an explosion this past decade).

Basically pressing this book into my hands and ordering me to read it, my mom claimed that it was a fascinating glimpse into the life of a German girl under Nazi rule. Unlike the stories of Jews in concentration camps that we had heard and read about for years, this book tells us what life was like for a "regular German family," a family that had no political or religious marks against them in the eyes of the Nazis.

2/6/14

Review: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer


http://reviews.libraryjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/annihilation013014.jpegAnnihilation by Jeff VanderMeer (Farrar, Straus, & Geroux, 2014, 208 pages)


Annihilation is one of those novels that you can't tear yourself away from, even though you KNOW that you'll have nightmares because of it. That's because VanderMeer has constructed a dense psychological narrative that develops against a backdrop of unknown creatures, contamination, murder, and psychological manipulation. The more you read, the more you know that you don't know anything- none of the characters have names, Area X (which they are sent to explore) is a big mystery in itself, and even the narrator herself admits that she doesn't know if anything she's been told about her expedition is true. So basically, you accompany the narrator ("the biologist") into an unknown and increasingly frightening wilderness filled with moaning creatures and living words that grow on walls and ALL you want to do is hold onto something that you DO know (i.e. the narrator). After all, she's supposed to be your guide, your companion, in this area that has been cut off from human civilization and possesses a seemingly lethal secret.

2/5/14

Books to Look For (February): Biography, Literary Fiction, & Mystery

Biography

http://www.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_296w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2014/03/11/Outlook/Images/55970101017820L1394560801.jpgDashiell Hammett: Man of Mystery by Sally Cline (Arcade Publishing, 264 pages, February 4)

This particular biography grabbed my attention because I'm planning a month-long crime-fiction-reading extravaganza (mostly of the hard-boiled variety), in which I'll read Hammett and Chandler, Christie and Highsmith, etc., in an attempt to learn more about this genre.

With just five novels over the course of five years, Hammett radically transformed the genre, bringing crime fiction into the literary realm and creating characters that have remained with us nearly a century later. (And the title of the biography...it's just brilliant).

2/4/14

From the TBR Shelf #10: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri


http://mookseandgripes.com/reviews/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/interpreter-of-maladies.jpgInterpreter of Maladies (1999) by Jhumpa Lahiri

This lovely short-story collection sat on my TBR shelf for YEARS, mixed in with Plato and Anthony Trollope and Theodore Dreiser and...I could go on...

Then what, I hear you ask, made me finally pluck Interpreter off that shelf and read it? I must admit- it was the rave reviews that so many people gave The Lowland. I thought, "wait! I have something Jhumpa Lahiri wrote somewhere around here!" and dutifully rummaged 'round the TBR shelf for the book.

2/3/14

Rachel's Random Recommendation #20: Tesla biography

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f7/Tesla_Man_Out_of_Time.pngTesla: Man Out of Time (1981) by Margaret Cheney

My interest in the history of science and technology (but not the math...noooooo) led me to pick up this biography of the brilliant and eccentric Nikola Tesla several years ago.

Born in the former Yugoslavia, Tesla became one of the most famous inventors working in America in the late-19th- and early-20th centuries. His inventions and experiments were so daring and even visionary, that they call to mind the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci and his sketches for machines that were far ahead of his time.