Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Library Loot

Hosted alternately by Eva at A Stripped Armchair this week and next week by Marge at Reading Adventures.

Books completed this week:

17.The Practice of Perfection****+ by Mary Frances Coady Canada 2009 (213 pages)

Connected short stories which take place inside a convent. Each story chapter involved some of the known characters so the story felt as complete as a novel. I love stories about nuns and this one was very enjoyable. I featured this book in what I call my Copycat Covers post here and the publisher left me a comment explaining a little about the difficulties of finding books covers. It is a beautiful cover and they were right in saying that this is the perfect cover for this book. I don't think they were pleased with the negative connotation of the term "copycat" though. I may have to come up with a new name. I thought the least I could do to make up was read the book and I'm glad that I did. They are a small press with a very good reputation and I will definitely look at their catalogue for more good reading. I highly recommend The Practice of Perfection.

18.The Piano Teacher***** by Janice Y. K. Lee Hong Kong (328 pages)

Recommended to me by Kaye from Pudgy Penguin Perusals. Although we generally read different books she has a good sense of what I might like and this is not the first time that her recommendation has been spot on. A fascinating story set in Hong Kong, it happens both in the fifties and goes back to the war and the Japanese prison camps that all the non Chinese were confined to during that period. People make compromises to survive, those with long memories sometimes hold grudges, and others want to just forget the whole experience. There's a mix of very interesting of well developed characters that keep you reading. I loved it. Highly recommended.

19.Orlando**** by Virginia Woolf UK 1928 (232 pages)

This was part of the Woolf in Winter reading group. I reviewed Mrs. Dalloway (sort of) but I pooped out on To the Lighthouse. But Orlando was very enjoyable for me. Very easy to read and a remarkably original story of a female character who eventually becomes male and their living through three centuries. It isn't as odd as it sounds. The restrictions on females in clothing, social limitations, and activites are slowly peeled away. The new male person enjoys his boots, and not being trussed up in tight clothing, sitting how he wants, socializing with whoever wants etc. It's a very original way of showing the freedoms that men enjoy that woman do not. It's very interesting how Woolf does this and entirely believable. The history of the times (1700's to 1928) is very interesting too. I recommend it as an easy way to get into Woolf's fiction.

20.Dead Man's Share***** by Yasmina Khadra 2004 (341 pages)

Detective crime novels just don't get any better than this for me. Set in Algeria and featuring an externally crusty but actually quite a softy, Detective Brahim Llob, who goes to very dangerous lengths to save his partner from prison. He's sure he's innocent and knows that he is being tortured in prison. Khadra puts so much of Algeria's history into his story, it's integral to the plot, that I was fascinated as well as entertained. He's such a good writer, he managed to make the story heart breaking for me. I have read The Attack and The Swallows of Kabul, an all-time favourite, and I can't get enough of this man's work. The female name comes from the fact that he was a high ranking officer in the Algerian army and had to use a pseudonym to avoid exposure. He tells the truth about his country's history, corruption, mistreatment of women etc. in all of his books. He fled to France in 2000 and continues to write.

Currently Reading:

The Land of Green Plums by Herta Müller
The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff

The I feel like an idiot stack: (had to be returned before they got read)

Bethlehem Murders by Matt Rees (an
Omar Yussef mystery set in Palestine)
Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barbery-The Elegance of the Hedgehog****

The it don't rain but it pours stack:

The Sand Fish: a novel from Dubai by Maha Gargash
Sunflowers by Sheramy D. Bundrick (Van Gogh)

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
The Rug Merchant by Meg Mullins
The Return by Victoria Hislop-The Island**** (leprosy history)

Lark and Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips
(Korean War)
The Love We Share Without Knowing by Christopher Barzak

The Comedians by Graham Greene- (Haiti),The End of the Affair*****,The Human Factor*****

In The Wet by Nevil Shute-A Town Like Alice****

Last Orders by Graham Swift-The Sweetshop Owner****

Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada

Field Guide by Gwendoly Gross

The don't hold your breath stack: (books I have requested my library to purchase in 2010)

The Land of Green Plums by Herta Müller-The Appointment****

A Fable by William Faulkner-won both Pulitzer and National Book Award in 1955

Right to Die by Hazel McHaffie

Howards End is On the Landing by Susan Hill-wrote sequel to Rebecca

The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson
Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy by Rumer Godden-wrote In This House of Brede

The Lessons by Naomi Alderman-won Orange Prize for first fiction Disobedience*****

Morituri by Yasmina Khadra-mystery set in Algeria, wrote The Swallows of Kabul*****, The Attack****+ et. al.

The happy stack: (they bought my sob stories, and the book)

Right to Die by Hazel McHaffie

The Land of Green Plums by Herta Müller-I wanted to read this as the IMPAC Dublin Award Winner 1998. The library didn't have it and saw no need to. After she was awarded the Nobel Prize in November 2009 they purchased it. Go figure.

Which have you read and what did you think? Leave me links if you've reviewed them. Which would you like to read?


  1. I'm so glad you liked The Piano Teacher - it's been on my wish list for a while.

  2. Sandra, I also enjoyed The Piano Teacher --isn't the library awesome? I really need to stay away, but I find it impossible to do so.

  3. I read Nymeth's review of Orlando and I have to read that one soon! I am glad you liked it too!

  4. Wow, that's a lot of books! I read The Swallows of Kubul several years and liked it. I'm going to have look up Dead Man's Share, thanks for mentioning it!

  5. I'm so glad you loved the Piano Teacher. It was a wonderful debut novel and I hope we see more from Ms.Lee. Enjoy all your "loot". Have a great week, Sandra.

  6. I can only tell my library to buy 4 books a month, lol.

    The Practice of Perfection is totally on my TBR list now! It sounds fascinating. :D

  7. Those are quite the lists! lol. I have The Piano Teacher to read one of these days. The cover on The Practice of Perfection is just gorgeous.

  8. I love the names you gave your different lists!! I'm glad that the library ordered the books that you asked them too!!! The ones that you finished sound so great. I am always in awe over the variety of books you read!!

  9. I loved Orlando. :-) I have The Piano Teacher in the TBR pile and the cover for that first book looks just like my copy of The Secret Scripture. Love reading about your reading! :-)

  10. *Eva: I'm privileged to have three (four actually, until my 100 year father in law died a couple months ago) serious readers in the house-all with their own library cards. I'm constantly telling the guys which book 'they' ordered on their cards. I do it all on the computer, and we have no limit. But the library rule is that they will not buy books published more than two years ago. Those are the ones I especially have to do a real song and dance for. They are notorious for refusals so it's a big deal when they do purchase one.
    *Marie: The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry is the one whose cover I compare The Practice of Perfection to. I really liked Barry's book a lot.
    *Everyone: Thanks for your comments, I appreciate them very much. I'm confined at home and this is often my only dialogue.

  11. I loved the Piano Teacher also. I just finished listening to the audiobook (which I got from the library!)and enjoyed every minute of it. It really made doing the dishes and laundry fun.

  12. I really liked The Piano Teacher when I read it last year!

    Hope you enjoy your loot.

  13. I'm adding "Dead Man's Share" and "The Piano Teacher" to my TBR list. Thanks for the recommendation. The only book I've read from your lists (what diversity!!) is The Rug Merchant and you've already read my review. I do want to read "Cutting for Stone." Look forward to your review.



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