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Last Book You Read and Rate It (Part II)

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Old
12-19-2012, 07:52 PM
  #426
kihei
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Originally Posted by Epictetus View Post
Can anybody recommend some good existentialist books? I'm more looking into some novels that focus on existential themes, not necessarily the works from the pillars of the philosophy.
The Floating Opera by John Barth
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
The Trial by Franz Kafka
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard
The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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12-19-2012, 09:20 PM
  #427
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Too Big To Fail

Makes me wonder why people like to read fiction when reality is so much more interesting.
I kind of bounce back & forth. In the last couple months I've read Bob Woodward "Price of Politics" which is as far a way from fiction as you can get then I read a couple Palahniuk novels which are very much fiction. Then I read some Hunter S. Thompson & Charles Bukowski which are little of both. I don't see how people can only read one kind with out it becoming stale.

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12-19-2012, 09:32 PM
  #428
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Cannery Row by John Steinbeck; First work of fiction I have read in a long time due to university, and I went through it fairly fast on my train ride back home. The story is a fairly simple story of a gang of carefree bums trying to organize a party for Doc, a beloved biologist, in 1930s Monetary, California. This novel is full of beautiful descriptions and memorable characters from one of the best writers of the twentieth century.

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12-20-2012, 12:32 PM
  #429
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White Noise - Don DeLillo 8/10
An excellent read. A times touching and others hilarious, it looks at how we deal with tragic events and our own mortality. The dialog between the characters is top notch writing; the exchanges between the protagonist and his son were my favourite bits.

Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys 8/10
This is a 'prequel' to Jane Eyre, but you certainly don't need to have read it to enjoy this book. It focuses on a Creole heiress and her new husband (Rochester and his wife) dealing with the emotions they have for each other and how the other people they interact with impact on those emotions.

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12-21-2012, 01:55 AM
  #430
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Jo Nesbo's The Redbreast. I thought it was ok, definitely will reread it again in the future if I ever decided to start from the beginning of the series with The Bat.

Finished up Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself and loved it. I wasn't much of a fantasy reader until one day I was in Chapters and saw a copy of Abercrombie's The Heroes, I held off buying to read up on his other works and decided to start with the First Law Trilogy. Glad I did, and now I'm on the lookout for Before they are Hanged and Argument of Kings, but they are sold out everywhere


Now, back to reading Vince Flynn's American Assassin. Mitch Rapp <3

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12-26-2012, 07:23 PM
  #431
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Ernest Hemingway - A Moveable Feast



Ernest Hemingway's book about living in Paris in the 1920's. I enjoyed this book for the insight on some of the other characters Hemingway was associated with - F. Scott Fitzgerald, for example.

One of Hemingway's most beloved books.

8.7/10

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12-26-2012, 07:25 PM
  #432
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Junot Diaz - This is How you lose her



Junot Diaz's follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize winning, Oscar Wao.

This was also a finalist for the National Book Award, and I've read all of the books so far, except the one that won, but that's next.

This is basically a whole bunch of different stories connected, revolving around Yunior. Funny, and heartbreaking.

8.4/10

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12-26-2012, 07:29 PM
  #433
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Blaine Harden - Escape from Camp 14



Blaine Harden met up with one of the only people to have ever escaped from Camp 14, and after convincing him for a year, Shin, agrees to have his story told in book form.

Not only is this book about an escape from North Korea, it's also a psychological study on this young man, and how North Korea, and their gulags can wreck havoc on ones soul.

A riveting read from start to end. I finished it in a matter of 3-4 hours.

8.2/10

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12-26-2012, 07:33 PM
  #434
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Bill Clegg - A portrait of an addict as a young man



I knew from the title that this wasn't going to be a great book. I only read it because I was home at my parent's, and nothing else seemed at all interesting, so I picked this up.

Basically, a rich literary agent goes on a two month crack binge through New York.

Unlike other memoirs, Clegg doesn't reflect on any of his choices, but instead just tells us what happened, without any rhyme or reason. He's enabled by his boyfriend Noah, and tells the reader how much money he had in his bank account at various times throughout the book. I understand what he was getting at, but it wasn't necessary.

I have to think that if Clegg didn't have the connections he does, this book would have never seen the light of day.

A not so great "addict" memoir, in a genre full of better ones. Stay away.

3.1/10

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12-26-2012, 08:45 PM
  #435
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Until the Night, by Giles Blunt: Algonquin Bay detective John Cardinal investigates a murder that turns out to have more and more complications by the minute and may be related to a decades old tragedy that took place in the Artic. Set in Northern Ontario with a First Nations sleuth and a host of interesting characters and plot twists, the mystery is top notch as is the plotting. There are really two separate stories here--the murder investigation in the here and now and the events that take place in the distant past near the 89th parallel. Blunt is a very dependable writer who never seems to have a lapse in his very high standards. A fun read on a cold winter's night.

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Old
12-27-2012, 10:15 AM
  #436
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stingo View Post
Ernest Hemingway - A Moveable Feast



Ernest Hemingway's book about living in Paris in the 1920's. I enjoyed this book for the insight on some of the other characters Hemingway was associated with - F. Scott Fitzgerald, for example.

One of Hemingway's most beloved books.

8.7/10
This is one of my favorites from Hemmingway. When friends have asked me about Hemmningway, I always recommend this one as a decent starting point. It’s fairly light relative to many of his other works, but gives you a great sense of his style.

I’ve had a bit of a lackluster year on the book front, but have suddenly hit (for the most part) a good run.

Manhunt by Peter Bergen
A well-reported account of the post 9-11 hunt for Bin Laden -- the mistakes and the triumphs, including a fairly detailed account of the operation itself in fairly ruthless detail. Covers both the ground-level work, so to speak, and the higher level political maneuvering that was needed over the years to make every thing happen. Good background on Bin Laden himself as well. Lots of detail, but it unfolds very quickly. Very readable. Not dry in the least.

I thought that was going to be the most un-put-downable book I picked up this year until I encountered:

Agent Zigzag by Ben McIntyre
This one had been on my radar for years, but never got around to it until recently. It’s the true story of Eddie Chapman, a British criminal/dancer recruited to spy and become a saboteur for the Nazis in WWII. Upon parachuting into England for his mission, he promptly turned himself in and offered to become a double agent. It’s been a while since a story entertained me as much as this one did. Chapman is a fascinating character -- liar, thief, womanizer, serial charmer and by all accounts fairly beloved by most of the people he came across on both sides of the lines. His story hops between England, France, Germany, back to England, Norway, etc. and is peppered with a wide array of equally fascinating supporting characters (including cameos from director Terrence Young and Ian Fleming) and side stories (I wasn’t familiar with the Jasper Maskelyne and the “Magic Gang” but would probably read an entire book about them too). Packs lots of surprises. Is just screaming to be made into a movie (Young’s Triple Cross staring Christopher Plummer is a very loose version of Chapman’s tale). If you like spy stories, I can’t recommend it enough. Heck, Chapman is fascinating enough that I think people that aren’t interested in spy tales would still find it entertaining.

Ok, now one negative.

The Passage by Justin Cronin.
I’m not finished with this yet. About 40 percent through, I’d say. I’m listening to this on CD so maybe that feeds into what I’m about to say (I really don’t care for how the reader is reading so I know that is playing part of my issues), but I’m pretty actively hating this book as I go through it. If I were actually reading it, I probably would’ve bailed by now. I picked it up on the recommendation of people I have otherwise trusted. I can’t remember a book that I turned against so quickly. I can’t say I care about a single character. If this were turned into a movie, it feels like the first third of this (9 discs out of 29) would only take about 40 minutes to get through, maybe. Or, to put it another way, it feels like thos 9 discs of content could’ve easily been 3-4 (not sure how that equates to pages). So much unnecessary fat and back story that really feels unneeded, especially since it did very little to make me care for the characters any way. Feels like the worst parts of King’s The Stand and Del Toro/Hogan’s The Strain and pick any other apocalyptic plague movie, book, TV shows. The story (to this part) is hardly original and the writing, which is loaded with so many cliched characters (pedophile janitor, simple-minded probably wrongly accused inmate, mystic African-American woman, ruthless government types, beatific child) and obvious, eye-rolling metaphors, definitely isn’t making up for it.
To those who have read it, does it get better?

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12-27-2012, 10:55 AM
  #437
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Dubliners by James Joyce

Collection of 15 short stories about various lives in early 20th Century Dublin. Hard to give it a review because they're all very different from each other. Some I found horribly boring and pointless, such as The Dead or one where friends try to convert a drunk into Catholicism. Everyone loves to hear people push their religious piety on others, reading it for 11,000 words is even more entertaining!!

But I thoroughly enjoyed Counterparts, a Painful Case and Evelyne.

Can't give it a number score because some stories shouldn't drag down others, and some of the great stories shouldn't make the book a must read when the reader will eventually get into the tiring ones...

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12-27-2012, 05:48 PM
  #438
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Originally Posted by KallioWeHardlyKnewYe View Post
Agent Zigzag by Ben McIntyre
This one had been on my radar for years, but never got around to it until recently. Itís the true story of Eddie Chapman, a British criminal/dancer recruited to spy and become a saboteur for the Nazis in WWII. Upon parachuting into England for his mission, he promptly turned himself in and offered to become a double agent. Itís been a while since a story entertained me as much as this one did. Chapman is a fascinating character -- liar, thief, womanizer, serial charmer and by all accounts fairly beloved by most of the people he came across on both sides of the lines. His story hops between England, France, Germany, back to England, Norway, etc. and is peppered with a wide array of equally fascinating supporting characters (including cameos from director Terrence Young and Ian Fleming) and side stories (I wasnít familiar with the Jasper Maskelyne and the ďMagic GangĒ but would probably read an entire book about them too). Packs lots of surprises. Is just screaming to be made into a movie (Youngís Triple Cross staring Christopher Plummer is a very loose version of Chapmanís tale). If you like spy stories, I canít recommend it enough. Heck, Chapman is fascinating enough that I think people that arenít interested in spy tales would still find it entertaining.

I'm going to check this book out. I looked it up on Amazon after reading about it from you, and it sounds great. I'll order it hopefully within a couple of days. Thanks.


What I'm reading now:

David Foster Wallace - Both Flesh and Not (essays)

Coming up:

Tinker Tailor Solider Spy
Pulphead (essays)
The Round House (National Book Award winner 2012)
The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda And The Road To 9/11
Some Ether (poetry)
Ghost Wars
Billy Lynn's Long Half-time Walk (About 3/4's through, but can't seem to finish it. I can't believe this was a finalist for the National Book Award. Boring.)

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Old
12-28-2012, 03:41 AM
  #439
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Infernal Devices by KW Jeter

My first foray into steampunk, which I found to be quite the treat. Jeter is very good at weaving suspense and intrigue throughout the early parts of the story, and only hinting towards some of the conceptual or theoretical ideas going on in the characters, rather than letting those things dominate. I'm not a sci-fi connoisseur by any stretch, but I thought those elements were well done. The one problem I had with it was that there was so much unexplained that some of the monologues in the third part seemed to be a bit pedantic. Overall, extremely enjoyable and well worth reading. Jeter has written multiple authorized sequels to Blade Runner, and I'm going to get around to reading the original source material for that soon as well.

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12-28-2012, 08:48 AM
  #440
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I'm going to check this book out. I looked it up on Amazon after reading about it from you, and it sounds great. I'll order it hopefully within a couple of days. Thanks.
I hope I didn't oversell it, but it truly was hard for me to put down and step away from. I hope you enjoy it.

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12-28-2012, 09:31 AM
  #441
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The Passage by Justin Cronin.
I’m not finished with this yet. About 40 percent through, I’d say. I’m listening to this on CD so maybe that feeds into what I’m about to say (I really don’t care for how the reader is reading so I know that is playing part of my issues), but I’m pretty actively hating this book as I go through it. If I were actually reading it, I probably would’ve bailed by now. I picked it up on the recommendation of people I have otherwise trusted. I can’t remember a book that I turned against so quickly. I can’t say I care about a single character. If this were turned into a movie, it feels like the first third of this (9 discs out of 29) would only take about 40 minutes to get through, maybe. Or, to put it another way, it feels like thos 9 discs of content could’ve easily been 3-4 (not sure how that equates to pages). So much unnecessary fat and back story that really feels unneeded, especially since it did very little to make me care for the characters any way. Feels like the worst parts of King’s The Stand and Del Toro/Hogan’s The Strain and pick any other apocalyptic plague movie, book, TV shows. The story (to this part) is hardly original and the writing, which is loaded with so many cliched characters (pedophile janitor, simple-minded probably wrongly accused inmate, mystic African-American woman, ruthless government types, beatific child) and obvious, eye-rolling metaphors, definitely isn’t making up for it.
To those who have read it, does it get better?
For me, it wasn't an issue with characters or the writing, but the story itself. It felt like nothing was really happening until the 250 page mark or so. And then it kicks into overdrive. Crap starts hitting the fan big time. The world starts it's death throes! Yes yes yes!! Finally!And then...Blam! The lights go out and we're hurled 100 years into the future. New characters, new environment, new everything. Going all that way just to start over left me frustrated to say the least. I'm going to give this book another try because my friend loved it and I trust her judgement...but, damn.

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12-28-2012, 01:16 PM
  #442
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For me, it wasn't an issue with characters or the writing, but the story itself. It felt like nothing was really happening until the 250 page mark or so. And then it kicks into overdrive. Crap starts hitting the fan big time. The world starts it's death throes! Yes yes yes!! Finally!And then...Blam! The lights go out and we're hurled 100 years into the future. New characters, new environment, new everything. Going all that way just to start over left me frustrated to say the least. I'm going to give this book another try because my friend loved it and I trust her judgement...but, damn.
I'm in the early stages of that 100 year jump. It's better, but not by a whole lot. The further I get into this the more I feel certain that the first 25-30 percent of the book could've been distilled down to a 20-30 page prologue --- government made monsters, monsters got out of control, things went to ****. Fast forward. Other than sheer authorial hubris, I can't for the life of me understand why the author thought the extensive backstories to several ultimately unimportant (one-dimensional and cliched) characters were remotely important to the story. What a time suck.

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12-28-2012, 01:39 PM
  #443
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I hope I didn't oversell it, but it truly was hard for me to put down and step away from. I hope you enjoy it.
I read Operation Mincemeat by him and thought it was good but not out of this world. Maybe the guy at the book store oversold it too much, I'll have to try Zigzag next.

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12-28-2012, 02:05 PM
  #444
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I'm in the early stages of that 100 year jump. It's better, but not by a whole lot. The further I get into this the more I feel certain that the first 25-30 percent of the book could've been distilled down to a 20-30 page prologue --- government made monsters, monsters got out of control, things went to ****. Fast forward. Other than sheer authorial hubris, I can't for the life of me understand why the author thought the extensive backstories to several ultimately unimportant (one-dimensional and cliched) characters were remotely important to the story. What a time suck.
Either that or cut out the 100 year jump and make it a straight death-of-society collapse story like King/Del Torro/McCammon etc.

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12-30-2012, 09:05 PM
  #445
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Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall: 8/10

The book itself is wonderfully conceived. A brilliant idea with questions surrounding every chapter. Beautiful execution and a lot of ambition. I always enjoy books that employ some ergodic styles. Definitely a recommended read. Hall has a unique way of writing descriptives and does a really good job of being a story-teller as well as a writer.
My only complaint is the finale of the book should have been told in longer detail and expanded upon a bit more. It took such a wondrous journey to get to this point and I felt like the resolution was too quick and not fleshed out enough to be satisfying.

Madeleine is Sleeping by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum 6.5/10
This book is strange. Written in short one page excerpts that blurs the line of what is real and what is a dream. Whether or not anything is real remains to be seen. It becomes too intangible at times to grasp and in it's effort to follow the dreamy conceptualization of the book it loses focus of the actual plot. What saves this book is the beautifully composed descriptions and imagery that Bynum uses. It's worth the read for some of the imagery alone.

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12-30-2012, 11:57 PM
  #446
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Travels, by Paul Bowles: A collection of travel writings by my favourite US writer, the author of The Sheltering Sky. The articles include pieces written over nearly half a century with the focus primarily on North Africa. About three quarters of the articles deal with Morroco in general and Tangier in particular, a place that the ex-pat American clearly loves above all others despite the massive changes it underwent during his life time. He devoted his entire adult life to travel and writing, and he seems to have gone everywhere. Refreshingly, he had a life-long fascination and respect for other cultures, and a novelist's sense of how to go about choosing critical details. His comments about the conflict between the West and Islam are decades ahead of their time and still very applicable to how the world is unfolding at pleasant. His forays into Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Thailand and his musings about parrots as pets are some of the most memorable pieces in the collection. Throughout these varied places and times, Bowles seems an interesting lone wolf figure with the world as his oyster. Much of his fiction deals with Americans way over their heads in cultures that they don't understand, and with this collection, it is easy to see how narrowly he avoided some of the dilemmas that befell his fictional characters. He also makes clear just how serious the gulf of understanding can be between two distinctly different cultures. His humour and sophistication seem perfectly natural, no hint of affectation about him at all. He ends with a brilliantly brief nine-page autobiography that is a tour de force in its own understated, economic way. How many public figures, let alone writers, could lay out their lives in so short a space and make the writing seem like a minor work of art?

Book #59 for the year, so, for once, I managed to keep a New Year's resolution to read a book a week in 2012.


Last edited by kihei: 12-31-2012 at 02:38 AM.
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01-04-2013, 03:26 PM
  #447
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Have only started one of the two but just wanted to show what I've been reading.



Crime Machine
by Giles Blunt

Have already read "Fourty words for Sorrow" and "Blackfly Season" which are other books in the series. I don't read that often but Blunt has re-ignited my interest. The fact that the Algonquin area is close to home, makes it very easy to visualize.



419
by Will Ferguson

Haven't dove into this one yet. Got is as an xmas gift.

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Until the Night, by Giles Blunt: Algonquin Bay detective John Cardinal investigates a murder that turns out to have more and more complications by the minute and may be related to a decades old tragedy that took place in the Artic. Set in Northern Ontario with a First Nations sleuth and a host of interesting characters and plot twists, the mystery is top notch as is the plotting. There are really two separate stories here--the murder investigation in the here and now and the events that take place in the distant past near the 89th parallel. Blunt is a very dependable writer who never seems to have a lapse in his very high standards. A fun read on a cold winter's night.
Is this brand new? I haven't seen it in stores.

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01-04-2013, 08:41 PM
  #448
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Nick Flynn - Some Ether



Been holed up in my place ridden with the flu, so I've had some time to do some reading. In the last few days I've finished off a book I've been slowly reading for the past couple months, and started, and finished a couple of others. I'll start with Nick Flynn's Some Ether. It's a book of poems by the author who is better known for, Another BS night in Suck City.

These poems deal with the tragedy of his mother's suicide, and his father being homeless. Only a few of the poems struck a chord with me, the rest I was bored by, or couldn't find any connection to, whatsoever.

I also don't find Nick Flynn that great of a poet, either. Maybe someone who could relate to the subject matter would get more out of it, but even then, there are better poets out there dealing with some of the same subject matter - Matthew and Michael Dickman are two of them.

Avoid this.

2.9/10

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01-04-2013, 08:49 PM
  #449
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Ben Fountain - Billy Lynn's Long Half-Time Walk



Ben Fountain was a guy I was made familiar with a few years ago after reading one of his short stories in the literary magazine, The Paris Review. I enjoyed his story, so when I found out his book had been nominated for the National Book Award I was quick to pick it up.

Billy Lynn is a member of the Bravo Squad who were caught on film in a dangerous shootout with Iraqi insurgents all caught by Fox News. We pick up the story as they near the end of 'The Victory Tour', for two weeks the surviving Bravos have been carted around America being shown off to the public and media in a fever of patriotic self pleasuring. They are now at the Dallas Cowboys football game and are undergoing a whole series of hoop jumping that at least is inconsiderate and at worst is humiliating. Billy is only nineteen and has missed out on a lot of what life has to offer including the opposite sex. His guiding hand in Bravo was 'Shroom' who was killed during their fire fight. Whilst the others act as an adequate support network especially so Sergeant Dime, Billy still has to do a lot of soul searching without the education to properly add up all of the options. He also gets to meet the Cheerleaders.

We also have a sub plot of Albert, the Oscar winning film maker who wants to make the defining film of the Iraq war; that being their story. He is constantly trying to get Hilary S**** involved as well as do the Hollywood schmooze deals that are always just about to come off. As the clock ticks down to Bravo having to return to the front line all the issues start to come to a head.

To be honest, it took me awhile to finish this book. It's not an easy read, and at times I wondered where it was all going. What was the point? But the last hundred pages it all comes together quite well, and made sense, along with making one think. And that is what good literature is supposed to do.

8.4/10


Note: There's some reviewers out there stating that this book is the "Catch-22" of the Iraq War. It's not. It's a good book, but it is nowhere near as powerful, or poetic as Catch-22.

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01-04-2013, 11:35 PM
  #450
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The Devotion of Suspect X, by Keigo Higoshino: A brilliant maths teacher helps a woman under duress cover up a crime that she has committed. However, he must match wits not only with a smart police inspector but a former friend of his who is as much of a genius as he is. This is a mystery that plays like an intricate chess match. Some of the moves are spectacularly cunning, and the stakes are high throughout. The writing is of the no frills variety, but that only helps to keep the plot really moving. The ending may be a little too clever for its own good, but it was a fun ride getting there. No masterpiece, but an entertaining read.

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