Beloved fantasy novelist, Terry Pratchett passed away on March 15th this year and to pay a tribute to his life and his works, we have each decided to read and review one of his works. I’ll start it off with a review of Nation and next week Jen will share her review of The Colour of Magic, the first in the Discworld series. We hope you join us in sharing your thoughts about some of your favorite Pratchett books.
We will be giving away one kindle copy of either The Colour of Magic, Mort, or Guards, Guards — you chose which one you want. Why these books? Although not in order of publication, they represent the first books in three story lines within the Discworld series (Rincewind novels, Death novels, and Watch novels).
How do you win? Simply share your thoughts about Terry Pratchett and his books in the comment section by April 1st and we will randomly select one person to win the copy. If you’ve never read any of his books, you can just comment on why you’d like to read one of his books.
Alamut by Vladimir Bartol
First Published in: 1936
Reviewed by: Book Worm & Jen
Find/Buy it here:Alamut
Synopsis from Amazon: Alamut takes place in 11th Century Persia, in the fortress of Alamut, where self-proclaimed prophet Hasan ibn Sabbah is setting up his mad but brilliant plan to rule the region with a handful elite fighters who are to become his “living daggers.” By creating a virtual paradise at Alamut, filled with beautiful women, lush gardens, wine and hashish, Sabbah is able to convince his young fighters that they can reach paradise if they follow his commands. With parallels to Osama bin Laden, Alamut tells the story of how Sabbah was able to instill fear into the ruling class by creating a small army of devotees who were willing to kill, and be killed, in order to achieve paradise. Believing in the supreme Ismaili motto “Nothing is true, everything is permitted,” Sabbah wanted to “experiment” with how far he could manipulate religious devotion for his own political gain through appealing to what he called the stupidity and gullibility of people and their passion for pleasure and selfish desires.
The novel focuses on Sabbah as he unveils his plan to his inner circle, and on two of his young followers — the beautiful slave girl Halima, who has come to Alamut to join Sabbah’s paradise on earth, and young ibn Tahir, Sabbah’s most gifted fighter. As both Halima and ibn Tahir become disillusioned with Sabbah’s vision, their lives take unexpected turns.
Alamut was originally written in 1938 as an allegory to Mussolini’s fascist state. In the 1960’s it became a cult favorite throughout Tito’s Yugoslavia, and in the 1990s, during the Balkan’s War, it was read as an allegory of the region’s strife and became a bestseller in Germany, France and Spain. Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, the book once again took on a new life, selling more than 20,000 copies in a new Slovenian edition, and being translated around the world in more than 19 languages. This edition, translated by Michael Biggins, in the first-ever English translation
Her Privates We by Frederic Manning
First published: 1930 (published as The Middle Part of Fortune in 1929).
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by: Jen
Find it/Buy it here: Her Privates We
Her Privates We refers to the common soldiers who fought during World War I. The novel is the fictionalized account of the author’s own experiences as a soldier. It is a extraordinary account of the lives of foot soldiers that is told with the elegance and emotionally-evocative brilliance that only the best authors can achieve.
The GoldFinch by Donna Tart
Format: Audio narrated by David Pittu (32 hours & 9 minutes)
Award: Pulitzer prize for fiction, 2014
Reviewed by: Jen
Rating: 3.5 stars
Find it/Buy it here: The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)
The Goldfinch is a monster of a book at close to 800 pages. It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2014 and received rave reviews from many of my friends. So, it was probably about time that I finally read it. The story begins with 13 year-old Theodore Decker, a tragedy and a small painting by Fabritius. The book took 11 years to write and is an ambitious coming-of-age tale that delves into the world of art and antiques and spans 14 years in the life of its protagonist. For those who aren’t familiar with the plot, I’ll refrain from saying too much more because part of the “fun” of this book is the journey and uncovering the twists and turns for yourself.
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Published in: October 2013
Awards: 2013 Man Booker Prize winner
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: 4 stars
Find/Buy it here:The Luminaries: A Novel (Man Booker Prize)
Synopsis (from Amazon): It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky. The Luminaries is an extraordinary piece of fiction. It is full of narrative, linguistic and psychological pleasures, and has a fiendishly clever and original structuring device. Written in pitch-perfect historical register, richly evoking a mid-19th century world of shipping and banking and goldrush boom and bust, it is also a ghost story, and a gripping mystery. It is a thrilling achievement and will confirm for critics and readers that Catton is one of the brightest stars in the international writing firmament.
Welcome to our newest reading challenge! Are you like us with a TBR shelf that just keeps growing? Time to clean up that TBR. And what better motivation to clean up that shelf, than cool prizes?
In order to participate you must have either a goodreads or shelfari account & you must be willing to give us access to your shelf (send us your GR profile link or shelfari shelf link).
This challenge will start March 20th (first official day of spring) and will end June 21st (first day of summer).
Spring Cleaning Challenge
Welcome to our first Book-Wine Pairing! This recurring post combines two of my favorite things. If only I could find a way to add coffee and chocolate, my life would be complete. This month I will be starting off with a relatively easy pairing: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.
Thanks to Needham Center Fine Wines for helping me pick out two wines to match with the book. I love wine, and I know what I like, but I’m a far cry from a wine expert. So, I needed a little extra help in making a selection. They have a great selection of wonderful wines, great customer service, and you can order online. So, Massachusetts friends, if you like the pairing this month and want to try it out, throw some business their way!
The Book: Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day by Winifred Watson
First Published: 1935
Find it/Buy it here:Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (Persephone Classics)
Thanks to all for participating in our book blind date challenge! We had a lot of fun organizing this challenge and we are happy that so many of you decided to join us. Keep reading to find out who won our prizes, the book titles of those poor dates that weren’t selected, and the compilation of all your reviews.
David Mitchell is a British author who was listed as one of the most influential people in world by Time Magazine in 2007. He was born in 1969 in Southport in Merseyside, England, and was raised in a middle-class family. He has a master’s degree in comparative literature. In his 20’s he fell in love with a Japanese woman and moved to Hiroshima where he lived for many years teaching English to technical students. He currently lives in Ireland with his wife and two children. Mitchell has talked openly about his son’s autism, and he and his wife, Keiko Yoshida, recently translated into English a memoir about autism titled, The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism. To hear him talk about this book on The Daily Show, click here.
Wild Harbour by Ian MacPherson
Published in: 1936
Reviewed by Jen
Rating: 4 stars
Find/Buy it here: Wild Harbour (Canongate Classics)
When news of war comes to Scotland, Terry and Hugh, a married couple, decide to abandon their home and society in order to avoid the war and its consequences. They set up camp in a cave in an isolated area around Loch Ericht in the highlands of Scotland. Wild Harbour has the feel of a post-apocalyptic novel (isolation, struggle to survive, and conflict with other men who are struggling to survive off limited resources). It is a survival story that explores the bonds of human relationships. Set in the 1940s, but published in 1936 before World War II (thus, MacPherson predicts the war), it is told as a series of journal entries written by the husband, Hugh.