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Search tags: 2018-mount-tbr
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text 2018-09-08 23:35
Halloween Bingo - Fear the Drowning Deep
Fatal Passage - Ken McGoogan

From the book's description:


The true story of the remarkable John Rae - Arctic traveller and Hudson's Bay Company doctor - FATAL PASSAGE is a tale of imperial ambition and high adventure. In 1854 Rae solved the two great Arctic mysteries: the fate of the doomed Franklin expedition and the location of the last navigable link in the Northwest Passage.

But Rae was to be denied the recognition he so richly deserved. On returning to London, he faced a campaign of denial and vilification led by two of the most powerful people in Victorian England: Lady Jane Franklin, the widow of the lost Sir John, and Charles Dickens, the most influential writer of the age. 


Fatal Passage will be my nomination for the Fear the Drowning Deep square.

I have some travel coming up next week and needed a non-fiction book to read on the trip. For some reason, I prefer non-fiction when travelling.



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review 2018-09-05 20:49
The Expendable Man
The Expendable Man - Dorothy Hughes

Venner departed with the hate still ugly in his eyes, with more hate for an innocent Hugh than for a guilty. The Venners would not be changed in their generation.

I'm not going to provide many plot details for this book as I found it hugely beneficial to know next to nothing about this book. 

Every reveal, every additional detail that Hughes affords the reader changed the context of the story and how I read this. She did this masterfully. 


It is very much a story of telling you the facts, then changing one little thing, and suddenly the same facts appear different, more complex, more ... prone to consequence. 


Suddenly we get to understand why Hugh, our MC, is eager to keep his head down, does not want to engage, does not want to stand up for himself. It's because he can't. The Expendable Man tells a story of oppression (in more ways than one as we learn throughout the story) taking place in broad daylight. 


I was angry for Hugh, for his helplessness. And, yet, there are glimpses of hope in this book, too. These glimpses might just be individual characters but they were there and if we have learned anything it is that it only takes a few good people to inspire others.

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text 2018-09-03 23:52
Halloween Bingo - Amateur Sleuth
The Expendable Man - Dorothy Hughes

I'm just under half-way in this extraordinary novel and have finally been able to figure out which Bingo square this will work for.


I am allocating this one to Amateur Sleuth. It would also work for the Suspense square.


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text 2018-09-01 23:58
The 2018 Mt. TBR Project - End of August Update

With August behind us, I have lots of updates one the Mt. TBR Project. With Halloween Bingo looming, I had dedicated the month of August to reading exclusively (as far as possible) from the physical Mt. TBR. And this worked a treat.


I have also made some executive decisions: Mythos (Fry) and Words are My Matter (Le Guin) will be amnestied from the TBR pile. I'm not going to start Mythos until the Holmes buddy read (we use the audiobook narrated by Stephen Fry) is finished which will not be before the end of the year. So, no point in keeping Mythos on the pile that is to be read in 2018. Similarly, the Le Guin collection is a book I know I will love and keep. It can live in its forever-spot on my shelf right away.


And because I read a couple of books from my physical shelves that aren't part of the Mt. TBR Project, I get to swap them for two books that are - which is an option I will keep until December.


Let's get to the  shrinkage without any further delay:


End of August Mt. TBR: 


End of July Mt. TBR: 


End of June Mt. TBR:


End of May Mt. TBR:


End of April Mt. TBR: 


End of March Mt. TBR:


End of February Mt. TBR:


End of January Mt. TBR:


Start of the Year Mt. TBR:


The Stats:


Books read this month: 23

Mt. TBR Books read this month: 19 (2 DNFs)


Women / Men / Team*: 54% / 44% / 2%

Fiction / Non-fiction*: 73% / 28%

% of original Mt. TBR read: 97%

% of live Mt. TBR read**: 80% 


Available swaps (not made yet): 2


(* - of all books read since 01 January 2018)

(** - live Mt. TBR includes new purchases added throughout the year)  


Link to the original Mt. TBR (2018) post.

Link to the original Mt TBR (2018) Reading List.


Rules - same as previously - are that I picked a stack of physical books off my shelves at home which I would try to read over the course of the year. Any new purchases are added to the pile. If I pick another physical book of my shelves, I get to take one off the pile and put it on the shelf - as a substitute.

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review 2018-08-21 16:22
Imperial Woman
Imperial Woman - Pearl S. Buck

My friend sent me this book without warning. She thought I might like it, and she was right. 


Imperial Woman was a fascinating story of the Chinese Dowager Empress Cixi, or Tsu-Hsi as she's called in the book. Cixi joins the court of the Emperor as a concubine and manages to become the main influence over the Emperor, and eventually Empress - by means that are sometimes ruthless, sometimes kind, but always with the goal in sight of extrapolating herself from a position of servitude. 


Buck's portrayal of Cixi was fascinating. It cannot have been easy to create even a fictional character in such a lifelike fashion when the characters life depended on her keeping her thoughts and feelings to herself, and whose legend is blurred by rumours and superstitions that were rife during her reign, and where a breach of confidentiality or a breach of loyalty may well have carried a death sentence.


I had some issues with the book after the first half, where the story dragged a little and where I got a bit lost in trying to figure out how and why Buck wanted to force a love story into a plot that was already filled with political intrigue, suspense, historical events, and fascinating tidbits about life at the Chinese court during the late Qing dynasty. It just didn't need a love story that may or may not be based on historical fact. To me this just distracted from Cixi's mission to restore China as a respected, economically autonomous country, free from the colonial grip of the 8 Nation Alliance.


This historical setting, the discussion of China's struggle against the powers that tried to claim China as their own, was what made the book stand out for me.

Buck challenged the notions of colonialism from an unusual perspective. She does not paint China, or the Chinese court in any case, through a romanticised view by any stretch - there were plenty of descriptions that made me wince - but I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story from a point of view that does not presume the respectability and civility of the Western European governments as part of the story. The issues of colonialism were fascinating in this book. The only other aspect that eclipsed this for me was Buck's portrayal of a woman in a man's world, trying to save a bankrupt empire from disaster. Even though some of the historical events are given in general terms rather than details, this was an informative, entertaining, and though-provoking work of historical fiction. 

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