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text 2017-07-06 11:26
6th July 2017
Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel

It is the absence of facts that frightens people: the gap you open, into which they pour their fears, fantasies, desires. 


Hilary Mantel


Happy 65th birthday, Hilary Mantel. The author of Wolf Hall and Bringing Up the Bodies, two books in a trilogy based on the life of Thomas Cromwell, announced upon winning the Man Booker that she would be using the prize money on "sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll."

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review 2016-08-11 15:44
Bring Up the Bodies - Hilary Mantel
Bring Up the Bodies - Hilary Mantel

It's not the future dystopia of The Hunger Games, but it's not far off. Henry VIII requires an heir, and he must be rid of Ann Boleyn, and this is where it all starts going horribly wrong. Because the reader already knows how the story turns out there is a constant and oppressive suspense as one reads over all the details, and the details are rich. It doesn't feel like an historical novel, it feels like history, with all the bits thrown in that make it fun: the clothes, the plotting, the king losing touch with reality.

Maybe, because it's such a grim story, it shouldn't be so much fun to read. But it is.

Library copy

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review 2016-08-11 00:00
Wolf Hall
Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel I made it just over 100 pages in and I'm calling it. I didn't come to this book knowing anything about the players in it and it seems like there are just so many of them. Mantel drops us in without much explaining, which probably allows her to do some really cool things with her story, but it left me, who has never studied Henry VIII in any detail, feeling lost and disoriented. Her writing style doesn't help, either; it's not bad, but it's not engaging, eloquent, convincing, clever, mysterious/creepy, beautiful, or anything else I tend to like in writing styles; and in fact it seemed to me at times needlessly confusing. Add in the fact that I usually dislike Booker prizewinners, and I decided that this book wasn't doing much for me and would probably continue that way. I wanted to like it, and there were a few times where I felt interested, but she wasn't able to keep it up. As it is, I am still curious about the book because there is so much buzz and I do think it's a fascinating story to tell, but at the moment I think I'd be better served by reading the history, watching some movies/series, and maybe coming back to it after, if the curiosity lingers.
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text 2016-01-02 22:25
2015: The Year in Review
Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell, #1) - Hilary Mantel
Bring Up the Bodies - Hilary Mantel
The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt
The Martian - Andy Weir

According to my 2015 "Reading Challenge" log, I read 79 books in 2015 (excluding re-reads) - quite an exceptional year for me. I aim for a book a week and usually end up around 60 or so.


Why not an even 80? Because my travel plans got changed at the last minute, so instead of reading on an airplane on New Year's Eve, I got to spend another day with my "second family," and my reading time was shortened considerably for the very best of reasons.


It was a varied year - plays, poetry, lit crit, non-fiction, biographies, novels, and more. Could I pick one stand-out book? I could not. I have raved about many of these titles at various times to particular people. 


Here, I'll say that perhaps I loved best the "big novels," Hilary Mantel's Cromwell Books, Donna Tartt's "The Goldfinch," and Andy Weir's "The Martian." LOVED LOVED LOVED all four. 


What's coming up in 2015? I haven't posted much lately, but I have some ideas in the queue, so look for several "Notes on Adaptation" posts soon. A summer reading list will come in May. Until then, some serendipity will come into play. Stay tuned, and read along. 



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text 2015-12-27 13:20
2015 Reading Recap, Part 2: The Self-Interview
The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
The Luminaries - Eleanor Catton
The Small Fortune of Dorothea Q - Sharon Maas
Shire - Sarah Wood,Ali Smith
The Sticklepath Strangler - Michael Jecks
Burmese Days - George Orwell
The Skeleton Road - Val McDermid
Hogfather (Discworld, #20) - Terry Pratchett
Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (Poirot) - Agatha Christie
A Place of Greater Safety - Hilary Mantel

Olga Godim came up with this creative way of summing up her reading year and challenged everyone to do their own.  Well, while I'm back here ... I'm in!


Olga writes: "Creatively, I decided to interview myself about my reading in 2015. The answers could only be book titles I read during the year. In the year 2015, what was your..."


Most Memorable Encounter

The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien)


An old and treasured acquaintance, who still easily managed to outshine any and every other bookish encounter of the year.  Thanks again to Troy for making me seek him out again!


Best Vacation Spot

The Luminaries (Eleanor Catton)

New Zealand!


Most Exciting Adventure

Tie: The Secret Life of Winnie Cox and The Small Fortune of Dorothea Q (both by Sharon Maas)


Favorite Place

Shire (Ali Smith)


Least Favorite Place

Cloud Howe (Lewis Grassic Gibbon)


Worst Person You Met

Tie: Joseph Fouché (Stefan Zweig -- biography) and The Sticklepath Strangler (Michael Jecks, Knights Templar series)


Most Embarrassing Memory

Fifty Sheds of Grey  (C.T. Grey)


Worst Weather of the Year

Tie between the two extremes: Burmese Days (George Orwell) and Grey Granite (Lewis Grassic Gibbon)


Scariest Event

The Skeleton Road  (Val McDermid)


Funniest Moment

Hogfather (Terry Pratchett, Discworld)


Saddest Moment

Tie: Post Mortem  (Kate London) and The Gods of Guilt (Michael Connelly, The Lincoln Lawyer series)


Worst Food You Ate

The Five Orange Pips (Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes)


Best Food You Ate

The Christmas Pudding (Agatha Christie, Hercule Poirot)


... and a few additions of my own:


The Understatement of the Year

A Place of Greater Safety (Hilary Mantel)

The French Revolution, from Robespierre's, Danton's and Desmoulins's point of view.


Most Precious Acquisition

The Blue Carbuncle (Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes)


Favorite Garment

The Chinese Shawl (Patricia Wentworth, Miss Silver series)


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