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url 2018-09-21 08:52
The Man Booker Prize announces 2018 shortlist
The Mars Room - Rachel Kushner
The Overstory - Richard Powers
Milkman - Anna Burns
Washington Black: Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018: Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018 - Esi Edugyan
Everything Under - Daisy Johnson
The Long Take - Robin Robertson

The List is out. Booked added. 

Author (country/territory)    Title (imprint)

Anna Burns (UK)                Milkman (Faber & Faber)

Esi Edugyan (Canada)       Washington Black (Serpent’s Tail)

Daisy Johnson (UK)           Everything Under (Jonathan Cape)

Rachel Kushner (USA)      The Mars Room (Jonathan Cape)

Richard Powers (USA)      The Overstory (William Heinemann)

Robin Robertson (UK)       The Long Take (Picador)

 

 

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review 2018-09-10 04:12
Before Mars by Emma Newman
Before Mars - Emma Newman

Series: Planetfall #3

 

This is the third book in the loosely connected series that started off with Planetfall. Here Anna Kubrin, an artist and geologist sent to Mars, discovers a series of unsettling incongruities that makes her think that either there's some sort of conspiracy going on or she's losing her mind. Things like a foot print found where supposedly no one's ever been, things packed strangely, and a fake wedding ring. It also starts to seem like the base AI is doctoring data.

 

This book was pretty intense, and I quite enjoyed it, although I guess I'm a little disappointed that all the clues were so well laid out that I could more or less guess what had happened (my original theory was mostly right).

 

I'm definitely looking forward to the fourth book, which looks to ratchet things up yet another notch. Oh, and another cool aspect of the book is how Newman explored post partum depression and a non-stereotypical mother who struggles with motherhood.

 

I'm counting this for the "New Release" square for Halloween Bingo because it was release in April 2018.

 

 

Previous updates:

53 %

6 %

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review 2018-09-09 00:55
Review: The Mars Room
The Mars Room - Rachel Kushner

At the time Rachel Kushner's second novel, The Flamethrowers, was released, I was very much interested in the story. Before it had even hit shelves, I was enticed by the cover and the promise of a thrilling tale within. Well, curse the infinite to-read list. While I've held the best intentions of reading Kushner's work all this time, it took a Man Booker Prize nomination to finally make the commitment, a commitment to read her following novel, The Mars Room.

The Mars Room is the story of Romy Hall and her fellow prisoners at Stanville Women's Correctional Facility. Though I have nothing more than a reader's perspective of what prison might be like, Kushner's story carries significant believability. This is a prison novel that seems wrapped in precision and one might assume, with the flood of details from both inside and outside of the prison walls, that the author has done her research. An article published in The New Yorker points to this attention to detail (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/20...). According to the article, this precision is indicative of her work. In each of her three novels, Kushner has immersed herself in the details of the story. For The Mars Room, Kushner began visiting prisons in 2014 and has utilized the help of consultants who've given her information that only an insider could possess, stories that are rendered in the novel with little alteration.

Some may argue that The Mars Room isn't strictly a prison novel as much of the action happens outside of the prison gates, but I get the impression that Kushner is painting the outside as a sort of prison, as well. Outside, there are a set of rules that restrict one from pursuing true freedom. Many of these characters were set on a path, some at birth, some because of something completely outside of their control, that had only one outcome. It's possible to get a sense that Kushner was hoping to establish a connection between the American prison system and the “Great American Dream.”

Outside of the vivid detail, what's most impressive are the characters. It's clear that Kushner spent some time with them. She knows them well, giving each a very developed voice and perspective. These characters go beyond Romy and the other prisoners of Stanville. Kushner tells the story of prison's teacher, of a corrupt cop, of a trans woman in a men's prison. Each of these stories carries with it a whole other world, completely rendered and discerning.

And this is perhaps where The Mars Room turns a bit sour. While these extra characters certainly show Kushner's great ability to work inside the minds' of a myriad of possible characters, their connection to the larger story is in some cases weak or entirely nonexistent. Some of the novel's best scenes certainly come from these diversions, but they detract from what is an otherwise solid narrative. When it becomes clear toward the end that these many threads are not necessarily joined, The Mars Room loses something of its believability in its loss of continuity. While there is a complete novel in here, it is joined by stories that are merely connected by theme.

Certainly, it didn't help that in the end, the story moves in a direction that deviates some from the overarching sense of realism. The conclusion isn't absurd, by any means, but it did strike me as slightly inauthentic. In fact, I'd say this ending would've been sufficient in the work of many less skilled authors, but coming from the author who'd established 300 pages of piercing authenticity, it had a bit too much of the made-for-tv-movie effect.

I will not be surprised or offended to see The Mars Room make this year's shortlist. There are probably too many strikes against it to take home the prize—primarily, or so I believe, that an American author cannot win a third year in a row. In a year when the longlist has been particularly sub par, in my opinion, I think Kushner has a decent chance of being invited to London this October.

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text 2018-09-05 14:07
Reading progress update: I've read 53%.
Before Mars - Emma Newman

"What else has Travis been doing behind his husband's back? I dread to think."

Ha. If only she knew.

 

Ok, having read After Atlas, there are some known details that help build anticipation in this novel, but I honestly think they could be read in any order.

 

I have a suspicion about what is going on, but I'm not sure it's right. Or how, exactly.

 

To sum up our mysterious clues: we have a written warning, an impossible footprint, a fake wedding ring, and doctored visual survey data.

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text 2018-09-02 15:33
Reading progress update: I've read 6%.
Before Mars - Emma Newman

The first Halloween Bingo call wasn't on my card, so at first I wasn't sure what to start with. And then I remembered this book, and I was like "Of course!"

 

This will count for the new release square, but it's basically a science fiction mystery set on Mars, and it's the third book in this series/not series* by Emma Newman. I'm so excited!

 

*It's a series where the books take place in the same universe, but that so far you could read in any order.

 

Also, I could have sworn that I added all of the editions of this book that I could find when it came out in April, but I couldn't find my ebook edition on BL. It better not have been overwritten by the mislabelled Kindle book I found (someone put down an ASIN but called it an ebook...and it was first in the editions list too).

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