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Old 07-27-2011, 01:59 PM   #1
pilotbob
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August 2011 Book Club Nominations

Help us select the next book that the Mobile Read book club will read for August 2011.

The nominations will run through Aug 1 or until 10 books have made the list.
Voting (new poll thread) will run for 5 days starting Aug 1.

Book selection category for July per the "official" club opening thread is:

August 2011
Free For All (any genre)


In order for a book to be included in the poll it needs THREE NOMINATIONS (original nomination, a second and a third).

How Does This Work?
The Mobile Read Book Club (MRBC) is an informal club that requires nothing of you. Each month a book is selected by polling. On the last week of that month a discussion thread is started for the book. If you want to participate feel free. There is no need to "join" or sign up. All are welcome.

How Does a Book Get Selected?
Each book that is nominated will be listed in a pool at the end of the nomination period. The book that polls the most votes will be the official selection.

How Many Nominations Can I Make?
Each participant has 3 nominations. You can nominate a new book for consideration or nominate (second, third) one that has already been nominated by another person.

How Do I Nominate a Book?
Please just post a message with your nomination. If you are the FIRST to nominate a book, please try to provide an abstract to the book so others may consider their level of interest.

How Do I Know What Has Been Nominated?
Just follow the thread. This message will be updated with the status of the nominations as often as I can. If one is missed, please just post a message with a multi-quote of the 3 nominations and it will be added to the list ASAP.

When is the Poll?
The poll thread will open at the end of the nomination period, or once there have been 10 books with 3 nominations each. At that time a link to the poll thread will be posted here and this thread will be closed.

The floor is open to nominations.


Official choices each with three nominations:


Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse [Hamlet53, HomeInMyShoes, colinsky]
(translated into English by John Bester)
Inkmesh search
Spoiler:
Subjects: Contemporary Fiction, Kindle Ebooks, Historical Fiction
Description: .]"This painful and very beautiful book gives two powerful messages-of drastic warning, yet also of affirmation of life." - John Hersey "The most successful book yet written about the greatest single horror inflicted by one group of men upon another." -Sunday Times "Immensely effective.... This is a book which must be read." -Books and Bookmen "I would recommend Black Rain to every reader, … more »even the squeamish." -Spectator "Its subtle ironies and noble, unsentimental pity are a reminder of the strengths of Japanese fiction." -New Statesman |Black Rain is centered around the story of a young woman who was caught in the radioactive "black rain" that fell after the bombing of Hiroshima. lbuse bases his tale on real-life diaries and interviews with victims of the holocaust; the result is a book that is free from sentimentality yet manages to reveal the magnitude of the human suffering caused by the atom bomb. The life of Yasuko, on whom the black rain fell, is changed forever by periodic bouts of radiation sickness and the suspicion that her future children, too, may be affected. lbuse tempers the horror of his subject with the gentle humor for which he is famous. His sensitivity to the complex web of emotions in a traditional community torn asunder by this historical event has made Black Rain one of the most acclaimed treatments of the Hiroshima story. (from Amazon.com)


Slaughterhouse Five by Kurk Vonnegut [WT Sharpe, vxf, sun surfer]
Inkmesh search
Spoiler:
From Wikipedia:
.....Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death (1969) is a satirical novel by Kurt Vonnegut about World War II experiences and journeys through time of a soldier called Billy Pilgrim. Ranked the 18th greatest English novel of the 20th century by Modern Library, it is generally recognized as Vonnegut's most influential and popular work. A second description:
Quote:
Billy Pilgrim is the son of an American barber. He serves as a chaplain's assistant in World War II, is captured by the Germans, and he survives the largest massacre in European history—the fire bombing of Dresden. After the war Billy makes a great deal of money as an optometrist, and on his wedding night he is kidnapped by a flying saucer from the planet Tralfamadore. So begins a modern classic by a master storyteller.


Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres [vxf, Hamlet53, Ea]
Inkmesh search
Spoiler:
In his first novel since Corelli’s Mandolin , Louis de Bernières creates a world, populates it with characters as real as our best friends, and launches it into the maelstrom of twentieth-century history. The setting is a small village in southwestern Anatolia in the waning years of the Ottoman Empire. Everyone there speaks Turkish, though they write it in Greek letters. It’s a place that has room for a professional blasphemer; where a brokenhearted aga finds solace in the arms of a Circassian courtesan who isn’t Circassian at all; where a beautiful Christian girl named Philothei is engaged to a Muslim boy named Ibrahim. But all of this will change when Turkey enters the modern world. Epic in sweep, intoxicating in its sensual detail, Birds Without Wings is an enchantment. From the Trade Paperback edition. (from Amazon.com)


The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton [GA Russell, fbrII, Ea]
MR's Patricia Clark Memorial Library - Mobi/PRC and BBeB/LRF uploaded by Patricia | Inkmesh search
Spoiler:
Subjects: Fiction, Kindle Ebooks, Literature, Fiction Classics, Classics
Description: In an article published the day before his death, G.K. Chesterton called The Man Who Was Thursday "a very melodramatic sort of moonshine." Set in a phantasmagoric London where policemen are poets and anarchists camouflage themselves as, well, anarchists, his 1907 novel offers up one highly colored enigma after another. If that weren't enough, the author also throws in an elephant chase and a … more »hot-air-balloon pursuit in which the pursuers suffer from "the persistent refusal of the balloon to follow the roads, and the still more persistent refusal of the cabmen to follow the balloon." But Chesterton is also concerned with more serious questions of honor and truth (and less serious ones, perhaps, of duels and dualism). Our hero is Gabriel Syme, a policeman who cannot reveal that his fellow poet Lucian Gregory is an anarchist. In Chesterton's agile, antic hands, Syme is the virtual embodiment of paradox: He came of a family of cranks, in which all the oldest people had all the newest notions. One of his uncles always walked about without a hat, and another had made an unsuccessful attempt to walk about with a hat and nothing else. His father cultivated art and self-realization; his mother went in for simplicity and hygiene. Hence the child, during his tenderer years, was wholly unacquainted with any drink between the extremes of absinthe and cocoa, of both of which he had a healthy dislike.... Being surrounded with every conceivable kind of revolt from infancy, Gabriel had to revolt into something, so he revolted into the only thing left--sanity. Elected undercover into the Central European Council of anarchists, Syme must avoid discovery and save the world from any bombings in the offing. As Thursday (each anarchist takes the name of a weekday--the only quotidian thing about this fantasia) does his best to undo his new colleagues, the masks multiply. The question then becomes: Do they reveal or conceal? And who, not to mention what, can be believed? As The Man Who Was Thursday proceeds, it becomes a hilarious numbers game with a more serious undertone--what happens if most members of the council actually turn out to be on the side of right? Chesterton's tour de force is a thriller that is best read slowly, so as to savor his highly anarchic take on anarchy. --Kerry Fried "A powerful picture of the loneliness and bewilderment which each of us encounters in his single-handed struggle with the universe." --C. S. Lewis From the Trade Paperback edition. (from Amazon.com


Life of Pi by Yann Marte [VioletVal, WT Sharpe, jgaiser]
Inkmesh search
Spoiler:
Amazon.com Review
Yann Martel's imaginative and unforgettable Life of Pi is a magical reading experience, an endless blue expanse of storytelling about adventure, survival, and ultimately, faith. The precocious son of a zookeeper, 16-year-old Pi Patel is raised in Pondicherry, India, where he tries on various faiths for size, attracting "religions the way a dog attracts fleas." Planning a move to Canada, his father packs up the family and their menagerie and they hitch a ride on an enormous freighter. After a harrowing shipwreck, Pi finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean, trapped on a 26-foot lifeboat with a wounded zebra, a spotted hyena, a seasick orangutan, and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker ("His head was the size and color of the lifebuoy, with teeth"). It sounds like a colorful setup, but these wild beasts don't burst into song as if co-starring in an anthropomorphized Disney feature. After much gore and infighting, Pi and Richard Parker remain the boat's sole passengers, drifting for 227 days through shark-infested waters while fighting hunger, the elements, and an overactive imagination. In rich, hallucinatory passages, Pi recounts the harrowing journey as the days blur together, elegantly cataloging the endless passage of time and his struggles to survive: "It is pointless to say that this or that night was the worst of my life. I have so many bad nights to choose from that I've made none the champion."

An award winner in Canada (and winner of the 2002 Man Booker Prize), Life of Pi, Yann Martel's second novel, should prove to be a breakout book in the U.S. At one point in his journey, Pi recounts, "My greatest wish--other than salvation--was to have a book. A long book with a never-ending story. One that I could read again and again, with new eyes and fresh understanding each time." It's safe to say that the fabulous, fablelike Life of Pi is such a book. --Brad Thomas Parsons


Ask the Dust (1939) by John Fante [beppe, Ea, issybird]
Inkmesh search
Spoiler:
How Ask the Dust nearly missed greatness
Rob Woodard
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 14 January 2009 08.00 GMT
Article history

John Fante
Almost forgotten ... John Fante

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the publication of Ask the Dust, by John Fante. Today it's widely regarded as a classic of American literature; many have declared it the finest novel ever to emerge from Los Angeles. In addition to critical praise, the book has also found popular success, appearing on bestseller lists in both the US and Europe. In 2006 it was even made into a Hollywood film, starring Salma Hayek and Colin Farrell. But Fante's masterpiece has not always enjoyed such prominence. In fact, its journey to its current status has been long and highly unusual.

The novel tells the story of Arturo Bandini, a young Italian-American from Boulder, Colorado who moves to LA to try and make it as a writer. Penniless but hopeful, Bandini soon finds himself locked in an intense battle with his insanely demanding muse as well as the City of Angels itself, which he sees as a maddening mix of smug wealth and heartbreaking poverty. Mirroring these themes and driving much of the novel's action is Bandini's wildly destructive relationship with Camilla Lopez, an unstable young Mexican waitress, whose beauty represents much of what Arturo craves, but whose ethnicity (in the context of 1930s America) forces him to confront his own ancestry and the pain that drives so much of his life.

At the time of Ask the Dust's release in 1939, Fante appeared to be a writer on the rise. His first novel, Wait Until Spring, was well received; his short stories were appearing in prominent publications such as the American Mercury, and he had a long-distance mentor in HL Mencken, at that time one of America's most influential men of letters. With all these things going for him, Fante was poised to take his place alongside Steinbeck as one of the era's most important Californian writers when his incendiary sophomore novel hit the stands. However, Ask the Dust received mixed reviews, sold very poorly, and quickly fell out of print. And that's how things stayed for the next four decades.

This failure drove Fante into a chequered career as a Hollywood screenwriter, and largely spelled the end of his career as a novelist. By the late 1970s, when Fante was nearing the end of life, he had been almost completely forgotten by the general public and most of the literary establishment as well. However, he had his admirers - and so did Ask the Dust. While writing the screenplay for Chinatown in the early 1970s, Robert Towne (who later directed and wrote the film of Ask the Dust) turned to Fante's by then very obscure novel in search of a template for authentic 1930s-era dialogue. By the late 1970s LA poet-playwright-journalist Ben Pleasants had begun a series of interviews with a declining Fante and published an important overview of his life and work in the LA Times Book Review in 1979. However, it was Pleasants's friend, the now famous poet and novelist Charles Bukowski, who played the most important role in bringing Fante and his great novel back into public view.

As a struggling young writer haunting the streets of Los Angeles, al la Arturo Bandini, Bukowski had stumbled upon a copy of Ask the Dust in the public library. Fante immediately became a huge influence on the younger man's writing, to the point where Bukowski would later declare that "Fante was my god." Much later Bukowski introduced Ask the Dust to his publisher, John Martin. Martin recognised the novel as a classic and Fante as a major writer, and soon republished it from his Black Sparrow Press where, over the next three-plus decades it would slowly gather a large, adoring audience, while reaping seemingly endless critical praise.

Several years ago, Martin sold Black Sparrow Press. At this point Ask the Dust (along with most of Fante's oeuvre, which Black Sparrow also now published) found its way to Echo Press, an imprint of HarperCollins, where it has garnered an even larger audience. It's amazing to think, though, that if a young Charles Bukowski had missed Ask the Dust during his time in the LA library, the book's later success might never have come about: it likely would have stayed out of print and Fante would probably be remembered, if he was remembered at all, as another burned-out old screenwriter and failed novelist. Instead, he's seen today as a powerful pre-Beat writer who wrote one of the most influential and important novels of the last, well, 70 years.


The Help by Kathryn Stockett [JSWolf, Nyssa, VioletVal]
Inkmesh search
Spoiler:
Be prepared to meet three unforgettable women:

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women-- mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends--view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't.


Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh [sun surfer, issybird, colinsky]
Inkmesh search
Spoiler:
It is World War II and Captain Charles Ryder reflects upon his time at Oxford during the '20s and a world now changed. As a lonely student, Charles was captivated by the outrageous and decadent Sebastien Flyte, and invited to spend time at the family home: Brideshead. Charles becomes infatuated with its eccentric, aristocratic occupants, especially Sebastien's remote and distant sister, Julia. However, he begins to realise his own spiritual and social distance, and in turn discovers a crueler world, where duty and desire, faith and happiness can only ever be conflicting forces.


The Book of Fate by Brad Meltzer [JSWolf, Asawi, pilotbob]
Inkmesh search
Spoiler:
In six minutes, one of us would be dead. None of us knew it was coming...

So says Wes Holloway, a once-cocky and ambitious presidential aide, about the day that changed his life forever. On that Fourth of July, Wes put Ron Boyle, the chief executive's oldest friend, into the presidential limousine. By the time the trip came to an end, Wes was permanently disfigured, and Boyle was dead, the victim of a crazed assassin.

Eight years later, Boyle is spotted, alive and well, in Malaysia. In that moment, Wes has the chance to undo the worst day of his life. Trying to figure out what really happened takes Wes back to a decade old presidential crossword puzzle, mysterious facts buried in Masonic history, and a two-hundred-year-old code invented by Thomas Jefferson.

But what Wes doesn't realize is that The Book of Fate holds everyone's secrets. Especially the ones worth dying for. The Book of Fate. What does it say about you?


Hounded by Kevin Hearne [JSWolf, Nyssa, siraks]
Inkmesh search
Spoiler:
Quote:
Atticus O'Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old - when in actuality, he's twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he's hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power - plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish - to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.
The following link is to a review. May contain spoilers.

http://www.bloodofthemuse.com/2011/0...e-del-rey.html


From the review...
Quote:
Kevin Hearne has done the impossible in Hounded, the first volume in the Iron Druid Chronicles. He makes druids cool, elevating the class beyond just a Kaiser employee with a better attitude.


The nominations are now closed.

Last edited by WT Sharpe; 07-29-2011 at 02:55 PM. Reason: updated to post 77
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Old 07-27-2011, 02:00 PM   #2
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Sorry this is so late. I must have deleted my reminder email without creating the thread.

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Old 07-27-2011, 02:28 PM   #3
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I'll nominate the same book I nominated last month.

The Voyage of the Minotaur by Wesley Allison

Spoiler:
Subjects: Fantasy Historical, Fantasy, Science Fiction - Adventure
Description: In a world of steam power and rifles, where magic has not yet been forgotten, an expedition sets out to found a colony in a lost world. The Voyage of the Minotaur is a story of adventure and magic, religion and prejudice, steam engines and dinosaurs, angels and lizardmen, machine guns and wizards, sorceresses, bustles and corsets, steam-powered computers, hot air balloons, and dragons. … more » (from Amazon.com)
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Old 07-27-2011, 02:56 PM   #4
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So I would like to nominate I book I have been thinking about recently, and would like to read once more after a number of years.

Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse (translated into English by John Bester). This is a fictional novel (based on real life diaries and accounts) of survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. It is told from the point of view of an ordinary family, and is not any sort of one-sided polemic against the bombing. In fact it is equally critical of the militaristic regime in Japan. It's the best novel on the subject ever written in my opinion.

Here is a link to the Inkmesh search for the ebook; both Kindle and epub formats are available. http://inkmesh.com/ebooks/black-rain...?qs=black+rain

Ibuse was a highly regarded writer in Japan. The fact that he is relatively unknown elsewhere is due to the fact that few of his books have been translated. As far as I am aware only Black Rain and a collection of short stories titled Salamander and Other Stories. Here is a nice obituary I found for Ibuse: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/pe...e-1484652.html
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Old 07-27-2011, 03:07 PM   #5
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I second the nomination for Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse. Although I don't have enough money to purchase it in my book allowance yet, I might be able to library this one.
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Old 07-27-2011, 03:20 PM   #6
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Birds Without Wings, by Louis de Bernieres.
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3..._Without_Wings

One of the best pieces of historical fiction I have read, set in a small town as the Ottoman empire falls apart. A very entertaining read, at the same time very enlightening. It carries a very colorful set of timeless characters. I think the author is under-rated and certainly not as well known as he would deserve. I am looking forward to re-reading this book and would recommend it to everyone.
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Old 07-27-2011, 06:14 PM   #7
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I'd like to nominate The Great War and Modern Memory, Paul Fussell's seminal study of World War One as the dawn of the modern era, using the the narratives of British memoirists and poets as the prism with which to view it. Fussell pinpoints accounts which were both historical experience and artistic rendering, with the overarching leitmotif of tragedy.

The book, published in 1975, won both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. I think it's especially relevant as we approach the one hundredth anniversary of the start of the Great War, as we see how much the world has changed and to what extent the world hasn't learned the excruciating lessons of that conflict.

Links to
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and Goodreads.

Last edited by issybird; 07-27-2011 at 06:17 PM.
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Old 07-27-2011, 07:58 PM   #8
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I nominate The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton.

Amazon quotes a critic who wrote about it: "Chesterton's tour de force is a thriller that is best read slowly, so as to savor his highly anarchic take on anarchy."

The Man Who Was Thursday is availalble from MobileRead's Patricia Clark Memorial Library.
http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15837
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Old 07-27-2011, 10:08 PM   #9
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The first bok I'd like to nominate is Slaughterhouse Five by Kurk Vonnegut.

From Wikipedia:
.....Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death (1969) is a satirical novel by Kurt Vonnegut about World War II experiences and journeys through time of a soldier called Billy Pilgrim. Ranked the 18th greatest English novel of the 20th century by Modern Library, it is generally recognized as Vonnegut's most influential and popular work.
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Old 07-27-2011, 10:09 PM   #10
WT Sharpe
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The second book I'd like to nominate this month is The Hidden Reality: Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos by Brian Greene

From CultureLab editor Amanda Gefter's review ("A tour of the multiverses") for New Scientist:
.....Arcane yet exciting physics, wrapped up in effortless prose. Yes, Brian Greene has done it again. His new book, The Hidden Reality, does for multiverses what his bestseller The Elegant Universe did for string theory: it provides the general reader with a thorough, engaging survey of the subject that manages to make highly abstract ideas sound implausibly comprehensible. ... [T]here couldn't be a better time for a book to sort out the many strange passages of the multiverse. To start, there is more than one notion of a multiverse; Greene tackles nine. They range from the bubble universes spawned by a continuous chain of big bangs to the possibility that we may one day create simulated universes on our desktops. You may be reading this in a simulated world right now. Or perhaps infinite versions of you are reading this over and over, scattered throughout relentlessly expansive space. One thing, though, is common to all views: reality is not what it seems.
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Old 07-27-2011, 10:15 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by WT Sharpe View Post
The first bok I'd like to nominate is Slaughterhouse Five by Kurk Vonnegut.

From Wikipedia:
.....Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death (1969) is a satirical novel by Kurt Vonnegut about World War II experiences and journeys through time of a soldier called Billy Pilgrim. Ranked the 18th greatest English novel of the 20th century by Modern Library, it is generally recognized as Vonnegut's most influential and popular work.
My second nomination goes in support of Slaughterhouse Five.
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Old 07-27-2011, 10:52 PM   #12
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I'll third "Black Rain". And thanks for pointing it out...I hadn't realized that anything from Kodansha had made it to ebook...
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Old 07-28-2011, 12:01 AM   #13
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Nominations so far... Please let me know of any errors.
Thanks, Tom for the help.
updated to post #77

There are now 10 fully nominated books. The nominations are now closed.

The Voyage of the Minotaur by Wesley Allison [John F, caleb72]
Inkmesh search | Smashwords
Spoiler:
Subjects: Fantasy Historical, Fantasy, Science Fiction - Adventure
Description: In a world of steam power and rifles, where magic has not yet been forgotten, an expedition sets out to found a colony in a lost world. The Voyage of the Minotaur is a story of adventure and magic, religion and prejudice, steam engines and dinosaurs, angels and lizardmen, machine guns and wizards, sorceresses, bustles and corsets, steam-powered computers, hot air balloons, and dragons. (from Amazon.com)


* [3] Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse [Hamlet53, HomeInMyShoes, colinsky]
(translated into English by John Bester)
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Spoiler:
Subjects: Contemporary Fiction, Kindle Ebooks, Historical Fiction
Description: .]"This painful and very beautiful book gives two powerful messages-of drastic warning, yet also of affirmation of life." - John Hersey "The most successful book yet written about the greatest single horror inflicted by one group of men upon another." -Sunday Times "Immensely effective.... This is a book which must be read." -Books and Bookmen "I would recommend Black Rain to every reader, … more »even the squeamish." -Spectator "Its subtle ironies and noble, unsentimental pity are a reminder of the strengths of Japanese fiction." -New Statesman |Black Rain is centered around the story of a young woman who was caught in the radioactive "black rain" that fell after the bombing of Hiroshima. lbuse bases his tale on real-life diaries and interviews with victims of the holocaust; the result is a book that is free from sentimentality yet manages to reveal the magnitude of the human suffering caused by the atom bomb. The life of Yasuko, on whom the black rain fell, is changed forever by periodic bouts of radiation sickness and the suspicion that her future children, too, may be affected. lbuse tempers the horror of his subject with the gentle humor for which he is famous. His sensitivity to the complex web of emotions in a traditional community torn asunder by this historical event has made Black Rain one of the most acclaimed treatments of the Hiroshima story. (from Amazon.com)


* [3] Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres [vxf, Hamlet53, Ea]
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Spoiler:
In his first novel since Corelli’s Mandolin , Louis de Bernières creates a world, populates it with characters as real as our best friends, and launches it into the maelstrom of twentieth-century history. The setting is a small village in southwestern Anatolia in the waning years of the Ottoman Empire. Everyone there speaks Turkish, though they write it in Greek letters. It’s a place that has room for a professional blasphemer; where a brokenhearted aga finds solace in the arms of a Circassian courtesan who isn’t Circassian at all; where a beautiful Christian girl named Philothei is engaged to a Muslim boy named Ibrahim. But all of this will change when Turkey enters the modern world. Epic in sweep, intoxicating in its sensual detail, Birds Without Wings is an enchantment. From the Trade Paperback edition. (from Amazon.com)


The Great War and Modern Memory by Paul Fussell [issybird, Hamlet53]
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Spoiler:
Subjects: Literary Criticism, Classics & Literary, History
Description: The year 2000 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the publication of The Great War and Modern Memory, winner of the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and recently named by the Modern Library one of the twentieth century's 100 Best Non-Fiction Books. Fussell's landmark study of WWI remains as original and gripping today as ever before: a literate, literary, and … more »illuminating account of the Great War, the one that changed a generation, ushered in the modern era, and revolutionized how we see the world. Exploring the work of Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, Edmund Blunden, David Jones, Isaac Rosenberg, and Wilfred Owen, Fussell supplies contexts, both actual and literary, for those writers who most effectively memorialized WWI as an historical experience with conspicuous imaginative and artistic meaning. For this special edition, the author has prepared a new introduction and afterword. (from Kobo)


* [3] The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton [GA Russell, fbrII, Ea]
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Spoiler:
Subjects: Fiction, Kindle Ebooks, Literature, Fiction Classics, Classics
Description: In an article published the day before his death, G.K. Chesterton called The Man Who Was Thursday "a very melodramatic sort of moonshine." Set in a phantasmagoric London where policemen are poets and anarchists camouflage themselves as, well, anarchists, his 1907 novel offers up one highly colored enigma after another. If that weren't enough, the author also throws in an elephant chase and a … more »hot-air-balloon pursuit in which the pursuers suffer from "the persistent refusal of the balloon to follow the roads, and the still more persistent refusal of the cabmen to follow the balloon." But Chesterton is also concerned with more serious questions of honor and truth (and less serious ones, perhaps, of duels and dualism). Our hero is Gabriel Syme, a policeman who cannot reveal that his fellow poet Lucian Gregory is an anarchist. In Chesterton's agile, antic hands, Syme is the virtual embodiment of paradox: He came of a family of cranks, in which all the oldest people had all the newest notions. One of his uncles always walked about without a hat, and another had made an unsuccessful attempt to walk about with a hat and nothing else. His father cultivated art and self-realization; his mother went in for simplicity and hygiene. Hence the child, during his tenderer years, was wholly unacquainted with any drink between the extremes of absinthe and cocoa, of both of which he had a healthy dislike.... Being surrounded with every conceivable kind of revolt from infancy, Gabriel had to revolt into something, so he revolted into the only thing left--sanity. Elected undercover into the Central European Council of anarchists, Syme must avoid discovery and save the world from any bombings in the offing. As Thursday (each anarchist takes the name of a weekday--the only quotidian thing about this fantasia) does his best to undo his new colleagues, the masks multiply. The question then becomes: Do they reveal or conceal? And who, not to mention what, can be believed? As The Man Who Was Thursday proceeds, it becomes a hilarious numbers game with a more serious undertone--what happens if most members of the council actually turn out to be on the side of right? Chesterton's tour de force is a thriller that is best read slowly, so as to savor his highly anarchic take on anarchy. --Kerry Fried "A powerful picture of the loneliness and bewilderment which each of us encounters in his single-handed struggle with the universe." --C. S. Lewis From the Trade Paperback edition. (from Amazon.com


* [3] Slaughterhouse Five by Kurk Vonnegut [WT Sharpe, vxf, sun surfer]
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Spoiler:
From Wikipedia:
.....Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death (1969) is a satirical novel by Kurt Vonnegut about World War II experiences and journeys through time of a soldier called Billy Pilgrim. Ranked the 18th greatest English novel of the 20th century by Modern Library, it is generally recognized as Vonnegut's most influential and popular work.
A second description:
Quote:
Billy Pilgrim is the son of an American barber. He serves as a chaplain's assistant in World War II, is captured by the Germans, and he survives the largest massacre in European history—the fire bombing of Dresden. After the war Billy makes a great deal of money as an optometrist, and on his wedding night he is kidnapped by a flying saucer from the planet Tralfamadore. So begins a modern classic by a master storyteller.


The Hidden Reality: Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos by Brian Greene [WT Sharpe]
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Spoiler:
From CultureLab editor Amanda Gefter's review ("A tour of the multiverses") for New Scientist:
.....Arcane yet exciting physics, wrapped up in effortless prose. Yes, Brian Greene has done it again. His new book, The Hidden Reality, does for multiverses what his bestseller The Elegant Universe did for string theory: it provides the general reader with a thorough, engaging survey of the subject that manages to make highly abstract ideas sound implausibly comprehensible. ... [T]here couldn't be a better time for a book to sort out the many strange passages of the multiverse. To start, there is more than one notion of a multiverse; Greene tackles nine. They range from the bubble universes spawned by a continuous chain of big bangs to the possibility that we may one day create simulated universes on our desktops. You may be reading this in a simulated world right now. Or perhaps infinite versions of you are reading this over and over, scattered throughout relentlessly expansive space. One thing, though, is common to all views: reality is not what it seems.


Embassytown by China Mieville [caleb72]
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Spoiler:
Miéville has crafted an extraordinary novel that is not only a moving personal drama but a gripping adventure of alien contact and war. In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to the enigmatic Ariekei, sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak. Avice Benner Cho, a human colonist, has returned to Embassytown after years of deep-space adventure. She cannot speak the Ariekei tongue, but she is an indelible part of it, having long ago been made a figure of speech, a living simile in their language. When distant political machinations deliver a new ambassador to Arieka, the fragile equilibrium between humans and aliens is violently upset. Catastrophe looms, and Avice is torn between competing loyalties—to a husband she no longer loves, to a system she no longer trusts, and to her place in a language she cannot speak yet speaks through her. From the Hardcover edition. (from Amazon.com)


The Woman Who Walked into Doors by Roddy Doyle [HomeInMyShoes, lila55]
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Spoiler:
"This is the heart-rending story of a woman struggling to reclaim her dignity after a violent, abusive marriage and a worsening drink problem. Paula Spencer recalls her contented childhood, the audacity she learned as a teenager, the exhilaration of her romance with Charlo and the marriage to him that left her powerless. Capturing both her vulnerability and her strength" -from GoodReads


* [3] Ask the Dust (1939) by John Fante [beppe, Ea, issybird]
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Spoiler:
How Ask the Dust nearly missed greatness
Rob Woodard
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 14 January 2009 08.00 GMT
Article history

John Fante
Almost forgotten ... John Fante

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the publication of Ask the Dust, by John Fante. Today it's widely regarded as a classic of American literature; many have declared it the finest novel ever to emerge from Los Angeles. In addition to critical praise, the book has also found popular success, appearing on bestseller lists in both the US and Europe. In 2006 it was even made into a Hollywood film, starring Salma Hayek and Colin Farrell. But Fante's masterpiece has not always enjoyed such prominence. In fact, its journey to its current status has been long and highly unusual.

The novel tells the story of Arturo Bandini, a young Italian-American from Boulder, Colorado who moves to LA to try and make it as a writer. Penniless but hopeful, Bandini soon finds himself locked in an intense battle with his insanely demanding muse as well as the City of Angels itself, which he sees as a maddening mix of smug wealth and heartbreaking poverty. Mirroring these themes and driving much of the novel's action is Bandini's wildly destructive relationship with Camilla Lopez, an unstable young Mexican waitress, whose beauty represents much of what Arturo craves, but whose ethnicity (in the context of 1930s America) forces him to confront his own ancestry and the pain that drives so much of his life.

At the time of Ask the Dust's release in 1939, Fante appeared to be a writer on the rise. His first novel, Wait Until Spring, was well received; his short stories were appearing in prominent publications such as the American Mercury, and he had a long-distance mentor in HL Mencken, at that time one of America's most influential men of letters. With all these things going for him, Fante was poised to take his place alongside Steinbeck as one of the era's most important Californian writers when his incendiary sophomore novel hit the stands. However, Ask the Dust received mixed reviews, sold very poorly, and quickly fell out of print. And that's how things stayed for the next four decades.

This failure drove Fante into a chequered career as a Hollywood screenwriter, and largely spelled the end of his career as a novelist. By the late 1970s, when Fante was nearing the end of life, he had been almost completely forgotten by the general public and most of the literary establishment as well. However, he had his admirers - and so did Ask the Dust. While writing the screenplay for Chinatown in the early 1970s, Robert Towne (who later directed and wrote the film of Ask the Dust) turned to Fante's by then very obscure novel in search of a template for authentic 1930s-era dialogue. By the late 1970s LA poet-playwright-journalist Ben Pleasants had begun a series of interviews with a declining Fante and published an important overview of his life and work in the LA Times Book Review in 1979. However, it was Pleasants's friend, the now famous poet and novelist Charles Bukowski, who played the most important role in bringing Fante and his great novel back into public view.

As a struggling young writer haunting the streets of Los Angeles, al la Arturo Bandini, Bukowski had stumbled upon a copy of Ask the Dust in the public library. Fante immediately became a huge influence on the younger man's writing, to the point where Bukowski would later declare that "Fante was my god." Much later Bukowski introduced Ask the Dust to his publisher, John Martin. Martin recognised the novel as a classic and Fante as a major writer, and soon republished it from his Black Sparrow Press where, over the next three-plus decades it would slowly gather a large, adoring audience, while reaping seemingly endless critical praise.

Several years ago, Martin sold Black Sparrow Press. At this point Ask the Dust (along with most of Fante's oeuvre, which Black Sparrow also now published) found its way to Echo Press, an imprint of HarperCollins, where it has garnered an even larger audience. It's amazing to think, though, that if a young Charles Bukowski had missed Ask the Dust during his time in the LA library, the book's later success might never have come about: it likely would have stayed out of print and Fante would probably be remembered, if he was remembered at all, as another burned-out old screenwriter and failed novelist. Instead, he's seen today as a powerful pre-Beat writer who wrote one of the most influential and important novels of the last, well, 70 years.


A Fortune-Teller Told Me by Tiziano Terzani [lila55, vxf]
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Spoiler:
Description: It was 1976 when Tiziano Terzani was warned by the fortuneteller in Hong Kong: "Beware! You run a grave risk of dying in 1993. You mustn't fly that year. Don't fly, not even once." Sixteen years later, Terzani had not forgotten. Despite living the life of a jet-hopping journalist, he decided that, after a lifetime of sensible decisions, he would confront the prophecy the Asian way, not by fighting it, but by submitting. He also resolved that on the way he would seek out the most eminent local oracle, fortuneteller, or sorcerer and look again into his future. So after a feast of red-ant egg omelet and a glass of fresh water, he brought the new year in on the back of an elephant. He even made it to his appointments: Cambodia, to cover the first democratic elections; Burma, for the opening of the first road to connect Thailand and China; and even Florence, to visit his mother, a trip that would take him 13,000 miles across Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Mongolia, and Siberia. In this way, that jet-hopping journalist rediscovered the art of travel, the intricate chains of chance which lead to discovery, and the mass of humanity he'd overlooked in his rush for newsworthy quotes. And he also saved his life. Terzani's odyssey across Asia is full of revelations and reflections on the dramatic changes underway in Asia. Having spent two decades on the continent, he brings a deep love for the place to his journeys, but also the eyes of someone troubled by the changes he sees. Burma and Laos, finally open to outside contact, are now funnels for AIDS and drugs; Thailand has been traumatized by its rapid development; China is an anarchy fueled by money rather than ideology, where Mao has been transformed into the god of traffic. Surrounded by the loss of diversity wrought by modernism, Terzani asks if the "missionaries of materialism and economic progress" aren't destroying the continent in order to save it. Fortunately, there is a flip side to his occasionally dispiriting commentary, one that Terzani discovers in his hunt for fortunetellers. Through his side trips to seers who read the soles of his feet, the ashes of incense, and even the burned scapula of sheep, it becomes clear that the Orient of legends, myths, and magic still determines people's lives as much as the quest for money. By staying earthbound, Terzani lived to tell of an extraordinary journey through the ever-shifting kaleidoscope of Asia. --Lesley Reed "I was marked for death, and instead I was reborn," declares Italian-born journalist Terzani (Saigon 1975; Goodnight, Mr. Lenin; etc.) and readers of this vivid memoir will believe it. In 1976, early on in his career as a Der Spiegel correspondent in Asia, Terzani was warned by a Hong Kong fortune-teller not to fly in 1993 or he would die. When the fateful year came, Terzani submitted to the warning (no easy decision given all the voyages his work requires), and that year traveled, sometimes with wife Angela in tow, by ship, car, bus and train through 11 countries, including Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Mongolia. Dividing his lucid, graceful and unsentimental prose into 27 anecdotal chapters, Terzani takes readers to the International Thai Association of Astrology, investigates the use of raw garlic and red peppers as a bulwark against the AIDS virus and decries the domestic dog butcherings in Hanoi and constant creeping Westernization throughout the continent, which he encounters and laments in myriad forms. Talking with shamans and soothsayers, Terzani finds the Westernized mind "more limited... a great part of its capacity has been lost. The mind is perhaps the most sophisticated instrument we have, yet we do not give it the attention we give our leg muscles." Terzani's ease and candor and his care for local politics, religion and everyday life make for a full journey of mind, body and spirit.


* [3] Life of Pi by Yann Marte [VioletVal, WT Sharpe, jgaiser]
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Spoiler:
Amazon.com Review
Yann Martel's imaginative and unforgettable Life of Pi is a magical reading experience, an endless blue expanse of storytelling about adventure, survival, and ultimately, faith. The precocious son of a zookeeper, 16-year-old Pi Patel is raised in Pondicherry, India, where he tries on various faiths for size, attracting "religions the way a dog attracts fleas." Planning a move to Canada, his father packs up the family and their menagerie and they hitch a ride on an enormous freighter. After a harrowing shipwreck, Pi finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean, trapped on a 26-foot lifeboat with a wounded zebra, a spotted hyena, a seasick orangutan, and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker ("His head was the size and color of the lifebuoy, with teeth"). It sounds like a colorful setup, but these wild beasts don't burst into song as if co-starring in an anthropomorphized Disney feature. After much gore and infighting, Pi and Richard Parker remain the boat's sole passengers, drifting for 227 days through shark-infested waters while fighting hunger, the elements, and an overactive imagination. In rich, hallucinatory passages, Pi recounts the harrowing journey as the days blur together, elegantly cataloging the endless passage of time and his struggles to survive: "It is pointless to say that this or that night was the worst of my life. I have so many bad nights to choose from that I've made none the champion."

An award winner in Canada (and winner of the 2002 Man Booker Prize), Life of Pi, Yann Martel's second novel, should prove to be a breakout book in the U.S. At one point in his journey, Pi recounts, "My greatest wish--other than salvation--was to have a book. A long book with a never-ending story. One that I could read again and again, with new eyes and fresh understanding each time." It's safe to say that the fabulous, fablelike Life of Pi is such a book. --Brad Thomas Parsons


* [3] The Book of Fate by Brad Meltzer [JSWolf, Asawi, pilotbob]
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Spoiler:
In six minutes, one of us would be dead. None of us knew it was coming...

So says Wes Holloway, a once-cocky and ambitious presidential aide, about the day that changed his life forever. On that Fourth of July, Wes put Ron Boyle, the chief executive's oldest friend, into the presidential limousine. By the time the trip came to an end, Wes was permanently disfigured, and Boyle was dead, the victim of a crazed assassin.

Eight years later, Boyle is spotted, alive and well, in Malaysia. In that moment, Wes has the chance to undo the worst day of his life. Trying to figure out what really happened takes Wes back to a decade old presidential crossword puzzle, mysterious facts buried in Masonic history, and a two-hundred-year-old code invented by Thomas Jefferson.

But what Wes doesn't realize is that The Book of Fate holds everyone's secrets. Especially the ones worth dying for. The Book of Fate. What does it say about you?


* [3] The Help by Kathryn Stockett [JSWolf, Nyssa, [VioletVal]
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Spoiler:
Be prepared to meet three unforgettable women:

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women-- mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends--view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't.


* [3]Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh [sun surfer, issybird, colinsky]
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Spoiler:
It is World War II and Captain Charles Ryder reflects upon his time at Oxford during the '20s and a world now changed. As a lonely student, Charles was captivated by the outrageous and decadent Sebastien Flyte, and invited to spend time at the family home: Brideshead. Charles becomes infatuated with its eccentric, aristocratic occupants, especially Sebastien's remote and distant sister, Julia. However, he begins to realise his own spiritual and social distance, and in turn discovers a crueler world, where duty and desire, faith and happiness can only ever be conflicting forces.


Shōgun by James Clavell [bookwormat, beppe]
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Spoiler:
Subjects: Historical Fiction, Fiction, General Fiction
Description: "Superbly crafted...grips the reader like a riptide...gets the juices flowing!"— Washington Star "Exciting, totally absorbing...be prepared for late nights, meals unlasting, buisness unattended..."— Philadelphia Inquirer "Adventure and action, the suspense of danger, shocking, touching human relationships...a climactic human story." — Los Angeles Times “A tale surging with action, intrigue and … more »love...a huge cast…vast and dramatic ...stunning…savage...beautiful...an extraordinary performance.” – Publishers Weekly “I can’t remember when a novel has seized my mind like this one....It’s not only something you read–you live it.” – New York Times Book Review From the Paperback edition. A bold English adventurer. An invincible Japanese warlord. A beautiful woman torn between two ways of life, two ways of love. All brought together in an extraordinary saga of a time and a place aflame with conflict, passion, ambition, lust, and the struggle for power... From the Paperback edition. (from Amazon.com


D'artagnan romances volume 2 by Alexandre Dumas [The Terminator]
MR's Patricia Clark's Memorial Library - ePub and Mobi/PRC uploaded by HarryT

Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone by Martin Dugard [sun surfer]
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Spoiler:
With the utterance of a single line—“Doctor Livingstone, I presume?”—a remote meeting in the heart of Africa was transformed into one of the most famous encounters in exploration history. But the true story behind Dr. David Livingstone and journalist Henry Morton Stanley is one that has escaped telling. Into Africa is an extraordinarily researched account of a thrilling adventure—defined by alarming foolishness, intense courage, and raw human achievement.

In the mid-1860s, exploration had reached a plateau. The seas and continents had been mapped, the globe circumnavigated. Yet one vexing puzzle remained unsolved: what was the source of the mighty Nile river? Aiming to settle the mystery once and for all, Great Britain called upon its legendary explorer, Dr. David Livingstone, who had spent years in Africa as a missionary. In March 1866, Livingstone steered a massive expedition into the heart of Africa. In his path lay nearly impenetrable, uncharted terrain, hostile cannibals, and deadly predators. Within weeks, the explorer had vanished without a trace. Years passed with no word.

While debate raged in England over whether Livingstone could be found—or rescued—from a place as daunting as Africa, James Gordon Bennett, Jr., the brash American newspaper tycoon, hatched a plan to capitalize on the world’s fascination with the missing legend. He would send a young journalist, Henry Morton Stanley, into Africa to search for Livingstone. A drifter with great ambition, but little success to show for it, Stanley undertook his assignment with gusto, filing reports that would one day captivate readers and dominate the front page of the New York Herald.

Tracing the amazing journeys of Livingstone and Stanley in alternating chapters, author Martin Dugard captures with breathtaking immediacy the perils and challenges these men faced. Woven into the narrative, Dugard tells an equally compelling story of the remarkable transformation that occurred over the course of nine years, as Stanley rose in power and prominence and Livingstone found himself alone and in mortal danger. The first book to draw on modern research and to explore the combination of adventure, politics, and larger-than-life personalities involved, Into Africa is a riveting read.


* [3] Hounded by Kevin Hearne [JSWolf, Nyssa, siraks]
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Spoiler:
Quote:
Atticus O'Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old - when in actuality, he's twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he's hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power - plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish - to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.
The following link is to a review. May contain spoilers.

http://www.bloodofthemuse.com/2011/0...e-del-rey.html


From the review...
Quote:
Kevin Hearne has done the impossible in Hounded, the first volume in the Iron Druid Chronicles. He makes druids cool, elevating the class beyond just a Kaiser employee with a better attitude.

Last edited by WT Sharpe; 07-29-2011 at 02:52 PM. Reason: Updated through post #77
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Old 07-28-2011, 03:05 AM   #14
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I third Slaughterhouse-Five.
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Old 07-28-2011, 03:38 AM   #15
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I'll nominate Embassytown by China Mieville. I didn't need to waste a nomination on Slaughterhouse-Five which is good.

I think I'll just hang out and help others over the line for my other two.
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