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View Poll Results: What deal shall we negotiate in February?
For All the Tea in China: Espionage, Empire and the Secret Formula for the World's Favourite Drink by Sarah Rose 3 33.33%
The Last Grain Race by Eric Newby 4 44.44%
A Delicate Truth by John Le Carré 5 55.56%
Balance of Trade by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller 2 22.22%
Emma by Jane Austen 4 44.44%
The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers 4 44.44%
The Winner by David Baldacci 2 22.22%
Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain 4 44.44%
The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith 5 55.56%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 9. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 01-07-2019, 07:58 AM   #1
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Vote for February 2019 • Let's Make a Deal: Trade Secrets


Let's select the book we'll read and discuss in February 2019!

We love new participants. We're happy for you to vote, but we'd like to request that you not vote unless you plan to join the discussion whatever the selection, in the interest of a vibrant conversation. So if you haven't posted in a book club thread yet, do please say a quick hello here or in the Welcome thread.


This is a poll. Vote for as many books as you'd like. Questions? FAQs | Guidelines Or just ask!

Choices:

For All the Tea in China: Espionage, Empire and the Secret Formula for the World's Favourite Drink by Sarah Rose
Available at etailers in all markets (US $12.99) plus OverDrive and Scribd (audio)
Spoiler:
Quote:
Robert Fortune was a Scottish gardener, botanist, plant hunter - and industrial spy. In 1848, the East India Company engaged him to make a clandestine trip into the interior of China - territory forbidden to foreigners - to steal the closely guarded secrets of tea. For centuries, China had been the world's sole tea manufacturer. Britain purchased this fuel for its Empire by trading opium to the Chinese - a poisonous relationship Britain fought two destructive wars to sustain. The East India Company had profited lavishly as the middleman, but now it was sinking, having lost its monopoly to trade tea. Its salvation, it thought, was to establish its own plantations in the Himalayas of British India. There were just two problems: India had no tea plants worth growing, and the company wouldn't have known what to do with them if it had. Hence Robert Fortune's daring trip. The Chinese interior was off-limits and virtually unknown to the West, but that's where the finest tea was grown - the richest oolongs, soochongs and pekoes. And the Emperor aimed to keep it that way.
272 pp.

The Last Grain Race by Eric Newby
US$9.99, CA$12.99, AU$10.99, UK£7.99, Scribd
Spoiler:
Every year from 1921 to 1939, the vessels involved in the grain trade would strive to find the shortest, fastest passage home from Australia to Britain – "the grain race" – in the face of turbulent seas, atrocious weather conditions and hard graft.

In 1938 an eighteen-year-old boy signed on for the round trip from Europe to Australia in the last commercial sailing fleet to make that formidable journey. The Last Grain Race is Eric Newby's spell-binding account of his time spent on the Moshulu's last voyage in the Australian grain trade.

As always, Eric Newby's sharp eye for detail captures the hardships, danger, squabbles, companionship and sheer joy of shipboard life - bedbugs, ferocious storms, eccentric Finnish crew and all. By pure chance, Eric witnessed the passing of the era of sail, and his tale is all the more significant for being the last of its kind.
288 pp.

A Delicate Truth by John Le Carré
Kobo: $US5.99, $C11.99, $A12.99, $NZ16.32, £4.99
Spoiler:
Quote:
A counter-terror operation, codenamed Wildlife, is being mounted in Britain's most precious colony, Gibraltar. Its purpose: to capture and abduct a high-value jihadist arms-buyer. Its authors: an ambitious Foreign Office Minister, and a private defence contractor who is also his close friend. So delicate is the operation that even the Minister's Private Secretary, Toby Bell, is not cleared for it.

Suspecting a disastrous conspiracy, Toby attempts to forestall it, but is promptly posted overseas. Three years on, summoned by Sir Christopher Probyn, retired British diplomat, to his decaying Cornish manor house, and closely watched by Probyn's daughter Emily, Toby must choose between his conscience and his duty to the Service.

If the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing, how can he keep silent?

'No other writer has charted - pitilessly for politicians but thrillingly for readers - the public and secret histories of his times, from the Second World War to the 'War on Terror'' Guardian

'The master of the modern spy novel returns . . . this is writing of such quality that - as Robert Harris put it - it will be read in one hundred years. John le Carré was never a spy-turned-writer, he was a writer who found his canvas in espionage, as Dickens did in other worlds. The two men deserve comparison' Daily Mail

'A brilliant climax, with sinister deaths, casual torture, wrecked lives and shameful compromises' Observer

'With A Delicate Truth, le Carré has in a sense come home. And it's a splendid homecoming . . . the novel is the most satisfying, subtle and compelling of his recent oeuvre' The Times
321 pp.

Balance of Trade by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Amazon: $5.38 | AmazonCA: $8.56 | Baen Ebooks: $6.99 | AmazonUK: £4.67 | Audible (WS) $1.99
Spoiler:
Quote:
Originally Posted by BaenEbooks.com
Assistant Trader Jethri Gobelyn is an honest, hardworking young Terran who knows a lot about living onboard his family's space going trade ship 'Gobelyn's Market', something about trade, finance, and risk taking and a little bit about Liadens.

Oddly enough, it's the little bit he knows about Liadens that seems likely to make his family's fortune—and his own. In short order, however, Jethri Gobelyn is about to learn a lot more about Liadens . . . like how far they might go to protect their name and reputation. Like the myriad of things one might say—intentionally or not—with a single bow. Like how hard it is to say "I'm sorry!" in Liaden. Like how difficult it is to deal with a beguiling set of Liaden twins who may very well know exactly what he's thinking . . . . Soon it became clear that as little as he knew about Liadens, he knew far less about himself. With his very existence a threat to the balance of trade, Jethri needs to learn fast, or become a pawn in a game that will destroy all he has come to hold dear.

Quote:
Lee and Miller's award-winning Liaden Universe® series has garnered high praise for master level world building, deft characterization, and action-packed plots. These are not characters. They are real people, whose lives we have been privileged to share.
—Jennifer Dunne, SFRomance
464 pp.

Emma by Jane Austen
Public domain
Spoiler:
According to Wikipedia, Emma "is a novel about youthful hubris and the perils of misconstrued romance." and:

Quote:
Austen explores the concerns and difficulties of genteel women living in Georgian–Regency England; she also creates a lively comedy of manners among her characters and depicts issues of marriage, gender, age, and social status.

<snip> Emma is spoiled, headstrong, and self-satisfied; she greatly overestimates her own matchmaking abilities; she is blind to the dangers of meddling in other people's lives; and her imagination and perceptions often lead her astray.
The Guardian says:

Quote:
In January 1814, Jane Austen sat down to write a revolutionary novel. Emma, the book she composed over the next year, was to change the shape of what is possible in fiction.
350 pp.

The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers
AmazonUS | Kobo $13.99
Spoiler:
Quote:
Set in Germany in the course of a week in October, 1936, “The Seventh Cross” follows the heart-pounding escape of seven political prisoners from the fictional concentration camp Westhofen, not far from Mainz and Frankfurt... The escapees might seek out their families and friends, but they risk being turned in by unknown Gestapo informers, or, worse, having their loved ones arrested and sent to camps themselves. George Heisler, the novel’s protagonist, finds that all the people in his former life have “been turned into a network of living traps.”
416 pp.

The Winner by David Baldacci
Amazon US $7.99 | Amazon UK £4.74 | Amazon CA $7.49 | Amazon AU $9.99 | Kobo US $7.99 | Kobo UK £6.47 | Kobo CA $7.49 | Kobo AU $9.99
Spoiler:
QUOTE]The Dream

She is twenty, beautiful, dirt-poor, and hoping for a better life for her infant daughter when LuAnn Tyler is offered the gift of a lifetime, a $100 million lottery jackpot. All she has to do is change her identity and leave the U.S. forever.

The Killer

It's an offer she dares to refuse...until violence forces her hand and thrusts her into a harrowing game of high-stakes, big-money subterfuge. It's a price she won't fully pay...until she does the unthinkable and breaks the promise that made her rich.

The Winner

For if LuAnn Tyler comes home, she will be pitted against the deadliest contestant of all: the chameleonlike financial mastermind who changed her life. And who can take it away at will...[/QUOTE]
526 pp.

The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
Public domain
Spoiler:
Quote:
Mark Twain’s satiric novel about two boys who trade places in Tudor England—written “for young people of all ages”—was his first foray into historical fiction.

Set in 1547, The Prince and the Pauper brings together Tom Canty, an impoverished urchin who lives with his abusive father in London’s filthiest streets, and pampered Prince Edward, the son of King Henry VIII. Noticing their uncanny resemblance, the two boys trade clothes on a whim. While Tom lives in the lap of luxury and finds he has a knack for rendering wise judgments, the ragged Prince Edward roams the city and discovers firsthand the misery of his poorest subjects’ lives. But when the king dies and Edward tries to claim his throne, he finds that changing places will be difficult to undo. In this rollicking tale, Twain’s scathing indictment of injustice comes richly clothed in his trademark humor and wit.
240 pp.

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
Amazon US $8.48
Spoiler:
Quote:
One of the great crime novels of the 20th century, Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley is a blend of the narrative subtlety of Henry James and the self-reflexive irony of Vladimir Nabokov. Like the best modernist fiction, Ripley works on two levels. First, it is the story of a young man, Tom Ripley, whose nihilistic tendencies lead him on a deadly passage across Europe. On another level, the novel is a commentary on fictionmaking and techniques of narrative persuasion. Like Humbert Humbert, Tom Ripley seduces readers into empathizing with him even as his actions defy all moral standards.

The novel begins with a play on James's The Ambassadors. Tom Ripley is chosen by the wealthy Herbert Greenleaf to retrieve Greenleaf's son, Dickie, from his overlong sojourn in Italy. Dickie, it seems, is held captive both by the Mediterranean climate and the attractions of his female companion, but Mr. Greenleaf needs him back in New York to help with the family business. With an allowance and a new purpose, Tom leaves behind his dismal city apartment to begin his career as a return escort. But Tom, too, is captivated by Italy. He is also taken with the life and looks of Dickie Greenleaf. He insinuates himself into Dickie's world and soon finds that his passion for a lifestyle of wealth and sophistication transcends moral compunction. Tom will become Dickie Greenleaf--at all costs.

Unlike many modernist experiments, The Talented Mr. Ripley is eminently readable and is driven by a gripping chase narrative that chronicles each of Tom's calculated maneuvers of self-preservation. Highsmith was in peak form with this novel, and her ability to enter the mind of a sociopath and view the world through his disturbingly amoral eyes is a model that has spawned such latter-day serial killers as Hannibal Lecter. --Patrick O'Kelley
320 pp.

Last edited by issybird; 01-07-2019 at 10:06 AM.
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Old 01-07-2019, 08:10 AM   #2
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I generally don't like to vote for more than half the choices but went slightly over than under this month with the odd number of choices.
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Old 01-07-2019, 08:25 AM   #3
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I went slightly under half rather than over, but I don't have any strong preferences this month.
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Old 01-07-2019, 01:09 PM   #4
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Well, I went for four items as well, gmw, but only two match up with you, and two match up with issybird. So I guess I'm the unifier .
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Old 01-07-2019, 05:25 PM   #5
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Four for me too!
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Old 01-08-2019, 06:51 AM   #6
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Tight race!
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Old 01-08-2019, 08:44 AM   #7
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Tight race!
I don't think I've ever seen a flatter distribution of the votes. Everything's still a contender.
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Old 01-08-2019, 10:40 AM   #8
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Does the voting indicate all the books are almost equally appealing, or almost equally unappealing?
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Old 01-08-2019, 01:07 PM   #9
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Does the voting indicate all the books are almost equally appealing, or almost equally unappealing?
The one implies the other, doesn't it?

As for me, I can generally class the nominations into three groups: books I'd like to read, books I wouldn't mind reading, and books I'd prefer not to read. This month was no different.
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Old 01-08-2019, 11:15 PM   #10
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The one implies the other, doesn't it?

As for me, I can generally class the nominations into three groups: books I'd like to read, books I wouldn't mind reading, and books I'd prefer not to read. This month was no different.
I have an additional level of granularity in my classification: books I wouldn't mind reading if they were cheaper. It's not a huge issue for me (now that I've not had a cigarette for 374 days 14 hours and 16 minutes, I can afford more stuff), but it does influence my voting.
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Old 01-09-2019, 12:16 AM   #11
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I have an additional level of granularity in my classification: books I wouldn't mind reading if they were cheaper. It's not a huge issue for me (now that I've not had a cigarette for 374 days 14 hours and 16 minutes, I can afford more stuff), but it does influence my voting.
Yes, that can certainly affect my voting too, unless the book is available from one of my libraries.

Bravo on giving up smoking, gmw! I have never smoked, so I buy myself photographic gear with my cigarette money.
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Old 01-09-2019, 12:36 AM   #12
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Congrats to you, gmw! A new year's resolution that took!

As for cost, so far for me there's always been a way, which would include borrowing the paper book. But I live in the same town as the state university and can use its library, and I know some are unable or unwilling to read paper. And ebooks in Australia can be dear.
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Old 01-09-2019, 01:47 AM   #13
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I have an additional level of granularity in my classification: books I wouldn't mind reading if they were cheaper. It's not a huge issue for me (now that I've not had a cigarette for 374 days 14 hours and 16 minutes, I can afford more stuff), but it does influence my voting.
Well done, gmw!

As for voting? I let cost rule out some books, but it won't stop me from reading them if they do win. Usually, I can find them in the library if I am willing to wait a bit.
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Old 01-09-2019, 08:14 AM   #14
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Of the front runners, I've rather got my fingers crossed for The Seventh Cross, for diversity's sake if no other. While we're doing fine with women authors (exactly half of the selections to date), we're lagging with non-Anglophone choices at only one so far.
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Old 01-09-2019, 08:40 AM   #15
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Of the front runners, I've rather got my fingers crossed for The Seventh Cross
Me too, because my spastic fingers FORGOT TO VOTE FOR IT!
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