Geogal's 150 in 2009
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Another good mystery from the Phryne Fisher series, set in late in 1920s Australia (though this book mainly takes place on a cruise ship headed to New Zealand). I discovered this author awhile ago when visiting Australia and thankfully in the last few years they have released almost all of the Phryne Fisher mysteries in the U.S. or else I'd have been paying a crazy amount to get them shipped to me from Australia!
Death by Water looks good. I'm adding the Phryne Fisher series to my wish list. What's the first book in the series I should look for?
The first book in the Phryne Fisher series is Cocaine Blues. Here's a link to a listing of the complete series in order. Book #16, Murder in the Dark, isn't scheduled to be released in the U.S. until March/April and I haven't seen any release info for the newest book, but all the others are available in the U.S. now.
Phryne Fisher isn't your typical 1920s woman, she's very independent and her views are often more modern than her contemporaries. I hope you like the series.
FYI - If you read The Green Mill Murder (book #5) make sure you find a paperback edition with 192 pages. There was an error with the original hardbound edition and it only contained the first 173 pages.
A graphic memoir - the author goes through the international adoption process while her father dies. The art wasn't impressive but her story is very touching.
4. Double Identity by Margaret Peterson Haddix
A young adult sci-fi book that I enjoyed until the last few pages. I always hate when I'm enjoying a book and then the ending ruins it for me.
Mystery set in South Africa in the 1950s.
Strange novel set in the Peruvian Amazon during the first half of the 20th century. Almost gave up in the beginning, but the characters eventually grew on me.
I guess I shouldn't have used the word "strange". I think I described it that way because of the use of magical realism in the novel.
Newest title in the Children of the Lamp YA fantasy series.
8. China's Great Train by Abrahm Lustgarten
China accomplished an amazing feat of engineering by building a rail line through Tibet on dangerous permafrost and at elevations higher than any other line in the world but the economic benefits of the train and resulting development are mainly going to Han Chinese coming to Tibet to cash-in and the livelihood and culture of many ethic Tibetans has suffered from the train.
Quick, interesting read that attempts to illustrate some of the explanations for irrational behavior in normally sane people.
10. Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey
Mystery set in present-day Ghana. Really liked the main character, Darko Dawson, and I hope Quartey writes more mysteries featuring the detective. (I got my hands on an advance proof - the book isn't supposed to come out until July, but I would recommend mystery fans look out for it.)
11.The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee
Novel set in Hong Kong that follows two interwoven plots - one of a young British wife in the early 1950s and the other of a British man before and during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong during WWII. Lee created compelling characters and I was really impressed with the book.
12. The Host by Stephenie Meyer
I think I enjoyed the Twilight Saga (not 100% sure), so I decided to read Meyer's sci-fi novel written for an adult audience. (Of course, the book is so mild and PG rated that I think it would be fine for most YA readers.) It wasn't awful, but it took awhile to read (619 pages) and I don't think it was worth the effort.
I never read Jane Eyre when I was in school but it has played a part in several books I've read recently, including The Eyre Affair, The Secret Adventures of Charlotte Bronte and Wide Sargasso Sea. I knew the general outline of the story before I started it, but I didn't enjoy the graphic novel. I don't know if I would enjoy the original novel more.
14. The China Lover by Ian Buruma
Novel in 3 parts that follows the story of a Japanese/Chinese/Manchurian film star during and after World War II. Each part of the novel is narrated by a different person who knew the actress at different points in history and while each of the individual stories is compelling, you feel like you never get to know the actress herself.
In order to meet my goal of 150 books this year I need to average 12.5 books read each month. I've managed to read 14 in January, so I'm on target so far.
Wong, one of only a few westerners admitted to study in China during the Cultural Revolution, heads back to Beijing to find out what happened to the fellow student she denounced 35 years ago.
16. Behold, Here's Poison by Georgette Heyer
Enjoyable mystery set in 1930s England from the master of regency romances.
17. Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China by Leslie T.Chang
Examination of the lives of migrant workers in China who provide the labor to operate the country's factories (mainly young women from the poor, rural regions). The author includes large sections about her own Chinese family's history that was interesting but didn't fit with the rest of the book and left me a bit frustrated. Chang should have made two books, not one.
18. Where am I Wearing: A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People that Make our Clothes by Kelsey Timmerman
The author tries (with mixed results) to visit the factories around the world where his favorites clothes were made (Honduras, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, and USA). Interesting memoir that I think challenges a lot of stereotypes about the global garment industry.
Learn about the ways you can leak personal information by using the internet and what few tools you have to prevent it.
20. The Temptation of the Night Jasmine by Lauren Willig
Fifth book in the Pink Carnation series. I wasn't crazy about the 4th book (The Seduction of the Crimson Rose), but this one returned to the quality of the first 3 in the series.
The second of Heyer's mysteries that I've tried and while I enjoyed the first, I found this one disappointing because of the lead detective character.
22. First Kill Your Family: Child Soldiers of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army by Peter Eichstaedt
Explores the little-know civil war in northern Uganda that's been going on for over 20 years. Highly recommended.
23. Frederica by Georgette Heyer
I knew this was a reader favorite, and now that I've read it I agree - it is one of the best of Heyer's regency romances that I've read.
24. Postcards from Tomorrow Square by James Fallows
Collection of articles Fallows wrote for The Atlantic Monthly during 2006-2008. Mainly focused on the economic relationship between China and the United States.
Another good regency romance by Heyer.
26.Vaccinated: One Man's Quest to Defeat the World's Deadliest Diseases by Paul A. Offit
Quick read about the history of vaccinations and specifically the contributions of Maurice Hilleman, a little-known microbiologist who was responsible for many of the greatest advances in the field.
27. The Beijing of Possibilities by Jonathan Tel
Engaging collection of short stories about lives of people living in or passing through Beijing.
28.Coal River by Michael Shnayerson
Book about the effects of mountaintop removal coal mining on the people and environment in southern West Virginia.
Novel set in China in the late 1970s after the Cultural Revolution. Amazing characters but very sad story.
30. Lake Effect: Two Sisters and a Town's Toxic Legacy by Nancy A. Nichols
Nichols believes that her sister's ovarian cancer and her own fertility problems and pancreatic cancer are caused by industrial pollution in her hometown of Waukegan, Illinois. Interesting story, but Nichols fails to convince me that the pollution caused her family's problems.
31.Real World by Natsuo Kirino
Japanese noir about a high school student who kills his mother. Not nearly as good as Kirino's Out.
I was primarily interested in this book because of the controversy surrounding its release. It was dropped by its original publisher because it was suggested that the book would upset or offend Muslims. The book is historical fiction about the life of Aisha, one of the wives of Muhammad. Ignoring the controversy, it was an average book - not bad, but nothing special.
33. Solanin by Asano Inio
Graphic novel about a group of twenty-somethings in Japan trying to figure out what to do with their lives after they've graduated from university.
34. Vanished Smile: the mysterious theft of Mona Lisa by R.A. Scotti
Interesting look at the 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa.
35. The Last Bridge by Teri Coyne
Quick read that was very good. This book is available through Early Reviewers now - I would recommend requesting a copy!
36. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Graphic novel about a boy who struggles with his Chinese-American identity as he grows up.
37. Why Shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer
The third mystery I've read by Heyer and my favorite of the group so far.
39. The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer
One of the better Heyers that I've read so far.
40. The World in Half by Cristina Henriquez
Quick read about a young woman who goes to Panama searching for a father she has never met.
41. Come Together, Fall Apart by Cristina Henriquez
Short stories set in Panama. I think was able to appreciate them more because I'd just read Henriquez's novel.
42. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Quick read about two friends during World War II - one Chinese, another Japanese (who gets sent to an internment camp).
43. Secret Son by Laila Lalami
I really liked Lalami's short stories, but I wasn't crazy about this novel. Didn't care enough about any of the characters and everything that happened the characters was negative.
44. The Blue Notebook by James Levine
Disturbing read about a 15 year old in India who was sold into sexual slavery as a child by her father so that he could pay debts.
45. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food by Jennifer 8. Lee
This history of Chinese restaurant food - specifically American Chinese - was really enjoyable. However, it may have made me a bit obnoxious during my last Chinese dining experience. My fellow dinners had to endure "Did you know that came from..." about fortune cookies, take out containers, General Tso's chicken and more.
46. Beijing Coma by Ma Jian
The narrator, lying in a coma, gives us flashbacks to his involvement in the Chinese student democracy movement of the late 1980s that eventually led to the Tiananmen Square protests in the spring of 1989. Sad story and one that took forever to read. I thought it was a very powerful novel but I wouldn't recommend it unless you have a real interest in China.
47. Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer
A gothic romance by Heyer that is one of the few books I've read by her that I didn't really enjoy.
48. Typhoid Mary by Anthony Bourdain
50. Lost Boy by Brent W. Jeffs
51. Lucky Girl by Mei-Ling Hopgood
52. The Ginseng Hunter by Jeff Talarigo
53. Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly
54. Larry's Kidney by Daniel Asa Rose
55. Lost Paradise: From Mutiny on the Bounty to a Modern-Day Legacy of Sexual Mayhem, the Dark Secrets of Pitcairn Island Revealed by Kathy Marks
56. The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
57. Stick Out Your Tongue by Ma Jian
58. Paper Butterfly by Diane Wei Liang
59. Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch
60. The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer