Month: March 2014

Monthly Review – March 2014

Posted March 31, 2014 by Michael Kitto in Monthly Reading / 0 Comments

middlesex

As March comes to a close it is time to look at our reading journey for the month again. This month we took a look at Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, a fascinating look into Greek heritage and intersexuality. I hope everyone has had a wonderful month of reading and had time to fit this award-winning novel into their busy schedule. Still a lot of action happening with the reading challenge as well; looks like two hundred books been added this month. For those who don’t know about the reading challenge, there is still time to join in the fun, so check out my post here.

A reminder that next month’s book will be The Magician by Levi Grossman for our fantasy theme. I haven’t read this novel before but I’ve heard good things. Marketed as Harry Potter for adults, which makes me a little worried. I’ve not read Harry Potter before but always cautious when a book is marketed to be the next of anything.

Highlights for my month’s reading included Middlesex of course but also By Blood We Live by Glen Duncan, and Alif the Unseen by G. Wilson Willow. The biggest highlight was Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, an exciting novella that surpassed all my expectations; heaps better than the movie. What have you been reading this month and what were the highlights?

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Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Posted March 30, 2014 by Michael Kitto in Book of the Month, Literary Fiction / 6 Comments

Middlesex by Jeffrey EugenidesTitle: Middlesex (Goodreads)
Author: Jeffrey Eugenides
Published: Bloomsbury, 2002
Pages: 529
Genres: Literary Fiction
Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle
(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

When Jeffrey Eugenides set out to write Middlesex he wanted to “[tell] epic events in the third person and psychosexual events in the first person”. He had decided that the voice “had to render the experience of a teenage girl and an adult man, or an adult male-identified hermaphrodite”. This was no easy task; he had to seek expert advice about intersexuality, sexology, and the formation of gender identity. His motivation came from reading the 1980 memoir Herculine Barbin and being unsatisfied by the lack of detail about intersex anatomy and his emotions.

”I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.”

If you’ve read Jeffrey Eugenides before you will know he doesn’t just stop at one issue, Middlesex is also loosely based on his life and is used to explore his Greek Heritage. While the book’s main protagonist is Cal Stephanides, Middlesex is a family saga that explores the impact of a mutated gene over three generations. Starting with Cal’s grandparents, the novel looks at their escape from the ongoing Greco-Turkish War and emigrating from Smyrna in Asia Minor to the United States. This section has similar themes to most immigration stories, looking at Greek and US culture in the 1920’s as well as their efforts to assimilate into American society. However this is overshadowed by the fact that Cal’s grandparents are also brother and sister.

Middlesex continues to follow the Stephanides family through the story of Cal’s parents and eventually his life. While the reader gets glimpses of Cal’s life throughout the novel, the last part is where we really explore how the 5-alpha-reductase deficiency (a recessive condition that caused him to be born with female characteristics) impacted his life. While I got the impression that this was the main focus of the novel and to some extent it is, I was expecting to explore the struggle and emotions behind his condition to a greater extent.

Jeffrey Eugenides has a lot going on his novels and you really need to be a literary critic to enjoy Middlesex to the full extent. I love Eugenides because he is too smart for his own good, on a basic level you can enjoy his novels but there is so much going on underneath that rereading is almost essential. Middlesex is a family saga but there are elements of romance, history, coming of age and, because of his Greek heritage, tragicomedy. You could spend hours exploring the hysterical realism and metafictional aspects from this book. For example; does Cal’s condition have any bearing on where he is narrating this novel from? Berlin, a city that also was divided into two (East and West). Also, why does the narrative style switch between first and third person? Some parts of the story are told in first person but Cal would never have been able to recount what happened in that kind of detail. Is this to evoke confusion within the reader, forcing them to just feel a fraction of what Cal must be feeling?

This is an incredibly complex novel and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of what Jeffrey Eugenides has done. This is in fact the third of his novels I’ve read and sadly that is all of them for now. While I did enjoy Middlesex I found more joy from The Virgin Suicides (which deals with suicide) and The Marriage Plot (dealing with mental illness). I really appreciate the themes Eugenides explores and the complexities of his novels, but personal opinion is going against the norm here. Middlesex is probably his most recognised novel; it even won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Don’t let the complexity of Middlesex put you off reading this fantastic novel; sure, there is a lot there but it still worth picking up. You can spend as much time as you want exploring its depths but in the end you’ll come away with something. It is a compelling read that will stay with you well after finishing it. This is the perfect type of novel to pick up for a book club.


The Black-Eyed Blonde by Benjamin Black

Posted March 28, 2014 by Michael Kitto in Pulp / 6 Comments

The Black-Eyed Blonde by Benjamin BlackTitle: The Black-Eyed Blonde (Goodreads)
Author: Benjamin Black
Series: Philip Marlowe #10
Published: Mantle, 2014
Pages: 256
Genres: Pulp
My Copy: ARC from Netgalley

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle
(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Resurrecting iconic literary characters is tricky business and when John Banville (under the pseudonym Benjamin Black) signed on to write another Philip Marlowe novel, I was worried. Most people know I am a huge fan of Marlowe, the hard-boiled detective created by Raymond Chandler, but something in me had to know if The Black-Eyed Blonde was any good. Now I’m left to decide if to review this as a Philip Marlowe novel or cliché pulp.

The premise is simple; a blonde bombshell, Clare Cavendish, seeks out Marlowe to find her missing lover Nico Peterson. If we look at the tropes of pulp fiction, in particular hard-boiled detective novels than we must suspect Clare to be the femme fatale and the case would be full of unexpected twists and turns. In both aspects The Black-Eyed Blonde failed to deliver anything interesting; Clare was attractive and seductive but never really had an air of mystery about her and the case felt too cut and dry.

Now let’s look at the protagonist; clearly not Philip Marlowe but someone trying to impersonate this great detective. Marlowe is a modern day knight in shiny armour; in a world of corruption he is incorruptible. He is also a flawed character; Raymond Chandler’s Marlowe is a loner, bitter, cynical, quick witted with a silver tongue. The Marlowe portrayed here was a much older, slower babbling mess; nothing really rang true. You can look at the amount of alcohol Chandler’s Marlowe drinks and wonder just how a man can function but in this novel while he drank a lot, the Mexican beers don’t sit right. Also you have to wonder about the dialogue; the Marlowe in The Black-Eyed Blonde talked differently, I tried to place the way he spoke and all I could think was this character was from Brooklyn.

Since nothing in this book felt like a Philip Marlowe novel, I tried to read The Black-Eyed Blonde in the same way I would read any other pulp. I tried to separate my love of Philip Marlowe and Raymond Chandler’s writing to give a fair review but it is hard to separate the two. Even if I judge The Black-Eyed Blonde as a standalone novel I still feel like the whole thing was a bit flat. There are some decent moments in this book and I was mildly entertained, however I doubt I will ever read a Benjamin Black novel again based on this experience.

I really want to see more Philip Marlowe stories but everyone who attempts it seems to butcher the character. The Black-Eyed Blonde was better than Perchance to Dream but the bar was set so low that I think Benjamin Black must have tripped over it. Do yourself a favour; stick to Raymond Chandler. If you’ve never read a Philip Marlowe novel start with The Lady in the Lake, it is a good introduction to the character and the style without being overly complex. For me, I may just reread the series (an excuse to blog about them) and try Chandler’s short stories.


By Blood We Live by Glen Duncan

Posted March 26, 2014 by Michael Kitto in Horror, Literary Fiction / 4 Comments

By Blood We Live by Glen DuncanTitle: By Blood We Live (Goodreads)
Author: Glen Duncan
Series: Bloodlines #3
Published: Knopf Doubleday, 2014
Pages: 368
Genres: Horror, Literary Fiction
My Copy: Hardcover

Buy: AmazonBook Depository
(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

It’s a sad day for me; Glen Duncan’s Bloodlines trilogy has finally come to an end. This series has been a favourite of mine and I have been desperate to get my hands on By Blood We Live. If you don’t know, this trilogy started off as a bit of a joke for Glen Duncan. One New Year’s Eve party he jokingly claimed that he would write a page-turner with werewolves, and “none of my usual philosophical angst or moral inquiry.” Having recently been dumped from a publisher (he had no best sellers and had won no awards) the move towards literary genre fiction was a recipe for success for Duncan.

In the early planning stages, Glen Duncan had planned to write a “clever narrative with a memorable antihero at its feral, furry heart”. Being disappointed by the recent wave of popular paranormal novels (Twilight, etc) Duncan drew from the horror novels he loved (Frankenstein and Dracula) as well as his favourite werewolf movie (An American Werewolf in London); the end result was The Last Werewolf. It was Duncan’s take on the werewolf novel; remaining true to the mythology, unlike other paranormal novel The Last Werewolf was gritty, violent and over sexed. Jake Marlowe is the last werewolf alive, with the pending extinction of his new race, will he give up? The novel was nothing like other horror novels I read, this was dark and literary.

Then came Talulla Rising, which continued the story, this time from the point of view of Talulla Demetriou; a strong female protagonist that both kick-assed and was full of inner torment (my catnip). Where The Last Werewolf looked at life and loneliness, Talulla Rising forced more on love and family. It has been a two year wait but finally By Blood We Live was finally released to conclude this fantastic trilogy.

In By Blood We Live we follow both Remshi, 20,000-year-old vampire that has been haunted by Talulla in his dreams. Having half the novel from a vampires perspective is an interesting change for fans of the series. This novel focuses on survival and humanity, which are both common elements in a paranormal novel but a nice way to tie this trilogy together. Talulla is been pursued by a Vatican-based Militi Christian group of monster hunters who have taking the place of the now defunct WOCOP (World Organisation for the Control of Occult Phenomena).  Remshi tries to uncover why Talulla haunts him as well as trying to stop the recklessness of a newly turned vampire.

While I wasn’t disappointed by By Blood We Live, I felt like this book wasn’t as great as its predecessors. It did conclude the trilogy and there were some great moments within the novel, I just felt like it had less to say than the first two. The literary wasn’t as prominent, almost like Glen Duncan is moving into the realm of best-selling author. While he does deserve the success, I would hate to see Duncan throw away any sign of the literary in his future novels. Rest assured that the dark and gritty feel to this series is still there. Something I must have looked in the first two novels was the amount of literary and pop culture references have been made; I know they were always in this series but I noticed them so much more in this novel.

I loved this series and I plan to reread them sometime in the near future; I know I’ll need to return to these witty and dark novels. I also have to try some of his other books, I know he said he wasn’t going to add his “usual philosophical angst or moral inquiry”, but I’m so glad he did, it really works for him. I hope Glen Duncan continues on his literary genre fiction journey and I’m eagerly awaiting what he does next. Has anyone else read this series? Or does anyone want to try to predict what genres his next book will cover?


Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Bookish Bucket List

Posted March 25, 2014 by Michael Kitto in Top Ten Tuesday / 12 Comments

toptentuesdayIt’s Tuesday again which means time for another round of Top Ten Tuesday; I like joining in on this meme because I have a set topic to work with. Top Ten Tuesday is a book blogger meme that is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and this week the theme is: Books on my Bookish Bucket List. These are books I plan to read to increase my pretentious levels but feel like I need to become a better reader first.

  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  • Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  • Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
  • In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
  • Middlemarch by George Eliot

  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • The Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer
  • The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño
  • Underworld by Don DeLillo

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

Posted March 23, 2014 by Michael Kitto in Fantasy / 0 Comments

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow WilsonTitle: Alif the Unseen (Goodreads)
Author: G. Willow Wilson
Narrator: Sanjiv Jhaveri
Published: Allen & Unwin, 2012
Pages: 433
Genres: Fantasy
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle
(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Alif is the online persona of a grey hat working in the United Arab Emirates, taken from the first letter in the Arabic alphabet. Alif is a 23 year old Arab/Indian, working in internet security who fell in love with an Arab aristocratic woman he met online. Their relationship is doomed from the start; her family would never accept someone outside her social class, let alone an Indian. Her father has already arranged a more suitable suitor for her; a mysterious and powerful man who is known online as ‘the Hand’, the states leading internet censor. In an attempt to get the girl, Alif has made a powerful enemy, one that forces him to go underground into the world of Jinn’s (genies), ghouls, demons and all the others that remain unseen.

Debut author G. Willow Wilson set out to write a book that can bring her three loves together. A love of comic books and all things geeky, as well as her love of literary fiction and that of her Muslim heritage. The result is Alif the Unseen, a rich blend of cyberpunk and urban fantasy that explores the Arabic culture as well as looks as many social-political issues. Personally I think Wilson set out to expose the bias that the online community has no social consciousness, and educate the world on Muslim culture as well as explore the societal impact of hackivism.

I picked up this novel because G. Willow Wilson is the writer behind the new Ms. Marvel; the fourth character to take on this superhero and is the first Muslim character to have their own Marvel series. After reading the first issue, I wanted to check out Alif the Unseen. I knew it was a cyberpunk/urban fantasy blend but now I expected a strong Arabic or Muslim presence. I didn’t except a literary approach to this genre, but I was pleasantly surprised, Wilson has a lot to say on the Middle East social-politically speaking but also she educates the reader on a culture that is possibly unfamiliar to them.

G. Willow Wilson also takes on Middle Eastern folklore and myths and blends these fables with a religious element. Take jinn for example, we know them as genies but Islamic belief divides sentient beings into three categories. These are Malayka (angels), Nas or Banu Adam (human) and Jinn (the hidden ones). Angels are genderless and have no free will, but humans and Jinn’s are gendered and have free will, this is why Islamics believe Satan was a Jinn and not an angel, as it is impossible for an angel to disobey the will of God. Also playing a role in the story is the hamsa (or the hand of Fatima) which is like a good luck charm in Islamic culture. In the Judeo-Christian world this is often called the hand of Mary or Miriam.

I also want to talk about hackivism. In this novel Alif lives in a heavily censored world; the government believes in having a tight control on what is on the internet. Alif is a grey hat; this is a hacker that doesn’t work for a cooperation of the government.  The term comes from the old western metaphor where the good guys wore white hats and the villains had black hats. A grey hat would be someone whose activities and practices fell in a grey area. For Alif, it was a matter of free speech (and possibly money). He provided security for enemies of the Arad stats, militant Islamists and even pornographers. Sites that the government wants to shut down often turned to Alif or another grey hat for internet security.

I can probably go on and talk more about the range of topics that are going on in Alif the Unseen, but I fear I don’t have the knowledge of Middle Eastern folklore or culture, Islam and hackivism. One of the things I enjoy most about reading is the ability to explore different cultures and learn about the world. Alif the Unseen took me into the rich world of the United Arab Emirates and looked at many social issues, in particular class and religion. I’m not much of a fantasy reader but I do seem to prefer urban fantasy, add in the cyberpunk and literary elements and I’m happy. Alif the Unseen will entertain and educate all its readers; most people will just read it for the entertainment but I hope they take a little understanding with them.


The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris

Posted March 22, 2014 by Michael Kitto in Fantasy / 2 Comments

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. HarrisTitle: The Gospel of Loki (Goodreads)
Author: Joanne Harris
Narrator: Allan Corduner
Published: Hachette, 2014
Pages: 302
Genres: Fantasy
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook Depository
(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

If you’ve been on the internet (especially Tumblr) in the last few years, chances are that you would know who Loki is. Popularised by Marvel Comics and the recent Thor movies Loki is originally found in Norse mythology. Joanne Harris, best known for novels like Chocolat and Five Quarters of the Orange, tries her hand at fantasy under the name Joanne M. Harris. The Gospel of Loki follows the story of the trickster god, Loki, from his recruitment by Odin from the realm of Chaos to become a Norse god.

“Loki, that’s me.

Loki, the Light-Bringer, the misunderstood, the elusive, the handsome and modest hero of this particular tissue of lies. Take it with a pinch of salt, but it’s at least as true as the official version, and, dare I say it, more entertaining.

So far, history, such as it is, has cast me in a rather unflattering role.

Now it’s my turn to take the stage.”

Told from the perspective of Loki, The Gospel of Loki starts off in a playful tone as you can see by the above text. This tone continues throughout the novel, keeping a light and entertaining look at the ultimate trickster. Joanne Harris picked a challenging topic to tackle for her first attempt in Fantasy. Trying to get the balance between the Norse mythology and the popular conceptions as told by Marvel would be problematic. I don’t pretend to know much about the mythology and possibly less about the Marvel comics but I think Harris captured the character really well. We can debate whether Marvel follows the mythology or not but what I got in this novel was the mischievous, unreliable, jokester that I expect from Loki.

To play devil’s advocate, I must point to the title of this novel, The Gospel of Loki. The word gospel suggests that this is the unquestionable truth of Loki’s life, a first-hand account of what happened. Loki is an unreliable character and since he is often known as a lying, manipulative, demon-born anti-hero, the only source of truth (or as close as allowed) can only come in first person. My problem would be the modern tone of the whole novel; the mythology was formed hundreds of years ago, so I expected the language to be different. I expected the writing to feel dated, something Fantasy does really well but this novel felt like it was set in current times.

Overall this is an entertaining novel that explores the mythology of Loki in an interesting way. While each chapter seems to be a little story that interconnects with the overall plot, it also gives glimpses into Loki’s character. You get an in-depth look into Loki, learning about his story and life lessons. With such detail into the primary character, it’s a little sad to see that all the other characters were so flat, especially his adoptive brother Thor. Then again, Loki is so narcissistic that going into details about everyone else would feel a fake.

I’m of two minds with this novel, on one hand I think Harris did a great job in giving me a brief (but unofficial) look into the life of Loki. Everything I’ve read of hers I’ve liked and for a fantasy novel, The Gospel of Loki worked really well. Then again, this was a fantasy novel and I often struggle with them, but I think this was far too modern which stopped the story from ringing true. I have to wonder what someone with a detailed knowledge of Loki, the Norse god or Marvel super villain thinks of this book.


War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Posted March 20, 2014 by Michael Kitto in Classic / 2 Comments

War and Peace by Leo TolstoyTitle: War and Peace (Goodreads)
Author: Leo Tolstoy
Translator: Aylmer Maude, Louise Maude
Published: Oxford World's Classics, 1869
Pages: 1392
Genres: Classic
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle
(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

When people thing of big books often War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy is mentioned. This Russian classic depicts the French invasion of Russia in 1812. True to Tolstoy form, War and Peace also looks at classes and the impact of the Napoleonic invasion on the Tsarist society. While this book can be considered an epic historical war novel, for me this was a work of philosophical ideas. This is one of the hardest books to review, not because I have nothing to say but rather there is so much to cover and I have no idea where to start.

Just to put things into perspective, I started this book in October and have been slowly chipping away at it for four months. It is a hard battle and you really need to take your time with a book like this because Tolstoy has a lot to say. This is the kind of book that feels like you‘ve climbed a mountain when you finally finish and you can just feel your pretentious levels rising. For those interested, I read the Oxford World’s Classics edition which has the translations by Aylmer and Louise Maude. Many people debate on which translation is the best but I thought going with an Oxford World’s Classics would be a safe bet; I love this publisher and know I’m always getting a decent copy of the book.

Right off the bat you are flung into this world and you meet so many people. Tolstoy has an amazing ability to give the reader a sense of a person with a few lines, so even the minor characters in this book get some sort of personality. There are hundreds (over 500) characters within War and Peace and I often found it difficult to keep up with them all but thanks to Leo Tolstoy’s writing ability I could relax a little because even if I forgot about a character, when they reappear further in the book I still had a sense of who they are. This is possible due to the way this book was originally written and I will talk more on that later.

Most of the major characters within War and Peace are members of the aristocracy and it is interesting to see them all fighting for a higher position in society, government or the military. People like Boris rise in society while others like the Rostov fall, Dolokhov gets demoted while Pierre plots an assassination. Not only do we have the Napoleonic war happening within these pages, a battle for social standing rages through this novel. It is all about power but paradoxically the people with the most power within this book are the ones that seem to give up control.

If you don’t have the knowledge of Russian or Napoleonic history, this novel accommodates the reader. I found myself at times looking up information about the history just to satisfy my curiosity but as the book progressed, my research subsided. It is in Leo Tolstoy’s style to give you as much information as possible, this does make the book longer but for me I think it was a huge bonus. But you must realise this is a work of fiction and most of the people are fictional. Tolstoy was telling a story of the invasion and the harsh nature of war. You can even look at the second epilogue and read more of the authors thoughts on the subject and the philosophical ideas held within this book.

War and Peace was originally serialised in the literary magazine The Russian Messenger between 1865 and 1867. This magazine plays host to many of Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novels. This means that originally people read War and Peace over the course of three years. This means at times the novel may feel repetitive and covering plot points done before but this is just a result of the original format. It comes in handy with characters as they are reintroduced and because I took my time reading this classic, it became a vital part.

There is so much going on within War and Peace and it took me a long time trying to work out what I wanted to say and what to leave out. This is the kind of book that needs to be revisited in the future, Tolstoy has a lot to say and I’m interested in exploring the themes. I loved this book; it is a roller-coaster of emotions and philosophical ideas. I’ve only scratched the surface of what is happening in this novel and then wrote a small amount of what I discovered. I can’t imagine ever being able to fully understand the brilliance of Tolstoy and War and Peace. For me, Fyodor Dostoevsky is a better writer but Leo Tolstoy has a unique ability to capture the lives of everyone involved in one war.


Top Ten Tuesday: On My Autumn 2014 TBR List

Posted March 18, 2014 by Michael Kitto in Top Ten Tuesday / 10 Comments

toptentuesdayIt’s Tuesday again which means time for another round of Top Ten Tuesday; I like joining in on this meme because I have a set topic to work with. Top Ten Tuesday is a book blogger meme that is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and this week the theme is: On My Autumn 2014 TBR List. I’m not sure if I’ll get to all these books; I’m sure others will get in the way but here are ten books I plan to read over the next few months.

  • Equilateral by Ken Kalfus
  • Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Ransom by David Malouf
  • Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh
  • The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit
  • The Yellow Papers by Dominique Wilson

Abandoning The Luminaries

Posted March 15, 2014 by Michael Kitto in Historical Fiction / 13 Comments

The LuminariesRecently The Readers (which is a fantastic podcast) did an episode on when you have to finish a book. This has got me thinking a lot as I was reading a book for book club that I wasn’t enjoying. I feel like I need to finish a book in order to participate in the discussion but this particular book was over 800 pages and after 200 pages I was ready to throw in the towel. The book was The Luminaries and I have now abandoned the book, but I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about the book, and the need to finish or abandon a book.

By all accounts, I should have loved The Luminaries; it has murder, mystery and it is a detective story cleverly disguised as literary fiction. Eleanor Catton is a talented writer and there is no denying that, the proses in The Luminaries are spectacular but some will argue that the words don’t match the time period. For me the problem with this novel is the believability and the fact that it takes too long to say what it needs to say. For the very start it felt repetitive, Walter Moody was introduced as a person on the run, trying to find his own fortune. Moody had brought shame to his family, but doesn’t want to go into the details; this takes up about 40 pages of the book. I felt like this wasn’t building mystery or developing the character, it just went around and around in circles.

As for the believability I first need to talk about my life. I was raised in a small mining town called Charters Towers. In the 1870s, this town was attracting prospectors from all over the world, so much so that it was the second biggest city in Queensland at the time. During the gold rush Charters Towers produced over 200 tonnes of gold from 1871–1917. The history of Charters Towers felt nothing like Hokitika 1866 from the book. The miners in this novel are nothing like my experience of miners (or others involved in the goldrush), the book lacked the drinking to access, over use of swearing, constantly fighting and over playing Cold Chisel. The Gold rush should be a dark and violent time but The Luminaries was based around twelve people that do nothing but talk.

The Luminaries won the Man Booker Prize in 2013 and my experience doesn’t match that of the people that have finished the book. General consensus seems to be that this book gets really good at page 600. I have to wonder if it is worth pushing through 600 pages for 200 pages of greatness. Big books always scare me and I was reading War and Peace at the same time, so I had an amazing book running alongside a book that wasn’t working for me. I wanted to finish this book for book club but in the end, there are too many books to read and left this book with 600 pages to go.

I’ve never really been good at abandoning books and I really felt like I had to finish this book but in the end it wasn’t working and The Dark Path by David Schickler was calling me. Have you ever felt that you had to finish a book? Normally I feel that I have to finish a book club book. This is the first one I abandoned; I love to hate a book but 800 pages is a big investment. Also when it comes to abandoning books, do you have a set page count you give a book to impress you? Have you ever considered writing a review of a book you abandoned? I would love to hear your thoughts on when you have to finish a book or abandon it.