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Carried away and now counting the cost

It is not a good idea at 5am on a Sunday morning to begin browsing the Net Galley catalogue of titles available for review. Of course that only became apparent a few weeks later when the request approvals began coming through and I realised a) how many I had requested b) how much reading I would need to do between now and mid November.

I’m not complaining however. Having the ability to read books by authors I enjoy or to explore writers I’m not familiar with, is part of the pleasure of the Net Galley program. I don’t always get around to reading everything but if I do read the title, then I make sure to write a review. It seems a fair deal to me.

Awaiting me are the following:

The secret chordThe Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks: this is one I’m not entirely sue about. I enjoyed her novel Year of Wonders which is about a village in the Peak District in England which seals itself off from the world to prevent the spread of the plague. I know she does extensive research into her chosen periods to ensure her novels sound authentic. It’s really that I don’t know whether the subject matter of The Secret Chord, the life of King David from humble shepherd to despotic king,  is to my taste given I have little interest in religious history. But I could be pleasantly surprised and at least I will learn something in the process of reading.

man tigerMan Tiger by Eka Kurniawan is a wild card choice for me. Kurniawan has been named as a rising star from Indonesia and compared (favourably) to Salman Rushdie and Gabriel García Márquez. Her latest novel, set in an unnamed town near the Indian Ocean,  tells the story of two interlinked and tormented families, and of Margio, an ordinary half-city, half-rural youngster who also happens to be half-man, half-supernatural female white tiger.

the dictators last nightThe Dictator’s Last Night by Yasmina Khadra

I must be one of the few people on the planet yet to read Khadra’s best selling Swallows of Kabul (ok, a bit of an exaggeration I know). I do have it in the bookshelves, just haven’t got around to it yet. The Dictator’s Last Night sounded too good to miss however. It’s focus is a figure whose name has long been associated with authoritarian political leadership and abuse of human rights: the former Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi. Khadra imagines the leader hiding out in his home town in the dying days of the Libyan civilc war. As he awaits a convey to take him and his advisors out of the danger zone, he reflects on his life, his animosity towards the West and the ingratitude of his fellow countrymen.

the little red chairsThe Little Red Chairs by Edna O’brien: She may be in her 80s now but Edna O’Brien is giving no sign she’s ready to throw in the writing towel. When her memoir The Country Girl came out a few years ago there was much speculation it would be her last published work. She’s proved everyone wrong with The Little Red Chairs, a story of the consequences of a fatal attraction. A war criminal on the run from the Balkans settles in a small Irish community where he pretends to be a faith healer. The community fall under his spell but he proves to be fatally attractive to one local woman in particular.

Paris NocturneParis Nocturne by Patrick Modiano: How could I possibly resist a noir work from the Nobel Laureate? Especially given that atmospheric cover….

This novel begins with a nighttime accident on the streets of Paris. An unnamed narrator is hit by a car whose driver he vaguely recalls having met before and then experiences a series of mysterious events. They culminate  with an envelope stuffed full of bank notes being stuffed into his hand. Libération called this book “perfect” while L’Express described it as “cloaked in darkness, but it is a novel that is turned toward the light.”

the japanese loverAnd finally I have The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende. It’s fair to say that I have not yet warmed to Allende. But she has a huge following and a friend keeps raving about her  so I thought she deserved another chance.  As the title suggests this is a romance. In it we see a young Polish girl meet in San Fransisco and fall in love with the Japanese man employed as the family’s gardner. Their relationship is tested when in the aftermath of Pearl Harbour, Japanese residents in the US are rounded up and sent to internment camps. Fast forward to modern day San Francisco and the secrets of a passion lasting seventy years are revealed.

Any of these books appeal to you? or maybe you’ve already read some of them?

BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

54 thoughts on “Carried away and now counting the cost

  • I pretty much stay clear of NetGalley for fear of doing what you have just done! I hope you enjoy them all!

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  • Well I downloaded The Lost Chord from NetGalley this morning, and am looking forward to it. And from your lists, the Edna O Brian and the Modiano sound interesting – but I’ve also got a David Mitchell waiting, I’m teasing myself with that one for a no-rush, prepare to slowly immerse and avoid other distractions read.

    Is that webinar still available, or are they ‘at the time’ only

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    • If yiu joined the Net Galley Challenge you can see the webinar on that part pf the site I think

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  • I know exactly what you mean! I’ve been really good about NetGalley until recently when I ended up with a trilogy plus the new Atwood! Thankfully the trilogy is a quick read and I will devour the Atwood!

    I’ve loved what I have read of Brooks so I might check this one out at some point.

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    • I was reading Stephanie’s comment on the So Many Books blog about the Attwood and how it was started as a serial issued in e format for a few months and then stopped….

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      • Oh that’s interesting. I’ll have to look into that. So far I’ve stayed away from the serialized ones.

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  • I used to request way too many books from NetGalley too. It became a bit of a mess. I haven’t requested anything for a while, though, trying to work on my TBR pile.

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    • I had paused too on Net Galley which I suppose is one reason why, when I did go back into it, I got a bit carried away. Good luck with the TBR – it takes a lot of determined effort it seems

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  • Looks like a great list! I just started using the library more and I do the same thing with that! I place way more ‘holds’ than I can read in the given time by the time they arrive! However, being on the Board of Trustees does have its benefits–no fines or fees! YAY! Though if someone else wants it, then I return it anyway… Ooohhh…the Khadra and Allende! Swallows of Kabul I’ve not read yet, maybe yet another library request? 🙂

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    • Library holds is another confession for me Lynn. Since the library system here made their reservation system available on line its very easy to ‘just take a look at what’s new’ and then end up with multiple books coming through at the same time

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  • I can go rather mad on Netgalley too. I often think when requesting that well it’s okay they won’t all accept. Yet I have had very few that haven’t accepted me! I hope you enjoy your new books.

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    • Ive had a few turned down but generally accepted. Did you join the webinar they organised a few weeks ago to help you be mor effective when requesting? I didnt realise they paid close attention to the % of books that you read versus request. Apparently it should be around 80%. Mine has gone down to 60%

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      • I didn’t join the webinar, but I did know they did recommend a review percentage of 80%. Mine is about 70% so I am happy with that.

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        • the funny thing is that the person delivering the webinar admitted her % was about 40….

  • I haven’t read any of these, but they all sound good. I can’t wait to hear about them. 🙂

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    • Ah well you may need to wait a while since its going to take me many weeks to read them

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  • You have some fantastic choices here and like you despite having had a couple of crises moments I do love NetGalley. I passed on The Secret Chord despite The Year of Wonders being a favourite book of mine, because of the subject matter – of course that means I will be looking out for the reviews to see if I made the right choice!

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    • It should be the next book I read but I’m being a coward and going for Edna O’Brien instead (maybe …. too many decisions)

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  • The Modiano sounds excellent…and I agree, that cover is very appealing.

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  • I am really looking forward to the Secret Chord – thankfully that’s the only ARC on your list that I have. I love Allende and I am excited to read her newest. Though I do agree, there is a big difference in the books set in America vs in Chile. If you’re in the mood for a cry I highly recommend reading Paula – she wrote it to her daughter as she was dying. I am looking forward to your reviews of these!

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    • Paula sounds like a book I should avoid taking on a flight where my emotional level always seems to be higher than when on the ground

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  • I think all the books you are thinking about sound good. I want to explore Netgalley. Everyone seems to talk about it and I know nothing about it. Time to step up, huh?!

    My Sunday Salon

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    • As you can tell from my experience – and from some of the other contributors here – it can be ‘dangerous’. But it certainly gives you an ability to read very current books without spending a lot

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  • All of your titles sound appealing to me, particularly Man Tiger. I’m really curious to read reviews of Geraldine Brooks’ and Isabel Allende’s latest. I agree with other commenters that Allende’s earlier novels seem a little stronger. House of Spirits is one of my favorite books. (The star-studded movie version that was made is really good, too, in case you are looking for a little breather between your reading.)

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    • I didnt know there was a film of House of Spirits, Could be one for the Christmas wish list…..

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  • How fun that you have The Secret Chord, too! I loved her novel Year of Wonders, but somehow I was offended by March. Isn’t that weird? I just thought it was terribly presumptuous of Geraldine Brooks to take on the father of Little Women, and when she had him enter a brothel, I couldn’t read anymore. So, we’ll see what she does with King David, who surely had a few issues of his own with Bath Sheba. But, at least the Bible tells of his errors, they aren’t made up at the whim of some author.

    I disliked The Japanese Lover so much I didn’t finish that, either. Normally, I’ve loved Isabel Allende’s work, particularly The House of Spirits, but the Japanese Lover never took off for me…I felt like I was wandering around in a world of description with no point to it, as I was still halfway into the book.

    But, I look forward to your thoughts on both books. xo

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    • I’m not keen on the cover art for The Japanese Lover – its the kind of book that if I didnt know the author’s name I would never pick up. Hope I get on with it better than you did Bellezza

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  • That did in fact happen just recently when I waited for two months for a response

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  • Dolly Youssef

    I love Geraldine Brooks’ writing and plan to read The Secret Chord.

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    • seems like a lot of people are interested in that one…. will be interesting to see how our reactions compare

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    • she seems to have quite a fan club judging by the number of people saying they will be reading this

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  • I love Edna O’Brien…I still need to catch up on that last memoir of hers, so thanks for reminding me! And letting me know about a new novel…

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  • NetGalley’s dangerous – I try not to keep clicking and requesting, and I don’t want to think of how many books there are waiting on the device. Having said that, Patrick Modiano……..!

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    • The lag time from some publishers between requesting and being approved doesn’t help either. Sometimes you request, don’t hear anything for months and then are approved the week before. That sort of timing guarantees that you will be behind.

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        • I’ve found the team at Net Galley extremely helpful when I’ve had that experience. I don’t do it often, only for those titles which I am dead keen to read but haven’t heard about re my request. A gentle nudge from team NetGalley to the publishers usually brings a result (sometimes a no but at least its a response)

  • I loved Geraldine Brooks Years of Wonder and People of the Book (March I was slightly underwhelmed by). So I am interested in what The Secret Chord might be like. I do love the idea of the Edna O’Brien too.

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    • i have such a dislike of Little Women that March doesn’t hold any interest for me. Caleb’s Crossing is another one of hers isn’t it?

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  • I have The Japanese Lover in my list. I like how to write Allende, and I thing the plot of this novel is very interesting: love in the old age.

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    • Collecting is a good way to describe my recent experience

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  • That makes two on the Swallows of Kabul.
    Of the lot, the Modiano has the most appeal.

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        • I looked at it a couple of times but couldn’t find anything that really interested me and the site wasn’t as easy to use as net galley so I haven’t returned for a year or so. Do you use it?

  • I have The Japanese Lover and I’m a big fan of Allende although she can be uneven (same with Geraldine Brooks). I highly recommend Allende’s earliest books, Eva Luna and The House of the Spirits. I haven’t enjoyed her U.S. based books quite as much. I agree it’s easy to overdo on Netgalley. I try to limit myself to authors I know I really want to read.

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    • Ah now i didnt even realise there was such a difference between her earlier works and the later output. House of Spirits is one title that does seem to get mentioned a lot.

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  • Ooh any of those you fancy reviewing for Shiny? They all sound very intriguing.

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    • How about Edna O’Brien? She deserves some more attention….

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      • Yes, please! I’ll write you onto the spreadsheet this minute!

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