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2016-19 Activities & Challenges > PBT Decathlon—May Reporting

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message 1: by Nicole R (last edited May 01, 2018 10:45AM) (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7877 comments Please post reviews for books you read for the decathlon here and indicate which month's theme you are reading for. Also, don't forget to shelve your reads!

May: (5 points awarded) Read one book from the Man Booker shortlists for the past 10 years! (that is 2008-2017, for those bad at math). An easy to peruse list can be found on Wikipedia. Ah, Wikipedia:

Previous Months Themes: (3 points awarded)

April: Submit a list of 10 books that you are interested in reading and let the randomizer pick for you! Most of you have your books, but if you don't yet, then post your list below and I will let you know which is the lucky book!

March: read all three tags that were vote options this month (family drama, art, sexuality). Note that the tag combination corresponds to the month you read for the challenge, not the March tags! One book can count for all three, you can read three separate books, or any combination in between!

IMPORTANT FOR MARCH DECATHLON CHALLENGE: Please DO NOT report for this challenge until you have read books for all three of the tags. If you read more than one book to complete the Decathlon challenge, then please put all of the book reviews including which tag they fit in a single post! That will help me immensely!

February: read any one of the ten books listed on your Goodreads TBR that have been there the longest.

January: read something that is a tribute to our retiring administrator, Linda (Ladyslott).

Want more info on the challenge? Check out our announcement and discussion thread.

Want to double check my math? Check out the scoring spreadsheet. If you see an error, please send me a PM with the month that I am missing your score and the message number in that thread. Thanks!

message 2: by Joni (new)

Joni | 625 comments April: Randomizer

The Nurses: A Year of Secrets, Drama, and Miracles with the Heroes of the Hospital

I was hoping to get this book done and reported during the month of April, but life got in the way.

I have a little bit of nursing background.....3 years of nursing school.

In this book, the author followed 4 ER nurses for a year to get the "behind the scenes" life of a nurse. There is major drug abuse that takes place, cliques that are formed...resulting in nurses being left out & bullied. Nurses are over worked and assigned to many patients...resulting in patient care being at risk.

I could go on and on. The lives of Sam, Lara, Molly & Juliette are very interesting. Highly recommend for those that enjoy the medical career fields.

message 3: by Critterbee❇ (last edited May 02, 2018 01:32PM) (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 418 comments May Challenge:
Read one book from the Man Booker shortlists for the past 10 years!
I read A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler, shortlisted for the Man Booker in 2015. I had a pretty strong response to this book. I am also posting this in the May 'Family Drama' listing, as the book was 100% family drama.

Rating: 2 stars

Uncomfortable, that is how I felt throughout the entire book. Meh characters, not pure evil, not perfect, a few were irritating. I read the book basically to get it over with, and am surprised that the book has been so well received, honored and awarded.

Basically, it is a story of a few generations of a particular family, a regular, boring US family, with unimportant secrets, petty scheming, misplaced jealousy and resentment. The family is full of oblivious characters, and if that is the author's opinion of American families, fine, only I would rather not read about the self-inflated 'problems' of oblivious, advantaged morose sulkers. With a few exceptions, everyone is somehow upset by something that did not quite work out perfectly in their life, and rarely, if ever, recognize their own fortunate and privileged life.

Not for me.

message 4: by Robin (new)

Robin A April Randomizer
Sharp Objects. A small time news reporter is sent back home to get the scoop on two murders. She has not been back home in years. She learns more than she bargains for. 4 stars.

message 6: by Estefania (new)

Estefania (essie20) May: Man Booker shortlist

I read Exit West by Mohsin Hamid and it was even better than I expected. I had previously read an excerpt that was quite good, but upon reading the full novel, I was further impressed with Hamid’s commentary on the current migrant crisis and storytelling technique. The style of the book includes brief snapshots of other people’s lives, almost like short stories but within the scope of the novel. Overall, it was a quick and enjoyable read.

message 7: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7877 comments So glad you liked Exit West! It was one of my top 10 last year and a general crowd pleaser (though not unanimous) here on PBT!

Mindy aka serenity | 120 comments April: Randomizer

Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley
3 stars

I put this on my list many years ago because I loved McKinley's Beauty so much. This book is another retelling of Beauty and the Beast but I didn't like it as much as I liked her first crack at the story. This version focuses a great deal on developing the characters of the three sisters and the beast and castle is almost an after thought. There was a long involved tale with many sorcerers, a curse or not a curse, and a climax that seemed rushed and confusing. She goes on forever describing he process by which Beauty tries to find the beast at the end that I started to get really frustrated with the author to get on with things already. There are beautiful parts to the book but as a retelling it plays a distant second to Beauty.

message 9: by Rachel N. (last edited May 05, 2018 04:59PM) (new)

Rachel N. | 1663 comments May

Book from Man Booker short list

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders 4 stars

The story takes place over one night in February 1862 in the graveyard where Willie Lincoln has just been placed temporarily in a crypt. The graveyard is inhabited by residents of the Bardo, an in between place for spirits. The spirits need to help Willie move on because bad things happen to children if they linger in the Bardo for too long. The book is written in a very unique style. It took me a few chapters to get used to but once I caught one it was an easy read. The book alternates between residents of the Bardo and news accounts about Lincoln, many of which provide conflicting accounts. The book made me very sad, all those stuck people, but it's a worthwhile read.

message 10: by Ellen (new)

Ellen | 2403 comments May

Man Booker short list of the past 10 years

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
4 stars

Abby and Red Whitshank have been married nearly 50 years and most of that time they have lived in the beautiful home constructed by Red's father Junior. Now in their early 70's, Abby and Red are beginning to show their age and their 4 adult children are understandably concerned. Red is hard of hearing and has had a few scares with his heart; Abby has become forgetful and wanders. Stem, their youngest child, moves his entire family in with his parents to help out. Denny, the black sheep of the family, decides that he will move home as well. The living arrangement soon brings back long-standing jealousies and deeply buried secrets. A heartbreaking tragedy brings some issues to light that may not ever be resolved.

I enjoyed this story of 4 generations of the Whitshank family. While not all of the characters were exactly likable, they all played important parts in the novel.

message 11: by Idit (new)

Idit | 1028 comments May: Man Booker shortlist 2014

I read, and didn't like The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee. 2.5 stars from me

The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee

It's the story of the Ghosh family (all 16-17 of them + a servant) who live and bicker in a 4 storey house in Kolkata in the late 60s.
It is specifically the story of the grandchild Supratik, who joins a radical communist movement - the Naxalites, leaves home and
goes to help very poor farmers.

and by their existence, the Ghoshes juxtapose and highlight the lives of others, of those extremely poor people who sometime starve to death and don't have a chance for justice while others live in abundance.

I found it interesting. but didn't like it.
who knows, I might change my at some point how many stars I gave the book but at the moment I'm feeling I was forced to hang out with a bunch of people I don't really like.

message 12: by DianeMP (last edited May 08, 2018 07:51AM) (new)

DianeMP | 478 comments May: Man Booker shortlist
4 stars
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

The title of this book, The Sense of an Ending, beautifully captures the conflicting emotions we experience not the end of life, but the years leading up to that time. It’s the realization that the end is coming and a reckoning as well. It's not the leaving a house to go on vacation, it’s the sense that it’s time to start planning the departure. You become aware of the fact that you know your memory is waning and you've become forgetful. It is that stunning moment of self- awareness when we know it's not the end but the beginning of the end. I remember the first time I realized I became forgetful. It's a stunning experience. You cannot un-ring that bell. It’s a sudden and not at all subtle epiphany you are unable to do anything about. It is a time to prepare for reflection to ask questions about how well you lived your life Did you run your life or did your life run you.
When we meet the main character, Tony Webster, we find he is in the middle of asking these questions of himself. In order to reexamine a number of things he thought he had figured out, he returns to the memories of his school days to recount and reevaluate what he thought he understood all along. Finding this not to be the case, Tony must revise his perception of his own nature and his place in the world.
These questions help bring clarity to one's life a view in retrospect. Did I live a purposeful life? Or did I squander living the fullest life possible? To be able to address these questions it takes perspective, a lifetime’s worth and give it a long look backwards. The damn thing is you can't do anything about it. There are no do-overs in life. Our lives are what we create as we are living it.

message 13: by Amy (new)

Amy | 9723 comments I am about to read this one for the May Decathalon. Beautiful review Diane!

message 14: by Linda C (new)

Linda C (libladynylindac) | 1186 comments April: Randomizer

Alice's Tulips – Sandra Dallas (4 stars) 5/6/18

Alice, farmer's daughter, marries store clerk, Charlie Bullock, at 16; both falling in love at first sight. Despite Alice's hoping to get away from the farm within a year she ends up in Iowa on Charlie's home farm when he decides to join the Union Army. She and Charlie's mother have a strained relationship. The story is told in letters to her sister, Lizzie, over the next 2 and a half years. It's filled with farm stories of hard times, small town incidents and gossip, being part of a quilting bee and background on her life and town history. The drama arises when Alice is accused of murder. The story had a lot of the feel of Dallas' Persian Pickle Club. Good read.

message 15: by Barbara M (new)

Barbara M (barbara-m) | 2325 comments May: Man Booker Short List

A Spool of Blue Thread **cross-posted to the monthly tag - family drama

For some reason, this book often made me think of the very popular TV series This is Us, which I love. I think it is because of the four generations represented in the story and the switching back and forth in time periods (though not as quickly as the show).

The story starts out with Red and Abby in 1959 and moves forward at a pretty good clip, filling in bits and pieces of the history of the family, until we get to the period when Red and Abby are in their 70s and beginning to have problems. There are some health issues, Red and his heart, Abby and her wandering blank outs. Their 4 children and their families gather to help out and actually end up getting in each others way a bit. The only one unmarried is Denny, a sort of lovable, unreliable, black sheep. We learn his story and that of the two girls and younger brother Stem whose story is the last to be revealed.

The story then reverts to tell of how Red and Abby met. From there we learn how Red's parents, Linnie and Junior, met and survived the Depression. At the center of it all the house that Junior built for another family in one of the best parts of town. The family ended up owning the house and it plays a big role as the backdrop in the story.

I've read a few Anne Tyler's and have always enjoyed them. I'm lucky to have more to read still. She has memorable characters.

message 16: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jennywilliams88) | 759 comments May: Man Booker Prize nominee.

Lincoln in the Bardo - George Saunders - 3 stars

I am glad I only bought this for 99p on Kindle. I knew coming in to the book that it was full of characters, however I am completely lost when it comes to which are fictional and real (although I suspect the ones that have sources next to them are the real ones!)

I definitely enjoyed the bits with the ghost of Willie interacting with his father and other ghosts more than the bits detailing the start of the war.

I'm glad I've read the book but in my opinion it hasn't lived up to the hype I've seen on Goodreads and Litsy, but I think part of this is because I am a UK citizen and so the American Civil War is not such a major part of my country's history.

Cross-posted from the family drama tag.

message 17: by annapi (last edited May 11, 2018 11:41AM) (new)

annapi | 5211 comments Jeez, I posted in the Other books folder, but forgot to do it here!

May: Man Booker shortlist
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes - 3 stars
2011 Man Booker winner

I'm feeling lazy, so for the synopsis I'm copying a blurb: This intense novel follows a middle-aged man as he contends with a past he has never much thought about - until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance, one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present. Tony Webster thought he'd left all this behind as he built a life for himself, and by now his marriage and family and career have fallen into an amicable divorce and retirement. But he is then presented with a mysterious legacy that obliges him to reconsider a variety of things he thought he'd understood all along, and to revise his estimation of his own nature and place in the world.

It started well, rather intriguing, and mostly continued to be interesting. Then the ending got confusing, obviously deliberately, and I felt it was a bit contrived to keep the reader guessing too long. I guessed at the ending, then discarded my guess as a red herring was tossed in my path, and then found my original guess vindicated at the end.

But I found it rather anti-climactic, not as big as the build-up made it to be, and I didn't like the characters very much. It had a similar feel to Donna Tartt's The Secret History, kind of a lite version of it. Overall it was an okay read, not one I would pick up on my own, but needing it for this challenge I'm glad it was short!

message 18: by Cora (new)

Cora (corareading) | 1520 comments May: Man Booker Short List

The Fishermen - Chigozie Obioma

3 1/2 stars (rounded up on my shelf)

The Fishermen is the story of four brothers in Nigeria in the 1990s. After their father leaves to work in another city, the boys take advantage of his absence to spend time fishing at the river when they should have been studying. While at the river, a madman approaches them and predicts that one of the boys will kill the eldest brother. This prophecy sets the boys on a path that will tear apart their tight knit family.

The book reminded me of a Greek tragedy. It starts with a deathly prophecy that results in bad things happening to everyone involved. The reader knows that the events happening in the book will not end well, but still can't help but be hopeful for the young narrator. The author has stated that this book is an analogy for the history of Nigeria, it was very interesting reading it with that in mind. It was a good book over all that was a little too tragic for my reading tastes.

message 19: by Nicole D. (new)

Nicole D. | 1522 comments May Man Booker Shortlist - 2014 ... And boy do I mean short!

The Testament of Mary Colm Tóibín 5/5

The actual "book" part of this book was 70 pages then there's an authors note, and a chapter from an upcoming book, so ... if you are intimidated by the length, know it's not all story (haha.)

What a POWERFUL little book. The authors note was pretty interesting, not being a religious person I didn't realize that Mary is little more than a footnote in the bible. I found Tóibín did here absolutely brilliant.

Essentially, we get the "mother's" take on the Crucifixion of Christ. Pretty harrowing. I've not read Tóibín and I was pretty sure he was a man, but confirmed because he completely convinced me he knew what it was like to be a mother. This line pretty much nails it "...when you say that he redeemed the world, I will say that it was not worth it."

The writing was great, and I definitely want to pick up something else by him, but maybe not the Greek myth one. On the heels of reading about Achilles, I really appreciated the way Tóibín built the myth of Mary.

Great little book that I didn't even know about. Another win for Man Booker noms.

message 20: by Joni (new)

Joni | 625 comments May--Man Booker short list of the past 10 years

The Reluctant Fundamentalist ~ 4stars

What an interesting book to say the least. It reminded me of the movie The Terminal or Castaway (both with Tom Hanks). The man character has a one sided conversation. Well it's written one sided although he is clearly talking to someone seated at the cafe table with him.

Changez is from Pakistan but attended college at Princeton; took a lucrative job in New York and fell in love with a beautiful American woman. He claims to be a lover of America has he tells the gentleman at the table. But as the story goes on that really made be wonder. When 9/11 happened, Changez was working for this American firm but was traveling abroad. He hide his excitement that America had been attacked. He was happy for what he seen on TV. Then he is was highly upset with the actions that took place when America came for those whose caused the carnage. This is a sore spot for me....rightfully so since I love my country deeply. But I can/could see where someone of a different country may feel differently than I did.

Changez also was in love with a lady that he could never have. Erica liked Changez and had feelings for him, but she was also in love with a man who she could no longer have because her first love was dead. The way this story line presented itself made me believe that Changez wanted Erica the same way that Erica wanted her deceased love Chris....wanting and wanting but could never have.

I found this book very interesting and well written. Definitely not something I would have ever read, had it now been from this challenge and then recommended by my Ellen....thank you my friend.

message 21: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2112 comments May--Man Booker short list of the past 10 years

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour Joshua Ferris 3 stars but I'm not sure


message 22: by Kelly (new)

Kelly | 864 comments May - Man Booker short list

Autumn by Ali Smith

Autumn by Ali Smith

3 stars

In this novel by Ali Smith, Elisabeth Demand became friends with her elder neighbor, Daniel Gluck. He is an influence on her life. When Daniel is 101 years old and in a health care facility, Elisabeth goes to visit him. The book tells their backstory and they have a nice bond that carries forward and to me was the high point of the book. I liked how he always asks her what she is reading. The overall story is confusing at times though and Daniel's dreams are not always clear. There are some references to immigration and Britain leaving the European Union after the Brexit vote that were interesting, but overall I wished I had liked it more.

message 23: by Susie (new)

Susie May - Man Booker shortlisted in 2014

How to Be Both

4 stars

As I mentioned in someone else's review, I sometimes really love Ali Smith!! And then sometimes she leaves me feeling confused and perhaps as if I am not smart enough to understand her complex, cooky writing. I often feel as if I am missing connections. How to Be Both was Booker nominated in 2014, and I can absolutely see why. The book is in two parts, and at the beginning the reader it told that they can read it in whatever order they wish. As I was reading it in electronic form I decided to go with the conventional front to back option. I am glad that I did, as I found the first half slow going and may not have continued if it was the second half. The subject matter didn't have me compelled to read on, and I found the format hard to absorb. It tells the story of Francesco del Cossa, an Italian renaissance painter who was forced to pretend to be male so that she could work as a painter in a time when all painters were male. She finds herself in the afterlife, musing on her life while simultaneously observing a young boy. It really was hard work.

The second half was much more enjoyable. The writing was still characteristically Ali Smith, witty, weird, but immensely satisfying to me. Had I only read this section of the novel I would definitely give it a five. It tells the story of George, and young woman coming to terms with the death of her mother. George becomes obsessed with Francesco del Cossa, as her mother was, and as she is experiencing her grief the story is peppered with ties, some ambiguous, some more obvious, back to the first half (or the second depending on how you read it!) of the novel.

I feel confused and overwhelmed just writing this review! The Francesco del Cossa half gets a three from me, and the George half a five, so I have given the novel as a whole a four.

message 24: by Anna (new)

Anna | 35 comments May - Man Booker Shortlist

Autumn by Ali Smith I enjoyed reading Autumn by Ali Smith. She has a wonderfully lyrical way in which she uses words which made it a joy to read. 4 *

message 26: by JoLene (new)

JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1532 comments May Challenge - Booker Man nominee 2018
(Cross posted to May 2018 - Other books)

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
3 stars:

The central character in this book is Linda (Madeline or Mattie to different people) and much of the action centers around events that happen when she is about 14. Linda lives in a cabin with her parents in what was originally part of a commune that they were part of. Linda is a bit of a recluse, who is closer to her dogs than to folks her own age. Two big events take place that year, a new history teacher comes to town and a family with a 4 year old boy moves in across the lake from her family's cabin. The story is told in first person and does jump into the future and also describes some of the Linda's childhood.

Hum......I'm really not sure how to review this book. The descriptions, especially of nature are excellent and really create an atmosphere of isolation and desperation. There was some mystery about each of the two main plot points, but unfortunately, I didn't really see how either of the big events really affected Linda anymore than just her odd family upbringing. I felt a bit underwhelmed at the end of the book because I didn't feel like there was any type of closure. Although the quality of the writing was high, I am a bit surprised that this was on the short-list for the man booker prize (perhaps I'm missing something and could use a book club discussion to sway my opinion ;-)

message 27: by SouthWestZippy (new)

SouthWestZippy | 1053 comments May Challenge- Man Booker Shortlist 2017

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
1 star
It started off different and was drawing me in the poof, I got lost in the haunted/glass house that has random pop-up walls filled with quotes. The story was hard to follow and had little character development. This is one of those books you either get it or you don't, I didn't.

message 28: by LibraryCin (last edited May 19, 2018 10:27PM) (new)

LibraryCin | 9311 comments May: Man Booker shortlist 2009

The Little Stranger / Sarah Waters
3.75 stars

Dr. Faraday is called out to an old house (mansion?), Hundreds Hall. It’s now falling apart, but when Faraday was a child, his mother was one of the servants. Now, the house has only three inhabitants: Mrs. Ayers, and her two adult children, Roderick and Caroline. They have only two servants, young Betty and Mrs. Bazeley. As Faraday is treating various members of the family, he comes out to the house more and more. He becomes entangled in the lives of the Ayers, and the creepy old house. The old house that seems to… have a mind of its own…?

It’s not a fast paced book, but it’s very creepy in parts. There was one part close to the start that was a bit slower for me, but the rest of it, despite the slowness of it, kept me interested. Definitely creepy, though, and I quite liked the ending.

message 29: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte | 1689 comments May: Man Booker Shortlist
The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry

The book was composed of a journal/scripture of sorts, written by Roseanne who is 100 and lives in an old asylum in Ireland that is about to be demolished. In her writing she is describing her life and what she remembers to cause her to be in the asylum. The other part of the story are the notes that her psychiatrist writes while he assesses her to determine if she can be released or if she should be sent to the newly built asylum.

The book was so beautifully written!! I enjoyed the words on the page and how they were laid out but I can't say I enjoyed the story because it was just SO SAD. I felt so much sadness and so much pain while I was reading. I almost didn't want to turn the page because I didn't know if I could handle anymore but that is just me.

I think Barry laid out the story beautifully and I didn't think it was very predictable. I would definitely recommend, and I'll probably read this author again. Although, if the sad thing is his style, I'll probably bookend it with a couple of 'Happily Ever After' books.

message 30: by Barbara M (new)

Barbara M (barbara-m) | 2325 comments May: Man Booker (second book, not sure I get points for that!)

The God of Small Things Winner in 1997.
My Review:

message 31: by Hilde (new)

Hilde (hilded) | 441 comments February: 1 of 10 oldest TBR

Dagen skal komme med blå vind, by Levi Henriksen.

Cross posted to May Family Drama Tag folder

Levi Henriksen has written another novel about family secrets, brothers in conflict and the difficulties of starting over and try to find love again. The protagonist, Mikael Hildonen has reached bottom after the loss of his fiance and their unborn baby. When he becomes responsible for his thirteen-year-old niece Daniela, he must get it together and fix his own life.

The book is very slow moving, like many of Henriksen's novels. I very much enjoyed the beginning of the book, the descriptions of love and loss, hard feelings, misunderstandings and slowly getting some clarifications. We only get small clues, what has happened to make Mikael to the loner he is portrayed as?

In the middle, it started to drag quite a bit unfortunately.

But then it got better again, the last chapters were simply wonderful! A touching book about human relations. Mikaels relationship to his father, his mother and to his brother and his betrayal. I loved the descriptions of the women in this book, such strong characters.

The book makes you think, and was very well written. All in all, a good read. 3,5 stars

message 32: by Olivermagnus (new)

 Olivermagnus (lynda214) | 2465 comments May - Man Booker Shortlist - 2010

Room by Emma Donoghue Room - Emma Donoghue - 5 Stars

I avoided reading this book for a number of years because I found the whole concept so deeply disturbing. It bears some resemblance to the true story of Josef Fritzl who kept his daughter imprisoned in an underground, soundproof bunker for over twenty four years, fathering seven children by her.

Ma and five year old Jack live in a 12 x 12 room, the only one he's ever known and the story is told from his perspective. I'm not adding any more because I don't want to provide any spoilers and a summary of the plot is available on every book site.

Room is compelling and disturbing at the same time. The author did a brilliant job of exploring the story by using a narrative from Jack's perspective and not that of his mother. Through his eyes, we see the things she does to protect him. Of course this is a risk because some reader's might prefer a dual perspective, especially when the only voice is that of a five year old boy. This book is definitely not for everyone but I found it to be a masterfully written novel with uniquely believable characters.

message 33: by Anna (new)

Anna | 35 comments MAY - Man Booker Shortlist 2017

I read Autumn by Ali Smith

I gave it 4 * and here is my review.

message 34: by Kszr (new)

Kszr | 172 comments May - Man Booker Shortlist 2010

The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
3 stars

Review is here:

message 35: by Lyn (new)

Lyn (lynm) | 403 comments May

Book from Man Booker short list 2010
Room by Emma Donoghue
3 stars

I agree with Olivermagnus, this is a compelling but disturbing story. I think Donoghue made the right choice when she had Jack narrate their story, I'm not sure I could have read it had it been told in Ma's voice.

message 36: by Nicole (new)

Nicole | 451 comments May: Man Booker Short List (2010)

The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng
3 Stars.

I finished this one a couple of weeks ago and though I originally decided on a 3 Star rating, I've been thinking on the book recently and am tempted to bump it up to 4 Stars. I'm going to settle with a rounded down 3.5 I decided to pick this book for the Man Booker challenge because its on the PBT 100 Fiction list.

The Garden of Evening Mists is an interesting look into the history of Japan's invasion of Malaya (modern day Malaysia), a subject matter I knew absolutely nothing about. The book follows the path of a young girl and lone survivor of a Japanese POW camp, Yun Ling Teoh, after the war is over. While the book does center around the Japanese invasion of Malaya, its focus on events after the war allow it be truly a story of healing. How to move past the terrible wrongs that have been done without letting them destroy you. It is not a story of forgiveness but is a story of finding peace.

message 37: by Joi (new)

Joi (missjoious) | 3874 comments May: Manbooker 2015
A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
3 Stars

A "sweeping tale" of 4 generations of one family. This is a character driven novel of one family currently, and it's predecessors. This is a subtle book. I didn't love it nor hate it. Slow-moving, but definitely has insight. I can both see why people though this was boring, as well as I could see why people love it. I was smack dab in the middle.

For me the issue was a lot of the characters I just didn't care about. I really loved the "present time" cast, and hearing about them, but with so many generations, I think some of the characters were bound to get lost. My favorite story line was Linnie Mae and Junior. The era seemed so present (like you were there0, as did the setting during the present time. The middle timeline was just muddled and lost. I wished the book had gone farther into the kids- Stem and Amanda and their children. Use the "flashback" timeline to maybe show the future too. I didn't care about Merrick, and often wondered why the book was still referencing her. I get WHY we see Red's childhood- but a lot of the details and life stories were mundane and uninteresting. The story lines I liked the most had the most plot and drama- and I think that is why I was interesting in them more.

The audio was very well done. With multiple timelines jumping back and forth- everything was very clear, character voices were distinct and on point, and just a good audio in general.

message 38: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6530 comments MAY: Man Booker Short List

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
A Spool of Blue Thread – Anne Tyler – 3.5***
A family saga covering three generations of Whitshanks and the familial home that anchors their story. Tyler shines when writing about everyday life and the small dramas that make up American families. I find these characters so believable and relatable, even when their circumstances are very different from anything I’ve experienced personally.
LINK to my review

message 39: by Sushicat (new)

Sushicat | 805 comments Man Booker shortlists 2011
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt - 4 stars

The Sisters brothers are on a job for the Commodore to kill a man he accuses of theft. On their way from Oregon to the gold fields of California they cross paths with a long list of colorful characters, the encounters narrated and commented on by Eli, the younger of the two, who is disenchanted with his choice of career and longs for a quieter life. At times thoughtful or funny, this is a very enjoyable read. I'm looking forward for the upcoming movie.

message 41: by Amy (new)

Amy | 9723 comments My Decathlon Book - May 28th - The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes.

Wow! That was interesting. A really unusual reading experience. This one stays with you. I read the entire thing between late last night and this morning and in pretty much one shot. And I think that's the way this book should be read, processed, and digested. Winner of the Man Booker Prize, and I can see why.

message 42: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments May Decatholon
The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt
Review posted here:

message 43: by Mindy aka serenity (last edited May 30, 2018 05:01PM) (new)

Mindy aka serenity | 120 comments May Decathlon
Harvest by Jim Crace
Man Booker shortlist 2013
3 stars

This book is about a British village in the countryside during the medieval period. It begins and ends in fire, outlining how small things can snowball together to create a calamity in such a short amount of time. A barn is burned in the beginning, leading to the discovery of visitors of whom the fire is blamed on. Their punishment is one pillar which undoes a seemingly close-knit community of farmers and their provincial lord. A new relative arrives to claim the land for himself and with him comes suspicion, doubt, and revenge. And even though these villagers have grown up with the land for generations, everything they ever knew begins to unravel in the course of only a week.

I liked the book- it is set in medieval England, which is a period that I love. It provides an interesting perspective on provincial life by making the narrator a member of an ancient village. But at times it did lag- it got tangled in its own description and the plot stalled. It was a decent read and I'm glad I discovered a new author with this challenge.

message 44: by Chili (new)

Chili Hanson (chilipinkcat) | 119 comments May: Man Booker Shortlist
The Little Stranger 2009
Sarah Waters
3 stars

Some parts of this book were beautifully written and other parts needed serious editing. Hundreds Hall was definitely creepy and the Ayres family was strange. In the beginning, Dr. Faraday seemed like a nice guy, but by the end he was creepy and a stalker. He was obsessed with Hundreds Hall. I don't think he actually cared for Caroline, but saw her as a way to get Hundreds. Overall it was an okay read.

message 45: by Jgrace (new)

Jgrace | 3168 comments May Booker Shortlist

The Testament of Mary - Toibin
Audio performance by Meryl Streep
4 stars

This is a very sad story. It’s a very powerful piece of writing. It is a very moving, imagined, first person account of an aging Mary, mother of Jesus. (Although, If I remember correctly, neither Jesus or any of the disciples is mentioned by name.) This Mary of Nazareth is a fugitive, living in Ephesus under the protective custody of her ‘keepers’ who are presumably followers of her son. This novella records the private thoughts of a woman who is traumatized by the death of her son. She is haunted by her memories of that death. She is cynical about everything pertaining to her son’s ministry, his followers, and the events leading to his death. She understands that she is being used to further the message of his followers and that she will continue to be used after her death. This woman’s grief at her loss and her guilt at leaving her son before his final moments are more than heart wrenching. Along with that grief, she is testifying to her complete lack of power. She cannot testify to the truth of the story as she saw it. She knows her words will be distorted.

I thought this was a very interesting interpretation of a well known story. It would be thought provoking even without the excellent prose. It’s a plausible take on how events could be rewritten into a desired mythology. I knew it was not much more than a short story when I started it, but I’m still left with a wish for a more detailed account. Toibin imagined the testament that might of been given by a woman. There isn’t an actual historical record by any woman. It can only be imagined.

message 46: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7877 comments I will be tallying these up and closing this thread tomorrow afternoon! Be sure to post any last minute reviews by then!

message 47: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7877 comments Barbara wrote: "May: Man Booker (second book, not sure I get points for that!)

The God of Small Things Winner in 1997.
My Review:"

You do not get points for this, but glad you continue to read! I will shelve it though :)

message 48: by Nicole R (last edited Jun 04, 2018 12:39PM) (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7877 comments Anna wrote: "MAY - Man Booker Shortlist 2017

I read Autumn by Ali Smith

I gave it 4 * and here is my review."

Hi Anna, you already read a book for the May Decathlon challenge, so you will not get additional points, but I will shelf both of your books!

Oops! Actually, I see that you just posted it twice.

message 49: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7877 comments These have all been tallied and I am locking the thread.

Want to double check that I got yours recorded? Check out the spreadsheet at:

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