BRITISH AUTHOR CHALLENGE OCTOBER 2015 - DUNMORE & MITCHELL

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BRITISH AUTHOR CHALLENGE OCTOBER 2015 - DUNMORE & MITCHELL

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1PaulCranswick
Oct 1, 2015, 12:17am

Helen Dunmore -
Yorkshire born like myself, Helen Dunmore was the inaugural winner of the Women's Prize in 1996 for A Spell in Winter. Regarded as a very versatile writer she has published thirteen adult novels, poetry and children's literature.

2PaulCranswick
Editado: Oct 1, 2015, 12:32am

David Mitchell -

A War of the Roses battle this month. Mitchell was born in Southport in Merseyside (previously Lancashire) and spent 8 years teaching in Japan. This influence is clear in his writing and he is sort of a British Murakami if there is such a thing. Six novels all lauded are available to the group in October.

3PaulCranswick
Editado: Oct 1, 2015, 12:36am

David Mitchell has a website and reference to it reveals the release of a new novel this month! Slade House.

This is the link to his website and the section on his books:

http://www.davidmitchellbooks.com/books/

4PaulCranswick
Editado: Oct 1, 2015, 12:34am

Helen Dunmore maintains her own very informative website. These are her novels listed therein:

http://www.helendunmore.com/novels.asp

5PaulCranswick
Editado: Oct 1, 2015, 12:48am

What I will read:

Helen Dunmore

I have read her first two novels and liked the second one especially. I am planning to read The Siege which had been nominated for the Orange Prize and the Whitbread Prize but won neither.



David Mitchell
I loved the first 2/3rds of Ghostwritten and will probably read his second novel number9dream which was Booker nominated.

6avatiakh
Oct 1, 2015, 3:29am

If I get time I'd love to finish Dunmore's YA Ingo series, there's five books and I have the last two to go. They're based on Cornish folklore about mermaids and quite compelling.

7laytonwoman3rd
Oct 1, 2015, 8:23am

I have my copy of A Spell of Winter right here in front of me. (I was thrilled that I was able to locate it!) I think it's exactly what I'm in the mood for, as well. Although, I have not finished last month's Rushdie, I hope to get through both of these Brits in October.

8charl08
Oct 1, 2015, 9:28am

I've just ordered Slade House from the library, but I'm not sure their copies will come in before the end of the month...

9cbl_tn
Oct 1, 2015, 9:30am

I picked up a copy of The Lie from the library the other day. I also hope to read The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet if I don't run out of time...

10Ameise1
Oct 1, 2015, 5:10pm

I'm reading Black Swan Green and I like it very much.

11benitastrnad
Oct 1, 2015, 6:26pm

#10
I tried to listen to Black Swan Green in the recorded version and didn't like it very much. In fact, I quit listening to it when I was about half done. It was a disappointment to me because I have read a couple of David Mitchell books and liked them. I might have expected to much from this, but it certainly wasn't any Cloud Atlas, in my opinion.

12lkernagh
Oct 1, 2015, 9:54pm

I plan to read both The Siege and Black Swan Green as both books will qualify as books read off my TBR shelves for my ROOT challenge. I will admit that I have not read any books by either authors so both are new to me.

13roundballnz
Oct 2, 2015, 12:33am

>3 PaulCranswick: I have Slade house on pre-order from BD so may read that & actually participate in one of the challenge reads this year .... Great choice in Number9 Dream

For the book or puzzle geeks while all his books are ostensibly stand alone works, there is always a hidden connection ...

14benitastrnad
Oct 2, 2015, 6:54pm

I also have Number9Dream on the pile for October reading. I am not sure which Helen Dunmore novel I will read. I checked out five of them from the library last night and will decided after I get to read some of the reviews.

15LoisB
Oct 3, 2015, 9:12am

I'm planning on reading The siege

16PaulCranswick
Oct 3, 2015, 9:29am

>14 benitastrnad: Wow Benita that is impressive to check out five just to pick the right one to read!

>15 LoisB: Lois, I'll be interested to see what you make of it.

17benitastrnad
Editado: Oct 6, 2015, 10:11am

I spent some time looking at my selection of Dunmore novels obtained from the library and I think I will start reading House of Orphans. I also looked at Mitchell and will start reading Ghostwritten later this month.

18evilmoose
Oct 6, 2015, 11:21pm

I just finished reading The Siege, and well, ... it's sort of 'nice'. Which is an alarming thing to be saying of a book that writes of starvation and savagery during the Siege of Leningrad. But it writes about it in such a civilised way. There's bucket loads of descriptive prose, but for such a potentially gripping subject, I felt completely ungripped. The characters never felt real, and I remained unmoved. Not a book that moves in the same way as my brain apparently!

Next up will be The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (having previously read Cloud Atlas and Bone Clocks) - I'm looking forward to it!

19PaulCranswick
Oct 8, 2015, 6:06am

>17 benitastrnad: I loved the first three quarters of Ghostwritten but felt it tailed away a little......good luck

>18 evilmoose: I am reading The Siege also and know what you mean about the civility of the characters (100 pages left to go though) but I am enjoying it in a leisurely manner.

20arubabookwoman
Oct 8, 2015, 3:06pm

>11 benitastrnad: After Ghostwritten, Number 9 Dream and Cloud Atlas, Black Swan Green was a bit of a shocker--a pure coming of age tale that stands in such contrast to his previous inventive "puzzle" books. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is also a more conventional novel, but I liked it a lot more than Black Swan Green. At the time Black Swan Green was published, I read an interview with Mitchell in which he said he intended to do more straight narrative fiction in the future.

I just finished reading The Bone Clocks which I loved and which combines elements of the earlier
"puzzle" novels, as well as the straight-forward narrative fiction, although it also includes a lot of fantasy (which I don't usually like) elements. One interesting thing in The Bone Clocks is that various characters from his previous novels make cameo appearances.

Despite being lukewarm to Black Swan Green, Mitchell is one of my favorite authors, and I'm looking forward to his next book Slade House.

21amanda4242
Oct 8, 2015, 5:04pm

I read Dunmore's Talking to the Dead yesterday and really just want to make a long list of complaints about it. Dull and vacuous characters with a plot that was lifted out of a soap opera. Yuck!! I was doubly disappointed because I enjoyed reading Ingo last month (I got the month's authors a bit mixed up, in case you were wondering why I read it early).

22Donna828
Editado: Oct 9, 2015, 10:00pm

I loved The Siege when I read it over a few very cold and snowy days a few years ago. I was seriously looking forward to reading The Frozen Thames this month. Of course, it's written by the other Helen… Duh! Well, I own Your Blue-Eyed Boy so I will read it and wait for an ice storm to read the Helen Humphreys book.

23thornton37814
Oct 9, 2015, 10:05pm

I'm really upset that The Siege isn't available locally. It was the one I'd targeted to read. I've settled on The Lie which was in the library where I work. The public library has several others, but this is one of my top choices for books available locally.

24thornton37814
Oct 9, 2015, 10:07pm

I guess I should add that I have Cloud Atlas on my iPad from our library's Overdrive collection.

25benitastrnad
Editado: Oct 9, 2015, 10:49pm

I got sidetracked from the BAC by the sequel to Ancillary Justice. The new one is Ancillary Sword. When get done with it I will start one of the BAC novels I have picked.

26EBT1002
Editado: Oct 10, 2015, 2:18pm

>18 evilmoose: "...for such a potentially gripping subject, I felt completely ungripped." That's a great line, Megan!

I would have sworn I had a copy of The Siege around here somewhere but I seem not to have. So, I'll start with David Mitchell. I'm having a hard time deciding between Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks, a lovely dilemma with which to be faced.

Oh, and I have Number 9 Dream on the TBR shelves, too...

27LoisB
Oct 14, 2015, 3:47pm

I finished The Siege and gave it three stars. It was not as compelling as I would have liked, but it was a good story.

28laytonwoman3rd
Oct 14, 2015, 4:34pm

I started A Spell of Winter, and I think I'm hooked.

29msf59
Oct 15, 2015, 8:58pm

"Slade House looms up. The red ivy's redder than red ivy normally is. The ground floor windows are too high off the ground to see inside, and anyway they only reflect the sky and clouds."

"The Valium's throbbing in my fingertips now, and the sunlight's a harpist. Fallen leaves on the shaved lawn are shaped like tiny fans."

^Slade House



Slade House, I am happy to report, grabbed me immediately. Mr. Mitchell is a treasure.

30roundballnz
Oct 16, 2015, 3:27am

>29 msf59: High praise indeed can't wait for mine to arrive .....

31jnwelch
Oct 16, 2015, 10:11am

I'm enjoying The Bone Clocks; just finished the first Holly Sykes section and have met Hugo Lamb.

32Smiler69
Oct 17, 2015, 3:10pm

I'm very glad your BAC challenge gave me an added incentive to pick up The Siege this month. It's a very difficult topic and I was a bit apprehensive about reading about the starving people of Leningrad at a time when I'm probably needing comfort reading more than anything, but the beauty of Dunmore's writing and her sensitivity toward her characters made it a joy to read all the same.

I may pick up Black Swan Green this month too as haven't read anything beyond Jacob de Zoet by Mitchell yet and need to remedy to that.

33benitastrnad
Oct 17, 2015, 10:40pm

#32
I love that term "comfort reading." That is also what I am in need of right now. Just to get lost in a book that takes me away but doesn't make me sad or depressed. I am glad that Dunmore's book has done that for you.

I plan on starting House of Orphans as soon as I finish the book I am reading for my real life book discussion group.

34EBT1002
Oct 18, 2015, 5:42pm

I just put A Spell of Winter on hold at the library and will try to shoehorn in Cloud Atlas sometime this month.

35amanda4242
Oct 19, 2015, 4:14am

I'm slowly working my way through Cloud Atlas. I don't dislike it, but I'm 150 pages in and I don't know where it's going or if it's even building up to anything.

36laytonwoman3rd
Oct 19, 2015, 8:00am

Finished A Spell of Winter yesterday. I enjoyed reading it, but now I don't really know what to think or say about it. It's a little hard for me to see it as a prize winner...a good read, yes, but...but.

37Fourpawz2
Oct 19, 2015, 8:58am

I see that a lot of people read The Siege and were underwhelmed by it. That was pretty much my feeling about it when I read it a few years ago. Fortunately, having already read it, this put me in a position to read the second book in the series - The Betrayal - which I thought was a lot better than the first one. I'd not been looking forward to reading Dunmore for the BAC, but am now very glad she was one of the authors for this month.

38jnwelch
Oct 19, 2015, 9:52am

I'm about 2/3 of the way through The Bone Clocks and still enjoying it.

39cbl_tn
Oct 20, 2015, 7:03pm

I finished The Lie last night. It's a fairly undemanding read, yet it provides lots of food for thought about social issues that are as important today as they were at the time the book is set. (PTSD, reintegration of veterans in society, etc.) I've started The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and I'm enjoying it so far.

40Smiler69
Editado: Oct 21, 2015, 2:52pm

>37 Fourpawz2: I was very taken with The Siege myself, Charlotte, but good to see you're enjoying The Betrayal, which I'll add to the wishlist.

I'm greatly enjoying Black Swan Green so far, only my second David Mitchell after Jacob de Zoet, which seems ages ago. I wanted to read Cloud Atlas, but it was difficult to fit in, so glad I'm getting a dose of this author via a very well narrated audiobook with Kirby Heyborne doing what I think is a decent English accent (though of course only an English person could tell me how accurate it is).

41banjo123
Oct 23, 2015, 12:22am

Well, I finished The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. It's an intriguing story, but I didn't like it nearly as well as Cloud Atlas

42amanda4242
Editado: Oct 30, 2015, 2:41pm

I've finally finished Cloud Atlas and I'm not quite sure how a feel about it as a whole. I really like five of the narratives and think that "An Orison of Somni-451" is one of the finest dystopian stories I have ever read, but the stories never really clicked for me as part of one over-arching story.

The sixth narrative, "Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rythin' After", I hate, hate, hate! It took me longer to read that one section that it did all the others combined!

43benitastrnad
Editado: Oct 24, 2015, 8:33pm

I am going to finally start Ghostwritten tonight.

#42
I thought the style of Cloud Atlas was hard to figure out and I know that there were parts of the story I missed. For instance, I never figured out that the comet shaped birthmark was important. I keep telling myself that I will reread this book, but don't get around to doing so. I loved the Orison story as well. But I also liked some of the others in the book. Overall, I thought the novel was brillant - but demanding of the reader.

44amanda4242
Oct 24, 2015, 9:06pm

>43 benitastrnad: I'm pretty sure the birthmark was to show that it was the same person being reincarnated throughout.

45thornton37814
Oct 24, 2015, 9:14pm

I don't think I've commented, but I enjoyed The Lie by Dunmore. I have one on my wish list by her that isn't available locally.

46Smiler69
Oct 25, 2015, 2:50pm

I finished Black Swan Green yesterday, and it ended up being among my favourites this year. It helps that Mitchell is exactly my age and we were both 13 in 1982, which is when the book is set, so that so many experiences and cultural references were incredibly familiar—as seen from a similar point of view, as it were. Thanks for the BAC for giving me an extra incentive to pick it up this month. I do want to pick up Cloud Atlas eventually, but as a follow-up audiobook, my choice was already made for me, since Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier is mentioned several times (and also at the very end), and as it happened to already be loaded on my listening device, it was a natural transition to go to.

47jnwelch
Oct 25, 2015, 4:34pm

Bone Clocks was good; a bit slow in some of the middle, but overall another excellent one. Love Mitchell's courage and ambition in writing these unusual novels.

48lkernagh
Oct 25, 2015, 6:20pm

I finished Black Swan Green this morning and, like Ilana, I found it to be a wonderful throw-back reminder of youth. This is one of the better coming-of-age stories I have read so far and the perfect read for me as my entry into Mitchell's storytelling world.

49EBT1002
Oct 25, 2015, 9:05pm

I just picked up A Spell of Winter from the library and will try to sneak it in before the end of the month!

50avatiakh
Oct 26, 2015, 8:29am

I'm reading The crossing of Ingo and hope to finish before the end of the month. It's the 4th book in the Ingo series by Dunmore.

51benitastrnad
Oct 26, 2015, 11:03am

#50
I just ordered the Ingo series for the library. I didn't know about them, but thanks to the BAC I discovered them and got them ordered.

52PaulCranswick
Oct 26, 2015, 5:03pm

>47 jnwelch: He is a brave and ambitious writer, Joe. Parts of The Bone Clocks frankly don't work anywhere near as well as others but, on the whole, it is still impressive.

53jnwelch
Oct 26, 2015, 5:45pm

>52 PaulCranswick: Agreed, Paul. Can't wait to read Slade House, which Mark loved.

54avatiakh
Oct 26, 2015, 6:17pm

>51 benitastrnad: I've enjoyed the ones I've read. Not a high priority read for me but a good solid YA series based on interesting folklore.

55countrylife
Oct 27, 2015, 1:21pm

I read Dunmore's The Siege several years ago and loved it. Finished The Lie for this challenge, not quite as taken with it, but thought it was a good book.

56LoisB
Oct 27, 2015, 2:20pm

I'm starting Slade House. I may not finish it in time, but at least I got it started.

57msf59
Editado: Oct 27, 2015, 7:29pm

"I wanted us to wake to a kingdom of ice where our breath would turn to icicles as it left our lips, and we would walk through tunnels of snow to the outhouses and find birds fallen dead from the air. I willed the snow to lie for ever..."

"I look at the house, still and breathless in the frost. I have got what I wanted. A spell of winter hangs over it, and everyone has gone."

^ A Spell of Winter. I am 50 pages in and I really like it so far.

58msf59
Oct 27, 2015, 7:29pm

>56 LoisB: I hope you enjoy Slade House as much as I did, Lois!

59cbl_tn
Oct 27, 2015, 8:41pm

I finished The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet last night and loved it. It seems like it's not representative of Mitchell's other books. His afterword makes it sound like it was a one-time foray into historical fiction. I'm glad I had previously read Silence. Mitchell mentions the fumi-e ritual without providing a lot of description or context. I was familiar with it because of Silence.

60EBT1002
Editado: Oct 28, 2015, 10:26am

>57 msf59: I started A Spell of Winter yesterday and so far, so good! It was the first-ever winner of the Orange Prize (fun fact).

61avatiakh
Oct 30, 2015, 2:33am

I finished The crossing of Ingo which is #4 in the Ingo Chronicles. As I said before, a great YA series set on and off the Cornish coastline.

62PaulCranswick
Oct 30, 2015, 6:43am



Managed to finish off The Bone Clocks this morning. Convoluted and slightly crazy as the tale is it is also a showcase for the amazing imagination Mitchell brings to bear upon his fiction.

63LoisB
Editado: Oct 30, 2015, 11:12am

I finished Slade House yesterday. It's not my genre, but surprisingly, I did enjoy it.

64benitastrnad
Oct 30, 2015, 8:53pm

I have a good start on Ghostwritten. So far it is very Murakamilike. I wonder if that is intentional? I think that Mitchelll goes a bit far in the jazz parody part of the second section, but that is a minor flaw so far. I would be farther along in the book but real life reading has interferred.

65amanda4242
Oct 31, 2015, 2:21pm

I read Slade House today. It was well written but I didn't think it was very original.

66benitastrnad
Editado: Nov 1, 2015, 2:25pm

I am 100 pages into Ghostwritten by David Micthell and finding it very strange and not at all interesting. I detest books about men who use the F-word in every sentence and this one has a main character that does that. So far it seems to me that Mitchell is writing a parody of Murakami. Or else he is simply trying to outdo Murakami. Either way, this book had better improve soon or it gets "Pearl Ruled."

I have read two books by Mitchell that I liked (Cloud Atlas I thought this one was wonderful and Thousand Autumns) and junked a third Black Swan Green. Could it be that I have already read the best that Mitchell has to offer?

67benitastrnad
Nov 25, 2015, 10:52am

I am about to finish Ghostwritten, a book I have been calling the interminable novel. I use that word lightly but also seriously. This is novel is David Mitchell's first novel (published in 2000) and therefore the first of his trademark "puzzle novels." I think that because it is so experimental it is very hard to read. It definitely is a puzzle and I think that some of the puzzles don't get solved until the next book, which is - I think - Cloud Atlas. All of the "seemingly" unconnected parts of the novel makes this a very disjointed read, and while, at times, I like novels to make me think, on some levels this one just doesn't quite work. I am happy that I read Cloud Atlas first because that is the better novel of these two and because I loved Cloud Atlas and Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet so much I kept going. There have been some surprises in this novel, but overall those have not been enough for me to think this novel was anything outstanding. Thank goodness the publisher thought that Mitchell showed promise and stayed with him, because that promise is hard to see in this novel. The commercial reviews of this novel are positive and all talk about the gorgeous prose and convoluted plot lines. I think they should have mentioned that the novel is dense and very hard to read. I would bet that few readers actually read it from cover to cover. I almost didn't and can't say that I am better for having stuck with it to the end.

68benitastrnad
Editado: Nov 26, 2015, 11:45pm

Finished Ghostwritten. About all I can say about this novel is that I now know where the comet came from in Mitchell's Cloud Atlas. I have plans to read other Mitchell novels - but not right now I need a vacation.

Sometime in the next week I plan on starting House of Orphans by Helen Dunmore. I will be months behind other readers but I do hope to get something by Dunmore read this year.

69benitastrnad
Nov 30, 2015, 12:18pm

I started reading House of Orphans yesterday and so far it is starting out well. This was not one of her novels that others in the BAC read. Most opted to read either The Seige or Spell of Winter so as soon as I am done with it I will post something here.

70benitastrnad
Dic 9, 2015, 11:17am

I am making slow progress on House of Orphans but I really like this book. So far it is worth reading and much better than the Mitchell book I tackled earlier. I hope to have some time to read during my Christmas break.

71benitastrnad
Ene 3, 2016, 1:39pm

I finished House of Orphans and really liked this book. It is set in Finland in 1905. At that time Finland was part of Russia and that year in Russian history was a year of labor turmoil and political assignation. Finland, while a European backwater, was not exempted from this unrest.

This novel is part historical fiction and part social statement. The author did end the novel with one shopworn plot trick that was not needed and that as a reader I did not appreciate but other than that, this was a novel well worth reading and I am glad that the BAC finally got me to read one of Dunmore's novels.