Library Loot (3 March 2010)

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

I hope I haven’t picked up too many books this week, as I’m still working on a few more from the previous loots! But I really couldn’t help myself. Looks like it’s an all-fiction loot.

Redwall (Redwall, Book 1) – Brian Jacques
Reading Mouse Guard made me want to read this book.

When Redwall was published in 1987 it catapulted author Brian Jacques to international stardom.  A small wonder!  This enthralling tale is jam-packed with the things we long for in a great adventure:  danger, laughter, hair-breath escapes, tragedy, mystery, a touch of wonder, a truly despicable villain, and a hero we can take to heart.

That hero is Matthias, a young mouse who must rise above his fears and failures to save his friends at Redwall Abbey.  The villain is Cluny the Scourge, one of the most deliciously despicable rats of all time.  The unforgettable cast of supporting characters includes the stalwart badger Constance, an irrepressible hare named Basil Stag Hare, and the elderly wise mouse Brother Methuselah.

But most of all there is Matthias, seeking his true destiny in a journey that will lead through danger and despair to true wisdom.

The Slap – Christos Tsiolkas

I’ve been wanting to read this for a while now. Hope it’s good. Might have first heard of it from Reading Matters. It’s one of my picks for the Global Reading Challenge.

The sensational international bestseller by Australia’s “preeminent contemporary novelist” (The Age), in his United States debut

Winner of the 2009 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap is a riveting page-turner and a powerful, haunting rumination on contemporary middle-class family life. When a man slaps a child who is not his own at a neighborhood barbecue, the act triggers a series of repercussions in the lives of the people who witness the event-causing them to reassess their values, expectations, and desires. For readers of Jonathan Franzen and Tom Perrotta, this is a compelling account of modern society and the way we live today.

Monkey Hunting – Cristina Garcia

The new novel—her first in six years—from the acclaimed author of Dreaming in Cuban and The Agüero Sisters follows one family from China to Cuba to America in an emotionally resonant tale of immigration, assimilation, and the powerful integrity of self.

In 1857, when Chen Pan signs a contract that will take him from China “beyond the edge of the world to Cuba,” he has no idea that he will be enslaved on a sugarcane plantation . . . or that he will eventually, miraculously, escape his bonds and embark on a prosperous life in Havana’s Chinatown . . . or that he will buy a mulatto woman out of slavery and take her into his home and heart . . . or that he will end his long days in Havana, surrounded by children and grandchildren, as Cuban as he is Chinese.

In a vivid tapestry of incident and feeling, Chen Pan’s life story is interwoven with those of two of his descendants: his granddaughter, Chen Fang, born in China and raised as a boy so she could be educated, her life coming to its end in one of Mao’s hellish prisons, and Domingo, Chen Pan’s great-great-grandson, who, with his father, becomes an American citizen after Castro’s revolution, only to lose his parent to the false promises of the American dream, and himself, finally, to the madness of wartime Vietnam.

Deeply stirring, wonderfully evocative of time and place, rendered in the lyrical prose that is Cristina García’s hallmark, Monkey Hunting brilliantly illuminates a generations-long struggle toward a sense of true belonging.

The Jade Peony – Wayson Choy
First heard of this from Buried in Print

Chinatown, Vancouver, in the late 1930s and ‘40s provides the setting for this poignant first novel, told through the vivid and intense reminiscences of the three younger children of an immigrant family. They each experience a very different childhood, depending on age and sex, as they encounter the complexities of birth and death, love and hate, kinship and otherness. Mingling with the realities of Canada and the horror of war are the magic, ghosts, paper uncles and family secrets of Poh-Poh, or Grandmother, who is the heart and pillar of the family.

Wayson Choy’s Chinatown is a community of unforgettable individuals who are “neither this nor that,” neither entirely Canadian nor Chinese. But with each other’s help, they survive hardship and heartbreak with grit and humour.

The Bottle Factory Outing– Beryl Bainbridge
All that talk about Beryl Bainbridge and the Booker made me wonder if I’ve ever read anything by her. So here’s one.

Freda and Brenda spend their days working in an Italian-run wine- bottling factory. A work outing offers promise for Freda, and terror for Brenda, passions run high on that chilly day of freedom, and life after the outing never returns to normal.


Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?
See more Library Loot here

11 Comments

  1. This is a little bit shaming for a Vancouverite like me but I have to admit that I haven’t read The Jade Peony. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of it! My brother loved the Redwall books when we were younger but I don’t think I ever tried them.

    Enjoy your loot!

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    1. I’m always a little bit hesitant to read Chinese immigrant stories but this one sounds a little different – plus I don’t recall when I last read a book set in Vancouver (which unfortunately, I’ve never been to!).

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  2. I loved the Redwall series when I was in middle-school, and still own about six of that series. I’m interested in what you will think of them, but suspect that they do not hold up to adult reading, especially without nostalgia to aid.
    Besides which, my interest in Redwall petered out after I became angry with how Outcast of Redwall ended, and the underlying message contained within its ending. But yeah, I’m curious to how Redwall will seem to you.

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    1. You know, I never thought about that! But now that I have, I do wonder how my old childhood favourites would do if I were only reading it today. I’m now rather curious about Redwall!

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  3. I’ve just picked up my copy of Redwall from the library. It’s an old and battered pocketbook that looks well-loved indeed (and it was the least battered of the bunch). Hope you enjoy Choy’s stories (the first is a favourite of mine). I simply must read the next book after that, but every time I think of doing so, I want to re-read The Jade Peony and that’s a double commitment!

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