#BestsellerCode100: Number 90 The Orphan Master’s Son

Time to start the discussion of our next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 list, The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson.

This post does not contain spoilers.

 

The Orphan Master’s Son*

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

This novel won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Summary: The history and culture of North Korea are mysterious. Adam Johnson pulls back the curtain with this fictional work, delving deeply into the lives of leaders and regular citizens alike. It follows Pak Jun Do who eventually assumes the identity of Commander Ga, the husband of a famous actress named Sun Moon.

 

 

What did you think of The Orphan Master’s Son? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective
  4. After you finish the book, you might want to drop by to take our survey.

Have you written about The Orphan Master’s Son? Feel free to add a link to your review here.

 

You can also join us on social media:

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is number 89. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (2008) – Short story collection – Discussion begins April 10, 2017.

Sunday Post Wrap-up: It’s About Time

It has been way too long since I’ve done a Sunday Post wrap up. That’s probably because I’ve been taking writing workshops for several weekends, plus I taught a gardening class. I don’t seem to be organized enough to prepare during the week, which some of you do.  Sunday Post is a fun meme, so I’d like to try to get my act together more often.

Otherwise, I’m in the throes of spring cleaning. I rearranged my furniture, have been organizing my books (always a major task), and even cleaned up the yard.  You should have seen the dust bunnies fly!

I have four bookcases, but they are all filled past capacity. Do you think I need another bookcase?  How many bookcases do you have?

The last two  weeks:

Karen and I have been reading The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans, which is the tenth novel from The Bestseller Code 100 challenge.

The Horse Whisperer* by Nicholas Evans

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Published in 1995, it was Nicholas Evans’s debut novel. It was later made into a movie with the same title starring Robert Redford. Did you read the book? See the movie?

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

I also participated in the Spring 2017 Bloggiesta. Bloggiesta is a fun way to get to all those blog projects you’ve been meaning to get around to.

october-wrap-up-post-button

Books currently reading:

The Orphan Master’s Son*

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

This novel is next for the  Bestseller Code 100 reading challenge. It won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It is set in North Korea.

We discussed the first paragraph for Book Beginnings on Friday.

Links to posts read and enjoyed on other sites:

The National Book Critics Circle announced the 2016 finalists. My library has copies of the two I want to read, Lab Girl and LaRose. Sweet!

 

_______________________###________________________

Today we’re joining the Sunday Post meme at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer blog.

0abf9b9e-b7ac-4d59-b451-7eb7c64ea1b9_zps47hi5hue

 

 

Book Recommendations: Six Pick’s Thriller List

Have you been in the mood for a good thriller?

Read It Forward editors Abbe and Emma give their Six Picks recommendations.

 

If you like these books, you might want to try their playlist for more titles.

Looking for more recommendations? Try The Poisoned Pen bookstore.

#BestsellerCode100: The Horse Whisperer Wrap-Up Poll

Time to wrap up the discussion of our latest novel from The Bestseller Code 100 listThe Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans. The conversation started here.

Note: Post does not contain spoilers.

The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

 

We are reading these books because they were picked by the computer algorithm in The Bestseller Code by Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers as the best of the bestsellers.  Do you agree with the computer that this book should be on the list?  Why or why not?

 What was your final opinion of The Horse Whisperer?

Do you agree with the computer that this novel is one of the best of the bestsellers?

 

Join us on social media:

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is number 90. The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson (2012) – Discussion begins March 27, 2017

#BookBeginnings The Orphan Master’s Son

Today we have The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

book-beginnings-button-orphan-master

The Orphan Master’s Son*

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

This novel is coming up next for the ongoing Bestseller Code 100 reading challenge.  It won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Summary:   The history and culture of North Korea are mysterious. Adam Johnson pulls back the curtain with this fictional work, delving deeply into the lives of leaders and regular citizens alike. It follows Pak Jun Do who eventually assumes the identity of Commander Ga, the husband of a famous actress named Sun Moon.

First Paragraph of The Orphan Master’s Son:

“Citizens, gather ’round your loudspeakers, for we bring important updates! In your kitchens, in your offices, on your factory floors — wherever your loudspeaker is located, turn up your volume!

Discussion:

The first things I noticed were the exclamation points because I just read an article in Publisher’s Weekly, “Danielle Steel Loves the Weather and Elmore Leonard Hates Exclamation Points: Literature by the Numbers” According to the article’s author, Leonard Elmore says, “You are allowed no more than two or three [exclamation points] per 100,000 words of prose.” Adam Johnson is reaching his limit in the first paragraph.

What do you think of exclamation points in novels? Do you agree with Elmore Leonard?

Have you read this book? If not, consider joining us next week as we continue with The Orphan Master’s Son.

#BestsellerCode100: A Reader’s Review of The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans

The Horse Whisperer, by Nicholas Evans, is next up on our 100 Bestsellers List reading challenge.  You can read Roberta’s kick-off description here.

This post contains spoilers.

The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

 

 

The first line in The Horse Whisperer sets up the tone of the book quite well:

There was death at its beginning as there would be death again at its end.

After reading that line, how can you not read quickly through the first chapter to see who is going to die and how?

Horses And More

This story has all the components needed to suck you in: forbidden love, a life-threatening accident, a ruggedly handsome cowboy (Tom, the horse whisperer), a driven professional woman seeking healing for her daughter and herself (Annie), a teenage daughter in emotional pain (Grace), a supportive husband who fears he’s losing his family (Robert), and the big sky of Montana. Oh, and horses.  Lots of horses.

While I’m not exactly a horse person, I liked almost everything about this novel.  The characters were multi-dimensional, the storyline compelling, and the descriptions of Montana made me want to hop in the car and go see it for myself.

Initially I was shocked and angry with the story resolution.  I wanted a fairytale ending, which, of course, wasn’t possible.  “There would be death again at its end,” remember? (By the end of the book, I’d forgotten that tidbit of information.)  The only question was, who would die?

Philosophy Of Life

Early in the book we learn Tom’s philosophy of life:

“I guess that’s all forever is,” his father replied. “Just one long trail of nows. And I guess all you can do is try and live one now at a time without getting too worked up about the last now or the next now.” It seemed to Tom as good a recipe for life as he’d yet heard.

In the next to the last chapter, Tom is brought face to face by the “next now” that his living “one now at a time” has created.  Author Evans is pretty clear that Tom had options – he’s just not clear why Tom made the choice that he did.  I was left wondering if Tom was really being altruistic in his final scene or if he took the easy way out of what had become a very messy situation.

Notwithstanding the ending, I really liked this novel.  The writing was lyrical and I highlighted many quotes throughout that I thought had real depth to them.  Here are a couple:

In chapter eight, Tom explains to his soon-to-be first wife why he is leaving college and going back to being a cowboy in Montana:

“When I was working as a hand, I just couldn’t wait to get back in at night to whatever I was reading. Books had a kind of magic. But these teachers here, with all their talk, well . . . Seems to me if you talk about these things too much, the magic gets lost and pretty soon talk is all there is. Some things in life just . . . are.”

Acceptance

In chapter twenty-two, Tom has just forced Grace’s horse Pilgrim through a process that both Annie & Grace perceived as emotionally cruel and designed to break Pilgrim’s spirit.  Tom wants them to understand what really happened:

“He [Pilgrim] had the choice to go on fighting life or to accept it…. It was hard as hell, but he could have gone on. Gone on making himself more and more unhappy. But what he chose to do instead was to go to the brink and look beyond. And he saw what was there and he chose to accept it.”

“Sometimes what seems like surrender isn’t surrender at all. It’s about what’s going on in our hearts. About seeing clearly the way life is and accepting it and being true to it, whatever the pain, because the pain of not being true to it is far, far greater.”

Perhaps, at the end, Tom was simply seeing clearly the way life had to be for those he loved and being true to it.

 

Have you read The Horse Whisperer? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective
  4. After you finish the book, you might want to drop by to take our survey.

Join us on social media:

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

90. The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson (2012) – Discussion begins March 27, 2017

Spring 2017 #Bloggiesta Starting Post

Do you have a blog, particularly a book blog? Time to tune it up and get energized by participating in the Spring 2017 Bloggiesta running from March 20-26. Sign-ups are here.

Bloggiesta-Button

What is Bloggiesta?

Bloggiesta is an online party where you can get your blog organized, take challenges to learn new things, and — best of all — meet some awesome book bloggers!

My Spring 2017 To Do List

    • Look into the new features of the latest WordPress system and try to incorporate at least one into my Roberta Gibson Writes website.
    • Write and post a better author bio.
      1. Help! It’s at the top under “About Roberta.” It’s massive and boring. I’m thinking about making the beginning more personal and breaking up each section into its own page with links to them. Would anyone click through the links, do you think? Suggestions? Thanks to Crimson at Crimson Blogs About Books for some great suggestions.
    • Prepare for Poetry month in April by writing and scheduling three or four appropriate posts.
      • One done, two more in preparation
    • Prepare a wrap-up post for Sunday. I’ve been neglecting those.
      • The Sunday Post meme is a great way to catch up with other book bloggers. Wish I had time to read every one.
    • Update the Bestseller Code 100 Reading Challenge Book List into June.
    • Cross-post some reviews to GoodReads, etc. -Wait there’s a challenge at Blame It On the Books to do even more. I’ll have to try that one.
    • Visit and comment on other Bloggiesta participants’ blogs.
    •  Check out the Spring 2017 challenges for more ideas.

Time to get busy. Hope you all have a fun and productive Bloggiesta.

 

tuning-up-your-blog

Save

Save

Save

#BestsellerCode100: Writer’s Analysis of The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans

This week we’re going a bit out of order and starting with our analysis of Nichols Evans’s  The Horse Whisperer from a writer’s perspective. (The discussion for this novel started here.)

This post contains spoilers.

The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

About Nicholas Evans:

British author Nicholas Evans started out as a journalist and moved into film making.  The Horse Whisperer was his debut novel.

Character Development

At times it is unclear who is the protagonist in this novel, particularly in the beginning. The first scene introduces Grace Maclean, a thirteen-year-old girl who lives in Upstate New York and loves to ride her horse Pilgrim. Soon after, the narration jumps to her mother Annie and her father Robert.

Grace is involved in a horrible accident which results in her leg being amputated above the knee, and leaves Pilgrim scarred and unmanageable.  At this point the story wanders away from Grace, and she is revealed to be the impact character who sets things in the story in motion. Now the main story focuses on her parent’s responses, particularly her mother’s.

In a desperate attempt to save her daughter, who has become dangerously withdrawn, Annie realizes healing the horse might be the key to her daughter’s recovery and she looks for help. She contacts Tom Booker, a man who has a magical touch with horses, a “horse whisperer.” Because of the book’s title, and frankly because he’s a really cool guy, the reader might wonder if Tom is the protagonist. No, the story more or less follows Annie. That is, except when it follows Grace. By the end, however, it is clear Annie is the protagonist.

The lack of a  prominent protagonist doesn’t hurt the story, though.  The narration flows between characters like they are actors moving on and off the stage. Whose story it is doesn’t matter as much as the story itself.

Dialogue

“Hi!”
Tom touched the brim of his hat.
“A jogger, huh?”
She made a mock haughty face. “I don’t jog, Mr. Booker. I run.”
“That’s lucky, the grizzlies around here only go for joggers.”
Her eyes went wide. “Grizzly bears? Are you serious?”

Evans does a good job contrasting Annie’s formal voice against Tom’s lightly teasing banter. He also manages to have his characters sound American without trying too hard.

Setting

Public domain photograph of Horse in Montana via Visualhunt.com

The novel starts out in Upstate New York and then travels to the wide open skies of Montana. Although he grew up in England, Nicholas Evans has spent a lot of time in United States and his familiarity with the different regions shows.

Plot Structure

From a storytelling perspective, this novel evokes a strong emotional response, but it doesn’t follow the typical rising conflict format. In fact, it is almost the opposite. Tragic events bookend the rest of the story, with a death in the beginning and a death at the end, but it is really the horrible events in the beginning have the biggest impact.

Concluding Comments:

Nicholas Evans makes some unusual choices regarding plot and characterization  in The Horse Whisperer, but in the end the powerful storytelling wins out. It is an older novel, but it feels like it has withstood the test of time.

Did you watch the movie? Some of the details were changed at the end, like Tom and Annie do not have a sexual relationship, and Tom does not die. Which ending do you prefer? Why?

Join us on social media:

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

90. The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson (2012) – Discussion begins March 27, 2017

This novel won the Pulitzer Prize

#BestsellerCode100: Number 91 The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans

Time to start the discussion of our tenth novel from The Bestseller Code 100 list, 91. The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans. (Yes, we’ve made it to ten!)

This post does not contain spoilers.

The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Published in 1995, this is probably the oldest book on the The Bestseller Code 100 challenge list. It was Nicholas Evans’s debut novel and was made into a movie with the same title.

Synopsis:  According to legend, Tom Booker can calm wild horses with his voice. Annie Graves brings her injured daughter and the family’s damaged horse all the way to the Booker ranch in Montana in the hope his reputation is real and he can help them.

Have you read The Horse Whisperer? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective
  4. After you finish the book, you might want to take our survey.

Join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

Have you written about The Horse Whisperer? Feel free to add a link to your review here.

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

90. The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson (2012) – Discussion begins March 27, 2017

#BestsellerCode100: Wrap-Up Poll for One Day

Time to wrap up the discussion of our latest novel from The Bestseller Code 100 listOne Day by David Nicholls. The conversation started here.

Note: Post does not contain spoilers.

One Day* by David Nicholls

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

 

We are reading these books because they were picked by the computer algorithm in The Bestseller Code by Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers as the best of the bestsellers.  Do you agree with the computer that this book should be on the list?  Why or why not?

 What was your final opinion of One Day?

Do you agree with the computer that this novel is one of the best of the bestsellers?

 

You can also join us on social media:

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is 91. The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans (1995) – Discussion begins March 13, 2017

« Older posts

© 2017 It's A Mystery Blog

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑