Sunday, December 26, 2010

2011 Support Your Local Library Challenge

As a public library librarian, I feel I'm obligated to do this challenge! A great proportion of the books I read do come from the library where I work. It is being hosted by Jamie at Book Junkie's Bookshelf

The details are:
1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate. Just create a post for the challenge and link to your challenge post in the linky below.
--Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the wrap-up post.
2. There are four levels to this challenge...Pick your poison
--The Mini – Check out and read 30 library books.
--"Fun" Size – Check out and read 40 library books.
--Jumbo Size – Check out and read 50 library books.
--Mega Size – Check out and read 51+ library books.
(Aim high. As long as you read 30 by the end of 2011, you are a winner.)
3. Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, YA, Young Reader – basically any book counts just as long as it is checked out from the library. Books MUST be checked out like with a library card, books purchased at a library DO NOT count.
4. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.
5. Crossovers from other reading challenges count.
6. Challenge begins January 1st 2011 and goes thru December 31 2011.

For more information or to join, check out the challenge page

I am going to aim for Fun Size - 40 books

100 + Challenge 2011

There is 4 days left in 2010 and I am admitting defeat for the 100 + Reading Challenge for 2010. In total I've read 66 books this year. I will continue reading but there is no way I'll read 34 books before the end of the year!

In 2011 I will do the challenge again and aim to read more books than in 2010... 100 is more so I'll aim again for that! I'm still in 2 book clubs... and hopefully I'll be more diligent in reading the set books next year! This year the challenge is being hosted by Amy at My Overstuffed Bookshelf

The rules are
  • The goal is to read 100 or more books.
  • Anyone can join.
  • You don't need a blog to participate. Posting on GoodReads or wherever you post your reviews is good enough.
  • Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, YA, Manga, Graphic Novels, Library books, Novellas, Young Reader, Nonfiction – as long as the book has an ISBN or equivalent or can be purchased as such, the book counts.
  • What doesn't count: Individual short stories or individual books in the Bible.
  • No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.
  • Crossovers from other reading challenges count.
  • Books started before the January 1st do not count.
  • You can join at anytime.
Learn more and sign up by visiting the post about the challenge.

Friday, December 24, 2010

White Cat - Holly Black

About the Book
White Cat is about Cassel Sharpe. He is the youngest in a family of "workers" ie people who have the gift to magically affect people. Basically it's about how he isn't who he thought he was, he didn't do what he thought he did, and did what he never thought he could. I hope that doesn't give too much away!

My Thoughts

I think I read Ironside a couple of years ago and quite enjoyed it. When I saw Holly Black was starting a new series I was keen to read it. I didn't really know much about the book before I picked it up. Once I started it, I read it in two sittings. I was reluctant to put it down and it was only when I feel asleep that I did! I quite liked Cassel as a character. He was a good guy, but a bad guy as well. At least he thought he was. Lila was also a well drawn character. I didn't feel like the others - Philip, Barron, their mother and grandfather were quite well so drawn, but the book wasn't about them so it didn't matter so much. I liked the alternate universe that Holly created. Particularly the alternate Australian history where a large percent of the population is decendent from Workers who were transported as convicts. I can't wait to read the next in the series!

The Mercy of Thin Air - Ronlyn Domingue

Recently at my library, a staff member was pulling fiction books off the shelf that hadn't been borrowed for a year or two. This book was one of them, and it sounded interesting so I borrowed it.
About the Book
The book is narrated by Razi, who is killed in the first few pages and becomes a ghost. She narrates from the "in between" where she can watch the living. She never recovers from her first love - Andrew and spends much of the book wondering what happened to him. A young couple buy Andrew's old bookcase and she follows it to their house. Amy also never recovered from
her first love who was killed in a car crash. This has implications on her marriage when an old friend sends her a DVD with scenes of him in it.

My Thoughts
Sounds very Lovely bones ish doesn't it? Well it's not. I'm not sure how I felt about this book. I liked it enough to persevere, but I don't think it's left a lasting impression on me. Razi seemed very forward thinking for her day. She wanted to be a doctor and held sex education classes for the women of the neighbourhood. I always have problems with reading books like that. The author knows that now there is more equality in education, where as in the 1910s when the book is set it was very unusual. It's hard not to write period books without putting knowledge of the future in and it's hard to read them when they allow it to happen.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks

Book Club selection for November 2010

About the book
This is the story of book conservationist, Hanna Heath and the book she goes to Bosnia to work on, a Haggadah. It is also the story of antisemitism in Europe from the 15th century until the present day.

My Thoughts
I first read this book when it came out in 2006, and quite enjoyed it. When I sat down to read it, it felt like I was returning to an old friend. I find the writing easy to read and was comforted by familiar surroundings. I don't remember how I felt about it at the time. The story still draws me in. As well as Hanna's story there is the story of the Haggaadah, starting from the second world war and moving backwards to when the drawings were first created in 1465. The relationship between Hanna and her mother is intriguing. There isn't a satisfying answer to why her mother behaved the way she did towards her daughter, and there is no resolution to the distance they have.

As the book is about the art work, and how unusual it is to have an illustrated Jewish text like this, I think the book meets the criteria for all four of the challenges I'm doing this year - the 100+ challenge, Art History Challenge, Aussie Challenge and Bibliophilic Challenge.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Quest: Sam Silverthorne Book 1 - Gary Crew

About The Book
Sam lives in a big house with his father and his Aunt. His father is a biologist and is often away. His Aunt would prefer that Sam wasn't around so she could inherit it all. His father has been away for quite a while when things come to a head with his Aunt and the Gardener. He runs away in search of his dad.

My Thoughts
I came across this book when searching for some quick reads in the YA section at the library. I haven't read anything by Gary Crew, though I've been meaning to read Strange Objectswhich is about the sinking of the Batavia in 1629.

Quest was easy to read, but some of the characters were a bit stereotypical. Such as the Aunt. I enjoyed reading it, but as yet haven't been moved to read the next books in the series.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Spare Room - Helen Garner

This was the Wednesday book club read for September. We had a bit of a contentious discussion because one of our members stated that he didn't think it had a plot, but didn't elaborate on it any further.

About the Book
Helen's friend, Nicola, comes to stay with her while she gets treatment for cancer. Nicola is in denial about how sick she is and how much hard work it is to take care of her. Helen also doesn't realise how much hard work it will be, or how frustrating. It is a book about the depth of friendship, but also realising that we can't always do things ourselves and that it's much easier when we have the support of others.

My Thoughts
This is the only book by Helen Garner I've read and I really enjoyed it. The writing is spare and I think that's what I love about the book. There is no unnecessary flowery language or description. The friendship between the two characters is touching. The way both characters deal with the idea of Nicola's dying was handled very well. My favourite scene is where Helen confronts Nicola about being in denial about the seriousness of her illness and the futility of the treatment she'd been receiving.

Snow Country - Yasunari Kawabata

This was the October selection for the Friday bookclub. Unfortunately, I was sick and missed the meeting. I finished the book a week after the meeting.

About the book
The story is set in a town in the mountains of Japan. Shimamura escapes from his life in Tokyo and meets Komako, a geisha in a mountain town. Their relationship starts with a meeting on the street, and progresses over a couple of years. Shimamura is drawn to return again and again to where Komako is. Their relationship is illfated. Shimamura doesn't seem to be capable of love, but he is drawn back to her. Komako knows that she shouldn't be with him, and yet comes to his room every night.

My Thoughts
I don't know if it was the translation, or just where my head was at, but I spent most of the book not understanding what was going on. Other reviews I've read say it is full of symbolism (ah!) and written in almost haiku style (double ah!).

I guess what I came away with is a sadness for both of the characters. I think I'll need to reread it though to understand it better.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Never have your dog stuffed - Alan Alda

I think I worked out why I seemed to be having a reading drought... I was trying to read the wrong sort of book. Apparently I'm over fiction at the moment and want to read non fiction. I finished The Lost Mother by Anne Summers and have powered through Alan Alda's autobiography - Never Have Your Dog Stuffed.
About the book
The son of a popular actor and a loving, but mentally ill mother, he spent his early childhood  backstage in the erotic and comic world of burlesque and went on after early struggles to achieve extraordinary success in his profession. Yet Never Have Your Dog Stuffed is not a memoir of show business ups and downs. It is a moving and funny story of a boy growing into a man who then realizes he has only begun to grow. It is the story of turning points in his life, events that would make him what he is if only he could survive them.
My Thoughts
I have to say that as I read this book I could hear Alan Alda's voice in my head. It is not an unpleasant voice to have! His story is told in a gently and funny way. All the way through I kept thinking "wow". His childhood is so far removed from my own. Towards the end the amount of details trails off. His way of writing is almost as if he is in the room talking to you, which I quite enjoyed especially as I had his voice narrating in my mind anyway.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Lost Mother - Anne Summers

My second book in the Art History Challenge is The Lost Mother: a story of art & love by Anne Summers.

About the book
In 1933 Anne Summer's mother Eileen "Tuni" Hogan had her portrait painted by up and coming artist Constance Parkin.  Over a few months Eileen had her portrait painted twice by Constance. It was forgotten about until an Aunt saw an article in the paper about Constance Parkin's art show. They were unable to purchase the portrait then, as it had been sold to a Mrs Lydia Mortill. The author's grandmother did purchase it at a later time though. After the death of her mother, the portrait was left to Anne and she began to dig into the history of the painting, the artist Constance Stokes and of Lydia Mortill. It is not just the story of the painting though, but the story of loss.

My Thoughts
I thought this was quite an amazing book. Toward the end I thought it was more about the mother daughter relationship, than the history of Alice , the name given to the portrait of Eileen Hogan. It was touching how the author revealed the difficulties in her relationship with her mother, and by reading her diaries, she was better able to understand her.

Mostly the book was about now little known artist Constance Stokes nee Parkin. As someone who had never studied art I had never heard of Constance Stokes until I came across this book. It is sad that, while she was contemporary to and painted with artists like Sidney Nolan and Russell Drysdale, those are the names that are remembered while Stokes slipped almost into obscurity.

Perhaps the most interesting thread in this book is the story of Lydia Mortill nee Kliaguina. She came to Adelaide from England where she had found out her husband of six months had been killed fighting in France. She was originally from Russia. In Adelaide she met and married William Mortill. Her family had escaped to Latvia just before or during the Russian Revolution and were trapped there at the start of the Second World War.

I really enjoyed reading this book. This true story is more fascinating than most mystery novels because it deals with real people.

July Roundup

After a bumper June, I've been suffering from "reader's burnout" and only managed 3 books in July. Three is not a bad number, but in trying to read 100 this year it's making it harder to achieve. I was slowed down considerably by The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch, which I was reading for the Friday book club. It was very dense writing and required longer than the week I gave myself to read it. The book club discussion of it made the book sound much better than I thought it was. I may have to add it to my TBR list.

I really enjoyed My name is Memory by Ann Brashares. I was suprised to quite like Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

Books Read
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing - Elmore Leonard
My Name is Memory - Ann Brashares

Books not Completed
The Sea, The Sea Iris Murdoch
The Low Road - Christopher Womersley

This brings my totals to 
100+ Reading Challenge - 54
Aussie Author Challenge stays the same at 5
Bibiliophilic challenge - 7
Buck-a-book challenge - $54

The Book of Unholy Mischief - Elle Newmark

About the book
The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark is the story of apprentice chef Luciano. He was taken of the streets by Chef Ferrero and put to work in the kitchen of the palace of the Doge in Venice. Venice is alive with the search for a book, which contains either, the secret to immortality, forbidden gospels that can be used to over throw the current pope, Borgia, or it contains love potions, or secrets of alchemy. Luciano gets caught up in the search for the book.

My Thoughts
This is the August book for the Wednesday book club. I quite enjoyed reading it, though I was never quite sure when it was set... sometime between 1492, as the New World has been discovered and 1606, which was when the Dutch first came to Australia - as there was mention of a large rodent which goes about on it's hind legs and has a pocket for it's young. Though they did mention that the book was set about 300 years after Roger Bacon was around. All this is very distracting. I'm sure that the mention of "love apples" still being thought poisonous, and newness of coffee and cacao beans, would place it better in time, but I'm not up with food history, and I don't want to have to do research about a book I'm reading. That's the author's job!... Ok, I can't help myself... I've been looking into when tomatos and cacao beans made it to Europe and they became popular in the late 1500s.

Apart from that it is easy to get caught up in the story. Venice is like a character in the novel, with it's alleys and markets. The description of food is wonderful, and made me feel hungry reading  it.

I like the Maestro Chef, though we only see him through Luciano's eyes. I'm not sure how reliable a narrator his is though. He spies on everyone and reports back to the chef, which is quite funny. He spies on the Chef but manages to keep that to himself. I like how the relationship develops between Luciano and the Chef.

Some reviews that I've read compare The book of unholy mischief to The Da Vinci Code. I think that is an unfair comparison. I've enjoyed Book of Unholy Mischief so much more than the Da Vinci Code. It has much more depth. That being said I really did not like The Da Vinci code. It took me months to get passed the first 70 pages.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Kobo and ebooks

I've had my Kobo for about 3 weeks now and I hadn't really used it much. I've bought some ebooks and synced them to the Kobo, but that was it. For some reason last night I decided to give it ago. I started to read Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas. I had read about 80 pages in what seemed like a short amount of time and I suddenly wondered if I had missed
anything. It was an odd feeling and made me want to find a hard copy to check. Or perhaps it's just a very easy book to read.

I actually don't mind reading on the Kobo. The screen is clear and I've set the text at an easy to read size. The pages do take a bit longer to turn than a hard copy book... and it's very light. I still like the experience of reading the hard copy. But the experience of reading on a Kobo is just as pleasurable.

The only thing that annoys me about the whole thing is... well there's 2 things I think. The first is the price of new release books. Most of the new release ebooks I've seen are pretty close in price to the hard copy. It's crazy... when there are no printing costs they have to factor in, not
housing costs because it's all electronic. I would prefer to buy a hard copy version of a book when both formats are a similar price. I am refusing to pay more than $10... well unless it's a book that I really really want and then I won't pay more than $15. That may sound harsh and there have been cries of what about the author's cut? Well, as with print copies the authors only get a tiny percentage of the total price of the book. With less overhead costs they shouldn't lose out.

The second thing that it's really hard to find ebooks that I want. The search facility on the  bookseller's websites are dodgy at best, but worse for ebooks. This is because they don't work like a library catalogue, which makes sense, when you put in an author's name, or a title
that's what you get. I think bookseller's try to be like google... but even in Google when I search for a book title I will ususally get a webpage about the book... not so in a bookseller's website. When I search for a title a lot of the time I get totally random responses. But with ebooks, when I search for a title, I don't always get the ebook entry. The browse categories is ok, but everything is either all fiction or general ebooks. You can't browse very well by genre, and you can't sort by date of release. So I'm having to trawl through all this stuff... mostly erotic fiction, before I can find anything I'm interested in.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Miles Franklin Award 2010

In keeping with the previous 2 posts about Literary Award shortlists, here is another.
The winner of the 2010 Miles Franklin Award was announced on 22 June 2010.
The winner was Peter Temple for his book Truth. This was a bit of a controversial choice as he is more known as a Crime Writer. For more information about the winner have a look at the Miles Franklin Awards page

Two books on the Miles Franklin shortlist have also been nominated for the Prime Minister's Literary Award. Sadly I haven't read any of these titles, but Jasper Jones and Lovesong have been on my TBR list for about a year now.

The shortlist for the Award was:
Lovesong by Alex Miller  Allen & Unwin
The Bath Fugues by Brian Castro  Giramondo Publishing
Jasper Jones  by Craig Silvey  Allen & Unwin
The Book of Emmett by Deborah Forster  Random House
Truth by Peter Temple  Text Publishing
Butterfly by Sonya Hartnett  Penguin Group (Australia)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Prime Minister's Literary Awards 2010

After posting about the Man Booker Prize longlist, I thought I should include a post about Australian Awards as well.
The short list for the Prime Minister's Literary Awards were announced on15 July 2010. For more information visit the Awards Page. There is no date for the announcement of the Winners, but I suspect it will be sometime after 21August 2010. When everyone is less busy campaigning for the election.
There are 4 categories this year - Adult Fiction, Adult Non Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Children's Fiction

Of Adult Fiction books I have Ransom and Lovesong on my TBR List. I have heard good things about The Ghost at the Wedding from colleagues at work.

The shortlisted books are:

Summertime by J. M. Coetzee
The Book of Emmett by Deborah Forster
The Lakewoman by Alan Gould
Dog Boy by Eva Hornung
Ransom by David Malouf
Lovesong by Alex Miller
As the Earth turns Silver by Alison Wong

The Water Dreamers: The Remarkable History of Our Dry Continent by Michael Cathcart
Strange Places: A Memoir of Mental Illness by Will Elliott
The Colony: A History of Early Sydney by Grace Karskens
The Life and Death of Democracy by John Keane
The Blue Plateau: A Landscape Memoir by Mark Tredinnick
The Ghost at the Wedding by Shirley Walker

Young Adult Fiction
Stolen by Lucy Christopher
The Winds of Heaven by Judith Clarke
Confessions of a Liar, Thief and Failed Sex God by Bill Condon
The Museum of Mary Child by Cassandra Golds
Swerve by Phillip Gwynne
Jarvis 24 by David Metzenthen
Beatle meets Destiny by Gabrielle Williams

Children's Fiction
Cicada Summer by Kate Constable
The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarsky and illustrator Andrew Joyner
Just Macbeth by Andy Griffiths and illustrator Terry Denton
Mr Chicken goes to Paris by Leigh Hobbs
Running with the Horses by Alison Lester
Star Jumps by Lorraine Marwood
Mannie and the Long Brave Day by Martine Murray and illustrator Sally Rippin
Tensy Farlow and the Home for Mislaid Children by Jen Storer
Harry and Hopper by Margaret Wild and illustrator Freya Blackwood

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Man Booker Longlist Announced

The longlist for the Man Booker Prize was announced on 27 July. I don't usually find out who's on the long list, until the shortlist, or the winner is announced. How on the ball am I! Not only on the ball finding out the list, but I've started reading one of the titles. Skippy dies by Paul Murray was talked about at Book Chat last month. I just started it last night and didn't want to put it down.

Now I'm thinking of reading my way through the longlist. We don't have all the titles at the library, but I'm sure I can pick them up along the way. Maybe it can be my goal when I'm in the UK to find the less well known books while I'm there! It does mean giving The Slap another chance though... I started it, but really didn't like or care enough about the characters to bother finishing it.

Oh the long list
Peter Carey - Parrot and Olivier in America (Faber and Faber)
Emma Donoghue - Room (Pan MacMillan - Picador)
Helen Dunmore - The Betrayal (Penguin - Fig Tree)
Damon Galgut - In a Strange Room (Grove Atlantic - Atlantic Books)
Howard Jacobson - The Finkler Question (Bloomsbury)
Andrea Levy - The Long Song(Headline Publishing Group - Headline Review)
Tom McCarthy - C (Random House - Jonathan Cape)
David Mitchell - The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet  (Hodder & Stoughton -
Lisa Moore - February (Random House - Chatto & Windus)
Paul Murray - Skippy Dies (Penguin - Hamish Hamilton)
Rose Tremain - Trespass (Random House - Chatto & Windus)
Christos Tsiolkas - The Slap (Grove Atlantic - Tuskar Rock)
Alan Warner - The Stars in the Bright Sky (Random House - Jonathan Cape)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Name is Memory - Ann Brashares

About the Book
My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares is about reincarnation and true love. Daniel remembers all of his past lives and through all of them he has loved and been looking for Lucy, who he thinks of as Sophia. It is rare that they are alive at the same time and the same age, but in 2006 he discovers they are. Lucy doesn't remember her past lives or Daniel but she does have strange dreams. Daniel struggles with wanting Lucy to remember and not wanting to push her so too hard and scare her away as he did at High School graduation. In the meantime Lucy has an encounter with a psychic which changes the way she thinks.

My Thoughts
I really enjoyed reading this book. The contemporary story is interwoven with Daniel and Lucy/Sophia/Constance's past lives. The romantic in me loves the idea that there is one true soulmate and that they find each other no matter who or where they are. I think the most touching scene of this in the book is when Daniel is about 5 and Lucy is an older woman and Daniel snuggles up to her in church.

There were a couple of parts that I really didn't like. *spoiler alert* The first was when Daniels brother from his first life turned up at Lucy's college and pretended to be Daniel. Lucy had been obsessing about the guy for years, and had spent time with him, yet she wasn't able to  recognise that it wasn't him.

The other part I didn't like was the end... it didn't wrap anything up, in fact new developments in the story line occured in the last couple of pages. There is nothing in the book to indicated that it was anything but a stand alone novel... it was only much digging around that I discovered that
it is the first part of a trilogy. This explains why it ended like it did. But it doesn't mean I have to like it.

As I was reading it though, the parts describing Daniel's past lives reminded me of Andrew McGahan's The Wonders of a Godless World . The two books are quite different as Brashares' book is about love and McGahan's is about consciousness, character and I think to an extent power. However they handle the reincarnation aspect in a similar way. Both main male characters remember their past lives in great detail and use those details in their subsequent lives.

Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

This was the July selection for the Wednesday book group that I run at work. I wasn't expecting to enjoy this book, and after a couple of false starts I really got into it. I think it took a while to get into the story because the main characters aren't introduced for quite a few pages. It starts with a lot of setting the scene and a lot of new concepts. The group was amazed that it had been published in the 1930s and it contained so many advanced ideas.

About the book
Brave New World is set far into the future. It is a Utopian society, where everything seems mechanised. Reproduction is done on a production line and natural childbirth is considered immoral. Everyone is created for a particular role. There are several main groups - Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Epsilon. Everyone is happy. There are reservations where small communities live "natural" lives. The two cultures clash when Bernard Marx, who is becoming dissatisfied with his life, decides to visit a reservation.

They discover a woman who had vanished 30 odd years ago living there with her son. Bernard takes them back to "civilisation".

June Roundup

June was oddly a great month for reading. I managed to get through a record 20 books this month. There was a wide range of titles and genres, making for an overall satisfying reading month. So at half way through the year I'm up to 50 books, which is a good sign I think.
I revisited a couple of favourite reads with the first 2 books in the Harry Potter series, and the first of the Hitch Hiker's guide series. A good friend was insistent on my reading the whole series, unfortunately I was missing the 3rd book so it will have to wait until July. I also reread The
kite runner for one book club and Notes on a Scandal for the other. I'm still thinking about my reaction to Notes on a Scandal and think it might be one of the top 5 for the month. Hehe it's not very often that I get to have a top 5.

The books read were:
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
Who moved my blackberry - Lucy Kellaway
Foundation - Isaac Asimov
Marked - P.C & Kirsten Cast
Brooklyn - Colm Toibin
Betrayed - P. C & Kirsten Cast
Harry Potter and the philosopher's stone - J. K. Rowling
Harry potter and the chamber of secrets - J. K Rowling
Notes on a scandal - Zoe Heller
The second short life of Bree Tanner - Stephenie Meyer
Toxic beauty - Caroline B Cooney
Green angel - Alice Hoffman
The foretelling - Alice Hoffman
Tamburlaine must die - Louise Welsh
Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy - Douglas Adams
Restaurant at the end of the universe - Douglas Adams
Quest: Sam Silverthorne bk 1 - Gary Crew
In the Miso Soup - Ryu Murakami
The murder farm - Maria Andrea Schenkel
The burning wire - Jeffery Deaver

This brings my total for the 100+ Reading Challenge to 51, for the Aussie Author Challenge to 5, Buck-a-book challenge to $51 and Bibiliophilic challenge to 6.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Murder Farm - Andrea Maria Schenkel

In keeping with my current reading binge, I picked The murder farm off the library shelves because of it's size. It is 181 pages, which I can usually read in a day if it's not too hard to read, or concentrate on. I started this at 10.30pm on Tuesday night and told myself I'd just read for half an hour. At the end of half an hour I didn't want to put the book down and had to read 10 more pages.

This is an usually told story. It has 3rd person narratives of a selection of characters. Then it has 1st person narrative of different people who knew the people who lived on the farm. It sounded like they were talking to the police about what they knew of the family and of the days leading up to
and after the murder. I don't know what it was, but it created a feeling of menace when I was reading. You never quite know what's lead to the murder, and the family is portrayed as not very nice.

I rate this as one of the best reads for the year.

The burning wire - Jeffery Deaver

The first Jeffery Deaver book I read was The Blue Nowhere . It was about the police trying to catch a man who was hacking into a person's computer and using that to kill people. It was recommended by a colleague who is a Jeffery Deaver fan. I have to admit he chooses interesting subjects for his books.

About the book
The Burning Wire is a Lincoln Rhyme novel, about the hunt for a man or group who has taken  over New York's electricity grid and diverting the "juice" to electrocute people. I've not read a Lincoln Rhyme novel before and was surprised to learn he is a quadriplegic. It took a while to get over wanting to know how he became wheel chair bound. I'm sure it's in one of the earlier novels.

My thoughts
The writing is quite clever. Just when I started to fear for any unconnected character who appeared in the story, he went and changed the formula! There is a neat little twist towards the end, which would have been picked up earlier by a more discerning reader. I wasn't really thinking about where the story was going, so it surprised me!

The reason I chose this book is because the idea of taking over the electricity grid sounded really interesting. I wasn't disappointed in this regard. It also pokes fun at the reliance of "new age" intelligence agents relying on cloud computing for their intelligence, over the old school running of snitches.

The only thing I didn't really like about the novel is that after the crime was solved there were still about 50 pages of the book to go. They were spent wrapping up loose ends, but it just seemed to go on too long.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

In the Miso Soup - Ryu Murakami

I came across this book at one of our book chat sessions. One of the group members had just finished reading it and was reading another of Ryu Murakami books. Someone else borrowed it from him first and when she handed it back she said she couldn't finish it because it was too tense and menacing... and that it was best not to read it at night.

I can't remember ever feeling menaced by a book... so I was looking forward to it... in a weird kinda way. I was a bit disappointed in that regard. The tension built up when Kenji, a Japanese tourist guide, began to have
suspicions about Frank's, an American toutist, true nature. There was a particularly gruesome scene in the middle of the book, which made me wary about what was going to happen in the rest of the story. I was a bit
disappointed in the end. Kenji has to work out what to do about Frank. I must say that it wasn't what I expected!

Again, my expectations of the book somewhat clouded the reading of the book. I did enjoy reading it, but was expecting to feel a certain way while I read it. I think I would be happy to try more of Murakami's work.

Kenji is a tour guide of Japan's seedy side. He gets a call from Frank, who says he's in Japan on business and would like to hire Kenji's services for 3 days up to and including New Years Eve. Kenji accepts, despite having plans with his girlfriend Jun, who is a 16 year old schoolgirl. Everything starts of normal enough. But slowly Kenji begins to feel uncomfortable with Frank. It becomes apparent that Frank has lied to him and he begins to think that maybe Frank has something to do with the murder of a school girl that had been in the news. When a homeless man is killed Kenji is convinced it is Frank who is behind it. It is with this tension that Kenji meets Frank for the second night and things take a turn for the worst. The second half of the book is dealing with Kenji's moral dilemma about what to do about it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tamburlaine must die - Louise Welsh

I am on a reading binge at the moment, wanting to read short and easy books. Tamburlaine must die, on face value meets one of these criteria. It is short at 140 pages of story and an extra six of historical background. While it is easy to read, it is not when you are distracted by the tv... note to self turn off tv when concentration is required.

Tamburlaine must die is the story of the last 3 days of Christopher Marlowe's life. He is out of London while it is threatened by plague, but is summons back to face the Privy council, having been betrayed by Thomas
Kyd. He is allowed to go free on what is essentially bail. Marlowe is presented as a bit of an unsavioury character involved with shady characters, drink and sexual exploits.

The writing is at times lyrical, I guess reflecting that it is supposed to be Marlowe's writing. I quite enjoyed the book, but it seemed a bit too short. I wanted to find out more about the world he inhabitited.

The second short life of Bree Tanner - Stephenie Meyer

It has been quite a while since I read the Twilight books. When I first read them I really enjoyed them. I was quite excited to hear that Stephenie Meyer was releasing a new Twilight novel... well it's called a novella but that's just pedantics. I found The second short life of Bree Tanner hard to get into.

It took quite a while to warm up to the characters... and we don't really get much history about Bree before she became a vampire. I think that's the danger of picking up an established character; that there is all this assumed knowledge. Well that would make sense if we got to know Bree in Eclipse, but we don't. I read most of the novel without remembering who she actually was and only found enlightenment at the end of the book. That's probably why I wasn't so keen on the book, that we don't get to know the characters really... it's like we've come in half way through a movie.

I did enjoy reading it... the end especially when Edward and his family make an appearance. But I had to force myself to sit down and get through it. Certainly a different experience to what I had when reading the other Twilight books.

Notes on a Scandal - Zoe Heller

I watched the DVD of the movie for this a couple of years ago and quite enjoyed the tension between Sheba and Barbara. I remember thinking that  Barbara was quite a strong, but creepy character and was quite keen to read the book. I was making a quilt while I watched it, and so whenever I look at the quilt I remember watching the DVD.

This was suggested by one of the book club members to read this year, so I held off reading it. It took me a while to get into the story, but once I did I couldn't put it down. Barbara is creepier in the book. There was one part before she and Sheba became friends that made me shake my head. It was after Barbara had discovered Sheba's friendship with Sue (pg 36)

"My mistake with Jennifer had been to attribute to her an intelligence that had never really existed. For the last six weeks, I realized, I had been making the same mistake with Sheba. Thank god she had revealed her truecolours at this juncture, before I had invested any more of my feelings! Once again, I told myself, I had made an error of judgement. Sheba was not my soul mate. Not my kindred spirit. She wasn't, in fact, my sort at all."

Barbara, at this point, had barely spent any time with Sheba to be able to pass any sort of judgement on her. Sheba would have been unaware that Barbara had event thought that they might be soul-mates. It's like Barbara had imagined this whole friendship, that the other person wasn't even aware of. This also struck me when Sheba and her family went to France for the summer. Barbara kept ringing the house and leaving messages, expecting Sheba to call. I don't think it would have occured to Sheba that their friendship was that sort of friendship, which is the point of the book really.

It's about how Barbara creates the type of friendship she has with Sheba in her head, but Sheba isn't aware of it. Not until she reads the manuscript.

When we discussed it in book club, I suddenly thought that Barbara couldn't share her friends with anyone. If someone was her friend, then they couldn't be shared with anyone else. That's why her friendship with Jennifer broke down when Jennifer got a boyfriend. It's why Barbara was upset when Sheba became friends with Sue first. In the end Barbara gets what she wants when Sheba's life falls apart and she is the only one there to look after her.

I'm including this in the Bibliophilic Challenge, because Barbara is writing this story as a book to be published.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Harry Potter series - Books 1 & 2

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J K Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J K Rowling

I've started to reread the Harry Potter series because I know that I can read them in a day, if I had the chance. The first 3 books I'm reading for the third time, for the later ones for the second. It's interesting to read them over again after having finished the series as I find myself going oh! as I make connections between what happened in earlier books and what will happen in the later ones.

Although, this time after reading the first book, I found myself wanting to know more about Professor Snape. We do get bits and pieces of his story throughout the series, and the Half-blood Prince is more his story, but it
would be interesting to have a whole book from his perspective. In this reading at least, he is my favourite character. His is complex as we are never quite sure which line he has taken.
I managed to read the first two when I went to Casino for the long weekend. I wished I had taken Prisoner of Azkaban as well. It will now have to wait until book club on Friday.

House of Night Series - Books 1 & 2

While everyone else is getting over the glut of teen vampire novels I am continuing to devour them.
I bought the first book in the House of Night series a good while ago because it was cheap and I was having Twilight withdrawals. I didn't actually get around to reading it until now, after hearing a colleague say she could read one in a night. I am on the look out for easy reads to boost the number of books I've read. (I have to make up for a disastrous May).

I didn't read it in a night, but it was pretty close. I quite enjoy the new take on vampires in this series - they become marked and the change process takes a long time. They don't burn up in the sun, but it does hurt their
eyes and skin. They still eat "normal" food. They are governed by a goddess and don't go around biting people so much. I think that's what I enjoy about all these vampire novels - that authors aren't content with the
traditional ideas about what a vampire is and does, and they create their own.

In this series, teenagers are chosen and marked to become vampires. They then have to make their way to The house of night, a school for fledgling vampires. If they don't, they become sick and die. Being at the school is no guarantee that they will survive the change either. At the school, classes are reversed, starting at 8pm at night and finishing at 3am. They learn vampire lore and about famous vamps. Apparently all the great actors, writers and artists are really vampires. Zoey is descendent from Cherokee Indians and already has some spiritual connection to the goddess when she enters the school. She becomes firm friends with a group of other fledglings and spends time trying to avoid Aphrodite, the leader of a clique called the dark daughters and sons. Zoey just wants to fit in, but from the outset she's different. Her mark is filled in, where all the other
fledglings have just an outline.

I quite enjoyed part 1 of the series. Book 2 - Betrayed was ok and follows on a month after the events in the first book. The authors seem to make up words which really started to bug me in the second book. Gihugic??? Ginormic?? I could deal with ginormous... and use that quite often but those two words are just wrong, they don't roll of the tongue.
I like how the friendship between Zoey and her friends is being developed. It looks like the single characters are slowly pairing off.
The authors also seem to have an idea where the story will go, as there are lead up clues woven into the story. I read somewhere that there will be 12 books in the series and it's up to book 7 at the moment. So I still have
some reading ahead of me!

Brooklyn - Colm Toibin

People that I know who have read Colm Toibin's books rave about his writing, so I had certain expectations before reading anything by him. I expect brilliant language and to be moved by any story he tells. Brooklyn
is the first of his books I've read, and frankly I don't see anything special about it. It's just like a hundred other books about a girl who has no job in Ireland migrating to the US in search of a job and a different future. Only different because it's been written by a man, and Eilis doesn't really ring true as a character. Granted, in those types of books something terrible usually happens to the main character and that is missing from this book... this is not necessarily a good thing.

It's a quick and easy but a nothing read. It's the story of a life I guess... but people don't really want to read about real life, where nothing much happens. I feel like Eilis isn't taking control of her life, she's not learning anything, instead she is just going with the flow. What a slow flow that is. She doesn't realise until too late that this lackadaisical attitude could have cost her happiness.

Maybe I am just used to reading more action packed books, that it has spoilt me for slower paced books. No, that can't be the case because I am happy to dip in to classics, such as Pride & Prejudice that aren't so fast moving either.
The only thing in it's favour is that it has only taken me 2 days to read. That's partly because I wouldn't be prepared to spend too much time on it.
If you want a nice easy to read "coming of age" story. I guess this is for you. That's the best recommendation that I can give it.

Foundation - Isaac Asimov

I have been thinking for a long time that endings for books must be the hardest part to write. It's often the part of a book that lets me down and affects how I feel about a book when I've finished. The only excuse I can come up with for the end of Foundation by Isaac Asimov, is that he knew this was the first part of a series and wasn't really the end at all. There was all this build up only to have it fizzle at the end.

I did enjoy Foundation. It was easy and quick to read. It is the first book in a series of at least 5 books. I'll get around to the others on the long weekend in June. Hopefully they won't all end as weakly. It was weird reading it and have references that have been used in other Sci Fi classics - for example Encyclopedia Galactica which turns up in The Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy, and parsecs which is in Star Wars. I've
never notice before when I've read a book that has such a direct influence on other books or movies in the same genre.

The other good thing about this book is that it counts for the Bibliophilic Challenge as Terminus has been established as a colony, originally to write the Encyclopedia Galactica... a book!

A group of 20 000 people have been banished to a planet on the edge of the galaxy, orginally to compose the Encyclopedia Galactica. They were banished because their leader Hari Seldon, had predicted the end of the Empire by psychohistory - a branch of mathematics. The Emporer and the government didn't like the idea of this and had Hari Seldon arrested. The first part of the novel is taken up with the board of governors being obsessed only with the writing of the encyclopedia and ignore the events going on in the galaxy around them. Salvor Hardin tried to make them see they are wrong and on the night when Hari Seldon is supposed to send a message, takes over by bloodless coup. Hari Seldon appears and talks about a series of crisises which have to occur to hasten the coming of a new Empire, of which Terminus is the centre. The rest of the book talks about the lead up to 3 more "Seldon Crisis'"

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Who moved my blackberry? by Lucy Kellaway

I don't like the main character Martin Lukes, he's self centred and blames others for his mistakes. Yet I find that I am compulsively reading this book. I just have to find out what stupidity he will get into next.

Who moved my blackberry is told in the form of emails and texts from Martin Lukes the Marketing Director of AB Global. He is not a likeable character. He treats his PA as a personal coffee fetcher and being a stereotypical male manager, he starts having an affair with her.

I don't mind the format of the book. Though we do only get to see the world through Martin's eyes as he initiates and responds to other emails and text messages. It is kind of funny though... and I kept hoping he'd turn out to be a C and have to deal with losing his job. Sadly... no.

The Kite Runner - Wednesday Book Club June Selection

I seem to be reading many books for the second time this year. The Kite Runner is another one. the first time I read this book I really quite enjoyed it. Khaled Hosseini has a wonderful way with words and deals with hard subjects in a ... gentle isn't the right word, but it will do.

Reading it for the second time, I'm remembering things from my first reading... I think... I could be remembering it from another book, that happens to me a bit. Anyway... with this remembered bit, I'm reading the book in a different way, particularly the bits where Amir is talking about
Baba and Hassan. This book is really a sad tale about a strong friendship between two boys, and the guilt of choices we make. Friendships often are lopsided and in this case Hassan was the more honourable and devoted of the two of them.

Hosseini evokes a strong feeling of place, both in Afghanistan before the Russians and then after the Taliban has come to power, and in America. The Sunday markets and the sense of community are very well described.

I think it is the second half of the book when Amir returns to Kabul that is the most powerful part of the novel. The book definitely stands up well to a second reading and I still highly recommend it.

May Roundup

May was a very slow month for reading. I only finished two books. They were both in the Hamish MacBeth series by M C Beaton.

May Books
Death of a traveling man
Death of a nag

Total for the buck-a-book challenge - $31

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

April Roundup - #bookbinge

April was Australian Librarian's book binge month.  Where we read as much as we can in April, funnily enough.

April started really well with the Easter long weekend and plenty of reading time.
I finished off Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. It was quite good and was like Twilight but with witches instead of vampires. I am eagerly awaiting the sequel which will come out later this year.
I then read The Suspect by Michael Robotham, mainly because he is from Casino and so am I! It was quite a good read and I think I will read more of his books in the future.
Then, just as I was overdosing on hot cross buns, I overdosed on the Hamish Macbeth books by M C Beaton. My sister is a fan of the TV show and this spun off into the books. She had the first 8 books in the series. I indulged in all of them over 3 days... and then I really needed a break
from them. The moralising of the author which hadn't worried my so much in the earlier books was starting to annoy me by the 8th.
After so many cozy mysteries I turned to some tougher stuff with Tell Noone by Harlan Coben.
Book club books came next with A short history of tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka and The reluctant fundamentalist by Moshin Hamid. This was my second outing with both books, and they stood up well to it. Especially the reluctant fundamentalist, as I knew what to expect and picked up on things I missed the first time around.
Then came A fair maiden by Joyce Carol Oates. I have a friend who raves about this author, and this book intrigued me for it's tag line of "a modern Lolita". I wasn't sure where the parallels came in until near the end of the book. I think I will have to read more by this author before I
can say how I feel about her writing.
I returned to Hamish MacBeth with Death of a travelling man.
I'm up to $29 in the buck a book challenge

The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Moshin Hamid - Rockdale Reader's Choice April 2010

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is Changez story. He is the narrator and it is through his voice that we know what is going on. The story starts with Changez meeting an American man in the Anarkali area of Lahore, Pakistan and offers to show him the excellent tea Pakistan has to offer. They sit
and Changez talks the rest of the day. The American is edgy and on guard all through the story and the ending is abrupt, leaving the reader wondering.

I first read this book when it came out in 2007. I enjoyed reading the book, but was left feeling frustrated by the open ending. I like my books wrapped up neatly at the end and feel cheated when I'm left hanging in the air, especially when there is not opening for a sequel.

Never Let Me Go - Rockdale Readers choice March 2010

The book group selection for March 2010 was Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Never Let Me Go is narrated by Cathy, a carer. She tells of her time at an exclusive school and her friendship with Ruth and Tommy. Slowly through the book it is revealed that Cathy, Tommy and Ruth aren't like normal people. They have a special purpose. To say anymore would ruin the story. In fact, you should probably stop reading now if you don't want to come across any spoilers.
I was watching Catalyst  on the ABC on 1 April 2010, and it reminded me strongly of Never Let Me Go. Perhaps this was how it all started? I think the issues of growing human organs and cloning is still very topical and this book should promote you to think about these issues.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hamish MacBeth - an Easter overdose

At this time of year, it is usually Easter Eggs and chocolate that gets consumed to excess. For me it was less fattening. I read the first 8 Hamish Macbeth books over the Easter long weekend. They are very easy and, for me at least, quick to read and an enjoyable way to spend a lazy weekend.

Hamish Macbeth is the local bobby in the quiet Scottish village of Lochdubh. He is single and actively unambitious, much to the despair of love interest Priscilla. He solves the case, but is happy for Sergeant Blair, his superior from Strathbane, to take the credit. Though, in the last book I read - The Death of a Glutton, he has been promoted and given a staff member to supervise. It will be interesting to see how he copes with the added responsibility.

They are mysteries of the cosy variety. There is the murder, but there is no graphic detail and it's about solving the puzzle. I struggled to work out when the books were set. At one stage mention was made of it being close to the end of the century, but the tone was decidedly early to middle
of the century. By the 8th book I was getting a bit fed up with the overt morality that I was being hit over the head with. One of the character's mother objected to her daughter doing a law degree because she felt a woman's place was in the home.

Nonetheless, as soon as I got to work I was searching out the next books in the series! I was surprised to discover that the series is up to about 27 books.

The Suspect - Michael Robotham

I've been wanting to read a Michael Robotham book for a while now, his books are popular at the library where I work and I recently discovered he may have come from my home town. I was looking for books to take, read and leave behind for my dad to read when I went home for Easter. This suited my requirements - it was a paperback, and wasn't about war. It also is one of
the books I wanted to read for the Aussie Challenge.
It took a while to get into this book, luckily I had the time and patience to persevere. I have no qualms about giving up on a book that doesn't grab me by the first 100 pages or so.

The suspect is the story of Joe O'Loughlin, a psychologist with early onset Parkinson. He's in a bit of denial about his disease for most of the book. Joe becomes the main suspect for the murder of Catherine McBride, a former colleague and patient. Joe thinks that his patient Bobby Moran has something to do with the murder, even though he doesn't fit the profile that Joe himself comes up with. There are twists, and more bodies before the murder is solved. You have to read the book to find out more!

March Roundup

March wasn't as reading filled as I hoped, with only 4 books being
finished. Two of those being book group books.
March List
Saturday - Ian McEwan
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
Ice - Louis Nowra
Tell No One - Harlan Coben

Saturday was quite hard going, and I didn't enjoy reading it.
I read Never Let me go for the second time. I think I got more out of it
this time as I knew where the story was going.

I am now up to $15 in the buck a book challenge

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ice - Louis Nowra

Ice is the fictional biography of Malcolm McEacharn who became Lord Mayor of Melbourne, and helped work out a way to refridgerate meat to transport it to England. It is fictionalised and opens with a ship towing an iceberg into Sydney Harbour! It is narrated by a man who's wife is in a coma in hospital, and he is writing the biography to try and bring her out of it. She had been doing research on Malcolm. The story of the narrator and his wife develops slowly throughout the book, and I wished there was more, especially when Malcolm's story began to get too creepy. I liked the way it was woven through Malcom's story.

I guess it's about obsessive love, as Malcolm is obsessed by his first wife, and the narrator is obsessed with his wife and the obsession shapes what they do. Both of them are driven to do what they do by the love they have for their wives.

I haven't read anything else by Louis Nowra, and quite enjoyed his style.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Saturday - Ian McEwan

I found Saturday very hard going. The story intrigued me, and I wanted to enjoy the book... but!
In my Friday night book club in February, one of the members of the group said she didn't enjoy Let me Sing you Gentle Songs by Linda Olsson, because she felt like there was too much detail, and she was getting  bogged down in it. I have to say that is exactly how I felt about Saturday. One moment Henry is standing at the window looking out and then we have pages and pages of description of his work. I was a bit confused when all of a sudden he was back at the window again.

To be honest, the only reason I finished this book was because we were reading it for book club... ok ok, I didn't actually have it quite finished for book club, and I did want to finish it to count towards the 100+
challenge. It was really hard going. I had the same trouble with Atonement, but gave up on that without a second thought. I probably didn't really get into it until about 3/4 of the way through... normally I wouldn't persevere with a book that I'm struggling with for that long. I'm definitely of the "life's too short to struggle with a book" train of thought.

What about you? Do you give up when the going gets too tough? Or will you push through to the end?
Perhaps it's just my frame of mind these days that I don't want too much detail in what I'm reading. I don't want to have to struggle to read a book.

Monday, March 15, 2010

February Roundup - 100 + challenge

I'm finding that the thinner books are increasingly harder to read than the
thicker ones. I was almost managing a book every four days.
This month I read 5 books:
The Wild Things - Dave Eggers
50 ways to find a lover - Lucy-Anne Holmes
Let me sing you gentle songs - Linda Olsson
Wonders of a godless world - Andrew McGahan
The Single Man - Christopher Isherwood

It was a mixed bag of books this month. From Wild things based on the
Maurice Sedak book Where the Wild things are, to chick lit 50 ways to find
a Lover. Wonders of a godless world, which won the Aurealius Award this
year, to the Single Man by Christopher Isherwood. I really enjoyed Let me
sing you gentle songs. It generated great discussion in book club.
The Single Man was rather hard going. The perspective changed from second
person to third person and back again. The end was well developed. Although
I havent' seen the movie, starring Colin Firth, I could hear his voice as
I've now saved a total of $11 for the buck a book challenge.

Wonders of a Godless World

I've just finished reading Wonders of a Godless World by Andrew McGahan. It has just won the 2009 Aurealis Award for Science Fiction. It is a bit of an unusual book.

About the book
Wonders of a Godless World is set on an island in the middle of an ocean. The main character is a retarded orphan girl who works at the hospital. Mostly with the mental patients. She has no experience of the world outside the island. One day a patient is brought to the hospital in a coma. Strange things happens to the patients he is put near so he is moved to a room on his own. The patient is called the Foreigner by the girl. Very few of the characters have names. Eventually the Orphan starts to hear the voice of the Foreigner in her head. He shows her wonders she'd never dreamt of. It explores notions of power, reality and how human interaction affects the world around them.
I found it was a challenge to read, and often had to reread bits to make sense of them. Some of the imagery created was amazing. I think it definitely needs a reread before I can decide if I liked it or not.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Reading Journal Challenge

So apparently these reading challenges don't have to start with the new year. Through Novel Challenges I find new challenges starting all the time. I know I should stop looking, but I'm a bit addicted. I particularly like challenges that I can use my current reading for. The Reading Journal Challenge is one such challenge. You may have to scroll down the page to find the rules for this one. All the challenges set up on the readingwithsea blog seem to be on the one page.

The idea of the Reading Journal Challenge is to keep a journal of all books bought and read between March 2010 and February 2011. The minimum information required is the name and author of the books you've bought
and/or read in each month. I already make a note of books I've read, but not what I've bought.

50 ways to find a lover

I feel like I've read some pretty serious books lately, so I decided to
read something very light. Like most chick lit books there is a serious
undertone at times, but on the whole this was a fun book to read. I had
several laugh out loud moments that caused me to get funny books from other
people in the room.
50 ways to find a lover by Lucy-Anne Holmes is about Sarah Sargeant. She
hasn't had a date in 3 years and is about to give up on love. After a close
call with being on a reality tv show she decides to start a blog and
document the challenge of trying 50 different ways to find a man.
It was a fun, light read. I am looking forward to reading more books by
Lucy-Anne Holmes.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Wild Things by Dave Eggers

I don't know how I managed it, but I managed to grow up and do some children's library work without ever reading Where the wild things are by Maurice Sendak. I think that takes a certain amount of talent. I have a friend who was mortified that a video of the book made a little girl cry.
It still didn't make me read the book. I have seen the preview for the 2009 movie, but not seen it yet although I do want to. Then I heard about a novel made from the book and the movie called "The wild things" by Dave Eggers, an author I've always wanted to read.

It is an odd experience reading a book based on another book that you've heard so much about but never actually read. I didn't really know the story... a boy comes across some monsters. Right? 
The Wild Things was quite different to what I was expecting... given that I didn't know what I was expecting. The boy, Max, was there. The monsters -Carol, Judith, Ira, Douglas, Katherine, Bull and Alexander were there. The story was a bit different to what I was expecting. I talked about reading it in Book chat and one of the members said that kids enjoy the controlled scare, and that there is safety at the end.

It was an enjoyable read. I'd be interested in seeing the movie to see how it translates to the screen. Max seemed like a normal little boy, although he seemed to act on every thought he had. That could be normal behaviour for a boy of his age for all I know. When he got to the island, he was still doing that to some extent, only he thought the things he chose to do would make the Wild Things happy. It didn't. To me the book seemed to be about the safety and security of home. As when Max went to the island everything was a bit chaotic. I could have completely missed the point though.

A Buck a Book Reading Challenge

DelGal is hosting the A buck a book reading challenge.

You put aside a dollar for every book you read between 1 January 2010 to
31st December 2010. At the end of the challenge you get to spend the money on something fun for yourself! This sounds like a great challenge and it will link in with the 100+ reading challenge that I'm already doing. I can spend the year thinking of things to spend $100 on!! I have to remember to put $8 aside so far.

At the end of my monthly reading updates I will include the total amount saved so far.

Well back to the books for me!

Friday, February 5, 2010

January Roundup 100 + Challenge

Well January is over for another year. My goal is to read 2 books a month.
I read 6 books in January, which isn't great but isn't too bad either. I
think I can catch up... I just need to spend a little less time on Facebook
and more time reading. I think I will be more settled in February with no
overseas holidays to distract me... sadly!
Books read in January
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee - Rebecca Miller
The Good Luck Girl - Kerry Reichs
Invisible - Paul Auster
The Innocent - Harlan Coben
The Best Day of Someone Else's Life - Kerry Reichs
The Portrait - Willem Jan Otten (Also for The Art History Reading

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Portrait

I've just read the first book for the Art History Challenge. It was The Portrait by Willem Jan Otten. It is the story of a painting, narrated by the canvas. I think it was an interesting concept, but I'm not sure I really got it. The book is translated from Dutch. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge

I'm not quite sure how I came across this challenge, but I couldn't go passed it once I had. I love the show The Gilmore Girls. This challenge came about when the host of the challenge Lisa received an episode by episode list of all the books that made some kind of appearance on the show.

You can find the list on the Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge blog.
There are three levels of participation:

Emily: Read 5 books from at least two different categories.
Lorelai: Read 10 books from at least three different categories.
Rory: Read 20 books from at least four different categories.

I am aiming for Emily level but hoping to reach the Lorelai level once I work out which books can cross over.

Books chosen so far:

Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

Modern Classics
Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka

House of Sand and Fog - Andre Dubus III
The Virgin Suicides - Jeffrey Eugenides
Everything is Illuminated - Jonathon Safron Foer
The shining - Stephen King

The Good Luck Girl - Kerry Reichs

Ok, I have to admit that what drew me to this book was the cover. It was
all pink and purple and flowery... all very girly. Kerry Reichs is the
daughter of Kathy Reichs - writer of the Temperance Brennan books. I quite
like those books and I quite enjoyed The good luck girl.
It's the story of Maeve Connolly, who after going into remission and
graduating from college decides to start over again in L.A. Only to get
there she is taking a road trip in a car named
Elsie. Her trip takes her to places with unusual names like Nothing  and other
similarly odd named towns. Elsie breaks down in Unknown, Arizona. It's
here, unbeknownst to her that her new life starts. I don't want to give too
much of the story away so I'll stop here.
It's an easy and enjoyable read. There was one thing that annoyed me during
the first half of the book and that was that she takes up photography
seriously using a film camera. The book is set in current times, I keep
thinking 2009 because that's when it was published. Most people now use
digital cameras. It's a rare place that still has film developing. I know
this invites debate over whether film or digital is better... but that's
beside the point. I am slow in taking up new technology, but even I've had
a digital camera for 5 years. I'm stepping down off my soap box now.

2010 Bibliophilic Books Challenge

How could I resist a reading challenge where you read books about books and
reading? Many of my reading choices are based on whether there's a book
related theme. Shadow of the Wind hooked me in with the idea of the
cemetery of lost books.
The rules can be found at the 2010 Bibliophilic Book Challenge blog

There are 3 levels of participation:
Bookworm: Read three books
Litlover: Read six books
Bibliomaniac: Read twelve books
I am aiming for Litlover but may move up to Bibliomaniac. I haven't been
able to work out if reviewing is compulsory, but I guess sharing is fun!!
This is my list so far:
People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks
Inkheart - Cornelia Funke
Inkspell - Cornelia Funke
The book borrower - Alice Mattison
Angel's Game - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Thursday, January 7, 2010

100+ Reading Challenge

The third and so far final reading challenge I'm joining in 2010 is the 100+ Reading Challenge .
I am yet to read a hundred books in a year, so this could get really interesting. I am part of 2 book groups so there's 20 books there and with 6 from the Art History Challenge and some from the Aussie Author Challenge, I think I'm getting a good way there. Thank goodness for crossovers between challenges!

The rules of the 100+ challenge is to read over 100 books from 1st January to 31st December 2010. They can be in any format, but individual short stories or books of the Bible don't count.

I'll list my 100 read books at Library Thing and include the list down the side of my blog.

So far my TBR list includes:
Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
Spare room - Helen Garner
Brave new world - Aldus Huxley
Captain Corelli’s mandolin - Louis de Bernieres
The kite runner - Khaled Hosseini
Leopard - Guiseppe di Lampedusa
Saturday - Ian McEwan
Oscar & Lucinda - Peter Carey
Let me sing you gentle songs - Linda Olsson
Never let me go - Kazuo Ishiguro
Reluctant Fundamentalist - Moshin Hamid
The grapes of wrath - John Steinbeck
Notes on a scandal - Zoe Heller
We need to talk about Kevin - Lionel Shriver
From the land of green ghosts - Pascal Khoo Thwe
Oryx & Crake - Margaret Atwood
Snow country - Yasunari Kawabata
People of the book - Geraldine Brooks
Dracula - Bram Stoker

Aussie Author Challenge

This challenge is a bit harder because the conditions are that you have to read and review books by Australian Authors. I have no problem with the reading, it's the reviewing where things could fall down. But we'll see how it goes. I am to be Fair Dinkum about it!

Booklover Book Reviews is hosting this challenge. It runs from the 1st January  to 31st December 2010. There are 2 levels for the challenge:
TOURIST - Read and review 3 books by 3 different Australian authors
FAIR DINKUM - Read and review 8 books by Australian authors (a minimum of 5 different Australian authors)

There are at least 3 Australian authors on the lists for the book groups I'm apart of! So far my reading list is as follows:
The Magician's Apprentice - Trudi Canavan
Isabelle the Navigator - Luke Davies
The Lost Life - Steven Carroll
The Spare Room - Helen Garner
Oscar & Lucinda - Peter Carey
His Illegal Self - Peter Carey
Breath - Tim Winton
People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks

The Art History Reading Challenge 2010

I'm rather excited about taking part in the Art History Reading Challenge.
Apparently I'm fascinated as I have 5 books on my TBR pile already and I'm sure I can easily find more and might even move up a level.
To find out more about this challenge check out the Art History Reading Challenge blog. There are four levels of participation:
Curious - Read at least 3 books about art, either fiction or non-fiction.
Fascinated  - Read at least 6 books about art, either fiction or non-fiction.
Enamored- Read at least 9 books about art, either fiction or non-fiction.
Utterly enchanted - Read at least 12 books about art, either fiction or non-fiction.

The books can be non fiction or fiction, they just have to be about art.
Here is my list so far:
Swan Thieves - Elizabeth Kostova
Me & Kaminski - Daniel Kelhmann
The Painter of Battles - Arturo Perez-Reverte
Loving Frank - Nancy Horan
Jackson Pollock: an American Saga - Steven Naifeh & Gregory White Smith

2010 The year of the reading challenge

It's a new year, time for a new blog and new challenges. I've decided to make 2010 the year of the reading challenge! So far I've decided on 3 challenges, which I will post separately.
The challenges so far are:

The Art History Reading Challenge - Fascinated - 6 books
The Aussie Author Challenge - Fair Dinkum - 8 books and reviews
The 100+ Reading Challenge