Monday, 11 June 2007

Moving House

I'm moving house this week so I expect to be missing an internet connection for between 2-4 weeks will still keep reading for the challenges, although I will be abandoning the banned books challenge and spring reading thing, there is no way I will have a chance to tackle the last few book in the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

The Tenderness of Wolves - Peney

This was a read for a Real Life Reading Group, it had been sitting on my TBR pile for a good six months so was an excellent prompt to get me reading it.
This book follows in particular Mrs Ross, a mother who's son has gone missing and is now suspected of the murder of a local man, her only choice is to set off across the Canadian wilderness in deep winter to find him and the truth. The book also focuses on many other characters who become involved in the mystery.
For me, it was too long, too many characters and subplots happening, that said it was a book I enjoyed. Yet I am still left with far too many questions...........
Other Bloggers thoughts:
As winter tightens its grip on the isolated settlement of Canada’s Dove River in
1867, a man is brutally murdered and a 17-year-old boy disappears. Tracks
leaving the dead man’s cabin head north toward the forest and the tundra
beyond.In the wake of such violence, people are drawn to the
township—journalists, Hudson Bay Company men, trappers, traders—but do they want
to solve the crime or exploit it? One-by-one the assembled searchers set out
from Dove River, pursuing the tracks across a desolate landscape home only to
wild animals, madmen, and fugitives, variously seeking a murderer, a son, two
missing sisters, a forgotten Native culture, and a fortune in stolen furs.In an
astonishingly assured debut, Stef Penney weaves adventure, suspense, revelation,
and humour into a gripping historical tale, an exhilarating thriller, a keen
murder mystery, and ultimately, with the sheer scope and quality of her
storytelling, one of the best books of the year.
This book is being sold in the bookstores here with a "Good Reading Guarantee", and that if you didn't enjoy it you could get your money back. If I had of bought it, for the first couple of hundred pages I would have been seriously considered taking advantage of that guarantee. It's not that it wasn't a good read, because it was...eventually. Maybe it was just the way that I was feeling, but every time I opened this book and read a few pages I just wanted to go to sleep. Once I got past a couple of hundred pages it was okay, and I no longer felt the need to sleep through the book but it did take me a very long time to get to that point.Part of the issue for me was the sheer number of characters there were and how the action followed so many of them. We started out with the people who lived in the town of Dove River, particularly those who were directly affected by the murder of a French trapper. Then, the chief investigators enter the story - a couple of the upstanding gentlemen from the next town over, plus several men from the Hudson Bay Trading Company. Then a couple of other people vaguely connected to the case come into town as well. And then, everyone starts leaving again, in groups of ones and twos, ostensibly to try and track down the young boy who may or may not have killed the trapper. No one knows why he would do this, but still he has disappeared and that would make him appear guilty.As many of the characters leave Dove River, they enter the wilderness in the middle of winter making travelling hazardous and drawing unlikely travelling companions closer together. Eventually the travellers arrive at a small religious settlement, where yet more characters and subplots are introduced to the book, and then again when they travel on to a small company outpost a little further on.With the narrative following all the different characters as they arrive in Dove River and then leave in groups of two or three, the story switched too many times even within single chapters.In the end this was an okay read. I think that there were probably a couple too many strands of the story than there really needed to be and therefore it was difficult to draw them all back into a cohesive finish, but there was certainly a good story to be told in there, and definitely signs of a good writer.

If you have read this book feel free to comment or leave a link to your own review.

Thursday, 31 May 2007

Another week. Another Challenge! The Book Awards Reading Challenge is being hosted by 3M. You have to pledge to read 12 prize winning books between July 1st 2007 till June 30th 2008. Over at the site there is a list of eligible books.
My List:
1.) True History of the Kelly Gang, Peter Carey (Booker)
2.) A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth (Common Wealth)
3.) Gould's Book of Fish, Flanagan (Common Wealth)
4.)Small Island, Levy (Commeon Wealth)
5.) The Secret River, Grenville (Common Wealth)
6.) A Dance at the Slaughterhouse, Block (Edgar)
7.) Alias Grace, Atwood (Giller)
8.) Anil's Ghost, Ondaatje (Giller)
9.) American God's, Gaiman (Hugo)
10.) The Echo Maker, Powers (National)
11.) Cold Mountain, Frazier (National)
12.) Fugitive Pieces, Micheals (Orange Prize)

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

The Law of Dreams - Peter Behrens

This novel tells the young life of Fergus. Fergus is a young man running to escape the famine in Ireland to a place of hope, dreams and food. Yet Fergus doesn't know where England is yet alone America.Through the novel we travel across rural Ireland, the dark streets of Liverpool and across the sea to the land of hope, America. The novel is filled with fanastically vivid descriptions. In a few places I found that I was losing interest, yet then I was pulled back.In my opinion it should have been shorter, it went on for just that bit too long.

If you have read this book feel free to comment or leave a link to your own review.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Summer Reading Challenge

I decided to join yet another challenge the Summer Reading Challenge this runs from June 1st till August 1st. I'm pledging to read at least 4 books that I have purchased this year and I have also added some spares if things go well - as its the 6 weeks summer hols for me it could be easy.
My List:
My Book of Lost Things
The Book Thief
Water for Elephants
The Testement of Gideon Mack

Gould's Book of Fish
The Poison Wood Bible
A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers
The Peacock Throne

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Flowers for Algernon, Keyes

I read this for the Banned Books challenge and absolutely loved it. Certainly a book I would never have thought about picking up myself. This is about a boy with an IQ of just 68, untill science starts tryig to 'improve' him. His intellect increases dramatically but then Algernon, the test mouse for this operation dies and Charlie's future hangs in the balance.

WARNING: A real tear jerker!

If you have read this book feel free to comment or leave a link to your own review.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Dystopian Challenge.

I'm joining in with the Dystopian Challenge hosted byBooks.Lists.Life. I'm pledging to read 3 of these books by November the 6th and set myself an extra 2 to tackle if all is going really well.

The Books:
Cloud Atlas, Mitchell
Z for Zachaiah, O'Brein
The Road, Cormac McCarthy

Do Androids Dream of Sheep, Dick
Naked Lunch, Burroughs

Friday, 11 May 2007

Silas Marner - Elliot

This book is one of my attempts at tackling the classics, and it didn't disappoint.
The book tells the story of Silas Marner a weaver who is a loner as a result of an incident earlier in his life, he lives a secluded life and is obsessed with the gold he collects. Then his life changes when he is suddenly the adopted father of a small child, Eppie. She brings into his life new joys and new people.
A well told story but I only gave it 3 stars, for most of the book is fantastic but it seemed to really drop off in the middle, and there was a few random chapters where I was completely lost and confused.
Definately worth a read.

If you have read this book feel free to comment or leave a link to your own review.

Monday, 7 May 2007

A A-Z Challenge, The City of Beasts - Allende

I was attracted to this book because of its eye-catching cover and was unaware that it was a YA book untill I started reading it as I brought it from the adults section of the bookshop. Despite this I thoroughly enjoyed the read, was a great relaxing read for the long lazy lay-ins of the bank holiday weekend.
The book tells the story of Alex a 15yr old boy from California, as his mother is seriously ill he is spent to live with his grandmother, a travel writer. He joins her in the Amazon in search of The Beast, a 10 foot tall creature who kills humans on sight with his stench. All sounds a bit far fetched but was a great fantasy novel.

If you have read this book feel free to comment or leave a link to your own review.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Regeneration - Pat Barker

I read this novel for 2 reading challenges and really enjoyed it.
It is set during the war in a recovery centre for soldiers who have return from war as they are suffering some form of mental breakdown. The author builds this story up out of the real life meeting and relationships between the British poets Robert Graves, Seigfried Sasson and Wilfred Owen.
The book is fantastically well written and shows the horror of the war through the mens, memory and deteriation.
A 5 star read

If you have read this book feel free to comment or leave a link to your own review.

Friday, 20 April 2007

Milkweed - Jerry Spinelli

I was attracted to Milkweed just for the cover, but when I started to read it I was immediately sold. This is a book that grabs you from the first few lines.Its tells the story of a young street boy living in Poland in 1939. With no family or friends he believes he is called 'Stopthief' and does not know his name or if he is a Jew. He is taken under the wing of an older boy and gradually he learns more. This book shows the lead up to the holocaust for Jewish people in Poland from the eyes of an uneducated, naive bystander.

The prose is innocent and sparse, the short chapters move through the events so quickly that it is often a few pages on when it hits you what he has seen.

In my opinion even better than The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

If you have read this book feel free to comment or leave a link to your own review.

Friday, 13 April 2007

Tatty - Dwyer Hickey

Hailed by the critics as a masterpiece, Tatty is a devastating, yet hilarious,
depiction of a troubled Dublin family told through the lively, charismatic voice
of a little girl. With brutal honesty, Tatty tells the story of her life with
her beloved, feckless Dad, her tormented Mam, her five siblings and the booze
that brings them down. This not just an entertaining tale, but also a
heartbreaking account of a disturbed childhood that makes for compulsive
reading. From Amazon.

I randomly picked this up from a display of Orange Prize Nominees in the library. I'd seen it mentioned elsewhere earlier this week, though I have no recollection of where.This was a superb, though very short read. The author creates the childs voice superbly, although I could never get to grips with which narrative voice she was using, sometimes it appeared to be in the second person, sometimes in the third and sometimes I felt like the child was talking about herself in the third person. This would normally irritate the hell out of me, yet in this book it didn't matter. I was transported to a world of a five year old; trying to get to grips with the intricacies of the pub and her Dad's workmates, a 7 year old watching her mother struggle to get her disabled sister into a normal school, a world of many Aunts who bad-mouthed your father and the escape of boarding school. The charatcer is loveable, standing out from her tumbled family, dealing in her own way with her parents alcoholism and abandonment.If you liked Carry Me Down, My Sister's Keeper or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time try this.

If you have read this book feel free to comment or leave a link to your own review.

Monday, 9 April 2007

The World Unseen - Shamim Sarif

Maybe I'm ignorant but I had no idea that there was a large Indian population living in South Africa, let alone that this community were part of the heirarchy of races in 1950s South African race issues.

A really enlightening and informative read for me. This book discusses the lives of two Indian women who have recently moved to Indian areas of S.A. The women have to battle against the rules of their own culture, whilst finding themselves in a country where they are regarded as superior to black people yet inferior to white people. A really good read, a book which has sat on my TBR pile for far to long.

If you have read this book feel free to comment or leave a link to your own review.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

The Night Watch - Sarah Waters

As a lover of two of Waters' other books, Tipping The Velvet and Fingersmith I was kind of apprehensive about reading this new novel. I had heard others, who loved her previous work, criticise this book, a few having put this down without having finished it.

Yet, I loved it. It had everything I love about her writing. Fantastic characters. The ability to transport the reader back to another age, and for the reader to feel that they are almost there, standing in the periphery watching the characters in action.

The book is disjointed, it deals with the lives of several young people in WW2 struck London. Each story gradually being built upon, all slightly touching one another, yet never in too corny a way. She has of course her customary lesbian relationship, but various other relationships also exist.


If you have read this book feel free to comment or leave a link to your own review.

A-Z Challenge

I saw this on 3Ms site and I'm taking the liberty to borrow the idea. This is a personal challenge for me to be completed by December 31st. Hopefully it will also help me tackle the overly large TBR pile and encourage me to read the ones nearer the back rather than just the ones brought recently. I'm going to try and stick to this list and try and read it in order as much as possible around my other challenges and book group reads. If any one has any inspiration for Q I'd be glad to hear it.

BALLARD, Empire of the Sun
COETZEE, Waiting for the Barbarians
ESQUIVEL, Like Water for Chocolate
GAARDER, The Ringmaster's Daughter
HOEG, Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow
LEE, As I Walked Out One Summer Morning
McEWAN, Black Dogs
RABINYAN, Persian Brides
SOUEIF, In The Eye Of The Sun
TOWNSEND, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole
WOOLF, The Years
YEN, Falling Leaves

The DEVIL and Miss Prym, Coelho
The KITE RUNNER, Hassein
The NOTEBOOK, Sparks
ROOTS, Haley
SNOW, Pamuk
The THIRTEENTH TALE, Setterfield
The YEARS, Woolf

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Non Fiction Challenge

I'm joining this challenge in which I have t0 read 5 non fiction books between May 1st to September 30th. You can join or find out more by clicking on the button above.
My preliminary list (subject to change) is:
A Short History of Everythingby Bill Bryson
The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
Balderdash and Piffle by Alex Games.
And I'm going to search out a book on Indian culture hopefully.

Saturday, 31 March 2007

D a-z challenge: Dickens - Nicholas Nickleby.

The first book from my A-Z challenge completed!
This book has been being read very slowly over the last month. Sometimes it has been a struggle and at other moments I have loved it - but at all points I was determined to get it finished.

Friday, 30 March 2007

Top 5 reads of 2006

The Children's War, Stroyar: A mamouth novel based in a fantasy world in which the nazi's won WW2 and control the West. The reader follows the journey of one man and the problems he faces as a British person, sometimes simply trying to survive and at others trying to beat the enemy.
The Crimson Petal and the White, Faber: Follow the trials of a Victorian prostitute around Victorian London, the reader is taken with her on her journey from destitution upwards.
The History of Love, Krauss: A novel which explores the power of love from the eyes of an old man and a journey through a young girls life after the death of her father.
How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff: Written for teenagers, this book is set in war torn modern England and explores the life of an American teenager and her British cousins. Sounds corny but is an amazing read.
A Million Little Pieces, Frey: Autobiography or part fiction? Who cares? An amazing read about a journey out of addiction, gritty, truthful and hardhitting.

Favorite Books

This is not a definitive list and is certainly not in any preferance order but here are some of my all time fav reads:
Jane Eyre, Bronte
The Bone People, Hulme
The Children's War, Stroyar
The History of Love,
The Time Travellers Wife, Niffenger
The Handmaids Tale, Atwood
One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, Kesey
Middlesex, Eugendies
Passion, Morgan

Saturday, 24 March 2007

A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry

Synopsis: In 1975, in an unidentified Indian city, Mrs Dina Dalal, a financially pressed Parsi widow in her early 40s sets up a sweatshop of sorts in her ramshackle apartment. Determined to remain financially independent and to avoid a second marriage, she takes in a boarder and two Hindu tailors to sew dresses for an export company. As the four share their stories, then meals, then living space, human kinship prevails and the four become a kind of family, despite the lines of caste, class and religion. When tragedy strikes, their cherished, newfound stability is threatened, and each character must face a difficult choice in trying to salvage their relationships. Set in mid-1970s India, a subtle and compelling narrative about four unlikely characters who come together in circumstances no one could have foreseen soon after the government declares a 'State of Internal Emergency'. It is a breathtaking achievement: panoramic yet humane, intensely political yet rich with local delight.

This is a definite must read, at 600 pages it is a bulky read yet every page is well worth it. Unlike The Inheritance of Loss, which I read recently, the book is able to comment on the Indian political situation in detail without the reader needing immense prior knowledge of the situation. The book follows the lives of 4 characters and their aquaintances, their is not one character, central or marginal whom I wasn't interested in. The book builds the characters worlds and their past, their religions and castes, bad habits and good points.

Thoroughly enjoyable and thought provoking. Definatley recommended.

If you have read this book feel free to comment or leave a link to your own review.

Best book read in 2006

This was by far my best read in 2006. Unpublished in England I ordered it to be delivered, and had to wait an excrutiating 4 weeks for delivery while everyone on BookGroupOnline kept raving about it.

The Amazon synopsis: Living in a modern-day Europe under Nazi domination, Peter becomes caught up in the deadly reign of terror controlling his world when he is arrested for bearing a false identity, escapes an Nazi prison camp, and joins the Underground Home Army, a revolt against the evil of the Nazi political machine.

Doesn't do this book anywhere near the justice that i deserves. The books creates a different world, completely recognisable as the one we see around us but warped by a different type of political control. You love and hate various characters, wince and want to hide from some of the violence and cheer when things go well. And despite the fact that your arms feel like they are going to fall off with the weight of the book you are too caught up in the book to put it down.

An excellent read.

If you have read this book feel free to comment or leave a link to your own review.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Challenge Number 3!

I saw this on 3m challenges page and decided to have a go. Here's my list to have tackled by December 31st 2007:
2001: The History of the Kelly Gang, Carey
1991: Regeneration, Barker - Read
1981: A Good Man In Africa, Boyd
1971: In A Free State, Naipaul
1961: Breakfast at Tiffany's, Truffaid
1951: The Day of the Triffids, Wyndham
1941: Frenchman's Creek, du Maurier
1931: Rumour at Nightfall, Greene
1921: Women In Love, Lawrence
1911: Eathan Frome, Wharton
1901: Kim, Kipling
1891: Blind Love, Wilkie Collins
1881: Washington Square, James
1871: Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Saw, Carroll
1861: Silas Marner, Elliot

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

The Inheritance of Loss

Currently reading this for the Bookawards group.
I'm around 70 pages in and really enjoying it so far. The scenery and settings are perfectly depicted so the reader can really imagine them. My biggest problem is that I am yet to discover much about the characters.

22/03/07 Update:
Not getting a whole lot further with this book, something about it is bothering me and I kind of want to give up but I'm reading it for a book group so I will continue ploughing through it.
24/03/07 Update:
It's getting good again, only another hundred pages till it's finished. I think I lose interest when it gets too political.
24/03/07 (later in the day) Update: Finished this book off this evening. Such a strange book, at times I enjoyed it and in other places I hated then there were the moments I just wasn't bothered.

Synopsis: At the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas, lives an embittered old judge who wants nothing more than to retire in peace. But with the arrival of his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, and his cook's son trying to stay a step ahead of US immigration services, this is far from easy. When a Nepalese insurgency threatens Sai's blossoming romance with her handsome tutor they are forced to consider their colliding interests. The judge must revisit his past, his own journey and his role in this grasping world of conflicting desires every moment holding out the possibility for hope or betrayal.

More reviews on this novel can be found at The Complete Booker page

If you have read this book feel free to comment or leave a link to your own review.

Spring Reading Thing

I am also participating in this Challenge as my TBR is stepping over the 170 book mark and needs takling. I'm planning to read these 6 books before 21st June:
Love in the Time of Cholera
This Thing of Darkness
The Elephant Vanishes - Read

Monday, 19 March 2007

Banned Book Challenge

I'm going to participate in the Banned Book Challenge

I am challenging myself to read 5 books off this list by June 21st. They are:
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelo
Moll Flanders
Silas Marner, Elliot -Read
Flower's for Algernon, Keyes - Read
Love in the Time of Cholera