Monday, 28 February 2011

Room by Emma Donoghue

This book has been all over the blogsphere, booksites and bookshop windows for ages I am starting to wonder if there are many people left who haven't read it!

For those handful of you who haven't, the novel is narrated by 5 year old Jack. His whole life has been spent in one single locked Room. His world is created by Wardrobe, the place to sleep, TV where his bestfriends live, Rug where he does his PE lessons, and his mother who works hard to create as normal life for him as she possibly can. Kidnapped, his mother is determined that her son will not know that he is missing out on life outside Room. So much so, that she doesn't tell him about the world outside.
Yet one day he discovers the truth. From then on we see how he processes the information and deals with the reality of his life.

I loved many elements of this novel, the 5 year old narration and view point, the mother-son bond and the little shell of a world in which they exist. In a few places the story is dubious - his language skills are just too far advanced, and in one or two places the narration stutters and an anonymous narrator seems to slip through for just the breifest of moments.

As much as I enjoyed the book I'm surprised that it got so far in the Man Booker prize as I read it as a light read (my plane read) and wouldn't consider it literature. I also can't see it hanging around for a long time, and would class it with Jodi Picoult style novels.
What did you think about it's Booker nomination? Did you think it deserved its place?

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Trash by Andy Mulligan

I got sent this book as my first read for UK BookTours a site which allows those in the UK to read YA ARCs.

THE STORY: Set in a slum the children and adults on the site make a poor living sifting through moutains of rubbish in search of plastic to feed themselves, and the hope of finding some new clothes. Each has a dream of one day discovering treasure which will save them from this life of misery. One day Rapheal does. Yet the discovery doesn't lead him down the yellow brick road but rather leads to a chase to discovery against the will of the police.

MY THOUGHTS: I would aim this book at children aged 10-12 and think for them this would be great, its like a modern day Famous Five but without the glitz and sugar coating. The book opens us up to a world we rarely see. I enjoyed the read, their journey and the mystery of what was going on. You have to accept that these boys are some how educated and pretty quick witted despite their lack of education and knowledge of the world.

Friday, 25 February 2011

1001 BTRBYD Month

I'm back from my holiday and now really in need of tackling all the little challenges that I set myself. I'm going to be restarting the TBR Dare - I had a target of reading 25 books to read before I could read anything which was on my shelf before 01.01.11 (with the exception of bookrings and preview copies), things went wrong when I took all kinds of books on holiday with me. I do really want to make a substantial dent in this mound of books so I'm going to get myself back on track.

One of the targets which I set myself was to read 40 books from the 1001 btrbyd list, so far I've only read 3. I'm only reading books from that list from the 26th Feb - March 26th and aiming to knock off another 7 (minimum from that list). This is a personal challenge to try and keep me on track.

I'll be back with reviews of the books I read on holiday and some of the sites I saw once the jet lag has gone.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Rules are just meant to be broken....

I leave for New York on Saturday, and as I'm in a different country I'm deviating from all my normal rules and breaking the tbr dare! (I can hear you all muttering in disgust! lol). I have a review book, plus a couple of novels which people think I should really read and have given me to read on the plane. I feel guilty not taking them, and even more guilty knowing that if I don't break the rules I will have to keep them waiting for their books back until I have read another 15 more.
However I will be returning and starting the dare again when I return to British soil, as I really do need to tackle to TBR shelves.
So what am I taking?
An Idiot Abroad, Karl Pilkington - I watched a couple of episodes of the show last year (this is actually my own book so I'm not breaking all the rules).
Room, Emma Donohue (my mum's donation)
One of the Charlaine Harris True Blood novels, I can't remember the title, a friend has given it to me and insisted I give it a go as he loves them, not normally my thing, but I should try.
Trash, Andy Mulligan - a review copy.
I also have The True Diary of a Part Time Indian and Speak on my iPod.

And I'm feeling like I should take something else, or maybe 2 more....I'm only gone for 6 days and am taking 43 15 year olds with me so I know that taking 4 books is ludicrous but I may get stuck with rubbish movies on the plane, a child may be sick and I may have to stay in the hotel with them, we may get stuck in an airport due to show, volcano ash or air strikes!!!1 Yes, ridiculous but I can't bare to be sat not reading thinkin of what I could read.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Mean Time by Carol Ann Duffy

I'm rubbish at writing about poetry collections unless I'm writing an essay and have a specific question to answer, so this will be short and sweet. I'm going to use the interview style as I'm hoping it'll prompt more from my head.

Why this author and this collection? I've read and loved three previous collections by Duffy (The World's Wife, Rapture and Feminine Gospels) plus we use Duffy's poetry in school a lot. I always love the way she expresses herself, her raw emotions and recurring themes. I'm hoping to read a lot more poetry this year and thought adding a Duffy book to my Christmas list might spur me on. This one was simply the first collection I hadn't read of hers on the amazon page.

How would you describe the poems in 'Mean Time'?The poems in this collection seem to centre largely around the teenage period in her life. They are often about school, especially early on in the collection. Moving through the collection she grows up and reflects on love affairs and relationships. Having said that, some of them don't seem to fit, for example the poem 'Havisham' which I've taught for years and always assumed come from The World's Wife.

Any favourite poems or lines?
I think my favourite poems were 'Brothers', 'Before you Were Mine' (which I love to teach), 'First Love' and 'Small Female Skull'.
This collection also features the poem 'Valentine' the antithesis to today and all the heart shape cookies and teddies. I love the opening:
'Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper,
It promises light
Like the careful undressing of love.'

Click on the link above to read the rest.

Will this become a favourite collection?

I don't think that this will replace The World's Wife which I love but there are certainly poems in the collection I will return to again and again. The collection will sit on the shelves and be pulled out and browsed through many times.

Friday, 11 February 2011

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammet

My first non tbr read of the year, this one was allowed as it was a bookgroup read however I fear that my journey to and from New York is going to be my downfall as I've been sent and given books that look like ideal plane ride books.

The Maltese Falcon is a detective novel from 1929. The book follows Sam Spade, who starts an investigation to discover a missing sister, which soon involves the death of his partner, him being stitched up for murder and the search for the Maltese Falcon, a prized ornament.
Spade is a typical detenctive, women falling for him all over the place and a criminal himself with many dodgy police helping his cause. I can't tell you anymore of the story without giving away too much.

I raced through the first 100 pages, the style was easy to read and there was plenty happening, then I really slowed down and stretched the next 100 pages over 4 nights. I lost interest as more and more people became involved, and there was so many people double crossing one another. Also, I disliked the way the women fawned over Spade; he was clearly sleeping with his secutary even though she knew he was also with many other women, yet she bowed to his every request. I suppose it's a product of its time yet it still bothered me.

Monday, 7 February 2011

In My Mailbox

I don't normally participate in IMM as I rarely have many books arriving to the house each week, but last week was a week of deliveries ahoy! So I thought I'd show you my new editions to the house.

First up were these beautiful ATC (artist trading cards), I participated in a group swap were we had to send a card to each member of the group, there were 13 members in total so I should be recieving more of these in the coming weeks. We each had to create a card (credit card size) which used just one colour. My favourite is the yellow butterfly design. When these have all arrived I'll create a little book of them or find some way to display them in the house.

This picture is kind of a lie. I actually recieved a box with 19 books in it, I then had to select those I wanted to read and replace them with the same number of books I removed (not too bad for the tbr stacks). This box contained only books from the 1001 bookcrossing library - books that are in the 1001 books to read before you die list. The other 11 books were those I'd read previously. These bookboxes seem expensive to post, this will cost me about £10, but then I'm getting 8 books and a book averages at £7 if brought new, so its good in its way.
I took out:
Angus Wilson, No Laughing Matter
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor
E.M Forster, A Room With a View
Jack London, The Call of the Wild and White Fang
Dorothy L. Sayers, The Nine Tailors
Dashiell Hammett, The Thin Man
Murial Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

With the exception of Forster these are all new to me authors so I may find a new fav.

This pile are the other books which arrived in the post.
Anthony Powell, At Lady Molly's
Cees Nooteboom, Rituals
Antonio Tabucchi, Pereria Maintains
All from bookcrossings 1001 virtual bookbox (the same idea as before but the 'box' is sent via email to save postage.
Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon (my bookgroup read for the month - allowed as one of my exceptions to the TBR Dare)

Not pictured:
H.G Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau (a bookring - another exception to the TBR Dare)
Gray's Anatomy: Season One (I love this show so much and have been hiring the DVDs through a postal service. I'm on season 4 now and have to say my crush on Dr Sheppard just grows, but I'm also starting to find George attractive!)

Did you get anything good through the post this week?

Sunday, 6 February 2011

TSS: Bleak House by Charles Dickens

It looks like I'm getting good at read-a-longs, another one finished :D
I started reading Bleak House back in November, we read a section each Sunday following the sections that Dickens had them published originally in the perodicals.

A quick summary: Bleak House focuses on the main heroine Esther, she starts her life as a orphan, with a childhood of misery. When her aunt dies she finds that she is taken by a new guardian along with two other teenagers to live in Bleak House. The three all share a link in a long legal debate over a will, which has been being debated longer than the three have lived.
Esther's a kind hearted a generous central character, formaing relationships with many along the way, from orphaned children to the aristocracy. The novel explores the power of greed, the unravelling of secrets and friendships.

Dickens is one of those authors who I'm never 100% sure of, I have loved some of his works (Great Expectations in particular) and really disliked others (Nicholas Nickelby). This novel held me unsure of my feelings for it over a number of months. Split into two narratives, Esther's and a unknown narrators, we view all manner of peoples lives, many who are only barely linked to Esther's story. And while I loved her narrative, which focused on just the few people she met, I dislike the other narrative which introduced too many characters and was hard to follow.
I think that as a read-a-long we should have read more each week, the sections were about 30 pages in length and varied in enjoyment. Sometimes you finished a Sunday reading glad to have spent 30minutes with Esther and other weeks the reading left me bored and wondering what was happening to Esther.
The BBC adaptation of this is supposed to be brilliant, I'm hoping to hire this and watch it in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Jezebel by Irene Nemirovsky

I finally finished another book! My reading time seems to be being zapped at the moment, school work is filling up my spare hours, plus I've discovered some new TV shows and DVD boxsets so my spare time is being eaten into.

Jezebel starts with the court case of an older woman accused of killing her much younger lover. The court watches in awe and fascination, not because the death of a 21 year old man, but because of the beauty and poise of the accused.
From then on the novel recounts moments from her life, showing her growth, relationships and leading to the murder.

For me this novel just didn't work, which is frustrating because the idea behind it really sounds like it should be a good read. The main character was simply hideous, one of those obnoxious girls at school who I would have simply hated. Other characters flit in and out so that we never get to form an attachment to them.

I think if the book had been much longer than its 190 pages, of fairly big font, I would have given it up and started something new.