Friday, 30 September 2011

Happy Days - Book Depository now accepts NZ dollars!

I think I have just had the most exciting news of my week. The Book Depository now accepts New Zealand Dollars!! This is dangerous and fantastic all at the same time. I think I may have to physically restrain myself until my next pay date.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Wednesday New Read Roundup 28 Sept 2011

A weekly post to highlight new books added to my To Read list thanks to all those other great book bloggers out there.

See my full To-Read list at
  1. I like a happy feel good book as much as the next person so when Shelley at Book Clutter described The Blue Castle (Lucy Maud Montgomery) as "warm apple crisp with vanilla-bean icecream" sweet it went straight on my list. Of course it also helped that the author wrote one of my favourite children's books (even I didn't read it till I was in my 20s!).
  2. When I read the review at The New Dork Review for The Lonely Polygamist (Brady Udall) I wasn't sure if I would put it on my list. It sounded like a good book but not the type of thing I would normally read. But I'm all about getting out of my comfort zone (and why else would I be reading book blogs if not to find new and different books out there?!) so I'm going to give this one a go.
  3. I have a confession to make. I have never read anything by Ernest Hemingway... does that make me strange? Either way this review at The Blue Bookcase has me wanting to give Hemingway a try. I may start with a short story or two first before moving onto the book reviewed (A Moveable Feast) but I'm looking forward to it.
  4. I miss London. I lived there for two and a half years and when I think about it I have a lot of fond memories. So reading the review of Victoria Line, Central Line (Maeve Binchy) at She Loves Reading about a series of stories about people travelling the London Underground I was transported right back to those memories and so I really want to read this book because of that.
What did you find this week?

If you want to create your own new read roundup post feel free to do so and post the link to your blog in the comments below. Happy reading everyone!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


Have you ever struggled to apply a genre to a book you are reviewing? I certainly have. Especially as I am quite new to this and trying to specify a single genre against a book is rather tricky.

Most recently I was trying to determine the genre of a book and was thinking about putting it down to biography or memoir but I realised I wasn't perfectly clear what a memoir really was so I did a little research.

Now to understand this first we need to define an auto-biography and a biography. That's relatively simple; the first is a book about a person written by that person and the second is a book about a person written by someone else. That's pretty clear.

However a memoir is a little trickier. A memoir for many is classed as a sub-genre of auto-biography in which the story focuses on an aspect of the person's life. It may be only one time in a person's life, or one event or simply one aspect of their life. A memoir focuses on the emotions, moods and attitudes within the story rather than the factual events that occurred.

So the question I have is can a memoir be a biography? According to the literal definition of the genre, no. But why not? Take for example the book I mentioned earlier; tuesdays with Morrie. This book centers around the death of Morrie Schwatz, his feelings and thoughts and emotions about dying. If it had been written by himself I would have no qualms about saying this was a memoir. But it wasn't written by Morrie Schwatz, it was written by Mitch Albom. But here's the clincher the book is also about Albom and his experiences with Morrie. So is this book actually a memoir about Albom or a biography of Schwatz?

On a side note I fight with the genre Literary Fiction. Is it really a genre? Or is it just a term to try and differentiate a 'serious' book from it's counterparts? If we define a book on our blog to be literary fiction should was also assign it another genre to help clairfy it?

I am fascinated by genres (especially when a book doesn't fit into one) and find it a great way to fuel a discussion. So what do you think? Have you read the book and have an opinion on it's genre? Do you think a biography can be a memoir? Is there another genre I haven't heard of that could define a biographical memoir? What do you think of Literary Fiction as a genre? Do you even care about genres? Tell me your thoughts.

Monday, 26 September 2011

It's Monday. What are you reading? 26 Sept 2011

It's Monday. What are you Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey to outline what you have been reading and what you plan to read this week.

Last week I read tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom), a true story about a man getting back in touch with his college mentor who is dying from a terminal illness. I really enjoyed it, it's a beautiful uplifting book which allows you to explore aspects of your own life. Check out my full review here.

For this week I've just started To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) which is another book on my 100 book challenge list and one that I have been wanting to read for awhile. Luckily last week I was lent it by a friend of mine from book club who has been helping me get through the classics on my list and who thinks this is one of the best. I usually catch up a lot on my reading over the weekend but this weekend I got my hands on a challenging jigsaw puzzle (I'm a bit geeky with jigsaws, I love them) and I spent all my spare time on the weekend doing that! So I'm looking forward to getting into this book this week.

P.s. I'm off to see The Help at the movies tonight with my Mum so I'll let you know what I think. It's an independent cinema so looking forward to enjoying a glass of wine (or two...) with a great movie!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)

Title: tuesdays with Morrie
Author: Mitch Albom
Publisher: Sphere
Publication Date: 2009
First Published: 1997 
Pages: 192
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir

"When you learn how to die, you learn how to live."

Mitch Albom writes the true story of getting back in touch with his college professor and mentor, Morrie Schwartz, nearly twenty years after they have last seen each other, when he learns that he is dying from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). What starts as a reconnection with one of the most influential people from his past turns into one final classroom lesson. The subject? Life.

tuesdays with Morrie is a beautiful life affirming book which not only presents a wonderful story but provides the opportunity to re-address the values you have in your own life.
"Well, for one thing, the culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. We're teaching the wrong things. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn't work, don't buy it." pg 35
His "class" subjects with Albom include a variety of things in our lives that we seem to always have questions about; our culture, regrets, death, family, emotions, fear of aging, money, love, marriage and forgiveness. 
"You have to find what's good and true and beautiful in your life as it is now. Looking back makes you competitive. And, age is not a competitive issue." pg 120
One of my favourite sections was on emotions. I think a lot of it was due to my frame of mind having just lost a beloved family pet. It really helped me to experience the book in a different way than if I had read it at any other time. Morrie suggests that we throw ourselves into emotions, embrace them, understand what they are and how they make us feel, and then let them go. "you experience them fully and completely". It allows us to then recognise our own emotions and to not fear them. I found it incredibly healing to think that I could embrace my grief and to not feel guilty or embarrassed for feeling so much grief about a pet, embrace it and feel it, and then let it go.
"Most of us all walk around as if we're sleepwalking. We really don't experience the world fully, because we're half-asleep, doing things we automatically think we have to do." pg 83
tuesdays with Morrie is a truly uplifting book that allows us to re-connect with our own values and to analyse whether we are living to those ideals, while providing opportunities to remember those mentors in our lives who have shaped who we are.
"But the big things - how we think, what we value - those you must choose yourself. You can't let any-one - or any society - determine those for you." pg 155

Read It

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Book Club Borrowings 20/09

Last night was book club! Where a group of my fabulous friends get together and drink wine and chat.. oh and talk about books of course, sharing fantastic books around the group. This month we had a guest appearance from one of my friends who has just moved back from London who we all missed so it was awesome to see her there.

I was pretty lucky in the books that I borrowed. I took a few more than expected but that's usually the case at book club.

So this month I have the enormous hardback that is Fall of Giants (Ken Follett) set during the first world war. I loved his other books; Pillars of the Earth and World without End, and although I know Fall of Giants hasn't been getting very good reviews I haven't read a lot of books about the first world war so I'm really interested to read it. The Lollipop Shoes (Joanne Harris) aka The Girl with No Shadow (US edition) is the sequel to Chocolat which was such a nice book. Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt) is a book I have seen around a lot but actually didn't know that much about. I was surprised to find out it is set in Ireland so I'm really looking forward to reading it. Botswana Time (Will Randall) looks like it will be a fun light read, always a good option for breaking up longer books. And finally the one I'm most excited about, To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee). I honestly do not know how I haven't read this book yet but I have it now so can't wait to read it and it will be another one to cross off my 100 book challenge list.

Happy reading everyone!

Monday, 19 September 2011

It's Monday. What are you reading? 19 September 2011

It's Monday. What are you Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey to outline what you have been reading and what you plan to read this week.

Last week I finished reading The Amber Spyglass (Philip Pullman), the last in the Dark Materials trilogy. You can check out my full review here, and I also talk about what I think of the first two in the series. The Dark Materials triology was also on my 100 book challenge list so I got to cross one more off, always a nice feeling.

This week I'll be reading tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom), a true story about a man getting back in touch with his college mentor who is dying from a terminal illness. It's a book I think I'm really in the right frame of mind to read right now. It's really short so I'll probably be reading something else this week too but not sure what that might be. I have book club tomorrow so who knows what goodies I might end up with!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

His Dark Materials Trilogy (Phillip Pullman)

This week I finished reading The Amber Spyglass, the third and final book in the His Dark Materials trilogy written by Phillip Pullman. I read the first two books a few months back before I started this blog so I might as well review all three of them here.

Northern Lights (aka Golden Compass)

Publisher: Scholastic Children
Publication Date: 1998 
Pages: 416
Source: Borrowed off a friend
Genre: Young Adult, Adventure, Fantasy
Goodreads | | |

The Northern Lights introduces us to Lyra, a girl living in Oxford in a parallel world not dissimilar to our own, and her dæmon Pantalaimon (dæmon's are a part of a human existing externally in the shape of an animal), as she goes on an adventure to rescue her missing friend Roger and her imprisoned father who has been conducting experiments with a substance known as Dust. Along the way she meets Gyptians and Witches, an armoured bear, and Lee Scoresby a skilled aeronaut. It is a exiting tale of high adventure.

I read the book after I had watched the movie so I knew quite a lot about what was going on beforehand but I didn't like the movie that much so I went into the book with an open mind. I really enjoyed the first book, Pullman weaves an incredible story in a realistic alternative world with enough action packed adventure to keep you turning the page.

The Subtle Knife

Publisher: Scholastic Children
Publication Date: 1998 
Pages: 352
Source: Borrowed off a friend
Genre: Young Adult, Adventure, Fantasy
Goodreads | | |

The second book in the trilogy splits as we follow two characters; Lyra from the first book and Will Parry, a young boy who exists in our world who accidentally kills a man while protecting his mother and discovers a window that leads to Cittàgazze, a city in yet another world, in which to hide. However things here aren't quite what the seem as he discovers that only children remain. Lyra and Will meet up in this third world and find that their journeys are interlinked.

I found the story surrounding the knife and Cittàgazze absolutely fascinating and enjoyed the friendship that evolves between Lyra and Will. There are a lot of side stories within this novel but they are all fast paced and exiting, it was incredibly fun to try and unravel all the threads.

The Amber Spyglass

Publisher: Point
Publication Date: 2001 
Pages: 544
Source: Borrowed off a friend
Genre: Young Adult, Adventure, Fantasy
Goodreads | | |

The third and final novel in the His Dark Materials trilogy follows Will, accompanied by two angels, as he searches for Lyra who has been kidnapped. The story is also entwined with a number of sub-plots as we follow Dr Mary Malone who we met in the second book as she explores yet another world full of diamond-shaped skeleton beings who ride on wheels and Lord Asriel in his fight against the Authority and Ms Coulter in...whatever she seems to be doing, and later Will and Lyra as they journey into the world of the dead.

I found the third book ran with an undertone of almost anti-religion and I was intrigued by that so I did a little research. And sure enough there has been some controversy surrounding this series and I can certainly understand why some may have boycotted the book however I also wasn't offended by anything in the books and so was happy to read them to their conclusion. For me I found that the underlying current was more anti-oppression than anti-God and although I found the religious context interesting the lack of direction in the final book meant that any definitive impact was lost. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that the book was inspired by an epic poem Paradise Lost (John Milton) detailing the story of the Fall of Man.

I certainly didn't like the third and final book anywhere near as much as the first two. I felt that a lot of the adventure and pace of the first two books was lost in the final and as the story came to an end I found there were many areas of the story that just didn't sit right with me and I found myself with more questions that just couldn't be answered. I found myself thinking 'okay this happened but I can't work out why it happened'. This of course could simply come down to my interpretation of the story but there just seemed to be plot points that just didn't add up for me. I also hated what they did to Ms Coulter's character. She seemed to just keep doing 360s. Oh she's bad, no she's good, oh no she's bad, oh no wait she's good. It was almost like Pullman couldn't work out what to do with her and so just threw her in a different direction when it was convenient. And that gigantic battle that they were all preparing for over two books... anyone know how that ended up... no? Oh well guess we didn't need to know. And the whole subplot of Father Gomez? Yeah he was so pointless I've virtually forgotten him already.

So all in all I really enjoyed the series as a whole and would recommend it to those that like a bit of adventure and don't mind the odd bit of fantasy thrown in to the mix, but like me you may find yourself disappointed by the supposed conclusion.

His Dark Materials was read as part of my 100 book challenge of must read novels 
(17 read. 83 to go!).

Friday, 16 September 2011


Last night my beautiful cat Possum was hit by a car and passed away. My boyfriend and I are absolutely devastated as she was a special part of our family. I will miss you my little possum-boots.
RIP Possum

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Wednesday New Read Roundup 14 Sept 2011

Back to my Wednesday new read roundups thanks to finding some new great reads from other bloggers out there.

See my full To-Read list at
  1. I absolutely love all things fairy tale and definitely enjoy quirky so The Tiny Wife (Andrew Kaufman) reviewed by Gaskella about a robber who steals sentimental items instead of money which results in strange things happening to them like shrinking is a book I'm very keen to try.
  2. I am always on the lookout for books set in different locations around the world as I love reading about other cultures. So I have put The Hairdresser of Harere (Tendai Huchu) on my list reviewed at Curiosity Killed The Bookworm as I don't think I have read anything set in Zimbabwe so I think I'd like to give this one a go.
  3. When I came across this review at Bippity Boppity Book I was drawn to the book straight away. I mean who wouldn't want to read a book named after themselves?! And then I found that The Books of Rachel (Joel Gross) is a book detailing 500 years of Jewish history which I find fascinating. I have always been intrigued by the history of various religions and so this book is definitely going on my list.
What did you find this week?

If you want to create your own new read roundup post feel free to do so and post the link to your blog in the comments below. Happy reading everyone!

Changing it up

Thanks to some awesome help from Becky at I have switched over to a new commenting platform allowing much greater flexibility. Unfortunately previous comments made on the old system seem to no longer be visible so I do apologise for that.

Anyone wanting to help me test it out by leaving a comment below would be much appreciated.


Tuesday, 13 September 2011

New releases - September

Here are the new releases for September sent by Goodreads.


The Night Circus
The Leftovers
The Art of Fielding
The Winters in Bloom
Light from a Distant Star: A Novel
Only Time Will Tell
The Lost Wife
The Ballad of Tom Dooley: A Novel (Appalachian Ballad)
Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore
The Little Bride
historical fiction
Night Circus has such a beautiful cover and an interesting premise being set in a circus so I'm quite intrigued by it. And The Ballad of Tom Dooley sounds really interesting so those would be my two picks out of this selection.

Monday, 12 September 2011

It's Monday. What are you reading? 12 September 2011

It's Monday. What are you Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey to outline what you have been reading and what you plan to read this week.

An entire week and not a single review. In fact not a single post! What is going on?! Well I have had a rather busy week. I had a ridiculously busy work week including the need for a 13 hour day, and to top it all off I had a cold so when I wasn't working I was sleeping :) And finally, the most important of all, the Rugby World Cup started on the weekend and I was lucky enough to be down on the Auckland waterfront to experience this:

Very happy to be a Kiwi and hosting such an awesome event. If you want to check out the opening ceremony at Eden Park just before the first game you can try viewing it here in high quality: otherwise try it on youtube. They did an amazing job.

With all of that going on I read virtually nothing the whole week! But that's okay, some things are more important, like experiencing the largest fireworks display your country has ever put on :)

So this week I'll just be continuing to read The Amber Spyglass (Philip Pullman), the last in the Dark Materials trilogy. That's if I don't get distracted with some more rugby games ;)

Monday, 5 September 2011

It's Monday. What are you reading? 05 September 2011

It's Monday. What are you Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey to outline what you have been reading and what you plan to read this week.

Last week I finished two books; Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë) which I LOVED and you can check out my review here and that was followed up by The Road (Cormac McCarthy) which I wasn't so fond of but you can see the full details in my review.

Next up I need something a bit lighter and more fun so I have picked an adventure tale and I'm reading The Amber Spyglass (Philip Pullman), the last in the Dark Materials trilogy and along with being a book lent by a friend which I really need to read so I can give it back to her is luckily also on my 100 book challenge list. I'm really looking forward to reading the end of this series.