Monday, 31 October 2011

It's Monday. What are you reading? 31 Oct 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.

Happy Halloween everyone! It's not such a big ocassion here in NZ but I know those of my readers in America will be busy getting their costumes ready and hitting the streets trick or treating!

A lot has happened since my last It's Monday post. I have written up my review for To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) which of course was a great book. I also wrote up a review for Inconceivable (Ben Elton) which wasn't such a great book...

I also grabbed a non-fiction from my local library which I have been wanting to read called In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto (Michael Pollan) which was really interesting so I'll write up some details on that one this week.

For this week I'm still reading Fall of Giants (Ken Follett) which as you know is rather large (nearly 1000 pages) so can only read when I'm at home. Really enjoying it though. And I've also just started The Housekeeper and The Professor (Yoko Ogawa) asI love translated fiction and this one sounds so interesting about a housekeeper who is looking after a professor who due to an accident only has eighty minutes of short-term memory.

That's it for now but there is plenty more waiting in the wings.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Book Club Borrowings 25 Oct

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, after which we share these fantastic books amongst us. This month I had the pleasure of hosting and it was wonderful to see everyone.

This month I was very careful not to take too many as I still have books from the previous month that I haven't read yet.

So this time I only grabbed two. Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys) is the untold story of the wife of Mr Rochester from Jane Eyre. I fell in love with Jane Eyre when I read it recently and so I'm really looking forward to trying this follow up and it should be an interesting take on one of the characters. I also grabbed Affinity (Sarah Waters) as my friend likes her as an author but I haven't read anything of hers so thought this was a good one to try.

Happy reading everyone!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Inconceivable (Ben Elton)

Title: Inconceivable
Author: Ben Elton
Publisher: Black Swan
Publication Date: 2000 
Pages: 367
Source: Own copy
Genre: Humor
Goodreads | |

I'm not going to spend too much time on this one because in short I wasn't too impressed. The premise is that Inconceivable is about a couple who are trying to have a baby but things aren't quite working out how they planned. Lucy is desperate for a child and does everything imaginable to make that happen while Sam is also preoccupied by his failure to write a hit movie.

This book had all the right elements; British wit and humour and an interesting storyline which should make for a great weekend read, right? And yet somehow this one just misses the mark. I enjoyed the writing narrative - it's told in the context of both Lucy and Sam as they write in their 'diaries', a therapeutic device to help them work through their thoughts and feelings surrounding their inability to conceive. Naturally Sam takes a little longer to get into it. But overall I found the characters themselves superficial and flat, especially Lucy. And since I couldn't really connect with them I simply couldn't get into the book. I think it simply comes down to that. However I also didn't find it that funny which was very disappointing, there were a few great lines that gave me the a good odd snort or two but overall it was, well, just flat.

This is the first book I have read by Ben Elton and I did enjoy his writing style so I probably would try another one but I wouldn't recommend this one.

Skip It.

********** SPOILERS *************
Normally I don't include spoilers but I just had to get this one off my chest as it's one of the reasons I didn't like the book. Lucy really really annoyed me. From my perspective she simply wasn't very like-able and I think that culminated with her cheating on her husband. Now the thing that bugged me the most is that she was so blasé about it. She didn't think that snogging some other guy really counted as being unfaithful and she was so proud of herself for not sleeping with him and showing such restraint. I mean since she didn't sleep with him she wasn't unfaithful, not really. Um hello? I'm sorry but there simply needed to be far more guilt for this to feel realistic. Sam wasn't too bad, he was a bit more realistic, I liked him at the start but then in the end he just becomes a complete sap. Not appealing.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

Title: To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: Harper Lee
Original Publication Date: 1960
My Version Published By: Arrow Books, 2006
Pages: 309
Source: Book club borrowed
Genre: Classics, Literary Fiction
Goodreads | |

It's pretty incredible to think that this is one of the all time classic novels and yet I actually knew nothing about it. How is that possible? Well for starters it was never assigned at school which seems to be when most read it. But beyond that I think it's one of those things that you hear so often the name becomes so common place that you get lulled into a sense of familiarity, until one day you start a blog, decide to do a 100 book challenge and come to the startling realisation that not only have you never read the book, but you have no clue what's it's even about! Cue embarrassment and a good self-chastising by yours truly. So with all that being said I'm going to be giving a bit more of an in-depth review on this one. Usually I try to keep the suspense for the many who haven't read it but lets be honest, there are probably very few people who read this blog who haven't read it so why not throw a bit more discussion into this one. But don't worry if by some miracle there is someone else out there who is in the same boat as me then I won't be giving any major spoilers away.

To Kill a Mockingbird was a story of love and acceptance narrated by a young girl living in 1930s America. I loved Scout's approach to life. She didn't want to conform to societies expectation that she start behaving like a lady. Oh no, she wanted to play with the boys. She wasn't any different to them in her eyes. I loathe to call her a tom-boy because I think it was more than that. She wanted to be equal. She would stand up for herself and wouldn't let anyone tell her what to do. I really admired her as a character because of that.

I found it incredible to explore the relationship she had with her father, Atticus. He spoke to his children like adults, always being open and honest in all opportunities and yet he nurtured their child mind by allowing them to be and think and feel the way they needed to. He is an incredible role model as a parent and I think that is portrayed really well in the book.

The main premise of the book is the story of Tom Robinson, a black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman who Atticus is defending. It is all told from the perspective of Scout which of course lends a really unique story-telling approach. You get to see everything almost third hand as she tries to make sense of everything that is going on - from people saying mean things about her father for defending him, to the courtroom where it is all clear cut for the children and they can't possible fathom why he wouldn't be let off. This story is the centre of the book however there is so much more and you really need all these interchanging stories to provide the whole. This book is more than just a book about race relations but is a book about love, acceptance and friendship.

I think one of the most endearing parts of the book in terms of Scout's character is how she believes she can get out of going to school by swearing incessantly, thinking the adults would believe she had picked it up from school and would remove her. School didn't suit her as she had to conform to their requirements. She was told off because she could already read, having been taught by her father, and her teacher was furious saying she'd have to re-teach her the correct way. Um... what? It really went a long way to showing how Scout fought against things that didn't make sense. I can imagine that the author put a lot of herself into this character.

But certainly my favourite part of the whole book is the kids relationship with Boo Radley. Boo Radley is the mysterious man down the street who all the kids are scared of as he never leaves his parents house. Most of the neighborhood children are too scared to even walk past his house thinking he has become some kind of monster but Scout and her brother are too defiant for that and over time they become more and more daring. They were the best parts of the book I thought.

Overall it was a great book and I can see why so many people have it as one of their favourites. I also think it is a brilliant book to study in school thanks to so many of the underlying themes prevalent in the book, not to mention the unique narration. However, I'm not entirely sure why, but the book hasn't jumped to the top of my favourites list. Yes I enjoyed it and think it's a wonderful book, but for some reason I didn't fall in love with it. But needless to say this is still a must read and I'm incredibly thankful I was finally able to.

To Kill a Mocking-bird was read as part of my 100 book challenge of must read novels.

(18 read. 82 to go!).

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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

New Releases - October

New releases in October thanks to


The Marriage Plot: A Novel
The Best of Me
The Night Strangers
When She Woke
Falling Together
The Lady of the Rivers
The Dovekeepers
Song of the Nile
A Sound Among the Trees: A Novel
historical fiction
Liking the look of The Marriage Plot and The Best of Me in the Fiction category. While in the Historical Fiction section The Dovekeepers sounds awesome. I've never read anything by Alice Hoffman before so I'm going to have to keep an eye out for her but The Doverkeepers definitely sounds like my sort of book as it's set in 70CE and focuses on a small selection of Jewish woman.

Monday, 10 October 2011

It's Monday. What are you reading? 10 Oct 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.

Well things still haven't eased up too much but hopefully they'll be back to normal by the end of this week. I did however manage to finish To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) which of course was a great book so now I just need to find the time to write up my review.

I'm doing something a little bit different for my next book. Because I'm actually reading 2. I don't do this often as I don't enjoy reading more than one book at once but this time it was essential. I have just started to read Fall of Giants (Ken Follett) which is HUGE. One of my book club borrowings, Fall of Giants is set during World War I, this epic novel hasn't been getting great reviews but only a few chapters into it and I am hooked. Hopefully it keeps up the story pace. Since it is so large there is no way I will be taking it on the bus with me so I needed a smaller book too. I decided to grab Inconceivable (Ben Elton) off the shelf as I felt like something light-hearted would be different enough from the other book that I wouldn't have any issues reading them at the same time.

Plus a friend of mine has lent me another book they think I'll really like called Up Country (Nelson Demille). I'll admit I know nothing about this book other than it is set in Vietnam (a place I have been obsessed with ever since I visited it) as it was only just dropped onto my desk about 2 hours ago! How exciting.

Enjoying a much needed break on Sunday night. With Fall of Giants, a glass of Baileys and watching the All Blacks playing in the rugby world cup. Fantastic!

Monday, 3 October 2011

It's Monday. What are you reading? 03 Oct 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.

Gaaahhhhh! This week has been manic. I had to work most of the weekend so I have had a very unproductive reading week. I'm still reading To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) which I'm enjoying but I just don't have enough time to sit down and get into it. Fingers crossed things ease up a bit this week.