Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas and My 2011 Wrap-Up

Merry Christmas all you wonderful blog readers out there. It has been an awesome time learning about the blogging world and getting started on what will no doubt become a very long term love for all things book blog related.

I'm going offline for the next two weeks on a technology hiatus. With a incredibly hectic year I decided it was time to give myself a well earned break and switch off! Unfortunately work wouldn't let me get away with it that easily and I have agreed to working two days of my two week holiday but besides those two days I will do everything in my power to avoid touching any type of computer. Lets see how I go with that! :)

Some other big news is we're moving back to our home town. It is something my boyfriend and I have wanted for a long time and our opportunity (i.e. a job for him) came available and so we're very excited to make the move. Our home town is only a couple hours from where we are now so it's not a huge change but we do hope it'll mean a slower paced lifestyle.

Also, next year I'm off to Melbourne and Sydney, Australia for work in January and February so really looking forward to a bit more travel too.

I'll be taking a few books with me on my summer vacation. I'll be down at the beach with a few of these:

As for 2011 and reading, well I read a whole lot of great books (and a couple not so great). I've found some great blogs, expanded my reading genres, read a lot more non-fiction, and I'm really looking forward to blogging into 2012 (and doing a few challenges along the way). As for my favourites of 2011? Well I'll let them speak for themselves!

Top 5 Books Read in 2011

Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë)
The Alchemist (Paul Coelho)
The Mesmerist (Barbara Ewing)
Fall of Giants (Ken Follett)
5th Equal: Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt)
5th Equal: Call the Midwife (Jennifer Worth)

The Alchemist

Merry Christmas everyone and see you in the New Year!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

New Releases - December 2011

Good reads new releases for December


420 Characters
One Hundred and One Nights
The Artist of Disappearance
The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories 2011
The Scottish Prisoner: A Lord John Novel
The Spirit of Nora
All the Flowers in Shanghai
Queen of America: A Novel
The Kissing Tree
historical fiction

I've always really enjoyed Diana Gabaldon's novels but I haven't started the Lord John Grey series which The Scottish Prisoner is #3 so I'll need to try them out.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Enjoy Every Sandwich (Lee Lipsenthal)

Title: Enjoy Every Sandwich: Living each day as if it were your last
Author: Lee Lipsenthal, M.D.
Publication Date: 2011
Publisher: Crown Archetype
Pages: 195
Source: The publisher sent me a copy
Genre: Memoir
Goodreads | |

In July 2009 Lee Lipsenthal was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. As medical director of the Preventative Medicine Research Institute, Lee helped thousands of patients overcome their fears of death and pain while struggling with disease. Now his beliefs are tested as he journeys through his diagnosis, illness and treatment with his wife and two children.

When I first heard about this book I had an assumption that it was about the way in which Lee found acceptance of dying after he is diagnosed with cancer. This turned out to be a small misconception as through his work he already had many methods of dealing with fear of dying, anxiety and life events that were simply put through their greatest test when he was diagnosed. He was already heavily into meditation and holistic healing and tried every day to live a life of gratitude and love which helped him to deal with his diagnosis.
"I hope it will open the door for you to embrace your humanity, accept uncertainty, and live a life of gratitude whether you are facing the end now or not."
The books seemed to have two types of chapters. There were the more personal chapters around his illness where he described his diagnosis and the way in which he and his family reacted and felt about his illness along with chapters about dealing with anxiety and depression earlier in his life and I enjoyed reading these chapters for their personal insight and their very open and honest content.

Then there were other chapters that dealt very heavily with the spiritualistic life and methods that Lee believed so heavily in. I did not enjoy these chapters as much as i find it very hard to relate to these kinds of things. There were many different aspects from learning about past lives, the healing power of meditation, shamanic techniques and premonitions that I just simply didn't enjoy reading about as much. I also found these chapters difficult because a lot of the holistic techniques were described in detail from a medical research point of view which meant that many parts felt a lot less personal.

Every now and then a great little snippet would pop though like this one which I found very insightful
"...'today should be a good day to die.' This is a Native American expression sometimes used in battle. Today I die for a good cause but it also can mean that if each of our days is lived fully, without remorse, with love and service, any day is a good day to die."
It is an incredibly short read. I finished it in a couple of hours over the space of a day reading it on the bus to work and later that night. I think overall it is really well written and had a couple of interesting parts but as a whole it simply wasn't my kind of thing. However last night at book club I had a friend who is very interested in reading it as she is a lot more open and interested in spirituality so I think it would be a really good book for a particular kind of person. Unfortunately it just wasn't for me.

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Monday, 12 December 2011

It's Monday. What are you reading? 12 Dec 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.

This year has gone ridiculously fast. I can't believe it's almost Christmas. I'm having two weeks off work and I'm really looking forward to it. It's going to be a much needed break from my hectic schedule. Last week I finished Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rys) which tells the story of the first wife of Mr Rochester from Jane Eyre. It wasn't an easy read, the prose is difficult and the story jumps all over the place but it would be a great book for discussions and book clubs. I'd recommend reading Jane Eyre first though. You can check out my full review here.

I also tried out my new way of doing reviews - writing up little notes as I read the book - and I'm finding it really helpful. I'm remembering a lot more of the things I want to talk about in a review which is great and I think some of my reviews are now going to be more discussion oriented than before which I'm excited about because I'd love to get some opinion responses going on in the comment sections of my reviews.

This week I've just started reading Enjoy Every Sandwich: Living each day as if it were your last (Lee Lipsenthal) about Lipsethal as he faces death after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer. It is the first advance copy sent to me by a publisher so I'm very thankful for that. So far it has definitely caught my attention. I only started it this morning on the bus on my way into work and already I'm a quarter of the way through the book. It is a very easy read.

So I may even get two books read this week. Not sure what my other one will be. I'll surprise you! I have book club tomorrow night too so who knows what new books I may be bringing home. I did promise myself that I need to finish all my borrowed books by the end of my Christmas break so I won't be able to borrow too many or I'll never finish them all! 

And finally on the weekend I was browsing a second hand bookstore and came across a couple of awesome scores! I found (both in hardback) The Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe and Gone With the Wind. How awesome is that! I had decided to read some Poe for my 2012 challenges and now I have his complete works I'll be able to read a different story or poem for both Back to the Classics - Mystery/Crime/Horror Fiction and the Mixing it up Challenge - Horror category. Stoked. And what's more thanks to an awesome comment by one of my wonderful readers I already have a list of great stories I should start with. Bonus. Plus I had Gone with the Wind listed under my Classic Romance for the Back to the Classics challenge so I'm getting pretty sorted to kick butt on those challenges! Woop woop.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys)

Title: Wide Sargasso Sea
Author: Jean Rhys
Originally Published: 1966
This Edition Publication Date: 1997
Publisher: Penguin Books 
Pages: 192
Source: Book club borrowed
Genre: Classics, Literary Fiction
Goodreads | |

Wide Sargasso Sea tells the story of Antoinette Cosway, a Creole heiress who is married off to an Englishman with terrible consequences. It is Rhys' response to Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) in which Rhys believed the story of Mrs Rochester needed to be told. Wide Sargasso Sea provides the prequel to her story as she grows up in the West Indies and is married to a man who becomes distant and suspicious.

Interestingly it is a book that tries to stand on it's own. The Englishman is never named and only as he starts to refer to Antoinette as "Bertha", a name he prefers for her, does it start to connect with Jane Eyre.

The book is split into three parts. The first is narrated by Antoinette and touches on her childhood in a dilapidated plantation in Jamaica sometime in the 1830s after the Emancipation Act. In the second part, a young Mr Rochester describes his arrival in the West Indies, his marriage and its disastrous journey. The final part is once again narrated by his wife but the scene has switched to England and she writes from her attic room in Thornfield Hall. The third and final part is where the story intersects with that told in Jane Eyre.

Jean Rhys' writing is almost poetic and incredibly beautiful however it is also very disjointed and it can sometimes be hard to follow a particular stream of thought. Interestingly I actually found Wide Sargasso Sea more difficult to read from a writing style and literary sense than Jane Eyre! I was very glad to have my annotated version in the end that could help explain a lot of the text and themes that I missed on the first pass. My edition is heavily annotated with 8 footnote references in the first page of text alone! This edition also contains an Introduction, A Note on the Text, General Notes, followed by the footnote references I just mentioned. Also the Introduction written by Francis Wyndham in the first edition published in 1966  is also included. As always if you do end up with an edition like this ensure you read the introduction after you read the story as it gives away significant plot details.

When I first started reading part two I found it very disconcerting to switch over to a narration by Rochester (even if he isn't ever named as such). I think because he was such a predominant character in Jane Eyre I found it difficult to feel comfortable with hearing his narration by a different author. Somehow I had a bigger issue with it than the narration by Antoinette, maybe because she doesn't appear much as a character in Jane Eyre but more as an idea, you know sort of touched on bit by bit. But I did slowly get into the narration and was able to relax into the reading style a bit more.

Overall it's actually a very short novel and so didn't take very long to get through. In fact i think it took me as much time to read all the additional notes and introductions as the actual story. However I found them to be invaluable as they helped me to understand a lot of the story that sadly went over my head a little bit. I have to admit as a classic this is a little harder to follow than others I have read but overall I still enjoyed it. Having said that I still think you'd want to read Jane Eyre first before you read this one. It can stand on it's own but I think reading it with the knowledge of the plot of Jane Eyre does enhance the story and makes it a little easier to understand.

Read It

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Friday, 9 December 2011

Friday Video Love

I absolutely adore this! Perfect little Friday video.

Michael Buble Heckled By Mom - Watch MoreFunny Videos

If the embed doesn't work watch it here -
So cute when he says - "Holy Shitballs Mom!" .... it's awesome!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

January Readalong

Woohoo I've just signed up for my first ever Readalong. How fun! I'm going to be reading Norwegian Wood () with the other awesome peops over at Reading Rambo. Go check it out!

Quick goodreads synopsis:
"Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before.  Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable.  As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.

A poignant story of one college student's romantic coming-of-age, Norwegian Wood takes us to that distant place of a young man's first, hopeless, and heroic love."
It's going to be a great book to fuel discussions during the readalong.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Wednesday New Read Roundup 07 Dec 2011

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

Some of these ones are actually from the last couple of months. I'm a little behind in listing out my new to-read items ;)

See my full To-Read list at
  1. Bookworm with a View reviewed Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore and being a huge fan of historical fiction I'd love to read about someone I know so little about.
  2. I will always be keen to try new classics and since Your Move, Dickens loved The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde it's going on my list too.
  3. I've seen Domestic Violets around a few blogs but it was the review at The New Dork Review of Books that made me put it on my list.
  4. I really enjoy watching Stephen Fry but am always a little nervous about a novel written by actors but after reading Book World in my Head I think Making History is worth a shot.
  5. If Becky at Page Turners added The Chrysalids as one of her new favourite books of all time then it's definitely a must read for me.
  6. Another historical fiction reviewed at Book World in My Head, sees the lesser known woman monarchs of England get some character time in She-Wolves.
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!

Monday, 5 December 2011

It's Monday. What are you reading? 05 Dec 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.

So I just finished Angela's Ashes on the weekend and I loved it. It's a fantastic book so check out my full review. For my next book I've picked up Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rys) which tells the story of the wife of Mr Rochester from Jane Eyre. I'm incredibly intrigued to see how this story will develop and I have to say there is something really cool about reading a classic about a classic!

The edition I have is full of introductory text and reference notes. In fact there are like 7 references on the first page alone! I got over that real quick so I've decided I'm just going to read it through and then have a look through the notes and summary later. I think I'll enjoy the story more that way.

I'm curious about one other thing. Do you tend to write your reviews while you're reading the book or after? You see I struggled a lot with the Angela's Ashes review because while I was reading the book there was all this stuff I wanted to talk about and then afterwards looking back it had all completely gone out of my head. I think that happens a lot with me. While reading a book I have all these thoughts I want to share but after I finish I just want to get onto the next book! So I think I'm going to try writing up thoughts while I'm reading a book and see how that goes. When do you guys tend to write your reviews?

It's December now and the countdown to Christmas is on! I have a stack of borrowed books I hope to finish by the end of the year (or at least by the end of my Christmas/New Years break) so that I can start next year on the stack of classics I have waiting in the wings! Can't wait.

Oh yeah! And every week I get to read a few Mailbox Monday posts along with this Monday meme but I haven't participated yet because I haven't received anything in the Mail! I haven't ordered any books in so long as I have a huge TBR list on my shelf and the rest I've been getting from book club, the library and second hand book shops. But last week I received my first ever book by a publisher to be reviewed on this site. That is very exciting to me because now I feel like a real book blogger! It's an incredible milestone I have to say. So the book is called Enjoy Every Sandwich: Living each day as if it were your last (Lee Lipsenthal) and is the story of Lipsethal as he faces death after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer. I think this got sent to me because I really enjoyed tuesdays with Morrie and I am looking forward to reading this one although I think it might be quite different. I also have to say that the cover is so beautiful. It was a real delight opening my little package. So thanks to Crown Archetype for the copy.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt)

Title: Angela's Ashes
Author: Frank McCourt
Publisher: Flamingo
Publication Date:1997
Pages: 426
Source: Book club borrowed
Genre: Memoir, Auto-biography
Goodreads | |

Angela's Ashes is the stunning memoir of Francis "Frank" McCourt. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Frank moves back to his Mother's home town of Limerick, Ireland along with his alcoholic father, and his younger brothers Malachy, Oliver and Eugene after his baby sister Margaret dies. With his father drinking away what little money they have, Angela's Ashes paints a vivid portrait of a poor Irish Catholic childhood in the slums of Limerick.

I honestly could not put this book down. McCourt manages to capture the incredible surroundings of his childhood while not succumbing to a "woe is me" style depressive read. Recently many of you celebrated Thanksgiving and although we don't celebrate this holiday here I have to say if there was ever a book to read to make you thankful for the things you have in your own life this is it.

I think one of the lasting effects of this book will be the depiction of his father's alcoholism and the devastating impact it has for the entire family. It is an incredibly honest portrayal of a family trying to survive however they can.

It is easy to see why this book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997 and I know that many of you have already read it and hopefully fallen in love with it like I have. There is a follow up novel called 'Tis and a third called Teacher Man but I have heard very little about these or whether they live up to the first. I almost think this story would have more impact as a standalone book so I'm not sure if I will source out the others.

Read It

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