Saturday, 31 January 2009

One Book Meme

I saw this at A Striped Armchair and since I'm not in the right frame of mind for writing reviews I thought I'd give this a go.

One book you’re currently reading: The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffenger

One book that changed your life: Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers(tacky self help I know, but it worked!)

One book you’d want on a deserted island: The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll

One book you’ve read more than once: Enduring Love by Ian McKewan

One book you’ve never been able to finish: Anything by William Faukner( but I will, hopefully this year)

One book that made you laugh: The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby

One book that made you cry: Tess of the D'urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

One book you keep rereading: The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice (I think I'm in love with lestat. Lol)

One book you’ve been meaning to read: Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

One book you believe everyone should read: English Passengers by Matthew Kneale

Finally,Grab the nearest book. Open it to page 56. Find the 5th sentence.

I wish to goodness I'd never stepped into this silly land, thought joe a hundred times. Its a good thing the bears are so nice to me.

From the Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton. My daughter's reading it.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Which World Classics Character are you?

You have the characteristics of Alice from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. You are a dreamer with a vivid imagination, someone who thinks outside the box with a tendency to end up in unusual situations.
Hmmm, I think this isn't far off. I know people who know would me would say I' very often in a world of my own anyway!

I saw this at Lynda's Book Blog a few days ago and since I'm having a bad day I thought I'd do this to try and cheer myself up a bit. And it worked! I'm smiling now!

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Saplings by Noel Streatfield

Written in 1945, and the only one of Streatfeild's adult novels still in print, I came to this because Ballet Shoes was my favourite childhood book, and until very recently I wasn't aware she had written adult books too. As an added bonus it fits in well with the World War II challenge. The Wiltshires are a family of four children, Laurel, Tony,Kim and Tuesday.

As with many WWII novels the story centres on the realities of evacuation, but where this differs is that the Wiltshires are a middle class family, not a poor working class family. This is made clear from the start as the family are seen on the beach, with their nanny and governess, as well as their parents. It soon becomes clear though that although the father is very family orientated, the mother puts family life as a clear second to her role as wife and lover.

"He would have gone into the tent to put on his things. When they were first married, or even a few years ago, she would have gone with him. She would not have missed those seconds in the hot tent, the flash of passion that would have come from the closeness of his cool, naked body. But he had got so self conscious, always worrying about what the children were thinking."

Lena does not really take much of an interest in the children's emotional well-being. She is there as quite an aloof mother, playing with the children only when it seems to her it would be a perfect scene of idyllic motherhood. Lena likes to put on a show for others, and to be seen as a perfect, ideal family. She dresses the children nicely, and on occasions where others will see, she makes a great fuss of her children.

"Lena had Kim next to her. He really was a most ornamental child, both in looks and the way he said things. She saw that with charmed smiles the next table were listening. She led Kim on."

However, despite this the children are happy. This contented little unit is shattered when war breaks out and the children have to leave London. They are evacuated to their grandparents house, without Lena, who refuses to leave Alex. From here the novel becomes an examination of how children react to the displacement of war, and deal with loss and grief.

As the war progresses, the children lose more and more of the things that are precious to them, both through the tragedies of war, and the unthinking actions of adults. They are shifted from school to school and from one relative to another during holidays. They lose the presence of their governess as she goes off to assist in the war effort. They all suffer, in very different ways, and the novel finishes with them all in a very delicate emotional state, and we are not assured of their future well being.

Lena must take the brunt of the blame for the suffering caused to the children. Although she could have done nothing about the tragedies caused by war, and the need to move from their London home, she could have provided a more stable base for her children. She failed to understand their real needs and became lost in her own difficulties.

The suffering of children is one of the main themes of this book. The Wiltshires suffer because of war, and their mother's inability to be the stable, caring mother they so desperately need. The children are victims of fate really. In traditional tragedy conventions, they are acted upon rather than having much of a say in their own fate. It is important letters that go missing, overheard conversations, and adult relationships impacting upon them. Even right at the end of the novel it is made clear that the adults have not understood the extent of the suffering the children have endured, with the last line

"We got a lot to be thankful for in this country. Our kids 'avent't suffered 'o-ever else 'as"

I really enjoyed this book. Although it differs in theme from her childrens books, it is similar in that is dealing with childrens emotional states. As well as the psychological issues war can cause in children, I found it interesting to view the evacuation from a more middle class perspective, as this is usually seen in literature with working class children. And finally, I think I need to return to Ballet Shoes to see how it compares to this, and get an adult perspective on the fossil family.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Musing Mondays

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about lending books...
A few weeks back we had a question about
borrowing books, this week I was wondering what your policy was on lending books. Do you lend books to anyone? Just friends? Only big readers? How long are they allowed to have them?

I don't really know that many people who ever want or ask to borrow my books! But those people who do borrow books from me can have anything they want, for as long as they want because I know they will come back in the end. My boss will quite often see me reading something at work and ask to borrow it when I've finished it and my sons father(and best mate) borrows a lot of my books. But in both cases the arrangement is reciprocal. In fact Dylan is quite often sent off to his dad's with a pile of books, or comes back to me bearing 'gifts'. Lol.

The only person I don't lend books to is my sister because she loses them! She doesn't read much of the same things as me but she managed to lose ALL my Artemis Fowl books so I had to replace them when it came to Dylan wanting to read them. How you manage to lose 5 hardback books I'll never know! She doesn't ask to borrow my books any more. Lol.

But I would lend my books to anyone that asked. I will assume that they are going to return them until they proved otherwise. Innocent until proven guilty! But if one failed to come back, I don't think I'd lend that person any more.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Booking Through Thursday

Since “Inspiration” is (or should) the theme this week … what is your reading inspired by?

Oooh, lots of things! Bookshops, the library, recomendations from friends, subjects I'm interested in. And of course all the book reviews I read on everyone elses blogs.

I've got a huge list of books I'd like to read, and a huge pile of books waiting to be read but I don't seem to be able to read to a plan. I'll read one book, which will then open doors to many other subjects that I would like to read about. Then my son might read something that looks interesting, I might find something in the library that just looks appealing. Recently I answered a Musing Monday question about how I felt towards assigned reading at school and that has sent me back to my box of school and university books. I am now inspired to re-read some of the books and authors from here, and to try again with Faulkner, which I really struggled with at uni.

I suppose my reading is influenced by my mood as much as by anything else though. I sometimes find that although I'm inspired to read lots of things, if I'm in a rotten mood, nothing seems to hold my attention for very long. This is when I usually turn to old favourites or magazines in an attempt to try and improve my mood. Luckily this doesn't happen very often!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

The Museum Guard by Howard Norman

This is a short novel and a quick read, but it is jam packed with big ideas. The book starts with of 9 year old Defoe's parents in an accident. Whilst his uncle Edward heads off to the crash scene, Defoe is left with his wife, Altoon Markham, who calms the child by teaching him to iron shirts. Edward becomes Defoe's legal guardian and he lives in the hotel with him.

Fast forward 20 years and Defoe and his uncle are both museum guards in the Glace museum in Nova Scotia. They both still reside in the same hotel, and appear to be close, although very different. Edward leans towards drinking, gambling, womanising and has a very lackadaisical attitude to work, whereas Defoe is conscientious to the extreme and takes his duties seriously.

All the more strange then that we know from the first page of this book that Defoe stole a painting from the museum. We actually learn this before we learn of his character, thus the rest of the book becomes an observation of how he steals this painting, and for what end?

This is only half the story though. Imogen Linny is the catalyst for everything. She met Defoe at the museum, and they begin a relationship,although this is characterised by a lack of intimacy and Imogen's constant headaches and need to think. She is obsessed with the ennobling aspects of art and spends a long time pondering the phrase "the estrangement and reconciliation of the soul". This leads to a major obsession with a particular painting in the museum, and actually starts to believe she is the woman in the painting.

All this is set against the backdrop of WWII and the rising tide of anti-semitism and fascism in Europe. The disintegration of human reason is displayed both in the approaching horrors from Germany, and the disintegration of Imogen's reason. This is brought to a horrific collision at the conclusion of the book, although the ending is a little ambiguous.

The writing instills a sense of impending doom and melancholy all the way through and the characters, although so odd, are actually believable aswell.

I think that to get a full understanding of this book I will need to read it again with a close eye, but essentially this is a novel about obsession. Defoe and Imogen are both obsessed to a point where it affects their lives, Defoe with Imogen and Imogen with the painting. It also raises questions about art and its relevance to modern society, particularly with ideas of art being a personal experience. It is only what you make it and it effect on you completely depends on how you respond to it.

I think my thoughts here are a bit simplistic but it seems to be the only way I can phrase it after a first read. I will read it again, and I may return to this when I have. But i would recommend this book and I will be seeking out more Howard Norman books.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Scary Fairy Tales???!!!!!!!!!

Apparently many parents are shunning traditional fairy tales in favour of newer books because fairy tales are too scary, or not politically correct enough. I just read about this here and thought I'd write about it to see what other people thought.

As an overview the top 10 stories read and the 10 that parents are reluctant to read are listed below. Don't get me wrong I'm not against newer stories, but I don't think any child has ever been mentally damaged from reading a fairy tale, and as for political correctness, the stories are so obviously set in a distant world so different from our own no child could believe it was a representation of modern life! Hence the 'Once upon a time'.

Top 10 stories we read to our children.

  1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  2. The Mr Men
  3. The Gruffalo
  4. Winnie the Pooh
  5. Aliens love underpants
  6. Thomas and friends
  7. The Wind in the Willows
  8. hat a Noisy Pinky Ponk
  9. Charlie and Lola
  10. Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Books we no longer read

  1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  2. Cinderella
  3. Hansel and Gretel
  4. Little Red Riding Hood
  5. The Gingerbread Man
  6. Jack and the Beanstalk
  7. Sleeping Beauty
  8. Beauty and the Beast
  9. Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  10. The Emperors New Clothes

Ok,ok even 30 years ago, The very hungry caterpillar was my favourite book, so much that my dad still knows it off by heart. Fairy stories can be a little frightening in places. but I don't think we give children the credit they deserve. We could at least give them the option to make their own minds up about whether they like the stories. They are perfectly capable of distinguishing between story and reality and all the stories end 'happily ever after'. I've read the gruffalo to both of my children but I don't think he is any less scary than the wolf in Red Riding Hood. And what on earth is wrong with The Emperors New Clothes and Cinderella? I can only assume its nakedness and the role of women in the home respectively but Please! What does anyone else think?

Monday Musings

How does your being sick (or injured) affect your reading? Do you read more? Less? Do you pick out a different book than you had already planned? Do you have a "comfort book" that makes you feel better?

Hmmm, this question really made me think. As an adult i don't get ill very often, cough and colds that other people get seem to pass me by, which is a good thing! I did recently have a kidney infection though which left me alternating between being in excruciating pain and away with the fairies when the painkillers were working! I read a lot during this time because I couldn't move very far or very fast. What I actually did was re-read Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles because I couldn't concentrate on anything else. I didn't think much about this at the time but thinking back now, it was probably a world I could get lost in without too much effort because I've read them before.

As a child I was occasionally ill, and would spend most of the time wrapped up on the sofa. But I did have specific books I would read then. It was always Mallory Towers by Enid Blyton, or Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild. These were my favourite childhood books so this was obviously jut escapism or easy reading!

Saturday, 17 January 2009

The Complete Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby

A book about books! How fantastic is that?! This is a collection of Nick Hornby's columns from the believer magazine in which he wrote about what books he bought each month, what he read each month and why. This is only slightly hampered by the policy that he should only say good things about a book, so if you really hate it, there's not a lot you can say about it!
Although I did add quite substantially to my tbr list from this book, the main pull that kept me reading was his hilarious writing. I could empathise so much with some of the things he said, and although I could virtually reproduce the whole book here to demonstrate this, I've tried really hard to keep it to just one!
I'm not entirely sure why I chose those two in particular, beyond the
usual attempts at reinvention that periodically seize one in a
bookstore. (When I am arguing with St Peter at the pearly gates, I am going to
tell him to ignore the books read column, and focus on the books bought
instead. 'This is really who I am I'll tell him'.

Its not a book of book reviews, or literary criticism or anything as serious or grown up as that. Its more like a friendly book chat with a mate! I think that's why its so readable. The general theme is that we should read because we want to, and therefore we should read what we want and not feel we have to read things that have 'literary' value. There seems to be no pattern to what Nick Hornby himself reads, except that it needs to be well written.
Its difficult to say much more about it, other than it made me chuckle to the point that I had to read it in the house to avoid strange looks from strangers, although I had to endure the strange looks from my children even in the house! Lol. Oh, and repeatedly in the introduction he emphasises the need to stop reading something if you 're not enjoying it. There really is no need to plough through something just because you've started it, or feel its 'worthy' reading, or everybody else is reading it! I really need to remember this.
Please, Please put it down! You'll never finish it. Start something else.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

The tales of Beedle the Bard

This was a short book so it will be a short review! If anyone's been living in a time-warp, you need to know that this is a collection of fairy tales that makes an appearance in the last Harry Potter novel, translated from the Runes by Hermione Granger with commentaries by Albus Dumbledore. The stories themselves are the usual moralistic fare but entertaining all the same. The most interesting aspects for me were the commentaries by Dumbledore.

Good old J.K does manage to insert some digs at censorship though,particularly the editing of children's stories to remove any element of gruesomeness and the campaign to get her books removed from school libraries. The note from Dumbledore about Beatrix Bloxham, author of the Toadstool tales, who re-wrote one of the tales to make it 'suitable' for children is genius! This can only be a reference to a certain children's author, Harry's namesake, who in fact has had her most famous story rewritten because obviously all the worlds problems are due to the fact that children are read stories that involve talking rabbits being made into dinner! Lol. I know she's by no means the only one but can you guess that its a bit of an issue for me?!

But I'll get off my soapbox now and just say that although this was a very short book it was good value because all three of us read and enjoyed it! My six year old read the fairy tales but ignored the commentary, my eleven year old read the whole thing as an extension of the Harry Potter series, and I enjoyed it for both of these reasons and got a bit of a wry smile out of the author's references.

And although this is actually Dylan's (11) book, I'm going to count it for my Read Your Own Books Challenge. Well I bought it, it lives on the communal bookcase with all the other Harry Potter stuff, and I've just decided I'm going to! Lol.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Musing Monday

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about assigned reading…
How did you react to assigned reading when you were in school/university/college/etc? How do you think on these books now? What book were you 'forced' to read when you where in school that you've since reread and loved?

I enjoyed most things that I was required to read in school. In fact I didn't find anything I disliked until I got to University and that was William Faulkner. And its difficult to say I disliked this because I never read more than a few chapters! I spent a whole year trying to read one of the four texts on the course reading list but in the end I just avoided any exam questions that involved his work! I would like to read something by Faulkner but I'm put off by the feelings I had 12 years ago.

But I discovered Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter, Thomas Hardy, Wilkie Collins, T.S Eliot, Arthur Miller and many others through School and University reading lists all of which I enjoyed at the time and still do now.

Dickens is the exception to the rule here for me. I really enjoyed Dickens when I was 'forced' to read it but my appreciation is decreasing steadily as my years increase. I just don't seem to enjoy it anymore. My old teachers and lecturers would be disgusted! Lol

Sunday, 11 January 2009

The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson

A swirling mass of ideas...gloriously poetic

I wish they were my words, but they're not. They come from a review in Time Out and are listed on the back of the book. But I couldn't think of any better way to describe this book so I decided to steal it!

But everything is trial sized; tread-on-me tiny or blurred-out-of-focus huge. There are leaves that have grown as big as cities, and there are birds that nest in cockleshells.On the White sand there are long-toed claw prints deep as nightmares, and there are rock pools in hand-hollows finned by invisible fish.
Trees like skyscrapers, and housing as many. Grass the height of hedges, nuts the swell of pumpkins. Sardines that would take two men to land them. Eggs,pale-blue-shelled,each the weight of a breaking universe.
And, underneath, mushrooms soft and small as a mouse ear. A crack like a cut, and inside a million million microbes wondering what to do next. Spores that wait for the wind and never look back.
Moss that is concentrating on being green.

These aren't my words either. These are the opening paragraphs of the novel and display the poeticism in a way I couldn't describe. The language of this novel just urges you on to keep reading, though this may also be partly to do with a lack of real chapters, although the book is split into four sections.

The first part of the novel is set in the world of an extremely advanced civilisation, although that world is dying and there is a mission afoot to colonise a newly discovered planet, known as Planet Blue. In this world all food is manufactured or cloned, humans are genetically fixed at their chosen age, money no longer exists and other such things which echo things happening in our own world, although in an extreme form. Our guides through this section of the book are a character named Billie Crusoe who is seen as a different because she lives on a farm, eats real meat, which is viewed as unhealthy and stills uses a pencil and paper. She ends up on the spaceship to planet blue which is seen as a new start for humanity. Also on the ship is an advanced robot named Spike. The only issue with this new world are some big scary monsters that sound remarkably like dinosaurs! Hmmm.

This first section is mainly science fiction based but from this point on it takes a different route altogether. We move from this futuristic world to Easter Island in the 1700's, and then to earth in the present (or near future). Each time we are guided through by characters named Billie and Spike and this becomes the central crux of the novel. Winterson is dealing with issues of the permanence of soul and consciousness,with references to Buddhist and Karmic Philosophies.

This is where the "swirling mass of ideas" comes in. From issues about the world and not learning from our mistakes to deep ideas about repeating worlds and souls continuing through ages and repeating the same mistakes. And I'm aware I'm not doing this book justice but I find it almost impossible to clarify my thoughts in any meaningful way. Partly because it is difficult to think of the words to express what i thought, and partly because its difficult to discuss the full meaning of the book without giving away the whole plot! I think I've probably given too much away already.

I think I'm waffling now so I'm going to stop and just say that this is an excellent book that everybody should read, even if my review is a bit vague and wishy-washy! It reminds me a bit of Cloud Atlas, and I will probably go back to re-read that, as well as previous Jeanette Winterson.

Read your own Books Challenge

This Challenge is simply what it says! Read your own books. Full details can be found HERE

I'm going to go for 20 of my own books(eek)!!!!!!!!!! Some are listed below and the others I'll decide throughout the year.

  1. The Tales of Beedle the bard by J.K. Rowling
  2. The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  3. Empire of The Sun by J.G.Ballard
  4. Arthur and George by Julian Barnes
  5. Oryx and Crake by Margeret Atwood
  6. The Outcast by Sadie Jones
  7. Chocolat by Joanne Harris
  8. Krakatoa by Simon Winchester
  9. To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
  10. ?
  11. ?
  12. ?
  13. ?
  14. ?
  15. ?
  16. ?
  17. ?
  18. ?
  19. ?
  20. ?

Support your library reading challengL

This is a challenge to read books from your local library. Full details and signup can be found HERE

This is not that much of a challenge for me because most of what I read comes from my local library network, or my mum's library if I want something I can't get,or I want it for longer than an ordinary library loan! Perks of having a mother as a librarian! Lol. But since I love my library, I'm going to go for 50 books this year, and I'll only count the books from my local library.

  1. The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson
  2. The Complete Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
  3. The Museum Guard by Howard Norman
  4. Saplings
  5. The Fantastic Book of Everybody's Secrets by Sophie Hannah
  6. Mr Pip by Lloyd Jones
  7. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen

This is a very readable story told from the perspective of an old man in a residential home reviewing his life working for a travelling circus in 1930's America. The story alternates between Jacob at 23, and his life now and his frustrations at his frailty and assisted living situation. There are lots of details about circus life, both the human and animal contingent and a captivating, though slightly predictable, love triangle. Jacob has two major loves, one human,one animal and the two are juxtaposed quite well.

I know I'm probably one of the last people to get to this book and I've got mixed feelings about it. It has obviously been researched very well, and I found the most interesting aspects of it to be the details about life in depression America. I have always found it shocking and almost unbelievable that only 80 years ago people were allowed to starve to death because of an economic crisis. The description of hoboes tying shoes to their feet really hit home for me. I also found the sections that deal with Jacob as an old man compelling and they brought up issues of family bonds and loyalty.

I did find the main body of the story a bit much of a fairy tale though, particularly the ending. I won't spoil it, just in case there is anyone who hasn't read this yet. Everyone likes a happy ending but this just seemed unreal and a bit twee. I found myself trying to put alternative interpretations onto it. For example, did it really happen or is it Jacob imagining what he would like to happen. There are moments in the sections involving Jacob as an old man where he doubts his own sanity, and, tellingly, a passage where he comes to understand that sometimes people tell themselves something for so long that they start to believe it themselves.

However, I think this is just me trying to compensate for the slight lack of substance in the book by finding things that aren't supposed to be there! I think I might have given the impression here that I didn't like this book. It was well worth the few hours it took me to read it, I just didn't think it was brilliant. As an easy read and escapism i would recommend it. And since this is what the blurb says I can't really complain.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Chunkster Challenge

This just sounds like a good way of motivating myself to read a couple of long books i've got sitting waiting to be read. Full details can be found HERE

I am going to go for the does my bum look big in this option and try to read 3 books.

  1. Wicked by Gregory Maguire 495 pages
  2. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters 538 pages

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Whats in a name reading challenge

This is challenge to read books with particular categories in the title. Full details can be found through this link.

I haven't decided what I will read for these categories yet, but I'll come back and post here when i do.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Challenge- The Pub 09

This is a challenge to try and read at least 9 books published in 2009. Full details are available through this link.

I'm going to read at least 10 books, hopefully more, but i'm only going to commit to 10! And the reason its 10 not 9 is that I prefer even numbers! I'm not going to make a list though, I will just see what catches my eye throughout the year. I will come back and list books here as i decide to read them, or when they are actually read.

Edward Trencom's Nose; A Novel of History, Dark Intrigue and Cheese by Giles Milton

I read this at my parents house over Christmas. Like a fool I forgot to take any of my reading with me so i found this on their bookcase and I was intrigued. The basic premise of the story is that Edward Trencom runs a cheese shop and has a nose that has almost a supernatural ability to detect scent, which he uses to great effect to distinguish not only between cheeses, but also the specific area and producer and even the month of production. This strangely shaped nose is hereditary and has been in Edwards family for generations and when he discovers some family paperwork in the cellar of his shop he realises that all his ancestors have met their ends in mysterious ways and begins a quest to discover why.

I can't say I didn't enjoy this book, it was funny and extremely silly, which is what I expected. And the descriptions of the tastes and aromas of the cheeses are truly mouthwatering. Don't read if you are on a diet! It was an entertaining read but it just became slightly too contrived towards the end. The way Edward finally decides to go to Greece to discover the truth is just way to convoluted and most importantly the ending falls completely flat and is disappointing. It just didn't seem to make sense. It almost reads as if the author got bored and just stopped. But it is still worth a read if you've got a spare afternoon because until the climax, its quite good.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

A-Z Reading Challenge

The 2009 A to Z Challenge has several options for participants to choose from:
Option A: Read authors A to Z. Commit to reading 26 books theoretically speaking.
Option B: Read titles A to Z. Commit to reading 26 books theoretically speaking.
Option C: Read both authors A to Z and titles A to Z (52 books; this is the challenge Joy created)
Option D: Read internationally A to Z (books representing 26 different countries) (The books could be from international authors (writers from that country); however, it's fine if a book is only set in that country. If need be, instead of countries one could use cities, states, regions, etc. The idea is to use proper place names. If you'd like you could even use a few fictional countries.)
Option E: Read 26 Alphabet books. Embrace your inner child and go visit the children's section!

I'm going to try for option C, authors and titles. I think X,Y and Z will be the real challenge, but i'll do my best!



B- The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett






H The complete Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby


J Mr Pip by Lloyd Jones








R The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling





W The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson






B Black Swan Green by David Mitchell




F The Fantastic Book of Everybody's Secrets by Sophie Hannah







M The Museum Guard by Howard Norman






S Saplings by Noel Streatfeild





Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen



A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif

This was a random library pick. I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but in this case, that and the title swayed my decision to read this book. But I'm glad they did because it was brilliant. It starts with the death of Pakistan's military dictator General Zia ul-Haq in plane crash in 1988. This is a documented fact, but that is where fact ends and satirical, speculative fiction begins.

The novel switches between narratives from Ali Shigri, a Pakistani military officer, and General Zia himself. Zia himself is a superstitious dictator who treats the Quran as a daily horoscope and believes everybody is out to kill him, which turns out to be fairly accurate. The story gradually unfolds to show the hypocrisy and double crossing always present behind the scenes of a military dictatorship. His actual cause of death could be anything from mechanical failure to a blind woman's curse, with tapeworms, his own generals and the CIA in between. Not forgetting the exploding Mangoes!

This book is laugh out loud funny in places, mildly amusing in others, and thought provoking throughout. The characters are fairly 2 dimensional and I do have to say I never really felt any emotional attachment to any of them. This could be because the reader is never really sure whether they are heroes or villains though, or a mixture of both. This did not detract from my enjoyment of the book because I read it to find out what would happen and how all the threads would tie together, characterisation was not really necessary. The appearance of a man named OBL from the laden construction company did make me chuckle slightly though!

This book has also added to my ever growing reading list as its sparked an interest in discovering about Pakistan in the 1980's and more specifically what actually is known about how General Zia ul-Huq died.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Booking Through Thursday (on Monday) oops!

Happy New Year, everyone!
So … any Reading Resolutions? Say, specific books you plan to read? A plan to read more ____? Anything at all?
Name me at least ONE thing you’re looking forward to reading this year!

Well I'm very new to blogging so my resoloutions are simple! I'm going to try and review evrything I read and post on here regularly. Thats it really. But i'm already behind as I already have 3 reviews to go up! Lol. And I'd like to read more non fiction and join some reading challenges. We'll see how I go!

War Through the Generations

January 1 - December 31, 2009
Anna from Diary of an Eccentric and Serena from Savvy Verse and Wit have started a dedicated blog for challenges related to war and its impact. They write:
We have always been interested in war and its impact, so naturally, our first hosted reading challenge would be about this theme. Rather than host a single challenge on the very broad topic of war, we decided to break it down into several challenges over the long term. We hope you’ll join us, whether it’s only for one challenge or more. (We’re pretty obsessive about our reading, so we’ve planned a few years in advance.) We plan on holding six-month to one-year challenges, so check back to find one that tickles your fancy. Their first challenge beginning January 1, 2009 is World War II. Readers must commit to reading at least five books throughout the year. Anna and Serena write:
The books can be fiction or non-fiction, and they can be about any aspect of WWII. WWII should be the primary or secondary theme, and it doesn’t matter whether the book takes place during the war or after the war. There is a link for suggested reading as well.There will be a prize drawing for those participants who meet or exceed their reading goal!Go to the post about the 2009 Challenge to read more and to sign up. Sign ups are ongoing, but if you want to be included in the prize giveaway, you must sign up no later than January 31st.

I'm going to give this one a go. Hopefully I'll manage to complete it. I will try to read 6 books, 3 fiction and 3 non fiction, simply because i like even numbers and symmetry! I know, I'm a bit strange! Lol. The fiction is listed below, but I'm not sure about the non fiction yet.

  1. Saplings by Noel Streatfeild
  2. The Book Thief by Marcus Zuzak
  3. Empire of the Sun by J.G.Ballard
  4. ?
  5. ?
  6. ?

This is my first ever challenge so wish me luck!