December 8, 2013
Wonderstruck, a review in less than 25 words.
What can I say!
I loved this book, and so did my kids. It would make a great gift for bookish kids between 6 (would need to be read to) and 15 (especially the artistically inclined)
About 200 pages of text narrating one story and around 400 black and white illustrations telling another.
It was magic, inspiring and insightful.
I will read everything Brian Selznick writes…. and give them to others as I have opportunity.
Next month…. Nancy Wake by Peter Fitzsimmons
August 31, 2013
Catch 22, a review in less than 25 words.
This was a text I was meant to read at school.
I wasn’t interested then.
This time I listened,
It reminded me of the tv series M.A.S.H .
I hated M.A.S.H.
There I have said it.
Not reading at school was a great decision.
Wish I had stuck to it!
Next month…. Wonderstruck written and illustrated by Brian Selznick.
July 26, 2013
Back to the book reviews.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was a picture of how depraved the human condition can be. I didn’t enjoy it, but had to finish it. It had that same ‘couldn’t stop reading but didn’t want to know what came next’ feeling. Intriguing but twisted.
Have you read it? What did you think?
Next time Catch22 by Joseph Heller.
June 26, 2013
Ah, this book….
Best book I’ve read in a long time.
A perfect cannot put down holiday novel.
Next time…. Gone Girl By Gillian Flynn.
May 31, 2013
50 word review.
It was easier for me to read aloud than in my head… although I always skipped past the songs.
The audio version was hard to concentrate on but the songs were fabulous.
I’m not sure I will ever read it again, but I am glad I had a go.
Have any of you read it? Is it your favourite book ever? Let me know what you think.
Next book review, Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper.
November 14, 2012
As I mentioned in my last review, my book club read this a while ago….and I neglected to post a review….. so we will see how my memory serves me!
The Help by Kathryn Stockett was a great read. Fascinating and concerning, convicting and humourous.
Set in Jackson Mississippi in the 1960’s, the book falls into the category of historical fiction, but reads like the ‘book within a book’. This was a time of segregation, violence and the silencing of half the community.
The story swaps between three different narrators, two African American maids and the educated child of a well off white family.
It’s a story about telling your story. Speaking up for what is right and good, whatever the price. It’s also a story about love, genuine friendship and secrets.
We loved it.
I think it helped that Australia didn’t share in this type of oppression and segregation….although we have other issues! It would be hard to read as an American…I would imagine, especially if you grew up during this time and thoughtlessly went along with it!
We thought we were all capable of this same sort of ‘following along with the norm’.
We talked about what issues are with us that would cost to speak out about, but are compelled to.
We felt quite trapped in the ‘mind your own business’ mentality we live in.
Those of us that had seen the movie thought it had left out a pivotal experience, which resulted in the movie missing the gravitas the book achieved. Did anyone else experience this?
All in all a great read and a fabulous holiday read ….if you are looking for something this summer.
Next book: This Charming Man by Marian Keyes.
September 11, 2012
As I have mentioned a couple of times…. I am a bit behind on the book club posts, and just as I thought I had caught up… I realised that I had left out “The Help” by Kathryn Sprockett so I will blog it’s review next.
First, let me review All That I Am by Anna Funder.
Some of you will have hear of this book as it has won awards recently, but as we know, awards given by a literary body and books readers enjoy reading can be too different things.
This book was no different.
Written in a chapter by chapter recount that flips from present to past, it is set simultaneously in Bondi Sydney and across Europe during the political and social cauldron that was the second world war.
Anne Funder is a researcher, no question there, but as will all historical fiction I was left with the feeling of uncertainty as to where the fiction began and the history ended.
Do others have this experience with this genre’?
Because I didn’t continue studying history past the minimum requirement for high school, my knowledge of this period of history is extremely sketchy. Often I felt ‘not knowledgeable enough’ to know details that I’m sure would have illuminated the read….. and the opposite is also true…. I didn’t know enough to refute false historical readings…. which always occur when reading one person’s account of any historical period.
The characters themselves were interesting and somewhat developed, if at some levels unbelievable. I loved her first person ‘Ruth’….. especially as an ageing woman.
It’s a book worth the time and effort, although it wouldn’t reach my ‘must read before you die’ list.
Have you read it?
What was your take?
August 27, 2012
Another book club, another classic. This time , Agatha Christies’ Murder on the Orient Express.
I had never read an Agatha Christie before this book, but I had very much wanted to. There were a few of us in the same boat.
I love a murder mystery. Mostly I read P.D. James, Ruth Rendell or more recently Patricia Cornwell. These writers often border on the gruesome, and tragic, so Agatha Christie made for a refreshing change.
Written in a very unassuming, almost quaint manner the murder takes on much the same feel….. if that’s possible.
The characters are simple and the wrapping up is somewhat ‘neat’ but conceivable….. perhaps for that era, where people cared more for honour and justice.
We enjoyed reading it, on the whole, although it was a little dull to begin with.
I am told that most Agatha Christies’ follow a similar story arc and can be a little predictable, but that this can also work in there favour in terms of enjoyment.
Are there any avid Agatha Christie readers out there?
What is it that keeps you coming back for what is essentially the same story?
Next Month….. the award winning All That I Am by Aussie Anna Funder
June 24, 2012
In an effort to catch up on book club reads…….
The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald was my pick for book club this time. I chose it mainly because it was one of those important books many people read at school. I thought maybe I was missing out on something…..
Although now I would call myself a reader, at school I didn’t read a single english text until year 11. Up until then, I gleaned my way through english by listening to classroom discussions and never having an original thought of my own. It worked quite well, but has left me wanting to read lots of ‘formative’ books I should have read at school.
That said…. maybe we needed a high school english teacher in our midst because it just wasn’t that ….well….. interesting or life changing or entertaining. Maybe we all missed something, or maybe it’s overrated as a novel.
I though maybe I didn’t get it because I read it on my ipad, and the medium didn’t suit the substance, but after talking with the other girls in book club (some who had listened and some who had read paper books) I think we all felt pretty much the same.
Maybe it was a ‘work of it’s time’ and some of it’s appeal and substance relates to where it sits in history. Maybe if I had read it at school (along with all the others) I would have appreciated it more.
Have any of you read The Great Gatsby? At school or as an adult?
Did we miss something? ….. which is always my concern when poo pooing a ‘great work’.
If you need a set of assignments and probing questions set by an over zealous english teacher to get the full meaning of a book, can it still be considered a ‘great book’?
If I am going to catch up on my missed high school reading in the future, what books would you say are ‘must reads’?
Maybe I just need to wait for The Great Gatsby movie and be entertained with the masses…..
Next book…another classic Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie.
March 24, 2012
Still a little behind on the book club reviews… and trying to catch up. Not sure where my time is going. Doesn’t the saying go….”You’ll have so much time on your hands” and “You won’t know yourself” when your children are all at school? Well, the answer to the first is a resounding NO and yep…still me last time I looked!.
The Clan of the Cave Bear was a book I was not keen to read when it was selected by one of our book club members. I was even less encouraged when I bought my second hand copy only to find it had a very ‘Mills and Boone-esque’ cover. This one I would not be reading in public if I wished to maintain any literary respect!
I was somewhat, surprisingly, turned around. I say somewhat as it wasn’t one of the best books I have read, but it was a compelling and interesting read. I learnt things I didn’t know before about surviving a prehistoric lifestyle. I enjoyed the somewhat predictable narrative, the writing style and characters kept me coming back for the 500+ pages.
The novel begins with a girl, Ayla begin found by a tribe of people different to her own. This tribe are, throughout the novel, pitched as a less developed clan of cave people to the one she is originally from…. although they are not aware of this and continue on there merry way believing and acting in the way they have been taught. These practises include a deep spiritual leadership and hierarchy , a strong following of male headship and a very functional use of women.
You may be guessing by now what the introduction of a more developed ‘newer’ woman means. Yes, she upsets their beliefs at every level…. although the book ends with very little changing in the clan.
It smacks of a feminist work, which for us living in the wake of activist* type feminism, it all seems a little surreal. We had to stop ourselves a number of times during the discussion of this book to remind ourselves that there was once a world where women were ‘less than’…. and that the whole notion wasn’t a strange one to write a novel around at the time of it’s penning in the early 80’s.
We did have some great discussion about belief and faith in the spiritual world, generational learning (and unlearning… it should be a word) and lots of thankfulness for the time we live in.
Our next book…. The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne.
* As opposed to the more refining type feminism we see more of today.