Sunday, 13 May 2012

What Are You Reading?

210 comments:

  1. I am reading Thackeray's "Vanity Fair". It's a book club selection. I read it as a teenager and either my memory has shortened or the book has grown since then......900 pages!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Working full-time has certainly interfered with my reading schedule. I am still reading Vanity Fair and my June book groups' selections are waiting. I may not get to all of them, so if you know the books, please help me out.
      The Trout Opera - Matthew Condon
      The Good Muslim - Tahmima Anam
      The Secret River - Kate Grenville
      The Paris Wife - Paula McLain
      The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde

      Delete
    2. I've read The Paris Wife and I enjoyed it although there was some criticism of it. Two reviews here, I didn't think it was as bad as the second one claims.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/feb/20/paris-wife-paula-mclain-review

      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/28/books/28book.html

      Delete
    3. I did read 'The Paris Wife' last year and enjoyed it but not a lot has stayed with me, at least, not enough for discussion. I don't know if that is the fault of the book or my memory. The reviews have helped, thank you.

      By the way, I have discovered that by highlighting the link and right clicking I can bring up the page in a new tab. It saves fussing about with copy and paste. Isn't that cool?

      Delete
    4. I've read "The Secret River" and would recommend it for a book club discussion as it tells the story of an Englishman's transportation to Australia after being convicted of petty theft in London. The hardships he and his family endure are shocking but obviously true for many men and women living in the 19th century.

      Delete
    5. Thanks Sylvia and welcome to Bookworm.
      I enjoyed the second in the series, The Lieutenant, and now the third has been released, Sara Thornhill. I have some catching up to do.

      Delete
    6. Thankyou Sanmac. Must look out for The Lieutenant. Whilst on holiday in sunny Menorca last month I read "The Touch" by Colleen McCollough (author of The Thorn Birds). Not a book I would normally read but it was in the villa's bookcase. At 520 pages long I doubt I would have finished it if I hadn't been on holiday and had the time! It's set in the 1800s and tells the story of a Scot who travels the world in search of a better life and riches. He ends up in Australia and he then sends for a virgin bride from Scotland. Has anyone else read this book?

      Delete
    7. I have a soft spot for McCullough. In the 70's my mother and I spotted her in the Sydney CBD. My mother called out 'I love your books, Colleen' and followed that with a flamboyant double handed blown kiss. Colleen, a rather large lady then, picked up her long skirt and dropped a deep, deep curtsey - right in the middle of a busy pedestrian crossing!
      I've not read 'The Touch' but have enjoyed many of her books - particularly the early ones and the Rome series. She has now branched out into crime fiction - 'On-Off' was a good read.
      If you are not an Austen purist, try 'The Independence of Miss Mary Bennett', a spoof sequel to 'Pride and Prejudice'. It's a romp and a hoot. I loved it.

      Delete
    8. I must have another go with her books. I got a bit put off them after TheThorn Birds which I didn't like. I had a friend years ago who had spent some years on Norfolk Is.... her husband was an air traffic controller...and she used to joke about "Colleen and her toy boy"....I think it was her gardener and she married him.

      Delete
    9. Sanmac - what a lovely gesture from McCullough for your mother. Will check out your recommendation on Amazon first I think.

      jaywalker - from what I can remember from The Thorn Birds, "The Touch" is quite different unless my memory serves me wrong!
      How difficult it must have been for a 16 yr old Scottish girl to find herself on the other side of the world in order to marry a relative stranger who, despite his wealth, she could not grow to love. I found the social history side of the story very interesting.

      Delete
    10. Just returned from our library armed with a list of 3 authors (incl Carole Shields) to look out for and found nothing! However, while looking for MacMahon I spotted "The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain which I remembered had been mentioned here and so picked it up. Watch this space . ...

      Delete
    11. I can remember `The Thorn Birds' lying around the house in the late 70s and early 80s even tried to read it a couple of times, but could never really get into it. But somehow can't forget the phrase `Ashes of Roses' which seemed to pop up a lot.

      But you're right Sandra her gesture towards your mother was delightful.

      Delete
    12. Hard to believe there were no Shields in the library, Sylvia. The UK library system must be similar to ours. Since it has been decentralised, there doesn't seem to be much worth reading on the shelves and we must place special orders for particular books. That's okay, if we know which books we want however, gone are the days when we left the library with armsful of books and a satisfied smile. :-(

      Delete
    13. Leonie, I enjoyed The Thorn Birds as a teenager and Tim, of course, (a real tear-jerker). McCullough is a wag. I've seen a couple of her interviews. She runs rings around the host when they ask 'difficult' questions.

      Delete
    14. I finally finished The Paris Wife by Paula McLain whilst we were away on a short break. I am now eager to read something written by Ernest Hemmingway having never done so before. What a roller coaster of a life did his first wife Hadley have and what an overwhelming love she had for him. It must be so difficult living with the ups and downs of a budding author. Praise to all those husbands and wives who do!!

      Delete
    15. Glad you enjoyed the book, Sylvia. Hemingway had 4 wives, so McLain has lots more material (smile). If you want to read him, why not join our group read of 'The Old Man and the Sea? There's no Paris connection but it is considered his best work - won the Pulitzer and led to his Nobel. Hemingway at his best!

      Delete
    16. I will look for that one when I next visit the library Sanmac; thankyou for suggesting it though it may take me a while to read it! I now have to finish "The Help"!. I really shouldn't have two books on the go!

      Delete
    17. I am a bit hesitant about the recommendation, now that Madeleinea is not enjoying our group read, yet it is a good start for Hemingway.
      I did always have several books on the go but now find, whether it is my poor concentration or a desire to do the novelist justice, one at a time is better for me. Still, I am often rereading a favourite while reading for a book group. So many books, so little time. The 'to read' list keeps on growing!

      Delete
    18. Not to worry Sanmac, I shall look out for "The Old Man and the Sea" anyway. Apparently it's a short novel? I would probably find it difficult to "keep up" with others reading in a group situation. :)

      Delete
  2. I am reading The Mongoliad by Neal Stephenson (he from whom I stole my online moniker) and others. I bought it on Kindle, but you can read it online @ http://mongoliad.com/

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm re-reading The Aristos by John Fowles. I'm a student of human nature and philosophy, and I've noticed that as I age, I tend to agree with him all the more. He's a scientist first, however he's an excellent writer.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm reading the biography of Elizabeth Gaskell, author of "Cranford", "Wives and Daughters" and "North and South". My interest in her was rekindled after watching the DVD of Wives and Daughters which I hadn't seen since it was originally on TV many years ago. I'm discovering what a feisty and forward thinking woman she was.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I was given the book by Anh Do "The Happiest Refugee" for my birthday recently and I am thoroughly enjoying it. It is a lighthearted funny and often very sad account of a small Vietnamese boy arriving in Australia in 1976

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have it on my e-reader but haven't read it yet. Was saving imt up for holiday time.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have just finished 'The Mitford Girls' a Biography by Mary Lovell.... a fascinating tell-all of the days prior to and during WW11....recommend it to anyone with an interest in history

    ReplyDelete
  8. Could you, Da5id give me a bit of info on the book you are reading? I've never heard of it. Similarly the one you are reading Camila....
    I intend to order 'The Happies Refuge' from the library in the near future. Any of you read Julian Assange's unauthoroised biograpy? If you are a bit bewildered as to how the problem of hacking began you'll know after reading this book... my opinion of the USA was very low when I completed the book...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Da5id will pop in from time to time to see how we are doing, but won't be a regular contributor (unfortunately), however I am also a Stephenson fan. A friend recommended Snowcrash and I absolutely loved it. Mongoliad must be new. I googled and apparently it's set in the 13th century around the time of Genghis Khan. Snowcrash is set in the future, in and out of cyberspace. A gripping read. I also enjoyed The Happiest Refugee and laughed out loud in places.

      Delete
    2. Madeleine, The Aristos is not an easy read and it's not to everyone's taste. Fowles sets it out as a series of dissertations on various subjects of human nature.

      Aristos is from the Greek (best) not from the French (aristocratic)

      He examines aspects of human nature, from the highest (aristos - few) to the lowest (hoi polloi - many).

      He asserts his ideas, ideals and philosophies in a very robust, almost arrogant style, his main theme, as I see it, is the degradation of society.

      As I said, I agree with most of what he says at this time and he wrote this in the mid 60s !

      Delete
  9. madeleine - I loved The Mitford Girls. I read a lot of biography set in that period. Another good one is: The Viceroys Daughters by Anne de Courcy about the Curzon sisters.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am reading " The Dairy Of Anne frank" after my son bought it home for me after his visit to the Anne Frank attic in Amsterdam. I read this book when I was a young girl. and it has always stayed with me in life. when my kids ask me what My favorite book is, always "The diary Of Anne Frank"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Susan,

      I also read and enjoyed this book as a school girl and it was only in the past 10 years or so that I discovered that her father had edited sections of it.... but still a great read. Fair bit on the internet related to what was left in, and what was left out etc. Cheers.

      Delete
    2. Hi Susan - are you our Susan of Margarittabella fame?

      Delete
    3. Hi madeleine I am that Susan. I look forward to many continued friendships, on this wonderful site.

      Delete
    4. Lovely Lovely Lovely to be kept in contact with you Susan

      Delete
    5. I second and third that Madeleine. I'm glad that Susan has joined us here in Sanmacs little sanctuary.

      Delete
  11. Currently reading Alain de Botton's latest book `Religion for Atheists'. Too often there is incredible arrogance on both sides of this debate, and although an atheist himself... I'm really liking the balance he brings to this topic in exploring and acknowledging the positives that religion can offer people when navigating the joys and challenges of being human.... I've got no easy answers on the subect but am open to ideas and basically getting by as best I can.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been meaning to buy this one as I have most of his others. I googled it a while back and read a few reviews and what he says makes perfect sense to me. I enjoyed his 'Guide to Happiness' and 'Status Anxiety' and still think about bits of what he says every now and again.

      Delete
  12. Recently read 'Princess Masako' by Ben Hills. Extremely interesting in how it tells of our Japans modern monarchy was set up by General McArthur after the War - and a bit shortsightedly too.
    Definitely not heavy reading, interesting and informative.

    I claasify my reading as 'Books I have finished'
    and 'Books I can't be bothered finishing
    Definitely finished this one....

    BUt I do feel I need to branch out from biographies and autob iographies - I haven't read a novel in ages. Any suggestions?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What type of novels interest you, madeleine? Crime? Historical? Family? Give me a few hints and I'll see what I can think of.

      Delete
  13. I just wish I had time to read anything lately. I do not know what I do all day, but I am busy doing it.

    Must make time, I have about 3 books on the waiting list now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What she was finding also was how one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren't long enough for the reading she wanted to do. ― Alan Bennett

      So many books......so little time. Welcome to my world.

      Delete
  14. I rarely read during the day but my partner and I are both dedicated bedtime readers and we both read for an hour or so in bed every night.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I think its time I gave up reading the paper and concentrated more on books.... perhaps after my Music Exam I can get into my reading more - and sample all the books suggested..... but at the moment I am concentrating on Bach, Clementi, Schubert and other music composers.....
    My music teacher has also agreed I can play some Les Mis after the Exam....

    ReplyDelete
  16. Well as I said now I joined the book blog I would read my first book since december last year..I just read Deeper than the dead by Tami Hogg..apparently she is on the New york best sellers list. Its a mystery/crime novel with the usual serial killer,local sherrif department and Fbi involved. Was kept till the end guessing who the killer was. Enjoyed reading this book and recommend it to others who like crime books..hope this is okay its my first ever book review..now will read a Kath Reichs book which is loosely based on the Bones tv series..

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have just discovered that I can download an audio book from my library and listen to it on my ipod, so I took the opportunity to listen to novel by an author who is to me - Kate Atkinson. She is an English author who was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. The book is called 'Started Early, Took my Dog", a crime thriller set in Leeds in 1975. There are two main characters, Tracey Waterhouse, a retired police detective, and Jackson Brodie, also an ex-detective, now turned private investigator. These two are involved in a couple of stories that weave and meander - its not a fast moving book, the focus is more on character development and the diverse mix makes it a satisfying read - or listen to, in my case. The narrator, Nicholas Bell, did a good job with the characters' voices. I gather there are 3 or 4 earlier books featuring Brodie and I am going to try to find them, maybe also in audio form.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome Trish, it’s nice to see you here.
      I enjoy Atkinson’s books, too. I first discovered her as the 1995 Whitbread winner for ‘Behind the Scenes in a Museum’ and also enjoyed ‘Human Croquet’. Since she crossed into crime fiction, I followed her with ‘Case Histories’ and ‘…Took my Dog’, both with Jackson Brodie. I like her understated style. She’s also published short stories. Like you, I use audio books – it makes ironing bearable.

      Delete
    2. That is a real coincidence as I have just ordered Case Histories from amazon because when I put Anita Brookner into the literary map her name came close.

      Delete
    3. Jaywalker, I think you will enjoy Case Histories. I know you like crime and detective fiction. However her earlier books, classed as 'literary fiction' (how I despise that term!) are closer to Brookner.

      Delete
    4. Case Histories could be a good book to travel with. I have a 35 min drive to and from work each day, and audio books are perfect for this. A hard copy would perhaps be better for a long plane trip. Is Amazon cheaper than Book Depository, Jaywalker?

      Delete
    5. Trish - I buy most books 2nd hand from amazon.uk and they are very often 1p plus £7 postage which makes them about $11. They still have Case Histories for 1p. Because of the population in the UK books are on there 2nd hand almost as soon as they are published and I think the big book dealers just make a bit on the postage. They usually don't take more than a week or two to arrive.
      I do buy from Book Depository occasionally but amazon.uk has a much bigger selection and you can get almost any book that has ever been published at many different prices and condition. It's definitely worth having a look.

      Delete
    6. Jaywalker, I had a look at secondhand copies on Amazon.uk and I can see what you mean re range and prices. On this occasion it was cheaper to buy the three earlier Jackson Brodie books from Book Depository - three new copies for $27, no delivery charge. It pays to compare at each purchase.

      Delete
  18. Are you interested, as I am, in what other people are reading? The link below is a ‘visual library’ of people reading on the NY subway.

    http://undergroundnewyorkpubliclibrary.com/

    Oblivious to their surroundings, aren't they?

    ReplyDelete
  19. A friend has been recommending I read Jodi Picoult for some time, so I have started on "Change of Heart" and I am enjoying it. I really like her style of writing. I think I will read more of hers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've read "My Sister's Keeper" by the same author and enjoyed that. It was made into a film but I think it may have had a different ending.

      Delete
  20. I have just started reading Not Dead Yet (Peter James) on my ereader. Hoping that we get to the bottom of the Sandy thing in this book! I have also ordered Bertie Plays the Blues (A. McCall Smith) to get me in the mood for my upcoming trip to Edinburgh. I love the Scotland St series, such endearing characters.

    ReplyDelete
  21. We were really lucky last year to meet Peter James by pure serendipity. We were in Paris and looking in the window of W H Smith near the Tivoli Gardens and they had a notice on the window saying he was speaking there that evening. Both my partner and I love his detective novels so we came back to hear him and get a signed copy of his latest book. He was very interesting, talking about how the police in Brighton help him and all the research he does.

    I haven't read Bertie Plays the Blues but have read most of the No. 1 Ladies Detective series and a couple of the Dalhousie and the Scotland series and . Did you see McCall Smith being interviewed when he was in Australia last year? I just looked him up and he's written 80 books!

    ReplyDelete
  22. It is a thrill to see your favourite authors in 'real life'. I went to see McCall Smith in the summer of 2010 when he was in Melbourne (obviously escaping the Northern winter). He was delightful, a very relaxed and entertaining raconteur. He spoke for a couple of hours, dropping in little anecdotes about Ian Rankin (his neighbour) and answering lots of audience questions about his characters and their future. He has that charming air about him that comes across in his books.

    I am surprised that the Brighton police have time to help Peter James, given its reputation of the crime capital of the UK. Did he give any hints about Sandy?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Yes - maybe the police PR people think it's worth him getting it right and also showing that criminals get caught in Brighton!

    I got the same impression as you about McCall Smith from his TV interview.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I have just bought a new book in the sales... even at 40% discount it still cost a lot of money ($75) - but what a beautiful book. Stephanie Alexander's 'Kitchen Garden Companion'.... such lovely recipes relating to vegies and herbs! Expect to see a new thinner me by Christmas...

    ReplyDelete
  25. I have just finished reading a gruelling book called "Every Beat of My Heart" by Jeff Waters.

    Jeff is an ABC Journalist who chronicles the story of his heart attack, death, and in his words "resurrection".

    It was gruelling for me because it was so close to home and his story was strikingly similar to the journey that Peter and I have been through.

    I found myself weeping through many pages as I mentally ticked off the parallel situations. Here are a few.

    Shock (tick)
    Never, ever use the call button to call a nurse (tick)
    With a house full of family, how alone one can feel (tick)
    The kindness of strangers (tick)

    He writes as a journalist, and on many occasions explains the inefficiency of our Ambulance and Hospital systems. He investigates why our medicines are the most expensive in the world (Pharmaceutical Companies and Pharmacists greed, and the lack of responsibility from the Govt)

    I struggled through as he paid tribute to his adoring wife, who, even as a Doctor (GP) struggled with the inconsistency of hospital treatment and her own shock and disbelief.

    He wrote the book for several reasons I think.

    As a catharsis. He still suffers from PTSD

    Because he wanted to alert people to the need for MICA ambulances to have a computer thing (that's technical speak ;-)) that the hospital can read and plan a course of action before the patient arrives. (tick)

    Because he wanted to thank the Doctors that saved his life, several times (tick)

    Because he wanted to discover why he, a young 43 yr old healthy and fit man had a heart attack to begin with.

    Even though he tries to remain unbiased in his story, it's impossible.

    I'm glad I pushed myself to read it through because I now realise that most people's stories are similar and PTSD is not uncommon in those who have been forced to take this journey.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Cam sending Hugs your way.. I can feel your heart beating, thank you for writing this heartfelt, touching, book review.. tears on my pillow
    Susan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Camelia, I stand with Susan. How courageous you are! To read this book must have been so difficult. We all feel for you but no-one really understands unless they have been there themselves. I hope it brought you some comfort, knowing that you are not alone in your troubles. When Peter counts his blessings, he should count you twice.

      Delete
    2. Thanks Susan & Sanmac. The kindness of strangers - always touches me.

      Delete
  27. Camelia - I have put the book you are talking about on my reading list which is getting longer and longer, but now want to read 'Wrestling with the Angel' a biograpy of Janet Frame by Michael King, New Zealand. It promises to be a bit heavy (in contrast to the one I have just finished) but it describes an area of New Zealand I know quite well.
    Anyone read it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't heard of this one but I've read Frame's own 'An Angel at my Table'. It's the second in the series, I think, and the movie was good, as well. A tragic life which shows society's intolerance to differences. The biog should be good; King has a lot of material to work with. Sounds like one which Jaywalker also would enjoy.

      Delete
    2. Janet Frame wrote three books 1.Faces in the Water. 2.An Angel at My Table and 3. Owls do cry all about her experiences of mental illness. Frightening to think a Leucotomy (severing the frontal lobe from the rest of the brain... was planned for her......

      Delete
    3. Frame has also written a few novels and some poetry. At one time, she was considered, by the bookies at least, for the Nobel. Her biography should make for fascinating reading. I believe that she did no harm..... she was the victim.

      Delete
  28. 'Owls do Cry' was very very difficult to read, but everyone I knew in Otago in the late 60s early 70s was reading it.....
    I believe 'Faces in the Water' became a compulsory read for anyone working at Cherry Farm - the mental asylum to which she was committed, and some staff were able to recognise themselves in the book.....
    I think Michael King (a NZ historian) paints a very sympathetic picture of Janet...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I read somewhere that NZ has/had the highest rate of institutionalised mental patients in the world. I don't know if there is a higher rate of illness there or if the criteria for committal is very low but stories like Frame's point to committal being a solution to somebody else's problem, rather than to providing treatment for the patient. So sad.

      Delete
  29. Thanks for that suggestion. I have made a note to look for it when we get back.

    ReplyDelete
  30. This month my book groups' selections are;
    The Horse Boy, Rupert Isaacson
    Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood
    The Other Hand, Chris Cleave
    Germinal, Emile Zola


    Zola's and Atwood's books are not new for me. I've just read the Horse Boy (review coming shortly) and have just begun The Other Hand (quirky). Let me know your thoughts if you have read any of them. The good news is that I now have at least two weeks to catch up on my 'must read' list. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have read Alias Grace(and all her other works), and Germinal, as well as all the other Zola I could get my hands on.I do find it very hard to get what I want through the library as mostly what I want they seem to have only one copy of....you can order but you will wait ages.

      Delete
    2. Hi Travelbug. Atwood is a particular favourite of mine - all her books are so different. Loved 'The Handmaid's Tale'. It would probably make a good group read, too. (Have you considered joining us to read Hemingway?)
      I've not read much Zola but I was struck by the contemporary feel of his writing. Earth, The Debacle and L'Assommoir are on my must read list. Have you read them?
      I agree with you about libraries. Since the decentralisation, none of the local libraries seem to have much on the shelves. I order titles too, but find that such a lot have to be sourced outside the system. Libraries are no longer for readers but are 'community hubs'. Grrrrrrrrr.

      Delete
  31. I'm reading "Shadows Bright As Glass" by Amy Ellis Nutt. It's the biography of acclaimed contemprary artist Jon Sarkin, who came to art as a result of a traumatic brain haemmorhage and the surgery that followed, which changed his life forever.You can actually see Sarkin at work on a Youtube clip by Indy band,Guster, who are big fans of his work - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7k-VAlIPzKg. I like to dig around for extra information when I read something that interests me,thank goodness for Google!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I posted a reply here and now it's gone and left no trace! Again, Sarkin is new to me. Thanks for the link. Weird! My speakers are shot, would that make a difference?
      The clip reminded me of the dance performance/theatre? of Philippe Gentry. (Anyone seen him?) Brilliant, but certainly 'different'.
      There's been a few books about artist's lives recently, Tracey Chevalier (Vermeer)I enjoyed, as well as Elizabeth Hickey's 'The Painted Kiss' (Klimt).

      Delete
  32. I'm halfway through reading THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett. It is set in Mississipi in 1962 where it was common for black domestic helps to raise the children of white families yet they were still very much considered a low class of people. I struggled a little for the first couple of chapters as they were written in the style of the spoken word of the storyteller i.e. Aibileen, one of the maids. However,I am now enjoying it especially Kathryn Stockett's way of writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I saw the movie, have you? It's interesting that the book has Aibileen as the narrator. The movie portrayed the journalist's point of view. I'm not sure I would read it now that I know the outcome.
      If this subject interests you, you may like Maya Angelou's memoir, the first volume 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings' is brilliant. Do you know it? I loaned my copy and it has not been returned....just proves how good it is!

      Delete
    2. No I haven't seen the film yet but plan to buy the DVD when I've finished the book. I prefer to read a book before seeing the film version especially as endings can differ!
      Thankyou for the recommendation; no I've not read it so shall add it to my never-ending lists of books to read!
      I have read "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd; also made into a film. Very different to The Help but it touches on the black/white issues in America in the 1960s.

      Delete
    3. We do have many books in common. I liked 'Bees' (tissues required!) and the movie was okay, true enough the the storyline. It really irks me when movie directors change the story. It often gives a whole different focus to the book. Sure, they have to omit the sub plots but to change the ending? The qualifier 'based on' just doesn't cut it with me.

      Delete
    4. Sorry I must have missed your reply Sanmac - we were away for a few days enjoying a change of scene in Somerset. It was pretty but wet! I agree with you about when film director's change the ending of a book. I think that happened with "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult.

      Delete
  33. Why do I always choose rauchy books? I grabbed a book off my book shelves I have had for a while without reading
    'The House of God....
    Why am I enjoying it? I should be shocked by the contents, but it is really hilarious...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha. You must be discovering a latent penchant for erotica! I googled and it looks interesting. Is it by Shem? Tell us more.

      Delete
  34. For August my book groups have selected:-

    THE GREAT GATSBY - F Scott Fitzgerald
    THE STRANGER'S CHILD - Alan Hollinghurst
    AMERICAN WIFE - Curtis Sittenfield
    THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING - Milan Kundera

    Sittenfield is new to me, as is THE STRANGER'S CHILD, which I've just begun. So far it is very much like his Booker winning THE LINE OF BEAUTY.
    Has anyone read them?

    ReplyDelete
  35. I am reading "1Q84" by Hiruki Murakami,one of my favourite authors - Japanese, but very much a citizen of the world, and with a huge knowledge of music and literature, a real Renaissance man. "1Q84" is set in 1984, but a 1984 with big questions - hence the Q.
    I have very broad literary tastes but confess to a particular fondness for contemporary Japanese authors - often unfortunately hard to find here.You might like to start with Murakami, or try some of the works of Banana Yoshimoto,a female writer; you could also try the Ring trilogy by Koji Suzuki,the first of which was made into an excellent Japanese film and a deplorable American adaptation.
    Contemporary Japanese writers seem to have a very fresh approach to writing and often view reality from a different perspective.If you like everything cut and dried and are into absolute realism, probably their works will not be your cup of tea, but if you are prepared to suspend your belief in reality, it will be well worth it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Travelbug - Have you read "Burnt Shadows" by Kamila Shamsie?
      It spans over 50 years starting with the atomic bombing of Namasaki right to 9/11 and the Afghanistan war. I've just lent it to a friend but feel I should read it again one day!

      Delete
    2. I too, like Japanese authors but my reading has not been as far ranging as yours. Another you may enjoy, Travelbug, is Alex Miller's "The Ancestor Game". Miller is English but is now considered an Australian author. He writes on various themes but, in this book, he contrasts the East (China) of the past with contemporary Australia; Sydney, I think. Miller's books are all worthwhile and this one should particularly appeal to you.

      Delete
  36. I took Kate Atkinson's "Case Histories" with me in our trip and I so enjoyed it (as did my partner) that we bought the other three in the series, one via amazon for kindle, and two in a lovely bookshop in the Shetland Islands. We mentioned them to two ladies who were at our dining table and ended up giving all three to them to read on the rest of their travels!

    I also had "Constance" on my e-reader - a very good biography of Oscar Wilde's wife who was an interesting and intelligent woman in her own right. The author believes that Oscar was happily married and was probably basically heterosexual for many years but was drawn into the world of homosexuals via hos artistic friends and his high level of need for excitement and risk. Very interesting and well worth reading.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I've just read Alan Hollinghurst's THE STRANGER'S CHILD and found it a real slog. For me, it was one of those books which even though beautifully written, I was reluctant to pick up and keep reading. Having read (and enjoyed) his Booker winning LINE OF BEAUTY, I was prepared for the gay theme, however it was too similar to the other. The blurb read that it explored the changes in British society in the 20th century. It did, but it was pretty much limited to changing attitudes towards homosexuality. The structure was brilliant, the dialogue true and the characters well developed, if unlikeable. I don't recommend it unless you have a particular interest in the topic.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Having sped my way through Anne Rice "Vampire Chronicles" series, (10 books all up) I'm now reading her "Mayfair Witches" trilogy. Anne writes in beautiful baroque-style prose that has drawn me into her world-within-our-world which I never want to leave! She writes with such depth of character it leaves nothing to my imagination.
    All her books are stand-alone worthy and may I suggest starting with "Blackwood Farm" if you're not convinced to start at the very beginning with "Interview with the Vampire". You won't be disappointed, trust me, I'm a writer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the recommendation. The only Anne Rice I've read is her mainstream 1990 novel, Cry to Heaven, about the 18th century Italian castrati. I agree, she writes beautiful prose. I've not ventured into her 'vampire' books as I've probably been put off by today's proliferation of YAF on the subject. I'll trust you.

      Delete
  39. I'm currently readin Passing Over, a Penelope Lively novel of 1990 which I had missed. It's her usual wonderful characterisations - about a 52 year old woman who, with her brother, have lived with their domineering mother until her recent death and now find themselves cut adrift and asking questions about their life. I love her books and this is probably one of her best.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Has everyone read "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak? Probably the best book I've ever read, and that's saying something!
    Do yourselves a favour and you can trust me, I'm a writer! Haha

    ReplyDelete
  41. Well Marina, I must be the only one to have read it. I agree, it's a great book -and original - narrated by Death. Zusak usually writes children's books and I believe his latest is for younger readers also. It's a pity, I'd like to read more of his. Those who follow your recommendation will thank you for it.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Just been to the library to return my unfinished "Testimony" by Anita Shreve. Rather than renew it I gave up on it! Found "Family Album" by Penelope Lively jaywalker - have you read it?

    ReplyDelete
  43. Yes, and enjoyed it as much as all her others. I think I only have one left to read now. I nearly gave up on Testimony too. There are a few authors who seem to me to go off the track - Peter James just did it in his last two Inspector Banks series - too Americanised and violent when his original style was better. Elizabeth George did too with an Inspector Lynley novel which was overfull of Jamaican slang and dialect but her next one went back to her previous style. But Lively and Anita Brookner, who is another of my favourites, seem to keep up the same quality forever.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Just realised jaywalker, you must be Jean Walker on FR book club group?
    I look forward to starting Family Album; it's due back on the 22nd so must make a start soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Finally finished "Family Album" by Penelope Lively just in time to return it to the library today. I was lucky to find another of her books, "How it all Began" so I've borrowed that. It's relatively short, about 250 pages, which should see me through to a week away in Suffolk at the end of this month.

      Delete
    2. They are quite addictive I think!

      Delete
  45. I'm halfway through Penelope Lively's "Family Album" Jaywalker and enjoying it very much so thankyou for reminding me about the author. Am off to a charity shop this afternoon so shall have a look throught their bookshelves. Just wish they would store them alphabetically! Seems that Oxfam and the British Heart foundation are the only two that do around here!

    ReplyDelete
  46. Glad you're enjoying it. I only wish we had such wonderful 2nd hand shops here. We always go into Oxfam book shops when we are in England and there are often almost new books on their shelves. Nothing as good here.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Yes jaywalker, the books in Oxfam shops are usually of very good condition; perhaps that's why their books are probably the most expensive out of all the charity shops! I know the money goes to a good cause but I've found good paperbacks in our local hospice shop for 50p!! Now that is good value!

    ReplyDelete
  48. We have been in Melbourne for a few days and I guess it's no real surprise but there are temporary shops all over the city blocks selling what is obviously the stock of closed down/bankrupted book shops. There have always been one or two selling old stock or remaindered titles but this was something different. One of the biggest bookshops in the Melbourne CBD closed last year and here in little Hobart, two have closed in the last 12 months. They should probably have seen what was lying ahead but I suppose businesses always hope they will survive.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Jeffrey Eugenides has published three books and I've just finished the third. The first, The Virgin Suicides , although much acclaimed didn't grab me at all. I found it vague. I couldn't work out what was happening nor why. The deficiency is probably mine and not the author's. I felt the same about Donna Tartt's The Secret History. His second, Middlesex, was wonderful. I loved the descriptions of Greek culture and thought the storyline gripping and original. The third The Marriage Plot was again a disappointment. I loved the references to literature and Eugenides is certainly an accomplished writer but it seemed that he didn't have much to say in this book, other than the story. Did I miss something?

    ReplyDelete
  50. Has anyone read Jane Gardam? I used sanmac's literary map and found her name close to kate Atkinson whose books I enjoy. I looked her up and she sounds interesting so have ordered a 2nd hand one from amazon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heard good reports about her so picked up a copy of 'Old Filth' but have yet to read it. Which one did you order? Let me know what you think of it.

      Delete
  51. I ordered 'The Queen of the Tambourine' - thought I'd start with an early one but the Filth ones did look interesting too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I pulled out the copy of "Old Filth" to read next ..... and it's been snaffled by my OH! I'll have to wait a while. BTW, author Barbara Pym's name has been popping up here and there lately. Has anyone read her?

      Delete
  52. My last book was 'The Wives of Henry Oades' by Johanna Moran. Set in Wellington NZ in the late 1800's, it is based on the true story of the abduction of Henry's wife and children by a Maori tribe. I would have liked more information on the Maori culture, however, the book is mainly concerned with Henry's two wives. It was a book group selection and enjoyable. Moran shows promise with this debut and future books will benefit from the 'polish' which comes with experience.
    At the moment, I am re-reading McEwan's 'Atonement'. I like McEwan but I prefer his earlier books which showcase his taste for the macabre.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Am enjoying 'Atonement' much more this second-time-around. Has anyone seen the film?

      Delete
    2. Yes, we saw it when it first came out. I enjoyed most of it but thought the war scenes were a bit false looking. Great story though.

      Delete
    3. I'm reading the war scenes now. I'd forgotten that bit. Briony was precocious as a child but I'm not entirely convinced that she would have thought as McEwan described. I may have seen the movie - I can visualise Briony's visit to her sister, which comes later in the book.

      Delete
  53. I'm reading Kate Atkinson's Human Croquet and loving it. My partner happened to come across an interview with her on YouTube and we watched it via our big TV last night. The interviewer was the actor who plays the role of her detective in the TV series based on her Jackson Brodie novels and it was very interesting. Human Croquet isn't a detective novel but more like the work of Penelope Lively or Joanne Harris. It has little actual plot but the characters and their relationships are fascinating and quite quirky.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Human Croquet was my introduction to Atkinson. I'd be interested in your overall impression, once you've finished reading.

      Delete
    2. it's really hard to describe Human Croquet. It's such an amazing feat of imagination, weaving backwards and forwards and moving from reality to history, to dreams, legend, and myths, yet remaining the engrossing story of one rather weird and quirky English family of the 60s. There was a lot in it that took me back to my English childhood and I got completely carried away with it. I've just ordered Behind the Scenes in the Museum.

      Delete
    3. I did like the book, however, it left me with a vague feeling that I didn't grasp Atkinson's intention, that I missed something. (An Australian childhood may not have helped.) 'Behind the Scenes' is equally as good and, for me, more satisfying. While I also enjoy her Brodie novels and short stories, I hope that she continues writing her more meaty mainstream books as well.

      Delete
    4. I know what you mean about intention - I had the feeling it was meant to be about the mysteries of time and memories and family myths and the way the mind plays tricks with all those.

      Delete
    5. Yes, I can now see that you are right. It was beautifully written but unsatisfying in that there was no real resolution. I suppose I'm used to neater endings.

      Delete
  54. What else are we reading? Please share.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought I would easily finish Penelope Lively's "How it all Began" whilst down in Suffolk but as the weather was fine we got out and about every day and the sea air knocked me out most evenings, so restricting my "bedtime reading" :) The book is due back in the library tomorrow so I'm rushing through it now; enjoyed it very much so thanks again to jaywalker for recommending the author.

      Delete
  55. A Swedish noir thriller I picked up cheap on our last Melbourne trip. It's called The Quarry by Johan Theorin. The blurb says if you liked the Millenium series try these - with a better writer than Larsson.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did enjoy the first in Larsson's trilogy but had no desire to read more. I'll look out for Theorin, thanks. There have been several Scandinavian thriller writers published recently, probably thanks to Larsson. Where were they before? Or is it just that the media has only now discovered them?

      Delete
  56. A lot were there before - I had read all Henning Mankell's Wallander in the late 90s/early 2000s although even those were translated some years after he wrote them. I had also read Ake Edwardson, Camilla Lackberg and and a couple of others before Larsson appeared. I suppose what Larsson's trilogy did was bring Scandinavian writers to the notice of the more general reader even though crime fans had found them earlier. i guess it got such publicity because it was a contentious trilogy politically,and very graphic and because of his untimely death. Many of the other writers are as good or better (Mankell definitely) but didn't get the publicity.

    Then publishers suddenly started translating and publishing many of the novels that had already been published in Scandinavia over the last decade or so and we're now starting to catch up and get their latest novels as they are published. There are a lot the general reading public probably aren't even aware of. There is a good website here:

    www.scandinaviancrimefiction.com

    although even that does not have a complete list. I'm only just getting started on Anne Holt's novels.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are not many authors I recognise on the list. Mankell? I've not read the Wallander books but really like those set in Africa. Others I've heard of but not read - Lackberg, Nesbo, Indridason. Holt is new to me. The 'speculations about hers, and her heroine's, sexual orientation' must give her books a twist. ala Cornwall?

      Delete
  57. Mankell's Wallander books are very good. Colin and I had a binge on them some years ago and I have every one on my shelves. I've seen him interviewed a few times and he is a very interesting and thoughtful man. I'm not so keen on Nesbo as everyone else seems to be but particularly like Lackberg and Edwardson and Karin Fossum. if you google Scandinavian crime writers on amazon.uk you'll be amazed at the number, and many not known much here at all.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Since I have been working full-time, I look forward to the weekend for an hour or two of (hopefully) uninterrupted reading. I'm planning to pay our Group Read some attention. What will you be reading this weekend?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was determined this weekend to finish Carol Shield's "The Stone Diaries" - a book I have been reading off and on for what seems like months! So this afternoon I found an armchair, bathed in sunlight from the window, settled down to read and am pleased to say,finish it I did! I can see why she won the Pulitzer prize! I think she has a unique style of writing, definitely one to keep and perhaps one day read again!

      Delete
    2. So pleased you did enjoy the book, Sylvia. I doubted for awhile as it seemed you were finding it a chore. She does write lighter/shorter novels.

      Delete
    3. Yes I was determined to continue it despite the lack of dialogue which is something I enjoy in a book! I have "Unless" on my shelf but on reading the first few lines it seems a bit depressing so might leave it for another day!

      Delete
    4. I didn't find 'Unless' depressing, despite the storyline. Shields is actually quite humorous in parts, in a tongue-in-cheek way. I loved the 'writerly' references. All her books are different, however, with not a lot of dialogue.

      Delete
  59. I haven't read any of hers for many years but I did enjoy them when I did. Maybe worth another look.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Been incapacitated for a while. The upside is I've had more time to read. I finished our group read and am eager for the discussion. I'm now partway through Capital by John Lanchester. It's interesting to read this after 'The St Zita Society' as it has a similar structure. It revolves around the residents in a street in a London, only Lanchester is concerned with the owners and not their servants. It's a bit of a mystery, too, but mostly (so far) a satire on the British wealthy classes.
    Also I've just begun Lisa Genova's Left Neglected , a bookgroup selection. I really enjoyed her 'Still Alice' and this one promises to be just as good. Jodi Picoult fans should enjoy them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Capital" is proving to be a bit of a disappointment. I'm now at page 336 (of 577), surely time enough for all the threads to come together, yet we are still spending a couple of chapters on each 'resident' - not long enough to become involved - before moving on, There are 8 threads plus the detective. It's not difficult to follow their stories but it takes a skilled writer (which Lanchester reputedly is) to maintain interest in each one without much action or suspense. Lanchester's thrust is the waste of wealth and the imbalance between rich and poor, both people and nations.

      Delete
  61. I'm about to begin David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest . Wish me luck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My copy is a pre-loved hard back. Inside, someone has written "do not read - insane rubbish". Lol. I'm 30 pages in (Moi,of 1079 incl footnotes!) and it is certainly 'different'. Anyone read it?

      Delete
  62. I'm reading Christobel Kent's 'A Time of Mourning'. She writes very readable, and quite thoughtful, detective series (4) set in Florence with an ex-policeman as her detective. The descriptions of Florence are well done and interesting if you've been there. She has also written four other novels of a more general nature set in Tuscany, not unlike Penelope Lively. She has a new one just out so might put that on my Christmas wish list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so clever at finding interesting, but obscure authors. I'm sure I'd like the Florence books. I loved that city.

      Delete
    2. Yes, I think you would like them. They are not run of the mill crime stories. Sandro Cellini, her detective is near retirement, his wife works in a fashion boutique and has health problems, and they don't have children and he is a bit dour and cynical!

      You'll find all her books listed on www.fantastic fiction.com

      Delete
    3. PS I noticed Sally Vickers has a new novel out for Christmas so that'a another to put on my Santa list.

      Delete
  63. It is difficult to find time to read in this lead up to Christmas. How are you managing? I've been dipping into several books at once, including a couple of 'tough' reads,("They" say you should stretch yourself), some lighter reads for fun and an unpublished manuscript for a friend of a friend. Plus, of course, our group read, Stephen King. (I'm eagerly awaiting the discussion). One I did finish was Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle . I missed it in my YAF days and it must be a favourite as a couple of people commented when they noticed me reading it. Lovely book and it would make a good stocking filler for a young reader or one, like me, who missed it first time round. Who has read it and what did you think of it?

    ReplyDelete
  64. Haven't read it but have seen the film twice and it was very good. Bill Nighy was brilliant as usual and Tara Fitzgerald was good too.

    I'm ploughing through Casual Vacancy as the Stephen King still hasn't arrived. I guess her publisher thought anything by Rowlings would sell but it's far from brilliant. It's a big book and half way through almost nothing has happened. She draws the characters very well and the descriptions of English village life and politics are good but it definitely lacks something. Can't really put my finger oj it. The friend who loaned it to me had to ask me to remind her what it was about and she only read it a few months ago so perhaps that says something.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I must have a blind spot with respect to 'I Capture the Castle'. I only recently heard about the book and I didn't know there was a movie. The trailer on IMD looks interesting. I'll try to get hold of a copy. It's billed as a love story and I suppose it is but I wouldn't describe the book as such. I wonder why it has a restricted classification?

      Thanks for the warning about Rowling. I think I'll pass. After seeing movie trailers, I've no inclination to read the Harry Potter books either, unless it is to see what all the fuss is about.

      Delete
  65. Well, I've started the Stephen King group read, but the old bod is tired and knows it has a break coming up. So Ive slipped backed into C S Lewis' Narnia Books.Nice to read them with an adults perspective, and great train ride fodder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Comfort books which when revisited, give a warm feeling that all is right with the world. I've not read the Narnia books but after reading 'I Capture the Castle' am considering revisiting Gene Stratton Porter. I'm reluctant because it's been so long and my memories are so fond and I fear they may not stand up to my adult's perspective.

      King's book brings us back to the real world and shows us the best and the worst in people. The worst is pretty bad - it is Stephen King, after all.

      Delete
  66. The King book arrived today and I am almost finished the Rowlings so will get to it soon. Interesting to see the reviews of it on amazon are evenly divided between one and five stars. I'm enjoying the characters more and more but still feel as if something is missing. Perhaps there is just too much expectation of such an author.

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Casual-Vacancy-J-K-Rowling/product-reviews/0316228532

    ReplyDelete
  67. I started the Stephen King but I don't like it and finding it hard to force myself to read it when I have a big pile of Christmas books crying out to be read.
    I ended up enjoying the J K Rowlings more than I at first thought. The plot got more complex and interesting towards the end and certainly gave food for thought about modern life, teenagers and parents and relationships generally. She makes some very good observations on humanity and is witty and humorous. I especially liked this one:

    "he had a habit of making sweeping judgments based on first impressions, on single actions. He never seemed to grasp the immense mutability of human nature, nor to appreciate that behind every nondescript face lay a wild and unique hinterland like his own."

    ReplyDelete
  68. Happy New Year everyone!
    having finished "Me Before You" by JoJo Moyes I wanted something different to start the new year with so from my pile of charity shop purchases, selected Kate Grenville's "The Idea of Perfection".
    Has anyone else read this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy New Year to you, too, Sylvia.

      What did you think of the Moyes book? It's received quite a bit of media attention.

      I very much liked "The Idea of Perfection", written before her Aust. history series. It was the 2001 winner of the Orange Prize. A real bargain from your charity shop! Enjoy.

      Delete
    2. HI Sanmac, "Me Before You" was one book I never got bored with at any stage and I do like a lot of dialogue! Right up until the end I hoped the main character would "change his mind". I could understand his desire to do what he wanted to do (I don't want to give too much away for people who have not read the book yet!) but I cannot imagine the effect it had on his parents (or any loved ones who have had to go through this process in real life)

      Delete
    3. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll look out for a copy. Is it like a Jodi Picoult?

      Delete
    4. Catching up on this site! Have been busy with famliy committments.
      I've only read one Jodi Picoult. No, I wouldn't say JoJo Moyes wrote in the same style and I do like her writing so enjoyed Me Before YOu; gives you an insight into the problems of a quadraplegic.

      Delete
  69. Jaywalker, I know what you mean about struggling to read a book when there are other more tempting ones lying there waiting! I tried to get into "Life of Pi" but have put it aside for now! Interesting to read your comments on JK Rowling's adult book! Might give it a go if I come across it in a charity shop!

    ReplyDelete
  70. Having rushed to the movies to see Life of Pi I thought I should do the comparison with the novel thing. A bad habit I know, which often leads to disappointment......Disappointed by the movie, and Sylvia I too was unable to get into the book. Thought it was me being in holiday mood, but no, as have started Philip Roth's American Pastoral. What a great read, and can't put it down.....

    Back to King.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Relieved to hear I'm not the only one finding it difficult to get into Life of Pi, Moi! Must admit from the excerpts of the film that I've seen on TV, it doesn't appeal to me at all!

      Delete
    2. Usually I rush to read the Booker winner each year but I just couldn't get interested in 'The Life of Pi'. I read the first chapters a couple of times before determining to finish it. I am so glad I did. This is the only book which, having read the last page, I turned immediately to the beginning and began again. Since then, I followed Martel's blog. I loved the book and am desperate to see the movie. Moi, perhaps it is one of those movies which we need to have first read the book to appreciate it?

      Delete
    3. I'm so glad you are enjoying Roth, Moi. He is one of my favourite authors. Unfortunately, he recently announced his retirement from writing but his backlist should keep us going for a while. I've not read American Pastoral but I think 'The Human Stain', another Zuckerman novel, is brilliant! Am eagerly awaiting your review.

      Delete
    4. You may well be correct Sanmac.I will not send my copy of the book to the charity bin just yet, but rather make another attempt when the movie is out of my head.

      I am now totally disallusioned by the movie having read yesterday that the tiger was totally digitalised. Amazing technology however!

      Delete
    5. Am off to see the movie today, despite the digitalised tiger! We can compare notes.

      Delete
    6. Has anyone seen Quartet yet? We loved it. We saw it on stage in London about 10 years ago with Donald Sinden and Stephanie Cole and that was marvellous but Billy Connelly and Dame Maggie are hard to beat. Best film I've seen this year.

      Delete
    7. I loved it too, Jaywalker. There's a new thread on 'movies', where we can continue the discussion.

      Delete
  71. I'm halfway through "Bess of Hardwick" and came across one of the most poignant things I've ever read. When 17 year old Jane Grey was brought, blindfolded, to the scaffold, she struggled forwards towards the block and was heard to cry out: "Where is it? What am I to do?" I haven't been able to put it out of my thoughts for some time.

    ReplyDelete
  72. In between reading "The Best Exotic Marigold hotel" which is on my bedside table, I am reading at my kitchen table "Standing up for James" by Jane Raca, telling the true story of the author's struggle for help in raising her severely disabled son. A real eye-opener!

    ReplyDelete
  73. Finally finished The Best Exotic ... an easy and entertaining read.
    (The DVD a disappointment in that it wasn't true to the book!)
    Now beginning something a bit different, The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hate it when the story is changed in the movie. I don't mind them omitting some but often the thrust of the book is altered, probably to fit what is perceived as audience expectation. Grrr.

      I was disappointed in Ghosh's 'The Sea of Poppies', which is the only one of his I've read. I know one shouldn't judge an author on just one book but I've not rushed to read more of his. I'm most interested in what you think of 'The Glass Palace'. There's been some good reviews.

      Delete
    2. Yes Sanmac, the only similarity were the names of the characters!

      Funnily enough someone recommended "The Sea of Poppies" but I came across "The Glass Palace" in a charity shop and bought it so will let you know what I think! Watch this space ....

      Delete
  74. Although I haven't posted here recently, I have been reading.:) I had intentions of posting a full review, however as always, time is my enemy.

    Left Neglected by Lisa Genova is similar in format to her previous title, Still Alice. It describes a rare medical condition where, after brain trauma (in this case, a car accident) the brain does not recognise the left hand side of the body. Both stories are narrated by the patient herself and with Genova's light touch, neither are maudlin. I preferred Still Alice, about Alzheimer's disease which I felt was more polished. Genova, a biopsychologist and neuroscientist, has now published another title, Love Anthony, exploring autism.

    The Dancer Upstairs by Nicholas Shakespeare.
    This, my introduction to Nicholas Shakespeare, is his best known work, perhaps because of the film of the same name. Set in South America, it has an original storyline of the capture of a rebel leader. Although told in retrospect, it's chronological and maintains the suspense. An interesting story and well written, I'll be reading more of his titles. My OH enjoyed it, too.

    Autumn Liang by Alex Miller (two time Miles Franklin winner, The Ancestor Game and Journey to the Stone Country), was inspired by the lives of Sydney Nolan and Summer Reed. It was a book group selection and so beautifully written that a member of the group noticed that each chapter is entire and can be read as a short story. Thanks, Nola.

    The Ghost (aka The Ghost Writer) by Robert Harris
    I enjoyed this book and even more on the second reading. A political thriller with a plausible story. It's really about betrayal. It has my favourite quote:

    "All good books are different but all bad books are exactly the same. I know this to be a fact because in my line of work I read a lot of bad books - books so bad they aren't even published, which is quite a feat, when you consider what is published."

    The Taliban Cricket Club By Timeri Murari
    Another book group selection but one that I didn't enjoy. It would have helped, I suppose if I knew something about cricket. Life in Afghanistan under the Taliban is portrayed from the point of view of the average citizen, albeit those opposed to the regime. The cruelties described didn't move me as much as I expect the author intended as the writing style seemed to me like YAF, with simple sentences and little description. The story is told in the 1st person, a mistake in my opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  75. At the moment, I'm rereading David Malouf's, Ransom, as it is the set text this semester. It's a retelling of the death of Hector from Homer's Iliad, told from Achilles' perspective. I'd forgotten how exquisite Malouf's prose is. (He is primarily a poet, after all). Has anyone read it? I'd love to hear your opinion. I also very much enjoyed Malouf's An Imaginery Life, based on Ovid's ostracism.

    ReplyDelete
  76. I'm reading Rosie Thomas' "Lovers and Newcomers" - it tells the tale of a group of old University friends who decided to spend their retirement living a type of commune life within the grounds of Miranda's large house. So far so good!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds good. I will add it to my list!

      Delete
    2. Really enjoyed it! Now starting "Elegance" by Kathleen Tessaro, one of my charity shop books and a new author for me to try!

      Delete
  77. "Elegance" was quite humorous book, slightly Chick Lit as the main character is a 30 something woman trying to achieve an aura of elegance with the help of a book. Passages from this book is intertwined with her own story, her recovery from a broken marriage and the discovery of a new love.
    On a recent train trip I read a short novel by Rosamund Pilcher (Sleeping Tiger) which I thought I hadn't read before; however a few pages in and I realised I had read it many years ago. I continued with it as I couldn't remember the ending. It was a light, easy read which transported me to a warm and sunny Mediterranan island; just what I needed with our long cold winter lingering here in the UK!
    Now about to start "Peaches for Monsieur Cure" by Joanne Harris.

    ReplyDelete
  78. Elegance is new to me. Who is the author? I do like Rosamund Pilcher; she is one of my 'comfort' authors but I've not read that one. The Shell Seekers is my favourite and, I think, her best known. Do let me know what you think of "Peaches". It's one of my bookgroup's set read for later in the year.

    Have you read Liz Birsky? Chick Lit for older women but well done.

    ReplyDelete
  79. "Elegance" is by Kathleen Tessaro and completely unknown to me but apparently it got into the Sunday Times Bestseller list at some point. The author lives in America but the story is set in London.
    No I haven't read anything by Birsky but will have a peep on Amazon.
    I'm already under the spell of Joanne Harris' Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure; it's a long novel though so might take me a while to get through!

    ReplyDelete
  80. What Are You Reading?

    I'm about 2/3's through The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson, winner of this year's Pulitzer. Like other recent Pulitzer winners, this one is certainly Different. (note the capital letter). So different, it's difficult to categorise. Set in North Korea, under Kim Jong-IL, I thought at first it was satirical but it is based on fact, according to the author's note. The blurb describes it as dystopian ala Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World and it does seem other worldly. There's pathos and lots of horrifying events, though they are treated as just part of the story. It's not a difficult read though I need to concentrate to keep events in sequence, even though it is linear in structure. There are two narrators and loudspeaker announcements fill in the gaps and act as a kind of chorus. David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) describes it as "an addictive novel of daring ingenuity." I am enjoying it and can't guess at the ending. Has anyone read it? I'd be interested in your thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great book and thought provoking. One character asks if it is true that in America there are cans of food just for dogs. Hmmmm

      Delete
  81. Finished "Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure" by Joanne Harris and absolutely loved it. Sanmac I would recommend it for a bookclub read definitely. It is a follow-on from "Chocolat" and "The Lollipop Shoes" but I feel you could get away with not having read those previous two before as Harris often refers back to her old characters.
    Now made a start on "The Seamstress" by Maria Duenas.
    I will be off to Menorca on the 17th so will be absent from the site for at least 2 weeks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the thumbs up on 'Peaches', Sylvia. It's our August read and I look forward to it. Haven't read the others but I've seen the movie, 'Chocolat' and hope that will get me through.
      Duenas is new to me so I googled. Seems as if the story may have been inspired by Coco Chanel? We don't hear much about contemporary Spanish authors here and I'll look out for it.
      Have fun in Menorca. It looks like paradise.

      Delete
    2. Thankyou Sanmac; we are more than ready for our holiday and some sunshine; my husband supposedly being semi-retired has been up and down to London by train for meetings every day this week so far! AND after 3 months of nothing happening with the house sale we have viewers on Saturday!!! C'est la vie!
      "The Seamstress" was recommended to me by someone on the FR bookclub and am so far enjoying it.
      Hasta luego!

      Delete
    3. That is good news, Sylvia. Wishing you luck for a sale. Enjoy your holiday. Maybe you will send us a pic?

      Delete
  82. My next read is Magician by Raymond E Feist, the first in the Riftwar Saga, and a book that I have been meaning to read for years. (Shades of Tolkein and Liam Hearn.) I discovered after researching at about the halfway mark that there are 30 books in the series! Whoa, that's a commitment I doubt I'm prepared to make. The second, Silverthorn is on my shelf and that may just do me. So far, it's a gripping yarn, light and easy to read and lauding the qualities of honour, duty, honesty etc. Good YAF hinting at the problems of intermingling different cultures which is of topical interest.

    ReplyDelete
  83. I caught up with a girlfriend a few weeks back for tea at a pub at Stones Corner. Walked past a great little bookstore on the way which we just happened to walk into.....Late for our reservation by 30 minutes .Lovely store "celebrating Australian Authors and Stories"

    So I am currently reading Capricornia by Xavier Herbert ( not sure about the content but well written ) and Careful He Might Hear You by Sumner Locke Elliott. To complete my Aussie trio I am also tackling The Anzacs by Patsy Adam-Smith........

    Isn't it just great when you discover a new joy ? We will have to dine out at Stones more often !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I too, like Australian authors, particularly the earlier ones and can recommend lots, if you continue your Australiana jag: Louis Stone, Kylie Tennant, Katherine Susannah Prichard, and, more recently Kim Scott and Alexis Wright. I might make a list for our international viewers. Thanks for the thumbs up on the Stones Corner bookstore. I'll certainly pay a visit.

      Delete
    2. btw, I joined FR but I can't find groups only memory boxes which don't interest me.

      Delete
    3. sanmac - FR changed things around completely last year so if you were in a discussion group and you left you couldn't rejoin and no one new could join. They had lots of complaints and changed it back again but at the same time they changed the location/menu of the groups so I don't know how a new member gets into them but I do know it is possible as several new people have joined the book threads quite recently. Sylvia might know more.

      Delete
    4. I'm as puzzled as you Jaywalker about how you join FR and a new group. As I'm an old member it was quite straight forward as my Groups were already listed for me to click onto but I did find it easier to access when I downloaded Google Chrome and stopped using Explorer to log onto. In fact I now access this site via Chrome and find I don't get little boxes coming up telling me the system is causing my computer to go slow! We had a few "new" people posting their comments on Book Lovers, perhaps I will post a relevant question if I have time before I go off on holiday tomorrow. Jaywalker I hope you have a wonderful trip too to the UK though make sure you bring a cardigan or two!!

      Delete
    5. I managed to find the group by adding you both as contacts (?) The group was listed in your profile. It's definitely not user-friendly, is it? And there's more boxes which makes it tricky to find anything.

      Delete
    6. Well done! No,it's not user friendly any more as I suspect that when the new owners took it over they really wanted to get rid of the old discussion sites and have it just centred round the memory boxes etc but had to continue them after much protest from original members,

      Delete
  84. Whilst on holiday I finished reading a 612 page book Called "The Seamstress" by Maria Duenas and then started a lighter read by Alexander McCall Smith, "The World According to Bertie" (one of his Scotland Street series)
    "The Seamstress" tells of the highs and lows of a young girl's life pre the Spanish Civil War and which takes her to Morocco and back to Madrid over the course of about ten years. Readers on the Amazon site gave it mixed reviews but I loved it and it has whetted my appetite to read more about the Spanish Civil War and how it affected people's lives.
    Now half way through my lighter read which is set in Edinburgh, the city of my husband's birth so I can relate to certain name places and the ways of the people who live there! It has often made me chuckle and a good contrast to the intensity of "The Seamstress".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now, that's my kind of holiday. Where are the pics? Duenas has been on my list since you first mentioned it. Now that you have enjoyed it, I must look harder. I've not read much on the Spanish War either, apart from Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls but there are many. I just googled 'Spanish Civil War novels'.

      If you like McCall Smith's style, have you tried Colin Cotteril? Not Scottish though, he sets his books in Laos, but similar in other respects.

      Delete
    2. Menorca certainly is the island to go to if you want a relaxing holiday Sanmac. We love it and have been returning to the same villa for about five years now. How would I post a photo or two on this site? I should have got my husband to take a photo of me on the lounger reading then I could have posted it under the Gallery section! :)

      Not read anything by Cotteril; yet another to add to my list. Once I finish McCall Smith's novel I have Khaled Hosseini's new novel "And the Mountains Echoed" waiting for me!

      Delete
    3. Do let us know how you find Hosseini's latest. No-one I know has yet read it.

      Email me and I will post photos for you.

      Delete
  85. I'm reading Rachel Hore's "Gathering Storm" lent to me by a friend but hope to get through it quickly as Hosseini's latest is still waiting for me!!

    ReplyDelete
  86. hello everyone. We got back on Sunday and I'm already back at work so lucky I don't suffer from jetlag.

    I'm halfway through "Z", the newish novel about Zelda Fitzgerald and I know madeleline was reading the other novel about her- title of which I have just forgotten. This one is an easy light read and has had ver mixed reviews but I am enjoying it. Some reviews said it was well researched while other said it wasn't accurate at all so it's hard to know what to believe. However, one interesting point the author makes is that the diagnosis today for Zelda would be bi-polar and that makes complete sense. What a pity to think she would not have been locked up and therefore not burnt to death had she lived nowadays.

    ReplyDelete
  87. I have at long last started reading Hosseini's "And the Mountains Echoed" and am already am enraptured by his style of story telling; watch this space....

    ReplyDelete
  88. It hasn't actually taken me 2 months to read Hosseini's latest book; I've just been neglecting this site!
    The story follows the life of a young girl who is sold by her father to a well to-do couple, in order for the rest of his children to be fed. I found the names of characters a little confusing at times as they had been introduced as children and were suddenly mentioned again as adults. Definitely a book to read again some day!

    ReplyDelete
  89. Have also recently read a murder/mystery lent to me by a friend otherwise I wouldn't have chosen it but I was hooked. It tell the story of a woman who sets out to prove that her sister was murdered and did not commit suicide as suspected by the police. A real page-turner. "SISTER" by Rosamund Lipton.

    ReplyDelete
  90. I'll put that on my list, Sylvia. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  91. Just finished reading Chimamanda Adiche's "Purple Hibiscus"; the tale of a teenage girl growing up in Nigeria in a wealthy Catholic household headed by an abusive father. It shows both the good and bad sides of this religion. Beautifully written and gives readers an insight into life in this part of Africa.

    ReplyDelete
  92. Have had my nose in an early Christmas present : the Jim Qwilleran Feline Whodunnit series, "The Cat who ........" by Lilian Jackson Braun.

    The author had her first book of the series published in 1967 and there are 30 all up, the premise being that the two cats solve the crimes. I have just completed book 2 : The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern

    They are light easy reads - just what the Doctor ordered at this stage !

    ReplyDelete
  93. Santa left an interesting little book under the tree : Me Cheeta , My Life in Hollywood as told to James Lever.

    Its a Hollywood expose through the eyes of Cheeta the Chimp from the Tarzan movies commencing way back in the 30's. Parts are decidedly tacky ,or do we need to know this stuff and hey, the people in question are dead and are unable to defend themselves .......However, it is well written, sarcastic, clever, and I can't put the wretched book down .

    Did Santa bring you some new reading material ?

    ReplyDelete