August 20th, 2013
An utter page turner and the most entertaining book I have read in a long time.
This is the story of Don, a genetics professor who is on the Asperger’s spectrum as he tries to find a suitable wife. If that’s the premise, then you can imagine that this book is funny and imaginative. You would be right. His quirky phrasing and logical thinking tell a love story that is far from conventional.
What makes this story so compelling is probably due to the way it is narrated but also it is action packed! Think delicious cuisine, street fights, cocktail evenings, a ball, a trip to NYC and a quest to find Rosie’s genetic father. 
Honesty, not a dull moment. Recommend to all.
If you liked this, you will also like:'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime' by Mark Haddon'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' by Jonathan Safran Foer 

An utter page turner and the most entertaining book I have read in a long time.

This is the story of Don, a genetics professor who is on the Asperger’s spectrum as he tries to find a suitable wife. If that’s the premise, then you can imagine that this book is funny and imaginative. You would be right. His quirky phrasing and logical thinking tell a love story that is far from conventional.

What makes this story so compelling is probably due to the way it is narrated but also it is action packed! Think delicious cuisine, street fights, cocktail evenings, a ball, a trip to NYC and a quest to find Rosie’s genetic father. 

Honesty, not a dull moment. Recommend to all.

If you liked this, you will also like:
'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime' by Mark Haddon
'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' by Jonathan Safran Foer 

August 4th, 2013
After visiting the west coast of the South Island of NZ, I wanted to learn more about life in the coal and gold mines. 
So, instead of delving into a dry and dense textbook on the subject, I decided to read ‘The Denninston Rose’ by Jenny Patrick. Set in the 1880’s, this piece of historic fiction, follows a young girl called Rose who travels with her mother to the vast, damp and dreary Denniston Plateau (near Westport) to find a new life.
However, more interesting for me was the account that Patrick gave of the first miners strike in NZ. This arose from poor working conditions, and the dangers of the job. Trained English miners scorned the ‘hacks’, claiming that these untrained men put all their lives at stake. Patrick certainly did a good job of describing a hard life up there.
All in all, it was interesting and fulfilled my need to learn more about the West Coast - however, as a story it jumped a bit from here to there and I didn’t really engage with it until the last quarter of the book.

After visiting the west coast of the South Island of NZ, I wanted to learn more about life in the coal and gold mines. 

So, instead of delving into a dry and dense textbook on the subject, I decided to read ‘The Denninston Rose’ by Jenny Patrick. Set in the 1880’s, this piece of historic fiction, follows a young girl called Rose who travels with her mother to the vast, damp and dreary Denniston Plateau (near Westport) to find a new life.

However, more interesting for me was the account that Patrick gave of the first miners strike in NZ. This arose from poor working conditions, and the dangers of the job. Trained English miners scorned the ‘hacks’, claiming that these untrained men put all their lives at stake. Patrick certainly did a good job of describing a hard life up there.

All in all, it was interesting and fulfilled my need to learn more about the West Coast - however, as a story it jumped a bit from here to there and I didn’t really engage with it until the last quarter of the book.

June 12th, 2013
With each book I read, I am becoming more and more an avid Ian McEwan fan. Nothing beats ‘At Chesil Beach’ but this modern literary classic is the work of a true wordsmith. Exquisitely written - just check out the first sentance - with just the right mix of humor, a vocabulary to die for and McEwan’s gentle insite into love, loss and tradgedy.
This book is a tradgedy. Others might argue with that. But I felt such a sense of loss while reading it. If you have seen the well-adapted movie, then you know that Atonement is a story about a decision a small girl takes one summer which alters the history of her sister, her lover and herself. I don’t want to give too much away but the title kind of hints that some making up is to be done.
I found little bits of myself in the girl Briony’s character - so glad I never got so carried away though!
Aside from the plot, McEwan captures life before, during and after WW2 in a fresh and poignant way that made me feel suddenly patriotic. Take me back to that old Tallis Manor in the middle of the park on a hot summers day and I too will enjoy the chocolate cocktails!

With each book I read, I am becoming more and more an avid Ian McEwan fan. Nothing beats ‘At Chesil Beach’ but this modern literary classic is the work of a true wordsmith. Exquisitely written - just check out the first sentance - with just the right mix of humor, a vocabulary to die for and McEwan’s gentle insite into love, loss and tradgedy.

This book is a tradgedy. Others might argue with that. But I felt such a sense of loss while reading it. If you have seen the well-adapted movie, then you know that Atonement is a story about a decision a small girl takes one summer which alters the history of her sister, her lover and herself. I don’t want to give too much away but the title kind of hints that some making up is to be done.

I found little bits of myself in the girl Briony’s character - so glad I never got so carried away though!

Aside from the plot, McEwan captures life before, during and after WW2 in a fresh and poignant way that made me feel suddenly patriotic. Take me back to that old Tallis Manor in the middle of the park on a hot summers day and I too will enjoy the chocolate cocktails!

May 29th, 2013
First thoughts: the paper stock that this edition was printed on is beautiful and crisp and the font is equally as stylish. Also, smells good. But then again, I was reading a new book.
Just when you thought that another angle of WW2 couldn’t be covered in a novel, comes this tour de force. The Glass Room is a book of layers, covering decades in several countries with characters that intertwine, stealing the limelight at different points in the book.
Layer 1: WW2 and the invasion of new Czech state by the Germans, then the Russians and then freedom.  The man who owns the glass house (Victor) is a Jew, so he and his family have to flee overseas to Switzerland and eventually America.
Layer 2: The house in the book is based on Villa Tugendhat, designed by Mies van der Rohe. It was considered the pinnacle of his domestic designs in Europe and if you have a look at images online, it is uncompromisingly modern.  Simon Mawer writes in such a way as to make architecture feel like a poem.
Layer 3: This book is sprawling with friendship, love and lust. At some points it feels as though the previous layers are just an excuse for Mawer to self indulge in his sexual fantasies. Some of the relationships are poignant and moving - like the friendship / romantic relationship between main character Leisel and her best friend Hana. At other times, it seems overwraught, not adding to the story and distracting from the historical detail. That’s just my opinion… feel free to feel differently.

First thoughts: the paper stock that this edition was printed on is beautiful and crisp and the font is equally as stylish. Also, smells good. But then again, I was reading a new book.

Just when you thought that another angle of WW2 couldn’t be covered in a novel, comes this tour de force. The Glass Room is a book of layers, covering decades in several countries with characters that intertwine, stealing the limelight at different points in the book.

Layer 1: WW2 and the invasion of new Czech state by the Germans, then the Russians and then freedom.  The man who owns the glass house (Victor) is a Jew, so he and his family have to flee overseas to Switzerland and eventually America.

Layer 2: The house in the book is based on Villa Tugendhat, designed by Mies van der Rohe. It was considered the pinnacle of his domestic designs in Europe and if you have a look at images online, it is uncompromisingly modern.  Simon Mawer writes in such a way as to make architecture feel like a poem.

Layer 3: This book is sprawling with friendship, love and lust. At some points it feels as though the previous layers are just an excuse for Mawer to self indulge in his sexual fantasies. Some of the relationships are poignant and moving - like the friendship / romantic relationship between main character Leisel and her best friend Hana. At other times, it seems overwraught, not adding to the story and distracting from the historical detail. That’s just my opinion… feel free to feel differently.

May 10th, 2013
Read ‘The Corrections’ by Jonathan Franzen. Felt apathetic.
Read ‘Freedom’ by Jonathan Franzen about 20 months later and loved it!
Put off reading it for so long because of the so dislikable characters in Corrections but really, really, the characters in Freedom really captured me! They were so real, recognisable and utterly human. Messy mixes of good, bad, beautiful and ugly.
This is a story of marriage and family. It mainly follows Patty and Walter Berglund as they navigate the process of learning to love eachother. Honestly. It is a heartwrenching, funny and moving story. A great read. Very much a slice of life, kind of book.
You can bypass the Corrections but you can’t miss this one.
Other post modern reads you might like:'The Slap' by Chris Tsolkas'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' by Jonathan Safran Foer'The Secret History' by Donna TarttAnything written by Michael Chabon 

Read ‘The Corrections’ by Jonathan Franzen. Felt apathetic.

Read ‘Freedom’ by Jonathan Franzen about 20 months later and loved it!

Put off reading it for so long because of the so dislikable characters in Corrections but really, really, the characters in Freedom really captured me! They were so real, recognisable and utterly human. Messy mixes of good, bad, beautiful and ugly.

This is a story of marriage and family. It mainly follows Patty and Walter Berglund as they navigate the process of learning to love eachother. Honestly. It is a heartwrenching, funny and moving story. A great read. Very much a slice of life, kind of book.

You can bypass the Corrections but you can’t miss this one.

Other post modern reads you might like:
'The Slap' by Chris Tsolkas
'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' by Jonathan Safran Foer
'The Secret History' by Donna Tartt
Anything written by Michael Chabon 

March 23rd, 2013

You will have probably guessed by now that I will read every new book that Tracy Chevalier puts out. I love her!
Why? Let me count the ways.
Tracy Chevalier’s novels look at historic events from the eyes of unexpected main characters. She brings these large topics to life with intimate details and often, with reference to a specific artistic practice.
For someone who hates the dry, dull tones of a history tome… then reading a Chevalier novel is the way to go.
The Last Runaway is a novel about the underground railroad in America during the early 20th century. Seen through the eyes of a young British Quaker, we learn about the cost of following your convictions in a country where slavery is totally ingrained. Throughout the book, Chevalier charms us with details about different kinds of quilting, Quaker lifestyle and farmlife in Ohio, America.
Not my favorite Chevalier novel (still Girl with a Pearl Earring and the Lady and The Unicorn) but a page turner nonetheless.
If you liked this, read:'The Help' by Kathryn Stockett'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper LeeAnything else by Tracy Chevalier 

You will have probably guessed by now that I will read every new book that Tracy Chevalier puts out. I love her!

Why? Let me count the ways.

Tracy Chevalier’s novels look at historic events from the eyes of unexpected main characters. She brings these large topics to life with intimate details and often, with reference to a specific artistic practice.

For someone who hates the dry, dull tones of a history tome… then reading a Chevalier novel is the way to go.

The Last Runaway is a novel about the underground railroad in America during the early 20th century. Seen through the eyes of a young British Quaker, we learn about the cost of following your convictions in a country where slavery is totally ingrained. Throughout the book, Chevalier charms us with details about different kinds of quilting, Quaker lifestyle and farmlife in Ohio, America.

Not my favorite Chevalier novel (still Girl with a Pearl Earring and the Lady and The Unicorn) but a page turner nonetheless.

If you liked this, read:
'The Help' by Kathryn Stockett
'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee
Anything else by Tracy Chevalier 

March 11th, 2013

Time to read a classic.
It is easy to see why people often compare ‘Rebecca’ to Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’. Sinister tone. Young girl marries/ falls in love with older, mysterious man. They live in a beautiful mansion full of mysteries. The ex-wife is forever lurking in the background, haunting them.
Some critics say that ‘Rebecca’ is a poor cousin to ‘Eyre’ but I have to say that I much preferred it. Although the nameless main character was self-conscious and insecure, I truely felt she was real. Du Maurier has a way of writing which makes you imagine a person or a situation exactly. She writes like a keen observer of people and their habbits.
In its time this book was called a Gothic romance. It definitely has gothic elements (the overgrown garden, the dark rooms of the house, haunted dreams) but it is also much more a story about marriage and the fraught tension of what it means to be a woman and a wife.
If you liked Jane Eyre definitely read this. If you liked this, definitely read Jane Eyre.

Time to read a classic.

It is easy to see why people often compare ‘Rebecca’ to Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’. Sinister tone. Young girl marries/ falls in love with older, mysterious man. They live in a beautiful mansion full of mysteries. The ex-wife is forever lurking in the background, haunting them.

Some critics say that ‘Rebecca’ is a poor cousin to ‘Eyre’ but I have to say that I much preferred it. Although the nameless main character was self-conscious and insecure, I truely felt she was real. Du Maurier has a way of writing which makes you imagine a person or a situation exactly. She writes like a keen observer of people and their habbits.

In its time this book was called a Gothic romance. It definitely has gothic elements (the overgrown garden, the dark rooms of the house, haunted dreams) but it is also much more a story about marriage and the fraught tension of what it means to be a woman and a wife.

If you liked Jane Eyre definitely read this. If you liked this, definitely read Jane Eyre.

February 2nd, 2013
Sorry that it has taken me so long to get onto reading this…. you see, it is rather a long story…
I didn’t have the cash to buy any new books and asked my mum if she wanted to read ‘The Casual Vacancy’ and if so, would she please buy it so that I could read it too?Polite, I think.Anyway, she buys it…
AND GIVES IT TO MY SISTER. Who has since devoured it, lost the dust cover and given it to her boyfriend.
So I bought my own copy.
And it was worth it. This story could not be much more different than the Harry Potter Series, (although you get glimpses of modern British life in scenes with Dudley Dursley). This story is about small town England, about the comings and goings of the members of the town, the town council and a block of ‘project housing’ nearby.  It is about poverty and addiction and pointing the finger… who is to blame for all the tragedies that happen daily? 
It took me awhile to come to grips with the abundance of characters but by half way through I was almost addicted to this book as I was to Harry and Pals. A great read. 

Sorry that it has taken me so long to get onto reading this…. you see, it is rather a long story…

I didn’t have the cash to buy any new books and asked my mum if she wanted to read ‘The Casual Vacancy’ and if so, would she please buy it so that I could read it too?
Polite, I think.
Anyway, she buys it…

AND GIVES IT TO MY SISTER. Who has since devoured it, lost the dust cover and given it to her boyfriend.

So I bought my own copy.

And it was worth it. This story could not be much more different than the Harry Potter Series, (although you get glimpses of modern British life in scenes with Dudley Dursley). This story is about small town England, about the comings and goings of the members of the town, the town council and a block of ‘project housing’ nearby.  

It is about poverty and addiction and pointing the finger… who is to blame for all the tragedies that happen daily? 

It took me awhile to come to grips with the abundance of characters but by half way through I was almost addicted to this book as I was to Harry and Pals. A great read. 

January 24th, 2013
Sometimes I do this naughty thing where I read the last few pages of the book when I am only half way through. I definitely shouldn’t have done that here… definitely not.
A captivatingly written novel (as you can see… see how long it took me to read it!) of a brother and sister who share an unusually intimate relationship. Toby is the brother, Elenor the sister. Toby is sent off to fight in WW1 and dies and Elenor cannot be at peace until she finds out how he died.
This book portrayed the visceral, horrible reality of fighting at the front lines of a World War more than any other book I have read. And I have read a lot which concern WW1 and 2. I felt the damp, the heat, I smelt the smells and imagined myself cramped in cattle trucks or crouched in a trench. This is a book to help you never forget.
I want to read more of Pat Barkers work, I am intrigued.
Other books set during/ after the world wars which you may like reading:Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - by Louis de Bernieres (get past the first third and you’re away flying)A Pale View of the Hills - by Kazuo IshiguroCatch 22 - by Joseph HellerShip of Brides - by Jojo MoyesComing Home - by Rosamund PilcherThe Book Thief - by Markus Zusak 

Sometimes I do this naughty thing where I read the last few pages of the book when I am only half way through. I definitely shouldn’t have done that here… definitely not.

A captivatingly written novel (as you can see… see how long it took me to read it!) of a brother and sister who share an unusually intimate relationship. Toby is the brother, Elenor the sister. Toby is sent off to fight in WW1 and dies and Elenor cannot be at peace until she finds out how he died.

This book portrayed the visceral, horrible reality of fighting at the front lines of a World War more than any other book I have read. And I have read a lot which concern WW1 and 2. I felt the damp, the heat, I smelt the smells and imagined myself cramped in cattle trucks or crouched in a trench. This is a book to help you never forget.

I want to read more of Pat Barkers work, I am intrigued.

Other books set during/ after the world wars which you may like reading:
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - by Louis de Bernieres (get past the first third and you’re away flying)
A Pale View of the Hills - by Kazuo Ishiguro
Catch 22 - by Joseph Heller
Ship of Brides - by Jojo Moyes
Coming Home - by Rosamund Pilcher
The Book Thief - by Markus Zusak
 

January 19th, 2013
A small piece of the world in a novel. This is a tale of brotherhood, medicine, tradgedy, estrangement, ‘a country in turmoil’ and love. Its span reaches from Ethiopia to India to America and comes with a large cast of intricate characters.
Two siamese twin brothers, separated at birth are thrown apart through tragic circumstances and brought together through similarly tragic ones. This personal story sits within the larger stories of military coups in Ethopia and the state of the medical systems in Africa and America. Beware of graphic surgical scenes - made me feel a tad queezy.
What would be a real bonus to some but was a deterrent for me was that this book reads more like a biography than the fictional novel that it is. I don’t do well with non-fiction. It is the kind of book to buy for someone who usually reads memoirs or autobiographies.
Other books you may like:'White Swans' - Jung Chang'Angela's Ashes' - Frank McCourt'The Heavenly Man' - Brother Yun'Ines of My Soul' - Isabel Allende 

A small piece of the world in a novel. This is a tale of brotherhood, medicine, tradgedy, estrangement, ‘a country in turmoil’ and love. Its span reaches from Ethiopia to India to America and comes with a large cast of intricate characters.

Two siamese twin brothers, separated at birth are thrown apart through tragic circumstances and brought together through similarly tragic ones. This personal story sits within the larger stories of military coups in Ethopia and the state of the medical systems in Africa and America. Beware of graphic surgical scenes - made me feel a tad queezy.

What would be a real bonus to some but was a deterrent for me was that this book reads more like a biography than the fictional novel that it is. I don’t do well with non-fiction. It is the kind of book to buy for someone who usually reads memoirs or autobiographies.

Other books you may like:
'White Swans' - Jung Chang
'Angela's Ashes' - Frank McCourt
'The Heavenly Man' - Brother Yun
'Ines of My Soul' - Isabel Allende