Thursday, December 15, 2011

Decision time... and Book #62: Fly Away Home

It's always a challenge to write a review long after reading a book and as I sit here frantically trying to recall what on earth Book #62 of the year was, and what it was about, I once again wish my powers of procrastination weren't so, well... powerful!

But a quick check on Amazon (where would we be without Amazon) and the story of Fly Away Home, by Jennifer Weiner is slowly coming back to me... but only just.

I'd read my first Jennifer Weiner novel, Good In Bed, earlier this year and to be honest was slightly disappointed with it (review here. Fortunately I had a glass of wine to sob into while getting through it!). I was expecting a new Jill Mansell (my favourite chicklit author of all time) or a Sophie Kinsella, but not to be. However, thanks to A Few More Pages' 2nds challenge, I decided to give her another go and she redeemed herself.... to a certain extent. 

Only problem is, I read Fly Away Home back in the summer and I can't for the life of me remember what it was all about. Obviously not one that left a lasting impression!

The plot goes something like this: regular family, husband in politics, has an affair, wife finds out and leaves him. Meanwhile, two grown daughters, each battling their own inner - and outer - demons suddenly come to realise what their mother is going through. Everything comes together in the end - just how, I can't remember!

So, decision time. Is it third time lucky for Jennifer Weiner and I, or do I cut my losses and allow other Jennifer fans to continue to enjoy her books while me and Jill pick up where we left off?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Book #61: The Little Giant of Aberdeen County

I love it when you get on a roll and read one great book after another. The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, by Tiffany Baker was the second one in a row and I was caught between wanting to read it as quickly as possible to see what happens, and trying to make it last to savour this lovely, sweet, yet sorrowful story.

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County
(I also loved having it on the bedside table - who wouldn't with a cover like that!)

The Little Giant's real name is Truly. She's the younger sister of Serena-Jane - the beauty of the family, and the youngest daughter to a father who becomes widowed upon Truly's birth. It seems life is difficult right from the start for Truly as her father, and indeed the community, aren't quite sure what to do with this 'little giant'.

Yet Truly has a big heart and while she may not have a big personality, she's kind, gentle and loving to those around her. However, not all deserve it. As she forms special bonds and relationships with the other outcasts of the village, then takes on the responsibility of bringing up her only nephew, Truly comes across a secret power that she never knew she had.

The story is a slightly unusual one, but it draws you in and Truly really is a beautiful character you want the best to happen to. She's captivating, enchanting and loveable all in one and deserves to be truly happy as a result!

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading

To play along, just answer the following three questions: 
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading? 
• What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading? 
I'm halfway through La's Orchestra Saves the World, by Alexander McCall Smith. I haven't read one of his books in ages and have to say I've been missing them. This one is proving to be a great read so far. I can see another late night on the horizon!

What did you recently finish reading?
I've had a spate of great books recently and managed to get through some of the best of the year I think. Most recently was The Girl in the Red Coat, by Roma Ligocka, a memoir about her time as a young girl growing up in World War ll Poland. Absolutely fascinating! I now have very itchy feet!

What do you think you'll read next?
That age-old classic, Animal Farm, by George Orwell is sitting on my bedside at the moment, but so too is a half finished Harry Potter so it may well depend on the mood I am in!

Book #60: When God Was A Rabbit

With a title as unusual as this, it was no wonder that Sarah Winman's debut novel caught my eye earlier this year. I was mooching around the bookstore (as one does!) and was instantly drawn to the cover. "What on earth could this book possibly be about?" I wondered.

It has an absolutely beautiful cover design, this intriguing title - yet neither really provide any clue as to what this story contains. A quick skim of the blurb and I find out it's the tale of a brother and a sister. Perfect - that's what my family consisted of.

As the story unfolds, there's a definite relationship between the two characters - an inquisitive and curious younger sister and a protective older brother. Yet they don't come across as close. That said, there's certainly a great deal of love between the two. We're introduced to both characters as children but then the story skips ahead in time to New York and 9/11.

Although various events occur throughout the story, none of these are written about in great detail and nor do they have to be. It's not the events of the story that shape these two, but rather their sibling relationship and all that it entails.

I recently read a magazine article which listed the top 100 books of 2011. Shamefully I hadn't even read a half of them, but When God Was A Rabbit featured and I was able to put a tick beside it. As the year ends, this book still stands out as one of my favourite reads of the year. It's gentle, unassuming and a novel so different from any I've read before.

I always love finding a book like this and even better when it's an author's first one. That certainly bodes well for 2012!

Monday, December 12, 2011

A bookworm's best Christmas present

Hhhmmm, yes, well suffice it to say I've neglected this blog somewhat during the second half of the year. And despite travel, moving, more travel and settling into a new home, I've no excuse really - particularly in this day and age of communication.

Smart Women Read Between the Lines: A Reader's JournalBut I am still determined to read 111 books in 2011 and although time is now of the essence, I have a feeling I may just make it. It certainly helps that the chilly Northern Hemisphere temperatures have arrived and that the best place to be at the moment is inside, curled up on the couch with a steaming hot chocolate and a good book!

And I've read some fabulous books of late - all of which are deserving of a review, so in addition to reading the final 21 books needed of my challenge (in less than 21 days!!) I'm going to make a concerted effort to dedicate time to the blog as well.

First of all though I wanted to share this awesome Christmas present for all booklovers and bookworms. Someone who knows me too well gave this to me earlier in the year and I love it!

There are pages for books read and reviewed, novel ideas, books to read and a place for those all important lists we could do without!

You can get your own copy here at Amazon, or even cheaper, here at Barnes & Noble.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

MIA... and I haven't had my nose in a book either!

Oh dear - I have been well and truly missing in action. The Book Gatherer has totally neglected all things books these past few weeks - and although I want to blame a weekend in Las Vegas 'baby' (I can't help but put baby after Las Vegas every time I either write or say it - somebody stop me quick!), visitors, moving, work, and the last days of summer, I'm going to have to be honest and put it down to procrastination, poor time management, and a lack of self discipline. Sad but true!

What's worse, is that I haven't even had my nose in a book! I'm still currently reading Harry Potter number 3, although I also have The Writing on my Forehead by Nafisa Haji on the go as well - enjoying the latter a little more at this stage, but I'm getting really rather confused with all the characters! So as of today - no make that now! - the Book Gatherer is back on track.

She's just managed to send an article off before deadline, and while she may have boxes to pack and dinner to cook, she's going to be totally and utterly indulgent and simply curl up with a book instead! Should have done that a long time ago.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
--Grab your current read
--Open to a random page
--share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
Be sure NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
--Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

"I wanted to tell the housekeeper that, in my opinion, this was the best tart I had ever tasted, and that I knew a thing or two about apple tarts on account of having eaten in Maidy Hogan's house. But I didn't dare."
p43, Ellis Island, by Kate Kerrigan

Friday, September 2, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger HopBook Blogger Hop is hosted by Jen at Crazy-For-Books.

This week's question is:
What are you most looking forward to this fall/autumn season?

Autumn is my favourite season, whichever hemisphere I'm in, although the Northern Hemisphere does do the seasons better. I love that beautiful rusty, orange of the leaves and the crunch of them under foot on the pavements.

But this autumn I'm also looking forward to an abundance of travel. The suitcase hasn't been used since the beginning of the year so first up is a weekend in Vegas, followed by a trip to London, a week in Jordan, a move to Vancouver then a trip home to New Zealand - all before Christmas!

And all that time in airports and on aeroplanes means lots of reading time - top of the list is The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly.

Book Beginnings...on a Friday

A little bit of fun on a Friday, this weekly meme is hosted by A Few More Pages
I'll share the first line (or two) of the book I'm currently reading (including the title and author) and let you know what my first impressions are - good or bad!

"Belle Svetlana surveyed her nude image in a full-length mirror, readying herself for a thirty-thousand-dollar-an-hour sexual encounter with the fifteen-year-old son of an Arab oil tycoon."
p1, Poor Little Bitch Girl, by Jackie Collins

Wow, I had forgotten just how direct Jackie Collins is in her writing!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Theme Thursday

Theme ThursdaysTheme Thursdays is a fun weekly event, hosted byReading Between Pagesthat will be open from one Thursday to the next. Anyone can participate in it. The rules are simple:

  • A theme will be posted each week (on Thursday’s)
  • Select a conversation/snippet/sentence from the current book you are reading
  • Mention the author and the title of the book along with your post
  • It is important that the theme is conveyed in the sentence (you don’t necessarily need to have the word)

This week's theme is SCHOOL (or anything related)

"Have I told you what happened to my cousin Laila? When she and her brother were fighting, pushing and pulling each other, over a pencil? Her brother poked her in the eye with that cursed pencil."
p5, The Writing on my Forehead, by Nafisa Haji

I can't say I envy teachers!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading

To play along, just answer the following three questions: 
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading? 
• What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading? I've been reading Imagined London, by Anna Quindlen but have literally just finished it, so technically I'm not reading anything at the moment. 
However, I'm still savouring this incredible book of literary London  so I figure that counts!

What did you recently finish reading? I finally finished Friday Nights by Joanna Trollope and did not enjoy it one bit. I have another one of her books on my TBR pile but it may be a while before I pick that one up. 
What do you think you’ll read next? I'm all of a sudden needing a London fix so I'm tempted to pick up Brick Lane, by Monica Ali. If not, then it might be The Writing on my Forehead by Nafisa Haji

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Top 10 Tuesdays

Books on my TBR list this fall

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week, they post a different topic and you get to create your own top 10 list! This week, the topic is: 

Top ten books I can't wait to curl up with this fall

1. The Wild Rose, by Jennifer Donnelly
I can't wait to get stuck into this one but I'm also trying to save it as well. I need to find a week before the end of the year when I can curl up and read these three books - I figure it's an excuse to go back and reread The Tea Rose and The Winter Rose again - without any interruption whatsoever!

2. The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette, by Carolly Erickson
She's such a fascinating woman is Marie Antoinette but I simply don't know enough about her. This year I've stumbled across Carolly Erickson's historical entertainment about various women in history so I think this is a perfect place to find out more about Marie Antoinette!

3. Harry Potter numbers 3, 4, 5, 6, 7... are there any more?!
I'm hooked on the magic of this little wizard. And I don't know why it's taken me so long to pick them up. Although I have come across others who have yet to read them so I don't feel too bad. However, I can't wait to read the rest in the series!

4. White Teeth, by Zadie Smith
I read On Beauty at the very beginning of the year and I'm determined to read another Zadie Smith by the end. If it's not White Teeth it will be The Autograph Man.

5. In a Far Country, by Linda Holeman
I absolutely loved The Saffron Gate by Linda Holeman. It was the first of her books that I'd ever read so am very excited to read more. Even better, I found two on my bookshelf by her that I never even knew I had!

6. Wanderlust: A history of walking, by Rebecca Solnit
I'm not quite sure what to expect of this one, but it's been recommended to me by a friend who has great taste in books so it can only be good!

7. Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe
I have neglected the classics so this fall I really have no excuse!

8. Secret Daughter, by Shilpi Gowda
The cover alone captures me but I've also heard great things about this book since joining the blogging world this year so it's definitely on my TBR pile!

9. The Midwife's Confession, by Diane Chamberlain
It's funny how things always happen at once. I'd seen a few bloggie mentions of this one and then a friend told me she'd been reading Diane Chamberlain's books lately and really enjoyed them so it must be meant to be!

10. Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins 
I've heard such great things I really want to know what it's all about! I feel I'm missing out - but not for much longer!

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
--Grab your current read
--Open to a random page
--share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
Be sure NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
--Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

"There are eight daily papers, many more than any American city has - even if several seem devoted more to photographs of women's breasts and coverage of the unsavory sexual pasts of contestants in the television show "Big Brother" - and many of them cover the book business as though it were a spectator sport."
p29, Imagined London, by Anna Quindlen

Monday, August 29, 2011

Book #59: Quentins... without an apostrophe!

Don't hang me! It's Quentins without an apostrophe! And although this little - but oh so important - grammatical symbol gets the better of me more than I would like to think, even I know that Quentins should have an apostrophe. The reason it doesn't is explained in the book, but I don't think it was explanation enough to justify it somehow!

But you know how when you see something you haven't noticed before, you all of a sudden see it everywhere?! Well, there's a shop in town that has just recently opened called "DavidsTea" - without the apostrophe! I've yet to step inside but before I ask for tea I'm going to ask for an apostrophe!

This blog entry wasn't meant to be a grammatical rant - instead, it's about Quentins, by Maeve Binchy. I was in need of a quick, easy read - to let the mind wander and to add another book to the 111 for the year. At the rate this year is disappearing on me, I'm going to be hard pushed to meet my target I think. Fortunately, I have a few holidays up my sleeve!

Needless to say, Quentins didn't disappoint. It's a lighthearted read about somewhat fluffy, warm characters. None of whom I can remember by name - apart from Quentin that is. But then that's the thing with Maeve Binchy's books - they never really seem to have a lasting effect. Great for a quick escape, but also great for bringing home the fact that a great read really is one that leaves a lasting impression.

That said, I knew what I was getting myself in for by turning through the pages of Quentins - which by the way is a cafe and of course central to the characters in the book. They all have a link to the place - both good and bad, and Binchy has cleverly intertwined them all together. However, I still think there are a few other Maeve Binchy books out there that are probably one up on this one.

Which brings me to my next query... at what stage do publishers simply publish any book by a top selling author. It seems that some authors out there all of a sudden lower their standards to get another publication to the bestsellers list? But perhaps that's a rant for another day...

Monday Musings

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading 
This week’s musing is… a book meme!
What was the last book you…
borrowed from the library?
I actually have a whole pile of library books at the moment but the library book I borrowed that I'm reading at the moment is Friday Nights by Joanna Trollope. 75 pages to go and counting!

 Hhmmmm.... I just bought 3 copies of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, by Tiffany Baker. They were too good to resist at just $2 each - and hardcover at that. But they were gifts... does that count?
The last book I bought for myself was... actually I think it was the same (woops - blonde moment!)

cried over?
Goodbye Sarajevo,  by Atka Reid and Hana Schofield - it's the story of two sisters in the Bosnian War of the 1990s and the lives during and after this horrific period. Incredible! My best read of the year so far.  

disliked and couldn’t finish?
The one I'm reading at the moment actually - Friday Nights by Joanna Trollope, but I'm determined not to let it beat me!

read & loved?
I've had a good run of books I've loved this year, but perhaps one that comes to mind is The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Now for the movie!

got for review? (or: got in the mail?)
 The last book I got in the mail was actually a Lonely Planet Guide to Jordan - where I'll be in just 8 weeks time! I can't wait!

gave to someone else?
The Tea Rose and The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly - I've been sending them to everyone!

stayed up too late reading?
Um... all of them?! But The Dakota Born Trilogy, by Debbie Macomber was very tough to put down.

PS: Does anyone know why my text is highlighted in white?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Beginnings...on a Friday

A little bit of fun on a Friday, this weekly meme is hosted by A Few More Pages
I'll share the first line (or two) of the book I'm currently reading (including the title and author) and let you know what my first impressions are - good or bad!

"Not for the first time, an argument had broken out over breakfast at number four, Privet Drive."

For the diehard fans you won't need another sentence I'm sure!
But for those a little like me who have yet to really get caught up in the magic... here's an extra sentence:

"Mr Vernon Dursley had been woken in the early hours of the morning by a loud, hooting noise from his nephew Harry's room."

Yep, you guessed it, Harry Potter #2 - this weekend I'm getting stuck into Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - my first time ever! And after reading these first two sentences... I can't wait!

Roll on the weekend

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I finally make Harry's acquaintance... book #58: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

It's taken a while but Harry and I have finally met... Harry Potter that is! He's been sitting on my bookshelf for years, I've been told to read him by friends - both old and young - and I finally got around to delving into the world of magic.

And magical it was. I can see why Harry, Ron and Hermione have become such loved characters - the world of Harry Potter, magic and Hogwarts is utterly enthralling. Even those Muggles, the Dursley's are hard to resist in their own right. 

While reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone I was transported to another world - a magical world of wizardy, hocus pocus spells, broomsticks and witches' hats - not to mention dragons, three-headed dogs and Quidditch!

But I think you have to be in the right mindset to really enjoy Harry Potter. I'd tried to pick him up on a number of occasions but we just hadn't clicked - however, I'm off camping at the beach on an island this weekend and I think I may just take Harry along with me. Book #2 here I come!

It has been wonderful to make your acquaintance Harry!

Thursday Tea

Thursday Tea is a little meme hosted at BirdBrain[ed] Book Blog

The Book: Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier - it's great! Set in London in the 1700s, it's centred around poet, artist and printer, William Blake - but his character is still being developed. At the moment, the characters that take centre stage are Jem & Maggie. He's a country boy moved to the city with his family for work opportunities; she's a street rogue who's showing him the sights!

The Tea: I've been looking for something very English for this one and came across orange pekoe tea bags. (I think that's just a flash name for a black tea bag - but there does seem to be a hint of something orange in there, unless I'm just imagining it). But on the box it says "A truly British Tea since 1903".

Do they go together: Well, 1903, may be a long way from 1793 but I still think they fit perfectly.