Friday, March 9, 2012

I'm in need of a new challenge

2012 came about pretty quickly; now we're fast approaching the first quarter mark and I'm still trying to get my year sorted! With each 12 month period disappearing faster than before I think we need to introduce a "sort your sh*t out" month in between so I can at least update my diary, register everyone's birthdays for the year ahead, plan holidays and of course, suss out the reading challenges for the year ahead.

As you'll see, I'm a bit behind on that last resolution. My reading challenges are still of 2011 vintage and dare I say it most of them are sadly incomplete. The planning of holidays on the other hand has been sorted (London last month, Tokyo this month) so at least I have set aside time too read.

But I'm now on the search for 2012 challenges. And given that most of you will already have started a few I wonder if I could be so cheeky as to ask for some recommendations. Have you signed up to a fabulous challenge for 2012 that is still accepting new members? Or do you have a challenging your hosting that I could join. I'm open to anything and everything... so put your challenge forward!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Book Review: Bride of New France

It's a National Bestseller, described as the best piece of historical fiction one reviewer has read in a long time while another describes it as a moody, beautiful piece of historical fiction.

But I'm really sorry, I just didn't enjoy Bride of New France, by Suzanne Desrochers. It was painful. I felt totally removed throughout the entire 288 pages and when I read an historical novel I want to be drawn in, travelling with the characters, living and breathing the experiences along with them, crying when they're upset, struggling or heartbroken and I didn't feel a thing for this novel at all.

I tried. I really did try and I so wanted to enjoy it, but more often than not I'd find myself reading four or five pages and not taking a word in!

It was a first novel, and it was written by an academic researcher, not a writer, which the author readily admits. As such the descriptions were incredibly vivid. Obviously a result of meticulous research, which has been commented on: "A meticulously researched, lyrical tale... Bride of New France succeeds in bringing history to life" (National Post) but I just wanted more feeling. I wanted the main character Laure to really come into her own.

From the back cover
"Laure Beausejour has grown up in a dormitory in Paris surrounded by prostitutes, the insane, and other forgotten woman. Despite numerous hardships, she dreams of using her needlework skills to beome a seamstress and one day marry a nobleman. But in 1669. Laure's dreams are cruelly dashed when she is sent across the Atlantic to New France as a fill du roi. Powerful and haunting, Bride of New France, is a remarkable tale of a French girl and her struggle to survive in a brutal place and time."

Laure had spark - after all, she survives and given the hardship of the time, only those with incredible inner strength and determination would do so - but I never felt as if her character was really allowed to shine through. It was almost as if the author was too concerned about getting the historical facts correct to give her full attention to her main character.

However, on the plus side, it was a novel like none I had read before - which is always a welcome change. And it certainly opened my eyes to a period of history that I hadn't encountered before. It has also piqued my interest to find out more about this period of Canadian history which isn't a bad thing. And I genuinely admire any new author who has the ability to put pen to paper and craft a novel from such extensive research.

Unfortunately, this just wasn't the book for me. I'd still give it 3 out of 5 stars but it was certainly hard work! 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

What makes a good bookclub?

I joined a bookclub this week. Despite being a book gatherer, avid reader and a regular bookshop customer, I've never once belonged to a bookclub. And to be honest I'm not actually all that familiar with "bookclub protocol".

I began looking for a bookclub to join at the beginning of the year, but that was a challenge in itself! It seems bookclub membership is very hard to come by! Why is that I wonder? One reply told me they didn't have any places available - is there a limit to the number of members a bookclub can have?

That's not to say the bookclub meeting I attended this week wasn't worth the wait. Although discussion about the book was a little on the subdued side - none of us really took a liking to it! - it was a pleasant hour spent discussing, constructively criticising and musing about the story within.

However it's got me thinking and wondering what are the elements you need to make a good bookclub? Is it the people? The number of members? The choice of literature? The venue? The coffee?

So, fellow book loving bloggers, whether you're a member of a bookclub or not, what would you say makes a good bookclub (and what doesn't!)?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

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 currently have bookmarks in books all over the place but the one I picked up last night (and am just about to pick up again this morning) is Beyond the Sunset, by Anna Jacobs. It's the second book in a trilogy about four English sisters who emigrate to Australia in the 1860s.

What did you recently finish reading?
I spent yesterday afternoon curled up reading Bride of New France, by Suzanne Desroches (it's handy working from home ;) It wasn't quite as good as I'd hoped, but I felt somewhat comforted by the fact that others at bookclub last night were a little disappointed in it as well. As one member said, "great story, not great writing!

What do you think you'll read next?
 Possibly, Destiny's Path, by Anna Jacobs which is the third book in the trilogy but I've also got The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick deWitt that is awaiting my attention and I don't think I can resist that cover any longer. It intrigues me!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Step into the magic of this bookstore!

Check out this little bookstore in Toronto. I think this just goes to show that nothing can beat the magic of a book!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011... well that was a challenge

Thank you to my wonderful and ever so talented mother-in-law for this beautiful doodle.

Reading 111 books was a challenge - and one that beat me! Only 96 this year. Might have to come back stronger in 2012! Congratulations to all the other bookworms for their reading challenges in 2011!