Thursday, 19 June 2008

BTT - Flavor




Think about your favorite authors, your favorite books . . . what is it about them that makes you love them above all the other authors you’ve read? The stories? The characters? The way they appear to relish the taste of words on the tongue? The way they’re unafraid to show the nitty-gritty of life? How they sweep you off to a new, distant place? What is it about those books and authors that makes them resonate with you in ways that other, perfectly good books and authors do not?

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

A great question and a hard question. Instead of looking at my all times favourite list I thought I'd compare three books that I've read this year and marked as favourites on Goodreads to see if there are any similarities.

Master Pip - Lloyd Jones

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox - Maggie O'Farrell

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau - Banks - E Lockhart


On the face of it they are pretty different, but at the core they all contain the vital elements that make me love a book: strong characters who are trying to find out about themselves and the world, a great story line, excellent use of words, meaning wonderful quotes about life and love and everything else.

Then there's that special spark which I can't quite put my finger on. There was something about the characters in these books that spoke to me even though their lives were so very different from mine. That magic that some authors have just to grab you at the first word and not let go. It's a gift and a great one.

(if you've read nay of these books let me know what you thought in the comments or a link to your review - thanks.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Mister Pip

Mister Pip - Lloyd Jones


Rating 5/5

This book was mentioned on Books on the Nightstand's podcast, if you haven't listened yet you should. It's really good.

It's set on a tropical Island in the midst of a civil war. Mr Watts the only white person on the island takes over the job of teacher. Great Expectations is the only book he has to share with his class. Through hearing the story the narrator, a young girl named Matilda, finds out about herself and the power of words.

It's a wonderful, clever, thought provoking book. There are horrifying moments but the final message, about the power of words, books and people to transform and save us, is uplifting.

Here are some favourite quotes;

"By the time Mr Watts reached the end of chapter one I felt like I had been spoken to by this boy Pip. This boy who I couldn't see to touch but knew by ear. I had found a new friend.

The surprising thing is where I found him . . . in a book. No one had told us kids to look there for a friend. or that you could slip inside the skin of another. or travel to another place"

Isn't that a great quote? Doesn't it exactly caprture what it feels like to read a book you love?

"As we progressed through the book something happened to me. At some point I felt myself enter the story. I hadn't been assigned a part - nothing like that; I wasn't identifiable on the page, but I was there, I was definitely there. I knew that orphaned white kid and that small, fragile place he squeezed into between his awful sister and lovable Joe Gargary because the same space existed between Mr Watts and my Mum."

It's wonderful when a book speaks to you. When you can see your situation reflected in the pages. Though expressed more clearly and gracefully.


"The sound of my name took me to a place deep inside my head. I already knew that words could take you into a new world, but I didn't know that on the strength of one word spoken for my ears only I would find myself in a room that no one else knew about."

I really loved this book. If you've read it leave a link below I'd love to read your review.



Sunday, 15 June 2008

Sunday Salon - Shocks and Links

I'm nearing the end of Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones. I have loved this book so much but something just happened, something so shocking and stomach churning, I had to take a break. I don't know why but I am still amazed by the power words and stories have to upset me. I'm hoping there will be an uplifting resolution, if not I'll have to read a happy book next.

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The Host, Stephanie Meyer's latest arrived on Friday from Amazon. I ordered it because it is Becky's book club read for July but I don't know if I can keep my hands off it. It's siren call is getting stronger and stronger, I might have to hide it away in a draw.

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Have you seen What's your story? on the Waterstone's site. They asked authors and the public to write their stories on a postcard. I loved the J K Rowling Harry Potter presequel, always fun to visit old friends. Neil Gaiman's was good too, amausing and clever. My favourite is Lauren Child's I adore her Charlie and Lola books and her style of writing.

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Finally I thought this was an interesting post about book trailers. I quite liked the trailer for Run but I'd rather choose my books by the cover and the title and recommendations of course. I do love soundtracks to books though. Many authors seem to be putting up soundtracks to their books on their blogs. Often when I hear a song it reminds me of a book "Look after you" by The Fray makes me think of Twilight and "Summer Skin" by Death Cub for Cutie brings to mind Hideous Kinky. It's interesting to hear what the authors connect to their books.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

WG 7 - The Photo Post



Weekly Geeks is all about Photos, so here we are.


Next week I will be here




Drinking one of these



Reading these




I CANNOT wait.

Weekly Geekers I am loving this week are

Alessandra at Out of the Blue - love that rainbow library she found to share!

and

Nymeth at Things mean lot - how comfy does that cat look ?

The Thirteeth Tale

The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield

Rating 2/5

The Thirteenth Tale is the story of two women biographer and book worm Margaret Lea and world famous, reclusive author Vida Winter. Vida hires Margaret to write her official biography, an event the world has been waiting for as Vida is incredible secretive about her past, telling different tales to a variety of interviews. As her story unravels we learn about Angelfield the house she grew up in, Charlie and Isabelle and their strange and dangerous relationship, the wild twins Adeline and Emmeline, the Missus and the gardener John-the-dig. Margaret's own story is interwoven into Vida's memories.

It sounds the kind of story I should have loved but I just didn't and I know I am in a minority. I found the plot quite dull and the characters on the whole didn't capture my attention, although I would have liked to have known more about Isabelle. The main problem was the lack of a strong narrative voice and no character to really connect to and care about.


Both women are reserved, withdrawn characters who live more through books then in the real world but it was told in the first person so it felt strange for the main character to be so subdued. It reminded me of the House at Riverton but where as I felt a connection to Grace I felt none to Margaret.

There were some lovely quotes about books in it though. They jumped off the page at me and captured exactly how it feels to love reading, like this one;

"Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes - characters even - caught in the fibres of your clothes, and when you open the new book they are still with you."

The writing kept me going till the end but I could have done with less twist and more emotion.

BTT - Clubbing



A combo of two suggestions by: Heidi and by litlove

Have you ever been a member of a book club? How did your group choose (or, if you haven’t been, what do you think is the best way to choose) the next book and who would lead discussion?

Do you feel more or less likely to appreciate books if you are obliged to read them for book groups rather than choosing them of your own free will? Does knowing they are going to be read as part of a group affect the reading experience?


Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

I just recently joined a book group since moving to DC, it is made up of a group of other ex-pat Brits and we try to choose American authors, a mix of old and new. We make suggestions at the end of the session and then vote on the next book. If your suggestion gets chosen you lead the next discussion. It's very democratic!

It's made me read some books I would never have chosen on my own. It means leaving my comfort zone, which is a good thing.

I also took part in Becky's last online bookclub. Which was great as Becky asks really good questions that make you think about what you read.

Reading for a book club effects my reading only in that I note down things that particularly strike me or phrases I like. It's interesting to hear other people's opinions and what they noticed. I do always feel upset if someone hates a book I loved; it's like hearing they hate a good friend.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

WG 5 - Story Telling

I've been super busy, stressed and not reading blogs so I was going to skip straight to this No 7 of Weekly Geeks but I just had to answer this question!

This week’s theme was suggested by Renay. She says, “I thought it would be cool to ask people to talk about other forms of story-telling.”

Good television is story telling at it's best. There are some truly amazing shows with wonderful characterisation and fabulous story arcs that keep you hooked and dying for the next episode. Lost, House, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Heroes, Life on Mars and my personal favourite Battlestar Galactica.

I've heard people dismiss BG as a boys programme about space battles. No, no, no! It is so much more than that.

The first series had the human race all but wiped out, fleeing from the cylons. It gave us clear people to identify with and an enemy to hate. Then it turned everything upside down and raised questions about what it means to be human. Nothing is black and white in BG and everyone is flawed.

Particular Giaus Baltar who is one of my all time favourite characters. He is cowardly, manipulative, self centred and weak but brilliant and compelling and his relationship with Six is wonderful.

Relationships are something that BG handles incredibly well. There are so many confused and fractured and muddled up relationships between friends, lovers, fathers and sons and comrades.

It really is an excellent show and is story telling at it's best. It puts it's damaged, searching characters through all kinds of hell and lets us see what they're made of. Go netflick it for the summer holidays you won't be disappointed.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Page 123

I have been terrible at posting lately. Due to many external factors I just haven't had the time but Valentina tagged me for a nice easy meme so here it is. Hopefully there will be some reviews next week!


Here it goes:
1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

The book is Chasing Harry Winston by Lauren Weisberger. I bought it as an emergency book at the airport because I enjoyed the Devil wears Prada. It's about three friends living in new York. It is okay and a nice easy read, which is what I need at the moment.

Page 123
Leigh didn't bother looking at her planner or the calendar she kept open on her computer screen. What did it matter? Henry had made it clear enough, if it worked for Jesse, it worked for her. She took a deep breath and bit down on her thumb hard enough to leave a tooth mark.

I won't tag anyone because I have seen this meme around a lot but if you haven't done it and would like to consider yourself tagged.