Archive | February, 2013

Teaser Tuesday

26 Feb

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

Rules
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL 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 & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser

Book: I’m still reading The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey. It’s taking me forever. I’m now up to page 401 whereas with last week’s teaser I was up to page 208. My teaser is from page 425. 

‘I put my arms around him and held him tight, unhappy for him and for myself and for all that had happened and knowing no words to bridge the gap between us. Nothing as simple as a few well-chosen words of condolence; I had nothing to say to him’

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle - Monique Roffey

-H-

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#17 Stasiland – Anna Funder

21 Feb
Stasiland - Anna Funder

Stasiland – Anna Funder

Goodreads rating: 4.14/5 (2,000+ ratings)

My rating: 7.5/10

First Published: December 5th, 2003 by Text Publishing

Genre: Non-Fiction, History

Stasiland is about people who resisted the surveillance state of East Germany, and about others who worked for the Stasi – the secret police of the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

Stasiland is written by Australian woman Anna Funder, who lived in Berlin in the late 90s and interviewed a variety of people from both sides of the GDR regime. She used classified ads to get in touch with former members of the Stasi, who she interviewed extensively. People such as those who helped to build and plan the erection of The Berlin Wall, a television presenter and host who was famous during the GDR regime, and a resistor who could have started WWIII!

I didn’t realise when I started this that it was not a fictional novel. I went into it thinking it was a novel about someone living in that time, but then shortly realised that it wasn’t!

I really enjoyed this book. It was really easy to digest and understand, even though I didn’t fully understand to begin with what the situation was after WWII in Germany. there was a map at the beginning of the book of both West & East Germany, and a smaller one of Berlin and the wall – this really helped me in reading and understanding this book.

I found that the theme of Stasiland reflected George Orwell’s 1984 which is scary! I can’t imagine living in a place that is so highly regulated. I know these places exist, but it sounds terrible!

I highly recommend this book. It’s short, interesting, captures attention quickly, and best of all, is TRUE!

Bits & pieces

  • Winner of the BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize
  • Stasiland is being developed for the stage by The National Theatre in London.

Past reviews

‘Anna Funder explores, in the most humane and sensitive way, lives blighted by the East German Stasi. She allows ex-Stasi operatives an equal chance to reflect on their achievements, and finds—to her dismay and ours—that they have learned nothing.’
— J. M. Coetzee

‘Your book STASILAND: TRUE STORIES FROM BEHIND THE BERLIN WALL struck me like no other in the last five years. It is fascinating, entertaining, hilarious, horrifying and very important.’
– Tom Hanks

‘Informed judgements and historical background are communicated with deceptive ease. Targeted at a broad audience, Stasiland is compelling reading.’
– 
Sydney Morning Herald

-H-

Teaser Tuesday

19 Feb

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

Rules
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL 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 & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser

Book: I’m currently reading The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey. I’m up to page 208, and my teaser is from page 338. You might think that the below is a spoiler, however the fact that George sleeps with other women is revealed near the beginning of the book

‘I came to understand that George slept with other women. He did so in the name of modernity, of this new age’s allowances and celebration of promiscuity, but most of all because of the feast that was on offer to him.’

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle - Monique Roffey

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle – Monique Roffey

-H-

 

#16 Lone Wolf – Jodi Picoult

17 Feb
Lone Wolf - Jodi Picoult

Lone Wolf – Jodi Picoult

Goodreads rating: 3.61/5 (22,100+ ratings)

My rating: 6/10

Why it’s on the list: I have read all Jodi Picoult’s books except for her latest, and Songs of the Humpback Whale. I went through a phase of reading all her books so of course I have to finish all of them!

First Published: February 28th, 2012 by Atria Books

Genre: Drama, Modern Fiction

For avid Picoult readers, the plot will probably be predictable, however a quick rundown – Estranged son Edward Warren has lived in Thailand for 6 years, when he finds out his dad and sister have been injured in a terrible accident back in the US. When he returns home and finds out his father is in a coma which he’s unlikely to recover from, Edward and his sister Cara, who holds a grudge against him, have to decide what is best for their father – whether to keep him hooked up to life support with the likelihood of being brain-dead, or to end the life support.

To add to this, Edward & Cara’s father, Luke, is a famous animal conservationist who became famous after living with a pack of wolves in the wild, and he now runs a wolf conserve.

This story was pretty weak, and I didn’t like the ending. Unlike many of her books, the underlying story was pretty boring, I didn’t really like any of the characters, and there are secrets to be revealed in the book but aren’t really built up to make you want to know what they are.

The only element that saved this book was the information about the wolves. Like most Picoult books, the themes are heavily researched, which is one thing I love about her books. Picoult describes the habits and characteristics of wolves really well, although I feel like she made them out to be much tamer and placid than they probably are in real life!

The chapters that were from Luke’s point of view about living with wolves in the wild were my favourite, I found them interesting and well thought out, as well as really well described – particularly the facts about how a pack works and the different rankings of wolves in a pack.

From reading this article on sheknows.com, Jodi Picoult wants readers to feel three things after reading this novel – Moved, Emotional, Smarter – and I did feel all three after finishing it, so I guess I got what she wanted the reader to get out of it. I mainly felt moved and emotional when thinking of being in the position of the children and having to make life and death decisions about my parents. And of course, as I mentioned, I felt smarter after reading all the wolf facts!

I think it’s worth reading if you’re a Picoult fan, but if not, you should definitely stick to some of her better books such as The Pact or My Sisters Keeper.

Bits & pieces

  • Debuted as Number One New York Times bestseller.
  • Picoult spent time with a man who actually did live with wolves in the wild, Shaun Ellis, for a year. She also met some wolves he had in captivity.
  • Picoult also learnt how to howl like a wolf.
  • When describing Lone Wolf in 140 characters or less, Picoult says – ‘When is it right to end a life? And why is a family like a pack of wolves?’

Sources: Caroline Leavitville blog; Jodi Picoult website; sheknows.com

Quotes

“Like a missing tooth, sometimes an absence is more noticeable than a presence.”

“Me, I was already jaded and tarnished, skeptical that a fantasy world could keep reality at bay.”

“The scariest thing in the world is thinking someone you love is going to die.”

“I used to believe everything my brother told me, because he was older and I figured he knew more about the world. But as it turns out, being a grown-up doesn’t mean you’re fearless. It just means you fear different things.”

-H-

#15 True Blood Omnibus – Charlaine Harris

15 Feb

The Southern Vampire Mysteries – Books 1, 2 & 3 of 13

True Blood Omnibus - Charlaine Harris

True Blood Omnibus – Charlaine Harris

Goodreads rating: 4.19/5 (1400+ ratings)

My rating: 4/10

Why it’s on the list: I love True Blood the TV series, and had already read the first book, Dead Until Dark, and wanted to continue the series.

Genre: Mystery, Fantasy, Romance

The True Blood Omnibus is made up of the first three books of The Southern Vampire Mysteries:

  1. Dead Until Dark (Published May 1st, 2001)
  2. Living Dead in Dallas  (Published March 2002)
  3. Club Dead (Published May 2003)

I’d previously read, and reviewed Dead Until Dark, so won’t talk about that in this post but check out that review for a basic rundown of the series.

Although I quite enjoyed Book #1, unfortunately I felt like Books 2 & 3 just combined into one long, boring, badly written novel. It reads like a constant circle of; Sookie is in love with Bill > Sookie is angry at Bill > Sookie gets in a fight/is attacked/is taken and is injured > Sookie saves herself > multiple male vampires/werewolves/shifters come to look after her > Sookie wants to have sex with said vampire/werewolf/shifter > Sookie goes back to Bill. And so the circle of Sookie’s life continues.

Unlike the TV Series, where you feel real danger for Sookie, the books make the fighting or tense scenes really quick and like Sookie gets out of bad situations much too easily. The only thing I liked about the books was that Sookie is generally a strong woman (most of the time) and knows what she wants.

The writing is really, really, bad. Sometimes I had to go back and re-read sentences multiple times before understanding what Harris was trying to say. This could be reflective of my reading skills, but somehow I don’t think so.

I will continue to read the series, as I hate to start something and not finish, however if you haven’t started this series yet, I wouldn’t bother and suggest you just go watch True Blood which is awesome.

-H-

Harry Potter books get a makeover

14 Feb

I stumbled across this article about American publisher of The Harry Potter books, Scholastic, redesigning the cover of the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (or Sorcerer’s stone if you’re in America) to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the books.

Here’s the British cover, which is the one I own and received aged 9, and think is the best.

British Cover

British Cover

And here is the old American cover on top, and the new American cover on the bottom.

Old American Cover

Old American Cover

New American Cover

New American Cover

The new cover is being released in September, as paperbacks. Would love to know your thoughts on the covers, and which you prefer.

-H-

WWW Wednesday

13 Feb

W…W…W…Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should be Reading. 

TO PLAY ALONG, JUST ANSWER THE FOLLOWING THREE (3) QUESTIONS:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

_________________________________________________________________________________

What are you currently reading?

Currently I’m reading The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey. I’m up to page 65 and haven’t really got into it yet.

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle - Monique Roffey

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle – Monique Roffey

What did you recently finish reading? 

I just finished the True Blood Omnibus 1 by Charlaine Harris, which is comprised of the first 3 books of The Southern Vampire series: Dead Until Dark, Living Dead in Dallas, and Club Dead. I’d already read the first book separately, and you can find my review here.

True Blood Omnibus - Charlaine Harris

True Blood Omnibus – Charlaine Harris

What do you think you’ll read next?

The next book i’ll read is Ken Follett’s latest novel, book #2 of The Century Trilogy, Winter of the World. I loved the first book in this series, Fall of Giants, so am looking forward to reading this although I’ve heard mixed reviews.

Winter of the World - Ken Follett

Winter of the World – Ken Follett

Feel free to let me know your thoughts on any of these books, although no spoilers please for the ones I haven’t read yet!

-H-

#14 The Secret Ingredient – Dianne Blacklock

4 Feb
The Secret Ingredient - Dianne Blacklock

The Secret Ingredient – Dianne Blacklock

Goodreads rating: 3.74/5 (43 ratings)

My rating: 8/10

Why it’s on the list: I won it in a Woman’s day puzzle competition.

First published: November 1st, 2011 by Pan Australia

Genre: Modern Fiction

This book surprised me. The blurb on the back was a bit ‘airy-fairy’ and not my sort of book. All about how flavours evoke memories and what not. I was hooked within the first chapter. It’s a great story of love and loss.

Andie is the main character, and her marriage falls apart in the beginning of the book. It is set in Sydney, which I always love, because I can imagine the places. It’s mainly set in Rose Bay, Double Bay and Roseville – all places I know.

Her mother and brother have both passed away, and it’s just her irritating sister and her lonely dad left. She’s given up a lot of her dreams and aspirations of being a professional chef to let her husband focus on himself, and is running a deli. She decides to try again with the cooking and starts working at a top restaurant with renowned chef, Dominic Gerou.

I really loved Andie. I find it hard to warm to most female characters in these types of books because either I think they’re irritating, or weak, or self-absorbed, however Andie is great. She’s strong-willed, friendly, and… normal! It’s really easy to HATE her husband Ross, and LOVE all the people who are good to her.

There’s a lot of ups and downs. I felt for Andie during the whole book, her highs and lows. In the end, it’s a feel good book and the good guy wins, which is a nice change from some other books I’ve read lately!

I definitely recommend this book, for an easy, light read that still draws you in, and I think most women will be able to relate to the emotions and feelings brought up in this book. Men could read it, but I’d definitely class it as being for women, however it’s not what I’d call ‘Chick Lit’. Dianne Blacklock talks more about how she classifies her books, here.

Bits & pieces

  • Named ‘Pick of the Week’ in The Age, 14th January 2012.
  • This was Dianne Blacklock‘s 8th novel, and took her to over 1million printed words!

-H-

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