Thursday, 30 October 2008

My Thoughts: The Gathering by Anne Enright

Lots of reviews of this book say it is too depressing, too miserable. This is a book about a suicide, its hardly likely to be full of happiness and joy.

The book is narrated by a middle aged, middle class woman, with a seemingly perfect life - she's at home looking after the kids, whilst her husbands business is going so well she can buy anything she wants. But she isn't happy.

When her brother commits suicide she starts mulling over events in the past, her past and her families past, as well as the present, her lifeless, loveless marriage. Veronica is from a large family, one where the kids all drag up each other. The mother has too many kids to care about each child individually, and she also has some type of problem, so the family is constantly trying to protect her from the live going on around her. Veronica seems to hate, and yet love her mother, and also blames her father for having to grow up in this overly large family.

After her brother's suicide, Veronica explores a past she would have never known, the meeting of her grandparents, and how that meeting led to the event that she says it the root cause of her brother's death.

This novel is firmly based in the thoughts of the narrator, no great event happens, and you guess early on what childhood event will be revealed. I felt I never knew whether to trust this narrator, at some points she even told you that she couldn't clearly remember events. I also didn't really like her, or any of her family, they all seemed fairly self absorbed, no one really seemed to love anyone else, they all just existed side-by-side.

Saying that I thought it was well written, and a good read.

This was the last book I had to read for the 2008 Man Booker Challenge, this year I read:

By far my favorite was Mr Pip. In the next year I shall be reading all the of the 2008 shortlist, as well as some previous winners and runners up

Booking Through Thursday: Book Conditions

Are you a spine breaker? Or a dog-earer? Do you expect to keep your books in
pristine condition even after you have read them? Does watching other readers
bend the cover all the way round make you flinch or squeal in pain?

I used to bend the corners of pages to make my place, but I have gotten myself out of that habit, however I do leave them open face down. The spines do get broken, and occasionally pages have a gorgeous quote underlined or starred. I tend to only write notes around poetry.
I believe books are there to be enjoyed, they are not items in a museum. I used to know a guy who barely opened the book to read it as he wanted it to look pristine when he had finished with it, he always looked uncomfortable as he read.
As most of the books I read are second hand, or come from bookcrossing, they have already been read so its not a problem what condition they arrive in.
What makes me annoyed is when the kids at school bend the cover all the way around, its not their book and is just likely to make it break or pages fall out so other people can't enjoy it in the future. And when they write rude words or pictures in it - then they know they are in trouble!

P.S I have a challenge running till Dec 09 based on the BTT question from a couple of weeks ago, about books that have been sitting on your shelf for ages waiting to be read. Thr Rescue Challenge is to save those poor books from being ignored any longer, details can be found here

Book Give Away

There is a book giveaway over at BLOG.LITERARILY.COM for The Witches Trinity: A Novel. The giveaway is open till the 14th of November.
Plus over at the site is a great little essay about witches in history, go check it out.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

RIP III: Wrap-up

I ended up going a little overboard on my reading. I needed to read 4, I managed....

I also started and abandoned one book, and started and put aside for a little while another, as I just wasn't in the mood for it.

Just pipping the post for fav over The End of Mr Y, is The Gargoyle. This was an excellent read. Look forward to taking part in this challenge again next year.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

My Thoughts: The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson

Ultimately going to become my favorite book of the year!

I sat down this morning to read some of this book, and read for 7 hours, only stopping to nip to the supermarket and to eat tea. Its amazing, really powerful.

The book is about a burns victim, he is in a car crash, his own coke-induced fault, which leads to immense burning of his hole body - the descriptions of the burns on the first 10 pages is horrific, and nearly made me put the book down. He goes from being a pornographic cassonova, with his own company and party lifestyle, to a guy completely dependent on others for his every need.

Into the ward, and into his life walk Marianne Engel calmly announcing that she has been looking for him for the last 700 years, since they were last lovers.

Marianne is Schizophrenic/manic depressive/ genius/ fantastic story-teller. She recounts their life together, plus telling him tales of various other connected figures, and folk tales while helping him with his treatment and taking him into her own care. She is a compulsive sculptor, working into a frenzy when God talks to her and tells her what to create.

The book is full of knowledge, of burns, religion, myth, Dante's Inferno (which I so want to read now!), and schizophrenia but everything is delivered so you can understand. It felt like a cross between The Time Traveller's Wife (my fav book) and The End of Mr Y.

Read for the RIP III challenge (book 9/4)

Other Readers

If you have read this please leave a link to your review in the comments and I'll add the link to the post

Sunday Salon: A week of reading planned

This last week has been really busy, the last week before half term is always jammed packed, so my reading has been limited. The only things I did seem to do, was create 2 new challenges; The Rescue Challenge and Exploration: Latin American Reading Challenge (see here for info), and join a new challenge for 2009, The Pub Challenge - a challenge to read books published in 2009.

As I have a week off I'm planning to attack my reading piles and especially my reading challenges. I have to finish The Gargoyle and Out, both of which are extras for Carl's RIP III challenge. Out is also my second read for the Japanese challenge, hopefully I'm going to find another Japanese book this week and get this challenge bagged. I'm also trying to read at least one short story a day from a collection of Nineteenth Century short stories, then I'll only need to read one more collection of stories before the end of the yet.

Anyone else tackling their challenges st the moment? How is it going?

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Decades Challenge 2009

3M is hosting this challenge again

Did you participate in the By the Decade Challenge last year? Would you like to
again? Or, if you didn’t take part in 2008, are you interested in doing so in
2009? We’d love to have you join us!
Decades ‘09 Rules:
1. Read a minimum
of 9 books in 9 consecutive decades in ‘08.
2. Books published in the 2000’s
do not count.
3. Titles may be cross-posted with any other challenge.
You may change your list at any time.
5. Peruse the eligible book lists and
reviews from 2008 or 2007. Any book from that decade is eligible; it doesn’t
have to be on the list to qualify. A good source to find out when books were
published is wikipedia. For example if you follow this link, you will
see how easy it is to search books by a particular decade. Another resource is
7. Sign up through Mr. Linky below.
Please use the url of your specific post for this challenge rather than just
your blog url.
8. 6. After about January 12, come back and post the links to
your reviews into Mr. Linky for the appropriate decade. Please don’t post
‘09 reviews in the Mr. Linky before January 12. I’ll need some time to
switch over the ‘08 reviews and set up the new ‘09 Linkys. You don’t have to,
but you are encouraged to post all the books you’ve read for that decade if
you’re participating in Decades ‘09.
9. Have fun reading your Decades ‘09
books, and have a great year!

Here is my potential list, I've picked 2 for each year so I have more freedom to chose according to my mood.

1990: A Suitable Boy, Seth or Alias Grace, Atwood

1980: Love in a Time of Cholera,Marquez or The House of Spirits, Allende

1970: The Sea, The Sea, Murdoch or In A Free State, Naipaul

1960: Big Sur, Kerouac or The Arrow of God, Achebe

1950: Naked Lunch, Burroughs or The Go Between, Hartley

1940: Canary Row, Steinbeck or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Smith

1930: Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald or The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck

1920: The Sound and The Fury, Faulkner or The Trial, Kafka

1910: Of Human Bondage, William Somerset Maugham or The Secret Garden, Burnett

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

The 2009 Pub Challenge

The 2009 Pub Challenge held by 3M

Here are the 2009 rules:
Read a minimum of 9 books first published in 2009. You don’t have to buy these. Library books, unabridged audios, or ARCs are all acceptable. To qualify as being first published in 2009, it must be the first time that the book is published in your own country. For example, if a book was published in Australia, England, or Canada in 2008, and then published in the USA in 2009, it counts. Newly published trade paperbacks and mass market paperbacks do not count if there has been a hardcover/trade published before 2009. Any questions on what qualifies? Just leave a comment here, and I’ll respond with the answer.
No children’s/YA titles allowed, since we’re at the ‘pub.’
At least 5 titles must be fiction.
Crossovers with other challenges are allowed.
You can add your titles as you go, and they may be changed at any time.
Sign up HERE using Mr. Linky.
Have fun reading your 2009 books!

I haven't decided on a list books yet, I'll probably decide when I read reviews.
Here are a few I am aware of:
Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro, 2009
Sarah Waters of Fingersmith fame is releasing a book in June, I'll definately be grabbing it as I love all her books so far.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Two Completed Short Story Collections

The Little Black Book of Stories - Byatt

Way, way back in April I picked up and started this collection of short stories on a bus journey, the book then got put down and forgotten about till I rediscovered it for the RIP III challenge, and now its finally finished.

I love A.S Byatt's Possession but have never got around to reading any of her other stuff, well if this collection is anything to go by I should dig some more out. With the exception of one story, 'Body Art' I enjoyed all the tales, most I would say are relevent to the RIP challenge, while one 'A Stone Woman' was just very strange and mysterious. My favorite has to be 'Raw Material' a story about a creative writing teachers dismal class, with one shining light. The story was so soft and gentle that the ending came as a sharp surprise.

Fragile Things - Gaiman

This was a great collection of short stories, as expected by Gaiman. A few were abandoned but most were loved, in particular The Day the Saucers Came and Octobers Chair. A random selection of these stories I have reviewed as I read them:

The Sunday Salon: Announcing Two Challenges

Two new challenges I'm hosting, now looking for participants.

The Rescue Challenge
In this weeks Booking Through Thursday people were asked about those books which just linger on the shelves for years, never making it to the top of the pile. Which got me thinking about a new challenge, The Rescue Challenge. Help rescue those unloved books from the obscurity of the bottom of the tbr pile.
There would be two parts to the challenge, the first would be to get rid of any books you know deep down you will never read, so whether you bookmooch, bookcross, give them away to a charity shop these books will take up less of your space and have the opportunity to be read.
The second part of the challenge, will be to set up a pool of those unloved books and read between 3-6 of them between Nov 1st 2008 - Dec 31st 2009.
Books can definitely count for other challenges as well, in fact this will probably urge you to read them, and you set yourself the amount of books you'd like to read. The prize, is simply space on your shelves and freeing yourself of guilt when you once again sweep past that copy to reach for a shiny new book.
List of Participants here

I'm going to aim to read 4 of these, all have been on my shelves for more than 3 years:
A Suitable Boy - Seth
Arthur and George - Barnes
Sister of my Heart - Divkrum
Glasgow - Freud
Acts of Mutiny - Beavan
Big Sur - Kerouac
Alias Grace - Atwood
The Robber Bride - Atwood
The Swimming Pool Diaries - Hollinghurst
Heart Songs - Proulx
The Woodlanders - Hardy
War and Peace - Tolstoy
Adam Bede - Eliot
North and South - Gaskell
Love in a Time of Cholera - Marquez

Exploration: Latin American Reading Challenge
This challenge will run for 4 months, between the 1st January - 30th April 2009. The aim is to read a 4 books from Latin America, these can be fiction or non-fiction the mix is up to you. The books can be used as part of other challenges, but must be finished between the dates of the challenge. I will supply a small prize drawn from the names of those people who finish the challenge.
I've shown below a couple of options you may want to follow:
Free Choice: Read any four Latin American books
Mix it Up: Read a variety of fiction and non-fiction Latin American books
Author Challenge: Read a variety of work from just one author.
States: Read a book from a variety of the different states of Latin America
Magic Realism: Latin America is famous for producing the Magic Realism genre, you may decide just to read books fitting this genre.

Just so everyone is clear as to what will count as Latin America, I found this handy definition:
The Spanish-speaking, Portuguese-speaking, and French-speaking countries (except Canada) of North America, South America, Central America, and the West Indies. The 20 republics are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The term Latin America is also used to include Puerto Rico, the French West Indies, and other islands of the West Indies where a Romance tongue is spoken. Occasionally the term is used to include Belize, Guyana, French Guiana, and Suriname.

List of Participants here
Reviews here

For now pick which option you would like to participate in, create a list or a pool of books you'd like to read (these can be changed at any point).
My List: (Free Choice)
Love In a Time of Cholera - Marquez
The House of Spirits - Allende
Easter Island - Vandebes
Bel Canto - Patchett
The Agero Sisters - Garcia
The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto - Llosa
The Empress of South America - Cawthorne

Signing up for the challenges: if you'd like to sign up for either of these, please leave a comment below with the challenge you'd like to join and a link to your pool of books. Anyone without a blog can list their pool in the comments. I'll then create a participants list. I'll also create a post where people can leave links to their reviews once the challenges are up and running.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Sunday Salon: A Tidy Up and Short Story Weekend

I couldn't participate in the read-a-thon as I have loads to do this weekend - marking etc, I had to work in a bar last night and I have to be perky for the last week of school for the term, which is a shame as I'd love to know how long I would have lasted for. Instead I decided I'd try and read as many short stories as I could in a weekend around all the other stuff I had to do. (This will help towards the Short Story Challenge, and 100 Shots of Short. The list so far:

1. Instructions, Gaiman

2. Diseasemaker's Croup, Gaiman

3. Goliath, Gaiman

A very perculiar tale. A man 'judders' through time, he lives his life again and again, repeating and changing aspects of it each time. He has been designed to save the world against aliens, and seems to get various bits of information at each point in his life, everytime earth is attacked he returns to an earlier point, eventually being at a point where he can make a difference.

4. A Stone Woman, Byatt

A scar from an operation feels strange and lumpy, leaving the woman feel like she has a part of her which is not her own body. Weeks later she realises that this scar is producing little red grains of glinting sand, which start emerging from different sections of her body. As time passes her scar turns into a line of rock, carnelians, diamonds, granite etc start forming in mounds across her body.

5. The Duc De L'Omelette, Poe

The Tidy Up:

I finished the Young Adult Challenge hosted by Joy weeks ago and seem to have forgotten to post a round up. I read the following books

Books I've read for this challenge:
1 Twilight , Meyer
2 Mirrormask, Gaiman
3 Journey to the River Sea, Ibbotson
4 Gatty, Crossley-Holland
5 Apache, Landman
6. The Garbage King, Laird
7. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Taylor
8. Ruby Red, Glass
9. Blankets, Thompson (Graphic Novel)
10. Goodbye Tsugumi, Yoshimoto
11. Three Shadows, Pedrosa (Graphic Novel)
12. Varjak Paw, S.F Said
13. Rabbit Proof Fence, Pilkington

My favorite: Gatty

My Least fav: Mirrormask

I've also decided to be rusthless and get rid of a few challenges I am definetly not going to finish. I'm abadoning: The New Classics Challenge, Unread Authors Challenge, and 2nds challenge so I can focus on finishing the rest.

For the rest of the day I will be reading short stories in between marking exams, going out for lunch and getting some cleaning done

My Thoughts: The Wooden Sea by Jonathan Carrol

I'm not quite sure how I'm going to make this description of this book make sense, but here goes.

Frannie finds a sick dog, who promptly dies and he buries it, finding in the ground a bone and a multicoloured feather. The problem is the dog and the feather won't stay buried and they keep reappearing all over the place, as solid items, tatoos, pictures etc. Along with these items haunting his days Frannie is visited by, and visits hisself at various stages of his life. He needs all the Frannies he has even been and ever will be to help him save the world and those around him.

Sounds confusing right? But somehow when you read it, it is simple, clean and polished. I loved this book, and definately need to be reading more of his work in the future.
Challenges: Fall into Reading.
Have you read this? Leave a link to your review here and I'll pop in a link.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Booking Though Thursday: The Brunt of Mount TBR

So, the question is this: “What tomes are waiting patiently on your shelves?"

My shelf has many books that have been sitting waiting for me for years, many of these are classics that I brought during university with the aim of having good knowledge, and never got around to, like Moll Flanders, War and Peace, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskel and The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy.
I also have:
The Robber Bride and Alias Grace by Maragaret Atwood, both of which I brought 10 years ago during my A' Levels, when I was just 17! I have no idea why these two haven't been read as I have enjoyed all of her stuff.

A few others with have been hanging out on my shelves for several years: A Suitable Boy, Arthur and George and Yellow Dog.

Maybe there should be a rescue challenge for those books that never quite make it to the top of the pile.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

A Week of Reading Short Stories

I'm attempting to get 100 Shots of Short off to a good start by reading at least one short story everyday this week. Teaching has really helped (kinda cheating I know)

On Monday I reread Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl to the kids at school. The story stars off all peaceful and calm and then unexpectedly turns dark. Always a favorite

On Tuesday I read The Red Room (H.G Wells) twice, to 11 year olds then 16 year olds. This 19th century tale is a great read for haloween, the brave young man ventures off into the red room to face whatever it is that lurks up there.

I also read a story for pleasure, Country Lovers by Nadine Gordimer. This was an excellent read. Set in Africa, it talks of how black and white children start off as friends, almost equals in play and in development, but the private education and benefits of the white children brings seperation, the division into master and worker. But one pair of children continued their friendship, from their teens, with innocent gift giving and hanging out through to 18, when this had developed into a secret sexual relationship. As with all secret relationships the outcome isn't happy. Very well, and very simply told, making the ending even more heart wrenching.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

My Thoughts: The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas (plus a mini challenge)

I brought this book ages ago, and to be honest I'm not sure if I ever read the blurb, the fantastic cover design (reminding me of the brilliant Glass Books of the Dream Eaters) and the black edged pages were screaming out for me to buy this. It finally found its way to the top as I thought it would fit into the RIP III challenge, and its darkness makes it a good choice although its subject matter may stop people from thinking it fits.
The End of Mr Y is about a cursed book of the same name, everyone who reads it dies. Well that's actually, surprisingly, fine as only one copy is known to exist and its locked inside a bank vault. Ariel is an overly intelligent (she knows about everything apart from religion and love) PHd student, studying Lumas, the author of The End of Mr Y, her lecturer disappears, her university sinks into the hill and she randomly comes across a copy of this book. Obviously this is a book in which you need to suspend your disbelief.
The book contains a recipe, which promises knowledge, and despite knowing all about the curse, Ariel seeks out the ingredients and takes the mixture. The recipe leads people into the troposphere a place where you exist within your own mind and can jump between other peoples minds. Now, some bad men also know about this recipe and want to stop anyone else discovering it, so they are after Ariel and any one else who's involved, and they are not so easy to escape as they can also travel through minds.
It all sounds very bubble-gum like from that description but in amongst this adventure there is a whole heap of philosophy, language theory and science. I could keep up with the Sartre and Baudrillard just about, but a lot of the science went over my head. Definitely a book that needs concentration.
Fall into Reading


Another Challenge!
I'm also going to participate in Dewey's Martel-Harper challenge. This challenge involves reading 3 books from the list of books that author Yann Martel has recommended for the Canadian Primeminister Stephen Harper. Dewey's sign up page is here . October - December 31st
Birthday Letters - Ted Hughes
Metamorphoses - Kafka
Anthem - Ayn Rand

Saturday, 11 October 2008

The Sunday Salon: Short Story Sunday

I've had a busy week, but managed to read all of The Hours, and I'm halfway through The End of Mr Y, which I'm really enjoying and planning to spend a few hours on later once I've got all my jobs done. And England is bathed in gorgeous sunshine at the mo, so I'm off for a wander around town and into the library to make sure I enjoy it before it disappears again.

My first short story for 100 Shots of Short.

Gold Boy, Emerald Girl By Yiyun Li (can be found online here).

A very melancholy tale set in the busy Beijing but with that air of tranquility that you often fing in Chinese stories. He has been brought up along by his mother, and she alone by her father. Despite countless attempts to get them married, both had remained single. When he arrives back from the freedom of America his mother is quick to try and set up a meeting between him and one of her prized students.

Anyone know any good online stories to recommend? I'm going to try and do Short Story Sunday everyweek from an online story.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

My Thoughts: The Hours by Micheal Cunningham

I wasn't overly impressed by the film for this, but it was on my challenge list for both the Pulitzer prize and the 1001 list so I thought I had better give the book a go, and it was so much better, much more rounded.

The book spans across the day in the life of three women, each at a different point in history.

Virginia Woolf, in London in 1927, trying to start writing Mrs Dallloway, but also struggling with the pressures of depression and a desire to just slip away from this world.

Mrs Brown, in America in 1949, a housewife with the perfect little family, but they just don't satisfy her. She wants to escape, to a different life, to the book Mrs Dalooway, and also contemplates commiting suicide.

And Clarrisa, nick named Mrs Dalloway, who is preparing a party for her dying friend in modern day New York.

All the women are feeling seperated from life in some way, and suicide comes up a lot. Not agood novel for if you are having a bad day!


Booking Through Thursday

What was the last book you bought?
I brought a few books in a charity shop, Unless by Carol Sheilds, The Dream Lover by William Boyd, All Quiet on the Wesren Front and the Count of Monte Cristo. I don't buy many books now because I get a lot through bookcrossing.
Name a book you have read MORE than once
The book I have read the most as an adult is The Time Traveller's Wife, as a kid I read all my books over and over again.
Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?
Not that I can think of
How do you choose a book? eg. by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews
All of the above, in bookshops it is the cover that grabs me fist, the more boring looking books stay on my shelves for ages
Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?
I read nearly all fiction, I keep meaning to read more non-fiction but never quite make it.
What’s more important in a novel - beautiful writing or a gripping plot?
I appreciate both, but probably plot.
Most loved/memorable character (character/book)
Herny and Clare - Time Traveller's Wife
Jane Eyre and Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?
The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas and Fragile Leaves by Neil Gaiman, and The Wooden Sea by Jonathan Carrol which is my next read.
What was the last book you’ve read, and when was it?
I finished The Hours last night
Have you ever given up on a book half way in?
If I'm not enjoying it I'm unlikely to get to half way, with Cloud Atlas I struggled through the first half, loving some sections and hating others, I gave up at the half way point when I realised that the second half was the follow up stories to the first half.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

A Neil Gaiman Double Whammy!

So much for an afternoon marking, I devoured 2 Neil Gaiman books, both for the RIP III Challenge and both were great.

I've read Coraline before, but last time it just kind of passed me by, this time I was in the right mood and I loved it.

Coraline is a modern fairytale. She is a young girl living in a house, with two overly busy and unattentive parents. The holidays are dragging and Coraline's life as an explorer is starting to get a bit boring. In the back of their flat is a locked door which leads to a brick wall. Well, being a fairytale we know that doorways such as these only lead to danger, and that our heroine will have to go and explore.

Behind the locked door, is Coraline's other family, all scarily with buttons for eyes (despite being grown up, one of the pictures I had to cover as I read the page, her eyes were just too freaky!). This alternative world is created by the mother, who appears to steal children's souls. And that's the intention she has for our main character, but as this is a fairytale we watch Coraline in her war against this adult.

I want to get the graphic novel version of this in the near future.

Other Reviews:

The second Gaiman book was a gorgeous graphic novel which I spotted in the library and had never even heard of. Creatures of the Night includes 2 stories, The Price and The Daughter of Owls.

In The Price the narrators home is basically a home for stray cats, all manner of cats turn up to stay in the house, and all settle in fine. Until the Black Cat arrives, he sleeps on the porch but every night he is covered in cuts and welts. Once brought into the house to protect him from whatever is harming him, everything goes wrong for the family, from losing work, to accidents and srguments. When he is returned back outside, his owner sets out to discover just what it is that is attacking him.

The Daughter of Owls is a strange little tale, about an abandoned child believed to be the daughter of an owl. She is feared by the villagers and banished to live in the old convent. As with all feared female children she grows up to be a beauty and her actions cause havoc for the village which rejected her.

The pictures in this book are stunning, not at all like cartoons. The picture I really want to show you I can't find on the net, and I have no digital camera or scanner to capture it with.

100 Shots of Short

I really enjoyed Short Story September, but find I'm not very disciplined at reading short stories, but I discovered this ongoing challenge 100 shots of short at robaroundbooks. You just have to read 100 shortstories and you have as much time to do so as you like.
1. Gold Boy, Emerald Girl By Yiyun Li (can be found online here).
2. Lamb to the Slaughter, Dahl (can be found on-line here)
3. The Red Room, H.G Wells (can be found online here)
4. Country Lovers, Nadine Gordimer (Review here)
5. Veronica, Adewale Maja-Pearce
6. Instructions, Gaiman
7. Diseasemaker's Croup, Gaiman
8. Goliath, Gaiman
9. A Stone Woman, A.S Byatt
10. The Duc De L'Omelette, Poe
11. Pages from a Journal Found in a Shoebox on a Greyhound Bus Between Tulsa, Oklahoma and Louisville, Kentucky, Gaiman
12. The Day the Saucers Came, Gaiman
13. Raw Material, A.S Byatt
14. The Pink Ribbon, A.S Byatt
15. The Ostler, Wilkie Collins
16. The Pit and the Pendulum, Edgar Allan Poe
17. Samuel Lowgood's Revenge, Mary E. Braddon
18. Lost Hearts, M. R James
19. An Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge, Amrose Bierce
20. A Vendetta, du Maupassant
21. Open Arms, Robert Olen Butler
22. Mr Green, Robert Olen Butler
23. The Trip Back, Robert Olen Butler
24. Crickets, Robert Olen Butler
25. Letters from My Father, Robert Olen Butler
26. Love, Robert Olen Butler
27. The Gold Cadillac - Mildred Taylor
28. A Stench of Kerosene -Amrita Pritam
29. The Parade of You, Barth Anderson. (Copy can be found here)
30. Face, Alice Muro (Copy can be foud here)
31. The Ladies of Grace Adieu, Susanna Clarke
32. On Lickerish Hill, Susanna Clarke
33. Mrs Mabb, Susanna Clarke

34. The Moor, Russell Banks
35. Dundun, Denis Joohnson
36. Timothy's Birthday, William Trevor
37. The Birthday Cake, Daniel Lyons
38. Turning, Lynda Sexton
39. Maybe Not Yem, Etik Juwita
40. Forever Overhead, David Forster Wallace
41. Angel of Mercy, Angel of Wrath, Ethan Canin
42. The Birthday Present, Andrea Lee
43. The Bath, Raymond Carver
44. A Game of Dice, Paul Theroux
45. Close to the Water's Edge, Clare Reegan
46. Birthday Girl, Murakami
47. The Lottery, Maria Edgeworth
48. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Fitzgerald
49. Jelly-Bean, Fitzgerald
50. Godmother Death, Jane Yolen
51. Crocodile Tears, A.S Byatt

The Sunday Salon: A Review - Two Tractors by Marina Lewycka

I woke up this morning to yet another cold day, not only cold but a day full of rain and dreary skies, I quickly rolled over wrapped in the duvet and missed the swimming session I was going to do. When I crawled out of bed I allowed myself to read the last 50pages of Two Caravans. Since then I've done a bit of studying, which I'm supposed to be continuing now with research into Polari a gay slang language, but I thought I'd type up this review first. Once thats down I have 30 homework pieces to mark, then I will either start Coraline or The Hours - both need reading this week.

Two Caravans is the second novel by Marina Lewycka, her first A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian was a massive hit with most people, but I personally wasn't overly impressed, and certainly not gripped. However, I thought I'd give this next book a go, and I wasn't disappointed.

Two Caravans is about a goup of illegal immigrants trying to survive in England. They are initially brought over to pick strawberries, existing on minimum wage, food not even worthy for a cat and living in two tiny caravand between 9 people the workers are disinterested but stuck in this world of exploitation. The job at the strawberry farm soon disintegrates when the farmer is caught having an affair, and run over by his wife, and the immigrants split up.

From this point onwards there are many strands to the story, but the main one follows Irina and Andriy, both from the Ukraine but seperated by politics and class. As a young and attractive virgin, Irina is seen as a key commodity and is pursued by a man with a desire in proffiting from her body. Andriy is quickly falling from her, and out to protect her every step of the way. They have jobs in restaurants and a chicken farm (it will put you off eating chicken for life), and gradually make their way through London and up north.

I have to say England is portrayed as a pretty nasty place, there are 2 shootings, lots of expoitation and the few English people in the novel and mean and cruel to the outsiders. They also manage to make their money go a lot further than it possibly could.

But, this novel is funny, witty and sharp. Give it to a lot of the narrowminded people who exist and they would take it as gospel, as this England seems to be populated only by immigrants something that the Tabloid press would have us all believing.

Has anyone else read this? How did you think it faired to Tractors...?


Other Reviews:

Have you reviewed this book? If so add your link and I'll add you to this list.

Friday, 3 October 2008

My Thoughts: The Stolen Child by Keith Donoghue

The Stolen Child tells the story, in alternate chapters, of two 'boys'; one a changeling who has stolen the other boys life. A group of changelings live in a forest in North East America, they were all once children who were stolen, and now live amongst the forest, scrabbling for food and warmth, whilst waiting their turn in line to become children once again.

In the 1940s they steal Henry Day, a quiet child, who is easy prey as he is feeling left out after the birth of his twin sisters. The changelings study his life and personality until an opportunity arises to steal him away. Once stolen he is wrenched from his body, and the changeling takes his place.

The changeling replacing Henry, was in a previous life an excellent musician, and when he swaps into Henry's life he is unable to hide this great talent and quickly the new Henry's life becomes filled with music lessons and practice, pretty much cutting him off from his contemporaries. This love of music also creates tension in his relationship with his father, who can never quite accept that this boy, who went from being tone deaf to pitch perfect is really his son. As a changeling imitating a child he has to remember to change his body as he grows up, and try to forget the past, something which both he and the real Henry Day struggle to do.

Through the real Henry Day, now named Aniday we see the changelings fight to survive, for food, to avoid detection and the desire to return to their previous life. One of the female changelings takes Aniday into her care, and slips him into the library each night, snuggled up amongst the books they discover friendship as well as reading a vast array of books, reminding them of human life.


Other Reviews:

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

The Genre Challenge: Nov 08- Nov 09 & Go Gothic

Bookworms and Tea Lovers is hosting The Genre Challenge:

The goal:To read one book in the following genres:

crime fiction, (drop)
detective fiction,
horror fiction,
thriller fiction,
romance fiction,
science fiction,
action/adventure fiction,
fantasy fiction,
realistic fiction, (drop)
historical fiction, Sea of Poppies, Amitav Ghosh
western fiction.

Specific definitions of these genres can be found in this post.There are three options if you want to join:

A: Read 10 books, drop the genre you read the most and one of your own choosing

B: Read 11 books, drop the genre you read the most

C: Read 12 books

The rules
You may not read more than 1 book per genre
All books must be read within the challenge period
No crossovers within the challenge, each genre should have a separate book
Crossovers with other challenges are allowed
Audio books are allowed, graphic novels are not
You may make a list of books, but that’s not mandatory and you can change your picks at any time before or during the challenge.

I'm also participating in Go Gothics readalong of Northanger Abbey, I have a copy somewhere, will hunt around and start reading tomorrow. The reading schedule is:

Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen
THUR Oct 02 Chapters 1-3

TUES Oct 07 Chapters 4-7

THUR Oct 09 Chapters 8-10

TUES Oct 14 Chapters 11-14

THUR Oct 16 Chapters 15-17

TUES Oct 21 Chapters 18-21

THURS Oct 23 Chapters 22-24

TUES Oct 28 Chapters 25-28

THURS Oct 30 Chapters 29-31