Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Mailbox Monday (on a Tuesday)

Being in a reading slump I did what every girl does to make themselves feel better - I shopped (I'm errr supposed to be on a book buying ban!) I got these beauties in the last 10 days.

Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
The Three Muskateers, Alexandre Dumas
Deogratias: A Tale of Rwanda, Stassen
The City of Dreaming Books, Walter Moers
Tomorrow, When the Was Began, Marsden
Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, Footprint (next years 5 week summer holiday)
Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Sunday Salon: Sorting Out the Challenges

I think a lot of my reading funk lately is down to having to read books for challenges or for bookrings, I never just go grab a book off the shelf anymore or pick up something completely random from the library.
I have already said that from next year I'm only participating in 6 challenges, 1 will be the 1010 challenge on librarything, I have an idea which ones I would like to participate in again but I'm not sure if they will be running next year. Doing this will let me concentrate on tackling my tbr stacks, reading more 1001 books and varying things a bit. I'm planning on reading a more diverse range of books from different counries and periods, and also more non-fiction. The current plan is one non-fiction and one classic for every four contemporary books I read. See I'm already putting myself in a situation which limits my freedom of choice!
As for now I've gone through my sidebar and taken off all the challenges I'll never finish this year - some of which hadn't even been started! That leaves me with just 5 challenges left to complete this year, as the rest are completed.

I keep meaning to get started on Carl's RIP III challenge, but it barely feels like autumn here as we are experiencing an Indian summer, with the weather better than it was for a lot of the summer.

Do you ever feel trapped by your commitment to challenges? Do you set yourself a limit of how many you can participate in?

Saturday, 26 September 2009

My Thoughts: Creating Chaos by Claire Dowie

As you can probably tell from my lack of posts I've been in a reading funk for a while now, this has been going on since August and doesn't seem to be sorting itself out. I keep browsing the internet, watching DVDs or just going to bed early. Reading and crafting are both not grabbing my attention as easily as they normally do.
This week from last Thurs till this Thursday I'm taking part in a 24 hour reading challenge through Bookcrossing. Unlike the Dewie 24 hour read-a-thon (which I'm planning on doing in Oct.) you have to read for 24 hours over the space of a week(normally an easy challenge for me).So far I've only managed an hour and a half, but I'm going to grab a Chinese soon and sit down to digest The Piano Teacher.

This afternoon I finished Creating Chaos, this is a bookring, which should be finished and sent on in the space of a month, but it has been lurking around the house since August 5th! When it arrived it just didn't look like my type of thing, I guiltily picked this up on Wednesday and read 3 hours worth and spent the evening finshing it off.
The book starts off with a group of mismatched disengaged university students, Jonathan's rich (very rich) father dies leaving him Tadley Hall, a mansion surrounded by acres and acres of land. Jonathan hates how money had affected his parents lives so allows his friends into gradually turning the place into a commune. The gang 'marry' each other in an unofficial ceremony and there lives are intwined in many ways. Sarah, willing to sleep with anyone, ends up marrying a gay man, the only male in the family who can't possibly be the father to her first child Chaos.
The book comes to centre on Ewan and Sarah, there relationship is one of jealousy and spite, she sleeps with everyone whilst loving him. As the commune grows she has more kids and other children and families come to live together.
Life in Tadley Hall isn't ever smooth, yet manages to be successful and nearly crashes when they start producing goods for the outside world.
Chaos grows up with 7 fathers and 4 mothers, he struggles to always understand all that is happening in the house but understands the central politics of the place.
At 15 he finally adventures off of their land and into the real world, not even knowing how to cross the road. Life leads him to form a band, and with his mothers pushiness become the unacting figure-head of an underground anarchist group called Fragspawn.
Writing this down isn't making it sound an attractive read, but it is remarkably good.

Monday, 14 September 2009

My Thoughts: A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo

I brought this book when it very first was released and was a feature of many reviews, it then sat on the shelves looking lonely since.
The book is a journal of a Chinese student, Z during her year long visit to England. As the book starts she is entering England and is shocked by the things around her - the expense, the food, the lack of friendliness. One night sitting alone in the cinema she is smiled at by a man, by the end of the evening she has falle in love and she has invited herself to live with him. This relationship then adds to her mix of emotions, not only does she have to fit into a new country but also a new relationship in which nothing is certain, for she has fallen in love with a drifter, a man who can make no commitment.
The language starts off in very stark broken English, but as the book progresses her English improves vastly with only a few mistakes popping up. She also has a dictionary definition at the start of each chapter and it becomes apparent how words we use everyday are not clearly defined in a dictionary - they have nuances which cannot or have not been defined.
A great read.
Orbis Terrarum
999 (TBR)
Rescue Challenge

Sunday, 13 September 2009

The Sunday Salon: Making Cocoa for Kinsley Amis by Wendy Cope

For my second read in the Twelve Step Poetry Programme I picked up Wendy Cope's 'Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis', this is part of a collection which has languised on my book shelf for many many years.
Unlike The Migraine Hotel by Luke Kennard which I loved this collectio just didn't hit the spot. Many of the poems are a woman's angst about men, she creates a mock The WasteLand (my favourite poem - which didn't go down well), and mixes in silly rhyming poems. I know she is loved, maybe I should select a different collection to read of hers and give her a second go.
Having said that I did enjoy 'Usquesbaugh' and 'E Pericoloso Spordersi' I loved the sound of the words in both.
My next poetry collection is of a very different type and will be reviewed later in the week.

As for today, I was supposed to be really busy working and planning but just not feeling it, will be cramming a little more in then cuddling up with a book and a bit plate of roasted vegetables. I just finished the BBCs adaptation of Dickens Little Dorrit which was fantabulous.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

A Saturday Creative Session

After a busy week at work and a busy morning buying pressies for people in town and basking in the September sunshine I come home and relaxed by getting crafty. This is the first time I've sat down and made something since school started back - I think I'm going to need to dedicate one evening to it a week so I have time to learn some more and participate in more swaps and challenges.
I had to make 20 altered gift tags for a swap with different people across the world, and I will end up with 20 back. I had made 8 already, but wasn't happy with all of them so I went into production line mode and knocked out 20 with the same design (it's what most people in the swap do).
Next week I have to finish 15 4x4 Autumn fat pages (chunky collage) and still have no ideas!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

My Thoughts: The Migraine Hotel by Luke Kennard

The Twelve Steps Poetry programme started at just the right time for me, I had just been to see some brilliant live poetry all by poets who live in the local area. Luke Kennard was the headline act. When he was selling this poetry collection at the end I grabbed a copy had it signed and popped home. Now, if it hadn't been for the poetry challenge I probably would have popped this on the shelf and forgotten all about it. Instead I've read a few poems an evening and actually read a whole poetry collection - something which rarely happens.

Kennard's poetry is modern and witty, he mixes elements of real life with fictional characters, he plays with words and ideas composing random little thoughts to swim around your head or make you smile. My favourite poem in the collection has to be Wolf Nationalist, who is one part English one part Welsh, one part Scottish and one part Irish. He dedicates one day a week to each part of his geographical make-up, playing out all the old stereotypes. I couldn't find a copy of that online but found this poem from the collection to give you a little taste: And I Saw he is also here on you tube where you can see one of his poems but also his lovely Well-Bred English looks and voice.

Monday, 7 September 2009

My Thoughts: So Many Books, So LittleTime by Sara Nelson

I love hearing and reading about other peoples reading and their opinions on books so during my recent reading slump I picked this up hopig it would inspire me to read again - I am, although not sure if I can say it is down to the book.

This books sets out to be a reading journal of an avid read, Sara Nelson used to be a book reviewer so she knows her stuff. This book turned out to be more about why she read, why she picked the books she did and how those books related to periods in her life. I was pleased to see she loved A Million Little Pieces and The Crimson Petal and the White but she slatted a lot of other books and authors who I enjoy.

A very easy read, but as it was American it featured a great many books I'd never heard of - I guess they weren't such a big hit over here - or I was still in nappies when hey come out so missed the hype about them.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

The Sunday Salon: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers bu Loung Ung

I haven't posted a book review on here in ages - I seem to be distracted lately when reading or I'm too busy to actually get to a book. This is the first nook I have finished in a while, but I have a poetry collection and another non-ficion half read so they should be coming up for review shortly.

I picked this book about Cambodia off of the shelves as I'm planning on travelling there next summer (5 weeks to explore Cambodia, Laos and south Vietnam - I've done the north already and loved it) and also my ex is there at the moment and he has been raving about it in his emails.
First The Killed My Father is a memoir, Loung Ung was just 5 years old when the Khmer Rouge stormed Phnom Penh causing thousands to escape from the city in search of safety. Coming from a rich family bacame both a danger but also a blessing as this family went on the run. Escaping first to families homes and then to distant villages they had to be careful at every moment to hide the father's past work with the old government. The Khmer Rouge a Communist Extremist group forced families to live in camps on meager rations, for children to work in rice fields and vegetable patches to help feed the armies. Her brother is forced to face bullying by the generals children as a means of keeping the family alive with a few extra scraps of food each night. As Loung gets older she witness the death of her sister and the disappearance of her father. She then is sent to a Children's Camp where the kids are taught how to attack the 'enemy' with the tools they use in their jobs.
The stories of what the families went through and the seperation of the families is harrowing, the political side of things is very sketchy so I'll be searching out a few non-fiction texts to find out more about the place before I go - the ex has already recommended one, which I'll borrow when he arrives back in the UK.

World Citizen Challenge
A-Z (Author)
In Their Shoes