March Book List

As each month flies by I am constantly sure that I will not achieve the book challenge, rushed for time to fit in everything that a busy life appears to demand. And then without warning, at the end of the month I discover that I have more than met the five books for the month challenge, having read double the number once again.

Ten fabulous books for the month of March, and as I write this in April (still searching for a good computer;  code for struggling to find a good computer within my price range!) its not before time that I revealed my list.

 

 

 

 

The first of two mystery novel from Phil Rickman  for the month, and thoroughly enjoyable.   This story has paganism at its central core, and  I like that the character Merrily Watkins seems terribly human in her struggle to keep the faith in the midst of things that might persuade others that there is no God, or that He is of no significance. Having said that, I’m still not entirely sure (nor do I have the inkling to spend the time researching) whether Phil Rickman is a Christian or not. That’s how well written the books are. No overbearing  preachy messages… just mysteries that look at issues that arise from real day life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the first of two” Irish Country” books that I read this month – the library delivers and I read! Its the continuing story of newly minted Dr Barry Laverty working as the assistant to Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly (now there is an Irish sounding name!)  in the make believe village of Ballybucklebo. Simple story written by the Irish-Canadian author Patrick Taylor. That’s one thing I find terribly interesting in this Canadian country. Very few people will claim to be only Canadian if they can thrown another country along side of it… French Canadian, Irish Canadian – well  here’s hoping that I might be the first Australian Canadians to write a great story!

 

Santa Montefiore is the kind of writer that I read and weep over; wishing and hoping that I might one day be as glorious a weaver of words as she is.  The past with the present written together to unfold the truth behind the garden. Lovely. Visual. Stimulating.   Oh, this book was bliss. Blissful enough that I researched more of Montefiore’s works and added them to my wish list at the library. Oh who am I kidding…? I’ve read another of her books already for April and it was just as lovely.  I have officially discovered another new author that I adore.

 

 

Second dose of single mother, Anglican priest Merrily Watkins for the month.  Possession, murder, Romany gypsy folklore and a stubbornly unbelieving daughter… its all there for the enjoyment of a few hours.  Really enjoyed the book.

 

 

I found this book particularly painful to read as I dealt with the memories of my own ten year battle with infertility and the painful decisions surrounds the reality of frozen embryos  lost in the misery of divorce. Lest you think there is nothing more to this story,  add in a mix of one member of the former marriage discovering their homosexuality and the other finding Jesus in a super fanatical demonimation and let the battle for human rights begin.

UPDATE April 14th 2011 : looky looky!  The Herald Sun newspaper back home has an article about the story online.

 

I read this book on my beloved hot pink e-reader (and if any book publishers out there want to send me e-books to read and review – send them to me electronically… really!) and I have to say I loved it. Glorious story. Powerful mystery woven around another mystery. Enthralling.  I read The ‘Weight of Silence” at the same time as I was reading ‘Sing You Home’ and it was only at the end of both books (finished on the same day I might add!) that I realised that both books had been broken into chapters written from different characters points of view. And that I loved both books for it.   Heather Gudenkuaf is a new author that I hadn’t discovered earlier, but one that I would be more than willing to pick up another book to loose myself in. Strong characters written so well that I could identify with and feel repelled by. Characters that I could marvel at and find myself crying for. One of my favourites for the month.

 

A rather dull little book that I read in my quest to learn about Enid Blyton. Not worth the time to be honest. One can’t help but feel that Gillian was trying to erase the story that younger sister Imogen had published,  in which she went about describing her mother in less than glowing terms. Not much to say really.

 

I had a lot of expectations of Rhoda Janzen’s book – I’ve had a long term love affair with the Amish and by proxy the Mennonites –  but this book was disappointing.  Reviews stated  that it was funny, witty, clever. I didn’t see anything that could be described in this book with those words in the whole novel. I found the story line confusing and I never really connected with the author. It doesn’t appear that she had learned anything about herself in the journey of recovery from her  (oft explained)  car accident and divorce from an abusive husband who went and left her for another man. Although ironically enough, I found myself at one with the author when she wrote this….

age 260

But I made my peace with the loons. I am the type of person who invariable finishes a book, no matter how much I have grown to hate it, or who stays seated right through the worst movie of all time. I always think, Eh, its not so bad. I can stand it!
I understand you totally Rhoda… I understand.

Second book by  Patrick Taylor for the month, and I can’t help but envy him the time he gets to spend in Irish pubs dreaming up new story lines for his ongoing series as he undoubtedly enjoys a Guinness or two. Interesting to see the crabby, wont let the wool be pulled over his eyes Dr  O’Reilly start to fall in love.   Its a look back in time to the 1960’s in a country still tormented by sectarian differences and divided loyalties.  It’s a simple story to be read and enjoyed.

 

As part of my challenge (an extra brownie points bonus you might say) I have decided that each month I need to read at least one author I’ve not read before. Expand my literary horizons so to speak.  Hence Brooklyn by Colm Toibin.  I enjoyed the way he described the level of homesickness an immigrant feels when they are living life in a new country. How home looks so inviting, and then when going back, the new parameters of life that have been forced upon the immigrant in the new homeland (that they often struggled against and resented) suddenly seem so much wider, stronger and sometimes more inviting when the reality of being back home sets in. An interesting  story. Didn’t fill my heart with joy like discovering Santa Montefiore did, but I’m glad to say I’ve added Toibin to my list of authors.

 

So there you have it.. ten books for the month of March and I’m well on my way to ten books for the month of April. Lord willing I will have my own computer again by the time that particular review goes up.

Now… go and open a book, turn on an e-reader and loose yourself in someone’s imagination.

 

 

February Book List

After almost four years and 100+ books, Canadian writer Yann Martel has given up his self appointed role of literary mentor to the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.

                                    

For years Martel has been sending books every two weeks to the Prime Minister in the hopes of getting him interested in great literature. And not just picking up any old book on sale at the local ChaptersIndigo book store…. noNoNO. Martel has taken the time to write about why and how the particular pick for the fortnight has impacted the world, readers and brought new ideas to the fore.

Unfortunately, I do not have the luxury of more time than I am giving towards the Random House Inc reading challenge than I am already giving. Indeed, I may end up with less time if I manage to score a job in the next little while. For what its worth I am applying for a job in a bookstore – does the proverb letting a child loose in a candy store spring to mind anyone?

So here are the lucky nine books that I’ve managed to read in the month of February.

Read the first Merrily Watkins book last month and couldn’t wait to start another one. The book I read was out of order of the series, so this one is heading back as far at the Ottawa Public Library will allow me to go.  Easy to read mystery book that mixes faith with mystical and comes out with an enjoyable read for this bookworm.

This book was easy to read. It was enjoyable and I did finish it (I often give up on a book if there are no redeeming features at all) but I wouldn’t go out of my way to read anymore by Susan Lewis. Quite honestly, it felt too obvious.
 

I recall seeing the launch of this series (‘Extraordinary Canadians’) on television a while ago, so I was excited to read  the book written about Lucy Maud Montgomery.  I liked that it wasn’t a ‘she was born on a cold winters day… she lived and died eventually’ kind of  outline for the book, but rather Jane Urquhart took different themes on L.M.’s life and wrote about it in its entirety, and then moved onto the next big theme.  Interesting, thought provoking and a good read.

I read “Moral Disorder” a year or so ago and hated it! Swore up and down to my writing group that I would never read another of her books. But then I read about Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban using a gestational carrier to have their second daughter, and over the course of a few weeks, a furore broke out about the use of women to carry a baby for another couple in this manner. How access to a surrogate of any kind is really the privilege of the rich. That it demoralises poorer women who tend to be viewed as doing it because their uterus the only thing of value to society. And the reference to ‘The Handmaids Tale’ was made. I had to read it, and will be eating humble pie. At least this slice of the Atwood pie was tasty.

I read this on my e-reader. I love my e-reader. I hate how expensive e-books are when they are not tangible objects. I cant wait for e-books to become cheaper. But I love J.K. Rowling and I can’t help but love that my daughter was telling me on Saturday night that Harry Potter was calling her on her (broken) mobile phone, and that Voldermort had managed to get into her phone and wipe out all her messages!  Yeah for characters that become real things to children.

OK. So I read yet another of the Merrily Watkins books. And I have two more sitting on my shelves right now for the March book list. I’m hooked.  Any author who can wrap Prince Charles, The Knights Templar and gruesome murders together in a story that moves along at a decent pace deserves to be read.  

I decided to read this book on the strength of the David Nicholls book ‘One Day’ which I  loved. I didn’t love this one quite as much. I didn’t feel the attachment to the characters who were self absorbed, boring twits and were, in a manner, repulsive. An interesting idea of  ‘behind the scenes’ of fame and what it takes to get there (and are you willing to do it), with some humorous points, but on the whole, no, it really didn’t grab me the way ‘One Day’ did.

I really enjoyed this book…. until the end. The end was so abrupt I actually checked for the telltale signs of jaggered paper to make sure nobody had ripped out the last chapter of the book. They hadn’t. It was just a strange place to end. Very ‘European film-ish’ in that there is no nice wrap up at the end. No comeuppance for the jerk, no happily every after for everyone…. just… life goes on. Still, I liked the characters and wanted them to get their happy endings, so I can imagine it for them – right?

January Book List

 Guess the fact I’ve had my nose stuck in one book or another, the result  from accepting the challenge from Facebook – Random House Inc to read five books a month for a year has meant a lack of blog posts. Opps.  Being the book worm that I am, and despite my misgivings, I also added new twist to the goal – why make it easy on myself?! I want to use this challenge to take some time to read outside of my usual comfort zone. Generally I am pulled to what is (depending upon the company you keep) called either sneeringly called ‘chick lit’ or contemporary women’s literature.  So this month I added a mystery novel into the mix, just to see how authors approach other genres. 

I decided to read a mystery by Phil Rickman based solely on a review I read about ‘Merrily Watkins’, the central character of the series and I was not disappointed. Actually, I loved the book so much I have read another of the series already this month and have ordered a couple more from the library. Who would have though I could end up enjoying mystery novels?  It was a trip down secondary school memory lane that lead me to read Playing Beatie Bow in honour of Ruth Park, who died late last year.  I wanted to see if her book stood the test of time.  And whilst it wasn’t as brilliant as I remembered it, I still love the idea of being lost in history and how that affects the future and the way timelines can blend together.

I think the only book I felt was formulaic and a touch trite was the last one I read by Carly Phillips. It may have felt pedestrian because I have read so many versions of this style of novel (let the sneering begin – chick lit!), not necessarily because it was badly written.  As a reader I didn’t understand the choice of artwork on the front cover of House Rules – it didn’t respond to the story within the cover at all.  I always enjoy a novel by Nora Roberts, and this is a good stand alone read if you don’t want to get suckered into one of her series.  My favourite novel of the month was Mothers and Other Liars, but that had such a profound effect upon my heart that I believe it best to save that for another post. Finally, I have been slowly working my way through the whole Harry Potter series since last year, fully reveling in the ‘magic’ of J.K.’s writing style. Although I feel duty bound to admit that I read this on my beloved Sony e-reader and I didnt hold the ink infused paper bound book from the library!

In the end, I must confess that I am somewhat shocked that I managed to read ten novels in the course of one month. Perhaps I am/was still, despite my non-television watching habits during the daytime, wasting much too much time. Whatever the truth, I am eager to see how many books I can enjoy in the month of February.

  

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