Here we go, part 2 for your perusal. I think I can share books read direct from Goodreads, I might try that out each time I finish a book, it'll save big long posts like this...I hope.
A very young woman's
first job: governess for two weirdly beautiful, strangely distant, oddly
silent children, Miles and Flora, at a forlorn estate...An estate
haunted by a beckoning evil.
Half-seen figures who glare from
dark towers and dusty windows- silent, foul phantoms who, day by day,
night by night, come closer, ever closer. With growing horror, the
helpless governess realizes the fiendish creatures want the children,
seeking to corrupt their bodies, possess their minds, own their souls...
But worse-much worse- the governess discovers that Miles and Flora have no terror of the lurking evil.
For they want the walking dead as badly as the dead want them.
My Review ★★★
liked it much more than I thought I would. I sometimes struggle with
this Gothic style of writing. The only way I can think of how to
describe it, is that it's a bit like driving on a motorway in the dark,
the road ahead is clear but then you come across some road works and a
contraflow system, you have to slow right down to navigate your way
through all of those orange and white cones which don't seem to make
sense at first, but if you slow right down it all becomes clear and you
are out on the open road again and on your way. A bit like the flow of
this book, sometimes it flowed well and then not, I would have to read
it over, in fact I read it out loud, that really helped.
A spooky little story which I would think at the time of writing, caused quite a stir.
Challenge: Pop sugar - A ghost story; A book that has inspired a common phrase or idiom (I took a bit of a liberty here with this one, if I find a better book to cover it then I'll change it)
After a long and
eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to
be his last stop. The only problem is that he's still in good health,
and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but
Allan really isn't interested (and he'd like a bit more control over his
vodka consumption). So he decides to escape. He climbs out the window
in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected
journey, involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash,
some unpleasant criminals, a friendly hot-dog stand operator, and an
elephant (not to mention a death by elephant).
It would be the
adventure of a lifetime for anyone else, but Allan has a
larger-than-life backstory: Not only has he witnessed some of the most
important events of the twentieth century, but he has actually played a
key role in them. Starting out in munitions as a boy, he somehow finds
himself involved in many of the key explosions of the twentieth century
and travels the world, sharing meals and more with everyone from Stalin,
Churchill, and Truman to Mao, Franco, and de Gaulle. Quirky and utterly
unique, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared has charmed readers across the world.
My review ★★★★
was such good fun to read, thoroughly enjoyed it. There were parts
where it did get a bit silly and dragged a bit, but take it at what it
is, a bit of humorous fun, it's not meant to change the world, although
Challenge: Pop sugar - A book set in Scandinavia
No sooner had Chris
Stewart set eyes on El Valero than he handed over a check. Now all he
had to do was explain to Ana, his wife, that they were the proud owners
of an isolated sheep farm in the Alpujarra Mountains in Southern Spain.
That was the easy part.
Lush with olive, lemon, and almond
groves, the farm lacks a few essentials—running water, electricity, an
access road. And then there's the problem of rapacious Pedro Romero, the
previous owner who refuses to leave. A perpetual optimist, whose skill
as a sheepshearer provides an ideal entrée into his new community,
Stewart also possesses an unflappable spirit that, we soon learn,
nothing can diminish. Wholly enchanted by the rugged terrain of the
hillside and the people they meet along the way—among them farmers,
including the ever-resourceful Domingo, other expatriates and
artists—Chris and Ana Stewart build an enviable life, complete with a
child and dogs, in a country far from home.
My Review: ★★★★
I've read a few books of this genre, this was as enjoyable as the others. Am amusing, easy read.
Challenge: Pop sugar - A book written by a musician (Original drummer and founding member of Genesis)
After twenty years spent
mastering the art of dressmaking at couture houses in Paris, Myrtle
“Tilly” Dunnage returns to the small Australian town she was banished
from as a child. She plans only to check on her ailing mother and leave.
But Tilly decides to stay, and though she is still an outcast, her
lush, exquisite dresses prove irresistible to the prim women of
Dungatar. Through her fashion business, her friendship with Sergeant
Farrat—the town’s only policeman, who harbors an unusual passion for
fabrics—and a budding romance with Teddy, the local football star whose
family is almost as reviled as hers, she finds a measure of grudging
acceptance. But as her dresses begin to arouse competition and envy in
town, causing old resentments to surface, it becomes clear that Tilly’s
mind is set on a darker design: exacting revenge on those who wronged
her, in the most spectacular fashion.
My review ★★★
wasn't sure about this at first. The book is divided into three parts,
the first part was a bit confusing, there were so many characters to
keep up with. Parts two & Three improved greatly, an enjoyable read.
I wasn't particularly invested in any of the characters to be honest,
the town they all lived in would be the place to keep driving through,
very fast, no matter how much you needed a pee or gas!
Challenge: Pop sugar - Two books that share the same title
Monsieur Claude Reynaud
is famous throughout France for making fabulous clothes. Living in the
quiet village of Senlis, he thinks himself too old to change, too old to
find love. Then, in a cloud of spring blossom, Mademoiselle Valentine
de Verlay arrives on his doorstep.
My review ★
dear, this really was awful, a bit like a badly acted play. I only kept
reading it because a reading challenge I'm doing required two books of
the same title. It had me shout out a few times, I couldn't possibly
repeat what those words were!
I usually drop my read books at our
village cafe where they have a bookcase full of books to swap. I'm
rather reluctant to leave it there, I'm not sure I could put another
person through that kind of torture!
Challenge: Pop sugar - Two books that share the same title; A debut novel
Frank, no ordinary
sixteen-year-old, lives with his father outsIde a remote Scottish
village. Their life is, to say the least, unconventional. Frank's mother
abandoned them years ago: his elder brother Eric is confined to a
psychiatric hospital; and his father measures out his eccentricities on
an imperial scale. Frank has turned to strange acts of violence to vent
his frustrations. In the bizarre daily rituals there is some solace. But
when news comes of Eric's escape from the hospital Frank has to prepare
the ground for his brother's inevitable return - an event that explodes
the mysteries of the past and changes Frank utterly.
The Wasp Factory
is a work of horrifying compulsion: horrifying, because it enters a
mind whose realities are not our own, whose values of life and death are
alien to our society; compulsive, because the humour and compassion of
that mind reach out to us all. A novel of extraordinary originality,
imagination and comic ferocity.
My review: ★★★★
twisted, macabre, brilliant. I went into this thinking the worst and
came out the other side rather blown away by it to be honest. Once I'd
picked it up I couldn't put it down. Not a lot else got done in the
house today, however I did manage to stop to eat, make cups of tea and
to pee. And just so it didn't look like I'd been a lazy tart all day, I
quickly run the vacuum cleaner around once I'd finished.
Challenge: BBC big read
Edwina Spinner has lived
in the same house for over fifty years. It used to be a busy, crowded
family home but now Edwina lives alone and it has grown too big for her.
She has decided to sell it.
The young estate agent who comes to
value the house sees potential. Knock down a few walls, add a wet room.
'People like a project.' But as Edwina takes him from room to room, she
is transported back to her old life as a young mother. Back to her first
husband Ollie and their twins, James and Rowena. Back to lies and dark
secrets and to a stepson whose name Edwina cannot even bear to speak
As Edwina's story unravels she is revealed as a complex
and intriguing person. Not just the 'frail old lady' trapped in her
dated house, but a woman who has lived an extraordinary life, full of
love and tragedy. Why is she now so alone? What happened to Edwina's
family all those years ago?
My review: ★★★★
I really, really liked this, our book club choice this month. Well written, great story line and believable characters.
May's book club choice
Harper Lee's Pulitzer
Prize-winning masterwork of honor and injustice in the deep South ― and
the heroism of one man in the face of blind and violent hatred.
One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird
has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than
thirty million copies worldwide, served as the basis of an enormously
popular motion picture, and was voted one of the best novels of the
twentieth century by librarians across the country.
heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South
poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and
savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father ― a
crusading local lawyer ― risks everything to defend a black man unjustly
accused of a terrible crime.
My review: ★★★★★
My second read of this novel, enjoyed it as before, if not more this time. Go set a watchman next.
Challenge: BBC big read; Pop sugar - A book you see someone reading in a movie (Seen in The perks of being a wallflower)
Go Set a Watchman is set during the mid-1950s and features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird
some twenty years later. Scout (Jean Louise Finch) has returned to
Maycomb from New York to visit her father Atticus. She is forced to
grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to
understand both her father’s attitude toward society, and her own
feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood.
My review: ★★★★
is a re-read, I've given it a 4 star as I did when I read it before. I
think I appreciated it better second time around. Also I read it
immediately after a re-read of To kill a mockingbird. Go set a watchman
was rejected by publishers at the time, I can see why, it wasn't quite
there, the characters not so well defined, the plot not as polished as
in TKAM. I found it particularly interesting to see that many passages
were re-used in TKAM, word for word it seems. So Harper Lee was on to a
good thing, it just took a rejection to get it right, if not perfect.
Some of GSAW did not tally up with TKAM's story lines, she clearly
adapted and improved upon them, for the better I feel. The characters,
such as Scout and Atticus in GSAW lacked depth, but in TKAM they were
huge. I know that some found the later book somewhat disappointing and I
fully understand why, but try reading them one after the other and
you'll come to realise, as I do, that they belong together.
Challenge: Pop sugar; I put this as a book published posthumously, but now I realise it wasn't! Bugger! Need to rethink that one.....
Christopher Banks has become the country's most celebrated detective,
his cases the talk of London society. Yet one unsolved crime has always
haunted him; the mysterious disappearance of his parents, in Old
Shanghai, when he was a small boy. Now, as the world lurches towards
total war, Banks realises the time has come for him to return to the
city of his childhood and at last solve the mystery - that only by his
doing so will civilisation be saved from the approaching catastrophe.
Moving between London and Shanghai of the inter-war years, When We Were Orphans is
a story of memory, intrigue and the need to return; of a childhood
vision of the world surviving deep into adulthood, indelibly shaping and
distorting a person's life.
My review: ★★★★
book, I wasn't entirely sure of Christopher, never quite trusting his
version of events I started to think him a bit of a wally. I did, at one
stage, think I was losing the plot and interest, then suddenly the
whole thing just made perfect sense. Good book, very well written in
what I call, proper, proper English.
June's book club choice
Challenge: Pop sugar; A book author from Asia
Celia Lashlie, justice
reform campaigner and bestselling author , brings her powerful insight
to the problems of families trapped in a spiral of crime, poverty and
abuse. She points to the reasons behind why New Zealand's rates of
imprisonment are so disastrously high, what the politicians and social
service organisations could do to improve the plight of children in at
risk families and why the system should protect be protecting them.
Lashlie uses the case studies of Maka Renata and Bailey Junior Kurariki
as examples of institutional neglect. She exposes the environment in
which they live and the pedestals upon which the media and society place
these people, and , and the negative attitudes of many within our
bureaucracy work against the efforts of the children's mother to be the
best mother she can. The Power of Mothers is a wake-up call to voter and
politician, parent and grandparent, social agency and lobby group
alike. We must do more than build prisons to hold the children we fail,
My review: ★★★★
selected 4 stars, really liked it, "like" probably isn't the best word
to use. It was however a very insightful book, very shocking and
upsetting at times. Celia doesn't hold back on her opinions concerning
New Zealand's correction facilities and/or Child Youth and family
services, as they were known at the time of publishing.
I won 6 copies of this book for our bookclub, it made for some very interesting comments and observations.
It's a must read for anyone working or choosing to work in either of the mentioned services
I want to come back to this book and dedicate a post to it.
In 1951, a young woman
from Baltimore died of cancer. Her death changed medical science for
ever. Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She
was a poor Southern tobacco farmer whose cancer cells - taken without
her knowledge - became one of the most important tools in medicine. The
first 'immortal' human tissue grown in culture, HeLa cells were vital
for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses,
and the effects of the atom bomb; helped lead to important advances like
in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought
and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta herself remains virtually
unknown, buried in an unmarked grave. Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an
extraordinary journey in search of Henrietta's story, from the
'coloured' ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to East Baltimore
today, where her children and grandchildren live, and struggle with the
legacy of her cells. Full of warmth and questing intelligence,
astonishing in scope and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of
Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery,
as well as its human consequences.
My review: ★★★★★
truly remarkable book that just about broke my heart. It reads like
some kind of horror story but you know that it's all true. It left me
feeling raw and very emotional, at times I was just downright bloody
angry, I can only imagine how her family felt. Henrietta Lacks, remember
her name because you might have treatment one day that saves your life,
and there's a good chance that the cure has something to with her
cells. The world owes her a huge debt.
June's book club choice, it's also been on my to read list for a long time. I now own a copy.
If you got through the last two posts unscathed then well done, if not then I hope I've cured your insomnia 😁😝