Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Goodreads Book Challenge 2015 - Weeks 10 - 21 A veritable book fest.

I've been a bit of a Slack Alice regarding updating the Goodreads Book challenge. I'm staying on track, sometimes I'm a book ahead and sometimes a book behind. But as I can read a book in two or three days I can soon catch up and I'm currently one book ahead.
To coincide with my self set undertaking to read 52 books in a year I've also been trying to read some from the BBC list of 100 books you should read in a lifetime. Note it says lifetime, I don't intend to try and read them in one year, I'll stick to my 52 books, thank you very much. I'll just incorporate one every now and again. This list is not to be confused with a lot of other lists claiming to be the BBC list where some of the books are different. So many lists, so I've opted for the one in the link. Surprisingly I have quite a few of those books already and I'm always on the look out for others and did find a few more to day. I'll show you that later.
Anywho, let's just bring you up to date.

Week 10
 This is a poignant novel by Dawn French which is told through the eyes of a mother and her two teenage children. Each chapter is narrated by a different voice, telling the story of a modern family, all living in their own separate bubbles, lurching towards meltdown.
My thoughtsAfter a slow start I really got into it, a fun read. 

Week 11
Generally considered to be F. Scott Fitzgerald's finest novel, The Great Gatsby is a consummate summary of the 'roaring twenties' and a devastating exposé of the shallowness of the 'Jazz Age'. Through the narration of Nick Carraway, the reader is taken into the superficially glittering world of the mansions which lined the Long Island shore in the 1920's, to encounter Nick's cousin Daisy, her brash but wealthy husband Tom Buchanan, Jay Gatsby and the dark mystery which surrounds him.
The Great Gatsby is an undisputed classic of American literature from the period following the First World War, and is one of the great novels of the twentieth century.
My thoughts: Torn between giving 2 or 3 stars, opted for 3 as I liked it more than it being just okay. Bit boring in places to be honest.
This book is on the BBC 100 books to read challenge

Week 12
In this witty and warm-hearted account, Peter Mayle tells what it is like to realize a long-cherished dream and actually move into a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the remote country of the Lubéron with his wife and two large dogs. He endures January's frosty mistral as it comes howling down the Rhône Valley, discovers the secrets of goat racing through the middle of town, and delights in the glorious regional cuisine. A Year in Provence transports us into all the earthy pleasures of Provençal life and lets us live vicariously at a tempo governed by seasons, not by days.
 My thoughts : Really enjoyed reading this, I love Peter Mayles humorous observations of the Provençal lifestyle. I'm looking forward to reading Toujours Provence soon

 Week 13
Set in 1950s Brooklyn, Laura is orphaned and her two eccentric uncles come to her rescue giving her a happy, if unconventional, childhood. She's a sparky child, feisty and streetwise but at home she's an adored princess. "Here is Lily Moore at 10, as judged by her fifth grade teacher: 'Unsatisfactory...Hair matted, uncombed, disheveled appearance. Soil under nails.' She has in addition been AWOL from school for 37 full and 38 half days...She lives in a bizarre apartment whose living room furnishings consist of a gold lame castro convertible and two pink bath mats--her choice. She shares the habitation with a senile old woman and two bachelors, one of whom habitually cooks popcorn for breakfast wearing a pith helmet...All indications to the contrary notwithstanding. Lily is living a blessed life, as depicted in Laura Cunningham's unromantic, spare, funny, enchanting memoir." --The Washington Post"A wonderfully vivid chronicle of a young girl's coming of age...funny and sad, irreverent and generous...A model memoir." --Mic
My thoughts - This was the Book Discussion Scheme selection for March.
I've just finished reading this book and I'm left feeling nothing very much at all about it. The first 3rd I found mildly disturbing. The middle 3rd was quite enjoyable, loved her Uncles and her grandmother but the last 3rd dragged on for me and I couldn't wait to get to the end. After I read the blurb on the back I thought oh I'm going to like this, I didn't really, I must have been reading a different book to everyone else. I hope the next Book Discussion Scheme choice is better that the 2 read so far.

Week 14
""That skinny Indian teenager has that mysterious something that comes along once a generation. He is one of those rare chefs who is simply born. He is an artist." "And so begins the rise of Hassan Haji, the unlikely gourmand who recounts his life's journey in Richard Morais's charming novel, "The Hundred-Foot Journey." Lively and brimming with the colors, flavors, and scents of the kitchen, "The Hundred-Foot Journey "is a succulent treat about family, nationality, and the mysteries of good taste.
Born above his grandfather's modest restaurant in Mumbai, Hassan first experienced life through intoxicating whiffs of spicy fish curry, trips to the local markets, and gourmet outings with his mother. But when tragedy pushes the family out of India, they console themselves by eating their way around the world, eventually settling in Lumiere, a small village in the French Alps.
The boisterous Haji family takes Lumiere by storm. They open an inexpensive Indian restaurant opposite an esteemed French "relais"--that of the famous chef Madame Mallory--and infuse the sleepy town with the spices of India, transforming the lives of its eccentric villagers and infuriating their celebrated neighbor. Only after Madame Mallory wages culinary war with the immigrant family, does she finally agree to mentor young Hassan, leading him to Paris, the launch of his own restaurant, and a slew of new adventures."
The Hundred-Foot Journey "is about how the hundred-foot distance between a new Indian kitchen and a traditional French one can represent the gulf between different cultures and desires. A testament to the inevitability of destiny, this is a fable for the ages--charming, endearing, and compulsively readable.

My thoughts - Best book I've read so far this year for my Goodreads reading challenge, outstanding. Now I can watch the movie. And I did watch the movie, although it was great it wasn't like the book, so was hugely disappointed in the film. 
Had I not read the book first then I would have loved the film.

 Week 15
Taking up where his beloved A Year in Provence leaves off, Peter Mayle offers us another funny, beautifully (and deliciously) evocative book about life in Provence. With tales only one who lives there could know—of finding gold coins while digging in the garden, of indulging in sumptuous feasts at truck stops—and with characters introduced with great affection and wit—the gendarme fallen from grace, the summer visitors ever trying the patience of even the most genial Provençaux, the straightforward dog "Boy"—Toujours Provence is a heart-warming portrait of a place where, if you can't quite "get away from it all," you can surely have a very good time trying.
My thoughts : Like the first book this at times had real laugh out loud moments. Slightly different in it's style than A Year in Provence was more of a month by month diary of their life and events, hence the title. This book was more anecdotal, shorts stories of some of the characters we met in the first book and of new faces. He talks of them all with great fondness and I think if I ever went to Provence, particularly to Peter Mayles neighbourhood  I would recognise some of them straight away. It conjures up a lifestyle only few of us ever get to dream about.

Week 16
A father and his son walk alone through burned America, heading through the ravaged landscape to the coast. This is the profoundly moving story of their journey. The Road boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which two people, 'each the other's world entire', are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.
My thoughts - This was the Book Discussion Scheme choice for April.
Had it not been for his odd style of writing I might have given this 5 stars. I had to reread some paragraphs because of this, it upset the flow. It's a brutal and depressing story but I do love all this end of the world stuff. Joe and I got the film out, it's a pretty good retell of the book. Joe however said afterwards that it was a book to slash your wrists to, and come the end of the world he wanted to be right under the first bomb!

Week 17
Zombies have infested a fallen America. A young girl named Temple is on the run. Haunted by her past and pursued by a killer, Temple is surrounded by death and danger, hoping to be set free.
For twenty-five years, civilization has survived in meagre enclaves, guarded against a plague of the dead. Temple wanders this blighted landscape, keeping to herself and keeping her demons inside her heart. She can't remember a time before the zombies, but she does remember an old man who took her in and the younger brother she cared for until the tragedy that set her on a personal journey toward redemption. Moving back and forth between the insulated remnants of society and the brutal frontier beyond, Temple must decide where ultimately to make a home and find the salvation she seeks.
My Thoughts - Lent to me by one of the ladies at the Book Discussion Scheme club, nobody else wanted to borrow it, they were all too depressed after reading The Road. In thisbook we ar in another post apocalyptic world where it's hard enough to survive with out having to worry about zombies too. I did not expect the end, and it was on my mind for days afterwards. I do enjoy this genre, I was a weird kid, I loved reading Stephen King and other horror books. Come the Zomnie apocalypse I will be able to defend myself against the zombies, just saying!

 Week 18
Bennett is a drifter, attracted to the good life in the South of France and willing to try anything for easy money. He ends up in trouble with some crooks trying to corner the white truffle market, his trouble taking him to yachts in the Mediterranean, Monaco and even further as the plot thickens
 My thoughts : I do like Peter Mayle and he didn't disappoint in this novel. What I especially liked is the mentions of couple of characters we met in A Year in Provence and Toujours Provence, it was like revisiting old friends, they weren't main characters however. A good easy read with a fun plot.

 Week 19
Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman's passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte's innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers.
My thoughts : I had intended to read Wide Sargasso Sea next, but after reading some reviews I got the impression that I really needed to read Jane Eyre first. So I did, I wasn't sure how I would get on with reading this book, never having read it or anything like it before. I loved it, I was totally caught up in it. At times I found the style of writing challenging but at the same time loved it. I do wonder if they did actually speak as such to one another back then, I expect they had to fill those long cold winter evenings somehow, after all they had no TV to watch ;-D
This book is on the BBC 100 books to read challenge. 

Week 20
Antoinette Cosway is a Creole heiress - product of an inbred, decadent, expatriate community - a sensitive girl at once beguiled and repelled by the lush Jamaican landscape. Soon after her marriage to Rochester rumours of madness in the Cosway family poison Rochester's mind against her.
My thoughts - Hugely disappointed with this book, maybe not such a good idea to read immediately after Jane Eyre. I'm no more informed after reading the novel than I was before about Antoinette/Bertha really. The novel I thought was a bit of a mess and I think I should have just left what happened before Jane Eyre to my imagination. Rubbish!

  Week 21
"They all crossed into forbidden territory. They all tampered with the laws that lay down who should be loved and how. And how much."
The year is 1969. In the state of Kerala, on the southernmost tip of India, fraternal twins Esthappen and Rahel fashion a childhood for themselves in the shade of the wreck that is their family. Their lonely, lovely mother, Ammu, (who loves by night the man her children love by day), fled an abusive marriage to live with their blind grandmother, Mammachi (who plays Handel on her violin), their beloved uncle Chacko (Rhodes scholar, pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher), and their enemy, Baby Kochamma (ex-nun and incumbent grandaunt). When Chacko's English ex-wife brings their daughter for a Christmas visit, the twins learn that things can change in a day, that lives can twist into new, ugly shapes, even cease forever, beside their river...
My thoughts : I don't have the words to describe how I feel about this book. It had me on page one and was incredibly hard to put down. I'd put it down, walk away, try and do something else but it was like it was calling me back. So I finished it because I had to, now I have finished it I feel bereft and my head hurts, quite possibly from hours of non stop reading. In fact I felt quite emotional. It's all I can do not to pick it up and start it all over again. Just stunning. My new fave book of the challenge.
This book is on the BBC 100 books to read challenge.

 Week 22 - Currently reading
Ras, a Sri Lankan who fled his country as a child following the violent death of his mother and his father's disappearance, has committed a crime. Dogged by his past and unable to come to terms with the killing of his mother, he struggles to make a new life for himself in the UK. Alex has loved Dee since he was 19 but failed to realise that it was a love he wouldn't find again. After Dee's marriage, he too struggles to build a meaningful life for himself. But when Ras' and Alex's lives connect, each man takes a new path culminating for Ras in the theft of a della Franceso painting, while Alex comes ever closer to Dee through tragedy in her life.
Beautifully written, with a strong narrative, The Road to Urbino is the story of two very different men and their love for the women in their lives, set against the backdrop of the heartbreaking horrors of the long-running conflict in Sri Lanka.
My thoughts - Still reading this so will get back to you, but so far so good. It's May's selection for the Book Discussion Theme.

And that wraps that up for now.
So today, there I was being a totally slovenly tart, sitting in bed with my first cuppa and some toast reading the above book , when the phone rings. It's my friend Kerry ringing to see what I was up to today. I had no major plans other than to drop my sewing machine in for a service, I'm working on a secret project and yesterday my most recent machine and the back up machine both packed a big sad and threw a real spanner in the works of making any progress. I was getting so frustrated everything nearly ended up being tossed out of the window! That's a story for another day. So what was I doing? Nothin'! (Apart from the sewing machine) Kerry was going to come out here but instead I went and picked her up, dropped the machine in for a service, did a couple of op shops, had lunch and then bumped into Sue. 
And guess what I found in the op shops, go on, guess.....did ya guess?
Yes, you guessed....books!!

So, to add to the collection of books on the BBC list

  An eclectic mix of titles, the Dam Busters I got for Joe.
 Not quite on the 100 book list, I'm looking for Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. This book I had to have, I love old books, especially books with a history.
 The dust jacket was gone but the cover is lovely
 and inside...the history, don't you love just love that, you'd never get that with a Kindle!
 It also has such beautiful illustrations. Give me a real book any day.
After bumping into Sue and having a chat for a while and before dropping Kerry back home we made a quick stop in Habitat for humanity. I found Iris (above) and a Clive Barker book, I read a couple of his way back and enjoyed them, so got this one when I saw it
I was telling Kerry how I loved in particular one of his books called Weaveworld and that I had never been able to find it in the oppies......Then! Lo and behold...
Well bugger me! The planets were aligned today obviously.

Well I reckon that's more than enough about books today, if you've got this far then very well done.

Catch up again soon

ta ra chooks


  1. You have been a busy girl - all that reading!!! I love your reviews and now have even more books on my "Hope to find time to read" list.

  2. Wow, that's quite the collection of books you've been reading. I really need to do a post on my blog-more books as usual, but nowhere near as many as you. I went to grammar school in England in the early 60's and remember reading many of the classics in 'English Literature'. I remember reading Homer- Iliad and the Odyssey, lots of Dickens, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen and everybody's favourite, Shakespeare-NOT!!! Hard to believe that was all between the ages of 10-14!!
    I have read some Dickens and Jane Austin in recent years but you couldn't pay me to read Homer or Shakespeare again. I'm going to keep a look out for those Peter Mayle books, they look like good reads.

  3. Don't you just love it when you find a book that you can't put down but can't bear the thought of finishing :0)

  4. Hello from Hamilton, Victoria, Australia! Loved this post; you have given me some new books to read. I read a lot, so it is always great to find some new recommendations.

  5. Good God! you are a flaming quick reader! for once I can say I have read one of the collection, Dawn French is a great author x x x

  6. Delurking just to say I miss your blog, I hope all is well with you and yours.

    Pat from the UK


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