Archive of ‘Book Shelf’ category

Reading the year – February


For those of you who missed this post some friends and I are celebrating our love of all things literary this year by completing this reading challenge. I am loving the spark the challenge has put back into my reading – I feel motivated to read and look for the next great book and I am also enjoying hearing about what others are reading and how they are locating books for some of the trickier categories (hello “A book written by an author with your initials!!!”).

February has been my month of Young Adult (YA) fiction. I’m a huge fan of some of the current YA fiction around – there seems to be such a breadth of books to choose from in this area – more so than what I remember there being when I was a young adult myself. When can you stop classing yourself as a “young” adult?? I’m guessing 40 is a bit beyond it right??! But I still think there is so much to enjoy about reading fiction meant for a younger population.

The four books I read this month were:

Divergent – Veronica Roth – I know, I know, I’m well behind on the Veronica Roth craze. To be fair, I did attempt to read Divergent over a year ago after reading this article about the author but it was too soon after finishing The Hunger Games and the similarities were too much for me – the worlds just started to blend. I have to say I do think that The Hunger Games author, Suzanne Collins, is a better writer than Roth but I did enjoy Divergent as a piece of light entertainment. I can see why these books, and others like them, are appealing to young people so much – there are strong themes of searching for identity and a place to belong – issues that so many young people are struggling with these days.The concepts raised in the book could be quite heavy and intense but the way in which they are written kept me from getting bogged down in the gloom. I will push on with the second and third books in the trilogy (but probably only because I need to “tick off” my trilogy category!).

The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness – This is another YA novel set in a dystopian/futuristic world with similarities to our own. I read this book with the intention of making it  and it’s sequels my trilogy but I just knew after finishing this one that I couldn’t read any more! Not because it was a bad book (although it really wasn’t my cup of tea in terms of writing and structure) but because it was just too gloomy for me – too much gloom and doom and not enough hope. I need a balance with my fiction at this stage of my reading life! I’m adding this book to my “A Book set in the Future” category.

Laurinda – Alice Pung – I was really looking forward to this book as I loved the author’s memoir, Unpolished Gem when I read it a few years ago and this, her first novel has been getting some great reviews, but I have to say – I was disappointed. The book is set in a fictional exclusive, all girls high school in an Australian city and focuses on an Asian-Australian student from a lower socio-economic area moving to the school after achieving a scholarship. The student, Lucy, meets up with the “it” girls of the school and the through the novel she narrates her experiences of trying to establish where she fits in. There is some lovely scenes showing the contrast of Lucy’s home life and I love the “trick” the author has used in the narration (something I didn’t work out until right at the end) but overall the characters in the school just didn’t ring true for me – they felt like your stereotypical private school bitches with no real depth. I have placed this book in the “A Book set in high school” category.

A Spool of Blue Thread – Anne Tyler – This is actually the first book of Tyler’s I have read but I am so relieved to know that she has 19 other novels waiting because this book was close to perfection for me. I don’t mean that it was a perfect book – I’m sure there were lots of flaws along the way – but I couldn’t see them as I was enjoying getting completely caught up in the characters and the structure of this novel. This is one of those books where you are thrown into the middle of a family and you feel as though you have known them, and their stories, forever. Novels are all about the characters for me – I’ve often said I could read a book that takes place in one scene if the characters draw me in – and this book has some incredibly rich, complex, frustrating and amusing characters – a wonderful book. I have put this one in the “A Book with a colour in the title”.

How about you? What have you been reading lately?


Reading the Year – January

  Karen iphone 2015 1892

Some of my friends and I are doing this reading challenge this year. Now, before Sweet Pea came along I would have had no problems in knocking over this challenge – I was easily reading 70 – 80 books a year – my reading time knew no bounds!

Things have changed a little on the reading front…

But – I still love reading, it inspires me, informs me, entertains me, builds me. So I am trying to set aside more time for reading in my life. I have jumped into this challenge and am also attending a monthly reading/book club with some of my dear colleagues. My reading life is coming back, slowly but surely.

As a way of keeping track of my reading – and to share the experience with you all – I am going to start a monthly post all about my reading endeavours. Hopefully you will pick up some great reads to add to your TBR pile along the way…

January was a pretty good reading month – both in terms of numbers read and great books consumed. Here are the books that I got through:

The Book of Strange New Things – Michel Faber – This is definitely not my “usual” type of read but I picked up on all the hype surrounding this one and decided to give it a go – and I’m so glad I did. This is already shaping up to be one of my favourite reads of the year. As the description on the publisher’s site says it is a “genre-defying” book – something that I am usually not a fan of at all, I like a book to be clear about where it sits in terms of genre but this book is just so good I didn’t care. It is dystopian, it is a little sci-fi but really it is all about relationships, communication and identity – it is brilliant and I highly recommend it. For the purposes of the challenge this book has been filed in the “Book with more than 500 pages” category.

Wild – Cheryl Strayed – This book is receiving a lot of air time at the moment due to the movie that has just come out starring Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl. The movie is brilliant and powerful but I would encourage you to read the book first because it really packs a punch. I know the words “raw” and “emotional” and “honest” are probably over used when it comes to describing memoirs but they really are accurate when it comes to describing this book. I was hesitant about placing it on my reading list – I am NOT a hiking/camping kind of girl AT ALL but this book was incredible – once I started it I could not put it down. Read it! I’m placing this book in the “book that became a movie” category.

This House of Grief – Helen Garner – Garner is probably my favourite writer of all time – she nails it every time when it comes to narrative non fiction in my mind – and yet I still had trouble getting through this book. This was actually the second time I had attempted to read this book. The first time I got to the part where the police divers find the little boys bodies in the sunken car and I looked over at my sweet, sleeping toddler beside me and I just couldn’t go on…But this is a testament to Garner’s writing – she leaves nothing left unsaid and it makes for tight, emotional, brilliant writing. For those who don’t know the book is Garner’s account of following the trial of Robert Farquharson, a ma who was accused (and found guilty) of murdering his three young sons on Father’s Day 2005 near Melbourne. It is a tough read at times, but always evocative and reflective. I’m placing this in the “Book based on a true story” category.

Glitter and Glue – Kelly Corrigan – This was a book I came across when browsing through Amazon one day (as you do!). It is an easy read, but challenging in some ways too. The author is telling the story of the relationship with her own mother through the memories of her time in Australia working as a nanny for a widower and his two young children. I know this sounds like quite heavy stuff, and it definitely is in places, but it is also funny and revealing. I really loved it. I’m putting this one in the “Book you can finish in a day” category.

Eva Luna – Isabel Allende – This was actually the first Allende book I have read but judging from my reaction it won’t be my last. This is a haunting book in so many ways – a feisty, powerful, admirable main character and musical, mystical language combine so well that even in the quieter parts (of which there are not that many) you are holding on for the next part of the story with bated breath, just gorgeous. I am placing this book in the “Book that was originally written in a different language” category.

How about you? What have you been reading lately? Any good recommendations for my challenge??


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