Category Archives: book challenge 2017

Book challenge 2017 update

Wow! This is not going well! I am learning that I can’t plan my reading very in advance. Too much amazing new shiny stuff catches my eye. Still, I’m reading lots, and I won’t feel bad for reading what I feel like ūüėÄ

The idea behind this reading challenge is detailed here. I read one book off the list over the last three months! Holidays On Ice – David Sedaris. I still want to read more of them – and have copies of quite a few waiting on my bookshelves.

Wonder if I can beat my record over the next three months and maybe read two more? ūüėÄ

Here’s the updated list.

  • The Five People You Meet in Heaven¬†by Mitch Albom
  • ¬†Little Women¬†by Louisa May Alcott
  • The Kitchen Boy¬†by Robert Alexander
  • Brick Lane¬†by Monica Ali¬†¬†
  • Oryx and Crake¬†by Margaret Atwood¬†¬†
  • Emma¬†by Jane Austen¬†¬†
  • Sense and Sensibility¬†by Jane Austen¬†
  • Oracle Night¬†by Paul Auster¬†¬†
  • Fahrenheit 451¬†by Ray Bradbury¬†(review)
  • Jane Eyre¬†by Charlotte Bronte
  • The Master and Margarita¬†by Mikhail Bulgakov¬†¬†
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay¬†by Michael Chabon
  • The Awakening¬†by Kate Chopin¬†(review)
  • The Meaning of Consuelo¬†by Judith Ortiz Cofer
  • Heart of Darkness¬†by Joseph Conrad
  • Fat Land¬†: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World¬†by Greg Critser
  • Cousin Bette¬†by Honore De Balzac
  • Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia De Burgos¬†by Julia De Burgos
  • The Red Tent¬†by Anita Diamant¬†¬†
  • David Copperfield¬†by Charles Dickens
  • Crime and Punishment¬†by Fyodor Dostoevsky¬†¬†
  • An American Tragedy¬†by Theodore Dreiser
  • The Bielski Brothers¬†by Peter Duffy
  • The Count of Monte Cristo¬†by Alexandre Dumas
  • Ella Minnow Pea¬†by Mark Dunn¬†
  • The Name of the Rose¬†by Umberto Eco¬†¬†
  • Middlesex¬†by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • The Sound and The Fury¬†by William Faulkner
  • Time and Again¬†by Jack Finney
  • The Great Gatsby¬†by F. Scott Fitzgerald¬†¬†
  • A Passage to India¬†by E.M. Forster
  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl¬†by Anne Frank
  • Bee Season¬†by Myla Goldberg
  • Lord of the Flies¬†by William Golding¬†¬†
  • Autobiography of a Face¬†by Lucy Grealy
  • My Life in Orange¬†by Tim Guest
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time¬†by Mark Haddon¬†
  • The Scarlet Letter¬†by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Sacred Time¬†by Ursula Hegi
  • The Sun Also Rises¬†by Ernest Hemingway
  • Siddhartha¬†by Hermann Hesse
  • Seabiscuit: An American Legend¬†by Laura Hillenbrand
  • Rescuing Patty Hearst¬†by Virginia Holman
  • A Quiet Storm¬†by Rachel Howzell Hall
  • The Polysyllabic Spree¬†by Nick Hornby¬†(review)
  • Songbook¬†by Nick Hornby
  • The Kite Runner¬†by Khaled Hosseini
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame¬†by Victor Hugo¬†¬†
  • Brave New World¬†by Aldous Huxley
  • How the Light Gets In¬†by M. J. Hyland
  • The Lottery: And Other Stories¬†by Shirley Jackson
  • Nervous System¬†by Jan Lars Jensen¬†¬†
  • The Metamorphosis¬†by Franz Kafka¬†(review)
  • The Story of My Life¬†by Helen Keller¬†(review)
  • On The Road¬†by Jack Kerouac
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo‚Äôs Nest¬†by Ken Kesey
  • Flowers for Algernon¬†by Daniel Keyes
  • The Secret Life of Bees¬†by Sue Monk Kidd¬†
  • A Separate Peace¬†by John Knowles
  • Extravagance¬†by Gary Krist
  • The Namesake¬†by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • The Devil in the White City¬†by Erik Larson¬†
  • The Song of Names¬†by Norman Lebrecht
  • The Fortress of Solitude¬†by Jonathan Lethem
  • Small Island¬†by Andrea Levy
  • Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West¬†by Gregory Maguire
  • A Month Of Sundays¬†by Julie Mars
  • Life of Pi¬†by Yann Martel¬†
  • Property¬†by Valerie Martin
  • The Razor‚Äôs Edge¬†by W. Somerset Maugham
  • The Nanny Diaries¬†by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†
  • Quattrocento¬†by James McKean
  • Death of a Salesman¬†by Arthur Miller¬†¬†
  • Beloved¬†by Toni Morrison¬†(review)
  • Speak, Memory¬†by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books¬†by Azar Nafisi
  • The Time Traveler‚Äôs Wife¬†by Audrey Niffenegger¬†¬†
  • How to Breathe Underwater¬†by Julie Orringer
  • 1984¬†by George Orwell¬†
  • When the Emperor Was Divine¬†by Julie Otsuka
  • Bel Canto¬†by Ann Patchett¬†(review)
  • Truth & Beauty¬†by Ann Patchett
  • The Portable Dorothy Parker¬†by Dorothy Parker
  • My Sister‚Äôs Keeper¬†by Jodi Picoult
  • The Bell Jar¬†by Sylvia Plath¬†¬†
  • Complete Tales & Poems¬†by Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Fountainhead¬†by Ayn Rand
  • Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers¬†by Mary Roach
  • The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters¬†by Elisabeth Robinson
  • The God of Small Things¬†by Arundhati Roy
  • Empire Falls¬†by Richard Russo
  • The Catcher in the Rye¬†by J.D. Salinger¬†(review)
  • Sybil¬†by Flora Schreiber
  • The Lovely Bones¬†by Alice Sebold
  • Holidays on Ice¬†by David Sedaris (review)
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day¬†by David Sedaris¬†(review)
  • Hamlet¬†by William Shakespeare
  • Pygmalion¬†by George Bernard Shaw
  • Frankenstein¬†by Mary Shelley¬†(review)
  • Unless¬†by Carol Shields
  • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress¬†by Dai Sijie
  • The Jungle¬†by Upton Sinclair
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn¬†by Betty Smith¬†(review)
  • Of Mice and Men¬†by John Steinbeck
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde¬†by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Uncle Tom‚Äôs Cabin¬†by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • The Opposite of Fate¬†by Amy Tan
  • Vanity Fair¬†by William Makepeace Thackeray
  • Anna Karenina¬†by Leo Tolstoy¬†¬†
  • A Confederacy of Dunces¬†by John Kennedy Toole
  • The Song Reader¬†by Lisa Tucker
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn¬†by Mark Twain
  • Just a Couple of Days¬†by Tony Vigorito
  • Galapagos¬†by Kurt Vonnegut¬†(review)
  • Ethan Frome¬†by Edith Wharton
  • Night¬†by Elie Wiesel¬†(review)
  • The Picture Of Dorian Gray¬†by Oscar Wilde¬†¬†
  • The Code of the Woosters¬†by P. G. Wodehouse
  • Old School¬†by Tobias Wolff
  • The Shadow of the Wind¬†by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
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Summer Book Challenge wrap up! #20booksofsummer

How did I do?

I struggled to get through my books in August, but almost managed it – getting up to nineteen books altogether. I was totally on track, but I had a close family bereavement at the end of July and this has been very difficult to deal with. So I’m really very happy with how I got on overall. I thought about squeezing in a really short book on the last day, but I just didn’t have the energy. I’m also a few books behind with my reviews, but I’m sure I’ll get back on track soon.

Throughout this challenge I’ve definitely had it reinforced to me that I can not plan what I will read very far in advance! There is just no point. I need to read what I feel like reading at the time.

Here’s my list of twenty books I originally planned to read, with the books I actually read in red. Any that were in addition to the original list of 20 are added beyond book twenty. So I ended up reading twelve that weren’t on my original list, and only seven I planned to back in May.

  1. The Essex Serpent ‚Äď Sarah Perry¬†(review)
  2. Everything I Never Told You ‚Äď Celeste Ng¬†(review)
  3. Reservoir 13 ‚Äď Jon McGregor¬†(review)
  4. the Invisible Man ‚Äď Ralph Ellison
  5. Hope in the Dark ‚Äď Rebecca Solnit
  6. Men Explain Things to Me ‚Äď Rebecca Solnit¬†(review)
  7. Nobody Told Me ‚Äď Holly McNish
  8. Dear Fatty ‚Äď Dawn French
  9. Oryx and Crake ‚Äď Margaret Atwood
  10. The Power ‚Äď Naomi Alderman¬†(review)
  11. The Lottery (and other stories) ‚Äď Shirley Jackson
  12. Half of a Yellow Sun¬†‚Äď Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  13. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks ‚Äď Rebecca Skloot
  14. The Jungle ‚Äď Upton Sinclair
  15. A Quiet Storm ‚Äď Rachel Howzell Hall
  16. How to Build a Girl ‚Äď Caitlin Moran
  17. The Road ‚Äď Cormac McCarthy
  18. The Girl of Ink and Stars ‚Äď Kiran Millwood Hargrave¬†(review)
  19. Wonder ‚Äď RJ Palacio
  20. The Color Purple ‚Äď Alice Walker
  21. Queen of Spades ‚Äď Michael Shou-Yung Shum
  22. Living the Dream ‚Äď Lauren Berry¬†(review)
  23. Inferior ‚Äď Angela Saini¬†(review)
  24. Holidays On Ice ‚Äď David Sedaris¬†(review)
  25. The Unseen ‚Äď Roy Jacobsen¬†(review)
  26. Nasty Women ‚Äď 404Ink¬†(review)
  27. All Grown Up ‚Äď Jami Attenberg¬†(review)
  28. Anger Is An Energy ‚Äď John Lydon¬†(review)
  29. The Seed Collectors – Scarlett Thomas (review)
  30. How Hard Can Love Be? – Holly Bourne (review)
  31. Lincoln In The Bardo – George Saunders (review)
  32. The Beautiful Bureaucrat – Helen Philips

I’ve really enjoyed this challenge. It’s motivated me to get through a few more books than I otherwise might have. I’m sure I’ll do something similar next year!

Book Review: Holidays On Ice – David Sedaris

All the stories in this collection have a Xmas, Halloween, or Easter connection in them somewhere. There are some real gems, especially where Sedaris is writing as himself. The stories where he is writing pure fiction often fall a little flat, though I enjoyed¬†Front Row Center with Thaddeus Bristol, where school Xmas plays are reviewed as serious theatre. All the stories are veerrrrryyyyy dark, which you’d hopefully expect if you know David Sedaris at all. His fiction stories are ultra dark. We’re talking vantablack.¬†

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I listened to this audiobook and it’s the perfect way to experience ¬†David Sedaris because you get so much from the way he tells a story. There were parts of it where I was cackling like a witch on my commute to work. This was mostly during 6-8 Black Men, a tale about the Dutch Xmas story. It’s one of the final few stories and these last few seem to have been added to the audio book at a later date because they aren’t listed as being in the original, and I think I’ve heard them on the radio before too. Jesus Shaves (also in Me Talk Pretty One Day) is similarly about trying to explain the Easter story during a beginners french class.

Originally published in 1997, re-released in 2008, there’s been plenty of time to add them. It feels like they have been added because the original stories are not that great. Dinah, the Christmas Whore is the stand out from the original stories, and unsurprisingly, is written from his point of view. It’s about his sister Lisa taking him out on a late night mission to rescue a prostitute from her abusive boyfriend. With hilarious consequences!!!!

I have neglected to talk about the main story that the book opens with SantaLand Diaries. An account of a 33 year old David’s stint as a Christmas Elf at Macy’s. So good. We all know that these stories of David’s life are not all 100% factual, and hopefully you all don’t care either!

This is my second Sedaris of the year. I read Me Talk Pretty One Day¬†earlier in the year. I’m quite sure I’m going to read all his books, and I have kindle versions of the others already. The only question now is, do I read them, or find the audiobooks?!?

2017 Reading Challenge – 6 month update

This is the first time I‚Äôve tried to restrict my reading to books from a specific list. It‚Äôs just not really working for me in the way I‚Äôd originally hoped. I read 11 of the books in the first 3 months and only 3 in the last 3 months! Oooooops. I’ve just been majorly distracted by other books. I have got at least 16 of them ready to read and in my possession so I need to make space to get through them. A few I’ve bought specifically to read soon, but keep shelving them.

I don’t think I will bother with trying to forward plan my reading so closely again. It just doesn’t work for me!!!! and really the last thing I need is to feel bad for any reading I’ actually doing, or to feel guilty that i’m off list. How completely absurd.

Still, it’s true that most of the 35 books I’ve read from this list are really good. I still feel strongly that future favourites are hidden in the unread ones.

Here’s the updated list with the ones I’ve read in red:

  • The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
  • ¬†Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • The Kitchen Boy by Robert Alexander
  • Brick Lane by Monica Ali¬†¬†
  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood¬†¬†
  • Emma by Jane Austen¬†¬†
  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen¬†
  • Oracle Night by Paul Auster¬†¬†
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (review)
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov¬†¬†
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
  • The Awakening by Kate Chopin (review)
  • The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  • Fat Land¬†: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
  • Cousin Bette by Honore De Balzac
  • Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia De Burgos by Julia De Burgos
  • The Red Tent by Anita Diamant¬†¬†
  • David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky¬†¬†
  • An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
  • The Bielski Brothers by Peter Duffy
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  • Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn¬†
  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco¬†¬†
  • Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner
  • Time and Again by Jack Finney
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald¬†¬†
  • A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  • Bee Season by Myla Goldberg
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding¬†¬†
  • Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
  • My Life in Orange by Tim Guest
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon¬†
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  • Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
  • Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
  • Rescuing Patty Hearst by Virginia Holman
  • A Quiet Storm by Rachel Howzell Hall
  • The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby (review)
  • Songbook by Nick Hornby
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo¬†¬†
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • How the Light Gets In by M. J. Hyland
  • The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
  • Nervous System by Jan Lars Jensen¬†¬†
  • The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (review)
  • The Story of My Life by Helen Keller (review)
  • On The Road by Jack Kerouac
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo‚Äôs Nest by Ken Kesey
  • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes¬†¬†
  • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd¬†¬†
  • A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  • Extravagance by Gary Krist
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson¬†
  • The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
  • The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
  • Small Island by Andrea Levy
  • Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
  • A Month Of Sundays by Julie Mars
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel¬†
  • Property by Valerie Martin
  • The Razor‚Äôs Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
  • The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†
  • Quattrocento by James McKean
  • Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller¬†¬†
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison (review)
  • Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
  • The Time Traveler‚Äôs Wife by Audrey Niffenegger¬†¬†
  • How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
  • 1984 by George Orwell¬†
  • When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
  • Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (review)
  • Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett
  • The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
  • My Sister‚Äôs Keeper by Jodi Picoult
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath¬†¬†
  • Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  • Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
  • The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  • Empire Falls by Richard Russo
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (review)
  • Sybil by Flora Schreiber
  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  • Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (review)
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  • Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley¬†(review)
  • Unless by Carol Shields
  • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
  • The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (review)
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Uncle Tom‚Äôs Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • The Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan
  • Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray¬†
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy¬†¬†
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  • The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito
  • Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut (review)
  • Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
  • Night by Elie Wiesel (review)
  • The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde¬†¬†
  • The Code of the Woosters by P. G. Wodehouse
  • Old School by Tobias Wolff
  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

20 Books of Summer Reading Challenge #20booksofsummer

I’m not very good with planning my reading ahead of when I actually pick up a book and get started with it, so it’s with some trepidation that I’m putting together a list for the 20 books of summer challenge (I found out about it over at 746books).

I already know I’ll read at least 4 books for book club – I know what 3 of them will be at the moment, so need to leave a spare place… but I haven’t… I also have a few books I’m already part way into that I will definitely finish over the next few months. I will add a couple of classics, and a few trashier ones. I have to add some books from my year long challenge that isn’t quite working out as I expected – need all the help I can get with this, so making sure a few are from that challenge on this list will help! I’m also adding a few books I *really* want to read soon.

I’m lucky that I will have a 6 week holiday to help me out with this challenge! *high fives fellow teachers*

  1. The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry
  2. Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng
  3. Reservoir 13 – Jon McGregor
  4. the Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
  5. Hope in the Dark – Rebecca Solnit
  6. Men Explain Things to Me – Rebecca Solnit
  7. Nobody Told Me – Holly McNish
  8. Dear Fatty – Dawn French
  9. Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood
  10. The Power – Naomi Alderman
  11. The Lottery (and other stories) – Shirley Jackson
  12. Half of a Yellow Sun РChimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  13. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
  14. The Jungle – Upton Sinclair
  15. A Quiet Storm – Rachel Howzell Hall
  16. How to Build a Girl – Caitlin Moran
  17. The Road – Cormac McCarthy
  18. The Girl of Ink and Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave
  19. Wonder – RJ Palacio
  20. The Color Purple – Alice Walker

I’m going to reserve the right to make some swaps if I need to!

Anyone else want to join in? ūüėÄ

Book Review: The Awakening – Kate Chopin

A rich, married woman in 1890s New Orleans falls in love with a young man. She realises that she is completely dissatisfied with her life as a mother and housewife, and sets about changing her life so she is happy with it. A really evocative book about a woman’s rejection of society, and her discovery of who she really is.

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Edna Pontellier has what seems to be a pretty nice life. Her husband is a kind man – he doesn’t believe in ordering his wife about, or even worse. Her role is to, well, lounge about entertaining people from what I can gather. But she isn’t passionately in love with her husband. When she spends a summer in the company of Robert Lebrun she slowly realises that she is unfulfilled and desperately unhappy with the mundanity of life. She craves independence and passion.

An indescribable oppression, which seemed to generate in some unfamiliar part of her consciousness, filled her whole being with a vague anguish

As an insight into Edna’s state of mind, it’s really insightful, convincing, and beautifully written. A criticism would be that clearly Edna’s life is actually not that bad. She has an ok husband, who provides for her, is generous, and is supportive of her (so long as she behaves in away that fits in with societal expectations of her). She is expected to care for their children when their maid is not around, but she’s quite free to socialise as she likes. I’m not saying she should just put up with being unhappy, just that she actually has a whole lot of options – especially given that during the story she realises that with her paintings becoming better, she has a means to support herself.

She is quite indifferent to her children. She doesn’t have much to do with their day to day upbringing and she sends them away fairly often to her family.

She was fond of her children in an uneven, impulsive way. She would sometimes gather them passionately to her heart; she would sometimes forget them.

What The Awakening does really well is to describe how a daily life, living up to other peoples expectations of how she should behave, can grind you down and make you miserable. Edna decides to change things in her life…

Mr Pontellier had been a rather courteous husband so long as he met a certain tacit submissiveness in his wife. But her new and unexpected line of conduct completely bewildered him. It shocked him. Then her absolute disregard for her duties as a wife angered him. When Mr Pontellier became rude, Edna grew insolent. She had resolved to never take another step backward.

Her action so far had been to ditch her usual Tuesday receiving and visiting of other society ladies. Scandalous! It’s admirable how once Edna sets out to free herself she goes for it without giving a fuck what anyone else thinks.

…she had resolved never again to belong to another than herself.

You need to be aware that as it was written in the 1890s there is a lot of racist language used in the descriptions of the staff they have serving their lives. There are specific words used to describe people that refer to the colour of their parents. In fact, these terms are used in place of their names. They are just referred to as ‘the …..’ or ‘the ……’ in reference to their skin colour. The lady that brings up Edna’s children is not even given a name.

Given that the whole plot is driven by infidelity, or the idea of it, it is almost devoid of sexual interaction. This is not Jilly Cooper. When an illicit kiss happens it’s description is electric, and it’s a refection of the whole plot that she is the instigator:

She leaned over and kissed him – a soft, cool, delicate kiss, whose voluptuous sting penetrated his whole being – then she moved away from him.

It’s a fleeting glimpse into one character, but this small insight into the douchery of Robert is spectactular:

He looked at Edna’s book, which he had read; and he told her the end, to save her the trouble of wading through it, he said.

Un.be.liev.able. Run away, Edna! He’s a bad ‘un!

Book Review: Bel Canto – Ann Patchett

Oh wow, this book is beautiful. Beautiful. I’m so sad I’ve finished – I wanted to keep reading it for a while longer. I was never bored reading Bel Canto, and I couldn’t wait to find out how it all turned out. You are kept waiting and don’t get any resolution until the last few pages. It’s mainly about love, and falling in love, but it’s more than that and it’s captivating. It’s also about opera. I’m not an opera fan – you absolutely don’t need to be to enjoy this book.

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I won’t give any spoilers here – I wouldn’t want to ruin this book for anyone who hasn’t read it. If you haven’t read it I urge you to put it on your to-read pile and give it a go ūüôā I picked this up in a charity shop a few weeks ago because it is on my book challenge list for this year. I had no idea what it was about, but a twitter friend commented that it was a great book. I was sold, bumped it up my reading list, and it didn’t disappoint.

An unnamed south american country is trying to gain the business of a large Japanese electronics firm by holding a birthday party for its chief executive, Katsumi Hosokawi. He has no intention of investing in the country, but was persuaded to attend because they have managed to secure the internationally famous soprano, Roxane Coss, to sing at the event. Mr Hosokawi is a huge opera fan. Miss Coss is a phenomenal singer and people fall in love with her and/or her voice when she sings. The birthday party is well attended by many internationally important people who want the business of Mr Hosokawi’s company.

After the last note has been sung by Roxane Coss, terrorists storm the room to kidnap the country’s president. Unfortunately he didn’t attend the party because it clashed with his favourite soap opera. The terrorists have no back up plan and decide to keep the party guests hostage. This sets up the main events in the novel, and we are left with a cast of hostages and terrorists all cooped up in the large residence of the vice president.

The main characters are all interesting and the relationships between characters is the driving force of the novel. We don’t get to find out what’s happening outside of the house where the hostages are being held. I don’t want to give away any of the plot, but several characters fall in love, people make discoveries about themselves, and question what they have done with their lives so far.

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his and hers swimming lesson reads

I loved this book and I think I need to re-read the last chapter again just to go over it more slowly. I read it so fast because I just needed to find out how it all worked out. Sobbing, obviously, because it’s that sort of book. It reminded me of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin in that respect (one of my favourites, and the first book that had me in tears at the end). A good look for the swimming lessons waiting area, I think you’d agree ūüôā