25 September, 2011

Jane Eyre

Title: Jane Eyre
Author: Charlotte Bronte
Genre: Classic Fiction
Audience: Adult
Format: Personal collection

Synopsis: Jane Eyre, an orphan leaves her school to become a governess at Thornfield Hall. There she meets and falls in love with her master, Mr Rochester. But he holds a terrible secret that threatens not only his happiness, but Jane's as well.

What I thought:   A friend and I went and saw this at the movies the other day and thoroughly enjoyed it. As with most of the classics, I am only inspired to read them after some other catalyst pushes me into in. Mr Pip encouraged me to read Great Expectations, I Am the Messenger encouraged me to read Wuthering Heights. Often, when I do read them, I'm not impressed, I find the language so difficult it hampers the enjoyment of the story. While I would be in no hurry to read this again, I did enjoy it. I'm not sure whether having seen the film I was more able to follow the story or whether I'm simply maturing as a reader! Either way, it was no where near the struggle I often find with the classics. I was able to pick out the bits the film had changed or omitted as well as get a great understanding of the main events in the book. I have had a mind to read all of Jane Austen's works, given they are referred to so frequently and once again, inspired by a book I have already read - Jane Austen Ruined my Life. I'm now thinking it would be worth my while to watch them first, it may ease the pain!

Recommended for: lovers of the classics.

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, TwentyEleven Challenge, A-Z Challenge

24 September, 2011

The Color of Magic

Title: The Color of Magic
Author: Terry Pratchett
Genre: Fantasy/ Comedy Fiction
Audience: Adult
Format: Book – Library

Synopsis: Rincewind, the failed wizard, has been entrusted with keeping Twoflower, the tourist, alive and well. Not such an easy thing in the Discworld. (a world balanced on the back of four elephants that are carried on the back of the great turtle, A'Tuin) Their adventures will take them from the city of Ankh- Morpork to the very edge of the disc - all with the luggage following!

What I thought:   Anyone who has every read fantasy and then read Pratchett will recognise what a genius the man is! The Color of Magic is the first of the Discworld novels (first published 1983). It introduces the weird and wonderful world of the Dic, Rincewind the wizard (sort of), Twoflower and, of course, the extremely loyal luggage with legs.Not only does Pratchett managed to provide a rollicking good read, he provides thoughtful commentary on many social issues as well as sending you the more stereotypical aspects of fantasy. A must read for any fantasy nut!

Recommended for: lovers of quality fantasy and any who want a good laugh.

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, TwentyEleven Challenge

The Echo

Title: The Echo
Author: Minette Walters
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Adult
Format: Book – Library

Synopsis: Billy Blake, a homeless vagrant, turns up dead from starvation in Amanda Powell's garage. For reasons unknown to anyone, she pays for his fuenral. Michael Deacon, a hardened journalist, decides to look into why a wealthy single woman would pay for the funeral of a homeless man. Why is Amanda Powell so interested in finding out who Billy Blake really was?

What I thought:   enjoyed this as I do most Minette Walters books. Once again, her story line is fresh and not simply a rehash of something written before. I did find myself getting a little lost though with all the characters and their connections to each other. In the end, all questions are answered, but the tangled web weaved to create the story left me feeling that I might have missed something.

Recommended for: lovers of quality crime fiction and Minette Walters fans.

Challenges: 100+ Challenge,

Every Last One

Title: Every Last One
Author: Anna Quindlen
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Adult
Format: Book – Library

Synopsis: Mary Beth has a pretty good life. Her husband is a respected ophthalmologist and she herself runs a successful landscaping business. Their three children, 17 year old Ruby, and 14 year old twins Alex and Matt provide their share of concerns - but don't all kids? Then one day a single, senseless, violent act turns Mary Beth's life upside down. Can she rebuild and find a way to go on?

What I thought:  picked this up on recommendation from Sheila over at Book Journey. To be honest, while is sounded good, I saw it as a perfect opportunity for fill in the Q author in my A-Z Challenge! It takes quite awhile for you to get to "the event." In fact, I was starting wonder if it would ever happen. In fact, what this served to do was draw you into the family life, so when it happened, it hit you as hard as it hits them. From that point on, I couldn't put the book down. For me, it rings with authenticity. Without going into too much detail, Mary Beth suffers a terrible loss. I follow a blog called Random Ramblings of a Stay at Home Mum. Lori suffered a different, but equally shattering loss which she has blogged about extensively. Much of the emotion and feelings she expresses and explores on her blog were echoed in this book. For me this indicated the author has either some knowledge of this level of pain or has done her research. Every Last One is not easy to read, it's emotionally draining and can lead you mind into areas you may not want to explore. But it does remind you there are those that have no choice but to venture into those areas. A hidden gem.

Recommended for: people who like books that tell it how it is!

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, A-Z Challenge

The Bugalugs Bum Thief

Title: The Bugalugs Bum Thief
Author: Tim Winton
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Children's
Format: Audio Book

Synopsis: All the bums in Bugalugs have been stolen. It's terrible - no one's pants stay up, sitting down is impossible and really, people look silly without bums! It's up to Sketta Anderson to find out what happened to all the bums of Bugalugs.

What I thought: Hilarious! I got this on talking book and my kids loved it! Seriously, you don't want to consider what would happen if your bum disappeared. Winton deals with it with typical Aussie humour. The end is fantastic. If you have young kids, this is a must - you will all end up rolling around the floor laughing.

Recommended for: those who want a good laugh!

Challenges: 100+ Challenge,

21 September, 2011

The Winds of Heaven

Title: The Winds of Heaven
Author: Judith Clarke
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Book – Library

Synopsis: Fran and Clemetine are cousins with very different lives. Clemetine lives in Sydney with loving parents. She likes school and does well. Fran lives at Lake Conapaira with a mother who takes her rage out on Fran. She's not good and school and constantly told she is a dummy. But the two cousins are as close as sisters. Winds of Heaven traces the two girls lives from the early 50's through the early 60's as they grow into adults.

What I thought: This is the last of the 2010 Children's Book Council Young Adult shortlisted books. In fact it was an Honour Book. I found it slow to start with, but it picked up as it went. It provided a great contrast between the paths open to girls during that period and how important opportunity was in how your life turned out. What was also interesting is how in the beginning Clemetine envied where Fran lived, her freedom and where she got to play. Towards the end, Fran envied Clemetine her life. The grass is always greener...

Recommended for: those interested in Australian YA fiction.

Challenges: 100+ Challenge,  For the love of YA Challenge, Aussie YA Challenge

Angel in the Rubble

Title: Angel in the Rubble
Author: Genelle Guzman-McMillan
Genre: Non fiction
Audience: Adult
Format: Book – Personal copy

Synopsis: Genelle Guzman-McMillan was the last survivor to be pulled out of the rubble of the twin towers. She survived 27 hours trapped after the second tower collapsed while she in the stairwell of the thirteenth floor. This is her story of survival.

What I thought:  heard Genelle speaking on the radio on a Monday while in the car and immediately went and bought the book. I read it the same day. Her story is compelling and amazing. I am not a religious person, but I believe in God or some higher power. Not surprisingly, during her 27 hour ordeal, Genelle rediscovered a faith she not so much lost, but forgotten. The truly inspiring part of this story however, is how she maintained and built on her personal belief and relationship with God. She has not got out and then forgotten all the things she promised if He would save her. Towards the end of her ordeal, Genelle reached up through a small hole and felt someone grab her hand. He told her his name was Paul and they were coming to get her. In the radio interview when she related that, I teared up. "How amazing," I thought "to have that person find you." Paul left and let the rescuers get Genelle out. As she recovered, she tried to find Paul. After all, he had stayed with her, told her the rescuers were getting closer. But she could never find him - there was no Paul in that area that day. The men who pulled her from the rubble didn't see anyone else. At that point in the story, shivers ran down my spine. As she said, whether he was real or not, man or not, he will forever be her angel.

Recommended for: people who like a story of adversity - especially with a religious angle.

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, TwentyEleven Challenge,

20 September, 2011

A Small Free Kiss in the Dark

Title: A Small Free Kiss in the Dark
Author: Glenda Millard
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Book – Library

Synopsis:Skip leaves an unbearable situation to live on the streets, It's not ideal, but it's better once he meets Billy, a veteran of living rough. But the bombing of the city finds Skip and Billy caring for Max. A little later they are joined by Tia and her baby - Sixpence. Can this group of misfits and outcasts stay together and survive this war? 

What I thought: This is the second last of the 2010 Children's Book Council Young Adult shortlisted books. In fact it was an Honour Book. I started reading it with having absolutely no idea what it was about - I didn't even read the blurb! The war angle therefore, came as a surprise to me! In the end, something didn't gel for me. I enjoyed it, but wasn't desperate to read it. My feelings about it are very neutral. I was happy to read it, but don't think I would have missed it if I hadn't.

Recommended for: those interested in Australian YA fiction.

Challenges: 100+ Challenge,  For the love of YA Challenge, Aussie YA Challenge

The Thompson Gunner

Title: The Thompson Gunner
Author: Nick Earls
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Adult
Format: Book – Library

Synopsis: Meg is a successful Australian stand up comedian. However, things from her childhood in Northern Ireland are starting to surface and while on the surface she looks like she is still in control, the reality is things beyond her control are making her ask questions she's avoided for years. But eventually the past need to be faced. The question is, will it save her, or break her completely?

What I thought: I struggled to get inot this, but by the end I was engrossed. This is different from most of Earls stuff to date. Darker, a more serious topic and he pulled it off with class. I didn't pick the end. It was obvious something had happened in Northern Ireland, but I didn't think it was that!
The story jumps between times and places but it's easy to follow - especially the bits in Northern Ireland during Meg's childhood. The other two settings are only weeks apart but were easily distinguished by the weather! Canada in winter and Perth in summer. Once again, Earls characters are easy to identify with and like. They have their flaws, making them believable and likeable.

Recommended for: people who have enjoy other works of Nick Earls

Challenges: 100+ Challenge

I'm a bit behind...

Haven't posted any reviews for September!! I have been reading and I have them written down! I'm planning to get them up in the next week. Stay tuned!