Tuesday, November 25, 2014

This blog is moving!

Groupon had an offer on a WordPress training course recently, which I decided to buy.

Blogger/Blogspot is fine, but I can't really get it to look the way I would like, and despite what my family seems to think, just because I work with a particular software package doesn't mean I am particularly tech savvy.

So I have decided to do the course and work on a new WordPress blog.

You can reach it here: https://biblioaddicted.wordpress.com/

Monday, November 24, 2014

How do you choose yours?

A recent comments exchange on the lovely H’s blog post got me to thinking about how to choose my next book.  The TBR pile is growing, not diminishing, and there’s almost too much choice now.  Never too many books (no such thing!) but such a variety of choice that selecting the next book presents a little bit of a quandary.

Now it’s quite possible that I've been inspired by my role as the organiser of this years Secret Santa, but I have decided to write out the names of books on slips of paper, fold them and place them in a hat/box/tub of some sort, and pick my next book randomly.  I picked my current read this way, and hope to have a review for you soon on The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson.

I have no idea if this will work long term as a strategy, but it might mean that some of those books that have been on the TBR pile for a while (2-3 years in some cases!) actually get picked.

How do you choose your next book?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Christmas treats for myself

I have been saving hard this month thinking I had seriously overspent, but apparently I’ve done better than I thought, so I decided to celebrate by buying some books I have had my eye on for a little while.  I picked two books each from two booksellers, fairly restrained of me I thought!

From the Folio Society Christmas catalogue I bought one of my favourite ghostly childhood reads, and an intriguing sounding crime novel.  The current Folio offer is a free 2015 diary, toward which I have blog related intentions.


I also bought the first offerings from new Publisher on the block Fox, Finch and Tepper. This is the new publishing company established by Mr B’s, bookseller extraordinaire.  You can read more about the launch and the naming of the company here.


It’s not quite their first foray into publishing, they've had a hand in a couple of special editions of favoured books before, one of which is The Howling Miller by Aarto Paasilinna read and reviewed by me in early 2013.  However, it is their first release completely under their own steam.  To launch the new publishing house they've chosen the two books whose covers you can see below.  I usually love their recommendations, and if they think these two new books are good enough to launch their new publishing house, then how can I possibly resist?  I did recently finish a spa recommendation - Tim Gautreaux’s The Missing, which was fantastic, so I’m fairly eager to read more of his work.  I also love reading about Australia, it brings back wonderful memories.

As I’m not spending Christmas at home, but I will have my own tree in the build-up, I thought I’d wrap these books up and put them under the tree as my Christmas treat to myself.

As for the excellent progress I was making through my TBR shelves?  There’s always next year!

Still on my wishlist – from the Mr B’s Christmas Catalogue:  The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman.  A reimagined Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Where in the literary world are you today?

I am in 1920's America, working the steamboats along the Mississippi river while searching for a kidnapped little girl and the folks who killed my family.

What more can I say without wading knee deep into spoiler-country.  So far so excellent!

The Missing - Tim Gautreaux

Monday, November 10, 2014

And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

My new book club had this book assigned for discussion in October, and if this (and the Book Thief) planned for next month is anything to go by, I'm going to enjoy this every bit as much as my last group.

And The Mountains Echoed has been reviewed to death by now, so I won’t go into details on the plot, suffice to say a family is broken apart and through pure chance encounters manages to find its way back together, but not quickly and not without significant impact on all the family members.  No real spoilers as I think this is fairly obvious from the start.

I’d not read anything by Hosseini before, extensive hyperbole tends to put me off a book, rather than encourage me.  I did some reading about Hosseini, and his writing, and understand that this is not even considered his best work, so I’m now very tempted to move those copies of his earlier works up from where they’d been languishing at the bottom of the TBR pile.

The story scope is expansive.  It ranges backwards and forwards over several decades and continents.  The style is episodic, with each section having a different narrator, and their own distinct voice.  Each narrator goes back to a point that their part in the overall story arc started, even if they didn’t know it, and the story follows through until their part is completed.  Gradually the reader puts the pieces together, to form the whole.

All narrators have a piece of the story (except the neighbour-brother who lived in America, which wasn’t clear to me at all).  They had a direct impact on events, or were necessary to pass on a message.  The trick while reading is to not get distracted and try to remember all the threads so that you can sew it all together in your mind as the book moves on.

I have to admit that I was affected on many levels.  The writing is wonderful, the slow drip feed of the story was enough to give the characters, time and place real depth, but still keep me reading.  I ached for Pari and her brother, and felt each emotion keenly.  As I mentioned before I felt that each character had their own voice, and for those in the Western world in particular, they seemed pretty authentic to me.  My knowledge of Afghanistan is limited to news bulletins so I can honestly admit that I don’t know it is like to be a normal person in Afghanistan, which neatly brings me to my second point.

The Book Thief forced me to think about what life was like for ordinary Germans during WW2, and in the same way this forced me to be more aware of life in Afghanistan.  To my relief it wasn’t a soapbox for a rant about the war, though the war is not avoided.  The impact of the war is made clear.  What is not lost in a rant is that this is a story about the intersecting lives of one family and the people they come into contact with over a number of generations.  I’m a Sociologist by education, and for me it was utterly fascinating to perceive the change in culture and attitudes over time, and though I do not claim to be an expert in these matters, it seems to me that regardless of geography and religious beliefs we are all essentially the same.  The overwhelming impression I now have is that below the so-called civilised surface of society we all have a commonality of existence.  We all go through the same range of emotions, we all face life and death, have friendships and fall in love.

And yes, I did have a tear or two in my eyes while reading this.  If this is regarded by many as not his best work, then I do really need to read the rest.  I think this is really really good.