Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Thirteen Reasons Why By Jay Asher

I just finished Jay Asher's 'Thirteen Reasons Why' - I don't know what to say - such an important book with such important messages, but so much to process. Am not able to review this book yet as I don't quite know what I feel. I will come back to review 'Thirteen Reasons Why' when I have taken it all in.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Books read in April!

I am desperately trying to catch up in my Goodreads challenge to read 100 books this year!! Here is what I read in April:




Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Teaser Tuesday - Dance of Shadows By Yelena Black

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share 2 “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This weeks Teaser Tuesday is a special one for me because my dearest friend, Scott Gardiner, composed the beautiful music that you will hear in the trailer below. I hope you love it as much as I do! Plus, as you all know, I do love beautiful cover art! I am really excited to start this book today so my teaser comes from the kindle edition at 3% p.12:

" And as the rain trickled down the windowpanes, Vanessa performed, letting all of the grief pour out of her until she could feel nothing but the raw thumping of her heart."

Here is the synopsis from GoodReads if you are interested:

Dancing with someone is an act of trust. Elegant and intimate; you're close enough to kiss, close enough to feel your partner's heartbeat. But for Vanessa, dance is deadly – and she must be very careful who she trusts . . .
Vanessa Adler attends an elite ballet school – the same one her older sister, Margaret, attended before she disappeared. Vanessa feels she can never live up to her sister's shining reputation. But Vanessa, with her glorious red hair and fair skin, has a kind of power when she dances – she loses herself in the music, breathes different air, and the world around her turns to flames . . . 
Soon she attracts the attention of three men: gorgeous Zep, mysterious Justin, and the great, enigmatic choreographer Josef Zhalkovsky. When Josef asks Vanessa to dance the lead in the Firebird, she has little idea of the danger that lies ahead – and the burning forces about to be unleashed.

The Happiest Refugee: My Journey from Tragedy to Comedy By Ahn Do

Author: Ahn Do
Published: Allen & Unwin
No. Pages: 304
Themes: Refugees, life, family
                  Genre: Autobiography
                  Rating: 4.5 stars
The Happiest Refugee is the life story of Australian comedian Ahn Do. It documents his early life in Vietnam, the plight of his family as they travelled by boat to Australia as refugees and their new life in Australia.
It is a story that will move you to tears at times but make you laugh out loud at others. Reading about the journey from Vietnam to Australia really brings to light the horrendous and unimaginable trauma that refugees such as Ahn Doe and his family have suffered. It is a tale that certainly made me realise how lucky I am to be born in a country like Australia. I found it heartwarming to read about the genuine and profound gratitude and love for Australia that Ahn and his family show and I was inspired by the generosity and kindness they have shown to others despite their own hardships.
This was a really well written book that covers a topic few people know much about in a heart wrenching and honest, yet inspiring way. I definitely recommend this book to others.

Further reading suggestions:
  • Mao’s Last Dancer By Li Cunxin
  • The Other Hand By Chris Cleave

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Lake of Dreams By Kim Edwards

The Lake of DreamsTitle: The Lake of Dreams
Author: Kim Edwards
No. Pages: 371
Themes: Love, loss, redemption, women's suffrage
Genre: Fiction
                  Rating: 3 stars
The Lake of Dreams is a story of love, loss and redemption that delves into the darkness of one family’s grief stricken past uncovering a history of lies and secrets. When Lucy returns home to the Lake of Dreams she is quickly entangled in uncovering the story of an unknown distant relative and her quest to solve the mysteries of her family’s past takes her on a journey that ultimately allows her to come to terms with her own grief around the passing of her father when she was a child.
This was a good read and quite interesting at times when dealing with the topic of women’s suffrage. The plot is strong and the characters are both well developed and believable. Not amazing, but I definitely enjoyed The Lake of Dreams and it was an easy read.

Further reading suggestions:
  • The Memory Keeper’s Daughter By Kim Edwards
  • Garden Spells By Sarah Addison Allen

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Books read in February and March

Trying to catch up on my 100 books to read this year, so here is what I have read over the past two months:





Monday, January 28, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey where you can share what you are reading each week. Be sure to visit Book Journey to link up if want to join in!
The Other Hand

Last week I finished The Other Hand by Chris Cleave. It was a great read, but I had some conflicting thoughts about the blurb and the storyline. Click here to read my review.
Other than that I am still reading The Lost Art of Being Happy, by Tony Wilkinson, Life of Pi, by Yann Martel and A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness which I have nearly finished. 

Life of PiThe Lost Art of Being Happy: Spirituality for Sceptics A Discovery of Witches

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Review The Other Hand - By Chris Cleave

The Other HandTitle: The Other Hand (also published as 'Little Bee')
Author: Chris Cleave
Published: Sceptre
No. Pages: 374
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Yesterday I finished reading 'The Other Hand' By Chris Cleave also published as 'Little Bee'. This book was a real eye opener for me in regard to the issues that it dealt with and I really was drawn in to the story very quickly. It was really fast paced and I couldn't put it down, but it certainly wasn't anything like I imagined it would be. 
The blurb for this book gave nothing away at all, but it did give the impression (to me anyway) of a heartwarming or ultimately uplifting tale which it certainly is not! It is a great read that has an important social message, but it is confronting and it is heartbreaking. I really think that readers should have been given more information about the topic/issues addressed in this book via the blurb to allow them to make an informed choice as to whether or not they could cope with reading such a book. 
They are just my thoughts though so I won't go into the storyline. Suffice to say, don't go ahead and read this book with the impression that it will be a light read. I have reproduced the blurb here for you. What are your thoughts about such a vague blurb? Do you think it is a responsible way to market a book that deals with very confronting issues? or was that the point - afterall, I bought it!? I'd like to hear your thoughts. 

We don't want to tell you what happens in this book. 
It is a truly special story and we don't want to spoil it.

Nevertheless, you need to know enough to buy it so
we will just say this.

This is the story of two women.

Their lives collide one fateful day, and one of them has to make a terrible choice.
Two years later, they meet again
- the story starts there....

Once you have read it, you will want to tell your friends
about it. When you do, please don't tell them what
happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds.

The Other Hand
By Chris Cleave

Saturday, January 26, 2013

I WILL be Creative!!!

This year I have made myself a promise to make more time to do the things I love and to be more creative! Too often I find myself working when I get home instead of enjoying myself so this is an area of my life I really have to work on. 

Anyway, at the beginning of the year I took down my old calendar and said to myself, as I do each year, 'The pictures in this calendar are beautiful! I'll keep this calendar and frame some of them or cover something with them'. I then placed the old calendar on the bench ready for me to re-use. It has been sitting there ever since and I am sure I have a number of calendars I thought I would do the same thing with just sitting in my garage waiting for me. As I was cleaning up today I picked up the calendar from the bench and thought 'I am never going to actually do anything with this!' and headed out to the recycling bin but in the time it took to walk outside, guilt crept in and wrapped itself around my thoughts as I remembered my promise to be more creative, so I turned around and came back inside with the calendar.

I sat down, looked at the pictures in the calendar and waited for 'creativity' - it had to be there somewhere!! But alas I couldn't find it, so I searched the internet for upcycling ideas. I came across these super cute envelopes made from ruined Little Golden Books and thought  'Hmmmm, why not try and make these envelopes and maybe even some writing paper from the calendar!' So that was what I did, or I should say what I have started. 

I finished the envelopes today and I think they look pretty good - I would like to get a letter in a beautiful envelope like one of these. Here they are - my first go at upcycling - from 2012 calendar to ready to use envelopes! :) (Forgive the crappy photography which makes them look skewed and crooked though). What do you think? Do you do anything with the pictures from your previous years calendar? Here are three of my favourites....

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Friday 56 - The Other Hand, By Chris Cleave

 The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda over at Freda's Voice. The rules are simple:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you. (I cheat sometimes and put a little more than a sentence!)
*Post it.
The Other Hand*Add your post URL to the Link.

This weeks 56 comes from The Other Hand by Chris Cleave which I got the other day. I picked it up and read the first page and before I knew it I was half way through! WOW! I am totally engrossed in reading this great book which is also known as 'Little Bee'. I have never read anything by Chris Cleave before - WHY NOT???? Amazing writing and storytelling.

"I looked up and saw the two of them watching me, grey faced and serious. Neon crackled. On the wall clock, a fresh minute snapped over the old one."

The Other Hand 
Chris Cleave

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Alphabe-Thursday - Jj


This great meme is hosted by Jenny Matlock. Click here to visit the website and join in the fun! I am going to use Alphabet Thursday to show off some of my favourite children's picture books each week! I love using picture books in my teaching and do have a particular fondness for vintage picture books. 

This weeks book is an old favourite of mine written by Jenny Wagner and illustrated beautifully by Ron Brooks  called John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat. It is about a dog called John Brown, his owner - Rose and a cat that comes in the night. It is a story about change, but it is also a beautiful tale of the love between people and animals. I loved this book when I was at school. Have you heard of it before? I was very sad this morning when I was unable to find my copy of this wonderful book! I know it is here somewhere as I saw it recently, but I have obviously put it somewhere safe if I can't even find it! lol :) Here is a picture of the cover for John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat from Fishpond.com:

Monday, January 21, 2013

It's Monday! What are you Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey where you can share what you are reading each week. Be sure to visit Book Journey to link up if want to join in!
Last week I finished The Lacuna, By Barbara Kingsolver and it was such a great read - definitely a must read for Historical Fiction lovers.
The Lost Art of Being Happy: Spirituality for ScepticsAs part of the 2013 Nerdy Non-Fiction Readers Challenge I am readingThe Lost Art of Being Happy, By Tony Wilkinson. I started reading this a while ago but didn't finish so am giving it another go. I don't know if it will live up to some of my favourites such as The Power of Now, By Eckhart Tolle, but definitely has a lot of great content to consider. In the beginning chapters I felt a bit like Wilkinson was arguing the same point over and over again, but now it is moving more into the practise of skills I am enjoying it much more.
Life of PiI am re-reading Life of Pi, by Yann Martel which I read years ago and absolutely LOVED!!! My beautiful friend just saw the movie (against my advice to ALWAYS read the book first) and said she loved it which has inspired me to read it again. Knowing how much I loved it the first time, I am sure to devour it once I start reading so I am waiting till I have a whole day to read before I start - probably tomorrow :)
A Discovery of WitchesI am also still reading A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness which is a long, but fantastic read- enjoying it immensely!

The Lacuna - Review

The LacunaTitle: The Lacuna 
Author: Barbara Kingsolver
Published: Faber and Faber
No. Pages: 618
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5 stars
WOW - Barbara Kingsolver is fast becoming one of favourite authors! The Lacuna is an awesome read and it certainly lived up to (if not surpassed) my expectations after having read The Poisonwood Bible. The writing, the story, the pace, the characters - all fantastic! If you love reading historical fiction then you will certainly enjoy The Lacuna By Barbara Kingsolver. Here is the synopsis from fishpond.com:
"The Lacuna" is the heartbreaking story of a man's search for safety of a man torn beween the warm heart of Mexico and the cold embrace of 1950s McCarthyite America. Born in the U.S. and reared in Mexico, Harrison Shepherd is a liability to his social-climbing flapper mother, Salome. Making himself useful in the household of the famed Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and exiled Bolshevik leader Lev Trotsky, young Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution. A violent upheaval sends him north to a nation newly caught up in World War II. In the mountain city of Asheville, North Carolina he remakes himself in America's hopeful image. But political winds continue to throw him between north and south, in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach - the lacuna - between truth and public presumption. A gripping story of identity, loyalty and the devastating power of accusations to destroy innocent people, "The Lacuna" is as deep and rich as the New World.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Quote it Saturday

Hosted by Freda's Voice

This weeks theme is 'cold'.

I posted these 'cold' quotes mistakingly last week - but then took them down and saved them for this week. I feel like I am cheating! heheheh :)

"Death comes to all, but great acheivements build a monument which shall endure until the sun grows cold."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 - 1882~
American Poet, Lecturer and Essayist

"May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night and a smooth road all the way to your door."
~Irish Blessing~