The Book Club Blog

Books for any occasion and other life stuff

Two of my best reads for 2017(so far)

BeartownBeartown by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a page turner.

Unlike any of his previous novels in story but the brilliance of his writing is stark.

Beartown is a book that must be read. And by as many men as possible. Women too, but men need to read this book. This book will send you through the ringer, it will have you sobbing, gasping in disbelief, laughing, sharing joy, understanding regret, give you a sense of knowing, all set within the small town called Beartown. This is a story about belonging, about family and about the power of sport. It is about love and understanding, hate and desire, ice and heat. I loved it.

Please read it and then let me know what you thought.

Suffice to say, this is one of the best books I have read this year.

On par with Deon Meyer’s Fever. A dystopian novel set in South Africa.

 

FeverFever by Deon Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well. When I first realised that Deon Meyer’s new book was a dystopian novel my first thought was: but how can he change his genre of writing? Then my second thought was, how brilliant that he CAN change his genre. That he has the brilliance to write something other than what he has written before. And there is brilliance in this novel.

Set in South Africa after a worldwide viral outbreak where the survivors are few and far between, Nico and his father Willem are driving through the desolate landscape when they come to a stop in a town which is eventually christened Amanzi. Amanzi is their new hope, where together with other survivors of The Fever, they begin to rebuild their lives.

This is the story told from Nico’s perspective, and over a five year span. I was swept away into the world Meyer has created and felt both urged to read, and yet also to savour the journey. A believable and courageous story, which I highly recommend. Do not let the fact that this is a South African author, deter you from reading this book. You will regret it if you allow ‘prejudices of apartheid’ (which was always my one complaint in early SA writing, it was all the same, but I can honestly say, this is not) dictate to you over enjoying this novel.

 

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Books Books Books

I received an email yesterday from Net Galley (They do Books) and did you know that there are a couple books coming out soon which you really need to be aware of?? Pity my birthday will have passed by then but check out these great books:

 

kostovaElizabeth Kostova – The Shadow Land

And if you’re asking me who? Then you really need to check her out.  She wrote The Historian which is a fabulous book, and if you haven’t read it yet, you really really need to. The plot blends the history and folklore of Vlad Țepeș and his fictional equivalent Count Dracula. I couldn’t read it at night, it was that good. Then her second one, The Swan Thieves which was not quite as fabulous as her first, but also very good and now, here we are with her third one, due out in April this year!

What is it about? Thanks to Amazon:

A young American woman, Alexandra Boyd, has traveled to Sofia, Bulgaria, hoping that life abroad will salve the wounds left by the loss of her beloved brother. Soon after arriving in this elegant East European city, however, she helps an elderly couple into a taxi—and realizes too late that she has accidentally kept one of their bags. Inside she finds an ornately carved wooden box engraved with a name: Stoyan Lazarov. Raising the hinged lid, she discovers that she is holding an urn filled with human ashes.

As Alexandra sets out to locate the family and return this precious item, she will first have to uncover the secrets of a talented musician who was shattered by political oppression—and she will find out all too quickly that this knowledge is fraught with its own danger.

Elizabeth Kostova’s new novel is a tale of immense scope that delves into the horrors of a century and traverses the culture and landscape of this mysterious country. Suspenseful and beautifully written, it explores the power of stories, the pull of the past, and the hope and meaning that can sometimes be found in the aftermath of loss.

 

Next on my list is:

bear

Beartown by Frerick Backman

I adore this mans writing! He wrote A man Called Ove, My grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry, Britt Marie was here, And every morning the way home gets longer and longer and now Beartown.

What is it about? Thanks to Amazon:

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

And those are just two on my list of Want to Reads.

What is on yours?

 

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Gilmore Girls – The Series and The Return

I discovered this TV show in April.

I had returned home from a trip to Cornwall, England with my daughter and we were heading into cooler weather our side of the world (Cape Town, South Africa) which translates into hibernation weather and stay at home days – and nights. Which in turn means ‘needing telly’ to watch as entertainment. We don’t own a telly, or should I rather say, we now own a telly after about 10 years of not owning one but we don’t actually have telly on it. We subscribe to Netflix, when it arrived in SA, I am sure we were one of the first people to get it and now have a world of tv series at a touch of a button.

So, back to April, I obviously had heard of Gilmore Girls, in countless blogs I have read over the last few years there have been references to the series, to the books Rory read, and so on, but I just never got the idea to watch it, you know? I found it on Netflix, thought I would give an episode a go and well, that was me, hooked. It kept me entertained for the whole of Winter, I had nights where I binge watched episodes, I literally gorged on Gilmore Girls. And then the weather heated up, and Greys Anatomy and Elementary returned to the screen and I only just two weeks ago, finished the final episode of season 7. Why didn’t she marry Logan??? She could of had her wild and free even with being married!

And then this weekend… I binge watched the entire Year in the Life. Oh, how I sobbed! I adored all four episodes. But the last one? Why?? *Spoiler Alert* if you have not yet watched it and plan to, stop reading now…….

 

 

My first thought when hearing Rory say those fateful words, was Don’t do the same thing your mother did! Why? There was nothing wrong with what Lorelai did, or how she did it, but why does she want to carry on the cycle? And Logan would so marry her and ditch Odette, who clearly is not really that important to him otherwise he wouldn’t be sleeping with Rory…!I know life is not all peachy perfect and this is just a TV show, but goodness, its just as bad/good as a brilliant book, one gets attached to ones characters…and one feels all sorts of warm and fuzzies, or sobs, seriously I sobbed at one point. And honestly, why not tell Logan? And why is it bugging me so? Any one else have this issue?

 

Anyway, back to my ‘review’, I loved this show. I love that the new episodes came out now and I had just finished all seasons to be able to watch it. It made me feel all warm inside. And how lovely to see them all grown up and changed but not changed. That is a sign of a good TV show and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I don’t know of anyone who has watched it though, so please if you have, share your thoughts with me?!!!? Lets chat, lets bemoan the ending, and hope that there may be a spin off, or, just MORE.

I even went to search for books about them….I found this list on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/search?q=gilmore+girls

Has anybody read any of them, and if so are they any good? Do let me know if any of them are good to read…!

 

 

 

 

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Christmas Wish Lists

So 2016 is coming to an end….Did you have a good reading year?

This year I decided not to challenge myself to a certain number of books read as last year, I challenged myself to 100, and even though I made it, I found that I was just reading to make up my 100 instead of enjoying the process of reading, pondering and then finding a new book to read. Sometimes I like to stay in the world of the characters that I have just left without launching straight into the covers of another book. One book this year, which stayed with me was Station 11,  and even now I find myself pondering the characters and the story line.

But according to Goodreads this year I have read 49 books, 16000 pages, half of last year, and  I don’t feel too much loss at having only managed 50 books ( I will have read at least 2 or 3 more by the end of December….)

But this post is meant to be about books I want not what I have read, I will do another post later on with some of my best reads for 2016. There were some goodies…

Here are my top 3 books on my wish list, have you read them?

beasts

Fantastic Beasts and where to find them – the screenplay – JK Rowling. (Need to take myself to watch the movie sooooon!)

universe

Holding up the universe – Jennifer Niven. ( I LOVED All the Bright Places, seriously if you haven’t read it, please do. Drop everything else and just read it)

backman

And every morning the way home gets longer and longer – Fredrik Backman. Adore this authors novels!

What is on your list this year? Let us know in the comments!

 

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The Underachieving Ovary by JT Lawrence

ovary

 

 

I received a review copy of this book from cupcake mummy(Thanks!) in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this book, it was raw, honest and real and I enjoyed Lawrence’s writing. She really manages to pull you in to her story without much hardship on her part. The story of her infertility and desire for a child is  heartbreaking until finally after much hardship, she is blessed with pregnancy and new life.

This is not a usual subject for me, as I have never had infertility issues, I have no idea how it must feel to desire a child so much that nothing and no one can stand in your way to conceive. I know of people who have, I have ready some books about it, but it can never make me understand to what extent these feelings can crowd a person out and fill one with despair. I thank Lawrence and Albertyn(So Close) for writing their stories, for sharing the heartache, heartsore and yet heartstrong feelings, and words with us so we can have an inkling as to what they went through in order to conceive.

They are strong women.

Read this, it is pretty compelling. Written in journal format, dark humour and TMI in equal parts,  it requires you to read because you really want to know if they succeed in getting pregnant or not. From the back of the book:

Let me put it this way: If Helen Fielding and Marian Keyes were to go through IVF, and use Caitlin Moran as a surrogate, this book would be their baby.

JT Lawrence is South African and has a good few books out, I do believe I will have track down some more and see if they are as good as this one. Check out her website here.

 

 

 

 

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A Guide to the Birds of East Africa- a review

 

 

guide

What an absolutely delightful book! I read ‘ A Guide to the birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson, in a couple of days, and was the perfect companion during my short flight from Cape Town to East London. Again, this book was purchased from the lovely FB group which brings new meaning to book buying addict… and was the second to be read in my ‘pile’.

When I started it I thought surely I have read it, it sounds so familiar! Clearly, this was another book I had started and never got further than the first chapter. Fascinating how some books just don’t grab you the first time! The story was about two gentlemen who have a friendly contest on who can see the most birds, and new birds each day within 7 days, in order to ask a certain lady out on a date. The story was amusing, the characters were quite vivid and again, they have planted themselves in my mind for the moment. I loved that the story was set in Kenya, with references to England too. Though the most amazing thing was the amount of birds these gentlemen saw each day.

To sound a little ignorant( I have never been a particularly avid ornithologist ) I really didn’t realise there were so many birds in the world, never mind one country in Africa.  It made me feel a little excited at the prospect of bird watching in my garden, we have many many birds that pop in and sing us good morning. Not that I know what any of them are, but I think I could very possibly give it a go in the holidays and see how many different species I can spot in a day…..

The ending was lovely and fitting for the novel, no serious great shakes, just a gentle novel, about kindness and honour and grief and bravery and learning to get over ones self.

 

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Station Eleven – a review of sorts

 

station-eleven

I started this book about 6 months ago and didn’t even finish the first chapter.

I then subsequently bought myself a hard copy, from a book group on FB that sells second hand books at great prices, and you collect them at the post office, luckily, you can keep ‘piles’ with the various buyers and pay only one postage price. Its great! But can be rather detrimental on your bank balance, because even those R30’s add up….But back to the book.

Out of my ‘pile’ of books I decided to start with this one as I had heard fabulous things about the book- without having gone searching for reviews, the seller loved it and I generally give books a second chance if I didn’t manage it on the first. My verdict? I absolutely loved it. It had me rapt for a couple of days and I found myself reading when I really should not have been reading, but it was a case of ‘just one more minute, then I will get ready for work’ -Luckily I work from home so I do sometimes have a few extra minutes to spare….

The story is apocalyptic in nature, and so easily written about, that out of all the Dystopian/Post Apocalyptic novels I have read, this one was the most easily believable and almost relatable. The world succumbed to the Georgian Flu, whereby once the virus got you, you were man down and out within a day or two. I loved how the author describe the ending of the world, in fact one part which really plays with my mind is the aeroplane scene. This happens in the beginning so no spoilers to worry about. A group of airplanes and their passengers have been diverted from their original travel path and deposited at this airport whereby they end up living and forming a museum out of the left overs of the life that no longer exists and becomes a destination for travellers in the left over world. While they are in the arrivals department on one of the earlier days of the outbreak, a plan lands, but no one disembarks. And the plane stays  there for the rest of time. I found that one scene so powerful in its simplicity.

And, I found it quite haunting as I was on a aeroplane twice this weekend, and both times this scene came back to haunt me.

When I finished the book, I felt bereft without the characters and it took me a few days to process the story. As I said, I loved it, but the ending was not what I was hoping/expecting. That is the problem with some books, they are excellent and then almost let themselves down by their endings. Though I guess that is really the readers problem and not the writer. Why didn’t I like it? I have been pondering how to get it into words, so here is my attempt:

The ending was lovely in that it brought all the pieces of the puzzle together and how each character related within the weave of the novel. But I found it almost too tame. Which in hindsight of having been disappointed, life is quite tame in its labyrinth of who’s connected where. Its the rule of 3, that at least one person will know one person will know one person within your circle of people. I guess, because the story unfolded so gently I almost expected the explosion of the truth of the novel to be hurtled at me, and not gently put there.  I wonder if anyone felt the same way? I would love to know.

If you haven’t read it yet, do give it a go, and then come back here and let me know what you thought. I would have to say that is one of those books that lingers with you long after you have finished reading it.

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Seriously overdue post!

Wow! It is amazing how very quickly time zips by, one minute it is January, and in the blink of an eye we are in the middle of May already. Crazy the pace of life we live…! But even though life has been busy, the weather is winding down into Winter which means colder weather, hibernatory patterns emerging and reading more (my favourite part). I have to share one book that I have recently read and to me, it was a soul book. It was excellent. The writing was glorious, the story was sad but yet, uplifting, the relationships that were portrayed were realistic and all round good reading. What is it, you are screeching at me by now??

Take a look: then go out and buy it, seriously, go on, go do it now…

I’ll give you the sun by Jandy Nelson, was brilliant.

 

A YA novel, but yet so much more than that. Focusing on the relationship between two competitive twins Jude and Noah, and how through a series of misunderstandings and family tragedy their relationship breaks down. But it is the putting back together again, how they are two halves of a whole and yet two wholes within their twinship which I enjoyed exploring. The characters are real and you can almost feel the emotion in the pages as you read. I have to admit to a few tear drops here and there. It was a very Real book and the writing captures moments and memories and miscommunications and love and being true to oneself in such a way that you can REMEMBER these feelings (as an adult). As a young adult, I am sure that the book also sparks the emotions.

Jandy Nelson is an American author and this book was published in 2014.

Have you read it? What did you think?

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My Lion’s Heart by Gareth Patterson – my review

This book is a true account of Gareth’s work with both lions and elephants in Africa.

Firstly, thank you to Tracey Macdonald on sending me a review copy of this book, I do enjoy reading about people whose life work is to save and protect the animals.  It is  a worthy life cause and with so many people who either don’t care, don’t do anything, or worse, who even kill these animals for sport, it is an honour to know that there are people out there who care.

I have to be honest and say that I did struggle a little to read this book due to his writing style, it was quite jagged and hopped about a bit but apart from that it was an interesting and heart rendering read. If any of you have read The Elephant Whisperer, it is in the same vein. What intrigues me most about Gareth and his lion heart is that he literally became part of his lion pride. I think it would be awesome to have that sort of connection, both spiritual and physical, with a wild animal. I loved how he became part of them, how the lions knew that he was a part of the pride and showed him in ways that are just so special.

What is the most heart rendering is that here are these men, who do everything in their power to help the animals, to try to make other humans see sense amid the senseless act of killing for sport and yet, the government does nothing and when it does,( it takes reels of paperwork) the people do nothing and the killing still continues. That just breaks my heart. And what breaks it even more, is that it still continues. We all know of Rhino poachers, but there are lion poachers and elephant poachers too. Sickening and Saddening. That in this day and age it Still occurs and for such bizarre reasons that it just cannot make any sense.

I think that Gareth was called to work with animals, that he is spiritually connected to them and more specifically with lions and to read his account of his life was both awe inspiring and sorrowful.

Do read it, I think the more people who are aware of the situation the better and maybe one of us will be inspired to do the same.

You can find more about Gareth here and see the book trailer here.

Keep an eye out for our interview with Gareth coming to The Book Club Blog soon!

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Friday night review chatter… and now I am off to read…

Can I just say that time is flying by at a rate of knots?!! Half way through September it is already, its madness.

Amidst this craziness of life, I am managing to get some reading time in, thank goodness, I don’t think I would stay sane if I didn’t… I read and finished I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes, though it took me just under two weeks to finish it, which for me is crazy long. 800 odd pages and considering that I mainly read at night time – currently cutting into my reading time right now by blogging – by the time I had read about 10 pages I was ready for sleep, thats how busy the weeks have been!

So, what did I think?

After reading much hype about the book on a FB book group, I was quite amped to read this book. Luckily for me, our book club got it in for this month and I was the second to read it.  I enjoyed it, I thought the story was very clever, I enjoyed the back stories (which I think was the annoying part for some readers) as I think it made you understand the characters better. I like how the main character – Pilgrim, deduced where to go from ‘random’ clues and how everything was interconnected and intertwined. I was a leetle disappointed in the book, but only because there was a huge amount of hype and I guess I was expecting some huge bombshell at the end which didn’t occur BUT not That disappointed that I didn’t enjoy the book. Would I read his next book? Yes, I dare say I would:-) I guess I should do a more of an in-depth review of this book, so will edit that in over the weekend…

What was your verdict?

I am  now on Haruki Murakami – Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage which I honestly cannot say whether I am enjoying or not. Ok, thats not quite truthful. I am enjoying it, I mostly enjoy his books as they are rather odd, a little surreal and generally my cup of tea but with 20 odd pages left to go in this one, I am still not sure. I guess I will have my verdict once I am done. Which I will once I head off to bed and finish it….

So, on that note, I will leave you to your Friday night and check back in over the weekend with my verdict and what ever else I can remember reading in-between these two;-)

I hope you manage to get many joyful reading hours in this weekend!

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