The Book Club Blog

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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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Monday morning reviews to love or hate a book…

Wowser, so, we waited for this book for a long time, but the wait was definitely worth it. Classic Tom Robbins at his best, and with his very own story. I loved reading how he ‘became’ a writer, the thoughts behind his books and the stories of his life. I was inspired to watch Even Cowgirls get the blues though the movie has nothing on the book, but isn’t that usually the case?

Tom Robbins is one of my most favourite authors, I love his philosophical style mixed in with reality, I love how there is meaning in the mundane and his writing style is truly unique. I don’t think there will ever be ‘another’ Tom Robbins. A bit like there will never be another Haruki Murakami. Novels which are in their own style which can not be duplicated.

I think if you are a fan of Tom’s writing, then this is  a must read, and even if you are not, it is still an interesting read as his words are like a love story for the brain. He mixes metaphors and tears you away from the ordinary as you slowly savour each sentence. If you haven’t read anything by him, I would recommend Jitterbug Perfume as a starting point and work your way through his novels that way. Some say that your first novel that you read by him, will forever be your favourite,  I don’t quite agree, as once I read Jitterbug Perfume, it was love at first reading never mind the others I had read.

Verdict: Loved it!

So, what do you think? Have you read him? And will you, if you haven’t?

As for another book I tried to read, which has had brilliant reviews is A Girl Who is a Half Formed Thing by Eimear Mc Bride.

And to be honest, I don’t have time to read book which feel like work, when there are so very many others that I want to read. I gave it a good chance but found it so very difficult to read. Her writing style is completely different, and as I said, quite hard work. I am sure that it is a brilliant piece of writing, but I cannot fathom it. I may try again, when I am feeling braver, but really, when there are other more enjoyable books out there?

Verdict: So didn’t like it

Have you read it? What was your verdict? Am I being too hasty in discarding it to the not to be read pile, or should I persevere and get through it?

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BROKEN MONSTERS – Lauren Beukes -my review

I love my library! They are truly awesome at getting in new books to read, without a long wait or huge price tag. I received my copy of this to read last week and it took me a little while to read, due to the fact that I didn’t want to have nightmares so I didn’t read this book at night.

Saying that I was both compelled to read and yet forced to stop at turns during the reading of this book. I thought it was a brilliantly written novel, yet, novel, I have to ask how much of it really is a novel, this story is seeped in reality. What I found most disturbing about the book is that to me, it is a reflection on the world at the moment. A reflection on how our lives are online, how we are often afraid to speak, how work can dominate our lives and how there is such a breakdown of community that social media is the norm. How people become more broken, how utterly convinced of their own dream that nothing stands in the way of it.

I loved how Beukes weaves a tale of artists dreaming and how it is catching and that doors can open, and it seems to me that she captures this day and age perfectly in her book. So, what is it about? A serial killer in detroit who is an artist who is broken and where the dream inside his head takes over the human part of him and infects others who can ‘see’. It is about the relationship between a Police detective mother and her teenage daughter. It is the story of an online ‘self made’ journalist. A disturbing and rather dark novel set in the here and now, it captures the essence of our times.

Read it, I don’t think you will be disappointed.

To see my review on The Shining Girls go here and for those of you who have read her other books, do they all contain serial killers? Or is it just her last two that do?? And I am sure that even after I have pressed publish on this post, this book will still sit with me and percolate inside my brain….

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Some light hearted chick-lit for your Monday

The Hidden Cottage – Erica James

 

Erica James is one of my guilty pleasures, just like Penny Vincenzi and Maeve Binchy. I like how her books are easy to read and always have people at the heart of it. Her books are solid and dependable and even though there may be a tragedy stuck in her story for good measure, people generally make it out of it alive and with positivity.

A Passionate Love Affair with a  Perfect Stranger – Amy Robinson

A chick-lit book with a difference. This was not your usual chick-lit fair, it had good, well written characters, an interesting story line and was actually fairly amusing. It did have some boring bits which I did skim read but as a general whole, this was a fun and easy read for when you need some light heartedness in your life.

Night Music – Jo Jo Moyes

I really enjoyed Me before You so when I found this in the library, I decided to give it a go. Well, I have to be honest that it did not grab me one bit. I think I got a few chapters in and by then the characters had started to annoy me and the writing just did not pull me in. I have to, again, admit to having ditched the book and didn’t actually finish it. If you have read it, does it turn out good at the end? I know she has a new one out, which I am tempted to try, apparently its as good as Me before You…

Have you read any good chick-lit of late? I do usually enjoy Jane Green and Marian Keyes, but if you know of any other goodies out there, do let me know.

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