August Wrap Up

This is a monthly post done at the beginning of each month to quickly recap what I’ve read through the previous month.

 

Aaaand, August is done. This year is absolutely flying. Work continues to keep me busy – shocker, I know. We’ve got our second yearly accreditation coming up, so everyone is worker-bee-ing to get everything officially official and skills and protocols all up to scratch. Because of that, I’ve spent more time power-napping on the train this month than intended! Oops. But I clearly need the extra sleep so we’ll let that one slide shall we?

 

READ

  • Away With The Fairies by Kerry Greenwood
  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
  • Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult
  • The Undercover Cook by Katie Fforde
  • The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead
  • The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
  • Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
  • Zoo by James Patterson
  • Working Wonders by Jenny Colgan
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  • The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

Yikes, another 11 done. So currently I’m ahead in my Goodreads Challenge. Yay me!

Goodreads Challenge Update – 67/100

 

CURRENTLY READING

  • Tick Tock by James Patterson
  • A Grown Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson
  • The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

 

BOOK CLUB READ

  • August/September – Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

 

How was your August?

Gone Girl

Gone Girl

Goodreads

Title: Gone Girl

Author: Gillian Flynn

Published: Phoenix, Orion Books, 2012

BACK COVER

Who are you?

What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren’t made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone.

So what did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife?

MY THOUGHTS

WHOA. Holy crap. This was… hmm. I read quite a few blogs and reviews of this before I got to read it, and by the time I got to it I was a little apprehensive. I wanted to read it, but was nervous, because everyone LOVED it. EVERYONE loved it. So I had high expectations. Which were exceeded beyond I could imagine. This book is AMAZING. Creepy and quite unsettling, but amazing. If you can hack a visit to the dark side, please read this book. It is brilliant.

It’s taken me a little while to write this review, as I didn’t really know what to say. Or how to say it, especially without giving too much away.

The book is really well written. In alternating chapters, we hear from Nick, living through the police investigation with him, and at the same time we also get to read Amy’s diary from the last 5+ years, and learn more about their life. Little by little we get to know both of them. You think you know what’s going on, and then, BOOM. B-double truck comes screaming at you from the left side. I don’t want to ruin the surprise, so without saying too much, be prepared for more than one twist. And an ending that may not sit well with some people. But I liked it – it was unexpected. And made me a little queasy.

Everyone in book club loved this one. All of us flew through it. We had read a few in a row that we’d all found a bit ‘meh’, disliked, or not finished. At our last meeting, I was about halfway through “Gone Girl” and was loving it. Kinda-sorta-maybe itching to go home so I could finish it off.  So to guarantee an interesting read, the others decided to adopt it for our next one. Yay for that! No one picked the plot twists, and none of even considered the ending. Winner!

Final Thought: Gillian Flynn has a very dark and twisted mind. Do yourself a favour and read this book.

 

Next Book Club book: The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman

The Slap

GoodreadsTitle: The Slap

Author: Christos Tsiolkas

Published: Allen & Unwin, 2008

 

BACK COVER

At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own.

This event has a shocking ricochet effect on a group of people, friends and relatives, who are all directly or indirectly influenced by the slap.

In this remarkable novel, Christos Tsiolkas turns his unflinching and all-seeing eye onto that which connects us all: the modern family and domestic life in the twenty-first century. The Slap is told from the points of view of eight people who were present at the barbecue. The slap and its consequences force them all to question the way they live, their expectations and dreams, their beliefs and desires.

What unfolds is a powerful, haunting novel about love, sex and marriage, parenting and children, and the fury and intensity – all the passions and conflicting loyalties – that family can arouse. In its clear-eyed and forensic dissection of the ever-growing middle class and its aspirations and fears, The Slap is also a poignant, provocative novel about the nature of commitment and happiness, compromise and truth.

 

MY THOUGHTS

I read “The Slap” by Christos Tsiolkas when it first came out a few years ago. I definitely had mixed emotions about it, I loved a number of things – it was incredibly well written and the story just flowed. It was set in Melbourne which I relished – I could immerse myself even further into it as I knew the area it was set in.

I HATED all of the characters. Which I’m OK with. Any author who can have me disliking all of his characters and still loving the book is good by me. I liked that he dealt with a hot topic, provoking many a (heated, I’m sure!) discussion between friends who may differ in opinion.

I read it again for my book club a while ago. Ours is a pretty informal style book club, just a group of friends catching up over good food and wine and a book. But boy with this one were there some different opinions! The interesting thing was, everyone’s opinions on this were strong. Everyone was either vehemently against disciplining other peoples children/other people disciplining their children, or they were of the ‘it takes a whole village to raise a child’ mindset.

I have engaged in this conversation with a few different groups of friends, and it never ceases to amaze me that those with children just don’t feel that those without children have a valid opinion. No, I don’t have children. But does that mean my opinion doesn’t count? Surely not. Sure, my opinion may change when I do have children, but then again, it may not. I know women with children on both sides of the fence. Some who are for discipline, and also some who are against.

I have also watched the TV series, and I was quite impressed. I thought it was well cast and I still didn’t like any of the characters. No, I lie. I liked Anouk. Who, admittedly, wasn’t particularly central to the storyline. I found most of the others to be lying, manipulative, immature people who were only interested in themselves. I also thought the event was well portrayed, not sugar-coated. And all of these same discussions were re-visited!

My personal (currently childless) opinion is that I would be happy to have my child disciplined – though I can’t say I’d be happy with physical violence like was portrayed in the show – by someone else, had I left the child in their care. In the understanding that this is clearly a person I trust. And I would expect my (at this point theoretical) child to behave at someone else’s house. And vice versa. That’s todays thought.

Canada

Goodreads

Goodreads

Title: Canada

Author: Richard Ford

Published: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012

BACK COVER

First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. 

Then about the murders, which happened later.

It was more bad instincts and bad luck that lead to Dell Parsons’ parents robbing a bank. They weren’t reckless people, but in an instant, their actions alter fifteen-year-old Dell’s sense of normal life forever. In the days that follow, he is saved before the authorities think to arrive. Driving across Montana, his life hurtles towards the unknown; a hotel in a deserted town, the violent and enigmatic Arthur Remlinger, and towards Canada itself. But, as Dell discovers, in this new world of secrets and upheaval, he is not the only one whose past lies on the other side of the border. 

MY THOUGHTS

I’ve just re-read over the blurb of this book, wondering if I got confused, trying to correlate this with the book I read. The more I read the blurb, the more I can pick out what parts of the book are being referred to, but I struggled with this one. I found the synopsis misleading – but maybe that’s just me, and I was reading into it what I wanted to. The story I was expecting would have been interesting I think. I found the story I got a bit boring. I felt like something would happen, and I’d be like ‘Oh good, this could be interesting, lets explore this’, and that story line would end. Plot re-direct. Then something else would happen. I’m like ‘Oh, OK, so this is what we’re going to focus on’ and then nope, plot change. Happened to me around 4 times. Happening to me now – struggling to focus on the book long enough to write a review!

The whole book was very descriptive. The first half is background – Dell, Berner (twin sister) and their parents, bits and pieces of religion, culture, history, family, Dad’s work, how weird Dad is, Dad’s research into the best plan for robbing a bank, Berner’s boyfriend. Was good background, except for the fact that once the background is over and Mum and Dad rob the bank, the story changes. We have no more need for most of the back ground. The second half of the book is solely Dell’s story. Most of the background was build up to… nothing.

 

I think basically I don’t like descriptive books if there’s little or no action. I need a bit more happening to keep me interested. I will say this, the writing was good, it was easy to read, I just didn’t really want to pick it up so it took me a while to read. It’s great if you like description, but I’d read great chunks and not remember what I’ve read, but have no real ambition to go back and re-read to find out. I was the only one at book club that had actually finished it. One was about halfway through and persisting, and another had given up halfway. Reasoning was – bored, nothing happening, wasn’t sure where it was going. There was questions about Berner’s life – my friend asked as there was some set up there with her and her boyfriend Rudy, but there was very little resolution of that. I thought there was some perfunctory answers, but I felt like they were a bit of an after thought, sort of like she’d been forgotten about but Ford remembered her at the last minute and thought ‘oh, cripes, should put something in there about what happens to Berner.’

 

So not a win for me – or the rest of the book club girls. Oh well.

Next up for June: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

April Wrap Up

This is a monthly post done at the beginning of each month to quickly recap what I’ve read through the previous month – and I’m running very late with this one!

April – So I didn’t do as well in numbers this month, I think due to what I was reading. Dragonfly in Amber was excellent, but long. The Scarlet Pimpernel took me FOREVER – I’ve been chipping away at it for months. And London Call Girl was… I didn’t like it. So I didn’t want to put the time in and read it. But oh well. My aim is to whip through a few quick reads for a bit now, I’ve hit my dense/long limit for a little while!

READ

  • Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
  • Raisins and Almonds by Kerry Greenwood
  • Further Adventures of a London Call Girl by Belle de Jour
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy
  • Canada by Richard Ford

Goodreads Challenge Update – 27/100

CURRENTLY READING

  • So Much For That by Lionel Shriver
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

BOOK CLUB READ

  • April – Canada by Richard Ford

How was your April? 

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Goodreads

Goodreads

Title: We Need to Talk About Kevin

Author: Lionel Shriver

Published: The Perseus Books Group, Counterpoint,2003

The Text Publishing Company, 2006 (my copy)

BACK COVER

Two years ago, Eva Khatchadourian’s son, Kevin, murdered seven of his fellow high-school students, a cafeteria worker and a popular algebra teacher. Now, in a series of letters to her absent husband, Eva recounts the story of how Kevin came to be Kevin.

Fearing that her own shortcomings may have shaped what her son has become, she confesses to a deep, long-standing ambivalence about both motherhood in general and Kevin in particular. How much is her fault? When did it all start to go wrong?

Or was it, in fact, ever ‘right’ at all?

 

 

MY THOUGHTS – OF BOOK AND MOVIE

I am always hesitant to see any movie made from a book that I like – it usually ends badly with me disappointed about the movie, and looking differently at the book. It to taint my opinion – I feel like if I don’t enjoy the movie, I have to question whether I really liked the book. Irrational, yes, but still.

“We Need to Talk About Kevin” is a book that I’ve actually read a couple of times (not too many books make that list – there are so many exciting new stories out there!). Luckily, the most recent reading wasn’t that recent – maybe 12 months ago. This means that I can overlook (or more likely – not notice) small differences between the book and the movie.

The Book: Hit me like a ton of bricks. Well, the ending did, anyways. And that’s all the spoiler you’ll find here. We know from the start that Kevin shot up the school. That’s no secret. The book is written in Eva’s letters to Franklin, her husband, in the wake of the shooting. It’s a mix between current thoughts – Eva visiting Kevin in prison, and Eva flashing back and re-visiting Kevin’s entire life, from event to event. My opinion? Creepy kid. Something wrong with him right from the start. But what do you do, when it’s your child? How do you see the total sociopath in your own son? It’s interesting though, Eva always felt this. Franklin doesn’t see it. {side note – I don’t have children. I’m just imagining that it must be incredibly difficult and painful.}

The Movie: The big things were there. The plot wasn’t played with. Obviously to take a 450+ page book and turn it into a 2 hour movie there needs to be some concessions. My opinion is that one of these concessions was the depth of the relationship between Kevin and his sister Celia, and all that he did to her. On the whole, I really quite enjoyed the movie. I thought it was very well cast – Tilda Swinton was the perfect Eva, and that evil little toddler! So good it was almost creepy. I thought they could have developed Franklin’s character a little more, and played more on the wedge that Kevin drove through Eva and Franklin’s relationship. Because of these little intricacies, I would very much recommend you read the book before seeing the movie. You will get the themes out of the film, but you’ll definitely understand them much more fully having read the book.

I thought the book was very well written, and this translated into a very disturbing movie. My friend said it best – “I’ve never been so put off having children”. So there you have it people, this movie is great contraception.

This is a crazy good book club book – we got some great discussion especially with a mix of parents and non parents. My copy had a list of book club questions in the back also, which can be useful.

What is your opinion on books into movies? Any hits or misses that stand out in your memory?

Past the Shallows

Goodreads

Goodreads

Title: Past the Shallows

Author: Favel Parrett

Hachette Australia, 2011

 

 

KOBO EBOOKS OVERVIEW

Everyone loves Harry. Everyone except his father. Three brothers, Joe, Miles and Harry, are growing up with their father on the remote south coast of Tasmania. The brothers’ lives are shaped by their father’s moods – like the ocean he fishes, he is wild and unpredictable. He is a bitter man, warped by a devastating secret. Miles tries his best to watch out for Harry, the youngest, but he can’t be there all the time. Often alone, Harry finds joy in the small treasures he discovers, in shark eggs and cuttlefish bones. In a kelpie pup, a big mug of Milo, and a secret friendship with a mysterious neighbour. But sometimes small treasures, or a brother’s love, are not enough.

 

MY THOUGHTS

Gosh, I read this twice – partly because I was gobsmacked, and partly because sometimes I struggle with ebooks, and I think I will absolutely be reading it again. It was definitely a quick and easy read, but there’s just… so much there. It’s such a simple story, about Harry, his family, his friends and his life, but there’s such… struggle… there.

It’s a sad life, and there is a lot below the surface that isn’t spoken about – with Harry’s dad, with Joe. The town knows, and many people try to look out for Harry. He befriends his neighbour, his brother Miles tries to look out for him, his friend and his friends mum look after him, but is it enough?  I don’t want to say too much about this book – it’s really quite a simple plot with many facets and depths explored.

This is Parrett’s first novel, and it’s a kicker. The writing is simple and beautiful, though the subject matter ends up being quite deep and heavy.

Conversation about this one was minimal – only myself and another read it. This has been kind of the theme lately. Might need to advertise for new members!! However it’s always good to catch up with friends and have a gossip session, and I always read the book. It’s good as it means I read stuff I wouldn’t pick up normally, although it was me that nominated this one. Regarding Past the Shallows, we both really enjoyed it though, and found it somewhat deceptively easy to read. It will stay with me for quite a while though.

How about you? Have you read Past the Shallows? Do you like debut novels?