Dewey's Read-a-thon plan



Well,I have decided to participate in the Read-a-thon, which starts at 10pm Australian time.

I know that I won't be able to read straight though the night, I am definitely someone who needs her sleep. I will, however try and read as long as a I can tomorrow. I will read from when I wake up until the end of the read-a-thon at 10pm Sunday.

I borrowed a couple of books from the library and I have the world's longest TBR list so I should get through a few I hope.

I can't wait!

Book Beginnings on Friday


Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Becky at Page Turners. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading. If you like, share with everyone why you do, or do not, like the sentence.

Thank you to Rose City Reader for giving me the idea for this meme. On Rose City Reader you will find 'Opening Sentences of the Day' so please have a look at this wonderful blog for further opportunities to share opening sentences.

The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett

"The last camel collapsed at noon".

I like this sentence because it is short and to the point. It doesn't really start in the middle of anything, but at the same time it indicates that an exciting journey is about to start.

What about you? Just insert the link to your Book Beginnings on Friday post in the Mr Linky below.

Lights, Camera, Blog Action!


There will be no Lights Camera Blog Action feature today I apologise, but the usual call out goes out:

If anyone is interested in being featured please email me at pageturnersbooks@gmail.com and I will forward you the questions!

Light bulb moment....


This will no doubt sound a little bit silly, but on the train today I had a light bulb moment and it was this:
I am not at all attraced to books where the author's name on the front cover is bigger than the title. It makes me think that the author must be a bit too self important to bother with.
What does everyone else think?

Mini Blog-a-thon II



I had a mini blog-a-thon on the weekend which you can read about here.

I was actually very very productive, but there are still some things that need doing, so I am posting them here to keep myself accountable. I need to review The Spare Room by Helen Garner. I need to rate my reviews prior to my bringing in my star rating system. I need to change my links at the top of my blog and I need to add my new challenge to the challenges page.

There you have it. Now I will have to do them all because I have announced it publicly :-)

Deweys Readathon - I NEED HELP!

Hi everyone,

I have decided that I think I would like to participate in Dewey's Read-a-thon which I never done before but I have a couple of questions:
  1. I can't figure out what time I am supposed to start in Sydney. It says that it starts 12noon GMT - how do I figure out what time that is in Sydney?
  2. Is it ok to read for a total of 24 hours over the weekend, rather than 24 hours straight?

Thanks for your help!!!

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

Book Details

Hardcover
Library book
Pages: 626
Publisher: Alfred A Knopf Inc
Published: 1991 (First included in the Everyman's Library 1991)
Language: English
ISBN: 0 679 40562 3

Book Review

Wow, what a book. I decided to read this one after I realised that The Legacy by Kirsten Tranter (which I read for a book club) was based upon The Portrait of a Lady. I tried to finish it before I went to book club, but as you can see from the page count it was a very long book written in very small font and I just couldn't manage it. The disappointing thing was that because I hadn't finished reading the book before the book club the twist at the end was spoiled for me in discussion.

It is to story of Isabel Archer, a young American girl who visits her estranged family in England after her father passes away. She becomes close to her Aunt, Uncle and cousin, so close that her Uncle leaves her a large sum of money upon his death. Determined that she will remain independent and see the world, Isabel turns down 2 marriage proposals to travel the world. Later, however, she finds herself drawn to Gilbert Osmond, an American living in Italy and Isabel's life begins to change.

Wen I first started reading this book I loved it. I loved the old fashioned language. I love how the characters were created in such detail. You came to know their inner thoughts so clearly. Henry James places emphasis upon character development and I appreciated that... to a certain extent.

The problem is, by about two thirds of the way through the book, I had lost all interest. It just went on way too long. It was so wordy. That;s what I loved about the book at the beginning, but what I hated about it by the end. I was literally skipping 3 pages at a time, skimming through the book and reading random pages. If I could tell where the story was up to, I would keep reading for awhile until I felt the urge to skim again. If I skipped a few pages and seemed to have missed something, I would go back until I figured out what it was that I missed and then I would skip forward again. I feel terrible about it, but I didn't have a choice. I couldn't sit through all the description, all the observations and all the characters thoughts.

It was tragic in a way - I wanted something better for Isabel. The feminist in me thought 'way to go girl' but by the end it was all wiped out. The ending felt a bit Tess of the D'Urbervilles-ish in that way.

All in all, a really good book and I am glad I read it. I just wish it was that little bit shorter.

Summary

What kind of read is it?
A classic read, with wordy old-fashioned language. A challenging read because of the language and the length of the book.

Do I recommend that you read it?
It feels a bit wrong to say that you don't recommend a classic, but the truth it, I wouldn't recommend this to someone. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't tell anyone not to read it, I just wouldn't recommend it as something that I think you should read.

Do I recommend that you buy it?
No. Borrowing it from the library is the way to go.


Start Rating

5 / 8

God and worth reading if you have the opportunity, but there's is no need to prioritise it.


Teaser Tuesday: The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett


Tuesday Teaser is great meme hosted by Should Be Reading and is a great way to find out about new books.
Here are the guidelines: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (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!

The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett

"It was the five year old white bull he had bought from Gialo, the youngest and strongest of the three beasts, and the least ill-tempered: he liked the animal as much as a man could like a camel, which is to say that he hated it only a little. They climbed the leeward side of a small hill, man and camel planting big clumsy feet in the inconstant snd, and at the top they stopped".

I am only a couple of chapters into this book and already I am hooked.

I am reading it for the new My Name Book Challenge.

Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll


Book Review

Ebook
Project Gutenberg
Read on my iPhone using the Stanza application

Book Details

I read this book because I had recently finished Alice in Wonderland, and I wanted to read both stories before I saw the movie. Fortunately I finished this one on the afternoon before the evening I was off to see the movie.

What did I think of this one? I was disappointed. What I loved about Alice in Wonderland was in Through the Looking Glass, but on steroids. It was so crazy, so dreamlike, that I could barely follow what was happening. I felt like it lost its charm for me. It was just so weird and strange.

I am trying to think of something about it that I like, but I can't. I am trying to think of some specific examples of what I didn't like, but it was the whole vibe of the book that just didn't do it for me. I didn't care about Alice this time around. It just didn't do it for me.

Summary

What kind of read is this?
A weird read, I felt a bit like the author might have been on an LSD trip when it was written.

Do I recommend it?
Definitely not. Do not read this. Just stick with Alice in Wonderland.

Do I recommend that you buy it?
See above.

Star Rating

2 / 8

Don't bother (sorry Lewis)


New Challenge: 'The My Name Book Challenge'


My Name Book Challenge

I have decided to host another challenge this year - The My Name Book Challenge.

The idea came to me when I was thinking about book to read next, and I decided on The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett. I got a little excited at the idea of reading a book with my own name in the title.

So I thought, why not make a challenge of this? And that is what I have done.

Here are the rules:
  1. Fiction only;
  2. Books with your name in the title, or with main characters who share your name;
  3. Re-reads count with this challenge.
There are 3 levels:
  1. Only Child - 1 book
  2. Triplet - 3 books or less (more than 1)
  3. Quintuplet - 5 books or less (more than 3)
I will aim for the Triplet level.

I know its late in the year to be starting a challenge, but the levels are small so hopefully we can manage it! It will run out on 31 December 2010.

If you are interested in joining, just create a post about the challenge on your blog and post a link to it in the Mr Linky below. I will set up somewhere where we can post our reviews.

Happy reading!

Its Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday, what are you reading? is now hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books. It is a chance for us to share with other book bloggers what we have just finished reading, what we are currently reading and what we are reading next.

Just finished

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
I finally finished this book! The review of this book will be posted on Wednesday 7 April 2010.

The Double Crown by Marie Heese
I was sent this book from the author to review, and I really enjoyed it. The review will be coming soon.

The Spare Room by Helen Garner
I had wanted to read this for a very long time. I talked my mother into buying it at the airport when we went to Queensland earlier this year. She and my sister read it and weren't that impressed but I really loved it. The review will be coming soon.

Currently Reading

The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett
I chose this book because it has my name in the title... which has made me think of a new challenge that I have decided to start.

Read about The My Name Book Challenge here.

Up Next

Thats tricky. It will be an Australian book - I am tossing up between the Book Thief by Markus Zusak or The Timeless Land by Eleanor Dark which my Nanna just lent me


The Legacy by Kirsten Tranter

Book Details

Paperback
Pages: 438
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Published: 2010
Language: English
ISBN: 978 0 7322 9080 1

Book Review

This is one of those books where the world seems to be conspiring to make sure that you read it. I first heard about the book when I read a review of it on someones blog. They really loved it, and I thought it sounded really interesting. A debut novel by an Australian author, contemporary, utilising world events as part of the plot - sounded really good. Then I added it to my wish list but didn't rush out to buy it (I don't generally buy new books). Then I was mucking around on the Internet one day and discovered that a local bookshop runs a monthly book club, and the next book they were looking at was The Legacy. A local book club looking at a book that I wanted to read - I couldn't pass it up. So, I purchased the book and here I am writing the review.

The back cover:
What has happened to Ingrid? Beautiful Ingrid inherits a fortune and leave Australia, and her friends, and Ralph who loves her, to marry Gil Grey and set up home amid the New York art world. There she becomes the stepmother to Gil's teenage artist daughter Fleur, a former child prodigy, and studies ancient curse scrolls at Columbia University. But at 9am on September 11 2001 she has an appointment downtown. And is never seen again. Or is she? Searching for clues about Ingrid's life a year later, her friend Julia uncovers only further layers of mystery and deception.
I wish I could say that the world conspired to bring me an amazing book, but I can't. Although there were some things that I liked about this book, there were so many things that I didn't. Having said that, after having been to the book club and discussing this book with other readers and the author herself, I feel a lot better about the book than I did before hand. I appreciated the book a lot more knowing what the authors intention was, even if I don't think it was executed very well.

Let me start with the things that I didn't like first. I know this is a horrible thing to say, and I totally accept when I say this that I have no writing ability whatsoever. Here goes... the writing was pretty terrible. It just wasn't very good. At the book club, the author said that she was trying to imitate a write style called 'hard boiled'. She said its a type of crime writing. This style if supposed to be very staccato and is used to build tension. Having heard her say that, I understand the theory behind the style of writing, but I still don't think it was executed very well.

It was full of clunky sentences like: "Fleur knocked on my door and I must have been asleep because it seemed to wake me". What??? Does this sentence really irritate anyone other than me? When chapters came to an end there was often a scene that was clearly written to build suspense, but just seemed completely out of place. For example, after Julia has been looking at handwriting sentences with one of the characters who becomes involved in the story, there is a description of Julie getting off the train and walking home, very detailed and clearly supposed to have some purpose - but what? I couldn't figure it out. And so many chapters finished like that.

Another complaint was the way in which the characters were formed - it felt a lot like you barely got to know any of them, and I am relieved that it seemed like a lot of other people at the book club felt similarly. Ingrid is a fairly shadowy character, but I don't mind that all. She is supposed to be. That is part of the mystery. I would, however, have liked to get to know the other characters a little more, especially Julia and Ralph. The novel didn't take the reader (me at least) very deep into the characters at all, and that is really important to my enjoyment of the book. It meant that I didn't really care about the characters, I felt like I was skimming through the book because I wasn't getting below the surface of anyone.

There was also this sense of mystery that was created around certain characters that I thought had something to do with the plot (I am not going to tell you which characters I am talking about in case you read the book). I kept waiting to find out the explanation for their behaviour, but at the end my expectations were not fulfilled - there was no explanation provided. I asked the author about this at the book club, and her explanation was essentially that she was creating mystery around these two characters for no other purpose than to create a feeling of suspense in general. She did go a little deeper into an explanation, but I have to admit that I was disappointed - you can't create suspense around characters just for the sake of it - there has to be some purpose. I felt jipped.

The author gave a few explanations for things that happened in the book that I didn't quite accept. The main one that I am the most disappointed in is around the ending of the book, which I can't really talk about because it would totally spoil the end of the book.

The book is based on The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, which I didn't actually realise until after I had read the book. Having been to the book club listened to the author discuss her motivation behind basing a book upon a classic and how she did it, I appreciated the book a little more than I had before hand. I didn't like that some of the characters had the same name as the characters in James' novel and some didn't, but I still think that it some ways it was a clever way to rewrite a classic.

I am disappointed in the ending to The Legacy as well. The author shared that she had a different, more ambiguous ending that she discarded. I am glad she discarded something more ambiguous than the ending that she actually used. I don't want to spoil anything so I won't say much else about the end, except that it just didn't cut it for me.

Ah, there are so many things that I could talk about but I am sick of going on about the negatives. The best thing about this book is that it entirely sucks you in from about the half way mark. I just wanted to keep reading and keep reading and keep reading. I couldn't put it down. Tranter does well at creating that tension. It's just a shame that for me it felt like it lead no where.

If you have read this book - I would love to know what you think. Better yet, if you have reviewed it, please leave a link to your review for me to read.

Summary

What kind of read is it?
A tense read.

Do I recommend this book?
Not really to be honest. It was good, but for me the negatives far outweighed the positives.

Do I recommend that you buy this book?
Absolutely not.

Star Rating

4 / 8

Alright, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Mini Blog-a-thon


These two little rabbits aren't quite as cute as mine (even though as I type they are in the progress of tearing their cage apart) but they are cute nonetheless!

Anyway....

Easter is over, and I have the day to myself. So, I have decided to have a mini bog-a-thon today.


Reviews
There are 4 book reviews that I am behind on - The Legacy by Kirstin Tranter, The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, The Double Crown by Marie Heese and The Spare Room by Helen Garner.


Additional
I also want to write about a post about the book club I went to recently, and I have a new idea for a challenge. I know that its late in the year to be starting a new challenge, but even if it's only me participating in it I think I will have fun with it.


Progress Report
The Legacy review begun
The Legacy review posted
The Portrait of a Lady review begun
The Portrait of a Lady review scheduled for 07/04/10
New Challenge: 'The My Name Book Challenge' post created
The Double Crown review completed and saved
Through the Looking Glass review scheduled 06/04/2010
Author interview questions emailed to the authors

A Blast from the Past: The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser


A Blast From the Past is a meme for people to review a book that they read before they started blogging. It doesn't have to be a favourite, it might be that you didn't enjoy it. It is about sharing a book from your past with others.

The Lost Dog by Michelle de Krestser

I think that I read this in 2008 but it has a book that has stayed with me since then, unfortunately for all the wrong reasons.

I was so excited when I purchased this book - it was an Australian novel that had been long listed for Man Booker Prize of 2008, and usually I am guaranteed to love love any book up for the Man Booker. The fact that it was Australian made it even more exciting for me. Unfortunately, it fell way below my expectations.

Here is the back of the book:
Tom Loxley is holed up in a remote bush shack trying to finish his book on Henry James when his beloved dog goes missing. What follows is a triumph of storytelling, as The Lost Dog loops back and forth in time to take the reader on a spellbinding journey into worlds far removed from the present tragedy. Set in present-day Australia and mid-twentieth century India, here is a haunting, layered work that brilliantly counterpoints new cityscapes and their inhabitants with the untamed, ancient continent beyond. With its atmosphere of menace and an acute sense of the unexplained in any story, it illuminates the collision of the wild and the civilised, modernity and the past, home and exile. The Lost Dog is a mystery and a love story, an exploration of art and nature, a meditation on ageing and the passage of time. It is a book of wonders: a gripping contemporary novel which examines the weight of history as well as different ways of understanding the world.

Sounds promising doesn't it? Don't let it fool you. There were 2 things that I was really disappointed about this book.

The first is the ending. Don't worry, I won't spoil it for you. But for me, this is one of those books that successfully creates mystery and leaves you wanting to know the ending - but then leaves you hanging. That is how I felt at the end of this book - like I was left hanging.

Te second is the style of writing employed by de Kretser to tell the story. It is very stylistic writing, very individual and creative. It is a book where the style of writing is almost supposed to be as much the focus of the reader's attention as the story is. But for me, it just got in the way of the story. The way it was written was so frustrating, so confusing. I just wanted to cut straight to the story instead of wading through all the language. Don't get me wrong, usually I like prose that takes you on a journey through the book in the same way that the story does - but this was just way too much for me.

It has won so many awards:
  • Winner of the NSW Premier's Book of the Year Award 2008
  • Winner of the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction (NSW Premier's Literary Awards) 2008
  • Winner of the 2008 ALS Gold Medal
  • Shortlisted for the Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction (VIC Premier's Literary Awards) 2008
  • Shortlisted for the Western Australian Premier's Australia-Asia Literary Award 2008
  • Shortlisted for the 2008 Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Best Book, Asia-Pacific Region)
  • Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2008
and yet it still falls flat for me. I think though that I might be one of the only people who feel like this. For example, it received a great review in The Age. If you like reading wonderfully written book reviews, not just reviews written from a blogging perspective, but very professional ones - i very much recommend that you read this review - it is wonderful reading in and of itself.
The review in The Age puts into words what I am trying to say about the style of writing, but it does so far more eloquently and clearly with some literary perspective. For that reviewer, however, the style was obviously something they admired, whereas for me it was just frustrating.

If anyone is fascinated by this strange review - you can listen to an interview with de Kretser on ABC Radio National by clicking here.

As weird as this sounds - I will not say that I don't recommend that you read this book. On the contrary, it is so unusual in it's style of writing I would recommend that you read it and I would be fascinated to hear what you think of it. If anyone else out there has read this book, please let me know what you thought of it. Better yet, if you've reviewed it, please leave a link to your review.