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Monday, December 31, 2012

MAILBOX MONDAY/IT'S MONDAY! WHAT ARE YOU READING?

 
Mailbox Monday is hosted by Suko's Notebook for December.
 
This week has been a generous one. A win from Judith at Leeswammes Blog. I mixed the wins last week for which I apologize again.
 
 
The other two books are both purchases of mine (using reward points which expire today!) Two gorgeous novels.


I can't wait to sink into this one!!!! just love her books.

I was one of those dissenting voices which did not like Wolf Hall but I think I'd like this one! talk of being contrary.......

I almost did not get this post done as its the last day of the year. I did not realize that some of the banks were closing at 11 am and others were working the usual working day. I was really caught flat out trying to get money across to our workers a distance away, very badly effected by the floods and fortunately found a lorry driver going that way who agreed to take the wages.

The other meme I follow is

hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

The book I am reading right now is Purge by Sofi Oksanen. I am finding it a bit hard to get into as it seems a bit erratic at this stage but I will finish it eventually. Definitely the next book will be the P D James's one. It is absolutely too much to resist and be good and diligent and go in the order that was scheduled when I have a P D James just waiting to be read!

To all my readers a Happy, Prosperous, Peaceful and Healthy 2013.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A DANGEROUS FORTUNE by KEN FOLLETT


Starting in 1866 the story sets out in detail the workings of a banking family - the Pillasters and the machinations of a horrible matriarch who sets out to make her husband first the Senior Partner in the bank and then proceeds to make her son the same. How she sets about doing it is immaterial to her and who she sets aside in the process is also immaterial to her.

The story is also about Hugh - the blacksheep nephew of the family. Blacksheep through no fault of his own. His father did an unforgivable thing in the bank - pulled out his money, ended his career with bankruptcy and then committed suicide. Talk of the sins of the fathers falling on their children. Hugh ostracized from birth by the Pillaster family, and despite making enormous profits for the bank through sheer hard work could never be acknowledged for what he was actually worth, purely due to the hatred his aunt had for him.

The lust for power and money is the over riding feature for this story for each and every character. Even for our hero Hugh, his ultimate aim is to be made Senior Partner and though he is certainly not going through the murderous path of his Aunt and cousin he is quite determined to achieve his ambition even though frustrated at every turn. A lesser strong willed character would have given up at the first obstacle but our Hugh does not. It turns out to be a happy ending for Hugh and a twisted ending for the rest of the Pillaster family!


Follett does an amazing job with this story. After having read two very different kind of stories and settings before from this author, I now went to another era, another setting and liked the book so very much.  The saga of a family, almost a memoir of a banking family was an interesting one. The details of the craft of banking in those times, so different to now added to the interest in the story.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

THE RELUCTANT WIDOW by GEORGETTE HEYER


For me Christmas is usually synonymous with a Georgette Heyer read and I was lucky I had this on my pile to read in a day!

A bit unusual in that we have a feisty heroine bamboozled into marrying someone she doesn't even know and whom she met accidentally, by getting into the wrong coach (she thought she was going to be a governess for Mrs Macclesfield but ended up with Lord Carlyon!) and we go on from there. Eustace Cheviot dies very conveniently the next minute and we have Elinor a widow in a few hours and in the midst of French spies, emigres, the British administration and a missing document which will cause havoc unless found and found quickly.

Unlike other Heyer heroine's, this one is a working girl keen on her independence with marriage furthest away from her mind. Not a simpering miss or a rich heiress, the daughter of someone very respectable who committed suicide in the face of gambling ruin she certainly is different. We have our hero -a Lord of course - but one who needs to sort out the mess his cousin has led the family into and trying to avoid dragging the family name into a major scandal.

Falling in love and ending of course happily ever after  is what Ms. Heyer aims for and such it is.

I have to apologise to Jo from Jov of Book of Pyramid from the UK who sent me the book Purge won from her blog. I mixed it up with the book Without Mercy which I won from Judith of Leeswammes blog. Apologies to both parties.

 

Monday, December 24, 2012

HAPPY CHRISTMAS



Wishing all my readers a very Blessed Christmas. May the blessings of the Christ child be with you always.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

MAILBOX MONDAY/IT'S MONDAY! WHAT ARE YOU READING?


Mailbox Monday hosted by Suko's Notebook.

Only one book this week courtesy of a win from Judith of Leeswammes

This was Purge by Sofi Oksanen. Thanks Judith.


The other meme which I follow and enjoy is that sponsored by Book Journey.


Reading another Ken Follett - another genre this time set in the 1800s.  A Dangerous Fortune sets out the history of a banking family and their matriarch's determination to hold on to power (at whatever cost). Just 100 pages in and liking it very much.

To all my readers a very Blessed Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

EVERY SECRET THING by SUSANNA KEARSLEY


This was the second book sent by the author herself. So very different from The Winter Sea this is more of a modern crime/thriller/mystery genre and the difference was the one thing that made me enjoy it so very much. I found it amazing that Kearsley could switch from the historical fiction of the 1700s so easily to the more modern WWI days and of the 20th century.

We have Kate a modern day journalist working in Canada who is taken completely unaware by a series of apparently un-connected events and meetings which form the crux of the story and set our journalist on a path she never thought she would travel.

Kate does not take much notice of the first event as it unfurls when Andrew Deacon an elderly gentleman mentions that his story involves one of a murder which was not solved. Or rather justice not meted out. She puts it out of her mind until a few minutes later when she is the witness to a hit and run driver who mows Deacon down. Even then Kate does not know that it is murder. She just thinks it is a random accident but further events which cannot be described as coincidence any longer puts Kate and anyone whom she comes in contact with at risk.  Kate begins to realize that the plot is much more convoluted than what it seems and goes back decades and is something that the British government is not willing to be made public and even years later someone in power,  will kill and kill again to see that the truth, the embarassing truth will not come out.

Kate must now use all her journalistic skills to analyse and seek the truth. She must use her personal judgement to know whom she can trust and who will betray her. Different to the early Kearsley reads but enjoyable all the same. Liked it very, very much.

On another note, Sri Lanka is having widespread floods. 80,000 people displaced and 27 killed upto now. The floods are now hopefully abating - and help is being given to all those in need. This is a sad prelude to Christmas - so many people destitute now.

In the capital city Colombo itself, there is no flooding and the festivities seem to be in full spate. I do hope that people do not forget the less fortunate citizens.



 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

ON WINGS OF EAGLES by KEN FOLLETT


My first read of this fabulous author was Pillars of the Earth. It was stunning. After that book, this was a complete change of both style, period and story. It took me  a while to get going on this one even though the story was such a fast paced, interesting one. I think my mind was set in the 1700's from the last book and just could not move forward to the 20th century!

Set amidst the onset of the Iranian revolution, the ouster of the Shah and the installation of the new goverment it is such an unlikely tale that it almost seems untrue. But, it is true. How Ross Perot the head of EDS Computers set out on a mission to rescue two of his employees held in an Iranian jail on no charges with a motley crowd of employees and how he succeeded in getting them out with no casualties and in fact came back with one more person (an Iranian) without whose help the mission could not have succeeded.

Breaking several laws (passport fraud, border controls, money illegally brought in and taken out, smuggling of human beings over a border, bribery at every turn) the story goes from one unbelievable escapade to another because it is actually escapades! unbelievable ones at that and you hold your breath wondering when the bubble will burst and when it is all going to come tumbling down.

There is a lot of questions as to the suitability of Follett to handle this story. Whether historical fiction and an adventure of this sort could be written by the one and same author. I think Follett may not have understood very much of the Iranian revolution itself, but this particular story is very well told. It is full of suspense and a cliff hanger. It holds your interest to the end.

Follett is full of surprises and I am now waiting to get to his next book with me!

Monday, December 17, 2012

MAILBOX MONDAY/IT'S MONDAY! WHAT ARE YOU READING?

 
Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Suko's Notebook in December.
 
After a whopping big mailbox last week I am in a drought season again. No books came into the house but I certainly have plenty to keep me going this week.
 
 

It's Monday What Are you Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  I am in the middle of reading Every Secret Thing which was the second book sent by Susanna Kearsley (I mistakenly said The Rose Garden! sorry). Finding it absolutely fascinating.

I have had a very stressful two weeks with my husband in hospital and work piling up by the day.
Reading had to take a back seat but in between doctor appointments and waiting for someone to show up, reading does get done.

We are having a bit of rain right now, very welcome weather as it was so very hot and dry.
 
 
 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

THE WINTER SEA by SUSANNA KEARSLEY

 
I was very late to read Diana Gabaldon. I loved her books and then came to Susanna Kearsley - she sent me two books and this is the first of the lot. Reading this book I was wondering  whether I was reading about  Susanna Kearsley or about Carrie the author in this story! The story was so authentic and realistic that I actually felt that this was Kearsley writing her story and not a novel.
 
We have Carrie a successful author of repute writing historical fiction and through a series of "happenings" which one does realize is part of a bigger picture we find Sophie through a reason of deduction an ancestor of Carrie and then we have the twist to the story where Carrie actually writes her story and then subsequently realizes through research that what she writes is what actually happened in real life. The series of her writing this story slowly unravels Sophie's entire life story from its very tortuous beginning to its very sad middle and to its glorious end. More would be spoilers because I doubt anyone reading the book would have ever imagined how the story ended.  My imagination would definitely never be up for it and I loved it.
 
The uprising of 1708 in all its gory detail - the futility of the uprising and all the historical detail is beautifully descriptive. On top of that the contrast in chapters where we go from the present day ruins of Slains and all other places of interest and how they actually were in the 1700s makes for a beautiful story.
 
The story is poignant, rich in detail and so warm that I am definitely looking up the rest of the books from this author.
 
Thank you Susanna Kearsley for the books.
 
 
 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I'LL NEVER BE YOUNG AGAIN by DAPHNE DU MAURIER


A book which I had never heard of before. First published in 1932 it has a slightly old fashioned feel to it as well.  We have Dick - young, impetuous and the son of a very famous writer. The father seems cold and indifferent and very distant. Mother follows father's instructions and Dick is always left out in the cold. He longs for recognition and affection but does not get it from his parents. After a falling out, he leaves home and stays away from home for years.  Dick when he leaves home is desperate and wants to end it all, but at the back of his mind is always the hope that some good Samaritan will come along and save him in the nick of time.

This does happen and Jake becomes the pivot of Dick's life. The story continues with adventures on the high seas, adventures in Scandinavia ending with a tragedy and then his meeting a young American woman and life changes once more. This is not a happily ever after story anyway.

The story portrays Dick as selfish and self centred. Reading the novel one does not have any sympathy for the young man and in fact one can become a bit self righteous saying "serves him right"!  At the beginning of the story you can always put it down to the workings of an unmatured youngster but as the story unravels you realize you are dealing with a totally selfish man.

I've read a host of Du Maurier and found this totally strange. Strange and different.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

MAILBOX MONDAY/IT'S MONDAY! WHAT ARE YOU READING?


Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Suko's Notebook for the month of December.

After a drought I got some delightful books!

 
 

After The Pillars of the Earth I am a huge fan.

Next was a bonanza!!!! Christmas came very early in the form of Santa Claus alias Susanna Kearsley who sent me two books.

 
After The Shadowy Horses and Mariana and my plaintive cries that her books were not available in the Melbourne library when I was there, this was the result. I am so very happy over these gems.
 
 
 
Sorry the wording is blurred. The book is The Other Elizabeth Taylor by Nicola Beauman and was a win from Laura . Thank you ever so much for this book.




This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  My reading this last week was very little. I finished The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett which was a huge tome and then I have just finished today I'll Never be Young Again by Daphne du Maurier.

This was a hardback published in 1932 and is her second novel. One that I had never ever heard about so I was curious to see what it was like. Review will follow.

I am dying to read The Winter Garden next but there are several books which I should finish first so maybe I will try to stay on the straight and narrow and finish what I've started!

My Christmas shopping and distribution of gifts are over. The children were delighted with their gifts and I enjoyed the whole experience myself.

 
 
 
 
 


Photos not very clear as they are taken from a phone. They couldn't wait till I got the stuff out of the car. Finally the distribution took place from the car!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

CAT'S EYE by MARGARET ATWOOD


It has been a week of little or no reading and this book was read over several days and I dont think I did it justice like that.

The book took me back to my school days and it brought into focus how vicious young children can be. Elaine is just one of a group and how she is ostracized, humiliated, mentally tortured by the machinations of three very young children is unbelievable. What is also unbelievable is how we want always to be accepted and admired and how we are ever willing to put up with a lot of heartache in order that we can be part of a pack and not a solitary person.  What mental trauma is endured just to be accepted by all is one of the highlights of the story.

This was not a happy, easy read for me. It was tough and I found it difficult when I saw how Elaine's parents seemed oblivious to their daughter's plight. It is true that Elaine kept things  well hidden and always  overt, but I do hope my parenting skills were better and I was more in a position to protect my own children, rather than leave them unguarded in situations which were way beyond their comprehension or understanding.  I started questioning myself as to whether I was guilty of the same sins of being blind and I was very uncomfortable with the feeling it brought about!

The story goes on gradually into Elaine's adult life and her success as a painter as well as a mother of two girls.

The book is an introspective one and one that would make you think. I've only read The Handmaid's Tale before this one and that was dystopian. It was also not an easy read but it was certainly easier than this one.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH by KEN FOLLETT


Set in the 12th century in the fictitious town of Knightsbridge this is a whopping good read. Not just for lovers of medieval times or historical fiction but for anyone who wants a good story. A cathedral is the centerpiece of the story for me and how the fascination of a builder - in this book not just one but a couple of them evolve into a major storyline which will keep you glued to this 1100 page book from the first page to the last.

The story is long, twisted and complicated. There is so much love, hatred, lust, envy, hunger for power amongst not just the knights and kings but also amongst the monks (that was a good one for me!) and the machinations of one seemingly very simple Prior who was in essence a good man but who wanted to do more for his people and in a very simple, unassuming way did exactly what he wanted to get what he wanted.

We have simple family units of Tom and Agnes and their two children, we then have Ellen coming into the picture (looked on as eccentric by some and as a witch by others), we have Aliena and Richard and in Aliena's case a catalyst for so much of the violence which erupts wherever she is,  we have the power hungry Hamleigh family - vicious to the last, out to screw everyone out for whatever they can get, determined to be Earls of Shiring and do better than anyone else and to do this rule by just the power of terror, we have rival Bishops and Priors who support one king against another, just depending on which way a good wind is blowing and all with the ulterior motive of holding on to their own wealth and more importantly increasing it and at the same time hopefully bring down whoever they feel is a threat to them.

A very raw, emotional read. Makes you glad you are not a serf or a peasant in the 12th century where your current Lord can walk into your mill, your house or your fields and take off with whatever he likes, including your daughters or your wife. Makes you very glad you are an independent human being not dependent on someone's goodwill, support or guidance.  A descriptive book which details life in the 12th century - the domestic trivia of agriculture, dairy, herding and housewifery was intrinsic to the story - on top of that we have detailed descriptions of building practices and how a mighty cathedral is actually built using very simple, primitive tools and then we have the most important human element of people being added to the mix and then you have a wonderfully unusual story.

It took me a while to get through this book but I enjoyed every page of it.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

MAILBOX MONDAY/IT'S MONDAY! WHAT ARE YOU READING?

Nothing new came into my Mailbox but I am trying to play catch up. I am expecting a whole lot of
new reads tomorrow but that will go into next week's Mailbox.

Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Suko's Notebook for December.




This meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

I started on Ken Follett's book



Its 1000 odd pages and I am now in the mid 600s. Its absolutely fantastic. An amazing read so far. A mix of Wolf Hall and Sarah Dunant styles!!!! Everything else has got kept aside - Michael Ondaatjie and Julian Rathbone are still half done only.