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Friday, November 29, 2013

THE ILL MADE KNIGHT by CHRISTIAN CAMERON

The Ill-Made Knight

This was a win from Meghan at Medieval Bookworm. I sometimes enter a giveaway which is restricted to either the UK or Australia and if I do win (and I have) then the wins take quite a long time to reach me. The win is sent to a friend's home and she brings it with her when she visits Sri Lanka twice a year. In Australia its my children who bring the books!!!  This was a book won in September and it reached me this week. It was a book fully worth waiting for.

A story set in the Middle Ages and the Hundred Years War between England and France, the Middle Ages is depicted mainly by the struggle for simple survival. Overwhelmed by the plague which wiped out one third of the population, people just had to survive and the ordinary man was caught in either sickness or in war. 

The Hundred Years War which forms the backbone of the story of William Gold our knight in the story is one which gave me mixed reactions. On the one side, the horrors of a medieval war seem horrific. The mass murders of entire villages, the burning of crops and fields in the name of war, the rape of women and the murder of scores of children seem to be so callous and so much part of the war that even the country being pillaged know that this is going to happen and it is taken as par for the course. Very matter of fact approach that if you lose this is your fate. However, at the same time traces of decency and chivalry existed amongst those who fight and the rare case of such as in the case of our knight who acts at times in such a manner are highlights of the story. 

The rise of a man like Will Gold from being a mercenary and his rising and falling fortunes throughout his career, his ascendancy to a position of a leader from being a goldsmith's apprentice and a cook, the importance of status and position and how the church did play an important part in all the wars of this period were important features of this story. Religion was a major part of the story as it was a major part of most lives in this time.

A very interesting book of a period I knew very little about.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

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

 


 
After about two weeks I've got some new books.
 

 
 
The Ill-Made Knight
 
 
almond
 
 
 
These came unexpectedly which is a good thing as I am right now without any reads.
 
 
 
Hosted by Sheila at a Book Journey. Due to the lack of new books (the above turned up this morning) I have been reading a book on Rome (Lonely Planet publication). I would love to spend a month at least in Rome as I think it is a city that needs a lot of time!

FRIDAY NIGHTS by JOANNA TROLLOPE

 




Friday Nights


 Joanna Trollope never disappoints me. I get into the book with a sense of anticipation! waiting gleefully to see what happens. I get the same feeling with a Susanna Kearsley or a Diana Gabaldon. New authors I've still to develop a relationship with -  these are like old friends where you know you are in for a good time.


Eleanor, single retired from an active professional life, otherwise isolated has the pluck to do what others would like to do but cannot. She invites two single mothers over for Friday night - with their very young babies because she feels they are lost and alone. For want of anything better to do they go. The group gets added on. A younger hip sister of one girl, a neighbor and strong ties develop.  The group is still only women - some of them single, some with kids but all struggling to get on - to make something of their lives.

The change comes about suddenly when one of them finds a partner whom she is very happy about. Paula's son Toby a very important part of the group also gets on well with him and everyone tries to adjust and be happy for Paula's sake. Cracks appear however. Jackson is not into commitment and happily ever after and he is interested in everyone and everything - particularly with an eye to business. Offering a partnership to one person of the group, making the most vulnerable member Jules an offer with her djing which gets her hopes up and Paula is left bereft not knowing which way she is going.

The story is about a bunch of women whom you can identify with immediately. We all have characters like this somewhere around us. How relationships develop, how they shatter and what effect we each have on each other is part of the story.

Nice read for the weekend.























 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

JUST ONE DAMNED THING AFTER ANOTHER by JODI TAYLOR

Just One Damned Thing After Another

This was a win from Goodreads. I liked the bit about St Mary's and that made me enter the competition (that is the convent upbringing coming out in me. It never goes away either).

The book was gorgeous. Time travel in such a fun way - not the drama of Diana Gabaldon but a scientific, well planned out, I would say like going for work almost kind of feeling which brought it from the out of this world experience to a kind of mundane but exciting thing to read about. I almost am beginning to think now that maybe, just maybe this is going to be possible in about a hundred years!!! 

We follow the pursuits at St Mary's from the eleventh century in London, zipping off to the era of T Rex, then zipping back to the Crimean war and going here there and everywhere. We then have a major discovery on the way! Inadvertently against all policy a tiny bit of a fir tree comes back to 21st century St. Mary's. And why is it significant - because it got burnt and it had no future and then it dawns on everyone that what if you get the bits of history that were lost or went up in flames or just disappeared from the face of the earth. Those missing bits cannot affect the course of history so if they are found it would be now a major discovery. 

I loved the imaginative feel of this author. How she came or rather cooked up a story like this is very difficult for someone staid like me to imagine. I however loved to read about it. I only hope that I can get to Vol 2 and 3 at some stage soon. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

First chapter - First paragraph Tuesday Introduction - Friday Nights by Joanna Trollope

 
 
 
Every Tuesday Diane at Bibiliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where she shares the first paragraph or (a few) of a book she is reading or thinking about reading soon. Please join in this meme.

The book I hope to start tonight is

Friday Nights




















Joanna Trollope is a favourite author of mine. I like the light hearted but at the same time tongue in the cheek humour. The handling of human relationships and everyday happenings within all normal families. These are spot on!


"Toby's mother said that when Eleanor came he'd have to go down to the ground floor and help her with the lift.

Toby said - sulkily because he was angry with her for something he couldn't quite put his finger on - 'She doesn't need help'.

His mother was standing in front of the mirror she had propped on top of a chest in her bedroom. She was arranging her hair in a complicated kind of knot, and she had a hairclip between her teeth.

Through it she said without looking at him 'Toby, this isn't about need. It's about manners'.

Am so looking forward to reading this book.

The last couple of weeks have been so so on the book reading front. I couldn't finish two books and this is something that rarely happens - when it does I get really upset because first of all getting the books is a huge problem and when I get them and don't like them that becomes for me such a waste of time and resources.......

This is one such book that will not disappoint though!


















 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

IT'S MONDAY! WHAT ARE YOU READING?


 


2a
 
I normally also do Mailbox Monday - but since the only book that came this last week has been read and reviewed, I am only doing the above meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.
 
This is the book I am reading right now!
 

Just One Damned Thing After Another


I won this on Goodreads and was skeptical when I got it. Halfway through and am enjoying it tremendously. Its a time travel (series) and this is time travel on a massive scale. We go way way baaack! T Rex etc.......

Book reading still very very slow due to far too much work but work has to be done anyway!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

MOONRISE by CASSANDRA KING

Moonrise

This was a win from Kathy at Bermudaonion. It was so timely because I have no reading material at all. Or rather the books I have, have been so disappointing its not true!

I have read stories where a house has been the main character and it has always been spectacular. This one was equally so. We have Helen - just married to the enigmatic and rather strong willed Emmett and both of them are returning to Moonrise to spend three months there. Moonrise belonged to Emmett's first wife Rosalynn who died tragically in a car crash. The people who live near Moonrise have been Rosalynn's friends and most of them are rather cautious in their welcome of Emmett and his new wife. After all Emmett married Helen less than one year after the death of his first wife and most of them disapproved of this short mourning period.

From the onset one knows that the characters in the story are more than what they seem. There seems to be many hidden agendas amongst them not just the fact that they are distraught over Rosalynn's death. One by one reasons, twisted and otherwise emerge and Helen and Emmett have to find a way to keep their marriage intact and their heads above the water in the face of all this.

I liked this book - it had elements of mystery, love and romance, thwarted love and a sense of the gothic particularly in relation to the house and the gardens. I hadn't heard of moon gardens before this and must investigate this further. I always like a book when it leaves me with something new I've learnt and this book did that as well.

Thanks Kathy and a very happy birthday to you today!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

WHITE TEETH by ZADIE SMITH


I liked this book initially when I heard about the modern Britain background. I thought the mix of ethnicities will add such flavour to the book. I was disappointed once again with a book (happened to me last week as well). This is particularly heavy going for me. It is difficult to source books and then you get someone like Zadie Smith disappointing you. 

The stories told by Archie (failed marriage, suicidal) and a Bengali who is British to the core - Samad. Serving together in a war the pair are such unlikely comrades but they are. Archie then marries a Jamaican woman in her twenties Clara and Samad marries Alsana in a proposed marriage. Both produce children a girl in Archie's case and twin boys for Samad. 

There are two distinct worlds here - the one of the Archie Jones and the one of Samad Iqbal. Circuitous, different and at the same time similarities  - the chaos of different generations, race and social factors all rolled into one. I did not like any of the characters but maybe that should be superfluous to a review of the book. I just could not get into this one. They left me dissatisfiied and faintly annoyed.

On a non book note, thank you for the good wishes for the quick recovery of my husband. His is an illness which is taking a toll on him - because from being a very active man he is now confined to the house which does not sit well with him. We box on the best way we can. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

THE HUSBAND'S SECRET by LIANE MORIARTY

The Husband's Secret

After simply ages, I got a book that I had to read in one go. The last week has been a very difficult one. Husband in hospital since last Sunday and discharged last night at 10 p.m. only but I did find that a hospital stay is a good time for reading. In between doctor's visits, medications and general work this book got read in a day and a bit!

Right at the start we know we are in for a rollicking ride. Cecilia discovers a letter dusty and forgotton in the attic "to be opened only on my death" sort of letter. She really is a good soul because she does not rip it open (I think nine out of ten women would have done that!) but it simmers within her and it is only her husband's rather strange behaviour which follows her telling him of the discovery that makes her open this letter. Right upto now Cecilia has been a model wife and mother to their three children, a pillar in the community, in the school and in the church. The letter and its contents disrupt not just Will and Cecilia's lives but everyone else around them.

Apart from the story of Cecilia and Will and their three children, we have two parallel stories of the Crowley family - Rachel who has faced a tragedy in her life 20 odd years ago, her daughter and grandson and then we have the O'Leary triangle of Tess, Will  and the cousin Felicity.

The meeting point for three diverse units is St. Angela's Primary. We also throw in an attractive PE teacher who has links with all and the setting is complete.

A story set mainly in Sydney, Australia beautifully told. Intense to the point of which you have to know what happens next. An author I am certainly going to be looking out for. The epilogue at the end was such a twist. Makes you ponder on your own life and the what ifs!!!

This was a book I had been following quite a bit and the way it came to me was so very unexpected. A friend came out from England with this book as a gift for the hostess. The hostess did not stand a chance - I grabbed it saying I will read and return asap. Which I did. So very very glad I did. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

PREP by CURTIS SITTENFIELD

Prep


So much of this book is so familiar. I think every fourteen year old girl has grown up being unsure, wanting to be popular and pretty, wanting to be one of a crowd, ashamed of our parents, nervous how they would behave with our friends, wondering who would let slip something that would later mark us out as being geeks!!! the story is endless.

However, I did not enjoy this book. It became too much of a negative for me.  Lee is from Indiana trying to fit into a boarding school where the more socially clever and richer families send their children to. She is there on scholarship and she feels this as a slight. After sometime, reading about Lee and her endless need for approval and to be part of the group got to me. 

I liked the first book I read by this author - The American Wife and was very disappointed with this one! It left me very dissatisfied.