Friday, August 21, 2015

Before the Rains Come and more

Spring is almost here and I know for sure that when I get to Book Club this month there will have been a spring clean of our book bags. You just can't heave them all around so we are quite ruthless and the books that you bought when it was your turn to choose, get returned to you and some find the way into the Walmer Library, as donations. My attendance at book club is a bit sporadic with my travelling these but here is what I hear the ladies are enjoying:-

Leaving Before the Rains Come

Another book by one of our favourite authors was very welcome! Alexander Fuller's 'Don't lets go to the Dogs Tonight' and 'Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness' were memoirs of her childhood in Rhodesia and her eccentric mother. This book tells how she met Charlie Ross, an American adventurer in Africa whom she marries and has three children. They are attracted by their differences and their  marriage unravels over two continents when those differences become the reason not to be together, I really enjoy her writing, her use of language, her humour and admire the interesting life she has lived and I cant wait to get my hands on this.
Interestingly enough no one seems to talk about her second novel 'Scribbling the Cat' which I loved. Perhaps the topic is not as popular as it tells the story of a veteran of the Rhodesian bush war. I believe anything by Alexander Fuller will be a fantastic read.

I am Pilgrim

I remember the 70s and 80s when books where big, thick, epic stories usually family sagas set over generations. These days we don't have time to wade through all those pages any more so I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes is not for the faint hearted. Nearly 700 three pages long, its a spy thriller kicked off by a gruesome murder scene and its driven by the stories of a large number of interlocking and interweaving lives of the man Pilgrim and the narrator and man who is on a mission to catch him before he destroys the world. The plot twists and turns like a python in a sack and this fast paced turn pager is an astonishing debut novel which I believe will be on the big screen in no time. A second book is already due for release in May next year. Definitely on the popular list in our book club.

Life After Life

This is my best read this year. If I was forced to choose one author as my favourite, Kate Atkinson would be the one. I loved her 'Behind the Scenes in the Museum' and became to slave to her next book after each release. Her latest novel is her most ambitious to date and tells the story of the Todd family and in particular Ursula who is born during a snowstorm in England in 1911, and dies before she can take her first breath. In 1911 during a snowstorm Ursula is born again and this time lives and dies several times throughout her life. Complex I know, but its a story of 'what ifs' a little like the movie sliding doors which has multiple stories within stories all leading to different endings. Its challenging but addictive and so well written - a masterpiece really! The main part of the book is set during the war years, both first and second, and her characters brought to life as if they are relations of yours. It's a long time since I have wanted to get home so I can read and this book does that - I couldn't wait to spend time with Ursula and the Todds and find out what happens to them. Again there is a sequel - out now - which tells the story of her much loved brother, Teddy a fighter bomber pilot. This will be my holiday read as I visit England next month and as my dad and grandfather were RAF pilots I am really looking forward to it.

A Spool of Blue Thread

Anne Tyler is a popular choice with book club and her books are quiet observations of family life and relationships. This one is no different - its the story of three generations of Whitshanks and a family gathering to discuss what is to be done about Abby and Red, who are getting older and what is to happen to their beloved family home. Its a gentle book to climb into bed with a night but none the less beautifully written and a compelling tale that we can all relate to. I was reading it at the airport in Zimbabwe and an American tourist came to ask if I was enjoying it,  as Anne Tyler is one of her favourites - we spoke about books, reading and book clubs, families, Africa, travelling and the world in general  for over an hour while waiting to board, A book can really bring people together - if I had been reading it on Kindle I would not have had that interesting conversation!

Its book club on Tuesday and I am looking forward to catching up and hearing what else is being enjoyed. I will try not to leave my blog entry so long next time. Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Bookclub catch up and books for Everyone!

Back home after after a spell in Natal and some travelling and we had such a lovely bookclub last week with lots to talk about.....and even books!
It was my turn to buy books this month and I left it a little late to research and order the best reviews books online so I resorted to a visit to the local bookstore and took 2 of their recommendations plus two random choices. I was horrified at the price of books here in SA (am so used to downloading onto my Kindle) or ordering from Amazon. Anyway I bought Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins; Esther's House

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

As fast as an express train and compulsively readable - this kept me awake late into the night!
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their patio. As lonely as she is she begins to  feel as if she knows them and creates names for them.  Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. 

Esther's House by Carol Campbell

I haven't read this yet but I love a local read and this title made me think of The Housemaids Daughter that bookclub so enjoyed,
Random Struik tell us,"Esther Gelderblom has been waiting for a house for twenty years. In the bitter Oudtshoorn winter she and her friend Katjie queue to ask when their names will finally appear on the government’s list of housing recipients. Esther dreams of a home for her daughter Liedjie, who plays the keyboard for the Bless Me Jesus church, and for her husband, Neville, who will then get his life in order. But corruption is rife as housing officials manipulate the list for favours. When Katjie’s shack burns down, the two women take matters into their own hands, occupying two empty houses and setting in motion events that will compromise everything they hold dear. 
Esther’s House is a story of greed, power, and the fight for what is right when good people are pushed too far.

The School of Life Cookery School by Nicky Pellegrino

In a remote Sicilian mountain town, four women arrive at a cookery school, each at a turning point in their lives. Moll is a foodie and an exhausted working mum on the holiday of a lifetime, Tricia a top lawyer is taking a break from the demands of her job and family. Valerie, consumed by grief  following the death of her partner, is trying to figure out how to live without him, And recently divorced Poppy has come to Sicily to learn about the place that her grandfather was born before emigrating to Australia, Luca Amore runs the school, using recipes passed down to him by generations of Amore women and he expects this course to be much like the others - but as sparks fly, friendships are made, secrets shared and nothing will ever be the same again. 
I haven't sampled this but it looks a nice holiday read and with Easter around the corner I though it was a good buy, Also the cover looked delicious!

My second random selection is The Widow's Confession by Sophia Tobin. Its a thriller set in Broadstairs in 1851 and was inspired by a painting of Ramsgate seaside exhibited in 1854. What can I say - it just looked readable and I hope that bookclub will enjoy it!

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

 I am currently reading this and thoroughly enjoying it. Most of bookclub have read it and I got a last minute request to look for the sequel "The Rosie Effect" which was my 5th book purchase. If its as good as the first book - its a winner. The Rosie Project is laugh out loud funny! 
Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.  Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

So they are our reads this month. I also enjoyed Mrs Hemmingway by Naomi Wood whilst travelling and while in Singapore I started to read Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan which is still waiting to be finished on my Kindle. 

Happy Reading everyone - nothing like settling down at night with a good book and Easter Chocolates!