WWW Wednesday

16 Jul

W…W…W…Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should be Reading. 

TO PLAY ALONG, JUST ANSWER THE FOLLOWING THREE (3) QUESTIONS:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

_________________________________________________________________________________

What are you currently reading?

I am reading City of Bones by Cassandra Clare – book one of The Mortal Instruments series which was released as a movie last year. I always like to read the book before watching the movie so haven’t seen it yet. Currently on page 357 out of 442 so not long to go. It’s a really easy read and i’m quite enjoying it after reading something as heavy going as Catch-22.

City of Bones - Cassandra Clare

City of Bones – Cassandra Clare

What did you recently finish reading? 

Since my last WWW Wednesday i’ve finished 4 books. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote; The Bride Stripped Bare by Nikki Gemmell; The Bridge to Holy Cross by Paullina Simons; and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. Click on the titles or book covers to read my reviews, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on these books. 

Breakfast at Tiffany's - Truman Capote

Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote

The Bride Stripped Bare - Nikki Gemmell

The Bride Stripped Bare – Nikki Gemmell

The Bridge to Holy Cross - Paullina Simons

The Bridge to Holy Cross – Paullina Simons

Catch-22 - Joseph Heller

Catch-22 – Joseph Heller

What do you think you’ll read next?

The next book on my list is Cloudstreet by Australian author Tim Winton. I’ve never read any of his books, but have always heard amazing things so i’m looking forward to it!

Cloudstreet - Tim Winton

Cloudstreet – Tim Winton

I would love to hear your thoughts on any of these books, although no spoilers please for the ones I haven’t read yet!

-H-

#33 Catch-22 – Joseph Heller

15 Jul
Catch-22 - Joseph Heller

Catch-22 – Joseph Heller

Goodreads rating: 3.96/5 (380K+ ratings)
My rating: 4/10
First Published: 11 November, 1961
Genre: Satire; War Fiction; Historical Fiction; Dark Humour

A classic novel, Catch-22 follows Captain John Yossarian who is part of the US Air Force, and is primarily based on an island off Italy where his squadron is stationed during World War II. It is mainly about how they keep their sanity while waiting for the war to end, and how they keep themselves going.

This book took me 2 very very long months to read, and I didn’t enjoy it until the last 3 chapters. I think I just don’t ‘get’ satire – I think it might be too clever for me to be perfectly honest. I was bored. I also got confused because the story jumps around in time and character, and I found it difficult to figure out where in the timeline of events I was.

The tone of the book is generally upbeat in the beginning, but the mood significantly drops about two-thirds of the way through, and that was actually when it got a bit interesting!

I definitely had quite a few chuckles throughout the book, but overall I really didn’t look forward to reading it, or enjoy it.

Notable quotes

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he would have to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle. “That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he observed. “It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.

One of the things [Yossarian] wanted to start screaming about was the surgeon’s knife that was almost certain to be waiting for him and everyone else who lived long enough to die. He wondered often how he would ever recognize the first chill, flush, twinge, ache, belch, sneeze, stain, lethargy, vocal slip, loss of balance or lapse of memory that would signal the inevitable beginning of the inevitable end.

“Haven’t you got anything humorous that stays away from waters and valleys and God? I’d like to keep away from the subject of religion altogether if we can.”
The chaplain was apologetic. “I’m sorry, sir, but I’m afraid all the prayers I know are rather somber in tone and make at least some passing reference to God.”
“Then let’s get some new ones.”

Yossarian was cold, too, and shivering uncontrollably. He felt goose pimples clacking all over him as he gazed down despondently at the grim secret Snowden had spilled all over the messy floor. It was easy to read the message in his entrails. Man was matter, that was Snowden’s secret. Drop him out a window and he’ll fall. Set fire to him and he’ll burn. Bury him and he’ll rot, like other kinds of garbage. That was Snowden’s secret. Ripeness was all.

Past reviews

“A wild, moving, shocking, hilarious, raging, exhilarating, giant roller-coaster of a book” – The New York Tribune

“A dazzling performance that will outrage nearly as many readers as it delights”- The New York Times

“doesn’t even seem to be written; instead, it gives the impression of having been shouted onto paper,” – The New Yorker

-H-

If you’ve read this, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts or reading your reviews so please share any links!

#32 The Bridge to Holy Cross – Paullina Simons

13 Jul

The Bronze Horseman Trilogy – Book 2 of 3
Read my review of book one here

The Bridge to Holy Cross - Paullina Simons

The Bridge to Holy Cross – Paullina Simons

 

Goodreads rating: 4.33/5 (14,100+ ratings)
My rating: 7/10
First Published: May 22, 2001
Genre: Romance; Historical Fiction

The Bridge to Holy Cross (also known as Tatiana & Alexander) is the second book in The Bronze Horseman trilogy, and follows book one - The Bronze Horseman. If you haven’t read Book One, I suggest you stop reading this review, and go and read it!

The Bridge to Holy Cross follows Tatiana and Alexander. Tatiana has now had Alexander’s baby, named Anthony, and has escaped to Ellis Island in New York, where she works as a nurse and has made friends in America. She believes Alexander has been killed during the war, however Alexander is alive in the Soviet Union and has been captured by the secret police, where he awaits death accused of being a traitor and a spy. The book revolves around both their perspectives, and their journey to find out the truth about each others circumstances.

I enjoyed it. My main issue with it, was that it repeated a lot of what we already knew and heard in book 1. Particularly it repeated the parts that I got bored of in book one (read the review to see what that was). However, it’s a really easy read, despite the size, and it totally draws you in, just like the first one.

I find Tatiana really lovely and endearing, however really don’t like Alexander. I’d be happy if Alexander did die, however I want them to find each other because of how much I like Tatiana. A friend at work has read this book and likes Alexander so it could just be me!

Apart from some of the repetitiveness, overall I really enjoyed this book, and am looking forward to reading the third, and final, book of the series, The Summer Garden.

If you’ve read this, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts or reading your reviews so please share any links!

-H-

 

#31 The Bride Stripped Bare – Nikki Gemmell

8 Apr
The Bride Stripped Bare - Nikki Gemmell

The Bride Stripped Bare – Nikki Gemmell

Goodreads rating: 3.09/5 (3,200+ ratings)
My rating: 6/10
First Published: 2003
Genre: Adult Fiction; Chick Lit

Originally published anonymously, The Bridge Stripped Bare is the story of a newly married woman, who ends up attending a library group regularly and meeting a man there. Through her diary, she details her sexual awakening that she discovers from being with this man, and the confidence this gives her both with her husband, and within herself.

One thing I really enjoyed about this book is that it’s woven together with an anonymous 17th-century text called ‘A Woeman’s Worth’ which is made up of lessons for women. The author then writes the novel as a response to the lessons in the 400 year old book. I liked reading the old lessons and comparing it to modern times.

Each ‘lesson’ is a different chapter, which are really short. When I began reading it, I didn’t like the format – it wasn’t gripping me and I couldn’t get into it, but after a while I was glad for it as it made it easier to read a little bit and then come back to later!

This novel is pretty straightforward and honest when it comes to the protagonist’s thoughts about sex. I must admit that when reading it at lunch at work I didn’t want anyone to see over my shoulder because some of the content is pretty raunchy. So keep that in mind when you read it!

Notable quotes

There were the endless birthday nights and New Year’s Eves of just you in your bed and no one else. There was the welling up at weddings, the glittery eye-prick, when all the couples would get up to dance. Sometimes it felt like your heart was crazed with cracks like your grandmother’s old saucers. Sometimes the sight of a Saturday afternoon couple laughing in a park would splinter it completely.

Alone you’re refinding a glittering, a clarity, you’re finding your distilled self. …You think of the two types of aloneness you’ve known recently: this wonderful, sparkly, soul-refreshing type, and the despairing loneliness that sucks the breath from your life.

An emptiness rules at its core, a rottenness, a silence when one of you retires to bed without saying good night, when you eat together without conversation, when the phone’s passed wordlessly to the other. An emptiness when every night you lie in the double bed, restlessly awake, astounded at how closely hate can nudge against love, can wind around it sinuously like a cat. An emptiness when you realize that the loneliest you’ve ever been is within a marriage, as a wife.

No one except your husband knows of the cautiousness at the heart of your life. Your adulthood has been a progressive retreat from curiosity and wonder, an endless series of delays and procrastinations. You wanted to be so much, once, but life kept on getting in the way… You settled. Shunned creativity, flight, risk, never had the courage to give a dream, any dream, a go.

Past reviews

“Simply too beautiful… a mesmerising and disquieting novel that will deserve to be read again.” – Vogue Australia

“One of the few truly original voices to emerge in a long time.”- Time Out New York

“A powerful novel that does not flinch from strong emotion or description…luminous.” – London Times

-H-

If you’ve read this, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts or reading your reviews so please share any links!

#30 Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote

16 Mar
Breakfast at Tiffany's - Truman Capote

Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote

Goodreads rating: 3.89/5 (87K+ ratings)
My rating: 6.5/10
First Published: 1958
Genre: Classic; Short Story

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a short story about a writer and his neighbour, Holly Golightly, who calls the man ‘Fred’ after her older brother. This name is all we know him as during the novella. Set in the early 1940′s in Manhattan’s Upper East side, Holly is a country girl turned New York socialite, who spends time with rich men who shower her in gifts. Throughout the book she slowly opens herself up to ‘Fred’ (who is eager to get to know her and be part of her life), revealing tidbits of her life story & personality along the way, however never really opening up.

I enjoyed this book – it was light-hearted, short, and easy to read. You never really get to understand Holly or what she’s all about, despite learning things about her past and personal life as the book progresses. She’s not easy to like – but I found her endearing, if not very flaky. ‘Fred’ is just a reliable, caring, shy guy who wants to know Holly and help Holly, but she never lets him in.

I recommend this book purely because it’s a classic and Holly Golightly is one of America’s best known cultural icons.

Notable quotes

Like many people with a bold fondness for volunteering personal information, anything that suggested a direct question, a pinning-down, put her on guard 

“We sort of just took up by the river one day, we don’t belong to each other: he’s an independent and, so am I” – Holly Golightly about her cat

“Well, I might be rotten to the core, Maude, but: testify against a friend I will not” – Holly Golightly

Her bedroom was consistent with her parlor: it perpetuated the same camping-out atmosphere; crates and suitcases, everything packed and ready to go 

-H-

If you’ve read this, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts or reading your reviews so please share any links!

Teaser Tuesday

11 Feb

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Should Be Reading.

Rules
  • 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!

Teaser

Book: I am reading The Bride Stripped Bare by Nikki Gemmell. I’m up to page 288 out of 373 and I’m enjoying it. It’s very simply written so very easy to follow. My teaser is from page 328. 

You stop, can’t go on, the tips of your fingers press your mouth; you don’t know why you flew to Seville any more, why you didn’t just walk from the bullring, from his life. This is wrong, this is wrong.

The Bride Stripped Bare - Nikki Gemmell

The Bride Stripped Bare – Nikki Gemmell

-H-

WWW Wednesday

22 Jan

W…W…W…Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should be Reading. 

TO PLAY ALONG, JUST ANSWER THE FOLLOWING THREE (3) QUESTIONS:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

_________________________________________________________________________________

What are you currently reading?

I am just currently reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote. I’m pretty much 3 quarters of the way through, however the edition I have has another 3 stories in it too: House of Flowers, A Diamond Guitar, and A Christmas Memory.

Breakfast at Tiffany's - Truman Capote

Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote

What did you recently finish reading? 

I’ve finished three books since my last WWW WednesdayAnd the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini; The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak; and Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant by Daniel Tammet. Check out the reviews to see what I thought of them. 

And The Mountains Echoed - Khaled Hosseini

And The Mountains Echoed – Khaled Hosseini

The Book Thief - Marcus Zusak

The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak

Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant - Daniel Tammet

Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant – Daniel Tammet

What do you think you’ll read next?

The next book on my list is The Bride Stripped Bare by Nikki Gemmell. I have no real idea what it’s about or whether it’s well liked but i’m looking forward to it!

The Bride Stripped Bare - Nikki Gemmell

The Bride Stripped Bare – Nikki Gemmell

I would love to hear your thoughts on any of these books, although no spoilers please for the ones I haven’t read yet!

-H-

Teaser Tuesday

21 Jan

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Should Be Reading.

Rules
  • 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!

Teaser

Book: I am reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s and three stories by Truman Capote which is made up of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, House of Flowers, A Diamond Guitar, and A Christmas Memory. I’m currently up to page 74 of 100 for Breakfast at Tiffany’s. My spoiler is from page 85.

The male detective seemed embarrassed: by Madame Spanella and by the situation; but a harsh enjoyment tensed the face of his companion – she plumped a hand on Holly’s shoulder and, in a surprising baby-child voice, said: ‘Come along, sister. You’re going places.’ Whereupon Holly coolly told her: ‘Get them cotton-pickin’ hands off of me, you dreary, drivelling old bull-dyke.’

Breakfast at Tiffany's - Truman Capote

Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote

-H-

#29 Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant – Daniel Tammet

20 Jan
Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant - Daniel Tammet

Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant – Daniel Tammet

Goodreads rating: 3.8/5 (10K+ ratings)
My rating: 7/10
First Published: 2006
Genre: Autobiography; Non-Fiction

This is a memoir of Daniel Tammet, a man with high functioning autism and savant syndrome. Savant syndrome is what Dustin Hoffman has in Rainman, however Daniel is high functioning and can live a relatively normal life.

The first chapter of this book is eye-opening. Daniel writes about how he sees each individual number, whether it be the number 9 or 131,555, as it’s own image, with it’s own feelings attached to it. He writes about how he can automatically multiply huge numbers in his head without really having to think, and how he uses the feelings that numbers give him to empathise with people.

I probably would have rated this book higher had it continued along the same path*, and had Tammet written more about how his mind worked, however the rest of the book was about his life and experiences. These were definitely still interesting and I enjoyed reading it but it didn’t draw me in as much as the first chapter did.

One of the most amazing parts of the book is when Tammet talks about how he rehearsed to beat the European record for the most decimal places of Pi memorised, and I’m pretty sure he remembered more than 22,500 decimal places of Pi. You’ll have to read the book to find out whether he beat the record or not!

Also in the book he mentions how he goes overseas to film a documentary called Brainman, and after I finished the book I decided to watch it. You can find it on YouTube here.

I have known little bits and pieces about Autism, Aspergers, and Savant Syndrome, but this book is a great way to understand more of what goes through the mind of a person with these conditions, and will also help you understand how to interact with people on the Autism spectrum, so for those reasons I definitely recommend reading it.

*Note: I have just realised, while doing a little bit of background research on this book, that Tammet has since published 2 more books which might possible cover the things I thought this one lacked. His next two books are Embracing the Wide Sky: A Tour Across the Horizons of the Mind and Thinking in Numbers: On Life, Love, Meaning, and Math.

-H-

If you’ve read this, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts or reading your reviews so please share any links!

#28 The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak

9 Jan
The Book Thief - Marcus Zusak

The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak

Goodreads rating: 4.36/5 (414K+ ratings)
My rating: 9/10
First Published: 14th March 2006
Genre: Historical Fiction

When I put on Facebook that I was about to read this book I got loads of responses like ‘One of my favourite books, it really is beautiful’, and ‘this is my favourite book – it’s amazing’, and I thought ‘yeah, yeah okay so it’s a good book – probably really overrated.’

But I was so wrong. This is a beautiful, thoughtful, interesting, well written story – especially for a book lover. It’s about a young girl, Liesel Meminger whose younger brother dies, and whose mother gives her away to the Hubermann’s – a German family living in Molching – just out of Munich. They have two older children in their 20s and take on Liesel as one of their own. When her little brother dies on their way to the Hubermann’s, she finds a book buried in the snow near his grave. She steals it. This is the start of her book thievery career.

Narrated by Death, The Book Thief follows Liesel in her quest to learn how to read, and her journey on understanding the world during Nazi Germany – at the height of Hitler’s reign. She’s a really likeable character, and the majority of the characters are relatable and likeable.

The movie came out in Australia today and I’m looking forward to seeing it this weekend, although I doubt it will do the book justice. Obviously I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I highly recommend reading the book before watching the movie as the books are always better than the movies.

Bits & pieces

  • Was listed on the New York Times Best Seller list for 230 weeks
  • Zusak took 3 years to complete the book and even went to Munich, Germany to research some of the finer points
  • Zusak said that writing the book was inspired by two real-life events related to him by his German parents: the bombing of Munich, and a teenage boy offering bread to an emaciated Jew being marched through the streets, ending with both boy and Jewish prisoner being whipped by a soldier.
  • He rewrote the first 90 pages of The Book Thief 150-200 times

Sources: The Guardian; The Book Thief Fan Page; Shmoop;

Notable quotes

He must have loved her so incredibly hard. So hard that he would never ask for her lips again and would go to his grave without them.

The words. Why did they have to exist? Without them, there wouldn’t be any of this. Without words, the Führerwas nothing.

The last time I saw her was red. The sky was like soup, boiling and stirring. In some places it was burned. There were black crumbs and pepper, streaked across the redness. 

In fact, on April 20 – the Führer’s birthday – when she snatched a book from beneath a steaming pile of ashes, Liesel was a girl made of darkness. 

For me, the sky was the color of Jews.

In front of him, he read from the copy of Mein Kampf. His savior. Sweat was swimming out of his hands. Fingermarks clutched the book.

She was a Jew feeder without a question in the world on that man’s first night in Molching. She was an arm reacher, deep into a mattress, to deliver a sketchbook to a teenage girl.

“When a Jew shows up at your place of residence in the early hours of the morning, in the very birthplace of Nazism, you’re likely to experience extreme levels of discomfort. Anxiety, disbelief, paranoia” 

-H-

If you’ve read this, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts or reading your reviews so please share any links!

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