Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy Christmas – See you in 2011


rbrwr @ Flickr.com

I am taking a pause over Christmas and New Year to concentrate on spending some quality time with family and friends.

I look forward to returning in 2011 and continuing to share my thoughts on books I have read and including some biographical information about some of the authors that I enjoy.

I may even get some time to do some reading.  Thankyou for all your comments and support during the last year, it has been fun getting to know you all and your reading tastes.

Happy Christmas


to you all.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert


Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert, 2007.jpg

I have been avoiding this book for a long time simply because I so often find that books that have been hyped up are a big disappointment. However hearing that it has recently been released as a film made me decide that I really should read it if I was going to want to see the film. It is my policy to always try and read a book first, so I have my own visual pictures when I am reading and not those of the film. Well having now read ‘Eat, Pray Love’ I am not sure I will even bother with the film, as the book has neither inspired nor excited me as it seems to have done many people. On the other hand I did not hate it as other reviewers seem to have done, especially those that have been in similar life situations, struggling with heartbreak and divorce, but not able to run away from it all, which let’s face it is exactly what Elizabeth Gilbert was able to do by travelling to Italy, India and Indonesia.

I am left now feeling rather indifferent unable to either rave or rant, recommend or not, so will have to come down to saying it was OK as there was enough of interest, just about to keep me reading.  It started well as I liked the introduction that Elizabeth Gilbert gives the reader as to how she divided the book up. As the book was about her efforts to find balance in her life she decided to structure it like a japa mala, a string of beads used to count mantras (Sanskrit prayers) in sets of 108 repetitions. The number 108 is considered in Eastern philosophy circles to be an auspicious number as it is a three digit multiple of three, its digits add up to nine, also a multiple of three. The number three also represents balance according to the Holy Trinity, so dividing the book into three was easy for the three countries Italy, India and Indonesia. Then dividing the book into 108 different chapters, with 36 in each section was also auspicious to the authoress as she wrote the book during her thirty sixth year.

I thought this all sounded very clever and a good way to write up her experiences, it certainly worked for the section set in Italy as Elizabeth leaves her unhappiness behind her in the USA and sets off to find this so called balance she is looking for by first seeking pleasure in Rome, mainly in the food, EAT. This first section was in retrospect for me the best section as one felt she was moving forward with lots of adventures ahead of her, although living in Italy myself it also struck me that it did tend towards being somewhat stereotypical.  After four months in Italy Elizabeth moves on to an Ashram in India to find her spirituality, PRAY. I honestly found this section a bit of a chore to read, I think this was where maybe the 36 chapters were too many, there is only so much one can write about yoga, meditation and chanting after all, as interesting as those thoughts initially were. I was also disappointed to learn very little about India outside the Ashram as she became so intensely involved in finding herself that planned travelling never materialised. The final third of the year was spent in Indonesia, Bali in fact which was more interesting, although again maybe a little spun out to fulfil her chapters quota. It is here she finds LOVE despite not having set out to do so, having decided previously that she was going to be celibate for a year. In terms of learning some new facts this was also the best section as I felt I learnt a little about Balinese society.

Elizabeth does tend to come over at times as just another egocentric young woman with a rather dramatic view on the emotional upheaval of her life, of which the only solution was to travel east for spiritual enlightenment. I said it is an ok read and yes it is but I am somewhat cynical about her journey and resulting book, since discovering that Elizabeth Gilbert was apparently commissioned and paid in advance to write this book. Lucky lady but did it mean she was thinking of the end result and possible future film rights rather than writing from her heart?

If you are interested in reading more background information and updates on Elizabeth Gilberts life, here are a couple of links which may be of interest to you.

Wikipedia - Eat ,Pray, Love

Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love Website



Postscript – I have now watched this trailer and take back my earlier comment about not bothering to see the film! I will look out for it appearing in our DVD hire shop and bring it home to watch sometime.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Breath of Corruption by Caro Fraser



I wrote a review for this when I finished reading it a few weeks ago and am now very upset because I have lost it! I guess it must have been deleted in error, I wonder? This is when I find computers frustrating because I do not understand properly what I am doing.

I just do not have the time at the moment to rewrite which is a shame a I wanted to post it today.

My apologies, so all I can say is I enjoyed it, an easy read which I recommend to all Caro Fraser fans. It does not matter if you have not read any of the earlier novels in the series though to enjoy this ‘thinking woman’s chick lit’, (quote from back cover). Instead of my review here is a taster, the start of the first chapter of ‘Breath of Corruption’, Number 7 in the Caper Court Series, reproduced from the authors Official Website.

Breath Of Corruption - Chapter 1

Lola added, 'And bring us another bottle of this.' The waitress took the empty bottle and disappeared. A bottle was far more than anyone should drink at lunchtime, Lola knew, but sod it - Anthea, who was meant to be living on a model's diet of egg whites and mineral water, didn't care, so neither did she. There wasn't anything else to do with the day, anyway. Maybe they'd wobble along to the Curzon afterwards and slip into a late afternoon film. Then home for a nap, up at nine to shower and beautify, and out on the town for such pleasures as the rest of the night might yield. A wealthy family and a trust fund did give one a charmed life, but even Lola found it boring occasionally - though alcohol and the odd recreational drug helped take the edge off the tedium. In the long years since leaving her Swiss finishing school, Lola had often thought she should get herself some not-too-demanding job - something involving flexible hours and long lunches, and a stylish office with a PA - but that meant working, and genuine work didn't really appeal. And to be honest, at thirty-one, she was a bit scared that whatever skills she'd once possessed might be a bit rusty by now. Some of her friends ran fashions shops and glam little businesses, but that took effort, too. And ideas. If she'd had Anthea's long legs and amazingly slim figure, not to mention her looks, she'd have been able to do a little casual modelling, too. Anthea needed the money, of course, but the job had a certain cachet, and gave her something else to talk about.

'What does he look like?'……………………..

If you are interested I did post a review of No 6 in the series a few months ago, just click on the link to read. Calculating Heart where I also included some biographical information on the author.

Further information about Caro Fraser and the next book No 8 in the Caper Court Series can be found by following the links listed.

Image of Caro Fraser - April 2009

Official Website

Caro Fraser published Books

The moral is I must post my reviews as soon as I have written them instead of saving them for later, so that this does not happen again. Having learnt my lesson the hard way I will now go and finish writing the review for the book I have just finished.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Angels Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon


The Angels Game is the follow up to The Shadow of the Wind which I read and reviewed here in July. It is once again set in Barcelona but set in an earlier era, in fact when the protagonist in The Shadow of the Wind ‘s father was still a young man. There is also an overlap with characters which at times I did tend to find confusing. It actually might have been less so if I had not read the previous novel. Does that make sense to you I wonder?  Is this the reason that I found this sequel (that is actually a prequel) less enjoyable, it started off very well, but at over 500 pages it is a long novel and as the story became more complicated I kept losing the thread. Just not completely understanding what was going on meant that for me the middle of the story seemed to drag somewhat until I reached the final third when it started to fit together again, thank goodness.

The story is all together much darker which for me was another minus point because although I enjoy intrigue, suspense and even murder, I tend not to rave over the majority of gothic style novels and I believe this would be classed as such, horror stories give me the creeps and at times this certainly did. I did enjoy though all the literary references to well known classical novels that appear throughout the novel, plus the wonderful description of books having a soul. I was delighted that once again The Angel’s Game is set in Barcelona in the 1920s and 1930s and follows a struggling  young writer David Martin who is approached by a mysterious figure to write a book. As in the previous novel I found that the city once again comes to life on the pages as we return to places both real and imaginary. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, the mythical building in the heart of Barcelona, as well as the Sempere & Sons bookshop both feature again.  

His adventures as he tries to write this commissioned book lead him to the brink while he mentally battles with his demons. A story of deep secrets, intrigue and romance, with that ghostly influence I at times found disturbing.

I read on the authors Official Website that this novel is about the ‘magic of books and the darkest corners of the human soul’   A perfect description and I think a novel well worth reading, despite the few problems I had I am definitely glad I read it. If you want to learn more about the novel and the author visit the site I have highlighted, you can even read the first chapter and watch a video of Barcelona there if you wish.

The following interview is very interesting as Carlos Ruiz Zafon describes these two novels as the first two acts in a series which can be read in any order. This is just the first of a three part interview, to view the full set you need to visit YouTube


Courtsey of bordersmedia

Carlos Ruiz Zafron was born in 1964 in Barcelona and more can be learnt about him and his forthcoming novels here at his Website.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Hating Game by Talli Roland


Talli Roland is a very enterprising young woman that totally understands the importance of publicity. She obviously realises that it is just not enough in the competitive world of publishing to sit back on your laurels and think how well you have done to get a book published! No this young lady has gone out of her way to promote her first novel ‘The Hating Game’, for this alone I hope it succeeds. She writes a blog called Talli Roland is a Goodreads author has a Facebook Page and is  also to be found on Twitter, which are all great ways for this first time novelist to get her name recognised.

The Hating Game will be released on Amazon as an eBook on December 1st, today in fact, with the paperback version due out in March of next year. I was lucky enough to be sent an advance review copy of the novel in eBook form. I may be wrong about this but from just looking at the brightly coloured cover I got the feeling that this novel is directed at a much younger market than the one I am part of. I know we should never judge a book by the cover, but in this case I think the cover will stand out on the bookshelves and catch the eye of those ‘young’ women looking for something to read that is both modern and romantic.

Lets face facts, reality game shows are a 21st century phenomenon very much loved by the younger generation so the books subject matter will also attract the attention of potential readers. Personally I am not a fan of this sort of television show but I know many people that are, including my younger daughter who is also not much of a book reader as few novels catch her interest. However I think she would enjoy this because it is about something that she will feel she can relate to. This is part of a large problem with writing a novel, is there a market to read this story. I think Talli has a potential winner with her choice as within its genre she has written a sparkly lively modern novel that will appeal to many.

Mattie Johns the protagonist runs a media recruitment company and is a young woman that comes over as somewhat brash, hardened against life and love, always determined to have the last word. Her business is in trouble so she jumps at the opportunity to win a large cash prize in exchange for appearing on a dating game show. It does not turn out to be the easy money making deal she had hoped for when it is revealed that the dates are actually ex boyfriends!

Although the the story of her endeavours to win the money are both amusing and and at times emotional you will also learn of the ugly side of reality television. Programme ratings are what motivate the producers of this programme with absolutely no concern what so ever for the feelings of the contestants. One hopes that in real life it would never go this far, but I suppose one can never be sure. How far is that? What is it that happens? Does it all end happily?

All questions that will be answered if you read this cleverly written witty debut from new young talent Talli Roland. I will certainly be recommending ‘The Hating Game’ to any one who likes modern romance young or old, despite my earlier comments as I do not want to suggest it is only for the young, it is also for the young at heart. An entertaining read then with an extra little touch that I found amusing are the chapter headings of quirky facts about relationships.

Talli Roland

I am helping the publicity drive for The Hating Game by taking part in a campaign to spread the word today, publication day for the eBook version.

You can help Talli Roland's debut novel The Hating Game hit the Kindle bestseller list at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk by spreading the word today. Even a few sales in a short period of time on Amazon helps push the book up the rankings, making it more visible to other readers.

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/hNBkJk

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/hX2ieD

More details about what is happening today can be found here The Hating Game - Take on Amazon Splash

No Kindle? Download a free app at Amazon for Mac, iPhone, PC, Android and more. Coming soon in paperback. Keep up with the latest at Talli Roland - Official Website