My Book Swap List

Yesterday my book club had a book swap, a little something extra for the end of year, and being the type of bookworm to have a higher count of unread books compared to read on my bookshelves I had all of the following to give away. I thought I’d make a list and post it because I just like lists.

Are there any books you would give away? Even just because your bookshelves are busting at the seams and for no other reason? And have you given away books in the past year?

  1. 666: The Number of The Best, Stories of Horror
  2. Alistair Maclean’s Death Train by Alistair MacNeil
  3. The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
  4. Az Elet Iskolaja by Honore De Balzac
  5. Bombproof by Michael Robotham
  6. Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt by Anne Rice
  7. Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson
  8. Dark Demon Rising by Tunku Halim
  9. Dead Man Walking: The Movie Script by Tim Robbins
  10. Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
  11. Flotsam by Jaiden Glendenning
  12. Gene of Isis by Traci Harding
  13. The Gold of The Gods by Erich Von Daniken
  14. Goodbye California by Alister Maclean
  15. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  16. Hell Island by Matthew Reilly
  17. The Heroes of Asgard by A & E Keary
  18. The Last Days of Socrates by Plato
  19. Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
  20. Love and Friendship by Jane Austen
  21. The Love Poems of D.H. Lawrence
  22. Mandragora by David McRobbie
  23. The Others by D.M. Wind
  24. Outcast by Josephine Cox
  25. Pagan by Inez Baranay
  26. The Parliament of Blood by Justin Richards
  27. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  28. The Ragman’s Son by Kurt Douglass
  29. Red Alert by Alistair Maclean
  30. The Road to Underfall by Mike Jefferies
  31. Selected Poems by T.S. Eliot
  32. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
  33. The Skull Mantra by Eliot Pattison
  34. Straken by Terry Brooks
  35. Swallowing Clouds by Lillian NG
  36. The Talisman of Troy by Valerio Massimo Manfredi
  37. The Tempest by William Shakespeare
  38. Understanding Cats

Review: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

In a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. Its owners – mother, son and daughter – are struggling to keep pace with a changing society, as well as with conflicts of their own.

But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his.

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters was a book club read I was looking forward to reading, but which I ended up struggling to finish. I’ll admit I had just over 100 pages to go and gave up, but I probably would have struggled on while falling asleep if it was not for the book club and finding out that there really isn’t any resolution at the end.

The novel has been short listed for an award and there are some aspects of it which I can see the award for, but otherwise I have to stretch my theories on that one a bit. My feeling for it is that Waters captured the era and language perfectly for the time setting (1940’s) and embodied the caste system in that time and place, but I felt the story was lacking.

The tension and interest created was somewhat of a roller coaster. First I’m enjoying it and expecting something to happen, only for whatever it was to happen and then become resolved by the narrator. This was a quarter into the story after which it petered out, levelled off, only to start building up to something before being resolved once again.

The build up and resolution phenomenon happened more so because the narrator is a doctor and adamant on a scientific explanation which makes sense, but at the same time before you start reading you’re led to believe this is a ghost story. So you’ve got the side characters buying the doctor’s explanation for the most part and yet you’re expecting someone at some point, namely the doctor, to come out with something that has to do with the paranormal.

What is the good doctor’s explanation each time? The house is falling apart, everyone is stressed, women’s hysteria, mental illness, the maid wanting attention and playing games. I recommend that if you read this book to not expect a ghost story. Do not read it for a ghost story because when it comes down to it, it is more about the caste system and the fall of an upper class society back in the 1940’s rather than a good thrilling ghost story.

One more thing about The Little Stranger I’d like to point out for unsuspecting readers. If you compare a lot of classic literature to modern literature you might notice that classic literature was written with a message in mind and accompanied with a plot. Whereas modern literature is more so focused around a plot accompanied with a message (I happen to believe every story has a message even when you aren’t planning for it). The Little Stranger had me ponder this the whole time I was reading. Why? Because it is a mixture of both, as if she was aiming for one and somewhere along the line decided to change over to the other, but in so doing lost a crucial foundation of the story. Whether that did occur or not, I don’t know, but that is the impression I got from it.

  • Demographic: Adult fiction – it reads more like Classic lit
  • Genre: Historical Fiction (don’t be fooled by the supposed paranormal theme)
  • Reminds Me Of: Burmese Days by George Orwell in writing style, but drier.
  • Rating Out of Five: 3
  • Challenges: Book Club Read

So Many Book Clubs

I began being a member of no book clubs and struggling to find any. All of a sudden I’m a member of two. Some might think I’m mad for that, but I can read pretty fast when I want to (and sometimes when I’m not meaning to). The first one I joined as something for my sister and I to do and then my mum wanted to be a part of it, but unfortunately she and my sister can’t be available at the same time so I went and found another one.

They both fall in the same week and that is what I’ve been doing for the most part in the last week. Reading books and going to book clubs. Perhaps my one could be enough, but I like going to the other one (it was the first meeting we went to this week) because apart from these two I have never been to a book club. I haven’t been able to see one in action as a member rather than an organiser and it’s interesting to see how another one works. Especially as I get most of my information from the internet when I research instead of first hand experience.

The book choices are also slightly different between the two. My one so far has had American Literature, Classic Literature, Urban Fantasy, and the tastes range, but at the same time there’s more chance of there being a choice other than general and classics.

The crossroads one has what I call store fiction and classic literature. I think of store fiction as the possibly well stocked, readily available general fiction you find in a mainstream book store which is fine by me. I really don’t mind reading that on occasion and the next book will be Wuthering Heights which I actually have on my reading list.

There’s also a difference in dynamic, but at the same time the groups are fundamentally the same. The age ranges in one group are on the younger side (younger being 20’s and 30’s, not adolescence) and in the other it is a much more mature age. Sure there is a difference in what is talked about at times because of that age gap, but mostly it is the same. I love it because it is as if discussion amongst bookworms is universal no matter what the age group or life experience.

At first book clubs was a bit odd for me, even though I wanted to get together with other book worms, because for starters I’m not used to talking in large groups and I’m also not used to hearing so many different opinions on the one novel. Usually it’s a get together with a friend and for the most part we agree on certain aspects of the stories we have been reading. With the book clubs though there are so many different perspectives and interpretations that it leaves me flabbergasted at how many different ones there can be.

I’ve also bought another bookcase, a desk, and a chair in the last week. Believe it or not I have never had a desk. I’m a deskless writer, but not anymore! I didn’t even have one when I was a student. I was quite happy using the floor, the dining table, or whatever else I leaned on. I did borrow the card table for a bit there and still remember staying up late at night to write, not to do homework (where on Earth did I do my homework?).

There was a period of time when I could not write (first writer’s block and then illness), but I have been writing intermittently over the last few years. I have a breakfast tray to sit the lap top on and I use that, but after awhile the back starts to hate me (it also makes me feel old. Am I sounding old?) so a desk has been a bit of a priority. It took awhile because I have space problems and had to find one that was just the right size and I found one which is quite small, but will do the job. I’ll take a picture of it when I get it all together. If I remember.

Anyway, enough rambling! Back to resting and reading some more.

Image from Reggie.net

Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things — and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a — well, whatever.

There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get… interesting.

Magic. It can get a guy killed.

I don’t think I would have ever read Storm Front, by Jim Butcher, if it was not for the book club. I do like urban fantasy and I do like some crime novels, but not usually the two together. It reminds me more of Kim Harrison’s Dead Witch Walking which is the only other novel I’ve really read along this line and although I did enjoy it’s quirks I didn’t really care about the story. Continue reading

Do You Love Your Library?

Do you love your local library? What’s not to love? There’s free books to read, that lovely old book smell, it’s quiet (that makes me so happy), they even have e-reads in some libraries now, comic books, dvds, and all sorts of things going on.

There’s a reason why I have some library love today. I usually always love the library because it’s a library. It’s a house of books. Houses of books are the best buildings around (I’m not bias) and lately I’ve been trying to find an established venue that doesn’t cost a fortune and is convenient for the book club. I was going to go with a council hall which is far cheaper then I was expecting and there is nothing wrong with them, but there’s something about them that doesn’t have a bookish feel. It might just be the absence of books…

So this morning I wake up, check my emails, and lo and behold; an email from a coordinator with the library letting me know about booking a room with them. How excellent is that? I know I could have rung them earlier, but I knew there was already a book club there (in fact there are 3 which are all full so it’s a good thing I started one anyway. I recommend checking your local library for any clubs though,who knows what you’ll find there) so my logic is that the library already had one, they didn’t need another one. I was so wrong!

I’m quite chuffed now. We’ve got a room up until December (could have gone further, but I wasn’t sure about January with holidays and all) which is in a house of books! Oh bookish atmosphere, how I love you. And this is all because someone with the library went out of their way to tell me about it. Isn’t that lovely?

Tell us about your library, does it have functions? Do you use it and how often? What do you use it for? What do you love about your library?

If you’d like to participate in the Book Lovers Book Club at Sutherland Library please leave a comment (so I can email you back) or email at bookloversbookclub at gmail.com for more information.

Sutherland Library website and blog for more about the Library.

Review: On The Road

Sal Paradise, a young innocent, joins the slightly crazed Dean Moriarty on a breathless, exuberant ride back and forth across the United States. Their hedonistic search for release or fulfilment through drink, sex, drugs and jazz becomes an exploration of personal freedom, a test of the limits of the American dream. A brilliant blend of fiction and autobiography, Jack Kerouac’s exhilarating novel defined the new ‘Beat’ generation. It had tremendous impact on both sides of the Atlantic and made him famous overnight.

Parts of this book made me want to go to sleep and I’d find myself yawning and blinking my eyes rapidly to focus, but at the same time I enjoyed parts of it. In particular the first 150 pages and the last 3 pages. Maybe that’s odd that I mention the last three pages and a part of me actually thinks it is. It’s odd because those parts stand out very clear cut and the rest of the story, even though it’s all in my head and I didn’t miss any detail, seems to be not as obvious to me.

Or maybe it’s just because at some point the book ends up being all the same because even though there is a lot going on with these people there is also nothing going on whatsoever. Nothing seems to change even when there are changes. It’s all so linear which perplexes me because if this is out of Jack Kerouac’s life, well I’ve read true to life stories that weren’t linear at all or flat. They had deviations. They went up and down. There was far more emotion in most of them.

That’s another factor about On The Road that I’ve noticed. There’s plenty of interesting characters in there, most of who are crazy and hyper, but even though a lot of these characters are so full of energy and all over the place with their emotions I didn’t feel any emotions at all towards them. I felt emotionless right up the last three pages.

As for the linear aspect of it, I wonder if that’s because he wrote the whole thing in one go? How often do you read a novel or book written by someone who wrote it all in one go? How often do you read something written so quickly that it hasn’t had the chance to be subjected to several emotions over time? Maybe that’s why it is linear and emotionless to me, yet frenetic. It is such a frenetic story and the characters are also so frantic. They’re all nuts, kind of pathetic, and not always very nice people. Actually most of them are just arseholes. One is a complete maniac, childish, self absorbed, and a real arsehole when you think of it. Obviously I’m talking about Dean. Dean and all the women around him are all nut jobs. I also think Sal (Jack) is a complete dumbarse. Actually I think just about all the characters in this story are the type of people I would never want to be involved with in any shape or form, even if it’s asking for directions or something. Not because it’s a beat generation and they’re all poor. Not that at all, but because they’re all arseholes and nut cases.

Other than that Jack Kerouac wrote some beautiful lines, very entertaining descriptions, and it’s very interesting to read  something that you know was written in one go. Especially from a writer’s perspective. I’m quite impressed with it because of that, but otherwise I find it’s only a good read for pop culture purposes and to understand what others are on about. For me it is at least, even though at the same time my brain seems to have clung to the story and I want to follow everyone after it.

I find it funny as well that I can’t stand these people and their idiocy, but I don’t hate the story. I think perhaps if it was written differently, even though I feel it’s devoid of emotion, then I’d probably hate it. I don’t hate it. I don’t even dislike it. The problem is I don’t see the attraction to it and why so many people romanticise a lifestyle of disloyalty, self absorption, disrespect to themselves and others, and bad manners. You can have travel and have a bid for freedom without those things so if you’re a fan of On The Road and especially if you want to live it can you please explain to me what the appeal is and what you loved about it?

Sutherland Shire Book Club: NOW CLOSED

I thought it was about time I posted about my book club especially seeing as we had our first meeting during the weekend and I have a book blog. I may as well take advantage of having a book blog…

Book Lovers Book Club is located in the Sutherland Shire south of Sydney. If you know anyone in this area with a love of books or just want to pass the love on in case it finds someone in this area I would really appreciate it.

Following are the details and how to find out more, but first I’m going to be posting on the right sidebar what book we’re currently reading (just under what I’m currently reading and next in line). I’m also going to be posting what we’ve read, reading guides for book club discussion (which people are welcome to use), and a short synopsis of what we’re currently reading all on the book club page.

If you’re interested you can just leave a comment on this post, on the book club page, or on our Facebook page (links are with the details). Otherwise have you ever joined a book club or run one? What were your experiences like? Do you think bookworms should join a club at least once in their life?

UPDATE: The following information is no longer relevant (I’m leaving it there though for personal reference). I moved from the area out to Western Sydney in 2012. I handed the book club over to another member. I’ve lost touch with the previous members and am not sure it still exists. Please contact the Sutherland Library for any information on book clubs in the area.

  • Founded: 2010
  • First Ever Meet: August 14th at 2:30pm, 2010
  • Type: Non genre specific. Each member has a turn choosing a selection of books that they wish to read and then we all choose one we would like to read from that selection each month.
  • When: Every second Saturday of the month starting at 2:30pm
  • Where: Our book club is hosted at cafes, restaurants, and possibly the occasional park decided by both our members and following the train line through the Sutherland Shire (so it’s nice and convenient).
  • Contact: Email Bonnie at bookloversbookclub at gmail dot com