Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gluten-Free Girl - Shuana James Ahern

Gluten-Free Girl - Shuana James Ahern (2007)
I had passed this book at the library, it was sitting proudly on the new books shelf, and impressed me maybe more by the fact of its prissiness and unread conditon. Somewhere in blogland I had seen a quick refernce to it, so this time I did not ignore its charms. It was coming home with me.
Shauna spent much of her youth and early adulthood feeling crap, having abdominal pains and repeated viruses, when the suggestion was made that she had Celiac disease. A disease to Gluten, which is found in wheat, it causes the small bowel to treat it as a toxin and the body reacts to the poison.
After years of eating mainly processed food, this forces Shauna to start cooking and discovering the joys of fresh fruits, vegies, different grains and unprocessed meats. She started her own blog, journalling her adventures and recipes which is turned into this highly readable book for anyone who enjoys food. Beautifully written, it is a great way to look at your own eating habits. I was also touched at the end about how her love of food, led her to real love too. Very sweet.

Fractured - Karin Slaughter

Fractured - Karin Slaughter (2008)
I don't feel fractured after reading this book, more like I was in a big sumo suit and trying to swim laps of an olympic sized swimming pool. My general rule is to give a book 100 pages, and then if I don't like it I won't invest any more time in it. This one was ok, but about half way through I hit the wall. Every page felt so long and dreary.

It might not have been completely the books fault, I had my final assignment to submit, so Catholic guilt may have been guiding me. My overall impression was, girl abducted, conflicted detectives, read it all before. 1/5

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Lace Reader - Brunonia Barry

The Lace Reader - Brunonia Barry (2008)
Well I really wanted to enjoy this book. I read about it in the bloglands and had carressed its covers in the bookshop. There wasn't a long wait for it at the library, and I was impressed to get a copy that looked brand new. I tried to enjoy it, and read twenty pages but couldn't go any further.

The lace reader is about a family where the women are able to read the future in a piece of lace. Towner returns to Salem when her great aunt goes missing and that is as far as I got. So sorry, but it is going to have to be a 0/5 as this wasn't the right book for me.

Paper Clips

Paper Clips (2005)
In 1998, a group of students in Whitwell Middle School in Whitwell Tennessee, started a project to study the holocoust to learn about prejudice, diversity and tolerance. Whitwell is a very small rural town, where most of the students are white and Christian and when one of the students says they have no idea of what six million looks like the students set out to collect six million paper clips.

This documentry follows the impact this project has on the students, teachers and community and how what happened 60 years ago still has an important message about tolerance and understanding.

It certainly frightened me to speak with a 19 year old student at work, who had no idea about the Holocoust or what happened to the jews during the second world war. I wonder what are students learning about in 13 years of school if they learn so little about history. 3/5 for this slow and gentle dvd.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Heretic's Daughter - Kathleen Kent

The Heretic's Daughter - Kathleen Kent (2008)
Oh I loved this wee book. At its heart is the impact of the Salem witch trials, but primarily it is Sarahs story of growing up on a farm with her three brothers, younger sister and parents in the late 1600s. A period of great hardship made even more difficult when the community eventually turns on each other, with accusations and increasing hysteria.

Kathleen Kent tells the story of her own distant family, and spent 5 years researching this novel and that hard work shows with an honest voice of the horrors of sitting in a Salem jail cell, with no comforts and little food or warmth and toiling on the land.

This book deserves a 4/5, and a highly recommended if you are looking for a good book to lie in bed with in the cold evenings.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett

The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett (2007)

Easily read in a couple of sit down sessions, this wee novel tells the tale of Queen Elizabeth II, and her discovery while walking the corgis that the local library delivery van comes to the palace every Wednesday. Upon embarking on her first novel, she begins a journey into loving books.

It is a delightful novel, even if the most annoying of characters is a New Zealander, and often ridiculed for such. A much better choice if choosing between this and . Just the size of book that is perfect to tuck into your bag, or read on a quick journey. However is it sizeist to say I wouldn't pay the money for such a quick read? I don't know what books cost where you live but they are creeping up the $40 NZ mark here ($27 US). It is seldom that I buy any books though, as our library is excellent.

So a 3/5 for me, it made me smile.

Friday, November 07, 2008

7th Heaven - James Patterson

7th Heaven - James Patterson (2008)
I hang my head in shame, I know pure trash but easy to read as you dry your hair on the bed (prime morning reading time, I have a lot of hair). I used to enjoy James Patterson, but then he started writing these by the book,predictable novels that I can see producers will have a whole cave of great looking model/actors to play. I tried to watch the tv show, but only lasted 10 minutes - what trash.

I enjoy the Alex Cross novels much better than this soapy womens murder club stuff. Alex Cross is my fave and is so wrongly cast in the movies. Don't get me wrong, Morgan Freeman is a great actor, but far too old and not saucy enough to play this psychologist. Now if you got Henry Simmons to play him, it would have been super. Oh well, we can all dream.

Anyways, 1.5/5 for this one.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Year of Living Biblically - A.J. Jacobs

The Year of Living Biblically - A. J. Jacobs (2007)
Agnostic A.J. decides to spend a year discovering the bible and living by its rules. These include stoning adulterers, not wearing mixed fibres, not lying, no lusting and not touching women.

I almost gave up after 100 pages, as it was all much of a muchness, but it was interesting to read about all the different views of Jews and Christians, many of whom interprut the bible to suit themselves. With between 400-700 versions of the Christain bible alone, one can see how that happens.

To be honest I thought it was all meant to be about love and getting along with one another. I'm not into the we are the best, hate the rest role of religion. 2/5 from me.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Nocturne - Diane Armstrong

Nocturne - Diane Armstrong (2008)
Nocturne is the new book by Polish born Australian author Diane Armstrong. I enjoyed her other novel Winter Journey so much, that I was quick to request her newest book from the library.

This story centres on Elzunia, who unaware of her families heritage goes from being a student to finding herself in the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw with her mother, brother and a young girl. Struggling to protect her family she trains as a nurse, and assists with the uprising against the Germans.

Adam is a pilot with the Polish air force, who after defeat by the Germans ends up in Britain doing bombing missions with the RAF across Europe. Early in the story and at the beginning of the war, their paths cross and neither forgets each other.

I enjoyed this story, as you know I am drawn to the second world war/Holocaust tale. If these stories were not based on truth, you could not imagine how an author could conjure up such misery and hell. The two main characters were likable and I wanted to see what happened in their lives. A few of the circumstances at the end of the novel seemed a bit of a stretch of coincidence. Much like 'The Clan of the Cave Bear' where she manages to domesticate dogs, invent fire and the wheel, I felt the coming together of all the characters in one place a bit too easy. However, this is a novel, and I like to have an ending and know what works out and what doesn't.

3/5 for this one, I think I will have to turn to a thriller next, as I feel all warred out.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Dear Fatty - Dawn French

Dear Fatty - Dawn French (2008)
I spied this one sitting on the bookshop shelves on Saturday lunchtime and an hour or two later, after comparing prices around town it was mine (Borders was the cheapest). Dawn French is one half of French and Saunders, and was the vicar of Dibley - a show I never found funny. She usually made me smile in many of the shows she was in, her comedy timing is great and she always looked so good being dressed up in crazy costumes (just look at her as Frodo or Bjork) and her book shows her humour and love of life. Set out as a series of letters to all the important people in her life, it manages to weave her way from childhood to her current age of 50.

I like her writing, it exudes niceness and fun. I love her describing herself as having the figure of a weeble, one of those toddler toys that will get knocked about but not fall over. Her love for her husband Lenny Henry and daughter Billie is sweet and shines deeply and she is not shy about talking about past relationships and boyfriends of all kinds. You have to admire her for picking her boyfriends because they have big hands. I'm going to give it a 3/5 because you know she could be your best friend, could drink you under the table and would love to whisper about boys with her.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Autobiography of the Queen - Emma Tennant

The Autobiography of the Queen - Emma Tennant (2007)
Even though I have a mountain of study to do, and a garden that needs tending to the lure of the library on a rotten wild windy and wet Saturday afternoon was too much. Also the fact that the library has one of the few public toilets left in the centre of town make it a compelling place to visit.

The new fiction shelves is always my first visit, and I liked the premise of this little book. It was nice to be able to pick up a book that would fit into my handbag and be useful when out and waiting for friends. Instead I was able to read it before bed on Saturday night, upon wakening on Sunday morning and finished it while drying my hair a half hour later.

This is a work of fiction, and starts with the Queen packing a bag and leaving her family and nation and escaping to St Lucia in the Caribbean. The idea of her escaping amused me - I wouldn't have lasted a week in that job. I felt it fell flat though and couldn't get over the feeling that surely someone would have recognised her. I have seen the Queen once, when at high school in the 80s she toured our small New Zealand town. We were given the afternoon off as long as we wore our uniforms and stood and waved. She stopped a few feet away and told a schoolmate that she liked our uniforms (they were hideous).

So little book, I am sorry it is a 2/5 from me. It was sweet that you were teeny tiny enough to fit into my handbag, sorry I did not get to take you out anywhere.