Sunday, December 29, 2013


More than watching the television coverage and seeing first hand accounts by people on the news and on Oprah, this book has made a profound impact on my understanding of this tragedy.  The abruptness of her account, the fear, the numbness, it tells more about what happened, describes it better than any news story ever could have.

This was a really hard book to read.  I would attempt a few pages every couple of days just to try and limit my exposure to Sonali’s pain and misery.  I know that what I felt was a mere shadow of her very real pain, and that just provoked my feelings of compassion almost to the breaking point (and quite often tearfully beyond).  I am so profoundly sorry for her loss and her suffering. 

I made myself watch some footage on Youtube previously to reading this book, I wanted a true image in my mind not one from my imagination, I felt I owed the author that.   I have only heard of one or two personal accounts from this tragedy, but nothing as graphic as this story which left me feeling raw and very in the moment.  I’m glad she shared this experience, and think that it should be one of those books that must be read, because of her honesty.  She held nothing back, told it all, left nothing to the imagination, and I think it is one of those life stories that should be shared and remembered. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

I have, for most of this month,  been taking a reading holiday.  This means that I have, at a whim, been reading what I want and it has not been too challenging, or inappropriate to the holiday just  barely finished.  I looked for inexpensive kindle books to read (mostly Pride and Prejudice variations which I will probably write about at some point after I have had the chance to re-read them again...which will most likely also be at a whim and when I need to take a break), and some Christmas themed stories (with one or two of them also a P&P variation).  Naturally I revisited Dicken's A Christmas Carol.
So now that Christmas is over (pretty much), I pulled something out of one of my many boxes of books to read last night and this book, I thought, would be good for an appetizer.  Since I have only read The Great Gatsby, I have no great expectations as to how this story would go not knowing what kind of story was typical for Fitzgerald, so it was a surpise.  The movie brought my attention to the story (though I have never and probably shall not ever see the movie...I just can't bear Brad Pitt and it takes a lot for me to overcome that particular prejudice to see a movie he stars in), and I came across this little gem on a sale table for about a dollar or two (who could resist that?).
It is such a charming little book!  It is almost what you would call a novella.  The illustrations are rich and cheerful, adding that special something to enhance the story, the colours teal and purple unifying the illustrations throughout the book.  I don't believe that I am giving anything away (thanks to movie trailers), but all I will say was that I was curious how this story might have come he would have been born old in the first place (and a fully grown old man at that!) and how his life would have ended (no doubt the movie would have elaborated on that, but I can say no more without giving away too much information).   This edition is worth a look, and I will be keeping an eye out for other pretty editions of the author's work. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

When Santa Fell to Earth

I had to look up the word "beautiful" before I started to write this because it just is not the right word, it is not good enough,  to help me describe what I feel and think whenever I have one of Cornelia Funke’s books in my hands. 
Starting with The Thief Lord, then the Dragon Rider, the Inkheart trilogy and beyond, it has been a true life altering  journey for me to read her books.   I usually cannot wait for a Cornelia Funke book to go into paperback (my usual practice when buying new books, especially children's fiction), because not only am I impatient to see what she may have come up with next, but the hard covers are much nicer than the paper backs.  Holding one of her books in my hand is a pleasure, the covers are richly coloured and perfectly illustrated for that particular story  and the insides are just as enchanting...wonderful illustrations which are fitted to the words so beautifully that they take my breath away, and the words themselves create such deep and poignant feelings within me that I am transformed after reading only a chapter, or even just a page.  She is just…magic. 
What good fortune for me  that she decided to do a Christmas book!    With Funke’s typically impeccable style, she has crafted a story that tap’s what I think is the essential message of Christmas, and delivers her ideal in such a way that it is not overly sentimental but is (choose one of the following alternative words for beautiful):-   attractive, handsome, lovely, charming, delightful, appealing, engaging, winsome, gorgeous, stunning, arresting, beguiling, graceful, elegant, exquisite, artistic, magnificent, divine, beauteous, comely, fair, of a very high standard, excellent. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Not knowing Gaiman very well, but familiar to a certain point with his children's literature, I had thought at first that this must be another.  It didn't take long to depart from that intial thought!  This is no book for children!  I feel as though I have started at the wrong end when it comes to Neil Gaiman.  I would like to read his work from the start and observe his evolution (oh who am I kidding?  I 'd like to do that with all of my new writers, I can't bear the thought that I have missed something!).  Seriously though, I really think that reading everything this author has ever written would be a priviledge, and then I think I should go on and read all of the books that he thinks are just wonderful, because he has a voracious appetite for good literature and I cannot help but trust him to point me in a good direction. 
Getting back to the Ocean,  it was a short, amusing, scary little book, and something to add to your collection, buy this book!  You won't regret it.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Abigail Reynolds

I  have been indulging myself by buying up e-books by Abigail Reynolds.  She has a vast collection of Pride and Prejudice variations, each one slightly different, each one having you worry and hope that THE couple will end up together, somehow, someway.  They are all like a box of chocolates…you really can’t just have one!
A Pemberley Medley.  A cute collection of short stories featuring my favourite romantic couple.    Each one an engrossing variation on the other.  This is the first that I have read by this author, and I found it charming. 
To Conquer Mr. Darcy.   This variation was shocking.  There was more than enough sexual tension in it to actually bore me.  I don’t wish to be rude or critical, I don’t wish to hurt anyone for any reason, but I disagree with the amount of sexual content, and of the actual alteration of the protagonists’characters to enable such content.  I have become very familiar over the years with each character in Pride and Prejudice, and this did not sit well with me. 
Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World.   I found this variation to be very interesting.  While still having some sexual tension, this time it felt like the right amount at the right time, and accentuated a perfect moment in the story.  This is the kind of story that engages me because here are the very same two characters encountering and overcoming problems so that they can ultimately be together.  Georgianna Darcy, however, was very out of character, and it was incongruent with previous versions (though I guess it could be valid considering her circumstances).
Mr Darcy’s Undoing.  Again this is a variation that was interesting, but then became quite uncomfortable for me because yet again we have people behaving out of character, and there is sex in abundance.    I admit that this time I caught myself just skimming the sex scenes (and I was NOT tempted to go back again to see what I had missed). 

Sex can be a very useful storytelling device, especially when you have two such passionate  individuals as Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy.  Jane Austen was not afraid to mention this in a favourable light in her book, but never went into details (which has always been the charm in her stories).  I also understand other peoples needs to indulge in a little sex for these two, as they might have felt a little ripped off  after the two of them taking such a long, hard time to finally get together.  While Reynolds does her sex scenes very well, I have to admit that it is too much, and even knowing how passionate our couple is, it just isn’t possible for them both to have such weakness of character to behave in such an inappropriate way.   
I will still read them all (I have six more of Reynolds’ books to read on my Kindle app), because I just cannot resist a Pride and Prejudice story.  
What Would Mr Darcy Do?  Was a relief.  All the angst, fear, suspense, and then gratifying satisfaction (sans sex!).    After reading so many of these stories I am going to take a lovely long break and look forward to future indulgences in the new year (which I promise not to write about!).