We owe it to each other to tell stories - Neil Gaiman

Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011: In review

I cannot believe how the last few days of 2011 have just flown by. Whilst it has been a stressful year, it has also been a year with many highlights and several achievements, so here is my review of 2011...

January started off a bit shakily - with Rebecca and a day at the Cricket being the highlights. The cricket did not end favourably for me, but I did get to see India play live which was a goal achieved. I read 7 books, which I think was a good start to the year.

February was amazing - with the week I spent in Cape Town. I realised a dream and crossed something off of my bucket list when I saw U2 live. It was amazing - beyond amazing actually. The experience of a life time. I don't think that there could have been a better first U2 experience than with the 360degrees tour.

March was a month for rereading the Sookie Stackhouse books (Southern Vampire Mystery Series) and saw me turning 23. Which until recently has had me freaked out.

April was rather unremarkable except for the Cricket World Cup final which saw India taking the cup. Of course I hoped that the Black Caps would win, but I don't want to get into that BEAUTIFUL catch by Nathan McCulllum that was not given out. But then again, how can you stay angry for soo long with all the cricket that was played.

May is a bit of a blur, so is June - but that is because I spent soooooooooo much time being sick with everything from sinusitis to bronchitis to the flu to pertussis. It was just awful. Heck the same applies to July and August. Except for my fond memories of Gone with the Wind July is a blur. But from July till November I worked at Saint Teresa's which has scarred me permanently.

I have never been a children person - but this experience has just removed any future possibility of ever having a future with children in it. But moving swiftly to better things. Three words: Rugby World Cup - this is one of my favourite events every four years. I love the game of rugby - and I support just about everyone - coz I just love the game. So very unSouth African of me. But it is just who I am. The highlight of the World Cup was when The ALL BLACKS beat France twice - the second time to win the World Cup. Much deserved after all those years. And the best thing is I got to rub it in the faces of all the Springbok supporters at school who said New Zealand did not stand a chance. They ate their words.

I had to write an aptitude test in October for which I got 75% and got hired to work at a marking centre which in itself is a soul killing job - 12 hours a day for 12 days. And then I had a job interview - and landed the job. So October brought me many good things.

The last few months of the year were quite unremarkable - because of working so hard and having exams and all that. But all in all, 2011 has been a good year for me. Well except for being sick so often.

Reading wise, I exceeded my target of reading 52 books i.e. a book a week. This will see an increase in my target for 2012. So many amazing books read, so many new ones discovered and a TBR pile that is still teetering.

The saddest moment for me was the last episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show - it just broke my heart. I lost one of the people who I get so many of my book recommendations from. When the King retired, there was still Oprah, but now there is no one with that kind of show.

Of course there was also the excitement of the Royal Wedding - Will and Kate, and then Charlene and Prince Albert. We lost the eternally beautiful Liz Taylor, the talented but troubled Amy Winehouse, the man who I will always think of as Kenicky - Jeff Conaway and the marvellous Steve Jobs. But enough sadness, here is to putting 2011 to bed, and hoping that 2012 will be a better year - with more books and more joyful happenings.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Sentenced to Death

Title: Sentenced to Death

Author: Lorna Barrett

Pages: 327

Publisher: Berkley

Source: Borrowed

The Synopsis

It’s Founders' Day in Stoneham and the whole village has turned out to celebrate in the square, including Tricia’s friend and festivities organizer Deborah Black. As everyone watches Deborah give the opening speech, a small aircraft crashes into the village gazebo, killing both Deborah and the pilot. While the Sheriff’s Department is convinced that it was an accident, Tricia has a feeling that there’s more to the story. And when she reads between the lines of the case, what she finds is worse than the most sinister whodunit …

The Review:

This one was tricky - it could so easily have been an accident!! It was really sharp of Tricia to dig and see that it was more than that. I liked that it was a mystery to solve without seeming like it would be one.

With so many possible suspects once Tricia decides it was no accident this may actually be the most complex book in the series so far. So much happens in this one, that it was unputdownable.

I definitely see a reread of this series in the near future.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Thoeba - Donna Milward

Title: Thoeba

Author: Donna Milward

Publisher: Vamptasy Publishing

Pages: 322

Source: Review Copy

The Synopsis

"Thoeba has already paid a heavy price in her fight against evil. But failure to restore the balance will cost everything.

Thoeba, angel solider of god, faces a hopeless battle guarding The Energy. Many of her fellow kin are slain, including her true love, Thani. Thoeba has no time to mourn her loss. In a desperate attempt to stop The Energy falling into the hands of evil, Thoeba takes refuge on earth.

Destiny takes her into the path of Peter Mason who fishes her from a lake, naked and disorientated. Fate has brought them together for more than one reason.

Can Thoeba convince Peter to aid her on her quest? Can Thoeba come to terms with who Peter really is?"

The Review

This book made me think a lot of City of Angels. The interaction between humans and angels. This book really had me thinking about the battle between good and evil. What would you do if the balance was all in your hands and you had to get people to believe you to fight against the evil in the world?

This book was filled with suspense, but also had a bit of romance running through it. The story was very well thought out, with an outstanding plot - both heart wrenching and providing hope. This book had lots of action - and had my heart racing at points. I definitely recommend it if you are into celestial stories.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Dark Visions Trilogy

Title: Dark Visions

Author: L.J. Smith

Pages: 720

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Source: borrowed - but will definitely get my own copy soon.

The Synopsis

Kaitlyn Fairchild has always felt like an outsider. Her haunting eyes and prophetic drawings have earned her a reputation as a witch. But Kait's not a witch: she's psychic. Tired of being shunned, Kait accepts an invitation to attend the Zetes Institute, where she can study with other psychic teens and have a fresh start.

The Review

I am a great L.J. Smith fan, so I just took this book to read - I did not look for a synopsis or check to see what the book jacket says. I just read. And read. And read. I was quite absorbed by this story - I didn't want to put it down!! But because I was working and had to be up early - I sadly had to abandon it. I do think that it is worthwhile saying that I read it in two sittings - I just had to know what was happening. This book is great - and set in the time before cellphones which makes it all so much more interesting!

The characters are so interesting - especially Gabriel with Rob coming in a close second. Ofcourse the love triagle thing that almost happens is so very YA - but the good kind of YA. This trilogy provides you with all you need - suspense, drama, mystery, intrigue, a bit of romance... Definitely the kind of book that redeems YA series.

I adored this trilogy, and urge you to read it, as the story is very well thought out and the suspense has the ability to give you chills. I flew through this trilogy and will gladly read it again. I think when I reread I'll be able to stop gushing about how great it is and actually say more about the story. But go out now and get a copy - this is L.J. at her best!!!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

A Hidden Witch

Title: A Hidden Witch

Author: Debora Geary

Pages: 310

Publisher: Fireweed Publishers

Source: Review Copy

The Synopsis

Elorie Shaw, steeped in the traditions of the Nova Scotia witching community, but not a witch. The fetching spell must have goofed this time... or did it? Travel to Fisher's Cove, Nova Scotia, where Moira is matriarch and the old ways are nurtured and passed to the next generation. Where a crotchety old witch makes small children cry and builds walls around the silent pain in his heart. And where Elorie - sea-glass artist, inn owner, and Moira's granddaughter - makes her home. The old magics are strong here. Which is all fine and good until the fetching spell pulls Elorie into Witches' Chat. Because she's not a witch. Or at least not any kind of witch the old ways recognize..

The Review

This thrilling second installment of the Modern Witch book series sees old favourites from A Modern Witch and introduces some new friends that are certain to become favourites.

I loved seeing little Aervyn again in this book - he is just the cutest story kid ever. And then Jamie... Reading a Hidden Witch was like meeting up with old friends and catching up on what they have been up to since the last time you saw one another.

Whilst I did not expect the twist that the plot took with a new kind of magic, I was pleasantly suprised by the creativity that it takes to create a new magic. I really loved it. The effect of the happy witches in the pages of this book just made me very happy.

The triplets were my favourite in this one, with their cleverness with code in the game - and the tricks that were played! I just loved it and cannot wait to read book 3 A Reckless Witch!

Corpse Pose - Mantra for Murder Book 1

Title: Corpse Pose

Author: Diana Killian

Pages: 281

Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime

Source: borrowed

The Synopsis

Ever since her husband ditched her-for another man-A.J. hasn't exactly been on the road to inner peace. Then her yoga-guru aunt is found dead, and A.J.'s named the sole heir to her lucrative yoga studio-making her a multimillionaire, a prime suspect, and the killer's next target.

The Review

I was not sure what to expect from this - as all mystery series have their pros and cons. You get two types of mystery: you can either see through the plot or you can enjoy the book by having the truth unveiled at the appropriate time. This one for me fell into the latter.

This mystery was well written - great descriptions and so many suspects to choose from! And don't get me started on the delicious cop. This book had so many different levels to it - with A.J's background, her mother's, her aunts - this story is just so multi-faceted that you have no time to see through the plot to solve the mystery.

I quite enjoyed this one, and cannot wait to read the rest of the series.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Book Loot - December Edition - Part 2

So last week I went to PE for a spot of shopping, and got a notification that my Kalahari order would arrive last Tuesday. Also I thought I would mention the books I got for Christmas. I'll do the Kalahari order first then get to my finds at Bargain Books and then Christmas loot.

From Kalahari:

The Stefan Diaries - books 1-3 Origins, Bloodlust and the Craving. I am intrigued with book 4 - Ripper, but that is a whole other story.

From Bargain Books - the name is no lie...

I got:

The Road - Cormac McCarthy
The Mockingbirds - Daisy Whitney
The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
The Bohemian Girl - Willa Cather
The Secret Circle - Book 2 - L.J. Smith
Grave Sight - Charlaine Harris
The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

Norwegian Wood - Haruki Murakami

Christmas loot:

Atonement - Ian McEwan
Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle - David Wroblewski

The Help - Kathryn Stockett
Hothouse Flower - Lucinda Riley

Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

1. Truth Be Told by Larry King - I adore Larry King and his amazing interview style. He gets straight to the point, and does so very skillfully. To read about the King would just be amazing - and in his own words just makes it phenomenal.

2. The Language of Flowers - this book just sounds amazing. And well I just HAVE to have it.

3. The Night Circus - this book sounds very magical and it is also one that I just have got to have.

4. The Marriage Plot - Jeffrey Eugenides. I am a great Eugenides fan and when I am a fan I like to say I have read them all. Also- it just sounds like the perfect social commentary for where we find ourselves no.

5. The Near Witch - this sounds amazing - and I really do need to get it.

6. The Orchid House or Hothouse Flower - I read the galley from NetGalley - and it is so amazing that I simply have got to have it - either edition will do.

7. Freddie Mercury- The Definitive Biography. I am a great Queen fan and have always been intrigued by this amazing African.

8. Lessons in Becoming Myself - I saw this one on Oprah many years ago, and it has always been on my mind. I really really do want this one.

9. Stories I only tell my friends - I love Rob Lowe, and his life seems to be an interesting one - being an original member of the original Brat Pack - how could it not be great?

10. Decoded - JayZ - this would just be a really cool book to have - I mean how often do you have people explaining stuff like this to you?

Friday, 16 December 2011

Tris and Izzie

Title: Tris and Izzie

Author: Mette Ivie Harrison

Pages: 272

Publisher: Egmont USA

Source: NetGalley

The Synopsis

A modern retelling of the German fairy tale "Tristan and Isolde," Tris and Izzie is about a young witch named Izzie who is dating Mark King, the captain of the basketball team and thinks her life is going swimmingly well. Until -- she makes a love potion for her best friend Brangane and then ends up taking it herself accidentally, and falling in love with Tristan, the new guy at school.

The Review

I was excited about this book - I mean Tristan and Isolde is such a legendary story and a more modern take on it could be as wonderful as Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet. Did the synopsis not just have you excited? Sadly this missed out on achieving that level of awesome. Actually - and I hate being harsh - but I have to be honest - this book missed out on any level of awesome. It was just a bit tooo ridiculous and that says something coming from someone who finds other fantasy fiction novels plausible.

So why was it just too ridiculous? It was all just too much too soon. I mean I know it's not real, but don't make your story so unbelievable that I cannot enjoy it. But maybe I am being too harsh - maybe I am just not the target audience or maybe I am just not okay with what happens in this book:

1) You don't notice that your BFF is inlove with your BF.
2) You and your so perfect BF who you were planning on spending the rest of your life with like 5 minutes ago break up and you are fine with it.
3)You suddenly have magic - and it does not have you taking a beat because WOAH you HAVE MAGIC!!!!
4) Your BFF and BF hook up and you're totally fine with it.
5) Your former BF who would have done anything for you hits you for endangering his new GF your BFF and you're like "Oh well, these things happen".
6) You're being attacked by malignant magical creatures and are the secret weapon to killing the monster that killed your father - and still you are not on the verge of a breakdown?

Well, for me that is just tooo unbelievable. If this story had been written better - a bit more realistically then I would definitely rate it better. But sadly it did not live up to my expectations. I expected so much more, I wanted to actually learn a bit more about Tristan and Isolde - but I guess I should just watch the movie Tristan and Isolde to do that.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

2012 Reading Challenges

So I have been thinking long and hard about which challenges I would like to participate in 2012 - and there are just so many great ones out there that it is a difficult choice to make!!! Having said that, I already have many plans for 2012 so I thought it would not be prudent to sign up for too many. So I have decided to only sign up for 1 - The Back to the Classics Challenge, which Sarah over at Sarah Reads too Much is hosting again. I did not finish this challenge this year, but I fully intend to do so in 2012.

Here are the categories for this challenge:
  • Any 19th Century Classic
  • Any 20th Century Classic
  • Reread a classic of your choice
  • A Classic Play
  • Classic Mystery/Horror/Crime Fiction
  • Classic Romance
  • Read a Classic that has been translated from its original language to your language - To clarify, if your native language is NOT English, you may read any classic originally written in English that has been translated into your native language.
  • Classic Award Winner - To clarify, the book should be a classic which has won any established literary award.
  • Read a Classic set in a Country that you (realistically speaking) will not visit during your lifetime - To Clarify, this does not have to be a country that you hope to visit either. Countries that no longer exist or have never existed count.
I have not decided yet which titles I will be reading, but then I think it will be a fun suprise for you to wait and see next year. Sound like something that you would like to participate in? Then sign up over here.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Blogging for the rest of the year

It is shocking how quickly this year has just flown by. And whilst I have not read a number of books that I am proud of, I am just glad that I read. So for the rest of the year I will be playing catch up posting wise. Several of the books that I have read are waiting to have their reviews go up - so you can look forward to several reviews and a couple of more personal input posts.

I think I shall also share a bit more about my plans for 2012, and of course on the 30th or the 31st you can look forward to my reflective post on 2011.

For today I will be tidying up my blog a little bit - tying up some loose ends on the various pages, updating gadgets and what not. You will have noticed my new template - I find the bamboo sooo refreshing!!! Don't you? Tomorrow you'll get a glimpse of my challenge selection for 2012. I want to approach 2012 with a plan - to get more out of everyday blogging.

I'll be reading 2 epics early in the year so you can look forward to more variety next year. But for now, let me get round to catching up and ending 2011 so I can start 2012 being ahead.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

End of the year book survey - 2011 edition

Well it's that time of the year again - with 18 days to go until 2012 it is time to reflect on the books that we read in 2011. Much like last year Jamie from the Perpetual Page-Turner has this survey which makes doing that so much easier. So without further ado, here we go......

1. Best Book You Read In 2011?

This is a tricky one to answer as I read so many wonderful books - but one does outshine the rest - Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Let me just say that I am planning on rereading this beauty in 2012...

2. Most Disappointing Book/Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did?

Tris and Izzie. I expected so much more from this book - but it just was a bit toooooooooooooo unreal.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2011?

Hmm... this is a tricky one, but I would have to say Jackie O: On the Couch. I was a bit put off when I saw it was fiction - but then I was just blown away by how it portrayed Jackie, and well I just could not stop reading and was quite sad when I got to the end.

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2011?

I think I still most recommend I am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne - even though I read it last year it is still just so AMAZING how Ozzy's life was when he was younger. If you have not read it, go and read it NOW!!!!!

5. Best series you discovered in 2011?

This has to go to two series. Firstly a well established series - The Booktown Mystery Series by Lorna Barrett - can I just say WOW - I love how I have not been able to see through the plots!!! And second - a new series or trilogy - Starcrossed - I daydreamed about this book for a long time after reading it - I dreamt about Lucas - I wished I was Helen... But enough gushing - go and experience it for yourself.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2011?

I am so glad that this is a plural answer - Josephine Angelini, Lorna Barrett, Daphne du Maurier, Katherine Webb - I just adored The Legacy, Donna Anastaci. [I do notice that there are only female authors on this list. Reason: I only read 1 book by a male author - something I have to remedy in 2012].

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Unbearable Lightness: A story of loss and gain by Portia de Rossi. This book haunted me - this is not something that you read for fun - it is just too much. It is so sad that such a beautiful woman felt so bad about herself that she went to such extremes.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2011?

I have to list two over here: Gone with the Wind and Starcrossed.

9. Book you most anticipated in 2011?

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris as well as The Sookie Stackhouse Companion Novel. I am yet to work my way through all of the Companion Novel - but I love what I have read so far. Dead Reckoning just left me with more questions, and frustrated that I have to wait till 2012 to get them!!!!!!!!!!!!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2011?

11. Most memorable character in 2011?

Without a doubt - Rhett Butler. I could dedicate an entire post to him [and I think I should] - he was on my mind for weeks after I finished Gone with the Wind.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2011?

A lotus grows in the mud - this book is just magnificent. I am sad that it took me so long to discover - but I am soooooooooooo glad that I did.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2011?

Gone with the Wind - I should not have read the last page - the ending haunted me for weeks. I just could not handle it.

14. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2011 to finally read?

Gone with the Wind - I have had this beaut on my shelves for the longest time - borrowed from the library and renewed a million times - until I decided let me just get this book over and done with - but boy was I wrong when I expected it to be a chore...

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2011?

“The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud – the obstacles of life and its suffering... The mud speaks of the common ground that we humans share, no matter what our stations in life... Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one”

from a lotus grows in the mud

16. Book That You Read In 2011 That Would Be Most Likely To Reread In 2012?

Gone with the Wind, Starcrossed, Northanger Abbey, Rebecca, The Color Purple...

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

Gone with the Wind - the ending. I was just stunned - I don't know how else to put it. But no ending has affected me as much as that of A Perfect Day For Bananafish.

Aint such a bad place to be

So today is the day where I officially have my life back - after working 11 12hour days and 1 10 hour day I am beat...completely drained. So I don't expect to be back blogging till at least the weekend.

I am proud to say though that I did manage to read 1 book whilst I was working my insane work schedule - but I am not going to rant about that.

But now for something completely different...

Book Loot....

I got 6 new titles since I was last online"

One Day

I am Number 4

The King's Speech

Life - Keith Richards

22 Britannia Road

Seriously... I'm Kidding

All of these were purchased. I am expecting another shipment next week, but I'll tell you more about that then.

I am perusing a few literature courses to pick for next semester - will let you know more once I have decided. But for now, I am going to have lunch and then hopefully get back to reading Seriously... I'm kidding.

Happy Reading