Top Ten Tuesday and January Wrap up.

This week at Broke and Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesdays it is all about ‘the visuals’, so here are my top 10 picture books:

-Home for a Bunny
-There is a Monster at the End of This Book
-Possum Magic
-Mister men
-Buster cat goes out
-Fox in sox
-Pirate Pete and the Zylonites- by Wendy Milotti
-Something Horrid- by Knarelle Beard
-Elephant Elements- by Bernadette Gervais and Francesco Pittau
-Theodore mouse up in the air


Reading Challenges: January

Not much progress this month unfortunately, but I have a pretty good excuse. It is coming up to exams so for the past 6 weeks I have been studying for around 2 hours after work and at least 6 hours every non work day (Christmas included!)

So yes, I have read a total of 2 books. Reviews for Outlander and the Rosie Project will be scheduled in the next 2 weeks.

Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge

  • Outlander

Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge

  • The Rosie Project

Rock My TBR Challenge

  • Outlander

52 Books in 52 Weeks

  1. Outlander
  2. The Rosie Project

Netflix and Books Challenge

  • Outlander (500+ pages) -50 points
  • Gilmore Girls seasons 4-6 -150 points

All About Austen

  • Rewatched Austenland with a friend who had never seen it before- so much fun.
  • Jane Austen Book club– technically I read this just before New years, but my review was posted this year, if you wanted to read it.

Colour Coded Challenge

  • Red: the Rosie Project

2017 Diverse Reads Book Challenge

  • the Rosie Project: main character with Aspergers

The Jane Austen Book Club

I got this book in a recent Opshop* with questions running through my mind. Had I really not read this book yet? Didn’t I get it a few years ago? What happened to it? Surely a book about two of my favourite things (Austen and books) would be remembered!

The first chapter I did remember, and cleared up a bit of the confusion- I could have sworn that the incident described from Jocelyn’s past was from the book Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. I also remember not liking Divine Secrets but with my only memory being the passage falsely attributed to it!  I am pretty sure I read them around the same time- thus the mix up.

As I read on I realised that I didn’t remember anything past the first chapter. Sounds pretty dire for the book- either it was unmemorable, or I didn’t like it enough and stopped reading it. I have only ever stopped reading a handful of books in my life. But I liked the book more as it continued, and my overall summary is that it is a fairly pleasant read. It it based around a small group of people who meet to discuss Austen’s books. Each time a different person hosts, and we delve into an aspect of their past, or in Prudie’s case her present. This makes it somewhat like those Love Actually type movies, or a collection of short stories. Personally I quite like these movies, but prefer my books to have more of a driving narrative. There are a lot of Austen spin offs and reproductions out there, and unfortunately I find most don’t live up to the original. I love a lot of the BBC productions, and Austenland (the movie), but have yet to found a book that really captures her magic.

 

 

*second hand store for you non-Aussie/NZ readers (short for opportunity shop- cheap second hand goods with profits going to charity)

Once Upon a Dream- a twisted tale

Once Upon a Dream-  a Twisted Tale, by Liz Braswell, is a retake of Sleeping Beauty. It is part of a series, with the Disney branding, which takes a look at how the story might have gone if a key point went wrong. The first title in the series, a Whole New World, follow the political upheaval when Jafar gets the lamp, not Aladdin. Once Upon a Dream is the second book, and it asks ‘what if sleeping beauty didn’t wake up when she was kissed by the prince- what if he was sucked into her dream and they had to escape together?’

The font size and short chapters (sometimes only a few pages long) make me suspect that the target audience is probably the younger reader (maybe tweens?), but after the first few chapters it was enthralling enough that I didn’t care. There was also some psychological aspects which were quiet complex and mature- as Aurora Rose travelled deeper into her dream world, she was delving deeper into her own mind. I found myself a bit surprised at the depth that was put into this ‘fairy tale’- this could have just been a fun, interesting,magical adventure, but the exploration of Aurora inner workings was a great addition. I found myself internally feeling ‘yes- that’s how it is meant to be’ at several points.

I love Disney, and unlike some sequels and spin offs, this book was not a disappointment. I actually felt really disappointed that it is not me who gets to write this series- because the mix of fantasy and psychological it so me! If there are any Disney staff out there reading this- pick me next time! 😛

 

The book of Chameleons

Book: The Book of Chameleons- José Eduardo Agualusa
Around the World:
how obtained: kindle version ~$5


 

Angola is a south western African nation. It was under Portuguese rule from the mid-1600s until Independence in 1975. There was then 27 years of civil war, ending only in 2002. The book of Chameleons is set shortly after this, in the house of Felix Ventura, and albino man who collects books, and sells new pasts to people who don’t like their own history. The narrator is a laughing chameleon, a friendly companion to Felix, who sometimes ends up in his dreams in a human form.

A mysterious man shows up for a new past. And then he keeps showing up, to ask more details about his family and childhood- as if he actually believed Felix that the made up story was all true. The man becomes obsessed with a man living in the sewers. A woman becomes Felix’s love interest. And somehow, the real history of these people comes out amongst the made up fantasies, and purposeful misremembering.

I really enjoyed this book- it has been one of my favourites so far. It is fairly short (~3hr read), with chapters only a couple pages at times. The narrator is pleasant, intelligent and rather straightforward in descriptions for a lizard, but with a few odd perspectives and dream sequences thrown in. The story line is gentle- there is a climax, and some dark happening in the past are discussed, but it is never depressing or angst provoking. Suitable for when you are in the mood for learning and growing, and also for when relaxing on a holiday- this book is suitable for most people in most situations.

 

The Teacher of Cheops

Book: The Teacher of Cheops-Albert Salvadó
Around the World: Andorra
how obtained: kindle version


Andorra is a tiny little principality of around 79000 people that lies on the border of France and Spain. For many years, the leaders of the country were jointly the bishop of Spain and the president of France! They still are the figurehead leaders, but there is now a parliament.

This book is the only one of Salvado’s books to be translated from Catalan to English. He has written historical fiction, crime/suspense, children’s books and essays. The teacher of Cheops is set in Egypt in the time of Pharaoh Snefru. Sedum is born a slave, but through chance, quick thinking and the self serving manipulation of a high priest is able to rise to the station of a free man and palace accountant. Its main theme is the interplay between destiny and creating your own destiny- how much does the world and others affect us, and how much can we change it.

I enjoyed most of this book- with its little diversions into philosophy, aspects of suspense,and just being a very different setting to the other books I have been reading lately. The main things I didn’t like were just a few uncomfortable scenes/passages. The main one was right near the start- Sedum’s mother was a disfigured 14 year old, who had been born free but was now a slave. Another slave escapes and seeks refuge in the closed of area of the tent she is in. He holds her still, with a hand over her mouth to stop her from giving him away. And then they have sex. It is written that she becomes aroused by him holding her and wants it to happen, but at no point is anything verbalised, she isn’t asked, he has just overpowered her, they never even look at each others faces, and as mentioned, she is only 14. Going from scared to wanting sex with this stranger within a few seconds, in a 14 year old who has never had sex or any kind of romantic touch before, doesn’t ring true to me. I feel like her internal monologue was really just a way to gloss over what was happening- ‘see its not rape- she wanted it’.

But if you get past that, the rest is pretty ok. There are a few scenes with violence/torture- but I found the short, to the point way of writing about it made it less confronting than most violent movies (it pretty much goes ‘she didn’t talk. so they cut off her lips. and then she did’).