Wednesday, 19 November 2008

95. Charlie Connelly - Attention All Shipping

I feel very lucky to have been sent a copy of this book by a BookCrosser and apologise for not having read it sooner. Although some of the sporting references went straight over my head, I enjoyed this travel book very much. Connelly resolves to visit each area covered by the UK's Shipping News over the course of a year and this book is his account of his travels. Beginning with Viking, he works his way right through to South-east Iceland although he does rather fudge Trafalgar. His descriptions of his adventures (and mis-adventures) are amusing and he provides information on the geography and history for each area he visits. All in all a very enjoyable and educational read.

94. Nigel Slater - Eating for England

Having read Slater's previous book - Toast - I'd been looking forward to reading this volume. I was not disappointed although, rather than being a memoir, this book is full of little essays each covering some aspect of the British experience of food, cooking and eating. I do have one complaint though. I don't know who organised the chapters but they seem to have done so in a totally random manner. I would have enjoyed the book more if all the chapters on chocolate were together, all those on cooking together and so on.

93. Lee Janogly - Stop Bingeing!

I don't re-read this book so much because I like it as because it's the only thing that gets me back on the straight and narrow when I've been stuffing myself ...

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Teaser Tuesday

"I wondered later how long my fellow music lovers had had to wait before their received the message that 'Reverend Cholmondeley-Pottlestone sleeps with the fishes', or some such. I was up and about early the next morning hoping to catch the fish market open for business on the west quay."
Attention All Shipping by Charlie Conelly

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
Grab your current read.
Let the book fall open to a random page.
Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
Please avoid spoilers!

It's Tuesday - Where Are You?

I'm going to some unusual places this week, reading Charlie Connelly's Attention All Shipping. I've been to North and South Utsire, Dogger, Cromarty and Forth so far and have the delights of Clyde (my home), FitzRoy and Trafalgar still to come. I'm travelling round the nautical areas that make up that portion of sea covered by the Met Office/Radio 4's Shipping Forecast. I'm anticipating cold, wet and wind along with a healthy dose of humour.

Where Are You?

Monday, 3 November 2008

92. Victoria Osteen - Love Your Life

When I received this book, I was really worried I wouldn't like it. Fortunately, I did. Let me explain.

A few weeks ago, a woman from Simon & Sauster: Free Press contacted me to see if I'd be interested in receiving a copy of Victoria Osteen's book. Well, how could I refuse a free book? Which rather committed me to reading and reviewing it. Which is great - but what if I didn't like it? Of course, I resolved to be honest about it and to try to find something good about the volume even if it wasn't my cup of tea. But I haven't had to struggle.

Victoria offers her own take on living life to the full in this slim volume. Using Bible stories and anecdotes to illustrate her points, she talks about attitude, relationships and love - giving *and* receiving. She avoids dotting about from one topic to the next and the book hangs together well without being repetative. Her language is rich and evocative without being too flowery so this book is a pleasant and quick read. Each chapter comes with a set of affirmations (called 'Anchor Thoughts') which is nice although I feel an explanation of how to use them would have been helpful. Also missing is a 'Going Deeper' or study section so there is a danger of the reader thinking: "That's all well and good but how do I *do* it?" But perhaps that's something that will be covered in future work? I'll certianly be looking with interest to see if Victoria publishes anything further - she has a talent for writing and it'd be a shame not to use it.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

91. Monica Ali - Brick Lane

I'm rather torn on how to review this book. I met with friends last night, before I'd finished it, and was ambivalent then too. I felt that my opinion would be strongly influenced by the ending. And it was.

Basically, this is the story of Nazneen. She grows up in a Bangladeshi village and then travels to England for an arranged marriage at 18. Her husband is Chanu - pompus, self-obsessed, talkative, ineffectual, irritating. He is a failure. Nazneen lives with him and their children in a high-rise flat in London. She learns to submit - although it does seem to come very naturally to her and she rarely rebels - and, I think, loves her husband.

Then she meets Karim - a young man, full of life and passion. And Nazneen has to grow up. One might say that she 'finds herself' and, indeed, she comments later 'that was before I knew what I could do.'

And the ending? After toiling through about 300 pages, the pace shifts dramatically. There are lost children, riots and absent husbands and the pages turned quickly. Was 'toiling' the best word? Parhaps not - I enjoyed the preceding pages. Monica Ali is an expert when it comes to characterisation and Chanu, in particular, will stay with me for a long time. I don't grudge the time I spent 'toiling'. I wonder if I would have enjoyed the read more if there had been more drama mixed with the day-to-day detail. But more drama would have lessened the impact of the last few chapters. Perhaps the sudden shift in pace could be seen as a metaphor for Nazneen's life - hum-drum, grey and boring and then, suddenly ...

But you'll have to read the book to make up your mind.

The Year of Readers 2009

Urgh. I was nearly finished writing a (slightly) witty post for this new project when Sammy-cat jumped on the computer. Of course, this would be the time when autosave hasn't autosaved. Le sigh. I really don't have the energy to write it all out again (even if I could remember my witticisms) - it's too early and too cold - so I will give you the bare bones.

I found this new challenge. I've decided to ask people to sponsor my reading for Eco Libris.

You know, if I'd just said that at the beginning I'd of saved a whole lot of time. Sometimes being witty isn't the best option.

Sponsors will receive a monthly email (also published here) letting them know which books I've read but I won't chase people for payment - I'd hate doing it and we're all adults. Payment can be by post in the UK (sterling only) or by Paypal in any currency (sterling preferred) although I would ask that you use Paypal sparingly (save up your payments and then give me a lump sum every few months) as I'll incur fees. When I have $10 I'll donate the money by buying 10 trees.

The little extra I'm planning is that the books I read will (mostly) be released via BookCrossing thus encouraging people to read in my locale. I will pay for any BookCrossing supplies I want rather than using sponsorship money. I'll also provide the books, obviously.

I think this is a great opportunity to get Mt ToBeRead under some kind of control, help the environment, help people in the developing world and encourage reading localling. You can help by also seeking sponsorship for your reading (for the charity of your choice) or by sponsoring me. If you'd like to sponsor me, please email me using the link on this page.